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On complaints from old white guys

The Abilene Reporter-News

Opinion by John Powell – Yesterday 1:13 PM

In two recent opinion articles in the Reporter News, the authors complained about the general state of affairs in our country.

©. John D. Powell

One writer (March 3) suggested that immorality and the decline in religious belief were undermining our democracy. He included a list of things he considered immoralities.

The other author (March 17) included a laundry list of Republican talking points blaming Biden and Democrats for everything he found objectionable. He trivialized climate change as our new focus of worship, though he won’t be around to see its consequences.

He concluded with the tired old statement, “We want our country back.” 

Both authors suggest a return to a set of values and a worldview from years past. Those values worked well for some people.

I am a 72-year-old white guy, and I, along with the two authors, benefitted greatly from that past era. However, we now live in a larger, more connected, more inclusive world, and it is imperative that we make room for others at the table of opportunity, not just people like me.

The world always has been diverse, but those of us in charge did not acknowledge or make much room for that diversity. Now, finally, we are. Our society is haltingly making room for women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations, people with disabilities, and a host of others who historically were not granted the same rights and privileges as those in charge.

Those are good changes, but even good changes can be painful and messy.

One of my primary disagreements with both authors is not that they express opinions different from mine. They are free to do that. My concern is that they focused mostly on symptoms, not problems. Focusing on symptoms alone will not solve problems.

Several years ago, the engine in my son’s car started blowing smoke. I’m not a mechanic, so I talked to one. After describing the sound and the smoke, he said, “You blew a head gasket.” The smoke was the symptom. It was alarming and annoying, but no amount of attention to the symptom was going to fix the problem. 

These two articles identified lots of smoke.

Some of the smoke comes from white Christian privilege. Most of us over 50 grew up in the middle of Christian privilege and didn’t know it. It was simply the way things were. We sat through prayers read over the loudspeaker just before morning announcements at school. We prayed before football games thinking it might keep players from injury. We admired manger scenes on courthouse lawns. It took court rulings to remind us that we are a representative democracy, not a Christian theocracy.

There was a lot of other smoke in the form of blaming others for being immoral and uncivil. Some of their examples are indeed symptomatic of significant social problems, but social problems don’t arise because people simply decide to be immoral or uncivil. Such problems typically arise when people feel powerless.

Many of us who grew up with white male privilege have decided along the way that our personal rights and privileges are more important than the common good. Too often we ask, “How will this affect me?” without much consideration for how it will affect those more vulnerable. Over time, the system has been structured to favor us, not others. 

Gradually, that’s changing. There are still setbacks because old white guys don’t yield their power easily. We’re not comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re not accustomed to being confronted by people  not like us. You know, women, people of color, LGBT folks, people of other religions, people from outside our borders. We are especially not comfortable with their anger.

When I hear the anger, it’s easy for me to get defensive. I might even blame those making all the noise for not being adequately grateful for living in this great country. I have to remember, however, that many of them do not live in the same great country I do. They live within the same borders, but not with the same privileges, opportunities, or access. They live with a set of worries and threats and unwritten laws that are foreign to me. 

I need to be willing to listen to the anger, to make the effort to see the world from their perspective and to give up the illusion that I deserve a place at the table more than they do.

If I can’t do those things, I become part of the problem.

John Powell lives in Abilene.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: On complaints from old white guys

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  • 09-28-18

Impeachment is rare but possible.

BY MELISSA LOCKER1 MINUTE READ

If you were watching the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and, for no particular reason, were wondering if it was possible to remove a Supreme Court justice after he was confirmed to his lifetime appointment, the answer is yes. The framers of the U.S. Constitution included a process to do just that. That said, it has never really been done successfully. Yet.

Section 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution says:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

This means that the justices hold office as long as they choose and can only be removed from office by impeachment. The only Justice to be impeached was back in 1805, when Associate Justice Samuel Chase–who was appointed by President George Washington–was accused of allowing his political views to interfere with his decisions and “tending to prostitute” the court and his position. (You can read the riveting account on the U.S. Senate’s website.) The House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment against him, but he was acquitted by the Senate.



However, the threat of impeachment proceedings has led to the resignation of a justice: In 1969, Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas resigned before he could be impeached for taking $20,000 a year for life from the family of a Wall Street titan in jail for SEC violations.

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US edition US politics

Robert Reich

Throughout history, the central struggle of civilization has been against brutality by the powerful. Civil society doesn’t let might make right

‘Putin must be stopped. Trump must be held accountable. Rightwing politicians who encourage white Christian nationalism must be condemned and voted out of office.’

‘Putin must be stopped. Trump must be held accountable. Rightwing politicians who encourage white Christian nationalism must be condemned and voted out of office.’

Mon 9 May 2022 06.21 EDT

I keep running into people who feel overwhelmed by so many seemingly unrelated but terrifying things occurring all at once. “How can all this be happening?” they ask.

But these things are connected. They are reinforcing each other. As such, they pose a clear challenge to a decent society.

Putin invades Ukraine. Trump refuses to concede and promotes his big lie. Rightwing politicians in America and Europe inflame white Christian nationalism. Television pundits spur bigotry toward immigrants. Politicians target LGBTQ+ youth.

Powerful men sexually harass and abuse women. Abortion bans harm women unable to obtain safe abortions. Police kill innocent Black people with impunity.

CEOs rake in record profits and compensation but give workers meager wages and fire them for unionizing. The richest men in the world own the most influential media platforms. Billionaires make large campaign donations (read: legal bribes) so lawmakers won’t raise their taxes.

What connects these? All are abuses of power. All are occurring at a time when power and wealth are concentrated in few hands.

It is important to see the overall pattern because each of these sorts of abuses encourages other abuses. Stopping them – standing up against all forms of bullying and brutality – is essential to preserving a civil society.

Throughout history, the central struggle of civilization has been against brutality by the powerful. The state of nature is a continuous war in which only the fittest survive – where lives are “nasty, brutish, and short,” in the words of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Without norms, rules, and laws preventing the stronger from attacking or oppressing the weaker, none of us is safe. We all live in fear. Even the most powerful live in fear of being attacked or deposed.

Civilization is the opposite of a state of nature. A civil society doesn’t allow the strong to brutalize the weak. The responsibility of all who seek a decent society is to move as far from a state of nature as possible.

Certain inequalities of power are expected, even in a civil society. Some people are bigger and stronger than others. Some are quicker of mind and body. Some have more forceful personalities. Some have fewer scruples.

Some inequalities of income and wealth may be necessary to encourage hard work and inventiveness, from which everyone benefits.

But when inequalities become too wide, they invite abuses. Such abuses invite further abuses until society degenerates into a Hobbesian survival of the most powerful. An entire society – even the world – can descend into chaos.

Every time the stronger bully the weaker, the social fabric is tested. If bullying is not contained, the fabric unwinds.

Some posit a moral equivalence between those who seek social justice and those who want to protect individual liberty, between “left” and “right.”

But there is no moral equivalence between bullies and the bullied, between tyranny and democracy, between brutality and decency – no “balance” between social justice and individual liberty.

No individual can be free in a society devoid of justice. There can be no liberty where brutality reigns.

The struggle for social justice is the most basic struggle of all because it defines how far a civilization has come from a Hobbesian survival of the most powerful.

A civil society stops brutality, holds the powerful accountable, and protects the vulnerable.

Putin must be stopped. Trump must be held accountable. Rightwing politicians who encourage white Christian nationalism must be condemned and voted out of office. Celebrity pundits who fuel racism and xenophobia must be denounced and defunded.

Powerful men who sexually harass or abuse women must be prosecuted. Women must have safe means of ending pregnancies they don’t want. Police who kill innocent Black people must be brought to justice.

CEOs who treat their employees badly must be exposed and penalized. Billionaires who bribe lawmakers to cut their taxes or exempt them from regulations must be sanctioned, as should lawmakers who accept such bribes.

This is what civilization demands. This is what the struggle is all about. This is why that struggle is so critical.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a Guardian US columnist. His newsletter is at robertreich.substack.com

… a rollback of reproductive rights in America will have devastating consequences for the health, dignity and autonomy of millions of people. Healthcare will become even more unequal, the country’s divisions more pronounced.

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May 7, 2022

Heather Cox Richardson

May 8
I told this story here two years ago, but I want to repeat it tonight, as the reality of women’s lives is being erased in favor of an image of women as mothers….

If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.

The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or transformed into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away.

The women who had watched their men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons. The men who did come home were scarred in body and mind.

Modern war, it seemed, was not a game.

But out of the war also came a new sense of empowerment. Women had bought bonds, paid taxes, raised money for the war effort, managed farms, harvested fields, worked in war industries, reared children, and nursed soldiers. When the war ended, they had every intention of continuing to participate in national affairs. But the Fourteenth Amendment, which established that African American men were citizens, did not mention women. In 1869, women organized the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association to promote women’s right to have a say in American government.

From her home in Boston, Julia Ward Howe was a key figure in the American Woman Suffrage Association. She was an enormously talented writer, who had penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic in the early years of the Civil War, a hymn whose lyrics made it a point to note that Christ was “born of woman.”

Howe was drawn to women’s rights because the laws of her time meant that her children belonged to her abusive husband. If she broke free of him, she would lose any right to see her children, a fact he threw at her whenever she threatened to leave him. She was not at first a radical in the mold of reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, believing that women had a human right to equality with men. Rather, she believed strongly that women, as mothers, had a special role to perform in the world.

For Howe, the Civil War had been traumatic, but that it led to emancipation might justify its terrible bloodshed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was another story. She remembered:

“I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?”

Howe had a new vision, she said, of “the august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities.” She sat down immediately and wrote an “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World.” Men always had and always would decide questions by resorting to “mutual murder.” But women did not have to accept this state of affairs, she wrote. Mothers could command their sons to stop the madness.

“Arise, women!” Howe commanded. “Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’”

Howe had her document translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish and distributed it as widely as her extensive contacts made possible. She believed that her Women’s Peace Movement would be the next great development in human history, ending war just as the antislavery movement had ended human bondage. She called for a “festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines” to be held around the world on June 2 of every year, a date that would permit open-air meetings.

Howe organized international peace conferences, and American states developed their own Mothers’ Day festivals. But Howe quickly gave up on her project. She realized that there was much to be done before women could come together on such a momentous scale. She turned her attention to women’s clubs “to constitute a working and united womanhood.”

As she worked to unite women, she threw herself into the struggle for women’s suffrage, understanding that in order to create a more just and peaceful society, women must take up their rightful place as equal participants in American politics.

Perhaps Anna Jarvis remembered seeing her mother participate in an original American Mothers’ Day when she decided to honor her own mother in the early twentieth century. And while we celebrate modern Mother’s Day, in this momentous year of 2022 it’s worth remembering the original Mothers’ Day and Julia Ward Howe’s conviction that women must make their voices heard.

May 6, 2022

Heather Cox RichardsonMay 7

While most eyes were on the leaked draft of the Supreme Court decision this week, the Biden administration continued its work to move the country forward, demonstrating that investing in ordinary Americans creates a strong economy.

Since the 1980s, Republicans have insisted that the way to establish strong economic growth is to cut business regulations and taxes in order to free up innovation and capital for investment. Rejecting the system in place since 1933 that used the government to keep the economic playing field level and protect the rights of workers, Republicans argued that the economy worked best when business leaders ran it. Government should support the employers on the supply side of the economy rather than the workers and consumers on the demand side.

In response to those who challenged this “supply-side” economics on the grounds that government deficits would explode as tax receipts fell, Reagan Republicans argued that tax cuts would pay for themselves with economic growth, so Americans could have both lower taxes and continued services. And, although Reagan tripled yearly deficits and nearly tripled the national debt—from $995 billion to $2.9 trillion—the idea that tax cuts paid for themselves by boosting investment in the economy, became gospel on the right. At the same time, supply-side economics never delivered the extra growth it promised.

As soon as he took office, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, President Joe Biden rejected traditional supply-side economics and launched a policy that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called “modern supply-side economics.” Biden’s plan, Yellen explained, focuses on “labor supply, human capital, public infrastructure, R&D, and investments in a sustainable environment.” Rather than focusing on putting money into the hands of the “demand side” of the economy—consumers—it focuses on developing a strong labor force in a strong democracy to create growth through hard work and innovation.

That system has paid off with the fastest economic recovery since the pandemic of any of the wealthiest liberal democracies that make up the Group of Seven (G7) countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The U.S. job market has bounded back from the depths of the pandemic at an astonishing rate. Today’s job report showed that employers added another 428,000 jobs in April. For the past year, the economy has added, on average, more than half a million new jobs a month, for a total of 8.3 million since Biden took office. Unemployment is at a 50-year low at 3.6% (this number counts only those who are unemployed and are actively looking for a job). Since there are currently 1.9 vacancies for every unemployed person, giving workers leverage over employers, wages grew 5.5% in April.

That upward pressure of wages might be part of what is driving soaring inflation. Over the past 12 months, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, which is a method of measuring how much it costs for an ordinary consumer to buy goods and services, has risen 6.6%. If you take fuel and food out of that index, it’s still 5.2%, and the Fed likes inflation to be no more than 2%.

Supply chain issues have also driven up prices, both because of shortages and because the ten shipping companies that dominate the global trade have jacked up prices so astronomically that U.S. importers have asked the U.S. government to intervene (this year container companies will pocket $300 billion in profits, up from $23 billion before the pandemic).

The skyrocketing price of oil, which has translated into soaring gasoline prices, has also driven up prices: the American Automobile Association says the average price of a gallon of gas nationally today is $4.279 a gallon (prices are significantly cheaper in the South than in the West, where in some places they are more than $5.75 a gallon). Higher gas prices drive up the price of everything by increasing the costs of shipping even further.

Global oil production dropped dramatically during the pandemic, with oil-producing nations cutting production by about 10% globally. Producers have been slow to increase production to keep up with the global recovery, not least because they are making record profits. Yesterday, Shell, which is Europe’s largest energy company (and which did, in fact, begin its business in the early 19th century importing decorative seashells from Asia to England), reported its largest quarterly profit ever, at $9.1 billion. It said it will use the windfall to buy back shares of the company, increasing the value of the company’s stock.

The Biden administration has asked Saudi Arabia to increase production, but the Saudis have resisted that request, joining the rest of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies, including Russia, in saying global shortages are the West’s fault because of their sanctions on Russia. Indeed, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions have badly disrupted oil supplies, driving prices up further.

But there is also a foreign policy story here: Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was close to the Trump administration and is close to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, with whose new investment firm he has recently invested $2 billion despite Kusher’s lack of experience in investing. In contrast, in February 2021, Biden released a U.S. intelligence assessment that MBS had approved the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And while presidents have tended to downplay the idea that the 9/11 hijackers—15 of whom were Saudi out of 19 total—had any connection to the Saudi government, Biden ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to declassify documents that suggest there may have been a Saudi spy involved.

It seems unlikely MBS is losing sleep over Biden’s popularity sinking as gas prices rise.

The administration has undertaken steps to curb inflation. Although it does not have control over either Chinese supply chains—stressed by a surge in Covid—or the Russian war on Ukraine, there are domestic levers it can use. At the end of March, the administration began releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a policy it expects to continue for 6 months.

To counter Republican claims that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Democrats passed in March 2021 and which jump-started the economy, was a failure because it was so expensive, Biden this week pointed out that increased tax revenues have in fact reduced both the deficit and the national debt, both of which went up significantly under former president Trump. (Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also cut budget deficits—Clinton actually produced a surplus—and the Republicans who followed them used those savings for tax cuts.) This year’s budget deficit will drop by $1.5 trillion, the biggest decline in a single year, easing inflationary pressures by keeping the government from borrowing.

Today, Biden called for Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which focuses on building goods in the United States to avoid future supply chain crises and would provide new manufacturing jobs in small and medium-sized companies (the country has added 473,000 manufacturing jobs since he took office). It would bring home production that the U.S. has ceded to China and, Biden suggested today, rebuild the Rust Belt. Currently, the House and the Senate are in the process of merging two bills, one passed by each chamber, into a final bill.

“This is a bipartisan bill,” Biden told workers at United Performance Metals near Cincinnati, Ohio, accompanied by the state’s senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rod Portman. “Senators Brown and Portman are working hard to get it done.” “Pass the damn bill and send it to me,” he urged. “If we do, it’s going to help bring down prices, bring home jobs, and power America’s manufacturing comeback.”

On Wednesday, Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, announced an interest rate hike of a half percent, the biggest hike since 2000. Their hope is to cool down the heated economy enough to slow inflation without throwing people out of work.

Stocks rallied immediately after the announcement, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (one of the indexes for gauging the movement of the stock market) gaining about 900 points. The next day wiped out those gains and more, and today was similarly rocky. It seems the switch from a policy of heating up the economy to cooling it down has made investors jittery.

In other news today, a new book coming out by Mark Esper, former secretary of defense under Trump, reveals that the former president wanted the military to recall to active duty retired General Stan McChrystal and Admiral William H. McRaven in order to court-martial them for disloyalty to him. It also says that Trump wanted to have the U.S. military launch missiles at Mexican drug labs, quoting him as telling Esper that “[w]e could just shoot some Patriot missiles” into our neighbor and ally, Mexico, and no one would know it was the U.S. because Trump could just deny it.

Esper pointed out that such an attack on a sovereign nation would be an act of war.

Notes:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitext/ess_reaganomics.html

https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2022/feb/16/patrick-gaspard/us-economic-growth-exceeds-rivals-and-has-contribu/

https://www.shell.com/about-us/our-heritage/our-company-history.html

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/opec-set-stick-modest-oil-output-rises-amid-price-rally-2022-05-05/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/06/despite-strong-april-jobs-numbers-year-ahead-may-be-bumpy/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/05/06/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-bipartisan-innovation-act%ef%bf%bc/

https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/world/news/biden-administration-releases-report-on-khashoggis-killing-directly-implicating-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman/articleshow/81234920.cms

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/911-hijackers-video-saudi-intelligence-official-omar-al-bayoumi/

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/04/follow-the-latest-updates-as-the-federal-reserve-gets-set-to-hike-rates.html

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/esper-trump-wanted-to-activate-retired-four-stars-to-court-martial-them-for-disloyalty

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/05/06/fact-sheet-biden-administration-celebrates-launch-of-am-forward-and-calls-on-congress-to-pass-bipartisan-innovation-act/

President Biden @POTUSToday’s jobs report shows our plans and policies have produced the strongest job creation economy in modern times. 8.3 million jobs in my first 15 months in office.May 7th 20222,553 Retweets11,830 Likes

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/06/biden-demands-congress-pass-chips-innovation-bill-to-counter-china.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/03/31/strategic-petroleum-reserve-release-biden/

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/report/deficit-tracker/

George Conway🇺🇦 @gtconway3dAnd …. here they are: the pages from former SecDef @MarkTEsper’s book describing how Trump wanted to bomb Mexico and lie about it. How do you say “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” en español? May 6th 2022943 Retweets4,226 Likes

/photo/1

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/recent-developments-bipartisan-innovation-act-formal-conference-imminent-prospect

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May 5, 2022

Heather Cox RichardsonMay 6

Fallout continues over the leaked draft decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the draft overturning Roe v. Wade.

Tonight, in addition to the “non-scalable” fence erected last night, Capitol Police are placing concrete barricades around the United States Supreme Court. Legal commentator Joyce White Vance tweeted: “Odd that the Supreme Court is acting like they’re under assault, when it’s actually us who are under attack by them.”

In today’s context, it seems worth noting that in 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics providing abortion services, on the grounds that such buffer zones infringe on the First Amendment’s right to protest.

Today, Chief Justice John Roberts broke his silence about the leak, calling it “absolutely appalling” and saying that if “the person” or “people” behind the leak think it will affect the Supreme Court, they are “foolish.”

Interestingly, after the initial insistence—without evidence—by the right wing that the leak came from the left, there is reason to think that, in fact, the decision was leaked by a right-wing zealot afraid that Roberts, who did not want to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely, would pull at least one of the other right-wing justices away from the extremist stance of Justice Samuel Alito’s decision and weaken it.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted that on April 26, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by the editorial board suggesting this very scenario. The editorial board warned that Roberts seemed inclined to “find a middle way” in the Dobbs decision and that if he “pulls another justice to his side, he could write the plurality decision that controls in a 6–3 decision.” The editorial continued: “We hope he doesn’t succeed—for the good of the Court and the country…it would prolong the Court’s abortion agony…. Far better for the Court to leave the thicket of abortion regulation and return the issue to the states.”

Regardless of who leaked the draft, in its wake, the political landscape in the country appears to be shifting. The right wing seems to see this as its moment to accomplish the imposition of religious restrictions they had previously only dreamed of achieving. Talk of ending gay marriage, recriminalizing homosexuality, undermining public schools, and so on, is animating the radical right. Media stories have noted that most democratic countries have, in fact, been expanding reproductive rights. Going the opposite direction is a sign of rising authoritarianism. The United States shares that distinction right now with Poland and Nicaragua.

In contrast, those interested in protecting the constitutional right to reproductive choice, as well as all the other civil rights now under threat, are speaking out powerfully. There is also mounting anger that five of the justices on the Supreme Court seem to have lied under oath in order to do the very thing they appeared to promise not to.

That open call for a rollback of rights we have enjoyed for 50 years seems to have been a wake-up call for those unable to see the rising authoritarianism in this country for years.

From 1995 to 2001, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was a Republican representative from Florida. Today he said, “[W]e need to look at what’s before us and how extreme these…MAGA Washington freaks are.” He went on to list some of the extreme statements of Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and former president Donald Trump, and then said: “This is the party that brought you Jewish space lasers. This is the party that talked about that dude from Italy who they say stole the election with a satellite. Remember those bamboo particles that Republicans claimed were in Arizona ballots? And those ninja freaks or whatever they were called that went in and they were going to show that Biden stole the election but except it ended up that they get even more votes for Joe Biden. They’ve told one lie after another lie from websites run by Chinese religious cults…. This is what America wants?”

Scarborough continued: ‘“There’s always been one funny controversy after another churned up by Republicans so they can govern by gesture and proclaim their need to be radical so they could own the libs. But lately those politics of gesture morphed into actual policies that are hurting you…and your family. That are hurting Americans in Trump states. The Texas governor attacks truckers in his own state ‘cause he thinks that’s how he owns the libs, but he ended up costing Texans 4 billion dollars.”

“There’s the Florida governor’s crazed attack on Florida taxpayers, going to cost them about a billion dollars, via his war on the Magic Kingdom—again to own the libs. But he’s just ending up owning his own taxpayers in central Florida. And yesterday a harshly written Supreme Court draft…will end a 50-year constitutional right…that only 19% of Americans support being stripped away. Only 19% of Americans want to ban abortion.”

This, of course, is not a conversation the Republicans wanted to have before the midterm elections, and thus they have tried to focus on the leak rather than its substance.

Today, Politico tried to suggest that the extremism of the party was limited to the “fighters” in the Republican Party, who are challenging “the governing wing.” Author Ally Mutnick contrasted Ohio Republican nominee for the House of Representatives J.R. Majewski with Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).

Majewski “twice painted his lawn into a massive shrine of former President Donald Trump,” “raised thousands of dollars to escort a group to Washington for the Jan[uary] 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riots,” and ran a recent TV ad that “showed him walking through a shuttered warehouse with an assault-style rifle, vowing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to restore the country to its ‘former glory.’” The article contrasted “hardliners who often refuse to negotiate” with “dealmakers who are eager to reach across the aisle.”

The attempt to split the current Republican Party into a moderate wing and a radical wing is a dramatic revision of Republican Party history. In fact, moderate Republicans, who believed that the government had a role to play in regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure, were purged from the party in the 1990s, when power shifted to leaders who believed that the country worked best when businessmen could organize the economy without meddling from government bureaucrats. Because their position was always to cut taxes and pare back the government, they were absolutists, unwilling to compromise with Democrats.

Now those extremists have themselves split into a business wing that wants small government to leave it alone and a theocratic wing that wants a strong government to enforce Christian beliefs on the country, but neither is moderate or willing to reach across the aisle and compromise with Democrats. Crenshaw might be more reasonable than Majewski, but he opposes abortion and Roe v. Wade, opposes gun control, wants to end the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and voted against both impeachments of former president Trump.

Next week, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will force a vote on legislation that protects the right to abortion. This will almost certainly fail, since the filibuster will enable Republicans to block the bill unless it can get 60 votes, which is highly unlikely. But it will put senators’ stances on the protection of reproductive choice—a very popular policy—on record.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who expressed dismay that now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh misled her in what seemed to be promises not to overturn Roe v. Wade, has already said she will vote against the measure because she thinks it goes too far. She and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have proposed their own much more limited bill, but it has no cosponsors, and Democrats say it leaves the door open for states to impose severe restrictions.

Schumer says he will not hold a vote on the Collins-Murkowski bill because he will not agree to cut back on constitutional rights. “This is about a woman’s right to choose—fully,” he said. “We are not looking to compromise [on] something as vital as this.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) added. “I do not think that 50 percent of America should be told that they have to put their bodies at risk of life or death without their consent.… I hope every human being in this country understands that when you take away a woman’s right to make her decisions about her health and well-being, she is no longer a full citizen.”

Notes:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/05/politics/john-roberts-supreme-court-leak/index.html

Joyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVanceOdd that the Supreme Court is acting like they’re under assault, when it’s actually us who are under attack by them. https://t.co/H9FTaxwGGjFord Fischer @FordFischerIn addition to the “non-scalable fence” erected last night around the Supreme Court, Capitol Police now placing cement barricades around the area. https://t.co/0ITium5htgMay 5th 20225,934 Retweets23,936 Likes

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/06/26/325806464/states-cant-mandate-buffer-zones-around-abortion-clinics-high-court-says

https://www.wsj.com/articles/abortion-and-the-supreme-court-dobbs-v-jackson-mississippi-john-roberts-11651009292

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Crenshaw

Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D @RVAwonkI don’t have a problem with physically securing the SCOTUS if it’s truly needed to keep people safe. I do have a problem with the fact that the SCOTUS ruled that buffer zones around abortion clinics are unconstitutional, thereby denying this protection to patients and staff. https://t.co/bhn18tIQoWFord Fischer @FordFischerIn addition to the “non-scalable fence” erected last night around the Supreme Court, Capitol Police now placing cement barricades around the area. https://t.co/0ITium5htgMay 5th 20221,605 Retweets4,795 Likes

Morning Joe @Morning_Joe“We need to look at what’s before us and how extreme these MAGA Washington freaks are.” –@JoeNBC May 5th 2022278 Retweets1,158 Likes

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/04/gop-primaries-00030152

Senate Judiciary Committee @JudiciaryDemsBREAKING: Next week, the Senate will vote on legislation to codify the right to access an abortion into federal law.May 5th 20224,325 Retweets28,977 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/05/05/sen-collins-voices-opposition-legislation-that-would-create-statutory-right-abortion/

Ford Fischer @FordFischerIn addition to the “non-scalable fence” erected last night around the Supreme Court, Capitol Police now placing cement barricades around the area. May 5th 2022598 Retweets1,181 Likes

https://www.businessinsider.com/backsliding-democracy-abortion-rights-hand-in-hand-with-creeping-authoritarianism-2022-5


WE have always been led to believe that the people we elect to office are good folks and will act in good faith on our behalf. The truth is that throughout the years (200 plus) we have had good and bad representation. During the 1800’s the bad fomented a divisive war that still resonates today only not by firearms. The Recent laws that regulate voting with rules that make voting difficult for primarily people of color, much like the post-Civil war period up to the 1960’s. If we as voters do not pay attention to the rhetoric that is so pervasive in our public discourse, we will again be on the brink of a civil war that will not benefit any of us and potentially relegate all of the great things accomplished to the historical trash heap. The Unted States has long been seen as champions of the people by most of the world however many countries also recognize that we belie our championship by the actions we take on our own people e.g., abortion rights, criminal justice, civil rights to name a few. President Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex and how it could be detrimental to the country, our so-called honorable members of Congress ignored that advice and continued their malfeasance while lying to our faces each election cycle. If we just look back at former President’s “reign” we will see that his historically bad actions were tacitly condoned by one major party while they selected Judicial members that served their needs. At best we have 535 seat fillers who appear to have our back but just say whatever it takes to remain in office until they can comfortably retire.


May 4, 2022

Heather Cox RichardsonMay 5

The uproar over the leaked draft of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade continues. You can tell just how furious the reaction has been by the fact that establishment Republicans are desperately trying to turn the public conversation to the question of who leaked the document. They are baselessly blaming the opposition to the decision—a Newsmax host blamed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who hasn’t even taken her seat yet—for the leak, although observers point out that the leak seems more likely to have come from a hard-core right-wing antiabortion activist, since it will make it very hard for any of those justices currently in the majority to soften their stance.

The draft decision takes a sweepingly broad position against Roe v. Wade, declaring that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot protect the right to abortion because such a right is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” This opens the door to similar attacks on constitutional rights previously established by the Supreme Court: the right to use birth control, marry regardless of race and gender lines, and engage in sexual intimacy between consenting adults.

Republican lawmakers are downplaying the reach of the apparent decision, avoiding the question of whether gay rights are next on the chopping block. Bryan Metzger of Business Insider asked “nearly a dozen” Republican senators whether they think the draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade threatens the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing the right to same-sex marriage, and whether they supported overturning the Obergefell decision. Metzger wrote: “None gave a clear yes or no answer, and several outright declined to comment.” A year ago, seventy percent of Americans supported gay marriage.

The popularity of civil rights might not matter much: law professors Melissa Murray and Leah Litman noted in the Washington Post that “[p]erhaps the most stunning feature of the opinion is that its indignant tone and aggressive reasoning make clear how empowered this conservative majority believes itself to be.”

Indeed, right-wing commentators are emboldened by the apparent success of their drive to take away the constitutional right to abortion. The Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice in the Louisiana legislature today reported favorably on a fetal personhood bill that protects “human life, created in the image of God…equally…from fertilization to natural death,” meaning that abortion is homicide and prosecutors can charge patients with murder.

Right-wing commentators today called for the court to end recognition of the right to gay marriage, and Texas governor Greg Abbott said that Texas might challenge the 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the state could not withhold state funds to educate undocumented immigrant children from local school districts. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again,” Abbott told a talk show host, “because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

The draft decision has been a clarifying moment for the country. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin told journalists to stop referring to the convulsions in the country today as “culture wars,” as if they were “a battle between two sides over hemlines or movie ratings.” Instead, she wrote, “This is religious tyranny…in which the right seeks to break through all restraints on government power in an effort to establish a society that aligns with a minority view of America as a White, Christian country.”

When reporters asked him about the draft, President Joe Biden said: “This MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history.”

Today documents from the Department of Justice revealed that on the evening of January 6th, after the rioters had left the Capitol, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group, begged an individual who was in contact with then-president Trump to authorize his and similar groups to stop the transfer of power with force. The group had quick reaction force (QRF) teams, firearms, and combat gear stashed outside the city to use if called upon.

The individual refused to put Rhodes into direct contact with Trump, but the person appears to have been within the president’s inner circle, bringing the investigation closer to Trump. That night, court documents recorded, “Rhodes continued to discuss the need to prepare for a larger fight against the government akin to the American Revolutionary War.” (There seem to be an awful lot of references to 1776 around January 6, don’t there?)

Yet another leaked tape from House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in which he said that “what the president did is atrocious and totally wrong,” showed that immediately after the insurrection, even Republicans realized that Trump had gone too far, and their hope was simply to move him offstage and get people to focus on moving forward. The party quickly snapped back to his side, though, when it became clear that his base wouldn’t abandon him.

”One of the most stunning and sad things in my view that has happened since January 6 has been the realization that the vast majority of…my party, when the chips were down and the time of testing came, they didn’t do the right thing,” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of the two Republicans to sit on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, said today.

The events of January 6 did not prompt many leading supporters to break from the Republican Party, but this attempt to erase our rights and establish a state religion might spark a political realignment.

This moment seems to echo the days after the 1857 Dred Scott v Sandford decision took away voters’ ability to stop the spread of human enslavement. Like the draft decision we have seen this week, that decision was clearly political and drew on appallingly bad history to reach a conclusion that gave extraordinary power to the country’s wealthiest men. Horace Greeley, the prominent editor of the New York Daily Tribune, wrote that the Dred Scott decision was “entitled to just so much moral weight as would be the judgment of a majority of those congregated in any Washington bar-room.”

Three months later, the Illinois Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for senator. With his acceptance speech, he began the process of reclaiming equality as the central principle of the United States by giving his famous House Divided speech in which he warned that there was a plan afoot to spread enslavement across the entire country.

In the present, not only are the streets full of protesters, but also the three Republican governors in New England—Charlie Baker (MA), Chris Sununu (NH), and Phil Scott (VT)-—have all said they will protect abortion rights in their states. Levi Strauss & Company, the clothing manufacturer, today called on business leaders to protect the health and well-being of their employees, defending the reproductive rights that have enabled women to participate more fully in the economy in the past 50 years.

The world has changed since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973. Levi Strauss noted that today, 58% of its workforce is female. And as Rebecca Solnit pointed out in The Guardian, the various groups now under attack form a broad coalition. “It doesn’t really matter if they’re coming for you, because they’re coming for us,” she wrote. And “[u]s these days means pretty much everyone who’s not a straight white Christian man with rightwing politics.”

Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the draft opinion, has canceled a public appearance tomorrow. And tonight, according to Washington, D.C., journalist Lindsay Watts, security officials have begun to install non-scalable fencing around the Supreme Court.

Notes:

https://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1259299

Mark Joseph Stern @mjs_DCHere is Louisiana’s new fetal personhood bill—which House Republicans just voted out of committee 7–2—making abortion a crime of homicide “from the moment of fertilization” and allowing prosectors to charge patients with murder. May 5th 20222,771 Retweets3,724 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/04/justice-alito-leaked-supreme-court-abortion-ruling-way-beyond-roe/

Lindsay Watts @LindsayAWattsTall, non-scalable fencing about to go up around Supreme Court. Crews are starting on the back end. There are just a few protesters in front of the court right now. @fox5dc May 5th 2022112 Retweets132 Likes

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2022/05/04/gov-greg-abbott-supreme-court-case-requiring-education-undocumented-children/9652463002/

Eli Stokols @EliStokolsBIDEN: “The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor before the pandemic and during the pandemic and it’s gone down both years since I’ve been here. Period.”May 4th 20226,454 Retweets26,697 Likes

https://www.businessinsider.com/republican-senators-scotus-same-sex-marriage-abortion-obergefell-2022-5

Robert Costa @costareports“One of the most stunning and sad things in my view that has happened since Jan. 6 has been the realization that the vast majority of… my party, when the chips were down and the time of testing came, they didn’t do the right thing.” @Liz_Cheney tonight, per @cristina_corujoMay 5th 2022566 Retweets2,676 Likes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/04/culture-wars-diminishes-danger/

https://www.axios.com/2022/05/04/biden-maga-crowd-extreme

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1499056/download

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/04/trump-oath-keepers-capitol-attack

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/04/politics/mccarthy-audio-25th-amendment-biden/index.html

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/03/heres-how-americans-can-fight-back-to-protect-abortion-rights


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