On Abortion, Trump, and Federal and Native Land.

In the wake of last Friday’s abortion decision — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which repealed Roe v. Wade — I’ve read some interesting things about Trump, his relationship to abortion, and whether abortion access could be made available on federal and indigenous land. 

Does Donald Trump want credit for the Rollback of Abortion Rights

It’s pretty well known that Donald Trump has been pro-choice for most of his life. The only reason he switched to a pro-life position is that was the courtesan who brought him to the dance. No romancing of pro-choice evangelicals, no Presidency for #45. 

In reality, Trump is about as pro-life as I am a unicorn.

For the record, I’m still stunned that no woman has come out of the woodwork to claim that Trump got her pregnant and paid for her abortion. What would have happened if Karen McDougal had become pregnant after being tagged by Trump. You don’t think he would have paid for her abortion?

Regardless, immediately after the decision was released on Friday, Donald Trump bloviated that the Dobbs decision was “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation” and was only “made possible” by the three Supreme Court appointees that Trump nominated.

For once in his life Trump is actually correct.

He gets both the credit and the blame. 

And yet, even Trump recognizes that this may be a double-edged sword. For one thing, all of the “suburban moms” that Trump lost in 2020 are likely to come out and vote Democratic in both 2022 and 2024. Reportedly, two of Trump’s advisers told the Washington Post that the former president favored limiting abortion rather than banning it.

“He keeps shitting all over his greatest accomplishment. When you speak to him, it’s the response of someone fearing the backlash and fearing the politics of what happens when conservatives actually get what they want [on abortion],” says one source who has talked to Trump about this in the weeks following the SCOTUS draft opinion leak. “I do not think he’s enjoying the moment as much as many of his supporters are, to be honest with you.”

This, according to an article published in the Rolling Stone.

Nearly one in four women in the United States (23.7%) will have an abortion by age 45, according to a an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. That is a lot of women. That is a lot of voters.

Right now, the pro-life Republicans are a little bit like the dog that catches the car. So far so good for the ebullient pro-lifers, but this might also produce a spectacular backlash.  

Can abortion rights be maintained on Federal and Native Lands.

One of the very interesting questions that has come up in the last few days is whether the federal government could offer abortion services on federal lands, or whether Native Americans could offer abortion services on indigenous lands. Both issues are problematic, but offer some intriguing possibilities.

First of all, when it comes to federal funding, there is still the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with limited exceptions. So, I’m not quite sure how you could provide abortion services on federal land without violating the Hyde amendment. 

Could the Hyde Amendment  be overruled?

Maybe.

But we’re not there yet.

So, what about indigenous land. As may people may remember, indigenous lands are not subject to most state laws and many federal laws. That’s why we had the boom of casinos not subject to state regulation on indigenous land.

But the relationship between tribal nations and the state and federal governments are complicated.

The second question is, are Native Americans generally pro-choice or pro-life. And the answer to that is complicated as well. Tribes also struggle with basic healthcare.

Still — if providing abortion access could bring in financial revenue for tribes just like gaming did — there is the possibility that at least some tribes might be interested in participating in that. And (at first blush) it does not appear that anybody could stop them.

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If this decision doesn’t bring us out to vote in the midterms, then there really is no hope for us

It wasn’t a huge surprise — after all, the decision was leaked way back on the 3rd of May — but it was still a disappointment to see it printed in black and white. I went and read the syllabus of the Dobbs decision, and the entire dissent. (I would have read the whole decision except that sucker is 213 pages, and that’s a lot, even for me.)

BTW, I have to note with some irony that in the 52 days since this draft decision was leaked, they still have made no progress in finding the leaker. Oops. Guess that’s not going to happen.

There will be lots and lots of commentary about this over the next few days, and I don’t want to rehash what everyone else will say or has already said.  I will just make a few points:

  1. First, Justice Alito hinges his entire decision on the fact that abortion was not “deeply rooted” our nation’s history in 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted. (Seriously, Justice Alito?)
  2. Justice Alito reaches back to Henry de Bracton’s 13th Century treatise to justify the notion that life begins at conception. (Seriously, Justice Alito?)
  3. The majority opinion declares that this decision does not necessarily imperil other rights based on the “substantive due process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — such as the right of gays to marry, and even the right of couples to choose their manner of contraception — but Justice Clarence Thomas (why isn’t he dead yet?) puts the lie to that notion. He basically says that he believes those rights should be overturned.
  4. The court’s comparison between overturning Roe and overturning Plessy v. Ferguson — the case that established the “separate but equal” doctrine and is universally considered one of the two worst decisions ever written by the Supreme Court [1] — is just plain insulting. One can argue about the details of the Roe decision — I have argued in the past that it should have been decided under the Ninth Amendment — but no legitimate scholar has ever equated Roe with Plessy or Korematsu.
  5. Chief Justice Roberts makes the point that the court could have — as he does — uphold the 2018 Mississippi state law without having to overturn Roe v. Wade. It would have restricted the right some more without eviscerating it completely.
  6. As the dissent points out, this decision and its cavalier elimination of a fundamental right that has existed for almost 50 years, really does imperil the legitimacy of the court.[2]
  7. If this decision does not bring people (especially women) out to the polls for the 2022 midterms, then there really is no hope for any of us.

Let’s pause for a moment to talk about Justice Clarence Thomas, whom I despise as much as any human being on this planet. Justice Thomas — that Überhypocrite of all Überhypcrites — that Uncle Tommiest of all Uncle Toms — should have been impeached a long time ago. 

  • Lest we forget, Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill while he was the Chairman of the EEOC (the federal agency that oversees issues of discirmination and sexual harassment). 
  • Lest we forget, Thomas claimed that his nomination hearing was a “high tech lynching” of a black man when it was actually a “high tech lynching” of a black woman.
  • Lest we forget, “silent” Clarence has been the most conservative and results-driven justice of all of them, notwithstanding his empty claims to being a textualist.
  • Lest we forget, Thomas has failed to recuse himself in cases involving the 2020 election while his traitorous wife tried to keep the Presidential election from being certified.

The line of abortion cases, just like those dealing with the right to marry and to choose your own contraceptives, is based on the “substantive due process” provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment. That is also the line of reasoning that justified 1967’s Loving v. Virginia decision, which struck down the “antimiscegenation” laws then in effect in Virginia (i.e., the laws that prohibited interracial couples from marrying). Justice Thomas is, of course, married to a white woman, the equally despicable Ginni Thomas. And they live in Virginia. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Supreme Court — using its same reasoning — struck down the prohibition on antimiscegenation laws, so that the Thomas’ marriage would become a crime.

In any case, the other two justices who should probably impeached are Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who both lied under oath.

So, today I feel the anger, the fury of women about this remarkably regressive decision.

It’s about fucking time.

Again, if this decision does not bring people (especially women) out to the polls for the 2022 midterms, then there really is no hope for any of us.


[1] The other being Korematsu v. United States, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

[2] That has, of course, already been deeply imperiled by Mitch McConnell’s hypocritical action in hijacking the nomination process.

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This week in the January 6th Committee Hearing.

This week there were more January 6th Committee hearings on Tuesday and Thursday. For the most part, once again, I didn’t really learn things that I did not know. But there were particulars which were very interesting, and which put a human face on the January 6th issue.

Tuesday

On Tuesday the focus of the hearing was on the pressure campaign the Trump administration brought against state officials in swing states like Arizona and Georgia. What I found most interesting on Tuesday were the personal stories of the mother-and-daughter team of election workers in Georgia, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the latter of whom had been a Fulton County Elections Department employee since 2017. She had recruited her mother in 2020 to help out.

For this, Donald Trump and his attorney, the former “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliano, accused the two by name of processing fake election ballots. In a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump mentioned Moss’ mother, Ruby Freeman, 18 times. In addition, Guliani claimed, on the basis of a video, that Moss had handed her mother a thumb drive “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” In reality, her mother had handed Moss a ginger mint.

As a consequence both Moss and Freeman became the target of a racist campaign that culminated with Moss having to move from the house where she had lived for 21 years.

Now, ordinarily, making these kind of unfounded accusations could lead to a nice fat libel suit. Except, you cannot sue the President of the United States for libel. The reasons are complex, and I’ve written about this in the past.

Moss and Freeman are hardly the only election workers who were harassed. But they are two of the few that were publicly named and shamed. And what is their redress? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Thursday

Thursday’s hearing was focused on the pressure that Trump exerted against Department of Justice officials, and how he almost appointed Jeffrey Clark to be the acting Attorney General for the only reason that he was willing to do what Trump wanted him to do. That was only thwarted when it became clear that such an appointment would trigger mass resignations from the Department of Justice.

But what I found most fascinating on Thursday was the specific testimony about the Republican Representatives in Congress who were seeking a pardon from the Trump administration after January 6th, and in some cases before January 6th.

Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), Mo Brooks, (R-Ala), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz) and and Scott Perry (R-Pa) were specificaly named, while there was some second-hand testimony that Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) might also have sought a pardon. And they were looking for very broad pardons. In fact, one of the Reps had suggested that every Republican Rep who voted against the certification of Biden’s election should receive a pardon.

As Adam Kinzinger on the committee noted, you don’t seek a pardon unless you think you’ve done something criminal.

What is also fascinating is the extent to which the Trump administration is being indicted by the testimony of fellow Republicans. It challenges the the assertion that this is just a partisan exercise.

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We aren’t the only ones whose politics are completely polarized, as you can see from France and Israel.

We aren’t the only ones whose politics are completely polarized. If you don’t know what I mean, check out recent developments in France and in Israel.

France

This week France had a round of parliamentary elections shortly after their presidential elections back in April. (France, unlike most parliamentary democracies, votes separately for a President, instead of having the head of the party that receives the most votes try to form the next government.)

You may remember that back in April Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen and was re-elected to a five year term as President. Now, earlier this week, France voted for the 577 members of the National Assembly. This time around, both the right and left made substantial gains, encroaching on Macron’s centrist party by depriving him of the 289 seats he needs for a majority. Without a majority, it will be hard for Macron to get his agenda through parliament. On the right, Le Pen’s National Rally received 89 seats, a spectacular improvement over their previous total of eight. On the left, the “Nupes coalition” —which is essentially a newly formed coalition — won 131 seats. Together, that is 220 seats, not quite as many as the 245 in Macron’s centrist alliance has, but plenty enough to stop Macron’s agenda. (There are 112 members in other minor parties that complete the 577 count.)

What is striking here, more than anything, is the large increase in strength on both the right and left side of the political spectrum. They’re not going to agree on much, except that they don’t approve of Macron’s agenda.

Israel

If you follow Israeli politics at all, you know that Israel has held election after election after election in the last few years. Four elections in the last three years, to be precise. (This next one will be the fifth.) Of course, the Israelis have their own 600 lb gorilla to deal with, in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu who — just like Donald Trump — just refuses to leave the scene. Netanyahu had been Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. At the same time, Netanyahu has been under indictment for various complaints of corruption, which have not yet been resolved.

He’s under indictment, my friends.

And just like Trump, he might still come back to lead their country.

This time around, current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he will step down after several of his lawmakers withdrew their support for the ideologically-mixed coalition when Bennett could not get enough votes to extend legal protections that granted Jewish settlers in the West Bank rights that Palestinians in the territory do not have.

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

In Israel, like in France, neither the left or the right can really get traction to the point that they can actually lead a government on their own.

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Haven’t learned anything I didn’t expect from the January 6th Commission

I have to say that I haven’t learned anything I didn’t expect from the January 6th Commission so far, but it’s still nice to see the precise detail with which they’re building their case.

Did Trump Know that he Lost?

The first question is whether Donald Trump knew that he lost the election,  or has he become detached from reality. And I think the answer to the question is: both.

Whatever else Trump may be, he isn’t stupid. He is extremely deluded, but he’s not stupid. Enough people told him that he had lost, enough people told him that the count could not be overturned in five different states, that there must be a part of him that clearly understood this at some point in time.

But then there is another part of the man who also clearly could not tolerate the notion that he had lost to “sleepy” Joe Biden. Or that he would have to give up the intoxicating power and attention that comes with being the President of the United States.

As we know from cognitive science, the mind can do incredible things when it wants to convince itself of something. Trump’s mind clearly wanted to convince him that he could not have lost to Biden. 

What does Trump believe today? Who the fuck knows. But my guess is that he’s somehow convinced himself that he really could not have lost the election, and actually believes the mountain of bullshit that comes with the Big Lie.

Did Trump throw Pence under the Bus?

There can be absolutely know doubt on this one. Trump threw Pence under the bus in about as major a way as you can throw somebody under a bus. With complete disregard for his life or safety, Trump improvised all the lines at his January 6th rally that fired up the crowd against Pence.

Would people actually have hanged Mike Pence? That somehow seems unlikely. It seems more symbolic than a real threat to me. But his physical safety was clearly not guaranteed, nor that of his family. He spent hours in a parking garage making phone calls and ordering protective measures while Trump watched TV and tweeted out more provocations.

And then Trump never called Pence to see if he and his family were okay.

This, after Pence spent four years more or less licking Trump’s boots in a way that must have been very painful at times. I mean, it was his choice to lick Trump’s boots, but still.

Of course, Pence harbors his own delusions. He harbors the delusion that he might someday be President and that he will need Trump voters to get there. I think most Trump voters gave up on Pence when he didn’t kowtow to the Big Lie. So I don’t think Pence will ever be President.

But you never know.

It’d be nice for him to appear before the January 6th Committee and tell the world what he really thinks of Trump. Now there would be television worth watching!

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The proposed bipartisan gun reform is a complete Nothingburger.

A bipartisan group of Senators have announced a “breakthrough” on gun reform, and the press is reporting it as a significant breakthrough. But it’s not a significant breakthrough. 

It’s a nothingburger.

Here’s what the “breakthrough” contains: 

  1. Financial incentives for states to enact “red flag” laws designed to remove guns from potentially dangerous people;
  2. Additional investment in mental health services;
  3. Expanded background checks for gun purchases for people between the ages of 18 and 21;
  4. Ending the “boyfriend loophole” that allows unmarried partners with domestic violence records to own guns;
  5. Funding for certain school safety measures;
  6. Longer reviews for gun buyers who are under 21;
  7. Penalties for illegal straw purchases by convicted criminals.

I’ll tell you what’s not in the “breakthrough”:

  1. Banning military-style assault weapons.
  2. Requiring universal background checks for all gun sales.
  3. Closing gun sale loopholes and requiring background checks on all commercial gun sales.
  4. Removing the prohibition on gun violence research by the CDC.
  5. Banning bump stocks and limiting the size of ammunition clips.
  6. Passing a federal “red flag” bill that applies universally to all states.
  7. Requiring gun owners to be insured, just like car owners.
  8. Removing the liability protections of gun manufacturers
  9. Requiring gun manufacturers to install safety measures.

I’ll tell you what else isn’t in the “breakthrough”: any actual bill text. 

Nothing has yet been drafted. It could take weeks to draft the actual language, in which time plenty of the 20 Republicans who are allegedly on board with the compromise could get off board. 

So it’s a nothingburger. Sorry folks.

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It’s not going to make any difference because almost all people have already made up their minds.

It’s not going to make any difference because almost all people have already made up their minds. Those are the sad facts.

Truthfully, the hearings were not riveting television, although some of the video snippets were certainly interesting. And the video of the riot was entertaining in its own strange way.

If, like me, you know that Trump himself knew that he lost the election, and that this whole thing was only the consequence of Trump not being willing to give up the one thing he craves more than anything else — power (and the incessant attention that comes with power) — and not because there is anything wrong with our election system.

Well, there are things wrong with our election system, but they mostly have to do with gerrymandering and the electoral college and overrepresentation of rural states in the Senate, and those things are not going to be fixed anytime soon.

And, of course, those things have nothing to do with Trump losing the 2020 election.

Trump — as is already well known — did nothing at all to protect the Capitol from the evolving riot. No, instead he watched it all on television, and clearly enjoyed himself the whole time.

Even Ivanka believed that Trump had lost the election. Bill Barr knew. Sean Hannity knew. Kayleigh McEnany knew. Mark Meadows knew. They all knew. And they were considering using the 25th Amendment to get Trump out of office ahead of time. That’s the truth, as opposed to the Big Lie.

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I thought a good guy with a gun was supposed to be able to stop a bad guy with a gun.

I thought a good guy with a gun was supposed to be able to stop a bad guy with a gun. It turns out that 19 good guys with a gun can’t even stop one bad guy with a gun. 

The response of the Uvalde police department — which can only be described as pathetic — will be the subject of a federal investigation. If police departments could be sued for negligence, this one would go out of business.

Then we have the NRA, which held its annual convention in Denver only a week after the April 20, 1999 Columbine massacre in Littleton, a suburb of Denver. This time, the NRA is holding their convention in Houston — which they haven’t held for the previous two years because of Covid —

only three days after the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde.

Ah, NRA, your timing is impeccable.

The NRA is a mess. There are charges of corruption so severe that the New York Attorney General is trying to decertify the whole organization.

But that’s a story for another day.

NRA apologists will tell you that the problem is not the guns, but it’s all about mental health.

Bullshit.

Yes, we have serious mental health problems in this country, especially in our young adult population, but psychology has not yet been able to identify which of the thousands upon thousands of dysfunctional young men — and it’s almost exclusively men — will turn out to be shooters, and which ones won’t. Thankfully, an almost infinitesimal minority turn out to be shooters.

In addition, this is an almost exclusively American problem. Don’t they have kids with mental health issues in Canada or Europe? 

For Christ’s sake, even Mexico — Mexico! — which has plenty of guns in the wrong hands, doesn’t have this problem.

NRA apologists will tell you that you can’t legislate against evil.

Maybe so. 

But there are things you can legislate. Here are a few to start:

  1. Ban military-style assault weapons.
  2. Require universal background checks for all gun sales.
  3. Close gun sale loopholes and require background checks on all commercial gun sales.
  4. Remove the prohibition on gun violence research by the CDC.
  5. Ban bump stocks and limit the size of ammunition clips.
  6. Pass an Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, a “red flag” bill, to allow relatives and law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis.
  7. Require gun owners to be insured, just like car owners.
  8. Remove the liability protections of gun manufacturers, requiring them to install safety measures.

Heck, if you’re like me, you still can’t open up half your food or pharmaceutical packages. Why? Because of the Tylenol scare from 1982.

Nineteeneightyfuckingtwo.

That’s why we still have tamper-resistant packaging on almost all our products.

How many people died in 1982.

Seven people.

Seven.

How many have been killed by guns since 1982? 

While exact statistics are hard to come by — there is no national database for this — a good estimate is about 1,640,000.

Yup. One million sixhundredandfortyfuckingthousand.

But no, we can’t do nothing about guns.

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It’s Tuesday and we have Another School Shooting. Ho hum.

It’s Tuesday and we have another school shooting. This one is in Uvalde, Texas, at the Robb Elementary School, about 85 miles west of San Antonio.

It comes exactly 9 years, 5 months and 10 days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown CT. That time 20 kids and 6 adult staff were killed. This time the tally is apparently 18 students and 3 adults (although it was originally reported as 14 students and 1 adult).

When the cold blooded murder of 20 kids between the ages of 6 and 7 wasn’t able to produce any sensible gun reform, I thought to myself, we have officially sanctified the assault weapon here in the United States.

I don’t anticipate that there will be anything different this time around.

In fact, I can’t wait for some right wing nutjob to claim that the parents of the victims at the Robb Elementary School are “crisis actors.”

The last time that nutjob was Alex Jones, but given that he’s been sued up the wazoo for defamation, I’m guessing that he might hold off this time. Of course, there is always some attention-seeking whacko only too eager to take his place.

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What did we Expect would happen after 30 years of hate radio and Fox News?

If you’ve ever done any kind of personal growth work you know that one of the central tenets of a lot of such work is that, while you cannot necessarily control the world around you, you can control your response to the world around you. 

On the other hand, one of the core principles of the new conservatism is, who can we blame?

I don’t know what people thought would happen after we had 30 years of right wing “Talk” Radio and 25 years of Fox “News.” The only thing these people are interested in is arousing our emotions and telling us whom we should blame for our problems.

In other words, whom we should hate.

And they’ve been very successful at it.

There is a film maker who directed a whole film about it. Her name is Jen Senko. Her film is called The Brainwashing of my Dad, and it looked at the phenomenon in a very personal way, focused on one particular human being.

But what happened to Jen Senko’s Dad happened to a lot of citizens in the United States.

So now we have another guy, another pasty, skinny, pathetic, virginal, resentful, conspiratorial, pseudo-masculine teenage white prick shooting up a grocery store because it was in a black neighborhood.

On the very next day after this kid’s rampage, by the way, we had a 60 year old Chinese man shooting up a Taiwanese church in California. Not quite the same thing, but close.

Now ask yourself, when was the last time that a black panther shot up a church of white evangelicals?

When was the last time someone from Antifa shot up a bunch of klansmen at a rally?

Can’t remember?

It’s because that’s never happened.

There has been a lot of commentary about how once fringe theories, like the Great Replacement Theory, have gone mainstream in recent years.

Although Republicans have been mining racial resentment for a long time — see, for example, this ad from Jesse Helms that ran in his 1990 Senate race — the Great Replacement Theory is a new level of race baiting and paranoia. The theory originates with French intellectual Renaud Camus, who in his younger years was a gay socialist activist.

Now he’s just a reactionary jerk.

Allegedly, he developed his theory when he observed in 1996 that a lot of old villages in the Herault region of southern France were filling up with Muslim and dark-skinned immigrants. By 2011 he had written a book (The Grand Replacement) that argued that with the complicity of French elites, the white European populations were being “replaced” with non-white peoples, especially Muslims, through mass migration, demographic growth and a drop in the birth rate of white Europeans.

Oy.

This theory has progressively been adopted by white supremacists and Tucker Calrson. This is, of course, the same Tucker Carlson about whom a federal court recently decided that no “reasonable” person can believe what he says.

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