Category Archives: Politics

First a couple of political notes

Two Supreme Court landmarks this week: the Affordable Care Act upheld and gay marriage declared legal everywhere.

That makes for a wonderful week for the millions of people who have insurance through the ACA, and for the millions of gay couples who want to marry. Not a perfect week. Thanks to various governors refusing to participate in ACA, there are millions of people who can’t benefit as much as they should. And I’m sure there will be all kinds of obstacles thrown in the face of gay couples  (as I’ve discussed here and here), not to mention there are countless other forms of discrimination.

Nevertheless, it’s an epic week.  Of the two I’m slightly more surprised by the ACA decision, let alone that it was 6-3 (the LGM blog called the gay marriage vote accurately). I’m really astonished at Clarence Thomas’ gay marriage dissent, in which he argues that not only does banning gay marriage not deny the inherent dignity of gays, slavery doesn’t take away the dignity of blacks. It’s a real headscratcher.

And Roy Edroso catches some conservatives freaking out over the ACA decision and gay marriage (“Our nation has become like a dead boy floating down a stream.”).

But much as I enjoy watching the freak out, it’s not about them, or me. It’s about all the people who are better off. So yay!

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The Supreme Court is beginning to rule …

But nothing on healthcare or gay marriage yet. We do, however, have—

•As part of a farm program, the government has been forcing raisin farmers to contribute some of their crop to the federal Raisin Reserve, without always paying. The Supreme Courts says that’s a no-go.

•The Supreme Court also thumbed down the part of LA’s municipal code which says cops can request guest registers, license plate numbers, etc. from hotel operators going back three months, without any reason other than We Want It.

•Back in the 1990s, Marvel licensed one guy’s patent on a Spider-Man toy, paying royalties as usual with patents. The patent has now expired. Marvel wants to stop paying and the Supreme Court says OK. What’s noteworthy is Justice Elena Kagan’s spider-quips  (“What we can decide, we can undecide. But stare decisis teaches that we should exercise that authority sparingly. Cf. S. Lee and S. Ditko, Amazing Fantasy No. 15: “SpiderMan,” p. 13 (1962) (“[I]n this world, with great power there must also come — great responsibility”).

•The court also ruled that Texas can legally reject a proposal for (non-personalized) Confederate flag license plates. Dahlia Lithwick thinks the reasoning is flawed (one justice compares it to the right to decide which religious monuments go up on public land) while LGM is more upbeat. Scott Lemieux goes into more detail at Salon on why he thinks it was a good call.

•When I published my latest And column about the fear of false rape accusations, a right-winger I know insisted these were so common it was a totally rational thing to worry about. Reading the tweets from men’s rights activist Dean Esmay about how to deal with feminists shows that no, they ain’t rational (“Who the hell said we are angry?? I am having more fun than a feminist making a rape claim” or “Feminist sex workers will scream rape and have you arrested to steal your money and laugh when you are raped in jail.” which is one of the oldest anti-rape cliches—rape victims are just hookers who didn’t get paid—with an extra dollop of anti-feminism).

•I have nothing worth saying about the horrible Charleston shooting last week. So instead I’ll link to Salon on Jeb Bush’s response; Eric Erickson jerksplaining that this is the logical outcome of tolerating Caitlyn Jenner’s sex change; Defeating the Dragons; and the Wall Street Journal insisting the shooting has nothing to do with racism. Hullabaloo touches on the conservatives who insist the real issue is someone shot at Christians, not race. Mona Charen says she’s much more depressed by how the shooting will affect the 2016 election than the shooting itself, then gets outraged when people say that’s what she said. Oh, and Esmay says maybe the man was driven to it by feminist lies about rape (Blaming the Women is an old right-wing response to shootings).

•My old target David Brooks is caught getting some facts very wrong in his latest book.

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Just a brief link

It’s been a hectic couple of days and as often happens, work has my synapses fried tonight. So I’ll just link to my new And column on the fear of rape accusations and leave it at that.

Back tomorrow!

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Political links

New York resident Kalief Browder was accused of a minor theft and spent three years in Rikers without the case coming to trial. A look at the Brooklyn Courts where the right to a speedy trial doesn’t exist.

•Another lone wolf terrorist who isn’t a Muslim.

•Despite the governor’s veto, the state assembly has given magistrates the right to refuse to marry anyone if they have a religious objection. My previous take on this issue here.

•Human Rights Watch reports that Khmer Rouge killers have largely escaped punishment.

•Iowa says being drunk on your front steps is not public drunkenness, so it’s legal.

•A conservative writer is shocked that the proposed new AP History standards assert that, for example, natives struggled to maintain their independence against European colonial forces. Because that’s just leftist groupthink babble or something.

•An appeals court has decided against blocking net neutrality while the suits against it are in play.

•Nobel prize-winner Sir Tim Hunt mansplains women don’t belong in the lab because they cry too much and keep falling in love with the guys. Echidne discusses.

•I’ve mentioned before that liking a movie or book doesn’t mean you want to live like that. Try telling that to Kyle Smith, who insists men love Goodfellas because the characters live the perfect male fantasy. And that women hate it because they know women are irrelevant to the fantasy life except as eye candy, which is the way men want them. And if women had made Goodfellas it would be a disaster because it’d have to be all sensitive and you couldn’t have guys insulting each other or belittling their buddies.

This is a fairly familiar type of What Men Are Like argument. The writer invariably assumes all men are like him, therefore what he likes and dreams of is what all men desire. Except it’s not true that all men are like that (my two best friends are women—not even counting TYG—and I don’t see any appeal in an all-male space). And as for women being so supposedly super-sensitive—as the writer Natalie Angier says, were the people who believe that ever in high school?

•The Justice Department apparently polices the comments section on Reason magazine.

•Libertarians have talked for years of shipping enough true believers into a small state to take over the government. Apparently some men’s rights activists have a similar idea.

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How dare prosecutors target someone important! Political links.

If you follow politics at all, you’ve probably heard that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been accused of paying well over a million bucks in hush money to silence allegations he molested someone when he was a schoolteacher years ago.

Ruth Marcus, who once expressed outrage a teenager would criticize Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Twitter, is similarly shocked that federal prosecutors are going after Hastert, as well as targeting FIFA (the international soccer group) over the corruption and slave labor involved in preparing for the world cup in Qatar. As noted at the link, her argument is that a)she’s not sure these are good laws (and I would totally agree that it’s a bad thing that lying to federal officials, even when not under oath, is a bad thing) and b)—and this is ultimately the issue Marcus focuses on—that prosecutors should exercise their discretion over which cases to pursue, and not pursue these. Hastert, after all, is a lobbyist, not anyone with influence in Washington, so “what, precisely, is the federal government’s interest — the public interest — at this point in prosecution and humiliation?”

Well, because Hastert is allegedly (and the “alleged” should be kept in mind) using the hush money to cover up sexual molestation of a student. Given that he did, in fact, violate the law to do it (withdrawing big enough sums to trigger disclosure requirements but not disclosing them), it seems appropriate to pursue him. Keep in mind Marcus doesn’t actually object to the laws Hastert broke (at least that’s not a point she makes), only to applying them in this case. So presumably if you’re not an important, well-connected Washington figure, it’s OK.

•The same kind of sloppy record-keeping that bedeviled the mortgage industry in this century can also affect student loans.

Paul Campos makes an interesting point: if this had been structured as a settlement to stave off a lawsuit (Hastert settles out of court, potential plaintiff agrees not to say anything) it would have been perfectly legal.

Slacktivist wonders why Hastert ran for national office with this skeleton in his past. But given he got away with it for so long, I don’t think he was so crazy.

In other links:

Brits are shocked and outraged by third-world asylum seekers spoiling their vacation.

•Some Men’s Rights Activists are outraged by encouragement to share their feelings. But as We Hunted the Mammoth points out, they’re always sharing feelings. It’s just that they want to share rage.

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Putting in a full day is way tiring, so links!

The Chechen president declares that if women were locked up and kept off social media, they’d be easier to control. Oh, and he supports his police chief threatening to take his new bride (chief is 50, bride is 17) by force if she and her family objected.

•You may have heard about Josh Duggar molesting younger girls, including his sisters, when he was in his teens. The parents talk a lot about how God has helped them in their struggles … not so much about their daughters’ struggles.

•Abercrombie and Fitch turned down a job applicant because she wore a headscarf in an interview (they assumed she was Muslim, would insist on wearing a hijab and they have a no caps policy). The Supreme Court says they were wrong.

•TSA agents absolutely suck at stopping people from bringing illicit stuff on flights.

•Here’s a lovely theory from a few months ago: if we legalize rape on private property, women will stop doing things that make them vulnerable (going into private places with bad people, getting drunk—you know, all the stuff that supposedly makes them deserve it) and so there will be less rape. Prosecuting rape just makes women into children by shielding them from the consequences of their actions! Unsurprisingly, the advocate does not mention legalizing man-on-man rape. And here we have an antifeminist who claims that since the guy says he wants to prevent rape, his heart is clearly in the right place.

•AT&T argues that data throttling (slowing down the Internet speeds for people who use a lot of data) is legal no matter what the FTC says. The company would also like to exempt services that cut deals with it (or are business affiliates) from data caps.

•Freshman North Carolina Senator Jeff Jackson has proposed bills on sex crimes that would, among other things, include kids younger than 13 in the definition of statutory rape. Unfortunately the provisions are now attached to a Republican bill that would extend the mandatory waiting period for abortion to 72 hours. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker mansplains that as people loving sharing ultrasounds of their babies, a mandatory ultrasound can’t possibly be bad.

•The company that handled Atlantic City’s loan program for struggling homeowners and businesses did a dreadful job. Privatization, as I’ve mentioned before, is much overrated.

Harassment of a female journalist.

•The federal government is considering new rules restricting access to federal aid to for-profit colleges whose graduates can’t get jobs. A lawsuit to block the change failed.

•Bernie Sanders makes a good point: people say raising the minimum wage will slow growth, but when the benefits of a growing economy are so tilted to the 1 percent, what difference does it make?

•I’ve read multiple liberal evangelicals or former evangelicals who say the only sexual standard is married/unmarried. Nothing about consent. By which logic, Josh Duggar molesting teenage girls isn’t any worse than premarital sex.

•The Voice for Men men’s-right group says it stands up for men on issues of health, reproductive rights, genital mutilation and more. Only the founder says it’s not fighting for any of those things.

•As Arizona slashes college funding, the U of Ark. finds a solution: catering to rich out-of-state kids who’ll pay bigger bucks.

•James Fallows, who called a lot of the problems of the Iraq war before they happened, now says the question to ask is not what supporters think of the war in hindsight, but what did you think at the time? Why did you get it wrong? And how does looking back at Iraq affect your view on future wars?

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Political links (and others) on Sunday Eve

Too bad, sponsors—a company collects $1 million on kickstarter but doesn’t deliver on the product end.

•AT&T argues that net neutrality violates their First Amendment right to decide who it can transmit over the Internet and at what speed, the same way a paper gets to decide what news gets in.

•Uber says that as it doesn’t own its cars and isn’t the employer of the drivers, it’s not bound by disability-rights laws.

•The GOP has been talking more about economic inequality lately, but it’s still fine with tax cuts for millionaires.

•Digby points out that the Obama administration wants details of the US’ torture activities covered up (because it might make someone angry, and lead to attacks!) the White House doesn’t stop Dick Cheney or CIA officials from openly bragging about torture. More here.

•There’s also torture in South Sudan.

•I’ve discussed before the way some conservatives live to make the poor suffer. Although Kansas’ new policy—not allowing Kansans to access more than $25 in welfare benefits at a time, by ATM withdrawal—may be just a way to give the banks’ bottom line a juicing, I suppose. Either way it’s a horrible policy, based on the possibility that someone receiving welfare benefits may have cheated. This is what happens when you design programs on the assumption that if even one person abuses them, the policy is bad.

•Human Rights Watch reports on Ruth Evans, a soldier whose career was deep-sixed when she reported sexual assault.

•A lot of virgin olive oil isn’t that virgin.

•A battle between the big credit bureaus and multiple state attorney generals results in new rules on how the bureaus handle disputes.

•Bikers going at each other with guns? Not thugs and not a riot, according to the media. Ta-Nehisi Coates wonders why white people can’t follow Martin Luther King more?

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