Political Participation

Yeah, I know we all have important professional lives and personal lives, and it’s a sacrifice to get involved in these civic things that I’m talking about. But there’s joy to be found in that if you dedicate an hour or two a week to do something that is going to make this democracy better, stronger, something of a civic nature. It’s not going to necessarily be easy, but you’re going to feel better about yourself at the conclusion of that week. And in fact, our democracy is going to be stronger. There is joy to be found in this struggle, and that is what people should not forget.

Eric Holder
Amicus – Eric Holder’s Supreme Court Protest – JULY 16, 2022

Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan by Eric Holder

WE BEAT TRUMP, NOW LET’S SAVE DEMOCRACY

Real Checks and Balances With a SCOTUS That is a Political Actor

This is what the court has been building over the last several terms is a pretty novel and historically unprecedented approach to the rights secured in the Constitution; which is that there are certain rights which are first class rights or top tier rights; and other rights which, if they exist at all, are really lower level, less important rights.

We’ve seen a kind of layering, particularly the end of this term, of the vulnerability of women and other people who could be pregnant, seemingly invisible to the Constitution, and the vulnerability of white men being hyper visible to the Constitution and gun rights and religious liberties are going to come to the rescue. This kind of tiering of rights is something new, and it’s certainly not something that the framers, even if that was where we wanted to anchor the meaning of these rights, had in mind, I think, in creating an ecology of rights among all of the rights that are secured in the Constitution, in ways that doesn’t elevate any other over any others.

Katherine Franke James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University

Why do people listen to us when we decide that the 14th Amendment requires one thing or another thing? Because it’s not necessarily the text. You know the text of the 14th Amendment or any other amendment in the Constitution is so vague. Like “Congress shall make no law” in the First Amendment. Yet Congress makes all sorts of laws that restrict speech or religion. So it’s not just the text, it’s what makes the court’s opinion better than others. And the court’s answer in Casey is it uses the term legitimacy and it says the court’s power lies in its legitimacy, which it defines as “…a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people’s acceptance of the judiciary as fit to determine what the nation’s law means and to declare what it demands.” And what the court meant by that was; the reason why the court has power is because people think what the court does is engage in principled decision making. And to the extent that the public did not think that the court engages in principal decision making, they wouldn’t take it seriously.

All of the rules that you are describing, all the precedents that you are quoting is just cover for what we all know you’re going to do because you’re Sam Alito, and so to the extent that the court thinks we’re just going to automatically assume there’s a difference between an opinion like Dobbs and Mitch McConnell’s press release. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption, but it’s a cultural one and it’s a cultural force of the court’s power. And so what I am drawing optimism from at this moment is the extent to which members of Congress and the public are looking at these opinions and saying, you know, it’s not like the Constitution demands these outcomes. It’s not like these are the only outcomes you can think of.

In fact, the court is overruling itself, reaching alternative conclusions. And so we don’t have to live in a system in which children are getting shot every day. And we can’t do anything about climate change. And people are forced to birth when they don’t want to. Like all of these things, we don’t have to live in this system just because the court says so. And so the court is not worried about that, but I think it should be.

I think one notable thing about the court is for all of its contempt of Congress, almost every decision that it issued this term could be reversed by a simple statute passed by a majority of both Houses. So, Congress could in effect reverse Dobbs by enacting the Women’s Health Protection Act or a stronger version of it. The Supreme Court allowed Oklahoma and every state to regulate tribes by exercising enforcing its criminal law in Indian country. Congress could just pass a law saying, no, that was wrong. Please try again. The court harmed the EPA’s ability to regulate climate change. Congress could enact legislation to say that was a mistaken interpretation of our statute. The court reinforced qualified immunity this term. Congress could abolish qualified immunity and say “if you’re a police officer and you shoot somebody, you can go to court so that they can recover some damages for their loss of life.” Basically, everything the court did this term can in theory be limited by a statute. Even the decisions that reinforce gun rights or religious liberty could be modified by Congress, especially a Congress motivated enough.

But I think that that risk, the risk that Congress is going to pass bad laws, is a risk that in a democracy we have to take. We have to take the risk that in a democratic legislature, it’s going to enact laws we do not like. Instead, we have this system where we’re so fearful of what Congress might do that we have basically every possible veto we can think of; far more than every other country on the planet in terms of how difficult it is for the national legislature to pass laws. No other country basically requires a supermajority in one house, a second house, in a bicameral legislature, a Presidential veto followed by this Judicial veto afterward, which is just absurd.

It makes it really, really hard, and we do not expect anything to come out of our national legislature, and that’s what I think we need to get rid of. We need to start electing folks who are actually capable of legislating. We need to require that our president and the presidential administration not simply say, well, I guess if the Supreme Court said that this is the rule. So long as the Supreme Court is a Supreme Court, we have to listen to them. But rather like Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago saying, yeah, the court’s the court, but I represent the American people and I’m not going to tolerate this interpretation of our fundamental law. And so there’s obviously a political problem in that.

I certainly do not expect this Congress to legislate. There’s a cultural problem in a sense that most people think the Supreme Court should have the final word on what the Constitution means. But those are the two problems to focus on the political problem of building power through local organizing, through movement building, to demand a legislature that’s capable of legislating, and then a cultural problem of saying, look, Congress or the national legislature, for good or for ill, should have the final word on these questions in a democracy, because leaving it to the court is a terrible idea for a country that calls itself democratic.

Nikolas Bowie, Louis Brandeis professor of law at Harvard Law School

we should be ringing the alarm about this case Moore v Harper I think every day from now until it’s decided because the independent state legislature theory is one of the most radical and autocratic conceptions of democracy that this court has ever been presented with. And it really gives the court an opportunity to roll back some rights that many of us took for granted, including rights rooted in state constitutions.

Mark Joseph Stern
Amicus – A Supreme Court Term Like No Other – JULY 09, 2022

…as bad as this year has been for individual rights (if you aren’t a white guy) next year could be even worse, especially if we allow the Republicans to retake the House of Representatives and start the steamroll process that will bring back a President Trump in 2024. you have all been warned.

In Bush v. Gore in 2000 John Roberts, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh argued before the court, using the independent state legislature doctrine, that George Bush should be allowed to become President without the Florida Supreme Court dictated recount, when the margin of his victory was less than 500 votes. The Florida legislature had decided they wanted Bush as President, and that is what the State of Florida should do because the legislature has the last say on that subject.

They are now going to decide a case that they have a demonstrable conflict of interest in, Moore v. Harper. Their decision in this case is already known and because of their conflicts on the subject, should not be allowed to occur. There are things we can do to stop this, but we have to push our Representatives in Washington to do the work that now needs doing.

Congress can strip the court of jurisdiction. It can strip the court of its building. It can strip the court of its summer recess. It can strip the court of its clerks. It can say, if you want to strike down our democratic laws, do so yourselves rather than relying on these 24 year old’s. It can strip the court of its discretionary jurisdiction. It can strip the court of the power to enjoin laws. It can say ‘no more federal courts can enjoin national laws and a nationwide system without a supermajority of the Supreme Court.’ It can change the court’s jurisdiction. It can put the court’s jurisdiction in the D.C. Circuit.

Congress can do all sorts of stuff and in the past, Congress has done so. When Congress was worried about the court invalidating reconstruction, it simply took the case out of the court’s hand and said, ‘Court, you no longer have jurisdiction over these cases.’

The problem we’re facing now is a Congress unwilling to fight back, not a Congress incapable of fighting back. And I think the conflict is something that Congress needs to embrace.

Nikolas Bowie

Childhood Poverty

Democracies cannot persist with the kind of income inequalities that we have, and the lack of economic mobility that we have, forever. It is true that children have no lobbyists in Washington D.C. and that may be one of the reasons why; you know, I’ve been there on the floor late at night when people are breaking their back at the end of the year before they go home for the holidays, to make sure rich people’s tax cuts are extended, to make sure that tax cuts for the largest corporations are extended.

When it came to children living in this country, Washington just went home.

Senator Michael Bennet
The Economist – How did America find the answer to its child poverty problem — and then abandon it?

LAST YEAR it looked like America had found the solution to child poverty: spend more. The expanded child tax credit is thought to have lifted around 3.7m children out of poverty. But the legislation expired and rates shot back up. How did America find the answer to a long-running problem, only to abandon it?

The Economist (still looking for a gift subscription)

We are 38th out of the 41 industrialized countries in the world when it comes to child poverty. Parents cannot work and raise children, they have to either work or raise children. I know because I lived in a single parent household from the age of 14 until I found a decent job and moved out of my mother’s house. I raised her children because she was at work all the time. That was 1977-1983, the longest six years of my life.

We treat children like an afterthought here in the US. We certainly don’t spend the time or money to make sure that they are fed, housed, clothed and given access to the educations that they need to thrive. Children are the future and the future is everyone’s problem, not just the parent’s problem. If we had half a brain in this country, we’d be spending far more than what the child tax credit gave to the poor children of America.

Remember this when you go to the polls in November. Republicans and that wannabe Republican Joe Manchin put 3 million children back into poverty. Vote to get them out of poverty again.

Featured image: npr.org/child-tax-credit-poverty

Human Barometer

This study provides the strongest evidence to date that changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity are associated with symptom exacerbation in MD. 

Otology & Neurotology

A hat/tip is due to the blog Meniere’s and Me for bringing this finding to my attention. The Wife has called me her human barometer since I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s. I try to laugh with her when she says it.

This was first published on August 30, 2019. I’m going to try to remember to move this post up when the conditions reoccur. We’ll see how that works out. The next time I thought to do this was March 17, 2022. It definitely wasn’t the next time it happened, it’s just the next time that it’s been quite this bad:

barometricpressure.app – Austin – March 17, 2022

It’s About the Process

For her as for him, there was no end. There was process: process was all. You could go in a promising direction or you could go wrong, but you did not set out with the expectation of ever stopping anywhere. All responsibilities, all commitments thus understood took on substance and duration.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed

…it was joy they were both after – the completeness of being. If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed

Hainish Cycle

Featured image: sffaudio.com

The Way of Peace

The way of peace is a seamless garment that must cover the whole of life and must be applied in all its relationships

A.J. Muste (found here)

A common observation about A.J. Muste I’ve seen many places now goes like this:

Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”

facebook

I haven’t found a reliable source for the quote or the observation yet. He died on this date back in 1967. There is a foundation that was established in his name located at this URL: ajmuste.org

I am not a pacifist. On the other hand, I’m beginning to think that I probably should have always been one.

Biden vs. Reagan

For the past thirty years, every single time we’ve had a new President, that first year of the new president, the president’s party lost both the Virginia governor and the New Jersey governor. Every single time.

Except this time Democrats didn’t lose New Jersey. In a rational world this would not be a cause for Democratic panic. Quite the contrary.

Democrats have beat the odds. They’ve done better than everybody’s done going back to the great communicator, Ronald Reagan, who’s the last president who pulled this off.

The last time a president managed to only lose one of those governorships in the first year he was in office, it was the great communicator himself Ronald Reagan.

Biden has done something that no other President has been able to do since Reagan. You would think this would be cause for celebration in the Democratic party.

Rachel Maddow – November 3, 2021

In the meantime, this is what has happened to the party of Reagan:

youtubeRachel Maddow: November 3rd
dallasnews.com

Scores of QAnon believers gathered Tuesday afternoon in downtown Dallas in the hopes that John F. Kennedy Jr. would appear, heralding the reinstatement of Donald Trump as president.

dallasnews.com

Why Worry?

Baby, when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
And though it isn’t hard to say

But baby, just when this world seems mean and cold
Our love comes shining red and gold
And all the rest is by the way

Why worry
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now

Dire Straits
spotify

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums. It’s nice to be able to hear these songs again. This is all thanks to Aftershokz headphones. I have several pairs now. It’s been a musical desert for me until just recently. I was a serious audiophile once. Now nothing sounds right if it isn’t coming to me through these headphones.

Kiss My Pudendum

In the beginning, shame knew no sex. First-century Roman writers used “pudendum” to mean the genitals of men, women and animals. But it was women to whom the shame stuck.

In 1543, the word made an appearance alongside an odd illustration in an anatomical atlas by Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish physician sometimes called the “father of modern anatomy.” The image, although labeled a human uterus, looks unmistakably like a penis, but with a tuft of curly pubic hair near the head, reflecting the idea that women were just men with imperfect, internal body parts. (Also, recall the dearth of female corpses.)

A century later, a Dutch anatomist named Regnier de Graaf highlighted the role of the clitoris in female sexuality. “If these parts of the pudendum had not been endowed with such an exquisite sensitivity to pleasure,” he wrote, “no woman would be willing to take upon herself the irksome nine-months-long business of gestation, the painful and often fatal process of expelling the fetus, and the worrisome and care-ridden task of raising children.”

In 1895, anatomy officially recognized a pudendal region in both men and women. But 60 years later, only the “pudendum femininum” — the female shame part — was still listed. It would later be simplified to “pudendum” and used as a slightly more formal synonym for vulva. Today, the word appears in almost every medical textbook, including recent editions of “Gray’s Anatomy,” “Williams Obstetrics,” and “Comprehensive Gynecology.

There are other terms that reflect antiquated notions about women. The word hymen, which persists in nearly all medical textbooks, shares the same root as Hymen, the Greek god of marriage. Nymphae, a slightly older term for the labia minora, comes from the Latin word for bride or beautiful young maiden. Even the word vagina, which translates into sheath, scabbard or close covering, suggests that this organ’s primary function is to house a penis, which is not accurate or scientifically neutral.

After some grumbling, however, everyone agreed that “pudendum” had to go.

Shame is one factor that contributes to women, transgender men and nonbinary people with vulvas receiving worse or delayed care. A 2014 survey by British charity The Eve Appeal found that one-third of young women avoided going to the doctor for gynecological health issues, and 65 percent struggled to say the words vagina or vulva. That same year, American public health researchers found that up to half of those with vulva pain never raised their concerns with their doctor, at least partly because of stigma.

Taking the ‘Shame Part’ Out of Female AnatomyBy Rachel E. Gross – Sept. 21, 2021

There will always be people who will be antediluvian. What is the point of having any terminology group unless it’s willing to grasp nettles on occasion?

Bernard Moxham

Featured image from the NYTimes article.