Smart people saying smart things (01.01.24)

Smart people saying smart things (01.01.24) January 1, 2024

Doug Muder, “MAGA and the Swifties”

American conservatives often praise capitalism as a system where anybody who has talent and works hard can rise to the top. So in theory, they should love people who make that climb. In fact, though, they hate those people, especially the ones who remember where they came from and try to help other people rise too.

… The point of the Horatio Alger myth is to keep the masses content: We may not have much now, but we could someday. We should admire the billionaires because maybe, just maybe, we’ll be one ourselves someday.

But that fantasy is never supposed to come true. Conservatism is all about keeping the rich on top, not opening their ranks to admit climbers.

Dahlia Lithwick, “Who Determines Kate Cox’s Health Care”

It’s 2023, and Ken Paxton is accusing the pregnant mother of two children, who desperately wants more children, of being untruthful with the courts, while he terrorizes her physician and the hospitals at which she has admitting privileges. What is “substantial impairment of a major bodily function” if not the impairment of future childbirth? The only way Kate Cox can persuade a bunch of elected judges and lawyers (who have never met her and don’t care about her health or her reproductive future) that she should be allowed to end an excruciating, doomed pregnancy is by either: 1) dying; or 2) having a physician certify that she will die without treatment. And this macabre pretzel is what we are advised is definitionally “pro-life.”

Kate Cox is a woman who has already been to the emergency room four times “for pregnancy symptoms including severe cramps, leaking fluid and elevated vital signs.” She is a woman who is simply asking to be viewed as an adult human capable of making a medical decision with her physician. And in response, the people in power are decidedly saying to her that there is essentially no medical authority that they trust more than themselves to make that decision—oh, and their decision is always no, and if an actual doctor dares to contradict them, that doctor could be facing a 99-year prison sentence.

Jessica Valenti, “Absolutely Not”

When Kaitlyn Joshua had a miscarriage in Louisiana, she was turned away from two different emergency rooms because of the state’s abortion ban. The first hospital refused to confirm her miscarriage or advise her on treatment options. Instead, a nurse told her, “we’re praying for you.” When Joshua went to another ER the following day, she was bleeding so much that her pants were soaked through. Still, she was denied medication to speed up the miscarriage—or a referral to another hospital that might be able to help her. They wouldn’t even give her discharge papers stating that she was having a miscarriage.

Robyn Pennacchia, “Nikki Haley’s ‘Honest’ Abortion Answer Is A Full-On Monet”

Now, this used to be a winning argument for the Right, because people heard “late-term abortions” and kind of just assumed that they were had by people who went through nine months of pregnancy and said, “EH, you know what? I’m gonna pass.” Or by those who were such lazy sluts that they just didn’t get around to it by then. It wasn’t a hard pill for people to swallow because this is a familiar archetype of “female evil” that goes back centuries.

As long as people thought that’s what it was, they were golden. As long as no one actually saw the reality of what “banning late term abortion” looked like, it worked —and often was a hard thing for us to counter. But we have seen it now. And now when people hear “banning late term abortion” they start thinking about women with miscarriages not being able to get care until they almost go into sepsis.

Adam Kotsko, “What if pro-lifers already are consistently ‘pro-life’?”

Even that seems tame compared to the contemporary American right’s political theology of life, however, which seeks the violent imposition of a hierarchy in the name of defending life. Again, being pro-“life” does not mean cherishing and affirming every human being, but drawing a line between the allies of life and the allies of death. It means stating clearly what kind of life — white life, American life, suburban life — is valid and what life — Black life, immigrant life, urban life — is sacrificeable. It means being able to reduce women to chattel in the service of boosting the white fertility rate, to avoid the horrific blasphemy of handing God’s chosen nature over to the allies of death. And it means being able to engage in ultra-violence to sustain the boundaries of “our way of life” — from impromptu police executions to vehicular homicide of protestors to the school shootings for which our children regularly practice their ritual responses.

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