The independence of the Judicial branch of our Federal government is one of the key checks and balances created by the framers of the Constitution. So long as their only master was the law of the land, including the Constitution, the Federal bench would be able to restrain the potential excesses of the Executive and Legislative branches without being susceptible to the whims and passions of the electorate.
In the 2012 elections for the House of Representatives, Republics won 54% of the races despite receiving fewer votes nationwide than the Democrats. In 2016, the Republicans eked out a narrow victory in the nationwide popular vote, 51% to 49%, but ended up controlling 55% of the seats.
In short, our representative democracy is failing at being representative. Continue reading “House Repairs”
To a modern right-winger, everything is a person. An embryo is a person. A corporation is a person. The coffee mug on my desk could be a person to them for all I know. In their view, the difference between an embryo and a corporation is that eventually the embryo will emerge from the womb and need health care, food, and shelter. At this point, the embryo becomes a moocher, a leech, a drain upon society and can go fuck off for all they care.
We often hear the United States Senate referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” That expression was coined by the fifteenth President of the United States, the otherwise unremarkable James Buchanan. You could say that the United States Civil War was just Abraham Lincoln cleaning up the mess Buchanan left behind. Since Buchanan was himself once a Senator, calling a body of which he was a member “the world’s greatest” anything smacks of shameless self-promotion.
This is supposedly the dawning of the age of artificial intelligence. We have cars that can drive themselves, sort of, and thermostats that can adjust to our daily patterns, more or less. Google just showed off a technology where the electronic “assistant” inside your phone can call a restaurant or a hair salon to make an appointment, and the person on the other end of the call won’t even know they’ve spoken to a piece of software.
Now we’ve all seen enough movies to know what happens next. Next, HAL murders the rest of the Discovery crew, then Skynet becomes self-aware, and, boom, we have Terminators.
You may have had this experience, where your racist, right-wing uncle, the one who shows up drunk for Thanksgiving with his Chinese-knockoff MAGA hat on backward, puts something like the following on his Twitter feed:
“Nazi means ‘National Socialist,’ so that means socialism equals Nazism. Checkmate, libtards!”
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the avuncular face of science in our popular culture, and I am confident that virtually all of what he communicates to the world is conscientiously accurate. However, there is one instance where a statement by Dr. Tyson flew in the face of objective reality as I understand it.
He said that he is not an atheist, but he is an agnostic.
In 1967, Under-secretary of State Nick Katzenbach was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the progress of United States military operations in Vietnam. When Senator Fulbright expressed concern that President Johnson was waging war in Southeast Asia without the authority of a Congressional declaration of war, Katzenbach scoffed that this constitutionally-enumerated power reserved to the legislature was obsolete in the nuclear age, when a president might have mere minutes to respond to a Soviet missile launch.
Libertarianism sure sounds great in principle, and as a purely philosophical position, the idea that in all situations, personal liberty should be the first priority, there is a lot to praise about it. As a political governing principle, however, I found it lacking in the power to address real-world problems.
If you pay attention to progressive media, you will hear people use the term “corporatist” to describe politicians who accept generous bribes, I mean campaign donations, from large corporations, usually via dark money contributions to their SuperPACs. In this use of the word, “corporatist” means “wholly owned by and beholden to corporate interests.”