Supreme Court keeps its powder dry

Ian Millhiser’s explanation for why the Supreme Court refused to hear two cases brought by conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood makes sense to me, and so does his theory of why Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett “Bart” Kavanaugh sided with the liberal faction to deny certiori:

It’s very doubtful that this equilibrium will last — Kavanaugh’s been very clear that he intends to kill Roe v. Wade. But the Court’s decision to not hear Andersen and Gee gives credence to the theory that Roberts and Kavanaugh want to give the nation some time to forget about how Kavanaugh got his current job before they declare outright war on reproductive choice.

Monday’s order, moreover, is unlikely to protect Medicaid recipients from the Supreme Court for very long. In the long run, some state is bound to violate the free-choice-of-provider provision in a way that doesn’t implicate a group associated with abortion. When that happens, this very conservative Supreme Court will be free to limit this provision without doing so under the close scrutiny it will face if the case name includes the words “Planned Parenthood.”

But the decision does raise a question: why can’t the Democratic Party, now fully stocked with younger and browner legislators who aren’t men, endorse federal legislation that protects a woman’s right to choose an abortion from the interventions of states? Too long has the party relied on Roe v. Wade as a carapace as subsequent decisions have poked holes in it. I forgot where I read that Roe establishes a floor, not a ceiling. Obviously they would need to control the White House and the Senate too. But campaigning openly and unequivocally for abortion rights is a standard to which voters would rally, especially the city and suburban-dwelling Democrats comprising the core of the Democratic base (I’m aware that many Americans squirm around a right to an unfettered abortion, but campaigns aren’t built around nuance).

Finally, natal care gets too little attention. As abortions have gotten safer in the United States, childbirth has gotten more dangerous. I doubt Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump care.

Waving magic wands: the myth of Democratic power

Pressing his ears against the commentariat’s din, Matthew Yglesias comes to obvious conclusions: only a Democratic majority in the Senate could have stopped the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Conversely, Mitch McConnell’s legislative genius, such as it is, consisted in whipping a bare majority. Even in those halcyon days of the sixty-vote filibuster over which Harry Reid presided, Barack Obama got nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan confirmed not because a spirit of benign comity persuaded Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham to vote for them: the Senate confirmed them because he still enjoyed a fifty-plus Democratic majority that could’ve gummed up the works if it wanted to. Reid and Obama didn’t need Collins and Graham.  Continue reading

What is a neoconf?

After reading W.E.B. Du Bois, Eric Foner, and Lawrence Goldstone, I’ve distilled decades of scholarship about the ways in which the Democratic Party looked the other way when the South defied the federal government and encouraged racist violence while maintaining a kind of apartheid. Starting in 1968, the two political parties switched its worst members. In January 1981 the acceleration took place and onward through Newt Gingrich, the equal protection claims of the Rehnquist majority on the Supreme Court, George W. Bush and his cabal, and Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan.

A neo-Confederate believes in:

1. Minority rule.
2. “States rights”
3. A return to constitutional norms before 1860, i.e. before the passage of the Civil War and Reconstruction amendments.
4. The inferiority of certain classes of people.
5. The imposition of federal taxes as an infringement on liberty.

I should point out that “states rights” is the portmanteau for every canon I’ve mentioned.

“Neoconf” looks ungainly, but so did “neocon” in 2003.

A political party dedicated to hating women

Last week’s truce has ended. Now the GOP can return to hating women and hating women who have sex. First, the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee attack the lowest hanging fruit: Julie Swetnick.

The statement, which was circulated to the hundreds of journalists on the Judiciary Committee’s press list, was from Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic congressional candidate and television meteorologist who said he was involved in a brief relationship with Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in 1993.

Swetnick said last week in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape, a claim he vehemently denies.

In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick once told him that she sometimes enjoyed group sex with multiple men and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark “derailed” their relationship, which he described as involving “physical contact” but no intercourse.

Ketterer said Swetnick “never said anything about being sexually assaulted, raped, gang-raped or having sex against her will” and “never mentioned Brett Kavanaugh in any capacity.” He described their relationship as lasting for a “couple of weeks.”

It was highly unusual for a congressional committee to release a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public. The Republican side of the panel, which said the statement was provided by Ketterer “under penalty of felony,” emailed excerpts to journalists and posted the full statement on its website.

Right on schedule, the president unbuckled his belt, kicked off his shoes, and relaxed like he hadn’t in two weeks.

Before the crowd Tuesday night in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump imitated Ford during her testimony, mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party where she says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

“I had one beer. Well, do you think it was — nope, it was one beer,” Trump said, mimicking Ford’s testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”

Trump’s comments were met with laughter and applause from the crowd.

We have moved to a point in our history when the electorate laughs at the president imitating an assault victim, supports a nominee to the Supreme Court even if he did assault a woman, and has no interest in how tariffs and coal policy affect their health and livelihood. They elected a president who incarnates their rage at the fags, blacks, and Mexicans. And women. Trump, let me stress, has female support, and they’ve demonstrated a remarkable lack of empathy for their sisters, mothers, daughters, and nieces.

Seeing villains as misunderstood victims

“There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice,” Doreen St. Félix writes in The New Yorker.

More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny. In the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Mitchell basically disappeared. Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.

Many of us who are writers embrace complexity; we impose subtlety on men and women who repel it. Listening to Kavanaugh sound the horn of the forever maudlin when mentioning his kids, mom (a judge), and the number of female clerks whom he’s hired, I thought these things could be true without being exculpatory. Kavanaugh may have assaulted a woman as a teen and years later pick up the newspaper for the old lady who lives across the street.

Then, after Lindsey Graham trampled on the vineyards where the grapes of wrath were stored, I changed my mind: I don’t want to think of Kavanaugh and his conservative enablers as good men. To think they are would ascribe to them a complexity they don’t deserve. Abigail Nussbaum:

It should go without saying, but: a good guy doesn’t lie under oath. A good guy doesn’t brazenly spread falsehoods that he knows everyone can see through, in the arrogant belief that his privilege will protect him from any consequences or loss of public regard. A good guy doesn’t rant and rave about taking revenge on his supposed enemies while interviewing for a job synonymous with impartiality and open-mindedness. And, oh yeah, a good guy would admit to his wrongdoing, apologize for it, and withdraw his name from consideration for the highest court in the land, in recognition of the fact that he doesn’t deserve to be there. If Black believes Ford, as he claims to, then there’s simply no way to categorize Kavanaugh as a good guy, no matter how many carpools he drives or how nice he is to his poker buddies.

…People who blatantly don’t care about the safety and wellbeing of women are bad. But so are people who are so deeply invested in constructing a narrative of redemption for abusers and bad actors (privileged ones, obviously) that they irreparably skew the conversation in that direction, and train the rest of us to see villains as misunderstood victims.

Ford kept her composure as she explained why her life was ruined; Kavanaugh lost his when he did. Every GOP senator apologized to Kavanaugh for the ruin his life has become; every one of them hid behind a female sex crimes prosecutor and said nothing to Ford.