The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Wingnuts Gonna Be Wingnuts

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily halted Kate Cox’s abortion.

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a pregnant woman from obtaining an emergency abortion in a ruling issued late Friday.

The court froze a lower court’s ruling that would have allowed Kate Cox, who sued the state seeking a court-ordered abortion, to obtain the procedure. “Without regard to the merits, the Court administratively stays the district court’s December 7, 2023 order,” the order states.

The court noted the case would remain pending before them but did not include any timeline on when a full ruling might be issued. Cox is 20 weeks pregnant. Her unborn baby was diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition and she says complications in her pregnancy are putting her health at risk.

If the Texas Supreme Court doesn’t decide in Cox’s favor by the middle of next week, she needs to get her ass out of Texas and get an abortion somewhere else. At 20 weeks, she’s got about three weeks to go before the viability threshold. Of course, then she may not be able to return to Texas, as Ken Paxton will probably prosecute her.

Politico points out that Ken Paxton may be sorry he butted in.

Biden’s reelection campaign plans to argue the case is a prime example of the existential threat posed to women’s reproductive rights if Republicans return to power in 2024.

“Ken Paxton is doing a great job of expressing for thousands of women in Texas the horror of having the state in charge of your pregnancy,” said Cecile Richards, the former CEO of Planned Parenthood and current co-chair of Democratic Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century. “These are people’s lives that are at stake, and it’s only going to get worse.”

The campaign on Friday repeatedly highlighted coverage of Paxton’s statement. It also sought to use the legal standoff to target GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, portraying the case as a direct result of the former president’s actions — from appointing three justices to the Supreme Court to backing policies aimed at limiting reproductive rights.

“This story is shocking, it’s horrifying, and it’s heartbreaking — it’s also becoming all too commonplace in America because of Donald Trump,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), a Biden campaign co-chair, said in a statement. “The American people should know that Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans won’t stop here.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can count on the forced birth fanatics to not know when to back off.

In other news: If you missed Chris Hayes on the Biden economy last night, please watch and share, share, share.

Another Outrage from Ken Paxton

The story thus far: Kate Cox is a Texan who very much wants babies. But she’s been going through a terrible pregnancy, with a lot of pain and discharge. And then she found out the fetus has a severe genetic anomaly, Trisomy 18, that’s seriously bad. The infant has little chance of living more than a few hours, and even if it survives longer it will have massive physical and intellectual defects. Plus the pregnancy itself was so problematic and risky that Cox might not be able to have another one. No babies for her.

Texas law does not allow Cox to have an abortion. But instead of traveling to another state, she took Texas to court. And a judge agreed that she needed an abortion.

Siding with the woman, Kate Cox, who argued the procedure is necessary to preserve future fertility and protect her from undergoing a potentially dangerous birth, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said, “The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be pregnant, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking, and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice. So I will be signing the order, and it will be processed and sent out today.”

This is sensible. But this is also Texas.

The utterly corrupt attorney general of Texas threatened to prosecute anyone who helps the plaintiff in the case. Note that last line from his statement: “The TRO will expire long before the statue of limitations for violating Texas’ abortion laws expires.”

Yes this is outrageous. But it’s also revelatory.

For years the abortion criminalization movement has denied that there is ever any medical reason to terminate a pregnancy. They could get away with claiming that until Roe was overturned. Since then there have been a number of news stories about women who nearly died because they were denied an abortion. In Ms. Cox’s case, her life is not at risk but she may not be able to bring another pregnancy to term. And the fetus she carries has no future. So one has to ask what purpose is being served, what great good achieved, by forcing Ms. Cox to continue the pregnancy? There certainly is none that I can see.

The interesting question here is why Ken Paxton was so driven to step in to stop this abortion. Paxton has demonstrated time and time again he is utterly amoral, so this has nothing to do with some abstract moral principle. And it’s not as if Paxton is just giving his constituents what they want. According to a 2022 poll only 15 percent of Texans think all abortion should be banned under all circumstances. Even those who want it to be illegal most of the time are open to a variety of exceptions. This is unlikely to win Paxton any popularity awards, in other words.

I’m concluding that Paxton just gets high on power trips. If you can think of a better explanation, do chime in.

In other Republicans versus morality news, Police have recovered video of Florida GOP chair and alleged victim in rape investigation.

Today’s News Bits

First: Norman Lear (1922-2023) died yesterday.

Second:  It seems Kevin McCarthy is retiring from the House. Just as well. I understand he’s leaving at the end of this year.

Third: Republicans in both the Senate and the House are blocking Ukraine funding.

The White House is seeking nearly $106 billion, but the bill has gotten bogged down in negotiations over border security and because of increasing reluctance from Republican lawmakers to approve significant spending on the Ukraine war. GOP lawmakers are insisting on policy changes to halt the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border as a condition for the assistance.

The latest weapons package will be provided through presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, which pulls weapons from existing U.S. stockpiles and sends them quickly to the war front, said U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aid has not yet been publicly announced.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday there is about $1.1 billion left in funding to replenish U.S. military stockpiles for weapons and equipment sent to Ukraine. And he said there is roughly $4.8 billion in drawdown authority still available.

The entire immigration system needs to be overhauled and streamlined, but that’s something Congress has to do. And Republicans don’t want to do that. This is what Senate Republicans want:

Senate Republicans have released a sweeping set of U.S. border security proposals as a condition for sending more aid to Ukraine, laying out a draft plan to resume construction on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, curtail humanitarian parole for people who cross into the United States and make it more difficult for migrants to qualify for asylum.

As I understand it, the flood of migrants at the southern border is likely to just keep getting bigger and bigger unless conditions in Central America change a lot.

Fourth: About three weeks ago, Speaker Mike Johnson announced he was releasing all of the security footage of January 6. Some of it was released fairly quickly. But yesterday Johnson apologized for not releasing more, saying that faces had to be blurred first so the feds couldn’t identify people.

This is odd, to say the least. One, part of the reason for this exercise was so that Marjorie Taylor Greene could go through the videos and identify all the people who she imagines are federal agents or Antifa or other not-MAGAs who caused all the violence, because the MAGAs were just having a peaceful demonstration.. Two, the feds have had access to these tapes all along. Three, Johnson seems to be aiding and abetting criminal activity here. Hmm. He’s taken it back since, I understand.

But I’m also wondering if his delaying might have to do with videos that show a whole lot more violence than he realized was there, and that it’s obvious it’s MAGAs who are the perpetrators?

Fifth: In case you haven’t heard, Tuberville has mostly ended his block on military propmotions.

Sixth: Jack Smith is preparing to hoist Trump by his own petard.

Seventh: Interesting read — “This Is the Final Compromise”: Donald Trump and the Implosion of the American Evangelical Movement

No More Mister Nice Media?

We seem to be having official “hair on fire” week in news media. The Atlantic is dedicating an entire issue to the disastrous consequences of Trump returning to the White House.

At WaPo, see Robert Kagan, A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.  See also How Donald Trump uses dishonesty by Philip Bump.

The New York Times is more cautious, with Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First by Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan, and Maggie Haberman. But see also Frank Bruni, It’s Not the Economy. It’s the Fascism.

At The Guardian, see A second Trump term will be far more autocratic than the first. He’s telling us. At CNN, see Trump is showing how a second term would rewrite the rules of presidential power.

For the Trump pushback, see Trump, allies fire back at media warnings of second-term dictatorship at The Hill.

This is just a small sampling of articles that have come out in the past week. On top of that there’s Liz Cheney’s book, which I take it is a big warning about Trump. I’m hoping this marks the beginning of some more vigorous coverage of Trump.

Sunday Funnies, Florida Edition

Moms for Liberty has had a rocky few weeks. First off, they were nearly wiped out in the November elections. Then a couple of weeks ago, this happened:

A Republican pastor who coordinates the faith-based outreach for the Philadelphia chapter of Moms for Liberty was convicted a decade ago of sexually abusing a teenage boy.

Phillip Fisher Jr., who leads the Center of Universal Divinity in Olney, helps connect the right-wing group with local faith leaders to boost membership, and other leaders say they’re shocked to learn he pleaded guilty in 2012 to a felony count of aggravated sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy when he was 25, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.

There’s even a Lyndon LaRouche connection. But it gets better. You’ve probably heard about what went on in Florida

Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler’s admission to having a sexual relationship with the woman accusing her husband of rape has sparked backlash online Saturday, with many labeling the Florida political leader a hypocrite.

A hypocite? You don’t say!

Christian Ziegler and his attorney have denied any wrongdoing on his part, but security footage obtained from the victim’s apartment has shown that he was at the building on the date of the alleged assault. Admissions to law enforcement from his wife have also complicated the matter.

As revealed in recently released court documents, Bridget Ziegler was interviewed by investigators in early November, confirming that she, her husband, and the victim had been friends and had engaged in a consensual sexual encounter roughly a year prior to the assault that the victim now alleges.

When this was first reported I decided to not comment on it until there was some corroboration. Well, there it is.

At the Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago asks, If Moms for Liberty co-founder had sex with a woman, why is she targeting Florida’s gays? Well, one does wonder, doesn’t one?

The Zieglers were considered a quickly rising power couple — close collaborators of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and also supporters of ex-President Donald Trump. But while he talked tough and boisterously, she seemed to be the real the mover and shaker. The group she co-founded in the name of “parental rights” — credited with banning school books featuring gay characters and Blacks confronting discrimination in a predominantly white society — has spread nationwide at a vertiginous rate: 300 chapters in 48 states in two years. …

… DeSantis not only endorsed Bridget Ziegler’s school board candidacy, but he gave her a seat on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors. This is the agency formed after the dispute with Disney World over its corporate criticism of the “Don’t Say Gay” law banning sexual-identity discussion in schools and following the termination of Disney’s Reedy Creek special taxing district operational agreement with the state.

It couldn’t get any better if I’d made it up. And be sure to visit Bridget Zeigler’s school board campaign website before it gets taken down. She won re-election to the Sarasota School Board in 2022. Now the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is calling for her to go away.

Imagine you are the child of a gay or lesbian couple, and that you are not permitted to acknowledge your family in school. It is cruel and serves no purpose other than cruelty.

Ziegler’s treatment of trans people is equally cruel.

Ziegler spearheaded the forced resignation of Brennan Asplen despite the former superintendent’s “highly effective” rating and excellent leadership of the schools through the pandemic. This wasted precious financial resources and time better spent on real issues. It did not benefit the school system.

As the School Board chair, Ziegler allowed commenters at board meetings to mock and target Tom Edwards, who is an effective leader, because he is gay.

It was unconscionable.

Unconscionable is kind of the point, I think. It gets you on Fox News.

While we’re in Florida: Tt seems the last refuge of failing Republican presidential candidates is to rip Obamacare. Now it’s Ron DeSantis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would replace Obamacare with a “better plan” — part of an interview in which he criticized former President Donald Trump for failing to deliver on numerous policy promises during his term in the White House, including frequent pledges to replace the health care law.

“Obamacare hasn’t worked,” DeSantis said in the interview with moderator Kristen Welker, which aired Sunday morning. “We are going to replace and supersede with a better plan.”

He declined to provide details about how his plan would “supersede” Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, adding that his campaign would most likely roll out a proposal in the spring.

Of course, he doesn’t have a proposal yet. He’s just reacting to Trump’s recent stupid remark about replacing Obamacare. The GOP had shut up about it in recent years. So we’ll see if DeSantis comes up with anything other than the Standard GOP Health Care Plan That Won’t Work.

Today’s News Bits (Updated)

So far today: George Santos has been expelled. An appeals court ruled that Trump can be sued for inciting the January 6 riot. And Sandra Day O’Connor died.

Yesterday we learned that Israel had been sitting on Hamas’s October 7 plan (although they didn’t know the date) for over a year but wasn’t taking it seriously. I liked this part:

Then, in July, just three months before the attacks, a veteran analyst with Unit 8200, Israel’s signals intelligence agency, warned that Hamas had conducted an intense, daylong training exercise that appeared similar to what was outlined in the blueprint.

But a colonel in the Gaza division brushed off her concerns, according to encrypted emails viewed by The Times.

“I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary,” the analyst wrote in the email exchanges. The Hamas training exercise, she said, fully matched “the content of Jericho Wall.”

“It is a plan designed to start a war,” she added. “It’s not just a raid on a village.”

Sounds like.  If only a man had been the one to report this, huh? Maybe lives would have been saved. And I’m a bit surprised I haven’t heard anything about “October 7 Truth” claiming that Benjamin Netanyahu planned the whole thing so he could bomb Gaza. Give it time.

Anyway, today Israel predictably called off the “pause” and started bombing Gaza again.  Gotta move that story about the botched intelligence off the front page.

Yesterday an appeals court reinstated Judge Engoron’s gag order in the New York finance fraud trial. Trump responded by posting lies about Judge Engoron’s wife. She is not covered in the gag order, although she probably should be. I hope she’s keeping safe.

Oh, and this: “Donald Trump has shared a post on his Truth Social website, calling for Capitol Police officers who ‘beat the hell out of innocent J6 [January 6] protesters’ to face criminal charges.”

For fun: Yahoo News compares Melania Trump’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s White House Christmas decorations. The Biden theme is “definitely less ‘human sacrifice’ and more ‘holiday joy.'”

Liz Cheney’s book will be released December 5. Lots of advance copies are in circulation already, so quotes are turning up in the news. My favorite so far:

As the House went into lockdown on January 6, “Jim Jordan approached me,” Cheney writes, saying, “We need to get the ladies off the aisle,” and, extending his hand, told her, “Let me help you.” To which Cheney responded “Get away from me. You f—ing did this.”

More could yet happen today. We’ll see.

Update: Here we go.

A federal judge on Friday rejected claims by former President Donald J. Trump that he enjoyed absolute immunity from criminal charges accusing him of seeking to reverse the 2020 election, slapping down his argument that the indictment should be tossed out because it was based on actions he took while he was in office.

The ruling by the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, was her first denying one of Mr. Trump’s many motions to dismiss the election interference case, which is set to go trial in Federal District Court in Washington in about three months.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had expected the immunity motion to fail. They have been planning for weeks to use the defeat to begin a Hail Mary strategy to put off the impending trial. They intend to appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if they can, hoping that even if they eventually lose, their challenges will eat up time and keep the case from going in front of a jury until after the 2024 election.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed their immunity claims in October in a set of breathtaking court papers that maintained he could not be held accountable for any official actions he took as president, even after a grand jury had returned a four-count criminal indictment against him.

News Bits du Jour

First, business — I am starting another mini-fundraiser to keep me going a bit longer here. Still struggling, but I think 2024 could be a bit better. Here is the Go Fund Me link. The “donate” button at the top of the right-hand column is connected to PayPal.

Also, I have not heard from gulag and have not received any response from my emails to him. His last comment was November 13. All we can do is hope.

Now, politics. ABC News has a report on what Mike Pence told Jack Smith’s crew about January 6. There are no bombshells, but it’s an interesting read. Pence remains someone who is hard to pin down. Even now he seems to want to be known for his loyalty to Trump while at the same time he is (understandably) separating himself from Trump’s attempt at a coup. He blames Trump’s “outside” lawyers, like Giuliani and Powell, for misleading Trump about the election results. He still can’t admit to Trump’s craven dishonesty and inability to face facts he doesn’t like.

The Koch Network has endorsed Nikki Haley for the GOP presidential nomination. Now we’ll see if the Koch Network has any clout with the base; I’m guessing not. But this could help boost Haley’s campaign fundraising quite a bit. She seems to be the one the Old Guard and what’s left of the “normies” are rallying around, now that they’ve gotten to know Ron DeSantis. But see Paul Krugman, “Nikki Haley Is Coming for Your Retirement.” She wants to bleep up Social Security, basically.

Trump, meanwhile, finally has said something about policy. Which is that he wants to replace Obamacare. He said,

“The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it’s not good Healthcare. I’m seriously looking at alternatives,” he wrote. “We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for 6 years against it, and then raised their hands not to terminate it. It was a low point for the Republican Party, but we should never give up!”

He seems not to remember that the reason killing Obamacare failed to pass is that there was nothing to replace it. And as far as Republicans are concerned, there still isn’t. And there never will be. And the Biden campaign is already reminding everyone about preexisting conditions.

Why Fascism Won’t Go Away

Here’s a sobering thought from David Kurtz at TPM:

By the time we sit down for turkey again next year, Donald Trump may be the president-elect for a second time. That persistent thought soured my holiday like spoiled deviled eggs. If this was the last Thanksgiving before the end of democracy as we know it, I hope you made it a good one.

In the last post I linked to Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair, Trump’s Attacks On Judge and Law Clerk Triggers “Hundreds” Of Threats: Report. David Kurtz adds,

Trump’s rhetorical attack on Thanksgiving came the day after a new revelation about the consequences of those kinds of attacks. The judge in the New York fraud case against him defended his gag order in a filing that revealed that he and his law clerk had received hundreds of credible threats in response to Trump’s attack. Among other things, the law clerk’s cell phone number and personal email address have been compromised.

Yet, somehow, the gag orders keep getting lifted, and the courts are taking their sweet time deciding whether to reinstate them. It’s as if the ambulance picks up a guy having a heart attack and then stops for doughnuts on the way to the hospital. Does one of Trump’s targets have to get killed to light a fire under some people?

Last night I finished reading Rachel Maddow’s book Prequel. You. must. read. this. There was much I did not know, although little of it was surprising. The one element I didn’t expect is that this massive plot that originated with the Third Reich to overthrow the U.S. government and replace it with a pro-German fascist state, for which the Department of Justice had tons of evidence clearly showing even some members of Congress were in on it, all got swept under the rug and the evidence classified after the War. So the corrupt thugs who took Hitler’s money and did Hitler’s bidding even as U.S. troops were fighting in Europe all got off without penalties. Because people were ready to move on, or something.

What was fueling a lot of the pro-Hitler sentiment in the U.S. was, of course, racism and antisemitism. Lots of people were ready to sell out the Constitution and democracy so they could deport — or worse — nonwhite people and Jews. Some things don’t change.  And if they’d had Fox News back then, they might have succeeded.

(What screwed Hitler’s plans more than anything else was Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, which I understand he did not know about until it happened. For years he had spent considerable effort and money to ensure that the U.S. stayed out of his wars in Europe. December 7, 1941, swept all that away. Even then Hitler might not have declared war except that his invasion of the Soviet Union had stalled, and he persuaded himself that Japan would keep the United States busy in the Pacific, and that Japanese threats to Britain’s Asian colonies would weaken Britain.)

A lot of these American fascists were thugs who might as well have been wearing MAGA hats. They would have (and possibly did) murder their fellow Americans for the sake of the Cause. The rule of law meant nothing to them. And hardly anybody in the U.S. got the full story of the sedition, and now here we are again on the edge of a neo-fascist takeover.

Trump isn’t at all shy about letting the world know what he intends to do in a second term. See Donald Moynihan, Trump Has a Master Plan for Destroying the ‘Deep State’ at the New York Times. No paywall. If we as a nation survive this, no more moving on. There must be full public disclosure and justice this time.

Note: We haven’t heard from gulag in a few days. Yesterday I sent him an email and also an ecard (I will get a notice if it is opened), but I haven’t received a response. I will let you know if I do.