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Legitimacy.

It is what a government has when it largely represents the will of the majority of its people. Not the will of a small minority. And not imposing tyranny on that small minority either, it respects and protects the rights of that small minority. But we have a word for when a small minority rules the majority — that word is *tyranny* — and tyrannies are always illegitimate.

In the case of courts in English-speaking countries, they maintain their legitimacy via what’s known as “stare decisis”. That is, they based their opinions in court cases based upon a) current law, and b) previous opinions. This is not a new principle. It is one reason, for example, why the Catholic Church moves so slow — they have 1,500 years of precedents for papal opinions, and if a papal opinion doesn’t comply with that 1,500 years of precedent it can make only a tiny move towards a new position at a time, it can’t just throw out the old position altogether.

Stare decisis was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions for the past 150 years. Each new decision was couched in the language of previous decisions, or in the plain language of the law itself. This has at times caused issues when the Court recognized rights that were not currently respected, such as the right of black people to attend the same schools as white people, but even there the opinion was couched in Equal Protection language from prior court decisions. The Supreme Court didn’t come roaring out of 1945 intent upon guaranteeing equal rights to black people and simply ruling that black people had equal rights, it built decision after decision upon prior decision. When it decided “separate but equal is inherently unequal” it did not pull the decision out of its butt, it relied on 50 years of data showing that “separate but equal” never was plus language from previous Equal Protection court decisions showing that if the school segregation law was not treating citizens equally, it could not be law.

In this fashion the Supreme Court has typically been an anchor preventing radical change while providing for preservation of rights. The Court has at times gone off into evil territory — Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind — but eventually through applying the Constitution to court case after court case managed via stare decisis to come back from the dark side. Stare decisis gave legitimacy to the Court’s opinions and thus legitimacy to the notion of rule of law. And rule of law is important, because without rule of law, what you have is rule of gun, and rule of gun always ends up with the most ruthless and most murderous in charge.

Which is why it’s utter disaster for the United States that last week the Supreme Court basically threw stare decisis into the toilet in favor of a radical coup that remade American law from scratch based upon the ideological notions of the judges. By throwing out stare decisis in favor of imposing their ideology upon the nation, the Supreme Court has basically killed any legitimacy that it had. The Supreme Court fundamentally committed a right wing coup of the U.S. government last week, a coup setting five authoritarians in charge of the nation, and killing any respect that the majority of Americans have for the court.

Why is that important? It’s important because the Supreme Court relies upon other branches of government to do its work. The Supreme Court did not enforce the desegregation of Little Rock High School. The 101st Airborne did, via the intervention of the executive branch. So the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s concealed weapon law was illegal. New York’s concealed weapon law is very popular in New York State. What is the Supreme Court going to do when New York says f**k you, we’re going to continue enforcing our concealed weapon law? Joe Biden isn’t going to dispatch the 101st Airborne to free people imprisoned for violating New York’s concealed weapon law.

For those of you who have been in the military, there is an important and fundamental principle taught to every officer: Never issue a command that you know is going to be disobeyed. It destroys your legitimacy as an officer and makes it more likely that future commands are going to be disobeyed. This is what last week’s Supreme Court did — they issued a command that they know is going to be disobeyed. They issued that command because they *know* that it’s going to be disobeyed. The Supreme Court knowingly destroyed its own legitimacy. Why? Simple — the Supreme Court in the past has been a major defender of rights for minorities in America. By deliberately destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the right wing is betting that they via rule of gun can then take away rights from minorities that were previously granted by the Supreme Court.

In short, last week’s Supreme Court deliberately destroyed its own legitimacy in hopes that rule of gun rather than rule of law will become the norm in the United States. The right wing believes that because they are the most ruthless and most murderous people in America, they will come out on top when rule of law collapses because the judicial system has lost all legitimacy. Last week’s Supreme Court decisions weren’t an accidental destruction of the Court’s legitimacy — they were a deliberate destruction by people who want to burn it all down. And if you are not a white male Christian with conservative beliefs, you should be very, very worried right now.

— Badtux the “Time to get well armed, people” Penguin

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There are basically two classes of people in this world:
 
Workers, who create something that has value, and
 
Grifters, who grift off of the wealth of workers because they claim ownership of the wealth that workers create.
 
That’s pretty much it. We can use pretty names for the grifter class, like “investors” or “venture capitalists” or “landlords” or “executives” or whatever, but in the end they make their money by claiming ownership of stuff that the worker class created, not by themselves actually creating anything. It’s basically a scam. A *useful* scam in some ways, but still a scam.
 
– Badtux the Classy Penguin

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36.2% of American workers work for the 16,055 businesses that are categorized as “large” or “very large”.

Another 26.5% of American workers work for the 141,358 medium-sized businesses in America.

In short, 62.7% of Americans are basically serfs on someone else’s plantation, victims of oligopsony power where there are millions of sellers of labor and less than 160,000 buyers of labor. Oligopsony power insures that companies can extract maximum value from their workers while returning minimum value back to their workers in terms of wages and benefits, because there is not a free market in most kinds of labor — there are only a limited number of employers in any given market in any given city, and they all collude (they call it the “Chamber of Commerce”) to make sure that the uppity serfs don’t get any ideas about actually cooperating with each other in order to yank back more of the value that they produce down on the oligarch’s plantation.

How do they do this? First, by creating enemies other than the oligarchs – gosh, it’s not the oligarchs responsible for your wages declining, it’s THOSE people over there, you know, those people who AREN’T LIKE US, those people who maybe speak a different language, go to a different church, are BROWN?!

Secondly, by demonizing collective action and pushing “rugged individualism”, which says that if the oligarchs are ripping you off, it’s your own goddamn fault for not being as smart as them or you’d be ripping *them* off instead.

Third, by simply setting up the laws to make it *hard* to take collective action. It’s actually fucking illegal to respect a strike picket line, for example, it’s called a “sympathetic strike” and you can be forced at government gunpoint to cross that picket line to deliver supplies so that scabs can replace union workers. Yet through their “Chamber of Commerce” and their control of major political parties, the oligarchs take collective action every day.

But hey, don’t worry, be happy. Being a serf is just how it is, right? Serfin’ USA was even a top 40 hit song, for cryin’ out loud! Right? Right?!

– Badtux the Serfing Penguin

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What was interesting about life in Germany during WW2 was that until late 1943 when mass bombings of Germany began, life for the average German really didn’t change once WW2 started. Sure, everybody knew someone who’d been drafted and sent to the front, but you still got up, went to work, went to church, children played in the streets, grocery stores had food in them, etc. And yeah, “those” people had been taken away and put into work camps to build war goods, but so what, everybody knew “those” people weren’t any good anyhow, they were all criminals, so it was okay that Germany ran the biggest prison system on the face of the planet.

Then 1943 happened, with massive numbers of Germans killed on the Eastern front as the Soviets pushed back at German advances, and the beginning of mass bombings of German cities causing huge disruptions to daily life. Suddenly life became more desperate. Hellish, even. Support for starting new wars suddenly disappeared. People didn’t want to surrender, exactly, they were still patriotic Germans, but war was no longer a fun and happy thing for them.

The United States has been at war for 18 years now, and we’re still Germany in 1941. We’ll probably always be Germany in 1941 as long as we don’t have waves of bombers flying over us dropping bombs on our cities, because when war seems to have no cost other than full employment for our people, why *not* go to war?

Well, other than the fact that the last war we won was frickin’ seven decades ago, and we needed a huge help by the Soviet Union (which killed 3/4ths of the German military personnel killed during the war) to do it. But if victory isn’t your goal, well.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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Gilroy

Again, and again
the bullets fly
the bodies fall
the children die
the sellers of bullets count their coin.

I stare blankly
at the image so common
numb and sedated
as it repeats and repeats
Over and over
never to end.

For there is money to make
Money to spend
money for death
Death the one last freedom.

At night I dream
of dead children in the night
walking softly
in the dim moonlight
wounds showing
through rips in their clothes
where bullets tore
where bullets killed
They question softly
asking “Why?”
But the only reply
is the sound of coins.

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Julia Isabel Amparo Medina was 9 years old, presented a valid U.S. passport card to cross the border to go to school, and was detained by the Child Border Perverts because she gave “inconsistent information” when interrogated. She was detained for 36 hours as she was interrogated by multiple strangers who threatened her and lied to her. She had to be rescued by the Mexican embassy after CBP refused to release her to her mother. That’s right, an American had to be rescued from the Child Border Perverts by the Mexicans.

WTF? Apparently none of these Border Patrol agents ever had a sister or a 9 year old daughter of their own. Expecting a 9 year old to give consistent answers when being subjected to deliberately manipulative questioning and false statements from investigators is idiotic and indefensible. A 9 year old girl simply isn’t developmentally capable of handling that situation, period, and shouldn’t be saying *anything* to law enforcement — only their parent should be talking to law enforcement. This is disgusting, racist, and perverted. Great job, child abusers at the CBP, I bet you were stroking yourself in the bathroom afterwards too at that hot 9 year old action.

But hey, she’s *brown*, so that makes it okay. Right? Right?! GRR.

— Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

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The Internet and all the hardware and servers on the Internet as well as the computer you’re using to read this were created by hundreds of thousands of ordinary middle class engineers and programmers and installers and technicians who wrote the code, designed the computers and routers, and built and installed the hardware all the way out to where you’re typing this. Yet virtually none of these people own any of their work. It almost all belongs to the super-wealthy, because of the divine rights of kings. Or something.

Generations from now, people will look back upon our current gilded age with the same revulsion that people today have when they look back upon the days when kings could behead people just on whim and lived lives of luxury while their people starved in rags.

— Badtux the Democratic Socialist Penguin

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Over 8 months after being ordered to do so by a Federal judge, the Trump Administration says they have no plan to reunite children with their parents because it’d be “a burden”.

A burden. Reuniting children with their parents would be a burden.

This is sick, sick stuff. But this is what America is today. What was once The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is today the Land of the Baby Kidnappers and the Land of Cowards Scared Of Brown People From Central America.

For the inevitable who say “if you don’t like it, leave!” — nope. I can’t change the fact that there are a significant number of Americans who are, well, evil (and I use the word because there is no other word that can apply to a people who support things like this), but at least I can hang around and document the atrocities until it comes time for my ashes to be buried in the landfill. Perhaps the generation coming of age today will be braver and less venal. They could hardly be more cowardly and more venal.

— Badtux the Sickened Penguin

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The next 40 years

This is the main reason that Kavanaugh had to be confirmed immediately, before the Democrats got control of the Senate and could block apartheid supporters. The fact is that white people are becoming a minority within America. When that happens depends on who you ask, but it is happening, and will happen.

Given that, the only way that angry white males, of which Kavanaugh is one, can retain power is via apartheid — by taking away the vote from populations that, well, aren’t white. They dream of a return to the pre-Voting Rights Act segregated South, where black people were denied the vote by any number of means from poll taxes to lynchings, except nationwide and applied to non-whites across a broad spectrum. They really don’t have any choice. George W. Bush had made outreach to Hispanic populations, but Donald Trump has done nationwide what the California Republican Party did two decades ago — via racist acts against Hispanic populations, especially by kidnapping and losing children at the border in order to punish parents, they’ve lost the Hispanic vote for a generation.

The thing about apartheid, however, is that it is not a long time stable situation when it’s the majority of an entire nation that is being suppressed. South Africa and Rhodesia found that out the hard way, they managed to keep their non-white populations suppressed, but the violence needed to do in the face of guerilla warfare by the majority resulted in international repulsion and eventual collapse of their economies and the army of suppression that was funded by their economies. But our angry white male leaders think they have the answer to that — our current cradle to grave police state that tracks everybody from birth to death will allow them to take out the leaders of any opposition with ease, while also being used to remove information about them from the Internet so that angry mobs that wish to hang them from the nearest lamp posts won’t know where to find them.

But of course police states aren’t stable either. They can be maintained for a long time, but only at the expense of collapsing the economy and the impoverishment of the nation, because smart people don’t like police states. Smart people flee police states, or tuck their heads down and refuse to do the sort of entrepreneurship and innovation needed for an economy to thrive for fear that they might attract police state attention. But perhaps the angry white males view being on top of an impoverished failed state is preferable to being ruled by non-whites.

Given how many guns there are in the United States, I am not seeing any way that this situation does not result in bloodshed. Apartheid worked in the American South only because those being suppressed were a minority in the nation as a whole. But I cannot believe that the majority in states like California that are already “majority-minority” will sit by idle while their brethren elsewhere are being suppressed. Either there will be bloody military suppression of resistance, or secession followed by war. All I know is that a hard rain’s gonna fall.

— Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

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By 2040 or so, because most young Americans (and immigrants) are migrating to the few large metropolitan areas in states where jobs are plentiful, 70 percent of Americans will live in 15 states. Meaning 30 percent of the population will choose 70% of the senators. And the 30% minority choosing 70% of the Senate will be older, whiter, more rural, more male than the 70% majority who are only getting to vote for 30% of the Senators.

I do not see how the United States is going to survive this. Not as a democracy, anyhow. We have a name for a nation where 30% of the population rules the other 70% of the population. That name is *not* democracy or even republic. That name is “tyranny”.

Americans have thus far shown a remarkable tolerance for living in a police state, as long as that police state is primarily targeting brown people. (For details of this police state, read Radley Balko’s columns in Reason and the Washington Post). But once 30% of the population is using police state powers to impose their rule upon 70% of the population, they may find that the tolerance of Americans is limited. I don’t see a good outcome from that end state. At least, not an outcome that is nonviolent.

– Badtux the Demographics Penguin

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