Loose Ends (68)

Lots of news to catch up with and comment on today.

An RBG sighting! After weeks of being out of public view and prompting a ton of rumors, Justice Ruth Buzzie Ginsburg appeared—in person—at the Supreme Court yesterday, just in time to hand down today’s unanimous ruling that the 8th Amendments’s “excessive fines” clause applies to the states through “incorporation” of the due process clause. This ruling will greatly reduce the use of “civil asset forfeiture” by state and local governments.

But more significant may be two small features of the ruling. First, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion cites as its key precedent the McDonald v. City of Chicago gun control case from 2011 (a solid win for the 2nd Amendment), which suggests the durability of both that case and the Heller case that greatly bolstered gun rights before McDonald. Second, Justices Thomas and Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion that they would have anchored the decision not in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, but in the “privileges and immunities” clause instead. This is where the real action is going to be in coming years. The Supreme Court, having wrongly neutered the privileges and immunities clause way back in the 1870s, is now gingerly reopening the clause for use. And long overdue, too.

• “Are We on the Road to Civilisation Collapse?” the BBC asks us today, in an entirely typical article from a nervous nattering nabob of negativism (to borrow and adapt Spiro Agnew’s famous phrase). I wouldn’t waste the time on it, except for something in the subhed: “Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening. . .”

Wait—”collapse expert”?? What is a “collapse expert,” and do they have any kind of track record with, perhaps, the futures market, where you can make real money if you can actually predict the future? Is there now a “Department of Collapse Studies” in a university somewhere? Of course not. Mr. Kemp runs something called the “Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.” Yeah, you can probably predict what comes next. The factors suggesting collapse include:

CLIMATIC CHANGE; ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION; INEQUALITY AND OLIGARCHY; COMPLEXITY; EXTERNAL SHOCKS; RANDOMNESS/BAD LUCK; DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER. . .

Okay, I added that last one, but the point is, it’s the usual list of things that has leftists in a state of constant agitation. Which means it’s pretty unoriginal, especially from someone billing themselves as a “collapse expert.” How about getting back to me when you’ve taken a few correct positions on soybean futures or something.

Karl Lagerfeld, RIP. I have to confess that I never really took any notice of the “legendary designer” Karl Lagerfeld, who died yesterday at the age of 85. It puts me in the frame of mind of my old mentor M. Stanton Evans, who with his usual talent for piercing pretentious liberal cliches once joked, “I know we all remember vividly where we were when we first heard the shocking news that Gianni Versace had been assassinated.”

But Lagerfeld was controversial for comments like this: “One cannot — even if there are decades between them — kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.” (That comment was directed at Frau Merkel.)  He also didn’t care for the #MeToo movement, saying: “What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses.”

He should know you’re not allowed to say things like this.

Then there’s also this:

I think I rather like this guy.

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