Nel's New Day

September 25, 2018

The GOP Strategy on Sexual Assault

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
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Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that his Supreme Court nominee is “fantastic, fantastic.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s response to DDT’s “grabbing women by the pussy”: http://goprapeadvisorychart.com/

AG Jeff Sessions’ response:

Former RNC chair and DDT’s press secretary Sean Spicer:

State Rep. Lawrence Lockman (ME) weighs in:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate:

Former Texas state Rep. Myra Crownover agrees:

[Florida law:

Another perspective about attacks:

Plan ahead for attacks:

And so many more.

July 26, 2016

Mainstream Media Ignores Trump Issues

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 10:26 PM
Tags: , , ,

According to Nate Silver, excellent prognosticator of elections, Donald Trump is winning the election. Minorities, women, poor people, and liberal whites are all in danger if the GOP dominates the nation. While the GOP, Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and the media spread falsehoods about Hillary Clinton, this less-publicized factual information paints a grim picture of the man who could be president at this time next year.

Russia: The researchers at ThreatConnect traced the recently hacked emails from the DNC to bureaucrats from the propaganda arm of the Russian government in Vladimir Putin’s connection to Trump. As Trump’s debt grows, he fails to get loans from U.S. banks and turned to wealthy Russians associated with Putin. Trump and his family members count on Russian investors to put up the money for their properties throughout the world, and an election for Trump could mean that he might attain his dream of a Trump Tower in Moscow. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, has made multimillion-dollar deals with Russians and worked for Putin-backed Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych whose ousting in 2014 led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.  Two Trump advisers, Carter Page and Michael Caputo, work with Russia’s government-controlled natural gas corporation, a possible model Trump in the U.S. to control such a corporation for personal revenue and patronage.

With Trump at the helm, NATO may not keep Russia from swallowing up smaller countries. Trump said he fails to see why NATO should protect countries that don’t pay their share and he wants to lift economic sanctions on Russia. Thanks to Trump, the GOP platform jettisoned its condemnation of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and support Ukraine against Putin, who has directed Russian state media to support Trump as president.

A Lithuanian artist has noticed the closeness between Putin and Trump.

 

A couple kisses in front of graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania,  Saturday, May 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Even the farthest right Republicans are nervous about Trump’s bromance with Putin. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), author of the letter telling Iran that the U.S. may not keep its promises, hopes that classified briefings, which Trump will receive now that he is the GOP presidential candidate, may give him “a different perspective on Vladimir Putin and what Russia is doing to America’s interests and allies in Europe and the Middle East and Asia.” The question is whether he will change—unlikely—and, if not, whether Russia will directly received classified information instead of being forced to hack emails.

Other Business Dealings: In the past 30 years, Trump has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits, including 70 in the past year at an average of one every three days. Many of these were with small companies after he refused to pay them for contracted work, and many of them had to declare bankruptcy because he refused to pay for them. These lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings are with people like dishwashers, plumbers, painters, waiters, bartenders, and other hourly workers. At just one project, the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid $69.5 million in full or on time, including people who installed walls and chandeliers. Two years ago, Trump National Doral Miami golf resort stiffed The Paint Spot for the final $34,863 payment of a $200,000 contract. Trump said that they had “paid enough” for the paint. Judge Jorge Cueto has now charted Trump and his company $300,000 to cover The Paint Shop’s attorney and court fees.

New York has filed liens against his property three dozen times for unpaid taxes. Since 2005, his companies have also been cited with 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, and last week the National Labor Relations Board fined Trump $11,200 for either firing or retaliating against employees who tried to join a labor union. And despite Trump’s denying having any mobster connections, he has financial and personal collaboration with organized crime.

Campaign Violations: Trump’s campaign has a strong connection—possibly illegal—with his company, Trump Organization. For example, Meredith McIver, who supposedly was paid to write Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, wrote her apology on Trump Organization letterhead and identified herself as an employee of Trump’s company. Trump has sought donations from outside the U.S. although seeking and/or accepting this money would be illegal. Called on this issue, Trump repeated it. The results could be civil and criminal penalties.

Although technically not illegal, the practice of paying himself for holding events at his properties is shady. So far he’s paid himself over $6 million. A mistake as little as picking up a pen at the concierge desk at Trump Tower, however, could be classified as an illegal campaign donation. Trump also may be using an employee of the Trump Organization—not his campaign—to issue a cease and desist order for Right to Rise as well as other groups.

White Supremacist Connections: Called to task earlier for not rejecting support from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Trump said at that time he didn’t know who he was. (He did.) Last Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Trump against about Duke, who said that he was inspired to run for office because of Trump’s campaign. Although Trump said he doesn’t support Duke’s run, he said he didn’t know if he would support a Democrat running against Duke. It would depend on who is running against Duke, Trump said.

Bigotry: In an effort to look presidential, Trump is no longer using the term “Muslims” in his intent to ban immigrants, but everyone knows who he means. Now he advocates a freeze on immigrants from countries “compromised by terrorism.” Which countries could be confusing because he said the French “have totally been” compromised by deadly Islamist attacks. He plans to definitely ban anyone coming into the U.S. from Syria. He said he switched to the term “territory” because “people were so upset when I used the word Muslim.”

Revenge: Well known for seeking retribution against anyone who opposes him, Trump started with John Kasich and Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate opponents, immediately after last week’s convention. After Cruz’ refusal to endorse him, Trump repeated his insinuation that Cruz’ father may have been involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Kasich refused to be Trump’s vice-president or even attend the convention so Trump called him “dishonorable.” As part of this payback, Trump is moving millions of dollars into a super-PAC against their 2018 re-election bids. Trump has no money for charities, but he can afford to donate money out of hate.

Sexual Harassment: Trump declared his allegiance to former Fox CEO Roger Ailes after Gretchen Carlson accused her boss of sexual harassment by calling the accusations “unfounded. Trump explained:

“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them. And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.”

Two dozen women, including Fox star Megyn Kelly, have joined culture in describing the culture at the network of requesting sexual favors of women in exchange for advances or being subjected to crude remarks and sexual putdowns to keep the job. Ailes isn’t the only person accused of sexual harassment. Rudi Bakhtiar is now talking about how her career at Fox failed after she refused to be “friends with benefits” with her then-supervisor Fox News Washington Bureau Chief Brian Wilson.

Rape: A third woman has accused Trump of non-consensual sexual assault. In a 1997 lawsuit, the woman detailed Trump’s inappropriate sexual behavior toward her but dropped her lawsuit after she and her boyfriend settled a business dispute for an undisclosed amount. She brought the issue up again only after Trump called her a liar during his campaign and daughter Ivanka said that her father was “not a groper.”

Last month, a lawsuit accused Trump of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994 during a party at the home of Trump’s billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein. In 2008, Epstein served 13 months in prison for soliciting underage girls for sex and remains a registered sex-offender. The description in the lawsuit graphically describes Trump’s attack. The victim explained that Trump told her that she and her family would be physically harmed or killed unless she stayed quiet about his assault. Another woman said she witnessed the rape. Trump’s first wife, Ivana, also said that Trump raped her.

Vanity Fair has published an article about Keith Olbermann regarding Trump’s mental imbalance using such elements as inability to take responsibility, pathological lying, promiscuity, lack of empathy or senses of remorse or guilt, grandiose sense of self-worth, and much more. Obviously it’s impossible to diagnose anyone without talking to them, but the analysis includes interesting pieces of Trump’s life, including his bragging about punching a music teacher in the eye because he thought the teacher didn’t know anything about music. Trump was seven at the time.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg about Donald Trump.

November 13, 2015

GOP: Women Too Stupid to Make Choices for Themselves

The recent National Religious Liberties Conference had three GOP presidential candates–Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal appeared on the stage demanding that LGBT people be rounded up and executed, much in the same way that ISIS does. Approached about his participation in this bath of hatred, Huckabee said he had no idea that Swanson had these views, despite an earlier call for him to not participate in the event. Religious right radio host Michael Brown tried to explain away the candidates’ appearance despite Jake Tapper’s telling Cruz about Swanson’s views before the conference.

With insistence on genocide, however, was the call to eliminate women’s rights.The theme of the conference was freedom, but Geoff Botkin delivered the message that the Disney movie Frozen is evidence of its “spirit of licentiousness.” Botkin compared Frozen’s song “Let It Go” to Eve’s temptation by the serpent in the Garden of Eden and called it “Satan’s rebellion anthem” corrupting children. The song is about a woman who decides to break away from the directive to treat her talents as a curse and make her own decisions. Botkin was not alone in his claims at the conference: Swanson has frequently declared that Frozen will cause little girls to become lesbians.

Several conference speakers have connections to the “biblical patriarchy” or Quiverfull movement, which fights to roll back women’s rights to use contraceptives. To them, birth control access is a threat to the family and liberty because Christian families must return to traditional gender roles in order to bear and raise as many children as possible. At one time, the move to deny birth control was considered a fringe movement, but the Supreme Court legitimized it in the Hobby Lobby case that recognized restriction of birth control as well as abortion. To many fundamentalist Christians, all birth control that stops pregnancy is considered murder. By recognizing Hobby Lobby’s misrepresentations of this position, the Supreme Court put into law the falsehoods about contraception leading to abortions.

Conservatives also use the myth of “abortion regret” to push a doctor’s claim that he can “reverse” abortion by injecting women with unnecessary shots. Women do not regret abortions. A recent study of women who got abortions shows that 95 percent of women who get abortions say, both right after the abortion and years after the fact, that it was the right decision for them. The political propaganda of “saving” the “baby” comes from the misguided theory that women are too stupid to be trusted with legal abortion. The state must make decisions for these women, because no woman really wants an abortion.

Forced pregnancy is a way to protect women, according to conservatives, because, deep down, all women really want to have those babies. Justice Anthony Kennedy enshrined this belief in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) when he wrote that the right to choose should be narrowed because “some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.” The opinion moved medical decisions for women from doctors to federal and state legislators. This ruling upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 by claiming that it did not impose an undue burden on the due process right of women to obtain an abortion.

Sheva Guy, 23, disagrees. She was forced to either drive 300 miles from Ohio to Chicago for an abortion or deliver a stillborn child. At 22 weeks, her ultrasound showed a fatal spinal abnormality in a female fetus preventing its survival. Under Gov. John Kasich, a GOP presidential candidate, Ohio dropped abortion clinics from 14 to nine with an abortion ban after 24 weeks. Guy wasn’t even allowed to take her fetus home to Ohio.

The late great journalist, author, and commentator Molly Ivins wrote in 1996:

“There’s something very wrong in our discussion of this. If there’s anything that late-term abortion is, it is not an easy call. And I just want to say, that perhaps, I almost get the impression that somebody thinks women don’t have no moral sense at all. No woman who is seven months pregnant, ever waddles past an abortion clinic and says, ‘Darn, I knew there was something I’ve been meaning to get around to.’ This is ridiculous.

“You have those late-term abortions, because either the mother is going to die, the child is going to die, or both are going to die. These procedures are incredibly rare. I only know of two in the state of Texas since Roe v. Wade was passed. They were both what they call cases of babies with no brain. The brain, the child’s brain stem had developed, but then something went horribly wrong and these children literally had no brains. Now, is that an easy call? Is that simple to you?”

Missouri Republicans are so afraid of abortion research that they are threatening to defund the University of Missouri if Lindsey Ruhr continues her doctoral dissertation on the effects of the 72-hour waiting period before women can have abortions. Despite a Missouri law banning universities from “encouraging” abortions, state senator Kurt Schaefer, chairman of the anti-abortion Committee on the Sanctity of Life, maintains that Ruhu is biased although he has not seen her methodology.

Republicans’  history of banning research includes funding about gun violence because “guns don’t kill people—people do,” according to former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last summer. He said that “a gun is not a disease,” and the topic outside of the CDC’s research domain. Scientists are also prevented from studying right-wing terrorism in the United States.

Even women conservatives want stupid women. According to Phyllis Schlafly, men are smarter than women. She suggests admissions quotas, eliminating student loans, and reinstating all men’s sports canceled by Title IX to prevent women from attending colleges and universities. Schlafly, a retired constitutional lawyer, believes that fewer women would be raped if they didn’t go to college.

Conservatives’ denigrating statements about women and rape accelerated during the 2012 election campaigns and have increased since then. George Will called being a rape victim a “coveted status,” and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), another GOP presidential candidate, minimized rape as a “definitional problem.” Many state legislators claim that women typically lie about being raped to avoid consequences of consensual sex. Former presidential candidate and Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, insinuated that rape victims who need abortions after 20 weeks are either lazy or stupid—certainly undeserving of compassion.

The police chief of Georgia’s Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Bryan Golden, told the school newspaper that “most” sexual assaults aren’t sexual assaults at all — women just feel “guilty” about their “consensual” actions. “That’s being stupid,” he added. Golden was briefly suspended without pay, but he’s back on the job, investigating sexual assaults.

During the present term, SCOTUS will hear a case that may bring back the theme of women’s stupidity. Whole Women’s Health v. Cole resulted from the Texas law that tried to shut down at least nine of the 19 remaining abortion clinics in the state with 27 million people, almost half of them women. The term “abortion clinics” is really a misnomer because these women’s clinics provide far more health services than abortions.

None of the legal requirements for these clinics protects women—although legislators claimed that it does—but has everything to do with restricting abortions. Then-governor Rick Perry said in 2012 that until the world is without abortions, “we will continue to pass laws to ensure that they are rare as possible.” The question in front of the Supreme Court is whether it will uphold 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe v. Wade, or decide that women are too stupid to make decisions about their own bodies.

In Casey, Justice Anthony Kennedy, most likely the swing decider on the court, wrote that a woman’s right to an abortion involves “the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment.” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said:

“Access to health care should not depend on a person’s income, where they live or their ability to travel to another state. It’s time for the Supreme Court to send a clear message that these dangerous laws create an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion.”

Quote from Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence:

jennifer Lawrence

Oral arguments on Women’s Heath v. Cole are scheduled for Spring 2017; a decision will probably not be handed down until the end of next June.

February 13, 2015

How Conservative Legislators Think

A circuit of the media shows these gems from state and federal GOP legislators.

Tom Corbin, a state senator from South Carolina, gets his sexist attitude from his reading of the Bible. In front of several witnesses, he told the only woman in the state senate:

“Well, you know God created man first. Then he took the rib out of man to make woman.  And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat.”

It’s not his first offensive comment to her. He also claimed that women don’t belong in the Senate because they should be “at home baking cookies” or “barefoot and pregnant.” Corbin told the woman that “I see it only took me two years to get you wearing shoes.” Among his other issues, Corbin has fought legislation to keep domestic abusers from having guns.

South Carolina is an “interesting” place. According to an investigation, almost 400 inmates in South Carolina have been put into solitary confinement for using social media websites because the state Department of Corrections equates this action to murdering or raping a fellow inmate. With access to Facebook a Level 1 violation, prisoners can get more of these offenses than if the “inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped,” according to the report. The SCDC has so many inmates in solitary confinement that the prisons run out of space. Tyheem Henry is an example of this policy: last October he was assigned to solitary confinement for 37.5 years and had his telephone, visitation, and canteen privileges removed for 74 years for 38 posts on Facebook. And he’s not alone.

The GOP is still struggling with issues surrounding rape. In explaining why raped women should not be able to get abortions, West Virginia Del. Brian Kurcaba said, “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.” In Utah, State Rep. Brian Greene claimed that having sex with an unconscious partner shouldn’t be illegal, at least if it’s with a wife or long-time girlfriend.

“We can’t be for the rule of law at our own convenience,” according to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Now, however, the senator is asking Republicans for help to avoid a “costly and time-consuming legal challenge.” He wants them the Kentucky GOP to create a presidential caucus in 2016 before the May primary so that he can personally get around a state law that keeps him from simultaneously running for two federal offices. To run for both the senate and the president’s office, Paul needs the law changed, and the state legislature has refused. The 54 members of the state GOP executive committee meets on March 7. That’s when Paul will find out if they will make the law more “convenient” for him.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/gop-opposition-net-neutrality-takes-farcical-turn?cid=eml_mra_20150210    The departure of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) as Oversight Committee Chairman was supposed to bring back sanity, but the new chair of the committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), claims that the White House unduly influenced Tom Wheeler, director of the Federal Communications Commission, by bringing in outside groups. According to Chaffetz, the White House is not allowed to lobby FCC commissioners.

Even more bizarre is a video from the new organization Protect Internet Freedom. The porn parody falsely claims that net neutrality will monitor online activities and slow downloads. Behind the organization—and video—is Jordan Gehrke, senior adviser to freshman Tea Partier Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), which makes the organization and video directly connected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

All the GOP members of Congress are in crisis this week. After Republicans passed an appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security with five amendments overturning the president’s immigration executive actions, they thought that Senate Democrats would give up and vote for their measure. It hasn’t worked that way. Tables have turned in that chamber, and Democrats are now demanding 60 votes for passage of bills that they don’t like.

The only solution for the Republicans is the so-called “nuclear option,” changing the rules of the Senate to do away with the 60-vote filibuster. Last year when Democrats declared that presidential nominations, except for Supreme Court justices, were exempt from the filibuster, Republicans were outraged. This year conservatives in the House want it done.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) reminded everyone that the filibuster “is not in the Constitution.” That’s true, but it’s in the Senate because the Republicans wanted it. After loving the filibuster in the past, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has criticized them as “undemocratic” and “senseless.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said:

“Senator McConnell has engaged in a half-hearted effort to date. McConnell has engaged in a policy of surrender without fighting. I’m not going to vote to fund unconstitutional conduct by Barack Obama. Period. End of subject.”

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID) is demanding a change to the rules because he thinks the nation is facing a “constitutional crisis.” The so-called “crisis” has been the same for almost half a decade while Republicans blocked almost every bill that the Democrats tried to put on the Senate floor. During that time, Republicans loved the filibuster because it guaranteed gridlock and stopped much of President Obama’s agenda.

Nobody in the Senate is making noises about changing the filibuster rules. In fact, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), a former representative, said the change could backfire for the GOP. “The Senate should have a protection for the minority. Both parties will be in the minority at different points. We need to be able to protect the rights of the minority,” he said.

With the House refusing to send a “clean” bill without amendments to the president for extending Homeland Security funding, Senate Republicans are worried about a government shutdown—again. Because they’ll be blamed–again. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said:

“It’s not livable. It’s not acceptable. When you’re in the majority, you have to govern. You have to govern responsibly. And shutdowns are not responsible.”

One possibility is a short-term funding, but Senate Republicans know that this action shows that they can’t govern. The deadline for this funding is February 27, followed at the end of March with the deadline to stop steep cuts for Medicare providers. Transportation expires in May, and parts of the Patriot Act disappear in June without further legislation. Then there’s the budget this spring and appropriation bills for each arm of the government. All this capped off by the debt ceiling debates in late summer or fall.

Even Rupert Murdoch’s conservative Wall Street Journal criticized House GOP members and wrote that they are in a “box canyon” of their own making. The editorial continues:

“Restrictionists like Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions are offering their familiar advice to fight harder and hold firm against ‘executive amnesty,’ but as usual their strategy for victory is nowhere to be found. So Republicans are now heading toward the same cul de sac that they did on the ObamaCare government shutdown…”

“It’s not too soon to say that the fate of the GOP majority is on the line.  Precious weeks are wasting, and the combination of weak House leadership and a rump minority unwilling to compromise is playing into Democratic hands. This is no way to run a Congressional majority, and the only winners of GOP dysfunction will be Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich advised the Republicans to use the upcoming recess to get approval for their actions from people back home. That will be difficult because they’ll have to justify the deportation of law-abiding children and young people who came to the United States through no volition of their own. Even some Republican legislators oppose this action.

All this after one month of GOP leadership in the Congress, and they’re leaving town next week for the first of many recesses.

January 21, 2015

House Backs Off Anti-Abortion Vote on ‘Roe v. Wade’ Anniversary

Hell froze over—at least for a short time today. House Republicans were all primed to vote tomorrow on a bill that would stop abortions after the 20th week as their way of commemorating the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal throughout the United States. The vote was to be in conjunction with the annual March for Life with thousands of anti-choice activists in Washington, D.C. Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) re-introduced the bill from last year on the first day of the 114th Congress. The House passed it in 2013, but the bill went nowhere else. Franks needs Blackburn because of his statement that there was no need to exempt rape because “the incidence of pregnancy from rape is very low.”

Two GOP women in the House, however, objected to the restrictive rape and incest exemptions only if the victims had reported their attacks to law enforcement. Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) withdrew their support after GOP leaders refused to change the legislation at the party’s retreat last week, and the issue came to a head today. Ellmers used the excuse of not wanting the appearance of a “war on women”:

“The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important [to them].”

President Obama has already promised to veto the bill. According to the White House:

“[T]he provision that requires rape and incest survivors to report the crime to a law enforcement agency or child welfare authority in order to have access to an abortion after the 20-week mark demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting. Research indicates that the majority of survivors have not reported their sexual assaults to law enforcement.”

Data from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics show that only 35 percent of rape and incest victims report the crime to the police. Either they cannot emotionally come forward because of shame or they think that the justice system will not help them. Incest victims also fear retribution if they report the crime.

Up to two dozen Republicans, both men and women, started to raise concerns to the bill. When a compromise couldn’t be reached because some lawmakers wouldn’t give up the reporting requirement, the GOP leadership changed its plans to move forward a bill prohibiting federal funding for abortions. Current law restricts the use of federal funds toward abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is threatened, but the proposed bill would keep women from receiving federal tax credits toward their insurance, including plans through the healthcare law’s exchanges, and from getting coverage for abortion services.

The divisiveness among House Republicans follows yesterday’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech: Rep. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said nothing about immigration, but in a supposedly verbatim translation, Rep. Carlos Curbelo  (R-FL) gave his Hispanic audience some reassurances about reform.

In a reversal of the usual GOP procedures, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) met with at least half of the 22 Republican women in the House. Usually the male Republicans in the House, 224 this year, make all the decisions about women’s bodies. As the Washington Post reported:

“A meeting with top [House] leaders requested and attended almost exclusively by women is a rare sight. One-by-one they exited the meeting and remained tight-lipped.”

The bill ignored the fact that almost 99 percent of abortions already occur before the 21st week of pregnancy, and later terminations usually involve “rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman’s health.” For this reason, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly opposes laws like the House proposal.

The bill required determination of the “probable” post-fertilization age of the fetus by examining the woman or taking the word of another physician. Any abortion after 20 weeks must be conducted in a way intended to save the fetus’s life “unless that manner would pose a greater risk than other methods would pose for the death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” No health conditions are listed as exclusions to the ban, violating Roe v. Wade.

Most physicians define age of viability at 24 weeks; fetuses delivered at 21 weeks or less have a 0 percent chance of surviving while most do not survive until 25-26 weeks. At that time, they require skilled care, months of hospitalization, and significant financial costs to families, hospitals, and insurers. In addition, premature infants often have life-long developmental deficits and other health challenges. Roe v. Wade set viability at 28 weeks, seven months, which is still recognized as a time which offers a 90 percent chance of survival for fetuses.

The bill provided no abortions for women who learn that their fetuses have severe defects causing death after birth or severely limiting lives after birth. Fetal abnormalities are typically not diagnosed until after the 20th week. For example, a woman carrying a fetus with no brain (anencephaly) would have to carry the fetus to full term and wait for it to die after birth. Some current laws are so strict that many doctors are reluctant to abort a dead fetus.

Showing the GOP ignorance of science, the bill, H.R. 26, is called “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (PUCPA) using the false assertion that fetuses feel pain at the 21st week. Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2010 identified the possibility of pain after 24 weeks because the cortex is necessary for pain perception. Fetuses lack the neurological development to register a response and to potentially recognize an experience as pain until at least 24 weeks and probably much later.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concurred, commenting that studies used by fetal-pain law supporters lacked persuasion “when weighed together with other available information,” according to a Sept. 16, 2013 article in the New York Times. Dr. Mark Rosen, a pioneer in fetal anesthesia, concludes from his research that fetal pain perception comes at the beginning of the 27th week, in the third trimester.

In a Quinnipiac poll, 60 percent of respondents supporting their ban, yet many of these people are unaware of information about fetal viability or consequences of banning abortions before viability. Another national poll shows that 60 percent of respondents support access to abortion at 20 weeks with 33 percent of the respondents opposing. Unlike the Quinnipiac poll, the latter poll asked about specific circumstances in which women should and should not be allowed to terminate a pregnancy after the 20th week.

While risking women’s health and lives, the H.R. 36 would put the government into doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals by criminalizing a safe medical procedure. A 20-week ban has been declared unconstitutional because it prevents abortion before fetal viability, the gestational time when women have the right to end a pregnancy as the Supreme Court has ruled.

Nina Martin has listed ways that the coming year can limit women’s rights, both from the federal government and states controlled by Republicans, which can cause more unwanted pregnancies:

More Abortion Restrictions: Adding to the existing limits, the GOP may try to pass laws requiring women to get permission from the fetus’s father for an abortion which was declared unconstitutional over 20 years ago.

Increasing Religious Exemptions for Contraception: Bills allowing non-compliance of laws surrounding same-sex marriage can also be used to erode reproductive rights.

Non-religious Groups’ Conscience Clauses: Right-to-life organizations argue that denying abortion opponents the same exemption given to religious groups violates their constitutional right to equal protection.

Contraception Battles: Groups, including the U.S. Catholic bishops, argue that birth control is exactly the same as abortion.

Personhood Laws: The legal rights of “pre-born humans” lost at the ballot box last fall, but the National Personhood Alliance is moving to laws in municipalities and counties that would require action from courts sympathetic to the personhood movement.

The climate change in Washington will bring a rapid warming to Hell, but even a short cooling trend makes politics more livable.

We will still need to fight H.R. 36. You can ask your representative to vote against H.R. 36 and keep Roe v. Wade the law of the land.

June 11, 2014

WaPo Continues Misogynist Rant

The Washington Post has done it again. Just two days after George Will’s op-ed that victims of campus rape want a “coveted status,” W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson urge women to get married because they’ll be safer than single women. The piece was originally titled “Marry Your Baby Daddy to End Violence Against Women” until something (embarrassment?) caused it to be changed to “One Way to End Violence against Women? Stop Taking lovers and Get Married.” Once again, men blame women for male violence and guilt them for not marrying just anyone so that they’ll be safe.

Wilcox and Wilson write, “The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.” Missing in their argument is the drop in domestic violence rates at the same time that marriage rates are falling.

According to the op-ed, marriage tames men: “But marriage also seems to cause men to behave better. That’s because men tend to settle down after they marry, to be more attentive to the expectations of friends and kin, to be more faithful, and to be more committed to their partners—factors that minimize the risk of violence.”

W & W also promise that married women live in a better neighborhood and have less chances of getting robbed. Omitted from their polemic is the fact that the privileges of many marriages—more education and money, for example—also provide safer neighborhoods.

Part of the op-ed’s explanation that married women are safer is that they tend to stay at home more. So the solution that W & W proposes is that women stay out of public areas.

A serious problem in domestic violence is that victims may believe that they can change an abusive partner into a loving one by doing the right things. W & W do briefly admit that “married men can and do abuse or assault their wives.” Yet they refute their weak statement by giving marriage credit for their belief that “married fathers are much less likely to resort to violence.”

The op-ed is in response to #YesAllWomen, the “dramatic” social media response to the Santa Barbara shooting that drew attention to the fact that “across the United States, millions of girls and women have been abused, assaulted, or raped by men, and even more females fear that they will be subject to such an attack.” W & W claim that the campaign failed to note that married biological fathers “are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence.”

For Wilcox, however, this isn’t a new message. In a 2006 interview with Christianity Today, he claims:

  • Evangelical women tend to be happier in their marriages than other women, particularly when both the wife and the husband attend church on a regular basis.
  • The biggest predictor of women’s happiness is their husband’s emotional engagement.
  • For the average American marriage, it matters a lot more whether the husband is emotionally in tune with his wife than whether he’s doing, say, half the dishes or half the laundry.
  • Women who have more traditional gender attitudes are significantly happier in their marriages. They’re more likely to embrace the idea that men should take the primary lead in breadwinning and women should take the primary lead in nurturing the children and managing the domestic sphere, managing family life.
  • What’s more predictive of a woman’s happiness is whether or not her husband is the primary breadwinner. The income actually is a more important predictor of her happiness than whether she works outside the home.
  • Women are looking for, in general, husbands who provide them with emotional and financial support, and support to make the choices that they think are important for them and for their children.

As old as his message is, his supporting material is even older. Links go to research published in 1986 and 1990.

According to his bio, Wilcox “directs the Home Economics Project at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies.” As a right-wing group, AEI joins other conservatives in pushing marriage as the cure for societal evils. Nowhere, however, have they explained how marriage can end sexual assaults in the military and on campus unless they argue that women don’t belong in these places.

Wilcox had already sullied his reputation with his involvement in a 2012 study by University of Texas Mark Regnerus that claims having LGBT parents harms kids. The fraudulent study was used in Russia’s oppressive laws against LGBT people. Regnerus’ conclusions completely unraveled after it was discovered that his skewed data all came from two respondents. Wilcox had recruited Regnerus to do his study and was then paid to work on the project. He also urged Regnerus to complete his study to influence the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality cases.

Wilson also has a background of opposition to LGBT rights, primarily marriage equality. He was also one of 11 people who sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to sign the bill that would have allowed residents of Arizona to discriminate against anyone based on religious beliefs.

Once again, The Washington Post needs to be educated. Marriage does not guarantee that a man will not abuse his wife. Being a biological father does not mean that he will not abuse his child. Being victimized does not mean that the person will tell a husband or father. Men who are not abusive don’t abuse women and children. Abusive men will abuse others whether they are married or not. The problem is abusive men.

If W & W were right, the marriage rates would go up and the divorce rates would go down. In the meantime, more men engage in shaming women under the guise of journalism. Again it’s just propaganda and should be stopped.

Talking Points said it best: “WaPo Editorial Page Goes Neanderthal For Second Time In A Week.” Women are still considered responsible, this time for not getting married.

April 2, 2014

SCOTUS Puts ‘Citizens United’ on Steroids

scalia_for_saleAlthough the Hobby Lobby decision could be much more far-reaching than Citizens United, Windsor, and overturning the voting act, the case of McCutcheon v. FEC matches Hobby Lobby in impact. Through declaiming “free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court again put democracy up for sale. Its decision struck down the $123,000 two-year limit to campaign contribution limits, $48,600 to all federal candidates and $74,600 to all political committees. The aggregate limits that stopped money laundering schemes in which donors and political parties could evade the cap on donations to individual candidates has been erased.

Now people can donate the maximum per-candidate and per-party to as many sources as they want. One person can now donate $3.6 million directly to candidates and parties in a single election cycle and much more to “independent” groups like Super PACs because of Citizens United. Donated money can legally be redistributed to the races where it is likely to have the most impact.

Some of Citizens United affects:

  • The 32 top Super PAC donors who gave $9.9 million each matched the $313 million raised from small donors for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney of under $200 from 3.7 million people.
  • Almost 60 percent of Super PAC funding came from 159 donors, and more than 93 percent of the Super PAC money came in contributions of at least $10,000 from only 3,318 people—0.0011 percent of people in the United States.
  • Shel Adelson’s $91.8 million donation is equivalent to the entire net worth of 322,000 average-earning U.S. families.

McCutcheon is worse.

The election cycle limits of $5,200 per candidate and $32,400 per party committee stand, but there is no longer any top limit. Wealthy donors no longer needs to pick and choose among campaigns: they can just fling money everywhere. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) targeted the problem: “I predict again, there will be major scandals in campaign finance contributions that will cause reform. There will be scandal. There’s too much money washing around.”

Reince Priebus, RNC chair, is cheering. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) praised the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that he wanted to erase all contribution limits.

The man who won big with the SCOTUS decision is Shaun McCutcheon, owner of Coalmont Electrical Development which makes industrial electrical equipment for coal mines. Fracking, green energy, and believers in the dangers of climate change are hurting his business. Despite the fact that 98 percent of climate scientists understand the dangers of fossil fuels in the changing planet, McCutcheon passed along words from deniers such as S. Fred Singer as his personal beliefs:

“The good news is that science evidence [sic] has made it quite clear that the human contribution to a possible global warming is minor; in fact it cannot even be identified in the data record.”

With more and more evidence against Singer’s position, McCutcheon needs to bribe more people to legislate in his favor, and SCOTUS just gave that ability to him. Each oil, coal, and gas industry executive can spend $312,455,200 in this election to buy lawmakers. That’s a 2,600 percent increase in their legal donations. And it’s a pittance to them. The $150 million that Shel Adelson and his wife donated to GOP PACs last year is the equivalent of $280 to a person worth $50,000. Adelson makes $32 million, more than twice the $150 million, each day for the entire year. 

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that the legal basis for upholding campaign finance regulations is to prevent corruption. The Roberts Court takes the position that there are no strings attached to the huge sums of money that wealthy people pay for lawmakers. The majority’s definition of the corrupting “quid pro quo” exists only if a specific result is purchased from a specific legislator—according to five members of the Supreme Court. As in Citizens United, the majority of the court fails to consider “the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties. Once again, Roberts tells Congress that if they want good laws, then they should pass them—knowing full well that the GOP will never try to pass any controls on campaign contributions until it works against them.

J. Gerald Hebert, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and one of the nation’s foremost voting rights and campaign finance attorneys, described the ruling as arrogant:

 “The Court today abandoned any pretense of respecting Supreme Court precedent or Congressional expertise on matters of campaign finance when it struck down longstanding federal limits on aggregate contributions to candidates, parties and PACs. Once again, the Roberts Court exhibits its complete ignorance of political realities, or worse, chose to ignore those realities, in striking down laws written by Congress, which is intimately aware of the political corruption that will likely ensue in the wake of this decision.”

robertsAs Ari Berman wrote:

“In the past four years, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has made it far easier to buy an election and far harder to vote in one.

“The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.

“These are not unrelated issues – the same people, like the Koch brothers, who favor unlimited secret money in US elections – are the ones funding the effort to make it harder for people to vote. The net effect is an attempt to concentrate the power of the top 1 percent in the political process and to drown out the voices and votes of everyone else. […]

“A country that expands the rights of the powerful to dominate the political process but does not protect fundamental rights for all citizens doesn’t sound much like a functioning democracy to me.”

Roberts, whose court allowed all states to keep people from voting, will probably never appreciate the irony of his introduction to McCutcheon:  “[t]here is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” 

Media contributes to the dumbing down of people in the United States. Today’s Huffington Post shows how far downhill it has gone since it was sold. The “business” section starts with Starbucks resuming its selling sweetened bread by the slice. This announcement was before GM’s CEO, Mary Barra calling the failure of her company to recall defective cars that killed 303 people in the last 12 years as  “very disturbing.” Following that was the vital information from WSJ that Southwest Airlines is beginning to look just like all the others.

An article on two men saving puppies from a flood is followed by gratuitous celebrity reporting, including “Britney Spears news.” Under “Twitterati” is Justin Bieber’s sage comment, “Why does everyone look like my mom on twitter. lol.” Finish with “how long would you survive the zombie apocalypse,” and you have a diet of reports that can well compete for the most inane Internet entries for the day.

The people who claim that money has no benefit in rulings should consider this news. Wealthy Robert H. Richards IV, who lives off his trust fund, was convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter. After his conviction in 2009, his wife filed another lawsuit charging that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating and then molested his infant son. Yet Judge Jan Jurden ruled that the great-grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont would have only probation because he “will not fare well” in prison. As Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O’Neill said, it is “extremely rare” for someone to fare well in prison. A defense lawyer agreed with the public defender. Michael W. Modica said, “I’ve never heard of the judge saying in general that he is not going to do well. Who thrives in jail?”

This is the kind of money that bought five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Today is National Walking Day, the day that the U.S. Supreme Court walked away from the U.S. Constitution—again.

August 21, 2013

Rapists May Get Visitation, Custody Rights

Rape should not be a reason for a woman to have an abortion, according to many conservatives and rigid religions. What happens if a girl or woman follows the conservative position to save the fetus’s life and keep the baby after it is born? In some states, the rapist can get legal paternity rights over the child born from the rape.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one woman is fighting her rapist over this. After H.T. was raped, she lived with her mother, who had to quit her job to care for H.T.’s baby. Both H.T. and her mother have repeated told state officials that they want no contact for themselves and for the child with the rapist. H.T. asked during the criminal request for the rapist to pay criminal restitution instead of child support, thereby releasing her from any legal proceedings concerning him, but the sentencing judge refused. When she asked the Supreme Judicial Court for Massachusetts to review that judge’s decision, the one justice found that she lacked standing to challenge the judge’s order. H.T. would have to appeal the judge’s order in family court.

If H.T. doesn’t participate in the court proceedings for the 16 years, she can lose custody of the child. At the same time, she has to pay legal fees for the court proceedings. For 16 years, she lives under the threat of her rapist gaining parental rights if he tries to do this in order to avoid child support orders.

A year ago, H.T. and her mother found out that the rapist was trying to get visitation rights with the two-year-old child. He said that he would withdraw the request if he didn’t have to pay the $110-per-week child support. The complaint declares:

“An estimated 35,000 babies are born from rape every year. No state court has ever issued an order such as the one at issue here. Granting the plaintiff’s requested relief will inhibit state court judges in Massachusetts and elsewhere from similarly depriving rape victims of their liberty, personal autonomy and due process.”

Shauna Prewitt, a lawyer and rape survivor, has reported that 31 states allow rapists to sue for visitation rights. Shortly after her daughter’s birth in 2005 when Prewitt was pursuing charges against her accused rapist, he served her with papers demanding custody of their daughter. Missouri did not allow Prewitt to directly fight the custody request; the court needed to file a petition independently. Missouri has a law allowing the court to terminate parental rights in rape cases upon conviction. Statistics indicate that between one-third and two-thirds of women impregnated through rape carry the fetus to full term and keep the child.

As many as 91 percent of rapes are not prosecuted, and of those, only about half lead to a felony conviction. In the 19 states with laws addressing custody of rape-conceived children, 13 demand proof of conviction to waive the rapist’s parental rights. Two states have provisions that apply only if the victim is a minor and another one, only if the minor is a stepchild or adopted child of the rapist. Another three don’t deal with custody but restrict parental rights of a father or mother who sexually abused the other parent.

A Maryland state senator tried to get a law passed that used preponderance of evidence, when a jury needs to be at least 51 percent sure that the rape occurred. Thus far, the bill has failed despite testimony from several women about their continued harassment after rapists asserted parental rights.

Oregon passed a conviction-based law in 2011. Indiana passed a bill through the Senate, but it was modified in the House to authorize an advisory committee to study the issue first where it was dropped.

Last January, State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R) proposed a bill in New Mexico that would require rape victims to carry their pregnancies to term during their sexual assault trials or face charges of “tampering with evidence.”  

HB 206 stated that both the pregnant woman and her doctor would be charged with a felong punishable by up to three years in state prison by “procuring or facilitating an abortion.” After national recognition—and embarrassment for the proposed bill—Brown said that she didn’t mean that the woman and the doctor would be guilty, that the bill was “poorly written.”

The proposed bill follows a year of GOP legislators, both federal and state, trying to add the term “forcible” to rape in order for raped women to get assistance. For example, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) removed the term “forcible rape” from updates to the state’s Child Care Assistance Policy under conditions for those seeking assistance—again after the mandate hit the national media. Martinez claimed that she used the term because the same language is in childcare regulations in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland, and Maine. The New Mexico policy is not clear about whether women need to seek child support from their rapists because getting child care assistance.

Statistics indicate that between one-third and two-thirds of women impregnated through rape carry the fetus to full term and keep the child. The GOP wants to prevent all abortions, yet they refuse to pass laws that will protect the women who choose to not get an abortion and keep their children. Conservatives care only for fetuses–nothing for women and children.

June 12, 2013

Legislative Males Take Charge

Yesterday, I wrote about the way that six Republican men, with no imput from women or medical doctors, moved a highly restrictive anti-abortion bill to the House floor. (More about that later.) Today a Democrat senator, Carl Levin (MI) decided what is best for raped women (and men) in the military despite protests from women, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The issue was whether the military rape cases should be moved to independent prosecutors instead of leaving it in the hands of ineffective military leaders, some of them rapists themselves. Gillibrand’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, moving these cases away from the failed military, had 28 co-sponsors, including four Republicans.

Branch commanders complained about their loss of authority if this would happen, and the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee arbitrarily replaced Gillibrand’s amendment with his own, moving up the cases to a higher level of command if unit commanders decide not to prosecute service members. Levin’s plan was approved in committee by a 17-9 vote.

The Senate involvement came from the Pentagon’s annual report that estimated as many as 26,000 military members experienced unwanted sexual contact last year, an increase from 19,000 the year before. The abuse of victims is clear: last week a woman in the military who accused three U.S. Naval Academy football players of raping her last year said she was disciplined for drinking while her alleged attackers went unpunished.

Navy veteran Trina McDonald, who survived three rapes by other military members while serving in Alaska in 1989, predicted that Levin’s action would deepen the military’s sex-assault crisis. McDonald said that she did not report the crimes because she would have been forced to do this with the offenders, her superiors.

Gillibrand can still introduce her amendment when the Defense spending bill reaches the floor, but opposition from Levin and military leaders give it a slight chance of passing. Co-sponsor Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), summarized the position of Levin and other male senators: “They basically embrace the status quo here.”

As the New York Times wrote in “A Failure on Military Sexual Assaults”: “It is distressing that two decades of scandals could not persuade Mr. Levin to budge from his decision to support the military brass.”

Following the Senate Judiciary Committee vote yesterday to move anti-abortion bill to the floor, Chair Trent Franks (R-AZ) must be feeling defensive to make the following statement:

“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low. But when you make that exception [allowing rape victims to get abortions], there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that’s impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.”

Franks tried to explain this statement by saying that he was referring to women seeking abortions in the sixth month:

“This bill does not address unborn children in earlier gestations. Indeed, the bill does nothing to restrict abortions performed before the beginning of the 6th month.”

An estimated 32,101 women, about the same number as people killed from guns, get pregnant from rape per year in this country. One study found that about 32.4 percent of victims did not find out they were pregnant until their second trimester—beyond the strict 20-week limit in Franks’ bill. Some studies show that rape victims are even more likely to get pregnant, putting the number of women who became pregnant from rape in one year around 83,000.  Even if they do find out before the 20-week limit, finding a clinic that performs an abortion has become an extremely time-consuming process.

The question for Franks is why it matters how few women this would affect. Does he mean that laws should only provide for a large number of people?

Another man in Congress is throwing around his weight. House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA), king of the manufactured-scandal investigations, has decided that he doesn’t want anyone to know the information that his committee received about the scrutiny in the IRS. After seeing all the transcripts, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings (MD), asked Issa to release this information. A week after Cummings’ request, Issa called releasing the full transcripts to be “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Issa’s leak of partial transcripts with cherry-picked quotes, concealing the interview with the conservative Republican who started the Tea Party review, is far more “reckless.” His refusal must be taken as admission that the transcripts hold no “smoking gun.” Ten days ago, Issa said, “The whole transcript will be put out.”

Issa’s behavior has caused him to lose support of some GOP members. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who chairs the panel’s Oversight subcommittee, said that the release of partial transcripts could “adversely alter our ability to get future information from other IRS employees.” He expressed concern that Issa’s political act could stop an investigation for the facts.

Today Issa sent Cummings a letter scolding him for his suggestion that the IRS investigation was finished. During a Sunday interview on CNN, Issa said that Cummings’ desire to close the inquiry into the IRS targeting was “irresponsible, but not surprising.” Issa listed a number of questions that the investigation has not revealed. Lumped together, these questions seem to boil down to this from Issa: “How can I provide that Obama is at fault?”

On the state level, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and his fellow GOP legislators have moved on from union-busting and destroying the middle class to controlling women. A state senate bill, passed this morning, mandates the GOP-popular transvaginal ultrasound before abortion, the same invasive procedure that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said would be against the constitutional right to privacy.

“I don’t have any problem with ultrasound,” Walker told reporters. “I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.” Another man with no medical training thinks that he should override a physician’s decision for a patient with a medically unnecessary procedures.

The bill mandates that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services provide a list of free ultrasound clinics. Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), said she would pull them together from the “pregnancy help centers,” organizations run by religious anti-abortion groups. The only requirements for these “clinics” is that the person performing the ultrasound not have a record of conviction for sexual offenses and that both trans-abdominal and trans-vaginal types of ultrasound equipment are available.

The bill also imposes additional restrictions on abortion clinics, forcing a Planned Parenthood clinic to shut down. Currently only four health clinics in the entire state of Wisconsin provide abortion care. Another part of the bill designed to close clinics is the mandate that doctors who work in abortion clinics must get admitting privileges at a hospital. Mississippi passed this provision to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state, but it was blocked by the courts.

Senate President Mike Ellis, the man conducting the vote, could use this video to apply for a part in a violent horror film as he wildly wielded his gavel to prevent any debate. Ellis blamed the Democrats for his action because they tried to debate a motion that was not debatable. “They triggered this,” he said. “I am a nice guy.” Ellis allowed only one Democrat to speak this morning before the vote.

Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), the longest-serving state legislator in the nation, called this morning’s actions by the Republicans the worst abuse of power he has experienced in his more than 50 years as a legislator.

As usual in Wisconsin, the fast-tracked bill has gone to the GOP-controlled House, ignoring due process. Last year, Walker signed three anti-abortion bills into law and expanded abstinence-only education, which is unsuccessful according to studies. His budget also stripped 91 percent of Planned Parenthood funding, resulting in the close of clinics in rural Wisconsin.

And there you have some of the men controlling our rights according to their personal preference and ignorance.

March 20, 2013

Every School Needs to Teach What Rape Is

“If you look at crime statistics these things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community,” said [Athletic Director Mike McKenna] in reference to the charge of second-degree sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl by two of his 18-year-old football players. Other Torrington High School (CT) officials insist that this and other complaints of hazing at the school are just separate instances and not part of a cultural problem.

Edgar-Gonzalez-and-Joan-Toribio-1 football

Edgar Gonzalez (right) and Joan Toribio have been charged not only with this sexual assault but other crimes involving different 13-year-old girls. Before the sex assault charges against Gonzalez, the team’s Most Valuable Player, was charged in a March 2012 alleged felony robbery. He is accused of jumping three juveniles, 14-years-old, in search of money. Former Head Coach Dan Dunaj let Gonzalez play after a stern talking to: “I reeled the kid in after that, and he walked the line. As a coach I was doing something right.”

The district’s policies for dismissing student athletes are taken on a case by case basis, according to McKenna, Dunaj and Torrington School Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko. McKenna said a “serious infraction” would cause a student athlete to be suspended from play, but couldn’t say, when asked, if that would be a felony or a misdemeanor. He said he did consider violent felonies a “serious infraction.” He also said that he didn’t know anything about the three felony and two misdemeanor charges pending against Gonzalez from the March 2012 incident and that he was never informed of that incident. Dunaj resigned in January 2013 after five years at the school.

r-EDGAR-GONZALEZ-JOAN-TORIBIO-large570

As in the Steubenville (OH) case that led to prison for the rapists, the 13-year-old girl has been victimized by the community. Both males and females have called her a “whore” and criticized her for “snitching” and “ruining the lives” of the 18-year-old football players. Students trying to defend the victim are in turn bullied. These are some of the offensive tweets, sometimes repeated:

 “I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes.”– @asmedick

Twelve days after the alleged incident.”–@AyooWilliam

“I hope you got what you wanted.”

“Sticking up for a girl who wanted the D and then snitched? have a seat pleaseeee.–@ShelbyyKalinski.

Since July 2011, Connecticut state law mandates that school districts address cyber-bullying that takes place off of school grounds. According to the Connecticut Commission on Children, Public Act 11-232, school districts are required to take “Comprehensive steps to prevent bullying, humiliation or assault.” Districts must take action if there are repeated online incidents that affect the school environment or the student’s ability to attend school.

Social media not only shows the original crime but also the following problem: a victim-blaming rape culture that is inclined to take the side of the assailant instead of the victim.

An editorial in Litchfield County’s newspaper, The Register Citizen, clearly stated opposition to school officials’ attitudes and responses toward the students’ actions:

“We hope and trust that the posture of denial and defensiveness Torrington school officials have taken toward the idea that there is a culture of abuse and harassment emanating from the high school football program will be dropped very quickly this morning.

“The city woke up to detailed revelations in The Register Citizen about a coach who tolerated violent behavior and a school district whose policies were vague and not enforced and gave the benefit of the doubt to students who’d been charged with serious crimes but also happened to be key to scoring a lot of touchdowns.

“Worst of all, and what will cause an ugly statewide, perhaps national, spotlight to shine on Torrington in the coming days, the newspaper uncovered dozens of Torrington High School athletes and students, male and female, bullying the 13-year-old victim of an alleged sexual assault by two 18-year-old football players.

“They called her “whore,” “snitch,” blamed her for “ruining the lives” of the players. They harassed and bullied students who dared defend her. Assuming they were unaware of these social media posts (and no doubt, similar conversations in school classrooms and hallways), we expect the stance and leadership of Athletic Director Mike McKenna and Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko to change dramatically.

“McKenna said, “If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around then I think you’re mistaken.”

“Well actually, there was a hazing scandal the school district still hasn’t explained, the MVP of the team was allowed to play all of last season despite pending felony robbery and assault charges which also involved another football player, and then the latest incident of a sexual assault arrest of two players. McKenna says he didn’t even know about the felony robbery and assault charges or that the coach knew about them and still allowed his MVP to play. So maybe the athletic director isn’t even qualified to insist that there’s not a “wild band of athletes” causing trouble all over town.

“In fact, the behavior of athletes does appear to be out of control and unacceptable.

“And the suggestion that it’s a ‘few bad apples’ and not a deeper cultural problem in the school district is obliterated by the Twitter and Facebook messages of dozens of Torrington High School students.

“The first step in recovering from this is admitting you have a problem. And after reading the social media accounts of average, “good” students at Torrington High School, it’s clear that Torrington students need an urgent education about blaming the victim, bullying and harassment, what “consent” means, why statutory rape is rape, period, and where football should stand in relation to their education and the rest of life.

“Let’s hope that starts today.”

One of the two teenage rapists in Steubenville said that he didn’t know what he did was rape. A thorough education described above is vital for every school in the United States. We all need to start lobbying for this in order to change the culture of rape within all our communities.

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