Thursday: Hili dialogue

September 2, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, September 2, 2021: National “Grits for Breakfast” Day.  The scare quotes are baffling, but don’t let them scare you: grits are very good, though I’ve met many misguided people who reject them. Here’s the optimal breakfast: grits, fried eggs, country ham with red-eye gravy, and the world’s best biscuits with homemade fruit preserves, all consumed during a seminar trip to Nashville with breakfast at the Loveless Cafe. The grits are in the bowl at upper right, first picture.

I bet you’re hungry now.

It’s also World Coconut Day, Pierce Your Ears Day, and Victory over Japan Day, celebrating the day in 1945 when the Japanese ended WWII by surrendering aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.  Here’s I photo I took when touring the ship, which now rests in Pearl Harbor; there’s a plaque on the deck where the surrender took place:

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screensht) celebrates the life and achievements of Rudolf Weigl, born on this day in 1883 (d. 1957). He’s described by Wikipedia as:

. . . a Polish biologist, physician and inventor, known for creating the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus. He was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1942 and 1948.

Weigl worked during the Holocaust to save the lives of countless Jews by developing the vaccine for typhus and providing shelter to protect those suffering under the Nazis in occupied Poland. For his contributions, he was named a Righteous Among the Nations in 2003.

He helped by Jews by employing them in his lab (the Germans were too scared to enter) and by supplying vaccine to partisans and people in the ghetto. News of the Day:

The remnants of Hurricane Ida have devastated New York City, flooding it and killing at least 8 people.  Central Park got 3.1 inches of rain in just an hour, and nearly all the subways are closed.

The new and highly restrictive Texas anti-abortion law went into effect yesterday, prohibiting all abortions after about six weeks of fertilization (the key feature is a fetal heartbeat). Further, there are no exceptions for rape or incest, making it extra inhumane. To make the law even more nefarious, it was designed to make it difficult to sue the state of Texas over it.  (The law violates Roe v. Wade, which allows abortions up to the point of fetal viability outside the womb—ca. 6 months.) Look at this!:

Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants. However, the Texas law bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who need not have any connection to the matter or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees.

In other words, the law intimidates anybody abetting an abortion, including doctors, from helping, while deputizing all Texans to sue to enforce the law, paying them off to the tune of ten thousand bucks (plus legal fees). And if the defendant wins, they don’t get the legal fees.

You might think that the law was designed to go up to the Supreme Court as an attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade. But the way it was written makes it unclear if it can even go to federal courts as opposed to Texas state courts. A consortium of abortion providers appealed to the Supreme Court to stop the law from coming into effect, but the court was silent. I’m not sure whether, given the law, they can even stop it, in which case it will be a model for other states that want to control women’s reproduction. Roe v. Wade will, however, be adjudicated by the Supreme Court in its fall term, which will rule on a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. Like many, I’m worried about both of these laws.

The Associated Press did a fact check on Biden’s promises surrounding the evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan. And they found that promises weren’t kept. These include his vow to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until the last Americans were out. Further, his claim that the remaining 100-200 Americans there were mostly “dual nationals” who decided to stay because they had family in the country isn’t true either: most were desperate to get out, but had no way to get to the Kabul airport. Biden added that if, in two weeks, those dual citizens want to leave, “we will get you out.” I wouldn’t count on that!

The Washington Post reports that a judge ordered an Ohio hospital, against the hospital’s advice, to give the horse dewormer ivermectin to a patient on a ventilator with Covid. His wife got the horse medicine, insisted that the hospital give it to him. The hospital refused, and the woman sued. The judge is a moron.  (h/t Randy)

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 642,451, an increase of 1,418 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,546,683,, an increase of about 11,600 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 2 includes:

  • 31 BC – Final War of the Roman Republic: Battle of Actium: Off the western coast of Greece, forces of Octavian defeat troops under Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
  • 1666 – The Great Fire of London breaks out and burns for three days, destroying 10,000 buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral.

Here’s a painting of that fire, with the Wikipedia caption: “The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675), as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666. To the left is London Bridge; to the right, the Tower of London. Old St Paul’s Cathedral is in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.”

The first is said to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the 80,000 inhabitants of the city. The death toll was small, with six reported victims, but that figure might omit the poorer and unrecorded people of London.

  • 1898 – Battle of Omdurman: British and Egyptian troops defeat Sudanese tribesmen and establish British dominance in Sudan.

Here’s the victory that elevated General Kitchener to fame, as the British defeated a force twice their size. Present at the battle was Winston Churchill, both participating and reporting on it.  Here’s a painting of a British charge from Wikipedia:

(From Wikipedia): The charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman. Source: Uploaded form the German Wikipedia : de:Bild:21lancers.JPG

Here’s a short video about the invasion of Danzig; it seems that many locals are celebrating. There’s also a scene of Hitler addressing the Reichstag.

  • 1944 – The last execution of a Finn in Finland will take place when soldier Olavi Laiho is executed by shooting in Oulu.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Japanese Instrument of Surrender is signed by Japan and the major warring powers aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Here’s a video of the surrender, which took place off Japan:

Here’s Nehru and Gandhi in 1942. Nehru, of course, also became India’s first Prime Minister.

I visited Peggy’s Cove and the crash memorial in Nova Scotia a few years ago, but the crash was 8 km offshore (it was caused by an uncontrollable fire). Two paintings by Picasso were also lost in the crash.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1946 – Billy Preston, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor (d. 2006)
  • 1948 – Christa McAuliffe, American educator and astronaut (d. 1986)

This was sad, as McAuliffe was selected to be the “teacher astronaut”, and all her students were surely watching the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, in which she and the other six members of the crew perished.

  • 1964 – Keanu Reeves, Lebanese-Canadian actor, singer, and producer
  • 1966 – Salma Hayek, Mexican-American actress, director, and producer

Hayek as Frida, asking Diego’s opinion from the 2002 movie “Frida“:

Those who went back to dust on September 2 include:

“Cat” by Rousseau (1863): a lovely tabby!

  • 1964 – Alvin C. York, American colonel, Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1887)
  • 1973 – J. R. R. Tolkien, English novelist, short story writer, poet, and philologist (b. 1892)

Here’s a 1964 BBC interview (released in 1971) with Tolkien about Lord of the Rings. The interviewer is Denys Gueroult.

WORK???!!! Maynard G. Krebs, perhaps the first Beat on television (he was on the Dobie Gillis show), always had a strong aversion to the notion of work:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is anxious:

Hili: I’m missing something.
A: What?
Hili: I don’t know.
In Polish:
Hili: Czegoś mi brakuje.
Ja: Czego?
Hili: Nie wiem.
And a photo of the lovely Szaron resting:

From The Dodo. I love this. Cats in love! (h/t Stash Krod):

From Science Humor:

From Moto:

From Titania, who wrote an article about Oli London, a Brit who has come out as transracial and had multiple surgeries to look Korean. They (using London’s preferred pronoun) aspire to resemble a male Korean singer, Jimin. I hadn’t known about this case. Oli is also bisexual, but transracialism isn’t approved by the woke, however sincere it may be, and they’ve received considerable criticism.(I still think transracialism is not always to be denigrated and that arguments about it are made up to preserve race as more than a social construct.) Titania’s piece, which of course is a spoof, is here.

Masih shows a video of an Iranian woman being publicly rebuked for not being modest enough in covering her head.

Today’s tweet from the Auschwitz Memorial. She lived three months after arrival.

A tweet from Barry. As we know from David Attenborough, lyrebirds are fantastic mimics of all kinds of sounds, including chainsaws, camera shutters, and car alarms (don’t miss the linked video!). Here a lyrebird in a zoo mimics what can only be a crying child.  Sound up, of course.

From Simon. Oded Rechavi takes weird videos and uses them to draw analogies to academic science. Here’s a good one:

From Ginger K. I trust the colors have not been enhanced or manipulated here, but I don’t know.

A frog (species unknown to me) sheds its skin, as all frog do. And, as usual, the shed skin is eaten, as it provides a little nourishment:

Javalinas are also known as collared peccaries, and are delightful, though noisy and smelly beasts. A friend and I were once overrun by a big herd of stampeding javelinas in Texas’s Big Bend National Park, and were plenty scared, but they just raced around us and left us alone. Here a group of them cross a road, with a straggler racing to catch up:

55 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Just one question concerning the hurricane. Why would anyone want to live in New Orleans?

    Poor women in Texas will be wondering, should I live in Afghanistan or Texas.

    1. I’d like to live in New Orleans, but I’d have to have enough money to have a house out of town for when storms come.

      General Philip Sheridan, who after the Civil War commanded the military district that encompassed Texas, famously observed that, if he owned Hell and Texas, he’d rent out Texas and live in Hell.

      1. Yes, unfortunately I lived in Texas for more than a few years and it was often 2 degrees hotter than hell.

        But concerning the comments about hurricanes and would you live there….I lived in Okinawa Japan for 5 years. Typhoon alley they call it. We had at least two major typhoons every year. In all that time we did not even lose electric power. That is what you can have if you build for the place you live.

        1. I’ve always wondered about living in Okinawa: it seems like living in Japan (which I like) AND without the Japanese winters – real Hawaiian weather – what could be better? I didn’t know about the hurricanes but it figures they’ve got it under control, they have SO MANY natural torments they’re expert at disaster preparedness.

          NYC (formerly Tokyo)

    2. You can say that about most places. Don’t think it’s rational to live in a place that gets hit by hurricanes? Well your other options are places that get hit with river floods. Or earthquakes. Or volcanic eruptions. Or drought. Or tornadoes. Or blizzard. Etc.
      Pretty much every place on Earth that humans want to live, will occasionally have some extreme weather phenomena. It’s a matter of “pick your poison.”

      1. Except that hurricanes are more predictable than most other weather-related (or geology) events.

        I’ve lived in Minnesota for around 35 years, total. Never been hit by a tornado. Plenty nearby; but never hit. Over the same time, my cousins in Florida have endured many hurricanes.

      2. I’ve lived in CA for most of my years and experienced a few major quakes. Very few people actually die in them and they are over in minutes. Of course, we might get the really big one and one might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I much prefer it over the heat that occurs in TX and NO every year and the hurricanes that are now growing even more frequent. Still, NO is a fun place to visit except in summer.

      3. Oh Japan is uniquely blessed with crappy nature: LOTS of earthquakes, mudslides, floods, hurricanes, serious level volcanic eruptions, tsunami, extreme snowfalls, etc. No droughts, so there’s that. 🙂
        Oh, and virtually no toxic monotheism either!

    3. Just one question concerning the hurricane. Why would anyone want to live in New Orleans?

      The food, the music, and the architecture are the first three things that come to mind. Is there a point you were trying to make?

  2. It may take a few years, but I predict SCOTUS will take up a case like the Tx one and overturn their mechanism (i.e. the “private civil right of action” concept). Why do I say that? Because that concept can easily be applied to many other situations, it undermines the legal concept of standing, and our conservative judges aren’t going to like it when that right of action is used against conservative causes.

    So here’s an example. Let’s say tomorrow, CA legislates a “a private civil right of action” against oil companies on envrionmental laws. I.e., any Californian can sue companies like Exxon, or any individual Exxon employee, for aiding and abetting the violation of CA pollution laws.

    How about this one: Oregon legislates a “a private civil right of action” permitting any Oregonian to sue gun manufacturers and gun sellers for $10k + legal fees for any time they fail to follow the laws regarding background checks and the like. This includes individual sellers. They further legislate that gun manufacturers and sellers can’t recoup legal feel even when they win.

    Does anyone here think SCOTUS would refuse to take these up? Does anyone here think they would view such laws as constitutional?

    As I said, it may take a few years. They’re probably happy to let this mechanism work against abortion clinics. But the moment sauce for the Planned Parenthood goose becomes sauce for the Exxon or 2nd Amendment gander, they’re going to strike it down.

  3. I don’t know what the issues are around Ivermectin, other than that it’s associated with Trump, or whether it is any use in Covid treatment, but it has been used safely, and apparently to great effect, as an anti-parasitical in humans since the 70s. It seems misleading to characterize it as a horse-drug.

    1. I am not sure what the Dr in front of your name means but the head of the AMA was on TV yesterday and he was very upset with this legal system (judge) who ordered the hospital in Ohio to give this to a Covid patent. Ivermectin was developed as a heart worm medicine for livestock and is carried as such in many farm stores around the country. You cannot fine it on the shelf now because of all the Trump, Fox viewers who are buying it up. The anti-parasitical form you mention is not on the shelf in the farm stores. It is prescription only by a doctor and must be given only after checking all other medications a person might be taking. And by the way, it has no proven ability against the virus.

    2. When it’s called a horse drug they are talking about ivermectin medication made and sold for the treatment of horses. It isn’t misleading at all. It’s precisely correct. People are buying it from veterinarians. Many are clueless but loyal conspiracy nuts and take the drug in doses far exceeding recommended dosages for humans, especially easy to do when the medicine is packaged in doses intended to treat horses rather than humans. And many get sick from the drug. For example, Mississippi’s poison control hotline has been overwhelmed by people self-medicating on horse ivermectin.

      There are of course ivermectin medicines made for humans, but you can’t get them from a vet and most doctors won’t prescribe them to people for treatment or prevention of COVID-19. With good reason. As the producer of ivermectin, Merck, says

      “- No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies;
      – No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and;
      – A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”

      I’m pretty sure that given an opportunity to make money by increasing their ivermectin sales by an order of magnitude or more that Merck would do that. But they aren’t. I wonder why? Because they are following the science?

      What authority do you think non-experts should trust on the question of efficacy of ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19? Stories on the internet, almost entirely from non-experts, or the medical science experts that figure stuff like this out for a living? People expect answers instantly, especially people that don’t have a clue how hard it is to get truly accurate information on things like this. It takes time. But there is no doubt at all where you should place your bet.

      1. Yup, and the poison control hotline problem isn’t just limited to Mississippi:

        In the US, prescriptions for the drug have soared from 3,600 weekly before the pandemic to more than 88,000 in a week last month, per CDC data. At the same time, poison control centers have seen calls related to ivermectin explode, reaching five times their usual rate in July, the Washington Post reported.

    3. Yes. It seems to me that the reason it is never mentioned that ivermectin is a safe, approved drug for use in humans is that some have characterized it solely as medicine for animals in order to play along with the trope that anti-vaxxers of the Trumpian stripe are the same idiots who thought drinking bleach would work. It’s ridicule, however well placed.

      The anti-vaxxers should not be taking ivermectin because it doesn’t work against SARS* and may be harmful. Ivermectin is a potent anti-parasitic with serious side effects. So like other drugs should not be taken for indications without approval or close monitoring by qualified doctors. The fact that it is also and more widely used in veterinarian medicine is often the only thing people focus on.

      *at least there is literally -zero- evidence that it does and by its MOA one would expect it NOT to work – it is an anti parasitic not an anti-viral med.

      1. I am not sure where it originated. However I do know there was a news piece a while back about a right-wing anti-vaxxer mother who had one kid with lyme disease. When she and second child got Covid, she basically self-medicated herself with her kid’s Ivermectin rather than follow her doctor’s advice. Then she went on right-wing social media and told her story. So that’s a possible origin. Nothing to do with veterinary use, more a matter of an ignorant know-nothing deciding to use a prescription her kid had for her own, off-brand use, and surviving.

        1. The problem with Ivermectin is not that it is widely used in veterinary practice, but that it is a single dose dewormer. IFAIK there are no serious studies about chronic use, apart from it’s known hepatotoxicity. The ICU specialists here are complaining about destroyed livers.
          There is no clear unanimity about its effects in Covid, but I notice that the studies claiming a positive effect are not peer reviewed.
          Another problem with Ivermectin is that it can mask the early symptoms of Covid, resulting in patients presenting very late, often or sometimes (there are no reliable studies about the frequency) too late to save them.

          I cannot fathom the reasons why some people rely on a medication the efficacy of which has not been shown, but known to have frequent serious side effects, while refusing tho take vaccines, whose efficacy has been shown, and that has only extremely rare serious side effects.

      2. In my experience it is often mentioned that it is a drug used to treat certain parasites in humans. Pretty much every criticism of ivermectin use for COVID-19 I’ve ever read or heard that was more than a couple of sentences long mentioned that fact.

        I agree, the reason “horse medicine” is mentioned so much is largely to ridicule the large number of people that actually are taking ivermectin produced, packaged and sold for use in treating horses. Many more people are getting the horse stuff from vets than getting stuff for humans from medical doctors because most medical doctors won’t prescribe it for treatment of COVID-19. I think ridiculing this behavior is appropriate and, trope or not, it also happens to be accurate. Are people not supposed to criticize the behavior simply because it is so ridiculous it makes the horse medicine users look like idiots?

        1. Calling it a “horse medicine” seems to be about ridiculing those who take it. In the same sense, erythromycin and neomycin are livestock antibiotics.

          A better way to describe it would be “Ivermectin, an antiparasitic agent used to treat parasitic infestations, inhibits the replication of viruses in vitro, although currently, evidence on efficacy and safety of ivermectin for prevention of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection and COVID‐19 treatment is conflicting. ”

          A medicine with a common use other than that which it has been approved for is not terribly unusual. Dr. Blancke is sitting across from me, and she mentioned three such medicines that she routinely prescribes for patients “off-label”. Her first example is Metformin, drug for blood sugar management, also prescribed for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Metformin is also used off-label for dogs with heart disease, although overdosage must be carefully guarded against.

          It is fabulously unwise to take it upon yourself to ingest potentially hazardous medicines without competent medical advice. Conversely, Trump or Joe Rogan’s personal opinion of any treatment should have no effect on whether or not it is found to be effective.

          The current (August 2021) issue of American Journal of Therapeutics published the following- “Moderate-certainty evidence finds that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin. Using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease. The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.”

          American Journal of Therapeutics does not seem to be a substandard journal, so at least it might be concluded that there is enough doubt that we should not yet mock people who take it. Especially people who contract Covid despite being vaccinated. Besides, which, it might clear up any scabies or pin worms the person might have picked up.

          I don’t have a horse in this race, so to speak. Those of us who contracted Sars, then Covid, and finally were vaccinated for the latter, are probably as immune as one can possibly be.

          1. More generally I don’t disagree with you, but you either missed the point or you are ignoring it in order to make the point you are interested in making.

            The point is that lots of people are taking medicine produced and sold for use in treating horses. In other words, it is true that people are taking horse medicine.

            It is also true that every single “here’s proof” of the efficacy of ivermectin for treating or preventing COVID-19 that I have come across and looked into is bogus. India’s 97% reduction due to ivermectin? Bogus. FLCCC? Fraud through and through. Fraud.

            To contrast with that, nearly every legitimate medical and medical research source that has said anything about ivermectin has said something similar to this, “It’s not yet possible to assess whether ivermectin works against COVID-19 because the data currently available are not of sufficiently high quality, he says, adding that he is reading other ivermectin papers in his spare time, looking for signs of fraud or other problems.” [Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, epidemiologist, in the Nature article Flawed ivermectin preprint highlights challenges of COVID drug studies].

            The statement by the American Journal of Therapeutics you reference is about a meta study that journal did on the current state of ivermectin trials, and which was significantly weighted by a large trial originally published via the preprint server Research Square. The paper has since been withdrawn by Research Square “due to ethical concerns,” after numerous sources showed serious flaws in the paper. AJT does say that even discarding that paper from their analysis that they think the data still shows that ivermectin has some efficacy. As far as I know they are the only relevant experts* that think that efficacy has been shown, and even they stress that more data is needed to approve ivermectin for use in treating COVID-19. (*No doubt there are others, point being they are a small minority.)

            This is all prelude to support my view that, yes, these people taking horse medicine because their doctors won’t prescribe them the human version of the medicine do deserve to be mocked. They deserve to be mocked because they are unwilling to take the available vaccines which exhaustive research and trials have shown to be both very safe and very effective, but are so willing to take a drug that has barely yet been researched for the intended use and that is known to have serious damaging effects when misused, that they’ll buy it from a vet in dosages intended for horses and then use the instructions from a fraud website on how to administer it to themselves. And they do this for ideological reasons. They’ve allowed themselves to be duped into this sort of stupidity due to their ideological commitment. If anything deserves mockery, this does.

            It doesn’t matter that if later, after proper trials have allowed medical experts to come to a consensus, that ivermectin turns out to be effective for treating COVID-19. That will not vindicate them. That they don’t understand that simply demonstrates that they don’t have a clue and really should be trusting the consensus of legitimate experts rather than trusting themselves and their non-expert sources.

            1. The gentleman in Ohio was not taking a veterinary product. And it does appear that he and his wife opposed the vaccine “because it was not fully approved”. The hypocrisy of their positions on the two drugs is certainly worth pointing out.
              But ones views on such things are liable to change once one has gotten to the point where the hospital had “exhausted its course of treatment and Covid-19 protocol”, and the patient is rapidly going down hill, after 33 days on a ventilator.

              I am of two minds on this. Often, people grasp at pseudoscience or fraudulent treatments when they are desperate. There are always charlatans ready to take their money with promises of false hope. Additionally, it is insane for someone to read about a miracle cure on the internet, then go out and buy a drug with a similar sounding name, or a version of the same drug formulated for a different purpose, and take it without regard to important considerations such as side effects drug interactions, or dosing calculations.

              On the other hand, These are unusual times. I can’t work up much outrage for a situation where a doctor decides to try an inexpensive and readily available medicine in situations where it is unlikely to do any harm, and might help. Unlike many other diseases, we cannot look at decades of research and treatment outcomes for the patients who are sick today.
              The doctors using ivermectin do not seem to be trying to scam anyone or get rich off of the drug. None of them are claiming that any treatment is a substitute for vaccination. They are administering a treatment that is unlikely to do any harm with the dosages used, and may be helping. Another concern is the danger of giving a placebo to part of the group being studied during a pandemic.
              In a couple of years we will know quite a bit more about what works and what does not.
              If we start with the assumption that Ivermectin is an effective treatment, one would still not expect any great rush to put it through the expensive and time consuming trial process that new drugs undergo prior to approval. The patent expired years ago. Merck & Co. has little financial incentive for this, as it is being manufactured globally, by lots of different companies.

  4. Here’s the optimal breakfast: grits, fried eggs, country ham with red-eye gravy, and the world’s best biscuits with homemade fruit preserves …

    I love grits and, for that matter, the entire traditional Southern breakfast. But have the people there heard about the ongoing cholesterol problem in the country? 🙂

  5. My youngest is a big fan of BTS, the K-pop band that Jimin – the singer who Oli London has had surgery to look like – is a member of. (I’ve clearly failed in her musical education.)

    The band has a lot of fans hence their 23 Guinness World Records (for things such as “Most streamed track on Spotify in the first 24 hours”, “Most viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours” etc.) so there’s a huge number of people out there ridiculing London.

  6. On the evac from Afghanistan: Yesterday, NPR played an interview with one US citizen who said, “I’m not leaving.” Not much you can do about people like that.

    Battle of Omdurman: Churchill was a young Lancer fighting in the battle and wrote an excellent book about the campaign: The River War, which I highly recommend.

  7. … the [Texas anti-abortion] law intimidates anybody abetting an abortion, including doctors, from helping, while deputizing all Texans to sue to enforce the law, paying them off to the tune of ten thousand bucks (plus legal fees).

    I think SCOTUS would have jurisdiction to hear the Texas case, despite the bizarre, vigilante procedures set out in the Texas statute, as violative of the constitutional right to privacy established in Roe v. Wade (and, before Roe, in the contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut).

    Thing is, though, any constitutional issues regarding the Texas statute may well be rendered moot before the case can wend its the way through the court system to SCOTUS, depending on what happens in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, set to be heard during the Court’s upcoming 2021-2022 term.

    The Mississippi statute at issue in that case bans abortions after 15-weeks’ gestation. Rather than asking SCOTUS (even in the alternative) to uphold that 15-week restriction according its terms, however, Mississippi has elected to make the case a full-frontal assault on Roe v. Wade and women’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion. This could not be made any more stark than by the statement of the “question presented” in the State of Mississippi’s initial brief: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

    The High Court is, thus, squarely presented with the choice of upholding or overruling Roe v. Wade (although it’s still possible the Court could resist Mississippi’s entreaty and limit its ruling to the State’s 15-week ban or chart some other middle course of its own devising).

    It all comes down to whether at least five of the nine justices are prepared to overrule Roe v. Wade. Conservatives, as we know, hold a majority of the seats on SCOTUS, by a six-to-three margin. Chief Justice Roberts — although personally opposed to abortion and of a firm belief that Roe was wrongly decided — is by nature an incrementalist, so will likely wish to go with a middle course. Question is, can he peel off at least one of the other five conservative justices to join him on this path? There would appear to be no chance as to the other two justices appointed by a Bush — Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito — or as to Trump’s most recent appointee, Amy Coney Barrett. That leaves Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

    As between the two, I think (and this is merely a gut feeling) that Roberts stands a better chance with Kavanaugh. To me, Kavanaugh vibes Lapsed Catholic, whereas Gorsuch swims in the confluence of Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism — probably the waters most likely to breed staunch anti-abortionism. Plus, if Keggers were to vote to overrule Roe v. Wade he will leave egg all over the face of Maine senator Susan Collins (admittedly not a difficult task, given that Collins is Maine’s answer to <a href=""Aunt Clara), since Collins voted to confirm Kavanaugh following their private meeting in her office from which she emerged absolutely convinced that Kavanaugh had much too much an abiding a respect for stare decisis ever to vote to overturn a precedent as well-established as Roe.

    If the Court overrules Roe v. Wade, we will be returned to the status quo ante — which is to say to time when the legality of abortion was left to the individual states (although there are far more blue states in which abortion is legal today than there were when Roe was decided in 1973) — unless and until, that is, abortion foes succeed in their ultimate goal of introducing and ratifying a constitutional amendment conferring “personhood” on fetuses (in which case, abortion would, eo ipso, constitute the crime of murder everywhere in the land).

    Thus, while women in blue states would (at least for the time being) remain able to terminate their pregnancies, red states, which have been champing at the bit to do so since Trump made his first SCOTUS appointment, will likely make abortions completely illegal, meaning that women living there — especially women without the financial wherewithal or contacts to travel out-of-state to obtain an abortion — will be without safe and legal means for doing so (although, as before Roe v. Wade, many will no doubt opt to terminate their pregnancies illegally and unsafely).

    1. To sue someone getting an abortion in a civil case, don’t you have to prove that somehow the person getting an abortion is harming the plaintiff? How can you prove that a stranger’s abortion harms another stranger? Can they just say the abortion hurts their feelings? Do feelings count in a law suit like this? It seems Texas wants to become some kind of dystopia where citizens spy on other citizens…welcome back to East Berlin. And that SCOTUS via another midnight ruling stays silent is unnerving- they’re just creating laws and/or ignoring laws by decree. The one branch of government that has NO accountability to voters is creating an American theocracy from on high and doing it in secret, without oral argument, public debate or input.

      The South is a bane on these United States…it’s beyond ridiculous that a few states, insane with religion, can drag the entire country down to their level of ignorance, injustice and cruelty.

      1. Yeah, normally that’s true. But this Texas law is special. It specifically bypasses that normal requirement to sue another person in civil court, demonstrating that you’ve been harmed in some way.

        The new Texas law enlists all citizens as bounty hunters and offers a bounty of $10,000 to anyone who can successfully sue anyone else for being involved in any way with an abortion, from the doctor who performs it to the Uber driver that knowingly transports the patient. It is some seriously sick shit. A common tactic of unscrupulous monarchs, dictators and fascist leaders. And I’m not confident, to say the least, that the Supreme Court will find against this law even if a case makes it that far. They just refused a request to stay the law until it’s legality could be tested.

        1. I didn’t know about the specialness of the law. WTF?

          And the Mississippi bill that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade outright will hit SCOTUS in October. Can’t wait! Seriously sick shit indeed.

          1. How long you figure it would take the current Court to enjoin a state statute that authorized private citizens to collect a $10k bounty from anyone who sold a firearm?

              1. Yeah, this law is going to backfire bigtime (I hope). I think people against this law should fill up the docket with false abortion “sightings”. Just fill up every real and virtual mailbox with false claims and accusations and watch the Texas legal system collapse like their electrical grid did.

                Ken, I would love to see a proposal like that from a blue state, using the same logic…”this is a civil thing, not a state thing”. I hope this is a case of the dog catching the car, but at this point, I don’t think the Trump justices + Alito/Thomas give a rat’s ass about anything but their theocratic agenda- they’re True Believers…aka fanatics. I’ve known people like them; it is very dire, as they have no problem cracking eggs to make an omelet.

              2. To be clear, you get the bounty if you show the provider violated the law. The law in question here says: the provider must look for a heartbeat, and if they find one, can’t do the abortion. So if the provider does the required ‘heartbeat detection’ process, and detects no heartbeat, and then does the abortion procedure, the suit would (in theory) fail. But still be costly to the provider since the law also states they are not allowed to recoup legal fees even if they are found in the right.

                So the equivalent with a gun seller would be: you win the suit and get the bounty by showing they didn’t do the legally required background check (or ignored some other sales law) – not merely for them selling a gun. Now, I bet most established brick-and-mortar sellers obey the gun sales laws, but I also bet you could bag a whole lot of bounties at a gun show.

                But successful suits might not be the big impact here. One of the obvious consequences of the “can’t recover legal fees” part of the law is that it allows conservative groups to drive abortion providers into bankruptcy defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits. A mirror law targeting gun sellers would probably have the same effect – every suit could lose, and groups opposing gun sales could still drive the sellers into bankruptcy with frivolous lawsuits.

              3. @Eric:

                So the equivalent with a gun seller would be: you win the suit and get the bounty by showing they didn’t do the legally required background check (or ignored some other sales law) – not merely for them selling a gun.

                The Texas law at issue prohibits abortions that are plainly constitutionally protected under SCOTUS’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. So what would be analogous is if a state were to pass a law prohibiting gun transactions expressly held lawful by SCOTUS in the Heller case, and then offered a bounty to citizens reporting such a gun transaction.

    2. Yes Ken, apart from the legal intricacies, it is the choice between safe abortions or unsafe back alley abortions. That is indeed how it is, the correct way to approach it (IMMO). There is no evidence (and quite a bit to the contrary) that making abortion illegal reduces the actual numbers.

      Luckily there are relatively safe ‘medical’ abortions with mifepristone plus misoprostol. Widely available on Internet. Still, I predict a thriving black market.

      1. Sorry, no ‘edit’ function:
        Luckily there are ,relatively safe ‘medical’ abortions with mifepristone plus misoprostol. Widely available on Internet. Still, I predict a thriving black market.

    3. Would a “we didn’t discern a heartbeat in this 12 weeks old fetus” be a workable defense? “I put my ear on her belly: no heartbeat”? does the law prescribe specific techniques?

      1. Yes, but I’m not sure what the law specifies in terms of procedure. I doubt the Tx legislature would let the providers themselves decide what ‘heartbeat detection’ process to use. It’s probably specified in the law what they must do. If not, you can bet it will be the first time your illustrative “we put our ear to her belly…” defense is successful.

        But also, as I said just now in another post, the successful suits might not be the main effect of the law. The main effect might be to drive providers out of business by forcing them to spend all their money defending against frivolous suits, since the law also states defendant providers are not allowed to recover legal fees from plaintiffs, even in the case where the court rules in the defendant’s favor.

    4. Mostly agree. Pre-Brennan, Roberts would’ve steered the court to a very narrow upholding of Mississippi’s restriction, leaving Roe “intact” but continuing to chip away at what is protected. But now the other five can overturn Roe completely without him, so they just might.

      I only disagree that if that happens, we’ll have to wait for a Constitutional amendment. If Roe falls, the Dems and GOP Senators like Collins will face immense pressure to pass a federal law protecting the right to abortion. In fact, multiple versions of such a bill already exist, ready to go – the only reason they haven’t gone anywhere yet is that the Dems don’t figure it’s worth blowing up the filibuster over. But if Roe is overturned the summer before the mid-term elections, I think we’ll see a much stronger pressure from the electorate to play hardball. That’s basically a perfect issue for them to run on, or pass and ride to reelection.

      1. Dems should run on it anyway, even if Roe isn’t yet overturned, as well as all the other things where the GOP is out of step with reality: pandemic protection, scamming citizens with lies, etc. They need to start playing hardball.

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