Wednesday: Hili dialogue

December 1, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to the first day of the month and een bultdag, Wednesday, December 1, 2021: National Fried Pie Day, a delicious Southern treat. (My favorite is peach.) It’s also these food months:

National Pear Month
National Egg Nog Month
National Fruit Cake Month

Ignore the egg nog and fruitcake Here’s a fried peach pie. Admit it: if one were put in front of you, you’d eat it!

We can dispense with the last two. It’s also Eat a Red Apple Day (I prefer tart Granny Smiths), Wear a Dress Day, National Christmas Lights Day, World AIDS Day, and Rosa Parks Day, celebrated in Oregon and Ohio on December 1, the day she was arrested in 1955 for refusing to sit in the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That was a major impetus for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which itself helped spur the Civil Rights Movement.  Here’s her mugshot after her arrest for refusing to “know her place”:

News of the Day:

*Omicron first: The variant hasn’t yet been detected in the U.S., but experts say it’s only a matter of time. In the meantime, Biden is preparing to impose very strict requirements for travelers entering the U.S., including covid-negative U.S. travelers:

As part of an enhanced winter covid strategy Biden plans to announce on Thursday, U.S. officials will require everyone entering the country to be tested one day before boarding flights, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Administration officials are also considering a requirement that all travelers get retested within three to five days of arrival.

In addition, they are debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days, even if their test results are negative. Those who flout the requirements might be subject to fines and penalties, the first time such penalties would be linked to testing and quarantine measures for travelers in the United States.

*More cause for concern about the new strain: The CEO of Moderna has pronounced that the existing Covid-19 vaccines are likely to be less effective against the Omicron variant than against other variants.

“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times in an interview.

“I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good.'”

I’m an ex-scientist who agrees. Be prepared for a quick rollout of a new mRNA vaccine, and then, of course, a new mutant strain may arise. Financial markets took this into account by dropping substantially.

*Dr Mehmet Oz, the television doctor who dispenses large dollops of quackery with his “advice”, has announced that he’s running for the Senate from Pennsylvania. Guess which party he’s representing? (h/t John).

*There’s a spate of abortion op-eds today, for this is the day the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the Mississippi anti-abortion law, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the state banned all abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. (Endangering the mother’s life, thank Ceiling Cat, is grounds for exemption.) The Court won’t decide today, but it won’t be all that long, and I’m betting that while Roe may not be overturned, it will be gutted. This is just one of Trump’s odious legacies.  So here are three op-eds:

*A NYT guest essay by Harvard Law professor Charles Fried explains the title: “I once urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. I’ve changed my mind.” Yes, it’s a clickbait title, but what are his arguments? Well, one was that there was no constitutional basis for allowing abortion:

Abortion implicates not only those liberties of the pregnant woman but also, in the opinion of some, the life of another person, the fetus. Although personally agnostic on that issue, I did not see how the Constitution provides a principled basis for answering the question. That Roe was a poorly reasoned extrapolation from Poe and the later Griswold case, which overturned the Connecticut law, was a position taken by many constitutional scholars, including John Hart Ely, Paul Freund and Archibald Cox. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg correctly predicted in a later talk at New York University, it was a leap that would shadow the law for decades to come. Perhaps better to have left it to legislation and the development of public opinion.

Sadly, we’ve learned that the states and public opinion are at odds on this one, with the public being far more pro-choice. But why the change of mind?:

. . . the law had changed since 1989. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, in 1992, a joint opinion of Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter reaffirmed the central holding of Roe and put it on a firmer constitutional basis: the dignity and autonomy of the pregnant woman and the equal rights of women more generally.

Since that time, Casey had been cited and used as a basis of constitutional reasoning in many decisions in many areas of the law, including gay rights and the parental rights of a surviving parent. The decision has not only taken root; it has flourished and ramified.

To overturn Roe now would be an act of constitutional vandalism — not conservative, but reactionary.

Well, I agree with his stand, but I think he’s grasping for legal reasons to keep Roe in place. While the Constitution allows equal legal rights for women, it ays nothing about “the dignity and autonomy of the pregnant woman.”

*There’s an opposing opinion right next door: Ross Douthat’s “The case against abortion.” His argument is nothing new:

At the core of our legal system, you will find a promise that human beings should be protected from lethal violence. That promise is made in different ways by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; it’s there in English common law, the Ten Commandments and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We dispute how the promise should be enforced, what penalties should be involved if it is broken and what crimes might deprive someone of the right to life. But the existence of the basic right, and a fundamental duty not to kill, is pretty close to bedrock.

There is no way to seriously deny that abortion is a form of killing. At a less advanced stage of scientific understanding, it was possible to believe that the embryo or fetus was somehow inert or vegetative until so-called quickening, months into pregnancy. But we now know the embryo is not merely a cell with potential, like a sperm or ovum, or a constituent part of human tissue, like a skin cell. Rather, a distinct human organism comes into existence at conception, and every stage of your biological life, from infancy and childhood to middle age and beyond, is part of a single continuous process that began when you were just a zygote.

Yes, abortion kills a zygote, but a zygote is not a human being, much less a sentient human being—any more than an acorn is an oak tree. We divide up continuous processes on moral grounds all the time: for instance, we don’t allow five-year-olds to drink, and many states have an age limit for charging people with “statutory rape,” even if the sex was consensual. Does Douthat’s Catholicism have anything to do with his opinion? Surely.

*For a personal view of a heartbreaking case, read the NYT op-ed by Michele Goodwin, a law professor at UC Irvine, called “I was raped by my father. An abortion saved my life.” Raped at 10 and pregnant at 12 by her father, her life and sanity would have been ruined under either the Texas or Mississippi laws (this is a case of both rape and incest). Note that she specifically criticizes abortion bans that don’t exempt rape or incest, and avoids the more general problem of abortions lacking those features.

*An academic hoax paper has surfaced which has gained traction because it confirms the fears of the Left. (h/t: Luana)

Higher Education Quarterly (a Wiley publication) which is just out with a howler entitled “Donor money and the academy: Perceptions of undue donor pressure in political science, economics, and philosophy.”

The study purports to demonstrate that “right wing” money is having a significant effect in pushing colleges to the right.

The first sign this is a hoax is that the article says the two authors, Sage Owens and Kal Avers-Lynde III, are on the economics faculty at UCLA, but I can find no record of their existence at UCLA or anywhere else, and no record of other publications by either author. I believe they do not exist. My suspicion is that the “authors” may be conservatives, or at least anti-leftists, who decided to see whether an article that flatters the deep biases of academia could get past peer review and into print.

There’s a lot more.

*Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 780,843, an increase of 893 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 5,236,948, 5,227,821,  an increase of about 9,100 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on December 1 includes:

John Quincy Adams was voted into the Presidency by Congress—the only President who won without a majority of both the electoral college vote and the popular vote.

Here’s the original document that freed the slaves, though of course it had no effect:

  • 1918 – Iceland becomes a sovereign state, yet remains a part of the Danish kingdom.

As of 1944, Iceland is a completely free and independent state.

  • 1934 – In the Soviet Union, Politburo member Sergey Kirov is assassinated. Stalin uses the incident as a pretext to initiate the Great Purge.
  • 1941 – World War II: Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.

Here’s the Emperor and his family photographed on the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941. Curiously, he was never indicted for war crimes; in fact, the U.S. protected him from such an indictment, and he continued to be emperor. His only “punishment” was that he had to renounce that he was an incarnated divinity.

Unable to marry a man because her birth certificate listed Jorgenson as a male, she became a trans activist as well as an actress, and gained enormous publicity. She went the whole nine yards, getting both hormone reassignment and her male bits removed. I still remember her from my early childhood. She was courageous in her outspokenness. Her photo:

See above.

  • 1988 – World AIDS Day is proclaimed worldwide by the UN member states.
  • 1990 – Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France meet beneath the seabed.

Here’s a 7-minute video of the Tunnel joining (click on “Watch on YouTube”):

  • 2000 – Vicente Fox Quesada is inaugurated as the president of Mexico, marking the first peaceful transfer of executive federal power to an opposing political party following a free and democratic election in Mexico’s history.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1761 – Marie Tussaud, French-English sculptor, founded Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (d. 1850)[19]
  • 1847 – Julia A. Moore, American poet (d. 1920)

Moore, known as “The Sweet Singer of Michigan”, is famous for writing really, really bad poetry—poetry so bad that it’s hilarious. She specialized in laments for the death of children (see a bunch of poems here). Here’s her photo; she’s the American equivalent of William McGonagall. (Don’t miss her poem “Little Libbie“, which contains these imortal lines:

While eating dinner, this dear little child
Was choked on a piece of beef.
Doctors came, tried their skill awhile,
But none could give relief.

She was ten years of age, I am told,
And in school stood very high.
Her little form now the earth enfolds,
In her embrace it must ever lie.

Her friends and schoolmates will not forget
Little Libbie that is no more;
She is waiting on the shining step,
To welcome home friends once more.

 

  • 1913 – Mary Martin, American actress and singer (d. 1990)
  • 1933 – Lou Rawls, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2006)
  • 1935 – Woody Allen, American actor, director, and screenwriter
  • 1939 – Lee Trevino, American golfer and sportscaster
  • 1945 – Bette Midler, American singer-songwriter, actress and producer

I love Bette. Here she is singing her well known song “Friends” with Barry Manilow, who helped her get her start. At the beginning of her career, they’d play together in gay bathhouses in New York City; he later produced her first album.

  • 1949 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist (d. 1993)

Here he is in a 1976 mugshot:

The Divine Sarah is 51 today and I’m always available for wedlock. Here she is talking to Jimmy Kimmel, with whom she had an earlier relationship:

Those who went “home” on December 1 include:

Everest was the Surveyor General of India, but had no connection with the mountain that bears his name: the world’s highest.  Here he is:

  • 1947 – Aleister Crowley, English magician, poet, and mountaineer (b. 1875)
  • 1947 – G. H. Hardy, English mathematician and theorist (b. 1877)
  • 1964 – J. B. S. Haldane, English-Indian geneticist and biologist (b. 1892)

“J. B. S.” as he was known, moved to India for the last seven year of his life. He adopted Indian dress; he’s seated on the left below:

  • 1973 – David Ben-Gurion, Israeli politician, 1st Prime Minister of Israel (b. 1886)
  • 1987 – James Baldwin, American novelist, poet, and critic (b. 1924).

You can buy a first edition and first printing of his great novel “Native Son,” for a mere $130:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn: Hili and Szaron are napping together (or rather, it looks as if they’re napping

Hili: Are you asleep?
Szaron: No, I’m just giving that impression.
In Polish:
Hili: Śpisz?
Szaron: Nie, tylko robię takie wrażenie.

From Divy:

From Athayde (click to enlarge):

From Bruce:

James Carville on Republican dumbasses like Lauren Boebert:

What happened to Lara Logan, who reported for “60 Minutes” for so many years? She went to Fox News and now is a complete whack job. Josef Mengele???

And a response to Logan from the Auschwitz Museum:

From Steve: Dawkins pulls no punches!

From Luana: A reponse to Dawkins. Oy!

From Ginger K:

Tweets from Matthew. Now here’s a cat who is not shy about making its needs known. That is, it’s a CAT:

WHO’S a bad cat? Raheem is!

57 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. It’s rather weird that, in America, laws are made by unelected justices rather than by elected representatives.

    The constitution actually says nothing about abortion, so any ruling (either way) will essentially just be made up based on the personal preferences of nine people.

    1. Laws are not made by Justices. Justices decide upon challenge whether certain provisions of a law are constitutional. When a provision is not, in some cases that invalidates an entire law. They are just part of the appellate process.

      1. And given that the constitution mostly just lays out broad principles, they also decide when and how those principles apply to specific situations. Which is not always clear.

        In this case IIRC the linkage was: the 14th amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses -> create a limited constitutional right to privacy -> protects a women’s right to end their pregnancy.

        So no, it doesn’t say anything specific about abortion, the same way it doesn’t say anything specific about Hustler magazine articles on having sex with ones’ mother in an outhouse. Nevertheless, it’s the courts role to decide whether such specific actions are protected by the broader principles articulated in the constitution (the 1st for the latter example, the 14th for the case of abortion).

    2. As a lawyer, I can tell you that it is absolutely impossible to write laws, or a constitution, or even a contract, that anticipates every circumstance. This is even more the case with a document — like a constitution — that is intended to last for centuries. Thus, for example, the U.S. Constitution purports to guarantee certain “unalienable Rights,” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” So what specific activities are actually protected exercises of your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Or, in the case of a law or a contract, what does it mean when the statute or contract says that someone must make “reasonable efforts” to do something. It is the job of judges to make these determinations. In the case of laws and contracts, they are generally supposed to try to determine what result the parties would have intended if, at the time the document was drafted, they had contemplated the circumstance now at issue. In the case of the constitution, the question arises as to whether you make that determination looking through the lens of the late 1700’s mores and knowledge-base of the drafters (a viewpoint called “originalism”), or whether you make that determination by contemplating what you think the drafters would have intended if they were living in modern times (a viewpoint called the “living constitution” approach).

      That’s a long way of saying that: (1) just because an activity isn’t specifically mentioned in the constitution doesn’t mean that it wasn’t intended to be a constitutional right; and (2) judges are not supposed to make decisions based merely on their personal preferences. Sadly, as we all know, that doesn’t mean that judges’ personal preferences — consciously or unconsciously — don’t drive their decisions.

      1. You’re absolutely right, one can’t make laws anticipating every situation. That’s why today’s laws should be made by elected representatives aware of today’ world.

        And, for that reason, the US constitution wasn’t intended to last centuries, the founders envisaged periodic Constitutional Conventions, at least once a generation or so. The “living constitution” approach is ok, but the updating should be done by voters, not unelected justices.

        Also, good laws are clear and specific. Having broad declarations about “privacy” or whatever, and then allowing justices to interpret that as they choose, gives them way too much power, power that should be exercised by voters.

        1. Sadly, if we left everything up to the elected representatives, we’d still have segregation in the South, and Rosa Parks grandchildren would still be sitting in the back of the bus and attending black-only schools.

          And, while Thomas Jefferson advocated regular constitutional conventions, his argument was rejected. Instead, the framers made it very difficult to call constitutional conventions, requiring that the call be supported by 2/3’s of the states.

    1. Yes, “Native Son” is by Richard Wright. It’s a powerful and difficult novel still, but for Chicagoans has the added realism of giving specific places (sometimes by actual street address) many of which are still around. When the central character is fleeing police, and the narration tells you he went across 43rd Street then turned onto South Parkway [now MLK Drive] you can retrace exactly where he was.

  2. “At the core of our legal system, you will find a promise that human beings should be protected from lethal violence.”

    So, capital punishment is unconstitutional?

  3. … Rosa Parks Day …

    Can’t think of a better reason to enjoy the Neville Brothers’s tribute “Sister Rosa”:

  4. I know we can diss Dr. Oz on his forays into quackery, but that is as nothing compared to the looney tunes of all sorts that prevail in the Republican Party today. Among them, I dunno but its possible he will be a voice for science and facts.

    1. To be honest, when Jerry asked “guess for what political party?”, I actually guessed (D) since I equate peddling medical quackery more to Dems than Reps. (Whether or not that’s true, I have no idea…I think WEIT has biased me in this attitude.)

  5. Ross Douthat is an idiot. Give us all that preserving life crap. How about the great republican lie that they will keep government off our backs. What about in the doctor’s office? They have to preserve life that has not been born while killing as many kids as possible with guns as g*d intended. Happened in Michigan just yesterday.

  6. … for this is the day the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the Mississippi anti-abortion law …

    You can listen to an audio livestream of the argument at SCOTUS’s own website here. (It will also be livestreamed — audio only; there are still no cameras allowed in federal courtrooms — by many major media outlets, I’m sure.) Dobbs looks to be the most momentous case concerning reproductive rights in 50 years, and one of the most momentous of our lifetimes. Assuming what’s past is prologue regarding controversial cases, we won’t get a decision in Dobbs until the waning days of the Court’s current term, in late June 2022.

    1. So it should be decided a few months before the midterms. I wonder how much SCOTUS (being the political hacks most of them are at present) will take that into account.

  7. Gotta agree with Carville. I’ve been seeing articles in the news lately about Boebert vs. Omar; Omar should stop asking for an apology. She’s being trolled. You know it’s not going to be insincere and Boebert is simply getting more press out of the attempt. It’s a “never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig likes it” situation. When she (Omar) is asked about the terrorist comments, she should just say she’s going to ignore such insults or something like “Lauren says a lot of offensive things to rile up her base and I’m sure she’ll say more in the future; I don’t plan to respond to them.”

    1. Yep. Others and I noticed five years ago that one of tRump’s biggest force multipliers was MSNBC as the pundits talked to themselves about what an idiot T was in saying this or that, using actual video of thecandidate with his carefully devised salesmanship. Other Republican leaders have now adopted this scheme of taking positions that are outrageous to the left in order to get free visual airtime. Rachel Maddow recognized this trick for awhile and would only report on these speeches and sometimes show only the text onscreen. But she still gave undo credence to these outliers. The same applies to Omar who recently seems, though I watch little of MSNBC or for that matter any political tv newshow anymore, to be the go to dem.

      1. It’s not mine! I don’t remember where it comes from but I’m sure the intertubes can tell you. It’s a pretty well-worn saying.

  8. I don’t think the strict constructionist position (the Constitution doesn’t give government the power to restrict abortion) is a very strong one, since, in general, we have not lived a strict constructionist History. Also, historically, governments have had the power to restrict abortion. I’ve always favored a religious argument: opposition to abortion is based on a definition of life which is rooted in religion, and, therefore, restricting it imposes a religious belief. Personally, I feel that a woman has a prior and superior claim to the use of her body, and should be able to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.

  9. “An academic hoax paper has surfaced…”. In Sunday’s Wapo there is a book review by Annalee Newitz of the recent 700 page opus “The Dawn of Everything – A New History of Humanity” by Graeber and Wengrow. The review says that “The book begins by turning the history of the Enlightenment on its head, contending that the 18th century European quest for rational thought actually begins in the Americas with a Wendat intellectual Kandiaronk….back in 1703 their story goes, a French colonial explorer named Lahontan published a book of dialogues with a thinly disguised version ofKandiaronk….K and other Indigenous thinkers were the true architects Enlightenment…” not Europeans. Shades of the1619 Project…or not. But how are those of us living in an academic hinterland with no philosophy, history, or science faculty to query, to know what to take seriously? Or distinguish that which is a clear hoax from that which is just intellectually wanting from that which is written with a clear ideological bias (propaganda)? Any thoughts?

    1. I found this, on Persuasion, an excellent review. Bell, the reviewer, finds the authors’ treatment of the Enlightenment questionable. More importantly, he says that much of the authors’ argument relies on a native testimonial (Lahontan), which is in all likelihood fictitious. It was part of a European literary genre, used by authors to criticize by placing the criticisms in the mouth of a fictitious foreigner, such as Montesquieu’s Persian Letters.

      1. Thank you DrBrydon. I do not look for exactness in these histories, but I do try to understand what the overall solution space might look like and thus what error bars i should assign to any readings. So reading the Bell review was very helpful to add to the Newitz review. I do appreciate the wisdom of the weit collective.

    2. The review cited by Dr. Brydon is by Princeton historian, David A. Bell, a scholar of the Enlightenment. He eviscerates Graeber’s discussion of this historical period. It is possible that other scholars of the Enlightenment may be more sympathetic to the Graeber view. I, as you, have no great knowledge of the period, so I can’t comment on the nature of the Enlightenment. However, I have a general rule when reading historical interpretations by people that have no background in studying the historical period and think that reading perhaps a few books on the topic qualify them to opine on it: approach with extreme caution. There are those historians that spend their entire adult years learning about a limited number of historical topics. I think that most would admit that even so, there is more to learn and understand. I believe that Pinker’s interpretation of the Enlightenment has been severely criticized by historians as well.

      I would go so far as to urge caution when reading histories that cover a large time span, such as a history of the United States from 1865 to the present. If the volume is written by one person, it is impossible for he/she to be expert in everything that went on during this period. It takes a certain degree of courage to write books such as this because the author surely knows that aspects of them will be open to criticism by experts in various areas. This is one reason among several why I contend that there is no such thing as “true” history. Historical interpretation and understanding will always remain subject to debate by historians of the purest motives

      1. Again (as with the Robert E. Lee and me recommendation) you have been very helpful. Thank you Historian.

  10. It is sometimes said that the Emancipation Proclamation, formally going into effect on January 1, 1863, was not significant because it only declared free slaves in areas not yet under Union control. In reality, its impact was monumental. As Wikipedia puts it:

    “The proclamation was directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States. It proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people in the ten states in rebellion. Even though it excluded areas not in rebellion, it still applied to more than 3.5 million of the 4 million enslaved people in the country. Around 25,000 to 75,000 were immediately emancipated in those regions of the Confederacy where the US Army was already in place. It could not be enforced in the areas still in rebellion, but as the Union army took control of Confederate regions, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for the liberation of more than three and a half million enslaved people in those regions.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_Proclamation

    The organization, American Battlefield Trust, has posted an article listing 10 facts about the Emancipation Proclamation. Five of them discuss its impact. They are:

    • The Emancipation Proclamation was a firm demonstration of the President’s executive war powers.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation changed the focus of the war.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation helped prevent the involvement of foreign nations in the Civil War.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation paved the way for African-Americans to fight for their freedom.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation led the way to total abolition of slavery in the United States.

    https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/10-facts-emancipation-proclamation

    Above all else, in my view, the Union war effort was no longer just to end the rebellion and restore the Union. It was now aimed as well as to end slavery. What is often forgotten is what a revolutionary act the Proclamation was. Lincoln was willing to alienate a significant segment of the northern population that did not want the war‘s purpose to go beyond reconstituting the Union. He was willing to take the political hit. In the 1864 election, the Proclamation was used against him by the Democratic Party. Moreover, although it is speculative on my part, I don’t think it would have been likely that any other significant political figure of the time that had a chance to become president in 1860, including Republicans, would have had the audacity to issue it. Lincoln’s action is one factor among several why he was the nation’s greatest president and reveals the moronic ignorance of those calling for him to be cancelled.

    1. One of the other things about it was the Lincoln waited for the right moment. If Seward, for instance, had been elected President, he probably would have pushed emancipation much earlier (as Fremont and others did) , and undermined support for the war in the North.

    2. I would go one step further – If not for Lincoln it is very unlikely any other possible president would not have gone to war with the south in the first place. Only Lincoln is responsible for saving the country. We could certainly use him today.

      1. Yes, Indeed. We have identified two actions of Lincoln that qualify him to be the nation’s greatest president – resisting secession by military means and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. To this list we can add the following: refusing to recognize an independent Confederacy when the Union military suffered many bad defeats; fighting for passage of the 13th amendment; allowing the enlistment of Black troops; and willing to consider at the end of his life allowing freed slaves to vote under certain circumstances. It is hard to imagine any other president doing all these things. Of course, if the Union had lost the war, he would now be rated the nation’s worst president rather than the best.

          1. It is often said that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave, as it only applied to slaves in the Confederate states, which were beyond Federal control when it was issued. However as Union troops moved into the South, the Proclamation was used to free slaves in areas now under Union control. Before the Proclamation, Union generals often returned runaway slaves to their masters.

        1. Lincoln was basically the cause of secession. In 1860 he won the presidency with less than 40% of the popular vote. Although not an abolitionist, Lincoln was universally disliked in the South (and did not even appear on the ballot in most southern states). Each Confederate state seceded by popular vote, not state decree. When Lincoln decided on a military solution (not put to referendum), the number of seceding states jumped from 7 to 11. It took Lincoln more than a year to think up the Proclamation, probably largely for its combined military and virtue signaling value. He held a very negative opinion toward Blacks. The following statement, made by Lincoln in the White House to a group of invited local Black community leaders is to me is unforgivable and categorically despicable: “[N]ot a single man of your [Black] race is made the equal of a single man of ours [white]. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you.” Lincoln called the meeting to sell the idea to Black businessmen to resettle in Central America where the US government would help develop coal mines to be worked by freed slaves.

          Lincoln was only able to declare slaves free because, by the Proclamation, slaves were classified as enemy property and not an unjustly imprisoned people. Black Union troops were enlisted, at least initially, at reduced pay and died at a greater rate than white soldiers. On Dec. 8, 1863, in his annual message to congress, Lincoln admitted that the Proclamation had nothing to do with morality, but rather a military move, taken against his better judgement, to weaken the enemy. Said Lincoln, “According to our political system, as a matter of civil administration, the general government had no lawful power to effect emancipation in any State, and for a long time it had been hoped that the rebellion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a military measure.” Lincoln’s 1863 Republican congress could have passed laws declaring Blacks free citizens, but few seemed disposed to do so.

          In the decades following the war, society returned to near normality. Radical Republicanism and the reconstruction it supported faded away in the midst of graft and corruption, Black America was left to its fate as a pawn — north, south, east, and west — of labor markets and racist capitalism. In the 1870s, still segregated Black soldiers were packed off to fight Indians and help take their lands. The few Blacks in the military allowed to become officers were badly treated by superiors. At war’s end Gen. Benjamin Butler meeting with Lincoln at the White House suggested that freed slaves be sent to Panama to dig a canal like the British were then doing at Suez. According to Butler, Lincoln liked the idea, but he was shot dead a few days latter. At least one contemporary source described Radical Republicans as viewing Lincoln’s assassination as a “godsend” that would allow Congress to take vengeance on the defeated South once Andrew Johnson was out of the way.

          It was a very complicated time in US history.

  11. She [Christine Jorgenson] went the whole nine yards, getting both hormone reassignment and her male bits removed.

    Reminds me of what they say about a bacon-and-eggs breakfast — the chicken is involved; the pig, committed.

    1. Jorgensen was a bit before my time, but Jan Morrison wrote movingly about her gender reassignment in Conundrum in 1974.

      1. Jan Morris – I can vividly remember reading about her in either The Guardian or The Observer – probably around the time that her book came out.

  12. … poetry so bad that it’s hilarious. She [Julia A. Moore] specialized in laments for the death of children …

    Brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s crack about Charles Dickens — “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.”

  13. “banned all abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest”

    Why mention that? Because it sounds more cruel? In order to win a debate, one has to understand and recognize the other point of view, even if one does not agree with it. Only then is there a chance of convincing the other side. But as long as the other side has the impression that their position is not even understood, there is no chance.

    Their position is: a fetus is a human being. As such, killing it is murder (except that that could be justified if one has to choose between its life and that of the mother), hence, because there are no exceptions for murder, no exceptions for rape or incest. By the same logic, it would be OK to kill a child after birth if conceived via rape or incest.

    Of course, your position is “a fetus is not a human being”, but as long as you emphasize clauses like the above, it comes across as if the other position is not even understood. Of course you don’t agree that a fetus is a person, but that is what you have to convince the other side of. Claiming that fewer exceptions makes things worse shows that their point of view is not being taken into account.

    From their point of view, it is not about choice, it is about life. Thus “pro choice” is a bad term, because it misrepresents the other side. Same for “pro life”; the other side is not advocating death.

    Emphasizing the exceptions implies that there is a logically defensible position which says that it is OK to allow abortion in such cases but not otherwise. If abortion is murder, no exceptions for rape and incest. If not, then why restrict it at all?

    The issue is not about women’s control over their bodies. It is about their control over a fetus. The key question is whether a fetus is human. If you don’t, then your only hope for progress is to convince the other side that a fetus is not a human. Otherwise, your arguments have the opposite effect.

    1. Your words miss the entire meaning and purpose of what this issue is about. You think only about the fetus, the unborn and give almost no thought to the human being, the woman. You are doing just what several justices are about to do. They must not fool themselves. It would be a deep blow to the ability of the American women to live full, free, dignified lives and cause damage to the nations social, economic and moral health. If you do not recall the dark ages you are condemned to repeat it.

      1. I think that you have misunderstood me completely. The point is that that other side thinks only about the fetus. In particular, they see it as a person. Convince them otherwise and you will make progress. To them, your argument is “it is OK to murder someone if it makes my life easier”. No wonder they are not convinced. I don’t have a problem with early-pregnancy abortion because I don’t see a fetus as a human. But saying that won’t convince the other side one bit.

        1. I agree with you here. The Pro life crowd are being consistent, assuming they believe that a fetus is fully human (apparently whether it can survive outside the woman’s body or not), which I do not doubt that they do.

          It’s just that I (we?) come down on a different balancing of the rights of women versus the rights of the non-viable fetus.

          I can’t have an abortion; and I would never have asked a woman I impregnated (none, aside from my wife) to have one. But I don’t think my opinion on this should extend to all women in the USA.

    2. ” Thus ‘pro choice’ is a bad term, because it misrepresents the other side. Same for ‘pro life’; the other side is not advocating death.”

      I’ll go halfway with you. Pro life is a bad term: The Pro choice people are not advocating for death.

      Pro choice is a good term; because the other side is advocating to remove the choice of an abortion from women.

      The rape and incest part is relevant because one of the things the “Pro life” side think is that women use abortion as if it were a prophylactic, to support their “promiscuous” sex lives or other definitions of having a sex life that the (mostly conservative Christian in the US) “Pro life” side frown upon and would legally ban had they the power to do so*. They put the lie to this contention by banning abortion in the case of rape and incest.

      ( *Mixed-race marriage, active methods of birth control, sex outside marriage**, homosexual sex have only become even legal in the USA in my lifetime — who do you think were promoting those bans?).

      (** Still on the books in Virginia in 2020 (and maybe still): https://wset.com/news/at-the-capitol/law-making-it-illegal-for-unmarried-people-to-have-sex-one-step-closer-to-repeal-in-va)

      1. FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE OTHER SIDE, you could say that you are pro choice because you support a mother’s right to infanticide. The ONLY issue is whether the fetus is a human being.

        Yes, some are opposed to abortion because they see it as a form of birth control, which they also oppose, and think that by making it illegal unmarried people will have less sex or whatever. Yes, there are people like that, but that is not the main motivation for most pro-life advocates (even if they believe that as well). They REALLY BELIEVE that the fetus is a human and thus has the same rights, including the right not to be murdered. Until you convince them otherwise, no progress will be made. That is probably why the situation in the States is as it is today, With the pro-choice side making unconvincing arguments, no wonder that abortion might become illegal.

        Robin Williams: Roe vs. Wade? I’d rather swim! Geddit?

        1. Until you convince them otherwise, no progress will be made.

          Almost all anti-abortion-rights advocates’ views on this issue are religiously based — based, in particular, on a belief in the ensoulment of zygotes. Since such beliefs are by their nature immune to reason and evidence, and based instead on faith, how do you propose to convince them to abandon them?

    3. I agree with your analysis, but it many on the anti-abortion-rights side who are being inconsistent by favoring exceptions for the early termination of pregnancies resulting from rape and/or incest. I think they do this in an effort to get the camel’s nose under the the tent on their way to banning all abortions under all circumstances, by making their position more palatable to those sitting on the fence.

      The way I read our host’s comment, he’s simply reacting to Mississippi’s refusal to make even this common exception, rather than giving this analysis an endorsement of his own.

    4. From the point of view of a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest, being made to give birth to the resultant offspring is surely to heap insult on injury. She has rights too, and they trump those of the non-sentient foetus. Were the child to be born, the burden of the truth of its origins could not be lightly dismissed either.

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