Month: March 2016

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fights for equal pay in sports

While the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) is struggling badly in its efforts to qualify for the 2018 FIFA (Men’s) World Cup in Russia, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is winning on the field and fighting for justice in front of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

On Thursday, five of the biggest stars on the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) with wage discrimination.

The players, who were all key members of the Women’s World Cup championship team last year, say that while the popularity and success of the USWNT generates revenue for the federation, they are still paid less than their male counterparts.

According to USWNT member Becky Sauerbrunn, the pay discrimination complaint is supported by the entire USWNT roster:

The USWNT members are being very honest when they say that they’re being discriminated against by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), which is responsible for front-office management of both the women’s and men’s national soccer teams here in the United States. In fact, USWNT members get paid far less than their male counterparts, despite the fact that the USWNT is expected to become responsible for generating more of the USSF’s revenue than the USMNT, as well as the fact that the USWNT is the reigning Women’s World Cup champions while the USMNT may not be able to qualify for their World Cup. In fact, USWNT members have been paid as little as 40% of their male counterparts, despite being considerably more successful than their male counterparts.

Once again, the USWNT is proving that they are badass American heroes on and off the field. I support the fight for equal pay for equal play.

 

JoAnne Kloppenburg runs brilliant, factual attack ad against Rebecca Bradley

In Wisconsin, the major-party presidential primaries are overshadowed by an officially non-partisan general election for one of seven seats on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in which there are two candidates vying for a seat on Wisconsin’s highest bench. One of the candidates in the state supreme court race is Rebecca Bradley, a far-right incumbent state supreme court justice appointed to the court by Republican Governor Scott Walker. Bradley’s opponent is JoAnne Kloppenburg, a dedicated public servant and jurist who is currently a state appellate court justice and previously served as a Wisconsin assistant attorney general under both Democratic and Republican state attorneys general.

Many, many years before Bradley became a state supreme court justice, Bradley wrote a series of hateful columns for the student newspaper and student magazine of Marquette University. Bradley also has a very long history of saying incredibly offensive things, even long after she graduated from college.

Kloppenburg is running a brilliant, factual attack ad against Bradley, using Bradley’s own words against her:

Long story short, I believe that the people of Wisconsin cannot afford ten more years of an ideologically-motivated politician like Rebecca Bradley issuing decisions from Wisconsin’s highest bench. That’s why I encourage Wisconsinites to vote for the only independent-minded jurist running for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court: JoAnne Kloppenburg. Kloppenburg believes that justices should interpret the laws, not use the judiciary to enact a political agenda by judicial fiat.

The general election for Wisconsin Supreme Court is April 5, and will be held alongside the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in Wisconsin. Go, Jo, Go!

Why 4K/UltraHD/2160p television will never become the common standard of American television

You may have heard about 4K, Ultra HD, or 2160p television (they’re all the same thing, and I’ll refer to it as 4K in the rest of the blog post for simplicity). Next month, television viewers with a 4K television set, DirecTV satellite television service, and the right DirecTV programming package and equipment will be able to watch a special feed of The Masters golf tournament that will provide coverage of holes 11, 12, and 13 of the Augusta National Golf Club’s main golf course in 4K. The Masters is an interesting choice for the first live 4K television broadcast in U.S. history that I’m aware of, since The Masters has historically been behind the times when it has come to golf broadcasting technology and practices.

There are several reasons why I believe that 4K will not become the standard format of American television broadcasting, or, for that matter, video broadcasting and streaming in general:

  • Most 4K televisions are very large – I live in a house that is approximately 1,000 square feet in size, and it would be difficult to fit a 4K television in any of the three rooms we currently have 720p/1080i-capable HDTVs. Very few 4K-capable television sets are smaller than 40 inches, and many of them are much larger than that.
  • Making 4K-compatible computer monitors (especially the case for laptops), tablets, and smartphones is very difficult, if not impossible – These devices have screens that are much smaller than the screen of a typical 4K television set. Try fitting 8,294,400 pixels on a smartphone screen, and you’ll get a general idea of what I’m talking about.
  • Our television infrastructure was built for 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, not 4K – Transmitting a 4K television signal takes up a lot more of the available bit rate than 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. If it’s even possible to transmit 4K over-the-air, transmitting an over-the-air 4K signal would take up most, if not all, of a 6 MHz over-the-air digital television transmission channel’s bit rate, leaving no room for over-the-air subchannels in any format. Cable and satellite television providers use most or all of their available bitrate to provide hundreds of 720p, 1080i, and 1080p channels and other viewing options, so it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide more than a few 4K options to their viewers.
  • It would require faster internet connections to stream 4K video over an internet connection – I have an internet connection that provides roughly 18 megabytes per second of combined upload/download speed, and I have little trouble streaming 720p, 1080i, or 1080p video. However, streaming 4K video would require a considerably faster internet connection.

While 4K will probably become commonly used in some practices, such as movie theaters and video games, to expect 4K to become the television industry standard for broadcasting television is laughably absurd.

VICTORY! Georgia Governor Nathan Deal VETOES religious discrimination!

I rarely agree with Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA), but I strongly agree with his decision to veto Georgia House Bill 757 (HB757), the bill that, if the Georgia General Assembly were to override Deal’s veto, would allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against people, including LGBT people, on religious grounds.

While supporters of legislation like Georgia’s HB757 claim that the legislation that they support “religious liberty” legislation, the legislation that they actually support is religious discrimination legislation. That’s because the legislation would allow people and businesses to discriminate against people because of who they are. That is not the character of the people of Georgia, and it’s not the character of the people of this great country.

How to fix America’s antiquated electoral process

Granted, it would require amendment(s) to the U.S. Constitution and massive changes in federal and state laws, but America needs a massive overhaul of its election system.

Below are some of my own ideas for fixing America’s antiquated electoral system:

  • Drastically increase the size of the U.S. House – There should be one U.S. Representative for every 100,000 residents of the fifty states, rounded up, plus one U.S. Representative with full voting rights each for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. This would result in a U.S. House size of 3,086, but it would be more representative of the country than a 435-member House.
  • Give the District of Columbia and each U.S. territory one Senator with full voting rights each – This would result in a U.S. Senate size of 106.
  • Implement a national popular vote system for electing the President, the Vice President, and major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees – The Electoral College is an antiquated relic of the 19th century, when it wasn’t easy to report election results for a nationwide race. Ideally, an instant-runoff voting system should be used, in which voters can cast first, second, and third preferences, and second and third preferences can decide an election if no candidate gets a majority of first preferences. For party nominations for president and vice-president, a nationwide semi-partisan primary should be conducted, in which those registered with a political party would be able to choose between candidates running for their party’s nomination and unaffiliated candidates, but those not registered with a party can vote for candidates of any party affiliation, as well as unaffiliated candidates. Political parties that get 1% of the total primary vote send their top vote-getter (instant-runoff would be conducted within each party) to the general election, and any independent candidate who receives 1% of the total primary vote makes the general election ballot. Furthermore, presidential and vice-presidential candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election. In the event that a presidential candidate or a vice-presidential candidate seeking a party nomination lacked a running mate, but won his or her primary, he or she would be paired with the candidate for the other office whose ticket got more votes within the party than any other ticket with a candidate for said other office
  • Standardize the electoral calendar nationwide – Here’s how I’d set up the election calendar for regularly-scheduled elections in a two-year electoral cycle:
    • Tuesday after first Monday in May of odd-numbered year – Political party leadership elections (closed to party members) and some judicial elections (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered year – County, municipal, and other local elections for the entire country (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in May of even-numbered year – Some judicial elections (open to all votes, officially non-partisan)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday in September of even-numbered year – Partisan primaries for, depending on the year, President, Vice President, U.S. Congress, state executive positions, and/or state legislature (semi-partisan primary system in place)
    • Tuesday after the first Monday of November of even-numbered year – General elections for offices in which nominees were selected in the September primaries
  • Use hand-counted paper ballots for all elections, everywhere – Even when an online system is used for some absentee ballots (see below), a printout of the online absentee ballot would be hand-counted at the precinct after the polls close.
  • Speed up the absentee and military voting process with an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not part of the World Wide Web – If it’s not possible for an absentee or military absentee ballot to be physically sent to the voter’s home polling place on Election Day, set up an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not connected to the World Wide Web or any other existing infrastructure in order to allow the ballots to be scanned, uploaded to the electronic system, and printed out at the polling place so that it can be hand-counted on Election Night.
  • There should never be more than 1,000 people per polling place – It is absolutely unacceptable to cram several thousand voters into a single voting place, forcing them to wait in line for several hours.
  • Make federal judicial posts directly-elected – For federal district court judgeships, each federal district court would have at least four judgeships, with at least one seat being up for election every year. For federal circuit court appellate judgeships, a similar model to the district courts would be followed. For the U.S. Supreme Court, three associate judgeships would be up for election in years ending in “2”, two associate judgeships in years ending in “5”, three associate judgeships in years ending in “8”, and the Chief Justice’s seat in years ending in “0”.

These are just a few of my own suggestions for making America’s electoral process more efficient.

Rebecca Bradley uses the Hillary Clinton playbook, tries to paint critics as sexist

Remember the “BernieBro” meme that supporters of the Hillary Clinton campaign have used to criticize progressives who support the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign?

Well, it’s back, thanks to an ultra-right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who is seeking a full ten-year term on Wisconsin’s highest bench:

I don’t know why the media isn’t picking up on the one glaring problem Rebecca Bradley has…her temperament. Her mean girl antics have reached the surreal stage.

One critic has been using Bradley’s own words and deep political resentments against her, destroying her credibility as a judge or justice.

So what does she do? She accused him of using the “c-word” on Twitter. The (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel investigated and didn’t find any evidence to back up Bradley’s juvenile claim.

While female politicians have been the victims of sexism ever since women started running for office in America, for someone to dig up hate speech that one wrote in the student newspaper of an university and use it against the author of the hate speech is not sexism. If Scott Walker appointed a male justice to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and he wrote a ton of hateful columns for a student newspaper (or, for that matter, any other type of publication), being familiar with Scot Ross’s work, he’d be more than willing to use that against him. Ross’s criticism and investigative work on right-wing politicians knows no gender boundaries, and he’s holding right-wing politicians, regardless of gender, race, etc., to the same standard.

I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote in the Democratic presidential primary for Bernie Sanders, and vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court, on April 5.

 

What do Rebecca Bradley, Robert Bentley, and Ted Cruz have in common?

All three of those far-right Republicans either have been involved in, or are alleged to have been involved in, explosive sex scandals.

First, I’ll start with Rebecca Bradley. She’s a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, having been appointed to Wisconsin’s highest bench thanks to Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). She’s also extremely right-wing, believing that birth control is a form of murder (it’s not) and spewing bigotry towards LGBT people. She was also an attorney in private practice before being appointed to her first judgeship, and she represented a former co-worker who…you guessed it…she had an extramarital affair with.

Now, on to Robert Bentley. He’s the Republican Governor of Alabama, and he was recently caught on audio tape making sexual remarks about an aide that he’s accused of having sexual relations with. It’s not 100% clear as to whether or not Bentley actually had sexual relations with that aide, but it’s clear to me that he talked about his aide in a very sexual manner.

Last, but certainly not least, is Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. After a pro-Cruz PAC posted a nude picture of Melania Trump, the wife of Donald Trump, online, Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz, Ted’s wife. Well, as it turns out, the National Enquirer may have spilled the beans on Ted Cruz himself. The National Enquirer is running a story about Cruz allegedly having sexual relations with five women. The story cites “private detectives” as the source for the story.

Now, I have every reason to be extremely skeptical about the “Cruz sex scandal” story. First off, it’s the National Enquirer running this story, and they’re not exactly a credible source. After all, they’ve been known to run stories that people or entities have sold them, such as the story about the knife in the mid-1990’s O.J. trial. Secondly, the fact that the National Enquirer is citing “private detectives” as their source for the Cruz story makes the story suspect. I’d love to know who the “private detectives” are. In fact, I have every reason to suspect that the “private detectives” are affiliated with the Trump campaign. I can’t confirm or disprove that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump’s goons were behind the Cruz sex scandal allegations.

Did Scott Walker open the door to a GOP convention challenge?

Scott Walker, the Republican Wisconsin Governor whose own presidential campaign came to an end before even a single vote was cast thanks to huge campaign debt and many other factors, claimed that, if no Republican candidate were to win 1,237 Republican National Convention (RNC) delegates, someone who is not currently a presidential candidate would likely win the GOP nomination:

If the race for the GOP presidential nomination ends with a contested convention in July, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) believes the nominee will be someone who isn’t already in the race.

“I think if it’s an open convention, it’s very likely it would be someone who’s not currently running,” Walker told The Capital Times of Wisconsin Thursday.

If Scott Walker thinks that he can be elected president despite receiving exactly one vote in the entire race for the Republican presidential nomination (as a write-in in the New Hampshire primary, finishing behind, among others, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Vermin Supreme, Joe Biden, Ron Paul, Mike Bloomberg, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Darryl Perry, and Tom Brady), I’d love to know what he’s smoking. Walker wrecked Wisconsin’s economy by busting unions, appointed virulent bigot and adulteress Rebecca Bradley to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and suggested building a U.S.-Canada border fence. Now, he’s hinting at seeking a Republican convention challenge for their presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders would handily defeat Walker if it’s a Bernie vs. Walker matchup.

SHOCK POLL: Romney’s best state in 2012 in play for Democrats this time arond

Utah, a state that hasn’t received a ton of media attention since the 2002 Winter Olympics and, in the 2012 Presidential Election, was the strongest state for the failed Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket, could be on its way to giving its 6 general election electoral votes to the Democratic presidential nominee should Donald Trump win the Republican presidential nomination:

The poll was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah. The poll shows Bernie Sanders running nine points better than Hillary Clinton, assuming that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.

This comes on the heels of a recent Marquette University poll in Wisconsin that showed Donald Trump having an extremely high disapproval rating in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburbs, which are typically thought of as one of the most racist areas in America and a region of the country that typically gives at least two-thirds of its votes to Republican candidate.

To give you a general idea of how difficult it would be for Trump to win a presidential general election if he were to lose Utah and Wisconsin, here is literally the only realistic path I can think of in which Trump could lose Utah and Wisconsin, and still win the general election. Please note that I’m assuming that, if Utah flips to the Democrats, than Arizona would almost certainly do so as well.

I could understand why Republicans in Utah would not like Trump, as the style of conservatism that is rampant in Utah (heavily influenced by the Mormon faith) is a lot different than Trump’s style of conservatism. Remember that Trump’s style of conservatism emphasizes pitting white people against ethnic minorities, but Utah Republicans have long emphasized social conservatism. Regarding the Milwaukee suburbs, that’s a total mystery as to why Trump is not popular among Republicans there, as that region of the country became heavily populated due to white flight from Milwaukee itself.