The Stupidity of Democratic “Leadership”

As I’ve said for years, the “leaders” of the Democratic Party are their own worst enemies.

What has made Republicans so effective is that they’ve concentrated on key issues that worry their supporters – and made them personal and simple. The libs are baby-killers. They’re going to take your guns. The lefty commies have taken over education and are teaching subversive stuff to your kids. They’re also flooding the schools with gay pornography and black propaganda. They want to swamp the U.S. with immigrants who will do your job for less. To pay for all this, they’ll raise your taxes just like they have before.

Simple, direct, and wrong – because truth is complex and nuanced, and the Democrats have tried to explain why. But if you’re explaining, you’re already at least half-losing.

So how about… the GOP sold out to the fat cats who pay you starvation wages. Or, the GOP pushes murder and death for pregnant women [since in fact the leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder]. Or maybe, the far right wages war on women and outlaws abortion to get cheap minority labor and adoptable white kids. The right opposes free trade to keep prices high and subsidize fat cat companies. [And if the Democrats worked on it, they could probably do better than I did, and if they don’t they’ve got a real problem, because what they’re doing now isn’t working all that well.]

In addition to over-explaining, the Democrats have too many issues and seemingly can’t focus on the ones that are the most important, while over-emphasizing the trivial. Stop worrying about pronouns and language when you don’t have adequate pay and equal rights. And don’t come up with stupid slogans like “defunding the police” when, despite all the problems, minority communities don’t need fewer police, but better police and other support services.

Democrats also can’t organize for the long run. They can create rallies for important issues, but can’t match the GOP in doing the day-to-day, week-on-week organizing, and the grinding and boring groundwork. Part of this is because much of their constituency is either working so hard that they don’t have time, or too young and doesn’t know how to work, and often too ignorant of how grassroots politics works.

And while the Democrats can raise money, they don’t always spend it wisely in supporting electable candidates, as well as candidates who can legislate and not just pontificate.

None of this is new. So why doesn’t the Democratic leadership actually lead?

The “Catholic” Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States has nine justices. Six of them are Catholic; one other justice identifies as “Anglican/Catholic.” Catholicism specifically condemns abortion. Of those seven, six oppose abortion.

Now, I don’t have a problem with Catholics who oppose abortion. I do have a problem with Catholics, and those of other religions, who use and interpret the law to force their beliefs onto others, particularly when those laws are effectively targeted to reduce the rights of half the population and when the other half is largely unaffected. Regardless of “religious” beliefs, that’s blatant discrimination.

About six-in-ten U.S. adults (61%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted this past March. These figures have remained remarkably constant over the past thirty years. Yet a male-Catholic-dominated Supreme Court [Sonia Sotomayor is Catholic and opposes the draft opinion, while Amy Coney Barrett is Catholic and supports it] appears determined to effectively outlaw abortion in over half the states.

In addition to such laws and legal interpretations being discriminatory – and against the views of almost two-thirds of the American population – they also effectively enshrine the religious beliefs of a minority into law, and, in doing so, violate the intent of the First Amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

As a side note, one of our distinguished founding fathers – Benjamin Franklin – printed and distributed a medical treatment book containing ingredients and procedures for inducing a pharmaceutical, do-it-yourself abortion. So did others during that time period, so Justice Alito is slanting the history more than a little when he says that the Founding Fathers made no reference to abortion, since it was definitely known and practiced at the time, and it might just be that it wasn’t mentioned because it was practiced and wasn’t particularly controversial.

Allowing women to choose is not the same as mandating abortion. Study after study shows that the vast majority of women who have abortions don’t make that decision lightly.

Given that over 60% of Americans have consistently felt that abortion should be legal in all or in most cases for more than 30 years, as far as I’m concerned, the draft opinion is nothing more than an attempt by a male patriarchy to continue to oppress women and to reduce their power. For all the rhetoric about the “rights” of the unborn, history demonstrates clearly that beliefs and governments that restrict the rights of women to control their own bodies also have abysmal records in protecting human rights, and virtually all of them oppress women and children. And, by the way, in a surprising coincidence, the Taliban have now abolished school for women and again mandated the burka.

Is it any surprise that justices appointed by a political party that has opposed equal legal rights for women also oppose them having rights over their own body?

Get Real About Abortion

Forget the arguments about “right to life.” They’re a smokescreen for the real issue, because the real issue is power.

Men have absolute sexual freedom biologically. They can choose to have sex when and where they wish, even when the woman or another man is not willing. And in the case of women, the only one who suffers adverse physical repercussions is the woman.

The freedom to use birth control or, if the woman desires, to have an abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, gives her close to equal freedom and certainly the freedom to do as she wishes with her own body – which is analogous to the freedom men already have.

Like it or not, most men, at least subconsciously, don’t want women to have that freedom. Their answer is that if women don’t want to bear the consequences, they shouldn’t have sex. But men can have sex without bearing the potential consequences. Those are unequal rights, pure and simple.

Some men have argued that greater punishment for rape or forced sex and financial support is preferable. Those won’t prevent women from being forced into sex and bearing the consequences. Only the unfettered access to birth control and abortion will.

The fact that this is a power struggle is further supported by the renewed push by the far right not only to eliminate all abortions, even when the life of the woman is endangered, but to prohibit all forms of birth control.

This isn’t about right to life; it’s about male domination, which, apparently, some women on the far right also prefer – and that’s their choice, but it shouldn’t be forced on all women.

The fact that those religious faiths that oppose abortion, including the Catholic Church, are also male dominated, sometimes viciously and violently, should also tell thinking people that it’s not primarily about right to life, but about men’s “right to dominate.”

When Justices Lie

With the leaked draft of the pending Supreme Court decision, apparently to overturn a woman’s right to abortion as established in Roe v. Wade, has come another not totally unexpected surprise. In their meetings before their confirmation hearings, both Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh told Senator Susan Collins of Maine that Roe v. Wade was “settled law.”

In essence, they both lied to get confirmed.

Chief Justice Roberts is incensed that the draft opinion was leaked.

He ought to be even more incensed that the two newest justices blatantly lied to get confirmed.

Now, admittedly, Senator Collins was a fool to believe either, especially Neil Gorsuch, whose views on abortion were well known long before he was even considered for the Supreme Court, but the fact that they both blatantly lied speaks volumes about the far right.

We all know that too many politicians lie or mislead to get votes in the hope of getting elected. That’s nothing new. But one could hope for more from a potential appointee to the nation’s highest court. These two didn’t even have the decency to say, “My record speaks for itself.” Instead they, in effect, made a promise they had no intention of honoring.

Personally, I have a real problem with so-called idealists who will compromise every principle they supposedly hold dear in order to be able to impose, very selectively, their principles on others. But this is and continues to be the hallmark of supposed “conservatives,” who are in fact not conservatives, but religious zealots trying to impose church upon state.

The far right effectively espouses the right to shoot other people under certain circumstances, but they won’t allow a woman the right to decide what goes on with her own body. At least, the far left will let you go to hell in your own handbasket, even if they’ll overcharge you for using the handbasket.

“…and I Don’t Like Anyone Very Much…”

[With apologies to The Kingston Trio]

Because I’m a registered Republican and have given money in the past to a select few Democratic candidates, over the past few months both my snailmail and my email have been deluged with appeals for money and support from both parties and from candidates from both political parties. Each party and every candidate insists that the very existence of the United States is threatened if they don’t get adequate funding in order to defeat the “evil other.”

Now, I’d be the first to admit that there are politicians in each party that the respective party – and the world – could and should do without. Parties being what they are – greedy and without ethics [ethics are only used in judging the other party] – that’s not going to happen.

Depressingly predictable is that the vast majority of these desperate-sounding appeals are close to fact-free, along the lines of “if the other party gains/maintains control of Congress, the sky will fall.” The specifics of how the sky will fall, of course, are also general, but behind the vague generalities, the implications are obvious.

If those free-spending free-sex Democrats get control, they’ll take away our guns, require abortions, indoctrinate our kids with gay and lesbian propaganda, give the vote to every illegal immigrant, require paying people for not working, and bankrupt the entire country, and that’s just for starters.

If those authoritarian Republican Trump clones get control, they’ll take away civil rights from anyone not a white male, ban all abortions for any reason, fortify and militarize the southern border, pass more tax cuts for selfish millionaires, keep the minimum wage as low as possible, accelerate climate change and destroy the environment in a generation, and that’s just for starters.

I’ll also admit that there are politicians close to those extremes, not that most would ever admit it publicly, but I did spend twenty years in the Washington, D.C., political climate and there have always been extremists, just not so many that are so extreme. Even so, I’ve never seen such vitriol on such a wide scale – not in the fifty-plus years that I’ve been in and watched U.S. politics.

And that’s why I don’t like any of them very much – this frantic sky-is-falling, violent-hatred fund-raising just exacerbates the current polarization… and by engaging in it, they may well permanently fracture the underlying consensus required for a democratic political system.