Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Texas Voter ID Law

The judicial branch of the Republican Party, also known as the U.S. Supreme Court, refused to stay the Voter ID law in Texas.  This law will keep up to 600,000 Texans, mostly blacks and Latinos (and Democrats) from voting.

This brings to mind a quote from Texas governor Governor Rick Perry, who said the following at a Koch brothers-sponsored political event in New Hampshire:  “Look at the states,which are lavatories of innovation and democracy.”

Friday, October 17, 2014


I walked out of the Brad Pitt movie tonight.  I had read a review that said it was bloody and violent, but I thought, of course, it’s a war movie.  What I was not anticipating was having my face rubbed into the violence.  

I know tanks ran over people.  They ran over students in Tiananman Square.  My issue is that I don’t enjoy watching it, and I don’t need to watch it to know it is horrible.  I already am aware of that.

I’ll also give the director some advice.  Most members of the audience need a character with whom to identify.  After about 40 minutes, I never found one.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gamers and the N.R.A.

A leading critic of the stereotyping of women in video games, Anita Sarkeesian, has been receiving death threats, bomb threats, and rape threats for months.  

According to an article by Nick Wingfield in today’s Times, Ms. Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak at Utah State University.  The speech was cancelled when the university received an email warning that a shooting massacre would occur if she spoke.  The email said, “This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history, and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.”


There you have it, folks.  This is the America brought by the National Rifle Association.  A college campus can’t keep guns out of a public presentation.  What kind of chickenshit legislators would adopt such a law?  Why wouldn’t common sense prevail over N.R.A. bullying and threats?

And why would “gamers” threaten a woman who is exercising her American free speech rights?  The threats, of course, are anonymous, probably from adolescent boys who jerk off to fantasies of sexual violence.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Climate Experts of the Lehigh Valley

Over the past six months the Morning Call has printed letters from at least a half dozen people who warn of a coming ice age, who note that global warming is a natural occurrence, who are sure that the whole global warming thing is a liberal hoax, or who cite scripture to disprove global warming.

Who knew that so many experts on climatology live right here among us.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Norway sets an example

Mostly what happened at the recent U.N. Climate Summit was speech-making.  In fact, all that hot air may have made the situation worse.  Except for Norway.  Norway announced that it had reached agreement with Liberia to provide that country with $150 million in aid; in return Liberia will work to stop the destruction of its jungles.

The financial page of the New Yorker explained this as the “Coase Theorem.”  In 1960 an economist named Ronald Coase said that bargaining between parties could produce a solution to problems like pollution that was of mutual benefit.

This is called “payment for ecosystem services.”  Norway benefits by reducing global warming; Liberia receives much needed aid.  Norway did something similar with Brazil some years ago.

I don’t see why the Coase Theorem applies only to ecosystem services.  For example, if the U.S. gave aid to Liberia to combat Ebola, Liberia would benefit, but so would the U.S. in an age when air travel can spread disease rapidly across the globe. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Voter ID laws and Doyle Heffley

Texas recently passed an incredibly restrictive voter ID law to “eliminate fraud” at the polls.  In one ten year period in Texas, 20 million votes were cast.  There were two convictions for in-person voter fraud in that 10 year period.

Evidence is now in that restrictive ID requirements do reduce voter turnout by 2-3%.  Do you know how many races are decided by that margin?
The ID laws affect the poor and the elderly.  In other words, Democrats.  This kind of manipulation is common in Third World countries with dictatorial governments.  Now it’s is happening right here.  The Supreme Court, an arm of the Republican Party, is approving these laws.  

By the way, my own Representative, Doyle Heffley, has argued for restrictive ID laws.  Evidently the gerrymandering, the support of the fracking industry, and the Times News puff pieces aren’t enough.  Now he wants to game the electoral system.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Breakfast at the New Columbus Fire House

This morning I attended a breakfast fundraiser sponsored by the Carbon County Democratic Party at the New Columbus Fire House.  The food was excellent—ham, chipped beef, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes—a hearty breakfast.  The hall was filled, and the diners heard speeches by Sen. John Yudichak and Patti Borger, running for the 122nd House seat.

We were warned that because Wolf is so far ahead of Corbett, Democratic voters may get over-confident and stay home, figuring they really don’t need to vote this time around.  There was determination in the room not to let that happen.

This morning I also learned how angry some voters are about Corbett’s treatment of Joe Paterno.  I know that as a Penn State grad I was angry, but I didn’t realize how much that issue resonated.  

I thought the big issues were corporate tax cuts, slashing the education budget, refusing an extraction tax on Marcellus shale drillers, and the inability to pass a property tax reform even though Republicans have controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office for the past four years.

There are so many reasons why Corbett has got to go.