Boof Kavanaugh writes the dissent

The lying bully who, one must assume, told his ultra-right wing nominee, during the nominee’s day long visit to the White House immediately prior to the hearing where Christine Blasey-Ford testified, to fucking man up and face down the women accusing him of serious impropriety if he wanted to be on the Supreme Court, showed his great compassion during the State of the Union by attacking states who have enacted laws to protect a woman’s right to abortion.  He described the monsters in New York who recently cheered in delight (according to POTUS) a new law protecting the horrific practice of ripping beautiful babies from their mother’s wombs moments before birth, depriving these living, feeling, beautiful babies of ever getting to share their love and their dreams with the world.

This is a well-worn right wing pander to religious Christians who believe abortion is murder, no matter what– even to save the life of the mother–  and vote en masse for politicians who speak this clear “Pro Life” language.   I doubt that any woman ever decides to have an abortion casually.   It is likely a wrenching decision each time, more so in a late term abortion when the decision must be excruciating.   Of the 1% of abortions that are late term, virtually all involve extreme danger to the life of the mother or fetal anomalies that ensure the newborn will not survive.   Yet, for the pandering partisan, the question is always starkly black and white, reduced to an immutable religious belief, the direct command of Jesus Christ himself.   God has spoken about the eternal souls of the unborn, who will spend eternity in hell unless born and baptized.   As for those precious souls after they’re born, well, you bitches are kind of on your own.   As the icon Ronald Reagan famously said “the right to life ends at birth.”  

The president advocated for these feeling, beautiful babies, as we’d want anyone to, in the abstract like that.  “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life,” somebody wrote for the president and he delivered the line to thunderous applause.   When the applause died down he added another nicely written line: “and let us reaffirm a fundamental truth, all children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”  As always with this president, there is the jarring and obvious disconnect.  The lives, rights and feelings of “illegal” children forcibly separated from raping, terrorist, drug smuggling parents at our southern border, well… that’s totally different, nothing innocent, cherishable or holy about those alien invaders.  

Though he didn’t mention those traumatized children of asylum seekers, for obvious reasons, his position is well known: those fucking animals need to be kept in cages, while good Christian fetuses must be protected from blood thirsty “humanists” at all costs (though until recently branding himself as a conservative Trump supported a woman’s right to choose, oddly enough).   The young alien children locked up in warehouses are just getting what they deserve.  Same for those little fucks in Yemen dying of preventable diseases and malnutrition — Saudis pay a lot of money for American weapons, BILLIONS, it creates millions of American jobs!  Same for poor kids here, they should have had the sense to be born to rich families!

The lying nominee, one Boof (“flatulence”) Kavanaugh, who artlessly equivocated about Rowe v. Wade being settled law, predictably voted yesterday to uphold a Louisiana law, almost identical to a Texas law held to be unconstitutional in 2016,  that would have made abortion all but unavailable to poor women in Louisiana (rich ones can always fly to a neighboring state or country where the procedure is legal and safe).   When the new voice of reason on the Supreme Court, corporatist Chief Justice John Roberts, joined the four non-Federalist Society endorsed justices in finding the anti-abortion law does not yet meet constitutional standards, Boof wrote the dissent.   Should be an interesting read.

I have many reasons for hating fucking Boof.   For one thing, he’s a prevaricator.  That is, a person who speaks falsely, a liar. a person who speaks so as to avoid the precise truth, a quibbler, an equivocator.   He engaged in cant, misdirection, cavil, ad hominem attacks, glaring silences as the clock ticked, partisan rants, tears.  He invented new definitions for things he was embarrassed about on his prep school yearbook page, like “boof” (the practice of imbibing alcohol through a tube placed in the rectum — or, as he defined it, flatulence) and “devil’s triangle” (sex involving two men and a woman, or, in his words, a drinking game involving three tiny shots of beer, you know, senator, like Pope, Donkey, Whore, or Tits and Two Dicks?).  He explained that claiming to have banged Renata (a signatory of the letter from affluent women attesting to his impeccable character)  was actually a reference to how proud and honored he’d been to have chastely danced with her once and been allowed to give her a kiss (she hotly denied this).  

And, sure, he quietly passed out from beer, just beer, like anybody does.  He remembers everything, he said confidently, 100%.   He was never a black-out drunk or had any kind of drinking problem.  Were you a black-out drunk, senator bitch?   My fucking wife is a Christian, OK?!!!

As for the traumatized woman who, with nothing whatsoever to gain and everything to lose (and who, along with her family, has paid a steep personal price), testified about his traumatizing behavior, well… she was just part of a calculated, orchestrated, well-financed Clinton-backed cabal of extremists who hate him because he loves God and his family and doesn’t believe any of that godless crap they preach.   As for the official Catholic publication in America removing their endorsement of him, or the similar American Bar Association position that, in light of these serious allegations, Boof needed to remove his name from nomination– George fucking Soros!

Boof Kavanaugh is the personification of pugnacious, whining, unaccountable privilege.  Just like the man who provocatively nominated him ahead of many equally qualified ultra-conservative candidates who were not also complete assholes.  Then, when multiple credible accusations about his character and judicial fitness were raised, the man who nominated him did the only thing he knows how to do: double down.  Boof then did the best he could to angrily convince the country, in a strikingly petulant and nonjudicial manner, that he is not exactly what he strongly appears to be.  He only had to convince a couple of Republican senators, actually, and he did “at least a good enough job” (as he said about his testimony before Soros and co. hired this liar for hire to smear his good name)  to get a narrow, party line nod.

It is more likely than not that a collegiate Boof drunkenly thrust his dick in a woman’s face at a party in Yale — the FBI never enquired or talked to the many witnesses who came forward to talk about the incident.   It seems probable that Boof and his friend Mark, another committed beer drinker, while in their elite prep school, locked a younger teenager in a room and groped her while drunkenly trying to remove her clothes.   He fell off her at one point and she made her escape, amid the uproarious laughter of her gleefully inebriated attackers.  His face drunkenly hovering over her’s and this laughter are indelibly imprinted on this now adult woman’s hippocampus.  Nobody who heard her testify believed that she was lying.   The only out was a lie about her being paid to spin a false story by those who hate our freedom.    Boof wrote the speech about that himself, laying out the vast partisan conspiracy against him, vicious people intent on destroying his life.

Boof writes the dissent in support of  the first anti-abortion law to come before him on the Supreme Court.   A woman has no rights to abortion in Louisiana because, blah blah blah.  The constitution says so.  So does Jesus Christ himself.   So do I.

Once our corrupt, lying president is out of office, however that comes about, his angry turd will remain on the bench of the Supreme Court for the rest of that young turd’s life.   What do we do about that?

The Usefulness of the Passive Voice

“The passive voice should be avoided,” we are told by those who use the thing they warn against to warn us of things.   The passive voice states things in a neutral sounding way — as if they just happened, not as if somebody affirmatively did the thing being passively described.   First year law school students are taught that there is only one situation in which it is desirable to use the passive voice, making an argument to defend a guilty client.   

If your client has without question done wrong, use the passive voice to describe the wrongdoing.  He stabbed somebody, and this is a fact you can’t argue away; to maintain your credibility as his defender you must admit it.  So use the passive voice, in passing, to admit this damaging fact while defending him.   Law students are instructed, in a case like this, to bury the unavoidable admission in the middle of a paragraph otherwise favorable to your client, and phrase it in the passive voice.   “…the victim was stabbed with my client’s knife…” reads much better than “admittedly, my client repeatedly stabbed the victim”.

The passive voice is used reflexively in such situations by ordinary citizens, it is ubiquitous in non-apologies.  It phrases a reality in a way that puts no emphasis on who did what, places no blame or burden on anyone for their actions.   Refer to the hurtful incident as “that thing that happened”, a misunderstanding, not something anyone did to anyone.   Shit happens, asshole!

Jeremy Scahill, in today’s Intercepted podcast, illustrating longtime US callousness about killing civilians anywhere, played a clip of anti-fascist Trump resister former Secretary of State Madeline Albright (then US Ambassador to the UN) talking about the dire US supported sanctions against Iraq.   The sanctions, started under recently lionized president George H.W. Bush and continued for 13 years by Bill Clinton and Bush II, until after the second U.S. invasion of Iraq, had disastrous effects on the people of Iraq, though they had little effect on the rulers and the wealthiest Iraqis.

Wikipedia:  High rates of malnutrition, lack of medical supplies, and diseases from lack of clean water were reported during sanctions.[27] In 2001, the chairman of the Iraqi Medical Association’s scientific committee sent a plea to the BMJ to help it raise awareness of the disastrous effects the sanctions were having on the Iraqi healthcare system.[28]   

It appears undisputed that per capita income of Iraqis fell by more than 80% during the first few years of sanctions, and that most Iraqis were rationed 1,000 calories of food a day, good for weight loss, bad for overall health, particularly the health of growing children.  There was also a high incidence of diarrhea in children, never a good indicator of a child’s prospects. [1]

In answer to Lesley Stahl’s “loaded” question about the sanctions on a May 12, 1996 segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes (a question that used the passive voice) then Ambassador Albright gave a reply she quickly regretted giving on national TV. 

Stahl: We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, are… is the price worth it?

Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.

Of course, it turns out we were dealing with master propagandist Saddam Hussein who shamelessly, grossly inflated the child death totals.  It is likely that less than half that number of children died, probably less than a quarter of that inflated total, perhaps no more than a tenth of that horrific number.   Notice that the previous sentence nonchalantly uses the passive voice, the children simply “died”, nobody did anything to them.  

It is likely that as a result of the UN Security Council sanctions, backed by US military support, even less than fifty thousand Iraqi children were killed.   To put it more clearly: we probably killed far fewer than 50,000 Iraqi children, directly or indirectly.   Other estimates and three later UN studies put the number much, much lower, even suggesting that no additional children were killed by the crippling sanctions.  

Besides, everybody knows Saddam was a fucking liar!    Madeline Albright said she’d been ambushed by Lesley Stahl (who won an Emmy for that segment) and used to spread Saddam’s unconscionable propaganda.

Say the UN sanctions enforced by US military might had killed a mere thousand Iraqi babies.   That discounted price would be worth it, wouldn’t it?   Especially in light of the great benefits achieved by the sanctions.   Believe that and I’ll tell you who you voted for in 2016 (either candidate, actually).

I made the mistake of listening in on some of the president’s rambling, predictable State of the Union speech last night.   What shocked me was the continual roar of the crowd in Congress.   The roar was continuous, a wave as irresistible as the frenzied cheering at one of Trump’s exciting campaign rallies.   I was half-waiting for a chant of “Seig Heil!” to break out, because that’s how ecstatic the crowd sounded, rising to roar their approval of even the most dubious claims the practiced liar was making.  

Then the president modulated his voice into its most conciliatory sounding tones to announce the record number of women in the US workforce, including the record number of women who had been elected to Congress (most of them running hard against his policies and him personally).  The crowd of government officials went wild.  The newly elected women, most of them dressed in white and sitting in a bloc, rose to acknowledge the indisputable fact that women, who the president stated work in 58% of the new jobs created in America last year, now comprise nearly 23% of the federal legislature.

Then, as the women stood, it happened.  The chant began, as robustly as at the most passionate Trump rally in the shattered heart of Trump country.   Our elected officials began a full-throated chant of “USA! USA!” and I felt the vomit rising in my throat, had to shut that shit off.   As I walked I began to wonder how many Venezuelan children are going to have to die so that we can have freedom on the march again?

 

[1]     Wikipedia:     Shortly after the sanctions were imposed, the Iraqi government developed a system of free food rations consisting of 1000 calories per person/day or 40% of the daily requirements, on which an estimated 60% of the population relied for a vital part of their sustenance. With the introduction of the Oil-for-Food Programme in 1997, this situation gradually improved. In May 2000 a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) survey noted that almost half the children under 5 years suffered from diarrhoea, in a country where the population is marked by its youth, with 45% being under 14 years of age in 2000. Power shortages, lack of spare parts and insufficient technical know-how lead to the breakdown of many modern facilities.[29] The per capita income in Iraq dropped from $3510 in 1989 to $450 in 1996, heavily influenced by the rapid devaluation of the Iraqi dinar.[29]

Iraq had been one of the few countries in the Middle East that invested in women’s education. But this situation changed from the late eighties on with increasing militarisation and a declining economic situation. Consequently, the economic hardships and war casualties in the last decades have increased the number of women-headed households and working women.[29]

Random tale of the motherfuckers

Pat Wang
CEO Healthfirst
100 Church Street
19th floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Ms. Wang:

I am writing to call your attention to the negligence and unresponsiveness of Healthfirst’s third party pharmacy, CVS Caremark.  They sent me a new medication four times the strength of the prescribed dose they have been sending me for years.  They took no responsibility for their mistake, their customer service was unresponsive.

After two hours on the phone with them Monday, and their unkept promise to call me back immediately to resolve their potentially deadly error, they cited internal policies to your rep on Tuesday and refused to correct their serious error in dispensing a blood pressure lowering drug four times the strength of my prescription.  CVS at one point offered to file a grievance against Healthfirst, for reasons I still can’t fathom.

When I called the next day to get Healthfirst’s help with the pharmacy issue Nadine (who was wonderful, if powerless) called CVS.   CVS told Nadine that it is the patient’s sole responsibility to contact the doctor and have the doctor correct the erroneous prescription CVS recently requested from him (my current medication is apparently unavailable) and filled without checking that it was four times stronger than the dose of Irbesartan I have been taking for several years.

CVS mailed me a ninety day supply of a drug I never heard of, Losartan Potassium, in a 100 mg dose.  I called CVS, who, after forty minutes, mostly on hold, explained that the blood pressure medication Irbesartan is currently unavailable. They eventually pointed me to a letter in their packet explaining that they’d contacted my doctor informing him of its unavailability.  Their letter misstated my current dosage as 150 mg, twice the 75 mg. I take daily.  More than one CVS rep argued with me about my dosage, insisting it was 150 mg though they’ve been sending me 75 mg pills for several years. 

My doctor idiotically compounded CVS’s mistake by prescribing a 100 mg dose of the alternative, Losartan.  It turns out this dose is the equivalent of 300 mg (or four times) the 75 mg dose of Irbesartan I take.  Carelessly dispensing a much higher than prescribed dose of any drug is a serious, potentially lethal, mistake.   As far as I know taking a quadruple dose of blood pressure lowering medication can cause a sudden, radical drop in blood pressure, resulting in loss of consciousness, a fall and possible serious injury.   

The pharmacist at CVS at one point told me to just take the pills because my doctor had prescribed them.   Responding to my follow-up question she looked up the equivalence of the two drugs and saw that 100 mg of Losartan is four times the dose I take to control my borderline high blood pressure.  I verified this.  My doctor should have prescribed 25 mg of Losartan, CVS should have known this; it would have taken CVS thirty seconds to verify it as it did when I asked the pharmacist to compare the two drugs.

I am aware that there is no regulatory agency in New York State that hears complaints about errors, even potentially deadly ones, by medical corporations operating in New York State. Nadine took my “complaint” and regretted I could not receive a copy of it, or even know if anyone ever reads it.   She assured me that somebody would read her version of my complaint.  I told her I would bring the matter to your attention.  Your response is requested and will be appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Adolf

Corporate psychopathy pharmacy edition

Obama was a restrained, smart, charming, president, and a sell-out, the dictionary definition of a neoliberal [1].   His great legacy is a first, conservative step toward ensuring affordable healthcare (private health insurance, actually) for millions more Americans than had access before his Romneycare revolution took place.   Many millions of Americans are still not covered by Obama’s embattled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but record profits for the health insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries continue to be raked in.  

There’s always a trade-off, in democracy, as President Obama reminded us, between the Good and the Perfect.   The ACA is, we’ll agree, good, if graded on the curve in a nation whose laws are written by corporations, living people just like you and me.

Because my healthcare plan level is chosen for me, based on my fixed income 167% the poverty rate (I have a choice of private insurance company only, not plan), I receive my prescription drugs from a gigantic nationwide corporation called CVS Caremark.   The drugs are mailed to me from out of state, most recently from San Antonio, Texas.   I got an email recently telling me that my blood pressure medication, Irbesartan 75mg, was on its way to me by USPS.   The package arrived a week later.  It contained a ninety day supply of Losartan Potassium 100 mg.

I never heard of the drug.  Never ordered it.  Never received any notification about it.  The bottle of pills appeared to have been sent to me in error.

So I called CVS, the corporate person who sent me the drugs.   There was the ordinary hold time during which I was informed how important my business was and that all of their representatives were busy helping other customers and that my patience was appreciated.  About ten minutes in I got to tell my story to a human rep for the first time.  She offered to file an internal grievance against my insurance company, Healthfirst.  I declined her kind offer, explaining that Healthfirst had nothing to do with this CVS cockup.

She asked me to hold a few times, and each time I heard a loop of schlocky jazz blues in G, about six bars, over and over.   The first receptionist, who, obviously, couldn’t help me, asked if I’d please hold to speak to the pharmacy directly about my pharmaceutical question.   That hold was about fifteen minutes.  The rep checked in with me every two minutes, as she said she was required to do.  We became almost friendly after the first four or five times, she was always a welcome relief from the endless loop of shit muzak.   I eventually got a laugh out of her with a dry comment about groovin’ to the muzak loop.

I eventually get to tell the story a second time to someone named Joe at the pharmacy.   At this point I am about thirty-five minutes into the call and almost done.  Or so I fondly believed.  I tell Joe the story again, ask him why I’d been sent Losartan Potassium 100mg instead of Irbesartran 75mg.  He asks me to please hold for a moment and then gets more information, as the loop plays again, over and over.  

Joe informs me there has been a recall on Irbesartan and they tried to get the pills in a higher dose, which I could have cut in half, but that dosage too was out of stock. He wasn’t sure why the Losartan Potassium 100 mg. got mailed to me, could I please hold?

The muzak loop in G turned out to be impossible to override, so I put the phone on speaker.  On this higher level of customer care there was apparently no rule that the reps had to check in every two minutes.  Ten minutes passed grooving to the idiotic loop.  

Joe eventually came back on to tell me that my doctor, whose name was on the paperwork from CVS, had prescribed Losartan, five days ago.   I asked if the 100 mg. of Losartan was equivalent to 75 mg. of Irbesartan, the dose I have been taking for several years.   He told me my dose of Irbesartan is 150 mg.   I told him I was reading from the label of the current bottle of Irbesartan 75 mg., and the bottle before that one.   He asked me to hold while he got the pharmacist on the line.

“They told me you were the pharmacist,” I said.

“I am the pharmacy tech,” Joe explained.   Any questions related to pharmaceuticals could only be answered by the pharmacist, would I please hold.

Now I was an hour into the call and starting to be affected violently by the loop of muzak, those cliched jazzy licks being played over and over and over.   Ten minutes later the pharmacist, who almost immediately revealed herself to be an actual imbecile, picked up the phone.  Blessedly the muzak loop stopped, but I was entering an even worse loop.

I told the story for the third time, asking why I had not been notified about this new medication.   She asked me to hold, and a few minutes later, when she picked up, told me I should take the new pills my doctor had prescribed.  She claimed to have all the paperwork in front of her, told me she would send me a copy.   She told me, again, that my dose of Irbesartan was 150 mg. (twice what I take) and that the new drug is very similar to the one I was taking and the dose was equivalent.  I explained to her again that my dose is 75 mg.  She told me that she was looking at the paper, that she would send me a copy.   

My phone is smart, if annoying.  It was counting the minutes.  I was now up to 70 minutes.  She told me that she was sorry for my confusion, and how long I’d been on the phone and that if I could hold for just one second, she’d get her “leader”, who’d be able to help me.

That one second hold lasted exactly ten minutes.   Her leader had told her that the problem was my doctor, not CVS.   While on hold I’d read the paperwork, six pages, arranged helter-skelter, the “cover letter” was the last page, tucked behind the Mail Service Invoice/Receipt with the credit card charge, page two of the personalized medical warnings for Losartan, followed by page one, which brought up numerous concerns about Losartan for me individually, followed by a generic sheet about setting up automatic refills and a generic Mail Service Order Form.   The last page was the cover letter which stated:

YOUR MEDICATION ISN’T AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME  

We can’t send your prescription for IRBESARTAN TAB 150MG because it’s not available at this time  

WE CONTACTED YOUR DOCTOR  

Your doctor told us to change your prescription to LOSARTAN TAB 100MG.

The pharmacist argued again about my dosage.  I asked her what 100 MG of Losartan was equivalent to in Irbesartan.   She told me Losartan comes in three strengths, 25 MG (equal to 75 MG Irbesartan)  50 MG (150 MG Irbesartan) and 100 MG (300 MG Irbesartan).   

I was only ninety minutes into this conversation and already starting to lose my patience.  I asked her to explain how a pharmacist can send a patient a pill that is four times the therapeutic dose he is taking.   She seemed insulted by the question, like she felt unfairly blamed for the corporation’s error.    She was oddly noncommittal, barely communicative.  

I began to raise my voice, telling her what would likely happen if I took a quadruple dose of a blood pressure lowering pill.   I would probably pass out, as I had once while briefly taking a double dose of irbesartan as part of my treatment for kidney disease.   She told me to stop yelling at her, she’d already apologized, and besides, it was my doctor’s fault, not CVS’s.  Then she asked me to hold for a second, she would get somebody who could help.

The second one second hold went on for almost fifteen minutes.  Someone named Irina picked up the phone.  I told Irina that CVS had negligently and without notification dispensed me a pill four times the dose of my prescription.   I informed her I’d already been on the phone for an hour and forty-five minutes.  I said I needed to get her assurance that CVS would get the correct prescription from my doctor tomorrow, overnight the pills to me and reverse the charges on my credit card.  We talked about this for a few moments, she told me she understood and then asked me if I wouldn’t mind, please, if she placed me on hold for just a moment while she spoke to her supervisor.

It was going on two hours, the timer on my phone read 1:59.  I told her it was not reasonable to ask me to hold again, when she was the fourth person I’d been forced to hold for in an already two hour phone call to resolve their error.  I gave her the thirty second version of why the corporate personality is psychopathic; interested only in gain to itself and deniability of all responsibility.  I told her I needed her assurance that CVS would honor my reasonable request to have the correct drug expedited to me and that I’d be on my way.  She told me unfortunately that she’d need to get her supervisor on the line, it would only take a few moments.  I convinced her to have this wizard call me back.  She promised I’d have a call within a very short time.  

Naturally, there was no call from anybody.   Good thing I’m getting medication for my slightly elevated blood pressure, eh?

 

[1] a neoliberal is a wealthy politician or donor who supports all socially liberal causes: nondiscrimination, a woman’s right to an abortion, sensible gun control, environmental regulations (within reason), equal pay for women, homosexual and transexual rights, the right to a public education, a social safety net, a merciful immigration policy, particularly for refugees fleeing violence, even affordable health care.   At the same time, neoliberals are financially conservative, corporatist, committed to preserving a lucrative, if unfair, status quo  protective of the financial services industry and the stockmarket-based casino of the “free market” economic structure as it exists.  

The road to hell is paved with the bones of these benevolent motherfuckers, since all of their good intentions are negated by their continual justification of war (very profitable, apparently)  and the brutal poverty that results from an economic order protective, above all else, of the liberties of the super-wealthy, the chosen elite who, in most cases, were the shrewd inheritors of vast fortunes.

Mind skittering, crablike, over the littered ocean floor

Learned a neat Django lick from Robin Nolan on youtube, a riff that uses several of the classic chord embellishments Django probably invented.  After re-reading a few pages of one of Charles Johnson’s books, and being struck by the line in his paragraph bio that he was, among other things, a cartoonist, I looked him up online. Johnson is a brilliant writer I’ve long admired, he’s admired by everyone else too, it emerges. Read The Middle Passage or Dreamer and you’ll see what I mean.   Read his biography on Wikipedia and you’ll say “no wonder the man writes like a genius.”   Who knew he started as a prolific young cartoonist who has been practicing martial arts and studying Eastern religions for the last fifty years, taking a few years to get a PhD in philosophy?

Earlier today I’d heard about the overturning, on Tenth Amendment grounds (states retain all rights not enumerated for the federal government), of the 1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act, the federal government’s first attempt to regulate child labor by invoking its powers under the Commerce Clause.   Since the product of child labor goes into the stream of interstate commerce, the law signed by Woodrow Wilson stated, federal law overrules any state state law that allows employment of any child younger than fourteen, or working someone between fourteen and sixteen for more than eight hours a day, nor can employers start the child’s working day before six a.m. or end it after seven p.m. [1]  The law went into effect September 1, 1917 and was in effect for nine months (nice irony there in the law lasting the gestation period for producing a new child laborer) before the Supreme Court struck it down in Hammer v. Dagenhart.  

That case was brought by the Roland Dagenhart, father of two Dagenhart kids who worked with him in a North Carolina cotton mill, six days a week from sunrise til ten p.m.    Roland stood to lose a lot of income if his young children were not allowed to work with him.    The Supreme Court, in 1918, agreed, on multiple grounds, that the Child Labor Act was repugnant to the Constitution.  

Oliver Wendell Holmes dissented, and his view would carry the day more than twenty years later when Hammer v. Dagenhart was overruled (paving the way for federal intervention in civil rights cases using the Commerce Clause).    After all his legal arguments, Holmes added (according the Wikipedia):

“But if there is any matter upon which civilized countries have agreed – it is the evil of premature and excessive child labor.”

Civilized countries, oh boy, there we go again!   We can’t torture, we can’t make six year-olds work all day, and into the night, to help support their families, we can’t use poison gas in warfare any more, we can’t decide who will, and who won’t use our public bathrooms, can’t lynch uppity, guilty troublemakers who threaten the peace by offending our morals, we can’t even use the damned n-word anymore!   Hand me my MAGA hat, boy, there’s work to be done!

My mind skitters and I see the worried faces of several people, over dinner last night, furrowing their brows over what they see as the certainty of another four years of Trumpocracy after the 2020 election.   They saw their fear clearly as inevitable, Americans are credulous idiots, we elected him, nobody can beat him.  Look what he did to the rest of that busload of Republican nominees before the bully juggernaut steamrolled his way to the candidacy, then the presidency!   

Look at history, also.   We may learn little from it, but we sometimes take a good lesson here and there.   In 1918 the Supreme Court decided child labor was a matter for each state to rule on.   By 1941 there was a widely supported federal statute regulating child (and all) labor on the books for several years (my father, born in 1924, was 14 when the Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect) and a Supreme Court decision specifically overruling the 1918 ruling that employing seven year-olds for 16 hours a day was perfectly fine if an individual state said it was perfectly fine.  The new principle was that the federal government could intervene in state practices whenever interstate commerce was affected.  This nation still, every so often, uses law to fix a longstanding injustice or take down a major league asshole or a president who is a crook.

Things change, although the pendulum of history, which is supposed to swing regularly from reform to reaction and back, has been as stubborn as a French Bulldog straining toward reaction during most of my lifetime, but– looky here.   Slavery is today unthinkable in the USA (though it’s still practiced worldwide, apparently, and convict slave labor is a problem here too, for convicts), so is putting seven year olds to work sixty hours a week in factories (though it’s done in places seeking competitive advantage with the global psychopaths who pursue a morals-free bottom line).   Common things, things we take as given, change in the minds of people and nations.     The difficult part is persuading people of the right way, the civilized way, the enlightened way.   We have twelve years to figure it out, climate scientists tell us.  Hard work ahead.

I sit here every day, trying to talk sense to myself as I tap these keys.  It is sadder than a lot of things, I suppose, this writing out my thoughts for my own use, but also less sad than many things.   I don’t ponder how sad or happy it is, I think only of its value to me, its possible use to others.   The mind skitters, I pick up a calligraphy pen and write a few words, which delights my senses in another way.  I pick up the guitar, at the ready in a stand right by where I write.   Let me practice that Django riff again, get it under my hands, up to speed.  Play it in another position, another key, there you go.

How my life looks to others, I have little sense of that.   A mystery, no doubt.  Is a life really less mysterious if you go to work everyday, do a job, get money, buy things, spend $200 a seat to see a living miracle on Broadway, put another $100 on the card to have a nice dinner after that?  That too is a mystery, like much of this arrangement here.  

Is it any wonder, not doing those seemingly reasonable things, that I sit here today, mind skittering like a hopped up crab on the littered sea bed, vying with a million other hopped up crabs?

 

[1] The Keating-Owen Act of 1916 prohibited interstate commerce of any merchandise that had been made by children under the age of fourteen, or merchandise that had been made in factories where children between the ages of 14 and 16 worked for more than eight hours a day, worked overnight, or worked more than sixty hours a week