Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods PoliLinks

The Curmudgeon is taking a break for the holiday weekend because he can. This thread will be updated occasionally through Sunday but may not be updated at all. Check back once in awhile during TV timeouts or family fights....

Action on Climate Change

Yesterday we noted the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that a clear majority of Americans survey – 59% – support federal action to combat climate change. Today President Obama will be once again labeled dictator/emperor by the Koch Brothers wing of the Republican Party (that would be all Republicans plus Mary Landrieu and Joe Manchin) by acting against emissions of ozone from power plants and factories.
"Job killer" they will scream, ironic since ozone is a "people killer" which is linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. Some of the critics are the same folks who whine about regulations on coal designed to protect the lungs of coal miners.
The regulations would lower the threshold for ozone pollution by about 10%, not exactly revolutionary but a step in the right direction. Reducing ozone in the air has been a priority of such radical, socialist groups as the American Lung Association and American Heart Association as well as every environmental group you can name.

The Schuette Bigotry Campaign Rolls On

Elections have consequences. In this instance, it's the reelection of Bill Schuette as "defender of the people" (but only if they are straight). Schuette is rolling ahead with his expensive defense of Michigan's constitutional bigotry aimed at LGBTs. Yesterday, those oh-so-progressive states of Arkansas and Mississippi became the latest to have their gay-marriage prohibitions ruled unconstitutional, leaving Michigan (and Schuette) in the dust.
April DeBoer and Janet Rowse are suing to overturn
Michigan's discrimination against LGBT families. And they
adopted a fourth child yesterday. Schuette feels their kids
would be better off in foster care.
Our friends at Eclectablog were kind enough to post a link to Schuette's defense of bigotry. Basically, Schuette's argument is that the people have the right to enact a state constitutional provision that (in the opinion of virtually every federal trial court so far) violates the U.S. Constitution. If you replace the concept of "same sex" with that of "same race," Schuette's arguments could have been used to defend the anti-miscegenation laws that made interracial marriages illegal, something overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court 47 years ago in Loving v. Virginia.
Schuette also continues to maintain that marriage is about having kids: 
...the State has an interest in encouraging men and women to marry because of its interest in stable relationships for the procreation and raising of children.
So if a couple agrees not to have children, their marriage is invalid? Don't tell Mrs. Curmudgeon, because that was our decision when we were married 21 years ago.

The Levin Brothers

For 32 years, Carl and Sander Levin have been a team on Capitol Hill. For much of those three decades, they have been a power team. Carl Levin chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee; His older brother chaired the House Ways and Means Committee until Republicans gerrymandered their way into power, and remained as the ranking minority member on what is generally considered the second most-powerful committee in the House (behind Budget).
They hold the record for the longest service of brothers in the Congress.
The retirement next month of Carl Levin is breaking up the team. Now 83, Sandy's retirement isn't too far down the road, either.
For The Curmudgeon, it is a poignant transition. He flew Carl Levin around Michigan in a four-passenger plane during Levin's first campaign (in 1978) for the U.S. Senate, and he has been friends with Carl's older brother dating back to Sandy's days as state Senate Democratic Leader and two-time Democratic candidate for Governor (losing both times, narrowly, to William Milliken).
The two men define the nobility of public service.
Jay Grossman has a fitting tribute to the two of them in today's Detroit Free Press. Give it a read.

Questions About the Michael Brown Shooting

A prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. There was no indictment in the Michael Brown shooting because the prosecutor didn't want one, even going to the extreme of acting as officer Darren Wilson's de facto defense attorney during the grand jury proceedings. 
He has Wilson on the stand, and threw softballs at him. No challenging inconsistencies, no challenging judgement calls by the officer. It was non-feasance bordering on incompetence.
The failure of the St. Louis County prosecutor to treat Officer Wilson like a suspect left open some basic questions, questions which George Stephanopolous also avoided in his equally softball interview on Good Morning America.
The initial confrontation between the two was because Brown was jaywalking. Officer Wilson said that led to Brown coming to his patrol vehicle, reaching inside, and attempting to take Wilson's gun out of his hands. Wilson said Brown then walked away from his patrol car, then turned around and charged him.
Question: Officer Wilson, why did you have your weapon drawn for a jaywalking stop?
Question: Officer Wilson, have you ever drawn your weapon before, and under what circumstances? 
Question: Officer Wilson, if you feared for your safety, why didn't you simply put your car in gear, step on the gas, and disengage from Brown?
Question: Officer Wilson, you said Brown initially turned away from you, and then charged you "like a football player". Why didn't you take action to avoid further physical confrontation and instead shoot him?
Question: Officer Wilson, were you trained to immediately use deadly force in confrontations with jaywalkers, or did your training include instructions in how to defuse confrontations? Did your training in hand-to-hand combat include immediately firing your weapon five times?
These are questions which should have been asked, and would have been asked by a competent prosecutor.
Just as in the O.J. case, they probably will only be asked as part of the civil proceedings when Michael Brown's family sues Officer Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department. And they may never be answered since Wilson can, and probably will, refuse to testify in the civil case as is his right under the 5th amendment protection against self-incrimination.

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