Sunday, May 29, 2022

Roe v. Wade Worked For Fifty Years But . . .


. . . Republican Politicians have set up the Supreme Court and many State Governments to impose Republican Theology on everyone.


Halfway through a U.S. President’s four-year term of office the “midterm elections” happen.
On November 8, 2022 we citizens (age 18 and above) will vote and elect all 435 members of the House of Representatives--they serve two year terms; and voters will elect 35 of the 100 members of the Senate. Senators serve six year terms.

About 90% of Representatives and Senators will be re-elected even when the majority of public opinion is against what they stand for! Really? How can this be?
The most powerful reason is that voters are not voting yes or no on specific issues; instead, 90% of voters vote by Party loyalty. Also, as my previous blogs have highlighted, the politicians talk in slogans for promoting themselves and condemning their opponents. The politicians also communicate non-verbally. For example, they might smirk or pretend disappointment at their opponent’s personal or political actions. TV newsmen and women are also famous for their nonverbal “commentary.” 
Here are a few famous slogans:
  • “Come and Take It” (Used in first battle of the Texas revolution)
  • “LBJ for the USA” (Used in Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign) 
  • “The Buck Stops Here” (Used by President Truman) 
  • “Yes We Can” (Obama presidential campaign)
  • “Defeat the Washington Cartel” (An accusatory slogan used in Ted Cruz’s primary campaign)
Notice that the slogans are only generalities—they don’t inform us about the real, nitty gritty issues. 
Slogans are a part of routine leadership behavior. Parents, teachers, coaches, politicians, preachers and others use slogans to motivate people to do things. Successful politicians use slogans to get their most important messages into the heads and hearts of the voters. 
The politician’s goal is to get elected and do government as they and their political party believe it should be done.
But instead, when we the people’s majority disagree with the politicians, then we should get what our majority of voters want. And then we must monitor and insure that the Congress puts into effect the voice of the people.


Don’t Focus on Campaign Dra-ah-ah-mah.
Refer to my initial blogs for the discussion of how political hobbyism thrives on drama but is not effective for impacting politicians. But politicians command your attention and get your vote through drama. Myself, I never understood that process until reading Hersh's book Politics Is For Power.
The famous, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote about the ugliness of politics (as found in Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics, 2015). He said that every two years when the midterm elections come, the political “industry” conducts “wall -to-wall character assassination.” He goes on to say: 
“Politics is the only American industry whose participants devote their advertising budgets to the regular, public, savage undermining of one another. It is the only American industry whose participants devote prodigious sums to destroying whatever shred of allegiance any of them might once have won with their customers.”

Don’t Focus on highly publicized, serious, terribly polarized issues which have been turned into political footballs by the two major parties.
Prime examples include: criminalizing abortion, protecting gun rights, pretending the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent when in fact it was one of the most legitimate and error free.

Don’t focus on fighting for all or none, either-or, nothing in between, extremes of excessively permissive or excessively restrictive rights.

Statistically, the attitudes, the hopes and fears of Americans vary greatly but are in the middle range of the “bell shaped curve” of the normal distribution. It is to be expected that on many important issues, large groups of citizens would be strongly opposed to one another. 

Generally, from between 2015 and 2021, the percentages favoring pro-life or pro-choice were within five points of each other; and, which group’s percentage was greater or lesser flip-flopped from year to year. Here are graph results from Gallup:

Recently, a few states have been rapidly making laws restricting abortion anytime after conception—as if that moment were knowable. Clearly, politicians think and feel it is meaningful to define life as starting with a fertilized egg. However, the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade states that while the Texas law says life begins at conception, 
“We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at a consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer” (Harrison and Gilbert, 2003).

An important question needs to be answered by anyone trying to find a basis for deciding whether pro-choice or pro-life is right or wrong for them personally-- and for the county as a whole: 
Since for many years the majority of Americans have accepted and supported the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, why should the beliefs of fifty percent of the population forcefully take from the other fifty percent the legal availability of abortion?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Political High Impact Actions From Sessions, Barr, and McConnell


Senator Jeff Sessions was a loyal supporter of Trump’s candidacy for president. Sessions served in the campaign and upon Trump’s election became Trump’s Attorney General (AG) over the Justice Department. Sessions was both an attorney and an experienced politician, giving some justification for Trump’s choice and Sessions’ confirmation as AG.
But two problems arose.
First, Sessions had spoken with a Russian diplomat after U.S. Intelligence had concluded Russians had been involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. 
Second, an FBI investigation was announced into the Russian interference with the 2016 campaign. For any Attorney General these were very serious issues.
Since it was the Justice Department which would investigate Russian interference and the campaign, it was clearly a conflict of interest for Sessions to be a part of that. So in March 2017 he recused himself from having anything to do with the FBI Russian investigation. Sessions remained as Attorney General in other matters.
Judges, and lawyers remove themselves from a legal case (recuse, recusal, recused) or investigation when there is a conflict of interest which could be a source of bias, unfairness, or misjudgment. When Sessions recused himself, this made Trump quite angry for the reason that Trump wanted Sessions to protect him from negative effects of the Russian investigation. Were Sessions to function as Trump's personal attorney then Sessions' natural loyalty to Trump would bias Sessions' against the very Criminal Justice Department (of which Mueller was a part).
Robert Mueller, Special Prosecutor, then conducted a very thorough Russian campaign interference investigation. Trump publicly and regularly bad-mouthed the investigation; and this amounted to interference by Trump with a criminal investigation of Trump himself. Mueller, on the other hand, focused exclusively on getting the work of the investigation done properly according to standard criminal justice procedures. Mueller’s public comments were few and appropriate.
My opinion is that Sessions did an honorable thing by recusing himself. But Trump did a lot of public bad-mouthing about Sessions for his recusal. From Sessions’ comments which I’ve read, he continued being loyal to Trump but was not going to violate ethical standards for Trump
In contrast, it appears Trump is blind to issues of conflict of interest and brazenly acts like the principles of ethics don’t apply to him.
Sessions continued to serve in the Trump administration until November 2018 when he resigned and about the same time Trump rudely tweeted out Sessions’ dismissal (he didn't give Sessions a warning he'd be soon fired). Matthew Whitaker then served as Attorney General for a short period but then resigned or was let go.

Bill Barr, a former U.S. Justice Department Attorney General, wrote a letter expressing his support of Trump and stating that ”Mueller’s theory of obstruction was ‘fatally misconceived’ and should be rejected” (Honig, 2021). Subsequently, when the Mueller report was complete and Barr talked about it, I believe Barr violated the standards of the Justice Department by his misleading statements about the meaning of that report. Here, Barr was, loyal to Trump, downplayed the seriousness of Mueller's findings.

Elie Honig’s book, Hatchet Man, explains the importance of Bill Barr as defender of Donald Trump. It provides some of clearest and most readable insights into the constitutional crisis of Trump’s presidency. Honig is very well qualified for his analysis. He has been a state and federal prosecutor for fourteen years and successfully prosecuted hundreds of the most complex sorts of serious crimes. This is an essential book for understanding the danger of Trump’s autocratic, demagogue-like world view.

I intently watched Barr to hear what he’d say after the Mueller report came out. It was very hard not to become enraged at how he minimized the disturbing findings about Trump. It was even harder to hear his misleading interpretation that there was “no collusion.” He taught Trump to say those words repeatedly: “There was no collusion” and following up by saying he did nothing wrong. Of course, the issue wasn’t collusion—it was obstruction of justice.

So, I read every bit of the digital version of the Mueller Report, of which the full name is, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election. I read it for the following critically important reasons concerning pre-election Trump:
  • During the televised Republican Debates I found Trump to be insincere, arrogant, and not seriously debating. He was merely spouting off rudely, and he was effectively commanding the stage by interpersonal crudity. A spectacle.
  • He had an unusually powerful persona in the sense of performance--as opposed to a campaigning politician.
  • He was a well-dressed man, very unusual behavior, an extreme outlier in many regards. A candidate not expected to win! But he did win—in an election which by itself was not unusual (Klein, 2020).
  • Much of what he had to say was merely a reaction the other candidates, all of whom had understandable policies an insights. Trump had no substantive issues, but he was a spectacle spectacle.
  • I thought he would not get elected, but were he elected he would be some sort of political disaster. His lack of judgment was never more apparent than when in a campaign appearance he “invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.”

I was impressed by the quality of the Mueller investigation. But what I found most significant was that many of Trump’s staff tried to rein him in to prevent him doing more damage to himself and his administration. But Trump didn’t care what anyone else thought and continued saying and doing whatever came into his mind. A lot of what this self-described “very stable genius” said was impulsive, disorganized, and insulting to those he had to work with.

On or about December 21, 2020, he minced no words when he told Trump, “You lost.” Barr on his final day as Attorney General publicly said there was no evidence of any significant election fraud and said Trump lost the election.
From the perspective of 2021-2022, Barr’s comment was and is incredibly brave and important to the welfare of American government. After all, 95% of Republican Party Congressmen and women performed loyally for Trump and supported him publicly. The best evidence of this is their not convicting him of his impeachment charges, not supporting the January 6th Insurrection Investigation, publicly campaigning against the work of that Investigation, resisting subpoenas, and condemning the work of their fellow Republican Liz Cheney, one of the co-chairs of the Investigation. 
I really don’t believe 95% of the Republican Party is delusional. I don’t believe they are in the throes of a conspiracy theory as such. No, as someone closely following the path of the GOP in the last several yeas, I believe their 95% all-in with the public Big-Lie position is a strategy for manipulating the minds of American citizens to believe what is grossly untrue in order to win elections. 
Is the Republican Party serving the people? I don't think so.

Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has been one of the most powerful members of Congress for many years. Upon Biden’s winning the election, McConnell congratulated Biden. Moreover, McConnell did not assert that there was any significant election fraud. And furthermore, I witnessed several times McConnell’s open-minded manner about the January 6th Investigation. I heard him say, in his usual low-key manner that, “Something interesting may come of it.”
I disagree with a lot of McConnell’s ultraconservative politics, but I greatly value the integrity he had in publicly endorsing the reality of Trump’s loss and at least being open-minded as to what the January 6th Investigation might turn up.
        For references see the relevant page on the website. 
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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Roe v. Wade Ended Because . . .




Note: This is an updated version of the previous 5-5-2022 blog titled, "Useful Analysis of Abortion Issues From Ruth Bader Ginsburg."


In May of 2022, Justice Alito's "[D]raft draft opinion in a key case striking down Roe v. Wade (1973) has sparked a heated debate, perhaps drawing new attention to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opinion on the key abortion precedent." 

This is from Fox News: "Leak confirms Ruth Bader Ginsburg's prescient warnings about Roe v. Wade." Read former Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg's piece in Fox News:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was famous for her:

  • Very insightful and careful opinions on constitutional law 
  • and her liberal viewpoints more favored by average citizens than by the conservative Republicans.
She supported freedom of choice abortions rights but she also knew that the Supreme Court of the United States' (SCOTUS) Roe v. Wade finding had various technical problems--troublesome ones she had previously predicted would emerge. Back in 1973 Justice William Rehnquist in his dissent acknowledged such problems.
Justice Ginsberg predicted that Roe v. Wade would need fixing. She was not in favor of a sudden, dramatic complete overturning of Roe v. Wade which would be a shock to American citizens--a sudden end to medical rights without alternatives. That's what we got in 2022.

In this blog, I'm not giving my personal opinions on abortion. My goal is to broadcast the work of several writers who show us their high quality thinking processes. Clear thinking on abortion law requires temporarily setting aside strong emotions; then, as a result, a person can better take into consideration essential concepts ( see how Justice Blackmun lists many of these essential concepts in his quotation below).

James Mumford, PhD is a philosopher and writer. I noticed his book, Vexed: Ethics Beyond Political Tribes (Mumford, 2020). I bought it because he discusses the problems voters have as a result of the Democrat and Republican Parties each "packaging" issues together in a so-called "platform." And that makes it quite difficult for voters to make a sensible voting choice. They can't vote yes or no on separate issues; they can only vote for one or the other Party's package. For example, one can't get from Republicans both abortion rights and gun control.

Mumford points out that the Republican Party advertises their not putting restrictions on guns and that they strongly support the sanctity of life (anti- abortion). Mumford carefully interprets the Republican belief as saying: "The loss of life owing to guns may be tragic, but worse would be the loss of the liberty to have guns. Gun violence is the inevitable cost of freedom." Then Mumford concludes that, "Such a sentiment, I have argued, flies in the face of a commitment to the sanctity of life."

Then Mumford examines the hypocrisy of President Richard Nixon who in his first election pursued a pro-choice agenda and followed through on it during his first term. But in his campaign for a second term, Mumford wrote, "All that changed when he came to see his chances of re-election hinged on bringing the Catholics into the fold. He shamelessly reversed his position" (Mumford, 2020).

Nixon's personal hypocrisy and strategy for political gain is not unusual behavior for ambitious politicians; they carefully choose and promote in the campaign those issues that will get them elected. Mumford in his book helpfully examines half a dozen important political issues; he shows how they are used as weapons in the form of deceitful, tribal (as in emotion-provoking slogans) hooks by which to gain votes.
The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision came in 1973.
Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion making abortion legal. He remarked that, "One's philosophy, one's experiences, one's exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one's religious training, one's attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion" ( from Harrison and Gilbert, Eds., 2003).

Justice William Rehnquist, in his dissent, wrote: "The Court's opinion will accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of leaving this area of the law more confused than it found it" ( from Harrison and Gilbert, Eds., 2003).
Now, in the Fall of 2023, the some States are busy prohibiting abortion. Other states have laws allowing abortion. Several States have laws by which any citizen can sue those who go out of State to get a legal abortion; and there are lawsuits in the process of blocking such laws. The abortion law and its interpretation is pretty messy still. 
         For references, see the page BIBLIOGRAPHY / WORKS CITED
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