A Republic, If You Can Keep It

I’ve thought so often this last two weeks about Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

These two paragraphs in particular, which I’ve shared in a past Fourth of July post, are more gripping than ever:

… What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. …

What, to the American woman — especially women of color and impoverished women — is this Fourth of July?

This nation’s gross injustice and cruelty has always been obvious to people of color; the amount and frequency has fluctuated over the nation’s history but it has always been present. That we can name names now like murdered Minnesotan George Floyd has been both a horror and a blessing; the general public can now see what has been less visible. We have been in a position to begin to address it.

But the American public’s attention has been shifted by the COVID pandemic, horribly managed under the Trump administration with the likely intent to hurt BIPOC the most because of their concentration in blue states. The anti-vax and anti-mask propaganda may have hurt majority white communities, too, but their access to health care has been far better than in majority-minority communities, nor has this propaganda’s COVID fallout changed how red states vote.

The American public’s attention has been shifted once again, this time by the Supreme Court’s absurd opinions from states’ ability to regulate guns to recolonization of Native American nation’s lands, to women’s bodily autonomy, to the nation’s ability to regulate CO2 and other emissions.

What is this Fourth of July now that women of childbearing age no longer have the ability to move freely across the U.S. without concern for their personal welfare? They can no longer be assured their health care is private from either the federal or states’ government. They can’t be certain they can seek health care and not be treated with the same level of consideration as their male counterparts since some states may have deputized individuals (including health care workers from doctors to janitors) to report their reproductive health care status.

Women of this same age group can’t be certain they will be saved from death if they have an ectopic pregnancy which bursts — and in the age of COVID, some drugs used to treat the virus may increase the chances of ectopic pregnancy.

This nation’s ongoing gross injustice and cruelty was flagrantly obvious in the case of the 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio, who by virtue of a matter of days could not receive an abortion in her home state and instead had to go to Indiana.

It is beyond cruel and inhumane to place a child at risk of mortality by insisting they carry their rapist’s spawn to term. In this country the risk of maternal mortality approaches one in 3000 pregnancies — it’s like the rapist, SCOTUS’s conservative majority, and Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislature playing Russian roulette for the duration of every unwanted pregnancy with worse odds for a child forced to carry to term, a form of sustained terror.

Indiana’s state legislature is already debating anti-abortion legislation which would make a flight from Ohio to Indiana for rape and incest victims seeking abortion impossible.

What is this Fourth of July to this victimized child and others like her who will suffer the same and worse injustice thanks to an unelected and irrational SCOTUS’s conservative majority?

~ ~ ~

What are these hollow celebrations to Native Americans whose autonomy has been recognized under federal law and treaties for more than two hundred but has now been violated as their lands were with SCOTUS’s decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta?

There have been discussions about the availability of reproductive services on Native Americans’ lands after the Dobbs’ decision. But if this same SCOTUS has now penetrated tribal lands to allow states to exercise policing in the name of public safety, are any women white, BIPOC, or Native Americans on their own nations’ land secure in their persons from incursions by states?

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It will not stop with cruelty and injustice for women of childbearing age. Americans who need birth control are already at risk as well as American couples in same-sex relationships and marriages. We can thank Clarence Thomas for this much: he did spell out the next targets this current SCOTUS will attack now that the unenumerated right to privacy for Americans has been arbitrarily stripped from them.

What is this Fourth of July and the next, to as much as 70 percent of this nation who are women, people in need of birth control, persons who are non-binary in relationships?

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But again, I think of of Douglass’s speech, made in 1852 before abolition of slavery with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Though blunt about the young nation’s failings toward Black persons, Douglass used the word ‘hope’ and ‘hopefully’ seven times in his speech.

“…There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon.

I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. …”

Hope is not an easy thing when one is under constant threat of enslavement and death simply because they had the luck to be born with a particular skin color to a particular group of people. Yet Douglass had it, as have the BIPOC people of this nation who have had to resist and persevere through many waves of progress and regression.

Douglass could see a trend which fed his hopes, writing,

…my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. …

This trend remains, obvious in the response of democratic nations toward Russia’s assault on Ukraine intent on overthrowing a sovereign autonomous people. This attack will not succeed; it has already failed in many ways by encouraging more cohesion between other democracies including Finland and Sweden’s intent to join NATO. It has failed by exposing how hollowed out and threadbare Russia has become, eaten away by the kleptocratic forces which emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The increased solidarity of democracies relied on regressive action and thought, stripping away the fuzziness of economics and culture, distilling the choice: violence against a sovereign autonomous democratic nation will not be accepted by other free, autonomous, democratic nations which will unify to support defense against such an illegitimate attack.

What must happen now within our own states is another regression — not that of the current SCOTUS conservatives’ majority’s thinking, but one which should be familiar.

I wrote four years ago during the Trump administration, after posting a copy of the Declaration of Independence:

The signatories to this document knew they also signed their death warrant. They debated this document thoroughly, understanding their lives, fortunes, and possibly the same of friends and family were staked on the success of the undertaking launched by this declaration (“corruption of blood” in family’s case, which so concerned the founders it was cited later in the Constitution’s Article III).

They staked blood and treasure for their thoughts and beliefs that the colonies must be free. The least we can do is remember this bravery and consider our own willingness to fight for this American democracy.

When asked in 1787 at the end of the Constitution Convention what form of government had been created, Ben Franklin answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What will we do to keep it?

We must regress and think once again upon the intent of the founders if we are to regain our progress. We can’t keep a government whose power is derived from the people and its elected representatives if we do not demand the Republican Form of Government guaranteed to us under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution unless we embrace the hope and faith in ourselves as a majority to do so.

It wasn’t fear which drove the founders to write that guarantee, but a sincere belief that a republic could be assured by its own citizens.

It is not a republic when a government erases the rights of its citizens — especially a majority of its citizens which women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ represent.

It is this failure which must be addressed; organized, focused, collective effort is needed to this end. Fear will only undermine the work to be done. Naysayers and doom-mongers must be ignored, their demoralization pushed aside.

By you he meant we, the people, when Franklin described the new nation’s government.

This remains a Republic, if we together can keep it.

~ ~ ~

Further reading:

The Necessity of Hope
Things are bad. They will get worse. But despair has never been an option.
By Rebecca Traister, The Cut – New York Magazine, June 24, 2022

These cursed United States
‘It’s time to be brave. Fear is not a plan.’
By Jared Holt, Sh!tpost, July 4, 2022

“Chile got out from under an actual dictator using peaceful means. …”
A Twitter thread
By Terry Kanefield, July 3, 2022

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Open Thread: Summer Sunday Afternoon

It’s a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a three-day holiday weekend. We’re all feeling the weight of the last several weeks’ horrors along with oppressive heat and humidity depending on where you live.

It’s a good afternoon to kick back and sip something cold while cracking open a beach read or a book you’ve put aside for a slow day. We deserve and need the relaxation.

~ ~ ~

“Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth…It has no day.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

~ ~ ~

“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered…sealed away for opening on a January day with snow falling fast and the sun unseen for weeks…”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

~ ~ ~

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.”
― Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

~ ~ ~

What are your summer reads? I’m working on Carol Leonnig’s Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service while I dog sit for my kids.

Tony Ornato appears several times in this text, by the way.

I think I may have made a mistake, though, choosing this text to read while caring for these two canines who are a lot like my kids — one is serious and mildly anxious, the other is as uncontrolled as an 11-month-old Aussie Shepherd mix can be and as smart but ADHD as their owner.

Not a good combo under my care when our white trash neighbors give in to their annual not-to-local-code zeal for fireworks. I don’t have any CBD for dogs on hand to give the jittery rat terrier-spaniel mix or the spastic Aussie when the sun sets and the neighbors’ first firecrackers are lit.

You may imagine me later this evening experimenting with white noise applications until I find one that works for dogs and fireworks. Hope for the best.

I’ll get as far as I can in the mean time while the dogs continue to loll about in the grass beneath the shade of my maple tree.

This is an open thread. Talk about your beach reads, or barbeque, or what not.

The post Open Thread: Summer Sunday Afternoon appeared first on emptywheel.

Something Stinks about Kentucky but It’s a Complex Stink

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

There are a bunch of people running around hair on fire right now bitching loudly and often about Biden fail.

Unfortunately much of this is a bunch of reflexive self sabotage by people who aren’t slowing down to take a fucking breath and think things through.

Take a moment and inhale deeply, then exhale. Take a second to relax before the questions after this jump.

~ ~ ~

What would you trade for 30-40 federal judgeships nominated by Biden and approved by the Senate before the end of this congressional term?

Would you trade one judgeship?

Now imagine if all of the 30-40 vacancies are filled with judges who have solid cred with Democratic Party values (read: pro-choice, pro-voters rights, pro-human rights).

Would you trade one future judgeship nominating an anti-abortion judge in a state which leans GOP for these vacancies?

That’s the deal Biden is reported to have made with Mitch McConnell over a single federal judgeship picked by the Federalist Society earmarked for the next (not currently open) seat in Kentucky.

~ ~ ~

Here’s where it gets all fucked up:

There’s no obvious open pre-emptive communications from the White House about this deal and what’s on the table. I imagine Biden didn’t want to piss off McConnell or the rest of the GOP in order to pull off this deal so the White House went mum. There’s no open seat so why get people rattled about this one seat while everyone is still extremely anxious over SCOTUS’ bullshit Dobbs decision overturning Roe.

The media is doing is usual bullshit; Gannett-owned Courier-Journal in Kentucky is the originating source for this story, and it’s solidly locked behind a paywall as most local Gannett papers tend to do. I can’t tell exactly what the sourcing was for this reporting because I can’t read it. For all I know the source was The Federalist Society itself, intent on fucking with Biden’s approval rating. Or McConnell who so far has done plenty to trash Biden’s approval with wall-to-wall obstruction holding all 50 GOP senators by the short hairs. Or perhaps even Rand Paul being his usual prickish self. Nobody running around yelling right now can offer any more details about sourcing.

Now G/O Media outlet Jezebel is running around trashing Biden based on Courier-Journal’s reporting:

Biden’s latest, deeply hypocritical move comes after he claimed to be fiercely defending women’s right to abortion now that states have been given the green light to ban it outright.

It’s as if they didn’t read the sourcing of their own fucking reporting, like this bit right here:

The federal courts are extremely important right now. The Republican Party’s (read: Mitch McConnell’s) entire strategy for the past few years has been to pack them with conservatives who will shut down any lawsuit attempting to defend abortion rights. Biden is under a lot of pressure to fill the current court vacancies he has with judges who are friendly to reproductive rights. And instead, he is making deals with McConnell to allow more anti-abortion judges into the fray.

The link is to a piece in Bloomberg Law, which reports,

Progressives want the White House and Senate Democrats to move faster. The usual summer congressional slowdown and November midterm campaigning leaves limited time for committee and floor action before a lame-duck session to end the year.

Senate Democrats, who have confirmed 16 circuit nominees in the first year and a half of Joe Biden’s presidency, are aiming to nearly double the tally in the next six months.

But filling all available vacancies is unlikely without changes to how the majority manages vetting, said John Collins, a George Washington University professor who tracks judicial nominations. “I just don’t think there’s enough time,” Collins said.

The hazard for Biden is that a Republican-controlled Senate would confirm few, if any, of his appellate nominees during the final two years of his first term. The 13 circuit courts are the last word on virtually all federal appeals.

Progressives wanted more federal judgeships faster.

Senate Dems want to confirm 32 before the end of the year.

If the Democrats can streamline vetting, there are at least 40 vacancies to be filled — not a one of them in Kentucky.

McConnell wants one future judgeship vacancy in his state in order to facilitate rapid approval.

But that’s not what Jezebel wanted to tell you. Oh no — it’s easier to fall back on the tried-and-true the “Biden’s Busted” variant of “Dems in Disarray” crap because the media in general has conditioned its audience not to question this. You the reader are meant to be braindead and go with it because you’ll have to pay to validate the reporting of one story to get to the bottom of this and you the audience may not know where and how to look for the number of federal judgeship vacancies.

Like here.

Just look at all the pretty red state vacancies!

~ ~ ~

Now the caveat: because the White House hasn’t issued formal communications about this alleged deal, it’s just that, an allegation — pure vaporware. We do not know with a degree of certainty who agreed to what in order to accomplish their aims.

Until we see something formal directly from a party to the agreement, this should be treated as speculation.

And it’s speculation Jezebel fell for, hook, line, and sinker.

(Side note: Probably doesn’t hurt to recall G/O Media is the successor to Gawker. Gawker’s Gizmodo outlet  fell for bullshit about Facebook being biased against conservatives just in time to get played before the 2016 election really heated up and Gawker went bankrupt thanks to Peter Thiel.)

~ ~ ~

There are a LOT of “Biden/Dem Fail” stories out there right now kicking around social media. Do NOT take them at face value. Dig in, looking for sourcing and attribution, business model if any involved; always ask, “Cui bono?

For crying out loud we all know the right-wing continues to follow Bannon’s playbook, “flooding the zone with shit”; they’re desperate to push both the House January 6 Committee hearings and the anger of childbearing people off the front page and out of social media.

That’s not to say the Democrats at various levels of the party ecosphere aren’t screwing up. Communications are a massive problem; they’re not bringing their A-game even though they know the right-wing ecosphere is well organized, well funded, and willing to be extremely nasty. Yet Dems top to bottom, elected to grassroots are still bringing butter knives to AR-15 gunfights instead of embracing the Chicago Way.

(As much as I respect Michelle Obama and her ethic, “We go high,” it doesn’t work with Nazis and Nazi enablers. Punch Nazis literally and figuratively. Concede no ground.)

Most — not all, thank you Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, for example — are making huge mistakes with fundraising right now off the back of the Dobbs decision. Stop it. Just stop.

Make instead an ask for action, tell Democratic voters what they can do first in order to beat back the fascist GOP’s attacks. Make money an ask at the end, not first.

And for dogs’ sake, get the fundamentals right, like copy editing and proofreading. Nothing makes any ask look more like a phishing attempt than half-assed communications.

But elected and appointed Dems, and Democratic Party officials with the DNC or state parties aren’t the only ones fucking up.

We are when we swallow bullshit without questioning it first, without pushing back whether there’s any merit to the bullshit or not, when we share the bullshit like stenographers without making a truth sandwich first a la George Lakoff, and when we don’t do our bit to be the left-wing media ecosphere we don’t otherwise have because we don’t buy big corporate media machines like the right-wing does. Share good, accurate news, rinse, repeat. Focus on driving constructive action.

Stop letting the right-wing kick our asses. Pull up your big people panties and fight back like you mean it. Make sure you’re aiming at your opposition not your own team.

The post Something Stinks about Kentucky but It’s a Complex Stink appeared first on emptywheel.

Open Thread: SCOTUS End of Term Releases

This is an open thread focused on Supreme Court orders and decisions released this week, the final week of the court’s term.

Check these Twitter accounts for more updates and analysis:

SCOTUS updates: https://twitter.com/USSupremeCourt – Updates

SCOTUSblog: https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog – Analysis

Steve Vladeck: https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner – Dedicated thread with updates and analysis

If you want to suggest any other Twitter accounts to follow for SCOTUS news and analysis, please share in comments.

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Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

All comments related to the House January 6 Committee hearings should be shared in those dedicated threads, not here

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

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If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

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28-JUN-2022

Ardoin, LA Secretary of State, et al. v. Robinson, Press, et al.

Certiorari Granted

Stay granted 6-3 by SCOTUS, essentially fucking over Black voters in Louisiana for this mid-term election by way of the shadow docket.

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