The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Thoughts about Jackson Women's Health

Even though the Court probably won't release its ruling in the Mississippi anti-abortion bill until June, just about everyone has the same understanding about how it will turn out. No one seems to believe abortion will remain legal in much of the US beyond the end of this term. My guess: Justice Amy Coney Barrett (R) writing the opinion for a 5-4 Court with an unusual number of concurrences and dissents.

If the Court overturns or significantly curtails Roe v Wade, it will be one of the rare times that the Court has taken away a right. For all of the Republican Justices' and Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart's positioning that Roe was wrongly decided just like Plessy or Dred Scott, their analogy breaks down when you observe that in those two other cases, the Court also removed the existing rights of a living human being under state sanction.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh (R) got halfway to the fundamental problem with abortion law when he observed (at 106):

[T]he problem, I think ... and the reason this issue is hard, is that you can't accommodate both interests. You have to pick. That's the fundamental problem. And one interest has to prevail over the other at any given point in time, and that's why this is so challenging, I think.

Except he's full or shit. Courts decide where to draw the line between competing interests all the time. That's the point of courts, and the point of Roe v Wade. Justice Kavanaugh means rather that the court can't resolve absolute interests. If you believe, as the Catholics on the Court believe, that life begins at conception—that is, it's an article of religious faith for you—then abortion is anathema.

But if you believe, as the vast majority of the American people believe, that life begins at some point after conception but before birth, then you have to weigh the mother's life and liberty against the potential life of the lump of cells in her uterus.

If the Court overturns Roe, abortion will become immediately illegal or heavily restricted in 26 states, and may soon be curtailed in several others. Wisconsin, Arizona, and Michigan all have existing anti-abortion statutes that would return to full effect were Roe overturned.

The silver lining to the dark cloud of thousands of women being condemned to poverty, injury, or death because the state forces them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term? The Court will have to decide this case before the end of June, four months before the 2022 Congressional elections, as well as gubernatorial elections in the aforementioned Wisconsin and Michigan.

Finally, keep in mind that the Right has clear goals in the US and in every other democracy they're attacking: authoritarian rule that allows the rulers to pillage the ruled. Undermining trust in institutions is part of their strategy. And as Justice Sonia Sotomayor (I) asked rhetorically yesterday (at 15), "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?" Well, no, as anyone who has studied history can tell you.

And America takes one more step toward the Rubicon.

More reactions from NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist, the Guardian UK, SCOTUSblogDana Milibank, author Mary Ziegler, Billie Jean King, and to see where the Right gets their talking points, the Heritage Foundation.

Default judgement against Alex Jones

Few people in the history of broadcasting have managed the heights of soulless putrefaction that Alex Jones has achieved, and I'm including Father Coughlin and that German guy who opened the 1936 Olympic Games. Jones, I would argue, has even less moral fiber than those other two, because he does it all for profit, to such an extent that he would rather take a multi-million-dollar legal loss on the chin than reveal anything about how his broadcast business actually works:

Conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones, who claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a "giant hoax," was found liable Monday for damages in lawsuits brought by parents of children killed in the shooting.

Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step of defaulting Jones in the defamation lawsuits for his and his company's “failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims.” The default means the judge found in favor of the parents and will hold a hearing on how much damages he should pay.

"While the families are grateful for the Court’s ruling, they remain focused on uncovering the truth," Chris Mattei, an attorney representing the families that sued Jones, said in a statement Monday.

"As the Court noted, Alex Jones and his companies have deliberately concealed evidence of the relationship between what they publish and how they make money. Mr. Jones was given every opportunity to comply but, when he chose instead to withhold evidence for more than two years, the Court was left with no choice but to rule as it did today. While today’s ruling is a legal victory, the battle to shed light on how deeply Mr. Jones has harmed these families continues."

A jury will be convened to decide how much Jones will pay Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, and Scarlett Lewis, the mother of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, their lawyers at the Texas law firm Farrar & Ball said.

Noah and Jesse were two of the 20 first-graders killed when a gunman barged into the school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 and opened fire with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle. Six school staffers were also killed.

Good. They'd never put me on that jury, but oh, wouldn't that be fun.

On the road again

I'm leaving the country today, for the first time in almost exactly two years, and I couldn't be happier. I miss my Ancestral Homeland. And the list of Covid-related travel requirements, while annoying, make sense to me. In fact, because I return Sunday, I timed my (£39 FFS!) UK 2-day test to double as my US 3-day test.

Before I take off, and consign poor Cassie to 103 hours of desperate loneliness (albeit with her entire daycare pack), I want to comment on two news stories.

First, the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society has temporarily waived adoption fees because adoptions have declined 33% in the past three months. "The rescue organization is housing and caring for more than 420 animals and has 140 animals in foster care," Block Club Chicago reports. I foresaw this at the beginning of the pandemic: people feeling lonely and isolated adopting pets that they wouldn't want when the pandemic started to wane. It really pisses me off, but after all, we live in a selfish, consumerist society that views dogs and cats as disposable.

Second, the New York Times reported Monday on how President Biden's infrastructure bill will help Chicago's West Side—but thanks to conservatives in the party scything away hunks of it, it won't help enough:

[T]he protracted negotiations over both spending packages have forced Democrats to cut several initiatives partly or entirely: tuition-free community college, a clean energy standard to combat climate change, billions of dollars for affordable housing assistance and measures to lower the price of prescription drugs.

Places like the West Side may still receive record amounts of federal assistance. But the tug of war leading up to Friday’s passage of the infrastructure bill — and still looming as Congress awaits a vote on the $1.85 trillion social-safety-net package — has delayed the party from what may be an even bigger challenge: selling the investments to voters.

Another issue being closely watched by Chicago community groups, an initiative to replace lead service lines that can cause toxic drinking water, will receive $15 billion in the infrastructure bill and could get another $10 billion in the social-safety-net package, according to environmental groups that have negotiated with lawmakers. That is well short of the $60 billion sought by industry experts and the $45 billion Mr. Biden originally proposed.

I get that legislation takes time, and when your party has a majority of exactly one—and that one is the Vice President—you won't get everything you want. But if Republicans would remember that they represent Americans and not just other Republicans, maybe we could have done better.

All right. Off to the longest doggie day care Cassie has ever experienced...

Slouching towards fascism

The software release yesterday that I thought might be exciting turned out to be fairly boring, which was a relief. Today I'm looking through an ancient data set of emails sent to and from some white-collar criminals, which is annoying only because there are millions and I have to write some parsing tools for them.

So while I'm decompressing the data set, I'll amuse myself with these articles, from least to most frightening:

Whee! WinZip has finished decompressing all 517,000 files. Now to write a parser...

About Virginia

I'm not even a little surprised that Republican Glenn Youngkin beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Viriginia governor's race last night. The margin of 80,000 votes is just over 2% of the vote, so Youngkin can't exactly claim he won in a landslide. And, let's face it, President Biden doesn't exactly have Obama levels of popularity today. (He's still more popular than the last guy. And Gerald Ford.)

I worked in Virginia for six months in 2003, and I can tell you most of the state has, shall I say, not quite progressive politics.

Ross Douthat believes some of McAuliffe's problems come from the way he failed to address the popular—if inaccurate—perceptions of the latest boogeyman on the Right, "critical race theory." Since no one really knows what CRT actually is, Youngkin had no trouble banging that drum to scare all the suburban women that he handily shifted to his side in the last six weeks.

As for the president's agenda, as long as 52 senators want to stop him from doing anything in his first term, he can't get it done. The slave-owning Southerners who wrote the Constitution, particularly the ones from Virginia, designed the Federal government to do as little as possible.

We're five years in to historical political unrest and division in the United States, which I suppose was the Karmic balancingof the Cubs winning the World Series. The last time the US went through this much turmoil, we got the Civil Rights Act. But the time before, we got a Civil War.

Finally, let me grab a few grafs from Chris Cillizza on what CRT actually means:

For the record, here's what critical race theory actually is -- courtesy of Education Week:

"Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. ... A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas."

And here's another helpful explainer via Brookings:

"CRT does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire groups of people. Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race."

The basic idea is that racism is systemic in many of the institutions of America -- and that by acknowledging that reality, we can work to overcome it.

Yeah, wow, I'd hate to teach children that...

Where did Monday go?

I'm troubled not only that it's already November but also that it's already 5pm. I've been heads-down coding all day and I've got a dress rehearsal tonight. I did, at least, flag these for later:

OK, 30 minutes more coding, then off to the Kehrein Center for our final rehearsal before Sunday's performance.

Weekend reading

As the last workday in October draws to a close, in all its rainy gloominess, I have once again spent all day working on actually coding stuff and not reading these articles:

Finally, a 97-year-old billionaire has given $240 million to UC Santa Barbara on the condition they build a 4500-room dormitory so awful (think Geidi Prime) the school's consulting architect resigned.

How is it 9pm already?

Quick hit list of stuff I didn't find time to read:

Finally, Alexandra Petri guesses about the books that Republican candidate for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin might put on your kid's AP curriculum.

Evening reading

I was pretty busy today, with most of my brain trying to figure out how to re-architect something that I didn't realize needed it until recently. So a few things piled up in my inbox:

And finally, Whisky Advocate has four recipes that balance whisky and Luxardo Maraschino cherries. I plan to try them all, but not in one sitting.