Lochner? I Hardly Know 'er!
Activist judges used the 14th Amendment to toss labor laws. Holmes dissented:
It is settled by various decisions of this court that state constitutions and state laws may regulate life in many ways which we as legislators might think as injudicious, or if you like as tyrannical, as this, and which, equally with this, interfere with the liberty to contract. Sunday laws and usury laws are ancient examples. A more modern one is the prohibition of lotteries. The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same, which has been a shibboleth for some well-known writers, is interfered with by school laws, by the Postoffice, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not. The 14th Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics. The other day we sustained the Massachusetts vaccination law. Jacobson v. Massachusetts...
United States and state statutes and decisions cutting down the liberty to contract by way of combination are familiar to this court...Some of these laws embody convictions or prejudices which judges are likely to share. Some may not. But a Constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the state or of laissez faire.
Naturally, Republicans wish Lochner were still the regime today. Because government isn't instituted to help protect a variety of liberties, only do stay out of the way as the freedom to exploit others runs amok. Damn those Reconstruction Amendments!
Je La Tu La Ti La Twah
You Know Who Else Loved Productive Mothers?
Amanda tells us about a lovely scandal:
Back in November 2013, Doug Phillips, who, in his capacity as the president of Vision Forum Ministries, is probably the most important leader in the world of Biblical patriarchy, confessed to cheating on his wife and resigned as president of his ministry. “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he wrote. “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Shortly after his confession, Vision Forum Ministries closed up shop, unable to continue with the stink of sex scandal upon them.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of Phillips in the small world of extreme fundamentalists. His father is one of the most critical founding fathers of the Christian right movement generally, and Doug extended his work by largely building this culture of the far Christian right as we know it, especially if you watch 19 Kids & Counting. The Duggar family are friends and acolytes of Phillips, and Vision Forum, in turn, has used Michelle Duggar in their efforts to demonize contraception, including giving her an award for “Mother of the Year” for having so many children.
Mrs Breeding Vat would've qualified for Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter (1st Class), like...two times over (and counting). Yeah, I went there.
Silver Liquor Of The Spirits
Buzz Aldrin spied a plain from space: twice Rhode Island-sized,not a glacier but this vast evaporation, a place so flat we use its planeto calibrate the altitude of satellites, measure the retreat of polar ice.A dry lagoon of element. Energy. Winking like a coin in a well.
Too Much Heaven On Their Minds
He deigned to appear for a moment to the people
Oh, here's a bit of The Grand Inquisitor:
Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread.
Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? "Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!" that's what they'll write on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple.
Oh, never, never can they feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious.
It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her loathsome body.
But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest." Know that I fear Thee not...Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if anyone has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. To-morrow I shall burn Thee. Dixi.
When the Inquisitor ceased speaking he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man longed for him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all his answer. The old man shuddered. His lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him: 'Go, and come no more... come not at all, never, never!' And he let Him out into the dark alleys of the town. The Prisoner went away.
Wait, Are We China Or North Korea?
Of That Day And Hour Knoweth No Man
No, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only:
Pastor John Hagee is warning members of his megachurch to prepare for the end of the world because a “blood moon” eclipse on Tuesday is signaling that the End Times could be beginning.
On Tuesday, most of the United States will be treated to the first of four complete lunar eclipses — which scientists call a tetrad — occurring in six month intervals. The eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because as sunlight shines on the moon through the Earth’s atmosphere, it gives the moon a red color.
Hagee, pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, has written a book on the phenomenon titled Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. And he is airing a live television event on Tuesday to reveal “direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.”
Dude, that ancient nomadic desert shepherd tribe called and want their myths back. And, for the record, it was Comet ISON that portended doom. Derp.
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d
O western orb sailing the heaven,Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on,)As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,)As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.
Didn't stay up to see the Blood Moon because I'm too old and anyway it was rainy.
Here's A Little Handel
Plowing through detritus in the woods.
Suuuuuch a nice day.
Yes, she can say 'rock'. And can throw.
More State Suicide
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Republican Party’s Resolutions Committee voted to endorse a proposal expressing the party’s support for “legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede...”
Though there is no shortage of irony to the Party of Lincoln now morphing into the Party of Secession, this Wisconsin resolution is part of a larger pattern of conservatives questioning the legitimacy of the United States as a nation. Last week, several major conservative media figures, including Fox News’ Sean Hannity, promoted the cause of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who says that “I don’t recognize [the] United States Government as even existing.” On Saturday, federal officials announced that they would stop trying to enforce a court order against Bundy, at least for now, because of the potential for violence that resulted after armed right-wing militia members rallied to Bundy’s cause.
I guess they have the right to commit suicide and thus lose all their rights...
Take You In The Sun To Promised Lands
Rent-seeking Run Amok
Four years ago Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, abruptlycanceled America’s biggest and arguably most important infrastructure project, a desperately needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Count me among those who blame his presidential ambitions, and believe that he was trying to curry favor with the government- and public-transit-hating Republican base.
Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread’s tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds — three-thousandths of a second — off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn’t tells you a lot about what’s wrong with America today.
[S]pending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that’s part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.
How much waste are we talking about? A paper by Thomas Philippon of New York University puts it at several hundred billion dollars a year.
Mr. Philippon starts with the familiar observation that finance has grown much faster than the economy as a whole. Specifically, the share of G.D.P. accruing to bankers, traders, and so on has nearly doubled since 1980, when we started dismantling the system of financial regulation created as a response to the Great Depression.
What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses — but that’s a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street’s crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.
Alternately: Rentiers! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the profit motive, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
Comparing Apples And Polio
On FB the other day there was a dude who claimed he wasn't an anti-vaxxer. He asked rhetorical questions like, "do you realize how many vaccines there are today?" and, "why shouldn't parents be concerned about toxins like mercury in them?" Etc. So yeah, an anti-vaxxer--some of them, I've noticed, try to play the same game as Intelligent Design proponenst.
He also suggested we should be skeptical because, you know, corporations manufacture them and golly, Jonas Salk didn't make any money from his polio breakthrough:
On April 12, 1955, Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk who owned the patent to the polio vaccine. “Well, the people, I would say,” Salk responded. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Over the last half-century, Salk’s rhetorical question to Murrow has become a rallying cry for those who campaign against pharmaceutical company profiteering. To many, it represents a generous view of scientific discovery distilled down to a beautiful simplicity. One critic of the big pharma called Salk “the foster parent of children around the world with no thought of the money he could make by withholding the vaccine from the children of the poor.”
In fact, Salk’s three-sentence response to Murrow is a dangerous intuition pump—a misdirection from complex questions. It represents an easy but wrongheaded way to avoid the messy work of constructing a system to incentivize medical breakthroughs and make them widely available in the context of 21st-century economic realities. That’s not to say Salk was a propagandist or a panderer—he probably meant every word he said. But his thoughts on the polio vaccine applied to a specific situation at a specific time in our history.
“People worked on the polio vaccine like it was the Normandy invasion,” says Jane Smith, author of the book Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine. More than 650,000 children were vaccinated. Their doctors had to submit forms, and public health officials tracked the information. Then it all had to happen again for placebo and control groups.
In the single year that the polio vaccine was unveiled, 80 million people donated money to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which spearheaded the vaccine effort. Many donors could only afford a few cents, but gave anyway (hence the foundation’s modern name, the March of Dimes). Schools, communities, and companies joined in a remarkable display of unity against the disease. Even Walt Disney’s cartoon characters contributed their talents, appearing in a film that adapted the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ song “Heigh Ho” to an anti-polio ditty. In the 13 years leading up to the vaccine’s roll out, the budget of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis swelled from $3 million to $50 million. An entire generation of microbiologists received money from the foundation, which even played a role in Watson and Crick’s description of DNA.
There was near unanimity within the organization that the public had already paid for the polio vaccine through their donations, and patenting it for profit would have represented double charging. That’s what Jonas Salk should have said to Murrow—not that all vaccines belong to the people, but rather that this vaccine belonged to the people.
The decision not to patent the vaccine made perfect economic sense under the circumstances. “The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was a nonprofit, centralized research and development operation,” says Robert Cook-Deegan, who studies intellectual property and genomics at Duke University. “They didn’t need an incentive structure.”
The landscape has shifted since Salk’s heyday. The U.S. government is now the primary applicant for vaccine-related patents, followed by GlaxoSmithKline and a number of other corporations. Private groups, like the Pasteur Institute, are also active. Responsibility for vaccine development is more evenly distributed now than in the 1950s, and that’s a good thing.
That was then, this is now. Even if Salk were a saint who nobly forsook profit for his miraculous innoculation, it's not entirely clear to me that would be a great model or ever something that could be replicated.
It should also be noted that the profit motive in this case sucks. Vaccines ain't big money makers and are actually a risky business, which is why we need different protections and incentives to make sure they keep being developed and manufactured. That's not to suggest they don't generate revenue, but there's more gold in them that boner pills, and to suggest Big Pharma has pushed mandatory immunization to profit is as unsupported as claiming Big Pharma is funding the anti-vax movement.
And the only thing Salk proves is that vaccines are a necessary and effective.
Then I Recommend Huckabee Move To North Korea
Speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, Huckabee opined that “threats and affronts to our freedom today are so incredibly frightening.”
“Freedom of speech in this country, that for which the men grabbed their muskets off the mantel, did never mean that we’re to have fewer voices, but more voices,” the former Arkansas governor said at the event, which was sponsored by Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity and Citizens United.
“My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,” he continued. “When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position while people put hands all over me. And I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms, and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane.”
Huckabee added: “But if I want to go vote, I don’t need a thing. All I got to do is show up and I can give them anybody’s name, and that’s okay.”
My gosh, I'm beginning to think that Huckster is just a fucking troll. So what's his solution to making us more free than the DPRK? Banning abortion and gay marriage, and letting the Kochs buy elections whilst requiring photo ID to eliminate non-existant voter fraud?
Obamacare Strawmen Come In Many Sizes
[A]s early estimates of the newly ensured under Obamacare’s implementation are rolling in, it’s time to write a second draft of history — one that doesn’t include anything about John Roberts “upholding” or “saving” Obamacare. Because that’s an odd way to describe a decision that gutted the most effective part of the law.
I'm not sure I've heard anybody suggest that Roberts "upheld" or "saved" Obamacare. Certainly people have noted his decision didn't toss out the individual mandate which, while it's not the entirety of the law or something that has directly increased coverage, it's certainly the cornerstone of the entire regime and what enables the ban on pre-existing conditions.
No argument from me that the best part of the law is its Medicaid expansion. From a policy and constitutional perspective Roberts was egregiously in error giving states the ability to opt out, costing many millions of Americans access to healthcare, which is a moral travesty.
The article is fundamentally correct. I just don't think it's a useful exercise to frame it with what strikes me as a click-bait strawman, nor does it help the law to suggest it's been "gutted" when it is still operating mostly as intended. Medicaid expansion has, in fact, happened in many states. And thanks to the effort of outgoing HHS Sec'y Sebelius, that's true even in Red States.
Obamacare itself is a suboptimal solution to our healthcare system's issues, and the Roberts Court's ruling was suboptimal as well. Let's just not overstate things in either direction.
The Drum Of War Thunders And Thunders
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
When will you stand to your full height,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1917).
I See The Bad Moon Arisin'
I love the Darwin Fish:
If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in water, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land. And these species, in turn, must be the ancestors of four-limbed, land-living vertebrates like us.
Sure enough, in 2004, scientists found one of those transitional species: Tiktaalik roseae, a 375 million-year-old Devonian period specimen discovered in the Canadian Arctic by paleontologist Neil Shubin and his colleagues. Tiktaalik, explains Shubin on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, is an "anatomical mix between fish and a land-living animal."
"It has a neck," says Shubin, a professor at the University of Chicago. "No fish has a neck. And you know what? When you look inside the fin, and you take off those fin rays, you find an upper arm bone, a forearm, and a wrist." Tiktaalik, Shubin has observed, was a fish capable of doing a push-up. It had both lungs and gills. In sum, it's quite the transitional form.
Shubin's bestselling book about his discovery, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, uses the example of Tiktaalik and other evolutionary evidence to trace how our own bodies share similar structures not only with close relatives like chimpanzees or orangutans, but indeed, with far more distant relatives like fish. Think of it as an extensive unpacking of a famous line by Charles Darwin from his book, The Descent of Man: "Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."And now, PBS has adapted Your Inner Fish as a three-part series (you can watch the first installment here), using the irrepressible Shubin as a narrator who romps from Pennsylvania roadsides to the melting Arctic in search of fossils that elucidate the natural history of our own anatomy.
Gonna have to check the show out. Already added the book to my Wishlist.
Please Pass The Pudding
Oh, how I love Athenae:
"Gay marriage" being legal doesn't marginalize "religion," just some flavors of some faiths, not all of which have made up their doctrinal minds on the subject.
Marginalizing cetain ostentatious displays of faux Christianity isn't marginalizing "religion," either, unless you define religion down to the six things your sanctimonious sister-in-law is pissed about this week. Taking a bunch of fake issues that have fuck-all to do with the actual practice of religion in this country and using incorrect assumptions about them to agree with the general wingnut position that Christianity is somehow under siege, is ... reductive, at best.
Read the rest of her delicious punch down on Kevin Mushy Middle Drum.
Why Won't Obama Enforce Grazing Laws?
Revisiting those plucky ranchers and militiamen who never heard of the General Land Office, I see the Bureau of Land Management has backed off (probably wisely). I look forward to Sen Grassley's condemnation of Obama for not clamping down on these scofflaws with greater force.
Naturally, The Rothschilds Must Be Involved
The Copernican Model is a Jewish conspiracy!
The new geocentrists believe scientists have conspired for centuries to undermine religious faith by promoting the heliocentric model of the universe proposed by Copernicus and famously championed by Galileo.
“Just as there are those on one extreme who incorrectly hold that science is antithetical to faith because they have a false or incomplete understanding of philosophy and/or religion, we have the geocentrists on the other extreme who reach the same incorrect conclusion, but because they have a false and/or incomplete understanding of science — and even their own faith,” Palm said. “For these geocentrists, their personal understanding of faith trumps all appeal to reason and physical evidence.”
The view has attracted a rogue’s gallery of crackpots who promote a stupefying variety of conspiracy theories – usually anti-Semitic – that casts doubt on the lunar landing, the Holocaust, and the official investigations into 9/11, the JFK assassination, and even the sinking of the Titanic.
One adherent blames the waning popularity of the King James Bible translation for rising sea levels, while others believe Jews control NASA — which Sungenis himself believes creates crop circles using lasers or plasma projectors.
“All NASA would have to do is put a digital pattern in a laser/plasma projector aboard a satellite and then shoot it down to earth, and presto, you have a crop circle,” Sungenis wrote. “It gets everybody talking about UFOs. But really, all they are doing is getting our minds off the Bible and Christ by making it look like neither are true.”
Well. That's quite the anti-semitic, anti-science onion to peel.
Pull The Other One, Jenny
She's anti-vax and anti-truth:
Jeffrey Kluger is a science writer for Time magazine. He interviewed [Jenny] McCarthy in 2009 about this issue, and she mentions that interview in her OpEd piece. Kluger disagrees vehemently with what she wrote in the OpEd, to say the very least.
I can see why. Here is what she writes in the OpEd:“People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,” I told Time Magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. “Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.”
But Kluger points out that she left the last line out of that quotation. Here’s the whole thing:People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines. Please understand that we are not an antivaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins. If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f*cking measles.
Huh. That last line rather changes the changes the tone of her position considerably, wouldn’t you agree? That’s a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don’t cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism.
Kluger finishes with this:Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it’s just too late to play cute with the things you’ve said. You are either floridly, loudly, uninformedly antivaccine or you are the most grievously misunderstood celebrity of the modern era. Science almost always prefers the simple answer, because that’s the one that’s usually correct. Your quote trail is far too long—and you have been far too wrong—for the truth not to be obvious.
I like Plait's line earlier in his piece about injecting botulin and her saying anything with a straight face. I wish we could put her toxic face and fake boobs in jail for endangering public health.
Oh, This Is Rich
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) attacked President Barack Obama on Friday night over his support of same-sex marriage. Mediaite reported that Huckabee was appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” with substitute host Laura Ingraham when he made disparaging remarks about the president’s Christian faith.
In 2008, said Huckabee, Obama stated that his Christian faith kept him from wholeheartedly endorsing same-sex marriage. Then in 2012, he reversed that decision, which Huckabee sees as a desertion of Obama’s “Christian principles.”
“Does he have them or does he not?” the pastor-turned-Fox-News-host demanded to know.
By God, the old man could handle a spade
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slapOf soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edgeThrough living roots awaken in my head.But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.Between my finger and my thumbThe squat pen rests.I’ll dig with it.
The Colours, Even, Accord With The Tenor Of The Day
These days are best when one goes nowhere,The house a reservoir of quiet change,The creak of furniture, the window panesBrushed by the half-rhymes of activitiesThat do not quite declare what thing it wasGave rise to them outside.
Erbarme dich, Mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen!
Which Chamber Do You Serve, Mr Cruz?
I really do love this guy:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached because the Justice Department has failed to fully investigate the IRS scandal.
"Among other things, Congress should impeach Eric Holder because Eric Holder is defying Congress and defying rule of law," Cruz said on conservative host Sean Hannity's radio show on Thursday.
Besides the fact that there's no there there with the IRS "scandal", it's amusing on a couple levels that a US Senator would suggest that "Congress" should impeach Holder.
Imagine There Was No Louisiana Purchase
Ah, so some "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" rancher now has armed militias defending him from paying grazing fees. These strict constructionists claim the Constitution doesn't allow the Federal gummint to own lands. It's fairly clear they are in error.
What they're rally saying, of course, is that there is no United States beyond the 13 original colonies. Because otherwise the nation would never have been able to acquire land to then dispose of in the form of territories and states.
Anyway, have fun stormin' da castle!
House Needs New Roof, Let's Burn It Down
Don't make eye contact and move away slowly:
Fox News gave Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) the opportunity Friday to say that he would use the confirmation of the next Health and Human Services Secretary as an instrument in his quixotic quest to repeal Obamacare.
"I think Burwell presents an ideal opportunity to examine the failures that are Obamacare. And four years ago, reasonable minds could have differed over whether this thing might work," Cruz said. "Today, seeing the disaster, seeing the trainwreck that is Obamacare, in my view, it is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge this thing isn't working. We need to start over, repeal every word of it. Start over."
Why stop there? Let's call for a convention and get rid of the Constitution, or at least the Senate.
All Around The World
Speaking Of Anti-commandeering Doctrine
GOP Senator conveniently forgets about states' rights once again:
While the Senate was debating equal pay for women on Tuesday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) took to the floor to criticize President Barack Obama for allowing states to weaken the punishments for using marijuana and other drugs.
“Now let’s turn to what the Obama administration thinks,” he said. “Typical of its pattern of disregarding the law across a large range of areas, this administration refuses to charge some defendants for crimes they duly committed if doing so would subject them to mandatory minimum sentences. Typical with this administration’s pattern of disregarding the law, it is not taking action in most situations where States have enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana, even though that is contrary to Federal law.”
“Do you think the Obama administration would stand silently by if a State enacted laws that allowed guns, rather than drugs, to be sold inconsistently with Federal law? Well, of course not.”
Grassley was speaking in opposition to legislation introduced by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) called the Smarter Sentencing Act. The bill, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, would allow federal judges to sentence certain non-violent drug offenders below the existing mandatory minimum sentences.
I look forward to his proposal increasing the budget for jackbooted DEA thugs and building more prisons.
Stevens, Speech And Skeeters
Lemieux looks at the amendment proposals in Justice Stevens' new book:
In light of last week's decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, it doesn't require elaborate argument to explain why Stevens's proposed amendment stating that "Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns" would be salutary (although I suspect Setevens would now amend his own amendment to include reasonable limits on campaign donations.) As his amendment reflects, campaign spending is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, but this does not mean that the right is absolute: "the [state] interest in preventing wealth from becoming the deciding factor in contested elections is valid and significant." The Supreme Court ignoring this interest starting with Buckely v. Valeo in 1976 has helped to produce a polity in which the interests of the wealthy are increasingly dominant.
No right is absolute, and the First Amendment already contains some explicitly moderate limits as does each item in the Bill of Rights. This minor clarification might be better than any of the corporate personhood amendments proposed to overturn Citizens United, et al. Don't need a rocket launcher to kill a mosquito.
I did too much lyin'
To Promote General Conflation And Confusion
[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men...
- The Bible, Preamble
In that Slate article linked below, Jamelle Bouie notes that among constitutional conservatives, the Declaration of Independence "is conflated with the founding document and given near-divine status." Indeed, Rush Limbaugh once declared:
We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause]
Not only didn't get the right document, couldn't even get the rights right. Anyway, it's of interest that these guys always forget the part about securing those 3 or 4 or whatever rights by establishing government. Which, of course, the Declaration does not actually do.
It's also interesting to me that Rush conflated the Declaration's broad sweep of general rights with the Constitution's preamble. Because that's essentially what the Declaration is, something that lays out reason and intent but doesn't institute a specific frame of government with powers and rights spelled out. And as SCOTUS ruled in Jacobson v Mass (1905):
Although that preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the government of the United States, or on any of its departments. Such powers embrace only those expressly granted in the body of the Constitution, and such as may be implied from those so granted.
The meat of the Constitution is the stuff that people haggled over, representing compromises over exactly how to implement a government dedicated to protecting individual rights, including when they come into conflict. The Preamble lays down basic principles that motivated the Framers to create a new constitution which, oddly enough, also involved meeting the general needs of a diverse society made up of individuals.
And that brings me to another thing that so-called "constitutional conservatives" tend to miss. I recall once observing something about the general welfare and a dude dismissed it as just in the preamble, which has no authority. Strange that to "provide for the...general Welfare" is explicitly mentioned in Article I, Section 8, right there at the top of the list of enumerated powers. So important it's mentioned along with the common defence twice, first as a significant purpose of We the People to ordain the Constitution, second as a specific thing Congress can (and arguably should) do stuff about.
So, we have a government that protects individual rights in the context of our common society. Oddly enough, Jacobson was essentially the first major court case regarding public health. Yup, it upheld MA's law requiring vaccination against smallpox. You know, protecting my right to life from your ignorance.
People miss a lot when they don't understand all the piece parts of our history and government, and how they work in concert. That can have some serious consequences, which is another reason I like to push back on stupid memes and bad quotations.
The Devil Can Cite Scripture For His Purpose
The point of DeMint’s history lesson—and constitutional conservatism writ large—is to place liberals outside the narrative of American history, and to make liberalism a deviation from the norms of American thought. But the opposite is true—constitutional conservatism is foreign to liberals and conservatives—and the truth is ironic. If there was any period in our history where so-called constitutional conservatives held sway, it’s during the brief life of the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles, national government was extraordinarily weak—it could not tax, mint coins, or pay collective debts—and states held near-total sovereignty. The result was economic disaster—several states were gripped by depression in the 1780s—and revolt. The failed Articles led American elites to convene a constitutional convention, where they would rethink their approach to national government.
These elites were opposed by the “anti-federalists,” who saw strong government as the prelude to tyranny. Their rhetoric was as hyperbolic as any Tea Partier’s. “A conspiracy against the freedom of America, both deep and dangerous, has been formed by an infernal junta of demagogues,” wrote one.
Indeed, this is one reason I like to respond to assertions of anything that harken back to the Founding Era. They're generally used to erase liberals from constitutionalism, and as a cudgel against any deviation from what is claimed as the One Truth handed down from Moses. What happened in Philadelphia becomes inaccurate myth and disagreements become religious arguments rather than anything constructive.
I don't like the DeMints and Bachmanns claiming a monopoly on our heritage. Especially when they're factually in error.
The Seasons Go Round
The optimists among ustaking heart because it is springskip alongattending their meetingssigning their e-mail petitionsmarching with their satiric signssinging their we shall overcome songsposting their pungent twitters and blogsbelieving in a better worldfor no good reasonI envy themsaid the old woman
We All Want To Change The World
Demand For Free Clinic Drops With Obamacare
This is pretty astonishing, though makes total sense:
A medical clinic in Mena, Ark. announced that it would be closing, citing a large drop in need for the clinic as people have signed up for health insurance under Obamacare.
"Because people are qualifying for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, our free medical clinic will not be needed anymore," Stacey Bowser, the director of the 9th Street Ministries Clinic, told the Mena Star.
"We’ve gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won’t be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission," she continued.
So Obamacare has more victims: the people at the free clinic who no longer have jobs. Damn you, Obama!
Anti-gay Footnote Gibberish
[E]veryone knows that Utah dropped the Regnerus study in direct response to a Michigan federal judge’s complete and total dismissal of Regnerus’ work, after he denounced it as “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” That searing condemnation seems to have put an end to Regnerus’ shameless, pseudoscientific gay-bashing crusade. This mainstream rejection of Regnerus is long overdue: Many in his own field have repudiated his findings, and the journal that published his original study performed an audit concluding that it had “serious flaws and distortions” and never should have been published. (The most breathtaking flaw of all: Regnerus didn’t even include a valid sample of children raised by same-sex parents.) No one, except perhaps Regnerus’anti-gay conservative funders, could seriously argue that the Regnerus study actually proves what he—and same-sex marriage opponents—claims it proves. In fact, the study is so methodologically mangled that it’s hard to say it proves much at all.
Utah, then, was wise to slice the footnotes out of its brief, even if the ex post facto maneuver is largely symbolic. But by doing so, the state has accidentally invited a bigger problem: Their remaining arguments are reduced to gibberish. No longer able to make the argument that gay people make inferior parents, Utah is now simply claiming that straight people make superior parents. This argument is so painfully specious that it doesn’t even deserve to be called an argument. If straight parents are superior, then it obviously follows that gay parents are less superior—inferior, you might say, if only doing so didn’t clearly contradict copious, meticulous scholarly research to the contrary.
It’s hard to imagine that the Tenth Circuit will actually buy into Utah’s blizzard of fallacies, which have always relied on Regnerus’ work to anchor them to some semblance of legitimacy. But honestly, it’s hard to imagine Utah winning this case with or without Regnerus. It seems undeniable by this point that Windsor can’t lose in the courts, no matter how convincingly states dress up their anti-gay animus in the garb of protecting children.
Just pack it in, you bigoted assholes. The rearguard actions are just a waste of time and money.
There's This Welsh Rarebit Wearing Some Brown Underpants