Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The silence of the depressed

Notwithstanding today's post on the iPad launch regular readers may have noticed Rondam Ramblings has been pretty quiet lately. Frankly, it's because I don't like to write about depressing things, and lately that seems to be all there is.

There was an earthquake in Haiti. Need I say more?

Massachusetts, to honor the memory of the fallen Edward Kennedy, elected a Republican to fill his vacant senate seat, thereby extinguishing any hope of achieving the one thing that Kennedy most hoped to accomplish in his lifetime, namely, to reform the health care system in this country so that people can no longer be rendered bankrupt by falling ill.

The Supreme Court, in a stunning but wholly unsurprising display of hypocrisy (and arguably perjury) overturned 100 years of established law (to say nothing of common sense) to rule that corporations are people and are therefore entitled to the same Constitutional rights as actual human beings. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is hypocrisy because conservatives have been railing for years about "activist judged" legislating from the bench. It's perjury because at least two of the five justices who voted for this decision insisted under oath during their confirmation hearings that they believed in stare decisis. It's unsurprising because... OK, too much time spent stating the obvious. Time to move on.

And as if the Supreme Court wasn't enough, the ninth circuit threw out the civil lawsuit against AT&T for conducting warrantless wiretaps against U.S. citizens during the Bush Administration. The grounds for the dismissal was that the litigants didn't have standing to sue because too many other people might have been wiretapped along with them. Yes, you read that correctly. No, I did not extract that from some neo-Orwellian novel. This is really the world we are living in. Corporations are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution, but actual flesh-and-blood people are not.

I wish I were making this up or being hyperbolic, but I'm not. Democracy and freedom really are crumbling before our very eyes. And what are people paying attention to? The iPad. And Conan O'Brien leaving the Tonight Show.

So that's why I haven't been writing much. Just in case you were wondering.


Ilia Jerebtsov said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one to feel this way.

I'm not even from America, but the world really seems like a rather crappy place to live in lately.

Don Geddis said...

The Kennedy thing is ironic, yes. I enjoyed the way you wrote that paragraph.

On the wiretapping: I think you got the reason subtly wrong. From the article you linked to, the stated reason was that the litigants couldn't show that they had actually been illegally wiretapped. It was not that they were part of too big a group whose rights were infringed. It was that, while clearly the rights of some US citizens were infringed, the litigants had no direct evidence that they themselves were in that class of "harmed" citizens.

That seems like a classic "no standing" dismissal. You aren't allowed to sue on behalf of other people. You actually have to be the one who was harmed.

Ron said...

> I enjoyed the way you wrote that paragraph.

Thanks! :-)

> I think you got the reason subtly wrong.

I don't think so, though I must confess I haven't read the original ruling, and the article I linked to does make it sound that way. Here's a better link.