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Courtesy of FOX News. Your go-to place for images of the Constitution, less so for accurate readings and interpretations of it.

My basic view on the proposed anti-Citizens United Constitutional Amendment is that (a) it’s good in terms of messaging, as people know what it is, the concept is popular and it is good to organize around, and (b) it’s a shitty idea in terms of substance. The risk here is in convincing people that they need to pass a CA to fix a Supreme Court ruling–which is essentially impossible, suggesting that leading Democrats are unwilling to simply amend the Judiciary Act to restrict judicial review when they get a majority. If the hope is to keep the power of SCOTUS intact for the potentially more liberal post-Kennedy and Scalia Court then it’s understandable, though the virtually-infinite power of the Court is a major problem that we might as well fix sooner than later.

And I do have to say that the benefit of (a) is going to be fairly minimal. This isn’t as effective as the flag burning amendments, which admittedly had a limited group of enthusiastic backers (old men in VFW halls, basically), but pushing for that amendment was smart in that, had it actually passed Congress (it came incredibly close), it would have meant ten or twenty or whatever years of free media attention as various state governments debated the issue. Wouldn’t have made people change their votes probably, but it would have had nationwide resonance that could have boosted voter enthusiasm, and for sure it would have sucked up a lot of political oxygen on an issue that, while minor, pushed the right way for them. With this proposed new amendment there’s no real chance of any of that so I’m not all that excited I must say. I guess it’s good to put people on the record, fine as an opening move maybe. I guess we’ll see.

so we’re gonna *use* the recording studio in the yutz’s living room — the yutz in question being, of course, conservative America’s own bearded lady, Sarah Palin. (Or maybe chicken-head geek. Hard one to nail down, carney-wise.) TPM’s quoted quote was a cherce and representative example of the interview-with-a-schizophrenic-cat-lady-on-the-street genre:

You don’t bring a lawsuit to a gunfight, and there’s no place for lawyers on the front lines.

Never give the early bird an even break, and it’s an ill wind that brings May flowers, amirite?

Anyway, DailyKos’ Hunter nailed it yesterday vis-a-vis Mooseburgers’ being the conservative traffic circle smack dab on the corner of dog whistle and dumb:

The reason [Palin] still gets all that attention? Because she is not a unique little flower of the movement. Not by a stretch. Not even a little bit.

Her cookie-cutter wisdom, little bits and phrases taken from movement fortune cookies and stirred together into an incongruous word mulch, is precisely what the wider movement wants to hear; that much, and no more. If she says impeach, it is because the conservative zeitgeist has gotten its collective undies in a bunch over the word impeach, and if she stumbles over the reasons it is because not one person in her audience truly cares what the reasons might be. If she is considered a wise owl of the movement, it is because all the people clapping are that much dumber. Paul Ryan is the Budget Wonk, because he once wrote some numbers down. They didn’t add up, but by God he wrote them. John McCain is the serious foreign policy wonk, because John McCain demands we alternately bomb or arm every last faction he hears about, which are the only two serious foreign policies that the entire vast sweep of conservative think tanks have ever been able to come up with. The CPAC crowd and the NRA crowd are entirely indistinguishable because both define “freedom” to be something you get by taking it from the other guy.

And Sarah Palin is their prophet because the job was open, and the cash is good, and because it is a requirement of the movement that you dispense a soylent mush of symbols and shibboleths and angry exclamation points to your audience without ever saying anything that would be too specific, thus causing conflict, or too moderate, thus implying weakness, or giving a general flying damn about the law, or recent history, or what you said last week. She is their prophet because she is perfect at this job. She represents the id that has overtaken the party and swallowed it up whole, the id that has given us the Scott Walkers and the Chris McDaniels and the All of Texas. She is the painted clown at the entrance to the great conservative roller coaster, the one that grins and points out a finger and says you must be no smarter than this to enter.

How can a traffic circle be on the corner of anything, you ask? Grasshopper, you have much to learn.

More hathos from my re-read of the Quinn article:

Democrats as well as Republicans are very angry at the president, says retiring Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, who emphasizes what he sees as a lack of respect for the office of president. “I’m angry at him,” he says. “I’d like to kick his butt across the White House lawn.”

I would think that letting President Ronald Reagan off the hook for Iran-Contra–and thus normalizing the notion that breaking the law is just what presidents do–would preclude a lack of respect for the office of the president. Then again, I’m not an eminence grise.


Worth remembering that the recently deceased, esteemed statesman was just as capable of prudish stupidity as anybody:

“Ambrose is right on both scores,” says Howard Baker. “But the difference between Clinton and Nixon is that Nixon resigned because he couldn’t stand it. Clinton is not cut from the same cloth. He can compartmentalize. I drive by the White House at night and think, ‘What in the world are they doing right now? How do they function?’ I would be destroyed.”

For Baker, the most serious consequence of the scandal is “the diminished capability for the U.S. to lead by moral example . . . the impact on Kosovo and Iraq. I can just see Saddam Hussein licking his chops seeing that the U.S. is less willing to respond.”

Just to clarify, that last part isn’t a joke. It was a serious thing that a respected person said–that Clinton getting his rocks off would lead to another Gulf War. And in a funny way he was right.

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Going back over Sally Quinn’s legendary “villager” article from the late Clinton era, what’s most depressing is just how relevant it still largely is, how little the thinking has changed. I actually had to take a breather after reading this:

“People felt a reverent attitude toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” says Tish Baldrige, who once worked there as Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary and has been a frequent visitor since. “Now it’s gone, now it’s sleaze and dirt. We all feel terribly let down. It’s very emotional. We want there to be standards. We’re used to standards. When you think back to other presidents, they all had a lot of class. That’s nonexistent now. It’s sad for people in the White House. . . . I’ve never seen such bad morale in my life. They’re not proud of their chief.”

Nor should there be, since as we know there was zero sexual infidelity during the Kennedy Administration, and it’s a shame that Clinton couldn’t live up to the Emily Post standards of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. This bit is not only unaware but also utterly childish in its inability to appreciate nuance. Our elites seem to have the emotionally-stunted worldview of late-teenagers who go from seeing their idols as perfect heroes to bullshit sellouts, which is not really a development so much as the other side of the same coin. In this case it’s still binary thinking that either worships the president, or treats him as the sole wrong thing with the country. Lewinsky is long past, but the same folks blame Obama for not being able to get Republicans to agree to things they’ll never agree to, and for a while all but worshiped the unsuccessful Bush presidency because he grabbed a bullhorn at Ground Zero. If ever there were a better argument for moving the nation’s capital–basically to get away from these people–I am unaware of it.

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tsa screening2I shit you not:

This afternoon, the TSA published an announcement stating that passengers boarding flights to the US from “certain overseas airports” (the specific airports go unnamed) will first need to prove that “all electronic devices” they’ve packed can be powered up. No power? No flight — at least not while you’re carrying that dead device.

Security Theater just keeps getting worse and worse.

Day 1: We announce that you can’t bring a dead electronic device through security.

Day 2: Terrorists put their nefarious WMD in an electronic device that isn’t designed to be powered on.

But hey, no big deal, because furriners.

common-law-marriageAs a gay lawyer pondering the marriage equality issue for a long time, one of the key strategic advantages of gay marriage over [ugh] “civil unions” is that any laws that deal with married people are already written to include “married” people.  For example, half the states in the U.S. prohibit discrimination in housing and employment due to “marital status”.  Bingo: gay gets married + you discriminate based on that marital status = illegal.

Thus, it’s always (partially) surprising to me that articles like this never deal with the “existing marriage laws” angle:

The U.S. Constitution protects gay people’s right to marry the person they love. It does not, however, protect them from getting fired for doing so. Throughout the first decade of marriage equality, most states that legalized gay marriage also proscribed anti-gay employment discrimination, rendering this legal dissonance moot. But as more and more states find marriage equality foisted upon them by a judicial mandate, this discordance in rights presents something of a ticking time bomb for the LGBT movement. [...]

Thanks to federal lawsuits, judges are already considering the idea that existing law outlaws anti-gay discrimination in every state and that the Constitution guarantees same-sex adoption rights. The same logic that shoehorns anti-gay discrimination into sex discrimination could be used to turn the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination clause into a protection for LGBT people.

Anyone who’s been exposed to any state legislature will know that passing any new law that includes precise, targeted revisions to existing law(s) is far more difficult because shiny new sexy laws dealing with texting while driving and teen sexting have that so-enticing new car smell (for the children).

Thus, coming up with an all-new, kludgy, “separate but kinda equal” concept like civil unions requires both passing the new shiny law (admittedly tough for a topic like this), but it also requires a herculean exercise of reconciling nearly every state law — large, medium and teeny-tiny — to awkwardly wedge a “civil union” alongside its “marriage” counterpart.  (And don’t even get me started on local county/parish/city/township laws, regulations and ordinances.)  When you, as a legislature, have such a daunting task as that, you inevitably tend to limit your efforts on a few key, high-impact issues such as non-discrimination in employment and housing.  But countless other thousands don’t get the attention they deserve.  (This of course assumes that the state’s civil union law isn’t written as a sweeping, unqualified “in every instance, a ‘civil union’ shall be deemed to equal to a ‘marriage’ in all respects” — but (surprise) none of them are written that way.)

When you go full marriage equality, the analysis changes.  Like I sad, “marriage” is already written in!  It’s written into laws, it’s written into company policies, its written into hospital admittance policies, etc.   All of this comes with some important caveats, including, e.g., a hospital can refuse to follow their written policies (because jeebus), or, a superseding constitutional amendment may be on the books banning recognition of gay marriages.

Anyway, just one more arrow in the quiver.  I just wish it would get talked about a bit more.