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More Post Roe Fallout

The accounts from doctors from around the country are starting to pop up. They mostly focus on rape, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. As long as it has cardiac cells that beat (not yet a heart), it can’t be aborted. And yes, any intentional termination of fetal life is an abortion. You don’t get a “get out of jail free card” just because you’re dying or too young to have children. It’s an abortion. THAT’S what anti-abortion activists were calling it a couple of months ago. Now that people are getting substandard healthcare, they want to call it…

… wait for it…

… healthcare.

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.

We don’t have to make up what’s really happening. We can read about it daily in national papers. Like this article from The Boston Globe:

It was predictable. Doctors warned months ago that ending Roe was going to put them in very precarious situations where they might lose their medical licenses for providing the kind of healthcare their patients needed.

Here is Texas ob/gyn Mama Doctor Jones explaining the Texas Heartbeat Law that went into effect last September:

And here’s her video from 2 months ago after the draft opinion ending Roe was leaked:

By then, Doctor Jones had already accepted a temporary position as an ob/gyn in New Zealand. But this is the reality she will be coming back to if she goes home to Texas.

I’d stay in New Zealand.


It just occurred to me that these laws are specifically written to take control out of the physician’s hands, causing an untold number of human sacrifices, because a compassionate doctor might be able to circumvent the restrictions to help a desperate woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant for a myriad of reasons and may not have any other legal or safe alternatives.

Keep it vague. Allow a certain number of preventable deaths from inadequate healthcare. That will help make abortions scarier for everyone.

It’s diabolical.

They Didn’t Even Give Biden Two Years

Not even a year and a half. What an appalling testament to foolishness, stupidity, dogmatism, grandstanding, on the part of the…so-called Democratic Left.

Oh, I am not ignoring the Far Right, which is the entire of the Republican Party, except for the people who are even further Right than that, if possible. Or the media, which has this unerring propensity to focus on the worst polls for Biden, the state with the highest gas prices, etc. Or the mainstream Democrats in states who insist on “fair districting,” and give it all to bipartisan commissions, while the Republicans keep it to their Far Right legislatures to draw up the most gerrymandered districts possible, thus inevitably costing Democrats 10-30 House seats which they would have if both sides did things the same way.

But it is the Left, which thinks that they were so generous to give Biden a few months before spending every day complaining about him, who are doing inestimable damage which the party and the country cannot afford in the desperate fight to keep from becoming a permanent fascist state.

At least some of us are fighting against that. The Republicans want the fascist state, while the Left thinks that any President other than Bernie Sanders is the same as a fascist–well, except for Obama, whom they put up with because of his race, and because he was not Hillary Clinton, who is a liberal who voted with Sanders 96% of the time in the Senate (most of the 4% were the gun control bills which she supported and he opposed).

Am I being unfair? I do not think so. Am I painting with too broad a brush? Yes, perhaps, but the general themes should not be obscured by looking at an exception here or there. We’ve got polls which are reported on by the media every day, which now have Biden at as low as 33% Favorables. Of course the media focuses on the worst polls, but there are others in the 30’s. And the only possible way that he could have a number that low, is that there are many Democrats who happily vote “Unfavorable!” when asked.

Now of course the Republicans unanimously disfavor Biden on everything. But that would not account for 65% Unfavorables. That is being padded by the Left. If you doubt that, all you have to do is to read each day about complaints from legislators like Cori Bush, or turn on a news channel, and see various “Democratic strategists,” usually minority, who go on television to ‘counter” the obligatory Republican strategist, by loudly complaining about Biden doing things wrong.

He doesn’t make strong enough statements. He is not supportive enough of abortion. He is not strong enough on gun control. He hasn’t done enough on the environment. He is traveling to Saudi Arabia. He is not expanding the Supreme Court. He is not impeaching The Right Wing Justices.

This never stops. It mostly comes from people who have no idea how the government works. That the nature of the Senate is such that they can block almost all bills from the House, as they did under Obama. Unless the Democrats could get rid of the filibuster, for one or more specific votes, which they would need 50 votes to do. But they only have 48, Manchin and Sinema will not budge. Whether they were bought off, or protecting their later careers in corporate lobbying, or what, we’ve seen categorical evidence that they will never vote to stop the filibuster or change the rules.

So none of the fine bills which regularly pass the House, including those to curb corporate price-gouging by the oil companies, are passed by the Senate. And then people get mad. We all are angry, but it would be very useful if more people understood the mechanisms, so that they would blame the right people.

But hammering away at Biden, telling everyone that you are disappointed in him, he is not doing a good enough job, does no good at all for the Democratic Party as a whole, or the country that you say you care about–unless your goal is to elevate yourself, raise money, be another in the parade of “working class heroes” who seem to get more publicity when the Democrats are out of office. Or maybe they would just as soon have Biden gone, some Republican win, and then they can “highlight the differences,” in the infamous words of Susan Sarandon. And maybe Nina Turner can run again.

Here is what loyal Democratic strategist Paul Begala just wrote: ” I have a radical proposal for progressive friends. Stop attacking Biden, and start attacking Republicans. If you think he is too weak, don’t weaken him further, for goodness sake. Strengthen him, so he can lead the way forward.” This sentiment was echoed by Adrienne Elrod, who has loyally supported the Clintons, as Begala has.

Now, I am not a great fan of Biden, never was, but I think he is a decent person who is on the right side of most important issues. I don’t want to now debate this or that thing that Biden has done as President, though I support most of them. I think he is perhaps too mild, too gentlemanly. And I think that the response on the overturning of Roe probably could have been better–except that the decision, made by a Far Right-stacked Supreme Court, cannot be undone at this point, no matter what he says. So yelling about it because they are angry and frustrated, does not do anything good.

And I could go on about some of the Left refusing to support Hillary in 2016, because they preferred to see her or paint her as a “neoliberal,” “a warmonger,” “a corporate handmaiden.” She voted with Sanders in the Senate 96% of the time, most of the 4% being gun control bills which he kept voting against. I repeat what I just said above, for emphasis. Any person who wants to call himself or herself a “progressive,” or a Democrat, could not possibly be so obtuse or spiteful not to support her, but they were, and many are still proud of it.

Now they hate Biden, or in their words, they are “deeply disappointed in him.” They voted for him, that should be enough! Now he should do what they want! Or they will sit out another election! They will only support people they really like!

I think that many of us who have grown up following or working in politics, learn that one has to compromise sometimes, and try to focus on the long-range good. I couldn’t vote in 1968, but I thought that I would not vote for Humphrey if I could, because I was so upset that he vociferously applauded Mayor Daley’s dreadful work at the Chicago Convention.

My parents, who were supporters of Eugene McCarthy, as I was, and who did like Humphrey back in his earlier days, ended up voting for him, saying that they knew how awful Nixon was, and just could not fail to vote against him. Looking back, they were probably right, but I still might not have done it. I thought that one lost election would probably not be that devastating, maybe McCarthy could run again when the liberal forces had taken over some of the state parties, as they had.

My mother told me that in her first vote in a presidential election, in 1948, she voted for Henry Wallace, not realizing, as many liberals did not, that there was some connection to Communist elements. I read a fine novel by Benjamin Appel which illustrated how angry many Roosevelt Democrats were at some of Truman’s moving away from New Deal policies. One often votes out of a more purist position when a young adult. but then one usually learns that the greater good must be kept in mind.

It seems to me that the Left of the last thirty years has rigidified, has viewed intransigence and purity as a badge of pride. And I could write about how this got Nader enough votes to cost Gore the election, and it almost certainly cost Hillary the three key states in 2016. I already have, it should never be forgotten. But what we are focusing on here, is what some of them are doing now.

I didn’t support Biden in his past Democratic runs. I was not a fan of the Obama presidency. I did not support Biden in the early primaries in 2020, though I could not find a candidate who I thought both could be an effective President, and actually win. I started supporting Biden when it was clear that only he or Sanders could win the nomination. And I certainly strongly supported him against Trump.

And as President, I think that Biden has done pretty well, particularly given all the difficulties the country has faced. Could someone else out there have done better? Perhaps, but they weren’t going to win, or in some cases even run. Would someone out there do better in 2025? Maybe; who knows,; we should not be thinking much about that now, not with the fate of the country in the balance.

If I thought that Biden’s policies and efforts veered far from classic Democratic principles, I would say that, but they don’t. I do wish he were a more dynamic presence at the microphone, but some who are, are more mercurial and even erratic, or they can’t get elected, in my view. And most importantly, they are not in the presidency, and thus it is academic ego-massaging, to put it delicately.

I do know that Democrats attacking Biden, hurts us. The poll numbers are in some sense self-perpetuating. People hear that most disfavor Biden, so it is easier for them to want to be one of the majority on that. I will say that the number of 30% approving of his handling of the economy, is ludicrous. I think he has basically done a good job on the economy. Never perfect, what president is that?

We do know that the Left hated Clinton’s deficit reduction focus (I didn’t like it, either, but it worked). They blame him for the Crime Bill, and gave him no credit for the assault weapons ban. They were angry at him for cutting welfare. They didn’t like that he was not strong enough on gay rights. They really don’t like any Democrat who gets elected to a high position, and Biden is another one.

I wish I didn’t care what they thought, but in another comment of Begala, he likened it to a lifeboat where all the passengers had to learn to work together for survival. We need the Left, or at least some of it, to work with the moderates, and to at least stop scorning them, and disparaging every one of them who will not eliminate all student debt, and legalize marijuana, which “Gen Z pollsters” tell us are two of their biggest demands.

We have midterms coming up whose importance can not possibly be overestimated. Can people focus on those, and on what will happen if we do not win? Do some people think that daily attacks on Biden, and voting “unfavorable”in the polls, is actually going to advance their policy goals, as they purport to have them?

Can the Left ever “grow up,” and act like responsible adults;, and can they actually try to learn about how government and lawmaking works? Perhaps they never will. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” some like to moralize. It is also filled with markers of those who simply would not give up one iota of their political purity, and seemed to revel in their ability to scorn and disparage anyone who did, as if they themselves wanted to carry the tattered flag of defeat like a trophy, while blaming everyone whom they would not join when there still was a chance to win a desperately needed victory.

The January 6 Hearing That Hasn’t Been Scheduled – Yet

One thing stood out to me during yesterday’s hearing. Over and over again, Trump and the Crazies talked about the crowd that was angry that the election had been *stolen*, they were filled with righteous indignation and that’s why they violently attacked the Capitol.

Here’s my question. There had to be a plan in place to deal with what would happen if the insurrection was successful, Mike Pence had been spirited off to Alaska, and Trump finished things off by showing up in the House chamber taking Congress leadership hostage. Or whatever. I don’t think Trump was going to wait for the election to be thrown back to the House. He wouldn’t have had to show up for that in person.

What was supposed to happen next?

Here’s why I ask. I think California and New York and other big blue states would have been stunned but their votes were not the ones that Trump was trying to disenfranchise. It was Pennsylvania’s and Arizona’s electoral college votes that were contested and set the whole chain of events in motion. There were other states that sent real EC slates of electors based on the popular vote and a fake set of electors picked by the Republican legislatures of their states. Those fake slates were sent to the national archives, all ready and teed up for the moment they would be needed.

The thing is, if Trump and the Crazies thought the irrationally outraged and deluded MAGA people would have been angry enough to storm the Capitol, they had to have known that their coup would infuriate those of us whose votes were just dragged to the trash as if they were artifacts of meaningless wastes of our precious time. That former Oath Keeper yesterday hinted at what they were thinking. They were preparing for a bloodbath. They would have expected trouble and they would be right.

I would have been on the road to Washington with my own sharpened flag pole to ram up the ass of the first guy I saw wearing a red baseball cap. Oh yes I would. You wouldn’t like it if I got angry.

Did they think that the illegally disenfranchised would just sit in a corner, shaking with fear and completely submissive just because a bunch of reactionary chauvinistic nut jobs didn’t like that their guy lost an election?? That we wouldn’t fight back?

I don’t think they believed that for a minute.

So what was the plan? I’m sure it was more than just mere words flung around for emphasis during the Red Wedding meeting in the yellow oval room. Someone must know that there had to be real plans for martial law or insurrection act invocation. What were the specific plans? Was that what Mike Flynn was for. How many MAGA sympathizers and white nationalists were in the military at the time? Why did Defense Secretary Miller feel that it was necessary to issue a memo saying that the military would be staying out of any actions on January 6 and could be actually keep that commitment if Trump had been successful or any of the Congress had been killed?

And note that the insurrection act wouldn’t apply to the MAGA mob. No, it would apply to the voters in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada. THOSE voters, who had a real reason to get angry, they would be the ones accused of insurrection even if they were the true Americans defending democracy.

So, is there going to be another hearing planned after the next one to tell us what their plan was for us? I think that’s the one that we all need to hear.

What were the next steps if they had succeeded?

What We Are Learning, and What We Already Knew

As we watch the January 6 Committee hearings, we learn all sort of specific things about what happened on or before January 6. But in some important sense, we really don’t learn anything that we did not know or sense before, and maybe have for years.

For me, this is a fascinating, and well presented, and ultimately depressing delineation of the facts that Trump is pure evil, and that he had many people who were happy to join him in the evil; and that he had others who were willing to let him get away with it if he could; and that the Republican Party is a dreadful cohort of individuals who will do anything to win and hold power. Anything.

This current story, while it is more sordid than any of the earlier ones, is really just a further chapter in how the Republican Party has no moral moorings whatsoever. Oh, there might be a few of them who do, though most of them pop up after the fact; they write anonymous articles, or mutter to each other, and then write books about it. Actually doing something to save the country, and to insure fairness in our electoral processes, is very rare from them, though we do commend it when it happens.

What happened in 2020 and 2021, is that Donald Trump wanted to keep power, and the sense of omnipotence, and the billions of dollars, and the perpetual grift, and the ability to consort with tyrants, that came with it. So he used every tool at his disposal to stay in the White House.

He tried to win the election. Everything he did in office was either to personally benefit himself, or to benefit his campaign. Nothing he did had an iota of motivation about helping the country, benefiting the citizens, keeping peace. Nothing. It was all about him. We knew that before he even got elected, if he indeed did without Russia cheating.

He tried to use the same tactic he had used in 2016, get a foreign country to help,, and create a supposed scandal to greatly damage his opponent. He knew that his Far Right and very wealthy benefactors would push the story, and that his friends in mainstream media would keep it in the headlines. This time it was “Hunter Biden and his laptop.”

He tried to get President Zelensky of Ukraine to help him; and then he just resorted to extorting him, essentially saying that unless Zelensky would investigate Hunter Biden, or at least say he was investigating him, he would not supply the weapons which Ukraine had already paid for. He got impeached for that, but the Republicans protected him, called it “a witch hunt,” and would not vote to convict him. Because he was always protected by certain benefactors who had a price, and by the mob, and by Republicans who want to always hold political power, no matter what they have to do or put up with to keep it.

So his ploy with Zelensky did not work, and the media didn’t help him as much in 2020, because they liked Biden better than Hillary, for various reasons, nothing having to do with the relative abilities of the two. And of course he was no longer the “fun gamble” that the media and certain people on the Left tried to portray him as in 2016. So he lost by seven million votes.

But Trump wasn’t going to let something like that get him out of office. His niece, Mary Trump, had said before the election, that if he lost, he would do everything he could to stay in office. His major effort revolved around a completely fabricated claim of voting fraud. In 2016, Trump had said before the election, that the only way he could lose, is if the Democrats rigged the election. He set this up long before, as a fallback, and also to follow Goebbels’ dictum to always accuse your enemies of what you are doing.

So rather than just dismiss this out of hand, some media said, “well, let’s see, he has the right to contest the election.” More than that, many Republicans in power supported his claims of fraud. I will not list them all. None of them had a scintilla of actual evidence, but that didn’t stop them. They convinced tens of millions of people who wanted to believe, that he was cheated, that the election had been stolen.

A political party with a shred of honor and regard for the truth, would have immediately dismissed these dangerous and lying charges. But the Republicans mostly did not. They either said nothing, or like the insidious McConnell, said that Trump had the right to contest the results. Or they actively supported him in what is known as “The Big Lie,” but really was just another in a series of lies coming from the Republican Party over the decades.

So then Trump and his allies like Giuliani and Meadows, called various state officials, trying to get them to “find” votes, or say that there was fraud, and so there should be a new election in their state. Trump told Raffensberger in Georgia that he did not have to find fraud, just say there was, and then “the Republicans would take it from there.”

He had lawsuits filed in virtually every battleground state, trying to draw it out, get a favorable ruling, keep himself in office. He might have, actually. There were a few people who would not go along, and very fortunately, major courts tossed out his lawsuits. The lies persisted, and even became more outrageous, with him saying that he had won in a landslide, and that the corrupt Democrats had cheated, brought in votes from Venezuela, or China, or Mexico or Canada, or just wrote them up here.

Any deranged or malicious person who would support him in this, got to be part of his inner circle, and make money off it. He tried to let the insane Sidney Powell be the head of a commission to investigate voter fraud. He and his cabal wanted to get some kind of Independent Counsel hired to study all of this. The goal was of course to delay and delay, while desperately searching for a weak link, a hole through which he could climb to shut down the electoral process.

And the Republicans, a majority of them, were right with him. 147 of them in Congress voted not to certify the election. How could they possibly be this stupid and corrupt? They were, and many still are. For them, everything reduces to a battle between them and the Democrats; and morality, fairness, facts don’t even count. What a dreadful place for this country to have descended to, but it was visible by degrees over the decades, for anyone who cared to look.

The cabal knew that if they could somehow get the electoral certification stopped, and the matter sent to the Congressional delegations, as the Constitution provides for if there is an insoluble election dispute, they would win. This is because the Republicans control a majority of state delegations, and as is tragically true, they would vote for Trump to be declared President, no matter what the votes or the facts were. Just like that.

So the next plan was to stop the certification. Convince Pence not to certify. Or take him out of the picture and get Grassley not to certify, as I think he would have done, saying that there were irregularities, so that more time must be taken, then ultimately handing it to the Congress to declare the winner.

Another possibility was to create so much violence at the Capitol, that the electoral vote could not be certified. Or Trump could declare martial law, invoke the Insurrection Act, blame “Antifa,” and keep power. And who was going to take it from him? Not the spineless Republicans.

How this did not happen, at least enough of it to get Trump what he wanted, is due to the courage of a few people, notably the officer who led the mob in the wrong direction, so that they could not start killing members of Congress. Pelosi, who got them reconvened and the election certified. Pence? We’ll leave that open, but at least he did not wholly capitulate.

So somehow Biden was certified as President-Elect, though of course Trump did not attend the Inauguration, has never said that Biden was elected; and many Republicans in office will not say that; and tens of millions of his followers still believe that Trump was cheated, and want this revenged.

Can anyone possibly conceive of a Democratic candidate or his party ever doing anything like that? Of course not. Therein lies the awful situation which this country is in. One party cheats and lies, the other does not. One party is quick to concede, one never concedes. One party will try every device, lie, false accusation, incitement to violence, to hold power. The other absolutely does not. This may come as a shock to those who hold on to a “both sides” amoralism, but it is the fact.

Going back in history to when the current iterations of the parties began around 1880, when did the Democrats ever cheat to gain or hold political power? Oh there have been a few scandals, but either personal ones, or maybe someone in the Cabinet or advisor group, doing something questionable or illegal in a financial sense. Bobby Baker under JFK. Billy Sol Estes under LBJ. Bert Lance under Carter. All individual and financial.

Clinton’s one scandal was a private consensual, albeit tawdry, relationship. Obama had no scandals. Biden has none. Now, looking at Republicans, we had Teapot Dome in the 1920’s, which was mostly financial, but did give away public land to Harding’s friends and donors. Then in recent times, we had Watergate, which was one in a series of illegal acts conducted with the knowledge and approval of Nixon and his inner circle, to enhance his election chances. He also used the FBI and IRS to go after his enemies.

Under Reagan, there was Iran-Contra, where Republicans deliberately violated an Act of Congress which stated that no money could be allocated to the Contras in Nicaragua. Then they all lied about it, or didn’t remember. Under GW Bush, they made up false Intelligence, to cause the country to go to war, with many killed. And Trump is his own genre, lying about everything, hiding the pandemic danger, stealing inaugural funds, selling out citizens to be murdered, for money.

And of course collaborating with Russia in the 2016 election, and trying to conceal it by firing people, hiding interpreter’s notes; stealing boxes of Top Security documents and destroying them. And then trying to steal the election by getting state officials to lie about the results, trying to seize voting machines to shut down the count; and finally creating carnage at the Capitol Building, leading to death and destruction which would only be to the end of keeping Trump in power.

And so many people went right along with Trump in all of this, either looking away, or actively supporting it, and reveling in the excitement of the plotting, and the rewards they expected to gain from it. And they would not cooperate with the 1/6 Committee, or with DOJ, until a few did after delaying things as long as they could.

And the vast majority of the Republicans did not want there to be a 1/6 Committee, and would disband it immediately if they won the House; and impeach Biden, and drag Hillary back in, and try to throw Schiff out of the House. Does one doubt that? If not, what have Republicans learned from all of this? To cheat better next time? To make so sure that they win the next elections that they never have to worry about this kind of thing again?

Whatever has been learned from these hearings, or what will be learned from the remaining one or few, will not change this frightening imbalance, as if the whole country were at the edge of a precipice, at the bottom of which would be fascism in government, and theocracy in daily life That position has not changed since several months ago, nor would it likely be changed by anything DOJ does, though I wish they would do something, and fast.

The Republican Party is probably unsalvageable, which is a terrifying thought, because there are two parties, and this is one of them. Letting them have any power, anywhere, is like letting the zombies inside one area of the house. They are irredeemable, will not “get better,” or “learn.” They want blood. they want power, forever

That may sound melodramatic, but I don’t think it is. The only thing that will assuage Republicans is to hold all the power, forever. They are in an ongoing effort to suppress the vote in so many states, to give the Republican state legislatures the power to hand every election to the Republicans. Nothing said in this admirable House Committee is going to stop that.

There is not going to be this large exodus of Republicans who see the error and folly of their ways, as the few members of militia groups who testified Tuesday might have, though perhaps not. The Republicans will keep on doing what they do, what is in their genetic makeup. They will suppress votes, try to throw them out, threaten violence at the polls, try to overturn the results of every election that they lose. If they win enough, they will not need to carry out the violence part, but if they do not, they will.

I didn’t mean for this to sound so negative as I wrote it. And I am glad of the January 6 Committee. My girlfriend said that watching it yesterday restored some of her faith in things. And we still have a chance to do pretty well in the elections, though it will take a lot of work and voting. And we have at least one more hearing, which should be very good.

But will this actually change minds, not just about Trump, but the subtext: the deceitfulness, cravenness and rigid authoritarianism of the entire Republican Party? I don’t think that Trump will ever be elected again, but there are a whole bunch of other Republicans who are probably just as bad, in their own way. Or what if there are some Republicans who are terrible on the issues, but not completely amoral; but the voting has been so fixed in their favor, that they just keep winning, putting us in a place which is scarcely better? For another day, at least, the House January 6th Committee gave us a version of a better America, and some very bright and caring and humane people to root for.

Wishful thinking is not the same thing as morality.

Check out this conversation that Jordan Klepper had with John Kasich. Join me on the other side:

Kasich is one of the un-crazy Republicans, if we’re going to use January 6 terminology. Nevertheless, he still doesn’t get it and his reasoning is going to be the reason why we are going to make millions of women into human sacrifices. Here’s what I heard:

1.) Abortion is a divisive issue. Now it’s up to the states. This is the “Standard issue Republican talking point of 2022”. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s one of those Frank Luntz focus group talking points that’s infuriatingly difficult to move past as Klepper finds. It stops any further argument. Klepper could have asked him about gerrymandered states where voting on state legislative seats is a pointless exercise. Would Kasich approve of referendums on the ballot so that everyone gets a crack at making the law in the state? What do you say, John Kasich? Can Ohio have a referendum on abortion rights? We’re all waiting for an answer. If it’s left up to the states, shouldn’t ALL the citizens of a state have a vote?

2.) Kasich is of the same mind as many other anti-choice people. There is only one choice. Motherhood. That’s it. He’s concerned that there are no exceptions for rape and incest, true, but his greater concern is that there was nothing in place for mothers. No crisis centers, no extra support, etc. I’m not disagreeing that economics have something to do with *some* abortions. But for the majority of women I have known who had abortions, and there were many, it was simply a matter of not wanting to be mothers and there’s just no way to get around that. Some women will kill themselves to not become mothers. Wishful thinking will not change this.

3.) Kasich just comes right out and says that now, other people’s opinions on this will be respected. I have heard this my entire life. You are never old enough or independent enough or mature enough to disagree with the opinions of a person with deeply held religiously derived moral beliefs. You may also hold moral beliefs as well. But to a religious person, they can be dismissed without consideration because theirs’ come from a more authoritative source and they’re saved and you’re not and you are not allowed (in their minds) to challenge them. No. Not on abortion or gay sex or evolution or any other thing they think is based on the Bible.

It’s astonishing to me how many Twitter commenters resort to saying the no abortions idea is based on biblical morality and the only way to not risk needing one is to not have sex. When it gets right down to it, the Bible has a lot more to say about FORNICATION than abortion. You can get stoned for fornicating but not for self-managing a medication abortion. The Bible is quite clear on sex and has plenty of examples of men sleeping with other men’s wives and seducing sisters and throwing daughters out to the town to rape and do with them what they will and incest of daughters with their fathers and concubines being chopped up by their husbands after they were thrown out to the town to be raped and nothing ever happens to those men in the Bible. These are transgressions that no ethical person in the 21st century would condone but in this Bronze Age text, it’s perfectly normal. It’s also perfectly normal to condemn women to death for illicit sex by throwing her to the dogs or stoning her. There are some passages about punishments for causing a pregnant woman to miscarry but those were the days when women and their offspring were considered valuable property of the owners m, potential workers, legal heirs and barter for transactions later.

That’s respectable. 🙄

In all the comments about abortion I see from the other side, the intensity of focus is on the fetus. There is almost never any mention of the human sacrifices that must be made in the service of the fetus.

Conclusion: We’ve been gathering data and observations on the anti-choice movement for 48 years now. We know definitively that the ability to get a safe abortion saved many human lives. But those who rely on religion for morality will not be satisfied until there are no abortions in the United States. They are also fanatically fixated on motherhood and what they perceive to be promiscuity. They are also either intolerant or unaware of the morality of abortion of other religious faiths other than fundamentalist Christianity or Catholicism. Muslim and Jewish morality on abortion is not considered nor are other faiths or no faiths.

The Dobbs decision cites morality as the reason why abortion is different from gay marriage or interracial marriage. But the morality applied has the strictest criteria and the proponents of that strict morality are the only authorities that are recognized and respected.

Excuse me for saying this but it looks like the justices have set up a state religion. The morality they are relying on can be traced back to the Old Testament proscriptions on extramarital sex and a handful of writings by medieval scholars.

The problem is the disrespect these moralists have for any other opinion.

I will offer mine anyway.

Nature already gave us the right to abortion. Animals, such as bears and mongooses, are capable of abortion under certain circumstances. Environmental pressures make it difficult to obtain resources for themselves and their offspring. Natural selection Favors organisms that are capable of passing their genetic material to the next generation. But you can’t get your offspring to the next generation if there are insufficient resources to sustain life. Better to conserve the energy of the adult and abort any fetuses that are unlikely to survive. Wait until next year. Seems sensible. As far as I know, animals don’t freak out about premarital sex.

Humans are also animals and face environmental stresses. Humans spontaneously abort. Maybe more of them spontaneously aborted back when our circumstances were more precarious hundreds of thousands of years ago. With better diets, vaccines, clean water, etc, spontaneous abortions are probably less likely. I’ll bet there are peer reviewed papers on this subject.

But our definition of environmental stress and resources have changed. It follows that our definition of reproductive success has also changed. Our definition of successful offspring has changed. Abortion isn’t proscribed by nature but like many things related to human gynecological medicine, human females can’t always do it for themselves. They need a little help.

Back in Roman times, women consumed herbs and plants they knew to be abortifacients. One of these was a plant called Sylphium. It was so popular it was over-farmed and is now considered extinct. There are many others still around like Queen Anne’s lace aka wild carrot. Medication abortions are our new Sylphium.

That coupled with the age of viability cutoff is my morality. Do what you need to do during the first trimester is my preference or up to viability. After that, doctors can help women facing health issues or fetal abnormalities.

My ethics and morality are based on actual evidence. Nature should override Bronze Age gods and mansplaining logic of medieval saints.

The moralists seem to think that if they force women to bear children, there will be no more promiscuity and the traditional role of motherhood will prevail. This goes against all experience. Everything we know from history proves that women will still engage in sex and they won’t necessarily want to be mothers. The ripping apart of little baby bodies that so abhors the tut-tutting moralists will now be performed by unregulated people who want to make immense profits by it. And thousands of tragedies will occur. For 49 years, we were able to stop these tragedies but now they will occur regularly and not one person who doesn’t want to be pregnant will be persuaded to not pursue an abortion by whatever means necessary.

Under Roe, no one who holds their morality above their own well being was forced to get an abortion. Now, anyone who values their own well being is required to become a human sacrifice and to reproduce when they aren’t ready or willing. But only one of these groups of people has respectable morality. The mistake we have made in the last 49 years that happier cultures have figured out is giving excessive respect and authority to the religious who rely on antiquated ideas of morality that do not value women. Not only do they rely on supernatural beings that can’t be proven to exist while ignoring nature, they also wish fervently that they get the unearned respect of people who don’t share their faith. I will refrain from commenting on what kind of personality issues those people have but their issues shouldn’t become the basis for everyone else’s major life decisions. No one should be forced into motherhood because some church lady feels oogy about premarital sex.

Wishful thinking should not be the basis of legal rulings and it is no more worthy of respect than personal ethics. I think it violates the first amendment on establishment of a state religion. That shouldn’t need to be said but, there, I’ve said it.

That Ms. Cover

I’m listening to the latest episode of The Ezra Klein Show featuring Michelle Goldberg. They’re talking about what happens to feminism in the wake of the Dobbs decision. It’s a long episode worth listening to. They make a lot of good points. But not once in 1 hour and 16 minutes did they mention the profoundly negative effect that the Obama phenomenon had on feminism and women’s equality. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard them mention Obama’s name at all during the entire episode. So even though I spent the entire Obama campaign and administration railing against the guy and am thoroughly sick of him, I’m going to do it one more time because I don’t think anyone was paying attention for the past 14 years. The rare exception who kind of gets it and is still prominent in the blogosphere is Atrios at Eschaton and he’s a bit coy with his condemnation and focussed more on the economic fallout and failures. I’m going to try to finally get ahold of what has been nagging at me relentlessly since 2008 and how it lead to the shitty feeling that many women and liberals are experiencing now that we are stuck in a very backwards country spinning our wheels.

We on the left need to come to grips with this. I see way too many commentators and opinion makers who avoid touching the Obama era because the minute you go there, it’s like proclaiming that you have some kind of regard for social issues other than race and that is definitely not allowed. It’s a huge problem on the left that more than half of the country’s population is less important than any other demographic. It’s why I say that a fully raw cannibal will become a Democratic president with the full backing of the party before any woman or futuristic liberal will. There will always be a demographic whose situation is more compelling to it.

Many people don’t know the history of how Obama won the primary in 2008. I’m not going to go over that year in this post. If you want to dive into that check out the archives of this blog for 2008. A lot of what the Democrats did to its own electorate has been copied by Republicans with great success.

What I will touch on though is the very strong feeling I got when I was still writing at DailyKos that some aggressive entity had taken over the left of center net roots, it wanted Obama, and it wasn’t above scorching the earth to get him. I called it a jihad, which lead me to leave DailyKos and land here. The weird thing is that at the time I wrote that, I didn’t have any animosity towards Obama. It was these mysterious followers on DailyKos who took over the site that concerned me. They conducted a purge. The choice was get on the Obama train or get out. They were specifically targeting Hillary Clinton supporters and it was brutal.

I don’t know who those people were but something about them reminded me of “the smartest guys in the room” from the Enron scandal and their bro culture emails about how they were going to stick it to grannies with their rolling blackouts in California. They had the whiff of men in suits in office buildings, wired on whatever all day, ruthlessly crawling over the corpses of the temporarily unlucky on the way to the bigger bonuses and corner offices. It was distinctly male and dismissive of any wimmins’ problems. Who gave a f]#% about Hillary? You must be a racist and even if you’re not, we’re going to call you one because look at how this giant online focus group reacts when we do it.

You can blame Republicans all you want for their patriarchy and stodgy traditionalism that leaves no breathing room for women’s aspirations. But if you want to see how feminism was stomped into a bloody pulp and left to die without any assistance at all, go no further than the 2008 Democratic primary and the callous, cynical, humiliating treatment of women and Hillary Clinton by the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party itself. I de-registered and became an independent specifically because of it. That didn’t make me a racist. That made me wise about my own self-preservation. I wasn’t going to participate in slitting my own throat just because there was a frenzied madness to elect a cipher who had almost no political experience but sure could razzle dazzle the donors with huge pockets.

The worst part of that year was the roll call vote at the convention in Denver when Hillary was denied her own delegates. California and Pennsylvania never got an opportunity to cast their ballots for her and my state, NJ, just handed all of its delegates to Obama even though he lost the state by 10 points. By the time New York cast all of its votes for Obama, a state Hillary had won in a landslide, it brought her on the floor to denounce herself like some kind of political prisoner and then the party metaphorically gang raped her.

That’s what it looked like to some of us. It was the exact same feeling we got the day after Trump “won” the election in 2016 and when Dobbs overturned Roe.

But it didn’t stop there. The general campaign was all about forcing women who were Clinton voters to shut up and vote for Obama because, well, where else were you going to go? All the feminist hopes and dreams were now in the hands of Obama who would take care of us. You’re welcome.

Then came the Ms. Magazine cover. It came out roughly at the same time that that cringey picture of Jon Favreau groping a cardboard cut out of Hillary’s breast while drinking a beer. In fact, that whole period of time after the election was like a big f{#^ you to women. The Ms. Magazine cover was the thing that broke the feminist movement. Here it is:

That’s right. The dude bro who just steamrolled over a woman who had exponentially more experience, a political coalition of her own, savvy acquired from working on healthcare issues from the West Wing, and proclaimed “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”, well, THAT man was a feminist. He who had only a single X-chromosome and zero experience being a woman, HE was more of a feminist than Hillary Clinton.

It was so unbelievably cynical, smug and cruel that Ms. Magazine jumped the shark at that very second. No one I knew would ever take it seriously again. Ms. Magazine, does it even exist anymore and if it does, why??

We could see the rest coming. The relentless Propaganda on the passage of the toothless Lily Ledbetter bill as some kind of monumental achievement while completely abandoning the Paycheck Fairness bill, the patronizing restrictions placed on Plan B, the deprioritization of legislating abortion and reproductive rights for women, these were all part of the Obama years.

No one held him accountable for these failings. No one wanted to be called a racist for criticizing anything he did or mostly didn’t do.

But it didn’t stop there. The Obama years were bad from an optics point of view as well. He took more of an active role in directing the State department, as if he had to keep an eye on Hillary, he played golf and shirtless basketball with a little group of guys, and his wife, a well educated lawyer who once had a high profile job, threw all of that away so she could stay home and garden and be a full time mom to two kids who were already in school. I suppose it was to make sure the Sally Quinns of the Washington social set didn’t start picking on her for being smart, accomplished and ambitious. Better to be the good little wifey who if she still wasn’t going to do tea and cookies looked completely fulfilled transplanting tomatos and cultivating kale. Nothing too taxing for our First Lady. Nothing that would provoke attention or envy. Indeed, any well educated woman with a law degree should consider mommy tracking herself because she sure as f[{# wasn’t going to get her need for paid maternity leave or child care addressed by the Obamas.

That’s what the Obama years mean to me. It was the swan song of feminism, a Madama Butterfly sacrifice for the Pinkerton who came back to rob her of her last shred of dignity. Here you go, take it. We eviscerate ourselves for you, oh cool dude. Over and over again, we were satisfied if he remembered us at all. “I gave you Lily Ledbetter, didn’t I?? You should be grateful.” The feminist movement went along with it and completely debased itself.

There was nothing benign about how Obama handled feminism or the genuine concerns of women. Putting birth control in the ACA was the least he could do and he did the least. What about everything else?

By the time Trump started to run in 2016, the ground work was already prepared. Obama and his dude bros had shown him how it was done. Oh sure, he had some of his own tricks. But at the bottom of it all was Obama and the Democratic Party that sold women out.

Truth and reconciliation start there.

Midterm Election Prospects

I have a tendency to look at political polls, particularly when we are near an election. I know that polls can be misleading; and I am more likely than in past decades to think that some of them use skewed samples, or might even be “‘push polls,” where you can lead the respondents to a particular answer.

An example might be if you asked questions about “strength in leadership,”about Lincoln or Churchill. and what qualities make a great leader; and then asked, “How do you rate President Biden’s leadership?” You have led the person polled to compare Biden with historic leaders, or to imagine great leadership, and then of course Biden is going to get worse numbers than if you had not “pushed” for the answer.

That is why I get irritated at “general opinion” polls, because the media almost always overextrapolates from them, and then this becomes “common wisdom,” which of course was intended by the biased pollster.

The “horse race” polls are probably more accurate, though we have seen a good deal of inaccurate polling in recent elections. So much so that one becomes suspicious. of the polling or the voting. There has apparently been a hidden Republican vote in major elections. Biden’s popular vote victory over Trump was about four points less than the last polling. Various Senate race margins won by Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham were much larger than the last week’ of polling. What to attribute that to, is difficult to know. Even so, one is apt to look at polls as still a reasonable guide to how the elections will turn out.

Now, as we probably all know, the polls continue to be unpleasant for Biden. The “Favorable/Unfavorable” daily polls continue to have him in the negative. somewhere around 40% positive to 58% negative. It is almost impossible to find a poll where his Favorables are 45%.

This began around the time of the pullout of troops from Afghanistan. For whatever motives, the national media really turned against Biden then. My feeling was that, given that Trump had committed to the pullout; that the country’s leaders were all making plans to escape with their money, there was no good way to do this; and that it actually went fairly well, as pullouts go. But the media showed the same pictures, which made it look as if it was chaotic, unplanned, and disastrous. It is interesting that a year later, no one talks about it, but the media made it look as if it was a terrible disaster.

So Biden’s ratings dropped from about 52% to the mid-40’s, and since then have continued to trend down. Of course, the media showing California gas stations with prices of $6 or more, plus the typical “person on the street” interviews with someone lamenting the inflation, the cost of everything, has greatly overstated the problem. Inflation is not good, no one likes high gas prices (except for the oil companies which are making record profits, even while the price of a barrel of oil drops), but it is certainly not an economy falling apart, as the chyrons and photos would have one believe.

This essay is not about debating the economy, but there are certainly many respected economists who say that the economy is actually pretty good; with job growth, ease of finding employment, earnings. The one big issue is inflation Inflation of 8.5% is not good, but it is year over year, not the daily rise which most of the media is either too ignorant or too biased to explain.

Prices are not going up 8.5% per day, as the “prices continue to soar” stories would have you believe. If something you bought cost $100 a month last year, it costs around $108.50 per month now. Not to minimize that, but it is far from the Weimar Republic, where “you used to take your money in your pocket, and take home your purchases in a basket, and now you bring your money in a basket, and take your purchases home in your pocket.”

Most people drive, so gas prices do hurt, and I do not like them. But take a look at the profits reported by oil companies, and the comparison of per barrel costs, vs. gas pump prices, and you will see blatant price gouging by the oil cartel. And of course–and this is very important–the Republicans as a bloc vote against any bills to limit price gouging, or to do anything to ease the burden on consumers.. The Republicans want the economy to struggle, and to be portrayed as far worse than it is, so that people will vote against the Democrats. That is a story which most of the media does not care to tell.

So here is the self-perpetuating narrative, “President Biden’s poll numbers continue to be bad.” Many people go along with it, as they like to be on the “right” side of an issue, so they are not apt to disagree with the apparent general sentiment.

That is something we cannot do much about, though as always, we wish that the Democrats’ ability at conveying political messages were better. And as usual, there is a fairly large contingent of Democrats who are unhappy, who say, “I voted for Biden, and he is not doing what I want him to do!,” words to that effect. The fact that the Democratic House has passed a number of excellent bills which are killed in the Senate, by the filibuster, and the fact that Manchin and Sinema have either been bought off, or are essentially Republicans, is not taken into account by the unhappy people.

We have Ashley Parker, who took over Philip Rucker’s position as Chief White House Reporter for the Washington Post, who continues to write pieces about “Democratic dissension,” “Democrats express dissatisfaction with Biden, as crises mount.” The implication is that the crises are either Biden’s fault, or that he is not able to cope with them. Then, when she gets on TV to explain her articles, all she comes up with is that some Democrats feel that Biden should attack Republicans more.

Okay, but this is not going to solve the war in Ukraine, or get gas prices down, or fix the climate, or take assault weapons away. The Democrats cannot pass these things now, and Biden can’t do them by Executive Orders, so while we are all frustrated, the sense I get is that Parker just wants to get headlines and scare up some controversy. I don’t know which Democrats are “dissatisfied,” and what they want Biden to do. They don’t, either.

Actually, I have read, and you could check it to confirm, that gas prices have dropped for 21 straight days. Not much, not enough, and not in California. But the media reported every price increase. And again, how is Biden supposed to reduce gas prices, if Republicans will do nothing to stop corporate price gouging?

Well, this lengthy preface gets us to the point where it seems almost certain that Biden’s popularity is not going to go up, and it may even go down. There is nothing he can do to suddenly galvanize it. The Republicans and the media and some inability on Biden’s part to convey the message with the forcefulness that might be needed, has baked this cake, as they say. If we are waiting for those numbers to go up in the next four months (and I had been), I think it is futile.

BUT–it is possible that this is not necessarily determinative of the upcoming Congressional elections. Some pretty good Senate polls show Fetterman and Warnock with good leads. Ryan in Ohio has a chance, as does Beasley in North Carolina. Now, we know that Republicans usually gain in Senate races in the last few months, probably because of all the money they have to pour into ads. We have been told that Democrats have more money than usual, so maybe that effect can be vitiated.

The House is a different story. You can’t gerrymander a Senate race, whereas Republicans gerrymandered every House district they could, while too many Blue states stick to their bipartisan commissions. And of course there is all the vote suppression. Tim O’Brien, who is high up on the Bloomberg media hierarchy, said yesterday that he does not expect the Democrats to hold the House.

That is very bad, for reasons we can elaborate on later, but which most directly would mean that Democrats cannot pass any bills, because all the bills brought up in the House will be Republican bills, from bad, to awful, to terrifying. And all the House hearings about Biden and Hillary and Schiff, and the impeachments which they will undertake, for revenge, political gain; and as with all the “Gates” they invented after Watergate, their attempt to mock it all, as partisan, and devoid of any significance.

Holding the Senate would give Biden free rein to appoint judges, including if any Right-Wing Justices left the Supreme Court, though unlikely. They could also block all House bills, which would make it like Obama’s last six years, except that the Republicans might shut down the government this time, which might backfire.

Well, before we get there, Matthew Dowd, another long-time Republican strategist who has disavowed his former party, and now focuses on what he thinks Democrats should do, because it is these people’s nature, has said something which does have a ring of accuracy to it. He says that Democrats must not run on Biden’s record, must not get involved in arguments about what he did or didn’t do. He thinks they should solely focus on how dangerous Republicans are, and will be if they hold power.

In other words, sort of run away from Biden, at least don’t focus on him. He does have a point, in that as Biden’s poll numbers stay low, individual Democrats seem to be doing rather well in their races. Of course, this could all change, and then they would all go down together. Dowd, and others who hold his view, think that making midterms a referendum on Biden, is a losing strategy; and that the Democrats’ strength lies in telling the populace how bad and dangerous the various Republicans running are.

It is interesting, that the reason that the Conservatives in England jettisoned Boris Johnson, is that they think that he would be a weight dragging down their party in the next election. Well, we cannot do that here. We have to rely on Biden to win in 2024, unless he simply chooses not to run. Trying to unseat him in primaries would be an unpleasant battle, with the inevitable repercussions with disaffected Democrats. So Biden has to be supported now. But that does not mean that Democrats should try to explain all of the current national concerns, though I wish they could, because people are getting a very distorted picture.

Ordinarily, the midterms are considered a referendum on the party which won two years before, and it usually is bad for that party, particularly if it is the Democrats, because their supporters usually are not as inclined to vote in the midterms, a very bad thing which has to stop. But maybe this time, people will vote against the party which will ban all abortions, probably ban birth control, do nothing about guns or climate, will take away the right to vote for millions of people. Run on those things, and we can win, is the contention.

It may well be true, and maybe that is how we are running now. We really do need to keep the House, too, but we would need some awfully good news to do that. Maybe an all-out campaign to tell people that Republicans are determined to ban abortions in every state, might get them to think more about that, than what the gas price is that day. That price will change, whereas one’s right to an abortion would not come back soon, not with electoral realities, and the Supreme Court prepared to strike down any legislation it disagrees with.

I saw a cartoon depicting a “The Handmaid’s Tale” tableau. And a little girl saying to her mother “How did this happen?” And the mother saying, “Well, gas prices were high…” That is exactly how it could go, and has in history at some times..

There is some event, or economic problem, a famine, a flood, and it is used by authoritarians to trick people into letting them gain power, with all the attendant repressions. Once power is given away, it is very difficult to ever get back.

Republicans have been trying to manipulate the voters and the media or many years, and think they can do it any time they want. They have to be stopped, and it will take people keeping their focus on rights, liberties, and their potential removal by the Republican fascist-theocrats. to do it. That, and voting, of course.

Gun Fetish

When I moved into a dorm in college as a freshman of barely 18, I didn’t know too much, except about academic things, and sports. So when my roommate asked me one day, “Do you think that an umbrella is a phallic symbol?,” I thought that maybe this was the kind of thing that the college cognoscenti debated about. Had he asked me that ten years later, I would have politely said that this was ridiculous, people trying to act mature by thinking that everything is a sex symbol; and that an umbrella is no more a phallic symbol than a pencil, or a tube of Chapstick.

But a gun as phallic symbol? That is a concept that many theorize about, and it is understandable. I do not know the history of the making of guns, so I am sure that there was some utilitarian purpose to the shape, but it is undeniable that there is some psychic relationship in many people’s unconscious, if not conscious, mind, between the gun and the male sex organ.

Guns have become fetishized, much more so than they were a hundred years go, as far as I can gather. Guns are a symbol of potency. Take someone’s gun away, or even suggest some restrictions on gun purchase and ownership, and the reaction is probably about what it would be if forced castration were supported by some people.

The Beatles wrote a song, almost certainly mostly written by John Lennon, called “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” It is a savage mockery of an ad he saw in a magazine, made by the National Rifle Association, which perverted a famous “Peanuts” cartoon, with Charlie Brown holding Snoopy, and the caption, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”

The lyrics to the last part go: “Happiness is a warm gun/ (bang bang, shoot shoot)/ Happiness is a warm gun, mama/ (bang bang, shoot shoot)/ When I hold you in my arms/ And I feel my finger on your trigger/ I know nobody can do me no harm/ Because happiness is a warm gun, mama/ Happiness is a warm gun, yes, it is…”

You can’t get guns away from people like that. Somehow the NRA ads, and the relentless Right Wing brainwashing, has made guns into something that people are terrified to have taken away from them.

Lennon knew exactly what he was writing about. A gun has become a totem, a symbol of virility, a magic charm to keep one from harm. Those who worship at the gun cult do not think in those terms, they just feel it. Without their gun, they are not potent. I do not want to just limit this to a male thing, because women like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene write ads and posts filled with gun symbols. Eric Greitens wrote about “RINOS” (“Republicans in Name Only), and showed himself with a long-range gun, with a caption about “going RINO hunting.” Guns fill the advertising of the Far Right.

They also use it as a “Boo!,” intended to scare people who fear guns, who fear that somebody is going to deliberately or accidentally shoot them. The Right loves the idea of “concealed carry,” probably not because they think this is going to help them in a shootout on mass transit, or at a picnic, but because they might just have a gun or two or three in their pocket or their purse, or their picnic basket, “and then, lib, we might pull them out and shoot you and your family, if we don’t like how they look, or you tell me to wear a mask, or that Biden won the election!”

I am not kidding. This is where they want it to go. Wait until the elections, and see how many Far Right people bring their guns to the polls, how many warnings on social media, that if you go out to vote, they will come after you.

The gun was known as the equalizer. A man who was not physically strong, who could not win in a fistfight, suddenly had the upper hand if he pulled out his gun. It was transformative. Of course, if the other person also had a gun, then it was pretty even, that is the legend of the Wild West. But you had to have a gun with you, and be ready to use it at any minute. The Right wants to use the threat of guns to terrify their opponents, to keep them from ever saying or doing anything which they don’t like.

I wrote yesterday that I thought that there is something, maybe amorphous, maybe more concrete, behind the terrible repeated stories of mass shooters who were supposedly radicalized on internet sites which glorified guns, killing, and death. That there might be various people who intend to draw recruits into this cult, so that they become obsessed with killing people, as the accused in the Highland Park murders is said to have been.

This man killed seven people so far, and apparently wounded 127 or so. It is said that the wounds are like battlefield wounds, because of course they come from assault rifles and bullets. Many of the wounded may never recover from the wounds. One wonders how many would have died had this man been a better shot. The next one might be.

I don’t write this to scare you or me, but it is scary. And we are now at a point where guns have become almost a religion to many millions of Americans. Their reactions when someone suggests some restrictions on the purchase and ownership of guns, verge on the insane.

There are some people out there who want this to be an armed country, with multiple shootouts, with ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers, being killed. Maybe they want a civil war, where they are sure that they have more firepower. I would guess that the Russians would like the United States to turn to civil war. People like Steve Bannon have essentially said so.

The Supreme Court is ruled by some very strange people who are filled with hatred of “the liberals,” and who seem determined to turn the streets into shooting ranges, while they are protected in their own homes by their benefactors, who live behind gates, with hired guns who will turn a barrage of fire against anyone who threatens them. Then they can sit back and watch, maybe it will be televised for a price they can afford.

We know that a strong majority of Americans want some significant gun safety legislation. But they have to turn that into power, and without the use of guns. Because the minority which wants not one restriction on guns or their use, has most of the guns, and intends to use them to keep whatever it is that makes them so much in love with the many guns which they go out every day to buy more of. What would they be without their guns? They are afraid to find out.

Do you remember the scene in the movie “Goodfellas,” where Joe Pesci’s nascent gangster seems like mostly attitude, until the time that “Spider” a mentally handicapped errand boy in those circles, dares to make a joke at Pesci’s expense, and actually gets plaudits from the other guys. Pesci has no ability to retort in kind; his milieu is not that of the Restoration “wits,” who triumphed by verbal cleverness. The only way he can keep his image, his manhood, his power in that world, is to pull out his gun and shoot Spider eight times, and then tell his pals to “clean it up.”

What would these gun fetishists do without their guns? Where else could they derive any sense of control over their lives and environment? We might say that “a real man,” or woman, should not need this artificial implement of power, that their power should derive from knowing who they are, from trying to learn more about the world, and how to live together in it; from caring, and trying to help.

But that’s not how the gun lobby and their marketing targets comprehend things; they want the guns, more, of them, and fancier. Like most humans, they create the world that they want to live in, the one that helps them to feel stronger, and more in control of the things which frustrate, upset, and terrify them.

A Hypothesis

I hear the news about the terrible mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, at a Fourth of July parade. And I think all the usual thoughts about how awful this is: people take their children out to a nice parade, and then some insane man of 20 or so tries to kill as many of them as he can, and actually gets away for a few hours. And I think of all the literal tragedies, and also how many people will be forever traumatized by this.

I thought about guns, and virtually nonexistent gun laws, and the NRA, and the whole dreadful reality of this.. And then I had a thought, that if some of the victims of these daily shootings were right-wing people, people who fetishized guns, and wanted everyone to have the ability to purchase and walk around with as many guns as they wanted, maybe this might cause a few people to change their minds, particularly in Congress?

And I was not hoping that these would be some of the victims, I was just playing it out in my head, wondering if the absolutely reflexive response from the Right, to support more guns; to say that it wasn’t the guns that were the problem, it was the unlocked door, the open stairwell, the teacher, the police officer; to somehow try to blame the whole thing on liberalism, wokeness, whatever their hated thing is, would somehow change if they were actually some of the victims? And then I thought, “But they are not.”

I have not studied the lists of the people killed in Buffalo, or Pulse Nightclub, or Tree of Life Synagogue, or Uvalde, or Las Vegas, or the other scenes of mass shooting. I don’t know what political persuasion or lifestyles the victims had. But we must note that almost all of these have occurred where it was far more likely that minorities of different types would be the ones shot. There may be exceptions to this, but it does seem to be the rule.

I am guessing that we will learn that the killer in Highland Park, Illinois, was targeting Jewish people. It is an affluent suburb, described as “heavily populated by Jewish people.” Now, did this gunman just happen to be a deranged sociopath who felt like shooting people on the Fourth of July? Was he angry at a teacher, or a classmate, or someone he worked with? Possibly, but I am speculating that he wanted to kill Jewish people. It is said that he shot children, and elderly people, apparently anyone he could aim at. He was not aiming at one or two people, he wanted mass carnage. And I will further guess that the majority of victims, killed and wounded, were Jewish. We will see, but will the media follow this part, or lose interest?

We know that a gunman went into a Black church and was unquestionably trying to kill Black people. We know that a gunman went into a synagogue and killed Jewish people. A man went into a nightclub in Florida and was trying to kill gay people. The children killed in Uvalde were Hispanic

I do not have nearly enough data to make a conclusion. Somehow after the agony of the first day’s stories, the media seems to lose interest in discussing “motive.” Maybe the FBI follows up, but very possibly, after the shooter is killed, or even if he is arrested, the motive aspect is put aside. So admittedly without concrete numbers, I am only speculating, that the number of Straight White Christian males who were victims in these many shootings, is a good deal below the demographic percentages.

I will further speculate that in many cases, the shooter was largely or partially motivated by hatred of minority people; one group, or many. And I wonder, what with all this social media, all these groups and chat rooms we hear about which are spewing hate and violence, if there is more of a group aspect to these killings than the “disturbed lone shooter” image that is usually portrayed.

This is not to say that the ultimate shooter in these events has worked together with others to plan the killings, though that is certainly possible. But how fanciful is it to imagine that some of the online conversations are about hatred of Blacks, Jewish people, Latinos, Gays, and that some people are thus virtually, if not literally, guided to their appointment with murder?

It is just too coincidental that these killings often take place in sites frequented or resided in by minorities. Do you remember the chant of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville? When I first heard about that, I did not understand why these White Supremacists would be afraid of Jewish people taking their jobs. But then I learned that this chant came from an insane, Nazi-based “Great Replacement Theory,” where Jewish people were imagined as trying to bring in Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to take the jobs.

The malevolent “genius” of this theory is that it allows the Nazis to hate the ethnic minorities, and see “the Jews” as the shadowy figure behind it all. This was essentially what Hitler and Goebbels used to build hatred of Jewish people. It is is almost incomprehensible that Fox Network allows Tucker Carlson and others to get on the air and mimic those two figures of ultimate evil, apparently to the same ends.

So is that part of the plan, even if “the plan” is only more hinted at, more backdrop, than written out where it could be traced by law enforcement? Just keep fomenting hatred of Blacks, Jews, and other minority groups, and lead the online followers to develop such insane fear and animosity, that at least a few of them will turn into triggered killers.

This is “The Manchurian Candidate” without the direct brainwashing, and the solitaire game. This is mass brainwashing without the dramatic embellishments. Play on the anger, loneliness, and fear of young White men; teach them how wonderful guns are, how much of a sense of power it gives one; how much revenge you can enact in a few minutes. Then sit back and watch it work. You don’t have to directly tell them where to go, whom to shoot, you have pointed them in the direction you want them to go.

Is there a cabal of Far Right people who plan this out, somewhat like in the frightening movie “The Parallax View”? Perhaps, but most likely,not. It is more like winding up something, and then letting it run. There are so many people who have been drawn to one or more of the virulent sites which proliferate, and spin out their perverted fantasies, that it is almost certain that there will be a steady stream of weaponized people with easy access to assault rifles and ammunition. Wind them up, and watch them go.

That is what my musings today led me to. Just a hypothesis. Perhaps not exact in any detail, maybe not even accurate in its totality. But like all worthwhile hypotheses, it fits. The other alternative, the one we most hear in the media, is that these shootings are by discrete individuals, who have a troubled history, “who drift onto online sites,” and then one day, or maybe having planned it for a while, get their guns and ammunition, and go out to kill people.

The appeal of that hypothesis, particularly to the Far Right, is that it absolves them and their manifestos from responsibility. “It was just a disturbed person, what a shame. Let’s move on.” And so they do, to the next inevitable murder spree. Murder from a distance, murder that you never get arrested for, because you didn’t buy the guns or pull the trigger, you just goaded and commanded other people to do it.

You remember the other day in the House January 6 Committee hearings, we heard a tape of Trump demanding that “his people” be allowed to enter the Capitol with their weapons, because “they aren’t going to hurt me”? The mass shooters don’t seem to be hurting very many, if any, of the people on their side. Maybe that is why their side doesn’t seem too worried about the risk to them, and always just wants to “move on”?

That may well not be the exact truth, but I think that the truth is contained somewhere in the implications of this hypothesis.

Happy Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July was always a nice holiday. It celebrates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. It comes during the height of Summer, so it carries with it memories of pleasant celebrations as a child and as an adult.

For some, it meant a trip to the beach, maybe to watch a fireworks show. Or to one of the theme parks, Coney Island or Disneyland. Or if you loved baseball, doubleheaders, now mostly a thing of the past, as the franchises can make more money on individual games, than on the larger crowd you might get for playing two games in one day. But there are still plenty of baseball games on all day.

It is still close to the longest day of the year. Time to barbecue, sit outside and spend time with family. And of course there is the celebration of American independence, The Stars and Stripes Forever. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.

I hope everyone enjoys the Fourth in some way, whether it is watching one of the fireworks shows on television, or having family visit, or watching baseball, or one of the TV series telethons, or just not going to work.

As to the meaning of the holiday; where we are as a nation in our 247th year, we can think about that, or put it aside for right now. America has stood for something, and maybe that will carry us through. Independence. Liberty. Freedom. Democracy. Those are of course words, and they can be misused or exploited. But I think that there are still many millions of Americans who know what they are supposed to mean, and don’t want them to just be meaningless words.

Enjoy the holiday! Before long, it will be time to vote for our American democracy!