Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Taney Court II: The Law is the Loser - Foreign Policy Edition

Ian Millhiser, writing in Vox yesterday morning

On August 13, a judge in Texas appointed by then-President Donald Trump effectively ordered the Biden administration to permanently reinstate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. That policy, which is officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), requires many immigrants who seek asylum in the United States to stay in Mexico while they await a hearing.

Twitter commentator @nycsouthpaw, yesterday evening:

Supreme Court endorses a lower court judge’s hostile takeover of immigration policy, ordering the Biden Admin to resume the so-called remain in Mexico policy while litigation proceeds.

This is a Supreme Court endorsement of the creation of concentration camps in Mexico. Almost as troubling as that endorsement are the implications of the decision. What, exactly, is the Biden administration to do if Mexico rejects the creation of the camps? It is probably a breach of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees to which the USA is signatory. And, finally, foreign policy is not in the purview of the judiciary; that power is reserved to the Executive by the Constitution, and there is a body of law to that effect. The Roberts Court, in this not-exactly-a-decision, makes it possible for any Federal judge to intervene in foreign policy. It is clearly a political decision, and one made on whim, without any plausible legal theory behind it.

As I have written before, there is no law any more, only the whim of the Court's conservatives. I cannot see how the rule of law in the USA will survive many years of this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Rebellious COVID Thoughts

Governors Abbott, DeSantis, and a few others are committing democide – murder by government – with their policies which spread COVID-19. It makes no sense, but there it is.

Can the Federal government do nothing? State governments have in history acted against their citizens: Jim Crow and the suppression of organized labor are the obvious examples, but never before have state governments acted against the life and health of their supporters. The US system, as a result of its heritage of slavery and racism, limits the actions the Federal government can take against the state governments, but over the two and a half centuries since the founding of the United States, Federal laws intended to check the worst abuses of the states have been passed, though often subverted by a reactionary judiciary.

I think in Pres. Biden's shoes I’d have the Justice Department to work up charges against Abbott and DeSantis that would stand up in court – after so many infections and deaths there ought to be something, some law under which they could be prosecuted. It just might work.

COVID-19: a crisis of faith

I’ve written about this before:  “A revolt against modernity. A revolt against the communications technologies which connect us. A revolt against a world where Western culture is one of many.” But above all, it is a revolt against the world where are the simple truths preached in fundamentalist and evangelical protestant churches are false.

Vaccination is not a new technology, nor is widespread deployment of vaccine a new thing. Vaccination has been used to suppress smallpox, one of the great ancient scourges of humanity, and polio. So why all this reaction against the COVID-19 vaccine? Apparently, because a significant fraction of the public is now persuaded that the use of the COVID-19 vaccine is blasphemous. But this is nonsense. Epidemics are nothing new and the Bible even advises the Israelites to follow medical advice.

The disease and the vaccines do not behave the way the preachers would have it. God doesn’t keep people from getting Covid and the vaccine works. So there is a crisis of faith. People have been given a choice: either believe what is taught in church or believe the advice to be vaccinated. And they know  from overwhelming concrete evidence that the advice given in church is wrong. For these people the epidemic and the vaccine is a crisis of faith. They are angry and disappointed in a way which is unimaginable to someone who has not a pillar of their life pulled out from under them.

Past crises of faith have resulted in enormous outbursts of anger and destruction. How do we prevent that here?