Nel's New Day

April 30, 2016

Bathroom Laws Endanger Transgender People – Take Action

 

Fear is a driving force for conservatives, according to studies using brain scans. The amygdala, an area related to fear, is larger in conservatives, causing them to be reactionary rather than thoughtful. Other studies examining skin conductance and eye tracking show that conservatives focus on negativity when they walk into a room, searching for anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Imaging that tracks oxygen in the blood can identify racial bias. Identifying these physical differences explains the deep divides among people on hot-button issues such as war, abortion, immigration, and same-gender marriage. And transgender people.

transgender girlChristian Extremist and president of a theocratic law group named Anita Staver, president of the Christian extremist Liberty Council, claims that she will be carrying a firearm with her every time she uses a public bathroom. Texas police officer Tracy Murphree, sheriff candidate in Denton County, said he would beat any transgender woman in a public restroom with his daughter until she lost consciousness. Corey Maison (left) is one of the transgender women Murphree threatens.

Conservatives can get over their fears, but unfortunately, they must overcome their initial reactions, hard to do because of the bombardment of conservative media. Fox network continually stokes fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms, including a fake story about a transgender student harassing females in her school’s restroom. Other media outlets including The Daily Caller, WMD, and the Media Research Center, promote the myth that sexual predators will use gender-neutral bathrooms to prey on women. Yet the 17 states and 225 cities with nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people have not experienced one situation that the conservative media describes.

As Chad Butler, the District Attorney of Nashville (TN) who has prosecuted hundreds of sex crimes, explained, sexual predators are overwhelmingly “heterosexual men.” Butler added that the bathroom debates distract people from real dangers. “A majority of my cases are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, Boy Scout leaders, coaches, youth ministers, preachers. People that are already close to the family that the family trusts,” Butler said. (Think Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House.)

North Carolina’s law further legitimizes harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Since the law passed, transgender suicide hotlines have gotten twice as many calls as usual. When young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up because these laws perpetuate feelings of isolation and depression. Trans students run a high risk of verbal harassment and physical assault or violence in gender-segregated restrooms. Trying to avoid these problems, about half of them experience a health problem such as a urinary tract or kidney infection. These students also tend to drop out of school because of harassment or become homeless because their parents reject them.

People say that they don’t know any transgender people, but more than two-thirds of all transgender people in the U.S. hide their gender or gender transition to avoid discrimination. The vast majority of transgender people are harassed at work; nearly half say they were not hired because of their gender identity; and one-quarter say they were fired because of who they were.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

An excellent book about the trauma of being transgender and conservative parents growing to understand this complex issue is Amy Ellis Nutt’s Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. A conservative couple discover that one of the identical twin boys they adopt is trangender, and they grow to accept Nicole’s transition, to the point of supporting her through a lawsuit against Maine for equal rights at her school.

Nicole’s father, Wayne Maines, wrote the following in response to a vicious attack ad about transgender people from the Ted Cruz campaign after Donald said that transgender Caitlyn Jenner could use any of his buildings’ restrooms that she wants. Cruz spreads the myth that predatory men pretending to be women will be allowed to assault “your daughter” and “your wife” in women’s restrooms.

“Like many people, I have stayed out politics for the most part, being focused on raising my family, working hard, saving for retirement, and helping our country grow. But it is impossible to sit back and watch people not only make mistakes based on their unfounded fears, but use other groups as fodder for political gain at the expense of real peoples’ lives, in this case transgender people. My daughter is one of those people, and Mr. Cruz, you have put her in harm’s way with this ad, just like those in Houston last year and in North Carolina and other states this year. It has to stop.

“I will be honest. It was not long ago I had a hard time saying the word transgender, but watching my child suffer, watching grown men and women lose their perspective because they feared my child, forced me to dig deep into my core and address my fears, educate myself, and get to know more about the transgender community.

“Mr. Cruz, I would be happy to sit down with you and have a ‘non-politically correct’ conversation. Man to man, father to father and if you have the courage to do so, I may help you conquer this fear. I have witnessed young people and adults demonstrate more courage than you and I can fathom, courage that inflicted scars that can be avoided if we have the courage to change. As someone who wants to  lead of our nation, I imagine that is your goal, but for moment forget about politics and think closer to home. This is no game and you are playing with people’s lives.

“I hope that you never have to lay awake at night wondering if your child will be alive in the morning.  Not just one night, many nights.  I am worried about this election and the path you are taking. If anyone should be worried about his or her child in the bathroom it should me. I am worried about my daughter’s safety and her self esteem. I am worried that all of my family’s hard work raising strong and proud young Americans will be destroyed this fall.

“On a larger level, I am worried about a nation that could lose its way as it struggles to make progress for all. I am worried about leaders using fear and misinformation for political gain.  It is ok to ask questions, not understand something you have no experience with, or even be afraid, but keep an open mind. Let’s conquer this fear and get back to fixing our economy, strengthening our military, and helping our children obtain the tools they need to live full and happy lives.

“I left the Air Force in 1981 proud of my service because I believed in our President. President Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.’ I still believe what he said. But it is tempered by life experience. I have learned more about freedom watching people attack a community of Americans that just want live their lives in peace, work, and be with their loved ones.  They are not attempting to break down the American family; they are not trying to pretend to be someone they are not; they are not “confused.” They know who they are and what they stand for. I hope everyone running for President has the courage to dig deep and realize that our family values must continue to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

Maines said, “It is natural to fear things we do not understand. But how we react to those fears is critical.” You can take part in the movement to stop laws that put everyone at risk–both transgender people and everyone else perceived to be of the “wrong” gender that a bathroom.

 

Tell North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to overturn the law.

McCrory’s office phone number: (919) 814-2000

McCrory’s 24-hour “comment line’: (919) 814-2050

Write Gov. Pat McCrory and tell him that his new law is not “common sense.”

Tennessee’s new law allows counselors to deny services based on their “strongly held beliefs.” It is the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.  Tell Gov. Bill Haslam that he was wrong to sign this bill.

Across the nation, over 100 anti-LGBT bills are pending in 22 states. There is a way to stop this discrimination: adding federal nondiscrimination protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Equality Act. Democratic House members are calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to schedule a hearing on the bill that was introduced last July. When Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over as Speaker of the House, he called on committees to “retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate.” The Equality Act has over 210 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, including two Republicans. Three years ago, the Senate passed a bill that would have barred discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, but the House never took it up. Tell your representative that you want this bill to go to the floor.

August 8, 2014

The Art of Buying Judges Escalates

Tennessee had an election yesterday, and the Koch brothers lost. The fight was over replacing three justices on the state Supreme Court. It wasn’t that they did anything wrong; it was just that they had been appointed by a Democrat. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey decided that the Democratic appointees needed to be traded out and gave $425,000 of his own campaign’s money for the cause.

State Supreme Court justices get their positions in different ways across the nation. In Tennessee, voters decide whether to retain members of the Supreme Court. The electorate kept all three “controversial” justices for another eight years by about 57 percent over 43 percent who voted against them. To keep their positions, justices had to raise money for their campaigns just as legislators do, often getting contributions from lawyers who will try cases in the court.

Spending on television spots for justices has escalated in the past decade, almost tripling the 2001/2002 expenditures for the 2011/2012 election cycle. For that election, the costs went over $3 million in five separate states, with Michigan alone spending almost $9 million. As a comparison, television campaigning for justices in my state of Oregon was about $100,000.

Special-interest groups provided 38 percent of all television spending for state Supreme Court justices in the last election cycle, with 90 percent of this special interest money going to just six states—Florida, Oklahoma, Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Oklahoma’s Yes for Fair and Impartial Judges spent more than $450,000 in 2012 calling on voters to “keep politics out of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”

One result of all this funding is the increase in state Supreme Court rulings for prosecutors and against criminal defendants for fear of being portrayed as “soft on crime.” For their study, researchers examined data between 2000 and 2007 from supreme courts in states where campaigns spent over $3 million: Illinois, Mississippi, Washington, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and West Virginia. The study used 4,684 rulings in criminal cases starting five years before a given state’s first $3 million high court election and ending five years after that election.

Illinois is an example of the change. After the 2004 race breaking campaign spending records and bombarding voters with attack ads featuring violent criminals, the high court ruled in favor of the prosecution in 69 percent of its criminal cases—an 18 percent increase over the previous year. Mississippi had the same experience: justices ruled against criminal defendants in 90 percent of the cases in 2002, a 20 percent increase from 2000. Wisconsin matched Mississippi.

Correlations were strongest when more ads came from independent groups unaffiliated with the candidates because these groups are more likely to use attack ads. Nevada, with no independent spending, lacked the pattern in the other states. In states such as Washington and Georgia, where spending spiked and then declined, the percentage of rulings against criminal defendants followed the same pattern.

Smear ads in Michigan described one justice candidate as having “volunteer[ed] to help free a terrorist.” In Ohio, a state Republican Party ad accused Supreme Court candidate Bill O’Neill of being “sympathetic to rapists,” based on a decision he made as an appeals judge overturning a rape conviction due to ineffective assistance of counsel. During the 2004 West Virginia Supreme Court election, a group funded by coal mogul Don Blankenship warned that an incumbent justice “voted to release” a “child rapist” and then “agreed to let this convicted child rapist work as a janitor in a West Virginia school.” Another campaign ad, this one in the 2012 Louisiana Supreme Court race, claimed that one of the candidates had “suspended the sentence of a cocaine dealer, of a man who killed a state trooper, two more drug dealers, and over half the sentence of a child rapist.”

Over-incarceration has been a growing problem in the past half century, and the United States has searched for solutions. The federal government is scaling back the use of harsh mandatory minimums, and some states, including Georgia, are experimenting with alternative sentencing. Politicization of judicial elections must be included as part of these solutions.

Other rulings show the conflict of interest between judicial practices and campaign contributors. Judge Rudolph Randa of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin frequently attends Koch brothers’ conferences at no expense to himself. Recently, he ended the investigation into potentially illegal campaign coordination between Gov. Scott Walker and conservative organizations such as Wisconsin Club for Growth. He described the coordination as “promoting political speech,” and prosecutors were told to return all seized property and destroy copies of documents they had obtained. Fortunately, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Randa’s order before the documents were returned or destroyed.

Campaign ads across the nation have attacked judges’ rulings: same-sex marriage in Iowa, the Affordable Care Act in Florida, and collective bargaining in Wisconsin. In 2012, politicians, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, joined the “No Wiggins bus tour” in opposition to one of the judges who ruled to legalize marriage equality in Iowa. Wiggins kept his seat with 54.5 percent of voters supporting him, but the last three justices involved in the 2009 decision are up for election in 2016. After Bill O’Reilly and Nancy Grace attacked individual state judges a few years ago, legislators filed articles of impeachment against them.

Last fall, a group called the Judicial Crisis Network lobbied the Oklahoma legislation to stop vetting candidates with the Judicial Nominating Committee and select them only through direct partisan elections. The organization, originally known as the Judicial Confirmation Network, has the sole purpose of raising money and funding campaigns for conservative judicial candidates. Information about the group’s background was not divulged during its testimony.

Some anti-choice groups are pushing to have Republican governors and legislators select state judges. Kansans for Life supported the change in state law that allows the governor—in this case, the ultra-conservative governor—to pick justices for lower state courts without making the application pool, interview process, or selection criteria public.

In states with Democratic governors or legislators, the anti-choice groups threaten legislators with negative scorecard votes. In Pennsylvania, a legislator’s vote to remove partisan elections for justices would be considered by these groups as a “pro-abortion” vote. The same thing happened in Minnesota.

The Republican State Leadership Committee has started the Judicial Fairness Initiative to back judge candidates with conservative ideologies. The RSLC has already contributed $650,000 to Justice for All NC, a state that had over $3 million in judicial campaigns in the last election cycle. Alice Bannon, of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, described the politicization process of judge selection, “Judges essentially become politicians with robes.”

In 14 states, campaigning judges identify themselves as a member of a specific party. All 163 judges in Alabama, for example, are elected in partisan contests. In two states, Virginia and South Carolina, the legislatures elect judges. The Florida governor nominates the state’s seven Supreme Court justices and 60 Courts of Appeal judges, and the Hawaii governor appoints 44 judges at varying levels.

A total of 38 states elect judges in a country where people expect courts to be fair and impartial. Their reason for existing is to resolve disputes on an impartial basis and protect people’s rights. More than 90 percent of all cases go through a state court that’s becoming increasingly controlled by money from lawyers, lobbyists, and business interests.

West Virginia has public funding for judicial elections, and a few states—Arizona, California, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Washington—have recusal laws preventing a judge from hearing a case involving a campaign donor. At least the Koch brothers lost yesterday in Tennessee.

April 20, 2012

ALEC Becomes Visible, Loses Support

Shrouded in secrecy, an ultra-conservative organization has operated for at least 30 years to destroy the poor and middle class people in the United States until George Zimmerman followed and killed Trayvon Martin, who was armed only with Skittles and an iced tea. Although law enforcement groups opposed the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law, people in Florida are permitted to attack a perceived assailant without retreating. John Timoney, former Miami police chief, called the law a “recipe for disaster” and said that he and other police chiefs had correctly predicted it would lead to more violent road-rage incidents and drug killings.

Behind this law is not only the NRA but also the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a collection of wealthy corporations and highly conservative legislators, that exists to prepare ultra-conservative legislative bills that have swept the country as more and more states are held hostage by Republicans.

Once people began to learn about ALEC’s destructive nature, they protested, frequently with on-line petitions against its supporters. At least 12 major corporations, the number growing daily, have withdrawn their donations, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Intuit, Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the Gates Foundation. Petitions are still out there to persuade State Farm Insurance, Johnson & Johnson, and AT&T to drop their support.

The pressure is paying off: ALEC has announced that it will be “eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.” That’s the task force that was behind the controversial voter ID, “stand your ground,” and anti-immigrant laws.

Complaining about “an intimidation campaign,” ALEC claims that its aim is “economic vitality.” Toward that end, they strive to break unions, repeal minimum wage laws, privatize public lands, repeal capital gains and estate taxes, oppose efforts to address human-created climate change, repeal sick day laws, require super-majorities to raise taxes, restrict women’s reproductive rights, and even push laws stating that kids’ eating rat poison is an “acceptable risk.”

In the name of “economic vitality,” ALEC has model laws in the educational field to teach creationism and stop the teaching of human involvement in climate change. Their ultimate goal is to strip public education of all financing,  funding only private religious academies. The Supreme Court allows Arizona to funnel public taxes to religious schools, and Tennessee now promotes creationism and climate change denial in its schools. Denying any involvement in ALEC, New Jersey governor Chris Christie uses its model bills for education “reform” including the use of standardized testing and reforming teacher tenure. ALEC is also in Minnesota working for “torte reform.” 

ALEC distributes hate messages, such as the pamphlets about the “Ten Harms of Same-Sex Marriage” and worse. According to this material from the Family Research Council, marriage equality would result in fewer people marrying or remaining monogamous followed by polygamy.

After the NRA conceived Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law and promoted its passage, the gun-advocacy group brought the bill to ALEC in 2005, when legislators and corporate lobbyists on the Criminal Justice Task Force voted unanimously to adopt it as a “model bill.” Since becoming first an ALEC model and then a law in dozens of other states, the number of homicides classified as “justifiable” has dramatically increased, jumping 300 percent in Florida alone. In 2009, members of the same Task Force approved the model “Voter ID Act,” versions of which were introduced in a majority of states in 2011, illegally denying voters the opportunity to participate in elections.

Members of the now-eliminated Task Force have included for-profit prison providers like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has also served as the co-chair. The ALEC Criminal Justice/Public Safety & Elections Task Force has created model bills that lengthen sentences, dramatically increased incarceration rates, and—of course—privatize prisons, putting more of those inmates under the control of for-profit corporations.

Fifteen years ago, Scott Walker, currently Wisconsin governor, introduced the “Truth in Sentencing” bill passed by the legislature which requires inmates to serve their full sentence without options for parole or supervised release. The law removes incentives for prisoners to reduce prison time through good behavior and participation in counseling as well as eliminating the ability for judges and parole boards to decide that the financial and social costs of keeping a particular person incarcerated no longer furthers public safety goals.

Walker failed to make money for CCA by losing his bid to privatize Wisconsin prisons, but Arizona Republican Rep. Russell Pearce was more successful when he collaborated with CCA to privatize half the immigrant detention centers at the same time that he persuaded the state legislature to pass the ALEC “model” immigration bill that became SB1070. An immigrant contesting their deportation can wait up to a year for a hearing, even though many of those detained have not committed a crime and have no criminal record. Taxpayers give CCA $122 per day for each detained immigrant in these centers. Pearce is known nation-wide because of the successful recall against him.

ALEC also made money for the for-profit bail bond industry’s trade association, the American Bail Coalition (ABC), through ALEC’s anti-immigration laws. An immigrant facing removal in some cases may be released on bond and will often pay a commercial bail bondsman for  release. Immigration bonds are usually between $5,000 and $10,000 although the bond can be much higher. A for-profit bail bondsman who receives 10 percent of that bail as a nonrefundable fee can collect significant profits for doing very little. ABC has called ALEC the industry’s “life preserver.” After the dissolution of ALEC’s Criminal Justice/Public Safety & Elections Task Force, ABC moved over to the Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force.

In one specific way, ALEC affects almost everyone in its attempt to raise prices for Internet use. Although ALEC’s restrictive bill  failed to stop the public broadband system in Lafayette (LA), the “model” remains in ALEC’s library. Lafayette’s system offers Internet speed at a 750-percent cheaper cost to users than rival Cox’s service at the lowest tier. If the corporations that run ALEC get their way in the future, you will never have cheaper and faster Internet service.

While ALEC tries to keep Internet subscribers paying top dollar, they use it to protest what they perceive as “unfair” treatment, sending their message out to conservative bloggers of how to defend ALEC. In addition to its false claim of transparency, it also touts its “diversity of thought … a non-partisan resource”: ALEC leadership has one Democrat and 103 Republicans. Because of the closed-door policy, constituents don’t know that corporations write and approve ALEC legislation. Bloggers were told that ALEC will soon launch a website called “I Stand with ALEC.” (Until it comes up, you can find real information about ALEC at a website exposing their activities.)

Sounding virtuous about its work, ALEC said, “America needs organizations like ALEC to foster the discussion and debate of policy differences in an open, transparent way.” ALEC Task Force meetings are closed to the press and public and take place behind closed doors. The Koch brothers are large donors to ALEC; they well understand the importance of opacity.

Unfortunately, ALEC is not unique in the land of blueprint legislation, borrowing bill prototypes or model bills from a central national entity and then adapting them for introduction in statehouses. People who notice that the women’s anti-reproductive rights legislation sweeping Republican states pretty much look alike can thank Americans United for Life (AUL) that took over from ALEC in this area. Behind this organization is former Mike Huckabee staffer Charmaine Yoest and former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson, who now claims “that Planned Parenthood is in cahoots with Satan.” Johnson is also behind Komen’s defunding Planned Parenthood. Not much has been said about their funding, but they certainly seem to have clout.

As The Nation reports, conservatives in ALEC think everything in government should be “demonized, starved, or privatized.” That’s probably true for all conservatives.

March 23, 2012

Anti-Choice People Get Crazier

How crazy can anti-choice people become? Just when you think you’ve seen it all ….

Members of an anti-choice group performed an exorcism outside a women’s clinic in Ohio last Sunday. Priests got permission from the Rev. Steve J. Angi, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, to perform the “exorcism of locality,” designed to drive evil out of a place, rather than out of a person. Participants read the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, that states, “Seize the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the devil and Satan, bind him and cast him into the bottomless pit, that he may no longer seduce the nations.”

While the Catholics are exorcising “locality,” Republican legislators are becoming more and more outrageous. In Arizona Rep. Terri Proud wants a bill to force women witness an abortion before they can have the procedure. An Alaskan bill requires women who opt for abortions to prove in writing that the fetuses’ fathers approve of the procedures.

To keep women from having abortions, both Arizona and Kansas are considering bills giving women’s doctors the legal right to lie about health issues regarding both the pregnant women’s and the fetuses’ health. In a 20-9 vote, the Arizona Senate approved a bill, sponsored by Nancy Barto, that prevents lawsuits if doctors fail to inform women of prenatal problems. The Kansas bill goes further, permitting doctors to outright lie outright if they discover a medical condition that could affect a pregnant women or fetus. Nine other states already have “wrongful birth” laws on their books allowing doctors to withhold information from pregnant women.

Idaho State Sen. Chuck Winder clearly states the arrogant attitude that many Republican legislators have toward women. While discussing his mandatory ultrasound bill, he said, “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

Gov. Rick Perry (TX) stated that he can take money from Planned Parenthood because the Tenth Amendment allows him to do anything with federal money that he wants. Between the withdrawal of state and federal funds from Planned Parenthood, over 300,000 Texas women in poverty can no longer receive health care. Texas also has a 24-hour waiting period and ultrasound requirements for abortions. The Texas Observer has published a story about the pain that these laws cause for women carrying fetuses with irreversible medical conditions, an article that every Republican should be required to read.

Utah’s governor signed the bill that demands a 72-hour waiting period before women can get abortions. The rationale behind lengthy waits seems to be that women will change their minds if given enough time … or perhaps not meet the short window of time during which women can get abortions.

The trend against women, however, seems to be slightly reversing. Tennessee is thinking about not requiring the publication of the names of doctors’ who perform abortions although the women’s identity could still be obvious. The change comes from the only physician in the legislature, a Republican who wants to protect at least doctors if not women.

The Idaho House is backing off forced ultrasounds after the Senate passed the bill 23-12 with five Republicans voting against it. The cancellation of a House committee hearing gives the impression that the bill may have died. After the New Hampshire House passed a bill that would force doctors to lie to their patients by telling them legislature-specified statements that abortions give higher risks for breast cancer, legislators decided to take the bill back to committee so that it could be reconsidered. Abortions do NOT give a higher risk of breast cancer.

Arizona’s bill requiring women to tell their employees why they want contraception has already passed the House, but it’s being amended by its sponsor, Rep. Debbie Lesko, who pulled it from the Senate Rules Committee. The intent to return to committee is to work on amendments—what kind wasn’t disclosed. Gov. Jan Brewer said she was concerned that women might be “uncomfortable” with the bill.

Utah governor Gary Herbert vetoed a bill banning public schools from teaching about contraception in health education classes.

Women are still fighting back. Project TMI is still posting on legislators’ Facebook pages across the nation.

The National Organization for Women (NOW), which has been almost invisible in the past few years, has tackled the bust of Rush Limbaugh being sculpted for the Missouri state capitol. The state chapter’s program, “Flush Rush,” has sent hundreds of rolls of toilet paper to Steven Tilley, the state House Speaker responsible for inducting Limbaugh in the Hall of Famous Missourians. Tilley’s justification for keeping Limbaugh in the capitol is that the Hall is “not called the Hall of Universally Loved Missourians. We’ve inducted people like John Ashcroft, Warren Hearnes, and Harry Truman. They certainly had their detractors.” Apparently at least one Missouri Republican compares Limbaugh to Harry Truman.

Because of its opposition to Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen Foundation is losing affiliate officers and events. Another group—one that’s pro-choice and spends more of its funding helping women prevent breast cancer—would better suited to take its place.

Conservative legislators are also more reluctant to fight in other areas such as same-sex marriage. Two-thirds of the New Hampshire House voted to keep its 2007 same-sex marriage law in a 211 to 116 vote. Republicans hold 189 seats in the House; they could easily have passed the bill.

Even with this trend, the country trends farther and farther to the right. There must a tipping point somewhere!

March 19, 2012

“Release” Information about Women Who Have Abortions and Their Doctors, Say Tennessee Legislators

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:52 PM
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When have Republicans gone too far? People who were horrified at laws demanding transvaginal ultrasounds and prohibiting birth control need to see what Tennessee wants to do to women who decide to have abortions and the doctors who perform this legal medical procedure.

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) is sponsoring a bill that would require additional information on abortions, including the doctor’s name and demographics about the women that might very easily reveal their identities. This information is already provided to the Department of Health; Hill wants to publicize the data. The Department of Health already reports the information about abortions, but Hill would mandate that the department “release patient data broken down by county.” In small communities this reporting could easily reveal the women’s identities. State Rep. Gary Odom (D) warned that violence against both the women and the doctors who provide the procedures could ensue after their identities are made public.

Sixteen years ago, the government passed an act with a long name and the acronym HIPAA that protected patients’ privacy in health situations. Since that time, thousands of trees have been destroyed to print the mandated page-long instruction for each patient, given to each patient each time the person has any medical appointment. Yet some legislators who believe in no regulations and extremely limited government go beyond over-riding doctors’ opinions in providing health care to releasing information about women patients, information that could result in violence against the women. These legislators are the same people who want to endanger everyone’s health by allowing poison in our food, water, and air. Their guideline is no regulations unless they control women.

It’s been over 150 years since Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter, about a woman in 17th-century America who was marked for life with an “A” on her forehead. Perhaps reading this book will give Hill more ideas about humiliating women.

While states across the country are busy working for abstinence-only programs and other controls on women’s reproductive rights, some Republicans are recognizing the insanity of this approach and its danger to Republicans’ being elected. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he opposes his state’s controversial bill allowing employers to restrict health insurance coverage of contraception to only those cases when a woman can prove a need for it because of a medical reason, such as endometriosis or an ovarian cyst. If this bill were to pass, women would need a note from their doctors to prove that they weren’t using birth control just for “fun” purposes.

Women are catching on. “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business,” said evangelical Christian, Iowa voter, and former Mitt Romney supporter Mary Russell.

Republican legislators’ Facebook pages are being inundated in Project TMI: women all over the country post honest, frank information about their reproductive issues—menstruation, birth control, etc.—and ask for assistance from the men who have worked so hard to control women’s reproductive rights. Rick Perry is another recent recipient of the barrage of messages.

March is Women’s History Month, and our nation’s women are making history!

January 28, 2012

Buchanan, Other Republicans Exhibit Racism

Sixteen years ago, Pat Buchanan won the New Hampshire primary for presidential candidate; now he may be fired from MSNBC. Three months ago, the activist group Color of Change started a petition against his employment at the television network after a number of racist insults, including calling President Obama “your boy” on Al Sharpton’s show.

Buchanan hasn’t appeared on the network since he headed out on his book tour. Suicide of a Superpower includes chapters  with titles such as “The End of  White America” and “The Death of Christian America” for chapters, and he stated that the country is in the “Indian summer of our civilization.” An MSNBC’s top executive has said that Buchanan will be allowed back on the network.

Buchanan gave two scenarios for what happened. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, he said that he had medical issues, that there was nothing permanent about the separation. Two days later he told Sean Hannity that the problem came from the gays and the people of color. He also blamed the Jews because of his position that the United States shouldn’t go to war with Iran to protect Israel.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin hasn’t come right out and stated that Buchanan is suspended, but thus far he hasn’t appeared on the network.

The Republicans have had a history of racial prejudice in the past decades, and people like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman tried in the past to overcome this image. Almost seven years ago, he apologized to the NAACP, saying that Republicans had pushed racial strife to get white voters, especially in the South. Since then the racial divide has only worsened.

In Tennessee Tea Party groups are demanding that the state legislature remove references to slavery in school textbooks. Their goal is to erase any negative portrayals of the rich white men who wrote the Constitution: “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the 800-square-mile Wake County School District in Raleigh wants to segregate its schools, stating that concentrating poor children—usually minorities—in a few schools has merit. John Tedesco, one of the new Republican-majority board, said, “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma,Alabama, in the 1960s–my life is integrated.” The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint arguing that 700 initial student transfers the new board approved have already increased racial segregation, violating laws that prohibit the use of federal funding for discriminatory purposes.

Concern about the Republican presidential candidates’ racist pandering to the white base has also been growing throughout the past few months. Rick Santorum said, “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” Criticized for this statement, he tried excuse himself by saying that he listened to the tape and must have same something like “bla…” Doesn’t work.

Ron Paul wants to overturn the Civil Rights Act because he thinks white private business owners should have the “freedom” not to serve minorities. His virulently racist newsletters from the 1990s have also found more and more publicity. Despite Paul’s denials stating that he knew nothing about the newsletters’ content, associates declare differently, saying that they watched him proof and sign off on what was said.

Newt Gingrich criticized Paul for the newsletters and accused him of knowing about the content. That was right after Gingrich offered to talk to the NAACP to urge African-Americans to “demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” When Juan Williams, a moderator for the South Carolinadebate from Fox News, asked Gingrich if his use of such language was “intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities,” the white audience booed Williams. Gingrich evidently doesn’t know that fewer than one quarter of food stamp recipients are African-American.

Mitt Romney wants to “keep America America.” Whatever he means by this statement, it’s far too close to the Ku Klux Clan motto, “keep America American.”

Fortunately Michelle Bachmann is gone, but many of her statements remain embedded in our memory. One of these is that the black family was stronger during slavery than in freedom. She probably read the proposed Tennessee textbooks because of her belief that the white men who wrote the Constitution in the 1700s were abolitionists who “fought tirelessly to eliminate slavery” and that the slaveholding Christian whites “loved their slaves.”

The candidates were asked in one debate to address the grossly disparate impact of the Great Recession on black and brown communities. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is two to three times higher than the 9 percent for whites; the middle-class minorities have had their income, assets, and wealth gutted so thoroughly that whites have almost 20 times the average net worth of African-Americans. The candidates had no response other than people should work harder because the opportunities to succeed are all through the country.

It appears that the Republicans think that they can be elected with just the white vote. From what minorities are saying, they’ve lost anyone else’s vote, At a Martin Luther King Day concert in South Carolina just five days before the Republican primary, Kathy Edwards said, “It’s all about this with the Republicans,” she says pinching her own black skin. “I’m 58 now. It’s better than it was, but with the Republicans it’s all about race even if they don’t say it.”

Four years ago, less than 2% of those voting in the South Carolina Republican primary were from racial minority groups whereas more than half of those who participated in the Democratic primary were black.

“White folks around here talk about taking the country back when it hasn’t been anywhere,” Edwards said. “The fact is they don’t like a black man as president. They think he has taken something that belongs to them.”

Lottie Gibson, one of only two African American members of the Greenville county council and a former teacher with a long history of working with the poor, said that the Republican message has been racially divisive by persuading poor white people, who overwhelmingly vote Republican in South Carolina, that a large part of the cause of their economic problems is poor black people.

Edward echoed Gibson’s position. “To me the Republicans just don’t include African Americans. They don’t connect to us. They seem mean spirited people,” she said. “This election is not about black and white, it’s about rich and poor. But whenever the Republicans talk about poor, then they start talking about welfare and single mothers. They always associate single mothers with black women and welfare. I was a single mother for a long time before I married. I never took welfare in my life.”

Shelly Roehrs, chair of the Spartanburg County Democratic Party, said, “The Republicans are blind. They don’t see any disparity between rich and poor. White voters vote based on their religion and out of fear. They can barely afford the rent, but they vote Republican because whenever poverty is mentioned, the very first thing that comes up is that black people are milking the welfare system.”

Many African Americans in South Carolina voted Republican until the 1960s because the Democratic party held power and strongly supported segregation.  In the early 1960s, leading segregationists such as Senator Strom Thurmond, protested civil rights legislation by changing to the Republican party in protest at national civil rights legislation. The Republicans have kept the anti-civil rights policy for the past half century.

The civil war memorial in Greenville, next to the sprawling cemetery with a separate section for black people, is marked with an inscription observing that history will prove the Confederate slave states to have been “in the right.” The statehouse still flies the Confederate flag.

The more the Republicans talk, the more minority votes they lose—perhaps enough to guarantee their losing the election in 2012 if the country doesn’t lose 5 million voters because of Republican laws restricting voting.

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