Why is Postmaster Louis DeJoy Still a Thing?

Why is Louis DeJoy still Postmaster General? He appears to have conspired with Donald Trump in his attempt to scuttle the 2020 election by destroying mail sorting machines in the middle of a pandemic that had us all relying on the Post Office in a way we hadn’t seen in generations.

Now he’s cutting services and closing Post Offices again, and I don’t understand why he’s still in his job and not up on charges of conspiracy, treason, money laundering, whatever. If he was a friend of Trump, appointed by Trump, he’s dirty. Why does he still have a job that isn’t picking up trash by the roadside in an orange jumpsuit?

I’d really like an answer to this question.

Sent to the White House

The Postal Service had been set to purchase as many as 165,000 vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, of which 10 percent would have been electric under the original procurement plan. Now it will acquire 50,000 trucks from Oshkosh, half of which will be EVs. It will also buy another 34,500 commercially available vehicles, with sufficient electric models to make 4 in 10 trucks in its delivery fleet zero-emission vehicles.

The announcement comes after 16 states, the District of Columbia, and four of the nation’s top environmental groups sued the mail agency in the spring to prevent the original purchase plan, or compel it to buy more electric trucks. Activists at a minimum want the Postal Service’s fleet to consist of at least 75 percent EVs, though the agency’s Office of Inspector General found that 95 percent of delivery routes are suitable for electrification.

washingtonpost.com

That is still not enough of a concession on your part Mr. DeJoy. You are yet another unindicted co-conspirator in the coup attempt. I will not forget the fact that I was forced to go out and vote in person in November of 2020 because you slowed the mails down to the point where I couldn’t be sure a mail-in ballot would be received and counted. You forced me to risk my life in order to do my basic duty as a citizen of the United States. I will never forget you or your crimes.

MAGA: Trump Can’t Fix This

The mindless stupidity of his supporters is what I find most depressing. Mindless stupidity that takes McCarthy’s statements at face value. How would you prove any of his claims? Why would today be any different no matter who the President was?

I can tell you the answer; it wouldn’t be better, it would be worse. Why? Because Trump didn’t even have a plan to roll out vaccinations. Trump has no knowledge of economics. No knowledge of science. He has nothing beyond bluster and charisma to draw on.

What might have made things better is if more people had voted Democratic down ballot in 2020 and put a solid Democratic majority in the Senate. That would have at least made a difference.

As it is now, in 2022, we are still bargaining with traitors in the form of Joe Manchin and the entire Republican caucus; a traitor because he holds the country hostage for his own personal benefits. He’s not a Democrat, he’s a Trumpist sympathizer. He’s a benefactor of 40 years of Reaganism. He’s wealthy from the dirtiest of power sources and wants to continue to profit from them. His backers in West Virginia are marginal Trumpists themselves and still solidly lovers of Reagan. They still think their god is going to save them. They still think their god wants them to have lots of money so they can get into heaven and they are planning to herald his second coming, soon. They are the stupid people, just like the people who still support Trump.

Oh, sure. Joe Manchin’s changed his tune now because he can see the writing on the wall. Anyone who’s paying attention can. This murderous world-wide heatwave is impossible to ignore unless you are a complete idiot. Now he wants to get onboard. Now he wants to be a Democrat like his President is. It may be too late though. It should be too late for him to change sides and be accepted as one of us, one of the people who aren’t blinded by greed and politics.

Trump can’t fix this. Republicans are incapable of fixing this. They have denied science for so long that they can’t even tell the difference between rain and being pissed on by their own political leaders. The economy is improving from Trump’s unprecedented failure at stopping a pandemic and two-time impeached catastrophic failure as a President. The Democrats are demonstrating the criminal nature of Trumpismo and the current Republican party with facts, live testimony under oath and recorded video footage and the leader of the party in the House is telling us “who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

Republicans have made the the 2022 Midterms all about Trump and his wounded pride at being solidly trounced in the 2020 Presidential election. He has forced the Republicans to make this election about him, and so you have McCarthy talking about how Trump could make the country better as if Trump isn’t the reason the country is suffering right now, and we all know it. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, we know this is what Trump created as President. This thing we are living through right now.

Look in the mirror. Stare into your own eyes and admit this truth to yourself. Then go out and fix the problem that your votes created in 2016 and 2020.

The only solution to the crisis we are in now is to vote more Democrats into office, nationally. More Democrats and solid independents into office locally. Republicans will be compromised for a generation now; that is what the blind jingoism of FOX and it’s zombie Reaganisim over the last two score of years have gotten us. A functionally one-party political system incapable of governing without super majorities.

The California model can’t spread fast enough, in my estimation. We have to fix the primary systems across this country so that only smart, popular people with sane ideas can ever rise to the top of the political system. Only then can we be safe from the stupid people who threaten to burn us all to death with their off-gassing.

Because only Donald Trump loves America enough to give you a pony.

facebook/Stonekettle

Political Participation

Yeah, I know we all have important professional lives and personal lives, and it’s a sacrifice to get involved in these civic things that I’m talking about. But there’s joy to be found in that if you dedicate an hour or two a week to do something that is going to make this democracy better, stronger, something of a civic nature. It’s not going to necessarily be easy, but you’re going to feel better about yourself at the conclusion of that week. And in fact, our democracy is going to be stronger. There is joy to be found in this struggle, and that is what people should not forget.

Eric Holder
Amicus – Eric Holder’s Supreme Court Protest – JULY 16, 2022

Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan by Eric Holder

WE BEAT TRUMP, NOW LET’S SAVE DEMOCRACY

Real Checks and Balances With a SCOTUS That is a Political Actor

This is what the court has been building over the last several terms is a pretty novel and historically unprecedented approach to the rights secured in the Constitution; which is that there are certain rights which are first class rights or top tier rights; and other rights which, if they exist at all, are really lower level, less important rights.

We’ve seen a kind of layering, particularly the end of this term, of the vulnerability of women and other people who could be pregnant, seemingly invisible to the Constitution, and the vulnerability of white men being hyper visible to the Constitution and gun rights and religious liberties are going to come to the rescue. This kind of tiering of rights is something new, and it’s certainly not something that the framers, even if that was where we wanted to anchor the meaning of these rights, had in mind, I think, in creating an ecology of rights among all of the rights that are secured in the Constitution, in ways that doesn’t elevate any other over any others.

Katherine Franke James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University

Why do people listen to us when we decide that the 14th Amendment requires one thing or another thing? Because it’s not necessarily the text. You know the text of the 14th Amendment or any other amendment in the Constitution is so vague. Like “Congress shall make no law” in the First Amendment. Yet Congress makes all sorts of laws that restrict speech or religion. So it’s not just the text, it’s what makes the court’s opinion better than others. And the court’s answer in Casey is it uses the term legitimacy and it says the court’s power lies in its legitimacy, which it defines as “…a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people’s acceptance of the judiciary as fit to determine what the nation’s law means and to declare what it demands.” And what the court meant by that was; the reason why the court has power is because people think what the court does is engage in principled decision making. And to the extent that the public did not think that the court engages in principal decision making, they wouldn’t take it seriously.

All of the rules that you are describing, all the precedents that you are quoting is just cover for what we all know you’re going to do because you’re Sam Alito, and so to the extent that the court thinks we’re just going to automatically assume there’s a difference between an opinion like Dobbs and Mitch McConnell’s press release. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption, but it’s a cultural one and it’s a cultural force of the court’s power. And so what I am drawing optimism from at this moment is the extent to which members of Congress and the public are looking at these opinions and saying, you know, it’s not like the Constitution demands these outcomes. It’s not like these are the only outcomes you can think of.

In fact, the court is overruling itself, reaching alternative conclusions. And so we don’t have to live in a system in which children are getting shot every day. And we can’t do anything about climate change. And people are forced to birth when they don’t want to. Like all of these things, we don’t have to live in this system just because the court says so. And so the court is not worried about that, but I think it should be.

I think one notable thing about the court is for all of its contempt of Congress, almost every decision that it issued this term could be reversed by a simple statute passed by a majority of both Houses. So, Congress could in effect reverse Dobbs by enacting the Women’s Health Protection Act or a stronger version of it. The Supreme Court allowed Oklahoma and every state to regulate tribes by exercising enforcing its criminal law in Indian country. Congress could just pass a law saying, no, that was wrong. Please try again. The court harmed the EPA’s ability to regulate climate change. Congress could enact legislation to say that was a mistaken interpretation of our statute. The court reinforced qualified immunity this term. Congress could abolish qualified immunity and say “if you’re a police officer and you shoot somebody, you can go to court so that they can recover some damages for their loss of life.” Basically, everything the court did this term can in theory be limited by a statute. Even the decisions that reinforce gun rights or religious liberty could be modified by Congress, especially a Congress motivated enough.

But I think that that risk, the risk that Congress is going to pass bad laws, is a risk that in a democracy we have to take. We have to take the risk that in a democratic legislature, it’s going to enact laws we do not like. Instead, we have this system where we’re so fearful of what Congress might do that we have basically every possible veto we can think of; far more than every other country on the planet in terms of how difficult it is for the national legislature to pass laws. No other country basically requires a supermajority in one house, a second house, in a bicameral legislature, a Presidential veto followed by this Judicial veto afterward, which is just absurd.

It makes it really, really hard, and we do not expect anything to come out of our national legislature, and that’s what I think we need to get rid of. We need to start electing folks who are actually capable of legislating. We need to require that our president and the presidential administration not simply say, well, I guess if the Supreme Court said that this is the rule. So long as the Supreme Court is a Supreme Court, we have to listen to them. But rather like Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago saying, yeah, the court’s the court, but I represent the American people and I’m not going to tolerate this interpretation of our fundamental law. And so there’s obviously a political problem in that.

I certainly do not expect this Congress to legislate. There’s a cultural problem in a sense that most people think the Supreme Court should have the final word on what the Constitution means. But those are the two problems to focus on the political problem of building power through local organizing, through movement building, to demand a legislature that’s capable of legislating, and then a cultural problem of saying, look, Congress or the national legislature, for good or for ill, should have the final word on these questions in a democracy, because leaving it to the court is a terrible idea for a country that calls itself democratic.

Nikolas Bowie, Louis Brandeis professor of law at Harvard Law School

we should be ringing the alarm about this case Moore v Harper I think every day from now until it’s decided because the independent state legislature theory is one of the most radical and autocratic conceptions of democracy that this court has ever been presented with. And it really gives the court an opportunity to roll back some rights that many of us took for granted, including rights rooted in state constitutions.

Mark Joseph Stern
Amicus – A Supreme Court Term Like No Other – JULY 09, 2022

…as bad as this year has been for individual rights (if you aren’t a white guy) next year could be even worse, especially if we allow the Republicans to retake the House of Representatives and start the steamroll process that will bring back a President Trump in 2024. you have all been warned.

In Bush v. Gore in 2000 John Roberts, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh argued before the court, using the independent state legislature doctrine, that George Bush should be allowed to become President without the Florida Supreme Court dictated recount, when the margin of his victory was less than 500 votes. The Florida legislature had decided they wanted Bush as President, and that is what the State of Florida should do because the legislature has the last say on that subject.

They are now going to decide a case that they have a demonstrable conflict of interest in, Moore v. Harper. Their decision in this case is already known and because of their conflicts on the subject, should not be allowed to occur. There are things we can do to stop this, but we have to push our Representatives in Washington to do the work that now needs doing.

Congress can strip the court of jurisdiction. It can strip the court of its building. It can strip the court of its summer recess. It can strip the court of its clerks. It can say, if you want to strike down our democratic laws, do so yourselves rather than relying on these 24 year old’s. It can strip the court of its discretionary jurisdiction. It can strip the court of the power to enjoin laws. It can say ‘no more federal courts can enjoin national laws and a nationwide system without a supermajority of the Supreme Court.’ It can change the court’s jurisdiction. It can put the court’s jurisdiction in the D.C. Circuit.

Congress can do all sorts of stuff and in the past, Congress has done so. When Congress was worried about the court invalidating reconstruction, it simply took the case out of the court’s hand and said, ‘Court, you no longer have jurisdiction over these cases.’

The problem we’re facing now is a Congress unwilling to fight back, not a Congress incapable of fighting back. And I think the conflict is something that Congress needs to embrace.

Nikolas Bowie

Happy Independence Day!

The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

John Adams

That the signing of the Declaration of independence is celebrated on 4 July is one of American history’s more singular mistakes. America did not declare independence on 4 July 1776. That had happened two days earlier, when the proposal was adopted. The proceedings on 4 July were a mere formality endorsing the form of words that were to be used to announce this breach. Most people had no doubt that 2 July was the day that would ring through the ages. … Still less was the Declaration signed on 4 July, except by the president of the proceedings, John Hancock, and the secretary, Charles Thomson. (Though John Hancock became immediately famous for his cockily outsize signature on the Declaration, the expression ‘Put your John Hancock here’ for a signature didn’t apparently occur to anyone until 1903.) It was not signed on 4 July because it had first to be transcribed on to parchment. The official signing didn’t begin until 2 August and wasn’t concluded until 1781 when Thomas McKean of Delaware, the last of the fifty-six signatories, finally put his name to it. Such was the fear of reprisal that the names of the signers were not released until January 1777, six months after the Declaration’s adoption.

Equally mistaken is the idea that the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was announced to a breathless Philadelphia on 4 July by the ringing of the Liberty Bell. For one thing, the Declaration was not read out in Philadelphia until 8 July, and there is no record of any bells being rung. Indeed, though the Liberty Bell was there, it was not so called until 1847 when the whole inspiring episode was recounted in a book titled Washington and His Generals, written by one George Lippard, whose previous literary efforts had been confined almost exclusively to producing mildly pornographic novels. He made the whole thing up.

John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, hastily ran off an apparently unknown number of copies. (Until recently only twenty-four were thought to have survived – two in private hands and the rest lodged with institutions. But in 1992 a shopper at a flea market in Philadelphia found a copy folded into the back of a picture frame, apparently as padding. It was estimated to be worth up to $3 million.) Dunlap’s version was dated 4 July and it was this, evidently, that persuaded the nation to make that the day of revelry. The next year, at any rate, the great event was being celebrated on the fourth, and so it has stayed ever since.

Bill Bryson “Made in America” (1994)

h/t to the Merbrat for the book recommendation. Very enjoyable.

A Vaginal Dred Scott

The change in public opinion and feeling in relation to the African race which has taken place since the adoption of the Constitution cannot change its construction and meaning, and it must be construed and administered now according to its true meaning and intention when it was formed and adopted.

Dred Scott v. Sandfordsupreme.justia.com

Women were never seen as full, responsible citizens of the United States. They weren’t allowed to vote even after the results of the Civil War and the changes to the Constitution that invalidated the Dred Scott decision. Black men could vote, black women could not. No women could vote until the passage of the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920. Even today women are still seen as suspect, as not really capable of making informed decisions about their own bodies and their own futures. To this day there is no part of the Constitution that guarantees equality before the law to women.

This started to change after 1920. With the right to vote, women became almost full citizens. They were allowed to own property as early as 1848, seventy-two years before they were trusted with voting rights. In the 1960s women gained the right to open a bank account. They could vote forty years before they were trusted to handle their own finances at the bank.

There was one thing women have always been trusted with though, and that was the birthing and raising of children. Getting pregnant and producing the next generation of human beings was the only thing that was gladly left to them; the children and all the housework that came along with raising them.

Midwives and doulas were women, and they were the experts that were brought in to deal with births and the prevention of unwanted births, prior to the invention of modern medicine and the creation of the AMA. There wasn’t a thing called abortion before that point. They referred to it as restoring the menses, the return of the monthly bleeding that comes along with being a female of the human species.

Throughline – Before Roe: The Physicians’ Crusade – May 19, 2022

There were no laws in place to prevent abortions before quickening prior to the physician’s crusade lead by that one man, Horatio Storer. Because he wanted to push midwives out of the birthing room, to take away from women the one thing they had been entrusted to do throughout human history, he started the chain of events that has lead us down the long, winding road to where we are today. Had he not started his crusade against abortion practiced by anyone other than AMA doctors, none of the events we have witnessed in our lifetimes would have played out the way they have. He lit the fire of the pro-life movement that took over evangelical America.

Throughline – After Roe: A New Battlefield – June 16, 2022

The belief that separate and equal life begins inside a woman’s body and not once a baby is born may be the way that anti-abortionists frame their arguments, but their arguments amount to a denial of female equality no matter how you frame it. Forcing someone to do something with their body that is contrary to their will is involuntary servitude, especially when that something permanently alters the body in question and can last anywhere from a year to the rest of their lives. Slavery of the kind practiced after slavery was outlawed.

This kind of enslavement is worse than the chattel slavery that is practiced out in the open, is acknowledged and can be targeted for what it is. This type of immoral usage is a fraud, a trick at the expense of the other who is powerless to stop you from abusing them, hamstrung by the unequal laws that constrain them. If men, the law-creators, carried children then motherhood would be one of the most well-funded endeavors in human creation. On reflection, that is probably how it should be funded.

Forcing women to birth children that they don’t think of as people is dangerous to society itself. Children are not punishment and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment, nor can we justify the taking of them from their families as providing children for the adoption mills; institutions that were founded for racist and genocidal reasons in the distant past. Adoption mills that the newest Justice on the SCOTUS bench have profited from more than once.

Denying women legal equality was the platform on which the Moral Majority and the modern American conservative movement were founded. The antics of people like Phyllis Schlafly, Jerry Falwell and many, many others were the broadsides unleashed on the women’s rights movement, a movement that was set to establish women’s rights in the United States Constitution for the very first time.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was the instrument that they used to whip their followers into line with in the late 70’s. This is an almost forgotten historical fact these days, but the ERA was what got them off their pews and into State Houses agitating for an end to women’s liberation. The ERA was the motivator, the last straw, but it was the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Roe v. Wade decision that lit their hair on fire to start with.

I have never understood why it is that Roe triggered them in this fashion. Abortion has always existed, even if we didn’t call it that. Roe was a perfectly acceptable compromise that took both sides into account. It would have been preferable if the legislatures of the various states and the federal government had cared enough for women’s health to do the right thing and make the procedure legal and available for poor women who didn’t want to have more children they couldn’t feed, but then being thoughtful and humane to those we exploit under capitalism isn’t the kind of behavior that comes naturally.

I distinctly remember accompanying my mother to a Planned Parenthood center in Dallas as a teenager in the late 70’s. We had to travel there from our hometown in Sweetwater because abortion services weren’t a thing you could find out in the hinterlands of Texas. You had to go into the cities for those types of services; and you didn’t tell anyone that’s what you were going there for if you did go there. So we made a side trip to Six Flags on that journey as a cover story, but we also went there to get someone an abortion.

That wasn’t the only time I went to a women’s health clinic for services like abortion. There were girlfriends and acquaintances that needed help, help that I was happy to assist them in getting. The Planned Parenthood center in San Angelo didn’t perform abortions but did conduct screenings for disease and provided access to contraception. Contraception, another bugaboo of the Moral Majority, one that they would prefer we didn’t notice they had a problem with.

Healthcare is Not a Popularity Contest

Roe wasn’t even the best vehicle that could have been presented as the case that would have secured equality, bodily autonomy, for women. The Notorious RBG thought that a different case should have been advanced:

On the Media – Instead of Roe: The Case that Could Have Defined Abortion Law – June 24, 2022

Who can say what a different case with a different, less medically obsessed, decision would have done for the cause of women in the United States.

As the morality laws across the country started to fall one by one. From interracial marriage to contraception and onwards, the Christianists watched from the sidelines and fumed as their religious beliefs enshrined into law were struck down, and they demonstrably grew more agitated as the country became more and more secular. Until Roe. Until it became clear that the country wasn’t going to adhere to their christian beliefs until they stepped forward and made their beliefs the basis for party loyalty.

…and so was born the Moral Majority, with the ERA as their first target. They were the force that got Ronald Reagan the Republican nomination and then the presidency. With that success under their belt, they then worked to infiltrate every bit of government that they could, altering the course of the American experiment with their meddling. With their need to see America be Christian first and foremost.

I really thought they’d never reverse Roe. They’d never be that stupid, that incapable of understanding what it was that Roe was part of. Incapable of understanding the intrusions into their own lives that reversing Roe would make possible. But the leaked Alito opinion proved how wrong I was. I had to finally admit that they did plan to reverse it and that they are every bit as stupid as I first thought they couldn’t be.

It’s quite possible that Alito leaked the draft opinion himself in an attempt to keep Robert’s watered down Dobbs opinion from gaining traction in the court. We may never know the facts of it. What can be said is that both the draft opinion and the SCOTUS Alito-authored decision are blatantly unconstitutional documents.

It seems weird to write those words about a SCOTUS decision, a SCOTUS that is supposed to be the maintainer of Constitutional law. However, Alito’s arguments completely ignore the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution and sets their intent aside in favor of conservative ideology.

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted)

PoliticoText of initial draft, supremecourt.gov

Unenumerated rights are guaranteed under the Ninth amendment and the due process clause in the fourteenth is just the stick on which the unenumerated rights have been measured by the SCOTUS. Justice Alito focuses on the due process clause without answering the question of why the due process clause applies at all. A right to an abortion need not be mentioned anywhere or indeed required to meet the high bar that Alito sets in his decision because the Ninth amendment makes no requirements on what an unenumerated right is. It is the SCOTUS that applies this false rule.

Justice Alito handwaves several times about personhood in his decision but he never does justify his legal opinion on the subject of abortion in anything substantial. He can’t do this because there is no person present inside the person of the mother, no matter how hard you squint at the problem. There is no soul, no functioning brain and insufficient oxygen to make the brain function even if it is developed enough to function in the final weeks of pregnancy. There is no proof of the existence of the soul and so he can’t argue ensoulment at conception as his basis for rejecting abortion as a legitimate medical procedure, and there certainly isn’t a person present at conception if there is no soul present.

Nor is it really a right to an abortion that most women seek but rather the right to the same kind of medical care that is provided to men. Medical care that includes treatment of all of their internal organs as if they are just like the internal organs of a man. This treatment would necessarily include abortion when she and her attending physician, doula or midwife deemed it necessary. That’s it. No refereeing by the government on any level. Her body, her choice.

The decision in the Dobbs case is nothing more than conservative ideology and it contains no legal or historical merit of its own aside from the fact that its author sits on the SCOTUS and is empowered to make these kinds of decisions for all of us. Sits on a court hand-crafted by Donald Trump and the Federalist Society to do what this opinion does, stop abortion from being performed in states that don’t want to grant bodily autonomy to women. The Moral Majority has finally gotten exactly what it asked for. I doubt they will enjoy having it as much as they thought they would.

The Dog Only Thinks He Wants to Catch the Car

This is hardly the first time this kind of ideological judicial activism has been performed, either. Casey was itself a meddling in the judgement of Roe, an attempt to loosen the rules so that the states that wanted to restrict abortion into the second trimester of a pregnancy could do so. This rigged SCOTUS has also neutered the Establishment Clause with the Carson v. Makin decision, clearing the way for governments to promote whatever religion they like by supporting them with tax generated funds. They have endorsed public prayer in schools in yet another reversal of established law. It seems that conservatives are completely okay with judicial activism if the judges do things that they agree with.

Amicus – Just Doing the Job They Were Put on the Court to Do – JUNE 25, 2022

Clarence Thomas has stated the goals of the conservative majority on the court quite clearly. If they are going to be ideologically consistent, then all the decisions he mentions in his concurring opinion in Dobbs (Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell) also must fall. Whether they will get to tell us which orifices we can have sex with, whether we can use contraception while having sex or marry the same-sex partner of our choice is uncertain, but we should definitely not assume they won’t try and come for those previously established rights. What about wet dreams, Justice Thomas? Can I still enjoy my wet dreams?

Chief Justice Roberts wanted to head off the blatant declaration that Alito penned on the subject of abortion, that much is clear. The court bears his name as Chief Justice and consequently he is obsessed with trying to maintain the court as a relevant fixture in the US Government and not have it relegated to the backwater it was at the time of the founding. Perhaps he and his conservative cronies should have thought about the possibility of the Court becoming a tool of religious zealots before they pimped themselves out to the religious right in 1979. It’s a little late to worry about the Court’s reputation now.

This court has shown its true allegiance. Its allegiance isn’t to the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, it is to their own Christianist ideology, and nothing will sway them from their path. They are as certain of their moral superiority as the Taney court was certain of theirs when they authored the Dred Scott decision.

What a difference five years makes. In 2017, I feared that the court was ‘lead[ing] us … to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment’.

Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation. If a state cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any state that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens.

Sonya Sotomayor dissent from Carson v. Makin  (Amicus)

Just like Dred Scott and any other American with black skin was back in 1857, women have been remanded back into the custody of the men that they have sex with, or are raped by, to be their property once more. That is the effect of making it impossibly expensive to raise children on the one hand, providing no safety net for those women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant; and forcing those same women to take years out of their lives to raise the children that they didn’t want, weren’t planning on and have no established support system to lean on. They will turn to the people who put them in this position and be forced to rely on them indefinitely.

It’s worse than that even. No one ever talks about ectopic pregnancies. No one wants to talk about anencephaly or other equally tragic birth defects that aren’t found until the third trimester.

Those women will also need to get abortions or face trauma or possible death from the pregnancy. An abortion is far safer than giving birth, even in the most advanced country on the planet, which isn’t the United States anymore. It also isn’t murder or whatever else you might believe about it based on things you have heard. Abortion is a medical procedure, a chemical result, as natural a course of events as a successful live birth is. We occasionally still call it a miscarriage, but that’s just an abortion by a different name. In the case of chemical abortions, its probably the same cause as a miscarriage. How do you plan to investigate that and tell the difference between the two?

Women Will Die

With this decision by Justice Alito and his fellow conservative SCOTUS conspirators, women are reduced once again to being baby-making machines. They are a walking uterus, worth nothing if they cannot produce viable children. They might as well be axolotl tanks, machines that do nothing but turn out new people. Machines without brains, without desires, without thought. They are slaves, just as black people were once slaves. Slaves to their biological processes.

Short Wave – The Turnaway Study: What The Research Says About Abortion – May 9, 2022

Being unable to have children is the only way to be free in this society. To be a natural, normal human being is to be a slave if you are a woman. This status will eventually be transferred to the men who get them pregnant, too. I talk about the consequences of reversing Roe at length in the linked article on the subject here and above.

John Cornyn said the quiet part out loud when he suggested that Brown v. Board needs to be targeted next. It’s not about his personal racism when he says this, not directly anyway. It’s about using racial inequality to make us all pay for unwanted pregnancies since it can be shown that there are unequal medical outcomes that will be made worse by striking down Roe.

Learn ConLaw – After Dobbs – 06.28.22

The cost that the Dobbs decision will inflict on poor women will be almost incalculable. I brushed over several obvious costs and curtailments of rights that women will experience in both of my articles that I’ve linked other places in this article. I see no reason to go through the list of bad outcomes that I’ve already produced there save this one thing; miscarriages happen. Miscarriages happen frequently (about a third of pregnancies) Will we prosecute these unfortunate women like murderers? If history is any judge, we will.

(Criminal Prosecution Of Pregnancy Loss Expected To Increase Post-Roe)

After they’ve strapped these poor women down and successfully forced them to have children, someone is going to have to pay those costs. Absentee fathers will be targeted first. This is not news to poor fathers whose wages have been garnished for quite some time for this purpose. They will be further demonized in the coming years, with calls for punishment that I don’t even want to think about, much less try to predict.

The taxes on everyone will have to be raised eventually, even if rulings like Brown v. Board are reversed. Raised to help fund the increased burden that the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of unwanted children will create. Children and then adults that will swamp most of the red states in the country. The cost of schooling or the cost of prison. The cost of food and shelter or the cost of healthcare. Red states that will deny to their last breath that this economic crisis, this glut of uneducated, unwanted people was caused by their delusions about abortion and the sanctity 0f life and they will look to the Blue states to save their asses one more time.

The Things You Own End Up Owning You

All of this might have been avoided, some of it could still be avoided. Laws should be based not on ideology but on best principles objectively proven through trial and error. Bronze-aged morality does not work when coupled with instantaneous communication across the entire world and world-wide next-day shipping.

The circumventing of state-maintained abortion laws is already taking place. This creates black markets in drugs and medical procedures which are essential, black markets defended by people who normally would never think about breaking a law. The destruction of the rule of law follows on the heels of the average person’s willingness to simply look the other way in order to save a loved one’s life or future. You thought the drug war was expensive? Get ready for a drug war 5 to 50 times more expensive depending on how seriously you want to take this sanctity of life thing.

In order to stop this erosion of trust in the law it is essential that we take back control of our government from these ideologues who have taken the power in our absence. We have sat too long behind the Roe decision and congratulated ourselves too early on our enlightened society. The barbarians are well beyond the gates now because they are in control of the Senate, the SCOTUS and most of the States.

We the People can fix this, if we understand the priorities that must come next. Go to your local party precinct meetings. Let them know you are there to help. Get out, canvas your neighborhood, and vote. Vote to throw out Republicans and anti-choice, misogynist leaders of every stripe (yes I’m looking at you Joe Manchin) more importantly, let your representatives know your mind about what they are expected to do as your representative in the State House and in Washington D.C.

The ERA has been approved by enough states now. It needs to be confirmed as having been ratified, and it needs to be encoded into US law immediately. The ERA may not be enough to fix this problem all on its own, but it will be a start. Restart and expand the child tax credit immediately. These funds will go directly to where the problems will appear first, families with dependent children. Children they weren’t planning on having but now will be forced to have. Get the government out of the process of determining health outcomes for individuals. Just like the law everywhere else should be, objectively determined best practices should be what occurs in medical clinics unless the individual insists on being treated differently.

Then there is the Supreme Court of the United States. The court has been treated as a final authority on Constitutional law since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, but there is no basis for the court being treated this way written into the constitution itself. That is the precise belief that Roberts hoped to preserve, that the court has any say over what can be enforced as law in the United States. We may not be able to change the way the court is used by the people who are there already, but there is nothing that says we can’t make the court as big as we want it to be. Twenty, thirty, even fifty justices, whatever the number is that we decide is enough to make sure that the views of the American people are part of the deliberations of the Court itself. Large enough to make sure that a tiny group of judicial activists can’t just decided to change a half century of established jurisprudence in the blink of an eye with one flawed ideologically driven decision.

The last time that unconstitutional, unpopular, far-reaching opinions like Dobbs were handed down by the court, the Civil War broke out. We are about to enter those turbulent waters for a second time, driven there by the same backwards mindset that gave us the Dred Scott decision in 1857. No matter what the SCOTUS says, women will demand their independence. They will fight for it and they will die for it as well as die from the lack of it.

We envision a world where every reproductive decision, including abortion, takes place in thriving communities that are safe, peaceful, and affordable. We envision a world where all people have the power and resources to care for and affirm their bodies, identities, and health for themselves and their families—in all areas of their lives. As we shift the conversation about abortion, it will become a real option, accessible without shame or judgment.

abortionfunds.org

Featured image screencapped from: nwlocalpaper.com/our-summer-of-rage

Postscript

July 3 – The original text of this article contained several hasty legal arguments that I have since excised, and I have expanded on some other thoughts as well. I apologize for the misinformation that I might have passed on earlier.

The Unlamented Death of Reaganism

Last night the first public hearing of the 1/6 House Select Committee was live across most of the internet and cable entertainment services in the United States. They’ve been working quietly in the background since that day, the day we almost lost our republic to insurrectionists at the instigation of then President Donald Trump.

Quietly investigating the events that lead directly to the second impeachment of Donald Trump in an attempt to uncover exactly how we got to the point where the supporters of the President could attack the Legislature of the United States while screaming for the death of the Vice President because of his required role in certifying the Presidency of Joe Biden.

The election had been held. The votes had been counted, the lawsuits dismissed, the lies about the election exposed. There was nothing left to do but rubberstamp the certified results in the traditional manner before handing the administration of the United States government over to the next President. An event that has occurred more than 40 times since the creation of this country back in 1776.

But not this time. No, this time the President wasn’t going to allow his own defeat to be recorded. Not that he wasn’t defeated, that had already been determined democratically and judicially. He wasn’t going to allow the defeat to be recorded officially so as to turn defeat into… what? It couldn’t be victory because there wouldn’t be a United States after he retained power in defiance of the rules and of the votes of 81,282,916 people. So what did he hope to achieve beyond the destruction of the norms that had governed the lives of Americans since March 4, 1797 when the first president of the United States voluntarily surrendered the office?

It is ironical that these events mark the logical end of Reaganism. Reaganism that was re-invented into neo-liberalism and then rebranded into compassionate conservatism and finally zombified in the form of the prosperity gospel and Trumpismo. Reaganism kept animated by the dedicated effort of Roger Ailes’ FOX news and political activists determined to see Reagan’s grand compromise with Evangelicals and their joint takeover of the Republican party brought to its ultimate… victory?

Trump rode into office mouthing phrases utilized by Reagan. He promoted the ideals of Reagan, whether or not he lived up to those ideals of wealth and morality. He delivered on his and Reagan’s promises to the Evangelicals who backed both of them, creating a Supreme Court that was pre-rigged to overturn Roe v. Wade, the cornerstone of hatred that modern Evangelical America was founded on.

With FOX news and Rush Limbaugh smoothing over every excess of Trump’s criminal reign for four years. With the apologetics of Christianists well versed in twisting ancient texts to suit modern agendas. Through two impeachments. With the transparent puppeteering of Trump by Vladimir Putin ignored. With Trump’s love affair with Putin’s strongman tactics. It all came to the only end that could possibly have been in store for it given his complete inability to have a private thought unexpressed. What end? The near-destruction of the United States as we have all known it, before he was finally forced out of office.

…Of course the Republicans who profited from Trump’s reign refused to acknowledge the damage that had been done. Of course FOX news doesn’t admit that there was anything wrong with the Presidency of Donald Trump and instead spends every single moment of its air time deriding the performance of the sitting President.

That would be Joe Biden, for those who are still in denial out there. Joe Biden, the second coming of Barack Obama.

Make no mistake, this is what Republicans hate most about Joe Biden. That he represents the triumph of a black man who successfully ran the country for eight years, and was the only President since LBJ to reverse the decline of the fortunes of the American people. Reverse the decline through a single act of legislation that he guided through a nearly comatose Senate.

So FOX news talks endlessly about the flagging economy that none of their vaunted heroes have ever been able to fix, let alone understand; leaving out the part where Joe Biden orchestrated the ending of the COVID pandemic, the cause of the economic woes, through the rollout of vaccines that Donald Trump couldn’t get delivered and that his supporters still won’t take.

FOX news talks about the ignoble ending of the Afghanistan war, blaming it on Joe Biden when it was their golden boy, Donald Trump, who set us on the course to be kicked out of Afghanistan by the Taliban that we had defeated twenty years earlier. If there is a stain on America then they put it there by first electing the guy who restarted American imperialism, Ronald Reagan, and then continued to agitate for a more expansive American agenda for more than forty years in the face of changing climates, vanishing resources and more militant opposition in those places that we took our resources from.

FOX and the American conservatism that it gives voice to have pushed us all to the edge of destruction. No matter how you slice and dice the evidence this is the only conclusion that can be drawn, which is why they have all decided that the evidence is the problem and must therefore be ignored.

If FOX and American conservatism are to be believed, then the 1/6 investigation is a witch hunt that has found actual witches. For the first time in history. They won’t talk about the Committee’s findings, only that the Committee shouldn’t exist and that the Republicans who sacrificed their careers to see the investigation carried out should be drummed out of office. The findings are real though, despite the denials. The facts speak for themselves; which is a good thing, considering the climate.

Fox News’ choice to NOT cover the January 6th Committee hearings is the first ethical decision they’ve ever demonstrated.

Given that they’re seditious coconspirators, it would be a conflict of interest.

facebook/Stonekettle

Who has cable anymore? A show of hands? Exactly. FOX news may be the most popular news channel on American cable systems, but almost no one watches cable news anymore. Most of us get our news from (shudder) the internet. What FOX is, what MSNBC and CNN are, are dinosaurs. They are the vestiges of a once powerful opinion manufacturing machine that has largely gone to dust.

They long for the good old days when they could change history with their influence. Now they are transparently what they always have been, political reflection machines that serve only to ramp up the beliefs of the minority of the population who still watch them.

PBS News HourFull January 6th Hearings (Playlist)C-SPAN (YouTube Playlist)

I watched the hearings on YouTube like most people did. It’s true that the feed was NBC’s, and even older dinosaur than MSNBC, but what I saw is what anyone who watched saw, the opening salvo of a months-long series of hearings that will lay out the coup attempt by Trump and his co-conspirators, facts that those of us who pay attention to politics already know the gist of.

What FOX will be doing is trying to hold the attention of their viewers, not just for hours or days but for months, desperate to distract their viewers from the truth airing everywhere outside the conservosphere. MSNBC will simply be embroidering on the facts revealed in the hearings. CNN will reduce the facts to easily digestible chunks so that even the unwilling will have to concede to their existence. Which of these jobs would you rather have?

The results of all of this redundantly expensive noise will be determined outside of the reach of any one political entity; which is the way it should be. The one true thing that Vice President Mike Pence will probably ever say in his lifetime, a thought repeated in the 1/6 evidence on that first night of public hearings, bears repeating here:

There is no idea more unAmerican than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.

twitter/Mike Pence

…and by extrapolation, what the will of the population is should not be the decision of one man or even one political entity but should be readily established by the voices of the people themselves, directly. Eighty million people voted for Joe Biden, therefore Joe Biden should be President not Donald Trump.

Donald Trump still can’t accept this fact almost two years later and is still trying to enact a coup to have himself re-instated as President, as if that is even a thing that can be done. FOX is happy to beat the drum in support of Donald Trump; thereby signing its own death warrant, which is the punishment for treason.

Sedition. Treason. Easy words to say, hard accusations to prove.

He doesn’t mean talking in front of the committee when he asks for equal time. There is an open invitation for him to come to the committee and testify out there right now. The Chair of the committee extended this invitation from the beginning of the investigation. All Donald Trump has to do to be allowed to speak is comply with the requirements of the law. First he has to submit documentation for review, and he doesn’t have documentation on anything. Then he’d have to show up and not lie about established facts, a thing he doesn’t know how to do.

As his fan club has protested for years, requiring him to testify under oath is entrapment; except I don’t think they understand what this objection means. What they are saying is that he is not sane. If he was sane he could and world stop lying about established facts. His supporters know this when they say the word entrapment. If he was sane he would be able to stop himself from lying. He can’t, and so he isn’t.

Trump’s lying in front of the panel is exactly what is needed right now. Having him appear and face judgement would be the best for everyone concerned. If he could be made to appear and accept responsibility and our judgement. That is the crucial point of this juncture in time. Can he and his followers be made to accept responsibility for their actions and our judgement of them?

If we could compel him to appear he would do one of two things. He would transparently lie just as he always has and then dare us to act against him, the former President, in full view of his supporters. His supporters who will then probably start another insurrection. At least it would be in the open then.

Either he would lie or he would do the thing that all his betters do. He would plead the fifth just as he has done in past depositions (otherwise known as the “I can’t recall” defense) and that would leave us right where we are now. The place we don’t want to be. But we would still have the evidence of his evasion under questioning. This is why he blusters for equal time but will not avail himself of the opportunity to sit before the committee.

He doesn’t want to sit before the committee, he wants to run the committee. He wants a committee of his own. This potentiality is not as farfetched as most people might think. He could have his own committee if Republicans take the House and appoint him Speaker after the midterms. Anyone can be made Speaker of the House, although traditionally only sitting members have been appointed to this job. Think about that for a few minutes. Speaker Donald Trump. Have a puke bucket handy before you do.

I prefer not to think of the bastard at all. This was an easy thing to do before half the nation became members of his personality cult. All of this behavior around him is not what sanity looks like. It’s not just him, it’s his followers and others too. It started before him and it will continue after him. It may be the death of the human race if we don’t find a way to defeat it.

Climate change denial. Gun violence. Antivax. Trumpismo. All of these groups have the same thing in common, denial of the facts in evidence. Denial of the facts despite the rising levels of certainty stacked against this denial. Now either we figure out a way around this blockade so that the things needing doing get done, or we all die. We all die through climate disaster or nuclear holocaust or maybe even both simultaneously.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

You say you know he knows? That his lies are conscious? That all of this crap we’ve been through for six years was his idea of of a money making scheme? It’s possible, maybe even probable. We can’t say what he knows, despite what most people think. We can say what the facts are, and we can say that he was informed. We can’t say that he knows or that anyone similarly afflicted with this kind of dysphoria (?) knows. What we can say is that it is common and that a significant portion of the population can be influenced by others who have it. That people who are afflicted should not be trusted in positions of authority for the very reasons being laid out before us by the January 6th Committee today.

He was informed of the known facts and refused to accept them. Call it megalomania, call it willful ignorance. Call it Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Call it whatever you like but it still means he’s not sane and cannot be trusted to do anything of importance at any time after this. He needs keepers not access to the nuclear codes. He and his followers.

This is about much more than his freedom or our need to see Donald Trump punished. This is about all of our futures. I’ll happily call him nuts and fit him and his lunatic followers into straightjackets if that would get us past this crisis that we’ve been stuck on and in for most of my life. I doubt that will address the problem though.

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the era of big government is over

Bill Clinton, 1996 State of the Union Address

Two years into his first term as President, Bill Clinton announced his endorsement of Reaganism and the birth of his version of neoliberalism. His time in office saw the destruction of the public sphere that started under Reagan continue unabated through his two terms and through the two terms of George W. Bush, along with a heightened reliance on military strength as our way of demonstrating our will to the world’s people and governments.

The deregulation of industry. The abandonment of the poor and infirm. The triumph of greed. All of these trends have continued unabated since the day that Ronald Reagan won the White House and imposed his vision of America on us and the rest of the world. They have continued and now brought us to this crisis point in our civilization.

The environment is changing before our very eyes. The seas rise, the land sinks. Crops die in the field from intemperate weather and wars break out across the globe as the populations of the various nations realize that their governments do not care if they starve to death or not. Their caring may not even be the problem since there may not be enough food to feed everyone in the very near future. Is this the end? Only we can decide that.

Make no mistake though, Reagan is as much a product of the corporation’s desire to avoid paying for the impending climate disaster that they helped to create as he was a creation of the Christianists of the Religious Right who wanted to inflict their religion on the rest of us; and all of them are to blame for creating the environment that people like Donald Trump thrive in. They made his kind of lawless greed possible. They are to blame for all of this.

History will record that FOX died the same death as the Reagan Republicanism it was founded to promote. It was never more than an organ of that political movement and so will not survive its ultimate demise. A death that has been a long time coming but that we are watching play out around us right now.

What will replace Reagan Republicanism will be determined by those people who act on the politics of this moment whether they follow the news or not; and the truth of Trump’s crimes are there for anyone with the eyes to see them. All they have to do is open their eyes and look. So is the inflation brought on by a reigniting economy. So is the lingering pandemic. So is the war in Ukraine. So is the climate crisis that possibly has a hand in bringing all of these things to a head at the same time. What one thing will voters take to the polls in November to decide the next course this country will head on? Will it be just one thing?

We are barreling towards the November midterm election as I type this. Donald Trump and the Democrats who are trying to prosecute him want the election to be about Trump. The environmentalists want it to be about climate. The talking heads on FOX news want it to be about the economy. No one wants to think about the pandemic or the war, but they are out there influencing opinions anyway.

If you are blind enough to believe that Republicans ne Conservatives have answers for anything that the future might bring after everything we’ve been through over the last four if not forty years, then you’ll vote for Republicans and get violent when your side loses again. The rest of us will stick with the only sane group out there, moderate Democrats. How long can the center hold though? Hopefully long enough to see the next political philosophy rise, one that isn’t yet another zombified version of Reagan Republicanism.

Featured image of Ronald Reagan and Roger Ailes found here: highlandscurrent.org

Postscript

As I sit here watching the eighth Committee hearing on the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, I think to myself “I’d happily vote for Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger.” Unfortunately none of the Republicans who represent Texas are any more sane than their traitorous President is. Not either of the Texas Senators. Not the Governor, Lt. Governor or Attorney General. All of them are either traitors along with their President, or they are as insane as the former President. I look forward to the inquest where we determine which one of those facts are true.

Reaganism is dead, despite the best efforts of FOX News and Republicans who think they know who Reagan was and what he stood for. Reagan himself would decry their actions on January 6th, 2021, even though the perpetrators thought that they were acting to preserve Reagan’s shining city on a hill when they attacked the Capitol.

The people who talk about all the good that Donald Trump did as President, even as they detail his criminal acts in the White House, must be referring to the one legislative act that he succeeded at getting passed; tax cuts for the wealthy that mirrored Reagan’s signature achievement. Or maybe they refer to Donald Trump declaring foreign enemies in China and the Middle East, just like Reagan did with the USSR. Or perhaps it’s the fact that Donald Trump let a pandemic run rampant through the population just like Ronald Reagan did with the AIDs pandemic. No matter how you slice it, Donald Trump was a mirror image of Ronald Reagan even if that image was seen through a mirror, darkly.

We are well and truly rid of Reagan worship now. Let it be known forevermore as Trumpismo and let it all die with Trump’s last treasonous act, whether we have seen that last act already or if that final act of treason is still yet to come.

Texas, Bloody Texas

Greg Abbott has blood on his hands; and not only Greg Abbott, but every voting Republican in Texas has blood on their hands today. Eighteen children and three adults are dead in Uvalde (Texas Standard) and these additional victims can be added to the numberless other people killed as a result of the Texas Republican party’s reckless actions last summer. Numberless dead because there is no way to keep track of all the people killed as a result of constitutional carry.

These results were predicted when Governor Abbott signed the law:

House Bill 1927 eliminates the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns if they’re not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun. The signing was reported by the Texas Legislature’s official website, which tracks the progress of legislation. Abbott’s office has announced a ceremonial signing of the bill and other gun-related legislation at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Abbott’s signature seals a win to conservative activists who have long sought the measure without success. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republicans who were initially noncommittal about the bill were under immense political pressure this session from conservatives and gun rights advocates, who have long lobbied the Texas Legislature for permitless carry but historically struggled to win support.

texastribune.org

Anyone can carry a gun in public anywhere in Texas for any reason and no one can stop them. Even the perpetrator of this latest mass shooting in Uvalde had every right to carry his weapons, right up to the point where he shot his first victim. Anyone who tried to stop him would have been violating his rights.

There’s no vetting whatsoever. None at all.

Mike Taylor, Texas Standard

Everyone who backed the constitutional carry law is guilty of murder now. All of you have blood on your hands. Governor Abbott might as well have gone to that school and shot those children himself for all the difference it makes. All the thoughts and prayers are wasted. Your god is vengeance, and these dead children are his vengeance on your stupidity.

It’s time we left the death cult that is the belief that more guns will solve a problem. More guns are the problem. We need there to be fewer guns and those guns in the hands of people who are trained, licensed and insured against accidents. Until that happens there will only be more senseless death at a rapidly increasing rate. I will be keeping my children as close to me as I can until these cruel Republican bastards are removed from office.


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The 2022 NRA Annual Convention will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 27-29 in Houston, Texas. Among those people confirmed to be attending the convention are: Donald Trump, Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Dan Crenshaw. All of these people should be up on charges right now as accomplices to murder. Actual children, not the imaginary children that they run around saying they want to protect every day, but actual children lay dead in Uvalde because of their actions, and they are going to have a convention before the bodies of their latest victims are even in their graves.

There should be mass protests in Houston. Access to the convention center should be blocked by chains of people handcuffed together. This murder of innocents has gone 0n long enough. Action is what is required now, and not the hateful action of the people who buy their murder tools. We Texans must stand up and put things right. The time is now.


There is a tendency in media these days to stampede to the location of the latest atrocity and then blanket cover the minutest detail of everything about the subject; as if there is any story deep enough to bear the scrutiny of the entire world twenty-four hours a day or that the bereaved parents and families in a small town in Texas will welcome your invasion of their backwater community in this time of tragedy.

Where was the interest when the interest could have made a difference? When the independent school district appointed the security chief that kept parents and officers out of the school building for an hour while the shooter continued to rampage?

Arredondo believed that the shooter had barricaded himself and that the children were not under an active threat.

nbcnews.com

That would have been the crucial moment when something might have been done that would have changed the outcome on that fateful day. There is no point in asking these suffering people about their opinions of State politicians right now. No point in torturing them with what if questions. You are just adding insult to injury.

Those are questions for the rest of us to ask ourselves and find our own answers:

On the Media – Again and Again and Again and Again (and Again) – May 25, 2022

There are several good answers to many questions we might ask ourselves in that episode of On The Media. Will we ever tackle those tough conversations?


A citizen of Uvalde has come forward to speak on the subject of what we need to do next:

C-SPANMatthew McConaughey Complete Remarks at White House Press Briefing – Jun 7, 2022

We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns

Matthew McConaughey

I refuse to accept that there is nothing we can do about this subject. I know what I think should be done to stop mass killings and maybe even impact the even greater number of individual gun deaths across the nation. I’m going to vote to do something different:

This is on you [Governor Abbott] until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will be continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.

Beto O’Rourke

To the Republican politicians who lashed out at Beto for his interruption of that news conference, and to their self-satisfied base of voters who see nothing wrong with the way the the death toll is mounting, I only have this to say; your time is coming to an end. There will come a day when the people you have abused and mislead will wake up and realize that they have the power to fix their own government and that they don’t need guns to do it. All they have to do is stand up and act as one. Act as one indivisible unit. That day will come. I hope I live long enough to see it.


These are the kinds of school programs that need to be spread throughout school systems so that these disaffected teens can find the help they need instead of burning out and lashing out:

NPR: Short Wave – Can The Next School Shooting Be Prevented With Compassion? – June 16, 2022

The boy in that story, Mishka? That boy was another version of me, another version of so many children who are overlooked by education systems too overloaded to have time to avoid injustices like multiple injuries inflicted on a child that just happens to be the target of physically aggressive bullying. If you want to stop these children growing up into violent adults (if they are lucky enough to grow up at all) you have to intervene when the problem starts, not after it explodes in blood and violence.

As Texas Goes, So Goes the Nation

The Supreme Court has decided that they like more shootings in public places. They want the rest of the United States to be more like Texas, overturning a century of legal precedents when it comes to the carrying of firearms:

Since 1911, the state of New York has required individuals who would like to carry a concealed weapon in public to show a need to do so for the purpose of self defense and to require a license. More than a century later, the United States supreme court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens.

Joe Biden

Now you can’t stop mass shooters from massacring, you can only respond after they open fire with volleys of your own. You can’t stop them because there are no laws that stop people from carrying weapons into places where weapons don’t belong.

Make no mistake here. Unless we both limit the access to guns; train, license and insure gunowners, as well as start caring for the abused and mistreated among us, we are going to see an increase in gun violence. In every town, in every city and basically anywhere a disagreement occurs and one of the parties has access to guns and violent tendencies at the same time. This is inevitable and has been inevitable from the very beginning. We are trying to deny human nature when we act like everyone is reasonable and rational and can be trusted to not blow up the world if we give them access to the power to do so. This is simply not the case.

Childhood Poverty

Democracies cannot persist with the kind of income inequalities that we have, and the lack of economic mobility that we have, forever. It is true that children have no lobbyists in Washington D.C. and that may be one of the reasons why; you know, I’ve been there on the floor late at night when people are breaking their back at the end of the year before they go home for the holidays, to make sure rich people’s tax cuts are extended, to make sure that tax cuts for the largest corporations are extended.

When it came to children living in this country, Washington just went home.

Senator Michael Bennet
The Economist – How did America find the answer to its child poverty problem — and then abandon it?

LAST YEAR it looked like America had found the solution to child poverty: spend more. The expanded child tax credit is thought to have lifted around 3.7m children out of poverty. But the legislation expired and rates shot back up. How did America find the answer to a long-running problem, only to abandon it?

The Economist (still looking for a gift subscription)

We are 38th out of the 41 industrialized countries in the world when it comes to child poverty. Parents cannot work and raise children, they have to either work or raise children. I know because I lived in a single parent household from the age of 14 until I found a decent job and moved out of my mother’s house. I raised her children because she was at work all the time. That was 1977-1983, the longest six years of my life.

We treat children like an afterthought here in the US. We certainly don’t spend the time or money to make sure that they are fed, housed, clothed and given access to the educations that they need to thrive. Children are the future and the future is everyone’s problem, not just the parent’s problem. If we had half a brain in this country, we’d be spending far more than what the child tax credit gave to the poor children of America.

Remember this when you go to the polls in November. Republicans and that wannabe Republican Joe Manchin put 3 million children back into poverty. Vote to get them out of poverty again.

Featured image: npr.org/child-tax-credit-poverty

Ukraine. A Russian Civil War?

if the Russian leadership does not want to sit at the table with us for the sake of peace, perhaps it will sit at the table with you. Do Russians want war? I would very much like to answer this question, but the answer depends on you, the citizens of the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – Feb. 23, 2022

I’ve never been a fan of a foreign leader before. I have a fanboy crush on Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Who doesn’t these days?) I think I have to reveal my crush right up front in this article because I’m not thinking clearly right now. Or maybe I’m finaally thinking clearly for the first time in years. Who knows? What I know is that I love Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Despite all the odds, he stood up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and has defined courage for the world in the current European crisis:

I need ammunition, not a ride

cnn.com

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…and inspired the citizens of the world to come together in support of his country. I love the guy. If I was 20 right now I’d get on a plane and fly to Ukraine to fight beside him in defense of him and his people and their homes. His is a profile in courage.

Stonekettle asked the collective consciousness of Twitter back on February 19th:

twitter/Stonekettle

That is the essential question here; should we support Ukraine or not? We being the United States in this question means that there is no easy answer. Each individual can make that choice for themselves, certainly. However, this isn’t a question that can be answered with a single word, positive or negative when it comes to the participation of outside groups in what amounts to a regional power struggle.

Modern warfare is evil incarnate and this makes it hard to justify any action that isn’t self defensive in nature. Is it in our own defense to save Ukraine from Russian aggression? That is a difficult question to answer with anything other than a regretful no or a twenty page essay explaining why it should be yes but can’t be.

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What follows will probably a twenty page essay. We’ll start with a grammar lesson. It is Ukraine not the Ukraine. It is a country, not just a place, no matter what Vladimir Putin says. You don’t go around saying “we’re going to the Texas” unless you’re going visit the battleship museum. It’s Texas or Ukraine. It is the name of a country or a state.

The United States of America is a union of states or nations. That’s why it was historically referred to as a union or The Union. The United States was never supposed to be the name of the country. They argued about the name for a long time, just like they argued about what to call the office of the president until just giving up and referring to him as the President (a practice that has spread widely) they gave up on giving the collection of states or nations another name, and just used the kludge of a name that was on the Constitution itself.

It’s quite possible that this was a signal of the imperial aspirations of the founders. They knew that there was a lot more land out there to conquer to their west, not to mention to the North and the South, before they ever needed to worry about the phrase of America in the name on the founding document.

Both the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the European Union (EU) were styled after the founding ideals of the United States; principally, the enrichment of the powerful inside those unions, clothed in the garb of caring for the general welfare of the masses of its residents. Neither of those Unions bothered with popular direct elections for representatives for those bodies. The powerful within the United States have come to regret including those provisions in their documents.

Providence, Rhode Island is a city, county, state and nation all at the same time. Let that understanding sink in for a minute. All fifty states are nations tied together within a federal structure, yet retaining independent laws and governing structures. The only interests of the various states that were ceded to the federal government were the issues of interstate trade and the relationships with foreign governments. Everything else was and in a general sense still is an internal issue to be settled within the state itself. This arrangement has the advantage of hiding from view most of the politics that matter for governing inside the United States.

You don’t get a view of local politics unless you dig for it; ask any resident of any decent sized town whether they care more about their local infrastructure or their federal government’s policies. Anyone with an understanding of just how precarious our system is will know that the politics that really matters is local politics. It determines the priorities of all the levels above it that can interfere with its operation.

When that power structure is reversed the result is almost certainly catastrophic. Case in point; the recurring lack of preparation or understanding on the part of the whole state of Texas has led to individual suffering on an unprecedented level all across the state. Power outages, healthcare unavailability, etcetera. The city has to be able to act to protect itself or it becomes the victim of charlatans and demagogues. Governor Greg Abbott submitted as exhibition A for the court’s perusal.

All governmental requirements radiate out from the needs of individuals that go unmet; whether those requirements are more doctors or more police officers. More housing or more jails. Federal mandates almost always miss their targets because federal mandates almost never take the needs of the suffering into consideration. That level of granularity is almost beyond grasping from the distance of the White House whether the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or 1010 Colorado Street.

The problem of Ukraine being frequently referred to as the Ukraine is easily understood. I’ve done this too, refer to it as a place by putting “the” in front of it. This was a forgivable act when Ukraine and Ukrainians were inside the USSR or just a key part of the Russian empire. The Soviet Union was largely a face-saving measure designed to mask the hands of Vladimir Lenin and then Joseph Stalin controlling the daily lives of millions of Russian people directly. That was their desire. The leader of the Soviet Union couldn’t call himself a Czar and get away with it. After all, the whole revolution had been fought to get rid of the Czar, hadn’t it?

So Joseph Stalin took a different title after he arranged his ascension to power, but he held pretty much the same power as the Czar; and life went on in the USSR under different management, the lot of the common people possibly worse than it had been under the Czar but nobody being willing to say anything about it. Ukrainians no different than Poles, no different than Czechs no different than Kazakhs, Tajiks or Tatars. All suffering equally under the yoke of the new leadership.

Ukraine was a country though. The primordial Marxist state that Lenin and his Bolshevik’s created out of the ruins of the former Russian Empire engineered a compromise to maintain control of those lands. Granted them all a measure of cultural autonomy within the bounds of the Soviet Union’s authoritarian political control. Stalin gave the Crimea to Ukraine. That’s how Crimea came to be part of Ukraine (Crimean war, anybody? 1856 too far back in history?) Then Stalin died and not too long after he died his empire crumbled as empires tend to do without the leaders that created them.

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Throughline – Ukraine’s Dangerous Independence – March 10, 2022

What the Bolsheviks and Lenin did really for the first time, they created a separate state, a separate institutions and a separate territory for Russia, which became known as the Russian Federation. Separating, at least symbolically, for the first time Russia proper from what used to be the Russian empire. Before that, there was no such separation.

Serhii Plokhii

Russia was a creation of the Bolsheviks, not Ukraine. What is the true Russian state? That’s a good question. A better question is, can there be a true Russian state and why does it have to be just one state?

As a typically educated person in the middle of the American West I was shocked and outraged while watching all the maps I had spent so much time trying to learn and understand change overnight. So many more countries to try to keep track of. Gone were the days when the Northern half of the Eurasian continent was engulfed in a sea of red with a yellow hammer and sickle on it. What was most puzzling to me, as an outsider, was the breakup of what I had thought of as traditionally Russian countries. How could there be three Russian governments?

That is what also seems to puzzle Vladimir Putin. He has done his best to preserve as much of the historical Russian empire under some semblance of Moscow control since he took control of Russia in the 1990’s. Crushing rebellions here, subverting elections there, the kinds of things that a leader with imperial aspirations engages in.

It seems like we’ve been on tenterhooks over the subject of Ukraine forever here in the United States. I know I’ve written several articles on the subject dating back to the release of Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast #270 Poking the Bear in 2014. When Putin-backed insurgents shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine later that year, I was done listening to anyone who was sympathetic to Putin’s empire re-building effort. It was Obama’s reaction to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014 (too strong or too weak? it’s hard to say) that put us on the course to where we are now in history.

It was obvious to me then, just as it remains obvious to me now, that if the United States is a free country then its citizens can and should go where they like and agitate for change that some governments may or may not approve of. Even take up arms against governments against the sincerely expressed wishes of the United States government. If we are free, then we are free to do these things, too.

It is virtually impossible to discern the difference between a non-government organization (NGO) working for democracy and economic reform for its own unique purposes, and NGO’s that have been infiltrated by the CIA or any other nation’s intelligence service. If the intelligence services are doing their jobs properly, ALL OF THEM have been infiltrated by all of the intelligence services, and the various NGO’s should take this fact into account when they go about doing the business they are doing.

However, there remains a difference between acting in accordance with your government’s wishes, and acting on the orders of your government’s officers (where Buchanan’s predictions fail) Putin has had NGO’s working in the United States for every bit as long as any American NGO has been working in Ukraine, and it never started American’s thinking that Russia was trying to control its citizenry. We let Russia Today (RT) run unfettered promotions of Donald Trump for a year and never even thought to ask why RT loved Donald Trump so much.

The results of the NGO’s and the US government’s combined campaigns in Ukraine, stamping out corruption, un-rigging the electoral process, were that Viktor Yanukovych lost the Ukrainian Presidential elections that were called in 2014 after he acted against the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian people. In a huff, Vlad the Corrupter invaded and annexed Crimea, his preferred summer vacation spot. Queue the outrage from everyone who thought that Ukraine was Russian all along. Add to it the fearful outrage of people who will do anything to avoid a confrontation with Vladimir Putin on the international stage. Queue my exodus from Dan Carlin’s listening circle due to his clueless insistence that Pat Buchanan was some kind of a reputable psychic, as if that phrase isn’t an oxymoron in and of itself.

Vlad the Corrupter then sits and waits for the resulting storm to calm, rigging foreign elections and screwing up other governments all the while in hope of being allowed to do what he is doing right now. The invasion has taken longer to happen than I expected, that is the only surprising thing about it.

The Russian interference in the the 2016 election that put Donald Trump into the White House was one of the responses to the sanctions that President Obama imposed in 2014 after Putin annexed Crimea. We know this because Trump promised to get the sanctions lifted and then had to backtrack on the promise when it became public (the idiot never could figure out how not to say the quiet parts out loud) Fast forward to 2018 and Donald Trump’s attempt to blackmail Ukraine into playing dirty tricks in the 2020 elections lead to his first impeachment.

thebulwark.com

Ukraine just can’t seem to leave the front page. I’m sure they’d like to. Fast forward again to 2022. Putin continues his aborted invasion from 2014. He was always going to do this just like the United States was always going to invade Iraq under a Republican president. It was always the plan. Invading Ukraine was what he planned when his puppet (Paul Manafort’s buddy, Viktor Yanukovych. You remember Paul Manafort, right? Trump’s campaign chairman?) lost his election.

It is a sad historical truth that Ukraine was stupid to have ever given up it’s nukes. The preservation of Ukraine’s independence that all concerned parties signed onto (including Vlad himself) in exchange for Ukraine giving up the nukes stored inside of its national borders was just the initial move in an undeclared war. If Ukraine still had nuclear weapons we would not be seeing this invasion live on screens today. Is it really any wonder why Iran wants nuclear weapons? It should be obvious by now. If you have the ability to destroy life as we know it at your fingertips, people take you seriously. Weird how that works, isn’t it?

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Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, Zelensky said, in return for a security guarantee signed by the U.S., the U.K., and Russia. What happened to those guarantees? Ukraine had been told that the doors to NATO membership remained open, but Ukraine had never been invited inside. Because the Ukrainians are not members of NATO, they know they cannot count on allied forces to come to their support. And as for those “lessons of history” that Baerbock and other German politicians have referred to in recent days, Zelensky wondered aloud whether they had been learned: “I just want to make sure you and I read the same books.” And then, in defiance of everything that everybody else had said, he used the word appeasement, to describe not Munich in 1938, but Munich in 2022.

Anne Applebaum – theatlantic.com (gift subscription for the blog author still greatly desired)

At the end of the day, it’s going to be the Ukrainians and their bravery and their dedication to this very old idea, the idea of sovereignty, the idea of freedom. It will be their dedication to that that determines what happens.

Anne Applebaum – Rachel Maddow – Feb. 21, 2022

The fog of war has descended now. Nobody can have all the facts any longer and yet facts still remain facts and facts are generally indisputable.

Here’s a fact; Putin is behaving like a new Hitler. Hitler’s bullshit excuse for claiming the Sudetenland and starting World War Two is exactly the same language that Vladimir Putin used to claim his right to invade and occupy Ukraine. There is no other conclusion that can be made when looking at that speech made by Vlad the Corrupter. He is Hitler, and he is bent on a reconquest of historically Russian possessions with majority Russian speakers.

That is what it looks like from the UK, it’s what it looks like from France and Germany and from the Balkan states that are right now very, very thankful that they joined NATO. Putin being a twenty-first century Hitler is what it looks like when you see any Ukrainian being interviewed; whether they are in the UK worried about relatives or in Kyiv worried about what’s going to happen next. If they are being interviewed on the BBC, maybe the BBC has an agenda, maybe they don’t, but they are interviewing ordinary, regular people; people who probably would be sitting at home watching TV at that precise moment and would prefer to not be interviewed by anybody except that a lot of shit is happening right now. Shit that has forced two million Ukrainians to leave their homes in fear.

(h/t to Stuart Surridge)

Ukraine was recognized as an independent state by Russia more than 30 years ago. The Charter of Paris, signed in November 1990 by the United States, Russia and 30 European countries, established essential principles for a post-Cold War era based on international law and global norms. Subsequently, Russia, the United States and Great Britain guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in 1995 in the Budapest Memorandum.

Moscow has no more legal basis to insist on any portion of the territory of Ukraine than Germany has the right to demand the return of Alsace and Lorraine from France. If the West accepts such Russian claims, it will not only undermine the sovereignty of all countries but also invite other nations to seek territory through military force.

nbcnews.com

I would prefer that there was never another war but that has no bearing on whether Putin is an aggressor or that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was heroic when he chose to stay with his people and fight to the bitter end. If the US had supported a real leader during our fiasco in Afghanistan the Taliban would not be in power there now. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a real leader.

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Ukraine has been an independent state for thirty years. It’s President will likely give his life for his country as will many thousands of it’s men, women and children. It is time and long past time to start treating it the way we do every other country; and with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia now being separate governments today, separate governments and distinctly unique peoples, it is long past time to admit that there is no longer a Russian empire. There are just the three countries who were once the core of the empire, two of which are lead by the same cruel little spider, Vlad the Corrupter in Moscow.

All of this is aside from the fact that we, the United States government, cannot be allowed to be seen as starting a war in Europe, which is what it will look like if we were to interfere in Ukraine directly now or in the near future. What is going on in Europe is a Russian or Eastern Slavic Civil War, no different than all the other uprisings that Vlad the Corrupter has put down in the former Soviet Republics. He saw all of them as the unwanted intervention of the United States and its allies and accomplices in strictly Russian affairs. Up to this point, he has been allowed to do what he wants with these places.

spotifyCommon Sense 323 – Gas Up the Cold War – March 1, 2022

I don’t like any of this in terms of how it worked out because I don’t want a more militarized Europe, I don’t want another cold war, I don’t want the massive defense spending, I don’t want everything that this is going to entail; but I’m not the one that invaded Ukraine. Sometimes it’s not up to us what we want.

Dan Carlin

If you grew up during the Cold War you can understand why most people don’t want to return to those years, and resuming hostilities with Russia because of Vlad the Corrupter’s actions feels a lot like the cold war is starting back up again. However, this isn’t a return to the cold war if we can keep Ukraine independent and opposed to Russian control.

…And we want to avoid a return to the cold war almost as much as we want to avoid a nuclear Armageddon. That outcome would be a setback for world peace and our need for mutual cooperation on limiting climate change. The world-wide antagonism that comes with a return to a cold war footing that might as well be read as the end of life as we know it on this planet, much the same as an all-out nuclear war will spell the end of life.

It isn’t a nuclear exchange that I fear. We are already in WW3 as far as I can tell and it may well end in a nuclear exchange for all that any of us can tell. What I fear is capitulation to Russia on the one hand and the resulting rise of authoritarianism around the world that would follow; as opposed to the standard American military response that will end in a nuclear exchange at some point.

On the other end of the spectrum from Dan Carlin’s handwringing about potentially starting a nuclear war we have this:

We must not only stop what’s happening in Ukraine, we must stop it before it happens here. 

Stonekettle

We cannot go into Ukraine and fight Russians directly. That is the conflict that every nationalist everywhere has been primed to fight to the death over. Being in the war should not equate to “running the war.” We must avoid that impression at all costs if we want any chance of victory for democracy and Ukraine. This has to be, first and foremost, Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. Against Putin’s aggression, his denial of their own separate personhood as a nation. As individuals who don’t want to bow down to his criminal organization.

The United States needs to figure out how to assist Ukraine and the wider European theater of operation without making the conflict all about us. It ain’t about us. It’s about Ukrainians not wanting to belong to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. IF WE RUN THIS WAR we will lose this war. There is nothing that Russians want more than to make the United States suffer after all the suffering they’ve been through, suffering they’ve been told is at our hands for more than seventy years now.

We can not be the center. Ukraine has to be the center. More to come.


I get most of my news from NPR:

spotifyNPR – State of Ukraine

Even though I don’t link any of their podcasts in this article. Most of what they broadcast is transitory. The feeds mount up and the information becomes stale and the attempt to narrativize the information becomes unwieldy very quickly.