We Are Gathered Here Today…

…not to celebrate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s wishy-washy career on the Supreme Court, but to rue the void he leaves behind. Once Trump fills the vacancy with a ratfink sycophant of no account, many expect the Court to further distance itself from the realm of real life. This has some, like reproductive rights activist Robin Marty, pondering a future where Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Starbucks Announces They’ll Pay for All Surgeries of Transgender Employees

Starbucks, mother of frappuccinos and wielder of pumpkin spice, has announced that it will cover all transgender-related surgeries for its employees.

In addition to bottom surgery, which the coffee company has covered since 2012, Starbucks will now foot the bill for additional surgeries like top surgery, hair removal, hair transplates, and facial feminization surgery.  These more comprehensive surgeries are usually deemed cosmetic by insurers and thus aren’t normally covered in insurance plans.  But not with the Siren, honey.  She got you!

The coffee company partnered with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) in order to determine exactly which surgeries were the most helpful to their transgender employees.  It was the first company in the world to do so.  Jamison Green, the former president of WPATH, worked with Starbucks as a rep for the health company.  “Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” he said.

“I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path,” said Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks, saying the improved coverage was simply the right thing to do.  “You have to think of it from an equity perspective.”

This policy makes Starbucks the world leader in comprehensive trans healthcare.

Travel Ban Gets SCOTUS Seal Of Approval, Fatherly Advice, And More

And the hits keep on coming. The Supreme Court has legally sanctioned the Trump administration’s modified travel ban (this would be the third version, written specifically so it had a strong likelihood of passing the conservative-dominated court). Tweaked verbiage aside, we know how the ban will work in practice. It’s there in the text and subtext of the original executive order, and in the intervening year and a half, our aspiring emperor has shown no respect for legal strictures that hinder him.

In other SCOTUS news: The Roberts Gang has reversed a decision requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that they’re anti-abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers are notorious for pressuring women not to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Tor Ekeland passes along advice from his father for seriously resisting fascism.

If you haven’t been outside the United States of late, you may not be aware we’re now referred to as a ‘rogue state’ with some regularity.

Remember when Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un ended with the president saying they’d made great progress and our military would stop doing war games in the Korean Peninsula? And remember how defense stocks fell and Democrats practically demanded we have a nuclear war with the Kim regime for some reason? And remember how Trump admired said regime’s YA dystopian novel levels of control over its populace? Actually, just remember all of it? It was a profoundly weird time, followed by absolutely nothing.

When investigators threatened his power, he declared himself dictator.

Nazi pederast Milo Yiannopoulos is encouraging vigilantes to assassinate journalists. In related news, 50% of Americans believe we’re in danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country; most Americans’ wages have declined over the past year; machines can fire us now; gay Americans are arming themselves to stay alive; and suicide rates are climbing dramatically. Of course if journalists are hiding in fear for their lives, they won’t have time to report on all the bad news!

And now for something completely different:

The Process Of Undoing Due Process

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Article V of the United States Constitution

Do you believe in justice?

Rich liberals, rural Kentucky republicans, radical social justice warriors who believe that the constitution is unfit to provide true equity to the historically oppressed, libertarians, communists, constitutional originalists – all of us, together: Do you believe in justice?

Even if reality often falls short of the ideal, even if the government often operates like a boot to the throat, even if the carceral state is bloated and sanguinary, even if years of hard life experience scream “No, it’s not true, justice doesn’t exist in this country!” – do you think we still have to try to reach for it? That it’s a worthwhile and vital point on the compass, a True North, and if we’re lost in the woods either the compass is broken or we’re reading it wrong?

Even if you’re an existentialist, having come to the conclusion that all of human culture is a series of accidents resulting in what we have now, a ramshackle hut built on the detritus of what came before us: can you concede that justice is one of the better accidents to befall us?

The justice that has whipped me into a rhetorical frenzy isn’t the well-oiled operation of an unrelenting punishment machine, quarantining those found guilty in the Brutalist architecture of displine. This is the justice of Due Process: the right to fair treatment within the legal system that follows established rules, esteeming the right to a speedy trial, the presumption of innocence, and the state’s burden of proof.

On Sunday, the 45th president suggested that Due Process should be circumvented when dealing with so-called “illegal immigrants”. In his vision, there are no courts or judges, just a void that will be filled by nativist vigilanties. Never mind the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the constitution, or that Supreme Court case law has established that even those who enter the country without legal sanction have the right to Due Process. The undocumented are still considered legal persons, and to deprive them of that right depersonalizes them. If one is not a person, but part of an infestation, there is no need to afford them the consideration of their humanity. And what is it we do to vermin?

Justice must be for all if it’s to be for anyone. The system is far from impartial, but to do away with striving towards impartiality, or at least pretending to, jackhammers into the bedrock our imperfect society was built on. Or perhaps it only collapses some of the top-level detritus. However you prefer to think of it, one fact is not up for interpretation: if we allow the constitution to be ignored to persecute one group of people, an inhumane precedent will have been set. What’s to protect anyone else?

Do U?

Fascism lay its roots in the campaign for Italy’s late entry in the First World War, of which Mussolini was one of the leaders. It was at this time that the phrase ‘me ne frego’ – which at the time was still considered quite vulgar, along the lines of the English ‘I don’t give a fuck’ – was sung by members of the special force known as arditi (literally: ‘the daring ones’) who volunteered for the front, to signify that they didn’t care if they should lose their lives.

The arditi were disbanded after the war, but many of them volunteered in 1919 for an expedition led by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio to capture the city of Fiume (Rijeka, in present-day Croatia) and claim it for Italy during the vacuum created by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the time of this occupation, former arditi also formed the backbone of the original Black Squads during the terror campaigns that began in 1919 and culminated with the ‘March on Rome’ of 1922, which completed Fascism’s swift rise to power.

‘Me ne frego’ was the title of one of the most famous songs of the Fascist era. Its original version, dating around 1920, hails D’Annunzio and Mussolini as the fathers of the fascist movement, recycling the old war song of the arditi as the third stanza.

Me ne frego
I don’t care

me ne frego
I don’t care

me ne frego è il nostro motto,
I don’t care is our motto

me ne frego di morire
I don’t care if I should die

per la santa libertà! …
For our sacred freedom! …

Later versions removed mentions of D’Annunzio, who faded fairly quickly into the background. In the meantime, Mussolini made the slogan his own, and explicitly elevated it to the philosophy of the regime.

The meaning of ‘Me ne frego’: The proud Black-Shirt motto ‘I don’t care’ written on the bandages that cover a wound isn’t just an act of stoic philosophy or the summary of a political doctrine. It’s an education to fighting, and the acceptance of the risks it implies. It’s a new Italian lifestyle. This is how the Fascist welcomes and loves life, while rejecting and regarding suicide as an act of cowardice; this is how the Fascist understands life as duty, exaltation, conquest. A life that must be lived highly and fully, both for oneself but especially for others, near and far, present and future.

The connotations of altruism at the end of the quote are in direct contrast with the meaning taken on by the word menefreghismo (literally, ‘Idontcareism’), which ever since the regime has meant in common parlance a kind of detached self-reliance, or moral autocracy. Just as Italy broke with its former allies and charted a stubborn path towards the ruin and devastation of the Second World War, so too the Fascist citizen was encouraged to reject the judgement of others and look straight ahead. It should be remembered in this regard that the regime treated ignorance and proclivity to violence as desirable qualities to be rewarded with positions of influence and power. This required a swift redrawing of the old social norms, and of the language used to signify the moral worth of individuals. ‘Me ne frego’ was the perfect slogan for the people in charge of overseeing such a program.

–Giovanni Tiso, A brief (fascist) history of “I don’t care”