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Under Color of Law: September

By October 4, 2023March 18th, 2024News

Read Shan’s take on various political and cultural happenings (and Tweets!) below.

Vivek Ramaswamy – why his buzzwords and hollow promises are more insidious than we think.

At first blush, Vivek Ramaswamy may seem only to be the 3.0 version of the GOP’s taste for poster-boy minority males – remember Dr. Ben Carson and the late Herman Cain? – but his rise to the Number Two contender for the Republican Presidential nomination reflects that he has learned well how to use disinformation about his own origin, poverty, history and anything else to get attention. That’s what is insidious about his success.

Let’s start with his cheerful frat-boy performance at the first Republican debate where he basked in the spotlight of being schooled on his lack of foreign policy credentials by former Governor of Louisiana and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. It didn’t matter to him that claiming he is the incarnation of Nixon and Kissinger’s realpolitik strategy is completely at odds with asserting independence from China as a principle when Nixon/Kissinger ended the decades of refusing to open diplomatic relations with China. Nor did it matter that Haley was using him as a punching bag to show off her foreign policy muscles. What mattered was that people were paying attention to him.
He also continued to push his “picking himself up the bootstraps” fake origin story in which he ignores growing up in privilege to blame the impoverished for being poor, rants against the liberal elite when he attended Ivy League schools, and fakes his “outsider” position against Wall Street when his campaign is supported by angel investor Peter Thiel. His belonging to the Brahmin caste might have provided him with an interesting pov on what privilege means in different society but instead he chose to attack Haley by using her birthname on his website – implying she is trying to white-wash her Indian identity by using the name “Nikki.”

Ramaswamy makes it plain that it doesn’t matter to him what he says so long as it gets him more attention. In this way he is the one true heir to Trump because he makes no pretense of seeking any principled policy agendas – like the House Chaos Caucus – he only wants attention because in today’s GOP attention is all that matters.

Baylor University Declares Title IX Sexual Harassment Prohibitions “Inconsistent” with Baylor’s Religious Values & the US Education Department Agrees -

In a bizarre decision, the U.S. Department of Education granted Baylor University an exemption from Title IX’s sexual harassment provision after Baylor – a private Baptist school – asked to dismiss discrimination complaints filed by LGBTQ+ students because the complaints were “inconsistent” with Baylor’s religious values. Baylor’s attitude toward Title IX values seems suspect historically.

In a 20215/2015 scandal involving sexual assault allegations against football players at the school, an investigation determined that under then President Ken Starr the university had failed to properly respond to sexual assault allegations for years. Starr – the prosecutor who pursued President Clinton for having had an affair with an intern – resigned as did football coach Art Briles.

Ironically, Baylor just settled a case brought by 15 sexual assault survivors who alleged that among other things campus officials had used the conduct code banning premarital sex as a threat to make the women not report the assaults and another settled lawsuit referred to Baylor as a “hunting ground for sexual predators.”

Guess Baylor wasn’t willing to test its religious defense in court.

Greg Abbott, Razor Wire in the River

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s mistreatment of migrants by bussing them to other cities has been decried as “despicable” but his actions in what amounts to “mining” the Rio Grande river with razor wire and massive floating buoys moves him closer to direct violence against migrants akin to reports of Texas Border Patrol agents shoving migrants back into the water as they try to climb out.

Although a federal district court enjoined Abbott’s actions, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped that action and has allowed Abbott to proceed despite strong legal arguments that Abbott’s action violate federal law. The Fifth Circuit action is unconscionable as it stays the district court’s humane rulings on the basis of their being an “emergency” – these judges need a wake-up call about what is an emergency – the only emergency is the violence and inhumanity directed against migrants.

The Supreme Court’s Fear of Cameras, how we can help

The Supreme Court’s ban on cameras in the courtroom, supported by Chief Justice John Roberts, has raised questions about whether it reflects a fear of transparency or a form of scopophobia – the fear of being watched. Justices like Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy opposed cameras, expressing concerns about media accuracy and the public’s ability to understand proceedings. However, this resistance to transparency has contributed to declining public confidence in the court, particularly as revelations about justices’ luxury trips and potential conflicts of interest have emerged. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the transparency that technology can bring is symptomatic of a greater disease attacking the high court. Maybe we can help the justices by adding to their numbers jurists with fewer phobias!

Start with the Children - PragerU Lays the Foundation for Rewriting History

Both Florida and Oklahoma have now partnered with PragerU Kids, the educational arm of the controversial PragerU media company, to provide content to public schools. PragerU – which I only learned of recently – is a nonprofit advocacy group that was founded to be an alternative to supposedly left-leaning college education. Now it’s one thing to try and provide “alt” views to adults who can make their own decisions about such viewpoints but it’s another thing to indoctrinate young children with the aid of tax payer dollars.
And indoctrination is exactly what it is – here’s co-founder Dennis Prager as quoted by @JoJofromJerz (Joanne Carducci) writing for the Daily Beast:
“We bring doctrines to children.

That is a very fair statement. But what is the bad of our indoctrination?’”

Please do let me and the team know what topics you would like to hear more from me about – look forward to hearing your voices!

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