Monday, June 27, 2022

They Will Always Have Their Children....

...and the products of their rape or incest (which is rape, isn't it? Why do we distinguish that? So it sounds worse?)

I found out yesterday Texas ranks 51st in mental health care availability (yes, 51st; below even D.C., which actually ranks fairly high).  Alternatively, Texas is 4th in number of mental health cases (second most populous state in the country, so, it figures).

So mental health care to curb kids buying guns and shooting up schools?  Twice what we do now will still be nothing, and I guarantee the Lege won't agree to double that budget item.

As for children born and put up for adoption/foster care, I wouldn't wish the Texas foster care/child protection system on my worst enemy.  It's a nightmare that should be shutdown as worse than the black hole of Calcutta (because it is), but then what do you do with the kids?  Actually, they might be better off homeless.  I am not kidding.

So while Elon Musk may love it, his female employees won't (I haven't heard Tesla offer to pay for abortion travel).  This could actually affect companies moving to southern states; again, I'm not kidding.  And while Texas touts low taxes, you don't get much for those low taxes.  But I expect we're going to have a lot more children flooding the foster care system real damned soon.

O brave new world that seems so strangely familiar.

It’s A Pity…๐ŸŽ…

…the J6 hearings haven’t presented “both sides” of the election fraud evidence so Brian Kilmeade could still believe in Santa Claus. ๐ŸŽ… 
Kilmeade added: "So he's convinced he was robbed. There's no doubt about it. But I have not seen any evidence and these are all incremental examples."

The Ron Burgundy Defense

...is never the one to reach for. What did her speech actually say? Because I don't see how that helps, either.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Leave The Room....

...miss the best moment of the show in years!

Ah, well, it wasn't that good a moment.  Still, you can see the little birds tweeting about Peggy's head, poor dear.  And this after AOC pointed out to Chuck Todd that too many Democratic office holders still think they can recover the GOP under LBJ or Nixon, when cooperation was actually possible.  Were these guys just in a cocoon for the Gingrich years?
Well, as long as we're on the subject....

And what's with all this "safety of the womb" all the sudden?  Freud would definitely diagnose infantilization, coupled with rapid regression.

We finish with another example of time as a flat circle:
Griwsold v Connecticut was decided 34 years later. And contrary to lay interpretations: ...it WAS about birth control. The Griswolds were married, but still not allowed to use the birth control of their choice in Connecticut. Rather like the Lovings, who couldn't be married in Virginia (despite the fact they were married in a state that DID allow mixed-race marriages. States' rights, y'all!).  I resist this urge to reduce legal cases to doctrines and principles and ignore the facts the bring a case to court.  Because courts don't make advisory opinions and don't rule on the controversy du jour.  They rule on facts involving parties (persons, businesses, states) and apply the applicable law to the facts presented.

One of the major problems with Dobbs, IMHLO, is that it abandons facts for fancy (the footnote about adoptions, the idea that "abortion is different" because it presents moral questions which, what, 5 conservative Catholics must decide for the rest of us?  How would we feel if 5 Jews decided law based on their morality?  5 Buddhists?  5 Muslims?  Anyway....), and supplants judicial doctrine with ideology.  Thomas' concurring opinion is solely about that.  He doesn't like "substantive due process," so let's wipe it from the books soonest, damn the consequences and the parties!  

Indeed, no one seems to have noticed Thomas is INVITING states to pass laws challenging Griswold and Obergefell and Lawrence (but don't you dare touch Loving!  Right, Clarence?).  Is that how we expect our Justices to act?  I guess it is, nobody seems too upset by that thought.  Overton legal window, bay-bee.....

Picture v. Thousand Words

More Pictures: Well, I mean! Have you ever known Trump to lie?!? Trump denied that conversation happened, either. Or he will.

If You Put It In Context

Blacks came back from WWII to the country they’d just fought for and found the same segregated country they’d left. And they weren’t having it.

Their example inspired the anti-war movement, the feminist revolution, gay rights, equality for everyone; and a small, determined group was not having it.

The example of freedom we once set for the world? Too much. Not acceptable. Done.

That’s the story today, at least. It’s really the same story, the same old story: cui bono? Thomas wants to overturn Griswold and Lawrence and Obergefell, because they don’t affect him. Loving should fall, too, if Obergefell does, but Thomas would be affected if mixed race marriages were criminalized again.

Cui bono?

Freedom is a zero sum game. The more you have, the less I do. Or rather, if you’re free, I’m not in control; and then I’m less free. So your freedom diminishes mine.

Cui bono?

Your freedom makes me free. The more freedom there is for you, the more there is for me. But I am bound to you, so the less freedom you have, the less I have. The more I restrict your freedom, the more I restrict mine, because I’m bound to restricting yours. This is the true state of affairs, because my freedom is diminished if I’m bound to controlling yours; especially if controlling yours is how I preserve mine.

The people of Ireland can vote for abortion rights; we are not so free. We vote for representatives who either don’t vote for the laws polls say most of us want, or won’t present a constitutional amendment to our legislatures, who probably wouldn’t approve it anyway. Remember the ERA? I do. It’s more than clear that would simply happen again.

Land of the free; for me, not for Thee. Home of the brave; who are afraid of what might happen when everyone is equally free.

Cui bono?

We become unrecognizable to the world, but remain recognizable to ourselves. After all, many of the “Founding Fathers” owned slaves. There’s a reason the same Court which considers racism a pernicious factor which renders any law unconstitutional, never handed down a ruling declaring slavery unconstitutional. Slavery involved property rights. The Court doesn’t mess with property rights. It took the 13th Amendment before the Courts began to be concerned with racism. But it took the Civil Rights movement to get their attention. Plessy came after the 13th Amendment.  That ruling ignored that amendment the way Shelby ignored the 15th.  The judicial doctrine that racism is a pernicious category didn’t begin before Brown overruled Plessy. But with the decline of the movement, the power of the doctrine declined, too. The Court protects property, and ideas; but not people. It’s a return to status quo.

Brown overruled Plessy 58 years late. Now Brown, 68 years old, is more honored in the breach than in the keeping. Plessy restricted freedom; Brown expanded it. But even today some think it expanded freedom for the wrong people. Brown established that racism is unconstitutional. But now we debate what “racism” is. Surely we’ve allowed enough people enough freedom under that banner. Giving them freedom gives up too much of our own.

Right?

Y'all remember the fights over "affirmative action"?  'Cause I do.

The other irony? (yes, we will note this a lot) “Racism” doesn’t appear in the Constitution, either. Which could mean we don’t have to rely on it to enact justice and overthrow unjust laws. Then again, especially under the Roberts court, we pretty much have stopped relying on it.  

Do we protect people? Or property and ideas? Except for ideas that affect them, and not us.

Pretty much where the fight is.  Pretty much where it's always been.

To Be Fair, They Were Blocking Access To The Donut Shop ๐Ÿฉ

Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’ve settled that question.

You’re not gonna like it…

Step Away From The Truck ๐Ÿ›ป

Given this, would there have been an anti-abortion movement anyway? Because the Falwell’s efforts were certainly anti-democratic and a response to court rulings; but those rulings weren’t Roe.

Notorious RBG is right about basing the case in privacy v. women’s rights. But that presumes the arguments she later successfully made would have found sympathetic ears in 1972. True, she was making those arguments at the time. Whether they would have prevailed in 1972 is an open question.

The first issue of “Ms. Magazine” was published in July of that year. Just sayin’.

And women’s rights? Where do we find that in the Constitution? Justice Alito is asking.

(Besides, her argument can be applied as well to Brown. Falwell was responding to the progeny of Brown. And the Roberts court has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act. Anti-democratic seems to have become the driving force of the court. So should we have waited?

In the 1970's Texas (briefly) had a legislature so progressive (and Democratic) it passed a consumer protection bill that was probably the most advanced in the country.  20 years later it was whittled away to a nubbin.  I don't think Roe had much to do with that, or the general trend towards conservatism in the states. Ronald Reagan was Governor of California! And a reminder: Roe and Lawrence and LBJ came out of Texas (the '70's legislation was the apogee of LBJ's influence here). But so did Shelby; and Texas had a far more restrictive trigger for the repeal of Roe than Mississippi. Texas is also the second most populous state in the country, with some of the worst voter suppression laws. How much of that was a response to Roe, and how much to the success of Ginsburg’s arguments? How do we know the dancer from the dance? I think reality trumps both RBG and Conway.)

And so on, and so on:

The "laboratories of democracy" have become the playgrounds of mad scientists with their “Junior Chemistry” sets.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ripples

A miscarriage, the doctor told me, is Nature’s way of saying “This time it won’t work.”

They are absolutely devastating to the people involved. Forcing them to go through the process and expense of a funeral is simply cruelty for its own sake.

And one guesses the poor people in the rural counties will be the ones hit by this. DA’s in urban counties won’t pursue this further infliction of pain.

But at least we aren’t misinterpreting the constitution anymore, right?

Don’t Try This At Home, Kids!

Let’s put that in context:
"I got a text message today saying I should seek to control men’s ejaculations and not women’s pregnancies ... I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen,” Lisonbee said.
It’s not a question of biology. It’s a question of who to hold responsible. Oh, and who to control.

Back The Truck Up

A bit of history, please:

KING: So opposition to abortion has become so associated with evangelical Christians that it seems like that's the way it was all along.

ABDELFATAH: No. In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention, they actually passed resolutions in 1971, 1974 and 1976 - after Roe v. Wade - affirming the idea that women should have access to abortion for a variety of reasons and that the government should play a limited role in that matter, which surprised us. The experts we talked to said white evangelicals at that time saw abortion as largely a Catholic issue.

KING: So if Roe v. Wade didn't cause the sea change, what did?

ABDELFATAH: In short, desegregation. Two years before Roe v. Wade, in 1971, there was a Supreme Court case that began to pull white evangelicals into politics. Me and my co-host, Ramtin Arablouei, dove into the story of that case, known as Green v. Connally.

ABDELFATAH: Segregation in public schools had been outlawed since 1954, but changes on the ground were really slow.

ABDELFATAH: ...And complicated.

LISA HARPER: White supremacy is threatened at the deepest level. It's an existential threat.

ABDELFATAH: This is Lisa Harper. She's written several books on Christianity, including "Left Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith In Politics."

RANDALL BALMER: In Holmes County, Miss., the first year of desegregation, the number of white students in the public schools decreased from 700-some to 28.

RAMTIN ARABLOUEI, BYLINE: This is religious historian Randall Balmer.

BALMER: The second year of desegregation, the number of white students in the public schools in Holmes County decreased to zero.

ABDELFATAH: So where were these white students going? Well, they enrolled in private so-called segregation academies run by evangelical leaders as tax-exempt religious schools.

BALMER: And a group of parents in Holmes County, Miss., said, this isn't right.

ABDELFATAH: And they won.

BALMER: And the gist of the decision was that any organization that engages in racial discrimination or racial segregation is not, by definition, a charitable institution. Therefore it has no claims on tax-exempt status.

ARABLOUEI: Many white evangelical leaders relied on those tax exemptions to operate their private, segregated schools in places like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia. And they felt entitled to those tax exemptions on religious grounds.

BALMER: The alarm begins to grow among various evangelical leaders, including Jerry Falwell, who of course had his own segregation academy in Lynchburg, Va.

ABDELFATAH: The name Jerry Falwell might sound familiar because he'd go on to become a leading figure of the religious right and one of the architects of the Moral Majority, a Republican political action group that would come to play an important role in American politics.

ARABLOUEI: Randall Balmer says the Green v. Connally loss mobilized a lot of evangelical leaders like Falwell.

HARPER: They lost the bid to protect white space once again.

ARABLOUEI: Around this time, a conservative political activist named Paul Weyrich was trying really hard to grow the Republican Party base.

PAUL WEYRICH: So many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo (ph) syndrome - good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by...

BALMER: And he's the person who understood electoral potential of white evangelicals. And he set out to mobilize them.

ARABLOUEI: The question was, how?

BALMER: Weyrich understood that racism - and let's call it what it is - was unlikely to be a galvanizing issue among grassroots evangelicals.

ABDELFATAH: So he needed to find another issue. At the time, evangelicals were concerned about all sorts of things - government overreach for one, and also social changes around roles of women, gay rights and free speech. Then in 1976, something unexpected happened.

ARABLOUEI: Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist evangelical and Sunday school teacher, was elected president of the United States. Yet even as Carter became the face of evangelicals, he quickly began to lose support among them.

BALMER: This is the great paradox surrounding Jimmy Carter and his career is that he's the person who begins to mobilize evangelical voters, or at least to awaken them about the political process. And then, of course, through the machinations of Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell and others, the same group of people turn radically against Jimmy Carter four years later.

ABDELFATAH: Carter didn't share a lot of their conservative views. So during Carter's presidency, Randall Balmer says that Weyrich continued searching for that holy grail of issues, the thing that had the potential to really unite evangelicals around the Republican Party. And in 1978, five years after Roe v. Wade, it finally hit him.

BALMER: I was reading through Weyrich's papers - midterm election, 1978 - and it's almost like the papers began to sizzle because Weyrich said, I found it; this is the issue that's going to work for us in order to mobilize grassroots evangelical voters.

ABDELFATAH: Abortion.

ARABLOUEI: Because while many evangelicals weren't initially all that bothered by Roe v. Wade, a few years on, the number of abortions had begun to climb, which made some evangelicals kind of uneasy. Weyrich saw that uneasiness as an opportunity.

ABDELFATAH: He teamed up with some prominent anti-abortion activists and helped amplify resistance to abortion among evangelicals. It worked. In 1979, the Moral Majority was formed. They threw their support behind Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. And Reagan won. This began the close relationship between the Republican Party and white evangelicals.

So a lot of "pro-lifers" weren't anti-abortion until it becamse a screen for being anti-integration; i.e., racists.

Of course, this is just delightfully revisionist: 

"Won the right way?" By relying on Russia to smear Hillary Clinton, and McConnell to deny Obama a nominee to the high court? By violence and intimidation at clinics? By manipulation via Paul Weyrich whose primary interest was voter suppression? Your piety is a whited sepulchre.

This Is Going To Be A Conversation

Is the word in the constitution, or not? If not, is that decisive? If not, why not?

(And yes, Conway is being obtuse. It’s not working. He’s stating the traditional interpretation. Stern is citing the new method established by Dobbs; even though the majority is trying to eat their cake and have it, too. Thomas is absolutely right; you can’t undo Roe without undoing Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Or Loving for that matter. Funny how Thomas doesn’t want to undo that one.)

In my feckless days (I still don’t have any fecks…), I knew lawyers I respected who didn’t mind the results of Roe, but they were highly critical of the reasoning.

I wonder what they think of the Dobbs opinion.
Another conversation entirely.

5-4

Which kinda kills the satire. But so does this: Meanwhile, Promises Made: 83. In 50 states. There are 254 counties in Texas alone, the second most populous state in the country. Each of those counties has a DA who would be the official to  bring criminal charges under the new abortion law. 5, at least, are part of that 83. But they could all be replaced with DA’s who would prosecute cases in which limitations haven’t run.

Even if you live in one of those 5 counties, do ya feel lucky? Does your doctor?
Weird way to talk about the 2nd Amendment.

Clarity

Except from guns; because, you know: Constitution. Caught the car, didja?

Friday, June 24, 2022

From Conception Hell

"From conception” means no in-vitro fertilization.

Once fertilized, the eggs would have to be implanted. Any not implanted =abortion. Any that don’t implant? Well….

Which doctor wants to be that test case? Or test the resolve of the urban counties DA’s in Texas pledged not to bring criminal cases? Especially since elections can change that before limitations runs.
Actually, yes.

Days Like Yesterday Provide Too Much Material

Meanwhile, Republicans in disarray:

J6 Hearings Impact

Longwell tells Goldberg that even though none of her participants are watching the hearings, information from them is nonetheless reaching them and reminding them of the massive amount of baggage that Trump would bring to a potential rematch with President Joe Biden in 2024. 
"It is plausible that part of what the Jan. 6 hearings are doing is just creating more of that reminder that Trump is a lot to have to defend, a lot to deal with," Longwell explains.

Breaking: Everything

The REAL issue. Gee, I wonder why: "To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go." Too bad our only national election is for POTUS. And we flubbed that one, too.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was more succinct about the impact of the ruling and simply said, "People are going to die because of this."

To quote the response of Moriarty from the Frumious Bandersnatch Sherlock Holmes series when Holmes says almost the same to Moriarty:  

"THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO!"

And yes, I am comparing the Supreme Court to the most notorious villain in the entire Holmes ouevre, and so one of the most notorious villians in literature. 

The Constitution does not protect people.  It protects things and ideas (barely), but not people.  The 2nd Amendment now, per the Supremes (Thomas, again) protects guns over public safety (i.e., the safety of people).  Ideas ("mah gun! may freedumb!") over people. The "substantive due process" cases Thomas wants to overturn all date from the Warren Court forward.  The rulings he complains of are the rulings that protect people.  Shelby shredded the Voting Rights Act because, in the wake of the Civil War, the country moved to make the Constitution protect people. The VRA enacted the provisions of the 15th Amendment; but that protected people (almost 100 years later), and so it was a bridge too far in restricting states rights.  States are sovereign; people are...obstacles. 

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, the middle of the triad of post-Civil War Amendments. And yet John Eastman won Trump's heart by arguing that is a false concept (goodbye, Obama!).  What is radical now will become commonplace soon.  Brown v. Board, Obergefell, Loving (funny Thomas leaves that one out of his litany!), Griswold:  all extending constitutional protections to people.

And we can't have that, can we?

Lochner, here we come!

Black Letter Day: "A Day That Will Live In Infamy"

The Court giveth and the Court taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Court.

Also worth noting Clarence Thomas seems, at long last, to have found his voice.  A number of recent opinions were written by Thomas, more than the rest combined in his years on the Court.  And now?

Now he's just saying the quiet part out loud: Now he's finally with his peeps in his hood.
It doesn't exacly fit on a bumper sticker, but expect that to resonate in November. Fuck around and find out. Thanks, Susan Sarandon!  This one's for you!

Everything New Is Old Again

Weasels

“Treason Doth Never Prosper. What’s The Reason?

"For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Trump and Clarke figured they’d win and Trump’s DOJ wouldn’t prosecute the felonies against Trump, and Trump could pardon Clarke (unless he didn’t).

So why not?

It was the problem of mass resignations that bothered him. Because he wasn’t protected against that. 

It’s perfectly reasonable when you see it from his perfectly unreasonable point of view.

Not that everyone had that point of view.
Fear of prosecution has a way of making one focus on protection, even survival.

Everytime I Think It's Bad Here...


We have had our own versions of this in New Hampshire. A small town Croydon, with a population of 800, a school age population of 80 ha a school budget vote this spring. Being small town New England, the budget was voted on at a town meeting. It snowed that evening, and a small group of self identified libertarians pushed the actual vote until after 11 pm by deliberately prolonging the meeting. An amendment was proposed to cut the school budget by 55%, to $800k. The amendment passed 20 to 14. Needless to say, the next morning there was outrage when everyone else found out what had happened. Turned out the man that advanced the amendment was the husband of a school board member, and she knew of the plan. At the next school board meeting she was confronted by parents that demanded she resign. Her answer was, I am not on this board for your children, I am on this board for the taxpayers. 

Under state law, the board had to make a plan to meet the budget. The town has an elementary school, and tuitions the older students to surrounding public schools systems. The elementary teachers were all to be fired. A private company was hired to run the school. The kids were to be put into 4 "pods" for learning, but the company refused to say if the teachers would be certified. Much of the learning would be online (and we know how well that worked out during the pandemic). The older children's families would get $9,000 for tuition (School vouchers! Maybe not such a good idea). The surrounding towns however had been charging $18-21K per student. There supposedly was one private school in the area that would accept the $9k but they never said where (I am guessing some religious school). 

The rest of the town rallied. Under state law the budget could be increased, but it required the vote of more than half the voters on the rolls (a term of art for voters registered as of the time the new vote was called). Given the town is run by town meeting, that meant getting more than half of the voters to the same place, at the same time for a meeting. 51 new voters were registered by the parents (the town register quit because she wanted the school cut and was refusing to register the new voters until forced by the state), and on a Saturday they were able to get 320 voters together to vote 318 for, and 2 against the original budget (the no vote decided not showing up was better since that could deny the 50% of voters needed). 

Closer to home, our town elected a few conservatives to the school board. One in particular ran on the issue of the high school music teacher being put on paid leave during an investigation into an accusation of improper contact with a student at previous school. The then current school board and superintendent were attacked for having reported the incident when the superintendent became aware of the accusation (reporting is required under state law) and for putting the teacher on leave (also required under state law). The only thing the board and superintendent could say was it was a personnel matter that they could not comment on. Our superintendent eventually left. The new board members "were going to fix this". There were many posts in the local social media groups on the subject. Then it was announced by the state, that the accused teacher was turning in the their teaching license, which ended the investigation (and also the teacher's paid leave, and no future job without a license). Suddenly all the critics fell silent. As one person posted right after the election, while you got yourselves elected on this controversy, now you are accountable and responsible for the schools and their real problems (there was also a failed bond issue for a new elementary schools and rehab of the middle and high schools that are all in disrepair. NH gives zero money to towns for school facilities.) There has been almost nothing in the news about the current school board. They have their hands full and I suspect the new members are realizing that they can't walk away from addressing the actual issues. 

(I know I'm repeating myself, but I have no tolerance for stupidity or willlful ignorance.)

The local board here has been busy (not yet even a month in office) not addressing the actual issues of the schools.  There is a lawsuit to force the district into single-member districts for the board, which the new members ran strenously against (it's up to a federal judge, there's nothing they can do about it).  One of the more perceptive critics of the board, in public comments at the last meeting, pointed out they were creating single-member districts de facto by representing the interests of only those who had elected them (Basically their objection is that rich white folk will lose power to the poorer brown and black people, so "single member districts" are fine so long as they run the district.)

This board is a confederacy of dunces.  The bookstore I mentioned is one I've worked for; the owner is a friend.  Cancelling her contract for no reason other than "we don't like your politics" or the books on her shelves (none of the three could probably find her store with a map and GPS), is actually a breach of contract action waiting to happen.  The bookstore won't do it, but some vendor will, and the district will face lawsuits it shouldn't face at all.

Most of the work of administering the school, under Texas law, rests with the Superintendent and the administrative staff.  They do the work of preparing a curriculum plan, for example; work that can take months and involve the inclusion of several interested groups.  These three members want to toss out that work (already done and approved by the last board) and replace it with their own, by the end of the summer.

Speaking of summer, they fail to understand that because schools are out, work doesn't need to be done now to prepare for return to class in August.  They have voted to suspend purchasing books for libraries and classrooms (excluding textbooks), until further notice.  This means students will return to libraries and classrooms without the books teachers need for classes.  But it's summer, right?  Nothing important happens at schools in the summer, right?

In the meantime they have to have a specially called meeting this Monday because the new member/VP of the board had to sub in as moderator of the last meeting, and ran roughshod over board policy on how to conduct the meeting and call votes.  Being a board meeting, they will have to have time for public comment.  I wonder how many people from the last meeting will show up to ask why the Board screwed the pooch so badly they have to clean up their mess?  That could almost be entertaining.

If I wouldn't embarass my wife (who works for the Superintendent), I'd go to the meeting and ask why it this meeting was necessary, why the Board is so determined to wreak havoc rather than learn how the district works, and why it is so determined to place the District in the gunsights of breach of contract suits.  These are hardly the acts of Trustees who are expected to put the interests of the district above their own interests and ideologies.

Ah, I can dream....

Thursday, June 23, 2022

In The Words Of Lyndon Johnson…

"I wanna see’em deny it!”

Things I Missed Because I Can’t Pay Attention To This All Day

The bubble's bubble's bubble. See? No shit. Oh, shit. Right again, Professor! One could be lead to that conclusion.

Matt Gaetz wanted a pardon. The connection was to the election film-flam, but the pardon was described as “going back to the beginning of time.” Gee, why would Gaetz want that? (I’m not even sure the film-flam was Gary’s’ primary concern, but more a convenient conveyance to his real goal.)
I always find out what we’re doing when it’s already too late!*


*(To be honest, if I’m around and pardons are being passed out like party favors, I’ll take one. I’ve seen the state go after people, and guilt and innocence are concepts, not concrete realities. I’ll also plead the 5th to keep from being convicted of a crime out of my own mouth. There are better reasons to judge these people and find them wanting.)

SOP For Thee, But Not For Me

The new era of criminalizing politics is worsening in the US," Vought tweeted. "Yesterday more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark’s house in a pre dawn raid, put him in the streets in his pjs, and took his electronic devices."
I’ll even agree FBI searches can be embarrassing to the subjects; but I rarely hear prominent white men complaining when non-prominent white men, or non-white persons, are treated this way.

And by the way:
"All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud," Vought wrote. "This is not America, folks. The weaponization of govt must end. Let me be very clear. We stand by Jeff and so must all patriots in this country."
That’s not what I just heard in the J6 hearing, where several lawyers contemporaneously told Clark his plans to give the President what he wanted amounted to criminal acts. This is (part) of what I heard: So…

This Caption Is True

And it's always going to be true.

Democratic governance is not self-actualizing.  It is not self-regulating.  It does not enforce itself despite the best efforts of the citizenry to thwart the rule of law. There is no power outside of we, the people, that will keep democratic governance the law of our land.  It prevails only because the people will it to do so.

In 2020 the courts denied Trump the victory he couldn't win at the ballot box.  Employees of the Justice Department, some of them hand-picked by Trump, refused to back his schemes to defraud the government and force his victory on Congress on January 6th.  Had Mike Pence declared the ballots suspect and demanded a halt to the Joint Session, both the House and Senate would have had to agree.  If they had, and the Court had intervened to say in effect "it doesn't work that way," and the House and Senate had said "Oh, yeah?  Sez who?", then we would have had a true crisis in governance.

But that didn't happen; and it wasn't likely to happen.  Because at that point even the goverance of Congress over the nation would have been seen as illegitimate.  And as much as Republicans since Gingrich love to rail against the federal government, a/k/a "Big Government," a/k/a "The Deep State." they don't want to see it collapse.  They just want to see it work for them.

What Donald Trump tried to do was to crash government into a brick wall.  He thought by doing that he could declare victory and remain in office rather than be shamed as a loser.  He never understood and still doesn't understand forcing his will on the government would destroy the very thing that gave him the public office he wanted so badly to win.

But many other people did.

So let's state it plainly, rather than in bizarre abstractions like "democracy."  Donald Trump sought to overthrow the government of the United States.  He thought by doing so he could keep as much of the government as he liked, which was the Oval Office and the office of President.  Just as his fraud arguments never made sense (if he was fraudulently denied victory, weren't all the victories on the ballot fraudulent, too?  How do you now throw out the baby with the bathwater in Trump's theories?  How does a court decide all votes were valid except those for Biden?), his arguments about how elections are conducted (which he no more understands than I truly understand how the 100 year old wind up clock on my desk works) were senseless, too.  He wanted to throw out whatever he didn't like, and keep the bits he did.  But it doesn't work that way.  Just like old adage that you can't be "a little bit pregnant," you can't declare war (effectively) on only the parts of the government (state and federal; he wanted state legislatures to back his play with new slates of electors) you think wronged you.

Donald Trump declared war on the governments of the United States.  Period.  End of discussion.  Not "democracy" or the idea of a "peaceful transfer of power," or on our political traditions going back to George Washington.  He declared war on government, so he could have things his way.  And that's what the J6 hearings are proving.

Neal Katyal this morning on MSNBC said the hearings are preparing the country to accept the prosecution of a former President for crimes against the state, against the country, against we, the people.  I think that sentiment and understanding are only going to grow.  And the genius of the J6 hearings is that they are not trying to prove Donald Trump was some kind of "existential threat" to a concept like "democracy."  They are proving he was a criminal who lied, cheated, and fabricated claims out of complete fantasies, all to cling to public office and the powers and responsiblities thereof, for as long as possible.  That's not an assault on an abstraction, that's an assault on we, the people.  That's an assault on how we govern ourselves and how we expect things to be done and on what we rely on to have stability in our daily lives. That is an act of war as fundamental as if an invader were rolling tanks through our streets and bombing our buildings from the air.

And frankly, it would be better if we started treating it that way.  Donald Trump and his motley band of rabid fools don't want our government, the government of we, the people.  They want their government, the government of them alone.  The courts are not giving that to them, and will not let them have it.  Government, our government, is stronger than its assailants.  We should stand strong on that awareness, and support it.

The Donald Trump School of Governancing Now At A School District Near You



This will take a bit of unpacking.

The local school district conducts a student survey every year to get an idea of how well the district is serving the students.  (No judgment here.  I grew up in the era of "bubble tests," most of which weren't tests conducted by the teacher, but questions we had to answer by filling in "bubbles" on pieces of paper.  I thought then it was preparation for SAT's, because I saw no other pedagogical value to it.  I'm sure it was some kind of assessment (at one point apparently they did mass IQ tests.  I saw my scores on that.  One summer I worked with a janitorial crew cleaning and waxing the linoleum floors of the schools.  I found my permanent record in the teacher's lounge of my high school.), but what was being assessed was never all that clear.  So it was stuff like that.  It was new, it was sciency, it was "modern," and the school district took to it like a dog to water.  Same as it ever was.)

The local school district has been doing this for years, and accumulated a record of results that helps guide curriculum decisions and other decisions about how to adjust/improve the district and educate the students.

Let me pause here to note this kind of work is the work of the full-time administrative staff.  I mean that in contrast to the work of the volunteer (unpaid) school board.  The latter's job is to guide, and be guided by, the administration.  To approve budgets prepared by staff, to approve bond proposals prepared by staff, to publicly praise and recognize notable student achievements as presented by staff.

You get the picture.

So the district has been conducting the student survey for many years, using one vendor to administer the survey and report the results to the administration.  There are several companies that offer this service, and all offer a battery of questions the district can choose from to craft a survey responsive to their needs and interests.  Just like cars, these questions are all pretty much the same across the several companies.  What varies is the questions a district chooses for its survey. So you want a black car, I want a white car; you want a care with leather seats, I prefer fabric.  Again, you get the picture.

Now come three new board members who haven't been on the board a month, and they don't like these survey questions.  Have they seen them?  No.  Do they know exactly what questions the district asks?  No.  But the contract is up for renewal, and they say:  "No."  Why?  Because they don't like the questions.  Yes, we are going in circles.  Have they seen the questions?  Somewhere, it seems, they have.  Most likely on a Facebook page or somewhere on the intertoobs.  Are those questions actually ones available from the vendor?  Who knows?  Are any of them the questions used by the district now?  Who knows?  No one but the three members knows what they are objecting to.

Most crucially:  are the questions any different from another vendor?  No.  Like I said, it's pretty much a matter of "cars are cars," as Paul Simon sang.  The questions are not fundamentally different from company to company.  But these members "don't like the questions."  'Nuff said, apparently.  Kill the contract.

A new survey cannot be conducted until next spring, at the earliest; that's if they will approve a new vendor (and probably they won't, because "they don't like the questions").  It will take about 2 years to build up enough of a data base to have useful responses to the surveys.  They will lose access to the data already accumulated (apparently it's proprietary). That's a lot of sunk cost.  That's a lot of value being tossed out the window on nothing more than a whim. This was explained to the board.  All of it.  Did the new members care?  No.  They know all they need to know, and knew it before they were sworn in.  Aux armes, les citoyens!

This is going to cost the district in sunk costs and lost information.  These actions are the opposite of the actions of trustees who have a duty to put the interests of the district above their own interests.  This is the Donald Trump school of governance:  I don't know anything, but that makes me more qualified than you.  And I'm in charge, and you're not, so:  fuck off.

And a bit of an interesting sidetone:  the district has been replacing old school buildings with new for some time now.  That involves architects and engineers and bond propsals and a whole raft of complexities which is the kind of thing that really keeps school boards busy with oversight (administrative staff handles all the details).  Now a new board member pulled a consent agenda item involving the construction of a new school that was to be done by the architects and engineers already approved for such work.  He wants to open the bidding process to public bids, again.

Why?  Well, his wife is an architect.  You draw the conclusion.    Ethically, he should recuse himself and not vote or discuss any such topics.  And perhaps he's an ethical person who simply doesn't understand he's now in a fishbowl.  If he's not careful, he's going to find out.  And that could damage the entire school district.

Like I said, the Donald Trump School of Governancing.

May you live in interesting times.