Hello. I’m Paul Thornton, and today is Saturday, September 10, 2022. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.
Let me say up front that I have no fascination with the British royal family. If I have any feeling for the late Queen Elizabeth II or the ruling House of Windsor beyond a lingering unease at the thought of the monarchy, it’s an even-handed respect akin to what I feel for the King of Sweden or the Emperor of Japan: their subjects accept their legitimacy, so who am I to judge? To say that the UK shouldn’t have a birthright ruler would be like saying that the capital of the UK shouldn’t be London: okay, but if you’re not British, who cares? care?
Yet many Americans see things differently; one of them is Carla Hall, a member of the Times editorial board, who writes movingly about Elizabeth’s ability to say and do precisely the right thing at the right time to keep the faltering monarchy closely linked to the people. British. As a father of young children, I appreciate Hall recalling the Queen’s great-grandmother’s recent public display of patience: ‘Earlier this year, celebrating 70 years as Queen in an extravaganza of the platinum jubilee full of gun salutes and plane flyovers, she stood on a Buckingham Palace balcony, surrounded by an invite-only group of family, and ignored the ritual for a while to chat with the most youngest and rowdiest of the bunch – her 4-year-old great-grandson Prince Louis. Elizabeth looked just fine, until her life ended on Thursday at the age of 96.
Later, Hall briefly mentions the Queen message recorded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which spoke to its subjects but inspired and comforted people around the world. It was that moment I recalled at the first hearing of Elizabeth’s death on Thursday, how her simple act of duty and her humble message of “we’ll meet again” stood in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s malignant denial and the macho bluster of his own prime minister, Boris Johnson. (Coincidentally, Elizabeth held out just long enough for new Prime Minister Liz Truss to address Britons from 10 Downing Street when she died.)
I also remembered how, after Prince Philip died in April 2021, Elizabeth sat alone at her 74-year-old husband’s funeral, in accordance with UK COVID-19 rules, even as Johnson secretly threw parties at the Prime Minister’s residence (such a gathering was on the eve of Philip’s funeral). If anyone deserves a momentary pass from the COVID rules, it’s a 95-year-old widow burying the husband she married in her twenties, let alone the ruler of the nation. And yet, in everything instances, duty and the State take precedence.
In an age of anarchic strongmen made possible by legions of apologists, you don’t have to be a monarchist to admire a queen’s conscience.
If you want intelligent commentary in the United States on the Queen’s death, follow the The Times’ Patt Morrison Twitter feed, keen observer of the British royal family. My favorite tweet from Morrison since Elizabeth died: “#QueenElizabeth once wistfully said that if the choice had been left to her, as a private person, she would have been a woman living in the countryside with lots of dogs and of horses.” And there’s this dark piece of history: “As #QueenElizabeth’s grandfather, George V, lay dying, the news was, ‘The King’s life unfolds peacefully towards its end. In fact, his doctor had given the king a medicated “speedball” so that the death could be announced in the serious morning papers, not the afternoon ones.
The special order for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents is perverse and potentially disastrous. Columnist Harry Litman offers a former insider’s perspective on the Federal Court’s decision that effectively suspended the Justice Department’s investigation into former President Trump’s handling of government documents: “Some observers suggest that the outcome isn’t all that worrisome and the best lawyer in the Department of Justice is to pick up your pieces and go through the process [Judge Aileen] Cannon prescribed. As a former prosecutor and Justice Department official, I don’t see it. The Cannon order is not only seriously flawed, it threatens inordinate delays and potential sabotage of the entire criminal investigation. Los Angeles Time
” I am 16 years old. I went to a drag show. I was not traumatized. » Alexander Vidra tries to calm Tucker Carlson and others who have expressed dismay over his father-in-law, Washington Post columnist (and former LA Times) Max Boot, taking his family to a drag show: “This outrage seems to be based on the fallacious assumption that drag shows are strip shows or sex shows I can’t speak for all drag shows – I’ve only seen one – but the one we went to recently was clean, healthy and harmless pleasure LA Time
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The scourge of originalism is gripping the Supreme Court. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, details what is at stake with a court dominated by conservative justices who believe they can guess from the Constitution the original intent of the framers: “The implications of a court attached to originality are frightening. In overturning Roe, the conservative justices said a right should only be protected if it is in the text of the Constitution or is backed by a long, unbroken tradition. Adhering to this doctrine would jeopardize the right to marry, the right to procreate, the right to custody of one’s children, the right to keep the family together, the right of parents to control the education of their children, the right to buying and using contraceptives, the right of consenting adults to engage in private consensual sexual activity, and the right of competent adults to refuse medical care. None of these rights can be justified within the rigid historical guidance of the Court. » Los Angeles Time
Our climate action too weak and too late means more triage than prevention. Journalist and author David Helvarg writes perhaps the gloomiest assessment I’ve read this year of where we’re trying to mitigate climate change: “The hope is that if we engage the rest of this century in a new human endeavor of green transition and restoration, there could still be 10% of today’s tropical reefs and redwoods by the end of the century, along with remaining populations of wildlife, as well as enough food for a human population that is growing at about 1% per year and has more than doubled since the first Earth Day in 1970. Los Angeles Time