Sunday, June 26, 2022

Speaking of Which

I suppose after the Roe v. Wade reversal, I have to write one of these, if only as a placeholder in the notebook. As usual, the best place to look on Supreme Court rulings is with Ian Millhiser. Start with: [06-24] The end of Roe v. Wade, explained. As Millhiser notes, this ruling has little to do with legal theory -- it's been increasingly clear for some time that the "conservative majority" is just making shit up (in that, Gore v. Bush back in 2000 was a harbinger) -- but reflects a political coup accomplished through decades of the right scheming to pack the Court with their cultists. I wrote a bit about the politics in a recent Facebook comment to a post by Greg Magarian, a law professor at Washington University, in St. Louis, where I studied for a couple of years). Magarian wrote:

No institution in the United States has taken a harder line against abortion rights than the Catholic Church.

As of 2018, Catholics made up just under a quarter of the U.S. population. About half of them -- just over a tenth of the total population -- typically vote Republican.

Seven of the nine Supreme Court Justices are Catholic. Six of those seven (all but Sotomayor) are Republicans -- two thirds of the total Court.

Those six Catholic Republican Justices make up the entire right-wing majority that voted to uphold the Mississippi abortion law and -- except for Roberts -- to overturn fifty years of abortion rights precedent.

This is what Kavanaugh refers to as "neutrality."

My comment:

Back around 1970, in "The Emerging Republican Majority," Kevin Phillips argued that Republicans would become the majority party if they could flip two traditionally Democratic constituencies -- southern Baptists and northern Catholics. They did this by orchestrating a cultural backlash, most obviously based on race but abortion gave them a way to use religion. (The Schlafly backlash against women's rights was also a factor.) I've long viewed Missouri as the laboratory for this transformation. In the 1950s the state was solidly Democratic, but regionally divided: the cities and river valleys on the D side, the northern plains and the Ozarks on the other. The Danforths share a lot of the credit/blame for this transformation. It took another 20 years for Missouri's anti-abortion politics to spread to Kansas (in the 1990s, although Bob Dole jumped the gun in 1972), where WASP Republicans had easily ruled since the 1860s (aside from a brief Populist interlude) and had no need of such scheming. The Republican use of select Catholic doctrines has mostly been purely cynical (although there are cases of conservatives converting, like Sam Brownback, whose devotion to the cause is more devoutly evil). As for the Catholic dominance of the Supreme Court, that seems to be an artifact of the Federalist Society's control of the nominee list, which was largely a reaction to Souter's apostasy after he joined the court. Conservatives had seen many seemingly solid WASP nominees turn into liberals after joining the Court, and wanted to put a stop to that. I haven't looked into just why the FS almost exclusively nominates Catholics, so I'm reluctant to speculate as to why, other than to note that they have much in common with cults.

Millhiser also wrote a deeper historical piece that you should read: [06-25] The case against the Supreme Court of the United States. I recently picked up a copy of Millhiser's book on this same topic, Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted. One thing few people realize now is how fortunate those of my age cohort (the "boomers") were to grow up in a period when the Court was expanding individual rights against the tyranny of the politically connected elite. Those days are gone, and outrage against "Supreme Injustice" is coming back. Life was certainly easier and less fraught when we didn't need to worry about the Supreme Court taking our rights away.

Some more links on the Supreme Court this week:

  • Zack Beauchamp: [06-24] At least Clarence Thomas's odious Dobbs concurrence was honest. I'm not sure "honest" is the word we're looking for here. Maybe you could say it was "candid" or "revealing" (a subhed is "How Thomas exposed the majority's incoherence"). It's a commonplace to say that "you can't negotiate with terrorists," but isn't the real lesson that you can't compromise with people who are always coming back for more. Thomas may not be a terrorist, but he's sure relentless in his determination to make America bleaker and more cruel.
  • Margaret Carlson: [06-25] Apocalypse Now: Abortion, Guns, and the Supreme Court: "Welcome to the new, horrifying normal."
  • Irin Carmon: [06-24] The Dissenters Say You're Not Hysterical.
  • Jonathan Chait: [06-24] Now We See What Happens When Social Conservatives Take the Wheel: "The Christian right's power finally becomes real." Well, yes and no. They'll still feel like outsiders until they get their way on dozens of other issues. But the right-wing Court has already given them several other victories -- like allowing them to claim a religious exemption against conforming to laws they don't like, and forcing states to subsidize their exclusivist schools -- and no doubt more are coming. This is not a bad time to review Chris Hedges' 2007 book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Wouldn't be a bad time for him to update it, either.
  • Michele Goodwin: [06-26] No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution. Author is a law professor, and author of Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood. Last year she wrote a piece relevant here: I Was Raped by My Father. An Abortion Saved My Life.
  • Melissa Gira Grant: [06-24] The Fight for Abortion Rights Must Break the Law to Win: This article makes me squeamish, because it shouldn't have to be this way. But the struggles for civil rights, for labor rights, women's rights, the environment, against the war machine, both in the US and nearly everywhere else, have often ran up against the written law and its hired thugs. One reason I'm squeamish could even be that the anti-choice movement has so often resorted to criminal behavior on their own -- the assassination of Dr. George Tiller is one we here in Wichita will never forget or forgive.
  • Jake Grumbach/Christopher Warshaw: [06-25] Many states with antiabortion laws have pro-choice majorities. But do they have functioning democracy?
  • Carl Hulse: [06-24] Kavanaugh Gave Private Assurances. Collins Says He 'Misled' Her. Well, it's not like anyone else was fooled.
  • Natasha Ishak: [06-25] Trigger laws and abortion restrictions, explained. Also: In 48 hours of protest, thousands of Americans cry out for abortion rights.
  • Ankush Khardori: [06-24] Trump's Big Payback. Easy to write: "Donald rump delivered his end of the bargain he made with Republican elites and voters years ago. Support me despite my corruption, my gross personal failings and transgressions, and my persistent debasement of the presidency, and I'll do your bidding on the issue closest to your hearts: abortion." No doubt that was true for some people, but lots of Trump voters liked his corruption, failings, transgressions, and especially debasement. They may or may not have cared about abortion, but politics is a package business: you have to buy it all, even if you wish you could throw much of it away. If 2016 was a straight up referendum on abortion, Hillary Clinton would have won, but other factors tipped the election, and history isn't forgiving.
  • Caroline Kitchener: [06-25] Roe's gone. Now antiabortion lawmakers want more.
  • Ezra Klein: [06-26] The Dobbs Decision Isn't Just About Abortion. It's About Power. Interview with Dahlia Lithwick. Transcript here.
  • Josh Kovensky: [06-24] Alito Changed Next to Nothing From the Leaked Draft: That was a question that occurred to me but I hadn't seen answered elsewhere. The leaked draft, you may recall, sounded completely bonkers, yet Roberts and Kavanaugh continued to support the finding, even while trying to qualify it in their own opinions.
  • Claire Lampen: [06-24] Life After Roe Starts Now: "The Supreme Court decision ensures a health-care crisis that will ripple out across the country." Last paragraph starts: "Despite positioning themselves as 'pro-life,' conservatives show painfully little concern for the children and families their laws will force into existence." Examples follow.
  • Jill Lepore: [06-24] The Supreme Court's Selective Memory. It didn't take long to realize that when Scalia spoke of "originalism," he simply meant whatever he happened to think at the time. Scalia's no longer here to channel what the Founders originally thought, but his heirs are equally adept at reinventing the past.
  • Ian Millhiser: [06-23] The Supreme Court's new gun ruling means virtually no gun regulation is safe: "New York State Rifle v. Bruen is poorly reasoned. But its implications are potentially catastrophic." Millhiser also wrote: [06-21] The Supreme Court tears a new hole in the wall separating church and state.
  • Rani Molla: [06-24] 5 ways abortion bans could hurt women in the workforce.
  • Nicole Narea: [06-24] The end of Roe is only the beginning for Republicans, and [06-25] Republicans are eyeing a nationwide abortion ban. Can they pull it off?
  • Charles P Pierce: [06-24] The Hard Right Has Gotten What It Paid For: "The Court's decision on Friday was a victory for clinic bombers, murderous snipers, stalkers of doctors, and vandals of all kinds." Points to the deep connection between the Koch network and the Federalist Society, brokering some kind of deal that swung the 2016 presidential election. Also: "States will be in conflict the way they haven't been since the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850."
  • Nia Prater: [06-24] 'A Woman Has No Rights to Speak Of': Read Liberals' Supreme Court Dissent.
  • Nathan J Robinson: [06-24] The Supreme Court Is Coming Dangerously Close to Complete Illegitimacy. Robinson also wrote back when the draft opinion was leaked [05-07] The Atrocious Reasoning of Samuel Alito.
  • Greg Sargent/Paul Waldman: [06-24] 5 big truths about the Supreme Court's gutting of Roe:
    1. The court's decision is both straightforward and incredibly sweeping.
    2. The court is only getting started.
    3. Democrats need a fundamental rethink to meet this moment.
    4. Democrats must make very clear promises about what's next.
    5. Democrats must make this stick -- hard -- politically.
  • Dylan Scott: [06-24] The end of Roe will mean more children living in poverty. Curious how "pro-life" concerns end at birth. Scott also wrote: [06-24] The dire health consequences of denying abortions, explained.
  • Adam Serwer: [06-25] The Constitution Is Whatever the Right Wing Says It is.
  • Jia Tolentino: [06-24] We're Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We're Going Somewhere Worse: "We are entering an era not just of unsafe abortions but of the widespread criminalization of pregnancy."
  • Jillian Weinberger: [06-24] How the US polarized on abortion -- even as most Americans stayed in the middle.
  • Jessica Winter: [06-25] The Supreme Court Decision That Defined Abortion Rights for Thirty Years: "The centrist, compromising view of reproductive rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casely helped clear the path to overturn Roe v. Wade."
  • Kate Zernike: [06-25] How Did Roe Fall "Before a Decisive Ruling, a Powerful Red Wave." Singles out the 2010 mid-terms, where Republicans flipped a majority of state legislatures, which they then used to gerrymander districts, rig elections, and introduce an endless stream of bizarre laws. The focus on abortion was just one of many areas where they relentlessly pushed the envelope of what was acceptable, sane even (guns too). "Over time the attack on Roe has become more than an attack on abortion; it has become an attack on democracy."
  • Mary Ziegler: [06-24] If the Supreme Court Can Reverse Roe, It Can Reverse Anything. Or, as seems increasingly the case, just make shit up. Those of us old enough to remember right-wingers complaining about liberals "legislating from the bench" are finding this new regime exceptionally bizarre.
  • [06-25] 18 Ways the Supreme Court Just Changed America: Various "thinkers" at Politico weigh in, with takes all over the place. At least a third of these are blatantly ridiculous. Even the ones who seem justifiably alarmed don't seem to have a firm grasp of reality. I am especially disturbed by the pictures, here and elsewhere, of the "Students for Life protesters." Who are these women? And how did they get tangled up in this cynical political conspiracy? They seem so happy, failing so completely to grasp that abortion is always an exception, where the rules they think they can impose through their wishes break down in rare but real tragedy. Such naive belief must be delicious, but turns blind and cruel when backed up with the force of law.
    • 'People who seek abortions will seek to circumvent these laws.'
    • Young people 'won't see this country as a democracy.'
    • 'This decision will push abortion to the center of every political race in the country and polarize U.S. politics even more.'
    • This decision will 'give both parties an opportunity to move toward the center on abortion.'
    • 'The court's invalidation of Roe v. Wade will fire the starting gun on yet another wave of overtly violent conflict.'
    • 'In a post-Roe America, I am hopeful that our society will rebuild, and out communities will heal.'
    • 'It's hard to see how the issue will do much at the national level.'
    • This decision will 'place the reproductive health of Black women and other women of color at great risk.'
    • 'The American people will be forced to talk to one another, reason together.'
    • Expectant parents will not be able to fully use the powerful tools and knowledge of genetic testing and prenatal screening.
    • The decision will 'exacerbate the partisan and regional division on abortion that is already in place.'
    • 'There will be civil war.'
    • The anti-abortion movement will 'look to the conservative justices for protection for fetal personhood.'
    • The court could craft 'a new, more modern and justice-focused decision upholding the right to abortion.'
    • 'Conservatives must urgently embrace a whole-life approach.'
    • 'Making abortion illegal will not materially affect the number of abortions.'
    • 'A trajectory of many years of laws that increasingly see women's health and autonomy as secondary to those of fetuses.'
    • 'Abortion opponents will not be appeased until abortion is entirely eliminated.'

Since we're here, some other stories, briefly noted:

Ukraine: The war grinds on, with Russia continuing to make small gains in Luhansk, including their capture of Severodonetsk, and little interest from either side in ending the war. Some stories:

  • Katrin Bennhold/Jim Tankersley: [06-26] Ukraine War's Latest Victim? The Fight Against Climate Change. It's hard to wean yourself while you're panicking to get more to make up for lost access to Russian oil and gas. E.g.: Germany will fire up coal plants again in an effort to save natural gas.
  • Andrew Cockburn: [06-24] Why Sanctions Always Fail.
  • Jen Kirby: [06-23] Russia's territory in Europe is the latest source of Ukraine war tensions: Kaliningrad is a majority-Russian (87%) city and territory on the Baltic Sea, named in 1946 when the Soviet Union started redesigning the borders of eastern Europe. Before, the city was known as Köningsberg, at least after it became part of Prussia in 1525 (or 1657, following a short Swedish occupation). After 1918, it remained part of Germany, but was separated by a Polish corridor. In 1946, 100,000 Germans were expelled, and by 1948 400,000 Russians had moved in, so Stalin decided to keep it as part of the RFSFR instead of giving it to Lithuania (which separates it from Russia, but the Lithuanian population is only 0.4%). However, the land barrier is giving Lithuania an excuse to disrupt land transportation between Russia and Kaliningrad. This strikes me as an unnecessary provocation and a dangerous escalation of the sanctions regime. [PS: Needless to say: [06-24] Russia Blames US for Lithuania's Kaliningrad Embargo.]
  • Anatol Lieven: [06-20] Ukraine minister Kuleba accuses critics of being 'enablers of Putin': His is a name you should recognize when it appears in outlandishly hawkish op-eds. I give Biden some credit in not playing Bush's "either you're with us or against us" ultimatum, but Kuleba has no such cares. He is having the time of his life.
  • Branko Marcetic: [06-24] Western Sanctions on Russia Aren't Working as Intended: They started with an overestimation of the costs to Russia, and an almost complete ignorance of the self-costs they would produce. They helped to rally public support for Putin in Russia, while they've undercut political support at home -- e.g., their contribution to inflation is hurting Biden, even if support for the war hasn't eroded. I'm not surprised. I've always thought that the best excuse for sanctions was that they were a way to feel like you're doing something to Putin short of directly escalating a war that could easily become worse.
  • John P Ruehl: [06-24] The Ukraine War's Role in Exacerbating Global Food Insecurity.
  • Liz Sly: [06-25] Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Western assessments predict. So there's light at the end of the tunnel? Excuse me if I've heard that one before. Unless NATO starts reinforcing troops (which would be a really bad idea), Russia has significantly more resources that it can continue to bring to bear (assuming Putin still wants to).

Inflation: Look: Democrats worked hard to save the economy from collapse during the pandemic, both in early 2020 when the stock market plunged so bad even Republicans were willing to play along, and in early 2021 when they pushed a serious stimulus bill through to get things moving again. The reforms weren't targeted as precisely as possible, so some people came out of the crisis better off than before, while others barely survived. But Republicans had nothing to offer, other than their bitter opposition, which along with a couple of chickenshit Democratic senators eventually brought better prospects to a halt. Meanwhile, the disruptions caused (and still being caused, e.g., in China) by the pandemic messed up supply chains, and sudden shifts in supply and demand got converted into higher prices -- the same sort of price gouging we saw early in the pandemic. All this adds up to higher consumer prices (aka inflation, although many economists tie the word more closely to higher wages, which is what they really get worked up about).

  • Ahmari Anthony: [02-10] The Meat Industry's Middlemen Are Starving Families and Farmers.
  • Kate Aronoff: [06-24] Inflation Is Scrambling Joe Biden's Brain. Biden's embraced the idea of a "gas tax holiday," where the savings wouldn't amount to much, and almost certainly go not to consumers but to companies profit lines. Kevin T Dugan: [06-22] Joe Biden, Oil Man notes that Republicans oppose Biden's proposal, not wanting to give Biden any credit for lowering prices, especially given that they may already be declining.
  • Michael Hudson: [06-22] The Fed's Austerity Program to Reduce Wages. Politicians may cite higher consumer prices as inflation, but the only inflation the Fed takes seriously is wages, not least because the only tool the Fed has to combat inflation is to put people out of work, to make workers desperate enough to accept less. As for the rest: "The Fed is all in favor of asset-price inflation." Also note: "The economy cannot recover as long as today's debt overhead is left in place. Debt service, housing costs, privatized medical care, student debt and a decaying infrastructure have made the U.S. economy uncompetitive."
  • Paul Krugman: [06-23] Beware the Dangers of Sado-Monetarism.
  • Phillip Longman: [06-20] It's the Monopoly, Stupid: "Unchecked corporate power is fueling inflation."
  • Alexander Sammon: [06-21] Skyrocketing Rent Is Driving Inflation.

Eric Alterman: [06-24] Will the Oligarchs Who Own the US Media Save Democracy? Don't Bet on It.

Justin Elliott/Jesse Eisinger/Paul Kiel/Jeff Ernsthausen/Doris Burke: [06-21] Meet the Billionaire and Rising GOP Mega-Donor Who's Gaming the Tax System: Susquehana founder and TikTok investor Jeff Yass.

Ben Jacobs: [06-23] Donald Trump's cuckoo coup: By all rights, the January 6 Committee hearings should be dominating the news this week. Thanks to Republican non-participation, we've never seen Congressional hearings this clear and focused, so free of cant and obfuscation. Sure, the net result is pretty much what we understood at the time: an understanding that led almost immediately to Trump's second impeachment. Jacobs also wrote: [06-22] A new right-wing super PAC is attacking Liz Cheney as a "DC diva". More on the hearings:

  • David Brooks: [06-08] The Jan. 6 Committee Has Already Blown It: Doesn't take much to be a "right-centrist" pundit these days, does it? He moans that "these goals are pathetic." Why bother investigating things that merely happened? Why not ask for the impossible? "We need a committee that will preserve democracy on Jan. 6, 2025, and Jan. 6, 2029." But isn't part of the threat to 2025 and 2029 the fact that a lot of people still don't understand the horror of Jan. 6, 2021? Maybe it won't do any good to explain it again, calmly and thoroughly, as the Committee is trying to do, but does Brooks have a better idea? Not this week.
  • Jen Chaney/Benjamin Hart: [06-26] What Has Made the January 6 Hearings Such Great Television?
  • Richard L Hasen: [06-24] No One Is Above the Law, and That Starts With Donald Trump. I remember hearing that phrase a lot when Clinton was president. Much less so with Bush. And while it's something one would like to think is true about Trump, he seems to have proven that he is, if not above the law, at least beyond its reach. On the other hand, even if it were possible to indict and convict Trump on any of hundreds of possible charges, don't think that would prove the justice system in America is, you know, just. Just lucky, which at the moment it isn't.
  • Robert Kuttner: [06-23] The Consequences of Indicting Trump. With right-wingers complaining that the January 6 Committee hearings are a "show trial," it's interesting to imagine how a real trial would be different. For one thing, the power of subpoena and the penalties for perjury would be stronger. The most likely problem is that defining the crime would be more difficult: it is obvious that Trump's efforts to cling to power skitted around all sorts of malfeasances, but he was operating in territory where no one had ever ventured before, and which hadn't been anticipated and coded into law. The other obvious problem is selecting a jury that would be able to judge the case precisely on the merits, without fear of future reprisals. And while the case itself could be presented in non-political terms, it won't be heard that way, at least by the public. Even Kuttner spends much more time speculating on political ramifications.
  • Charles P Pierce: [06-23] There's Always One Guy in the Office Who Will Act on the Boss's Worst Ideas: In Trump's DOJ, that turned out to be Jeffrey Clark. Also: Trump's Misfit Goons Simply Could Not Shut Up About What They Were Doing.
  • Nathan J Robinson: [06-16] The Dangers of Praising Mike Pence and Liz Cheney: "Democrats need to stop praising horrible neoconservatives."

Kathryn Joyce: [06-24] 'National Conservative' manifesto: A plan for fascism -- but it's not hypothetical. Document, came out of a conference last fall, hard to tell how seriously to take it, but one speaker sequence mentioned here suggests it's not just a few "think-tankers": Rick Santorum, Nigel Farage, Mark Meadows.

Jen Kirby: [06-23] Afghanistan's staggering set of crises, explained: "Almost a year after Kabul's fall and the US's withdrawal, the economy remains in free fall, and the country faces a near-constant humanitarian disaster." Why do you think it was any better when the US military was ensconced in Kabul? Granted, it probably looked better to Americans, with their governmment pumping up a bubble around them, but if it was so great why did the people let the Taliban back in? Not unpredictably, US sore-loserdom has set in, with the US seizing Afghan assets abroad, and refusing to provide humanitarian aid for a crisis large of its own making. Continued US hostility also gives away any change at leverage that engagement might offer. This only plays into the hands of the most reactionary elements of the Taliban, who much like reactionary elements here are the least competent of all possible administrators. Of course, the US has played the sore-loser card many times before. North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Syria, and Iran are countries we once supposedly cared for but stand today as monuments to America's hurt vanity. One reason this has popped up again is that Afghanistan was hit by an earthquake last week, killing at least 1,000. See: Adam Weinstein: [06-24] Earthquake poses test of US resistance to the Taliban.

Rohan Montgomery: [06-26] The First Item on the G7 Agenda Should Be to Cancel the Global South's Debt: "The simplest way to fight global warming and injustice at the same time would be for the world's richest countries to end the vicious debt cycle that forces poor countries to exploit natural resources." Of course, it's not going to happen. The reason the G7 is the G7 is that they're happily collecting rent from the rest of the world. Also that most of the rent doesn't go to the governments, but to the moguls and oligarchs those governments serve. After WWII it became clear that Western Colonialism wouldn't be sustainable, so they came up with a new way to continue the exploitation without the political visibility. That was debt, which along with intellectual property rents keeps the Global South down.

Nicole Narea: [06-21] What Eric Greitens's "RINO hunting" ad means for the Missouri Senate race. Gross, gratuitous violence, sure, but isn't it weird when Greitens huffs: "Order your RINO Hunting Permit today!" Here he is, urging followers to commit crimes, but insisting that they need a permit first? And who exactly is issuing these permits?

Nicole Narea: [06-24] Congress passes a landmark gun control package: "Landmark" is a bit of a stretch, as it doesn't do much -- so little a handful of Republicans went along with it, perhaps confident after the Supreme Court's gun ruling this week that the courts will strip it down even further. On that angle, see [06-24] So is Bruen the reaso a few Republicans went along with a gun bill?

Jim Robbins/Thomas Fuller/Christine Chung: [06-15] Flooding Chaos in Yellowstone, a Sign of Crises to Come.

Jeffrey St Clair: [06-24] Roaming Charges: The Anal Stage of Constitutional Analysis.

Raymond Zhong: [06-24] Heat Waves Around the World Push People and Nations 'To the Edge'.

Daily Kos headlines:

I've started following Rick Perlstein's Twitter feed. Here's one highly a propos:

The rationalizations you'll be hearing right-wingers slinging for all the misery their ideas are about to loose on the world will be epic. More and more people will realize how surreal their mental world can be. The fever will not "break"; the fever is the whole enchilada.

I also follow Zachary Carter, whose book The Price of Peace is one of the best I've read in the last couple years, but I take exception to this:

Feels a lot like a crisis of inaction. Bad things keep happening and Biden can't or won't respond. Today's Roe repeal is the sort of thing that could be a political opportunity for Democrats, but the party has no plausible plan to do anything about it.

But aren't there several plausible plans in play: blue states are passing legislation codifying support for abortion rights, and offering sanctuaries; Congress could do the same if Democrats had slightly larger majorities; with larger majorities, the Supreme Court itself could be reformed (the subject of an op-ed by Jamelle Bouie: How to Discipline a Rogue Supreme Court. Sure, some Democratic plans in the past haven't worked out so well, like Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, which was at least partially sold on the need to prevent the right-wing takeover of the Supreme Court.

There are other areas where Biden and the Democratic leadership are coming off as more inept, not least because they are conflicted. There is no good solution for inflation without also considering all other economic factors, including inequality and the environment, and sane people have serious disagreements about what to do when there. Also on the Ukraine War and many other foreign policy disasters, which are the end result of decades of bad policy and missed opportunities. The simple fact is that any time a Democrat gets elected president -- and that only seems to happen after a Republican has made a total botch of the world -- that Democrat is going to be hit with multiple crises that have been gestating over long periods of time, then hampered by not having the power or the good will to do what really needs to be done. Somehow Republicans get a free pass on blame, and new chances to fuck things up even more, knowing that Democrats will have to clean up their messes, and will be found wanting for doing so, which will kick off yet another cycle of rage and retribution.

The 2022 elections will ultimately come down to one question: do voters want the emotional satisfaction of punishing the Democrats for everything that's gone wrong, or will they wise up to the fact that Republicans have nothing constructive to offer, and that the only way to actually fix our problems is to give Democrats the power to do so? If the latter, of course, we'll have to keep a close eye on them, but at least we'll be dealing with people who recognize problems and are willing to reason about how best to solve them.

I've been reading Matthew Yglesias since he started blogging, at least up to the point when he went to Substack and started charging monthly (and also writing columns for Bloomberg, which for all I know probably has its own paywall). I sometimes wonder whether I should at least follow his Twitter feed, but sometimes a tweet like this leaks through:

I mean the obvious answer is that Hillary Clinton should have adopted more moderate positions on issues in 2016, allowing her to win slightly more votes and become president. That's the central failure of Democratic strategy over the past decade.

I'm hard pressed to recall what "more moderate position" she didn't adopt in 2016. As Jeet Heer noted, for VP she picked "a pro-life Catholic man like Tim Kaine." Was that meant to reassure us that she'd fight to the end to protect abortion rights? Besides, she did win "slightly more votes," but lost the election because she didn't win them where she most needed them. Folks who voted for Trump because they thought he's "fight for them" were foolish and stupid, but they got the body language right -- the mistake was in thinking Trump identified with them. But Hillary, despite all her sabre-rattling, was never going to "fight" for anyone. She was always going to bend over for the highest bidder. And thanks to our two-party system, she was all that stood between Trump and us.

One last tweet, from Barack Obama, hitting key points succinctly enough to be worth quoting:

Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues -- attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.

One more thing: I'd like to quote a particularly good paragraph by No More Mr. Nice Blog, which starts with a quote from a Ross Douthat column I didn't think worth citing above:

I guess whenever liberals are doing anything more than sending money to organizations we hope will sustain our civil rights, that's "radicalization" in Douthat's eyes. Yes, we're angry, and we're in the streets. But why does Douthat believe the anti-abortion movement will need "durable majority support"? Universal background checks and an assault weapons ban have "durable majority support." Higher minimum wages have "durable majority support." Roe itself had "durable majority support." The right doesn't care. The right knows how to hold on to power without having any popular positions, and the right also knows how to gum up the works when it temporarily loses power so it will regain power quickly. The right doesn't need a popular stance on abortion, any more than it needs a popular stance in guns or wages. It just needs to cling to power by any means necessary.

Ever since Biden took office and the Democrats tied up the Senate, we've been seeing Republicans put on a master class in "clinging to power" and "gumming up the works" -- often with the help of self-hating Democrats and a mainstream media that keeps legitimizing Republicans no matter what they say or do.

He goes on, quoting Douthat again, then responds:

The people on the right who are "hostile to synthesis, conciliation and majoritarian politics" aren't "forces," they're the entire right. Even the ones who drew the line at returning an unelected president to office believe that the right should do whatever it can get away with, national consensus be damned.

And (there's no point in me inserting the Douthat quotes, because you can imagine them already):

Stop snickering. He really believes this. He thinks it's actually possible that a movement almost monomaniacally devoted to punitive acts will do a 180 and empathetically expand aid to poor parents in the name of conservatism. . . . Yes, once again Douthat is digging in the dung pile of the contemporary right, convinced that there must be a compassionate-conservative pony in there somewhere.

He also quotes from that "NatCon Manifesto" (see Kathryn Joyce link above).

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