Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 10th, 2021

Flowers by name

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Names impart a sense of knowledge. Anatol Rapoport recounts an anecdote in his book Operational Philosophy, one of the Big Books for me, about a woman who kept examining a an abstract painting of definite shapes, looking puzzled and mildly upset. She finally walked across the room to read the title, and her expression changed to satisfied relief, knowing at last what it was. The title? “Space Modulator.” Ah, yes; one of those. 🙂

Knowing the name of something can bring satisfaction if not knowledge, but if you do know what to call it, you have, as it were, a place to put it in your mind.

I just downloaded onto my iPhone an app by iNaturalist called “Seek,” which identifies plants, and I put it to work as I walked to the supermarket for some more fruit — tangerines, nectarines, plums, avocados, and a section of watermelon. Here’s what I checked out on the way:

First row, L to R: Maltese Cross (Silene chalcedonica), Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata), Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

Second row: Creeping Bellflower (Camppanula rapunculoides), Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

The flowers of the Himalayan Balsam are a little blurry because they were agitated by the breeze.

Of course, the scientific name does carry some knowledge, since it provides information relatives of the plant — for example, that Himalayan Balsam is a species of impatiens. And with Seek, one can read more about it. For example, I read about Himalayan Balsam, that it’s “a large annual plant native to the Himalayas. Via human introduction it is now present across much of the Northern Hemisphere and is considered an invasive species in some areas. (Source: Wikipedia)”

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

More evidence of journalism’s importance: Indian Country Today

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Mark Trahant has a brief history in Indian Country Today:

Forty years ago the Lakota Times rolled off the press in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, published by Tim Giago. That paper became Indian Country Today in 1992. Later it was the Indian Country Today Media Network, owned by the Oneida Indian Nation. It became a magazine and a daily website. Then in 2017 the publication was shuttered, at least temporarily, and the assets were given to the National Congress of American Indians. And by 2018 Indian Country Today was back in business with a tiny crew of three people.

This March ICT’s ownership changed again. Indian Country Today (or ICT4 as we call it internally) is now independent and owned by IndiJ Public Media, an Arizona not for profit corporation, led by Karen Michel, Ho-Chunk.

“While working as a reporter for the Rapid City Journal, I was bothered by the fact that although I had been born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I was seldom given an opportunity to do news stories about the people of the reservation,” wrote Giago in a 2005 article in Nieman Reports. “One editor told me that I would not be able to be objective in my reporting. I replied, ‘All of your reporters are white. Are they objective when covering the white community.’”

Giago said by the spring of 1981 he knew he had to start a newspaper at Pine Ridge. The first office was in a former beauty shop. “It seems strange now but when our newspaper hit the stands,” he wrote, “we became the only independently owned Indian weekly newspaper in America.”

The newspaper company was successful by several metrics. It went on to win hundreds of reporting awards from regional and Native press associations. And Giago said investigations from the newspaper “caused banks to be fined and rip-offs of the tribal government to be halted … Lakota Times proved that freedom of the press could not only succeed in Indian Country but that it can make a major difference in the way news is covered on the Indian reservations of America.”

Over the years the Lakota Times expanded its reach. “Even though we eventually had news coverage from all nine Indian reservations in South Dakota, we always considered them to be one community. All of us grew up in the same fashion, which meant we lived in poverty and shared many of the same difficulties,” Giago wrote.

Then in 1992, “to reflect its national circulation,” the Lakota Times became Indian Country Today. The national map was expanded with bureaus in Washington, D.C., Spokane and Albuquerque, as well as financial support from the Gannett Foundation (now the Freedom Forum) and The New York Times.

The paper’s offices moved to Rapid City in 1989 and by 1999 the circulation was reported as reaching 50,000 copies with a pass-along readership that topped six figures.

Three themes emerged in the early years of Lakota Times and Indian Country Today: An honest accounting of the boarding school experience (so relevant now); an exploration of the mascot issue and its impact on Native people; and a strident challenge to the work of the American Indian Movement. . .

Continue reading. There’s more, including photos of the front page of issues of the newspaper.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Media

Ronnie O’Sullivan v. Neil Robertson in 2019 Tour Championship

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This game finds the two tied at 9-9. I wanted to show The Wife how snooker matches are lighted — by using a blue light on the audience, with white light on the players and table, the game is very much foregrounded in the video with the audience muted into background. Plus it’s a good game.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 11:42 am

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored)

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Homes destroyed by a storm in New York state in 1962

The dangers and the cause of climate change have been well-known for decades. Now we are reaping what we sowed by our neglect. The Guardian has a lengthy edited extract from the book Our Biggest Experiment: An Epic History of the Climate Crisis, by Alice Bell. It begins:

In August 1974, the CIA produced a study on “climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems”. The diagnosis was dramatic. It warned of the emergence of a new era of weird weather, leading to political unrest and mass migration (which, in turn, would cause more unrest). The new era the agency imagined wasn’t necessarily one of hotter temperatures; the CIA had heard from scientists warning of global cooling as well as warming. But the direction in which the thermometer was travelling wasn’t their immediate concern; it was the political impact. They knew that the so-called “little ice age”, a series of cold snaps between, roughly, 1350 and 1850, had brought not only drought and famine, but also war – and so could these new climatic changes.

“The climate change began in 1960,” the report’s first page informs us, “but no one, including the climatologists, recognised it.” Crop failures in the Soviet Union and India in the early 1960s had been attributed to standard unlucky weather. The US shipped grain to India and the Soviets killed off livestock to eat, “and premier Nikita Khrushchev was quietly deposed”.

But, the report argued, the world ignored this warning, as the global population continued to grow and states made massive investments in energy, technology and medicine.

Meanwhile, the weird weather rolled on, shifting to a collection of west African countries just below the Sahara. People in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad “became the first victims of the climate change”, the report argued, but their suffering was masked by other struggles – or the richer parts of the world simply weren’t paying attention. As the effects of climate change started to spread to other parts of the world, the early 1970s saw reports of droughts, crop failures and floods from Burma, Pakistan, North Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Japan, Manila, Ecuador, USSR, China, India and the US. But few people seemed willing to see a pattern: “The headlines from around the world told a story still not fully understood or one we don’t want to face,” the report said.

This claim that no one was paying attention was not entirely fair. Some scientists had been talking about the issue for a while. It had been in newspapers and on television, and was even mentioned in a speech by US president Lyndon Johnson in 1965. A few months before the CIA report was issued, the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, had addressed the UN under a banner of applying science to “the problems that science has helped to create”, including his worry that the poorest nations were now threatened with “the possibility of climatic changes in the monsoon belt and perhaps throughout the world”.

Still, the report’s authors had a point: climate change wasn’t getting the attention it could have, and there was a lack of urgency in discussions. There was no large public outcry, nor did anyone seem to be trying to generate one.

Although initially prepared as a classified working paper, the report ended up in the New York Times a few years later. By this point, February 1977, the problem of burning fossil fuels was seen more through the lens of the domestic oil crisis rather than overseas famine. The climate crisis might still feel remote, the New York Times mused, but as Americans feel the difficulties of unusual weather combined with shortages of oil, perhaps this might unlock some change? The paper reported that both energy and climate experts shared the hope “that the current crisis is severe enough and close enough to home to encourage the interest and planning required to deal with these long-range issues before the problems get too much worse”.

And yet, if anything, debate about climate change in the last third of the 20th century would be characterised as much by delay as concern, not least because of something the political analysts at the CIA seem to have missed: fightback from the fossil fuel industries.

hen it came to constructing that delay, the spin doctors could find building materials readily available within the scientific community itself. In 1976, a young climate modeller named Stephen Schneider decided it was time for someone in the climate science community to make a splash. As a graduate student at Columbia University, Schneider wanted to find a research project that could make a difference. While hanging out at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he stumbled across a talk on climate models. He was inspired: “How exciting it was that you could actually simulate something as crazy as the Earth, and then pollute the model, and figure out what might happen – and have some influence on policy in a positive way,” he later recalled.

After years of headlines about droughts and famine, Schneider figured the time was right for a popular science book on the danger climate change could cause. The result was his 1976 book, The Genesis Strategy. Although he wanted to avoid positioning himself alongside either what he called the “prophets of doom” on one side or the “Pollyannas” on the other, he felt it was important to impart the gravity of climate change and catch people’s attention.

And attention it got, with a jacket endorsement from physicist Carl Sagan, reviews in the Washington Post and New York Times, and an invitation to appear on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. This rankled some of the old guard, who felt this just wasn’t the way to do science. Schneider’s book drew an especially scathing attack from Helmut Landsberg, who had been director of the Weather Bureau’s office of climatology, and was now a well-respected professor at the University of Maryland.

Landsberg reviewed the book for the American Geophysical Union, calling it a “wide-ranging potpourri of science, nature and politics”, and “multidisciplinary, as promised, but also very undisciplined”. Landsberg disliked what he saw as an activist spirit in Schneider, believing that climate scientists should stay out of the public spotlight, especially when it came to the uncertainties of climate modelling. He would only endanger the credibility of climatologists, Landsberg worried; much better to stay collecting data to iron out as many uncertainties as possible, only guardedly briefing politicians behind closed doors when absolutely needed. In an example of first-class scientific bitching, Landsberg concluded his review by noting that Schneider advocated scientists running for public office, and that perhaps he had better try that himself – but that if he did want to be a serious scientist, “one might suggest that he spend less time going to the large number of meetings and workshops that he seems to frequent” and join a scientific library.

In part, it was a generational clash. Schneider belonged to a younger, more rebellious cohort, happy to take science to the streets. In contrast, Landsberg had spent a career working carefully with government and the military, generally behind closed doors, and was scared that public involvement might disrupt the delicate balance of this relationship. What’s more, the cultural norms of scientific behaviour that expect a “good” scientist to be guarded and avoid anything that smells remotely of drama were deeply embedded – even when, like any deeply embedded cultural norm, they can skew the science. Landsberg was far from the only established meteorologist bristling at all this new attention given to climate change. Some felt uneasy about the drama, while others didn’t trust the new technologies, disciplines and approaches being used.

In the UK, the head of the Met Office, John Mason, called concern about climate change a “bandwagon” and set about trying to “debunk alarmist US views”. In 1977 he gave a public talk at the Royal Society of Arts, stressing that there were always fluctuations in climate, and that the recent droughts were not unprecedented.

He agreed that if we were to continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate we were, we might have 1C warming, which he thought was “significant”, in the next 50-100 years; but on the whole, he thought, the atmosphere was a system that would take whatever we threw at it. Plus, like many of his contemporaries, he figured we would all move over to nuclear power, anyway. Writing up the talk for Nature, John Gribbin described the overall message as “don’t panic”. He reassured readers there was no need to listen to “the prophets of doom”.

hange was coming, though, and it would be a combination of an establishment scientist and an activist that would kick it off . An obscure 1978 US Environmental Protection Agency report on coal ended up on the desk of Rafe Pomerance, a lobbyist at the DC offices of Friends of the Earth. It mentioned the “greenhouse effect”, noting that fossil fuels could have significant and damaging impacts on the atmosphere in the next few decades.

He asked around the office and someone handed him a recent newspaper article by a geophysicist called Gordon MacDonald. MacDonald was a high-ranking American scientist who had worked on weather modification in the 1960s as an advisor to Johnson. In 1968 he had written an essay called How to Wreck the Environment, imagining a future in which we had resolved threats of nuclear war but instead weaponised the weather. Since then he had watched people do this – not deliberately, as a means of war, but more carelessly, simply by continuing to burn fossil fuels.

More importantly, MacDonald was also a “Jason” – a member of a secret group of elite scientists who met regularly to give the government advice, outside of the public eye. The Jason group had met to discuss carbon dioxide and climate change in the summers of 1977 and 1978, and MacDonald had appeared on US TV to argue that the earth was warming.

You might imagine there was some culture clash between Pomerance, a Friends of the Earth lobbyist, and MacDonald, a secret military scientist, but they made a powerful team. They got a meeting with Frank Press, the president’s science advisor, who brought along the entire senior staff of the US Office of Science and Technology. After MacDonald outlined his case, Press said he would ask the former head of the meteorology department at MIT, Jule Charney, to look into it. If Charney said a climate apocalypse was coming, the president would act.

Charney summoned a team of scientists and officials, along with their families, to a large mansion at Woods Hole, on the south-western spur of Cape Cod. Charney’s brief was to assemble atmospheric scientists to check the Jasons’ report, and he invited two leading climate modellers to present the results of their more detailed, richer models: James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University in New York, and Syukuro Manabe of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab in Princeton.

The scientific proceedings were held in the old carriage house of the mansion, with the scientists on a rectangle of desks in the middle and political observers around the side. They dryly reviewed principles of atmospheric science and dialled in Hansen and Manabe. The two models offered slightly different warnings about the future, and in the end, Charney’s group decided to split the difference. They felt able to say with confidence that the Earth would warm by about 3C in the next century, plus or minus 50% (that is, we would see warming between 1.5C or 4C). In their report of November 1979, Science magazine declared: “Gloomsday predictions have no fault.”

y the mid-1970s, the biggest oil company in the world, Exxon, was starting to wonder if climate change might finally be about to arrive on the political agenda and start messing with its business model. Maybe it was the reference in the Kissinger speech, or Schneider’s appearance on the Tonight Show. Or maybe it was just that the year 2000 – the point after which scientists warned things were going to start to hurt – didn’t seem quite so far off.

In the summer of 1977, James Black, one of the top science advisors at Exxon, made a presentation on the greenhouse effect to the company’s most senior staff. This was a big deal: executives at that level would only want to know about science that would affect the bottom line. The same year, the company hired Edward David Jr to head up their research labs. He had learned about climate change while working as an advisor to Nixon. Under David, Exxon started to build a small research project on carbon dioxide. Small, at least, by Exxon standards – at $1m a year, it was a good chunk of cash, just not much compared with the $300m a year the company spent on research at large.

In December 1978, Henry Shaw, the scientist leading Exxon’s carbon dioxide research, wrote in a letter to David that Exxon “must develop a credible scientific team” one that can critically evaluate science that comes in on the topic, and “be able to carry bad news, if any, to the corporation”.

Exxon fitted out one of its largest supertankers with custom-made instruments to do ocean research. Exxon wanted to be taken seriously as a credible player, so wanted leading scientists on board, and was willing to ensure they had scientific freedom. Indeed, some of the work they undertook with oceanographer Taro Takahashi would be later used in a 2009 paper concluding that the oceans absorb only 20% of carbon dioxide emitted from human activities. This work earned Takahashi a Champion of the Earth prize from the UN.

In October 1982, David told a global warming conference financed by Exxon: “Few people doubt that the world has entered an energy transition, away from dependence upon fossil fuels and toward some mix of renewable resources that will not pose problems of CO2 accumulation.”

The only question, he said, was how fast this would happen. Maybe he really saw Exxon as about to lead the way on innovation to zero-carbon fuels, with his R&D lab at the centre of it. Or maybe the enormity of the challenge hadn’t really sunk in. Either way, by the mid-1980s the carbon dioxide research had largely dried up.

hen Ronald Reagan was elected in November 1980, he appointed lawyer James G Watt to run the Department of the Interior. Watt had headed a legal firm that fought to open public lands for drilling and mining, and already had a reputation for hating conservation projects, as a matter of policy and of faith. He once famously described environmentalism as “a leftwing cult dedicated to bringing down the type of government I believe in”. The head of the National Coal Association pronounced himself “deliriously happy” at the appointment, and corporate lobbyists started joking: “How much power does it take to stop a million environmentalists? One Watt.”

Watt didn’t close the EPA, as people initially feared he would, but he did . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. It’s a lengthy extract. And Anne Gorsuch, mentioned in the next paragraph, has a famous son, Neil, who is a current Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Starving cattle roam a cracked landscape in Mauritania in search of water, 1978.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 10:23 am

Why independent newspapers and investigative journalism are so important

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Note the timing of events in this report from ProPublica and The Post and Courier (Charleston SC). Joseph Cranney and Avery G. Wilks report:

A South Carolina magistrate has been removed as her county’s chief judge following a string of allegations that she abused her position and breached her duty to remain impartial toward the local sheriff’s department, which until recently was run by her husband.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty ousted Angel Underwood as Chester County’s chief magistrate on July 1.

Beatty, through a spokesperson, declined to answer questions for this article, so it’s not clear if his decision had anything to do with the allegations raised against Underwood.

The Post and Courier and ProPublica first reported in 2019 on a confidential ethics complaint about Underwood’s conflicts of interest. Records showed the judge had helped forward crime tips to sheriff’s deputies working for her husband. She also secretly helped a top deputy draft a complaint alleging that two fellow judges were unfairly blocking the sheriff’s requests for criminal warrants, the news organizations reported.

South Carolina court officials have yet to take action in the case, two years after it was filed.

Now, Underwood faces fresh allegations from Chester County’s new sheriff, who defeated Underwood’s husband in the 2020 election. When Chester voters went to the polls in November, Alex Underwood was facing federal corruption charges; he was found guilty this April.

In a grievance filed with court officials in March, obtained by The Post and Courier and ProPublica, new sheriff Max Dorsey said Angel Underwood likely harbored biases against him and his office, including against several deputies who went on to testify about her husband’s behavior in the April trial.

In an interview with a reporter, the sheriff said magistrates under Angel Underwood’s supervision had rejected what Dorsey considered to be legitimate requests for warrants.

In one case, a magistrate under Angel Underwood’s supervision denied an arrest warrant for a man who had published several Facebook posts calling for Chester police and sheriff’s deputies to be killed, records show. The sheriff contended the posts violated a state law that prohibits threats to public officials.

In another, a magistrate rejected a warrant request for a man who had allegedly trespassed on a couple’s property, exposed himself to the wife and then peed on her husband’s truck.

“I can’t think of another reason why they would be rejected” other than Angel Underwood’s influence, Dorsey told the newspaper.

At the time of those requests, as chief magistrate in Chester County, Angel Underwood was in charge of her fellow judges, though she held no formal authority to discipline or sanction them.

Twice a year, Beatty selects chief judges in every county to serve six-month terms. He reappointed Angel Underwood as Chester County’s chief twice while her 2019 ethics complaint was pending, telling The Post and Courier that the county had several new magistrates who were less experienced. Most recently, as part of his statewide selections, Beatty replaced Angel Underwood as chief with Judge Jeffrey Garis, a magistrate since 2019.

Officials with the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel, tasked with policing judges and lawyers, declined to discuss Angel Underwood’s case.

Angel Underwood, through her lawyer, also declined to answer questions and asked a reporter not to contact her again. Asked about Dorsey’s allegations against the judge, attorney I.S. Leevy Johnson said, “Our detailed response to the meritless complaint will be contained in our response that we will submit to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in a timely manner.” Though Dorsey’s complaint was filed March 15, records show disciplinary officials didn’t open a case until June 1, about three weeks after The Post and Courier began asking questions about the issue.

In the joint 2019 investigation, The Post and Courier and ProPublica revealed how South Carolina’s cloaked system of oversight for its state judges resulted in leniency and allowed allegations to remain buried — sometimes for years.

Bound by confidentiality protections that far exceed what South Carolina offers to other officials, the disciplinary office shields its work from the public. And unlike almost every other state, South Carolina has gone decades without publicly sanctioning any of the state’s powerful circuit judges, despite more than 1,000 complaints against them over two decades, the news organizations found.

Angel Underwood’s case also shows how judges in South Carolina’s lower courts escape public scrutiny. Magistrates, the state’s busiest judges, handle hundreds of thousands of low-level criminal and civil cases each year.

They do not have to be attorneys, a profession steeped in legal and ethical training. About three-quarters of the state’s magistrates, including Angel Underwood, lack a law license, the news organizations found.

Some South Carolina lawmakers have called for stricter prerequisites for holding those posts and more layers of scrutiny in the magistrate appointment process.

South Carolina, unlike any other state, allows state senators to handpick judges for their districts without any input from outside lawmakers. That means to keep her post, Angel Underwood has only needed the support of the lone senator in Chester County: state Sen. Mike Fanning.

Fanning, a Democrat, is a close ally of the Underwoods who has endorsed their runs for public office and regularly posts photos with the pair. In a recent interview with The Post and Courier, he defended Angel Underwood and insisted the judge has done nothing improper. He called her outstanding.

State Sen. Tom Davis, who has introduced legislation calling for reforms, said it’s critical for the state to have a speedier system of accountability when magistrates have their conduct called into question.

The “lack of responsiveness” from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel “or the tolerance for these things is indicative that still the magistrate system is looked at as being an outlier,” said Davis, a Republican. “That’s something that has to change.”

Davis filed his Magistrate Reform Act in December 2019, after reading the report by The Post and Courier and ProPublica. The bill has stalled in the state Senate. It has not even received a hearing.

Magistrates sit in judgment on cases . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, but even this much shows that South Carolina is a benighted backwater.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 9:56 am

Heavy on hollyhocks

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Yesterday’s little walk passed a stand of hollyhocks. I had a photo of the stand in the last set of pictures, but that did not really do justice to the flowers, so here’s a closer look along with a couple of other flowers that caught my eye.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life

How the US struggles toward political equality

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

On July 9, 1868, Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time, adapting our foundational document to construct a new nation without systematic Black enslavement.

In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution had prohibited slavery on the basis of race, but it did not prevent the establishment of a system in which Black Americans continued to be unequal. Backed by President Andrew Johnson, who had taken over the presidency after an actor had murdered President Abraham Lincoln, white southern Democrats had done their best to push their Black neighbors back into subservience. So long as southern states had abolished enslavement, repudiated Confederate debts, and nullified the ordinances of secession, Johnson was happy to readmit them to full standing in the Union, still led by the very men who had organized the Confederacy and made war on the United States.

Northern Republican lawmakers refused. There was no way they were going to rebuild southern society on the same blueprint as existed before the Civil War, especially since the upcoming 1870 census would count Black Americans as whole persons for the first time in the nation’s history, giving southern states more power in Congress and the Electoral College after the war than they had had before it. Having just fought a war to destroy the South’s ideology, they were not going to let it regrow in peacetime.

Congress rejected Johnson’s plan for Reconstruction.

But then congressmen had to come up with their own plan. After months of hearings and debate, they proposed amending the Constitution to settle the outstanding questions of the war. Chief among these was how to protect the rights of Black Americans in states where they could neither vote nor testify in court or sit on a jury to protect their own interests.

Congress’s solution was the Fourteenth Amendment.

It took on the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision declaring that Black men “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens.”

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The amendment also addressed the Dred Scott decision in another profound way. In 1857, southerners and Democrats who were adamantly opposed to federal power controlled the Supreme Court. They backed states’ rights. So the Dred Scott decision did more than read Black Americans out of our history; it dramatically circumscribed Congress’s power.

The Dred Scott decision declared that democracy was created at the state level, by those people in a state who were allowed to vote. In 1857, this meant white men, almost exclusively. If those people voted to do something widely unpopular—like adopting human enslavement, for example—they had the right to do so and Congress could not stop them. People like Abraham Lincoln pointed out that such domination by states would eventually mean that an unpopular minority could take over the national government, forcing their ideas on everyone else, but defenders of states’ rights stood firm.

And so, the Fourteenth Amendment gave the federal government the power to protect individuals even if their state legislatures had passed discriminatory laws. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” it said. And then it went on to say that “Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

The principles behind the Fourteenth Amendment were behind the 1870 creation of the Department of Justice, whose first job was to bring down the Ku Klux Klan terrorists in the South.

Those same principles took on profound national significance in the post–World War II era, when the Supreme Court began to use the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment aggressively to apply the protections in the Bill of Rights to the states. The civil rights decisions of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in public schools, and the Loving v Virginia decision permitting interracial marriage, come from this doctrine. Under it, the federal government took up the mantle of protecting the rights of individual Americans in the states from the whims of state legislatures.

Opponents of these new civil rights protections quickly began to object that such decisions were “legislating from the bench,” rather than permitting state legislatures to make their own laws. These opponents began to call for “originalism,” the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted only as the Framers had intended when they wrote it, an argument that focused on the creation of law at the state level. Famously, in 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, an originalist who had called for the rollback of the Supreme Court’s civil rights decisions, for a seat on that court.

Reacting to that nomination, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) recognized the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment to equality: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, Blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy….”

It’s a funny thing to write about the Fourteenth Amendment in the twenty-first century. I am a scholar of Reconstruction, and for me the Fourteenth Amendment conjures up images of late-1860s Washington, D.C., a place still plagued by malaria carried on mosquitoes from the Washington City Canal, where generals and congressmen worried about how to protect the Black men who had died in extraordinary numbers to defend the government while an accidental president pardoned Confederate generals and plotted to destroy the national system Abraham Lincoln had created.

It should feel very distant. And yet, while a bipartisan group of senators rejected Bork’s nomination in 1987, in 2021 the Supreme Court is dominated by originalists, and the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment seem terribly current.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 9:40 am

Declaration Grooming Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli and an Edwin Jagger clone on a Wolfman handle

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A friend pointed out this fragrance, and I like it a lot. Declaration Grooming now has the same fragrance in their wonderful Milksteak formulation, but this bison-tallow version of their soap is also excellent. With that Maggard Razors 22mm synthetic, I readily got a perfect lather. The razor is an Edwin Jagger clone (and for all I know, the head was sourced directly from EJ or Mühle), with Charcoal branding on the cap. It performed admirably, with three passes left my face smooth and ready for a splash of the aftershave, made by Chatillon Lux.

Now that‘s the way to start a weekend.

Written by Leisureguy

10 July 2021 at 9:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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