Sunday, June 26, 2022

How did we get here, ask the people who got us here

By Isaiah Thomas, Board of Editors
with Spy Archivist Aula Minerva

How did we get here, we ask.

In one sense the answer is simple.  Here's Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith:

We’re in this dark moment because right-wing politicians and their allies have spent decades scheming to overrule a right many Americans considered sacrosanct. Passing state laws to restrict access to abortion care. Giving personhood rights to fertilized eggs. Threatening to criminalize in vitro fertilization. Offering bounties for reporting doctors who provide abortion services. Abusing the filibuster and turning Congress into a broken institution. Advancing judicial nominees who claimed to be committed to protecting “settled law” while they winked at their Republican sponsors in the Senate. Stealing two seats on the Supreme Court.

It's the fault of concupiscence

For nearly 50 years, right-wing extremists rejected the beliefs held by an overwhelming majority of Americans. They doubled and redoubled their efforts to create a future in which women and their doctors could face a prison sentence for seeking or providing basic health care. When these extremists couldn’t impose their radical views through the legislative process, they stacked the courts.

That's irrefutable but it doesn't tell the full story. The destruction of the right to a safe and legal abortion was aided by lots of folks who now proclaim themselves shocked, shocked to discover what Republicans have been doing for the last 42 years. Here's Kevin Dowd's sister:

Over the last three decades, I have witnessed a dismal saga of opportunism, fanaticism, mendacity, concupiscence, hypocrisy and cowardice. This is a story about men gaining power by trading away something that meant little to them compared with their own stature: the rights of women.

Pretty bad. But in her telling, the 40-year effort to stack the Supreme Court with extremist reactionaries has a clear villain.  Wait for it.  Wait.  Wait.  Admire the window boxes along her Georgetown street.

OK, you've waited long enough.  The villain is Joe Biden, for bungling the Thomas hearings (which he did).  Never mind that he voted against Long Dong Thomas and Sulky Sam Alito, and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Back to Kevin's sister. In 2016, after watching by her account 25 years of said dismal saga, she couldn't bear to tell her readers, of whom she has many we're sure, that the Presidential race between Hillary Clinton and the Tangerine-Faced Rapist represented a fundamental choice between a man who would enslave and degrade women and a women who would not, even if she had refused to dump her horndog husband. 

(Her glancing reference to “concupiscence” is both a nod to her fine Catholic education and a hidden attack on all Clintons. Perhaps she felt that the death of Roe, which Hillary Clinton told us was on the ballot in 2016, was not a promising day to shoot off the usual broadsides against Hillary.)

But as with other recent abominations, like the Supreme Court's insane lawless decision on the right to stroll into Market Basket packing a high powered assault rifle capable of shredding 40 shoppers a minute if they're keeping you from the BOGO Doritos special or the revelations about the manifold efforts to stage a coup after the Former Loser Grifter lost the 2020 election, the loudest yelps are coming from those who helped confect the catastrophe.

We' hate to call them the usual suspects, because this crowd (unlike the extras in Casablanca) actually did the deed.  Their relentless, cruel, loud, uncompromising support of Republicans and their reactionary agenda had the outcome they must have intended: the triumph of white supremacy, gun lust, and (today's example) telling women what to do with their own bodies (whether or not as a consequence of your raping them in the dressing rooms of Bergdorf Goodman).  

Who want to be first?  How about the short, smirking guy pouring a barrel of water over the face of a helpless detainee?  He seems to be no fan of Dobbs, preferring John Roberts' '76 principle-free position that maybe abortion is OK up to 15 weeks for some reason:


In another Tweet he notes that 95% of abortions are performed by the 15th week, so he seems to be OK with 95% of all abortions.  Has he always given off such powerful women-rights vibes?  

Guess what?

Always, however, the key social issue is abortion. [Billy] put the argument most revealingly in the February 1997 issue of the neoconservative political monthly Commentary. ''The truth is,'' Kristol wrote, ''that abortion is today the bloody crossroads of American politics. It is where judicial liberation (from the Constitution), sexual liberation (from traditional mores) and women's liberation (from natural distinctions) come together. It is the focal point for liberalism's simultaneous assault on self-government, morals and nature. So, challenging the judicially imposed regime of abortion-on-demand is key to a conservative reformation in politics, in morals, and in beliefs.'' 

Whoa Nellie. You'd think he'd be thrilled by Alito's triumph of self-government, morals and nature. Or, if he isn't, that he's a disingenuous dishonest unprincipled blowhard who has forfeited his place in America's political discourse. 

Let's try another one of our favorites: the high-spirited darling of the Contras, Ana Navarro:

That seems pretty clear to us. Guess she's always worked to keep the hands of government out of women's reproductive system.

Sorry, no.  Before rising to the summum bonum of American life – TV celebrity – she labored for and partied hearty with a series of Republican hacks and fronts:  

“She’s a friend” who “hangs out in South Florida” and “had been around the political world,” said Jeb Bush Jr., a son of the former governor. “We’ve known her for a long time,” he said, adding that having “more Hispanic or Latina conservatives out there” is good “for any Republican, especially Dad.”

We know that Jeb's brother George nominated two justices knowing they would oppose Roe and his father nominated one for the same reason.  But it's unfair to attribute their views to Jeb, right?  What did Jeb have to say when he ran for President with Ana's approval:

He said, "I'm the most pro-life governor on this stage....Life is a gift from God. And from beginning end we need to respect it and err on the side of life. And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We created a climate where parental notification took place. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy [fake clinics used to talk women out of choosing abortion] centers with state moneys.”

The Jebster also promised to defund all Planned Parenthood services, not just abortion.  Ana didn't have a problem with imposing Jeb Bush's beliefs and religion on all Americans six years ago. 

Next up, an even more highly placed Bush flack and TV celebrity: Nicolle Wallace.  She didn't look too happy about the end of the right to an abortion, retweeting glum tidbits like this:

And yet when she was flacking for George W. Bush's re-election campaign, which led to the elevation of Sulky Sam Alito, her views on reproductive rights sounded, shall we say, different:

The Bush campaign unveiled a television commercial that questions Mr. Kerry's priorities and attacks him for voting against legislation, since signed into law by the president, that makes it a separate offense to harm the fetus in a federal crime against a pregnant woman....Because the law treats the fetus as a separate person, its opponents have described it as an effort to roll back abortion rights....

In a conference call with reporters, Nicolle Devenish [As she was then known – Ed.], the communications director for the Bush campaign, signaled that the commercial would be the start of a concerted effort to counteract what she described as an effort by Mr. reinvent himself.

And how about all those galaxy brain constitutional-law experts many of whom bemoaned the intellectual shoddiness of the Dobbs decision, like Georgetown Professor Neil Katyal and Harvard Professor Noah Feldman.  What did they say about the three FLG stooges who professed their respect for Roe as precedent?  

University of Michigan Law Professor Leah Litman as usual has her hand up:

And don't tell us that we didn't know in 2016 what was at stake in the Presidential election. A very smart graduate of Yale Law School told us plainly:

But the current political battle being waged over filling the current vacant seat on the Supreme Court—and the fact that our next president could appoint as many as three or four justices in the next four years—are striking reminders that we can’t take rulings like today’s for granted. Just consider Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee. The man who could be president has said there should be some form of “punishment” for women seeking abortions. He pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. And last year, he said he’d shut down the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood. If we send Trump to the White House and a Republican majority to Congress, he could achieve any—or all—of these things. And that’s why this election is so important. The outcome of November’s contests, from the presidency to state legislatures, is going to be a deciding factor in whether our elected officials and our courts defend or attack a woman’s right to health care for generations to come.”

So, she was, um, right.

To be fair, a very stupid corrupt sex offender was just as clear:

But there's another bunch of suspects to round up, and they're not Republicans.  The New York Times points out today that the Republican anti-abortion blitzkrieg actually began in 2010, when Democrats and progressives figured that having elected Barack Obama, their work was done and they could just stay home:


All it took for evil to triumph was for good Democrats to do nothing.  Any moral for 2022?  You can find if you have a strong stomach idiots Tweeting today about how they have given up on Democrats because for the three months the Democrats controlled the political branches in 2009 they did not drop everything else (like national health insurance) and legislate abortion rights.  Some even have the cojones to argue that because Dems can't break a Senate filibuster on abortion rights today, they have forfeited any claims to progressive support.  

The great thing about these insane arguments is they generate their own empirical validation: if pro-choice and progressive voters actually buy them, they will stay home and Democrats will be unable to protect abortion rights, just as predicted.

As we come to the most consequential midterms since the debacle of 2010, ask anyone who tells you there's no real difference between Democrats and Republicans and thus no reason to vote for a possibly imperfect Democrat, if they remember the 2010 and 2016 elections and the 40-year Republican effort to take away the right to a safe and legal abortion.

We remember, even if Billy, Ana, Maureen, Nicolle, and a bunch of hard left whack jobs pretend to forget.

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