Monthly Archives: June 2015

Germany beat France. US beats Germany and will likely have to go beat Japan now. Is this WWII or Women’s World Cup?

North Carolina Is Shark Central

NCShark

Number of shark attacks in NC waters 2004-2014: 25 (average of 2.5 every year)
Number of shark attacks in NC water this year: 4 so far (and it isn’t even July yet)

Why?

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” says George H. Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Burgess says across the United States overall, shark attacks are on pace with an average year, and the chance of getting bit is still very low—an estimated one in 11.5 million for an ocean bather. But, he adds, “clearly, something is going on in North Carolina right now.”

In a nutshell, several factors combine to explain what is going on:

1.  The water is warmer this year.  Actually, the water got warmer earlier this year, drawing both sharks and beachgoers to the ocean.  Some of the blame may be attributed to global warming, but not significantly if at all.

2.  The water is saltier.  North Carolina had a drought, meaning less rainwater flowing into the ocean.  That makes the water saltier, which sharks prefer.

3.  More food.  An abundance of menhaden and other bait (including people) make the NC coast a high-target environment.

4.  Fishing near swimmers.  Fish bait is shark bait.  Sharks go where the food is, and if it is near swimmers, sharks think swimmers are food.

I’m going to the Carolina coast end of August.  Hopefully, they will be done with their gorging.

Kennedy’s Majority Opinion In The Same-Sex Marriage Case Is Conservative, Outdated And A Bit Offensive

Check out this argument, which I agree with, and which is making the rounds in one form or another:

The immediate consequence — the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in all 50 states — is a civil rights victory and a step toward the betterment of our people. But Kennedy’s argument, which is no elegant piece of law, reinforces misconceptions about nontraditional families. And with respect to marriage, he is as conservative as his dissenting colleagues. All that divides them is who gets to say “I do.”

Kennedy’s descriptions of marriage as “a keystone of the nation’s social order” and “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations” are flatulent exercises of cultural atavism. At a time when divorce is routine and fewer people marry or wait longer to do so because marriage is necessary neither for love nor family, sex nor companionship, his claims on behalf a “two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals” are more fitting of a $2.99 Hallmark card than of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

These “mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages,” as Justice Antonin Scalia calls them, are not the extent of Kennedy’s conservatism. He also affirms the devaluation of unmarried people, particularly those with children. “Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers … children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” he writes. “They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life.”

But this is not a brief on behalf of extending marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples. It is, rather, an argument for providing benefits to all families, even those that lack a married couple of any sexual orientation. That means single-parent families, couples who choose for whatever reason not to marry, families comprising parents and adult children who live with them, other blood relatives who live together and every other conceivable arrangement of people whose economic and emotional ties make them families in the substantive, if not juridical, sense.

Shorter version: Kennedy imagines that marriage is the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to sex, raising children, companionship, and love.  He is wrong on all those counts.  Marriage is merely an option that should be available to all who want it.

Insert Your Own Joke About Christie And The Clown Car

There was a time when I honestly thought that Chris Christie posed the most serious threat to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He’s smart, dynamic, and occupies the center better than the firebrand tea partiers.  He showed a willingness to be… uh… what’s the word…. reasonable.

But then two things happened:

(1)  Bridgegate

(2)  Hurricane Sandy

You would think that a major scandal like Bridgegate would have hurt Christie’s chances with the GOP.  After all, he was once their darling.  But nope.  What ruined Christie for the GOP was Hurricane Sandy and Christie’s behavior — he committed the unpardonable sin of not spitting on Obama.  Instead, as I wrote at the time, Christie did this:

Kudos to Republican governor Chris Christie.  “The president was great last night,” Christie said on FOX today. “He said he would get it done. At 2 a.m., I got a call fromFEMA to answer a couple of final questions and then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the president great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done — as far as I’m concerned — a great job for New Jersey.”

And THAT is what made him unpopular with the GOP.  Sad, really.

Anyway, Christie through his hat in the ring for the 2016 GOP nomination today.  He’s the 14th to declare.  And because he was nice to Obama back in October 2012, he’s dropped from a first tier to a third tier candidate.  And he was the only one I was worried about.

“God Don’t Like Ugly”

The boys were out over the weekend celebrating their heritage with Confederate flags flown from the backs of their pickup trucks.  All over the south.  A reporter in Asheville spoke with an eighteen year-old kid doing the same:

We were talking about the reaction he’s gotten flying the battle flag, and Billingsley said it’s been overwhelmingly positive — lots of honks, thumbs-up, and more than 600 likes on a Facebook page.

“I’ve only had one negative, and it was a colored looking at me,” Billingsley said. “He made it look racist, but it’s really him being racist by judging me for flying it.”

Congratulations, Fox News. Mission accomplished. Mr. “I know you are, but what am I?” is America’s future.

An ugly parade of confederate flags on pick-up trucks in Dalton Georgia gets some divine intervention…. or maybe the Billy Bobs are just stupid.

[Language Warning]:

They’re not going away, these yokel.  In fact, they’re gearing up.  You knew it was coming as soon as calls to remove Confederate battle flags caught fire across the South starting in Columbia, SC:

The Ku Klux Klan has been approved to hold a protest rally at the Statehouse next month against removing the Confederate battle flag, with the group calling accused mass murderer Dylann Roof a “young warrior.”

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan applied for the permit last week to hold a rally for 100 to 200 people on July 18 on the north side of the Statehouse.

Old habits die hard and all that.

Pastor Calls For Execution Of Gays

I know.  He’s fringe and we shouldn’t pay attention to fringe.  But I couldn’t resist:

Pastor Steven Anderson, of Faithful Word Baptist Church, called for stoning to death ministers who performed same-sex marriage ceremonies and repeated his call for the execution of all LGBT people.

“I hate them with a perfect hatred,” Anderson shouted. “I count them mine enemies.”

Yeah.  I call for the stoning of anyone who says “mine enemies” instead of “my enemies”.

Anderson said the Bible consistently called Christians to “have the guts to stand up to our culture that is now accepts homos.”

“Where’s the call to repentance?” Anderson said. “Where’s the hope, where’s the love and the grace? It isn’t there.”

Now that’s  how I like my irony served up.

Only Two Women Alive Who Were Born In The 19th Century

When Susannah Mushatt Jones and Emma Morano were born in 1899, there was not yet world war or penicillin, and electricity was still considered a marvel. The women are believed to be the last two in the world with birthdates in the 1800s.

Jones, who lives in New York, currently tops a list of supercentenarians, or people who have lived past 110, which is maintained by Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. The organization tracks and maintains a database of the world’s longest-living people. Morano, of Verbania, Italy, is just a few months younger than Jones and is Europe’s oldest person, according to the group. The group knows of no others born in the 1800s.

___

8190581_GEmma Morano
Born: Nov. 29, 1899
Verbania, Italy

Morano has lived on her own ever since she left her husband in 1938 because he beat her. Now 115, she resides in a neat one-room apartment in Verbania, a mountain town overlooking Lake Major in northwest Italy. She is cared for by her village: The mayor gave her a TV set, her niece stops in twice a day and her adoring physician of more than 25 years checks up on her regularly.

Morano attributes her longevity to her unusual diet: Three raw eggs a day (now two raw eggs and 150 grams of raw steak after a bout of anemia) – a diet she’s been on for decades after a sickly childhood.

“My father brought me to the doctor, and when he saw me he said, ‘Such a beautiful girl. If you had come just two days later, I would have not been able to save you.’ He told me to eat two or three eggs a day, so I eat two eggs a day.”

___

8190579_GSusannah Mushatt Jones
Born: July 6, 1899
New York

Now 115 years old, Jones spends her days in her one-bedroom apartment in a public housing facility for seniors in Brooklyn, where she has lived for more than three decades.

She sticks to a strict daily routine: Every morning she wakes up around 9 a.m., takes a bath and then eats several slices of bacon, scrambled eggs and grits. On a recent day, Jones said little, but family members said she spends her days reflecting on her life and embracing what’s left of it – one day at a time. Her living room walls are adorned with family photos and birthday cards made by children in the community.

“Hey, Tee,” Jones’ niece, Lois Judge, said to her aunt using a family nickname, “How old are you?”

“I don’t know,” the frail Jones responded.

Jones, who wears a yellow turban on her head and a nightgown most days, watches the world from a small recliner. Posters from past birthday parties, letters from local elected officials and a note from President Barack Obama fill the surfaces. A sign in the kitchen reads: “Bacon makes everything better.”

She was born in a small farm town near Montgomery, Alabama. She was one of 11 siblings and attended a special school for young black girls. When she graduated from high school in 1922, Jones worked full time helping family members pick crops. She left after a year to begin working as a nanny, heading north to New Jersey and eventually making her way to New York.

She will turn 116 next week. Family members plan to throw her a party.

What Digby Says: Ann Counter

A good article in Slate notes the fall of Ann Coulter and postulates why:

[New York magazine’s Anne] Lowrey thinks Coulter is pretty much an act that’s gone sour in the age of polarization and she may be right. She compares her to Donald Trump (who Coulter extols for his “immigrants are rapists” comments, which she believes he got from her) and there is a certain kind of scary-clown aspect to both of them. But I think it’s something else — she just isn’t all that shocking anymore. And the reason is that, after all these years — through which she and her fellow right-wing bomb throwers have been poisoning the discourse and polluting our politics with the most egregious dehumanization of just about everyone on the planet who doesn’t look and sound like them — nobody is listening anymore.

Today, Ann Coulter is just political white noise. Sure, she’ll sell her books to the small group of people who can’t get enough of her bilious humor and hatred but her days of being a mainstream pop culture phenomenon are over. Everybody’s heard it all before. There’s almost a whiff of noxious nostalgia about it now.

Read the whole thing

Boston: Up Close

This video may not seem remarkable at first….

Boston, U.S.A. from UrtheCast on Vimeo.

It’s Boston… and you can see Fenway Park and cars moving on Storrow Drive as well as I-40.

Here’s the astonishing, but creepy, thing about this: it was taken from space.  From a satellite.  You can see the Prudential Center and the Hancock Building appear to drift, leaning into their shadows as the camera vantage point changes in relation to the ground.

And it comes from a private company called UrtheCast (click the link above).  UrtheCast offers surveillance data as a service so that businesses can “monitor areas of interest with consistent access to satellite imagery in order to analyze, strategize, and plan,” according to its website. The famous example in the satellite business is the idea that companies will be able to count the cars in their parking lots to track customer flow, estimate revenue, and otherwise contextualize their work.

But it means that private companies can, if they wanted to, track your car movements. Good for homeland security and law enforcement, but kind of 1984ish in a way as well.  Not that a private company would single you out, but it could collect data on thousands of cars and once, and if they can be paired with the owner, then companies can track your real world movements just the same as they track your online movements.

Then again, maybe Google Earth is only a few years from this themselves.  And YOU can track anyone you want, anytime, anywhere.

Charlestown Shooter Was A Product Of The Left Wing: Fox News

Wow, this spin is laughable.

SCOTUS Round-up: Three More Five-To-Four Decisions Today

Today is the last day of the SCOTUS term, and so they issued the last of their opinions.  The two biggest cases — on Obamacare and sames-sex marriage — came out at the end of last week, so a lot fewer people were paying attention this morning.  Here’s what happened:

(1)  DEATH PENALTY – The 5-4 decision in Glossip v. Gross was a win for conservatives who support the death penalty and viewed the case’s technical dispute over one state’s lethal injection methods.  The Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s “drug cocktail” is not cruel and unusual punishment, despite the fact that it has resulted in some botched execution.  Scalia was especially snarky in his concurrence, starting with “Welcome to Groundhog Day” as he noted repeated attempts to abolish the death penalty for good.  He also said that those who seek abolition of the death penalty “reject the Enlightenment”.  (Odd!)

(2)  ENVIRONMENT – The Supreme Court in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency ruled 5-4 against EPA regulations to limit mercury emissions and other pollutants at power plants.  Substituting its judgment for the EPA’s the Supreme Court said the EPA’s decision to impose the regulations was not reasonable or necessary since it did not take into account the costs to utilities to make these changes.  Happy breathing, everybody!

CIrTeTxWEAEYP2U(3)  GERRYMANDERING – In a win for liberals (Kennedy siding with the liberal four), The Supreme Court in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission upheld Arizona congressional districts drawn by an independent commission and rejected a constitutional challenge from Republican lawmakers. The outcome preserves efforts in 13 states to limit partisan influence in redistricting. Most notably, California uses an independent commission to draw electoral boundaries for its largest-in-the-nation congressional delegation.

The Arizona case stemmed from voter approval of an independent commission in 2000. The legislature’s Republican leaders filed their lawsuit after the commission’s U.S. House map in 2012 produced four safe districts for Republicans, two for Democrats and made the other three seats competitive. Democrats won them all in 2012, but the Republicans recaptured one last year.

CIrN-hRWcAE46YlJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court that there is “no constitutional barrier to a state’s empowerment of its people by embracing that form of lawmaking.” In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts accused the majority of approving a “deliberate constitutional evasion.”  The justices have been unwilling to limit excessive partisanship in redistricting, known as gerrymandering. A gerrymander is a district that is intentionally drawn, and sometimes oddly shaped, to favor one political party.

Republicans employed an enormously successful strategy to take advantage of the 2010 census, first by winning state legislatures and then using that control to draw House districts to maximize their power. One measure of their success: In 2012, Republicans achieved a 33-seat majority in the House, even though GOP candidates as a group got 1.4 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents.

Chief Justice got a little snippy by inserting “what chumps” into the opinion (see right).

UPDATE – LATE IN THE DAY 5-4 RULING is good for pro-choice advocates:

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday afternoon to put a hold on court rulings that have reduced the number of abortion clinics in Texas.

Four of the court’s conservatives — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — dissented.

A state law passed in 2013 required clinics providing abortion services to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and it required doctors providing the services to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Women’s groups asked the Supreme Court to put an emergency hold on the effect of the law while they prepare an appeal to challenge its constitutionality. They say the law, which takes effect Wednesday, would force all but nine abortion clinics in the state to close.

“Overall, there would be a net reduction in abortion facilities of more than 75% in a two-year period,” they argue in their court filings. And the clinics that remain open would find it hard to expand their services.

So for now, enforcement of the Texas law is on hold and will remain so until the court decides whether to hear the full appeal.

UPDATE – EVEN LATER IN THE DAY 5-4 RULING is good for pro-choice advocates in North Carolina:

RALEIGH — A federal appeals court must reconsider whether North Carolina can issue “Choose Life” license plates.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling last year that the state could not issue a license plate with an anti-abortion slogan unless it also issued a plate with the opposite point of view.

The order to rehear the case came after the justices ruled 5-4 last week that Texas could refuse to issue Confederate battle flag plates. In that ruling, the Supreme Court said plates are government property and don’t have to offer both sides of the debate.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued when lawmakers voted to offer the “Choose Life” plates in 2011. The appeals court said governments must offer both sides of the debate.

The ACLU said it was disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling and again asked the North Carolina General Assembly to offer a plate with a message supporting abortion rights.

“This case has always been about more than specialty license plates; it asks whether the government should be allowed to provide a platform to one side of a controversial issue while silencing the other,” ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook said in a statement.

Bad Reactions

Helluva week last week.  Supreme Court rulings upholding Obamacare and recognizing same sex marriage as a right.  Obama sings at a funeral for slain pastor after he and others are killed by a white supremacist, and Confederate flags start coming down.  Good week for progressives.

They’re going nuts over at National Review Online.  The once austere magazine and website is looking more life something from the mind (ass?) of Glenn Beck.

National Review Online2

And more locally….

CHARLOTTE — A Wake County man has been charged with assault after police say he entered an LGBT bar, angrily criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and then slapped the owner.

The Charlotte Observer reports Mecklenburg County jail records show 21-year-old Lucas Dylan Wilhelmson, of Holly Springs, was charged with simple assault and with communicating threats in the incident which took place Sunday at The Bar at 316, which caters to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesman Rob Tufano says Wilhelmson walked into the bar and started “calling out people using derogatory terms.” Tufano says after being asked to leave and escorted to the door, Wilhelmson began slapping the bar’s owner.

Wilhelmson was released on bail. It’s not clear if he has an attorney

Well, I guess you gotta expect this. But here’s the worst:  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement yesterday in which he argued that county clerks in Texas can refuse to issue marriage licenses if they have a religious objection to same-sex marriage, despite last week’s Supreme Court decision, to which he referred as a “fabricated” constitutional right granted by an “activist” court.

His statement began:

Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.

Wow.  “How to live?”  How did the Supreme Court tell anybody how to live?

They didn’t even try to tell people how to THINK!

Paston then goes on with a bunch of BS about religious objections, ignoring the fact that county clerks deal with divorce and other things which are religiously objectionable:

Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness, and act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans, but most immediately do anything we can to help our County Clerks and public officials who now are forced with defending their religious beliefs against the Court’s ruling.

For an attorney general to say that a Supreme Court ruling is “lawlessness” — well, you wonder why the people in that state feel as they do regarding the federal government.

The truth is that Paxton cannot do this.  If he wanted to, he could seek a rehearing from the Supreme Court on the issue.  He has 25 days to do this.  After that, it would be contempt of court every time a marriage license is denied.  Paxton probably knows this; he is probably grandstanding.  If not, this could become like Brown v Board of Education.  Will the National Guard be called in to make sure gay marriages can take place?

UPDATE:  This text exchange, however, is going viral.  A soon-to-be-wed man sends a message to a wedding photographer he retained:

Brentwood

End of Prison Break

CInoccpWIAAAJSgBack stories:  Prison Break and Richard Matt Shot

Well, it looks like they got the other guy.  The 22-day manhunt for David Sweat and Richard Matt ended Sunday when the fugitive was spotted just 2 miles from the Canadian border. He made it closer to Canada than Matt, who was found and killed Friday near Malone, New York.  Both men had signs of roughing it in the woods: Matt had bug bites on his legs and Sweat had a backpack stuffed with maps and Pop-Tarts.

New York State Police Sgt. Jay Cook spotted Sweat near a barn in the sleepy New York town of Constable. Sweat bolted, and the lone officer gave chase.

“At some point, running across a field, he realized that Sweat was going to make it to a tree line, and possibly could have disappeared, and he fired two shots,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico told reporters.  Sweat, who was unarmed, was struck twice in the torso. No one else was hurt.

Sweat is in critical but stable condition this morning.  Obviously, they’re going to interview him to find out how he got out, what the two of them did, etc.  But it is a pretty cool story.  Thousands of police involved in this manhunt, and in the end it was a lone police officer making his rounds that ended this thing.  Sweat was less than two miles from the Canadian border.

This will be a movie someday.

 

Be safe, San Francisco. Shots fired at pride festivities

RT @inhabitat: Costa Rica Becomes First Latin American Country to Ban Hunting for Sport. bit.ly/1AVvhHM

RT @tbogg: All we ask of gay married couples is that they not name any of their kids ‘Jayden.’ Seriously, we’ll take it back. Don’t push it.

Unconfirmed [Now Confirmed] Reports Say Richard Matt, One Of Two Upstate NY Prison Escapees Has Been Shot

Breaking:

MALONE – Richard Matt has been shot and may be dead near Malone, a source has told The Buffalo News.

Tweets from the Plattsburgh Press Republican said that several trooper cars with lights flashing were headed west in Malone of Fayette Road about 4 p.m..

New York Times confirms:

Richard W. Matt, one of the convicted murderers who staged an elaborate escape from New York’s largest prison nearly three weeks ago, was shot on Friday in a burst of gunfire by law enforcement officers, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

The shots rang out as law enforcement officers zeroed in on Friday on an area of remote terrain in Franklin County, near where investigators discovered evidence in two hunting cabins that indicated the missing inmates had been there.

It marked another turn in a sprawling manhunt that began in Dannemora, N.Y., a small village near the Canadian border, and soon spread to large swaths of the state after David Sweat and Richard W. Matt engineered a daring breakout from Clinton Correctional Facility.

UPDATE:  New York Times now saying he’s dead.

UPDATE #2:  Police are “engaged” with second shooter.  (Is this a gay marriage thing?)

You Won’t See This In A President Again

President Obama, standing at a podium at the front of a large audience, and in front of black church members and Rev. Pinckney’s family, begins to sing “Amazing Grace” a capella, and the people in the room join him, then musicians begin to accompany him. After one verse, the President shouts the names of the victims, saying each of them “found that grace!” He then says: “Through the example of their lives, they’ve now passed it on to us. May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift as long as our lives endure. May grace now lead them home. May god continue to shed his grace on the United States of America.”

Watch this…..

This Says It All

Obama Derangement Syndrome:

Atlanta resident Ted Souris, 62, describes himself as an “arch-conservative” who initially opposed the health law. He said he had mixed feelings about the ruling. He receives what he calls “a pretty hefty subsidy” to buy insurance — he gets $460 and pays $115 a month for insurance.

“I’m so against Obama, and I hate that he has any kind of victory,” Souris said, “but it’s nice that I don’t have to worry” about affording health coverage.

He said that he doesn’t like getting what he calls “a government handout” but that the law — and the subsidy — allowed him to retire early and still have coverage. “I am glad I have the Affordable Care Act, and I appreciate that I got the subsidy.”

These people just hate.  Hate Obama.  Even when Obama does things that are good for them.

I’m not saying it is racism, but whatever it is, it is a very strange pathology.

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 To End The Sanctity Of Marriage

46 years ago this weekend, police in New York City raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn.

Obviously, this is the end (we hope) of a remarkable civil rights story (despite my snarky headline).  Here’s the opinion.

Reactions are about what you expect.  I will update as the day goes on.  But the important thing is that about 3 million gay people just won the right to become married.

The dissents are interesting.  They all take pains to say, “Hey, I’m happy about the result!  Seriously!  Go celebrate!”, just before launching rather odd objections.

The main dissent is by Chief Justice Roberts, but all of them take great pains to say, essentially, “Hey *I* don’t have a problem with gay marriage”.  The thing they object to, universally in dissent, is that the court should not decide.  They would rather have this worked out in a democratic fashion.

I think Kennedy, writing for the majority, dispenses with this.  First of all, it has come up through the courts.  There is a split in the circuits.  It IS a legal question.  And the Constitution supersedes democracy.  End of story.  If I had a bone to pick about the majority opinion, it is this: Once again, Justice Kennedy did not spell out what constitutional test he was applying to a claim of gay equality.  It simply discussed a series of court precedents, and his own recitation of notions of liberty, without saying what burden those challenging the bans had to satisfy before winning the right to equality.

The dissents also mischaracterize the majority opinion, saying things like “the majority views bans on gay marriage as unwise“.  No, the majority views same-sex marriage bans as UNCONSTITUTIONAL and a violation of the 14th Amendment.  The majority is not substituting its preference for that of legislatures — they are doing what upper level courts often do, i.e., decide whether something is constitutional or not.

Ironically, while the dissent says the majority is acting extra-judicially, many of the dissents arguments have little to do with the actual law (instead, they argue policy, democracy, etc.)

Breakdowns and reactions below the fold

“Words have meaning… and their meaning doesn’t change.” – That’s the *gayest* thing Scalia has ever said.

RT @FrankConniff: I think we should still keep an open mind to the GOP’s imaginary, make-believe, non-existent alternative to Obamacare.

Seriously though, and gloating aside, I’m happy for the millions of people who won’t lose their healthcare.

Cause And Effect

Trump announcing his presidential bid, last week:

“When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. […] They are sending people that have lots of problems. They are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime and their rapists, and some, I assume, are good people, and I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”

Today:

Univision is canceling its telecast of the Miss USA pageant, an event partially owned by Donald Trump, to protest Trump’s offensive remarks about Mexicans.

Univision is the biggest Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States, so its decision is a blow to the Miss Universe Organization, a joint venture of Trump and Comcast’s NBCUniversal division.

Yeah.  That’s the guy I want speaking for America.

UPDATE – The Donald also tweeted this today

Yyyyyyeah.  I don’t think it has to do with the trade deals so much as calling them drug mules and rapists.

MORE: NBC is distancing itself from the views of Donald Trump. In a rare rebuke of a longtime content partner, NBC released this statement late Thursday: “Donald Trump’s opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration.”

The Other Case: Victory For Fair Housing

It won’t get as much press, but the Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Community Project, Inc., is arguably as important as the Obamacare case.

The 5-4 ruling (PDF) found that the housing policies could be deemed discriminatory based on “disparate impact.” This means that plaintiffs could prove discrimination by showing that the impact of a housing policy was discriminatory.  That’s the way it has always been, but a bad decision today could have meant that plaintiffs would have to prove discrimination by showing a motive — a specific intent to discriminate.  In the absence of someone publicly admitting they are racist, this is very difficult — if not impossible — to prove. The impact would have been to essentially gut the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

While some of the ruling, written by Justice Kennedy and joined by the four liberal members of the court, turned on technical issues of statutory interpretation and precedent, the underlying theme was a finding by the Supreme Court that a lot of discrimination, in 1968 and today, is either unconscious or hidden:

[The law] permits plaintiffs to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification as disparate treatment. In this way disparate-impact liability may prevent segregated housing patterns that might otherwise result from covert and illicit stereotyping.

So, another good win today.

RT @michaelianblack: “I am very upset that millions of people get to keep their health insurance.” – today’s GOP talking point

RT @billclinton: I applaud #SCOTUS‘ decision to uphold #ACA. Our people, communities &
economy are stronger when healthcare is affordable a…

Maxim: The more bombastic Scalia gets in his dissent, the more wrong he is. (When you are wrong on the facts and the law, slam the desk.)

Obamacare Subsidies Upheld By SCOTUS

I’m actually not that surprised at the outcome.  The surprising thing was that the Supreme Court ever took this case in the first place.

But the US Supreme Court upheld the challenge to Obamacare.  The opinion is here.

In layman’s terms, the issue surrounded some (arguably) vague language in the Affordable Care Act relating to the federal government providing financial assistance to people who get Obamacare through their state exchange.  If you interpret the language one way, the federal government cannot provide financial assistance.  If you interpret it the way Congress intended it, then the federal government can provide financial assistance.  Without the federal government assistance, however, health insurance will become far too expensive for millions of people who buy it through their state exchange, and so they won’t buy it.  (In North Carolina, it would increase healthcare costs by over $300 per month).   In effect, it would end Obamacare.

So the question was actually quite simple…. did Congress intend to write a healthcare law that wouldn’t work?

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion and the short answer to that question is….

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Chief Justice Roberts did note that the ACA was a badly written piece of legislation.  (There are, he notes, three separate Section 1563s).

Scalia’s dissent is pure Scalia.  It refers to “interpretive jiggery-pokery” and calls the majority opinion “pure applesauce”.

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Elsewhere, he writes: “Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!”

He writes that the court “rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere… We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” (that’s the first time “SCOTUS” has ever been used in a SCOTUS opinion).

He says: “Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

And similarly: “[T]he cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”

Talk about projection.  Scalia is the one with the obvious agenda and “favorites”.  That last comment is a pretty harsh attack on his colleagues, including the Chief Justice.

We should remember that Scalia didn’t give a rat’s ass about the clear language OR the legislative intent of the Voting Rights Act when he and his conservative colleagues gutted it, deciding unilaterally that it didn’t apply to today’s world, now that there isn’t racism any longer.

Roberts, by the way, took Scalia’s own dissent from the last major Obamacare case, and used it against Scalia.  It was buried in a footnote and amounted to a small dart lobbed Scalia’s way.  To defend making the subsidies available to consumers everywhere, Roberts cited a line the dissent to the 2012 decision in favor of Obamacare, in which Scalia said, “Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”

Roberts used the line to argue that it “is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate” in a manner to limit the subsidies only to those states with state-operated exchanges, as the challengers in King v. Burwell argued.

Other reax below the fold

The basic tone from Roberts decision is “Congress is inept, but we shouldn’t penalize people for the ineptitude of Congress.”

No more opinions for today. Same sex marriage will be tomorrow or Monday morning.