Sunday, 11/23/2014

Shorter Boner

A bipartisan immigration reform bill was passed by the Democratic Senate and is supported by a majority of my GOP House, but I won't bring it to a vote because that's not how democracy works Obama somethingsomethingsomething.


November 23, 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 11/22/2014

Come Down And Startle Composing Mortals With Immortal Fire

Via a singer friend on FB.


November 22, 9:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Removing The Mustache Totally Fixed Things

That racist cartoon?  It wasn't meant to be, then it was edited to not be, so what's the big deal?

Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States. 

No, of course he didn't intend to be racist.  He just intended to be an ignorant asshole.  BECAUSE THAT'S FUCKING FUNNY!


PS--It ain't a crime to be here without documentation.  See below.

November 22, 8:18 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


I'd idly mused in a discussion about whether anybody would go a certain route in response to Obama's cynical, evil, unconstitutional use of Scripture in his speech yesterday.  That was silly of me:

You might think that conservatives would be delighted that Obama, what with his devotion to atheist Muslim liberation theology, had finally invoked the Bible for the very first time in his public career, but instead, they were astonished that his lips did not catch fire from quoting the Worship Words, which are for Yang Chieftans only (and don’t even get us started on the people in comments sections attributing “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” to the Bible — you know, from Paul’s Letter to the Merchants Of Venice [ed note: here's the scene]).

Okay, so it's ignorant commenters, but no pundits yet.  I wonder if they're afraid of broadcasting their underlying belief that Obama is the Devil--might lose them moderates!--or leery of the phrase's anti-Semitic origin.

Regardless, it's clear that they're just annoyed that this guy they complain isn't Christian enough can use their code words to defend policy (which they'd never do anyway).


November 22, 6:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't You Get Me Wrong

Could Muhammmed move a mountain, or was that just PR?


November 22, 3:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shorter Congressman Dave Brat

I refuse to deploy more resources to the border, deport undocumented felons, or generate more tax revenue.


November 22, 2:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Icky Thump

As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain in the United States.

 - Justice KennedyArizona et al v US (2012)

Yes, ja, a million times da:

I guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” in the aftermath of President Obama’s immigration address. It’s almost impossible to find any conversation about immigration—between elected officials, pundits, online commenters—in which at least one participant doesn’t use the phrase. It’s an understandable position, through which the speaker can both defend his or her family history and critique current illegal immigrants who choose to do things differently. It helps deflect charges of hypocrisy (since most Americans are descended from immigrants). It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also, in nearly every case, entirely inaccurate.

Prior to 1875’s Page Act and 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, there were no national immigration laws. None. There were laws related to naturalization and citizenship, to how vessels reported their passengers, to banning the slave trade. Once New York’s Castle Garden Immigration Station opened in 1855, arrivals there reported names and origins before entering the U.S. But for all pre-1875 immigrants, no laws applied to their arrival. They weren’t legal or illegal; they were just immigrants.

Moreover, those two laws and their extensions affected only very specific immigrant communities: suspected prostitutes and criminals (the Page Act); Chinese arrivals (the Exclusion Act); immigrants from a few other Asian nations (the extensions). So if your ancestors came before the 1920s and weren’t prostitutes, criminals, or from one of those Asian nations, they remained unaffected by any laws, and so were still neither legal nor illegal. This might seem like a semantic distinction, but it’s much more; the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” implies that they “chose to follow the law,” yet none of these unaffected immigrants had to make any such choice, nor had any laws to follow.

Indeed, it's a meaningless phrase.  I say that as someone whose ancestors came over in a few different waves: 17th century, the Billingtons (Strangers, one or more of whom almost set the Mayflower on fire); 18th century, the Roemers (eventually changed to Ramers in Pennsylvania Dutch country); 20th century, the Pritzkys (Jews escaping pogroms in Ukraine by becoming Christians in Brooklyn).  And somewhere in the mix are Scots-Irish who illegally crossed the Appalachians and married Cherokee (but at least they came here legally as indentured servants!).

Regardless, there's been a general tendency to warn against swarms of Aliens taking over (always the ones coming after We Good Aliens did).  Consider Senate debate over the 14th Amendment:

Now, then, I beg the honorable Senator from Pennsylvania, though it may be very good capital in an electioneering campaign to declaim against the Chinese, not to give himself any trouble about the Chinese, but to confine himself entirely to the injurious effects of this provision upon the encouragement of a Gypsy invasion of Pennsylvania. I had never heard myself of the invasion of Pennsylvania by Gypsies. I do not know, and I do not know that the honorable Senator can tell us, how many Gypsies the census shows to be within the State of Pennsylvania. The only invasion of Pennsylvania within my recollection was an invasion very much worse and more disastrous to the State, and more to be feared and more feared, than that of Gypsies. It was an invasion of rebels, which this amendment, if Iunderstand it aright, is intended to guard against and to prevent the recurrence of.
But why all this talk about Gypsies and Chinese? I have lived in the United States for now many a year, and really I have heard more about Gypsies within the last two or three months than I have heard before in my life. It cannot be because they have increased so much of late. It cannot be because they have been felt to be particularly oppressive in this or that locality. It must be that the Gypsy element is to be added to our political agitation, so that hereafter the Negro alone shall not claim our entire attention.

Anywayz, from the beginning of our Republic, we didn't care how Aliens got here, and really encouraged them to come on over to the Greatest Land Ever, all through the late 1800s.  Then we got worried about disease and, worst of all, teh Gayness.  And since Congress started being more restrictive, the Executive has also gotten into the act, including Hoover, Ike, and...everybody else.

But whatever.  I dare Congress to pass a very specific statute that makes an undocumented alien's presence a crime, and budget the necessary tens of billions of dollars to locate each and every criminal and deport them.


November 22, 1:43 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Resolve Your 'Ego', It Is All One Web

I Grant You Ample Leave:

"I grant you ample leave
To use the hoary formula 'I am'
Naming the emptiness where thought is not;
But fill the void with definition, 'I'
Will be no more a datum than the words
You link false inference with, the 'Since' & 'so'
That, true or not, make up the atom-whirl..."

George Eliot.


November 22, 9:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 11/21/2014

He Looked At Me Like I Was The One Who Should Run

Oh, and I wish you were here.


November 21, 9:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Psalm 10

Verses 1 & 2:

Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

Apropos of, well...lots of things.


November 21, 8:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

They Rested On The 25th

You'd think in the Computer Age we could do some simple calculations, but apparently not. The Wikipedia On This Date page says that supposedly November 21, 164BCE, is the Gregorian equivalent date when the Temple was restored, which we commemorate with Chanukkah.

That agrees with an online calculator I found, yet this one places it on December 10.  Another source indicates that it is December 9, whilst the Wikipedia entry on Judas Maccabeus says December 14.

Well, whatever.  The festival starts in a few weeks, ending on Christmas Eve of all days (2016 it goes from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day).  In the meantime, we'll rock out to Nimoy and friends celebrating the story.


November 21, 6:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Engineers On Mars


The rocks on Mars have become something of a Rorschach test: Those who believe the planet once held some form of life see signs of it everywhere; others, not so much.

The image below either shows a humanoid skull partially buried in the sands of Mars... or just another rock.

Although the photo was taken several years ago by the panoramic camera on the Spiritrover, the Paranormal Crucible website recently posted a video of the image on YouTube with digital alterations to make it look even more like a skull.

The photo above, however, is part of the original image from NASA (with a circle added by The Huffington Post).

UFO Sightings Daily claims there's an 80 percent chance it's a real skull...

Clearly it's a Ringworld Engineer:

Must've been looking for prospective solar systems to start a Ringworld project and was killed by a thoat.  Or maybe, you know, not.


November 21, 5:29 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pilgrims And Strangers

The Strangers in Plymouth Colony were not Separatists like the Saints (folks we know as Pilgrims today), but went along for the ride and see if they couldn't make their fortunes.  That'd be folks like John Alden, the cooper, and Miles Standish, their short militia captain, upon whom they relied so much.

Sadly, the Pilgrims didn't treat the Strangers very tolerantly, and given their own status as strangers in a strange land, didn't do very well with the indigenous follks, either.


November 21, 4:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Strangers

I'm reminded of something I once heard on the folktellers circuit as a kid (the joke comes in many variants):

It was a very cold evening in a small country town. At the General Store, the storeowner (Ebenezer) and his buddies were drinking beer, huddled around the stove. Ebernezer was renowned for his ability to come up with a biblical quotation for every situation.

A fancy horsebox and a new-looking Cadillac parked outside, and there was a furious knocking on the door. Ebenezer opened up, and in walked a well-dressed and obviously wealthy middle-aged man. "I need some blankets for my thoroughbreds" he said. Ebenezer got up, went to the back of the store, and brought back a blanket to show the stranger. "How much?", he asked, "Ten dollars each", said Ebenezer. "Don't you have anything better?" he was asked.

After a second's hesitation, the storeowner (who stocked just one brand of blankets--in various colors) went to the back of the store again, and returned with a different blanket. "This is my $15 blanket" he told the stranger. "I don't think you understand" replied the stranger. "My horses are worth thousands of dollars each. I want your best blankets for them, whatever it costs."

Ebenezer made another trip to the rear, and brought back a blanket in a third color. "This is one of my best blankets" he announced. "Twenty dollars each". "Now you're talking!" replied the stranger. "I'll take five", and he peeled off a $100 bill.

Soon the stranger, the blankets, the horse box, and the Cadillac were on their way, and the locals settled back around the stove, grinning but saying nothing. Then Ebenezer gave a broad wink, and quoted: "He was a stranger, and I took him in!"

So maybe Fox News is right to be upset with Obama.  He's probably running some sort of scam.


November 21, 3:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Yes, after deriding the president for not being Christian enough, now this:

Obama quoted lines from the Bible in a November 20 address, explaining the nation's responsibility to reform unfair immigration enforcement policies. He declared, "Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too."

His use of scripture did not sit well with the hosts of Fox & Friends the next day. Co-host Tucker Carlson called it "repugnant" and argued, "For this guy specifically, the president who spent his career defending late-term abortion, among other things, lecturing us on Christian faith? That's too much. That is too much." 

Regardless, it's clear Obama reads this blog....


November 21, 3:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 11/20/2014

Life's Been Good

They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time...


November 20, 9:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

What Kind Of System Do People Think We Have To Implement Policy?

Indeed, we wouldn't want to broadcast a speech by our only national officer about a major policy issue that has thus not been resolved by one political branch of our political system because, you know, it would be too political.


November 20, 7:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

White Guilt

Oh, Kansas, you provide us with great mirth and weeping:

Claiming that immigrant rights groups are “calling for the return of the Spanish territory, which could be almost half of the United States,” the caller warned, “When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them. And it’s a bigger issue than just being Democrats. And they know in numbers, once the numbers are so bad, they can pretty much do whatever they want to do.”

“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” [Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach] responded. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a president who disregards the law when it suits his interests. So, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, things are strange and they are happening.”

I can't imagine any ethnic cleansing ever, ever happening on American soil, can you?


November 20, 7:05 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

There's Something Happening Here

At some point, you have to evaluate whether these guys understand the law at all:

Brooks said there is a federal statute (“I don’t have the citation for it at the tip of my tongue”) making it a felony to aid, abet, or entice a foreigner to illegally enter the U.S.

“At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America,” he continued. “That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”

Later the Congressman says he doesn't know what on grounds they could bring impeachment without seeing details of what Obama's going to do.  Like that should stop them.


November 20, 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


From my Quixotic pre-Selectman days.


November 20, 10:36 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 11/19/2014

Hurdy Gurdy

Here's a little ray of sunshine from Schubert.


November 19, 10:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rite Of Passage

By Sharon Olds:

As the guests arrive at our son’s party   
they gather in the living room—
short men, men in first grade
with smooth jaws and chins.
Hands in pockets, they stand around
jostling, jockeying for place, small fights
breaking out and calming. One says to another
How old are you? —Six. —I’m seven. —So?
They eye each other, seeing themselves   
tiny in the other’s pupils. They clear their   
throats a lot, a room of small bankers,
they fold their arms and frown. I could beat you
up, a seven says to a six,
the midnight cake, round and heavy as a
turret behind them on the table. My son,
freckles like specks of nutmeg on his cheeks,   
chest narrow as the balsa keel of a   
model boat, long hands
cool and thin as the day they guided him   
out of me, speaks up as a host
for the sake of the group.
We could easily kill a two-year-old,
he says in his clear voice. The other   
men agree, they clear their throats
like Generals, they relax and get down to   
playing war, celebrating my son’s life.

I first read this poem as a college freshman and it's obviously stuck with me, I guess for a lot of reasons.


November 19, 8:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kids Will Be Kids Until They Grow Up And Access Their Trust Funds

Yeah, so I wasn't gonna pick on Willow and Jaden Smith.  I mean, I could take a more charitable view about how at least "we" can stop pretending (um, got a mouse in your pocket?) rich kids grow up just like the rest of us.  But really, the interview just reveals their bubble in all its glory.  A bubble which, to me, seems dangerous.

It's this kind of thing that leads to a real disconnect between them and us.  Which leads to their spending money to force policies that help them and hurt us.  And yes, it's them vs us.


November 19, 7:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Broadcast From The Future

Hecate has an interesting exercise:

One of the most powerful magical acts that I know is to take some time and really envision the life that you’d like to be leading five years from now...Where do you live? What time do you wake up? Who do you see throughout the day? What do you wear? What occupies your time? What things that are currently in your life are banished? Journal or draw or dance all of it.

Now, ask yourself what underlying assumptions you’ve made. For example, do you assume you can turn on the tap and get clean, potable water? That you have access to medical care including birth control? That you can communicate without Big Brother listening?

I would've not even considered the water issue, if we had not lost a controller for our well pump this summer which caused a couple days of more complicated life living as we did in simpler times.  Not to mention the time just before Xmas a couple years back when we were without hot water for weeks because of gas company shenanigans.  

And health care?  I assume we will still have it thanks to being Vermonters, but I'm getting a little worried that our move to single-payer by 2017 might be derailed.

I will have to ponder this further.  I'm not sure 5 years ago I could've imagined the life we have today.


November 19, 6:08 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eat The Shirt Sandwich

Echidne continues coverage of ShirtGate.

I get that it's just a shirt.  I hear tell it was a special lady friend who made the shirt.  I don't give a shit about any of that.

Wear it at your private celebration with champagne fountains if you want.  Wear to bed with your favorite consensual partner who digs leather.

Don't wear it to a big science event.  Seriously.  

It's not a matter of style.  It's a matter of privilege, of recognizing that you're in an industry that tends to put off women--something that starts in school.

I think I saw one woman on the live feed of the landing at the main control panels.  Maybe another one somewhere else.  That speaks volumes.  And imagine if that nice German Frau/lein decided to wear a shirt with leather clad guys walking on all fours with leashes held by dominatrices.  That a male friend made them.  What would the twitter storm look like then?

BTW, a twitter storm ain't a lynching, or feminists overreaching, or whatever.  It's people expressing their opinions on something that struck them as off.  Good on Taylor for realizing what he stepped into and apologizing.  No need for tears, but hey, that also works.


November 19, 5:21 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Hypocrisy Is Following The Rules

Um, Jon?  Methinks you're the one being petty about Representatives Pelosi and Duckworth.  

Regardless, perhaps in future the House could revisit its rules so they are a bit more accomodating in certain proxy situations (the slippery slope I think is a bit too overstated).


November 19, 12:18 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 11/18/2014

The Undiscovered Country

Must sleep.  No, not that kind...


November 18, 8:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Aslan

Not sure why something Reza Aslan said in February is hitting Rawstory and other outlets right now, especially since it's not really anything different from what he wrote in Zealot last year, but whatever:

“I’ll put it in the simplest way possible: the gospels are absolutely replete with historical errors and with contradictions. The gospel of Matthew says that Jesus was born in 4 B.C. The gospel of Luke says Jesus was born in 6 A.D. That’s ten years difference! Which one was right?”

Aslan said the fathers of the early Christian church certainly didn’t read the gospels as a collection of historical facts

“Now, let me ask you a much more important question than which one is right: do you think that the Church fathers who in the 4th century decided to put both Matthew and Luke in the canonized New Testament didn’t bother to read them first? They didn’t notice that they have different dates for Jesus’ birth? They didn’t notice that the gospel of John absolutely contradicts the entire timeline of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? They didn’t notice that there are two completely different genealogies for Jesus in Matthew and Luke? Of course they did! They didn’t care, because at no point did they ever think that what they were reading was literally true.”

Early Christians were more concerned with the spiritual truth revealed by the story of Jesus than the verifiable facts about his life, Aslan explained.

This reminded me of some discussions I've had with RMJ, as well as something he wrote this summer:

Is the basic truth of Christianity, for example, a set of historical events which must have happened as they are set down in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament?  Why?  Medieval Europe largely took those stories as Platonic allegories, windows like the stained glass of their cathedrals that opened on a truer world, signs (as John called the miracles, which the synoptic writers actually called "acts of power", which is a rather different take than "suspension of natural law (another concept we owe to Christianity; see, Aquinas)) of a truer, better world.  Or what Jesus in the gospels kept pointing to:  the basiliea tou theou, the "empire of God."

Were they right to do so?  Well, the medievalists didn't argue like Bultmann and the Jesus Seminar that the miracles were largely matters of human psychology rather than alterations of reality, or that the resurrection was mere mythology; but they understood reality far differently than we do in this post-Enlightenment age.  Which is not to say we are right and they are wrong, but it is to say that unless we are now bound to a sort of hollowed out logical positivism, we are not advancing our understanding of complexity and reality beyond the realm of medieval Europe, we are collapsing it, to argue that religious belief either must involve acceptance of fairies and magic, or it must disappear altogether.

Anyway, given my Quaker upbringing, I readily accept the less-than-factual nature of Scripture.  And I'll note that Aslan isn't saying that undermines Christianity at all, but any such comments upset some people, which explains why I keep seeing that he "trashes" or "destroys" literalism.


PS--I never can read Aslan's name without thinking of CS Lewis' leonine Christ figure in Narnia.

November 18, 6:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

No Need To Reduce The Hero To His Sex Life


Early reviews of the Alan Turing biopic "The Imitation Game" accused the film of being "strangely shy" about its protagonist's homosexuality, but actor Matthew Goode says a lack of sex scenes doesn't mean Turing's sexuality isn't part of the movie.

Goode, who plays cryptanalyst Hugh Alexander in the film (and stars alongside his longtime friend Benedict Cumberbatch), explained to HuffPost Live's Ricky Camillerion Monday why the film doesn't show Turing romantically engaging with men on screen:

Some people will think it's a shame there was no suggestion or depiction of [the sex life of] Alan Turing, who is a gay icon because of what he went through and what happened in [1954] where he took his own life. But I think, in some ways, to do this man's story [and include his sex life], it would do him a slight disservice because he was so private. No one at Bletchley Park knew that he was a homosexual, so therefore the film is merely mirroring what was going on in his own life. I know that may seem cowardly ... but to show a scene of him having sex with another man without any knowledge or the truth in it, I think could have been very risky. I mean, there will always be a "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," but I'm really glad we didn't.

"Imitation Game" director Morten Tyldum has called the absence of gay sex in the film "a very conscious choice," while Cumberbatch added that if viewers need to see sex to understand his character, "then all is lost for any kind of subtle storytelling.”

There is totally a film about Turing that should be made including sex scenes.  This isn't that film.  I look forward to the next one...


November 18, 4:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Presidents Been Presidentin' Since 1789

The National Constitution Center, which I love, has a headline that bugged me a little today: Flaps over executive orders go back to Lincoln’s time.

They give a nod to Washington's spare use of EOs, but I was surprised they didn't mention his Neutrality Proclamation of 1793.  That was, you know, rather controversial--within his own Cabinet, even.  

It was ultimately codified into law by Congress the following year.  So maybe they wanted something as starting point that really pissed off Congress enough they didn't essentially approve of the president's actions..


November 18, 3:21 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


I am rather sad about the dastardly, deadly attack by some zealous Palestinians in a Jerusalem synagogue.  For some reason, the situation reminds me of the Sicarii in the middle of the first century CE.  Ruthless purists whose actions stab everybody, inclulding Peace, in the back.

At least this time nobody's going to destroy Jerusalem.  Probably just Gaza...


November 18, 10:46 AM in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 11/17/2014

The Matrix Of Leadership

I'm passing it to Samuel Prime.


November 17, 9:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chris Christie Is Divine

Huckabee complains that atheists are suing God, by which he means, New Jersey (or a small part of it).  Quick, change the motto to The Garden of Eden State!


November 17, 3:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday Snowydayblogging

Make way for Mila!

I've decided to join a monastery.

Furio seems unconcerned about my new career path.


November 17, 12:31 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ground Control To Major Sharon

Yup, I think PZ's right: men are just too emotional and weak to send on an expedition to Mars.


November 17, 10:10 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 11/16/2014

China Boy

It ain't Dueling Banjos...


November 16, 9:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Politicians In Robes

Well, it ain't Perry Mason:

If the justices really did act like judges, then perhaps our current judicial system would make sense. But given the reality, it is time to reconsider life tenure, ask the justices to perform their jobs with much more humility, place cameras in the court, and institute a nomination process in which senators demanded real answers to hard questions.

I am glad to report that a few of our most prominent scholars, court commentators, and even judges are coming around to my way of thinking about the court. Judge Richard Posner, an outspoken judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 7thCircuit and the most cited legal scholar of the last 20 years (and a regular contributor to Slate), was asked whether he regretted never being a justice. Heanswered: “Well, I don’t like the Supreme Court. I don’t think it’s a real court.”

Posner’s book How Judges Think argues at length that, at most, the Supreme Court is a “political court” different in degree than other courts for many reasons, including that it defines its own caseload, picks the most politically charged cases, and pretends to make decisions based on vague text and contested history, when in fact what the justices are doing is deciding cases based on their personal values. He calls it a “political court,” whereas I say it is not a court at all, but the difference is largely a semantic one.

Linda Greenhouse, the former New York Times reporter who covered the Supreme Court for decades, is also coming around. In response to the court deciding to hear the latest political (dressed up as legal) challenge to the Affordable Care Act, she wrote a column in the Times about how unusual it was for the court to decide to hear the case even though there was no split in the circuit courts on the issue. After calling the grant “a naked power grab by conservative justices,” she wrote the following:

In decades of court-watching, I have struggled—sometimes it has seemed against all odds—to maintain the belief that the Supreme Court really is a court and not just a collection of politicians in robes. This past week, I’ve found myself struggling against the impulse to say two words: I surrender.

I'm not so sure a political Court is a bad thing.  It's part of a branch in our political system, after all, and to deny that Justices act like any other humans in government or life in general is folly.  It's thus rather important to recognize its political nature so when people say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the political parties that will govern the appointment process, you can smack them with a fish.

But yes, this probably means in an age where lifetime tenure means political ramifications of elections go well beyond their expiration dates, we should reconsider how long Justices should be allowed on the bench.  I continued to like the idea of 10-year terms with an automatic renomination/recomfirmation (maybe a supermajority to deny renewal, or a mere majority for approval) for a second term, barring egregious reasons to kick 'em off.  But whatever, something needs to change.

BTW, I also do not mind longer terms Justices.  There's still an argument to be made that keeping the Court a little bit above the fray, rather than shifting with the political winds, is good.  Not unlike the Senate's longer terms make it a little more stable than the House.  Let's just not have the Scalias hanging around until dementia makes their general cruelty more explosive.


November 16, 6:35 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Brain Surgery Ain't Exactly Political Science

Regular readers know I am not a fan of Doctor Ben Carson, but I saw a meme indicating he said this:

Illegal immigrants caught voting should be stripped of their citizenship.

Now, I do enjoy stupid gaffes as much as anybody, but hey, unless it's clear to me that people really believe what they're saying, which is also egregiously wrong somehow, it ain't really sporting.  I especially am charitable when they are speaking extemporaneously.

However, this is actually based upon a World Nut Daily piece written by Carson (another reason I hate memes is they rarely provide sources, so I had to dig it up):

Anyone caught involved in voter fraud should be immediately deported and have his citizenship revoked.

It comes near the end of a discussion about how to handle "illegals", so I can understand why folks might boil it down to what the meme suggests.  But to me it seems more likely that this was just poorly written and/or edited, when he's clearly talking about guest-worker permits in the overall context.

I'll note that WND completely removed the offending statement in an updated version.  Not sure if that undermines my thesis, but at least the stupid is no longer there.


November 16, 4:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

When It's Okay To Exercise Power

Of course they did:

President Barack Obama's anticipated order that would shield millions of immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation is not without precedent.

Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986.

There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now.

Executive power hasn't changed.  Only Executive skin color.  I'm sorry, we're post-racial: only the Executive's party has changed.

Again, I enourage Congress to use all its delegated powers to rein in the Executive branch.


November 16, 4:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)