Sunday, October 18, 2020

CAPTION SUNDAY.

 

 

Give me a caption for this picture.   



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pushovers and pileups.


 If you are a democrat and you are pissed off at how the republicans pushed through Amy (I have never tried a case) Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Do not look to one of your senate leaders, Dianne Feinstein, to show some fight on your behalf. 

This is what she told Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the senate Judiciary Committee, today: 

"I just want to thank you. This is one of the best set of hearings that I've participated in. Thank you so much for your leadership." * Me puking* 

Keep in mind that this is the same Lindsey Graham who declared that Amy (I never tried a case) Coney Barrett's seat with the rest of the supremes is a  fait accompli. Or that this same Lindsey Graham, just a day ago, made reference to the "good old days of segregation" during the hearings.  This is why I can't ride with dumbocrats. They are such pushovers. America has pretty much become a one party country. No wonder Donald trump has become so emboldened.  

Anyway, enough of  Feinstein, hopefully her days in Washington are numbered. 

Let's  ruminate a little bit about how the president of the United States was boasting today about ordering the killing of an American citizen. Or, how a major television network decided to appease a cry baby president by giving him a town hall style meeting with voters in Miami tonight. Of course the  media will spend very little time on these stories, because they are always looking to move on to the next trump soundbite.

Sadly, the American people will never get the benefit of real journalists serving them. Because, at the end of the day, all they care about is money and their ratings. You better believe that they are all cheering for trump and hoping he wins the presidency. They rely on his buffoonery and outlandish behavior to drive up their ratings, and keep their programming going. You could literally talk about the crazy shit that he does all day, and at times it seems like that's all they do. 

I will be watching both debates tonight. (Thanks DVR). But rest assured that most people will be watching trump. NBC's ratings will double that of ABC. It makes sense if you think about it. I mean what would you most likely be rubbernecking on the highway? A person on the side of the road with a simple flat tire? Or, a multi-car pileup with numerous fatalities?  



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The "originalist."


It's nice to be able to come to my own website and be able to vent and write about current events happening in these divided states of America. I say that because @Jack and the folks over at Twitter decided to suspend a brother for congratulating another brother (@lewishamilton) for a monumental achievement in formula one racing. 

Dear twitter, please start hiring more people of color. Maybe they would be able to explain to you that field Negro is actually a term of endearment. Twitter gets triggered when they see the word, Negro, because, quite frankly, they don't have much experience with Negroes.

This is the same twitter that allows the president of the United States to violate all of their decency policies, by constantly threatening, bullying, and calling people names on the platform. His actions are made even more egregious because he has millions of followers. Then again, maybe that's why he gets a pass. Millions of followers will trigger the double standard treatment every time.  

So anyway, I have been watching the Amy Cony Barrett nomination proceedings from Washington, and there hasn't been many surprises. The supreme to be was well coached and was very careful not to make any news.

She said (and didn't say )a few things that got my attention, though. Like when she refused to answer if presidents should commit to a peaceful transfer of power.  Or when she confirmed that she was an "originalist" in her Judicial philosophy. For those of you who don't know, these are the jurists who believe that the writings of the framers of the Constitution should be taken as they intended it at the time, and that there is no room for any other type interpretation. 

Here is what the soon to be supreme said about the philosophy 

"Originalism....  is the belief that “constitutional text means what it did at the time it was ratified and that this original public meaning is authoritative.” Judges, originalists maintain, should be bound by the words of the Constitution, and the meaning of those words should be determined solely based on how they were understood when they were added to the Constitution."

Hold the phone! I think we are heading in the wrong direction.

Sadly, the Barrett train has left the station, and there is no stopping it now.

Here is a great article that explains the concept of orginalism, and after reading it you will see what has me so triggered. 

"Some legal scholars, and some judges, are “originalists”; they believe that judges should be governed by the “original public meaning” of the Constitution’s text. The late Justice Antonin Scalia was an originalist. So is Justice Clarence Thomas. And so is the latest Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Debates about originalism have become complicated. But one point is simple: A committed originalist is going to have to allow the national government to discriminate on the basis of sex and race.

Let’s spell that out. Judges who are committed to the “original public meaning” of the Constitution would almost certainly have to allow the federal government to say, “No women need apply.” They would probably have to conclude that if Congress wants federal agencies to pay men twice as much as women, the Constitution does not stand in the way.

Originalist judges would find it exceedingly difficult not to rule that under the Constitution, Congress can segregate the schools in the District of Columbia. Originalist judges would probably have to conclude that if Congress wants to restrict African-Americans to lower-level positions within the federal government, the Constitution is not an obstacle.

On originalist premises, a “whites only” policy would be constitutionally fine, insofar as we are speaking of the decisions of the U.S. government.

Here’s why. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, adopted in the aftermath of the Civil War, applies only to the states, which may not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Bill of Rights, which does apply to the federal government, does not contain anything like an Equal Protection Clause, or any kind of ban on discrimination on the basis of race or sex.

Why, then, is it generally agreed that the Constitution forbids the federal government from discriminating on those grounds? The answer can be found in 1954, with one of the most emphatically non-originalist decisions in the entire history of American law: Bolling v. Sharpe.

The issue in the case was whether Congress could segregate the schools of the District of Columbia on the basis of race. The Supreme Court ruled that it could not. It said that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment(1) — ratified in 1791 and applying then only to the federal government — essentially includes the Equal Protection Clause, ratified in 1868. So much for originalism.

The Court’s explanation is worth quoting:   

The Fifth Amendment, which is applicable in the District of Columbia, does not contain an equal protection clause, as does the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies only to the states. But the concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive. The "equal protection of the laws" is a more explicit safeguard of prohibited unfairness than "due process of law," and therefore we do not imply that the two are always interchangeable phrases. But, as this Court has recognized, discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.

From the originalist point of view, that’s outrageous. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment says that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It is preposterous to say that the original meaning of those words — in 1791! — was that the national government may not discriminate on the basis of race.

In Bolling v. Sharpe, the Supreme Court insisted that the meaning of the Constitution is not frozen in time: “In view of our decision that the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools, it would be unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government.”

Seeing the problem, originalists have struggled mightily, and somewhat desperately, to explain why their approach would not allow the national government to discriminate on the basis of race and sex.

Some originalists say that they would accept Supreme Court precedents, even if they depart from the original understanding. They emphasize the importance of stability in the law and point to the long-standing tradition of respect for precedents, even when they are wrong.

Thomas disagrees; he would follow the original meaning and reject precedents that depart from it. Barrett has not offered a firm view, but she seems to have some sympathy for Thomas’s position: “Originalists,” she wrote in 2017, “have difficulty identifying a principled justification for following such precedent, even when the consequences of overruling it would be extraordinarily disruptive.”

There is a broader point here. Many people find it appealing to say that judges should respect the original meaning of the Constitution. No one should want to be ruled by unelected judges. There are sophisticated forms of originalism, and they deserve to be taken seriously.

But in too many cases, originalists end up speaking not for the founding generation, but for contemporary political views typically associated with the Republican Party — on property rights, on commercial advertising, on affirmative action programs, on gun rights, and much more.

In any case, the Constitution does not contain the instructions for its own interpretation. No provision of the U.S. founding document directs justices to be originalists. And in important areas, insistence on the original meaning of the constitutional text would make a mockery of constitutional rights that have made the U.S. a beacon to the world. For example, originalism would obliterate freedom of speech as the American legal system now understands it."  [More] 

This is why I worry about the direction of the court.

The soon to be member of the supremes might seem like the sweet lady next door who bakes cookies, drives the kids to soccer practice,  and adopts little black children from Third World countries, but don't be fooled. She is Clarence Thomas all over again. Just younger, whiter, and softer around the edges. 


Sunday, October 11, 2020

? Of the Day.


 I am starting a new feature, it's called question of the day.

Here is today's question: 

If Donald trump said that he would resign today, but Mike Pence would have to pardon him and the New York state attorney general's office would have to stop their investigations against him, would you agree to those terms? 

Both long and short answers are fine.   

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Flies and monsters.

 


“In a world that was not easy for Alice to bear or understand, flies were the final and malicious burden laid upon her.” 

John Steinbeck 

Poor Mike Pence must have felt like Alice last night. Imagine going to your handlers after last night's debate and saying, "How did I do?" Only to be told that you were upstaged, not by your opponent, but by a damn fly. The world can be a cruel place when you are Donald trump's number two. 

I kept looking at that fly on Pence's head last night and thinking: Sometimes it's good to be bald. If Pence was bald like yours truly he would have felt that little sucker dancing on his head and stealing the damn spotlight. Instead, the little guy sat on that perfectly coiffed white dome as if he was feeding on a raw meat. 

You have to ask yourself, though, why did the fly land on Pence's head and not on the head of Kamala Harris? Could it be that he is more full of shit than the senator from California?

The debate itself went as to be expected. If you were a trump supporter you thought that Pence won, and if you were a Biden supporter you are more likely of the opinion that Kamala Harris kicked his ass. The folks at CNN had Harris winning by a lot. I am not sure what the FOX VIEWS poll said, but I would suspect that it was the opposite. The thing is, Biden is in the lead, and trump world was hoping that the man with the funeral home director demeanor would score some major debate points and shake up the polls. It. Did. Not. Happen.

I must say that it felt good to see Harris, a woman of color, holding her own on the debate stage and showing the folks in America  that if Uncle Joe should happen to expire before his time (as Mr. Orange seems to be hoping), she will be ready to be president from day one. Maybe that's what has Mr. trump so shook. He called her a monster and a Communist today, as he could see his four years of work to bring back white supremacy being threatened by the uppity Indian/Jamaican from California. 

Mr. trump will have his chance to get another crack at Biden next week. Although he said today that he will not participate in a virtual debate, which is what is planned because of him testing positive (we still don't know when) for the "hoax". Mr. trump has to do something, because he is losing the coronavirus battle, and it shows.

He was certainly in rare form earlier today on a right-wing radio program, and he has been rage tweeting all day as well. 

 "This monster that was onstage with  Mike Pence who destroyed her last night, by the way. This monster, she says, ‘no no, there won’t be fracking,’ there won’t be this. Everything she said is a lie,” Trump said during a phone interview on Fox Business.

Trump claimed that Biden “won’t be president for two months” if elected because he is not “mentally capable of being president,” before tearing into Harris.

“He is not mentally capable of being president. You know that, everybody knows that, everybody that knows him. He can’t be president,"'

Be best. 



  
  

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

"Propagandists."

 


If you  didn't know that fascism was right around the corner, Mr. trump's balcony stunt yesterday (Dictators love balconies) should convince you otherwise. Not that they would listen to me, but if I was advising Donald trump's people, I would tell them to tell him to stay off twitter and out of public site for the next few days. He is on some serous mind altering drugs, and it's not like his mind was the greatest to begin with.

Anyway, in my continued mission to educate and to keep you field hands informed, I have selected an article from Daily Kos for you to read.

"There is no point in accusing Republican senators of hypocrisy. Absolutely none. Only hours after the death of Supreme Court icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republicans—who had previously gnashed their teeth at the audacity of the suggestion that the nation's first nonwhite president had the constitutional power to make nominations to the court at any point during the final year of his term—began declaring that this time around, obviously that new rule no longer applies. And obviously the president of their own party, impeached and transparently corrupt, must be granted a scrambling court even as voters line up to cast early ballots.

Hypocrisy implies there’s a previous ideology being upset; there wasn't one, and isn't one, and no serious politics-watcher ever thought otherwise. The principle being upheld by Sen. Mitch McConnell and clan then and now was more simple: Retain power using all available tools, and deny the opposition power using all available tools. There is no "ideology" inside the modern conservative movement, either before Trump's arrival or afterwards, that can survive its first brush with expediency. Each argument lasts only as long as the soundbites require and will be replaced with a new one immediately, without hesitation, when required.

Expediency as ideology is not a senate-only device. Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia practiced it with aplomb, often resulting in lawyers and courts using his past words against him in new cases—a futile gesture. Of his "originalist," "textualist," or "institutionalist" allies, the same approach is used by All Of Them.

It's not hypocrisy if the principle all along was "whatever best increases power." And it is irrelevant if it is.

The relevant part is that it is accomplished by lying. The practitioners claim some bold new notion of how the world should work, and it is an absolute, baldfaced, bullshit-laden public lie. Those who watch McConnell or Sen. Lindsey Graham in their public appearances can easily identify, at this point, the schtick that makes up their entire persona.

They look the American public in the eye, and they simply lie to them.



It was a lie from the moment he uttered it, and there was not a person in the room who didn’t know it from the outset. The movement is devoted to lying as governing principle. It works because there are countless channels through which those lies can be disseminated, and amplified, and praised. It will continue for as long as it works.

Over and over. About everything, all the time. The Moscow Turtle has never cried a sincere tear in his life, but according to him all Democratic actions are Devastation, all Republican actions are Sorrowfully Required Due To Democratic Existence, and the rest is puppet show. Graham is superb at being outraged in showy defense of the outrageous. Sen. Marco Rubio's usual deployed device is to respond to each act of corruption or depravity with a Bible verse, typically as non sequitur, and wiping his hands of the rest of it. Sen. Susan Collins is forever concerned by gross incompetence or criminality within her movement, and remains equally as concerned the next time around, and will make good on that "concern" exactly zero times as she votes to enable each concerning act one-by-one-by-one.

It's not hypocrisy. They're just liars. Conservatism is a movement of fictions, a series of nonsense falsehoods deployed like a squid ejects ink. Nobody asks the squid whether it stands by the cloud ejaculated in the last crisis. It would be pointless. The squid doesn't remember, and can't tell you.

It is not that the nation is run by a movement of "hypocrites." The nation is run by a collection of liars.

Propagandists.

Those who issue false statements and make false claims relentlessly in order to deceive the public, or to stir their base into new heights of feverishness, or—and this is rather more to the point in this particular year—to justify and endorse criminality in service to the movement. Incompetence, if in service to the movement. A quarter million deaths, if in service to the movement.

The lies are consequential. McConnell and his allies lied their way through the impeachment of a president, simply insisting that the evidence was not evidence and the testimony not testimony. The movement has lied its way through a pandemic, turning even the most rote of pandemic safety precautions—masks, even—into conspiracies and partisan litmus tests.

When Michael Caputo and his aides insisted that children were nearly immune to the virus and could not spread it, it was not ideology. It was a lie meant to keep more of the "economy" open even if the more pertinent metric—deaths—was multiplied.

When the movement claims "antifa"—a group that does not actually exist—is behind police reform protests, it is a lie. It is propaganda intended purely to discredit protestors, and better facilitate state and militia violence against them.

When Sen. Ron Johnson pipelines the work of known Russian operatives into his committee to declare that he has discovered very serious doings, doings that suggest his opponents are secretly corrupt in ways no American law enforcement has ever been able to find, he is fully aware of his own actions. He is not stupid.

When Attorney General William Barr releases a document that grossly undermines a report on Russian election interference that benefited his party, and follows up by launching conspiracy after conspiracy all premised on the notion that it is American law enforcement that is corrupt for going after Republican targets, he is lying to the public for the sake of the party.

The movement of Republicanism is propagandistic in nature. Lies are deployed towards political ends. All involved know they are lies. All involved spread the lies willingly. Fox News exists as propaganda factory. Donald Trump exists as propaganda factory. McConnell exists as propaganda factory. The sitting attorney general, the president's odd private lawyer—the only through line is relentless lying to the public about everything, all the time, for power.

There's no textualist in conservatism. Nonsense about precedents and institutions is barely even given lip service. There are no "deficit hawks," or "small government" idealism. None of those things have survived. The only takeaway from White House press briefings is a single, fundamental point: These are today's lies. If you don't like them, there will be others tomorrow.

There is a word for all of this. Declaring that your leaders are allowed to commit crimes while demanding the arrest of enemies on false charges; the rejection of facts and the explicit declaration that the free press is an enemy of the people for presenting information that conflicts with the state's own preferred interpretations; the altering and realtering of supposed norms so that the opposition is, invariably, declared to be out of control in their requests, so out of control that it is now necessary to alter the rules of government to properly constrain them:

It is authoritarianism. The party is a propaganda movement devoted only to self-preservation. There is not a stitch of prior ideological principle that will survive from 2016 to 2020—or from 2018 on a Monday to 2018 on a Tuesday. The rules are whatever they need to be to suppress the movement's perceived enemies. Not merely for a desperately needed Supreme Court seat, but for the now-existential election and all its myriad details."  [Source]  

h/t to my sister in Seattle for sending me this article. 

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Mr. trump tests positive for the "hoax."


Approximately two days ago (or three days, depending on who you believe) the president of the United States tested positive for COVID-19. Now, like the folks at Esquire Magazine, I have some questions.  

That's it. That's all I've got for my blog post.  

This is all too overwhelming. 

*Image from Mother Jones.