It’s the end of the work week and, at sundown, the beginning of cat shabbos, for it’s Friday July 14, 2023. It’s also National Grand Marnier Day, an excellent tipple for a liqueur, and appropriate for Bastille Day. Here’s a Grand Marnier soufflé, the special dessert at Joséphine Chez Dumonet, one of my favorite restaurants in Paris (background: an apple tart). Each dessert = one serving.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 14 Wikipedia page.
*Remember the Equal Rights Amendment, a palpably sensible amendment meant to enshrine equal rights for women in the Constitution? Well, it failed in 1982 because, under the pressure of odious people like Phyllis Schlafly, five states revoked their endorsements. It was never ratified by 3/4 of the states, as per the requirements. Now, according to the NYT, Democratic senators, led by Kirsten Gillibrand and Cori Bush, are trying to revive it. The tactic is Congressional action to say that the amendment was already approved—that the deadline was unconstitutional.
Democrats in Congress are making a fresh push for the nearly century-old Equal Rights Amendment to be enshrined in the Constitution, rallying around a creative legal theory in a bid to revive an amendment that would explicitly guarantee sex equality as a way to protect reproductive rights in post-Roe America.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Representative Cori Bush of Missouri introduced a joint resolution on Thursday stating that the measure has already been ratified and is enforceable as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The resolution states that the national archivist, who is responsible for the certification and publication of constitutional amendments, must immediately do so.
. . .While almost 80 percent of Americans supported adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in a 2020 Pew Research Center poll, there is little chance that the effort will draw the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate. But the Democrats’ push is their latest effort to spotlight G.O.P. opposition to social policy measures with broad voter approval, and to call attention to the party’s hostility to abortion rights, which hurt Republicans in the midterm elections.
“This is a political rather than a legal struggle,” said Laurence Tribe, the constitutional scholar and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. “It would succeed only in a different environment than we have. It’s not going to pass. The real question is what political message is being sent. In a political environment like this, you throw at the wall whatever you can.”
. . . This is Democrats’ second attempt this year to advance the Equal Rights Amendment; in April, Senate Republicans blocked a similar resolution that sought to remove an expired deadline for states to ratify the amendment. Only two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted for the resolution.
Now, Ms. Gillibrand and Ms. Bush are trying a different approach: They are simply ignoring the issue of the expired ratification deadline altogether and introducing a resolution that argues that the E.R.A. is already the law of the land.
. . .“If we acknowledge an unconstitutional deadline, a litany of other procedural hurdles will follow,” Ms. Bush, a founder of the E.R.A. caucus in the House, said at a news conference on Thursday, explaining the strategy. “We can’t let paperwork keep us out of the U.S. Constitution.”
At issue is the complex procedure for adding an amendment to the Constitution, which requires passage by both houses of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states, in this case, within a seven-year deadline.
The ERA did pass the threshold, but then five states rescinded their votes, and it was a dead issue. In some sense we don’t need an ERA, because women’s right have been protected, but the Dems think that if the ERA did pass, there might be a Constitutional basis to overturn the Dobbs deccision, as abortion might be considered a Constitutional right. Some legal scholars think this tactic (passing the ERA might work). I don’t think it will, but it was reprehensible to not ratify the ERA in the first place.
*OMG, the FDA has approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S. The Republicans, sensing a wave of impending sexual activity, must be appalled.
Health experts, citing the pill’s lengthy record of safety and effectiveness, have pushed for a nonprescription pill for years, but their campaign took on new urgency after the Supreme Court last year struck down the fundamental right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. Oral contraceptives are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the U.S.
. . .Opill is expected to be available over the counter in stores early in 2024, according to Perrigo. It will not have an age restriction. The suggested retail price is expected to be announced this fall. The FDA decision applies only to Opill, not to other birth control pills.
In a call with reporters, Frédérique Welgryn, global vice president for women’s health at Perrigo, said the company was committed to making Opill “affordable and accessible” to whomever needs it. She said Perrigo plans to offer financial assistance to people who qualify and hopes insurers will cover the drug, even though over-the-counter medications usually are not covered. Advocates repeatedly raised the issue of insurance coverage Thursday following the FDA action.
This is all good; there’s only one slight issue:
Under the Affordable Care Act, group health plans and insurance companies are required to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control, at no cost. But that applies to prescription products; typically, insurers do not cover OTC drugs. Women’s health advocates Thursday renewed their call for insurance companies to cover Opill without a prescription, and said the Biden administration and Congress should take steps to make that happen.
I’m sure that the Republicans won’t support this, as their vision of the aftermath is a bunch of young people fornicating like weasels everywhere.
*In what seems to be a tremendous war crime, the Russians are holding gazillions of Ukrainian civilians in Russian jails.
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are being detained across Russia and the Ukrainian territories it occupies, in centers ranging from brand-new wings in Russian prisons to clammy basements. Most have no status under Russian law.
And Russia is planning to hold possibly thousands more. A Russian government document obtained by The Associated Press dating to January outlined plans to create 25 new prison colonies and six other detention centers in occupied Ukraine by 2026.
In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in May allowing Russia to send people from territories with martial law, which includes all of occupied Ukraine, to those without, such as Russia. This makes it easier to deport Ukrainians who resist Russian occupation deep into Russia indefinitely, which has happened in multiple cases documented by the AP.
Many civilians are picked up for alleged transgressions as minor as speaking Ukrainian or simply being a young man in an occupied region, and are often held without charge. Others are charged as terrorists, combatants, or people who “resist the special military operation.” Hundreds are used for slave labor by Russia’s military, for digging trenches and other fortifications, as well as mass graves.
. . . Torture is routine, including repeated electrical shocks, beatings that crack skulls and fracture ribs, and simulated suffocation. Many former prisoners told the AP they witnessed deaths. A United Nations report from late June documented 77 summary executions of civilian captives and the death of one man due to torture.
Russia does not acknowledge holding civilians at all, let alone its reasons for doing so. But the prisoners serve as future bargaining chips in exchanges for Russian soldiers, and the U.N. has said there is evidence of civilians being used as human shields near the front lines.
The only upside of this, and it’s not much of one, is that those who take Ukrainian civilians prisoner, hold them in jail, and torture them, are guilty of war crimes. There’s nothing so immoral in this conflict that the Russians won’t do it.
Leslie Van Houten, a former Charles Manson follower and convicted murderer, was released from a California prison on Tuesday, a prison spokesperson told CNN.
Van Houten was released to parole supervision, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson Mary Xjimenez said. Van Houten will have a three-year maximum parole term with a parole discharge review occurring after one year, Xjimenez said.
*Below is a video of Glenn Loury and John McWhorter discussing the opprobrium they’ve received by being both beneficiaries of affirmative action as well as people who now oppose affirmative action. Are they “pulling the ladder up behind themselves.” Both of them vehemently deny that, give reasons why they insist on having their say, and, at the end, discuss the “hardship Olympics” that will ensue now that the Supreme Court has banned the use of race-based admissions in college. Students will compete with each other to show how much race-based hardship they overcame. (McWhorter predicts that that, too, will be declared unconstitutional when they show that Asian “hardship” doesn’t get you into college more than black “hardship.”
*A photo of Joe Biden stepping aboard Air Force one without socks has rekindled the Great Debate about whether you should wear socks in the summer. First, the photo:
That’s our PRESIDENT, and he just looks gross! But the debate rages on:
Days before this presidential sockgate, New York magazine’s recommendation site, the Strategist, ran an article in which its advice columnist Chris Black ruled firmly against no-shows—an extremely low-cut variety that tenuously hugs one’s toes and heel. “I want to be very clear. No-show socks are a crime,” Black wrote.
While it didn’t rise to the level of a continent-spanning political-style controversy, Black’s guidance enraged no-show defenders. “They were saying how stupid I am, how I don’t know anything,” said the columnist, who was still receiving feedback days after the story ran. “It hit some deeper chord.”
If last week proved anything, it’s that people have really strong opinions about socks.
Here’s the deciding factor for me:
Sock supporters see hygiene as a point in their favor. “If you wear shoes without socks, before long your shoes are going to stink really bad,” said Alan Wenker, 59, a consultant for a large accounting firm who lives in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minn. In his younger years, he would eschew socks with boat shoes, but eventually found he “didn’t particularly like it.” Today, he wears ankle-highs from Vermont’s Darn Tough.
To me, the only justifiable footwear that allows you to eschew socks are flip-flops, which can be easily washed. No odiferous footwear. As for those tiny socklets:
The loudest knock on no-show socks is that they aren’t actually invisible. As Black wrote in his article, “No matter how low cut, they peek out and reveal the wearer to be a nerd.”
Funny but true. My rule about socks and shorts is what I call the Clint Eastwood Rule. If Clint wouldn’t wear it, I won’t either (shorts are one example). That’s because he’s so cool. My one exception is flip flops, which I often wear in summer. I don’t think Clint would wear flip-floops.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is plumping for “second breakfast”:
Hili: Did I eat my breakfast?A: Yes.Hili: That should not prevent me from repeating this experience.
Hili: Czy ja już jadłam śniadanie?Ja: Tak.Hili: To nie powinno przeszkadzać, żeby powtórzyć to doświadczenie.
From the Cat House on the Kings:
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:
From Masih. What is “efaf”? This place defines it as “an indirect Quranic name for girls that means ‘chaste’, ‘virtuous’, ‘pure’, ‘morally excellent’, ‘modest’. It is derived from the AIN-F-F root which is used in a number of places in the Quran. Good for the woman who stomp on it!
The Islamic Republic regime named today “Hijab va Efaf” day. The words are meant to represent and propagate their old and out-of-date ethos. The actual effect? Many women are now protesting by going to work without hijabs dressed in more casual clothing. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/UOhLfL9P5Y
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 12, 2023
From Malcolm; sound up to hear the adorable footfalls:
Hedgehog tippy taps.. 😊
🎥 IG: rick_the_hedgehog pic.twitter.com/dPelBN0WR3
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 25, 2023
From Luana. Our Vice President explaining AI. “First of all, it’s two letters. . ”
VP HARRIS ON AI: "AI is kind of a fancy thing. First of all, it's two letters. It means 'Artificial Intelligence' but ultimately what it is is it's about machine learning and so the machine is taught and part of the issue here is what information is going into the machine…" pic.twitter.com/Qpcdc7Cxry
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) July 12, 2023
From Barry; a rational person pwns a creationist:
“All animals are exactly the same as they were millions of years ago,” he says. “Only the size has changed.”
Somewhere a chicken, the daughter of theropods, stirs in her sleep. She dreams of thunder that shook the fronds of Cretaceous ferns, and the taste of blood, and conquest. pic.twitter.com/TmeTLqXbFp
— Take That Darwin (@TakeThatDarwin) July 12, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a woman murdered at 33 for the crime of being Jewish:
14 July 1911 | A Czech Jewish woman, Gertruda Weissová, was born in Plzeň.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 14, 2023
Tweets from the polymathic Dr. Cobb. First: TRIGGER WARNING! Green tongue! Read more here.
If you enjoy recoiling from your phone with a strangled cry of horror I can strongly recommend the New England Journal of Medecine’s Twitter feed. https://t.co/7WOZukBcOk
— Tom Sutcliffe (@tds153) July 13, 2023
A 64-year-old man with current tobacco use presented with a 2-week history of tongue discoloration. On examination, the tongue had elongated filiform papillae and green discoloration. https://t.co/RPXVULjrIf
— NEJM (@NEJM) July 12, 2023
A good one:
— Dave Jones (@CleanPowerDave) July 12, 2023
What a fantastic beetle!
Believe it or not this very strange creature is a beetle. Last night's very warm temperatures brought it to my light sheet.
Imbil, Queensland. pic.twitter.com/DMXbax4aXd
— Ian McMillan (@icmcmi) December 3, 2019