Monday, June 29, 2015

Do Ultra Conservatives Love America?

Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and their many supporters, are like husbands who praise womanhood while beating their wives.  They preach love of America, and fidelity to the Constitution, but lash out at the first hint of discord.

Bobby Jindal has called for eliminating the Supreme Court, while Ted Cruz, the voice of moderation, has merely called for retention elections.  Both seek to neuter the Constitution.

The Supreme Court Justices are intended to be different than elected politicians dependent on majorities within a district, state, or in the case of the President, the nation.  James Madison feared the "tyranny of the majority."  The most important role of the Supreme Court is to protect individual and minority rights from the occasional perils of majority rule.  That is why justices serve for life.

Protecting rights of gays fits squarely within the role of the court.  Of course the court is not infallible.  The greatest failures of the court are when it has refused to protect a persecuted minority, as with the interred Japanese Americans during WWII.

On the right, and on the left, we must live with the occasional teeth gnashing decision to uphold the purity and purpose of separation of powers.

Jindal's proposal is an obvious non-starter, but Cruz' proposal of retention elections for justices is also insidious.  Imagine Supreme Court Justices beholden to Big Pharma or Big Oil, or even Big Labor, for campaign contributions.

In a rage over recent decisions, Jindal and Cruz, are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Save the children.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Conservative Half Baked Religious Freedom Frenzy

Religious conservatives, and the Republican presidential candidates who pander to them, are selling a soufflé that will not rise.   God fearing bakers will not be layering cakes for gay weddings.  Ultra conservative photographers will not capture the first kiss of two brides.  These specters must be taken with a few hundred grains of salt.

Marriage is a magic and singular moment.  Being of Jewish heritage, I did not seek out an anti-Semitic photographer to share that special day.  My rule in commerce is:  Nazis need not apply.  My wife is black.  When I sought a trainer for one of my race horses, a subtle racist remark by a candidate ended his chances.

Gays will seek out, and easily find gay friendly, or, at worst, gay neutral vendors.   Vendors will be climbing all over each other, but not in a sexual way, to enter this expanding market.   To claim otherwise is fear mongering.   Gays, like heterosexuals planning weddings, will rely on recommendations of friends. Friends do not recommend anti-gay wedding vendors to gay friends.

Issuing wedding licenses, and performing courthouse non-religious ceremonies falls within the, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," exception."  Government employees are performing ministerial (clerical not religious) acts.  Ministerial acts, require, and allow, no discretion.  If I meet the criterial of the State of California and pass a test I get a driver's license.  Only in third world countries are routine government actions  discretionary, (and also a source of discretionary income).

Republicans are serving a salty, sugary, syrupy mess and calling it creme brûlée.  Let's torch it.  At least then it will be caramelized.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lincoln Chafee's Response

Governor Chafee graciously responded to my blog entry:

Hi Larry, thank you for your excellent blog post about our great visit in LA. To think I walked by the Baffert Stables shedrow thanks to you! Pharoah looked so relaxed on the lead the whole backstretch and into the final turn. Much the best on Saturday! I hope your ponies are healthy and can get in the gate and run well!   Best, Linc

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Straight from the Horse's Mouth: The Case for Lincoln Chafee

I spent time with Governor Chafee when he came to Los Angeles for an appearance on the Bill Maher Show.  He is a soft spoken genteel man, as keen on listening as on speaking, a contrast with the  auditorium filling egos of many of his competitors.

He checks all of the necessary boxes-- executive experience as a Mayor and Governor, national legislative experience as the Senator from Rhode Island, well educated (Brown University).  His expertise in foreign policy includes service as Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on the Middle East.  Like some of the top tier candidates, he even hails from a prominent political family.

Based on his family background, you might think that his understanding of the daily toil of most Americans is intellectual, not personal.  You would be wrong.  He spent a number of years as a laborer in construction.  Seeking a trade he became a horseshoer at a race track for the princely sum of 75 dollars a week.  So not only has he walked in the shoes of a working man, horses have run hundreds of miles in his.

The courage it takes to work under a 1200 pound animal carried over to his political career.  He was the only Republican to vote against giving President Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  As the Republican party moved to the right, Lincoln held his ground.  He abandoned the long family connection to the Republican party.

Lincoln has two distinct advantages.  He is scandal free.  The thousand small media cuts of scandal stories,whether real or created, bloodies the message of the steps necessary to attack income inequality and to secure America through a sensible foreign policy.

Second, Chafee occupies valuable political turf.  For many of us noninterventionist foreign policy and privacy concerns are a siren call, but we fear the craziness of the brand of Paul.  Chafee shares those concerns while maintaing progressive positions on women's rights, gay marriage and other social and economic issues.

Although his days as a farrier are over, Lincoln's love of horses continues.   On the day after the Bill Maher Show, we went to the races at Santa Anita.  No hint of scandal, Lincoln is a 2 dollar bettor.  In the last race he bet on a horse that was 14-1. He won.  Sometimes long shots do come in.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sex and the Single Jihadist

Sex is the missing ingredient in combating Islamic extremism.  Conservatives and Liberals agree, although with different emphasis, that radical Islamic ideology and the lack of economic opportunity breed terrorism.  But by leaving out sex, both are blind to a fundamental drive behind Jihad, and possible solutions.

Woman rarely participate in premarital sex in the Arab world because of the spectre of post coital public stoning.  Upending a sexist saying, men must buy the cow because the milk is never free.  Place strong emphasis on buy.  Throughout the region heavy dowries are mandatory.  Most single men must wait years, if not their entire lifetime, to raise the bridal bounty.

Sometimes members of the community help raise the dowry, often through the local mosque.   But a large pool of men have sperm swimming vigorously with no where to go.  Many extremist groups including Boca Haram and ISIS promise relief for recruits.

Boca Haram kidnaps women.  ISIS conquest includes rape and sexual slavey for the conquered.  It is easy to believe you are on the right hand of Allah if you no longer need your left hand.  On the subject of masturbation, that is also prohibited under most interpretations of the Koran.

The solution in many countries such as Iraq would be a dowery subsidy, probably conditioned on military service.  Perhaps it would take the form of an interest free long term loan commencing after basic training and some short period of service.  Small deductions could be made from military pay.  Perhaps after a certain period of  military service the debt is waived.

This approach has multiple advantages.  It limits a recruiting tool for extremists, and  provides recruitment for the Iraqi army.  Further, proper basic training builds loyalty through esprit de corps.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Iranians Cheer as Netanyahu Advocates Lifting All Sanctions

Have you ever seen a delayed reaction to a joke?  It took a while, but the Iranians get it.  Bibi has inadvertently provided a path for the lifting of all sanctions with no concessions by Iran.

Step one:  The United States acts in bad faith by making unrealistic non-negotiable demands at a late stage in the negotiations without support of its negotiating partners, Germany, France, Great Britain, China and Russia.

Step two:  The negotiations break down with everyone blaming the US.

Step three:  The Republican Congress imposes meaningless unilateral sanctions. since the US does not buy Iranian oil.

Step four:  The rest of our negotiating partners repeal or ignore all sanctions.

Step five:  Iran continues to build nuclear weapon capability.

Step six:  Israel bombs Iran, or talks the US into doing it.

Step seven:  The unintended consequence is that the Arab world rallies around Iran,  Iranian hardliners become more entrenched and the US standing in the Middle East further diminishes.

Bye Bye to BiBi

I hope that in the upcoming elections the Israeli electorate will say Bye Bye to Bibi.  But I have no more right to tell Israel who to elect, than their leader has to tell us to ignore what our president believes is in the best interest of America, and to instead do, what he believes is in the best interest of Israel.

But if we are to consider his recommendations, we should look at his track record.  He heartily encouraged America to spend its treasure and sacrifice lives by invading Iraq.  The rise of Iran is a consequence of the resulting destabilization of the region.  Obama was right on this issue, Bibi, not so much.

He has a valid point that Iran is not trustworthy.  Of course, he would be better poised to make that point if he had not, according to his own intelligence agency, lied to the UN about Iran's nuclear progress.

The option Netanyahu offers to a deal is war.  He dressed it up, but his rhetoric is sheer nonsense.  We along with our bargaining partners, England, France, Germany, Russia and China, will try for the best deal possible.

But what if the US follows Bibi's advice and demands stronger terms than our allies.  The result, when the negotiations break down would not be tougher sanctions.  The reality is sanctions would disappear.  The US does not buy Iranian oil, so our unilateral sanctions are meaningless.  If the US is seen as responsible for cratering the negotiations, our partners would ignore the sanctions.

Without a deal or sanctions, Iran would be on its way to nuclear capability, and the only alternative would be war.  As we learned in Iraq, war usually has unintended and disastrous consequences.