Wednesday 28 October, 2020

Jesus on the mainline

Quote of the Day

”The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”

  • Oscar Wilde

Musical replacement for the morning’s radio news

Randy Newman: Sail Away Link

Long read of the day: The undemocratic US Constitution

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation is a sham, but it’s one the Constitution allows. There’s only one way out of this crisis: it must be amended, writes Julie C. Suk in the Boston Review.

But if Justice Barrett’s confirmation is an undemocratic sham, it is one that the Constitution allows. As COVID-19-infected, unmasked Senate Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee tweeted, “We are not a democracy.” With his pocket Constitution in tow, he noted that the word “democracy” never appears in the Constitution.

And he’s right. By design, the Constitution empowers the Senate, the president, and the judiciary to ignore the will of most of the American people. The Senate, unlike the House, is blatantly undemocratic, overrepresenting citizens who live in small states by allocating them the same number of Senators as those who live in larger states. The presidency can be unrepresentative of the majority because the Electoral College allows for presidents who lost the popular vote (such as Trump) to assume office and exercise tremendous power. One such power is appointing the judiciary. And the judiciary, too, threatens democracy in two ways: the Constitution entitles judges to lifetime tenure, giving them power to shape the law that governs generations of people. And, since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, federal judges have assumed the power to strike down laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures. These aspects of the Constitution are not democratic and were not meant to be…

Worth reading in full. We’re back to my theory of incompetent systems — ones that can’t fix themselves.

How McConnell played Trump

Perceptive piece by John Gruber:

It’s almost comical how badly Trump misplayed this opening at Mitch McConnell’s behest. It serves McConnell’s interest to fill the seat while they can, before Trump seems likely to lose the election. It doesn’t serve Trump’s interest at all. There are voters who love Trump all the more for filling this seat now before the election, but they’re the sort of voters who were going to vote for Trump no matter what. But there are almost certainly an electorally significant number of conservative-leaning voters who care about the makeup of the Supreme Court who might have held their noses and voted (again) for Trump even though they dislike him – maybe really dislike him – just on this issue alone, who will now feel free to vote for Joe Biden because conservatives on the Court now hold a 6-3 majority. If a conservative Supreme Court majority is your top issue as a voter, you’ve already got it. You’re free to move on to your next issues, like, say, having someone you respect in the White House. Or someone who believes in science.

Dave Winer wrote the following a month ago, and I haven’t seen anything that puts McConnell’s place in this better:

McConnell is 78, an old man, and he’s got maybe one more term in him, maybe not even that. He’s playing a game for the sake of the game, the same way a compulsive crossword puzzler has to finish the Sunday NYT puzzle.

He set out to do one thing in his life, turn the court Republican.

Look at it this way. The Republicans had two ways to play this vacancy: ram a nominee through before the election just because they can, or use the vacancy as an issue to help win the election.

McConnell was guaranteed of his life’s goal if they rammed it through pre-election. If they’d waited, that turned into a maybe. It served McConnell’s interest to take the sure thing now, even if it hurt Trump personally and Republicans in general in the upcoming election.

I used to think that Trump was the most evil man in American politics. I was wrong: Mitch McConnell beats him hands down.

Other, possibly interesting, links

  • North Pole ice cap too thin for testing Russia’s giant icebreaker. The Arktika icebreaker will have to undergo a second test-voyage to prove its capabilities to crush thick and hard sea-ice. Link
  • White House science office says Trump ended COVID-19 pandemic as US hits record cases. I know. You think I made that up. Well, see here.
  • New Parents Freaked Out Upon Learning That Babies Can Live Up To 100 Years. “Oh God, we got this baby thinking it would just be a few year commitment, tops,” said Conway, who grew increasingly distressed with her partner as she discovered that some infants can be expected to grow up to six feet long.” News from The Onion

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