Monday, September 20, 2021

Last Call For The Road To Gilead, Con't

The Texas Functional Abortion Ban is highly unpopular among Americans, as you might expect.

Key aspects of the new Texas law restricting access to abortions receive a thumbs down from a broad majority of Americans, especially the so-called “bounty” payment provision. The latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds public approval of the U.S. Supreme Court has dipped in the past five years while most Americans support keeping access to abortion legal and do not want the nation’s highest court to revisit the Roe v. Wade decision.

A majority of the public (54%) disagrees with the Supreme Court allowing the Texas law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks to go into effect. Another 39% of Americans agree with the court. Most Democrats (73%) disagree with the decision while most Republicans (62%) agree. Democrats (77%) and independents (61%) are more likely than Republicans (47%) to say they have heard a lot about this new law.

Two unique provisions of the Texas law are broadly opposed by the public. Seven in ten Americans (70%) disapprove of allowing private citizens to use lawsuits to enforce this law rather than having government prosecutors handle these cases. Additionally, 8 in 10 Americans (81%) disapprove of giving $10,000 to private citizens who successfully file suits against those who perform or assist a woman with getting an abortion. The vast majority of Democrats and independents oppose both provisions. Republicans are split on having private citizens enforce the law (46% approve and 41% disapprove), but most GOP identifiers (67%) take a negative view of the $10,000 payment aspect.

“The American public is largely pro-choice, although many would accept some limitations on abortion access. This Texas law goes way too far for most people. The ‘bounty’ aspect in particular seems objectionable,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 6 in 10 Americans say abortion should be always legal (33%) or legal with some limitations (29%). Another 24% say it should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life and 11% say it should always be illegal. These results are nearly identical to a Monmouth poll taken two years ago. There is a slight gender difference in support for legal access to abortion, but this is primarily among people of color – 76% of women compared with 51% of men in these demographic groups support legalized abortion. Among non-Hispanic white Americans, 61% of women and 63% of men are in support.

Similarly, 62% of Americans say the Supreme Court should leave the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as it is while just 31% want to see the decision revisited. Among those who support legal abortion access, 20% support revisiting Roe and 76% are opposed. Among those who want to make all or most abortions illegal, 51% support revisiting Roe and 40% are opposed.

“For most Americans, including many of those who support restricting abortion access, Roe v. Wade should be considered settled law. We’ll probably see in the next year whether a majority of the Supreme Court agrees,” said Murray.
Of course, the only poll that matters is what five of nine Supreme Court Justices are willing to state. The Roberts Court will hear Mississippi's abortion case -- setting up the very possible end of Roe and safe abortion access for more than half of American states -- on December 1.
The Supreme Court will hear a case concerning a Mississippi abortion law on December 1, the court announced on Monday, teeing up one of the most substantial cases of the term in which the justices are being asked to overturn Roe v. Wade
The Mississippi case -- the most important set of abortion-related oral arguments the court has heard since 1992 -- comes as states across the country, emboldened by the conservative majority and the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, are increasingly passing restrictive abortion-related regulations, hoping to curb the constitutional right first established in 1973 in Roe and reaffirmed in 1992 when the court handed down Planned Parenthood v. Casey
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. 
Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, passed in 2018 but blocked by two federal courts, allows abortion after 15 weeks "only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality" and has no exception for rape or incest. If doctors perform abortions outside the parameters of the law they will have their medical licenses suspended or revoked and may be subject to additional penalties and fines. 
In a brief filed in July, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, argued that Roe v. Wade was "egregiously wrong" and should be overturned. 
"The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition" Fitch told the justices. 
Except, you know, 45+ years of precedent by this very Supreme Court. Unfortunately the court has been whittling away at it all my life, and it looks like the last few strands will be cut away in June 2022.

It remains that the argument that both Texas and Mississippi want to use to allow individual states to void abortion can be used to void just about all other civil rights enshrined since 1962. We'll be right back to the bad old days, and I don't think enough people realize this yet.

Getting rid of safe access to abortion is the beginning of the road to Gilead, not the end.

The Big Lie, Con't

This month's Bob Woodward/Robert Costa Trump book "Peril" continues to be a hot property in pundit circles because of the salaciousness of Tang the Conqueror's final few months, but as Greg Sargent points out, the book also details the efforts by the Trump GOP to explicitly use loopholes in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to have VP Mike Pence openly steal the 2020 election.

The revelations come from the new book “Peril,” by The Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The headline: Two GOP senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah — took Trump’s lies about election fraud seriously enough to devote real resources to vetting them.

But for our purposes, the more important revelation involves how those lies were supposed to interlock with the broader scheme cooked up by Trump and his co-conspirators.

The key takeaway: Gaping holes in the Electoral Count Act — the 1887 law that governs how Congress counts electoral college votes — were central to the chances that their scheme might succeed.

The book recounts that four days before Jan. 6 — when Congress counts the electoral votes — Lee received a White House memo outlining how Vice President Pence could scuttle the process.

Because Republicans in several swing states had voted to send sham electors for Trump to Congress, it argued, Pence could simply set aside the actual electors from those states for President Biden. Both sets would be invalid, and Pence could count the remaining electors, designating Trump winner of a majority of them.

Though the memo ultimately advised against this process, it did suggest it as a potential option. And it did recommend that Pence use objections by GOP lawmakers to Biden’s electors to delay the process. The book reports that Pence explored this idea before rejecting it.

Let’s be clear: The fact that these ideas were considered this seriously was made possible in part by the absurd ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act, or ECA.

First, because the ECA provides that a state can appoint new electors if the election “failed” — which is defined very vaguely — the idea was to use “election fraud” lies to declare that popular voting “failed” to render a clear outcome. GOP legislatures could then appoint electors for Trump, regardless of their state’s popular votes.

Second, because the ECA makes it easy for Congress to object to electors — only one lawmaker from each chamber can force votes on whether to count them — the idea was to get congressional Republicans to invalidate Biden’s electors in key states. Trump would prevail with a majority of remaining electors.

Third, because the ECA does not clearly define the vice president’s role (as president of the Senate) as purely ceremonial, the idea was to get Pence to somehow rule in favor of the objections to electors, or at least to delay the count.

That would either result in Trump prevailing with a majority of electors, or buy enough time for GOP legislatures to send rogue electors. Remember, getting Pence to rig or delay the count was precisely what Trump incited the Jan. 6 mob to accomplish.

In a great new draft paper, election law scholar Richard L. Hasen warns that we face “serious risk” of “election subversion” or an “actual stolen election.” Hasen discusses reforms that could avert such scenarios, which will also be the topic of a conference on Friday.

In the last election, no GOP legislature appointed rogue electors, a majority of Congress voted to uphold Biden’s electors, and Pence ultimately backed away from the plot. But some GOP legislators did consider this scheme, around 150 congressional Republicans did vote to subvert Biden’s electors, and Pence did explore the outer limits of what he might do for Trump.
It certainly looks like the sole reason we're not stuck in a successful Trump coup right now is because Mike Pence got cold feet.  There's not any doubt anymore that this was Trump's plan since November 6th and Pence failed to execute.

That's it. The Republic was spared because Pence is a coward.

Needless to say, the Dems have to fix the ECA or Trump (or worse) will steal the election in 2024. They continue to set the stage for doing just that well ahead of the next election.

The Wisconsin Republican leading the state’s partisan inquiry into the 2020 election results on Monday warned election clerks that they would face subpoenas if they did not cooperate and defended the investigation’s legitimacy by declaring that he was not seeking to overturn President Biden’s victory in the state.

“We are not challenging the results of the 2020 election,” Michael Gableman, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice overseeing the investigation, argued in a video posted on YouTube. The inquiry, he said, “may include a vigorous and comprehensive audit if the facts that are discovered justify such a course of action.”

The video from Mr. Gableman comes after he and Wisconsin’s Republican legislative leaders have faced increasing criticism from both their party’s far-right and from Democrats. The right has accused Mr. Gableman of not doing enough to push lies about the 2020 election propagated by former President Donald J. Trump. Democrats have painted the $680,000 inquiry into the election as a waste of state resources and a distraction from other needed business.

Mr. Gableman was assigned to look into Mr. Trump’s false claims that the state’s election was stolen from him by Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, nearly three months ago. The five-minute video released Monday was the first extensive public statement Mr. Gableman has made outlining the scope and aim of his investigation.

The Republicans’ continuing effort to re-examine the 2020 results in Wisconsin comes as Trump allies elsewhere have gone to great lengths to undermine Mr. Biden’s victory. Arizona Republicans are near the end of a monthslong review of ballots in Maricopa County. Pennsylvania Republicans last week approved subpoenas for driver’s license and partial Social Security numbers for every voter in the state. And 18 states, including Texas this month, have passed laws this year adding new voting restrictions.

In recent weeks, Trump-allied conservatives in Wisconsin have shown public frustration at the pace and transparency of Mr. Gableman’s investigation. This month, a group led by David A. Clarke Jr., a former Milwaukee County sheriff who has been a prominent purveyor of false claims about the election, held a rally at the State Capitol in Madison to protest what it argued was insufficient devotion by Mr. Gableman and the state’s Republican leaders to challenging the 2020 results.

Mr. Gableman said on Monday that his investigation would require the municipal officials who operate Wisconsin’s elections to prove that voting was conducted properly. He said local clerks would be required to obey any subpoenas he might issue.

Election clerks in Milwaukee and Green Bay ignored previous subpoenas issued by the Republican chairwoman of the Assembly’s elections committee for ballots and voting machines. Mr. Vos had declined to approve those subpoenas.

“The responsibility to demonstrate that our elections were conducted with fairness, inclusivity and accountability is on the government and on the private, for-profit interests that did work for the government,” Mr. Gableman said. “The burden is not on the people to show in advance of an investigation that public officials and their contractors behaved dishonestly.”
Two important points here.
First, the declaration that Wisconsin Republicans "aren't trying to overturn Biden's election" is important in the context that the goal is 2022 and especially 2024.

Second, good government practices or not, the assumption that election officials in a state must prove they held the election and tabulated the results fairly, that is, the burden of proof is on election officials to prove they did not cheat, is wildly destructive, anti-democratic and authoritarian. It's the kind of things dictators say right before they suspend such elections as "corrupt" and seize power.

To start at "Elections are rigged" as a social construct is one thing. To do that as a legal maxim, well, that's how you end up not being a modern democracy anymore.

The Suppuration Of Church And Trump

There's little evidence that Trumpism is driving away American evangelical Christians, who still make up a solid one-quarter of Americans, but at least some of them are openly talking about the fact maybe Trump isn't the best spokesman for that whole Jesus forgiveness thing.

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

What they're saying: Blake Chastain, the Exvangelical podcaster who's also credited with starting the use of the hashtag #exvangelical, tells Axios that, in the old days, people "might meet at a bar and speak in hushed tones about 'how weird that church was.’” Now, Chastain said, those kinds of discussions are far more public and ripple across larger networks of people because of social media.

What we're watching: There's a growing subculture of the "deconstructed" — a buzzword with a range of meanings, from stepping back from a certain kind of Christian culture or politics, to leaving organized religion altogether. 
Instagram accounts like "Dirty Rotten Church Kids” and "Your Favorite Heretics" are providing an online community for those questioning or rejecting the evangelical church tradition. Podcasts including Exvangelical, Almost Heretical and Straight White American Jesus are garnering big followings.Google searches for "religious trauma" and "exvangelical" are on the rise, according to Google Trends.

How we got here: There were always diverse views among evangelicals, but "Trump's four years in the White House made painfully clear just how deep these divisions ran," said author Kristin Du Mez. 
Du Mez wrote the 2020 book "Jesus and John Wayne," which chronicles ideas about masculinity in the white Evangelical church and politics. It has sold more than 100,000 copies. The differences within evangelicalism "can no longer be papered over with the kind of religious language of 'we're all in this together,'" Du Mez told Axios.

By the numbers: About a quarter of Americans describe themselves as evangelical protestants — that's tens of millions of people — according to polling by Pew Research Center. 
14% are white evangelicals, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, and the evangelical population grew among white Americans over the past four years.
There's no concrete data on the size or demographics of the exvangelical population, or how fast it's growing. There’s also no data that would quantify how much of that movement has been driven by opposition to Trump, versus other political and cultural trends.

In the past five years, the white evangelical church in America has faced its own MeToo movement (#churchtoo) and massive cultural shifts in its pews over LGBTQ rights and systemic racism.
I've talked before how religious affiliation in America is stalling out, especially among younger Millennials and Zoomers.  There are a lot more people willing to admit in America these days that they are non-affiliated, agnostic (like myself), or completely atheist.

It's good to see that people are joining churches in order to advance civil and human rights, and it's also kind of sad to see people leaving religions because they realize the people in charge of those religions are wholly uninterested in religious inclusiveness. Then again, it's not like that hasn't been a major problem with organized religions for the last couple millennia or so.

Still, if the numbers aren't concrete, it means that the inflow and outflow are close enough that one isn't overpowering the other, and considering how much damage white evangelicals do in general, I'm okay with that.


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