You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

The Texas GOP has issued an apology for advocating the prohibition of the teaching of critical thinking skills in public schools.

From TPM:

The plank in question, on “Knowledge-Based Education,” reads as follows:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Elsewhere in the document, the platform stipulates that “[e]very Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”

Apparently they’re stuck with it until 2014.


The platform actually makes a fascinating read.  The Republicans there do unequivocally oppose human trafficking, which is cool I guess.  No doubt they are incurring the wrath of the formidable pro-trafficking lobby.

The support home schooling (and corporate punishment) in Foster Homes.

But here’s a twist, or is it?  They support mandatory labelling for GMO products.  And they oppose smart meters!  They oppose mandatory vaccinations.  I didn’t see anything about water fluoridation.

They oppose bureacrats (“Czars”).

They oppose D.C. statehood.

They oppose slavery reparations.

They want the EPA abolished.

They want Confererate widows honored with plaques.

They support motherhood.

They want to inform us that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.

They oppose rights for children (unless they’re unborn).

Read the whole platform.  It’s fascinating!

It was 5-4, but curiously enough, it was Bush-appointed Roberts rather than Kennedy who broke from the conservative pack.  Roberts agreed with the conservatives that to force individuals to engage in affirmative economic activity (instead of mere prohibitions) was a “novel” application of the Commerce Clause (and only Ginsberg actually argued that proposition).  But he ruled that by allowing the choice between mandated coverage and a penalty, the act is lawful by virtue of taxing power – the “penalty” constituting a “tax.”

Josh Marshal on why this is a good result even if you support single payer healthcare.

Both Fox and CNN managed to bungle the story this morning, proclaiming that Dewey had won.

Hank has some good stuff.

Republicans are pushing repeal (again).  Orrin Hatch twittered:

This ruling doesn’t change the fact that a majority of the people of Utah and across America want this law repealed. #utpol #SCOTUS — @OrrinHatch via Twitter for iPhone

Only, that’s not true.

I will have more to say later.

Addendum:  The Nation posted an excellent article on the ruling, explaining Roberts’ decision pretty well, and dismissing concerns about the impact on the Commerce Clause since this was the first law ever to mandate economic activity (usually it simply regulates or prohibits it).  And the Medicaid funding issue was explained, and I didn’t get it until I read the article as it has been misreported everywhere all day long.

The other provision challenged conditioned state’s receipt of Medicaid funding on their implementation of the Act’s greatly expanded Medicaid coverage. Where Medicaid initially covered only several discrete categories of persons, under the ACA it extends to all adults earning less than 133 percent of the poverty level. The states argued that threatening them with loss of all their Medicaid funding was a coercive condition on the funding. Seven members of the Court agreed that if the law were enforced to take away state’s existingMedicaid funds it would be unconstitutional, but the majority upheld the provision as a condition only on the funds provided for the expanded Medicaid program. It seems unlikely that states will turn down those funds. Under the ACA, the federal government initially covers 100 percent of all new Medicaid costs, and while the federal contribution diminishes over time, it never falls below 90 percent of the program’s cost, so any rational state will likely take the money and expand its coverage.

I think a few small red states might initially refuse the money, but I doubt that’ll last more than a few years.

And Nation also provides this survey of conservative responses.

So, did this decision render Obama a one-term President?  He goes down in history as having fundamentally altered the structure of the health care economy either way, and he did say the first time around that if passing a universal health care measure limited him to one term that he could live with that.  But can the rest of us live with three or four Justices being appointed by Romney?  I wish we had gotten a public option out of the deal, even though I think it will eventually happen.

I’m not convinced however.  Yes, Obama will be outspent thanks to Citizens United, but he does benefit from the fact that his opponent comes across as a dick that nobody really likes.  The polls released today look good for Obama.  But the GOP will do considerable fundraising over this, and voter suppression is in full swing in some key states.  Moreover, the ruling is likely to galvanize the Right through the summer and into the fall.  It could even have a negative impact on local elections.

And here are some more conservatives responses.   My favorite is the threat to move to Canada.

Second addendum:  Here’s more on the CNN/Fox slop-fest, which apparently the President heard first.

By the way, the four conservatives against the law – they would have repealed everything – all 900 pages, for the lack of a severability clause.

Bridges was of course the most influential Longshoreman’s Union organizer of the 20th century – certainly on the west coast.  He was also a socialist fellow traveler, and a Woody Guthrie type folk intellectual.  Ian Ruskin is the actor.   Hopefully someone at HSU will invite the project for a local performance of From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks.

You can view all five videos of a performance through this link.  Below is a sampling, although it’s really not the best sampling imo. Watch the videos.  There are CDs and DVDs available too, through the website.

Medicare for All advocates say yes.   But I don’t see anything happening while the Republicans hold a 41 vote majority in the Senate.

Again, I don’t believe that the omission of the severability clause was inadvertent on the part of the Democrats.  They had insurance companies on board as long as they had the mandate, but no way would they want the regs, such as requiring that 80 percent of premium funding go directly to health care spending, in place if they aren’t guaranteed business from everyone.  They would rather continue to dedicate 30 percent to their administration and share-holder dividends.  Only 3 percent of Medicare funding goes to administration by the way, and none to dividends.

The ruling is expected on Thursday.

On the topic we will be discussing on KMUD tonight.


America has already experienced the early stages of a dramatic economic reversal.  The reversal has simply not completely manifested itself because it is hidden by deficit spending and the financial result of the changes that have already taken place have not yet run their full course.  But a fuse has been lit and it is tied to explosive future changes in Americans’ well-being and economic prosperity that are unprecedented.  As difficult as the Great Depression was, such depressions historically occur periodically, but the next time it happens, the government is in far worse economic shape and that will exponentially magnify the economic downturns that have occurred in the past and which are sure to occur in the future.  One need only take note of five trends that make such a conclusion obvious.

There are five ominous economic/financial trends that can no longer be ignored and which individually portend danger, but it is the cumulative effect of the trends that is so potentially explosive that few Americans can even begin to imagine what the future may hold.  Consequently, normalcy bias has clouded our thinking such that too many Americans are ignoring ominous signs, in the form of various economic trends, that our society faces extreme economic reversals.  These trends are:

1. Government deficits – soon to reach 16 trillion dollars and it is projected that in approximately twenty-five years the deficit will grow to twice the size of the American economy;
2. Decline in manufacturing jobs and production (we have lost eight million manufacturing jobs since late 1979);
3.  Trade deficits;
4.  Increases in dependence on various government assistance programs; and
5.  The long-term inability to finance current social programs.

As a result of these trends, we will eventually experience a confluence of economic problems that may well overwhelm American society and shake it to its very core.

Of these five trends, the federal deficit – we have run federal deficits of more than one trillion dollars a year for the last four years – is by far the most devastating because it singularly has the potential to completely undermine the American economy and social order.  As a society, we have become addicted to debt and government debt levels have become so critical that we have created conditions wherein collectively as a society we may well be committing suicide by government.

We have allowed global elites to create an economy that is ripe for massive decline at a minimum and perhaps even outright collapse.  This economic decline will not sit easy with Americans. There are deep ideological divisions within the nation and increasing poverty combined with crushing government debt may cause unprecedented political instability. It is not, for example, hard to imagine one or more of the states realizing that leaving the union is preferable to paying federal taxes that will increasingly go more and more to simply paying interest on the federal debt.  If this sounds like sensationalism or exaggeration to you, data released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicates otherwise.

It is most illustrative to consider the CBO data regarding the national debt in terms of debt per person because it is difficult to grasp the significance of trillions of dollars since most of us have no experience in dealing with numbers that astronomically high.  Existing federal government debt per capita is approximately $50,000.  If you are married and have three children, your family’s current share of the federal debt is $250,000.  In 2008, per capita debt was $35,000. That is quite an increase in just a short amount of time and I see no way that such a debt load could ever be repaid, but what is even more alarming is the level of projected government debt.  The trend is downright ominous.

According to CBO projections, at the rate debt is projected to accumulate, sometime in 2037 debt per American will rise to $147,000.  Keep in mind that this is just federal government debt. It does not include private debt, state debt, state and federal unfunded liabilities for pensions and social programs estimated in the tens of trillions of dollars, or continued projected trade deficits.

But even when we consider the federal debt alone, there is cause for considerable alarm for anyone except the most ardent pollyannas among us.  By 2037, the federal interest payments alone are estimated at $2.7 trillion per year. To put that into perspective, during fiscal year 2011, the federal government collected approximately $2.3 trillion in tax revenue. Of course, it spent more than that due to massive deficit spending.

What really disturbs me is that this catastrophic debt increase seems to be, at least in part, caused by changes in American’s attitudes toward economic matters and debt and such attitudes develop over time and are difficult to change.  For most of American history, when our debt was high, Americans paid it down and/or the economy grew reducing the debt as a percentage of GDP.  For example, the American Revolution started the nation off with high debt, but our Founders were scared by such debt and paid it down quite quickly.  Throughout American history that was the pattern.  Wars and economic crises caused government debt, but when stability was reached, government debt was paid down.  That all changed in the 1980’s. We became addicted to debt even when times were good.  It was not a revenue problem.  Government revenues increased dramatically during the 1980’s but federal spending increased even more.  The Grace Commission was empaneled to make recommendations to stop the growth of government.  The Grace commission’s recommendations were ignored.  We will all pay the price for doing so.

The result of our collective lack of resistance to debt and constantly increasing government expenditures is that the federal government spent more money than it took in for 39 of the last 40 years.  While the Clinton Administration claims it had budget surpluses, that was only achieved by using surplus social security/medicare funds.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m posting this link to a fascinating Arcata Eye article without comment at the moment.  Maybe I’ll find something intelligent to say about it tomorrow.

She did actually get over 30 percent of the vote!

Addendum:  Okay, she didn’t really emphasize the Tea Party aspects of her belief system during the campaign.  She was actually quite articulate and seemed reasonable at the debates.  But now that the election’s over, she wants a Grand Jury investigation into whether Mark and Clif have, I guess, committed treason.  From her letter to Virginia Bass:

 “Supervisor Bass, I urge you to seek independent counsel and convene a Grand Jury investigation into why two supervisors would violate their oath of office and seek to encumber the people of Humboldt County to a smart growth document that is clearly not community-based and undermines our rights and civil liberties guaranteed by our Consitiution.”

The Mountain Democrat has bought into the theory as well.  Fortunately, Humboldt County’s voters have taken the reins from the “globe-trotting, fois gras eating hypocrites.”  Plan A, Obamacare, carbon credits – it’s all linked to a UN-based conspiracy!

Seriously.  Most green types don’t eat fois gras, but nevermined.

I was asked by individuals on both sides of a DCC controversy to attend last week’s meeting.  On June 13, 2012, the meeting room at the local Democratic Party HQ on 5th Street was filled with elected (incoming and outgoing) and associate members, and a few visitors.  Once the more mundane business was finished, two resolutions came up for discussion.  One was tabled (essentially killed I think) and one was passed with some reluctance.

It was the first such meeting I had ever intended.  I recognized some of the players.  Others were new to me.

I was told to expect fireworks.  I should say that while the meeting was fairly contentious, it was tame by Sohum standards.  There are definitely some hard feelings carried over from election campaigns both recent and remote.

The gist of the controversy is that the Committee had made endorsements for this last election, and members had publicly supported opposition candidates.  Specifically, the Committee had endorsed Cheryl Seidner, a Democrat, in the First District race and several members names (and one member’s photograph) appeared on an ad entitled “Democrats Endorse Rex Bohn.”  So apparently at the prior meeting, Eureka City Council Member Linda Atkins made a motion to toss these individuals out of the Committee for a violation of the By-Laws prohibiting such public endorsements.  A written version of the motion was brought to last week’s meeting, along with an alternative motion to “inform” members of the By-Laws and require an oath to abide by them.  I’ve neglected to scan the first motion, but the second one can be read by hitting the link below.  The preamble for each motion appeared to me to be identical.   The resolutions differed in that the second one pretty much called for a warning rather than any punitive action this time around – an option the voting members eventually took.

HCDCC Resolution to Inform Members

The written motions were brought and distributed by Josh Drayton who was in as a proxy for an absent member (I  believe that he and Conrad were in as proxies for Bob and Pam Service, both recently re-elected to the Committee).

The first motion did not even get discussed.  Someone made a motion to table the discussion and vote to the July meeting, and an individual whom must serve as the parliamentarian informed the meeting that such a motion is not subject to discussion.  It passed easily though far from unanimously.  It was pointed out that even if passed, the members would all be reinstated again at the July meeting anyway, so tabling it will essentially mean that if passed the purge would last for minutes.

Then the second motion was brought forth and the motion to table was defeated.  Discussion followed, though not before a bit of contentiousness as individuals making a point of order were accused of arguing against the motion (I’ve seen the issue come up often, and the line between an argument against the motion and a point of order calling into question whether the motion should even be made is often very ambiguous).  Eventually the discussion ensued and after repeated objections from one woman that she didn’t have the opportunity to read the motion (it was only one page, and with the exception of the concluding paragraph, was identical to the first motion – an exasperated Josh Drayton responded “it’s one page!”).

Underlying the discussion was the perception by what I’ll call for lack of better term the left wing of the Committee of a hostile takeover of sorts by more centrist or conservative (depending on who you talk to) members.  In addition to the written materials, Josh D.  (who I’m told ran the Seidner campaign and other past contentious campaigns) distributed copies of the “Democrats for Rex” ad, which included a photograph of member (and recently elected) Virginia Bass and the names of others on the Committee including Richard Marks (who has his own account of the meeting), Marion Brady, and others who are “centrist” or “conservative” depending on your point of view.

At one point Virginia stood up, clearly rattled as she viewed the motions as directed at her.  She sarcastically thanked Josh for providing a photo she hadn’t seen, and Josh sarcastically you’re welcomed her back.  As she was speaking, and my notes don’t include the specific point, someone at the front table verbally acknowledged what she was saying.  Virginia thought the woman was interrupting her as asked to be allowed to finish.  The woman in the front quickly explained herself, and Virginia apologized for feeling “a little jumpy” as she felt that she was the primary target of the motions.  While I tend to be on the opposite side of politics with Virginia, I thought she raised some good points about the tone.

During the discussion Sid Berg stood up and argued that the motion is hypocritical because Estelle didn’t get the endorsement (Estelle was re-elected to the Committee at the same time she was elected Supervisor – although the former was a little bit less of a feat considering that there were four candidates in the Second District for four spots).   He argued that anyone on the Committee should not be denied an endorsement if there are no democrats opposing her – a suggestion which drew some head shaking and a sneer or two.

There was a little bit of confusion as to the second motion as some members didn’t realize that they were arguing against a By-Laws provision which was already in effect.  A few argued the provision as if it was being proposed rather than cited.  Someone, it may have been Josh D., suggested that if they don’t like the By-Laws then they should change them, but that they should be honored until such time.  Some good practical questions were raised.  What if you endorse a candidate long before the Committee gets around to its endorsement of the opposition?  What if you give money?  (apparently, according to interpretation there, you would be limited to 99 dollars so that your donation wouldn’t be public).  What if you were hired as the opposing candidate’s campaign manager?  What if you’re actually the opposing candidate?

The motion eventually carried, but nearly everyone agreed that the By-Laws need some revision and clarification.  It was suggested that members be allowed to endorse whom they want, but not identify themselves as members.  It was suggested that maybe the committee shouldn’t endorse non-partisan positions?  It was suggested that the whole thing is outdated under the current system, which could for instance lead to a Huffman/Solomon runoff and people with both campaigns are members of the Committee.

Richard Marks had led a charge to “reform” the Committee through the election of “moderate” or “conservative” (depending on whom you talk to) members, but of his slate only Virginia won (she did come in a strong second behind Linda Atkins).

The North Coast Journal covered the schism following the denial of endorsement of Estelle.

For me it’s kind of a tempest in a teapot to be honest.  I’m not indifferent to the feelings of those involved.  I don’t know if I could personally hold down the discipline to be a member.  I value my independence and if I want to endorse a non-Democrat I will.  But then, I don’t have to be on the Democratic Central Committee.  Nobody does.  Whether the Committee is run by the “far left” or “developers” really doesn’t mean all that much to me.  I guess the Committee’s endorsement sends a message if there are two Democrats in the race, or only one Democrat who doesn’t get the endorsement.  And I guess the underlying discussion is about what constitutes the values embodied by the party – if any.  The meeting reminded me that it’s a pretty big tent – much bigger in terms of ideological scope than the Republican Party which is probably closer to a European-style political party with a specific ideology than either party has been in decades.  So do you make room for everyone?  If you do, are you watering down the values the party ostensibly stands for?  Is it contrary to Democratic Party values to support property rights against controlled growth?   You can make an argument that it’s not “liberal,” but there are plenty of non-liberals in the party even if they bolt for figures like Reagan and Schwarzenegger (or did anyway).  How do you maintain a tent for both labor and environmentalists when they are often at odds?  For cultural conservatives who are economically liberal (or vice-versa)?

The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.   I’m sure the discussion will continue into the Eureka City Council elections.  And if Norman pulls out second place in the Congressional race, expect a knife fight – within the left wing itself!

Okay, the photo above wasn’t really taken at the meeting.  But I couldn’t figure out how to use my new Droid, and the photo just seems to capture it all.

Final count has her over Clif by just under 400 votes.

I wish her luck.  I expect that we’ll be on the opposite side of the General Plan Update issues, assuming that the issue isn’t closed by then.  With Jimmy resigning right in the middle of the process, I suspect that it won’t be resolved – not to mention the inevitable lawsuits no matter what happens.

But Estelle is the winner and she has an opportunity to come up with something that even an A-/B+ guy like me can live with.  I can’t imagine what that’ll look like, but she’s up to bat with a complete change of the BOS power structure, probably with the majority (currently) leaning towards Plan D with some tweeks.


In other election news, Norman Solomon has something of a chance to overtake Dan Roberts.  The margin now is over 700 votes with only Sonoma County left to report.  Norman did best in Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino and Humboldt’s final count actually gave Roberts a boost.  There are about 25,000 remaining ballots to be counted in Sonoma County, but only a portion of the county is in our district.  Santa Rosa and its suburbs are in Mike Thompson’s new district.  We really have no idea how many of those 25,000 votes will count for the Second District.  In election day voting, Norman took close to 20 percent to Robert’s 12, and late absentees tend to match up more with election day voting than earlier absentees (for whatever reason, conservatives tend to get their absentee ballots back earlier).  The estimates are that about 9000 Second District votes remain to be counted, but that’s based on population I believe and it’s possible that because the Second District’s race was much more heavily contested that turnout was a little higher in Petaluma and the west county.  Current time estimate for the final report is Friday, but the observers think that’s optimistic.

Andy, whose views tend to be a little more conservative than mine, will join me on All Things Reconsidered this Thursday evening at 7:00 on KMUD.  Thing is, some of his views aren’t all that much different from some of the lefties around here.  Should be an interesting discussion.

The TPM headline is uncharacteristically misleading.  30 percent of the youth surveyed did not say they didn’t believe in God.  They said they have experienced doubts in God.

Still, I actually think that doubt is healthier than absolute disbelief.

The data is from Pew.

So why is the Boomer generation the only one getting more religious?


June 2012