Conservative Immigration Think Tank Analyst: Execution "Too Good" For Obama


Stephen Steinlight
In an instance of what's becoming all too common on the far right, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, a far right think tank, spoke at a Florida Tea Party recently arguing that President Obama not only deserves to be impeached, but that “being hung, drawn and quartered is probably too good for him.” The think tank bills this analyst - Stephen Steinlight - as “one of the nation’s most insightful voices on immigration” and frequently utilizes him as an expert witness in immigration-related cases.

During his statements, Steinlight said:
"A rash of opinion polls which have come out, not push polls, real polls, including one by Gallup that showed that 65 percent of the American people don’t want any part of an Obama-style immigration reform. But the idea of this [lawsuit] is vintage Boehner, it’s a political loser. There is no court that is going to stop Obama from doing anything. We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. Alright? I mean, I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him."  [Emphasis Mine] 
While conservatives have historically called for respecting the office of the Presidency regardless of who occupies it (albeit these statements were typically made during the Bush administration), many have reversed course on this ideology in a transparent dog whistle campaign to demonize and attack President Obama. Steinlight stands as a stark reminder of why our country is so politically divided - and what needs to change before we can begin meeting in the middle for compromise.



About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at Peacock Panache as well as his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms


Climate Change And Its Increasing Costs: Who Pays?

By Sheila Kennedy

[Originally published at SheilaKennedy.net on July 21, 2014]

Climate Change And Its Increasing Costs: Who Pays?
Americans talk a lot about growing inequality, but we often fail to recognize how frequently poorer folks shoulder the costs of change simply because existing systems work that way. “The way things are” often translates into an unthinking acceptance of burdens that should—and could–be reallocated. 

A recent column in the LA Times by Mark Schapiro makes that case with numerous and telling examples. 

Congress may continue to resist a carbon tax, but Schapiro points out that the American middle and working classes are already paying for the costs of climate change. Those costs may not look like the much-disdained carbon tax, but if we are honest, they amount to one. Every time the average American uses fossil fuels, he increases his tax burden. 

Schapiro counts the costs of recovering from Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and a growing number of major droughts—the sorts of dramatic climate “incidents” that are likely to become much more frequent as climate change advances. And he details the economic consequences of changing weather patterns for all of us. 
“Start with food: Farmers have always faced good years and bad years, but as bad years get more frequent, taxpayers pick up more and more of the tab. When the Government Accountability Office issued its biannual audit of the government’s highest financial risks last year, for the first time since the list was launched in 1990 climate change was identified as a major financial threat, specifically because of the government’s flood and crop insurance programs.” 
Federally subsidized payouts for crop insurance have skyrocketed (from $4.3 billion in 2010 to $10.8 billion in 2011 and to $17.3 billion in 2012). Even more significantly, the USDA has estimated that the 2012 drought led to a 20% jump in meat prices. And the price of cereals has doubled since 2000, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, again due to climate change. 

Acidification of the oceans and rising sea levels (from melting ice packs and glaciers) have given us declining yields—and soaring costs—of shellfish. 

The list goes on. And that’s just at the grocery. 

Scientists writing in the journal Health Affairs report that “over the first nine years of this century, six “climate-related” events (floods, hurricanes, infectious disease outbreaks) led to 760,000 encounters with the healthcare system amounting to as much as $14 billion in health costs.” 

Even that substantial sum is dwarfed by the millions spent by the CDC and other research institutions to study the ways in which climate change is enabling an ever-expanding universe of bacteria and diseases affecting humans, plants and animals in new and troubling ways. 

There is much more, but the bottom line is that the general public–that’s you and me– bears the costs of climate change through both higher prices and higher taxes; meanwhile, the fossil fuel companies contributing to the problem continue to enjoy massive subsidies. 

The farmer who needs fuel for his combine, the factory worker who fills his tank for his commute to work, the soccer mom doing car pool duty—these are the people who are paying the tax that isn’t labeled a tax. 

The major corporate producers of these fossil fuels continue to make unprecedented, outsize profits, thanks in large part to public policies that underwrite and subsidize fossil fuel exploration. Those energy policies exacerbate inequality by placing the costs of climate change and energy exploration almost entirely upon the consumer. 

There are obviously much more important reasons for addressing climate change than the unfair allocation of costs—reasons of life and death. But those of us who advocate for responsible environmental policies also need to insure that the costs of necessary remedial measures are equitably distributed. 

We need to take care that the burdens do not always fall on the most vulnerable–and in this case, at least, the least culpable—Americans.



Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana's ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI's Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at www.sheilakennedy.net. For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..

Anti-Gay Colorado Baker Defends Position - Would Discriminate Against Pagans As Well


Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips
Late last year Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado lost in court after a gay couple filed a public accommodation complaint. Shop owner Jack Phillips readily admitted he discriminated against the couple (in refusing to provide service because of the couple's sexual orientation), but claimed that his religious beliefs should exempt him from the state laws surrounding public accommodation discrimination. The law (and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission) didn't quite see it that way.

After losing an initial hearing last December and then an appeal of that decision this May, Phillips hasn't backed down from his belief that religious belief should allow him to discriminate against LGBT people through his business. In fact, to bolster his position, Phillips now claims (via a new appeal filed by Alliance Defending Freedom) he discriminates against other people as well so he should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT people.

"Nor does Jack create cakes or any baked goods for Halloween, because he does not wish to participate in the celebration of what he believes is a pagan holiday," the appeal brief states. Apparently, Phillips believes his religion also gives him the right to discriminate against customers based on their religion as well - something covered under both state and federal civil rights legislation.

As Jeremy Hooper aptly pointed out in his analysis of this new appeal, "So while I know Phillips and the ADF are including this line to make his discrimination against same-sex couples seems less targeted, some would argue that he is opening himself up to more scrutiny (if not legal action) by holding this public position."

Legally speaking, claiming that discrimination against one protected group of people should be tolerated based on similar discrimination against other  (protected) groups doesn't hold water; if anything, the argument makes a stronger case for sanctions against the offending party. Pragmatically speaking, the notion that Phillips believes targeting Pagans in addition to LGBT citizens makes his position stronger comes off as desperate and almost humorous...almost.

It's almost worth testing the theory. Are there any practicing Pagans out there that would be willing to contact Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a Halloween cake for the upcoming holiday this Autumn? Even better - are there any practicing Pagans in Colorado that could stop into the shop and place an order in person? We'd love to see the results.


About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at Peacock Panache as well as his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms