Let’s Go, Brandon! — Biden takes MAGA behind the woodshed

September 4th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

www.zeppscommentaries.online

The whole world knows that Biden called out the MAGAts—the Trump supporters who cling stubbornly to the lie that the election was stolen and Trump is the legitimate president. That all elections are rigged except of course for the ones Republicans win. (Ok, there was one case where a Republican won and charges of rigged election were brought up—by another Republican in the race who lost). He called out the violent clowns who terrorize poll workers and school boards, and who loudly proclaim that they and only they have rights, and liberals are just pedophile snowflakes.

MAGAts are disgusting anti-American people, and Biden was right to call them out.

While the reaction in the vast right wing media circus was predictable (scalded cats, meet outraged nuns who just found a porn magazine) it was somewhat muted and not as convincing as it might otherwise have been. After all, these are the people who thundered endlessly for years over such silly made-up crap such as Whitewater, the Arkansas assassinations, Vince Foster, tan suits, Grey Poupon mustard, Benghazi, “her emails” and, horror of horrors, Sandy Duncan taking home A classified file. They turned the once-reputable Kenneth Starr into a porn writer in an effort to get Bill Clinton on Monica. And of course they embraced all the fruitloop theories propounded by Alex Jones and the trash far right, about how liberals are “groomers” and want to ban Christianity and on and on and on.

Given how readily they slip into moral outrage on a moment’s notice, you might think the explosion that greeted Biden’s speech would have shook the world.

Granted, it is a holiday weekend, and that may have muted them a bit. It may be that they’ll wait until the survivors return from the last holiday of the summer before demanding Biden’s impeachment and/or execution, and claim that the 4% of the country that support him are commies and/or pedophiles (honestly, can any of these morons even SPELL “pedophile”? Or know what it is? OK, I spell it paedophile, but I was raised in England and Canada, and there is no cure.)

Or could it be that more and more Republicans are realizing that Donald Trump is a really stupid bet for 2024, or the future of the party?

Biden certainly knows that. He very carefully pointed out that most Republicans no longer support MAGA if they ever did, and that is a number that is dwindling rapidly. Even the true believers who are convinced the impeachments were hoaxes and that January 6th was a false-flag operation staged by AntiFa (and you have to be pretty stupid and/or mental to believe those things to begin with) are beginning to realize that the secret files that the FBI seized at Mar-A-Lago are clear and compelling evidence that major felonies were committed by Trump, up to and including treason. Trump himself has been increasingly shrill and desperate, his wild and often contradictory reactions less and less plausible, and the efforts of more and more Republicans to distance themselves from this vast, mushrooming nuclear scandal ever more apparent.

Even Doctor Oz, who is running one of the most tone-deaf campaigns in the country, has shown enough sense to try to back away from Trump, which he did at that pathetic rally in Philadelphia last night.

One of the most striking things about that rally came in the wee hours, when Trump took to his failing “Truth Social” to declare, “Thank you to everyone who attended the Rally last night. It was a two-hour speech, and the only disappointment was that they were screaming, ‘Please, please, go longer.’ They love our Country, and I love them!” It was such a pitch-perfect evocation of Groucho Marx’ Dictator that I was prompted to write, “Remember, Donald Trump shoots a perfect 18 on every round of golf, impregnates a thousand virgins a night, and won the War of 1812.” The leader is infallible, medals for everyone, yes.

Despite the billions spent by the autocratic aristocracy (one clown gave $1.6 billion to the Federalist Society to aid their never-ending search for corporate buffoons and religious nuts to put on the courts) and the millions of man-hours in the echoverse of right wing media, Trump’s support is diminishing, and the GOP is dwindling with him. I won’t be surprised along about late October to see more Republicans openly breaking ranks with Trump and essentially declaring themselves to be “Biden Republicans”—not vicious nuts who want to destroy democracy. Oh, they won’t call themselves that; that would be a death sentence. But they would be using that very demarcation to persuade voters that they are sane, respect rights, and don’t want to destroy the United States. It may even help, a bit.

Trump will still be twisting in the wind at that point. The Department of Justice won’t indict him on the grounds that it’s too close to an election that Trump isn’t even running for office in. It’s moments like these when I wonder if the colonists are really ready for self-rule, but then I look at the messy national suicide that is Britain, and I just hush mah mouf. I don’t think England is ready for self-rule, either. Someone call the Saxon suicide watch line.

Trump will continue to lose ground both legally and politically, and between him and the Dobbs decision, which unleashed the theocratic lunatics on America, the Democrats should do quite well in the November elections.

Trump, of course, will blame it on lack of resolve by his followers. That’s what failed megalomaniacs always do.

Zealotry Aborted — Kansas shows America not ready for religious fascism

Zealotry Aborted

Kansas shows America not ready for religious fascism

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 5th 2022

The only thing about the Kansas vote to reaffirm the state Supreme Court upholding the right to abortion that surprised me was the amount it won by: 59-41. I figured it would pass, but I wasn’t expecting the blowout margin.

Poll after poll has shown that the usurpation of the Constitution by the zealots on the federal Supreme Court is wildly unpopular, and free states are hustling to encode abortion rights if needed, and vowing to provide such rights to enslaved women in the zealot states. That’s why Kansas wasn’t a surprise so far as the result went. Abortion, and separation of church and state, cross partisan lines. It’s one thing to say that Kansas is one of the reddest states in the union; but not all Republicans march in lockstep with the preachers and demagogues that dominate that beleaguered party. And independents in particular will break ranks when it comes to maintaining rights and freedoms.

Kansas all but invented the term “prairie populism.” Often deeply religious, and conservative, but also strong-willed and independent. They may like and respect their Sunday preacher just fine, but they aren’t about to let him dictate how they should vote, or what rights the church can take away that the Constitution promises.

Kansas is one of the most heavily propagandized states in America, with all radio and much television devoted to reactionary Protestant broadcasting, or the endless lies and undermining of freedom that stems from hate radio. I figured that there were maybe 5% of the voters there brainwashed enough to cut off their own noses to “own the libs.” Well, it’s happened before. Look at the obviously incompetent, unfit, and inept trolls in Congress who got there despite having nothing—nothing at all—to offer other than snark and clownish defiance.

I’m happy to see that I was wrong, by about 7% of Kansas’ population. I figured abortion rights would win, but I was expecting a 52-48 margin. That it went the way it did is cause for considerable optimism.

One phenomenon that may have underlay the result was the open, gleeful, and acquisitive viciousness and cruelty that the zealots and the fascists of the GOP displayed. A few days after the Supreme Court (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Comey Barrett) decided to kick the rights of hundreds of millions of people under the nearest Bible, a nightmare scenario emerged, of a ten year old rape victim who had to travel to a neighboring state for an abortion. Any reasonable or rational people would look at that situation and consider making the new law less strident, more humane. There is no situation in which any government, no matter how god-burdened, should force a ten-year-old to give birth to her rapist’s baby.

The Washington Times is one of the shabbier exercises in propaganda journalism given birth by a different set of Zealots, the Moonies, although they dumped the rag a few years back, but it’s still a rag. That exercise in dysfunctional journalism cast doubt on the story, writing, “If there was a 10-year-old girl out there who had been impregnated, certainly there’d be a criminal investigation into her rape.

“But Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said this week that there was “not a whisper” of evidence to back up the story. ‘The bottom line is it is a crime if you’re a mandated reporter to fail to report. It’s also the fact that in Ohio the rape of a 10-year-old means life in prison,’Mr. Yost said on Fox News.” Yost either had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t bother to fact check first, or he was flat-out lying. The rape and rapist had been reported, and he is awaiting trial. But that didn’t stop zealots from sending death threats meant for the girl for the crime of getting raped and being a political embarrassment to them.

And then there’s the lies. Several “justices” on the Supreme Court lied, blatantly and with malice, declaring before the Senate and while under oath that Roe Vs. Wade was “established law” and they would respect stare decisis, which is the legal notion that precedent should determine legal decision making in a case involving similar facts. They lied, and got appointed under fraudulent circumstances.

All the anti-abortion crowd who said they just wanted to limit abortion, and didn’t want to interfere with contraception or a woman’s right to private medical counsel immediately started passing pre-written laws contradicting those stances. Some states are even trying to make it illegal to go to another state for an abortion, or even protest against the law.

Religious zealots believe that they have to be cruel in god’s name either because a) god is cruel, or b) god is kind, but wants to test his followers by making them be cruel. Zealots also believe that it’s ok to lie to “unbelievers” (everyone else) in the name of god. The zealots and corrupt toadies on the Supreme Court have unleashed this miasma of humanity loose on the land, and hideous stories of repression, cruelty, and oppression are emerging every where.

It’s how theocracies—all theocracies—work. The starry-eyed idiots who declare that life would be perfect if we put [god, allah, jesus] in charge miss an important fact: god isn’t running the show. It never has. It doesn’t exist. What a theocracy is is a group of politicians who find god to be the perfect figleaf for their own corruption and viciousness. God is the trump card that ends debate. You end up with The Church running the country, and it’s accountable only to an imaginary doormat that says whatever it is The Church wants it to say and says so on its behalf. It’s the ultimate scam, the Saudi Arabia, the 14th century Europe, and Cromwell’s England. The lowest misery of history, repeated over and over.

Kansas voters may or may not have figured that out. But a significant number of them realize that these people, these zealots, are not to be trusted, and allowed to run loose, will destroy America and everyone in her.

The naked face of religious and fascist zealotry has been exposed. People who wanted to believe are turning away.

Zealots — The battle is joined

Zealots

The battle is joined

June 25th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Nothing exposes the utter ethical and logical bankruptcy of zealotry than the two decisions the once-and-not-bright-future Supreme Court handed down this week.

First, they celebrated the ever-growing piles of dead children by ruling that states could not put any limitations on concealed-carry except, of course, for “sensitive areas” such as…the Supreme Court. They don’t want to have to take the same risks they want to impose on the rest of us.

Then two days later the Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, ruling that states had the right to put limitations on abortion, including making it illegal under any and all circumstances.

So in the space of just 48 hours, the Court ruled that the Court could not impose limitations on the second amendment, and then ruled that states could impose limitations on the ninth and fourteenth amendments.

The first ruling ensures greater numbers of dead people, including children. The second was done in the nebulous name of “saving children.” It’s the kind of inconsistency that lies at the heart of the zealot’s mindset.

Zealotry is hard to tell apart from insanity. Zealotry is an externalized morality and intellect, one aptly described by Voltaire who said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Most (but far from all) zealots aren’t lacking sanity—they merely reject it.

Donald Trump isn’t a zealot. It’s perhaps an interesting paradox that nihilism is a good emotional defense against zealotry. If you believe in nothing, you are much less likely to believe absurdities, right? Of course, the drawback is that nihilists also commit atrocities, and unlike many zealots, do so with the full recognition of what their actions entail—they just don’t care. In fact they may even enjoy the suffering they cause.

Trump is a nihilist posing as a zealot. So today, he praised the court ruling on abortion as “God made the decision.” Of course, he then went on to take the credit from God, saying that the decision wouldn’t have been possible without his three disgraceful Supreme Court picks. Anyone who thinks God and Trump are interchangeable on any level has one shit God. They already had a shit President.

The zealots control the Court. They have a stranglehold on Congress. They threaten to take over the entire country in the next six months. It’s not something new in history: Zealots have taken over many countries in history, and the result, without exception, is misery, deprivation, and slaughter. All the worst “revolutionary governments” in history were controlled and largely were composed of zealots; revolutionary France, Nazi Germany, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, Lenin’s Russia, Pinochet’s Chile, Iran’s Islamic Republic, Cromwell’s England…the list is endless.

Usually countries so afflicted need decades to recover. Some, such as the Congo or Cambodia, never do fully recover.

When zealots take over, personal and legal freedoms cease to exist. The same people who like to claim rights are God-given don’t hesitate to ensure they are God-taken, and as always, God is an obliging doormat who shares all of a zealot’s most cherished beliefs.

The Court decisions this week show how close to the maw of authoritarian zealotry America has already come. Clarence Thomas, disgraced justice on that same court, publicly stated in his decision that the court now needs to “revisit” rulings upholding the right to contraception and same-sex marriages. No word on how the esteemed judge feels about mixed-race marriages or laws against slavery.

States run by zealots are rushing to put laws into effect that make it criminal to give or receive abortions, to travel to other states for abortions, or to even advocate for the right to an abortion. Some are trying to outlaw “morning after” pills, along with contraception. A couple of states are trying to fig leaf their assault on the rights and freedoms of women by promising to expand state assistance to mothers and their young children, but in the few cases where any details are available, the measures are ridiculously inadequate, showing their mitigation measures to be nothing more than a half-hearted swipe at the pretense that they are “caring about the children.”

The hearings by the January 6th Select Committee, and the reception they are getting, show that there are still many people in America who value justice and freedom and rationality.

I think we’re going to need every single one of those types of people. This isn’t just an assault on rights and freedoms; it’s the opening shot in a war that can only be prevented by enough people facing the zealots down and saying, “Enough.”

Zealots won’t back off. They won’t settle for a half loaf. They’ll take it all, and laugh at your suffering.

Resist as hard as you can now, or you will be fighting for “life, liberty and freedom” later—and it won’t be cheap.

But don’t despair. We’re not dead yet. Voltaire also said, “‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

Sing as you resist.

Facing Fascism — By their crazy ye shall know them

 

Facing Fascism

By their crazy ye shall know them

 

May 21st, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

 

More and more, we’re seeing a dangerous rise of the racist, neo-Nazi right, as witness the horrible shooting in Buffalo last week where one of the spawn of Fox News and the GOP massacred 10 people who were doing nothing more criminal than a bit of grocery shopping.

We’re also seeing a rise in the sheer lunacy of the people the far-right is putting up as their voices and leaders. It isn’t just Trump and the idiotic trolls that infest Congress; it’s people who say utterly insane things to disguise what they really are.

On the Christian fascist front, as god-floggers in dozens of states race to convert the United States into a 12th century theocracy, one of the great movers and shakers of this poisonous movement appeared before Congress, to explain, under oath, why abortion needs to be illegal. Since there’s no sane secular or religious reason to support this point of view, she had to wax inventive—under oath, no less.

She said, “Bodies [are] thrown in medical waste bins, and in places like Washington, D.C., burned to power the lights of the cities’ homes and streets.”

Americans United for Life President Catherine Glenn Foster proclaimed.“Let that image sink in with you for a moment,” she continued. “The next time you turn on the light, think of the incinerators, think of what we’re doing to ourselves so callously and so numbly.”

OK, I thought about that. If the street lights have a bluish glow, they are running on little boy fetuses. If it’s little girl fetuses being burned, the lights are pinkish.

And if it’s the brains of right-wing god-floggers, the lights are dark.

She proclaimed this amazing idiocy under oath. To the House Judiciary Committee. She gets paid $190,000 a year to justify the actions of the Christian fascists’ most hateful and paranoid anti-choice group. The group claims “We are the voice for millions, a nonpartisan force working to create lifelong connections between persons of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs.” People of all white race, male, stupid and anti-women beliefs, of course. The rest of us can go hang. We’re burning fetuses to power streetlights, you see.

The Democrats should charge this nut with perjury and contempt of Congress. Granted, she’ll probably get off on a sanity clause plea.

Chip Roy of Texas, because of course Texas, wanted to know if it was OK to abort a baby as it was being born. This is a favorite lurid fantasy of the far right religious nuts; that a woman will go all the way to term and then decide on a whim to abort. That they believe that this can even happen, let alone is a common occurrence, just shows the utter moral and mental bankruptcy of this movement. After the second trimester, abortions only happen if there is something gone catastrophically wrong—the fetus is dead, or both are unlikely to survive birth. But these pseudo-religious whacks like to believe the very worst in others so they can tell themselves they are superior.

Republicans proved what utter hypocrites they are. Even as they pushed to make all abortions and even contraception illegal, they unanimously voted against a bill to increase the supply of baby formula in the face of a critical shortage created by criminal corporate malfeasance. The GOP motto is “every fetus is sacred—until birth. At that point, fuck it.”

Democrats in the House reintroduced a bill to increase government response to domestic terrorism. Last year, the same bill got a majority of GOP votes, and in fact was sponsored by three GOP members.

According to Raw Story: “Senate Republican Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota immediately poured cold water on a just-passed House bill to help fight rising domestic terrorism, in the wake of his past weekend’s massacre of ten Black people in Buffalo by a self-avowed white nationalist and antisemite and a California church shooting deemed a ‘politically motivated hate incident’ by local law enforcement. The House bill passed with all Democrats and just one Republican voting for it. 203 Republicans voted against the legislation that would establish new offices across three federal agencies to help identify and combat domestic terrorism. Three of the Republicans who voted against the legislation are original co-sponsors of the bill, and many who voted for a very similar bill two years ago voted against this bill Wednesday. The final tally was 222-203. Conservative Tom Nichols, interviewed on the Joy Reid Show, said, ‘there is a nihilistic, fear-driven alliance here with a group of opportunists, and I want to get back to this issue of about Hungary, the really dangerous thing here is that some of these people believe very deeply in — in some of this stuff and yet others, and I would say people like [Tucker] Carlson and Matt Schlapp and some of the other people capering about in Budapest, don’t believe in any of this and don’t believe in anything of this other than the extension of their own personal power and wealth. And when you have this coalition of shallow, empty opportunists along with with a group of paranoids, basically, then you have a really dangerous movement because each side has to keep upping the ante to kind of justify why they are doing the things they are doing,’”

So the stance of the GOP is this: They don’t want to work against bad domestic terrorists because it may inconvenience some of the good domestic terrorists. If people are slaughtering Americans in the name of the Koran, or Karl Marx, or Xi, then it’s OK to prosecute them. But if they are home-grown cowards and murders, waving the cross and the flag and avidly watching Tucker Carlson for tips on how to annoy liberals by behaving like Nazis, well, that’s just political persecution, isn’t it? Republican mass murderers good, other mass murderers bad.

Tucker Carlson and CPAC are meeting in Hungary this week. Featured guest of honor was Viktor Mihály Orbán, the dictator of Hungary. Tucker and his crowd worship this five-and-dime tyrant, you see.

Orbán this week made it illegal to call him a dictator. No, really—he did. There’s a technical term for leaders who make it illegal to call them dictators. That term is “dictator.” Orbán pretty much personifies it.

Trump addressed this dumpster-fire remotely, joining a line-up that included Zsolt Bayer, who likes to refer to Jews as “stinking execrement.” Now, I realize Trump is the most trash president America has ever had, but “stinking execrement?” Well, this is the level of crazy Carlson and Fox News have brought us to. Remember, Donnie: if you march with Nazis, you are a Nazi.

OK, these people are crazy, and stupid, and about half of them are play acting for malevolent ends. But they are dangerous.

Nations routinely fall to fascism, both religious and secular. There really isn’t much difference, except religious dictatorships usually move quicker to open concentration camps to “protect us all” from non-believers, which is usually a majority of any given population.

But getting rid of these pests is nearly impossible. It usually requires great amounts of sacrifice, blood, death and misery, because they will never relinquish power voluntarily.

If this lot take over, expect to see your children sacrificing their lives to overthrow them. The only thing worse would be to see your children shooting people in the name of God in a vile new regime.

 

 

The Alito Case — No Constitutional or Biblical Basis

The Alito Case

No Constitutional or Biblical Basis

May 4th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Numbers 5:27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”

That’s right, folks—the only time the Bible actually mentions forced miscarries —abortions, in other words—is in Numbers, where abortion can be forced upon a woman who is suspected of infidelity.

Most fundamentalist Christians would be astonished by that verse, which the Christian fascist movement deals with by claiming it doesn’t say what it clearly says. The belief that there is a religious basis for opposing abortion is a false one.

Abortion was well known in biblical times. Midwives kept a stock of herbs and other medicines that would induce a miscarry and/or kill the foetus. This passage from Numbers acknowledges that fact.

Non-biblical historical information from that part of the world in those days shows that not only did abortion exist, but infanticide was accepted amongst certain groups. It was common for female babies to be killed at birth, since females were considered an expensive and weak child. Israelites had an ‘out’ from the Rabbinate to avoid the grave crime of infanticide; Talmudic law stipulated that life in a human being began upon the child drawing its third breath. Prior to that, it wasn’t a human being.

You can go through the bible and find thousands of transgressions that can result in death, and/or that Jehovah finds abhorrent. Some of them are bloody silly. Eating lobster, for instance. If you’ve ever eaten shellfish you’re going to hell. Building a fire to heat your house on the Sabbath? Hell-bound. Wearing a cotton blend? You’re gonna burn, baby!

What the bible doesn’t mention as a crime? Abortion. We know it happened, along with acts that we would today consider infanticide. Nobody thought that was worth mentioning. Nope, not even Jesus.

There are times Jehovah even condoned it, urging troops of his tribe to invade neighboring villages and rip babies from the wombs of the women there and dash their heads against the rocks. (“The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” Hosea 13:16) That’s not the worst. There’s a site that details similar atrocities. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2009/08/the-bible-is-pro-child-killing/ It doesn’t have the bit about a bunch of kids making fun of a prophet of the lord for being bald, and the prophet asked an obliging god to deal with the kids, which he does by sending bears to tear them apart. (2 Kings 2:24)

So if anyone tells you god is against abortion, they don’t know what they are talking about.

That brings us to the leaked Alito decision that is causing the biggest shit storm this country has seen since the civil war. Alito and his fellow right wing Catholics knew they couldn’t use the Bible to justify banning abortion. Some of them might be erudite enough to know that the bible is utterly useless as a basis for that argument. But they knew they couldn’t use the Bible for another reason: the Constitution explicitly forbids basing government policy on biblical writ. If you ever read the 10 Commandments with a critical (legalistic) eye, you’ll notice that six of them are utterly unenforceable and blatantly unconstitutional.

And secular justification for banning abortion is pretty thin on the ground. While anti-abortion fanatics like to talk about tearing apart babies moments before birth (“partial-birth abortion”) it’s non-existent. Yes, the questions about ending a pregnancy get tougher and tougher the further into term you get, but the questions belong to the women and their physicians—not a pack of church clowns.

I will say right now that I’m not attacking Catholics—the majority of Catholics in America are as appalled by the abortion ban as you and me, and even the Vatican doesn’t support the efforts of Opus Dei to overthrow secular regimes. It’s nearly impossible to tell where the truth about Opus Dei begins and where it simply becomes just another conspiracy theory, but I’ll note that four of the five justices that support this decision have been linked to this movement, and whatever else it might be, it is openly dominionist, believing that god has primacy over American law.

But then, Alito and his Opus Dei fellows on the Court have little or no interest in the Law—either biblical or constitutional. This is meant as nothing more than a power grab by a small but extremist group of church members who want to wrest rights from the people.

So Alito has based his ruling on a fantastically dangerous basis: that people have no constitutional right to privacy because that right is not “enumerated” in the Bill of Rights. The man has apparently decided to just blow off the ninth amendment, which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Privacy is a pretty vital one, since without it, there is no possibility of a life without government surveillance, or to make any important personal decisions without government involvement. A lot of people have noted a long list of penumbral rights that will die along with abortion, such as contraception, choice of marriage partners, or even who you can live with.

This decision isn’t based on morality or the law. It is simply a power grab by a small group of Christian fascists, a coup against America.

Fight it forcefully but peacefully now, because that option won’t remain if these people consolidate their power grab.

Incidentally I based some of this on a page (link below) I found the other day when the story of the Alito case broke. It is a simple text file detailing similar data about the bible and abortion as this piece does. I posted a link to it on Twitter, and the post was rejected out of hand because the link, they claimed, “led to harmful content.” The content isn’t harmful—just controversial. But it makes for an interesting preview of how such information might be suppressed if these religious nuts take over. Oh, and I defied Twitter by posting the address with the word “dot” substituted for the period. As of yesterday it was still up. Here is the real link: https://reverbpress.com/religion/bible-supports-abortion/

We have a final battle for our rights and freedoms, and the existence of America as something much more than just another grubby, corrupt theocracy.

 

 

Wading In — Compromised Court weighs Roe Vs. Wade

Wading In

Compromised Court weighs Roe Vs. Wade

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 1st, 2021

Listening to the arguments this morning at the Supreme Court in the matter of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case on whether the state of Mississippi can ban abortion at 15 weeks gestation:

Right wingers are frantically seeking justification for striking down Roe Vs. Wade, the seminal and oft-upheld abortion ruling that gives women access to abortion.

Roberts wants to know if anyone is hurt by pushing viability back from 24 weeks to 15 weeks. An embryo isn’t even remotely viable at 15 weeks, making Roberts’ proposed definition an utter joke. Kavanaugh wants to punt, saying in effect, the Supreme Court has nothing to do with rights and the states should decide that sort of garbage. (Yeah, this clown is on the Supreme Court.)

Amy Coney Barrett wanted to know if invalidating a woman’s right to an abortion would invalidate other “rights” like birth control. That’s a bit like asking if a law forbidding Moslems from voting would affect the rights of Jews or Catholics to vote.

And then there’s Slappy.

Thomas asked Rikelman, attorney for Jackson, to identify the constitutional right that protects abortion. “Is it privacy? Autonomy? What would it be?”
“It’s liberty,”Rikelman replied. “It’s the textual protection in the 14th Amendment that the state can’t deny someone liberty without the due process of law.” Ouch. Slappy the lawn ornament got slapped.

Attorneys for Dobbs are trying to handwave the concept of “undue burden” away, saying it’s impossible to define and difficult to enforce. Never mind that the concept enters into nearly all court decisions regarding access to and exercise of personal rights. Remove that concept, and there’s no reason why a county can’t charge people $100,000 to file a property damage suit. See how simple it is?

It seems likely that the Court will strike down Roe Vs. Wade. They’ll bend over backward trying to pretend it isn’t a religious issue (it is) and not even remotely secular.

Sonia Sotomayor asked of the attorney for Dobbs, “How is your interest anything but a religious view? It’s debated in religions, so when you say this is the only right that takes away from the start the ability to protect the life, that’s a religious view isn’t it? Where does the life of a woman and putting her life at risk enter the calculus?”

The court will have to trash dozens of decisions and overrule the wishes of the American people (Attorney for Dobbs is arguing that abortion is “injurious to democracy”!) in order to make this potential ruling stand.

Sonia Sotomayor said, “Fifteen justices over 30 years have reaffirmed that basic viability line,” she said, alluding to how Roe v Wade has been upheld since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision.

Four have said no, two of them members of this court. But fifteen justices have said yes, of varying political background.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, this house bill in Mississippi, are saying, ‘We’re doing this because we have new justices on the supreme court’. Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

Sotomayor continued with the question: “If people believe it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?”

Answer: it won’t. People will know the court has been hopelessly corrupted by a fascist president and his theocratic supporters. An institution designed to uphold the Constitution will now willfully disregard the same document because they are Dominionists and put their vicious and cruel religious opinions ahead of the rights the Constitution is meant to protect.

You may be in a place like California or New York and think to yourself, “Well, the state government isn’t going to strike down abortion,” and you might be right. But the god-struck minions of the anti-choice movement aren’t going to stand for abortion being allowed anywhere in what they see as their country that they run on behalf of Jesus. Kavanaugh maybe be nattering about states’ rights now, but he’s as intellectually and ethically vacuous as any Republican representative. He won’t hesitate to argue that the federal law overrules all state laws as soon as there’s a federal law to uphold. And 34% of the most conservative of all states control the Senate, 42% the vote would make the House Republican.

In the meantime, I expect a vast underground railroad to form, similar to the one that helped emancipate hundreds of thousands of slaves from the cruel authoritarianism of slave owners, and for much the same reason. It will uphold the human right of women to have control over their bodies and not be forced into having a child they do not wish to have. You think the Blob Squad won’t see that as an intolerable state of affairs?

I will do anything I can to support such an underground railroad, and urge everyone to put human rights ahead of cruel and unjust laws. Fuck the Dominionists, and fuck their vicious and authoritarian moral posturing. They have no right.

And the Court, more and more, will find itself shouting from within the vacuum it is about to put itself in.

Gods and Governments — Religious and Secular mixed rule is always toxic

Gods and Governments

Religious and Secular mixed rule is always toxic

October 10th 2021

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

One sentiment you hear from religious fundamentalists in the United States is something along the lines of “God should be the government” It’s nothing new; religions have always sought to gain political and economic power and influence, and there are hundreds of examples throughout history where they have succeeded in doing that. These political cultures are broadly referred to as theocracies.

Usually in such a regime there is a religious hierarchy that interprets divine will (which is always most obliging to their wants and needs) and then passes edicts on to a secular authority who do the dirty work—mostly in the form of executing, banning, or enslaving.

Ancient Egypt is an example that is well known, as is China. The Byzantine Empire was an uneasy and often bloody power-sharing arrangement between the government of Rome and the Catholic Church. Most European countries had similar arrangements, leading to civil wars, pogroms, and the occasional genocide.

Edward the Second threw the Jews out of England, and those slow to leave learned to their regret that England was on an island.

King Henry VIII had 983 senior clerics killed as part of his drive to replace the Catholic Church with his own brand.

Elizabeth 1 killed thousands of Catholics in England, and in Ireland a million and a half Catholics died from cruel English policies based in large measure on the idea that idolaters should not be countenanced.

Adolph Hitler had Catholic support during his rise to power, but the relationship went sour and Hitler, too, sought to replace Catholicism with his own peculiar blend of Nordic mysticism, Christianity, and “racial science.”

The Test Acts codified prejudice against all non-Protestants in England. It’s still against the law in England for a Catholic to be Prime Minister, although since Tony Blair that law only gets lip service.

Pure theocracies in Europe are fairly rare: Münster and Zurich are the only well-known examples, and both rapidly turned into cults and collapsed.

Modern theocracies are mostly limited to the middle east these days: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and to an extent, Israel.

America was founded on the notion that keeping religious and secular power separate was the key to avoiding religious strife (nearly all the Founders had ancestors who, within the past 300 years, had been imprisoned or executed for religious reasons) and to a certain degree, that has been successful.

The first Christian-based religious strife in North America came when Protestants came to America seeking freedom of religion. No, not the Puritans—the French Huguenot, who settled in Florida, then a Spanish colony. The Spanish were unamused by the infestation of heretics, and proceeded to wipe the colony out.

While the founders wanted to end religious persecution (the Constitution explicitly bans Test Acts), the Protestant majority brought with them the attitudes and prejudices of the mother lands. Despite the noble intentions of the Constitution, many states actually had Test Acts in their laws, forbidding Catholics, Jews, or other unbelievers from holding office, or even owning property. I’m told that in six states, atheists legally cannot hold office to this day. Some communities mandated church attendance for all well into the 19th century.

Much of the genocide of native peoples was met with anything ranging from indifference to beaming approval by church authorities. “Godless heathen” very nearly became one word.

However, the anti-Catholic practices of England and other lands ironically made it harder to discriminate against Catholics in America because of the huge influx of refugees seeking freedom in America. By the twentieth century Catholicism was the biggest single Christian sect in America.

But it would be a mistake to think religious oppression—both oppressor and oppressed—ended there.

Catholics in Boston had to violently riot for the right to have their own schools—and were met by rioting Protestants who didn’t want to allow such a thing. Their Lord’s Prayer was the one true Lord’s Prayer, and people who didn’t accept that should not be allowed to teach their children.

But compared to Europe, America got off lightly (except for the aforementioned Godless Heathens, of course). Even as Churches in Europe lost direct control of secular governments—a long bloody process in itself—most European conflicts remained thinly disguised religious disputations.

The only way a society can be free is by holding religion at at least arm’s length from the centers of power. The Founders understood this all too well. They knew something about governments “run by God”–such governments are cruel, repressive, and deeply antipathetic to the notions of independent thought and individual freedom. One only need read the Bible, or the Talmud, or the Q’uran to see how deep this antipathy goes. How long can dissent last in a form of government where the Law says dissent should be punished by death? Well, you can find an answer for that with Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

All theocracies are viciously repressive. All require a steady stream of executions and terror to force compliance from the flock, formerly known as the electorate. Holy Books don’t discuss liberty, or freedom to disagree. They instead give lessons on disemboweling non-believers or forcing abortions on unfaithful women (Numbers 11, look it up). There has never been a theocracy that was multicultural, enlightened, or particularly literate. Ever. And it won’t start with the Christians Dominionists and Falangists of present day America.

The last thing anyone wants, or needs is ‘government under God.’ If someone could figure out a way to ask God, they would probably find he was pretty much against the idea himself. He has enough smiting to do as it is.

Americuh — Means exactly what you want it to mean

Americuh

Means exactly what you want it to mean

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

September 18th 2021

Kristi Noem, the religious loop that is the more-or-less governor of South Dakota, opposes even allowing children to wear masks at school to prevent spread of COVID. She does, however, want to force them to pray. There isn’t a single documented case of prayer preventing, let alone curing COVID. But Noem figures that this is America, and so she can uphold the rights of the governed by making them perform useless genuflections as they sicken and die. Children in particular, because Jesus was an American.

Right wingers love Americuh. Ask them what they love about America, and if they don’t violently attack you for having the effrontery to even ask the question, will rhapsodize about god and the flag and Ronald Reagan. Some will mention Donald Trump, and at that point you might as well walk away, because nothing sane or non-sickening is going to follow.

There actually was a poll a few years back that asked “What do you love most about America?” Most of the answers seem to have come from people who have seen too many truck ads. “Sunsets” “Good dogs” (Good dogs?) “Fields of grain” “Endless highways.” Some seem to think America is a conglomeration of fast food joints: “hot dogs” “hamburgers” “barbeques.” Others tie their national identity to pro sports. “Football.” “Basketball” “Baseball” “Hockey.” Yeah, that last one is mostly Canadian, but these people see Canada as a suburb of Minnesota where the snow ploughs empty their loads in the winter. Music will provoke distinctly American responses: jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal, but usually not r&b, hip-hop or swing. Great literature gets mentioned: Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, at least before he turned Nazi and worse, African American. The Jury is still out on Superman, who arrived here without a green card, and Wee Hughie and Butcher don’t sound like they’re from around here, do they?

Basically, Americuh is just a symbol. A coalition of vacuous gases, an empty shibboleth upon which any meaning or emotion may be imposed. In other words, just like Jesus, the flag, or cat facial expressions. It just sits there looking pretty to the beholder because it is the projection of what the beholder deems to be pretty.

While this sort of goofy, mawkish type of pseudo-patriotism isn’t limited to the right, the right have used it for a sleight of hand that dates back in its present form to the McCarthy era, and in a darker form to the earliest days of the Republic.

You see, they have a little secret: they love America till the cows come home. (Cows are Americuh, too. Moo!) Love, love, love, just caint git enuff of thet Americuh!

But they hate the United States. It showed up in that poll I mentioned. All the stuff people loved about America, but you had to scroll down a long way, far down into the single digits, before you started seeing things like “Bill of Rights”; “The Constitution”; separation of church and state; voting; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; or rule of law. The stuff that made the United States unique to begin with, the things many other countries since 1789 have emulated. Some of them didn’t even get listed.

If you point this out to a right winger, most will indignantly deny it. In fairness, many will be sincere. Most sane conservatives respect and adhere to the Constitution and understand that it, not religions or corporations or good dogs, is the moral, legal, and foundational underpinning of the United States of America.

But to many right wingers, even though they can’t say so out loud, the Constitution is the enemy of what they stand for (that great nebulosity, Americuh). The Constitution is government. The Constitution is rule of law. The Constitution is civil rights for all. The Constitution recognizes obligations just as it recognizes rights. It is a profoundly liberal document.

It also represents the strong desire of the Founders to keep churches out of the government, and in return, governments out of the churches. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, held his proudest accomplishment the separation of church and state in his Constitution for the State of Virginia. He, along with most of those who wrote the Constitution, understood the horrors of theocracies and theocrats, and resolved to never let it happen here. They didn’t want a country under god or any other imaginary religious symbol. They respected the rights of people to believe, but assigned no right to impose their beliefs on others. The Constitution, in language that exempts it from any amendment, forbids religious tests for any position of public trust.

To the far right and the MAGAts and that crowd, the United States is the enemy of all they hold near and dear. It doesn’t let them subjugate minorities or non-believers and justify their stances by turning the terms oppression and oppressed on their heads, inverting their meaning.

That explains how the people who want to tear down the democracy—the Trumpenproletariat, the Religious Freaks, and the neo-Nazis—can all do what they can to destroy the United States, but wave flags and bibles (Stars and Bars alongside Stars and Stripes, no less!), and simultaneously proclaim they are patriots because they “luv Americuh.” They love a largely mindless symbol and hate the reality.

It allows them to wave flags as they try to destroy the country.

Kristi Noem doesn’t want to “impose” social efforts to protect children (which the constitution strongly stands for) but she does want to impose her trashy little religion. She is the epitome of the far right, the lost Americans who threw away their social and historical background to live in a truck commercial.

The Bottom Forty — Vonnegut’s bastard children arise

The Bottom Forty

Vonnegut’s bastard children arise

July 14th 2021

Over 40% of new COVID cases this past week erupted in just two states: Florida and Texas. There were 903,471 new cases nationally, including 155,000 just yesterday. That means those two states alone made up some 360,000 new cases. Fifteen percent of the population, forty percent of cases.

Normally a disparity like that would have statisticians scrambling for answers. Sometimes the answer is evident: Maine and Wisconsin have far more cases of frostbite per capita than all of the South. Sometimes they are obscure (‘cancer towns’ which sometimes result from industries that closed a century earlier). But the most mysterious thing about the high rate of infections in Florida and Texas is that it isn’t mysterious at all.

It’s part of actions by state leaders in both state that range, at best, from feckless to at worst deliberate reckless endangerment resulting in multiple deaths. The governors of both states not only are anti-vaccination and anti-mask, but are pushing policies to prevent schools, towns, and even hospitals from requiring masks and vaccinations.

Sociologists and mob psychologists are going to be studying this for years. There’s many cases of a few individuals leading a society going mad and engaging in policies that harm or even destroy the societies they lead. Three major examples from the twentieth century would be Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, and Mao in China. And there are far too many examples of leaders exhorting the mob to rise up and commit genocide against minorities in their own lands or adjacent. Cambodia, Rwanda, and Turkey all come to mind.

But in this case, Florida and Texas, you have mad leaders exhorting their followers to effectively commit genocide against themselves.

The followers don’t see it quite that way, of course. They have been convinced that COVID doesn’t exist or is no worse than a bad cold. Remember, this is a society where 10% of population believes the Earth is a flat disk, 40% believe in angels, and 75% think Windows is the best possible operating system to have on their computers. Ignorance is praised and expertise questioned, and it’s easy to persuade large groups of people that hidden knowledge, especially knowledge hidden for sinister purposes by malign cabals, is the best type of knowledge to have, and negates the open world of realization accrued through hard work and serious study.

Isaac Asimov, no stranger to the concept of societies gone mad, once observed that societal decay was inevitable when ignorance and knowledge were seen as being roughly equally worthy of respect. Certainly the United States has a long history of that. For example, we are supposed to treat biblical literalism with the same respect that we are the fields of biology, botany, geology and physics. Despite the fact that on the face of it, bible literalism is utterly preposterous.

Americans tend to be suckers for oblique concepts that don’t bear close examination. Christians endlessly witnessing for their faiths think they are earning Jesus brownie points even though the bible itself frowns on ostentatious displays of false piety. Americans aren’t alone in rallying to the cause of “freedom!” but it gets carried to weird extremes here, where one has the ‘freedom’ to refuse to take any measures at all to protect the health or others, or even permit others to take reasonable measures to protect their own health. This madness seems to have peaked with the governors of Florida and Texas passing rules forbidding schools from requiring masks, or even reporting cases of COVID outbreak amongst their students and staff. At least, let’s hope that’s the peak. It’s the same sort of madness we used to mock in the Soviet Union, where it was a crime (Anti-Soviet Agitation) to say that a state-run automobile was a rattletrap (they were) or admit that tractor production was below the goals of a five-year plan. You could be punished for that, just as in Florida or Texas you can be punished for admitting a potentially deadly disease is sweeping through a class full of children.

At some point this sort of madness implodes. That’s the good news. The bad news is that sometimes a great deal of damage is done before the implosion happens, and a normal part of the course of this mental infection is that the rule becomes more and more authoritarian in an effort to sustain the evident absurdities. In some cases, such as Hitler’s Germany or the Soviet Union, it required the collapse and near destruction of the society. In Turkey and China, it was just sheer exhaustion from the body count. There’s rarely a desirable outcome to this madness.

Kurt Vonnegut observed that the greatest danger humanity held for itself was bad ideas. While he was hopeful, convinced that in most cases the bulk of humanity could avoid the infection and carry on and even help those who were infected, he had no illusions about the destructive nature of those bad ideas.

America’s current mania, an amalgamation of Trumpism, allowing the neo-nazi sick right out from under its rocks, and the love of conspiracy theories, has yet to run its course. It is possible that with the disease wildfiring through MAGA-infested parts of the country (my own very red county set a record for most new cases this week), the requisite death toll will be high enough to rein in the crazies—or kill them, either way is fine.

But remember that you’re far more likely to die from an idiotic idea than you are from common sense, and conduct yourself accordingly.

Day One — The Trial of Trump

Day One

The Trial of Trump

“You will not hear any member of the team representing former Pres. Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters,” — Bruce Castor, Junior. Defending Trump at the Senate trial.

“So go home. We love you. You’re very special.” — Trump, to those same rioters.

If the GOP had just 17 Senators with integrity, courage, and patriotism, Trump’s long criminal career would have died this morning. It remains to be seen if 1 in 3 Republicans has any personal decency left, but in the eyes of the public, the already deeply-unpopular ex-President took a fatal blow today.

The House managers prosecuting Trump began with a ten minute video of the riots, juxtaposed with Trump’s speech urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight to save our country.” If you’ve been in a cave and not seen it, you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtnBvOqEgbw&feature=youtu.be It’s extraordinary. It’s irrefutable proof of Trump’s complicity and guilt.

Jamie Raskin, leader of the House management team, followed it with what turned into a breaktakingly brilliant exposition of whether the trial was constitutional, and why it was so utterly necessary (diplomatically omitting the large possibility that a large majority of Republican Senators will rise to the absolute minimum of civic duty expected of every loyal citizen in this country) He began by saying, “You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution? That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

“President Trump may not know much about the Framers, but they knew a lot about him,” Raskin explained how the founders, Hamilton in particular, realized that democracy would inevitable produce corrupt fools and thieves. Hamilton wrote, “”When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” Trump’s impeachment team were dryly aware of it, with one quipping that he was going to warn the Senate that they stood to reap the whirlwind, a biblical allusion, but discovered the phrase had “already been taken.” It stood out as the only witty or clever thing the Trump representatives had to say today.

Another House management member, Joe Neguse, observed that not only was there precedent for impeaching officials after they had left office, but coined an arresting phrase that is sure to stick in the public mind: “The January Exception.” The premise is that if you can’t try officials for high crimes and misdemeanors committed in the waning days of their terms, then any official will feel free to commit such misdeeds and then just run out the clock, knowing that once out of office, they couldn’t be punished.

David Cicilline then noted that Trump was continuing to insist the election was stolen after the riots, showing an utter lack of remorse for the violence and damage done in his name. One of the most memorable moments in his presentation came when he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Every time I read that tweet, it chills me to the core. The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists.

Raskin then took over, recounting that the day before the assault on the Capitol, he had just buried his son. “the saddest day of my life.” Raskin had brought his young daughter with him to the Capitol to share her grief and loss, and after the frightening hours they were separated, told her, “it would not be like this again” when she returned.

Raskin, now crying, said his daughter told him, “Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.” It was one of the most profoundly moving moments I’ve ever seen in Congress. I was crying.

The Trump team seemed at a loss after that presentation. Bruce Castor argued that the trial was an attack on free speech, even though the trial is on incitement to riot, which has never been protected by the First Amendment. He made the truly bizarre statement that if the Senate really felt Trump had done that, they should arrest him. Something the Senate isn’t empowered to do. All they can do is try him—which Castor seemed to think was overstepping. His presentation was a bit of a mess, really. He reminded me of nothing so much as a schoolboy giving a book report on a book he had not read. Only where a kid might have to figure out how Captain Ahab met with a fishing accident for five minutes, Castor had to drone on for a full hour with nothing to say, which he said, over and over. Even Alan Dershowitz, a master of barristeric obfuscation, couldn’t make head nor tails of what Castor was saying. There’s an unconfirmed report that Trump, watching from Mir-A-Lago, was screaming in impotent rage at his performance. Rage and fear look good on the face of Donald J. Trump.

David Schoen then took the floor, arguing that convicting Trump would not unify the country, but could even lead to civil war. Apparently someone forgot to tell him that many of the clowns attacking the Capitol wore T-Shirts that said “Civil War II: January 6th, 2021”. He then proceeded to flat-out lie, saying that Nancy Pelosi had demanded the trial take place after Trump left office. I would have loved to see the expression on Mitch McConnell’s face when he said that.

Schoen, an observant Jew, had brought his religion to the forefront already, first demanding that the trial be recessed on Friday for his Sabbath, and when the Senate acceded, bizarrely backtracked and said it was ok to have the Friday session. During the session today, he put his hand on his head when sipping from a glass of water, observing his belief that the head must be covered when drinking. Normally it wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but combined with the weird backtracking and his performance today, it probably left a lot of Jews in the country wishing he hadn’t made his Judaism such a prominent feature in a trial that is bound to put him in a bad light.

He tried claiming the assault was a hoax, made by Hollywood to put Trump in a negative light. No, really.

Castor returned, continuing a policy of trying to defuse the interest in the case by being as soporifically incoherent as possible.

It was the most one-sided set of opening arguments since Godzilla vs. Bambi.

Donald Trump may be the defendant, but it’s the GOP who are really on trial.

Today did them no favors.

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