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.
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.”
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 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.”
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:
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.”
“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?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Losing the Supreme court to radical religionists is the fruit of the evil Republican tree of base pandering. I can’t help but think we may see the demise of the NRA and could possibly see movement on laws ridding the system of dark money and the influence of billionaires with agendas. However, the fact we have so many religious extremists on the court now may mean fights long fought and won will be taken to the streets again.
The system of court appointments was radically played by Mitch McConnell and no amount of precedent is going deter these radicals he placed on the court. The Doctrine of stare decisis is one of the most traditionally conservative ideals in our system. The fact it was ignored this term and will likely be ignored next term should make Senator Collins feel like Benedict Arnold.
Mississipi is nearly last in everything good and first in everything bad including infant mortality. So, why not increase that infant mortality rate a lot by restricting abortions after 15 weeks when a lot could still go very wrong with a pregnancy? Also, medical science does not consider a beating heart to be a sign of sentient life. Ask any 6th grader who can get dead frog’s heart to beat with a few hits of that crazy new modern invention electricity!
This is from Robert Barnes writing for The Washington Post: “Supreme Court to review Mississippi abortion law that advocates see as a path to diminish Roe v. Wade.”
The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will review a restrictive Mississippi abortion law that opponents of the procedure say provides a clear path to diminish Roe v. Wade’s establishment of the right of women to choose an abortion.
Abortion opponents for months have urged the court’s conservatives to seize the chance to reexamine the 1973 precedent. Mississippi is one among many Republican-led states that have passed restrictions that conflict with the court’s precedents protecting a woman’s right to choose before fetal viability.
In accepting the case, the court said it would examine whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” That has been a key component of the court’s jurisprudence.
The Mississippi law would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities. It has not gone into effect because a district federal judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said that it could not be squared with decades of Supreme Court precedents.
“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote for the appeals court. “States may regulate abortion procedures before viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right but they may not ban abortions.”
The court has now accepted for the term that begins in October two issues dear to conservatives: gun rights and the ability of states to restrict abortion. It is what they had hoped for once the court reached a 6-to-3 conservative majority with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative nominated by President Donald Trump.
Get ready for the reality of Handmaid’s Tale.
The Vox tweet above links to an article written by Ian Millhiser. I cringe reading the words “biggest threat” and realize they’ve used a woman to bring us down.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. That means that Dobbs will be the first abortion case to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation last October.
Barrett is an outspoken opponent of abortion, and she joined a Court that almost certainly already had five votes to roll back abortion rights before her confirmation gave Republicans a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court.
Last June, four justices voted to uphold a Louisiana anti-abortion law that was virtually identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts cast a surprising vote in that June case, June Medical Services v. Russo, to strike down Louisiana’s law. But Roberts’s opinion emphasized that he disagreed with many of the Court’s seminal abortion rights decisions, and that he only voted the way he did in June Medical out of respect for the principle that the Court should not simply ignore a ruling that it handed down just a few years earlier.
With Barrett on the Court, the four dissenters in June Medical no longer need Roberts’s vote to make significant incursions on reproductive freedom. And the legal issue in Dobbs is sufficiently distinct from the one in June Medical that Roberts is unlikely to vote with his liberal colleagues again on those grounds.
The legal issue in Dobbs is straightforward. A2018Mississippi law prohibits all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, “except in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality.” Notably, this law applies even before thefetus is viable — meaning that it is capable of surviving outside the uterus. But, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed, “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.”
I’m finally linking to The Bulwark which is something I thought I’d never do. Politics make strange bedfellows indeed. “The GOP’s Telltale Signs of Authoritarianism.”
Having been established as the GOP’s undisputed ruler, Trump is encountering some of the headaches and tensions common to all autocrats. The first and most obvious is the lack of a clear succession principle. In 2020, the party proudly defined itself as an organization devoted to Trump, forgoing the creation of a party platform beyond ‘We ❤ Trump.’ No wonder other notables who would seem to have their own independent bases of support, like Nikki Haley and Sen. Mitch McConnell, can’t bring themselves to quit him, and dissidents like Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger face de facto excommunication. How could any of them make a claim to become the new leader of the party if the party only exists to serve the current leader? Because actively opposing Trump is impossible, Republicans with presidential ambitions have no choice but to ingratiate themselves with him in the hope of gaining an advantageous position in the squabble for his endorsement should he choose not to run.
Another issue common to both authoritarian regimes and the Trump-era Republican party is the paucity of trustworthy, honest information. Most autocrats struggle to figure out who is telling them the truth and who is a yes-man—the incentives of lower-level officials to inflate their success to their superiors are infamous. Trump embraces the problem, eschewing anyone who dares to give him bad news.
And then, of course, there’s the brain drain. One of the problems of strangling and restricting a society for political expediency is that there are always other options. The people with the most human capital—extraordinary abilities, intelligence, skills, etc.—are the most likely to defect. The Soviet Union and its allies leaked talent at an extraordinary rate. Judging by how many former Republican luminaries have publicly broken with Trump, the Republican party, or both, its brain drain could be even quicker.
The Republican party has shed many of its legal, economic, foreign policy, and political experts—the very people who enabled it to govern. Its new leading legal light is Rudy Giuliani. Its foreign policy guru is . . . maybe Sen. Rand Paul? (Sorry, Mike Pompeo.) Its most accomplished economist is Larry Kudlow.
Republicans are blinding by superstitions and lies. The Guardian caught one congress critter in a doozy of a lie. “Photo emerges of Republican barricading chamber doors during US Capitol attack after he compared rioters to ‘tourists’. ‘Do Georgians always barricade doors against normal, everyday tourists?’ one critic asked.”
A photo has emerged of Andrew Clyde, the Republican congressman who claimed “there was no insurrection” and compared US Capitol rioters to “tourists”, barricading the House chamber during the attack.
“The Rep. Clyde news reminded me of this,” Roll Call photographer Tom Williams tweeted this week, and included a picture of the Georgia congressman in a group of eight men pushing a piece of furniture against doors to the chamber.
Speaking on Wednesday to the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Clyde downplayed the actions of the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol on 6 January as “a normal tourist visit”. The violent attack left five dead including one police officer.
“As one of the members who stayed in the Capitol, and on the House floor, who with other Republican colleagues helped barricade the door until almost 3pm from the mob who tried to enter, I can tell you the House floor was never breached and it was not an insurrection,” Mr Clyde told the committee.
“It was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful.”
Mr Clyde’s remarks were lambasted by lawmakers and law enforcement experts. Fred Wellman, the executive director of the Lincoln Project and a former commanding officer of US forces in Iraq, wrote: “How craven is Rep. Clyde to say there was no insurrection?”
“He helped barricade the doors from the ‘tourists.’ They know lying to the MAGA mob equals money. That’s all that matters.”
Also issuing a retort, House speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to death threats against her and former vice president Mike Pence, during a press conference on Wednesday.
It’s really difficult to keep up with all the lies and even more difficult to understand the people that believe them. Republicanism and Religion are helluva drugs to paraphrase Rick James. Well, that’s enough of shining light on the politically insane. I’m off to use Dial soap to get rid of the stupid cooties.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I woke up to electricity and drinkable water in the faucet so it’s a good day down here in New Orleans. That still doesn’t mean we’re not living in a Banana Republic these days. Folks are taking to the streets today in support of women and their doctors jointly deciding what health care is required. We also have a series of court cases on deck for refusal to do right by House Subpoenas.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women’s March, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other groups are organizing nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday to protest the wave of new state laws banning abortion.
The “extreme bans on abortion [are] stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access,” the groups said on the “Stop The Bans” protest website.
Former White House Counsel Don McGahn defied a congressional subpoena Tuesday by declining to testify before the House Judiciary Committee at the direction of the White House.
The hearing room chair reserved for McGahn sat empty behind microphones, as committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York opened the scheduled hearing.
“This conduct is not remotely acceptable,” Nadler said, referring to the White House’s instruction to McGahn not to appear. “Let me be clear: This committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it.”
“We will hold this president accountable — one way or the other,” Nadler said.
The New York Democrat had warned in a letter to McGahn late Monday night, “The committee has made clear that you risk serious consequences if you do not appear tomorrow.” The committee could hold McGahn in contempt.
The call for starting an impeachment inquiry is building as House Dems met in a closed meeting with Speaker Pelosi (Via Politico).
House Democratic leaders sparred internally on Monday over whether to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies rejecting the call to move forward for now, according to multiple sources.
Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Joe Neguse of Colorado — all members of Democratic leadership — pushed to begin impeachment proceedings during a leadership meeting in Pelosi’s office, said the sources. Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Cheri Bustos of Illinois — some of her key allies — rejected their calls, saying Democrats’ message is being drowned out by the fight over possibly impeaching Trump.
Raskin — a former law professor — said he wasn’t advocating impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move forward with their legislative agenda.
Pelosi dismissed this argument, asking Raskin whether he wanted to shut down the other five committees working on Trump investigations in favor of the Judiciary Committee.
“You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi quipped, referring to the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.
And in a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee stood up and demanded Trump’s impeachment. Pelosi then countered, “This is not about politics, it’s about what’s best for the American people,” said a member who attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Russian Potted Plant in the White House and his saplings continue to say they will fight all subpoenas. Let’s see how this works out as an appeal for yesterday’s court action will cross the desk of Judge Merrick Garland.
President Donald Trump’s attorneys have vowed to appeal Monday’s decision in favor of a House committee seeking his financial records, but people on Twitter were thrilled about where the case will end up.
“We will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told Politico.
Senate Republicans stalled the nomination, refusing to vote or even hold a hearing until after the presidential election. Trump won and appointed Neil Gorsuch instead, which meant Garland remained on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he could now play a role in the looming showdown between the president and House Democrats.
Cases are heard by panels of three judges randomly assigned, so Garland is not necessarily going to hear the appeal (unless the decision is reviewed by the full court). But, the irony of the situation was not lost on Twitter users:
In a pre-Trumpian world, this sequence of events would set off a political crisis. In the surreal landscape we inhabit, it barely registers. But it is worth noting that Trump continues to commit impeachable offenses at an unprecedented pace. Last night’s threats to make good on his “lock them up” promises are merely one more in another recent flurry. The space between Trump’s long-standing authoritarian rhetoric and the deployment of his powers of office is slowly collapsing on several fronts.
Consider some of the events of recent days. Sunday, the New York Timesrevealed that Deutsche Bank’s internal investigators raised concerns that the portfolios of Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner involved money laundering. Trump is suing Deutsche Bank to block it from complying with congressional investigators. The notion that the president is entitled to engage in red-flagged dealings with money launderers, and conceal it from Congress and the public, is a wild transgression of transparency norms.
The same day, the Times reported Trump is preparing pardons for several American war criminals. Trump has long fantasized about war crimes and human-rights violations as part of his idealized military, from repeating a fantasized historical account of General Pershing shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood to proposing that the United States seize Iraqi oil as spoils of war. His prospective pardoning of war criminals are steps toward institutionalizing this vision as de facto law.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Michael Cohen told a closed House panel that Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, encouraged him to lie to Congress in 2017. Cohen’s lie concerned his handling of a deal to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow. The subject of the lie is itself a massive scandal: Vladimir Putin, who habitually corrupts foreign politicians with bribes disguised as lucrative deals, was dangling a contract worth several hundred million dollars, with no financial risk or downside to Trump.
Cohen has testified that Trump encouraged him to lie by repeating, in his characteristic mobster code — “There’s no Russia” — a cover story both men knew to be false. (Trump of course signed the letter of intent for the Moscow Project.) The new report shows that Sekulow was involved in crafting his false testimony, and that, far from the president’s lawyer freelance ordering perjury, Cohen understood Trump to be working through Sekulow:
Marcy Wheeler is on fire about this. It’s not taking folks long to notice that the RNC wrote a big fat check to McGahn’s law firm. So, inquiring minds would naturally jump to a quid pro quo …
We also know that there are likely good reasons for Trump to be furiously trying to bury any attempt to get his full tax records. This is from WAPO and Catherine Rampell.
When you look at the short span of President Trump’s political career, one question jumps out: How much of his craziest, most paranoid and norm-violating behavior is motivated by a desire to keep his financial arrangements secret?
It began with Trump’s bizarre refusal to release his tax returns, in defiance of both a nearly half-century practice and Trump’s own promise that he’d do so.
Then there was his refusal to divest from his sprawling multinational empire, or even put it into a blind trust — either of which would have forced at least some information disclosure to a third party.
Also, his curious personnel priorities. Once it became clear that House Democrats would exercise their explicit statutory authority to get Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service, Trump asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to prioritize confirmation of Trump’s IRS general counsel nominee ahead of confirmation of a new attorney general. This IRS general counsel pick, mind you, also happened to have previously advised the Trump Organization on tax issues.
Trump’s treasury secretary has also been spending so much time safeguarding Trump’s tax returns, in violation of that explicit statute, that the activity is reportedly crowding out his day job.
All of which raises the question: Why exactly is Trump (and the rest of his administration) expending so much energy and political capital to keep these documents hidden? What could possibly be so disturbing or incriminating to justify such an effort?
One theory is that, maybe, if Trump’s tax returns or other financial records become public, his supporters would learn that he’s not nearly as rich as he says. Another is that his finances are not exactly on the up and up.
Of course, both explanations could be true.
Go read the rest for more on Don the Con. Meanwhile, enjoy some Leslie Dracarys Jones.
So, this is plenty to read and think about today. I’m still trying to rest my eyes while keeping up with things. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Even as we worry about Trump and Bolton starting a war with Iran and about the Democrats refusing to follow the Impeachment road map provided by Robert Mueller, American women must face the fact that our very personhood is being attacked.
Personally, I have decided that I will not vote for any man for president. The right of women to make decisions about our own bodies is too important.
Here’s the latest on the War on Women:
Missouri’s Senate has passed what its authors call one of the nation’s most stringent anti-abortion bills, which would outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.
The Republican-led Senate passed the bill, dubbed Missouri Stands With The Unborn, by a margin of 24 to 10 early Thursday morning….
Missouri’s move comes hours after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that would introduce a near-total abortion ban in that state. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
Louisiana is following suit with its own “heartbeat” abortion ban, which was approved unopposed by the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.
Abortion right activists are mobilizing in Alabama. The Washington Post: Governor signs Alabama abortion ban, which has galvanized support on both sides, setting up a lengthy fight.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As a crop duster with a banner saying “Abortion is okay” hummed above the capitol, circling back and forth around the governor’s mansion, a group of women below let out a cheer.
“Just another day in Alabama,” said Mia Raven, director of People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment and Rights (POWER) House. “We knew this would pass and we got ready.”
Amanda Reyes, who works with an abortion fund, was wearing an “I’m on the pill” T-shirt, complete with instructions printed on the back detailing how to get a medical abortion. She also looked skyward: “Here it comes again! That’s just the coolest thing.”
Hours after the Alabama Senate voted late Tuesday to ban abortions in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest — women’s rights activists and abortion rights advocates said the decision to approve the nation’s strictest abortion measure has energized them. Knowing that the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, they are gearing up for the fight.
The Washington Post: Louisiana ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban nearing final passage.
BATON ROUGE, La. — A proposal to ban abortions in Louisiana as early as the sixth week of pregnancy continued to speed through the state legislature Wednesday, the same day Alabama’s governor signed the nation’s most restrictive law against the procedure.
Without objection, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee backed legislation to prohibit abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, similar to laws passed in several conservative states that are aimed at challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Louisiana’s ban, however, only would take effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi.
Louisiana’s so-called fetal “heartbeat bill” is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. Senators already have supported the bill, which will next receive full House consideration, one step from final passage. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he will sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
The New York Times sums up the current abortion landscape: ‘The Time Is Now’: States Are Rushing to Restrict Abortion, or to Protect It.
States across the country are passing some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in decades, deepening the growing divide between liberal and conservative states and setting up momentous court battles that could profoundly reshape abortion access in America….
The national race to pass new legislation began last fall, after President Trump chose Brett M. Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, adding what some predicted would be a fifth vote to uphold new limits on abortion. Red states rushed to pass more restrictions and blue states to pass protections.
Now, as state legislative sessions draw to a close in many places, experts count about 30 abortion laws that have passed so far.
That is not necessarily more than in past years, said Elizabeth Nash, a legal expert at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.
What’s different is the laws themselves, which have gone further than ever to frontally challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that established federal protections for abortion.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Interestingly, these extreme laws could be interfering with right wing plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Even Pat Robertson thinks the Alabama law is too “extreme.” The Washington Post: Televangelist Pat Robertson: Alabama’s abortion ban is ‘extreme’ and has ‘gone too far.’
Longtime televangelist Pat Robertson decried Alabama’s new abortion ban as “extreme,” saying on his show on Wednesday that the state legislature has “gone too far.”
Alabama’s law, which has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions and has no exceptions for rape or incest, Robertson noted on his show.
“They want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is I don’t think that’s the case I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” Robertson told viewers of CBN’s “The 700 Club” on Wednesday.
David G. Savage at The Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court is not eager to overturn Roe vs. Wade — at least not soon.
The Supreme Court justices will meet behind closed doors Thursday morning and are expected to debate and discuss — for the 14th time — Indiana’s appeal of court rulings that have blocked a law to prohibit certain abortions.
The high court’s action — or so far, nonaction — in Indiana’s case gives one clue as to how the court’s conservative majority will decide the fate of abortion bans recently passed by lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed her state’s ban into law on Wednesday.
Lawmakers in those states have said they approved the bans in an effort to force the high court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The justices have many ways to avoid such a sweeping ruling, however. And Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his 14 years on the high court, has typically resisted moving quickly to decide major controversies or to announce abrupt, far-reaching changes in the law.
Roberts’ history, along with the court’s handling of abortion cases in recent years, suggests he will not move to overturn the right to abortion soon, or all at once, and is particularly unlikely to do so in the next year or two with a presidential election pending.
At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick makes a similar argument: Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan.
One could feel sorry for Chief Justice John Roberts. He is, after all, caught in an unsightly squeeze play between anti-abortion zealots in Alabama, and slightly less wild-eyed anti-abortion zealots in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana (the court seems unable to make a decision on whether to grant the Indiana petition it has been sitting on for months now). There’s finally a five-justice majority within striking distance of a decades-long dream to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the anti-choice activists are getting ahead of themselves like slurring drunks at a frat party and making everything more transparently nasty than it need be.
There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the real goal of three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.
Read the rest at Slate.
(Mostly) male legislators are ignoring the realities of actual women’s lives.
When Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, for example, was asked if the law would allow for incest victims to obtain abortions, he responded: “Yes, until she knows she’s pregnant.”
He did not elaborate on how someone would have an abortion before she knows she’s pregnant, outside of claiming, “It takes time for all the chromosomes to come together.”
Women’s bodies, lives, and futures are quite literally in the hands of men who seemingly couldn’t pass a high school health class. That’s part of what’s so hard about watching these debates: It’s not just that women’s rights and autonomy are being legislated away, but that it’s being done by complete morons.
This lack of remedial understanding of women’s bodies is not limited to Alabama. Representative John Becker of Ohio, a Republican, for example, sponsored a bill to limit insurance coverage for abortions, but claimed that it would have an exception for ectopic pregnancies, when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. “That treatment would be removing the embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus,” he said, explaining a procedure that doesn’t exist and isn’t medically possible.
There is also Texas state Representative Dan Flynn, a Republican, who believes abortion requires cutting into a woman’s uterus, or Vito Barbieri, the Idaho state Representative, a Republican, who thought you could give a woman a remote gynecological exam by having her swallow a tiny camera.
Shannon Dingle at USA Today: I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama’s abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.
I was that 11-year-old pregnant by rape in Ohio, except I had just turned 12 and lived in Florida….She is 11. She has experienced and is experiencing violating trauma. Maybe someday she will tell her story, but today is not that day.
I can tell my story, though. I was newly 12. I lived in a suburb of Tampa. I had gotten my period a couple years before, and it came regularly once it started. I knew to expect it every 32 days.
It was July, the summer between sixth and seventh grade, when days 33, 34, 35 and more passed with no period. I had read in one of my sister’s Seventeen magazines that periods aren’t always regular, so I figured this was my first one of those.
It wasn’t….I never chose to have sex at such a young age, but abusers in my family chose to rape me. I had lost count of the number of times by then. With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff’s office, I didn’t trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere, either.
Please go read the rest if you haven’t already.
Women and girls in the U.S. are in real danger. For me this is the number one issue for women in the upcoming presidential election.
As always, this is an open thread.