Stealing a Supreme Court Seat Has Consequences

The last time conservatives tried to hurt Democrats by taking unions hostage, Scalia died and the court was split 4 to 4.  You know what they say, a tie is like taking collective bargaining rights from your sister.  So the new Gorsuch infused Supreme Court had to find another case to take in order to retry the same issues and this time smack unions the way Scalia would have as a gift to the GOP.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case designed to let the court’s five Republican appointees kneecap the Democratic Party. Everything about Janus reeks of illegitimacy. The legal claim is laughable, the outcome preordained; even the ostensible plaintiff, Mark Janus, is a puppet. At a recent event, Janus revealed that he does not understand the case at all and in fact supports collective bargaining but incorrectly thinks his union fees are supporting political campaigns. His lawyers seem to have lied to him—much like the court will soon lie to us in proclaiming that the First Amendment somehow prohibits the agency fees at issue in this case. Don’t believe it. The conservative justices can dress up their gibberish in whatever legalese they wish. The reality will remain that Janus is a partisan vehicle designed to serve partisan goals, carried across the finish line by five justices who might as well admit that the Constitution has nothing to do with it.

The worst part of this pantomime is that the conservatives on the court will decide, with no irony or recognition of their hypocrisy that they are subtly removing their provisos to Citizens United.  In that travesty of a mockery of two shams of a travesty, the justices that decided that money is speech and it’s okay to allow as much of it as possible rationalized that the upshot of their decision would have little effect on the nation because all things are equal.  There are millionaires, billionaires and large corporations for the Republicans and there are unions for the Democrats.  Even Steven.  (Roll eyes)

That was ridiculous on its face at the time.  Now the court endeavors to remove whatever disproportionate institutional counterbalance the monied interests of our great nation had by hamstringing unions further.  There is no money counterbalance except maybe those millions of small dollar donations that Democrats rely on because of having better, more rational and sound ideas of governing.  What Republicans, through their legal lapdogs like the Federalist Society, are trying to do is make it so that having the better ideas won’t matter.  Voter suppression, gerrymandering,  propaganda broadcasting (domestic and Russian), and swamping the Democrats with money, are designed to keep them in office despite being a minority.

And if they do lose an election they can still exercise their judgment over government by dominating courts.

Stealing a Supreme Court seat should have been a marching, screaming, #NeverAgain moment.




The Crazy Has No End Either

In the early 1920s the Harding administration was upended by the Teapot Done scandal which involved Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall being in the pockets of the oil and mining industries (at that time even Republicans thought that was inappropriate) and selling them a piece of land in Wyoming.  That was one cabinet secretary, one department of the government, massive scandal.  Harding had the good taste to die in 1923 before he could be tossed out on his tin ear.

Our present president has a cabinet in which each executive is arguably the worst person that ever held that position (yes, even the Secretary of the Interior) just about every department of our government has been completely sold out to industry and interested parties.  The misuse of tax money to take flights and whatnot is the least of it and that would have brought down any of these people in previous administrations.

Scott Pruitt Cited the Bible to Defend Pro-Oil Industry EPA

Payday lenders have a powerful new defender in the CFPB They used to call what payday lenders do usury, it’s clearly unethical and should be illegal.  It sure shouldn’t be defended by an agency created to defend the public from it!!  It’s like calling Animal Control because a rabid dog bit you and they come out and put you down.

Honestly, How do you screw up the National Parks – Zinke is on the case by Charlie Pierce

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross falls asleep in cabinet meetings, but stays awake for Putin.

I’m too disgusted to go on.  I’m just going to lay here for awhile and catch my breath.





Once Again Courts (Even Conservative Ones) Are The Last Line of Defense

Supremes deny Trump on DACA.  This is a huge reprieve for DACA recipients as the program was arbitrarily set to expire by Trump.

The decision all but ensures that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will remain in effect for recipients after the March 5 deadline originally set by the White House. It also takes some of the pressure off Congress to act to pass its own legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, something lawmakers have repeatedly failed to do.

I know it’s crazy but I even think that we might find 5 votes to defend the public sector unions from this conservative conspiracy to undermine them and thereby the Democrats.

And Mr. Uihlein has donated well over $1 million over the years to groups like the Federalist Society that work to orient the judiciary in a more conservative direction. They have helped produce a Supreme Court that most experts expect to rule in Mr. Janus’s favor.

The case illustrates the cohesiveness with which conservative philanthropists have taken on unions in recent decades. “It’s a mistake to look at the Janus case and earlier litigation as isolated episodes,” said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a Columbia University political scientist who studies conservative groups. “It’s part of a multipronged, multitiered strategy.”

Lord knows I’m an optimist.  Sometimes I’m even justified in that.  Not with the Mets or Jets, but sometimes in politics, society things.

I probably shouldn’t be optimistic about the Janus case at all.

The Absurdity of Life in The Kardashian Epoch

In one tweet Kylie Jenner wiped out $1.3 Billion in Snap’s Market Value.  Why argue about guns at all if we just live in a time of total chaos?

The Snapchat parent’s shares sank as much as 7.2 percent Thursday, wiping out $1.3 billion in market value, on the heels of a tweet from Kylie Jenner, who said she doesn’t open the app anymore. Whether it’s the demands of her newfound motherhood, or the recent app redesign, the testament drew similar replies from her 24.5 million followers. Wall Street analysts too, have begun to notice, citing recent user engagement trends noticed since the platform’s redesign.

The galling humiliation of all mankind that someone has to have a conversation with such a useless bag of skin as Kylie Jenner to say “Kylie, you have great responsibility, you need to be more careful with how you wield it.”

Let’s regulate the Jenner/Kardashians.


Tear Down a 52 Story Building to Build a 70 Story Building, Why Not?

JP Morgan Chase, destroyer of worlds, really wants a bigger, shinier newer building than the 52 story skyscraper it has inhabited at 270 Park Avenue in New York for decades.  But it doesn’t want to have to change its stationery… I mean if you change addresses, there’s a shit ton of envelopes and letterhead, not to mention all of the records of all of the hundreds of entities that call 270 Park Avenue home that would have to change.  It’s a nightmare.

So just  tear that old building down and build your dream skyscraper on the same site.

JPMorgan Chase announced on Wednesday that it will demolish its headquarters on Park Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets and build a new 70-story world headquarters on the site for its 15,000 employees.

“With a new headquarters at 270 Park Ave.,” the bank’s chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, said in a statement, “we are recommitting ourselves to New York City while also ensuring that we operate in a highly efficient and world-class environment for the 21st century.”

I’ve watched in my suburban hellhole as one chain restaurant closes and another buys the property only to inexplicably raze the building and build anew.   It kind of makes sense to me that an Olive Garden could exist in the facility that formerly housed a another Italian food chain.  Hell, they’re both purveyors of Italian food.  But even if it was a Ruby Tuesdays or a Famous Dave’s, it’s a restaurant.  There’s a kitchen and a dining room.  Do you have to build that from scratch?  Apparently yes, because they always seem to raze the old structure (which isn’t all that old) and build a brand new one.  It’s quite a waste of materials that head right to a landfill, because no doubt it’s cheaper for the owners to destroy and rebuild than to renovate.

In this case, JP Morgan could easily find another spot in Manhattan island to build that 70 story tower and then just sell the 52 story tower.  But no, there’s financial incentives to stay right there and build.  So 52 stories of glass, steel, dry wall, wiring, pipes, vents, ceiling panels, etc. will come down and be carted off to garbage dumps.  And the city is thrilled about this deal.

I’m disgusted.

Nietzsche: “Madness in individuals is something rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

That is most certainly true.  Reading Daniel Ellsberg’s book “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner” and it is scary as fuck!  Do not understand why this book has not gotten the juice it should have.  Oh yeah I know, Trump.  But since Trump is now the owner of the nuclear “button” all of the frightening secrets of our nuclear planning for the last 60 years were inherited by him and most of the horrible ideas promulgated over that time are still a part of our nuclear policies.

Certainly Maddow, who wrote a book about how defense policies, strategies, systems and budgets have a tendency to “Drift” (which had a chapter about the growing issues of an aging nuclear arsenal), should be fascinated by the revelations of the evolution of our nuclear policies and all of the things that were never told to the public.

I didn’t realize that Ellsberg had been so high up in the defense establishment for so long, but of course, how else could he have gotten the Pentagon Papers?  Ellsberg actually had gathered a second set of “Papers” to blow the whistle on our nuclear planning structure.  But those papers were destroyed accidentally in that time when he was running from the law over the Pentagon Papers.

I will write more about this book, but for now I’ll just leave you with this:  intelligent people understand that the idea of a nuclear “button” isn’t that simple, it’s a series of codes and commands that can emanate from the executive.  But because part of first strike nuclear strategy for us and Russia for 60 years has been the notion/goal of “decapitation” or hitting the command centers of the opposite government first and rendering their entire system inert, both sides essentially developed what was referred to in the semi-fictional Kubrick classic film “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Love the Bomb” as a “Doomsday Machine”.

That’s real.  Both sides created systems of delegation whereby commanders in the field (in Europe and in the Pacific) had the delegated ability to hit the “button” and initiate nuclear strikes if they believed we were under attack from the other side.  The undisclosed policy of both nations was that there could be no isolated nuclear attacks.  If one nuke was unleashed (even by accident), because no one could be truly sure in a timely manner if it was an accident, or isolated, then all out war would occur, both sides would fire everything in their arsenals towards their predetermined targets.  Period.

So while we’re always so focused on the inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we were never told that there has been since the late 1950s a small network of people in command at various outposts of our defense system who had been delegated the ability to launch nukes.  Which, as it was always thought, would initiate all out nuclear war.

Like I said scary as fuck.


New Budget Deal Looks Pretty Good – But…

The games over immigration will not stop.  The budget increases domestic spending on some good programs including spending on CHIP for 10 years and updating the Veterans Administration. It’s a worthy deal, but while McConnell has promised a vote in the Senate over DACA (and people believe him), Paul Ryan is holding to the Hastert Rule, a bullshit partisan procedure in which no bill will be brought up for a vote in the House unless there’s a majority of support by Republicans.  So Republicans can vote things down or just not bring them up even if they would pass, which is unprecedented in legislative history.  Ryan has to stop this ridiculous fealty to his anti-immigration cro-magnon base.

Pelosi is threatening to withhold Democratic votes for the budget in the House if Ryan doesn’t promise a vote. Which now turns the blame for a shut down on Pelosi. Yesterday Trump said “Let’s have a shutdown” but it’ll all be blamed on Pelosi no matter how intransigent Ryan is.