Memorial Day: Bought and Paid For…

Vietnam Memorial WallToday is Memorial Day. It seems bittersweet to say “Happy Memorial Day” as this day was bought and paid for with the blood of those men and women (and dogs) who gave their lives so that the rest of us can breathe free.

Those of us who are Boomers, and those who are older, all know people who have served in war. Most of us know people who never returned. We know people who fled to avoid conscription.

Younger people? To the vast majority of them, war is an abstraction. Currently, less than one half of one percent of Americans are active duty military. Veterans? A little over 7%. (Source) Those who gave their lives and have living relatives? Unknown but given the other numbers, it can’t be that high. As compared to earlier times, at least.

When I was growing up, there were so many, mainly men, family members who had served in WW2 and Korea. As a child, my dentist and my chiropractor had concentration camp numbers burned into their arms, and it was so clear what Americans had died for: to save as many as they could from genocide.

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June at the Supreme Court

It’s approaching that time of year again — June at the Supreme Court.  The time of year when — with Congress merely slogging things out on legislation — attention in Washington D.C. turns to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court obliges with major decision on top of major decision.

For reasons that probably date back to the days when the Supreme Court Justices also heard cases in the Circuit, the Supreme Court has a tradition of wrapping up the business of deciding cases by the end of June.  For the most part, during the first part of the annual term, the Justices tend to take between two and five months to write an opinion on a case, with the exact length depending on the complexity of a case, the Justice’s writing style, and whether the decision is unanimous (by tradition, other Justices are given the opportunity to complete their separate opinions on a case and all of the opinions on a case are issued at the same time if there are multiple opinions).  Since the most significant cases tend to be split decisions, that tends to push them back and major decision from the December and January arguments sessions may not be issued until late May or early June where they share space with the decisions from the February, March, and April argument sessions (on which the Supreme Court lacks the time to take for or more months to complete their work).  Heading into Tuesday’s session (as the Court is taking Memorial Day off with the rest of us), there are twenty-eight cases still waiting for opinions and 5-6 weeks to go.  (The Supreme Court is currently showing that it will be issuing opinions and orders the week of June 29th. )  Of course, not all of these cases are significant from a political perspective.  What follows is what is currently known about the cases that followers of this site might find significant. Continue reading »

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Foreign Elections: The United Kingdom

Despite what some Republicans say (and apparently think), there are limits to U.S. power.  While the U.S. has the largest economy and the largest military, the U.S. simply does not have enough troops to intervene in every crisis in the world.  Similarly, there are numerous ways for countries to minimize the effect of U.S. economic sanctions.  Any significant international effort by the U.S. requires help from our allies.  However, for the most part, our allies are democracies which means that how their voters feel about U.S. proposals matters more than what the U.S. wants.  What happens in the elections in our allies matter.    This upcoming week (on May 7), voters in the United Kingdom will be voting in parliamentary elections.  As things stand with one week to go, we may be looking at another close race that could handicap the ability of the United Kingdom to commit to any major U.S. initiative.

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The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage

This upcoming week is the last week of arguments for the current Supreme Court Term.  The highlight of this week’s arguments is Tuesday’s arguments in the same-sex marriage cases.  Ahead of the argument, a brief preview in the form of frequently asked questions.

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The Iran Negotiations

One of the big debates in Washington for the past several months have been the on-going negotiations with Iran.  The neo-cons in the Republican Party oppose any deal and have managed to get the Administration to concede that any agreement with Iran will be submitted to Congress.  The problem with this discussion on the news and in D.C. is the framing of this issue as a dispute between Iran on one side and the United States and Israel on the other side.  This framing is completely false.  While the rest of the world is willing to let the United States take the lead in negotiations, the negotiations are a global issue and that fact is key to understanding what options are on the table.

There are two basic facts underlying this dispute.  First, the basic issue is a question of international law — the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and related documents.  Either Iran is sufficiently complying with those terms or it isn’t.  The second issue is that most of the major powers have imposed some degree of sanctions on Iran.  Keeping pressure on Iran requires that everybody stays on board.

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A new logo?


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Hillary For America… On to #DNC2016!

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2016 Delegate Selection-Part IV: The Republican Rules

In this, the final part of the series, we take a look at how the other side will be doing things for 2016.  The Republicans do things differently in several ways.  First, where the Democratic rules are several separate documents, the Republican rules are actually part of the basic rules of the Republican National Committee (with the rules for the convention being Rules 13-20.  Second, with limited exceptions (which happened in this cycle), the Republican rules are actually adopted at the last national convention.  (The Democrats draft the rules in the two years after the last convention).  Third, as noted, in the first post in the series, the Republicans actually have very few national rules (essentially eight basic rules) and mostly leave it to the state parties to make the important decisions that structure the selection process.

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Sixteen sites bid for presidential debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced last week that 16 sites have submitted bids to host a debate in 2016:

Belmont University, Nashville, TN
City of Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
City of McAllen, McAllen, TX
Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA
Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, GA
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Houston Community College, Houston, TX
Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL
Longwood University, Farmville, VA
State University of New York Rockland Community College (SUNY RCC) in partnership with Rockland Debates 2016, Suffern, NY
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas, NV
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
West Virginia University and West Virginia State University, Charleston, WV
Wright State University, Dayton, OH

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2016 Delegate Selection-Part III: Democratic Delegate Allocation and Selection

the first two parts of this series, we looked at the some background information that applies to both parties (namely the roles of the national parties, the state parties) and state legislatures and some of the basic rules that the Democratic National Committee requires all state parties to follow.   As noted in the previous post, the Democratic National Delegate Selection rules recognize four separate categories of delegates — district level delegates, at-large delegates, pledged PLEOs (party leaders and elected officials, and unpledged PLEOs (a/k/a super delegates).  This post will look at how those delegates are allocated to the states (and then to the individual categories within the states).

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