Tuesday Reads: SCOTUS and the Upcoming ElectionPosted: October 27, 2020 Filed under: 2020 Elections, Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Amy Coney Barrett, Bush v. Gore, Donald Trump, SCOTUS, U.S. Supreme Court 14 Comments
Election day is one week away. I haven’t slept normally since the pandemic began, and–along with millions of other Americans–I’ve been stressed out since Trump was elected. It’s exhausting. I honestly don’t think I can survive another four years of this insanity. The polls are looking good for Biden; but as of yesterday we now have to worry about the possibility that the Supreme Court could overturn the election results if Trump loses.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: Amy Coney Barrett’s First Votes Could Throw the Election to Trump.
Although George W. Bush prevailed in the Bush v. Gore decision, it’s often forgotten that the Supreme Court declined to affirm his chief legal argument. This claim was so radical, so contrary to basic principles of democracy and federalism, that two conservative justices stepped back from the brink. Instead, the majority fabricated a novel theory to hand Bush the election—then instructed lower courts never to rely on it again.
But the court has changed. Republican lawmakers revived the original Bush v. Gore argument in fraught election cases this year, and, following Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, four sitting justices appeared to endorse it. Barrett’s confirmation on Monday will almost certainly tip the balance to make that argument the law of the land on the eve of an election. The result would be an immediate invalidation of thousands of disproportionately Democratic ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina—two swing states that could decide the outcome of the election. Put simply, Barrett’s first actions on the court could hand Donald Trump an unearned second term, and dramatically curtail states’ ability to protect the right to vote….
In an unsigned opinion that allegedly spoke for the five conservative justices, the court held that Florida’s recount used procedures that violated “the equal dignity owed to each voter.” Because the standards used to recount ballots varied between counties, the court concluded, the process violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. Then, in an unprecedented move, the court declared that this analysis was a ticket good for one ride only, and that lower courts should never invoke its made-up principle again.
The reason the Court said this argument shouldn’t be used again is that is took away a state’s ability to control it’s own elections. If repeated, the argument would turn the SCOTUS into a national arbiter of election laws.
It is black letter law that state courts hold ultimate authority to determine the meaning of their own state’s statutes and constitution. And the Florida Supreme Court had simply provided its best interpretation of a “legal vote” under Florida law. Secretary of State Katherine Harris rejected ballots with “hanging chads” on which voters had indicated their preference but failed to punch through the hole all the way. The Florida Supreme Court disagreed, citing a state statute that required the counting of defective ballots “if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter.” Federal judges had a constitutional obligation to accept that (eminently plausible) reading of the law. By refusing to do so, Rehnquist, along with Scalia and Thomas, impermissibly substituted the Florida Supreme Court’s judgment with their own.
But now Republicans are again trying to get the Court to rule on individual states’ election policies, and yesterday they intervened in Wisconsin’s election decisions. The New York Times: Supreme Court Won’t Extend Wisconsin’s Deadline for Mailed Ballots.
The Supreme Court refused on Monday to revive a trial court ruling that would have extended Wisconsin’s deadline for receiving absentee ballots to six days after the election.
The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative justices in the majority. As is typical, the court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons. But several justices filed concurring and dissenting opinions that spanned 35 pages and revealed a stark divide in their understanding of the role of the courts in protecting the right to vote during a pandemic.
The ruling was considered a victory for Republicans in a crucial swing state, which polls have shown Mr. Trump trailing in after winning by about 23,000 votes in 2016.
Returning to the Slate article:
By confirming Barrett on Monday, Senate Republicans may well create a five-justice majority that is ready, willing, and able to make Rehnquist’s position the law of the land. There are currently two cases pending before SCOTUS that ask the justices to nullify thousands of mail ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Both rest on Rehnquist’s Bush v. Gore concurrence. Both give the far-right majority a chance to stomp on states’ ability to protect voting rights.
I urge you to go read the whole piece at Slate. Right now, Massachusetts rules allow votes to be counted if they arrive 6 days after the election and are postmarked by November 3. Will the SCOTUS decision in Wisconsin also force Massachusetts and other states to throw out ballots received after election day?
Ian Millhiser at Vox: The radical implications of the Supreme Court’s new ruling on Wisconsin mail-in ballots.
The Supreme Court just handed down an order in Democratic National Committee v. Wisconsin State Legislaturedetermining that a lower federal court should not have extended the deadline for Wisconsin voters to cast ballots by mail.
The ruling, which was decided by a 5-3 vote along party lines, is not especially surprising. The lower court determined that an extension was necessary to ensure that voters could cast their ballot during a pandemic, but the Court has repeatedly emphasized that federal courts should defer to state officials’ decisions about how to adapt to the pandemic. Monday night’s order in Democratic National Committee is consistent with those prior decisions urging deference.
What is surprising, however, is two concurring opinions by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, each of which takes aim at one of the most foundational principles of American constitutional law: the rule that the Supreme Court of the United States has the final word on questions of federal law but the highest court in each state has the final word on questions of state law.
This division of power is implicit in our very system of government. As the Supreme Court has explained, the states and the federal government coexist in a system of “dual sovereignty.” Both the federal government and the states have an independent power to make their own law, to enforce it, and to decide how their own law shall apply to individual cases.
If the Supreme Court of the United States had the power to overrule a state supreme court on a question of state law, this entire system of dual sovereignty would break down. It would mean that all state law would ultimately be subservient to the will of nine federal judges.
With Barrett on the Court,
last week’s decision allowing a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to stand could be very short-lived. That decision, after all, was 4-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the Court’s three liberals. With Barrett, the Court’s right flank may well be getting a fifth vote to toss out the state supreme court’s decision — and to order an unknown number of ballots tossed out in the process.
In her first few weeks at SCOTUS, Barrett will also have the opportunity to vote on cases involving the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s taxes, abortion, and a case about whether a Catholic agency can refuse to place foster children with LGBT couples.
The only recourse for Democrats in the future may be to increase the size of the Supreme Court–if they can take the Senate, that is.
At The Los Angeles Times, Nicholas Goldberg sees a possible silver lining in the Barrett confirmation:
So now it is official: The same Republican senators who in 2016 refused to consider Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court because, with eight months to go, it was supposedly too close to the presidential election, have now confirmed Amy Coney Barrett with just eight days left before the election.
This is so unprincipled, so inconsistent and so cynical that it defies the imagination. It is the flip-flop of the century, undertaken by the Republicans for one reason: Barrett’s confirmation ensures a conservative majority on the high court for the foreseeable future.
But here is one good thing that could come of this shameful episode. With millions of people still casting their votes before Nov. 3, perhaps the Barrett confirmation will open Americans’ eyes, once and for all, and show them who they’re dealing with. Perhaps it will persuade them to reject the radical and hypocritical Senate Republicans at the polls.
Barrett’s confirmation, after all, is only one of many irresponsible moves by the Senate majority, led by the craven Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who long ago threw his lot in with President Trump. In recent years, he and his caucus have grown not just more extreme in their ideology but more unscrupulous in their tactics.
Not only did they refuse a hearing to Garland (giving that seat instead to Trump appointee Neil M. Gorsuch), but not long after, McConnell and his colleagues rammed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination through without a comprehensive investigation of the sexual assault allegations against him.
Maybe. It seems unlikely that many votes are going to change at this late date, but I hope Goldberg is right. On the other hand, it’s possible the evidence that the pandemic is getting worse might influence some voters to reject Trump and other Republicans.
One more from The New York Times Editorial Board: The Republican Party’s Supreme Court. The quest to entrench political conservatism in the country’s highest court comes with a steep cost.
What happened in the Senate chamber on Monday evening was, on its face, the playing out of a normal, well-established process of the American constitutional order: the confirmation of a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
But Senate Republicans, who represent a minority of the American people, are straining the legitimacy of the court by installing a deeply conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, to a lifetime seat just days before an election that polls suggest could deal their party a major defeat.
As with President Trump’s two earlier nominees to the court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the details of Judge Barrett’s jurisprudence were less important than the fact that she had been anointed by the conservative activists at the Federalist Society. Along with hundreds of new lower-court judges installed in vacancies that Republicans refused to fill when Barack Obama was president, these three Supreme Court choices were part of the project to turn the courts from a counter-majoritarian shield that protects the rights of minorities to an anti-democratic sword to wield against popular progressive legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
The process also smacked of unseemly hypocrisy. Republicans raced to install Judge Barrett barely one week before a national election, in defiance of a principle they loudly insisted upon four years ago.
I hope you’ll read the whole thing, but here’s a bit more:
Of all the threats posed by the Roberts Court, its open scorn for voting rights may be the biggest. In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the lead opinion in the most destructive anti-voter case in decades, Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the central provision of the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to rampant voter suppression, most of it targeted at Democratic voters. Yet this month, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the court’s remaining three liberals to allow a fuller count of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. The four other conservatives voted against that count. In other words, with Justice Barrett’s confirmation the court now has five justices who are more conservative on voting rights than the man who nearly obliterated the Voting Rights Act less than a decade ago.
I hope I haven’t ruined your day with this post, but the Barrett confirmation is clearly the most important issue of the day. I can only hope that the outcome of next week’s election will be a landslide that prevents SCOTUS from overturning the results.
Please take care today and protect your health and sanity over the next week. I hope you’ll stop by and leave a comment or two.
Oh yeah…Wednesday Morning ReadsPosted: May 1, 2013 Filed under: A My Pet Goat Moment, campaign financing, Congress, court rulings, Cuba, Domestic terrorism, Elections, George W. Bush, GLBT Rights, morning reads, SCOTUS, Senate, Sequester, the GOP | Tags: Bush v. Gore, Gov. Bob McDonnell, Hurricane Sandy, James Everett Dutschke, Larry David, Mariela Castro, Mark Sanford, Rocky The Musical, Sandra Day O'Connor, Sgt John Hartley Robertson 53 Comments
Wow, I completely forgot it was my turn up at bat. This morning’s post will be mainly links that I have saved up over the last few days. Being sick does have its advantages, you get to bypass all the horrible news stories…and only read about them if you want to catch up. Let’s just say, I didn’t want to catch up and leave it at that.
So here we go…
Sandra Day O’Connor expresses regret about court’s role in 2000 election
No kidding? What do you think brought about this reflective change of feelings from the former Justice? I wonder if it was all that press Dubya got recently from the grand opening of his Presidential Library and Museum to Idiotic Decisions. Anyway, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, O’Connor had this to say about Bush v. Gore:
Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken the case.
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ ”
The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”
“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
Ya don’t say? Too little, too late if you ask me.
Well, from one load of shit to another load of shit. However, this load of shit was dumped by a Sandy…not a Sandra. Hurricane Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into East Coast waterways
Hurricane Sandy dumped about 11bn gallons of raw and untreated sewage into waterways from Washington DC to Connecticut, the science journalism group Climate Central said on Tuesday. That’s or enough human waste to cover New York’s Central Park in 41ft of sewage, or fill 17,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, scientists told a conference call with reporters.
Damn, that is a whole lotta crap.
Hmmm, speaking of which: Rocky Musical Trailer | Geekosystem
…draw a Venn diagram between fans of Broadway musicals and fans of the Rocky franchise, I would just draw two circles that were very far away from each other. Sylvester Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA seem to disagree with my assessment, and they’re betting there’s enough of an overlap for their new musical Rocky to be a success. Whether you think a musical version of Rocky is a great idea or a terrible one, the new trailer for the production will probably confirm your opinion. There’s not enough in the video to really indicate whether this will be a good musical version of Rocky or a bad musical version of Rocky, but it sure shows that there’s a musical version of Rocky happening.
Uhhhh…..were you even able to get through that trailer? ( I couldn’t. ) It seems to me that this production of Rocky is what Bialystock and Bloom should have produced as a sure fire flop…instead of Springtime for Hitler.
Damn that is crap.
Alright, sorry there. That is awful. Looks like Gitmo is not the only place where America is practicing torture these days.
Did you see the campaign donor “mess” in Virgina?/snark. I like the title of this Atlantic article, it is a take on a real damn good Helen Mirren movie: The Governor, His Wife, Their Cook, and the FBI – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire
The FBI is now investigating whether or not Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell violated any laws when he allowed a campaign donor to pay for catering at his daughter’s wedding. That is perhaps the least weird part of the story.
The crux of the issue is whether or not McDonnell violated the law by allowing Star Scientific, a company run by Jonnie Williams, to pick up the $15,000 food and floral tab for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding in 2011. The governor explains his failure to report the spending on his finance reports by insisting that the donation was a gift to his daughter. Under Virginia law, only gifts received by officeholders need to be reported. Earlier this month, the Washington Post walked through the evidence for and against that claim. The daughter paid for other parts of the wedding, for example, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. But McDonnell’s guidance is literally written all over the agreement between the caterer and the family, which the governor signed.
Read more about the twist and turns at the Atlantic link above or here at this Washington Post link: AP sources: FBI looks into relationship between Va. governor, campaign donor – The Washington Post
All these sordid stories lately, a sleaze-ball porn king backs a sleaze-ball former governor currently running for the US senate, innocent Elvis impersonators, and ricin laced dojos of mensa wannabe martial arts instructors. Not to mention…My Son, the Terrorist.
Then you have Congress, or as Jon Stewart calls them:
“Do-Nothing F@#ktards who couldn’t solve a problem if it was eating them alive anus first.”
Video at the link!
Wow…that is something innit?
But there have been some extraordinary news items that you may have missed.
**Post updated @8:00am below!**
Sgt John Hartley Robertson, US army veteran, ‘found living in remote Vietnam village 44 years after being shot down and presumed dead’
A US army veteran has been found living in a remote Vietnam village 44 years since his plane was shot down and presumed dead, a new documentary suggests.
Unclaimed, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Michael Jorgenson, claims that a frail, elderly man, found in a remote south Vietnam village unable to remember the English language, his date of birth or even the names of his wife and two children, may be Sgt John Hartley Robertson – a former Green Beret shot down in 1968.
Sgt Robertson was working on a special operation over the South East Asian country of Laos when his helicopter was shot down. Despite his body never being found, he was presumed dead for nearly half a century; his name etched on Vietnam memorials and army records listing him as “killed in action”.
Despite this, Sgt Robertson’s family believed it was possible he survived the crash and claimed to have documents proving he had been held in a Vietnamese prison for some time.
Read the rest of this story from the Independent at the link, you can see a trailer for the documentary here:
Can you imagine?
Well, I guess this story was too good to be true….from the Independent:
Revealed: Man claiming to be Vietnam veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson who went missing and was presumed dead 44 years earlier is ‘exposed as a fraud’ – Americas – World – The Independent
It is claimed that the man tacked down and ‘identified’ for a new documentary is in fact a fraudster who the US
government performed DNA tests on 20 years ago and whose story had been fully
Had it been true, it would have been one of
the most gripping war stories of all time.
But sadly it looks as if the man found living in the Vietnam jungle, who a new documentary claims is ‘long dead’ US army veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson, is likely to be a fraud.
Meanwhile, after some back and forth…Mariela Castro to get gay rights award in Philly
The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will be allowed to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, officials said Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.
Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.
Lazin, who had blasted the State Department’s travel denial last week, said organizers are “delighted” at the change of heart.
“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”
Castro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.
Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.
I am glad she is able to come and get this award. It is an important step no matter what anyone says.
Now check this out, Groundbreaking Surgery for Girl Born Without Windpipe
Using plastic fibers and human cells, doctors have built and implanted a windpipe in a 2 ½-year-old girl — the youngest person ever to receive a bioengineered organ.
The surgery, which took place on April 9 here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois and will be formally announced Tuesday, is only the sixth of its kind and the first to be performed in the United States. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration under rules that allow experimental procedures when otherwise the patient has little hope of survival.
Hannah was born without a windpipe, or trachea — an extremely rare condition that is eventually fatal in 99 percent of cases — and had lived since birth in a newborn intensive care unit in a Korean hospital, breathing through a tube inserted in her mouth. Because of other developmental problems, she cannot eat normally and cannot speak.
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a specialist in the field of regenerative medicine who developed the windpipe and led the complex nine-hour operation, said the treatment of the Korean-Canadian toddler, Hannah Warren, made him realize that this approach to building organs may work best with children, by harnessing their natural ability to grow and heal.
Isn’t that wonderful?
I think it is good to end on that happy note, and let you all take it from there.
How are things going for y’all today?
Thursday ReadsPosted: July 19, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Homeless, Mitt Romney, morning reads, poverty, Republican presidential politics, SCOTUS, Tea Party activists, Team Obama, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Antonin Scalia, bigotry, birtherism, Bush v. Gore, dog whistles, national military service, Obama and terrorism, Racism, Romney's tax returns, Ronald Reagan, Tea Party 36 Comments
I just spent the last two days kid sitting for my two nephews, ages 7 and 9, and boy am I beat! Am I a great sister and sister-in-law or what? It may take me a day or so to recover. Kids sure do have a lot of energy! It was fun though.
The good news is that late yesterday afternoon, thundershowers moved into the Boston area and began cooling things down a bit. My house is still hot inside though. But we are going to get some relief from the heat for a couple of days–it might even be in the high 70s on Friday! Anyway, enough about my boring life, let’s get to the news.
As we learned yesterday, Mitt Romney has decided to “take the gloves off,” meaning he’s going full-on birther and the dog whistles have been upgraded to overt race baiting.
Mitt is so infuriated about being asked to do what past presidential candidates have done and release several years of his tax returns that he seems to have lost sight of his long-term goal of winning over independent voters and decided to figuratively don one of those hats with tea bags dangling from it. This is going to be an ugly and embarrassing spectacle.
Ed Kilgore asks: “Is Team Romney Becoming Unhinged?” Kilgore concluded yesterday, as I did, that John Sununu’s ugly remarks on Tuesday morning were part of a deliberate strategy by the Romney campaign to follow Donald Trump and the Tea Party in trying to paint President Obama as “foreign” and not a real American.
Did Team Romney really think their candidate could run around the country citing the brilliant job-creating success of Bain Capital as his primary credential for becoming president and not get challenged about it? And did they not expect demands that the richest man ever to win a presidential nomination release his tax returns? I mean, the attacks they are dealing with now are blindingly obvious. Any Romney opponent who didn’t make them would be guilty of extreme political malfeasance. So what gives?
Apparently what really got Romney’s goat was Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter’s statement that if Romney had lied on SEC forms, that would be a felony.
Romney’s aides remain particularly livid about Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter’s suggestion last week that Romney committed a crime by filing apparently conflicting documents to the FEC and SEC.
“[Obama’s] policies have been such utter failures, the only thing he can do is to try to destroy a decent man and his wife,” the adviser said. “So he gets some hack political adviser from Chicago who has nothing to point to in her own life, and tells her to call him a felon… When did our politics get to that point? I mean, it’s Nixonian.”
Try to destroy a decent man and his wife? Nothing to point to in her own life? This is such an over-the-top reaction to a banal comment by Cutter (who didn’t call Romney a “felon,” but simply observed that if he did misstate his role at Bain in a SEC filing, that’s potentially a felony) that you have to believe it’s coming from the candidate himself. Apparently, the mere suggestion he might have possibly committed a crime has sent him and his staff into a real spiral.
Don’t you bet Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich wish they had known about this particular soft spot! Mention the criminal code and watch Mitt melt down!
At Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro opine: Romney’s New Plan To Go After Obama’s Biography Is A Gamble.
The Romney campaign had previously shot down the idea of revisiting many of the character attacks that first emerged in the 2008 election. Romney strongly repudiated an independent proposal by Republican ad man Fred Davis to run ads reviving the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, for example.
Asked by TPM whether he felt reports of Romney’s new approach “kinda vindicate [sic]” his biography-based ad pitch, Davis e-mailed: “Only kinda?”
The assumption up to this point among strategists on both sides has been that objections to attacking Obama as a teen drug user or as personally corrupt were about keeping the message on the president’s record in office. The biggest conservative outside money groups, like American Crossroads, focus on Americans’ economic struggles, based on research showing it to be the most effective angle.
“Obama is setting a trap, and Romney is not a Chicago street fighter,” unaligned GOP consultant Ford O’Connell told TPM. “If Romney dabbles in this tit-for-tat style of political warfare for too long, he will lose.”
Romney is really playing into Obama’s hands by refusing to just release his tax returns and now embracing Tea Party bigotry. Obama’s advisers must be high fiving each other and grinning ear to ear.
Check this out: Mitt Romney On Tax Return Controversy: ‘It’s Kind Of Amusing’
“It’s kind of amusing,” Romney told Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate WBNS. “I’m releasing two years of records as well as all that’s legally required and, for that matter, I’m doing the same thing John McCain did when he ran for president four years ago, which is releasing two years of returns, and we’ll see what time has to say about this.”
Yep, we’ll see. And watching Mitt self-destruct is going to be a lot of fun. Time to stock up on popcorn.
And speaking of right wing bigots, Supreme Court
Joke Justice Antonin Scalia told CNN’s Piers Morgan that anyone who is unhappy about the Bush v. Gore decision should just “get over it.”
“Well, I guess the one that created the most waves of disagreement was Bush v. Gore,” says Scalia, referring to the famed United States Supreme Court decision dealing with the dispute surrounding the 2000 presidential election. “That comes up all the time, and my usual response is ‘get over it.'”
Noting that it was the Democratic candidate who brought the case into the Courts, Scalia says he hasn’t lost any sleep over the result:
“No regrets at all, especially since it’s clear that the thing would have ended up the same way anyway,” recalls the 76-year-old. “The press did extensive research into what would have happened, if what Al Gore wanted done, had been done, county by county, and he would have lost anyway.”
I’ve found a couple of important long reads for you. First, from Alternet: How America Became a Country That Lets Little Kids Go Homeless. If you guessed it goes back to the mean-spirited Reagan administration, you’re correct.
An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.
In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr. Ellen Bassuk. HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of people sleeping in shelters in 2010….
The reasons behind the jump in family homelessness are not complex, Núñez says. “It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.”
It’s so true. When I first moved to Boston in 1967, the only homeless people you saw were down and out alcoholic hobo types. Then Reagan emptied the state psychiatric hospitals and cut funds for low cost housing, and other safety net programs. Suddenly, the Boston area was filled with homeless people–people who slept in their cars in supermarket parking lots or outside along the Charles River in Harvard Square. It was truly horrifying.
At the New York Review of Books, David Cole reviews two new books on Obama’s terrorism policies and concludes that Obama isn’t exactly Bush III, but he hasn’t restored our constitutional rights either.
While President Obama, unlike his predecessor, has steered clear of the politics of fear, he has also steered clear of the politics of defending our ideals. Like many Democrats, he seems afraid of being painted as soft on terrorism if he advocates for respecting the rights of others. We can only hope that in a second term, with more confidence and an eye on his legacy rather than short-term polls, he will take on the defense of American ideals that he let pressure from the security bureaucracy and political caution stop him from pursuing in the first.
And while you’re at the NYRB, take a look at this piece by William Pfaff: When the Army Was Democratic.
The US had national service from September 1940, just before World War II, until 1971, when the Vietnam War was ending. It was accepted with patriotic resolution at its start, and hated by its end. I am of an age to have put on my country’s uniform in high school ROTC in 1942, when I was fourteen years old. I put it on again for the Korean War, and did not take it off for the last time until 1958, after limited active reserve service. That was a total of sixteen years.
I can’t say that I enjoyed military service, but I learned a lot, about myself and about others—including the young black men who made up a good half of my all-southern, and mostly rural, basic training company (where I was not only the sole college graduate but probably the only high school graduate). This was just two and a half years after President Harry Truman had ordered the army desegregated. The regular army—which has always been essentially a southern institution—hated and feared the consequences of that order, but said “yes, sir” and did it, producing undoubtedly the biggest and most successful program of social engineering the United States had ever experienced. It also created what remains today the most successful route of social and professional ascension for talented young black males from poor communities that the country has ever known.
The army, in my opinion, did more to desegregate the United States than the civil rights movement of the 1960s. From 1948 on, nearly every able-bodied young man in the United States served and lived side by side with Americans of all colors, all in strict alphabetical order, in old-fashioned unpartitioned barracks, sleeping bunk to bunk, sharing shelter-halves on bivouac, in what amounted to brotherly endurance of the cold, heat, discomfort, and misery of military training—and following that, of service.
Just a few more quick links I want to call your attention to. Joseph Cannon has a horrifying post up about connections between Mitt Romney and the teen rehab industry in which kids are abused, tortured, and brainwashed. Also see this article in Salon linked in the Cannon piece.
Dakinikat will be interested to know (if she doesn’t already) that Bobby Jindal’s exorcism history has made it into the corporate media. And Charlie Pierce wrote about it yesterday.