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Friday, July 3, 2015

July 4, 1776 - July 4, 2015: 239 Years for a Young Democracy


That image and a lot more in between led to this and much more history since:

The American Revolution (1775-1783) is also known as the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. War of Independence. 

The conflict arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. Skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 kicked off the armed conflict, and by the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence.

France entered the American Revolution on the side of the colonists in 1778, turning what had essentially been a civil war into an international conflict. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783. 

By June 1776, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, a growing majority of the colonists had come to favor independence from Britain.

On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence, drafted by a five-man committee including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams but written mainly by Thomas Jefferson (later 3rd President of the United States under the Constitution which would be ratified on June 21, 1788 (official date).



That all became effective when Geo. Washington was sworn in as the First President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789, and in the eyes of the world ever since we became and are The United States of America

Thursday, July 2, 2015

F-35 Stealth Fighter: Cost, Production, and Combat Effectiveness in Question

F-35 Lightning II (Stealth Joint Strike Fighter)


This post is related to this dramatic headline:
Military: Don't Worry if the F-35 “The Most-Expensive Fighter Jet Ever” Can't Dogfight

First this background on the plane:  
·         In 1997, Lockheed Martin was selected as one of two companies to participate in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) concept demonstration phase.
·         In October 2001, the Lockheed Martin X-35 was chosen as the winner of the competition and teamed with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems to begin production.
·         In February 2006, the first produced F-35A rolled out of the assembly in Fort Worth, Texas. Later that year, it, in development by the United States and eight other countries, was named the “Lightning II” in homage to two earlier fighters.
·         In December of 2006, the F-35 completed its first flight. Over the next few years, flight and ground test articles of all three variants rolled off the production line and began collecting test points.
·         In February 2011, the first produced F-35 conducted its first flight with deliveries beginning that very same year.
·         In 2012, the F-35 ramped up with 30 aircraft deliveries and increased testing operations across the United States. The program reached several milestones in weapons separation testing, angle of attack testing, aerial refueling training, and surpassed more than 5,000 flight hours with more than 2,100 recorded flights in that year.
Now, the source article of this post is from this story (ABC News – July 1, 2015), in part: The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive today, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”
The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace.
Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting – whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its sights or trying to evade the F-16’s mock weapons.
“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the test pilot reportedly wrote. “There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.” Now the Pentagon’s F-35 Program Office did what the actual $138 million jet (GAO report) apparently couldn't, well, they are fighting back.
I conclude that it would be great to get the whole story, and ideally the whole truth and nothing but the truth … and not from members of congress protecting their aircraft production turf, either.
Related media coverage on this subject:
From Business Insider February 2014 http://www.businessinsider.com/f-35-cost-2014-2

And this extensive chronology from the NY Times (dating back to 2011) http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/m/military_aircraft/f35_airplane/index.html

A story worth following. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Texas in Spotlight (again): USSC 5-4 Favor Woman's Clinic and Health Privacy

A win in Texas, but for how long???

Granny nails it ...

The basic argument


Definitely a good week for progressives and decent people who are truly part of the most-important words in America: "We the People."  Another 5-4 and the backlash is just starting:

BREAKING NEWS

Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics to Remain Open

The Supreme Court voted (5-4) to allow nine Texas abortion clinics to remain open while the justices consider whether to hear an appeal from a decision effectively ordering them to close.

Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito voted to deny the stay.

The case concerns two parts of a state law that impose strict requirements on abortion providers. One requires all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Read more  » from the NY Times.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Justice Scalia Rips Justice Kennedy on Gay Marriage: Unbecoming and Unseemly

Justice Kennedy sided with the liberal opinion & Justice Scalia went bonkers


Scalia wrote about Kennedy, in part about Kennedy's opening in his overall opinion which apparently enraged Scalia so much so that he went further than his usual criticism of Kennedy’s signature flowery language writing in this footnote that “... he would (if he were Kennedy) hide his head in a bag” if he (Scalia) ever signed onto an opinion containing this first sentence, which Scalia said contained “the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.”

This is the sentence that Scalia apparently took issue with about Kennedy, who is known for rhetorical flourishes and sweeping legal writing, who began his majority opinion with this broad statement: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

Kennedy concluded that the 14th Amendment guarantees the right to marriage to same-sex couples, and that denying them marriage robs them of liberty entitled to them by law. And on his way to that, Kennedy colorfully explains that marriage is an ennobling institution that bestows dignity upon those who enter it, concluding: “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” 

At that point, I surmise Justice Scalia went off the rails.

You can read the whole piece here from a National Affairs reporter.

I conclude that if Justice Scalia is so strong on this principle about the topic of same-sex marriage that perhaps he should resigning or retiring ASAP.

That seems logical to me and it would serve the nation quite effectively and honestly, too. But, as we also know, such a decision is left to the Justice to step aside or not since they are appointed for life. Um … maybe we need to reconsider that aspect of high court appointments, too, you think? That topic for another day perhaps.  

Thanks for stopping by. Your opinions are always welcome.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New York State and Guns: Be Proud Not Ashamed or Guilt-ridden


Washington, DC rated worst at #51 

 Wild, Wild West 

What the country wants (more or less)

Cartoon, but no laughing matter
(Mothers always know best)

The cartoon is right on target (no pun intended) - why? It seems that always after these horrible shootings the GOP-FOX-NRA team line up and theme song is the same: It's not the guns or the volumes of ammo or massive number of clips or over-sized magazines, etc., nay. It's the breakdown in our mental health screening and treatment of sick people who just happen to have a gun and go off the rails. This cartoon nails it perfectly.

Of course anyone who pulls the trigger and murders in cold blood nine innocent churchgoers (in Charleston, SC), or 20 innocent children in school (at Sandy Hook Elem in Newtown, CT), or 12 people watching a movie (in Aurora, CO), or 23 killed while eating a meal (in Killeen, TX), or 32 murdered in college (at VA TECH), or 13 soldiers killed at a clinic (in Fort Hood, TX) along with 42 wounded has a mental problem - but they have guns, too, don't they?

The trail of such shootings is long as noted from 1991 until now and each time afterwards, gun sales skyrocket. Why? Oh, yeah fear of losing "our guns, or they are coming to take your gun" and of course, fear of government and decent, logical, rational gun control - not taking them, but making sure maniacs don't get or have easy access to them - the question as always is how - cooperation for starters would help.

Every three seconds in the month of May alone, the FBI conducted a background check on someone buying a handgun, rifle, or other weapon. That's actually down a bit. During the recent peak, in December 2012 when the holiday shopping season overlapped with fears that new restrictions would be put in place after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, background checks were conducted nearly once a second.

What the hell is wrong, America? Really. Threat to American sanity - easy in this day and age: the NRA - I call them the National Rotten Ässhølës - 'cause they are. Reflect on this old NRA message – ironic isn’t it?


And how about this old NRA message, but since then: The gun lobby and gun industry have both run amok, as well as members of Congress quite literally, running scared.


I'm done now.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Scott Walker's Benefactor: Fox News CEO Roger Ailes — Cheerleader-in-Charge

In Gov. Scott Walker's Corner with Tons of PR Weight 
(quite literally)

The headlines are eye-catching to say the least:

A report from New York magazine indicates that FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is leaning towards Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) while at the same time having been personally involved in the FOX News network attacks on Hillary Clinton. Sounds like an old Nixon-era “dirty tricks ploy.”  Wait, Ailes used to work on the Nixon campaign. Whoops…

Ailes is to have said he “likes Walker,” who is “a ready-made FOX hero” for his Midwestern roots and “Union-busting agenda.”

Those words are from the writer of the New York article, Gabriel Sherman, also noted that Ailes likes Walker's “hardline” immigration position [that is] in sync with FOX's” (i.e., FOX has been a reliable ally for Walker in his fights against public sector labor unions, and some on-air hosts have described Walker a “sexy guy” and even he is someone who makes my toes curl. In turn, Walker advised fellow Republicans to use FOX to get their “message out.”

Nothing like quid pro quo waiting in the wings as it were, right boys? Quid pro quo is hard to prove, but with all these warm and fuzzy statements this early on and money behind Walker (the power of FOX and the Koch’s) hell, the inference lines are easily drawn and seen, don't cha' think?

My hunch: FOX and the Koch's both want Walker in office why? Because he is a dumb ass lackey (easily handled) and tailor made to their liking. That is pretty obvious to anyone paying close attention - kind of like Cheney with his meat hooks and strings on George W. Bush. Hell, even Bloomberg thinks so.  

More later, I am sure. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UPDATED: More Proof Gov. Scott Walker is a Blockhead Dummy

Not a "Koch Sucker" eh??? Think gain...
(listen to Walker here - in his own words)



This update is mind boggling to say the least about Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) who is by all accounts and most standards is: Staunchly Anti-Union, Anti-Public Employees, Public Schools and Public Teachers, a Rabid Homophobe, total Dümbäss, and now, well, just Plain Stupid:
Wisconsinites Blast Gov. Scott Walker’s Stadium Deal as Outrageous

Depending on who you ask, building a new, publicly financed basketball stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks is either a horrendous example of corporate welfare and official corruption, or a chance to reinvigorate an economically depressed city. The county held its first public meeting recently to night to discuss the proposal to use tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to keep the team in the city. The large crowd took issue with many aspects of the deal, which would sell public land valued at nearly $9 million for $1 dollar to the team’s billionaire owners, post grabbed from Think Progress.

I note: A piss poor, but classic example of a GOP wheeler and dealer (for the top): Stick it the people, while saying you are protecting the people and their tax dollars while with the other hand, giving huge tax breaks (or whatever this deal is called) to the top crust (read: filthy rich) … so, you gotta luv the GOP: They always standing on principle and and they are not very selective about whose backs they stand on to appease the top … now that’s what I call "being principled" isn’t it? You bet cha’… (Damn I don’t believe I used that phrase – smile).

Now more key pieces data on this dimwit.


Update of the following post: From the NY Times:

Behind Walker, a Longstanding Conservative Alliance Against Unions
Original post from here with this headlines:

Walker Backs Constitutional Amendment Allowing Ban Same Sex Marriage

But, first this historical background about what Walker in essence now proposes and that is to amend the Constitution and allow discrimination against gay Americans who want to marry and seek happiness.

1.  The Constitution in Plessy v. Ferguson sanctioned and blessed discrimination against Americans in the USSC ruling in 1896 that basically said: “Separate but Equal” was okay and the law of the land.

2.  That same high-court attitude prevailed and did not change until 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education ruling in Topeka, KS that said “Separate but Equal” was not okay, thus overturning Plessy.

Now, the current story: Walker who is clearly anti-everything and everyone in public life (e.g., Unions, Teachers, Public Employees, et al) advocates a back to future attitude to allow the Constitution to once again legally discriminate, here in part:

WASHINGTON -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Sunday that he supports a constitutional amendment that would bar the Supreme Court from granting marriage equality rights nationwide.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision this month that could grant, for once and for all, same-sex couples the right to wed across the country. But Walker said on ABC's "This Week" that he would support amending the constitution to protect states that still want to ban same-sex marriage.
“I personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. If the court decides that, the only next approach is for those who are supporters of marriage being defined as between one man and one woman is ultimately to consider pursuing a constitutional amendment,” Walker said, then added: “That the decision on defining marriage should be left up to the states.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in Wisconsin. Walker has said that he voted for the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality in 2006, which was overturned eight years later by the courts.  
In April, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is also running for president, introduced legislation to establish a constitutional amendment protecting states that want to bar same-sex marriage.  
Both of these men should never be allowed anywhere near the White House … they advocate very sick and dangerous change the Constitution.  

Thanks for stopping back - I am sure more updates on this man (or men) will follow. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

GOP-Run Congress: Gridlocked, Ineffective, Stalemated, Out of Step, Flatline Next

GOP Leadership: doubtful they can even spell the word...
(NSA snooping issue)

Next for GOP Congress




Update on the NSA bulk data gathering:

WASHINGTON — In a remarkable turnaround, Senate Republicans have agreed to debate a House bill that would overhaul the National Security Agency's handling of Americans' calling records (see below reference) that at the same time would help preserve other domestic surveillance provisions. 

But that move didn't happen soon enough to prevent expiration of legal authority for the programs from expiring at midnight Sunday night. Now Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 presidential contender, is hitting the airwaves hammering Mr. Obama. Keep in mind it was he who stood and still stands in the way of extending the overall program. 

That is angering his GOP colleagues, frustrating intelligence and law enforcement officials, and generally pissing off most GOPers who want the mass bulk collection left in place to “keep us safe from ISIS coming here and killing us all” (Sen. Lindsey Graham’s words – not mine) (Related Note: Sen. Graham off and running today, too).

So, the question is whether the Senate will pass a bill the House passed and can live with (see below reference), and if so, then the surveillance program will resume, but with some major and significant changes in how the phone records are collected and handled, or if not, will remain dormant?  

I think as millions of others think, this inaction could harm our tracking of any bad guys – the issue is simple: Yes, collect and act on what data is considered applicable, but NOT info on every single American with a telephone or tablet or computer.  That makes no sense unless done legally and court approved – that is the only issue.

Original Post from Here with Background on the above: On May 13, 2015, the House passed the new the new “Freedom Act” but it is hung up in the Senate now with a lot of fear tactics in play. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others want a “clean extension of the bill specifically Section 215 until 2020 and in its present form.” Opposition and fear are strong on all sides…  Where are we now?

THE QUESTION EVERYONE IS ASKING (extracts from here): “What is the impact if SECTION 215 expires or the entire thing expires and the Senate does not approve the House’s Freedom Act which lessens fear over the metadata bulk collection?"

Woe is us, I guess. Ding… please keep in mind that two other “Patriot Act” provisions set to expire if the Freedom Act is NOT passed (that deal with fighting terrorism as it were) are:  (1) The roving wiretap provision, and (2) The lone wolf tracking provision — are relatively uncontroversial and would be extended unchanged under either the Freedom Act or a clean re-authorization. (Thus some GOP fear may be misplaced).

FYI: 

(1) The roving-wiretap provision allows investigators to obtain court orders allowing them to follow a suspect who switches phones, instead of needing an individual warrant for each device. The FBI has historically said roving wiretaps are an important tool that allows them not to go dark on targets who might use burner phones and,

(2) The lone-wolf language allows intelligence services the ability to spy on non-U.S. suspects not believed to be connected to a terrorist organization or a foreign government. A pro-reform Hill staffer said that this authority has never actually been used.

Both roving wiretap and lone wolf will also be turned off if the June 1 expiration occurs. That is a real concern, more so that the metadata/bulk collection program.  Sen. McConnell and his hawks want to keep the status quo – nothing else … common sense says pass the House version of the Freedom Act and stop the hand wringing and fear mongering.

However, McConnell and his gang are not listening much I would argue: Their concerns over losing a broader Section 215 (bulk collection) are not sufficient reason to support the House-passed USA Freedom Act as they say – thus we need it all extended until 2020.

While the House version would end the metadata collection (bulk collection) program and usher in other surveillance reforms related to transparency and oversight, it would, however, preserve much of the other powers granted by Section 215, in addition to the lone-wolf and roving-wiretap provisions also staring down a June 1 expiration as outlines above. The worry warts are out in force and most argue unnecessarily.  

So, how did we get to this point? These two references relate to the story in more legal detail, extracts from them follow – click to read each one entirely: 


Keep in mind that a common premise among most of Congress if not most of the public is:

“Congress can do what pretty much what they please about anything taking a chance on the legal and public fall out later (call it fingers cross rule) – that is the can enact laws they choose and make decisions that they want when they want.” (Or, if a presidential veto is overridden).

In essence they take their chances with any public outrage or legal fallout like now and what is amazing about that is there are a lot of lawyers serving in Congress. Don’t or didn’t they know or suspect that the metadata gathering part of the Patriotic Act was illegal or should be, if so, they apparently did not and do not care even now since the Snowden leaks to the world?  

However, an APPEALS COURT weighed in this way:

In a 97-page ruling, the three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (NY) has held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act permitting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect business records deemed relevant to a counter-terrorism investigation (e.g., that Section 215 – metadata collection) cannot be legitimately interpreted to permit the systematic bulk collection of domestic calling records, as the Court said in part: “[that provision of the act] cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

I think this part of the ruling is critically important wherein the Judges said:

“We do so comfortably in the full understanding that if Congress chooses to authorize such a far‐reaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, and to do so unambiguously.” (That means in layman’s terms: If congress continues the program they do so knowing full and well it has been and remains illegal).

In summary I note and stand firm on these two points:

1.  How can Congress, any Congress for that matter, act knowing something has been ruled illegal or unlawful? Isn’t government supposed to stand for right and wrong, not the illegal over legal; and do good not bad? To pass good decent laws that are helpful, not harmful. Well with this bunch right now I have serious doubts.  

2.  Pass the House bill and stop worrying, Sen. McConnell and others. Have some faith and confidence in our system and the parts of the bill left in place, then fulfill your duties to the people.

Thanks for stopping ... Updates will follow - stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Are We About to See Further Erosion of Our Voting Rights by the High Court

Vote: If your right matters and survives the next court Ruling re: One-man/One-Vote
(we are about to find out)

This post is extensive but I strongly believe it's a defining issue: our protected right to vote - which is BTW: still under great pressure as I have posted many times. Having said that, let's dive into this the latest issue:

Eye-catching headline: One-man/One-vote Under Pressure (case pending for October session) *see more on this below.

Introduction and Historical Background: The United States Supreme Court has NEVER required legislative districts to be drawn based on the number of voters, rather than the total population of the district. That perfect sense: kids are residents/not voters; some are legal residents (and not yet citizens); some may be not legal residents, but still live under the rules and laws of the land. They have rights even if they are registered to vote, but don’t; or, who are not registered to vote, but eligible to register but don’t; or, are both registered to vote, but only vote when they feel the urge to vote, etc. They all are entitled to the same equal protections of the constitution.

What I sense in this move in Texas (yeah, the state that has talked about secession) is bogus and simply aimed at voting rights across the board plus another assault on those here illegally, but also living and working and trying to maintain some sort of dignity in America.

The high court has issued multiple precedents to confirm that total population is a permissible apportionment base under the Equal Protection Clause and nothing else.

Related Background Articles – two links:

#1:  ONE MAN, ONE VOTE (Decades of Court Decisions)
By ARI L. GOLDMAN – NY Times
Published: November 21, 1986

“People, not land or trees or pastures vote,'' former Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in 1964 in one of a series of cases that created the principle of one man, one vote.
The principle was also applied again when a Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the structure of the New York City Board of Estimate was unconstitutional. It was unfair, the court found, that the boroughs, with their widely disparate populations, should have the same representation on the powerful board.
The one-man/one-vote concept – refined in numerous court decisions – has been regarded as an important civil liberties issue, aiding blacks generally and people in urban areas and, as populations shifted, assuring representation for those living in the suburbs.
Through all its interpretations, the plainly articulated position of Chief Justice Warren about land, trees and pastures still seems incontrovertible.
Professor Henry P. Monaghan, Professor of Law at Columbia University, says that ruling ranks in the top three rulings of all time by high court and a string of decisions have been completely accepted, there has been almost no resistance. Those top three: (1) the one-man, one-vote decision; (2) Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which mandated school desegregation; and (3) Roe v. Wade in 1973 re: a woman’s right to abortion. Monaghan adds that the one-man, one-vote decision has proved to be the least controversial.  
Until 1962, the Supreme Court declined to tackle the issue of political representation and population. In Colegrove v. Green in 1946, the court said that the issue was of a “peculiarly political nature and advised that the courts not enter this political thicket.” 
But in Baker v. Carr in 1962, the Court found that people living in cities in Tennessee had been seriously underrepresented in the state legislature. 'Good-Faith Effort'
The one-man, one-vote language was first used in a 1964 case, Wesberry v. Sanders. It extended the principle to Congressional elections. “As nearly as practicable, the Court ruled, “one man's vote in a Congressional election is to be worth as much as another's.”
Later that same year, in Reynolds v. Sims, the Court applied the principle to state legislatures and Chief Justice Warren spoke of land, trees and pastures.
In subsequent cases, the Court acknowledged that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve an exact equality for all voters, but required the states to make “a good-faith effort to achieve precise mathematical equality.”
In 1983, for example, the high court ruled that the New Jersey Legislature had not made such an effort and threw out its Congressional district lines.
In general, the high court has required more exact standards for Federal districts than for state and local districts, allowing as much as 20 percent deviations from the standard for the states.
Court decisions over the last 35 years have certainly brought the country a long way from the situation in Maryland that H. L. Mencken once described as “The vote of a malarious peasant on the lower Eastern Shore counts as much as the votes of 12 Baltimoreans.” 

#2: One Person One Vote (or Was That One Voter One Vote?) 

March 18, 2013
By

WASHINGTON — With the exception of the Senate, where voters from states with small populations have vastly more power than those from, say, California or Texas, the rest of the American political system is committed to the bedrock principle of “one person one vote.”

Or is it? Whatever else may be said about the odd shapes of voting districts around the nation, they do tend to contain, often with exquisite mathematical precision, the same number of people. But not all of those people are eligible to vote. The distinction matters in places like Irving, Tex., where the City Council’s six districts have almost exactly the same number of people. But one of them, heavily Hispanic, has only about half the number of people actually entitled to vote. The political power of voters in that district is therefore amplified.

Think of it as “one person two votes.”

Voters from the other districts sued to challenge this state of affairs, and the Supreme Court is scheduled to decide next week whether to hear their case. Surprisingly, the court has never resolved the question of whether “one person one vote” means that voting districts should contain the same number of people or, instead, the same number of voters.

That this issue is still unresolved, 50 years after the court announced the one-vote-one-person doctrine, is remarkable,” said Richard H. Pildes, a law professor at New York University. “That it is coming to a head now is another constitutional manifestation — this time, in the voting context — of the dramatic rise in the non-citizen population in states along the border, such as Texas and Arizona.”

The case, Lepak v. City of Irving, No. 12-777, was the brainchild of the Project on Fair Representation, the same small conservative advocacy group that persuaded the justices to hear challenges this term to affirmative action and to a central part of the Voting Rights Act.

This that old case, “Lepak v. City of Irving” as a reminder and starting point for this new assault on the one-man/one-vote rule.

So, now, the high court will hear the case, called Evenwel v. Abbott, as that issue returns to the high court in a politically delicate question of how to translate the constitutional guarantee of “one man/one vote.” The oral argument will be heard during the court’s next term that starts in October.

A few facts:

1. Almost all state and local government draw districts based on total population. Those districts include all sorts of people not eligible to vote, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners.

2.  Were such people evenly distributed around the nation, the difference between counting all people and, only counting eligible voters would be of no moment. But the new challenge contends that recent demographic developments require the Supreme Court to act.

“Changing immigration patterns and federal policies have converted a problem that once impacted only a few jurisdictions into a national concern,” the challengers’ brief says.

Were the challengers in this new case to succeed, the practical consequences would be enormous, says Joseph R. Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who wrote last year in The Yale Law Journal, saying in part: “…[it would] shift power markedly at every level, away from cities and neighborhoods with many immigrants and many children and toward the older, whiter, more exclusively native-born areas in which a higher proportion of the total population consists of eligible voters.”

Up to now, Federal appeals courts have uniformly ruled that counting everyone is permissible, and one court has indicated that it is required. In the process, though, several judges have acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s decisions in this area have been murky and provide support for both approaches. The federal appeals court in New Orleans said the issue “presents a close question,” partly because the Supreme Court had been “somewhat evasive in regard to which population must be equalized.”

Judge Alex Kozinski, in a partial dissent from a decision of the federal appeals court in San Francisco, said there were respectable arguments on both sides. On one theory, he said, counting everyone ensures “representational equality,” with elected officials tending to the interests of the same number of people, whether they are voters or not. Counting only eligible voters, on the other hand, he said, vindicates the principle that voters “hold the ultimate political power in our democracy.” He concluded that the Supreme Court’s decisions generally supported the second view.

Even if counting only adult citizens is the correct approach, there are practical obstacles such as: “A constitutional rule requiring equal numbers of citizens would necessitate a different kind of census than the one currently conducted,” writes Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia, wrote in 2011 in the Cardozo Law Review. For now, he further said, “The only relevant data available from the census gives ballpark figures, at best, and misleading and confusing estimates at worst.”

What is the thinking of this generally 5-4 conservative court? Back in 2001, the high court turned down an opportunity to decide who counts in a democracy, in another case from Texas. Then Justice Clarence Thomas objected and wrote: “We have never determined the relevant ‘population’ that states and localities must equally distribute among their districts. The one-person-one-vote principle may, in the end, be of little consequence if we decide that each jurisdiction can choose its own measure of population. But as long as we sustain the one-person-one-vote principle, we have an obligation to explain to states and localities what it actually means.”

Maybe all this adds up to perhaps a Rick Perry “oops” moment, but I also am holding my breath about possibly another 5-4 decision against common sense and rational thinking. What about you?

If anyone who reads this is registered to vote or not – now would be the time to do both and tell a friend. What is stake? Oh, no more than our very structure as we have grown to know it – that is before these awful nasty ugly right wing attacks on everything good and decent that they advocate as good and decent. The GOP goal? Win at any price no matter who is damages or whose rights are flushed down the toilet - just win.

One word does come to mind regarding this massive GOP-Conservative view on voting: Hypocrites.

Monday, May 25, 2015

How to Engage and Combat and Defeat ISIS Now, Not Later, Now

I posted this earlier (see below post) ... ISIS to Supporters: COME ON IN ...

Good for Combat, but Not 100% Effective all the Time
(evidence on the ground today proves that point)

Serious talk about this serious issue is long overdue: ISIS needs to go. 

This very excellent link provides research on this topic - check it out here to bring yourself up to speed on ISIS.

Also, this article is the one that got me into this research on this Memorial Day 2015. That article and I are in sync on this subject of of combating ISIS.

From all my research and current events and actions regarding ISIS, and along with my personal views, I conclude this strategy to eradicate them: 

All free world treaty nations such as those in the UN, NATO, CENTO, SEATO, EU, ASIAN, or any others out there, must band together, pitch in with troops and equipment, and then engage united against ISIS for world peace and safety and humanitarian reasons in that region. ISIS is in a word, a serious threat to humanity.

The way ISIS is acting with the massive and outrageous public killings ranks #1 in horror. They must be stopped or consequences will widen to a level that they cannot never be stopped from spreading like the plague or worse, because they are. Imagine if they gain total control of Iraq or Syria as a major operating base.

Since my years in Vietnam, I assure anyone of how much I hate war. Now the "however." However, sometimes, nations must commit to war - this is one of those times. Engage and fighting against ISIS is for all the right and just reasons I can think of. 

If there was ever a valid point to measure how a nation or nations commit and engage in war, this is that moment. Again, I want to reemphasize that the effort must be on a world-wide united scale and single-minded front or nothing less. And, we must not settle for anything less that the total destruction forever of the evil scourge of ISIS.