Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the May 27 Wikipedia page.
*The NYT’s op-ed, “Who can rein in the Supreme Court?” (notice that they didn’t use the incorrect “reign in”), diagnoses the problem, which we all know about, and offers a solution:
Since a conservative supermajority took control of the court in 2020, it has blown through the guardrails courts are expected to observe — showing little respect for longstanding precedent, reaching out to decide bigger questions than it was asked to and relying on a secretive “shadow docket” to make hugely consequential rulings with no public explanation.:
The nine justices — unelected and employed for life — are shielded from the usual mechanisms of democratic accountability, and so they depend on a high level of public trust like no other institution of American government. Their failure to take the steps necessary to restore that trust, steps that are entirely within their control, is undermining their legitimacy as one of the country’s most vital institutions.
They also have no ethics code, and it shows. Finally, they are an “activist court”, a charge leveled at any court by its ideological opponents:
The Times’s Adam Liptak wrote last year in a review of recent legal scholarship that the Roberts court “has rapidly been accumulating power at the expense of every other part of the government,” arrogating to itself the authority to make policy decisions on issues, such as climate change, that had long been the province of Congress or executive agencies.
The solution: (my take)
Constitutional checks and balances give Congress the power to regulate some aspects of the court, like its size and jurisdiction. What they need to regulate is first, create and enforce an ethics code that gives clear guidance on when a judge should recuse herself. Second, the Court needs a “dedicated ethics officer, “akin to an inspector general for the court, empowered to investigate complaints, issue reports and create a body of precedent that justices can rely on.” But does this person have power?
Last and most difficult is the matter of enforcement. Even well-designed rules will not matter if the justices know that they will face no consequences for ignoring them. In the lower courts, judges who violate ethics rules are sanctioned by panels of appeals-court judges — their peers. That wouldn’t work in the Supreme Court, which sits at the top of the judicial branch.
Congress could but won’t impeach justices. So the “solution” is what’s above, which doesn’t really address their failure to abide by precedent or issuing decisions that seem outrageous. The ombudsman is the only route to that, and good luck with making that work. Nevertheless, the NYT seems optimistic.
Still, adopting these proposed elements — a code, an ethics officer, a system for investigating and reporting on unethical behavior — would provide a constant reminder to the justices that they work for the American people. That would help foster a culture of accountability and transparency for a small group of powerful officials who have long avoided both.
*Sports/gender news from Jez:
Science (and common sense) is beginning to prevail at last. British Cycling has just decided to protect women’s ability to compete by banning transwomen from competing in the female category. There will now be an open category for men and all those not “assigned female at birth”.Predictably, a transwoman cyclist has called the decision “a violent act” and called it “genocide” (which is pretty offensive to victims of actual genocides, of course).
You can find the new policy here. There are separate rules for “competitive” cycling (the elite events) and noncompetitive cycling (the “fun” or “friendly”events. I quote from the policy:
The Policy for Competitive Activity covers all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive events. It will see the implementation of an ‘Open’ category alongside a ‘Female’ category. This means that the current men’s category will be consolidated into the ‘Open’ category.
Transgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and those whose sex was assigned male at birth will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category. The ‘Female’ category will remain in place for those whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy. At this stage, they will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category only, and should ensure that they continue to adhere to the requirements of UK Anti-Doping. Those whose sex was assigned female at birth are also able to compete in the ‘Open’ category if they so wish.
This is a solution we’ve discussed before, and I think it’s a good one. Everybody gets to compete, and nobody’s stigmatized by being in an “other” category.
And the “noncompetitive category:
This includes our Breeze programme, a women-only community programme, which will continue to remain open and inclusive for transgender women and non-binary people.
Trans and non-binary people can also continue to participate in a broad range of British Cycling activities in line with their gender identities, including: club and coach-led activities, ability based race programmes (such as Go-Race events), community programmes, Talent Development Centres and non-competitive events such as sportives.
The policy is fair and “inclusive” in that anybody who wants to cycle can cycle, either competitively or noncompetitively. The people who object will be gender activists, particularly transgender women, who will be forced, in competitive events, to compete against members of their natal sex.
*Over at The Free Press, Nellie Bowles gives us her weekly and snarky summary of the news, this week called “TGIF: Cruising for a Bruising“. Here are three bits of nooz I’ll highlight (much of Nelie’s Nooz I’ve already posted about this week.
→ Tim Scott announces the normal way: The Senate’s sole black Republican, Tim Scott, also announced [his candidacy for President[ this week, which is surprising only because he seems like a happy person. He made the announcement on a stage in South Carolina, the state where his grandfather was born in 1921, dropped out of the fourth grade to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write. Two generations later, that’s the state Scott represents. NBC had the important question, with a reporter asking the new presidential contender: “As a single man, is there someone in your life? Is there time for a woman in your life right now?” All right, then.
→ The latest anti-science: J. Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, published a paper in Archives of Sexual Behavior focused on the parents of children experiencing rapid onset gender dysphoria. Shocker: activists got mad! Now the journal updated the piece to say “the publisher is currently investigating” and that some “supplementary information” was removed.
→ Professor’s scam interrupted: Amy Wisner, a professor at Michigan State University, had a really lovely scam going on. She required her 600 students to pay $99 to join “The Rebellion Committee,” a political advocacy group, during the spring 2023 semester. Turns out, Amy Wisner controlled the Rebellion Committee and then funneled that money wherever she pleased, namely to pro-choice advocacy. The dean apparently knew about this. Alliance Defending Freedom this week announced they are suing her. According to the lawsuit, this is what Wisner wrote on her own Facebook page: “The Rebellion community is a safe place to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the f–king ground. 100% of membership fees are donated to Planned Parenthood.” She also used funds to buy an RV to go on a Rebellion RV Tour, according to the suit.
. . . and one more for me that I hadn’t seen:
Bob Zimmer helmed University of Chicago for 15 years, making it a bastion of intellectual rigor and debate during a time when both those things were increasingly out of fashion. Read the WSJ editorial board on his life.
It’s a good obituary but not a great one, saying very little about the person himself, which every obituary must do. And of course they don’t mention ducks.
*In his latest Weekly Dish, “The resistance resists. . . . DeSantis!“, Andrew Sullivan casts a cold eye on the GOP’s new candidate:
And, to be fair, they weren’t wrong on the launch. Using Twitter for it was bizarre — horrid visuals, useless optics, on a platform loved by very online elites but alien to the vast majority of normie Americans DeSantis needs to reach. And although I once had some small hopes for Elon Musk’s Twitter, I sure don’t now. His platform is a shit-show, in all meanings of that word, and so was the DeSantis event. A shrewd pol would have kept Musk far away. Yet DeSantis effectively made his own announcement a hostage to the tech tyrant’s amour propre. Sad!
And if DeSantis wants to be the anti-woke candidate, he has to do better than telling us that DEI and SEL and ESG are just as bad as CRT. That’s an insane amount of insidery jargon. He has to do more than simply repeating the word “woke.” He has to appeal beyond the GOP base to the moderates and independents who still believe in individual freedom, merit, colorblind racial policy, personal responsibility and letting kids grow up shielded from progressive fanatics.
DeSantis has to engage the majority who are fine with trans adults but don’t believe young children can consent to sex changes and who think sports are sex-segregated for a good reason; those who support non-discrimination laws but don’t believe in hiring people because of their race and sex; those who want their kids taught the basics of math and reading — not that America is a white supremacist country and must be dismantled; those who oppose police abuse but not the police themselves; those who supported a short-term lockdown but not open-ended social death.
And DeSantis has to remind people, as Peggy Noonan puts it today, that “his calling card [is] that in a time of true national crisis — a historic pandemic, the sharp rise of woke ideology — he provided strong leadership under which his state thrived.”
Is DeSantis capable of this? Judging from Wednesday night, no. Perhaps this was because he’s in a primary campaign and thinks a narrow, online, wingnut focus is the safest bet. But key to his primary bid is his ability to convince Republican voters that he can reach beyond the Trump base in ways that Trump cannot. So far: not happening.
Nevertheless, Sullivan is rooting for DeSantis, which is weird but he gives his reasons:
And I find myself rooting for him against Trump not out of any affection or much admiration, but simply because I believe Biden is a lot weaker than many Democrats seem to think, and because my primary goal is preventing a second Trump term. I fear that Biden is fast becoming the Yuri Andropov of the Democratic Party — and can’t actually beat Trump next time.
Well, the polls don’t show that, at least those at FiveThirtyEight, which show a Biden/Trump contest pretty much even at this time, while Trump is a good thirty points ahead of DeSantis in a primary contest. I’ll vote for Biden, thank you, but Sully does add one bit of wisdom:
I also believe that the rapid corrosion of the core beliefs that sustain liberal democracy is the deepest underlying crisis we face. Wokeness is incompatible with a free society as we know it; it is in fact designed to destroy it, and replace it with identity-based collectivism. Biden will accelerate this, we now know. And Trump’s record in ensuring the cultural dominance and legitimacy of the far left is clear.
I know several people who would vote for Trump (or, perhaps, DeSantis) because they are one-issue voters: they hate wokeness. I’m no fan of it, either, but I’d rather have a somewhat woke Democratic administration than an right-wing authoritarian one.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s being the Princess again:
Hili: The wind has damaged my favorite dandelion seed ball.A: Find another.Hili: It will not be the same.
Hili: Wiatr uszkodził mój najładniejszy dmuchawiec.Ja: Znajdź inny.Hili: To nie będzie to samo.
. . . and a photo of Szaron:
From America’s Cultural Decline Into Idiocy:
From reader Jez via his daughter:
From reddit via Thomas. This was a narrow escape!
From Masih (retweeted by Richard Branson):
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) May 24, 2023
From Malcolm, a sweet cat brings food to its sick owner:
Cat offers her food to the sick owner…🐈🐾🤒❤️ pic.twitter.com/kd5EbDVmB9
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) May 25, 2023
From Barry, who says, “It took a while for them to become buddies.”
Tortoise vs cat.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/Olo8sBYzGp
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 21, 2023
From Peter, a man feeds a fish. I don’t know what kind of fish it is, nor whether that’s an oyster the man is cracking. The fish is certainly hungry, though! (Matthew also sent this.)
— Tansu YEĞEN (@TansuYegen) May 25, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a heartbreaking picture. Be sure to read all the text:
A heart-breaking moment saved in an SS picture of deportations of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It was taken 79 years ago, most likely in late May 1944.
A little child found a dandelion in the grass and is handing it or showing it to an older boy. All the people in… pic.twitter.com/PZgdAViVUq
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) May 26, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. Firstm, a cat flummoxed by a domino pile:
"What kind of sorcery is this" pic.twitter.com/Inl0mhAGAd
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) May 25, 2023
Read the linked essay to see how easily science is distorted by the media, and how credulous the public is. We need better science reporting.
This a beautifully argued essay illustrating the dangers of buying our own hype. Biology is just as awe inspiring when it doesn’t confirm our priors as when it does. And it’s not there to provide us with moral lessons. https://t.co/1hbVuvid1t
— Damon Lisch (@DamonLisch) May 25, 2023
Wondering where Melanie Jones has been in recent discussions? Here, being her usual thoughtful and reflective self. Pls take a moment to read. ‘Where the ‘Wood-Wide Web’ Narrative Went Wrong’ (btw this article was fact-checked) https://t.co/EV735lN1XJ
— Justine Karst (@karst_justine) May 25, 2023
An excerpt from the Undark essay:
The three of us have studied forest fungi for our whole careers, and even we were surprised by some of the more extraordinary claims surfacing in the media about the wood-wide web. Thinking we had missed something, we thoroughly reviewed 26 field studies, including several of our own, that looked at the role fungal networks play in resource transfer in forests. What we found shows how easily confirmation bias, unchecked claims, and credulous news reporting can, over time, distort research findings beyond recognition. It should serve as a cautionary tale for scientists and journalists alike.
This male’s genes have created a behavioral and morphological package that helps spread those genes!
A male Hooded Merganser duck in breeding plumage tries to woo a group of females nearby @ Huntley Meadows Wetlands, Virginia, USA. (2023-03-17) #wildlifephotography #TwitterNatureCommunity #BBCWildlifePOTD #ThePhotoHour #IndiAves #spring #ducks #breeding #birdphotography pic.twitter.com/JvwDFyVPt5
— Parameswaran Ponnudurai (@ParamClicks) March 24, 2023