Friday Reads: Mitch McConnell keeps trotting out his Prize Livestock

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Still Life, Cactus, 1919

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Louisiana is a little later than most states that I’ve lived in with their State Fair Livestock Shows. It probably has something to do with the heat and peak hurricane season which occurs during the Labor Day Weekend which is when I was used to doing the Iowa State Fair, the Nebraska State Fair, and the Minnesota State Fair.

My favorite part as a kid was the kids from 4H showing off their pet livestock projects. It was always a real range of farm animals and the kids and animals seemed really close when you watched them in their pens together.

The one thing that killed all that for me was knowing that what looked like a loving pet to me was most likely going to wind up at an auction.  I like the Crazy Cajun Pygmy Goat Shows though because I know they’re likely going to live a long life attending yuppy yoga goat classes, or clearing out the bramble in some backyard for a fee, or being the focus of some kid’s birthday party, or providing the basis for some cheese.

Perhaps I read Charlotte’s Web to my kids way too many times.

The point is that both the ranchers-to-be and the meals-to-be love those shows.  The animals have no idea that their purpose is to ensure everyone knows their place in the food chain.  It’s mostly to remind everyone that no matter how much attention they get at one point, they’re simply there to show off enough so everyone will go off and find more of their kind to slaughter.

This is about how I feel about Mitch McConnell trotting out Amy Coney Barrett and now, Clarence Thomas to represent just how much animals will  preen for the camera when they’re about to sell the rights that got them there out.   I wonder if he’ll trot out the white guys too? Nah, it’s all about preserving only their rights.

Saguaro Cactus at Sun Set, Gayle McGinty

The deal with livestock shows is they are always big deals to a few that lead up to mass slaughter for the innocent.

This is from The Washington Post. “McConnell lauds Thomas, says Supreme Court should not heed the ‘rule of polls’” Someone needs to tell Mitch the settled laws are not about the rule of polls. They are about the Rule Of Law.

The conservative think tank was the site of a day-long celebration of Thomas’s three decades on the court, with panels of judges, lawyers and legal analysts celebrating the 73-year-old justice’s record.

McConnell was the keynote speaker, and he urged boldness and independence from the federal judiciary he had a large hand in reconstructing. He pushed through a record number of confirmations of federal judges when Republicans controlled the Senate and President Donald Trump was making nominations.

Included in the list are three Supreme Court justices: Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Polls have shown public approval of the Supreme Court is falling — those who say it is too conservative are growing — but McConnell said popularity is not the standard by which judges should be evaluated.

“They’re not tasked with reasoning backwards from abstract impressions about what outcome the nation supposedly needs or the court’s public standing supposedly requires,” McConnell said. “We need the rule of law, not the rule of polls.”

Thomas has provided the example, McConnell said. “For 30 years and counting, you have had the brightest possible North Star illumining the path before you, the courage and fidelity of Justice Clarence Thomas,” the senator from Kentucky said.

Thomas is the second justice to appear with McConnell in the last two months. Barrett accompanied him to the University of Louisville for a speech at the center that bears the senator’s name in September.

“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” she said. Critics said it was not a choice setting for such a nonpartisan message.

McConnell is the politician most responsible for the change on the Supreme Court and in the federal judiciary, said Donald McGahn, Trump’s White House counsel. “He’s always had an eye on the long game,” McGahn said in introducing McConnell.

Democrats remain bitter about McConnell’s role. As Senate majority leader, he refused to allow a hearing on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court choice Merrick Garland in 2016, saying it was inappropriate in an election year. Garland was nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of that year.

Landscape with Cacti, Diego Rivera, 1931

It’s always disheartening to see minorities and women welcome their overlords. It’s something I’ve never understood. At least the animals at a livestock show don’t see what’s come but, damn, what person isn’t aware of the results of selling out? We’re seeing Republicans block every attempt to provide access to voting rights.  They’re gerrymandering Texas right now in a manner that over-represents white people and underrepresented Hispanic Americans.  This is from The Dallas NewsTexas’ latest congressional gerrymander wouldn’t pass muster under doomed Freedom to Vote Act. Senate Democrats seem to lack votes needed to push through scaled-down voting rights bill.”  Let’s face it. They want governance by white christianist men period.  

Congress is preparing for a showdown Wednesday on a doomed bill to protect minority voting rights that Democrats view as critical – and that, if it were in place, would derail the gerrymandered redistricting plan just finalized in Austin.

Republicans set aside a scant 14 of 38 U.S. House seats in Texas for Democrats, leaving the rest for themselves.

That’s 37% for Democrats, 63% for Republicans – a gap of 26 points that doesn’t even come close to passing muster under the Freedom to Vote Act, which uses recent federal elections as the benchmark to determine whether a congressional map is even modestly fair.

“There are serious voting rights issues on the map,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice.

He noted how blatantly the Texas congressional map that Gov. Greg Abbott will soon sign violates the proposed ban on partisan gerrymandering.

Republicans carried Texas in the last two races for president and U.S. Senate – but not by anything close to 26 points.

Sahuaro, Tucson, Arizona (1940) by Maynard Dixon

This analysis is from The Texas Observer and Justin Miller. “REPUBLICANS’ GERRYMANDERED MAPS TURN BACK TIME IN TEXAS. Once again, Republicans draw the lines of power to protect their incumbents and amplify their white, conservative, rural base—and deny millions of Texans of color their due political representation.”

With a quick glance at the new redistricting maps that Texas Republicans just rammed into law, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Lone Star State’s population became a whole lot whiter, more Republican, and more rural over the past decade.

But that is a political illusion achieved through surgical lines that create donut-hole districts, gnarled fists, and land bridges, drawn by a party desperate to avoid confronting the realities of a transformed state. People of color constituted 95 percent of Texas’ population growth over the past decade, including roughly half from Latinos alone, earning the state two new congressional districts. But Republicans used redistricting to effectively turn back time, locking in the white majoritarian rule that has controlled Texas since Reconstruction.

Democrats, voting rights advocates, and everyday constituents alike protested that the maps carved apart neighborhoods and voters of color in blatantly discriminatory fashion. But Republicans rushed through the legislative process with their fingers in their ears, providing the public with only a perfunctory chance to provide input as the maps advanced at a rapid clip. GOP leaders insisted that the maps were drawn “race-blind” and that their lawyers had assured them they were not running afoul of the federal Voting Rights Act.

By spreading out the electoral power of their white base in the vast expanses of deep-red rural Texas, Republicans shored up their current hold on power. They drew majority-white districts and fewer Hispanic majority districts, making red seats redder and blue seats bluer. This was done by defusing the ascendant political power of Latino, Black, and Asian voters in the cities and suburbs of Texas.

If this all sounds familiar, it should. During the last redistricting cycle in 2010, Republicans similarly maximized their political control with districts that courts repeatedly found were drawn with intent to racially discriminate. Those legal battles lasted through almost the entire decade. Now, more examples of brazen racial gerrymandering have cropped up in the new maps, just as they did 10 years prior. Take State Senate District 10 in Tarrant County. In 2018, a coalition of Black, Hispanic, and white voters flipped the seat by electing Democrat Beverly Powell. She may not have the seat for long; the new map transforms the 10th district into a conservative stronghold that dilutes Black and Hispanic votes by way of Republican voters in several nearby rural counties.

In the Texas House map, the GOP-held 54th district in Bell County had become increasingly competitive as the Black and Hispanic population grew in Killeen, which overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2020. To protect that seat, Republicans made the 54th into a Bell County donut that completely encircled another Republican district. Each district got a piece of the county’s two Democratic-voting cities, Killeen and Temple.

Districts like the 22nd in Fort Bend County and the 24th in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs had finally become political battlegrounds in the last election cycle as multi-racial coalitions banded together. “That was like a glimpse of the future of American politics. Very coalitional, very multi-racial,” says Michael Li, a redistricting lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice. But Republicans chose to dismantle those seats, packing diversifying areas into new deep-blue Democratic districts or cracking them off into Republican-held seats made whiter and redder by extending out into far-flung rural counties.

“Republicans are really scared of the suburbs because they’re becoming more diverse and because white voters in the suburbs aren’t as reliable for Republicans anymore and they’re not sure they’re getting it back anytime soon,” Li says.

Yellow Cactus, Georgia O’Keefe, 1929

So, hello from the Post Roe v. Wade reality.  This is from NPR. “The Supreme Court keeps Texas abortion law in place, but agrees to review it.”  Mitchell has obviously been the fluffer for this.  Notice he didn’t need to fluff Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a controversial Texas abortion law on Nov. 1 but refused to block the law while it examines Texas’ unusual enforcement scheme and whether the Department of Justice has the right to sue to block the law.

The court will not directly consider the constitutionality of the law. Instead, in its order, the court said it would consider the following questions:

  • whether “the state can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil action”;
  • and can “the United States bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the State, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented with keeping the law in place.

“The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” she wrote. “These women will suffer personal harm from delaying their medical care, and as their pregnancies progress, they may even be unable to obtain abortion care altogether.”

She added:

“There are women in Texas who became pregnant on or around the day that S. B. 8 took effect. As I write these words, some of those women do not know they are pregnant. When they find out, should they wish to exercise their constitutional right to seek abortion care, they will be unable to do so anywhere in their home State. Those with sufficient resources may spend thousands of dollars and multiple days anxiously seeking care from out-of-state providers so overwhelmed with Texas patients that they cannot adequately serve their own communities. Those without the ability to make this journey, whether due to lack of money or childcare or employment flexibility or the myriad other constraints that shape people’s day-to-day lives, may be forced to carry to term against their wishes or resort to dangerous methods of self-help.”

We may all have to become flowers that bloom in a democracy desert quite soon. I’m glad BB covered the Republican cover-up of the insurrection yesterday so I can just forget it a bit here. We’re going to have to organize and show up again.  Get ready.  This will be a wild News Day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


10 Comments on “Friday Reads: Mitch McConnell keeps trotting out his Prize Livestock”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a good weekend!!!! I’m still working on getting the mitigation folks over here to make a bid on cleaning up my bathroom and attic.

    Hope y’all are okay!

  2. NW Luna says:

    Sotomayor’s dissent sums up what’s at stake with clarity and forthrightness.

    Also, it’s a relief to read “woman” instead of “birthing bodies” or “host bodies” (insulting language from the left and right respectively).

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      This. So many areas — not just NOLA — have developments vulnerable to storms, flood, earthslides. A lot of it because many humans think “it can’t happen that often” or because there aren’t records going back even 100 yrs –plus areas upstream have changed over the decades. Most of us don’t think in terms of other than less than a human lifespan.

      In Seattle about up till about 40-50 yrs ago houses were built on slopes vulnerable to landslips, especially during winters of heavy rains. One year there was above-average rain and several houses slid, were covered in mud avalanche debris, and lives were lost. Afterwards, Seattle tightened up the building codes to prohibit building on slopes above a certain angle. There are still old driveways visible on slopes here and there. And still too many houses built which are at risk of sliding over a several-decade span. I have relatives who bought property and live on a 100-yr flood plain, in an area which has only been keeping records for about 60 yrs. They are RWNJs, so if their property is swept away one of these winters I won’t be too sorry for them.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Nice paintings, dak. I especially like the Georgia O’Keefe. I hadn’t seen that one before.

  7. NW Luna says:

    BB, this may interest you. Weird — what could be behind it? I’m suspicious of conspiracy theories, but this makes me wonder.