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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 4, 2022 by Tony Wikrent   Professional Management Class war on workers Railroading workers [Popular Information, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 11-29-2022] “The dispute boils down to one issue: paid sick leave. … Railroad companies have adamantly refused to include any short-term paid leave. That means rail wor […]
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Louisiana vs Texas

Louisiana moves to make interfering with a fertilized egg a homocide.

Yes, that’s right, life begins at conception. Tampering with a fertilized egg will get you a homicide conviction soon in Louisiana. I guess that means Plan B is out. Wait, isn’t Plan B just a giant slug of birth control all at once? Couldn’t you achieve the same thing with taking a handful of your blister pack? There are probably directions online.

Wait. We can’t just let women read that stuff online. They might start to get ideas. Anyway, it goes without saying that BC pills will now have to be banned in Louisiana, just to be on the safe side. And it goes without saying that IUD’s will be strictly prohibited.

That ought to do it.

Or maybe not. Maybe God wants people to be blessed and any attempt to prevent the joyful uniting of egg with sperm would be like an accessory to murder or conspiracy to commit murder and blasphemy. That’s worthy of conviction.

We might even want to ban condoms!

Wait, that’s going too far. God wouldn’t be fooled by such a cheap trick:

Monty Python was ahead of its time.

Supreme Skullduggery

Here’s an interesting tweet from Pam Keith. It’s just speculation but I think she might be on to something and it might hint at why the leak happened:

By the way, someone in the comments called this tweet mean-spirited but it looks like musings to me.

There are other comments that make you go “Oh, I didn’t get that the first time around,” like the clip of that legal eagle, Sidney Powell saying that the plan on January 6 was to delay the electoral college count long enough that Sam Alito could rule on a 12th amendment motion. But as we all know by now, Mike Pence wouldn’t get in the car that was supposed to carry him away from the capital and Nancy Pelosi, with nerves of steel, got the band back together in record time. (I can’t wait to hear her testimony. You know she’s got a backstory we haven’t heard yet).

Now, what does this have to do with the leak of Alito’s Roe decision to ax Roe? Welp, timing is everything. The decision wasn’t scheduled to come out before the end of May, more likely June.

What else was supposed to happen in that time frame? The January 6 committee hearings. Raskin is promising that they will be “must see TV”. I don’t know what they’ve got planned. My curiosity is piqued. I have a feeling that there will be a way to get Fox News viewers attention. There must be something big…

But if there’s something big that could change the course of history, you don’t want something else historic drowning that out. You’d want both of them to get the attention they deserve.

What if there was someone in the Supreme Court who was just as furious about the participation of some of the justices in January 6 activities? What if that person heard Raskin explicitly say when the hearings were going to start and decided for leak the memo so the full attention of the country was focussed with laser intensity on the bombshell Raskin is about to drop?

There may be people at the Supreme Court who aren’t afraid of an investigation. In fact, Roberts might not want to press the leak investigation too hard.

Thoughts? Idle speculation? Wild rumors?

The Forces at Combat

Ronald Brownstein was the chief political writer for the Los Angeles Times for many years, and he was a rare political analyst of intelligence and perspective. He now writes for The Atlantic and other publications.

He has just written a piece for The Atlantic which attempts an historical overview of what is happening with the Supreme Court and the people who put them there. Brownstein writes that this is comparable to two other periods in American judicial history: the 1850’s, and the 1930’s, where a reactionary Supreme Court was in place to try to stop the changes in cultural demographics and ideas of a new generation. In the 1850’s, it was about the Court trying to block a liberal movement to restrict slavery. In the 1930’s, the Court kept overturning all of the New Deal legislation, based on the laissez-faire, social darwinist principles of the Republicans who had put what became known as “The Nine Old Men” on the Court.

That latter period ultimately let to the liberals’ attempt at what the reactionaries called “Court packing,” and ultimately to the resignation of most of those judges. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen here. They were carefully selected by virtue of age, obedience or sale to Religious Right dogma, and apparent utter disinterest in what the majority of Americans think about anything.

A series of recent polls by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found opposition to overturning Roe at 61-31%. Other polls have it up to 70% or so. Very interestingly, the PRRI poll in 2018 showed that a majority of people in only ten states wanted to ban abortion in most or all cases. In no state did even a quarter of the population say that abortion should be illegal in all cases. Even recent polls in Texas and Florida show majority opposition to the laws that Texas has passed, and Florida will pass.

So we have vast majority opposition to Roe being overturned, and yet it is going to be. And the beliefs of a decided majority of America’s population are being thwarted by the decisions of a Supreme Court which obviously does not represent them in terms of keeping rights previously guaranteed to people by Court decisions.

This Court specifically represents a minority, White Radical Christians, mostly male. That minority managed to get itself overwhelmingly represented on the Court. The main reason for this is the terrible electoral system which we have, where small, rural states have vastly disproportionate power. Five of the members of the Court were appointed by Republican presidents who did not win the popular vote.

The Radical Far Right controlled the Senate in recent years, only because a state like Wyoming, with about 581,000 in population, has as many senators as California, with 38.9 million people. California just lost one Congressional seat due to a population decline, so now has 52 electoral votes. Wyoming cannot lose a seat, because it only has one. So it has three electoral votes, which is one-seventeenth the amount of California’s, which has about 70 times the population. This horrendous misalignment of political power was the greatest flaw in the Constitution, and may be the doom of America.

Actually, I have mused that if only people from California would move in some relatively small amounts to those red Western states, the Democrats would never lose a national election. But those states would pass laws saying that you could not vote unless you had lived there for forty years, and of course the Supreme Court which is installed to advance the power of that Religious Right minority, would uphold them.

So without going through all the depressing details, that is how the Far Right controls the Court. That, and some very foolish and arrogant voters who would not listen to Hillary Clinton and her supporters, and so refused to vote, or voted for a ridiculous or evil third party candidate, out of spite and stupidity. That is how Trump, who lost the popular vote by three million, got to appoint three Radical Religious Right Justices to the Court, fully a third of it. And that is how the Senate had a Republican majority which was able to block Obama’s nominee from even getting a hearing, and promised to block any nominee of Hillary, if she won. First it was, “let the people decide,” then quickly modified to “let them decide only if they elect a Republican.”

The media keeps focusing on the “political horse race,”which is not only drearily tedious, but utterly inapposite. Not everything, certainly not something this momentous and undemocratic and evil, is reducible to “how will it affect the elections?” In an immediate sense, who cares? The goal of the religious zealots is to make elections irrelevant. They almost are, if the Democrats keep winning the national popular vote, and the zealots are in still in control of the Supreme Court.

What Brownstein poses, and of course cannot answer, is a version of, “What happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object?” The demographic trends on opinions about the right to abortion are far in favor of that right; but the minority which has gamed the electoral system, has essentially put up a wall and said, “We’re going to take away that right, and throw you into jail or execute you, if you try to exert whatever popular power you think you have.”

Their goal is to take away all options but marching in the streets, and they will do their best to eliminate that as well. They have no intention of ceding one inch to their mortal enemies. So we need to quickly figure out our best and most concretely effective approaches. Of course winning elections is a major part of that. But pushing to expand the Supreme Court members, and massive boycotts of red states, should be part of that, too.

What I will have very little interest in, is the parsing of the language of the Court decision. It will mean virtually nothing. These Court members are very well able to write language which means nothing as to the effect of their decisions, but is used to cover or mislead, and make some credulous people think that it offers some opening for future decisions, which is does not.

Nor am I very interested in the dissents, though they will be powerful. They do not do much good, particularly during times when the Far Right, which never was as Far Right as this, controls the majority. Maybe some language there can be used as an effective rallying cry; if so, I am all for it. Carefully dissecting the illogic of the decision, and the misstating of history, is pretty thin gruel to sustain one. The Court does not care. They just want the result; and if they could get to a point where they did not even have to write one word past their first sentence, they would love it, although I suppose that there is some need to flaunt themselves verbally.

That leads to the question of, “Did Alito and the others perjure themselves in their testimony during nomination hearings?” They surely lied, and the media surely let them do it without caring. But they could never be convicted of perjury, because the defense would be that they never said that Roe was a good decision, they just said it was precedent, but precedent can of course be overruled; and they never promised not to overrule it It takes a clear misstatement of a fact known to the witness to find it perjurious, and that is very rare. So their judges and Cabinet nominees and candidates lie freely, and they almost always get away with it, particularly since once on the Court, they are immune from everything. That is immensely frustrating, but “perjury!” is a dead-end road in these situations. However, the lying could be used in an effort to gain popular support for an expanded Court.

The Far Right has its fortifications in place, against the popular will. The Red states. and there are many of them, in terms of state legislatures, will pass the anti-abortion laws. The Red governors will sign them. The Supreme Court will let all of them stand. If Congress tries to pass a bill codifying Roe, the filibuster will block it. Now, if the Democrats somehow hold the House, and gain two Senate seats, they could pass another bill, and override the filibuster. The Supreme Court will likely overturn the bill, but then the sentiment would be there to add seat to the Court, but the filibuster would have to be overridden again . Courage and determination are the key.

Can a fervent, warped, theocratic minority game the system so much that they can control the majority which hates what they are doing? It has happened in history, actually throughout most of it. Military power has been used for thousands of years to block the popular will. Will it come to a civil war, or a violent revolution? I don’t like our chances in those. We do have economic power which we do not organize enough to use. Our leaders are for the most part nice people who try to work within the margins, but the margins are now being greatly narrowed, and written in indelible ink.

The upcoming elections will be crucial, but there will be mixed results, and some of them will be disheartening. Control of Congress is so important, and we have such very small margins that it will be a gargantuan task to keep both of them. But we can certainly try. Donations have grown. Anger and determination have increased. They must not be allowed to diminish, no matter what the immediate results might be.

Take our cues from Schiff and Whitmer and Pelosi and Newsom and Warren and Beto, and fight. And if we are indeed a popular majority, we must have effective strategists in place, constantly looking for ways to manifest that electorally. It should never have gotten to this point, but it has. We have to marshal the power that we do have, on an issue where we are absolutely the majority, and unquestionably hold the high moral ground, as hundreds of millions of women are depending on us.

Joyce White Vance, the very intelligent and caring law professor and former Justice Department Attorney, said yesterday that she wished she had not seen the draft decision written by Alito, because it was so ugly, mocking Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, and the rest of the Court majority then. She has read many opinions, and I would bet that she has never said anything like that. That is what we have with a Supreme Court now ruled by the religious zealots who put those proxy Justices in there.