Every week about this time, I struggle to keep myself from writing something to the effect of, "wow, what a week this was, it can't get much worse." I just don't want to tempt fate. But as fate would have it, and with or without mention, fate always seems to have it. And how.
A "bipartisan" Congress shocked the country this week when they passed the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act," which enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21 years of age, provides billions for mental health services and closes the so-called "boyfriend loophole" to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years.
"At least it's something," muttered a nation still burying dead children from the last school massacre. Not much of a bill; if a kid can get a hold of beer, weed, and someone's car keys, you can bet he can still get an assault weapon. Because it's still easier to buy an assault rifle than to buy Sudafed™, get a driver's license, or adopt a pet. "But at least it's something."
Before the president could even sign the bill - and celebrate the tiniest breakthrough in bipartisan lawmaking - the Supremes decided things were getting a little too chummy. The Court threw out a New York law that regulated their approach to gun-carry licenses. In fact, they ruled that the "Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” In effect, it appears that there are now very few limits that states or local governments can pass to limit the public carry of most street legal guns.
But dear reader, you know that it went even further downhill from there.
The Court struck down Roe v Wade. It's a decision that changes a half-century of abortion law. A decision that several court members promised not to touch during their confirmation hearings. A decision that will impact women's health in every corner of America, but one that will impact the poor and the disenfranchised the most. It's a decision also that will impact birth rates, social welfare, education, foster care... the list is endless.
Nine years ago to the day, Texas Senator Wendy Davis stood up to filibuster an intensely restrictive abortion law here in Texas... one that called for abortions to be banned after 20 weeks, clinics to upgrade their facilities to be classified as surgical centers and doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. They would have forced 37 of the state's 42 clinics to close. Senator Davis's filibuster essentially worked (though it would be passed in a second special session,) and she would become a hero to progressives and moderates looking for someone to take on Texas Republicans. She was pressed to run for governor. With no one else on deck, she did run. Gov. Abbott beat her handily (around 60 - 40%.)
A memory came up in my Facebook feed from that day... after the hard-fought filibuster and the threat to women's health care, I threw up one of my favorite quotes. I suggested that the famous (yet apocryphal) line delivered by actor Sô Yamamura, playing the Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in "Tora, Tora, Tora" after the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, might reflect the moment. "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve," Yamamoto uttered in the film.
One could envision after that day in 2013 that enraged and awakened Texans, that they would organize, mobilize, and rise up to defend the right of women to make their own heath care decisions. And yet - Abbott is still governor today. Roe has been overturned, abortion decisions are now entirely states' issues, and in Texas, that means banned entirely.
Will the overturn of Roe finally awaken moderates and progressives and fill them with resolve? Will Democrats put forth electable candidates that can work together on policy and turn this around? Will millennials and other young voters finally find cause to show up en masse to the polls? Would there be enough women (and their allies) in rural areas to switch over and vote for women's right to choose? Will there be Hispanic candidates strong enough to thwart the current (successful) influence that Republicans are having in growing their strength in the Valley and along the border?
Clarence Thomas doesn't want to stop at Roe, it seems. He serves up an even darker scenario than could have been imagined even a few weeks ago.
Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that prompted concerns about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.
Democrats never seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity as the saying goes. Could this though, finally fill us all with that resolve? Will it be enough to overcome all the gerrymandering and other voting roadblocks? It's not hyperbole to believe it may be the last chance we have.
Rather than start with all of our "old white guy" writers, let's start with Myra, who was pretty much in full rant & rage mode after the news.
As horrible as things have been since Wendy's filibuster (and the subsequent passing of Texas's anti-abortion bill,) other states ought to view Texas as a conservative crystal ball and get an honest read of the potential future under unrestrained Republican leadership. James Moore explains... if one can explain the modern GOP.
Roger Gray reveals what we all suspected. He can't make up his mind. And the Supreme Court decision on abortion is one of those subjects that frustrates both his liberal and conservative friends. It's a Hobson's choice that confuses even Hobson.
DeeceX simply couldn't bring himself to turn on the news. As previewed last week, he attended his 50th (!) high school reunion. After having avoided reunions, it not only shielded him from the depressing events of the week, he actually enjoyed it. Maybe even came away a new insight or two.
John Nova Lomax dropped us a note that he had some health concerns that put him in the hospital this week. We wish him the best and hope to have him back her soon. Grackles are keeping watch o'er his hospital window. Get well, John.