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True Blue Door

True Blue Door's Journal
True Blue Door's Journal
July 16, 2014

Who We Are (A Rumination)

I hate conservatives. Like, seriously hate them. In their attitudes, their values, and their actions they embody a rejection of basic humanity - a rejection of conscious rationality in favor of blind violence, a rejection of the connections among people and life in general in favor of dividing the entire universe into themselves and everything else. And they pack so much malice and desire for destruction into every word they speak on political issues that it's a wonder they don't give everyone listening to them instant cancer. They are, fundamentally and completely, something very wrong with the world.

Long before I was old enough to understand political issues, I could sense that about them - that what came out of them was something vile and diseased, and had far more to do with the things that were wrong with them as people than with any honest assessment of the world around them. They don't try to persuade you of their viewpoint, because they don't have a viewpoint - they simply have an idealized self-image, and try to violently propagate that image by carving it into the people around them.

Ask yourself what drives conservatives to the absolute most intense state of rage: It isn't when their fears and prejudices are confirmed - quite the opposite. You will never see a conservative more comfortable than when everyone around them is living down to their most prejudiced expectations: This is their Paradise, their idea of The Natural Order. Their pettiest, most unexamined impulses, reflected in the world around them rather than challenged by it. But confront them with a person who shatters their prejudices before their eyes, and the reaction will not be humble, contemplative, or grateful that the world is a better place than they assumed. No, you will see them at best annoyed to be discredited, and often enough in a state of barely-contained murderous rage that anything they don't already understand dares to draw breath in their world.

Ever wonder why the Confederacy made learning to read a capital offense for slaves while simultaneously insisting they were subhuman morons incapable of a white man's intellectual thinking? This is why. It isn't that the people of this arch-conservative dystopia literally, factually believed their victims were dumb - it was simply a convenient position to take to justify doing what they did, and the truth was immaterial. What conservatives do - the crimes they commit, the havoc they wreak on the life around them - is a direct and inextricable expression of their existence, so telling them to not behave like that, or even so much as challenging the lies they cavalierly tell to excuse it, is from their perspective a direct assault on their souls.

If another person's very existence challenged them in this way - say, a highly intelligent slave capable of arguing the best white academics under the table - that did not cause a reexamination of their opinions and values, it simply caused that slave to be murdered. That is who conservatives are: It's who they were in the past, who they are today, and who they always will be - a psychological parasite that scars and disfigures human societies into photographic negatives of life, love, and truth. They believe fundamentally in only one thing: Power. Everything else they define as a function of power, much like the Inner Party member O'Brien in 1984, who insists to the protagonist that he can make 2 + 2 = 5 through the power of torture. They are People of The Void, who define being right as the state of having successfully suppressed everyone from contradicting them.

So...I hate conservatives. I hate them on an aesthetic level, as something ugly and disheartening to witness. And I hate them on a personal level because they waste our time fighting twilight struggles over settled matters of obvious fact when our country and our species could be so far ahead of where it is by now. All because they're such living abortions that they can't look in a mirror, admit that anything about themselves could be better, and actually try to be better instead of forever trying to jackhammer every leprous crack in their diseased minds into divine commandments that others most worship and obey.

But if the story of who we are ended with this understanding, we would always be just sad little sparks of light forever in orbit around the conservative black hole - never falling in, but our future forever controlled by what we reject. We already allow it to dominate so much of our time and energy, obsessively staring into the abyss of the latest conservative crime against humanity that we forget to get on with the business of humanity. We forget, in all the obstruction and sabotage they constantly throw our way, that we don't actually need their permission for the vast majority of what we want to accomplish - and that most of what we already have accomplished arose from roots far beneath the level of grandiose federal programs.

It's easier to pornographically focus on Creationist madness and climate denier corruption than to live in the headspace of science and understand its enemies for the desperate, self-limiting dead-enders they are. It's easy to be infected with the conservative negativism, that sees a world of holes and flaws, like some kind of philosophical body dysmorphic syndrome, rather than see the living, growing things that we are and that we represent collectively. And that sad state - that eternal enslavement to the infinite voids between rather than the infinite presence of what is there - is the source of a large part of my differences with some of the more ideological strains of left-wing politics that can never seem to escape from that conservative black hole. They will always sullenly orbit what is wrong, like eternal Accusers standing sentinel, rather than breaking away entirely.

I can never be on board with those of us who consider positivity morally suspect - who find more fault the more that is achieved, because they consider reality a corruption of pure ideals. I can't hang with that, because that's not what motivates me. My liberalism is not a blueprint in my mind for a Gothic cathedral that no mortal hand can build, some perfect system or program that would solve everything if not for those Dirty Betrayers in The Establishment who can never seem to get right what my imagination always achieves flawlessly.

My liberalism is reflection, exploration, and elaboration without end. It is science, without end. It is the maximization of possibilities and the practical human liberty to pursue them (as opposed to the merely negative, libertarian ideology of "magical" liberty they believe somehow pops into existence in the absence of government) - again, without end and without fixed form. It is Life, forever, everywhere, in all possible forms and combinations.

Whether anyone else shares this view or even understands what I'm saying, it's nonetheless staggering to me - a holistic understand of the source of my values and politics in which any given issue is the tiniest grain in a vast ecosystem of thought and understanding. And from that dizzying vantage, the towering conservative devourer of light and hope I mentioned earlier shrinks to nothing at all - a meaningless bit of empty space traversed in the pause between heartbeats. When you think of things in context, conservatives stop being so formidable or even worthy of concern: You see them for the fretful, crippled little cave creatures they are. We live in a bigger world than they would even want to imagine, let alone be capable of imagining.

At this point, there is still one philosophical danger that can trap a liberal mind: The temptation to take pity on conservatives and try to somehow include them - to educate and enlighten them into being something more than they are. You can teach the sad little sparks trapped in orbit of the conservative black hole how to escape, but there will always be the minds within it that can never escape, and trying to "rescue" them from their ignorance just means you pour your energy into an infinitely deep hole. That can lead to frustration and resentment, and ever-growing amounts of effort and obsession devoted to trying to somehow "reverse the polarity" of minds that will always be tuned to negative.

And all that time this is happening, the black hole of the conservative mind simply grows in your field of view, until it's all there is - and then it's too late, because you're in it. Even if you don't call yourself conservative, you're some bitter misanthrope who ignores opportunities for positive change and belittles everyone who makes it as being not up to your perfect standards. You end up in your heart cheering other loser-misanthropes who commit pointless acts of petulance while dismissing or even demonizing people who build and explore. The entire history of Communism is one giant cautionary tale exemplifying this danger - the soaring eagles of 19th century progressive intellectualism tried to penetrate that conservative event horizon in the 20th and "rescue them from themselves," and instead merely added their own passion to its gravity by building horrific dystopias.

We are in no danger of repeating those mistakes, but we can still learn from them to be okay that there will always be conservatives, and they will never, ever learn anything or become better people than the most violent and heinous of their historical counterparts. Our part is simply to refuse their influence on ourselves, both direct and indirect, and build all possible roads away from them broad and well-paved, with signs legible to any who can read.

More concretely, in terms of the Democratic Party, this means a party that does as much as possible on its own initiative and never depends on cooperation from Republicans to accomplish things - but is also perfectly open to it when any from the GOP, for whatever reason, feel like doing something for their country rather than what they normally do. One that spends as much time as possible achieving, and devotes as little time as possible to caring what Republicans say and do, because the best and most absolute victory is to make them irrelevant. It further means a Democratic base that takes an identical disposition with regard to elected leaders and establishment figures, accomplishing things ourselves by default rather than treating grassroots politics as nothing but an impotent demands-and-complaints machine.

Everything we have today was built by progressives who took this attitude: Who didn't wait for the passage of federal programs when they could move on state ones; didn't wait for state programs to pass when they could build local ones; and didn't wait for local ones when they could just do something themselves as individuals. So they were able to leverage their individual actions to pass local programs, leveraged the local programs to pass state programs, and leveraged the state programs to enact nationwide changes. And when institutions were just hopelessly corrupt and unjust, they simply withdrew their recognition and social consent, and the power of the political leaders responsible withered until it could be brushed away by someone who better represented the public interest.

They did not sit in despair, looking at the power of the robber barons who ruled their institutions, and wallow in passive-aggressive apocalyptic fantasies. They saw that what they wanted was not there, so they built it and it grew. That's who we are.

July 13, 2014

Describe your pefect America

Don't just imagine America as it is with the things you dislike subtracted, or with some missing benefits tacked on: Really exercise some creativity and tell me about the America in your heart. It should be a country in the real world, inhabited by real human beings who have not magically been cured of the things that drive people wrong, but a country where the culture and institutions emphasis what is right, good, just, and beautiful. Show me your perfect America.

July 9, 2014

Experience existential horror by watching this video.

It's not a video of war or crime. Not a video of abuse or poverty. Not a video of urban decay or neglect. Not a video of politicians lying or authority figures behaving cruelly. In fact, it would probably be utterly innocuous on a smaller scale. But this will make your soul die a little:

July 7, 2014

Campaign Theme: Republican Congressional Candidates Draw Public Paychecks to Do Nothing

Are Republican Senators and Congressmen not the epitome of everything they claim to be against: People who literally do nothing, yet demand to be paid (six-figure salaries no less, not including perks and payola) from taxpayer money for it?

They do nothing. Nothing whatsoever. And they want to continue to be paid by taxpayers to do nothing.

In fact, they do less than nothing, because they won't even allow anyone else to do anything.

They draw public paychecks to sit around swilling cocktails with their contributors, and cannot even be bothered to do something to benefit the country that pays them.

Lunatic Randian sociopaths would probably applaud them for this, since on their planet "The government that governs least governs best," but very few ordinary voters think this way. The vast majority even on the right have concerns that extend beyond the Millionaire Agenda's obsession with taxes and regulation, and they expect the people they elect to take action on those concerns. That's where to hit the GOP.

Republicans are hostile to every subject other than reducing taxes on millionaires and exempting corporations from all laws and regulatory limits. And Democratic candidates can prove it, easily.

Democrats can prove in 2014 that their Republican competitors are lazy, useless parasites asking for taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing nothing but sabotaging the very purpose of their jobs.

Contrast their high-paying non-performance with their extensive history of mocking American workers. Use their own line against them: "If this Republican were employed in the private sector, would they still have a job if they did it like this? You be the boss: Fire this leech in November."

Or to a Republican challenger, "Would you hire this guy to sit around your house, eating your food, and doing nothing but getting in your way? That's what he's asking for. Tell him what he wants to tell you the instant he gets into office: NO."

If Democratic insiders and base activists can overcome their natural tendency toward suicide-by-autopilot, I see no reason why committing to a strong, coordinated message can't overcome GOP advantages this cycle to a modest extent.


Additional thought:

This could make a superb TV / web ad: A fat, disgusting slob with a GOP button is reclining on an easy chair in someone else's house while the homeowners look on in frustration. "Thanks for letting me stay here, folks. I'll get to work as soon as I can, maybe sometime next year." They try to walk past him toward a cabinet with drawers prominently labeled "Healthcare," "Jobs," "Education," and "Self-respect," but he blocks their passage with his legs. "You don't want to go there. Oh, by the way, I borrowed your car and trashed it. Sorry, stop signs are just Big Government. So...can I stick around for another 2/6 years?" Give the slob a pronounced Southern accent in every state that doesn't have one, and make him sound like a New Yorker in the version played in the South.

July 6, 2014

Exhaustive (and exhausting) list of obstacles to Democratic victory in 2014.

In no particular order...

1. Gerrymandering. Republicans have gone about gerrymandering with a strategic focus similar to business investment - using each round of it as a means to expand rather than merely protect what they have. The results have been an increasingly undemocratic partisan proportion that in no way reflects the American electorate, at times - like 2012 - resulting in GOP majorities in legislative bodies when the majority of voters had voted for Democrats.

2. Prison districting. This is a long-standing issue whereby rural, strongly conservative districts choose to locate prisons in their territory. The inmates of these facilities, most of whom cannot vote or wouldn't vote anyway, are then counted as constituents, resulting in quite a few Republican districts that would not otherwise exist or would have to be combined into one. I've read studies claiming that the GOP would not have won a single Congressional majority in the past three decades without this undemocratic phenomenon.

3. Jim Crow 2. Thanks to 5COTU5's ruling striking down key portions of the Voting Rights Act, and the high likelihood they will make further lawless decisions attempting to decide elections in favor of the GOP in advance, it is extremely likely that minority voters will face obstacles to voting unprecedented in generations. This only compounds the demographic tendency of low-income and minority voters to sit out midterm elections. Remember, that Tea Party operative who threw out voter registration forms in 2012 was never prosecuted by the Republican prosecutor in that area, so expect such tactics to be implemented on a massive scale this time around.

4. Perverse Blame. Bizarre as it seems, some people seem to think Congress is currently run by Democrats or even the President, and that they can just wave a magic wand and overcome absolute obstructionism. The Senate, which does have a Democratic majority, still has to deal with filibuster obstructionism, and obviously cannot dictate anything to the House.

5. The media is full of unhinged right-wing propaganda. But what else is new?

6. 5COTU5's lawless decisions turning elections into auctions. Since the rich are largely Republican, and since more of the middle and lower classes sit out midterm elections, the GOP will simply buy their desired result through even more pervasive right-wing propaganda campaigns than normally flood the media. The truth will simply be shouted down and locked out, lies will be believed for lack of any sufficiently-scaled challenge.

7. A distracted / priority-incompetent left. Again, what else is new? Achieving something will always be less important to some people ostensibly on our side than self-satisfaction.

8. 5COTU5 can always pull another Bush v. Gore if all else somehow fails them. They have shown their willingness in the past to simply throw out and arbitrarily decide elections as they see fit, and their level of brazenness these days approaches infinite.

9. Outright election-rigging is likely in some areas. No matter how many advantages right-wingers have in a legitimate election, they will always prefer a guaranteed result. They've tried before, and they've succeeded often enough to reward their efforts. Every election cycle makes their efforts more organized and increases its scale. With a newly energized Tea Party / brownshirts at work on behalf of their millionaire masters to end democracy in America once and for all, and knowing 5COTU5 has their back, expect new depths of brazen authoritarianism to be plumbed.

So...what are you gonna do about it?

July 6, 2014

A Year Ago I Posted a Change.org Petition to Impeach the 5COTU5 Five.

The petition was in response to 5COTU5 making up its own laws in order to strike down critical portions of the Voting Rights Act that had stood for decades, and doing so out of nakedly partisan motives to affect the outcome of elections.

At the time, I had warned fellow liberal activists that literally nothing they were doing would mean anything while these people controlled the Supreme Court, because these tyrants in robes had abandoned all pretense of being legal professionals. Scalia et al would, quite simply, strike down any liberal law or uphold the government punishment of any private liberal behavior they did not agree with, uphold or protect any conservative law or private act they did agree with, and make up whatever preposterous excuses they felt would be just non-laughable enough to avoid a pitchfork-wielding mob.

Well, apparently there is no "non-laughable" limit to their outrageousness, because they are no longer even pretending to be basing decisions on the law. I warned my fellow activists in another site that the trend would continue and accelerate, that they would be facing a steady drumbeat of decisions lawlessly disfiguring the face of our republic and replacing the Constitution with a set of arbitrary, radical right-wing ideologies. Their by and large dismissive response - the petition got only 175 signatories - was that there was no need to worry, and we should continue doing exactly nothing but whining and conducting business as usual.

I asked how they intended to conduct viable election strategies if/when 5COTU5 had so disfigured election laws that obtaining Democratic majorities ever again becomes impractical. (*crickets*)

I asked how they intended to change the composition of the Court if such electoral victories were made unfeasible. (*crickets*)

I asked how they intended to pass laws on behalf of their agenda even on the state level if 5COTU5 would just arbitrarily strike them down. (*crickets*)

I asked point-blank how ANYTHING they were doing could achieve ANYTHING while this group were in control of the Supreme Court. (*crickets*)

Being in this situation is awful, but hopefully I can be forgiven for indulging in a slight bit of schadenfreude at the fauxgressive flotsam who not only did nothing in the face of a Constitutional emergency, but deliberately did nothing as a statement of their masochistic political viewpoint that it's the progressive's job to Always Be Losing. They not only dismissed the entire notion of impeaching Supreme Court Justices (despite the clear Constitutional authority to do so), but equated me with conservatives who want to impeach liberal Justices for doing their jobs, because of course there is no objective reality and morality is just an opinion. That was their mentality, these worthless, do-nothing nihilists.

As angry as I am at 5COTU5, I am equally angry at those opiate-coma-inducing idiots who - for one reason or another, I have no clue why - continue to pretend they are liberal activists, but always blanche in terror at the idea of actually doing anything more assertive than passively criticizing whatever circumstances are imposed on this country by the traitorous radical right. Such "cocktail party progressives" seem to infest our movements and our psyche with their learned helplessness and do-nothingism, and this latest 5COTU5 assault on the Constitution fills me with loathing for them.

Apropos of the recent news that Democrats in Congress are trying to introduce legislation imposing a Code of Conduct on the Supreme Court, I would say this: That is a totally unnecessary delay, never mind that it won't pass and that (chuckle) 5COTU5 would simply strike it down even if it did pass.

Supreme Court Justices can already be impeached for Abuse of Power, and that is exactly what The Five conservative oligarchs have committed many times over. But if the issue is too murky in most of the Five's cases, just go after Scalia - he, at least, is also flagrantly corrupt in addition to being a lawless traitor-tyrant.

Here is the language of that petition, now closed, after having received only 175 signatories:

Whereas the relevant provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) have been key to secure the right of millions of Americans to have a voice in their government for generations, and countless Americans have fought, suffered, and even died to secure those rights...

Whereas those provisions of VRA have been crucial to protecting the rights of minority voters in recent years as partisan attempts to illegally suppress minority voting have intensified...

Whereas the equal right to vote is fundamental to the liberty and security of a free republic...

Whereas the current Supreme Court majority have shown a pattern and practice of issuing lawless rulings designed to radically change the laws of this nation in order to increase the electoral performance of the Republican Party...

And whereas the aforementioned ruling striking down key parts of the VRA is a nakedly partisan, lawless, and inexcusable attempt to assist Republican election efforts in 2014 by eliminating key mechanisms against minority vote suppression tactics...

It is necessary for the defense of the rule of the law, the legitimacy of the Courts, and the rights of all Americans that the President and the Congress condemn the ruling in the strongest possible terms, reject it as invalid and lawless, and immediately call for inquiries into passing articles of impeachment against Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy for abuse of power.

I had limited the language to the VRA ruling because it was the most timely, but you could also insert the role played by 3 of the current 5 in Bush v. Gore, and also Citizens United, among other, less famous cases.

Can we FINALLY ignore the fauxgressive perpetual losers who counsel business-as-usual and actually formulate an activist agenda based on a clear understanding of what is going on? Can we FINALLY directly address the situation rather than acting out the same helpless kabuki like animatronic Stepford Activists while the cancer spreads unchallenged?

I urge someone with more experience than I in these matters to take up the cause of 5COTU5 impeachment.
July 5, 2014

A Reproductive Rights Moonshot

With the help of 5COTU5 and state medical regulations, it seems that Forced Birther forces have found a potentially winning strategy in their war on reproductive rights: (1)From the provision side, load abortion clinics down with so many regulations that it becomes a practical impossibility to continue operating. And (2) from the demand side, create so many economic disincentives - including allowing employers to violate federal law and refuse coverage for contraception on religious grounds - that it becomes a practical impossibility for the demographic most vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy to afford abortion.

These strategies are typically underhanded and unconstitutional, but having subverted the Supreme Court there is little chance that any but the most clumsily-worded of these assaults will fall through legal challenge or reinterpretation in the foreseeable future. There is also little chance of state legislatures dominated by religious conservatives suddenly becoming socially liberal, so simply reversing what's been done would be a long, vertical climb with little chance of success and no intermediate achievements likely. So, short of reproductive rights activists becoming radicalized - which seems unlikely given the extreme imbalance in commitment between the two sides - it seems the only path forward is to think outside the box. If we do this, I think there is a possibility of winning once and for all, in ways so complete that nothing short of a Constitutional Amendment banning abortion could reverse it.

Rather than endlessly complaining and waging judicial trench warfare over the obstacles conservatives have created, we need to simply circumvent them - make them irrelevant. So think about this:

1. They have made abortion geographically unavailable by sharply reducing the number of clinics. How do we address this: Eliminate the need for clinics altogether.

As I say this, you are probably thinking about doctors making house calls, or mobile clinics, but any of these would still be subject to state medical regulations, and thus could be banned or so heavily regulated that it becomes financially impractical. Again, short of radicalization - i.e., large numbers of doctors ignoring the regulations and being willing to martyr their licenses and their livelihoods to perform abortions - we have to think further outside the box than this. We need to think even more ambitiously. The clinics are only the immediate manifestation of the problem, so more fundamentally...

2. We need to eliminate the need for doctors in obtaining abortions. A doctor is an extremely vulnerable bottleneck in the process of abortion provision: An affluent, highly-trained professional who has invested years if not decades into their practice, and almost none of them would be willing to jeopardize that by directly challenging state laws and regulations. Doctors, unfortunately, are currently necessary in abortion because the process is delicate and can lead to complications that need a medical professional to be involved. Which leads us to my next point...

3. Abortion needs to advance technologically. The safety, simplicity, and reliability of abortion must advance to the point that a doctor is no longer a necessity in the process. These advances can be done incrementally, with stepwise increases in availability and safety, because it would still be a remarkable level of progress if you merely needed a nurse to be involved rather than a doctor: Nurses are a lot more numerous than doctors, make far less money, far more of them are women, and you can bet more of them would be willing to violate regulations if Forced Birth states still insisted that a doctor be present if they knew they weren't jeopardizing the safety of the patient by performing one themselves. But that is just a stepping stone. The Moonshot referred to in the title is...

4. Abortion needs to be safe and simple enough to be self-administered. I realize this is a highly ambitious medical technology goal, but if it's achieved we would be 95% of the way to total and permanent victory for reproductive rights in this country. Nurses, being medical professionals, would still be subject to scrutiny, retaliation, terrorism, and perverse regulation (i.e., regulations intended to prevent rather than enable what is being regulated), so the need for any professional at all needs to be eliminated from the abortion procedure. Given just how ambitious a goal this is - it would frankly be easier to perform your own dentistry - we can identify some intermediate goals toward self-administration:

4a. Performed by a friend or family member with no medical training in the presence of a non-interfering medical professional. To be performed by a non-professional would require the procedure be approved by the FDA first, but since the FDA is federal, a fair shot at approval once the technology is safe enough is reasonably likely. That doesn't mean no political interference would happen at all, but the process is likely to ultimately resolve in favor of whatever a fair medical assessment would be.

On the state level, there are some legal niceties involved in this: I.e., a doctor cannot be legally compelled to either intervene or leave the premises simply because there are people performing an unlicensed abortion in the patient's own home, so states couldn't just insist that doctors intervene to stop it or else leave. That would never pass constitutional muster. So long as they play no role whatsoever in the procedure, but are on hand to provide emergency care if called upon, the federal courts (including, most likely, even 5COTU5) will probably find they cannot be held liable or criminally culpable by states.

States could still potentially wreak professional havoc by trying to revoke licenses, so still a problem - but less of one than needing to do the procedure themselves, and also less for nurses than for doctors. So those are some sub-increments: a(i) in the presence of a doctor, a(ii) in the presence of a nurse.

4b. Performed by a friend or family member with no medical training, with guidance from a non-present professional via video conferencing. This muddies the waters a bit, since a doctor or a nurse can be anywhere in the world while offering guidance through a high-resolution video conferencing system. You could actually combine this function with 4a, having a distant doctor or nurse verbally guiding and visually monitoring the process who is outside the jurisdiction of the Forced Birth institutions creating the obstacles, and then a physically present doctor or nurse who remains uninvolved and silent unless an emergency occurs. You could do any combination thereof (call that option 4ab) that you find convenient: Net doctor, present doctor; net doctor, present nurse; net nurse, present doctor; or net nurse, present nurse.

4c. Performed by a friend or family member with no medical training, alone. Even with your FDA-approved process that can be performed by non-professionals, there could still be some liability issues: Forced Birth states could opportunistically try to charge the non-professional performer with a crime if something went wrong, but that would be difficult to sustain without a 100% Forced Birth jury, especially with proper documentation detailing the patient's consent and trust in the performer.

Such states could also try to criminalize the procedure altogether, but of course, that likely wouldn't pass muster since abortion is Constitutionally protected. But even if they did somehow manage to criminalize it, once again we're talking about something people can do in their own homes with a trusted friend or family member, so a ban at this point would be unenforceable under the vast majority of circumstances.

4c. Performed by the patient alone. Once you are confident enough of the technology and procedures, and the FDA has ratified your confidence by approving it for self-administration, you are close to full reproductive liberalization. Even if states tried to ban or tax or regulate the equipment out of existence, you could buy it over the internet and circumvent their obstacles. Attempts to punish women for self-aborting would be unenforceable and quickly struck down as unconstitutional. But this isn't the end of the process, because there are still things that need to happen to achieve complete victory:

5. The cost of liberalized abortion must be at or below current costs. It does little good to invent safe, self-administered abortion if the needed equipment costs $10,000. That in itself would represent an insurmountable obstacle for most people. In fact, even current costs are on the high end - between $300 and $1,500. Economically, the main problem is that abortion clinics can spread the Fixed Cost of their equipment out over many patients, while a single patient doing a self-abortion is probably not going to use the equipment again, so they have to swallow the entire Fixed Cost if they outright buy it. That's where business strategies come into effect - you could have rentals rather than purchases, or anonymous pooled ownership.

Those are just a couple of ideas, but there are actually tons of possibilities in this area. And once you eliminate the need for the Baghdad-level security that Forced Birther terrorists impose on abortion clinics, and also all the paperwork and bureaucracy further imposed by many state governments, a huge amount of the cost imposed on clinic patients disappears. But first and foremost it's a technology problem - making the equipment cheap enough, but also safe enough, for self-administration to be practical. That means it will have to differ substantially from the technology currently used at clinics, and incorporate all sorts of new methods and innovations to make it simpler, safer, more intuitive, etc. Unfortunately, medical technology moves pretty slowly precisely because the human body is so complex and small things can have outsized consequences on it. So the term "Moonshot" is fully appropriate here to describe the difficulty and probably cost of achieving these advances.

But even then, having cheap, safe, self-administered abortion, you're still dealing with bottlenecks in the supply chain that are vulnerable to interference if/when the federal government is again taken over by the radical right as under Bush: I.e., only one or a few companies licensed to sell these products. So if what we've achieved in the description so far is total victory, the next step would ensure the victory is permanent:

6. Release the patents for the equipment into the public domain, and publish how to build it on the internet on ultra-secure servers around the world. This could give rise to "open source abortion equipment" community. Even those who stick to purely theoretical designs because they don't want to hassle with FDA approval might contribute to reducing cost and complexity on paper until someone else does try to get approval and commercialize designs based on their work. The endpoint of such a process, however far away it is, would be that ending a pregnancy would be something a woman does herself, safely and affordably, with a wide variety of equally safe technical options to fit her budget and schedule, that no authority or terrorist group could interfere with in any practical way on any effective scale.

Q: Why not a pill?
A: Ideally abortion would come in the form of an all-encompassing pill whose formula and synthesis procedures are all public domain and published online, but the complexities of chemistry are such that I think this is actually more complicated and less likely to happen than developing a self-administerable extraction procedure. The statistically minimal dangers of terminating a pregnancy are well-understood, but the consequences of a chemical compound that did the work for you would be very complex and take a lot more time to map out - as the tortuous journey of even the "morning after" pill RU-486 can attest. Even finding such a compound or combination thereof would be ludicrously difficult. You would probably have to run high-throughput computer simulations for decades to even generate a list of viable candidates, let alone conduct physical trials.

Q: How might such a process as you describe begin?
A: My thinking is that a combination of wealthy reproductive rights activists and Kickstarter (or other crowdfunding sites) campaigns could pool resources and form a medical research organization toward this objective. They could rigorously break down the technological and economic advances needed to get there, and develop a plan for funding and perhaps commercializing each step along the way. Every single step that is achieved toward this goal would be progress in and of itself: Progress that doesn't need the permission of 5COTU5 or some corrupt legislature.

This is how we win. This is it. If we keep fighting the same old battles, having the same old arguments, they'll wear us down and erode reproductive rights in this country until they no longer exist. That's what's been happening, and that is what will continue to happen unless we change the nature of the struggle - unless we decide to finally and completely win this long and preposterous conflict for basic freedoms the other side should have simply conceded decades ago. But they have made it clear that they are fanatically determined, that no tactic is too low for them, and they will respect no law or moral principle that gets in their way, so it's long past time to drop The Big One: Make their opposition irrelevant - hand every single woman the practical means to determine her own reproduction with no possibility of interference or obstruction.

P.S., If anyone likes this idea enough to run with it, please do so: I myself am just a thinker, not a leader. And while this may be presumptuous to say, please feel free to republish this anywhere if you find it worthwhile.

July 3, 2014

Dear SCOTU5: What if your religious beliefs require you to rob Hobby Lobby blind?

According to the five oligarchs who now apparently have carte blanche to rewrite the Constitution as they see fit, Hobby Lobby, Corporate Person, has a Constitutional right to rob its employees of the costs of contraception that federal law requires them to pay for on behalf of the religious beliefs of its owners. So I have a question.

If that naked theft on behalf of religious belief is constitutionally protected, what if someone has a religious belief requiring them to rob Hobby Lobby? Is that protected?

In that case, would it be a protected religious expression to, say, swarm a Hobby Lobby store with dozens of people simultaneously and strip its shelves bare?

Would it be a legitimate expression of religious liberty to partake in the sacrament of its merchandise falling off trucks and cargo ships?

Personally, I think I'm having a religious awakening to the fact that God wants building inspectors, fire inspectors, and OSHA inspectors to take a special interest in the premises and practices of this business.

And who says that filing Federal Trade Commission complaints by the thousand cannot be a spiritually enlightening experience?

Any Hobby Lobby employees who hold these religious beliefs should exercise their SCOTU5-created rights by developing Holy Amnesia as to where they left critical paperwork whose absence will cause their employer large amounts of money.

Woops, sorry, the Lord giveth inventory information and the Lord taketh away inventory information.

I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't mean to delete the entire company's corporate accounts information. It's just I have this religious belief that hitting the Delete button is a sacred ritual.

July 2, 2014

The Zeroth Amendment: The Basis of All "Modern" Conservative Jurisprudence

On casual inspection, one might be tempted to think that the conservative Roberts court and its predecessor under William Rehnquist made a lot of thoroughly arbitrary, random, and contradictory decisions in service to conservative ideology. Sometimes they argued from federalism, sometimes from state's rights; sometimes defended individuals, sometimes the power of the State; and oftentimes their arguments in each where mutually exclusive to standards they later applied to find the opposite. But in every case where the Court reached 5-4 mutually exclusive decisions with its own earlier precedents, there was one constant that actually puts it all in perspective.

Think of it as the Zeroth Amendment to the US Constitution - an unwritten Amendment that preempts all others, and justifies discarding them completely when they become inconvenient to it: Thou shalt not inconvenience the rich, or through inaction allow them to be inconvenienced. When you take this concept into account, suddenly all of the chaotic lunacy of right-wing jurisprudence over the past several decades seems utterly self-consistent.

Take the most recent abomination, the 5-4 finding that Hobby Lobby as a Corporate Person has the Constitutional right to impose its religious beliefs on its employees and violate federal law by refusing to cover contraception. Let's dissect every aspect of the madness: First and foremost, obviously, is the concept of Corporate Persons itself. Corporate personhood is not a new legal Lie - it actually arose from the previous period in American history when the rich ruled with impunity, the late 19th century. But it had lapsed into irrelevancy for generations before being revived in the post-Reagan era as a justification for exempting corporations from the authority of Constitutional government while giving them its full protection.

Now, what is the primary mechanism through which the rich enact their will? The corporation. Ergo, any limit on the corporation is a limit on the privilege of the rich. Thus, via the Zeroth Amendment, we have seen a steady succession of lawless decisions declaring such lunatic doctrines as the idea that a business - basically a machine organized to achieve the one-dimensional objective of maximum financial profit - has Constitutional rights, among them the right to purchase political influence and sway the outcomes of elections purely by force of money. Since the rich are culturally accustomed to all things being for sale and getting their way entirely by buying it, imposing a democratic system on them - even the shallow patina of one - would be an inconvenience, and thus a violation of their Zeroth Amendment right to buy the election outcome of their desire.

The most recent case, while it superficially regards matters of religion, is actually just another case of the Court saying that the rich can do whatever they want with impunity. After all, the case isn't about a religious organization that doesn't want to cover contraception costs, but about a very wealthy for-profit corporation. So the real question was not one of religion, but of money: The owners of Hobby Lobby have more money than their employees, ergo they have greater rights under the Zeroth Amendment and its associated jurisprudence.

Even the 2nd Amendment, with all the seeming absolutism of its most fanatical adherents, is largely just an auxiliary to the Zeroth Amendment. Think about this: To whom does the NRA owe primary allegiance - gun owners, or gun manufacturers? Clearly the latter, since it overwhelmingly opposes measures that are opposed by manufacturers that would if anything benefit consumers of their products. It is 100% focused on maximizing the profits of the industry and literally nothing else. If you were to introduce legislation guaranteeing that every adult non-felon must be issued a gun at cost (i.e., no profit) by firearm manufacturers, the NRA would shriek it into oblivion, and the same gundamentalist madmen who would effectively have been calling for such a measure the day before would propose every conceivable conspiracy theory to denounce it.

Because, once again, the Zeroth Amendment is their guiding light, not the 2nd Amendment: The gun industry is obscenely rich, and besides that, is instrumental in the violent enforcement of the Zeroth Amendment rights of all rich people and their attendant Corporate Persons.

This also explains the absolute Republican obstruction of tax increases despite their own hollow rhetoric attacking budget deficits: They don't care about deficits - they just (a)refuse to raise taxes on the rich (the Zeroth Amendment forbids it), and (b)refuse to fund anything that benefits anyone other than the rich, because that dilutes their power (and thus, once again, the Zeroth Amendment forbids it). It is their one and only Law, the one and only right they recognize, and all others either do not exist as far as they are concerned or are mere rhetorical tools for enforcing the Zeroth Amendment.

I'm not saying this is a principle they consciously adhere to, any more than most Fascists consciously adhere to the principle that power is the only morality: It's simply a fact at the root of their thinking and behavior, demonstrated overwhelmingly and repeatedly. Thus we find that US conservatives, while not quite the nightmare that fascism represents, are at least a cousin to it: Where fascists find sole vindication in the act of eliminating opposition, this (equally totalitarian, but less dramatic) group of sociopaths find sufficient and exclusive vindication in economic leverage. So the US conservative's ideal world is not a battlefield, but a slave auction.

Let us not kid ourselves about where this is going either: The ultimate end of this process will be the granting of voting rights to corporations, which will then be extended to the point that elections are literally auctions rather than merely taking on the aspect thereof due to unhealthy influence. I am not exaggerating for effect: This will, I think, literally occur. And at that point the unwritten, unjust, and insane Zeroth Amendment that exists in conservatives' heads will be in direct existential conflict with the Constitution as written and understood by the American people and every legal scholar who is not a raving psychotic.

But given the meekness with which every step toward that abyss has been met by even the liberal activists of this country, one can't help but wonder if that final step off the edge will be regarded as anything special, or just met with the same cowardice and lethargy as the rest.

The alternative is, at least for now, to acknowledge among ourselves that the decisions the Roberts Court has reached in these Zeroth Amendment cases are lawless and without authority. That they are literally just raving ideologues, two of whom were illegitimately placed on the court by an unelected President, finding according to their fanatic religion of money in direct violation of the laws they were charged to interpret and reconcile.

In other words, we have to step back from the zombie attitude that the Constitution is whatever the Court says it is, and state unequivocally that when their decisions are so far removed from reason, jurisprudence, and the rights of the people that they are effectively creating their own secessionist state via their decisions, we have to take the position that we reject these decisions - not merely "opine" that they are wrong. Because they are not merely wrong, they are fundamentally outside the Court's purview. The Zeroth Amendment, folks, is the seed of right-wing totalitarianism that they've tried to plant without having to win elections or pass Amendments, but simply to put five people on the Supreme Court who will interpret it into existence and strike down any law challenging it.

That is a coup d'etat, not a shift in judicial philosophy. Whether striking down critical portions of the Voting Rights Act or holding the corporations have the Constitutional rights of individuals, this court is attempting to interpret the Constitution out of existence and put in its place a completely different form of government. And like all forms of government, to really come into effect, this Zeroth Amendment state needs your tacit permission to function - it needs your agreement to abide by the lawless, alternate-universe, Neo-Confederate findings of this revolutionary right-wing Supreme Court.

If activism opposing these decisions is explicit that these decisions are lawless and hold no authority, then at least this country has a chance, because we will have kept alive the crucial idea that the Constitution is a pact with each and every one of us - not some obscurantist divine doctrine that only some insular priesthood is qualified to understand and interpret.

At least speaking for myself, the Supreme Court has since 2000 greatly weakened its own authority where I as a citizen am concerned. And where decisions like Citizens United, the ruling striking down parts of VRA, and this Hobby Lobby case are concerned, it has no authority whatsoever. Corporations are not persons. They do not have Constitutional rights. Money is not speech. The United States of America has never agreed to a Zeroth Amendment, and will never agree to one. And if it ever comes to a point where these decisions are interpreted in a way that directly limits my freedom rather than merely diluting it by empowering corrupt forces, I will defy any such move and exercise my rights anyway - not merely complain or argue.

While the assault on our rights remains indirect, defying it will be harder, but at the very least we can deny them what fraction of authority comes from treating their actions as legitimate. For now, we can settle for stating as a fact that: Corporations do not have the rights this Court asserts, because such would plainly violate the rights of the people as explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution, and we as citizens pledge to take no action that would implicitly or explicitly recognize such privileges, nor fail to take lawful actions denying those privileges for fear of retribution.

Sorry if I've rambled, but this decision really got my goat. There is no such Zeroth Amendment to the Constitution, so conservatives really need to stop interpreting laws as if there were one, and we need to stop pretending that their acts of radical undemocratic revolution are differences of opinion undertaken lawfully by legitimate authorities. We need to acknowledge that these decisions are not part of the jurisprudence of the United States of America, but the dogmas of a schismatic revolutionary state with no legitimacy.

June 13, 2014

The World Is Coming to A Middle!!!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have dire news: The Middle is Nigh. Repeat: The Middle is Nigh.

The signs are all around us. Most have heard of the Book of Revelations in the Bible, but there is a less-well-known prophetic Scripture called the Book of Reasonable Occurrences that foretells the Coming of the Middletimes:

And lo, I beheld the Four Pedestrians of the Ad-hoc-alypse. Upon the waist of the First Pedestrian was a golden fanny-pack emblazoned with the chilling words "Stagnant Economic Growth Coupled with Signs of Improvement in Some Sectors."

Upon the brow of the Second Pedestrian was tattooed the words "Greatly Improved Prosperity Among the Masses of the World While Some Previously Wealthy Nations Become More Economically Polarized."

The Third Pedestrian did blow upon a horn, and carved into the horn were the words "General Global Peace and Stability Causing the Relatively Few Instances of War to Appear More Shocking By Comparison With Typical Conditions."

The Fourth Pedestrian wore a black turtleneck sweater, and his voice did proclaim the final harbinger of the Middletimes: "Social Media Causing Some Level of Societal Dislocation Balanced Out By Greater Opportunities for Personal, Political, and Career-oriented Engagement."

The signs are clear: The Middle of The World is upon us! The Time of Difficult But Surmountable Challenges Coupled with New Opportunities and Capabilities is at hand.

I personally have received a Vision from God on what must now be done, and am Chosen to deliver his most solemn and mystical message unto you. Said the Lord unto me: "Thou must engage-est in reasonable dialogue and undertaketh a course of sensible planning over a moderate timeframe to achieve logical objectives. If thou hast any questions, comments, or reactions, please sendeth them via Twitter."

It will not be easy, but it will not be terribly hard either. Our faith will be tested, although the test will be graded on a curve and extra credit points will be assigned for effort and creativity, the Lord assures us.

Jesus, now halfway between First and Second Comings, will send an Instagram Update on his progress that will not bring any sinners to their knees, but may inspire meaningful reflections among a statistically significant part of the population.

The Mighty shall become awkward and inconsistent.

The Meek shall become Average and develop more advanced life-skills.

Issues shall be Mitigated to a Modest Degree.

So Sayeth The Lord. Amen.

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Name: Brian
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About True Blue Door

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.
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