Rachel Maddow, a bureaucratic mistake that the state of New Jersey failed to correct led to police pulling over a man, his pregnant wife and child in his BMW, and arresting him. The police jailed him for six days, and subjected him to two strip searches, even though what he was arrested for was failure to pay a traffic fine (which he had in fact paid, and had a certificate to prove it.) He is a black man. Albert Florence (pictured) sued the state over those strip searches, and today in the Supreme Court, he lost.
As the New York Times put it, in a 5-4 decision the Court ruled "that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband." This ruling appears to nullify laws in several states banning this practice, as well as international law.
(Update: comment on the decision from Andrew Sullivan.)
So now police and prison guards are given more of a free hand to abuse prisoners whose skin color--or eye color, or anything--they don't like. What's a citizen to do? Well, arm yourself. Carry a couple of guns everywhere and if somebody looks at you funny--and you're in the right state, at least before the Supreme Court spreads the Shoot First laws to everywhere else--you shoot the black/brown/hippie/federal-looking weirdo, but shoot to kill, cause you don't want a witness arguing against your "I felt threatened" defense.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the rise of a police state and the rise of armed anarchy really do go together, and that's what we're seeing. A police state that can spy, jail without trial, harrass and torture with the help of the Supreme Court. A police state that prevents people from voting, or takes away the power of the people they vote for. A police state that insists on committing acts of coercion and violence against women, their families, their doctors. At the same time as suspicious citizens are armed to the teeth, and let loose by the police--as long as they are on the same racial and social side.
This is one reading of what's going on: that this rush towards the Dark Ages is in response to massive fears, mostly by a minority of mostly older whites, and that those fears may partly be of various twisted signs of an apocalyptic future, but most directly right now, in reaction to our black President, and all that he symbolizes to them.
There are ways to parse each of these separate phenomena as a response to this or that--for example by taking Court opinions at face value. But by coincidence or by something more sweeping, they are adding up to this.
It's going way beyond partisan politics, although the news media is slow to admit it--they've got jobs to protect, and all that fat income from superpacs and campaigns. After noting how extremist such a step would be, on Monday President Obama talked about the human cost of the Supreme Court possibily overturning the Affordable Care Act:
“[T]his is not an abstract argument,” Obama added. "People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of pre-existing conditions. The law that is already in place gives 5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.
There are tens of thousands of adults with pre-existing conditions who have health care right now because of this law. Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a pre-existing condition.
That’s part of this law.
Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law. Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and they’re getting preventive care because of this law. That’s just the part that has already been implemented.
That doesn’t speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it is fully implemented in 2014. And I think it is important, and I think the American people understand, and I think the justices should understand that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to insure that people with pre-existing conditions can actually get health care. So there is not only an economic element to this but there is a human element to this."
Beginner's Mind - Finding a very nice hardback copy of Bruce Chatwin's last book in a bargain bin, a kind of miscellany of previously uncollected pieces called What Am I Doi...
4 days ago