The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Still ridiculously busy

At least I don't have an opera rehearsal tonight. That means I might, just might, have some time to read these once I finish preparing for a 7am meeting tomorrow:

Finally, the old Morton Salt plant on Chicago's Near North Side opened last night as a new music venue called "The Salt Shed." It even got a new coat of paint.

Wait, Monday is August?

Somehow we got to the end of July, though I could swear March happened 30 seconds ago. If only I were right, these things would be four months in my future:

I will now go out into this gorgeous weather and come back to my office...in August.

Sure Happy It's Thursday

So, what's going on today?

Finally, I meant to post this earlier: Cassie, plotzed, after getting home from boarding Sunday night.

The world Clarence Thomas wrought

Writing in The New Yorker last week, Corey Robin argues that the violent and authoritarian world-view of Justice Thomas (R) has much more internal consistency than we on the left usually ascribe to it, but that doesn't make it better:

Thomas’s argument against substantive due process is more than doctrinal. It’s political. In a speech before the Federalist Society and the Manhattan Institute which he gave in his second year on the Court, Thomas linked a broad reading of the due-process clause, with its ever-expanding list of “unenumerated” rights, to a liberal “rights revolution” that has undermined traditional authority and generated a culture of permissiveness and passivity. That revolution, which began with the New Deal and peaked in the nineteen-sixties, established the welfare state, weakened criminal law, and promulgated sexual freedom. The result has been personal dissipation and widespread disorder. Workers lose their incentive to labor. Men abandon wives and children. Criminals roam and rule the streets.

Liberals often claim that there is something hypocritical, if not perverse, about conservatives enshrining the right to bear arms without enshrining the right to abortion. Conservatives have an easy response: one right is found in the Constitution, both as tradition and text; the other is not. That’s what Justice Samuel Alito argues in Dobbs and in his concurrence, the day before, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen, which struck down part of New York’s concealed-carry law.

Bodily autonomy is so foundational to contemporary understandings of freedom, however, that it’s hard to imagine a reason for denying it to women other than the fact that they are women. The fetish for guns, meanwhile, can seem like little more than a transposition of America’s white settler past onto its white suburban present....

Today’s felt absence of physical security is the culmination of a decades-long war against social welfare. In the face of a state that won’t do anything about climate change, economic inequality, personal debt, voting rights, and women’s rights, it’s no wonder that an increasing portion of the population, across all racesgenders, and beliefs, have determined that the best way to protect themselves, and their families, is by getting a gun. A society with no rights, no freedoms, except for those you claim yourself—this was always Thomas’s vision of the world. Now, for many Americans, it is the only one available.

To sum up our current state of affairs: it might have helped the United States if politicians on the left had taken seriously the worries that many of us expressed about the right's march to power. A minority dedicated to controlling the majority can succeed for a long, long time, until it wrecks the foundations of the society too much to survive. Just ask South Africa how that can go.

Busy day = reading backlog

I will definitely make time this weekend to drool over the recent photos from the James Webb Space Telescope. It's kind of sad that no living human will ever see anything outside our solar system, but we can dream, right?

Closer to home than the edge of the visible universe:

Finally, an F/A-18 slid right off the deck of the USS Harry S Truman and into the Mediterranean, which will probably result in a short Navy career for at least one weather forecaster or helmsman.

The perils of a political judiciary

Josh Marshall shares a couple of emails from attorneys dismayed by the politicization of the right-wing Supreme Court majority. One of them gets to the root of the problem:

I don’t believe laypeople really understand what a a heavy, heavy emotional lift it is for the vast majority of attorneys generally, and law professors in particular. The belief that we are serving rule of law and that that while decisions will always be shaped by human weakness, judges can and will render rulings contrary to their ideological predilections if the law requires it is central to our identity. It is what makes more than the lawyer jokes say we are. It is the essence the constitutional principle of due process, equal protection, Magna Carta law of the land. All that stuff. It’s hard to accept that it’s dead and courts are just political actors, even as right wing billionaires have plowed fortunes into making state and federal courts exactly that.

Matt Ford, meanwhile, examines the recent heckling of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (R) at a Washington steakhouse and finds no Constitutional right to dinner:

Is there actually a constitutional right to dinner? Or, more specifically, did the Constitution protect a right to dinner at the time that the Constitution was adopted? The Supreme Court has shown in Dobbs and other cases such as New York State Pistol and Rifle Association v. Bruen that originalism is the only proper method to answer these questions. My own originalist analysis of this issue leads me to conclude that no such right to dinner exists in our legal heritage. Accordingly, I do not think such a right should be recognized now.

To understand whether Kavanaugh had a right to dinner at Morton’s, we must first look to the pre-constitutional context of medieval England to understand dinner’s place in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Antonin Scalia relied upon this time period in his majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, as did Justice Samuel Alito in his majority opinion in Dobbs. There is surely no better way to decide the scope of rights enjoyed by Americans living in 2022 than by surveying the works of legal thinkers from a different country, most of whom died well before the first shot was fired at Lexington and Concord.

This historical evidence also shows that dinner involves a “profound moral question,” as Alito said of abortion in Dobbs. That sets it apart from other constitutional rights that don’t raise moral questions, like what counts as cruel and unusual punishment or what counts as religious freedom. The nature of dinner—when it can be eaten, what can be served, and who may take part in it—is also a matter of sharp and persistent division among the American people themselves. That distinguishes it from other constitutional rights like freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, where Americans rarely disagree. Dinner is just different, for reasons I will hint at but never explicitly say and that definitely have nothing to do with my personal views on the subject.

More constructively, James Fallows keeps his focus on a legal reform that would have bipartisan support if one group of partisans weren't batshit crazy:

It is hard to see how a democracy functions, long-term, with such limitless power in such unrepresentative and unaccountable hands. That is related to the critique that Elena Kagan made in her dissent from the disastrous ruling last week dis-empowering the Environmental Protection Agency, and is parallel to the case I made here.

Yesterday a group called Fix the Court released proposed legislation with a Plan A / Plan B structure.

—The main effect of the law, Plan A, would be to enact 18-year fixed terms for Supreme Court Justices, as many groups (including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and several U.S. Representatives) have proposed, and is long overdue.

—The innovation of the law is its “contingency” provision. The Constitutional validity of any term-limit rules might ultimately be appealed to the same Supreme Court whose members would be affected. And suppose they ruled against it? To keep themselves in their seats?

If that happened, according to this provision, Plan B would kick in: the Court would automatically be expanded, from nine members to 13. The logic of this approach was laid out by G. Michael Parsons, of NYU’s law school, in a detailed law-review article and an op-ed last year.

Of course, this requires that a majority of the US Senate believe in democracy and the rule of law, when it sure seems like they don't.

I've said this before: the next few years will positively suck for the most vulnerable among us as the right-wing Court continues its rampage. Maybe enough people will vote for candidates who can stop it?

The weather is too nice to stay indoors

So I have queued up stuff to read later:

About the Rogers outage: the CBC published a chart showing that network usage hit 100% of its capacity immediately before it started to fall steadily before collapsing entirely around 4am ET. I wonder if the sequence will turn out to resemble the 1965 northeast blackout?

Meanwhile and elsewhere

In case you needed more things to read today:

There are others, but I've still got a lot to do today.