As soon as I heard that Alito's draft overturning Roe v Wade along with virtually all personal rights had been leaked, I knew it came straight from Alito's office. There's no one else who benefits. No "liberal" clerk is going to trash her career just to get it out a month early when it can have no positive effect on the outcome but can only be more harmful. And it was leaked to Politico, which "centrists" think (or claim) is non-partisan but careful media watchers know is more to the right. And the instant it came out, the entire GOP mouthpiece chorus came out with the identical talking point: that it was the leak, and not the content, that was the outrage. This was one, single, right-wing op. So the GOPs are all calling for an investigation of who the leaker is and insisting that it had to be one of the liberal clerks for the "liberal" judges, but I'm sure they will forever fail to find the source. (Some of them are insisting it had to be neo-justice Brown, to whom the draft was not even circulated.) But maybe someone has. "Who Had Access To The Leaked SCOTUS Draft Overturning Roe? Former SCOTUS clerks explain how draft opinions are transmitted." Politico received a hard-copy of the draft. If you look at the .pdf, you see a stamp on the corner. That stamp doesn't have a tick on any of the (seven) names the physical copy of the draft is meant to go out to, meaning it was never circulated. It came direct from Alito's office.
Alex Pareen, "The Institutionalist's Dilemma: On trusting the process after it's openly failed. Sometimes when I am explaining the somewhat eclectic variety of topics I write about in my newsletter, compared to the work I did at other publications for many years, l joke that 'I just ran out of ways to say the Senate shouldn't exist.' I say 'joke,' but it's also a fact. I was blogging this in 2010. Nothing has fundamentally changed about how the Senate 'works' since George Packer wrote the damning portrait of a dysfunctional institution that I reference in that old Salon piece. More than a decade later, Senate institutionalists still make up the majority of the Democratic caucus, and they still believe the way to make the institution work is not to change its rules but to somehow change the nature of the opposition. [...] The legitimacy crisis is that our institutions are illegitimate. For my entire adult life, beginning with Bush v. Gore, our governing institutions have been avowedly antidemocratic and the left-of-center party has had no answer for that plain fact; no strategy, no plan, except to beg the electorate to give them governing majorities, which they then fail to use to reform the antidemocratic governing institutions. They often have perfectly plausible excuses for why they couldn't do better. But that commitment to our existing institutions means they can't credibly claim to have an answer to this moment. 'Give us (another) majority and hope Clarence Thomas dies' is a best-case scenario, but not exactly a sales pitch."
Scott looks at one aspect of Alito's reasons here. "Justice Alito's Bad-Faith Appeals to Majority Rule: The Supreme Court has eviscerated the ability for a majority of citizens to elect the representatives they want and have their will enacted."
And The Mary Sue looks at another. "Let's Unpack the Chilling Phrase 'Domestic Supply of Infants' in the Supreme Court's Draft to Overturn Roe v. Wade [...] But I cannot stop thinking about a particularly insidious phrase within the draft opinion penned by Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett. The draft refers to adoption as a reason for abortion to be overturned, a common argument from pro-forced birth groups. The draft references nearly 1 million women who were seeking to adopt in 2002, 'whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent.'"
Dahlia Lithwick tears into that, too. "The Horrifying Implications of Alito's Most Alarming Footnote: A 'domestic supply of infants' is exactly what the framers of the 14th Amendment intended to abolish. [...] True. But the footnote reflects something profoundly wrong with the new 'ethos of care' arguments advanced by Republicans who want to emphasize compassion instead of cruelty after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health fallout. Footnote 46, quantifying the supply/demand mismatch of babies, follows directly on another footnote in the opinion approvingly citing the 'logic' raised at oral argument in December by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who mused that there is no meaningful hardship in conscripting women to remain pregnant and deliver babies in 2022 because 'safe haven' laws allow them to drop those unwanted babies off at the fire station for other parents to adopt. Second only to the creeping chatter of state birth control bans, the speedy pivot to celebrating forced birth and adoption is chilling. It's chilling not just because it discounts the extortionate emotional and financial costs of childbirth and the increased medical risks of forced childbirth. It's chilling because it lifts us out of a discussion about privacy and bodily autonomy and into a regime in which babies are a commodity and pregnant people are vessels in which to incubate them. If this sounds like a familiar, albeit noxious, economic concept, it's because it is."
Since his posts are usually shorter than anyone else's but also more concise and smart, let me recommend you hit this page with the first couple of days of Atrios' responses to the discourse on Alito's leak. This is the real political landscape you're in.
Those awful reproductive rights activists decided to take the Supremes' word that it was just fine to demonstrate outside of the homes of people (abortion workers) you don't like, and started holding candlelight vigils on the public street outside of the homes of Kavanaugh and Alito (whose neighbors didn't seem to mind). Someone up in Maine even wrote on the public sidewalk outside Susan Collins' place with chalk. Congress went into a pearl-clutching tizzy and passed a law, with the help of 100% of Democrats (note: that doesn't include Sanders), to protect Supreme Court Justices from free speech on public property. Which seems odd, given that many of those same Dems have had conservative whackos protesting outside of their homes regularly and never complained about it.
But let me also point out that this is not just about abortion. It's not even just about reproductive health, or even sex-related issues. Alito is using language that essentially says they can overturn all of your rights as well as the government's responsibility to act on behalf of the people. This is a broadscale attack on everything from birth control to the EPA and pretty much anything else conservatives have ever objected to. They're lining it all up to be shot down.
It's been a long time since I've cited Jessica Valenti for anything, but even she is done. "Most of all, I'm done with the Democrats who tiptoe around abortion as if it was some sort of political landmine. Seventy percent of Americans don't want to see Roe over turned—why are the people we elected to stop this horror show from happening still putting out polite press releases? Get a spine, and do your jobs. Part of the reason we're in this colossal mess is that Democrats ceded our most valuable asset: the moral high ground. Instead of hammering home that we are right and anti-abortion legislators are horrifically, dangerously wrong, they let conservatives call themselves the party of life. They spoke in whispers and favored 'choice' over 'abortion'. Instead of listening to years of advice of reproductive justice activists to support abortion unapologetically, they held onto the mantra that abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare,' lending credence to Republicans' claim that there's something wrong with ending a pregnancy. There isn't. Abortion is a human right and a moral good. And I'm done feeling humiliated."
There are a lot of things to be done with Democrats about, and here's another: "Biden's 'Mary Poppins of Disinformation' the perfect nanny to tidy up mess of free speech? Given her record of spreading disinformation and advocating censorship, Jankowicz hardly needed the musical-inspired persona. Yet, for the Biden administration, Jankowicz — like Mary Poppins — is 'practically perfect in every way' to keep track of whether we all 'measure up' in our public statements. It is still unclear from the administration's public statements what authority the board will wield, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the board as intended 'to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities.' President Biden already has established himself as arguably the most anti-free speech president since John Adams. During his transition period, Biden appointed outspoken advocates for censorship; as president, he has pushed social media companies to expand censorship, while his administration has been criticized for spying on journalists."
And of course, back to abortion, it's kind of hard to believe they're serious. "'Pelosi Has Endorsed Me. Steny Has Endorsed Me. Clyburn Has Endorsed Me.': Amidst a national outcry over abortion rights, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn visits San Antonio to campaign for pro-life [sic] Henry Cuellar."
"The Ohio Model for Purging Progressives: A Democratic establishment victory in a House race last year has emboldened big money to upend this primary cycle. A year ago, the elevation of Marcia Fudge to secretary of housing and urban development created a vacancy in Ohio's deep-blue 11th Congressional District in Cleveland. Progressives saw it as another prime opportunity, similar to ones they took advantage of in a series of 2020 primaries. The idea was to take shots in favorable seats, challenging moderates and moving the center of gravity within the party. A revitalized progressive campaign infrastructure, candidates that fit the districts in which they ran, and a nationally energized donor network made this possible, and for a minute, the long-term outlook was pretty positive. But the race in the 11th District saw the first successful counterattack to this strategy, from a group of outside donors who represented the old-guard establishment. Though Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) was active in campaigns prior to 2021, including supporting Joe Biden and the ultimately losing campaign of former House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel, OH-11 is where they made their stand, getting behind Shontel Brown in a race against former Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner. Like in the New York campaign pitting Engel against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Democratic Majority for Israel's ads in Ohio had little or nothing to do with Israel. The ads pulled messaging directly from an unmistakable banner on Brown's campaign website, focusing on Turner's divisiveness and some choice negative comments she made about Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign. DMFI spent around $2 million on TV and other advertisements in the race, and that was enough to help Brown secure a comeback victory. The PAC almost single-handedly took over the reins of a lifeless campaign and turned it into a winner." The crypto billionaires are in on it, too.
The Intercept is on this same story from the other side with "Progressives, 'Massively Outgunned,' Ditched Nina Turner. Somehow all that right-wing energy seemed to push the progressives back, too.
Well, no wonder "Biden Shouldn't Run in 2024, Most Voters Say: A majority of voters think President Joe Biden shouldn't seek reelection in 2024, and he would lose a rematch with former President Donald Trump by double-digit margins. A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports and the Heartland Institute finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Biden should not run for a second term as president in 2024. Only 28% say Biden should seek reelection, while another 11% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.) If the next presidential election were held today, and Biden were running against Trump, 50% would vote for Trump while 36% would vote for Biden."
"Why did federal police square off with abortion rights protesters in L.A. streets?: An abortion rights protest had been going on peacefully for hours in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday when a 'help call' suddenly went out over police radios about 9 p.m. The SOS didn't come from Los Angeles police officers, but a small group of federal officers with the Department of Homeland Security. They claimed, according to a statement by the LAPD, that they had come 'under attack' from protesters while in their patrol cars near the intersection of 5th and Hill streets — about a half-mile away from the federal courthouse where the protest had begun and where federal officers have jurisdiction. Video showed protesters banging on the officers' cars and taunting them in a circle, and the officers shoving protesters and screaming at them to 'back up.' Some witnesses have accused the officers on social media of instigating the confrontation by straying beyond the courthouse, driving into the crowd and using aggressive crowd control measures. Regardless, it ratcheted up tensions between law enforcement and protesters at what until then had been an orderly demonstration over a draft Supreme Court opinion that, if adopted, would undercut abortion rights nationwide. The scene also raised questions as to why federal police officers were squaring off with street protesters in L.A. — especially so many blocks from the courthouse."
More on everything at the Water Cooler.
"Once 'Unthinkable,' French Left Forms Coalition to Challenge Macron in Parliament: 'We want to elect MPs in a majority of constituencies to stop Emmanuel Macron from pursuing his unjust and brutal policies and beat the far-right.' Less than two weeks after France's neoliberal president, Emmanuel Macron, defeated the far-right's Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term, the country's four major left parties have agreed in principle to form an electoral coalition that aims to deny Macron a parliamentary majority. France's center-left Socialist Party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon's far-left France Unbowed reached a draft agreement on Wednesday following extensive negotiations. The French Communist Party and Greens had already agreed to join the alliance earlier this week."
Thomas Piketty, "The return of the Popular Front: Let's say it straight away: the agreement reached by the French left-wing parties under the label of the 'New Popular Union' is excellent news for French and European democracy. Those who see in it the triumph of radicalism and extremism have clearly understood nothing of the evolution of capitalism and the social and environmental challenges we have been facing for several decades. In reality, if we look at things calmly, the transformation programme proposed in 2022 is rather less ambitious than those of 1936 or 1981. Rather than give in to the prevailing conservatism, it is better to take it for what it is: a good starting point on which to build further."
"The Means-Test Con: Limiting student debt relief is cynicism masquerading as populism — and it will just enrage everyone. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Pete Buttigieg's personal ambition led him to poison the conversation about education in America. Desperate for a contrast point with his rivals, the son of a private university professor aired ads blasting the idea of tuition-free college because he said it would make higher education 'free even for the kids of millionaires.' The attack line, borrowed from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was cynicism masquerading as populism. It was an attempt to limit the financial and political benefits of a proposal to make college free. Worse, it was disguised as a brave stand against the oligarchs bankrolling Buttigieg's campaign, even though it actually wasn't — almost no rich scions would benefit from free college. This rancid form of bullshit was a staple of Buttigieg's campaign — like 'Medicare For All Who Want It' — but he and copycats like Amy Klobuchar were just pushing the larger lie that is now the foundation of economic policy debates. Call it the means-testing con — the idea that social programs should not be universal, and should instead only be available to those who fall below a certain income level. It is a concept eroding national unity and being carried forward by wealthy pundits and a Democratic Party that has discarded the lessons of its own universalist triumphs like Social Security, Medicare, and the GI Bill. This break from universalism popped up this week when the Biden administration tore a page from Buttigieg 2020's assault on the higher education discourse: The White House leaked that it is considering finally following through on Biden's promise to cancel some student debt, but not the $50,000 pushed by congressional Democrats, and only for those below an income threshold. That's right — as Biden's poll numbers plummet among young people, his administration is considering limiting and means-testing debt relief for federal loans that were already effectively means-tested through need-based eligibility requirements."
"Means-Testing Student Debt Relief: Big Hassle, No Results: Almost nobody will likely fall above the proposed income threshold. It's purely a tax on borrowers' time. President Biden says he will announce a decision on whether and how to cancel federal student debt, and how much to cancel, in the 'next couple of weeks.' During the 2020 presidential campaign, he promised 'at least' $10,000 in debt forgiveness per borrower, and reports indicate that's the range he's looking at now; he has ruled out canceling $50,000 or more. There are also indications that this forgiveness will be means-tested, with an ineligibility threshold between $125,000 and $150,000 for individuals and $250,000 to $300,000 for couples. New college graduates generally don't make that kind of money, and nor do the 40 percent of student debt holders who dropped out of college. But all of them will have to navigate the often punishing bureaucracy of confirming their earnings level. It means a massive headache for millions to cut out a minuscule proportion of borrowers. And if the history of means testing in America is any guide, bureaucratic snarls will prevent vulnerable populations from receiving relief to which they are entitled."
"Report: How privatization increases inequality: Inequality in the United States, which began its most recent rise in the late 1970s, continues to surge in the post–Great Recession era. During similar eras— such as the New Deal—many of the public goods and services we value today were created to deliver widespread prosperity. But the way in which cities, school districts, states, and the federal government deliver things like education, social services, and water profoundly affects the quality and availability of these vital goods and services. In the last few decades, efforts to privatize public goods and services have helped fuel an increasingly unequal society. How privatization increases inequality examines the ways in which the insertion of private interests into the provision of public goods and services hurts poor individuals and families, and people of color."
RIP: "Kathy Boudin, formerly imprisoned radical leftist and mother of San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin, dies at 78 after a years-long battle with cancer. Kathy Boudin was in the Weathermen and her son, Chesa, was 14 months old when she was imprisoned. His experiences growing up with his parents in prison influenced his attudes toward the criminal justice system, unsurprisingly. But Kathy never let being locked up prevent her from being an activist, starting groups for women in prison and out. She was something special.
RIP: "Dennis Waterman: a streetwise natural in three great British TV series: The co-star of The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks was a born performer who brought working-class south London edge to the small screen. Dennis Waterman, who has died aged 74, was an actor whose rough-edged charm and gravelly tones were especially effective as criminals or crime-fighters who walked a tight line between danger and humour and could cross from one side to the other at unexpected moments. While some TV stars become indelibly associated with one famous role, Waterman achieved lead parts in three separate long-running prime-time features that rank among TV's best-loved series." Long-time readers of The Sideshow will recall that I was a big fan of Waterman, and particularly of Minder. I was delighted when he returned to the small screen for New Tricks. And I still love to hear him sing the Minder theme song, "I Could Be So Good For You".
RIP: "Neal Adams, Comic Book Legend, Dead at 80: RIP to the renowned artist who helped transform Batman into the superstar he is today. Neal Adams, the legendary artist who brought Batman, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Brave and the Bold, and many more to life in his storied career passed away yesterday due to complications from sepsis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 80." And for those who can stand it, Marv Wolvman posted a nice tribute to him on FaceBook.
RIP: I missed this in February. "Bill Arthrell, Oberlin native indicted after Kent State shootings, dies in car crash: Bill Arthrell, who started his adult life with bullets and spent the rest of it relentlessly preaching peace, died last week in an Oklahoma car crash. He was 72." That day at Kent State focused his life, but the charges against students were all dropped because there was no evidence of a crime. (Well, except for the shootings of 13 students, four of whom died, for which no one was ever charged.) But he is notable for another protest: "Arthrell, who spoke often of the events at Kent and whose recollections are included in many recountings of the period, often attributed his indictment as revenge for his actions on campus a few days before the notorious shootings. On April 22, word spread on campus that students were going to kill a dog with napalm. A huge crowd showed up at the expected time, outraged and ready to stop it, including an animal welfare officer with a leash. There stood Arthrell in a suit coat and tie to explain there was no dog and there would be no grotesque display, but if it was illegal to use such a weapon on an animal, why should our government use it on people in Vietnam?"
This is a thread of pictures of amazing sea creatures. @RebeccaRHelm tweeted: "OMG it literally took someone SWIMMING FROM HAWAII TO CALIFORNIA to discover this, but wow did we find something shocking in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch..."
Just watched Picard. Liked the payoff. In related news, have 27 seconds of Hee Haw - The Next Generation.
"Trailer Released For Documentary On Progressive San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin As He Fights Recall Vote: EXCLUSIVE: In the less than a month, reform-minded San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin faces a recall election that could remove him from office. Whether or not the recall vote prevails, Boudin has already made history as the city's first progressive D.A. As the upcoming documentary Beyond Bars: A Son's Fight for Justice explores, Boudin has promoted 'decarceration,' pushed for an end to cash bail, created a unit within his office to investigate dubious convictions, and dared to prosecute a police officer on felony charges of beating a man with a metal baton."
Bill Nighy and others talk about Turning Terry Pratchett's Discworld into Audiobooks.
Talking Heads, live in LA, 1983, "Burning Down the House"