Friday Reads: The party of kooks and nutters

Hi Sky Dancers!

I really was looking for something meaty to post about today but there seems to be mostly about the slide of the Republican Party into abject delusion and insanity.  Last night, on Brian Williams, I had to look twice at the sight of Rudy Guiliani basically being a hype man for the My Pillow psycho.  Guiliani evidently has a youtube channel and last night’s performance of abject fellating of a man that could help him with his legal bills was eye-opening.  I thought it resembled that old Dan Ackroyd SNL character.

This is from Newsweek: “Rudy Giuliani Features MyPillow Ads as Mike Lindell Says Donald Trump Will Be President in August’.

Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Republican former President Donald Trump, is running advertisements for MyPillow on his YouTube show. Meanwhile, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has publicly said that Trump will return to the White House in August despite losing the 2020 election.

“I’m been sleeping on MyPillows for some time. I love them. They’re simply the very best pillows ever made,” Giuliani said in the most recent episode of his YouTube show, Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense. The 53-minute episode asked whether UFOs are real, in reference to a forthcoming Pentagon report on UFOs.

Giuliani continued the ad by stating that he “just found out” that MyPillow also offers other non-pillow products. When mentioning their slippers, he brandished a pair at the camera.

GEORGES ROUAULT (1871-1958) Clown de profil

BB talked about some of this craziness yesterday.  I think he’s doing his usual signalling to the hounds of hell to give him another coup attempt in August.  This is Amanda Marcotte’s take:”How do we report on Trump’s dastardly schemes without amplifying his lies and incitement? Trump’s blog failed, so he’s inciting followers through media leaks. Does that make journalists his accomplices?”

It is likely no coincidence that right around that time, stories based on claims by anonymous sources “close to Trump” (which often means Trump himself) started to tick up. It began when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, a longtime outlet for Trump “leaks”, tweeted that Trump has been telling people close to him that he believes he’ll reinstated as president in August. This tweet echoed a conspiracy theory from the QAnon and Q-adjacent world, and coincided with an uptick in far-right chatter about how the American right should look to Myanmar’s February military coup for inspiration.

After Haberman’s tweet, the Washington Post strengthened this narrative with a story about how Trump is “increasingly consumed with the notion that ballot reviews pushed by his supporters around the country could prove that he won” and is peddling the idea that such “audits” — which are deliberately messy and nonsensical affairs — “could result in his return to the White House this year.” The Daily Beast confirmed that “the ex-president had begun increasingly quizzing confidants about a potential August return to power.” This reporting gave Fox News all the excuse they needed to amplify the message. Even though that came in the form of Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, denying the reporting, the end result was another round of news stories reinforcing the basic concepts: August is the month. A violent coup. Trump’s miraculous reinstatement.

This is entirely too similar to the way Trump got the message out to his followers to stage a revolt on Jan. 6, through winking and nudging. So far, the big difference is that no exact date and location, as far as I can tell, has been established for a MAGA uprising.

As much as liberals resist the idea that Trump has any wits at all, what he’s doing is not exactly mysterious. He wants to get this particular message out, vaguely claiming that a glorious revolution will restore him to power later this year, and he’s using the mainstream press to do it. To make things worse, he’s exploiting the liberal desire to point at him and laugh to spread the message further. Every time a liberal shares one of these stories and calls Trump and his followers “delusional” for thinking that some extra-constitutional return to power is possible, they help spread the word — while also reminding Trump supporters how “owned” liberals would be if there really were a “storm” that swept Trump back into the White House in August.

Is it to avoid this too?

But the nutter parade continues with the ever-shrinking numbers of screeching, hateful, white nationalist evangelical Christians.  This is good news.  Their numbers are shrinking.  This is from NPR: “How Is The GOP Adjusting To A Less Religious America?” My days in that party got limited the minute they come in riding the tails of Ronnie Raygun and Pat Rob’em all Robertson.  Talk about another grift operation.  No wonder they grabbed onto Mister Two Corinthians.

The Clown by Auguste Renoir, 1868

In fact, the U.S. recently passed a religious milestone: For the first time, a majority of Americans are not church members, Gallup found this spring.

Over the last decade, the share of Republicans who are church members fell from 75% to 65%, according to Gallup. That’s a solid majority but also a sizable fall.

The key bloc of white evangelicals is also shrinking as a share of the population, while the share of religiously unaffiliated Americans grows.

This makes religion one key part of a looming, long-term demographic challenge for Republicans, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans clearly have a stronger hold among the religiously affiliated, especially evangelical Protestants. And consequently, any decline in evangelical Protestant affiliation is not good news for the GOP,” he said.

The upshot, to Ayres, is that a party still deeply entwined with conservative Christianity and, particularly, white evangelicals will eventually have to win over more Christian conservatives — for example, among the growing Hispanic electorate — or make gains among substantially less-religious groups, like young voters.

Already, they’re directly inserting themselves in the Israeli ousting of Bibi. This is from All Israel News. “Will Christians support new Israeli government? Many will. But one prominent Evangelical has declared war on Naftali Bennett, sent scathing letter denouncing him with profanity – ‘I will fight you every step of the way'”.  They just can’t seem to stick to clothing and feeding the poor and homeless.

The apparently imminent demise of the Netanyahu government is coming as a shock to the 60 million pro-Israel Evangelical Christians in the United States.

In recent days, I have received many concerned emails and text messages from Evangelical leaders asking me what is happening, why, and what the implications of this political earthquake are likely to be.

By and large, Evangelicals have come to love and respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving premier in the history of modern Israel.

By contrast, most have never heard of Naftali Bennett, the right-wing former chief of staff to Netanyahu and former defense minister in Netanyahu’s Cabinet, who now appears poised to replace Netanyahu as the nation’s next prime minister.

Most have not heard of Yair Lapid, the centrist former finance minister and incoming foreign minister, either.

But they will soon.

To be clear, it is far too early to be sure that Bennett and Lapid and their colleagues will actually be sworn into office.

They have many opponents, who are working feverishly to derail their nascent new government.

But if they do come to power, one key question is whether Bennett and Lapid can quickly build relationships and trust with American Evangelicals – and Evangelicals worldwide – who are among the most important strategic allies that the State of Israel has.

There’s also one less congregation in Tennessee.  This former California TV star–who I never heard of–and his now late wife preached fat people could not get into heaven because of the sin of gluttony.  Their schtick was a diet.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll see this poor woman had body dysmorphia.   These kinds of things really confuse me.  Guess where they were going?

Clown tragique
Georges Rouault
Date: 1911
Style: Expressi

You have to wonder what the discussions these days are between George and brother Jeb Bush on this. From WAPO: “George P. Bush is running for attorney general in Texas — and courting Trump.”  Trump was brutal during the first primary and “low energy Jeb” took a lot of hits.

George P. Bush’s campaign video does not mention the Republican political dynasty that preceded him. Not his father, the former governor of Florida. Nor his uncle, the 43rd president of the United States. Nor his grandfather, the 41st.

The video does pay homage to former president Donald Trump.

“Under the leadership of President Trump our country was strong and vibrant again, but because of the failed leadership of liberal ideas, our country is suffering,” said George P. Bush, who this week launched a 2022 bid to become Texas attorney general. The state land commissioner is channeling and courting Trump despite the 45th president’s past attacks on elder members of the Bush family — a sign of Trump’s still-strong hold on a transformed GOP.

Scholars of Texas politics said the Bush name can still be a plus in the state, but also saw Trump’s endorsement as a big prize in the GOP primary for attorney general, where George P. Bush will face incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton is staunchly pro-Trump and last year.

Okay, enough of this!  Hopefully, you’ll see me on Monday with something newsy and less sleazy!  Have a great weekend!  I’m still feral but going to get my eyes checked this afternoon.  My post-vaccine life means catching up with doctor appointments, etc.  Have you dressed up and gone out into civil society yet?

Oh, wait, one more idiot before I go.

Evidently, you pay $19.99 to Direct Message him and he may or may not answer.   Cocaine is a helluva drug.  It’s also not cheap and neither are lawyers.  So, we’ve got the grift going.  Enjoy the laugh!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

And now, not going down the “Send in the Clowns” road!


Friday Reads: This and that and the other …

“The popular artist @PENPENCILDRAW created an illustration in response to that ruling, depicting “an Indian judge’s guide to being an ideal rape survivor”. The illustration went viral.”

Hi Sky Dancers!

I’m still exhausted from end-of-term madness. We’re still caught up in reacting to Trumpist news.  I’ll go there but not quite yet.

My neighbor tweeted this BBC article this morning on the terrifying rape culture in India.  Read this and see how the judge on the case dismissed a work-related rape.  It’s horrifying!  I need to post a trigger warning here!  The judge actually describes what he finds “appropriate” behavior for a rape victim. There should be global outrage on this one.

As many of you may know, I’ve been an advocate of battered women and children and also rape victims since high school.  I’ve been involved in this well into my current state of cronehood.  I fear for my daughters and for my soon-to-be-born granddaughters.  How can we ever get rid of these attitudes?  This is from India but I’ve run into these same attitudes here.

The illustration came from the following article.

Arianna Vairo

From the BBC World News article above:

Is there an appropriate way for a rape victim to behave?

That’s the question many are asking in India after a judge threw out charges against a man accused of raping a female colleague and questioned the behaviour of the alleged victim.

Judge Kshama Joshi wrote that in photographs taken shortly after the alleged assault, the young woman was “smiling and looked happy, normal, in [a] good mood”.

“She did not look disturbed, reserved, terrified or traumatised in any way even though this was immediately after she claims to have been sexually assaulted,” the judge wrote in a 527-page judgement.

The charges against Tarun Tejpal, the high-profile former editor of Tehelka magazine, were dismissed. The Goa government, which has appealed the decision, asked on Thursday for an early hearing, saying “we owe it to our girls” and that the acquittal order was “erroneous in law” and “unsustainable”. The High Court judge agreed and said he would hear the case on 2 June.

Endless debunking of these myths has led to little progress.  The root causes are power and control.  Never forget!

The fight to remove power and control from women also continues on the fight to preserve access to legal abortions.  This is from WBUR: “The Supreme Court, Abortion And The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Long Game.” The forced birth movement will never be satisfied an end to Roe V Wade.  Here’s a list of articles discussed in the broadcast.

CNN: “How Trump and McConnell set the final pieces for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade” — “Conservatives have been waiting decades for this moment: a transformed Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an abortion case that directly challenges women’s reproductive rights tracing to the 1973 Roe v. Wade milestone.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Mississippi Abortion Case at the Supreme Court: What You Should Know” — “The question of abortion rights is making a return to the Supreme Court, with justices on Monday agreeing to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

Ms. Magazine: “Unprecedented Surge in Anti-Abortion Laws Proposed and Passed Across the U.S.” — “In the first four months of 2021, anti-abortion lawmakers introduced 536 abortion restrictions in 46 states, including 146 abortion bans, according to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute on Friday. They enacted 61 restrictions in 13 states, including eight bans that would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Governors signed 28 restrictions into law in eight states just last week.”

The Hill: “Democrats: Roe v. Wade blow would fuel expanding Supreme Court” — “Democratic senators say if the Supreme Court strikes a blow against Roe v. Wade by upholding a Mississippi abortion law, it will fuel an effort to add justices to the court or otherwise reform it.”

Susanna and the Elders, Restored – X-Ray
1998 Kathleen Gilje

The headlines are quite bleak. This is from New York Magazine and was written by By Irin Carmon and Benjamin Hart. “The Radicalism of the Abortion Law the Supreme Court Granted”.

Irin: I would call this catastrophic for abortion rights. Not even the 5th circuit, arguably the most conservative appeals court in the country, thought it was worth upholding this ban, because it so egregiously flouts almost a half-century of precedent. There’s no circuit split — the dissent among lower courts that usually obliges the Supreme Court to step in. The court has had many chances to change its rule as to whether states can ban abortion before viability and never has. This suggests at least four justices (which is how many it takes to take up a case) think now is the time.

This is the from the local Erie News about the radical set of abortion legislation advanced by republicans in the Pennsylvania house.  I have not put the headline up because it contains mislabelling of the Forced Birth movement

Pennsylvania conservatives have previously pushed anti-abortion legislation, but several bills have stalled in committee, including when the Republican-controlled Legislature had a Republican governor to sign their agenda into law.

Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011 signed into law stricter standards for abortion clinics and in 2013 signed a law that denied abortion coverage through Obamacare.

But nothing as restrictive as what was introduced Tuesday got close to law during the Corbett years.

The three bills Republicans advanced this week include a heartbeat bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected; a ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis; and another that requires medical facilities to disclose burial options for miscarriages and abortions.

Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York County, said during the committee meeting that supporting the ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis is a “no brainer.”

“We shouldn’t allow them to be discriminated against,” she said.

“Children with Down syndrome, they lead amazing lives,” Klunk added. “They are contributing in so many ways, but they need the chance at life to be able to do that.”

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny County, called the ban “dystopian” during the meeting and said the General Assembly is creating more fear while denying access to healthcare.

Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon County, introduced the bill on burial options because of his own experience after losing a child, a story he has shared previously.

He said he was “asking the ladies in the room” to “recognize how men feel.”

He said his bill is optional and gives families a chance at closure after losing a baby, he said.

“This is about giving choice to those people whose faith says that life begins at conception,” Ryan said.

Frankel argued that Ryan’s bill mandates cremation or burial and does not make it optional after abortion or miscarriage. To get a burial, a death certificate would also be required for abortions and miscarriages.

This is also about power and control.  This is from The Guardian “Anti-abortion movement bullish as legal campaign reaches US supreme court.”

The anti-abortion movement in the US is emboldened and optimistic after the supreme court announced it would hear a direct challenge to laws underpinning the right to abortion in the US, and Texas enacted a law intended to ban abortion after six weeks.

The high court decision to take up the case and the Texas move come during the most hostile year for reproductive rights in the nearly half-century since pregnant people won the constitutional right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy in the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade.

“The long-predicted scaling back of abortion rights by the supreme court just got a lot more likely,” said Mary Ziegler, a legal historian, author of Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v Wade to the Present, and law professor at Florida State University.

Today, abortion is legal in all 50 states up to the point the fetus can survive outside the womb, a legal concept called “viability” established in Roe. This is generally understood to be about 24 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 39 weeks).

The case taken up by the court, called Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will answer whether Mississippi can limit abortion to 15 weeks, and is brought by the state’s last abortion clinic. If upheld, it would reduce by more than two months the time in which a woman could choose to terminate a pregnancy.

“It’s really hard to see why the court would take this case unless they’re interested in reversing part of Roe or all of Roe,” said Ziegler. Further, the court chose to answer “the most explosive question in the case”, which “suggests they’re not really worried about the political fallout”.

On the right, the hopes are clear: that the court will end the legal right to an abortion, and potentially allow room to criminalize the procedure.

“We’re all hopeful the court will be intellectually honest and acknowledge what the science is clear on – that a unique human life starts at fertilization,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the anti-abortion advocacy group Life Action. Rose is widely seen as the face of the millennial anti-abortion movement.

Mississippi is just one of 29 states across the south and midwest considered hostile to abortion rights, where 58% of American women of reproductive age live, and which would probably act to further restrict abortion rights.

The supreme court case represents the most severe challenge ever presented to Roe, and is a reflection of how the country has splintered in a decade of Republican-led voting restrictions and partisan gerrymandering, the process of redrawing politicians’ districts to favor one party.

“We’re becoming two countries, and your voting rights and your reproductive rights are increasingly likely to depend on where you live,” said David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote and the bestselling author of Rat F**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count.

The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Pablo Picasso, 1962

The purge continues in education.  Not only is sex education in many states illegal but now summer school classes in Oklahoma have been cancelled because they don’t teach the white male version of racism. From Oklahoma City Local News station 5: “Oklahoma teacher says summer class canceled due to bill that bans teaching critical race theory.”

A teacher is disappointed with Gov. Kevin Stitt after one of her summer classes was canceled due to House Bill 1775, which bans educators from teaching certain concepts of race and racism.

Melissa Smith told KOCO 5 that she’s taught race theory-type classes for six years and is confused why there’s an issue now.

“I’m not happy. This is information everyone needs to know,” Smith said.

The high school and community college teacher said House Bill 1775 has caused her to lose a class she was supposed to teach this summer at Oklahoma City Community College.

“I’ve actually been teaching race and ethnicities in the United States for multiple years,” she said.

The recently signed legislation restricts what can be taught about racial divisions through history in Oklahoma classrooms.

“I got an email a week or so ago, saying due to this new law, they were canceling my completely full race and ethnicities class,” Smith said.

Her students won’t be able to take her class even though it was required for some to graduate. Also, Smith won’t be paid.

“This was a huge chunk of my income,” she said.

When Stitt signed the bill, he said, “We can and should teach the history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refused to tolerate otherwise.”

Yaqiu Wang • CHINA

So, this is AmeriKKKa.  This is from The New Yorker and Susanne B. Glasser: “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, but It’s Getting There.  A country that cannot even agree to investigate an assault on its Capitol is in big trouble, indeed.”  

Before leaving town for their Memorial Day recess, in fact, Senate Republicans were expected to use the legislative filibuster for the first time this session to block the proposed bipartisan panel. Their stated arguments against a commission range from the implausible to the insulting; the real explanation is political cynicism in the extreme. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is so far delivering on his pledge to focus a “hundred per cent” on blocking Biden’s agenda, even claimed that an investigation was pointless because it would result in “no new fact.” John Cornyn, a close McConnell ally, from Texas, was more honest, at least, in admitting, to Politico, that the vote was all about denying Democrats “a political platform” from which to make the 2022 midterm elections a “referendum on President Trump.” For his part, Trump has been putting out the word that he plans to run for reëlection in 2024—and exulting in polls showing that a majority of Republicans continue to believe both his false claims of a fraudulent election and that nothing untoward happened on January 6th. Needless to say, these are not the signs of a healthy democracy ready to combat the autocratic tyrants of the world.

“Turns out, things are much worse than we expected,” Daniel Ziblatt, one of the “How Democracies Die” authors, told me this week. He said he had never envisioned a scenario like the one that has played itself out among Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past few months. How could he have? It’s hard to imagine anyone in America, even when “How Democracies Die” was published, a year into Trump’s term, seriously contemplating an American President who would unleash an insurrection in order to steal an election that he clearly lost—and then still commanding the support of his party after doing so.

This is the worrisome essence of the matter. In one alarming survey released this week, nearly thirty per cent of Republicans endorsed the idea that the country is so far “off track” that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” against their political opponents. You don’t need two Harvard professors to tell you that sort of reasoning is just what could lead to the death of a democracy. The implications? Consider the blunt words of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a ruling on a case involving one of the January 6th rioters at the Capitol, issued even as it became clear that Republican senators would move to block the January 6th commission from investigating what had caused the riot:

The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near daily fulminations of the former President.

It’s worth noting that Jackson released this ruling this week, the same week that Trump issued statements calling the 2020 vote “the most corrupt Election in the history of our Country,” touting himself as “the true President,” and warning that American elections are “rigged, corrupt, and stolen.”

Via HuffPo: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski Says Mitch McConnell Is Blocking Jan. 6 Commission For Political Gain.

“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said.

She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear. And one of those is that we have free and fair elections… I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle.”

So, I rather thought this post would be something else than it became as I wrote. Once again, I went down a dark rabbit hole.  We are losing our democracy and our selves in a series of right wing autocratic attempts to make laws and send them to courts stacked with religionists, autocrats, white nationalists, and enablers of patriarchy. Trumpism is radicalizing me. It’s something we must vote against, march against, and speak out against.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: The End of Roe?

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Good Morning!!

Today I want to follow up on what Daknikat wrote yesterday about the Supreme Court and abortion rights. Thanks to all the Bernie Bros and Hillary Haters, we ended up with Donald Trump in 2016, and he was able to appoint three right wing nuts to the Supreme Court.

We could have had the first woman president, and she could have nominated three liberals to the court. But misogyny and anti-Clinton propaganda won Trump enough electoral votes to take the White House even though he lost the popular vote. Now women will face the consequences.

 

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: The Supreme Court Is Taking Direct Aim at Roe v. Wade.

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will reconsider the constitutional prohibition against abortion bans before fetal viability. This decision indicates that the ultra-conservative five-justice majority is prepared to move aggressively against Roe v. Wade rather than tinker around the edges of abortion rights. The court will take on state laws that seek to outlaw abortion at early—and perhaps all—stages of pregnancy. It seems likely that the justices took this case for the express purpose of overturning Roe and allowing the government to enact draconian abortion bans that have been unconstitutional for nearly half a century.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that SCOTUS took up on Monday, is not a subtle threat to Roe. It is, rather, a direct challenge to decades of pro-choice precedent. In 2018, Mississippi passed a law forbidding abortions after 15 weeks. This measure had two purposes: to restrict abortion, yes, but also to contest Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion rights. In Roe and later decisions—most notably Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the Supreme Court held that the Constitution forbids bans on abortion before the fetus has achieved viability. Since there is no doubt that, at 15 weeks, a fetus is not viable, even with the most heroic medical interventions, Mississippi’s law was clearly designed as a vehicle to let SCOTUS reevaluate (and reverse) Roe.

The lower courts understood this plan. Judge James Ho, a very conservative Donald Trump nominee, all but endorsed it when the case came before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Ho urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe—while acknowledging that, as a lower court judge bound by precedent, he could not uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban. Now the justices have vindicated Ho by accepting Mississippi’s invitation. (The court will hear arguments in the case next fall and issue a decision by the summer of 2022.) It is not difficult to guess what will happen next. But it is worth pointing out three reasons why the Supreme Court appears poised to seize upon Dobbs to eviscerate the constitutional right to abortion.

How do we know the conservatives on the Court are planning to reverse Roe v. Wade?

First, there is no split between the lower courts on the question presented in Dobbs. The Supreme Court typically takes up cases that have divided courts of appeals so the justices can provide a definitive answer that applies nationwide. Here, however, no court has claimed that, under current precedent, a state may outlaw abortions at 15 weeks. Even Ho had to admit that binding precedent “establishes viability as the governing constitutional standard.” There is no reason for the Supreme Court to hear Dobbs unless it wants to abolish this standard, which has been the law of the land for almost 50 years.

Abortion by Anil Keshari

Abortion by Anil Keshari

Second, Mississippi gave the justices several options for a more limited ruling; its petition to the court included a question that would’ve let the court modify the standard for abortion restrictions without overtly killing off Roe. But the justices rejected that alternative and agreed to consider the central question in the case: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

This action suggests that the conservative majority is no longer interested in gradually eroding abortion rights until they are, in reality, nonexistent….

Third, and relatedly, Barrett’s impact on this case cannot be understated. Just last summer, the Supreme Court struck down laws targeting abortion clinics in Louisiana by a 5–4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals (with qualifications) to affirm the bottom-line rule that states may not place an “undue burden” on the right to abortion before viability. Less than three months later, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and Trump put Barrett—a foe of abortion rights—in her seat. By doing so, Trump shored up a far-right five-justice majority that, by all appearances, is committed to ending Roe.

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg via The Washington Post: 

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard multiple cases in recent years from states trying to narrow the right to have an abortion, one of the nation’s most contentious issues. The next case is more sweeping than most. With its newly strengthened conservative majority in place, the court has agreed to hear Mississippi’s bid to ban abortion in almost all cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That could mean overturning, or at least gutting, the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide….

The Roe v. Wade decision established that the decision to terminate a pregnancy was a woman’s choice to make in the first trimester, and that the state could regulate abortions only later. In the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in 1992, the Supreme Court revisited the timing issue, saying women have the right to abortion without undue interference before a fetus is viable — that is, capable of living outside the womb. The court didn’t pinpoint when viability occurs but suggested it was around 23 or 24 weeks. In 2018, the Mississippi legislature voted to outlaw most abortions after 15 weeks. The ban, which makes exceptions only in cases of severe fetal abnormality or major health risk to the mother, was challenged by the state’s only abortion facility, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and deemed unconstitutional by a federal district judge and federal appeals court. The state of Mississippi appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that viability is “not an appropriate standard for assessing the constitutionality” of abortion laws….

From Ireland--Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock. Photograph by Alison Laredo, Courtesy the artists

From Ireland–Detail from a marching banner for the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Banner, by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon and Breda Mayock. Photograph by Alison Laredo, Courtesy the artists

Three appointments to the court made by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, have given it a 6-3 conservative majority. And Trump’s last two appointees, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, replaced justices who supported the core right to abortion. If Kavanaugh and Barrett are willing to back Mississippi, abortion opponents might not even need the vote of the sixth conservative, Chief Justice John Roberts….

A decision throwing out the 1992 viability standard could immediately mean tighter abortion restrictions in a number of states. The Guttmacher Institute, which monitors and advocates for abortion rights, counts 16 states that have attempted to ban at least some abortions before viability but have been stopped by a court order.

Leah Litman and Melissa Murray at The Washington Post: Opinion: The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is about to show us its true colors.

On Monday morning, the court agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a case that poses a direct attack on the constitutional right to abortion.

The decision to take the case was unsurprising. President Donald Trump vowed to appoint justices who would overrule Roe v. Wadethe 1973 decision holding that women have a constitutional right to obtain abortions. With Trump’s three historic appointments to the high court, all that opponents of Roe needed was the right vehicle. The Mississippi case gives them just that. It will be heard in the court’s term beginning in October….

It would not be unthinkable for this Supreme Court to use the Mississippi case to jettison Roe and Casey. Although stare decisis and its principle of respect for settled precedents has long been a hallmark of U.S. law, this court has in recent years refused to be bound by established precedents.

Last year, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, two of Trump’s appointees, cast votes to overrule a case that had invalidated a pair of abortion restrictions. The term before that, in another case, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the court was duty-bound to overrule precedents that were “demonstrably erroneous.” In other writings, he has railed against Roe and Casey as perversions of constitutional law. And the court’s newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has, in her academic writing, indicated that she shares Thomas’s ideas about precedents and abortion rights.

Untitled No. 5, Abortion Series, 1998, Paula Rego

Untitled No. 5, Abortion Series, 1998, Paula Rego

Even in cases where the court has not overruled past decisions, it has gone to herculean lengths to limit prior cases, broadly refashioning entire areas of law without explicitly overruling the decisions undergirding those doctrines. And this approach might be what lies ahead for abortion.

Rather than overruling Roe and Casey, the court might say that viability is no longer a meaningful marker for determining when a state may restrict a woman’s right to choose — a decision that would be as consequential as scuttling Roe itself. It could allow states to restrict access to abortion at any point during pregnancy, sharply curtailing reproductive rights as lower courts reconsider the constitutionality of bans on abortion after 12 weeks, 10 weeks or six weeks of pregnancy. Under Roe and Casey, courts easily found all such laws unconstitutional because they prohibited abortions before viability. If the court erases viability’s significance, many abortion restrictions once easily struck down will pose more difficult questions for reviewing courts.

Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

According to The New York Times, anti-abortion activists are celebrating: ‘A Great Sense of Inspiration’: Anti-Abortion Activists Express Optimism.

Anti-abortion activists across the country expressed optimism on Monday that they might be on the cusp of achieving a long-held goal of the movement: overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that extended federal protections for abortion.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday morning that it would consider in its next term a case from Mississippi that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with narrow exceptions….

It is the first abortion case under the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority, and activists expressed hope that this case would be the one to remove federal protections for the procedure. Such a ruling would give the right to regulate abortions at any point in pregnancy back to the states, many of which in the South and Midwest have imposed tough restrictions.

“There’s a great sense of inspiration across the country right now,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “This is the best court we’ve had in my lifetime, and we hope and pray that this is the case to do it.”

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization, called the court’s move “a landmark opportunity to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children,” and noted that state legislatures have introduced hundreds of bills restricting abortion in this legislative season.

At The Daily Beast, Emily Shugerman writes that Biden is being criticized for not doing enough to protect abortion rights: Abortion Is on SCOTUS’ Radar—and Biden Is Getting Heat.

Abortions rights advocates cheered when Joe Biden was elected, heralding his win as a “seismic shift” and a “welcome change.” Now, with the nationwide right to an abortion on the line, they’re getting a little impatient.

After Abortion, by Zois Shuttie

After Abortion, by Zois Shuttie

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would take on a Mississippi case that has the potential to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision making abortion legal across the country. If that happens, nearly half of the U.S. would move to prohibit the procedure, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Advocates see the decision to take on the case as a massive threat to abortion rights—and one Biden may not be taking seriously enough.

“He turned his back on people who have abortions as soon as he got into office,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of the abortion advocacy group We Testify. “What happened this morning at the Supreme Court is what happens when you turn your backs on us and ignore the restrictions we’re facing every single day.”

Pressure on Biden to act more decisively began mounting April 29, when more than 140 organizations called on the administration to prioritize changes to U.S. sexual and reproductive rights law recommended by the United Nations. The day before, nearly 60 women’s rights organizations—including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, which spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect the president—sent a letter to the administration asking them to increase funding for abortion and remove “unnecessary barriers” to access.

“The Biden-Harris administration and Congressional leadership must prioritize these policies for women and women of color,” they wrote, in a letter calling for multiple changes on behalf of American women. “We need to build back better for women and create lasting political, social and economic change.”

Click the link to read the rest.

There is much more news, and I’ll post more links in the comment thread, but to me this is the biggest issue right now. Women are on the verge of losing the rights we have been fighting for since the late 1960s. 

As always, treat this as an open thread.


Friday Reads: What exactly defines a Death Cult?

Zappa.com • View topic - Philo's Fucked Up World {Sarcasm Included}

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m old enough to have a clear memory of Jonestown and the suicide massacre that happened in Guyana in November, 1978. The shocking cult massacre has been documented in movies, books, and periodicals. So what exactly is a Death Cult and can an argument be made that MAGA is exactly that?

This brief history and bit of insight of Jonestown is from The Rolling Stone and was written by David Chiu in 2018. Drinking the Koolaid was then introduced into the American Lexicon as the willingness of people enrapt of a charismatic cult leader to do anything in his name. It is terrifically affiliated with the ideal of the white savior.

People have wondered how Jim Jones, a man who preached racial and social equality, turned evil. But as Tim Reiterman explained in Raven, Jones’ dark qualities – his need to control people, his deceit, and his anger toward people who betray or abandon him – could be traced to his childhood in Indiana. A loner during his youth, Jim would entertain his playmates in the loft of his family’s barn and made them his captive audience (one time, he even locked up his young friends in the barn). He performed experiments on animals and conducted funerals for them.

“I thought Jimmy was a really weird kid,” Jones’ childhood friend Chuck Wilmore recalled in the 2006 documentary Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. “He was obsessed with religion; he was obsessed with death. A friend of mine told me that he saw Jimmy kill a cat with a knife.” According to Jeff Guinn’s book, The Road to Jonestown, Jones also had an early fascination with Adolf Hitler. “When Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, thwarting enemies who sought to capture and humiliate him, Jimmy was impressed,” he wrote.

TIME Magazine Cover: Jonestown Deaths - Dec. 4, 1978 - Religion ...

Sound like any one we know today?

Remember The Branch Davidians and David Koresh? That was certainly more complex than any one understood at the time. How about Heaven’s Gate? That one was a combination of alien conspiracy theories wrapped up in the doomsday prepper culture. It’s difficult to understand how people get wrapped up in these things but they do and they mostly just taking the lemming path over the cliff eventually. And that’s what worries me today.

This Covid-19 Pandemic has brought the tendency to police other people as well as subscribe to some kind of wild proposition that an unseen magical being will save you and no one else. These people also imbue Trump with some kind of papal infallibility which is again, worrying. The combination of evangelical magical thinking and the white rage accompanying Trumpism during a global pandemic should worry us all.

Take this church and pastor in East Baton Roughe, Louisiana, please! “Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness, but pastor says it’s a lie”. This is from the Baton Rouge Advocate as reported by staff writer David J. MItchell.

A 78-year-old man who attended a Central church that has bucked state stay-at-home restrictions has died from the illness tied to the novel coronavirus.

The East Baton Rouge Parish coroner said Harold Orillion, a parish resident, died from the COVID-19 respiratory illness on Wednesday. Three sources told The Advocate that Orillion had ties to the Life Tabernacle Church. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a link between the man and the church.

The Rev. Tony Spell, the church’s pastor, did not return messages left Thursday about Orillion after the coroner released his death information following a public records request from The Advocate. Spell later in the day confirmed to television stations WAFB and WVLA that Orillion was a parishioner in good standing.

Spell also disputed that Orillion’s death was due to the virus, despite the coroner’s determination. “That is a lie,” Spell told WAFB.

The Columbus Dispatch photo of an anti-social-distancing protest went viral this week. (Joshua A. Bickel/AP)

And here’s the kicker:

Spell’s fight against the order, along with a handful of other religious leaders nationally against similar restrictions, has attracted worldwide attention. He has been charged with six misdemeanor counts of violating Edwards’ orders.

Spell, who has faced criticism over his stand, has made several provocative comments about the virus and the resulting controversy, including telling TMZ that true Christians do not mind dying from the virus but from “fear living in fear, cowardice of their convictions.”

While many houses of worship have converted to online services, Spell maintains that in-person services are essential to his congregation’s faith and financial well-being.

C'mon - Drink the Kool aid - Trust me! - Imgflip

And then of course this: “Louisiana pastor holding services during pandemic asks people to donate stimulus checks to evangelists”. (Via The Hill)

A Louisiana pastor who has drawn criticism for holding in-person church services despite coronavirus guidelines is asking people to donate their stimulus checks to evangelists who “haven’t had an offering in a month.”

In a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, the Rev. Tony Spell called on the public to get behind a new online challenge he is dubbing the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge.

There are three rules to the challenge, Spell said in the video. The first rule is that it starts on Sunday. The second, he said, is for people to “donate your stimulus money.”

“Rule number three,” he continued, is to “donate it to evangelists, North American evangelists who haven’t had an offering in a month; missionaries, who haven’t had an offering in a month; music ministers, who haven’t had an offering in a month.”

“I’m donating my entire stimulus, $1,200,” Spell added. “My wife is donating her stimulus, $1,200. My son is donating his stimulus, $600.”

Individuals with income under $75,000 and married couples with income less than $150,000 can receive the full amounts of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under legislation signed into law last month by President Trump.

Spell’s comments come as churches across the country have either closed their doors or moved their services online in efforts to comply with stay-at-home orders issued by states and federal guidelines urging people to avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings exceeding 10 people amid the pandemic.

Baton Rouge area pastor defies governor, welcomes large gathering ...

Yes, he continues to violate the law. (via CNN) This was as of April 1st.

When asked why he will not follow the governor’s mandate, he said, “We have a mandate from the word of the Lord to assemble together. The first amendment says that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion.”

Spell said officers came to him Tuesday and read him his rights, but didn’t arrest him. He said he he was asked to stop having services and he told them that he would not stop.

“We aren’t breaking any laws,” Spell insisted.

Earlier in the day, in a Facebook Live video, after being served the summons at his church by two police officers, he maintained his defiant stance.

“We will continue to have church,” he said. “This is a government overreach. They are asking us as a government to stop practicing our freedom of religion. And we have a mandate from God to assemble and to gather together and to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Fool Aid - Donald Trump - Sticker | TeePublic

But, he let’s not stop with my local example but head straight to the DeVos Death Cult and its relentless support of the Mad King in the Oval office. The wacky white neoconfederate followers of the Orange Koolaid are out there trying to kill us over what they consider government overreach. And of course, they’ve focused on a Woman Governor, Christine Whitmer. (Via NBC News)

Asked about the protests at his press conference Thursday, one in which he unveiled his administration’s guidelines for reopening, President Donald Trump said he believed the demonstrators would listen to him and added there is no daylight between his views and the governors when it comes to reopening.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” Trump said of the protestors. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors. They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut but they want to open safely. So do I.”

The protests have had a tea party flavor to them, with demonstrators carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” gear. Some have even waved Confederate flags.

“I’m only surprised they can tear themselves away from Rush Limbaugh long enough to go protest,” Philippe Reines, a former top adviser to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, told NBC News.

Critics say they’re angry with the shutdowns, which have curtailed business and leisure activity in the name of a deadly virus they say hasn’t hit their neck of the woods. But health experts have warned it won’t take much for a relatively unaffected place to become a hot spot, as just one infected person is able to spread the virus to dozens of others.

Susan J. Demas writing for the Michigan Advance: “Don’t whitewash the GOP’s extremism on full display during Whitmer protest.”

We were promised it wasn’t a Republican protest. We were promised people were just upset they couldn’t golf or buy seeds (in stores) during a pandemic that’s already killed 2,000 of their neighbors.

But the folks trekking to Michigan’s Capitol Wednesday weren’t carrying rakes or watering cans or cute pun-filled signs about the right to garden (which still would have been ironic, since it was snowing). No, they brought Confederate and Donald Trump flags, AR-15s and a Gov. Gretchen Whitmer doll in a noose.

“She’s the reason we need the 2nd amendment!” multiple people shouted from their cars.

The Michigan Militia showed up to do a recruitment push. The Proud Boys were there. A few hundred people left their cars — even though we were repeatedly assured they’d follow social distancing rules — and strolled down the street with misspelled signs like “Heil Witmer” (replete with a backwards swastika) and clustered together on the Capitol steps for photos. Several pushed conspiracy theories that COVID-19 wasn’t real and insisted they couldn’t get it anyway by violating simple federal health guidelines (nobody volunteered any medical credentials to make such claims). Many brought their kids.

Ambulances couldn’t get through traffic. Who knows how many gas station clerks, restaurant workers, police and reporters protestors encountered and possibly spread the virus to.

It’s important to pull back for a moment. The policies Whitmer and 42 other governors have put in place to stop a pandemic have been carefully crafted by public health officials. It’s not that they want to be a buzzkill or kill the economy (seriously, no politician wants that, just out of sheer self-preservation). It’s because the disease has spread so rapidly and killed so many. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

With almost 30,000 COVID-19 cases, Michigan has the fourth-most in the nation. But the protestors didn’t even do a feint to acknowledging the 2,000 people who have lost their lives or the families they left behind. It was just primal screams against the Democratic governor and calls for Trump to make everything great again.

For a party that’s ostensibly dedicated to the sanctity of life, Republicans have repeatedly and flagrantly demonstrated how little they care about their neighbors dying of an excruciating disease that can feel like shards of glass have filled your lungs.

Where is the humanity?

Trump: He's Just Like Us! | The Nib

Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast has an explanation: “Trump’s Culture Warriors Are a Literal Death Cult Now”.

You know where this is headed, right? We all know. Donald Trump and the Republicans are going to turn the election into a red vs. blue culture war battle—not over abortion, not over climate change, not over guns, but this time, over death itself.

Because death is every authoritarian’s last play. An authoritarian leader makes demands of his people. They must cheer more lustily than non-authoritarian people cheer. They must salute in a particular way. They must exonerate him of all error, whether stupidly invading Russia or massively screwing up a pandemic response or shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. And finally, they must prove they are willing to at least flirt with death, if the leader’s hold on power requires it. It’s the final demand on loyalty, and every authoritarian gets there eventually, in one way or another, even those forced to operate within democratic contexts.

Thus, the question of the 2020 election, as Trump and his party attempt to frame it: Are you manly enough to sneer at death, like real men do in the movies (which are fake, of course, but never mind that), or are you one of those pusillanimous patsies who quivers under the bed sheets like some avocado toast-eating intellectual, whining that we have to listen to the experts?

kool-aid

Jason Williams of The Guardian has the details on what shadowy groups and characters are funding this craziness.

On Wednesday in Lansing, Michigan, a protest put together by two Republican-connected not-for-profits was explicitly devised to cause gridlock in the city, and for a time blocked the entrance to a local hospital.

It was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which Michigan state corporate filings show has also operated under the name of Michigan Trump Republicans. It was also heavily promoted by the Michigan Freedom Fund, a group linked to the Trump cabinet member Betsy DeVos.

But the protest also attracted far-right protest groups who have been present at pro-Trump and gun rights rallies in Michigan throughout the Trump presidency.

Placards identified the Michigan Proud Boys as participants in the vehicle convoy. Near the state house, local radio interviewed a man who identified himself as “Phil Odinson”.

In fact the man is Phil Robinson, the prime mover in a group called the Michigan Liberty Militia, whose Facebook page features pictures of firearms, warnings of civil war, celebrations of Norse paganism and memes ultimately sourced from white nationalist groups like Patriot Front.

The pattern of rightwing not-for-profits promoting public protests while still more radical groups use lockdown resistance as a platform for extreme rightwing causes looks set to continue in events advertised in other states over coming days.

In Idaho on Friday, protesters plan to gather at the capitol building in Boise to protest anti-virus restrictions put in place by the Republican governor, Brad Little.

The protest has been heavily promoted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), which counts among its donors “dark money” funds linked to the Koch brothers such as Donors Capital Fund, and Castle Rock, a foundation seeded with part of the fortune of Adolph Coors, the rightwing beer magnat

It’s definitely worth the read. The usual list of icky suspects with money an icky suspects with guns and white nationalists tendencies are all there in the list.

So, this isn’t the most pleasant topic to end the week on but I’ll I can say is “the more you know”.

Don’t you know her when you see her?
She grew up in your back yard
Come back to us Barbara Lewis
Hare Krishna Beauregard

Selling bibles at the airports
Buying Quaalude’s on the phone
Hey, you talk about, a paper route
She’s a shut in without a home

Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard (1975) lyrics and music by John Prine.

Be safe! Be well! Stay home!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Animal Farm

It’s difficult not to think about what the current state of affairs means in terms of the celebration of Independence Day as we head into Fourth of July Festivities.  Our country was born of the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson–who wrote the document proclaiming US Independence–was an amateur scientist and philosopher.  He might be considered the ideal Renaissance man if he had also found a way to support his causes and lifestyle with employees instead of slaves.

There’s always been this dark side to the American Dream and there have been many people throughout history who have fought those inclinations. It’s been a slow climb from the idea that we all are created equal to getting to a society that actually lives that value. The climb continues.

Why is it so difficult to treat one another with the respect and dignity we each deserve?

The Republican leadership and Administration is based on the most vulgar, salacious, and base motivations we’ve witnessed since Andrew Jackson was committing mass genocide on human beings he considered “savages” and since a group of people considered the nation’s black Americans to be not wholly human.  They deemed all folks with African descent to be precisely 3/5ths human.  All of this was done in the name of the same religion that tortures our better angels today.

The cognitive dissonance is simply mind boggling.  Today, Ahvaz Iran has reached an almost unheard of temperature of 129.  It’s one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. 

Another weather source, the Weather Underground, said Ahvaz hit 129.2 degrees Thursday afternoon. The heat index, which also takes humidity into account, hit an incredible 142 degrees.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Ahvaz on Friday is for “cooler” weather, with a high of only 119 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

The official all-time world record temperature remains the 134-degree temperature measured at Death Valley, Calif, on July 10, 1913. However, some experts say that temperature isn’t reliable. Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt said in 2016 that such an extreme temperature was “not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

Scorching heat is one of the most expected outcomes of man-made climate change, according to a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change.

The prestigious magazine  Science published a study estimating the economic cost of climate change to the US economy.  It’s not pretty.  You can read the fully study at the link.  This is its Abstract.

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

Meanwhile, the man responsible for the EPA–professional whackadoodle Scott Pruitt–launches  program to ‘critique’ climate science.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

But another person attending the meeting said Pruitt resisted committing to a full-scale challenge of the 2009 finding. The administration source also said Pruitt “did not promise to try to rescind the endangerment finding.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Other evidence that there is no sign of intelligent life in the majority of Republicans are  these doozies:

Trump Administration Appoints Anti-Transgender Activist To Gender Equality Post

“To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” wrote the new senior adviser for women’s empowerment at USAID.

Oh, and this one.

White House council for women and girls goes dark under Trump

The administration is evaluating whether to keep the office, created under President Barack Obama to focus on gender equality

I agree with Ezra Klein on this: “It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct. It’s depressing. But it’s true.”  These people are motivated by greed and feeding a group of religious zealots who think Eve is the root of all evil and any one not pristine white carries the stain of sin.

Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page, is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill. “Paying for a massive tax cut for the wealthy with cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans is morally reprehensible,” he says.

“If Republicans want to confirm every liberal caricature of conservatism in a single piece of legislation, they could do no better than vote on the GOP bill in its current form.”

But at what point do we admit that this isn’t the liberal caricature of conservatism? It’s just … conservatism.

Though Republicans had long promised the country a repeal-and-replace plan that offered better coverage at lower cost, the House GOP’s health care bill cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It was widely criticized and polled terribly.

Senate Republicans responded by releasing a revised health care bill that also cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It has also been widely criticized, and it also is polling terribly.

Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of covering everyone with better health insurance than they get now, has endorsed both bills.

Republicans, in other words, have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.6 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts go to households making more than $875,000.)

Fundamentalism of all sorts has always been the basis of the evil done by this country.  Republicans are feeding it.

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Paul Krugman is more succinct.  He calls it Republican ‘cruelty’. It is exactly that.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

Because they can and because they love power and money.  Their mega-rich donors will shower them in both.

I think we can forever ask ourselves the big question of why do these uneducated white people continually fall for it?  The answer is that their life basically sucks and they’re doing what ever they can to feel better about it. Religion and Republicans give them a feeling of superiority based on the only thing they have: the identity birth gave them.  Every one is paying an awful price for that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Tuesday is Independence Day if we can keep it.