The whole state of Montana until Tuesday
You can’t hear it, but someone is lazily picking a banjo. The buffalo no longer roam, having decided one place is as good as another. The deer and the antelope play video games. Montana politics is sleepy, so sleepy. But then look what happens: a federal judge rules unconstitutional several elements of our campaign finance law. Suddenly, the dog sits up. As of Tuesday afternoon—three weeks before the primaries—political parties can contribute unlimited amounts to individual candidates. Judge Charles Lovell’s ruling seems to indicate that limits on donations from individuals and corporations are lifted as well, but Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl believes he must only revert to the limits in place before the ones Lovell struck down, in 1994.
Anyway, the last time this law was briefly overturned—for nine days in 2012—Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill accepted a $500,000 donation. Our easy slumber may have just been broken. I, for one, welcome the impending rush of cash into Montana politics. The 2016 campaign needs a shot of adrenaline. Why, just this week in the Missoula Independent, I wrote about how Bullock versus Gianforte has been a clash of tepid negatives. But the potential for political action committees of all kinds to
spend unlimited amounts of money say unlimited amounts of speech ensures a vigorous exchange of ideas. So pander to me, boys. I’m all napped up.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
The Supreme Court ruled on McCutcheon v. FEC this morning, and American campaign finance restrictions got a little bit looser. I know what you’re thinking: finally, money can play some kind of role in electoral politics. In a 5-4 decision, the court overturned the individual aggregate limit on contributions to political parties, so you no longer need content yourself with donating a scant $48,000 to candidates every two years and $74,600 to party committees. Individuals can now give the parties of their choice as much money as they damn well please. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it, “there is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”
A fun police dog
According to the Times, the police department of Rialto, California randomly required half of its patrol officers to wear body cameras each week of last year. During that period, officers used force 25 times, as opposed to 61 times during the previous year. Officers wearing cameras accounted for only eight uses of force. Knowing someone is (or will be) watching appears to make interactions between police and civilians less violent. I don’t want to draw any unfounded conclusions, but it’s possible that public scrutiny encourages law enforcement to adhere to its own rules. In unrelated news, a secret federal ruling from 2011 rebuked the NSA for repeatedly misrepresenting its domestic surveillance operations to the FISA courts.
Edith Windsor (left) and her wife, the late Thea Spyer
Maybe you heard about this, but the Supreme Court has overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and, in the process, given Edith Windsor $350,000. Windsor filed suit against the federal government in 2010, arguing that DOMA unconstitutionally deprived her of a spousal exemption from the estate tax upon the death of her wife, Thea Spyer. This morning, the court ruled that DOMA “is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” It also ruled that the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry lacked standing, effectively driving a stake through the heart of California’s Proposition 8.
Costa Rica uses a government-funded, single-payer health care system.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to be liked. I may not be very good at it, but in my interpersonal relations I try to pander to others as much as possible. Shame and sycophancy are my watchwords. The panicked need to feel that other people like me—even when I do not like them—exerts a serious check on my behavior. Imagine how free I would be if everyone hated me. If there were no hope that anyone who knew me could possibly like me, I could act however I pleased, the way death row inmates are always filling balloons with their own feces. If I were a public jerk instead of a secret asshole, I could live a life of rare liberty, saying and doing whatever I pleased with no regard for decency or the feelings of others. Today is Friday, and our link roundup contains a bunch of people like that.