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Saturday, December 11, 2021

DOING MY DUTY AS A BLOGGER

As Yogi Berra is reputed to have said, it is tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Nevertheless, I have a certain obligation as a blogger so here goes:

 

First, I predict that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe V Wade in the Mississippi case, handing down its decision sometime in the Spring of next year.

 

Second, (this is not exactly a prediction) as soon as that happens, laws banning abortions now sitting on the books in many states will go into effect, almost all of them if not all of them in red states.

 

Third, once this happens the midterm elections will be entirely about abortion and the Republicans will be behind the eight ball. Antiabortion activists who have been voting Republican for decades will either not bother to come out, their dream having been realized, or else will drift back the Democrats. Meanwhile, scores of millions of women will immediately find themselves deprived of a right that they have had entire lives, a right that many of them have exercised and that they all count on. They will be up in arms.

 

This is the only way that the Democrats can hang onto the House and Senate, and I think there is a good chance they will.

 

Alternatively, we may be living in the last dying days of what passes for democracy in America.

 

In a fortnight I will be 88 years old and I suffer from Parkinson’s disease. You will perhaps understand why I cling to the first alternative so desperately.

76 comments:

Another Anonymous said...

Even so, the right of women to obtain an abortion will be abrogated in many states for years to come. Yesterday, J. Roberts joined the 3 liberals and wrote a scathing dissent, condemning the Texas statute as blatantly unconstitutional. He has lost control of the S. Ct. on this issue.

J. Thomas is 73 yrs. old; Alito is 71 yrs. old. They could both serve another 10 years, which means it will take at least three Presidential election cycles, and the election of a Democrat in 1232, for a chance of restoring a liberal majority on the S. Ct. Assuming Trump does not run in 1224, or loses if he does, a Republican will likely be elected in 1228, and possibly again in 1232, replacing Thomas and Alito with conservative jurists, continuing the abortion ban in many states for many more years to come. And how did all this come about? Oh, right, Hillary Clinton, the abominable lesser of two evils (but still “evil” as her detractors are wont to state) lost the 2016 election. And how did that happen? I’ve become a broken record on that issue.

David Palmeter said...

AA

My broken record about the 2020 election echoes yours, but goes back farther. The young voters who pouted after Humphrey got the 1960 nomination, didn’t vote and gave us Nixon (and Rhenquist on the S.Ct.) In 2000, the Greens with more than 90 thousand votes in Florida spoiled it for Gore who needed fewer than one thousand to be the clear winner. That gave us Roberts and Alito and such things as Citizens United and the Heller case, holding that the 2nd Amendment confers a personal right to bear arms. It also gave us a war in Iraq.

Another Anonymous said...

David,

Agreed. Voters do not appreciate how important a role the S. Ct. plays in their lives. Heller alone is responsible for the deaths of thousands due to gun violence.

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter,

We've argued about this previously, but...

First of all, Humphrey was the Democratic candidate in 1968, not 1960 as you claim above, but you know that.

We didn't vote for Humphrey because he had been LBJ's vice-president, had supported enthusiastically LBJ's escalation of the war in Viet Nam and we had utterly no reason to believe his promises that he would bring peace. Nixon also promised peace. LBJ had run as the peace candidate in 1964 and by 1968 we didn't trust the Democrats or the Republicans and had no reason to do so.

Viet Nam was the principle issue at that moment, but let's also recall Chicago Democratic Mayor Richard Daley and his very brutal police repression against anti-war demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic convention when Humphrey was nominated and the fact that Humphrey did not protest against that. We were anti-war, but we weren't masochists: that is, we had no reason to vote for a candidate who cheered on the police who were breaking our heads.

Was Nixon worse? I have no idea. As I said, we had no reason to believe Humphrey's promises since he was part of the incredibly untruthful LBJ administration. Yes, once upon a time Humphrey had been a true progressive, but as he aged, he went downhill, not uphill in his politica views and that's telling against him. Nixon at least was always Nixon. I have nothing but contempt for someone like Humphrey who could have been a progressive voice in Congress and let himself be corrupted by his closeness to power as vicepresident under warmongering LBJ.

james wilson said...

Thanks for clarifying the emotional, moral, and political problems that attach to voting, s. wallerstein. It’s not as if we don’t all know that we have to make choices of some sort amongst what’s on offer. This too has been discussed on this site before. And we all make mistaken political judgements. But it is always a bit galling to have the same accusations about how we, some of us, were responsible for Nixon, Bush, etc. etc. as if we, some of us, were simple minded ideological idiots. (It parallels, in a way, the sort of thing so many anti-abortionists engage in, as if women who seek an abortion did not engage in a lot of thought about their own present and future.) We could, of course, point to the state of our world and throw back the question/charge: where did your careful, ‘realistic’ political judgements get us—burgeoning inequality, climate change, the ever present threat of nuclear war, mass migrations, endless fiddles around racism, sexism, etc. etc? Yes, the “realists” have done a really great job. And we’re supposed to go on helping them do more and worse?

To move on to a different track: I find it very educational at times like this to read—yet again—Ronald Syme’s “The Roman Revolution.” Not least, it encourages me to try to view what’s unfolding in a rather more complex way than to focus with bitterness on past particular events. That’s a very shallow way to try to understand where we are, where we might be heading, and what we ought to try to do about all that.

PS. s.w. Knowing your particular interest in Chile, the following may be of interest. It’s also a lesson on political/electoral complexity: https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/chilean-stalemate

David Palmeter said...

s. wallerstein,

You are correct: I meant 1968.

As to Humphrey, it was widely discussed at the time that as LBJ's VP, he was trapped. He could not openly oppose the incumbent President of his own party. That's the role of the VP. But anyone remotely familiar with Humphrey's record on civil rights and peace/war knew that a President Humphrey would have changed course very quickly. He certainly would have supported and continued Johnson's Great Society and civil rights initiatives, but it was naive to think that he would not have changed course on Viet Nam.

s. wallerstein said...

James Wilson,

Thanks. It contains some minor factual errors, which aren't worth quibbling about here.

In one month between the general election and the run-off it seems very unlikely that Boric can incentivate poor and working class people who normally don't bother to vote into voting, as the article suggests that he should. The amount of apathy and distrust in politicians is too great to change in such a short time. So I believe that he is doing the correct thing in courting what might be called the "moderate vote", that is, the vote of people who scared by Kast's outright fascist tendencies and who while not seeking radical changes, accept a moderate version of European social democracy. While the article is correct that there is widespread anger against the system among poor and working class people, that anger is often apolitical and unfocused and there is no evidence that a more leftwing posture will convince those people to vote.

Howie said...

Black swan events have favored the Democrats- the pandemic, terrible though the waste of life wrought, ushered out Trump back to his solitary and dark tower- so an extreme event a Black Swan event, can blot out the creeping evil of the weeds of Republicans that threaten to strangle the garden of Democracy in our country.
I think their own violent urge to eradicate abortion will blind them to the black hole this black swan event will land them
But Professor, how will this work out precisely electorally and is it really sufficient to overcome rogue electoral officials and extreme gerrymadnering?

Another Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein,

According to my recollection, you have it wrong. LBH rejected Humphrey’s advice to withdraw from the war, and when Humphrey wrote a memo to LGH making that recommendation, LBJ turned on him. During the 1968 campaign, LBJ refused to campaign for Humphrey. Take a look at the photograph of a dismissive LBJ listening to Humphrey speak in the following article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/opinion/vietnam-hubert-humphrey.html

To quote from the article:

“On Sep. 30, 1968, Humphrey had enough of Johnson and his war, and in a speech in Salt Lake City he demanded a halt to the bombing. Humphrey called Johnson to warn him of the speech hours before. Johnson reacted coldly: ‘I take it you are not asking for my advice. You’re going to give the speech anyway>’ Johnson then shunned Humphrey for the remainder of 1968 – indeed, the question remains whether Johnson favored Richard Nixon over Humphrey in the election, and whether Johnson’s hatred of Humphrey led to his loss,”

Nor did Humphrey support Daley’s tactics at the 1968 Convention. He supported Sen. Ribicoff’s denunciation of Daley and the actions of his police storm troopers. The article reports Humphrey saying, in response to the shouts by the protesters to “Dump the Hump,” “All I had ever been as a liberal spokesman seemed lost, all that I had accomplished in significant programs was ignored. I was robbed of my personal history[.]” Hubert Humphrey was one of the most tragic figures in American history, and he would have made a great President – and, as David points out, our current S. Ct. would have been far different,

s. wallerstein said...

Another,

You might be right. I have not followed what has been written about Humphrey since. I don't recall him speaking out publicly against Daley's police repression nor had I (or anyone else who wasn't a Washington insider) any idea of Humphrey's differences with LBJ.

We voted or didn't vote for Humphrey in 1968, not 2021 and I believe that our decision not to vote for Humphrey was valid given what we knew in 1968. In retrospect it may have been a mistake.

In my opinion, a bigger man than Humphrey would have resigned as vice-president in protest against LBJ's escalation of the Viet Nam war. If he had done that, he would have been a hero. As it is, he goes down in history as complicit in a genocidal war.

james wilson said...


Aren’t you arguing two different points, AA?

In agreeing with David P. at 11:54 you seem to be siding with him in placing the blame for Humphrey’s defeat on “The young voters who . . . didn’t vote . . .” But when you quote, at 2:51 pm, from the NYT you seem now to be blaming Johnson (and by implication those who followed Johnson’s lead in 1968). I suppose the two streams of opposition to Humphrey could have conduced to the same end, though I can’t imagine that they actually collaborated to that end. Still, it does take some of the blame off “the [then] young” who are now old and who have gone god knows where in their politics—though not all of us have abandoned our faith and hope.

aaall said...

"Was Nixon worse? I have no idea."

Really? We now know that Nixon committed treason in 1968. He conspired with elements in the the South Vietnamese government, Kissinger, and Anna Chennault to sabotage the peace talks. Nixon brought into our politics a host of evil characters, some are still with us.

The far left in the United States too often suffers from the curious notion that the solution to a flawed center-left candidate is to facilitate the election of a far worse right-winger. This got us Nixon, Bush, and Trump. At some point marking that to market might be in order.

I would surmise that the Supreme Court wasn't part of your calculus and you never reflected on Nixon's vote for Taft-Hartley in 1947 and his Red-baiting campaign against Helen Douglas in 1950. We were in Vietnam because of the pathological post WW II anti-Communism that Nixon was instrumental in stoking. I remember the "who lost China" thing as well as Eisenhower's adventures in Guatemala and Iran and his belief in the Domino Theory. We are still dealing Iran and Guatemala.

Had Nixon won in 1960, we still would have had Vietnam, we just wouldn't have Medicare, Medicaid, etc.





Another Anonymous said...

Trivia question for the senior citizens (don’t look it up):

Who was Humphrey’s running mate in 1968?

Hint: He had two.

aaall said...

BTW, and re: DP, as I recall Humphrey was breaking with Johnson on the war and (as I pointed out above) there was a good chance the peace talks in Paris (which were going well) would have succeeded before the election.

Goldwater's nomination followed by Nixon's election four years later, coupled with the Civil Rights bills and the Southern Strategy seems to have permanently poisoned our politics.

Another Anonymous said...

Did I just make a mistake? Am I confusing Humphrey with George McGovern?

My neurons are rapidly deteriorating.

So, who were George McGovern's two running mates?

aaall said...

Eagleton and Shriver.

This could be our future:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/19/19-1392/185196/20210729093557582_210169a%20Amicus%20Brief%20for%20efiling%207%2029%2021.pdf

Another Anonymous said...

James Wilson,

Of course the two strands, as you put it, did not collaborate. But those who supported the war, and therefore had supported LBJ and then voted for Nixon, along with the flower children who denounced LBJ and were old enough to vote in 1968, but decided not to vote at all because they despised Humphrey, helped to elect Nixon and the continuation of the war – and its expansion into Cambodia -for another 6 years. I was too young to vote in 1968 (by one year), but after Sen. Kennedy was assassinated I wore an elect Humphrey button. And I have not given up hope or my liberal ideals – that is why I have voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1972 on – recognizing that the Republican candidate was always the worse of the two not-evil choices, except when it came to Trump, who was and is truly evil. In a world where reality ultimately rules, it does not hurt to be a realist.

David Palmeter said...

AA

McGovern's two running mates were Tom Eagleton and Sargent (sp?) Shriver.

I once heard Tip O'Neill tell the story of the time in the 72 campaign when he was with Shriver in western PA. The key was to be at the plant gate early in the morning to shake hands when the guys went to work, and then to hit a few bars after 4 p.m. when they had a post-work drink.

So the bar is full and in walks Shriver with his delegation and they shout "Drinks on house from Sarge Shriver, the next vice president!!!" Among wild cheering the guys order their drinks: a beer, a shot and beer etc. Finally the bartender yells "Everybody's ordered but you, Sarge. What'll you have?" "I'll have a Courvoisier!"

Another Anonymous said...

Congratulations aaall and David.

I nominate both of you as contestants on Jeopardy.

Another Anonymous said...

aaall,

I just looked at your link. Yuck!!

I am actually in the process of drafting a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court. If the Court (fingers crossed) grants my petition, I will be sure to let you all know.

james wilson said...

I concede your relative youthfulness, AA. But the fact that you were so young in 1968 suggests to me that you were probably not aware of the dilemmas s. wallerstein pointed up--or, to put it in a more qualified way, you were likely not as acutely, painfully aware of these dilemmas as others a little bit older than you had been engaged with for several years. And most of us were only beginning to become aware of these dilemmas in 1963-65. I recall an anthropologist at the Columbia Teach-In, after recounting his efforts to educate people on what was happening in Vietnam since the mid 1950s sadly asking, "where have you all been?"

On another point: I'm afraid I see little merit in partisan consistency. It seems more like tribalism or religiosity than realistic politics. But then I've long gone along with the notion "no gods and precious few heroes." Being somewhat generous (in my own estimation) regarding my fellow humans, I have in recent times taken to adding "no devils and precious few villains." Hobbesians and Machiavellians may have a problem with this, but I don't care. Best wishes.

PS. The fact that your partisan political choice in 1968 marked you for the rest of your political life conforms, I believe, with a fairly well established conclusion of political science. (There aren't too many such empirical conclusions in that discipline. So you should be pleased to be such an exemplary citizen. Of course, there were others who chose a different partisanship in 1968, and they too have been sticking to their guns [no pun intended].)

Jerry Brown said...

I love this blog. Makes me feel like a youth. Well-you can't blame me for Nixon cause I was just one year old when he was elected.

I do think that the older you get the more likely you are to have learned a few things. Pretty sure the 88 year old Robert Paul Wolff is more worth listening to than the 21 year old version. Goes for the rest of you too to a certain extent:)

Anonymous said...

You're an optimist, Jerry. I'm sure there's a vast literature on cognitive decline.

David Palmeter said...

Jerry Brown,

"I do think that the older you get the more likely you are to have learned a few things."

The older I get, the more I believe that that's true.

s. wallerstein said...

Not only are you likely to have learned a few things as you get older, but also you are likely to have forgotten more.

David Palmeter said...

s. wallerstein

It's true that we do forget much of the past, but my larger problem is forgetting much of the present. I remember my first girl friend's telephone number, but I can't remember my own cell phone number. (I've written it down and carry the it in my wallet along with my wife and childrens' numbers.) I've forgotten how many times I leave the room I'm in to get something in another room and when I get there forget what I was coming after.

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter,

I hear you, brother.

Another Anonymous said...

I just got back from grocery shopping, and, while driving to the store I reflected back on the 1968 election campaign and what happened to Sen. Eagleton. Readers of this blog born after 1980 may wonder how it was possible for Sen. McGovern to have had two running mates. Sen Eagleton had been an exemplary liberal senator from Missouri. Early in the campaign, shortly after the conclusion of the Democratic convention, newspapers reported that Sen. Eagleton had, at one time, undergone electro-shock therapy for depression. There were calls for him to resign. I, being young and idealistic, argued with my father, a diehard Democrat, that he should not resign, that it would place a stigma on those who suffered from emotional and mental health issues. My father said to me, “Son, be realistic. This country cannot risk having a Vice President, and possible President, who may break down under stress.” So, Sen. Eagleton resigned, to be replaced by Sargent Shriver, Pres. Kennedy’s brother-in-law and the first director of the Peace Corps. I do not remember what role, if any, the Nixon campaign played in outing Sen. Eagleton. But after that imbroglio, the McGovern campaign, which was facing an uphill battle to begin with, was doomed. It is ironic, and a demonstration of very poor judgment (like Hitler invading Russia), that Watergate occurred, given that Nixon’s election was pretty much guaranteed without the break-in.

Now, fast forward 48 years, and we (or some of us) elected the craziest, most deranged President the U.S. has ever had. I have no idea whether he has ever undergone electro-shock therapy, but it probably wouldn’t hurt.

LFC said...

I haven't been closely following this discussion, but I see some discussion upthread about Humphrey and Vietnam.

Humphrey waited until September 1968 to publicly put distance betw himself and LBJ on Vietnam, which he did in a speech in Salt Lake City. Should have done it earlier. That said, it's very likely, had he been elected, that he wd have gotten out of Vietnam considerably sooner than Nixon/Kissinger did. (Very likely, but we'll never know for certain.)

And in case anyone's wondering, I was much too young (cough, cough, cough) to vote in 1968. But I was a Humphrey supporter, then in '72 a big McGovern fan, though still a bit too young to vote that year.

LFC said...

I see now that AA already referred to the Salt Lake City speech.

I think there's little pt in refighting that campaign. People did what they did for reasons that seemed good to them at the time. A banal observation, admittedly, but at this remove I find it hard to get too upset at someone for how they voted, or didn't, in '68. I do think that a vote for Humphrey was the right thing to do but, again at this remove, I can understand why some people were so angry at him that they wouldn't or couldn't. It was a turbulent time of course though I probably wasn't fully aware of how turbulent, even though I was old enough to follow the news, have opinions, volunteer in campaigns, etc.

Another Anonymous said...

LFC,

The exercise of revisiting the results of past elections, and how things might have been different, is not simply to place blame or castigate those who failed to vote for the losing candidate, either by not voting at all, or by voting for the winner or another candidate, but to underscore how the way they voted or failed to vote has resulted in decisions by the S. Ct. which have had profound adverse consequences on their lives. To take the two examples cited by David Palmeter above, the decisions in Heller v. D.C. and Citizens United v. FEA were both 5-4 decisions, in which Justices Roberts and Alito voted with the majority. They were both nominated by George W. Bush, whose victory, as aaall points out, was the result of people voting for the Green Party candidate in Florida, rather than for Gore. Clearly, had Gore won neither Roberts nor Alito would have been on the S. Ct. when those two cases were decided. The results in both cases would have been 5-4 decisions in the opposite direction. Had either or both of those decisions been decided in the opposite direction, the influence by corporate donations on candidates running for office would have been substantially reduced, and, in the case of Heller, the scope of the protection provided by the 2nd Amendment for the private ownership of guns would have been radically reduced – no mass shootings at the schools, movie theaters, BLM protests, etc. etc. Because of these outcomes, it is critical that the public be reminded of how they vote, or do not vote, will have consequences on their lives that they do not appreciate, and just because one candidate holds some views you do not find palatable (i.e., she is aggressive, sometimes less than candid, and supported the invasion of Iraq) are not a basis not to vote without considering the possible consequences on the potential make-up of the S. Ct. Farewell Roe v. Wade.

Another Anotnymous said...

Error:

As pointed out by David Palmeter.

LFC said...

I take the pt AA, but wd note two things. First, my comment was specifically about the '68 campaign, and I wasn't suggesting that how people vote doesn't matter. Obvs it does, for the Sup Ct makeup but for other reasons too.

Second, on Heller, that decision overturned D.C.'s gun law. Had it gone the other way, D.C.'s restrictions would have been upheld but other states and jurisdictions wd still have been free to continue sales of handguns, rifles etc. to
individuals if they chose to. So I don't think it's correct to say that had Heller gone the other way there wd have been no more mass shootings.

Another Anonymous said...

LFC,

I disagree with your analysis of Heller. In overturning the D.C. gun law, which placed significant restrictions on the private ownership of handguns in the D.C. District, the Court rendered severe restrictions on any legislation anywhere in the country which would have limited the right to privately own handguns, rifles, assault rifles, etc. It raised the level of protection afforded by the 2nd Amendment to the equivalent of the protection of free speech under the 1st Amendment. This has stymied the right of states and cities to restrict the sale of such weapons.

Anonymous said...

Open your eyes. There are more than two choices.
All of you who continue to root for the Democrats, as if they offer a real improvement, are responsible for this.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/us/civilian-deaths-war-isis.html

It's time to scrap the current framework and start over.

David Palmeter said...

Anonymous,

"It's time to scrap the current framework and start over."

Any suggestions as to how to do that?

David Palmeter said...

LFC,

While Heller dealt only with the DC law, its holding--that there is a private right to bear arms--upset many existing state and municipal laws, and blocked others that might have been enacted. Perhaps more important, it opened the floodgates to wild pro-gun laws, e.g. the Texas law allowing college students to bring loaded weapons to class.

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter (and others),

Most of the radical changes I've seen in my lifetime have come from below. They were not the result of any plan.

Who in 1960 could have predicted that by the end of the decade segregation would be over, blacks would see themselves as beautiful, women would rebel against their gender roles,
gays would demand recognition and equal rights and the most of U.S. society would "loosen up", clothing would be become more informal and more comfortable, people would dance freely instead of according to predesigned patterns, more men would have beards and long hair, etc. etc.

That didn't come from the Supreme Court, although the Court might have ratified some of those changes. Those changes came because people were fed up with the status quo.

In Chile in early Octuber 2019 rightwing billionaire president Piñera bragged that Chile was an "oasis" in Latin America where people did not protest and investments were "secure".
By the end of October 2019 the country had exploded in protests against the system, so widespread and violent, with looting and arson that Piñera and his fellow owners of the country were forced to accept a plebiscite for a new constitution, a constitutional process that is now being developped.

So many of us don't expect changes from the Supreme Court or from the mainstream Democrats (neither Humphrey nor Clinton), although we do admit that Clinton and Trump are somehow "better" than Trump: well, Franco was "better" than Hitler too.

s. wallerstein said...

My error: in the last paragraph it should read "Clinton and Biden are somehow..." instead of "Clinton and Trump are somehow..."

David Palmeter said...

s wallerstein

Indeed, Franco was better than Hitler. One virtue he had was to be satisfied with his own little fascist regime and not join Hitler in WWII.

No one is saying that the Supreme Court mandates all changes in society. What it does do is declare law which can have huge consequences for society: abortion, gun control, racial and religious discrimination, whether corporations are "persons" for purposes of the 1st Amendment. The list is a long, long one. So perhaps those who "don't expect changes from the Supreme Court" should begin to do so. Otherwise, they will be the recipients of unexpected bad news.

Jerry Brown said...

"It's time to scrap the current framework and start over."

"Any suggestions as to how to do that?"

Yeah- do it anonymously. Like someone who is too worried to put their name on a comment on a blog is going to have the balls to effect a radical change in the current American system, which just might be the most powerful the world has ever seen. Good luck with that.

Another Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein,

The right to wear your hair as long as want; to wear loose and colorful clothes; to listen to the folk music, rock music, heavy metal music, rap and reggae music that you prefer; to love whomever wish, of either gender; etc., etc., are all great things and should be applauded and protected. You live in Chile, so what the United States Supreme Court decides does not affect you. But if you are the parent or sibling of a child who was shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or of a teenager shot to death at Columbine High School, or of an individual shot to death at the theater in Aurora Colorado, or at the nightclub in Miami, …. – then what the Supreme Court rules on the scope of the protection of weapons in the 2nd Amendment does matter to you, at least as much as the right to wear your hand long, wear loose and colorful clothes, listen to the music of your choice and love whom you please, especially if what happened to the one you love is dead, killed by a maniac brandishing a weapon he has been allowed to possess because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller.

And if your civil rights and your right to vote for a legislator who does not answer to the corporations which make huge contributions to the legislator’s campaign, are thwarted by a Supreme Court decision which equates those massive contributions by a “person” exercising his/her free speech, those rights are at least as important as the right to grow your hair long, to wear loose and colorful clothes, etc.

And if you are a woman who is living below the poverty line and have decided you do not want, and cannot afford, to have any more children, then your right to have an abortion is at least as important as your right to grow your hair long, wear loose and colorful clothes, etc., etc.

All these rights have been, or will be, compromised and/or eliminated by the Supreme Court, and to focus on the right to grow your hair long, to wear loose and colorful clothes, etc., etc., cannot make up for those losses. And Anonymous, yes, there are more than two choices – until the date of the election, when, under the current system of elections in the U.S., there are only two meaningful choices, and deciding not to vote, or to vote for a third party candidate, is a form of self-destructive myopia which will preserve your right to wear your hair as long as you want, and listen to the music you want, but will hardly compensate for the loss of other rights via Supreme Court decree, and will hardly console you if you have the misfortune to grieve for the death of a loved one at the hand of a maniac brandishing a weapon which the Supreme Court has ruled s/he had a Constitutional right to possess.

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

You never reflect on what went wrong with the U.S.? Why of all developed countries only in the U.S. do maniacs with guns walk into schools or malls and massacre everyone?

Howie in previous thread pointed out that in Israel huge numbers of the citizens walk around with firearms, but the homicide rate is very low and no one walks into a school and kills innocent children.

Something went wrong in the U.S.. I'm not sure what it is, but there seems to be little reflection among the mainstream Democrats (I see some in the Jacobin magazine crowd) about how and why that happened, except to label others "deplorables", which does not help much.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah- do it anonymously. Like someone who is too worried to put their name on a comment on a blog is going to have the balls to effect a radical change in the current American system, which just might be the most powerful the world has ever seen. Good luck with that."

lol. Yea, signing your real name to a blog post certainly proves you have balls of steel!

"if you are the parent or sibling of a child who was shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or of a teenager shot to death at Columbine High School, or of an individual shot to death at the theater in Aurora Colorado, or at the nightclub in Miami, …. – then what the Supreme Court rules on the scope of the protection of weapons in the 2nd Amendment does matter to you"

Yes, it matters - the fact that there are psychos roaming around who want to kill large numbers of people (including tyrants at the top who are anti-gun for plebs but pro-gun always for their own bodyguard and security forces), means that, more than ever, we need our 2nd amendment. Thankfully Heller rightfully preserved the plain meaning of the 2nd amendment as a right reserved to private citizens by the founders - while idiots like you will continue to whine all the way to your grave about how that was never the case.

Another Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein,

There is no mystery regarding why guns play such a dominant role in the U.S. The country was settled by pioneers who needed weapons to defend themselves, to hunt, to expand their territory and establish the colonies, and then to rebel against their British overseers. Once they won their independence, they enshrined the right to bear arms in the 2nd Amendment of their Constitution. Expanding west, they used their weapons to engage in combat with the indigenous Native Americans. You could not survive in the western expansion of manifest density unless you knew how to use a rifle or handgun. Israel is a fairly homogeneous society with two primary ethnic groups, in neither of which does hunting play a significant role. Nor doe it have a constitution. The explanation of the origins of America’s gun culture is not complicated. How to interpret the 2nd Amendment so as to accommodate that gun culture when there is no new wilderness to conquer and we are turning the weapons on each other is the challenge, a challenge which I believe the majority in Heller failed adequately to deal with.

s. wallerstein said...

The fact that lots of people have guns in the U.S. does not wholly explain the homicide rate or the fact that it is, as far as I know, the only country in the world where people walk in schools or malls and start killing people at random.

I insist that something has gone wrong in the U.S. All developed nations have rightwing populist parties, to be sure, but only in the U.S. out of fully developed nations (Hungary has always been a bit backwards) did they elect a rightwing populist president, that is, Trump and did he take over one of the two major parties. O.k., Boris Johnson in the U.K., but even Johnson is a bit more of a conventional rightwinger than Trump, who is generally compared to Bolsonaro in Brasil, that is, the leader of what used to be called a "third world country".

Something has gone wrong. What is it? As I said, calling Trump a fascist and calling his supporters "deplorables" or "racists" explains nothing.

David Zimmerman said...

To Another Anonymous:

Your "frontier" explanation for the cult of guns in the USA seems off to me... sitting as I do in Canada, an adjacent nation that also had its western frontier, which was gradually opened by folks with rifles.

A more salient difference between the USA and other "developed nations, I suspect, is the peculiar nature of the American constitution and system of judicial review.... more specifically, the presence of a second amendment, which has been consistently misinterpreted ["'...well ordered militias?,' what well-ordered militias?"] by right-wing justices who claim to be "originalists," but are nothing of the sort.

R McD said...

Let's not forget all those weapons being turned on all those living--and dying--elsewhere. E.g.,

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/us/civilian-deaths-war-isis.html

Or, what's being left out is how the domestic gun ideology is linked to the highly lucrative international weapons economy.

Meantime,

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/us/politics/newsom-texas-abortion-law-guns.html

although it seems like another turn towards a vigilante 'justice' system, I hope it's just a ploy to bring home to the SC that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

LFC said...

Re origins of U.S. attachment to guns: in addition to what's already been mentioned, one argument emphasizes that it was settlers of Scots-Irish descent in particular who embodied a culture that stressed guns, honor, etc., and who made up the vast majority of those who settled in the Appalachians and then in the western "backcountry." This culture clashed w that of more cosmopolitan, better-educated Northeasterners. That, in oversimplified form, is an argument that has been made by several writers (incl. some social scientists and historians).

If interested, you can get a flavor of some of this by skimming through a 2012 piece, "War and the Intellectuals," by Stephen Rosen, a protege of the late Samuel Huntington, in a journal called The American Interest. Rosen argues there that American elites have always been much more skeptical about the use of force and more 'internationalist' (my term) than the country as a whole, w the exception of the 1940s and early '50s. I'm not really persuaded -- surely, for ex., there were plenty of Eastern elites who supported the war vs Mexico and Westward expansion by force (provided maybe that they didn't have to wield the rifles themselves). One of the Northern heroes in the battle of Gettysburg was, in civilian life, a college professor. Theodore Roosevelt himself, the epitome of "virile" expansionism and martial belligerence, came from an elite background. All that said, it's sometimes worth reading or glancing at the work of intelligent writers w whom one might strongly disagree, which is why mention this piece.

Another Anonyous said...

David Zimmerman,

The difference in the gun culture here in the U.S., versus Canada, is that Canada does not have a constitution, which in the U.S. incorporates the gun culture into the 2nd Amendment.

aaall said...

LFC, I've read papers that could lead one to believe that allowing folks from the Borderlands to settle here was a huge mistake.

Private militias, both state sanctioned (e.g. slave patrols) and spontaneously organized, are a long standing factor. Back in the day, California had a bounty on Native Americans. In 1860 a private militia murdered about a hundred women, children, and the elderly down the road from where I live.

Around the same time in Utah an LDS militia murdered around the same number of pilgrims from Arkansas who were headed to California on the Old Spanish Trail (Mountain Meadow).

Rinse and repeat many times.

The current radicalization of the issue has its roots in the reaction to the GCA of 1968 and the hostile take over of the NRA by Harlan Carter, et al in 1977, making it an organ of Movement Conservatism.

We should have simply classed semi-auto centerfire rifles as firearms under the IRS section of the USC in 1986.

s.w., what happened is that, from the Liberty Lobby and the Plot to the present, a number of wealthy conservative and libertarian actors never gave up hating on FDR and the New Deal (one of the Jan 6 arrestees is a Bozell - three generations of reaction and treason). Every right wing magazine and organization from before NR to the Tea Party and beyond has a sugar daddy or two. There is a straight line from "God and Man at Yale" to Reagan, Gingrich, Trump, and Jan. 6.

Silly Me said...

What everyone more or less is advocating here falls into one main category: Responsible and Ethical conduct by all parties in a democracy.
The easiest first step to to advance that tenet is to eliminate dark money. Make it absolutely impossible to donate money to politicians anonymously by any means. Mandate a provenance to all political donations with the force of law. No exceptions, no exemptions. Any candidate caught receiving untraceable funds must surrender those funds.

LFC said...

aaall
Re private militias: interesting/horrifying
Thks.

aaall said...

"The easiest first step to to advance that tenet is to eliminate dark money."

Yes, but that alone won't do it. The real money is after one leaves the government. Obama screwed himself (and us) when he put Geithner at Treasury and Summers at the CEA.

Both have made bank from major financial institutions after they left the government. Cush lobbying jobs and board seats, you get the picture. Gerald Ford turned this into an art form after he left the presidency. Heidi Highcamp now lobbies for things she opposed as a Senator. I assume this is Sinema's strategy - a job, probably not lobbying.

During her campaign, Senator warren had some thoughts on the 'revolving door."

https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/after-trump





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David Zimmerman said...

To Another Anonymous:

You are quite incorrect.

Canada has had a written constitution since 1982, when Pierre Trudeau "repatriated" it from the UK.

Our constitution contains a "Charter of Rights," somewhat similar to the US Bill of Rights, but of course there is no parallel to the Second Amendment.

David Zimmerman said...

To Another Anonymous:

You are quite incorrect.

Canada has had a written constitution since 1982, when Pierre Trudeau "repatriated" it from the UK.

Our constitution contains a "Charter of Rights," somewhat similar to the US Bill of Rights, but of course there is no parallel to the Second Amendment.

For more information, see:

https://justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/05.html#:~:text=The%20Constitution%20of%20Canada%20includes%20the%20Constitution%20Act%2C,and%20treaty%20rights.%20What%20does%20our%20Constitution%20say%3F

Another Anonymous said...

David Zimmerman,

The narcissism of small differences once more rears its head. The question is, why does the United States have such a strong gun culture, and Canada, which was also once a frontier requiring the use of weapons to survive, does not. I pointed to the existence of the 2nd Amendment, which has been in the U.S. Constitution since 1789, as the explanation, whereas Canada has not had such a constitution to ingrain the possession of guns in its culture. You rejoinder that, well, you are wrong, since Canada adopted a constitution in 1982, which does not have an analog to the U.S. 2nd Amendment. So, during the years when the U.S. had a constitution with a 2nd Amendment, and Canada did not – from 1789 to 1982, a period of 193 years - the right to bear arms was the culture in the U.S. How does the fact that Canada adopted a constitution without an analog to the 2nd Amendment in 1982 rebut that?

David Zimmerman said...

To Another Anonymous:

You really cannot admit it when you are wrong.
It is an intellectual vice to turn to insults to deflect from your simple error.
Enough.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

I had no idea that almost all of our history is dependent on some (usually small) group of voters not voting the way a commentator desired. I guess this alternative history stuff must be fun, or at least therapeutic.

Another Anonymous said...

David Zimmerman,


No, it is you who cannot admit that you are wrong. Nothing you have said about Canada's adoption of a constitutions in 1982 - with no analog to the 2nd Amendment in the U.s. Constitution - supports your specious claim that my explanation for the predominance of a gun culture in the U.S., which does not exist in Canada, is due to the long-standing presence of the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

David Zimmerman said...

Oy.... give it up... AA... stop flailing.

Silly Me said...

aaall,

Politicians ex officio are not in a position to make, initiate or directly effect governmental policy. I agree with Warren on the broader scope of reforms, and who one brings into government matters. The single point was that by shining a public light on who the power brokers are, scrutiny by the body politic at large will reshape the ethics of governance. There will always be the corruption of self-interest.

Another Anonymous said...

David,

"It is an intellectual vice to turn to insults to deflect from your simple error.
Enough."

aaall said...

SM, I don't believe you fully understand the term "ex officio."

"Politicians ex officio are not in a position to make, initiate or directly effect governmental policy."

There's a class issue here. It's just understood that at a certain level one isn't allowed to financially fail. Some folks get unemployment and others get golden parachutes; in government/business/think tanks/top 20 universities, the door revolves (google Amy Chua, Neal Katyal). One year you're making low six figures, the next low seven. The right people get to buy the Trump SPAC PIPE at a different level under different terms then the schlubs who pay retail (this offer is clearly a combination of pump and dump and speculative bribery).

The real money in public service comes after one leaves public service. E.G. retired Gen. Mattis gets a pension ~$270K and serves on the BOD for General Dynamics for another ~$ quarter million. Former MOCs can make high six to low seven figures lobbying. All this is well known and still it happens.

We need to eliminate dark money for other reasons but the corruption would continue.











Eric said...

There is a lot of racism behind Americans' peculiar relationship with firearms.

The people who wrote, and the people who ratified, the US constitution lived in constant fear of slave revolts. They demanded recognition in the Constitution of a right to be armed so that they could keep the enslaved in chains. In some parts of America, the enslaved were as much as half of the total population. (Recall that in the 1780s & 90s, there were still large numbers of enslaved Africans even in New York and New Jersey; and there had been uprisings within living memory, both in the colonies and in the Caribbean.) With the end of de jure slavery, there still remained a large population of formerly-enslaved people whom the white population viewed as a potential threat that had to be contained. There was no comparable enslaved population in Canada or Britain, so there could be no comparable argument to justify raising the right to bear arms to a level of constitutional protection, as in the States.

Since the right to bear arms in the UK had been established by statute, it could just as easily be restricted or rescinded by statute, which is much more readily accomplished than repealing a constitutional provision.

The white American psyche in the US also identified very much with bearing arms to fight against the Native population, as the borders of the country were pushed further and further across the continent, eventually swallowing up all of the Natives' territory. Our seniors today grew up on a steady of diet of Western movies and tales that were all about fighting Indians; I doubt that there is anything comparable to that in Canada, let alone in the UK. (You wouldn't believe the level of outrage that was unleashed when the American Library Association announced a few years ago that they were taking Laura Ingalls Wilder's name off of a children's book award. Wilder was the author of the Little House on the Prairie novels that told of her family's settling in the Great Plains during the 19th century. The novels include racist depictions of Native Americans.)

Eric said...

Fun fact: Governor Ronald Reagan signed California's gun control act of 1967, a law that was supported by the National Rifle Association, after whites became alarmed that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense had been calling for African Americans to take up arms to defend themselves against state-sanctioned white terror.

Anonymous said...

What went wrong is what created this nation. Our birth right is our death wish, as it were. It was freedom for white Anglo-protestant men financed by expropriated native lands and appropriated slave-labor. Insiders, freedom. Outsiders, terror, subordination, violence.

Maybe the "last days of American democracy" are really the last days of a hypocritical, limited, purblind democracy. Was this place ever a democracy for Black Americans? Was this place ever a democracy for women, or natives, or workers? Nah, it wasn't. It wasn't.

If anything, the demographics are shifting now in a big way away from white moderates as the dominant group. I think we can and ought to see Jan 6 and the general Trump-farcical-fascist movement as a petit bourgeois reaction to their slipping class and social position. A reaction to the very real transference of power. You don't do Jan 6 from a position of strength. Not all that different from the Know Nothings, or the reactionary socialism Marx and Engels discuss in the CM.

I was so touched by OP's comments about two visions of America's future, and the vulnerability he felt because of his age and health. I'm 32 years old and there's a lot of fear out there. But there's a longer view of history too, and I frankly am optimistic. Not rose-colored glasses, but optimistic that the USA might one day soon be a multi-racial democracy. I don't want an American democracy based on imperialism, exploitation, and white supremacy. It's painful when something is dying, Painful and scary. But something rotten's been needing to die for a long time in this country. At a moment of destruction there is a moment of creativity, of what comes next. What comes next isn't inevitably facism or darkness... only if we cede our agency is that an inevitability.

Bailey

Anonymous said...

Always have such trouble typing out fascism* apols for the typo!

Also I guess my main point is that fascism and domination have been deeply important to the US and we need to confront them.

Bailey

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