Nel's New Day

October 26, 2022

DDT’s Gubernatorial Endorsements Dangerous

Thirty-six states will elect governors in November, 20 of them held by Republicans. All nine states are currently held by women, and eight of the races are open. Seven states have only women candidates, and another four have female incumbents.

In Alaska, ranked choice voting voting means races can have four candidates, and Charlie Pierce, a Republican running against the GOP incumbent Mike Dunleavy, has been credibly charged with sexual harassment including unwanted physical touching. The other two candidates are a Democrat and an unaffiliated.

In Maryland, Dan Cox, DDT’s endorsement against existing Gov. Larry Hogan’s preference, was filmed accepting a gift from the Proud Boys, a group storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Cox organized buses to take people to Washington, D.C. on January 6. His website erased prominent references to DDT who held a fundraiser for Cox at Mar-a-Lago. The campaign for Cox’s opponent Wes Moore, has outraised Cox 10-to-1 in the state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. In early October, Moore was ahead, 60 percent to 28 percent. 

Two other DDT-endorsed gubernatorial candidates are more frightening.

In Arizona, Kari Lake displays the polish she gained as a TV news personality, and the state may provide enough MAGA crazies to vote her in, with a polling one percent ahead of her opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She describes her lies as facts, including the falsehood that Joe Biden lost the 2020 presidential election. Despite Arizona Republicans claiming “election integrity” by passing “one of the worst voter suppression laws in the nation” for the purported purpose of “election integrity,” Lake still declares election outcomes should be doubted, and she declines to accept a loss.

Lake also:

  • Threatens to cancel the Super Bowl if the NFL disagree with her immigration policies. She said, “I’m not going to be taking marching orders from the NFL.”
  • Accused China of poisoning people in Arizona with fentanyl in an attempt to “take down civilization,” apparently a reference to the 19th-century opium wars when Great Britain smuggled opium from India into China.
  • Told people not to take any precautions against COVID because “hydroxychloroquine works” and sells a t-shirt with the image of a burning mask.
  • Said that her opponent would be in jail by Election Day and promised she would criminally prosecute journalists who “dupe the public.”
  • Approved an ad from from an anti-Islam and anti-LGBTQ pastor who preaches the “submission of the wife.” 
  •  Thinks low majority votes for President Joe Biden should all be decertified to overturn his 2020 election.
  • Endorsed Oklahoma candidate Jarrin Jackson, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ nationalist extremist saying “Jews will go to hell” and LGBTQ is a “gateway to pedophilia.”
  • Announced her “team is triple-confirming … some really painful hurtful news” about her opponent that would shake up the race. The new, which turned out to be wrong, was that Hobbs fought to keep the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution out of Arizona’s public school classrooms. The 2018 law added the state motto to Lake’s cited documents already permitted to be read or posted in classrooms. Lake and her team can’t read a state statute, and she’s never held any elected office.
  • Used footage of Russian troops marching in a “victory parade” in her political ad when she says she will “stand with Arizona’s border sheriffs.”
  • Said Arizona’s strict anti-abortion1864 law will put more rapists in jail but didn’t explain how.
  • Accepted hundreds in donations from people convicted of serious sex offenses while accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children.
  • Worried academicians with threats of “cleaning up show” at Arizona State University.

On Indigenous People’s Day, Lake’s campaign manager compared all Native Americans to bloodthirsty savages who engage in human sacrifice in a tweet with an image of human sacrifice by an ancient Mesoamerican civilization thousands of miles from Arizona.

Arizonans are filing complaints about voter harassment. Two armed and masked men wearing tactical gear staked out a drop box in Maricopa County and left only after the police were called. Local sheriffs tried to intervene in a standoff between the armed men and people observing the watchers, and several voters reported being intimidated at the same location. Mark Finchem, candidate for secretary of state, sent people to “watch all drop boxes” and repeated the lie that voters dropping off ballots were “ballot mules,” from the lies in the movie 2000 Mules, and covering their license plates. People are doing so for personal safety, and the men in masks also covered up their license plates. Writing about Clean Elections USA run by QAnon election conspiracist Melody Jennings, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino filed complaints that that “vigilante groups have already turned away voters.”

Lies about election fraud led to anonymous violent threats using vile obscene language targeting Arizona’s election officials. Threatening letters to the Democratic party stated that judges not fully sentencing election fraud will be “dealt with” as a traitor. Letters also threaten to publish personal details of judges and sheriffs. The state is at the top for threats against these officials and poll workers which includes photographing them and following them.

In North Carolina, election officials in at least 15 counties have reported violations of poll watchers harassing voters and trying to get into restricted areas to view confidential voting records.

In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano could be even more dangerous as governor because he also selects the secretary of state, in charge of elections. He promised to pick one who would certify DDT. Mastriano is so scary that GOP leaders support his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, and a GOP organization is posting billboards asking people to vote for Shapiro.

Mastriano:

  • Wants to prosecute women for murder if they have abortions.
  • Claims that banning books is “not a book ban.”
  • Calls any book mentioning LGBTQ people “pornographic.”
  • Promises to ban “pole dancing” in the schools “on day one” but can’t name any school teaching pole dancing—because there aren’t any.
  • Plans to fund private schools with public school funding and eliminate school property taxes.
  • Hopes to de-register all approximately nine million registered voters in Pennsylvania and require them to register again.
  • Registered to vote in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania for 11 years.
  • Led a crowd at a rally in a “liberty oath,” swearing they would fight like in the Civil war to experience a “new birth” in Pennsylvania. Days before the January 6 insurrection, he called on fellow DDT supporters to “rise up” and overthrow the government.
  • Sued the House January 6 investigative committee for interviewing him.
  • Asked for “40 days of fasting and prayer” to support his campaign. The Christian nationalist averages 8.6 points behind Shapiro.

At the University of New Brunswick, a U.S. history professor declared Mastriano’s Ph.D. was undeserved and his dissertation about World War II soldier Alvin York atrocious academic work—dishonest, sloppy, fanatical, and tinged with religious zealotry. During his “research,” Mastriano ruined an archeological site in France and then used his degree to deflect criticism for his wearing a Confederate uniform in a faculty photo at the Army War College. The professor said the fanaticism and indifference to facts are apparent in the candidate’s public life. The university hid Mastriano’s 2013 dissertation, even its title, until last August. Some of the “fraudulent” fabrications.

Mastriano holds mostly closed events, keeps reporters away from him at public events, and hires the Christian militia and former Oath Keepers for his security team. Several of them from the Lifegate Church in Elizabethtown (PA) may not have received the training requiring by state law. His church’s mission is to control government by electing their Christians, and the property has political yard signs. Members gained seven seats on the local GOP committee which some describe as “a hostile takeover.” Three days before the January 6 insurrection, a social media post connected to the Pennsylvania Oath Keepers, split from the national group in 2015, alluded to armed veterans violently resisting election results.

“Prophet” Julie Green, head of Green Ministries who receives direct prophecies from God, says she has a “special relation” with Mastriano. Some of her other claims: Biden is not alive, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drinks “children’s blood”; God will execute political figures; Rep. Ilhan Omar is “a spy”; and several prominent lawmakers who failed DDT will soon die. Green promises not to “forsake” Mastriano.

Back in Georgia, a second woman claims anti-abortion Herschel Walker, the GOP U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia, pressured her to get an abortion. As in the first case, Walker denied the allegation from his ex-girlfriend. He had a six-year relationship with her while he was married. Despite his anti-Christian actions, evangelical voters support him because they only want to take the Senate. Walker, GOP also sent his supporters a flyer urging early voting—with the wrong date. His one debate with opponent Sen. Raphael Warnock showed he is trainable: his comments were less garbled.

Walker has company carrying a fake police badge: MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell brandished his own badge at DDT’s October 21 rally in Texas when he told people not to vote before Election Day. If anyone is accused of already voting, he said, “Go to your local sheriff.” He concluded, “Sheriffs and judges … are gonna bring this country back. They gave me a badge. I’m semi-official.”

October 23, 2022

News – Week Ending October 23, 2022

Update on possibility of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) testifying live to House January 6 investigate committee: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this won’t happen; DDT won’t be allowed to turn his testimony into a “circus” or a “food fight.” About House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement he may take military aid from Ukraine, Cheney accused him of becoming “the leader of the pro-Putin wing of my party” and added that McCarthy “always chooses to serve his own political purpose.” After McCarthy’s mentor DDT put the U.S. a further $8 trillion into debt, McCarthy said he must “eliminate wasteful spending.”

By now, the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister after 44 days, the shortest term for any British PM, is old news. The head of lettuce won, lasting longer than she did when the contest began a week earlier. The event ended in a fanfare of colored lights and messages of congratulations for the crowned lettuce as Truss’ photo was laid down to the sound of “God Save the King.” Celebratory alcohol was provided by the lettuce joined by fruit and vegetable friends. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for 11 days, 33 days fewer than Truss, praised her after she “outlasted the milk in the refrigerator.”  

Truss’ resignation leaves her with the possibility of $129,000 for any business expenses and another almost $100,000 pension, available to any PM lasting over 42 days, and depending on how well the British pound does after her departure. She can add that to her net worth of almost $10 million. Traumatized by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ 44 days in office, the British public now must cope with who will assume leadership.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin described Truss’ failure in six weeks and concluded:

“If you like what Brexit and Truss have done for the British economy, vote Republican. If you prefer prosperity, then don’t.

Her warning is reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s question in 2000 before George W. Bush lowered taxes and started two wars:

“What are you afraid of? Four more years of prosperity?”

Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss, has again thrown his hat into the ring despite tax scandals for both himself and his wife, Akshata Murty. Together they are worth £730 million, over twice the assets of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Runak and Murty keep their money, he with a U.S. green card until last year promising to become a citizen and paying less taxes and she with her non dom classification, permitting her to pay an annual maximum of £30,000 a year instead of taxes on foreign income. She has saved millions of pounds on taxes for her dividends in her father’s firm, India-based Infosys, which did business with Russia after British sanctions because of the invasion of Ukraine.  

Upsetting senior Tories, former PM Boris Johnson flew back to Britain to drum up support for another win. Without sufficient support, Johnson changed his mind and said that he couldn’t govern with a unified party. In a BBC poll of 357 conservative MPs, only 227 were willing to go public with their support, Johnson came out far below Sunak. The runner-up ran against Truss last time.

  • Rishi Sunak – 146 MPs
  • Boris Johnson – 57 MPs
  • Penny Mordaunt – 24 MPs

Only Mordaunt and Sunak have announced they are running. A candidate requires at least 100 votes from MPs. If over two receive 100 or more votes, the one with the fewest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Conservative MPs then vote their preference between the two, and the candidates are then sent to the conservative party members who vote online. Last time, Truss was selected with 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) in a country with a population of over 67 million.

Fed up with gun violence in Canada, much less than in the U.S., Canada is banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of all handguns within the country and cannot bring them from outside the country. The bill was introduced after 19 children were killed in Uvalde (TX) on May 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship.”

A government buyback for assault-style rifles is planned, and further restrictions in Bill C-21 are being debated in the House of Commons.

Those who worry about President Joe Biden running again in 2024 at the age of 81 should consider that the GOP may elect a 90-year-old man to be third in succession for the president in 2022. He could hold that position for the next six years. Chuck Grassley could become President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, the position held by the most senior senator in the majority party. The current pro tem, 82-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is not seeking re-election. Resurgence against Grassley

Alaskan Republicans tried to do away with ranked choice voting in the state after Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for U.S. House. The state Supreme Court rejected their constitutional challenge.

A Miami judge dismissed one rigged arrest by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of a man convicted in 1991 who voted in 2020 after a clerk told him he was eligible to register to vote. The other 18 voter prosecutions may meet the same fate. Videos of the arrests show police officers not understanding the offense. A state constitutional amendment restores voting rights to most people with felonies, but Republicans said that they were ineligible until they paid all fines and fees.

Texas state police Capt. Joel Betancourt is under investigation because he ordered his officers to stay out of the school over 70 minutes while 19 children were massacred on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde (TX). State trooper Sgt. Juan Maldonado, the highest ranking officer at the scene at the Uvalde (TX) massacre of 19 children, was fired because he didn’t go into the building although arriving four minutes after the shooting began. He is the third law enforcement and first state police officer to be sacked for lack of response.

The postal service plans to implement “extraordinary measures” delivering ballots for 2022, compared to those measures opposing them two years. These new measures include extra deliveries and collections, special pickups, expanded hours at processing facilities, and fast-tracking ballots to election officials through and bypassing some standard mail processing procedures. Employees are also being trained to speed ballot deliveries. A joint task force between postal unions and management oversees ballot delivery. In a lawsuit settlement last year, the agency agreed to keep these measures for federal elections until at least 2028.

GOP Georgians have challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year regarding voting eligibility, but they can no longer do this with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their votes. About 97 percent of the challenges have been dismissed.  

A North Carolina judge has denied a GOP request to temporarily use signature-matching requirements for mail-in ballots; election officials must could these ballots even if the signature doesn’t exactly match the one on the voter registration record. County election boards will have the discretion to make the determination.

Federal officials will recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid and stop deporting those pardoned for crimes by a state board. The decision reverses a hard-line stance from DDT’s administration that changed six decades of practice by singling out Connecticut. DDT didn’t reverse the same practice in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah.

Same-gender spouses can qualify for a higher rate of survivor benefits requiring eight years of marriage even if they didn’t meet the mandate because of being unable to be married before the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, according to the VA. The agency now begins the duration of the rights beginning with when the couple established a “marriage-type” relationships including commitment ceremonies, joint banking accounts, or joint purchase of a home. Benefits are now retroactive to October 11, 2022.  

Last week, that Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy Twitter that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers. https://www.reuters.com/technology/twitters-workforce-likely-be-hit-with-massive-cuts-coming-months-report-2022-10-20/      Twitter said it isn’t true, but the current management planned to trim the payroll by $800 million, one-fourth of the workforce.

The EPA plans to investigate allegations of racist federal spending in Mississippi causing the Jackson city’s water system disaster. The state is suffering from another scandal, this one when former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money intended for low-income families. GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has joked about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson, 82 percent Black, while the water crisis in Jackson was dire. Leaders of two congressional committees are also starting a joint investigation into the crisis leaving most homes and businesses in Jackson without running water for several days in late August and early September.  NAACP President Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson with his family,

 Michigan opponents to an anti-abortion ballot proposal, Proposal 3, have found a new way to force child-birth on women by keeping a 1931 law: they falsely claim the measure to retain “reproductive rights” permits transgender minors can get sterilized by repealing parental consent laws.

August 21, 2022

Whither GOP Abortion Bans

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:07 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last spring, a leaked draft of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and denying women their reproductive rights spread like wildfire throughout the world. Republicans started to panic because its potential affect on the 2022 midterms but hoped that the new would be as disastrous as it sounded. On June 24, the high court, with the support of six Supremes, released the decision, and the draft, filled with irrational arguments, was official with almost no changes. GOP legislators kept hoping the result wouldn’t be as bad as they feared, but the fallout has been worse than they might have feared.

The polls showed a majority rejected the Supreme Court decision, and the first state initiative supporting Roe, this one in highly-GOP Kansas, followed the strong support for abortion rights on the same day as the August 2 primary with 59 percent voting for rights, despite the lies of the anti-abortionist activists to confuse the vote. With no evidence, anti-abortionists refused to accept the vote: nine of the 105 Kansas counties insisted on a recount of the votes. In eight of these countries, 32 votes were changed in the 543,855 votes supporting abortion rights. Thirteen fewer votes favored tighter abortion restrictions, and 19 fewer votes favored the retention of current rights. One county didn’t meet the August 20 deadline at 5:00 pm.   

Kansas was the first loss after the Roe overturning for anti-abortionists who planned to use ballot measures for their movement, a strategy that they have run since the Roe decision in 1973. In over 50 years, 85 percent of abortion-related measures on state ballots have been proposed by anti-abortion groups. Voters approved only one-fourth of them while accepting 57 percent of abortion rights ballot initiatives, all before 1992. Kentucky, Michigan, California, Vermont, and Montana have abortion rights initiatives on the November ballot. A history of abortion initiatives by year.

While 14 states partially or completely banned telemedicine abortion, used in 54 percent of all abortions, Massachusetts’ new law protects telemedicine abortion providers serving patients in states banning abortions by mailing medication and giving telemedicine abortion care.  Massachusetts providers proving legal abortion care cannot be extradited to another state where the practice is illegal. The law prevents anyone from providing information or help to law enforcement or private citizens against the providers, and they can countersue if they are prosecuted in criminal or civil lawsuits. Their licenses are protected and their malpractice insurance is kept within reach for those who face out-of-state civil lawsuits while providing lawful abortion care in Massachusetts. With no requirement of parental consent, minors ages 16 and 17 can receive care. Other required benefits for these Massachusetts legal abortion providers.

In Nebraska, a 17-year-old girl was criminally charged for an abortion of a fetus over 20 weeks. She will be tried as an adult, and her mother has also been charged. Officials discovered the abortion by investigating the girl’s Facebook messages.

Michigan has been struggling over a 1931 ban on abortion. A state judge finally blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the 91-year-old law after the state Court of Appeals claimed that these prosecutors could enforce the prohibition. Although Republicans previously claimed that doctors and pregnant people getting abortions wouldn’t be charged, the law states both these categories of people, including those using medication for abortions, could be guilty of felonies. An exception to “preserve the life” of the mother is vague. Like other states with GOP legislatures, Michigan didn’t repeal the law after the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Idaho Republicans took only seven days to pass the trigger law banning abortion in 2020. Public testimony wanted the law more restrictive by removing exceptions for rape and incest. With no medical professionals in the discussion, situations such as ectopic pregnancies or other medical problems weren’t even mentioned. Abortions are blocked after six weeks of pregnancy, before women know they are pregnant. Convicted doctors facilitating an abortion after that time face two to five years in prison.

The law needed a federal appeals court to deem a similar law constitutional, which occurred in July. The state Supreme Court refused to temporarily stop these laws during legal challenges; it takes effect on August 25 unless a federal judge intervenes in a fourth lawsuit. Technically the law went into effect on August 12 when the law permitting relatives of an embryo or fetus aborted after six weeks, including the family of a rapist, to sue the doctor in civil court for a minimum of $20,000 for a fetus aborted after six weeks.

A DOJ lawsuit to block the Idaho law asserts it violates a federal law requiring Medicaid-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients experiencing medical emergencies. Seventeen states oppose the DOJ case, stating that hospitals can just turn down federal funding.

Twenty states side with the DOJ and claim that their own residents would be at risk for a medical emergency while pregnant and in Idaho. Neighboring states such as Oregon and Washington expressed concern about the “spillover effect” if Idaho patients with ectopic pregnancies or other emergencies are forced to seek out-of-state care. Coalitions of major medical associations, including the American College of Emergency Physicians  and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also filed briefs in the case because Idaho’s law is too vague and difficult to medically interpret. It would also force health care providers to choose between violating state law and being charged with a crime or violating federal law and facing fines and the loss of federal funding.

People who live in red states with abortion bans can expect even greater problems with such issues as corporations boycotting the state, medical schools failing to recruit, communities unable to enlist doctors including obstetricians and gynecologists. Indiana immediately began to experience this difficulty when pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, one of the state’s biggest employers, said the company would look elsewhere for expansion. Republican legislators in the state are so radical that 35 of them are comfortable with a woman being forced to carry a dead fetus to full term.

In Indiana, 27 percent of the counties are considered maternity care deserts with limited or no access to maternal care, and the state has one of the nation’s highest maternal mortality rates, 52 deaths per 100,000 births—twice the U.S. average. In a recent survey of almost 1,400 residents and fellows at the IU School of the medicine, 80 percent said they are less likely to remain in the state after the abortion ban. Indiana is the home of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the doctor persecuted by the state’s AG for performing a legal abortion on a ten-year-old girl.

Doctors who have a family practice worry not only about the abortion ban but also potential restrictions on fertility treatment and contraception such as IUDs and Plan B medication. Most Indiana Republicans voted against a measure protecting the right to contraception.

The abortion ban is leaching over into the false belief of “personhood” from fertilization. The myth of an early heartbeat is actually the sound manufactured by the ultrasound machine, an electrical pulse. The heart does not exist as any kind of structure until ten weeks when an embryo becomes a fetus, and the term “heartbeat” is not accurate until 17 to 20 weeks. At six weeks, the embryo develops a tube generating sporadic electrical impulses, according to Dr. Ian Fraser Golding, a pediatric and fetal cardiologist at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.

Even so, Georgia’s anti-abortion law gives $3,000 state income tax exemption for “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” (aka the ultrasound machine). At that point, the embryo “shall qualify as a dependent minor,” according to Georgia law.

Wisconsin anti-abortion law goes back to 1849, predating Michigan’s law by 82 years. The arguments within the GOP, however, demonstrate the party’s struggle to agree. The GOP Assembly speaker Robin Vos, running for another term despite the attempts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to vote him out of the primary, wants to reinforce the exception for a woman’s life and adding other exceptions such as rape and incest. Others want to make the law as restrictive as possible. Nine states currently have laws banning abortion from conception, with three more to take effect on August 25.

The red states moving to restrict or ban abortion are the most likely to provide the least care for pregnant women and the children they deliver.

  • Worst maternal and child health outcomes.
  • More difficulty in getting health insurance.
  • Refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • More child poverty.
  • More babies born with low birth weight, indicating serious health problems.
  • Highest infant and maternal mortality rates.
  • Less access to care for pregnant women.
  • Less financial support for families and children.

At this time, 40 percent of single mothers and their children live in poverty.

Despite all the laws, only 16 percent of Republicans say abortion generally should be “illegal in all cases.” Most Republicans said their state should generally allow a pregnant person to obtain a legal abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness (61 percent), the person became pregnant as the result of rape or incest (77 percent) or if the pregnant person’s health is seriously endangered (85 percent). The GOP based insists on total abortion bans; others consider extenuating circumstances.

June 6, 2022

Draft for Overturning Roe – An Abuse on Religion, History

It’s June, and the U.S. Supreme Court has 33 cases yet to announce, including the possibility of overturning the almost 50-year-old Roe v. Wade permitting abortion for the first trimester and state regulation for the pregnant person’s health during the second and third trimesters. Samuel Alito’s rough draft for at least five conservative justices relies on mistaken religious, historical, scientific, and constitutional information.  

The cited religious freedom belongs only to Christian evangelicals who believe life begins at conception and fetuses are “babies.” The less religious conservative justices won’t believe constitutional “separation of church and state.” The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In theory, that line should give the same rights to Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahais, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics as to evangelicals. Christian evangelicals,  taking control of law in the U.S., believe everyone must follow strict fundamental Christianity, like Islam shariah law.

Rabbi Robert B. Barr and Rachel Smith of Congregation Beth Adam in Loveland (OH) wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer arguing that Justice Samuel Alito wants to impose a highly strict interpretation of Christianity on everyone in the United States.

“Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization proposes an alarming erosion of the vital wall that separates church from state—between personally held religious beliefs and our shared government. If the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the draft opinion, the Court will be issuing an historic, precedent-breaking opinion based on the religious beliefs held by many of the current justices. Religion will be dictating public policy.”

Their position is that freedom of religion should not be determined by Supreme Court justices. The op-ed explains:

“The establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits all levels of government from advancing or inhibiting religion. The Constitution prohibits the government from favoring one religious view over another or favoring religion over non-religion, and yet, that is exactly what this proposed opinion will do. This Court’s decision would adopt a narrow religious-based definition of when life begins and impose it on everyone in our nation. While some religions believe life begins at conception, others do not. Yet, the Court will impose one set of religious beliefs on everyone.”

According to Judaism, a fetus is “not a separate and independent life from the pregnant person.” The religion permits abortion if the pregnant person’s physical or psychological health is endangered. According to author Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Talmud declares the fetus as “mere water” for the first 40 days. Overturning Roe imposes one notion about the beginning life on everyone.

Reform Judaism permits abortion in case of rape or incest, when genetic testing determines the fetus has a disease causing death or severe disability, and the birth would be an impossible situation for the parents. Other reasons for abortion are for a single woman, age under 17, and risk to the woman’s health. This difficult decision is made by the pregnant woman with consultation with a trusted person such as a physician or rabbi.

Muslim scholars believe that a fetus is not a life until it’s “ensouled,” according to lawyer and commentator on Islamic law Abed Awad. Islamism allows abortions up to 120 days.

State lawmakers have flagrantly made it clear that they consider abortion a Chrisian issue in their drive to make the U.S. a “Christian” nation of far-right, fundamentalist views:

Louisiana: State Democratic Sen. Katrina Jackson said that “this is a God issue.” Last year, she said, “My goal in this office was to do the will of God… My concern is always, number one, that I not offend God.”

Alabama: GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said, “This legislation states as a powerful testament … that every life is a sacred gift from God.” GOP state Sen. Clyde Chambliss said, “I believe that if we terminate the life of an unborn child, we are putting ourselves in God’s place.”

Missouri: GOP State Rep. Holly Rehder gave her reason for forcing victims of rape and incest to remain pregnant: “We can do that with the love of God.”

Former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and VP Mike Pence echoed the “sacred gift from God” and “sanctity of every human life.”

Extremist anti-abortion laws forces extremist religious perspectives on state laws while all other religious perspectives are overridden. Contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers, these legislative laws will impose mandates on everyone, no matter what their religious beliefs are.

In addition to basing his decision on one decision of a minority, Alito demonstrated his weak grasp of history. He wrote:

“An unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

In early America, women could “restore their menses” until after “quickening,” the time when the pregnant person feels the fetus kicking and/or stirring which happens between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy. Shared knowledge during this time, sometimes in published health manuals, gave directions for inducing miscarriages. The Married Lady’s Companion recommended quinine, black hellebore, or juniper; Indigenous women used black cohosh roots; and Black slaves had snakeroot, cotton root, and okra along with drugs sold by traveling salesmen in New England during the mid-1700s.

In writing about “deep history,” Alito used the words of a 13th-century judge who endorsed human slavery and a 17th-century judge who sentenced witches to executions and endorsed marital rape. [Right: Matthew Hale, Alito’s 17th-century legal authority.] 

The first anti-abortion laws in the U.S. passed by some states in the 1820s and 1830s banned drugs to induce miscarriages in women, “then quick with child.” Their purpose was to punish men who tried to escape marrying seduced women by giving them abortifacients and referred only to quickening. Alito ignored this legal history, including judicial rulings that cases could not be brought for abortion before quickening. He ignored this information in an amicus brief from two major professional associations of historians in the United States, representing the views of over 10,000 scholars and teachers. Instead he used the work of only one legal writer, rejected by most scholars because it “distorts the evidence.” 

Alito references laws from the 1860s and 1870s when pregnancies were criminalized because of a small group of self-interested white, male physicians anxious about their status as both doctors and as elite men who formed the American Medical Association. Women saw their treatment as “violent” and excessive, preferring midwives, homeopaths, and other “irregular” practitioners. Male doctors who massaged women’s vulvas to calm their “hysteria” also kept abortions legal to perform them for medical reasons.

The medical men were hostile to women’s activism and middle-class women preferring to restrict their families’ sizes and accused them of wanting “fashion” and politics over motherhood. Dr. Horatio Storer, the medical leader of the anti-abortion movement, wrote that “the true wife” did not seek “undue power in public life . . . [or] privileges not her own.” He and his AMA colleagues opposed women in the medical profession and pushed the racist fear of immigrants taking over the U.S. –the 150-year-old “replacement” theory—because white women didn’t want huge families. Instead, the U.S. would be taken over by “aliens,” Chinese, and Catholics. Alito claimed the words came from just “one prominent opponent,” but Storer was the underlying force driving criminalization of abortions as state and local medical societies used his essays, data, memorials, and letters to persuade lawmakers of the necessity to criminalize abortion at all states.

Prosecuting abortion providers and sometimes women seeking abortions was combined with shaming and punishing them through humiliation investigations. Abortions went underground where it wasn’t regulated, or women performed harmful practices on themselves. Chicago’s Cook County Hospital had an entire ward for septic abortion cases until 1973 when Roe made the procedure legal.

[Information thanks to Leslie J. Reagan, a professor of history and law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and author of When Abortion Was a Crime and Dangerous Pregnancies.]

The term “opinion” when referring to Alito’s rough draft is accurate: his assertions about fetal development, abortion procedures, and international laws are disputed or are open to interpretation. Even pregnant women know he’s wrong. In the Atlantic, Chavi Karkowsky, a medical doctor in New York City and author of High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected, points out Alito’s separation from reality.

All Alito’s mistakes may not be his own: his rough draft shows an uncanny similarity to a brief by Texan Jonathan F. Mitchell for the state’s anti-abortion law allowing people to sue anyone supporting an abortion, even verbal discussions. Filed for Texas Right to Life, the brief was coauthored by Mitchell’s colleague Adam K. Mortara. The words and ideas are much alike—rejection of stare decisis, the language of the constitution disallowing the right to abortion, and the lack of reason for retaining the “contract” of Roe. Both believe that women won’t lose their autonomy without abortion because they can “control their reproductive lives.” As usual, they use the term “unborn human beings” instead of correct terminology.

The question is whether Alito will fix all these mistakes in his final draft.

January 7, 2022

GOP Continues Its Shameful Behavior

Until January 6, 2022, President Joe Biden occasionally referred to Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) only as “the other guy.” In his speech commemorating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol one year earlier, however, he consistently condemned the lies told by “the former president of the United States” and how destructive the statements from “the former president” are for democracy in the United States. Biden didn’t use DDT’s name once in his 16 references to DDT, one time calling him a “defeated former president” and declaring that his outsized ego won’t allow him to admit he lost.

DDT wasn’t happy about Biden’s speech. Banned from social media for his lying, DDT issued press releases with accusations that the U.S. has corrupt elections, isn’t energy independent, and has a deteriorating international standing. He continued with the false claim about the “rigged” 2020 presidential election—and the same lie again. The next one accused Democrats of trying to “stop the peaceful transfer” of power and made claims of new evidence that Georgia, who he begged for just 11,780 more votes for his win, was selling ballots for $10 and frequent statement about the election itself being “the real insurrection.”

Biden, however, didn’t let the insurrectionists off the hook. He said:

“Those who stormed this Capitol, and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so, held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy. They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage — not in service of America but rather in service of one man.

“You cannot love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

Republicans angrily berated Biden for his lack of unity and plaintively crying about how Biden was “politicizing” January 6. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the strangest comment:

“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”

Other shameful events:

Numerous studies point out the massive ignorance of Fox watchers, and their “reporting” on January 6 was a prime example of why. During the many events commemorating the biggest disaster in the U.S. since 9/11, Fox featured a video of a painting dog. On Fox & Friends between 6:20 and 9:00 am, the insurrection anniversary received two slight mentions, a news headline package and Brian Kilmeade’s suggestion that Biden was trying to divert attention to les damaging topics for him. Lara Trump talked about how much time Biden spent in Delaware (not as much as her father-in-law’s disappearance from the White House), a nurse discussed her firing for not being vaccinated, a former U.S. Marine complained about Biden’s Afghanistan pullout, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced distribution of COVID test kits but omitted his allowing almost one million of them to expire from nonuse.

Newsmax, a more conservative network than Fox, used Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to complain about the bad treatment January 6 insurrectionists were receiving in jail. Conservative news outlets ignored speeches describing experiences while under siege. Top Breitbart headlines included “Democrat Day of Hysteria,” “Kamala Unhinged” and “Dividin’ Biden Blames Trump.” RedState.com led with “The Twisted Morality of Those Who Obsess over January 6th.”

Ignorance.

Jacob Chansley, aka the QAnon Shaman photographed bare-chested in furs at the insurrection and carrying a spear, celebrated his January 6 by calling a QAnon show about his new fake theory about underground civilizations where the military are developing technology “several hundred years” more advanced than on the earth’s surface. Jackson Lahmeyer, Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate candidate, hosted Michael Flynn, who called the Biden administration “a takeover of the United States system of government” and “a shift from democracy to socialism.” Lahmyer consistently called Biden the “former vice president.” He held up a copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and said the current administration was a “total communist takeover.” Flynn continued to call for a military coup in the U.S. and called for “soldiers.”

Fox’s Tucker Carlson brought Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to his knees for repeating his statement about the January 6 assault being a “violent terrorist attack.” The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Tucker lashed out at Cruz and his statement, and Cruz rushed to talk to Carlson on his program to take back his comments and apologize. Carlson finally agreed that people who attack police officers should be prosecuted but may not be terrorists. He also told Cruz he didn’t believe his explanation that he “used a dumb choice of words,” sent later in a tweet. Cruz, who considers himself second in running for the 2024 presidential election after DDT, can’t even stand up to a media outlet. Although he was part of the congressional cabal to overturn Biden’s election on January 6.

Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) did have a little press conference as planned, but the highly conservative Newsmax walked out on it. About Cruz’s description about the attack, Gaetz said Cruz can “bend over” all he wants but nobody will ever love him. On Steve Bannon’s podcast, Gaetz claimed that the Capitol was “booby trapped” by removing barriers (probably why attackers climbed the walls) by people who “didn’t know they were breaking the law.” He also said all of them, including himself and Greene, were “blood libeled.” (Blood libel, aka ritual murder libel, is a false anti-Semitic accusation that Jews murder Christian children or other gentiles to use their blood in religious rituals.)

The Supreme Court began 2022 with conservative judges and attorneys arguing against mandates for vaccinations. “The fact that you face at work that risk when you go to work doesn’t make it a workplace risk,” a right-wing attorney told Justice Elena Kagan. Two of the lawyers opposing the mandate argued from home, one of the perks of white-collar employees, because they have COVID

Conservative justices, a majority because of DDT, will most likely use this case to quash the ability of agencies to determine regulations for the nation’s laws. For its vaccination mandate, OSHA used a federal law permitting it to issue an “emergency temporary standard” when it determines that it’s “necessary” to protect employees from a “grave danger” resulting from “physically harmful” “agents” or “new hazards.” The coronavirus is both an infectious “agent” and a “new hazard” that poses a “grave danger.” The mandate fits the law. Justices, however, don’t want to authorize the law because they came from the Federalist movement to erase “the administrative state,” agencies implementing laws passed by Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts opposes OSHA’s mandate because it is based on a law passed “50 years ago.” Despite the burgeoning additional 849,181 infections and 2,015 deaths in the U.S. from COVID yesterday, the six conservatives will find some “constitutional” way around the law designed to slow the pandemic.

Texas, the state where vigilantes can pursue people supporting abortion and women die because the procedure is no longer legally available, now minimize long voting lines like long lines for COVID testing. The state GOP posted an image actually taken in Manhattan. Beto O’Rourke, former Texas representative and current gubernatorial candidate, addressed Gov. Greg Abbott when he wrote, “76,000 Texans have died on your watch and one-fifth of the state’s healthcare workers quit because Abbott “abandoned them.”  

New Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin is mimicking DDT by picking Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist and DDT’s EPA chief, for his secretary of natural resources to obtain a “growing power supply.” While in the federal government, Wheeler promoted pollution by rolling back environmental rules and falsely claimed the climate change threat won’t happen until “50 to 75 years out.” Wheeler’s confirmation goes to the state Senate with a Democratic majority of 21-19. Anti-abortion will likely be another Youngkin issue: when a crowd lambasted him for not being sufficiently against abortions, he told them he had to stay quiet about his anti-abortion beliefs so that he could get elected. A year ago, Wheeler failed to condemn the January 6 attack and refused to criticize DDT.

The party of White supremacy is whitewashing the right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, by denial, differentiation (It wasn’t that bad according to conspiracy theorists like Tucker Carlson), and transcendence (look at the bigger picture). Another diversion is bolstering, claiming that DDT’s base loved the way he fought for them. Since the beginning of his campaign in 2015, DDT has attacked the United States and licensed people to follow his hatred through his confirmation.

October 1, 2021

Another Conservative Justice Whines about Criticism

Samuel Alito, one of the biggest partisan hacks on the Supreme Court, is furious about being called a partisan hack. In a speech at the University of Notre Dame, he defended the use of the “shadow docket,” a procedure with no oral hearings, arguments, reviews, decision rationales, and signed opinions to make significant decisions and claims critics want to “intimidate” and “damage” the court. His excuses don’t hold water as these statements and the refutations demonstrate:

Criticism comes only from disagreeing with the result. Questions about the propriety of making unsigned rulings in the middle of the night, however, come from whether these decisions lack due diligence, inconsistency, and methods which go farther than they should. A major objection is permitting the Texas anti-abortion law that violates the Constitution to go into effect because it is seen in any court. Another one is the frequency of the shadow docket from eight in 16 years, four presidential terms, to 41 in the four-year term of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Alito admitted that DDT received far more responses in shadow dockets but excused this by saying it was necessary because “a number of the President’s important initiatives were enjoined by a district court judge.” In 2020, the high court granted 10 of 11 emergency requests from DDT and 10 of 15 from religious groups but only one-third of state and other government groups’ requests, and none from private parties. Recent shadow dockets have obviously been more substantial and favorable to the political right.

“Shadow docket” is a loaded political term created by the left. The person who brought the term into common use is William Baude, Chief Justice John Roberts’ former clerk. In 2015, Baude pointed out that lawyers can’t know the legal standards in re-litigating the issue in the future with no opinions or whether justices are principled and consistent from case to case. This need applies to both conservative and progressive lawyers. Even far-right legislators such as Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) want names and viewpoints on Supreme Court rulings. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas called the shadow docket denying a request to stop same-gender marriages in Alabama “indecorous” because it could be “a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question.” Thomas disagreed with this process being “the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities.”

The court didn’t nullify Roe v. Wade in its shadow docket ruling. In the Atlantic, Adam Serwer used the term “nullify,” not “overturn,” when criticizing the high court’s actions with no oral arguments. In fact, the court permitted the unconstitutional anti-abortion law to go into effect on a technicality. The conservative justices impeded women from obtaining legal abortions—nullifying the protection of a legal right.

Rulings on what Alito calls “emergency applications” don’t create precedents. In April, the Supreme Court chastised the federal appeals court in California for not following its earlier “emergency applications” rulings about restrictions on religious gatherings during the pandemic.

The unconstitutional permission from five conservative Supreme Court justices to flout Roe v. Wade did receive a scornful dissent from another justice, Sonia Sotomayor:

“The court silently acquiesced in a state’s enactment of a law that flouts nearly 50 years of federal precedents. The act is a breathtaking act of defiance—of the constitution, of this court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas.”

Justice Elena Kagan may have been milder in her response but no less critical of the shadow docket when she wrote that the unsigned order “illustrates just how far the court’s ‘shadow docket’ decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process. Without full briefing or argument, and after less than 72 hours’ thought, this court greenlights the operation of Texas’ patently unconstitutional law banning most abortions.” According to Kagan’s dissent, the ruling was of “great consequence” but had only been “hastily” considered by the court, the majority decision “emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow docket decisionmaking—which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.” 

Shadow decisions for DDT include the travel ban directed at Muslim nations, prohibition of transgender people in the military, and asylum decisions. Since Biden became president, shadow decision have blocked the CDC prevention of evictions, reinstated DDT’s “Remain in Mexico” policy putting asylum seekers in extreme danger south of the U.S. border, and the unconstitutional violation of Roe v. Wade. Basically five Supreme Court justices are setting both domestic and foreign policy, the constitutional prerogatives of Congress and the president. Missing in the current court is its deferential approach toward the executive branch’s setting the foreign policy which they cited in DDT’s cases.

In the past, Alito has also freely given his opinions about how he will rule. Last fall, in another speech before the highly conservative Federalist Society which selected most of DDT’s “partisan hacks,” he bitterly complained about the pandemic’s public-safety restrictions, marriage equality, reproductive rights, and five sitting Democratic U.S. senators. After his most recent speech, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) responded to Alito’s most recent complaints:

“Judges turning into political actors, giving speeches attacking journalists, is terrible for the court and terrible for democracy.”

University of Baltimore law professor and former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle wrote:

“Unscrupulously biased, political, and even angry. I can’t imagine why Alito did this publicly. Totally inappropriate and damaging to the Supreme Court.”

Adam Serwer wrote:

“The shadow docket has begun to look less like a place for emergency cases than one where the Republican-appointed justices can implement their preferred policies without having to go through the tedious formalities of following legal procedure, developing arguments consistent with precedent, or withstanding public scrutiny…

“The justices in the majority argued in their unsigned opinion that because the case presented ‘complex and novel antecedent procedural questions,’ their hands were tied… This ruling is less a description of a complex legal challenge than a road map. As Mary Ziegler writes, the Texas law was strategically designed to evade legal restrictions, and the majority read the script that was handed to it. Republican-run legislatures now know that they can pass such laws and the Supreme Court will pretend to be unable to block them…

“Five conservative justices invalidated the constitutional right to an abortion simply because they could, because they felt like it, and because they don’t believe anyone can stop them.”

And those same five justices will stop anything else that doesn’t fit into their world picture.

Despite the Supreme Court’s permission to continue vigilantism and unconstitutional law in Texas, the DOJ fought the new law in federal court today during a three-hour virtual hearing. The district court judge agreed with DOJ attorney Brian Netter that the purpose of the vigilante enforcement was to protect the Texas government from any legal challenge and questioned why the state went “to such great lengths” to hinder judicial review.

Texas attorney Will Thompson claimed the empowerment of private individuals to enforce state law in state courts was not at all unprecedented. Thompson also told the judge he couldn’t issue an injunction because no one is responsible for enforcing the law. Texas AG Ken Paxton used the same argument and asserted challenges must come in state court after a lawsuit by a private citizen against the person getting an abortion.

During the hearing, Thompson said he didn’t know what he would do if the judge issued an order against the state because of no streamlined state access to track lawsuits under the law. Netter suggested the judge could issue an injunction to stop proceedings begun under the law. Thus far, three cases from private citizens have been filed under the Texas law that went into effect on September 1. An injunction could not definitely protect people from the vigilante law: if it is later dissolved on appeal, lawsuits can be brought retroactively up to four years after the abortion.

The bill’s concept has started to spread across the nation. In Illinois, a state representative introduced a bill allowing any resident to sue someone who “causes an unintended pregnancy” or commits domestic assault. It also allows lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” the pregnancies. Like the Texas law, a successful litigant suing the person “causing” the unwanted pregnancy will get $10,000, but half the money, however, would be put in a state fund paying for abortions for people denied abortions in Texas.

Brett Kavanaugh has become the second Supreme Court justice to contract COVID after testing positive the day before the 2021 session begins. Amy Coney Barrett had the coronavirus last summer.

May 14, 2015

GOP Concerned Only about Carrying Fetuses Full Term

After eight people died from Tuesday’s Amtrak train crash, Rep. Paul Ryan voted to reduce Amtrak funding and then “misrepresented” congressional funding that could have prevented the crash. On Fox, he claimed that Congress funded the Positive Train Control (PTC) for the cash-strapped Amtrak earlier this year. Not only was the allocation far less than the Amtrak request, but the complex PTC takes more than two months to put into place. The last Amtrak bill was seven years ago. At this time, PTC is in service in only 50 miles of the 226-mile route between Washington and New York.

Ryan also said that Congress cannot rush to response to what he believes was “human error, but the PTC overcomes human error. He commented that he wouldn’t support tax increases for infrastructure improvement because “we can do better by saving more money [and] being more efficient.”

While talking about efficiency, Ryan voted in favor of yesterday’s anti-abortion bill that passed by 242-184, almost entirely on partisan lines. The so-called “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” follows the conservatives’ belief that fetuses at this age can feel pain. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) answered the men who expounded on the pain that a fetus feels: “You want to talk about pain? Let’s talk about the agony of a woman who’s raped and again violated by unnecessary government intrusion.”

The bill bans the one percent of abortions that occur after the 20th week of pregnancies, ones that often involve “rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman’s health,” according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Sexual assault victims cannot get rape-caused abortions after the 20th week until they have “obtained counseling” or “medical treatment for the rape or an injury related to the rape” at least 48 hours prior to the abortion procedure unless the victims originally reported the rape to law enforcement. Counseling must be from a facility that doesn’t perform abortions, requiring consultation with two separate doctors.

Incest victims must also have reported the rapes to a law enforcement agency or government agency that acts on reports of child abuse, thus re-traumatizing the victims. The bill also prevents the abortions for victims 18 and older.

Non-viable fetuses or those that might be born with severe defects are typically not identified until after the limit set by this bill, but these issues are not addressed in the bill. The bill allows an abortion to prevent the death of the pregnant woman but says nothing about pregnancies that seriously jeopardize women’s health.

The bill also mandates medical procedures for doctors. If a doctor thinks that the aborted fetus could survive outside the womb, a second doctor must be present to care for it and provide hospitalization. Women are also required to sign consent forms that include the fetus’ age and steps to save its life. Doctors performing banned abortions would face imprisonment of up to five years plus fines, and people could also bring civil actions against doctors who violate the measure’s requirements.

After a similar bill failed in January, House leadership spent months negotiating its current success, time that certainly could have been more profitably spend with legislation that would boost in the economy. The conservatives’ goal is to ban all abortions although the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion, allowing states to bar the procedure after viability when the fetus could survive if born.

Once the fetus has emerged into the daylight, however, mother and child are pretty much on their own. Only two laws help new parents: the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 providing 12 weeks of leave to new or expectant parents and an expansion of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act to protect mothers who want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. There is leave, but no paid leave. Parents have to save enough money for one of them to go without wages for the 12 weeks following a child’s birth. The United States is “exceptional” in this situation because 181 countries guarantee paid leave from work for new mothers and 81 guarantee it for new fathers. Employers also aren’t required in the United States to accommodate new mothers; they don’t even have to add break time for women who want to pump breast milk.

A law is supposed to protect pregnant woman at work, but in many cases it doesn’t. Many employers deny requests such as the ability to sit down while at work, an extra bathroom break, and drinking water while working. Pregnant women are expected to complete the same manual labor as men and non-pregnant women because it would be considered special treatment. Pregnant women may be forced to leave their jobs, leaving them reliant on the U.S. safety net.

According to conservatives, who get their marching orders from Fox network, these women carrying the beloved fetuses and avoiding abortions are “losers,” “moochers,” “takers,” and more. Conservatives accuse women of being pregnant just to get more federal money or, worse, of having “anchor babies” so that they can stay in the United States. Unmarried women who are pregnant or already have children are also told to get married so that they won’t be a drain on the country. (This idea is a myth.)

Author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich writes that poverty is a lack of money, not a lack of character, but conservatives disagree, preferring to shame poor mothers. Like preventing abortions, allowing children and their mothers to live in poverty is a policy choice.

Opposition to providing birth control is another conservative policy decision, frequently religious. Conservatives fight the provision of the Affordable Care Act to provide free birth control, women have to renew their birth control medication every month, and women’s clinics that provide birth control are shut down in massive numbers throughout the conservative states. Catholic health systems, controlling almost 20 percent of patients in the United States, may prevent participating doctors from prescribing birth control pills. They can also refuse tubal ligations and vasectomies—even deny the termination of an ectopic pregnancy in which the fetus grows outside the uterus.

While conservatives virtuously pretend to protect fetuses, more women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes in the United States now than at almost any point in the last 25 years. Throughout the world, the United States is one of only seven countries to experience an increase in Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) over the past decade. MMR rise in tandem with poverty rates as conservative legislators refuse to pass fair gender salary laws and increase the minimum wage.

The U.S. MMR is 14 times greater than in Israel, which has liberal abortion laws with government-subsidized abortion services. The states in this country with the greatest abortion restrictions have the highest maternal deaths, infant and child death rates, and teen drug and alcohol abuse. Georgia, with 11 restrictive abortion laws, has the highest MMR.

Legislation is moving forward in North Carolina to send detailed information about an abortion past the first trimester to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, including “an ultrasound image of the unborn child that depicts the measurements.” Already required in Oklahoma and Louisiana, this mandate violates privacy between a woman and her doctor and serves no medical purpose. Doctors are not required to send any other type of medical image to the state. Oklahoma ranks 48th in Maternal Mortality Rates; Louisiana is 44th.

abortion

No matter how horrifying yesterday’s anti-abortion bill passed in the House may be, conservatives can make life worse for pregnant women. Texas state representative Matt Schaefer has introduced an amendment forcing women to carry a fetus to full term even if it might be nonviable. Beyond causing severe health issues and perhaps death for the woman, the act would inflict great pain on the family. Schaefer’s justification is that suffering is “part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.”

Thanks to conservative legislation, United States in 2015 can be compared to the country in 1929 with the huge gulf between the wealthy and the rest of the people in the nation. At this time, the ratio of pay between CEOs and workers is 373-1—and greater for women because they are below the average wage. One guarantee: GOP members of Congress will continue to focus on fetuses and the wealthy; everyone else will be left out. It’s what adds to their campaign war chests.

July 31, 2013

Jail, Threats, Fraud, Cookies, and More

Some news you might not see in mainstream media:

The Wall Street Journal’s announcement that the game Monopoly was doing away with its jail sentence, making the game look way too much like reality, created a great deal of hoop-la. Even John Oliver, Jon Stewart’s summer sub on The Daily Show, got into the excitement. It seems, however, that WSJ was wrong. Jail, at least in Monopoly, is here to stay. Wonder what else Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ is wrong about.

monopoly-jail-top630

Putting a picture of Jane Austen on the Bank of England bank note also caused great interest, especially for the people who sent rape and death threats to the major campaigner for using Austen’s picture. British people caught two of them, one a 21-year-old man who sent a about 50 abusive tweets every hour for 12 hours to Caroline Criado-Perez after she successfully lobbied for replacing Charles Darwin on the ten-pound note starting in 2017.

It wasn’t enough for these men that the picture of World War II prime minister Winston Churchill will replace the face of 19th-century social reformer Elizabeth Fry on the five-pound note beginning in 2016. Without the addition of Jane Austen, the only woman on Britain’s money would be Queen Elizabeth II, whose face is on every British coin and banknote.

A Twitter representative, Mark Luckie, waited four days to talk with her about the abuse, temporarily blocking her attempted communication with him. Publicity connected the past seven days of threats and abuse has required police and politicians to take notice of the abuse toward Criado-Perez and Labor MP Stella Creasy, who came out in Criado-Perez’s support.

If you’re still smoking, you might be interested in knowing that cigarette companies have switched to clay in their filters, the same substance used in kitty litter. A dozen tobacco companies have avoided as much as $1.1 billion in taxes by making their cigarettes heavier with this filler filler, exempting their product from a 2,653 percent increase in federal excise tax  on non-”large cigar” tobacco products. Taxes for a rolled tobacco product weighing at least three pounds per 1,000 increased only 155 percent. Treasury Department spokesman Thomas Hogue said, “If you meet the definition of a large cigar, then you’re a large cigar.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently introduced legislation to equalize the tax structure that could make $3.6 billion in new taxes over 10 years.

Changing from kitty litter cigarettes to electronic ones won’t make people safer. Sales are rising for these alternatives, but no one knows the health problem because they aren’t regulated. The primary byproduct of electronic cigarettes is definitely not a “harmless water vapor,” as manufacturers claim.  In Scientific American, Stanton Glantz noted that the smoker inhales a collection of dangerous substances including acetaldehyde, nickel and cadmium. With every puff, both smokers and the people near them inhale formaldehyde, toluene, and nicotine.

The FDA tried to ban imports of electronic cigarettes from China by declaring them “unapproved drug/device combination products” but lost in court. Manufacturers maintain that these are healthy alternatives to cigarettes in the same way that tobacco companies used to swear that cigarettes were also “healthy.”

China also wants to buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor and hog producer. Shuanghui International is willing to pay $4.7 billion. In 2011, it was discovered that some Shuanghui products contained a hazardous and banned chemical used to make meat leaner. Smithfield president Larry Pope said that there wouldn’t be any problems, and it would bring more jobs to the United States. Other food safety issues in China have included rat meat passed off as pork and thousands of pig carcasses floating on a river. Smithfield already uses an additive, banned in China and Russia, to bulk up animals with muscle instead of far, without increasing the amount of feed.

People have known for decades about the dangers of lead in paint, but Sherman-Williams is being sued because it knew over a century ago that the company knowingly poisoned people. Ten California cities and counties are seeking $1 billion from the company to strip the leaded paint that remains on millions of residences throughout the state. The United States banned lead paint for residential use in 1978, several decades after other countries forbade its use. Once thought to be more dangerous for children, new research finds that lead effects for adults may be worse, causing dangers from increased blood pressure and stroke.

Pepsi may also be in trouble after it was discovered that the caramel coloring in drinks contains high levels of a probable carcinogen. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola were told to adjust their formulas to avoid a cancer warning label in California. Coke products no longer tested positive in May for the chemical, but Pepsi products outside California still contain it. Pepsi said that the chemical won’t be removed from its drinks until February 2014 but gave no timeline for world-wide distribution. FDA said that a person would have to drink 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the doses used in rodents to cause cancer, but California has still added 4-Mel to its list of carcinogens.

Detroit is so broke that it’s threatening to sell all its art in the museums and not pay contract pensions. No schools, no roads, no utilities, no services. But it is spending almost one-half billion dollars on a new hockey arena. That’s what you get with an “emergency financial manager” appointed by the Republican governor.

North Carolina

North Carolina has finished its hate-filled legislation, and Gov. Pat McCrory has duly signed all the hateful bills, but publicity about them hasn’t ended. The latest story started with a small group of women going to McCrory’s mansion to protest the most recent anti-abortion bill  that he had promised not to sign—and then did. at McCrory’s mansion.  Various French princesses have been credited with the statement, “Let them eat cake,” when referring to peasants suffering from famine. McCrory changed the term “cake” to “cookies” when he delivered a plate of chocolate-chip cookies to the protesters. Four security guards stopped traffic in the street, and McCrory walked to the middle and pointed at one of the women. She walked up to him, and he handed the plate of cookies, saying, “These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.”

McCrory wouldn’t talk to the protesters; he just handed over the plate after he lied to them and took away their constitutional right to choose reproductive health care. The crowd responded by chanting, ”Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude.” McCrory said that the critics exaggerated the impact of the law that closes 15 out of 16 clinics that provide abortion and bars state residents from paying for the coverage through state health exchanges. [Photo by Corey Lowenstein @ News Observer]

Cookies…-no-thanks

Cumulus Media, the second-largest owner and operator of AM and FM radio stations in America, will not be renewing its contracts with both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on its 40 channels that have hundreds of radio stations. Although they may have already signed with rival syndicate WOR, the future of right-wing radio may be in jeopardy. The majority of its listeners, primarily white, are disappearing because most of its older demographic. Limbaugh blamed the ad buyers, saying that they are Limbaugh recently acknowledged difficulty selling ads, complaining ad buyers are “are young women fresh out of college, liberal feminists who hate conservatism.” For months, Cumulus has been telling investors that Limbaugh is costing the company millions of dollars in lost advertizing.

If your electricity bills going up, it might be because of banks rigging the market. This week, the Federal Regulatory Commission fined JP Morgan Chase $410 million fine, following a penalty of almost $500 million against the British bank Barclay two weeks ago. JP Morgan agreed to pay a civil penalty of $285 million and return $125 million in wrongful profits without either admitting or denying its guilt in using energy traders to fix prices. The situation isn’t unique: financial markets are controlling market forces in oil, currency exchanges, and hard commodities from precious metals to aluminum. Industry deregulation in the 1990s permitted banks to directly deal in physical commodity markets instead of being limited to financial products based on commodity prices.

July 28, 2013

North Carolina Deciminates States’ Rights

Politics and religion are taking sides—sometimes opposite ones. Moral Mondays are an excellent example of religion fighting legislature as North Carolina finalizes its legislation for the year.

Moral Monday old manLast Monday’s arrests of 73 people brought the total to 925 since the group started on the last Monday of April. Each Monday, thousands collect at the state capital to demonstrate against cuts in social programs, education, and employment, against the state’s anti-abortion and anti-Medicaid laws, against labor rights and the resuming of the death penalty–against all the draconian action that this year’s legislature has taken. Last week’s group, many of them organizing in churches, came to fight the restrictive voter laws that will go into effect in the state.

In an effort at intimidation, a right-wing group has set up a website with the high-sounding name of Civitas Institute that includes the names, mug shots, addresses, phone numbers, occupations, and salaries of all those arrested. All it seems to prove is that almost all the people are North Carolina residents, instead of out-of-state carpet baggers, as GOP lawmakers claim.

The lawmakers must be getting worried about the demonstrators: this past week they moved their meeting time three hours earlier from the usual 7:00 pm schedule. Yet the protesters who sang and chanted in an almost empty building were still arrested.

The Assembly’s action has led to its approval rating below 20 percent, just a bit higher than for the U.S. Congress. Gov. Pat McCrory saw his approval rating fall 15 percent in just one month, and it may go farther down after he signed the anti-abortion bill that only 34 percent of the voters want. He had promised during his campaign not to sign any anti-abortion bill.

Arrests of residents who disagree with the legislative action are also becoming more aggressive with many being handcuffed for “petty citations” and sent to jail, according to House Democratic Leader Larry Hall. The lawyer from Durham said, “I believe we have a great police force here. Now, who do they work for? They work for whoever is in the majority in the House and the Senate, who are responsible for the messages sent to them from the top.”

He may have a point about the conservatives telling the police what to do. In July 2001, when the Assembly was controlled by the Democrats, conservative activists held a mass gathering to protest a proposed tax increase. No one was arrested.

Moral Monday participants refuse to be discouraged. Their numbers are growing, and they seem to be gaining confidence and courage because of the attention that they have drawn.

Past legislative actions have included killing the Earned Income Tax Credit, raising taxes on 900,000 poor people, cutting corporate and personal income taxes for the top 5 percent, eliminating unemployment for 70,000 people, denying Medicaid expansion that will cost taxpayers more, inviting corporations to frack in the state, defunding schools before distributing them to private companies—many of these through the 20 bills written by the ultra-conservative, corporate-owned ALEC.

The state’s most recent anti-abortion law mandates that all seventh-graders be taught the falsehood that abortions cause preterm births. It also requires a doctor to be present when the first drug in a chemical abortion is administered. Abortion clinics are required to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers whenever the state Department of Health and Human Services wishes. In order to slip through the new anti-abortion law, the state Senate put it under an anti-Sharia law, and the Assembly attached it to a motorcycle safety bill. A drawing shows the similarity between the uterus and the motorcycle.

motorcycle As someone tweeted, “If my uterus could fire bullets, you wouldn’t regulate it.”

The voter suppression law passed this week is the worst in the nation, disenfranchising 318,000 registered voters who don’t have the narrow forms of state-issued ID, almost two-thirds of them women. One woman said that getting the appropriate identification would cost her $120, which amounts to the poll tax that has been ruled unconstitutional.

The new voting law contains all the ways other states have legislated to keep minorities and the poor from voting: cutting a week of early voting, ending same-day registration during that period, preventing counties from offering voting on the last Saturday beyond 1:00 pm or extending poll hours by an hour on Election Day because of long lines, purging voter rolls, and allowing vastly more vigilante poll-watchers to challenge eligible voters and give erroneous information as they have in the past.

Other methods of suppression, however, are unique to North Carolina. Citizens may not file provisional ballots if they go to the wrong precinct, confusing because many precincts in urban areas can be housed in the same building. It eliminates state-supported registration drives and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds as well as Citizens Awareness Month to encourage voter registration. Parents of students who register where they attend college will lose the $2,500 child dependency tax deduction for their children, again creating a poll tax. 

Ex-felons cannot vote for five years after their release and only after they obtain two affidavits from local voters about their “upstanding moral character,” apply to the board of elections, and receive unanimous approval. Over 80 percent of those with a criminal record in the state are black. The state will also ban “incompetent” people from voting even if the person’s mental health issues have nothing to do with their ability to understand voting.

Yet outsider groups—those “carpet baggers”—can more easily donate money for electioneering while the law reduces disclosure of money sources. Contribution limits are raised from $4,000 to $5,000 per person and links future increases to inflation.

During 2012, 56 percent of North Carolinians—more blacks than whites—voted early; 78 percent of voters support the current early voting system. Over 155,000 voters used same-day registration in 2012. Many black citizens voted the Sunday before Election Day, no longer possible.

The Assembly will most likely continue to be GOP-controlled because of conservative gerrymandering of legislative maps helped by the voter oppression law. The Supreme Court has invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act because the conservative majority did not see on-going racist problems in voting laws. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca even bragged that they wouldn’t have to bother with Section 5 of the VRA.

North Carolina Republicans claim that the law will combat voter fraud and insure integrity in polling places. Between 2000 and 2010, for a total of 6 election cycles, North Carolina had a grand total of two allegations of voter impersonations and zero convictions. Once again the political party that decries an expansion of government has done exactly that. The state claims to need money, but just the voting mandates will cost between $3 million and $20 million dollars.

I can visualize GOP legislators in all the other GOP-controlled states salivating as they wait to go back into session and copy all North Carolina’s laws. The country is going to need many more Moral Monday members.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has filed a federal court challenge to force Texas to obtain “pre-clearance” before implementing future voting changes. Perhaps he will do the same in North Carolina. would go after North Carolina’s voter ID law, which would be the strictest in the country.

June 28, 2013

‘Moral Monday’ Gives Hope

While legislators in North Carolina have systematically taken state resources from most of the taxpayers and transferred tax cuts to the wealthy, a group of protesters have continued to make their objections clear during the past two months, even to the point of being arrested. Called “Moral Monday,” the protest gathered the largest crowd this past week, about 5,000 people gathered. Of those 120 were arrested.

Although the GOP legislators would like to dismiss these protesters as “crazies,” many of them do their organizing in mainstream churches. Volunteers hand out green strips of fabric for people who are willing to be arrested. Those who have already been arrested are discouraged from signing up for arrest because of the weightier charge for repeat offenders.

For the most recent protest, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday protests, asked during his invocation, “How do you say cutting 500,000 people’s health care is the moral thing to do?” He continued, “When you hurt the poor, you are not faithfully executing the constitution.” All the people standing behind him in this photo were arrested last Monday.

Armenta Eaton spoke about the reason that her 92-year-old mother, Rosanell Eaton, was willing to be arrested for her protests:

“What brought her out was the possibility of requiring voter ID. She was required when she was 21 years old to repeat the preamble to the Constitution in order to register. She did it! She didn’t even know she had to do it, she was just smart. They would yank you around back in those days. She was valedictorian of her class, she knew all that stuff. It’s what she had to go through. She thought things were smooth sailing. She’s seen the good, bad, and the ugly. Now she’s seeing the ugly again. She fought for civil rights, she was a civil rights worker, and now she sees that it’s going backward.”

Chris Carter talked about how the rules protecting water quality have been “stripped away and are under attack.” Darlene Burns said she was doing it for her grandchildren.

“I want a better state for them to grow up in. I’ve got three that are still in the public schools. They’re decimating education and it’s not fair to the kids. It’s attacks on the unemployed, it’s turning down the Medicaid. It’s too many things to list. I’m nervous. I’ve never done this before. But it’s too important not to.”

Charles Warren explained that “it’s about the cause. So much to hurt the middle class, the unemployed, taking Medicaid away from 500,000 people, reducing unemployment. This is terrible for our state. Terrible for the people who’re going to be laid off. I’m really in favor of kicking all these legislators out.”

One man explained that next week 71,000 North Carolinians will lose federal extended unemployment benefits because of a new state law that reduces the maximum benefit an individual can receive. North Carolina is the only state to reject these federal benefits, which come at no cost to the state.

Sen. Thom Goolsby (R) calls them “Moron Mondays,” and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) accuses protestors of not being from North Carolina. McCrory and the legislature rejected an expansion of Medicaid in their state, despite the fact that the federal government would be footing the bill. As a result, 500,000 poor North Carolinians will not receive health insurance.

In 2010, one person was largely responsible for giving both houses of the North Carolina to the legislature for the first time since 1870.  Jane Mayer reported for the New Yorker in 2011, “three-quarters of the spending by independent groups in North Carolina’s 2010 state races came from accounts linked to” wholesale baron Art Pope. When McCrory replaced Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue last January, the GOP had total control of the state.

Here are Art Pope’s dream bills going through the legislature:

Voter Suppression: In addition to requiring voter ID, the state cut early voter hours and eliminated voting on the Sunday before Election Day. Another bill would raise taxes on families with college students if the child registers to vote at school rather than at home. The state would no longer consider the child a dependent even though the parents pay all the bills.

Fewer Taxes for Wealthy: The bill would erase all individual and corporate income taxes and replace them with higher sales taxes that disproportionately burden lower-income taxpayers. A similar bill in Louisiana would raise taxes for 80 percent of the people while giving those in the top 1 percent an average tax cut of $25,423.

Anti-Abortion Moves: New restrictions such as requiring doctors to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic would seriously hamper the work of the clinics. Conservatives claim that this is a safety measure, but hospitals refuse these doctors privileges. Also the House has just passed a bill requiring teachers to tell their students that abortions will increase risks of future premature births, despite the fact that this is a lie.

Anti-Worker Constitutional Amendment: Legislators want to lock the prevention of collective bargaining into the state constitution, making it even easier for companies to pressure workers against unionizing.

Subsidizing Home Schooling: A bill would give families a $1,250 per semester tax subsidy if they home school their children.

Judges for Sale: The bills would allow attorneys and special interest groups the ability to provide campaign funds for judges.

State Sponsored Religion: A GOP-backed resolution proclaimed that the U.S. Constitution “does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional,” and then decreeing that North Carolina could establish its own state religion. That one failed, but it didn’t put anything into effect even if it passed.

Climate Change Denial: The state is banned from basing coastal policies on the most recent scientific predictions of sea level rise.

There are many more laws, some of them very strange, including preventing Tesla Motors from emailing its customers and banning “foreign law” in the state. Fracking in the state is legal now, however, because an exhausted senator pressed the wrong number. State law prevents her from changing her votes if it changes the result of the vote.

Only a few hundred protesters could fit inside the building. Orders of magnitude more waited outside. The others waited outside. Inside, people chanted, sang songs, and gave speeches.

North Carolina has no collective bargaining rights in North Carolina, even for public employees unions. One police officer thanked those arrested at the detention center for helping him get more overtime pay. Another officer described protesters as “very nice,” “orderly,” and “great to deal with.”

After the first bus headed off to jail with protesters, the crowd chanted, “You’re gonna need another bus ’cause baby there are more of us.” Some of the protesters went back to the church where they had gathered earlier for a potluck and planning for next week.

bus

Eaton was released from the detention center at around 9pm as well-wishers cheered her on. Many protesters returned to the Pullen Baptist Church afterward for a potluck where they traded stories and began to think about what more they can do next week.

The first people arrested on Moral Monday over eight weeks ago were to appear in court last Monday and expected to plead not guilty. Almost all the protesters have been charged with second-degree trespassing, failure to disperse, and violating building rules. NAACP legal advisor Irv Joyner, also a law professor at N.C. Central University, said that many of those charged with breaking building rules by displaying signs were not holding one. He also said:

“On public property, people can’t be directed to disperse or leave unless someone is engaged in unlawful activity. You can apply the same rational to the trespassing charge, which is the same idea. If you have a right to be there, that’s not trespassing.”

In addition, building rules allow visitors to move about freely unless they create disturbances.

Moral Monday gives me hope for change in this country.

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