The Joy of Comment Threads.

So I clicked a link at Slate yesterday that took me over to The Cut at New York Magazine to read an article asking insiders in the world of advertising the question many of us have been wondering: how the hell that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad got made.  And while the article wasn’t a complete waste of my time, the true enjoyment came at the end, when the first comment to the post contained an example of the inability to recognize white privilege so amusing it actually resulted in coffee dripping off my monitor from the spit take.  Many thanks, dashodell.  You made my day.

“You feel like you don’t ‘have a voice’? I’m a 43yo white male and I don’t recall anyone ever listening to me or giving a shit about what I was saying.”

Exactly what we are all thinking, dash.  When are people in America ever going to listen to the poor, neglected, ignored white males for a change?

“Objective” Journalism?

I figure if Ed Brayton can pull up a story from last November in order to write about a topic he cares about deeply, then I should be able to resurrect a dead blog to call attention to said issue, right?  That’s what I thought.

So over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed reminds us all of the CNN reporter who ended up an ex-CNN reporter after including her personal opinion in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/eliselabottcnn/status/667425269347704832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

Ed writes a bit about that story, and then more on the larger issue of journalistic “objectivity,” which is something I feel a lot of people, including many in the news media, do not really understand.  The role of The Press in our system is worthless when it reports the news like competing press releases with no actual journalism involved.  I thought the press was supposed to search for the truth?  To tell the electorate what was really going on in the world, so they were better prepared to evaluate the issues, and see through the spin of politicians to make informed choices at the ballot box?  Or as Ed puts it:

At AINN, we measured our success through what we called “impact stories” — that is, stories that led directly to some kind of change in policy that improved a situation in a measurable way. And Michigan led all of our state news sites in impact stories by a wide margin, due entirely to my two amazing reporters, Todd Heywood and Eartha Melzer. They were tireless and committed to getting to the truth. They held the feet of the powerful to the fire time and time again and got real change.

Let me give you one simple example. At one point, Heywood got a call from a kid at the University of Michigan who believed he might have been exposed to HIV during a sexual encounter. He had gone to a clinic but they had not put him on a course of treatment called n-PEP: non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis. If someone is exposed to HIV, putting them on anti-retroviral drugs like Truvada within the first 72 hours is incredibly effective at preventing the infection as a result of the exposure.

The CDC has issued official recommendations for the use of n-PEP in any situation of exposure to HIV since 2005, but the Michigan Department of Community Health had not issued any guidance to doctors, hospitals and clinics instructing them that this is the standard for treatment in such situations. Heywood started reporting about this and hounding the MDCH about it. It went on for about three months before the MDCH finally issued the proper guidelines. This is the very definition of an impact story, one that will literally save lives.

We did not report the dodges and rationalizations offered by the MDCH at face value. We didn’t pretend to be “objective” and just report the things they were saying. We pointed out why those statements were wrong and were disingenuous, because they were. Our commitment was not to some ridiculous and fake “balance” but to telling the truth. That’s what real journalists do. That’s what they should do. But major news outlets punish them for doing that, for injecting something more than a mealy-mouthed he said/she said into important conversations.

Donald Trump’s campaign has shaken some reporters and some outlets enough that they are coming dangerously close to questions that real journalists would ask Trump’s spokespeople if given the chance, yet even in this insane cycle you see the horse race narrative fight to come to the forefront, as some in the industry fight to drag HRC down to the level they manage to elevate Trump.  And even the ones that are asking the “tough questions” this year will fall back into “bothsiderism” as soon as Trump is safely defeated.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, sure.  But if it’s not an opinion informed by facts, then you shouldn’t expect anyone to take you opinion seriously or treat it with the least bit of respect, least of all a member of the press. If the claim is that water is indeed wet, do you need to give equal time to the “dry water” holdouts?  If a political candidate flat out denies saying something you have video of them saying, how can you not just instantly confront them with the video evidence?  When did “follow up questions” become a major journalistic sin?

Anyway, go and read the whole piece over at Dispatches.  You’ll know when I post again.

I Kinda Miss the Nigerian Princes.

I get mail:

FROM THE DESK OF MR AWUDU SALLAM
DIRECTOR IN CHARGE OF AUDITING
AND ACCOUNTING SECTION
BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A)
OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO,
WEST AFRICA.

My Dearest Friend,
 
I am Mr Awudu Sallam, The chief auditor in bank of Africa (boa) Burkina Faso West African, One of our customers, with his entire family was among the victims of plane crash and before his death, he has an account with us valued at $37.5 million u.s dollars(thirty seven million five hundred thousand u.s dollars) in our bank and according to the Burkina Faso law, at the expiration of Thirteen years if nobody applies to claim the funds a grace of one year also will be given before the money will revert to the ownership of the Burkina Faso government.
 
My proposals is that i will like you as a foreigner to stand in as the next of kin or distant cousin for us to claim this money, so that the fruits of this old man’s labour will not get into the hands of some corrupt government officials who will later use the money to sponsor war in Africa and kill innocent citizens in the search for political power.
 
As a foreign partner which this money will be transfer into your account, you are entitle to 40% of the total money while 55% will be for me as the moderator of this transaction and 5% will be mapped out for any expenditure that may be incur during the course of this transaction. Please note that there will be no
problem as my bank has made all effort through to reach for any of his relation but all was fruitless.
 
My position as the chief auditor in this bank guarantees the successful execution of this (deal) transaction. Please send the following: Reply To This E-mail Address  awudusallam@gmail.com
 
1)your full name…..
2) sex…..
3) age…..
4) country…..
5)passport or photo…..
6)occupation…..
7) personal Mobile number…..
8) Personal fax number…..
9) Home & office address…..
 
Thanks.
 
Mr Awudu Sallam.
I reply to mail, because I am that bored.  (Also, because Trump is possibly going to be President and I need to find humor where I can.)

Dear Mr Awudu Sallam,

 

I am greatly saddened to hear of the passing of such a highly respected man, along with his entire family, in a plane crash.  While they say God has a plan, it is at times like this that one has to wonder how a loving God could reach down from Heaven and cruelly snuff out the life of such a great man.  While you do not mention the man’s name, no doubt because of privacy concerns, if it is indeed who I believe you are speaking of, this is a tragedy that God himself will have to answer for.  To take one such as him. in the prime of his life while he still had so much more to give to not only the fine country of Burkina Faso, but to the rest of West Africa, and indeed, to the whole of the African continent.  To die in a plane crash, along side his wife, pregnant with the couples fifth child, their twin sons, the apple of their fathers eyes, only 7 years young, and both of his daughters, lovely Ebele, only 3 years old, and stunning 17 year old Adannaya is enough to cause one to question their faith.  Knowing that the only reason they were even on that plane was to travel to Adannaya’s wedding just makes it all the worse.  What pain must have filled their minds as they realized the plane was going down?  Did they take comfort in being together, or did the knowledge that the whole family would soon die just make it that much worse?

 

I am so sorry, I know you must be very busy, and here I am yammering on pointlessly.  I completely understand your request.  I as well do not want to see this great man’s money stolen by the corrupt government and used to spill the blood of West Africans.  I will be honored to stand in as this great man’s next of kin and save his fortune from the Vultures of Horror.  In fact, I have such great respect for this man and his family that I would feel dirty taking 40% of his fortune.  Rather, in exchange for the solemn promise that you will donate 10% of the money to Médecins Sans Frontières, I will only ask for 10%.  The extra 20% can be done with as you please.

Here is the requested information.

1) Michael Sean Benioff

2) Male

3) 34 years young

4) United States of America
5)……

Upon further reflection, I have decided to only provide you with the rest of the information if you prove yourself legitimate.  While I would never insult you by comparing you to these people, one does remember the classic Nigerian Royalty scam that was so highly effective for so many years.  You of course are not claiming to be a member of a royal family or anything else ridiculous like that, so I am inclined to believe you fully.  That being said, as someone connected with such a respectable man, I know you will not have a problem providing me with a bit more information.  Here is what I require.

1)  A hand written pledge to donate 10% of the money to Médecins Sans Frontières.  It does not need to be notarized or anything, as long as I can see your signature.

2)  Your astrological sign.  Call me crazy, but there are certain signs of the zodiac that I refuse to have financial dealings with under any circumstances.  Let me know your birth date so I can have my astrologer confirm the stars are in the proper alignment for this transaction.

3)  A picture.  Not of you though.  Of your wife or girlfriend.  No, it doesn’t have to be sexy or anything, I’m not a sicko.

4)  One more picture, this time of a hand written note from your mother or father stating that you are trustworthy. If your parents are no longer on this earth, I am very sorry for your loss, and you can substitute a note from either your religious leader or your employer.

I hope that is not too much to ask of you.  I will expect your response shortly and anticipate being able to move on at that time and get this transaction taken care of.  I have my bank account information at the ready to send to you, along with the rest of the information you need, as soon as you provide the reassurances I require.

Thank you for reaching out to me, and thank you for caring about the fortune of such a great man and his family.  I know he would be as proud of you as he was of Adannaya.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Michael Sean Benioff.

Let’s see how desperate scammers in Burkina Faso are right now.  Anyone think I’ll get a response?  Any suggestions of what to ask for in case I do get a response?
I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, I would commit voter fraud for Awudu Sallam before I’d vote for Donald Trump.
Toying with song ideas to post if he wins immediately after the race is called.  So far I’m thinking of “Black and White” by the Subhumans:

which includes these perfect lyrics:

Inquiries, but no solutions
Faceless, empty illusions
Reasons are always pushed aside
Remember the day the country died

or maybe just Black Market Baby’s classic “Potential Suicide” to put everyone’s thoughts into song.

 

And that’s all you get today.  I spent the day with the dogs in the local state park.  It was much too nice to sit in front of a PC all day.

pupsatwater

 

 

It Wasn’t Really Funny Last Time, Just Ironic. This is Just Sad.

Remember the last time a kid shot his mother from the back seat while she was driving?  Sure you do.  It really isn’t funny when a 4 year old ends up holding a loaded gun in the back seat of a vehicle, and someone actually getting shot is rarely amusing, but there was irony involved, since the mother who allowed her 4 year old a free shot at mommy happened to be a vocal gun activist, and besides, she only took minor damage so no harm, no foul.  We pointed.  We laughed.  We found out she would face charges for her less than responsible gun handling, we nodded in satisfaction, and we promptly forgot all about it.

This one isn’t funny at all.

A woman died late Tuesday morning after being accidentally shot by her 2-year-old son who found a gun in the backseat of the vehicle and fired it, the woman’s father said.

How do I make a joke out of this?

A single bullet went into 26-year-old woman’s back, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office said. The woman stopped the vehicle on Wisconsin Highway 175 near West Vliet Street.

Andre Price said his daughter, Patrice Price, was a hard-working mother who had three children.

He said his daughter was driving her boyfriend’s car. He is a security guard and left his gun in the vehicle.

The boy was able to reach it and accidentally shot his mom in the back, killing her.

“Now I don’t have her no more. My chest has been hurting,” Andre Price said. “I have a knot in my chest. They won’t even let me see my daughter. I wanted to hold my daughter for one last time.”

It wasn’t her gun that ended her life.  She isn’t the one who endangered her child.  Who can I point and laugh at?  The boyfriend who’s “responsible gun ownership” just resulted in a lifetime of guilt in addition to the loss of his partner?  The father who can never hold his daughter again?

How much worse could this have been?

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says witness accounts indicate a child in the back seat of a vehicle in the southbound lanes of Highway 175 on Tuesday morning, April 26th, got hold of a gun and discharged the firearm. That sent a single bullet into the driver’s back.

Is this here the big punchline?

“People were panicking and you could tell people were generally trying to help,” said Kourtney Blevins. “They pulled a, looks like a young lady out, and they started to resuscitate her on the ground. I heard something about a shooting, and a gun went off. I know there’s some little boys down there which they put in a police car. It was two little boys it looked like, so some kids were involved unfortunately. I just kind of stayed back and prayed about it.”

What, is this a monthly occurrence now?  Is it really that difficult to keep handguns out of the hands of toddlers?  How the fuck is this even a thing?

I have no snark for this.  I have no humor for this, no easy joke to lighten the mood.  Nothing can lighten a two year old boy killing his mother while driving down the highway except it not happening.

I’m not using this to argue for new gun regulations.  I’m not saying universal background checks or a ban on armor piercing ammunition would have stopped this tragedy.  This has nothing to do with gun laws, or the Second Amendment, or “right to carry,” or any of it.

This is about gun owners treating their firearms with the respect they deserve.  Whether you use them for protection, hunting, target shooting, or you’re just compensating for something fucking remember that a firearm is a tool designed to kill, full stop.

I’ve stated countless times on this blog; I am not anti-gun.  My father was a hunter.  I used to target shoot.  My niece is in the military.  But come on people, let’s see this “responsible gun ownership” I keep hearing about.

Yeah, I Just Canceled HBO.

I stuck with it as long as I could.

Even after whatever the fuck last season was, I stuck around for the first episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones.

I was even planning on keeping HBO even if I stopped watching Game of Thrones completely.  After all, John Oliver.

After seeing the Dornish story line in the first episode, I’ve decided I can not give HBO another cent of my money.

I have no illusion that my cancellation means a damn thing.  I’m not that self-important.  The customer service rep at Direct TV joked with me when I canceled that I must not watch Game of Thrones.  She was a bit taken aback upon finding out that I am a huge ASOIAF nerd and Game of Thrones was the only reason I had HBO in the first place.  I am just one against the flood of people coming back to HBO with the start of the new season.  I gave her the 30 second run down on why I was done with the show, which got the amusing reply of “well I guess a five dollar discount isn’t going to keep you then, is it.”

Come on people, they pissed in your glass and you keep praising the vintage.  The AV Club gave that train wreck a B fucking plus.

I would pay so much for five off the record minutes with George R. R. Martin, a writer who is notoriously hostile to fan fiction, to hear his uncensored thoughts on what D&D have done to his characters.

*deep breath*

That’s it.  Not turning this into a 1000 word rant.  I’ve said what I logged on to say.

I’ll close by promoting Fandom Following, GoTgifsandmusings, and theculturalvacuum.

Fuck,….Prince?

As someone who identified with the punk rock/hardcore music scene from 1989 until I entered my thirties in the 2000’s, and as someone who can still be found screaming every word at a Streetlight Manifesto show, or blasting Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables or How to Clean Everything on my car stereo, it would probably come as a shock to most of those who know me how varied my early musical influences actually were.  While I will admit that there are some embarrassing metal bands on that list (how did I actually like Motley Crue?), the two that will stand out in my mind as the soundtrack of my pre-punk life are Madonna and Prince.

I was 10 when I saw Purple Rain for the first time.  Yes, it is a horrible movie.  But that music.  Damn.

It is late (for me, I work third again), but this piece from The Rude Pundit is incredible, and beautifully explains the effect his music had on so many.  Go read it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to make fun of the school board member at my old school who thinks the new Sociology book is “liberal propaganda,” and give Altoona’s rep in the state House the old side-eye over his opinion of why young people flee this area like it is plague-ridden, along with a few other possibilities.

A Cat of a Different Coat or a Whole Separate Animal?

From an interview with Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy in HBO’s Game of Thrones, on season six action:

And we’re running through and we come to a river and Sansa is just too scared basically to get into the river. So I get in. Don’t believe the press shots! It looks like she’s trying to get me out of the river, when I’m actually trying to be the strong one and get her in the river.

*reads the interview calmly*  *re-reads the above line*  *face palms*  *slams head off desk several times*  *longs for the halcyon days of season three when I thought Game of Thrones was the best possible adaptation A Song of Ice and Fire could ever get.*  *cancels HBO*

If there are any English majors around, may I ask a question?  While I am aware that nothing (excepting an example of visual irony I believe) in Alanis Morissette’s hit song “Ironic” is actual ironic, how’s this for an example?

George R. R. Martin, an author who is an outspoken critic of fan fiction, signs off on a adaptation of his masterpiece, the epic series A Song of Ice and Fire, to be adapted for the small screen by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for HBO, only to see it change from a fairly faithful adaptation to pure, “chaos is a ladder” fan fiction that ignores more of his themes and characterizations than it acknowledges?

Is that ironic?

*sigh*  And yet I am sure it will set viewing records for HBO this season as well.

(And just to cut off an argument I get much too often, no, they are not going their own way apart from the books because they ran out of material.  They spent 2 seasons (3 and 4) adapting the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords.  Then, instead of adapting the next two huge novels in the series, they instead changed every single plot line significantly for no reason other than they wanted to.  I wonder what the reaction would have been if halfway through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson killed off Legolas, had Gimli start molesting hobbits, made Aragorn rape Éowyn, and changed the ending to have Frodo kill Smeagol after Gollum kills Sam, and then throw the ring into Mount Doom himself in order to make him look more heroic to the viewers?)

Worth Reading at Salon

As much as I bitch about Salon posting ridiculous clickbait articles, they do still publish articles that are worth the click at times.  Such as this article on the shit ex-porn actress Bree Olsen has to deal with now contrasted with the rape-allegation proof popularity of James Deen.

I’m not saying that I agree with every word that comes out of Bree Olsen’s mouth.  If I was personally choosing a spokeswoman to rally against the shit these women have to deal with in their everyday lives I would pick Gauge, who has already had a Salon piece written on the subject about her back in 2013.  But just because I don’t always agree with her doesn’t mean she should be slut-shamed endlessly and treated as if she was less than human.  Gauge pointed out the double standard beautifully:

Although the hospital eventually issued Gauge an apology, she felt both wounded and perplexed by the experience. “I’m thinking, why isn’t anybody asking [the anesthesia tech] how he recognized me?” she says. “OK, so what – I’m the provider, you’re the freaking consumer. Why is what I did so much more wrong than what you did?”

Exactly.  Why is it acceptable to watch porn, but moral death to perform?

Look, I know that the porn industry has problems.  Degrading porn is way too common.  (I do not include BDSM porn that makes it very clear that there is enthusiastic consent involved and that all parties participating are enjoying themselves as degrading porn. )  Some of the performers, especially in “amateur porn” or foreign porn may only be doing porn because they are desperate or possibly forced into it.  But actresses such as Gauge, Sensi Pearl, Mia Kalifia, and yes, Bree Olsen entered the profession because they wanted to.  Because it offered very nice compensation.  And yes, because they enjoy sex.  The old stereotype of all porn actresses having “daddy issues” isn’t just wrong, it is misogynistic.  We could have a week long debate on how to fix the industry, and no, I don’t have the answers.  It is very hard to vote with your wallet when so much porn is pirated or watched for free on various tube sites.  And, as sad as it is, there is obviously an audience for the worst of the worst.  The rape allegations James Deen was hit with, that would have tanked his career if he was a mainstream actor, possibly earned him fans, as disgusting as that sounds.  Sure, some people (such as myself) will never watch another scene he performs in, and many performers will never work with him again, but obviously there are others to take our places.

Anyway, go to Salon and read the article.  And remember:  If you recognize a porn star in “real life,” you aren’t standing on any moral high ground that you can look down on them from.

Justice Antonin Scalia, RIP

Rest in peace, Justice Scalia.

My original idea for this post was to quote the old saying “if you can’t say some thing nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all,” followed by a page of nothingness.   However, great minds think alike, as they say (or obvious jokes are obvious), and Mock, Paper, Scissors had it up and posted before I could even open my browser.  Good show Tengrain.  Good show.

So having lost my planned commentary on Antonin Scalia’s death, I was left with a choice.  I could make the same joke as I originally intended to make while linking to MPS and congratulating them on beating me to the punch, I could post absolutely nothing on the subject, or I could turn my brain on and actually write something about the passing of a Supreme Court Justice.  The first option was out immediately.  Sloppy, lazy, and no matter the truth, it would appear as if I simply stole tengrain’s joke and called it a day.  The second choice is exactly what I am trying to get away from by relaunching the blog.  No, I was going to post something about the news.  Ignoring it was really not an option.  So it seems now, as I drink a cup of Peet’s and breath out a immense cloud of nicotine spiked vapor that I must remember where the “on” switch is located for my brain.  I promise the following will be a bit more substantial than my tweet of “ding dong, the witch is dead.”  Also, unless otherwise noted, the factual information in the following comes from Wikipedia.


Antonin Scalia, born March 11, 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, was one of the most divisive figures in American government.  After attending Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree, he went on to Harvard Law.  At both schools, he was an exceptional student, according to Wikipedia:

In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater in Georgetown’s Philodemic Society and a critically praised thespian.[20] He took his junior year abroad at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.[13] Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review.[21] He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University: The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960–1961.[22]

After six years in a Cleveland law firm, Scalia became a law professor at the University of Virginia, sacrificing a chance at becoming a partner in the firm to follow his desire to teach.  In 1971, after 4 years teaching, President Nixon drafted Scalia into public service, appointing him as General Counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy.  His virginity thus ended, Scalia would continue in public service until President Carter’s victory left him unemployed.

  • General Counsel for the Office of Telecommunications Policy, 1971
  • Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, 1972-74
  • Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, 1974-76

During the Ford presidency, Scalia appeared to spend most of his energy arguing for executive privilege, testifying several times before Congress in support of President Ford’s desire to not turn over certain documents.  He took a key role in arguing for a presidential veto of a bill amending the Freedom of Information Act that greatly widened the scope of the act, a position that was successful partially, as Ford did indeed veto the bill, only to see his veto overridden.  In 1976’s case Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc. v. Republic of Cuba, Scalia had his first opportunity to argue a case before the US Supreme Court and was successful.  Also successful was Jimmy Carter’s attempt to win the White House, resulting in Scalia returning to the private sector.  He first spent a few months with the American Enterprise Institute, a well-known conservative think tank.  He then went back to teaching, this time at the University of Chicago Law School, as well as spending a year as a visiting professor at Stanford.

After Reagan took control of the White House in 1980, everything seemed set for Scalia to return to public service.  It seemed to take longer than expected, however, as his first desired position went to another candidate, and then he declined an offered position, preferring to wait for something more consequential.  This paid off in 1982 when he was offered, and accepted, a position on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  While serving in the DC circuit, Scalia built up an impressive conservative record and quickly rose to Pres. Reagan’s short list for the Supreme Court, along with Robert Bork.  Then in 1986, Chief Justice Burger announced his retirement and Pres. Reagan first nominated Justice Rehnquist to fill the position of Chief Justice, and then Antonin Scalia to fill Rehnquist’s Associate Justice role.

Looking back on the confirmation proceedings, it is easy to just assume that nominees were just rubber stamped back then when you notice that Scalia faced no opposition and was confirmed with a 98-0 vote.  Things really are not that cut and dried, however, as Scalia’s confirmation hearings took place soon after the divisive fight over Renhquist becoming Chief Justice.  Yes, Presidential nominees were met with less knee-jerk opposition at the time, but some think that a large part of why Scalia flew through the proceedings untouched was due to the Judiciary committee having no taste for a second fight, along with a reluctance to hold up the potential first Italian-American Supreme Court Justice.  While Scalia was approved 98-0, the vote for Renhquist to become Chief Justice was a much tighter 65-33.  No matter the confirmation process, on September 26, 1986, Scalia became Justice Antonin Scalia, the first Italian-American to sit on the nation’s top court.

To say Antonin Scalia was a divisive figure on the Supreme Court would be an understatement on par with saying the GOP controlled Congress that Pres. Obama must work with is a little bit obstructionist.  His Originalism did not always mean he fell on the conservative side of decisions.  He was a strong defender of the Confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment, protecting the right’s of defendants to confront their accuser, including lab technicians in drug cases, as well as the Sixth Amendment’s promise of a trial by jury, striking down a judge’s ability to increase the sentence of a convict if the judge felt the crime was motivated by hate in Apprendi v. New Jersey.  In Blakely v. Washington, and then United States v. Booker Scalia took down mandatory sentencing guidelines, turning them into suggestions rather than ranges set in stone.  Fans of the Fourth Amendment could also find opinions by Scalia to like; in Kyllo v. United States he found that Han and Leia’s son was indeed guilty of murdering his fa…wait.  Sorry, that’s Kyllo, not Kylo.  Sorry.  ahem, in Kyllo v. United States he wrote the majority opinion finding that thermal imaging of a home was an illegal search, and dissented in the 1991 case County of Riverside v. McLaughlin that found it was legal to hold someone arrested without a warrant for 48 hours before seeing a magistrate.  In 1990 he wrote the Court’s opinion striking down a hate speech law in St. Paul, admirably protecting the First Amendment.  (Sorry fellow liberals, if you support hate speech laws you may want to reexamine the reasons why.  Hate speech needs to be confronted and defeated in the marketplace of ideas, not outlawed and suppressed.)  Unfortunately, while more than I expected to write in this section, that is about it when it comes to praising his decisions.

I am not going to spend a lot of words detailing his opinions progressives would find noxious.  There really isn’t a need, as most liberals know exactly who Antonin Scalia is and what his beliefs are, because he made them no secret.  He was outspoken, at times rude, at times condescending with those who disagreed with his views.  Life truly is black and white, good and evil to Justice Scalia, as anyone who saw him turn on an interviewer who seemed incredulous at his belief in a literal Devil:

Soon afterwards Senior brought the conversation to the afterlife asking, “You believe in heaven and hell?” to which the Justice responded, ‘Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?’

Turns out Ms. Senior does not – to which Scalia tsked, ‘Oh, my.’

In a reflection on salvation that seemed to be comparing Judas Iscariot to gay people, Scalia was unwilling to speculate if Senior’s disbelief indicates that she will wind up in hell. However, just as Senior was ready to move on to Scalia’s drafting process, the Justice leaded forward and told her:

“I even believe in the Devil.”

Go on..

Q: So what’s he doing now?

A: What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

But as the questioning continued Scalia appears to have gotten irate saying:

You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil!

 

While a devout Roman Catholic, Antonin Scalia was pro-life only in relation to the unborn, supporting the death penalty fully.  His support for the death penalty included killing those who offended at 15 and 16 years of age, as well as the mentally retarded, using his originalism as justification in the latter case.  He firmly believed that the Constitution did not include a right to abortion, urging his fellow justices to overturn Roe V. Wade at any possible opportunity.  In Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000, Scalia dissented from the Courts decision to overturn Nebraska’s ban on “partial-birth abortions” due to the lack of an exception for the health of the mother, comparing the Court’s decision to Dred Scott and Korematsu.  In 2007, Scalia joined with the four other Catholics on the Court in Gonzales v. Carhart  to uphold a federal ban on the procedure, a decision that faced blazing criticism on First Amendment grounds.  From Wikipedia:

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone, a former colleague of Scalia’s, criticized Gonzales, stating that religion had influenced the outcome as all five justices in the majority were Catholic, whereas the dissenters were Protestant or Jewish.[68] This angered Scalia to such an extent that he stated he would not speak at the University of Chicago as long as Stone is there.[69]

Ahem.  Me thinks the esteemed juror doth protest too much.  Scalia was firmly against affirmative action, voting against it every chance he got, and was similarly skeptical of laws that sought equality of the sexes.  Recently Scalia allowed his hatred of affirmative action to get the best of him in Fisher v. University of Texas, either revealing his own racism or simply giving the appearance of racism.  As Mother Jones reported:

During oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case on Wednesday morning, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia raised the suggestion that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional.

He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

Even more than affirmative action however, Justice Scalia saved his worst vitriol for the gay and lesbian community.  In 1996 Scalia dissented from the majorities opinion in Romer v. Evans, a ruling that effectively ended the 1986 ruling that permitted states to make homosexual sodomy illegal, Bowers v. Hardwick.  Quoting from Wiki once again:

Scalia later said of Romer, “And the Supreme Court said, ‘Yes, it is unconstitutional.’ On the basis of—I don’t know, the Sexual Preference Clause of the Bill of Rights, presumably. And the liberals loved it, and the conservatives gnashed their teeth.”[78]

In 2003 Lawrence v. Texas formally reversed Bowers, a case that Scalia not only dissented from, but practically made a mockery of himself over.

According to Mark V. Tushnet in his survey of the Rehnquist Court, during the oral argument in the case, Scalia seemed so intent on making the state’s argument for it that the Chief Justice intervened.[79] According to his biographer, Joan Biskupic, Scalia “ridiculed” the majority in his dissent for being so ready to cast aside Bowers when many of the same justices had refused to overturn Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.[80] In March 2009, openly gay Congressman Barney Frank described him as a “homophobe”.[81]Maureen Dowd described Scalia in a 2003 column as “Archie Bunker in a high-backed chair”.[82] In an op-ed for The New York Times, federal appeals judge Richard Posner and Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall described as radical Scalia’s positions on homosexuality, reflecting an apparent belief that the religious stances supposedly held by the majority of US citizens should take precedence over the Constitution and characterizing Scalia’s “political ideal as verg[ing] on majoritariantheocracy.”[83]

Scalia was a supporter of the 2nd Amendment as well, and I really don’t think I need to tell you how he voted in regards to marriage equality.

As disgusting as I find many of the man’s beliefs, it can not be said that he was not a brilliant legal mind.  He was a man of conviction who seemed to love life, taking his role on the Court seriously while never losing his sense of humor.  For such a conservative firebrand, it may come as a surprise to find his closest friend on the Court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive hero.  The two shared a love for the opera, ”  even appearing together onstage as supernumeraries in Washington National Opera‘s 1994 production of Ariadne auf Naxos.[103] Ginsburg was a colleague of Scalia’s on the D.C. Circuit, and the Scalias and Ginsburgs had dinner together every New Year’s Eve.[141]”

I am not going to lie.  I feel the nation is much better off with Scalia off the Supreme Court.  Even if the US Senate succeeds in obstructing Obama’s nominee to replace him, even if a Republican wins the White House this year, I find it unlikely that they can get a nominee approved who is as dependable of a conservative vote as Scalia was in his time on the bench.  I believe he used his originalism as an excuse to hide his religious motivations behind, with the Court’s 5-4 ruling along religious lines in Gonzales v. Carhart being one of the low points in the history of the Court, making mockery out of JFK’s famous speech allaying fears of his Catholicism.  His belief in a literal Satan as an actual force in reality, while possibly shared by a large portion the the population, is none the less terrifying coming from a man with his level of education and power.  That being said, I wish I was celebrating his removal from the Court because he retired; not due to his death.  I wish nothing but the best to his family and friends in this difficult time.  As a person, I know the pain that his death has caused his loved ones.

Yet as a public figure, as a Justice of the Supreme Court, I am nothing but glad to see him go.

 


I have oral surgery later today, so this will be the last post of the day.  I hope to have a post detailing what Scalia’s death means to the 2016 Presidential campaign tomorrow.