Over the past few months, federal and state courts have been finding that state bans on marriage equality or recognizing LGBT marriages are unconstitutional. Utah was the first, and it’s since been followed by Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, and New Mexico. While most of these are being appealed, Virginia’s is not, and in Kentucky, the Attorney General has refused to appeal, so an outside counsel will be used. In reaction, several states are attempting “religious freedom” bills to allow people to refuse LGBT’s on the basis of “religious objections.” Arizona, Kansas, and Indiana have all attempted it, with … poor results. Arizona’s governor vetoed the bill after massive backlash, while Kansas and Indiana allowed their bills to die in the legislatures. It’s not unexpected that there is going to be this sort of reaction, particularly in the “Red States,” where Republicans hold control and are acting on their base’s demands.
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Recently, the Defense Department announced its plan to reduce military forces, due to the coming end of our involvement in Afghanistan, and reductions in budgets.
“It’s the first budget that’s not a budget based on war footing. We’ve been at war for 13 years constantly, two wars,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Not unlike after every war the United States has been in, you reset your posture. You reset your assets. You reset your whole enterprise based on the new realities and based on preparing that institution for the challenges of the future. “
Hagel also placed part of the blame for the proposed shifts in spending on Congress.
Quite predictably, the Republicans started to scream about the cuts in forces.
The same arguments that were trotted out in 1967 are in vogue today. It’s “too expensive,”and “too burdensome.” It’s short-term thinking, and it’s sad. There was a time when both parties said “enough!,” and thought that rivers shouldn’t catch on fire. They had the will to do it, and it worked. Maybe it worked too well. Maybe if they could still smell the rivers, their constituents were getting sick with water-borne diseases, and they could watch fires on water, they’d realize that there was a problem.
In just the past few months, there have been a number of incidents which have, again, brought up the need for regulation and enforcement. Besides the chemical spill by the ironically named “Freedom Industries,” West Virginia also had a massive coal slurry spill into the rivers from a company called “Patriot Coal.” In North Carolina, a coal ash spill has contaminated the Dan River, which provides drinking water to two states.
In the previous post, I discussed “predictable outcomes” when it comes to regulatory weakness or lax enforcement in creating man-made disasters. I said they were due to political ideology or short-term economic concerns. There’s another type of disaster which can happen, when problems from a natural event end up being magnified into a man-made one. These stem from political ideology. Recently, a polar vortex moved south, and created winter storm conditions in the South. The result? Atlanta, Georgia became a parking lot. It wasn’t the only area in the South affected, Birmingham, Alabama had similar issues.
A day after up to 3 inches of snow in parts of Georgia caused horrific gridlock on ice-covered streets — particularly in metropolitan Atlanta where thousands were trapped on the roads overnight — several major thoroughfares remained a mess due to lingering accidents and other problems.
In neighboring Alabama, there was a similar scene playing out. “There are still four or five areas on our interstates that are still treacherous. The traffic is still proceeding very slowly, but we are making progress,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.
The news over the past month has had a number of “disaster” stories, and in early January, there was the chemical spill in West Virginia, which left over 300,000 people without drinking water. In the aftermath of this, there has been a lot of screaming by the affected population, along with a round of finger pointing and denial of responsibility by various elected officials. The sad part? Things like these are predictable. The actual incidents and timing may not be, but that something like this will happen is.