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How to Wage a "War on Women" By Proxy, Supreme Court Edition


The distance between Sullivan's reading and mine feels instructive of something. Specifically: of the way the Court's critics get set up, every time, to look like the unreasonable ones.

The thing is that the Court would of course never write the tl;dr version of the paragraph. They would never write, explicitly, that they find women's health or work to lack value, seriousness, or importance. Instead it's always by implication that you come to that result. It's not just in the majority decision in Hobby Lobby either. It also showed up in last week's McCullen case, where no one came right out and said they thought women ought to put the First Amendment before their privacy in choosing health care but that was the clear implication.

And then there was yesterday's much-less covered case of Harris v. Quinn, which was about home health care workers, the majority of whom are women of color. The Court denied public labor unions the right to collect fees from those home health care workers on whose behalf it negotiated higher wages. The collection of these fees from people who are not actually members of the union is controversial everywhere. All the same, it was hard to miss that one of the premises of the majority's opinion (which, like Hobby Lobby, was written by Justice Alito), is that it could safely distinguish the work these home health care aides do from the regular work of proper public employees whose union rights are more entrenched in the law. And as Sheila Bapat, an employment attorney, pointed out over at Talking Points Memo, that puts the Court in the position of more or less ratifying that the work these home health care workers do is less important than "ordinary" work.

Yet somehow, pointing out that the common thread in these cases is that women lose out is to be susceptible to claims that you are simply being emotional, that you don't get "the law." It's a pretty neat rhetorical place the conservatives on the Court have backed us into, because whenever you point out that the aggregate force of their opinions is to screw over women in this country as a general population, they can answer with an indulgent smile. "That's not what I wrote," you can imagine them saying, over and over again. They didn't really mean to wage any kind of "war on women." The law, as they see it, simply required it.



Animal rights campaigners outraged as Texas cheerleader poses alongside the animals she kills

Global animal lovers are up in arms over a teenage Texas girl's love of killing big African game, so much so that they're even demanding she be banned from posting pictures of herself smiling alongside her trophies online.

Nineteen-year-old Kendall Jones claims photos of dead hippos, elephants, lions and other beasts on Facebook are a testament to her hunting skills and dedication to game preservation.

But critics are appalled by the teen's beaming social media and are calling Kendall sick and depraved for killing the rare animals and boasting about it online.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2675807/Animal-lover-outrage-blonde-Texas-cheerleader-smiles-dozens-photos-alongside-rare-big-game-hunts-African-safaris.html

Sick person.

'Vampire' squirrel has world's fluffiest tail

Few scientists have ever seen the rare tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis), which hides in the hilly forests of Borneo, but it is an odd beast. It’s twice the size of most tree squirrels, and it reputedly has a taste for blood. Now, motion-controlled cameras have revealed another curious fact. The 35-centimeter-long rodent has the bushiest tail of any mammal compared with its body size.

"The species is really quite bizarre," says Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist with People and Nature Consulting International in Jakarta.

Meijaard and his wife, Rona Dennis, an independent remote sensing scientist, gathered a collection of photos of Rheithrosciurus, including ones from colleagues. All were snapped by motion-activated cameras. Their 15-year-old daughter Emily Mae Meijaard, a student at the British International School, Jakarta, analyzed the pictures, measuring the size of the tail and body of various individuals.

Rheithrosciurus's plush tail is 30% larger than the volume of the squirrel's body, the family reports this month in Taprobanica. "This squirrel takes everything to the extreme," says Melissa Hawkins, a mammalogist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who notes that the ears are particularly hairy as well. The closest contenders, whose tails are merely as bulky as their own bodies, include the common striped possum, which has a prehensile tail for climbing; the squirrel glider, which navigates with its tail as a rudder; and the ring-tailed cat, which uses its tail for balance during acrobatics in trees.



Supreme court upholds Little Caesar's right to feed christian employees to lions


WASHINGTON, DC–The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Roman-owned pizza chain Little Caesar’s was within its rights to place Christian employees in an arena and then unleash starved, vicious lions and lionesses upon them. The court cited religious freedom as its guiding principle. The 5-to-4 ruling opened the door to potentially thousands of Christian Little Caesar employees nationwide being immediately fed to the top predators of the African savannah.

Little Caesar’s argued that the persecution of Christians and the feeding of them to ravenous big cats was a “deeply held” religious belief, that the continued survival of the roughly 6,000 Christian employees, as well as the fact that they remained on company payroll, imposed a “substantial financial burden” on their religious liberty.

The 5 conservative Justices agreed. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr, the author of the majority opinion, wrote:

while it is debatable that some harm may come to any Christians fed to a lion or lioness, there is certainly demonstrable harm being done to these animals that are denied the tasty, nutrient-rich Christians that their diet requires

A Christian employee of the company, Ed Broyles, expressed dismay at the decision. “They’re gonna fuckin’ feed me to a motherfucking lion? But I only ever go to church on like Easter!”, he said, shaking visibly and sweating. “Jesus H Christ on a cracker, I’ve got a fucking family!”

Little Caesar owner and CEO, Little Caesar himself, applauded the ruling. When asked how soon his company would begin killing off its Christian employees he responded, “Carpe Diem.”


Toon: Losing our Religious Freedom

The Speed of Hypocrisy: How America Got Hooked on Legal Meth

A terrible number of words have been written about Breaking Bad, yet none have struck upon the irony at its core. For all of the cult hit’s vaunted fine-brush realism and sly cultural references, the show never even winked at the real world “blue” that grew up alongside it.

During the five years Heisenberg spent as a blue-meth cook, the nation experienced a nonfictional explosion in the manufacture and sale of sapphire pills and azure capsules containing amphetamine. This other “blue,” known by its trade names Adderall and Vyvanse, found its biggest market in classrooms like Walter White’s. As this blue speed is made and sold in anodyne corporate environments, the drama understandably focused on blue meth and its buyers, usually depicted as jittery tweakers picking at lesions and wearing rags on loan from the cannibal gangs of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

For presenting such a compelling one-sided cartoon of speed in America, Breaking Bad deserves recognition as a modern day Reefer Madness. That 1937 film immortalized the selective attentions of the first drug war, in which hysteria was stoked over Mexican marijuana but nothing was said about that era’s brisk drugstore trade in Benzedrine, the patented speed of the Great Depression.

To understand why the “edgy” AMC drama fits so snug in the Reefer Madness mold, it helps to see the show from the perspective of pharmaceutical executives, whom I suspect held some rowdy Breaking Bad viewing parties.

Because here’s the thing about hide-the-children caricatures of street speed and the class stigmas they weave: Without them, the needle starts to skip on pharma’s marketing lullabies about the safety and expanding therapeutic application of their purer product. Take away Goofus and Gallant-style contrasts between backwoods Crank Zombies and suburban Adderall Aspirationals, and suddenly we’re having some very awkward conversations about the periodic table, addiction, and the experience of getting high.



Get ready for an even bigger threat to Obamacare

Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act will shift a few blocks away to another Washington courtroom, where a far more fundamental challenge to Obamacare is about to be decided by the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Indeed, if Hobby Lobby will create complications for Obamacare, Halbig vs. Burwell could trigger a full cardiac arrest.

The Halbig case challenges the massive federal subsidies in the form of tax credits made available to people with financial need who enroll in the program. In crafting the act, Congress created incentives for states to set up health insurance exchanges and disincentives for them to opt out. The law, for example, made the subsidies available only to those enrolled in insurance plans through exchanges "established by the state."

But despite that carrot — and to the great surprise of the administration — some 34 states opted not to establish their own exchanges, leaving it to the federal government to do so. This left the White House with a dilemma: If only those enrollees in states that created exchanges were eligible for subsidies, a huge pool of people would be unable to afford coverage, and the entire program would be in danger of collapse.

Indeed, the Halbig plaintiffs — individuals and small businesses in six states that didn't establish state exchanges — objected that, without the tax credits, they could have claimed exemption from the individual mandate penalty because they would be deemed unable to pay for the coverage. If the courts agree with them, the costs would go up in all 34 states that didn't establish state exchanges, and the resulting exemptions could lead to a mass exodus from Obamacare.



The tea party would rather burn than submit to Washington


A friend of mine worked for a small-town newspaper years ago and had to write the weather report. The county fair was approaching, but the prediction was for rain. So the editors, fearing the wrath of local merchants, ordered my friend to change “rainy” to “sunny.” That was the newspaper’s policy. It has since been adopted by much of the Republican Party.

It is a stunning thing, when you think about it: GOP conservatives adopting a position of studied ignorance or, to put it more humorously, a version of what Chico Marx said in “Duck Soup”: “Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

My own eyes show rising ocean levels. They show the Arctic ice cap shrinking. They show massive beach erosion, homes toppling into the sea and meteorological records indicating steadily increasing temperatures. The Earth, our dear little planet, just had the hottest May on record.

My eyes read projections that are even more dire — drought, stifling heat, massive and more frequent storms, parts of coastal cities underwater and, in the American Southeast, an additional 11,000 to 36,000 people dying per year from the extreme heat. These and other ghoulish statistics are taken from a report on global warming funded by former treasury secretary Hank Paulson, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.



The 49-page Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling mentioned women just 13 times


The difference between the majority opinion of five of the court's men and the dissent of its three women (plus Justice Stephen Breyer) is instructive. The majority opinion is largely about the rights of corporations, employers and those with religious beliefs; the dissent is very much about women — about their health, the sums they spend to access care and the costs they pay when none is available.

The 49-page majority opinion mentions "women" or "woman" a mere 13 times (I've excluded footnotes and URLs here). It does not mention women's well-being once.

Ginsburg's dissent, at 35 pages, mentions women (singular or plural) 43 times, their well-being four times.

An opinion on this case, in short, looks very different when it's written by a woman. Of course, all three of the court's sitting female justices were appointed by Democratic presidents, and so their gender is not the only thing that unites them. But what's so compelling about Ginsburg's dissent is not merely the legal interpretations she reaches, but the facts she brings on board to get there.

the rest

Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest





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