limits on government power

anonymous asked:

What part of the US constitution allows Bernie Sander's programs? Why should we have a single payer system when the VA is a single payer system and lets down our veterans?

This is the age-old argument about the limits of the Constitution.Does the Constitution grant power to government or grant rights to people? 

In this case, I would argue that it does not matter, In the preamble of the constitution it reads:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (x)

We establish this Constitution to promote the general Welfare, it is explicit in the text. People may argue what general Welfare means. to better understand the framing of those words at the time, let’s look at Dictionary of the English language by Samuel Johnson (1768). To place some context of timing, The constitution was written in 1787 and would be ratified by 1788 and would be put into effect by 1789, making this the dictionary closest in time-period to the Constitution.

General: the whole, in totality

Welfare: happiness, prosperity

At the time the Constitution was written, those words would have been perceived to mean to promote happiness and prosperity of the whole of the People of the United States of America. 

Do those two things not promote the prosperity of the whole, if they are given to all equally?


On the VA, Republicans have consistently cut funding to Veterans programs, including the VA.

So it seems disingenuous to call into question why the VA is failing while there is a history of lack of support. It is also interesting how you do not bring up the largest single payer healthcare system in the US, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS).

This is likely because it is difficult to find a compelling argument for your side here:

It seems to me that a single payer system is still superior, especially since the Kaiser Family foundation concluded:
  • In most local markets, providers have monopoly power. Consequently, private insurers lack the bargaining power to contain prices.
  • In most areas, two or three dominant insurers dominate the regional market, limit competition and make it extremely difficult if not impossible for new insurers to enter the marketplace and stimulate price competition.
  • Medicare Advantage, which enrolls seniors in private health plans, has failed to deliver care more efficiently than traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Both the CBO and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the commission which advises congress on Medicare’s finances, have calculated that Medicare Advantage plans covering the same care as traditional Medicare cost 12 percent more
  • Karen Ignagni, who heads America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the insurance industry’s trade association, has admitted that private plans cannot bargain down provider costs and has asked Washington to intervene.

Even private insurers are looking for the government to step in and help them on their pricing, why not just cut the profit centers out of the deal and save that money?

- @theliberaltony

Yes Sir Part 7

Yes Sir Part 7: The List

Professor John Winchester and his girl tease each other in more ways than one.

Series Masterlist   Warnings: Smutty smut smut- the usual plus role play and restraints. And lots of fluff. WC: 6972  On AO3  Gifs aren’t mine; I made the other additions. 

A/N: I got really creative with this part. Hope you like it! Thanks to the awesome followers of this story; all of your great feedback and love has made this a joy to write. 


Law and Order. Real Housewives. CNN. I sighed as I flipped through the channels on my TV. I was bored. I’d done homework for hours, was off work for the night, and all of my friends were busy studying. And for the fifth night in a row, my boyfriend was out of town at a college educator’s conference.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Could you tell us more about Theresa May's announcement today in regard to changing basic human rights? (Only if you can and have time ofc) Thanks in advance

This is just a quick overview so it’s kind of rough but: 

  1. She’s talking about the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. 
  2. The rights in the ECHR are by and large a duty on governments and therefore public authorities to uphold human rights obligations to people in their jurisdiction. It covers a whole range of stuff from the right to life, to not be tortured, to a fair trial to freedom of speech and religion. Thus, in practice it is a limit on the power of the government and a way to hold them accountable in a manner often not covered by other areas of law like criminal or tort. Many tort claims against the government are unsuccessful and a human rights claim can often be the only means of redress. 
  3. Her statement is bad news, in my opinion. She’s talked about wanting to scrap the HRA before these attacks so I definitely feel it is opportunistic on her part.
  4. Despite what the Daily Mail or the Tories claim, the vast majority of ECHR rights benefit and protect law-abiding citizens. There is a lot of hay made out of how the ECHR does not allow the state to deport people to countries where they might be tortured, and this at times covers terrorist suspects. But to begin with, there are many other options to dealing with these people- like monitoring them (whereby the Tories’ cuts to the police and security services don’t help) or even just jailing them for terrorism charges here. Further, many of these terrorists are British citizens and deportation is not going to be possible. And in the first place, once we start stripping rights from people we don’t like, it’s only going to be a slippery slope from then on. Even criminals and suspects have some basic human rights. 
  5. I emphasise it’s gonna be bad because I’ve read dozens upon dozens of human rights cases. The vast majority of them involve people’s claims against the UK government responsible for abuses, negligence or overreach of power that ended up violating their human rights. One example of a successful case involved the failure of the social services to protect children who had been severely neglected and abused by their parents despite being aware of the situation. Another involved the parents of a man who had been imprisoned for a minor charge who was killed in custody because the prison had put him in the same cell as another inmate known to be dangerous and violent. Many of the deportation cases also don’t even involve terrorist suspects but asylum seekers at real risk of being persecuted for their religion or sexuality who are appealing the rejection of their asylum claim by invoking human rights in the ECHR. 
  6. All in all, we should be wary of Theresa May’s attempts to justify this because of the threat of terrorism, especially given that she herself as Home Secretary has harmed the capacity of the police and emergency services to respond through repeated cuts despite being warned otherwise. It seems very convenient her first instinct is to take a potshot at the Human Rights Act when the police themselves have cited funding issues and personnel cuts as being a key problem. 

anonymous asked:

Don't "net neutrality" laws create precident for government interference in the web? Don't we have more examples of government interference in the free exchange of ideas than companies? (Think China's "Great Firewall.")

Net neutrality rules actually set the exact opposite precedent: they promote the free exchange of information by preventing cable companies and ISPs from deciding which websites you can and cannot visit. The specific rules at issue in this debate don’t give the government any power whatsoever to limit access to content; they simply prevent ISPs from treating internet traffic unequally. Without net neutrality rules, your cable company could (and likely would) block you from accessing any website that refused to pay a toll, or it could slow down traffic from a company that offered a competing video service. Far from encouraging government interference in the web, net neutrality is at its heart an anti-censorship policy. You’re right that governments are often the worst culprits when it comes to censorship, but there are plenty of examples of private companies—particularly ISPs—limiting user speech. Because anyone you want to communicate with on the web must go through your ISP to reach you, IPSs have the power and incentive to try to profit from this gatekeeper position. Considering most people have at most one choice for broadband access, market forces won’t keep IPSs in line. Net neutrality helps keeps these activities in check, and ensures that cable companies don’t interfere with your ability to interact with whomever you want on the internet.  

Network Neutrality actually does quite the opposite of interference. It is one of the few government acts that has a 1st Amendment value underlying its premise in that it requires the Internet to remain an open platform. With the law requiring nondiscriminatory conduct by ISPs (and the ISP industry has regularly argued they act in a nondiscriminatory way), the Internet becomes the greatest of public forums in history where all ideas and expression by the individual is accessible by the world.

That being said, EFF is always very vigilant about the authorities and arguments made by government over the extent of their power to take action. We’ve had a long history of fighting the FCC in the past on things like the Broadcast Flag, and with that history under our belt we can say the 2015 Order from the FCC got most of it right. There is always some room for improvement, but it is a net positive for free expression.

It really depends on what you mean by “the web.” There’s the network, which is the pipe you get from your ISP, and there’s the applications, which is what comes through the pipe — services like YouTube and Netflix and Tumblr. Net neutrality is about making sure ISPs don’t monkey with the pipe, or the network. It doesn’t have anything specific to do with the applications, which generally rely on having equal access to that network.

More broadly, companies like Comcast and Verizon want to think they’re tech companies just like Apple and Google, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re really not — they provide a connection to the internet, but very few of the actual services you care about on the internet. They’re scared of being “dumb pipes,” which is why they’re all buying big media companies — Verizon bought AOL and Yahoo, so now it owns Tumblr, The Huffington Post, and Yahoo Fantasy Football, which is weird. AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner, which would give it HBO and CNN, among other high-end TV networks. And Comcast bought NBCUniversal, so now it owns NBC and… the Minions? You get the idea. And all of these big ISPs will happily favor their own services given the chance — Verizon already excuses its own go90 video service from its data caps, but watching YouTube will cost you. That just sucks.

But the thing about real tech companies is that people usually love them, because they’ve all been forced to be successful by serving customers well in a really competitive market where another choice is usually just right there. You hate YouTube? You can just watch Vimeo. You don’t like Amazon? You can order from Jet.com. You’re over iOS? You can buy an Android phone. And on and on.

Internet access isn’t like that — you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got, and it’s hard to switch. 89 percent of Americans only have two choices for broadband access; over half of Americans have just one choice. These are monopolies, and I think it’s fair to regulate them and make sure the level playing field of the internet is preserved so the real tech companies can continue competing for customers through innovation and service.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), that is, those companies that provide the “on-ramp” to the Internet, should not favor or discriminate against any applications, content and services that make up the Internet. Contrary to what companies like Comcast and AT&T say, net neutrality has nothing to do with government regulating the Internet or the web. In fact, repeal of the net neutrality rules will give the control you currently have over your Internet experience and will give it to Comcast, AT&T, Charter and Verizon.

The FCC has overseen access to US communications networks for over 80 years.  Whether it be the telephone network, cable or broadcasting, the FCC is tasked by law to protect consumers and competition when it comes access to communications networks. That legal authority gives the FCC the power to protect consumers from fraudulent billing, price gouging, privacy violations and anticompetitive behavior by ISPs. ISPs don’t want any government oversight, which is why they are seeking to repeal both the net neutrality rules and the legal authority in which the rules are grounded.

A false narrative.

Net neutrality protections are about making sure that your broadband provider does not interfere with your ability to access the internet and enjoy the content of your choosing. Net neutrality is the ‘First Amendment for the internet’: transparent rules aimed at enabling the free flow of information are what made the internet great in the first place.

In 2015, the FCC adopted several different net neutrality protections. The FCC said your broadband provider could not block or throttle content you were trying to reach, couldn’t accept payment to pick winners and losers online, and could not otherwise get in the way of the legal content you are trying to reach. It also said your broadband provider had to be transparent with you about the service it was offering.

In an ideal world, competition among ISPs would weed out the worst effects of unfair practices like site blocking and throttling. Unfortunately, we’re not in an ideal world. In most of the country, broadband ISPs have no incentive to improve their customers’ experience because there’s no competition. And these monopolies were effectively created by state and local governments: if only one ISP has permission to build and use infrastructure in your town, then competition isn’t a very useful lever for pushing that ISP to act fairly.

We can and should work on building meaningful competition among ISPs, for lots of reasons. But the clear, light-touch rules set out in the Open Internet Order set a basic floor for what all users should have the right to expect of ISPs.

The only people who think having laws that protect consumers equals government interference are those that stand to profit the most when no protections exist. But to be fair, no one wants either a government or a corporate take over of the Internet. Luckily, net neutrality prevents both. Net neutrality ensures that no single actor can prevent anyone else’s legal web traffic from flowing. Because of net neutrality, your digital content can’t be blocked, throttled, or slowed because of where you live, what you believe, or how much you pay. Net neutrality protects everyday people, small businesses and business born online that never could have existed without an open Internet. The words “government takeover” are being used to conceal the fact that the only group seeking to take over the Internet are the large incumbent Internet Service Providers who stand to make a killing if they defeat net neutrality. Hopefully, smart people like you won’t let that happen.

White supremacy actually benefits asian women

White men provided the best environment for Asian women to live and prosper. I for one would not want to live in any place other than a white man’s homeland. And apparently so many many Asian women agree with me, because each year, millions of Asian women marry into the households of white men, to escape the evil asian patriachy and embrace the white men’s freedom.


But then we beg the question, what is white supremacy? Does white supremacy mean that white men are superior? If that is the case, then it is implicit understood by everyone that it is a self evident truth. Of course white men are superior, why do you think us Asian girls love white men so much? LOL!
But think about it, but yourself in my shoes, if you were an asian woman, would you ever consider living in a country that’s not white supremacist? Would you ever live in a country that’s black supremacist? Asian supremacist? If you want to live in a black supremacist country, why not go to Africa? And as for Asian supremacist countries, those are precisely the countries that us Asian women who come to America to escape from.

But then you might argue, we want to establish an utopia society where everyone is equal, that there is no supremacist of any sort, a Communist utopia. But do you realize the contradiction already? It is white men who built the most equal and utilitarian society ever existed, through captialism, free trade, and a philosophy of limitation of the power of government. The west, where you so often accuse of upholding white supremacy, is precisely the place where we have the most equality, and most freedom. And in stead of trying to preserve this amazing homeland of white people, where everyone can be free, you are trying to destroy it, though you tell people you want to make it better, you are importing massive amount of Muslims, niggers and spics who do not believe in our values, and who have no desire to assimilate into our culture, and then you turn around and accuse white men of racism. Oh the irony!

2

H. J. Res. 184, A Bill to Limit, Regulate, and Prohibit the Labor of Persons Under Eighteen Years of Age, 2/13/1924

Series: Bill Files, 1903 - 1968Record Group 233: Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789 - 2015

Congressman Israel Moore Foster introduced this joint resolution on February 13, 1924 to the 68th U.S. Congress. The resolution called for a Constitutional amendment to allow the federal government to “have the power to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age,” including child millworkers like Furman Owens of Columbia, SC. It was adopted by both chambers of Congress and later became known as the Child Labor Amendment, but the amendment was never ratified by the required 38 states. Today, the main legislation regulating child labor is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

“Furman Owens, 12 years old. Can’t read. Don’t know A, B, C’s. ‘Yes I want to learn but can’t when I work all the time.’ Been in mills 4 years, 3 years in Olympia Mill, Columbia, S.C.”, 1/16/1909
Series: National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912 - ca. 1912


Learn about other attempts to amend the Constitution at the “Amending America” exhibit now at the National Archives Museum, and featured on Tumblr at @usnatarchivesexhibits!


Today’s post comes via Nora Sutton, one of our interns from the Department of State’s Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) program. Nora is finishing her Master’s in Public History at West Virginia University this semester. 

I foresee the difficulty on a consolidated plan of drawing a representation from so extensive a continent to one place. What can be the inducements for gentlemen to come 600 miles to a national legislature? The expense would at least amount to 100,000 pounds. This however can be no conclusive objection if it eventuates in an extinction of state governments. The burthen of the latter would be saved, and the expense then would not be great. State distinctions would be found unnecessary, and yet I confess, to carry government to the extremities, the state governments reduced to corporations, and with very limited powers, might be necessary, and the expense of the national government become less burthensome.

Alexander Hamilton, speech in the Constitutional Convention, a version recorded by Robert Yates, June 18, 1787

An opportunity lost.

Given the amount of corruption that some leftists accuse our government of with the limited power that it possesses, it is amazing that they can recommend an absolute expansion of that power in the form of Socialism. Does a government become innocent once it adopts the title of Socialist?

 The willful niavete evident in a great deal of Leftist thought is unsettling.

The cowardly belief that a person must stay in one place is too reminiscent of the unquestioning resignation of animals, beasts of burden stupefied by servitude and yet always willing to accept the slipping on of the harness. There are limits to every domain, and laws to govern every organized power. But the vagrant owns the whole vast earth that ends only at the non-existent horizon, and her empire is an intangible one, for her domination and enjoyment of it are things of the spirit.

honey-pumpkin  asked:

okay so i'm american and keep hearing about u.k. politics, and i know everybody was being encouraged to vote labour and i knew yesterday was the vote. so i looked up the results this morning and the conservatives (the tories?) look like they won but parliament is hung or something so that's good or? what does that mean??

Basically, neither of them won enough seats to be in government. It’s a stalemate, essentially. But considering it was supposed to be a Tory landslide, they messed up big time - they lost lots of seats, including ones that they’ve held historically for literally hundreds of years - and Labour, with supposedly unelectable Jeremy Corbyn, did spectacularly well, gaining many seats.

Now even if the Tories get a minority government or a coalition government as the highest scoring party, they’ll be limited in their power to do Bad Tory Shit. Essentially, a hung parliament defangs the conservatives,  

anonymous asked:

What’s your opinion on Thomas Jefferson? Did he really rape his slave??

The story you are referring to is Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave at Jefferson’s home of Monticello. The rumors that Jefferson had forced sexual relations upon her were started by his political opponents, and later sustained by abolitionists. DNA evidence neither refutes nor sustains the accusation, and even his own children disagree on their own heritage. So I can’t answer whether he did it or not. You can read more about it here. 

What I can tell you, is that although Jefferson owned slaves, he was staunchly against the practice. Consider what was said on Steven Crowder’s show about Jefferson:

“Jefferson was a slaveholder in Virginia.  He owned something like 181 slaves. The interesting thing about that was it was illegal for him to free his own slaves.  He could not do it by Virginia law.  So, what happened was that Jefferson was a guy who tried to end slavery nationally.  He tried first in Virginia; they voted him down. He introduced the national anti-slavery law; he lost by one vote. He said, “Oh, to God, that he would have changed one heart. What one heart, one vote of one man would have done,” they could have ended slavery nationally.  It came down to one vote.  Jefferson did that. Jefferson for nearly 60 years was a huge leader in the anti-slavery movement; which is why up until MLK, black civil rights leaders were praising Jefferson for all he tried to do to end slavery.”

Some other important things to consider via the Cato Institute:

The Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest and most influential political documents of all time. Although often understood as a  mere declaration of intention to sever political ties with Britain, it is, in fact, a carefully crafted argument justifying that intention. The Founders offered a careful set of arguments for armed revolution, a course that was not undertaken lightly, with full awareness of the consequences.  Each signatory knew that he was signing his own death warrant in the event of failure.

In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson expressed a sophisticated, radical vision of liberty with awesome grace and eloquence. He affirmed that all people are entitled to liberty, regardless what laws might say. If laws don’t protect liberty, he declared, then the laws are illegitimate, and people should rebel. While Jefferson didn’t originate this idea, he put it in a way that set afire the imagination of people around the world. Moreover, he articulated a doctrine for strictly limiting the power of government, the most dangerous threat to liberty everywhere.

The ideas of liberty he promoted continue to form the basis of the American cultural heritage today.

Jefferson was among the most learned men of his time. With his gifted pen and meticulous script, Jefferson drafted more reports, resolutions, legislation and related official documents than any other Founding Father. Jefferson set a new, individualist standard for virtue: that what counted most was the way individuals conducted their private lives, their contribution to civil society rather than politics.

Jefferson’s accomplishments and philosophy of liberty must be recognized for their monumental importance.

The most enduring legacy of the American Revolution is the attempt to establish a system of individual liberty and limited government governed by law—a system consistent with the nature of human beings as moral agents with inalienable rights. That effort has been an inspiration to lovers of liberty all around the globe.

Nobody is perfect and Thomas Jefferson had his shortcomings as did every man. But he is a top 5 American of all time IMO. 

The FBI’s special counsel’s team is digging into the limits of President Donald Trump’s pardon powers.

Because there is little precedent for governing presidential pardon powers, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is likely to research state-level cases with elements that could be applied to the Russia investigation.

Experts say Mueller is taking unprecedented steps to ward off efforts by the White House to guard itself against the investigation.

Reports that the FBI’s special counsel’s team is researching President Donald Trump’s pardon power are the latest indication that the Russia investigation is moving into unexplored terrain.

Robert Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May after Trump fired the FBI Director James Comey, is tasked with examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, including whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Michael Dreeben, a seasoned prosecutor working with Mueller, was delving into past presidential pardons as the special counsel lays out his case - in particular, Dreeben is examining the limits of Trump’s pardon power.

There is no federal precedent governing those limits, so Dreeben, a veteran Department of Justice attorney who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, is most likely digging into state-level cases with elements that could be extrapolated as they relate to Trump’s executive authority.

Like the president, governors also have the authority to grant pardons - and Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, told Business Insider that it was possible Dreeben was looking into state-level case law going back to the country’s early years to find instances in which a court found a governor’s pardon problematic.

“Dreeben’s probably spending all day researching those cases, and he’s probably going to find some analogy that Mueller can use” in case Trump issues a preemptive pardon or one that stymies the investigation, Mariotti said.

Mariotti added that the revelation was “really something” and one of the biggest developments in the investigation so far.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-russia-mueller-pardon-obstruction-of-justice-2017-10

Why *Josie And The Pussycats* Is The Best Movie Ever

Once in a generation a film comes along that so encapsulates its era, speaks to its audiences and permeates the collective cultural unconscious that it defies categorization. It is more than a masterpiece or classic, cult or otherwise. It lives beyond the reach of its creators, in the realm not just of art but of beauty itself, that distant dimension Plato spoke of where ideal forms exist. In April of 2001, such a film was released. It was called “Josie And The Pussycats”.

I would conservatively estimate that I have seen JATP between fifteen and twenty times, or, at least once a year since it hit theaters. And to put the following in context, I have also seen your favorite movie, okay? “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie Hall,” “Goodfellas,” “Rashomon*,” “500 Days of Summer,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Schindler’s List,” “Blue Velvet,” “La Dolce Vita”…anything that might reasonably be considered “required viewing,” I have viewed. So when I tell you that JATP is as well-made a film as there is, I don’t mean in comparison to schlocky TV specials. I mean it is flawless like “The Godfather” is flawless. At the very least, it deserves to be ranked alongside “Animal House,” and “Blazing Saddles” as one of the finest comedies ever produced for American audiences.

     Because this is not a widely-held opinion (for reasons I will get into later), I am forced to put my mostly-dormant BFA into practice and analyze JATP in terms of, well, every conceivable metric by which a film might be judged. I did not undertake this quest lightly; it took six whole hours and five long days for, well, read for yourself.


Part One: Craft

(Background: JATP was written and directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, the team behind “Can’t Hardly Wait” (Ms. Elfont later married Breckin Meyer, a point that is not pertinent to this discussion but is nonetheless adorable).)

     There are a number of theories (& books & blogs & podcasts & pricey workshops) that claim to know the secret to a great screenplay, and they all have one thing in common: the hero. Our hero is Josie. Following Josie, we see all the Campbellian elements of a hero’s journey, from the Call To Adventure (@ the Starbucks with Wyatt) to the Abyss (scary clown sequence) to the Atonement (with Mel and Val backstage.) There’s even a Crossing the Threshold/Transformation sequence wherein Josie and her comrades enter the beauty salon Riverdale chicks and exit into a bustling metropolis (“the Unknown”) glam-ified stars. It is at exactly this point that the band’s name changes, setting Josie up as our megalopsychos (thanks, Aristotle).

Despite the lack of sex, death and prophecy, Josie does go through a distinctly Oedipal journey: her desire to learn the truth behind her success leads her to despair (“they’re selling stuff through our music!”). Over the course of the film, Josie grows from yet another spunky girl with dreams of stardom to a true artist who values her integrity above fame. Now, enter the supporting characters…

     Val and Mel truly are “good, solid back-up,” but they also have fully realized personalities (Val is a humanitarian, Mel sings in the shower). Mel is the heart. Val is the head. Josie is the singer. Like the Fellowship or the Power Rangers or the leaders of the Democratic party, the Pussycats are strongest when their individual powers are combined. The implicit message here - that lady friends will save the world - is powerful without being obnoxious, obvious without being cloying. Almost every scene passes the Bechdel test, yet at no point does anyone exclaim, “You can’t do that! You’re just a girl!” followed by the “Yeah? Watch me.” of so many so-called “strong female character” narratives. Even seemingly minor characters (Alan M, Alexander, Alexandra) have integrated story arcs: Alan M learns to speak his mind, Alexandra gets a love interest and Alexander frees himself from the shackles of consumer capitalism. That is so difficult to accomplish, and the film runs less than two hours. Do you hear that, Tarantino? Multiple interwoven storylines in an hour and thirty-nine minutes, including multiple song breaks.

     A hero is only as interesting as her villain, and JATP gives us two for the ages: nefariously insecure Fiona and devious henchman Wyatt. We meet Fiona during a scene of pure exposition to explain the central mystery, but she quickly evolves into a bizarro caricature of a corporate queen. Look at Fiona’s hair, makeup and costume color palette: she’s a funhouse mirror version of Josie. Like Darth Vader, Fiona represents the dark side of the path Josie has chosen to walk. She has what Josie wants (power, fame, position), and wants what Josie has (love, friends, self-esteem). She can’t help but compare herself to Josie (“Ha! I’m three pounds lighter than you!”). The ultimate reveal of her higher plan is both shocking and, in hindsight, satisfying. Who among us hasn’t had a moment of wishing to make themselves so powerful as to defy insecurity, only to find that embracing one’s flaws is the only way to move forward? It’s not out of nowhere; it’s called having a backstory.

     Wyatt, on the other hand, is more like a traitorous Obi-Wan. He’s Gandalf, leading them through new and treacherous territory. He’s the mentor, the goddess, the wizard with the ability to make the impossible possible (his magical amulet: the sound mixer). And then it turns out he’s playing them! Isn’t that better? Isn’t that more fun than another coach figure who, like, dies of a mild cough the day before the big game?

     The difference between a good and great script might lie in the attention paid to truly tiny parts. Ideally, each interaction moves the plot forward or enriches the world of the story. Well, JATP is a great script. DuJour and the fangirls (and boy) in the opening sequence introduce the world of the film before showing us the titular characters, much like the Capulet and Montague servants in the first scene of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The guy outside the Steve Madden store (“they’re new; they’re orange”) sets the emotional stage for the Pussycats to jump at the chance to sign with Wyatt, believing they are, to the masses, unwanted. The punk girl at the megastore gives voice to the anti-pop eye-rollers in the audience, and her cameo later in the underground brainwash complex is not to be overlooked. The government guy puts a limit on Fiona’s power. After the bowling alley, one might mistake the Pussycats for a beloved local band, but the bully girls show reveal them to be the town joke…which only makes the girls’ return as faux-Pussycats/stalkers all the more of a payoff.

     While a well-told story can hold an audience’s attention for its duration, we don’t return to films again and again, allowing them into our inner psyches and deeming them “iconic,” unless they also speak to the world around us or within us in some profound way. This is where most people miss the single most obvious thing JATP gets right: it’s a biting satire of consumer culture, American capitalism and even - in fact, especially - of itself. It’s about subliminal messages, but makes its message overt. It’s about corporate branding, and it has the most obvious product placement ever seen on the big screen. It’s an update of a beloved comic book franchise that includes the line “I was in the comic book.” The “profit kills creativity” maxim is brought to vivid - and hilarious - life when Carson Daly tries to kill Mel with a bat after admitting that he is an integral part of a plot to destroy the youth of America through music. If you consider yourself a hardened anti-establishment alt-indie-hippie-vegan free-thinking spirit of the wind, this should be required viewing. It’s subversive. It attacks. It’s edgy, dammit. This is punk rock filmmaking. Andy Warhol would have approved of this movie. It’s an indictment of the monoculture. Just imagine the think pieces this film would spawn if it were released today!

     When Fiona asks why so many musicians die in crashes and overdoses and suicides, she’s setting up the idea that actually they’ve been murdered by their corporate overlords. Ha, ha. But…isn’t she kind of right? Didn’t the pressures of fame kill Kurt Cobain, didn’t the excesses of wealth kill Elvis? We burn up our celebrities not only with our scorn but with our worship, fandom as medicinal poison. And this is before tumblr. And it’s all done so subtly! Wyatt’s code-word for “crach the duJour plane” is “take the Chevy to the levy,” a nonsense line from American Pie…which is a song about musicians dying in a plane crash.

     The exhaustion of fame on hyperdrive. Media saturation as lifestyle. An X-Files-worthy government conspiracy. This movie was a thousand years ahead of its time. So, with all that in mind, can we please agree that, at least on paper, Josie And The Pussycats is a flawless masterpiece? Great.


Part Two: Execution.

     Let’s take a look at what there is to take a look at: cinematography. JATP’s cinematography, from a technical angle, is rather unfussy. There are no walk-and-talks, no winding Scorseseësque dollies through a space or pans across a striking vista. It’s your basic master/two-shot/over-the-shoulder filmmaking. There are fun graphics in the montages, notably the “climbing up the charts” gag, an accurate recreation of the era’s music video aesthetic when necessary, and a few amusing fisheye shots, like seeing the faux-pussycats through the apartment door peephole. The split screens were likely made in the editing room, not in-camera, but still, points for exciting visuals. One must remember that, at the end of the day, form is supposed to support content, not the other way around (some people disagree with me on this. Those people are wrong). The story is a deep dive into the psyche of mainstream America, so the directors chose a mainstream technique.

     Where the visual storytelling becomes crazy subtle is in the set and costume design. Hipsters can harp all they want about how, like, every single frame of Scott Pilgrim has, whoa, a number in it because, like, Edgar Wright is, whoa, a genius, but have you ever bothered to look at the background actors in “Josie And The Pussycats?” An ongoing joke in the film is that the subliminal messages in pop music change the trendy color (“orange is the new pink!”) for the sole purpose of encouraging wasteful shopping. Sure enough, the extras in every mall scene can be seen wearing variations of the same hue. In the bird’s-eye shot of the Riverdale suburb, every single house is the same, down to the make, model and color of the SUV in the driveway. Each Pussycat lives in a penthouse hilariously plastered in the logo of the brand “sponsoring” her (pre-Instagram, can you imagine?). At the Pussycat house, too, there’s an element of self-branding: the walls are speckled with spray-painted leopard spots and almost every home accessory has a cat motif. (There are also a few live kittens roaming around. One assumes they were adopted when the band moved away.) When the members of duJour return in full-body casts, their plaster chests have been sharpie’d with the insignia from the clothes they were wearing in the airplane (which is also, itself, covered in logos). This level of attention to detail makes the film an easter-egg-hunting joy to re-watch and complicates one of the themes: does what you like inside dictate what you put on your outside, or the other way around?

     The Pussycats would be nothing without their music, and the soundtrack is perhaps what elevates the film above other teen fare of the time. (It was certified Gold, by the way.) Every single track is a banger. “3 Small Words” is an angsty chick anthem; “Pretend To Be Nice” sounds like everything else on the turn-of-the-millennium radio, so it’s perfect as the Pussycats’ fictional hit; I dare you not to dance to “Spin Around”; “You Don’t See Me” is serviceable as a love song for Alan M but works even better as an ode to insecurity; “You’re A Star” is the opposite of the previous track, aka character development; “I Wish You Well” dips into riot grrrl territory and scratches my I Miss The Donnas Every Day itch, “Real Wild Child” is a cute cover, as is “Money”; “Shape Shifter” is pretty much the theme of the movie in a single song; “Come On” is, admittedly, the weakest track on the album but the guitar hook is kind of flawless. Onto the DuJour tracks: “DuJour Around The World” manages to use “DuJour” in every line. “Backdoor Lover” is a boyband song about butt sex. I rest my case. Finally, the Josie And The Pussycats theme. A non-ironic update of the original 70s cartoon theme. Why don’t other franchise reboots understand how simple it can be?

     And now we come to the most tired and pathetic complaint that can be lobbied against this or any movie of a similar nature: those girls aren’t really singing or playing their instruments.

     The first thing is fuck you. The second this is yes they are, in the scene, they are playing their instruments and singing, it’s just that the sounds they made weren’t recorded. Very, very few films feature live music. Do you have any idea how shitty the musical acoustics are on a soundstage? Boom mics were designed for dialogue, not electric guitars. So, no, at no point do you hear the vocal or musical stylings of Rachel Leigh Cook…but why should you have to in order to enjoy the songs? Not only would “real” music be antithetical to the giant meta-wink that is the entire film, but also, everything in a movie is a special effect. In a scene where “Josie” would have done her hair and makeup herself that morning, Rachel Leigh Cook didn’t; a professional did. Rachel Leigh Cook didn’t do stunts; a professional did. And no one expected her, though she played Josie, to write songs. Professionals did. Because creating an authentic character is a collaboration between professionals. They hired professional actresses to act the Pussycats and a professional singer to sing for them. And not just any professional singer…Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo. You get to see a movie starring three starlets and hear Kay Hanley. This is the best of all possible combinations!

     The entire cast is pitch-fucking-perfect. Donald Faison, Seth Green, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Missi Pyle…comedy superstars, all of them. Cumming and Posey, especially, are let off their respective chains and are as deliciously insane as I have ever seen them. Tara Reid is so sincere as the all-loving vegetarian airhead Mel. Watch her explain all the things she could do if she could be in multiple places at once. Watch her fall on her ass in the living room. Rachel Leigh Cook, the star-next-door of 1999 thanks to “She’’s All That,” is recognizable enough to be a believable rock star and unknown enough to be a believable loser. She’s spunky and cute and the tiniest bit annoying, so you buy it when she turns into a bitch.

     But by far the MVP (Most Val-uable Pussycat) is Val, aka Rosario Dawson, aka pre-Rent Rosario Dawson, aka pre-skinny Rosario Dawson. She’s deadpan and cool and dorky and totally un-self-conscious in a way you never see in teen movies. Mel and Josie come off like girls. Val is a woman. She’s the moral center of the story and its most reasonable character. She doesn’t get many whacky showcase moments or punchlines. In fact, her main joke is that Wyatt keeps forgetting about her because yeah, isn’t Val a little bit boring? But also…yeah! She’s a rock star and she’s a little bit boring! She’s happy with herself and her decisions. She’s supportive and smart and does volunteer work. She’s just a cool, calm and collected cat. She’s Dave Grohl or Bob Gaudio or everyone in Bon Jovi or no one in Fleetwood Mac.

Then there’s the X-factor, the je news said quoits, the kitty-ness of it all. The monkey. Captain and Tennnille and The Chief. The Charlie’s Angels girls playing the Pussycats in the very movie you’re watching. The quite catchy melody of “Taking My Truck For Granted”. These are things that make the film an absolute joy to watch. They show how much time, care, effort, energy, talent and, yes, love went into making “Josie And The Pussycats.” When you love something that much and work that hard on it, I think the least you can expect is that audiences and critics give it a fair shot before casting an opinion. Unfortunately…


Part Three: Reception

JATP made fifteen million against a twenty-two million budget. It’s not that audiences didn’t like it; they didn’t even see it. Roger Ebert, the most influential critic of his time, basically panned it. And there’s only one reason, I think, why this film has not received the recognition it deserves: the patriarchy.

Calm tf down. I’m not accusing Ebert or any critic or any man or any penis of outright misogyny. What I am arguing is that there are many aspects of the movie that prevented it from being seen by male audiences who would otherwise be free to enjoy it, and that it hasn’t taken its place among the greats because of a systematic disregard for the things the film is fundamentally about.

     Take the title, for instance. It has the word PUSSY in it. How many guys, of a Saturday, would feel comfortable rolling up to the box office and asking for tickets to a movie with Pussy in the title and a glitter-covered girl gang on the poster? Most people of ticket-buying age have already been indoctrinated (by the very brain-washing society the movie mocks) that this is a chick flick. Dissuading men from enjoying “feminine” things isn’t reverse-sexism…it’s the patriarchy!, So while of course I am all for female-driven movies making bank on the strength of female purchasing power, the fact remains that it is twice as hard to turn a profit when half the population is getting signals from all sides telling them not to go.

     Beyond the title, the pink-and-purple poster and the lack of “bankable” leads (ie macho action stars or old-man-approved Award Winners), this movie was, frankly, scary to conservative America. Remember, the patriarchy is just another branch of authoritarianism and oppression. The Pussycats are the opposite of oppressed. They don’t exist within the sanctified, codified world of high school (see: the massive success of “Mean Girls” and “Clueless,” or “Legally Blonde” for post-grad institutionalization); they aren’t at a pre-prescribed stage in life as designated by a major milestone (“Bridesmaids”); they aren’t gainfully employed but looking for mates (“13 Going On 30,” “27 Dresses,” “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”). Instead, like Romy and Michele (again under appreciated, again starring Alan Cumming…are you sensing a theme?) they are semi-employed and okay with it, chasing their dreams instead of men, existing more in relationship to each other than to any structure from the outside world. They have their own Pussycat society, a society with its own rules and norms and boundaries. This is anathema to the patriarchy. The pussycat house may very well have been a brother for all that it completely rejects the heteronormative standard.

     Groups of liberated females have long struck fear into the heart of the establishment, and so the establishment tries to shut them down. Funny women aren’t supposed to tell you not to buy stuff. They are supposed to shut up and have babies. Well, Josie and Mel and Val are college-aged girls living on their own in a house full of cats, refusing to buy new clothes or listen to bland music, and the movie paints them as powerful, not pitiful. Talk about subverting the dominant paradigm. This movie was the revolution, people, and we fucking missed it!

     The movie was called “ridiculous” because men have always called women ridiculous for wanting the things they can’t have. What it comes down to is if this were a drama about a bunch of boys who liked to sing and play guitar and hated “the man,” and wanted a record contract anyway, Oliver Stone and Cameron Crowe would have been fighting over the chance to direct it and Leonardo DiCaprio would have been growing his hair out to take on the lead. But instead, the movie is - gasp! - a comedy about - omg! - friendship instead of drugs, centered on three - wtf! - cute girls instead of two guys and their shared sex object. Because at the end of the day, the establishment can make peace with men who fight the power with guns or whatever, probably something that the establishment sold them anyways. Not so for ladies.

Now, how am I so sure that the patriarchy is completely to blame? How do I know it wasn’t simply that this happens sometimes with movies, and maybe there were a bunch of other factors I don’t know about? Well, consider the closest thing we have to a “control” movie against which we can test my theory: “Zoolander.”

     Heard of it? It came out the same year as JATP and boasted a roster of comedy’s best. It also has…pretty much the exact same plot as JATP. It’s about an industry that brainwashes its stars to promote and preserve a capitalist way of life. They were made for around the same amount of money, even. Yet “Zoolander” grossed its budget back twice over, is quoted by film fans ad infinitum and, oh yeah, the star-studded sequel just came out. So what did Derek Z have that Josie M didn’t?

     Well, “Zoolander" was about a guy and made by guys. Ben Stiller stared and directed; Scott Rudin produced. Other guys could go to a Ben Stiller/Scott Rudin movie. “Zoolander” was about an adult, and society tells us that their stories are worth telling. Josie and her friends aren’t teenagers, yet JATP consistently pops up on “teen movie” lists, even thought it’s really clever. “Zoolander,” which has demonstrably juvenile humor, is never considered a teen movie, and adults went to it in droves. Again, the deciding factors are sexism and ageism which, yes, is part of patriarchy (establishment = conservatism). The original “Zoolander” trailer features, instead of Josie’s peppy music, a guy getting kicked in the face. And celebrity cameos. And an explosion. So Middle America was like YES PUT IT IN ME IT LOOKS LIKE WHAT I HAVE BEEN TOLD IS FOR ME.

     The other reason I know I’m right is…there is no other possible explanation. “Josie And The Pussycats” is so goddamn good that for it to have done as poorly as it did both commercially and critically, something must have been deeply wrong with the society into which it premiered. Like the work of Jane Austen, JATP was declared “chick stuff” and brushed under the rug, only to be discovered later by a more deserving audience. Well, the time has come. Rent it. Buy it. Watch it. Make like Alexander and hit the streets to spread the gospel of the pussycats.

*I have not seen Rashomon.

Remember, when the people once part with power, they can seldom or never resume it again but by force. Many instances can be produced in which the people have voluntarily increased the powers of their rules; but few, if any, in which rulers have willingly abridged their authority.
— 

“To the Citizens of the State of New York 2.9.3″ in Essays from ‘Brutus’

Quote from page 109 of The Anti-Federalist: Writings by the Opponents of the Constitution edited by Herbert J. Storing

2

You were his world. He would often look at you when he knew that you wouldn’t see him. His mind palace was often completely destroyed and memories of you would just flood in. The way your hair falls just in the right way, that the scent of the shampoo you use calms him down tremendously, that you change it almost once a month and that’s alright with Sherlock too. That your smile- God, your smile. It lit every dark shadow that plagued Sherlock, and brightened his look on life. 

You were his everything, and he had to spend hours at night pushing you out his mind so he could think. Just get one thought straight and be able to breathe

And the worst part of this all was that you didn’t even understand the hold that you had on him. That you couldn’t even begin to grasp the limits and bounderies that Sherlock would completely overlook for you. The governments and power groups that he would burn to the ground if you so much as breathed the request. 

Or maybe you did, maybe you did grasp how deep, how raw Sherlock’s love for you was. Though just the thought of that was just another thing that Sherlock was in denial about.

Because if you did understand, and you knew what Sherlock would do to just be able to call you his for a second and you still wouldn’t even give him a genuine smile? That would make him crumble faster than anyone he’s ever taken down. 

That would completely and utterly break Sherlock Holmes. 

To say that a power elite directs the affairs of state is not to suggest the existence of some dark conspiracy. It is simply to acknowledge the way Washington actually works. Especially on matters related to national security, policy making has become oligarchic rather than democratic. The policy-making process is not open but closed, with the voices of the privileged insiders carrying unimaginably greater weight than those of the unwashed masses.
—  Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, 2008. (p. 82)

I’ll be fine with Trumps use of executive orders so long as they continue to limit and reduce the power of the government. How great would it be if his last executive order as president is to strip the president of the ability to use executive orders. 

It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to manage, or more doubtful of success, or more dangerous to handle, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things. For the innovator has enemies in all those who are doing well under the old order, and he has only lukewarm defenders in all those who would do well under the new order.

The Prince, Machiavelli

I’ve seen the question posed before, “Why didn’t Jon Arryn implement the Southron Ambitions Plan (SAP) to decentralize monarchical power once he was in office, assuming he was spearheading the movement before the Rebellion?” and I think Machiavelli has the answer. 

I don’t think the SAP was formed with the intention of removing the Targaryens from power completely. While I think SAP members agreed that Aerys was unfit for rule and had to be removed, I think the original plan was simply to follow the natural order of succession and crown Rhaegar, and to create something like a constitutional monarchy where power is shared with an assembly of lords / a permanent Great Council. It was meant to reform the old Targaryen regime rather than completely tear it down, relying on 300 years of Targaryen strength and relative stability to have a smooth transition of power.

But the aftermath of the Rebellion was a time of uncertainty.  All the Targaryens were either dead or fled, and no one immediately knew who would claim the realm and hold it. Robert obviously stepped in to fill the power vacuum, and the maesters lent him legitimacy through his Targ grandmother, but after almost 300 years of Targaryen rule, a Baratheon on the throne was untried and untested. Even worse, another winter** was coming, and the major food-producing regions of Westeros had seen much of the fighting. As was the case after TWOT5K, I believe the Realm must have seen food and labor shortages.

(**The exact years of this winter are unknown, but it occurred very early in Robert’s reign. 284 is known to be a summer year, so the winter occurred sometime after that, and lasted until approximately 288. Then there was a spring in 288 or 289 that lasted maybe 9 months, because Balon’s rebellion was known to have lasted for this season. Then the long summer began.) 

I believe Jon Arryn concluded that this was too dangerous a time to introduce government reform. Limiting the power of the King (and Hand) might have weakened Westeros too much when so much of the Realm had already bled. The War of the Ninepenny Kings, when the Band of Nine had tried to invade Westeros, was still a living memory for almost all of the high lords at the time. 

Changes as radical as a permanent Council of Lords must have seemed highly uncertain, with dubious chance of success, as Machiavelli suggests. Jon Arryn wouldn’t have been able to build the same strong Council of Lords that he might have before the Rebellion. Mace Tyrell had opposed Robert, Doran Martell felt intense animosity toward the Rebels, and I don’t think Jon Arryn wanted to share power on equal terms on a Council with a war criminal like Tywin Lannister. 

In contrast, the old system of absolute monarchy had proven effective as long as the feudal contract was upheld. As Hand, Arryn could make sure that Aerys’s mistakes did not become Robert’s, and perhaps that was enough for Arryn. Instead, he took steps to shore up Robert’s power, with a Baratheon-Lannister marriage alliance, and a warning to Mace Tyrell against disloyalty with a Stannis/Selyse Florent match. 

So I think the Southron Ambitions Plan was abandoned, and the chance for a sort of Westerosi Magna Carta became another casualty of the Rebellion.

Consequences

“There exists a limit to the force even the most powerful may apply without destroying themselves. Judging this limit is the true artistry of government. Misuse of power is the fatal sin. The law cannot be a tool of vengeance, never a hostage, nor a fortification against the martyrs it has created. You cannot threaten any individual and escape the consequences.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah