Last active
2 days, 14 hours ago
User Picture

Why Hobby Lobby will probably win, and why it should.

By: Rex Monday March 24, 2014 7:16 pm

Let's call this the Peyoteros revenge, or "unintended consequences bite", shall we.


Now, I am, of course, appalled (as would any right thinking person be) that the societal benefits of co-payment free birth control and insurance coverage for medical advice about the same) should be undercut by a law specifically intended to vindicate the influence of religion in the sphere of secular behaviour.


But let us be clear–the harm flows not from the unforeseen elaboration of the stated primacy of religious beliefs, but from the decision by the state to give religion special status in the first place.


Let us begin by taking off the table the manifestly outrageous extension to a corporation of a religiously based scruple.  This particular oddity is an artifact not of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  (RFRA) which governs the jurisprudence underlying the Hobby Lobby case but of the decision in Citizens United, extending to corporations the rights which are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.


For sake of clarity, let's assume, arguendo, that instead of a corporate business structure, Hobby Lobby was one of the myriad business owned by an individual, one of the Koch brothers, for example.


Now let us assume that David or Charles Koch were before the court, arguing that his personal religious promptings were outraged at the idea that any business of his might facilitate, even if only in its choice of medical insurance carrier, the use of this or that contraceptive intervention in the intended plans of the Lord for procreation.


Suspend, for a moment your outrage at this preposterous extension of personal privilege to the behaviour of out of sight and out of mind female employees thousands of miles away from the City of New York (and the David Koch Theatre where the eponymous brother may be found pursuing his hobby of fucking ballerinas–not that there's anything wrong with that).


Consider, instead, one of the cases that will inform the judges thinking tomorrow, when Hobby Lobby will be decided.


Evelyn Smith owned two duplexes in Chico, California and sought to avoid renting to unmarried couples. (Significantly, she did not live in either one, and therefor would not have been subject to hearing the sounds attendant upon the ongoing unsanctioned fornication to which she objected.)


The California Supreme Court rejected her RFRA based claim of  exemption from the relevant housing anti-discrimination statutes, mostly on the grounds that if she wished to preserve her religious scruples she could sell the property and invest the money in some way which would not give rise to the possibility of such offense to her faith. The burden of re-deploying her capital was held to be lower than the threshold harm that RFRA was intended to avoid.


The US Supreme court refused review of   the case, to the consternation of a young lawyer in the Clinton White House whose 1996 memo described the California Supreme Court’s reasoning that the anti-discrimination law wasn’t a substantial burden on Smith’s religious beliefs as “quite outrageous,” warning that, “taken seriously, this kind of reasoning could strip RFRA of any real meaning.”


Her name was Elena Kagan.


The RFRA was initially proposed in response to the general consternation amongst the religious (including Ted Kennedy) occasioned by the reversal at the Supreme Court level of a lower court decision that two drug counselors who had used Peyote as part of their unequivocally religiously motivated practices and were then dismissed were eligible for unemployment compensation meaning that their firing was not based upon "good cause".


Thus was born the RFRA, and today we see the revenge of the Peyoteros-a straight line of consequences that flow from the initial evil.


That evil: The conscious decision taken by society to elevate behaviour motivated by religion to a special status not granted other sorts of motivation.

You have your freedom of religion, America. Now choke on it!


One Supreme Court seat turns it all around.

By: Rex Friday March 21, 2014 4:53 pm

Assume, arguendo, that the Dems hold the Senate in 2014.


As now, the House remains, by virtue of crass gerrymander, out of reach of democratic pressure, with no visible hope of redress until the 2020 redistricting, if then.


Must we accept, then, utter and complete stagnation until the congress elected in November 2020 is organized in January 2021?  That is seven more lost years.


Perhaps there is another scenario.


It cannot be lost upon any fair minded observer that the guarantee to each state of "a republican form of government" (Article IV, section 4) is reduced to a mockery when games are played to draw legislative districts designed to favor one party over the other.


Yet, despite the peg of a constitutional mandate upon which to hang an attack on the gerrymander, the Federal Courts have been loath to apply any serious scrutiny to the  practice.


So loath, in fact, that of the two significant decisions touching upon the unfairness which results when the votes of one citizen count for more or less than the votes of another, one is couched in extremely narrow terms, and the other is explicitly declared to be useless as precedent.  In short, the courts have refused to consider the question of equal protection as a standard for the constitutional evaluation of state voting and districting practices.


I refer in the first case to Baker v. Carr (one person, one vote) and in the latter to Bush v. Gore.


I offer for consideration the following scenario.


If one of the current five Republican justices could be replaced by an Obama appointment, a case could be brought and won using as precedents the two cases cited above (notwithstanding the limiting language in Bush v. Gore) ,arguing the mandate of equally protecting the votes of urban and rural individuals, so as to force a wholesale redistricting of the House of Representatives which would vindicate the popular majority of 1.5 million that Democratic candidates received over Republicans in the most recent election. 


Moreover, the myriad games that are currently permitted vis-a-vis the times of operation and location of polling places, the requirements for registration, and the standards for purging voting roles would fall before the nationalization of all elections and the imposition of uniform standards throughout the country.



Guns lawfully owned, must not be registered so as to facilitate the unlawful evasion of lawful confiscation.

By: Rex Friday March 21, 2014 5:20 am

It is commonplace to respond to the fear of gun confiscation, (virtually universally voiced by anti-registration zealots) with a soothing tut-tut, coupled with strenuous oaths forswearing the passage of any law which might reach into the extant stash of any armed citizen in order once and for all to rid society of a manifest source of misery.


One need look no further than Australia to see that it is by no means outside the bounds of imagination that a  people might make a reasoned decision to live unarmed, and in so doing require the surrender of those weapons currently abroad.


We might, after all, amend the Constitution to remove the Second Amendment.  Hard cheese, gun nuts, but there you are.


I find it curious that even as they thump their chests and declare themselves "the law-abiding and responsible gun owners", these same individuals (and their associations) assert, implicitely, their right to disobey a democratically enunciated law (should one issue) that eventually declared the private ownership of firearms forbidden, and furthermore, feel perfectly empowered to assert an interest in facilitating their disobedience to such a law by resisting the salutary (for so many reasons in addition to possible  confiscation) practice of registration.


Consider, after all, that their strident objection to registration is couched in terms that really say this:


If a law were duly passed that required me to sell my gun to the government, I would consider it my right to disobey, and I further assert that in order to make it easier for me to break that law, I will fight any system of registration, notwithstanding all the benefits it might have vis-a-vis crime prevention/solution, because it might make it harder for me to break the law.


But I am a lawful gun owner, you betcha'.

Minimum Wage? Hell, No! Maximum Wage

By: Rex Thursday January 9, 2014 6:16 pm

The degrading squabble over the level at which a nation still retaining some small capacity for shame will say "Below this wage, by irrefutable presumption, labor is uncompensated, ergo (implicitly) slavery", serves only to distract the working class, the surplus value of whose labor is being stolen, from the fact of the theft;

We need a maximum  ratio by which the most highly compensated may command the compensation of multiples of their fellow humans.

Mondragon Co-op, the Basque industrial and commercial giant, sets 8.5 as the multiple that may separate the compensation of the highest executive and the lowest paid hourly employee.

Believe it or not, this order of magnitude was once at least approached in the United States.

That bastion of Calvinist Capitalism, Switzerland, regulates bankers wages.  

"Since 2011, Egypt and France have each pursued fixed pay ratios for leaders of state-owned enterprises"

Let's suppose that we tolerate three times Mondragon, and say that no income from an enterprise that has hourly employees may exceed, in all combined types of compensation (e.g. stock, low interest loans, what have you) 25X the compensation, without overtime, of the lowest hourly laborer in the company. You'd see the hourly rates rocket.



Corrupt cops are like cockroaches–when you see one in the light, there are 100 hidden in the dark.

By: Rex Friday December 6, 2013 1:02 pm

Louis Scarcella, Brooklyn homicide detective (retired), was not a guy you would want to meet, especially if you were a person of color who was innocent of a crime that needed to be cleared. (Cops dislike inventory just like Walmart dislikes unsold crap).

If you have not been following the saga, Scarcella had amassed a remarkable,( indeed incredible…) series of successes bringing quick arrests and smooth convictions in hundreds of homicides.



His stock in trade was the coerced (or even fraudulent) confession, the perjured testimony of jailhouse snitches, and the convenient disposal of exculpatory evidence.

His behavior was so flagrant, that after a few over-the-top frame ups were discovered, and deemed so out of even the relaxed bounds of professional malfeasance that obtain in all prosecutorial offices in every city, county and state jurisdiction in the country, even the notorious Brooklyn DA Hynes (blessedly, as of the last election, retired) was obliged to set a task force to work examining all of Scarcella’s cases.

What should we learn from these stories?

1. Scarcella is not an outlier, he was just a little too flamboyant; his methods are replicated with the same quota of unjust imprisonments and lives destroyed.  It’s kinda like the border patrol stats–for every kilo of heroin they intercept, they figure that a double-digit multiple really got through.

2, Judges stink.  When they stink too badly to continue on the bench, they become arbitrators.;

3, Although paying large dollars does not guarantee competent counsel, getting an appointed lawyer of ancient years will likely result in incompetent representation.  Hold out for a public defender (increasingly being replaced by court appointments because, budgets.)

They have not the standing to sue, nor the balls to impeach.

By: Rex Tuesday December 3, 2013 8:48 pm

Not content to have wrested from their lackeys on the Supreme Court the right to exclude from Medicaid millions of low income citizens of Repugnant governed states, the punks infesting the lower house of congress writhe in continued agony over their impotence.


They promise, therefor, continued frivolous lawsuits, such as the one presently in train purporting to object to the extension of federal subsidies to low income consumers seeking coverage on the (fallback) federal exchange,


One may anticipate an entertaining bit of contortionist artistry as an utter stranger to the transaction attempts to insert himself in order to be heard to object to the terms pursuant to which one party, the IRS, extends to a second party, the taxpayer, a cash transfer payable to a third party, an insurer.


Lotsa luck, chump.  (Parenthetically, the New York Times manages two pages on the topic without guiding the reader to the lack of standing afflicting the prospective litigants.)


More entertaining still, a hearing proposed by the House entitled: "The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws, will be presided over by Robert Goodlatte, a teabagger of tiny brain and smaller dick.


Here's a hint, nimrod.  If you think you have a beef over a failure to enforce, you need to bring on impeachment.  Othewise, shut the fuck up.

Impunity bites

By: Rex Thursday July 25, 2013 12:01 am

There are few occasions for
international irritation more
abrasive than the refusal by one
sovereign to honor the request of
another that a fugitive from justice
be surrendered to the tribunals if
the aggrieved nation.
Recall that the proximate casus
belli for the longest war in
American history was the refusal
by the Taliban rump Afghan
government to extradite Osama
Bin Laden.
Sometimes the tug of war over the
person of a wanted fugitive takes
on added poignancy where the
government holding (or
harboring) the fugitive is subject
to competing demands from a
stronger interlocutor. Thus, it
took Panama less than a day to
decide that Italy was not, after all,
going to bring to justice the **CIA
station chief already tried in
absentia and sentenced to prison
for kidnapping committed in
Milan. In that instance the USA
put down its ( big) foot and justice
was evaded.
Conversely, when it has suited our
purposes, we have denied
extradition for accused terrorists
and *self confessed mass
murderers. One of those accused
terrorists, as it happens, was a
Chechen whose extradition to the
justice system of Russia was
refused because (somewhat in
eerie echo of Mullah Omar’s
recalcitrant posture vis- a-vis Bin
Laden) we decided that our own
independent judgment as to the
validity of the charges against him
was to be honored over the
demands of the aggrieved nation.
Which brings us to Edward
Snowden, and the back of Vlad
Putin’s hand (or perhaps merely a
single digit thereof). Besieged as
they are with our importunities,
the Russians have taken this
occasion to reference some 20
fugitives, demands for whose
extradition have brought the
Russians no satisfaction.
On behalf of the families who wait
still to see Orlando Bosch before a
Cuban court, and the aggrieved
Mullah rendered for torture by the
fugitive CIA station chief whose
extradition we handily blocked, I
say , right on, Vlad.
Stick it to’em. nobody likes a
double :standard pleading
Bosch **http://

For instance:
The Interior Ministry accused the
United States of “double
standards” in demanding Edward
J. Snowden’s return, complaining
that the U.S. had refused
extradition requests.

The patriarchy strikes back; it is bestial, it is brutal. It is Moloch, and it is consuming its daughters.

By: Rex Friday March 8, 2013 3:01 am

From the PBS Newshour, a story so frightful that it will shake your humanity to the core, in horror that your species includes amongst it the sort who would perpetrate the foul crime described.


Briefly, in a spasm of rage mimiced (it is estimated) 5000 times each year, a family of rich Pakistanis stalked and murdered its daughter and grandchildren.  Her crime–she married a poor man.


We have already become inured, perhaps, to the bizarre and murderous tribal excresences grotesquely denominated "honor killings", the motivation for which is usually described as the refusal of a daughter (never a son…) to comform to the tribal norms surrounding sex and marriage.


Sometimes the murdered girl refused to be sold in marriage to a man three times her age. Sometimes the victim is described as fleeing one designated husband to be with another whom she loved.


Sometimes the couple sought legal sanction for their love, sometimes not.


The universal element: Daring to ally herself with some man of whom her male family members disapproved.


The linked story is fraught with extra horror, with the homicidal revenge extending to the two tiny children of the dispised union.


The bottom line–we are doomed to interact with these cultural cretins, and to have the stench of their diseased souls pollute the very air we breath.


As such, we cannot ignore, and thus cannot permit, this oppression. Let us, at the very least, be conductors on a modern underground railway, and emulate those who helped in the slaves' desperate dash to escape.


Just as the abolitionists in the northern states could not abide that slavery should continue to prosper and flourish in our country, so we must be as resolute and unforgiving as John Brown before the slavery of our sisters.


One planet, one rule: Freedom.