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News Roundup – Aaron Hernandez, Edward Snowden, The Voting Rights Act

I wish I were able to find something intelligent and thoughtful to say about Aaron Hernandez. To those of who you don’t follow football, or even sports for that matter, Aaron Hernandez is the All-Star tight end for the New England Patriots. Two years ago, it could be argued that Aaron Hernandez, along with his partner, fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski, revolutionized the NFL. Most of the time, when a team comes out with two tight ends, they’re showing you their running formation. Both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are relatively fast. They run good routes and they have good hands. Suddenly, teams don’t know if the Patriots were going to run the ball or pass the ball. Injuries to both tight ends really hurt the New England Patriots last year. Right now, I have nothing intelligent to say about the fact that Aaron Hernandez appears to be embroiled in a murder investigation. All I know is that if I were a 23-year-old football star earning millions of dollars to play a game, I would do everything I could to make sure that I could play that game as long as I possibly could.

Oh my goodness, could we give it a rest!!! Every time I turn on the radio or TV somebody’s talking about Edward Snowden (here, here, here, here there’s more). Where is he? Why did he leave Hong Kong? Why is he in Moscow? Why didn’t he make his plane? I don’t care. Seriously. I really don’t care. Between today and yesterday, I was listing to progressive radio and I heard callers, on one hand, praise Edward Snowden as one of the greatest Americans since George Washington. On the other hand, another caller was badmouthing him for giving secrets to the Russians. People, get a grip. Right now, all we know is that Edward Sowden was smart enough to get a job working for some company that was contracted by the NSA. We also know that he’s taken some sort of technology. He is told us that our government has the ability to spy on us with little or no provocation. That is it. I’m sorry, I don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. I wish I knew. I wish I could get caught up in this frenzy and either erect a statue to Snowden in my front yard or to start burning effigies of him. I don’t know. Do you? (By the way, don’t listen to the mainstream media. They don’t know either.)

When I first moved to North Carolina back in 2005, I was surprised at how easy it was to vote. I didn’t need to give a pint of blood. I really didn’t even need my voter registration card. I went in and I gave them my name. They looked me up and asked me to verify my address and that was it. I was ready to vote. I did not have to vote on a specific day. I had several days, actually a couple weeks in which I could vote. It was easy. That is thanks to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, like the Andy Griffith Show, those days are gone. Today, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court earned their pay. It has been 50 years since the Voting Rights Act passed and conservatives have been plotting to kill it ever since. So, today, instead of killing the whole Voting Rights Act, they decided to simply gut the middle of it. Andrew Koppelman wrote, “The Supreme Court has a long history of declaring that the problem of racism in the United States has been solved. It did that in a series of decisions just after the Civil War, striking down civil-rights and anti-lynching laws and paving the way for decades of racial segregation. And today it has just done it again.” I agree with him 100%. He goes on to say, “The fact that things have gotten better hardly means that the act is no longer necessary. It may just mean that it is operating successfully. Ginsburg writes: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Still more, “When it struck down the lynch laws in the 1880s, the court lectured Congress on the need to rewrite its statutes to comport with previously unheard-of constitutional limitations. No rewriting occurred. There was no more Federal civil-rights legislation until 1957.”  Professor Koppelman is correct. He knocks it out of the park. To be honest, I don’t see any easy fixes. I don’t see Congress rushing to the rescue because there are enough conservatives in the House to prevent any meaningful legislation to pass. Our best bet is to take back the House in 2014. I’m not sure how we can do that if the ballot box is stuffed against us.

We are being taxed into the stone age, another myth

Conservatives have told us over and over again that our taxes are simply too high. We pay too much. Several years back I went to see J. C. Watts speak. I’m happy to say that I didn’t have to pay that much to hear him, because he was on the tax thing. I’m paraphrasing – “When we get up in the morning we are reminded that we are paying taxes on our house. When we brush our teeth we are paying taxes on the water and toothbrush. When we kiss our spouses in the morning, there is a marriage tax. We get in our cars and there is a car tax. When we fill up with gas there is a gas tax. We are taxed to death, which, of course, bring us to the death tax.” The conservatives were standing on their feet. I’m sure that some were crying with joy that someone was feeling their pain. I felt nauseated because Mr. Watts was shoveling garbage. He was mixing recurring taxes with one-time taxes. He was mixing local, state and federal taxes all in one bag (which is a great way to get conservatives frothing at the mouth but a terrible way to move us past rhetoric and towards policy solutions).

Today our federal tax burden is less than it has been since 1950, when Harry Truman was president in. The People’s Republica of China had just been formed. The Russians had just exploded their first hydrogen bomb. GM and Ford were stable companies. That was a long time ago. Republicans would have us believe that we are paying more in federal taxes than ever. That is simply not true.

From EPI:

This diminished tax burden on the wealthiest has contributed to the historically low federal revenue levels we are seeing today, and in turn, to higher deficits. The Congressional Budget Office projects federal revenue in 2011 will total 14.8% of GDP—the lowest level since 1950. At the same time that the tax burden has shifted away from the wealthy, this same top income group has enjoyed  massively disproportionate income gains.  Between 1992 and 2007, a time in which income for the average household and top one percent grew 13% and 123%, respectively, the income for the top 400 households grew fully 399%.

By |2011-04-14T11:54:03-04:00April 14th, 2011|Taxes|Comments Off on We are being taxed into the stone age, another myth

The greatest man-made lightshow

In 1962 we blew up an H bomb in the atmosphere. I’m not sure why we did this. Maybe we wanted to see if we could rain radiation down on the Russians. I don’t know. Anyway, the bomb was set off over the Pacific Ocean over 2000 miles from Hawai’i.

More of the story can be found here.

By |2010-07-05T13:15:48-04:00July 5th, 2010|Domestic Issues, Ethics, General|Comments Off on The greatest man-made lightshow
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