Monday Open Thread [1.28.13]

Filed in Open Thread by on January 28, 2013

In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory. It is pretty interesting.

Bob Woodward on why the President chose fomer Senator Chuck Hagel (R) to be Secretary of Defense:

“The two share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world. This worldview is part hawk and part dove. It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush. It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq war unnecessary. War is an option, but very much a last resort.”

“So, this thinking goes, the U.S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back — this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided.”

In Allen Loudell’s blog on the surprise of Senator Tom Carper introducing a bill that would grant statehood to the District of Columbia, he included a paragraph that I found perplexing:

Since many Republicans regard D.C. statehood as tantamount to handing the Democrats two new perpetual U.S. Senate seats, and a Democratic House seat, this latest statehood legislation may be only symbolic. Critics of D.C. statehood also offer legal objections: The U.S. Constitution holds that only states can be represented in Congress, and consequently, a Constitutional Amendment would be required.

First, it reveals just how simultaneously racist and evil the Republicans are. They justify denying full citizenship and representation to the residents of the District of Columbia because those residents will never vote for the Republican Party because the residents are black. Ok. So according to the Republican Party, enjoyment of your full rights under the Constitution and having representation in Congress depends entirely on your love of the GOP.


But, shockingly, the more troubling thing about this paragraph is the second sentence. The sentence says that people criticize the DC Statehood bill, which will, by definition, make the District of Columbia a state entitled to representation in Congress by two Senators and at least one Representative, because the Constitution presumably requires a Constitutional Amendment in order to create a new state. That is 100% false, and a simple google search would have reviewed that to either the critics (who are presumably teabaggers, conservatives or Republicans, and thus by their nature are prone to be unintelligent) or to Mr. Loudell, who neglects to correct that impression in his blog post.

The U.S. Constitution is pretty brief on how new states are created, noting only that “[n]ew States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union” and forbidding a new state to be created out of the territory of an existing state, or the merging of two or more states into one, without the consent of both Congress and all the state legislatures involved. It does not state that an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is required to create a new state. The Constitution leaves it pretty much up to Congress to pass legislation creating new states.

If you haven’t yet…Just listen to John Kerry on climate change.

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  1. jason330 says:

    Maybe that will be the final straw causing Texas to secede from the Union? We can hope.

  2. cassandra_m says:

    Wow! Texas schools actually still teaching creationism.

    In Texas public schools, children learn that the Bible provides scientific proof that Earth is 6,000 years old, that the origins of racial diversity trace back to a curse placed on Noah’s son, and that astronauts have discovered “a day missing in space” that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still.

    And then there’s this:

    Perhaps the wackiest Bible lesson was the one presented to students at Amarillo ISD titled: “Racial Origins Traced from Noah.” A chart presented in the classroom claims that it’s possible to identify which of Noah’s three sons begat various racial and ethnic groups. Chancey explains:

    ‘According to the chart, “Western Europeans” and “Caucasians” descend from Japeth, “African races” and Canaanites from Ham, and “Jews, Semitic people, and Oriental races” from Shem. A test question shows that the chart was taken seriously: “Shem is the father of a) most Germanic races b) the Jewish people c) all African people.”‘

  3. pandora says:

    Oh my. Why isn’t what Texas is doing to its school children considered a form of abuse? They are raising an entire generation of kids who will be educationally behind their peers in other states (and the world) and struggle if they want to become biologists, physicists, chemists, etc. Because creationism and science do not mix – ever.

  4. jason330 says:

    Cassandra, It looks like the BSA is going to try and not have one national policy on gays, but allow it to be handled locally. Sounds like a recipe for everyone to be discontent.

  5. pandora says:

    Hmmm… what about the people of South American? Did Noah have a secret illegitimate son he kept quiet about? And Shem’s genes are very diverse – Jews, Semitic people, and Oriental races?

  6. Joanne Christian says:

    cassandra, I wouldn’t buy a new neckerchief just yet. That item has been on their annual agenda for awhile now. With 70% of their charters coming from mainstream religious units, and most of those being pretty fundamental, that’s a huge risk for enrollment. Compound that w/ the recent purchase of the Bechtel Jamboree site of 10,000 acres GIVEN to them by a man who was sick and tired of all the flap over using federal property when open gays were denied membership, AND the additional 25 million some company just gave to support the mission of scouting that has been derailed because of the distraction of where they stand with membership for openly gay lifestyles–and I would say –not this decade. Most devoted, dedicated Scouts I know, aren’t opposed to the gay membership–they are pissed it’s hijacked such a valuable, skill-building, life enhancing, rich experience for any male. I think they were real comfortable with DADT, and the whole emphasis on go away gay, constantly highlighted and given top marquis really distracted and usurped so many positive attributes of the program. Throwing the baby out with the bath water seemed to be the goal for activists, when scouts were wanting to be contributing positively, civically, and responsibly–very well acknowledging their current way may no longer need to be so rigid–but felt it was so devisive to be so torched on this wedge issue, when so many other things, MILLIONS of boys credit their success as adults to. It is just so unfortunate it has gotten as ugly as it has. But the recent money and donations given to them as a belief in the program, and a F-U to the feds for involving themselves in a private organization may speak louder than any GLAAD program–who at this point are welcome to start a Gay Boy Scout program, and haven’t–yet have no problem giving a black eye to a rather otherwise decent organization–who like thousands of teams, laws, families, clubs, and organizations everywhere are trying to figure out what to do. YES. It may be time. But BSA has to broker a very strategic rebranding, especially in light of the massive contributions made to them, and why those contributions were made to them. Just some food for thought. Maybe campfire stew and s’mores in the future 🙂

  7. cassandra m says:

    Local handling lets the bigots get isolated. And while I get what Joanne is saying here, there isn’t much point to an organization that tells itself that it is a valuable, skill-building, life-enhancing experience as long as you are One Of Us. Bigotry is not a leadership skill. Certainly not in this world. If you are a youth organization institutionalizing bigotry, then being torched is part of the program.

  8. cassandra m says:

    From that Woodward article:

    “The two share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world.

    Man do I ever hope this is true. There is a big difference between defending this country and being the world’s policeman. And I really think it is time for us to make sure that we can defend ourselves, but stop being on call for every single conflagration that obsesses CNN.

  9. Joanne Christian says:

    No cassandra, it’s de-institutionalizing the assigned bigotry that will be their leadership skill in handling, and how to work that out. Having local units decide is one thing–then what? Will they be permitted to regional camps, jamborees, Philmont,and world gatherings? Sexual orientation was never an emphasis in scouting, and it’s become the headliner. That’s the pushback–how not to make this about sexual orientation in the institution. The Scouts are over 100 years old, they don’t even want them lighting fires anymore, given the ecology piece–they add badges as skills and innovations demand–they just never figured membership criteria would be called into such scrutiny. If anything, allowing a woman in Boy Scouts they were probably better positioned to handle. It’s new territory, like I said for many institutions, and is really requiring alot of tolerance on all sides to get there. It’s like the Title IX of this generation. And you’re hearing from the first girl to take auto mechanics…….I have every bit of faith they are going to get there. But they are going to have their Citadels and such along the way.

  10. SussexWatcher says:

    “they don’t even want them lighting fires anymore, given the ecology piece”

    Utterly false. Fires are only prohibited in local areas with fire bans. There is no BSA push away from fires because of “ecology.”

  11. cassandra m says:

    Sexual orientation was never an emphasis in scouting, and it’s become the headliner. That’s the pushback–how not to make this about sexual orientation in the institution.

    Sexual orientation became a headliner once they made it plain to the world that they would not include gay young men to their programs. If Boy Scouts weren’t institutionalizing this bigotry, no one would have made an issue of it. It is the bigots that are the issue, not the people fighting the bigotry.

  12. Joanne Christian says:

    Sussex Watcher–you may want to update your 1968 Scout Handbook, with the “Leave No Trace” aspect of scouting embraced for years now. I didn’t say PROHIBIT. That friendly, requisite campfire/bonfire is to be weighed against a portable stove, or a limited, very contained, purpose driven fire. But hey, don’t let me interfere w/ your intent or justification to “light ’em up”, because you’re at scout camp. Old habits die hard–which brings me back to the original dialog cassandra and I are having. Thanks for the help here :).