Tuesday Reads: Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

The Four Justices, Nelson Shanks, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Good Morning!!

Last night thug “president” Trump did his ridiculous PT Barnum act with his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace Anthony Kennedy. Supposedly, Trump was deciding among about four candidates, but it turns out the fix may have been in all along.

Has any other president made a deal with a Supreme Court Justice to appoint a chosen replacement?

From Politico: How a private meeting with Kennedy helped Trump get to ‘yes’ on Kavanaugh.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk….

So even as Trump dispatched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rulings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush family, potentially a fatal flaw, the president was always leaning toward accepting Kennedy’s partiality for Kavanaugh while preserving the secret until his formal announcement, sources with knowledge of his thinking told POLITICO.

I’m sure we’ll be learning more about this, and I hope Democrats respond aggressively.

Basic background on Kavenaugh

NBC News: Who is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh?

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick is no stranger to partisan politics: Before becoming a judge, he was helping make the case for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and later for the election of George W. Bush.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh

Twenty years ago, Kavanaugh’s story starts amid the highly politicized independent counsel investigation into Clinton. He worked for Starr as a young Yale Law graduate, first when Kenneth Starr was solicitor general and later in the Office of the Independent Counsel, where Kavanaugh was a key player in the slew of investigations into the Clintons, including the Whitewater scandal, the suicide of White House counsel Vincent Foster and Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The Starr Report to Congress laid out the details of Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair and findings of potential wrongdoing by the president. Kavanaugh was the primary author of the section on the grounds for possible impeachment, Starr would reportedly later say,because “that needed to be very carefully crafted, so I was looking to one of the office’s most talented lawyers — of superb and balanced judgment — to take the lead in drafting.” [….]

He was a member of the GOP legal team fighting to stop the recount in Florida to clear the way for Bush’s election against Al Gore in 2000, later taking a job in the Bush White House in 2001, where he’d serve for five years as counsel and later staff secretary until his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006.

The Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, has sided with broad views of presidential powers.

Brett M. Kavanaugh, the federal judge nominated by President Trump on Monday to the Supreme Court, has endorsed robust views of the powers of the president, consistently siding with arguments in favor of broad executive authority during his 12 years on the bench in Washington.

Justice Anthony Kennedy

He has called for restructuring the government’s consumer watchdog agency so the president could remove the director and has been a leading defender of the government’s position when it comes to using military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects.

Kavanaugh is “an unrelenting, unapologetic defender of presidential power” who believes courts can and should actively seek to rein in “large swaths of the current administrative state,” said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck, who closely follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Kavanaugh’s record suggests that if he is confirmed, he would be more to the right than the man he would replace, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for whom he clerked. Kavanaugh has staked out conservative positions in cases involving gun rights, abortion and the separation of powers.

Read more details at both of those links.

What Kavanaugh Would Likely Do on the Court

Slate: How Brett Kavanaugh Will Gut Roe v. Wade

Kavanaugh is an obvious choice for Trump. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he has maintained staunchly conservative credentials without earning a reputation for being a bomb-thrower. Unless Republican Sen. Susan Collins grows a spine, which she won’t, he has a clear path to Senate confirmation. During his hearings, Kavanaugh will claim he cannot reveal his true feelings about Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion access. But there is little doubt that Kavanaugh will gut Roe at the first opportunity. Indeed, he has already provided a road map that shows precisely how he’ll do it.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Kavanaugh was forced to confront the abortion question in 2017 after the Trump administration barred an undocumented minor, known as Jane Doe, from terminating an unwanted pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on Doe’s behalf, and the dispute came before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was joined on the panel by Judge Karen L. Henderson, an arch-conservative, and Judge Patricia Millett, a moderate liberal. Doe, who was being held in a federally funded Texas shelter, had already obtained the necessary judicial bypass to get an abortion. But the Trump administration refused to let her see an abortion provider, instead sending her to an anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy center.”

By that point, Doe would be about 18 weeks pregnant. Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, and the procedure becomes more dangerous as the pregnancy advances. Moreover, the process of finding and verifying a sponsor for an undocumented minor frequently takes weeks or months. And Doe’s lawyers had already searched for a possible sponsor, to no avail. Kavanaugh’s ostensible compromise, then, was nothing of the sort. At best, it would force Doe to suffer through her unwanted pregnancy for at least two more weeks, increasing the odds of complications when she was finally able to obtain an abortion. At worst, it meant the government could run down the clock to the point that an abortion would become illegal.

Luckily for Doe, the full D.C. Circuit swiftly reversed Kavanaugh’s decision and allowed her to terminate her pregnancy, which she did. This move prompted Kavanaugh to write a bitter dissent explaining why the government’s bar on Doe’s abortion was not, in fact, an undue burden.

Read the rest at Slate.

The Daily Beast: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick, Is Probably the End of Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage.

When President Trump Monday nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he probably doomed the right to abortion, same-sex marriage, and maybe even contraception….

Future justice Elena Kagan arging a campaign finance reform case before SCOTUS

…while Kavanaugh’s record on women’s and LGBT rights is sparse, it gives good reason to suspect that he could be the swing vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights case. This, after all, is what Trump promised in 2016: that Roe would be “automatically” be overturned should he be elected. And Kavanaugh has been praised by numerous right-wing organizations.

In the case of Garza v. Hargan, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an undocumented teenage immigrant was entitled to obtain an abortion without having to obtain familial consent (as is required in several states).

Kavanaugh vigorously dissented, asking, “Is it really absurd for the United States to think that the minor should be transferred to her immigration sponsor ― ordinarily a family member, relative, or friend ― before she makes that decision?”

Those are strong words, endorsing not only parental consent rules but enforcing them in extreme circumstances. If you are looking for signals that a Justice Kavanaugh would limit or overturn Roe, Garza is a giant red flare.

There’s also a possibility that Kavenaugh might not be right wing enough to satisfy some Republicans.

Kavanaugh may not be conservative enough to survive the confirmation process. There is even talk that conservatives might revolt against Kavanaugh, as they did in 2005 against George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers. The reason? Many conservatives wanted Kavanaugh to cast doubt on the teenager’s right to get an abortion at all, which another dissenting judge did.

Neal K. Katyal for respondents, Travel Ban case

Legally speaking, that objection is absurd. Not unlike “judicial minimalist” Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh was discussing the case at issue, not some hypothetical issue. And he was responding to the circuit court’s holding, not writing an essay.

But there’s more. Some conservatives have pointed to dicta in another Kavanaugh opinion, a dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, a case similar to Hobby Lobby involving the Affordable Care Act’s contraception requirement. While dissenting in favor of the Catholic religious organization objecting to the requirement, Kavanaugh wrote that the “the Government has a compelling interest in facilitating women’s access to contraception” because of a variety of factors, such as “reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would further women’s health, advance women’s personal and professional opportunities, reduce the number of abortions, and help break a cycle of poverty.”

Kavanaugh is writing here about the state’s interest in access to contraception, not whether an individual has a constitutional right to access it. Those are totally different questions. But Kavanaugh’s opinion doesn’t question the constitutional right either, which rests on the same foundations (substantive due process, privacy, family) as the right to obtain an abortion.

This one is a must read–lots of details on Kavenaugh’s record. Head over to The Daily Beast to read the rest.

Read more about Kavenaugh and abortion here:

One more from The New York Times editorial board: There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh. And you probably won’t until it’s too late.

First, the awful lot: Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century. While the somewhat unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy once served as the fulcrum for the court, that role will now go to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a far more ideological conservative.

Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, has been a fixture in conservative politics and is widely respected by the Republican elite. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House. He successfully portrayed himself in his remarks at the White House as a nice guy who coaches girls in basketball, feeds the homeless and believes in the Constitution.

What Americans can’t know about Judge Kavanaugh: pretty much anything else. That’s thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process, which once provided the Senate and the public with useful information about a potential justice’s views on the Constitution, but which has, ever since the bitter battle over President Ronald Reagan’s failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, devolved into a second-rate Samuel Beckett play starring an earnest legal scholar who sits for days at a microphone and labors to sound thoughtful while saying almost nothing.

Read the rest at the NYT.

I know there’s plenty of other news, but this is the biggie for today. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and try to have a good day despite the horrors all around us.

 

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Thursday Reads: Only One Presidential Candidate Understands The Full Significance of Reproductive Rights

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Good Afternoon!!

The political issue that is most on my mind today is the reactions of the candidates to remarks Donald Trump made on abortion in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews yesterday. You can read the full transcript at The Guardian. An excerpt:

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and Conservative Republicans would say, “yes, they should be punished.”

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it’s a very serious problem. And it’s a problem that we have to decide on. It’s very hard.

MATTHEWS: But you’re for banning it?

TRUMP: I’m going to say — well, wait. Are you going to say, put them in jail? Are you — is that the (inaudible) you’re talking about?

MATTHEWS: Well, no, I’m asking you because you say you want to ban it. What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would — I am against — I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: What is ban — how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?

TRUMP: Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places

MATTHEWS: Yes?

TRUMP: But you have to ban it

MATTHEWS: You banning, they go to somebody who flunked out of medical school….

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Trump begins talking about the Catholic Church’s position, interrogating Matthews on whether he agrees (Matthews is a Catholic).

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment

MATTHEWS: For the woman

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: Let me just tell you — I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not

TRUMP: I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: Because I don’t want to — I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: But you say, one, that you’re pro-life meaning that you want to ban it

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More efforts by Trump to deflect to the fact that Matthews is a Catholic.

MATTHEWS: I’m asking you, what should a woman face if she chooses to have an abortion?

TRUMP: I’m not going to do that.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I’m not going to play that game.

MATTHEWS: Game?

TRUMP: You have…

MATTHEWS: You said you’re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: That means banning abortion

TRUMP: And so is the Catholic Church pro-life.

MATTHEWS: But they don’t control the — this isn’t Spain, the Church doesn’t control the government

TRUMP: What is the punishment under the Catholic Church? What is the…

MATTHEWS: Let me give something from the New Testament, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Don’t ask me about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no…

MATTHEWS: I’m asking you. You want to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: You told me that…

MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.

TRUMP: I have — I have not determined…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you’re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean

TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life.

I have not determined what the punishment would be.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I haven’t determined it

MATTHEWS: When you decide to be pro-life, you should have thought of it. Because…

TRUMP: No, you could ask anybody who is pro-life…

MATTHEWS: OK, here’s the problem — here’s my problem with this, if you don’t have a punishment for abortion — I don’t believe in it, of course — people are going to find a way to have an abortion.

TRUMP: You don’t believe in what?

MATTHEWS: I don’t believe in punishing anybody for having an abortion

TRUMP: OK, fine. OK, (inaudible)/

MATTHEWS: Of course not. I think it’s a woman’s choice.

TRUMP: So you’re against the teachings of your Church?

MATTHEWS: I have a view — a moral view — but I believe we live in a free country, and I don’t want to live in a country so fascistic that it could stop a person from making that decision.

TRUMP: But then you are…

MATTHEWS: That would be so invasive.

TRUMP: I know but I’ve heard you speaking…

MATTHEWS: So determined of a society that I wouldn’t able — one we are familiar with. And Donald Trump, you wouldn’t be familiar with.

TRUMP: But I’ve heard you speaking so highly about your religion and your Church.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TRUMP: Your Church is very, very strongly as you know, pro-life.

MATTHEWS: I know.

TRUMP: What do you say to your Church?

MATTHEWS: I say, I accept your moral authority. In the United States, the people make the decision, the courts rule on what’s in the Constitution, and we live by that. That’s why I say.

TRUMP: Yes, but you don’t live by it because you don’t accept it. You can’t accept it. You can’t accept it. You can’t accept it.

MATTHEWS: Can we go back to matters of the law and running for president because matters of law, what I’m talking about, and this is the difficult situation you’ve placed yourself in.

By saying you’re pro-life, you mean you want to ban abortion. How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life which you call murder?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself pregnant?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: What about the guy that gets her pregnant? Is he responsible under the law for these abortions? Or is he not responsible for an abortion?

TRUMP: Well, it hasn’t — it hasn’t — different feelings, different people. I would say no.

MATTHEWS: Well, they’re usually involved.

I applaud Chris Matthews on forcing Trump to demonstrate some of the problems with banning abortion. Trump actually said that we would go back to the time when women had to get illegal abortions, and that they should be punished if they made that choice. But the men who were also involved in the creating unwanted or dangerous pregnancies and in making the decision to end those pregnancies should not be punished. 

hillary-clinton-quotes-3-1

Matthews could have been talking to any “pro-life” candidate, and if he or she were pushed on the practical results of their policies they might be similarly confused. Because that might mean sending women to jail. As Matthews pointed out, the Church does not control the U.S. government, and candidates who think abortion is a crime should not make decisions about women’s bodies and their choices. These choices are complex and they should be private.

How did the Democratic candidates respond to Trump’s remarks?

From CNN:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton pounced on Donald Trump’s comment Wednesday on MSNBC that abortion should be banned and women who receive one should should face “some form of punishment,” seeking to tie it the entire GOP field.

Hours later, Trump reversed his initial position — criticized as extreme by both supporters and opponents of abortion rights — saying only the doctors should be held liable.
“The Republicans all line up together,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“Now maybe they aren’t quite as open about it as Donald Trump was earlier today, but they all have the same position,” she said, noting anti-abortion positions taken by both John Kasich and Ted Cruz. “If you make abortion a crime — you make it illegal — then you make women and doctors criminals.”
“Why is it, I ask myself, Republicans want limited government, except when it comes to women’s health?” she said.
Many Trump’s critics have sought to paint him as hostile to women, and Clinton said she largely agreed with that assessment.

Hillary-Clinton-Women-Rights-Quotes

You can watch Clinton’s full interview with Anderson Cooper at the link. I couldn’t find a full interview with Sanders on this other than the one he did with Rachel Maddow. He apparently sent out a tweet calling Trump’s remarks shameful. This is what he told Maddow in a lengthy interview yesterday.

MADDOW:  After, uh, the word spread that Donald Trump had made those remarks today about abortion, that a woman needs to be punished, uh, if she seeks an abortion and abortion should be banned, you said today that was shameful.

What is shameful about it?

SANDERS:  Well, I think it is — shameful is probably understating that position.  First of all, to me, and I think to most Americans, women have the right to control their own bodies and they have the right to make those personal decisions themselves.

But to punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension.  I — I just — you know, one would say what is in Donald Trump’s mind except we’re tired of saying that?

I don’t know what world this person lives in.  So obviously, from my perspective, and if elected president, I will do everybody that I can to allow women to make that choice and have access to clinics all over this country so that if they choose to have an abortion, they will be able to do so.

The idea of punishing a woman, that is just, you know, beyond comprehension.

Maddow tried to press Sanders, asking if Cruz may be even worse on the abortion issue than Trump.

Uh, look, they have nothing to say.  All they can appeal is to a small number of people who feel very rabid, very rabid about a particular issue, whether it’s abortion or maybe whether it’s gay marriage.  That is their constituency.  They have nothing of substance.

You know, you mentioned a moment ago, Rachel, that the media is paying attention to Donald Trump.

Duh?

No kidding.  Once again, every stupid remark will be broadcast, you know, for the next five days.

But what is Donald Trump’s position on raising the minimum wage?

Well, he doesn’t think so.

What is Donald Trump’s position on wages in America?

Well, he said in a Republican debate he thinks wages are too high.

What’s Donald Trump’s position on taxes?

Well, he wants to give billionaire families like himself hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.

What is Donald Trump’s position on climate change?

Oh, he thinks it’s a hoax perpetrated, shock of all shock, by the Chinese.  You know, on and on it goes.

But because media is what media is today, any stupid, absurd remark made by Donald Trump becomes the story of the week.  Maybe, just maybe, we might want to have a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.  Donald Trump will not look quite so interesting in that context.

MADDOW:  Are you suggesting, though, that the media shouldn’t be focusing on his call to potentially jail women who have abortions?  Because that’s another stupid —

SANDERS:  I am saying that every day he comes up with another stupid remark, absurd remark, of course it should be mentioned.  But so should Trump’s overall positions.  How much talk do we hear about climate change, Rachel?  And Trump?  Any?

I heard that as exactly what Maddow suggested: To Sanders, the issue of women’s reproductive rights is just another “stupid” social issue–nowhere near as important as income inequality, increasing the minimum wage, and the other economic issues that Sanders focuses on.

hrcabortion

And here is what Hillary Clinton told Rachel Maddow last night, from Politicus USA.

“What Donald Trump said today was outrageous and dangerous. And you know I am just constantly taken aback by the kinds of things that he advocates for. Maya Angelou said, ‘When someone show you who they are, believe them.’ And once again he has showed us who he is. The idea that he and all of the Republicans espouse that abortion should be illegal is one that is not embraced by the vast majority of Americans. And in fact as he pointed out, if it were illegal, then women and doctors would be criminals.”

“I think not only women, men, but all Americans need to understand that this kind of inflammatory, destructive rhetoric is on the outer edges of what is permitted under our Constitution, what we believe in, and people should reject it.”

“Women in particular must know that this right which we have guaranteed under the Constitution could be taken away, and that’s why the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher.”

Maddow explained that Trump walked it back and then wanted to punish doctors. Clinton made the point that women have the right to their own autonomy. Criminalizing doctors for helping women have medical authority over their own bodies doesn’t make this better.

Maddow said that she spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s 2016 primary opponent, and that Sanders was critical of Trump’s remark but he also thinks it’s another “Donald Trump stupid” remark that will be covered by the media ad nauseam as opposed to issues like taxes, climate change, minimum wage that might be more deserving of extended attention.

Maddow asked Clinton if she agreed, and Clinton said she doesn’t think the media is making too much of this, “No, absolutely not. I’ve been on the front lines of the fight to preserve a woman’s choice and ability to make these difficult decisions… I’ve been a leader in trying to make sure that our rights as women were not in any way eroded.”

“To think that this is an issue that is not deserving of reaction just demonstrates a lack of appreciation for how serious this is,” Clinton said. “This goes to the heart of who we are as women, what kinds of rights and choices we have, it certainly is as important as any economic issue because when it’s all stripped away so much of the Republican agenda is to turn the clock back on women.”

It is easy for even liberals and progressives to forget that without legal and safe abortion, women die. This is no small issue. This is one of the issues of 2016. It is economic, it is about personal freedom, it is a matter of life and death. Hillary Clinton punches back even when others will not. She sees this issue for what it is.

control women

This is why we need a woman POTUS. This is why we need Hillary. These interviews by Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow represent the first time anyone at a debate or “town hall” has seriously asked candidates to talk about women’s reproductive rights.

Donald Trump showed us why putting a Republican in the White House in 2016 would be dangerous for women.

Bernie Sanders showed us that he “supports” abortion rights, but doesn’t think this issue rises to the importance of his rants on economic issues like income inequality, Wall Street corruption, and the minimum wage. He clearly doesn’t understand that abortion and birth control are also important economic issues.

Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who understands the important of these so-called “women’s issues.” She is the only one who will speak for women and girls in a serious way if she is elected to the presidency.

What do you think? Please discuss this post or any other topic you wish in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday.


Thursday Reads

pope-francis-barack-obama-michelle-obama-washington-dc

Good Morning!!

Pope Francis is currently visiting Washington DC, and he will address Congress this morning. Yesterday he said a mass and canonized a questionable new saint. From NPR:

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., today. You can watch the proceedings in The Washington Post video above.

Serra, the first Hispanic American saint and the first saint to be canonized in the U.S., helped Spain colonize California in the late 1700s, converting tens of thousands of Native Americans to Catholicism in the process. Some Native American groups objected to the canonization of a priest who converted indigenous people to Christianity using force.

The pontiff addressed Serra’s history in his homily.

“Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.”

After the mass, Francis met with Native Americans at the basilica to speak with them privately about the controversy.

At the link, you can read tweets from people who noticed that Francis fell asleep at one point during the mass.

CIRCA 1930: Fray Junipero Serra Postcard. ca. 1915-1925, Fray Junipero Serra Postcard (Photo by LCDM Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

CIRCA 1930: Fray Junipero Serra Postcard. ca. 1915-1925, Fray Junipero Serra Postcard (Photo by LCDM Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

NPR tried to soft-pedal the controversy over Serra’s canonization. NBC has more details:

Saint or Sinner? Pope Courts Controversy With Canonization of Junipero Serra.

…to some Native Americans, Serra’s achievements are nothing to celebrate. They say he created a military-backed mission system that thrived on brutality and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

“It is very offensive to canonize the person who actually enslaved, whipped, tortured and separated families and destroyed our cultural and spiritual beliefs,” said Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. “How can that behavior be recognized as saintly behavior?” ….

Robert Senkewicz, a professor of history at Santa Clara University who has written a book about Serra, said it’s probably no accident that a pope who hails from Latin America, where the missionaries were seen as protectors, would support Serra.

He said he understands both sides of the debate: there’s evidence that Serra supported the flogging of the California Indians as punishment; he had women and girls locked away at night to keep them safe from rapists; and the crowded missions helped breed the disease that killed many.

“Serra, by his own right, really loved the Indians,” Senkewicz said. “But he thought of them as children. Like 99 percent of the people of the day, he thought Europeans were superior to the native people.”

Lopez said he was stunned by the pope’s elevation of Serra given that the pontiff has championed the downtrodden and even apologized in July for the church’s “grave sins” against the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Statue of Junipero Serra on Highway 280 south of San Francisco

Statue of Junipero Serra on Highway 280 south of San Francisco

Like most of what the Vatican does, conferring sainthood is a political process. Frankly, to me it’s meaningless; but I can certainly understand why many Catholics would be up in arms about it.

The Washington Post on Francis’ speech to Congress this morning:

Pope Francis, a symbol of unity for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, will address Congress Thursday morning, marking the first time a pope has bridged the church-state divide to speak to America’s elected representatives.

The pope is scheduled to arrive on Capitol Hill at 9:20 a.m. Hours earlier, hundreds people began lining up outside the Capitol grounds, waiting to pass through security checkpoints and stake out a place to see him….

At 10:01 a.m., the House sergeant-at-arms is scheduled to announce: “Mr. Speaker, the pope of the Holy See.” His words will formally launch an event that would have been politically impossible through much of American history, when Catholics — especially waves of immigrants from Italy, Ireland and central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — suffered widespread discrimination.

That began to change with the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency in 1960, according to the article.

In speaking before Congress, the pope was to take the central position in a tableau reflecting a wholesale shift in Catholics’ place in the United States. Vice President Joe Biden (D), who is also Catholic, will sit behind him, next to Boehner. In front of him will be four justices of the Supreme Court — including three of the six Catholics who currently sit on the nine-member court.

There are 164 Catholics in this Congress, or 31 percent of the members. That’s a higher proportion than in the overall U.S. population, which is 22 percent Catholic. Despite those numbers, it seems doubtful that even a pope who has admonished world leaders to argue less and accomplish more can break the bitter, years-long political paralysis in the U.S. legislature.

Pope Francis meets with John Boehner before the historic speech to Congress.

Pope Francis meets with John Boehner before the historic speech to Congress.

Unfortunately, many of the “Catholics” in this Congress and the Supreme Court do not subscribe to actual Catholic values such as humility, helping the poor, protecting the environment, and making peace, not war.

Pope Francis also held a meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor to “quietly” support their battle against birth control being covered by Obamacare. USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor Wednesday, a move that Vatican officials said was intended to send a message of support in the nuns’ battle against Obamacare.

The religious order of Catholic sisters is suing theObama administration over a provision of the Affordable Care Act that the administration has interpreted as requiring the sisters to purchase health insurance with birth control coverage.

Catholic teaching opposes the use of birth control. The sisters can request a waiver, but their lawsuit argues that requiring that paperwork infringes on their religious freedom. The sisters are suing under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Clinton-era law that prohibits the government from placing a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion.

Last August, an appeals court sided with the government, but an unusual dissent by five judges this month called that decision “clearly and gravely wrong — on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty.” The question now goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sigh . . .

News From the Clown Car

Donald Trump is once again feuding with Fox News.

From Politico: Trump says he won’t appear on Fox News. The Republican front-runner says Fox has been treating him unfairly, while Fox says it dumped Trump first.

Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly before the feud

Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly before the feud

Citing unfair treatment, Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is not going to appear on any Fox News shows “for the forseeable future,” reigniting a feud that has heated up and cooled throughout the summer.

“.@FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future,” Trump tweeted at mid-day on Wednesday.

Fox News fired back a couple hours later, saying Trump had it all wrong, and that it was Fox who dumped Trump. A spokesman issued a statement, condeming Trump’s attacks on Fox’s journalists.

“At 11:45am today, we canceled Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance on The O’Reilly Factor on Thursday, which resulted in Mr. Trump’s subsequent tweet about his ‘boycott’ of FOX News,” the statement reads. “The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about. When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”

The Republican presidential candidate had devoted Monday and Tuesday nights this week to blasting the network’s coverage of him on Twitter, tweeting and retweeting criticism.

More details at the link. Ugh.

Donald Trump at the South Carolina Freedom Summit

Donald Trump at the South Carolina Freedom Summit

Also from Politico: Trump: I’m so tired of this politically correct crap.

A seemingly exasperated Donald Trump announced on Wednesday, “I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,” telling a crowd of South Carolina business leaders that he’s still the straight-talking, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy that surged to the top of the polls this summer.

The Republican presidential candidate is suffering a bit of a slump, due to some slippage in the polls, a lackluster debate performance, and another round of negative headlines due to his refusal to apologize for not correcting a questioner at a New Hampshire town hall who insisted President Obama is a Muslim and not an American.

On Wednesday, he tried to reclaim his mojo,  launching another Twitter-based attack on Fox News before taking the stage in South Carolina to blast his rivals. In the case of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Trump remarked that both candidates “hate each other … but they can’t say it.” Rubio was state senator while Bush was governor of Florida.

Trump, addressing the Greater Charleston Business Association and the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, detailed his grievances with the way politicians act.

“This is what bothers me about politicians. He announces he’s gonna run and they go to Jeb, ‘what do you think of Marco Rubio?’ ‘He’s my dear, dear friend, he’s wonderful, he’s a wonderful person, I’m so happy that he’s running.’ Give me a break,” Trump said. “That’s called politicians’ speak. Then they go to Marco, what do you think of Jeb Bush? ‘Ohh, he’s great, he’s brought me along.”

Rubio and Bush “hate each other,” Trump said, blasting Rubio as “overly ambitious, too young, and I have better hair than he does, right?”

What Donald Trump refers to “political correctness” is behavior that normal people call common courtesy.

Jeb Bush had another stumble a couple of days ago.

CNN reports: Jeb Bush weighs in on ‘multiculturalism.’

Jeb Bush in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jeb Bush in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jeb Bush argued Tuesday that the United States is “creeping toward multiculturalism” and described it as “the wrong approach.”

His answer came in response to a question at an Iowa diner Tuesday from a woman who wanted to know how the former Florida governor would help refugees and immigrants integrate into U.S. society and “empower them to become Americans.”

“We should not have a multicultural society,” the Republican presidential candidate responded.

But Bush, who’s a self-admitted policy wonk and tends to use nuanced language, was referring to “multicultural” in the literal sense — a social model in which cultures live in “isolated pockets,” as he described them, rather than assimilating into society.

“America is so much better than every other country because of the values that people share — it defines our national identity. Not race or ethnicity, not where you come from,” he said. “When you create pockets of isolation — and in some cases the assimilation process is retarded because it’s slowed down — it’s wrong. It limits peoples’ aspirations.”

He added that people who aren’t “fully engaged” in a broader community will struggle to get the best education and argued that learning English would better accelerate access to opportunities.

Personally, I think it’s entirely possible for ethnic groups in the U.S. to hold onto their languages and cultures, while at the same time fitting in to American society. The children of immigrants usually assimilate; at the same time, I think they should be encouraged to understand their ethnic and cultural history and be able to speak their native language with older family members.

In The News

BBC News: Hajj stampede: At least 717 killed in Saudi Arabia.

Quora discussion: Why do Americans think helping even the less fortunate next-door neighbour is ‘socialism’?

The Boston Globe: Apple bans walk-in purchases of the new iPhone 6s in New Hampshire, three other states.

ABC News: Texas HS Football Assistant Coach Admits to Telling Players to Hit Referee, Principal Says.

ABC News: Pope Francis Cites Victims From Church’s ‘Difficult Moments.’

The Telegraph: Angela Merkel’s ministers ‘ignored warning over Volkswagen emissions rigging.’

The New York Times: Hackers Took Fingerprints of 5.6 Million U.S. Workers, Government Says.

Some Interesting Longer Reads

Foreign Policy: ‘Close Your Eyes and Pretend to Be Dead’ What really happened two years ago in the bloody attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

Scientific American: Why the Human Brain Project Went Wrong–and How to Fix It.

The New Republic: Down the Rabbit Hole. The rise, and rise, of literary annotation.

Slate: Yogi Berra Wasn’t Trying to Be Witty. And he wasn’t dumb either. How did the narrative of the wise buffoon come to dominate his life?

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

 

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Are Women People?

women people2

Good Morning!!

Question for today: Are women human? Are we people in the eyes of our government? We’ve been told that corporations are people. We know that white men are people–that was established by the U.S. Constitution when it was ratified in 1789.  Since that time, there have been amendments that granted some rights to non-white men and to women. We can vote now. Does that mean our government recognizes our humanity?

Today our ultra-conservative, mostly Catholic Supreme Court will hear two cases that bring this question to the forefront, and the Court’s decisions may give us some answers to the question of whether American women are officially people with individual rights.

From MSNBC: Supreme Court to hear birth control case

Depending on whom you ask, Tuesday morning’s oral argument at the Supreme Court is about whether Obamacare can keep treading on religious liberty – or it’s about a woman’s right to access contraception on her employee insurance plan, no matter what her employer thinks of it. Either way, it is the first time the Affordable Care Act will be at the nation’s highest Court since it was first largely upheld as constitutional. The same two men as in that case, current Solicitor General Don Verrilli and former Bush administration solicitor general Paul Clement, are facing off to argue over a narrower provision.

Before the Supreme Court decides whether the contraceptive coverage required of insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act violates a 1993 law governing religious liberty, it has to settle the threshold question: Does a corporation even have religious liberty?

women human

I think the question about the rights of women is far broader than that. Without access to birth control and abortion, a woman has no real autonomy as a human being. If she becomes pregnant–even through rape–she loses the ability to make choices about her future life. It has been a relatively short period of time since women have had the power to make those choices. But that power has led to other advances for women–such as the right to prosecute a rapist or an abusive boyfriend or husband, the right to have credit in her own name, the right to an education, and entry into careers from which women were previously blocked. We can only hope that the justices see clearly what their decisions will mean for women’s lives and women’s personhood.

Back to the MSNBC article:

Hobby Lobby Stores, an Oklahoma-based, evangelical-owned craft chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a small Mennonite-owned cabinet maker in Pennsylvania, sued the administration and got two very different answers from the lower courts. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared of Hobby Lobby that “such corporations can be ‘persons’ exercising religion.” In ruling on Conestoga’s bid for exemption from the requirement, the Third Circuit disagreed: “For-profit secular corporations cannot exercise in religious exercise.”

The companies are among the 47 for-profit corporations that have objected to their company plans complying with the minimum coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Under those regulations, contraception is covered fully, without a co-pay, as preventive care. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood object to a handful of contraceptives that they speculate can block a fertilized egg, which is neither documented in the science nor the medical definition of abortion. Other for-profit plaintiffs object to any birth control coverage at all….

The Obama administration says that the government has a compelling interest in women’s health and in gender equality. The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to classify contraceptives as preventive care after considering testimony from medical experts, who cited the country’s high rate of unintended pregnancy and the persistence cost barriers to accessing effective birth control.

Some legal experts argue that to rule for Hobby Lobby would be imposing religion on others, by forcing the women who work for such companies to pay the cost of their employers’ religion. Frederick Gedicks, a law professor at Brigham Young, has even argued in a brief before the Court that doing so would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

What will SCOTUS decide?

women people4

At NPR, Nina Totenberg offers some scary quotes from Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby:

“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by … and so we cannot be a part of taking life,” explains Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.

“It’s our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something against our conscience,” adds CEO and founder David Green.

Using birth control is “taking a life?” Apparently one of the arguments Hobby Lobby is using that–contrary to scientific facts–some forms of birth control are equal to abortion. So is every sperm is sacred too? Should men be prosecuted for masturbating? But those questions are not likely to be asked, because it is already legally established that men are people.

 

At the WaPo, Sandra Fluke writes: At the Supreme Court, a potential catastrophe for women’s rights.

Unlike my congressional testimony in 2012, which was about Georgetown University — a Catholic-affiliated university — refusing to include contraception in student insurance because it was a religiously affiliated school, the institutions arguing before the Supreme Court are not houses of worship or religious non-profits. The Affordable Care Act already includes special arrangements for those types of organizations. These are private, for-profit corporations — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — that want to be excluded from health insurance and employment laws because of bosses’ personal views.

Laws that include religious protection have never given corporations the right to have religious views, and it would be a terrible idea to make such an enormous change to our legal precedent now. Our laws protect individuals’ private religious beliefs, but when you cross over into the public sphere to become a corporation and make a profit off of the public, you must abide by the public’s laws.

Depending on the court’s rulings, the cases’ outcomes could deny millions of women coverage of any or all forms of birth control, limiting women’s ability to control their reproductive health, plan their pregnancies and manage their lives. As I testified, women also need birth control for many other medical reasons, including relief of painful health problems like endometriosis.

women people3

And, Fluke argues, recognizing a right for corporations to hold religious views will open the door to

Allowing any private employer to dictate which laws fit inside its religious beliefs could upset the necessary balance of both religious liberty and employee health and safety laws. Depending on the exact ruling, any for-profit corporation could cut off its employees’ insurance coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations or HIV treatment — all of which some Americans have religious objections to. Any critical health coverage the boss doesn’t agree with could be eliminated.

Furthermore, SCOTUS could not limit these proposed “religious freedoms” to Christians.

Although this country predominantly descends from a Judeo-Christian tradition, our valuable religious protection laws ensure that anyone is free to practice any religion they want, including religions whose belief systems and practices many of us would disagree with vehemently. In fact, far-ranging beliefs that are not associated with any organized religion could be used to justify a corporation’s practices as well.

Sahil Kapur of TPM points out that Justice Scalia, who might be expected to vote in favor of a corporate “right to religious freedom,” will have to deal with one of his previous rulings: Justice Scalia’s Past Comes Back To Haunt Him On Birth Control.

In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment “does not require” the government to grant “religious exemptions” from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.

“[T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability,” Scalia wrote in the 6-3 majority decision, going on to aggressively argue that such exemptions could be a slippery slope to lawlessness and that “[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy.”

“The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind,” he wrote, “ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”

That opinion could haunt the jurist if he seeks to invalidate the birth control rule.

“Scalia will have to reckon with his own concern in Smith about the lawlessness and chaos created by liberal exemptions to generally applicable law,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA. “For him to uphold an exemption now is to invite more of the lawlessness that he warned about.”

women human5

At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser addresses the right wing organizations that have waged a concerted war against women’s rights during the past several years: Read This One Document To Understand What The Christian Right Hopes To Gain From Hobby Lobby.

2009 was a grim year for social conservatives. Barack Obama was an ambitious and popular new president. Republicans, and their conservative philosophy, were largely discredited in the public eye by a failed war and a massive recession. And the GOP’s effort to reshape its message was still in its awkward adolescence. If the conservative movement had a mascot, it would have been a white man dressed as Paul Revere and waving a misspelled sign.

Amidst this wreckage, more than two hundred of the nation’s leading Christian conservatives joined together in a statement expressing their dismay at the state of the nation. “Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development,” their statement claimed, while “[m]ajorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views.” Meanwhile, they feared that the liberals who now controlled the country “are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”

The signatories to this statement, which they named the “Manhattan Declaration,” included many of America’s most prominent Catholic bishops and clergy of similar prominence in other Christian sects. It included leaders oftop anti-gay organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, and of more broadly focused conservative advocacy shops such as the Family Research Council. It included university presidents and deans from Christian conservative colleges. And it included the top editors from many of the Christian right’s leading publications.

Perhaps most significantly, however, the document’s signatories includes Alan Sears, the head of one of the two conservative legal groups litigating what are likely to be the two most important cases decided by the Supreme Court this term. Indeed, the Manhattan Declaration offers a virtual roadmap to understanding what religious conservatives hope to gain from Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, two cases the justices will hear Tuesday which present the question whether a business owner’s religious objections to birth control trump their legal obligation to include it in their employee’s health plan.

Read the gory details at the link.

hillary_clinton_human_6423

Finally, I ask that everyone read this year-old article at Time Magazine by Jessica Winter, Subject for Debate: Are Women People? It is both darkly humorous and deadly serious.

All my adult life, I’ve been pretty sure I’m a sentient, even semi-competent human being. I have a job and an apartment; I know how to read and vote; I make regular, mostly autonomous decisions about what to eat for lunch and which cat videos I will watch whilst eating my lunch. But in the past couple of months, certain powerful figures in media and politics have cracked open that certitude.

You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as “XX,” a deviation of the normative “XY” pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway. This debate has reached critical mass, and leaves me uncertain of my legal and moral status. Am I a person? An object? A ward of the state? A “prostitute”? (And if I’m the last of these, where do I drop off my W-2?)

Please go read the whole thing. It’s not long.

So . . . those are my recommended reads for today.  What stories are you following? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.

 


Groundhog Day Reads: Gun Fetishists, Fetus Fetishists, and Other News

Punxsutawney Phil and friend

Punxsutawney Phil and friend

Good Morning!!

It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawny Phil says spring will come early this year.

An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog.

Following a recent stretch of weather that’s included both record warm temperatures and bitter cold, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

United States of Guns

United States of Guns

Do you ever get the feeling the U.S. is becoming an armed camp? On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence at which two loony right wingers–Crazy Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and attorney Gayle Trotter–were permitted to dominate the proceedings with their bizarre defenses of assault weapons.

Meanwhile, news was breaking about two more shocking shootings, one in Midland City, Alabama and the other in Phoenix, Arizona.

Three days later, the gunman in Alabama is still in his homemade bunker with his 5-year-old hostage. CNN: Authorities tight-lipped as standoff over child hostage enters 5th day

As an armed standoff entered its fifth day Saturday, authorities negotiated through a ventilation pipe with a man accused of barricading himself and a 5-year-old hostage in an underground bunker in southeastern Alabama.

Police have been tight-lipped about a possible motive since the hostage drama began unfolding in Midland City with the shooting of school bus driver and the abduction of the 5-year-old.

In a sign of perhaps how tense negotiations are between authorities and the suspect, officials have refused to detail what, if any, demands have been made by the suspect.

On Friday, the Dale County sheriff did confirm what neighbors have been saying and news outlets around Midland City have been reporting since the standoff began — the suspected gunman’s identity.

He is Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, a Vietnam veteran and retired truck driver who moved to the area about five years ago.

According to USA Today,

One of Dykes’ next-door neighbors said the suspect spent two or three months constructing the bunker, digging into the ground and then building a structure of lumber and plywood, which he covered with sand and dirt.

Neighbor Michael Creel said Dykes put the plastic pipe underground from the bunker to the end of his driveway so he could hear if anyone drove up to his gate. When Dykes finished the shelter a year or so ago, he invited Creel to see it — and he did.

“He was bragging about it. He said, ‘Come check it out,” Creel said.

He said he believes Dykes’ goal with the standoff is to publicize his political beliefs.

“I believe he wants to rant and rave about politics and government,” Creel said. “He’s very concerned about his property. He doesn’t want his stuff messed with.”

The kindergartner whom Dykes is holding hostage has been heard crying for his parents, who say he has Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. Dykes’ neighbors say that he has enough supplies to stay in the bunker for an extended period of  time.

In Phoenix, a second shooting victim has died of his wounds. New York Newsday reports:

Mark Hummels, 43, had been on life support at a Phoenix hospital after Wednesday morning’s shooting that killed a company’s chief executive and left a woman with non-life threatening injuries.
Hummels died Thursday night, a publicist for his law firm told The Associated Press early Friday.

Colleagues of Hummels described him as a smart, competent and decent man who was a rising star in his profession and dedicated to his wife, 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

Hummels had worked as a reporter until 2001 when he returned to school to become an attorney.

Hummels worked with the Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon with some support from the Hastings law firm in Houston and focused on business disputes, real estate litigation and malpractice defense. He died Thursday night, publicist Athia Hardt told The Associated Press early Friday.

He was a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican before he left to go to law school in 2001. He graduated first in his class at the University of Arizona’s law school.

Santa Fe New Mexican editor Rob Dean said in a statement Friday that Hummels “was an accomplished journalist and an even better person. He had the intelligence to understand difficult problems and a hunger to do important work.”

Hummels was admitted to the Arizona bar in 2005.

The body of the alleged shooter, Arthur Douglas Harmon was found dead on Thursday, apparently having shot himself with a handgun.

Meanwhile, two more shootings have been reported in Phoenix.

Mayor Greg Stanton vowed Friday that the bloodshed will not define his city.

“This is not the norm,” Stanton said hours after the latest of three Phoenix shootings that, combined, left at least four people dead. “It’s a tragic set of circumstances. These incidents are an aberration. But these tragedies will not define the city of Phoenix.”

The three days of bloodshed left Stanton more convinced than ever that a comprehensive approach to gun control is needed, combined with stronger mental-health laws and improved community policing.

The three incidents and the motives behind the violence were unrelated: a dispute over a civil lawsuit, a possible drug transaction and a drive-by shooting that may have been gang-related.

Details at the link. Good luck to the Mayor of Phoenix getting any gun regulations passed in Arizona.

Cartoon-GOP-War-on-Women-jpg

Yesterday President Obama handed more ammunition to Republicans in their ongoing war on women. From Wonkblog: The White House’s contraceptives compromise.

The Obama administration proposed broader latitude Friday for religious nonprofits that object to the mandated coverage of contraceptives, one that will allow large faith-based hospitals and universities to issue plans that do not directly provide birth control coverage.

Their employees would instead receive a stand-alone, private insurance policy that would provide contraceptive coverage at no cost.

This is a really bad idea, because it lends credence to Republicans’ efforts to separate women’s reproductive health needs from health care in general.

It could also breathe new life into lawsuits filed against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement, some of which were put on hold until the Obama administration clarified its policy on the issue.

Under this proposal, objecting nonprofits will be allowed to offer employees a plan that does not cover contraceptives. Their health insurer will then automatically enroll employees in a separate individual policy, which only covers contraceptives, at no cost. This policy would stand apart from the employer’s larger benefit package.

The faith-based employer would not “have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Besides, the fetus fetishists aren’t satisfied, and they never will be satisfied until women’s bodies are under complete control of the state and women’s lives are reduced to breeding, child care, and housework. From LifeNews.com: “Pro-Life Groups Blast Revisions to Obama Abortion-HHS Mandate” (I’m not going to link to the story because I don’t want a bunch of fetus trolls coming over here):

Leading pro-life groups don’t have much good to say about the proposed changes the HHS department announced today to the Obamacare mandate that forces religious groups and religiously-run companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.

The Christian Medical Association (CMA), the nation’s largest faith-based association of physicians, today called the administration’s policy announcement regarding its contraceptives and sterilization mandate “unacceptable,” noting that the ruling still flouts the First Amendment.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said, “This latest version of the contraceptives and sterilization mandate remains unacceptable. Since when does the government get to pick and choose which groups will get to enjoy First Amendment protections? Our founders intended the First Amendment to protect every American’s freedom to act according to one’s conscience. They didn’t specify that only groups deemed religious will be afforded this protection; freedom of conscience applies equally to all Americans.”

You can find many more quotes from men who hate women by googling the headline.

But wait a minute… Amanda Marcotte says the HHS contraception mandate is “Exactly What It Was a Year Ago.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has just released the proposed rules for handling religious objections to a new mandate requiring employer-provided insurance to cover contraception without a copay. The New York Times, at least, is covering this release as if it were a new and exciting “compromise” between the Obama administration and employers who believe their God wants ladies to be perma-pregnant. First the Times announced it in a “Breaking News” banner, and now the home page headline reads: “Birth Control Rule Altered to Allay Religious Objections.” Click on that and you’ll get to: “White House Proposes Compromise on Contraception Coverage.” The problem is that the proposal isn’t new, and nothing’s been altered since the Obama administration announced a clarification of the plan a year ago….Nothing has changed in the proposal.

OK, now I’m really confused. All I know is that the war on women has expanded from outlawing abortion to ending birth control. American women are quickly being reduced to a separate category of beings who are seen as less than human. We need an Equal Right Amendment, stat!

Here’s another wacky example of the right-wing anti-woman, anti-science pontificating we’ve been subjected to for the past couple of years from Right Wing Watch: Wombs of Women on Birth Control ‘Embedded’ with ‘Dead Babies’

Well, here’s some medical research we hadn’t heard about. Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who last week delved memorably into feminist theory, tells us this week that “certain doctors and certain scientists” have researched the wombs of women on the pill and found “there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb…Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Shades of Todd Akin. Where do these crazy ideas come from anyway?

I’ll wrap this post up with some link-dump-style reads:

Wall Street Journal: Interview: Axelrod on Hillary Clinton’s Political Prospects

Wall Street Journal: Clinton’s Exit: Either Epilogue or Prelude

The Spokesman-Review: Idaho senator compares health exchange to Holocaust

Alternet: Exposed: How Whole Foods and the Biggest Organic Foods Distributor Are Screwing Workers

The Boston Globe: Mass. GOP scrambling to find US Senate candidate

The Boston Globe: Scott Brown’s finances may influence ex-senator’s next step

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your reading list for today? I look forward to clicking on your links!


Ann Romney Will Decide What this Election is About, Not Women Voters

Via ABC News, this morning, Ann Romney gave an satellite interview to KWQC new anchor David Nelson from Davenport, Iowa. Mrs. Romney said that her message to women voters is “I hear your voices.”

Maybe so, there are issues women voters say they are interested in that Mrs. Romney won’t address. She doesn’t want to talk about same-sex marriage or birth control, for example. David Wilson asked her about those issues and she refused to answer because those questions are “distractions” and “not about what this campaign is going to be about.”

Here are some excerpts from the interview. You can watch it here.

KWQC TV6: “Here in Iowa, as you know, same-sex marriage is legal. Do you believe a lesbian mother should be allowed to marry her partner?”

Ann Romney: “You know, I’m not going to talk about the specific issues. I’m going to let my husband speak on issues. I’m here to really just talk about my husband and what kind of husband and father he is and, you know, those are hot-button issues that distract from what the real voting issue is going to be at this election. That, it’s going to be about the economy and jobs.”

Since when do candidates or the wives of candidates get to determine what an election is about? Wilson tried again:

KWQC TV6: “Do you believe that employer-provided health insurance should be required to cover birth control?”

Ann Romney: “Again, you’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about. This election is going to be about the economy and jobs.”

KWQC TV6: “Well, a Pew research poll shows those issues are very important to women, ranking them either “important” or “very important.”

Ann Romney: “You know, but I personally believe, and this is what I’m hearing from women all across the country that they are going to look for the guy that’s going to pull them out of the weeds and get them job security and a brighter future for their children. That’s the message.

Listen, I’ve been across this country, I’ve been for a year-and-a-half on the campaign trail. I’ve spoken with thousands of women and they are telling me, they’re telling me a couple of things, one they say they’re praying for me which is really wonderful, and then they’re saying, ‘please help, please help. We are so worried about our jobs.’

So really if you want to try to pull me off of the other messages it’s not going to work because I know because I’ve been out there.”

Wilson did make one more attempt to get Mrs. Romney to address whether her stated wish for “women to have a secure and stable future” applied to lesbian mothers. But Mrs. Romney didn’t want to talk about it, because she knows what “this election is going to be about” and women voters don’t.

When Ann Romney addressed RNC delegates last week, she yelled out “I love you women!” I guess for Mrs. Romney love gives her permission to condescend to the objects of her love and decide what political issues they should care about.


Mitt Romney: Women Should Vote for Me Because of MA Health Care Law

WTF?! Today on Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney told Chris Wallace that women should support him because of Romneycare. Raw Story:

During an interview that aired on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Romney why women should vote for him after a fellow Republican, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), suggested that women could not get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

“Look, I am the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women — and men — in my state,” the former Massachusetts governor explained. “There was talking about it at the federal level. We did something”….“I’m very proud of what we did, and the fact that we helped women and men and children in my state.”

Then why does he want to repeal Obamacare? My head is spinning. Does Romney actually expect people to fall for this garbage? Does he understand that if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed, Massachusetts will lose millions in federal funds that help pay for “Romneycare?”

I guess we should take from this that Romney has no intention of repealing the ACA and just accept that he has been lying his ass off through the entire campaign. How will the Tea Partiers respond to this at the upcoming convention? He got “shredded” a couple of weeks ago when he brought up Romneycare.

What will he do in the debates? He is on record (and on tape and video) promising to repeal “Obamacare” in hundreds of campaign appearances. Is he going to get up there and talk out of both sides of his mouth with Obama standing next to him? I admit, I’m completely stumped.

Back to Raw Story:

“And then with regards to contraceptives, of course Republicans and myself in particular recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort and try and bring that up. And with regards to the issue of abortion, that is something where men and women have alternative views on that or different views.”

Really? Romney has stated that life begins at conception and has pledged to support a human life amendment that would criminalize abortion in every case along with in vitro fertilization, many kinds of birth control, and very likely miscarriages. Is he stupid or just crazy? Excuse me, I think I’ve got whiplash!

As JJ would say, this is a motherf##king open thread!