Well, good morning judge…New faces for the Supreme Court

Well, good morning judge…

New faces for the Supreme Court

January 27th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Biden gets to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and he has already sworn that for the first time in 158 such nominations, his candidate will be both black and female.

The fascist right lost their collective minds over this, accusing Biden of affirmative action and exclusionary politics. But of the 158 nominations to the Court, exactly none were both black and female. Only two were black (the second a cynical exercise in tokenism by the Republicans) and only five were female (the last a sop to the lunatic religious right, also by the Republicans.) All the rest where white, and male. Talk about exclusionary politics!

Thirty-seven of those nominations failed, usually because they had something in their past, or were too egregiously unfit for office. The most recent one happened under Barack Obama, who nominated Merrick Garland. That was nine months before a presidential election, and Mitch McConnell blocked committee consideration of the nomination on the grounds that it was too close to the election. It didn’t stop him from shooing through, without hearings, religious token Amy Coney Barrett four years later and just 45 days before a presidential election. George W. Bush hit on the idea of nominating his own personal lawyer to the Court. Harriet Miers, her name was, and while she may well have been a not-bad justice, this was back before the GOP turned into a goosestepping death cult, and too many Republicans balked at the notion of a president’s personal lawyer with no visible qualifications on the Court.

The leading candidate at this point is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. At age 51, she’s on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, having been placed there a couple of years ago. Three Republicans broke ranks to vote for her: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Murkowski is the only one of the three who isn’t a spineless goosestepper, and could be the 51st vote needed to confirm.

Jackson clerked for Stephen Breyer, the retiring Justice she may be replacing. She has double degrees from Harvard, and eight strong years as a district judge. She was (briefly) a hero to Republicans when she ruled in 2018 that the House Judiciary Committee couldn’t sue to compel Don McGahn to testify. That ruling was overturned, although the District Court was reconsidering it now in light of last week’s SC trouncing of Trump, 8-1. She does have a fairly high rate of reversals on appeal.

Another factor that should give progressives pause is that she served in an advisory capacity on the board of the religiously conservative Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland. Among other things this now-defunct school believed was “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation…All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society…In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love…Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Wow. Sounds like the kind of zealotry you would expect to hear from Barrett.

The other front runner is Justice Leondra Kruger, who now serves on the California Supreme Court. She was only 37 when Governor Jerry Brown nominated her, and is still only 45 now. If selected, she would be the second youngest nominee for the court, behind only the still-juvenile Clarence Thomas.

She has also argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court itself, and graduated from Yale, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. She clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens, so she has quite a formidable record and strong familiarity with high court proceedings, both in California and DC. She was also a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School. She also graduated with honors from Harvard University, where she was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson. So she has an amazing record.

Most of her judicial record is liberal-leaning but with careful adherence to precedent. At a time when we have justices willing to trash voir dire in order to support nutball ideas from the lunatic right and trash voting and civil rights, she would be a strong voice for applying the brakes to this mad dash to the bottom that the Trump-infested court is now on.

Of the two, Kruger seems the stronger choice. There may be others on Biden’s list of whom I’m not aware, but those two, Kruger and Jackson, are the ones most mooted about.

I hope Biden names Kruger. I think she would be a strong, stabilizing force on the court going forward.

Organic prayers: a review of The God Committee

The God Committee

The God Committee

Directed by Austin Stark

Written by Austin Stark

Produced by Molly Conners, Amanda Bowers, Jonathan Rubenstein, Ari Pinchot, Jane Oster, Bingo Gubelmann, & Benji Kohn


• Kelsey Grammer

• Julia Stiles

• Janeane Garofalo

• Dan Hedaya

• Colman Domingo

Cinematography Matt Sakatani Roe

Edited by Alan Canant

Music by The Newton Brothers

Production companies

• Crystal City Entertainment

• Paper Street Films

• Phiphen Pictures

• Plain Jane Pictures

• KGB Films

The main story line is this: a young man is killed in an auto accident, and he is an organ donor. A major hospital in New York City finds that his heart is a match for three patients on their list. None of the three are ideal: one is a 55 year old man who weighs 335 pounds; another is an elderly woman who is entirely unsure if she wants a transplant, and the third a younger man with a history of drug use and a prediliction toward irresponsible and even violent behavior. The committee has 45 minutes to decide who will get the heart. The third prospect’s father is a very rich and powerful man who puts a person on the committee to inform them that no matter what they decide, he will consider a $25 million grant.

There are several subplots that flesh out and explain the motives and behavior of the various characters.

The film gets a bit too dramatic in places, but the issues and dilemmas are all quite real, and the ways in which the various characters respond are both compelling and entirely credible.

Kelsey Grammer, who I tend to associate with comedy and light entertainment, is formidable in this as a remote and austere senior physician. Julia Stiles, his ex wife, is equally compelling. The acting is solid, the dialog is solid, and the medical issues are informed and plausible.

People put off by gore will find the operation sequences upsetting, but the movie is well worth the 93 minutes invested in it.

Now on Netflix.

Jan 6 No Trump — Bridging the year

Jan 6 No Trump

Bridging the year

January 7th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

I feel a lot better this January 7th compared to the same date last year. Back then, I was wondering if the United States had any sort of future, or was destined to fall into neo-Nazi fascism headed by one of the most vicious and corrupt swine ever to hold public office.

We’re a long way from out of the woods, of course, but at least it stopped snowing and the wolves seem to have buggered off. Yes, the Republican party is now a fully-formed death cult, and yes, Trump is still in the news a lot, but they aren’t quite as scary as they were the day they tried to destroy America. And America seems to be gaining a bit of a lease on life, at least until the mid-terms.

Biden and the Democrats seem to be finally taking the gloves off. Biden gave a barn burner of a speech on the anniversary, pounding Trump into the ground without ever mentioning him by name. How effective was the speech? Well, two days later, and Trump is still yowling like a cat shitting a porcupine. Fox “News” couldn’t even bear to discuss the speech, instead trying to pretend the assault on the Capitol was no big deal really, BLM and Antifa were worse, and why hasn’t Biden controlled inflation and COVID? The Lord Haw-Haws of that propaganda pit have their loyal viewers, of course, but it’s eroding as Trump’s Big Lie continues to shrink under the assault of facts and evidence.

Merrick Garland also gave a speech, detailing why the Justice Department investigations were flying under the radar, and reassuring people that the trials and convictions of the small fry at the riots was only the opening act. In the state of New York, at least two Trump whelps, Donny the Lesser and Ivanka the Skanka, have been subpoenaed, and there are reports that Melania the Melanoma has been selling off some of her wardrobe and other personal possessions to make ends meet.

Things aren’t going well for Trump loyalists, either. The Brownshirts have lost a really big civil case in the wake of the Unite the Right rally and are being sued out of existence. Devin Nunes, Trump’s biggest cow in Congress, suddenly quit in order to run Trump’s social media empire. If you’re asking, “what social media empire?”, my answer is “exactly.” The January 6th Commission has shown it isn’t screwing around, and is handing out subpoenas left and right, including Bannon, Meadows, Alexander (“Victory or Death!”), Ali with subpoenas expected for various members of Congress who might have to be forced to testify under oath, such as Gym Jordan (OH! Jimmy!), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas.). It occurs to me that just by tossing those eight out of the House and into prison would raise the average IQ of Congress by at least 10 points.

While Republicans are still working feverishly to try to turn the next American elections into a Soviet-style joke, they aren’t making the headway they were hoping for. Cyber Ninjas, the redoubtable firm in charge of the of-course-it’s-legitimate! Arizona recount, are facing $50,000 a day in fines for refusing to turn over records that are in the public domain regarding how the count was conducted. Given that the count not only confirmed the results, but actually gave Biden a couple of hundred votes he didn’t have before, you have to wonder how much gaming and cheating went in to achieving a result that was only slightly unfavorable to their cause. And how much of that was flat-out illegal. None of the dozens of other state audits seem to have gained much traction. Even notoriously corrupt Wisconsin seems to have given up on party-run recounts as a bad idea. In the meantime, Republican efforts at gerrymandering seem to have stalled out. In places like Texas, it’s because it was already so gerrymandered they could no longer maintain plausible deniability. And I suspect some Republicans, aware of the growing fragility of the Trump cult, are hedging their bets.

For all we hear about Trump “running out the clock” in hopes Republicans can take the House and make the January 6th commission go away, other legal proceedings that the House cannot interfere with are continuing apace. Garland already made that clear in his speech, and there are a swirl of well-informed reports that the State of New York is going to be dropping the hammer on Trump in the immediate future. Tax fraud, tax evasion, corrupt business practices, it’s a very long list. And remember, Trump’s most efficient henchmen are gone; Former CFO Weisselberg is fighting to keep his own ass out of jail, and former torpedo Michael Cohen is an active enemy gleefully providing evidence (many, MANY skeletons in THAT closet!) against Trump. Trump, in Cohen’s mind, tried to kill Cohen by sending him back to his cell in the height of the pandemic last year. He didn’t appreciate that.

A lot has been made of the poll showing that only 21% of Republican voters think Biden won legitimately. Granted, there are a lot of brainwashed fools and just plain fools in the GOP, but I suspect a lot of them are joining that chorus not from any personal belief, but because they know the cost of disloyalty to the party. “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.” The GOP have been a lot like Russia’s Communist Party for many years, and should the party destroy democracy and become, like the USSR, a one-party state, there would be a dear price for showing disloyalty. Nobody doubts the viciousness and cruelty of the GOP, but if they can’t seize power, support for them will erode like cotton candy under Niagara Falls. Conviction persists; fear cannot.

A lot of that will erode as the legal investigations dissect GOP efforts to stage a coup. Fox News might ignore the stories and whine about Hunter Biden, but the rest of America’s media will not ignore it—and even Fox will turn when they can no longer sustain their fear of Trump and start to fear the American people instead.

So on this anniversary, we’ve gained a lot of ground in defeating Trump and his swinish followers. Much remains to be done, and of course, any number of things could go wrong. Remember, we are saddled with a major party that WANTS things to go wrong.

We’re not home free, and won’t be for some time to come. But we’re at least moving in the right direction.

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