Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Moment Democrats Must Simplify This Nation

(Update: Thank you again to Batocchio for including this blog on Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up!)

Riddle: How do you know when Democrats have slim majority control of both Houses of Congress?

Answer: When Republicans are happily playing a game of Chicken with the national debt ceiling. Again.

More details from Kelsey Snell at NPR:

Congress has fewer than 10 days to pass legislation to prevent another partial government shutdown, and Democrats hope to use the deadline pressure to force Republicans to help them pass a critical suspension of the federal borrowing cap.

Republican leaders have flatly rejected that plan, leaving Congress in a familiar political standoff over spending and debt that could have serious economic consequences...

The House voted on the bill Tuesday evening, passing the measure on party lines — 220 Democratic votes in support and 211 Republican votes against.

Democrats had sufficient votes to pass the legislation without Republicans in the House. But the fate of the bill is far less certain in the Senate, where GOP leaders have vowed to oppose it over objections to Democrats' broader spending ambitions...

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said Republicans would support a spending bill that includes basic government funding paired with disaster funding and money for Afghan refugees — but not if the bill addresses the debt limit.

"We do not have divided government. Democrats do not need our help," McConnell said in a statement. "They have every tool to address the debt limit on their own: the same party-line process they used to ram through inflationary spending in March and already plan to use again this fall..."

Mitch however is making a subtle Lie of Omission here: What he's NOT telling the media is that the Senate Democrats may have a 51-tiebreaker vote with VP Harris, this debt ceiling and budget vote currently both fall under the Cloture rules where the Republicans are threatening to filibuster and deny a straight up-or-down vote.

Back to the reporting from Snell:

This latest political fight over the debt is infuriating Democrats like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Democrats voted to increase the borrowing cap under then-President Donald Trump even as the debt ballooned when Republicans approved costly tax cuts and partisan spending priorities.

"It is quite rich coming from a party, and the party of Trump, who did $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and didn't pay for a penny of them," Gillibrand said in an interview with NPR.

Democrats have said Republicans need to take ownership of the debt they helped create — both through partisan legislation and when Congress voted for bipartisan COVID-19 relief spending under Trump...

There IS one way the Democrats can get around McConnell and his GOP Senate buddies' obstructionist plan: They could amend the budget they're trying to pass along with this debt ceiling hike through the Reconciliation process, which avoids the Cloture process and allows an up-or-down vote. However, it would force the Democrats to give up their biggest agenda items, it would limit the time frame any tax increases would work, and it would alienate the Progressive caucus in the House to where they could refuse to vote for the Infrastructure bill that had passed the Senate and needs passage in the House. 

There is an even easier way the Democrats can get around the GOP obstruction: Just fucking kill the Filibuster and the Cloture rule that forces these shenanigans every fucking time the Republicans are in minority the last 15 years. Sadly, if the Democrats try to do that, there are two self-serving "Centrist" Dems - Sinema and Manchin - who would refuse to do that because without that filibuster their lobbyist buddies are screwed they lose their importance as "independent Senators" in that august body.

McConnell is pretty much trying to force the Democrats to turn on each other just when they need to unite.

And the Democrats are letting him.

We're facing another Long October Shutdown. And while it WILL BE the fault of McConnell and his wingnut buddies, the Democrats are going to be the ones forced to pay the costs.

Simplify your world, Democrats. Get rid of the fucking Filibuster. Stop letting Mitch pull his obstructionist shit.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

How Shall We Stretch Our Eye When Capital Crimes, Chew'd, Swallow'd and Digested, Appear Before Us

(the title quote is from Henry V Act II Scene 2)

If donald trump's call to Insurrection back on January 6 - to block Congress from its constitutional duties to confirm the 2020 election results - looks and smells and quacks like a coup attempt, that's because it was.

More documentation is getting out, and the paperwork is showing that trump and his inner circle knew what they were doing to start a riot at Capitol Hill and force his own Vice President Pence to throw out the results for Biden to allow trump to steal the Presidency. One of trump's lawyers involved in the planning (John Eastman) drew up a six-point memo laying out how it could work: It probably wouldn't, since the end result would have been civil war; still, the fact they were finding any rationale at all is horrifying. 

Along with that, Adam Serwer at The Atlantic pointed out all the other things we've learned trump did to cheat the American people that came close to subverting everything (paywalled):

Prior to November, the possibility of Trump attempting a coup was seen as the deranged fever dream of crazed liberals. But as it turns out, Trump and his advisers had devised explicit plans for reversing Trump’s loss. Republican leaders deliberately stoked election conspiracy theories they knew to be false, in order to lay a political pretext for invalidating the results. Now, more than 10 months after the election, the country knows of at least five ways in which Trump attempted to retain power despite his defeat.

1. Trump tried to pressure secretaries of state to not certify.

Trump held early leads in vote counts in several states—not because he was ever actually ahead but because of discrepancies between when states count mail-in ballots and Election Day ballots. This so-called blue shift was written about long in advance of Election Day, and was partially the result of Trump’s own attacks on voting by mail. Nevertheless, Trump made this a key part of his election conspiracy theories (as many predicted he would), insisting that Democrats were somehow inserting fraudulent ballots into the vote count in the presidential election (something they apparently forgot to do in close House and Senate races, in which Democrats did worse than polls had anticipated). To help substantiate these falsehoods , the Trump campaign attempted to pressure secretaries of state to either not certify the results or “find” fraudulent ballots...

The most infamous of these attempts was trump's call to Georgia's Secretary of State Raffensperger, which got caught on tape and which should have led to trump getting arrested for election interference and harassing a state official. Last I heard the attorney investigating the matter is getting stonewalled by the same guy trump threatened, alas...

2. Trump tried to pressure state legislatures to overturn the results.

Trump personally attempted to coerce state legislators to overturn election results in a few states that voted for Biden, on the dubious legal theory that such legislatures could simply ignore the results of the popular vote in their own states. In Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia, Trump publicly urged Republican-controlled statehouses to “intervene to declare him the winner” and tweeted, “Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself...”

Thankfully that attempt at social media bullying didn't go very far. Some of the state legislators made a show of it but none of them did it in sufficient numbers to pull it off. Nobody wanted to be the ones held accountable by their state voters afterward.

3. Trump tried to get the courts to overturn the results.

...As part of this effort, we can include the baseless “Kraken” lawsuits, filled with conspiracy theories about vote changes. Trump attempted to coerce the Justice Department into providing him with a pretext to overturn the results, but his attorney general, Bill Barr, refused to do so. Had DOJ leadership acquiesced, it would have lent credibility to Trump’s other corrupt schemes to reverse his loss. In a meeting with the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, according to contemporaneous notes taken by Rosen’s deputy, Trump said, “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me...”

If you kept track of trump's lawsuit efforts, well... There were 61 lawsuits overall (last count) and the only one his lawyers won was a procedural move to force a ballot count to end early. All that did was end that ballot count in favor of Biden. Everything got dismissed or turned down in court because trump's lawyers could not prove any massive vote theft/fraud had happened

Leading up to one of the craziest things I've ever seen in political history:

4. Trump tried to pressure Mike Pence to overturn the results.

It is hard to pick the most ridiculous means of executing a coup, but insisting that the vice president has the power to unilaterally decide who won an election is up there. Trump publicly hounded Pence to reject the results prior to the traditionally ceremonial electoral-vote count in Congress, and Pence reportedly took that demand seriously enough to seek advice from (former VP) Dan Quayle on the matter, “asking if there were any grounds to pause the certification because of ongoing legal challenges,” according to Costa and Woodward. That this got so far is profoundly disturbing, but even more disturbing is Eastman’s memo, which shows that the Trump team had thought very deliberately about how this scheme would work...

Quayle's advice to Pence to not knuckle under to trump's bullying is pretty much how we survived this ordeal. But look: When Dan FREAKING Quayle (he of "Potatoe" infamy, Murphy Brown bashing, and misquotes of folly) is the goddamned VOICE OF REASON in this entire Kabuki dance, you know damn well that History has given up and gone off to get drunk at a nearby pub. You can't make this shit up.

5. When all else failed, Trump tried to get a mob to overturn the results.

At the rally prior to the vote count in Congress, Trump urged the crowd to act, saying, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” The explicit goal of the rally and subsequent riot was to pressure Congress, and Pence in particular, into overturning the election results. Trump told his followers, “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election...”

trump and his defenders can try to repaint his rally all they like, but trump laid it out there to his riled-up mob that they had to pressure Pence to "do the right thing" (i.e. throw the results out and let trump "win"). And that's what happened when that mob crossed the streets to Capitol Hill and smashed/bullied their way in.

This is all out there now. Hundreds of cases are going on right now, with tens of trump's arrested rioters pleading their way to guilty charges to avoid harsher sentences. More and more reporting is digging up details like Eastman's memo showing just how everyone in trump's circle was plotting this out. More "revelatory" books like Bob Woodward's Peril is showing how insane the whole thing surrounding trump's election shenanigans was.

And there might be even more getting out there. Biden's administration is thinking of taking the unusual step of removing "Executive Privilege" of trump's White House documents so that the Congressional committee investigating the Insurrection can review them. To refer to Betty Cracker's take at Balloon Juice (she links further to the Washington Post article, but it's paywalled be warned):

The article cites a bunch of experts, including lawyers who served Democratic administrations and in pre-Trump Republican White Houses, and the consensus seems to be that post-executive privilege isn’t a thing. Unsurprisingly, one of the two go-to celebrity Trump-defender legal beagles disagrees:

“There is an unbroken tradition of deference by the incumbent presidents to their predecessors,” [GWU Professor Jonathan] Turley said. “In the past, incumbent presidents would generally support their predecessors in restricting access, despite partisan differences. It appears we may be poised here to shatter that tradition.”

In the past, incumbent presidents weren’t dealing with predecessors who claimed they won an election they lost and incited violence to cling to power. Dump those docs...!

I'm with Betty on this. A lot of our political structure is/was based on previous behavior as much as the written laws, but that was all based on Good Faith between parties to uphold the spirit of the Law as much as possible. trump went out of his way to destroy all that Good Faith, proving full well that "tradition" and respect for predecessor's guidelines should not apply to himself. Well, that's his petard getting hoisted now: Biden should not respect any preferential protections to the man who disrespected the office of the Presidency.

And it came out during this evening that the Congressional committee is taking that next step into the inner circle of trump's final days, with their subpoenas of people who had to have been in the room for the planning stages when all that shit went down (via Claudia Grisales at NPR):

The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued subpoenas to four former Trump administration officials, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and strategist Steve Bannon.

The panel also issued subpoenas Thursday to former Trump White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel, who served as chief of staff to then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

The subpoenas — the first issued by the select committee — compel the four to produce sought-after documents relevant to the deadly attack by Oct. 7, and then sit for a deposition the following week, on either Oct. 14 or 15...

"The Select Committee is investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend to the House and its relevant committees corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations," Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement.

In individually addressed letters, Thompson details further why the recipients are believed to have key information for the panel.

Thompson tells Meadows, for instance: "You were the President's Chief of Staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry. It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President [Donald] Trump on January 6, had communications with the President and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol, and are a witness regarding activities of that day..."

There is no doubt that these witnesses will fight appearing before Congress to the last letter, apostrophe, and comma on the paperwork, but they are on notice: These witnesses either have to double down being on the side of  Head Insurrectionist trump facing justice sooner rather than later, or speak to what they know and try to walk away without jail time for what they did nearly destroying America for that con artist.

If they're any smarter than the low-level foot soldiers already pleading out for their roles in the January 6th Insurrection, they'll testify. If they're any greedier (and sadly they might be) they'll try to ride this grift far past its expiration date, still dooming themselves but the rest of us in the process.

Gods, I do want to see justice moving a little faster than this...

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hark! A Ranking of Nirvana Albums (w/ Update)

Nothing ages a Generation Xer faster than the realization we've grown into Baby Boomer levels of nostalgic anniversary awareness.

For example, waking up the last couple of months to realize that two of the albums that truly defined our generation - Pearl Jam's Ten and Nirvana's Nevermind - have reached their 30th year anniversaries.

(Suddenly, all the hair turns white or falls off) (A wheelchair appears and knocks the Gen Xer into the seat) (one of those giant megaphone cones that people used before the invention of hearing aids shows up as a prop in one hand) "What's that sonny? 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' is on the radio? TURN IT UP! Not because I can't hear it mind you, actually yeah it's because I can't hear so good anymore..."

I kid. Most of us Xers are still able to hear things at high decibel output as well as operate heavy machinery, trust us.

Still, the reality that it's been thirty years since the great generational awakening - the moment in the early 90s when we (speaking as a White Boy) as a demographic moved into early adulthood and our own decision-making, away from the gaudy, glamor-filled, gleaming 80s - when our musical tastes moved into the more cynical and caustic Grunge movement (or the more cynical and caustic Gangster Rap movement with the rise/fall of NWA and their spinoffs Ice Cube/Dr. Dre). Our tastes in cinema and television were also turning darker, but into their own elements that would require other deeper essays to express (you could glance at my take on the Matrix anniversary for an idea how our worldview affected movie-making even by 1999).

It seems funny that the spearhead of this shift were bands like Soundgarden and Mudhoney - well-regarded bands in their own right whose Seattle Sound was turning attention away from L.A. hair metal - but it was the "debuts" of bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana that launched Grunge into the upper atmosphere to turn a status-quo music industry on its head. And while Pearl Jam's Ten is considered a masterpiece in its own right, we still look to Nevermind as the cultural keystone, the one big thing that shattered standard operating procedures and sent a lot of record label studios across the planet looking for the next Nirvana to feed off the growing Grunge scene.

As for Nirvana the band itself, I had already written a few words about that when I wrote about their frontman Kurt Cobain. Lyricist, guitarist, singer (more like screamer on half the songs), Cobain was the essential man of the lineups. Alongside bassist Krist Novoselic, the two would go through a cycle of drummers - notably Melvins' drummer Dale Crover, and Chad Channing which whom they recorded their first album Bleach - before hooking up with Dave Grohl (who impressed the two when they saw him drum for another local band Scream). That was the lineup that ended up recording Nevermind... and entering music history forever.

I still can't fully explain to you the impact Nevermind had on the cultural landscape. It was like overnight the bright neon shininess of the 1980s was turned off and the half-lit moodiness of the 1990s dominated every media outlet. Lyrics about mental health, dysfunctional relationships, coping with an uncaring world started showing up even in pop songs.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. A weird sense of whimsy was still on display, a kind of haphazard "well, we gotta live with this" mentality came through all the weirdness. 

Not to mention the sudden dominance of flannel shirts in the fashion stores.

And as I wrote, that whole moment... just seemed to last that moment. By 1994, Cobain had become jaded and cynical enough, burned out by the sudden celebrity status, and strung out by his bad drug habits, that he took his own life in April and sent whatever made up the Grunge movement into its own death spiral. In some respects, the hard rock scene never fully recovered (the musical landscape is now covered with pop divas and hip-hop).

The impact of Nirvana's brief moment upon the global stage can't be overlooked: Reflection and Respect must be paid. So into that, I bring you another ranking of albums by a band I follow, and so Hark upon this friends.

Given the shortness of Nirvana's actual existence and the few studio albums they released during Cobain's lifetime, there isn't a real way to rank one album greater than another. So I present this brief listing in chronological order.

Ranking Nirvana Albums

Epic to Epic

Title: Bleach

Reasons: Nirvana's first album in 1989 was an Indie release via a local (Seattle) label called SubPop, which had also been instrumental in 'finding' other Seattle bands like Soundgarden and Mudhoney that were key to the emerging Grunge scene. Recorded with drummer Chad Chadding (with previous drummer Dale Crover on several earlier recorded songs), Bleach's overall sound is one of distorted, fast-riff guitar noise over incredibly simplistic lyrics even by Cobain's usual standards (Kurt later admitted he wrote the lyrics in a rush right before studio time and was in an angry mood when he did). Pressured into conforming to what the early Grunge sound was like in the Seattle scene, the album was meant to be a shift away from Nirvana's original output. That attempt didn't work. Even in this full rookie effort, you can see the style Nirvana will get noticed for: Punk-earnest lyrics mixed with hard-rocking up-tempo beats and working with a distorted noisy grind that harmonized into its own. 

After the band got big (and after Cobain left us), the re-releases for Bleach included several other songs such as “Big Cheese” and “Downer” to fill out the history of Nirvana's rise from SubPop to everything

Epic Song(s): About a Girl, Negative Creep
Great Song(s): Blew, Love Buzz, Scoff, Swap Meet, Big Cheese
Good Song(s): Floyd the Barber, School, Downer

Title: Nevermind

Reasons: I catch myself using the phrase “blew the doors off everything” when describing certain albums, like the Beatles Please Please Me (and Rubber Soul, and Revolver, and Abbey Road, and...), or U2's Joshua Tree, or Van Halen's self-titled debut. But that's because those albums DID hit the world like a storm, with an impact that other artists couldn't ignore and with a sound or voice we've never heard before.

Nevermind was such an album. For the entire music industry, this was a Before/After break in their history.

Starting with recordings with SubPop on their next album, Nirvana shifted gears when Chadding left forcing Cobain and Novoselic to find another drummer, which ended up with Dave Grohl when his band Scream had recently broken up. With Grohl in place, Nirvana then shopped for a new studio when SubPop was facing financial difficulties, ending with the DGC label under Geffen Records. With that settled, they got the album completed by June for release a few months later. Unhappy with the initial recordings, the band and producer Bruce Vig brought in more professional help to smooth out the takes, which ended up making the album sound much like the current “hair metal” bands of the 1980s. Ironically, this may have helped the album reach more audiences.

Nevermind arrived on the scene in late 1991 at a moment when reforms in album sales tracking – which had been over-promoting pop sounds like Madonna and Michael Jackson at the expense of little-heralded rock bands that people did listen to – opened up the chances a lesser-known band could see better sales numbers to encourage more radio play, meaning more listeners to notice them creating a nice cycle of positive reinforcement. Combine this to a shift in what audiences – Gen X – wanted to hear towards college/alternative style sounds (why yes, we WERE in college or heading there at the time), and that all turned this album from a minor introduction into a global phenomenon. Sales overwhelmed the expected best-sellers for that year, and carried over in 1992 as the Grunge movement crossed over to other similar bands with their own seminal releases. What was expected to sell about 200,000 copies ended up selling 1,000,000 (Platinum level), and then 2x Platinum, and then... well, by then everyone heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

As mentioned before, Nevermind brought with it a punk mentality in the lyrics with a more up-tempo yet melodic sound. Influenced from Ramones to the Pixies to R.E.M. (the Alpha and Omega of College Sound), the emphasis was less on the distorted guitar noise (you can still hear it on “Breed,” “Lithium,” and “Endless Nameless”) and more on basic guitar chords that could shift from stanza to stanza. Cobain's anger in most of the song lyrics seemed more inward, cynical and self-deprecating, but offered with a grin as though no harm done (If we only knew...). 

As far as great albums go, Nevermind is still an uneven work where some songs fall flat where others shock you with how high they can rise: not fully polished like Joshua Tree or Revolver or any of the other respected masterpieces, but arguably more impactful with the songs that do reach you hitting you years after you've heard them. For a generation, what Cobain expressed in this album reflected a lot of the anger, cynicism, despair, and hope we had for ourselves.

Epic Song(s): Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, Lithium, On a Plain
Great Song(s): In Bloom, Breed, Polly, Drain You, Something In the Way
Good Song(s): Territorial Pissings, Lounge Act, Stay Away

Title: Incesticide

Reasons: When Nevermind turned into a behemoth, the record studio DGC/Geffen reached out to grab anything Nirvana that they could repackage to sell while the Grunge going was great. This meant regional EP (extended play mini-albums) released overseas, Indie singles, and unreleased demos and cover songs saved to tape somewhere. The result was this, a compilation album of every leftover that could get repackaged as Filet Mignon. 

As a result, it's not the best-sounding album released while Cobain was alive, but it does provide context and understanding of how his lyrical style developed and how the band's overall sound evolved. This is arguably the hardest album to listen to, not because of any lyrical dissonance – this is Nirvana/Cobain, it's ALL lyrical dissonance! – but because a lot of these songs were not released earlier for a reason (okay, Kurt, you like feedback, we get it...).

Epic Song(s): Aneurysm
Great Song(s): Sliver, Son of a Gun, Aero Zeppelin
Good Song(s): Dive, Stain, Been a Son, Hairspray Queen

Title: In Utero

Reasons: The follow-up to a breakthrough album, Cobain and his bandmates were caught in a moment where expectations were greater than they'd ever known. Pressured to release an album to sell to the masses yet trying to stick to their own artistic bents, Cobain in particular wanted to push back against those expectations to make an album he'd respect. In some ways, the sound self-sabotaged by going back to the earlier distorted noise prevalent in Bleach: A rawness to the chords, an uneven rhythm to the backbeat, more of Cobain screaming into the void. The lyrics and attitude matched the noise: Songs like “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” (an obvious punch-back at how the music industry was over-hyping the band and the Grunge scene) were anything but friendly for radio play.

Even with that, In Utero impressed the fanbase and sold well, extending the band's fame. In spite of the distortion, traces of melody still got through. The simple direct wording of Cobain's lyrics still expressed complexity of emotions. Fans got “All Apologies” and “Dumb” and understood where the self-deprecation was coming from. This isn't as fun to listen to as its predecessor, but it's just as self-reflective, and in some regards more haunting because of what came after. 

Epic Song(s): Heart-Shaped Box, Rape Me, Dumb, All Apologies
Great Song(s): Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle, Very Ape, Pennyroyal Tea
Good Song(s): Serve the Servants, Milk It, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

Title: Unplugged in New York

Reasons: Added to this list as one of Nirvana's final recordings, done when the band performed for MTV's popular “Unplugged” series of acoustic performances by artists of the day in November 1993. With Cobain's death in April 1994, this concert became one of the last that we knew Cobain had done, and so an album was crafted from the broadcast and offered as the swan song to Nirvana as a band (the two surviving members Novoselic and Grohl wisely broke up, knowing any attempt to continue would be demeaning of Cobain's memory). 

Anyone listening to this album will likely know this backstory, and likely will listen with an ear to seek out clues to every haunting, haunted song performed here. There is still a beauty to this work: Away from the loudness that the studio albums and normal live shows go for, this album is more low-key, focused on the melody, played at a more reflective, introspective pace (It still has distortion because Cobain could not go full acoustic and had brought an effect pedal as a “security blanket”). Covering all parts of Nirvana's brief history, with soul-stirring versions of “About a Girl” all the way up to an orchestral-like “All Apologies,” and intermixed with cover tunes - mostly from the band The Meat Puppets, some of whom were backing instruments on this concert - that the band enjoyed playing, the Unplugged album remains with us like a ghost, reminding us of the musical potential the band had, especially Kurt... 

Epic Song(s): About a Girl, Come As You Are, The Man Who Sold the World (Bowie cover, and oh was Bowie pissed afterward because clueless Nirvana fans kept thinking he had covered them), Dumb, Polly, Plateau (Meat Puppets cover), Lake of Fire (Meat Puppets cover), All Apologies
Great Song(s): Oh Me (Meat Puppets cover)
Good Song(s): Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Lead Belly cover)

And... that was it, everyone. Nirvana in a brief moment of our lives.

“Fuck you all, this is the last song of the evening.”
- Cobain before singing Lead Belly's “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on Unplugged.

Update 7/20/22: This was one of the five articles submitted to this 2022 Florida Writers' Association's Royal Palm Literary Awards, and good news it's passed the Semifinalist stage to try for the Finalist judging next. Nice new logo from FWA to go along with the news... 

Update 8/12/22: I am happy to report this article survived the Finalist round! Now, from what I learned the first time I reached this spot, this does not guarantee a top three finish. There can be 5 other blog articles that reached this level, there could be 10 or 20. But there is still a good chance this could win first, second, or third prize in the Nonfiction - Blog category. So now I have to show up at the banquet... Also I get this FWA Finalist logo.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Brief Example of How Republican Posing for Wingnut Cred Is Getting Them Killed

If you want an example of how the Far Right are publicly exposing themselves to COVID-19 in order to show off their wingnut bona fides, look no further than the Florida Republican Party leadership, like this guy in Hillsborough literally dying for no sane reason THE GRAND FAR RIGHT NARRATIVE (via Brooke Lee Howard at the Daily Beast (paywall)): 

Just a day after testing positive for COVID-19, a Florida Republican official who battled against mask mandates, attacked the vaccine, and railed at CDC officials has died in Tampa.

Gregg Prentice, who was 61, led the Hillsborough County Election Integrity Committee—and his sudden death has sent the local GOP scrambling as it no longer has access to essential campaign finance software without his help.

In a Sept. 14 letter to the Federal Election Commission, the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee reported it might not be able to file its monthly financial reports as required—because only Prentice knew how to do it.

“Gregg’s software converted data from our Quickbooks software to supply the information needed by the FEC,” it states. “Unfortunately, Gregg passed away suddenly from Covid-19 on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Gregg did not share the software and instructions with our officers. We will have to enter the August data manually, and according to the information we have received from our FEC analyst, Scott Bennett, we may likely have to re-enter the data from our first 7 months of 2021...

Just to point out, aside from Prentice foolishly dying from a pandemic he could have avoided with a cheap (FREE) available vaccine, the local party organization did not plan for emergencies like this to have Prentice train somebody else to be a backup, even for situations where Prentice could have been away on vacation for Christ's sake, nobody planned for that, can I just keep yelling at the idiots in charge of this clown factory or something I MEAN JESUS... 

(calms down)

And that is just one example of a Far Right True Believer (tm) buying into the wingnut Narrative against vaccination and masking so much that he/she/they DIE FROM COVID because of ignoring the science on this.

There's an entire Reddit thread - the Herman Cain Award, an off-shoot of the Darwin Awards it looks like - that documents each and every vocal opponent of safe vaccination and protective masking policies who die from their own angry ignorance.

It's not particularly funny, other than the bleakest way. It shouldn't count as Schadenfreude, because there's no malicious joy to have from people - even these fools - dying in a way that will be a burden and a grief to those who did love them.

If anything, there's a bit of horror attached to all this, because if you read down through Howard's Daily Beast article, it gets into Prentice's friends jumping onto the QAnon Anti-Vaxxing Conspiracy bandwagon accusing the Tampa hospital of "forcibly intubating" Prentice right away and how THAT killed him instead of the COVID. We're getting more and more of the wingnuts out there buying into the accusation that the virus is an engineered bio-weapon and that hospitals are intentionally killing patients "to justify illegal mandates against our freedoms." 

Christ. This is the kind of "virtue pandering" that's going to get doctors and nurses killed...

Thursday, September 16, 2021

These Things Go Through Your Head When There's a Man On Your Back

(Blog title stolen from Tori Amos, who suffered this hell)

As I followed the stories coming out of the Congressional testimony by our women's Olympic gymnasts about the years of sexual abuse they endured, the thing that horrified me most wasn't their ordeal at the hands of their rapist (and what they suffered WAS/STILL IS HORRIFYING).

What horrified more than THAT was the ordeal those women suffered at the hands of the legal authorities who failed to protect them, and worse failed to believe them (via Ailsa Chang, Vincent Acovino, and Justine Kenin at NPR): 


ALY RAISMAN: It disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.

CHANG: That is Aly Raisman, who, along with three other Olympic Team U.S.A. gymnasts - Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols and McKayla Maroney - told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI mishandled its investigation of Larry Nassar. Here is Simone Biles.


SIMONE BILES: To be clear - sorry.


BILES: To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar. And I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.

CHANG: McKayla Maroney said the FBI did not report her abuse for 14 months and falsified her testimony when they did.


MCKAYLA MARONEY: Let's be honest. By not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year. And this inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue. What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer...?

Let's repeat that part: Maroney accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation of falsifying her testimony. They not only ignored what she said, they altered it so that everyone else wouldn't believe it.

And it allowed sexual predator Larry Nassar - now serving essentially life in prison for numerous counts of sexual criminal conduct - to keep assaulting young girls while that "investigation" did nothing.

It's as though law enforcement still hasn't figured out the one common thing about rapists and sex predators: THEY DO NOT STOP AT ONE VICTIM. Rapists and assaulters and stalkers and pedophiles will not stop until stopped. The second the FBI had reports from multiple women that Nassar was a threat, THEY SHOULD HAVE STEPPED IN. Someone in charge should have made efforts to separate Nassar from his source of victims.

Yet no one did.

When the FBI did investigate, it turned out they repeatedly mishandled information and failed to follow their own agency's policies. To quote the internal DOJ investigation:

The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to allegations of sexual abuse of athletes by former USA Gymnastics physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar with the urgency that the allegations required. We also found that the FBI Indianapolis Field Office made fundamental errors when it did respond to the allegations, failed to notify the appropriate FBI field office (the Lansing Resident Agency) or state or local authorities of the allegations, and failed to take other steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar.

After eight months of inaction by the FBI Indianapolis Field Office, the FBI Los Angeles Field Office received the same allegations. The OIG found that while the Los Angeles Field Office took numerous investigative steps, it too failed to notify the FBI Lansing Resident Agency or state or local authorities of the allegations, and failed to take other steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar. The FBI Lansing Resident Agency did not become aware of the Nassar allegations until after the Michigan State University Police Department (MSUPD) executed a search warrant on Nassar’s residence in September 2016, following the MSUPD’s receipt of separate complaints of sexual abuse by Nassar, and discovered child pornography at Nassar’s residence. During this period from July 2015, when the allegations were first reported to the FBI, to September 2016, Nassar continued to treat gymnasts at Michigan State University, a high school in Michigan, and a gymnastics club in Michigan. Ultimately the investigations determined that Nassar had engaged in sexual assaults of over 100 victims and possessed thousands of images of child pornography, led to his convictions in federal and state court, and resulted in Nassar being sentenced to incarceration for over 100 years...

The specific findings of the report include:

Officials in the Indianapolis Field Office violated numerous FBI policies in handling the Nassar allegations. Specifically, officials in the Indianapolis Field Office:

* failed to formally document a July 28, 2015 meeting with USA Gymnastics during which the FBI first received the allegations against Nassar;

* failed to properly handle and document receipt and review of relevant evidence, i.e., a thumb drive provided by USA Gymnastics President Stephen D. Penny, Jr.;

* failed to document until February 2017 an interview of a gymnast that was conducted on September 2, 2015, during which the gymnast alleged sexual assault by Nassar; and failed to transfer the Nassar allegations to the FBI Lansing Resident Agency, where venue most likely would have existed for potential federal crimes.

Indianapolis Field Office Special Agent in Charge (SAC) W. Jay Abbott and an Indianapolis Field Office Supervisory Special Agent (Indianapolis SSA) made false statements. Specifically, we concluded that the gymnast interview summary that the Indianapolis SSA drafted in February 2017, 17 months after the interview took place, contained materially false statements and omitted material information. We further concluded that the Indianapolis SSA made materially false statements when twice questioned by the OIG about the victim interview. In addition, we concluded that Abbott made materially false statements during his OIG interviews to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis Field Office in connection with the handling of the Nassar allegations.

Abbott violated FBI policy and exercised extremely poor judgment under federal ethics rules when he, without prior authorization, communicated with Penny about a potential job opportunity with the U.S. Olympic Committee, an entity with which Penny had professional connections. Abbott communicated with Penny about the potential job opportunity while the two continued to discuss the allegations against Nassar and while Abbott took an active role in conversations about the FBI’s public statements regarding USA Gymnastics’ handling of those allegations. Abbott should have known—and we found that he in fact did know—that this conduct would raise questions regarding his impartiality. Further, Abbott applied for the position with the U.S. Olympic Committee, and then falsely denied that he had done so when questioned by the OIG on two separate occasions...

Jesus Christ.

That the Department of Justice let these men retire or simply fired from their jobs is part of the overall mishandling of this situation. These men should be charged for their active crimes of falsifying statements and their own lies.

All because of what? Why the hell did the FBI - and nearly every other agency involved in this nightmare - screw up, at some points intentionally?

Because too many men in law enforcement, too many men in power, simply don't treat rape as a serious matter.

Just look at everything else out there where our legal system is failing rape victims and women in general:

Even with rape as an act of violence, not only physical abuse but emotional abuse and spiritual abuse, and everybody who can do something to stop it - the cops in charge, the attorneys in charge, the judges in charge, the juries empaneled - keep acting like they want to handle anything else. That it's not worth their time, that the rape was "miscommunication" or that the woman "asked for it" with her clothes, her hairstyle, her drunken state, her demeanor, her bitchy attitude, or the shape of the moon that night.

Again, the word here. Horrifying.

One of the other shocking things is how little research into rape accusations there's been. Nothing to clarify or confirm the reality of how many rape victims there are, and if the allegations are valid (given how so many cops and DAs worry that rape victims are "ginning up" their stories for revenge or blackmail). If there's been any research, it keeps getting overlooked: There was one case study in 2010 done... which found only 8 percent or so of rape allegations were false. That meant 92 PERCENT OF RAPE ALLEGATIONS WERE REAL... and yet our legal system still treats rape like it's hearsay and we barely see any rape charges filed at all. Until it's too late and there's more victims piled up to make the "hearsay" into "Oh God they were telling the truth all along." 

Yes, there is due process. Yes, there should be steps to ensure the accused have their defense and day in court.

But for the love of God, the victims deserve due process too, the victims deserve their day in court to see justice served. If you're a cop or a lawyer or a doctor or a school administrator or a teacher or a social worker and someone's telling you they're a victim of assault or rape, you have the moral obligation to trust them and take the time to find out and make the effort to ensure rape doesn't happen again.

And yet here we are, finding more evidence our cops and investigators and administrators don't give a rat's ass.

Some of them deserve to be in jail as long as the rapist will be, for letting him flourish and rape again while they fiddled.

And what point will women trust this legal system that DOES NOT TRUST THEM?

Saturday, September 11, 2021

It Was Going to Be a Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day, the sky falls/
And you feel like it's a beautiful day/
It's a beautiful day/
Don't let it get away...

- "Beautiful Day," U2

The first thing I remember about September 11 was how clear the skies were, how blue it was that morning even in South Florida. I had gone to the Main Library in Ft. Lauderdale for a meeting with other tech lab librarians to set up training materials for a new interoffice email/calendar software (Groupwise) the county library system was signing up to use.

One of the librarians came late to the meeting. She brought word about a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City. We immediately thought it was a tragic accident. I considered the weather up in the northeast might have been foggy or rain-filled for something like that to happen. As librarians we all knew our trivia, and noted there had been a plane crash hitting the Empire State Building back in World War II due to bad weather.

I didn't find out until later that the entire Eastern seaboard of the United States had clear blue skies. I found out after that training meeting that a second plane hit the second tower. We all found out what was going on as the day got worse.

It was going to be such a beautiful day...

The Irish have been coming here for years/
Feel like they own the place/
They got the airport, city hall, concrete, asphalt/
They even got the police/
Irish, Italian, Jews and Hispanics/
Religious nuts, political fanatics in the stew/
Living happily not like me and you/
That's where I lost you...

- "New York," U2

That day remains such a gut-punch to those who lived through it that the emotional scars won't ever go away for us. One of those national traumas - like hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor - that cut across everything: If you were an American, regardless of gender or age or ethnicity or religion or even politics, you felt the blow in some way.

From Bob the Angry Flower webcomic, by Stephen Notley

Sad thing was, whatever that moment of grief was that united us as Americans, it didn't last. A number of us turned right back into our partisan (and racist, and sexist) opportunistic ways. We had the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson pin the blame of 9/11 on "abortionists, gays, and feminists" to fuel their culture war bullshit.

We had the Neoconservatives jump up in eagerness to send us all off into their interventionist wars in the Middle East. While going into Afghanistan made sense - where the 9/11 culprit Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cohorts were hiding - in our rage and revenge we got dragged into another quagmire of a decades-long occupation that only ended last month to tears and further political recrimination. And by 2003 these Neocons made it worse tricking us into an Iraqi invasion/occupation that shredded our international standing and broke our military.

Saddest of all, in spite of the moment's call for us all as Americans to unite as one nation, our racism and fear created an increase in anti-Muslim anger that led to increasing persecution and violence towards anyone even looking Muslim. That rage fueled the rise of trumpist-backed anti-immigrant bashing that is tearing apart our national heritage of immigration as a global beacon of opportunity and liberty.

Whatever unity we had in the wake of the Twin Towers falling was gone the second our rage got the better of us.

We haven't seen many beautiful days since 9/11, have we...

And love is not the easy thing/
The only baggage you can bring/
And love is not the easy thing/
The only baggage you can bring/
Is all that you can't leave behind...

- "Walk On," U2

Recovering from the trauma of 9/11 is an ongoing thing for a lot of people. Many of the survivors from Ground Zero itself - and the families who lost loved ones there and at the Pentagon plane attack and those on Flight 93 - have to carry their guilt and sorrow to the end of their days. The rest of us who stood on the sidelines watching the tragedy unfold have to come to terms with the unresolved anger we've felt that has now branched out into waves of violence and recrimination towards ourselves.

The culture wars that Falwell and Robertson and others had been pushing on 9/11 have pretty much consumed the mental state today of a Far Right evangelical Republican Party, to the point where the biggest threat to our nation's safety isn't overseas terror groups like ISIL it's homegrown groups like Proud Boys. Our rage has gotten, is getting the better of us as Americans, and even in our remembrances of that tragic morning it's going to take a lot of letting go for us to move on into days that could be beautiful again...

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind...

(Requiem to those we left behind)

(With thanks to Infidel for adding this to his Sunday blog wrap-up)

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Biden FINALLY Escalated Against the Wingnuts

There's no other way to describe this: I think Joe Biden has gotten tired of your shit, you anti-masking anti-vaxxing GOP wingnuts (via Alana Wise and Tamara Keith at NPR):

President Biden on Thursday unveiled a series of steps to combat the newly surging pandemic, including the announcement of a forthcoming federal rule that all businesses with 100 or more employees have to ensure that every worker is either vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus.

"We're in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while," Biden conceded, as the delta variant of the coronavirus has caused cases, hospitalizations and deaths to rise across the country. But, he added: "We can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19."

Speaking from the White House, Biden said the new emergency rule for private sector employers, which will be issued by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, would apply to 80 million workers...

The Republicans, of course, want to be the babies throwing a conniption:

The Republican National Committee on Thursday night announced its plan to sue the Biden administration.

"Forcing main street to vax or pay a fine will not only crush an economy he's put on life support—it's flat-out un-American," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote on Twitter. "To Joe Biden, force is more important than freedom. Americans won't stand for it..."

These Republicans, by the by, are the same sons-of-bitches who are pushing anti-abortion laws that would deny the freedoms of women who need to make their own medical choices.

The Republicans are also ignoring - because they've been ignoring the majority of Americans for decades now - that a sizable number of  Americans who are vaccinated and trying to fight a COVID pandemic are supporting stronger mandates and health safety in workplaces and schools.

I'm with John Cole on this:

I am tired of screwing around with these fucking imbeciles, I’m tired of loosing innocent people, I’m tired of destroying our medical community and wasting resources on idiots who refuse to get vaccinated, and I am not interested in watching my health insurance go through the fucking roof because of Y’All-Qaeda’s refusal to vaccinate. I am well beyond the No Fucks Left to Give stage, and am in favor of enacting sweeping regulations and letting the courts sort it out. Go overboard, let corporate America go half way to cover their asses, and even if the shit gets struck down, we’ll have advanced the ball.

I am sick of this shit. Fuck your freedoms, get the vaccine, wear a mask, and shut the fuck up.

If the wingnuts want to fight this in the courts, so be it. Odds are they'll lose, because Biden's legal team likely worked on these mandates ahead of time to ensure even the Far Right judges out there would have to concede the need for emergency pandemic responses.

It will depend how soon these legal fights get resolved, but it better be quick because we are STILL GETTING SICK AND DYING OUT HERE, America.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Conservatives At War

Update 9/12: With thanks to Infidel for linking this to his Sunday's weekly blog wrap-up!

I'm not talking about the Far Right's obsessions with putting the United States into war zones in Afghanistan or Iraq or other places in the Middle East or Central America that would make them feel good about regime changing the rest of the world into their puppet states.

I'm talking about how everybody in the Far Right is so driven to be in a state of spiritual, cultural, economic, and political war with everybody else (and even sometimes within their own ranks as they fight a purity campaign against perceived RINOs).

Just try reading Rude Pundit, who keeps track of these things, documenting how the craziness of the Far Right fringe is now the Republican mainstream. Watch how the Far Right goes charging into school board meetings to scream and intimidate the boards over the simplest of pandemic measures like masking their own kids for safety, as though every little particle of FREEEEEEEEDOM is threatened by a cloth mask that can prevent the spread of COVID.

The entire political fight this year over masking, and vaccines, and the mad push to take "alternative cures" that are toxic just to "own the libs" is all part of a Contrarian effort by the Far Right: Not against Liberals but against an entire world where facts and evidence and expert analysis are in opposition to the wingnuts' ignorance-driven faith (and not faith in God, but faith in their own value, their dominance over the rest of us as God's Chosen Ones. Listen to them sometime, you'll realize they're not praising God they're worshipping themselves and their own greedy success).

Republicans crow about being the friends to Big Business but the second a company or twelve steps out of line they'll be threatening those businesses with retaliatory regs and investigations. The power leadership of the conservative party willing to wage war against billionaires all the while pandering to those same billionaires about defending their almighty tax cuts.

The Far Right hatred of immigrants - railing against the reality that our nation was built, is built, will be built by immigrants - is now condemning us to a cycle of sadism and cruelty towards those who need the shelter we ought to provide to those who want to become Americans just like the rest of us. All driven by a racial Fear Of The Other that opposes the faces of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Afghans, anyone else Not-White.

And the ongoing war against women - against their rights to live their lives and make their choices and be free of the chains that the Far Right would lock upon their bodies - turning darker and malevolent as Red states like Texas impose abortion restrictions so severe no woman could get a safe abortion, as well as threatening to unleash a bounty-snitching war between neighbors without oversight or control.

But this is where we are now, as a nation, isn't it? Even before trump forged deep rifts within the U.S. through his inept rage, even before the warmongering of Bush/Cheney, even before the Call to Culture War by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan in the 1990s, even before the callous shredding of social safety nets under Reagan, even before Nixon's paranoia, that conservative rage against the rest of the world was there. The Birchers and the anti-Fluoride nutcases may have been fringe, but they were patient, and let the rest of the conservative ideologies merge into their epistemic bubble of madness. Now it's all QAnon anti-vaxxing anti-immigrant anti-women anti-voting pro-insurrection madness, and it's all they live for.

It seems weird and sad and dangerous how one political faction in what's supposed to be a participatory democracy is driven to make sure there's no participation AND no democracy, only their hold on power. But this is where the Republicans and their rabid voting base are at now: fully aware of their own minority status in the demographic makeup of the United States, and terrified that they can't retain or at least share that power through concession or moderation.

So rather than redirect their energy, rather than come to terms with the reality that they should pander to the better angels of our nature: the Far Right would rather sink deeper into rage, and wallow in the delights of hurting others, and answer to their demons desperate to fight a war they can't win.

It must be tiring to be so angry and spiteful at the world every minute of the day, Republicans.

Then again, all that hate seems to keep you Republicans all warm at night.

And yet, all that hate is the kind of fire that will burn yourselves straight to Hell.

I'd pity you, wingnuts, but you honestly wouldn't understand why.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Blood In the Streets of Lakeland

No. No no no. This happened near here. This is in Lakeland. This is my metaphorical backyard (via Divya Kumar Tampa Bay Times (paywall)): 

A shooting north of Lakeland this morning left four dead, including a 3-month-old infant. An 11-year-old was shot multiple times. After two shootouts with deputies, the suspect is in custody after being treated for injuries.

At a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Grady Judd said Bryan Riley, 33, from Brandon, had no apparent connection to the victims...

Somehow, that shooter knew them, and knew them well enough to kill them with a firearm.

What we know about the shooter is that he served as a Marine overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he was honorably discharged but that he suffered from PTSD and may have been on drugs. His girlfriend talked about him providing security at an Orlando church and that he came back last week claiming "he could talk to God."

What we also know about the shooter is that he seemed armed to the tooth and body-armored for a fight, because he got into a firefight with county deputies before surrendering.

What we also know is that this sonofabitch - like so many others who committed mass shootings across this country nearly every day now - had easy access to firearms, and a willingness to use them.

We are at a point where we can't trust a single goddamned person with firearms. And yet, and yet, all because of a screeching, Russian-owned lobby group called the National Rifle Body Count Association, we live in a country that prizes the right to shoot anybody they like over the rights for the rest of us to peaceably assemble and, you know, NOT GET SHOT.

This level of violence will NEVER be normal.

This number of grieving families will NEVER be normal.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Her Wings Are Cut

Her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly.
-- Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

Welp, the Republican War on Women jumped up a notch this morning when the Supreme Court in its infinite cowardice refused to stay or even comment on the law passed in Texas that pretty much denies every woman (in reality every poor and ethnic woman) her right to have an abortion.

If we can go into some detail about what Texas' law actually does, let's refer to Sarah McCammon at NPR:

The law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Private citizens who bring these suits don't need to show any connection to those they are suing.

The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest...

It bans abortion as soon as cardiac activity is detectable. That's around six weeks, which is before a lot of people know that they're pregnant. Other states have tried to do this, but those laws have been challenged by abortion-rights groups and blocked by federal courts again and again...

Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000. And to prepare for that, Texas Right to Life has set up what it calls a "whistleblower" website where people can submit anonymous tips about anyone they believe to be violating the law.

"These lawsuits are not against the women," says John Seago with Texas Right to Life. "The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So this is not spy on your neighbor and see if they're having an abortion."

In a federal lawsuit challenging this, a coalition of abortion providers and reproductive rights groups said the law "places a bounty on people who provide or aid abortions, inviting random strangers to sue them..."

When I heard the bit about the $10,000 bounty, I immediately flashed onto the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which also issued bounties on anyone deemed an escaped slave (which punished free-born Blacks) and penalties on Northerners who refused to help bounty hunters (which punished law officers into betraying their Black neighbors). This isn't the first time I made that analogy.

But this is appropriate analogy after all: This Texas anti-abortion law basically turns women into property, unable to have a say in their medical care or their ability to have families on their own terms.

The so-called Pro-Lifers, I've noted before, are not about the sanctity of life: If they were, they'd be foremost against the death penalty and wars of occupation (and they're not). The so-called Pro-Fetus people, I've noted before, are not about the fetus: If they were, they'd be pushing for more financial aid and improvements in pre-natal care, maternity leave from work, child care benefits, and increased food benefits to schools and families so that children won't starve (guess what, they're not).

No, the anti-abortion crowds have always been Pro-Judgment, willing to shame any woman they deem impure, eager to promote their own rage and anger towards other humans. Willing to promote a society where women earn less in wages, suffer more domestic violence, and are viewed mostly as breeding cattle stuck in generational cycles of poverty.

By passing a law that restricts abortion past an arbitrary deadline that no woman can keep - most women won't know it until they miss a menstrual cycle (four weeks at the most), and by then it would be too late to find a provider who would help - the Far Right are looking to deny women any say at all what happens to their own health. Pregnancy is NOT perfectly safe, and a lot of women could suffer - even die - if they're forced to carry a pregnancy their bodies can't handle.

By passing a law that refuses to respect rape / incest victims, they are forcing those victims to carry on a traumatic experience that would break their spirits if not their sanity.

By passing a law that allows ANYONE uninvolved in the direct affairs of that woman's life to earn monetary awards by simply snitching on them - even if the woman suffers a legitimate miscarriage, or even isn't pregnant - guarantees an abuse of that bounty system to where innocent women will be investigated and punished while assholes rack up easy payouts. That bounty system also punishes anybody pro-choice trying to help these women find ways to get out of state to where they could get the abortion they need to save their health and/or their sanity: a lot of social workers and doctors are going to become targets of unjustified persecution so that a greedy few stuff their wallets with false claims (and given the sadistic mindset of the state government enforcing all of this, the overseers of this system will likely ignore those false claims so they can "juke the stats" on their War Against Women).

This law - passed in the name of Christian morality - flies against the religious belief of Jewish, Hindi, non-religious, and liberal Christian churches. Who speaks for their First Amendment rights in this matter? Certainly not the Texan Republicans who pushed this law, or the rest of the Far Right Republicans nationwide who will look to craft similar laws in their own states to ensure their women suffer as well.

The only women who won't suffer in all of this are the ones who can afford to leave Texas (or any other Red state) for a place where abortion isn't restricted, and can afford to stay there for a year with family/friends so that nobody back home can accuse them of anything. In short, upper-income women (who tend to NOT be Black or Latina, hint hint).

To all the women in Texas about to suffer injuries to your persons because of a corrupt patriarchy that devalues women, these Far Right Bible-thumping hypocrites are trying to cut your wings.

Everyone else out here needs to fight back against those judgmental monsters. Every woman has a right to spread her wings to fly.