Since a big portion of my day job is promoting other people’s writing, I might as well do the same here. Besides, I come across more worthwhile content than I have space to promote at work. And if I’m not creating any content myself….
Anyway. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading this morning.
A Court of Radicals
In knocking down the District of Columbia’s 32-year ban on handgun possession, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have shown again their willingness to abandon precedent in order to do whatever is necessary to further the agenda of the contemporary political right.
When Common Sense Is Unconstitutional
I believe the Constitution is a living document that has to be seen in light of the times. I believe the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, was right to infer an implicit right to privacy, even though no such thing is spelled out. I think the idea that the Founders’ “original intent” should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony—as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet.
But here, I propose a very fair trade. I will trade the second amendment for the fourth amendment. If the Bush administration releases the fourth amendment that it is currently holding hostage, I’m happy to consider the Supreme Court decision on the second amendment final and decisive. You keep the second amendment, we keep the fourth.
What’s next after Supreme Court’s gun decision?
There will be more lawsuits, probably lots of them. Some guns laws will survive, while others will fall. The decision will help showcase the Supreme Court as a potential issue in the 2008 presidential campaign and will put some other politicians on the spot.
Most immediately, the court’s 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller poses myriad questions for which answers are still a work in progress. Here are some of them.
This Recession, It’s Just Beginning
You know things are bad when middle-class Americans have to give up their boats and Brunswick, the nation’s biggest maker of powerboats, is forced to close 10 plants and lay off 2,700 workers.
The real problem is that the industrial economy is riddled with incentives to rip your head off, sell you lemons, maximize so-called “profit” at all costs, and exert power against you—not for you. That’s why it seems that pain, suffering, and value destruction are deeply embedded in the very DNA of our rusting, industrial-era economic system itself.
Justice For All?
The Supreme Court today sent a clear signal to companies that demonstrate “reckless negligence” that they don’t need to worry about being held accountable for their behavior. It came within one vote, on a 4-4 split, of entirely relieving Exxon of the damages awarded by a jury for the Exxon Valdez disaster’s horrific impact on the fishing communities and environment of Prince William Sound. Instead, it reduced the damages, originally set by a jury at $9 billion and subsequently reduced by a federal Appeals Court to $2.5 billion, to a paltry $500 million.
It Must Be Scary To Be A Conservative
It must be really scary to be a conservative. To be one, you must live in constant fear of terrorists nuking the United States, of gay people on the verge of convincing you that you really enjoy sodomy, of Spanish becoming the official language of the United States next week, of every African-American voting seven or eight times in the next election, of radical Islam suddenly becoming the latest hip thing among kids across the country, of perpetual lesbian orgies in girls bathrooms in high schools across America, of liberals forcing everyone to become a vegan, of Christians being rounded up into concentration camps, and of Democrats outlawing private property if they were to ever take power again.
For me, being able to hold a politician accountable is having the real power to actually have a negative impact on something they really care about, namely getting elected and passing legislation they want to pass (although there might be a few other smaller things some politicians might care about). Unless you have the ability and willingness to mess with a politician in a serious way on either of those things, I don’t think you can hold them accountable. I don’t think saying bad things about them holds them accountable, I don’t think holding a protest holds them accountable, I don’t think starting a petition holds them accountable- unless it is affecting their ability to win an election or pass legislation.
An End to Our Mourning
My mother,” Dr. Maya Angelou once wrote, “said I must always be intolerant of ignorance.”
In America today, that could keep one very busy indeed.
…In a country where we have paid a too-heavy price for electing the ideal drinking buddy rather than real, competent leaders, we have now devolved to “name games” in our quest to fill the world’s most important job.
In the marketplace, complicit government agencies and their accompanying under-regulated industries allow dangerous drugs, toys, and food to endanger our health because it saves them money. And on the hill, lobbyists successfully protect big industries by weakening people’s ability to file lawsuits and obtain adequate compensation for abusive corporate practices like spying on us illegally, profiting off of predatory loans, and paying women and minorities less than they deserve. What do these distinct events have to do with one another? Whether it’s preventing ordinary Americans from filing lawsuits at all (FISA), or reducing victims’ compensation after they win a lawsuit (Exxon), the corporate lobby and the politicians they court are hard at work rigging the legal system to protect big business.
Three justices dissented outright from the ruling in Lawrence: then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Scalia and Thomas are still on the bench today. The late Chief Justice Rehnquist has been replaced by the equally ultraconservative John Roberts, while Justice O’Connor has been replaced by the extreme right-wing Samuel Alito.
Counting the numbers, then, it’s very clear that the constitutional protection of the essential human dignity of gay men and lesbians is hanging by a slender thread on the Supreme Court. John McCain has praised Justice Scalia and has also promised to put more justices like Roberts and Alito on the Court, which should be a consideration for any voter who cares about gay rights and the future of the Supreme Court.
Why Obama should visit a mosque
Obama should visit a mosque. He has repeatedly shown his courage during this campaign; Americans have responded to his intellectual honesty. One of the important things about him is the knowledge his Kenyan and Indonesian experiences have given him of Islam as lived, rather than Islam as turned into monstrous specter.
Screw the Evangelical Vote!
Screw soliciting the opinions of anyone whose sense of values stems from the learnin’ they got at an institution as inherently oxymoronic as Bible College. Screw the literal-minded clods and their comically transparent efforts to wedge a pseudo science, whether it’s called Creationism or Intelligent Design into a school curriculum. Screw those whose brains have been washed from birth with notions of the Bible as history instead of metaphor and poetry, and who therefore can’t cipher their way to even the most simple of conclusions that if religion is to have any meaning at all, it must be grounded in compassion. Not intolerance. In knowledge. Not superstition. In morality. Not moralizing. In wisdom, not willful ignorance and blind obedience. Anyone… regardless of whether they call themselves Pastor or Reverend, and no matter how many million suckers are in their TV ministry… anyone who actually advances the notion that God wants you to vote Republican to protect the country against the abortionists and homosexuals should not be advising the electorate or counseling presidents. They should be strapped to a gurney in a sanitarium with a Lithium I.V.