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Scalia: Interjections!

scalia-gesture_400x400I woke from my pre-bedtime nap yesterday to find that news of Antonin Scalia’s death was almost an hour old.  I uttered an uncharitable interjection.

It was uncharitable because I did not think of his family or his grandchildren or anything like that. It was uncharitable because his death is one of those eucatastrophes in an already unorthodox election year that could blow the joint wide open.

First, let me get out of the way that I did not like Antonin Scalia. I’ve heard that some of his opinions on defendent’s rights were good and he had a soft spot for habeas corpus. So, the guy wasn’t all bad.

But this is the same Supreme Court justice who helped give us Citizen’s United and didn’t think Brown vs the Board of Education was a good decision.

If you are the kind of voter who only cares about abortion and whether gay people get away with doing “unnatural” things with their naughty bits without being stoned, then Scalia was your guy. I might point out that the Supreme Court has had five justices to overturn Roe v Wade for over eight years now and as far as I know, it hasn’t been overturned so someone hasn’t been entirely honest with you.

But if you cared about more than sexual morality, then Antonin Scalia was one of the moving forces behind some of the most regressive Supreme Court decisions of our modern age. He affected everything from voting rights to workers rights.

I have to admit that I have had a secret desire that one of the conservative justices would reach an age where their parts would unexpectedly wear out in time to make a difference. It didn’t much matter to me which one it was. Roberts, Alito or Thomas are too young so I suppose it had to be Scalia.

So, what does this mean for 2016? Well, one of the first things to come to my mind is that there won’t be enough justices to tamper with the voting rights act case they were planning to take on. That one, had it been decided 5-4 along party lines, would have stripped urban districts of even more voting strength because some rural districts in Texas complained they didn’t have the population to go toe to toe with a place like Austin. And it won’t have the extra vote to stick a knife through the heart of public unions by allowing freeriders to not pay dues. Those were two juicy decisions that I am sure the Republicans are going to hate losing.

We can speculate on how this will play out in this election year.

If the Republicans decide to block the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice, The Democrats can use that in the general election to illustrate that when Republicans don’t like something, they don’t compromise, they don’t concede the other side’s right to do what the law requires. No, they obstruct. They’ve been doing this for at least two decades in every branch of government. If we don’t let them aggressively roll over everything that is important to us, they refuse to cooperate.

It could make the Republicans rally around Ted Cruz. This could be another opportunity for the Republicans to roll out the shiny, sparkly abortion football again. The fundamentalists will salivate over that and will completely forget that if there’s a 5th conservative justice again, the court’s priorities will be all about squashing labor and keeping people from voting again. All you need to do is look at recent history. Will fundamentalists look past the sinning junk on their bodies that Satan is controlling to think about the greater repercussions to their economic stability and ability to change their political minds in the future? I am not hopeful that fundies will grow brains overnight so expect them to go nutz with the baby murderer stuff again forgetting all about the job murderers that appreciate Scalia types.

This might be an issue for Trump and not in a good way. He doesn’t have Cruz’s nauseating religious bona fides.

On the Democratic side, it could potentially take the wind out of Bernie’s sails. If the GOP is steadfast about blocking a new justice, the party will want to unite around the stronger candidate going into the general. That’s assuming the Democrats still care about things like voting rights, which I am assuming they do.

By the way, I am not confident that Obama will nominate a liberal justice. He’s not a liberal and I have no idea how Kagan and Sotomayor will vote now that their votes might actually count for something. The titans of industry, both finance and Silicon Valley, have a completely different agenda and it also isn’t particularly nice to workers. So, who knows what will happen there? We’re all going to have to scrutinize records very carefully. If Obama nominates someone the Republicans can actually vote for, we could be right back to where we were yesterday morning when we all thought that Scalia was just sleeping in.

What’s your prognostications? See any twists in this story coming up? Who do you trust and who is going to benefit from Scalia’s death? Add your comments below.

Update: From the NYTimes post on Scalia’s legacy comes this comment from John0123 that sums it up perfectly:

John0123

Denver 17 hours ago

I’m about as grief-stricken over this news as Scalia would have been to hear that liberal poster John0123 had died.

Former justice Scalia always assumed he was the smartest guy in the room and often came close to saying so. Unfortunately his personal “strict constructionism” was a sham in light of the highly activist rulings he either wrote or joined. Citizens United comes immediately to mind, where he gleefully conferred personhood upon corporations and the status of speech upon money..

How will the so-called “conservatives” in the Senate play this? Moderate President Obama is very likely to name a moderate replacement. Will the fire-breathers in the Senate get a grip on themselves and take a good deal while they can get it, or will they roll the dice on the 2016 election and run the considerable risk of having a President Hillary or a President Bernie name Scalia’s much more progressive replacement?

At least one of us readers isn’t buying into the crazy notion that Obama is a liberal.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

sweetchocobear

 

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Tuesday: Convergence, Ladies?

Is there a war on women?  Kalli Joy Gray asked that question of White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer at this year’s Netroots Nation.  Melissa McEwan at Shakesville documented the atrocity here.  Here’s the YouTube video.  You decide:

I like the part where she says something like, “PLEASE don’t bring up Lily Ledbetter. We’re tired of that.”  And then, almost the very next thing he talks about is- Lily Ledbetter.  BUT, Pfeiffer says, Obama is supportive of the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Yes, I can almost picture it now.  Obama, standing at the window at the White House, looking down the Mall towards the rotunda and whispering to Pfeiffer:

“Those poor little things.  That act is never going to be passed.  I wish I could do something for them.  Go, Dan, go  and be my man in Minneapolis, tell them how I, Feminist in my Heart, that I support them.  If only I knew how…  If only I were President and knew how to use the bully pulpit or had enough experience in congress to manipulate legislators like Clinton did or just knew how to exercise the levers of the executive branch with signing statements…or something.”

What I think we are witnessing in this exchange between Pfeiffer and Gray is contempt.  She’s justifiably angry but he is contemptuous.  Why else would he have offered such a lame defense of Obama’s policies for women?  He’s not even *trying*.  Maybe the White House figured that after 2008, Netroots Nation attendees were not too bright.  I don’t think that’s the case.  They just happen to have fault lines and weaknesses like every other bunch of humans on the planet.  They had just suffered through 8 years of Bush.  They wanted a hero.

Ok, nevermind.  That was stupid.

Nevertheless, they are pretty smart people in that room.  Minneapolis experienced a general increase in collective IQ when it hosted Netroots Nation and there tends to be more women at this event than the media lets on.  But Pfeiffer came to NN almost completely unprepared and fumbled when he brought out that tired old crap that the Obama administration feeds to what they think are the stupid masses.  “Lily Ledbetter.  They probably don’t even know what that is.  Whatever.  Why do *I* have to go to Minneapolis??  Everyone else is going to be drinking beer and playing pool this weekend.”

Like this:

The Politico post says criticism of the Obama staffers who showed up at a Georgetown bar to drink beer and relax was limited mostly to conservative blogs.  Well, I am not a conservative but this picture speaks volumes to me.  The shirts came off supposedly, because the staffers got caught in a rain storm and their clothes were wet.  But as you will note, there are a couple women in this pic and their tops are on.  Women don’t take their wet sopping clothes off in public no matter how cold, clingy and uncomfortable they are.  The guys just whip them off.  Not a problem.

I suspect some readers are going to get distracted by the rules of propriety for women in a public place but they would be missing the point.  If you are a working woman, and the women in this pic are colleagues of the men, you know that there are certain symbols that separate the men from the “girls”. The power tie is one of them. This kind of crap is another.  How you are allowed to dress, are expected to dress, does make a difference.  I could care less if they all got a little toasted after a hard day at work.  But when you go out with your female colleagues, you should keep your shirt on.  We can tell from this picture who has the power on the Obama staff and their professional opinion of their female colleagues.  This is what leads to the tone deafness from Pfeiffer and the Lily Ledbetter crap.  Little things, like the ability to go shirtless at a bar, make a difference in your attitude towards the women you work with.  It’s like a bunch of naked guys having a meeting in a sauna.  You can’t invite the ladies.

By the way, when did Obama last go golfing with Jan Brewer or Debbie Wasserman- Shultz?  Last week, Obama, Biden, Ohio governor Kasich and John Boener (R-Ohio) Speaker of the House, did a round of golf, presumably to hammer out some kind of deal (that for some strange reason couldn’t get legislated in public…).  Obama doesn’t go golfing with many women, or at least, *I* never hear about it.

NPR’s All Things Considered read mail from listeners defending the president’s golf meetings that are looking increasingly out of touch in these days of high unemployment and falling wages:

Now on to some other mail. Yesterday, I talked with Peter Finch, an editor at Golf Digest. This, as President Obama, Vice President Biden, House Speaker Boehner and Ohio Governor Kasich prepared to tee-off tomorrow. So, Finch offered some tips for conducting business on the golf course.

Mr. PETER FINCH (Editor, Golf Digest): I think it makes it much easier to approach somebody and to talk to them about things that you want to accomplish together after you’ve played that around.

SIEGEL: Well, Al Arismandez(ph), of Redondo Beach, California, writes to say that he has completed deals on the golf course and he offers this advice: Once you’ve cheered or applauded a successful golf shot of a playing partner, or commiserated with them in a poorly executed one, there is a quick if not deep look into that golfer’s humanity. That’s the kind of insight and understanding that can go a long way, much longer than my tee shot on hole number one.

Hmmm, seems to me that Obama is missing out on a whole lot of female humanity in his golf-business-deal making meetings.  Maybe if he invited more women, they would tell him to STFU about Lily Ledbetter.

So, what does this have to do with the “war on women”?  In one of the biggest battles of the war, the neanderthals won yesterday when in a 5-4 decision in a gender discrimination suit, the conservative men of the Supreme Court told the women of the Supreme Court, and by extension, all the rest of the working women of this country, that the women plaintiffs didn’t have enough in common to bring a class action suit against Walmart.

What’s the big deal, Scalia seems to say.

It’s dumbfounding but I guess you just have to live through it to understand what is going on in the working world.  You have to be one of the women in the department who watches her male colleagues, but NEVER her female colleagues, eat lunch with the new male director every day in the cafeteria.  You have watch your female colleague work her ass off and deliver quality work, go out of her way to stay until 9:30pm at night to get it done, and still watch one of the precious and few promotions go to a guy who essentially has done nothing in nine years.  Hmmm, was he a lunch guy?  Why, yes, yes he was!  Presumably, the manager was able to get a quick look into the humanity of his male subordinate lunch partner as they commiserated over a poorly executed stir fry chicken and vegetables. You’d have to be a female member of a department where all the other females are much more junior than any male member of the department. You’d have to put up with, but never complain about, the sabotage of your agency and authority at work. You’d have to see your promotional opportunities continually lag behind your male colleagues year after year.  You’d have to endure more critical reviews of your work, less praise and still be expected to suck it up and find some kind of internal reward system to keep on going.  You’d have to get used to living in a smaller house, driving a cheaper car and watching your money more carefully.  Don’t even think about golf.  There will be informal meetings and strategizing and divvying up of the pie that go on you will never be a party to.  Get used to it or go home.

It’s not at all surprising to me that three of the four dissenters on the Supreme Court were the only women, Kagan, Sotomayor and Bader-Ginsburg.  What’s disturbing is that the five males on the other side had the nerve to tell someone with Bader-Ginsburg’s expertise that the women of the Walmart suit couldn’t link their cases together because they had nothing in common and the company as a whole was not responsible for the decisions of individual regional managers.  It doesn’t matter that women as a whole at Walmart can’t seem to break through that glass ceiling no matter what they do or how hard they try.

Right there on the Supreme Court we see a microcosm of what’s going on in the rest of the working world.  The three women are the most junior justices; Sotomayor and Kagan because of their tenure and Bader-Ginsburg due to the unfortunate failure of her party to take the White House for decades.  The people in charge on the Court are 5 men who have the nerve to tell the three women that there’s nothing going on at Walmart.  Jeez, why don’t they just shut up and get back to work?  We have to go duck hunting with our buddies.

Well, I have a confession to make.  I hate those 5 men.  No, really, I do.  I could never act as an agent of their deaths but I can’t wait until one of them pops off from some stroke or disease or accident or impeachment.  It can’t come too soon.

And I am swearing off Walmart until they lose a couple of billion.  When the shareholders are screaming for the male executives heads, maybe they’ll institute a company wide gender discrimination policy and rigorously hold managers accountable for violating it.  The male jerks of the Supreme Court won’t make them do it so the women shoppers of America will have to do it.  Even my 72 year old mom is livid.

Unemployment is high, the wars wage on, health care continues to be expensive, people are losing their houses and Obama is still trotting out Lily Ledbetter.  And more and more of us are asking ourselves, how come we can’t have Hillary in 2012?  What better way to guarantee that when one of those five assholes bites the dust that a woman who “gets it” is appointed?  With Hillary in the White House, there are potentially eight years to wait out Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy and Alito, the conservative Catholic lockdown on American women. The way the economy is going and in light of his subpar performance evaluation for the past four years, Obama might not make the cut next year.

Do women really want to take that chance?  What say you, male attendees of Netroots Nation?  Do you want to continue to condemn your sisters to a lifetime of second class status?  Or are you all talk and beer and no shirts?  Can you get over your love affair with Obama long enough to help us even the playing field or are you going to persist in your clueless hostility for “that woman”?