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June 15, 2020

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Looks like a case of 'if in doubt or crisis, go further to the right'.
I would also not dicount the possibility that participation in the primaries (if in person) will have an extra bias in that direction (beyond the usual 'only those who REALLY care vote in primaries, i.e. those more extreme than the average) due to COVID-19. Those on the fringe will be more likely to ignore or deny the health risk. So, polls are probably a better measure of the political climate than primary votes.

Actually, it was convention delegates, who are likely to be even more politically involved and aware than primary voters.

Barely on topic, but....
A note for "But Gorsuch" fans, Mister Justice Gorsuch just wrote the 6-3 Supreme Court decision saying that the Civil Rights Act's prohibition of job discrimination on account of sec obviously includes a prohibition against job discrimination on account of homosexuality.
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2020/06/15/justices-rule-gay-workers-protected-from-job-discrimination/

I think there are several, interlocking reasons why they do this.

- Their political program demands that they run the "most conservative" candidate they believe can win. Whatever that may mean at a given point in time.

- Don came out of apparent-left-field with an agenda that amped up the existing pattern of branding moderates as "RINOs"and such, and made it work. A lot of people seem to mistake that fluke for a strategy.

- Some politicians are so far out over their skis that Don's fall is their fall, so they're all in. Which means the Dittoheads with less risk to carry are all in.

- Some elements of the far right have convinced themselves this is a make-or-break moment - the pure must die on this hill to save a future for their white/straight/xian/rural/fill-in-blank progeny.

As a different blogger likes to write, solve for the equilibrium.

I don't think any of those representatives care if it hurts their party in the long run. I think this is the fruit of evangelical GOP radicalization around abortion, homosexuality, and evolution.

I have close family that homeschooled largely because of evolution and are active anti-abortion activists. They are anti-homosexual largely because their political theology has adopted patriarchy and the nuclear family as the central points in their view of Natural Law (which is their Get Out of Constitutional Jail Free card).

They feel some discomfort over the political cost and personal pain that others feel because of their personal crusade, but they are doing it in support of a divine mandate and with the surety that everything is foreordained to go to crap anyway.

One of them just recently wrote that she did not support BLM because BLM supported abortion and was against the nuclear family, and those two things were the cause of all the suffering of African-Americans. And with that, all discussion ends.

These people have been the grassroots and shoe leather of the GOP for four decades.

"Any of these" above being any that maintain this constant ideological push, not "all of the representatives in the GOP conventions."

It's a collective action problem: the personal incentives don't match the group incentives because until someone proves they can buck the extremists successfully, no one wants to be the first to get taken down.

There is a similar problem that I see society-wide: the overbundling of all politics. Pretty much no one is willing to have allies, everyone wants to insist on vassals. So you can't support a narrow cause without it getting bundled together with EVERYTHING on that 'side'. This turns into purity fights and thoughtcrime enforcements which aren't necessary.

also, since it's a hopeless cause, the motivation for actually winning is losing out to the motivation to prove to your cohort that you are the Ultimate Conservative.

Gorsuch and Roberts will turn around and take this victory away under the RFRA and/or the free exercise clause.

To wit:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/neil-gorsuch-conservatives-supreme-court

The takeaway, the giveaway, and the getaway:

"The whole point of the Federalist Society judicial project, the whole point of electing Trump to implement it, was to deliver Supreme Court victories to social conservatives."

I'll totally cop to enjoying some schadenfreude reading the reactions at that TPM link.

The CA GOP has been "purity not success" for a long time--I remember wondering, when they ran Max Rafferty for the Senate, how on earth they thought they could succeed with someone this extreme. They duly lost the Senate seat.

And this was in 1968--so, more like half a century than a couple of decades, though it wasn't until the 90's that they really started to lose bigly.

But it’s all balls and strikes John. :-)

"the motivation to prove to your cohort that you are the Ultimate Conservative."

May his wish come true!

("Ultimate" == "last", of course; and Good is almost certainly ignorant enough to proudly claim the mantle of "Ultimate Conservative" without knowing that)

And this was in 1968--so, more like half a century than a couple of decades, though it wasn't until the 90's that they really started to lose bigly.

They flirted with extremism that early. But they also tacked back towards the center . . . until, in 1994, Pete Wilson endorsed Prop 187 (citizenship tests, barring illegal immigrants from health care and public education, etc.). After that, it was all downhill.

Several people in the racism threads were adamant about how much things have improved since they were young, but looking at the state of the US judiciary and the radical retrenchment of the GOP Congress, I keep thinking that we have been engaged in a rear guard action on several equality fronts since the 1990s, and got bogged down in the trenches entirely since 9/11.

So what is the overall trajectory? Are we still trending upwards, just more slowly, or are we losing ground that will have to be made up once again? And will the GOP remainder let the contested ground go without scorched earth?

Let’s see what happens in November.

FWIW, I am an optimist.

Since nous has a military metaphor at the end, I'll put another one. This is a shortening of their lines. They pull in so there it is easier to pass aid and support to one another.

The problem with this metaphor is that it views the forces of liberalism as somehow winning, a victorious tide that is dealing with a rump of true believers who are going to fight to the bitter end. Pretty easy to flip that script. This rump (assuming it gets totally destroyed) becomes the Foreign Legion at Camaron, Vicksburg, the Jewish zealots at Masada. If they turn it back, (thru, presumably Trump winning a second term and the constant exhortations that this is the American way, so even if the system somehow shat Trump out again (setting aside questions of foreign meddling, dark money and astroturfing), this would be Bastogne, the Alamo, the Great March, Dien Bien Phu (though no self respecting conservative would cop to the last two).

This is not to bust nous, who I feel has been particularly astute in the discussions of late (a fact I strongly feel because he and I seem to agree on everything that has been discussed) And this isn't a tone argument, "oh, if you just stop using military metaphors, things would be a lot better".

In fact, I pick on nous here to try and show how baked in some of our frames are, a point that if I made it about people who I disagree with would be taken as an attack.

And it is worthwhile considering the conflict that the frame of military action sets up in this debate. Embracing the frame means being told that you are only countenancing one answer, you are fanatic and you've got to see that there is a middle ground. Rejecting the idea that this kind of thinking needs to be stamped out (I mean, really, 2020 and officiating at a gay marriage is still a problem?) means that you either side with the enemy or you are so stupid and you don't see what the real problem is.

How you get beyond this frame, I don't really know.

I suspect that, if Trump (please God) loses this November, this will become another Lost Cause. Not in the sense of the success that movement had in actually making things worse for blacks. But in terms of creating a mythology about how noble their evil cause was and about how heroic they were in its defense. In a movement already heavily into nostalgia for a time that never was, it will be easy.

Meanwhile, the country will move forward. Drastically limited, it is true, by what the trashed judiciary** may do for a while. But forward nonetheless. The rearguard actions they fight will be outweighed, in the long run, by the fact that new generations have already, over all, moved on.

** I rather hope that, at some point, the judges who were rated "not qualified" get impeached and removed for incompetence. But that may be asking too much.

There are times when I am unsure if I'm using a metaphor. I've been too close to the alt-right for too long and to the violence of resentment. (Worked five miles from Columbine, lived less than a mile from the Aurora Mall, watched scuffles between the Aryan Nation and SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice), wife taught at the HS Blaze Bernstein and Sam Woodward went to.)

The white power militias and the Onward Christian Soldiers paramilitary types like the Oathkeepers have been circling each other for a while and I'm really not sure how much separates them anymore.

I really do hope it is an overwrought metaphor. I really do.

I lived a mile and a half from Columbine High School.

nous, did you attend the memorial in the shopping mall parking lot across the street a week later to here scum Franklin Graham blame we godless (also gunless, unlike the NRA-supporting conservatives in the approving crowd, duh) liberals for the massacre?

It was despicable and depraved, like everything since from that quarter.

I look back at that moment as the one that broke me politically.

By the way, those groups you speak of don't believe in metaphors. Their death cult reality is overwrought and literal.

There is no poetry involved.

Don't discount the Fox News Wing Nut Wurlitzer for driving them this way. It's a parasitic relationship now, at best. In some ways right wing media does better when "liberals" are in power, it gives them a bigger target to shoot at.

The institutional GOP actually did try to stop Trump in the primaries and they failed, repeatedly. This could not have happened without Fox News and AM Radio and the way they steer and radicalize Republican voters, day in day out.

I keep expecting them to have a talk with the Murdochs and fix some of this, especially after Aisles left, but it never happens. Either Fox has become too powerful to control, or they need Fox so much that they can't do anything about it.

My nieces and nephews have slid past Fox to Prager U, Shapiro and the like. I'm aghast at their media diet.

Three years ago I had hope that they might be a check on Trumpian overreach. I'm starting to feel like an orphan.

https://digbysblog.net/2020/06/object-permanence/

Not only that, but if we stopped shooting black men in the back (and the front), why, the morgues would go completely out of business.

Just fuck me.

We're in a nightmare.

You don't have to be woke to want to wake up alive from this catastrophe.

Biden looks more and more like one of them caviar and cucumber sandwiches they serve to the lucky, in other words, a binary choice. Leave the ham on so we Democrats don't get too upppity.

The Fed is buying corporate debt now. I'm pretty sure they and the Treasury Department are intervening in the stock markets at key junctures as well.

Marx 101 for those counting such things, or maybe just another in a long line of trump bankruptcy grifts, at which he is a brilliant practitioner and for which he was elected.

Is there really any difference?

What Are They Trying to Accomplish?

Prove to us that Barry Goldwater was right?

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz challenges Ron "Hellboy" Perlman to fight... Jim Jordan.

If Hunter S was alive, he'd throw in the towel.

The going is miles beyond weird. I got nuthin.

Is there really any difference?

It's like, you suffer from multiple medical issues. There are just two doctors available to you at the moment. (Why only these particular two is a different discussion.) One doctor will solve some of them, but not even close to all. The other "doctor" will just tell you to drink bleach.

Certainly neither is ideal. But is there a difference? Duh!

What Are They Trying to Accomplish?

Rachel Maddow put that very question to Steve Benes tonight on her show.

What are they trying to accomplish?

Start here:

https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/a-trumped-up-judiciary-threatens-social-security-medicare-and-the-rest-of-the-20th-century-social-safety-net/

The Affordable Care Act is chum meant to bloody the waters as distractive hor'deurves.

As with Trump, like crocodiles at the mouth of the Nile,, they roll you underwater to disorient their eventual meal.

They are lying, thieving cheats regarding the zigzag means.

They feign haplessness while burrowing underneath.

They are as sincere as Marxists and Nazis about their ends.


Well, if they succeed in taking down the Affordable Care Act, they probably assure that they lose enough states to allow a Constitutional amendment to allow it.

And if the ideologues actually dump Social Security and Medicare? There goes the Republicans' most reliable demographic. There are some of the over-65 crowd who have saved enough that their Social Security income is helpful but not critical. There are even a few of us who saved on the assumption that Social Security would be bankrupt before we retired.** But most seniors are seriously dependent on it. Rip it away, and you'll discover the hard way that they aren't too decrepit for a lynching.

** I really did make that assumption. Although I guessed it would be AARP which managed to bankrupt it. Their grasp of finance rivals that of Republican House members.

"Rip [Social Security] away, and you'll discover the hard way that they aren't too decrepit for a lynching."

This assumes that the GOP doesn't manage to pin the blame on Dirty Fncking Hippies for causing a trillion dollar deficit by spending it on foreign aid plus t-bones and Cadillacs for Blahs, also too.

You know, the usual.

I think you will find that seniors believe, however inaccurately, that the Social Security Trust Fund is exactly that. And their Social Security payments are thus somehow insulated from the rest of the government's spending. Or deficit. You'd need a new law explicitly allowing those funds to be tapped to change their minds. Which you won't see, since it isn't true in the first place.

I think you will find seniors believe that they paid into Social Security insurance for 50 years purchasing a retirement insurance plan guaranteed by the government.

Trying to spin that as anything but an obligation that should not be defaulted on is problematic to say the least.

I think you will find that seniors believe, however inaccurately, that the Social Security Trust Fund is exactly that.

Please clarify. What is "that"?

And their Social Security payments are thus somehow insulated from the rest of the government's spending.

They are, in fact, so insulated by law. So I see a need for you to further unpack these statements.

And here I was under the apparently mistaken impression that all this had been thrashed out in the great Social Security debate during the Bush administration.

Please clarify. What is "that"?

A pool of money, separate from the rest of the government's money. Social Security contributions go into it. Social Security checks come out of it.

If fact, of course, Social Security is just another government obligation. Which would be obvious when you consider that it was paying out long before it had received contributions to pay out from. During the late 20th century, the "fund" was taking in more than it paid out, thanks to all us Baby Boomers working. Which made it easier a) to pay for other government activities and b) to raise Social Security payments.

All without considering that subsequent generations were not going to be as substantially larger than this one as we were than our parents'. In other words, we grew up in lots of 3 and 4 child families. But our own families are more like 1-2 kids.

Does all that help?

Soon with Medicare and Social Security soon after, the government is going to have to do some combination of the following:

• Reduce benefits
• Means test benefits
• Raise payroll taxes
• Raise other taxes
• Cut spending elsewhere
• Print money

And probably some actions I haven't thought of. The pandemic spending has made having to do something sooner.

If fact, of course, Social Security is just another government obligation.

OK-you can look at it that way. If that is the case, what is the problem? Is the federal government on the verge of financial insolvency?

Which would be obvious when you consider that it was paying out long before it had received contributions to pay out from.

Act signed in 1935. Taxes started being collected in 1937. First one-time lump sum payments made on or about that time. Regular monthly disbursements started in 1940.

All without considering that subsequent generations were not going to be as substantially larger than this one as we were than our parents'.

Even modest increases in economic productivity swamp the demographics you cite.

An overly confident George Bush proposed to "privatize" the system after his coronation for a 2nd term. Did you not participate in the debate that followed?

Is the federal government on the verge of financial insolvency?

Only if it chooses to be. It might take some changes to current statute, but with those the government can "print" all the dollars it wants. No need to actually print cash in this day and age, of course.

What Are They Trying to Accomplish?

I don't know, but I don't like it.

The Social Security system financing has played out amazingly close to the projections made in 1983 or 4 when those were completely restructured following the guidance of the Greenspan commission (yeah, same Greenspan). Pretty much the only thing they got wrong? They assumed, based on the 1950s, 60s, and 70s that productivity gains would be spread uniformly across the entire range of earnings. Almost immediately after the new system went into effect, productivity gains began to go more and more to people who earned above the cap on earnings subject to the SS tax.

When the current regime started, just about 90% of earned income was subject to SS taxes. If that had remained true -- we're down to 83% or so, IIRC -- the 75-year forecasts for the system finances would look peachy.

If that is the case, what is the problem? Is the federal government on the verge of financial insolvency?

The original point raised (in the link from Mr Thullen) was a threat to Social Security and Medicare by Trump-appointed judges. And I was pointing out that seniors (the biggest demographic supporting the GOP these days) would take that ill. Because they see it as a seperate and insulated pool of money.

Politicians have long since dropped the locked box from the capitol dome and scurried away with the contents.

i'm sure enough seniors could be convinced that it was all the Democrats' fault.

Because they see it as a seperate and insulated pool of money.

Today's retirees may, somewhat incorrectly, believe Soc Security to be a prepaid retirement annuity of some kind (given their years of contributions), but in plain fact and per law it is indeed a "separate pool of money".

But yes, a runaway Supreme Court that found some lunatic justification to declare the program unconstitutional could be the death knell for the GOP. The bad part is the fact of the vast financial resources of their backers. They have no shame, and they want it all. They will not be stopped until they are ground to dust.

yes, a runaway Supreme Court that found some lunatic justification to declare the program unconstitutional could be the death knell for the GOP.

Which is the point I was making.

Which would be obvious when you consider that it was paying out long before it had received contributions to pay out from.

If I'm not mistaken, this is incorrect.

Maybe take a look here.

During the late 20th century, the "fund" was taking in more than it paid out, thanks to all us Baby Boomers working.

It was taking in more than it paid out because, in the early 80's, folks figured out that boomers were going to retire some thirty-ish years hence, and the payroll tax was increased so that revenue would exceed payments over that period of time.

The surplus was lent to the general budget, where it helped pay for wars and tax cuts.

And now it's time to pay it back.

The US government has yet to renege on a debt. It'd be a hell of a thing if the first time was on a debt to its own citizens.

Which would be obvious when you consider that it was paying out long before it had received contributions to pay out from.

If I'm not mistaken, this is incorrect.

From your link:

The first reported Social Security payment was to Ernest Ackerman, a Cleveland motorman who retired only one day after Social Security began.[30] Five cents were withheld from his pay during that period, and he received a lump-sum payout of seventeen cents from Social Security.[30][31]

The first monthly payment was issued on January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont.[32] In 1937, 1938, and 1939, she paid a total of $24.75 into the Social Security System. Her first check was for $22.54.[32] After her second check, Fuller already had received more than she contributed over the three-year period. She ultimately reached her 100th birthday, dying in 1975[32], and she collected a total of $22,888.92.

Which sounds to me like paying out more than was taken in.

Neither Ackerman or Fuller were the only people paying in at the time they retired.

The model for SS is that current workers fund the benefits of folks who have retired. The lack of funds issue arises when current workers don't generate enough money to fund current retirees.

That *would* have been the case for boomers now, except we've all been paying well beyond what was needed to fund payments for the last almost 40 years.

The issue now is that the surplus was lent to the general fund, spent, and now folks don't want to pay it back.

When folks began shrieking recently about how "revenue is falling short of outflow!!" what they were (and are) talking about is exactly what was foreseen almost 40 years ago. We knew it would happen, and we planned for it.

We've pissed away the money, notably on wars and tax cuts, watched W Bush smirk about "IOUs", and now don't want to pay it back.

That is the problem.

I suspect that, at the beginning of Social Security, a lot of politicians saw it as a cheap way of buying votes. Much of the population wouldn't live long enough to receive benefits. And the ones that did might not live long enough to receive very much.

Now people are living two, three decades or more after they start receiving benefits. And the number of people paying payroll taxes keeps shrinking.

a cheap way of buying votes = keeping old people from dying in the street

YMMV

At the start, a lot of old people may have died before they were old enough to receive benefits. And they died in a lot of other places, like farms, besides dying in the streets.

metaphors, man. crazy.

A lot of metaphors die in the street...

But, cleek, you have to admit it's a marvelously effective diversion. Trump would be jealous.

Yes, Social Security has always been a PAYGO public pension system. It was sold to the American people as a savings system because, according to FDR, the American people would not support a PAYGO public pension program. This fiction was allowed to go on, through the complete restructure of financing in 1983/4 right up to the present day. Because it is feared that the American people still won't support a PAYGO public pension.

Despite one being enormously popular for the last 80 years.

Which is the point I was making.

LOL...well, OK. But that is simply stating the obvious....I mean they have been calling SS the 'third rail' of US politics for decades, no? Why confuse that point with a lot of extraneous and misleading and/or incorrect chaff about its funding and fiscal prospects?

Now people are living two, three decades or more after they start receiving benefits. And the number of people paying payroll taxes keeps shrinking.

OH NOH's!!!!! The next thing you know we will be living for hundreds of years and all of our earthly needs will be met by a factory in southern China. What will we ever do?????!!!!!!! It would be THE END.

The German social security system got introduced less to prevent old people dying in the streets than aristrocrats on lantern poles.
The initial calculation was that people would live on avarage 5 years beyond retirement.
From what I hear some in the US believe Otto von Bismarck who came up with the system to be a cofounder of the communist party.

We talk about governments/central banks printing money but private banks create about 97% of the money supply. Physical money, bills, and coins, make up about 3-8% of the money supply. It costs the treasury about 3 cents to print a bill. A nice profit that.

"With trillions of dollars being printed around the world, it's time we take a look into how money is created."
How is Money Created?: Everything You Need to Know (YouTube)

From what I hear some in the US believe Otto von Bismarck who came up with the system to be a cofounder of the communist party.

German history, as taught by US culture:

Nazis, then Berlin something, then Nena and the Hasslehoff era.

It costs the treasury about 3 cents to print a bill. A nice profit that.

Because of course currency should only be printed if there is a bar of gold in the vault to back it up.

That would be nice.

Charles, maybe you can be the one to finally tell me what the inherent value of gold is. Why would that be any better in the vault than oxygen or carbon?

MY PRECIOUSSS!!!!

LOL! russell scores!

Gold standard - fractional-reserve banking = ?

During the late 20th century, the "fund" was taking in more than it paid out, thanks to all us Baby Boomers working.

I'm curious if anyone has any calculations about how much of this fund was paid in bu undocumented aliens having their wages garnished in order to avoid being sent back.

https://www.marketplace.org/2019/01/28/undocumented-immigrants-quietly-pay-billions-social-security-and-receive-no/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/undocumented-immigrants-and-taxes/499604/

Funny that. You might almost suggest that it is systematic...

Gold doesn't have an inherent or intrinsic value. Its value over time has been derived from the value people placed on its physical properties, its scarcity, and the expectation that it would continue to be valuable in the future.

@Charles, yeah, that's what I thought, too. But once you grant that, why get exercised over currency which "doesn't have anything to back it up"? As long as it's accepted in exchange, you don't care. And you don't have to care.

Sure, you can get into trouble if its value drops relative to other things (including other currencies). And you can get into trouble if its value rises, too. But the fact that the government (or anybody else) printed it for less cost than it is exchanged for? Not really a real issue.

Why do I sense a looming rabbit hole in the space time continuum?

gold's only real value is as a container for latinum. and even then, you have to be a Ferengi to care.

Sure, gold is *pretty*, but you can only see the outside 1-2 microns.

And it's *wonderful* for plating electrical contacts; if you've ever had to deal with crappy corroded contacts you'd be totally pro-gold. Again, it only takes a micro-inch or so to do the job.

Unfortunately the gold-bugs have bid up the price much too high, because gold bricks are *great* for radiation shielding; MUCH better than lead. Isotopically pure, also, too.

But as for a national currency? Do you REALLY want your country's economy at the mercy of the gold-producing regions of the world (cf. Russia and Southern Africa)? Fnck that noise.

Fortunately, modern money is bits on a computer. Frees up the gold for better uses.

World governments are sitting on about 35,000 tons of gold with about 50,000 tons in private hands.

Fortunately, modern money is bits on a computer.

Yelp, cryptocurrencies... :)

gold is a much better form of currency than rai stones, it's much more portable. it's better than bushels of wheat, it's much more compact, doesn't rot, and rats don't eat it.

in some contexts, it's probably better than paper. it doesn't burn, and it doesn't require some backing authority to vouchsafe it's value.

doesn't rust, doesn't burn, can be coined for convenience if need be. heavy as hell in large amounts, but if you don't need to move it around too much, that's not a big problem.

all in all, a great vehicle for representing value, right up until about the 12th C.

The fact that it does not rust is seen by some as a bug because it allows hoarding thus withdrawing it from the living economy. Cf. the idea to get rid of cash to be able to impose negative interest in order to stop people from saving (once a virtue, these days treated as morally irresponsible by the high priests of Mammon). There was once a satirical take by St.Lem (and an unrelated article in the Journal of Irreproducible results) proposing coinage of pure U235 (Lem)* or other radioactive material (JoIR). The former would prevent hoarding because your money would explode (cadmium and lead in private hands would be banned) the latter would due to its constant decay devaluate your capital, so you'd try to spend it as fast as possible.

*the authoritarian government in the story also makes hats of fissile material mandatory for the commoners, so any conspiracy or gathered mob (those were the pre-internet days) would soon literally explode.

The fact that it does not rust is seen by some as a bug...

Though this is not what people mean by "gold bug." ;^)

russell: ... and rats don't eat it.

Of course, rats have more sense than some "First World" types.

--TP

Gold is for drinking not eating and has been for centuries
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldwasser
Based on an even older belief: aurum potabile
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colloidal_gold#History

Of course, rats have more sense than some "First World" types.

A species has to be wealthy enough to partially insulate its members from nature and the real world in order to have the luxury of some of them denying reality.

In the UK, if we want to change the law, we have a vote in parliament. We see this as democratic.

Why can't you do the equivalent thing in the USA, instead of relying on Supreme Court Justices to find a meaning in an old law never dreamt of when the law was written?

The legislature could repeal or modify the CRA if they wanted to, assuming the ruling was somehow unacceptable.

Why can't you do the equivalent thing in the USA, instead of relying on Supreme Court Justices to find a meaning in an old law never dreamt of when the law was written?

If you will take note of the condition of our Senate and our Executive Branch, you'll see why very little sensible legislation has passed in several years. There was a time when we had a functioning democracy, and many of us are busy trying to figure out how to make it happen again.

In the UK, you wouldn't have a party leader in one House of Parliament say something like "Our number one priority is to keep the PM from accomplishing anything." And be in a position to make that happen for most of the PM's tenure.

Once, as sapient suggests, our legislators would do things because they were good for the country. There were sometimes disagreements as to what those might be, but the principle was there. Recently, partisanship outweighs that. If we are to survive as a country, that will have to change back.

as always: blame Gingrich.

when he stopped 'pork-barrel' spending, he stopped the flow of lubrication that allowed the system to work. once legislators had no way to trade votes for favors for their district, they lost the only real incentive they had to buck their party.

Once, as sapient suggests, our legislators would do things because they were good for the country.

Or they could be bribed with earmarks for their districts. Now there's less motivation to compromise on legislation when they can't show their voters that they're getting something in return.

once legislators had no way to trade votes for favors for their district, they lost the only real incentive they had to buck their party

To buck the party (and have the party understand why they had done so, and forgive)? No. But there were issues where the party didn't have a stand, so the legislators were free to vote their consciences. And issues where the party as a whole would take a position for the good of the country, rather than for some sliver of (often notional) electoral advantage.

... In the UK, you wouldn't have a party leader in one House of Parliament say something like "Our number one priority is to keep the PM from accomplishing anything." And be in a position to make that happen for most of the PM's tenure.

Well we saw something close to that under May, and Johnson (rightly) got taken to our supreme court before he got his majority...

And it wasn’t all that different at times with Heath; Callaghan; Major.

Parliamentary systems work better, but not always.

Why can't you do the equivalent thing in the USA, instead of relying on Supreme Court Justices to find a meaning in an old law never dreamt of when the law was written?

Perhaps more subtle than what other people have said, you have no written nearly-impossible-to-change constitution. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Fixed-term Parliaments Act! To make an equivalent change in the US requires either (a) a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate and a three-quarters majority of states or (b) two-thirds of the states voting to have another Constitutional Convention. We've never done (b) so it is unclear what the rules are after the Convention is called.

Almost immediately after the Constitution was ratified, it became clear that not everything was covered and it had to be read loosely. It took years to settle whether "establish Post Offices and Post Roads" included actually operating a postal service, whether post roads included moving mail by ship, etc. We're used to having the Court do interpretations. Less so for statutes than for the Constitution, but once you get used to the idea...

One of my expectations is that sometime in the next couple of years the SCOTUS will reverse the decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. That's the case where the Court held that the Clean Air Act not only allowed regulation of greenhouse gases, it required such regulation. Justice Kennedy was the swing vote; CJ Roberts was absolutely incensed about it; Kennedy's no longer there.

One summer, a very long time ago, I took an international law program at Cambridge UK (St. John's College). I love that summer for so many reasons.

Comparing the US legal system, based on a written Constitution, but also British common law, with the British system, was interesting for me, emotionally. The US Constitution, with its very meaningful civil rights amendments, and its role in my youth as the saving grace of civil rights, is the champion of legal systems. Yet, now, with the electoral college, and its other unfortunate flaws, it's in some ways embarrassing.

All in all, the embarrassment is in the people we've allowed to interpret it lately. Just as the embarrassment is in many of the people we've elected. In other words, the embarrassment is "we the people". Of course, the electoral college makes it possible that the majority of "the people" don't rule. But plenty of "the people" are to blame for the current debacle. The perpetrators (most Republicans) had a lot of help: from Russia, from collaborator "lefties", from the apathetic.

People need to speak with one voice in opposition to what's wrong, even if their voice is too precious to speak in support of good (but not perfect) leaders. I look forward to November to see whether this happens.

An unwritten Constitution would seem to be an amalgam of precedent, tradition, and a widespread understanding of what is just not the "done thing".

A Constitution written on a few pages foolscap, and therefore too brief and too general to be dispositive in almost any particular circumstance, can easily become a tool in the hands of those who would trample on precedent, tradition, and propriety in pursuit of power. Especially when they can make their lickspittles the interpreters of that written Constitution.

I could be wrong on both counts, of course.

--TP

This is Interesting, and potentially quite important.
Have a look and think about sharing it:

Using methods from YC to help protect US democracy
https://ted.suzman.net/2020/06/08/yc-methods-applied.html
... Thanks to the methods described below, there’s a product which is now exploding in adoption; we’ve raised $7 million in non-profit funding; some of the largest get out the vote programs in the country are going to be powered by this work; we just reinforced our engineering team with some extremely strong folks, and we’re hiring more engineers....

another QAnon believer wins a GOP primary. so weird, right?

oh, and she thinks Dems “are held slaves to the Democratic Party”.

so weird that she's a Republican.

From cleek's link:

In a fiery two-page statement, Greene slammed “Mitt Romney-style Republicans,” the “Fake News Media” and the “DC Swamp.”

(...)

“I’m sick-and-tired of watching establishment Republicans play defense while the Fake News Media cheers on Antifa terrorists, BLM rioters, and the woke cancel culture, as they burn our cities, loot our businesses, vandalize our memorials, and divide our nation.”

She sounds a lot like someone, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

...and she thinks Dems

...and she thinks blacks.

damn my fingers.

Maybe she thinks all Dems are at least honorary blacks...? Wouldn't be any more deranged than her other views.

Introducing the Trump nominee for Administrator of the FAA:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-insane-absolutely-insane-trump-supporter-gets-kicked-off-flight-for-refusing-to-wear-a-mask-2020-06-18?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

As with bank robbers, now, you can tell who the hijacker is on your flight: the only one not wearing a mask.

He is a Republican Party operative carrying out orders from the Republican White House and Arizona, Oklahoma, and Florida Republican Governors to carry out bio-terrorism and accomplish the murder of American citizens.

She sounds a lot like someone, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

she sounds like ... Sarah Palin. i imagine Greene delivering that bullshit bingo Gish gallop of nonsense with a wink and a grin.

Trump owes Pain a big Thank You for showing that the GOP base was eager for pure idiocy.

"Trump owes Pain a big Thank You for showing that the GOP base was eager for pure idiocy."

Christ. O'Dumbbell also, too.

"Trump owes Pain a big Thank You for showing that the GOP base was eager for pure idiocy."

Except that Trump will never give anyone else credit for anything that he has done. Or even just can claim to have done.

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