Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS)’

In the executive and judicial branches, Trump appointees will advance ever more severe conservative principles

July 20, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 20, 2018

When the history of Donald Trump’s presidential administration is written, a chapter will likely be devoted to Scott Pruitt’s feckless reign over the Environmental Protection Agency.

The former Oklahoma attorney general’s 17-month tenure at EPA was a microcosm of Trump’s chaotic rule. Disdain for science, contempt for the rule of law, indifference to sound policy-making, eagerness to appease business interests, hunger for personal gain — the Pruitt era featured all the hallmarks that have come to represent Trumpist governance.

Pruitt’s replacement will be Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who once served as an aide to Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the Senate’s most ardent climate skeptic. Wheeler will be hard-pressed to match Pruitt’s record of corruption and incompetence, which led to his resignation and distracted from his attempts to dismantle environmental regulations. It’s yet to be seen if Wheeler will be more effective at unraveling anti-pollution measures, although some pundits fear that he will surpass his former boss in this regard.

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What the likely official (non)response to Carolina Rising’s dubious activity says about accountability in politics

October 22, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 22, 2015

I wanted to revisit Robert Maguire’s investigation into Carolina Rising, which I mentioned earlier today in Recent Readings. The group is ostensibly a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit, but Maguire, writing for the Center for Responsive Politics, raises questions about whether it engaged in illegal campaign activity. Most of the organization’s $4.8 million was spent on advertisements in support of Thom Tillis, then the speaker of the state House of Representatives and now North Carolina’s junior U.S. senator.

Carolina Rising was founded by Dallas Woodhouse, a former head of the state chapter of the Koch brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity who was recently chosen to head the North Carolina Republican Party. (Woodhouse’s twin brother, Brad, is a prominent liberal; last year, their mom called C-SPAN during a segment featuring both siblings to say that she hoped they’d be able to abstain from political bickering over Christmas.)

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Our dysfunctional democracy: The Bushies’ win-at-all-costs mentality helped kill American unity after 9/11

September 18, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 18, 2015

Author’s note: I started to write about this topic in my inaugural Recent Readings and then realized that I had way too much material to pack into just a paragraph or three. Hence, the following post. MEM 

Heather Digby Parton, the indispensable Salon commentator, began her column on Tuesday by assessing American unity immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Back then, Parton writes, “The man who should have been president, Al Gore, famously said, ‘George W. Bush is my commander in chief.’” By wide margins, Congress passed the Patriot Act and authorized military action in both Afghanistan, which harbored the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, and Iraq, which had no connection to that tragedy and had not been actively developing weapons of mass destruction for years prior to the 2003 invasion.

Parton doesn’t delve into it, but, to my mind, it seems that very much the wrong set of people were in the White House in 2001. I write this not because I believe that there was a miscarriage of justice in the Florida elections process, and in the Supreme Court, although both of those things arguably happened.

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June 26, 2015: The Supreme Court extends marriage equality to all, and history is made

June 27, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 27, 2015

I don’t remember much about when or why I first started thinking seriously about gay marriage. I do know this, however: I used to be on the wrong side of history and justice.

I’m the kind of moderate who usually prefers to split the difference rather than award one or the other side an outright victory on any given issue. Gay marriage initially seemed to me to be frivolous — a pointless expansion, and perhaps even an outright redefinition, of marriage. If homosexuals could obtain civil unions that afforded them all the same legal rights as marriage, then why was there any need for gay marriage?

Granted, many states didn’t allow civil unions for homosexuals. This left life partners at the mercy of blood relatives and courts who were often hostile to their interests when one member of a couple was hospitalized or died. Still, civil unions were a reasonable intermediate step. If they could be implemented throughout the nation, I thought, it would moot the struggle over gay marriage.

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My trip to the eye doctor (part 2)

June 26, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 26, 2015

And now, I continue the story of my trip to the eye doctor

When the examination was complete, the doctor walked me over to the spectacle showroom. I heard him asking two assistants (opticians? I dunno) who was up; one replied that neither was. “You’re not the only one in this office with a sense of humor,” I said to the doctor as he left. We both smiled, as did the optician (technician?).

Looking at the frames on display, I was quickly drawn to a pair that closely resembled the ones I’m wearing now. I didn’t like the fact that they had Nike swooshes on the side, but after perusing two or three whole cases, they were the spectacles to which I was most drawn.

Some of the rectangular frames were attractive, as were some that lacked rims on the bottom of the lenses, but I was afraid they’d look goofy on me. And so I went with the first — really, the only — pair that I’d picked.

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‘Woman in Gold’ movingly portrays the quixotic quest by a World War II refugee and her attorney to correct a Nazi injustice

April 21, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 21, 2015

The new feature film Woman in Gold poignantly tells the true story of a World War II refugee and her lawyer who sue to recover a famous portrait of her aunt decades after it was confiscated by Nazis.

The woman at the heart of the story is Maria Altmann, the daughter of a prominent Austrian Jewish family. Simon Curtis and Alexi Kaye Campbell — it’s the second full-length movie feature directing credit for Curtis, following My Week with Marilyn and numerous TV movies, and the first writing credit of any kind for Campbell — intertwine scenes from Altmann’s earlier life in Vienna with those of Altmann and her attorney, new father Randy Schoenberg.

The titular woman in gold is Adele Bloch-Bauer, whom famed artist Gustav Klimt painted in 1907 in what became an iconic work. As we learn, even this apt and seemingly innocuous title has political implications. (Klimt, incidentally, also painted a second portrait of Adele as well as additional works for the Bloch-Bauers.) The legal battle begins in 1998 when, after the death of Maria’s older sister, Luise, the younger woman finds letters from the late 1940s that her sibling had exchanged with an Austrian lawyer in a futile attempt to recover stolen family property.

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