Get up, stand up

25 06 2014

I look forward to SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES John Boehner filing a lawsuit against President Obama for, uh, presidenting.

After all, what other options does the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES  have in dealing with a president?

Sure, it’s possible that some incompetent bastard who slid thru the confirmation process might allow the suit to go forward, but it is far more likely that the judge, after s/he stops laughing, would gavel down the suit and yell at the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES to get out of her/his courtroom, quit wasting everyone’s time,  go back to Congress and do his job.

Hell, I’d pay five bucks for a seat in the courtroom to see that happen.

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Burning down the house

3 10 2013

h/t scarce, Crooks & Liars

Eric Giroux, sneakhype.com

memebase.cheezburger.com

I hate hate hate the term “meme”, but when searching for these images, well, I just had to compromise with myself to suck it up to get the job done.





Climb in the back with your head in the clouds

30 09 2013

As an underemployed political scientist with too many opinions to count, I really should have something to say about the whole shitty impending government shutdown (possibly/likely to be followed by a truly catastrophic debt default) and meth-heads on the floor of the Congress who are so wasted on the the fumes of an ressentiment-contaminated ideology that they think the first is a good idea and the second no big deal—BUT. . . I can’t.

I just fucking can-not.

Jesus H. Christ.





No no no no no no

6 09 2013

I don’t know if it’ll do any good, but when has futility ever been a reason not to act?

I finally contacted my congressmember, Yvette Clarke, and senators Gillibrand and Schumer and urged them to vote NO on any military action in Syria.

I was only going to contact Congressmember Clarke, certain that my senators would be in favor of such strikes, but both are undecided (Clarke is apparently leaning no). I kept it short—250 words—ticking off my skepticism about the point/effectiveness of unilateral military action rather than laying out an entire manifesto against the-US-as-world-cop; no reason to inflict a screed on some poor intern.

I am sorry to oppose a president who I generally support, but I am even more sorry that he is pursuing a lousy, even dangerous, course of action. The situation in Syria is terrible, but I don’t see how unilateral military strikes by the US will make anything better.





Whisper to a scream

6 06 2013

Why aren’t I screaming?

After all, one guy points his camera at the windows of a nearby building and I rant about privacy and presumption; Google wants to equip people with awkward glass and I grouch about techno-coercion; and surveillance drones? Oy, don’t get me started.

So you’d think the revelations of NSA scooping up basic phone information on everyone as well as everything that’s posted online, would cause my ears to blow clean off of my head.

Except, nope.

Not because I don’t think it’s a big deal—I think it’s a very big deal—but because this is all completely unfuckingsurprising.

This isn’t about Obama or Bush, but about a dynamic of presidential politics wherein the executive will grab as much power as he can, especially when the Congress orders him to do so. Some constitutional scholars have speculated that the Obama administration’s actions are unconstitutional, but it’s not at all clear that a Supreme Court which thinks swiping some DNA from every arrested person is okey-dokey by the Fourth Amendment is going to push back against both the president and Congress on NATIONALSECURITY!!!! matters.

Will Congress do anything? Ha. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) might now be ‘extremely troubled’ by revelations over the extent of data-hoovering, but just what the fuck did an author of the execrable PATRIOT Act think would happen when said Act howled ‘AAAARRGGHH! SAAAAVE US!’ to the president.

And We the People? We want to be safe and secure, so if we have to take off our shoes at airports or belts before entering federal buildings or open our bags before getting on trains, then that’s what we’ll do. Oh, sure, we might grumble, but will we press our representatives and our senators to chop back the national security apparatus or reign in the president? We will not.

In fact, if, say, two young men happen to set off two bombs at a city celebration we’ll wonder where was the FBI and the CIA and the Dept of Homeland Security and what more can be done to keep this from ever happening again.

This is overstatement, of course: many of us will say, Hey, this couldn’t have been prevented, there are limits as to what can or should be done. But this shrug (or stoicism, if you prefer) won’t go much further than our living rooms, and those motivated to take their security-skepticism to the halls of Congress might meet a few sympathetic legislators, but not enough to change anything.

Maybe the courts will manage to rouse themselves from the stupor induced by NATIONALSECURITY!!! hypnosis and remember that the Constitution also has something to say about liberty and due process and, oh yes, ‘the right of the people to be secure in their own person‘—but I ain’t counting on it.

This, then, is why I’m not screaming: It would be a waste of perfectly good breath.

~~~

h/t for Joshua Foust link: James Fallows





Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted

28 06 2012

Did not expect that.

No, I didn’t know what the Supreme Court would do, but as a Professional Pessimist, it is my sworn duty to think the worst. And the worst did not come to pass.

Should I note here my pinko preference for a socialistic universal socialistic single-payer socialistic public socialistic health care socialistic plan? Okay, why not: I’da preferred a single-payer, Medicare-for-all, what have you, plan, but the Affordable Care Act seems to (only recently re-insured) me an improvement over the (former) status quo, a movement toward justice, and thus worthy of support on its own merits.

As to the politics, well, a win from the Supremes helps those who I want to win in November: it doesn’t wipe out all of the effort of the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats, and amongst the great majority of voters who are not yet paying attention to the election this decision sends the sorta-subliminal message of Obama as a winner.

Americans like winners.

In any case, I have nothing to offer on details of the constitutional interpretation or of the long-term consequences of the apparent limitations on the commerce clause, but I want to plant my flag on a particular patch of political pedantry: I am relieved that the Court upheld the law not just or even primarily because I like the law, but because I believe—strongly—that the Congress ought to be able to legislate. The Court is supreme over all other courts, but it is not and should not be supreme over the other two branches.

Now, insofar as I believe the Court ought vigorously defend the Constitution and believe it has a particular role in upholding the rights of minorities against encroachment by majorities, this seems an untenable position for me to take. Ah, hell, perhaps it is: how else can the Court defend the Constitution and minority rights without asserting its powers over and above those of the Congress and the executive branch? It would be suspiciously convenient for me to say that in case where the Court rules in favor of Guantanamo detainees, say, that they are merely preventing the other two branches from elevating themselves above the Constitution.

Yeah, way too convenient.

I guess I mean to say: Legislators should be free to legislate, political questions should be decided in the political arena, and those who pass the laws should not be able either to hide behind the Court or use the courts to accomplish in the judicial branch what they could not accomplish in the legislative.

Again, damned difficult balancing act, but I think the more we (citizens, legislators) rely on the courts to settle political disagreements, the less responsibility we require from those legislators. I think we ought to live with the consequences of who we elect to public office, and using the courts to buffer us from those consequences distorts the political process.

For similar reasons, I’m foursquare in favor of filibuster reform or even elimination: if we elect idiots and bullies to office, then we shouldn’t be surprised to see them pass idiotic and mean legislation. What’s the old line? We dance with the ones that brung us. Well, if we don’t like how they dance, maybe we’ll be a little more careful in choice of dates.

Oh, crap, this is all going off the rails, isn’t it? Let me put this another way: I believe in responsible government, in accountability, and as the justices of the Supreme Court are not accountable to us, then I choose to concentrate on the members of those institutions which are.

So: Yay for the Affordable Care Act! Yay for Obama! And yay for politics!





American idiot, part deux, drei, quatro. . .

17 02 2012

Delegate Marshall, meet Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Representative Issa put together the following panel of experts  for “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

photo via Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Notice anything about this panel? Uh-huh.

The one woman who was invited (by Democrats) to testify, third-year law student at Georgetown Susan Fluke, was blocked from doing so by Issa.

Democrats Elijah Cummings (MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), and Carolyn Maloney (NY) responded by walking out.

Issa offered his own response to the criticism of the all-male panel by Twittering a photo of Martin Luther King and noting We hear from religious leaders whose positions might not be popular, like MLK’s was not so long ago.

Yes, the anti-birth control men on this panel are exactly like Martin Luther King.

Oh, and should we talk about Foster Friess, the genius moneypot behind Rick Santorum’s candidacy? Y’know, the guy who joked (?) to Andrea Mitchell that On this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly* ?

Okay, let’s not.

Finally, the reproductive specialists in the Virginia House of Delegates have been joined by the embyrologists in the Oklahoma Senate, which just passed its own personhood bill.

Unfuckingbelievable—in no small part because it is all too fuckingbelievable.

Anyway, I give the last word on bad laws to Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, who hammers (surprise!) Virginia’s new ultrasound-before-abortion law, one which will require most women to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound:

. . . Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attention would ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

. . .

Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a woman without consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.

. . .

Of course, the bill is unconstitutional. The whole point of the new abortion bans is to force the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade. It’s unconstitutional to place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, although it’s anyone’s guess what, precisely, that means. One would be inclined to suspect, however, that unwanted penetration with a medical device violates either the undue burden test or the right to bodily autonomy. But that’s the other catch in this bill. Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)*

A-yup. As Lithwick noted, Today was not a good day in the War on Women.

_____

*I actually heard this for the first time when I was 16 or 17 and one of the women at the NOW meeting I attended joked that this was the birth control advice she had been given. She lay down on the couch and demonstrated how it was supposed to work; the visual made all the difference.)

(Photo h/t Melissa McEwan, Shakesville; Issa Tweet h/t Alex Seitz-Wald, ThinkProgress; and one, too, for Emily Hauser, just because.) (Update: and dmf! dmf, who commented on the OK bill yesterday.)