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The End Of Roe v. Wade

Is the title of this post alarmist? No, not really. That is effectively what the new Texas law has done, and has now been fulsomely endorsed by the Supreme Court, without even the courtesy of full briefing, oral argument and a merits decision. It was known this was coming when SCOTUS let this bunk take effect yesterday morning without action, it was just a question of what the backroom dynamics were in that regard. Now we know.

Here is the “decision”. As anti-climatic as it is, it is important. This is decision on a law, and the words count.

It is madness upon not just in Texas, but the entire country. These earth shattering decisions used to come only after full briefing and argument. No longer, now the shadow path is supreme.

Agree with Mark Joseph Stern in Slate when he says this:

At midnight on Wednesday, in an unsigned, 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. The five most conservative Republican-appointed justices refused to block Texas’ abortion ban, which allows anyone to sue any individual who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks, when the vast majority occur. There is no exception for rape or incest. The decision renders almost all abortions in Texas illegal for the first time since 1973. Although the majority did not say these words exactly, the upshot of Wednesday’s decision is undeniable: The Supreme Court has abandoned the constitutional right to abortion. Roe is no longer good law.

Texas’ ban, known as SB 8, constitutes a uniquely insidious workaround to Roe. It outlaws abortion after six weeks, but does not call on state officials to enforce its restrictions.
Instead, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, the law “deputized the state’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures.” Random strangers can sue any “abettor” to an abortion anywhere in Texas and collect a minimum of $10,000, plus attorneys’ fees. The act’s language is incredibly broad, encompassing any friend, family member, clergy member, or counselor who facilitates the abortion in any way. Every employee of an abortion clinic, from front-desk staff to doctors, is liable as well. And when an individual successfully sues an abortion provider, the court must permanently shut it down.

What other questions does this action, really inaction, by SCOTUS generate? A lot. Peterr asked this elsewhere:

Next up, perhaps, in the Texas legislature, now that SCOTUS has affirmed (5-4) their new approach to enforcement of state laws . . .

Texas declares that black and hispanic people shall not be allowed to vote, and delegates enforcement to any citizen, allowing them to sue for at least $10,000 if they can prove a black or hispanic person voted.

Texas declares that marriage is reserved to one man and one woman, and delegates enforcement to any citizen, allowing them to sue any same-sex couple who presents themselves in any form or fashion as “married” for at least $25,000 . . .

etc. etc. etc.

Again, not hyperbole. For now though, it is crystal clear that Roe is gone. There will be different laws in different states, at best. That is it.

What happens when states like Texas/their citizen plaintiffs start trying to enforce their craven law as to conduct occurring in other states? I don’t know, but that is the next horizon.

At any rate, this is going to be a problem for a very long time. If SCOTUS will do this though, given their clear previous precedent contrary to today’s order, means you can kiss voting rights cases goodbye.

It is a not so brave, nor honorable, new Supreme Court world.

Election Day Countdown: Better Than 1 Day Left [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Updates at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Old gag, I know…a couple hours left is better than a day left, amirite?

Oh, and a status report on Cirque du COVID au chez Rayne: the men in my house were tested at a drive-through. They waited three fucking hours in line behind at least 60 people.

This is absolutely absurd at this point in the pandemic, and it’s all Trump’s fault.

This country should have funded a skunkworks development program to create and distribute rapid tests which could be done at home.

This country should have funded another skunkworks development program to create and distribute a test-and-trace program which would work cheek-and-jowl with the rapid tests.

There’s just no goddamned excuse for this country — which could put the first humans on the moon in a veritable oversized tuna can using less total computing power than in a flip phone — not to have been challenged by its leadership to pull out all the stops to fight this virus and its spread.

But Trump is incapable of leadership. He is only capable of grasping greed and hate.

And this is the best he can do for a closing argument, “Fire Fauci!” The expert on infectious diseases a majority of Americans support?

Fire Trump.

~ 3 ~

Sure most of you heard about Harris County, Texas, and the GOP contesting roughly 127,000 votes cast in early voting via drive-through.

The collective sigh of relief when known-partisan Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against the GOP:

… In his ruling from the bench, Hanen said he rejected the case on narrow grounds because the plaintiffs did not show they would be harmed if the drive-thru ballots are counted. He noted, however, that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could think differently if the cases reaches it. The Republican plaintiffs are appealing the decision.

If he had ruled on the larger issues in the case, Hanen said, he would have rejected the request to toss out votes already cast. But Hanen said he would have shut down Harris County’s drive-thru polling places for Election Day because the tents being used for the sites don’t qualify as voting inside a “building,” a requirement under state election law. …

The Texas Supreme Court had already denied requests by Republicans to toss out drive-through ballots not once but twice.

The entire situation reeks of bad faith because local Republicans were involved in setting up the drive-through voting process, and the party didn’t file a lawsuit until well after early voting had started.

No idea what will happen next during the appeal since everything in the year of Trump pandemic is unpredictable; the plaintiffs have now filed this evening.

UPDATE – 11:45 P.M. ET – Jeez, just read this Twitter thread by Southpaw, who wrote in the first post, “The notice of appeal to the Fifth Circuit hit the district court docket before Judge Hanen’s written order, which is a road map for the Fifth Circuit to reverse him without remand if it’s so inclined.” Why so sloppy when so much is on the line?

Meanwhile, Tarrant County, TX needs more people to help count a record number of ballots.

Sure feels like Texas is on the verge of flipping blue. TV writer Ira Madison’s Twitter account has been suspended after spoofing Beto O’Rourke, challenging Texans to swing the state, offering nudes in return. Much needed comic relief in Texas.

~ 2 ~

Barton Gellman wrote a grim piece for The Atlantic, on How Trump Could Attempt a Coup.

Seems like we’d see more movement toward this already than the non-scalable wall around the White House:

Trump’s campaign continues to ask for donations through December 14, claiming the money is needed for a protracted legal battle.

Is a long fight expected, or is this part of a set-up for a coup? Or is this just another scam and his base is too stupid to discern this?

~ 1 ~

Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a whisker — a 10,000 vote margin, or roughly 2-3 votes per precinct across the state. There was a record undervote that year, with 80,000 voters choosing no candidate at all at the top of the ticket.

The race has been too close for my taste, running an average 6-7 point spread for Biden. Knowing hijinks were employed in 2016 with foreign influence operations and the vote unable to be recounted or forensically analyzed, it’s not out of the realm of possibility Trump and the GOP could pull some hanky panky here.

Especially since GOP proxies like the DeVos family and Mitch McConnell’s PAC have dumped around $40 million dollars into the senate race to prop up Trumpist John James against incumbent Gary Peters.

This morning the state began counting absentee ballots  and GOP poll watchers made some stink to disrupt the process.

They were ejected, one for disruptive behavior and the other for failing to wear a mask safely as required. Can hardly wait to see what crap they pull on Election Day.

In mid-October, Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson barred open carry of weapons in polling places on Election Day due to concerns of voter intimidation. She was sued by several gun rights groups; the state’s conservative-majority supreme court ruled against Benson five days ago. Benson appealed; the supreme court hasn’t bothered to respond and it’s already Election Day as I type this.

The feds are monitoring Detroit, Flint, Eastpointe, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Jackson, Shelby Township for voting rights violation, which seems like a joke since only Detroit, Flint, and Highland Park are minority majority communities.

The feds aren’t watching two other known minority majority communities in which a former GOP secretary of state tried to remove secretary of state offices obstructing voters’ registration.

While a lot of media attention will fall on Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania, something is clearly going on in Michigan since Trump had four campaign rallies since Friday in this state. Why the heavy investment? Is it really for John James’ benefit? Or is there something else going on we can’t see any more readily than we could in 2016?

At least activists have been working hard to motivate Michiganders to vote. Obama was in Flint this weekend and again on Monday with Joe Biden and Stevie Wonder in Detroit. Wonder made a “love letter” video to Michigan with the MeidasTouch.

Also note a late entry aimed at Michigan by the Biden-Harris campaign using Michigan-native Eminem‘s “Lose Yourself.”

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.

~ 0 ~

Thank you if you’ve already voted. Put the pedal to the metal and ensure everyone else you know votes by the time the polls close tomorrow.

~ | ~

UPDATE-1 — 1:15 A.M. 03-NOV-2020 —

Don’t let the door hit you, Donald. Good fucking riddance to bad baggage.

~ | ~

UPDATE-2 — 1:35 A.M. 03-NOV-2020 —

This twitter thread is heartbreaking, just gutting. Never had to happen.

He’s right. Donald Trump murdered BSR’s father.

Fire Trump.

John Galt’s Trail of Death and Destruction Continues to Grow

Building destroyed in West, Texas fertilizer explosion. (Courtesy of State Farm via Flickr under Creative Commons license.)

Building destroyed in West, Texas fertilizer explosion. (Courtesy of State Farm via Flickr under Creative Commons license.)

John Galt has been a deadly and destructive guy lately, with the largest of his most recent attacks taking place in the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh on April 24 where the death toll has now tragically topped 900 and the fertilizer storage facility explosion in West, Texas on April 17 that miraculously killed only fourteen people but injured over 200 and caused damage that is now estimated to exceed $100 million.

In an interesting development, Bangladesh has shown that at least on some fronts it is more civilized than Texas. Both the building’s owner and the engineer accused of colluding with the owner to add three unregulated floors on top of the building have been arrested, while Texas lawmakers, previously known for their refusal to vote in favor of disaster relief when it was in New York and New Jersey, now have called for socializing the losses in Texas. Of course, since the fertilizer plant owner (who has not been arrested) only carried $1 million in liability insurance (and since Texas doesn’t require liability insurance for many businesses operating with dangerous materials), those losses are bound to be socialized anyway.

From CBS News on the response to the disaster in Bangladesh:

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith spoke as the government cracked down on those it blamed for the disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar. It suspended Savar’s mayor and arrested an engineer who had called for the building’s evacuation last week, but was also accused of helping the owner add three illegal floors to the eight-story structure. The building owner was arrested earlier.

The government appears to be attempting to fend off accusations that it is in part to blame for the tragedy because of weak oversight of the building’s construction.

It looks like Muhith went a bit too far in trying to deflect responsibility from the government:

During a visit to the Indian capital, New Delhi, Muhith said the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is by far the country’s biggest source of export income.

“The present difficulties … well, I don’t think it is really serious — it’s an accident,” he said. “And the steps that we have taken in order to make sure that it doesn’t happen, they are quite elaborate and I believe that it will be appreciated by all.”

The article goes on to point out that Muhith had made a similar hollow promise to improve safety conditions several months ago when a fire in a garment factory killed over a hundred workers.

In a tragic testament to the shoddy conditions in these facilities in Bangladesh, we have word this morning of another eight deaths in a fire in a garment factory. However, this time the fire was after hours and it wasn’t workers who were killed: Read more

John Galt Kills Texans in Massive Fertilizer Plant Explosion

West Texas

Google Maps satellite view of West Fertilizer and its proximity to West Middle School, along with many houses and apartments.

Who needs pesky safety regulations or zoning laws when there is money to made running a fertilizer plant? Sadly, the small Texas town of West, which is just north of Waco, is suffering the consequences of unregulated free enterprise today, as a massive explosion at West Fertilizer has leveled much of the town. Perhaps the only remotely fortunate aspect of this tragedy is that it occurred at 8 pm local time and so West Middle School, which burned after the explosion, was not full of children.

A look at the satellite image above shows the folly of putting “free enterprise” ahead of sensible zoning laws. At almost 20 miles north of Waco, Texas, one thing that is in abundance in the region is open space (I’ve driven past this spot several times in the last two or three years–it’s desolate), and yet this fertilizer plant is immediately adjacent to a large apartment building (see the photo at the top of this article for how that building fared in the explosion) and very close to a middle school. There is no reason at all for any other building to be within two or three miles of a facility that produces material that is so explosive.

The Texas tradition of low taxes is also having an impact on this tragedy. Note this passage in the New York Times account of the disaster:

It began with a smaller fire at the plant, West Fertilizer, just off Interstate 35, about 20 miles north of Waco that was attended by local volunteer firefighters, said United States Representative Bill Flores. “The fire spread and hit some of these tanks that contain chemicals to treat the fertilizer,” Mr. Flores said, “and there was an explosion which caused wide damage.”

That’s right. This fertilizer plant and other businesses in West apparently don’t pay enough in local taxes to support a municipal fire department, and so the first responders to a fire at a fertilizer plant were volunteer firefighters. Sadly, several of these volunteers are now missing:

The town’s volunteer firefighters responded to a call at the plant about 6 p.m., said Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton. Muska was among them, and he and his colleagues were working to evacuate the area around the plant when the blast followed about 50 minutes later. Muska said it knocked off his fire helmet and blew out the doors and windows of his nearby home.

Five or six volunteer firefighters were at the plant fire when the explosion happened, Muska said, and not all have been accounted for.

Ammonium nitrate, one of the most commonly used fertilizers is also highly explosive. It was the primary component of Timothy McVeigh’s bomb that destroyed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. Texas, especially, should know of the dangers inherent in fertilizer plants, as this disaster occurs very near the anniversary of the Texas City disaster: Read more