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Laelth's Journal
Laelth's Journal
November 24, 2013

Remember this: Iran gave us Ronald Reagan.

Those who celebrate the recent signs that the United States is moving toward a peaceful relationship with Iran should remember that it was Iran that was principally responsible for Ronald Reagan's election in 1980. Had it not been for the hostage crisis, it is likely that James Earl Carter Jr., the 39th President of the United States and the only Georgian ever elected to that office, would have been re-elected in 1980. If that had happened, it is likely that Ronald Reagan would never have risen to prominence and that we would not have fallen into the supply-side, voodoo-economics disaster into which Reagan led us so gleefully. Morning in America, indeed!

I am not a hawk, and I do not favor or advocate war with Iran, but the map below shows that we have been working on isolating Iran and preparing to fight Iran for a long time:

The fact of the matter is that from 1979-1981 (for 444 days) the Islamic Republic of Iran [font color=red]embarrassed[/font] the greatest Empire the world has ever known, and it appears that we vowed (Democrats and Republicans alike) to avenge this embarrassment.

President Obama has given signs that he intends to back away from our plan to seek revenge, and I applaud that move, even if it means that we have angered some allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. Peace is still better than war, and I welcome this peace, even though it also represents a belligerent move on our part--one that Party loyalists are far too happy to ignore. As I have argued elsewhere, this is part of the "pivot" in US foreign relations toward a greater focus on Asia. Iran sells most of its oil to China, and just as the TPP is a move to isolate China, so this peace deal with Iran is a move to threaten China's oil supply. We are changing focus, for better or for worse.

It's very un-progressive to lack respect for foreign countries and their citizens, and I do respect the younger generations in Iran (who want more freedom and have been unjustly sanctioned for the acts of their parents and grand-parents). That said, I have a special kind of loathing for Iran, and I am skeptical of any plan to make peace with Iran because I still blame them for Ronald Reagan and 30+ years of supply-side economics.

Peace with Iran is a noble goal, but I will never love Iran, and I will always remember the effects their Islamic revolution had on my country. America must share the blame, here, for installing and propping-up the Shah as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. In many ways, we caused Iran's Islamic revolution, but part of me wishes (and many people who actually are hawks agree) that we had used Iran to send a message to the world that it's just not cool to take Americans hostage, and, if you do, you will pay a heavy price.

Perhaps that message has been received, and if it was received without our going to war, all the better. I'll still never forgive Iran for giving us Ronald Reagan, even if I do forgive some Democrats for being hawks in regards to Iran.


November 22, 2013

Here's what I can say that might be useful.

Conservatives often claim that those of us on the left hate America. They mistake our continuing desire to create a more prefect Union for hatred of America, itself. On the issue of race in America, we have a classic "glass half-empty/glass half-full" problem. Yes, there's still racism in America. No doubt about it, but we have made enormous progress on this issue--progress that no other country has made (from what I can tell in my limited experience). Rather than criticize the United States for work that is not yet completed, I prefer to celebrate the work we have done and the progress we have made.

1) Race was an issue that was discussed during our Constitutional Conventions.
2) We fought a war over this issue from 1861-1865.
3) We enacted the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (directly to address this issue) shortly after the conclusion of said war.
4) We integrated our military in the 1940s.
5) We got Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
6) We enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
7) We enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965

And we have done a lot more that I did not have the time to research and list. No country on Earth has this long, legal history of dealing with the issue of racism. As a civil rights attorney, I have litigated cases (as an advocate for Plaintiffs) under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and while the law's not perfect, it is a good law, and it has had the desired effect of limiting racism in employment decisions.

I am proud of my country for the progress it has made, and my experience tells me that other countries have not made the progress we have on the issue of race--not even close. It's your choice if you want to continue to see this as a "glass half-empty" problem. Certainly, we have not yet reached the promised land. There is much more we should do to combat injustice. That said, I am quite proud of the progress we have made, and I would like to argue that those of us on the left could benefit from taking some pride in this country and recognizing the progress we have made while we continue to work together to make America even better.

just a thought ...


November 21, 2013

Celebration time!

Forgive me for gushing, but the Senate's decision to erode the filibuster is momentous. Its significance is beyond what most Democrats comprehend, so let me let you see what I see.

First off, the filibuster stinks. It has been a pernicious tool used by low-population states to impede progress in this country since 1787. It wasn't completely destroyed today (I wish it had been), but for the first time in decades, we weakened it, and this bodes well for the entire country.

What most Americans do not understand is that most laws are made by judges. Yes, the Constitution is the highest law of the land, but it's pretty skimpy. It doesn't cover a lot of legal ground. Statutes of the Federal Government are the next highest law of the land, and they cover a lot, but Congress can't pay attention to the minutia. They're too busy. Most laws are what we call case law, i.e. interpretations of statutes--laws made by judges. What the recent change to the filibuster rule in the Senate has allowed is for President Obama to nominate (and, presumably, get confirmation for) any judge he wants to appoint to the Federal Courts (SCOTUS excepted, as per today's rule change). I would have preferred, of course, the complete elimination of the filibuster, but I am quite happy with what we got.

This is a big deal. As an attorney, and as an officer of the Court, I am thrilled that the President now has the power to appoint liberal judges wherever and whenever he sees fit withour the need for any Republican consent. This move will have a lasting effect on our republic. Our laws will change. In the future, conservative laws will be given limited interpretation. Liberal laws, on the other hand, will be given wide latitude and will be given broad interpretation as more liberal judges are appointed by the President.

The judiciary (of which I am a part) is, theoretically, an equal branch of our government. Today, we got a rule that will allow the judiciary to become (quite quickly) much more liberal. I'm pleased as punch! Time to ...

[font size=48 color=blue]CELEBRATE![/font]


November 14, 2013

I have absolutely no interest in defending the TPP.

I will, however, take a stab at defending the President, here.

Here's what I can say:

I like second term Barack Obama a lot better than first term Barack Obama. Now that he's "settled into the job," so to speak, and now that he's freed from worrying about his re-election, he has become a better President. Take Syria, for example. From what I can tell, he was under serious pressure to invade Syria for several years. Our Western European allies wanted it. They're almost completely dependent on natural gas from Russia, and they don't like that. They wanted a pipeline trough Syria to the Mediterranean to bring natural gas from northern Iraq just to ease the pressure of Russia's monopoly. Despite this intense pressure, the President delayed, and when the matter came to a crisis, he managed to keep us out of war. That was impressive, but it seems to be his MO in regards to actions he does not want to take. He delays, and then waits for the right moment to blow up the whole idea.

That's what I am hoping for with the TPP. He may not actually like it, but he's under intense pressure to do it from both our oligarchs and from powerful members of the Party that he leads. Perhaps he's keeping his options open, saying the right things to our oligarchs and to the party faithful who want the TPP, but then quietly gumming up the works behind the scenes. I recall that he was recently scheduled to meet in Asia regarding the TPP, but, somehow, he found an excuse not to go (it may have been the Syria crisis). In any event, I suspect (when I am feeling generous) that the President may, indeed, oppose the TPP. He may simply be delaying and waiting for the right moment to blow up the negotiations and take it off the table, as he did with plans to invade Syria.

That's as much as I can do on this. Of course, if he ends up signing the TPP in something close to its present form, I'll be furious, and I will regret having given him the benefit of the doubt, but, at this moment in time, I am willing to wait and see how this plays out. That said, I encourage all of us to keep our eyes on this and to agitate--i.e. give the President cover in the event that he sees an opportunity to back out.


November 12, 2013

If not Warren, then whom? If not now, then when?

While I appreciate the wisdom of those who regularly remind us to keep our eyes on the 2014 prize, the fact is that many of us on the left want to see a real liberal elected President in 2016, and we're running out of time to recruit a candidate. It must be done now. The machinery of the campaign needs time to grow, and, with only three years left before the 2016 contest, time is running short.

So, I ask DU: If not Elizabeth Warren, then whom?

We need to nominate a woman. This is almost conventional wisdom, now, in the Democratic Party as Noam Scheiber, the Senior Editor of The New Republic, argues in a recent essay. I also think we greatly improve our chances of winning by running women in this political environment, as I argued here.

So, if we need to nominate a liberal woman, whom should we choose? Who's the third best fundraiser in the Democratic Party? It's Elizabeth Warren, who falls right behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Warren’s recent speech at the annual League of Conservation Voters banquet drew the largest crowd in 15 years.


To those of you who proudly and definitively announce that Elizabeth Warren isn't running for President, I ask you this: whom else should we try to recruit? Elizabeth Warren is the best shot we've got to get a liberal in the White House. She's liberal, she's brilliant, she's articulate, and her record is, to my knowledge, spotless. She carries no baggage. Plus, she's an excellent fundraiser.

I would also add that she's a savvy politician, and that she keeps her options open. She may have said she wasn't running, but Barack Obama said that too. Big deal. What Scheiber's essay shows is that she is focused on her policy goals, and she doesn't care how she gets there.

The proper interpretation of Warren’s prodigious p.r. efforts, then, isn’t that she’s especially taken with the idea of media stardom. It’s that she is relentlessly, perhaps ruthlessly, maybe even a bit messianically, focused on advancing her policy agenda. Everything else is merely instrumental.

This is what the banking industry and its Republican allies (as well as internal opponents like Geithner) didn’t fully appreciate when they effectively killed Warren’s hopes of permanently heading the consumer agency in 2011. Anyone who knows Warren will tell you she had no particular ambition to be a senator. She decided that the Senate would suffice as a way to agitate for her issues only when Obama stiffed her for the CFPB job—an enormous disappointment after she spent months lining up support among banks. “It’s poetic justice. At end of the day, if the banking community hadn’t been so apoplectic, everyone could have decided it’s this little tiny agency, who really cares?” says Anita Dunn, Obama’s White House communications director in 2009. “Instead, she ends up as a senior senator from Massachusetts on the banking committee, blocking Larry at the Fed.”


What Scheiber shows is that Warren, if she could be convinced that running for President was the best way to achieve her goals, might just do it.

If not Warren, then whom?

And, if not now, then when?

Now is the time to work on recruiting her (drafting her, if necessary) to run in 2016. We can't afford to wait. While I appreciate the efforts of those who want to see the Democratic Party re-take the House and hold the Senate in 2014 (and I support those goals, obviously), the fact is that Elizabeth Warren has to be thinking about this issue now, and she needs our encouragement in order to put in place all the pieces necessary just to preserve her option to run.

So, I invite all liberal Democrats to write, e-mail, or call the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, and let her know how you feel.

If not Warren, then whom? If not now, then when?

The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4543

E-mail her here.

Donate here.


November 5, 2013

Few people understand employment law.

All of the following is pertinent only to the state of Georgia (where I am licensed to practice law), but it ought to give you some understanding of how employment law works. Please do not take this post as legal advice. I am not your attorney. For specific legal questions, consult an attorney in your jurisdiction.

Can you fire someone for being a Republican? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a Democrat? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a conservative? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a liberal? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a Christian? No. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion.
Can you fire someone for being gay? Yes. No federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation although a bill addressing this question is currently before the Senate (or has been passed by the Senate--I am not sure which), but said bill will not pass in the House, and Federal law on this subject is clear, at the moment, that it is completely acceptable to hire or fire employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
Can you fire someone for being straight. Yes, for the reason listed above.
Can you fire someone for being a man? No. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Can you fire someone for being a woman? No, for the reason listed above.
Can you fire someone for being nice? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being ugly? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a drug user? Yes.
Can you fire someone because they don't use drugs? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being white (i.e. Caucasian)? No. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.
Can you fire someone for having blonde hair? Yes, so long as race is not the true, underlying factor in the employment decision.
Can you fire someone for being a very, very sweet person? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being short? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being tall? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being an Italian? No. Discrimination on the basis of national origin is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Can you fire someone for being a really good worker? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a really bad worker? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a beautiful smile? Yes.
Can you fire someone for wearing blue jeans? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a pierced nose? Yes.
Can you fire someone for crying on the job? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a tan? No. Discrimination on the basis of "color" is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Can you fire someone for being a witch? Yes.
Can you fire someone for not being a witch? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a big schlong? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a bigot? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being completely tolerant? Yes.
Can you fire someone for owning a Toyota? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a racist? Yes.
Can you fire someone for not being a racist? Yes.

Can you fire someone for anything that is not proscribed by Federal law? In many states, yes. In Georgia, at least, this is the case. Some states have expanded the protections available to workers, but in the "right to work" states, minimal Federal protection is all you get.

As you can see by the list above, Federal law prohibits "adverse employment action" only against those who belong to specified, protected classes. At the moment, Federal law says employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of age, national origin, sex, religion, color, and race (and this is different from color). That's about it. Otherwise, in the right to work states, employers are free to discriminate on the basis of any other criterion they choose.

Hope many find this useful.


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Wills Point, TX
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 02:36 PM
Number of posts: 32,017

About Laelth

I am a native Georgian who's currently hiding out in Texas. I am a liberal, and I am extremely proud of the imperfect (but evolving) republic that we call the United States of America.
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