September 30, 2021

A Letter to the President Concerning January 6

 Dear President Biden:

I am distressed that the insurrectionists (not tourists, demonstrators, or terrorists) who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are mostly being charged with low-level offenses and being given light sentences. In many countries, people participating in such an assault would have been executed by now.

Although I surely am not advocating capital punishment, the storming of the Capitol on January 6 was, and must be seen to have been, a serious disruption of civil order. Many in the January 6 mob even declared their intention to murder elected officials. Threatening the president has always been viewed as a very serious matter. Threatening the vice president or the speaker of the House is similarly reprehensible. If most perpetrators receive little or no punishment, the Biden Justice Department will be encouraging future political violence.

Admittedly, some of the insurrectionists are more culpable than others. Those who planned violence and wielded weapons against both persons and property should be charged with serious crimes and sent to prison. No one who broke through police lines or who entered the Capitol through broken windows, however, can credibly argue that they did not know that what they were doing was illegal. Even were they genuinely naïve, their punishment must be made an object lesson for other politically motivated malcontents.

It is my hope that your Justice Department will defend civil order and democratic values through more aggressive prosecution of the January 6 insurrectionists. Doing so will subject the government to charges of political partisanship. That is an indignity that must be endured for the sake of the Republic.

Very truly yours,
Lionel Deimel, Ph.D.

September 29, 2021

Eliminate the Debt Ceiling

There seems to be general agreement in Congress that the nation should pay its bills. At the moment, this requires raising the dysfunctional mechanism called the debt ceiling. (The debt ceiling was created in 1917 as a kind of public relations mechanism aimed at citizen concerns about the cost of entering World War I.) If the debt ceiling is not raised, the government could, for the first time, default on its financial obligations, an event that would have disastrous consequences for both public and private borrowers.

Democrats are prepared to do what is necessary and responsible; Republicans, although they acknowledge the need to raise the debt ceiling, are refusing to help the Democrats do it. Senator Mitch McConnell has told Democrats that they must do it themselves, but he and his Repubican Senate colleagues have blocked accomplishing this necessary task in any straightforward way.

I offer a proposal to the Democrats. It gets the job done, raises a finger to McConnell and his band of hypocritical cronies, and it rids the country of a self-inflicted wound that refuses to heal.

The problem, as usual, is in the Senate. The Democratic House majority could easily pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling, but the filabuster in the Senate allows Republicans to block a similar action. By a simple majority, however, the Senate can change the filabuster rules to allow simple majority votes on bills directly affecting the full faith and credit of the United States. With the slightest bit of arm twisting, I suspect that the two Democrats who have refused to eliminate the filabuster would agree to this critical carve-out. Once the filabuster rules are changed, the Democrats should pass a bill that eliminates the whole notion of a debt limit. A House vote and signature of the president can then follow. We lived without a debt ceiling for more than a century; we can live without it again.

Well, Democrats, are you going to save the fiscal health of the nation or not? If you don’t, Republicans will blame you. If you do, they will blame you anyway, but you can still put the real blame on them.

September 26, 2021

A Manifesto

What follows was composed rather quickly once I began contemplating the notion of white supremacy. Perhaps it is inspiring, but perhaps not. What do people think? If you feel so inclined, comment below or on my Facebook page.

I am not fundamentally a white person; I am a human person. Like others of my kind, I need to live peaceably among other human persons. My neighbors have come from six continents, but we share a common ancestry. All humans evolved from more primitive animals in Africa. Some of our forebears chose to leave the land of their origin; others did not. In that process, we built diverse civilizations, adopting different customs. Our bodies, however varied they may seem on the outside, are largely identical within. We all share the need for food, clothing, and shelter; for love and respect; for accomplishment and self-fulfillment. Alas, we also share selfishness, a desire to harm those who have treated us badly, and an inherent wariness of other humans who seem different.

We humans have created great literature, built inspiring edifices and public works, written and performed music that excites and inspires, made extraordinary advances in science and medicine. We have built societies that encourage such accomplishments and celebrate human liberty. We have also built societies that discourage individual excellence and exist for the benefit of only a few.

We humans arose from a world of scarcity and self-preservation. We have built a world of abundance and safety for many of us. We have also built a world that threatens both us and the non-human living creatures with which we share this planet. If we are truly Homo sapiens, our wisdom surely should lead us to protect our environment and to extend the benefits we have accrued to ourselves to our fellow human persons, wherever they may be. War, plunder, rapaciousness, and disregard for fellow creatures of whatever kind can only lead to the end of human accomplishment.

Human persons of the world, unite!

September 25, 2021

Kill the Cult

It is increasingly obvious that Donald Trump and his supporters—really his cult—is intent on subverting our democracy by making it easy for Republicans to win elections and making it nearly impossible for Democrats to do so.

I won’t try to justify the above statement here—its truth will already be obvious to many readers—but I will direct you to an excellent, though frightening, opinion piece that recently appeared in The Washington Post. The essay is “Our constitutional crisis is already here” by Robert Kagan. Kagan’s piece has caused quite a stir, and justifiably so.

I have been saying for a long time that I will never vote again for a Republican. In my ignorant youth, I was a registered Republican, but, of course, the Republican party back then was not demented. Nevertheless, I regret at least some of my past votes.

In any case, the Republican Party is now the party of Trump, and it deserves no support for its anti-democratic activities. Local elected Republicans have a way of becoming state or national elected Republicans or members of a Republican cabinet. (May there never be another Republican cabinet!) We should nip this process in the bud.

It is my sincerest hope that the Republican party meets its demise as soon as possible. A new center-right, democratic, reasonable party should take its place. If you are a center-right, democratic, reasonable Republican, leave your cult and work toward its eventual replacement. Uncle Sam wants you! Uncle Sam needs you!

The Kagan essay inspired me to create the graphic below. Feel free to put it to your own use in the battle against the Trump cult. Click on the graphic for a larger version.

Republicans undermine democracy

September 21, 2021

National Priorities

 I like Joe Biden; I don’t love Joe Biden. His policy record is checkered, and his interpersonal interactions are sometimes creepy. But he is a Democrat, he loves trains, and I believe his heart is in the right place. Most significantly, he is not Donald Trump.

The Democratic platform in 2020 was strongly influenced not only by Joe Biden but by Senator Bernie Sanders. That platform, or parts of it, was attractive to many voters, and President Biden is endeavoring to deliver on his campaign promises.

When we consider the most pressing needs of the nation, campaign promises, and the apparent priorities of the current administration, it is not clear that the country’s most urgent needs have been given the priority they deserve. Most notably, the task of protecting our democracy by assuring voting rights for all is, remarkably, not the number one goal of the president and of Democratic legislators.

What, then, should be the priorities of the federal government in 2021? I will offer my own list, with the understanding that the items on it cannot be addressed in a strictly sequential manner. Moreover, certain matters must be dealt with in parallel to these most urgent priorities. For the immediate future, for example, the administration (and perhaps even the Congress) must deal with the ongoing pandemic.

I am convinced that my first issue should indeed be at the top of my list. I am less sure about the exact ordering of what follows—this is meant to be an ordered list—but I think I am in the right ballpark.

Here is my list of national priorities:

  1. Voting Rights: Federal action is needed to assure that all citizens have the right to vote The exercise of that right must be as easy and as straightforward as possible. Gerrymandering to favor one party, race, or interest should be banned; and the fair administration of elections and tabulations should be assured. Republicans are doing their best to guarantee their ability to rule irrespective of the will of the electorate. If they are successful in thereby destroying our democratic republic, most of what follows will not matter.
  2. Climate Change. Life on this planet will become difficult and will severely strain our democratic republic if we do not do everything possible to halt climate change. We must do what we can domestically and encourage other nations to do their part as well. Not everything we try will be successful, and it is impossible to lay out a complete program in advance. Most especially, we must curb the burning of fossil fuels and fund research to find new solutions to the climate problem. “Adapting” to climate change is a losing proposition.
  3. Wealth Inequality. For decades, we have been reducing the tax burden on wealthy persons and corporations. This has not resulted in wealth “trickling down.” We are building a stratified nation of the wealthy, a thinning, technologically-oriented middle class, and an increasingly impoverished and demoralized underclass. We should be grateful that this has not yet led to revolution. Taxes need to be more progressive and difficult to avoid. Inheritance taxes should be steep, and the preference for capital gains should be eliminated. (All income should be treated the same.) Legislation should encourage unionization; a cap should be placed on executive pay; and existing and improved antitrust law should be vigorously applied. The minimum wage, including for workers working for tips, should be increased and indexed to inflation. (Ideally, the notion of giving tips for anything other than extraordinary services should be discouraged.) The taxing of churches and other nonprofits should be considered.
  4. Campaign Finance. Corporations can neither speak nor hold religious views and should be denied “personhood” except in limited, specified respects. Political contributions by individuals and organizations, including contributions by candidates themselves, should be strictly limited. All contributions to political causes greater than $1,000 and their source must be publicly disclosed within 30 days. There should be severe penalties for failure to do so. A constitutional amendment may be required to effect these changes. Federal financing at least of presidential elections should be considered.
  5. Housing. The nation needs more housing. The federal government has largely been indifferent to this need, and the not-in-my-backyard attitude of too many people has made increasing the stock of affordable housing virtually impossible. The growing homeless population in a country as rich as the United States is a national disgrace. Increasing population density will not only address homelessness but also will save energy and fight climate change. Until our efforts in this area bear fruit, we must house the homeless as best we can.
  6. Reproductive Rights. The fight over abortion is more than just about women’s choices. It is about injecting minority-held religious views into public policy. It is about interfering in the practice of medicine. And it is about controlling women and keeping them second-class citizens. Congress should assure the right of women to be free of restrictions concerning their reproductive lives. Women, with their doctors, should be able to decide what is right for them. This is not a free country as long as women are not free.
  7. Gun Control. There are more guns than people in this country, and many of them are weapons of war that do not belong in the hands of civilians. Assault weapons should be outlawed and surrendered for compensation. All guns should be registered, and the registration should be valid for no more than two years. The penalty for possession of an unregistered gun should be severe. All transfers should be subject to a mandatory background check and safety training.
  8. Immigration. Our immigration system is wildly dysfunctional. The easy reform is giving so-called dreamers a straightforward way to gain citizenship in the only country they have ever known. Allowing or denying entry to foreigners who want to come to the U.S. needs to be, if nothing else, speedy. Asylum seekers should be afforded humane and prompt treatment. We must decide how we are to treat long-term residents who have not come to this country legally. Much of the dysfunction of Central American nations that are sending waves of refugees to the U.S. is of our doing. We must try to help these countries rather than promoting the interests of American corporations intent on pillaging them.
  9. Infrastructure. Yes, the country does need to spend money on its decaying infrastructure. Roads, bridges, tunnels, electrical distribution systems, water systems, and sewer systems need to be put in good repair. In the 21st century, high-speed Internet access needs to be universally available. We should be wary of created new structures that are not absolutely necessary and that will require ongoing maintenance. Expanding the low-speed passenger rail system may not be a good investment.
There are other matters that need attention to strengthen democracy but do not easily fit into a list of legislative priorities. This list includes some long-term issues and issues not resolvable at the federal level. This list is in no particular order, though the first item may indeed need to be addressed first.
  1. Senate Filibuster. This undemocratic rule has racist origins and often racist effects. Eliminating or modifying it will be necessary for the Congress to get much done.
  2. D.C. Statehood. The District of Columbia has a population larger than several states. It is governed in large measure by the whims of Congress. This should be changed. Additionally, two D.C. senators are likely to nudge the Senate in a more progressive direction. I don’t think that Puerto Rico should be made a state. (I would give Puerto Rico a pile of money, give residents two years to decide if they want to come to the United States, and make Puerto Rico an independent nation.)
  3. Police. Police often protect and serve their own interests rather than those of the citizenry. It is unclear just how reform should look. In any case, police should be relieved of some jobs for which they are unqualified and untrained.
  4. Judiciary. The Supreme Court, with its lifetime appointments and capricious replacement procedures, is wildly out-of-touch with the population over which it holds great power. To a degree, lower federal courts share these problems. Ideally, Supreme Court justices should have limited terms, and each president should be guaranteed two appointments. If such a change is politically impossible, additional justices should be added to the court.
  5. Justice System. Cash bail should be eliminated for low-level offenses reputedly committed by people who pose a low flight risk. Private prisons should be phased out. Other prisons should be provided with larger, better-trained staff. Imprisonment should be about isolation from the wider society only, not an introduction into an inmate-run hell.
  6. Education. Making community college may simply have the result of attracting students who ought to be doing something else than going to school. We would do well to develop more opportunities to learn useful trades and participate in apprentice programs. For-profit schools of all kinds should be discouraged, and public funding for all schools, including public colleges should be increased. In pre-college education, greater emphasis should be placed on civics, geography, and history. History should include all of U.S. history: economic history, labor history, women’s history, slave and black history. We should tell truth to our youth. (Hum, maybe there’s a useful slogan there.) We should also teach children about climate change. Non-public elementary and secondary education should receive no public subsidies. In any case, education is traditionally a state concern. The federal government cannot always demand, but it can encourage.
  7. Constitution. Our Constitution, as amended, is a marvelous document, but it is not a perfect one. A number of changes could be helpful. For example, if we elected members to the House of Representatives for four, rather than two, years, members could spend more of their time legislating and less time pursuing re-election. Campaign finance reform may require a constitutional amendment. The Second Amendment could be clarified to be more restrictive than desired by the NRA and the Supreme Court. Although doing so does not require a change to the Constitution, enlarging the membership of the House would reduce the number of constituents of each member, resulting in better representation. Of course, the change that would do most to make our nation more democratic would be amending the Constitution to elect the president and vice president by popular vote.
  8. Health Care. Our mostly for-profit health care system works better for providers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, for-profit hospitals, and insurance companies than it does for the general population. Congress has focused on health insurance rather than health care. That focus needs to change. We should be working toward a single-payer system and reduced for-profit elements of that system. Increasing Medicare benefits may be a step toward a more comprehensive health care system, though it benefits those most who already are receiving substantial assistance.
  9. Other Matters. There are other areas of concern, of course. We need to be concerned about wildlife and our national parks. Native Americans and blacks have been treated badly by our nation. It is unclear whether compensation for our past depredations is possible, Future actions should be informed by past injuries. It is widely believed that government provides less assistance to parents and children than do other Western nations. We likely should do more, but I’m not sure what that should look like or what we can afford. We should spend more on basic scientific research and, perhaps, on the space program.
This post is one person’s opinion. I invite comments either below or on Facebook.

Update, 9/24/2021. Somehow, when I first wrote this essay, I forgot to mention the need to elect the president and vice president by popular vote, rather than by the arcane and mischief-prone Electoral College system we now use. This, of course, would require a constitutional change. Today, I added that item under “Constitution.”

September 19, 2021

Abortion Access for Episcopalians

Anti-abortion activists are predominately Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants. To the degree that their activism is sincere, it is based on the religious notion that the unborn are human, and therefore children of God in need of their protection. In discussions of abortion, however, the religious underpinnings of their passion are seldom made explicit. Most often, we are told that abortion is murder, an idea sometimes soft-pedaled with slogans like “abortion stops a beating heart. Linda Greenhouse recently wrote, however, that, with a now sympathetic Supreme Court in place, “Republican officeholders are no longer coy about their religion-driven mission to stop abortion.”

In modern times, of course, infanticide is nearly universally condemned as murder. It is difficult to make a moral distinction between killing a newborn and aborting a pregnancy close to term. The not-quite-born child is not substantially different from the just-born child. Each one is, at least in a physiological sense, fully human. For this reason, late-term abortions of apparently normal pregnancies are clearly problematic. One might question the interest of the state in their prohibition, however. Nevertheless, most citizens, whatever their views of abortion generally, are very uneasy about such late procedures.

One may quibble (obviously) about earlier abortions. An embryo or fetus is human, in the same sense that a detached fingernail is human, though not a human. It is more correct to say that it is a potential human. The product of a recently established pregnancy has about the same relationship to a human being as an innertube has to an aircraft carrier. Only if one posits that implantation (or even fertilization) somehow causes a soul also to be implanted as well does an embryo take on an essential human property. (It is unclear what is supposed to happen to the soul if the embryo dies. Where does it go, or does it simply evaporate?) Its physical nature of an embryo or fetus, on the other hand, is as far from human as a worm or caterpillar.

In what is supposed to be a secular government, the religious view that an embryo or fetus is an actual human should be of no legal significance, even more so as that view is held by a small minority of religious zealots. Nonetheless, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and recent Supreme Court decisions such as the Hobby Lobby case have privileged reputed “religious freedom” over other freedoms. Turning back this unfortunate tide is a daunting task, but perhaps one can fight back by playing the religious game.

Suppose a female Episcopalian in, say, Texas, wants access to abortion. Can she not claim a “sincerely held” religious exemption from anti-abortion laws akin to the religious exceptions allowed in other circumstances. (We regularly allow such exceptions from obligations such as taking a COVID vaccination.)

The governing body of the Episcopal Church, the General Convention, has expressed its views on abortion. In Resolution A054 of 1994, after suggesting that abortion can have negative aspects, concluded by declaring

[T]his 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express[es] its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.

Does this not mean that an Episcopalian woman’s freedom of choice is fully endorsed by her religious authorities. Should not a Supreme Court that is so deferential to religious views allow this woman to have an abortion? I suggest that posing such a question before the court would expose to all the world that abortion restrictions promoted by a zealous religious minority are in fact an imposition of those minority religious views on the population generally. They are therefore improper for the government to enact and enforce.

September 16, 2021

Epiphany Insurrection

 On Saturday, Washington will see another rally of true believers of the Big Lie promoted by Donald Trump. Ostensibly, the event is a protest against the arrest and prosecution of the Trump loyalists who attacked the Capitol on January 6.

In a January 11 post, I discussed the need for an agreed-upon name for the events of January 6. As of now, there isn’t one. Occasionally, “1/6” is used, by analogy to “9/11,” but, as I wrote earlier, this is derivative, indirect, and not especially euphonious. More commonly, writers referring to the event describe it in phrases like “the assault on the Capitol.”

In my January 11 post, I suggested “Epiphany Putsch” as an appropriate name. Perhaps, however, this sounds too German. “Epiphany Insurrection” is perhaps a better choice. There is a consensus, at least among Trump’s detractors, that the event was indeed an insurrection. As for “Epiphany,” I will simply repeat what I wrote earlier:

The ragtag army that marched on the Capitol had no thoughts of the Christian celebration, but the sack of the Capitol was an epiphany of sorts—it manifested, for all to see, the logical consequences of the error of Trumpism. That epiphany has been powerful enough to remove the blinders from the eyes even of some Republicans who have hitherto been unshakable Trump sycophants.

Well, not the eyes of many Republicans. 

September 13, 2021

Thoughts on the 9/11 Twentieth Anniversary

 I watched a lot of television on Saturday as the nation commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. A few thoughts came to mind that I offer below.

When faced with a dire situation, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 voted on what they should do. How American was that? Do you think that would happen today?

Would the people of United Flight 175, American Flight 11, and American Flight 77 have attacked their hijackers had they known the hijackers’ intentions?

The tragedies of 9/11 brought the country together. Why didn’t a global pandemic have a similar effect? That pandemic, after all, has killed about 200 times as many Americans as were lost on 9/11.

September 11, 2021

Looking Back 20 Years

Like most Americans, I had strong reactions to the events of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath. Unlike most Americans, I wrote a lot about those reactions on my Web site, Lionel Deimel’s Farrago, and, later, on this blog. Ten years ago, I made a series of 11 blog posts calling attention to what I had written in the previous decade. (The first post was published 9/11/2011 and was titled “Looking Back to 9/11. Part 1.” The series continued for the next 10 days.)

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I offer a sort of annotated list of my writings related to that dreadful day.

  • Falling from the Sky (9/27/2001): This is my favorite poem about 9/11. It imagines what it must have been like to be in one of the World Trade Center towers on that terrible day. The poem is without rhyme and includes these thought-provoking lines: “Was immolation by jet fuel worse than the fire felt by Joan of Arc?/Those who jumped must certainly have thought so.”
  • 9/11 Memorial (6/30/2003): Although this poem was written long after 9/11. its setting is a church service held on the evening of 9/11. A candle on the altar reminded me of a burning tower. That night, we sang the hymn “All my hope on God id founded,” which contains the words “though with care and toil we build them, tower and temple fall to dust.” (Episcopalians have a hymnal sufficient for all occasions.)
  • What’s in a Name (9/16/2001): A meditation on the events of five days earlier. We had not yet settled on “9/11” as the name for what happened.
  • 11 September 2001 (9/23/2001): This poem is about how the country needed to react to 9/11. It was inspired by President Bush’s speech of 9/20/2001. It includes these lines: “Our passion aflame to our homeland defend,/We know the beginning, yet fear for the end.” That fear was well-founded.
  • Airplanes II (11/5/2001): This poem expresses relief over the resumption of commercial airline flights.
  • 2001 (begun 12/31/2001): This poem begins with the understated line “Two thousand one was not a good year.” The poem deals with events of 2001, including those of 9/11. My favorite lines are: “The heavenly bliss of American dreams/Was invaded by terrorist hell.”
  • Homeland Security (6/11/2002): The terrorism of 9/11 led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. I wasn’t convinced that this collection of government functions was needed, but I was sure that it had been given the wrong name.
  • Thanks, But No Thanks (3/18/2003): President Bush took his eyes off Afghanistan and focused on Iraq. I was justifiably skeptical.
  • Ground Zero Memorial (12/15/2003): When I wrote this essay, the nature of the memorial at the World Trade Center site had not yet been determined. I suggested what I thought should at least be a part of that memorial.
  • Lower Manhattan (9/15/2004): Simply a recognization that, since 9/11, “Lower Manhattan” has a double meaning.
  • From Yellow to Orange (7/7/2005): Thoughts concerning the Homeland Security Advisory System that was developed in response to 9/11.
  • United States–Iraq War Ends (12/15/2011): A formal end was declared to the Iraq War, which had strangely been linked to 9/11 by President Bush. What was the point?
  • A Memorial Day Prayer (5/29/2017): As the war in Afghanistan dragged on, it occurred to me that not all war dead died for good reason.
  • Who Lost Afghanistan (8/16/2021): As the war inspired by 9/11 is coming to an end, the recriminations can begin.
  • Get Me to the Plane on Time (8/22/2021): I end this series in rhyming satire: alternative words to “Get me to the church on time” as Americans and Afghans struggle to get to the airport to get out of Afghanistan now controlled by the Taliban. Afghanistan has come full circle.

September 8, 2021

Eliminating Rape in Texas

 It is widely recognized that the new Texas anti-abortion law is ludicrous, meanspirited, and unconstitutional. It is especially interesting that the law makes no exceptions for rape or incest. There is actually a kind of backhand good news here. If you are raped, whether by a stranger, acquaintance, or family member, you should have the good sense to realize that you do not want to be pregnant but you might be. Even with the time limit of the Texas law, there is likely time for a pregnancy test and, if necessary, an abortion. If you have sex in other circumstances, however, you may not even consider that you could be pregnant. Not all sex results in pregnancy, but not all birth control is 100% effective 100% of the time. When you realize you are pregnant, Texas law may deem an abortion illegal.

My advice is that, if you are raped, you should get a reliable pregnancy test as soon as you can.

GOP Texas governor Greg Abbott has offered a reason why, in his opinion, no rape exception in the law is necessary. “Rape is a crime,” he explained, “and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Bess Levin has pointed out that Abbott’s intention may be hard to realize. As recently as 2019, 14,824 rapes were reported in Texas. (There were surely many, perhaps very many, unreported rapes.) Texas does not have a group of the “precogs” of Minority Report to arrest people who are about to commit rape; it can only arrest people who have already raped. Eliminating rape through law enforcement is a logical impossibility. And, as Levin asked, “[i]f he had that power [to eliminate rape], why didn’t he do it prior to enacting this law?”

The rape that Governor Abbott should eliminate is the rape of the civil rights of Texas residents. Eliminating sexual rape is beyond his power and, likely, beyond his sincere concern.

September 1, 2021

Thoughts on the New Texas Abortion Law

The most disturbing aspect of the new Texas abortion law is not that it bans nearly all abortions, though that is quite bad enough. The law is, after all, clearly unconstitutional. But even more distressing is the fact that the law outsources law enforcement to unscrutinized, unqualified zealots lacking the standing normally required to bring lawsuits and places a bounty on pregnant women and anyone helping them exercise their right to obtain an abortion.

The essence of Roe v. Wade is not simply a prohibition on governments’ restricting abortions. Instead, it is based on the notion that a woman has a right to privacy and to bodily integrity. The attempt of Texas to shirk its role in enforcing its abortion law should not be a valid workaround to avoid the obligations of Roe.

Yes, the new Texas law is an anti-woman law. It is also a pro-chaos law and an anti-rule-of-law law. If we begin outsourcing the enforcement of laws to citizens at large, the only law we will have left is the law of the jungle.

God help us! (So far, the Supreme Court hasn’t.)