Revolution in the air

All is not calm in the world, but we don’t notice it because we’re too focused on being surprised by something we already knew was happening. (The government is watching us. It’s finally catching up to the banks and corporations.)

The people of Egypt are bracing for a new round of demonstrations, with opponents of demanding the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The military, which was asked to stand aside to allow for Democratic elections, is now threatening to take over if things get out of hand. If the military takes over, expect even bigger demonstrations.

Turks are demanding the removal of their Islamist government, as a skirmish over the destruction of a park for a business center has escalated into a nationwide protest against the imposition of Muslim law on a secular society as well as a fight against government corruption. This now threatens Turkey’s efforts to gain membership in the European Union, as talks have been put aside because of the government crackdown on demonstrators.

And on this side of the planet, people in Brazil are massing in the streets because the government is using public funds to build stadiums and venues for the Olympics and the World Cup soccer tournament … funds that originally were designated for social programs. The result:

So why am I bringing this up?

Because the U.S. Supreme Court today effectively spayed and neutered the Voting Rights Act, which has been used for the past four decades to make sure minorities aren’t disenfranchised by racist efforts to keep them from the polls. And the states that have been the biggest offenders … (Really? Do I have to remind you which ones they are? Oh, hell! here you go.) …

voting map

… (I’m sure that came as a shock.) …

… are now getting ready to rev up their latest suppression efforts by reintroducing voter ID laws that were struck down because they were specifically designed to keep a certain shade of people from the polls.

And you know what? We aren’t going to do a damn thing about it.

The court said Congress has to update a formula that determined the jurisdictions in violation. You know and I know that Congress isn’t going to do jack. And that means Republican efforts to make sure all those brown people aren’t going to screw up their election chances have just gotten the green light from the law of the land.

So sit back and watch people in the rest of the world fight for their freedom. Because we seem to be doing everything to give ours away.

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Clarence Thomas and the black president

Here I was, all ready to get indignant over a headline involving Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on a perceived slight against President Obama.

TPM has this headline:

Clarence Thomas: Obama Is First Black President Thanks To Approval From ‘Elites And Media’

Them’s fightin’ words, right. Another right winger with a cheap attack. So I go rushing to see the quote and here it is:

“I always knew that it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites and the media,” Thomas said last month at Duquesne Law School in remarks posted to YouTube Friday.

“Any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart,” the justice said. “Pick anyone who’s decided not to go along with it — there’s a price to pay. So I always assumed it would be somebody that the media had to agree with.”

Uh … Justice Thomas is right. This is nothing new. In fact, Chris Rock talked about it years ago when another black man was on the radar as a presidential possibility:

The media and the elites agreed with Colin Powell. But he happened to be in, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindl calls it, “The Stupid Party,” where you’re never trusted if the media agrees with you. That’s why the GOP comes up with folks like Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain and the Thrilla from Wasilla their front runners. And anyone who comes close to meeting media and elite approval, like Mitt Romney, completely backtracks on everything he stood for and says the complete opposite (i.e.: Obamacare is Romneycare) to satisfy the folks in Bizarro Land.

And when Obama first ran for president, all the media types and elites were saying “He speaks so well.” Remember?

Jesus! That’s Joe Biden. The veep who now reports to the clean black guy.

So, as much as I complain about the Supreme Court justice who pisses on the affirmative action programs that helped him become a Supreme Court justice and is just a ditto head for whatever crazy shit Antonin Scalia says, the Talking Points Memo post is really unfair to Thomas.

But Thomas did have one advantage over Obama in his rise to the Supreme Court. He only had to appeal to the elites of his time. George H.W. Bush (the Smarter) and the Republican Party. The media was completely ignored.

Oh, and one other thing. Clarence said something that applies to every president. Let me adjust his quote to show you:

Any … person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect … will be picked apart,” the justice said. “Pick anyone who’s decided not to go along with it — there’s a price to pay. So I always assumed it would be somebody that the media had to agree with.

ALL PRESIDENTS are approved by the elites and the media. Name one who wasn’t.

 

Antonin Scalia: if he only had a brain

When arguments were held recently over the Obama health care law, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia created this straw man describing young people who put off buying health insurance:

“When they think they have a substantial risk of incurring high medical bills, they’ll buy insurance, like the rest of us.”

About a month ago, I was feeling fine on a Wednesday morning. On Wednesday night, I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital in severe pain. I was in the hospital for two days. Even today, there’s been no definite diagnosis of what exactly was wrong with me. The closest guess has been pleurisy.

But today, I got the bill. The prodding and poking and testing and scans and room and board came at a price.

$16,000.

For two days.

And no diagnosis.

I have health insurance through my job. Once that’s all factored in, I’m left with a $1,600 bill.

Here’s the thing Justice Scalia. If I were the straw man you created in your Oz fantasy, and I was going to wait to buy health insurance until I thought I was going to incur high medical bills, guess what! I didn’t see that two day hospital stay beginning Wednesday night on the horizon that Wednesday morning. And if I only had a brain, I would now be agonizing on how I was going to come up with $16,000 on my young person’s salary instead juggling a bunch of bank accounts and credit cards to put together $1,600 on my old guy salary to pay off this bills.

Of course Scalia doesn’t think about those things. His health care is covered by the government. So pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. As far as he’s concerned, you’re on your own.

Rick Perry: judicial scholar

Haven’t we had enough of Rick Perry? The guy has no idea what he’s talking about:

As he railed against “activist” judges, Texas Gov. Rick Perry slipped up on not only the name of one of the Supreme Court justices but also on how many sit on the bench.

“When you see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges whether it was …” Perry said in the Des Moines Register editorial board meeting, pausing for six seconds. “Not Montemayor …”

Sotomayor,” a member of the editorial board interrupted.

“Sotomayor, Sotomayor,” Perry said. “And Kagan are both activist judges.”

Monte Mayor, as those who live in Rick Perry Land know, was the host of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Who wants a judge who’s going to trade all your rights away for what’s behind Door Number 3? (And did you know Door Number 3 is an ad agency in Texas?)

And what’s worse, there are so many of those deal making judges on the Supreme Court:

Shortly after this flub, Perry referred to ”eight unelected” judges when discussing who should decide whether prayer is allowed in schools.

“For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans. I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said

But there are nine Supreme Court justices, not eight.

In Rick Perry Land, there are eight. Their names are Roberts, Kagan, Clarence, Montemayor, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc and Bashful (That Doc, he’s the smart one).

Perry should just stick to gays and Christmas. And as the guys on “Project Runway” will tell him, he needs to get rid of that “Brokeback Mountain” jacket when he’s talking about gays.

Are there still any Republicans taking him seriously? You’ve got to think that even now in Texas, there are second thoughts about the governor who’s served the longest in the state’s history. This also shows journalism in Texas must be horrible. How could he have gotten away with knowing so little and not being exposed in his first term?

The supremes?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, January 2007

Image via Wikipedia

This is just a thought, but …

At a certain point, President Obama likely will get another shot at picking a Supreme Court justice. Most people would say whoever he picks is going to face huge resistance from Republicans in the Senate, but this idea just keeps gnawing at me.

When Obama won the election in 2008, some friends and I thought he did face an opponent in the Democratic primary who deserved to be on the ticket as the vice president. When that didn’t happen, the next thought was that when that fell through with his Biden pick, the next best job for his opponent would be as a Supreme Court justice.

When that opening came up, he picked Sonia Sotomayor.

But that wasn’t upsetting either, because he had already put Hillary Rodham Clinton in as Secretary of State.

Anyway, Clinton has already said that she’s going to leave the administration after the next election. There’s already been speculation that she would be considered for the World Bank post if that opens up. But let’s say Obama wins re-election and an opening develops soon after that. Or let’s say an opening occurs before the next election.

If Obama nominates Clinton, does anyone really think that the tradition of U.S. senators watching out for their own would be trumped by the country’s current political pathology? I don’t think this is a job she would walk away from, and I suspect her confirmation would be a cake walk.

Of course, this isn’t currently on the horizon, but it’s something to think about as the justices get older.