Monday Reads

Good Morning!

The Supreme Court has gotten more contentious as the three hard right justices feel they can throw their words and weight around more than ever.  But what about the three women on the court?

And then there were the Court’s women, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who, compared to the verbose right-wingers received less coverage—even as they exhibited qualities that most Americans expect of their highest judges: restraint, focus, nuance, empathy and a respect for exercising the power of federal government.

Is this just more sexism by the press? Are there double-standards when it comes to points made by the women justices, compared to their belligerent male colleagues? The answer, of course, is yes. But let’s look at some of the points that the women made—reinforced, often, by another moderate justice, Stephen Breyer. It reveals Americans would be well served by having more thoughtful, like-minded women—and men—on the Supreme Court.

Check out the Alternet article that reviews some of the women’s impact on the court.

Meanwhile, civil liberties activists and lawyers are trying to make sense of the SCOTUS decision that allows police officers to strip search people even if they are arrested for a routine traffic stop.

The plaintiff in the strip-search case was arrested after a routine traffic stop and jailed for a minor outstanding warrant that may well have been a mistake. Before entering the jail, he was forced to strip, lift his genitals, squat and cough. If that isn’t an assault on human dignity, you might think, what is?

The short answer is that Kennedy couldn’t find a violation of dignity for the petitioner because almost everyone committed to a jail or prison gets similar treatment. (Some states have banned the practice after minor arrests.) Every arrest, even for major offenses, is supposed to take place on the basis of suspicion, not proven guilt. Everyone in jail is equally presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial — or until he or she admits guilt in a plea bargain. To find that all of these people are having their most basic rights violated every day would have been too disruptive to the basic practices of American criminal justice.

As a result, instead of arguing about dignity, the justices disagreed about the practical question of whether invasive strip-searches are reasonably necessary to serve the interests of the jails and prisons. Kennedy’s majority opinion said that they were.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in dissent, pointed to studies finding the opposite. In one, conducted in New York under the supervision of the federal courts, one prisoner out of 23,000 searched had hidden contraband in his body in a way that would have avoided detection by X-ray and a pat-down. A California study found three instances out of 75,000 prisoners strip- searched.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the strip-searches, however well-intentioned when first instituted, now function to humiliate people being put behind bars, sending the message that they are now essentially nonpersons, under the full control of the state.

 

Robert Reich reminds us that without jobs and decent incomes, our recovery is still very fragile. This is what I’ve been saying for some time.  Businesses are only going to hire if they have customers.  Customers need jobs and good incomes to be customers.  Even though the private sector is growing steadily, there are still huge numbers of layoffs coming from state and local governments.  Huge corporations can do business elsewhere.  It’s very hard for job seekers to move to where the economy is good if it’s half way around the world.

Remember: consumer spending is 70% of the US economy. Employers won’t hire without enough sales to justify the additional hires. It’s up to consumers to make it worth their while.

But real spending by American consumers (adjusted to remove price changes) this year hasn’t been going anywhere. It increased just 0.5% in February, after an anemic 0.2% increase in January.

The reason consumers aren’t spending more is simple: they don’t have the money. Personal income was up just 0.2% in February – barely enough to keep up with inflation. As a result, personal saving as a percentage of disposable income tumbled to 3.7% in February, from 4.3% in January. Personal saving is now at its lowest level since March 2009.

American consumers, in short, are hitting a wall. They don’t dare save much less than they are now because their jobs are still insecure. They can’t borrow much more. Their home values are still dropping, and many are underwater – owing more on their homes than the homes are worth.

The economy has been growing, to be sure, but almost all the gains have gone to the very top. This is the most lopsided recovery on record.

SOS Hillary Clinton will not be attending the Democratic convention this year.  As is tradition, the Secretary of State stays out of national politics to focus on US foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton, perhaps President Barack Obama’s most high-profile cabinet member, won’t be attending this year’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., citing the duties of her job as secretary of state.

“Given her current position, she will not be attending, consistent with her not engaging in any political activity whatsoever,” Philippe Reines, Clinton’s spokesman, told the Charlotte Observer on Friday.

He added that it will be the first time Clinton will miss a Democratic convention in decades, “possibly all the way back to ’68 in Chicago.”

Malawi has sworn in its first female president.

Vice-President Joyce Banda was sworn in as Malawi’s new head of state on Saturday, the BBC reports. She is the first female head of state in southern Africa. President Bingu wa Mutharika went into cardiac arrest on Thursday, but his death wasn’t officially announced until Saturday. Banda was one of President Mutharika’s most vocal critics. She was expelled from the governing party in 2010 over her criticisms with Mutharika and went on to form her own opposition party.

Ever wonder how Romney gets away with repeating so many lies with very few reporters mentioning it?  I’ve watched Rachel Maddow cover it and have just been awed by the number of whoppers that Willard seems to continually drop without even a blink.

Romney denounced Obama for “apologizing for America abroad” during his first years in office rather than focusing on the economy. It’s another silly and inaccurate claim. PolitiFact awarded Romney a “Pants on Fire” rating for having made such a statement during his June 2, 2011, speech announcing his presidential bid. But this line obviously plays well for Romney. He has used it over and over.

I could go on, but the drift is clear. Romney’s speech was loaded with false statements. The various fact-checking sites did pounce on Romney for several of his prevarications. AP also ran a story noting that both Obama and Romney had “warped some realities” in recent speeches. But that article failed to note that the examples it listed for Obama had the president (arguably) spinning political characterizations in his favor, while the Romney examples were flat-out untrue assertions Romney made regarding Obama. Once again, a mainstream media outfit was perpetuating a false equivalency.

Romney stood before a gathering of journalists. He made a series of incorrect and dishonest accusations. And he was not hooted out of the room. He faced no penalty for this—just a few slaps from those pesky, fact-checking schoolmarms. He will not be banned from similar forums. The politerati is not up in arms. His campaign rolled on. And this may well sum up one of the fundamental problems with American politics.

So, enough from me.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


27 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The public and the candidates work collaboratively when it comes to “lies”. We’ve long accepted the truth to this statement and have lowered our expectations in seeking a candidate who can be completely trusted.

    However, Mittens seems to rely on that collaboration as he goes from one event to another saying one thing here, another there, even when some of what he lies about is so inconsequential.

    It’s one thing to shade the truth when it comes to policy, but another when you just throw anything out there hoping it sticks.

    As for the SC, we have come to fully appreciate that most of those justices are acting in concert with the GOP and are as far from being impartial in their rulings as one can get. The latest law allowing strip searches is just a form of facism that this court seems willing to inflict on the nation in even the most minor of offenses.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Romney stood before a gathering of journalists. He made a series of incorrect and dishonest accusations. And he was not hooted out of the room. He faced no penalty for this—just a few slaps from those pesky, fact-checking schoolmarms. He will not be banned from similar forums. The politerati is not up in arms. His campaign rolled on. And this may well sum up one of the fundamental problems with American politics.

    I’ll say. Most of the people who call themselves journalists these days are nothing but sycophants and semi-human xerox machines.

    • propertius says:

      I think the real story here is that Romney doesn’t know the meaning of the word “apologist”, much as Obama doesn’t know the correct pronunciation of the word “corps”.

      This doesn’t bode well for the next four years, no matter how you slice it.

      • dakinikat says:

        I’m thinking Harvard isn’t so much about a quality of education as it is about a network of assholes working together to further themselves and screw over the country.

  3. NW Luna says:

    Hillary Clinton, perhaps President Barack Obama’s most high-profile cabinet member, won’t be attending this year’s Democratic convention …in Charlotte, N.C., citing the duties of her job as secretary of state.

    Much to Obama’s relief — she can’t outshine him if she’s not there. But wait — there’s Bill.

    And much to the regret of many others who still dream of a brokered convention, where attendees finally are fed up with the current DINO prez and vote in Hillary. Sigh.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Prosecutor says she doesn’t need grand jury to decide about Zimmerman.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/09/us-usa-florida-shooting-idUSBRE8380JS20120409

    Good news or bad news? I’m not sure. I’m guess this means she will put off the decision even longer and there will be more racial tension building up around the country.

    • dakinikat says:

      They caught the Tulsa shooters and are trying to figure out if the shootings were also a hate crime. Interesting how every one thinks the violence is going to come from blacks and this is the first act of what looks like racially motivated violence.

      • Yes, interesting that.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It was a hate crime, IMO. The younger shooter posted on facebook about his rage about losing his father, who was killed by a black man. It was close to the anniversary of his death. The kid’s girlfriend had committed suicide recently too.

        Racists around the country are starting to think it’s OK to kill black people. Someone in Michigan even hacked into a digital highway sign to call Trayvon a “n****r.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Check this out BB, Trayvon Martin Case: Special Prosecutor Called Off Grand Jury, Will Decide Zimmerman’s Fate

          Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Martin’s family, called the move a hopeful sign that Zimmerman could soon be charged.

          “I think it signals that an arrest could be forthcoming,” said Jackson. “I don’t have any indication; that is just my opinion, but there is enough evidence in this case for an arrest, and a jury should be the one to decide his fate.”

          I don’t know, maybe it gives that wonderful civil rights group…those Neo-Nazi defenders of the white race, time to get prepared to protect Sanford’s white residents.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yeah I don’t know if that is good or bad news either…

  5. peggysue22 says:

    The strip search ruling is the final nail in the coffin when it comes to our civil rights as citizens. So now it’s perfectly legitimate for the police to completely degrade anyone at any time for any offense regardless of how petty. I find this absolutely appalling, particularly when added to all the other offensive, anti-democratic rulings SCOTUS and the Executive branch have foisted on the American public. Creeping fascism has become a tidal wave and the accompanying Police State is upon us. At some point this is going to explode into a million tiny pieces!

    • northwestrain says:

      In one of the grad classes ages ago there were a few prison guards (taking a required class). Anyway they liked to brag how the stripped the teenagers and made them take showers nude in the public intake area. They explained that they needed to do this to turn the kids into submissive prisoners. Any child who showed any spark was put through the process until they learned to behave.

      Naomi Wolf reviewed the recent history of the use of forcing humans to strip for authority — this ruling is yet another reason to see that the Supreme — the radical right gang — are helping to head this country toward a totalitarian dictatorship — or a military dictatorship. Cops are now military police — and the TSA sexually molests children.

      • guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 April 2012 10.50 EDT

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/05/us-sexual-humiliation-political-control

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    You know, I remember all the flat out errors that Bachmann and the other one, Palin made that was called out left and right. (Which they should have been…) For these assholes to get away with it now is just more of that sexist attitude of the press coming through.

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey, this is something. Barbara Streisand is turning 70 on 4/24…

    TCM Full Schedule – Turner Classic Movies

    TCM PRIMETIME – WHAT’S ON TONIGHT: BARBRA STREISAND’S 70TH BIRTHDAY
    8:00 PM
    romance
    Way We Were, The (1973) buy dvd
    EXPAND
    10:15 PM
    musical
    Funny Girl (1968) buy dvd
    EXPAND
    1:00 AM
    drama
    Prince Of Tides, The (1991) buy dvd
    EXPAND
    3:30 AM
    comedy
    Owl and the Pussycat, The (1970) buy dvd
    EXPAND
    5:15 AM
    musical
    Funny Lady (1975) buy dvd
    EXPAND

    I recently saw the film The Great Ziegfeld (1936) where Fannie Brice plays herself. Damn, I gotta say Barbara Streisand did a perfect job in Funny Girl. It was amazing to see just how exact Streisand got Brice down.

    • An early Happy Happy to Barbra!! She is making 70 look divine!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Here is a couple videos:

      That is the real Fanny Brice.

      I couldn’t find any longer clips of the movie Funny Girl, but you get the picture.

    • I love Funny Girl! And the Mirror has Two Faces! And everything Barbra Streisand :)

    • thewizardofroz says:

      Barbra is exactly (to the day) six months older than I am. :) I saw her on Broadway in “Funny Girl.” Needless to say, an amazing performance. Love the (1968) movie version. “The Way We Were” is one of my favorite movies. Also enjoyed her in “Yentl.”

      Roz in NJ/NYC

    • thewizardofroz says:

      “I recently saw the film The Great Ziegfeld (1936) where Fannie Brice plays herself.”

      I’m old enough to have listened to Fanny Brice on the radio as “Baby Snooks.” Hilarious!

      Roz in NJ/NYC

  8. dakinikat says:

    Angela Corey, the special prosecutor investigating the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, announced today that she was skipping the grand jury and will continue with her own investigation. In fact, sources are telling WFTV in Orlando that an arrest of Zimmerman could happen as early as this week. All this must have Trayvon’s parents breathing a sigh of relief.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/why-no-grand-jury-in-killing-of-trayvon-martin-is-a-positive-sign/2012/04/09/gIQAkE1H6S_blog.html

    Let’s hope we can find true justice in this case. Trayvon’s death deserves to be investigated thoroughly. I’ve seen far too many young black teens shot down here by police and others when they’ve been unarmed. This is a national disgrace.