Hypocrites R Us

By Ande Jacobson

This month has shown us the full range of hypocrisy in our nation’s highest court. The court’s majority claims to be “originalists” beholden to the Constitution, yet their rulings belie this claim instead showing them to be radically reactionary basing decisions on ideological or religious goals.

  • Carson v. Makin (6-3): The SCOTUS majority completely disregarded the separation of church and state in their decision allocating public funding to religious schools in Maine. This goes counter to the First Amendment and allows the government to directly fund religious teaching with taxpayer dollars.
  • New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc v. Bruen (6-3): The SCOTUS majority took away state’s rights to enact restrictions based on common sense gun control measures such as limiting who can carry a concealed weapon. Restrictions on gun ownership are well within the framework of the Constitution’s Second Amendment which is mute on private gun ownership or where one can carry a gun. As a result, this court majority imposed a federal mandate which will undoubtedly increase gun violence not based on any Constitutional rights.
  • Vega v. Tekoh (6-3): The SCOTUS majority determined that people arrested by police have no recourse if they are not read their Miranda Rights upon arrest. This pushes us further toward turning the U.S. into a police state.
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (6-3): The SCOTUS majority took away federal protections on a woman’s right to choose when or if to carry a pregnancy to term throwing that legal authority to the states. That means that a woman’s most personal decisions related to their own reproductive freedom will depend upon their state of residence.

These recent decisions show these wildly unpopular majority opinions are not based on precedent or the Constitution but instead are based on an ideological agenda that goes counter to our legal foundation. These decisions will target women, racial minorities, and people of limited financial means most dramatically, unfairly putting their lives at unnecessary and often preventable risk. Continue reading

If only & never forget

By Ande Jacobson

I am of an age that I watched Watergate evolve and got to study it in school as the investigation was first being made public. That certainly made civics interesting and timely. At the time it seemed to be the most significant threat to our nation’s democratic principles since the Civil War. Shortly before articles of impeachment were to be voted on in the House, President Nixon resigned, though it took quite an effort from his party to get him to do so. One month hence, President Ford pardoned his predecessor setting in motion an emboldened, extremist faction within the Republican Party that enabled an even bigger threat to our democracy to emerge. Just under a half century later, an attempted coup occurred. The coup was intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power after the lawful election of a new president. If only Ford hadn’t pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, perhaps we wouldn’t have elected the former president in 2016. If only the country hadn’t elected the former president in 2016, we wouldn’t have had an attempted coup on January 6, 2021. Continue reading

What keeps a Secretary of State up at night?

By Ande Jacobson

What happens when a former U.S. Secretary of State and a best-selling crime novelist decide to collaborate on a book? In October 2021, a gripping political thriller resulted from such a partnership. The book is State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. The two became friends through a series of unlikely events. Clinton and her very close childhood friend, Betsy Johnson Ebeling shared a love of books. By chance in the summer of 2016, the two of them were reading one of Louise Penny’s books, something that Ebeling mentioned in an interview. Penny’s publicist happened to see the interview, and she arranged for Penny and Ebeling to meet at a publicity tour for Penny’s latest book that year. The two hit it off and became fast friends. In the fall of 2016 not long after her book tour, Penny’s beloved husband died of dementia. As Penny was reading some condolence cards, she opened one that changed her life again. The writer was Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it was toward the end of her brutal 2016 presidential campaign. Despite the intense pressure, she took the time to write an eloquent and heartfelt condolence note to Louise Penny, a woman she’d never met. Clinton knew Penny through her books and through Ebeling’s recent friendship with her and had to reach out. That was the first direct contact between Penny and Clinton. That, along with some other timely in-person meetings, started a close friendship. Sometimes that rapport thing just happens, and the three of them, Betsy, Hillary, and Louise, had that spark. And then in 2019, ending her long battle with breast cancer, Betsy died. Continue reading

Rights and life

By Ande Jacobson

Several months ago as Dobbs was heating up, a dear, pro-life friend asked me if I considered a fetus a life. My knee jerk reaction was absolutely not. I kept thinking about my answer, and after a good night’s sleep realized that my friend had asked the wrong question. She didn’t really want to know if I considered a fetus a life. Of course it’s living tissue. What my friend was really asking was whether I believed that a fetus was a person. There my answer is still unequivocally, no. Clinically, it really shouldn’t be considered a person until it is born, or as Roe v. Wade decided almost 50 years ago, at least until the point when it is viable outside of its host/mother’s body. Before that point, options to terminate a pregnancy if so desired should remain legal, safe, and available to all. Continue reading

The Animal Kingdom includes us

By Ande Jacobson

In early March, The New Yorker published a fascinating report on a legal crusade to confer “personhood” on Happy the elephant to help protect her rights. The article, entitled The Elephant in the Courtroom: A curious legal crusade to redefine personhood is raising profound questions about the interdependence of the animal and human kingdoms, discusses the fierce debate over what constitutes personhood, and why that is important for legal protection. Several cases from around the world are discussed where various non-human species were granted “non-human person” rights as part of various efforts to protect them from abuse. Animals on the endangered species lists gain a few more protections as well, but they are still not considered persons and don’t enjoy the same freedoms as humans. While the legal calisthenics over which animals deserve additional consideration based on human determination of whether they are sentient or not provide an interesting intellectual exercise, there is a basic fact of science that is lost. Rather than being separate from the Animal Kingdom, humankind is part of the Animal Kingdom as any introductory biology class (based on science) makes abundantly clear. There is indeed an interdependence between various animal species, and our arrogance aside, it should not be a legal matter but a biological imperative that supports the expansion of what we call animal rights or perhaps even personhood. Continue reading

It’s strange in my land

By Ande Jacobson

Sometimes I don’t recognize the country I thought I knew. The news is filled with terrifying reports on all kinds of things as the world grapples with the ongoing struggle between authoritarianism and democracy as various individual rights are being restricted in ways that were incomprehensible just a few years ago. The struggle is exacerbated by the huge wealth disparity in the U.S. between a small number of ultra-wealthy individuals and a large number of regular people just trying to live their lives. The world is far more connected now that it was 50 or 60 years ago. Since the widespread use of the internet, information that used to have daily, weekly, or even monthly cycles now flows continuously with 24/7 access to current information, some of which is factual, and some of which is entirely fictional. The sorting is left to the interested reader or viewer, and it can be exhausting sometimes. Continue reading

What is reality?

By Ande Jacobson

In our current world, there is a great deal of effort being expended to bend people’s perceptions of reality to gain personal, organizational, or even national advantage. I’ve written about the dangers of propaganda before, and in modern society with its current technological advancements there are more tools available today than ever before to impose false realities, i.e., to create mythologies. Granted, not all propaganda is necessarily negative since the term applies to any attempt to create a narrative to further a cause, some of which could be focused on good things. Still, there is far more press reporting on the dangerous side of the equation. Continue reading

Finding the limits of the rules

By Ande Jacobson

Amid the ongoing circus of seeking accountability for those breaking the rules at the highest levels of our society, I think back to my school days when I learned something about how limits might apply. As children we all push against the boundaries imposed upon us in some ways which helps to define our sense of right and wrong. I’m reminded of two particular incidents from my grammar school days that affected me beyond the simple situations at hand. Continue reading

The God Delusion – Why limit our perception?

By Ande Jacobson

In 2006, Richard Dawkins wrote a book that has garnered high praise from some and unabashed fury from others. The book has the provocative title, The God Delusion. Dawkins uses his background as a scientist specializing in evolutionary biology to examine a simple conceit to explain why so many people refuse to even consider leaving religion behind despite compelling evidence to refute its validity: “I didn’t know I could.” In his Preface he explains that his intention in writing this particular book is to raise consciousness to a few ideas such as why atheism has merit and can facilitate a productive and fulfilling life without guilt or apology; how concepts like natural selection, though often misunderstood, provide more probable alternatives to religious dogma; and how religion corrupts childhood and encourages exclusion. He acknowledges the importance of various scriptures such as the Bible, not as divine instruction, but as works of literature or historical fiction. As such, he explains how they provide cautionary tales and cultural references while inspiring countless modern works of literature, and he laments the ever decreasing familiarity with such sources even amongst those who claim to be religious. Mostly he intends his book to inspire people to think and examine the world around them anew, open to the beauty that comes with greater understanding through science. Continue reading

The nation is in ‘Peril’

By Ande Jacobson

The final book in Bob Woodward’s trilogy chronicling the Trump presidency and its aftermath is aptly named Peril. Woodward co-authored this third book with Robert Costa and released it in September 2021. While the first two books, Fear and Rage, together cover the Trump presidency prior to the historic 2020 election and its aftermath, Peril overlaps a bit with Rage and focuses on the extraordinary actions within the Trump administration, the Pentagon, and Congress in the lead up to the election, the administration’s attempts to thwart the legitimate outcome of losing reelection, and the first several months of the Biden administration. While the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Department of Justice are hard at work investigating what happened from a legal perspective, Peril tells the story drawn from personal interviews of more than 200 people at the center of the events resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts, much of the information never before seen in the news or in publicly released documents. In a historical context, this is an important book. It chronicles what happened from the perspective of those involved rather than strictly what was made public or reported in the news. Continue reading