Did you ever see such a sight in your life

8 10 2019

Started my morning by hoisting a dead mouse out of the back of my replacement fridge.

How was your day?

~~~

I started reading Jonathan Bernstein when he wrote ‘a plain blog about politics’, then when he moved to Bloomberg, and I follow him on Twitter. I think he’s smart and knows a great deal about how American politics has worked.

I didn’t always agree with him—he’s been far more bullish on Madisonian federalism than I—but as a non-Americanist and grump, I thought—and think—it worthwhile to pay attention to an optimistic Americanist.

However, that optimism can skew the fuck out of his thinking:

Good government is tremendously important, but positing that the best way to get Republicans—a party Bernstein has recognized is FUBAR—to go along with impeachment is to take Pelosi out of the chain of succession is  . . .  what? getting high on his own supply? the slateyist of #slatepitches as ever were? at the level of “I’m not saying aliens, but. . . “?

Not it, chief.

~~~

I got the replacement fridge yesterday, after a months-long campaign to convince the super that my old fridge was, in fact, on the fritz. (The thermostat was rather too free-form, allowing it to get warm enough for ice cubes to melt, then powering on so fiercely anything in the back half of the fridge would freeze. This likely had something to do with the drip from the freezer into the fridge.)

A new one would have resulted in a rent increase; I told him I just wanted one that worked.

~~~

Again, I’d like us to get back to functionality, but I don’t see how Dems smashing their own kneecaps will do that.

No, the system has broken down—the Republicans broke the system down—and inviting Dems to break themselves as a means of repair is. . . not it, chief.

~~~

So the supe brought up a working fridge from the basement. And yes, it does work! Yay!

But it had also been in the basement for awhile. A basement in a building in Brooklyn. A basement in a building in Brooklyn next to a subway line. The chance of infestation was high, is what I’m saying.

Which I didn’t think about, because Yay! It works!

~~~

I’m leery of offering advice to people who don’t ask for it, and especially not to people I don’t know.

So let’s call this “Terri stating her preferences” for Dem actions: Yield nothing to Republicans. Nothing. Not one thing.

I don’t trust that any kind of compromise is going to be honored by Republicans, and that they won’t go back to SMASH!! the second they get the chance. At this point, we’re dealing not with an opponent willing to engage in reasoned debate, but bad-faith actors who will only forced back into line.

And it’s up to the Dems both to draw that line and punish them for crossing it.

~~~

But by last night something smelled rotten, and I thought, ohhhhhh, I bet there’s something dead in the fridge.

Shiiiiiiit.

It was late, and I thought, do I really want to confront . . . whatever is there at night?

No, I do not. And the smell didn’t reach my bedroom.

~~~

That said, the punishment must be to a greater cause than just payback. I’m not against payback—as much as it’s not my thing (I’m more the walk-away/freeze-out kinda gal), I can recognize the satisfactions—but I think it far better to do something productive with power, if/when the Dems finally achieve it.

~~~

This morning the smell was pretty bad, so before I had my breakfast or coffee, I pulled the fridge out, then with a sigh began to unscrew the lower back panel. It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I pulled it out: just what the hell would I find? or worse, what would come racing out at me?

I peeked in. Nothing. Nothing. Ah, yes, there it is: mouse corpse. Only one, that I could see, and nothing else moving.

~~~

So, my preference would be for Dems to add more judges at the district and circuit courts of appeals levels and, yes, to add 2 seats to the Supreme Court. And to fill them.

~~~

Grabbed some tongs, reached in, tugged the corpse out. I cleaned out the back while I was at it, then swept up and took the dusty funeral cortège to the garbage chute.

I then carpeted the whole area with baking soda, screwed the back panel back on, and shoved the fridge back into place.

~~~

The concern with court-packing is that the GOP would do the same when they next get power.

Now, I think they’ll do whatever it takes to tilt everything in their favor, so the idea that they might behave badly in response to the Dems doing something they don’t like is unpersuasive: they’ll behave badly anyway.

~~~

It still doesn’t smell great in here—I think it’ll take time for the baking soda to absorb all that corpse nastiness—but I’m pretty confident I got the source of the stink out.

~~~

That said, I do think the incentive to fuck with the Supreme Court can be reduced: at the same time Dems expand the Court to eleven, they introduce a Constitutional amendment to limit SC terms to 18-to-21 years (I’ve seen various proposals for why x or y-number of years, but it’s late and I’m too lazy to look up the arguments)—and they could write it in such a way that the term limit would apply to any justice who takes a seat after the date of introduction.

So, for example, Dems could in February or March pass legislation expanding the Supreme Court effective May 1, 2021. The amendment could state that term limits would apply to any justice confirmed May 1, 2021 and after.

~~~

Then again, if the smell doesn’t dissipate, I’ll have to go back in and search for more nastiness.

I really don’t want to have to do that, but I don’t need my apartment smelling like death.

~~~

I have no idea if this could work, and who knows if the Constitutional amendment would pass, but I think term-limits for Supreme Court justices is not a particularly partisan issue; having them apply to the new Dem-appointed justices might just help take just a bit of the sting out of the court-packing.

Oh, who am I kidding: the GOP will scream regardless. Tough shit. But maybe this will, over the longer term, help to take some of the partisan pressure off of Supreme Court picks: if every president is assured (more or less) of 1 selection per term, then this nonsense of holding open a seat (Merrick Garland!) or rushing to fill one (Kavanaugh!) might taper off.

In my dreams, I know, but what the hell, why not some late-night political dreaming?

~~~

And you, too: sweet dreams.





Which side are you on

15 07 2014

A few more short thoughts on recent Supreme Court decisions, and some connections between them:

1. That mashupCorporations are people, my friends, and some people are more equal than others—is a distressingly apt line:

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings—AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and American Express v. Italian Colors—have deeply undercut these centuries-old public rights, by empowering businesses to avoid any threat of private lawsuits or class actions. The decisions culminate a thirty-year trend during which the judiciary, including initially some prominent liberal jurists, has moved to eliminate courts as a means for ordinary Americans to uphold their rights against companies. The result is a world where corporations can evade accountability and effectively skirt swaths of law, pushing their growing power over their consumers and employees past a tipping point.

2. Is the Court’s contempt for labor leading or following a more general social contempt for labor?

3. Remember, reproductive labor is the first form of labor, the basis of all other labor.

.

And one non-Court related note:

I will never be an orthodox Marxist—I lack the optimism required of the orthodox—but if you want to understand the political culture in the US today, you’d do worse than to start with the domination of capital over our entire political-economy.

This doesn’t mean that all is determined by capitalist relations, that there is no autonomous space for politics and culture, or that there is no resistance to capital.

But it does mean that you can understand a lot if you understand that if capital is up against any other interest—labor, community, environmental, educational, safety, public—capital almost always wins.

If capital has no interest, then the politics is up for grabs.

We are left fighting over scraps.





I am everyday people

6 07 2014

“Corporations are people, my friends, and some people are more equal than others.”

BruceJ, with an apt mash-up.





Hey baby, it’s the fourth of July

4 07 2014

Oh, it just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

Well, hell, on this fine day of independence (in declaration, if not fact), why not some X to remind us of what a long, strange trip we’re on?

Okay, so Exene may have gone off her rocker, but haven’t/won’t we all?

Here’s to weird old America. . . .





Are we not men

2 07 2014

I freaked out about Hobby Lobby a few months ago, so while I was pissed at the ruling, by the time it arrived I was all freaked-out.

There’s a shit-ton of good (and lousy) commentary out there about the ruling—which means I’ma gonna pass on Fisking Alito’s decision (which, by the way, Supreme Bad-Ass Ruth Bader-Ginsburg does just fine in her opinion, beg. on p. 60) and tick off a few hits:

1. This decision is terrible for equal protection of the law, offering an out from laws of general applicability, based on the sincerely? insincerely? held beliefs of those seeking the out.

Yes, Alito & Kennedy say, No, no, that’s not what we really mean, but whether or not they are sincere in their meanings, that will be the practical effect.

2. It is difficult to see how the courts and the Court can avoid favoritism in choosing to exempt contraception-banners but not transfusion- or psychiatry-banners. [see point 3, pp. 5-6]

Which means they either engage in favoritism, allow Congress to engage in favoritism, or allow the exemptions.

3. It is not at all difficult to see why contraception was singled out as exempt-worthy but transfusions and psychiatry might not be.

Guess! Guess!

4. Given how weird and not-wonderful our politics has become, this ruling may actually work against religious conservatives, and will be used (likely to some effect) in campaigns against Republicans.

Religious conservatives have done a pretty good job of complaining how wee and woebegone they all are, under assault from the gay agenda and atheist meanies and a hostile Obama administration—which complaints, however ginned up, did form out of a juniper seed of fact: a majority of the country now accepts gay marriage, some atheists are mean, and Obama has pushed hard on protections for LGBT folk.

So, religious folks on sexual matters: on the defensive.

Now, however, those same religious folks may lose their “underdog” status and may—may—be seen less as bullied than bullies, or at least as above the law.

Which, y’know, they are.

5. This decision really is bad for women, not just because it makes it easier for employers to deny contraceptive coverage to them, but because it further segregates “sexual health” from “health”.

And no, I’m not even going to begin to link to all of the idiots who think sex is dirty or nasty or not somehow an integral part of human being.

6. This decision, combined with the Harris v. Quinn decision chipping away at public sector unions, is bad for everyone.

As Sarah Jaffe noted,

Attacks on all workers’ rights often come first through attacks on those deemed less important workers. When we decide that birth control isn’t a pivotal issue because it only affects some workers, or that homecare workers’ loss is not a loss for us all, we leave the door open for the next attack.

7. From another angle, it is difficult to see how an expansion of the rights of the corporate person is good for corporeal persons.

This last point deserves more thought, thought which I don’t have right now. Let’s just say that it seems that as the rights of one expands, the other contracts.

~~~

h/t Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money for the Jaffe link





Wait a minute honey, I’m gonna add it up

30 06 2014

Jesus fucking christ.

FireShot Screen Capture #001

Unions screwed, women screwed out of protected screwing.





Hear me roar

25 03 2014

I cannot fucking believe that the Supreme Court might rule in favor of Hobby Lobby.

It just. . . it’s. . . it makes no fucking sense what.so.ever.

One law. One fucking law for all. Is that so hard to understand?

You’d think Scalia would get this, he of the Smith decision who wrote that

We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs [494 U.S. 872, 879]   excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594 -595 (1940): “Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities (footnote omitted).” We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said, “are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” Id., at 166-167.

[. . .]

[re US v. Lee] . . . There would be no way, we observed, to distinguish the Amish believer’s objection to Social Security taxes from the religious objections that others might have to the collection or use of other taxes. “If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.”

[ . . .]

Precisely because “we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference,” Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S., at 606 , and precisely because we value and protect that religious divergence, we cannot afford the luxury of deeming presumptively invalid, as applied to the religious objector, every regulation of conduct that does not protect an interest of the highest order. The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind. . .

[. . .]

It may fairly be said that leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in; but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself or in which judges weigh the social importance of all laws against the centrality of all religious beliefs. [emph added]

Now, yes, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed to counter the Smith decision, but when individuals tried to use RFRA to argue against paying taxes, the Court say, in effect, “nuh-uh”, that the requirement of tax payment met the “compelling government interest” test.

Ensuring that women have access to a full range of medical care, including that of counseling and advice regarding our birth control options, may not, however, be sufficiently “compelling”.

Taxes: yes! Control over one’s body and health? Nah.

As Dahlia Lithwick observes,

The rights of millions of women to preventive health care and workplace equality elicit almost no sign of sympathy or solicitude from the right wing of the bench today. Nor does the possibility that religious conscience objections may soon swallow up the civil rights laws protecting gay workers, women, and other minorities. Religious freedom trumps because we’re “only” talking about birth control.





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!





Happy anniversary, kinda

22 01 2012

It’s the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There may not be many more.

The decision has been politically attacked, and has been honeycombed by any number of succeeding Supreme Court decisions, but as of today, it still stands.

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment‘s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment‘s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation. . . .

Although the results are divided, most of these courts have agreed that the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute, and is subject to some limitations; and that, at some point, the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life, become dominant. We agree with this approach.

–Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority.

I am, as I’ve written numerous times previously, an abortion-rights militant, to the point of opposition to any state regulation of abortion beyond that regulating the safety of medical procedures generally.

Still, I consider Roe v. Wade a victory for the rights of women, and when it is overturned or so hollowed out that it effectively collapses—something which I think will happen, likely before its 50th anniversary—I will mourn its passing.

Today, however, I celebrate it.