I have recently been combing through different maps of the United States of America and I have noticed an alarming trend taking shape. What I have found is that there are almost two separate nations with two sets of beliefs and ideologies. It is not just one or two issues that create this rift, but there is indifference in almost every aspect of life. The differences are separating us further, creating the Divided States of America (Or as I call them, America and ‘Murrica). Keep in mind, I am not arguing any point here, I am just producing factual data and evidence. Take it however you wish. Let’s take a look. Continue reading
Since 2012, when President Barack Obama talked about raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address, it has been a hot button issue that has stirred up emotion and rhetoric on both sides. Many people like to call America a “Welfare State”, though they fail to realize the direct relationship between living wages and welfare. Despite political talking points and media hyperbole, there are some legitimate facts we should be looking at, from places where higher minimum wages have already been implemented. Real world examples should hold far more weight than anything your local politician can spout. Continue reading
Amidst the Gay Marriage hysteria following the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling allowing same-sex marriage to be recognized throughout the United States, the Supreme Court also ruled on another, more important issue that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Last week, the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing independent, nonpartisan commissions to draw out the districts for state and local maps. This decision was a giant step for democracy and could drastically change the political landscape moving forward. Continue reading
Every team is looking to make a splash during this year’s free agency period, but not every team has money to sign big names. There are teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a ton of cap room but are not expected to be big players this season. Then there are teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a little money to spend and are looking to make impactful moves to secure the future of the franchise. I gave a Free Agency summary earlier, but here is a more thorough breakdown. Below is my list of the top ten free agents, ranked in order by their ability to change a franchise, and my predictions for where they will end up. Continue reading
In case you haven’t heard, LeBron James has decided to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But he is not going anywhere so we will try not to mention him again. His Cavs running mate Kevin Love, on the other hand, has also decided to opt out and there is no guarantee he will stay in Cleveland next season.
While teams adding new players get the most attention in Free Agency, the bigger story this year may be the stars that are looking to stay put. Marc Gasol, the center for the Memphis Grizzlies has many suitors, but odds are he is staying in Memphis. Jimmy Butler had a breakout season for the Chicago Bulls, and their owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, said they will do what they must to keep Butler there. Draymond Green of the World Champion Golden State Warriors is expected to be offered a maximum contract to keep him in a Warriors uniform. Continue reading
Following the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that legalized gay marriage across the nation, a firestorm erupted among conservative media and Republican politicians. Some see it as an attack on religious liberty, some see it as big government sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. Perhaps the most interesting comments came from the dissenting opinions of the Supreme Court Justices that were on the losing side of the ruling, mainly Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia.
During the arguments they bickered back and forth on what is or is not Constitutional. During the hearing it became clear that Scalia did not even know the law surrounding the case. The conservative Justices gave no compelling argument, outside of the religious realm, that could hold up. They gave no facts or logic that could not be completely disputed or disregarded. Thus, in the end, equality won out and people’s rights were restored. That didn’t stop Scalia from making statements that have us questioning the relevance of the Supreme Court.
Scalia, in his dissent, said “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” Basically, he is saying that his job should not exist, that if we are to be a democracy, we can’t have nine unelected officials decide what is right for the entire nation. And that is actually something on which I can wholeheartedly agree with him. I have argued that same point myself, time and again.
His statement is not what I have an issue with here, it is the timing of it. Scalia never has an issue with nine unelected officials making decisions when he falls in the majority. He only whines like this when the rulings do not go his way. Imagine how much different we would be as a nation if he used that same logic in the Citizens United ruling. Imagine where we might be if he had that same opinion after the 2000 election was handed to George W. Bush by the Supreme Court, a move that many people today claim was unconstitutional and completely undemocratic.
Unfortunately, he only cares about democracy when it disagrees with his world view. Scalia is from the old world. He has already proven, many times, that not only is he out of touch with society, that he doesn’t even understand our laws as they are written or applied. This is a major problem for somebody who has so much power to shape and alter the direction our nation will take.
Now that we have identified the problem we need a solution. I’ve heard many call for Supreme Court Justices to be elected officials, voted in by the people. The issue I have with this is that it will lead to pandering for votes. It will create the same partisan misinformation that you get from other elections. And special interest and lobbying groups could then basically buy Justices the same way they currently attempt to buy elections (Thanks to the aforementioned Citizens United ruling). That will not work.
My solution is simple, you have most likely heard it before. We implement term limits on all unelected officials. The amount of time one can serve can be debated, whether four years, eight years, a decade. But it should not be a lifetime commitment. This will allow different perspectives into a position that has so much power. This would hopefully ensure that we will not be stuck with somebody like Scalia, who does not understand the law and is stuck in time somewhere in the middle of last century, for long enough for him to do serious damage.
Another way to weed out those who do not know or understand the law is to hold them more accountable, something that is not done at all today with our Supreme Court Justices. If any Justice demonstrates they do not understand the law or the Constitution, they can be voted out by our elected officials and replaced using the same process we always have, Presidential appointment and Congressional approval.
These solutions may not fix everything that is wrong with the Supreme Court, and it may not completely fix our democratic process, but it would be a step in the right direction. This change would help to make sure our Justices are in touch with our current society, with We The People. It would hold our unelected officials accountable and it would provide us with some level of control over the Courts, who have far too much power to begin with.
Today, in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the federal subsidies for ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act nationwide. This is the second major court victory for President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. The court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges.
When the ruling was announced, Obama trumpeted his victory from the Rose Garden, saying “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
In 2012 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act was Constitutional. This time around, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, sided with the majority, stating “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
The ruling ensures that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive do not depend on where they live.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock!
Tonight marks the beginning of the 2015 NBA Draft. Draft day usually begins with high hopes for franchises looking for a fresh start. There are some familiar faces in the lottery this year, like the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have not made the playoffs in eleven years. There are also some teams we are not used to seeing in the lottery, like the Los Angeles Lakers, who have the second pick, their highest pick since 1982 when they drafter “Big Game” James Worthy.
There are some players that are garnering attention in this draft. Over the last few weeks, many players have seen their stock rise or drop dramatically. But the players expected to be at the top have pretty much stayed constant. Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns is regarded as the best player in the draft. Another standout is Duke Blue Devils power forward Jahlil Okafor, who may be the best low post scorer in the draft. Ohio State Buckeyes star point guard D’Angelo Russell is widely regarded as the best point guard in this class. Some even call him the best passer to enter the NBA since Magic Johnson.
A couple of foreign-born players have shot up draft boards. The first is Kristaps Porzingis, the 6’11” 19-year-old forward from Latvia. He is drawing Dirk Nowitzki comparisons because of the ability to score from the outside at his size. Critics say he is still too young and slender, and that he needs a few years in the weight room before he is a real contributor. Another foreign-born player that is expected to be a lottery pick is Emmanuel Mudiay, the 19-year-old guard from China. The knock on him is his poor shooting ability, causing his stock to drop slightly.
There will be sixty picks in this years draft, and odds are that maybe one or two of these picks may change the fortune of their franchise. That is why, around draft day, expectations are so high and almost every team’s fans can be optimistic. Well, unless you are a Philadelphia 76ers fan.
Comedian Marc Maron landed the interview of a lifetime when President Barack Obama agreed to be interviewed on his “WTF Podcast” (Link to full interview). He had no idea his interview would stir up so many waves, especially for the reasons it did. And anybody who thought Maron, known for his IFC show “Maron”, was going to give an interview full of fluff was shocked at the turn the interview took.
The most controversial moment of the interview came while Obama was speaking about racism and said “… And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.” Yup, he dropped the “N” word in a public interview. And the media was sent into a frenzied state, making them miss the point of the entire interview.
They failed to mention what preceded the statement, when he said “We’re not cured of it (racism),” or that it was followed by “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200, 300 years prior.” He called racism “part of our DNA”.
Obama said some good things in the interview, he made some great points, and pointed out some truths that some Americans still will not admit. But, not surprisingly, the media missed most of it because they were too busy freaking out over one deeply rooted word. This is just another way our society, our media, likes to shift attention from something important to something trivial, just another way to keep deflecting the conversation.
After the interview, all the headlines read “Obama Uses “N” Word” or “President Says Racial Slur” or something along those lines. Truthfully, if the media was doing their job, the headlines would have read “Obama Makes Strong Statement About Racism, Gun Violence” or “President Obama says ‘Racism not dead.'” But Fox News and most Tea Party idiots completely missed the point.
During the conversation about racism, President Obama added:
“The point I made in the immediate aftermath of the killing was that I’ve done this way too often. During the course of my presidency, it feels as if a couple times a year I end up having to speak to the country, and to speak to a particular community about a devastating loss, and the grieving that the country feels is real, the sympathy, obviously the prioritizing, comforting the families, all of that’s important, but I think a part of the point I wanted to make was that it’s not enough just to feel bad. There are actions that could be taken to [prevent] events like this.”
Another issue that was lost in the media frenzy over the “N” word was Obama’s comments on gun violence. He said “I tell you, right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 6-year-olds were gunned down and Congress literally does nothing – yeah, that’s the closest I came to feeling disgusted during my presidency.”
Throughout his presidency he has pushed for stricter background checks, something that upward of 85% of Americans favor. He has consistently blamed the NRA for their control, their influence and power over Congress. In the interview, he said he did not expect Congress to pass any new laws, saying “The grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong”.
Now, I am not surprised that the media dropped the ball on this story. After all, like the Geico commercial says, “It’s What They Do”.
Whether you think he is for real or not, Donald Trump is the latest GOP candidate to throw his hat into the ring, as he announced on Tuesday that he intends to run for the nation’s highest office in 2016.
Trump, who has no political experience, is a business mogul worth around $9 Billion. He joined an already crowded list of potential Republican candidates. Despite his inexperience in politics and foreign policy, he believes he is the right person for the job.
During his announcement from Trump Towers in Manhattan, Trump said “I am officially running for president of the United States. We are going to make our country great again.”
Trump was not out to make friends, as he criticized everybody from President Barack Obama to other potential GOP candidates, and even George W. Bush. He shared some ideas on how to stop ISIS, saying ““Nobody could be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump.” He even proposed we build a “Great Wall” along the Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it.
At one point, Trump exclaimed “I’m really rich,” while waving a financial statement that showed his net worth at nearly $9 billion. “And that’s not bragging. That’s the kind of mindset you need.” Many people used this against him as proof that he is out of touch with the average American.
“Sadly the American dream is dead,” Trump said at the end of his speech. “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”