Stormy Monday Afternoon ReadsPosted: February 15, 2016
We’re experiencing some really typical spring weather down here today! It’s going back and forth between torrential downpours and sun. Most of the surrounding areas and states are under tornado watches and warnings. It’s like the weather is really trying to rock and roll us into spring!
So, I’m old enough to remember when we actually celebrated Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday separately. Today is President’s Day which just never has the same feel to me but we do have MLK day to provide some balance and perspective to our national celebrations. I’m still waiting for the day when Columbus day is used to celebrate our indigenous peoples. I’d also like to see the anniversary of votes for women become a national holiday. It’s about time we recognize that every one contributes something to our story.
This brings me to the idea of how modern leaders contribute to the national dialogue. Lincoln was one of our greater leaders and orators. Today, one of his phrases comes to my mind. It is doing things with “charity for all, and malice towards none”. This famous phrase comes from Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865. It was a speech meant to bring the nation together after the Civil War.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
If ever there was a need to bind the wounds of a divided nation, it would be now. We’re facing an election and the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice. The death of Antonin Scalia ends his 30 year war on modernity. The current election is a continuing battle against it and most of his written and spoken words will not be remembered kindly by historians. Some times I feel like we’re in this place so aptly described by Lincoln.
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would ‘make’ war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would ‘accept’ war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
There’s been a lot of pearl clutching by folks on how some of us are truly celebratory about whatever it took to get Scalia off the court. I’m frankly of the opinion that not speaking ill of the dead is fine for one’s drunk uncle but when it comes to a person in power that truly did so much damage while hating on so many people that decorum is unnecessary. Scalia spent his life being controversial and his death shows us that he continues to create havoc. This is from First Draft and my friend Peter.
Now that I’ve praised Scalia, I’m glad that we’re burying him. There are a series of important cases that would have pushed the law even further to the right that now look like 4-4 draws. It will be interesting to see how the other Supremes handle these cases. They can put them on hold or allow the lower court rulings to stand. In either event, an eight person Supreme Court isn’t good for the country, which is one of many reasons to be glad the President plans to nominate a replacement some time soon.
It’s obvious that the GOP controlled Senate is going to either slow walk or put in the deep freeze any nomination put forward by President Obama. They’re hoping to win the 2016 election and put a Scalia clone on the court. Ordinarily, I’d give them a 50-50 shot at denying the Dems a third consecutive term but the wild rhetoric in the GOP primary race makes a loss more likely than not. Usually, the Republicans are slyer about calling their opponents liars, leaving the dirty work to surrogates. Slyness has gone by the wayside in the era of the Insult Comedian and Tailgunner Ted. They have the perfect stealth wingnut candidate in John Kasich but he’s not extreme enough for the current GOP; a scary thought given how far to Reagan’s right the Ohio Governor is.
So, the Republicans continue to let loose the dogs of war.
The true character of the man shone through during the time on the court when its “conservative” majority could push through decisions that weakened the Voting Rights Act in particular. His need to continually denigrate GLBT , women, and African Americans came through in many of his minority opinions. Let’s also not forget that no court had ever found a right for the individual to bear arms in the second amendment until Scalia discovered it there. He was an originalist when convenient. I’m not going to praise Scalia because it’s going to take a long time to bury the damage the man did.
Here are some of his worst and incendiary quotes. This one is happened when sodomy was decriminalized in Texas.
‘Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct…. [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.’
There are many more notable slurs that were totally unnecessary to whatever the finding was of the court. Scalia never held back.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks suggesting African-American students perform better in “less-advanced schools” has stoked a firestorm of criticism.
Scalia has been rebuked by the White House and compared to Donald Trump by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who called the remarks racist.
The conservative justice made the comment Wednesday during oral arguments in a case challenging the University of Texas’s admissions policy.
Scalia questioned whether considering a prospective student’s race in the admission process actually helped blacks, going on to question whether many might be better off at less-selective universities.
Scalia highlighted a friend-of-the-court brief, making it clear he did not necessarily agree with the arguments in the brief.
“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well,” he said.
“One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.”
Those comments were far from the first controversial remarks by Scalia.
One of the best things I’ve read is actually a KOS diary by a lawyer that works with the Death Penalty. Please read this link. It’s a wonderful essay.
I differed most with Scalia on the death penalty and the treatment of condemned people. Today, I’ve watched as fellow criminal defenders have posted pictures of the justice, and even as some lamented the harsh treatment of the justice. One broke down her opinions as a mere “disagreement” on ideological grounds. She acted as if her and Scalia agreed on the importance of educating our children, but disagreed on the proper way to do it. That’s a political disagreement. With Scalia, it’s much deeper than that.
I’m friends with Anthony Graves, the 12th man ever exonerated off of death row in Texas, the 138th exonerated nationally. He’s a black man who was sentenced to death for a mass child murder that he knew nothing about, only after prosecutors hid evidence, coerced witnesses, and manipulated the jury in the media. He was exonerated only after 18 years in custody. He suffered immensely, enduring solitary confinement, missing out on birthdays, Christmas mornings, and Easter egg hunts with his children. That he’s now out and using his voice to change the world does not make up for the wrong that was done to him. My friend petitioned the Supreme Court to take up his case after his appeals were denied in state court and the lower levels of the federal system. As in most death penalty cases, the Supreme Court declined to take up my friend’s case. Antonin Scalia left my friend to die. He didn’t care.
And why would he? Scalia once famously declared:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.
For the uninitiated, the justice was saying, in effect, that the constitution is no barrier to executing a man who is actually innocent so long as that death sentence has been obtained in a nominally “legal” manner. He had other death penalty opinions that stood out, too. In 1994, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote an opinion questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty. Scalia responded by picking out what he perceived to be the worst of worst in death penalty cases. He picked Henry Lee McCollum, writing that McCollum’s case was a great example of why the death penalty was still necessary. He wrote:“For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”McCollum walked off of death row in 2015 after DNA evidence proved his innocence. So much for Scalia’s model case. You see, Scalia was prone to pronouncements that amounted to little more than demagoguery. His statements contributed to decades of operation of the machinery of death, which took lives in brutal state-sponsored murder.
Of course he didn’t stop at the death penalty. He dissented in Lawrence v. Texas, standing short in his belief that states should be allowed to jail gay people for having sex. His most recent headlines came when he suggested in an affirmative action case that black men might be better off at “less advanced schools,” where they might do better.
To cloak these moral distinctions as “political differences” is disingenuous. It’s the sort of stuff that will allow an Antonin Scalia monument to be erected somewhere in honor of his “passion” or “service” in the decades to come, as the younger public is duped into believing that his opinions were just the product of a different kind of legal reasoning. Since when did adjectives like “passionate” become a good thing without context? A man who is passionate about causing pain isn’t one to celebrate. In fact, it would have been better if he’d pursued his agenda with far less passion. The “service” of a man who dedicated his career to marginalizing the already marginalized is not a service we should honor. That man would have been better off choosing a high-dollar law firm, where he could have marshaled his considerable legal skills in favor of money before running himself into the ground.
Death does not wash away the stench of planned cruelty. Scalia holds more moral responsibility for his decisions than the average villain. His weren’t in-the-moment mistakes made under pressure. They were calculated judgments made after hours, days, and weeks of reflection. They were opinions written with the greatest of care.
To reduce these opinions, and these differences to the unmoving label of “political” does a disservice to the pain his decisions brought to actual human beings. Like the little man with the teenage beard, Scalia’s actions weren’t without a victim. When he wrote of the death penalty, he directly weighed on my friend Anthony and plenty of others, too. When he ruled in Lawrence, he laid the groundwork for much of the hate that’s made assaults on gay men and women a thing that we must tackle in 2016. If you call these political differences, as if they’re just different methods of solving a problem, you demonstrate a stunning lack of understanding that when Antonin Scalia spoke and wrote, his words carried unique power that often led to death, added to prejudice, and threatened to set America back a hundred years.
I have to admit that I used to have some degree of admiration for Senator Bernie Sanders. I even wrote about his time spent in symbolic filibuster in 2010. You may remember that we lived blogged it too. Sanders was joined by Senator Sherrod Brown and my then Senator Mary Landrieu. It was about a piece of compromise legislature that essentially extended some of the Bush Tax Cuts.
I’ve always seen him as a gadfly who doesn’t accomplishment much but does these kinds of things so that he provides an important voice that you don’t much hear coming from many places. We really don’t have much of a really leftist movement here in the US . The more his campaign does just plain wicked nasty stuff like stealing data from Senator Clinton’s campaign when given the opportunity, the more I really have started taking an active dislike for the man. I think that his absolute tin ear on the issues of intersectionality of income and wealth inequality and racism and sexism horrifies me more than anything. He appears to live in the 1970s and doesn’t look very interested in updating since then.
So, here’s my suggested reading on Bernie’s treatment of Hillary today by Joe Conason: His Respected Friend: But What Does Bernie Really Think Of Hillary? Joe Conason is my age. He’s a journalist, author and liberal political commentator. This article was written for National Memo but he also a column for Salon and a number of books. You may have heard about Big Lies where he outlines myths told about liberals by conservatives. He points out the hypocrisy in Sanders assumption that Clinton is sullied by taking any Wall Street money while refusing to consider what that infers about his contributions from big Unions including the one that produced the movie that led to Citizens’ United. (Another abomination for which we can thank the late Justice Scalia.)
Still, to Sanders the mere act of accepting money from the financial industry, or any corporate interest, is a marker of compromise or worse. Why do the banks spend millions on lobbying, he thunders, unless they get something in return? The answer is that they want access – and often donate even to politicians who don’t fulfill all their wishes. They invariably donate to anyone they believe will win.
Meanwhile, Sanders doesn’t apply his stringent integrity test to contributions from unions, a category of donation he acceptsdespite labor’s pursuit of special-interest legislation– and despite the troubling fact that the leadership of the labor movement filed an amicus brief on behalf of Citizens United, which expanded their freedom to offer big donations to politicians. (That case was rooted, not incidentally, in yet another effort by right-wing billionaires to destroy Hillary Clinton.)
By his own standard, Sanders shouldn’t take union money because the AFL-CIO opposed campaign finance reform, which he vociferously supports. Or maybe we shouldn’t believe that he truly supports campaign finance reform, because he has accepted so much money from unions.
Such assumptions would be wholly ridiculous, of course – just as ridiculous as assuming that Clinton’s acceptance of money from banking or labor interests, both of which have made substantial donations to her campaign, proves her advocacy of reform is insincere.
Political history is more complex than campaign melodrama. If critics arraign Clinton for the decision by her husband’s administration to kill regulation of derivatives trading, it is worth recalling that she was responsible for the appointment of the only official who opposed that fateful mistake. She had nothing to do with deregulation — but as First Lady, she strongly advocated on behalf of Brooksley Born, a close friend of hers named by her husband to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. One of the few heroes of the financial crisis, Born presciently warned about the dangers of unregulated derivatives.
You may recall that Sanders voted to deregulate derivatives. That action was most likely a lot more responsible for the Financial Crisis than anything else and I’ve repeatedly written about how we need to standardize and regulate them strictly.
Yet a year later, Sanders voted in favor of legislation to exempt whole swaths of the banking sector from regulation. The discrepancy appears to be due in part to sloppy voting by Sanders, and in part to Gramm’s legislative guile.
“No one has a stronger record on reforming Wall Street and breaking up too-big-to-fail banks than Senator Sanders,” said Warren Gunnels, senior policy adviser to Sanders. “He strongly spoke against repealing Glass-Steagall because he was afraid that it could cause a financial crisis like the one we saw in 2008. And he’s going to do everything possible to break up the too-big-to-fail banks.”
When Sanders voted for the House version of the CFMA in October 2000, the bill was not yet a total debacle for Wall Street accountability advocates. The legislativetext Sanders supported was clearly designed to curtail regulatory oversight. The GOP-authored bill was crafted as a response to a proposal from ex-Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Brooksley Born to ramp up oversight of derivatives. But the version Sanders initially voted for was more benign than the final, Gramm-authored version, and it didn’t draw any of the protests that the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall did. In October 2000, the bill passed the House by a vote of 377 to 4 (51 members didn’t vote), and then sat on the shelf for weeks.
But in December, Gramm — after coordinating with top Clinton administration officials — added much harder-edged deregulatory language to the bill, then attached the entire package to a must-pass 11,000-page bill funding the entire federal government. After Gramm’s workshopping, the legislation included new language saying the federal government “shall not exercise regulatory authority with respect to, a covered swap agreement offered, entered into, or provided by a bank.” That ended all government oversight of derivatives purchased or traded by banks. He also created the so-called “Enron Loophole,” which barred federal oversight of energy trading on electronic platforms.
So, Secretary Clinton is responsible for what her husband’s administration did while Sanders isn’t responsible for an actual vote.
I guess if I can say anything about today’s post is that I’m tired of folks acting like the horrible shit of some people doesn’t stink when it does. Death doesn’t wipe out the fact that Antonin Scalia was a horrible bigot. He may have gotten a few things right, but it doesn’t excuse how he used his position of power to absolutely denigrate some of the weakest among us. I’ve never been one to mince words. We all do sincerely stupid things and we should own up to them. Clinton has said repeatedly she’d switch that vote for the Iraq Resolution knowing what she knows now.
I just want every one held to consistent standards. Enthrallment and death shouldn’t cause us to lose complete sight of things bigger in life than any one person. Character should will out.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?