May 6, 1882: Race and immigration policy collide

May 6, 2014

Today is the anniversary* of our nation’s first** law generally governing immigration.

It’s a history we should work to change, to put behind us, to move away from.

Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the United States for 10 years.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 – National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 – National Archives

We cannot paint over this part of history.  The Chinese Exclusion Act was racist in intent, and racist in content.

What should we learn from it?  Among justifications for the law were claims that immigrants from China were taking jobs from citizens, especially in California.  Chinese workers imported to build the Transcontinental Railroads sought new employment once the routes were built.

Reality probably differed a lot.  Chinese entrepreneurs, with money they had earned working on the railroads, established news businesses.  Yes, a lot of Chinese were getting jobs.  They were mostly new jobs, in new businesses, boosting the economy and creating more jobs.  That came to an almost-screeching halt.

Did America learn?  This law was renewed, then made permanent — not really fixed until World War II, when China was an ally in the War in the Pacific, against Japan.  Even then, it wasn’t a good fix.

The law was repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 during World War II, when China was an ally in the war against imperial Japan. Nevertheless, the 1943 act still allowed only 105 Chinese immigrants per year, reflecting persisting prejudice against the Chinese in American immigration policy. It was not until the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated previous national-origins policy, that large-scale Chinese immigration to the United States was allowed to begin again after a hiatus of over 80 years.

Can we learn from this history, for immigration reform now? Santayana’s Ghost wonders.

How much is resistance to immigration reform based on racism, the sort of racism that kills the U.S. economy?

The Chinese Exclusion Act proved to be an embarrassment for Uncle Sam:  “A Skeleton in His Closet,” by L.M. Glackens, published in Puck magazine on Jan. 3, 1912. Uncle Sam holding paper “Protest against Russian exclusion of Jewish Americans” and looking in shock at Chinese skeleton labeled “American exclusion of Chinese” in closet. Image from NorthwestAsianWeekly.com

The Chinese Exclusion Act proved to be an embarrassment for Uncle Sam: “A Skeleton in His Closet,” by L.M. Glackens, published in Puck magazine on Jan. 3, 1912. Uncle Sam holding paper “Protest against Russian exclusion of Jewish Americans” and looking in shock at Chinese skeleton labeled “American exclusion of Chinese” in closet. Image from NorthwestAsianWeekly.com

____________

*    I note the image says it was approved by President Chester Alan Arthur (who had succeeded to office after President James Garfield was assassinated a year earlier).  The New York Times calls May 6 the anniversary of Congress’s passing the law; if Arthur signed in on May 6, it was probably passed a few days earlier.  May 6 would be the anniversary of its signing into law.

**  The Chinese Exclusion Act was preceded by the Page Act of 1875, which prohibited immigration of “undesirable” people.  Who was undesirable?  “The law classified as undesirable any individual from China who was coming to America to be a contract laborer, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country.”  It was not applicable to many immigrants.  The Page Act was named after its sponsor, Rep. Horace F. Page of California.

This is based on, and borrows from, an earlier post at MFB.

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Insta-Millard: Unemployment benefits boost would cost $6 billion — hella bargain

December 31, 2013

Throw a device to keep people afloat in the economy, and life?

Throw a device to keep people afloat in the economy, and life?

Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the bill proposed to extend long-term unemployment compensation for another three months.  Bottom line, CBO says it will increase deficits by about $6.4 billion.

S. 1845, The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

S. 1845 would extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for three months—through March 31, 2014. The EUC program allows qualified states to provide up to 47 additional weeks of federally funded unemployment compensation to people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

Heckuva bargain.  Let’s do it.  Call your Member of the House of Representatives, tell her or him to pass this law.

Payments to people who need money tend to put them to work, boost the economy, and make later aid unnecessary.  But who listens to economists or historians any more?

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USDA details damage GOP refusal to pass farm bill has on America — but politely

December 19, 2013

The case for a farm bill that we won’t get before January; press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (some links, and all images, added here).

Public relations campaigns from the federal government used to be quite a bit more robust than this.

USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

FACT SHEET: Supporting Innovation That Boosts Agriculture and Creates Jobs in Rural America

Farm south of Withee, Wisconsin. Wikipedia image

Farm south of Withee, Wisconsin. Wikipedia image


Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a national media call with Jack Payne, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida. The Secretary emphasized the importance of Farm Bill research programs that enable the University of Florida and other Land Grant Universities across the nation to carry out groundbreaking discoveries, strengthen agriculture and grow business opportunity in rural America. Secretary Vilsack called on Congress to expedite passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that continues record efforts to spur innovation and create jobs across rural America.

Amazing scientific breakthroughs have helped our farmers, ranchers and growers increase production on the same amounts of land, using fewer inputs. In fact, studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to the economy.

Advanced new products are being created across the country using materials grown in America’s farm fields – with more than 3,000 U.S. companies creating advanced biobased products today.

And clean, renewable fuel energy and new energy efficiency technologies are helping families and businesses across the nation, reducing our reliance on foreign oil.

A farm in California; photo by karmadude

A farm in California; photo by karmadude

USDA is hard at work to support all of these efforts – and we depend on the Farm Bill to make possible much of our work to boost rural innovation. A new Farm Bill would:

  • Modernize and expand America’s capacity for agricultural research. The Farm Bill would enable public-private funding efforts to expand capacity for agricultural research, returning even more benefits to the economy.
  • Adequately invest in energy-saving efforts such as the Rural Energy for America Program, enabling even more projects to save energy on farms across the nation. Since 2009 alone, these projects have resulted in energy savings of more than 8.5 million MwH – but a new Farm Bill is needed for further progress.
  • Continue the work of the USDA BioPreferred Program, which depends on the Farm Bill to work with biobased companies across the nation, expand the Federal government’s use of their innovative products and ultimately create jobs.
  • Maintain support for research into wood-based products and energy. With a record level of forest restoration underway today, we need a Farm Bill that continues research and helps find new uses for forest-based products.

A Farm Bill would continue advances in agricultural technology that allow today’s producers to grow two, three of four times as much today as they were just 60 years ago. In the past few years alone:

  • USDA scientists have developed new techniques in the fight against Citrus Greening, a disease that seriously threatens citrus crops. Just this week, USDA announced a new Emergency Response Framework and provided $1 million to boost this multi-partner, coordinated strategy to fight Citrus Greening.
  • Researchers have mapped the genomes of numerous plants and animals in the past five years. This year, USDA made new discoveries into the genetic makeup of cotton, oats and watermelon. This builds on research efforts that have mapped the genomes of apples, pigs, turkeys, tomatoes, beans, and more.
  • Scientific discoveries have improved crop varieties to keep food safer and mitigate climate impacts. USDA has recently explored the use of peanut skins as a food ingredient to boost the nutritional value of foods; pinpointed ways to prepare beef cuts to reduce the risk of contamination with the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7; produced new, flavorful, high-yielding varieties of strawberries, grapes, pecans and peanuts; and worked to improve drought-resistance crop varieties.

A Farm Bill would allow the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to continue work with Land-Grant University researchers across the nation to conduct research and train the next generation of scientists.

  • Since 2009, NIFA has invested more than $6 billion in agricultural research and extension activities. This funding was possible largely through programs authorized under the Farm Bill. NIFA partners have used this help to leverage more than $1 billion in additional research dollars.
  • Nearly 400 patent applications have resulted from NIFA research since 2009 – covering a wide range of topics and discoveries.
  • Over the course of more than 150 years of history, Land-Grant Universities have educated more than 20,000,000 students.

A Farm Bill would support the invention and creation of innovative new products from homegrown sources. Thanks to the USDA BioPreferred Program, provided by the Farm Bill:

  • More than 1,000 products today carry USDA’s “ Certified Biobased Product” label. Thanks to the new label, these innovative, American-made products are easier to find on store shelves than ever before – everything from cleaners and paint to motor oil.
  • Nearly 100 separate categories of homegrown biobased products are prioritized for use by the Federal Government. Today, Yellowstone National Park uses biobased lubricants and cleaning products throughout its 2.2 million acres. At the Statue of Liberty, biobased hydraulic oils are used in the elevator system. Multiple U.S. military bases across the nation are using biobased products. And there is further room for growth.
  • Researchers at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory are revolutionizing wood products for use in materials we need. Body armor, auto parts and new building materials are being developed using homegrown products – and in many cases, they’re stronger and better than what we use today.

A new Farm Bill would continue advancing clean renewable energy that starts in rural America – creating jobs and boosting America’s energy security.

  • More than 9,250 renewable energy projects are underway today as a result of USDA help in the past five years, helping farmers and landowners install new energy-saving technology, along with energy generation tools such as anaerobic digesters.
  • Eight advanced biorefineries are creating the advanced renewable energy of the future, today. USDA was there to support their creation through loan guarantee efforts provided by the Farm Bill.
  • More than 220 Wood to Energy projects are helping find new uses for wood in renewable energy generation. This will provide even more market opportunities for wood byproducts generated during forest restoration, and ultimately will provide a new income sources in rural areas.
  • The U.S. Navy and others have partnered with USDA to create renewable energy to power our military. In fact, the military is our single largest consumer of petroleum – and by creating advanced renewable marine and aviation biofuels, we’re working together to increase America’s energy security. This week, Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced a new Department of Defense Farm to Fleet Initiative that will further improve America’s capacity to create military-ready advanced biofuels.

American innovation is one of our most special traditions. Rural America has the capacity to help lead the way to even more amazing work in the years to come – creating good jobs and economic opportunity in the process. But we need Congress to get its work done and provide a new Farm Bill that recommits our nation to strong agricultural research, and continued development of amazing homegrown products.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Building, Washington, D.C.  Image from Thornton Thomasetti

Where the policies get made and programs are administered, U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Building, Washington, D.C. Image from Thornton Thomasetti

Number of Biobased Companies Operating in the United States

A map of U.S. biobased companies is available here.

States/Biobased Companies

  • Alabama – 16
  • Alaska – 5
  • Arizona – 54
  • Arkansas – 17
  • California – 391
  • Colorado – 79
  • Connecticut – 40
  • Delaware – 9
  • Dist of Columbia – 2
  • Florida – 161
  • Georgia – 92
  • Hawaii – 11
  • Idaho – 16
  • Illinois – 173
  • Indiana – 46
  • Iowa – 92
  • Kansas – 28
  • Kentucky – 21
  • Louisiana – 11
  • Maine – 22
  • Maryland – 36
  • Massachusetts – 73
  • Michigan – 80
  • Minnesota – 124
  • Mississippi – 21
  • Missouri – 56
  • Montana – 10
  • Nebraska – 29
  • Nevada – 14
  • New Hampshire – 25
  • New Jersey – 90
  • New Mexico – 17
  • New York – 151
  • North Carolina – 90
  • North Dakota – 6
  • Ohio – 138
  • Oklahoma – 9
  • Oregon – 79
  • Pennsylvania – 129
  • Rhode Island – 8
  • South Carolina – 19
  • South Dakota – 12
  • Tennessee – 35
  • Texas – 167
  • Utah – 14
  • Vermont – 11
  • Virginia – 57
  • Washington – 111
  • West Virginia – 3
  • Wisconsin – 95
  • Wyoming – 8

Total – 3003

Source: USDA BioPreferred Program

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

#

Listening to the debates on Capitol Hill, one may wonder whether Members of Congress still employ staffers to track agriculture issues in their states and districts, to translate local needs into federal policy.  To what entity are Congress members loyal, with more allegiance than they owe their American constituents?

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Obama already negotiated; GOP taking hallucinogens? (Again?)

October 8, 2013

Oh, Speaker Boehner forgot to mention that.

 

http://bit.ly/GE9nzF 

pic.twitter.com/8N4bG4GFHY


‘My right NOT to know, and your right to duck my bullets’

April 16, 2013

I like Morgan Freeberg — he’s entertaining.

Politically, he’s rarely right, and he’s definitely afflicted with that virus that strikes conservatives and makes them feel that if they can cover a topic with enough words, and if there is enough snark in those words, they must be right, and everyone else is a fool for not seeing that and making them king.  Or at least a local lord.  You can see this on display at his blog, The House of Eratosthenes.

Morgan waded into the discussion on some of our less thoughtful U.S. Senators, who think a good reason to filibuster a bill is they can’t find their own ass with both hands a copy of the bill they just know they will oppose, before they know what’s in the bill (no bias here).

Specifically, Morgan’s defending Sen. Marc Rubio’s right not to know what’s in the compromise reached by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, because Morgan just knows that those two libruls from those two gun-hating states have put in language on ammunition magazines that will deprive crazy shooters of their sport in shooting babies somehow might “infringe” on the actual ownership of the gun.

I answered in a previous thread — but this really should get more discussion, and perhaps if I make a post out of it, someone will discuss.

This is the post — I won’t put all of it in quotes, to make it a bit easier to read (and I may add a link here and there):

Morgan said:

Alright. First, if you’re trying to make this look like “reasonable” or “common sense” gun “safety” legislation as they call it, it’s a good idea to stay away from this capacity-limitation stuff. To swap out a magazine — not clip — I don’t need eleven seconds, I don’t need half that. I’m not anywhere close to James Bond, or Barney in The Expendables…I merely maintain familiarity and confidence/competence with my sidearm. If I can do it in two seconds, a lot of other people can as well. So you’re counting on a payoff there that you’re not getting. The whole magazine-capacity thing is not only a distraction, it actually highlights for the benefit of the knowledgeable public which loudmouth legislators ought not to have anything to do with gun legislation, or guns either.

Helluva distraction. There’s no such proposal, but you’re so bugged about it you can’t argue straight.

English: Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Pat Too...

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate Pat Toomey addresses protestors at the Philadelphia Tea Party on April 18, 2009. (He won) Wikipedia image

Maybe we’re being sneaky. Maybe we’re getting you all worked up over something not in the bill so you’ll have a heart attack and be unable to lobby your senators to go easy on baby killers.

Or maybe you guys can’t read. Can’t, won’t, doesn’t make much difference — you’re so sure of your position you not only damn the facts, you damn the existence of the facts and the non-existence of the hoodoos you fear.

Here, tell this guy he got it wrong; you’re barking up a tree on the wrong side of the ocean here: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/powerful-argument-for-limiting-bullets-in-a-clip-colorado-sen-mike-johnston-pleads-to-give-victims-a-chance-to-escape/

[Here’s the video at that post:]

Morgan wrote:

It comes down to this: A gun has a certain number of bullets with which it can be loaded, before it becomes an instrument of death — that number is one. Whoever isn’t familiar with that, should be escorted off the range.

Think of all the gun ranges put out of business if we did that!

Of course, that is a comment on the mechanics; as far as process goes, the number is zero, since one of the basic rules of guns safety is “the gun is always loaded.”

I don’t think a crazy guy should be allowed to pump out 150 soldier-killer bullets in 5 minutes, with most of them going into the heads and faces of more than a score of 6-year-old kids. You seem to think that is such a sacred right that we . . . well, I don’t know what you propose.

You seem to think that forcing crazy men to reload is unfair. I think you’re not being fair to those six-year-old kids.

The evidence in Newtown is that the one reload he did took 11 seconds, and a teacher got 11 kids out of the school, to safety, in that time.

It took him five shots to blast through the safety lock on the door — had he been limited to five-round clips, he’d have been out of ammo in one gun just getting through the door.

I cannot imagine why you think we can’t be fair to six year old kids, but we must give crazy men more than a sporting chance to murder 20 unarmed people. I think my rights would be safer if I didn’t go with your defense of the crazy man’s rights.

Now, is it technically impossible to limit the rounds and reduce the carnage? Not according to the record.

Facts are stubborn things. That old John Adams sure got that right.

If I were Sen. Rubio, considering for the moment supporting this gun “safety” bill, and decided to read it all the way through, I’d change my mind and oppose it the first time I saw something about magazine capacity limits, because that would tell me someone wrote it without knowing anything about how guns are supposed to be treated around a public that we don’t want to be hurt by them. Which is the subject of the bill.

We know you’re not going to read the bill, just like Rubio hasn’t. He has a sort of duty to read it — but you’re so cock sure that you’re smarter than every other guy in the country and that you can see the future before God, you can’t be bothered to read even the quick summary of the bill.

It pains me when you reinforce all the stereotypes of the right-wing, can’t-tell-me-nuthin’ nuts, Morgan. If you’re going to pretend to be thoughtful, at least read the stuff, will you?

English: Gustave Doré: Don Quijote de La Manch...

Gustave Doré drawing: Don Quijote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863 Wikipedia image

You’re so cock-sure that there would be a crazy proposal of the type you fear that you can’t be bothered to read the bill and see that there’s nothing at all like it. Worse than Don Quixote tilting at windmills, you’re shooting at windmills that are not dragons, but behind which children were playing a few minutes ago. See, Quixote was harmless with his lance. Facts again: Guns are not lances.

Sometimes it’s not the things we don’t know that gets us into trouble, but the things we know, that are wrong. It’s not the target practice of the safe and sane occasional hunter that gets gun ownership questioned, it’s the crazy shooting at dragons that don’t exist, in schools and theaters and workplaces, where real people do exist.

Second. The Constitution guarantees me certain God-given rights, which supposedly nobody can take away from me, and I wouldn’t be able to discard even if I wanted to. Conservatives and liberals would agree — with different examples in mind — that We The People have lately encountered considerable difficulty electing representatives who will truly protect these rights.

Quite to the contrary, we’ve succeeded in electing nuts who are so dedicated to protecting those rights, they’ll go overboard to be sure that anything even close to resembling a right of a white male with a gun cannot be regulated rationally. Rex Tillerson‘s right to pour oil in every backyard in Arkansas is defended, Rep. Joe Barton apologizes to the white guys who run BP for all those Cajuns’ having put their Gulf of Mexico where BP could pollute the hell out of it. A white guy wants sex, well, some women “rape easy,” “they’re just good-time-lovin’ football players and football is an American game,” and if he’s an Army or Air Force officer, his superior will dismiss the rape charges. Jeremy Dimon gets to keep his freedom, and all the money banks stole from black families put out of their homes in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles because his bank and his cronies’ banks screwed up the mortgages.

And if you want to shoot up a theater, or a school, and kill a bunch of unarmed people — well, you know, that’s a right, right?

I cannot imagine what rights you think are not defended, for white males.

Right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Right to quiet enjoyment? Right to be free from assault and battery? Right not get life-saving and cheap medical care for your kid? Right not to have to bury your kid as child? Not all rights are enumerated rights. You seem to miss some of the more important ones, when we get right down to it.

Now, if one worries about rights for anyone of color, or rights of children to health care or education, or rights of women to fair pay — well, none of those people are mentioned in the Constitution, are they? They all look like Dred Scott, to a Congress of white males.

In view of that, I like the idea of a Senator who made up his mind to oppose a gun bill before reading all of it (your headline would imply that he hasn’t read any of it, which is not substantiated by your story).

I see no evidence Rubio wasn’t telling the truth — and Cruz is probably too stupid to understand it, so I believe him when he says he can’t even find the bill that was placed in the middle of his desk on March 22. I swear that guy puts an icepick over his left eyeball every night he can.

This would be in keeping with his oath to uphold the Constitution: If the bill has something that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, out it goes.

There is nothing in the Constitution which says anyone has to be an inadequate anal orifice. You’re reading it wrong.

Or have you even read it? You haven’t read the gun control bill. Why should you read the Constitution?

In reality, there is nothing in the Constitution that says any Member of Congress must be a roadblock, or should be a roadblock, nor that there should be any roadblocks at all. Filibustering is not a Constitutional right — not mentioned in any way.

After all, there is a period-end-of-sentence after the word “infringed.” It doesn’t say “shall not be infringed, unless something really spiffy is written that makes the infringing seem like a swell idea.”

Funny how you can completely miss the first 13 words of the Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” There are only 27 words in the amendment; you worry about punctuation while completely missing 48% of the text. That rounds to 50%.

But, you don’t read. I forgot. As with most conservatives, you think you know what is in a text without reading it, predudging it from . . . well, prejudging it, anyway.

“Prejudge” isn’t related to “prejudice” in the conservative dictionary, anyway.

This is the way I want ALL guarantees to me, or to anybody else, to be enforced. I want my renter’s insurance to be enforced this way. I want my employment contracts to be enforced this way. It’s only fair.

Can you do what no other gun rights advocate has done, Morgan?

Tell us what infringement there would be if you had to limit your automatics, semi-automatics, or single shots, to a five-bullet magazine. How would that, in any way, infringe on your right to keep arms, or bear them?

After you stumble over that one, tell us how it affects your right at all to fill out a form that lets a gun seller figure out whether you’re being straight about not being a felon, and not being a crazy shooter, and not fronting for a crazy shooter or felon.

How does filling out a form to make sure you’re legal, infringe on your right to keep and bear arms? There’s nothing in that amendment that says you can keep your gun ownership or bearing secret — in fact, in many states, keeping a gun concealed is a crime (without a permit).

Tell us how anyone’s rights are infringed by those common sense proposals, one of which isn’t even being proposed.

If I submit a form to the Social Security Administration, or to the IRS, or to some state agency like the DMV, and the form has 88 blocks in it and I botched something somewhere around the 8th or 9th block, it would be patently absurd for me to stand there and berate the DMV clerk who rejected it with “Why didn’t you read blocks ten through eighty-eight?? What am I paying you to do with your time??”

So you won’t do that anymore? That’s good news. I hope it’s a movement, and it catches on.

Aggravating as the situation would be, such a reaction would be very silly…because once the 8th or 9th block is screwed up, it’s an invalid form, and even though blocks 10 through 88 may be loaded with wonderfully accurate information, in context it’s still a bunch of nonsense until they’re copied on to another form that has been filled out PROPERLY. So reading them would actually be an inappropriate use of that time that I bought through my tax money by paying the clerk’s salary. Well, if that’s true of clerks, it’s certainly true of Senators, who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.

I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Your paying your taxes is not similar in any way your elected representatives’ lying to you about whether they read bills or not, and using the pretense that they’ve not seen what they know is in the bill, to block the majority from even debating what is the best thing for the nation.

In their constitutional duty to represent you, they don’t have the right to boldly lie about what they’re doing for demagogue points.

It’s not illegal, but it’s dishonest, disgusting, and unpatriotic. It doesn’t represent you well — at least, I don’t think that you’re so corrupt that you can only get by by lying through your teeth and making phony excuses.

Sorta like enforcement of a lease — lying through your teeth about the rent isn’t a good idea, regardless you’re the tenant or the landlord.

Why am I having to explain the above?

Because you’re trying to defend ugly skullduggery on a bill you don’t know much about?

Because you sank all of your retirement funds into a gun manufacturer, and you just realized that rational gun laws might take that gold mine away? Because you’re a conservative, and these days that means “so congenitally unable to tell the truth that, when a conservative shoots a hole-in-one on the golf course, he writes ‘0’ on the score card?”

I don’t know.

You’re doing a great job of supporting one of my pet theories, that liberals are people who haven’t actually had to deal with the bureaucracies their ideas create.

And you’re providing ample support for a couple of hypotheses I’ve wished didn’t need to be tested: One, that conservatives really DON’T know what a theory is, especially contrasted to hypotheses; two, that conservatives can’t be bothered to read the book, or the law, or the proposal, or anything else that might inform their arguments, probably out of fear they’ll realize their prejudices are wrong; three, that conservatives really like rules, out of their defense of “traditional” life and “order” — but they think the rules never apply to themselves or their supporters; and four, that the fact that the conservative position is correct should be so self-evident, no matter how half-wit or knuckleheaded the idea, that conservatives will never stoop to actually arguing the issues — keep John Walsh and Candy Lightner far away from conservatives, because they have no real defense for why we treat automobiles as more valuable than children or why we never stick to our guns about criminalizing drunk drivers who kill, especially repeatedly — and so, keep the parents of the Newtown victims far away from Washington, and demonize them as soft-on-crime, anti-patriotic, anti-Constitution liberal fuzzy heads, so we don’t have to look them in the eye and explain why we’re voting to defend the right of the idiot to shoot their children without cause, justification, warning, remorse or chance for retribution.

What’s more important, overarming people (the better to reduce the population), or keeping kids alive? (“We secretly hate children, which is why everyone of our policies is designed to make childhood difficult, cripple children educationally, mentally or physically, or kill them.”)

I do have to say though, I can see an upside to having it work the way you want…it would give me great pleasure, when I fill out a form wrong, to throw a hissy fit about “why didn’t you read the rest of my form?” But realistically, of course there’s no way it can work like that.

I thought you just had a mental burp — but now I see you’re on some tear about filling in forms incorrectly.

What difference could that possibly make?

Apparently there’s another trait of conservatives: The tendency to dissolve into irrelevant rants, instead of facing up to real problems, and making hard decisions about real solutions.

They weren’t your kids anyway, right?

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Shutup and read: Text of S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

April 11, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz claims no one has read the text of S. 649, the Safe Communities and Safe Schools Act of 2013.

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

Reading-impaired U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wikipedia image

Contact: (202) 224-5922 / press@cruz.senate.gov
Thursday, April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation:

This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.

Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.

He’s an idiot, I know.

Amendments to the original text are pending — but here is the text of the proposed law as introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 22; amendments will be available at several places as they are proposed or approved, including the Library of Congress’s Thomas legislative tracking site.

Sen. Toomey published a quick summary of the bill as amended — this is what Cruz really fears:  Legislation that might make public schools safer (never forget Cruz opposes public education):

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, in a committee hearing room; photo released by Toomey’s office

Bottom Line: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales.

The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national firearms registry, and imposes serious criminal penalties (a felony with up to 15 years in prison) on any person who misuses or illegally retains firearms records.

TITLE ONE: GETTING ALL THE NAMES OF PROHIBITED PURCHASERS INTO THE BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM

Summary of Title I: This section improves background checks for firearms by strengthening the instant check system.

• Encourage states to provide all their available records to NICS by restricting federal funds to states who do not comply.

• Allow dealers to voluntarily use the NICS database to run background checks on their prospective employees

• Clarifies that submissions of mental health records into the NICS system are not prohibited by federal privacy laws (HIPAA).

• Provides a legal process for a veteran to contest his/her placement in NICS when there is no basis for barring the right to own a firearm.

TITLE TWO: REQUIRING BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARM SALES

Summary of Title II: This section of the bill requires background checks for sales at gun shows and online while securing certain aspects of 2nd Amendment rights for law abiding citizens.

• Closes the gun show and other loopholes while exempting temporary transfers and transfers between family members.

• Fixes interstate travel laws for sportsmen who transport their firearms across state lines in a responsible manner. The term “transport” includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, buying fuel, vehicle maintenance, and medical treatment.

• Protects sellers from lawsuits if the weapon cleared through the expanded background checks and is subsequently used in a crime. This is the same treatment gun dealers receive now.

• Allows dealers to complete transactions at gun shows that take place in a state for which they are not a resident.

• Ensures that sales at gun shows are not prevented by delayed approvals from NICS.

• Requires the FBI to give priority to finalizing background checks at gun shows over checks at store front dealerships.

• Authorizes use of a state concealed carry permit instead of a background check when purchasing a firearm from a dealer.

• Permits interstate handgun sales from dealers.

• Allows active military to buy firearms in their home states.

• Family transfers and some private sales (friends, neighbors, other individuals) are exempt from background checks

• Adds a 15 year penalty for improper use or storage of records.

TITLE THREE: NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MASS VIOLENCE

Summary of Title III: : This section of the bill creates a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States, looking at all aspects of the problem, including guns, school safety, mental health, and violent media or video games.

The Commission would consist of six experts appointed by the Senate Majority Leader and six experts appointed by the Speaker of the House. They would be required to submit an interim report in three months and a completed report in six months.

WHAT THE BILL WILL NOT DO:

The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Cruz, you have money in your office budget for training for you and your staff in tracking legislation — I’ll be pleased to come show you how to track down such language.

Below the fold, the current text of the bill (as of 4:26 p.m., April 11, 2013).

Update:  Below the fold, the text of the bill as proposed to be amended, published by Sen. Toomey late yesterday; then, below that, the original bill as introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada — compare them if you like.

Read the rest of this entry »


Powerful argument for limiting bullets in a clip: Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston pleads to give victims a chance to escape

March 17, 2013

Here’s one of my nominees for the next editions of Great Speeches of the 21st Century, and Great Speeches in American History.  Sen. Mike Johnston, on March 11, in the Colorado State Senate, spoke against coward, “hollow men,” who commit mass shootings, and how to protect from them:

Notes from YouTube posting:

Published on Mar 12, 2013

March 11, 2013: Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) describes how gun safety legislation, particularly HB 13-1224, can make a difference.

What do you think?

Senator Michael Johnston

Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston – Wikipedia Photo

‘Eleven kids saved in eleven seconds’ seems like a powerful argument, to me.

And this:  “And so the bad news is that at that moment will be outgunned.  The good news is that in America that never means we will be outfought.”

And this:  “The task of taking lives, and the task of saving lives, are fundamentally different endeavors, and they require different tools.”

At about 6:04 into this, listen to Sen. Johnston talk about the “cost of living and loving is that it takes up so much space in our lives.”

Wow.

More:


School House Rock update: Reforms on “I’m Only A Bill,” the story of making laws

October 12, 2012

Remember the old School House Rock?  Disney finally put all of the old episodes out on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Short songs with animation explaining grammar (“Conjunction Junction”), or math, or history, or economics.

Schoolhouse Rock!

Schoolhouse Rock! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most popular was a later production that explained how a bill becomes law in the U.S. Congress, “I’m Just A Bill.”  You may remember how it was parodied by The Simpsons, too, and others.

It’s been updated by Fiore, now including the influence of the “American Legislative Exchange Council,” or ALEC, a Koch-brothers funded frat for conservative state legislators:

Maybe not suitable for elementary school classrooms; probably too violent for high schools, too.

More:


Sausage makers? Or U.S. Congress? Do you want to see how they do it?

September 15, 2011

How does a bill become law?

Charts in government and civics texts always amuse me for what they leave out — mostly the political machinations.  Anyone who worked or works in the halls of Congress knows the process is never so clean as Bismarck pretended with his old, misattributed bon mot (actually John Godfrey Saxe, not Bismarck) (and would Bismarck be chagrined at my using a French phrase to describe his words?).

At In Custodia Legis, the blog of the law librarians at the Library of Congress, I stumbled across this post featuring a photograph of a chart hanging in a committee room on the House side.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a copy of that available to teachers?

Andrew Weber wrote the post.

Sometimes the legislative process is a little more confusing than I’m Just a Bill.  As Margaret mentioned in The Curious History of the 2011 Debt Ceiling Legislation earlier this week, sometimes the legislative process takes interesting turns.  Christine also blogged about the unique situation of vehicle bills.  The poster below details the various status steps legislation can take, including Introductory, Committee, Discharge, Calendar, Floor, Conference, and Presidential Steps.

For tips on THOMAS that can relate to the legislative process, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or via email alert.  There is also a glossary in THOMAS to help.

Is the poster available?  I asked, and got this response from Mr. Weber:

This is what it says at the bottom right of the poster:

Committee on House Administration
Wayne L. Hays, Chairman
Prepared by House Information Systems Staff
Frank B. Ryan, Director

Also, on the bottom left it has a date:

Current as of November 1974

Wayne Hayes, the meanest man in the House according to Bud Shuster?  November 1974?  This was pre-scandal Hayes (Democrat of Ohio), just barely post-Nixon Washington. [

If you can find a link to this chart that makes the wording and details legible, or if you happen to find it and can photograph it so we can read it, will you let us know here?


May 7: Anniversary of the 27th Amendment to the Constitution

May 8, 2011

Oops.  I forgot this anniversary yesterday.

September 25, 1789, Congress had approved and enrolled the proposals, and sent twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution to the states for ratification.  Ten of the twelve amendments were approved, rather quickly, and by 1791 the were attached to the Constitution.  These ten we now call the Bill of Rights.

James Madison before he was president

James Madison proposed the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, and the 27th Amendment; the 203 years it took to ratify the 27th Amendment is the longest legislative process in the history of the U.S., and probably the world.

The two proposals that failed to earn the required approval of three-fourths of the 13 states fell into a special limbo for Constitutional amendments that became clear only in the late 1970s when Congress discussed how long to wait for states to approve the Equal Rights Amendment (this is a much-simplified explanation, I know).  Congress put deadlines on the ratification process in the late 20th century, but the first twelve proposals had no deadlines, nor did any other proposal before the Equal Rights Amendment proposal.  In the 1980s, Congress passed a law that said any amendments floating around, unapproved, would be considered dead after a date certain.  There were six amendments in that category.

Before that date certain passed, more states took a look at one of James Madison’s 1789 proposals.  They liked it, and they ratified it — 34 states total.

That amendment became the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, on May 7, 1992, 203 years after it was proposed:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

This is the longest legislative procedure in U.S. history, perhaps the longest ever — it lasted much longer than many nations.  By that ratification in 1992, James Madison became the person who proposed both the first, and last amendments to the Constitution.

Madison’s reaching out from the grave 156 years after his death — he died on June 28, 1836 — is one of the greatest legislative coups in history, too.


Eugene Robinson: “The GOP’s rude awakening on health-care repeal”

January 23, 2011

Eugene Robinson stuck to the facts, and noted that by a careful count, 62 percent of Americans oppose the Republican vote to repeal the new health care law:

What actually happened, though, is that the Republican majority managed to win the votes of just three Democrats – all of them Blue Dogs who have been consistent opponents of the reform package anyway. In terms of actual defectors, meaning Democrats who changed sides on the issue, there were none. This is momentum?

The unimpressive vote came at a moment when “the will of the people” on health care is coming into sharper focus. Most polls that offer a simple binary choice – do you like the “Obamacare” law or not – show that the reforms remain narrowly unpopular. Yet a significant fraction of those who are unhappy complain not that the reform law went too far but that it didn’t go far enough. I think of these people as the “public option” crowd.

Eugene Robinson, op-ed writer, Washington Post
Washington Post header for Eugene Robinson’s columns                                                                      .

The numbers:

A recent Associated Press poll found that 41 percent of those surveyed opposed the reform law and 40 percent supported it. But when asked what Congress should do, 43 percent said the law should be modified so that it does more to change the health-care system. Another 19 percent said it should be left as it is.

More troubling for the GOP, the AP poll found that just 26 percent of respondents wanted Congress to repeal the reform law completely. A recent Washington Post poll found support for outright repeal at 18 percent; a Marist poll pegged it at 30 percent.

In other words, what House Republicans just voted to do may be the will of the Tea Party, but it’s not “the will of the people.”

[My math:  43% +19%=62%.]

The facts:

The CBO, which “scores” the impact of proposed legislation, calculated that the health-reform law will reduce federal deficits by at least $143 billion through 2019. Confronted with the fact that repeal would deepen the nation’s fiscal woes, Republicans simply claimed the CBO estimate to be rubbish. Who cares what the CBO says, anyway?

Er, um, Republicans care, at least when it’s convenient. Delving into the CBO’s analysis, they unearthed a finding that they proclaimed as definitive: The reform law would eliminate 650,000 jobs. Hence “Job-Killing” in the repeal bill’s title.

One problem, though: The CBO analysis contains no such figure. It’s an extrapolation of a rough estimate of an anticipated effect that no reasonable person would describe as “job-killing.” What the budget office actually said is that there are people who would like to withdraw from the workforce – sometimes because of a chronic medical condition – but who feel compelled to continue working so they can keep their health insurance. Once the reforms take effect, these individuals will have new options. That’s where the “lost” jobs supposedly come from.

So, in other words, Republicans voted to keep people slaves to jobs that provide health care benefits.  The party of  Abraham Lincoln has fallen so far not even Abraham Lincoln at his most charitable moment would recognize it any longer.


Bull baiting bill not appearing ready, Utah legislator proposes for killing horses instead

January 20, 2011

You couldn’t make this stuff up, and if you did, you should see a therapist.

As the Utah 2011 legislative session gets underway, state Rep. Curt Oda wasted no time in introducing a bill that reflects his legislative priority. He is not using his position as a legislator, however, to try to create jobs, improve schools, or protect children, for example. Instead, his bill, H.B. 210,  encourages the torture and killing of animals.

Oda wants to amend the state’s animal cruelty law, Section 76-9-301, to exempt “pests” and “feral” animals from the definition of animal. This means that to the extent they were protected, these animals would no longer be protected by the state’s animal cruelty law. Oda is reported to have told a local newspaper that “feral” animals and “pests” could be shot with a bow and arrow, for example, decapitated or clubbed to death.

Why kill horses with such brutality?  Dog fighting and cock fighting clearly wouldn’t fly?  Bear baiting won’t work — not enough bears?  Surely there are more humane ways to deal with “pest” animals.


One more indication the Tea Party and anti-Obama forces are genuinely out of touch with reality

August 7, 2010

The Tea Party hopes you never learn about this.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The U.S. Senate has passed S. 632 — the Firearms Excise Tax Improvement Act — co-sponsored by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

*     *     *     *     *

The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

[You may do better trying to track it under the number of the bill that really passed, H.R. 5552.]

Did your local newspaper cover the story?

Sam Adams is dead; we’re counting on modern patriots to spread the word:

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California legislator would bar Texas social studies changes

May 18, 2010

California may be down, but it’s not dumb.  According to AP in the San Jose Mercury-News (Silicon Valley edition):

Legislation by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, seeks to protect the nation’s largest public school population from the revised social studies curriculum approved in March by the Texas Board of Education. Critics say if the changes are incorporated into textbooks, they will be historically inaccurate and dismissive of the contributions of minorities.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Under Yee’s bill, SB1451, the California Board of Education would be required to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. The board must then report any findings to both the Legislature and the secretary of education.

The bill describes the Texas curriculum changes as “a sharp departure from widely accepted historical teachings” and “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”

“While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes,” Yee said. “The alterations and fallacies made by these extremist conservatives are offensive to our communities and inaccurate of our nation’s diverse history.”

Bully for California and Rep. Leland Yee.

Tip of the old scrub brush to HeyMash.


Immigration anniversary

May 6, 2010

Today is the anniversary* of our nation’s first** law generally governing immigration.

Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the United States for 10 years.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 - National Archives

____________

*    I note the image says it was approved by President Chester Alan Arthur (who had succeeded to office after President James Garfield was assassinated a year earlier).  The New York Times calls May 6 the anniversary of Congress’s passing the law; if Arthur signed in on May 6, it was probably passed a few days earlier.  May 6 would be the anniversary of its signing into law.

**  The Chinese Exclusion Act was preceded by the Page Act of 1875, which prohibited immigration of “undesirable” people.  Who was undesirable?  “The law classified as undesirable any individual from China who was coming to America to be a contract laborer, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country.”  It was not applicable to many immigrants.  The Page Act was named after its sponsor, Rep. Horace F. Page of California.


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