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Hopefully making “The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints” leaders sit up in their chair a little.
But let’s not kid ourselves, The Vatican has a lot more assets to sell in helping the poor.
The case of the Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado is one of a number of cases in which small business owners refuse to do business with gay couples on the basis of the owner’s religious objections to gay people doing things like getting married and forming long term commitments to one another.
Friday’s order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer says Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations.
It started out simply enough:
In July of 2012, the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple who were planning to celebrate with friends and family the marriage they had received in Massachusetts. The couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed a complaint, and the Colorado Attorney General proceeded to do the same, and Friday, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery.
The ACLU’s argument is very straightforward:
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
In these cases, the courts, businesses and individuals are struggling to distinguish between religious and commercial activity.
Seriously, I sometimes think humanity is doomed and then I say no, that’s wrong then I read stories like this one and think maybe humanity should be doomed. The video of the big guy throwing people around to get a deal are enough to make me lose faith in humanity.
Don’t even get me started on the lunatic crowd at Macy’s in New York.
Fortunately there’s always Damn You Autocorrect to restore my faith.
Since it was revived in 2005, Doctor Who has been a consistent hit for BBC and BBC America.
The show’s 50th anniversary special is tomorrow, so in honor of it, here is my season by season reviews of the revived series – I’m not up to tackling the 26 seasons and hundreds of episodes from the classic series. Read the rest of this entry »
The Senate voted 52 to 48 for the move, with just three Democrats declining to go along with the rarely used maneuver.
From now until the Senate passes a new rule, executive branch nominees and judges nominated for all courts except the Supreme Court will be able to pass off the floor and take their seats on the bench with the approval of a simple majority of senators. They will no longer have to jump the traditional hurdle of 60 votes, which has increasingly proven a barrier to confirmation during the Obama administration.
Reid opened debate in the morning by saying that it has become “so, so very obvious” that the Senate is broken and in need of rules reform. He rolled through a series of statistics intended to demonstrate that the level of obstruction under President Barack Obama outpaced any historical precedent.
In other words, surrendering on three judges would’ve allowed the GOP to continue obstructing the other 87. Provoking the Democrats into eliminating the filibuster, on the other hand, now allows Democrats to ram all 90 through with minimal trouble. And there’s no longer any need to try and find judges that can pick up a handful of Republican votes, so they should prove better ideologically. This will also take the judiciary from a 50-50 partisan split to a 55-45 Democratic-appointed one. And we still have another three years of vacancies ahead of us before we choose our next president.
A couple key passages:
The US elites, similarly, took the smooth functioning of the political-economic system for granted. The only problem, as they saw it, was that they weren’t being adequately compensated for their efforts. Feelings of dissatisfaction ran high during the Bear Market of 1973—82, when capital returns took a particular beating. The high inflation of that decade ate into inherited wealth. A fortune of $2 billion in 1982 was a third smaller, when expressed in inflation-adjusted dollars, than $1 billion in 1962, and only a sixth of $1 billion in 1912. All these factors contributed to the reversal of the late 1970s.
Three years ago I published a short article in the science journal Nature. I pointed out that several leading indicators of political instability look set to peak around 2020. In other words, we are rapidly approaching a historical cusp, at which the US will be particularly vulnerable to violent upheaval. This prediction is not a ‘prophecy’. I don’t believe that disaster is pre-ordained, no matter what we do. On the contrary, if we understand the causes, we have a chance to prevent it from happening. But the first thing we will have to do is reverse the trend of ever-growing inequality.
And finally this one:
How does growing economic inequality lead to political instability? Partly this correlation reflects a direct, causal connection. High inequality is corrosive of social cooperation and willingness to compromise, and waning cooperation means more discord and political infighting. Perhaps more important, economic inequality is also a symptom of deeper social changes, which have gone largely unnoticed.
Apparently, Southern Republicans governors have no shame.
When the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act was struck down on June 26, 2013, the Pentagon ordered same-sex spouses to be treated the same as the spouses of heterosexual US service members. The National Guards in the states mentioned above refused to issue ID cards to the spouses of gay service members, arguing that anti-”gay marriage” laws in the states forbade them from doing so.
These National Guard units are directly defying orders from the Secretary of Defense. But it gets more interesting:
You see, there’s a little known fact that the National Guard, while split in its administration between the states and the federal government, tends to get the lion’s share of its funding from the feds.
Take Mississippi (please). The Mississippi National Guard annual report for fiscal year 2011 shows that the state of Mississippi appropriated almost $7.8 million for the state National Guard. In that same year, the federal government gave the Mississippi National Guard $679 million. In 2012, the figures were similar: $685 million from the feds, $7.2 million from the state of Mississippi.
In other words, Mississippi gets nearly 99% of the budget of its state National Guard from Secretary Hagel, the guy they’re now saying they don’t need.
The folks in South Carolina, who have never been on the right side of any civil issue in American history decided:
. . . by telling the feds, in essence, that if they want blacks swimming in South Carolina pools, South Carolina will simply shut down the pools altogether, so no one can swim in them. South Carolina is now refusing to issue an ID to anyone, requiring all National Guard families, straight and gay, to go to federal facilities, which are not always nearby. No word yet on whether South Carolina is going to balk at providing federal marriage benefits to gay couples.
The governor Oklahoma liked that approach so much, she took it a step further:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman . . .
Oklahoma is not alone in defying Hagel’s orders. The Texas Military Force acknowledged this week that it will not allow same-sex couples to apply for a housing allowance at state-run National Guard facilities, having already turned away at least one couple. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have also refused to comply, but some states that previously had balked have begun complying, like West Virginia. A total of 29 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, but most are complying with the federal recognition for purposes of the National Guard.
It’s pretty simple. The Secretary of Defense has authority over the National Guard. The Federal Governments funds the national guard. The actions of these states is nothing more than hostility to gay and lesbian folk.
One of the challenges in managing health care costs is the way in which they’re distributed across the population.
According to the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality, in any year 5% of the population accounts for 50% of health care expenditures, the top 10% of health care users account for 64% of overall spending. In any given year, 50% of the population accounts for only 3% of overall health care spending. To put it another way, 50% of the population accounts for 97% of health care spending. These numbers have been relatively stable since the 1970s. Half the population is responsible for a negligible portion of overall healthcare spending in any given year.
Who are the 5% that spends half the health care dollars in any year? They are persons with cancer, heart disease, pulmonary disease, mood disorders, and trauma.
To put it another way, healthcare spending is concentrated on a small portion of the population during any given year. The problem in managing health care costs whether it’s at a personal level or at the national level is their unpredictability.
We don’t know which persons are going to be in accidents or be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease in any given year. In our system, even persons without insurance, receive treatment; given the massive costs of the big five, those persons are likely going to not be able to pay the bills. So they get spread to the rest of us in the least efficient way possible.
Many of the individual plans that have caused the brouhaha about their cancellation don’t meet ACA minimum coverage standards. That’s why they’re being cancelled. At a consumer level, they were crappy products – people paid for them and got little for them in return. The reason the ACA established minimum levels of coverage was simply because people with inadequate health insurance are a lot like people without any health insurance.
Fascinating article at the Dallas Observer about the influence of creationists on Texas school books with some valuable history about the contemporary religious right along the way.
Robert Kuttner’s snarky “I told you so” to the folks behind the Affordble Care Act. (Money quote: “Taking the long view, it looks increasingly as if 2008 was a missed historical moment. It was a moment when Wall Street and the ideology of laissez faire were in well-deserved disgrace and the Republican Party’s stewardship was discredited.”)
This fundraiser is a good cause. I hope some of our readers can make it.
The following retailers have killed Thanksgiving for their employees and families. Don’t let them kill your holiday, too.
- Old Navy
- Office Max
- Best Buy
- Toys R Us
- J.C. Penney
The good news is that Costco, Nordstrom, REI, Burlington Coat Factory, and other companies are refusing to ruin Thanksgiving.
And don’t forget: Friday, November 29 is “Black Friday,” aka Buy Nothing Day. A good day to take a day off from shopping, or visit a locally-owned business. Feel free to laugh at those idiots freezing on line in a parking lot to get an XBox.
I’m sure some very smart person has written about this topic and I didn’t see it. What the heck, I’ll plunge boldly ahead.
Manuel Castells’ three volume study The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture includes a section, in volume two, The Power of Identity, discussing the militia movement. Castells discusses the ideology, values and roots of the militia movement. The following are quotes from The Power of Identity: Read the rest of this entry »