Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Heading For Another Record Year For Mass Shootings


The Right To Vote


Supreme Court Job Approval By Political Preference

The chart above reflects the results of the Marquette University Law School Poll -- done between May 9th and 19th of a national sample of 1,004 adults, with a 3.9 point margin of error. 

NOTE - The poll was done before the Supreme Court officially announced the overturning of Roe vs Wade.

The Facade

Political Cartoon is by Michael deAdder at Counterpoint.com.

The Court's Decision Will Affect Everyone - Even The Rich

This thought-provoking op-ed in The New York Times is by Elizabeth Spiers: 

If there’s one assumption about abortion rights that’s accepted across the ideological spectrum, it’s this: The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade will mostly affect the poor; rich women will still be able to access abortions when they need them.

Liberals make this point to highlight the fact that abortion is yet another locus for rising inequality. “If an extremist Supreme Court overturns Roe, wealthy women will still get safe abortions — by traveling to another state or country,” Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted in May. “But women of color, those with lower-incomes, and victims of abuse will suffer the most.”

On the right, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and others argue that people who really need an abortion can simply cross state lines to get one — suggesting that pro-choice constituencies are overreacting.

The notion that rich women will be fine, regardless of what the law says, is probably comforting to some. But it is simply not true.

Yes, abortion bans will disproportionately affect poor women and women of color in a country that already has appallingly high maternal mortality rates, no federal paid family leave and little support for parents who struggle to provide for their children financially. As Rebecca Traister pointed out in New York Magazine, this is nothing new: The Hyde Amendment and state restrictions have already made abortion effectively inaccessible to many women without means or mobility.

But we should not lose sight of the reality that the Supreme Court decision has created a crisis for all American women. Even the richest Americans — the one-percenters and the upper middle class — will not escape the effects.

Attenuating the rights of half of the population will have systemic effects akin to climate change. Just as no amount of investment in Mars-bound space colonization, air-conditioned bunkers and private firefighting services will save the rich from terrible outcomes if the planet becomes uninhabitable, the rich cannot avoid the effects of the overturning of Roe. Residents of blue states won’t be exempt. And men who think the ban won’t affect them are mistaken; it will affect women they know and love, and it will change the political economy in which they live and operate.

The persistent myth that the wealthy will be unaffected is predicated upon the vague notion that they’ll be able to access and purchase abortion pills by mail, travel to places where abortion is legal or get an abortion from a local provider willing to break the law.

And sure, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where a red state one-percenter has his daughter or wife airlifted to another state for an abortion — or, potentially, for in vitro fertilization, if it becomes illegal to terminate embryos. We are accustomed to different rules and privileges for the wealthy, and witness these injustices daily. People with more money and privilege conferred by race and class — people who have access to better lawyers — experience our justice system differently. They also get better health care and pay less in taxes as a share of income. We hold the rich to a lower, not higher, standard and tacitly accept that they will get away with cheating various systems.

But the wealthiest are in for some unpleasant surprises when it comes to abortion. The scenarios where a woman needs an abortion include medical emergencies where any delay in treatment can have severe, even fatal consequences — and in those circumstances abortion pills obtained by mail won’t help. One in 50 pregnancies in the United States are ectopic pregnancies, for example, where a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. The embryo must be removed, and delaying that treatment can result in sepsis, internal bleeding and death. Placental abruptions must be addressed immediately to avoid extensive bleeding, renal failure and even, in some instances, death. Any woman who finds herself in either of these scenarios is not going to be able to pack her bags and go for a long drive. Even for someone with the means, an airlift to a medical facility in another state may not be quick enough to save her. She will need to be treated locally and immediately. Some of the bans going into effect around the country include medical exceptions for these situations, but if there’s any ambiguity about what the law allows, the time it takes a medical professional to consult a lawyer may be the difference between life and death.

Some states are expected to try to ban interstate travel for abortions. Bans in Texas and Oklahoma leave room for that possibility. Planned Parenthood’s Montana branch has reportedly decided that it will no longer provide medication abortions for patients from certain states where bans are in effect or in the works, citing the “rapidly changing” legal landscape. It’s also clear that many Republicans view the Roe reversal as an inroad to a total federal ban. If they gain electoral victories in 2024, this is a very likely outcome, and in that case there will be no blue state abortion clinics to travel to. Even now, the lines and waiting times at abortion clinics in safe haven states are likely to get very long.

Many people also assume the wealthy can always find a local doctor willing to perform an abortion, even in a state where it has become illegal. This seems unlikely. While some providers did flout the law and provide women with abortions before Roe in 1973, the ubiquity of digital surveillance and other mechanisms for violating the privacy of women seeking abortions have made it far more difficult for them to do so privately and safely. Trigger laws are already forcing medical professionals to consult lawyers before they provide care, and laws that criminalize abortion leave health care workers with little incentive to violate them. When faced with the prospect of prosecution or losing a medical license, how many doctors will take this risk, even when money is offered? Meanwhile, anti-choice conservatives are already working to make it harder to access abortion pills.

Some believe abortion bans won’t affect them because they’ll never find themselves in need of an abortion. Conservatives might imagine the typical woman who needs one fits an archetype: poor, single, liberal, promiscuous, anti-family and irresponsible. But most women who get abortions are already mothers (60 percent). Nearly half of abortion seekers live below the poverty line, but a significant portion are not poor. (Women with higher incomes have more access to contraception, but that dynamic might change if the Supreme Court follows through on Justice Clarence Thomas’s suggestion to revisit earlier rulings, including the right to contraception.) Conservative families also include teenagers and young women whose privacy, autonomy and ability to seek medical care, regardless of whether their parents approve, will be severely compromised by abortion bans.

The reality is that women from every demographic need abortions. Well-off conservative women are not immune to contraception failures, gynecological emergencies, miscarriages, incest or rape. Many women find that despite their beliefs, carrying a pregnancy to term is just not something they can go through with, for a range of reasons. Pregnancy itself can be life-threatening for women with certain pre-existing medical conditions, and even for women who don’t have those risks, it is life-altering. The kind of person who might need or want an abortion is, put simply, any person capable of getting pregnant.

Women will die because of this — disproportionately poor and middle-class women, but not just poor and middle-class women. Rich women could just as easily suffer and die too — even those who think they would never need an abortion, or that they would never be denied essential medical care in the United States of America in 2022.

There will be other knock-on effects: Roe is a privacy law, and there are implications for the ruling outside of the issue of abortion. Forced birth will take women out of the workforce in an already tight labor market. Women could be treated like criminals for having miscarriages, which are incredibly common. And women who are pregnant when their partners don’t want them to be will be more at risk for domestic violence and homicide. Individual wealth won’t prevent these outcomes either.

It is of course true that the wealthy are the least vulnerable in the new post-Roe world, and this is not a requiem for them on a tiny violin. But it is important for all parties to understand that everyone is going to participate in this nightmare, whether they realize it now or not. The wealthy unfortunately have an outsized influence on politics, so how much the bans harm them, inconvenience them or enrage them will likely affect the will of politicians to vote for and maintain abortion bans.

The overturning of Roe will affect all of us. And if you are lucky enough to be wealthy, your money probably won’t shield you.

Not The Lawyer I'd Want

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

The Most Oppressive Tyranny


Monday, July 04, 2022

The Fourth Of July

Today is Independence Day. It marks the time when our forefathers established our democracy. It was an imperfect version of democracy, but we have slowly made it better over the years.

Sadly, that was not true of this past year. For the first time in the nation's history, some groups (women and red-state voters) have less rights than they did in the previous year.

In addition, one of our major political parties has decided it no longer believes in a democracy based on free and fair elections. They want the right to overturn election results and put themselves in perpetual power (creating a fascist government).

Our democracy is in peril. But we (voters) can save the democracy by voting blue in the coming election, and continuing to do so until the Republican Party comes to its senses.

I hope all my readers have a safe and happy (as possible) holiday!

The Summers Are Getting Hotter - And More Dangerous!


Most Don't Want Trump Or Biden To Run In 2024

The charts above are from the Harris / Harvard Poll -- done on June 28th and 29th of a nationwide sample of 1,308 registered voters. (No margin of error was given)


Political Cartoon is by Randall Enos at Cagle.com.

The 3 Major Untruths In The Decision Overturning Roe Vs. Wade

The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade was terrible. And it was nonsense -- because it contained statement in the majority opinion that simply are not true. In this op-ed for The Washington Post, David Von Drehle list the three biggest untruths in that decision:

“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization begins with this truth. The path ahead for a troubled America would be easier if it continued in this candid vein.

Instead, the decision to substitute today’s court majority for the majorities of the past half-century — thus ending the right to abortion — quickly declines into a web of untruths and evasions.

One cannot arraign the entire dishonesty of the ruling in a single column. Dobbs suffers massively from the pandemic disease of the high court: verbosity. Nothing is said once that can instead be said half a dozen times. Justices have too many clerks and too little work, and so they spend months in their chambers swooning to the sound of their own voices.

But three major deceptions are enough to give a flavor of the whole.

First, the Dobbs holding — written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and joined by four other justices — repeatedly asserts the untrue claim that Roe v. Wade in 1973 usurped the role of state legislatures in regulating abortion and robbed states of the freedom to craft laws reflecting diverse views. “Roe abruptly ended that political process,” Alito asserted. “It imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation.”

Not even Alito can sustain this canard for more than a few hundred words. Very soon, he stumbles onto the truth: “Americans continue to hold passionate and widely divergent views on abortion, and state legislatures have acted accordingly.”

Obviously, legislatures cannot be highly restricted and widely divergent at the same time.

The court’s abortion rulings never foreclosed debate. The rulings merely structured the debate as a search for those regulations that successfully express the values of a state’s majority while protecting a limited zone of self-determination for women. Dobbs is not about restoring power to the states that was wrongly seized by the courts. It is about taking power away from individuals and giving it to government.

A second deception follows directly from the first. Dobbs attempts to mislead its readers into believing that stripping people of power somehow enhances democracy. Abortion, Alito wrote, is “a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people.” And later: “We thus return the power to weigh those arguments to the people.”

But that is what Roe did, and what Dobbs undoes. Roe, in all its imperfections, grappled honestly with the “profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views” — and placed those profound decisions directly in the hands of those closest to the issue. It’s true that a state legislature is, by some measures, closer to the people than a court of nine justices in Washington. But far, far closer to this profound and difficult issue are the individuals who must wrestle with the many implications of an unwanted pregnancy, perhaps aided by their families, friends, doctors or counselors.

Dobbs strips decision-making from those closest to the moral struggle and most deeply invested in it. It gives that power to people and institutions that are not directly involved. Then, with shocking dishonesty, Alito presents this as some sort of magnificent restoration of self-determination. He reads the Constitution — which begins “We the People” — and finds no actual people in it. Only legislatures.

Thirdly, Alito and his co-signers claim that the Dobbs decision in no way threatens other rights that have been determined by using exactly the same reasoning as Roe. The line of cases that led to Roe, and led from it to other rights, is “inapposite,” Alito wrote primly.

Freedom from forced sterilization, the right to choose one’s spouse, access to contraception, privacy in the bedroom — these rights stand on precisely the same ground as the right to abortion. And according to Dobbs, the right to abortion is groundless. Yet somehow, those other rights aren’t threatened “in any way.”

That howler didn’t even survive the huddle of the Gang of Five. Justice Clarence Thomas called bullfeathers in his concurring opinion — a document that confirmed two truths about this singular figure: Thomas is the most radical justice in U.S. history, and he is scrupulously honest about it.

He did not pretend, along with his colleagues, that abortion could be surgically plucked from the intimate rights handed over from state power to individual choice by a century of jurisprudence. Unlike Alito, Thomas told the truth: Individual autonomy over intimate decisions is up for grabs.

I said I would discuss three deceptions — but they lead me to a fourth. Dobbs pretends to be the very model of judicial modesty, even as five mandarins in Washington erase the work of their predecessors. Judges should not have such power! the judges declare, as they hurl their lightning bolt.

Something Missing

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.

There's Been A Huge Change For Women Since 1970


Sunday, July 03, 2022

Tax The Massive Profits Of Big Oil Companies


47% Of GOP Say Left Wingers Caused Jan. 6th Attack

The charts above are from a Yahoo News / YouGov Poll -- done between June 24th and 27th of a nationwide sample of 1,630 adults, with about a 3 point margin of error.

It shows that about 47% of Republicans and 43% of Fox News viewers say the January 6th attack on the Capitol was done by left-wingers trying to make Trump look bad.

Reality is not even a concept with these people.

Don't Feel Like Celebrating

Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in the Columbia Missourian.

Biden More Popular Than Congress Or The Supreme Court

The chart above is from the recent Emerson College Poll -- done on June 28th and 29th of a nationwide sample of 1,271 registered voters, with a 2.7 point margin of error. 

It shows that the public is not really happy with any branch of our national government. But President Biden has a much better approval rating (39%) than either Congress (19%) or the Supreme Court (36%).

Kicking Down The Door

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at Cagle.com.

Republicans Are Waging A War Against Women Having Sex

 Mara Gay exposes the GOP's war on women having sex in this op-ed in The New York Times:

One day I hope to become a mother. But for now I have sex just because I like it. Sex is fun.

For the puritanical tyrants seeking to control our bodies, that’s a problem. This radical minority, including the right-wing faction on the Supreme Court, probably won’t stop at banning abortion. If we take Justice Clarence Thomas at his word — and there’s no reason not to — the right to contraception could be the next to fall. Why? Because many in this movement are animated by an insatiable desire to punish women who have sex on our own terms and enjoy it.

State laws restricting or banning abortion are an attack on American women who decide whether, when and how to have children. They are part of a movement intended to curb the hard-won freedom to pursue careers and joys outside the confines of wifehood and motherhood. Some Republicans have said just this, and it’s important that we believe them.

Take J.D. Vance, the G.O.P. nominee for Senate in Ohio, who apparently thinks women like me belong at home, not writing opinions in national newspapers: “If your worldview tells you that it’s bad for women to become mothers but liberating for them to work 90 hours a week in a cubicle at The New York Times or Goldman Sachs, you’ve been had,” Mr. Vance wrote recently on Twitter.

Charlie Shepherd, an Idaho state representative, said he voted against using federal funds to increase early childhood education because “any bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child, I don’t think that’s a good direction for us to be going.”

One tweeter said the quiet part out loud: “If you’re scared for your daughter’s future, maybe focus on raising her to not be a slut.”

A radical minority of Americans wants to make an example of women who have sex outside marriage, women who compete with men in the workplace, women who are independent and who cannot be controlled. That’s part of why birth control is likely their next target. That’s why the same movement that claims to care about babies is so uninterested in the health and lives of the people who bring them into this world, and so hostile to the policies that would support those children and their families after they are born.

In the America where I came of age, I was told my life was worth more than my ability to have babies. And my sexuality was nothing to be ashamed of.

I read Audre Lorde, who years earlier had explored the power of the erotic, a resource that, she wrote, “lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane” within each of us as women. I learned about the Black feminists who proclaimed that “choice is the essence of freedom” and saw reproductive rights as essential to the fight against white supremacy and its insidious attempts to control the lives and bodies of Black people. “Oh yes, we have known how painful it is to be without choice in this land,” a 1989 declaration signed by a group of prominent Black women in support of abortion rights read. “We who have been oppressed should not be swayed in our opposition to tyranny, of any kind.”

At the large and diverse public suburban New York City schools I attended in the early 2000s, we weren’t shamed or taught that abstinence was the only righteous path. The focus was on how to practice sex safely and responsibly, and with consent. We were taught that our sexuality was part of our humanity, and that it belonged to us alone.

Later, when I was a student at the University of Michigan, the movement for sex positivity was thrilling and liberating. We learned that pleasurable sexual experiences between consenting adults of all genders and orientations were to be celebrated. Every year the school held a safe-sex fair, handing out condoms and prescriptions for Plan B. One year the students erected a giant replica of a vulva, tall enough to walk through, complete with a working bell at the top where the clitoris would be. That used to be a fun memory for me. Now what I think about is how I had more rights then, over a decade ago, than I have today.

One reason I practice safe sex is thanks to that comprehensive, humane sex education. Another is the basic self-respect that comes from growing up in an America that, while imperfect, has come to view women as equal citizens and human beings.

It’s clear that a radical minority in the United States — from the right-wing zealots on the Supreme Court to a group of sexually illiterate politicians who clearly weren’t paying attention in health class — sees us differently.

Just one example is Yesli Vega, a Republican congressional candidate in Virginia who dismissed concerns about women being forced to carry pregnancies that result from rape, saying in audio recordings leaked recently that it wouldn’t surprise her if it were harder to become pregnant from rape because “it’s not something that’s happening organically” and rapists do it “quickly.”

This movement has relegated the women of this country to second-class citizenship, stripped us of autonomy over our own bodies and denied us essential health care. Now the people behind it are betting that our sense of hopelessness will paralyze us, allowing them to carry out their repressed vision of America without resistance.

But there are more of us than there are of them. That’s especially true if American men recognize that their way of life is also under attack. Men also have sex for pleasure. This is not just a women’s issue.

In the days after Roe fell, I have been wondering if the men I’ve dated are reflecting on how they too have benefited from the rights I and other American women enjoyed for the past half-century. What might their lives be like if I hadn’t had access to emergency contraception or birth control? Would they have the jobs, the marriages, the children, the freedom they do today?

They’re good men, and I’m happy for them. I’d also like to ask: Will I see you at the next protest? Join us.

Death Sentence

 Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Banned For Exposing Capitalism


Saturday, July 02, 2022

GOP Has Become The Culture War Cult Of Trump


Concern About Abortion And Women's Rights Is Growing

The chart is from the AP-NORC Poll -- done between June 23rd and 27th of a nationwide sample of 1,053 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

Supreme Court Dress

Political Cartoon is by J.D. Crowe in the Mobile Register.

Boebert Says The Church Should Rule The Government


The following op-ed regarding the dangerous idea of a christian-dominated government is by Steve Benen at MSNBC.com:

Rep. Lauren Boebert was already one of Congress’ most controversial members, but after the Colorado Republican argued this past weekend that “the church is supposed to direct the government,” GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger apparently couldn’t let that go. HuffPost noted:

Kinzinger likened Boebert’s vision to that of the Taliban, the militant group that violently imposes an extremist interpretation of Islam on much of Afghanistan. “There is no difference between this and the Taliban. We must [oppose] the Christian Taliban,” he tweeted. “I say this as a Christian.”

To be sure, the Illinois Republican’s pushback was provocative, so it’s worth taking a closer look at what exactly Boebert said.

The far-right congresswoman, just a couple of days before her GOP primary, spoke at a religious service and told attendees, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it.”

Boebert added, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution.”

It’s difficult to overstate how spectacularly wrong this was.

Right off the bat, the idea that “the church is supposed to direct the government” is antithetical to everything in the American tradition. One of the bedrock principles of the United States is that we’re governed by a secular Constitution. There are, to be sure, countries in which religious institutions “direct” their governments, but they’re generally known as theocracies.

If Boebert is looking for examples, I’d refer her to countries like Iran. The idea that the United States should abandon our traditions and emulate the Iranian model is ... how do I put this gently ... a curious thing for a member of Congress to say out loud and on purpose in the 21st century.

What’s more, the congresswoman’s belief that the nation’s framers “intended” for the United States to have a system in which “the church” — she didn’t say which one — “is supposed to direct the government” is utterly bonkers. We’re talking about a group of Americans who created a Constitution that doesn’t even mention “God” or any specific faith tradition.

If the Founding Fathers wanted a theocratic-like system, they would’ve created one. They instead did the opposite.

As for the Coloradan’s assertion that the separation of church and state is “junk that’s not in the Constitution,” I’d refer Boebert to the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

According to Thomas Jefferson, those 16 words created a “wall of separation between church and state” — and he’s a bit more credible in this area than the first-term far-right lawmaker.

Gwen Calais-Haase, a political scientist at Harvard University, toldThe Washington Post that Boebert’s interpretation of the Constitution was “false, misleading and dangerous.” Calais-Haase added that she’s “extremely worried about the environment of misinformation that extremist politicians take advantage of for their own gains.”

Steven K. Green, a professor of law and affiliated professor of history and religious studies at Willamette University, went on tell the Post, “While the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear verbatim in the Constitution, neither do many accepted constitutional principles such as separation of powers, judicial review, executive privilege, or the right to marry and parental rights, no doubt rights that Rep. Boebert cherishes.”

All of this, of course, coincides with the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority becoming overtly hostile towards the concept of government neutrality in matters of faith.

All of which is to say, Kinzinger is right to be concerned.

The Pollution Court

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.