Marco Rubio doesn’t like unity

So, President Obama went to a mosque yesterday:

“If we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m talking to my fellow Christians who are the majority in this country — we have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths,” he said.

Although Obama never mentioned Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the targets of his remarks were clear. “We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate bigotry,” Obama said.

Now he does hit the Republicans who have been pushing against Muslims, so let’s see what Marco Rubio says:

Rubio accused Obama of pitting Americans against one another “along ethnic lines and racial lines and economic lines and religious lines.” His comments were part of a meandering response to a question about what his management style would be like as president.

“I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done,” Rubio said. “Always pitting people against each other. Always.”

“Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque,” Rubio continued. “Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves.”

The main part of Obama’s speech was about how Muslims are part of America and have been since its founding. It was mostly a typical unity speech, which Rubio finds divisive. Here is some of that divisive rhetoric:



We’ve got to make sure that hate crimes are punished, and that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld.  And just as faith leaders, including Muslims, must speak out when Christians are persecuted around the world or when anti-Semitism is on the rise — because the fact is, is that there are Christians who are targeted now in the Middle East, despite having been there for centuries, and there are Jews who’ve lived in places like France for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault –sometimes by Muslims.  We have to be consistent in condemning hateful rhetoric and violence against everyone. And that includes against Muslims here in the United States of America.


If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States:  You fit in here — right here.  You’re right where you belong.  You’re part of America, too.  You’re not Muslim or American.  You’re Muslim and American.

Oh, and Marco:

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans and mosques across the United States have tripled in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., with dozens occurring within just a month, according to new data.
The spike includes assaults on hijab-wearing students; arsons and vandalism at mosques; and shootings and death threats at Islamic-owned businesses, an analysis by a California State University research group has found.

Democracy in Myanmar

Myanmar’s first democratically elected Parliament in quite a while opened this week:

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi entered the parliamentary chambers in Naypyidaw, the capital, through a side door. The chamber was swathed in orange — the color of her National League for Democracy Party, which overwhelmingly won a landmark election on Nov. 8. The military, as part of a complex political transition that has unfolded since 2010, retains 25 percent of the seats in both houses; its members wore green uniforms.

At least 110 of the party’s 390 members in the new Parliament are, like Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, former political prisoners. They were formally installed on Monday following an unusually jubilant celebration on Friday, with karaoke singing and dancing, to mark the end of the military-led Parliament.

This is a very big step forward. Still there are many problems that loom, including one that Nicholas Kristof talks about here:

A recent Yale study suggested that the abuse of the more than one million Rohingya may amount to genocide; at the least, a confidential United Nations report to the Security Council says it may constitute “crimes against humanity under international criminal law.”

Yet Aung San Suu Kyi seems to plan to continue this Myanmar version of apartheid. She is now a politician, and oppressing a minority like the Rohingya is popular with mostly Buddhist voters.

The Myanmar government is not only oppressing individuals; it is also trying to eradicate the Rohingya people as an ethnic group, by claiming that it does not exist. The authorities don’t use the word Rohingya and claim that these are just illegal immigrants from Bangladesh (this is preposterous; historical documents refer to the Rohingya). In November, the government arrested five men simply for printing a 2016 calendar making references to the Rohingya as an ethnic group.

Aung San Suu Kyi avoids even saying “Rohingya.” The United States Embassy in Myanmar likewise seems to sidestep the word in its official statements, a cringeworthy capitulation.

What this means is that there needs to be continued pressure. Aung San Suu Kyi is a politician and won’t do things that hurt her politically, even for things like ending crimes against humanity.

Cruz craziness

Ted Cruz’s crazy preacher father is campaigning for him in Iowa, so let’s hear what he has to say:

The next day, at the Marion church, Cruz, dressed in a blue suit, railed against the abolition of prayer and Bible reading in schools as the cause of skyrocketing teen pregnancy, dropout rates, and vandalism. Now, he said, “homosexual marriage” is the latest “frontal attack on religious liberty.”

“The devil overplayed his hand because this decision has acted as a catalyst to awaken the sleeping giant,” Cruz said, his voice booming through the church. He never mentioned his son’s name.

Hmm, let’s see: teen pregnancy is at record lows:

The preliminary birth rate for teenagers in 2014 was 24.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19–down nine percent from 2013 and a whopping 61 percent from the most recent peak in 1991.

high school graduation rates are at record highs:

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. Achievement gaps have narrowed, too, with graduation rates ranging from 89 percent for students classified as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 62.6 percent for English-language learners.

Violence is decreasing, but I’m too lazy to see about vandalism so I’ll leave that alone.

So Rafael Cruz is completely wrong, but the reporter here doesn’t think it’s noteworthy to say that what he said was completely wrong. I see why people might not realize that he’s completely wrong.

Planned Parenthood

Republicans say we need to bring Planned Parenthood to court to prosecute them for what they’ve done. Oh wait, it’s already happening? Well, now we’ll see all the terrible things they’ve done:

Officials in 11 states have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing after investigating claims that they profited from fetal tissue donation, officials said, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.

Officials in eight other states declined to investigate citing a lack of any evidence, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Oh. Well, now there’s a grand jury investigation in Texas and they’ll surely find something:

A grand jury investigating allegations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood after the release of covertly shot videos about the use of fetal tissue from abortions has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who made the videos, authorities said Monday.

David Daleiden, 26, director of the Irvine-based non-profit Center for Medical Progress, was indicted by the grand jury on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement.

An employee at the center, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.

Oops. I wonder if this will change the minds of the Republicans:

“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement late Monday.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agreed.

Silly me, of course not.


It’s snowing somewhere

It turns out that 2015 was the warmest year on record (which goes back to 1880) according to NASA and NOAA. And not only do we get:

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.

we also note that 2015 easily broke the record set in 2014:

During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century. This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.

After 2014 set the record climate deniers all quickly noted that it was barely above the previous record. I wonder what excuse they’ll use this year to say why this doesn’t show there’s global warming (obviously they’ll use the fact it was a El Nino year, but what else?)?

Note: It’s sad that I know most of the conservatives will continue to deny the existence (or at least the importance) of global warming despite this new data which pretty clearly shows it.

Big Bad Bruins

Well this is just great:

The Ahwahnee Hotel and other Yosemite National Park landmarks soon will be renamed amid a legal dispute between the government and the facilities’ outgoing operator.

On March 1, the famed Ahwahnee — a name affixed to countless trail guides and family memories — will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. And Curry Village, a collection of cabins near the center of the park that has carried the same name since the 1800s, will become Half Dome Village, park spokesman Scott Gediman said Thursday.

Now Delaware North wants to be paid more than $50 million for the rights. Cesaro said the company was willing to lend the names for free until its court claim is resolved.

Yosemite National Park — another name that also is claimed by Delaware North and remains in dispute — will stay put, Gediman said.

That would be the Delaware North that owns the Boston Bruins. How can I continue to like a team that’s owned by an idiot that claims the rights to the name Yosemite National Park. Of course this seems to be a bit appropriate:

The name “Yosemite” (meaning “killer” in Miwok) originally referred to the name of a renegade tribe which was driven out of the area (and possibly annihilated) by the Mariposa Battalion. Before then the area was called “Ahwahnee” (“big mouth”) by indigenous people.

Ah yes, name the place after the people who lived there before you kicked them out of the area.

Regulations can work, credit card edition

Via here, it seems that the CARD Act has done a pretty good job:

We analyze the effectiveness of consumer financial regulation by considering the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. We use a panel data set covering 160 million credit card accounts and a difference-in-differences research design that compares changes in outcomes over time for consumer credit cards, which were subject to the regulations, to changes for small business credit cards, which the law did not cover. We estimate that regulatory limits on credit card fees reduced overall borrowing costs by an annualized 1.6% of average daily balances, with a decline of more than 5.3% for consumers with FICO scores below 660. We find no evidence of an offsetting increase in interest charges or a reduction in the volume of credit. Taken together, we estimate that the CARD Act saved consumers $11.9 billion per year.

You can see an interview with one of the authors here which is an add-on to this article.

Don’t tell any of the conservatives who think government regulation is such a bad thing (although I should not that this was a strongly bipartisan bill–it passed 357-70 in the House and 90-5 in the Senate).

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