A Republic, If You Can Keep It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will we do to keep it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

Further reading:

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

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

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

120 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I want to point out that media has failed repeatedly to serve the greater public interest as well as its own. It has continued to both-sides politics as Democrats and pro-abortion versus GOP and anti-abortion when after the Trump administration, the January 6 insurrection, the ongoing attacks on voters’ rights, the wretched regressive (and in some cases just pig ignorant) SCOTUS conservative majority decisions, it’s clear their coverage should privilege pro-democracy which underpins free media’s existence, against an anti-democratic movement.

    They are also fucking up coverage about women’s reproductive rights right out of the gate, endangering both patients and their care providers. That story about the 10-year-old who needed to seek care in Indiana didn’t uniformly describe an underage rape victim though by definition an underage child can’t consent to sex and is therefore a rape victim.

    They also named the care provider, as if anti-abortion terrorists haven’t hunted down and killed abortion providers. Don’t do this, you fucking morons; I refused to link the article here in which the care provider was named because it was so irresponsible.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Thanks for this Rayne, and especially for those links. I was going to collect a bunch myself, and never pulled it together.

    I would, however, point to this thread from Daniel Nichanian about how winning a local Sheriff’s election in SC will make a difference on the abortion fight.


    If you don’t already follow him or his work at Bolts Magazine, he’s better than anyone I know at finding the local races that can make a substantive difference.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that, I’d seen and read about Sheriff Kristin Graziano. Sure would be nice if we saw more Democratic women police sheriffs elected.

      • timbo says:

        It’s looking like this may happen finally in Alameda County in California. We’ve had tons of Republican Sheriffs here for decades. In recent years they’ve managed to get in good with the DP party machine in the country—however, the current front runner in the race here is form the county DP central committee…and from the more progressive wing of that committee I might add.

        • timbo says:

          Just checked. Yeah, Deputy Yesenia Sanchez is going to be our next sheriff based on getting more than 50% of the vote in the primary (in the odd instant victory primaries that California’s two major parties implemented to avoid real voting reform in this state—ugh, that’s another topic that I think may have been hashed over years ago here or at FDL). She’d gotta be a lot better than what we’ve experienced here from the Sheriff’s office when it comes to reining in abuse these many decades.

        • timbo says:

          Also we may finally be getting our first progressive county DA here in also many, many decades. Pam Price only got 43% of the vote in the primary so faces a runoff against a more conservative opponent (but, in a first, they’re both people of color so you know changes are coming to Alameda’s DA office RSN; yeah, the long, long hangover from the Casper Weinberger era at the DA office may finally be over?)

          • punaise says:

            I voted for both women!

            Ads tried to smear Price with anti-Chesa Boudin (SF DA recall) messaging, but it didn’t work.

            • timbo says:

              Looks like we may have to vote again in the DA election for the county in November. I hope Price gets in then!

        • Naomi Schiff says:

          No thanks to Jerry Brown, recipient of prison guard union $$ when he was running for CA gov, now retired yet still endorsed our dreadful rightwing Alameda County sheriff. What to do about such phony “progressive” democrats?

          • timbo says:

            I don’t really have a pleasant answer about that here in California. It’s good to see that there’s some shift to a stronger progressive wing in the DP Alameda County Central Committee. I was told that folks like Barbara Lee’s rep on the Committee don’t even bother to vote on endorsements most of the time as it is “too political”—crazy! And certainly is holding back a more progressive policy coming from the Alameda Country DP machine big time.

  3. TimB says:

    They seek theocracy where we value religious freedom; they seek control over women’s bodies where we value individual freedom; they seek to re-subjugate people of color where we value equality; and more. They seek to end democracy because they are few, to denigrate the rule of law because their leaders are grifters and cheats, to end public health measures because they are loons, and to trash teachers and librarians because they are thugs. I say take them on, fully aware of the costs and pain involved. Freedom, democracy, and the USA are worth it.

    • What Constitution? says:

      And this morning, I had the misfortune of coming across a post suggesting that there are “leaders” within the rethug party who, faced with the J6 exposition of how devoid of integrity everything “trump” actually is, are now trying to finagle something they envision as “Trumpism without Trump” so they can maintain their simpering base to support their Will to Power.

      The idea of MAGA for MAGA’s sake is just too demonic for me. Which suggests to me that maybe it’s time for some rebranding. Like maybe the same acronym on a different message. Something like, oh, “Merely Another Gullible Asshole”.

      Surely, you’ll jest, there must be a better way, I have no doubt. But if those hats came to represent something closer to the truth (before November gets by us), maybe the people wearing them would stop thinking it’s cool to prefer lies, vindictiveness, misogyny and repression over democracy and a republic that we’d like to keep. I’m open to suggestions.

      • Rayne says:

        Trump is a Nazi repackaged for commercial viability. Anybody promoting Trump or Trumpism is merely another Nazi in search of rebranding for commercial viability.

        And we punch Nazis.

        • What Constitution? says:

          I was trying to suggest a different point — I don’t disagree that Trump can be seen as a “repackaged Nazi”, but I do doubt that moniker would move the needle one whit with the MAGA crowd. It has never mattered to them that Trump’s “mentor” father was arrested at Nazi marches in the US, or that Trump’s own wife was featured in an article in 1990 announcing that Trump kept a book of Hitler’s speeches on his bedside table, or even that he hired a Goebbels disciple/impersonator as his political guru, Stephen Miller. Calling Trump a Nazi is, no pun intended, white noise with his faithful. It’s a feature, not a bug, and it’s very very easy to repurpose that “accusation” as mere “Liberal Excessiveness” and keep wearing those MAGA t-shirts.

          But as a growing list of persons indisputably “in the know” are being paraded before the country in the J6 proceedings and are lining up to acknowledge, describe and try oh-so-hard to hope nobody notices how complicit they all were, there just has to be some way to make “ignoring” that something that just does not jive with the mantra of the ‘Murikins who have thrown their lot in with this miscreant and his anti-democratic focus. It’s got to be getting hard to say “land of the free” when you’re sending money to a grifter who openly despises you and tried to steal “your” country from you, too. So let’s help them recognize that by pointing out that maybe their little logo “doesn’t mean what you think it means.” That was all I was trying to suggest.

      • TimB says:

        Both the Trumpist wing and the “mainstream” wing of the GOP are working on a path forward for them sans Trump. Drop “stop the steal” and slide in CRT and antiTrans measures, and the base is still energized. Put voting suppressor laws and people in place and the elections are still minoritarian. The fight is on, and I still say worth the hurt.

    • Duke says:

      Theocracy is the end point of their story. Ours needs to be the ever evolving democracy. Nowhere conservatism pervades does democratic ideology survive. Conservative thought can save those of us who are prone to too progressive of thought. Regardless, conservative thought is a defensive star as progressive thought is. Often RELIGIOUS considerations interfere in the outcome. Purge religion of the grift and I might support the graft somewhere not political.

  4. OldTulsaDude says:

    Concerning media, I wish they would stop saying “election fraud claim with no evidence”. The Fox viewer only hears “there is evidence but it’s suppressed or being hidden.” Framing matters. Call it what it it: nonsense, lies, and bullshit.

    • P J Evans says:

      They’re afraid to use those words.
      Someone, somewhere, might get angry with them. (/s)

  5. FiestyBlueBird says:

    Per Wikipedia, “I Know You Rider” has also been titled “Woman Blues,” some of it penned by an 18 year old black woman. Tons of versions to be found. I’m fond of
    this version.

    Given all that has transpired the past few years I think it’s reasonable to assume a lot of people can relate to the first of these three stanzas here:

    Lay down last night, Lord, I could not take my rest
    Lay down last night, Lord, I could not take my rest
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the West

    The sun will shine in my back door some day
    The sun will shine in my back door some day
    March winds will blow all my troubles away

    I wish I was a headlight on a north-bound train
    I wish I was a headlight on a north-bound train
    I’d shine my light through the cool Colorado rain


    On a seemingly random positively positive note: Rush Limbaugh is still dead.

    • Adam Selene says:

      A resounding Marv Albert “Yesss!” with fist clenched!

      (I still have unresolved anger issues with Limbaugh, so please excuse the grave dancing.)

  6. punaise says:

    It’s probably a party foul to re-quote oneself, but I’m bringing forward this biting comment, hoping it’s not a total buzz kill. Click on the link for context.

    “My roommate described Republicans as the mass shooter and Democrats as the Uvalde cops, and I can’t get that image out of my head.”

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      r=Reading the comments on Instagram regarding him coming back to the Warriors, it was easily 98% against, and most of those vehemently against. We do not need the emotionally fragile KD to disrupt what is a very thoughtfully put together group of players.

  7. Peterr says:

    Amanda Gorman, January 20, 2021:

    We will not march back to what was,
    but move to what shall be
    a country that is bruised, but whole,
    benevolent, but bold,
    fierce, and free.
    We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation
    because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
    Our blunders become their burdens.
    But one thing is certain,
    if we merge mercy with might and might with right,
    then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

    Amen, sister.

    May the Good Troublemaking go on.

    • Alan K says:

      Thank you for posting this. Reading this again, I see again the dignity of her poise, the graceful rhythms of her arms. A poet for our time.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    Add to this mix the nonsense that is a Soviet show trial for Brittney Griner going on in Russia now. She’s terrified (as she should be) but she needs to understand she is merely a bargaining chip in the tried-and-true Cold War minuet. The question is who does Putin want to trade for here, and the most likely name I’ve heard pop up is Viktor Bout who is a particularly nasty arms dealer currently in a federal lockup (25 to life IIRC). So, at some point Griner will be ‘convicted’ and swapped. I’d do it if it’s just Bout, but I suspect Putin wants something done about Ukraine as well since his elite military is getting annihilated to gain small areas. Adding Ukraine aid to the swap is a no-go for me and most true Americans not on Putin’s payroll. Daily Kos has good explainers.

    So, why was Griner there in the first place? Like many female athletes, there is no money in the USA for professional athletes. Look how the wildly successful US Women’s National Soccer Team had to strike for equal pay even though they’re proven to be dominant champions. It’s the same where Europe in particular pays many times the salaries of US teams, so to keep playing a sport on a professional level, players go there to pay their bills. This was not Griner’s first trip to Russia at all, so that by itself makes this bust suspicious even before considering how the Soviets manipulate ‘evidence’. FWIW, the IOC could also remind Putin that Russia’s return to the Olympics is tied to releasing all athletes held, especially Griner, and to keep their hands off.

    Bashing Biden doesn’t help Griner out, it only gives Putin reasons to raise his price.

    • bmaz says:

      Dunno about DKos, but I said from the first moment it was about Bout. Once the US traded Yaroshenko for Reed, Bout was the only play, and has always been the one Putin wanted most. The problem is Paul Whelan is also detained. It near impossible to see Bout being traded one for one for Griner when Whelan is still there, and has been detained for far longer than Griner. The negotiation is not about Griner for Bout, Whelan is the real card in play.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Indeed, but all of the current Biden bashing will only help Putin. I think he wants more than Bout and a pullback from Ukraine aid would do it. We already have some of the RWNM advocating this change. It’s bad policy to appease the Russian bear. It never works. Never.

        So, if Ukraine aid is off the table, who else do we have in hand that Putin wants back? Parnas? Who? I’m not aware of anyone.

          • Rugger9 says:

            If the feds have seized the bank accounts, that might be worth something for the USA, but if not, that might be why Putin wants Bout back, for the money. Either way Bout’s like a spy with a blown cover and a burn notice.

      • P J Evans says:

        We give them Bout and we get Griner, Whelan, and all the Ukrainians they’re holding. (That would be my offer.)

        • Rugger9 says:

          Griner and Whelan have to be produced in reasonably good health. The Americans allegedly captured in Ukraine also, because of the fact that they were sworn into Ukraine’s armed forces, were wearing Ukrainian army unis and acting under orders. That makes them soldiers and subject to Geneva protections.

          However, I’m sure Putin’s blood lust won’t consider such niceties, but those kinds of cases have a very long reach, just ask those camp guards that get sent back for trial in their 90s.

          • Nick Caraway says:

            We have to get Griner back if we can. Yet I think the price has to be high enough that we don’t encourage every tinpot dictator to start grabbing Americans to hold as hostages. If we didn’t have a rule of law we could do as they do and grab a few hostages of our own as retaliation. I don’t envy the State Department negotiators.

  9. cmarlowe says:

    As for the state of our republic, anti-mask Maga-nut Republican nominee for Illinois governor Darren Bailey, whose political ads include one of him firing an AR, said in response to today’s Highland Park shooting,
    “The shooter is still at large, so let’s pray for justice to prevail,” he said. “And then let’s move on and let’s celebrate the independence of this nation…”

    For those not familiar with Illinois politics, fortunately he has no chancel of winning.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Tone deaf as that is, I do not see a single GQPer calling him out for it. So, another white kid which will doubtless have ‘mental issues’ which conveniently lets the gun lobby off the hook. Is the NRA holding a convention / rally in IL?

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Have you seen a picture of the guy ? He has some serious mental issues is my guess.

        • earthworm says:

          they all have mental issues, that’s how they’re recruited.
          sirhan sirhan, mark david chapman, james earle ray — and scores of others who should remain nameless. it’s their being unbalanced that makes them susceptible, perfect vehicles to carry out the objectives of those who are the actual string-pullers.

      • Epicurus says:

        The mental issues recurrences seem remarkably like the set up casting in The Parallax View.

    • ergo says:

      unfortunately, the aforementioned despicable individual said celebrate more than once in a row in the public announcement. I don’t think that was a freudian slip, either.

    • ergo says:

      also – he has no chance of winning as governor, but he was actually a member of the state senate if I recall correctly, sadly.

      • vvv says:

        Yes a Downstater who has been excessively critical of Chicago (claiming it should secede or some shite like that) he got notorious for suing Gov. Pritzker regarding covid regs, mask mandates, etc., and refusing to mask in the legislative chambers – you know, typical MAGA madness.

      • vvv says:

        Yes a Down Stater who has been excessively critical of Chicago (claiming it should secede or some shite like that), he got notorious for suing Gov. Pritzker regarding covid regs, mask mandates, etc., and refusing to mask in the legislative chambers – you know, typical MAGA madness. He is perceived as such a weak candidate that the Dems were buying TV commercials laying out his RWNJ cred so he would win the Rethug primary …

  10. Mike O’Donnell says:

    A citizen’s follow up question should have been: “And how do we ensure that we DO keep it?”
    To which Franklin, had he insight into the future, would’ve said: “Through a Civil Grand Jury System with the ability to remove public officials for any ‘willful or corrupt misconduct’ while in public office (per CA Penal Code 919(c) and the essentially related Gov’t. Codes 3060 through 3075)”!

  11. Rugger9 says:

    I may have missed it, but the forever-vile TX Governor Abbott blamed the deaths of the 50+ migrants left to rot in a truck (the drivers are arrested, but they haven’t been able to count all the bodies yet) on the ‘open borders’ policies of Biden. However, open borders means smuggling isn’t as necessary, and Abbott himself closed the borders costing his state multimillions in losses. Of course, Abbott blames Biden for that too. Beto can’t remove him quick enough.

    However, the fact that these people were willing to die to get here speaks volumes about what America could be, once the infestations of MAGAs and GQP and militias are extirpated. That will take some time.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      That truck full of smuggled people went thru border inspection, which had been ramped up to defcon 6 at the request of Abbott. How well did that go ?

      • Rayne says:

        The migrants were consolidated at a safe house on the US side of the border *in Texas* then loaded into the truck.

        Which means Abbott’s whining about Biden is a means of deflecting Abbott’s failure to detect safe houses in his state despite all the mobilization of resources.

        • Duke says:

          Btw, MAGA crowd is filled with SHIITE CHRISTIANS
          Theocracy is worse than autocracy and is more problematic to remove once in place. The Saudis House would love to be secure with the complicating feature of theocracy but, is impossible as it is More Monarchy than autocratic. I digress.

    • Epicurus says:

      America is below population replacement rate. That means immigration is the only way for America to sustain itself long-term. Republicans seem to be doing everything in their power to kill the dream I imagine most immigrants have as the incentive to come here.

      • Rayne says:

        Why do you think the white nationalists are establishing forced birth by abolishing abortion and attacking birth control? They don’t want immigrants who are mostly BIPOC to boost US population.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I wonder whether being able to earn a living wage, obtain adequate medical care, and not pauperize themselves when paying for an education, would encourage more Americans to have kids.

        • P J Evans says:

          It would help. When even a BS in a technical field takes 5 years or more (because of the course requirements and scheduling problems), it becomes out of reach for most people.

  12. Rugger9 says:

    I wonder if any of the GQPs that visited Putin not long ago on July 4th were asked about that trip today, or if they support Putin’s holding of Griner and Whelan (among others) as trade bait. I don’t remember seeing anything about them today in the courtier press.

  13. pdaly says:

    WRT the American Revolution, I am partial to founding father/son of liberty Samuel Adams who signed the Declaration of Independence and was the ‘Forrest Gump’ of sorts of the American Revolution.

    He helped organize the 1770 funeral of Crispus Attucks (escaped slave/freeman of African American and Native American descent, sailor [one of the few trades accepting of non-white men] and regarded as the first casualty of the American Revolution at the hands of the British in Boston [Boston Massacre]).

    Samuel Adams was an inefficient tax collector who took part in the Boston Tea Party protesting British taxes on the American colonists.

    He was one of the two men (including John Hancock) for whom General Gage led the march of British troops into Lexington, MA to capture (starting the “shot heard round the world” on Lexington Green).

    Samuel Adams was a second cousin to John Adams a fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence and future U.S. President who, as a lawyer and matter of law felt obliged to offer legal defense of the British soldier accused of shooting Attucks.

    In addition, Samuel Adams inherited the family business of malted barley used in the beer making business. I assume Sam Adams was all for ‘beer-thirty’!

    Most importantly, Samuel Adams was influenced by the Enlightenment, especially teachings of John Locke.
    wrt the Enlightenment, I’ve mentioned before that Thomas Jefferson as a student of the Enlightenment created for himself the ‘Jefferson Bible’ in which he removed from the New Testament all miracles and most mentions of the supernatural, including Jesus’ resurrection. This is something some of the justices on the current Supreme Court should consider when ‘doing their own research.’

    Happy Fourth!

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      A goodly number of the founding fathers were self described ‘deists’. From Webster:: a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe

      • Rugger9 says:

        I suspect there was a good reason for that. The serious religious wars were not even 150 years distant, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 was all about religion (and the source of the Test Act still in force IIRC) and more recently the Jacobite rebellion had as much to do with religion as it did with Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Battle of Culloden happened in 1745, which for that time was a mere blip in history.

        Note also that the colonies themselves were a religious polyglot in combination. MD was Roman Catholic (Lords Baltimore), VA Church of England, MA Puritan, RI rejected Puritanism in their respective foundations so to find a common ground for all faiths really meant that none could be a controlling faith for all.

    • Tom says:

      That reminds me of a story about how Abraham Lincoln once attended a church revival meeting when he was a young prairie lawyer. The preacher gave a rousing fire-and-brimstone sermon and finished up by asking his congregants whether they wanted to go to heaven or to hell. Lincoln had been visibly unimpressed by the whole proceeding so the preacher singled him out of the crowd and demanded, “What about you, Mr. Lincoln, do you intend to go to heaven or to hell?” “Well, since you ask,” replied Lincoln, “I intend to go to Congress.”

  14. grennan says:

    We should also think of General Grant “eating the artichoke leaf by leaf” to capture Vicksburg 159 years ago today, an operation that had taken months to effect, and of all those who diet at Gettysburg the same day. To preserve the Union and make a country where nobody was entitled to enslave any of us.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Grant’s Vicksburg campaign is something of a masterpiece between his persistence and his movements after he was finally able to get on dry land on the same side of the Mississippi River. His coordination was the key and the Confederates’ lack of coordination their downfall. Between the Vicksburg garrison and Johnston farther east the CSA had superior numbers and stable supply lines to Johnston.

  15. Dr.C. says:

    It is of note that Frederick Douglass had an epiphany about personal freedom in an incident at Mount Misery, located in St. Michael’s, MD. At one point, Mt. Misery was owned by Donald Rumsfeld, an irony that cannot be overlooked.

    Re Native Americans: Abortion is mostly restricted on Indian lands because of the Hyde Amendment. That is, medical care on tribal lands is mainly provided by the Indian Health services, which is part of the Federal Government. Many complexities arise.

    Henry Hyde, was a particular slimy piece of baggage for many reasons.

    Navajo tribal lands are mainly in Arizona. While until the SCOTUS decision, I believe abortion was legal in the State. Now it is under question because absent Roe vs Wade coverage, Arizona law may revert to an 1864 law banning abortion

  16. Willis Warren says:

    Byron York has a BS twitter thread about how Cassidy testified several times, changed her story, and then they rushed her in front of the cameras. He leaves out the witness tampering and whatnot. There’s a sly use of “Trumpists” which suggests even he is hedging his bets.

    • Rayne says:

      First two words of your comment said it all; I rolled my eyes so hard I almost couldn’t finish reading your comment.

      He’s not hedging his bets. York’s pretending at both-sidesing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Senate majority’s gerontocracy seems unable or unwilling to consider abandoning the blue slip, despite the comity and reciprocity that makes it useful no longer prevailing. Yet, McConnell happily throws it aside when it suits him. Asymmetrical arthritis.

      • P J Evans says:

        Someone should step on Durbin and attempt to get it through his head that the Rs are not playing catch, they’re playing hardball with a hand grenade, and he’s enabling them.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s not just Durbin, of course, or Joe Biden. It’s Senate leadership overall and the looming threat that Sinema and Manchin will abandon their pretense of being Democrats. (They don’t much vote with them now, except when the Dems cave or avoid votes altogether.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Dems would be committing immense national and self-harm were they not to fill every open federal judicial seat through the end of the year.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Roughly 80 out of 120 empty judicial slots with no nominees, and no apparent plan to review and bring them up for a vote. There are less than six months left in 2022, and more than one prediction that the Dems might lose the Senate. There are limited slots in the Senate calendar, what with summer and fall recesses, fall holidays, and, oh, a midterm election.

          The closest analogy I can think of is a counterfactual one. It’s as if the WH had refused to accept RBG’s resignation, knowing the Dems might lose the Senate in 2012.

          [You okay, EoH? Two of your comments went into moderation because of typos in your username/email fields. Fixed and cleared. /~Rayne]

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Thanks. With all the good news of late, I must be numbb.

            (You might note that my e-m provider has slightly changed its name and suffix, with which I will shortly catch up.)

  17. gmoke says:

    This is not meant to discourage electoral politics and voting as if your life depended upon it, because it probably does, but we haven’t had a DEMOCRATIC republic for a long time based upon this study (and others) which shows that the popular voice is not often reflected in the laws that are passed:

    From a study of 1791 proposed policy changes 1981 – 2002

    Proposals with
    61-80% approval pass less than 40% of the time,
    up to 90% a little better than 40%,
    even 91-100% approval has less than 60% chance of passing.

    UMich lecture by Benjamin Page https://youtu.be/hJ1UmicB7qM

    More in Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It by Benjamin I Page and Martin Gilens (Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 2017 ISBN 978-0-226-50896-2)

    Vote, yes. Elect the best candidates, yes. But please remember, we’ve had a system for at least the last 40 years if not longer where proposals with 100% popular support are lucky to get adopted maybe 60% of the time.

    I don’t believe that such a system can really be defined as a functioning representative democracy.

  18. Nick Caraway says:

    “A republic if you can keep it.” There is not now a republican form of government in many of the gerrymandered states. For example, Wisconsin is a 50/50 state as regards statewided elections, but Republicans control the State House 61-38 and the State Senate 21-12. That’s only one of the worst examples. I know we have talked gerrymandering, its causes, and its nationwide implications, to death but it’s something to think about as we celebrate the Republic.

    • Rugger9 says:

      This was also the case in Parliament during the Founders’ time, with rotten and pocket boroughs in the Commons having the same representation as larger cities like Sheffield. It went a long way to foster an attitude where electoral accountability was not considered.

      • P J Evans says:

        Some of those problems didn’t get fixed until the mid-19th century. (I’m pretty sure that some of my relatives, if not my ancestors, were Chartists. Most of them moved to the US in that period.)

  19. bawiggans says:

    Though the SCOTUS super-majority presently finds itself basking in glory and the glow of an appreciative minority, there is still the problem of its having destroyed any basis for the long-term authority of its decisions. The contempt with which it regards precedent combined with the dog’s breakfast of made-up doctrines it employs to add legalistic flourishes to the rumblings of its intestinal flora and fauna guarantee that no future configuration of the court – of any stripe – will have reason to respect the decisions of this one. The court has been transformed into a vehicle for imposing the collective whim of the current majority and indulging the various hobby horses of its members. I believe this is the “delegitimizing” of the court of which the minority has repeatedly warned.

    Should the republic somehow survive and reform itself, the reestablishment of the rule of law will require the return of stare decisis and rationality as the foundations of stability. The era of the Roberts Court and virtually all of its decisions will be toxic, a fenced-off jurisprudential superfund site to be cited for nothing but error and bad-faith reading of the law.

    Cold comfort today, I know, but all the more reason for haste and reform.

      • bawiggans says:

        Comfortably nothing. Everything is going to hurt.

        If there proves to be a mass of angry people sufficient to destroy the republic for spite, surely there is a mass angry enough about losing it and purposeful enough to either stop them or build the 2nd Republic on the ashes. Haste must be taken to gain actual control of Congress in November to have a prayer of reform. Otherwise, it is surely the ashes.

        But my point was that the new majority in SCOTUS has by its own methods rendered its judgements ephemeral. These are not decisions for the ages. They will stand only as long as those in the majority on the court prop them up.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, and ephemeral is maybe a really good word. Transitory works too. The connect to the past in the Court, stare decisis if you will, seems not just gone but disdained. That is new and different.

          • gmoke says:

            This is now the Calvinball Court which makes up its own rules and changes them as it pleases when it pleases, or the Aleister Crowley Court where “do what you will is the whole of the law.”

    • Rugger9 says:

      What actually made it into Susie Madrak’s column is something that Congress has the Constitutional power to do: wall off SCOTUS review, even in the a situation where the judicial process has begun. I had cited the reference in an earlier comment. One of the congresscritters has already floated this element as part of his proposals for reforms on abortion and voting rights (IIRC). I would observe that with this SCOTUS majority precedent is a punch line and even Warren Burger’s opinion will be swept aside for partisan gain. Burger was no liberal by any stretch.


  20. Alan K says:

    Andrew Marantz wrote an outstanding piece called “The Illiberal Order” in the July 4 issue of the New Yorker centered around an account of his adventures trying to get into a CPAC meeting in Budapest, which he extends into a compelling survey of authoritarian tactics and strategy since Nixon. What stuck in my mind was the influence of Arthur Finkelstein, a Brooklyn consultant.

    According to the article, Finkelstein’s advice to rightwing politicians was summarized in a 1970 note to the Nixon White House: “Try to polarize the election around that issue that cuts best in your direction, i.e., drugs, crime, race…”. I can’t stop thinking about this concept. It seems smart, and it seems like a fundamental truth in politics. Perhaps it is new to me because I never studied law or political science or history?

    Anyway, it seems to me that the GOP coalition of the past 50 years has been assembled from several communities that are energized by polarizing messages. They have leveraged the minority-favoring electoral system so that the sum of these energized communities is just enough to achieve political control.

    The Dems, on the other hand, don’t seem to have, or want to have, or even really appreciate the importance of this polarization technique. The “Unite the Country” messaging of Obama-Biden is certainly honorable, but promoting honor doesn’t seem to energize the honorables — it only seems to energize the deplorables.

    If we were to subvert Finkelstein, what would we do? Will the J6 committee generate energy? I doubt it. Too easy for the GOP to spin it as a few bad apples. What about Bernie Sanders — he is great at delivering polarizing messages along the lines of the wealthy grow wealthier while working people grow poorer. And AOC is great at owning the cons and speaking truth about power. Now that conservative religious dogma (dare I say Catholic Church) is running the Supreme Court, perhaps there are opportunities to energize communities like the libertarians as well. If energized communities require polarization, then that’s politics. Honor comes later, after the negotiations.

  21. cmarlowe says:

    If you didn’t catch it, as part of the effort to keep our republic, Fulton county DA has issued grand jury subpoenas for Rudy, Eastman, Lindsay Graham, Jenna Ellis, Cleta Mitchell and Kenneth Chesebro.

    • bmaz says:

      What a load of performative junk. If Fani Willis has a case, she should bring it. This is just garbage at this point.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Performance art hidden behind GJ secrecy rules, inhibiting the public from gauging its quality, and leaving them hoping for the best. It’s like giving yourself a five-star review.

  22. Rugger9 says:

    Two OTs:

    Fulton County GA District Attorney Fani Willis has subpoenaed Lindsey Graham and Rudy Giuliani about the vote tampering. A judge had to approve these because both live out of state, which for me adds a layer of proof with respect to probable cause (but IANAL). There is much to talk about already in the public sphere, but we’ll see how these two try to dodge Willis.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had two more ministers resign from his cabinet, this time for BoJo’s lying about hiring someone (a former deputy whip) to a government role who was known to have a sexual misconduct rap sheet. The chancellor and health secretaries both left, both are very senior portfolios of the government. I do not know anything about how the Tories manage their caucus but there was a no-confidence vote for party leadership not long ago where BoJo was getting thrashed over Partygate (that time). I do not know when the backbenchers will try again, also noting that two by-elections (special elections here in the US) were also lost by the Tories including a seat that had been held for a century. That’s used in the UK to gauge public sentiment which is why the long-held seat loss (to the Liberal Democrats, left leaning in the UK) looms very large indeed.

    Perhaps the age of arseholes is about to wane.

    • bmaz says:

      Or perhaps far too many people seem to think Fani Willis is suddenly and magically Justice Robert H. Jackson. She is not. The peoples need to get a grip.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If the age of arseholes were about to wane, BoJo would have been history long ago, or never been elected.

  23. Ddub says:

    Found this a day late haha!
    Happy Fourth to anyone not pleading the Fifth about the Sixth.

  24. Pete T says:

    Thank you Rayne. If the following “plug” is inappropriate, please remove it.

    I have nearly finished reading Elie Mystal’s “Allow Me To Retort” and highly recommend it to anyone. For me, it is an eye opener.

    And so I found myself watching the Boston Pops 4th of July Bloomberg stream because wife is from Boston. But it could have been any of the events. I was filtering what I saw and heard on the broadcast through what I had read from Elie’s book.

    One of the statements that is sticking with me the most – so far – is that the Constitution and especially Amendments are mere “suggestions” unless the Executive enforces them and the Legislative Branch puts laws behind them for enforcement.

    Caveat – I am not a Constitutional scholar.

    A case in point is the original Constitution written by a non representative set of individuals originally left voting rights to the states. Bad idea. Amendments 15 (voting and race), 19 (voting and sex), 24 (voting and poll and other taxes), and 26 (voting and age of at least 18 years of age). 4 of 17 Amendments to deal with fixing a core mistake.

    The 15th Amendment was given some enforceable teeth by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but 15A was ratified in 1870. What’s 95 years… /sarc And look at the attack on voting rights since 1965 especially NOW!

    Anyway, maybe buy the book. I don’t expect anyone to agree with all or most of what Elie says, but he does offer a lot to think about.


    • Rayne says:

      They’re not suggestions if they amend the original Constitution. And I’ll beg to differ with the perspective the Executive and Legislative branches assure amendments have teeth.

      The First and Second Amendments tell us otherwise, that the Judiciary lends as much force as the other two branches.

      With regard to voting rights: look at what happened when the Judiciary feels racism is over, a la Shelby County v. Holder, or really throughout the tenure of Chief Justice Roberts.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How vapid is the closeted Republican NYT? For starters, its OpEd columnists from the right, who seem to agree that David Brooks is too sharp and intellectually honest. For another, neophyte columnist Pamela Paul. She was previously the NYT Book Review editor and former spouse of Brett Stephens (and is now married to a hedge fund manager, making her resemble the NYT ideal, average reader). Paul’s recent column, posted shortly after the Dobbs decision, equates the real misogyny on the right with the largely imagined misogyny on the left. Dan Froomkin takes the NYT to task:

    What all these articles reflect is an intense, disproportionate hostility toward inclusiveness. So the answer is right there: The purveyors of this garbage are defending exclusivity.

    They are, or they identify with, rich white cis people who want to maintain their position of control and power and superiority over others. They hate uppity minorities and sanctimonious hippies who would upset the proper order of things.*

    There’s currently no acceptable way of openly expressing that view in polite, elite society. So all the emotional intensity – and money – behind it gets poured into this insane bucket of anti-wokeism.

    Froomkin describes anti-wokeism’s purveyors as insincere, but “pathologically committed” to appearing detached, to suggest falsely that the right’s pathology has an analog on the left. They want to marginalize critics of the status quo, and make money by scamming readers.

    Froomkin reserves special criticism for the OpEd page editor, Kathleen Kingsbury. Shortly after publishing Paul’s rubbish, she published Leah Libresco Sargeant’s deceitful argument about the angst of “delivering” an ectopic pregnancy. As many have noted, all ectopic pregnancies are fatal to the fetus, and fatal to the mother, if an abortion is not induced. While obviously false essays on the right breeze onto the NYT’s pages unscathed, Froomkin notes that essays from the left “are subject to endless back-and-forths between their authors and the editors trying to denature them.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/03/opinion/the-far-right-and-far-left-agree-on-one-thing-women-dont-count.html [paywalled]

    • Rayne says:

      NYT Opinion editorial management needs a swift kick in the ass. That piece by Leah Libresco Sargeant is pure rage bait, written by someone utterly unqualified to cite facts about reproductive health care.

      But NYT has a much bigger problem because it also runs David Leonhardt’s equally unqualified nonsense about and related to COVID and pandemic mitigation. It’s the kind of crap which sickens and kills people.

  26. skua says:

    The fear that Congressional Democrats have of RWNJs with guns needs to be kept in the picture when their decisions are looked at. These people are under on-going heightened threat of violent injury and death.
    Whatever way forward is taken in Congress this fear is going to factor in.

    • skua says:

      So what?
      How does this help you keep your republic?

      A letter, worded to make it clear that it wasn’t an implied threat of violence, to your representative Congress folk naming the fear and acknowledging them for continuing to work in such an environment could change the way the fear effects them.

  27. Sandwichman says:

    I suppose the following is common knowledge, which is why one never sees it cited, quoted or referenced in discussions of the Supreme Court majority’s claims to “originalism.” I just thought it was kind of interesting to see Abraham Lincoln citing Thomas Jefferson at length.

    Abraham Lincoln addressing his and Senator Douglas’s view on the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, July 17, 1858, Springfield, Illinois:

    “In public speaking it is tedious reading from documents, but I must beg to indulge the practice to a limited extent. I shall read from a letter written by Mr. Jefferson in 1820, and now to be found in the seventh volume of his correspondence, at page 177. It seems he had been presented by a gentleman of the name of Jarvis with a book, or essay, or periodical, called “The Republican,” and he was writing in acknowledgment of the present, and noting some of its contents. After expressing the hope that the work will produce a favorable effect upon the minds of the young, he proceeds to say:

    [Thomas Jefferson:]“’That it will have this tendency may be expected, and for that reason I feel an urgency to note what I deem an error in it, the more requiring notice as your opinion is strengthened by that of many others. You seem, on pages 84 and 148, to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions—a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is, “Boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem”; and their power is the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that, to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.’”

    • Rayne says:

      Excellent, thank you. No wonder we don’t hear of this much, at least from Republicans; they wouldn’t want a Republican president of Lincoln’s stature warning against their packed SCOTUS.

      The context of this particular argument in this speech is important, as the next graf reveals:

      Now, I wish to know what the Judge can charge upon me, with respect to decisions of the Supreme Court which does not lie in all its length, breadth, and proportions at his own door. The plain truth is simply this: Judge Douglas is for Supreme Court decisions when he likes and against them when he does not like them. He is for the Dred Scott decision because it tends to nationalize slavery—because it is part of the original combination for that object. It so happens, singularly enough, that I never stood opposed to a decision of the Supreme Court till this. On the contrary, I have no recollection that he was ever particularly in favor of one till this. He never was in favor of any, nor opposed to any, till the present one, which helps to nationalize slavery.

      Link for others who want to read Lincoln’s citation of Jefferson and the rest of his speech at Springfield, IL given July 17, 1858:

  28. Ddub says:

    This from Rollingstone:
    At an evangelical victory party in front of the Supreme Court last week to celebrate the downfall of Roe v. Wade, a prominent Capitol Hill religious leader was caught on a hot mic making a bombshell claim: that she prays with sitting justices inside the high court. “We’re the only people who do that,” Peggy Nienaber said. This disclosure was a serious matter on its own terms, but it also suggested a major conflict of interest. Nienaber’s ministry’s umbrella organization, Liberty Counsel, frequently brings lawsuits before the Supreme Court. In fact, the conservative majority in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights, cited an amicus brief authored by Liberty Counsel in its ruling.

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