The SCOTUS abortion ballet

“enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not”

abortionIt’s not that I’m happy that the Texas state legislature passed legislation severely restricting abortion. It’s that I’m unsurprised. I’ve come to expect dreadful things from the Texas legislature – see its recent restrictive voting bill.

These bills were signed by its terrible, awful, not very good governor, Greg Abbott, who’s always in fierce contention with Florida’s Ron DeSantis as my least favorite state chief executive.

The latest bad law in Texas bans abortion as early as six weeks. For women with regular menstruation cycles, they have only two weeks after missing a period to determine pregnancy. This is before most people even know they are pregnant.

Vigilantes

Worse, the state law allows anyone to sue a person or organization that provides abortion care or even helps someone obtain an abortion. As Truthout notes: “The drafters of SB 8 established a novel scheme to prevent lawsuits against state officials by privatizing enforcement and deputizing private persons to sue people who provide abortions.

“The bill gives any non-governmental person the right to sue abortion providers and those who ‘aid and abet’ them, financially or otherwise… Defendants must pay plaintiffs who win their lawsuits a $10,000 bounty plus attorneys’ fees. In other words, Texas is bribing its residents to sue people who help women get abortions.”

This variation on vigilante justice is not only constitutionally dubious but potentially dangerous to the potential defendants. The targets “could include anyone — doctors, nurses, friends, spouses, parents, domestic violence counselors, clergy members or Uber drivers.” Given the rage people have over vaccine requirements and mask mandates, this is scary stuff. As VoteVets noted: “In a state with fewer restrictions on guns than on reproductive health care, that kind of vigilante justice is pretty terrifying.”

Supreme Court punts

So I’m furious with the SCOTUS abortion ballet. In a one-paragraph, unsigned order, the court acknowledged that the providers had “raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law.” But that was not enough to stop the law from going into effect. The court explained it’s because of the way the law operates.

Specifically, the court observed, it wasn’t clear whether the state officials – a judge and court clerk – and the anti-abortion activist whom the abortion providers had named as defendants “can or will seek to enforce the Texas law” against the providers in a way that would allow the court to get involved in the dispute at this stage.”

That’s legal mumbo jumbo for BS. As Chief Justice John Roberts notes, SCOTUS has allowed the state to allow the implementation of a law that could be unconstitutional. “The Court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

As Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in dissent, the Texas “Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not…The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligation to not only protect the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”

Onerous

In a state that leads the country and much of the developed world in the rate of maternal mortality, women in Texas will now have to travel to another state to secure an abortion or resort to life-threatening back-alley coat-hanger abortions. There is no exception for rape or incest.

Biden said the Court’s [in]action in Woman’s Whole Health “unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.” He added, “Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women.”

Future

Does this mean that Roe v. Wade has been overturned? Not necessarily. This was a wuss non-action by SCOTUS. The Court will address Roe in a  Mississippi case soon. The Court’s actions in Texas DOES make me nervous about Roe’s future.

It’d be nice if Congress would pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, but I’m not encouraged. 

89 more people = no lost NY House seat

27 to 26

census2020-storyimageWhen I heard that New York State was to lose a Congressional seat after the next reapportionment, it didn’t particularly upset me. The projections from months ago had suggested the possibility of the state losing one or even two seats.

UNTIL I heard that if the state had counted 89 more people, and the other numbers had stayed the same, the number in New York would have stood pat. Minnesota would have lost a House seat.

THEN it hurt. I mean almost physically pained me. I took it personally. I’d spent months trying to plug the Census. Then I WORKED the Census as an enumerator for six or seven weeks. I was SO invested.

Put in your favorite sports cliche here. US football last play of the game, down 4 points, and the running play stops three inches shy of the goal line. Two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in baseball, down one, runner on base, and the blast from the batter is caught at the fence. The basketball three-pointer to win hits the rim and bounces away.

I Heart NY

New York was the 32nd fastest-growing state in the nation. The US gained 7.4% overall. With 20,201,249 residents, NY’s count was 4.2% higher than in 2010. But the New York delegation will fall from 27 to 26 members of the House of Representatives.

BTW, the US saw the lowest overall population growth since the Great Depression. “Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration, and the scars of the Great Recession more than a decade ago,” reports the Associated Press, “which led many young adults to delay marriage and families.”

Incidentally, these pieces may be of interest:

A Preliminary Analysis of U.S. and State-Level Results From the 2020 Census.

How the Census Bureau Unduplicated Responses in the 2020 Census.

March rambling: 151 fictional species

Upstate NY climate haven?

Zoom meetingsWhat is the only country with Catalan as an official national language? What is the only officially bilingual province in Canada? Answers below.

United Methodist conservatives detail plans for a breakaway. Their leaders have unveiled plans to form a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

North Dakota Is About to Kill the National Popular Vote Compact.

Daily Kos very comprehensive guide to the 117th Congress, members, and districts.

Upstate NY cities named among the best climate havens as the world grows hotter.

Jeff Sharlet: All That We’ve Lost (COVID).

24 Cybersecurity Statistics During the Spiraling Panic Around COVID-19.

Wait at Least Seven Weeks After COVID for Surgery.

Heather McGhee – “The Sum of Us” and The True Cost of Racism | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Judge blisters prosecutors as he releases 3 wrongfully convicted Black men after 24 years.

The African/American Table.

Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Activist And Power Broker Dies At 85.

Roger Mudd, the longtime TV newsman, dies at 93.

Five things worth knowing about the Mars Perseverance Rover.

Tyranny of Choice.

Why spacing out is good for you.

Vlogbrothers: How Much Hope is OK?

Snow Days May Never Be the Same. As I’ve noted, boo, hiss!

Before You Blow Up on  YouTube | The Cautionary Tale of Jani Lane.

How to Delete Your Old Online Accounts (and Why You Should).

Deep Nostalgia photorealism on the MyHeritage site. Creepy.

Does Alcohol Really Burn Off When Cooked?

Cherry Blossom Cam – U.S. National Park Service in DC. The predicted peak blossom time is April 2-5.

Pokémon at 25: How 151 fictional species took over the world.

 We’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe we are.

Now I Know

Attempted Mann-Slaughter and Squashing the Garden and The Blues for Some Boo-Boos and The Soviet Plan to End the Weekend and The Not-Quite-Vice-President Who Was Almost Accidentally President and The Rock-Paper-Scissors Lizards and Arresting The Chief and  Why Blue Means Stop in Hawaii and The Other Harvard Makes a Bad Sale and The Genoa Exception.

MUSIC

Mr. Biden (Bring My Vaccine) – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody

String Quartet in G Major – Florence Price

William Tell Overture (ending) – The Great Kat

Karelia Suite and Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Coverville 1348: This Day in Covers: February 25, 1976, and 1349: David Gilmour and “Girl” Groups.

Aquarius – Peter Lawford.

Let’s Hang On – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The Rebecca Jade section

Home Made, Parts 10 and 11

Panda Remix.

Remind Me

Concert of Pat Metheny music, Live(ish) From SpragueLand: Episode 16, The Fields, The Sky.

Answers

Andorra; New Brunswick.

Sedition and other high crimes

“loser of the year”

fomenting violenceThe fact that the Supreme Court, as expected, rejected that absurd Texas lawsuit doesn’t fill me with the joy that it should.

Of course, the attempt to overthrow Joe Biden’s election victory was bogus. It is, presumably, again and yet again, the “end of the road” for the crusade to overturn the election. But America lost anyway.

His angry mob supporters spark terrorism fears. When he levels threats at the Republican Attorney General in Georgia, his rabid fans take him literally. “Brad Raffensperger… and his wife have received death threats, including by text message, and caravans have circled their house.”

People just trying to do their jobs

And, per a list from the New York Times:

* Dozens of his supporters, some armed, went to the home of Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, and began shouting obscenities.

* On Twitter, his supporters have posted photographs of the home of Ann Jacobs, a Wisconsin official, and mentioned her children.

* In Phoenix, about 100 of his supporters, some armed, protested at the building where officials were counting votes.

* In Vermont, officials received a voice message threatening them with “execution by firing squad.”

* Seth Bluestein, a Philadelphia official, received anti-Semitic and violent threats after Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General and ally of IMPOTUS, publicly mentioned him.

* A Georgia poll worker went into hiding after a viral video falsely claimed he had discarded ballots.

Reality?

* Gabriel Sterling, another Georgia official, received a message wishing him a happy birthday and saying it would be his last. In a later interview with Time magazine, Sterling argued that elected politicians could defuse the threats by acknowledging that the election was fair. “Leadership is supposed to look like grown-ups in the room saying, ‘I know you’re upset, but this is the reality.'”

The reality, of course, is not the intent of the “reality” star. It appears to be to foment the violence, and he has succeeded. I agree with the official who worries, “I don’t know how this ends without violence and death.”

And I lay it at the feet of the guy who said, both in 2016 and 2020, long before the votes were counted, that if he didn’t win, the elections must have been rigged. So only one-quarter of Republicans believe Biden actually won.

High crimes

These 40 days of denial and disinformation got me to look at 18 USC Ch. 115: TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. It’s odd because it is the presumed, albeit outgoing, HEAD of the government that, one could argue is, per §2385, Advocating the overthrow of Government.

“Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Conspiracy

“Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

“Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.”

One could – and I do – make the argument that in the words of Garry B. Trudeau, He’s “guilty, guilty, guilty.” I’m generally not a fan of sedition acts, as they almost always dampen free speech. But when actions by a soon-to-be-retired high-ranking government employee threaten the very fabric of democracy, I accept it.

Wusses

So why did 126 Republican members of Congress and about a dozen and a half state attorneys general sign on to this Supreme Court travesty? Fear of what he can do with that over $200 million that he has raised, ostensibly to fight the”rigged” election.

But he’ll have plenty of leftover cash. Those Republicans not toeing the orange line might get a well-funded primary challenge in 2022. He’s taking names, he said, like a demented Saint Nicholas, seeing who’s naughty or nice, to him.

Sometimes he tells the truth. Maybe he WILL start his own media company to take on the suddenly non-compliant FOX. This will give him the visibility for those other Republicans who want to make a 2024 White House run, that it’ll be an uphill climb.

Can’t win for losing

This week, the prominent German news magazine Der Spiegel named him its “loser of the year”. This happened the same day Time magazine named President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris its “Person of the Year.”

“In an article titled ‘Der Verlierer des Jahres…’ the publication’s Washington bureau chief Roland Nelles and Berlin-based correspondent Ralf Neukirch described him as a ‘man who … was never concerned with the common good, but always with one thing — himself.’

“Nothing is normal under him. He refuses to admit defeat. Instead, he speaks of massive electoral fraud, although there is no evidence for it. The whole thing is not surprising. His presidency ends as it began. Without decency and without dignity.”

I contend, though, that IMPOTUS has won. From that NYT:

His “attempts to overturn the election result are very unlikely to succeed. For that reason, the effort can sometimes seem like a publicity stunt — an effort… to raise money and burnish his image with his supporters.

“And it may well be all of those things. But it is also a remarkable campaign against American democracy. It has grown to include most Republican-run states, most Republican members of Congress, and numerous threats of violence. The new centerpiece in the effort is [that] lawsuit.” And the cowardly Republicans who signed on are “‘inflaming the public’, causing many voters to believe — wrongly — that a presidential election was unfair.”

If you Google 1918 Germany, you’ll find several references to one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century. “Powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to…the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

“Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation.” The “lies” were perpetrated by the liberals and the Jews. “That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter.” This is not a path the US should follow.

As my friend Alan notes, “He spends every day successfully sabotaging the institutions of our government, which means he is sabotaging the health and safety of every human being in the country. He is the greatest threat to the United States in its history.”

Voting for the incumbent, save one

Paul Tonko v. Liz Joy

Paul Tonko
Paul Tonko

I voted yesterday, in person, at one of the six polling places in  Albany County, and the only one in the city of Albany. I voted by mail in the June primary. Now my fear of being disenfranchised is greater than the threat of COVID.

If you don’t know who I voted for in the Presidential race, I’ve been far too subtle. There are three Congressional races in this television market. Only one, of course, is for my district.

NY-19

South of here is the 19th Congressional district. The incumbent is Anthony Delgado (D), who won the nomination in a very crowded primary field in 2018. In that general election, he knocked off one-term Congressman John Faso, plus two other candidates, including Diane Neal, formerly on the TV show Law and Order: SVU.

In 2020, Delgado is running against Kyle Van De Water (R), as well as Steven Greenfield (Green) and Victoria Alexander (Libertarian). But I’ve only seen Delgado commercials here, mostly him touting how he keeps in touch with his constituents, even during a pandemic.

NY-21

The most contentious race in the area is in the 21st district, north of here, between incumbent Elise Stefanik (R) and Tedra Cobb (D). This is a rematch of their 2018 race, which the Republican won by 13.7 percentage points. Stefanik had replaced retiring incumbent Bill Owens (D), beating Aaron Woolf (D) handily back in 2014.

Both campaigns use a combination of inspirational and negative ads. Stefanik touts helping small businesses in her district, sort of helping to make pizza. She’s with a group of police officers when she, and they, note they “back the blue”; she’s even wearing blue jeans, perhaps to emphasize the point. She paints Cobb as a tax-and-spend liberal.

Cobb portrays Stefanik, who appeared at the 2020 Republican National convention, as a Trump clone. Her best ad shows her and her adult daughter discussing the fragility of having health coverage.

NY-20

In my district, the 20th, Paul Tonko (D) was first elected in 2012. He had been a long-time member of the New York State Assembly. I could name none of his opponents prior to this year.

In August, I saw a couple of lawn signs, not far from my house, for Liz Joy. I have no recollection of lawn signs from any of Tonko’s previous opponents.

Then she ran this damn TV ad. She’s leading a bunch of women down the streets and spouting some law-and-order blather. She suggesting Paul Tonko and the Democrats are seeking to destroy the police and the country. I was appalled with the Sarah Palinesque tactic. If I saw her, I’d say, “Oh, come ON, Liz! Tonko as a wide-eyed radical?”

I met Liz Joy once. She was a blogger for the Times Union, though her blog is down for the duration of the campaign. Mike Huber, who was the blogmeister at the time, wanted to find some more conservative voices, and she qualified.

One of the other TU bloggers had a small gathering – six or eight of us – at their apartment, perhaps in the late autumn of 2016, and she was invited. There’s a photo somewhere. She was very pleasant. We DIDN’T talk politics at all.

The one ad I saw of Tonko’s was a fairly boring one about him serving his constituents. I don’t know him, but I’ve run into him several times. He’d be at an Underground Railroad event, an economic development session, the 50th anniversary of FOCUS churches celebration, and the like. If he’s in town, and not in DC, he’s meeting the citizens.

Liz Joy would not be unsurprised that I am voting for Paul Tonko.