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Posts tagged ‘United States Politics’

Word of the year 2013 are chosen because reasons!

The American Dialect Society has chosen its words of the year for 2013. First the other categories:

  • Most Useful was “because” when used to introduce another word, like in the title of this post.
  • Most Creative was “catfish”, when you misrepresent yourself online in the pursuit of romance.
  • Most Unnecessary was “sharknado”, a tornado full of sharks that came out of a movie.
  • Most Outrageous was “underbutt”, the underside of people’s buttocks, made visible by certain clothings.
  • Most Euphemistic was “least untruthful”, the smallest amount of lying.
  • Most Likely to Succeed was “binge–watch”, which is to television shows what binge–eating is to food.
  • Least Likely to Succeed was “Thanksgivukkah”, having Hanukkah start on (US) Thanksgiving.
  • Most Productive was “–shaming”, a form of public humiliation.

As an aside, I am surprised there were no “economy words” like shutdown, sequester, debt ceiling, etc. If this is due to them being common than I really don’t like the implications of that.

And the Word of the Year? Because… because reasons! Because useful! Because everywhere!

In a companion vote, the ADS sibling organization, the American Name Society, chose Francis (after the pope) as its Name of the Year.

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Another lesson from south of the border

As virtually everyone knows by now, there are significant threats of a government shutdown in the US. The basic guts around it is that the US government will run out of funds for daily operations as no appropriations bill has been passed (as of yet). The reason there is no appropriations bill passed is because the GOP wants to defund the Affordable Care Act, and therefore makes defunding it one of the strings it has attached to get what it wants. And there is also the debt ceiling on the way.

Do I agree that the above is irresponsible, petty, partisan, reckless, and obstructionist? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. But guess what, it is perfectly legal. Article 1, Section 5 of the United States Constitution says (in part) the following:

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

In other words, filibusters, refusing to fund the government, and so on, are all allowed by the rules the two Houses of the United.

Therefore, this means that another takeaway from the (likely) US Government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is that the rules of operation should be amended to prevent the above obstructionism and hostage-taking from being allowed to occur.

Link farm August edition

I know I’ve been inactive lately, but that is due to a full–time job that leaves less time for blogging. Still, I will try and keep posting.

In the meantime, here’s a link roundup:

  • The Texas Attorney General admits to deliberate gerrymandering. At least he’s honest.
  • The US might take steps to reduce the over–incarceration caused by the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. This is a good idea. The vast majority of people imprisoned in the US to lengthy prison sentences are for non–violent crimes like drug possession. This is a huge drain on public resources, and a huge dump of corporate welfare for the prison industrial complex. Ending it would help public finances, and prevent many young people from becoming a permanent underclass. Treating drug addiction as a medical problem would also improve public health, while reducing drug use, and ending the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs would also reduce crime and gun violence in the US.
    • It does not follow from the above that I necessarily endorse the use of drugs. The primary reason tobacco use causes heart disease is because smoking produces carbon monoxide. Smoking marijuana would produce likewise. (There is still excellent evidence that marijuana has medical uses, however).
  • Noah Smith is right. Libertarianism really is just about protecting the liberty of “local bullies.”

Shut up because the views must be the same

A guest blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy is doing a series of posts about treaties and the United States’ Congress’ powers and the ability to enforce them.

Rather than offer my own views on that subject (which is way beyond my expertise, in part because IANAL), I’ll instead draw attention to a curious contradiction among many in the religious right wrong. In concerns the United States’ Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2), which reads as follows:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The people in the religious right wrong use this section to argue that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, if ratified by the US Senate, will somehow threaten “parental rights” or homeschooling or other such stuff. (As every other country [except Somalia, which hasn’t signed] shows, such claims are nonsense, but showing why is beyond the scope of this post). In other words, they are required to believe that any international treaty overrules whatever laws are in force in the US, even if Congress legislating in that area would be ultra vires (beyond its powers).

The religious right wrong also believe that the US is founded as a Christian nation. This is in spite of the Treaty of Tripoli, which the US Senate unanimously ratified over two centuries ago. The relevant section is Article 12, which reads as follows (spelling and wording in original):

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In other words, the religious right wrong believes that treaties overrule law when they provide rights to children, but not when they refute the Christian nation myth.

Those two positions are contradictory. One cannot rationally believe both. If they truly believe that the US was founded as a Christian nation and that the Treaty of Tripoli does not apply, then they can forever shut up about the UNCRC overruling any other law and threatening parental rights. If, by contrast, they believe that the UNCRC does overrule other laws, they then can shut the fuck up about the US being founded as a Christian nation.

US Congress arrested

This is really funny:

WASHINGTON—In a stunning development that has left every federal institution reeling, the U.S. government’s legislative branch was arrested this afternoon on 23.3 million separate charges of manslaughter, sources confirmed.

Citing numerous lethal actions over nearly two and a half centuries—including negligent health care policies, failure to fund reconstruction on dangerously dilapidated roads and bridges, and repeatedly putting American soldiers in harm’s way in every armed conflict dating back to the War of 1812—authorities handcuffed all 535 members of Congress today and escorted them from the Capitol building amidst a throng of onlookers.

And yes, it is The Onion.

But as an aside, there is a kernel of truth here. The US has some of the worst statistics (poverty, life–expectancy, quality of infrastructure, health insurance coverage, crime and incarceration, etc) of any developed country. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Link farm – seed planting edition

In no particular order:

A brilliant rant

John Cole has written a brilliant post about the negative influence of fundamentalism and conservative Christianity on US society (via). An excerpt (links removed):

But from where I stand these days, the only thing I see religion doing in the public sector is gay bashing and telling women, mostly poor and desperate and in deplorable financial and personal situations, what to do with their bodies. I see busybodies deciding what drugs they can dispense to which customers, or deciding that they don’t have to issue a marriage license because of some petty deity that I don’t believe in told them to hate their fellow citizens and ignore the law. In a country in dire financial straits but still spending billions and billions of dollars on education, I see religious folks actively and openly working to make our schoolkids dumber. I see them shooting people who provided a medical procedure, and I see others rummaging through people’s personal lives to find out who hasn’t lived up the word of God. I see glassy-eyed fools running for President claiming that vaccines that save lives actually cause cancer, or that if you get raped and are pregnant, you should just lie back and think of Jeebus and make the best of a bad situation. In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused. Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals. Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.

Read the rest of it.

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