Sunday, June 26, 2022

What non-voters have wrought

Last May, Gallup found eight of 10 Americans supported the right the Supreme Court just tossed in history's waste basket – the right for a woman to choose.

Next to go? Same-sex marriage in states bold enough to abolish it. A person's right to use contraception also is threatened.

What thereafter? Prohibition of interracial marriage? Resegregation of lunch counters?

Last week's ruling on abortion rights shows no precedent is going to stop Republican appointees from doing what partisans hired them to do.

Such are fruits reaped for leaving the most consequential matters in American history up to chance.

The chance that one justice would die on the cusp of a presidential election.

The chance that a previously pro-choice con man would become president with millions fewer votes than his progressive challenger.

The chance that on any number of matters – gun laws, reproductive rights, voting rights – the nation can and will be governed by a minority of a minority.

And we aren't just talking of the Cruz Caucus in a filibustered Senate.

In 2016 a lot of Republicans held their noses and voted for the Orange Con. They knew that the essence of the quest was control of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile a whole bunch of squishy centrists and haven't-given-it much thought progressives, particularly at a tender age of self-induced ignorance, didn't vote.

They convinced themselves that it didn't matter, that "there's no difference between the parties," or, "Hillary's going to win."

The local newspaper where I live interviewed collegians wearing "Vote for Nobody" buttons. Hardee har-har.

The Electoral College wasn't the reason behind the con man's gaining the power to populate the courts in 2016. Apathy was.

Four years later sufficient Americans were appalled by the con man that they removed him from office. Too late for what would happen to the Supreme Court.

Three Supreme Court vacancies presented themselves in the four years prior, including one opened up when Senate Republicans denied even a hearing to Barack Obama's nominee.

So, two points: (1) elections matter; (2) parties matter.

Never in modern history have the two major political parties presented such stark differences – on abortion rights, on LGBTQ rights, on voting rights, on gun laws, on corporate control of lawmaking.

Oh, yes, corporate control. The conservative control of this court is corporate – the result of years of big-money plotting by interests like the Koch dynasty and proxies in the Federalist Society.

This is what we have because too many voters left too much of governing up to chance.

This matter goes back to when another Republican ascended to the presidency with fewer votes than his opponent.

Lest we forget: That man, George W. Bush, appointed Samuel Alito, author of last week's ruling, along with Chief Justice John Roberts.

In 2000 much was made of an already conservative Supreme Court siding with Bush in awarding Florida to him. Much was made of the unfairness of the Electoral College.

But the Supreme Court didn't award Florida to Bush. Nor did the voters who thought they were voting for Al Gore but were confused by ballots into voting for Patrick Buchanan.

What awarded the presidency to Bush was the thousands of progressive Floridians who cast a protest vote for Ralph Nader, somehow a blow for a greener world.

Ironic it was then that Gore -- too squishy for Nader voters – would win the Nobel Peace Prize for heroic efforts to warn the planet about what carbon pollution is doing to it and to us.

The bottom line: People who believe in all of the things Republicans oppose – abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, expanded voting rights, stronger gun laws -- have got to start voting against the those who would put the minority in charge on our highest court.

This is going to happen, in increasing numbers.

Trump himself, while crowing of his anti-choice achievement on Fox News, privately has warned that the Supreme Court's abortion ruling will hurt the GOP at the polls.

Darned right.

The lesson to voters: Stop leaving your government up to chance.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.  

 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Deputized to defend abortion rights

Rattle, rattle. What's that sound? It's a big-government conservative picking through the garbage of a woman alleged to have been pregnant.

Click, click. That's big-government conservatives hacking into a woman's menstrual cycle app.

When politicians make a woman's private medical decisions their own, things like this can happen.

Indeed, President Biden this week was pondering several measures, including having the Federal Trade Commission order the makers of apps that track menstrual cycles to warn users that their bodily functions could become prosecutorial fodder.

I hadn't considered the true ramifications of today's red-state rush to ban abortion until I read a fiery New York Times commentary from Fairfax County, Va., district attorney Steve Descano.

Descano is among a growing group of prosecutors who say they will not go after women or providers impacted by laws that criminalize abortion.

He wrote of "Orwellian" means tailored to Republican ends, say, if a woman had to prove to the state that a miscarriage was not an abortion.

Anti-abortion zealots will call that an overwrought notion. They won't blink, however, at laws right out of Orwell like deputizing citizens to sue providers and those who aid in abortions after fetal cardiac activity is noted, around six weeks into a pregnancy. The Texas Legislature crafted this bill in its 2021 session.

It is encouraging to hear of people like Descano and jurisdictions that won't play along with the quest to criminalize a woman's medical decisions.

The Austin City Council would effectively decriminalize abortion with a resolution putting it the very bottom of law enforcement priorities. Other cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are considering similar measures.

Now it's time for all in the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to act on that feeling.

Consider yourselves deputized.

Joe Biden is doing it by considering options to preserve women's control of their own bodies.

One is to declare a national health emergency should the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade. Another would be to use federal authority to prevent states from prohibiting out-of-state travel to obtain health services.

Another would assert federal preeminence over state bans of abortion medication obtained across state lines.

To that end, on behalf of all deputized to defend reproductive rights, let me share this web site:  shareabortionpill.info

It holds the key to obtaining abortion medication in a state that prohibits it, along with support from the growing number of entities.

Be a supporter.

Lend a hand, financially and vocally, to Planned Parenthood and organizations that do so much heavy lifting to help women control their own reproductive destinies.

No, we aren't just talking about abortion, though that's all the anti-choice right wants to talk about.

The anti-choice right, and scandalously, the leadership of the Republican Party, not only is a sworn enemy of Roe but also of contraception and its providers.

The Republican vendetta against Planned Parenthood is a disgrace – and indefensible – considering that no entity does more to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and, by logical extension, the abortion dilemma.

To any big-government conservative who says, "How dare police and district attorneys not enforce an abortion ban" – what have you been saying when sheriffs in rural counties have refused to enforce red flag and other gun measures? Likely you've applauded them. Great Americans. Supporters of freedom.

Yes, freedom. Freedom to consult one's doctor. Freedom to decide how many mouths to feed.

With a Supreme Court ruling imminent, we are at the juncture where the dog that chased the car – the religious right with the Republican Party its master – catches the car and gets a bumper smack in the grill. The GOP will not prosper politically from this.

 

All deputized to defend reproductive rights must make sure the GOP feels the bite at the polls.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The lie is what these hearings are about

The polls say Liz Cheney will get scorched in August's Wyoming primary.

No surprise there. Donald Trump is The Man in a state where carbon is god and carbines are currency.

Wyoming's ruling majority embodies Trump's boast: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters."

Or he could sit on his hands during a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Or revel at chants about executing his vice president.

Or piece together a political conspiracy to flush this democracy down the drain.

The horrors portrayed by the Jan. 6 committee will not penetrate enough consciences in Cheney's state to reward her own acts of conscience.

But Cheney won the evening – and assured herself a role in history's retelling -- when she said of her many Republican cohorts, "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."

The Fox News crowd can ignore them. The hearings will pierce enough consciences to further wound Trump and the party that continues to look the other way at his crimes and conniving.

In advance of the hearings, I was concerned that Day 1 mostly would be a chronology of the Capitol riot, a "seen it" matter for those not inclined to relive it.

To my immense pleasure, the first night did a masterful job of interweaving two crimes: the terrorist attack and the Big Lie that underpinned it.

Wow. What a testimony in the widened my-dad's-a-serial-liar eyes of Ivanka Trump.

What a testimony in the shrug of Jared Kushner, that the threatened resignations of those Trump put atop the Justice Department team were just "whining."

"Whining." I imagine that's what Kushner had to say about Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards who told of getting bear-sprayed, tear-gassed and crushed under a big-bellied mob.

All of this suffering. All of this trauma. All because of a lie and a liar. The most skilled and practiced liar in American history.

As former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC, Donald Trump "embraced immoral lying all his life and thought he could get away with the ultimate lie of all."

A lie? Tucker Carlson says the whole Jan. 6 narrative is one of those. "It wasn't an insurrection," he hyperventilated as the committee convened. Tucker is going to play the semantics game. The terrorists were playing a head-cracking game.

The good thing about where these hearings appear headed is that the lie is the thing.

Ah, but, "Trump was just exercising his right to free speech at the Ellipse." "He couldn't know a riot would emanate." "There's no evidence he conspired directly with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers." 

The fact is, all of these matters are immaterial. This is all about the lie and the conspiracy to make it into reality.

The lie was why the rioters were there. Co-conspirators like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mike Lee, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are central to why rioters were ready for war.

Trump continues to prosecute that lie, continues to raise money to advance the lie. This is not good for the party that has sworn allegiance to him.

What becomes of Liz Cheney after conscience-less voters vote her out? Here is my fondest wish:

Cheney should run as a third-party candidate for president. Former GOP chairman Michael Steele asserts there's a growing political segment called "accountability Republicans" who would cringe to vote Democrat but don't want another Trump presidency.

It would also mean that at every debate, and every step of Trump's candidacy, she would be there, reminding voters of what he is all about.

Cheney as an option on the ticket would be the death knell for the Trump phenomenon.

Then Trump truly will be gone, leaving in office only those whose dishonor will remain.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.