Minute thoughts

Not as in small, but as in, ‘that is all the time I have to think on this right now.

The third branch of our democratic government — the federal judiciary — cannot function effectively and efficiently without a full complement of judges. Unfortunately, there are judicial vacancies in federal courthouses across the nation — resulting in unacceptable delays and compromising access to justice for millions of Americans. Today, there are dozens of highly qualified nominees prepared to fill those spots and to administer justice promptly and fairly in our federal courts. But Senate Republicans have obstructed and delayed at every turn, undermining our judiciary and ultimately our democracy.

First Senator Leahy, we don’t have a democracy and shouldn’t you of all people know that and speak appropriately? And second…..perhaps it is very telling that the nominees are not someone both parties can agree on — someone who will interpret the law, not make it from the bench. Yes both sides are guilty of this. You Senator Leahy just happen to be the one complaining about the Repubs doing what the Dems have done in the past.

 

Next up – maybe we should pay attention to what is happening in other countries, eh? 

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A man was killed and dozens were arrested Friday as a mob looted a supermarket and other shops in an industrial Venezuelan city, Bolivar state authorities said.

In announcing the looting, Gov. Francisco Rangel pushed back against opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government who attributed the unrest to widespread scarcities of basic goods across the oil-rich nation.

….

Venezuela has been grappling with worsening shortages of basic goods like cooking oil and flour. The administration has adopted a variety of measures to address the situation and discourage hoarding, including fingerprinting shoppers who buy food at subsidized prices at supermarkets. Officials also limit the days that people can buy certain products.

Few items are produced locally, and rigid currency controls and a scarcity of U.S. dollars have made it increasingly difficult for Venezuelans to find imported products. Price controls don’t help either, with producers complaining that some goods are priced too low to make a profit and justify production.

The administration blames the shortages both on companies speculating with an eye toward future profits and on black market vendors who buy groceries at subsidized prices and illegally resell them for several times the amount.

The looting came a day after Venezuela’s largest food distributor, Polar, protested a government seizure of one of its warehouses in Caracas and warned that any takeovers could exacerbate supply problems.

Doesn’t the actions of the Venezuelan government sound eerily similar to what some of our politicians have proposed? Even without the dire situation they have.

Look at what happened when disruptions were temporary and localized to a relatively small area – ala Hurricane Katrina. Look at what happens when small scale riots as a political protest break out.  Make your own plans but also remember the government and others will be making their own plans on how to deal with people having more then others.

Called this one way before the Supreme Court took a swipe at passing legislation (see earlier comment) from the bench.

Two recent items in the news reflect the continuing fallout from Obergefell v. Hodges, the case barring states from restricting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. Senator Ted Cruz is holding hearings in response to what he takes to be the“lawlessness” of the decision. And in the New York Times, law professor William Baude asks a question many have been asking in the wake of Obergefell: “Is Polygamy Next?” (Are we sliding down a slippery slope?)

Of course polygamy is next. We will probably have a 5 or 7 year window (probably less) to deal with the various types of polygamous marriages (clan, line, group, etc) before we move on to really rough issues like incestuous marriages between consenting adults. Given that homosexual marriage has opened the door to relationships that aren’t based on procreation; I’m betting it won’t be long before the taboo of incest breaks legal ground. It will take longer but the Supreme Court really set the standard and will be forced to accept their own reasoning.

 

Scalia’s complaint against the Obergefell majority — although he doesn’t put it this way — is that once again a moral perspective has been allowed to displace the process of patient legal analysis. This time the morality is different; not the stern old testament morality that ruled in Bowers and was overruled in Lawrence, but the morality of love, identity, intimacy, spirituality, aspiration, dignity, self-expression and respect — all words Kennedy uses and words that bear the mark of the vaguely new age sensibility Scalia derides when he refers to the “opinion’s showy profundities” that are, in fact, “profoundly incoherent.” What exactly, he asks, is the legal import of intimacy and spirituality, and “who ever thought” that they were “freedoms” of a kind that merited constitutional protection? How can this claim be traced by a legal analysis to clauses in the Constitution? How can the court justify the creation of “‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention?”

There may be answers to these questions, but, Scalia insists, the court doesn’t really answer them. It instead proclaims the virtues of the moral perspective it “really likes” while heaping scorn on the moral perspective it “really dislikes.”

Of course, more frightening than that is the concept that there are ‘acceptable moral perspectives’ that are not connected to the law. Expect more howling from all political parties as this concept gets adopted by the lower courts. It is going to create a free for all in court cases for dozens of years — if our republic survives that long.

 

Well, that is one way to create bi-partianship!

Lawmakers from President Barack Obama’s own party had previously pilloried the administration’s official Trafficking In Persons report, which is used to shame governments that support or tolerate modern-day slavery. Experts say the report has successfully been used in the past to improve worker protections abroad. But in July, the administration upgraded several nations — including Malaysia, Cuba and Saudi Arabia — that independent human rights experts said had done little to improve their human trafficking status.

Lawmakers and human rights activists said that several of these favorable rulings appear to be connected to unrelated political projects. An upgrade for Malaysia, for instance, effectively makes the country eligible for participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade pact the Obama administration is negotiating with 11 other Pacific Rim countries.

“Malaysia’s record on curbing human trafficking is just not sufficient to justify an upgrade,” Sarah Margon, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told The Huffington Post in July. “And I think it’s damaging to the integrity of the report.”

The Obama administration recently reopened diplomatic ties with Cuba, while Saudi Arabia has been upset with the recent diplomatic agreement designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) criticized Malaysia’s upgrade, as did Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and others.

Probably not what he wanted but in trying to create a legacy, Obama’s ego is putting even more human lives in risk. Way to go Prez !

 

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