Bunk! Baloney! Hogwash!

— by Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley; Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.

I keep on debating right-wingers who tell me the economy is working for everyone, that widening inequality isn’t really a problem, that the rich are using their wealth to generate growth and jobs — and that therefore supply-side “trickle-down” economics — starting with Reagan’s giant tax-cuts on the rich and continuing through George W. Bush’s tax cuts on the rich — has been a huge success. Baloney. Yesterday’s Census Bureau report reveals just the opposite.

MIDDLE-CLASS SHARE OF TOTAL INCOME DROPPING: The middle 60 percent of households took home only 45.7 percent of the nation’s income in 2012, the same percent it took home in 2011 and well below the 53.2 percent it used to take home in 1968.

TYPICAL HOUSEHOLDS ARE LOSING GROUND. The average under-65 household in the United States has lost $7,490 in annual income since the year 2000. In 1989, the median American household made $51,681 in current dollars; In 2012, $51,017. That means that 24 years ago, a middle class American family was making more than the a middle class family was making one year ago.

ALMOST ALL THE GAINS HAVE GONE TO THE TOP. Between 1967 and 2012, the average income of the top 5 percent grew by 88.2 percent in real terms, or three times the 26.6 percent growth experienced by the middle 60 percent.

Get it? Supply-side economics has been one of the biggest failures in American history. It’s a cruel hoax – a hoax because nothing has trickled down, cruel because it has imposed extraordinary hardship on millions of Americans.


Time Magazine named Robert Reich one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” will be out September 27.   Here’s the trailer for that film:

Confirmation Hearing: Nina Pillard

photo credit to ThinkProgress

In my email today from Drew Courtney, Director of  Communications at PFAW, was the following:

One item that didn’t get the attention it deserved during the hearings of DC Circuit nominee Nina Pillard today is her role leading Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute. The SCI offers its moot courts as a public service, at no charge and irrespective of the positions taken by counsel, reflecting a core commitment to the quality of Supreme Court advocacy in all cases.

Members of the Supreme Court Bar, including Carter Phillips, Andrew Pincus, Lawrence Robbins and Charles Rothfeld (all attorneys in the Solicitor General’s office under President Ronald Reagan) cited Pillard’s work leading the Supreme Court Institute in the letter they wrote calling for her confirmation.

http://www.judgingtheenvironment.org/library/letters/Pillard-SCT-Bar-Letter-7-17-2013.pdf

“Professor Pillard is also Faculty Co-Director of the Supreme Court Institute (SCI), a unique project at Georgetown University Law Center, dedicated to improving practice before the Supreme Court. The SCI recruits professors and attorneys with experience in Supreme Court litigation to act as mock justices to help prepare lawyers for oral argument in the Court. The SCI offers its services impartially on a first-come, first-served basis to advocates with upcoming cases in the Supreme Court, and it has become so popular in recent years that it assisted lawyers in every case argued in the Court’s last Term. Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, and many others from the bench and bar have praised the work of the SCI in contributing to the quality of advocacy. Most of us have participated as advocates and/or Justices at SCI moot court sessions. Over more than a decade, Professor Pillard has personally mooted dozens of cases, whether the advocate is a first-time lawyer or former Solicitor General, doing her best to help each advocate develop and present the best argument possible to the Court, regardless of the issue in the case or the ideological position of the party being represented.

We believe that Professor Pillard would bring to the D.C. Circuit unquestioned professional integrity and intellect, a breadth of experience, and dedication to fairness and the rule of law. We urge her confirmation.”

Ms. Pillard is facing an uphill battle getting her nomination out of the Senate Judiciary committee. Nina Pillard is being nominated for an open position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court has exclusive jurisdiction over many vital national security challenges and hears the bulk of appeals from the major regulatory agencies of the federal government. Aside from the U.S. Supreme Court, it resolves more constitutional questions involving separation of powers and executive prerogatives than any court in the country.  As such, it’s one of the busiest circuit courts.

Some of the GOP’s biggest nay-sayers sit on the Senate Judiciary committee (Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, Lindsay Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake ), and thus far, they’ve been very successful at crippling the DC Circuit court’s ability to handle some of our nation’s most challenging cases.  At today’s hearing, Republican committee members zeroed in and fixated on an article she wrote in 1997 that suggested that abstinence-only sex education may violate the equal protection rights of women.

Instead of demeaning and painting Ms. Pillard as a mere characture, maybe Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee should check in with President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, who says of Pillard “…  is a fair-minded thinker with enormous respect for the law and for the limited, and essential, role of the federal appellate judge—qualities that would make her well prepared to take on the work of a DC Circuit judge. I am confident that she would approach the judicial task of applying laws to facts in a fair and meticulous manner.”

GOP Senators should rethink their premise.  Professor Pillard’s academic writings actually show her openness to viewpoints raised by abortion opponents.

  • Professor Pillard consulted anti-abortion advocate Helen Alvaré in writing her article ‘Other Reproductive Choices’ to ensure her work considered all sides of the public debate on women’s reproductive health. In fact, Professor Alvaré is listed in the article’s acknowledgements.
  • Pillard wrote, “Feminists for Life (FFL), a nonprofit organization declaring itself in favor of equality for women and against abortion, makes some claims that resonate with those of some pro-choice feminists, and which should be common ground in the reproductive rights battles.”  (Pillard, Our Other Reproductive Choices, p. 981)

Moreover, there have been multiple Circuit Court nominees who have written extensively on controversial issues such as abortion from a anti-choice point of view, who went on to be confirmed with strong support from Republicans.

  •  William Pryor, nominated to Eleventh Circuit, had called Roe v Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” but was led to say that even though he strongly disagreed with Roe, he would act in accordance with it if confirmed. He was confirmed.
  • Michael McConnell, nominated to the Tenth Circuit, said Roe was wrongly decided and urged the Supreme Court to overturn it.  He called for a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of the unborn. He also applauded a federal judge for refusing to convict anti-abortion protestors, even though they had clearly violated the law, because of his sympathetic reading of the defendants’ motives. He was unanimously confirmed.
  • J. Leon Holmes, an Arkansas district court nominee, had argued that abortion should be banned even in case of rape because pregnancy from rape is as uncommon as “snowfall in Miami,” and had written that wives should be submissive to their husbands. He was confirmed.
  • Janice Rogers Brown, also nominated to the DC Circuit, had made multiple provocative remarks in speeches, such as referring to the New Deal as the start of a Socialist movement. She admitted that she was trying to be provocative, but assured the committee at her hearing that she “would follow precedent.” She was confirmed.

If we want something other than continual obstruction, WE need to take just a few minutes from our day, and let our Senators know where we stand and urge them to take the action we support.  It’s up to us.  This morning, I took the time to send an email to both Senator Reid and Senator Heller asking them both to actively support and vote for her confirmation.  I also took the time to email each GOP Senator on the Judiciary Committee asking them to vote for her confirmation.  I hope you’ll do the same by clicking the above links for Senators Reid and Heller and asking them for their vote of confirmation.  Or, if you’re an out-of-state reader, you can find a link to your Senator’s email contact form HERE.

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Who Appointed Sheriff Kilgore “King” of Humboldt County?

KilgoreHumboldt County Sheriff Ed Kilgore sent a letter, on official letterhead of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, last Friday, to the Vice President of the United States deriding his audacity to propose fire arms regulations following “an emotional tragedy.”  From the tone and tenor of the letter, it appears he believes he’s been elected “President” of Humboldt County … or that he’s the equivalent of “Judge Roy Bean” and that he alone can decide which if any laws of our great nation he may or may not support or enforce.

Kilgore

“You are on notice …???” ” … my constituents and I” ?   Wait just one minute!  Mr. Kilgore needs to understand that he was elected to the office of Sheriff and not “King.”  He may have a personal opinion about any given subject, but that opinon needs to stop at the door of your office and once on the other side of the door, like it or not, YOU swore an oath to enforce the laws of our County, our State AND our Nation.  I am a resident of Humboldt County Nevada and while I may be served the Sheriff’s office, I certainly do NOT agree that YOU are King of Humboldt County nor that YOU have the sole discretion as to which laws he chooses to support or not support, enforce or not enforce.

Oath in State Constitution
Article 15, Miscellaneous Provisions, Section 2.  Oath of office.

Members of the Legislature, and all officers, executive, judicial and ministerial, shall, before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe to the following oath:

I, ……………., do solemly [solemnly] swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States, and the constitution and government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding, and that I will well and faithfully perform all the duties of the office of ……………., on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help me God; (if an affirmation) under the pains and penalties of perjury.  (Nevada Constitutional Debates and Proceedings, pp. 104-107, 609, 610, 662, 744, 809, 847.) [Amended in 1914:   proposed and passed by the 1911 Legislature, agreed to and passed by the 1913 Legislature, and approved and ratified by the people at the 1914 General Election. See: Statutes of Nevada 1911, p. 458; Journal of the Assembly, 26th Session, p. 20 and Journal of the Senate, 26th Session, p. 37.]

I own guns and I’m a veteran.  And despite what you believe Mr. Kilgore, I believe that assault weapons should be banned along with 50- and 100-round clips, that guns should be licensed and that no one should be able to purchase or own a gun without first undergoing a thorough background check. And I’m not alone in that thinking:

  • “I do not believe i the general promiscuous toting of guns.  I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” — NRA President, Karl Frederic, 1934
  • “I do not believe in taking away the right of citizens for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense.  But, I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon, or needed for defense of a home.”  — Ronald Reagan  in a speech at his 78th birthday celebration in Los Angeles on February 6, 1989.
  • “Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.”  — Ronald Reagan, August 28, 1986 in his signing statement on a bill that banned the production and importation of armor-piercing bullets.
  • “With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases.” — Ronald Reagan, speech at George Washington University in a on March 29, 1991.
  • “I support background checks at gun shows …. I would sign a bill that mandated trigger locks with the sale of guns …. The federal government ought to be involved is it’s the federal government that issues licenses to gun dealers and therefore has the access to the computer to determine whether or not a citizen is eligible or not eligible to purchase a weapon.”  — George W. Bush in an interview with Jim Lehrer on April 27, 2000

We’ve all heard the common phrase, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”  Well, they certainly do with the help of a gun.  They don’t just stand there and go “bang!” and watch the other person drop dead.  Well, cars kill people too, and we have to jump through a considerable number of hoops to be able to license and drive a car.  After all, the Second Amendment does speak to “a WELL-REGULATED militia.”

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. — U. S. Constitution, “Amendment II”

So, as part of that “well-regulated,” maybe we should have to jump through at least as many hoops to demonstrate our ability and responsibility to own and operate a gun as we do to be able to own and operate a car.  For example, let’s start with having to undergo universal background check and by having to take a written test on gun safety covering the proper means of carrying, loading and unloading that weapon, how to turn the safety on and off, BEFORE we’re allowed to get a gun owner’s permit. In addition, just like we have to physically “drive” the car before we get our license, potential gun owners should be required to  actually shoot and properly clean it before a licensed evaluator.  Then, after an appropriate waiting period, potential gun owners should take an actual test involving everything from loading and unloading, proper locked storage, even shooting proficiency. Plus, each gun should be registered in each state in which it is to be carried or used. And lastly, each gun owner should submit to an annual inspection for their weapon, and each gun purchase should come with mandatory liability insurance.

You would do well to remember that it’s covered by the 2nd amendment, not the 1st.  Thus, while you might argue that those items I’ve proposed as a means of “well-regulation” infringe upon your right to own and shoot your gun … nevertheless, your second amendment rights should NEVER infringe on anyone’s 1st amendment rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”