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The Pros and Cons of Bobby Jindal for President

Yesterday, Bobby Jindal announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016. Would he make a good President of the United States?

Pros:
– Jindal has impressive raw intelligence. He earned a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University.
– In Congress, Jindal supported increased funding for AMTRAK.
– Jindal voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
– Jindal has supported legislation to require additional disclosure of the sources of campaign contributions.
– Jindal has supported legislation to provide protections to whistleblowers.
bobby jindal
Cons:
– Jindal wants to increase spending on the U.S. military.
– Jindal seeks to expose Americans to marketplace restrictions of their health care access rather than providing guarantees of medical care.
– Jindal opposes safety protections on offshore oil drilling rigs.
– Jindal supports government welfare payments to oil and gas corporations.
– Jindal opposes efforts to slow climate change and mitigate its impact.
– Jindal supports efforts by corporations to keep the minimum wage low.
– Jindal wants a return to sanctions and travel bans against Americans traveling to Cuba.
– Jindal supported George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and wants the United States to go back to war there.
– Jindal has been a strong supporter of unconstitutional government surveillance against American citizens.
– Jindal supports the removal of constitutional rights from people accused of certain crimes.
– Jindal seeks to undo protections for endangered species.
– Jindal supports using government money to prop up financially unstable private religious schools.
– Jindal supports efforts to block courts from protecting Americans who have suffered from government establishment of religion.
– Jindal opposes equality under the law for heterosexuals and homosexuals.
– Jindal has some problems accepting the reality of racism in America. Though he himself was forced to use his nickname, “Bobby”, instead of using his real birth name, “Piyush”, because of the nasty prejudice of voters in Louisiana, Jindal places the blame for discrimination upon those who are discriminated against, urging non-Europeans to accept that it is their responsibility to assimilate into the culture of European-Americans, if they want to get ahead in life.
– Jindal proudly displays the support of the racist, homophobic fake rednecks from the Duck Dynasty TV show.
– Jindal opposes net neutrality, and wants the government to open up the Internet to control by the most powerful corporations.

Churches Using Facial Recognition Software To Control Their Members

Researchers from places like the American Religious Identification Survey and the Pew Center on Religion and Public life find that, as the years progress, more and more Americans are declaring themselves to belong to no particular religion, and to have no interest in going to church. In response, religious leaders scratch their heads as if this cultural trend is a mystery, and ask themselves whatever could be causing people to turn away from their glorious services. If religious leaders would honestly look at the record of ever-expanding religious abuses, however, they might ask themselves why anyone bothers to remain in their flocks.

We have all become used to hearing about sexual abuse of children by churches from multiple denominations – not just the Catholic Church. The latest revelation of religious abuse has nothing to do with sex, though.

It has to do with electronic surveillance. Churches have begun using the tools of Big Brother to control their congregants.

One new service, in business for just weeks, but already working with scores of churches around the world, uses facial recognition software to “track the attendance of specific members.”

It’s called Churchix – a spinoff of Israeli software company Face Six. Churchix software scans through video taken through surveillance cameras installed around church grounds in the name of “security”, and then keeps records in a database of which church members are attending church, and what activities they are involved in while at church.

church facial recognition software

Churchix isn’t designed to prevent violent attacks like the one in South Carolina last week. Its facial recognition software only works when it has a clear photograph of a person ahead of time. So, strangers simply wouldn’t be registered by the system, and wouldn’t trigger any alarms.

Churchix recommends that church leaders manipulate their members into participating into the system. “The church can offer members different incentives that will happily make them look at the camera.” Churches could offer members photo directories, free food, or even financial incentives. Or, religious leaders can simply find a way to take congregants’ photographs without asking their permission.

Then, with video cameras installed throughout the church, the surveillance can begin. Churchix automatically creates data reports of who is coming to church, and who isn’t, so that church leaders can take corrective action.

The CEO of Face Six acknowledges that religious leaders probably aren’t going to ask for the consent of church members before implementing facial recognition surveillance. “I don’t think churches tell people,” he said to Kashmir Hill of Fusion, “We encourage them to do so, but I don’t think they do.”

This electronic surveillance by religious organizations isn’t some external, worldly scheme that’s being foisted upon churches through commercial pressure. Churchix was developed only after several large churches approached Face Six asking for a product that they could use to automatically spy on an control their congregations.

Churchix may have a successful business model, but I think they got the spelling of their product wrong. They should have called it Church Icks.

churchix religious surveillance

Level the Playing Field to Public: We’re Not Running Candidates for President. LPF to FEC: Yes, We Certainly Are.

One of the reasons the Americans Elect corporation failed to attract significant public support in its bid to run a privatized candidate for U.S. President in 2012 was that it declared something in public, then actually did the exact opposite in practice — not just once but over and over and over and over and over again.  That practice damaged trust.

Americans Elect was such a damaged brand by the end of 2012 that it ditched its name and rebirthed itself as Level the Playing Field.  But by whatever name you call it — Level the Playing Field or Americans Elect — the game this corporation plays unfortunately seems to be the same: say one thing, do another.

Take, for instance, the website owned and operated by Level the Playing Field called changetherule.org.  You can see in this screen capture of changetherule.org that it is avowedly a copyrighted property acting as a project of Level the Playing Field:

According to Change the Rule, it is a Copyrighted Property owned and run as a project of Level the Playing Field, a direct successor to Americans Elect

On the “FAQ” [Frequently Asked Questions] page of changetherule.org, Level the Playing Field provides these seemingly straight-up answers to questions about its aspirations:

Americans Elect/Level the Playing Field/Change the Rule FAQ q. Are you supporting an independent candidate for President in 2016? a. No.  Please do not assume that any of the signatories to the Change the Rule letter are committed to voting for an independent candidate in 2016.  Individually, we may each decide that the Democratic or Republican candidate is superior.  What each of us wants is the same thing the American people want:  the restoration of honest competition in the way we select our president, as required by the law.

“Q: Are you supporting an independent candidate for President in 2016?

A: No.”

Seems so straightforward, doesn’t it?

But Level the Playing Field isn’t just talking to the public.  Yesterday, it filed a lawsuit against the FEC.  You can read the full text of that lawsuit here.  That lawsuit says something entirely different:

“Plaintiff Level the Playing Field (“LPF”) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation not affiliated with any candidate or candidate committee. Its purpose is to promote reforms that allow for greater competition and choice in elections for federal office, particularly for the Presidency and Vice Presidency.  LPF is the successor to Americans Elect (“AE”), which obtained signatures sufficient to qualify for ballot access in 41 states in connection with the 2012 presidential election.  LPF intends to recruit qualified independent candidates to run for President and Vice President on an LPF ticket in the 2016 election.

LPF intends to recruit qualified independent candidates to run on a nonpartisan presidential ticket in 2016. If the CPD’s rule remains in place, it will injure LPF’s ability to field a 2016 ticket, just as it injured AE’s ability to do so.”

1. Say one thing 2. Do another. 3. Lose credibility.

Those three steps go together.  When will the hedge fund operators behind Americans Elect and Level the Playing Field learn this simple truth?

 

Washington, DC to Rally Against Torture on Friday, June 26

What do Amnesty International USA, CODEPINK: Women For Peace, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee have in common?  They are among the activist organizations that are gathering in front of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC at 4 pm on Friday, June 26 to call for an full investigation and prosecution of those who directly violated federal law and the higher ethical standards of mankind by committing torture in the name of the American people.  America’s agents of torture have gone wholly unprosecuted despite the clear standard of the law in this regard and despite the belated admission of President Barack Obama that yes, agents of the United States have engaged in torture.

If this is a cause you believe in, if the Washington, DC area is a place you live in, then this is a protest you should participate in.

Annotated Power To The People Plan From Jill Stein

Yesterday, Jill Stein announced that, in fact, she is not merely exploring the possibility of running for the Green Party presidential nomination in 2016, but is an officially active candidate. One of her first acts as a fully-armed and operational Green Party candidate was to release a Power To the People Plan, which you can read below (the notes in italics are from Irregular Times).

———–

The Power to the People Plan:

A Green New Deal:
Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.

What counts as “sustainable agriculture”? Does Jill Stein categorize biofuel farms that expend as much energy as they create as sustainable? Do large-scale organic farms that plant big monocultures count as sustainable?

Conservation is already taking place. To what extent does Jill Stein want to expand it, and what kinds of conservation does she seek to focus on? Conservation of energy? Conservation of vulnerable ecological habitats? Conservation of early 18th century Mardis Gras costumes?

Jobs as a Right:
Create living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices. Advance workers rights to form unions, achieve workplace democracy, and keep a fair share of the wealth they create.

Unemployment offices are already given the task of encouraging people to find work. What specific changes, other than the removal of the letter “u” and “n”, does Jill Stein seek to make to them?

What does workplace democracy mean? Does it mean that workers have the right to elect CEOs and other executives through secret ballots?

End Poverty:
Guarantee economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities, with effective anti-poverty programs to ensure every American a life of dignity.

What counts as utilities we have a right to? Do we have the right to Internet access as a human right? What about cellular services? Is there a human right to Netflix?

Health Care as a Right:
Establish an improved “Medicare For All” single-payer public health insurance program to provide everyone with quality health care, at huge savings.

Would the Medicare For All system be mandatory for all Americans? Would doctors be allowed to opt out?

Education as a Right:
Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude. Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization.

Will student debt be abolished at high-price private universities and colleges? If the government will pay for tuition at these schools, what’s to prevent them from jacking up their costs even higher?

Will standardized tests to get into medical school be abolished? What about the bar exam? Will only inconsequential tests be allowed?

A Just Economy:
Set a $15/hour federal minimum wage. Break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and democratize the Federal Reserve. Reject gentrification as a model of economic development. Support development of worker and community cooperatives and small businesses. Make Wall Street, big corporations, and the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Create democratically run public banks and utilities. Replace corporate trade agreements with fair trade agreements.

What does it mean for the President of the United States to “reject gentrification as a model of economic development?” What specific federal policies would put this rhetorical rejection into action?

Protect Mother Earth:
Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.

What constitutes a GMO? Is canola oil a GMO? Are hybridized plants GMOs? What specific evidence does Jill Stein have that GMOs are harmful?

Freedom and Equality:
End police brutality, mass incarceration and institutional racism within our justice system. Expand women’s rights, protect LGBT people from discrimination, defend indigenous rights and lands, and create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants. Protect the free Internet, replace drug prohibition with harm reduction, and legalize marijuana/hemp.

What provisions will Jill Stein support to protect the American people from the harmful effects of second-hand marijuana smoke? Will she support equivalent regulations for marijuana and tobacco?

Justice for All:
Restore our Constitutional rights, terminate unconstitutional surveillance and unwarranted spying, end persecution of government and media whistleblowers, close Guantanamo, abolish secret kill lists, and repeal indefinite detention without charge or trial.

How will we know when the secret kill lists have been abolished?

Peace and Human Rights:
Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.

No question.

Empower the People:
Abolish corporate personhood. Protect voters’ rights by establishing a constitutional right to vote. Enact electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy: public campaign financing, ranked-choice voting, proportional representation, and open debates.

Will Jill Stein support the abolition of unregulated campaign contributions from organizations other than for-profit corporations? What limits would Jill Stein seek to impose on open debates? Does she support allowing everyone on the huge list of registered presidential candidates, including Robert Milnes, to get up on a debate stage all at once, or does she seek to close the debates to some presidential candidates?

What Brought the Green Party and the Libertarian Party Together? This Wall Street Tycoon’s Lawsuit…

Peter Ackerman has a flair for timing.

The former Michael Milken acolyte and Wall Street tycoon, who maintains a guarded set of offices one block away from the White House, has managed to make a political splash just as members of Congress head for the exit, just as cable news channels start covering shark attacks again, and just as media pundits look for a news story, any news story, to include in their next political column.

Here’s the political splash: the Wall Street tycoon and the Libertarian Party have joined up with the Green Party to file a joint lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission and, through them, the Commission on Presidential Debates. You read that right: Peter Ackerman, on behalf of Americans Elect and his new organization Level the Playing Field, filed a lawsuit today (June 22, 2015) along with the left-leaning Green Party and the me-leaning Libertarian Party. The goal: change the rules for the presidential debates in 2016.

There are a lot of interesting details in the text of that lawsuit, and I’ll have something to say about it over the next few days, but for tonight let me just share the link so you can read it for yourself. Read the full text of the lawsuit here — and please tell me what you think.

Is Everybody Really Doing Plastic Surgery? Do You Personally Know Anyone Who Is?

The cover of the issue of Time Magazine currently out on shelves would have us believe that plastic surgery is an everyday thing now, and everybody is getting it done.

The cover’s text is downright threatening: Nip. Tuck. Or Elese.

time plastic surgery

Everybody is getting plastic surgery done, says Time Magazine. I’m skeptical of this claim. I haven’t gotten any plastic surgery done on my body, and I don’t know anybody who has.

Do you?

Time’s editors have seen your future, and they’re not afraid to tell you what it is: “Why you’ll be getting cosmetic procedures even if you may not really want to… You’re going to have to do it. And not all that long from now.”

The strange thing is, this week’s article on plastic surgery doesn’t stand alone. The magazine published two other articles on plastic surgery within the last two months. Why? Is Time being paid by a professional association of plastic surgeons to write these articles?

Perhaps plastic surgery is prevalent in the social circles frequented by the management of Time Magazine. I couldn’t say – I don’t run in those circles.

Drought Restrictions, California Luxury Hotel Style

Just one week ago, California instituted additional water restrictions, to try to control the state’s descent through ecological crisis without triggering a fundamental social disaster.

Arriving in Los Angeles this morning, I witnessed what a long way Californians have to go. In front of the W hotel in the Westwood neighborhood, right close to the UCLA campus, I came upon an employee using a water hose, not to water the plants outside, but to clean off the entrance ramp to the hotel’s parking garage.

water waste in Westwood w hotel

Not all Angelinos are being so damp-headed, though. Just around the corner from the wasteful W is a beautiful hedge of rosemary, a Mediterranean herb that is much more suited to dry conditions than a patch of grass would be.

The Los Angeles County Waterworks is offering a cash-for-grass rebate of between one and two dollars per square foot of grass that is replaced by water-efficient landscaping. Companies like Dry Jungle are helping residents install plants that are actually suited to the local climate.

Guess: When Was the Last Time that the Globe Had a Month Cooler than the 1951-1980 Average? What Are the Chances of That?

There Is No Global Warming, screams a NewsMax headline yesterday.

No Global Warming? Let’s play make-a-guess using NASA’s GISS temperature data dating from January 1880 to May 2015 to test that assertion.

To play the game, make a guess: how many months has it been since the globe had a monthly temperature reading cooler than the 1951-1980 average global temperature? Really, go ahead. Make a guess.

Now read on.

If there has been no global warming, as the NewsMax headline baldly asserts, then whether the globe is warmer or cooler than the 1951-1980 average since 1980 should be essentially a flip of the coin, with some months warmer, some months cooler, but no overall tendency for temperatures warmer than the 1980 average since 1980. If there has been no global warming, then the chance that any particular month is warmer than the 1951-1980 average should be 50% and the chance that any particular month is cooler than the 1951-1980 average should be 50% too.

Now here’s the answer, according to NASA’s GISS temperature data across the globe over land and sea. The last time that a month was cooler than the 1951-1980 average for that month was February 1994. That was 256 months ago. In every one of the 255 months since then, the global temperature has been warmer than the 1951-1980 average.

If global warming really did not exist, and whether a month was warmer or cooler than the 1951-1980 average was just a flip of the coin, then you’d randomly get that chain of 255 warmer than average months only 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000173% of the time (1/2 to the 255th power).

That’s how outrageous it is to say there has been no global warming.

Big GOP-Led Cities Are Less Fit And More Slack On Average Than Other Big Cities

This week, we here at Irregular Times have been witness to a cynical, all-too-common right wing rhetorical trick: The argument that because you can’t find any big cities with problems that are run by Republicans, Democratic leadership must be causing big city problems.

This morning, I’ll use the 2015 American Fitness Index to show why this argument is fundamentally flawed. The Index compares the physical fitness of residents of America’s 50 biggest cities, ranking them in order, where 1 is the physically fittest city, and 50 is the least physically fittest city.

We’ve heard a lot this week from right wing readers of Irregular Times that people who don’t like Republican policies are just too lazy to take care of themselves, whereas Republicans are too hard-working to get slack. However, the American Fitness Index of 2015 shows that the most physically fit city in the nation is Washington D.C., which is run by a Democratic mayor, while the most out-of-shape city in the nation is Indianapolis, which is run by a Republican mayor.

Of course, these two cities are just the most extreme. Still, on average, the distinction holds. The average physical fitness rank of big American cities run by Republican mayors is 29.2. The average physical fitness rank of big American cities run by non-Republicans is higher, at 25.3.

Yet, it can also be claimed by Republicans who want to make their party seem like a bastion of discipline and hard work that most of the big cities in the USA that are more out-of-shape than average are run by Democratic mayors. How can this be so?

Only a small number of the 50 biggest US cities are run by Republicans. Just six. Most big cities have Democratic mayors, because Democratic voters are more likely to live in big cities than Republicans are.

So, we could say that most big cities with cockroaches have Democratic mayors. On the other hand, we could say that most big cities with well-endowed libraries and museums have Democratic mayors. However, we can say these things not because Democratic mayors cause cockroaches and library books and museum exhibits to show up in big cities. It’s simply that any big city of any quality at all is more likely than not to be represented by a Democrat.

So, the American Fitness Index shows us two things: One, that there are big cities run by Republican mayors that have negative attributes, and two, that any time you hear a Republican running around talking about how Democratic mayors of big cities are to blame for America’s problems, you know they’re trying to pull a fast one on you.

2015 Is So Far Is The Hottest Year On Record

A few weeks ago, researchers released the results of a scientifc analysis concluding that the supposed recent hiatus in global warming, which Republicans have referred to as an excuse to avoid enacting environmentally responsible legislation, was in fact never real, but the result of a mistake in statistical analysis.

Last year, 2014, was the hottest year in historical times for our planet, and this year is shaping up to be even hotter. That’s not just my personal assessment. The full report will be out tomorrow, but the headline is already posted at Climate.gov: Globally, 2015 has experienced the hottest first five months of any year on record, since global temperatures began to be measured in 1895.