Hope your weekend was great!
It’s been a depressing and sad few days as we continue to watch the world’s fundamentalist religions–based in so much Iron Age Mythology–continue to assert the need to control and dominate women. Saudi Arabia has sentenced a maid to death by stoning for adultery while giving the man a few symbolic lashes. Here in the US, Republican candidates for the US presidency appease a similarly addicted religious minority by skirting the real issues surrounding the shooting at Colorado’s Planned Parenthood. What we are seeing is the same poison fruit from the same poison tree.
There are so many mass shootings in this country—in a school or a church, a movie theatre or a mall—and so little is expected of American politicians in regard to them that, in the two days since Robert Dear began firing his gun at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the Republican Presidential contenders have largely been able to hide from the tragedy. At midday on Friday, Dear initiated a gun battle that lasted five hours and took the lives of three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine others. Dear’s motives, and his mental state, are not yet fully known. But, of all the places he could have walked into, he chose a Planned Parenthood clinic, and, of all the fragments of deranged rhetoric he could have repeated, he chose, according to the Times and other press reports, to say something about “no more baby parts.” This is a reference to the false charge that Planned Parenthood has illegally trafficked in the sale of fetal organs—and that is the mildest way of framing the allegations that anyone listening to a Republican debate or rally would likely have heard. The loudness of the slurs against the organization is in telling contrast to the cautious silence that descended when it became a target of gun violence.
I remember my work in high school and university on modernizing state laws so that crimes against women and children were moved from the areas of property crimes to crimes against people. I was appalled to find that state law required three witnesses to a rape as evidence a crime had happened. I worked at a nascent rape and domestic violence crisis center back in the early 70s that was started by the Junior League and still continues as a major operation at the local YWCA.
I also remember a panel discussion at my Presbyterian church when SCOTUS was deciding Roe v. Wade. It was my first experience seeing so many ignorant and angry people expressing the need to control other people’s bodies and lives. I thought that the progress we had made would continue. Then, came the 1980s and a backlash from the pews of what my family used to refer to as “holy rollers”.
I have two grown daughters now and I never thought that they’d face so many of the same issues that I faced at their age. When they were very young, I saw those same angry, ignorant faces of my youth beginning to coordinate and organize to target women. We’ve gone so far back since the early 1980’s and we’ve endured so much harassment from radical religionists that it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe we live in a developed country. But, here in many parts of the United States, folks take Iron Age Mythology as seriously as they do in the hills and tribes of Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Women and children have always been at the forefront of the suffering inflicted by the hyperreligious. Vigilance and action is required continually and today like never before.
We are going backwards.
We are losing many battles in a war fought to take away women’s rights and autonomy. I spent some time reading this MoJo article on the last few years of Republican control of many local legislatures. Again, I cannot believe my daughters face challenges that no modern, civilized nation should create.
This is what 2015 looks like: Abortion providers struggle against overwhelming odds to stay open, while women “turn themselves into pretzels” to get to them, as one researcher put it. Activists have been calling it the “war on women.” But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.
Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money. Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions. But while reporting this story, I learned of women who drove from Kentucky to New Jersey, or flew from Texas to Washington, DC, because it was the only way they could have the procedure. Even where laws can’t quite make it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open—they are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week—they can make it exhausting to operate one. In every corner of America, four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one—possibly for good.
“Every day is just frightening,” Chelian said. “I think things are bad, and then they get worse somewhere else. And you go, ‘Oh my God, it could be worse.’ And I go to sleep with that. I wake up with that.”
Ever since Texas passed HB2 in 2013, the omnibus abortion law at the heart of a pivotal case the Supreme Court will review early next year, more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics have been forced to close. As these closures have mounted, advocates in the state have worried that the decline in abortion access could lead to a rise in the number of women trying to terminate pregnancies by themselves.
A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising in Texas as a result of the state’s additional restrictions on abortion care. The report points to previous studies that have explored the correlation between a rise in abortion restrictions and the prevalence of self-induced abortions. A 2008 national study found that about 2 percent of women reported that they tried to terminate pregnancies on their own. In 2012, a year after Texas passed several new abortion restrictions, a study of Texas women seeking care at an abortion clinic found that about 7 percent reported attempting to end their pregnancies without medical assistance before seeking clinic care.
“This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, in a press call Tuesday morning.
None of us that have been active in the women’s right movement for decades were surprised at the most recent attack and murders at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. We anticipated it happening some where and we are not surprised by the deflection of the enablers of violence against women and those who help women. There has been a long, well-funded and organized racket supported by media outlets and capitalized on by the Republican party to reinstate witch hunts and burnings. We also know this is not about life. It’s about controlling women. Amanda Marcotte–writing for Salon–explains this well.
Victim-blaming and avoiding responsibility was the norm on the right, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger going on CNN while Dear was still holding the clinic hostage and ranting about “these barbaric videos,” in reference to the hoax videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of “selling” fetal tissue that were released over the summer and that all Republicans are apparently duty-bound to pretend are somehow meaningful despite being thoroughly debunked. He also pushed the idea that there’s a chance that Dear’s choice of a target is random and not rooted in anti-choice ideology.
Since then, of course, conservatives’ slim hope that Dear was somehow just a random psycho instead of an anti-choice nut has grown slimmer. Sources spoke about the “baby parts” line and that Dear mentioned Obama in his statements to police.
Ever since the Paris attacks, we’ve been hearing from the right how there is no excuse for religious fundamentalists using violence to terrorize people for the making life choices the fundamentalists don’t approve of. I do wish they would take their own advice on this front.
This whole display is especially bizarre when you consider that there is nothing new about anti-choice terrorism, which has taken the lives of eight clinic workers prior to this attack. That this would happen was entirely predictable. Since the release of those hoax videos, there’s been a rash of arsons and bombings of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, a story which has received a surprisingly small amount of media coverage.
In other words, this is what everyone in pro-choice circles has been dreading would happen any day now. As recently as October 29, an abortion provider in Washington, D.C., penned an op-ed in the Washington Post about how her life is being rather unsubtly threatened by anti-choicers who put her picture and address online. You know, for “information.” Answers about who would need that, except someone who was intending to harm her, are not offered.
Anti-choice demagoguery is fruitful politics for the right. There’s a lot of fear out there about women’s changing social roles and increasing independence, coupled with a ton of resentment over other people’s sex lives. The anti-choice movement has created a perfect cover story—it’s about “life” and “babies”!—that allows conservatives to indulge these ugly urges while pretending to have noble intentions.
This combination has been so successful at inciting the masses, raising money, and turning out the vote that the anti-choice movement has become increasingly bold in recent years, expanding the legal attacks beyond abortion and looking for ways to undermine access to contraception as well. The increased outrage at Planned Parenthood in recent months, while ostensibly about abortion, is in actuality a lot more about contraception. None of the money that Republicans are cutting from Planned Parenthood is for abortion, but for contraception and STI prevention and treatment. Or even prenatal care, in some cases.
You cannot relentlessly stoke people’s sexual resentments, day in and day out, while calling it “moral” without some of those people (mostly men) tipping over into outright violence. Anti-choice extremism is a logical home for angry, bitter men who want to blame women and women’s sexuality for their own personal failings and frustrations. And there are a lot of angry men out there, furious at women for not being what they want us to be, using “baby killer” as a cover for resentments that have nothing to do with actual babies.
There’s so much evidence and history that’s it’s very hard to deny that this is a well orchestrated and well funded movement. We have only to go back and remind ourselves of the murder of the late Dr. Tiller and the words of Bill O’Reilly to see how the right lights the fires of fanaticism and violence.
O’Reilly said that liberal groups were targeting him unfairly.
“Even though I reported on the doctor honestly, the loons asserted that my analysis of him was ‘hateful,'” O’Reilly wrote. “Chief of among the complaints was the doctor’s nickname, ‘Tiller the baby killer.’ Some prolifers branded him with that, and I reported it. So did hundreds of other news sources.”
O’Reilly went on to criticize media outlets for glorifying Tiller in order to silence those who oppose abortion, especially late-term abortion.
We wanted to see what O’Reilly had said about Tiller, to see if O’Reilly was indeed being criticized for his reporting on other groups’ characterization of Tiller as he said.
We searched transcripts of The O’Reilly Factor , his show that appears on the Fox News Channel.
We found at least 42 instances of O’Reilly mentioning Tiller by name, going back to 2005. In 24 instances, we found that O’Reilly referred to Tiller specifically as a “baby killer.”
Most of the time, O’Reilly would simply refer to the Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” or as “Dr. George Tiller, known as Tiller the baby killer” without attributing it to anyone. We found four times when O’Reilly said that “some” called him Tiller the baby killer. We did not find any instance where O’Reilly named an individual or a particular antiabortion group that referred to Tiller that way.
Here is how O’Reilly has discussed Tiller in 2009, prior to Tiller’s death:
• May 15: O’Reilly discussed President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame University, saying he was troubled that a Catholic school would allow Obama to speak. “Barack Obama throughout his political career has enabled abortion. There’s no doubt that he has. All right? He has recently appointed Gov. (Kathleen) Sebelius to (Secretary of) Health and Human Services. Gov. Sebelius is the most proabortion governor in the United States. Based upon Dr. Tiller, the baby killer in her state and all of that, all right.”
• May 11: O’Reilly wondered whom Obama would nominate to the Supreme Court, saying that he thought Obama was “callous” when it came to abortion. “I mean, the guy puts Sebelius in as the health — you can’t get a more fanatically — and that woman is proabortion,” O’Reilly said. “She wants the babies done for. She supported Tiller the Baby Killer out there. So, enough with her.”
• April 27: O’Reilly discussed Sebelius’ nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services. O’Reilly said that Sebelius “recently vetoed a bill that placed restrictions on late-term abortions in Kansas. The bill was introduced because of the notorious Tiller the Baby Killer case, where Dr. George Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000. There’s no question Ms. Sebelius is one of the most proabortion politicians in America.”
• March 27: Tiller was charged with misdemeanor offenses for violating Kansas law on late-term abortions. Tiller was acquitted. O’Reilly said, “Now, we have bad news to report that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I didn’t sit on the jury. But this, there’s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.”
• March 26: O’Reilly talked about the ongoing trial: “Another revolting situation is Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, known as Tiller the Baby Killer, who’s on trial for killing babies who are about to be born, late-term abortions.” O’Reilly also said, “If you want to kill a baby, you hire Tiller, you’ve got to pay him 5,000 up front, and he’ll kill the baby. … You should know, his best friend is the governor of Kansas, Sebelius. … She has taken specific steps to carve out the law so that it will protect Tiller the baby killer.”
• March 17: Still on the Tiller trial, O’Reilly said, “You know this George Tiller, called Tiller the baby killer, is charged with 19 misdemeanors. And what this guy does, and we have proven it beyond a reasonable doubt, Kelly, is that he kills babies in late term. He aborts them in late term. They’re no longer fetuses. They’re viable babies. He aborts them for any and all reasons if you pay him $5,000.”
• March 2: O’Reilly said Sebelius took “campaign money from George Tiller, known as Tiller, the baby killer. He’s currently charged with a variety of crimes centering on his abortion practice. He aborts babies at any time for just about any reason if you pay him $5,000.”
• Jan. 26: O’Reilly discussed an executive order Obama signed allowing federal money to go to international family planning groups that provide abortions. O’Reilly complained that Obama quietly signed the order rather than publicizing it. “I wanted George Tiller the baby killer going, ‘Yeah, can I make more money killing babies now,'” O’Reilly said.
That’s just from 2009. There were many other examples in previous years.
There is so much history between the inflammatory and false propaganda from radical christianists that we actually have a term for it. This is an example of “stochastic terrorism”. Republicans and radical christianists systematically incite violence against women and organizations designed to give them rights.
Republican members of the Religious Right incited violence as predictably as if they had issued a call for Christian abortion foes to take up arms. Inciting violence this way is called stochastic terrorism:
“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”
In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame. He—I use the male pronoun deliberately because the triggerman is almost always male—may go to jail or even be killed during his act of violence. Meanwhile, the person or persons who have triggered the triggerman, in other words, the actual stochastic terrorists, often go free, protected by plausible deniability. The formula is perversely brilliant:
- A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
- With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
- Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
- When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”
Stochastic terrorism is not a fringe concept. It is a terrorist modality that has been described at length by analysts. It produces terrorism patterns that should be known to any member of Congress or any presidential candidate who has ever thought deeply about national or domestic security issues, which one might hope, is all of them.
We can be confident that communications teams for Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and others are scrambling at this very moment to figure out the nuances of plausible deniability—weighing how best to distance themselves from the violence that killed a police officer and two others without making their protestations of surprised dismay sound as hollow as they actually are—without actually denouncing the disgust and dehumanization of women who have abortions and those who provide them.
The FBI warned about the uptick in terrorist threats against Women’s Health Clinics and specifically Planned Parenthood months ago. There have been firebombings and other acts of vandalism. It was only a matter of time before that video and the rhetoric of the Republican Presidential candidates turned into direct violence against people.
For several months now, law enforcement has been concerned about people targeting reproductive health facilities — specifically Planned Parenthood locations across the country.
As CBS News first reported in September, an FBI intelligence bulletin went out to law enforcement agencies nationwide with that warning. It came asCongress was debating Planned Parenthood funding and on the heels of the release of a series of videos by Center for Medical Progress that purported to show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue from abortions.
The intelligence bulletin warned of “lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement.”
At that time there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia.
In one incident in August, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard’s car and set the vehicle on fire. According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility, also causing a fire.
The public faces of these fanatics are quick to pray the one day they aren’t harassing women at clinics. You can read JJ’s and BB’s last post over the weekend for many examples of the reaction of the right to the attack on the clinic and the murder of three people. All you have to do is volunteer to be a clinic escort or watch the antics of “protestors” to see the roots of the violence and know that it’s not about life or love.
I was the first appointment that day and noticed a few men, all in their 50s or 60s, milling around the parking lot when we pulled in. Once we got out of the car, one made a beeline for us with a fistful of pamphlets. My aunt said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and he got irate, screaming, “How can you do this? You’re killing your baby to continue on your whore lifestyle, you jezebel!’ Suddenly we were surrounded by five other men — that’s when the baby-doll parts starting hitting us.
They had a box filled with torn apart baby dolls covered with red paint. All three of us were hit — in the head, chest, torso. As they were pelting us, they yelled, “This is what you’re doing to your baby! Look at the street! It’s strewn with the blood of your baby. That’s your baby scattered across the street!” It was surreal and terrifying at once. And we still had to cross a wide street to enter the clinic. Then they shouted at my aunt, “Grandma, why are you letting her do this? Tell her to give her baby up for adoption!” My aunt responded, “First of all, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. Second, come talk to me when you have a uterus and a vagina.”
It’s a systemic attack on women’s autonomy. We know that it’s nationwide, well-funded, well-organized and it’s basically a syndicate like organized crimes. We know this because many of the law suits against these people involve Civil RICCO.
I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get the majority of this country to realize that we have a huge issue with homegrown white male, christianist terrorism. We can’t get sensible gun regulation because of the NRA syndicate. We also see systemic demonization of Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood. One of the major political parties and its small but vocal and voting minority are the problem.
What’s on your voting and blogging list today?
Good Morning and
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Hope everyone enjoys their day, I am also hopeful that today we see justice prevail. A verdict is expected in the Steubenville Rape Trial . We will let you know if and when the verdict does come down…
I will start this post off with some political news, CPAC is over, the conservative party has tried to rebrand their image…they sure haven’t changed one bit. Not that I expected anything different, but the conservative nut cases definitely made some people feel unwelcome to the party.
Another graphic example of the right wing’s “minority outreach:” CPAC: Black Man Tossed Out After Breitbart Hack Screams at Him ‘Race Doesn’t Matter’.
In this video from CPAC, a black man seems like he sincerely interested in helping find a way for conservatives to appeal to other African Americans, but then he suddenly gets screamed on by a white guy who insists that “race doesn’t matter.” Which in short, summarizes why the Republicans continually lose the vote of any group that doesn’t have white skin.
And the whole scene was caught on tape:
And if you think this was the only disgusting racist outburst at CPAC you would be mistaken…When The GOP Told Whitey I Aint Gonna Take It No More
Yesterday, a CPAC breakout session on reaching out to black voters broke down in shouting and acrimony as a handful of ‘disenfranchised whites’ attacked the premise of the session (along with black complaints about slaveholders), got into a verbal fight with a black female attendee and with all that managed to unite the crowd against the black woman as the one who somehow spoiled all the fun.
TPM’s Benjy Sarlin was there right as it was all happening and wrote this eye-popping account in more or less real time.
the bigger thing coming out of this raucous event isn’t what the one or two people said — though that was probably enough to be the takeaway for many for the entire conference — as the fact that the whole imbroglio ended with denunciations of the black woman who was the one person to go into freak out mode — pretty understandably — on hearing the merits of chattel slavery being argued in the 21st century at a panel on racial tolerance and outreach.
From the Benjy Sarlin link…Tea Party Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Arrive
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.
The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.
“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Heh…heh, sorry for the laugh, but what the hell would you expect with a discussion entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.
“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.
At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. Organizers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”
I have to quote a bit more of this TPM post because it is just too fantastic…
Brown, who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.
“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.
“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.
Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.
Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown.
Chad Chapman, 21, one of the few black attendees, said overall he enjoyed the event — except “there were lots of interruptions, mainly because of the woman.”
I asked whether he was concerned about the question from Terry and Heimbach.
“No they were just telling the truth,” he said. You mean you agree blacks are systematically disenfranchising whites, I asked?
“I listen to anybody’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
A media scrum formed around Terry immediately after the close of the event. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.
She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.
“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”
Alright, just go to the link and read the rest…including a statement from K. Carl Smith, the man who led the session…wow.
Ralph Nader is the author of this next link: Walmart Bosses and the Minimum Wage
Last weekend on a bright, sunny day a dozen of us demonstrated at shopping malls where Walmart has three of its giant stores, supplied heavily by products from China and other serf-wage countries. But outsourcing the jobs of its American suppliers to China was not the focus last Saturday. We were drawing attention to the plight of one million Walmart workers who are making far less than what Walmart workers made in 1968 when the minimum wage was the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $10.50 an hour today.
In 1968 Walmart was run by its founder, the legendary Sam Walton, who started with one store in Bentonville, Arkansas. Sam had to pay his workers wages that were worth much more than wages today because the law required him to do so.
The clenched-jawed CEO opposition to catching the minimum wage up with 1968 for their workers continues to manifest itself today. CEOs seem to have little concern for the budget-squeezed daily lives of their employees.
These days, however, Walmart is feeling some heat with the rising demand for increasing the stagnant federal minimum wage finally coming from Washington, backed by over 70 percent of the people in polls. A Walmart rival, the successful Costco, has a CEO who already endorsed a federal minimum wage over $10.00 an hour. Costco starts its entry-level workers at $11.50 per hour plus benefits that Walmart workers do not receive. As blogger Alan DiCara said, “Walmart’s benefits department is the U.S. taxpayer.”
Yup, and read the rest of Nader’s post. I’d comment more on the sad situation with Walmart employees….but you all are well aware of the difficulties that come with working for minimum wage.
One thing I find funny is this latest image of the new pope…or should I say…the poor man’s pope.
Hey, look at that…no designer ruby slippers for Pope Francis. You can read Andrew Sullivan’s take on the new pope here.
Meanwhile, here in the states…North Dakota Passes Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks of Pregnancy
The North Dakota legislature approved the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States on Friday, cutting off abortion access as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill, HB 1456, makes it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus—something that can happen as little as six weeks after conception. It passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 17, and will now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
North Dakota lawmakers have been considering a variety of anti-abortion bills. While this wasn’t their most extreme option—another bill would have outlawed all abortions, period—it does mean that North Dakota now has the most restrictive abortion law in the country. This comes just over a week after Arkansas claimed the crown for most restrictive abortion laws, passing a twelve-week ban.
This new law will more than likely be challenged in court, but damn…six weeks? That is ridiculous.
Now for some real interesting stories…in link dump fashion.
Polish archaeologists have identified the remains of three grand masters of the Teutonic Knights, a medieval religious and military order that ruled much of the Baltic coast in the late Middle Ages.
Take a look at this post and you may find something new to read…New Books on the Middle Ages: March | Medieval News
There is a beautiful gallery here about Science as art: Photography competition brings the two disciplines together
Albert Einstein’s claim that “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” is illustrated by some of the contenders for a photography competition at Cambridge University on Tuesday.
And since it is St. Patrick’s Day, we will end with something green…Globe glows green: It’s St Patrick’s Day fever
Sláinte is the traditional greeting today, and the normal toast is made with a pint of a certain black stout. More extreme fans of St Patrick’s Day – as found among those of Irish descent in the US – will be dressing in as much green as they can lay their hands on, painting their faces and even dyeing their hair.
This year, in celebration of the Celtic saint’s day, more than 40 international landmarks are being lit in green. From the pyramids and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to the Sydney Opera House and South Africa’s Table Mountain: some of the most recognised man-made and geographical attractions will join a host of British landmarks to “go green”.
Be sure to check out those go green images at the link.
So what are you doing today? Share your thoughts with us…
Early this morning something strange happened to me, it may have been a seizure, but I’m not sure. I went to the doctor and she is sending me to a neurologist but I have to tell you this…at the doctor’s office they had me get on a scale.
Damn…I ain’t too sure about the seizure but I am damn sure I had a heart attack when I read what my weight was on the scale. (Actually, I really do think I had a seizure, guess we will find out for sure next month.)
Anyway, because of my brain crapping out on me today, I will just put up some links for you.
Be sure to read them and please post what you want in the comments.
This is an open thread.
I really don’t intend this to be a post about Republican crazy but we’re going to start out with that subject. Let’s hope this post morphs into something else by the time I’m done.
Apparently it took a female Republican to come up with the most vicious way to punish women who had the audacity to get themselves raped.
Wednesday, state representative Cathrynn Brown of New Mexico introduced a bill whose sheer audacity makes Todd Akins look as harmless as an ill-informed teenager groping his way through puberty.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 206, would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after being raped because the fetus is evidence of the crime. A women who does choose to have an abortion would be charged with the third-degree felony of “tampering with evidence,” which carries up to a three year prison sentence in New Mexico.
As the bill states:
“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.
In other words, Brown just said to rape victims: give birth to this baby or you’ll go to jail.
Crazy Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the “GOP is a populist party’ and is the party of the middle class. Whoa, something in that exorcism must be causing him to have some kind of flash back. Here’s Tiger Beat on the Potomac:
“We must quit ‘big,’” he said. “We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys … We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class.”
He called repeatedly for a reorienting of the party’s focus from the Beltway to state capitols.
“We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington,” he said. “If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states. If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all. We believe solving problems closer to home should always be our first, not last, option.”
Well, he did explain one of the ways he’s made everything worse down here along with that call out to states being able to do what ever they want which sounds remarkably like returning reinstating Jim Crow and expanding Jane Crow.
The Louisiana governor suggested “re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington” in a speech to members of the Republican National Committee gathered here.
“If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper – we would have about one fourth of the buildings we have in Washington and about half of the government workers,” he said, according to a copy of the speech obtained in advance by POLITICO. “We would replace most of its bureaucracy with a handful of good websites.”
I’ve been caught in one of his website hells as well as the result of his passion for getting rid of every service that a government more efficiently provides. Things have been replaced by endless phone trees and decidedly unhelpful websites. It ain’t pretty or compassionate. It’s more like being thrown into Somalia.
So, here’s a good time to talk about some interesting facts about Dung Beetles. This is from the National Geographic which should send out a crew to figure out if there’s any sign of intelligent life in Republican held state houses through out the country. Dung Beetles evidently have a keener sense of the right way to go than Republicans as they navigate via the Milky Way.
“This is a complicated navigational feat—it’s quite impressive for an animal that size,” said study co-author Eric Warrant, a biologist at the University of Lund in Sweden.
Speaking of moving balls of dung around, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has wimped out on Filibuster reform.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have come to a deal on filibuster reform. The deal is this: The filibuster will not be reformed. But the way the Senate moves to consider new legislation and most nominees will be. Here’s an explanation from Beltway Bob errrr Ezra Klein.
What will be reformed is how the Senate moves to consider new legislation, the process by which all nominees — except Cabinet-level appointments and Supreme Court nominations — are considered, and the number of times the filibuster can be used against a conference report. You can read the full text of the compromise, which was sent out to Senate offices this morning, here (pdf).
But even those reforms don’t go as far as they might. Take the changes to the motion to proceed, by which the Senate moves to consider a new bill. Reid seemed genuinely outraged over the way the process has bogged down in recent years.
“What the Republicans have done is turn the motion to proceed on its head,” he argued. “It was originally set up to allow somebody to take a look at a piece of legislation. What the Republicans have done is they simply don’t allow me to get on the bill. I want to go to it on a Monday, they make me file cloture, that takes till Tuesday. Then it takes two days for the cloture vote to ‘ripen,’ so now it’s Thursday, and even if I get 60 votes, they still have 30 hours to twiddle their thumbs, pick their nose, do whatever they want. So, I’m not on the bill by the weekend, and in reality, that means next Monday or Tuesday.”
But the deal Reid struck with McConnell doesn’t end the filibuster against the motion to proceed. Rather, it creates two new pathways for moving to a new bill. In one, the majority leader can, with the agreement of the minority leader and seven senators from each party, sidestep the filibuster when moving to a new bill. In the other, the majority leader can short-circuit the filibuster against moving to a new bill so long as he allows the minority party to offer two germane amendments. Note that in all cases, the minority can still filibuster the bill itself.
Mary Jo White has been appointed to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President Barack Obama.
Currently the head of litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton, a private law firm, Ms White will add a female voice to Mr Obama’s second-term team, which is so far dominated by men. More importantly, the former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York has experience policing Wall Street, which fell under her jurisdiction. Mr Obama has slammed bankers for their role in the financial crisis and ensuing recession. The choice of Ms White seems to signal his resolve in getting tough with the banks.The appointment is not without controversy. Ms White has benefited from the revolving door between public service and private practice. In the aftermath of the crisis, financial firms sought the assistance of former regulators with strong ties to the government. In a scathing article on Bloomberg‘s website, Jonathan Weil notes that Ms White participated in the defence of many people and institutions at the heart of the financial collapse. In October 2008 she was cited in a critical report by the SEC’s inspector general for receiving “relevant information” that was not publicly available. Some will ask whether she is truly a poacher turned gamekeeper or simply setting herself up for another lucrative turn through the revolving door.Mr Obama, for one, is convinced he is getting the “tough-as-nails prosecutor”. By putting Ms White at the SEC, he has suggested that the agency’s priority is enforcement. But a bigger challenge may come from the sprawling Dodd-Frank legislation, and its many gaps and contradictions. Much of the next chairman’s time should be devoted to rethinking how America’s capital markets are structured, and deciding how that vision will be translated into the numerous rules the SEC is required to write under Dodd-Frank’s sloppy mandates. Ms White, in other words, has a big job ahead of her.
Well, today’s post sorta took an interesting turn didn’t it? It went from crazy Republicans to wimpy Democrats with one little mention of the only smart and honest shit pusher in between. Well, at least the pictures are fun to look at.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
We’ve already seen many many ways that states are trying to restrict constitutionally-granted rights like voting. Many states are trying to restrict the rights of women and the GLBT community. Access to abortion rights suffered severe blows under any state suffering from Republican Majority Rule. A recent report showed that 39 states enacted restrictions on a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.
Here are some examples of the kinds of assaults that women have had to endure as Republican majorities try to force them further into second class citizenship.
– Waiting periods: So far this year, states have considered requiring counseling and extending waiting periods for women seeking an abortion. In April, Utah enacted the most extreme waiting period law by requiring women to wait a full 72 hours between obtaining counseling and having the procedure. Twenty-five other states have waiting period laws that generally require the woman to wait 24 hours.
– Fetal heartbeat: Oklahoma and Louisiana adopted measures that attempt to use the fetal heartbeat to dissuade women from seeking an abortion. The Oklahoma law requires health providers to offer women the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat if they are after eight weeks’ postfertilization. In Louisiana, health providers must make the heartbeat audible, often necessitating a transvaginal ultrasound.
– Mental health: Arizona and South Dakota passed laws requiring counseling on the unsubstantiated negative mental health consequences of abortion. Nine states now require the counseling. The myth that there is a causal link between abortion and mental health issues has been largely debunked by mental health professionals.
– Public pressure helps: Only 30 percent of abortion restrictions passed by one chamber have actually been enacted so far this year, a significantly lower rate than the proportion signed into law at this point in 2011. Public pushback against the transvaginal ultrasound law in Virginia likely squashed momentum for similar provisions in Alabama, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. In addition, last November’s defeat of the Mississippi personhood amendment probably helped thwart efforts for similar laws elsewhere in the country.
This really does look like a war on Women and their health. It will take years to unravel the damage that Bobby Jindal has done in Louisiana in just a few short years.
A year ago, 2011 was record-breaking in terms of attacks on reproductive health. While this year is set to have fewer restrictions on the books, 2012′s figures are still higher than any year prior to 2011. As was the case last year, issues related to abortion and family planning funding were lightning rod issues in a few state legislatures. In fact, 14 of the new restrictions have been enacted in just three states — Arizona, Louisiana, and South Dakota — three of the most hostile to reproductive health.
No wonder my Ob/gyn daughter is trying to move to the safety of a blue state where the state government doesn’t try to influence what she can and cannot do as a doctor. Here’s the 19 worst states to live for women who would prefer the states stay out of their VAGINAS!
On January 26, I wrote a post about an excerpt from the biography The Real Romney that had just been published by Vanity Fair. The Vanity Fair article detailed Romney’s cruel treatment of women when he was a Bishop and later Stake President in Boston’s Mormon community.
In doing a little further research on one of those women, Judith Dushku, and came across an earler interview with Dushku in which she recounted a conversation with Romney in which he told her he had been given permission by his church leaders to lie about his views on abortion and LGBT rights. A few years before, Romney had cut Dushku out of his life because she supported a women who had to choose between having an abortion and losing her own life. Here’s the relevant excerpt from my post:
A few years after the friendship ended, Romney ran for the Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy. Dushku was very surprised to learn that Romney was running as a pro-choice candidate. Dushku:
I was pleased and called, asking to see him. I told him I suspected that we had our differences, but that maybe I could work with him if he’d come to a really good position on women and childbirth.
And he said – Yes, come to my office.
I went to his office and I congratulated him on taking a pro-choice position. And his response was – Well they told me in Salt Lake City I could take this position, and in fact I probably had to in order to win in a liberal state like Massachusetts.
Suzan Mazur: Who’s “THEY”?
Judy Dushku: I asked him the same question. And he said “the Brethren” in Salt Lake City.
In other words, Romney was consulting with his church elders before deciding his positions on the issues, and they told him to lie!
Last night The Daily Beast published a post by famed investigative reporter Wayne Barrett that adds weight to Dushku’s testimony. Barrett begins by discussing portions of another Romney biography, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and his Politics, by R.B. Scott, a former reporter for Time and a “distant cousin” of Mitt Romney’s, as well as an adviser to Romney early on. In the book, Scott writes about
numerous trips Romney has taken to the mountaintop to square his positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights with church hierarchy….[and] he describes how Romney came away from these Salt Lake treks bolstered by a flexible understanding he reached with the brass: He was able to moderate his views during his runs for Senate and the governorship in liberal Massachusetts, yet he could still find his way back to doctrinal purity once in the governor’s mansion and safely on to his way to the White House….
Scott says that 1993 trip “established a pattern” that Romney “would follow in years to come when deliberating about whether to run for Massachusetts governor in 2002, and, especially, before announcing his candidacy for president in 2007.”
In the spring and early summer of 2005, while Romney was still Massachusetts governor and preparing to set up his first presidential PACs, he visited Salt Lake so often that one senior church official said he “basically camped out” at church headquarters, according to Scott. Gordon Hinckley, the president and prophet with decades of ties to the Romney family (he and Mitt’s father, George, went to high school together), reportedly found the frequency and “dithering,” as Scott put it, “a little tiresome.”
During the Republican primaries this year, there was much discussion about Jack Kennedy’s famous speech to Southern Baptist ministers in Dallas in 1960. Kennedy was forced by constant questioning to pledge his independence from the Roman Catholic Church–even though Kennedy never traveled to Rome to seek guidance on political issues and was never a member of his church’s hierarchy as Romney was for many years.
Why is Romney being given a pass on his lack of independence from Mormon church leaders? Why do you suppose these church leaders gave Romney dispensation to hide his “severely conservative” views from voters until he had taken office as Governor of Massachusetts? Here is Scott’s answer, as reported by Barrett (emphasis added):
In 1993, Romney went to Salt Lake with a Mormon pollster and poll results showing that he couldn’t win in Massachusetts without moderating his positions on those sorts of issues. “They realized it would serve no purpose to quibble—the greater good was to get him elected and give him a shot at realizing the victory his father booted 40 years earlier,” Scott writes. “Did they see him as a future presidential candidate? Did he? Do the statues of Angel Moroni atop every Mormon temple always face east?”
In other words, Scott is contending that the church in effect licensed Romney’s better-than-Kennedy promises on gay rights, as well as his pink flyers at the Gay Pride Parade in 2002 that beckoned: “All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”
I won’t belabor the White Horse Prophecy myth again, but it certainly appears that Mormon church leaders very much want a man in the White House who will follow their “advice.”
More news on the assault on the rights of US women and a case that may put Roe v. Wade back on the SCOTUS Docket. We’ve written of this one before; however, Newsweek has some extra analysis. Jennie McCormick was arrested for using RU-486 to terminate a pregnancy in her home state of Idaho. She got the pills from her sister and was reported to police by a friend. So, what exactly is her crime? Her pregnancy was a few weeks farther along than the one trimester.
McCormack, who thought she was about 12 weeks along, took the pills (the protocol involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol) the afternoon they arrived. The drugs are FDA-approved only for ending early-stage pregnancies; McCormack had no complications, but the pregnancy turned out to be more advanced than she thought—perhaps between 18 and 21 weeks, experts later speculated—and the size of the fetus scared her. She didn’t know what to do—“I was paralyzed,” she says—so she put it in a box on her porch, and, terrified, called a friend. That friend then called his sister, who reported McCormack to the police.
Although RU-486 is legal and the fetus was not yet “viable” (that is, old enough to live outside the uterus), Idaho has a 1972 law—never before enforced—making it a crime punishable by five years in prison for a woman to induce her own abortion. The day after police arrested McCormack, her mug shot appeared above the fold in the local newspaper. “It’s hard to imagine the humiliation and fear,” says her lawyer, Richard Hearn, who is also a physician.
The case was dropped weeks later due to lack of evidence. Without solid proof, such as the envelope in which the pills came, her confession wasn’t enough to sustain the case. But prosecutors retained the right to re-file charges. In response, Hearn got a federal injunction to prevent any woman from being prosecuted under the state’s anti-abortion statute by the district attorney. He also filed a class-action suit against the state, claiming the statute is unconstitutional. But all that took nine months to play out, and McCormack lurched into depression and became a virtual shut-in.
“You’d have to know the climate here,” says Hearn, “to fully imagine the amount of pressure Jennie is under, how hostile people can be, how isolated she is.” Next week, motions will be heard in federal court to certify the suit as a class action. Last week, the prosecutor filed a motion to have Hearn’s injunction lifted.
This is basically the new frontier of the back alley abortion. Approximately 20 percent of abortions now involve pills abortion drugs. They are 95% effective and many can be mail ordered over the internet. Restrictions on abortion providers and funding all over the country may increase the necessity of using abortion drugs. This could be a central case in the fight for women’s reproductive rights and our constitutional rights.
Last night North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died. His third son will replace him. Frontline has an interesting series of programs on Kim that you may want to watch.
Speaking of Tin Pot dictators, John Boehner and his house republicans have blocked the payroll tax cuts. Only tax cuts for billionaires seem to be acceptable to the minions of Grover Norquist.
In an interview on “Meet The Press” on NBC, John A. Boehner, the House speaker, said his members broadly opposed the two-month extension that passed the Senate 89 to 10 on Saturday, believing that it would be “just kicking the can down the road.”
“It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences, and extend this for one year,” Mr. Boehner said. “How can you have tax policy for two months?”
The surprising setback threatened the holiday plans of lawmakers and President Obama, deeply embarrassed Republican leaders in both chambers and raised the specter of a year-end tax increase that economists have warned could set back the already fragile economic recovery
The House is to take up the Senate bill — passed in a rare Saturday session — when members return to Capitol Hill on Monday night. House leaders expect the bill to fail and their members to then consider and perhaps vote on an amended version that same night.
Horrifying violence in Egypt extends to women protestors. Two women were photographed being brutally beaten and molested by Egyptian Security forces.
In a video broadcast on the internet, security forces dressed in riot gear are seen chasing a woman and beating her to the ground with metal bars before stripping her and kicking her repeatedly. One soldier stamps his foot hard on her chest.
Other images showed women beaten unconscious.
After being viciously beaten by the ten-strong mob, the woman lies helplessly on the ground as her shirt is ripped from her body and a man kicks her with full force in her exposed chest.
Moments earlier she had been struck countless times in the head and body with metal batons, not content with the brutal beating delivered by his fellow soldier, one man stamped on her head repeatedly.
She feebly tried to shield her head from the relentless blows with her hands.
But she was knocked unconscious in the shameful attack and left lying motionless as the military men mindlessly continued to beat her limp and half-naked body.
Before she was set upon by the guards, three men appeared to carry her as they tried to flee the approaching military.
But they were too slow and the soldiers caught up with them, capturing the women and knocking one of the men to the ground.
I’m just glad we didn’t share our armed drone technology with Mubarak.
For years, I have wondered why, for some people, enough is never enough. For example, what could have possibly motivated Jon Corzine — a respected former senator, governor and Wall Street big shot with hundreds of millions in the bank — to take the top job at MF Global Holdings Ltd (MF) in the first place?
He was 63 years old, six months away from getting remarried. He was one of the few remaining high-profile Wall Street Democrats around, and an avid supporter of President Barack Obama. He was routinely mentioned as a possible successor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, if Obama were to win a second term.
Why couldn’t Corzine just enjoy his fortune, perhaps set up an eponymous foundation to do good works, bide his time and then use his connections to become Treasury secretary? He already had a cushy perch at Princeton University, where he invited any number of finance types to teach his class while he basked in their reflective glory. Life was good. (Disclosure: I once taught the class, although the amount of glory reflected is debatable.)
There’s a fascinating set of articles on the CERN particle collider and the hunt for The Higgs boson particle at The Economist.
The announcement, by Fabiola Gianotti and Guido Tonelli—the heads, respectively, of two experiments at CERN known as ATLAS and CMS—was that both of their machines have seen phenomena which look like traces of the Higgs. They are traces, rather than actual bosons, because no Higgs will ever be seen directly. The best that can be hoped for are patterns of breakdown particles from Higgses that are, themselves, the results of head-on collisions between protons travelling in opposite directions around CERN’s giant accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Heavy objects like Higgs bosons can break down in several different ways, but each of these ways is predictable. Both ATLAS and CMS have seen a number of these predicted patterns often enough to pique interest, but not (yet) often enough to constitute proof that they came from Higgses, rather than being random fluctuations in the background of non-Higgs decays.
The crucial point, and the reason for the excitement, is that both ATLAS and CMS (which are located in different parts of the ring-shaped accelerator tunnel of the LHC) have come up with the same results. Both indicate that, if what they have seen really are Higgses, then the boson has a mass of about 125 giga-electron-volts (GeV), in the esoteric units which are used to measure how heavy subatomic particles are. That coincidence bolsters the suggestion that this is the real thing, rather than a few chance fluctuations.
Bradley Manning begins his 4th day of his preliminary hearing. The third day brought some interesting testimony on the atmosphere surrounding the sort of intelligence Manning saw.
However, the witnesses also said soldiers at the intelligence analysis center Manning worked at in Iraq routinely flouted the Army’s safeguards for classified information by playing music, movies and video games on computers that were part of the military’s secure network for classified information.
Some in the brigade even used a “password-crack program” to break into the administrator account and add software, a civilian computer contractor who handled Manning’s unit, Jason Milliman, testified.
“They thought they had full rights and were able to whatever they wanted to do,” said Milliman, who said he couldn’t stop the unauthorized practices because he had no authority over the soldiers.
Capt. Thomas Cherepko, who was in charge of the computer network at Manning’s base in eastern Iraq, said the presence of unauthorized programs on the classified computers was routine
Asked if the rules were “violated on a daily basis,” Cherepko said: “More or less, yes sir.”
Well, that should start things off today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?