Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Last Call For Alabama Shakes(peare)

Happy New Year, as the Cotton State takes an early January lead in the Worst State in America 2016 race, thanks to our old friend Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order today saying that a ruling issued last March by the Alabama Supreme Court remains in effect and that probate judges "have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary" to Alabama's law and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 
In a four-page administrative order, Moore said the conflict between the state court ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June has caused "confusion and uncertainty" among probate judges. 
Moore said he issued the order today in his role as administrative head of the state court system. He quoted a state law that says the chief justice is empowered to "take affirmative and appropriate action to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state." 
Moore wrote that since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that many Alabama probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others are issuing licenses only to opposite-sex couples or not issuing licenses at all. 
"This disparity affects the administration of justice in this state," he wrote.

So apparently Alabama's just not going to participate in the United States anymore and isn't actually bound by the SCOTUS rulings.  Interesting.

Then again, this type of obnoxious legal foot-dragging is nothing new in American history, not by a long shot. Particularly in states like, well, Alabama.

Still, same-sex marriage just landed on top of the 2016 presidential race social issue heap, and in a big way. Ted Cruz has gone on record numerous times saying that the Supreme Court has no actual authority to enforce anything, and as President, he implied heavily that he would allow states to simply refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Santorum, Huckabee, and Rubio too have expressed similar opinions.

Trump on the other hand, well this is going to get pretty interesting, isn't it?

Such drama from the kids who have lost.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Kevin Drum asks:

Are Liberals Responsible for the Rise of Donald Trump?

And in classic K-Drum style, answers his own question with "well, let me build a terrible case why that could be right but isn't."

This is hardly a new critique. Conservatives have been complaining about "being silenced" forever. The only difference between Trump and the rest of the GOP field is that Trump's complaints are a little earthier than Rubio's or Bush's. 
Still, even if I think Nichols is overstating things, it's not as if he doesn't have a point. Even those of us on the left feel the wrath of the leftier-than-thou brigade from time to time. I don't generally have a hard time avoiding objectionable language myself because (a) I'm liberal, (b) I'm good with words, and (c) I write rather than talk, which gives me time to get my act together. But even at that, sometimes I cross an invisible line and get trounced for it. 
But for someone without my advantages, I can easily see how it might feel almost impossible to express an unpopular opinion without tying yourself in knots. And let's be honest: we liberals do tend to yell racism a little more often than we should. And we do tend to suggest that anyone who like guns or Jesus is a rube. And the whole "privilege" thing sure does get tiresome sometimes. And we do get a little pedantic in our insistence that no conversation about anything is complete unless it specifically acknowledges the special problems of marginalized groups. It can be pretty suffocating at times. 
For the most part, I don't mind this stuff—and conservatives do themselves no favors by harping on supposed PC idiocy like the "war on Christmas." But that's largely because I can navigate it reasonably well and I mostly agree with the aims of the PC police anyway. People who can't obviously feel a lot more constrained. So while I don't really buy Nichols' argument—conservatives built the monster named Trump, not liberals—I do think he has a germ of a point. Donald Trump is basically telling ordinary people that ordinary language is OK, and since that's the only language they know, it means they feel like they can finally talk again.

In the classic words of Tonto, "What do you mean 'we', white man?"

Seriously, it's like terrible liberals exist solely to give cover to right-wing jagoffs like, well, Tom Nichols, and while I agreed with Nichols earlier today, he's wrong here, and this would be the point where Drum should say "Nichols is wrong and the baggage he's trying to project on liberals is complete straw man nonsense, since nobody is actually trying to silence white men."

But Drum is pretty bad at this, so he knowingly picks up Nichols's point and kicks the straw football through a new set of goalposts which he just moved.

Amazing stuff here when you argument is "Trump is awful and terrible, but he has a point about you people."

Oh, and should you think Drum is somehow alone in this, Washington Post writers Karen Tumulty and Jenna Johnson cover the same ground this week.

In the 2016 Republican presidential primary, “political correctness” has become the all-purpose enemy. The candidates have suggested it is the explanation for seemingly every threat that confronts the country — terrorism, immigration, an economic recovery that is leaving many behind, to name just a few. 
Others argue that growing antipathy to the notion of political correctness has become an all-purpose excuse for the inexcusable. They say it has emboldened too many to express racism, sexism and intolerance, which endure even as the country grows more diverse. 
“Driving powerful sentiments underground is not the same as expunging them,” said William A. Galston, a Brookings Institution scholar who was an adviser to former president Bill Clinton. “What we’re learning from Trump is that a lot of people have been biting their lips, but not changing their minds.”

The point of this is to again turn Trump into something of a mainstream figure, just in case he wins the nomination.

Let's keep that in mind.

A Bang-Up Job

President Obama's executive actions on gun control focus mainly on tightening gun seller loopholes, and while that's something, it's not much.

The gun industry has enjoyed a significant upper hand for decades, while mass shooting after mass shooting has failed to yield any meaningful gun control. A Bush-era law rendered the gun industry largely immune to legal challenges, which makes it hard to hold shady dealers accountable for illegal sales. Online sales, now a fixture of the firearms marketplace, are exempt from most laws governing dealers. And enforcement of current laws governing gun dealers is weak. 
The meat of the executive action will try to address these problems, notably by requiring all gun sellers to get a license and conduct background checks no matter where they’re selling them. That means online dealers and gun show vendors, many of whom are unlicensed go-tos for people looking to avoid background checks, will have to get approval from federal law enforcement. But the order doesn’t specify how many guns someone will need to sell in order to be considered a dealer. 
The orders will also clarify rules about who in a gun business is responsible for reporting stolen or lost guns. In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will get new funding to hire more people for background checks and to centralize illegal gun tracking. 
The action will also require background checks for people who buy weapons through trusts or corporations, an increasingly common way to avoid detection when buying serious firearms like machine guns. For instance, former Los Angeles police officer Chris Dorner said he used one such trust to buy silencers and a short-barreled rifle without a background check before going on a multi-day shooting rampage. The White House notes that gun purchases through trust and corporations has risen from fewer than 900 applications to 90,000 applications in 14 years.

It's tinkering around the edges, but necessary tinkering.  If the goal is to reduce the number of firearms in the country, well...that's not going to happen.  Ever.


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