Humanity Continues To Screw Itself and Others

From The Guardian:

The climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points, according to a major study.

It shows five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1 C (2 F) of global heating caused by humanity to date.

These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost.

At 1.5 C of heating, the minimum rise now expected, four of the five tipping points move from being possible to likely, the analysis said. Also at 1.5 C, an additional five tipping points become possible, including changes to vast northern forests and the loss of almost all mountain glaciers.

In total, the researchers found evidence for 16 tipping points, with the final six requiring global heating of at least 2 C to be triggered, according to the scientists’ estimations….

“The Earth may have left a ‘safe’ climate state beyond 1 C global warming,” the researchers concluded, with the whole of human civilisation having developed in temperatures below this level. Passing one tipping point is often likely to help trigger others, producing cascades. But this is still being studied and was not included, meaning the analysis may present the minimum danger.

Prof Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who was part of the study team, said: “The world is heading towards 2-3 C of global warming.

“This sets Earth on course to cross multiple dangerous tipping points that will be disastrous for people across the world. To maintain liveable conditions on Earth and enable stable societies, we must do everything possible to prevent crossing tipping points.”

Dr David Armstrong McKay at the University of Exeter, a lead author of the study, said: “It’s really worrying. There are grounds for grief, but there are also still grounds for hope.

“The study really underpins why the Paris agreement goal of 1.5 C is so important and must be fought for.”

“We’re not saying that, because we’re probably going to hit some tipping points, everything is lost and it’s game over. Every fraction of a degree that we stop beyond 1.5 C reduces the likelihood of hitting more tipping points.”

The analysis, published in the journal Science, assessed more than 200 previous studies on past tipping points, climate observations and modelling studies. A tipping point is when a temperature threshold is passed, leading to unstoppable change in a climate system, even if global heating ends….

Prof Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, a co-author of the analysis, said: “Since I first assessed tipping points in 2008, the list has grown and our assessment of the risk they pose has increased dramatically.

“Our new work provides compelling evidence that the world must radically accelerate decarbonising the economy. To achieve that, we need to trigger positive social tipping points.”

The Government Strikes Back in Florida

If our depraved former president (FPOTUS) ceased to breathe, the world would be a much better place.

However, in light of the sorry fact that FPOTUS is still breathing, the government did two things today. First, they filed a motion to stay (put on hold) the recent ruling by one of FPOTUS’s “judges” in Florida that interfered with the criminal investigation of FPOTUS’s theft of government documents. But the government limited this request to the 100 or so classified documents found by the FBI when they searched FPOTUS’s lair. The government pointed out that the former president has no right to control access to classified documents under any possible interpretation of the law. They also asked that the “special master” (or outside party the “judge  wants) not be allowed to review the classified documents in order to determine if they somehow belong to FPOTUS:

Specifically, the government seeks a stay to the extent the Order (1) enjoins the further review and use for criminal investigative purposes of records bearing classification markings that were recovered pursuant to a court-authorized search warrant and (2) requires the government to disclose those classified records to a special master for review. The government respectfully requests that the Court rule on this motion promptly. If the Court does not grant a stay by Thursday, September 15, the government intends to seek relief from the Eleventh Circuit (i.e. the higher level in the federal judiciary responsible for Florida, Georgia and Alabama).

The other thing the government did was to file an appeal with the Eleventh Circuit regarding the order for a special master to be appointed at all. The beauty of the appeal is that it allows other judges, some of whom are more competent and less corrupt, to get involved in FPOTUS’s stupid lawsuit; and the government is in no rush to have the appeal ruled on, assuming that a special master can’t be appointed until the Eleventh Circuit rules, which could be months from now.

It helps to have a Department of Justice that is, unlike the one FPOTUS was in charge of,  competent and not corrupt. If you’d like to see some of your tax dollars at work:

The United States’ Motion for a Partial Stay Pending Appeal

Declaration of Alan E. Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Whether It’s Nihilism or Semi-Fascism, They Cannot Be Reached

It’s not always easy to come up with the right word, especially when dealing with ideas like fascism and nihilism. I think “semi-fascist” is an excellent label for today’s Republican Party. I don’t think “nihilist” is, because it usually refers to the belief that moral and religious principles are meaningless, or that life is. Tom Nichols, a writer for The Atlantic, uses the word to describe the the MAGA crowd. Whatever he calls it, he understands that they are beyond the reach of normal politics:

Joe Biden’s “Soul of the Nation” address got at a cold and disquieting truth: The MAGA movement cannot be placated, reasoned with, or politically accommodated in any way. There is nothing its adherents want—and nothing anyone can give them—beyond chaos and political destruction.

Joe Biden’s address to the American people last week was, as I wrote at the time, necessary and right. The staging was bizarre, and the speech had some of the hallmarks of a group product that hadn’t been subjected to a final spackle-and-smooth by a chief writer. But Biden got one big thing right, and that one thing explains why D____ T____ and the MAGA World apologists are reacting with such fury. The president outed them as anti-American nihilists:

They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country … MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.

This, as Biden pointed out, is what makes the MAGA movement so dangerous. It has no functional compass and no set of actual preferences beyond a generalized resentment, a basket of gripes and grudges against others who the T____ists think are looking down upon them or living better lives than they are. It is a movement composed of people who are economically comfortable and middle-class, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living, and yet who seethe with a sense that they have been done dirt, screwed over, betrayed—and they are determined to get revenge.

Biden broke with tradition by saying what presidents are never supposed to say: He admitted that he was finally giving up on trying to accommodate a group of Americans, because he understands that they do not want to be accommodated. I know that some of my friends and colleagues believe that Biden, as president, must continue to reach out to MAGA voters because they are our neighbors and our fellow citizens…. But how do we reach those voters? These citizens do not want a discussion or a compromise. They don’t even want to “win,” in any traditional political sense of that word. They want to vent anger over their lives—their personal problems, their haunted sense of inferiority, and their fears about social status—on other Americans, as vehemently as possible, even to the point of violence.

How do any of us, and especially the president, engage with such a movement, when every discussion includes the belief that the only legitimate outcomes are ones in which the MAGA choice wins? Such an insistence is not civic or democratic in any way, and it is not amenable to resolution through the democratic process.

This, by the way, is why it was a mistake for Biden to raise issues such as abortion and privacy in his speech. Yes, the opportunists who will ride into political office on the bed of a pickup flying MAGA flags will attack these rights, but that is incidental to their real interest, which is power and the spoils it brings. Issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and contraception are really just hot buttons meant to rile up the voters. (MAGA World, as a movement, seems to have a kind of tabloid-television-style obsession with sex, which makes sense, as it is led by a tabloid star who literally bragged about the size of his penis on a GOP debate stage.)

For Biden even to mention something like abortion undermined the more important part of his speech, which is that MAGA is a movement that doesn’t believe in anything but violence, chaos, and power. Right-wing pundits have seized on that part of his speech because it was the only thing they could argue with; they know that trying to describe MAGA and T____ism with any consistency is pointless. Smaller government? More democracy? Power to “We the People”? Good luck with that: T____ just endorsed a [Republican] candidate for governor, Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts, by telling a crowd that Diehl will “rule your state with an iron fist, and he’ll do what has to be done.”

As a native son of the Commonwealth, I have no concerns that the Bay State is going to elect someone on D____ T____’s say-so. But T____’s authoritarian blather makes Biden’s point. The MAGA movement isn’t interested in politics, or policies, or compromises. It is interested in destruction and seeing others made as miserable as its followers are. MAGA is a movement of people who seem to be, in so many ways, deeply and profoundly unhappy, and suffering from an emptiness and anger deep in their spirit. There is no political solution for that. All Joe Biden did was finally say this obvious truth out loud.

It’s Not Enough To Show They’re Wrong

Federal judge Reed O’Connor, a gift to America from George W. Bush, is always a good bet to rule against Democratic policies. Right-wing lawyers seek him out for just this purpose. When this happened today, therefore, it shouldn’t have been a surprise:

A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday ruled that the government cannot require a Christian-owned company to cover HIV preventative medication because it violates their religious rights under federal law.

HIV PrEP — which is more than 90% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV — is recommended for adults who are at high risk of getting HIV, which includes [but is not limited to] men who have sex with other men.

The plaintiffs in the case — six individuals and two Christian-owned businesses, Braidwood Management and Kelley Orthodontics — had argued that they should not be mandated to offer coverage of HIV PrEP because they did not want to encourage “homosexual behavior.”

Earlier this week, of course, Judge Aileen Cannon, a gift from the previous president, broke new legal ground by interfering with a criminal investigation of a private citizen (i.e. the previous president) because being investigated for theft of highly sensitive government documents could hurt this private citizen’s reputation.

It isn’t enough to simply point out how bad — actually, how illegal — decisions like these are. Two writers for Slate have a much better idea:

If the last term at the Supreme Court and indeed Cannon’s baffling new order mean anything, they signify that in this new age of legal Calvinball, one side invents new “rules” and then the other scrambles to try to play by them. For every single legal thinker who read the Mar-a-Lago order to mean, quite correctly, that ex-presidents are above the law, furrowing your brow and pointing out its grievous errors only takes you halfway there. The better question is what, if anything, do you propose to do about it? The furrowing is cathartic, but it’s also not a plan.

If there were a principle that best embodies why progressives are losing ground so quickly—even as they are correct on the facts, and the law, and the zeitgeist—it must be this tendency to just keep on lawyering the other side’s bad law in the hopes that the lawyering itself will make all the bad faith and crooked law go away. But for those who are genuinely worried that democracy will rise or fall based on whether a case lands before [Republican] judges, merely explaining legal flaws in pointillist detail isn’t an answer. And soberly explaining that Cannon was wrong about most stuff but correct about two things is decidedly not an answer, either. You do not, under any circumstances, have to hand it to them.

It is not a stand-alone answer to point out that Cannon was a T____ pick—a member of the extremely not-neutral Federalist Society, seated after T____ lost the election—or that the former president’s lawyers forum-shopped in order to get this case in front of her. It also doesn’t help to note that Cannon herself acknowledged the proper venue to adjudicate the executive privilege claims made in this case (which are on their face absurd) is in fact in a different court in [the District of Columbia] where Cannon has no jurisdiction and where T____ did not make his case. Nor is it an answer to note that federal judges have literally no constitutional authority to stop an ongoing criminal investigation in its tracks, as Cannon purported to do, rendering her decision an imperious assault on the separation of powers. That, too, is an accurate description of the problem. Stating that, too, is not a solution.

Until and unless those of us who are shocked and horrified at lawless rulings by lawless [right-wing] judges are prepared to propose structural solutions, the aggregated effect of criticizing their rulings won’t be to restore the rule of law or even to restore public confidence in the rule of law. The aggregated effect will be just to confirm that we will all be living under the thumb of [these] lifetime-appointed hacks for many decades.

There are solutions out there for the problem of runaway judges. Expanding the courts—even just the lower courts—is the most bulletproof. Congress has periodically added seats to the federal judiciary from its inception to help judges keep up with ever-ballooning caseloads. Today’s litigants (who are not named [D____ T____]) often face years long court delays. The Judicial Conference, a nonpartisan government institution that develops administrative policies, has begged Congress to add seats to the lower courts. Some Republicans have supported the idea in recognition of the crisis facing our understaffed judiciary. Letting Joe Biden balance out far-right courts like the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—which will weigh Cannon’s ruling if the government appeals—would go a long way to tame the jurisprudence of T____ism  [and others]. When district court judges know their radical decisions will be overturned on appeal, they may be less likely to swing for the fences in the first place.

There are other worthy ideas too. Term limits for justices and lower court judges. Limits on courts’ jurisdiction to strike down democratically enacted laws. Modest reforms that restrict the Supreme Court’s ability to suppress voting rights before an election. Let’s hear them all. (God knows Biden’s court reform commission studied them extensively, to little end.)

But the chorus from the left, the middle, and the sane right that the lawlessness is lawless only affirms that we cannot ever escape this closed loop of [renegade] judges. Being really mad but doing nothing to change things is a terrible strategy for democracy and for public confidence in the courts. It creates the illusion that if we work really hard to debunk corrupt rulings, we can force [these] judges to see the light, or feel shame, or do something different. Meanwhile, the targets of our meticulous takedowns laugh at the pains we take to prove them wrong. They. Do. Not. Care.

We get it. Lawyers are trained to lawyer. But if you are lawyering within a system you believe to be broken, or immoral, or lawless, and you aren’t standing up with meaningful fixes for that system, you are, fundamentally, acceding to that lawlessness. It is a moral victory to point out the errors, but it’s also a tacit concession that the system is, in fact, legitimate, no matter how low it may go…..

There are too many things wrong with the Cannon order to litigate. And there are too many things wrong with [the right’s] judicial dominion of every part of our lives— for years to come—to litigate. So maybe it’s time to stop litigating them and start fixing them.

The Republican Party Today and Yesterday

The laughingstock Republican judge in Florida who’s interfering with the criminal investigation of her semi-fascist cult leader announced today that she wasn’t interested in the opinion of seven Republicans (former prosecutors and government officials) who said she should mind her own business:

The federal judge who issued an unusual Labor Day ruling appointing a special master to review thousands of files seized from the 45th president’s Mar-a-Lago estate issued a brief order on Tuesday refusing to allow several onetime GOP officials from filing an amicus brief in opposition to the special master appointment….

In their proposed brief, the lawyers and [former New Jersey governor] Whitman argued that there was “no legal basis” to appoint a special master in the case and, even if there was, that [FPOTUS] had no basis to claim executive privilege over the documents seized from his residence by the FBI.

Law professor Harry Litman, a former prosecutor and Department of Justice official, had this reaction:

I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen a court reject a proposed amicus brief, especially from eminent amici like the former GOP prosecutors [that judge] Cannon just refused to hear from. That’s now several bizarre and non-judicial moves, starting with her first announcement of intent to grant a Special Master.

The young judge, who may occupy a seat on the federal bench for another 40 years, offered no explanation for why she wouldn’t even allow the amicus brief to be filed.

Going back in time 66 years, we find a very different Republican Party:

Fb7qea2UcAA7E0r

Attend your union meetings???