Biden suggests GOP would sunset Medicare, Social Security in 5 years; Kamau Bell looks at what CRT, “woke” mean for blacks or other marginalized groups

White House

Recently President Biden has been warning Americans that a GOP takeover of Congress in the 2022 elections could mean that Congress would sunset Social Security and Medicare and require it be re-authorized every five years or it would go away. Padems has a story here.

Factcheck disputes this claim,  which seems to be based on proposals by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), which refer to all or many government programs, in an 11-point plan, which sunsets all legislation every five years.

Part of the debate could invoke the debt ceiling, which keeps getting repeatedly challenged by the GOP (particularly in 2011 and 2013), to burn down the systems.  Remember those meetings between Obama and the “cigarette smoking man”, Ohio senator John Boehner. 

The House Budget office says that the debt ceiling is stable until early 2023, when there could be another fight (especially if the GOP wins the races).

Seriously, since Social Security seems to become more precarious, it’s pretty easy to imagine proposing means testing for existing recipients (a topic I often discussed on Blogger before I shut it down in January this year).  There is a 1960 SCOTUS ruling Flemming v Nestor (based on a very odd case) which maintains that social security benefits are a “welfare” benefit and are not considered legally earned like an annuity.  (For that matter, one of my annuities, from Nationwide, is doing very badly right now.)

 Evan Edinger (American, living now in the UK) explains how conflict of interest (a big issue in my own life) corrupts all three branches of the federal government. It’s “The major problem with the US that no one is talking about”.  He likes plurality voting, which is practices indirectly in Europe.

On CNN, W Kamau Bell, on his “United Shades of America”, on July 10, 2022, looks at the controversy over what “critical race theory” and “wokeness” really mean.  “Woke”, he says, for black people (and sometimes expanded for other marginalized groups) means “awake” and aware of the harm from others (whites) under ordinary circumstances (like “driving while black”).

For a subset of LGBTQ youth, (he would mean) it means awareness of the likelihood of being bullied for not being competitive according to traditional gender norms.

With education, most of all in earlier grades, the challenge is to present history accurately, as to what some of our ancestors really did, without indoctrinating students. School systems may go close to the edge with SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) curricula in lower grades. Some efforts have gone too far, dividing students into “oppressors and oppressed” and making it very personal.

CNN Pressroom announcement gives some details.

PBS has a balanced take:

PBS on teaching critical race theory

Yes, it is important to teach what really happened (as so well told by the book and movie “Gone with the Wind”).   It can be hard to do this in public schools. Especially lower grades, without “indoctrination”. Texas wants to use the euphemism “involuntary relocation” for slavery (as in the 1997 movie “Amistad”). 

GWTW analysis:

analysis of Gone with the Wind

Amistad trailer:

“Amistad” trailer

Extra pictures:

Remaining demonstrators from Women’s march July 9. My videos (YouTube shorts: first, second).

Protest signs demanding society support children who mothers were forced to carry

Also this one:

Qanon debunked sign from lingering protester

(Posted: Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)

Moore v. Harper: the case on ISL theory that could overturn “democracy”?

Brown mountains in NC, 2016-7

OK, get ready for Moore v. Harper.  And “Harper” is not the baseball slugger surrendered by the Washington Nationals to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Here is the link for the Supreme Court docket.    The case arises from a redistricting issue in North Carolina.

It is well to list all the major controversial cases which come up in 2022-2023, as from Axios (written up by Arianna Gonzalez) at this link.

The basic issue seems to be this.  There is a doctrine called “Independent State Legislature Doctrine” theory, (ISLD). That would maintain that a state legislature alone, even without any supervision of the state’s courts, have a freehand in making all election policy for the state, most specifically for redistricting or gerrymandering, but also in the conduct of elections in general (like absentee voting and the like) as became “controversial” in 2020.  A good legal writeup exists on a site called Verdict, by Vikram David Amar (read both parts).

Most of this has to do with the early articles of the Constitution using the word “legislature” by itself referring to state’s actions with respect to various powers including running elections.  A strictly textualist (not even originalist) interpretation might mean that state courts cannot intervene.  However, a more reasonable (even originalist) idea is that a state, as a semi-autonomous entity, must have a court system in place to enforce its own police powers and guarantee “rule of law” (and even equal protection).  Therefore it makes no sense to say that state courts could have no say in election-related matters. 

A secondary risk could exist.  Under the most extreme interpretations, a state legislature could overturn the popular vote for electors for that state (by refusing to certify the result) and simply choose the electors of the party it wanted.  In fact, if you read Article 2, nowhere does it say that a state must have a popular election for presidential electors. We thought they all wanted to!

A twitter user,  who says he is 82 and progressive, offered the 31-part thread scenario as to how the United States could wind up a Putin-style dictatorship after the 2024 election. 

I then looked up some mainstream analysis of the ISL problem.  The two most important seem to be these:

On June 30, an analysis in the New York Times by Adam Liptak and Nick Corasanti, link (paywall).

On June 30, Hansi Lo Wang offers a similar analysis for NPR, link.  

I also wanted to mention, the Texas attorney general has already signaled that he wants to challenge the overturning of the Texas sodomy law (21.06) next term, following Clarence Thomas’s invite, or at least will do so if the court rules his way next year (Washington Post story by Timothy Bella, June 29, paywall). The AG asserts he must enforce “state laws”.  Presumably he would need to get a conviction, very difficult under normal law enforcement except as an add-on to another offense.  The conviction would get appealed and might get to SCOTUS which could then revisit the concept of whether “privacy” is a fundamental right, or whether, if not, the state has a rational basis (not strict scrutiny) for the law.  Remember in the Georgia case Hardwick v. Bowers 1986 opinion (which also applied to heterosexuals) where affirming justice Berger wrote angrily “there is no such thing as a fundamental right to homosexual sodomy” – and his concurrence was largely ignored.  Today, the recent public health controversies over “monkeypox” (and the medical facts are still developing) along with lingering speculative theories from the “religious Right” during the 1980s over HIV (the failed “2138” law attempt), could create a rational basis argument if such a case really got heard before SCOTUS.  In New York City, private citizen and data science activist Michael Donnelly has been successfully pressuring the stare and CDC both to get the vaccines out more quickly.  (Donnelly broke the news on the Provincetown breakthrough outbreak of mild cases in vaccinated people in the summer or 2021).  We should note (with historical irony) that the male gay community as a whole had much less COVID than the public as a whole, partly because of solitary lifestyles, education levels, high vaccination rates, and possibly even the idea that some medications taken in the community may actually have (unproven) effects against the virus, a possibility worth exploring more seriously. 

Dallas Cedar Springs strip 2018-5

The case 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case may generate secondary controversy.  This concerns a web design company that refused to create special sites for same-sex weddings.  On the surface this sounds like Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado (again in Jared Polis’s state), which SCOTUS ruled (for the business) on very narrow grounds in 2018.  The new case might provide an entry into revisiting Obergefell, although that sounds like a stretch right now.  What catches my eye is that the plaintiff is a web designer (maybe comparable to a blogger like me).  What if a service said that, to have an account with us, you have to show willingness to contribute to organized social justice activism, like actively participate in anti-racism (as the Left defines it)?  In 2021 or so, the far Left was talking like it wanted to so stuff like this.  Both the far Left and far Right demand fealty, which leaves the moderates wondering why they have to fight now for free speech.  At some point, ideological zealots on both sides are stuck with the idea they need to attract enough loyal followers, by force or intimidation if necessary.

(Posted: Monday, July 4, 2022 at 11:30 AM by John W. Boushka)