The destruction of political, legal and constitutional norms that is the Trump presidency almost defies description. The SCOTUS has a right to be cowardly when faced with a president like Trump. Much like Andrew Jackson, Trump wouldn’t even acknowledge a ruling by the court because he wouldn’t understand what his willingness to defy the court would mean when the next president came along.
Trump’s willingness to defy the Hatch act, his outright intention to ignore it by destaffing the office and leaving it empty for his term. He knew exactly what he was planning to do in 2016 and he didn’t want anyone getting in his way with legal arguments that he wouldn’t accept.
As for the third episode, I wrote articles about RBG and Roe. Hell, I rewrote the article about Roe three times before I finally got it right.
The article about RBG is more personal.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on what the loss of RBG meant, the thing I am left with is that the woman who had to have an abortion when we both were teenagers only had one immediate observation about the article,
How dare you call our President the Orange Hate-Monkey!
So I took out the reference, and started the process of genericising the references to Trump in all the other MAGA-tagged articles. If I want his supporters to read them, I can’t be turning them off by labeling a spade a spade. They’ll still be here needing educating long after Trump is gone.
When pressed she seemed completely unaffected by the death and didn’t think RBG did anything that warranted my being upset at about her dying. She has been trying to adopt an anti-abortion stance for at least a decade now, because she thinks that is the morally right thing to do. I don’t think she understands what that makes of her life now.
There are several things that I should explain in this editor’s note. One thing that I should explain is that I have changed phones and carriers multiple times over the last year, and consequently some of my podcast feeds got lost. Trumpconlaw was one of those feeds. I had wondered why there hadn’t been new episodes of the podcast over the summer. Radiotopia could well have tried to deliver me new episodes and the reply would have been “new phone, who dis?”
The second thing I should explain is my complete dissatisfaction with the way WordPress is dealing with embeds these days. The new functionality is apparently intentional and not a bug. This conclusion leads me to believe that I have no alternative but to get rid of the Gutenberg/Jetpack add ons for WordPress and fly solo, because I want to be able to craft the HTML code to my liking on my blog. I’ll have to ponder what direction represents forward from here.
I have modified all the previous audio links for TrumpConLaw now. Modified all the audio links and updated the articles, and am finishing up the last of the Trump articles before moving on to new things. I’m doing what everyone should do as the new year approaches.
I would like to point out that this contingency is covered. There is no need to fret about this subject. If the election is muddied to the point where there is no clear victor, then Donald Trump’s term in office still ends on January 20, 2021.
Donald Trump will not be president after that date. (especially since the election says he didn’t win. -ed.) It is a fixed point in time beyond his ability to alter. The nuclear codes will go to the next person in the line of succession. That person is also set in stone in a way that he cannot change it. The presidency will pass over the Vice President, who will also no longer be an office holder on that date, and it will come to rest on the speaker of the newly seated House of Representatives.
If there is one thing that you can rely on in this alternate reality we currently inhabit, it is that the military will follow procedure and dutifully remove the codes from Donald Trump’s hands on that date and they will hand control of the military to the next person that law dictates is his successor as president. That person will most likely be Nancy Pelosi. That is, if Joe Biden doesn’t win outright. We’ll know when the new legislature takes office.
…you think you know something and then someone asks a question that you don’t have an answer for. A contingent election?
In the United States, a contingent election is the procedure used to elect the president or vice president in the event that no candidate for one or both of these offices wins an absolute majority of votes in the Electoral College. A presidential contingent election is decided by a special vote of the United States House of Representatives, while a vice-presidential contingent election is decided by a vote of the United States Senate. During a contingent election in the House, each state’s delegation casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, rather than a vote from each representative. Senators, on the other hand, cast votes individually for vice president.
The contingent election process was originally established in Article Two, Section 1, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution. The procedure was modified by the 12th Amendment in 1804, under which the House chooses one of the three candidates who received the most electoral votes, while the Senate chooses one of the two candidates who received the most electoral votes. The phrase “contingent election” is not found in the text of the Constitution but has been used to describe this procedure since at least 1823.
Contingent elections have occurred only three times in American history: in 1801, 1825, and 1837. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees on the ticket of the Democratic-Republican party, received the same number of electoral votes. Under the procedures in place at the time, this necessitated a contingent election the following year to decide which would be president and which vice president. In 1824, the Electoral College was split between four candidates, with Andrew Jackson losing the subsequent contingent election to John Quincy Adams, despite having won a plurality of both the popular and electoral vote. In 1836, faithless electors in Virginia refused to vote for Martin Van Buren‘s vice-presidential nominee Richard Mentor Johnson, denying him a majority of the electoral vote and forcing the Senate to elect him in a contingent election.
I had heard of those three instances in history. I had never looked at how the votes are cast in the House of Representatives. Now that I’ve looked I don’t think I’ll sleep well until after December 8th or December 14th. I won’t sleep well, because the Republicans do control more states in the House than the Democrats do. Once again I’m struck with the injustice of 7 million more votes for Joe Biden not counting as a victory in and of itself.
If Trump succeeds in corrupting the vote certification process in an attempt to throw the election to the House of Representatives, all bets are off. Never mind that Donald Trump didn’t win in any real sense of the word, not even the technicality that he took the presidency with in 2016. This time he will steal the election right in front of our faces. What will we do then?
Since the Democrats do control the House of Representatives and since the vote certification can be shown to have been corrupted, I would think that the House could simply refuse to act and allow the line of succession rules to take over, as I originally theorized. It’s not like Mitch McConnell hasn’t done exactly the same thing for the last decade. I guess we’ll find out.
The Electoral College was designed to reflect the popular vote. A popular vote that depends on who is allowed to vote, and for whom.
For those of you who missed history class, or for those of you who don’t obsess about politics and elections on a regular basis, I offer this primer on the way that the United States picks its presidents and vice presidents. It is a method of selection like no other in the world. A needlessly complicated and arcane practice of voting for people who will vote for the people who will run this country, and we go through all these hurdles because of slavery. We call the result of that convoluted process the Electoral College (EC) and it still exists today, long after slavery is a thankfully distant memory.
Slavery? I hear you asking. Yes, slavery. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Or you could just listen to this episode of NPR’s Throughline.
The EC has a long and troubled history. The EC wasn’t even in the first draft of the Constitution. James Madison, who wrote the majority of the document, claimed he preferred direct election of the president by the people, but instead wrote into it that congress was to select the president. This mechanism was deemed too prone to intrigue by the members of the constitutional convention, and was seen as crippling the independence of the executive branch by making it reliant on congress. At least two of the original attendees of the convention favored direct popular election of the executive, but this idea was sacrificed even before the writing of the first draft of the document in order to make inclusion of the slave states palatable to the Northern states.
There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.
The historical fact of American slavery is something that the defenders of the EC should take heed of. The numerous slaves in the Southern states, slaves that the Southern slave owners and state representatives wanted counted as people for the purpose of apportioning representation, would have skewed the college and congress towards the South, which the North objected to. The South wanted slaves counted as people, for the purpose of representation, but not counted as people, for the purpose of profiting off of their slave labor. The impasse over the problem of representation in the legislature and at the voting booth threatened the entire constitutional convention, much like the problem of slavery threatened the possibility of American independence, not to mention the continued existence of the Union itself in 1860.
It was the invention of the three-fifths rule, a rule that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, that allowed for a compromise on representation, and through that a compromise on the election of the office of president. Changes have been made to the EC along the way from then to now, but the essence of the college itself remains the same as it was back in 1787; and that essence is a safeguard against factions having an undue sway over the selection of the President.
The concern was not that the people would pervert the process, but that the factions, the parties, were to be guarded against. This was the paramount fear in the minds of the crafters of the Union. The EC was part of the whole package of division of powers, allowing for the will of the voting population of each state to be carried directly to the then new capitol. The preservation of state power was what the EC was designed to protect, enhancing the ability of sectionalism to thwart the corrupting influence of faction.
Faction almost immediately took hold anyway.
Some states reasoned that the favorite presidential candidate among the people in their state would have a much better chance if all of the electors selected by their state were sure to vote the same way—a “general ticket” of electors pledged to a party candidate. So the slate of electors chosen by the state were no longer free agents, independent thinkers, or deliberative representatives. They became “voluntary party lackeys and intellectual non-entities.”Once one state took that strategy, the others felt compelled to follow suit in order to compete for the strongest influence on the election.
When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. According to Hamilton, the selection of the president should be “made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station [of president].” According to Hamilton, the electors were to analyze the list of potential presidents and select the best one. He also used the term “deliberate”.
The 1824 election, the first election in which the popular vote mattered, was the second time the EC failed to produce a president. Once again the House of Representatives was forced to debate and vote on presidential candidates, eventually electing John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, to the presidency. This so infuriated the winner of the popular vote in 1824, Andrew Jackson, that he broke with the party of Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) to create the Democratic party, a version of which still exists today.
The formation of the other half of the two-party factional control of the United States government came about with the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was with the election of Lincoln that the regional Republican party graduated to the national stage. Lincoln is one of four presidents who won the office while not being on the ballots in every state, and the only president to win the office while not being on the ballot in more than 5 states (he was not on the ballot in ten of the eleven slave states) he did win the EC successfully, probably because the slave states of the deep South were already pulling their support from the union and actively engaging in dissipating federal power to the several states so as to strengthen their own hands in the coming war that they were actively conspiring to start.
The electoral college is the only one where they choose their own masters.
However, the EC was set up to reflect the population of the United States as a whole. It achieved this through tying a majority of the electors from each state to the number of representatives from each state in the House of Representatives. Each district of the House being determined through the arcane process of census and redistricting, the seats apportioned based on populations within geographical regions. One elector for every seat in the House of Representatives plus one for every Senator. Add in the three electors for Washington D.C. (the same number of electors as the least populous state) and you have the number of electors in the current version of the EC, 538. It is supposed to return results that roughly equates to the vote of the majority of the population of the United States, and has done its job pretty admirably right up until the twentieth century when Congress short-circuited the representation metric that the founders set up.
How did the House upset the metric? They crafted the last in several sequential measures that set the number of seats in the legislature. The membership of the House of Representatives has been kept artificially low for most of the modern age. the number of representatives was fixed at 435 in 1911 and has remained at 435 as the population of the United States has grown exponentially. This has lead to an ever-increasing number of people represented by a single seat in congress, a ridiculous number of people that the framers would never have envisioned as acceptable. The original minimum population per house seat was 30,000; but the current representatives for the House each represent about half a million people, at least, with the higher population districts containing about three-quarters of a million people.
This is important, because this is how you get to the point where a candidate can win by well over a million votes in the popular election, and yet lose the election by electoral count. The EC is rigged against the popular vote being reflected in the makeup of the college, because the electors are not properly apportioned to the populations of the various states. For that matter, the House of Representatives no longer serves its function as a direct representation of the people, because it too is not apportioned correctly even though it was set up specifically to serve this purpose.
If the House of Representatives was allowed to grow again, as it did throughout the history of the United States, we would end up with a House that was made up of several thousand people. This may sound like a radical change to you, increasing the size of the house, but we’ll get a better representational cross-section of America if we do this and thereby end a lot of the talk about disconnected Washington politics in the process. Will it be more difficult to get important work done? I doubt that it can get more difficult than it is already. I think we will have to find that out first hand. Keep this point in mind.
So we have this thing called an Electoral College that votes for our president for us. The EC is forced to vote for the party that controls the states who appoint the electors who make up the college. These faithless elector rules were recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The size of the EC is kept artificially small because of the size restrictions set on the United States House of Representatives, resulting in neither the House or the EC reflecting the thing they were supposed to reflect, the numbers of people who live in different areas of the country, directly.
Party/faction controls everything in the United States today and nothing can be done without one of the two parties holding a majority in both houses of the legislature both in the several states and in the federal government. Even if the parties manage to hold both houses, the president from another party can still keep the nation at a standstill if all they control is the presidency itself. One man who keeps the United States from doing its business both at home and abroad.
It is damnably unfortunate for the sane people who live in the United States that the Republican party is demonstrably insane, and is being led by someone who either does believe or pretends to believe insane things. It is even more unfortunate that the Republican party has rigged the census and the districts that are currently in effect to favor their insane party leadership.
It is of small comfort to the 240,000 COVID dead Americans that the current governmental travesty is not even the first time in twenty years that this kind of miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the system worked as it was intended, then as a general rule the electors would reflect almost perfectly the will of the people who vote in a presidential election. But the system is being held hostage by parties that see their interests as more important than the interests of the population as a whole, even the populations that they are supposed to represent directly. They hold all the keys to the power that supposedly resides in the people themselves, and we have to take it back from them while we still have a country that is worth saving.
These parties/factions will stop at nothing to get into power, that is the reason that they exist. The reason that they were created in the first place. Party has replaced intellect and reason. We have become a nation of political face painters with no more understanding of the systems that supposedly rely on our input than our pets understand the workings of a can opener. Idiocracy was too real to be funny. The Trump presidency has proven this to me several times over now. The parties tell us to wag our tails, and we wag away expecting to be fed, never understanding that we could work the mechanisms ourselves if we simply stood up and used the political voice that is guaranteed to us by law.
The thing I learned from listening to that episode of Throughline that I linked earlier is that the EC was almost removed from the constitution by amendments twice in our history. Once, when the changes in 1800 were worked out, and the second time when we almost got George Wallace as a president instead of Richard Nixon (Now, there is an alternative history that I’m glad to not be in) As recently as 2018, Elizabeth Warren and other notables have called for the elimination of the EC. Fixing the election system is doable, if only we make it clear that what we want is everyone to be included and everyone to be heard by someone who represents them.
The EC has failed to do its job. It has failed to justify its inclusion in the fabric of American society, three-fifths compromise notwithstanding. With the 2016 travesty in the rear-view mirror it becomes painfully obvious that we either must amend the constitution to remove the EC, legislatively render it toothless in every state legislature in the US, or modify the structure that dictates its size and representation. One of these three things must occur. Several states have already passed the legislation mandating the popular vote outcome.
If we cannot render the EC toothless legislatively, and if we cannot amend it out of the constitution replacing it with the direct election of the president by the population of the United States, then what we have to do is the easier thing that I alluded to earlier. We influence our representatives to do the thing they can do for us and themselves, and it’s part of the job we send them to Washington D.C. to do in the first place. They should legislate an increase in the size of the House of Representatives, and through that increase negate the corrupting influences of faction and money.
What the study and report above shows is exactly what I said. The imposed limitation of 435 members placed on congress by congress itself is the limiting factor for gaining more influence over our representatives, for gaining an equitable voice in electing our president. This is one of the easiest things to fix, and it would fix the EC at the same time. With one simple bill introduced in congress we could increase the size of the congress and reduce the numbers of us per representative. We could make the representatives more focused on communicating with their much smaller groups of constituents, and be much more replaceable by those same groups.
A constituent base of 30,000 people means that my specific region of Austin would have their own representative in congress. A larger congress would be impossible to control externally by factional politics. It would lead to the formation of regional parties and a dilution of power in Washington D.C. We’d need to build facilities to house the additional several thousand representatives, which will be a windfall for the states and Washington itself. I don’t see how this works out as bad in any real way.
So rather than paying more money to influence my congressman, vying for influence with dollars I do not have, I propose we pay the congressmen less money and multiply their number by about a magnitude. Require them to listen to us if they want to keep their jobs. As a bonus, the EC will increase in size and we won’t see a repeat of this last election again. Pick one of those three options and work towards it, if you want to save this country from itself.
This is an update to the 2016 piece that I wrote anticipating that the EC could be made to do its job when Donald Trump had appeared to win the EC vote, even though three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. I expected that a majority of EC members would rebel and cast their votes for some other candidate rather than either of those two. I would have taken John Kasich at the time. At least he had a working brain, unlike Trump, and wasn’t hated by every conservative in the country, unlike Hillary Clinton. My hopes were dashed and there was no rebellion. The sheep that were put in place to vote for their party’s nominee bleated, and we got President Donald Trump for four years.
On the Dan Carlin Facebook group, a former moderator of the old BBS posted this little tidbit of a text string,
The real issue is not to that trump and Biden are the same, it’s that their differences don’t matter.
If you lived in Gaul or Hispania or Bythnia or Alexandria, The correct answer to Marius or Sulla is neither.
The corruption on display by Biden and Trump cannot be fixed by Your Guy.
Disempower DC. Let Oregon be a progressive. Let Mississippi be conservative.
It is the only hope to prevent the violence that will not be worth it, even if you win.
nmoore63, The Ponderous Right-Winger
We go way back, Nick and I, as if in saying “way back” you mean quiet but firmly militant enforced tolerance of disparate beliefs that are violently at odds under the surface. Kind of like the various ethnic groups kept together under the pressure of a dictatorship, now released to tell each other what they really think. Of course, I had to respond to this tasty bit of bait.
The belief that Biden is corrupt is where you stumble into the bullshit. There is no proof, none whatsoever, that Biden is corrupt. Even if there was, he hasn’t been a tax cheat all of his adult life and Trump has. He hasn’t defrauded his contractors since the 1980’s and Trump has. Joe Biden isn’t a racist, and Trump is. Joe Biden isn’t a populist, and Trump is.
Trump wants to be Marius or Sulla, a Caesar or Tsar, except Donald Trump doesn’t have the balls to do the work. Joe Biden isn’t even trying to be a dictator, so making that comparison with him is pointless.
The list of differences is nearly infinite. I have zero patience for people who want to pretend that Biden is the same as Trump or that the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. They aren’t. The similarities between Democrats and Republicans ends at the point where the parties have both inserted themselves into the framework of the country and shouldn’t be there. After that point, their goals diverge, as is demonstrated on a daily basis.
Republicans want to keep voter turnouts low, because that is what has worked for the oligarchy in the past, and they are the oligarchs that profited from discouraging voter turnout in days gone by. Over and over the points add up and the Republicans are the ones who are responsible for most of the problems today, because they took on those problems when they invited the Dixiecrats into their fold.
In four years the story may well be different. But as long as the Republican party remains the racist, fascist creation of Donald Trump, I will be a Democrat. The problem is Trump and his supporters, not the Democrats and the rest of the human race. If you don’t understand this point by now, you probably never will.
I get it. I really do. You think that the states can go it alone if we only let them have a free-er hand. That is your anarchist beliefs talking. Anarchism is a dysfunction of the mental processes, it is not (not) a philosophy. If it was a philosophy there would be more to it than just believing you should be free to do as you please. The Zero-Aggression Principle (ZAP) or whatever your particular flavor of anarchism amounts to is not a philosophy. It isn’t a philosophy because aggression among humans is unavoidable.
In the end, when words fail, it comes to force. Anyone (anyone) who has lived long enough to raise their own children knows this fact. If they deny it, they are lying to themselves and to you. You doubt this? Your child is running towards the street and oncoming traffic. Do you stop them before they get run over? If so, you have used force to get your way. You have aggressed against your child. So much for anarchism. So much for the ZAP, it was zapped by parental concern. As it should have been.
So here you are, willing to use force to get your way, and you want me to believe that you won’t use it to get your way in most other situations where you think you’re right. You’ll use force, if that is what it comes to. This is human nature, and I’ve had a lot to say about the subject of human nature in my many years of blogging.
When this country (the United States) started there had never been any government quite like it before in history. There was Greece and it’s Athenian direct democracy, and then Rome and it’s vaunted (but largely powerless) Senate. But there hadn’t been a new government formed that was based solely on the words written on parchment.
A solid majority of the people who migrated here were aware of parliaments, but those nations they came from had kings and other forms of nobility that held the power. The American colonies were the first to fall to the new ideas of the enlightenment, followed closely by a few other countries that were remarkable in their spectacular failures more than they were remarkable in their successes.
The ideas of faction were nascent then. Poorly understood, loosely equated with the political parties of the time and a thing that the founders of the United States wrote about in the most ominous tones. But even they fell into factions shortly after the first election that gave us George Washington. Factions that were firmly in place by the time that Thomas Jefferson unseated John Adams and became the third president of the United States.
Faction, it turns out, is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean that we have to encode factions into the body politic. We don’t have to suffer them dictating policy on the whim of their supporters, reversing from election to election. We can remove them from the system, just like has been done in California, the only state that has so far done the work that needs to be done to divorce government from factional infighting.
How is this done, you ask? Jungle primaries and representative districts that are drawn by a non-partisan commission. That is how it was done in California and it will work in every state in the United States if the people of those states would agree that was what they wanted. So we take over the Democrats, because the Republicans are already off on a fool’s errand of vanishing returns, and then we make the system sound by passing state legislation that ends gerrymandering, institutes jungle primaries and mandates public financing for all elections.
With those measures in place every dollar that gets into a representatives hands from outside the government will be criminal and prosecutable. Their parties will be largely irrelevant aside from the issues the party represents. Whoever best represents an area will be the representative because there won’t be a corrupting influence involved in drawing the districts. It’s a long haul, but we can do it. We can do it forty-nine times (or fifty-one, or a hundred and fifty-one) if that is what it takes, because we, the Democrats, will have the majority. We will have the majority and we will maintain the majority for as long as the Republicans continue to pursue a vanishing, white, evangelical electorate.
For Republicans to win in the nation these efforts will create, they will have to actually change. There is little chance of conservatives ever embracing that liberal notion.
Maddow speaks to AOC last night on her news program.
In that clip, and in other segments in the show, Rachel and her guests seem to be incapable of understanding what it is that Trump and McConnell are doing right now. She uses the phrase politically inexplicable several times. This is an incorrect assessment.
Telling Americans and their representatives in the House and Senate of the legislature that they won’t get coronavirus aid until after Trump’s SCOTUS nominee is confirmed is politically explicable, if you understand that the Republicans are fighting on a different battlefield than the rest of the country is fighting on.
The battlefield that the Republicans are willing to die on is the battlefield where they turn the United States, through control of its courts, into a Christianist country perfectly aligned with the prosperity gospel dogma espoused by their evangelical base. The dogmatic anti-abortion hordes that were created by Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority, promoted to power by Ronald Reagan, that went into resistance mode under Newt Gingrich and then the Tea Party, and are now given voice my Mitch Mcconnell and the last, dying coronavirus-infected gasp of Donald Trump. They are demonstrably ready to die on that battlefield, and they are determined to take us with them.
V.P. Pence’s attitude towards Kamala Harris and the extra COVID-19 precautions that the council on debates has proposed confirm this assertion of mine. He is quite likely a super spreader himself now, since he spends so much time sucking Donald Trump’s cock in their private meetings. It is only a matter of days before he too shows a positive coronavirus test result, and he’ll get the same gold-star treatment that is reserved for the politically powerful in the United States of today. This is the country that America’s evangelicals have been working towards since 1978. Do you like it?
The war the rest of us are fighting is the one where the coronavirus is destroying our country with the president’s help. The president that has done nothing but pander to his evangelical, white nationalist base since he took office. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given them all one last chance to lock in the changes to our government that they have been seeking for more than forty years now. They think that with six solid conservative votes on the SCOTUS they will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their Christianist efforts, establishing the dogmatic supremacy that the evangelical faith was established to produce more than a hundred years ago.
Liberals should not capitulate. The Democratic party should continue blocking the efforts to replace RBG with Amy Coney Barrett. She, like Kavanaugh and Thomas, has no business being on the highest court in the land, much less being there for the next sixty or seventy years. Her willingness to subvert fact with dogma precludes her from ever being suitable for the federal bench, at all. Do not give in and allow them to fast track the corruption of our courts. If the Senate confirms no more judges until after next January 20th it will be a service to the country, even if that service comes at the cost of more lives destroyed by the coronavirus. Don’t do anything, if that’s what it takes. I’m betting the conservatives will blink first. Especially once the coronavirus finishes working its way through the ranks of Washington elites.
My response in 2006 went something like “Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did reverse it.” I’m beginning to suspect that I overestimated their intelligence on this particular subject. There has been a veritable deluge of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade in the last decade, not to mention the war that conservatives are waging on Planned Parenthood in the mistaken belief that Planned Parenthood is where all abortions occur in the United States.
As the writing appears on the wall in this final gasp of American conservatism, the soon to be disempowered Republican party continues to slice parts of itself off in an orgy of self-congratulation. It seems that throwing all their morals out the window and voting for a confirmed con-artist, philanderer and pathological liar requires them to double down on their debunked claims to a moral high ground. They are convinced that if they only pass one more law they’ll finally be able to get rid of the medical procedure, abortion, by overturning Roe. They also seem to think that they’ll stop women from using birth control or morning after pills. I think they should stop while they are ahead.
Ahead you ask? How are they ahead? The answer is as demonstrable as the the lack of a moral high ground was in the previous paragraph. Roe was a conservative decision based on science and the law back when it was decided in 1973. It was and is conservative because it represented a partial step towards granting women the same bodily autonomy that men enjoy, before there was a detectable change in the woman’s body, while protecting the state’s interest in making sure that the maximal number of new citizens is born to each new generation of women. The state’s interest is expressed in those terms and in only those terms.
Abortion wasn’t even a hot button issue back in 1973 when Roe was decided. Several churches and leaders of the time signed on to allowing abortion to spread across the nation as a legitimate medical procedure back then. It wasn’t until the birth of the Moral Majority in response to the changes in the American family and the threat to the subjugation of women that the Equal Rights Amendment represented that Abortion became the focal point of American conservatism. American conservatism that was being used like a sock puppet by the Christianist right.
That episode of NPR’s Throughline covers how abortion was turned into the issue that it is today by Jerry Falwell and his merry band of Moral Majority pranksters. This article isn’t about Christianists and Christianism and why the rest of us who live in the United States should be opposed to everything that Christianists want to do to our country. They are important issues, but this article is about a medical procedure, abortion, and what banning that procedure does to the citizenry in general and women in particle. Why we as average citizens should be opposed to the banning of abortion that modern American conservatism is based on.
Access to healthcare is a woman’s right. There really isn’t any question about this because access to healthcare, a combined investment by the society at large as well as individuals caught up in the various healthcare systems across the globe, is every human’s right. This right is established through the fact that each person born came from someone who in some way contributed to the current status of medical knowledge and the existing medical infrastructure. People come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from other people. People created the healthcare system over generations, and this basic fact grants later generations access to the combined knowledge of their forebears on what should be an equal basis. An equality that is currently being denied to most people living today, but that observation is also a digression from the specific point I’m trying to make with this article.
Abortion is a medical procedure, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. As a medical procedure, abortion should be available to anyone who wants one, end of story. Or rather, it would be the end of the story if men had to carry the next generation in their bodies in the same way women do. But that isn’t how nature set procreation up. Nature put the bearing of young on women’s backs, not men’s backs. This left the women at home while the men formed hunting parties. It left them at home caring for children while the men created the first governments. It left the women at home changing and washing diapers while men learned professions and took jobs outside the house. Because of these historical facts, men today vy for access to a women’s reproductive organs, by violence if necessary, and then try to keep their unwanted progyny in the woman’s body by force of law since they, the men, set up that law through their control of government.
Men do not face the kinds of obstructions that women do in life. There is no litmus test for young men like there is for young women. No one asks men if they are planning to have children. No one hiring a man for work worries about the man getting pregnant and having to be absent from work. Women are by default subjected to these kinds of stigma because they are the ones that keep Homo Sapiens Sapiens a going concern. Without them there would be no future humans to buy all the stuff that H.S. Sapiens is obsessed with producing.
No one expects men to reveal whether they’ve had a vasectomy. No one wants to hold men accountable for wasting potential life every time they masturbate (no one who is sane does, anyway) their privacy is respected, even when it comes to making decisions about whether they will have children or not. This is not true of women.
Women’s health is fraught with demands to know things about their physical being that a man would never, ever, put up with. “She’s on the rag.” “You look fat.” “your tits are too small.” “When are you due?” the intrusions into their personal privacy defy any attempt at comparison to the way men are treated in public. The next time a man loses his shit in public, ask him if he’s played with himself recently. Go ahead, I dare you.
In Western medicine hysteria was considered both common and chronic among women. The American Psychiatric Association dropped the term hysteria in 1952. Even though it was categorized as a disease, hysteria’s symptoms were synonymous with normal functioning female sexuality. In extreme cases, the woman may have been forced to enter an insane asylum or to have undergone surgical hysterectomy.
There is a right to privacy in the constitution, and the reason this right exists even though it isn’t enumerated is itself a function of constitutional jurisprudence. Political pundits talk about how abortion is a litmus test for potential Supreme Court justices. If there really were a litmus test when it comes to abortion, it ought to be the constitution that forms it since the constitution is what they swear to uphold. The test could be formed of a single question with two possible answers. What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution? The answer to this question could be either unenumerated personal rights and/or limited government power. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a right to privacy, of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. They demonstrably do not understand the document that they will be sworn to protect.
Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy in jurisprudence. The findings of all of the cases that involve privacy since that case rely on the findings of Roe for their justification. The court will have to find some other basis for privacy as a right in any form if they hope to preserve privacy after reversing Roe. Yes, the prospect of reversal of that judicial precedent is that far-reaching. To reverse it is to make us all wards of the state and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the multi-national corporations null and void. Pick one. Outlaw abortion or lose your ability to talk to your doctor or attorney in confidence.
Evidence for life
Proving something in court requires that you produce evidence for your claims. First you have to prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live, and not just autonomic responses. Breath is the baseline for determining whether human life is present. Without breath there is no voice to speak up in protest. Without breath there is no human life that medicine or science can document. Without breath there isn’t a soul, as your own religious document states.
After you do that you still aren’t done. You still have to show how you will preserve that life without harming the life of the mother-to-be, and by harm I mean economic as well as physical or emotional harm. If you did all of that, you might have a telling argument. Failing to do any one of those things will put you back at where we started this entire fiasco. Individual choice. The woman decides if she will have a child, and that means right up to the day before delivery as far as legal arguments are concerned.
Keeping abortion legal does protect the life of the real, live woman whose body you want to use as a government-mandated incubator. Women die during pregnancy and childbirth, all the time. Savita Halappanavar died an unnecessary death in horrible pain due to Ireland’s (since repealed) ban on all abortions. This will happen here too if abortion is banned. Underaged girls get pregnant. Rape and incest figure into these pregnancies. Will you inflict further harm on girls who have already been violated by someone close to them by forcing them to carry those pregnancies to term? Some of them will die during pregnancy and childbirth. Just exactly what limits will you set in your pursuit of protecting the life of the unborn? How many women will die because of your crusade? It should be your job to count them all. All of those lost lives will be the blood on your hands. May you have better luck than Pontius Pilate had in removing that blood.
Anti-abortionists are now attempting to change the basis for evidence in legal arguments through their promotion of judges to higher seats on the bench in the United States. Judges who are just fine with not forcing claimants to prove that there is a human life being taken with every abortion. This is far, far more dangerous a move than just reversing Roe would be. That way lies inquisition and its many, many victims as Christianists look to destroy the impure in their midst, the impure that probably don’t even exist. If we want to maintain courts as the bastion of common decency that they are in the United States today, we cannot allow them to weaken evidentiary rules.
The stage is set for the final act of this farce. The farce that started when the Moral Majority decided to make America a christian country and set about forcing their beliefs about the nature of existence on the rest of us. The problem for them remains the same problem that the United States Supreme Court faced back in 1973. Namely, if they force women to carry every pregnancy to term, who pays for that? Who pays for those children’s futures? Who makes sure that they have equal access to the benefits of society right alongside every wealthy, wanted child?
Who Pays? Well, We All Will
Your taxes will be raised to cover those costs. Don’t bother to try to disagree, this is written into the constitution. Brown v. Board of Education outlines the bare bones of what will be required of the general public if women are forced to carry every pregnancy to term. Equal schools for all those children. Equal access to healthcare. Equal access to the courts will ensure that this prediction will play out as I describe. Trillions will be spent.
Not just on schools and medical facilities, things we should probably be investing in anyway, but also on police and investigative capacity. Every woman will have to be registered as soon as they have their first period. They will have to be registered as a potential mother so that they can be properly tracked. Don’t say this won’t happen, it has already happened in Missouri and in Donald Trump’s concentration camps. Sexual activity will have to be monitored to make sure that no one attempts to prevent a pregnancy. This task will require a police force the likes of which has never been seen before in history. The Handmaid’s Tale only hints at the depths of depravity that will be required to insure that no pregnancy is terminated, ever.
That is what reversing Roe will entail. But it only begins there. The current thinking for who will pick up the tab for all these new children amounts to making the men who father them pay for them. As if men are made of money and all you have to do is tap them like a Maple tree and they’ll ooze more money than any number of children will require. Most men are too shiftless to be willing to work to support the results of every orgasm they experience. Considering the thousands of times the average male masturbates in a given lifetime, this is understandable. Most men are unwilling to devote themselves to raising children through their own direct effort. This has been my experience as a dad who spent two years at home raising his second child. Most men that I have revealed this fact to have been incredulous that I would waste my time in that fashion. As if crafting the minds and bodies of the next generation of humans was work that wasn’t of prime importance to every currently living person.
Equality will not be achieved by enslaving the men unlucky enough to be caught fathering children. They will never produce enough to pay the costs of raising those children properly. The failure to produce funds to guarantee equality will result in the taxpayer having to fund the shortfall. This means your taxes will go up, and up, and up…
…if you ban abortion. Someone has to pay for these children, and the full faith and credit of the US government will require that the taxpayer eventually pays that bill.
Should men carry their share of the weight? Certainly. Should we leave children in the hands of women who don’t believe they are people and don’t want them? No. Should we force the fathers to share the poverty with these women and their unwanted children? No. Shall we then confiscate children from parents that cannot raise them? Make them wards of the state and then task the state with making sure they have the best life possible? Seems to me we probably shouldn’t even begin to head down that road, the road that is labeled banning abortion. That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make since this subject was forced into my personal space as a teenager, witnessing the misfortune of people who didn’t pay attention in health class. Someone will pay for the stupidity, eventually.
If, on the other hand, I were trying to craft political positions for the movers and shakers on the issue of abortion. If I were asked to advise them on the subject of whether to support this or that bill limiting women’s access to healthcare (as far-fetched as that notion would be) I would tell them to insist on a quid pro quo arrangement.
“Fine, I’ll support your interference in the health and family decisions of the average woman in exchange for legislation that guarantees that there will be no homeless children in our state. Legislation that insures no children go without meals or beds to sleep in or whatever level of education they prove themselves capable of working towards. Either we agree on this equal exchange, or I will torpedo your bill with every legislative trick that I can muster.”
That would be my advice. Anti-abortionists claim to be pro-life. It should be beholden on them to prove that they really are pro-life by making every child a wanted child, every child a child with a home, every child a child who is not hungry. Either that, or they can just admit that abortion is sometimes necessary and give up the whole idea of interfering in a woman’s right to choose. They are, after all, the shiftless men I’m talking about.
Punishment is where the entire roller coaster ride of anti-abortion sentiment goes off the rails. The moment that anti-abortionists decided to punish women for their promiscuity with forcing them to raise children they don’t want, they crossed an unforgivable line in the sand. Children are not punishment, and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment. Infants become adults, people with rights they can assert for themselves, and those people will take their dissatisfaction with their unwanted lives out on the rest of us.
This experiment has been tried in recent history and the results are known. Ask Nicolae Ceaușescu how well that worked out for him (another dictator that Trump would have loved) You can’t, because all those unwanted childrendragged him out of office and killed him. That is what has happened before when an authoritarian government attempted to make women raise children they didn’t want. If avoiding that fate means abortion is legal for the full term of a woman’s pregnancy then so be it.
All of the alternatives to the decision handed down in Roe v. Wade will be far less satisfying for anti-abortionists and Christianists than the status quo is right now. Over and over, looking at possible outcomes from reversing Roe, making abortion illegal, reveals that the current arrangement is most likely the best deal that those people can hope for because the chances that women will stop having abortions and stop having sex are almost nil, and that in itself represents a nightmare than men wake up screaming from anyway. Roe v. Wade was a conservative decision, far more conservative than what the status quo will be after the precedent is reversed, no matter which way the country goes after that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The common refrain when abortion on demand became the law of the land was that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. The question that has never been answered has always been “what is the number that is rare?” I say let women decide. For themselves. For the Christianists out there in the audience: settle for the limited control you have now or potentially lose everything you currently cherish about American life. Because after women take back their rights to their own bodies, they are going to come after your other religious beliefs one by one, and people like me will encourage them to do so. Stop while you’re ahead.
You demand this life be born to appease you miserable vengeful god, but you then abdicate any responsibility for it whatsoever. Life begins at conception and ends at birth, well, at least society’s responsibility for it. To you, “sacred” means life must be born, no matter the consequences, and then it can die in the dirt and it’s not your problem. You would force life into the world, but shrug off any responsibility to build a better world for it.
I was wondering when we would cross this threshold. It is tragic, the numbers of dead Americans, Americans who did not need to die but died anyway because Donald Trump is the most inept and useless person ever to hold public office, let alone hold the office of the President of the United States.
If you look closely at the featured image you will notice in the lower corner the number of cases and deaths worldwide. (Google link for current data) We have 4.25% of the world’s population, but have nearly 20% of COVID deaths worldwide. Think about what that statistic means.
We are the world’s richest country. We have a medical system that the rest of the world comes to when they need cancer treatment or cutting edge organ transplants or other kinds of rare surgery. But when it comes to basic epidemiology, we fail utterly at protecting our own people from a VIRUS.
This failure is due to a lack of effective leadership, and the leader of this country is Donald Trump. He is to blame for every, single needless death. Every one of them. If you vote for Donald Trump, you are voting for the murderer of 200,000 of your fellow Americans. He killed them as surely as if he took a knife and sliced their throats open himself, because he knew how bad this virus was in February and did not do anything to stop its spread until March when it became clear that the United States was going to see huge infection rates soon.
His newly appointed pandemic Czar and his new pandemic policy, herd immunity, will kill between two million and six million Americans if it is allowed to follow the natural course that they have set in motion. As I said previously, if all those deaths could be limited to Stormtrumpers then I would call that death toll justice served. But it won’t be just Donald Trump’s supporters who die. Everyone will know someone close to them who will have died from this disease. Everyone.
There is no choice in the election for President on November 3rd. There is only more Trump insanity and the destruction of our once great nation in the process, or sanity and a continued United States represented in the form of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I will be voting for sanity. I hope the rest of you will be too.
For as long as the press has existed, it has been shambling and imperfect and improvisational. At our best we get things right on average, and incrementally, with a lot of getting things wrong along the way. Most of us in this business do our imperfect best. But any hope of doing better depends on the ability to learn. Soon the clock will show 6:00 a.m. once more; the alarm will start blaring “I Got You Babe” another time. This day, we can do better.
I made the Groundhog Day comparison more than a year ago.
May 13th of 2018, to be precise. Practicing due diligence I should also note that Stonekettle proposed Bedazzled as the film that embodied America under Trump, and it’s inability to cope with the onslaught of abuse and bullshit that Trump’s America embodies. More broadly, he was making the point that you vote for the other guy if the guy that is currently leading the country is so bad at his job that even a vacant office would probably do a better job than he is doing. That seeking power for power’s sake should be a category of exclusion for political office.
The media that James Fallows at The Atlantic is lambasting is simply a part of Trump’s America. Everyone is running around virtually clueless about what is news these days because the firehose of bullshit from the White House never gives them a chance to look up and notice that they are about to drown in bullshit. The media have been trained over years of servicing the metric of who is paying attention? and how many people are paying attention? Trained to produce the click-baitiest headlines and content that they can improvise, and to go where the will-o-the-wisp of viral scandals takes them.
Doing so under the leadership of a creature like President Trump is to follow the Judas goat into the slaughterhouse. unless you want to be killed, following the judas goat or the bellwether is a pretty stupid thing to do. The people who point to their opponents and call them sheeple might have a point if they weren’t so dedicatedly heading down their own road to slaughter. Newspapers and television stations, as well as news websites, should make a point not to follow the trends, not to film where all the eyes are pointed, if they want to survive the dystopian hell we find ourselves in today. It is the news outlets that tell you true things that you don’t already know that are really generating news. The rest of the pack are nothing more than ambulance chasers.
There should be no articles in the media that contain the words Donald Trump Says at this late date in the game. Donald Trump says a lot of things, almost all of them bullshit. Repeating what he says, even listening to what he says, is a waste of time. I know, I know, the media have to keep track of that stuff, and I think that the heroes over at the Washington Post should get the congressional medal of honor for cataloging Trump’s lies. The guys who tape the presidential documents back together for the archive should join them in getting a medal. But the majority of Americans do not care what the bastard says from minute to minute. Trust me. We don’t need to know once he isn’t in office anymore.
Today’s political news can be boiled down to two major points. Some variant of these two headlines should be on every paper, television station and website in the United States. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, ad nauseum until election day. Which two headlines?
The first one should be a running tally of the number of COVID dead in the United States and an underscoring of just how many tens of thousands of deaths could have been avoided had President Trump simply done the job that he took an oath to do. This should be hammered home, again, and again, and again until Trump’s approval numbers start to flag.
The other headline should be variants of this one,
Stories that detail exactly how fucking bad the economy is for the average American. Stories about people losing their homes. Stories about people who are starving. Stories about people who haven’t got a pot to piss in because of President Trump, but they mysteriously will still vote for him this year because they think that Satanists (AKA, Democrats) are having sex with and eating children, and that Joe Biden will initiate the race war that will deliver the United States to the brown-skinned people who really aren’t Americans.
The #MAGA: Qanon Fantasies are just an extension of the Satanic panic of the 90’s. There is no there there. The nitpicking about the politics of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden is nothing more than sour grapes. America wants to return to the Obama years, back when we could go to a movie theater and watch a movie in a crowd and laugh and not worrying about dying in two weeks from a virus you picked up there. The years when the vast majority of Americans could actually afford to go to the theater, or a restaurant or just be able to buy food. America longs for the Obama years and so picked Joe Biden as the nominee to run against the butcher of brown children. The plague-carrying chef that just can’t stop himself from baking his shit into every meal he serves up. Against that backdrop, Joe Biden is a bright spring morning. The kind of day you used to wake up to and be thankful to be alive.
Anyone who votes for Donald Trump and are themselves not wealthy con artists is a fool. Donald Trump is the president of con artists, the kind of con artists that run evangelical churches all across America. Those are his people. His Stormtrumpers.
Stormtrumpers are so afraid of socialism that they will conspire with socialist dictators in order to stop the Democrats from creating American socialism. Never mind that they can’t define what socialism is, they know they are afraid of it and they won’t vote for someone who labels themselves a socialist (this is why Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee. -ed.) Rudy, how far you have fallen. Russia, China and the rest of the enemies of American-styled liberal democracies are working as hard as they can to make sure Trump wins re-election. They want the United States to come apart at the seams. They, like the proud boys they sponsor, want the boogaloo get started. They want us fighting each other and not noticing them as they crack down on their own populations.
We cannot allow this to happen. We have to put our backs to the wheel and get this country back on the road before the zombie hordes catch up to the bus we are traveling in. If we are overrun, then nothing stands between average people and the criminal element that Donald Trump empowers. Vladimir Putin is the poster child for these criminal enterprises, and he hopes to lead a world-wide organization of mobsters that will continue to live amidst wealth while the common people starve. Then we will have the future that George Orwell predicted, just a few short decades after 1984. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would love to be able to indoctrinate their subject peoples to believe whatever silly thing they decree. Xi Jinping is already do it to the Uyghurs.
We need to redefine what politics is in this country. We cannot afford to have half of the country sitting on their hands when it comes time to pick leaders. To paraphrase a podcaster that I listened to recently, “Politics is not a marriage. Politics is public transportation.“ Candidates are just the transportation that you take to get closer to your political goals. You don’t have to spend your entire life with that person, picking up after them, washing their laundry, reminding them where they left their phone and their keys. You just have to acknowledge that they make the right noises and that they have historically acted in a fashion that confirms that the noises they make a generally truthful, and then you vote for the candidate and hope they don’t embarrass or betray you before they leave office.
…if your vote didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be working so damned hard to keep you from exercising it. Get your ass to the polls, no matter what.
In pontoon boats, sailboats and yachts flying “Trump 2020” flags, hundreds took to Lake Travis on Saturday in a boat parade in support of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign — but some boats were swamped by choppy water and needed rescue.
I had heard about the Trump Boat Parade and the trouble it was having, but I was feeling so poorly that I didn’t even bother to look up why dozens of boats were floundering and sinking in Lake Travis. I mean, what is this all about? Why are boats sinking in Lake Travis? I almost dismissed the whole thing as a hoax. Then I saw the pictures.
I’ve sailed a bit myself over the years. I’ve sailed mostly on small sailboats that can’t be sunk without first being holed. I’ve sailed (boated?) on motorboats, trolling for fish with my father. I’ve seen conditions like this on various lakes many, many times over my years of infatuation with all things nautical. Do you know what you do when the water looks like this? You stay home and you don’t sail/fish that day. It is as simple as that.
What you don’t do is put your boat in the water with a bunch of other boats and try to sail in tight formation. What happens when you do something as stupid as this is, you lose your boat. These people? These people are the poster children for people with more money than sense. Proof positive that we don’t live in a meritocracy in the United States. If we did, these idiots would be wards of the state.