Monday Reads: Of Droogs, Unwinable Wars, and Civil Rights Protests

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Fifty years ago, Elton John released Tiny Dancer, and Clockwork Orange was playing in theatres. We were fighting what seemed like an endless war run by a lawless President.  It was the year of the Easter Offensive when North Vietnamese forces overran South Vietnamese forces. It was probably the first true evidence of a war the US would not win.

Shirley Chisholm became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed Congress and got 35 of the 38 votes to become a Constitutional Amendment.  In 1972, Native Americans occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The protest came from tribal frustration with the government’s ‘Trail of Broken Treaties.’  It lasted six days.

After the Senate voted passage of a constitutional amendment giving women equal rights, Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., left, met with two supporters and one opponent, Wednesday, March 23, 1972 in the Capitol in Washington. Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C., second from right, one of eight senators who voted against the amendment. Others are Rep. Martha Griffiths, D-Mich., and Sen. Marlow Cook, R-Ky.

Furman v. Georgia was decided in 1972.  The United States Supreme Court invalidated all death penalty schemes in the United States in a 5–4 decision.  Each member of the majority wrote a separate opinion. The Civil Rights act of 1972 passed which led to Title IX.

A recipient institution that receives Department funds must operate its education program or activity in a nondiscriminatory manner free of discrimination based on sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Some key issue areas in which recipients have Title IX obligations are: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment, which encompasses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; treatment of LGBTQI+ students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment. Also, no recipient or other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or its implementing regulations, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in a proceeding under Title IX.

1972 was also the year of the Gary Declaration coming from a National Black Political Convention. Reverend Jesse Jackson was just one of many to attend the convention.

What Time Is It?

We come to Gary in an hour of great crisis and tremendous promise for Black America. While the white nation hovers on the brink of chaos, while its politicians offer no hope of real change, we stand on the edge of history and are faced with an amazing and frightening choice: We may choose in 1972 to slip back into the decadent white politics of American life, or we may press forward, moving relentlessly from Gary to the creation of our own Black life. The choice is large, but the time is very short.

Let there be no mistake. We come to Gary in a time of unrelieved crisis for our people. From every rural community in Alabama to the high-rise compounds of Chicago, we bring to this Convention the agonies of the masses of our people. From the sprawling Black cities of Watts and Nairobi in the West to the decay of Harlem and Roxbury in the East, the testimony we bear is the same. We are the witnesses to social disaster.

Our cities are crime-haunted dying grounds. Huge sectors of our youth — and countless others — face permanent unemployment. Those of us who work find our paychecks able to purchase less and less. Neither the courts nor the prisons contribute to anything resembling justice or reformation. The schools are unable — or unwilling — to educate our children for the real world of our struggles. Meanwhile, the officially approved epidemic of drugs threatens to wipe out the minds and strength of our best young warriors.

Economic, cultural, and spiritual depression stalk Black America, and the price for survival often appears to be more than we are able to pay. On every side, in every area of our lives, the American institutions in which we have placed our trust are unable to cope with the crises they have created by their single-minded dedication to profits for some and white supremacy above all.

Me in 1973 with friends.

I was in high school feeling like we might actually get through this all and get to the dream of a more perfect Union. It was definitely a year of ups and downs. Fifty years ago seems like another lifetime. You’d think we’d see more progress on all of this.

We do have a Black Woman Vice President but no ERA and we had our first Black Man elected President who served two terms.. The Department of Interior is led by an Indigenous woman who has planned reforms that might bring more civil rights to our native peoples.  Women’s sports are taken a lot more seriously but not one woman player earns what her male peers make.

Black Americans face a new wave of voter suppression and a Supreme Court ready to tear through laws meant to improve access to American Universities not unlike what the 1972 Civil Rights law sought to do on the basis of gender.  We just got rid of a second long, unwinnable war but will we have another?

We also have Elton John on tour and Droogs. The Droogs are the white male Maga Men and hide under names like Oathkeepers, Proud Boys, and Patriot Front.

Some things don’t change and in this country, we know why. They don’t share power. They don’t want to. They’ll do anything to keep as much of it as possible.  We have a White Male problem and it’s mostly got the face of an extreme patriarchal take of Christianity.

So that’s the perspective. This is the reality in 2022.  This is from MS Magazine whose first stand-alone magazine was published in 1972. Excerpts from Elizabeth Hira’s “Americans Are Entitled to Government That Truly Reflects Them. Let’s Start With the Supreme Court” are going to show you exactly how far the rest of us still have to go.  It’s in response to the audacity the Republican Party has to hold up Joe Biden’s promise to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court as some kind of affirmative action for a less-qualified person which is total Bull Shit.

This is the premise she completely proves. “Our current system has created conditions where, statistically, mostly white men win. That is its own kind of special privilege. Something must change.”

This is her conclusion. “American government in no way reflects America—perpetuating a system where male, white power makes decisions for the rest of us.”

These are her descriptive statistics.

Data shows these claims are not hyperbolic. A Supreme Court vacancy started this inquiry: There have been 115 Supreme Court justices. 108 have been white men. One is a woman of color, appointed in 2009. (Americans have had iPhones for longer than they’ve had a woman-of-color justice.)

One might be tempted to dismiss old history, except that the Supreme Court specifically cannot be looked at as a “snapshot in time” because the Court is built on precedent stretching back to the nation’s founding. Practically speaking, that means every decision prior to 1967 (when Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the Court) reflected what a group of exclusively white men decided for everyone else in America—often to the detriment of the unrepresented.

In a nation that is 51 percent female and 40 percent people of color, are white men simply more qualified to represent the rest of us than we are of representing ourselves? That sounds ridiculous because it is. And yet that is the implication when naysayers tell us that race and gender do not matter—that the “most qualified” people can “make the best choices” for all of us, and they all just happen to be white men.

What’s worse, those white men aren’t just making broad, general decisions—each and every branch of government acts in ways that directly impact people because of their race and gender, among other identities.

  • When the Supreme Court considers affirmative action, it will be considering whether race matters for students who are already experiencing an increase in school segregation—what Jonathan Kozol once dubbed “Educational Apartheid.”
  • When Congress is inevitably asked to pass a bill to protect abortion should the Court strike down Roe v. Wade, 73 percent of the Congress making that decision will be men—not people who could even potentially experience pregnancy.
  • When recent voting rights bills failed, it was because two white Democrats and 48 Republicans (45 white and three non-white) collectively decided not to protect all American voters of color against targeted attacks on their access to the ballot.
  • When Senator Kyrsten Sinema spoke to the Senate floor about why she could not take necessary steps to protect Americans of color, she did not have to look a single sitting Black woman senator in the eye. Because there are none.

The Supreme Court is not alone in underrepresenting women, people of color, and women of color. Of 50 states, 47 governors are white, 41 are men. Nearly 70 percent of state legislators are male.

The pattern holds federally, too: Today’s Congress is the most diverse ever—a laudable achievement. Except that today’s Congress is 77 percent white, and 73 percent male. (As an example of how clear it is that Congress was simply not designed for women, Congresswomen only got their own restroomin the U.S. House in 2011.)

In the executive branch, 97.8 percent of American presidents have been white men. There has never been a woman president.

BIA Spokesperson at Trail of Broken Treaties Protest: 1972
John Crow of the Bureau of Indian Affairs answers questions from Native Americans on November 2, 1972 at 1951 Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C on the first day of the Trail of Broken Treaties demonstrations.

The numbers don’t lie.  I don’t even want to go into the number of American presidents that have been worse than mediocre including the previous guy.  This is the kind of systemic discrimination perpetuated in this country’s primary decision-makers. It is no wonder 50 years later we are even losing the table scraps they’re stealing now.

I’m going to leave you with this one last analysis before telling you to go read the entire essay.

The first female major-party presidential nominee was dogged by questions of her “electability,” and recent data shows large donors gave Black women congressional candidates barely one-third of what they gave their other female counterparts. Some people don’t support women and candidates of color because they worry these candidates simply can’t win in a white male system of power—which perpetuates a white male system of power. To create equitable opportunities to run, we must change campaign finance structures. It’s a necessary precursor to getting a government that looks like everyone.

I’m trying to send money to Val Demings in her effort to take down Mark Rubio.  Mark Rubio will never consider the interests of all of his constituency because he’s funded by white males with a vested interest in their monopolies on politics and the economy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Now Tom said, “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there

Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helping hand
Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me”
Yeah!

Like Tom Joad, I was born an Okie. I was born on the Cherokee strip one of those places on the Trail of Broken Treaties at the end of the Trail of Tears.  “The Grapes of Wrath” was on many a book banning and burning list back in the day. Look for it again on a list near you.


Friday Reads: Oh, I wish I wasn’t in the Land of Surreality

Hi Sky Dancers!

I really had hoped that last year’s elections and dump of Trump would calm the country down. I can tell you that my street is already seeing infrastructure improvements. I lost water all day long while contractors cut out a huge–and I mean huge–old steel sewer pipe out of the street to replace it with PVC. This will be at least a year-long process. This pipe was put in the street before my parents were born. There are many more like it to be replaced.

I can only think about these pipes being formed in someplace where there were thousands of real steelers working up North. They were likely put on trains that could reach a place where they could be floated on barges to their home down here.  That pipe was at least 20 feet underground and was large enough for a good-sized man to crawl through it using hands and knees.  I’m now curious about what kind of cranes they had back in the day because that pipe likely weighed a lot. So, think back to those years where the dawn of the last century met science, technology, and progress.  That picture of pipes placed in Boston in 1909 looked a lot like the one they pulled out of the cross street on my block.

I bugged the crew with so many questions that they offered to get me sloggers and let me watch while they used an iron saw to take it apart.  I unfortunately, had to teach but this little girl that loved her building sets and her sandbox dump trucks would have been there in a minute if I could have.

So, I have messy, smelly, life-interrupting proof of infrastructure projects! Why do I feel so little progress is being made to get out of the mess the Republicans have made of this country this century?  Well, let me share some headlines with you.

This is from David Leonhardt writing for The New York Times: “Covid Malaise.  Why do Americans say the economy is in rough shape? Because it is.”  I’m writing this as I watched 3 neighbors get booted from their apartments with a 5-day  notice after the release of the evictions block by the Federal Government. I’m also aware that there was money available to their landlords and it appears a bunch of small landlords are booting their tenants and using the money to upgrade the property to seek higher rents instead of keeping renters in place.  Yes, I’m just full of anecdotal evidence today!

Offices remain eerily empty. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights. Subways and buses are running less often. Schools sometimes call off entire days of class. Consumers waste time waiting in store lines. Annual inflation has reached its highest level in three decades.

Does this sound like a healthy economy to you?

In recent weeks, economists and pundits have been asking why Americans feel grouchy about the economy when many indicators — like G.D.P. growth, stock prices and the unemployment rate — look strong.

But I think the answer to this supposed paradox is that it’s not really a paradox: Americans think the economy is in rough shape because the economy is in rough shape.

Sure, some major statistics look good, and they reflect true economic strengths, including the state of families’ finances. But the economy is more than a household balance sheet; it is the combined experience of working, shopping and interacting in society. Americans evidently understand the distinction: In an Associated Press poll, 64 percent describe their personal finances as good — and only 35 percent describe the national economy as good.

There are plenty of reasons. Many services don’t function as well as they used to, largely because of supply-chain problems and labor shortages. Rising prices are cutting into paychecks, especially for working-class households. People spend less time socializing. The unending nature of the pandemic — the masks, Covid tests, Zoom meetings and anxiety-producing runny noses — is wearying.

While some of these disruptions are minor inconveniences, others are causing serious troubles. The increase in social isolation has harmed both physical and mental health. Americans’ blood pressure has risen. Fatal drug overdoses have soared, with a growing toll among Black Americans. A report this week from the surgeon general found that depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and attempted suicides had all risen among children and adolescents.

“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, wrote.

Schools are a particular source of frustration. Last year, the closure of in-person school caused large learning losses. This year, teachers have the near-impossible task of trying to help students make up for lost time, which has left many teachers feeling burned out.

Worker building New York’s Empire State Building circa 1930s.

I feel like I’m living in a developing country.  Inflation is rising. It’s about at levels it was during the Reagan years though.  It’s nowhere near peak Nixon level. This is from Jeff Cox at CNBC.  Actually, when a country is growing, inflation is not unusual. Nor is it unusual when a country is reeling from a shock like the Covid-19 epidemic that was badly mishandled by the Trump Regime.

Inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since 1982 in November, the Labor Department said Friday, putting pressure on the economic recovery and raising the stakes for the Federal Reserve.

The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% for the month, good for a 6.8% pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982.

Excluding food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 0.5% for the month and 4.9% from a year ago, which itself was the sharpest pickup since mid-1991.

The Dow Jones estimate was for a 6.7% annual gain for headline CPI and 4.9% for core.

There is a difference between what’s called the headline CPI and the core CPI.  Headline inflation is the total inflation in an economy. … It is different from core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices while calculating inflation. Food and energy are not included in core inflation because their prices are volatile. It makes headline inflation a more volatile measure than core inflation. The core is a more reliable measure of underlying price trends.

So, now this is looking less of a temporary surge which means policymakers will have to make decisions.  This is especially relevant for the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors supported by information from its economists. This is from The Washington Post. and Rachel Siegel.

In time, it’s possible that lower gas and energy prices or unclogged supply chains can help steer prices back down to more sustainable levels. But there’s no telling when that will happen, and in the meantime, businesses and consumers could start to change their expectations of what’s still to come.

“Yes, inflation can abate, but what [policymakers] care about is, is it significant or insignificant to peoples’ lives and decision-making?” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “This is inflation that’s not likely to be insignificant anytime soon, and that’s a problem.”

Financial markets appeared to shrug off the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq up slightly on Friday.

Inflation has emerged as a top political concern for voters ahead of the 2022 midterms, especially because the cost of food or gas is often a test for how people perceive the economy.

Republicans criticized the high inflation numbers, blaming Democrats’ stimulus as the culprit and warning against future legislative packages.

The problem with Republican criticism is that Trump’s massive tax cuts and his original  Covid-19 payments are as responsible for this as anything the Biden administration has done to date.  Most of those funds have yet to be circulated and after all, we’re still on the Trump Budget since it’s stalled in the Senate.

Progress in the early 20th century also included giving women the right to vote. Here’s a list of 50 countries and when women achieved this. You’ll notice the US was behind many European countries.

What is most unsettling to me are the continuing stories about the ongoing Trump coup.  So little appears to be happening to punish the culprits in charge of the Trump Regime.  This headline would be so Hollywood if it wasn’t real.  From Reuters: “Kanye West publicist pressed Georgia election worker to confess to bogus fraud charges.”

Weeks after the 2020 election, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West traveled to the suburban home of Ruby Freeman, a frightened Georgia election worker who was facing death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulating votes. The publicist knocked on the door and offered to help.

The visitor, Trevian Kutti, gave her name but didn’t say she worked for West, a longtime billionaire friend of Trump. She said she was sent by a “high-profile individual,” whom she didn’t identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail.

Freeman refused. This story of how an associate of a music mogul pressured a 62-year-old temporary election worker at the center of a Trump conspiracy theory is based on previously unreported police recordings and reports, legal filings, and Freeman’s first media interview since she was dragged into Trump’s attempt to reverse his election loss.

Kutti did not respond to requests for comment. Her biography for her work at the Women’s Global Initiative, a business networking group, identifies her as a member of “the Young Black Leadership Council under President Donald Trump.” It notes that in September 2018, she “was secured as publicist to Kanye West” and “now serves as West’s Director of Operations.”

Oh, and then there’s this:

Why is CNN trying to keep Trump in the headlines?  Is it really because of the coup?

Nothing is more symbolic than this picture. Guess who didn’t wear a mask to Bob Dole’s funeral?

So, I’m going to putting some headlines up about the signaling the Supremes seem to be doing on taking down Roe V. Wade next. This makes me shake with anger.  Women are headed back to chattel status on a state-by-state basis.

I am officially tired of this shit.  What will the backlash from this be?  I’m not sure how much more I got left in me.

Have a good, peaceful weekend.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?


Frank Friday Reads

Ghislaine Howard, Self Portrait Pregnant, 1984. © Ghislaine Howard.

Happy Friday Sky Dancers!

I’m going to make this entire weekend TV-free. It’s easy for me because all forms of sportsball bore me and I certainly don’t need to see the endless talking heads as it’s been a depressing enough week already. Most movies and tv shows bore me too so my plan is to read and do creative stuff. I’ve got pies to bake, pictures to paint, and music to make!

There were a lot of depressing and insulting things argued during the Mississippi Forced Birth Enslavement and child-trafficking law loved completely by the out-of-touch right-wing Christianists on the court. They must have missed being exposed to the idea that women have moral agency during their important lessons in life sessions. BB covered a lot of it yesterday.

A lot enraged me but none more than the white savior complex of Amy “great white savior” Coney Barret. She seems to feel since she adopted two black children and saved them from whatever hell she imagines with her white nationalist vision and missionary position she can ride to the rescue of all zygotes and embryos everywhere in the country. She feels she knows what’s right and that adoptions are just the answer to everything surrounding a woman’s pregnancy. Adoption justifies the state enslavement of pregnant women resulting in state trafficking of commodity babies. It’s her perfect concoction of everything is better when the rest of us are just the property of white men.

I’m sure as many of you have experience with friends that were adopted and also couples that adopted for a variety of reasons. Even with all the best intentions and best parenting, I’ve never met an adopted person that hasn’t presented some combination of similar emotional and psychological issues. They always feel lacking in a way that I never experienced even though they can be a tremendous variation on that theme. My first real experience came with a young black woman who was adopted by a kind elderly white couple and never quite felt she fit into any community that she met. I’ve always hoped that since multi-racial families are more prevalent that has become less of an issue. I also had a friend who adopted a boy only to find out a procedure could take care of her fertility problems. She then had four kids right after him. His biggest problem was one of his grandfathers continually reminding him that he wasn’t really theirs. Then, another friend had been adopted by a white couple because they wanted her baby. It took years for her to be able to tell her son that he wasn’t her brother. They really couldn’t be bothered with her after the boy was born.

Stuff like this leaves scars. And these are examples of what most people would call successful adoptions. None of the parents in these scenarios are the monsters that many adopted or foster kids get a place with. I won’t even share the trauma I’ve seen an adopted nephew go through even though his parents try everything. Every time a girl breaks up with him he goes through a loss like I’ve never seen in a person. At the moment, I live with someone who was adopted and it’s a variation on this all over. She’s got a form of detachment disorder and just is constantly in therapy over those issues and other personality disorders. She spent time in an orphanage. She loves her parents. They’re annoying in the same way most parents are but again, there are just issues that come along with all that and some people handle it better than others or have been further complicated before they get to their adopted family. It’s a forced birth fairy tale that adoption all rainbows and unicorns for everyone!

Gustav Klimt – Hope, II, 1907

These kids didn’t end up in the foster system although a few came from orphanages. I want to share these three articles with you written today. BB shared a few yesterdays. Don’t get me wrong. Adoption isn’t like they used to do which was to dump a girl in an unwed mother’s home, take the child from her, then put the child wherever. But, it still has that feeling that the state shouldn’t be forcing child trafficking and making women nothing but vessels. This is the worst kind of state interference in a woman’s moral agency. It’s autocratic and it’s purely based on one’s interpretation of a few religions. Babies are not commodities. Fetuses cannot live on their own and women do not just play passive host vessels. My last much wanted pregnancy nearly killed both of us and me several times with cancer I developed during it. Every woman has a different story and every child has a different story. The state just can’t write us all off under one big power grab like we’re all property. It’s a woman’s decision to make. PERIOD.

This is from New York Magazine: “Amy Coney Barrett’s Adoption Myths. “They’re co-opting our lives and our stories.” written by Irin Carmon’.

Twice in oral arguments this week for the abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked pro-choice advocates: Would banning abortion be so bad if women could just drop their newborns at the fire station for someone else to adopt? She conceded that forced pregnancy and birth are “an infringement on bodily autonomy,” but suggested, misleadingly, that the real choice is between having a later abortion and “the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion.”If advocates for abortion rights were so worried that “the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy” would harm women, asked Barrett, who adopted two children from Haiti, “Why don’t the safe-haven laws take care of that problem?”

The attorney for the clinics, Julie Rikelman, reminded Barrett that it’s 75 times more dangerous to give birth in Mississippi than to have a pre-viability abortion, disproportionately threatening the lives of women of color in particular. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said citing laws where parents can relinquish their newborns, no questions asked, “overlooks the consequences of forcing upon her the choice of having to decide whether to give a child up for adoption. That itself is its own monumental decision for her.” People who have lived and studied the realities of adoption also had a lot to say about Barrett’s blithe solution — one that drew on a well-established conservative political strategy to put adoption forward as the kinder face of the anti-abortion movement.

The day after oral arguments, I had a conversation with Angela Tucker, a transracial adoptee, host of The Adoptee Next Door, and media consultant; Kate Livingston, Ph.D., a birth parent and educator of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; Kathryn Joyce, journalist and author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption; and sociologist Gretchen Sisson, Ph.D., who studies abortion, adoption, and reproductive decision-making in the United States.

Pablo Picasso Pregnant Woman Vallauris, 1950

Please go read the questions and answers in this conversation. They are enlightening, to say the least. Elizabeth Spiers writes this for the New York Times: “I Was Adopted. I Know the Trauma It Can Inflict.”

As an adoptee myself, I was floored by Justice Barrett’s assumption that adoption is an accessible and desirable alternative for women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. She may not realize it, but what she is suggesting is that women don’t need access to abortion because they can simply go do a thing that is infinitely more difficult, expensive, dangerous and potentially traumatic than terminating a pregnancy during its early stages.

As an adoptive mother herself, Justice Barrett should have some inkling of the complexities of adoption and the toll it can inflict on children, as well as birth mothers. But she speaks as if adoption is some kind of idyllic fairy tale. My own adoption actually was what many would consider idyllic. I was raised by two adoptive parents, Alice and Terry, from the time I was an infant, and grew up in a home where I knew every day that I was loved. A few years ago, I found my biological mother, Maria, and three siblings I didn’t know I had via a DNA test and Facebook.

The first time I spoke to Maria on the phone — she lives in Alabama, not too far from my parents, and I live in Brooklyn — she apologized repeatedly for giving me up and told me she loved me and that I would always be family. “You are blood,” she would say later. I told her, and continue to tell her, every time she brings it up, that the apology is unnecessary. I had a wonderful childhood and I believe she had made the right decision. But she remains heartbroken about the years we missed together.

Both Maria and my mom, Alice, oppose abortion on religious grounds. My mom is white and Southern Baptist; Maria is Hispanic and Pentecostal. Both like to point to me to justify their beliefs, saying that had Maria gotten an abortion, I would not exist. It’s a familiar argument: The anti-abortion movement likes to invoke Nobel Prize winners who might never have materialized, or potential adoptees who might have cured cancer, if they hadn’t been aborted at eight weeks.

Here is my third offering on this topic.

You could make the argument that from Alito on … they all should step down. They were hired by the Republicans to tank Roe and whatever follows that insults their personal religious fetishes. We all have the right to practice our religions but not to force them on others via the state. It’s hard to believe they’re on the Supreme Court and they have such open disdain for the First Amendment of the Constitution.

‘How brilliant to paint yourself changing’ … Chantal Joffe’s 2004 self-portrait Photograph: © Chantal Joffe Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/ Venice

When should a Supreme Court justice’s deeply held religious beliefs require recusal — that is, that the justice not participate in a particular case? A difficult question, to be sure, but one that Justice Amy Coney Barrett has already answered for herself. And her answer requires her recusal in abortion cases.

The Supreme Court hears arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Wednesday, which challenges the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Under current precedent, the law is unconstitutional — as both the district court and the court of appeals held. Both Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, and Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey, decided in 1992, hold that a state cannot ban abortions prior to viability, approximately the 24th week of pregnancy. Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overrule those precedents.

To follow her own words in a 1998 law review article, Barrett should have recused herself from deciding this case (and all other abortion cases) if she has any integrity at all.

In “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases,” published in the Marquette Law Review, Barrett (then a law clerk to a federal court of appeals judge) and her co-author address the dilemma that faces devout Catholic judges in capital cases. She writes that such judges are “obliged by oath, professional commitment, and the demands of citizenship to enforce the death penalty,” but they are also “obliged to adhere to their church’s teaching on moral matters.” They are therefore “morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty.”

What’s a Catholic judge to do, then? According to Barrett’s article, the judge must recuse herself. She can neither enforce the death penalty and violate her religious conscience, nor fail to enforce it and violate her oath of office.

And even in a case in which a judge has discretion whether or not to sentence a convicted criminal to death, he cannot resolve to keep an open mind and then claim to have done nothing wrong if he decides not to impose the death penalty. Because, Barrett writes, “A judge who suspends his moral judgment during sentencing sets his conscience aside” and “cuts himself loose from his moral moorings.” That unloosing is itself a sin, she concludes — analogous to “looking lustfully at a woman” and thus committing adultery “in his thoughts.”

Barrett’s bottom line is that an “observant Catholic judge” may not “formally cooperate in bringing about the defendant’s execution.” And for that reason, “if one cannot in conscience affirm a death sentence the proper response would be to recuse oneself.” To do otherwise is to “betray a public trust” by manipulating the law “in order to save lives.”

Well, Well, Well!

Celebration of the body … Jenny Saville’s Electra (2012). Photograph: Prudence Cuming/© Jenny Saville. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Here are a few other links to how Christianists are forcing everyone to follow their distinct takes on Christianity. They sound more like the Taliban every day. And take it from me, as a former Methodist who was frequently called not a real Christian, they will come for all of you.

Also from The Hill: “North Dakota school superintendent slams critical race theory, calls to teach ‘Christian heritage'”.

A North Dakota school district superintendent sent an email that says racial injustice is being pushed by a “political ideology,” called for a “Christ centered Republic” and deemed critical race theory “bigotry cloaked in academic theory,” according to InForum.

The news service, which obtained a copy of the email that was sent to a North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders-run listserv, reported that in Starkweather Public School District Superintendent Larry Volk’s email, he said that it was “time to move away from godless corrupt woke, left-wing ideology and back to the devout Christ centered Republic the founders envisioned.”

Volk also vowed in his email that critical race theory “will never be taught in our district. We will not teach institutionalized bigotry promoted by the left.”

“Racial injustice has been pushed by a political ideology — not a race of people. There is no systemic racism in America created by our Founding Fathers — the racism is the project of the godless Democrat party that has rejected god, family, faith and America and embraced secularism in the form of Marxism,” Volk said in another portion of the email.
“My district will continue to teach the Christian heritage and origins of the American Republic focusing on primary source documents from the founding era,” he added.

In an email to The Hill, Volk defended his email, which included some political commentary regarding a list of historical events, figures and groups, saying that “my goal is simply to teach as accurately as I can.”

Yeah, Jesus the street preacher and social justice warrior would surely not recognize the description of his work here.

My last set of links is basically a group of writers telling Dems to face the culture warriors .head-on and decimate them. As Amanda says below, “fight early and fight often.” There are also some gun fetishists that need to be dealt with.

In one good piece of news, there’s this. McConnell folded like a cheap umbrella.

In other good news, Donald Trump is still NOT president. We’re just back to fighting old battles like Women’s Rights, Voting Rights, and probably GLBT rights shortly. Have a peaceful and joyful weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Manic Monday Reads: Double Standard Edition

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The one thing that’s become more apparent to me than anything else is the double standard in the media and elsewhere with what they tolerate from white men who are screaming like scalded hogs at the moment and essentially trying to install an autocratic government to retain their privilege and control of the country’s major institutions.  Loss of privilege is not the same as being unable to secure your civil liberties and rights.

 This is from Eric Boehlert:  GOTCHA Games via my neighbor. The Vice President has accomplished a lot so:

So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, the gossip-heavy coverage is not only detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.

It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.

The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”

Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)

Keep reading for the glaring examples all over the media.  And notice it’s the gay guy and the black woman getting the nitpick treatment.  Don’t start me on the number of women of color who’ve endured the tribulation of justifying themselves in from the of the old white Republicans of the Senate. My guess is it’s the Hillary treatment where you nitpick and find false scandals until she never becomes electible again.  But, my question is WHY?

Yeah, It’s the Hillary Treatment alright. From the TelegraphWith Kamala Harris looking unelectable, the Democrats are considering the nuclear option

Go there if you even care. Or you might even try this one if you dare: AxiosGOP courts anti-vaxxers with jobless aid

Ask yourself who really hates our democracy and country now.

Right-wing men are terrifically insecure. As best as I can determine, they’re very much afraid of any competition for anything. Righteous Hackers are working to take their white nationalist patriarchal movement down.  This is from The Guardian. How far-right extremist groups face exposure from army of hacktivists. Data leaks and breaches by so-called ‘ethical hackers’ – often assisted by poor security practices – have exposed inner workings of groups and the nature of the movement as a whole.

Throughout 2021, websites associated with far-right extremist groups and extremist-friendly platforms and hosts have suffered from data leaks and breaches that have exposed the inner workings of far-right groups, and the nature of the movement as a whole.

The data has been exfiltrated in breaches engineered by so-called “ethical hackers” – often assisted by poor security practices from website administrators – and by activists who have penetrated websites in search of data and information.

Experts and activists say that attacks on their online infrastructure is likely to continue to disrupt and hamper far-right groups and individuals and makes unmasking their activities far more likely – often resulting in law enforcement attention or loss of employment.

Numerous far-right groups have suffered catastrophic data breaches this year, in perhaps a reflection of a lack of technical expertise among such activists. Jim Salter, a systems administrator and tech journalist, said: “Extremists, and extremist-friendly entities, have a noticeable shortage of even-tempered, thoughtful people doing even-tempered, thoughtful work at securing sites and managing personnel.”

There are many examples.

In the wake of the 6 January attacks, the Guardian reported on the leak from American Patriots III% website, which allowed the entire membership of the organization to be identified.

In that case, poor website configuration had allowed savvy researchers to view and republish the information on the open web.

In July, another organization affiliated with the Three Percenters, which monitoring organizations classify as an anti-government group or a component of the militia movement, had internal chats leaked which reportedly exhibited a “thirst for violence”.

Then, in September, it emerged that the website of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers was comprehensively breached, with membership lists, emails and what appeared to be the entire content of their server suddenly put on public display.

This is an extremely interesting read. And I just had to put this in wondering if the press will find a way to pick on First Lady Biden’s traditional Christmas tastes.

I imagine we’ll get lectured on the aesthetic of boring.  And to our next question.

So, this trial is going to be interesting because we’ve only going one person to take trial for the sins of Jeffrey Epstein.

NASA renames headquarters after Mary Jackson, its first black woman engineer

This is via Law and Crime: “An Anonymous Jury Has Been Selected for Ghislaine Maxwell’s Sex Trafficking Trial. Here’s What We Know About the Panel.”

Shielded in anonymity, the jurors selected to preside over Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial will be identified only by their number in the interest of preserving their privacy and safety, but some details about them and their awareness of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.

The 12-person panel, and six alternate jurors waiting on standby, were sworn in by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan following a painstaking selection process. Judge Nathan whittled down a pool of 600 candidates with surveys, first with a written questionnaire and then one-on-one questions held in open court, known as voir dire proceedings.

Rejecting a request by Maxwell’s defense team to conduct this hearing secretly, Nathan held voir dire in full press and public view earlier this month. Potential jurors answered questions on the public record, with certain information—like their names—kept under seal.

Here is a breakdown of the jurors, a group that includes mostly highly educated professionals representing a broad cross-section of New York City and neighboring counties. The list may change as two newly-empaneled jurors expressed conflicts after being chosen. As the biographical information comes from voir dire transcripts, these profiles do not currently include a race and gender breakdown. The jury, however, appears to be diverse in these categories, as well as age and educational background.

So, the media continues to miss the point.  And I’m tired already of writing about it.  Did I mention the budget/deficit ceiling battle is about to restart? 

Congress is only a couple of weeks away from hitting the Dec. 15 deadline to raise the federal debt limit, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) don’t appear to be anywhere close to a deal.

Democrats insist that Schumer will not burn up a week of Senate floor time to use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit with only Democratic votes.

And Republicans say there’s no way that McConnell will be able to round up 10 Republican votes to quash an expected filibuster from conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and allow Democrats to pass debt limit legislation with a simple majority under regular order.

The Republicans are not capable of running anything but a Circus Sideshow.  We need to vote them out where we can.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday (Bannon’s in Jail) Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Wow! Is there a lot of news today, and it continues to baffle me! Let’s start with a good story.  Bannon is in jail.  He continues to devolve into something less than human.  Take a look at that picture.  Something that lives under a bridge and demands tolls?  Animated spud? Zombie?  Your guess is as good as mine!  The protestor has one appellation correct:  “Coup Plotter.”

We also have some history worth celebrating. Ruby Bridges integrated New Orleans Public Schools 61 years ago. 

And I was just this years old when I found out that Rosa Parks became a practicing Buddhist in her golden years. She practiced the same tradition as Tina Turner.

What would happen if we continue to teach our children what brave women of color do after that one moment they changed history?

So, back to the country’s ugliest spud.

His face continues to make an excellent argument for not using drugs. It’s much better than a fried egg. He’s been arrested. He’s in the custody of Federal Officials. He’s scheduled to appear before a judge later today. Get that TV turned on because I’m sure there will be coverage.

Justice moves slowly sometimes, but it’s moving.  Then, there’s the anti-justice and law and order party. This is from WAPO: “In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback. GOP lawmakers say Democrats, by pursuing contempt charges against a Trump ally, are paving the way for them to go after Biden aides if they retake the House in 2022.”

BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  HER EMAILS!!!!!!!!!!! JUST MAKE SHIT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many GOP leaders, however, are seizing on Bannon’s indictment to contend that Democrats are “weaponizing” the Justice Department, warning Democrats that they will go after Biden’s aides for unspecified reasons if they take back the House majority in next year’s midterm elections, as most political analysts expect.

“For years, Democrats baselessly accused President Trump of ‘weaponizing’ the DOJ. In reality, it is the Left that has been weaponizing the DOJ the ENTIRE TIME — from the false Russia Hoax to the Soviet-style prosecution of political opponents,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the third-ranking House Republican, tweeted Saturday.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggested that Republicans would seek payback if the GOP regained control of the House, signaling that in challenging the doctrine of executive privilege, Democrats were making it easier for Republicans to force Biden’s top advisers to testify before a future GOP Congress.

I have a good response for that:

So, let me just shake it off and move on to some more good news about Black Women in Leadership. Mayor Latoya Cantrell has won overwhelming support to serve a second term.  Not everyone agrees with it but they certainly did not show up and vote. The words of disapproval appear to be coming mainly from men. That’s not surprising.  There’s general excitement that Beto O’Rorke is running for Texas governor but not much enthusiasm expressed in the MSM about the barn burner campaign run by Val Demings to unseat little Marco Rubio.  This was what I could find that wasn’t from a month ago.  The site is Sunburn which is basically a Florida Political blog.

Val Demings rips Marco Rubio for skipping 14 Senate hearings amid GOP boycotts” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Sen. Rubio has missed as many as 14 Senate hearings over the past two months, a practice the Republican was criticized for six years ago as he launched a bid for the presidency. But many of his absences since September have been part of either a GOP boycott of the Small Business Committee or a pledge to not vote for any of Biden’s State Department nominees. U.S. Rep. Demings, his likely opponent in next year’s U.S. Senate race, blasted Rubio’s absenteeism. Rubio did not appear at nine Foreign Relations hearings since Sept. 22, most of which focused on Biden nominations. Rubio has so far opposed all of Biden’s nominees to the State Department.

Meanwhile, the MSM is turning its need for drama to our Vice President Kamala Harris.  I like this guy that calls CNN the “Perez Hilton” of the political world. The piece is basically rumor-mongering and not much else.

Here’s the CNN article: “Exasperation and dysfunction: Inside Kamala Harris’ frustrating start as vice president”

Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff — deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns.

The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers — who spoke extensively to CNN — reveal a complex reality inside the White House. Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined. The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president.

She’s a heartbeat away from the presidency now. She could be just a year away from launching a presidential campaign of her own, given doubts throughout the political world that Biden will actually go through with a reelection bid in 2024, something he’s pledged to do publicly and privately. Or she’ll be a critical validator in three years for a President trying to get the country to reelect him to serve until he’s 86.
Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she’s being well-prepared for whichever role it will be. Harris is struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House, while long-time supporters feel abandoned and see no coherent public sense of what she’s done or been trying to do as vice president. Being the first woman, and first woman of color, in national elected office is historic but has also come with outsized scrutiny and no forgiveness for even small errors, as she’ll often point out.

So, a “few” unnamed people created all this projection.  I call shenanigans!  This is a 3-year-old article from Forbes but I don’t think much has changed.  “Black Women Are Besieged On Social Media, And White Apathy Damns Us All.”  This was written by Janet Burns

In the past year or so, I’ve been particularly disturbed to see members and allies of the current administration lob such undermining and vitriolic slurs at Black women leaders on Twitter and elsewhere (often following cable news’ example) with virtually no backlash, including repeated attacks on two sitting U.S. congresswomen.

Surely a lifetime of undoubtedly backbreaking work and overcoming fierce adversity to become a prominent politician would earn both Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) more respect from anyone, as well as an equally fierce outcry and defense from their white colleagues — even despite the various biases and (at best) blind spots in both parties.

After all, when film, stand-up, and Saturday Night Live! comedian Leslie Jones suddenly found her Twitter feed overwhelmed with racist and sexist abuse and extremely violent threats from thousands of users in response to her role in the female-led Ghostbusters remake last year (the worst part of a broader freak out over the film, as many of us will remember), some white fellow cast members and comedy peers quickly joined the Twitter fracas in her defense, or condemned the abuse in no uncertain terms, in the very least.

When it comes to the targeting and demeaning of Black women by prominent white male figures, however, it seems the political community has largely given this abuse a pass on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as have tech companies themselves, for all intents and purposes.

I’m now working on a campaign to make certain the new sheriff in town is a black woman.  While working to see that our new congressional rep was a black woman I ran into the same kinds of things.   I’m solid of the opinion is that nothing will really change unless women band together to change it because the men all jump to the man when push comes to shove.

“How dare we to dream that we can do something about this system that is punitive, discriminatory, and inequitable,” Hutson said in a speech to ecstatic supporters at her election party at Soule’ Cafe on Banks Street when runoff was called by WWL-TV. “But we are gonna do just that.”

I have a few other bits and pieces of breaking news.

From Roll Call: Leahy, longest-serving sitting senator, to retire.

From NBC NewsJudge dismisses weapons charge in Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial

From Max Boot, Washington Post: A newly disclosed memo reveals Trump’s plot to turn the military into his personal goon squad

So much crazy still going on that it’s getting easier to turn the TV off with each passing day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?