Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, March 29th, 2012.


Eat It, Scalia

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Health Care, Supreme Court

I haven’t had a chance to react to this week’s Supreme Court drama. So let me just link to some other reactions.

Dahlia Lithwick was reasonably upbeat after the first day of arguments. Not so by the end of it. “It’s not a good day for the Affordable Care Act,” she writes. “This morning’s argument requires the justices to start from the assumption that the court will strike down the individual mandate (the issue argued exhaustively yesterday) and asks them to pick over the carcass, to determine what, if anything, survives.”

The most illuminating comment is by Charles Pierce.

I think Justice Antonin Scalia isn’t even really trying any more….He hung in there as long as he could, but he’s now bringing Not Giving A Fuck to an almost operatic level….

…It is plain now that Scalia simply doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act on its face. It has nothing to do with “originalism,” or the Commerce Clause, or anything else. He doesn’t think that the people who would benefit from the law deserve to have a law that benefits them. On Tuesday, he pursued the absurd “broccoli” analogy to the point where he sounded like a micro-rated evening-drive talk-show host from a dust-clotted station in southern Oklahoma. And today, apparently, he ran through every twist and turn in the act’s baroque political history in an attempt to discredit the law politically, rather than as a challenge to its constitutionality.

See also John Cole, who has a long roundup of many other reactions. Worth reading.

Update: Krugman

Given the stakes, one might have expected all the court’s members to be very careful in speaking about both health care realities and legal precedents. In reality, however, the second day of hearings suggested that the justices most hostile to the law don’t understand, or choose not to understand, how insurance works. And the third day was, in a way, even worse, as antireform justices appeared to embrace any argument, no matter how flimsy, that they could use to kill reform.

We’re been calling the Roberts court “corporatist,” but the weird thing here is that the insurance industry wants the mandate. This reveals at least some of them to not be so much pro-corporation as pro-Republican Party.

Anyone else who doesn’t get why the broccoli defense is stupid needs to read Krugman’s entire column.

Update:Justice Scalia is an oxymoron.”

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The Next Phase in the Martin-Zimmerman Case

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criminal justice, Trayvon Martin

There’s a Twitter search #shitzimmermansays that is hysterical — sample —

Ta-Nehisi Coates ‏ @tanehisi
George thought he had a problem when Trayvon said “I came to chew skittles and whip honkies. And I’m all outta skittles.”

This is via a post from Angry Black Lady, which also includes an amazing Nancy Grace video. Yeah, I know, it’s Nancy Grace. But even Grace got so disgusted with one Zimmerman friend/apologist that she cut off his mic.

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Women Fighting Back Through Social Media

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abortion, Women's Issues

An Oklahoma judge overturned an ultrasound law today. Score one for us.

The more interesting story is that women around the country are organizing through social media to push back against what is going on in their states. A record number of abortion restrictions were passed in 2011, but so far in 2012 a lot of similar bills are hitting a wall of resistance. Some of them are getting passed, but many others have been blocked by a lot of pissed-off women.

Here’s a great article at Salon explaining how women are using social media to get the word out and organize protests. Many of these women have never been active before, but they’ve been shaken up by attacks on Planned Parenthood as well as by things said by some really, really stupid state politicians —

In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that hundreds of people attended hearings on the state’s proposed ban on abortion after 20 weeks – a law based on scientifically spurious claims of “fetal pain” that six other states have passed since 2010. It failed partly because legislators couldn’t agree on an exception for “medically futile” pregnancies. In Pennsylvania, a forced-ultrasound bill “has been shelved indefinitely by House leaders, in part because of outcries by more moderate GOP lawmakers who don’t want to deal with it in their election year,” according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. (But not without Gov. Tom Corbett, who weighed in cluelessly in another widely circulated comment: “I don’t know how you make anybody watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.”) In Tennessee, a legislator felt compelled to back off posting abortion records online, citing a fierce backlash and, he claimed, death threats.

“Every time a politician says something terrible, people respond emotionally to that,” says Luther. “It makes people in Florida care about what’s happening in Idaho.” It was harder, she adds, to get people fired up about Utah’s mandatory waiting period, maybe because there was no single tweetable moment.

Some pro-choice organizations have talked about an “enthusiasm gap” among the younger generation, which doesn’t remember back-alley abortions and which they say isn’t fired up the way young anti-abortion activists are. But social media has made it possible for women and men to keep up with the laws that emerge seemingly by the minute — and then sign a petition or, if they’re up for it, flood legislators’ Facebook pages with graphic updates about the vulvas the politicians are so interested in regulating. For progressives in conservative states, who often feel alone in their views, all this can be particularly galvanizing.

People are organizing on their own initiative. NARAL hasn’t been part of it, which doesn’t surprise me. More than 30 years ago I stopped paying dues to NARAL because I felt they were completely out of touch with anything going on outside of Washington, and sending them dues was a bit like throwing money into a black hole — you never saw any results from it. And the Democratic Party hasn’t been any better, especially at state level in right-wing states.

So this is a good thing. Maybe there’s hope.

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George Zimmerman’s Invisible Injuries

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criminal justice, Trayvon Martin

A police video of George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin shows no apparent injuries.

Granted, it’s possible Zimmerman had some minor abrasions that can’t be seen clearly in this video, and if his head had really been slammed into pavement maybe he had a concussion, which also wouldn’t be apparent from the video.

And maybe the reason police didn’t photograph his “injuries” is that there was nothing to photograph. I still can’t believe even an incompetent police department wouldn’t have photographed Zimmerman’s injuries if he had any.

Some rightie bloggers are saying that the video doesn’t change anything, but to me it underscores the fact that we can’t trust any information coming out of the Sanford Police Department. Think Progress has a list of five unanswered questions in the case, and they all focus on police conduct.

Update: Some lame-brained idiot (or else a Breitbrat social media provocateur) has a twitter page calling for open season on George Zimmerman. As of this writing the page has all of 130 followers, which is not exactly a mass movement. But the Breitbrats want President Obama to apologize for it. Give me strength …

Update: Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why it will be really difficult to prosecute George Zimmerman under Florida law.

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