TWiA explores the intersection of policy and politics, and most importantly, how that intersection affects real people. It's dedicated to the proposition that good government is possible, it matters, and taxpayers deserve nothing less. Its starting point is that facts are facts, science is real, data are real, and we can and must learn from history. Below you'll find facts and opinions that derive from fact, informed by a close and careful study of these issues that began in 1968 and has never stopped. Note, when we discuss generic "Democrats" and "Republicans" or "conservatives" and "liberals," etc., we're generally talking about elected officials, unless otherwise noted. Also, bonus bear news and other awesomeness. We appreciate comments and arguments, so please chime in, and if you like it, spread the word.
This Week in Climate Patriotism
2014 was the hottest year ever recorded. NASA and the NOAA did separate, independent studies, and both came up with almost identical findings. Why is this happening? Because of greenhouse gases. In other words. us. We're doing it. Do we have to?
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The solar power industry is creating jobs at 10 times the rate of the overall American economy, and faster than the fossil fuel extraction industry. There are already twice as many solar workers as there are coal miners.
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Meanwhile, an oil pipeline leak in Montana is spilling oil into the Yellowstone River, contaminating drinking water and causing the governor to declare a state of emergency. Would the Keystone XL pipeline be safe from leaks? Sure. But so was this one, once.
(Thanks to TWiA special petroleum geology correspondent Marcy Rockwell for the tip.)
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What does all this mean? From now through the 2016 presidential election (and beyond), the Koch Brothers (Los K-Bros) will be spending millions of dollars (and not just them, but other fossil fuel interests as well) to persuade voters that fossil fuels are crucial to the continuation of motherhood, apple pie, and all good things. That is, of course, not true. America has a long history of innovation and technological leadership, and we could find ways to maintain our economy and society while making a serious effort to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. We're already doing it, and if we subsidized renewal energy at anywhere near the rates we've long subsidized the extraction industries, we'd be much further along.
72% of the current Republican Senate caucus are climate change deniers. This week a series of votes was held in the Senate, which admitted, 98-1, that climate change is "real and not a hoax," but couldn't get amendments stipulating that it is largely or partially human-caused past a Republican filibuster. That'll make it hard to effect any real change in direction, since admitted if humans have nothing do with it, then humans can't fix it. If humans are a major part of the cause, we can make necessary adjustments. A couple of Washington Post writers try to parse out why the Republican Party has become anti-science, here and here. As the latter reports, "Survey data show that conservatives — who, back in 1974, were the political group that expressed the highest amount of trust in science — are now the most distrusting of the scientific community."
But the facts are clear--our direction has to change, not just here but around the world. If we believe in ourselves, believe that we can lead the world in pursuit of what's good and necessary, we'll make sure that in 2016 we elect people who believe in science and are willing to put America first again. After all, what's true patriotism? Saying we can't change our course, because we've always done it this way, or because it might cut into the profits of some old guard companies? (Shell Oil has been raking in cash from oil since 1912. Maybe it's time to give some new businesses a break.) Whining "We can't do it?" Or saying we're Americans--when we see something that needs to be done, we roll up our sleeves and get to work?
We here at TWiA know where we stand on that question. Let's get to work.
This Week in SOTU
The presidential State of the Union address is always a must-see event at TWiA World Headquarters. This week, President Obama went into his with his approval ratings still climbing. We reported on some last week; in the most recent polling by the Washington Post/ABC News, he was at 50% approval. That's well above where President Bush was at this time in his presidency, and closing in on Reagan and Clinton territory. Obama has even climbed 11 points among self-identified conservatives since December.
Here's an explanation of the economic policies the president is asking for. The WaPo reminds us, "None of this, it's worth pointing out, is welfare. It's helping people who are already helping themselves, either by going to school, working, or saving for retirement. It's just acknowledging that growth alone hasn't been enough to do that for a long time now. And these are ideas, to be honest, that some Republicans support too. The question, then, isn't how to help the middle class. It's how to pay for it. Obama wants to make the top 1 percent and Wall Street do so. Republicans don't."
Here's the full transcript of the speech as delivered, including the night's best ad libs. The speech itself was a skillful interweaving of themes that added up to more than the sum of their parts. The president was describing, in some detail, how America remains a world power, economically, morally, and militarily--by making choices that lead to an educated workforce that fosters innovation, that strengthen the business community, and that continues to inspire the rest of the world. We do that by leaving no one behind, by refusing to accept that one person's great wealth has to come at the cost of forcing someone else into poverty--that we all do better when we all do better.
Near the end, he summed up his governing philosophy:
"Because -- because I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, to help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.
"I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances...
"... as committed as we are we are to working on behalf of our own kids.
"I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen: man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability. Everybody matters.
"I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America."
Everybody matters. If one were to try to define liberalism in two words, that would be a good way to sum it up.
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Republicans were reportedly disappointed by the president's tone and his words. According to the New York Times's "First Draft" morning email the day after:
"After their resounding election victory just two months ago, Republicans had hoped to hear the president say he had gotten the message and was willing to find common cause. What they got was a sharp reminder that he had twice won the presidency, veto threats and a call to embrace a series of government initiatives that Republicans are not inclined to support (except for new trade deals).
"He made no mention of their congressional ascendancy.
“'He hasn’t adjusted to the new reality at all,' said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican who is usually considered a candidate for cooperation with the Democrats.
"Republicans did not interpret the president’s jabs at their positions on the minimum wage, climate change and Cuba – interspersed with calls for compromise – as a hopeful sign."
Really? Republicans must be relying on the pollsters who had so convinced Mitt Romney he would win the White House that he didn't even write a concession speech. How else would they not understand that the 2014 election was not a triumph of their policies, which remain deeply unpopular with the public, but a cry for help from voters fed up with dysfunctional government and willing to try anything to see if it would work better? They can demonize "Obamacare," but they can't make people turn against its component parts. They can claim the economy's in the toilet, but the people know better. They can blame deaths in Paris on a speech the president gave two years ago, but nobody's fooled by that.
The more the president moves to enact the agenda that got him overwhelmingly elected, the more popular he becomes. Meanwhile, the new Congress is still passing "message" bills that don't have a chance of becoming law, instead of doing what they were really elected to do--govern.
Their position on climate change is denial. A president who accepted that position would be acting in favor of continuing damage to the global climate and of the increasingly high costs of mitigation and repair that will inevitably accompany climate change. Their position on Cuba is that if a policy hasn't worked for half a century, then maybe it'll work sometime in the future, so stay the course. Their position on the minimum wage is that a few more bucks to the workers might bite into the profits of the owners (never mind the multiplier effect that occurs when low-paid workers get more money in their pockets). Of course the president didn't come around to their views on those issues. Did they campaign on those issues? Of course not.
Lately, a lot of Republicans have been talking about other issues they didn't run on--most notably, income inequality. From neo-liberal (Neolib?) Mitt Romney down to bomb-throwers Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, they've been trying out lines that sound... well, Democratic. When an opposition party starts pre-empting the other party's major issues, that's a sign that the national debate is shifting. And for a change, it's shifting to the left.
President Obama has the wind at his back. Republicans who are looking at him and thinking, "Shouldn't he act more defeated?" are truly out of touch with the country.
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On the flip side, many of the president's ideas on tax reform originated with conservatives, and are supported by conservatives. Others, like tax breaks targeted to the middle class, should be welcomed by conservatives, who are theoretically in favor of lower taxes whenever possible. But because these come with small tax increases on big banks and capital gains, congressional Republicans oppose even the middle-class breaks and the parts of the plan they came up with in the first place.
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Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution offers an informed take on the speech's foreign policy elements, concluding, "But on balance, this was a fairly good speech summarizing Mr. Obama's fairly reasonable overall foreign policy, making this a better than average State of the Union address."
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After the actual SOTU came the official Republican response from officially bizarro extremist Sen. Joni Ernst (R/IA), who's been a member of the Senate for almost a month now. Before that she was a pig castrator and professional conspiracy theorist. Ernst dutifully repeated talking points that make no sense, such as using tales about people who've lost insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act as an excuse to snatch insurance coverage away from the 10 million plus who have it thanks to the ACA. She also asked if the president will "sign the [Keystone XL] bill or block good American jobs?" without addressing the fact that he has called, and continues to call, for infrastructure projects that would not only create far, far more jobs, but also benefit people in the United States, as opposed to being a giveaway to a single Canadian company, only to be blocked by the Republican House. Ernst told what was supposed to be a sad, but ultimately uplifting story about having to wear bread bags over her only shoes on rainy days during the Reagan administration, when "trickle-down economics" wasn't actually trickling down. She didn't mention that part, of course, but it's true.
But since one far-far-right Tea Party darling isn't enough, we also had to get the official Tea Party response from Rep. Curt Clawson, who doesn't seem to grasp that people of Asian-Indian descent can live in this country and have Indian surnames, but be actual Americans. Let's have a moment of silence, please, in memory of the once semi-dignified tradition of an opposition party response to the SOTU. Who would have thought the influence of Saturday Night Live and Barnum & Bailey would have such a long reach?
Clawson repeated an old conservative line that has never made a lick of sense: "Our vision is NOT based on wealth redistribution – but on economic liberty, private enterprise, and wealth creation that benefits everyone."
He followed that up with several pleas for wealth redistribution, the way it's been practiced for the last 30-some years--moving virtually all of the nation's growing wealth to those at the very top by way of a rigged tax system and ever-shrinking spending on anything that benefits the poor or the middle class.
He also spoke out in favor of what must be the only idea Republicans have had in a decade, judging by how often they bring it up: "That must include energy independence. A major step forward here would be for the President to approve the completion of the Keystone Pipeline."
He did not, however, explain how making Canadians richer would help the cause of energy independence, nor did he address the fact that under the Obama administration, we've become a major exporter of energy.
Still other Republican responses were a Spanish-language one by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R/FL), also new to Congress, a Rand Paul response (Paul called for "fresh ideas," like a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and the incredibly regressive flat tax--all terrible ideas that might have been fresh a few decades ago when they were first brought up), and an ill-fated Ted Cruz response, giving us responses from four Tea Party favorites in one night (presumably, they're less thrilled with Curbelo, who actually mentioned immigration reform). It might have been nice to hear an establishment Republican response, but instead we're left with the impression that the party has caved altogether to its rightmost flank.
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Finally, there's the response from the official House Republican website, which posted the SOTU address online after editing out certain sections they don't like. It appears that House Republicans are not only climate change deniers, they're climate change denial deniers. And torture deniers.
(Thanks to TWiA special media correspondent Jason Zibart for the tip.)
This Week on Fox
Standing in a line this week, we were briefly exposed to Fox "News." "Economist" Stephen Moore from the Heritage Foundation was on, supposedly to discuss the impact that the worsening global economic situation might have on the American recovery. After touching on that, Moore went on the attack, saying (and we're paraphrasing, but not by much): If you want to bring the American economy to a dead stop, do the things Obama's going to announce in his State of the Union speech." Moore went on to complain about a slight increase in capital gains taxes, but didn't mention the fact that the rate would only go up to where it was during the Reagan years. As evidenced by the Clinton boom that followed, a higher rate did not stop the economy dead in its tracks. Fortunately, we didn't have to listen to his blathering for long.
And we use the word "blathering" with intent. The dictionary definition of "to blather" is "to speak nonsensically," and that's certainly what Moore was doing. Economic predictions by Moore and the Heritage Foundation have been and remain continuously wrong. Nothing they predict comes to pass. And even more to the point, the reason much of the world is suffering economically is that those countries reacted to the great recession by adopting the austerity approach the Heritage Foundation recommended. We didn't, hence our economic recovery is outperforming that of many other nations (including all of the ones that chose austerity).
If Moore is genuinely an economist and actually believes what he was saying, he needs to go back to school. More realistically, Moore is a propagandist who knew he was spreading disinformation, because that's what he's paid to do. The Heritage Foundation exists for one reason only--to protect the wealthy of its wealthy funders. While it sometimes advocates for social issues, those stances are primarily intended to keep conversative voters engaged so they'll spread its economic nonsense, and vote for candidates who will support the Foundation's goal. Their "economists," like Moore, are out not to inform but to confuse the public, so they won't know that the Foundation is acting in the interests of the very few, and is intent on making sure the nation's wealth continues to flow toward those who already have the most.
Moore is smart and well-spoken, and in the appearances we've seen him make, he has demonstrated a sense of humor. He seems to be a nice guy. All of which make it especially sad him to see him devote his career to far-right propaganda (Moore is the founder of the Club for Growth, another organization dedicated to making the rich richer, and a former member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board). He--like Heritage, has a long history of being unashamedly wrong on his "facts," as evidenced here, here, here, and here. But college economics professors don't make a lot of money, and Moore does--by saying in public what his wealthy benefactors tell him to, instead of telling the truth.
Last Week in The Fool on the Hill
Obligatory Beatles reference: 51 years ago this week, on January 20, 1964, "Meet the Beatles" was released. "The Fool on the Hill" was not on that first album, but the title was too apropos not to use.
This happened last week, but we didn't see it until after last week's TWiA had posted, and it's too incredible not to share. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R/TX)--who briefly wanted to run for Speaker of the House--gave a speech on the floor of the House in which he said this: "I hope one day that our top leaders in this country will have the courage of president al-Sisi in Egypt and they will reflect, as general al-Sisi has, the will of the people of their country."
In case there are a thing or two about al-Sisi that Gohmert doesn't know, here's a quick summary from Human Rights Watch:
"Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsy, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, in July 2013 – led by al-Sisi, the former defense minister – Egyptian authorities have greatly restricted nearly all space for dissent. The authorities have arrested thousands of people solely for being members of Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood, as well as secular and leftist activists. The government has so far failed to hold anyone accountable for the security forces’ killing of thousands of pro-Morsy protesters in July and August 2013.
"Egyptian authorities have, by their own estimate, imprisoned at least 22,000 people since the July 2013 coup. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, which has documented arrests by name and date, has put that number at 41,000."
Gohmert--who still suspects President Obama of being Muslim--doesn't like the efforts the Obama administration has made against Islamic jihadists, and thinks our leaders should emulate Egypt's military dictator.
You're a prince of a guy, Louie.
This Week in 2016
Rick (Man on Dog) Santorum claims that he understands the mistakes he made in 2012, and will be a better candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016. He could hardly be worse. "Santorum's campaign in 2012 was largely defined by his anti-abortion stances and statements regarding contraception and other 'crazy stuff that doesn't have anything to do with anything' as Santorum put it. He blamed himself for opening his mouth and saying 'dumb things.'
Maybe like "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money." Or was it? "If you look at it, what I started to say is a word and then sort of changed and it sort of -- blah -- came out."
So he wanted us to believe that he wasn't talking about "black people," but was instead making an utterly meaningless reference to "blah people." And that's better, somehow? Or was squeaky-clean Santorum's "explanation" an outright lie?
Then there was "One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, 'Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.' It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." 99% of the adult women in the country have used contraception at one time or another, and most of them believe it's okay. But then, we're supposed to take Santorum's word for what's okay, and for "how things are supposed to be."
Even Pope Francis's relatively mild caution that Catholics should think about practicing the Church-approved methods of regulating childbirth, rather than breeding "like rabbits," caused Santorum consternation. "When he speaks as the leader of the Catholic Church, I’ll certainly pay attention. But when he speaks in interviews, he’s giving his own opinions, which I certainly will listen to, but from my perspective, that doesn’t reflect the idea that people shouldn’t be fruitful and multiply, and that people should be open to life as something that is a core value of the faith and of the Catholic Church. I don't know what the Pope was referring to here."
In point of fact, the Pope's words do reflect the idea that people shouldn't be fruitful and multiply, at least not without giving serious thought to what they're doing. Santorum's public pronouncements are nothing if not vague and confused.
We're more than a little disturbed by Santorum's relentless focus on the sex lives of other people, why he thinks a president's views on our sex lives should be such a central issue to a campaign, and how he squares small-government conservatism with an apparent desire for every aspect of our sex lives to be monitored by the government, so they can be confirmed as acceptable or denounced as not how things are supposed to be.
And we have to wonder what a campaign in which Santorum didn't say dumb things would be like. Probably very, very quiet.
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Then there's Gov. Bobby (Kenneth the Page) Jindal (R/LA). Last week, Fox "News" offered one of its rare apologies for having allowed a guest to misrepresent the truth, which is a nice way of saying "lie his ass off in an attempt to stir up racial/religious bigotry." If Fox apologized every time that happened, they'd spend the next 18 years of air time apologizing for the last 18 years. A guest on Fox had claimed that Birmingham, England, was a 100% Muslim city and a no-go zone for non-Muslims. Later, Fox had to admit that Birmingham is only a little more than 20% Muslim, and that there's no such thing as a no-go zone.
Jindal apparently didn't get the memo. After all that transpired, Jindal went to London--which is in England, not Louisiana--and said, "It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so-called ‘no-go zone.’”
That would be startling, if true. What's genuinely startling is that Jindal repeated an already discredited right-wing talking point, and then defended it in an interview after the fact. It's almost like Jindal has been dropped off the email list all Republican elected officials and candidates get from Fox so they know which talking points to parrot on any given day. Somebody check on that, please? Poor Bobby's out there on his own, and that's not pretty.
This Week in Defense (?)
Why do congressional Republicans want to increase the chances that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons? Iran wants them because Israel has them. We're in talks to prevent Iran from getting nukes, but new economic sanctions on an already reeling Iran could derail those talks. Guess what Netanyahu will demand when he visits Congress in early March? Why would members of Congress seek to work with a foreign head of state to interfere with diplomatic efforts being carried out by the highest levels of government? Shouldn't members of Congress, of whatever party, take America's side over that of foreign interests? Don't they put country ahead of partisan advantage anymore? If Democratic members did the same to a Republican president, we'd already be hearing the word "treason" bandied about.
Netanyahu's intransigence is one of the biggest reasons there is no peace between Israel and its neighbors. If he wins enough members of Congress to his side to override a presidential veto, we'll be several steps closer to a nuclear Iran.
And domestically, it's unheard of for a branch of Congress to invite a world leader to address a joint session. Setting foreign policy is an activity delegated to the executive branch. This isn't just tradition, it's the law of the land. For Speaker of the House John Boehner (R/OH) to take it upon himself to do so demonstrates a shameful lack of respect for law and for the office of the presidency, not to mention President Obama himself. The president, for his part, won't meet with Netanyahu during the visit, because Netanyahu has an election coming up a couple of weeks later, and as a matter of policy, the president doesn't meet with foreign candidates for office around elections, so as not to create the appearance of an endorsement. The White House still cares about protocol and law, it seems, even if Congress has decided those things are inconvenient obstacles.
Josh Marshall explains what Boehner and Netanyahu hope to gain from the stunt, and Max Fisher offers his interpretation of it here. Netanyahu is actively trying to undermine our foreign policy and to foment regime change in this country--trying to sway American voters to elect politicians more sympathetic to his narrow view of the world. We shouldn't stand for it.
This Week in Health Care
Thanks to vaccine deniers, measles is making a disturbing comeback in American life. Once nearly eradicated, in 2014 there were 644 new measles cases. Since December we've seen 70 cases originating at Disneyland, located in Orange County, CA. Orange County is vaccine-denier central (which must be an anomaly, because most anti-vaxxers cluster in liberal enclaves). About the same number of Americans believe that vaccines are safe and effective as believe that houses can be haunted by ghosts, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence for the former and the lack of it for the latter. And, of course, Americans have anti-science politicians and pundits doing their best to convince them that scientists are wrong more often than they're right. The result, in this case, is a new outbreak of an unpleasant disease. In other cases, it could mean a planet that's more and more difficult to live on.
This Week in Should be Obvious
When public schools get more money, educational outcomes improve, and so do earnings later in life. Investing in public schools is a true investment, one that pays a society real financial dividends.
This Week in Arizona
America's Most Corrupt SheriffTM will face contempt proceedings in April 2015. This is unsurprising, since he has repeatedly shown contempt for the law, contempt for the principles of fairness and racial justice, and contempt for the instructions of the court. The hearing could result in fines; at any rate, the legal costs alone will add to the tens of millions of dollars already spent by the citizens of Maricopa County to defend the criminal they keep electing.
This Week in Nevada
Last week we wrote about new Arizona governor Doug Ducey's (R) difficulty in understanding that you can't attract well-paying, high tech jobs to a state unless you have an educated workforce and the social and cultural infrastructure (not to mention physical infrastructure) that those employers want for their workers, and you can't achieve that by slashing spending willy-nilly--especially, but not exclusively, spending on education.
"Speaking for nearly an hour, he devoted more than 30 minutes to education reform, highlighting a plan to invest $882 million in education funding in the next two years. He outlined the plan as the beginning of a 'new Nevada' and the foundation for education reform.
"He didn’t hesitate to say that Nevada’s high school graduation rate and preschool enrollment were among the worst in the country.
"And he didn’t flinch at announcing his proposals for fixing them.
“'We have relied on antiquated systems and half measures for too long, and our revenue structure no longer meets the needs of our growing and changing state,' he said.
"The ability to fund his proposals would come from old and new revenues. Sandoval called upon the Legislature to pass a new business license fee estimated to raise $430 million during the next two years."
Here's what he's talking about, as described by the Brookings Institution, which is partnering with UNLV in some of these efforts: "Specifically, we explain why Nevada should set out a compelling vision of STEM’s importance to the economy and Nevadans’ livelihoods; pursue improved alignment of the state’s education and training ecosystems with its STEM-oriented industries; and establish basic proficiency in STEM disciplines among students."
A serious effort along those lines, which is what Sandoval is talking about, will go a long way toward transforming and modernizing Nevada's economy. If his conservative legislature gets behind the program, Sandoval will have made a real difference for his state--and maybe taught Gov. Ducey a thing or two.
We're not impressed with the lineup of Republian candidates jockeying (already!) for slots in 2016's presidential campaign. But in campaigns to come, Sandoval could be just what the party needs--a fresh face with new ideas. Ones that have a chance of actually working.
Side Note: Sandoval also talked up the Affordable Care Act in his state of the state address. He didn't mention it by name, but he described the difference it has made in the lives of his constituents:
"Two years ago, 23 percent of Nevadans lacked health insurance, the second worst ranking in the nation. Today, that number has been reduced by more than half, to 11 percent, and we are the fourth most improved state in the country. The uninsured rate for our children has dropped from 15 percent to 2 percent. Nearly three-fourths of our Medicaid and Nevada Check-Up populations are covered by care management, which saves the state $13 million, and ensures that Nevadans receive timely, cost-effective and appropriate health care."
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Last Week in Texas
Another story we missed at the end of last week--maybe the ultimate in self-professed victimhood. "A conservative group that lists a Texas legislator on its governing board has filed a lawsuit claiming Dallas County is violating the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against white people. The suit, filed in federal court Thursday by the Dallas-based Equal Voting Rights Institute, argues that whites, a racial minority in the county, have been unable to elect their chosen Republican candidates to the Commissioners Court."
That's right--a conservative white group--in a county in which whites aren't the majority, or even the largest minority group--is claiming that they're discriminated against because they can't elect enough Republicans. The county is 39% Hispanic, 22% black, and 32% white. Three of the five members of the Commissioners Court are white, one each are Hispanic and black, But those nasty blacks and Hispanics keep electing Democrats.
The lawsuit was filed on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday. Stay classy, Dallas County.
This Week in Penguins
Nine questions about penguins, answered.
This Week in Bears
If you're walking around in the woods, watch where you step. Hint: Don't step on a mother bear with cubs. This story has a sad ending for Mama bear, but the video of the tiny cubs being fed is too cute to pass up.
In more sad bear news, bears, like dogs, are susceptible to the toxic properties of chocolate. Don't let your bears near your candy closet! (You do have a candy closet, don't you?)