Not a game

The 2018 supplemental poverty measure found that Social Security benefits kept more than 27 million people out of poverty last year and that refundable tax credits did the same for almost 8 million people. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, known as food stamps, also kept an estimated three million people from becoming poor.

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759512938/u-s-census-bureau-reports-poverty-rate-down-but-millions-still-poor

Pete.

Buttigeig invoked the man upstairs:

“’If you believe that God is watching’ as humanity spews pollutants, ‘what do you think God thinks of that?’ he asked. ‘This is less and less about the planet as an abstract thing and more about specific people suffering specific harm because of what we’re doing right now. At least one way of talking about this is that it’s a kind of sin.’”

Hard to ignore Mayor Pete as a damn good spokesperson for the Christian faith. When he talks about his faith, it sounds like welcoming and inclusive.

Banning things always works

Nice to see that my home state is leading the nation in a stupid idea.

“Michigan will become the first state in the nation to ban flavored vape products in a move Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says is aimed at protecting youth.

The ban, which will be imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) through direction from Whitmer, prohibits online and retail sales of flavored nicotine vaping products.”

Can you believe the Legislature passed this? They didn’t.

“The move comes not by executive order from Whitmer, but through Michigan’s administrative rules process, which allows state agencies to create regulations or policies that, once authorized, act as laws.

The vaping ban rule has not yet been filed, but will be effective immediately once complete in a few weeks, Whitmer’s spokesperson said. At that point, the ban will last six months, and will give Michigan businesses 30 days to comply.”

Kinda love that I’m writing this while waiting for my Admin Law class to start. Why wait for the Legislature when you can simply subvert the process and do whatever shit you want.

Lest you accuse me of going back to my libertarian roots, it’s not just that. For almost 20 years I smoked a pack of cigarettes every day. My addiction was STRONG. Nothing worked.

I quit by vaping. Specifically, I switched to the “fruity flavors” to wean myself away from cigarettes. I stopped craving cigarettes because they started to smell and taste disgusting. A Newport tastes like ass when you’re accustomed to vaping birthday cake.

Under current Michigan rules, quitting smoking would have been way harder for me. This well intended rule could quite easily have the opposite effect. More often than not, this is the case. But Americans love to learn things the hard way.

Bad faith

A senior policy advisor in the Labor Department has resigned after he got a lot of pressure from the media over an antisemitic remark on Facebook. He said he was being sarcastic.

“It was sarcastic criticism of the alt-right’s conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic positions,” Olson said in an interview. He declined to respond to other questions about his resignation and the Facebook post, including whether he wishes to apologize or if he regrets his actions. The remark remained on his Facebook feed through the end of August”

Pretty lousy if the quote was actually sarcastic. There is plenty of antisemitism in the world. We need not invent it to get more clicks to your Bloomberg article. Unfortunately, there are no consequences to joining the cancel-culture in bad faith.

No safe space in the middle

I’m taking Constitutional Law 2 this semester. The first week covered equal protection. As an introduction to equal protection questions based on race, we were assigned the Dred Scott decision. I hadn’t read it before, which is kind of surprising because I’m such a Civil War psycho. The holding in the case struck me hard. It reveals the Chief Justice as a selfish person acting selfishly when the moment begs for someone to be responsible.

The Caning of Charles Sumner

The case appeared on the Supreme Court docket when the question of slavery was absolutely on fire. The “Missouri Compromise” led to what we now call “Bleeding Kansas,” a series of violent clashes between organized groups divided over the question slavery. A pro-slavery member of the House beat an abolitionist Senator with a cane on the Senate floor. John Brown gathered his forces and allies. The Dred Scott Decision, about a year later, is the moment the where the mere possibility of Civil War edged toward a necessity.

Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri who moved to Illinois where slavery was illegal. At the time, a slave could only be free if their status was changed in court. To emancipate a slave you had to take him or her down to the courthouse. Scott filed a complaint in Missouri asking for his freedom. His bondage was illegal in Illinois, so in respect to Illinois state sovereignty, his slave status in Missouri was therefore illegal.

Chief Justice Taney did not agree with Dred Scott. The Constitution allowed for slavery, so slavery was legal. Dred Scott was property, not a man according to the nation’s founding document.

Unfortunately, Taney’s holding in the case was correct. Slavery is an evil but to remove it you must amend the Constitution.

Taney could have said that. “Hey, it sucks, but this is the law,” would have sufficed. It would have been a disappointment, but could have correctly framed the debate. A narrow, logical holding based on law would have been in line with the other Supreme Court decisions on slavery up until then. Amistad, Strader v. Graham, and others took measured tone of respect for both sides. The Justices up until Taney seemed to respect that slavery was a powder keg, and preferred caution over bombast.

Taney did not do that. He went fucking nuts. The Chief Justice decided to address issues that were not in front of the court at all. He not only held that slavery is allowable under the Constitution, which at the time was true, he held that black people are inferior to white people. He claimed that was not only was this the case at the time, but will be in perpetuity. Actual quote from holding:

Roger Taney

“We give both of these laws in the words used by the respective legislative bodies, because the language in which they are framed, as well as the provisions contained in them, show, too plainly to be misunderstood, the degraded condition of this unhappy race. They were still in force when the Revolution began, and are a faithful index to the state of feeling towards the class of persons of whom they speak, and of the position they occupied throughout the thirteen colonies, in the eyes and thoughts of the men who framed the Declaration of Independence and established the State Constitutions and Governments. They show that a perpetual and impassable barrier was intended to be erected between the white race and the one which they had reduced to slavery, and governed as subjects with absolute and despotic power, and which they then looked upon as so far below them in the scale of created beings, that intermarriages between white persons and negroes or mulattoes were regarded as unnatural and immoral, and punished as crimes, not only in the parties, but in the person who joined them in marriage. And no distinction in this respect was made between the free negro or mulatto and the slave, but this stigma, of the deepest degradation, was fixed upon the whole race.” – C.J, Taney. Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 409, 15 L. Ed. 691 (1857), superseded (1868)

Taney’s holding in Dred Scott is repugnant, his actions a stain on his family ever since. High Schools cover the case at an arm’s length. Any closer examination turns the stomach. The holding is also filled with historical mistakes, but let’s try to focus on this as a political act. We will assume Taney expressed his own, deeply held beliefs.

It’s hard to imagine the Civil War happening without the Dred Scott decision. Taney’s hard-line, fire-eater opinion made made negotiation impossible. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was two years later, the action that formed the Army of Northern Virginia and thus the Confederate Army.

For me, reading the Dred Scott Decision this week forced me think about the allure of extremism. It’s undeniably fun to throw down a hot take on Twitter or Facebook. Take a bold stand, consequences be damned. “I don’t care who I piss off, I’m just going to say it.” Except that such stances are not bold. They are not brave. Above all, they do not help. An examination of history and specifically the Civil War suggests that moderation is key a better society; recognizing that you are a part in something larger means is not a weakness. Those who consider their fellow travelers before they speak are brave, because there is far more safety among the extremes that if a person draws fire from both sides.

It was important for me to read the decision now because of a very strange argument that has emerged on the progressive side of politics. Eve Fairbanks, writing for the Washington Post, argues that people who lament the loss of civility in our current politics are analogous to the antebellum arguments made by moderates in the lead up to the Civil War. She argues that “civility” is nothing more than a delay tactic with roots in slavery-apology. While that’s technically true, her conclusions seem to take another leap. The argument seems to suggest that moderation is a bad idea. She brings up the Lincoln Douglas debates:

“In their 1858 debates, Lincoln pressed Douglas to clarify what kind of America he really wanted: one that had slaves or one that didn’t? Douglas claimed only to stand against mob rule. But why, Lincoln asked, was he choosing to die on the South’s hill? Why would applying his principle — the mandate to protect the South from “interference” by extremist hordes — end up curtailing freedom for millions of black Americans? Was it possible, Lincoln suggested, that Douglas secretly preferred a slave society to a free one?”

Fairbanks, Eve. “Perspective | Conservatives Say We’ve Abandoned Reason and Civility. The Old South Said That, Too.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Aug. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/29/conservatives-say-weve-abandoned-reason-civility-old-south-said-that-too/.

The trouble is that Mr. Lincoln is a hypocrite in his questions to Douglas. The President famously kept his true opinions on slavery mostly to himself. Many times he spoke on both sides of the debate, his statements situational, adjusted to illicit an outcome. Even friends did not know his true opinion on slaves. A spoke of sending Freedmen back to Africa, and campaigned not to end slavery but to stop its spread. Examining his deeds make him look like an abolitionist. He might have been the only politician in the country who actually wanted the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation does not proscribe anything gradual, it is effective immediately. If Lincoln wanted to end the Civil War on a compromise over slavery, he could have done it dozens of times. It would have been politically expedient to do so after Fredricksburg, second Bull Run, or Cold Harbor. He did not, even though he claimed he would end the war for a compromise with the South. In the words of southern writer Shelby Foote, everything President Lincoln said and did during the war had been “calculated for effect.”

Consider Taney’s holding on Dred Scott in comparison to Lincoln’s calculations, and focus on the outcome. Say what you want about Taney, you cannot accuse him of holding back his opinion. He was strong, forceful and gave the nation the tough love that he no doubt thought they “needed” to hear.

That’s why he lost. His name is whispered among history’s villains, his views tossed onto the dustbin of history. His family and their name will always owe an apology. His extremism now defines him in a negative light.

Moderation is a scourge in politics today. Hilary Clinton’s leaked emails, which the right used to discredit her campaign, used Lincoln as the example to discuss having “public” and “private” positions. Her remarks shed light on responsible governance, how it is necessary to keep certain things private to preserve negotiations. Of course The Chosen One did not understand the nuances in her argument. He barked the words that triggered his minions, who nodded along in fealty.

We hear the word “strong” said over and over in today’s politics. The Chosen One has strong opinions; he fights; you at least know where he stands. Progressives seem jealous sometimes. We want our own extremist, who barks and fights their way across the political field, the squishy moderates lie in pools of maroon around their feet. We want an uncompromising shouter, because civility is for the weak. We should resist that.

The slave supporting fire-eaters must have greeted Taney’s holding with delight. White people who thought themselves of a higher race must have smiled wide when they heard the result, and likely squealed with glee at the words themselves.

The victory was short lived. Wonder if they read Taney’s decision on plantations when the sound of General Sherman’s approaching divisions kept getting louder. Perhaps they then longed for moderation, and would counsel against the short term sugar rush that goes from dropping the hot take.

Yes, its harder and slower to be a moderate. Incremental change is difficult and takes decades. It’s also stronger. The Civil War had to happen, but do you get 100 years Jim Crow if you reach a political compromise to end slavery? We’ll never know. It seems like MLK’s hard-won reforms through nonviolent, moderate means were far more lasting that what was won in the Civil War.

I’m not the only one troubled by the Walsh crusade.

“In that sense, Mr. Walsh is a cautionary tale. We live in a time of acute bitterness and acrimony, where people’s first (and second and third) impulse is to brutalize, insult, embarrass and demean those who hold different views. The purpose of language, as they see it, isn’t to clarify or enlighten or reason together. It is to inflict the maximum pain possible on other human beings.”

At some point we must embrace forgiveness as an admirable trait in our culture. We need not be like Plato, casting aside the Athenian who step out of line.

Gillibrand

She’s out.

“Trump reacted to the news with sarcasm.

‘A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary,’ Trump tweeted. ‘I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!'”

See what I mean? Trump is EXACTLY the same sense of humor as a schlock jock radio host. I say this with some (ahem) authority.

I liked her candidacy. She would have done much better in a more shallow field. Her message seemed to speak brilliantly to suburban women, who are going to decide this election, but I think Elizabeth Warren did it better.

It’s amazing that she has not gotten as much traction as Warren. Gillibrand has been in the Senate longer than Warren and has the “moderate” bona fides so popular among the 2020 candidates. I suspect her attitude toward Al Franken is what ruined it, and that criticism is probably deserved. She was right to ask Franken to leave the Senate, but she was kind of an asshole about it afterward. That made her look small when she could have looked like a healer. After Al stepped down, she should have said “He did the right thing…” and not continue to claim Franken was a predator.

It’s not like she’s finished politically. Help is needed in the Senate.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t matter.

Deutsche Bank has the Chosen One’s tax returns and loan documents.

Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that it was in possession of some tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued earlier this year to President Trump, his family and his businesses.
In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the German lender wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form).”

How to be awful.

My new blog isn’t even a week old and I get to talk about the Civil War. This is paying off.

Wish I had a better source than Media Matters, but they did the best job captioning it and isolating the clip.

BEN SHAPIRO (HOST): Meanwhile the attempt to paint America’s history as irreversibly dark and immutably horrible continues apace at our nation’s great editorial newspapers. Jonathon Capehart, writing for The Washington Post has an entire piece called “Dismantling the Myth of America and the white men who founded it.” You see they were all evil and terrible and no good and very bad. And that means that America’s founding was very bad. 

There was a national apology for slavery. It was called the Civil War where 700,000 Americans died. So that seems to have been kind of important in American history.

Ben Shapiro said, “There was a national apology for slavery. It was called the Civil War where 700,000 Americans died.”

The American Civil War was NOT an apology, jackass. Far from it. You don’t invade on the premise of human rights and start burning people’s farms down as an apology.

The war was fought over slavery. While it’s true that not all motives were pure and many of them were economic, like many of the 17th Century revolutions, the basic idea was whether black people could be treated as chattel. The cost and value of labor was on everyone’s mind. Much is made of the northern industrialists, but the south had grown to a vastly wealthy aristocracy. Even Lost Cause sympathizers admit that the “southern way of life” was a mere euphemism for what was, in reality, a caste system.

It is true that the Union fought to free the slaves, but it was no apology. Many of the eventual Freedmen folded a blue uniform before stowing it away with their memories. You can’t claim an apology on a collaboration.

Claiming that the Civil War was an apology is offensive. There also need not be an apology for slavery. Apologies, however sincere, can only do so much. While we spend far too much time judging the past through modern eyes, and there is an overemphasis on the evils of “white” men, Ben Shapiro is not helping. Just because he’s a lawyer and political scientist does not mean he’s read history.