SCOTUS: Good News And Bad News September 3, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: gay marriage, officiate, retire, ruth bader ginsburg, supreme court
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You’ve got to love it when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiates at the wedding of Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and John Roberts. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if she continues to refuse to retire during the term of President Barack Obama, there is every possibility that things like gay marriage will have a shelf life somewhere in the neighborhood of canned lima beans or Jif peanut butter. Pride goeth before a fall.
SCOTUS: DOMA And Prop 8 June 27, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Journalism, Politics.
Tags: anthony kennedy, doma, gay marriage, Mark Steyn, prop 8, supreme court
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Let me say this one more time and hope that it earns me 5000 hits and 300 flaming hate mails, just like last time: Mark Steyn is a pompous prick.
When Justice Anthony Kennedy voted with the conservative block to gut the Voting Rights Act, I didn’t hear Mark Steyn or the verbal flatulence passers on FOX calling him an “incompetent jurist”. But all of a sudden, when he sides with the moderate side of the court in affirming the rights of gays to marry like anyone else, he’s “demeaning the institution”.
Look, there are about a thousand journalists who have expounded on this landmark decision far more eloquently than I ever could, and I don’t have much to add. I’ll just say that the currents of civilization ultimately always carry us forward, in the direction of enlightenment and acceptance and tolerance. Oh sure, there are inevitably roadblocks and reversals, and just as with Roe v. Wade, the fervent evangelical voices of the god brigades will do all in their considerable power to keep the earth flat and Beaver and Wally safely at home with Ward and June, but the tide of progress is rushing against them. Gays deserve the same rights and considerations as anyone, and it’s a proud day in America when the high court agrees with what most of us have known for a very long time. Good for them and good for Justice Kennedy.
The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times June 26, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: abortion, condom, execution, gas price, global warming, morning-after pill, plan b, supreme court, suv's, texas, voting rights
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1- The worst news of the week comes out of the Supreme Court. Yesterday they knocked out the clause in the Voting Rights Act that mandates federal review of changes to voting laws in places that have a history of doing whatever they can to suppress black and hispanic voting. There’s no shortage of such places. With so many state legislatures controlled by Tea Party Republicans, it’s beginning to look like 1949 again in a lot of states, and we’re not just talking about Alabama and Mississippi. With this law gutted and Citizens United in full force, we’re set to be the United States of Rich Old White Guys, which, when you stop to think about it, isn’t much of a radical change.
2- In Texas, it’s like a perpetual good news/bad news joke. The bad news is that Governor Perry and his Republican controlled legislature did all they could to ram through a measure that would for all intents and purposes ban abortions anywhere in the Lone Star State. The good news is that, thanks to a laryngitis-inducing impassioned filibuster from state legislator Wendy Davis and the jarring voices of 400 protesters in the statehouse, the bill failed to pass by the 12am deadline. The bad news is that Rick Perry will almost certainly declare another special session of the legislature for the sole purpose of enacting this turd of a bill. Oh, and by the way…Texas is about to hit another proud milestone today with its 500th execution by lethal injection since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972. Coincidentally, in parallel with their legislative initiative, the victim will be a woman.
3- It’s good news that President Obama has declared war on Global Warming. It’s bad news that about half the people in this country don’t even believe that climate change is real. I just returned from a weekend trip to Ohio. In nearly 600 miles of driving in my Ford Fusion Hybrid, a good half of the vehicles I saw on the road were SUV’s. How’s that possible? Why are the auto companies even making these gas hogs anymore? And how do Americans in this failing economy willingly fill them up repeatedly with gas at nearly four bucks a gallon? Look, I applaud the president’s plan, and I hope someday to see this country dotted with windmills and solar panels, but until a majority of Americans sincerely accept the threat of global warming and personally do all that they can to avoid its consequences, including electing representatives who share their concerns, no executive directives, no matter how well intentioned, are likely to have much of an effect.
4- Considering the anti-abortion push in Texas and the wild success of repressive anti-abortion legislation in Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and a score of other Republican controlled states, the very best news of recent weeks was the FDA approval of the Plan B morning-after pill for over-the-counter sale without restrictions based on age. I understand the concern of parents who believe that they should be consulted before their teenage daughters employ this medication, but that concern is a day late and a dollar short when a young woman is worried that she may be pregnant and needs to alleviate that worry before she finds herself in a truly untenable situation. If I might offer a little parenting advice, if you want to avoid the whole issue of morning-after pills, you might try the talk I gave to each of my three sons about the time they hit puberty:
“This is a condom. Use it.” Since the only grandchildren I have are the ones that emerged from my daughter-in-law, the talk apparently worked.
George Orwell Had It Wrong June 3, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: 1984, anton scalia, dna, george orwell, police, privacy, supreme court, worse
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It’s way worse than he ever imagined.
Today the Supreme Court ruled that the police can routinely take your DNA if they arrest you for any reason. Get busted because your music was playing too loud or you used that fake ID at the campus tavern or the smoke leaking under your dorm room door wasn’t exactly Marlboro…and the feds own the blueprint to everything that makes you uniquely you forever more. And you thought it was a big deal just because those TSA clowns got an X-ray glimpse of your junk on your way to spring break.
There is one small silver lining inside this otherwise gloomy cloud. One of the four dissenters in the 5-4 decision was decidedly conservative judge Anton Scalia, who for once elegantly expressed a genuine tenet of classic conservatism, which is supposed to be about keeping government out of individuals’ private business. Scalia wrote in his dissent,”Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.”
So again, anyone who is still under the delusion that they are entitled to some measure of privacy in 21st century America, just take a look at that traffic cam recording your image for subsequent analysis by facial recognition software…and smile. It’s really the only thing you’re still free to do.
Gay Marriage Debate Shifts Into The Surreal April 2, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: agema, chris clemons, chris kluwe, doma, everhart, gay marriage, prop 8, supreme court, willie nelson
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Hunter Thompson famously remarked, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” If Thompson could still be here for the Supreme Court case on DOMA and California’s Prop 8, he’d probably do a couple of lines of coke, munch some peyote buttons, and go out in the back with his .357 Magnum to shoot some shit…because like the man says, the weird turn pro.
There’s just no other explanation for it when some 11 year-old kid is standing outside a North Carolina church spouting senseless propaganda like, “The Bible talks about the homosexuals — they’re worthy of death.” Yeah, well the Bible also talks about people who eat shellfish, and they’re worthy of death too, so maybe you should be protesting outside Red Lobster.
Or take a look at Dave Agema, Michigan Republican National Committeeman, who is using his Facebook page to claim that part of the “homosexual agenda” is to “get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle”. And when he is challenged on this sort of hateful rhetoric, he, conforming to the GOP handbook, doesn’t back down, but doubles down (Don’t retreat, reload.) His followup Facebook reply is notable for its many factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. Here’s my favorite lines: “I can send you reems [sic] of studies showing the negative health affects [sic] of this lifestyle,” Agema wrote. “Instead you would have us accept it, teach it to our kids, include it in our platform and cause great harm to society.” Listen, fella, you’d do well to stop worrying if they’re going to teach gay marriage as an alternative lifestyle in school and worry more whether they can teach you how to compose a coherent sentence.
Stop for a moment and consider the argument of Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart, who warns that if gay marriage is legalized, there will be a rash of straight individuals entering into sham gay marriages just to receive spousal benefits. She says this with a completely straight face, without ever once stopping to consider the irony of a society in which, thanks to Republican policies, things like health insurance and unemployment benefits and food stamps are at such a premium that anyone would even consider such a bizarre scheme.
But for pure Twilight Zone creative imagination, no one is going to top Italian scientist Gian Paolo Vanoli. Vanoli claims that homosexuality is a disease, a form of autism, and that it is caused by…wait for it…vaccines. Ironically, Vanoli supports gay marriage and gay adoption, because he doesn’t believe in discriminating against people who are afflicted with an illness. Great. With friends like these….
At the same time, there have been rumors swirling around the internet that a gay NFL player is about to come out of the closet. There are a lot of NFL players who want to believe that with 33 teams, each with 53 players on the roster, not a single one of them has ever sucked a dick. Like Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, who thinks such a move would be “selfish” on the part of the player outing himself. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe issues the only possible response: “Grow the fuck up”.
In the absence of Hunter Thompson, I think it’s appropriate that we turn to another folk philosopher for a much-needed dose of common sense wisdom on this controversy that shouldn’t be controversial:
Willie Nelson, apparently the only sane man in the state, tells “Texas Monthly”: “It’s ridiculous to me that this is something we’re having a conversation about in this day and age. I thought it was something that was settled a long time ago. I’ve known straight and gay people all my life. I can’t tell the difference. People are people where I came from.”
And about his equality poster…he’s right about that other thing too.
Mississippi Madness July 11, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Uncategorized.
Tags: abortion, mississippi, rights, Romney, supreme court
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It’s good to have Nurse Tidwell back in the house, and as always, she makes a good point. She was hurling expletives at CNN this morning while I was rolling my eyes in disbelief at MSNBC last night. Rachel Maddow had a spokesperson for an abortion rights group on, and she was lauding a federal court in one jurisdiction or another that had upheld abortion rights in some form. This woman went on to smilingly proclaim that the war for a woman’s right to control her own body was being successfully waged in courts across the country…while completely ignoring the fact that knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers in state legislatures across the land are passing new laws every day that, while not challenging the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, are making it all but physically impossible to obtain a safe legal abortion anywhere in America. If it’s not just the Mississippi law that insists that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at the local hospital (which no local hospital anywhere in Mississippi is going to grant them), it’s the Virginia law that a woman must go a transvaginal ultrasound 24 hours before an abortion (at her own expense), and it’s the 83 separate laws passed in various states also limiting access to abortion. Many of these regulations are so-called TRAP laws, for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These are laws that try to nickel and dime abortion clinics out of business by insisting on revisions of everything from door heights to hallway widths to drinking fountain specifications. If we on the left naively believe that the courts will continue to provide a remedy for this onslaught on women’s rights, we’d better think again. The Supreme Court is just one vote shy of repealing Roe v. Wade, with every possibility of as many as two seats becoming available on SCOTUS during the next presidential administration. How any woman in America can in good conscience pull the lever for Mitt Romney is beyond me, but then again, a lot of things are beyond me.
Supreme Politics June 29, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, decision, john roberts, Politics, rigged, supreme court
No sensible person ever would describe the Supreme Court as “rigged”, but no sane person would ever fail to note that it is, in fact, political. It has ever been so, and that is why presidents are so eager to have the opportunity to appoint new justices. This is not to say that every decision the court makes has its basis in political expediency, but irrespective of yesterday’s outcome, I will forever believe that the decisions in Citizens United and Gore v. Bush were nothing more than pure political hackery. A single exception does not disprove the rule. There are several possible explanations for the chief justice’s decision on the Affordable Care Act:
1) As my blogmate suggested, he may simply have decided purely on the merits of the case.
2) As Robert Reich suggested, Roberts may have needed to reassert the legitimacy of the court to once again give it the patina of impartiality and nonpartisanship. A third negative decision after Gore v. Bush and Citizens United would have been the last nail in that argument’s coffin.
3) Roberts is no fool. He knows that this decision has as much chance of derailing Obama’s re-election chances as it does of bolstering them. And if the Republicans can retain the House, win the Senate, and take the White House, they will almost certainly repeal Obamacare in short order, making the SCOTUS decision moot. Even if the Republicans don’t win it all, and they probably won’t, Obamacare is still in for a relentless attack for the next four years. Politically speaking, Roberts has thrown the Democrats a bone. The Citizens United decision is way more likely to win the election for the Republicans that the Affordable Care decision is to win for the Dems. But it’s still a political calculus.
Partisanship And SCOTUS June 26, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Politics.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, arizona, immigration, partisanship, SCOTUS, supreme court
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Not every decision the Supreme Court makes is a partisan political decision (of course). The decision striking down three of the four major provisions in the draconian Arizona immigration law can still be viewed in a political light. On the one hand, the court makes a show of nonpartisanship by throwing Obama a bone, but they also maintain a bullet point for the right by failing to strike down the onerous “show me your papers” provision. Or maybe the Arizona law really is clearly unconstitutional and even a blind man with a black Sharpie couldn’t fail to redact most of it. The immigration decision is small potatoes. The main course is still coming up on the Affordable Care Act. A reversal of that piece of legislation would be like a rebuke to the core values of the Obama agenda, and would serve as a ready-made campaign commercial for Mitt Romney. On the other hand, such a decision could also backfire. It would serve to emphasize the political nature of SCOTUS and highlight the absolute necessity of assuring that the next justice is one appointed by President Obama (take one look at Ruth Bador Ginsburg in the photo, and you’ll see why I’m worried…)
You’re Blogmate Was Taking Sunday Off June 25, 2012Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Health Care, Politics.
Tags: citizens united, Health Care, Obamacare, partisan, political, supreme court
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And I didn’t have the balls to post the piece about the guy with the hundred pound scrotum, even though I’d bookmarked it days ago. Mitt Romney might consider this guy for Secretary of State, but I suspect that Hillary’s are still larger.
I have a feeling that what my blogmate and I will be focused on this week is the potential reversal of Obamacare by the Supreme Court. If they do reverse it, I believe it will be a partisan political decision, but the court isn’t really above that sort of thing. If the “Citizens United” ruling didn’t give the GOP enough of a leg up to win back the White House, then crushing Obama’s most important initiative ought to do the trick. Stand by.