Guns and Pills and Smirking White Men

What a week we’re having. First, let’s look at last night’s abortion pill decision. Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate:

On Friday evening, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas issued an unprecedented decision withdrawing the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, the first drug used in medication abortion, 23 years after it was first approved. His order, which applies nationwide, marks the first time in history that a court has claimed the authority to single-handedly pull a drug from the market, a power that courts do not, in fact, have. Kacsmaryk’s ruling is indefensible from top to bottom and will go down in history as one of the judiciary’s most shocking and lawless moments. It goes even further than expected, raising the possibility that he will impose “fetal personhood,” which holds that every state must ban abortion because it murders a human. Within an hour of its release, the decision also spurred the start of a constitutional crisis: A federal judge in Washington swiftly issued a dueling injunction compelling the FDA to continue allowing mifepristone in 17 states and District of Columbia, which brought a separate suit in Washington.

Kacsmaryk stayed his decision for one week to let the Biden administration appeal, but his ruling stands a good chance of being upheld at the radically conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If his order takes effect, the FDA will be faced with competing, mutually exclusive court orders requiring the agency to simultaneously suspend mifepristone nationwide and preserve access to the drug in 18 blue jurisdictions. The agency cannot comply with both orders at once. And because Kacsmaryk’s is broader, covering all 50 states, it guarantees that mifepristone will be suspended in much of the country. Only the Supreme Court can resolve this looming crisis, and it has a very limited window of time in which to do so. It has been less than a year since the court claimed to rid itself of the abortion issue. Now it must decide whether American patients will lose access to an abortion drug that has been on the market for 23 years and proven safer than Tylenol—on the order of a single, rogue judge.

It is probably impossible to count how many errors, exaggerations, and lies Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee, put in his decision. The judge appears to have largely copied and pasted the briefs filed by the anti-abortion group that filed the suit, the Alliance Defending Freedom, rephrasing their arguments as his own analysis. (This was predictable—Kacsmaryk himself is a staunch anti-abortion activist—and might be why ADF handpicked him specifically to hear the case for them.) His decision repeats the ridiculous and objectively false conspiracy theory about mifepristone—that the FDA illegally rushed its approval in 2000 at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, the pharmaceutical industry, and population control advocates. Kacsmaryk flyspecked the FDA’s assessment of the drug, concluding that its studies were insufficient and that the agency “acquiesced to the pressure to increase access to chemical abortion at the expense of women’s safety.” And he claimed that he had authority to revisit an FDA approval that occurred 23 years ago because the agency happens to have changed rules around the dispensation of the drug several times since.

It’s likely mifepristone will become unavailable for at least a while, which should certainly cause the backlash to the Dobbs decision to grow even stronger. The forced birth zealots cannot help themselves, however. And if a judge can just magically overrule the FDA for pretend reasons, just imagine the wingnut judges who will try to outlaw birth control pills and covid vaccines.

Jill Filipovic:

But the big takeaway from the radical and unprecedented decision to ban Mifepristone is this: The anti-abortion movement has always been an anti-democratic and authoritarian movement, and that authoritarianism has taken over the Republican Party and the far-right judiciary. This decision was not about life or women’s health or drug regulation or even the law (it really, really wasn’t about the law). It was a simple assertion of dominance, a clear statement that the right will stop at absolutely nothing – including the outer bounds of American law – to force women into compliance.

It is entirely about control.

And this is just a preview of what’s to come.

Jessica Valenti:

I could write about how this decision lays bare the lie of ‘states’ rights’, or how a singular activist judge being able to wave away decades of science and progress is a sign of our decaying democracy. I could write out the ways that the FDA could respond, or what the Biden administration should say and do. But others will do a better job of all that. Besides, that’s not at all what’s on my mind. 

What’s weighing on me—almost literally, my head and body feel heavy—is the look on my 12 year-old daughter’s face each and every time I have to tell her another piece of bad news about women. But it’s not just her face I keep seeing. It’s the looks on the faces of the men who are ruining us. 

Donald Trump. Brett Kavanaugh. Matthew Kacsmaryk. Smug and assured, ignorant and shameless. Somehow we’ve ended up with the dregs of humanity robbing us of our own.

And this:

What makes this all so much worse is that men like these actually do think they know better than we do. In spite of their absolute mediocrity and near-unbelievable idiocy, these men truly believe they are the ones best suited to make decisions about our bodies and futures. 

Kacsmaryk, with his self-satisfied smirk and Proud Boy haircut, is just the latest in a long line of men brimming with misogyny and undeserved power. Men like him have existed forever and they continue to be everywhere. 

Hmm, self-satisfied smirk. What does that remind me of? How about Tennessee state representative Andrew Farmer talking down to representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson? He might as well have just said “I’m the White Man and I’m telling you Black boys how you need to behave.”

As Elie Mystal said on MSNBC a couple of nights ago, “Tennessee is giving a more abject lesson in Critical Race Theory than any AP History course possibly could.”

Basically, Republicans have been boiled down to their core of privileged White men who believe they are entitled to control the rest of us. And they aren’t going to change. The only way the Party can change is if its current membership is replaced, somehow. Don’t tell them I said that, though; it’ll trigger their Great Replacement Theory fears.

The New York Times is reporting that Jones and Pearson might be reinstated soon, possibly as early as next week. There appears to be strong support in their districts for returning them, and not waiting around for a special election. The expulsion of these representatives appear to be part of a pattern of the mostly white legislature picking on largely black cities. For example, “Nashville sued the state last month over a law that would slash by half the size of the council, which governs Nashville and Davidson County.”

There are also reports that the White Men in the state capitol have threatened to take funding away from projects in the Memphis area if Justin Pearson is returned to the legislature.

But make no mistake, the expulsion of two Black men from the Tennessee legislature and the mifepristone ruling from the smirking Judge Kacsmaryk are coming from the same place.

And the fallout from the revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas continues. I don’t think there’s any way to touch Thomas short of impeachment and removal, which is not going to happen in the current Congress. But, again, this episode does hand a lot of political capital to the people who want to make changes to the Court. And the current Congress won’t last forever.

14 thoughts on “Guns and Pills and Smirking White Men

  1. This seems like a textbook example of the wingnut strategy to kick a case directly up to the Supreme Court. They specifically chose Kacsmaryk, and specifically chose the conservative court where any appeals would first appear. The goal is to get the issue before the Supremes and let them declare it the law of the land.

    It's like watching a well-thought-out play in football begin to unfold.

    • Agreed. The TX judge thinks he presented the Supreme Court with a prize, like a cat bringing a dead (or near-dead) mouse to his mistress. I suspect with about as much delight. The Supremes are screwed any way they go and I don't see that they can split the difference.

    • Not a lawyer but I don't see how this judge making such a ruling in light of his own intense partiality is not a violation of judicial ethics.  No doubt smarter minds than mine may be pondering that.

  2. You know, and I know, and even they themselves know, that their "Great Replacement Theory" is a wholly concocted myth.

    This myth is based on the pure, naked terror that strikes White conservative men – but not ALL White males – when they think that there might be someone out there who may even dare to contemplate that their entitled White male selves could possibly be replaced!

     "Why, it's almost unthinkable!  ME!?!  REPLACED!!!  Why, then I might have to contemplate my own obsolescence…  My own deat…  NO!

    "HA!!!  NO!!  NOT ME!!!  I'm irreplaceable!!!!  (Or I should be!). So go ahead!  Even think about replacing me!  YOU'LL BE SORRY!…

    "Why would anyone want to?"

    (Shudders) I'm afraid… There actually might be someone out there who thinks that they could replace me with someone who's not an entitled White male like me.

    "'They' don't dare think a woman can do this job, right?!?

    "And…  OH NO!!!

    "And absolutely NO ONE should even dare think that a "colored" could do my job!  NO SIREE!!!"

    But as if the fear of being replaced by someone unlike them wasn't bad enough, the very worst part of that terror is asking yourself:

    "And what if that someone who replaces me is better?  Or smarter?  Or…  Both…"

    That fear of being exposed as "nothing special" – or, horrors! – even "average," is what's behind this "Great Replacement Theory." 

    And for some of them thar dolts, "average" is probably unobtainable.

    Or at least not for a few generations.

  3. This connects pretty directly with the previous post. They are cornered and wounded and dangerous. As I indicated yesterday, I won't bet either way about how the USSC will rule on this. I suspect the court has been dismayed at the reaction of the plebes – acting like a woman has autonomy over her reproductive anatomy. 

    IF… and I say "if" the Supremes realize that this has and will continue to cost Republicans elections, diminishing their conservative power, they will rule that the judge in Texas was WAY out of his lane in his ruling. This won't please the fetus people but the alternative will federally ban abortion in all 50 states. Their previous ruling made the issue a choice for each state – that was their argument for striking down Roe. 

    Old folks like me learned in history that voters who liked FDR disapproved when he moved to pack the US Supreme Court after the court struck down part of the New Deal. It's generally held (and usually true) that it's politically unpopular for the executive and legislative branches to mess with the structure of the judiciary to achieve political ends. This may be the exception.

    Women are not gonna wait fifty years for the makeup of the Supremes to change enough so they finally have autonomy. I looked for a more forceful word than 'autonomy' and can't find one that suggests control and independence over your own flesh and blood. If the US Supreme Court upholds the TX ruling, the wave will build to pack the court – NOW! That's my prediction. Democrats will need a majority in the House and Senate. The filibuster will have to be suspended. Congress will have to pass the law and we need a president who will sign it. (I'm not sure Joe will.) 

    To return to the "wounded and dangerous" theme, we are seeing moves that look desperate to me. I think Trump is screwed and he knows it. TN was lashing out blindly – it was instinctual, not rational. The fetus people aren't operating strategically – the smart move would be to take Roe, shut up until it's established and try to leverage a little more later. They're in complete denial of the backlash they are creating and the fact that it's building, not diminishing. 

    The next ass-whippin' starts in a week with the Fox trial. 

  4. It was a simple assertion of dominance …

    Ones & zeros: bullying, the only way to stop a bully is bust his or her nose

    We keep turning the other cheek …

  5. In Montana, they are changing the rules for one office for one election only to try to get Testor's seat. They're gonna make it impossible for the libertarian to make the general election to siphon off the libertarian vote.

    In FL they are changing the rules to make it impossible for teachers unions to collect dues thru paycheck deductions. But only teachers – not fireman and police unions. (Who typically vote R) 

    This is cheating in the open – Trumpian style. Calvinbsll – you never play with the seme rules twice. There's no pretense of being even-handed. We're gonna do it because they can where they can. And Democrats are going to sweat bullets about the morality of packing the court or ending the filibuster? 

  6. ABC nightly news spent 117 seconds on the mass shooting in Louisville, Next!

    Saw this quote from some RWNJ media star Charlie Kirk:  "We must be honest with the population. Having an armed citizenry comes with a price, and that is part of liberty. Driving comes with a price — 50,000, 50,000, 50,000 people die on the road every year. That's a price. You get rid of driving, you'd have 50,000 less auto fatalities. But we have decided that the benefit of driving — speed, accessibility, mobility, having products, services is worth the cost of 50,000 people dying on the road."

    Someone needs to sit his ignorant ass down and explain the difference between the words accident and murder?

  7. some fighting news from the left coast

    As you surely heard by now, late Friday night an extremist Texas judge sought to block access to a commonly used abortion pill called Mifepristone.

    The pill was approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, is safe, and is widely considered part of the standard of care for women seeking an abortion.

    The ruling by a single judge to pull back that FDA approval and potentially remove the drug from pharmacy shelves puts the health of millions of women and girls at risk.

    But I want you to know this: we have proactively prepared for this decision in California.

    As a state, and in preparation for this potential ruling, California secured an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of Misoprostol, a safe and effective medication abortion drug that can be used on its own to induce an abortion.

    250,000 of those pills have already arrived in California through CalRx and pharmacies facing shortages can get in touch with us to find out how to access the stockpile.

    We took this step to ensure there is no interruption in care for women in California seeking the care they need.

    I also want you to know that we have shared the negotiated terms of this purchase to help other states secure the pill at a low cost.

    As right-wing attacks on fundamental freedoms continue to rise, California is going to fight like hell to protect these essential health services. We will never cave to extremists seeking to harm or divide our country and target women.

    Gavin Newsom

  8. Evidently 400 CEOs are realizing this will hurt their bottom lines.

    Can get new drugs approved,can't keep old ones approved, can't get mRNA vaccines thru or keep old ones, can't inspect food and it rolls on to EPA IRS etcetc

    So when bidness can't make money will they please stop funding the fundies pleas…

    This bill enshrines blastocist rights over every thing else and creates a legal clusterfuck.

    Also creates a zero standing precedent and the instituting of theocracy


    So look at Tennessee Montana Mississippi Georgia for the outlawing of Dem politicians DAs etc. One party rule games everywhere.

    • "So when bidness can't make money will they please stop funding the fundies pleas…"

      They may cost big Pharma but they sure make the Arms industry a pant load of money. Did you know that most hedge funds, IRA's, 401K's are heavily invested in the civilian arms industry? Maybe that's why msnbc, cnn, abc, cbs, nbc every last one of them referred to yesterday's shooter's weapon as a "rifle". Not an assault rifle, not a semi-auto military style, not and AR, every last one of them said he was armed with a rifle. My first gun was a single shot bolt action "rifle", got it when I was a kid. It would have taken an hour to fire as many rounds as that asshole fired yesterday in 2 minutes.

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