Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wendy Davis: American Hero (UPDATED)

UPDATE II: It is done. Thanks to he courageous efforts of Wendy Davis, her fellows Texas Democrats and a massive throng of supporters acting to shout-down Republicans and run out the clock, the SB5 bill that would have effectively banned abortion in Texas has been killed.

There are two kinds of people in the word: Thinkers and Believers. Tonight, the Thinkers were also the Fighters - and they won. Thanks to them (for now) no woman in Texas can be forced into a life she did not choose because of someone else's beliefs she may not share or subscribe to.

This was a massive victory for progress and for reason, driven by genuine grassroots, bottom-up, digital-age activism and good old fashioned popular-outrage... and it happened in Texas. Not DC. Not New York. Not Boston. Not LA. Not even Oregon. TEXAS. You think your angry Fox News watching uncles were feeling obsolete and panicky before? Now they know they can't even get away with this shit in Texas anymore.

UPDATE I: The live-stream has ended, it is well past midnight in Texas but it is still chaos in the Texas State Legislature - no one is sure exactly what has or has not happened...

Just under two hours before Wendy Davis' filibuster time would've needed to conclude, the Republican legislators mobilized a series of dubiously-relevant parliamentary maneuvers to shut her down - one relating to her need of a back-brace (and of a second person to help apply it) constituted breaking the "remain standing under your own power" rule regarding filibusters in Texas.

During the ensuing debate over this (during which time she remained standing) her fellow Democrats worked to use parliamentary shenanigans of their own to delay the vote past the 12:00am CST deadline. As the clock rolled over to 12:01, however, Republicans had already begun a roll-call as lead-in to a vote; interrupted constantly by deafening cheers and jeers from pro-choice protesters who had assembled in the gallery. As of 1:27am in Texas, NONE of the major U.S. cable news networks has opted to interupt their reruns of the previous evening's editorial programs to cover the story; but at it's height 160,000 people were watching it unfold on internet livestream.

The situation as of right now is thus: The timestamp on the "official" (according to Republicans) vote is AFTER Midnight, meaning that legally it should be invalid. Republicans are (supposedly) claiming that allowable time can be/was extended because of the interruptions from the crowd. Democrats are (apparently) saying that the law does not afford that option - others are offering screenshots claiming that Republicans physically changed the timestamp from illegal to legal - and they will challenge any attempt to enshrine it as such when business officially re-opens.

In other words: This fight is going to continue, and will likely wind up either in the courts, under review of the Justice Department or both. Some serious shit went down here - and it was watched (and make no mistake captured) live on the web by hundreds of thousands. This is going to get ugly, interesting and will likely not be resolved anytime soon.


There are, fundamentally, two kinds of people in the world: Thinkers and Believers.* Thinkers may not have all the solutions, but in the modern world Believers cause almost all of the problems. Today, Thinkers have a heroine in Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.

Background: Right-wing anti-abortion zealots (but I repeat myself) in Texas have used legislative control of the state government (because there's nothing "States Rights!!!!"-absolutist conservatism can't destroy if it puts its mind to it) to push through a draconian bill that will effectively ban reproductive choice in the state. Republicans have an iron grip on the whole of the state's political machinery, and would be able to simply force this thing through save for one thing: A now seven-hour long and counting fillibuster by ONE Senator, Wendy Davis.

By law, so long as she remains standing (without even so much as leaning) and speaking and/or taking questions from fellow Democrat Senators until the end of the day, she can hold up the special legislative session and the bill will not be able to pass at this time. If she succeeds, it will have taken her 13 hours to do so. You can watch the livestream of this even HERE.

Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to gut the most important Civil Rights legislation since Abolition because, in their view, enough time had passed that certain historically-problematic States no longer required the extra oversight of the federal government to keep them from pulling regressive bullshit in regards to Civil Rights. That this kind of bill can still happen, with only the arcane notion of a physical endurance test to stop it, should be illustration enough of just how disastrously wrong they were.

*Not that I should need to explain this again, but "Thinkers vs Believers" is not about religion or atheism. It's about an approach to the world - critical thinking, logic, reason, acknowledgment of reality and the primacy of science. There are plenty of Thinkers who are religious, and a great number of Believers who call themselves "atheists."