Monday Reads: As the SCOTUS churns

165584_600Well, it’s Monday and it feels like a Monday to me.

There are more Supreme Court decisions out today on all kinds of things.I’m going to give you a brief description of the major ones.  It’s hard to top the Marriage Equality ruling and the saving of tax credits for “Obamacare”.  However, a few of them are just as important in their own right.

One of the most stand-out decisions today had to do with voting and voter id.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider letting states require evidence of citizenship when people register to vote for federal elections, rejecting an appeal from Arizona and Kansas.

The rebuff is a victory for the Obama administration and voting- and minority-rights groups that battled the two states in court. It leaves intact a decision by a U.S. agency that blocked the states from requiring proof of citizenship for voters in federal elections.

It’s the second high court defeat on the issue for Arizona. The state has a law that requires evidence of citizenship, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it couldn’t be enforced when people use a standard registration document known as the “federal form” to register to vote for Congress and the president.

That 7-2 ruling left open the possibility that Arizona could impose its requirements through a different avenue. The court said the state could submit a request to the agency that developed the form, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, asking it to tell Arizona voters they needed to supply proof of citizenship.

SCOTUS also struck down three provision of the various Three Strikes laws that were designed to penalize “career” criminals. Scalia wrote the majority opinion in this case.

While the country was busy celebrating the Supreme Court’s long-awaited marriage equality ruling, the justices issued another ruling in the Johnson v. United States case that dealt a crucial blow to the prison industrial complex. The SCOTUS ruled that a key provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which lengthens the sentences of “career criminals,” is unconstitutionally vague. The ruling paves the way for thousands of prisoners to have their sentences reduced and will cause the private prison industry to lose millions of dollars in profits.

In 1984, Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), the law required judges to sentence people to 15 years to life if they have three prior convictions for “serious drug offense” or “violent felonies.” However, what exactly qualified as a “violent felony” was frustratingly vague and was used as a sentence enhancer in many non-violent cases. A “residual clause” in the ACCA allowed third time felons to be sent to prison for any crime that ” presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” That potential risk could include drunk driving, fleeing police, failing to report to a parole officer and even attempted burglary. It seemed to be used as a catch-all sentence enhancer for the sole purpose of throwing people in prison for years longer than they deserved to be. This practice has become increasingly more common as more states allow for-profit prisons in their states.

In the Johnson case, the government used the ACCA to enhance Samuel Johnson’s prison sentence because of a prior conviction of possession of a sawed off shotgun. Johnson argued that he shouldn’t be subjected to a harsher sentence, because the definition of what was considered “violent” was unconstitutionally vague. The SCOTUS agreed with Johnson and issued a 7-1 ruling in his favor.

5888077939_4a120fd991_bAnother finding allows independent panels to redistrict congressional and other political districts.  This could be a key step to stopping the practice of gerrymandering. Arizona’s decision to let independent panels redistrict was declared constitutional.

By ruling that Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission is constitutional, the Supreme Court of the United States kicked plutocrat-loving Republicans in the gut.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotomayer.

The crux of the majority’s reasoning can be found in last paragraph of the ruling.

Our Declaration of Independence,  drew from Locke in stating: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And our fundamental instrument of government derives its authority from “We the People.” U. S. Const., Preamble. As this Court stated, quoting Hamilton: “[T]he true principle of a republic is, that the people should choose whom they please to govern them.” Powell v. McCormack, 395 U. S. 486, 540-541 (1969) (quoting 2 Debates on the Federal Constitution 257 (J. Elliot ed. 1876)). In this light, it would be perverse to interpret the term “Legislature” in the Elections Clause so as to exclude lawmaking by the people, particularly where such lawmaking is intended to check legislators’ ability to choose the district lines they run in, thereby advancing the prospect that Members of Congress will in fact be “chosen . . . by the People of the several States,”

Even though this case got much less attention from the media compared to the health care and marriage equality cases it is in some ways as important as the aforementioned cases.  The reason is it will shape the meaning of vote equality in the years to come. Had the court ruled the other way, frankly, it would have removed the last real hope of stopping the Koch controlled Republicans from rigging elections in their favor.

In one disappointing decision, SCOTUS removed EPA limits on Air Pollution.5631103843_5db90091cb_b

The US supreme court struck down new rules for America’s biggest air polluters on Monday, dealing a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to set limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxins coal-fired power plants can spew into the air, lakes and rivers.

The 5-4 decision was a major setback to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and could leave the agency more vulnerable to legal challenges from industry and Republican-led states to its other new carbon pollution rules.

The justices embraced the arguments from the industry and 21 Republican-led states that the EPA rules were prohibitively expensive and amounted to government overreach.

But the EPA pointed out that most plants had already either complied or made plans to comply with the ruling.

“EPA is disappointed that the court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” the agency said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The EPA “remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place to protect the public from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities,” the agency added.

Monday’s decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled that the EPA did not reasonably consider the cost factor when drafting the toxic air-pollution regulations.

The Clean Air Act had directed the EPA to create rules to regulate power plants for mercury and other toxic pollutants that were “appropriate and necessary”.

images (6)There’s some discussion in legal blogs about a possible softening of the Court in terms of it’s tendency to follow Scalia and Thomas to hard right conclusions.  Are Kennedy and Roberts becoming more moderate or showing a bit more judicial restraint and temperament?  Here’s some analysis by Tom Goldstein writing for SCOTUSBlog.

There is a lot of commentary about the unusually liberal results of this Term.  I thought I would mention a few data points which back up that view of things.

For present purposes, I treat four Justices as sitting to the Court’s left: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.  I treat four Justices as sitting to the Court’s right:  Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.  I treat Justice Anthony Kennedy as the Court’s “center.”

I count 26 cases this Term that were both close (5-4 or 6-3) and ideological (in the sense that they broke down principally on ideological lines, with ideology seemingly an important factor). 

Of the 26 cases, the left prevailed in 19.  Those included the first 9 of the Term.  The right prevailed in 7.

In the 26, a Justice on the left voted with the right a total of 3 times.  In 2 cases, those votes determined the outcome and produced a more conservative result, because Justice Kennedy or one of the conservatives voted for the more liberal result.

In the 26, a Justice on the right voted with the left 14 times.  In 6 cases, those votes determined the outcome and produced a more liberal result, because Justice Kennedy voted for the more conservative result.

I also considered the 10 cases I consider most significant.  Of those, the left prevailed in 8.  Those included the first 7 of the Term.  (I mention the early cases to give a sense of how the results must have appeared inside the Court as the Term went along.)  The right prevailed in 2, both in the final sitting of the Term.

In the 10, no Justice on the left voted with the right; the four Justices on the left voted together in every one of those cases.  A Justice on the right voted with the left 4 times.  Those votes determined the outcome in 2 cases, because Justice Kennedy voted for the more conservative result.

Note that the analysis above is skewed against finding the Term particularly liberal by treating Justice Kennedy as the Court’s “center.”  That is true ideologically, but he is certainly a conservative.  If he were characterized that way for my analysis, the number of defections to the left would be much higher.

By that measure, a Justice on the right voted with the left 25 times (compared with 3 times the reverse happened).  That occurred in all 10 of the 10 major cases (because no Justice on the left voted with the right in any of those cases), and determined the outcome in all of them.

Real Clear Politics also had a take on this. It’s obviously an interesting question to ask given the current hissy fits happening with in movement conservatives who are calling for the essential overthrow of the 5928104071_8f42d73da8_bcurrent court since a few decisions did not go their way.

Conservatives were disheartened by the Court’s rulings Thursday in King v. Burwell and Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Project. They probably will be disheartened if the Court rules that gay marriage is a constitutional right, which seems likely. I suspect I got the authorship of the Arizona redistricting commission case wrong in my Supreme Court Bingoarticle: the opinion assignments make more sense if Justice Kennedy lost his majority in Din, which would suggest Justice Ginsburg is writing the redistricting commission opinion. That means conservatives may well be disappointed in the outcome of that opinion as well.

Unsurprisingly, conservatives are up in arms about the supposed “selling out” from Chief Justice John Roberts. Their reaction is something along the lines of Obi-Wan’s final words (from Obi-Wan’s point of view) to Anakin Skywalker: “You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them!”

plenty of today’s “liberal” decisions would have been considered downright reactionary in the 1960s (or 1970s). Consider the NFIB case, which upheld Obamacare in 2012, while finding that the individual mandate could not be supported by the commerce power. Until 1995, many scholars believed that the Commerce Clause had all but given Congress a general police power; the Lopez decision, which placed the first limits on congressional power in 60 years, was on the outer fringes of even conservative legal theory. NFIB actually reinforces, and to a certain extent expands that decision.

This says nothing of the Court’s holding that there are real limits to the spending clause, which garnered the votes of seven justices. I’m not sure there would have been more than one or two votes for this in the 1960s. By the standards of the 1970s, NFIB was a radically conservative decision, even when the substantive outcome is taken into account. By the standards of, say, the 1920s on the other hand, this was a radically liberal opinion, insofar as it accepts the basic New Deal framework (that there is at least one justice who is prepared to jettison that framework entirely shows just how far to the right the Court has gone).

Or consider the opinion validating Obamacare’s subsidies. While the plaintiffs’ theory of the case was perfectly plausible under current statutory interpretation principles (enough so that several Democratic-appointed lower court judges were cautious when ruling against plaintiffs), it also represented something of a reductio ad absurdum of textualism. If we were to have a debate over textualism in, say, the 1970s, one can imagine a purposivist asking, “So what if there is an obvious drafting error in a section that threatens an entire massive statute? What then?” The fact that conservatives expect the Court to go “full textualist” even in that circumstance – and that even liberal scholars like Abbe Gluck accept the basic textualist framework – again shows how far the debate has moved in the past 30 years.

What about the redistricting commission case? Assuming conservatives lose this one, it’s worth remembering that this position on the elections clause only had the support of three members of the Court in 2000 (when a similar argument was raised in Bush v. Gore); Justices Kennedy and O’Connor avoided the issue and may well have been against it. So even a 6-3 ruling against conservatives here would probably reveal no net shift in the positioning of the Court over the past 15 years. It is just that the expectations for conservatives have shifted.

The article is interesting because it compares some of the different courts over the last 50 years and you can see exactly how illiberal this court still is.5894062539_dff4c78611_b

One more case is worth discussing.  This one will be in the works.  “The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider whether the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions plan is constitutional.”

Two years ago, the court voted 7 to 1 to send the plan back for further judicial view and told the lower court to apply the kind of rigorous evaluation that must accompany any government action that considers race.

“Strict scrutiny imposes on the university the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote.

This will be another interesting case to watch.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: Pigs and Ladies

Pictures today by artist illustrator: Mela Koehler (1885–1960)

 Good Afternoon

I hope that everyone is enjoying the last couple of days, the decision is not the final say in the matter of GLBT issues, but it is a damn big deal….There are a few states holding out, and refusing to grant licenses and perform marriages to same sex couples.

The hate filled rhetoric is strong in some areas, like here in Banjoville. Add to this tension, the anger over taking away these right-wing christian racist asshole flags of confederate heritage, with a dose of Obamacare is a-go from last week, and you got yourself a power keg waiting to explode. It is frightening, the hate I am seeing. These people mean business.

I think things are going to get worse, did you see this? Who’s burning black churches? Arsonists hit at least 3 Southern congregations in the last 7 days

ur black churches burned overnight this week, and at least three have been attributed to arson.

Last week’s shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME was perhaps the deadliest attackon a black church since the 1963 church bombing by the Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four children. Since then, another specter from America’s violent racist history is again rearing its head – setting black churches ablaze.

At least three have been intentionally set on fire in recent days, according to a surveyof news reports compiled by the Daily Kos.

On Tuesday, God’s Power Church of Christ in Georgia was intentionally set on fire, authorities told ABC News. Electronics and other equipment were also stolen in early morning fire. Authorities told reporters there is “no evidence” of a hate crime.

On Wednesday, Briar Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina burned in the middle of the night, causing $250,000 in damage, NBC News reports. Authorities are investigating whether the blaze was a hate crime. It took 75 firefighters to bring it under control.

700aab788fddc48c2a176979763ef995On Friday, Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in South Carolina, was virtually destroyed in an overnight blaze, the Aiken Standard reports. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the FBI has been called in.

Another blaze on Friday morning in Florida at predominantly-black Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church caused $700,000 in damage. The fire is under investigation but fire officials believe it to be accidental, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Burning black churches has historical significance that harkens back to the civil rights era, according to the Atlanta Black Star.

“From slavery and the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement and beyond, white supremacists have targeted the Black church because of its importance as a pillar of the Black community, the center for leadership and institution building, education, social and political development and organizing to fight oppression,” David Love writes.

8b2568a23381e8f5bdf5a39de37232e9The Ku Klux Klan has ramped up recruiting activity in the days since the Charleston shooting. Residents in California, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia woke last weekend to find bags in their lawns filled with candy and Klan flyers seeking new members.

Oh and they will find plenty of eager members.

White supremacist calls Charleston ‘a preview of coming attractions’ | US news | The Guardian

One of the shadowy figures who appears to have influenced alleged Charleston killer Dylann Roof is Harold Covington, the founder of a white separatist movement and, within supremacist circles, an influential sci-fi author. Covington, the latest in a long line of rightwing sci-fi writers, has been linked to racist crimes in the past and this week called the massacre “a preview of coming attractions”.

5202e1d8c23965c6cf5423005f427edcThe racist manifesto and photos apparently posted by Roof makes mention of the Northwest Front, created by Covington, a former member of the American Nazi party who traveled to South Africa and Rhodesia in order to agitate for white power. In the accompanying photos, Roof wore patches with Rhodesian and apartheid-era South African flags on them.

Covington, if you believe his website, runs a growing enclave of white supremacists near Seattle called the Northwest Front. The non-profit group is reflected in a series of sci-fi novels, authored by Covington, about a dystopian future in which a white nation is the only answer to US economic and racial woes.

Pat Hines: Booth Waited Too Long to Kill Lincoln | Mediaite

Days after appearing on CNN and calling efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from state grounds an act of “cultural genocide,” League of the South state chairman Pat Hines went on Alan Colmes‘ Fox News radio program and celebrated the 150-year-old assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Transcript of the exchange below, via:

COLMES: Now the League Of The South in April had an event celebrating the assassination of President Lincoln.

HINES: That’s right.

COLMES: You support that?

HINES: Yes I do.

COLMES: Why?

HINES: He was the most murderous, treasonous President that ever existed.

COLMES: So you honor the actions of John Wilkes Booth?

HINES: John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate agent, who sadly, he didn’t fulfill his mission for almost 2 1/2 years. But he was assigned to kill Lincoln. And it’s too bad that he took as long as he did to do it.

COLMES: You’re upset that it took John Wilkes Booth as long as it did to kill Abraham Lincoln?

HINES: Yes.

COLMES: Why would you favor the assassination of an American President?

HINES: Well he was an United States President. Well, he was Commander-in-Chief, which makes him a legitimate target immediately.

COLMES: Is any Commander-in-Chief a legitimate target?

HINES: Well they are.

5f88aafa8be87376355cf410d484a5ddWhy don’t these people get called out for what they are?  At least paypal stopped the donations to Council of Conservative Citizens…

PayPal appears to suspend donations to group in ‘Dylann Roof manifesto’ | US news | The Guardian

But you know that this Council of Conservative Citizens has donated thousands to the campaigns of GOP politicians…‘Supremacist’ Earl Holt III and his donations to Republicans – The Washington Post

News came Monday that Holt had donated about $65,000 over the years to Republican campaign funds. He gave about $25,000 to Republican candidates in 2012 including former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).

These people are giving the money away to charity, etc.:

Four Republican hopefuls return money after ‘Dylann Roof manifesto’ revelation | US news | The Guardian

Four presidential hopefuls are among 23 Republicans who have given up more than $36,000 in campaign contributions from the leader of a white nationalist group said to have influenced the Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.

Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum led a GOP group spanning Congress and statehouses who said they would donate to charity or return money from Earl Holt, following the publication of a Guardian article on Sunday.

Many other Republicans who took money from Holt declined to comment on the contributions. Josh Mandel, Ohio’s state treasurer, said he would not return $1,500 Holt gave to his failed 2012 US Senate campaign, as it had been spent. Mandel’s campaign still has almost $50,000 in the bank.

ea85bea4fa0bf6f043699e39d25f7180Holt, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), has contributed more than $74,000 to Republican candidates and committees in recent years, according to public filings, while making dozens of racist statements online.

What Is the Council of Conservative Citizens, the White-Supremacist Group That Inspired a Racist Manifesto? – The Atlantic

…the CCC has become the largest white-supremacist group in the nation, according to some observers. Members have donated thousands of dollars to politicians; some national politicians have joined, and dozens have spoken to CCC meetings, often regretting it later. On Monday, Republicans around the country hastened to give back cash they’d received from the CCC’s president, Earl Holt III. Yet despite its size, influence, and unabashed espousal of white separatism, the CCC seems to often go unnoticed, surfacing mostly at times of high racial tension.

[…]

The CCC is now, according to the SPLC, the nation’s largest white nationalist group and at its peak boasted 15,000 members. Though the CCC is sometimes described as “thinly veiled” white supremacists or the like, that’s misleading—it makes little secret of its agenda. (Nonetheless, Ann Coulter has previously stepped forward to defend the group from the white-supremacy attack.) In a statement of principles, the group says:

We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people …. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

New members also receive a pamphlet about Martin Luther King Day co-written by the late racist Senator Jesse Helms. The Anti-Defamation League collects other examples of ties to hate groups and extremists.

5cec53e364cf839399902e0e32b407a5The group also maintains ties overseas; in 1998, according to the white supremacist site American Renaissance, a delegation from the group “had the pleasure of presenting Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate flag that had flown over the South Carolina state capitol.” Le Pen founded France’s far-right National Front, but was recently suspended from the party by its current leader—his daughter—for remarks casting doubt on the Holocaust.

The CCC also prominently protested in 2000 when South Carolina lawmakers moved the Confederate battle flag from atop the statehouse—where it had flown since 1961—to a site elsewhere on the capitol grounds in Columbia.
So tell me…how the fuck can these politicians who get thousands of bucks from CCC get away with simply saying, they didn’t know who or what the CCC stood for? At least until the shit came down with Roof and The Guardian uncovered the groups/Holt donations.What..wait I got distracted…where was I? Oh yeah…on the topic of reactions to the past week:Confederate flag bans, Obamacare ruling, Marriage Equality….the right wing is going nuts. Around Banjoville, shit is getting real. The racist are posting pictures of rainbow flags with swastikas and stars and bars. They are spreading shit about “in god we trust” and founding fathers and Obama stocking SCOTUS with so many liberal judges.
b263fbb6ef5d92e52a80ca7c333ddd09 (1)Anyway…Here are some links in dump format.

After Confederate flags start coming down, hundreds rally to keep the hate symbol flying

Mass Hysteria on the Right After Supreme Court’s Progressive Rulings — 6 Biggest Freakouts | Alternet

GOP’s gay marriage, Confederate Flag views may hurt party – NY Daily News

Alabama Wal-Mart gets bomb threat over Confederate flag sales | AL.com

Charleston exposes ugliest truth of our time: Our society places little value on black life – Salon.com

Shots Fired at San Francisco Pride Parade [Update]

‘Gone with the Wind’ should go the way of the Confederate flag | New York Post

13 of the South’s Most Racist Monuments | Mother Jones

5381f8dc763aad7f1477540d21638b81Confederate battle flag: What it is and what it isn’t – CNN.com

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest – Voices – The Independent

The Power and Sadness of a Black President’s Call for Grace 

History News Network | The Shameful History of the Mistreatment of LGBT Teachers

How Is Jim Hoft Making His Readers Stupider And More Hate-Filled Now? | Crooks and Liars

Graham: Keeping Marriage Amendment In Party Platform Will Hurt GOP In 2016 | Crooks and Liars

Clarence Thomas: Cruelty Incarnate? | Lev Raphael

Straddling Old and New, a South Where ‘a Flag Is Not Worth a Job’ – NYTimes.com

Open Thread – Even In Texas. | Crooks and Liars

Open Thread - Even In Texas. - Crooks and Liars 2015-06-28 15-00-07

 

And more cartoons for you.

e04973afc6d2afcb24acfb6f87575fb0Here’s how cartoonists celebrated the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision

Now for some other news links:

This is far disturbing to see:

WATCH: Mob of Philly cops assault man holding crying baby for not paying his $2.25 transit fare

Transit officers working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority are under investigation after several of them were recorded by a cell phone pushing and shoving an African American man holding onto a baby for reportedly not paying his $2.25 fare.

According to WPVI, SEPTA officials say they are reviewing their policies and procedures after the video — recorded Thursday night — went viral, calling attention to the officer’s actions.

In the video, three transit police can be seen talking to the man as he stays seated in the car holding a very small child. After another officer arrives and handcuffs the man, he is escorted off the rail car and then can be seen being shoved against the wall with the baby still in his arms.

As bystanders attempt to intervene, more than a dozen officers descend upon the platform pushing the crowd back as one man yells , “He still has his daughter in his hands!” as the baby can be heard crying in the background.

bdfb7921d31cc268113046c75b2d1728More officers arrive forming a cordon around the cops wrestling with the man and forcing bystanders onto the train and away from the struggle.

Addicting Info – Detroit Cops’ Chase Kills Two Children, They Keep Going And Injure Three More

Detroit police chasing a fleeing car decided it would be appropriate to continue the chase into a residential neighborhood. Due to their poor decision-making and inability to let a minor offense go, two small children died and three more were seriously injured.

On June 24, police were chasing what eyewitnesses believed to be a red Charger when they “tapped” the car on the rear bumper. That caused the red car to lose control, hitting and instantly killing Makiah Jackson, 3, and her six-year-old brother, Michaelangelo Jackson. Witness Alisha Jackson told the Voice Of Detroit:

“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air. There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘watch out!’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head. I ran down there, I yelled out their names, but they were gone. Makiah’s eyes were wide open, they died on impact.”

Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson

Police could have — SHOULD have — stopped right then. But even after this horrific scene, the chase continued onto another residential street. There, the red car crashed into a driveway, hitting three children. Darius Andrews, Jr., 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7, were critically injured and a 22-year-old woman was also injured.

Darius Andrews, Jr., Isaiah Williams and Zyaire Gardner

The car police were chasing was driven by a man who is on parole but neglected to report to his Parole Officer. Now, that’s certainly against the law and Lorenzo Harris should be held accountable. But to chase him into a residential neighborhood, where children are playing and families are out in their yards, is so irresponsible as to beggar belief. What the hell were they thinking? And to then continue to chase the car after two children were run down? Outrageous!

9e43b855fda291b9f37f4fadbb18927eDetroit Police Chief James Craig must know that this is inexcusable because he is scrambling. He’s changed his story several times. First he said that the police in the car had suspended the chase after they “lost sight of the car.” Witnesses blew a hole in that lie. Then he said that a supervisor had ordered the chase to end. There is nothing documented to prove this. Then he said that Harris had a gun. Then he said he didn’t. The cops had “made eye contact” with Harris and a passenger and we all know that if a black man makes eye contact with a cop, that’s all she wrote. That cops will have compliance no matter what. Even if it kills small children.

What the hell….

More news stories:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s glaring double standard – Salon.com

Obama’s new pact provides legal rights to corporations that it does not extend to unions and public interest groups

1a7dd4a5c74bfedbad197960b974709dPeople thinking that the SCOTUS ruling will change the status of medicaid expansion…think again.

Georgia’s Obamacare stalemate deepens | www.myajc.com

Now that President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has twice been upheld by the nation’s highest court, Georgia’s state and federal leaders are coming to the begrudging recognition that the legislation won’t be changed any time soon.

But the well-dug trenches remain unmoved: Most Democrats insist on a Medicaid expansion in the state as the only path forward. Most Republicans are determined to repeal the law.

Meanwhile, a small cadre of lawmakers hope that Georgia’s involvement in a controversial waiver program could provide a new, and less contentious, path forward to bring in more federal funding for health care.

In the wake of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to maintain health insurance tax credits in states such as Georgia that did not create their own exchanges, the political and policy status quo remained unmoved.

df14798418f67b50e3be051b8f1fd3acGov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston both signaled they don’t intend to step into what they see as a federal matter, and they called on Congress to give states more flexibility to use federal funding.

On the issue of Reproductive Rights:

What the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling means for reproductive rights – Salon.com

There’s a little Easter egg in Friday’s marriage equality ruling that could have major repercussions for reproductive rights activists — if and when the Supreme Court takes up the issue of abortion again.

In his opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy references the interplay of “personal choice” as it relates to same-sex marriage. But, in doing so, he also acknowledges the way individual autonomy relates to other life decisions, such as the right to use contraception or have a baby:

A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding 852089c3f384a9e9dbc5525e5f19d3e9marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. …Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.

Let’s string some things together here: “choices concerning contraception…procreation, and childrearing…are protected by the Constitution.” It’s a single line, but it’s no throwaway — especially not in a SCOTUS decision that affirms equal access to happiness and control over one’s own life. It could set a precedent that’s invaluable to the fight to secure reproductive rights once and for all.

Oh if this could only be a good sign!

Gynotician Alert of the Week: June 20-26

gynotician-definition.png

Check that link out…

1bd8474c179701cba7c8d581107c8797Dutch campaigners fly abortion pills into Poland – BBC News

The group, Women on Waves, flew the aircraft from Germany to highlight Poland’s restrictive laws against terminating pregnancies.

Waiting for the drone on the other side were two Polish women who took the pills, used to induce a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.

Abortion was legal in Poland in the Communist era, but outlawed in most cases in 1993.

It is only permitted in cases of rape or incest, in cases of irreversible foetal malformation, or if the mother’s life is at risk.

On the interest of the mob:

The Wheels of Crime Are Greased With Olive Oil – The Atlantic

53331d7294e2c131014a8d2dda241b49And on health issues:

New questions about why more women than men have Alzheimer’s | Tampa Bay Times

CDC report: 1 in 8 Americans with HIV don’t know they have the virus

And other newsy stories:

Newly disclosed Hillary Clinton emails may undercut her earlier claims | Reuters

Teenage boy bitten by shark in North Carolina in sixth attack in two weeks | US news | The Guardian

USA can play soccer: five things we learned from the 1-0 win over China | Football | The Guardian

A Catholic Schoolgirl Tells Her Side About An Outdated And Intolerant System | Unwritten

963fc26ad55a02464ecff5128ec33c5cThe ballet dancers growing older gracefully | Stage | The Guardian

History News Network | The Countess Who Bested Shakespeare

History News Network | Why I believe Meriwether Lewis Was Assassinated

Defying violence by weaving in the Philippines – Al Jazeera English

Over 150,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced in the region of Mindanao during the armed rebellion that has shaken up southern Philippines for over four decades.

But there is more to Mindanao than war. Weaving, a centuries-old tradition, has become a refuge for some women in the conflict-ridden community. Weaving has helped these women to heal their wounds as they say that the stories of their land are revealed in their patterns.

But challenges are making it more difficult for these women to continue their work. The skills are not being passed on to the younger generation, and women often lack the financial capacity to continue.

f475712d254d277419519ada8826ea81A three-metre long mat takes at least two months to make. The patterns are created individually, no pattern is the same. Made from pineapple and abaca fabrics, they are dyed using tree bark and herbal extracts.

Eugene Strong, from the department of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera that “materials are expensive, there are only a few weavers left, and there are only a few buyers as well”.

“For example, here in Basilan, the fabrics are expensive, so not a lot of people buy. We are now looking at where to market it and luckily we have people who help us in the industry.”

Asdinan Baladji is a weaver who, despite the economic challenges, is teaching her daughter Myazare how to weave. “Life is not great but between household chores and a small income I am happy. We do the best we can.”

Video at the link.

The best link for last:

Rats dream about the places they want to go, apparently | Metro News

Rats are full of wanderlust and dream of places they want to go

Considering that they’re known for crawling through the sprawling subterranean networks of the world, it should come as no surprise that rats actually dream about the places they want to go.

That’s according to researchers from University College London – who claimed that when the rodents are shown an inaccessible food treat, they’re likely to dream about how they can get it when they nod off to sleep.

Or as lead researcher Hugo Spiers put it: ‘It’s like looking at a holiday brochure for Greece the day before you go – that night you might dream about the pictures.’

Rats Dream About the Places They Want to Explore – D-brief

rat sleeping

Rats, like humans, have dreams about the future.

When they see a treat they can’t reach, rats’ later dreams depict them walking toward it, researchers have found. The discovery may one day provide some insight into what happens in the human mind during sleep.

Maps in the Brain

Scientists already knew that after a rat has explored an area, certain neurons in the hippocampus called “place cells” replay those patterns while the rat sleeps.

9294b7e56ebc44a16ca87ab7308052f8“Place cells” in both rats and humans help us store memories about location and form mental maps. When you’re in one spot, a set of place cells fires; when you move to another spot, a different set of place cells fire to mark the new location. If scientists can record the activity of specific brain cells, then, they can spy on how the mind maps new places. So far, that kind of recording requires implanting tiny electrodes on very thin wires into the brain, which can’t be done with human subjects for ethical reasons, but it’s possible with rats.

This is how the scientist found out:

First, researchers let rats explore a T-shaped track. The rats could run along the center of the T, but the arms were blocked by clear barriers. While the rats watched, researchers put food at the end of one arm. The rats could see the food and the route to it, but they couldn’t get there.

Then, when the rats were curled up in their cages afterwards, scientists measured their neuron firing. Their brain activity seemed to show them imagining a route through a place they hadn’t explored before. To confirm this, researchers then put the rats back into the maze, but this time without the barriers. As they explored the arm where they had previously seen the food, the rats’ place cells fired in the same pattern as they had during sleep.

e097f5d4144063479d838ed4175741c2This mental mapping process made up about 8 percent of the rats’ brain activity during sleep. That may not sound like much, but neuroscientist Hugo Spiers, a co-author on the study published in eLife, says it’s a significant amount of activity for the brain to devote to a single task during rest.

That is something to think about.

The rats’ activity may shed some light on what goes on in the human mind during sleep. Sleeping does seem to improve human performance on memory tasks – a finding which has been used to argue against all-night study sessions. And desire is also a crucial part of that process for people. “People are much better at doing the stuff that they’ll make more money on after they’ve slept,” said Spiers. “Something about sleep is using that desire information: that you do want to do better.”

Rats will also become cannibalistic, sort of like humans will…in a figurative sense.

Sorry this is so damn late….think of it as an open thread.

334121b808b2b18f5ddc093d118de459


Lazy Saturday Reads: No Joy in Wankerville

Hope your weekend is going great!

dare to be stupidIt seems Republicans are having terrible, horrible, very bad weeks because even when you attempt to stack the Supreme Court with wankers, there are still times when some of them respect the constitutional rights and civil rights of individuals.  They also occasionally respect the lawmaking process. Aren’t they sorry they can’t clone Uncle Clarence Thomas, the right wing rubber stamp of all things truly UnAmerican?

I seriously think that a lot of today’s Republicans have mental health issues. Is there a syndrome for reaction to losing privilege or is that just some kind of perverse temper tantrum best left to unruly toddlers? They definitely have a warped sense of what is moral.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal jumped the shark a long time ago with his insistence that Birmingham, UK had No Go Zones where Muslims ruled with shariah law.  This is odd given he’s been trying to make Louisiana a No Go Zone for anything but radical evangelical, right wing christianists.

Jindal continues to show just how much he’s losing it with the idea that we’d save ourselves a lot of money by just getting rid of the Supreme Court.  Read your constitution much PBJ?  How much do you hate this country?

Jindal’s office also provided remarks on the court’s ruling from a speech in Iowa on Friday.

“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body. If we want to save some money lets just get rid of the court.

“Yesterday, Justice Scalia noted that in the Obamacare ruling “words have no meaning.

“Today, Chief Justice Roberts admitted that the gay marriage ruling had nothing to do with the Constitution.
Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.

“Hillary Clinton and The Left will now mount an all-out assault on Religious Freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment.

“Regardless of your views on marriage, all freedom loving people must pledge to respect our first amendment freedoms.”

Jindal is among the many Republican using religious freedom as an excuse to discriminate and disobey the law.  You also hear the worn out refrain of state’s rights.  These are the same arguments that were used to protect slavery, continue segregation, deny interracial marriage, and promote all kinds of basically evil things. If any one is guilt of promoting the tyranny of religious rule, it is folks like Bobby Jindal.  It’s also the same throwback states refusing to carry out the SCOTUS decision legalizing marriage equality. Louisiana’s Governor and Attorney General are being complete assholes about issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.  The elected officials in many southern states are acting like cheeky, spoiled little brats who didn’t get their way.

Louisiana and Mississippi are the only two states left in the country not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, according to Washington Post reports.

In Louisiana, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell on Friday indicated that he will not instruct parish clerks of court to immediately issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

In a statement, Caldwell’s office wrote that “it has found nothing in today’s decision that makes the Court’s order effective immediately.”

“The Attorney General’s Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making today’s decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs,” the statement noted.

In the statement, Caldwell expressed disappointment in the high court’s ruling.

In Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood said in a statement: “The Office of the Attorney General is certainly not standing in the way of the Supreme Court’s decision. We simply want to inform our citizens of the procedure that takes effect after this ruling. The Supreme Court decision is the law of the land and we do not dispute that. When the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves’ order, it will become effective in Mississippi and circuit clerks will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses.”

Before the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling Friday, Louisiana and Mississippi were two of 14 states with a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. After the court’s ruling, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida began issuing licenses.

Clearly, many folks in the South still haven’t gotten the idea that we’re a country ruled by laws and not their pet religious fetishes.  Even the dissenting SCOTUS justices were way off the petulant scale and not only images (5)on the wrong side of history, but wrong about history.  Chief Justice Roberts cited a list of civilizations that supposedly had his modern, wanker christianist view of marriage in the dissent.  Simple research and googles would have disabused the Justice of his conveniently wrong views.

In his written dissent to the Supreme Court’s decision to effectively legalize gay marriage in all 50 states in the United States, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made a conspicuous gesture to the rest of the world. He referred to the “social institution” that the majority of the court was “transforming,” and anchored its legitimacy in the currents of history.

…the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?

It’s not quite clear to WorldViews why Roberts decided to implicate these four particular cultures in his opposition to the legalizing of gay marriage. But we can suggest reasons why they are hardly exemplars of “traditional” unions between men and women.

It’s absolutely funny how completely wrong definitions of “traditional marriage” can be.  Here’s the actual practices of the Kalahari Bushmen.

These hunter-gatherers in sub-Saharan Africa have long been the world’s stock image of “primitive man,” and presumably that’s why Roberts referenced them — as the stereotype of an atavistic people, whether it’s fair or not. (It’s not, but let’s move on.) The Kalahari Bushmen don’t have very strong wedding practices, and don’t pay much attention to ceremonies around mating.

Early European accounts of tribes and kingdoms encountered in southern Africa included details of warrior women styling themselves as kings (not “queens”), polygamous households where lesbianism was common, and even ancient Bushmen rock paintings depicting explicit homosexual sex.

Ouch. I already mentioned the misogynous and incest-based traditional marriages of ancient Greece yesterday.  You really have to look to the Dark Ages to get even a remote historical resemblance to what these crack pot religious whackos describe as “traditional marriage”.

In fact, when you really dig into the history of marriage, the only consistent feature is change. My own professional group, the American Historical Association, filed an amicus brief that leveraged the combined expertise of twenty historians of marriage. The AHA brief used examples drawn largely from American history to show that marriage has never been solely about procreation, with issues like property management taking center stage. Moreover, Ruth Karras, author of Unmarriages, told me in an interview that marriage has almost never been about joining one man and one woman, but instead about “two families.” In that sense, same-sex couples looking for equal protection under the law with respect to healthcare and property rights are pretty consistent with “traditional marriage.”

That is, if there even is such a thing as “traditional marriage.” Karras began studying the multiple forms of medieval marriage—or at least the socially-accepted and often semi-legal long-term forms of relationships—because of her frustration with the idea that, “there was some sort of time that we could go back and look at where marriage was this perfect ideal between a man and woman for purposes of reproduction or creating family. The Middle Ages clearly haunts that formulation.” In fact, Karras continued, for many medieval people, “traditional marriage didn’t even exist. Yes, for aristocrats there was this system, but it’s really not very possible to know much about how people without any money formed and possibly didn’t form their marriages. People seem to have this idea that until the 1960s in America, everybody was pro-marriage—in fact, in the Middle Ages a lot of people lived in other kinds of relations besides what was recognized formally as marriage.”

So many of these folks have views based on what they read in the incredibly fabricated St James Bible which was put together in the early 17th century. marriage_equality-1381553

The King James Bible is considered by many today to be the ‘original’ Bible and therefore ‘genuine’ and all later revisions simply counterfeits forged by ‘higher critics’. Others think the King James Bible is ‘authentic’ and ‘authorized’ and presents the original words of the authors as translated into English from the ‘original’ Greek texts. However, as Tony points out, the ‘original’ Greek text was not written until around the mid fourth century and was a revised edition of writings compiled decades earlier in Aramaic and Hebrew. Those earlier documents no longer exist and the Bibles we have today are five linguistic removes from the first bibles written. What was written in the ‘original originals’ is quite unknown. It is important to remember that the words ‘authorized’ and ‘original’, as applied to the Bible do not mean ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’ or ‘true’.

We have an entire group of people–including elected officials and SCOTUS justices that basically can’t get beyond a nearly completely fabricated, contradictory, and false account of what may or may not be a set of fictional characters.   Thank goodness the Constitution isn’t grounded in promoting religion even if so many of the whackadoos in public life build their entire life’s delusions around it.

Some of the most disturbing comments have come from crazy Mike Huckabee who is still running for President and searching for relevance beyond a small group of Southern Baptists.

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said Friday in a statement that he would not “acquiesce to an imperial court” and its decision to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states.

Huckabee’s comments came after the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges.
“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage,” Huckabee said in the statement. “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Huckabee called the ruling “unconstitutional.”

“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition,” Huckabee said. “This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”

Huckabee also questioned the authority of the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity,” Huckabee said. “Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”

Again, we have some people that are totally unhinged and seem to have no concrete knowledge about even the most basic facts about the creation of our Republic and the Constitution.

Religious liberty is not a right to force your religious fetishes on others.  Religious liberty deals with the ideal that the Government cannot establish a state religion and force its tenets on every one in the country.  What these whackos do in their homes, churches and minds are their own business.  What they do with our government and public lives is something completely different.  You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar or lawyer to grok that.

equality_3Here’s another short list of what the Republican Candidates for President say about the ruling.  Can there be any doubt that these folks are out of step with the majority of people in the country and will only be relevant in outback states where they wreck the economies and persecute minorities?  I wrote about Bush and Rubio yesterday so I’ll just fill you in on the other troglodytes.

Of the reactions released so far, all by Republican presidential candidates opposed the Supreme Court ruling, as expected. But they differed in tone.  Some were defiant, others appealed for respect.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to enter the race soon, called the ruling “a grave mistake” and reiterated his support for a constitutional amendment.

“The only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the US Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage,” Governor Walker said in a statement.

Such an amendment would be impossible to pass, observers say, given the requirement that three-quarters of the states ratify it, and so his pronouncement is effectively a symbolic gesture. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another 2016-er, is the biggest champion of a marriage amendment.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who announced his candidacy Wednesday, was also clearly not in the “court has spoken” camp.

“Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that,” Governor Jindal said in a statement.

As the governor of a state that did not already recognize same-sex marriage, Jindal’s posture toward Friday’s ruling has special significance. Ditto Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to enter the race soon.

“Neither governor would be able to do anything to stop same-sex marriage in their state,” in light of Friday’s decision, National Journal notes.

“But they could take actions to speed up or delay implementation of the ruling – actions that would surely become a topic of the presidential campaign over the next year.”

At press time, Governor Kasich had yet to release a statement on the decision, though in April he told reporters at a Monitor luncheon that he would be willing to attend a gay friend’s wedding, suggesting some ease with the issue. But he was also clear that he supports only the traditional definition of marriage.

It is still unbelievable to me that we can literally be held hostage by reactionaries in mostly lowly populated, insignificant states and the rural populations of some of the mid-sized states.  Popular support for the issues like marriage equality are at all time highs and continue to show upward trends.  Still, horrible reactionary pundits and republican politicians continue to thwart progress towards full enfranchisement of racial and religious minorities, ethnic minorities, GLBTs, and women.  I’ve been reading some of the worst things ever from the always wrong Bill Kristol. This man should not be allowed a public forum other than his irrelevant rag. Since when is granting civil rights “Peak Liberalism”?

We see a French Revolution-like tendency to move with the speed of light from a reasonable and perhaps overdue change (taking down the Confederate flag over state buildings) to an all-out determination to expunge from our history any recognition or respect for that which doesn’t fully comport with contemporary progressive sentiment. The left’s point, of course, is not to clarify and sharpen appreciation for our distinctive history; the point is to discredit that history.

And the point is not to advance arguments and criticize alternative views; it is to deny the legitimacy of opposing arguments and to demonize opponents and purge them from the public square.

We see a pitiful aversion to standing up to barbarism abroad and a desperate willingness to accommodate and appease. This requires an amazing ability to shut one’s eyes to reality, and an extraordinary refusal to make tough decisions and assume real responsibilities. As Harvey Mansfield put it in the 1970s, “From having been the aggressive doctrine of vigorous, spirited men, liberalism has become hardly more than a trembling in the presence of illiberalism. .  .  . Who today is called a liberal for strength and confidence in defense of liberty?”

Since when is liberty defined as the right to take liberty away from others?

Maybe, these assholes should pick up a few things written by Thomas Paine and embrace the true roots of revolution.Life,_liberty,_equality_(9181901536)

“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

The real struggles for complete civil rights still exist.  There is ENDA and there is still the ERA.  There is correcting the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act.   In those last links you will see that there is work going on  to get all of these things on track.  Until we are all safe from discrimination in our public lives including in our jobs, in our ability to live where we choose, in our ability to exercise our voting rights and to achieve pay equity, none of us are safe.

No matter what these jerks say, their religion isn’t a get out of complying with our laws free card.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Nite Extra Late Nite: Rainbow Edition

Gay Marriage – Truthdig

It’s a beautiful day….

….and I am sure that people have been dancing in the streets today…happy, like this chick who was at the John Mellencamp show on Tuesday:

Of course the churches here in Banjoville will be aflame on Sunday. You should see the hateful shit spewing from the “christians” on Bebe’s Facebook…these kids from her school. Let’s just say she has a few less friends tonight. Like this one who is on a mission trip in Haiti at the moment…

IMG_6564

 

 

If you can’t read it, the bitch says:

I’m thankful that here in Haiti I’m only surrounded by poverty and hunger and orphaned children instead of the REAL issue that is plaguing America right now; same-sex marriage. Oh, wait…

I mean, how much hate can this girl have…at 16? No, don’t answer that. We know the answer.

Bebe is fortunate, her two best friends are positively affected by the decision today. One is her “gay friend Jerry” whose simple response to the news today was to happily say, “Bebe, now I can get married one day!”

Her other friend who is half-black Haitian and half-white, lives with her mom and her “auntie” (who is the mom’s girlfriend.) This gives reinforcement to the dynamic of this family, especially living LGBT and being black in Banjoville.

 

Anyway, now…Cagle Cartoons

Marriage equality by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

 

Same sex marriage legal in US by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

 

SCOTUS gay marriage by Political Cartoonist Bob Englehart

 

Gay Marriage by Political Cartoonist Osmani Simanca

 

SCOTUS: Let them eat cake: 06/26/2015 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - SCOTUS: Let them eat cake

I Do – Truthdig

 

 

 

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads: Welcome to the Jungle

Justice Kennedy delivers opinion in same sex marriage

Justice Kennedy delivers opinion in same sex marriage

How very ironic that it is my day to post and it’s the very day that all my gay friends get access to the one institution that I tell every one I know and love to avoid like a plague.  You can ask my daughters. My first response is that you really don’t have to do this because you’re educated, can make your own life, and you don’t have to continually have your assets, energy, will to live, and dreams drained away from you over time.  Just hang out with him until the inevitable drift to hell becomes obvious.  Please, don’t do it.  It hasn’t worked so far. Just a few months ago, yet another long time, long married friend confessed to me that she–and others she knows–would have the kids and everything else but never do the husband thing again. That’s pretty much where I’m at with an institution designed to make you disappear into chattel v. meal ticket status.

No one can make you happy but you.  That’s basically a head trip. Marriage, however, absolutely gives another person the right to make you miserable in ways that you’d never even dreamed about when you’re lost to bonding hormones.  You can’t ever ever know how to properly enunciate “till death to us part” until you’ve been stuck at least a good 15 -20 years in the institution. Then you realize, it’s pretty much akin to a death row sentence where the things you really wanted to do with your life were left outside the doors.

Bill Murray showed up–seemingly drunk–on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show in May when the nice young gay couple looking to get married that were filmed in  that Hillary Clinton commercial were interviewed.  He pretty much expressed my views exactly.  I really hope you all make a better situation out of it than straight people generally do. Knock yourselves out!  I want nothing to do with any of it!  I frankly think that there’s hope for some change given the rigid expectations that come with an institution that’s generally been defined by really awful stereotypical sex roles and where it may not treated as a purely breeder institution.

So, with you knowing that I am a conscientious objector to the entire institution for any one, I give you the day that marriage equality happened in the USA.  To my knowledge, nobody’s church has crumbled to the ground and no one’s sanctified marriage has been taken away by any angry sky fairy.   This gives legal access to huge numbers of subsidies, tax benefits, and rights that were never available to gay couples before.  For that, I am very happy.  All the spoils that government provides the institution should be available to any one that wants to try to go the distance; especially if they do so with children.

The Supreme Court has given gay couples the right to be married every where in the United States and its territories.  Just think on that one given Scalia, Thomas, and the religious-politico harpies of the the-honeymooners-pow2Republican party.  Teenagers, now is the time to go to law school and become a divorce lawyer.  An entirely new and huge market segment has just opened up. Until then, welcome to the boom in wedding paraphernalia and hoopla.

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote a separate opinion, saying the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.

That sums it up and it happened just about the way every one thought it would. Kennedy has always seemed open to the idea that civil marriage was a civil right.  I’m not sure how access to a legal institution basically is a power that belongs to the people, but that appears to be the argument by the court’s hyper religious sour grapes.

Here’s the analysis from SCOTUSBlog.

Putting itself back in the forefront of the gay rights revolution, the Supreme Court ruled by the narrowest margin on Friday that same-sex couples across the nation have an equal right to marry.  The five-to-four decision was based firmly on the Constitution, and thus could be undone only by a formal amendment to the basic document, or a change of mind by a future Supreme Court.  Neither is predictable.

Explicitly refusing to hold off deciding the issue to see how other parts of society may deal with the rising demand for gay acceptance and legitimacy, the Court declared that two clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment mean that a “fundamental right to marry” can no longer be denied because the partners are of the same sex.   It did not create a new right, but opened a long-existing one to those partners.

The ruling was the most important victory in a cultural revolution that began almost exactly forty-six years ago, when patrons of a gay bar — the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village — fought back against a police raid.  The events that began on the night of June 28, 1969, are widely known as the beginning of “gay pride” and an unapologetic campaign for equality.

The decision in Obergefell v. Hodges expressly overruled the Court’s only prior ruling directly on same-sex marriage — a one-line decision in the 1972 case of Baker v. Nelson, declaring that a claim to such marriage did not raise “a substantial question” for the Court to resolve.

Over the last two years, the right to marry has been extended rapidly and widely for gays and lesbians, ultimately expanding the places where they may marry legally to thirty-six states and Washington, D.C., through new laws, court rulings, or voters’ approval.  From a 2003 ruling by the highest state court in Massachusetts allowing same-sex marriage, the movement to gain marital rights had spread from coast to coast, with lawsuits in every state where the right had not yet been recognized.

The decision on Friday will open marriage legally in the remaining fourteen states, and will give new legal protection for those who got married under court rulings that actually could not be considered truly final until the Supreme Court itself had decided the constitutional question.  The decision nullified bans on same-sex marriage as well as bans on official recognition of such marriages performed outside a state.   Both prohibitions, it said, violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.

6993425243_70e116e576The dissenting justices evidently strongly dissented. Quelle Suprise!

Chief Justice John Roberts not only dissented from the Court’s ruling but also read a summary of his dissent from the bench.  It was the first time that he has done so in his ten Terms on the Court, and it signaled how strongly he disagreed with the Court’s ruling.  Roberts forcefully criticized the majority for side-stepping the democratic process and declaring that same-sex couples have the right to marry when, in his view, such a right “has no basis in the Constitution.”  The Court’s decision, he complained, “orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”  “Just who,” Roberts laments, “do we think we are?”  The other three Justices echoed Roberts’s sentiments, sometimes in even more strident terms:  Justice Antonin Scalia characterized the decision as a “judicial Putsch” and suggested that, before he signed on to an opinion like the majority’s, “I would hide my head in a bag.”

I always love that historical and religious marriage is always defined by modern terms.  They so overlook the traditional old man and harem mold.  It’s always amazing to me when people that should be smart and well educated just get so hung up in the frames of their bias that they conveniently overlook a huge amount of history that contradicts their halcyon view. Marriage has had many forms over history. The rich and powerful basically treat it as a protocol for more property, power, and strategic alliances. Beyond the breeding requirements, historically, it’s more of an economic and political arrangement with the exceptions of the old common law marriages of the masses.  Most of those were never even registered or recognized by the state. Here’s the typical ancient Greek marriage according to one scholar.

Closely endogamous marriages between uncles and nieces (and sometimes half-siblings), marriages in which women retained almost no property rights or independence and were regularly both physically segregated and violently abused, and a system in which marriage was designed explicitly to increase and safeguard the property of closely related men while encouraging the production of definitely legitimate male heirs to those men through tightly restricting access to their wives.

Scalia was unhinged, as usual.

“‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,'” he quoted from the majority opinion before adding, “Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”

So, while, I’m just a grumpy pessimist who thinks the entire institution and its subsidies/financial incentives should go away, the 2016 GOP candidates are on their barn burning fatwas.   Which gas bag should I quote first?  Hmmm…. let’s go with the Jebster of love.

“Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”

Prop8-gay-weddingAh, yes, HIS faith should triumph, every one else’s can go to hell, and if we don’t agree with his faith than were oppressing him.  His brain should explode from this basket of contradiction if it were functional enough to fire a synapse to set off the explosion.

Rubio actually tried the pragmatic dogmatic approach. I’ll be interested in seeing how that flies with the hate groups that now comprise the republican base.

I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

“While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

The most interesting thing about this bit of dogma dancing is that Kennedy rooted the finding in the Constitution which solomonwivesmakes what Rubio said flagrantly out to lunch.  (Is it just me or does Rubio always say things that just are not grounded in the facts on the ground?)  Kennedy carefully crafted the decision in light of a constitutional right.

The first line of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, on the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States, is as breathtaking as it is legalistic.

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

There it is, the ruling that gay-marriage advocates and opponents have been waiting for since April when the Court took up the case—but really, for years long before that. There is now a constitutional right for people of the same sex to get married in the United States.

He even crafted the ruling’s logic to follow the precedent of similar constitutional rights.

Second, Kennedy writes, marriage is a distinctive institution: “It supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.” Here, he points to the Court’s opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, which affirmed the right of married couples to use birth control. “Same-sex couples have the same right as opposite-sex couples to enjoy intimate association.”

So, my gay friends and family, you have total access to the institution of marriage  in these United States.  Please make it a better arrangement for everyone!


Thursday Reads: Upcoming Supreme Court Decisions and Other News

The Tea Party, Matisse Forman

The Tea Party, Matisse Forman

Good Morning!!

The Supreme Court justices will convene this morning at 10AM. No one knows which rulings they plan to release. Will we learn their decision on same sex marriage? I hope so. I’m guessing they will leave the announcement of their decision on the Affordable Care Act for last. But who knows?

ABC News reports: Supreme Court Has Seven Final Cases to Decide, Including Gay Marriage and Obamacare.

The high court is saving the high drama for the end of its term.

As June dwindles, seven cases are left for the Supreme Court to decide — including one that could legalize same-sex marriage across the country and one that will significantly affect the future of Obamacare.

The court is scheduled to announce decisions Thursday, Friday and Monday, and it could add days beyond that. There’s no indication which decisions will be released on which days.

Mad Hatter tea party

The seven cases are summarized at the link. On the two most prominent cases:

Same Sex Marriage

In a landmark decision, the court will confront two questions. The first is whether states can ban same-sex marriage. The second is whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote three of the court’s most important opinions on gay rights. At an oral argument in April, Kennedy asked tough questions of both sides, and at one point he said “it’s very difficult for the court to say, oh, well, we know better” what defines marriage than centuries of tradition limiting it to the union of a man and a woman.

Affordable Care Act

The justices could deal a potentially crippling, if not fatal, blow to President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

The challenge centers on whether the federal government is violating the act by offering subsidies to lower- and middle-income people who live in states that haven’t set up their own health care insurance “exchanges.”

Sixteen states have exchanges up and running. The remaining 34 rely on the federal exchange. The law says the subsidies can be made available only to people living where exchanges have been “established by the state.”

The plaintiffs argue that the subsidies are illegal because the federal government isn’t a state. The federal government argues that it was always clear that the subsidies would be available to anyone who bought insurance on an exchange. The insurance industry argues that if the federal subsidies are struck down, Obamacare itself would enter a “death spiral,” with costs rising for a shrinking number of participants, eventually causing the system to collapse.

Read about the other cases at the link.

The Tea, Mary Cassatt

The Tea, Mary Cassatt

Possible Outcomes on Same Sex Marriage

Although no one can really know what’s going on in Anthony Kennedy’s confused mind, most pundits expect the Supremes to decide that states cannot ban same sex marriage. I hope they’re right.

Richard Wolf at USA Today: Anticipating high court’s blessing, same-sex couples plan weddings.

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes have sent out “Save the Date” cards and plunked down thousands of dollars for their November wedding, which promises to be Texas-style big.

Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck are busy laying plans for a January wedding in Mississippi, with traditional white dresses and all the trimmings.

Tim Love and Larry Ysunza have reserved their church for an October wedding in Kentucky, about the time of their 35th anniversary together.

Liz Neidlinger and Erika Doty have their sights set on an outdoor sculpture garden in Michigan next May.

Jon Coffee and Keith Swafford were engaged last October in Tennessee and decided to marry in a year, regardless of court action. If it had to be merely symbolic, that would be sufficient.

What sets the five couples apart from your average wedding planners is a small impediment: They can’t get married in their home states — not yet, anyway. But they’re so confident the Supreme Court will change that in the coming days that they already are making plans for the big day.

Tea, Henri Matisse

Tea, Henri Matisse

Chicago Tribune: Coming gay marriage ruling triggers anticipation, anxiety in gay couples.

Chantel and Marcela Gatica-Haynes, who live in Arizona, were married in a garden ceremony at an Ojai, Calif. bed-and-breakfast on Sept. 7, 2013. The wedding came less than three months after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling ended Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. They returned home to Flagstaff and were married again last October after a federal judge ruled Arizona’s ban on the marriages was unconstitutional.

Though many observers predict the coming ruling will open the door wider to same-sex marriage, Chantel Gatica-Haynes worries her marriage could be impacted by a ruling against the unions. She worries more that a ruling upholding state bans could affect Marcela’s attempt to adopt Chantel’s 1-year-old daughter, Aspen.

“We’re just in this holding pattern,” she said. “The things that are hanging out there will affect our daughter’s future even when we’re gone.”

More at the link.

Summer Afternoon Tea in the Garden, Theo van Rysselberghe

Summer Afternoon Tea in the Garden, Theo van Rysselberghe

The Boston Globe: Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision still in question.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, the justices have considered two principal questions:

1) Does the Constitution require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2) If same-sex couples marry in one state, where it’s legal, must other states recognize their marriages?

If the justices say yes on the first question, then same-sex couples in all states will be able to marry. If the justices say no to the first question, but yes to the second, then same-sex marriages will be recognized in every state, but states will not have the duty to marry same-sex couples.

If the justices say no to both questions, then states without same-sex marriage will be neither required to perform same-sex unions, nor to recognize unions performed out of state.

At oral arguments earlier this year, Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely viewed as the swing vote on the case, asked the petitioners early on about the role of the court in changing a definition of marriage that has been used for “millennia,” instead of allowing citizens to engage with the issue through the states.

But Kennedy, who spoke only 17 times during the hearing — the least of any justice barring famously silent Clarence Thomas — also spoke of the ability of same-sex couples to recognize the “nobility and sacredness” of marriage.

Read the rest at the Globe.

TEA PARTY painting

NPR: Maps: What The Supreme Court’s Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage Could Mean.

It’s always tough to predict how the court will rule but, broadly speaking, there are three main possibilities: the simplest is that the court declares state marriage bans unconstitutional, meaning states will all perform and recognize same-sex marriage. That’s a pretty simple outcome, but things get much trickier in the other two cases.

One other possibility is that the court decides to uphold bans. That means states that currently have bans could continue having theirs. But it also leaves 20 states up in the air legally. That group includes states where federal action struck down state bans. If the Supreme Court says bans are constitutional, those states could go back to having bans in place.

And there’s also the possibility of the court saying bans are constitutional, but that all states must all recognize marriages performed in other states. This option retains the messiness of the above possibility, but it does mean that couples would be recognized equally nationwide.

While you can break the decisions down into three neatly color-coded maps, there is a complicated web of state laws at work, and it means outcomes could vary widely by state if the court decides bansare constitutional. Adam Romero, senior counsel at UCLA’s Williams Institute, says the states where federal action struck down state bans are where things could get really complicated.

Read more and check out the maps at the NPR link.

The Affordable Care Act Ruling

Afternoon Tea, Susan Rinehart

Afternoon Tea, Susan Rinehart

From New York Magazine: Chief Justice Roberts’s Big Health-Care Moment, by Cristian Farias.

Chief Justice John Roberts has big plans after the end of the current Supreme Court term. He will be hopping on a plane to Japan, half a world away from any fallout that may result in the aftermath of King v. Burwell, the closely watched challenge to the Affordable Care Act. According to SCOTUSblog, that decision could come as early as this Friday.

Three years ago, when Roberts first saved President Obama’s signature law, he headed for the other side of the globe, to Malta — a CBS Newsscoop about a vote switch and internal “arm-twisting” by Roberts aroused such conservative wrath, the Mediterranean island seemed like a good place for him to teach some law and weather the controversy. “After ruling, Roberts makes a getaway from the scorn,” said the Times.

No one knows where the chief justice stands in King, but there are real-world, pragmatic reasons for him to side with the government again — even more so than with NFIB v. Sebelius, which threatened a law still in its infancy and not yet fully implemented. Now the prospects of unraveling insurance markets and millions losing health-care subsidies with an adverse ruling are real, and Roberts more than any of the justices cares about these things because the court bears his name and anything the court does, whether he had something to do with it or not, falls under his legacy. He’s the most accountable member of the least accountable branch.

But consider also that by the time a decision is announced, Roberts will have finished his tenth year on the Supreme Court — a milestone legal scholars and commentators will seize on to discuss that legacy, his jurisprudence, and whether he has delivered on his promise to be the kind of chief justice who merely “calls balls and strikes,” as he famously said during his confirmation hearings. Just yesterday, the Upshot suggested the court is leaning leftward more than any other time in recent history. And other retrospectives have begun to roll out: the Constitutional Accountability Center, a legal advocacy group, has published a series of reports on Roberts’s first decade and his record — on civil rights, campaign finance, access to justice, the environment, equality. The kinds of cases the public cares about. And yes, that includes health care.

Much more interesting analysis at the link.

Tea Party, Martha Walter

Tea Party, Martha Walter

Washington Post: Supreme Court ruling could push health industry agenda to back burner — again, by Catherine Ho.

The health care industry was hoping this would be the year it could move beyond the Obamacare fight in Washington and on to new priorities, such as improving drug development and patient care.

But the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in King v. Burwell threatens to derail those ambitions.

Industry advocates are concerned that no matter how the court rules on the legality of certain insurance subsidies provided under the law, the health care debate in Congress will once again become dominated by the political divisions over the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“It has the potential for serious chaos and disruption,” said health care lobbyist Ilisa Halpern Paul, who represents hospital systems and health advocacy groups.

The court is expected to rule as early as Thursday on whether to strike down a critical part of the law by invalidating subsidies to 6.4 million Americans in the 34 states that have federally run health insurance exchanges.

If the court rules against the subsidies, Republicans will be scrambling to figure out whether they should find a way to keep them in place until after the 2016 election when they hope a Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress can repeal the law in its entirety. The concern for Republicans is that if they don’t find a way to keep the subsidies in place until a new plan is ready, they will face backlash from constituents who currently use them to offset the cost of their health insurance. The legislative focus on the subsidies would mean all other health-related legislative initiatives that have gained traction recently are likely to come to a halt, at least temporarily.

More at the WaPo.

And some maps of the possible results of the decision at Slate: These Maps Show How Radically the Supreme Court Could Upend the Health Care System.

Once again the fate of the Affordable Care Act rests in the hands of the Supreme Court. In King v. Burwell, the court is weighing whether the federal government can legally provide insurance subsidies to people who have purchased their health care through one of the federally run exchanges in 34 states. Whatever the court decides could also theoretically extend to three other exchanges—in Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon—that are state-based but federally supported. Altogether, roughly $1.7 billion in tax credits and the health insurance of more than six million people is at stake. It’s arguably the biggest existential challenge to Obama’s signature health care reform since the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012.

The crux of the case is a perilous clause buried in the ACA’s hundreds of pages. According to the law’s exact wording, people become eligible for federal insurance subsidies if they’ve purchased care through “an Exchange established by the State.” Because of those last four words, the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argue that federal subsidies can only be available on state-based exchanges, and not on the federally facilitated ones in most of the country. The Obama administration has countered that the purpose of the law is to make health care accessible, and that “established by the State” should be read with that in mind. Several of the people who helped pen the legislation have dismissed the clause as a drafting error.

 Check out the maps at Slate.
The Tea Party, Jules Cayron

The Tea Party, Jules Cayron

Other News, Links Only

#NotOneMore: Undocumented Transgender Woman Who Interrupted President At White House Pride Event Calls to End Deportation.

CNN: Obama shuts down White House heckler: ‘You’re in my house!’

Buzzfeed News: Bobby Jindal’s Plan To Stop Being A Punchline And Actually Win. [Good luck with that.]

Christian Science Monitor: Bobby Jindal was supposed to be the ‘next Reagan.’ What happened? (+video).

Slate: Bernie Sanders, Gun Nut. He supported the most reprehensible pro-gun legislation in recent memory.

NYT: Ex-Advisers Warn Obama that Iran Nuclear Deal “May Fall Short of Standards.”

AP via ABC News: Funeral Plans for South Carolina Church Shooting Victims.

Daily Mail: Harvard professor who covered up Ben Affleck’s slave roots could be dropped from PBS after he is slammed by broadcaster for ‘breaching standards.’

CNN: 2nd prison worker charged in connection with inmates’ escape.

TPM: Lindsey Graham: Charleston Shooter Showed ‘Mideast Hate’ (VIDEO). [WTF?!!]

PIX11.com: Chilling letters from ‘The Watcher’ force NJ family to flee $1.3M dream home.

ABC News: Small Ohio Town Is Focus of FBI Probe After Strange Deaths and Disappearances.

10WAVY.com: NYC: Whole Foods mislabels prepackaged items, overcharges.

WaPo: Whole Foods under investigation for overcharging in NYC.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday.


Pink Houses and Muddy Water: Open Thread


Good morning!

All I can say about last night’s-concert….it was fucking awesome!!!!!!


I can’t write much today because we are still recovering from the heat and the massive quantities of food.


Not to mention that we are on our way back to Banjoville as I type.


I have no idea what is going on in the world, only that as we were eating breakfast this morning, one of the women working at the hotel was emptying the trash can…no need to say what the color of her skin was….on the news they had a news story about South Carolina’s vote to remove the confederate flag from the Capital. The news anchor also mentioned the movement to ban confederate flags as well. And under her breath I heard her say, quite…without any sense of deep anger or happiness or relief (whatever emotional response anyone would expect), but a feeling of hopelessness with a sigh, “It’s about time.”

All this time and through countless murders, assaults, tortures, lynchings etc of African Americans…Overt racism and continuing blatant discrimination…the fact that a flag may be coming down off a pole is little consolation. It should never have been strung up that fucking pole in the first place.


This is an open thread.