Republicans will probably be ruing today’s Supreme Court abortion decision

It’s not surprising that Roe v. Wade was formally overturned by our super conservative court today. That’s because the opinion was leaked back in May. It would have been surprising had it changed. Still, it’s shocking nonetheless.

I’m hardly the first pundit to point out that this is like a dog chasing a car and managing to catch the car. Giving the Republican base what they want has been a recurring theme for this court, constructed carefully over nearly fifty years of effort.

Just yesterday we got another 6-3 ruling from the court that invalidated lots of state laws that prohibited the public carry of firearms. We have such a law right here in Massachusetts. I am pissed. I moved to Massachusetts in part because the legislators here are sensible. Our state is one of the safest places in the country because of its gun laws.

But it’s going to be more Wild West in my state, thanks to the court. I live in the western part of the state, the part of the state that elected Scott Brown as our senator after Ted Kennedy died. This area is not exactly liberal but not exactly conservative either. Owning a firearm is more of a hassle here, but I’m certain there are enough Swamp Yankees (as we call them) around here to start openly carrying them. The rest of us will be up in arms, so to speak, the first time we saddle up next to one of these strangers at the bar at the local Applebees.

Today’s decision still allows abortions in states that choose to allow them. If you think this will satisfy the antiabortion crowd, you are incredibly naïve. This is part one of a larger plan to disallow abortions nationwide. It’s not that difficult. Republicans need a majority in both chambers and a control of the presidency. When the inevitable case is brought to the court to invalidate the law, don’t expect a 6-3 conservative court to overturn it.

But this is really part of a much larger agenda to impose minority values on the majority of the people. Justice Thomas was pretty open about his agenda. In his opinion, he states the court should look at reversing all sorts of precedents, like its gay marriage ruling. Expect states to also take aim at the court’s decision in the 1960s invalidating state birth control laws. In short, if nothing changes, we’re moving pretty quickly toward A Handmaid’s Tale world.

All this plus gerrymandering, voter suppression and outright corruption of the electoral process to allow states to send electors at variance with the popular vote of the state and you have all the trappings of permanent minority rule and, essentially, authoritarianism. That’s really what this is all about.

Lack of control drives Republicans batty. They can only feel comfortable if everyone follows rules they set. This gives privileges to those they like (like the gun ruling) while taking it away from those they don’t like (poor pregnant women and minorities.) If you are skeptical, try to find one state with antiabortion laws that also attempts to feed the babies born that would otherwise be aborted. (Hint: none exist. In fact, generally these states keep reducing what measly subsidies exist for poor people.)

The problem is that Republicans think people will be sheep. People aren’t sheep. When abortion was last outlawed, those with the means got them anyhow. Lots of women who couldn’t still managed to get them through unofficial networks while lots of them died attempting their own abortions too.

Moreover, women will remember when abortion was safe, legal and local. They will resent that their reproductive choices were taken away from them. Add in hoped for additional persecution against the LGBTQIA+ community, much of it well underway, and they are feeding rebellion against them and driving demand for the liberal values they so obviously abhor. Also, they drive civil insurrection, which rather than controls society simply adds to its instability.

The whole point of a democratic government is to ensure that government represents the will of the people. Because our system of government gave extraordinary power to southern and rural states, it was lopsided from the beginning. Additional tactics like filibuster rules in the Senate make the problem far worse. Authoritarian governments rarely last long but they are great at causing civil unrest, insurrection and death. Democratic governments are supposed to engender listening and compromise, which engenders trust in government. Only 36% of Americans trust our Supreme Court to act impartially. Approval of Congress is at a low 20%.

Democrats would be wise to run on a new Contract with America in the coming midterms. This badly timed ruling on abortion gives them plenty of fodder to convince the public. There will be plenty of news stories about the ill effects of today’s rulings by then. The contract should include a promise to end filibuster rules at least for any proposal to guarantee abortion rights. What’s more important than that though is to reform the Supreme Court.

I’ve long argued for packing the Supreme Court. Restoring its balance so that it is more representative of the people, rather than disproportionately representative of our most extreme conservatives, is the only real solution to the hellscape Republicans and our super conservative Supreme Court seem anxious to unleash on us.

A sudden Rush to judgment

Thank goodness at least some people you would think would not bother continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh. The conservative radio host says so many outrageous things that it is hard to keep from being inured by his latest rants. At least one person in the progressive blogosphere must tune in, because otherwise his outrageous comments on Sandra Fluke, a 30-year old Georgetown University student might have gone wholly unnoticed.

Ms. Fluke, as you doubtlessly heard, was called a “slut” and a “prostitute” by Rush on his radio show last week. Once was apparently not enough for Limbaugh, who double downed his assertions the following day on his show, suggesting her every sexual encounter should be filmed for the benefit of her sponsors, the American taxpayer. Over the weekend he had a sudden change of heart, likely because his advertisers starting withdrawing their sponsorship of his show en masse. Limbaugh sort of apologized without really apologizing, and like the whiny liberal stereotype he likes to lampoon, blamed much of his behavior on liberals. At least forty of his sponsors have pulled the plug so far and more are likely to join the parade.

It’s curious that these obviously false assertions should get him in trouble when so many others have gone, if not quite unnoticed, at least unchallenged. Limbaugh coined the term “Feminazi” to describe feminists. He’s been using the term for decades but like so much other slander and filth out of his mouth, we tuned it out. You would think equating the tens of millions of peaceful but assertive American feminists with a group of fascists that were responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities might have triggered advertisers to bow out from supporting his show long ago. But almost all advertisers are glad to keep sponsoring a show to reach a target market unless it suddenly becomes politically expedient to drop them.

If only there were some tiny speck of truth in his allegations. Fluke “testified” before an unofficial panel of House Congressional Democrats, only because the six male members of the requisite House committee wouldn’t let her or any woman testify on the need to have birth control covered in employer-based health insurance contracts. Fluke wasn’t even talking about herself, but about a friend at Georgetown who needed birth control, not to sleep around, but to control PCOS. Lots of women need birth control for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy, such as for PCOS and to control periods that would be dangerously heavy or excessive. Even when women take birth control to prevent pregnancy, it doesn’t mean that the government is subsidizing birth control. The issue is whether employers should be required to offer birth control as part of their health care coverage, as is required in a majority of states already. That’s it. No government subsidies involved.

And clearly few of the 99% of women who use birth control at some point in their lives are sluts. Some have legitimate medical reasons why their periods need to be regulated. Others are happily or otherwise married women who just don’t particularly want a bun in their oven but want the freedom to have a sex life with their husband. I am not sure how you define a woman as a “slut” but I do know that since Rush cheated on his wives he was putting his dipstick into places where people like him would argue it should never be. However, Rush can avoid the “slut” label because he is a guy. Guys can’t be sluts. There’s not quite an equivalent word for a guy, because it’s okay for guys to sleep around. Granted I don’t hang around men’s locker rooms very often these days, but in my day those guys who bragged about their multiple exploits in locker rooms tended to be envied by the rest of us virgins, who would have been happy to get an opportunity to have sex with something other than our right hands. In any case, when Rush takes vacations alone in the Dominican Republic without his spouse, caught entering with illegal Viagra and is cited for the offense, this sounds like a guy who was aching to be a male slut.

Maybe it’s just me, but I hate the “slut” word. Plenty of women have high sex drives, and I’ve been fortunate to have known a few of them in the biblical sense. Having a high sex drive means you really enjoy sex, which is entirely fine and natural. Having many sex partners at the same time is probably not a wise choice if you are trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. It is possible to be sexually active with multiple partners and be reasonably safe at the same time. Undoubtedly some women do put out for reasons other than having a high sex drive, but the same is true with men. Whether a woman chooses to live a life of celibacy, refrains from intercourse until marriage, sleeps around before marriage or has multiple sexual partners at the same time is a choice she must live with. The same is true with men, but for some reason we don’t dwell on satyrs except possibly to envy them. It’s something about being a woman that makes being sexually active with multiple men (or women) at the same time especially morally reprehensible. Maybe its because Mary the mother of Jesus never slept around, or so we assume. Apparently Mary Magdalene did, and Jesus considered her a close friend.

Insurance companies of course are glad, even eager, to provide free contraceptives to its insured women. Entities like the Catholic Church don’t have to compromise any of their cash on principle, an accommodation that was recently granted by the Obama Administration. Fifty dollars a month in birth control pills and paying a couple of hundred dollars a year for the woman to see a gynecologist is infinitely cheaper than the costs of bringing up an unplanned child.

What really annoys the Limbaughs of the world is that many women won’t choose to live the stereotypes they would prefer they live. At the root of Limbaugh’s anger is a frustration that people like him cannot always control the intimate lives of women. They get angry when women choose to exercise their right to be free and liberated human beings. People like Limbaugh want to exert power over women, but really power over any person whose morals they object to. Democrats simply want to put freedom of choice into the individual’s hands, particularly women who otherwise could not afford $50 a month for pills and hundreds of dollars a year in doctor and lab fees to ensure their reproductive health. Let women decide whether they want to use birth control or not, since it is safe and effective. Because it is almost universally used by women, simply make it available as a health choice for them like any other treatable health condition. Because health insurance is all about maintaining personal health and by extension happiness, the same happiness our founders talked about in our constitution that we are all supposed to crave. It appears that the Limbaughs of the world very much want to take away such freedoms from anyone they don’t like while inconsistently and furtively giving themselves license to indulge.