Monday, May 30, 2022

On Memorial Day, A Cinematic Reminder That Civilians Die and Survive In Wartime

It's the last Monday of May, the day where we think back to the soldiers who died and survived the various wars we've sent them to fight.

It's a time to visit the cemeteries, plant flags at the statues and plaques honoring the fallen, and break out the binge watching of Band of Brothers and any World War II movies we got for check out from the library shelves (or in these modern days, streaming off a service). 

But as a real war rages on in Ukraine - and as a decades-long war in Syria continues its bloody stalemate - we need to remember that it's not just soldiers who are caught on the battlefields.

Far too many wars over the centuries were fought near cities, towns, settlements, places where the common folk were struggling to survive on their own without raiding parties or sieges laying waste to their communities. As the wars grew bigger, as the mechanized armor developed and grew, as the air became a war zone all its own bringing bombs dropped from above, the range of destruction by war spread. By the first World War, entire nations could get enveloped, occupied, devastated, flattened into poppy fields. By the second, the entire continent of Europe was on fire, with few safe havens to flee.

Every place - from the Home Front of London, to the occupied streets of Paris, to the bombed-out neighborhoods of Warsaw, Stalingrad, Leningrad, so many other cities - knew the horror of war.

This fact got my notice a few years ago when - during a channel surf looking for something to watch during summer break - I came across a little-heralded Italian movie titled The Four Days of Naples. As a history buff - especially for WWII - I kept watching it, as I had started up at the moment when the story really kicked off.

For those who don't remember what happened to Italy in the Second World War, the nation had fallen to Fascist control - the originator, in fact - by the mid-1920s in response to their failings in the previous war, and their leader Mussolini had attempted to forge the nation into a military regime. Thing was, they weren't the Romans of old, and most of their military plans - conquering much of the Mediterranean from Greece to Africa - were flawed and wasteful. When Nazi Germany came along as a military ally, Italy signed up to form an Axis Powers with them... and quickly turned into the junior partners as the Nazis were more thorough - and nasty - when it came to war.

By the time Mussolini and his generals flubbed their 1940 invasion of Greece - which forced the Germans to finish the job for them, and affected their ability to invade Soviet Russia - the Italian population were pretty much done with the Fascists leading them.  By 1943, with the Allied forces of Free France, Great Britain, and America knocking at the door from Sicily, the Italians were ready to surrender and be done with all the scarcity, starvation, disease, and the bombing raids decimating their cities.

This is where Four Days of Naples opens, early September 1943, with the citizenry hearing word that the Fascist government had collapsed. With that, the streets erupt with Neapolitans - the term for "Citizen of Naples", no not the ice cream that's NEOpolitan - celebrating, thinking that for them the war is over.

Unfortunately, their city and indeed much of Italy itself has a lot of German troops based there... and the Germans were not about to surrender to the Allies. Nor were they going to give up such prime real estate like the rough Italian terrain...

(The YouTube link below is to the entire movie, it may have fallen into public domain but please respect any copyright laws if needed)

The film is based on the real-life events of that September 1943, focusing heavily on four days - September 27 through September 30 (with October 1st being the day the Allies arrived). The director Nanni Loy employed what's known as the Italian Neorealist style: Where the storytelling focuses on the poor or working classes, intermingling various story threads for each characters weaving a larger story towards the conclusion. It also relies on filming in location (no sets or stages), and working with non-professional actors (although one or two actors would play some of the more emotionally demanding roles).

What you get is a kind of semi-documentary feel to the film, especially with Four Days where the incidents unfold spontaneous in the way the real-life events did. And the events we're watching were astounding.

What the Germans did to Naples after the Italian Fascists fell was to turn it into occupied territory, ending whatever hopes the locals had that their war was over. The army began taking civilians hostage in order to force the rest to comply to their orders. The Germans also began conscripting the men to serve either as forced labor at their "work camps," or turn them into front-line cannon fodder for their planned defensive effort to keep the Allies from reaching Central Europe through the south.

The brutality of the German round-ups became too much for Neapolitans, and by September 27 the Germans were accosted by civilians, mostly women who braved the machine guns to rescue their husbands and sons. With that, the city was in open revolt.

In Loy's film, the chaos of the moment carries every scene forward, from the brutality of the Nazis towards the defiance of the Italians. Entire scenes are breathtaking as we witness them: The most brilliant sequence when an entire neighborhood overlooking an alleyway full of Germans erupts into a rainfall of every possible piece of furniture that could get thrown from the windows.

We're carried along by the drama of the characters themselves. We're introduced to a Hollywood-handsome Italian sailor, with the early scenes - flirting with a melancholic young prostitute, riding a bike through the city as celebrations begin in earnest - hinting he would be the main POV character of the entire movie. (Spoilers: He's the unnamed sailor executed by the Germans at the beginning of the occupation to send the people of Naples a warning) We come across mothers greeting their sons who had gone into hiding to avoid army conscription, only to see those young men seized by Germans, driving those mothers to rebel. There's a couple - the man loves the woman, but she married a wealthier man long before - playing out a melodrama that happened a lot apparently during the Big War. There's a school of orphans, led by a teenage resister who rebukes their schoolmaster when the city rises up against the occupiers. There's a little boy lost in the chaos of the uprising, eagerly chasing from one fight to the next to watch the battles, innocently unaware of the dangers of war...

When the movie came out in 1962, the Second World War was still fresh in the memory for those who lived it (the film itself relies on the damaged buildings that had remained standing for almost 20 years as background). Four Days was a moderate success, and had even been nominated for several awards (for Best Foreign Film and for a Best Screenplay award with the Oscars). And then, well, it's almost hard to find. There doesn't seem to have ever been a DVD release honoring it. I'd rarely seen it on the cable networks ever since I saw it years ago. Someone on Twitter thankfully pointed out the YouTube link to me.

It's an important film. Unlike most war movies that focus on the battles, or the generals, or the soldiers, this was a film that focuses on the civilians who get caught in the crossfire, and the many moral - sometimes noble - decisions they have to make to survive.

I hope you all watch this. It's a breathtaking perspective of what war is for those who don't want to fight in one. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Where We Stand, Where We Fall

You can stand where I stand, but you will not see what I see.

You would think, year after year of constant mass shootings numbing the national psyche, that Americans would cheer on the simplest solution towards ending gun violence: By getting rid of the goddamned guns.

After all, every other nation struck by a mass shooting tragedy went on to pass harsh laws restricting ownership, banning certain types of firearms, and limiting the lethality of both gun and bullet.

Mass shooting at Ecole Polytechnique in Canada back in 1989?  Canada required gun safety classes, 28-day waiting periods, universal gun registration, and magazine clip capacity limits. After a mass shooting in Nova Scotia in 2020, they're trying to ban 1,500 (!) models of military-style assault rifles as well.

Mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania back in 1996? Australia banned all semi-auto rifles and pump-action shotguns, and pulled off a gun amnesty and buyback program that took 250,000 guns off their streets.

Mass shooting at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland back in 1996 with semi-auto handguns using high-capacity cartridges? British Parliament passed legislation banning those types of handguns, and they maintain strict laws about the types of assault rifles allowed along with registration and certification for gun owners.  

Mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019? New Zealand banned semi-auto rifles, limited magazine clip sizes, and made modifications illegal. Like Australia, they hosted a buyback program to get as many of those guns off their streets.

Mass shooting in Ohio, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and any other Red State (or states compromised by Far Right / NRA lobbyist control) across the United States? Watch the Republicans in power pass new laws making it easier to get assault rifles and even worse avoid any certification or license.

What's maddening is how the Far Right, pro-gun politicians and pundits all proclaim how "if we ban guns, all it will do is make it so only criminals have guns." With the implication that we would see an increase of crime and gun violence because of it. However here in the United States, we get the inverse: Making it easier to get guns makes it easier for the angry guys who conform to the mass shooter profile means we still get the high body counts.

Note this: Nearly every mass shooting in the United States has been from someone who made legal purchases (or got the guns from someone who did) of those firearms. It's the legality of the process that horrifies along with the death of so many innocent lives.

Note this: We had an assault rifle ban in the United States for ten years - 1994 to 2004 - which wasn't renewed under Republican George W. Bush's administration (and maddeningly enough we never got it reinstated under Obama when we had a chance between 2009-10). It shouldn't surprise anyone that once the ban lifted, assault rifle sales went up and so did the body count (chart via Financial Times article by Justin Jacobs):

Everything from 2005 rightward to 2022. Those dots
multiply... and get bigger...

This shouldn't surprise us due to one thing: Most other nations do not have a Constitutional Amendment codifying the existence of firearms and what restrictions the states (and Congress) could impose on them. The Second Amendment is a very big reason why the U.S. can't just ban every firearm, as the Supreme Court spelled out with their Heller ruling back in 2008.

But that Second Amendment is a bit of a problem. When you read it - A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed - you'll notice the first half of the deal involves the regulation of state militias. The pro-gun forces tend to ignore that half, obsessing over the second half saying the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

They treat that "right" as an absolute, avoiding the whole part of "well-regulated" that could be used by Congress and our states into passing firearm regulations. You'll see them on social media insisting on SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED - all caps, for emphasis - as though it's a mantra, no worse dogma.

Because that dogma creates the very huge problem we have now in the United States: We have a very dedicated, very insistent, and potentially very violent minority of Americans - not even every gun owner is this paranoid and devout about the SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED dogma - who believe so much in their absolute right to own firearms that they will NEVER give them up or even allow any restriction on gun purchases to hinder their quest to buy even more weapons to an arsenal already filling up their gun sheds.

Search social media for families happily posing in their houses, driveways, back porches with every rifle and handgun they own. You will see them with hundreds of firearms they cannot possibly need. It's like an addiction, a craving to buy more weapons as though they'll be going out of fashion next week.

They buy that many because a lot of them do fear that sooner or later the federal government is going to get frustrated by all the mass shootings, and that a permanent assault rifle ban will finally get passed (and even a conservative Far Right SCOTUS would have to uphold).

And a good number of these gun worshippers buy up all these guns because they genuinely believe they will be in a shooting war - if they're not already - to overthrow what they view is a corrupt, demonic federal government.

Look at every "Come and take them," "Pry them from my cold dead hands," "Second Amendment solution" threat the gun nuts toss out there on social media. They genuinely believe they can take on a massive federal government - not just the agencies like the FBI or DEA or ATF, but the U.S. military both National Guard and standing armies if called upon to fight an insurrection - and win a "new revolution" for a truer, purer (Whiter) US of A.

These gun-worshipping acolytes can't stop because they dare not. And they're convinced a majority of "True" Americans - not the 65 percent who want a ban on all assault rifles, not the 80 percent who want universal background checks - will fight with them.

The gun nuts of America are convinced they are standing for their grand, godly cause of murdering everyone they view as a threat.

The rest of us are going to fall to their guns because of that.

This was never going to end well.

And the trigger moment - when we're no longer on the knife's edge of the Far Right's Culture War, falling into the blood-pits of insurrection and chaos - is closing in.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Blood on the Streets of Uvalde

No other country outside of an actual goddamned war zone has to go through this shit.


This time in Uvalde, Texas. This time with 19 elementary schoolkids and 2 adults shot to death by another angry guy with fucking guns (via Vanessa Romo at NPR): 

The number of people confirmed killed in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has risen to 20, according to Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Estrada told CNN that 18 children and two adults are among the dead... (Note: death toll updated to 19 children by 10:47 PM)

The suspect allegedly shot his grandmother before he entered the school. Thursday was meant to be the last day of the school year, according to the school's website.

In a brief news conference hours after the shooting, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo confirmed some of the details offered by Abbott. Arredondo called the bloodshed a "mass casualty incident" but did not specify the number of dead. The chief also told reporters that the gunman acted alone and is deceased...

The school year for those kids was going to end this Thursday. Now for 18 families those kids will never come home. All because of an angry guy who, when he recently turned 18, went and bought military-grade firearms and decided to use them on children.





You know something? This is a goddamned rigged game. This is a goddamned setup. The National Rifle Body Count Association has its hands all over the gun-making industry, and so they make money off of every gun sale, and every mass shooting is like an advertisement to the gun nuts to go and buy more guns which is more money to the NRA National Body Count Association.

It's a hell of a racket. Even organized crime mobs aren't this evil. At least the Gambinos and the other Families don't make money off of school massacres.

I swear, we need to go after the NRA National Body Count Association for Racketeering, for criminal conspiracy to commit murder, because these motherfuckers KNOW that every gun - especially the assault rifles - they're selling there's a decent chance it'll get used in a mass shooting.



Voting out the pro-gun politicians won't be enough (although that needs to happen too). These sons-of-bitches need to pay for all the blood spilt in the glory of their rich lives while they mock our existence.

Goddamn them. Every dead child not just in Uvalde but all across America, all across the last 30 years of their fanatical worship of their God of Death, is on them.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

I Survived Orlando MegaCon 2022, I Hope

It's been awhile since I've done one of these blog reports from the cosplay front lines, hasn't it?

A major reason has been, well, from 2020 until now it's been insanely unsafe to host a massive crowded shindig due to this little thing called the COVID-19 GLOBAL PANDEMIC. Skipping 2019 may have been by choice - I recall that year there were no major celebrities that interested me to attend - but 2020 and 2021 were not.

Even going to THIS year's MegaCon ran the risks because 1) Not everyone is yet vaccinated, especially in Florida and 2) There is yet another uptick in COVID cases due to a new variant spawning again.

And yet, even with the vax and the boosts, even with some assurance that if I do catch COVID it - knock on wood - won't be dangerous to me (I have several health risks, I decided this year to go.

So hold onto yer steampunk hats, kiddos, there's a ton of photos and videos to document the atrocities!

Just because 90 percent of the attendees weren't masked,
didn't mean I had go unmasked. I'm still trying to observe
the niceties, thank you.

 This year's MegaCon was not at the West Concourse but the North/South building. It made for an odd alignment of space - the middle area for the vendors and artists/celebrities, the North Concourse for certain events and promotions, and the South Concourse for cosplaying and other events - meant you had to run back and forth if you wanted to partake of one event and then another.

The line to get in, after the outdoor line to get tickets, which
this year involved getting a sensor badge for some reason, and involved
jumping through 5-8 more hoops than usual to get things verified.

Always taking pictures of the escalator lines to show the variety
of cosplay at work. Saturdays are the big costume contest days,
so LOTS of cosplay...

It's R2-D2!
Always rolling the comic con like a pimp.

The local Lego fan club setup with their models and
cityscapes, complete with working trains!

The cosplay area on the Third Floor of the South Concourse.
One of the hardest parts of the con to reach, and difficult
to walk through once it got packed with cosplayers.

One of the many cosplay groups - this one the DC villains
(with maybe Beast Boy?).

The Lego room got busier as the day progressed.

One of the big draws of any Con: The celebrity autographs
and photo lines. It's difficult to even get close enough in these lines
to see who the celebrity is, for this line it's Dante Brasco!
(pause) Zuko. (pause) You never watched Avatar? NO, NOT 
(sigh) Rufio from that Robin Williams
Hook movie, okay?

 This was around 12:00 PM. Saturdays are usually the busiest of any weekend Comic Con.

In a nice personal surprise, I had found out my nephews
Tommy (right) and Drew (middle) had gotten their own tickets to attend MegaCon
on their own (they are now in college!!!) (Guy on the left is Drew's friend Garrett).
I had worried that I had dragged them to the Tampa Bay Con years ago,
but it turns out they liked the experience and wanted to visit the Orlando
one. Nephew Drew (middle) is even in cosplay this time, can you guess
which character/movie he's cosplaying?

Back up at the Third Floor Cosplay Zone,
this time all the Scarlet Witches are gathered
to promote THE MULTIVERSE!!!

You don't see that many winged cosplay, so when I saw that
redbird outfit I rushed to get a picture from the escalator.
I should have gone back around to get a closer pic.

All that walking since 8:30AM and by 2:30PM I was a mess.
Dammit, MegaCon, where are the benches
to help a tired old fart rest???

There weren't that many Q+A sessions this year, so this one by
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti was a treat!

Taken by 6:30PM, as I was waiting for the
Jay and Silent Bob show at 7:30PM.
This is where most of the Con begins to shut down
for the day... and half of everybody was
heading out before the thunderstorms rolled in!

One of the draws this year was an evening performance by Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, better known as Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith). It's something my brother Phil enjoys, so I offered to buy him a ticket for the evening event. There were headaches involving the reality the special event was separate from the comic con, but I got them straightened out by the time Phil showed up at the door. Still this was more complicated than it needed to be, con organizers... 

Brother Phil, proof of life that he was here for
the chronicles of Bluntman and Chronic!

One of the pains of any comic con: The waiting is the hardest part. Coordinating scheduled events to cope with any emergencies - or the overwhelming size of crowds that packed MegaCon as a return to post-pandemic normalcy - meant the scheduled start of the show (7:30PM) didn't happen. The autograph lines for the View Askew 'Verse cast - especially for Smith and Mewes - were longer than expected, so they were caught wrapping that up so as not to offend those fans. But that meant the fans at the show were stuck.

This was actually the cleanest the restless crowd had gotten during
the hour-long wait. When you got a crowd that grew up on 30 years
of dick and pot jokes, some of the antics could get pretty risque.

The MegaCon organizers did what they could to appease the masses, with a couple of giveaway contests and a brief trivia quiz that surprisingly stumped a lot of people. But finally, after the autographs were done... Jason had to go pee and Kevin had to go unwind (let's just say it was a herbal relaxant and keep it at that, trust me it was for medicinal purposes!). THEN, we finally got the show we waited for.

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith!

As always, it was Kevin spending half the night extolling his fellow Hollywood celebs and being a genius storyteller (some people have a fcking knack for it), with the second half of the show turned into a Jay and Silent Bob script read for a comic short story, where they brought up volunteers to use weird-ass voice impressions. All I can tell about that is one guy voiced his character like Forrest Gump to huge laughs, the woman voice did a decent Southern drawl, a second guy did a brilliant Scottish brogue, and then they called up a third guy who, Gods help us, nailed a Walken impression for the ages. IT BETTER BE ON THE DAMN PODCAST, KEVIN.

By then, it was 10:30PM, long fcking day, I dropped Brother Phil off at the hotel - he was sticking around for a Sunday breakfast with the nephews - and I braved the I-4 traffic to make it home and feed the kittehs.

Actually surviving the whole day, getting home by 12:05AM
just so Mal could hit me in the face with his tail.

There ye have it, fair mortals. What do ye think?

Should I brave the Tampa Bay Comic Con later this August (That is, if I haven't caught COVID at this one? We'll see in 5-12 days...)?


Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Madness of Gun Worship

There's a statistical chart going around on social media about the uptick in gun violence in the United States:

It's from this source:

And it's horrifying to watch that "Firearm Homicides" number spike upward like it's the Himalayas. The only time the Non-Firearms chart spikes that high was 2001, when Bin Laden sent his peeps to attack the United States on Sept. 11. 

How telling is it that the NRA is building up a body count equal to America's deadliest terrorist.

There's been some talk that the uptick of gun violence is due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which forced a lot of people into their homes during the early quarantine months... and which triggered an uptick in domestic violence cases. That alone is a horrifying reality, where the "safety" of home gets subverted by the easy access to a gun amid abusive relationships. But that sharp increase in the charts seems to start before 2020 and the pandemic (with a noticeable bump around 2016), which points to another culprit causing that spike.

If there were anything happening in 2018 and 2019 to affect firearm usage in the United States, I would point to these two possibilities:

1) In response to the mass shootings going on during and after the 2016 election cycle - especially the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 and the Parkland High shooting in 2018 - a lot of Republican-controlled states were passing laws by 2019 towards easier access to firearms, arguing that "more guns = more safety".

Of course, the chart below proves the lie to that belief. The reality is that "more guns = more gun deaths" and it's more than just anecdotal (via German Lopez back in April 2021 at

Using data from a 2016 study in Injury Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mother Jones put together the chart above that shows states with more guns tend to have far more gun deaths, including homicides and suicides. This has been found across the empirical research: “Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide,” David Hemenway, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center’s director, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health...

And of course the gun cult that makes up the Far Right will never accept this truth. They would rather keep making it easier and easier for themselves to own guns - some states are getting rid of regulating and registering gun licenses altogether! - rather than respect the supermajority of Americans who want stricter gun safety laws.

2) The gun violence is ticking upwards as the extremist elements of the Far Right - emboldened by trump's "Make American Great White Again" and the normalization of the "Great Replacement" fearmongering - act out their racism and rage.

We've seen that in Buffalo and we've been seeing more extremist violence since the January 6th Insurrection. The Anti-Defamation League tracked cases up to 2021 and found that three-quarters (roughly 75 percent) of the violent acts nationwide were perpetrated by Right-Wing extremism. By comparison Left-Wing extremism accounted for 4 percent, while Islamic (domestic) extremism counted for 20 percent (there was 1 percent left over for Other). Odds favor you getting killed by a Proud Boy / Oath Keeper before getting killed by a jihadist.

It doesn't help that in the past decade - as the Far Right became enraged by an Obama presidency and stoked by a Fox Not-News media that kept feeding them fearmongering about dirty brown immigrants raiding our borders - our nation has suffered a low-burning civil war of sorts. A culture war between racist sexist angry Whites and the rest of the United States that's pro-choice, pro-immigrant, and more progressive than the mainstream media gives credit to.

For all their public demonstrations of being "Christian" and holy and whatnot, these wingnuts keep proving that they worship the idolatry of the blood-soaked AR-15. The hypocrisy of them proclaiming a holy victory over the rest of us while they shoot up every Black, Hispanic, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ community center they can. 

The fever of gun worship will not end until these wingnuts fall completely out of power, and saner heads passing safety laws prevail.

Get the damn vote out, Americans. We're at war. They got the guns but we got the numbers.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Blood on the Streets of Buffalo

Welcome to America, where every public place - our schools, our churches, our movie theaters, our music concerts, our city halls, our grocery stores - are just wonderful targets for the gun nut mass shooters who want to rack up a body count. Yesterday, Buffalo joined the list of cities that have suffered gun violence by an AR-15 wielding asshole (per Carolyn Thompson, John Wawrow, Michael Balsamo, and Dave Collins with AP News):

A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”

Police said he shot 11 Black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities in a rampage he broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch...

One of the things these mass shooters love to do, they love to show off how easy it is for them to kill others.

The massacre sent shockwaves through an unsettled nation gripped with racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes. In the day prior to the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just one month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train wounded 10 people...

The article didn't mention the shootings in Milwaukee the night before, or the number of domestic violence shootings that happen pretty much every day, but we've become so overwhelmed by gun violence the past 20 years it's all a blur now.

The suspected gunman in Saturday’s attack on Tops Friendly Market was identified as (name redacted because the SOB wants to be famous), of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Buffalo.

It wasn’t immediately clear why (redacted) had traveled to Buffalo and that particular grocery store. A clip apparently from his Twitch feed, posted on social media, showed (redacted) arriving at the supermarket in his car.

The gunman shot four people outside the store, three fatally, said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. Inside the store, security guard Aaron Salter, a retired Buffalo police officer, fired multiple shots. A bullet hit the gunman’s bulletproof armor but had no effect, Gramaglia said.

The gunman then killed the guard, the commissioner said, then stalked through the store shooting other victims...

There was a "good guy with a gun" at the store, just as the pro-gun advocates say we need to really stop gun violence, but guess what? The mass shooters have access to body armor too, and they plan ahead for that shit. The "good guy with a gun" excuse doesn't work, it never really did. All we have now are just more and more heavily armed people believing they have license to shoot anybody they want.

The shooter also drove over 200 miles, literally going out of his way to find a place where he could find enough targets for his rage to shoot at. This is similar to the shooter who drove eight hours across Texas to attack a Wal-Mart in El Paso.

And much like the mass killer in El Paso, the mass killer in Buffalo was driven by racism, programmed with hateful ideology based on a "Replacement Theory" lie that "Jews and Blacks are going to replace Whites in a massive genocide." Photos of the gunman's assault rifle highlighted the number "14", which refers to the word count of the wingnut motto. Witnesses noticed the N-word painted on the rifle as well. There shouldn't be any confusion about what motivated the mass murderer. Back to the AP article:

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online. The official was not permitted to speak publicly on the matter and did so on the condition of anonymity.

Buffalo police declined to comment on the document, circulated widely online, that purports to outline the attacker’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic beliefs, including a desire to drive all people not of European descent from the U.S. It said he drew inspiration the man who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019...

Each of these mass shooters do not work in a vacuum. They watch others who share the same rage and who share the same bullshit White Power lies. If it's not Christchurch it's getting inspired by the murderer in Norway, or the church shooter in Charleston, or the synagogue shooter in Pittsburgh. These aren't lone wolves: They are part of a global violent movement, raging against the world, feeding off of each other's ill-formed conspiracy junk.

Only it gets worse here in America, because the goddamned Second Amendment is - thanks to an increasingly wingnut Supreme Court - no longer an amendment allowing states to well-regulate their militias, it's become a license for death-worshipping gun nuts to shoot anybody they hate.

And it's worse here in America where we have a Far Right media environment that pumps out that "Replacement Theory" bullshit on a daily basis to where it's programmed White extremists into a conniptic rage. This is an article from last week about Fox Not-News pundit Tucker Carlson (via Cynthia Miller-Idriss at MSNBC):

Before he was indicted on charges of killing 22 people and injuring 26 others in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart in 2019, the identified gunman had been linked to a document posted online that referred to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The motivation behind that horrific incident — that there is an intentional, global plan orchestrated by national and global elites to replace white, Christian, European populations with nonwhite, non-Christian ones — gets at the core of a recent three-part New York Times series on the rise and ideology of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

In part one of the series, journalist Nicholas Confessore describes Carlson’s efforts to stoke “white fear” of immigrants and changing U.S. demographics as “recasting American racism to present white Americans as an oppressed caste.” In so doing, Confessore shows, Carlson has drawn repeatedly on the leading far-right conspiracy theory of demographic change, known as the “great replacement.”

Coined by a French scholar more than a decade ago, the term was quickly taken up globally by white supremacists, for whom the theory now provides a single, overarching framework for ideas that had already been percolating for years. Last September, Media Matters reported that Carlson spent a year embarking on a “dedicated campaign to insert the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory … into mainstream Republican discourse.” Carlson has repeatedly used the language of replacement to suggest or directly argue that Democrats are orchestrating “demographic replacement” to gain political power. The day before the September Media Matters report, Carlson told his viewers that President Joe Biden aimed to “replace ‘legacy Americans’” and “change the racial mix of the country” for political gain... 

It's not just Carlson and Fox Not-News (via a report from the Anti-Defamation League):

One of the most visible Great Replacement propagandists is Fox media personality Tucker Carlson, who claimed during a September 22 broadcast of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the point of Biden’s immigration policy is “to reduce the political power of the people whose ancestors live here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly-arrived from the third world.” He went on to refer to the policy as “The Great Replacement” which he explained is “the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries.”

Carlson’s rhetoric was immediately echoed by U.S. Rep Brian Babin (R-TX-36) in a September 23 Newsmax interview, when he said that Biden and the Democrats are using immigration to "replace the American electorate with a third world electorate."

One day later, Charlie Kirk of the far-right student group Turning Point USA said on his show that Texas should “deputize a citizen force and put them on the border” to protect “white demographics in America.” He added that the left is focused on “bringing in voters that they want, and they like, and honestly, diminishing and decreasing white demographics in America.”

The same day, during an appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show, Tucker Carlson criticized the ADL for calling out his Great Replacement comments and reiterated his view that the Democrats are “going to change the composition of the population and bring in people who will vote for” them.

On September 25, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1) voiced his support for Tucker Carlson and The Great Replacement theory, tweeting, “@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America. The ADL is a racist organization.”

White supremacists celebrate: “We are mainstreaming now...”

All of this talk isn't just talk. It builds up an environment that encourages believers to act out, commit violence towards their targets, justified in their fear and hate that the ones they're killing "deserved" to die. It's known as the George Tiller Effect, where Far Right pundit Bill O'Reilly openly named an abortion doctor often as a threat to the unborn, driving a gunman to kill Tiller in Tiller's own church.

What's happened here - like in El Paso and Charleston and a hundred other racially-motivated mass shootings - is formally known as Stochastic Terrorism: Using a constant barrage of rhetoric and accusations to encourage others to commit violence for your cause. It's stochastic because there's no one specific target named, just a general population to pick and choose, making it "random" enough that the demagogues fueling the rage can claim they weren't responsible. But it's not random, when you look at the bigger picture.

It's still Terrorism: These Far Right White Power wingnuts are convinced they need to kill ethnic minorities, and that they've been given license to do so.

This is the war the Far Right wants: The wingnut pundits and politicians who stoke their audiences to commit acts of insurrection and public displays of violence, they love this shit because they will go onto those Far Right media outlets and actually flip the narrative around to make themselves still be the victims of our outrage while dead bodies pile up in our streets.

They're not even hiding their glee for it anymore.

Goddamn them all.

When, for the Love of God, is someone in our federal government going to recognize these mass shootings are not isolated, they are all part of the same terrorist movement of White Separatist bullshitters, and we need to officially declare them a domestic threat under the Patriot Act? When are we going to admit we're in an actual shooting war with extremists who want to destroy everything a free and diverse America represents?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Update on DeSantis' 2022 Gerrymander of Doom

I mentioned a month ago my rage at Florida Governor DeSantis' heavy-handed gerrymandering effort to skew the Congressional districts so far Republican as to offend common sense. Well, the court matter is moving relatively quickly because a couple days ago a district court smashed DeSantis' map with a sledgehammer (via Mary Ellen Klas at the Tampa Bay Times (paywall)): 

In a swift reversal of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bold political gambit, a Leon County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday threw out the new congressional map drawn by the governor and approved by legislators, ordering a new map drawn by a Harvard expert to be put in place.

Judge Layne Smith, in a ruling from the bench after a four-hour hearing, found DeSantis’ map unconstitutional under the Fair Districts Amendment of the Florida Constitution “because it diminishes the African Americans’ ability to select the representative of their choice.”

Smith, who served in the administration of former Gov. Rick Scott, was appointed to the county bench by Scott and later appointed to the circuit court by DeSantis. He said it would be up to lawmakers to decide if they want to enact a new map when the Legislature convenes for a week-long special session on May 23.

But in an effort to get precincts set for candidates to qualify, he ordered a map drawn by the plaintiffs’ expert, Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere, to replace the one approved by the governor and Legislature...

It should be interesting to note that Smith's place on the bench is due to Republican governors putting him there, and he still noted how racist DeSantis' gerrymandering was. It's also helpful to note that Smith is well aware of the urgency of the matter, bringing in a third party serving the court to make a replacement map should the Florida Legislature refuse to act. Considering the Lege DID have a Congressional map - only for DeSantis to veto it and force his own obviously broken one to replace it - it would be interesting to see if the House and Senate re-pass their original bill and dare DeSantis to veto again.

Back to the report:

Voting rights groups, such as the League of Women Voters of Florida, and individual plaintiffs filed the lawsuit April 22 and asked the court for a temporary injunction and to order the Legislature to redraw a constitutional map.

The plaintiffs argued that the district drawn by the governor’s staff, and approved by the Legislature along mostly partisan lines, violated the provisions that prohibit the state from diminishing the ability of minority voters from electing candidates of their choice.

Smith ultimately agreed.

“I do find persuasive the arguments that were made about the diminishment of African American votes,” Smith said. “...The district that has since been enacted and signed into law by the governor does disperse 367,000 African American votes between four different districts.”

He acknowledged that the governor’s proposed Congressional District 5 may be a more compact district but said it is not in line with the minority voting rights protections in the state Constitution...

However, an attorney for the state, Mohammad Omar Jazil, argued that recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court have restricted the use of race as a guiding factor in redistricting cases.

He said that adhering to the Fair District provisions would not be considered a compelling interest as required in the federal Constitution.

“No court has ever held that complying with a state constitution is a compelling interest,” Jazil said.

However, the plaintiffs countered that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2019 case, Rucho v. Common Cause, that “provisions in state statutes and state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for state courts to apply...”

The Fair District Amendments DO clarify that the districts cannot be drawn to diminish minority voter representation, which is likely the point on which Smith pinned his decision. It should be noted that DeSantis' map also violated another provision in the Amendments saying the districts should not skew favorably to one party over another: Nobody can tell me a "20-Republican to 8-Democrat" map in a state where Republicans and Democrats are near-equal in registered voters is NOT skewed.

As Klas notes in the Times article DeSantis is already planning to appeal, and Judge Smith is expecting that even as he finalizes his court order. By the looks of it, the next stop is the state appellate court and then the Florida Supreme Court (and if DeSantis is really pissed about it, the U.S. Supreme Court).

There is no guarantee that Smith's ruling will stand: The upper state courts are just as stacked with Republican appointees and Federalist Society conservatives, to where they can rule for DeSantis by ignoring or even mis-reading the state constitution and its amendments.

But this is a good sign, that even a Republican-picked judge like Smith said Aw Hell Naw to DeSantis' openly partisan and racist attempt to pack the U.S. Congress with gerrymandered Far Right wingnuts.

Here's hoping THIS Gerrymander dies a quick death. And DeSantis has to choke on eating its remains.

P.S. I hope that Harvard guy Ansolabehere - wait, seriously, Ansola Be Here? - draws up a new Congressional district that includes one district that's No Party Affiliate plurality, just so we can see how fcked up partisan gerrymandering really is.

P.S.S. I shouldn't mock other people's last name. I suffer from that fate myself. Did I ever tell you how one year my high school yearbook added an "h" to the end of my last name? They made me Scottish! The school cafeteria started serving me haggis! I'm with Mike Myers on this: All Scottish cuisine IS based on a dare.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

What To Do When Republicans Kill Roe

Update: With thanks to Tengrain at Crooks & Liars including this article at Mike's Blog Round-Up!

The most likely thing that will happen once Alito's ruling - using the Mississippi anti-abortion law to nuke Roe - from the bench becomes official is that 18 states will automatically trigger abortion bans, with 4 other states implementing severe bans.

After that, the reactions - by both the women suddenly reduced to second-class cattle and the Far Right religious nuts eager to turn them into breeder stock - will get messier.

Anyone hoping for a mass exodus of every woman and girl from ages 13 to 40 fleeing the Red States will have to think again. While it makes the most sense - "Get the HELL out before they harm you!" is the most logical move to make - the sheer logistics of it can't happen. Too many women will be tied down, either for personal reasons (family), financial reasons (too poor), or age (too young). A number of women could flee - either with family living in pro-choice states that can take them in, or with high-enough job skills to relocate for employment - but it will be in the hundreds, not hundreds of thousands.

These Republican-controlled states are already passing legislation punishing pregnant women if they try to leave their states. Wanna guess how quickly those states will pass laws stopping women of child-bearing age from traveling at all to keep them in one place?

One thing that should happen once the states nullify Roe is that women should say goodbye to the dating scene. I'm not being flippant here or throwing out a Lysistrata gambit as a lark. This is a genuine concern. ANY social interaction with men is going to lead to a risk of pregnancy, even when the sex is consensual. Relying on birth control is not an option, especially when you see these Republican bastards are going after IUDs and condoms and birth control pills next. 

I do worry that this will give the prudes among the Far Right some enjoyment in seeing the Hookup Culture take a severe blow, but desperate times desperate measures. Ladies, you simply cannot risk a social life that could end up with you enduring a pregnancy you can't afford and could kill you.

I'm serious: Pregnancy mortality in the United States is horrifying. Increasing those mortality numbers through forced-birth - especially in matters of ectopic pregnancies - is a given at this point. 

The only way to survive this attack on your personal well-being right now is to just cut off the social stuff with guys. Uninstall the dating apps. No more speed dating or lock and key parties. Stay home. Watch movies with your girlfriends. Zoom chat while hanging out with your pets. Start up gaming nights on your XBoxes and Playstations, private teams, no boys allowed. Blow shit up on Call Of Duty, and avoid calling David for a quick one.

On the bright side, the end of Ladies' Nights at the college bars is going to drive a lot of conservative young men fratbros out of their goddamned minds.

On a more serious note, the dangers of sexual assault and rape are going to go up. Hell, a number of these rapists out there are going to view the end of Roe - especially as these states get rid of any abortion exemptions for rape victims - as a license to go wild. What we know about rapists is how they tend to view women as things, as objects, and the way that the Far Right is banning abortion rights for women is basically turning the entire gender into cattle, dehumanized and easily targeted by men who enjoy the power and pain they inflict. 

It hasn't been safe at all for young women in our world: the threat of rape is always there. But now it's going to get worse. In some respects, fleeing is the only rational response to all of this: There's only so much protective measures like traveling in groups and learning self-defense fighting can do. But again, Gods help us too many poor women can't afford to flee, and too many teen girls don't have the freedom to make that call. They're going to have to rely on their parents to get them to safety, and again not all of them can (or worse, the parents are too Far Right and anti-abortionist to care).

The only other rational response to the end of Roe ought to be a massive voter realignment among women - and among the men who agree women should have the rights of privacy and equality under the Constitution - away from the wingnut Republicans who caused all this chaos and despair. It would be pretty to watch as every unregistered woman 18 and older head to the nearest place with voter registration forms and sign up to be Democratic voters. It would be nice to see any registered No-Party or even pro-choice Republicans re-apply their voter IDs and switch to Dem. One hopes that the number of angered, eager pro-choice voters reaches levels even in Red states that would flip control from Republican to Democrat, and that the new Democratic majorities at the state level would rewrite the laws to give women back their power of choice.

Thing is, in the week we've learned that the Supreme Court is poised to end Roe and abortion rights for women, there hasn't been a noticeable stampede of angry women or angry voters filling out registration forms. It's likely that most of our fellow citizens, even young women, may well be worried about this loss of personal rights: It's just they won't do anything about it until it directly affects them (Abortion as an issue being, well, Someone Else's Problem). Sad thing is, by the time they will be affected by this, and by all the other privacy rights the wingnuts are about to eliminate, it'll be too late.

The rights pertaining to abortion choice rely a lot on the due process rights of the 14th Amendment and the privacy rights of the 9th. Once the Far Right has a way to cut away one of those rights, they'll be able to cut away all the others. People need to understand that risk, and they ought to be registering to vote to get those Republicans the hell out of elected office to stop them from dragging our nation into the firepits of our worst historical behaviors.

It'll be a fight these midterms because the Republicans in power have already made efforts to rig the upcoming elections results anyway to favor themselves. The only way to beat them is with massive voter turnout against them.

Please wake up and fight back, Americans.

It's not just women's rights that are getting killed here. It's all of our rights on the chopping block.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

George Perez Drew ALL The Superheroes. Seriously. On One Panel.

Not in the mood to announce this, not on Free Comic Book Day (first Saturday of the month of May), but saw this on Twitter just a few hours ago:

I've mentioned George Perez once or twice, running into him at the local Comic Cons between Tampa and Orlando. If not on this blog at least on my librarian/writer's blog over here.

When I seriously got into comic books as a teen, it was at a pivotal moment in the industry as the two major publishers - DC and Marvel - were beginning to straighten out their respective universes and provide better continuity - an accurate and faithful history - to avoid all the narrative confusion that had begun piling up since the 1960s.

In particular, DC Comics - which had multiple Earths to deal with the all the convoluted storylines that were adding up since 1938 - decided to do a 50th anniversary mini-series to streamline everything into one 'Verse. Called Crisis on Infinite Earths, it killed off various major characters, got rid of the multiverse in favor of one Earth, and rebooted everything to fit modern times.

None of it stuck, of course. The need for multiple storylines in order to tell tales that wouldn't conflict with the main 'Verse - DC tried Elseworlds stand-alone issues for awhile - overwhelmed the intent. But at the time it was grand storytelling, one of the classics in all of comic book history.

One of the reasons the work is held in high esteem even 35 years later - oy - was the brilliant artwork drawn by George Perez. One of the biggest in-demand artists of his day, known for not only believably-drawn figures but also for incredibly detailed line work, Perez drew some of the most famous images in the comics medium:

The cover of Issue #7,
the Death of Supergirl.

Above all, Perez was famous for drawing Crowd Scenes: Piling in as many figures - heroes, villains, bystanders - as possible within the frame to imply an intense, overwhelming moment. In that cover above, he inserted every major and minor superhero of the DC Universe into the background, each of them conveying personal shock at the loss of their friend.

Such work made him high-demand between both DC and Marvel, so much so that he had to take breaks every so often because his wrists would need splints and rest. But when it came to one of the biggest events of all time - an official Justice League/Avengers crossover, decades in the planning - he was the only artist qualified to draw it.

JLA/Avengers alternate cover #3 in 2003.
Perez drew 208 (!) characters from both 'Verses.
When he finished this he had to rest for THREE MONTHS to recover.

There were few artists of his era - Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, maybe - who could draw with that level of detail. There are few artists today who could dare match it - Phil Jimenez his most obvious successor - in terms of such overwhelming scope.

There have been other great artists over the decades - many popular, many with long, heralded careers - each of them who provided impact and inspiration to graphic artists everywhere. Neal Adams for example, who also just recently passed, was highly praised for his shaded, emotive work. But NONE of them had the impact or influence that Perez had to the fanbase.

The MMO superhero game City of Heroes named an entire city zone - Perez Park - in his honor. When I got the game in 2004 and saw it on the game map I squeed.

I'd actually met him a few times at the local Comic Cons. The first time I'd met him, he was a guest of honor at a new comic book store opening in Palm Harbor. I think it was in 1989, maybe 1988, it was when they were about to redo Wonder Girl's origins (again) and I had a question or two about it. He was friendly and helpful, explaining why they were rebooting her origins - in reaction to some of the changes made in Crisis the year before - and also helped correct a character's name for me. I was mispronouncing Lilith's name wrong.

Last time I saw him in person was 2013, at Tampa Bay Comic Con:

He always worn that shirt or something similar ever since I met him in that Palm Harbor store, it's blurry but it was made up of art panels he'd drawn over the years.

Perez revealed back in 2019 that he was retiring for health reasons, and it came out a little later that it was terminal cancer. He wasn't going to fight it, but take palliative treatment to cope with the pain. Even though the fanbase - and his fellow artists and writers - were prepared for this moment, I guarantee you this is a huge blow to everyone this weekend.

They're planning a memorial for George Perez at Orlando MegaCon this May 22nd. I wasn't planning on going - I'm still wary of COVID super-spreader locations - but I might now.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

It's Cinco De Mayo 2022 and Where the HELL Are My Taco Trucks???

You know, we're two years in to Joe Biden's legitimately won Presidency, and it's May 5th which makes it CINCO DE MAYO, and yet I am utterly pissed off right now.

I mean, in 2016 the trumpian assholes declared that if Hillary would win the election, there would be and I quote "TACO TRUCKS ON EVERY CORNER." And this was a good idea, this was tempting, and goddammit not enough of us voted for Hillary to make it happen.

What I said back then:

Just think of the economic benefits of having taco trucks on every corner! No, this is serious! Food truck service is actually a smart investment in the right markets!

Hell, give me the seed money right now! Lemme go start my own taco truck service!

But now we got Democrat Joe Biden in charge, and yet we're STILL WAITING ON THOSE TACO TRUCKS!!!

Where's the funding, Joe? WHERE'S THE SBA GRANTS FOR TACO TRUCKS?!

How the HELL are we going to be able to effectively celebrate General Zaragoza's incredible victory over invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla? We need those taco trucks, we need the beer license to sell Mexican brands! 




Tuesday, May 03, 2022

What Is Actually In the Upcoming SCOTUS Ruling to Overturn Roe

I'm not a legal scholar, merely a political history amateur, so I should refer to others will legal backgrounds have their say on what they've noticed in the leaked rough draft.

Here's Paul Campos at Lawyers Guns and Money giving his two cents

(2) The hypocrisy of the Furious Five in regard to the issue of democratic legitimacy is something to behold. The overwhelming majority of the public supports legal abortion in most circumstances — to the Great Unwashed the question of whether Roe should have been overruled and the question of whether abortion should be legal is of course the same question — but in a few weeks abortion is going to be illegal in much of the United States because it’s a Republic Not a Democracy. What that means in practice is that a distinct minority of religious fanatics, white supremacists, and super fans of the patriarchy (but I repeat myself) will get to make abortion illegal, despite an overwhelming national consensus against doing so, because our political system is set up to empower those people far beyond what power they would have in anything resembling an actual democracy...

(3) Speaking of which, the most emetic portions of Alito’s little Schoolhouse Rock sermon were the bits where he claimed that the Dobbs majority was taking no position on the substantive question of whether or not abortion should be legal. Sure Sammy. So when the radically anti-democratic [see (2) above] GOP trifecta makes abortion illegal across the entire nation in three years or so, you’ll be striking that anti-federalist overreach down, right? Oh I thinks not...

Here's Ian Millhiser at Vox to give some understanding:

1) This is a maximalist opinion

For many years, largely as a bid to convince the relatively moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy to permit as many abortion restrictions as possible, many abortion opponents did not explicitly ask the Supreme Court to overrule Roe. Instead, they urged the Court to uphold restrictions that would make it so difficult or expensive to operate an abortion clinic that facilities in anti-abortion states would simply shut down.

But Kennedy is no longer on the Court. And Jackson already achieved the goal of permitting states to shut down abortion clinics by imposing such severe costs on those clinics that they could not remain open. There’s only one more frontier left for abortion opponents to cross: a Supreme Court decision explicitly overruling Roe. And Alito’s opinion skips gleefully across that frontier.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito claims in the draft opinion, which holds “that Roe and Casey must be overruled...”

4) If Alito prevails, abortion will swiftly be illegal in at least 18 states

At least 18 states currently have total or near-total abortion bans on the books. Some of these laws were enacted before Roe was decided, while others were enacted more recently. Some of these laws contain narrow exceptions to protect individuals who need an abortion to save their life or to avoid a permanent disability, but not all contain exceptions for non-life-threatening medical conditions. Some of these bans will also forbid abortion even when a pregnancy results from rape...

If Roe is overruled, many of these laws will take effect immediately. Others will take effect days, weeks, or perhaps a month after Roe is overruled. But, by the end of the summer, it is likely they will be in full effect...

Here's Mary Ziegler at The Atlantic (paywalled):

Something fundamental about the Supreme Court has changed in recent months. It is not simply that the Court has a conservative supermajority, although that is true enough. What is really striking is just how emboldened that conservative supermajority is—how willing to take on a number of deeply divisive culture-war issues; how blasé about making major decisions via the Court’s shadow docket; how open to making rapid, profound changes to long-standing precedent. Last night, when Politico released a leaked February draft of an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito that would reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision recognizing the right to choose abortion, the public got its most arresting taste thus far of just what this conservative bloc could do...

...The draft claims that the justices cannot predict the consequences of their actions and, even if such a prediction were possible, shouldn’t care what the public thinks anyway. The job of the Supreme Court, Alito suggests in the draft, is to say what the law is, not to care about what the people think, much less what the people think the Constitution means...

That the conservative majority could make such an argument—that it could believe such an idea—is a product of America’s grievous polarization. This majority knows that it will be celebrated by the conservative legal movement and the leaders of the Republican Party...

But even so, the speed with which this conservative majority is moving to reverse Roe is astonishing. The Court did not have to take this case—the lower courts had not split on the constitutionality of 15-week bans. The anti-abortion-rights movement had not invested much in such laws, which did not make for an especially strong case against abortion rights. The conservative majority is not going to sit around and wait; nothing about this seems particularly hard for these justices. No soul-searching was required.

This is the kind of draft that comes from that sense of certainty. It suggests that there can be no right to abortion because states were criminalizing abortion when the relevant constitutional provision, the Fourteenth Amendment, was ratified. Though the draft stresses that other precedents are not on the chopping block, it’s unclear why that would be: The same logic applies to same-sex intimacy and contraception, which were being outlawed at roughly the same time.

The draft concludes that this issue should be decided by voters, not justices, but—and this is subtle but quite significant—it also distinguishes abortion from other rights the Court has protected by stressing the value of fetal life. If this language is in the final opinion, it will be read by anti-abortion-rights leaders as an invitation to return to the Court and ask the conservative justices to hold that the Constitution recognizes the personhood of the fetus—and that abortion is unconstitutional in blue as well as red states. If the Court goes that route, the issue will be far, far out of the hands of voters in all states for a very long time to come...

In short: America is going backwards, the Republican minority control of our nation is going to make things worse, and the only recourse is for a supermajority of American voters even in the Red states to rise up and kick Republican officials out of elected office before it's too late.