Category Archives: SCOTUS

Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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Donnie’s Thank You Notes

(Special guest article by Consuela von Hauftmann, Donald Trump’s longtime nanny)

My little Donnie has always had trouble thanking people for their help. He simply believes he gets what he deserves by right. Divine Right.  I have TRIED to get him to write thank  you notes, but it is impossible to get him off Twitter. So, as usual, I will send the thank you notes for him. He is just too busy ! So, here goes. This year’s thank you notes to those who made him president of the USA.

To: Rupert Murdoch, Fox Entertainment

Rupey. Thank you so much. For starting an entertainment network devoted 24/7 to shouting out that government is bad. The constant “liberals are evil”, “government is bad”, “facts are silly” message has taken root. Because of you millions of Americans no longer think for themselves and no longer even try to evaluate information. Thank you so much for helping make facts and evidence irrelevant in the political  process. Without you my little Donnie would never have had any shot at the nomination.

To: Fred “Daddy”  Trump

Although you are no longer with us and Donnie never thanked you I know that you are the one who made him what he is. Thank you for the $15,000,000 “loan” that Donnie never paid back. With that tiny bit of seed money Donnie built a great brand.  He showed others what they could do with just a small bit of help! And your insider contacts with NY Mayors Carey and Koch allowed Donnie to get special treatment from the city that allowed him fantastic tax breaks and not too much “oversight” when he used your money to develop “his” properties. Your financial support also helped the local government “ignore” Donnie’s connections with the mob “fixer” Roy Cohn. It takes a village to build a real estate development. Although Donnie would never thank you, I do.

To: The 5 activist members of the Supreme Court

It only took 5 of you, but you got the job done. Thanks so much for 2 decisions. Even though you are highly principled and believe strongly that the SCOTUS should not “make the law” by overturning Congress, at least in two cases you put aside that principle to”make the law”. Kudos and thanks.

In the Citizens United case you overturned the law and allowed all kinds of money to influence US elections by coming in through the back door. Now we have PACs and 501(c)4 organizations which can raise money anonymously and spend it in nasty attack ads which need have no basis in fact. And the best part? No one needs to take responsibility. As a result at least $17,000,000 was spent by foreign held companies to elect the POTUS in 2016. (Well,  that was the REPORTED amount…who really knows). And millions more were raised anonymously right here in the US by either citizens or foreigners. All legal.  You have made US elections a truly international contest where companies and various  leaders from all  over the world can now help elect a US president.

In the Shelby County v Holder case you generously overturned the Voting Rights Act, another law passed by Congress. This law for years has made sure that voters in selected states were protected from Jim Crow style voter suppression. Because of  your judicial  activism you have allowed many states to immediately reimpose Jim Crow style voter restrictions, aimed specifically at voters likely to vote for Democrats.Within hours of announcing your decision some states imposed new voting restrictions. Thanks for your judicial activism! You helped suppress the Democratic vote.

To: The Republican “moderates”

Republican rank and file voters gave my Donnie less than 45% of the vote in the primaries. Why? Because they thought he was crude, vulgar, crass, ignorant, unqualified, a bully, a pussy grabber and an overall idiot. They thought he was uniquely unqualified to be the leader of the USA. But when push came to shove, you came through.

Millions of Republicans who call themselves “conservative” or “moderate” hobbled off to the polls and cast their voted for my Donnie. They did not let their judgement interfere with “party loyalty”. Even though the saner members of the GOP refused to accept Donnie, you came through and put him in the White House. You helped us make the White House WHITE again! Thank you.

To: Vladimir, Julian and the 9 Benghazi committees

Thank you all. By simply keeping the idea that “emails” are somehow “criminal” you accomplished what Donnie could never do. You were able to make a public servant who has devoted her life to children and good government seem like some evil, corrupt politician. By “leaking” innocuous emails and pretending the very idea of “leaking” implies criminal acts you were able to  destroy the reputation of a  woman who has been the most transparent candidate in history. You were able to convince many voters that there “must be something” wrong, even though no evidence supported that conclusion. Innuendo and gossip worked. Donnie could not have done it without you!

To: Jill Stein and the Green Party

In the end it was your help that put my Donnie in the White House.  While he will never admit it, he could not have done it without you! Thanks so much. Just as Ralph Nader and his 97,000 votes in Florida kept Al Gore out of the White House and put GW Bush in, so your votes did the same for Donnie.

By refusing to throw your support to the “lesser of two evils”, Hillary Clinton, you managed to give the election to my Donnie! Thank you for sticking to your guns and not supporting the liberal candidate. You certainly showed her who was boss! You demanded “purity” and you got it. My pure Donnie!

In Pennsylvania my Donnie won by 44,292 votes.  Thank you Jill for your vote total of 49, 941. If those liberals had voted for Hillary my Donnie would  have lost the state.  And in Wisconsin my Donnie won by only 22,871 votes. Thank you for siphoning off 30, 934 possible liberal votes and help give Donnie the state! Of course, I also thank you for your work in Michigan. Out of over 4,000,000 votes cast my Donnie won by just 10,704! Thank  you Jill for your  51,463 votes, more than enough to have turned the state to Hillary.

So, thanks to  the Green Party votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan my Donnie will be president. Thank you for standing on your principles and refusing to vote for the liberal who was not “pure” enough.

To: Rudy and Chris

A special thank you. You stood by my Donnie. You supported him through it all. Rudy even got the help of the FBI involved at the last minute. Sorry that Donnie can’t come through on the jobs he promised you. You lose. No cabinet posts for you. That is just the way he is !

 

 

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“Doing The Mitch”

The GOP Senate, lead (?) by Mitch McConnell, has announced that they are refusing to consider any Supreme Court nominee put forth by President Obama. Even though the Constitution does require the Senate to “advise and consent” on judicial  appointments, they have decided that they will refuse to abide by this Constitutional requirement. They won’t even listen to Mr. Obama on the matter.

Why? Because President Obama has only one year left in his four year term of office. And in their minds that means that he should relinquish his Constitutional power. NOW! And relax .

At first I thought this was odd. But since the McConnell announcement I have had many experiences which have convinced me that his philosophy may be the norm. In fact, across America millions have now embraced  McConnell . It even has a name. “Doing the Mitch”.

Some examples:

I called 911 because a burglar was breaking into my house. The operator informed me that she was retiring in 7 months. She said she was not going to put my call though because she was “Doing the Mitch”. Why bother? With only a few months left to work?

So, I called back and finally got a 911 operator who took my call. (By now a truck had backed up to my door and a gang of burglars were loading up my furniture).

Finally a police car arrived and Officer Blarney got out. I was relieved. I pointed out the burglars ripping me off. He had a faraway look in his eyes. And rolled them. I begged for help.

“Sorry, sir”,  he said. “I am due to retire in 10 months. In the old days I might have done something,  but no longer.  I am taking my cue from the US Constitution. I am “Doing the Mitch”.  You’ll have to call the department and ask for some rookie to come out.”

Since the truck with all my worldly belongings was starting to pull away I took matters into my own hands. I dragged one of the burglars from the truck, but was then pummeled into a stupor by the other two. As I lie on the cold hard ground I managed to find my phone and speed dialed the local hospital (don’t ask why the local hospital is on speed dial). Thank god a young voice answered.

The ambulance arrived in record time, about 30 minutes later. To my horror the EMT had graying hair and a lot of wrinkles.As he looked at me lying on the ground I could feel his irritation.

“Look”, he explained. “I would like to help you, but the fact is that I am retiring in 9 months. I really don’t see the point in working any longer. The end of my term is almost up. It doesn’t seem fair to me to force me to do my job. I am “Doing the Mitch”.

Well, I finally crawled into the hospital and was given medical assistance. Sort of . Unfortunately for me I needed a couple bones reset. The good news was that the MD who saw me was new on the job. Great. The bad news was that the anesthesiologist was near retirement. “Doing the Mitch”. Ouch. That hurt.

So, there we have it. A nation of Constitutional scholars dedicated to “Doing the Mitch”. As I was recuperating in the hospital bed a nice old lady came in with a cake that someone had sent to me as a gift. At first I was a bit worried. So I asked her, “Are you near retirement?”.

“No”, she responded sweetly. “I have a year and three months left delivering cakes for the Kim Davis Kentucky Bakery”.

“Great, I’ll take the that cake” I blurted.

“Not so fast, dearie”, she glared. “Are you gay?”

 

 

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Speaking Ill of the Dead

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Evidently the ancient Romans did not know Antonin Scalia.

I have no problem writing ill of Scalia. He’s dead. He won’t read this. And if he did I could care less.

Scalia was not, as his supporters like to claim, the voice of “conservatism” on the court. More likely, he qualifies as the voice of the “reactionaries”. Those who want to return to an imaginary past. He was not, as his supporters claim, a “strict constructionist” devoted to the Constitution. He was, in essence, a “reactionary” devoted to the Articles of Confederation.

You may recall that the Articles of Confederation were the first plan of government after the revolution. It gave massive power to individual states and little power to the central government. It guaranteed no rights nationwide. It was an abysmal failure. It was because the “states rights” concept  failed so miserably that the Constitution was formed.

Scalia was more devoted to the Articles than to the Constitution.  Some examples.

In 2000, in Bush v Gore. Scalia sided with the 5-4 majority is overturning the Florida Supreme Court.That  Florida court had ruled that it was necessary to recount the Florida voted because under Florida Constitution and law a vote so close had to be recounted. The Florida Supreme Court wanted to get it right.

Scalia, siding with the majority, supported the very odd decision that counting all the votes fairly would impact negatively on the Bush campaign. The vote count was stopped. The right of the state of Florida to follow its own election laws was overturned by the SCOTUS.  Justice Scalia had a son who was in the lawfirm directly involved in the Bush appeal to the SCOTUS, which should have been a reason for his recusal.

Scalia opposed the right of citizens to health care under the ACA. He used a rather foolish broccoli analogy to suggest that the federal government had no right to implement any law requiring people to..well..do anything.  (Actually, Scalia was the prime target of a 2012 blog post on this matter….    https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/scalia-and-the-broccoli-conundrum/)

Scalia opposed the rights of gays to marry. He took the position that only the individual states can decide on whether or not an adult can marry. State’s rights, ignoring the amendments guaranteeing equal protection under the laws.

Perhaps the strangest case ever for someone who claimed to be a “strict constructionist”  was the Citizens United fiasco. Overturning federal law to regulate money in politics. The decision basically created a new class of citizens, called “corporations”. According to Scalia, corporations had first amendment rights to spend money on candidates. No where in the Constitution is there any indication that the founding fathers sought to make corporations “persons” in the same sense as you and I are persons. this was a complete contortion of the reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place. To protect INDIVIDUALS from governmental power. Another example of Scalia claiming to be a “strict constructionist” and then ignoring the Constitution.

And, adding to this fantasy. A corporation called Hobby Lobby was granted “religious” reasons for not providing adequate health care to its employees. A total perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment. And Scalia was there. Leading the charge.

Scalia consistently refused to support individual rights. He opposed a woman’s right to abortion He supported overturning the Voting Rights Act. He supported the idea that individual states could deny classes of citizens certain rights. He was the most reactionary justice since WW2, perhaps since the Civil War. There is no doubt that he would have been very comfortable voting with the majority in the Dred Scott case. After all, slavery was a “state’s rights” issue.

So. I speak ill of the dead. But, in fairness to me, I spoke ill of him when he was alive. His death does not make his decisions any more palatable. The fact that he has passed from political power can only be seen as a positive step for individual rights. His loss is not one to mourn.

 

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Constitution, Dred Scott, gay marriage, gay rights, gays, GOP, government, healthcare, Hobby Lobby, logic, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Movie Review: The Three Faces of Reed

(Reblogged from Siskil and Egbert’s Movie Reviews.)

A review of “The Three Faces of Reed”, (a remake of “The Three Faces of Eve”) newly released in the NY 23rd Congressional District.

Starring Jason Alexander (George Costanza of the Seinfeld TV series) as the inimitable, playful and sometimes a little off-center Congressman of NY’s 23 Congressional District, Tom Reed.

This film is set almost entirely in the psychiatric offices of an anonymous shrink in the Southern Tier of New York state. The shrink takes the Congressman back in time through hypnosis (since he cannot otherwise remember what he said or to whom he said it). It is a fascinating study of multiple personality disorder, otherwise know as PAU complex (Politics As Usual).  Jason Alexander does a wonderful job  (an Academy Award nomination is in the works,  I do believe) of portraying a politician who is able to assume different personalities almost at will. A man, who is short, balding and stubby but sees himself as tall, rugged and tough.

There is the (in his mind) tall, rugged, no nonsense, strong-jawed Congressman who is wined and dined by ALEC, the Hydrofracking industry and the NRA. He makes it clear to these lobbyists that he is at their beck and call. For example, a scene in which a widow  sits outside his office waiting for an appointment to see him about his vote to destroy the ACA.

(Scene:) Widow sitting quietly as secretary gazes into a computer screen. Muffled noises from the inner office slowly become louder and more distinct.

“Yes sir. …..Yes , sir…..Yes , sir……. Whatever you say , sir……. Of course, sir……. Just leave the bill on my desk and I will sponsor it…Yes, sir….Yes,  sir….Yes, sir…Oh, no need for that….Well,  if you insist…Thank  you so much , sir….Yes, sir… ”

Three middle aged men,  wearing Armani suits, emerge from the office, glance and sneer at the widow and give each other high fives. “He belongs to us, no doubt about it”. (End of scene)

Then there is the Constitutional scholar whose career as a mortgage broker has made him an expert on the Constitution, foreign affairs and women’s physiology. Another scene from the movie illustrates this Tea Party personality.

(Scene): The Congressman is standing in front of a group of carefully selected “constituents” and delivering one of his most profound and thoughtful speeches. Reed sees himself as 6 foot 5 inches tall and wearing an American flag draped over his shoulder as he peers, steely-eyed, into the carefully selected crowd.

“Founding fathers. 2nd amendment. Safe Act unconstitutional, I don’t care what the courts say. (applause) Obamacare BAD, unconstitutional.(thunderous applause) I  don’t care what the courts say. Heroes. We need to do more for our heroes. Our Veterans. (applause and standing ovation) We need to give them better care. We need to stop spending tax dollars on health care.(applause) We need to give our heroes better health care. Stop spending tax dollars on pork. I brought millions of dollars of federal aid to NY. We need to eliminate pork.

I support health care for our females. Stop Planned Parenthood. (standing ovation, thunderous applause, Star Spangled Banner playing in background) No more funding for abortions.  Not on my watch. Stop funding services for women. We need better health care for our women. Stop Obamacare. Keep government out of our lives. Make abortion illegal.   No more welfare. (applause) Love the unborn. End welfare for children. End birth control. 2nd amendment. No deal with Iran. No nukes for Iran. Nuke Iran. (thunderous applause along with a few “Heehaws”)Founding fathers. OK. Gotta go now”. (End of scene)

Then there is the third personality. The moderate. The sensible Mr Reed who only wants to do what is best for all of us.

(Scene): The Congressman appears at a photo op at the opening of a new gas station.

” I support small business. I love small business. I love America. I support women’s rights. I support sensible government. I support the flag and America. I think we can do better. We need to do better. I support those who support doing better. We can do better if we can only strive to do better. Liberty for all.  Let’s do better together. Together we can do better. Is that better? Don’t be scared. I really mean it (wink)” (end of scene).

So, who emerges at the end of the movie when all the personalities are finally joined? Will it be the “you wash my back and I’ll  wash yours” politician in the pocket of the fossil  fuel industry and the NRA? Will it be the Tea Party crazy who can’t decide if he wants to destroy health care for the poor, scuttle the arms deal  with Iran  and take away a woman’s right to choose or all of the above? Or will it be the smooth talking, say nothing,  do nothing , just get re-elected politician who has no real values or ethics?

We won’t tell you the ending. In the original film it was said that Eve and her personalities were finally joined. But a few years later she again disintegrated back into the multiple state. (Now called DID “Dissociative Identity Disorder”).So, she was never “cured” of her affliction.

What will happen to the Congressman in the end? Will his true personality ever emerge? Stay tuned. This reviewer suspects that there is a very lucrative lobbying career on the horizon at the end of the Hyrdofracking Rainbow for one of those personalities….

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Filed under ACA, Foreign policy, GOP, government, healthcare, Iran, Iran agreement, Neoconservative, nuclear weapons, Obamacare, Politics, right to life, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, tea party

Gays: Religious Freedom To Marry?

The Supreme Court will decide later this year whether or not the government of an individual state can prevent homosexuals from marrying. No matter where you stand on the issue, recent decisions  would seem to render any negative decision by the SCOTUS as a moot point.

If the SCOTUS decides that states can interfere with the rights of adults to marry whom they choose they will be facing a problem that they, themselves, have created.

Recent decisions, (Hobby Lobby,  for example) have made it clear that religious beliefs take precedence over the law. Irregardless of how absolutely insane that concept is, the SCOTUS has judged it so. If your religious beliefs are opposed to paying full medical benefits  to your employees, so be it. Don’t pay them. This Pandora’s Box will be used over and over again to avoid various laws.

Which brings us to homosexual marriage.

Currently there are a number of religious groups which do marry homosexuals. And more bless homosexual unions.  For example, the United Church of Christ performs and recognizes gay marriage. Some Quaker meeting houses do, some don’t. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs and recognizes gay marriage. Rabbis of Reformed Judaism perform and recognize gay marriage, as do some conservative Jewish synagogues.

This raises the question. Can the SCOTUS on one hand claim that a private business like Hobby Lobby has religious rights, while denying religious rights to legitimate religious organizations? Can the SCOTUS , on one hand claim that private businesses and individuals can evade the law while on the other refusing to allow churches to practice freely based on religious beliefs?

I would think that the next step, if the SCOTUS decides to deny individuals the right to marry, would be for those individuals and their churches to return to the courts under the auspices of religious freedom. This would be especially true in many of the states that have passed “Religious Freedom” laws directed specifically at undermining gay rights. Those laws may, in fact, be used to assure the religious rights of gay Americans.

Can those decisions and laws now be used as a doubled edged sword to guarantee those same individuals the right to be married in their churches and synagogues. If there is any logic to SCOTUS decisions they will decide that preventing people from marrying is a violation of the First Amendment and freedom of religion. A right they CLAIM to hold so dear.

We shall see.

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