Thursday ReadsPosted: July 14, 2022
I’m feeling kind of blue today. Partly it’s just the inevitable losses that come with my advanced age, and of course I’m sad about what’s happening to our country. In the past 7 years, we were forced to deal with an evil and incompetent man as presidential candidate and then president, and a still-ongoing global pandemic that has killed more than a million Americans. No wonder so many of us are exhausted. I got this in an e-mail from political writer Jared Yates Sexton this morning. He describes our situation better than I ever could.
There are nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. It might be presumptuous, but I’m guessing if you’re reading this you are not counted among them.
The last time I checked, there was one President, one hundred members of the Senate and 435 representatives in the House. Though there are individuals in the White House and Congress who read this newsletter, their ability to effectively pass legislation or break up the intentional logjam at the federal level is somewhat negligible.
Meanwhile, our political and economic systems have been largely corrupted and co-opted by an increasingly wealthy group of power brokers hellbent on growing their wealth and power at any cost, including the destruction of the Earth and total dismantling of liberal democracy. Chances are, considering the math, you are probably not a member of this historically wealthy class of individuals, but if you are, feel free to get a hold of me. I’ve got some ideas should you want to make a difference.
All of it is overwhelming. To watch detestable actions like the overthrow of Roe V. Wade, followed by a yawning lack of response by those charged with protecting us, leaves a person feeling desperate and, over time, isolated and demoralized. The system, after all, is designed with this in mind. The founding of the United States was predicated on neutralizing the power of the masses in favor of rule by a tiny group of wealthy white men. Almost everything that has happened since then has been to either shore up that rule or battle attempts to trouble it.
To be clear, it feels as if the deck is stacked against you because it is. The flow of history is the story of how the powerful have continually protected themselves from situations where the fate of the masses is weighed more heavily than their own self-interest.
This newsletter appears to be a promo for Sexton’s upcoming book, and it doesn’t offer solutions; but it sure does paint a picture of where we are as a country right now. Sexton says, “we are not alone and we are not powerless.” I guess he’ll explain that in the book.
There isn’t that much I can do at my age, but I keep posting on this blog; somehow that gives me a sense of being a small part of the resistance to authoritarianism. At least I’m paying close attention to daily events and what is being written about them. We’ve been posting to this blog for many years now, and we’ve seen people come and go. If you’re still coming here, I’m very grateful for your presence. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with us.
A Ten-Year-Old Pregnant Rape Victim and Clueless Male Journalists
Last week a story broke about a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and impregnated. The Guardian:
The case of a 10-year-old child rape victim in Ohio who was six weeks pregnant, ineligible for an abortion in her own state, and forced to travel to Indiana for the procedure has spotlighted the shocking impact of the US supreme court ruling on abortion.
The story of the girl came to light three days after the court overturned a nationwide right to terminate pregnancy, and Ohio’s six-week “trigger ban” came into effect.
Dr Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, said she had received a call from a colleague doctor in Ohio who treats child abuse victims and asked for help….
Abortion providers like Bernard say they are receiving a sharp increase in the number of patients coming to their clinics for abortion from the neighboring states where such procedures are now restricted or banned.
“It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care,” Bernard told the Columbus Dispatch.
You’d think since the story mentioned a doctor by name, people would accept that the story was legitimate. Bernard even appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word to talk about the case. But Republicans in Ohio claimed the story was fabricated, and that triggered claims that the story was fake on Fox News and social media. Even the Washington Post fact checker got involved.
But yesterday we learned that the perpetrator of the rape has been arrested. CNN: A man was charged in the rape of a 10-year-old who traveled to Indiana for an abortion.
A Columbus man has been charged with raping a 10-year-old Ohio girl who then had to travel to Indiana seeking an abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to court proceedings CNN obtained through affiliate WBNS.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arrested Tuesday, according to Columbus police and court documents. He has been charged with felony rape of a minor under age 13, according to the Franklin County Municipal Court. His first court appearance was Wednesday.
Fuentes is being held on $2 million bond, according to the court. CNN has reached out to his attorney for comment.
Fuentes admitted to authorities he raped the young girl on at least two occasions, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday at Fuentes’ arraignment.
Police first were alerted to the child’s pregnancy in late June through a referral by a local children services department that was made by the 10-year-old’s mother, Huhn testified.
The girl underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis on June 30, the detective testified. DNA from the Indianapolis clinic was being tested against samples from Fuentes and the child’s siblings, Huhn said.
Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was still pretending the story was false last night.
At Neiman Lab, Laura Hazard Owen writes: Unimaginable abortion stories will become more common. Is American journalism ready?
As more states restrict or ban abortion, more girls who are raped will face a choice between crossing state lines for care or having babies while they are still in elementary school.
I wish that this weren’t true. But events this week make it very clear that if you can’t bear to believe it — even if it seems so impossible that it needs a heartily skeptical fact-checking treatment — it is going to happen.
And reporters who want to tell these stories (and the news organizations those reporters work for) may have to abandon some conventional journalism wisdom in order to give the stories the attention they deserve….
The two-byline story — written by Shari Rudavsky and Rachel Fradette — made headlines around the world. But the first reaction of mainly right-leaning news organizations — despite the fact that the doctor who performed the abortion was on the record saying this happened — was to try to debunk it. Why? I mean, in part because it’s horrible and we don’t want to believe a 10-year-old could get raped and pregnant, because 10-year-olds are babies themselves. (By the way, Covid appears to have increased early-onset puberty around the world. Getting your period “early” now means getting it when you’re younger than 8. People for whom a pregnant 10-year-old strains credulity should keep this in mind.)
The debate over the story’s veracity started with a Washington Post “Fact Checker” column. In “A one-source story about a 10-year-old and an abortion goes viral,”
You can read the quotes at Neiman Lab, but lets just say Kessler was extremely skeptical.
“An abortion by a 10-year-old is pretty rare,” Kessler notes. (Oh, that “by.”) “The Columbus Dispatch reported that in 2020, 52 people under the age of 15 received an abortion in Ohio.” Definitions of “rare” may vary, but if 52 under-15-year-olds got abortions in Ohio in 2020, that’s one a week — and it’s just abortions that were reported, during a pandemic when a lot of abortion clinics were closed.
The Post column opened the door to worse takes. “Every day that goes by, the more likely that this is a fabrication. I know the cops and prosecutors in this state. There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock, looking for this guy and they would have charged him,” Ohio attorney general Dave Yost told USA Today’s Ohio Network bureau on Tuesday. Picking up on Kessler’s “single source” criticism, Yost added, “Shame on the Indianapolis paper that ran this thing on a single source who has an obvious axe to grind.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called the episode “An abortion story too good to confirm,” as if there was something particularly juicy and delicious about this one (hint: It’s her age!)
We’re going to be seeing many more horror stories now that the Extreme Court has returned women and girls to second-class citizen status. And no, male journalists will not be ready to deal with the onslaught.
January 6 Committee News
Former President Donald Trump tried to call a member of the White House support staff who was talking to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The support staffer was not someone who routinely communicated with the former President and was concerned about the contact, according to the sources, and informed their attorney.
The call was made after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly to the committee. The White House staffer was in a position to corroborate part of what Hutchinson had said under oath, according to the sources.
CNN was told the position of the witness Trump tried to call, but not the person’s name. Details about the witness Trump tried to contact have not been previously reported.
The initial revelation about Trump’s phone call was made in a dramatic moment at the end of this week’s hearing by committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, revealed that Trump “tried to call” an unnamed witness in the committee’s investigation. She said that witness “declined to answer or respond” to Trump’s call and instead alerted their lawyer. The committee has since supplied that information to the Department of Justice….
Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat who serves on the committee, told CNN on Tuesday that the individual Trump tried to call has been speaking with the panel.
“Trump himself had called someone who has been talking with us,” Aguilar said.
A source familiar with the panel’s investigation added that the committee has spoken to the person Trump tried to call, but not as part of a deposition.
Trump’s crimes just keep on piling up. When will he pay a price? No one outside the DOJ knows.
Donald Ayer, Stuart Gerson, and Dennis Aftergut at The Atlantic: January 6 Was Trump’s Project All Along. And The Department of Justice Has More Than Enough Evidence To Prosecute Him For It.
After seven hearings held by the January 6 committee thus far this summer, doubts as to who is responsible have been resolved. The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome.
The evidence is clearer and more robust than we as former federal prosecutors—two of us as Department of Justice officials in Republican administrations—thought possible before the hearings began. Trump was not just a willing beneficiary of a complex plot in which others played most of the primary roles. While in office, he himself was the principal actor in nearly all of its phases, personally executing key parts of most of its elements and aware of or involved in its worst features, including the use of violence on Capitol Hill. Most remarkably, he did so over vehement objections raised at every turn, even by his sycophantic and loyal handpicked team. This was Trump’s project all along.
Everyone knew before the hearings began that we were dealing with perhaps the gravest imaginable offense against the nation short of secession—a serious nationwide effort pursued at multiple levels to overturn the unambiguous outcome of a national election. We all knew as well that efforts were and are unfolding nationwide to change laws and undermine electoral processes with the specific objective of succeeding at the same project in 2024 and after. But each hearing has sharpened our understanding that Donald Trump himself is the one who made it happen.
As former prosecutors, we recognize the legitimacy of concerns that electoral winners prosecuting their defeated opponents may look like something out of a banana republic rather than the United States of America; that doing so might be viewed as opening the door to prosecutorial retaliation by future presidential winners; and that, in the case of this former president, it might lead to civil unrest.
But given the record now before us, all of these considerations must give way to the urgency of achieving a public reckoning for Donald Trump.
Read the rest of the argument at The Atlantic.
The New York Times: Jan. 6 Panel Will Turn Over Evidence on Fake Electors to the Justice Dept.
The Justice Department has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol for evidence it has accumulated about the scheme by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to put forward false slates of pro-Trump electors in battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020.
Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, disclosed the request to reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and a person familiar with the panel’s work said discussions with the Justice Department about the false elector scheme were ongoing. Those talks suggest that the department is sharpening its focus on that aspect of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, one with a direct line to the former president.
Mr. Thompson said the committee was working with federal prosecutors to allow them to review the transcripts of interviews the panel has done with people who served as so-called alternate electors for Mr. Trump. Mr. Thompson said the Justice Department’s investigation into “fraudulent electors” was the only specific topic the agency had broached with the committee.
A Justice Department official said the agency maintained its position that it was requesting copies of all transcripts of witness interviews.
More details at the NYT.
CNBC reports that the next hearing is scheduled for next Thursday at 8PM. and will focus on “Trump’s hourslong failure to stop the Capitol riot.”
NBC News says there may be more hearings in August: The Jan. 6 committee won’t rule out more hearings this summer.
Have an enjoyable Thursday everyone!!