Science is more than a body of knowledge

[S]cience is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996) at p.32.

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If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case…

But that is all I would say, out of adherence to a simple yet fundamental principle of judicial restraint: If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more.

— Chief Justice John Roberts, concurring in judgment, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 597 U. S. ____ (2022).

Jacob Sullum, writing at Reason, “John Roberts and the Path SCOTUS Did Not Take on Abortion”:

Roberts’ partial concurrence argues that the majority violated “a simple yet fundamental principle of judicial restraint” by going further than was necessary to resolve the case. He notes that Mississippi initially said the Court could uphold its law without completely renouncing the right to abortion identified in Roe and upheld in Casey. That position is reflected in the way the state framed the main question for the Court when it sought review of the 5th Circuit decision rejecting the 15-week ban: “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

After the Court agreed to hear the case, however, Mississippi broadened its argument, urging the justices to hold that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion at all. “The Court now rewards that gambit,” Roberts writes, “noting three times that the parties presented ‘no half-measures’ and argued that ‘we must either reaffirm or overrule Roe and Casey.'” As Roberts sees it, the Court should have stuck with the question as originally presented. “If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case,” he says, “then it is necessary not to decide more.”

This conservative mindset is at odds with constitutional text and history

Damon Root writing at Reason, “Alito’s Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe Is an Insult to the 9th Amendment: The Constitution protects many more rights than it mentions, as James Madison explained.”:

[…]For Alito and the many legal conservatives who think like him, unenumerated constitutional rights are inherently suspect. When a court recognizes an unenumerated right, these conservatives say, that court is almost certainly guilty of judicial activism.

But this conservative mindset is at odds with constitutional text and history, both of which make clear that unenumerated rights are entitled to the same respect as the small handful of rights that the Constitution specifically lists.

Exactly.

No one should get used to their rights

Mary Ziegler writing at The Atlantic, “If the Supreme Court Can Reverse Roe, It Can Reverse Anything”:

If this decision signals anything bigger than its direct consequences, it is this: No one should get used to their rights. Predicting with certainty which ones, if any, will go, or when, is impossible. But Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a stark reminder that this can happen. Rights can vanish. The majority wants us to think otherwise.

Indeed.

But until recently, there were limits on what the Court would do. Historically, the justices seemed reluctant to do anything too radical, lest they cause a backlash that damaged the power and prestige of the institution.

One might have expected any such guardrails to be particularly effective at protecting Roe, the best-known of any Supreme Court decision, and one that many Americans seem to support. The Dobbs decision makes plain that those limits are gone. In their place is a kind of constitutional partisanship, dictated by the interpretive philosophies and political priors of whoever currently has a majority on the Court and nothing more.

Judicial activism, plain and simple. Of course, I doubt you’ll hear any “so-called Conservatives”1 complaining — they only complain about judicial activism when the ruling is one they disagree with… in other words, hypocrisy.

yeah, in a minute…
1 For more on “so-called Conservatives” and what Conservatism actually is, see: On Conservatives and Conservatism.

The Attempted Coup of 6 January 2021

For half a century, Republican and “so-called Conservative”1 apologists have been trying to find someting — anything — to minimize Watergate — a shocking and atrocious situation in which the sitting President of the United States conspired — in the Oval Office — to commit a felony, and then further conspired — in the Oval Office — to cover it up. Unfortunately for them, the only event in half a century that even comes close to minimizing the utter disgust of Watergate has been the fucking attempted coup of 6 January 2021.

The information coming out — from the former President’s own people — is utterly damning. It’s impossible to look at this information critically, skeptically, without reaching the undeniable conclusion that the shameful events of 6 January 2021 were, in fact, and attempted coup d’état. Sad.

In the future, the great United States of America will be spoken of like some piss-poor Southern American country where coups happen all the time. What a legacy.

yeah, in a minute…
1 For more on “so-called Conservatives” and what Conservatism actually is, see: On Conservatives and Conservatism.

The religious factions that are growing throughout our land…

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”
[emphasis added]

• Senator Barry Goldwater, Five-term U.S. Senator and Hero of American Conservatism (Speech in the U.S. Senate, September 16, 1981).

Wait a minute

Tom: “…cracker-ass, fruity-booty, wack as hell, weak sauce, fuckhead, fuckface, fucknuts, shit nuts, shit fuck, fuck fuck–”

Gene: “Wait a minute, somebody called me a ‘fuck fuck’?”

Tom: “Yeah. Rob Reiner, 1994. Was the ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’ audition. I specifically said I don’t want feedback.”

— Fred Melamed as Tom Possoro and Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau, Barry S3E4 “all the sauces” (HBO 2022).

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed that most of the women who are against abortion are women you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place, man?

— George Carlin, A Place for My Stuff (1981).

Some things never change…

If Justice Scalia is moved to say you’re discriminating

If Justice Scalia is moved to say you’re discriminating, you know you’re really doing something wrong.

— Jahan Sagafi, Labor and Employment Attorney, White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (Netflix 2022).

Prince Rogers Nelson +6

On this day, 6 years ago, the world lost Prince, and it’s been downhill ever since…

What the hell is wrong with Florida?

What the hell is wrong with Florida?

— Jason Jones as Nate Parker, The Detour S1E10, “The Beach” (2016).