American Opinion on Abortion 12 June 2019.

For a baseline, most Americans support Roe v. Wade.  To be clear, in that decision the Supreme Court of the United States (popularly SCOTUS) “ruled that during the first trimester, governments could not prohibit abortions at all; during the second trimester, governments could require reasonable health regulations; [and] during the third trimester, abortions could be prohibited entirely so long as the laws contained exceptions for cases when they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother.”[1]

Oddly for a democracy, many Americans don’t hold the same opinions on abortion as do their elected representatives.  Many people—both Democrats and Republicans—reject the maximalist positions of their parties.[2]  Some 40 percent of Democrats oppose abortion “for any reason” and some 29 percent of Republicans support abortion “for any reason.”  Better than a third (36 percent) of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 opposed using Medicaid money to pay for abortions, and better than half (58 percent) of all Americans opposed using Medicaid money to pay for abortions.  Basically, that’s the Hyde Amendment, which Joe Biden has just repudiated.

Why have the two parties missed out on this reality?  Well, they haven’t missed out.  They just don’t care.  Take the abortion-uncertain Democrats as one example.  They are more rural, more Southern, more politically “moderate,” less-educated[3], and more religious than most Democrats.  Basically, they live in areas and represent demographic groups that Democrats know they can’t win anyway.  So, why concede anything to the dissenters?  The same is probably true of Republican dissenters.  They’re probably more urban, more Northern, more educated, less religious, and more “moderate” than most Republicans.  Republicans aren’t going to win these regions or groups anyway, so why concede to the dissenters?[4]

Then–and this will be creepy for liberal Democrats–African-American Democrats (but I repeat myself) split 50-50 on abortion “for any reason.”[5]  At the same, public opinion supports abortion when the child is the result of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy endangers to life of the mother, or when the child would be born with some defect (i.e. Down syndrome like my sister Bronwyn[6]).

Anyway, abortion-rights is for Democrats what gun-rights is for Republicans: the issue mobilizes one-issue true-believers.[7]  No fixing America this way.

[1] According to a Gallup Poll, 60 percent of people support abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.  That would be within about 12 weeks.  That is, once a woman has figured out that she is pregnant, and has had some time to figure out how she feels about being pregnant, and has thought about whether she can manage a child, and has figured out how she will feel about terminating a pregnancy.  Put that way, people opposing abortion in this framework are just an immense collection of assholes.  IMHOP.

[2] Nate Cohn, “Crisp Battle Lines on Abortion Blur When Surveys Ask Voters,” NYT, 9 June 2019.

[3] Think about this for a minute.  Democrats with less education are more moderate than Democrats in general, let alone Democrats with more education.  Could one argue that more-educated people—Democrat and Republican—are messing-up our country?

[4] See: Clayton Christenson on Disruption.  Start at the bottom and eat upward.

[5] If I recall correctly—always a tricky issue—African-Americans also oppose gay rights.

[6] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ_4m2ocxhI  “Go fuck yourself you fucking child!”

[7] In 2015, there were 13,286 firearm deaths, excluding suicides.  According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, there were 638,169 abortions.  Put this way, gun control advocates are dealing with the lesser of two evils.  For those people who think that life begins at conception, abortion is a rolling-Holocaust.  Forced to choose between a child molester and a child murderer, about half of Alabama Republicans sat out the election.

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Zion Island 15.

Reichsarchiv.  Nachlasse Lange.  Personal letters.

20 July 1947.

My dear Lange[1],

You must be quite bored out there to be spending time reading old intelligence circulars and speculating on such idle questions.  Still, you recall quite correctly.  Here are the details in laymen’s terms.

In 1942 we had an outbreak of typhus in a Wehrmacht division on rest-and-retraining assignment here.  The doctors initially put it down to the men having returned with the disease from Russia.  As you know, it is common throughout the East.  The entire division went through an additional round of de-lousing with Zyklon-B.  However, some local French people then came down with it as well.  A young member of the medical staff who had been trained as an epidemiologist made further inquiries.

The French victims were all from a section of the town fairly removed from the camp.  The young doctor interviewed each of the French victims.  Being French and from the same neighborhood, they naturally shared many features and activities.  However, the doctor diligently eliminated one after another.  In the end, he found that they had all fallen sick soon after purchasing some butter on the black market.  All had purchased the butter from the same shop, ironically named “Au bon beurre”!  The shop-keeper immediately was interviewed.  He admitted to having purchased a large quantity of butter from a German mess-sergeant at the nearby-by base.  Shown photographs of all the mess-sergeants from the base, he picked out the guilty man.

The sergeant admitted the theft and sale, but that did not resolve the issue of the spread of the typhus.  Chemists examined the remains of the store of butter.  They reported that it had been infected with the germ that causes typhus!  Where had French butter come to be infected with typhus?  One answer would be to follow the path of the butter back from the mess stores to its point of production.  Another answer would be to try to identify the origin of the typhus infection.  The investigation bogged down for a time as we followed both lines of inquiry.

In the end, it turned out that a researcher at the Institut Pasteur had stolen the germ culture from a laboratory.  With the assistance of a friend who worked in Les Halles market, he had infected a shipment of butter consigned to the Wehrmacht camp.

So, yes, it is possible to “weaponize” diseases.  I hope that you and Dr. Mengele find this information useful.

H H,

Knochen.[2]

 

[1] Obersturmbannfuhrer der SS Dr. Rudolf Lange, Headquarters, Sipo-SD, Theresienstadt, Madagascar.

[2] Standartenfuhrer des SS Dr. Helmut Knochen, Office of the Police Attache, German Embassy, Paris.

Zion Island 14.

Reichsarchiv.  Nachlass Bach-Zalewski.  Private files–Miscellaneous.

Sipo-SD IV-B-4.

Partial transcript of a recorded conversation, Toamasina, Madagascar, 14 May 1948.

……….

MB[1]: So, you saw him?[2]

MA[3]: I saw him.  Talked to him.  Talked for hours.  Aliphas[4] met me at the train station and took me home.  It took a week to set up.

MB: And?  Will he help?  What did you tell him?

MA: I explained our situation, what it’s like here, how it isn’t what they put in the fucking papers, when they do put anything in the papers.  I told him from now on we had to be strong, rely on ourselves.

MB: And he agreed?  He understood?

MA: Eventually, yes, the little bastard agreed.  He’d seen that news-reel.  It took forever to talk him out of that.  He’s German, but he got out a long time before.  Everything is theoretical to him.

MB: Will he help us?  Does he understand what we want?

MA: Maybe.  There are a lot of moving parts.  A lot of things have to be organized.  Organized like we did in the old country.

MB: It’s going to take time, then.  If we have it.  They’re probably watching us even now.

MA: He gave me the name of a man, Raymond.  Arranged for me to see him.  I went to El Paso to see Raymond.  It’s just across the border.  Took the train up to the north.  Had to wade across the river in the night with a bunch of laborers just to get in.  Raymond says the place is like a fortress since the election.

[1] Menachem Begin: b. 1913, Brest-Litovsk, Russian Empire.

[2] Reference unclear.

[3] Mordechai Anielewicz: b. 1919, Warsaw, Russian Empire.

[4] Avram Aliphas: b. 1911, Kolno, Russian Empire; migrated to Palestine 1936; settled in Mexico 1940: taught at the Hebrew School in Mexico City.

 

In the Nineteenth Century, the United States prided itself on being the land of “Go-Getters.”[1]  A vast continent packed with natural resources awaited exploitation.  At the same time, American entrepreneurs felt a grievous need for labor to transform those riches into “riches.”  Partly the country satisfied that need through massive immigration.  Partly the country satisfied the need by technical innovation to substitute machines for men.  Partly, the “professional” standards were lower then.  People—men mostly—could try their hand at whatever caught their fancy.

Yet, with all the problems of using what the United States already possessed, there were people who wanted to expand the “Empire of Liberty” still more.  As the term “Manifest Destiny” began to buzz about, people began to ask in which directions that destiny lay.  For most, it meant expansion westward to the Pacific Ocean.  For others though, such notions reeked of reticence, even cowardice.  Everywhere one looked to the South of the United States one saw the same conditions: vast natural wealth going to waste, the “rule of ignorance and superstition” (a common term for the Catholic Church); and the brutal oppression of the many by the self-enriching few.  These were the hall-marks of mid-century Mexico, Spanish-ruled Cuba, and—worst of all—Central America.  By 1836, Texas had gained independence from Mexico; by 1848, California.  The Mexican-American War had ended with a definitive boundary between the two countries.  Still, why stop there?  Why not add southern lands or Pacific islands?

At the same time, the issue of slavery began to tear savagely at America.  All the political compromises banned slavery “north of” some line.  What if the United States—or some one acting on behalf of the United States—conquered foreign lands where slavery already existed or had recently existed?  The sectional “balance” might be restored in an enlarged United States.

It is against this background that we might see the career of William Walker (1824-186o).[2]  The Southern-born Walker tried to set-up an independent state of Sonora and Baja California (1853-1854).  He next invaded Nicaragua, where he made himself President (1855-1857).  In Nicaragua, Walker reinstated slavery, made English an official language, and encouraged immigration from the United States.  Kind of like Texas in the 1820s-1830s.  In the end, an army of understandably-nervous Central American oligarchs drove out Walker.  So, no Santa Ana.  In 1860 Walker took another swing at Central America by trying to invade Honduras.  He wound up having a last smoke in front of a pock-marked adobe wall as a dozen sweating soldiers fiddled with their weapons.

As a thought experiment, consider what would have happened if Walker had succeeded in adding Nicaragua and Honduras and a chunk (or all) of Mexico to the Estados Unidos.  Perhaps the Americans would have wiped out the “colonial legacy” from Spain.

Perhaps the new territory would have ended up like Texas and California.  Leaving aside the Democrat-Republican split, they are both big states with diverse populations, and are states with lots of natural resources and lots of industry.  Same might have happened to Central America if it had become part of the United States.  Perhaps everyone would have been better off?

[1] Not to be confused with the drag performer Carmen Geddit.

[2] Scott Martelle, William Walker’s Wars (2019).

American Opinion in June 2019.

According to a recent poll, ten percent of Americans believe that Donald Trump is the best president of their lifetime.[1]  Trump’s support was concentrated among older, white, men.  In particular, according to a Pew Trust analysis, “49 percent of those aged 30‒49 feel warmly toward him, 60 percent of those aged 50‒64 do, as did 56 percent of those over 65 years of age.”[2]  So, the enthusiastic ten percent may come from older voters.

In contrast to most voters, both Trump supporters and Trump opponents have some historical basis for judging “best” and “worst” presidents.  If someone was 50 in 2016, then they were born in 1966; if someone was 60 in 2016, then they were born in 1956; if someone was 70 in 2016, then they were born in 1946.  If we postulate that people start to become politically aware at age 20, then 2016 Trump voters became politically aware between 1966 and 1986.

What do they have to work with in terms of historical experience of the presidency?  They have late-stage Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam, the social turmoil associated with the “Great Society”); Richard Nixon (Vietnam, Watergate); Gerald Ford (the first “oil shock” and inflation); Jimmy Carter (second “oil shock,” inflation, Iran hostage crisis); Ronald Reagan (Paul Volker wringing out inflation, defeat of the “evil empire,” Iran-Contra); George H. W. Bush (Preppy in the White House, first Iraq War, “read my hips”); Bill Clinton (Eddie Haskell in the White House); George W. Bush (Frat Boy in the White House, 9/11, the flunked war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina); Barack Obama (Affordable Care Act, but also the Stimulus bill, rule by decree).

Experienced voters might be forgiven (although they will not be forgiven) for thinking that in their lifetime American government has run amuck and that the quality of presidents has deteriorated.  This ignores the reality that we have lived through very turbulent times that demanded government responses.  Many of these problems found no easy solution.  Still, is it possible that the typical voter follows the meta-narrative, rather than the micro-narrative?

Polls also showed that Trump appealed most to those with only a high-school education, but least to those with a college BA or more.  Well, auto-workers and steel-workers and a bunch of other workers used to be able to earn a middle-class income walking off the graduation stage and into an industrial job.  These people used to be a) Democratic voters, and b) the salt of the earth in Democratic discourse.[3]  Why did they stray, assuming it was the voters, rather than the party, that strayed?  Then, how does the educational profile of Trump voters compare with the educational profile of African-Americans?  Data suggest that educational attainment among African-Americans, measured in terms of BAs, is about two-thirds that of whites.[4]  How different is this from the educational profile of Trump voters?

The Pew poll also showed that core Trump voters believed—correctly—that free trade had harmed their own interests.  They believed that he would address illegal immigration, which they regarded as a serious problem.  They thought he was an awful person who might get things done.  “Those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 14 June 2019, p. 17.

[2] See: https://www.thoughtco.com/meet-the-people-behind-donald-trumps-popularity-4068073

[3] See: Norman Rockwell, “Freedom of Speech.”  https://www.periodpaper.com/products/1945-print-norman-rockwell-vermont-man-freedom-of-speech-open-forum-oil-painting-126405-xaa5-061

[4] See graph: https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/01/28/us-education-still-separate-and-unequal

Zion Island 13.

Reichsarchiv.  Nachlasse Bach-Zalewski.  Private files–Miscellaneous.

 

Sipo-SD IV-B-4.

Partial transcript of a recorded conversation, Theresienstadt, Madagascar, 14 August 1952.

 

(excerpt).

…..

AG[1]: There’s something else.  The piano player from Rick’s.  You’ve heard him?  Course you have.  You love the night-life.  I met him at a party.  There were a lot of people there and a lot of booze.  We ended up in one of the little groups late in the evening.

 

PR[2]: You ended up in the same group or he was working his way toward you?

 

AG: Dunno.  Could have been.  Turns out he’s not French or German either, the “Graf” aside.  He’s a Russian, one of the refugees.  Grew up in Shanghai, then the family moved to France maybe twenty years ago.  He speaks French and Russian, but also English and German.

 

PR: What’s he like?

 

AG: Smart.  Big talker, but not so much boasting.  More like he can run on and on with stories.  Lots of them funny.  Sort of puts you to sleep, like the doctor before an operation.  A feygele[3] I think.

 

PR: So why tell me?

 

AG: He wants to meet people.  Says it’s lonely being so far from home; says the Germans aren’t too interesting.  Said it in a way that might make you think he didn’t like them—without coming right out and saying so.  Also, he wants to see something of the island.  He says the steamer from Shanghai stopped here on the way to France when he was a boy, but he never got off the ship.

 

PR:  OK, I’ll tell them.  Try to avoid him until they decide.

 

[1] Abraham Gancwajch: b. 1902, Czestachowa, Russian Empire.  Head of Office to Combat Usury and Profiteering in the Resettlement Community.

[2] Perec Rachman, b: 1919, Lwow, Polish Republic.  Interned by Soviet Union, 1940.

[3] Yiddish: a man who is believed to be gay.