On McCain and me: Over the next five months, some of you are going to suspect me of being obsessed, and not in a good way, with John McCain. You're probably right. As Inigo Montoya would say, let me explain; no, it is too much, let me sum up. I was raised Reform Democrat, to the extent I was raised anything at all, but Jimmy frakking Carter turned me into a Republican. If you ask me to name the worst president of my lifetime, it's not Bush the Younger, nor Reagan, it's that dimwitted clumsy fundamentalist moron from Plains, Georgia who had a talent unmatched even by the present administration for spinning gold into straw. Had I not been cheated out of my vote in 1980, I would have voted for Reagan, because four more years of Jimmy frakking Carter would have completely and utterly destroyed this country.
Reagan did then go on to discredit Republican beliefs for me, turning me back into a Reform Democrat. But all through the 80s and 90s, I had my eye on one guy who I really thought could have stood for the kind of Barry Goldwater libertarian (with a small "L") Republicanism that I could have still gotten behind, a guy I easily preferred over at least half of the people in my own party; not coincidentally, someone personally mentored by Goldwater, John McCain. And when he started sucking up to the Taliban wing of the Republican Party, and then worse when he co-authored legislation authorizing our military courts to use confessions extracted via torture as evidence, it literally broke my heart; by the time he got around to recently abandoning any pretense of being a deficit hawk to endorse Bush's borrow-and-spend economic policies instead of his own lifetime obsession with sound economic policies, I was already too bitter to hate him any more. And so, like anybody who's been hurt badly by someone they loved, I'm sickly obsessed with trying to understand why they would hurt me like that. I will not defend this, and I can only half-heartedly apologize for it, but I do acknowledge it.
On civil wars: Whenever I bring up Strauss & Howe's dire warning (back in 1989) that if America's (then future) Baby Boomer leaders are allowed to force a crisis of principle any earlier than 2010, the result could be a second American civil war, people scoff at me. And yeah, unsurprisingly, already in the last couple of days I've had people ask me for examples of how such a thing could happen. Here's one thing I'll say about that. We've already come closer than I ever wanted to come in my life. The then-famous (and dangerously too-quickly forgotten) "White Collar Riot," in which thugs hired by top Republican elected officials used violence and the threat of mob violence to stop the counting of ballots scared me then, and still scares me, more than anything the terrorists have done or ever could do. If I had to choose between losing a city every couple of years to terrorist nukes and having our elections overtly disrupted by organized partisan violence against election boards even once in my life, I'd choose the terrorists. We can rebuild buildings. We can rebuild cities, if we have to, all evidence in New Orleans to the contrary. I am less confident that we can rebuild the Constitution if it gets destroyed. The prospect that any election might be The Last Election should scare any American enough to be prepared to fight in the streets to overthrow those who'd attempt it, no matter what the cost.
But there's an even more plausible scenario that worries me. Four of the current five Supreme Court justices have taken public stands that the federal government should not decide the "abortion issue," and many millions of Americans agree with them that America should be returned to the status quo ante Roe v Wade, where the legality of abortion is decided by state legislatures and state courts, permitting, banning, and/or regulating abortion on a state-by-state basis. After all, they argue, that's how we were for almost two centuries; what would be so bad about going back to before that? Ah, but that was before we had 35 years' worth of (fake) Christian fundamentalist politicians teaching two whole generations of their followers, easily a third or more of all self-identified Christians alive today, that Abortion Is Murder ... and that it's God's political and spiritual Issue Number One. Now I want you to imagine this. Substitute any two adjacent states in your mind, but I'll pick two close to me for the example: my own home state of Missouri and the adjacent state of Illinois, the two states that the bi-state metropolitan area of St. Louis straddles.
Polls show, and legislative history suggests, that if Roe v Wade were overturned, the Missouri legislature would ban all abortions, and the Missouri Supreme Court would uphold such a ban. Similar sources show that the Illinois legislature would continue to allow abortions, with roughly similar levels of regulation to those allowed by current Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th amendment, in other words, no particular change in the status quo. What this means is that Missourians, mostly quite happy to have successfully stopped the murder of children within their home state, would face the prospect of their citizens sneaking across the border into Illinois to murder a child, then trying to sneak back into Missouri to resume their lives. That's a situation that would be about as morally tolerable to them as the current situation of rich people jetting off to third-world hellholes with the intent of semi-safely hiring child prostitutes, with the added complication of being affordable and easy for anybody with even a beat-up used car and a tank of gasoline.
If you think Missourians wouldn't try to ban this and stop it, let me remind you that Missouri already has a law strictly penalizing any adult who "smuggles" a teenager across the border into Illinois to evade Missouri's parental-notification laws. Nonetheless, Missouri (and every similar state) would be at most no more successful at stopping such cross-border traffic, traffic guaranteed by the US Constitution's guarantee that all citizens have the right to interstate travel, than the slave states were at shutting down the Underground Railroad. Nor would they be any more successful at stopping out-of-state abortion clinics from advertising to Missourians (if nothing else, via the Internet) than slave states were at stopping abolitionists from getting their literature into the hands of southern blacks. And if you think that Missourians wouldn't resort to cross-border violence if the US Constitution wouldn't let them stop "the trade in murdered babies" any other way, let me remind you that for all practical purposes, Missouri's "border ruffians" invented "bushwacking." Heck, I'm pretty sure I had ancestors who were terrorists in "Bleeding Kansas."
From Dred Scott to Fort Sumter was only 4 years. I would seriously expect religious civil war between the states of the United States in no more time than that after an overturning of Roe v Wade.