Wednesday Reads: Appearance is everything



Abortion Ruling: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Ah, good afternoon!

It has been a while since we took a look at the offerings of political cartoonist, so I thought today would be a good day for that…and in all honesty, there is another reason, things have been moving quickly with my parent’s closing (it is now pushed to the 6th) so there is plenty to do. (But it is a good plenty…)

First I will start with this video from UNICEF, posted on Huffington Post Facebook page,


Some of you may have seen this…if you haven’t please take the few minutes to watch it in full.

If you cannot see the embedded video, here is a link to the page:  The Huffington Post

Those fuckers made that little girl cry.

Many of the cartoons today mention the ruling regarding SCOTUS smackdown of Texas Anti-abortion law HB-2. In relation to this, Vox has an article: It could take years for Texas abortion clinics to reopen, even after a Supreme Court victory – Vox

Pro-choice advocates won a huge victory on Monday when the Supreme Court struck down two major anti-abortion laws in Texas inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Those laws, part of an omnibus anti-abortion bill called HB 2, were responsible for closing about half of all abortion clinics in Texas.

Before HB 2 passed in 2013, Texas had 41 open clinics. Today there are 19. If the Court had ruled to uphold the restrictions, that number would have shrunk to nine. So it’s no surprise that lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said she was “beyond elated” by the ruling.

But, Hagstrom Miller said in a recent interview with Vox, a victory at the Supreme Court is really just the beginning for abortion providers in Texas. Not only are other restrictions, like a 20-week abortion ban and limits on medication abortion, still in place in Texas but HB 2 has also done lasting damage to abortion access that could take years to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

It turns out, according to the Vox report…

The closed clinics can’t just reopen overnight, and some might never reopen

Well, I realized that they would not reopen with a snap of the fingers, but that some may never reopen, that just is salt in wounds.

Then there was this, from the NY Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges – The New York Times

From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling — that those provisions in a Texas law do not protect women’s health and place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — will quickly reverberate across the country.

It will prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time was likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.

“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.

Adopting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors that are said to be about protecting women’s health has been one of the anti-abortion movement’s most successful efforts, imposing large expenses on some clinics, forcing others to close and making it harder for women in some regions to obtain abortions. Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who deplored Monday’s ruling, argued that they were requiring clinics to “be held to the same standards as other medical facilities.”

Now, the court has ruled that any such requirements must be based on convincing medical evidence that the rules are solving a real health issue to be weighed by a court, not by ideologically driven legislators — and that the benefits must outweigh the burdens imposed on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Take a look at that article, because it highlights a few states that currently have abortion laws going into effect on July 1st…which could now be seen in a different light since the Monday ruling.

One more link before the cartoons…I just think this is funny: Why Do Monkeys Become More Selective With Friends As They Age, Just Like Humans? : SCIENCE : Tech Times

Scientists from the German Primate Center wanted to know how age affected the behavior of more than 100 Barbary macaques kept in an enclosure in a park in France.

They investigated how the monkeys – whose ages ranged from 4 to 29 years (equivalent to 105 human years) – reacted to physical objects such as novel toys and tubes with food, social interactions such as fighting and grooming “friends” and new social information, such as calls and photos of “friends” and “strangers.”

Researchers discovered that the interest of Barbary macaques in toys wane when they become adults. At around 20 or the retirement age of monkeys, these animals approached fewer monkeys and had less social contact.

What surprised scientists is that this obvious withdrawal was not prompted by a social affinity to avoid old monkeys. Younger ones still groomed and approached their elders.

It also wasn’t because older monkeys were not interested in anything at all. Scientists found that older monkeys still hissed to others during fights and still responded to photos of others.

These older monkeys are still attuned to what is going on around them, but they do not want to participate, says Julia Fischer, one of the researchers of the study.

They hissed? Could this be a monkey’s way of saying, get off my lawn?

The dominant psychological theory that could explain why this behavior happens in humans is that they want to maximize the time they have left with death on the horizon.

Fischer says although monkeys have excellent memories, there is no evidence that they are self-aware about their impending deaths. So if both monkeys and humans act this way as they age, the theory may be rationalizing a natural behavior with biological roots, she says.

Alexandra Freund, Fischer’s co-researcher, says the findings of the study clearly tell us that we are not distinctive in how we grow into old age.

“There might be an evolutionary ‘deep’ root in this pattern,” says Freund.

There is a bit more at the link, along with some other sources and connections to the published study.

And now the funnies…

Starting with Luckovich…06/17 Mike Luckovich: Losing letters. | Mike Luckovich



From June, published around the 17th.

From June, published around the 17th.


06/22 Mike Luckovich:Hair today… | Mike Luckovich



Signe Wilkinson: Abortion Clinic – Truthdig

Clay Bennett: Brexit Lifeboat – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Another Benefit of Brexit – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Brexit Racism – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

From Cagle Cartoons, click to see the toon:

Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

This is a good one: Brexit

Brexit ….a different one, but the same name.

Brexit Washup

Brexit …another one with the same name, but different, and damn good.

Brexit regret

And the rest from the AAEC:

George Will splits from GOP: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - George Will splits from GOP

06/28/2016 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Brexit and Trump: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Cartoon by Steve Greenberg - Brexit and Trump

Undue Burden: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Undue Burden

GOP Sit-In: 06/24/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - GOP Sit-In

Great Britain Great Again: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco

Cartoon by A.F.Branco - Great Britain Great Again

The above cartoon is from a right wing cartoonist btw….so that is not a sarcastic cartoon. It is in fact a glorification. To see more from this cartoonist…cough, cough: AAEC — Political Cartoons by A.F.Branco Because I will not put up a sample of his other shit. (Now, I bet that gives ya the creeps. As it gave me…at least check this one out: Eye To Eye: 06/26/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco)

The Bowtie Rebellion: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The Bowtie Rebellion

SUPREME COURT v TEXAS ABORTION LAWS: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath


John Lewis sit-in: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - John Lewis sit-in

Brexit: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Brexit

Smoking gun: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Smoking gun

Pulse shooting: 06/15/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Pulse shooting

That is an older cartoon, but I thought it was a good one and should be included.

06/28/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/23/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/13/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

American Community: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - American Community

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/27/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Pat Summitt Tribute: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Pat Summitt Tribute

This is an open thread…

Monday Reads: The Supremes Speak

Good Afternoon!

I’m in an absolute haze from a summer cold that popped up yesterday and sent me directly to bed. I’m trying to write and work right nowows_145558192527968 but it’s not easy at all.  I want to try to discuss a lot of upcoming things that will be important including the SCOTUS decision on the Texas Trap laws regarding abortion and abortion clinics.  These law certainly create an undue burden and they reflect specific religious view rather than medical or biological science.  Here’s a few reads to prepare us all because it’s important for all of us to understand this basic constitutional right.

Abortion opponents regularly talk as though no restriction is off the table when it comes to stripping away reproductive rights. And supporters of abortion rights don’t always set them straight. If we don’t know what our established rights are, we can’t defend them. Pro-choicers need to know why abortion is a constitutional right and what boundaries the U.S. Supreme Court has set out to protect it.

1. Abortion is protected by the rights to bodily integrity and to make decisions about family. The Court explained that decades ago.

The 14th Amendment prohibits states from depriving a person of liberty without due process of law. A person has the right to end a pregnancy without undue interference from the government because that right to liberty includes (1) the right to make decisions about family and (2) the right to bodily integrity.

However, in order to portray abortion rights as illegitimate, conservatives like to argue—inaccurately—that the Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade by inventing a right to privacy that is not grounded in the Constitution’s actual text.

In the pre-Roe contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Court did hold that “penumbras, formed by emanations” or various interpretations of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments protect a right to privacy. But in deciding Roe, the Warren court located the right to privacy in the 14th Amendment’s explicit protection of the right to liberty. Regardless, the Court’s understanding of the rights that protect reproductive freedom expanded beyond just privacy decades ago.

Privacy is barely mentioned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which established the current law governing abortion rights more than 20 years ago. “The controlling word in the cases before us is ‘liberty,’” the decision explained. It was settled law prior to Roe that liberty includes “the right to make family decisions and the right to physical autonomy.”

Privacy is also a constitutional right, and it was indeed violated by the laws at issue in Roe and its companion case,Doe v. Bolton. Those laws required a woman seeking an abortion to share her reasons for wanting the procedure with legal or medical authorities to have any hope of receiving legal abortion care. However, the law and discourse around privacy at the time of Roe implied a woman should be permitted to use contraception or end a pregnancy because the state should not interfere in decisions made in secret with the permission of her doctor, husband, father, pastor, or others. Casey instead properly recognized that the 14th Amendment protects a person’s right to control her body and destiny.

So why has the idea persisted that all we’ve got is a privacy right made up out of thin air? A counterintuitive and less textually based right serves abortion opponents, but abortion rights advocates also have a history of telling us abortion restrictions are primarily a threat to privacy. As William Saletan documented in Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the War on Abortion, in the run-up to Casey, pro-choice leaders emphasized privacy on the advice of pollsters and political consultants to appeal to anti-government, anti-welfare, anti-tax, and anti-integration sentiments. While reproductive rights lawyers argued to the Supreme Court that the Constitution’s protection of autonomy, bodily integrity, and equality protected abortion access, outside of court pro-choice leaders told the public the right at stake was privacy. But, ultimately, the Casey decision provided a much fuller discussion of why abortion is constitutionally protected by rights beyond privacy.

Abortion is protected by the due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment (which restricts the federal government) and the 14th Amendment (which was added to the Constitution to restrict the states). As Casey explained, “It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.” Using the force of law to compel a person to use her body against her will to bring a pregnancy to term is a violation of her physical autonomy and decisional freedom—which the Constitution does not allow.


7B2d881c8a-a777-42dc-8c89-37944494cFollow the link to read about the other two basic rights that include:” 2. Any pre-viability ban is unconstitutional. Period.” and “3. Casey‘s “undue burden” standard is a meaningful protection of abortion rights when courts apply it properly.”

There’s no doubt that the Texas Trap Law creates an “undue” burden.  Clinic closures have left the few remaining clinics overwhelmed.

The war on abortion access in Texas has already fundamentally shifted the landscape of women’s lives in the state. Now, the fallout continues: The closure of Planned Parenthood (PP) clinics in the state—which once served as primary sources of reproductive health care for women there—has left the few clinics remaining in west Texas underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed by demand.

According to new research, 60 percent of women receiving a low salary who were of reproductive age accessed health care through PP before the cuts and defunding which took place in 2013. The majority of those patients have since been directed to Texas Tech University and Midland County Health Services (MCHS) after PP’s clinics in west Texas closed—increasing demand at an overwhelming rate for their capacity to provide services.

“There are women [who] need these services but can’t afford them and we see as many as we can,” Michael Austin, director of MCHS, told Women’s Health Policy Report. “But the state program to help these folks along has basically evaporated. So I’m afraid there are probably a lot of folks flying under the radar who need care and aren’t getting it.” Austin pointed to the challenges of seeking funding in a state that has “eliminated or severely messed up” many of their programs which provide reproductive health care to women.

In 2011, the Texas State Assembly passed legislation which blocked funding to women’s health clinics, including Planned Parenthood, and cut the state’s family planning budget by two-thirds. Two years later, the draconian anti-abortion bill known as HB2 was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, putting in place numerous obstacles meant to shutter clinics and restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion. HB2 requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital and clinics are licensed ambulatory centers. It also bans surgical abortion after 20 weeks and medication abortion after seven. (Medication abortion is the most cost- and time-effective abortion procedure.)

HB2’s impact was immediate and drastic. 82 percent of family planning clinics closed. The number of abortion practitioners decreased by over 75 percent. Over half of the clinics performing abortion closed, which in turn drastically increased the time it would take for women to make an appointment to 28 days— essentially rendering the option of medication abortion moot. When it comes to clinics, Texas is in crisis.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the Connecticut law banning assault weapon as well as the challenge to other state laws.  Thisimages (15) leaves the bans in place.

SCOTUS will look at certain key rights of jailed inmates that have illegal immigration status.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will take up a case exploring when immigrants detained solely for immigration violations have the right to be released from jail.

The justices agreed to consider a federal appeals court decision that essentially found detained immigrants were entitled to a bond hearing after six months in custody and every six months thereafter.

The high court’s announcement comes as immigrant rights advocates are awaiting a Supreme Court decision on the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive actions granting quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of immigrants who entered or stayed in the U.S. illegally.

In that case, the Obama administration is aligned with most immigrants rights groups. However, in the case the court said Monday that it would take up, the Obama administration is pressing for fewer rights for detained immigrants. In fact, the administration is asking the justices to overturn the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found immigrants have the right to regular review of their detention.

The newly-accepted case, Jennings v. Rodriguez, could also explore when immigrants accused of ties to terrorism have to be released if authorities are having difficulty deporting them.

9beaac6d2a9b369f60b838f47dbde993SCOTUS blog has some basic information on the remaining cases in the docket.  Here’s a few of the remaining 13.

Between tomorrow morning, when the Justices will take the bench at ten o’clock, and the end of June, the Court is expected to issue thirteen rulings in cases involving everything from tribal-court jurisdiction to abortion, immigration, and the scope of federal laws prohibiting political corruption.  Here are summaries of each pending case:

Dollar General Stores v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (argued December 7, 2015).  This case stems from accusations by a thirteen-year-old member of the tribe that a manager at a Dollar General store within the tribe’s reservation had sexually molested him while the boy was interning at the store.  The child and his parents filed a lawsuit against the manager and the store in tribal court, arguing that the store was liable for the manager’s conduct.  The issue before the Court is whether the tribal court has jurisdiction over tort claims against defendants, like Dollar General, who are not members of the tribe.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (argued December 9, 2015).  This case, a challenge to the university’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process, is on its second trip to the Court.  In 2013, the Court sent the case back to the lower courts for a more critical look at whether the university really needed to consider race to achieve a diverse student body.  After the Fifth Circuit once again upheld the policy, the Court agreed to weigh in.  Unlike some of the Court’s other high-profile cases this Term, no one expects the Court to deadlock:  Justice Elena Kagan is not participating, which in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death leaves the Court with just seven Justices to decide the case.

Utah v. Strieff (argued February 22, 2016).  When a police officer stops a pedestrian in violation of the law, asks him for identification, discovers that there is a traffic warrant for his arrest, arrests him, and in the process of searching him discovers drug paraphernalia and methamphetamines, can the evidence found in the search of the pedestrian be used against him?  Edward Strieff argues that it cannot:  because the police officer’s stop was illegal, then anything obtained as a result of the stop is also tainted.  The state, on the other hand, contends that the evidence should be admitted because it resulted from the lawful warrant for his arrest, rather than the illegal stop.

Taylor v. United States (argued February 23, 2016).  The petitioner in this case, David Taylor, was part of a Virginia gang that robbed drug dealers.  The two robberies that led to this case, however, did not yield any drugs – only cellphones, jewelry, and a small amount of money.  Taylor was indicted on federal charges that he had violated the Hobbs Act, which punishes robberies and extortion but applies only when the defendant “obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce.”  The question before the Court is whether the federal government is required to prove facts to show that the defendant’s conduct actually affects commerce.

Voisine v. United States (argued February 29, 2016).  Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, the other petitioner in this case, both pleaded guilty in state court to misdemeanor assaults on their respective domestic partners. Several years later, each man was charged with violating a federal law that prohibits the possession of firearms and ammunition by individuals who have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  Voisine and Armstrong contend their state convictions do not automatically qualify as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence because the state-law provisions can be violated by conduct that is merely reckless, rather than intentional.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (argued March 2, 2016).  This is a challenge to the constitutionality of two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortion in that state.  One provision requires doctors who perform abortions to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital; the other requires abortion clinics to have facilities that are comparable to outpatient surgical centers.  Texas contends that these new laws are constitutional because they were intended to protect women’s health, while the challengers argue that the law was actually intended to close most clinics and therefore limit women’s access to abortions.

RJR Nabisco v. The European Community (argued March 21, 2016).  The issue in this case is whether and to what extent the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a 1970 law that was originally enacted to target organized crime, applies outside the United States.  The European Community filed a lawsuit in the United States, seeking to hold RJR liable for what it says is the company’s role in an international money-laundering plot that harmed European countries.  RJR counters that nothing in the law suggests that Congress intended it to apply to a situation like this.  Justice Samuel Alito is almost certainly writing the Court’s opinion in this case, because he is the only Justice who has not yet written for the Court’s March sitting; based on the oral argument, that could bode well for RJR.

United States v. Texas (argued April 18, 2016).  This case is a challenge to an Obama administration policy, announced in November 2014, that would allow some undocumented immigrants to apply to stay in the country and work legally for three years.  Before the policy could go into effect, Texas and a large group of other states went to court to block its implementation, arguing that the administration lacks the authority to issue a policy like this.  But before the Supreme Court can weigh in on that question, it will also have to agree that the states have the legal right, known as “standing,” to challenge the policy at all; the lower courts ruled that they did, because at least Texas would incur additional costs from the undocumented immigrants who would become eligible for driver’s licenses if the policy goes into effect.

Birchfield v. North Dakota (argued April 20, 2016).  Twelve states and the National Park Service impose criminal penalties on suspected drunk drivers who refuse to submit to testing to measure their blood-alcohol levels.  The question before the Court is whether those penalties violate the Fourth Amendment, which only allows police to “search” someone if they have a warrant or one of a handful of exceptions to the warrant requirement applies.  Three drivers from North Dakota and Minnesota argue that neither of those conditions is met, and so the laws must fall.

Encino Motorcars v. Navarro (argued April 20, 2016).  This case requires the Court to weigh in on the interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which generally requires employers to pay overtime to employees who work for more than forty hours in a week but also contains a variety of exceptions – including for a salesman whose primary job is selling or servicing cars.  The respondents in this case are service advisors at a car dealership, who argue that they are not included in the exemption and are therefore entitled to overtime.

You can check out the rest on the link to SCOTUS blog. So, there’s a lot of interesting things coming down the pipe.  We’ll definitely be  following a lot of them.

There’s one piece of SCOTUS gossip that you might be interested in today. Check out this lede by David Badash:  “DC Insider Report SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Thinking of Retiring Throws Twitter Into Frenzy.”

The Washington Examiner Sunday afternoon posted a piece by DC insider columnist Paul Bedard that claims uber-conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “is mulling retirement after the presidential election, according to court watchers.” Those “court watchers” of course are unnamed, so the actual source of the claim is unknown.

It could be true, it could be false, but the implications of course are tremendous. Assuming Republicans in the Senate successfully keeps their vow to not confirm any SCOTUS justice nominated by President Obama, and wait until the next president takes office, this would mean the next president would automatically nominate not one but two justices to the nation’s top court, controlling its destiny for decades.

So naturally, Clarence Thomas began trending on Twitter.

Follow the link for the Twitter Frenzy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?



h/t to Delphyne

Monday Reads

coat-hangerGood Morning!

We have an interesting SCOTUS decision/nondecision just announced on the challenge to the Affordable Health Care’s provision for Birth Control.  Basically, they sent the case back to the lower courts.  I’ve noticed a lot of women’s groups are beginning to take notice of the assault on our reproductive rights.  Remember, Hillary Clinton will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice if President Obama’s selection continues to be the victim of right wing stalling.  This coming election means women’s lives are at stake.

In a surprise move Monday, the Supreme Court punted on a major Obamacare case challenging the law’s contraceptive mandate, and specifically, how it accommodates religious nonprofits that object to birth control. The Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts to examine an alternative accommodation to the mandate that the court had been briefed on by both parties in the case after the oral arguments.

The move — which comes as the Supreme Court is down a justice with Justice Antonin Scalia’s death — allowed the court to avoid what looked like a split decision after March’s oral arguments. The Supreme Court was able to stay away from the thorny trade-offs between health care policy and religious freedom, a legal landscape that got much more complicated after the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2014’s Hobby Lobby case.

The challenge the court weighed in on Monday was Zubik v. Burwell. It was consolidation of cases brought by religious nonprofits, including The Little Sister’s of the Poor, who objected to the work-around set up by the Obama administration to provide contraceptive coverage to employees of organizations opposed to birth control on religious grounds. The non-profits said that even filling out the form or sending a government the letter declaring their objections to covering birth control was a burden on their faith, because it set in motion the process by which their employees received the coverage from their insurers, though that coverage was not paid for or part of the employer plans. Lower courts’ have overwhelmingly rejected the challengers’ argument that the workaround violated 1993’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), though one appeals court ruled in their favor. (That case was not among those consolidated for the Supreme Court).

In sending the case back down to lower courts, the Supreme Court signaled that it believed a compromise could be worked out that didn’t involve weighing the larger issues involved in the RFRA challenge.

“The Court expresses no view on the merits of the cases. In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners’ religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the Government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest,” Monday’s opinion said. The opinion also stipulated that whatever was worked out should not affect “the ability of the Government to ensure that women covered by petitioners’ health plans” have access to contraceptive coverage.

RFRA was at the heart of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2014’s Hobby Lobby case — which said that certain for-profit companies that object to birth control could use the nonprofit workaround that was on trial in Zubik.

claire no more wire hangersLyle Denniston writing for SCOTUSBLOG called it “A compromise, with real impact, on birth control”.

One reading of Monday’s developments was that the Court, now functioning with eight Justices, was having difficulty composing a majority in support of a definite decision on the legal questions.  Thus, what emerged had all of the appearance of a compromise meant to help generate majority support among the Justices.  With this approach, the Court both achieved the practical results of letting the government go forward to provide the contraceptive benefits and freeing the non-profits of any risk of penalties, even though neither side has any idea — at present — what the ultimate legal outcome will be and, therefore, what their legal rights actually are under the mandate.

Those uncertainties are now likely to linger through the remainder of President Obama’s term in office, which ends next January.  The appeals courts may well order the filing of new legal briefs, and may hold new hearings, before issuing a new round of rulings on the controversy.  However, the entire future of the ACA, including its birth-control mandate, may now depend upon who wins the presidential election this year and which party has control of Congress when it reassembles in 2017.

The two issues that the Court had agreed to rule on, and then left hanging at least for now, were whether the ACA mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring religious non-profits that object to contraceptives to notify the government of that position, and whether the move by the government to go ahead and arrange access to those benefits for those non-profits’ employees and students was the “least restrictive means” to carry out the mandate.

Doing on Monday much the same that it had done in several temporary orders at earlier stages of this controversy, the Court accepted that the non-profits already had given the federal government sufficient notice of their objection to the mandate, and that the government could use that notice as the basis for going ahead to provide actual access, at no cost, to the employees and students of those institutions.

The pictures you’re seeing are from a Friday night event where activists here in New Orleans1936210_10153730068918512_9068407566361312432_n –including me–assembled and composed Wire Hangergrams for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards who is supporting a 72 hour waiting period here in Louisiana.  We just can’t seem to keep these dirty old men out of our private parts!!! They don’t think we can make important decisions either.  This is really getting disgusting.

The Louisiana legislature on Wednesday passed a bill requiring women to wait three days before receiving an abortion, tripling the state’s existing waiting time in one of the most stringent regulations of its kind nationally.

Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill championed by anti-abortion groups. It passed with wide support from the Republican-controlled legislature.

The bill requires a woman to wait at least 72 hours after a state-mandated ultrasound for the procedure. The current waiting time is 24 hours, the same as in most states with waiting periods.

Only five other states require 72-hour waiting periods: Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah.

The measures are among a wave of laws being adopted by states as conservatives seek to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion.

I voted for the man but just couldn’t bring myself to work on his campaign even though he’d promised to not mess with things like No more wire hangersPlanned Parenthood.  You may recall I was incensed about an ad he ran.  I found the ad appalling.  He just seems to be another example of a man drenched in patriarchy who can’t keep his personal need to control the women in his life away from the rest of us.

This is another weird tale on fellow New Orleanian Wendall Pierce who actually physically assaulted a woman supporting Bernie Sanders.  Pierce has been an outspoken Clinton supporter which is fine.  This action is beyond wrong.

Wendell Pierce, the New Orleans-born actor known for his work in the HBO series “The Wire” and “Treme,” was arrested Saturday in Atlanta after he was accused of attacking a Bernie Sanders supporter,according to the website TMZ and online Fulton County police records.

Pierce was at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta about 3:30 a.m. when he began a political discussion with the woman and her boyfriend, according to the celebrity news website.

TMZ said a hotel source reported that Pierce, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, grabbed the woman’s hair and slapped her in the head after learning she preferred Clinton’s Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders.

On Sunday, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed that Pierce had been arrested at that hotel, where he was staying as a guest.

“The incident did not rise to anything significant, so no special notification was made … it was treated like any other arrest a patrol officer conducts,” police spokesman Donald Hannah told WWL-TV in an email shared with The New Orleans Advocate. “Mr. Pierce made no indication he was famous, nor did the officer inquire.”

Police records show Pierce, 52, was booked and released on Saturday. He was booked on simple battery and posted an online bond of $1,000, the records indicate.

Pierce, who now lives in Pasadena, California, was raised in Pontchartrain Park, the first African-American postwar suburb in New Orleans, and was active in efforts to rebuild it after Hurricane Katrina.

The actor and producer has been in more than 30 films and nearly 50 television shows and has performed in numerous stage productions, including Broadway productions of “The Piano Lesson,” “Serious Money” and “The Boys of Winter.”

He is perhaps best known for his roles as Detective Bunk Moreland in “The Wire,” trombonist Antoine Batiste in “Treme” and Michael Davenport in the movie “Waiting to Exhale.”

wire hanger gram boxThis primary season needs to end.  The shenanigans in Nevada have shown how little control the Sanders campaign has over its most zealous supporters.  Things are getting way out of control.

Ben Carson is beginning to leak the short list for Trump’s VP and it isn’t a pretty one.  Many folks think that it will most likely be Jan Brewer but Sarah Palin’s name is on it.  So is Chris Christie’s which is basically no surprise to me.  I really doubt either of them would bring anything to the ticket since they’re as nasty and crazy as Trump himself.  They also don’t represent any new votes.

Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate turned unfiltered pitchman for Donald Trump and now part of the presumptive nominee’s vice presidential search committee, sat in the back of a Town Car with his wife, Candy, on his way to a televised interview. He had just explained to the reporter riding along that he wanted no role in a Trump administration when news arrived of a new poll naming him as the best-liked of a list of potential running mates.

“Who else was on the list?” he asked quietly, maintaining his usual inscrutable calm. The most favorably regarded contenders after himself, he was told, were John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Chris Christie.

“Those are all people on our list,” he said.

Seriously!  Trump/Palin.  How much argle bargle could one country stand?

I’m making it short today because I have a long day so what’s on your reading and blogging list?  This is an open thread so please share!!!

Live Blog: Fourth Democratic Debate


Tonight’s debate is likely to feature some fireworks and a good exchange of ideas between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–as long as the moderators can keep Martin O’Malley from constantly breaking in with his patented line “I’ve actually already done that in Maryland.”

Mediaite has the basics on how to watch the debate. It will be available on line at the NBC News website and YouTube. It begins at nine and goes for two hours.

The back and forth between Hillary and Bernie this week has been interesting, to say the least. Hillary seems to have gotten under Bernie’s skin too, because he has now partially flip flopped on his vote to immunize gun dealers from liability, his campaign has promised to release specifics on his health car plan and how he hopes to pay for it “very soon,” and they’ve also said they’ll release a “doctor’s note” on Sanders’ health.

Just a couple of days ago the Sanders campaign announced they wouldn’t release the health care tax figures and they previously pooh poohed the need to release medical records.


I’ve thought for awhile now that Sanders has begun to believe his own reviews in the media. After reading what he said on Face The Nation this morning, I’m convinced he has allowed the failure of the media to vet him and the adulation of his supporters to go to his head.

Sanders: I have a “good chance” to win 2016 election.

“I think we have a good chance to win both those states,” he said of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests. “I think we have a good chance to win this election.”

If he does win, Sanders predicted his campaign would come to be known as “one of the great political upsets in modern history.”

He is feeling so good, in fact, that the Vermont senator told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while he was watching President Obama’s final State of the Union address last week, “the thought did cross my mind” that he could be delivering that address in the near future.

Then he caught himself.

“It’s a very humbling feeling,” he said, but added a moment later, “It’s a long way to go before we talk about inaugural speech, before we toss State of the Union speeches in.”

Hmmm…. he doesn’t sound so humble.

Bernie guns

I have a few other good links for you on Bernie.

First a diary from DailyKos (!) on the health care law that Sanders has proposed multiple times in Congress: Sanders’ Health Care Plan. The diarist simply reports the contents of Senate Bill 1782, introduced in December 2013. Please go read it.

The law would end Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. The money that was going into those programs, and use it to fund a “single payer” plan to be run and partially paid for by the states.

We already know that Supreme Court is not going to force states to accept something they don’t want from the Feds. That was their decision on the ACA Medicaid expansion. Even if Sanders could somehow get this through the Republican Congress, it would never get past SCOTUS.

I can’t even imagine what would be involved in implementing this. Right now, Medicare has low overhead costs because it turns over administration of supplemental plans to insurance companies–which would be outlawed in Sanders’ alternative universe.

I’m on Medicare and I get help paying my premiums from the government. Those premiums are more than $100 per month. Basic Medicare only pays for hospital bills, so I also have a government funded supplemental plan with very high co-pays that I get “free.” At least I can go to a doctor if it’s absolutely necessary. What would happen to people like me when all that infrastructure is demolished?

Here’s another must-read that Babama posted in a comment yesterday.


The People’s View: Chelsea Clinton was Right: Everyone’s Health Care is Threatened under Bernie’s Plan.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton got panned for saying that Bernie Sanders’ health care plan – commonly heralded as ‘Medicare for All’ by the revolution-peddlers – would give Republican governors the opportunity to dismantle publicly funded health insurance for the poor and middle class, that is, Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Seems absurd to accuse a self-proclaimed socialist with a proclaimed demand for single-payer universal health insurance of trying to take away health care. Politifact rated Chelsea Clinton’s claims ‘mostly false.’

Politifact got it wrong. Bernie Sanders’ plan does, in fact, allow for states to take away health care from the poor and middle-income, if not most everyone in a state. Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Sanders’ plan itself targets the economically disadvantaged for punishment. As Politifact notes, Sanders hasn’t proposed a full health care plan for his presidential campaign, instead choosing to use a bill Sanders introduced in the Senate in 2013 without a single cosponsor, titled ‘American Health Security Act of 2013’ as the template.

Poltiifact notes it is in fact true that Sanders’ plan repeals all health insurance funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance exchanges. But he would channel the revenue instead to fund the single-payer system! [….]

The problem is, what Sander’s bill “seeks to” do and what it actually does are quite different. Since Politifact helpfully pointed us to Sanders’ 2013 bill, I decided to read it. In short, it ends all funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP an the ACA insurance provisions, directs it to this single-payer insurance program, raises additional revenue on the back of those who can least afford it, and charges states with the job of actually running it.

Each state, in theory, would have its own program that follows basic guidelines and the vast majority of the funding (80-90%) is provided by the federal government.  Nonetheless, for states that refuse to run their own program, federal authorities – specifically, a Board – can do so instead. Sanders’ bill would also ban the sale of private health insurance.

Until I read that last night, I really didn’t understand how clueless Sanders really is. Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already, because Robert Reich is running around saying the plan makes sense.


One more Bernie link from Dean Barker at “Birch Paper.” This one has been getting retweeted a lot today. The piece takes us back to the early days of Sanders’ political career when he ran again and again for office, and always lost. Then he got smart and used guns to get into Congress.

Sanders repeatedly talks about how he lost an election because he supported a ban on assault weapons. What really happened is that Sanders did so well in a third-party run that he got Republican Peter Smith elected. After he got to Washington, Smith’s conscience bothered him and he ended up supporting a bill to ban assault weapons.

In 1990, Sanders ran for the House seat again, and defeated Smith with the help and monetary support of the NRA. So when Bernie went to Washington, he voted against the Brady bill–repeatedly.

You have to read that article! There are tons of good links in there too.

Hillary was on the morning shows today too, and she learned from George Stephanopoulos that Karl Rove’s super pac is running an ad in Iowa that supports Sanders attacks on her.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said about the ad, which goes after her ties to Wall Street. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”


CNN’s report on the morning shows: Hillary Clinton zeroes in on Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate as both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” a day after Sanders, who had been hammered by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.

She then called on her rival to do the same with the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows licensed dealers, once they have initiated a federal background check, to complete the gun sale in question if they haven’t hears back from authorities after three days.

Good news for Hillary:


Time: Poll: Hillary Clinton Leads Bernie Sanders Nationally By 25 Points.

Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in a new national poll ahead of Sunday’s final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The former Secretary of State is beating Sanders by 25 points nationally, according to according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely Democratic primary voters. Clinton is the top pick among 59% of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders has the support of 34%, the survey shows. Third-place candidate Martin O’Malley got the support of just 2% of likely voters.

Read the rest at CNN.

And From US News: Yes, Hillary’s Still the Inevitable Democratic Nominee She can recover even if she loses the first two nominating states to Bernie Sanders. Here’s why. Read about it at the link. It’s not easy find a brief excerpt to summarize the findings.

I’m putting this up a little early so we’ll have time to discuss these articles–or anything else you want to talk about–before the debate begins at 9PM. I look forward to reading your reactions to what happens tonight. This is the most important debate yet!

Sunday Reads: This stuff cures everything…even hiccups?

f4039d14e16caa1ebe3760c8ced3a5f3Good Morning




Okay, it is going to be another post brought to you by a heavy dose of vintage advertisements.

While searching for sexist and just flat out, crazy ass ads for Wednesdays post…I came across some old clinical advertisements that were aimed at doctors, specifically psychologist/psychiatric doctors.

I guess these were the prescription medications that drug companies would have advertised in medical journals? Whatever, some go back to the early 50’s. A few are earlier than that…most are from the late sixties, and seventies. I added a couple that are just “over the counter” (that is tongue in cheek  because it is more like snake oil stuff if you ask me) you will get which ones I am talking about. These are the adverts that were just too good to pass up, I had to share them with you.

5c93105b7430452e61dcb61fed32301eAs with my other threads…the end of the post will have all the images used or not, in a gallery. I hope you enjoyed them, and I found them here and there:

Vintage Advertising of Psychotherapy Drugs on Pinterest | Drugs, Psychiatry and Psychotic

Vintage Pharma & Medication Ads on Pinterest | Drugs, Medicine and Pills

I will say this, Thorazine…wtf?  They have ads for that shit…from psoriasis to bursitis, nausea to old fart’s anger issues, to anxiety and pain, the ads tell doctors to prescribe it before…during and after surgery, hell…it even cures hiccups!

This drug does everything!





3838d5ccdef9fb3c1a6e1306cf51a4f8 (1)

2a39e9a770798f456da7a387ffe020de (1)























Wow…That is some magical medication there….

I know that I took a shitload of space, but can you blame me?

It looks like they still prescribe this drug, for all I know I am on the thing now…I just don’t realize it. These drug names can get so confusing.

Anyway, on with the actual post…let us see what is going on in the world this Sunday morning/afternoon…

0fff295185f8286c8d1a5cf68f8264acStarting with world news.

It has been a violent weekend, just read these headlines:

10 Dead, 30 Injured as Blast Hits Pakistan Wool Market – NBC News

Burundi violence kills 87 people | Al Jazeera America

Burundian army official said 87 people were killed in violence after three military installations were attacked by armed men, while the discovery Saturday of dozens of bodies which appeared to have been victims of possible retaliatory, close-range executions added further to the severity of the crisis facing the war-torn African country.

Army spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza said Saturday eight security officers were among those killed and 21 others wounded in the fighting. Baratuza said government forces arrested 45 members of the unidentified group that attacked the military installations.

c82beedc36dc3c2c2571d50eef72d590On Saturday, Burundi’s political violence escalated further with dozens of people found shot dead in the capital, Bujumbura. Residents said that security forces searched houses, dragged out some people and shot them, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

“The bodies of dozens of civilians were on the street — most of them young men — many appear to have been shot at close range,” reported Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, who spoke to eyewitnesses in Bujumbura. “Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday’s attacks on the military.”

Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said there were “no collateral victims” during Friday’s clashes. “All the deaths were attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police,” Nkurikiye said. “The enemy was neutralized.”

bb19bac1da2fbf1265843af09be91b1aThe US is urging its citizens to leave the country…Bodies on the streets as violence rocks Burundi – Al Jazeera English

The US government has asked its citizens to leave Burundi as soon as possible after 87 people were found dead in the capital Bujumbura on Saturday, in an escalation of violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s disputed third term.

The State Department said on Sunday that it has ordered the departure of non-emergency U. government personnel and dependents of US government employees from Burundi due to continuing violence.

The State Department’s travel warning also said that the US Embassy can only offer limited emergency services to US citizens in Burundi.

b1ea948f495fbc45b71a072050f09855Friday’s violence was caused by attacks on three army installations, Burundian officials said on Saturday.

And while I was grabbing the quote for this link above…at the Al Jazzera English website, I saw this news alert flash by:


Russian warship fires warning shots at a Turkish vessel…

Unresponsive ship came within 600 metres of Russian destroyer before it opened fire with small arms: defence ministry.

7fda9ca056642e9c66c41a71c5e8e456Russian warship fires warning shots near Turkish vessel – Al Jazeera English

Russia’s defence ministry says one of its warships fired warning shots at a Turkish vessel in Aegean Sea on Sunday to avoid a collision.

A ministry statement says the destroyer Smetlivy was unable to establish radio contact with the approaching Turkish ship, which also failed to respond to visual signals and flares.

When the vessel was 600 metres away, the destroyer fired with small arms and the Turkish vessel quickly changed course.

9574d8e6a1852cc1f20b7871457b0cfdTurkey’s military attache in Moscow has been summoned by the defence ministry over the incident.

Tensions between Moscow and Ankara have been heightened since a Turkish jet downed a Russian bomber along the Syrian border last month, killing the pilot.

I will have more on this news as it happens….

Continuing with the morning post:

Pope: Don’t Let Sadness Win in These Fearful Times – The New York Times

91f6581383f57c1fbe0c5ee3b603e928Pope Francis called on humanity Sunday not to let sadness prevail because of the many forms of violence afflicting the world.

Francis cited no specific violent event in his homily in a Rome basilica, St. John in Lateran. But he said: “We can’t let ourselves be overcome by weariness. No form of sadness is allowed, even if we would have reason to, because of the many worries and multiple forms of violence which wound our humanity.”

Some promising news, if only just a start….First women elected to Saudi local councils | Reuters

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that at least two women were elected to public office in the conservative Islamic kingdom after winning seats on municipal councils in Mecca and al-Jawf in Saturday’s election.

8d96f6d00084e9f16c9471249554f419 (1)The preliminary results were announced by local districts and published on the official Saudi Press Agency.

The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.

However, the election was for only two thirds of seats in municipal councils that have no lawmaking or national powers, and follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011.

1c53432587871e06e59de2c5d941396a (1)Well, now turning to US news, in this round up…some graphic video.

Suspect tried crawling away from 2 Calif. cops who shot him – NY Daily News

Lynwood shooting: Video appears to show LA police firing at wounded suspect as he crawls away | Americas | News | The Independent
A video has emerged purporting to show the moment two Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a suspect as he tried to crawl away.

Police officials have confirmed the incident took place shortly before midday on Saturday in the Lynwood suburb of the Californian city.

7d34cf837df10e8722725d15df837a03 (1)A brief statement from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the man, who has been named in local media reports as 28-year-old father-of-three Nicholas Robertson, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Eddie Hernandez told KTLA-5deputies responded to a number of calls reporting a person, described as a black man wearing a checkered shirt, carrying a gun.

Take it from there…

In Tennessee, a woman who was so desperate…Woman Charged With Attempted Murder in Failed Abortion – ABC News

A Tennessee woman is charged with attempted first-degree murder for what investigators say was a failed abortion attempt.

4444ee3824deeaf5027d1340de0f832d (1)The Daily News Journal reports ( ) Anna Yocca, of Murfreesboro, about 33 miles southeast of Nashville, was arrested on Wednesday. She is jailed on a $200,000 bond.

According to a Murfreesboro Police Department report, in September Yocca, 31, filled a bathtub with water and attempted to self-abort with a coat hanger. She began bleeding and became worried about her safety.

Her boyfriend took her to the hospital where doctors delivered a 24-week-old baby weighing just 1.5 pounds. Doctors told investigators the child will need medical support for the rest of his life because of the injuries he sustained.

Yocca is due in court Dec. 21. Jail officials did not know whether she has an attorney.

ffd4d29be4465ac6abe8d575a756f011 (1)Injuries he sustained, or because it was delivered so early?

I don’t know, and I am sure we will hear more about this as the case proceeds. Can you imagine the mental state of this woman? Self abort with a coat hanger in a bathtub?

More Hate, yes with a capital H:

Man arrested on hate crime and arson charges in fire at Coachella Valley mosque – LA Times

A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime and arson related to a fire Friday afternoon at a Coachella Valley mosque.

Carl Dial was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday and booked on five felony charges, including 2d02e5e5617c7ce9c9ba39b5faa8d515 (1)commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and second-degree burglary, according to law enforcement sources and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department booking records.

The fire at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque is one of several incidents over the past week that officials are investigating as possible backlashes from the San Bernardino terrorist shootings. Authorities believe the shooters were self-radicalized Islamic extremists.

And just where does this man come from?

Check out the dudes parents:

Parents of Accused Mosque Arsonist Carl Dial Describe Him as Loner – NBC News

Parents of Accused Mosque Arsonist Carl Dial Describe Him as Loner NBC News


They look like a poster promo for a Fox News special report, “War on Christmas” as a featured special guest…”Next up, we interviewed Mr and Mrs Dial, both loyal Fox News Viewers, for their opinion on the left’s abomination…taking Christ out of Christmas.”

50a3a4857beb8adee4dbfb808ca25193 (1)Video at the link….

I am giving you a link to Joe Cannon: Cannonfire– Why did Uncle spy on Johnetta instead of Tashfeen?

He is asking some legitimate questions, even if he puts it in a patronizing way…(regarding the “lady terrorist” comments.) But I may be a bit oversensitive…I don’t know. All other points are well made.

Sticking with the ISIL or terrorism issues for a little longer:

What Islamophobia and ISIL/ Daesh have in Common: The Political Use of Fear By Ian Buruma | (Project Syndicate) | Informed Comment

Hullabaloo-Emptywheel on cancer and malaise

by digby

Marcy Wheeler, usually known for her dissection of dense bureaucratic documents and finding the real meaning behind them wrote a polemic today. And it’s really good

Here is the post Digby is talking about:

1956cff0fcf7d4cc3907f67470bf4dcdObama’s Terrorism Cancer Speech, Carter’s Malaise Speech | emptywheel

The right wingers who insist on calling any attack by a Muslim “terrorism” — who insist on tying the San Bernardino attack to ISIS, even in the absence of evidence — do it to prioritize the fight against Islamic terrorists over all the other ills facing America: over other gun violence, over climate change, over the persistent economic struggles of most Americans. Theirs is a profoundly unpatriotic effort to put war over every other policy priority, even far more pressing ones. That stance has led to a disinvestment in America, with real consequences for everyone not getting rich off of arms sales.

c66d6f52b137b08100bbc68e92dab392Last week, President Obama capitulated to these forces, giving a speechdesigned to give the attack in San Bernardino precedence over all the other mass killings of late, to give its 14 dead victims more importance over all the other dead victims. Most strikingly, Obama called attacks that aren’t, legally, terrorism, something his critics have long been demanding.

Take those two links for what it is worth. I thought it was a good speech. I thought what Obama said about some things,

Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. f00ae3a7e24d514fcd73bdab11540757 (1)Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

8e17e7c6f549fba56bd7ae45c0936a15 (1)But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.

(Quoted from President Obama’s speech after the San Bernadino Mass Shooting.)

6ebe7bc2b1b782485243d16801bfaec5Another terrorist link for you…in more ways than you think: Gun Linked to Paris Attacks Traced Back to Florida Arms Dealer Implicated in Iran-Contra Scandal | Alternet

Century Arms buys and sells military-grade surplus guns and is one of the largest arms dealers in the U.S.

A gun linked to last month’s Paris mass shootings has been traced back to a Florida arms dealer.

The serial number for a M92 semi-automatic pistol linked to the deadly Nov. 13 terrorist attacks matched one for a weapon delivered by the Zastava arms factory in May 2013 to Century International Arms in Delray Beach, reported the Palm Beach Post.

Michael Sucher, the owner of Century Arms, did not answer calls seeking comment Thursday and the doors to his shop were closed as TV news crews gathered outside.

Employees leaving the arms dealer’s building did not comment on the case, and a woman who works next door said she had no idea the business dealt guns.

7b05a74ede39d33ee9d8b30ac8cac4f9Century Arms buys and sells military-grade surplus guns — with a specialty in buying weapons from overseas and reselling them to dealers — and is one of the largest arms dealers in the U.S.

The company also holds a federal firearms license in Georgia, Vermont, to import and build guns and to import destructive devices such as large-caliber guns and armor-piercing ammunition.

Documents shared by WikiLeaks in 2011 showed Century Arms had illegally traded firearms with the help of “unauthorized brokers.”

The Center for Public Integrity reported that same year that WASR-10 rifles manufactured for Century Arms in Romania had become a favorite of Mexican drug cartels.

d96e51b2b724d22d6cecd6e8b4021e3bJohn Rugg, a former police officer and longtime Century Arms employee, testified before a U.S. Senate committee in 1987 that the company had supplied rockets, grenades and other weapons to Nicaraguan rebels as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.

The export of firearms is heavily regulated, and weapons experts suggested the weapon may have been illegally transferred.

Century Arms sells to individuals or other businesses with a federal firearms license, and its website directs most retail traffic to a network of dealers.

But there are no restrictions on who can obtain those licenses.

415248952c13d7c268fbf6085de304c1Read the rest at the link and remember, every Republican in the Senate, save for one…voted against regulating guns from people on the No-Fly list…Republicans Reject Proposals To Bar People On No-Fly List From Buying Guns : NPR

Enough, now on to other news, election news.

Karl Rove: Donald Trump Would Get ‘Creamed’ Up Against Hillary Clinton

Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid – The New York Times

Barbara Schierenbeck, a 59-year-old nurse in Brooklyn, is swept up in the excitement of potentially electing Hillary Clinton the first female president. She cannot understand why her 19-year-old daughter, Anna, does not feel the same way.

ec5289a720ac54f3b292090cc10fb138“Fifteen or 20 years ago, no one would even think about a woman being president,” Mrs. Schierenbeck said. “Certainly, when I was 20 years old in the 1970s, I don’t think I would even have thought about it.”

But for her daughter, electing a woman, while a nice idea, is not a motivating factor. “I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight for me,” Anna Schierenbeck said. A woman will be elected president “pretty soon” anyway, she said, regardless of what happens in 2016. Why does that woman have to be Mrs. Clinton?

The mother-daughter debate unfolding in the Schierenbeck household reflects a debate taking place across the country, as women of varying ages and backgrounds confront the potential milestone implicit in Mrs. Clinton’s bid very differently. As her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy — or not.

Fucking New York Times.

Cruzing To Des Moines – Lawyers, Guns & Money


Gawd, that is horrifying enough…fucking hell!

5194f11aa7766cd5087c9a95888e2b8eBalkinization: Ted Cruz’s Supreme Court Memos
I told y’all about the connection with Trump, Facebook Friends, and my suspected Banjoville KKK enthusiast?  Take a look at this: Georgia poll finds wide GOP support for Donald Trump and his Muslim ban | Political Insider blog

Cruz opens up 10-point lead on Trump in Iowa –

Meanwhile, as I write this, the breaking news on CNN:

Trump Defends Muslim Ban Proposal State of the Union with Jake Tapper

40738a67da5a418120350a14b51956a3What a difference between that news coverage and the Al Jazeera English? Innit?

Iowa caucus: Cruz leads Trump in Republican opinion poll – BBC News

We will end the Cruz and Trump shit with a tweet from Cher:

Cher and Her Friend Ted Cruz, ‘Satan Incarnate,’ Have a Really Nice Rapport




Looks like the asshole Cruz people aka Cruz supporters have done there job to threaten Cher, yup…death threats. Fuck them all…damn I hate these dickwads.

f24986aa673e8865c354ff04b248d088It is getting late, and this post is getting long.

Demographics of the New Gilded Age – Lawyers, Guns & Money

The Institute for Policy Studies has a new report on income inequality:

America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet –­ now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.

The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population ­– plus more than a third of the Latino population ­– combined.

594e0e01c2854cd8b8933da7f453915cThe wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States. Among the Forbes 400, just 2 individuals are African American –­ Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.

The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population. Just five members of the Forbes 400 are Latino including Jorge Perez, Arturo Moreno, and three members of the Santo Domingo family.

With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.

The median American family has a net worth of $81,000. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these typical American families. That’s as many households in the United States that own cats.

5cefc43965e7b0746bf89f9c7764bfb2Some thoughts on the Paris Climate Change agreement:

Can Historic climate agreement protect the world’s most vulnerable people? | Informed Comment

After the COP21 Paris Climate Accord, what we need is an Int’l Climate Court | Informed Comment

Key Points of the Landmark Paris Climate Agreement | Al Jazeera America

Hillary Clinton’s Statement on the Paris Agreement | Still4Hill

In other Environmental news:

7b1b774f7e025cf91c61eb3d10af3276The House Just Voted to Ban Those Tiny Pieces of Plastic in Your Toothpaste | Mother Jones

Water injected underground in OK causing ‘quakes | Al Jazeera America

Oklahoma State University prof. says regulatory choices made decades ago set state up to experience daily earthquakes

U.S. sales of antibiotics for food animals rose over six years: FDA | Reuters

U.S. sales of medically important antibiotics approved for use in livestock rose by 23 percent between 2009 and 2014, federal regulators said on Thursday, fueling concerns about risks to humans from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

e0ae7b62e650e2ce1055f97a17e43643Last year, domestic sales and distribution of such drugs increased by 3 percent, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Public health advocates, along with some lawmakers and scientists, have criticized the long-standing practice of using antibiotics in livestock, arguing that it is fueling the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Agribusinesses defend the practice as necessary to help keep cattle, pigs and chickens healthy and to increase production of meat for U.S. consumers.

0131c2a68349c831c07796fa92baed36“Dangerous overuse of antibiotics by the agricultural industry has been on the rise at an alarming rate in recent years, putting the effectiveness of our life-saving drugs in jeopardy for people when they get sick,” said Avinash Kar, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And before we get to the last few links, a bit of crazy…the crazy ass bat shit kind of crazy…

Did Alleged Abusive Baby-Hoarding Kansas Councilman Steal A Child From Lesbians? Probably | Wonkette

Remember Topeka Councilman Jonathan Schumm, and his sad wife, Allison, and how 9b36105e279258a48fcc3b526471e9c4they were IN JAIL for felony child abuse of at least one of their 16 children? Thanks to excellent reporting by Buzzfeed, we have two new gross pieces of information: what exactly they did to one of their kids (ALLEGEDLY), and how they stole a baby from a lesbian couple, because Kansas.

These Cliven Bundy Impersonators Took Millions in Government Handouts

the annals of freeloading deadbeats.

In June, ranchers in Battle Mountain, Nevada, drove their cattle onto public lands in defiance of orders by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stay off areas affected by the ongoing drought. The ranchers claimed there was no drought and so their animals should be allowed to graze on the land. But at least two ranching families involved in the protest received $2.2 million from a federal drought disaster relief program, according to Reveal. The leader of the protest, Dan Filippini, got $338,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock 29bdc98bcca14f07d0fb7cc394f25a5cForage Disaster Program (pdf) last year. His family received another $750,000 via a trust and corporation. Filippini took the payments despite his lawyer claiming in 2014 that “no drought exists” on the Battle Mountain range.

There are some good words there from Charlie about the whole Scalia thing from earlier in the week too…check it out.<

Gun Nuts Chicken Out After Planning Mock Shooting Near College (VIDEO) «



We Had Faces Then — Greta Garbo in publicity photos for Camille…



Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stephen Colbert Perform Potential Follow-up to Hamilton | The Mary Sue

Go watch that video, it is rather cute!














And lastly…another video, a big Happy Birthday to Blue Eyes:

Sinatra’s Hometown Celebrates His 100th Birthday

Before Frank Sinatra became a global household name, he was a local boy from a small town across the river from Manhattan. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, his native Hoboken, New Jersey, has him on proud display. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports.

Sinatra 100

​Frank Sinatra at 100 – CBS News

Tony Bennett honors Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday – CBS News




May you all live to be 100 years old and may the last voice you hear be mine!



Enjoy…That’s life.  BTW, think of this as an open thread.




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Thursday Reads: I Don’t Belong in This World


Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin today. Following the news these days is like going through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

So often in my life I’ve felt that I don’t belong in this world. I have that feeling today. There are so many people and events that I just don’t understand.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in an important case about affirmative action. Yesterday in a comment, Dakinikat posted this article from Mother Jones: Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at “Slower” Colleges.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race. The other 25 percent are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher—who was denied admission for the university in 2008—is challenging.

The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former US Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Scalia jumped in, questioning whether increasing the number of African Americans at the flagship university in Austin was in the black students’ best interests. He said:

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. 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. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”


This morning some writers are claiming that Scalia’s comments weren’t racist because he was referring to studies by respected researchers and not expressing his personal opinion.

Alex Griswold at Mediaite: Media Jumps The Gun, Attacks Scalia For Perfectly Reasonable Question.

First of all, it’s worth noting that oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand; it’s an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties. To that end, justices often advance arguments and theories they do not necessarily hold….

As it happens, Scalia was pretty accuratelyciting a brief filed by two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. They point to a study showing that black scientists are much more likely to have graduated from historically black colleges, even though those schools are less academically stringent than elite universities:

With only twenty percent of total black enrollment, these schools were producing forty percent of the black students graduating with natural science degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Those same students were frequently going on to earn Ph.D.s from non-HBCUs. The National Science Foundation reported, for example, that thirty-six percent of the blacks who earned an engineering doctorate between 1986 and 1988 received their undergraduate degree from an HBCU.

Why have HBCUs been so successful? [The authors] believed that unlike at mainstream institutions, African-American students at HBCUs were not grouped at the bottom of the class. Roughly half were in the top half of the class.

Scalia isn’t citing some crackpot theory that only these two civil rights officers are worried about, by the way. The“mismatch effect” is a pretty common critique of affirmative action in academia that’s based on pretty hard data. The most prominent book on the subject wasn’t written by cranks, it was written by UCLA and Stanford law professors.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

OK, but Scalia did express a personal opinion at the end of his remarks. Furthermore, these studies apparently do not address the issue of whether diversity in the student bodies and faculty at “elite” universities is a good thing for the college experience and for society as a whole.

James Warren also defended Scalia’s remarks at Poynter: Media muddle: Was Scalia being racist?

And then there’s the question of why so many Americans love their guns more than life itself–or at least the lives of their children and fellow citizens. Many of these people are the same ones who are constantly claiming they are “pro-life.” Someone please explain to me why this makes any sense.

The Christian Science Monitor: Why are gun rights activists planning a fake mass shooting?

Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.

Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.

The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials.

Sorry, but I have no clue how this exercise could relate to an actual mass shooting event.


And what about the phenomenon of Donald Trump? Why does he think it’s useful to fan the flames of racism, nativism, and Islamophobia and in the process increasing the visibility of hate groups and encouraging violent attacks on minority groups in the U.S.?

Politico: White supremacist groups see Trump bump.

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump’s rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Are Trump’s statements actually likely to energize hateful individuals to resort to violence?

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call on Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Trump’s proposal this week to halt the entrance of Muslims into the United States is only the latest statement to inject vigor into the racist fringe of American politics. “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized,” she said.

Check out this piece by Steve Benen: Trump spokesperson: ‘So what? They’re Muslim.’

Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, argued this morning on CNN that her boss’ proposed Muslim ban has merit because “never in United States history have we allowed insurgents to come across these borders.” Reminded that Trump’s policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence, the spokesperson was unmoved.
“So what?” Pierson replied. “They’re Muslim.”
How are voters responding to Trump’s hate speech against Muslims?
As for public opinion, it’s too soon to gauge polling reactions, but we already have a sense of Republican voters’ general attitudes on the subject.
Public Policy Polling published results yesterday on GOP voters’ attitudes in North Carolina. Among the findings:
* 48% of North Carolina Republicans endorse the idea of a national database of Muslims.
* 42% of North Carolina Republicans believed thousands of Middle Easterners cheered in New Jersey on 9/11.
* 35% of North Carolina Republicans support shutting down American mosques.
* 32% of North Carolina Republicans believe practicing Islam in the United States should be illegal.


We are certainly seeing plenty of attacks on Muslims around the country. On Tuesday I posted a story about someone leaving a pig’s head at a mosque in Philadelphia. Today, I saw this on Raw Story: Texans begin nightly smashing windows of Muslim family only six weeks after they move in.

A Muslim family in Plano, Texas fear that they may have been targeted with a hate crime after rocks smashed through their windows at least two times in the last week.

The family told KTVT that they moved to Plano six weeks ago, and that they believe that the people throwing the rocks may be sending a message about their religion.

Windows in the home have been smashed twice in the last two days. At their request, the names of the family members were not being released.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Alia Salem explained to KTVT that there had been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent weeks.

“Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” Salem said.

Why? This is not the America I want to live in. I’d rather escape into a book, but somehow I feel compelled to stay aware of what is happening.

What stories are you following today?

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?