Thursday, June 30, 2022

A Supreme Extreme Green Dream, Machine Cleaned

As largely expected, the Roberts Court has obliterated the EPA's authority over power plant emissions, saying that even the Trump Regime's industry-friendly measures went too far, let alone the old Obama power plant regs that were nuked in 2016.

The Supreme Court on Thursday sharply cut back the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce the carbon output of existing power plants, a blow to the nation’s chances of averting catastrophic climate change.

The vote was 6 to 3, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the court’s conservatives.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’ ” Roberts wrote, referring to a court precedent. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme.”

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, countered: “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

The decision risks putting the United States even further off track from President Biden’s goal of running the U.S. power grid on clean energy by 2035 — and making the entire economy carbon-neutral by 2050.

With higher seas, fiercer wildfires and other consequences of climate change apparent, the world is already in unprecedented territory. Biden hoped to lead by example to convince other countries to cut emissions and help the world keep warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Now such diplomacy has become more difficult for Biden, especially as countries scramble for new sources of oil and gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan called Thursday’s ruling “another devastating decision from the court that aims to take our country backwards.” Biden, he added, “will not relent in using the authorities that he has under law to protect public health and tackle the climate change crisis.”

“Our lawyers will study the ruling carefully and we will find ways to move forward under federal law,” Hasan said. “At the same time, Congress must also act to accelerate America’s path to a clean, healthy, secure energy future.”

The court was considering the powers granted by the Clean Air Act, which was written decades ago, before climate change was widely recognized as a worldwide crisis.

Environmentalists were alarmed by the court’s decision.

Richard Lazarus, a Harvard environmental law professor, said that by insisting that an agency “can promulgate an important and significant climate rule only by showing ‘clear congressional authorization’ at a time when the Court knows that Congress is effectively dysfunctional, the Court threatens to upend the national government’s ability to safeguard the public health and welfare at the very moment when the United States, and all nations, are facing our greatest environmental challenge of all: climate change.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the ruling.

“The Court has undone illegal regulations issued by the EPA without any clear congressional authorization and confirmed that only the people’s representatives in Congress — not unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats — may write our nation’s laws,” McConnell said in a statement.

The United States is the world’s second-biggest annual emitter of greenhouse gases, and is responsible for a greater portion of historical emissions than any other nation.
The Roberts Court basically doesn't believe in climate change and will block efforts to stop it from the Executive Branch, and Mith McConnell will block any legislative efforts, along with WV Democrat Joe Manchin.
Unless the Court is reformed and reconfigured, we're a theocratic failed state by the end of the decade, and the world, seeing the effects of climate change on their populace, will not stand idly by as we destroy the planet.

Things get catastrophic after that point.

The State Of Church And State, Con't

 GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert is greatly disappointed that SCOTUS hasn't ruled that the United States is a "Christian" theocracy yet, and she wants that the change as soon as they can do it.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) says she is “tired” of the long-standing separation between church and state in the U.S., adding that she believes “the church is supposed to direct the government.”

In a Sunday speech at the Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt, Colo., ahead of her primary election on Tuesday, Boebert argued that “the government is not supposed to direct the church,” saying that dividing religion from the system of government was not what the Founding Fathers intended.

“I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk — that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter and it means nothing like they say it does,” Boebert said, earning a round of applause from the audience.

Boebert faces a GOP primary challenge from state Sen. Don Coram in Colorado’s 3rd District but has far outraised her opponent in the campaign and is expected to triumph on Tuesday, according to the election watcher FiveThirtyEight.

The concept of a separation between church and state is derived from the establishment clause in the Bill of Rights, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island, was the first to decipher the clause as “a wall or hedge of separation” between the “wilderness of the world” and “the garden of the church.”

In 1802, then-President Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, in which he wrote the American public had built “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

States have long adhered to the principle since Jefferson’s letter. The Supreme Court applied the clause to states with the 14th Amendment and has used the doctrine to uphold such a wall.

However, the current high court, which has a conservative majority, has recently ruled increasingly in support of religion in public spaces.

The Supreme Court this month struck down a Maine policy that prohibited religious schools from receiving taxpayer-funded tuition aid and ruled in favor of a football coach in Washington state who prayed at the 50-yard line after public school games.

Conservative justices also ruled in May that the city of Boston violated the Constitution by declining a request from a religious organization to fly its flag at city hall.

After the Maine ruling, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court “continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build.”
"The church is supposed to direct the government" is the very definition of theocracy. 

They're going to find a way to do it and both the state and eventually federal level unless we can fix the Roberets Court, but gas is $5 so we're going to give Republicans control again.

I know getting voters to care is nearly impossible, especially when they are being convinced that the new coming Christian fascist state will be better than what we have now, but my god, Sinclair Lewis was right. He may have never actually said the quote about fascism coming the American wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, but he did say:

"But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."


"Befogged" is a good word, it's what we really mean by "gaslighting" in most senses. The Great Befogging has been on for decades.

We're all about to choke on these particular particulates.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Last Call For The Road To Gilead, Con't

As I have been telling everyone for months now, the next step is to stop women in forced birth states from crossing state lines to get an abortion by using the Texas "bounty" system to sue women in civil court, and that's now in the works in multiple states

Several national antiabortion groups and their allies in Republican-led state legislatures are advancing plans to stop people in states where abortion is banned from seeking the procedure elsewhere, according to people involved in the discussions.

The idea has gained momentum in some corners of the antiabortion movement in the days since the Supreme Court struck down its 49-year-old precedent protecting abortion rights nationwide, triggering abortion bans across much of the Southeast and Midwest.

The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal organization, is drafting model legislation for state lawmakers that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a resident of a state that has banned abortion from terminating a pregnancy outside of that state. The draft language will borrow from the novel legal strategy behind a Texas abortion ban enacted last year in which private citizens were empowered to enforce the law through civil litigation.

The subject was much discussed at two national antiabortion conferences last weekend, with several lawmakers interested in introducing these kinds of bills in their own states.

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an antiabortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.

“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.”

The Biden Justice Department has already warned states that it would fight such laws, saying they violate the right to interstate commerce.

In relying on private citizens to enforce civil litigation, rather than attempting to impose a state-enforced ban on receiving abortions across state lines, such a law is more difficult to challenge in court because abortion rights groups don’t have a clear person to sue.

Like the Texas abortion ban, the proposal itself could have a chilling effect, where doctors in surrounding states stop performing abortions before courts have an opportunity to intervene, worried that they may face lawsuits if they violate the law. 
I guarantee you that this SCOTUS will find a way to gut the Interstate Commerce clause to allow this garbage, and at some point, turning in your neighbor, wife, niece or daughter and collecting whatever the bounty is set at will be a regular occurrence in a couple of SCOTUS terms or two.

Expect Ron DeSantis and/or Greg Abbott to call a apecial session of their respective state legislatures in order to enact this ASAP, and for the law to be challenged legally, and for the SCOTUS shadow docket to refuse to stay the law.


A Supreme Sovereign Betrayal

Two years ago, Justice Neil Gorsuch was the deciding vote in a 5-4 opinion that declared the Creek Nations reservations in Eastern Oklahoma to be sovereign tribal land for the purposes of land administration and law enforcement.

That was of course before the death of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and replacing her with Racist PTA Karen, and today with personnel change, that declaration is now gone, and the state of Oklahoma now has control of these lands back when it comes to prosecuting crimes of non-Native suspects.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowed the sweep of its landmark 2020 decision declaring that much of eastern Oklahoma falls within Indian reservation lands, allowing state authorities to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on the reservations.

The ruling left in place the basic holding of the 2020 decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, which said that Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservations, which include much of the city of Tulsa, cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement and must instead face justice in tribal or federal courts.

The vote on Wednesday was 5 to 4, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was not on the court when the McGirt case was decided, casting the decisive vote.

The new case concerned Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta, who was convicted of severely neglecting his 5-year-old stepdaughter, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. In 2015, she was found dehydrated, emaciated and covered in lice and excrement, weighing just 19 pounds.

Mr. Castro-Huerta, who is not an Indian, was prosecuted by state authorities, convicted in state court and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

After the McGirt decision, an Oklahoma appeals court vacated his conviction on the ground that the crime had taken place in Indian Country. The appeals court relied on earlier rulings that crimes committed on reservations by or against Indians could not be prosecuted by state authorities.

Federal prosecutors then pursued charges against Mr. Castro-Huerta, and he pleaded guilty to child neglect in federal court and entered a plea agreement calling for a seven-year sentence. His sentencing is scheduled for August.

Prosecution in a tribal court was not an option in the case, as tribal courts generally lack authority to try non-Indians for crimes against Indians.

In asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the case, Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, No. 21-429, John M. O’Connor, Oklahoma’s attorney general, said the justices had “never squarely held that states do not have concurrent authority to prosecute non-Indians for state-law crimes committed against Indians in Indian Country.”

Lawyers for Mr. Castro-Huerta responded that the Supreme Court, lower courts and Congress had all said that crimes committed on reservations by or against Indians could not be prosecuted by state authorities.

In his petition seeking review, Mr. O’Connor had also asked the Supreme Court to address a second question: whether the McGirt decision should be overruled. In its order granting review, however, the Supreme Court said it would only consider the narrower question of whether states can prosecute non-Indians for crimes against Indians on reservations.

Writing for the majority in McGirt, which was decided by a 5-to-4 vote, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said the court was vindicating a commitment that grew out of an ugly history of forced removals and broken treaties.

“On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise,” he wrote, joined by what was then the court’s four-member liberal wing. “Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever.”
Oklahoma Republicans demanded control over these lands again for non-Native folks, and SCOTUS gave it to them. The assurances Justice Gorsuch said the US Government gave the Creek Nations, assurances that his ruling remedied, were all but reversed in just two years.

When I say the Roberts Court is coming for the entire Civil Rights era, what Justice Thomas calls "wrongly decided substantive due process decisions", I mean everything is on the table, and everything will be gone unless this court is stopped.

The Coming Supreme Battlefield

In the wake of the death of Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas all but begged red states to send the Roberts Court more civil rights cases so that he can personally dismantle them and return America to the violent depths of Reconstruction. Texas GOP AG Ken Paxton seems more than happy to do just that.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last week seemingly expressed support for the Supreme Court potentially overturning past rulings on cases involving the LGBTQ community following the downfall of Roe v. Wade on Friday.

In a separate concurring opinion Friday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned a number of the high court's past rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which established the right of same-sex couples to marry, and Lawrence vs. Texas—a 2003 decision in which the court ruled against the state of Texas regarding a 1973 law criminalizing the act of sodomy.

Thomas also mentioned Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the right of married couples to use contraception without government interference. "In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is 'demonstrably erroneous,'" Thomas wrote. "We have a duty to 'correct the error' regarding these established in those precedents."

During a Friday appearance on News Nation's "On Balance with Leland Vittert," Paxton said he would support the Supreme Court revisiting the cases mentioned by Thomas and defend Texas' long-unenforced law against sodomy.

"I'm sure you read Justice Thomas's concurrence where he said there were a number of other of these issues, Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell he felt needs to be looked at again," Vittert told Paxton. "Obviously the Lawrence case came from Texas... would you as attorney general be comfortable defending a law that once again outlawed sodomy? That questioned Lawrence again or Griswold or gay marriage? That came from the state legislature to put to the test what Justice Thomas said?"

"Yeah, I mean there's all kinds of issues here, but certainly the Supreme Court has stepped into issues that I don't think there's any constitutional provision dealing with," Paxton responded. "They were legislative issues and this is one of those issues and there may be more. So it would depend on the issue and dependent on what state law had said at the time."
They are coming for it all, folks. Your rights will be solely determined by which state you live in. Federal protections of civil rights will be gone by the end of the decade at this rate, and if Republicans get control of the WH and Congress in 2024, it'll be sooner than that. 

We are headed for a violent theocratic splintering that will criminalize the existence of and immiserate tens of millions of us, if not openly threaten our lives.

We are almost out of chances to stop it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Last Call For The State Of Church And State, Con't

Why yes, Republicans are absolutely going for the dark, theocratic future previously reserved for the tabletop RPGs and sci-fi scenarios from my college days.
America First Legal (AFL), a right-wing group whose team includes several former Trump administration officials, is urging the Supreme Court to do even more to shatter what’s left of the wall between church and state.

On Tuesday, June 28, the group issued a statement essentially calling for a total overhaul of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, a key provision separating church and state.
The statement arrived one day after the Supreme Court cracked part of the clause’s foundation with its ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton. In that case, the court’s far-right majority ruled that public school officials in Bremerton, Washington, violated the First Amendment rights of high school football coach Joseph Kennedy when they fired him following a controversy stemming from his ritual of praying at the 50-yard line during football games. The 6-3 decision effectively overruled a 1971 precedent for interpreting the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

While the establishment clause exists to keep the government from establishing an official religion in the United States, or doing anything that might favor one religion over another, the AFL is now hopeful that the Supreme Court will “eventually disincorporate” the establishment clause in a future case. Doing so, the AFL suggests, would allow states to “decide whether and to what extent they will establish religion within their borders.”

The AFL’s vice president and general counsel Gene Hamilton — a former Trump official in the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, whose hits include axing DACA and helping create the infamous family separation policy — argued in a statement that the original intent of the establishment clause was to let the states decide just how much they want to separate church and state.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court decided in Coach Kennedy’s favor,” Hamilton said. “Perhaps the Court will, in a future case, finally restore the original meaning of the Establishment Clause and disincorporate it as to the states. But for today, we celebrate with Coach Kennedy and all Americans who value religious freedom.”

Allowing individual states to establish their own official religions is just one possible tidal wave-sized ripple that could follow Kennedy v. Bremerton. Considering the current Court’s apparent disdain for established precedent, it could also pave the way for overturning the landmark 1962 case that ruled prayer in public schools was unconstitutional.


I don't know how many more alarm bells can be run, but we're one very broad or two or three smaller rulings taken together from states being able to establish official religions, and laws and regulations based on those religions, and by "religions" I mean "the shitty white nationalist version of Christianity" where anyone who isn't a white, straight male "Christian" will at best be a second or third class citizen, and probably much, much worse.

They really are going for the Christian Kingdom of Red States, folks, complete with Christian Police to enforce Christian theocracy.

We have got to stop these assholes before they murder anyone darker than a paper bag.

Hearing Aides For America, Surprise Edition

After scheduling the next hearing for July, the H=January 6th Committee sprung a surprise hearing today to hear the testimony of former Trump WH administrative staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, assistant to then WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who like any good administrative assistant, knew wehre all the proverbial (and almost very literal) bodies were all buried on January 6th planning.

And yes, as Hutchinson's testimony made very clear, the January 6th insurrection was very much planned by the Trump regime.

Aides to former President Donald Trump were left speechless amid the first half of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony on Tuesday, acknowledging to CNN that her testimony was "a bombshell" with potentially huge repercussions for Trump.

Trump was already bracing for an explosive day of testimony from Hutchinson, who previously told the House select committee that the former President approved of rioters chanting violent threats against Vice President Mike Pence on January 6, 2021.

"This is a bombshell. It's stunning. It's shocking. The story about 'The Beast' -- I don't have words. It's just stunning," said one Trump adviser, referring to the presidential limousine.

"This paints a picture of Trump completely unhinged and completely losing all control which, for his base, they think of him as someone who is in command at all times. This completely flies in the face of that," the adviser added.

The Trump adviser, who was in a group text chat with several other Trump aides and allies as the hearing played out, said that "no one is taking this lightly."

"For the first time since the hearings started, no one is dismissing this," the adviser said.

Another Trump ally told CNN the testimony from Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, would seal Meadows' fate as "persona non grata" to the former President.

"This is one of the reasons [Trump] is furious with Meadows. He was already iced out but now he will be persona non grata," this person said.

The startling revelations from Hutchinson's testimony about Trump's erratic behavior and state of mind on January 6 could make it easier for Republican presidential hopefuls to challenge the former President in a primary should he run, the Trump ally added.

"This is basically a campaign commercial for (Florida Gov.) Ron DeSantis 2024," said the Trump ally.

It's starting to sink in that Trump may not be the 2024 GOP candidate for the White House because of this.

Minutes before Donald Trump took the stage at an Ellipse rally on Jan. 6, 2021, he urged the Secret Service to remove security magnetometers to let in people with weapons because “they’re not here to hurt me,” a former top White House aide told investigators on Tuesday.

Cassidy Hutchinson also testified to the Jan. 6 select panel that Trump intended to travel with his supporters at the rally to the Capitol, a progression that quickly became a violent mob. She also recalled hearing from two security officials — including Robert Engel, the head of the then-president’s Secret Service detail — that when Trump was told he’d be returning to the White House instead of going to the Capitol on Jan. 6, he lunged for the steering wheel of his vehicle and was physically restrained by Engel.

Hutchinson also said she heard firsthand worries about Trump potentially traveling to the Capitol to disrupt the certification of his loss from Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone. She testified that Cipollone warned against letting Trump travel to the Capitol that day in stark terms: If Trump did so, his White House counsel said, “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” from obstruction to fraud.

The former White House aide’s remarks portrayed Trump as spiraling into an increasingly manic rage as he continued his last-ditch effort to seize a second term he didn’t win. Hutchinson offered some of the gravest evidence yet of Trump’s awareness of the violent elements within his base that were ultimately unleashed against Congress — and his indifference to the ultimate result. And her testimony landed hard on the Hill, where some Republican lawmakers immediately pushed back.

Signs of Trump’s fury had been emerging for weeks, Hutchinson said, recalling that Trump once hurled a plate of food at the wall after his Justice Department batted down claims of widespread election fraud.

Hutchinson’s comments came in an explosive public hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee focused on her insights into the machinations by Trump, Meadows and their allies in the runup to Jan. 6. Her knowledge, informed by being present in nearly every meeting involving Meadows during the post-election period, have quickly propelled Hutchinson into a prominent role for Capitol riot investigators.
Trump's own people are saying that he went way beyond any "Nixon in the bunker" moments.  But yes, you'd be forgiven for thinking the big winner here was not America, but Ron DeSantis's 2024 run, looking more and more likely by the day.

A Border Line Tragedy

Some 50 migrant workers were found dead in the back of a semitruck in San Antonio, and Republicans are falling all over themselves blaming Biden.

Fifty migrants are dead after they and others were found in sweltering conditions in a semitruck in San Antonio, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said Tuesday.

The death toll, which the city's fire chief had given Monday as 46, includes migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, according to a federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The discovery came as US federal authorities have launched what they described as an "unprecedented" operation to disrupt human smuggling networks amid an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

"An alleged human smuggling event" was alerted by San Antonio police to the US Department of Homeland Security's investigation unit, which is leading the probe, an ICE spokesperson said Monday. The incident appears to be among the most deadly in recent years for migrants near the southern border.
Three people detained away from the trailer site are in police custody, though their connection to the situation is unclear, Police Chief Bill McManus said at a news conference Monday night.

Authorities were alerted to the scene just before 6 p.m., when a worker in a nearby building heard a cry for help, McManus said. The worker found a trailer with doors partially opened and saw people deceased inside, he said.

Forty-eight people died on the scene, and two died at hospitals, the federal law enforcement official told CNN on Tuesday, noting the toll is preliminary.

Sixteen people -- 12 adults and four children -- were taken alive and conscious to medical facilities, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said at Monday night's news conference.


Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott could barely contain his glee at being handed a new campaign commercial. 


Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday night quickly blamed President Biden for the deaths of at least 46 people found in the back of an 18-wheeler in San Antonio.

These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott tweeted. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

Reaction to the tweet was fast and furious.

“We don’t need your partisan political bs,” tweeted the Rev. Chuck Currie, a minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC). “What the United States needs is comprehensive immigration reform. But the GOP keeps standing in the way.”

The abandoned tractor-trailer was found near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and three people were taken into custody, authorities said.

Abbott has made immigration a focal point of his reelection campaign; the Republican Party has long blamed Biden for the nation’s immigration ills.
It's always the same. Republicans break things, Democrats draft legislation to fix it, Republicans block any and all legislation that might improve anything, and then blame Democrats for it. Immigration and border enforcement is no different.
And that's not accounting for the decades of Republicans looking the other way on exploiting immigrants as unpaid and underpaid labor.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Another Supreme Broadside

The Roberts Court has effectively dismantled the line between church and state in public education with Justice Gorsuch's decision in Kennedy v Bremerton School District, tossing out decades of precedent in a 6-3 decision and declaring that an Oregon high school football coach's post-game prayer sessions with students were constitutional, whether the students wanted it or not

Justice Gorsuch wrote that Mr. Kennedy had sought only to offer a brief, silent and solitary prayer. Justice Sotomayor responded that the public nature of his prayers and his stature as a leader and role model meant that students felt forced to participate, whatever their religion and whether they wanted to or not.stice Gorsuch wrote that the coach, at least after the games at issue in the case, “offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied.

Justice Sotomayor gave a different account of the facts, taking account of a longer time period.

“Kennedy consistently invited others to join his prayers and for years led student-athletes in prayer,” she wrote. In an unusual move, the dissent included photographs showing Mr. Kennedy kneeling with players and others.

Justice Gorsuch wrote that Mr. Kennedy was not speaking for the school when he prayed.

“He was not instructing players, discussing strategy, encouraging better on-field performance or engaged in any other speech the district paid him to produce as a coach,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.

Instead, he wrote, Mr. Kennedy merely took a moment to pray while others checked their text messages or greeted friends.

Not everything school employees do during work hours is official conduct, Justice Gorsuch wrote. If it were, he said, “a school could fire a Muslim teacher for wearing a head scarf in the classroom or prohibit a Christian aide from praying quietly over her lunch in the cafeteria.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Amy Coney Barrett joined all of Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joined most of it.

In dissent, Justice Sotomayor said Mr. Kennedy effectively coerced students into praying with him.

“Students look up to their teachers and coaches as role models and seek their approval,” she wrote. “Students also depend on this approval for tangible benefits. Players recognize that gaining the coach’s approval may pay dividends small and large, from extra playing time to a stronger letter of recommendation to additional support in college athletic recruiting.”

Justice Gorsuch responded that he rejected “the view that the only acceptable government role models for students are those who eschew any visible religious expression.”

In the process of ruling for Mr. Kennedy, the majority disavowed a major precedent on the First Amendment’s establishment clause, Lemon v. Kurtzman. That ruling, in 1971, set out what came to be known as the Lemon test, which requires courts to consider whether the challenged government practice has a secular purpose, whether its primary effect is to advance or inhibit religion, and whether it fosters excessive government entanglement with religion.

In Justice Gorsuch’s account, the Lemon test had already been discarded. But Justice Sotomayor wrote that the majority had just now overruled it.

She acknowledged that the test had been subject to frequent criticism by various members of the court. “The court now goes much further,” she wrote, “overruling Lemon entirely and in all contexts.”

Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan joined Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.

Over the last 60 years, the Supreme Court has rejected prayer in public schools, at least when it was officially required or part of a formal ceremony like a high school graduation. As recently as 2000, the court ruled that organized prayers led by students at high school football games violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

“The delivery of a pregame prayer has the improper effect of coercing those present to participate in an act of religious worship,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority in that case.

Justice Gorsuch wrote that those precedents did not apply to Mr. Kennedy’s conduct.

“The prayers for which Mr. Kennedy was disciplined were not publicly broadcast or recited to a captive audience,” he wrote. “Students were not required or expected to participate.”
So, by tossing the Lemon test and saying that Coach Kennedy was not speaking for the school because it was an extra-curricular activity, the barrier between prayer and secular school now has a huge hole in the side that well, you could run a varsity football team through.

We're getting very, very close to Default Christian American Religion here and students being punished for not being Christian.

That's the next speed bump on this slope towards theocratic schools.

The Suburbs Of Gilead

Republicans are pretty confident that the tens of millions of women who lost access to abortion on Friday will either stay home or vote Republican over $5 gas, that rage will fade, and that eventually women will simply accept the new regime.

On the left and among Democrats, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday was an earthshaking event. It prompted demonstrations across the country, a torrent of outrage and despair on social media, and big political speeches — including President Biden and other Democrats saying that “Roe is on the ballot” in this fall’s midterm elections.

The reaction was far more casual on the right. In conversations with over a half-dozen Republican insiders, who were granted anonymity to discuss the political ramifications frankly, there was a lingering sense of skepticism that abortion would still be a major issue in November and a belief that, even if it is, it might actually redound to the benefit of the GOP.

This wasn’t to say abortion wouldn’t matter in the midterms, but that the issue wouldn’t make a decisive difference at a time when voters have other problems on their minds. “Democrats are going to run on this but they are only going to run on this because they have no other choices this cycle,” one national Republican operative said. “It’s all they have at the end of the day when inflation is high and the economy is sagging.”

A D.C.-based operative noted that “in the immediate few weeks, there will be a lot of outrage as the dust settles, but this is a state-by-state, district-by-district issue.” The operative added that while the Dobbs decision might cause Democratic voters to turn out more heavily in deep-blue areas, there is doubt within GOP circles that this will cause a surge in Democratic voters in Texas or Florida. “People don’t notice abortion on a daily basis,” the operative argued. “They notice how much bacon costs for their kids and how much gas costs to fill up their car.”

There was some sense that the Court’s ruling was “a double-edged sword,” as one social conservative activist acknowledged. “It could help Democrats by reinvigorating them and pumping them up to get angry and turn out in the midterms, that could happen.” But there was also the belief that there are only limited gains to be had in the midterms. As the national operative explained it, “the problem that Democrats have here is that people who really care about abortion and are single-issue pro-choice voters are already all voting Democratic. If you dive into the polling, they are already squeezing every bit of juice out of young college-educated women, who are the group of people most motivated by this.”

And some of the Republicans thought it could actually be a net plus for the GOP in the fall. This was not because of the impact of the issue per se, but a sense that Democrats would turn it into a self-inflicted wound. “Democrats are going to overplay their hand,” one well-connected Republican predicted. “They overplay every hand they get.” The insider thought, for instance, that “there’s going to be violence and [Democrats are] not going to denounce the violence.” Another red-state operative put it more bluntly: The sight of “a bunch of pink-haired women lighting fires in the streets” was not going to motivate moderate pro-choice women to vote for Democrats.

A senior Capitol Hill staffer made a similar point: “The left has lost the plot so much, it will neutralize what will be a vote-moving issue. The traditional left argument is about protecting women, but now they can’t even say what a woman is.” As the red-state operative wondered, the question is also whether abortion becomes a separate issue from the current cultural wars or if it just becomes “part and parcel with drag-queen story time and teaching kids hypersexual content in schools” and the other social issues currently animating the right.

Further, the well-connected Republican thought the heated rhetoric being used on the left would leave voters skeptical. “What it’s going to do is crystallize dishonesty and lack of integrity of the Democratic Party,” they claimed. “We are in a situation where Democrats are doing their best Chicken Little impression and most people are going to find out their lives don’t change at all. AOC is the one being shown all over the news, saying ‘women’s rights being taken away, next they’re going to come after gay marriage and come after birth control.’ They’re not, nobody cares about that, and voters are going to see the sky isn’t falling.” Or as the D.C.-based operative reasoned, “The country has survived a majority of our years without Roe v. Wade. Things will be fine. We’ll figure it out.”


If I'm reading this correctly, Republican strategists completely believe that enough women will vote for Republicans over completing the death of Roe to not only nullify the women voting for Democrats against the GOP in November because of their loss of rights to their own bodies, but enough women will do so to make the Roberts Court decision a net positive in the election.

That's magical thinking, frankly.  But neither am I convinced that Roe's demise will somehow save House Democrats from losing control of the chamber, either. Other factors may very well do so, namely the January 6th prosecutions scheduled to resume after July 4th.  But women will not be "fine" as this particular GOP strategist claims. This will be a world-ending moment for a lot of women, and women will realize that women they know, care about, and love are going to be hurt by this.

We'll see if that translates into votes.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Extremely Bad GOP Candidates, Illinois Version

Republicans want to take over big Blue states like Illinois, California, NY and Massachusetts, and they've won governor's mansions in all four states in the last few decades with candidates like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, George Pataki and recently, Charlie Baker, along with Larry Hogan in Maryland, and Phil Scott in Vermont. Republicans have been able to run on "keeping the Democrat legislatures in line" and win in the past.
This being 2022 though, the candidates Republican voters are sending to the general in these states are Big Lie racist assholes, and Democrats are loving every minute of it.

Darren Bailey, the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois, was finishing his stump speech last week at a senior center in this Central Illinois town when a voice called out: “Can we pray for you?”

Mr. Bailey readily agreed. The speaker, a youth mentor from Lincoln named Kathy Schmidt, placed her right hand on his left shoulder while he closed his eyes and held out his hands, palms open.

“More than anything,” she prayed, “I ask for that, in this election, you raise up the righteous and strike down the wicked.”

The wicked, in this case, are the Chicago-based moderates aiming to maintain control over the Illinois Republican Party. And the righteous is Mr. Bailey, a far-right state senator who is unlike any nominee the party has put forward for governor in living memory.

A 56-year-old farmer whose Southern Illinois home is closer to Nashville than to Chicago, he wears his hair in a crew cut, speaks with a thick drawl and does not sand down his conservative credentials, as so many past leading G.O.P. candidates have done to try to appeal to suburbanites in this overwhelmingly Democratic state. On Saturday, former President Donald J. Trump endorsed Mr. Bailey at a rally near Quincy, Ill.

Mr. Bailey rose to prominence in Illinois politics by introducing legislation to kick Chicago out of the state. When the coronavirus pandemic began, he was removed from a state legislative session for refusing to wear a mask, and he sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, over statewide virus mitigation efforts. Painted on the door of his campaign bus is the Bible verse Ephesians 6:10-19, which calls for followers to wear God’s armor in a battle against “evil rulers.”

He is the favored candidate of the state’s anti-abortion groups, and on Friday he celebrated the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade as a “historic and welcomed moment.” He has said he opposes the practice, including in cases of rape and incest.

Mr. Bailey has upended carefully laid $50 million plans by Illinois Republican leaders to nominate Mayor Richard C. Irvin of Aurora, a moderate suburbanite with an inspiring personal story who they believed could win back the governor’s mansion in Springfield in what is widely forecast to be a winning year for Republicans.

Mr. Bailey has been aided by an unprecedented intervention from Mr. Pritzker and the Pritzker-funded Democratic Governors Association, which have spent nearly $35 million combined attacking Mr. Irvin while trying to lift Mr. Bailey. No candidate for any office is believed to have ever spent more to meddle in another party’s primary.

The Illinois governor’s race is now on track to become the most expensive campaign for a nonpresidential office in American history.

Public and private polling ahead of Tuesday’s primary shows Mr. Bailey with a lead of 15 percentage points over Mr. Irvin and four other candidates. His strength signals the broader shift in Republican politics across the country, away from urban power brokers and toward a rural base that demands fealty to a far-right agenda aligned with Mr. Trump.

For Mr. Bailey, the proposal to excise Chicago, which he called “a hellhole” during a televised debate last month, encapsulates the grievances long felt across rural Central and Southern Illinois — places culturally far afield and long resentful of the politically dominant big city.

“The rest of the 90 percent of the land mass is not real happy about how 10 percent of the land mass is directing things,” Mr. Bailey said in an interview aboard his campaign bus outside a bar in Green Valley, a village of 700 people south of Peoria. “A large amount of people outside of that 10 percent don’t have a voice, and that’s a problem.”

That pitch has resonated with the conservative voters flocking to Mr. Bailey, who seemed to compare Mr. Irvin to Satan during a Facebook Live monologue in February.

“Everything that we pay and do supports Chicago,” said Pam Page, a security analyst at State Farm Insurance from McLean, Ill., who came to see Mr. Bailey in Lincoln. “Downstate just never seems to get any of the perks or any of the kickbacks.
 It's an ugly reminder that about three-quarters of Illinois lives in Chicagoland, and the other three mil and change live in the state of West Indiana, and a hell of a lot of West Indianans want Chicagoland to go screw themselves and be their own thing.

Of course, coming from these assholes, "Chicago" means "Black People" and they absolutely want them out of the state, if not out of the country.

So yes, nominating the extremely racist Republican in the state with only 60% white voters seems like a bad idea for the GOP.

As long as the racist doesn't actually, you know, win.

Sunday Long Read: The Mask Of Masculinity

Our Sunday Long Read this week is Bill Donahue of the Washington Post Magazine taking a hard look at the toxic masculinity cocktail of racism, bigotry, fascism and religion that fuels the rage, hatred and violence of modern GOP politics in America.

If you look at the campaign ads for this year’s Senate races, the message is clear: Real men live in Missouri. In the heart of America. On the ruby red plains, where the pickups are large and the flags fly high.

In late April, Republican Senate candidate and former Missouri governor Eric Greitens posted on Twitter a rather unsubtle video that captured him visiting a shooting range with Donald Trump Jr. As the clip opens, Greitens and the former first son are already hunched over their semiautomatic rifles. One second in, we watch as the shooters fire a hail of bullets — two hails, actually — until they pulverize and then fell a body-shaped metal target. “Liberals, beware!” Greitens soon intones with a grim “Terminator”-like finality.

Greitens is, of course, taking cues from the elder Donald Trump, who gave us all a master class in unbridled machismo. Trump said of the Islamic State, “I’m gonna bomb the s--- out of them,” and when football player Colin Kaepernick took a knee, Trump pronounced, “Wouldn’t you like to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b---- off the field right now, out? He’s fired.’ ”

American politicians have almost always been obliged to display manliness to win elections, but our 45th president heightened masculinity to absurd, comic-book levels. Many have posited that Trump was old-school, taking us back to the days of John Wayne and guys-only steak dinners, but cultural critic Susan Faludi — author of “Stiffed,” “Backlash” and other books on gender — argued persuasively in a 2020 New York Times opinion piece that, no, Trump introduced us to a new, Internet-age masculinity, a “Potemkin patriarchy” specially tailored for “an image-based, sensation-saturated and very modern entertainment economy. … Contemporary manliness is increasingly defined by display — in Mr. Trump’s case, a pantomime of aggrieved aggression: the curled lip, the exaggerated snarl.”

In political races nationwide this year, Republicans are clamoring to get the snarl and the swagger just right as they seek to out-Trump one another. During the Super Bowl, Senate candidate Jim Lamon of Arizona ran an ad that was styled to look like an old western movie and starred himself as a gun-twirling sheriff firing at a sheepish actor dressed to resemble Joe Biden. In Georgia, Mike Collins, a Republican in a U.S. House race, trundled a wheelbarrow full of paper into the forest, then shot at it as viewers realized he was turning “Nancy Pelosi’s Plan for America” into a cloud of confetti and smoke.

The Senate race in Missouri has arguably emerged as ground zero for the manliness question — and Greitens isn’t the only candidate shilling his virility. Do you remember Mark McCloskey, that vigilante in St. Louis who brandished an AR-15 military-style rifle at Black Lives Matter protesters? He’s now seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, too — touring Missouri in a custom campaign vehicle, an SUV appointed with a giant photo that captures his gun-toting moment of fame. “Never back down!” reads the adjacent text.

Nationwide, all of this GOP chest-beating appears to be working, as Democrats seem poised for a thrashing in the midterms. In Missouri, though, one Democrat volleyed back early, serving up his own brand of manhood. Last June, Lucas Kunce released a Senate campaign video that showed him locking and loading an AR-15. In the ad, Kunce bends over the gun’s sight. He squints. Will he shoot?

No. Instead, Kunce smirks and says, “Forget it. ... Stunts like that? Those are for those clowns on the other side. Like that mansion man Mark McCloskey.” There’s a bounce in his voice; Kunce, who’s 39, is enjoying this caper. And he speaks with a certain authority: The guy is shredded. His pecs bulge beneath his blue T-shirt, and his implicit message — that he’s a real man and McCloskey’s a dingleberry — gains steam when we learn that Kunce is a 13-year Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kunce’s campaign isn’t about masculinity, but it certainly invokes the theme. “All they care about,” he told me, referring to Greitens and McCloskey, “is looking tough, looking strong. For me, masculinity is taking care of people — your family, your community — and making sure that you actually stand for something.”

What Kunce stands for is radical economic change. He’s a self-described populist, and for him, re-creating America is a military mission. “I’m a grenade,” he told an audience not long ago. “Pull the pin on me and throw me into the U.S. Senate so I can change things.”

There are other Democratic Senate candidates who exude some of Kunce’s brawn: for instance, John Fetterman, the 6-foot-8, heavily tattooed Pennsylvania lieutenant governor who favors hoodies over business suits. But Jackson Katz, creator of the 2020 documentary “The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics From Nixon to Trump,” is particularly excited about Kunce. “For decades,” says Katz, “the Democrats have been seen as the non-masculine party, and they’ve done nothing about it. They’ve been clueless. And now here’s a guy who can’t be written off physically or personally as soft.”

Can Kunce actually win? Can a political novice sell a revised, anti-Trump version of manhood in a once-centrist state that, in the past six presidential elections, has consistently voted Republican? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for one, is worried that the race “could end up being competitive,” as he told CNN in April, before advising Missouri Republicans: “You better nominate a fully capable, credible nominee or you’re in trouble.”

But perhaps the bigger question about the rise of an ultra-macho style in Missouri’s — and America’s — politics isn’t whether it’s effective; it’s what it all means. If this new exaggerated masculinity proves consistently appealing to voters on both the right and the left, then what does that suggest about the kinds of candidates who can, and cannot, realistically seek office in the future? About what types of issues we can debate and on what terms? About what kind of people we want to lead us — and what kind of country we want to be?
What Republicans want, what the vast majority of white men -- and women -- who vote for Republicans like Grieiens want, is a stochastic masculinity that not only "protects their families" but does so specifically through the election of candidates that run with the message of permissive violence against those people. It's a brand of toxic masculinity that specifically is intertwined with race and sexual orientation, and the permission from a GOP "daddy" to protect the "right" of using stochastic terrorism against the "lesser" second-class citizenry of "pussies" and "ni-CLANG!"

Democrats want a positive masculinity that protects and uplifts, the champion of the downtrodden as in Kunce's case. Republicans want the downtrodden ground into dust, and they want politicians who want to give them the power and protection to do that to the people they have been taught to hate all their lives.

But most of all, Republicans like Greitens want to make it clear that any white people who assist, enable, and protect marginalized groups in America are race traitors, and race traitors to white supremacist America are now open targets.

I won't link to the Greitens ad from Monday, it's disgusting, stochastic violence to the nth degree. In the ad he declares war on "RINOs" and as a military team breaks into and clears and house special-forces style, Greitens makes it very clear that this stochastic terrorism, the military power of state-sanctioned violence, is what should be in store for Biden, liberals, and Republicans who enable this "enemy of the people". This is Greitens suggesting in a political ad that he will hunt down and destroy his opponents.

And this is exactly what millions of Republicans want. Remember, Greitens was already elected to statewide office as Governor, was indicted on felony charges while in office in 2018 related to both campaign data misuse and posting pictures of his bound lover being kept in his basement against her will which led to him resigning in a plea bargain deal to avoid those charges.

Greitens then ran for Senate because he knew the people who voted for him in 2016 would be more likely to vote for him in 2022. Missouri's Senate primary is in August and Greitens is ahead in polls from May. After this? He'll be the clear front-runner for both the primary and general. Greitens skated on felony charges that would have put you or me in prison for several years, but the consequences of going straight to the fascism route is four years later this asshole has an even better chance of going from Governor to Senator than before he was indicted.

Because this is what Republican really want: a system so stacked in their favor that they know they can freely use violence against their political enemies without fear of real consequence. Canidates that display this shameless monstrosity are rewarded because the people voting for them also believe they will share in the immunity from any harm for hurting and bullying people, it's a Contract With America for 2022.

Why? Because the people who are more likely to vote for Greitens because of this ad all have a family story or six from Daddy or grandpa or great uncle or great granddad where they lynched a Black man or burned down a Black church or ran a car full of Mexicans off the road or put a cross on that one Black family's lawn and they 100% got away with it, and today these assholes want that America back more than ever, and they know they are closer than ever to getting it, permanently.

Republicans want this ultimate masculinity of deadly fascism when everyone who isn't a white, straight, Christian manly man has variable rights as a human being, to be granted or revoked at whim, and that level of power over the lives of folks is impossibly intoxicating and equally impossible to resist after decades of FOX brainwashing., especially when you throw in modern evangelical Christianity to justify this violence, God's avenging, flaming sword smiting those who never should have been considered human in the first place.
They want to all be on the "right" side of the guy willing not only to use this power to improve their lives in the cynical, zero-sum era of FOX News, but to live in an America where the "injustice" of Black and brown folk getting "free everything" for being Black and brown while their families suffer is corrected by blood-soaked vengeance. They want non-white folk driven out of their pure, white Christian neighborhoods and schools and towns and if they elect monsters like Greitens, it will happen.

This is the real message here. Anyone preventing that will be dealt with, bang, bang, bang, gone. “There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” he says in the ad. All his foes will be dealt with, join me in the hunt...or else.

This is American fascism, and in 2022 Republican fascists are openly running on using military, police, law enforcement power against their political opponents. And for millions of voters in Missouri and other states, well, this is exactly what they've been waiting for.

This is what America is in 2022.

Vote Like Your Country Depends On It.

The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

Republicans have been brutally racist in the Trump era, and while they've been racist for all my life, it's the casual fact that they no longer pretend to couch racism in dog whistles and code switching that the real result of the Trump regime. Take Illinois Republican Rep. Mary Miller, who appeared with Tang the Conqueror at a rally downstate last night.

Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) said the quiet part out loud at a Donald Trump rally Saturday night while expressing her appreciation to the former president over his role in the overturning of Roe v Wade. “President Trump, on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America. I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday,” she said. A spokesperson for Miller, Isaiah Wartman, later told NBC News she had misread prepared remarks and intended to say “right to life.” The Trump rally comes as Miller, who already received Trump’s endorsement, looks for a turnout boast ahead of a Tuesday primary as she faces off against Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL).


Yes, she actually said "white life". 


She damn well meant it, too.

Republicans know the Roberts Court is their best path to overturning the entire Civil Rights era. Never forget that this is the -- increasingly stated -- goal of the Republican party.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Last Call For A Better Day In Gunmerica, Con't

So, turns out I was wrong.

Republicans did not sink the Senate gun safety bill, and for once, Democrats got the win.

President Joe Biden signed into law the most sweeping legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in 30 years at the White House on Saturday shortly before departing for Europe for a series of meetings with world leaders.

Biden called the signing of the legislation a "monumental day" and said it was proof that Democrats and Republicans could find common ground on important issues.

“God willing, it's going to save a lot of lives," he said.

The bill provides grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhances background checks to include juvenile records, and closes the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse. It will also require enhanced background checks for people ages 18 to 21 and funding for youth mental health services.

The bipartisan gun legislation sped through Congress in the month after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Democrats unanimously voted in favor of the bill along with more than two dozen Republicans in the House and the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"When it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential," Biden said. "If we can reach a compromise on guns, we ought to be able to reach a compromise on other critical issues, from veterans health care to cutting-edge American innovation to so much more."

He had pleaded with lawmakers to pass legislation tightening gun laws following the shootings in Buffalo, New York, and in Uvalde. But the bill stopped short of his call for Congress to ban assault weapons and to require background checks for all gun purchases, both of which are widely opposed by Republicans in Congress.

“I know there’s much more work to do, and I’m never going to give up, but this is a monumental day,” Biden said. “God bless us with the strength to get the work left done.”
President Biden, God love 'em, got the job done.
Of course, the bigger problem is that the Supreme Court has essentially killed any gun safety measures remotely related to this, and I'm sure Mitch McConnell knew Justice Thomas's decision earlier this week to end New York's century-old carry license law was coming. 

Remember, the "compromise" was to give states like Texas and Florida billions in red flag law grant money where the states don't actually have to spend a dime on administering red flag laws.

Between the two, gun safety laws are effectively dead at the state level, and I imagine that if Republicans really wanted to, they could challenge today's law in the courts and win at SCOTUS.

New York and California are going to implement new gun safety measures in the weeks ahead, but I would expect that they will never take effect in the wake of SCOTUS.

Just another day in Gunmerica.  Not the worst one, but this is still a country where firearms will outnumber people for a very long time.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

As I said earlier this month, Putin is profiting tremendously off of Russian sanctions. Oil, food, and commodity prices are up sharply because of the war, and as long as Putin can keep fighting it, American energy companies and OPEC will go along with him with oil at $120 barrel. Oil has dropped to $105 or so in the last week, but there's no reason to think it won't be at this price for a long time.

I also said that from a military standpoint that if nothing changed, Russia would take the Donbass this summer. Having said that, the key things here that have changed is that the US and EU have gotten more and better equipment into the theater, and that the concept of  "as long as Putin can continue the war" means there's evidence now that this will not be "forever".

The Russian military will soon exhaust its combat capabilities and be forced to bring its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to a grinding halt, according to Western intelligence predictions and military experts.

“There will come a time when the tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause to regenerate capability,” said a senior Western official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.

The assessments come despite continued Russian advances against outgunned Ukrainian forces, including the capture on Friday of the town of Severodonetsk, the biggest urban center taken by Russia in the east since launching the latest Donbas offensive nearly three months ago.

The Russians are now closing in on the adjacent city of Lysychansk, on the opposite bank of the Donetsk river. The town’s capture would give Russia almost complete control of the Luhansk oblast, one of two oblasts, or provinces, comprising the Donbas region. Control of Donbas is the publicly declared goal of Russia’s “special military operation,” although the multi-front invasion launched in February made it clear that Moscow’s original ambitions were far broader.

Capturing Lysychansk presents a challenge because it stands on higher ground and the Donetsk river impedes Russian advances from the east. So instead, Russian troops appear intent on encircling the city from the west, pressing southeast from Izyum and northeast from Popasna on the western bank of the river.

According to chatter on Russian Telegram channels and Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Anna Malyar, the Russian military is under pressure to bring all of Luhansk under Russian control by Sunday, perhaps explaining the heightened momentum of the past week.

But the “creeping” advances are dependent almost entirely on the expenditure of vast quantities of ammunition, notably artillery shells, which are being fired at a rate almost no military in the world would be able to sustain for long, said the senior Western official.

Russia, meanwhile, is continuing to suffer heavy losses of equipment and men, calling into question how much longer it can remain on the attack, the official said.

Officials refuse to offer a time frame, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citing intelligence assessments, indicated this week that Russia would be able to continue to fight on only for the “next few months.” After that, “Russia could come to a point when there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” he told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.
So the good news is Russia's attacks have been scaled down dramatically from "taking multiple former Soviet countries back" to "Taking Ukraine" to "Taking Kyiv' to "taking the Donbass" to now, "still trying to take the Donbass while using everything we have left".
Putin is definitely scoring damage on the US and EU economically, but militarily he has accomplished zero of his "special operation goals" so far. Ukraine is holding the line.

Things are looking much less dicey than just two weeks ago.

The Road To Gilead: The Path Ahead

Vox's Ian Millihiser tells us what's on the block next for the Roberts Court in a post-Roe, Dobbs world.


Alito’s Dobbs opinion acknowledges that the Constitution protects some rights that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but only rights that are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

He’s made this argument before. Specifically, Alito made this “history and tradition” argument in his dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the landmark opinion holding that people with same-sex partners have the same right to marry that partner as anyone else. “It is beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage” is not sufficiently rooted in history and tradition, Alito claimed in his Obergefell dissent.

Justice Clarence Thomas, meanwhile, wrote a concurring opinion in Dobbs where he denounced the concept of “substantive due process,” the legal theory that drives many of the Court’s decisions involving a right to sexual and romantic autonomy. Alito also rejects the idea that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment implies the right to an abortion. But Thomas goes further.

According to Thomas’s opinion, which is joined by no other justice, the Court’s pro-contraception decision in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that consenting adults have a right to choose whom they have sex with and how they have sex, and its decision in Obergefell should all be reconsidered.

That said, the final version of Alito’s opinion seems to go out of its way to explain that abortion is different from these other rights — again, because abortion involves the termination of a fetal life and these other rights do not. Much of this language was added after Alito wrote the leaked early draft of the Dobbs opinion.

Indeed, Alito accuses the dissenting opinion — which is co-authored by all three of the Court’s Democratic appointees — of stoking “unfounded fear that our decision will imperil those other rights” because the dissent worries that Dobbs could endanger things like same-sex marriage or contraception.

In any event, the future of rights other than abortion will likely need to be litigated. There is no doubt that Thomas would happily light many existing rights on fire. And there is little doubt that Alito, based on his Obergefell dissent, would also happily tear down same-sex marriage.

But it takes five votes to strip away an existing constitutional right, and it remains to be seen whether Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — conservatives who sometimes break with Alito’s most aggressive attempts to drive the law to the right — will support mass rollbacks of existing rights.

Kavanaugh and Barrett had no problems ending Roe. They will end everything else, as will Alito. 

It gets worse.

Although there may not be five votes on the current Supreme Court to permit an outright ban on all forms of contraception, the Court may permit states to ban certain forms of contraception that many religious conservatives believe to be akin to abortion.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), a 5-4 Supreme Court held that employers who object to certain forms of birth control on religious grounds may refuse to cover these contraceptive methods in their employees’ health plans. At least some of the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby claimed that “two forms of emergency contraception commonly called ‘morning after’ pills and two types of intrauterine devices” can cause an abortion because they “may operate after the fertilization of an egg.”

It is far from clear that these forms of birth control actually do operate on fertilized eggs. As Dr. Mary Jacobson, an OB-GYN and chief medical officer at Alpha Medical, told me, “No existing scientific studies validate the fallacy that hormonal contraceptives or the copper intrauterine device act partly as abortifacients.”

But the question of whether IUDs or morning-after pills qualify as contraception (which is still protected by existing Supreme Court precedents) or abortion-inducing drugs (which are not protected after Dobbs) will not be decided by medical doctors. It will be decided by a federal judiciary dominated by conservative Republicans.

In Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), moreover, the Supreme Court held that state and federal lawmakers have “wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.” This line is likely to play a starring role in conservative judicial decisions permitting bans on certain forms of contraception.

Under Gonzales, to justify a contraception ban, a state does not need to prove that a particular form of contraception definitively acts as an abortion-inducing drug. They just have to convince a court that may be dominated by right-wing Republicans that there is “uncertainty” about how a pill or contraceptive device operates.

Litigation over contraception bans, in other words, is inevitable if a state decides to ban common forms of birth control such as the morning-after pill or IUD
It's just the beginning, as I said.  Jia Talentino at the New Yorker:

In the states where abortion has been or will soon be banned, any pregnancy loss past an early cutoff can now potentially be investigated as a crime. Search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps—prosecutors can examine all of it if they believe that the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate. Even if prosecutors fail to prove that an abortion took place, those who are investigated will be punished by the process, liable for whatever might be found.

Five years ago, Latice Fisher, a Black mother of three from Mississippi, who made eleven dollars an hour as a police-radio operator, experienced a stillbirth, at roughly thirty-six weeks, at home. When questioned, she acknowledged that she didn’t want more kids and couldn’t afford to take care of more kids. She surrendered her phone to investigators, who scraped it for search data and found search terms regarding mifepristone and misoprostol, i.e., abortion pills.

These pills are among the reasons that we are not going back to the era of coat hangers. They can be prescribed via telemedicine and delivered via mail; allowing for the prescription of an extra dose, they are ninety-five to ninety-eight per cent effective in cases of pregnancy up to eleven weeks, which account for almost ninety per cent of all abortions in the U.S. Already, more than half of all abortions in the country are medication abortions. In nineteen states, doctors are prohibited from providing abortions via telemedicine, but women can seek help from clinicians in other states and abroad, such as Rebecca Gomperts, who leads Aid Access, an organization based in Austria that is openly providing abortion pills to women in prohibition states, and has been safely mailing abortion pills to pregnant people all over the world since 2005, with the organization Women on Web. In advance of the U.S. bans, Gomperts has been promoting advance prescription: sympathetic doctors might prescribe abortion pills for any menstruating person, removing some of the fears—and, possibly, the traceability—that would come with attempting to get the pills after pregnancy. Misoprostol can be prescribed for other issues, such as stomach ulcers, and Gomperts argues that there is no reasonable medical argument against advance prescription. “If you buy bleach in the supermarket, that’s more dangerous,” she has said.

There was no evidence that Latice Fisher took an abortion pill. She maintained that she had experienced a stillbirth—an occurrence in one out of every hundred and sixty pregnancies in the U.S. Nonetheless, she was charged with second-degree murder and held on a hundred-thousand-dollar bond. The district attorney, Scott Colom, had campaigned as a progressive reformer; advocates pushed him to drop the murder charge, and to provide a grand jury with more information about an antiquated, unreliable “float test” that prosecutors had used as a basis for their allegation that Fisher’s baby was born alive. Fisher was eventually cleared of all charges; the ordeal took more than three years.

Even if it remains possible in prohibition states to order abortion pills, doing so will be unlawful. (Missouri recently proposed classifying the delivery or shipment of these pills as drug trafficking. Louisiana just passed a law that makes mailing abortion pills to a resident of the state a criminal offense, punishable by six months’ imprisonment.) In many states, to avoid breaking the law, a woman would have to drive to a state where abortion is legal, have a telemedicine consultation there, and then receive the pills in that state. Many women in Texas have opted for a riskier but easier option: to drive across the border, to Mexico, and get abortion pills from unregulated pharmacies, where pharmacists may issue incorrect advice for usage. Some women who lack the freedom and money to travel out of state, and who might fear the consequences of seeking a clinical confirmation of their gestational stage, will order abortion pills without a clear understanding of how far along they are in pregnancy. Abortion pills are safe and effective, but patients need access to clinical guidance and follow-up care. Women in prohibition states who want to seek medical attention after a self-managed abortion will, as a rule, have to choose between risking their freedom and risking their health.

Both abortion and miscarriage currently occur more than a million times each year in America, and the two events are often clinically indistinguishable. As such, prohibition states will have a profoundly invasive interest in differentiating between them. Some have already laid the groundwork for establishing government databases of pregnant women likely to seek abortions. Last year, Arkansas passed a law called the Every Mom Matters Act, which requires women considering abortion to call a state hotline and requires abortion providers to register all patients in a database with a unique I.D. Since then, six other states have implemented or proposed similar laws. The hotlines are provided by crisis pregnancy centers: typically Christian organizations, many of which masquerade as abortion clinics, provide no health care, and passionately counsel women against abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers are already three times as numerous as abortion clinics in the U.S., and, unlike hospitals, they are not required to protect the privacy of those who come to them. For years, conservative states have been redirecting money, often from funds earmarked for poor women and children, toward these organizations. The data that crisis pregnancy centers are capable of collecting—names, locations, family details, sexual and medical histories, non-diagnostic ultrasound images—can now be deployed against those who seek their help.

If you become pregnant, your phone generally knows before many of your friends do. The entire Internet economy is built on meticulous user tracking—of purchases, search terms—and, as laws modelled on Texas’s S.B. 8 proliferate, encouraging private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who facilitates an abortion, self-appointed vigilantes will have no shortage of tools to track and identify suspects. (The National Right to Life Committee recently published policy recommendations for anti-abortion states that included criminal penalties for anyone who provides information about self-managed abortion “over the telephone, the internet, or any other medium of communication.”) A reporter for Vice recently spent a mere hundred and sixty dollars to purchase a data set on visits to more than six hundred Planned Parenthood clinics. Brokers sell data that make it possible to track journeys to and from any location—say, an abortion clinic in another state. In Missouri, this year, a lawmaker proposed a measure that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a resident of the state get an abortion elsewhere; as with S.B. 8, the law would reward successful plaintiffs with ten thousand dollars. The closest analogue to this kind of legislation is the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.
The good news is that moving the battle over abortion rights to the states is that Blue states like New York, Illinois, and California are fighting back with new pro-choice legislation and executive orders now.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and other top officials vowed that the most-populous state will be an abortion sanctuary and will lead other liberal areas seeking to protect reproductive rights in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling dismantling Roe v. Wade.

State lawmakers are quickly advancing bills to expand abortion access, including a measure to let voters to decide in November whether to enshrine the right to the procedure in California’s constitution. Newsom, a Democrat up for re-election in the liberal bastion in November, signed a bill on Friday that would protect out-of-state abortion seekers from civil actions in their home states, as well as local providers.

“I want folks to know all around the rest of the country and many parts of the globe, that I hope we’re an antidote to your fear, to your anxiety, perhaps to the cynicism that many of you are feeling about the fate and future of not only our state but the world we’re living in,” Newsom said.

The governor appeared in a Friday briefing with his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senate President pro tempore Toni Atkins, reproductive rights advocates and state legislators to express outrage, sorrow and resolve after the highest court struck down the 1973 decision that established abortion rights.

Newsom has proposed a $125 million package to bolster abortion access in his state. The money would go to providing care for uninsured people, improving infrastructure for reproductive health facilities and giving grants for outreach and education. He also has proposed that companies that move to California from areas with restrictive laws on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights would have a stronger chance of winning tax credits aimed at increasing employment and capital investment.


But the bad news is your rights to your body as a woman are now soley determined by where you live, and that is an unsustainable situation. By the end of the year I expect multiple red states will have Texas style bounty laws, not to get around Roe anymore, but to draft citizens into ratting out their pregnant sisters, mothers, co-workers, churchgoers.  
The fight over whether anti-abortion states can imprison pregnant people who go to other states to get an abortion is the next big legal battle, and all indications are that this court will say yes they can based on Alito's ruling in Dobbs, that the state has a duty to protect the unborn by punishing women who seek abortion elsewhere.

This is the new regime coming in Texas, Missouri and other states very soon. The goal on Dobbs now shifts to a national ban on abortion, because this was never about babies, or state's rights. It's about control and punishment. And even if we fight back and keep Congress and the WHite House, this court has shown that it will go as far as it takes to yank rights away from people. A ruling on "fetal personhood' classifying all abortion as murder is on the horizon.
And let's remember that a Roberts Court that trashed Roe can and will take numerous other Civil Rights Era decisions and toss them into the sun. It's all on the table now, segregation and discrimination protections, same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights,  contraception, the whole damn enchilada.

The battle's over for Roe. The war over Dobbs is just beginning.
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