Thursday, July 25, 2013

John Roberts, The Evisceration of Section 5, Cognitive Dissonance, And the Rush to the Gates

Dalhia Lithwick passionately, factually, persuasively argues that the declaration of the end of pre-clearance protections under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as no longer necessary has, with unintentional and tragic hilarity, led within hours to those very districts formerly subject to pre-clearance rushing to the gates to reenact entire gluttonous slates of new Jim Crow laws that make a mockery of Roberts' self-denying, self-satisfied declaration of the End of Racism. 

The overt cynicism of Republican circles here is sickening, if expected.  North Carolina so immediately glutted itself on a raft of voter suppression provisions that it must only have been that the Land O' Marbles was closed during voting that prevented the addition of a further poll test requirement.

I'm more interested in how Roberts deals with the cognitive dissonance here, except with a pristine, mind-narrowing embrace of the inevitable justice that leads from untrammelled state sovereignty.

Containing his pristine certainty in the face of this multi-district, proximally immediate, all-you-can-suppress buffet must make it a special effort to maintain the certainty of his wish to believe in the end of history.
The fact that days--or hours--after the decision, those very states and districts under pre-clearance rushed to storm the gates with the newest forms of Jim Crow--undeniable on both intent and outcome, as the Fourteenth Amendment requires it--must particularly wrap Roberts in a shell of ice blue denial, fighting off just the smallest bare approach of the dissonance of obvious cause-effect consequence. 

What more obvious, powerful, district-by-district demonstration is necessary to affirm that Robert was incorrect in his judgment--a judgment left, as former Justice Stevens notes, to Congress, not the Court--that the days of political racism and voter suppression can now be declared as ended. 

Rather, straight to the present--the protections of the Voting Right Act are what kept this onslaught at bay. 

As Lithwick notes, Ginsburg, in her dissent, put it best: 

"Throwing out the law’s key protection for minority voters 'is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.'

Alito, less troubled by dissonance, is more than content, with the characteristic on-bench grousing discontent of the narrow pedant, to let it rain.

Scalia is beginning to lapse into the soft neurology of age-disinhibited neuronal discontrol of Holocaust comparisons to quite fully care.

And Thomas will see it as yet another step towards his grandfather's ever-and-all encompassing approach towards towards a perfect justice as practiced during his ineffably, pervasively justiciable childhood in Pin Point, Georgia.

So: The Lochner Era of voting rights has again ushered itself onto the stage.

Apres, le deluge.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Weinernado: What To Do When You Are A Narcissistic, Compulsive, Violently Rotating Column of Air

In a town where sexual indiscretions are the equivalent of shark attacks in Amity Island--everyone knows that there are sharks just offshore, but, again and again, somehow cannot prevent themselves from straying back onto the beach and letting their legs dangle below the surface in murky waters--we are now fully immersed the sequel to Weiner 1: The Selfie.

It is bigger, longer and seems unlikely to be uncut by a timeline of apologies and declarations of fidelity.

Rather, Weiner 2 has exploded with a sweeping chaotic storm of indignation and innuendo; shoes being fetishized while others drop loudly to the public stage; sadly ridiculous,  hopefully dubious aliases and alchemical attempts to transform utter dissimulation into demonstrations of forthright, bona fide "I told you there was more" candor; pristinely contrite photo spreads in the prevailing organs of public mythology that are concurrent with the blurred avatars and awkward, unkempt, libidinous bravado, discovered in the far corners of early morning chat rooms, powerfully absorbed by the suctioning vortex of gossip's rising stars and then blasted across the national landscape, raining fragments of "hard deletes", previous "public rehabilitations", and "health care rants" that "were a huge turn on"  across the ground.

Bar the doors and put plywood on the windows:

We are officially in the Weinernado.

We feed on such scandals almost as avidly, and with greater freedom and schadenfreude, as those in political life self-denyingly leap into the narcissistic gratifying waters despite the signs, marked along the shore, fading back into history, that such swims tend to end with brutal evisceration accompanied by opening-weekend  record box-office.

But as we feed, on popcorn, prurient interest and snark, our basic trust in those who are intended to act in our best interests is also, once again. undermined, as we again decide that, regardless of the side of the aisle or the nature of the facade, self-interest and self-deception will ultimately and relentlessly define the political character.

Despite this, over days, years, millennia, the political characters themselves remain touchingly, hopelessly blind, as we watch them with the disbelief of obvious expectation from the shore--"For god's sake, anyone can see the risk--and you think it's time for another swim?"-- until the latest voracious whirlwind reliably sweeps in, twisting them mercilessly, and once again drawing them under. 

In all seriousness.

The blind spots that result in these inescapable, seemingly compulsory political cyclones are clear, and should be posted, prioritized by degree of hubis, on the inner office door of every political aspirant:

You cannot claim to aspire to an office that will require you to adhere, as a fundamental characteristic central to your service, to a public trust, while at the same time demonstrating that in your statements to the public you are fundamentally untrustworthy.

You cannot portray yourself as one who, in the face of the inevitable enticements of office, will strive to act in the public interest, when you repeatedly demonstrate that, faced with the conflict between desire and duty, you will repeatedly, fulsomely, compulsively act in your own interest while telling the public otherwise.

You cannot pretend that your aspirations to service somehow cancel out your deceptions, as that equation tends to shift along the continuum of self-service towards ultimate conclusions that such deceptions do not actually matter--they become, easy, habitual, dominant, part of the fabric of not merely of private, but of public thought and behavior, until absolute deception has corrupted absolutely.

Foremost, you need to know the primary reasons why you actually aspire to high office.  No amount of self-deceiving examples of rectitude, of self-justifying supposed high minded behavior can remove this primary intent on either side of the aisle.  And no amount of self-serving denial that it will somehow be different for you is worth endangering the public trust.

It's best that you know this.

And actually deal with the factors, desires, and behaviors that you so avidly hide from yourself and others.

Before you run for office, and these actual motivations begin to rain down upon your life, and upon the public trust, and you are pulled, like so many before you, into the eternal swirling vortex that you, like they, somehow believed that your singular, impervious self could somehow avoid.