Last night thug “president” Trump did his ridiculous PT Barnum act with his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace Anthony Kennedy. Supposedly, Trump was deciding among about four candidates, but it turns out the fix may have been in all along.
Has any other president made a deal with a Supreme Court Justice to appoint a chosen replacement?
After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk….
So even as Trump dispatched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rulings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush family, potentially a fatal flaw, the president was always leaning toward accepting Kennedy’s partiality for Kavanaugh while preserving the secret until his formal announcement, sources with knowledge of his thinking told POLITICO.
I’m sure we’ll be learning more about this, and I hope Democrats respond aggressively.
Basic background on Kavenaugh
President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick is no stranger to partisan politics: Before becoming a judge, he was helping make the case for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and later for the election of George W. Bush.
Twenty years ago, Kavanaugh’s story starts amid the highly politicized independent counsel investigation into Clinton. He worked for Starr as a young Yale Law graduate, first when Kenneth Starr was solicitor general and later in the Office of the Independent Counsel, where Kavanaugh was a key player in the slew of investigations into the Clintons, including the Whitewater scandal, the suicide of White House counsel Vincent Foster and Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The Starr Report to Congress laid out the details of Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair and findings of potential wrongdoing by the president. Kavanaugh was the primary author of the section on the grounds for possible impeachment, Starr would reportedly later say,because “that needed to be very carefully crafted, so I was looking to one of the office’s most talented lawyers — of superb and balanced judgment — to take the lead in drafting.” [….]
He was a member of the GOP legal team fighting to stop the recount in Florida to clear the way for Bush’s election against Al Gore in 2000, later taking a job in the Bush White House in 2001, where he’d serve for five years as counsel and later staff secretary until his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006.
Brett M. Kavanaugh, the federal judge nominated by President Trump on Monday to the Supreme Court, has endorsed robust views of the powers of the president, consistently siding with arguments in favor of broad executive authority during his 12 years on the bench in Washington.
He has called for restructuring the government’s consumer watchdog agency so the president could remove the director and has been a leading defender of the government’s position when it comes to using military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects.
Kavanaugh is “an unrelenting, unapologetic defender of presidential power” who believes courts can and should actively seek to rein in “large swaths of the current administrative state,” said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, who closely follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Kavanaugh’s record suggests that if he is confirmed, he would be more to the right than the man he would replace, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for whom he clerked. Kavanaugh has staked out conservative positions in cases involving gun rights, abortion and the separation of powers.
Read more details at both of those links.
What Kavanaugh Would Likely Do on the Court
Kavanaugh is an obvious choice for Trump. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he has maintained staunchly conservative credentials without earning a reputation for being a bomb-thrower. Unless Republican Sen. Susan Collins grows a spine, which she won’t, he has a clear path to Senate confirmation. During his hearings, Kavanaugh will claim he cannot reveal his true feelings about Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion access. But there is little doubt that Kavanaugh will gut Roe at the first opportunity. Indeed, he has already provided a road map that shows precisely how he’ll do it.
Kavanaugh was forced to confront the abortion question in 2017 after the Trump administration barred an undocumented minor, known as Jane Doe, from terminating an unwanted pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on Doe’s behalf, and the dispute came before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was joined on the panel by Judge Karen L. Henderson, an arch-conservative, and Judge Patricia Millett, a moderate liberal. Doe, who was being held in a federally funded Texas shelter, had already obtained the necessary judicial bypass to get an abortion. But the Trump administration refused to let her see an abortion provider, instead sending her to an anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center.”
By that point, Doe would be about 18 weeks pregnant. Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, and the procedure becomes more dangerous as the pregnancy advances. Moreover, the process of finding and verifying a sponsor for an undocumented minor frequently takes weeks or months. And Doe’s lawyers had already searched for a possible sponsor, to no avail. Kavanaugh’s ostensible compromise, then, was nothing of the sort. At best, it would force Doe to suffer through her unwanted pregnancy for at least two more weeks, increasing the odds of complications when she was finally able to obtain an abortion. At worst, it meant the government could run down the clock to the point that an abortion would become illegal.
Luckily for Doe, the full D.C. Circuit swiftly reversed Kavanaugh’s decision and allowed her to terminate her pregnancy, which she did. This move prompted Kavanaugh to write a bitter dissent explaining why the government’s bar on Doe’s abortion was not, in fact, an undue burden.
Read the rest at Slate.
When President Trump Monday nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he probably doomed the right to abortion, same-sex marriage, and maybe even contraception….
…while Kavanaugh’s record on women’s and LGBT rights is sparse, it gives good reason to suspect that he could be the swing vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights case. This, after all, is what Trump promised in 2016: that Roe would be “automatically” be overturned should he be elected. And Kavanaugh has been praised by numerous right-wing organizations.
In the case of Garza v. Hargan, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an undocumented teenage immigrant was entitled to obtain an abortion without having to obtain familial consent (as is required in several states).
Kavanaugh vigorously dissented, asking, “Is it really absurd for the United States to think that the minor should be transferred to her immigration sponsor ― ordinarily a family member, relative, or friend ― before she makes that decision?”
Those are strong words, endorsing not only parental consent rules but enforcing them in extreme circumstances. If you are looking for signals that a Justice Kavanaugh would limit or overturn Roe, Garza is a giant red flare.
There’s also a possibility that Kavenaugh might not be right wing enough to satisfy some Republicans.
Kavanaugh may not be conservative enough to survive the confirmation process. There is even talk that conservatives might revolt against Kavanaugh, as they did in 2005 against George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers. The reason? Many conservatives wanted Kavanaugh to cast doubt on the teenager’s right to get an abortion at all, which another dissenting judge did.
Legally speaking, that objection is absurd. Not unlike “judicial minimalist” Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh was discussing the case at issue, not some hypothetical issue. And he was responding to the circuit court’s holding, not writing an essay.
But there’s more. Some conservatives have pointed to dicta in another Kavanaugh opinion, a dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, a case similar to Hobby Lobby involving the Affordable Care Act’s contraception requirement. While dissenting in favor of the Catholic religious organization objecting to the requirement, Kavanaugh wrote that the “the Government has a compelling interest in facilitating women’s access to contraception” because of a variety of factors, such as “reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would further women’s health, advance women’s personal and professional opportunities, reduce the number of abortions, and help break a cycle of poverty.”
Kavanaugh is writing here about the state’s interest in access to contraception, not whether an individual has a constitutional right to access it. Those are totally different questions. But Kavanaugh’s opinion doesn’t question the constitutional right either, which rests on the same foundations (substantive due process, privacy, family) as the right to obtain an abortion.
This one is a must read–lots of details on Kavenaugh’s record. Head over to The Daily Beast to read the rest.
Read more about Kavenaugh and abortion here:
One more from The New York Times editorial board: There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh. And you probably won’t until it’s too late.
First, the awful lot: Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century. While the somewhat unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy once served as the fulcrum for the court, that role will now go to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a far more ideological conservative.
Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, has been a fixture in conservative politics and is widely respected by the Republican elite. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House. He successfully portrayed himself in his remarks at the White House as a nice guy who coaches girls in basketball, feeds the homeless and believes in the Constitution.
What Americans can’t know about Judge Kavanaugh: pretty much anything else. That’s thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process, which once provided the Senate and the public with useful information about a potential justice’s views on the Constitution, but which has, ever since the bitter battle over President Ronald Reagan’s failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, devolved into a second-rate Samuel Beckett play starring an earnest legal scholar who sits for days at a microphone and labors to sound thoughtful while saying almost nothing.
Read the rest at the NYT.
I know there’s plenty of other news, but this is the biggie for today. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and try to have a good day despite the horrors all around us.
This is going to be a quickie post, because I’m feeling kind of sick this morning.
Although I’m thrilled with the DOMA decision yesterday, I still can’t get past my anger and sadness about the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act. So I’m just going to post the (above) “official 2013 photo” of the U.S. Supreme Court and some accompanying links that demonstrate the damage the Court has done in its horrendous decision on the Voting Rights Act.
I’ll begin with this excellent post by Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times: Current Conditions, which neatly summarizes the Court’s “conservative” wing’s blatant “judicial activism,” to quote a frequent charge of conservatives against “liberal” judges.
These have been a remarkable three days, as the Supreme Court finished its term by delivering the only four decisions that most people were waiting for. The 5-to-4 decisions striking down the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act will go far toward defining the Roberts court, which has concluded its eighth year. Monday’s place-holding ruling on affirmative action in higher education, although it decided very little, is also definitional, for reasons I’ll explain. There is a great deal to say about each decision, and about how each reflects on the court. My thoughts are preliminary, informed by that phrase in the chief justice’s voting rights opinion: current conditions.
By this phrase, the chief justice meant to suggest that there is a doctrinal basis for drawing a boundary around Congressional authority, for judicial insistence that a burden that Congress chooses to impose on the states has to be justified as a cure for a current problem. In the context of voting rights, an area over which the 15th Amendment gives Congress specific authority, this is a deeply problematic position that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion demolishes.
Please go read the whole column–it’s difficult to get Greenhouse’s thesis into an excerpt. The blatant hypocrisy of the “conservative” justices–especially Scalia is mind-boggling, especially when the stunning effects of the Voting Rights decision on “current conditions” are already obvious and dramatic–just as were the disastrous effect of the Citizens United decision. A few examples.
Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.
The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”
Greensboro News and Record: NC senator: Voter ID bill moving ahead with ruling
Voter identification legislation in North Carolina will pick up steam again now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, a key General Assembly leader said Tuesday.
A bill requiring voters to present one of several forms of state-issued photo ID starting in 2016 cleared the House two months ago, but it’s been sitting since in the Senate Rules Committee to wait for a ruling by the justices in an Alabama case, according to Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the committee chairman. He said a bill will now be rolled out in the Senate next week.
The ruling essentially means a voter ID or other election legislation approved in this year’s session probably won’t have to receive advance approval by U.S. Justice Department attorneys or a federal court before such measures can be carried out.
Northwest Ohio.com: Voter ID and restricted early voting likely after SCOTUS ruling
ATLANTA (AP) — Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington’s permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination.
After the high court announced its momentous ruling Tuesday, officials in Texas and Mississippi pledged to immediately implement laws requiring voters to show photo identification before getting a ballot. North Carolina Republicans promised they would quickly try to adopt a similar law. Florida now appears free to set its early voting hours however Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP Legislature please. And Georgia’s most populous county likely will use county commission districts that Republican state legislators drew over the objections of local Democrats.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for Alabama’s new photo voter ID law to be used in the 2014 elections without the need for federal preclearance, state officials said.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and Secretary of State Beth Chapman said they believed the voting requirement, which is scheduled to take effect with the June 2014 primaries, can simply move forward.
“Photo voter ID will the first process that we have gone through under this new ruling,” Chapman said today.
Memphis Business Journal: Mississippi voter ID law could start next year
Voters in Mississippi may have to start showing a photo ID to vote by the middle of 2014, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
According to the Associated Press, Hoseman spoke Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain state and local governments no longer need federal approval to change election laws. That ruling opens up the possibility that Mississippi will implement a voter identification requirement.
According to Think Progress, Arizona and South Dakota will likely be trying to pass Voter ID laws soon. I’m sue that won’t be the end of it.
Just a few more links:
Joan Walsh: The ugly SCOTUS voting rights flim-flam
I’ll end there and leave it up to you guys to link to other important news stories. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Good Morning!! Let’s start out with a little fire and brimstone. Glen Ford had a rousing rant at the Black Agenda Report about Obama’s disgusting treatment of the CBC last weekend. Here’s just a sample:
…in the same week that he bowed down to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the assembled nations of the world, in New York City, Obama took his church voice to the Congressional Black Caucus annual awards dinner to very pointedly demand that Blacks stop bugging their president about the economic catastrophe that has befallen them, and his own role in it. “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” Obama hectored. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
Black Caucus chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver had earlier told reporters, “If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this [Black unemployment] problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.” But Obama came to lay down the law: any marching that you might do will be for my re-election.
The well-oiled crowd cheered….
The Black Caucus, as a body, meekly murmured and mumbled as the administration transferred the equivalent of the U.S. gross domestic product to the banks while Black America disintegrated. Now, with Obama’s numbers falling, he has very publicly commanded them to shut up and perform what he believes is their only legitimate function: to get him re-elected. In the looming contest, he will again resort to Black-baiting whenever it is useful to shore up white support. In that – as with his foreign and domestic policies – Obama is no different than white corporate politicians. His one great distinction, is to have a core constituency that cares more for his security and dignity, than their own.
Sad but true.
In yesterday’s morning post, Minx highlighted the way so many “progressives” are criticizing Occupy Wall Street for all kinds of irrelevant reasons. Glenn Greenwald wrote a very good piece about it: What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? But I especially liked Kevin Gosztola’s piece at FDL.
Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’s report in the New York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “half-naked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’ behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park.
Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.
The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountability-seeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a cross-section of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.”
First off, nobody in the last week can claim to be reporting on Occupy Wall Street and genuinely claim it isn’t gaining traction. Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, so-called members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be all-inclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation.
Gosztola is a young guy who replaced Emptywheel after she left FDL. He focuses on human rights issues, and he does a nice job.
It’s interesting that the progs keep comparing the Occupy Wall Street protesters to those in Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, claiming that protesters should wear suits! Obviously these “very serious” yuppie bloggers don’t recall the ’60s anti-war movement. I can just imagine their shock at some of the outfits we wore in those days.
The New York Times published an odd interpretation of the world-wide protest phenomenon that minimized demonstrations: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe, by Nicholas Kulish. Kulish explains the protests as disillusionment with voting. And why shouldn’t we all be turned off by voting when it gets us nothing but a bunch of corrupt, greedy a$$holes who stab taxpayers in the back repeatedly and suck up to the top 1%?
Not surprisingly, there is only one reference to the anti-Wall Street protests, and the organizers, Occupy Wall Street aren’t mentioned at all. Also not mentioned are the supportive protests beginning in other U.S. cities. And Kulish never mentioned Wisconsin at all!
Last week the FCC announced new net neutrality rules, and now lawsuits from both sides of the issue are starting.
Verizon and Metro PCS, both wireless carriers, had already made clear their intention to sue and were widely expected to be the first to do so. Instead, they were beaten to court by the activist group Free Press—one of the strongest supporters of network neutrality.
Free Press has asked a federal appeals court to review the FCC’s rules—not because it finds them too strong, but because it finds them too weak. The group particularly objects to the way in which wireless companies are exempted from most of the meaningful anti-discrimination policies in the rules. While wireless operators can’t block Internet sites outright, and can’t simply ban apps that compete with their own services, they can do just about anything else; wired operators can’t.
Free Press complains about the “decision to adopt one set of rules for broadband access via mobile platforms and a different set of rules for broadband access via fixed platforms.” The distinction, it says, is “arbitrary and capricious” and it violates the law.
In a statement, Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, “Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access. The disparity that the FCC’s rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it’s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.
Here is a summary of the final FCC rules, from Connected Planet:
The FCC highlighted a total of four rules, which specify that:
— A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choice regarding use of such services and for content, application, service and device providers to develop, market and maintain Internet offerings
— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service.
— A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.
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I’m sure you’ve heard that the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the health care law ASAP. Dalia Lithwick at Slate had an interesting article on the case: The Supreme Court is less interested in ruling on Obama’s health care law than you think.
Apparently the Obama administration believes that 2012 will not be crazy enough already. That would explain why it has decided not to appeal a ruling from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the individual mandate at the heart of its health reform law. Instead of asking the full, 11-member court to hear the case, the administration has voluntarily cleared the path toward the Supreme Court as early as this spring. That means there could be a ruling by the end of June, just a few months before the election.
Right now the individual mandate has been upheld, by a 2-1 margin by the Sixth Circuit and struck down 2-1 at the 11th Circuit, while the Virginia lawsuit challenging the act was dismissed on procedural grounds at the Fourth Circuit. This split between the federal appeals courts almost demands that the high court agree to hear the case, as does the fact that it’s the Justice Department filing the appeal.
Lithwick discusses the opinions of other writers on why the administration is doing this now. Then she offers her own assessment:
I remain unsure that there just are five justices at the high court eager to have the court itself become an election-year issue. I don’t think Chief Justice John Roberts wants to borrow that kind of partisan trouble again so soon after Citizens United, the campaign-finance case that turned into an Obama talking point. And I am not certain that the short-term gain of striking down some or part of the ACA (embarrassing President Obama even to the point of affecting the election) is the kind of judicial end-game this court really cares about. Certainly there are one or two justices who might see striking down the ACA as a historic blow for freedom. But the long game at the court is measured in decades of slow doctrinal progress—as witnessed in the fight over handguns and the Second Amendment—and not in reviving the stalled federalism revolution just to score a point.
That’s why I suspect that even if there are five justices who believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional, there probably aren’t five votes to decide that question in this instant. Lyle Denniston over at Scotusblog reminds us that the court has a lot of options to forestall a showdown with the president. If the justices opt to consider the technical question raised at the Fourth Circuit—about who has legal standing to challenge the mandate in the first place—the court could dodge the constitutional question altogether until 2015, when the first penalties will be paid. It’s not so much a matter of the court having to decide whether to bring a gavel to a knife fight. It’s just that this isn’t really this court’s knife fight in the first place.
Roman Polanski is back in the news, because he supposedly “apologized” to the woman he raped when she was only 13.
In a documentary about his life, the Oscar-winning director, 78, admitted Samantha Geimer had been left scarred by his exploitation three decades ago. The Polish-French film maker publicly apologised for the first time for his “mistakes” that included the sexual attack on Mrs Geimer, now 47.
The director of Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown admitted she was a “double victim” after being caught up in the subsequent media storm, forcing her to move to Hawaii for privacy.
The married mother-of-three successfully sued him and accepted a private apology in 2009, saying she had been left more traumatised by ensuing legal battles to bring him to justice than the assault itself.
Finally, here’s another celebrity story: According to the New York Post, 1960s rock star Sly Stone is homeless, living in a van in L.A.
Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.
Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer.
“I like my small camper,” he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.”
It’s a pretty nice van, BTW. But the LA Times says if Stone is homeless, it’s his own choice.
If Sly Stone is homeless, it’s by choice and not necessity, according to sources close to the funk legend.
Stone’s attorney Robert Alan has supposedly rented a four-bedroom home in Woodland Hills for his client, one unnamed source told Showbiz411 exclusively. “He’s too paranoid to come inside,” another source told writer Roger Friedman. That person was described as a friend of the singer.
Though Alan wouldn’t comment on the rental house, Friedman said, the lawyer confirmed that Sly Stone documentarian Willem Alkema had paid the singer $5,000 upfront for a recent interview. (An additional $2,000, source unknown, was reportedly paid when the story was picked up.) Alkema, whom Friedman says is trying relaunch his documentary and could benefit from the publicity, co-wrote Sunday’s “Sly Stone Is Homeless and Living in a Van” article for the New York Post.
That’s not to say Stone hadn’t admitted struggling with drugs, nor that he isn’t in financial trouble of the maybe-a-$50-million-lawsuit-will-fix-it variety — he sued former manager Jerry Goldstein in early 2010, alleging fraud and the diversion of $20 million to $30 million in royalties.
I’m just glad to know that Sly is still with us. What a great band he had. I remember seeing Sly and the Family Stone at an outdoor concert at Harvard Stadium–I think it was in 1969. It was fabulous! So in honor of Sly and nostalgia…
So…. what are you reading and blogging about today?
Tuesday Reads: Debt Ceiling Chicken, Roberts vs. Roe, Rove on Obama, NewsCorp, and Casey Anthony RumorsPosted: July 19, 2011
Good Morning!! I know we’re all sick and tired of the debt limit battle, but there is going to be a vote today in the House–on a stupid bill that includes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. What a joke! And with only about two weeks to go until armageddon.
Anyway, let’s get the depressing news out of the way first. From Politico: Debt ceiling debate turns ‘scary’
Washington’s frayed nerves showed through Monday amid tough talk on the right, a White House veto threat, canceled weekend passes and the top Senate Democrat likening default to a “very, very scary” outcome even for those “who believe government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub.”
“What will it take,” asked an agitated Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), “for my Republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they’re playing a game of political chicken with the entire global economy?”
House Speaker John Boehner confirmed a POLITICO report that he had met again privately with President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday to try to get debt talks back on track. But ignoring Obama’s veto warning, Boehner will press ahead Tuesday with House votes on a revised debt ceiling bill that shows no sign of compromise on the spending and tax policy differences behind the crisis.
Indeed, with the Aug. 2 deadline exactly two weeks away, the House GOP is doubling down its bet with 10-year statutory spending caps intended to wring $5.8 trillion in unspecified savings from the government during the next decade — more than twice the $2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase that is allowed. And in his haste to act, Boehner will bring the so-called Cut, Cap and Balance bill to the floor under exactly the type of procedure he has said he abhors: limited debate and with no real review by any legislative committee.
Yes, the psychopaths and John Birchers are in charge, and there’s nothing we can do but wait and hope.
The Nation has a good article about the ongoing war on women by Amanda Marcotte and Jesse Taylor: How States Could Ban Abortion With Roe Still Standing
The Supreme Court granting states the power to ban abortion with Roe still standing seemed outlandish even just a few years ago, but the appointment of John Roberts to Chief Justice shifted the equation. Roberts specializes in decisions that reverse the spirit of precedent while leaving intact the letter of it, like when he squashed large chunks of Brown v the Board of Education while claiming to uphold it. To make it legal to ban abortion in the states, all the court needs is a law that eliminates legal abortion while dodging the logic of Roe v Wade.
Many state legislatures appear to be doing just that, writing legislation which Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, describes as “part of an ongoing effort around the country to choke off women’s access to abortion by any means necessary – either by forcing doctors out of practice, banning procedures outright or demeaning women.”
How would the Roberts Court invalidate Roe without actually overturning it?
Until recently, Roe has been considered an insurmountable obstacle to states that wish to ban abortion. The conservative side of the Roberts bench, however, will likely view the Roe decision as a seesaw with women’s rights on one side and the state interest in the fetus on the other. Currently, most of the weight is on the woman’s side for three months, some weight moves over to the state’s side for the next three months, and then most of the weight moves to the state’s side for the last trimester.
Roberts has two options for reshaping Roe: the first is to claim the state’s interest in fetal life starts even sooner, using bogus science to claim we know more about the fetus than we did 1992, when Planned Parenthood v Casey was decided. The second option is to change the court interpretation of individual state rights and compelling state interest, while leaving Roe’s framework technically in place. The court could, for instance, define the state’s interests more broadly, allowing it to regulate differently within the (technically) still-operative Roe framework. This would allow a state like Kansas to claim to still have legal abortion while burying would-be abortion providers under so much red tape they couldn’t keep a clinic open. It would also allow states like South Dakota to create so many hoops for women to jump through to get abortion that women simply wouldn’t be able to do it. The right to choose would theoretically exist, but only to the extent states deign to recognize it.
This struck me funny–Karl Rove isn’t all that impressed with Obama’s fund-raising.
According to CBS radio’s Mark Knoller, who also serves as the unofficial White House press corps statistics king, the president attended 31 fundraisers in nine states during the last three months. That is more than a fundraising reception or dinner every three days.
Rove doesn’t think Obama can keep up that pace.
Thirty-one fundraisers in a quarter is a big strain on any president’s schedule. Mr. Obama can’t keep that pace up and not just because he’s got a day job. There are also just so many cities capable of producing $1 million and only so many times you can hold a million dollar fundraiser in them.
Here’s the funny part:
Even though at least $35 million (almost half the total Obama/DNC haul) can be credited to just 244 well-connected “bundlers,” Team Obama made a big thing of their 260,000 new small dollar donors. But that means only 292,000 donors from his last campaign have renewed their support for the re-elect so far. That’s just 6.6 percent of the 3.95 million people who donated to the ’08 Obama effort, only a quarter to a third of what most reelect campaigns could expect from renewal efforts at this point.
Perhaps there really is donor fatigue among the legions of stalwarts who put Mr. Obama in the White House the first time.
Yeah, I’d say there’s probably quite a bit of “donor fatigue” among the unemployed and underemployed masses.
British police are still insisting that the death of News of the World whistleblower Sean Hoare is not suspicious; but no one trusts the police because they were apparently taking bribes from Murdoch employees to help in stalking celebrities and other NOTW targets.
We’re being prepared to find out he died of an overdose by being reminded that Hoare had drug and alcohol problems. But so far we don’t have a cause of death. I say he was suicided. Even if he died of natural causes, no one will believe it.
Some people are beginning to question whether Rupert Murdoch can keep control of NewsCorp in the face of this growing scandal.
Independent directors of New York-based News Corp. have begun questioning the company’s response to the crisis and whether a leadership change is needed, said two people with direct knowledge of the situation who wouldn’t speak publicly. Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief who Murdoch backed until last week, was arrested yesterday in London.
“The shell of invulnerability that Rupert Murdoch had around him has been cracked,” said James Post, a professor at Boston University’s School of Management who has written about governance and business ethics. “His credibility and the company’s credibility are hemorrhaging.”
Murdoch’s son James is also in big trouble and may not survive the investigation.
Finally, despite the threats of the media and the public alike to boycott Casey Anthony and consign her to oblivion, lots of people are still obsession about her. The latest frenzy is the media’s efforts to find out where Anthony has disappeared to. I thought that’s what everyone wanted her to do?
The Orlando Sentinel asks: Where in the World is Casey Anthony? My answer is “who cares?” But it seems lots of people still do. News crews and helicopters attempted to follow the SUV that Anthony got into after she walked out of jail, but
Anthony’s exact location was lost when the SUV stopped at the parking garage of the building where fellow defense team member Cheney Mason works.
Droves of journalists and spectators waited for hours at nearby Orlando Executive Airport, where many guessed Anthony would board a private plane and head out of town.
But there was no clear sign of Anthony boarding a plane and no flight manifests immediately available that would indicate who was on board the handful of flights that departed the airport early Sunday.
The secrecy surrounding Anthony’s whereabouts continued to fuel the rumor mill Monday as the media and public tried to figure out where the 25-year-old is holing up and when she’ll resurface.
The latest rumor is that Anthony is staying at Geraldo Rivera’s residence in Puerto Rico, but Rivera denies it.
Defense attorney Cheney Mason says that Anthony is “safe” and that hundreds of people have offered to help her.
Whatever. I really thought ignoring her was a good idea, but I guess it isn’t going to happen.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will soon resign to return to teaching at
Milton Friedman Institute the University of Chicago.
“Since I first ran for the U.S. Senate, Austan has been a close friend and one of my most trusted advisers,” President Obama said….”Over the past several years, he has helped steer our country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs. — He is one of America’s great economic thinkers.”
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been accused of sexual assault on a hotel maid was jeered by NYC hotel workers yesterday outside a Manhattan courthouse.
Lawyers for the maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of criminal sexual assault in a New York hotel room served notice yesterday that she will testify at his trial and “tell the world” what he inflicted upon her, as the former IMF chief was met with a chorus of heckling from hotel workers outside a Manhattan courthouse.
The warning, delivered minutes after Mr Strauss-Kahn entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the seven charges filed against him, is the latest indication of how ferocious the trial is likely to be with the defence, the prosecution and now lawyers for the accuser all aggressively preparing to engage in battle.
Theatrics outside the court yesterday were further stoked by hotel maids pushing against police barriers jeering Mr Strauss-Kahn as he, accompanied by his defence team and his wife, Anne Sinclair, arrived for his formal arraignment. The hotel employees, bussed in by their union and most dressed in uniforms they usually wear to work, cried “shame” as he walked past. Wendy Baranello, a hotel union organiser, called the charges “outrageous” and said the accuser “is a hard-working woman… just doing her job.”
As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) left the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference this past weekend, he was approached by a young Catholic man who asked Ryan:
“Why did you choose to model your budget off the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than values of basic economic justice in the Bible?” James Salt of Faithful America asked Ryan, the author of the Republican budget, before offering him a Bible to read.
Ryan ignored Salt’s questions and briskly walked away.
Faithful America has launched a campaign to encourage Ryan to put down the conservative writer Ayn Rand, who advocated selfishness, and pick up the Bible. The group said his budget plan “reflects Ayn Rand’s love of greed and contempt for the weak by giving huge tax breaks to millionaires while making deep and harmful cuts to programs that protect seniors, struggling families and the middle class.”
Finally the U.S. Supreme Court has done something we can cheer. From Raw Story:
The US Supreme Court gave the green light Monday to a group seeking to bring a class-action lawsuit against US oil services firm Halliburton for alleged fraud.
The nine judges unanimously decided that the plaintiffs, a group of investors, do not need to prove a direct relationship between Halliburton’s alleged fraudulent statements and the investors’ financial losses in order to pursue the lawsuit.
Halliburton is accused of making a series of false statements about its business dealings that artificially inflated its stock price.
Afterward, Halliburton disclosed corrections that then caused stock prices to drop at the loss of investors.
The suit is on behalf of all investors who purchased Halliburton stock between June 3, 1999 and December 7, 2001.
During that time Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO.
There is some “big news in the fight against cancer.”
Two new studies report dramatic progress in treating advanced melanoma and lung cancer.
Both of these treatments use an approach that is creating a lot of excitement among doctors –tailoring drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients, and the results can be remarkable
A few years ago, Bill Schuette was preparing for the end.
But then he heard about something new: an experimental drug that targets a certain type of lung cancer based on its genetic makeup. Tests showed he was a candidate.
His rare form of non-small-cell lung cancer has a genetic mutation called ALK that fuels cancer growth. The new drug, Crizotinib, works by blocking this abnormal gene, causing tumors to shrink.
Skin cancer treatment: Biggest breakthrough in 30 years – The New Scientist
Two new drugs for metastatic melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – are being hailed as the biggest breakthrough therapies for cancer in the last 30 years. The drugs reduce tumour size, significantly increasing survival rates.
Although melanoma can be cured if caught early enough, individuals in the late stages of the disease are only expected to survive for an average of six months. One of the two drugs – vemurafenib – works by inhibiting the effects of a mutated form of the BRAF gene, which is thought to accompany around half of the cases of malignant skin tumours.
In a study presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Chapman’s team compared both drugs on 672 patients with late stage, inoperable melanoma and a mutation in the BRAF gene.
The group found that 48 per cent of those receiving vemurafenib responded to the treatment, while only 5 per cent of patients responded to dacarbazine. At 6 months, survival was 84 per cent in the group taking vemurafenib compared to 64 per cent in those taking dacarbazine.
A new drug for breast cancer: Aromasin a major breakthrough in fight against breast cancer, cutting risk by 65 percent
Doctor Harvey Greenberg is the director of University Community Hospital’s Cancer Program. He said, “There’s been some suggestion that women are reluctant to take Tamoxifen due to the potential side effects,” which reportedly include developing blood clots, or developing uterine cancer.
A study was conducted to see if a different class of medicines could be used for the prevention of breast cancer. Study results just released show the estrogen blocker Aromasin reduced the chance of developing breast cancer by 65 percent in post menopausal women at high risk.
The study, which was sponsored by Pfizer — the company that makes this drug — broke the participants into two groups: one that got the drug and one that got the placebo. There were 11 invasive breast cancers reported in the group that got the drug compared to 32 cases in the group that got the placebo.
Doctor Greenberg says, “The most important take away is that there is now another class of medicines that can be helpful in preventing breast cancer in high-risk women. The second take away is if there are women who have been identified as possibly benefiting from Tamoxifen but they won’t take it, here’s a substitute.”
For those of you who have read this far, I’m going to make a confession. I’ve been horribly depressed by the political news lately, and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching the trial of Casey Anthony, a young woman accused of murdering her 2-1/2 year-old daughter.
I know, I know … tabloid stuff. But I’m telling you, it’s more interesting than watching Law & Order, CSI, and Criminal Minds all rolled into one. Yesterday, there was testimony from an researcher on human decomposition from the “Body Farm” at Oak Ridge National laboratory.
Dr. Arpad Vass testified that he detected human decomposition in the air from the trunk of Casey’s car. It’s the first time a jury has heard testimony about the controversial air tests. The evidence has never been used in a criminal case before.
Prosecutors say the tests prove Caylee’s [Casey’s daughter] body was in the trunk of Casey’s car.
“I can find no other plausible explanation other than that to explain all the results we found,” said Vass.
Vass testified that a machine called a “gas chromatograph” can identify chemicals that are unique to human decomposition.
“Those are the chemicals that a cadaver-locating dog could smell,” Vass said.
Yesterday there was testimony from an FBI forensic expert about a hair found in the truck of Anthony’s car that showed signs of human decomposition.
In addition to the opportunity to learn about the latest methods in forensic science, the trial offers a chance to observe Casey Anthony’s amazing lack of affect as she listens to testimony about her allegedly killing her child. She has to be one of the most evil human beings I’ve ever encountered. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you can watch the trial streamed live on-line at a number of sites. Here’s one. Frankly, I find it much less depressing than observing American political culture.
So … what are you reading and blogging about today?
Good Morning!! I know I shouldn’t keep complaining about my weather, with all the tornadoes and floods in other places, but I sure wish we’d get a little bit of spring here in Beantown. It has been raining almost every day for the past couple of weeks. We had 1-1/2 nice days on Friday and Saturday, and then went back to rainy and soggy. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 80 degrees, but still raining. And it’s rain, rain, and more rain for the foreseeable future. Ugh! This kind of weather tends to make the news seem even more depressing than usual.
A couple of days ago, Sima posted a wonderful story about a fawn that was rescued by firefighters. That really cheered me up, so I decided to offer you some heartwarming animal rescue stories this morning.
Gary Murphy, 72, was at his home in Palm City, about 80 miles north of Miami, on Thursday evening when he heard his West Highland terrier named “Doogie” making noise in the backyard.
Murphy found his beloved pet in the mouth of an alligator that had entered the yard from marshland behind the property, and launched a rescue bid by jumping on the reptile’s backing and hitting it on the head.
“I had loafers on and I hit the back of that gator. It was like jumping on a pile of rocks,” Murphy told the newspaper.
The alligator let go of Doogie, who needed veterinary treatment for deep gouges, lung injuries and liver damage, but was expected to make a full recovery.
The Michigan Humane Society said animal rescuers used a canoe to reach a kitten that was stranded Monday on an island in Detroit’s Palmer Park.
The organization said it didn’t know how the three-month kitten got there, or how long it had been stuck.
The kitten’s rescuers have named him Nemo.
He was taken to the MHS Detroit Center for Animal Care and checked out by veterinarians, who said he’s in good health.
The Humane Society of Missouri is deploying a 15-person disaster response team to Joplin, Missouri to rescue and shelter pets affected by Sunday’s devastating tornado.
The team is made up of trained professionals, as well as a veterinarian to help care for sick and injured animals.
The HSMO field assessment team will work in conjunction with Joplin Animal Control and the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency to operate an animal shelter on the campus of Missouri Southern State University and to set up a separate pet shelter to care for hundreds of animals who are unable to be sheltered at MSSU.
For more information on donations to help this and future needs, please visit the Humane Society of Missouri’s website.
In other news, the Obama administration is raising objections to the new Indiana law that bans all government assistance to Planned Parenthood.
The changes in Indiana are subject to federal review and approval, and administration officials have made it clear they will not approve the changes in the form adopted by the state.
Federal officials have 90 days to act but may feel pressure to act sooner because Indiana is already enforcing its law, which took effect on May 10, and because legislators in other states are working on similar measures.
If a state Medicaid program is not in compliance with federal law and regulations, federal officials can take corrective action, including “the total or partial withholding” of federal Medicaid money. The mere threat of such a penalty is often enough to get states to comply. Actually imposing the penalty would, in many cases, hurt the very people whom Medicaid is intended to help.
Hmmm… that doesn’t sound so good. Isn’t there a better way? Fortunately, Mitch Daniels isn’t going to run for President. Tim Pawlenty is running, however, and a Minnesota reporter, Nick Pinto, has published a couple of embarrassing stories in honor of Pawlenty’s throwing his hat in the presidential ring.
Jeremy Giefer served time in jail in 1994 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. But you wouldn’t know it to look at the record of the man now charged with sexually molesting his daughter more than 250 times over the last eight years.
That’s because two years ago, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and then-Chief Justice Eric Magnuson unanimously voted to wipe Giefer’s record clean, granting him a pardon extraordinary.
One reason Giefer wanted his record cleared? His wife wanted to open a childcare center in the house where they live–the same house where Giefer allegedly molested his young daughter throughout the six years prior.
Back in the fall of 2006, Ayers, then only 24, was running the reelection campaign of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.
On October 25, just days before the election, Trooper First Class J.W. Rickett of the Georgia State Patrol saw Ayers’ Chevy Tahoe weaving and doing 50 in a 35-mph zone. Rickett followed the truck, which turned into a parking lot, sped up, and nearly hit another vehicle in an apparent effort to hide.
As the dash-cam video of the incident shows, Ayers’ first words to Rickett are: “We’re with Governor Perdue’s campaign headquarters.”
Ayers claims he’s only had one Jack Daniels and Diet Coke, but Rickett’s report states he smelled strongly of alcohol.
Ayers’ association with the governor apparently doesn’t impress the trooper, who puts him through a field sobriety test, which he fails.
Ayers then refuses to take a breath test, so he’s arrested and put in handcuffs.
You can watch the video at the link.
This is a strange one from Raw Story: Alan Greenspan had to be convinced that he existed before meeting Ayn Rand
A friend had to convince Greenspan that he actually existed prior to a meeting with Ayn Rand in the 1950s.
Nathaniel Branden told the story about Greenspan in the BBC 2 documentary “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace,” according to The Spectator. Part one of the three part series premiered Monday.
“You have to realize that Alan Greenspan was, and is, a brilliant mind doing brilliant things in the real world but in his 20s he is sitting with me in my apartment telling me that he cannot say with certainty that he exists, he cannot say for certain that I exist and he cannot say for certain that this conversation exists,” Branden recalled.
“That aside he’s got lots of opinions about everything… My challenge became to persuade him that he can be certain that he exists,” he explained.
Apparently, Ayn Rand didn’t like Greenspan much, but Brandon convinced her to allow him to join her group anyway. Greenspan went on to make major contributions to the destruction of the economy of the United States of America.
The U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t help a poor young girl who was forced to cheer for her rapist, but today they ordered the state of California to release tens of thousands of convicts from state prisons because of overcrowding.
The court gave the state two years to shrink the number of prisoners by more than 33,000 and two weeks to submit a schedule for achieving that goal. The state now has 143,335 inmates, according to Cate.
Monday’s 5-4 ruling, upholding one of the largest such orders in the nation’s history, came with vivid descriptions of indecent care from the majority and outraged warnings of a “grim roster of victims” from some in the minority.
In presenting the decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, spoke from the bench about suicidal prisoners being held in “telephone booth-sized cages without toilets” and others, sick with cancer or in severe pain, who died before being seen by a doctor. As many as 200 prisoners may live in a gymnasium, and as many as 54 may share a single toilet, he said.
Kennedy, whose opinion was joined by his four liberal colleagues, said the state’s prisons were built to hold 80,000 inmates, but were crowded with as many 156,000 a few years ago.
If they let small-time drug users go, that would be fine with me, but I hope they continue to keep Charlie Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie van Houten behind bars, along with other vicious murders.
I’ll end with the latest rapture news: Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October
California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months because Judgment Day actually will come on October 21.
Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.
But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.
So what are you reading and blogging about today?