Saturday, September 02, 2023

Steeled for Stealing

Last night, I had -- well, epiphany is probably too strong of a word. Crystallization, perhaps. A thought I already basically knew just became clearer in my mind. Namely: that the next time a major Republican candidate tries to overturn the results of an election, they're going garner a lot more support from the Republican establishment (in particular, the GOP judiciary).

Oddly enough, it was the 5th Circuit's latest ivermectin ruling that triggered the realization. Even at the start of the pandemic, we wouldn't see right-wing judges pulling stunts like this. The seals were still in place; it takes time for them to crack. But as they start to come undone, there's no backstop of legal or ethical duty to hold them in place.

Despite Trump's regular warnings (dating back to 2016) that he would not respect the results of an election that he lost, few in our political and legal elite really believed that he would go through with an overt plan to steal the election. Remember "What's the downside for humoring him?" It wasn't real until suddenly it was. And as a consequence, Republican elites hadn't really braced themselves to go all in for election theft. It's not just that it was too much, it was that it came too fast. They weren't ready.

But with time and distance, the Republican Party has come to assimilate Trump's actions as justified (same as they've done for every other one of Trump's abuses). Those who actually did unashamedly oppose Trump's actions have been ruthlessly purged from the party. Nascent momentum to support consequences for Trump during the second impeachment trial have entirely disappeared as far as the GOP is concerned. The unthinkable became thinkable, and Republicans have had four years to come up with clever rationalizations and apologias for why actually overturning democratic elections is fair play and What The Founders Would Have Wanted.

I've remarked before that GOP election theft attempts are akin to the carnival game where you swing a hammer and try to ring the bell. They weren't strong enough to ring it the first time. But they're getting stronger. It's not just that the next attempt will be less slap-dash and more well-organized (though it is that). It's also that the GOP has had time to mentally brace itself that stealing elections is appropriate, even necessary, and certainly just.

In 2020, virtually all GOP judicial actors refused to go along with Republican efforts to steal the election. Come 2024, I do not expect to see that unanimity anymore. They've steeled themselves for stealing, and next time they will come harder than before.

Friday, September 01, 2023

.... And Getting Worse Roundup

This will not be my cheeriest roundup. But there are a bunch of links burning a hole in my pocket, so here you go.

* * * *

Apropos yesterday's post on Fugitive Uterus Laws, a Washington Post article on similar efforts underway to set up checkpoint towns in Texas designed to capture any pregnant women who has designs on leaving the state for freedom.

North Carolina Republicans considering impeaching a state supreme court justice because she talked about racism. While I can't fault Slate for juxtaposing this against the undisclosed largesse heaped upon Justice Thomas, my mind more rapidly went to efforts in Wisconsin to impeach a state supreme court justice because she might vote for democracy.

A politically engaged fifteen year old kid asked a (not even that tough!) question that made Ron DeSantis uncomfortable on the campaign trail. So he sent his goons to rough him up.

You see, the real problem with the "War on Drugs" is that it's too metaphorical.

The latest Fifth Circuit crack-pottery: it's probably illegal for the FDA to tell humans they're not horses (yes, this is the latest conservative institution to burn its remaining dignity in defense of ivermectin conspiracies).

Georgia school district: saying the word "gay" around fifth graders is like graphically describing the horrors of the Holocaust to kindergarteners

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Are States Allowed To Trap Pregnant Women Inside Their Borders, Berlin Wall Style? Views Differ!

In his Dobbs concurrence, Justice Kavanaugh took pains to argue that even after the right to reproductive freedom was stripped from the constitution, it was still forbidden for "a State [to] bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion." It was a very, very small sop given to the predictable calamity the Court unleashed upon women of reproductive age, who were otherwise told in no uncertain terms that their body is not their own when the state has a different agenda for them.

But Justice Kavanaugh's opinion was not signed onto by any other justice. And, much like the question of whether states can murder pregnant women, views differ as to whether they can criminalize pregnant women leaving their borders. Right now, Alabama is in court arguing that it is entitled to criminally prosecute those who aid Alabama women in leaving the state to have an abortion. After all, if Alabama has a valid interest in forcing its women into labor, then surely it has an equally valid interest in thwarting those women who might try to escape their wardens and find freedom over their bodies in other states. The term Fugitive Uterus Act is absolutely fitting and appropriate, and the passage and enforcement of such laws is a top priority for the current Republican Party.

Justice Kavanaugh's concurrence notwithstanding, the entire point of Dobbs is that a woman's right to control her own body has zero constitutional significance. That said, if we take Justice Kavanaugh at his word (far from clear we should), and if Chief Justice Roberts goes along with him (far from clear he will), then maybe this is a bridge too far for the current Supreme Court. If, if, and maybe.

[Source for the above image]

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Another Case of Self-Inflicted BDS

Some of you are familiar with the "Deadly Exchange" allegation -- an effort by JVP and allied groups to block cross-training programs between Israeli and American police officers on the grounds that such programs really are just avenues for Israel to transmit brutality and oppression to their American counterparts. It's a signature campaign of the BDS movement, albeit one that -- like most BDS activities -- hasn't gotten much traction.

But today comes the news that Itamar Ben-Gvir, the notorious far-right racist who also happens to be Israel's National Security Minister, has taken it upon himself to bar Israeli police from partaking in programs run by the Wexner Foundation for Jewish Leadership. Wexner programs have hosted an array of significant figures in Israel's security establishment, but as is becoming increasingly passe they have come under predictable fire from the Israeli right upon allegations that they are a tool of leftist indoctrination and the ever-shadowy "deep state". So a ban was announced, and yet another screen of isolation falls upon the Israeli public vis-a-vis the outside world (and here, in particular, the Jewish diaspora world).

The Wexner programs are not, to be sure, exactly the sorts of police cross-training programs that "deadly exchange" targets. Nonetheless, this is yet another data point to the proposition that Israeli right is far more successful at actually instantiating a BDS regime than BDS activists ever have been.