Air Date 9-18-2021
[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at the new Texas abortion restrictions and the response from the Supreme court, along with lots of contextualizing commentary taking us back to the Fugitive Slave Act and all the true to the strain of patriarchal white terrorism that is at the core of the current conservative movement.
Clips today are from CounterSpin, Amicus, The Takeaway, the Thom Hartmann Program, and the Gaslit Nation.
Marjorie Cohn on Texas Abortion Law, Kimberly Inez McGuire on Abortion Realities Part 1 - Counterspin - Air Date 9-10-21
[00:00:30] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, I'd like to ask you first about Senate Bill 8 or the Texas Heartbeat Act itself. How does deputizing and incentivizing people to sue anyone they believe aided and abetted an abortion, how is that different than a ban on those abortions? What's the legal maneuvering going on here? It's clearly strategic.
[00:01:03] MARJORIE COHN: It is strategic, Janine, because generally statutes provide for causes of action in court to be brought by the government. But then people can sue the government. And so in order to get around that, what this Texas SB 8 is doing is to deputize private people to act as vigilantes and sue abortion providers and those who aid and abet them.
Now that could include doctors, nurses, friends, spouses, parents, domestic violence counselors, clergy members, Uber drivers, Lyft drivers. They don't even have to know that they are helping a woman to get an abortion. As long as an Uber driver knows that he is driving a car and dropping off a woman somewhere. So it's really broad.
And what it does is to put a $10,000 bounty plus attorney's fees on any of these aiders and abettors. And so what Texas is doing in effect is bribing its residents to sue people who help women get abortions.
[00:02:16] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, I was several articles deep before I learned that the woman seeking an abortion can't be sued. So it really is about the support networks, the very people who have been addressing the fact that women have had a right to abortion without access to abortion. It's really, there's something especially devious and scary about it.
[00:02:45] MARJORIE COHN: It's insidious because now women in Texas who can afford to travel, say to California, to get a safe abortion, will be able to do that.
But poor women, undocumented women in rural Texas, people of color in Texas will have to resort to life-threatening back alley coat hanger abortions once again, as before Roe v Wade. And there is another law that people are not talking about. That is called SB 4, Senate Bill 4 in Texas, which specifically targets medication abortions. Because 60% of early term abortion, people who want abortions, choose to take a pill rather than have surgery. And what SB 4 does, this is actually a criminal statute, creates a felony for providers who prescribe medication abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy, basically double banning abortions in the state.
And it also bans abortion-inducing pills from being mailed into Texas. The FDA has approved two drugs for non-surgical abortions and their guidelines, their 2016 guidelines of the FDA allows practitioners to provide Mifepristone and Misoprostol up to 10 weeks gestation. And so SB4 would actually punish someone with a criminal law, state criminal law, for prescribing any of these medications.
[00:04:25] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Well, besides the obvious spur and incentive to vigilantism, the lawmakers have somehow absented themselves from being responsible for the laws they make. There's a thing where somehow the folks who made these laws or might enforce them, somehow they've taken themselves out of the equation. What is going on there with lawmakers, saying you can't come back to us when this is problematic?
[00:04:53] MARJORIE COHN: Right. They've had some clever lawyers trying to craft this law in a way that is not going to be successfully challenged in the courts. Now, interestingly, as we're speaking, the Department of Justice, Merrick Garland, the attorney general, who should have been on the Supreme Court actually, and we wouldn't even be talking about this case right now in all likelihood. But the Justice Department sued the state of Texas to block this Senate Bill 8. And they are arguing that the law is invalid under the supremacy clause, the 14th amendment, it is preempted by federal law, it violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity, and the U S government has an obligation to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights. Now this lawsuit has just been filed as we speak. And so we'll see what the courts do with it.
Also, on the 3rd of September, two days after the five person, right wing majority of the Supreme Court allowed Texas' SB 8 to go into effect, with no lower courts weighing in, without briefing, without oral arguments. Two days later, a judge in Austin, Texas issued a temporary restraining order in favor of Planned Parenthood and against the Texas Right to Life organization. And it just affects Planned Parenthood and Texas Right to Life. On September 13th, there will be a hearing on a preliminary injunction. And also this Texas Right to Life -- and I say "so-called" because right to life is really a misnomer. And many of these people I'm afraid are very concerned with the life of the fetus, not so much with the life of the mother, although there is an exception in SB 8 if a woman's health or life is at stake. If the mother needs prenatal care, if the baby's born and needs medical care, health, insurance, education, that's socialism. Forget about the right to life. So back to this other development, which is the Texas Right to Life, they had to close their website after their host GoDaddy said that it violated the terms of service. In other words, they were collecting information on someone without their consent. So there is pushback.
Now there are lawsuits, and I think we're going to see a proliferation of lawsuits, Janine, as well there should be. And keep in mind that the five-person, right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, and this excludes Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted with the liberals. He was upset that they didn't even rule on the constitutionality of it. They just let the law go into effect. The five-person right-wing majority with no briefing, with no oral argument, without seeing what the district court and the court of appeals would do with it. But they did let it go into effect, which is wreaking havoc. Women are freaking out. And so our abortion providers and families and everyone else in Texas.
But what this does is to give us a pretty strong indication that when the Supreme court reconvenes for their new term in October, and they take up the case of Dobbs versus Jackson Women's Health Organization, which is a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, that this right-wing majority of the Supreme Court may well overturn Roe vs. Wade. And if that happens, you're going to see these state laws, particularly in red states, proliferate. You're going to see women being charged with crimes for having an abortion. And this is very disturbing.
But Donald Trump's installation of three radical right-wing justices, and I use "justices" advisedly, is paying off. He said he was going to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. And it looks unfortunately, and tragically, like that's the direction they're headed.
Abortion, Surveillance, and Vigilantism An American Story Part 1 Fugative Slave Act - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:09:11] DAHLIA LITCHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: You wrote in Ms. Magazine that this kind of citizen Attorney General vigilante law has a long and pretty sordid history that harkens back to the Fugitive slave Act. Can you talk a little bit about the ways in which this really chimes in the key of some very ugly American history?
[00:09:33] MICHELLE GOODWIN: Yes, this does hark back to some very dark American history. And dark American history that has been supported through the United States Supreme court.
So, the Fugitive Slave Acts provided for citizen participation in the establishment, the furthering, the preservation, of American slavery. It weaponized the citizenry, deputized citizens to surveil, to stalk, to apprehend people, who were in violation of U. S. Laws by escaping themselves out of slavery-- out of an inhumane situation.
And there were bounties that were provided for their success and surveiling and successfully apprehending, obtaining individuals, who dared to exercise liberty, autonomy, and freedom.
And when you think about this Texas law, there are certain analogs that eerily resemble that of the Fugitive Slave Act, in that it provides for a right-of-action of private citizens; it provides for financial renumeration of those citizens who are able to successfully peg someone who has "aided or abetted" an individual in obtaining an abortion.
And what this means, with the law written in such broad terms, that this could implicate the Uber driver, the Lyft driver, the bus driver, or the receptionist that works at an abortion clinic; virtually anybody who has been in the way of the path of a person exercising the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
What's interesting about the law, Dahlia, is that, after Roe v. Wade, there was Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And what comes out of there is that there should be no obstacle placed in the path of a woman in terminating a pregnancy.
And Texas has flipped that on its head;, which instead, you may sue anybody who aids and a person on the path of terminating a pregnancy.
It is a very dangerous law and it is very dangerous and alarming. What has happened at the Supreme Court.
Marjorie Cohn on Texas Abortion Law, Kimberly Inez McGuire on Abortion Realities Part 2 - Counterspin - Air Date 9-10-21
[00:12:04] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: In January, 2021, CounterSpin spoke with Kimberly Inez Mcguire, executive director of the group URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity. We asked her first about how courts have reaffirmed Roe time and again, but that still didn't get at the layers and layers between what the court says women can legally do and what they can actually do.
[00:12:36] KIMBERLY INEZ MCGUIRE: The Gulf between the theoretical legality of abortion in this country and the lived experience of people trying to get an abortion is wide and getting wider. And so much of the restrictions on abortion are rendered invisible because they only appear based on who you are, where you live and frankly, how much money you have in the bank.
So when we look at the layers upon layers, we go back to the Hyde amendment, which is older than I am. And it's a federal policy that prevents Medicaid from covering abortion. And it was passed in short order after the Roe v Wade decision.
And so what happened was the Supreme Court said abortion's legal. Folks rejoiced, right? This was a big deal. And almost immediately thereafter the door was closed on any low income woman who gets her insurance through Medicaid. And so for decades, if you are using Medicaid as your insurance, abortion access is not real to you.
We then have seen since 2010, this newer tsunami of abortion restrictions, literally hundreds and hundreds of new abortion laws passed in almost every state in the country. There's a handful of states that have held the line, but all over the country, we are seeing restrictions on who can get an abortion, where they can get an abortion, restrictions designed to shut down clinics, restrictions targeting young people, right? And this has created a labyrinth for anyone who's just trying to navigate getting basic health care.
And so again, we have this sort of legal fiction of Roe that says abortion is legal, but if you can't afford it, if you are young and can't get your parents to sign off on your decision, if there's not a clinic in your neighborhood, if the clinic in your neighborhood has been shut down by a state legislature that was targeting them, all of these things can become insurmountable barriers in the real life experience of trying to end it their pregnancy.
[00:14:40] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973 and there was Hyde amendment in 1976. And it's important I think to remember that Henry Hyde, the Republican congressmen from Illinois and the supporters of the amendment were very clear that they wanted to make abortion unavailable for all women, but it was only women receiving Medicaid that they had power over.
Getting rid of the Hyde amendment. It's not permanent law. It can be eliminated. That's one concrete action that president-elect Biden could take right now.
[00:15:13] KIMBERLY INEZ MCGUIRE: We are hopeful, but cautious. As many folks know president Biden has had a somewhat public evolution on the Hyde amendment,
[00:15:21] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Right.
[00:15:21] KIMBERLY INEZ MCGUIRE: where after, frankly, the outcries, nationwide outcries during the campaign, he then made clear that he would be committed to ending the Hyde amendment. So we're grateful that he took that position publicly, but we also are really clear that accountability is going to be necessary to make sure that promise is kept.
And we have seen a few statements from the administration so far around the topic of abortion. They frankly have not gone far enough. The Biden administration statement on the Roe anniversary, in addition to not actually using the word "abortion," which is concerning in and of itself, did not make clear a commitment to ending the racist Hyde amendment, which, as you pointed to, with the pro-abortion-rights majority in the House and the Senate with the White House, there is no reason that Hyde or any a coverage ban should appear in the next round of federal budget.
So now is the time for the lawmakers, the president, and those in Congress who have said that they oppose, they've got the power now. And people across the country are watching to see how they use that power.
[00:16:31] JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: I just want to add that Heart just did some research, significant majority, 62% of voters favor Medicaid coverage of abortion services as against a 38% opposed. There's majority support among men, women, all age groups, all education levels.
Words are powerful. It does matter that Biden, didn't use the word "abortion" in his statement on the Roe anniversary. And framing is powerful, which is why I appreciate the way that you and URGE and others describe legal abortion as the floor, not the ceiling, as part of that expansive understanding of reproductive justice.
Can you talk a little bit about how we talk about abortion and why it matters? What are you trying to do with that "floor, not the ceiling" phrase?
[00:17:15] KIMBERLY INEZ MCGUIRE: Absolutely. So I think there's a few key pieces here. One is about how we show respect to people who have had abortions. And first and foremost, those who have had abortions deserve the dignity of recognition. We need to use the word "abortion." We need to talk about abortion as necessary healthcare and as a social good. Anything less honestly, disregards and disrespects the one in four women in this country who have sought out this health care. So that's the first piece is just saying the word "abortion." It's not a bad word. It's a word that's saved people's lives and help shape better futures.
The other piece around "the floor, not the ceiling" is for people with economic resources, what is a legal right on paper has so much more meaning than for people who are blocked because of economic barriers, because of racial barriers.
So we look at something like abortion access even before Roe v Wade, when abortion was illegal across large swaths of the country. The reality is that women of means have always been able to get abortions. That has always been the reality for people with money.
The vision for reproductive justice is not just, you have a theoretical right to abortion if you can fight your way through all of the muck and the restrictions. But reproductive justice means that if you've decided to end a pregnancy, you can do so safely with dignity, without offending your family's economic security, and without being subjected to, frankly, misogynous hate speech and stigma.
Abortion, Surveillance, and Vigilantism An American Story Part 2 Distain for life of the pregnant - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:18:49] MICHELLE GOODWIN: This is a complete disregard, as well, for the health and safety of the people who are most affected by this. Let's remember that, in 2016, in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, Justice Breyer observed-- and this was based on a robust, empirical record from the district court, and from science and evidence through empirical research-- that a person is 14 times more likely to die nationwide in the United States by carrying a pregnancy to term than by terminating it.
Now, let's add what that looks like in Texas, where the maternal mortality rate is considered amongst the worst, not just in the United States, but in the entire developed world. And then let's add on the layer of race to this too, because nationwide a Black woman is three and a half times more likely to die than White women who carry pregnancies to term.
But what we look at Texas, and certain counties in districts in Texas, those percentages dramatically multiply. So, in many ways it is not extreme to say at all that for some women, there was already a death sentence by coercive means, of forcing them to carry pregnancies to term that they did not want and that were dangerous to their health.
What Texas has shown now is a complete disregard for that. And let's be clear, the statistics on maternal mortality coming out of Texas are coming out of the Texas Department of Health and Safety. These are not ones that are being made up by pro-choice groups or anything else. This is Texas's old data about how deadly it is to be in Texas and to be pregnant.
And the data from that is, actually, sadly, not much different than the infant mortality rate in Texas. It would be great if the Texas legislature prioritized attention to that. The fact that they don't reveals an incredible disdain for the lives of the people who can become pregnant.
Texas Abortion Providers Grapple with New Reality Under Restrictive Law Part 1 - The Takeaway - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:20:57] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Moayedi, how would anyone know if someone else had a private medical procedure or surgical procedure? How would someone know that someone has sought an abortion?
[00:21:07] DR. GHAZALEH MOAYEDI: The scary part is that these extremists actually camp out outside of our clinics every single day. They take pictures of staff, they take pictures of patients, they write down our license plates. They already have an expansive infrastructure across the country for surveillance and harassment of abortion clinic workers and abortion seekers. So how they would know is through their expansive surveillance infrastructure that they already have in place.
[00:21:38] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask a follow-up to that. What if someone maybe who has a private physician goes into say a university hospital and sees their private physician and is either prescribed the pills necessary for a medical abortion or is actually given, say a DNC, a surgical procedure? Does that mean that, basically, it's only those who can be surveilled who are most vulnerable here?
[00:22:06] DR. GHAZALEH MOAYEDI: Yes. Were unclear right now who they're going to bring suits against and how. But, yes, it is unlikely that a private family physician or OB-GYN in their office that is providing just individuals in their practice care is going to be found out. It's also important to remember that, in Texas, your regular physician is not technically usually allowed to provide abortion care to you. Our state has already been regulated to the point that pretty much all abortion care happens within our known clinical settings. They've already thought of that. They've filtered us down to a few spots where most, if not all abortions in the state happen.
[00:22:57] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Kumar, I'm struck again, Dr. Moayedi said that the primary purpose of this law is to intimidate and frighten. Are you feeling intimidated and frightened?
[00:23:07] DR. BHAVIK KUMAR: Certainly, yes. I totally agree with Dr. Moayedi that, to your question before about, "How would you know or what happens if this, that, the other?" I think just asking those questions is what this law is designed to do. It's designed to have folks who may need access to abortion, folks who provide abortion to think about every little thing that could happen and how somebody could find out if you want to continue providing the care that you've been providing and make people feel fear and feel intimidated.
I think even having this conversation and working through these questions and, of course, the last few months about all the what-ifs, and how, and who, and where, and what's going to happen, the amount of energy and time that's been put into that is exactly what this law or part of it is designed to do. Feeling fear and intimidation is not a new thing for us that do this work in Texas or places like Texas. We're used to it. It doesn't make it easy, but it's part of the work here. I think naming it is part of getting around it. Of course, the fear is there. I feel it all the time, but I don't allow the fear to control me. It doesn't serve me, it doesn't help me or the people that I'm trying to take care of, but it's there. I think some of us feel the fear differently and perhaps more heavily, but for me, the fear's there, but I try to move through it and recognize that it doesn't serve me.
[00:24:29] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Dr. Moayedi, how does having this bounty essentially placed on your heads affect physicians' capacity to get insurance in the state of Texas?
[00:24:40] DR. GHAZALEH MOAYEDI: Yes, that's a great question and one that we all started grappling with very early on after this law was passed. For now, thankfully, it seems this is not a malpractice issue at all, because it is a civil proceeding. Currently, it has not affected our malpractice carriers. However, it's certainly a concern and I think something that was on their mind in this process, but since it is a civil procedure, and it doesn't have anything to do with actually with medical care, it is so far out of our purview of our malpractice insurers. That remains to be seen what will happen. I don't know what will happen if we start getting dozens of these frivolous lawsuits, what our state medical board is going to say, what are the insurance companies going to say after that? What will the hospitals say that we have privileges at? There's a just endless spiral of thinking through the career consequences of multiple frivolous lawsuits.
Abortion, Surveillance, and Vigilantism An American Story Part 3 Bias of the Court - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:25:43] DAHLIA LITCHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: I want to really focus in on the fact that the Supreme Court chose to let this bill stand on the basis of a really hyper-technical jurisdictional argument.
And I wonder what it signifies to you that this was disposed of in this, kind of, back-of-the-napkin, unsigned order, in the middle of the night, on the shadow docket, even as there's a 15 week Mississippi abortion ban case teed up to be heard this fall. This could have been 6-3, on the regular docket, with regular briefing, and regular argument, and none of that happened. Why?
[00:26:21] MICHELLE GOODWIN: Well, what this does is, it shows a disdain, in many ways, for the lives of those who are affected by this Texas law. Now, in this dispatch of less than 72 hours of thought, which is what justice Kagan said, the majority, which is a conservative majority, ultimately aided in gutting Roe v. Wade in the state of Texas.
And to your point, they did so on this technical ground. Now, if one is to believe that this was the only choice that the Supreme Court had, then we'd have to believe that centuries of jurisprudence mean nothing, including Marbury v. Madison, and all of the Supreme Court cases early on, centuries ago, that established the Supreme Court as the supreme arbiter of the land.
And so one can't take seriously the court's failure to intervene in this case. And I think Justice Roberts's dissenting opinion in the case makes that very clear, where he really shreds, in many ways, his conservative cohorts in the court, making clear that of course they could have intervened.
And of course, Justice Sotomayor issued a very compelling dissent, as I mentioned; Justice Kagan did as well. But what this allowed was for the Supreme Court. the Majority, to come away with clean hands, in that, they make no argument as to the constitutionality of the law. So they get to appear as if their own priors were not somehow on display in their refusal to impose an injunction in this case.
As Rebecca mentioned, this is a long time in coming. And so, as we look at the jurisprudence that's been articulated and dispensed by these justices, as we look at their private leanings, such as Justice Amy Coney Barrett, in this advertisements that she has signed on to, the speeches that justice Alito has given, the dissents and concurrences coming from Justice Clarence Thomas, that this, too, has been a victorious moment for them.
And let's be, clear that this is part of a very well-oiled machine. And part of this machine has been the lifting of the Federalist Society, that has played an enormous-- in fact, an outsized-- role in who sits on the bench today.
Let's be clear that there are a number of movements that come together to put us in this particular space. The decades long anti-abortion movement, which has been well-oiled and well funded, with some of the sharpest legal minds paid a lot of money, to help along this vein. And we see that in the Mississippi case, we see that in the, Texas legislation here.
That movement has also affected who sits on the bench as well. When Donald Trump was in office as president, he was able to nominate more judges to the federal bench than any other president save George Washington. Most of those judges that he nominated were already filtered through the most conservative filter ever-- those are people who are on the court, and on the fifth circuit as well.
And so, we can't see the Supreme Court's involvement as just simply isolated from their involvement in social groups. We can't see what Texas the legislature did as isolate it from the broader movement, and even isolated from Mississippi. and these other states. This has been a deeply coordinated movement that has taken foot. And in that way, no, it's not surprising what these conservative justices just did.
[00:30:40] REBECCA TRAISTER: Adam Serwer wrote so much-- with regard to the Trump administration-- a brilliant observation that I think was incredibly vivid and descriptive of the politics of the Trump administration "The cruelty is the point." that there is a message of power. There's a message of domination in showing your disregard, and your disdain, and that this is not important. And, that's part of what my guest is about why they did it.
It's certainly an issue that's important to many of them. We know that abortion is important to Amy Coney Barrett. We know that abortion is important to Brett Kavanaugh. We know that the... that this is not something they are not interested in.
And so... and I can't answer, Dahlia, I don't have a great guess about why they did this. From a layperson's perspective who doesn't-- I don't have the kind of legal background that you and Michelle do-- I think, "Wow, it feels like this is actually undercutting the court itself, and precedent."
Even if it's precedent that we may guess they're eager to overturn-- and I believe they are eager to overturn it, and I have suspected that they would for a long time. But to say, like, "We're not even going to bother to uphold this federal law that was made by our body, by the Supreme Court," feels to me to be self-diminishing in some way. And I am confused by it, and this is the conversation we have been having in the car.
But we also know that this project-- and this may be what I heard Michelle talking about, the years of organizing, from an anti-abortion movement-- there's also been years of organizing by a Republican party to put a court in place that would take all of the disdain for reproductive autonomy, and reverse Roe, or make it functionally meaningless; take away, fully take away the rights and access to abortion care, to full health care.
And this has been a mission of a Republican party, and we've known it, and it's happened through state legislatures, and the conservative movement that was obsessed with taking over state legislatures, to excellent effect, that you have state legislatures that come up with these wild laws, like the one in Texas; to taking over the Supreme Court, and a Supreme Court seat that was held hostage by Mitch McConnell in the last year of Barack Obama's term; to a Senate that jammed through a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the last days of Donald Trump's administration; the Tea Party, that-- this is all been in-the-cover-of-night stuff, that was just barely under the surface of the Republican party for decades-- it was the rise of the Tea Party that said it was all about economic conservatism, and being worried about taxation, but in fact, just got into power 10 years ago, and started voting to defund Planned Parenthood every week.
What Democrats Can Do To Fight the TX Handmaid's Tale (w Elie Mystal) - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 9-7-21
[00:33:28] ELIE MYSTAL: This I have to say is part and parcel of the general Democratic response, the general white male Democratic response to the attacks on women's rights to choose over the last 30 or 40 years. It's not to aggressively fight for the right to family planning and fight for the right for abortions. It is to appear to be protecting the principle without actually putting skin in the game, butts on the line to fight and protect women.
This is what Democrats do more often than not on this issue. They try to say the nice thing. They try to calm passions. They try to skirt the issue, instead of aggressively going out and fighting. And that's why we're here. Because the Republicans, as we've seen in Texas, as we see in Mississippi, as we're about to see in Florida and South Dakota and Missouri and Arkansas, Republicans are out here, like they're on crusade. All right? They act like they have the moral high ground. They act like forcing a woman to give, to bring a pregnancy to term against her will, is something that is not barbaric. Which is beyond me. But they act like they are on some kind of crusade and Democrats act ashamed that they have to protect women's rights.
[00:34:49] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: And this, and this goes way back, Elie. Back in the early nineties, Bill Clinton was talking about how we want to make abortion safe, legal, and rare, which is again, buying into the frame that there's something wrong with abortion. Obviously we're talking about pre-viability. And in most cases, substantially pre-viability.
But this overwhelmingly emotional argument combined with the fact that you've got the Catholic church, which has a seat in the United Nations and has no female citizens, but is on the Family Planning Commission at the UN, or at least used to be, I think that you've got a lot of Democratic politicians who are afraid to offend Catholic voters, they don't want to lose them. And so they've always tried to have it both ways. Oh, we're trying to keep abortion safe and legal, but you know, we kind of agree with you that it's a morally something that's a little creepy and we shouldn't have. Instead of saying right, unwanted pregnancies can be a terrible problem. They can be a life-destroying problem for some people. They can certainly be a life-altering problem for most people.
[00:35:48] ELIE MYSTAL: Then you have the problem of women who want abortions, getting them in unsafe ways. Because that's the other thing. That's the dark side of these restrictions. It doesn't stop abortions. It forces women onto the black market where their health, it can not be protected.
Look: From the perspective of people who claim -- and I believe it is just a claim, I do not believe that this should be given the imprimatur of a real belief because they don't because you just got to think it through -- the people who claim that they care about the life of the unborn, here's an idea: give $10,000 and free healthcare to women who want to carry their pregnancy to term. Like you could do that. If you weren't so concerned about the care and wellbeing of unborn people, what you would do was to make sure that the mother was as protected, as healthy, as rested as possible in this society. You wouldn't be fighting against a six week federal family leave policy. You would be demanding one year paid federal family leave for any woman who wants to bring a pregnancy to term. That's what you do if you care about life.
If you don't care about life, if you only care about controlling women's bodies, that's how you get into $10,000 bounty system for ratting out your neighbor, trying to go to the doctor.
[00:37:08] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Let's start using proper language by the way. Number one, let's stop using the word "unborn," unless we're talking about viable, post-24-week pregnancies. And let's stop referring to pregnancy at six weeks or eight weeks or 10 weeks as a fetus when in fact it's a zygote. Let's stop referring to heartbeats at six weeks, cause there is no heart. There, there are cells in there that are pulsing with an electrical current because someday they will develop into a heart.
The forced birth faction essentially has hijacked language, Elie.
[00:37:40] ELIE MYSTAL: Yeah. And look again, look, most people in this country, or they can think of themselves as somewhere in the middle, right? They want abortions to be legal in some cases, and to be illegal and other cases.
And what those people for the most part don't understand is that I have just described the law as it is right now. All Roe v Wade stands for, all it stands for is the concept that the state cannot force a woman to bring a pregnancy to term. If she decides to terminate that pregnancy before fetal viability, which scientifically happens around 24 weeks.
Fetal viability is the standard. Why? Because fetal viability is the point where scientifically the fetus can exist outside the womb. Right? This makes sense. At the point where the thing needs its needs the woman to survive, then clearly it is still part of the woman's at the point where you can take it out and it can live on its own with medical help, well then we're in a different situation.
[00:38:39] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: That's where it goes from a fetus to an unborn child.
[00:38:44] ELIE MYSTAL: Right. That's why the courts have put the demarcation line at fetal viability. After fetal viability, we agree that there is some state interest in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Before fetal viability, we agree that women are people too. Right. It's as simple as that. So the law as it is right now already accounts for this push-pull in American politics with people who want abortion sometimes, but don't want abortion other times.
That's where we are already.
[00:39:16] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: So Elie, how do you think this thing is going to play out in Texas legally? I believe you're a graduate of the Harvard Law School, if I'm recalling correctly.
[00:39:23] ELIE MYSTAL: Indeed. All of that's not as a sterling credential as it used to be.
Look, what Biden needs to do is via executive order, establish federal abortion providers, federal doctors, who through qualified immunity cannot be sued by these private citizens trying to carry on their bounty hunt. That's the quickest way around the Texas law.
But none of this stops until Democrats take back the Supreme Court. Because if it wasn't this Texas law, the Supreme Court was already poised to overturn Roe v Wade this June in a case called Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health, which involves the Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks with no exception for rape or incest. This court was already going to do this. And as long as the Democrats allow Republicans to control the Supreme Court, they will do this.
Abortion, Surveillance, and Vigilantism An American Story Part 4 Failure of the Left an Press - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:40:14] MICHELLE GOODWIN: The press-- that traditional press that you talk about-- what was also frustrating is, that you see this kind of uptick, between 2010 and 2013, dramatic between that time, 2010 to '13, more anti-abortion, anti reproductive rights laws, that are proposed and enacted, than the 30 years prior.
And, this is during the time that Barack Obama is in office. And there are reporters who are, kind of, framing this time of the tea party as, "Well, this is just all politics," and they're divorcing it from the importance of race in being part of this discourse, and the ability to use race, weaponized racism, weaponized white supremacy, in ways that-- at that time, there were reporters talking about, "We were post-racial! How wonderful it is! We have a Black president! this is the new coming of America."
And there were those, like you like me and that other people, were saying, "No, look at what this represents. This is actually dangerous, what's taking place." And sadly, it's taken a while for traditional news media to catch up.
[00:41:23] REBECCA TRAISTER: It's taken a really... I mean, as part of the traditional news media, I can... and who has been told so many times, over... You know, I guess now I've been writing about this for a couple of decades, and, who has been told over and over again, some version of, "You're being hysterical, if you think this is what's going on."
And in fact, that is... certainly, you're so right about how the right used Barack Obama's presidency, and the, kind of, the willful sleepiness that it engendered on the left, and the liberal left.
[00:42:01] MICHELLE GOODWIN: Oh, absolutely! But got to pat itself on the back, and say, "Look at what we helped to do!" Right? I mean, it's...
[00:42:07] REBECCA TRAISTER: Yes! Post-racial! Right? We elected a Black president!
[00:42:12] MICHELLE GOODWIN: Post-racial was White liberals celebrating themselves, and saying, "Look at what we did! We got Barack Obama in the White House!" while being asleep at the wheel on all of these other fronts.
[00:42:23] REBECCA TRAISTER: And, to be clear, the Democratic Party has played a really crucial part here, too, in encouraging that "sleepfulness," Right? (Is that a word? I'm very tired). If the press refuse to acknowledge what the right was doing, in building its power in state legislatures, in taking over the court, in moving in this direction, the Democratic Party, that was, theoretically. Supposed to be on the side of reproductive rights and autonomy, has absolutely refused to fight for them, up until, as recently as the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearing, where nobody wanted to have the fight.
Because the Democratic Party has absorbed an inaccurate and incorrect message that people find abortion icky. And I would argue that is because they find-- because there is an assumption that anything having to do with women's autonomy, and human full and equal human thriving is a key right, to a lot of people.
But the Democratic Party has not fought on this, despite the fact that the legality of abortion is actually one of the most broadly popular issues in this country. Even in red states, people-- the press, again, would have you believe that the country is irrevocably divided on this, right? That, "It's 50/50, nobody's ever changing their mind."
But in fact, good, smart polling over the past decade has shown that is a myth: seven in 10 people, even in purple and red states want abortion to remain legal in some form. And the Democratic Party, despite having that very good, strong evidence in front of them, has refused to fight for abortion rights, for better abortion access.
This administration is the first time since the 90s that a budget has in its first draft not included the Hyde amendment. The Democratic Party has permitted the Hyde amendment to be in the budget, Yet through the Obama administration, the Democratic Party has refused to fight for abortion.
And, in fact, has contributed to the idea that it is... there’s something distasteful about it, that there's something icky about it, that it's a "cultural issue," rather than a key economic issue. The Democratic Party has been very much a part of this story too, and has also been absolutely asleep at the wheel while this was very clear to many people, who weren't listening to, and who were called hysterical, literally, called hysterical, regularly; who'd been saying, "Look, this is what we're building to. This is what's happening. This is what the right is trying to do".
And people who've been saying that we’re told that they were fantasists, that they were overdramatic=; they were feminised, basically, by saying "You're being overdramatic."
[00:44:57] DAHLIA LITCHWICK - HOST, AMICUS WITH DAHLIA LITHWICK: Rebecca, I'm so, so glad you said this. And I want to stop for a moment and honor the fact that Rebecca and I have stood on many a street corner in Brooklyn, and asked each other: "Am I hysterical right now?" having had somebody tweet that at us, or shout that at us.
So I think it's really important to fold into this conversation how subject you can be to claims that you're overreacting. And I also want to, on behalf of a lot of the mainstream press, acknowledge the fact that this narrative about this moderate centrist court, this redemption narrative, that says that, "Oh, look at the end of the 2021 term, and look at how centrist Brett Kavanaugh was, and look how centrist Amy Coney Barrett..." and look at how they are drawn like magnets to how right the left fundamentally is, how correct to the left fundamentally is, and look at how centrists and moderates they are.
I mean, we... we really, really wanted that story, we peddled that story. The public right now, Gallup polling, is showing that 51% percent of Democrats love the John Roberts court. So, we also played a part in that narrative of normalizing and legitimizing a court that was inexorably going to do this, and was selected to do this.
And I guess under this rubric of gaslighting, I mean, we’ve talked about the ways in which the court was gaslighting us, the DNC was gaslighting us, the press was gaslighting us. I guess I want to give both of you a chance to say that the... just the political system itself kept insisting that there was something about the way women were reacting to Brett Kavanaugh, the way they were reacting to Barrett, that was, again, over-the-top and hysterical, that wasn’t sober and legalistic.
And that... I’m just thinking of you, Rebecca, responding to Ben Sasse, saying, you know, "These women are nuts! Why are they dressed up like handmaids, saying that they’re going to lose Abortion?" I mean, the gaslighting all the way down.
[00:47:08] REBECCA TRAISTER: So there are two instances that I think of: one is that Ben Sasse, and that was during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings-- in fact, before he was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford-- when protesters were yelling in the chamber about abortion rights. Ben Sasse, who is the Senator from Nebraska, who's a history teacher said this incredibly condescending thing from the perspective of a historian, like, "For decades, I've been hearing people scream that women are going to die. Where--" and he used the word hysteria. You think that's an overstatement? No, he used the word "hysteria." He said, "Where did the hysteria come from? This is a ludicrous thing to say, because I've been hearing it for decades."
So that is this gaslighting. And it's this condescension from the White, male, Nebraskan Senator, or history teacher, with, like, a Harvard degree or something, who is telling you that you're just crazy if you think that The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is going to result in harm to women's bodies, rights, and autonomy.
So there's that instance. And then I want to bring up another instance that I also can't stop thinking about: which is the end of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, just this past fall, when the democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, reached over and congratulated-- as many people are watching this. And just gobsmacked that after a Supreme Court seat was kept out of Barack Obama's power, as Barack Obama was prevented by the Senate by Mitch McConnell, from appointing a justice to fill an empty seat in his last term, and Republicans jammed through Amy Coney Barrett, a known opponent of abortion rights.
And the Democratic Party, there were a couple of people who really did fight, and I was grateful to them for it. But by and large, the Democratic Party let this happen without saying, "This is..." without saying, "No, this is a travesty! This isn't how this works! This is a horror show. This is what's going to happen. Here are the things.. that... it’s abortion, it’s voting rights, it's the environment, it's the planet," without saying all those things as boldly as they should have been saying, they didn't fight. They didn't fight.
And at the end of it, you have all these people watching, me watching, my jaw on the floor, thinking, "I can't believe this is just happening." And Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, reaches over and congratulate Lindsey Graham on the best, smoothest confirmation hearing in her memory. That's gaslighting, too. That's telling all the people who are watching this thinking, "Oh my God, I'm seeing the future. And I'm seeing our systems, our government, our planet, unraveling here, in front of me, on the television, and a Democratic senator is congratulating a Republican Senator on comity, and the smooth operations of the system. That's gaslighting too, just as much as Be Sasse is.
FURY - Gaslit Nation - Air Date 9-7-21
[00:49:53] ANDREA CHALUPA - CO-HOST, GASLIT NATION: As we saw the Texas abortion ban is yet another reminder of why you hardly ever see female dictators. Americans, like in many corners of the world today to varying degrees from Afghanistan to Russia, to Syria, to Poland and the United Kingdom and too many other places, are up against the threat of patriarchal terrorism. This is not only a war against women, but a war against LGBTQ people as well, who by their very existence challenged the rigid, harmful confines of who gets to be considered human under a patriarchy.
In predominantly white societies trapped under or threatened by patriarchal terrorism, all non-white people are also relegated to objects to ensure the unchecked power of the white male ruling class.
Needless to say, Republicans in Texas and elsewhere are determined to drag America back to its roots and calling on vigilantes for help. The Texas abortion ban provides a fancy institutionalized spin on the increasing white terrorism plaguing our country. The Proud Boys now can rally around the law in Texas and hunt down people even considering getting abortions. This is the type of law they will cling to in order to justify their violence and make it seem no longer fringe, but now part of the establishment. And the Supreme Court with a cowardly, shadowy abdication of duty to uphold the Constitution, let them do it.
The Texas abortion ban is a legalized fascism and the Supreme Court, packed by an illegitimate president who has a history of keeping a book of Hitler speeches by his bed, who was raised by an infamous racist arrested at a KKK rally in New York, refused to stop the fascist Texas abortion ban because fascism is the end goal. If you do not believe us, google the definition of fascism and a flashing before your eyes will be today's headlines on the growing threat of nationalism in America. The cult worship of a dictatorial leader, violent suppression and harassment of opposition including the press, racial and other scapegoating and so forth.
The entire Republican agenda is now a fascist white terrorist movement, often hiding behind the veneer of respectability, with such harmful groups as now the Supreme Court, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works, the Family Prayer Breakfast, the Chamber of Commerce, Republican trifecta states, bewildering New York Times columnists, cable news pundits, and a whole list of white men and white women and token minorities who have chosen power and greed over the public good.
And they're doing it against the will of much of their hostage states known as red states. In Texas, for instance, if 11,000, only 11,000 in a state as large as Texas, if only 11,000 votes had a flipped across nine districts in 2020, Republicans in Texas wouldn't have had the power to ban abortions and pass one of the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the country. This comes according to a great group we should all be supporting and following called the State Government Citizens Campaign, a group of like-minded people, working volunteers, community organizers, working to flip state governments from red to blue to avoid tragedies like what's unfolding in Texas.
The Texas abortion ban is a legal warfare against our democracy, much like the court packing by the Federalist Society, the voter suppression laws across the country amplifying Trump's big lie. All of that paid for by a massive amount of dark money. Look at Jane Mayer's piece recently in the New Yorker, all about the dark money that's fueling these voter suppression lies, all based on Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and justifying expanding voter suppression laws and putting the power of our elections in the hands of right-wing partisan ideologues. It's the same legal warfare you see in authoritarian states and declining democracies like Viktor Orban's Hungary, where opposition leaders face intrusive and expensive audits, for instance.
Authoritarianism isn't always tanks and brutality. It's also really expensive lawsuits and investigations. And like I said, financial audits. All of this has done to financially ruin and harass and demoralize and crush the opposition, completely ruined their lives, and therefore they don't have any energy or any resources left to fight the authoritarianism.
This is what we're seeing now in Texas, where anyone can turn in others for getting an abortion or helping someone, even an Uber driver can be sued. And those lawsuits can earn the bounty hunters, thousands of dollars.
These vigilante laws like the Texas abortion ban aren't limited to abortion. Republicans are also going after the rights of local governments to pass the mask mandates, ensure environmental protections and so forth. Using vigilantes to carry out their culture of fascism, these vigilante laws are dangerous loopholes in our Constitution. They're steamrolling our Constitution. Our Constitution protects us from the state, or it should. But these vigilante laws empower individuals to bully others and literally destroy people's lives. As designed by the Republican hijacking of our democracy, any right wing ideological judge, like the majority of the Supreme Court and roughly one 3rd of judges packed into the courts by Trump and Mitch McConnell, can look the other way, claiming individual rights, free speech, religious freedom, and that they're just standing their ground.
Currently a Texas state judge temporarily halted the rights of Texas Right to Life and its associates from suing workers and abortion providers at Planned Parenthood. That's a very small but much needed reprieve. TikTok activists have flooded the Gestapo website where people can report anyone trying to get an abortion or helping someone get an abortion. A clever young person who represents the hope of our nation, this young person by the name of Sean Black, created a bot that lets you flood the Gestapo website with spam.
GoDaddy, the company that hosts this website, the Gestapo website in Texas, kicked the Texans fascist movement off of its platform and refuses to provide their services now.
Uber and Lyft promised to pay the legal fees of any drivers sued as part of the Texas abortion ban, so there are always creative ways to fight back.
Just like when Trump tried to pass a Muslim registry and suddenly non-Muslims started registering and flooding the system.
Abortion, Surveillance, and Vigilantism An American Story Part 5 80's/90's Context - Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick - Air Date 9-3-21
[00:56:51] MICHELLE GOODWIN: I would like to bring this back to another era. So. pre-Barack Obama, at a time in which, I think, you know, there is value in being introspective and retrospective about this.
And you can't divorce this time from the 1980s, and the perfect storm of mass incarceration, umm, the attempts and success in villainising young black as air quote, "crack moms," who would have crack babies.
And during that time, the rise of the surveillance and stalking of Black women, kind of, reified redone over in their pregnancies; the ways in which news media then, too, you know, went to wards where there were premature babies who were acting as premature babies do, they shake, they cry, filming those babies, and saying, "These are the crack babies."
And then the articles that were published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post Rolling Stones [sic], that if we were to read those articles today, we'd say "What racism! What White Supremacy, baked into what is reported."
The claims that these would be children who would grow up... would be uneducable; that these would be kids who have distorted genitalia-- quite literally, in these articles, things like that being said; that they would be brain defected; that these would be kids who would bring weapons to school, and kindergarten, and that teachers would have to watch out for them; claims that there would be hundreds of thousands of them born, based on no evidence whatsoever.
The blacklisting of people, researchers like Dr. Claire Coles at Emory and Hallam Hurt at Penn, who were writing, saying, " We've been doing this research on maternal fetal interfaces on... with cocaine, with crack, with tobacco, with alcohol, and we do not see what you're saying. And eventually they were shut out from being quoted in stories.
But the race part of this story is really important, because this all has been built on the surveillance, the stalking, the criminalization, the civil punishment, of Black women. And the failure to recognize that the very earliest attempts then-- and of course we could say the earliest attempts were during slavery, where we just normalized that Black women have no control over their reproductive autonomy-- but certainly in the 1980s, when prosecutors began to say "We can use existing child abuse statutes to come after you, and to say that a fetus is a child in that way."
And the failure to mount the cases then, which were, basically personhood kinds of measures that prosecutors were taking on their own to do, or other kinds of attempts, by saying that Black women were trafficking drugs to their fetuses, and using existing drug laws against Black women in that way.
Or states like Wisconsin and Minnesota, that enacted euphemistic "Crack Baby Mama" laws that allowed for the civil confinement of any pregnant person-- at the time, pregnant women-- based on any doctor or medical provider's claim that, somehow, she was a threat to her fetus.
These were all the things that were going on with Black women being arrested and charged with murder for having miscarriages and stillbirths. And where were the movements that said, "Well, no! We have to attack that! There should be no arrest of a person like Rennie Gibbs, who was 15 years old when pregnant, 16 years old when she had a stillbirth, and charged in Mississippi with "Depraved Heart Murder," because he had a stillbirth.
These were the things of the '80s and the '90s that really should have been paid attention to, that served as a successful foundation where you could see that, "OK, we can get through prosecuting these women on all sorts of matters related to their conduct and fetus. What more can we do?"
And so I think that we would be remiss if we didn't pay attention to that time, as well, as being important to the current discourse and dialogue.
Texas Abortion Providers Grapple with New Reality Under Restrictive Law Part 2 - The Takeaway - Air Date 9-3-21
[01:01:25] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Tell our listeners what the Jane Network was and what it meant to countless women back in the day?
[01:01:32] LAURA KAPLAN: This was the very early days of the women's liberation movement, and groups all over the country were forming counseling services to help women navigate the often dangerous underground abortion system. System is a weird word. That's how Jane started as well. We were formerly known as the Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation in Chicago.
[01:02:06] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: You just use the first person plural there, we. Tell us how you were involved.
[01:02:10] LAURA KAPLAN: The group started in 1969. I joined in the fall of 1971. We started just sussing out the underground abortion providers in the city of Chicago to find the ones that were the most reputable, honest, and competent, and to prepare women for their experience, and send them off to these providers. What was unusual about Jane was, within two years, and really, by the time I joined in the fall of 1971, the women in the group had learned themselves, how to perform D&C abortions and induced miscarriages.
We became a completely women-run underground abortion service in the city of Chicago, working out of our own apartments or friend's apartments. Preparing women in advance, sharing information, as much as we could share. You don't remember, but in those days, there was very little information available. That's, in a nutshell, how we evolved. We estimate we performed, in our 4 years, approximately 11,000 or more, safe, illegal, low-cost abortions for women in Chicago and the surrounding area.
[01:03:51] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Can you share with us the stories of even one person who you or the Jane network provided care for in this way? What were the reasons that women were seeking abortions?
[01:04:06] LAURA KAPLAN: We never asked women because we didn't feel that was an important question or one they needed to share with us, why they were seeking an abortion. It's 50 years ago, and it's hard to remember individual cases, but for some women it was, there was an accident with their birth control. I'll tell you the story of a friend of mine. She had an IUD implanted, and it was implanted incorrectly, and she wound up pregnant while she was still in college. That's one case. Some more women who had a number of children already and just could not see their way to having another child.
Some were in very controlling relationships where they weren't, by their partner, allowed to use birth control. The reasons were myriad, but like I said, the reasons didn't matter to us. If a woman really wanted an abortion and felt she needed one, that was good enough for us. You have to remember, once they contacted us, they were entering an illegal arena. What we realized was the women who came to us were just desperate because here they were coming to total strangers to help them with this problem.
[01:05:39] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: How did you get your message out to people given that it did have to be covert?
[01:05:44] LAURA KAPLAN: We did some advertising, little posters that were put around in college dormitories and payphone booths. Remember payphones? You might not. That said, "Pregnant? Don't want to be? Call Jane," with our phone number. You have to remember there was no technology. I didn't have an answering machine. There weren't answering machines. It was all very much like that. We took out ads in underground newspapers, but very rapidly, our phone number and information about us spread throughout Chicago. Also, the Women's Liberation Union in Chicago had a phone number, and a lot of women called there to get our phone number. By the time I joined, we were so inundated with calls that we didn't need to do any advertising. Especially, our information spread throughout of the primarily Black communities on the South and West Side of Chicago.
[01:06:54] MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: How do you react to the current Texas abortion bill law?
[01:06:59] LAURA KAPLAN: I'm just outraged and horrified, and I can't even express exactly how outraged and horrified I am. I see, in this law, not only the six-week limit but the bounty for turning in others. Echoes of Nazi Germany when young people were encouraged to inform on their teachers, their neighbors, even their parents. It just reeks to me.
Theory of change; a sub-theory - Scott from Canada
[01:07:43] VOICEDMAILER: SCOTT FROM CANADA: Hi Jay! This is Scott from Canada.
Here are some thoughts on a theory of change. Sometimes, change requires a moderate approach; sometimes, change requires a more militant approach.
It is difficult to know when either approach is optimal. In fact, understanding the distinction between an issue on which moderation is more appropriate than militancy might be the central problem that a theory of change needs to solve.
Here's just a little nudge to help crack this nut. The average political actor just wants to be moderate. That is the baseline of political decency. The average anti-choice actor will indicate support for abortion in cases of rape, a moderate position, only because they have an aversion to appearing militant. The average anti-racist actor might oppose Colin Kaepernick's demonstrations, again, a moderate position, because militancy is distasteful.
I want to suggest that, when we evaluate a theory of change, and we find ourselves drifting to a more moderate position, are we doing so out of a misplaced emphasis on the value of moderation for moderation's sake? To the anti-choice actor, I would point out that it is nonsensical to permit abortion in a case of rape; if life is sacred, what difference does it make if the pregnancy is the result of rape or of consensual sex? To the anti-racist actor expressing disapproval of Kaepernick's demonstrations, I'm not sure what I would say, I stumbled across that one in the book, Sum Of Us, and I thought to myself, "This person is mistaking moderation for a virtue. He needs some more MILITANCY!"
In conclusion; everyone should check their theory of change to make sure they aren't engaging in moderation for the sake of moderation. Stay awesome.
Paying congress less is a bad idea - Nick From California
[01:09:23] VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: Hey, Jay!, I think you might've been speaking in support of what I called, what you played on the show to say, because my point is that the people who advocate that our congressional leaders should get paid less have a poor theory of change. It's not really a good idea. Just feels good to them and it feels good to us, but it's a bad idea. But your response was seemingly, I don't know, the response seemed to be that I was having that idea, which I'm not.
I was calling with the opposite idea, to complain about the idea that I see that meme, I don't know, every three months about how we should pay Congress less, and while that feels just really good, I was just shoving some common ground with any sort of right-winger, I do think that is a poor idea and was looking to see if anybody had a theory of change actually, that suggested it was a good idea, if that's possible, if it could be a good idea, potentially, to challenge myself. And also I just calledin to rant about that idea.
So, just thought your reaction was a little weird, cause it sounded like I was calling in to suggest that we should make legislators get paid less, which was not what I was doing. I was actually ranting about it and being charitable towards that side as possible. Take care. Bye.
Final comments on the virtues of militaristic messaging
[01:10:50] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at (202) 999-3991, or write me a message to [email protected].
First of all, to put Nick's fears to rest, I went and listened back to my commentary that he was referring to the last time he called in and I responded to him and another person who had written in on a similar topic. The other person was talking about term limits, and the downsides of that. Nick called in, talked about reducing congressional pay, and the downsides of that. I responded to both, and I don't know what happened. I don't know why it sounded confusing, but it did. And I absolutely saw myself on the side of both Jonathan from New York talking about term limits and Nick talking about the wrong headedness of reducing congressional pay or at least the short-sightedness of it and the possibility of it stoking corruption, and so I went on to talk about the importance of having a theory of change and those being great examples of how a lack of a well thought through theory of change can result in really poor policy. So poor in fact that it actually backfires from what the people are intending. So, as I say, I don't know what happened. One of my least favorite things is misunderstandings. I find them incredibly frustrating, making it deeply ironic that I went ahead and made myself a political commentator on the internet, of all places.
As for Scott, I think he is absolutely right that politicians tend to look to be in the center of any room they happen to be in. That's why they change what they say depending on what room they're in. And militaristic actions are often a strategy to shift the Overton window, pulling the center toward your cause, so that moderates, when they are trying to find the center, will shift in your direction as the Overton window shifts in your direction.
So when you see actions that seem radical or shock and horror, impolite, keep in mind what the purpose is. For instance, a politician who agrees that there should be exceptions to abortion restrictions in the case of rape or incest get to say that while making it sound like a gift they're granting because of the hardcore militant, forced birth advocates who are incredibly loud in the ears of those politicians.
As discussed in today's show, even the left has been buying into the right wing frame on abortion for decades, with all of our talk of "safe, legal, and rare", and that language has only recently begun to shift because of the more radical elements of reproductive justice advocates getting as loud as they possibly can in order to shift that narrative. And I think the problem the left falls into a lot is the idea that because our policies are so much more popular than the right, we should be able to win over support while being polite. "Hey, don't ruffle feathers. Don't be so loud. Don't be angry. We're right, let's just, let's just get everyone to agree with us." and it doesn't really work that way.
The other side yells a lot louder than we do on the specific issues that they really care about, and their echo chamber is designed to make people a lot angrier than the media on the left generally does. And that's why more radical approaches almost always need to be part of a theory of change. It probably shouldn't be the only element. We need political strategy to get actual laws passed too, but when it comes to messaging, a bit of militarism is almost always a good thing to pull the Overton window and moderate politicians along with it in our direction.
As always, keep the comments coming in at (202) 999-3991 or by emailing me to [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Scott for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our impressively good bonus episodes. In addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes.
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So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left Podcast coming to twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.