The Widdershins

Batman, Brief Sniffing, and the HOTS…

Posted on: July 6, 2012

Good Friday morning Widdershin friends.  If you are anything like me a holiday falling midweek throws me into a cosmic time warp somewhere between a Star Trek episode and Groundhog Day.

In any event, I was planning on a “big thought” Friday, but given that I recently purchased a new box of highly absorbent Q-tips my big thoughts have suddenly winnowed away, so let’s try a Whitman’s Sampler of lesser, but nonetheless, insignificant thoughts from your unnecessarily verbose scribe.

You say Tomato, I say Tax

Since the Supreme Court ruled last week on the Affordable Care Act and then beat a hasty retreat for undisclosed locations, there have been all manner of dustups.  I’ll deal with a couple.  First, there’s Eric Fehrnstrom’s statement that Governor

Something smells musty…

Romney didn’t agree with the mandate being a tax.  Eric is a longtime Romney confidant being something like Alfred to Romney’s Batman.  Upon further reflection, Governor Romney promptly threw Eric under the Batmobile and stated quite unequivocally that he now believed the mandate was a tax.  Eric Fehrnstrom was the spokesmorman who had previously stated that positions taken in the primary were like an Etch-A-Sketch — after the primary you just turned them over, shake them, and they magically disappear.  I’m imagining the good Mr. Fehrnstrom upside down being given a good shaking like a two-year old bottle of ketchup.

Quite simply, there is absolutely no difference if the mandate is called a tax or a penalty because the language of the ACA is exactly the same for both — not one jot or tittle’s difference.  Ezra Klein asks the definitive question of, “Who cares what you call it, it’s all the same.”

Wake Up and Smell the Briefs

While we’re at it, let’s turn the luminescent wattage of the Bat Signal on the crazy conspiracy theories around Justice Roberts’ decision regarding the Affordable Care Act.  His decision has bunched more underwear than a bargain bin at Victoria’s Secret.  To hear the neo-cons, you would have thought they were being sent to Lorena Bobbitt’s snip and tuck boutique with the Chief Justice being called everything from a traitor to a drug addled zombie.

There’s nothing sinister or even revelatory about Roberts’ decision.  Here’s the down and dirty — Supreme Court Rule 14 says a party must clearly state all questions of law to be heard before the Court.  This statement of issues isn’t hidden, it is one of the very first pages in all briefs before the Supreme Court.  The issue of the mandate being a penalty versus a tax was certified and before the Court from the very first day.  It isn’t unusual when the government is a party to a Supreme Court case that alternative theories are pled — meaning, if you don’t like the Column A choice, would you like to consider something from Column B or Column C.  To be highly legalistic here, there’s a Supreme Court maxim that has been around since God was a boy that says if there are two readings of an act of Congress, the Court must use the one that is constitutional to uphold the law.

Enunciated first in 1928 by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in  Blodgett v. Holden it stands for the proposition of judicial restraint and deference to the legislative branch.  Sound familiar?  It is the same refrain you constantly hear from the same chorus of neo-cons each time they fail to agree with a Supreme Court decision.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

This concept isn’t “legal rocket science,” it is taught in first year Con Law — so all those pundits who mewled about a conspiracy or Justice Roberts being a traitor to the conservative cause, you have the Column A choice — they are stupid,  Column B choice — they need better teevee ratings, or Column C — they are Sean Hannity (see Column A).

Texans Don’t Get the HOTS

In a little reported item from the Lone Star State, the Texas Republican Party passed a resolution against teaching critical thinking skills in Texas schools.  In the platform plank, the statement said critical thinking leads to questioning authority and calling into question long-standing beliefs.  While that is their stated resistance to the idea of young people “boning” up on critical thinking, I think it had more to do with the acronym representing (H)igher (O)rder (T)hinking (S)kills since obviously they didn’t want Texan kids getting the HOTS.

Nothing left to say…

This is significant when you consider textbook publishers more often than not tailor their textbooks to the curriculum of the Texas School Board.  Texas provides 48 million textbooks in any given year and essentially controls 46 or 47 other states in terms of textbook content.  For several years the Texas School Board was chaired by an ultra-conservative dentist who among other memorable statements said, “Somebody’s gotta stand up to the experts.”  He has since been defeated, but this textbook purification crusade continues so as to destroy the “liberal myths” of separation of church and state, evolution, and any number of other heretical thoughts espoused by Satan’s own handy men cleverly called scientists.  This crusade is about controlling the minds of young people today since tomorrow they could be controlling government — I’m not kidding, that is the stated goal.

Holy Coincidence Batman

Undated photo of a young Antonin Scalia and Burgess Meredith

To round out the day with yet another Batman reference, I thought it appropriate to mention that Justice Scalia has done his best Burgess Meredith impression of the Penguin and waddled across First Street, NE to address the Tea Party Caucus in Congress.  Even though they were having fish for lunch, it is very unusual for a sitting Supreme Court Justice to do something so partisan.  I mention this because in the Arizona immigration case, Justice Scalia waxed on at length about the parade of horribles that immigration had visited upon Arizona without so much as a single citation to support his accusations.  (As of yet, there is no citing protocol for Fox News.)  Much like earlier in this Supreme Court term when he squawked from the bench about the “Cornhusker Kickback” that was neither in case before the Court nor ever actually enacted by any legislation.

It would ruffle more than a few of Justice Scalia’s feathers to know that as of last year, there were estimated to be 360,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, which is less than 6 percent of the Arizona population — below the estimated average illegal immigrant population in the United States.  So much for Arizona bearing the brunt of illegal immigration, as was pointed out in the Slate article by Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Justice Scalia to conservatives is often called brilliant, scary smart, and an intellect of heretofore unknown heights, but to paraphrase the adage, “in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king,” — in the land of wing nuts, a tool can be king.

This is an “all skate” open thread.


16 Responses to "Batman, Brief Sniffing, and the HOTS…"

I think Batman is supposed to die in the new movie coming out this summer! Which means we’re all seriously screwed!

I just finished reading “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson about the US Ambassador to Germany 1933-1938. Fascinating read and he was a fascinating man. One thing I never truly understood and appreciated until reading this book is just how insidious and always-present the Nazi party propaganda was. People were told daily, several times a day, everywhere they looked, that Jews were the problem and the rest of the world disrespected Germany. And so the public willingly watched Hitler take control and then, well, we all know what happened then. First, in historical context, it really puts a damper on the theory that the regular Germans just didn’t know what was going on, bless their hearts. And second, what we are seeing today from the Far Right is so terrifyingly similar to what the Nazis did in the 1930s. This is not a hyperbole.

And yes, a one-eyed man is king before the blind. But as the newly bisexual/gay Frank Ocean sings on a Kanye West/Jay Z song: “What is King before a God?” And we all know that David Koch is God.

I read “In the Garden of Beasts” and drew quite a few comparisons between the policies of the 1930s with those of what is happening in 2012 right here in our own nation.

Abortion was outlawed. Jews were being stripped of their rights. Gays were expelled from jobs and thrown into workcamps. Laws were changed at the stroke of a pen. And the majority of the population went along wearing blinders to what was going on. Sound familiar?

We haven’t yet reached the “drastic stage” as yet but the same policies are being proposed right under our noses. Women’s rights are being diluted and in some states abortion has been outlawed. Jim Demint would deny gays jobs in the public sector. Voters rights are being upended in states demanding IDs.

And the majority of the population continues to walk around with their heads up their butts voting these same proponents back into office.

Anyone else notice the similarities?

Great piece, prolix!

I gave the wrong dates for Dodd’s ambassadorship. He was there until Christmas 1934. A real Hitler fan, one of many in the US State Department at the time, took over after Dodd was fired. Dodd became too anti-Nazi for the State Department’s taste.

Pat is right, there are so many parallels between the right wing in America today and what the Nazis did in the 1930s. But a right-wing friend of mine read the book and didn’t see of the parallels! She blamed everything on Roosevelt, of course.

“In the Garden of Beasts” has just now rocketed to the top of my reading list — thanks for the recommendation.

This is the embedded link to the long, long NYT Magazine article that really sounded the clarion call for me about the insidious nature of the Texas textbook crusade. While a few saner heads have replaced some of the more vocal opponents of “real history and real science,” the war continues. So few people realize that the Texas School Board races are determining what their children are being taught in their local schools virtually all over the country.

One of the incidents related is that the former chairman, since defeated, took the publishers out for a TexMex lunch and told them, “I want more stories and fables in these books with good morality tales.” Shortly thereafter, there was a confirmatory e-mail from one of the publishers to the now deposed Chairman stating how much he had contributed to the new edition of the textbook. Help us all!

Another great post, Prolix.

I have nothing to add. It’s so hot here ( 102 degrees / 115 heat index ) that my brain is moving slower than a heffalump stuck in quicksand.

It’ll be 98 tomorrow in NYC. Garbage smells so nice!

A little aside here on the dangers of the heat. Wednesday afternoon I got a call from a longtime friend to go check on her elderly parents who were overdue from a trip. They had had some difficulty, pulled off the road on an isolated, rural road, got out of their car, and had been unable to get back to their car. I found them after they had been in sweltering 105+ degrees laying in a field for about an hour and a half.

Long story short, they spent the night in the hospital with no apparent long term problems. The moral of the story — don’t go out in the heat unless you absolutely have to and if you have problems, stay in the car with the air running, and dial 911. These folks were just really fortunate.

Excellent post Prolix, but we’ve come to expect that from you already!!

Beata 97 and H.I. 102.

Prolix I had forgotten about the impact the TX book board or whatever has on the country but was reminded by this. Nah, we definitely don’t want the kids developing any critical thinking skills. That’s dangerous.

Last night over at Uppity Womans’ place she made a comment about lil Bobby Jindal and the fact that he’s a graduate of Brown and a Rhodes Scholar and said something to the effect that the only time he didn’t show his intelligence was when he opened his mouth. 😉
Bobby has also subscribed to the “we played with the dinosaurs” creationism school of thought, which, while it makes him popular with the ole boys in the lege, sorta wipes out the credentials of that Oxford degree. Of course, just my opinion.

DYB said: It’ll be 98 tomorrow in NYC. Garbage smells so nice!
Think of it this way D: the rats will be able to dine al fresco even if the air is not so fresh for the humans around. 😆

Prolix@7: OMG! Thank goodness you found them.

Hint: always carry a bottle of two of water with you. I always take a bottle with me in the car whether I’m just running to the bank, or to K-mart. Wally-world or wherever. Your vehicle can break down and even if you have an auto club membership you could be sitting on the side of the road for some time.

Saw this yesterday. The House passed a Farm bill which knocks the sh!t out of…naturally, the food stamp program.

The legislative draft envisions reducing current food stamp spending projections by $1.6 billion a year, four times the amount of cuts incorporated in the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill passed by the Senate last month.

[Sen.]Stabenow cited the food stamp issue, saying the House bill “takes far greater cuts in food assistance by changing eligibility rules so that some people truly in need will not receive the help their family needs.”

@10: It’s Christmas in July!

Wow Prolix, that’s a scary story! And how fortunate that you found them.

Ahhh, lovely about the farm bill vs. food stamps!

Fabulous post, Prolix. Unreal about the TExas republican party.

critical thinking leads to questioning authority and calling into question long-standing beliefs

Ya think?!

SophieCT: Nah, we can’t have no critical thinking. that thar stuff is dangerous!!

…cuts in food assistance by changing eligibility rules so that some people truly in need…

These probably wouldn’t qualify as “truly needy” either if they were here.

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