Friday, June 26, 2015

Obergefell v. Hodges—The Supreme Court & Marriage Equality

A crowds in front of the Supreme Court on 28 April 2015, the day the Court heard oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges. PHOTO: Fabrizio di Piazza

Today, in a 5-to-4 decision written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteen Amendment's Equal Protection clause requires individual states to (1) issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in their own state and (2) recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by other states.

Read the Opinion below and at the Supreme Court's Web site. For more on the case, visit SCOTUSblog's Obergefell v. Hodges case page.

Jim Obergefell, named plaintiff in the marriage equality cases (Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases) before the Supreme Court this Term, speaks to media after the Court heard oral argument in Obergefell. To Mr Obergefell's immediate right are Mary Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier, attorneys who argued for Petitioners in the case. PHOTO: Fabrizio di Piazza

Thursday, June 25, 2015

King v. Burwell—The Supreme Court & Healthcare

Today, in a 6-to-3 decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., the Supreme Court ruled that the tax credit the Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes available to low income citizens who buy healthcare coverage purchased on insurance exchanges "established by the state" applies to exchanges established by the state and the federal government. This means ACA, a signature piece of the Obama Administration's legislative legacy, remains intact and a key element used to make healthcare more affordable is available not only in the 16 state exchanges but in the 34 exchanges the federal government established for the states who did not establish their own exchange.

Read the Opinion below and at the Supreme Court's Web site. For more on the case, visit SCOTUSblog's King v. Burwell case page.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Members of Congress Ask Court for Same-day Audio of Upcoming Opinion Announcements

Today, sixteen Members of Congress sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., "to urge the Court to provide the American people with access to live audio of its court proceedings for the first time."
People may disagree on the outcome of any given case, but we can all agree that the American public is better served when all three branches of our government are transparent and accessible... 
Over the course of the next few weeks, the Court will announce opinions in closely-watched cases that will impact the lives of millions of individuals and families across America. Accordingly, the Court should provide the American people the opportunity to hear in real tim the arguments and opinions that will shape our society for years to come.
Read the full letter below:

Edward Snowden & John Oliver Talk Surveillance & Communication

"I guess I never thought about
putting it in the context of your junk."

Edward Snowden

A bit slow on the uptake. But, on 5 April 2015, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver was devoted to the issue of government surveillance. The episode includes Mr Oliver's interview with Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden whose leaked a huge trove of government documents to journalists Barton Gellman, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

The interview starts at approximately 13:40.

The interview is worth watching for two reasons:

First, Mr Oliver is a fine interviewer who challenges Mr Snowden on, among other things, handing over data to persons (reporters) whose technical capacity does not match Mr Snowden's.

Second, Mr Oliver not only demonstrates that Americans have a...let's call it limited understanding of who Mr Snowden is and what he did. Mr Oliver suggests a useful way one might have thought to communicate the data to Americans to increase understanding and concern.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lost & Found: Mother Emanuel, Charleston, SC

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Charleston, SC

Cynthia Hurd
Susie Jackson
Ethel Lee Lance
Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney
Senior Pastor at Emanuel AME
Tywanza Sanders
Reverend Dr. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr.
Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Myra Thompson

"Witnesses said Mr. Roof sat with church members
for an hour and then started venting against
African-Americans and opened fire on the group."

The New York Times (18 June 2015)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Barack Obama & Marc Maron

President Barack Obama & Marc Maron
On Friday 19 June 2015, President Barack Obama recorded an interview with Marc Maron on his podcast, WTF With Marc Maron. The interview aired on Monday.

It is worth a listen.

The interview lasts almost an hour. It touches on a wide range of topics—the President's youth; some of his policy successes and failures; his view of the democratic process; and a bit about how the President functions as a private person while President.

Of course, the podcast begins with Mr Maron's stewing about the This & That of the interview.

The interview is of particular interest, value and success for two related reasons:

First, Mr Maron is a deft interviewer and an enthusiastic listener; he has no apparent political axe to grind, no particular political expertise (which is not to say he lacks the powers of observation); and he has a great interest in inviting his interviewees to explore their subject matter.

Second, the President responded with similar interest, enthusiasm and depth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Love You More, StewBeef

If you can get one of these guys to admit their mistakes, you may have a moment of self-satisfaction and catharsis. But, it doesn't mitigate the horrible consequences of those decisions—nor does it seem to stop the next guy from repeating those mistakes... 
So, people of the future, is it futile to try to pin these people down? 
Would it be easier just to give up and let Rumsfeld go—preferably on an ice floe into the North Atlantic? 
Because, no matter what evidence, no matter what arguments or historical fact you put in front of these people, they think learning curves are for pussies. And, even if they did learn, it wouldn't change the past or prevent the same mistakes in the future. Which is why I want to say to you, in the future, please, never stop trying anyway because there's always hope that one day they'll think just for a second. And that second will be enough time for us to shove these motherfuckers onto that ice floe.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Snowden's Post-Terror Generation

"President George W. Bush confers with staff via telephone from his office aboard
Air Force One during the flight from Sarasota to Barksdale Air Force Base."
(11 September 2001) Source: The National Archives

Edward Snowden took to the OpEd section of this morning's The New York Times on the second anniversary of the beginning of media publishing government secrets Mr Snowden took while he working for National Security Agency (NSA)—well, while working as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor for the NSA.

In The World Says No to Surveillance, Mr Snowden writes of "the emergence of a post-terror generation,"
In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.
This is the power of an informed public.