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. 

February rambling: Perseverance

Chick Corea

perseveranceShe counted ballots in a pandemic, and he killed two people. Guess who gets treated like a hero?

One county, worlds apart: Bridging the political divide.

Weekly Sift: Why You Can’t Understand Conservative Rhetoric

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Fixing our Democracy.

Trust Is The Coin Of The Realm.” by the late former secretary of state George Schultz.

Detailed interactive map of the 2020 Election.

How 100 years of Democratic rule have shaped the city of Albany.

How I survived a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs.

Texas

Rick Perry and the Hard Libertarian Formulation.

How the Bush family turned off the lights.

El Paso Heeded the Warnings and Avoided a Winter Catastrophe.

Ted Cruz is feckless.

Perseverance needed

Fascist insurgency persists with the merging of QAnon, militia movements, white extremists. They spread new conspiracy Trump will be president again on March 4, so Trump’s D.C. hotel nearly triples its rates.

History Will Find Trump Guilty.

How the Proud Boys Pitch Themselves to People of Color.

Health  and wellness

COVID-19 Is Ravaging Local Newspapers, Making it Easier for Misinformation to Spread.

John Green: I Predicted the Pandemic (over and over and over again).

The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship

Second COVID-19 Shot Is a Rude Reawakening for Immune Cells. Side effects are just a sign that protection is kicking in as it should.

I’m getting good at this grief thing.

Tony Bennett’s Battle With Alzheimer’s

Embrace the nap

Assemblage

How to be a  genius

Bill Mahar gives the Baldy Award to policy wonk Henry Waxman.

17 years ago, Jason West, mayor of New Paltz, NY set the groundwork for the 2011 marriage equality law by presiding over same-sex marriages in his community.

“When in Doubt, Do Something.” Harry Chapin in Recent Media.

Jaquandor reviews the 1994 film What Happened Was… 

After GM poked fun of Norway in Super Bowl ad, Norway painfully hits back.

The Curse of the Buried Treasure

The Hollywood Con Queen Who Scammed Aspiring Stars Out of Hundreds of Thousands.

Missed: He flew to Paris to surprise his girlfriend. She flew to Edinburgh to surprise him

Larry Flynt paid me $1,000 to keep my clothes ON.

She traded her way from a bobby pin to a tiny house in 6 months.

JEOPARDY!

Alex Trebek’s family donates his wardrobe to charity.

Brayden Smith 

The guest host schedule.

Now I Know

Frederick Douglass  Is Not Amused. The Hunger Stones.  When Ziggy  Should Have Zagged. The Little Bit of Sun That Cost a Half-Million Dollars.  In the President’s Dog House.  The Search For Life on Earth.

Black History Month

Black Futures Month

Jacob Lawrence painted Black America for Black people — not the white gaze.

Jim Crow Filibuster

The history of overalls

Caste book supplement.

Lift Every Voice and Sing, A Celebration of African American Music – Sounds of St Olaf.

MUSIC

With God on Our Side – The Neville Brothers.

Who’s Yellen Now? – Dessa.

Marjorie Taylor Greene – Randy Rainbow.

I Won’t Dance -Willie Nelson ft. Diana Krall.

Tribute to Pops and Ella – Leonard Patton with Rebecca Jade.

Sixteen Tons – Geoff Castellucci.

Psychedelic Jazz Guitar – Boogaloo Joe Jones, 1967 album.

Sweet Blindness – The Fifth Dimension and Frank Sinatra.

A video analyzing in extreme detail Lady Gaga’s rendition of the national anthem at the inauguration. (ht/ch)

Coverville

1344: Cover Stories for Alicia Keys, Neil Diamond, and Phil Collins.

1345: Justin Timberlake Cover Story and Delvon Lamarr Interview. 

1346: Cover Stories for Gene Pitney and Feist. 

1347: Stone Roses Cover Story and the 50th Anniversary of Tapestry

Chick Corea

Obit and photo tribute and Remembrance and video link.

Movie documentary: Boys State

youth politics

Boys StateOK, I’ve decided that I need to try to systematically see more movies. Recent movies. Normally, I would be at the cinema a lot this month, but I’m not. Luckily, I saw this list  of Ty Burr’s “Watch these 10 recent movies.”

Currently, I don’t have Netflix or Disney+ or Hulu, or HBO Max. But only since the end of December, I do have Apple TV+. I bought a new phone, which I haven’t figured out how to operate yet. But it came with a free year of the streaming service. And Boys State is available presently on that platform.

It is a “documentary about the Texas version of the one-week civics program where high school kids divide into parties and run for office.” As a political science junkie, this could be heaven or horrific. I found it closer to the former. “It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020, where the film won the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize.” Then it was released in August.

One may be potentially seeing “the next generation of politicians.” The program is sponsored by the American Legion across the country, with separate tracks for boys and girls. Alumni include political figures as diverse as Bill Clinton, Samuel Alito, Dick Cheney, Cory Booker, and Rush Limbaugh.

Politics, and tricks

Are the young men better than what we have now, or are they just emulating the mistakes of the adults they admire? “They are fascinatingly complex.” For certain. “Boys State shows that those [noble] aims can only do so much to keep the uglier side of that process at bay,” Erik Adams of AV Club noted.

One candidate for governor took a position diametrically opposed to what he believed because thought it would be more palatable to the constituents. Steven, on the other hand, was “a young man whose political skills are second to his open-mindedness and decency. In short, there’s hope.”

I highly recommend Boys State.

T for Texas, T for Tennessee

Lorraine Motel

Texas.TennesseeT for Texas, T for Tennessee. This is a reference to a Jimmie Rogers song that was covered by several artists, including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The version I first heard, segueing into another song, was by the Everly Brothers.

The states are separated by Arkansas, where I have never been, though my wife’s best friend moved there several years ago.

Tennessee Waltz

I’ve been to Tennessee twice. the first time was in 1970. A bunch of us high school kids raised money to visit Fayette County, which was described to us as the poorest county in the country. It was certainly very rural.

On that trip, we traveled rather quickly to Memphis, where we saw the Lorraine Motel. That was the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It would subsequently be turned into a civil rights museum.

Memphis Blues – Duke Ellington

The other was c 2002 when I attended the Association of Small Business Development Centers conference in the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, which was part mall, part amusement park.

Crazy Town – Jason Aldean

TN Tennessee, a state in the southeast US, historically abbreviated Tenn. Capital and largest city: Nashville.

Tennessee Waltz – Connie Francis

The Six Flags of Texas

If you’re not from the United States, you may or may not realize that Texas has an oversized presence in the American narrative. It has a unique history. It was controlled by Spain for three centuries, interrupted by a five-year rule by France. From 1821 to 1836, it was under Mexican control; remember the Alamo.

Then in 1836, it was a republic until 1845, when it became a US state. It’s been that ever since. Well, except for that period between 1861 and 1865.

Everything is bigger in Texas. It was the largest state by area until Alaska supplanted it in 1959. Now Texas is the second-largest state in terms of population. It has the biggest state fair.

TX Texas, a state in the south-central US, abbreviated Tex. Largest city: Houston, the fourth largest in the US, while San Antonio is seventh. “Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively.” Capital: Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the US, after Phoenix, AZ.

I went to a Texas state conference of Small Business Development Centers in 1996. It was held in Galveston, on the Gulf Coast. I woke up at 6 a.m. Eastern time, which was 5 in the Central Time Zone. I walked out on a jetty, and I stood there as the tide came in; it was glorious. Later, I saw a Houston Astros game in the Astrodome, which was not a great place to see baseball.

There are tons of songs about Texas. My favorite is That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas by Lyle Lovett.

ABC Wednesday

Curiouser and curiouser: 20 questions

Donald Trump, because he’s a twit. Planned Parenthood, because it’s constantly under attack.

There’s this website Curious as a Cat, and it asks one to three questions each week. Here are some from 2006 and 2007 I deigned to answer.

1. What is the one experience in your life that has caused the most pain?
Physical pain. Tie between a broken rib and oral surgery. Emotional, surely an affair of the heart.

2. If you had to pick one thing, what would you say is the single thing that can destroy a soul?
Telling so many lies that you start thinking it’s the truth.

3. What one thing always speaks deeply to you, to your spirit, no matter your mood or what else is going on in your life?
Music, always. I hear it all the time. Sometimes it’s something I’ve heard recently, but more often it’s a tune suitable for the moment.

4. What is the least appropriate thing to pray for?

Actually, the harm of someone else. But I get most irritated when sports figures seem to think that God was on THEIR side after a victory; I was reading a Guideposts magazine article recently, which said, and I agree, “God doesn’t care.”

5. If you could remove one of the current Supreme Court justices based on their moral positions, whom would you choose?
Tough. Clarence Thomas is SO awful, and ought to be impeached for ethical violations. But Antonin Scalia (pictured) tends to steer Thomas’ voting compass, so I guess I’ll say him; he ought to be checked out, too.

6. Name one event that changed your relationship with your family the most.
I think it was the rapprochement of my two sisters in the past few years, who used to argue a lot. They would (especially one of them) call me up and vent about the other. Now that that’s no longer the case, I get fewer calls.

7. If you were to make a collage to describe yourself to others, what sorts of pictures or symbols would you include?
Clearly, it would have a picture of red sneakers; I used to have a Christmas ornament of red sneakers, but it broke. A racquetball racquet, the picture of me as a duck, the cover of the Beatles Revolver album, the cover of a Howard the Duck comic book, a caricature of me singing several years ago, the front cover of the World Almanac, a picture of my two sisters and me when I was a kid, a picture of my parents, a picture of my wife & daughter & me.

8. Which year was the best of your life? How old were you? Would you want to live it again?
1978, when I moved to Schenectady, got a job I liked, had my first steady girlfriend in over two years. I was 25. Absolutely not.

9. What is your favorite way to travel?
By train. I like the light rail in San Diego a lot as well.

10. What spiritual concept, from any religion, is the hardest for you to understand? Is it something you have studied, or something you have only observed from the ‘outside’?
I think Christianity has a lot of difficult concepts: the virgin birth, the resurrection of the dead. But nothing seems to mystify as much as the notion of the Trinity, God in three persons. I’ve studied it a lot, but couldn’t explain it adequately if I tried. St. Patrick used to say it’s like the three-leaf clover, three flowers in one, but that falls short for me.

11. What is your earliest memory? Why do you think you have remembered that particular event or thing?
Trip to the now-closed Catskill Game Farm when I was three, which I remember because there were pictures. So it may be the pictures I recall, not the trip.

12. What position in any team sport is the hardest to play? Why? Have you played that position?
Catcher in baseball, and yes, I played it in a pickup league.

13. Imagine you could redesign your hands. Whose hands would you remodel yours to resemble?
Or would you keep the hands you’ve got?
I like my hands. I like the length of my fingers, the shape of my fingernails. I do which they didn’t have the vitiligo on the back.

14. What bothers you most in other people, generally?
Impatience. People four cars back beeping because the line isn’t moving, and it isn’t moving because some considerate driver’s actually letting an older pedestrian cross. Or the surge of shoppers at the front door on Black Friday openings, which is why I avoid that day like the Plague.

15. What one thing have you done that pleased your parents the most?
Graduating from college. Took five years. My one sister and I actually graduated on successive weekends, she from SUNY Binghamton and me from SUNY New Paltz, and my parents, who were by then living in Charlotte, NC, came up to both.

16. You have to choose one rich person to be forced to give all their money away to a cause or charity. Whom would you choose, and to which cause or charity will the money go?
Donald Trump, because he’s a twit. Planned Parenthood, because it’s constantly under attack.

17. Is there an emotion that you think has gotten stronger as you’ve aged? If so, why do you think that has happened?
I’m more of a sentimental sap, where songs or TV movies might make me a bit misty-eyed. I think it’s a function of the experiences, and the fragility, of life.

18. What kind of cowardice do you most despise?
Lack of conviction. I may hate Rick Santorum’s politics, but I believe he believes what he says (and that’s scary.) Whereas I think Mitt Romney will say just about anything to appeal to whomever he is speaking at the moment.

19. If the U.S. had to give up one state, which one would you pick? Why?
Texas. It was briefly its own country and still acts like it.

20. When were you most moved by a ceremony?
I’m often moved by ceremony – communion, weddings, a US naturalization. The funeral of a 20-month old, though…