Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"The Cradle Of The Best And Of The Worst"

Two quick notes on our cousins across the pond, one encouraging, the other... well, you'll see.

First the good news: gay marriage support has been unanimously approved as part of the Democratic Party platform.  It's not totally a done deal, since the precise language still needs to be worked out, and very few people ever lost money on betting Democrats being too venal and cowardly to get anything done ("breaking news: Democrats abandon plans for piss-up in brewery after Limbaugh points out Communists liked vodka"), but it's a welcome development. 

Obama's party are now on record of being in favour of a free choice between adults over who they marry, protection for those who learned they were illegally brought into the country as children, and the idea that non-wealthy Americans should not be allowed to live in crippling pain and abject terror. The Republican convention in Tampa will come out against all three.  Following that convention, Romney's poll numbers will go up.  Go figure.

Anyway, onto the rather less impressive news.  Well, it's not exactly news, really - which in itself is cause for reflection - but Chief Justice Antonin "Get over it" Scalia is on a book tour, and here's what he has to say on interpreting the right to bear arms in the 21st Century
SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.

WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?

SCALIA: Very carefully.
For those who aren't up on the lingo, a "textualist" is basically someone convinced that there can be no extrapolation of the Constitution to represent the progress of the US as a country over 200+ years, because a text written by multiple authors frequently at odds with each other contains a single "intent" that just so happens to be whatever modern-day conservatives believe in at any given time (seriously; Scalia literally reversed his position on what the document says just before his Affordable Care Act ruling; the ruling he came out with would have been impossible under what he insisted was the "intention of the framers" for the entirety of his previous career).

So, for those keeping score: an immensely complicated multi-part law modelled on previously-judged constitutional processes aimed at improving the health of the American people?  Obviously needs to be thrown out in its entirety, because it might lead to the government force-feeding people broccoli, and because judging each part separately would take, like, a really long time (I am not exaggerating in the slightest here).  Whether or not individual citizens have the constitutional right to own shoulder-mounted rocket launchers?  That shit is complex!

(I confess I had the same question that ABL has in the link above: what about suitcase nukes?  I've seen Starship Troopers.  But the truth is, I don't think the possibility of shoving an a-bomb into an RPG and letting rip really has Scalia worried at all, since it would only ever be rich white guys who could afford them.  Scalia's biggest fear on this score is that portable nuke launchers would make killing ducks too easy during his next hunting trip with Dick Cheney.)

In case it hasn't been obvious from this and other posts, I despise Antonin Scalia.  Really and truly, my blood boils whenever I think of him.  Not because he's wrong, or even because his wrongness comes with a body count.  It's because he's simultaneously an unprincipled hack, a terrible debater, and a constant scold of others for lacking integrity and intelligence.  A man of unsurpassed arrogance who will spend the morning violating the constitutional principles that are his job to uphold, the afternoon calling his colleagues unworthy of their positions, and his evenings cruising the talk show circuit hawking a book about how only he is principled enough to be able to change his principles when they no longer suit him.

Because he's a guy who can argue it would be a terrible idea to let cameras film the Supreme Court because the media would distort the truth of what goes on - only an idiot would disagree! - and can also argue there's no reason to worry about the staggering amounts of corporate money pouring into political campaigns right now, because the American people are smart enough to tell when political ads are distorting the truth of what goes on.  Only a monarchy-lover would disagree!

And because he can argue both those things during the same interview.

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