I’m going to focus on the abortion battle today. I think it is completely inappropriate for abortion to even be a public issue in the first place, but of course regulating women’s bodies and lives has been a goal for powerful men since ancient times.
I was around before abortion became legal in this country–in fact I was around before birth control was legal for unmarried women. For me it feels like what is happening now is an incredible betrayal. Although women have never been treated in our culture as fully equal with men, the Roe v. Wade decision made it possible for women to make great strides in education and work. Now, nearly fifty years later, the progress toward equality has been halted. Women of child-bearing age are being treated like broodmares once again.
The good news is that the majority of U.S. voters are not on the same page with right wing Republicans and the justices they have managed to put on the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court. We saw this in Kansas when voters rejected a referendum to make abortion illegal in the state. We saw in the mid-term elections when voters clearly saw abortion as one of the top issues. We saw it during the latest midterm elections, when abortion was shown to be a significant issue for voters. We saw it recently in Wisconsin, where voters election Janet Protasiewicz, a pro-choice Democrat, to the State Supreme Court, giving liberals a majority.
Conservatives are finding out the hard way that abortion isn’t a 50-50 issue anymore.
Janet Protasiewicz’s 11-point blowout victory this week for a state Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin was just the latest example of voters who support abortion rights outnumbering — and outvoting — their opponents. There was little polling in Tuesday’s race, but in a 2022 midterm exit poll of the state, a combined 63 percent of Wisconsin voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 34 percent thought it should be illegal in all or most cases.
Moreover, for the 31 percent of 2022 voters who said abortion was their most important issue — second only to inflation at 34 percent — they overwhelmingly backed Democratic Gov. Tony Evers (83 percent) and Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes (81 percent), who lost narrowly to GOP Sen. Ron Johnson.
Going back to the 1990s, Gallup polling showed Americans divided roughly evenly between those who called themselves “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Exit polls from the 1990s and 2000s showed voters who said abortion or “moral values” were most important to their vote supported Republican candidates in greater numbers.
But those surveys were conducted when a right to an abortion was law of the land. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year ending that constitutional right has exposed Americans’ broad opposition to the strict abortion bans adopted or proposed in GOP-controlled states. And it’s revealed that public surveys on the matter probably need more nuanced questions now.
There’s a long history of abortion polling. In the 2000 presidential election, the Los Angeles Times national exit poll found more George W. Bush voters rated abortion as one of their two most important issues than Al Gore voters, and voters were divided 50-50 on whether abortion should remain legal or be made illegal (though with exceptions).
That poll offered three options when measuring voter sentiment on abortion: keep it legal, make it illegal with exceptions or make it illegal with no exceptions.
Now, a four-point question probably best measures where Americans sit on the issue: legal in all cases, legal in most, illegal in all and illegal in most. The 2022 national exit poll used this device, finding that 29 percent of voters believed abortion should be “legal in all cases,” while another 30 percent thought it should be “legal in most cases.” That left 26 percent who thought it should be “illegal in most cases” and only 10 percent who said it should be “illegal in all cases.”
That leaves roughly six-in-10 voters supporting legal abortion in most cases — with the median voter supporting some restrictions — and just over a third who want it to be entirely or mostly illegal.
NY Magazine cover, by Barbara Kruger
The recent decision by reactionary Trump judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas is getting very bad reviews. Kacsmaryk claimed to have the power to tell scientists at the FDA that mifepristone, an abortion pill that has been approved and shown to be safe for more than 20 years, should be banned nationwide. Some recent reactions:
Congratulations are in order for Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. The competition is fierce and will remain so, but for now he holds the title: worst federal judge in America.
Not simply for the poor quality of his judicial reasoning, although more, much more, on this in a bit. What really distinguishes Kacsmaryk is the loaded content of his rhetoric — not the language of a sober-minded, impartial jurist but of a zealot, committed more to promoting a cause than applying the law.
Kacsmaryk is the Texas-based judge handpicked by antiabortion advocates — he is the sole jurist who sits in the Amarillo division of the Northern District of Texas — to hear their challenge to the legality of abortion medication.
And so he did, ruling exactly as expected. In an opinion released Friday, Kacsmaryk invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion drug mifepristone and, for good measure, found that abortion medications cannot be sent by mail or other delivery service under the terms of an 1873 anti-vice law.
Even in states where abortion remains legal. Even though study after study has shown the drug to be safe and effective — far safer, for instance, than over-the-counter Tylenol. Even though — or perhaps precisely because — more than half of abortions in the United States today are performed with abortion medication.
My fury here is not because I fear that Kacsmaryk’s ruling will stand. I don’t think it will, not even with this Supreme Court. Indeed, another federal district judge — just hours after Kacsmaryk’s Good Friday ruling — issued a competing order, instructing the FDA to maintain the existing rules making mifepristone available. Even Kacsmaryk put his ruling on hold for a week; the Justice Department has already filed a notice of appeal; and the dispute is hurtling its way to the Supreme Court. (Nice work getting yourselves out of the business of deciding abortion cases, your honors.)
No, my beef is with ideologues in robes. That Kacsmaryk fits the description is no surprise. Before being nominated to the federal bench by President Donald Trump in 2017, Kacsmaryk served as deputy general counsel at the conservative First Liberty Institute. He argued against same-sex marriage, civil rights protections for gay and transgender individuals, the contraceptive mandate and, of course, Roe v. Wade.
At his confirmation hearings, Kacsmaryk testified that federal judges are bound “to read the law as it is written and not read into it any policy preference that they might have had before they were judges.”
Well that was a blatant lie. Read the whole article at the WaPo.
At first blush, all of that might seem to make the decision’s chances of surviving review by a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices quite promising.
But legal scholars said on Monday that the poor quality, breathtaking sweep and unknown collateral consequences of the Texas decision might cause at least some of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices to wait for a case that would allow them to take more measured steps.
“If you’re a justice looking for a case in which to undermine the administrative state, this is not a particularly elegant one,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor and historian at the University of California, Davis. “Everything about this case makes it an imperfect vehicle, except for the fact that it’s about abortion and the administrative state. This is boundary testing.”
Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said the new case, should it reach the Supreme Court, might meet a reception similar to that of the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. In 2021, by a vote of 7 to 2, the court said that the 18 Republican-led states and two individuals who brought the case had not suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them standing to sue.
Despite the conservative majority’s misgivings about the health care law, Professor Adler said, “when push came to shove and they were presented with a fundamentally deficient legal theory, only two justices were willing to give that legal theory the time of day.”
History may repeat itself in the Texas case, he said. “I view some of the administrative law aspects of this case to be similar,” he said, noting that there were significant threshold issues involving the plaintiffs’ standing to sue, whether they had exhausted other avenues for relief and whether they had taken too long to bring an action.
The pharmaceutical industry plunged into a legal showdown over the abortion pill mifepristone on Monday, issuing a scorching condemnation of a ruling by a federal judge that invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug and calling for the decision to be reversed.
The statement was signed by more than 400 leaders of some of the drug and biotech industry’s most prominent investment firms and companies, none of which make mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. It shows that the reach of this case stretches far beyond abortion. Unlike Roe v. Wade and other past landmark abortion lawsuits, this one could challenge the foundation of the regulatory system for all medicines in the United States.
“If courts can overturn drug approvals without regard for science or evidence, or for the complexity required to fully vet the safety and efficacy of new drugs, any medicine is at risk for the same outcome as mifepristone,” said the statement.
What the DOJ is doing:
Also on Monday, the Justice Department filed a motion asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stay the ruling by Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas until the department’s appeal of the case could be heard. Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically of Roe v. Wade, had issued only a seven-day stay of his ruling to allow the government a chance to appeal.
“If allowed to take effect, the court’s order would thwart F.D.A.’s scientific judgment and severely harm women, particularly those for whom mifepristone is a medical or practical necessity,” said the Justice Department motion, which noted that mifepristone was also used in treating miscarriages.
It added: “This harm would be felt throughout the country, given that mifepristone has lawful uses in every state. The order would undermine health care systems and the reliance interests of businesses and medical providers.”
The appeals court gave the plaintiffs, a coalition of groups and doctors who oppose abortion, until midnight Tuesday to file a response.
For example, one study, with ties to anti-abortion nonprofit the Charlotte Lozier Institute, relies on the anonymous experiences of users on one particular website. The study uses 98 blog posts made over the course of 10 years. The authors note that the small sample group is one of the study’s limitations.
However, despite the limited scope of the study, the conservative Christian judge writes that “eighty-three percent of women report that chemical abortion ‘changed’ them — and seventy-seven percent of those women reported a negative change” — citing the study of 98 anonymous blog posts.
In another example, the judge cites an analysis that suggests a link between negative mental health outcomes and abortion written by abortion researcher Priscilla Coleman whose study has been denounced for years by abortion researchers and whose other work has previously been retracted by leading journals.
Julia Steinberg, an expert on mental health and abortion, told Reuters in 2012 that most women in the study who experienced mental health issues after having an abortion had also experienced them before the abortion. The Guttmacher Institute also debunked the study in a letter.
Clearly, Kacsmaryk is woefully unqualified to be a federal judge.
In interviews, several legal and medical experts said Kacsmaryk’s decision was unprecedented and clearly ideological. His language and reasoning, they said, closely mirrored arguments and concepts put forward by the anti-abortion movement — at the expense of scientific consensus in some instances.
The experts pointed to several key examples of the extreme nature of Kacsmaryk’s 67-page ruling, including his use of politicized terminology and apparent endorsement of the contentious idea of “fetal personhood.” Here are the parts of the ruling experts found most striking….
In his ruling Friday, Kacsmaryk used various terms closely associated with the anti-abortion movement, according to the experts who were interviewed. Notably, Kacsmaryk referred to the two-pill regimen that is the most common way to terminate a pregnancy in the U.S. as “chemical abortion,” rather than “medication abortion.” The plaintiffs in the suit, a group called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, use the same term in their filings and messaging.
“‘Chemical abortion’ is absolutely not a scientific or medical term. It is something that has been utilized and propagated by those who want to ban abortion or restrict abortion,” said Dr. Jenni Villavicencio, an OB-GYN who is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ lead for equity transformation.
Villavicencio characterized “chemical abortion” as an “emotive” term meant to inspire fear about the risks of ending a pregnancy.
She also highlighted Kacsmaryk’s references to a fetus as an “unborn human” or an “unborn child.”
Kacsmaryk wrote that mifepristone “blocks the hormone progesterone, halts nutrition, and ultimately starves the unborn human until death.” [….]
Kacsmaryk’s references to an “unborn child” align with other parts of his decision in which he suggests that any potential “side effects” or “significant complications” caused by mifepristone should apply to both the pregnant woman and “to the unborn humans extinguished by mifepristone.”
Such wording, experts said, references the concept of “fetal personhood”: the idea promoted by the anti-abortion movement that a fetus should be recognized as a person with constitutional rights from the moment of conception. Under that theory — which many legal analysts and abortion rights advocates oppose — an abortion would be considered murder.
On Friday, a Trump-appointed judge with a long history of anti-choice activism ordered the FDA to take a medication that is safely used to perform most abortions off the market, based on the thinnest of legal rationales. The same day, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gaslit the nation by saying he’d seen no need to disclose the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of largess he received from a right-wing billionaire.
These two apparently disparate events are fruit of the same poison tree. They each reflect a fundamental problem with the GOP’s decades’ long effort to remake the nation by packing the federal courts with extremists: A judiciary at odds with, and even contemptuous of, most of the nations’ citizens is not sustainable.
A brief history of SCOTUS’s decline since Bush v. Gore
During what can now fairly be titled the federal courts’ “Trump Era,” Americans’ trust in the judicial branch has plummeted. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s overruling Roe, 58 percent of the nation now disapproves of how the Supreme Court is handling its job, and less than half the country has confidence in the institution. This is hardly a surprise; indeed, what’s surprising is how long it has taken most of the nation’s citizens to realize that the packed Supreme Court has become a partisan tool of the Republican Party, and a direct adversary to the nation’s foundational principles of democracy and civil rights.
Even before Trump and Mitch McConnell packed the Supreme Court with a right-wing supermajority, GOP-appointed justices were pursuing a brazenly anti-democratic project, which only became more audacious as each judicial attack was met with little pushback.
Even before Trump and Mitch McConnell packed the Supreme Court with a right-wing supermajority, GOP-appointed justices were pursuing a brazenly anti-democratic project, which only became more audacious as each judicial attack was met with little pushback.
In addition, the court ruled in 2019 that the US Constitution places no limits on the partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts that, in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Tennessee, has so diluted the votes of many citizens as to make a farce of the democratic process. In addition, it appears several justices are interested in a dubious reading of the Constitution that would prevent governors and state courts from addressing such largely GOP-driven gerrymandering, even when it squarely violates the state constitutions state courts and elected officials are charged with enforcing.
The Roberts court also set out to open political campaigns to brazen corruption by gutting campaign finance laws, including in the 2010 Citizens United case, which voided key limits on dark money in political campaigns, as well as a 2021 decision that protected the identities of many dark money donors from even being disclosed. But these deeply partisan decisions proved only to be a preamble for what was to come.
As the two years since Trump’s failed insurrection against democracy have demonstrated, the vast majority of GOP “leaders” either support, or are unwilling to oppose, the Republican Party’s movement toward outright authoritarianism. And that same tendency is evident in the rulings of Trump Era judges.
In last year’s Dobbs decision, the Trump Era Supreme Court supermajority used a case that was initially about a 15-week abortion ban to overrule Roe entirely. As I observed after a draft of the decision was leaked, it was all but inevitable that the GOP, along with the Court, would be met with a public backlash. But that backlash is only leading to a doubling down upon extremism, including among some right-wing jurists.
It should not be surprising, however, that extremists the GOP has installed in the judiciary — chosen for their ideological fervor, not their political savvy — are determined to use their lifetime judicial appointments to impose right-wing economic, political and social policy agendas on the nation, whether the nation wants them or not.
It’s not at all surprising that the right wing courts are so focused on controlling women’s bodies. I’m feeling discouraged and overwhelmed with rage and fear over what is happening, but it does seem as if a majority of Americans are now pro-choice, and they are voting on these issues. So there’s hope. Please share your thoughts on these articles and feel free to discuss any other issue that is important to you.
Take care, Sky Dancers!
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Former President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90.
With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Toward victory, always!”
Castro’s reign over the island-nation 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Florida was marked by the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died 10 years after ill health forced him to hand power over to Raul.
Castro overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa.
His commitment to socialism was unwavering, though his power finally began to fade in mid-2006 when a gastrointestinal ailment forced him to hand over the presidency to Raul in 2008, provisionally at first and then permanently. His defiant image lingered long after he gave up his trademark Cohiba cigars for health reasons and his tall frame grew stooped.
“Socialism or death” remained Castro’s rallying cry even as Western-style democracy swept the globe and other communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism, leaving this island of 11 million people an economically crippled Marxist curiosity.
Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died Friday. He was 90….
In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when he was felled by a serious illness. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raúl Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother’s closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.
Fidel Castro had held on to power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II. He became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people.
He dominated his country with strength and symbolism from the day he triumphantly entered Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, and completed his overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by delivering his first major speech in the capital before tens of thousands of admirers at the vanquished dictator’s military headquarters.
A spotlight shone on him as he swaggered and spoke with passion until dawn. Finally, white doves were released to signal Cuba’s new peace. When one landed on Mr. Castro, perching on a shoulder, the crowd erupted, chanting “Fidel! Fidel!” To the war-weary Cubans gathered there and those watching on television, it was an electrifying sign that their young, bearded guerrilla leader was destined to be their savior.
Much more at the link.
Meanwhile, we’re in the midst of a shocking revolution here at home. Our government has been essentially taken over by a hostile foreign state, and it appears that no one in power is doing anything about it. It looks like we are going to be ruled by billionaires–are we really going to allow our country to become a Russian oligarchy?
In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.
U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support President-elect Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president’s foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directedthe illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
From the Russian perspective, the success of this operation can hardly be overstated. News stories on the DNC emails released in July served to disrupt the Democratic National Convention, instigate political infighting and suggest for some supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — without any real proof — that the Democratic primary had been “rigged” against their candidate. On Oct. 7, WikiLeaks began near dailydumps from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, generating a month of largely negative reporting on Clinton, her campaign staff, her husband and their foundation. With some exceptions, there was little news in the email beyond political gossip and things the media had covered before, now revisited from a seemingly “hidden” viewpoint.
Russian (and former communist) propaganda has traditionally worked exactly this way: The more you “report” something negatively, the more the negative is true. Trump and supportive media outlets adopted the technique and reveled in information gained from the illegal Russian hacking (as well as many “fake news” stories that evidencesuggestswere generated by Russian intelligence operations) to make exaggerated claims (“Hillary wants to open borders to 600 million people!”) or to accuse Clinton of illegality, corruption and, ironically, treasonous behavior.
Does anyone in the Obama administration have serious concerns about this? And what about possible connections between Russia and factions in FBI? I can only hope that efforts to deal with the situation are going on behind the scenes, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. Instead, it looks like the Obama administration is focused on making things easier for Trump and his Russian oligarch pals.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”
The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin.
A drive by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for recounts in those states had brought in more than $5 million by midday on Friday, her campaign said, and had increased its goal to $7 million. She filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline.
In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”
That was a reference to the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s email system, and the leak of emails from figures like John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
“Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” it added.
President Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton to persuade her to concede the White House on election night, according to a forthcoming book on Clinton’s defeat.
Authors Amie Parnes, The Hill’s senior White House correspondent, and Jonathan Allen cite three Clintonworld sources familiar with the election-night request in the unreleased book from Crown Publishing.
“You need to concede,” Obama told his former secretary of State as she, her family, and her top aides continued to watch results trickle in from the key Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The latter state, called after 1:30 a.m. by The Associated Press, was the clear tipping point for the White House race, ensuring Trump would crest over the 270 electoral-vote threshold needed to win.
Clinton ultimately heeded Obama’s advice and called Trump to acknowledge her defeat in the early morning hours Wednesday….
Obama’s call left a sour taste in the mouths of some Clinton allies who believe she should have waited longer, and there’s now a fight playing out between the Obama and Clinton camps over whether to support an effort to force the Rust Belt states to recount their votes.
MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Elections Commission today received two recount petitions from the Jill Stein for President Campaign and from Rocky Roque De La Fuente, Administrator Michael Haas announced.
“The Commission is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for President of the United States, as requested by these candidates,” Haas said.
“We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Haas said. “We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”
The last statewide recount was of the Supreme Court election in 2011. At that time, the Associated Press surveyed county clerks and reported that costs to the counties exceeded $520,000, though several counties did not respond to the AP’s survey. That election had 1.5 million votes, and Haas said the Commission expects the costs to be higher for an election with 2.975 million votes. “The Commission is in the process of obtaining cost estimates from county clerks so that we can calculate the fee which the campaigns will need to pay before the recount can start,” Haas said. The Commission will need to determine how the recount costs will be assessed to the campaigns.
The state is working under a federal deadline of December 13 to complete the recount. As a result, county boards of canvassers may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the deadlines. “The recount process is very detail-oriented, and this deadline will certainly challenge some counties to finish on time,” Haas said.
A recount is different than an audit and is more rigorous, Haas explained. More than 100 reporting units across the state were randomly selected for a separate audit of their voting equipment as required by state law, and that process has already begun. Electronic voting equipment audits determine whether all properly-marked ballots are accurately tabulated by the equipment. In a recount, all ballots (including those that were originally hand counted) are examined to determine voter intent before being retabulated. In addition, the county boards of canvassers will examine other documents, including poll lists, written absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots, and provisional ballots before counting the votes.
Haas noted that the Commission’s role is to order the recount, to provide legal guidance to the counties during the recount, and to certify the results. If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed. The circuit court is where issues are resolved that may be discovered during the recount but are not resolved to the satisfaction of the candidates.
Lansing — Elections officials are preparing for a possible presidential election recount in Michigan that could begin as soon as next week, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has indicated she plans to jumpstart a recount in the Great Lakes state over fears that Michigan’s election results could have been manipulated by hackers. Republican President-elect Donald won the state by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to unofficial updated resultsposted Wednesday.
By Friday afternoon, Stein had raised more than $5 million of her $7 million goal to cover the cost of a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan “to ensure the integrity of our elections” because “there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals,” according to her campaign website. Stein finished nearly 2.3 million votes behind Trump in Michigan and received 1.1 percent of the vote.
Michigan’s deadline for initiating a recount is Wednesday. “We have not heard from anybody,” Thomas said about a Stein recount request. “We’re just trying to be proactive, make sure we have plans.”
Thomas said officials “could probably begin by the end of the week,” although it will be “a huge undertaking in a very short period of time” if it happens.
That’s all I have for you today. I admit that I’ve been sinking into depression and despair over the past few days. I don’t know how to deal with this nightmare. I’m not giving up; I’m just in a state of extreme confusion and not sure how to come out of it yet.
Take care Sky Dancers! I love you all.
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Here in the Fitzwalkerstan, epicenter of the NeoConfederate North, we live the good life by clinging to a barbarian code not unlike that of this famous thief: Conan, what is the best in life (see video below).
At one time, we were known as the home of Progressivism, then we were Wisconsin. But since 2010 we’ve acquired a new character and a new appellation: Fitzwalkerstan.
Our new name is an affectionate conjunction referencing the subsumption of our state by simulacrum Scott Walker, mimicking a Governor, aided by his aping sibling-minions, the Fitzgerald brothers: Scott, State Senate Majority Leader and Jeff, Speaker of the Assembly. After a failed U.S. Senate bid, losing out to Tammy Baldwin, Jeff has since left the Assembly – sort of. He’s now a state lobbyist for American Traffic Solutions. We all miss him. We miss the bare fisted nepotism when Walker had the Fitzgerald brothers heading up both branches of the state legislature, gumming up the government and retooling it for their own ends.
Jeff’s departure for the revolving door didn’t diminish the pace or the agenda, however. Scott Walker has since run rough shod over what was once Wisconsin. Given he spends more time out of state than in, it’s kind of crazy that he can get so much done. But where there’s a will there’s a way as they say. Cognitive Dissidence, one our local blogs recently compiled a short list of Walker’s achievements:
I would assume that the protests which erupted in Madison, our state capitol, and the subsequent Lincoln-like flight of our Democratic legislators escaped no one’s attention in 2011. These are the events that put Scott Walker, the Rock Star, on the map. His celebrity status may have faded a little bit by now, but it had just erupted in February of 2011 when he “dropped the bomb” by unleashing the union-busting atrocity known as Act 10. And a rock star he was, indeed, at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit, occurring ever so fortuitously at the end of February. But no one paid attention to that event despite Scott Walker being a gushed at guest speaker. I believe I alluded to the summit in a comment at one point, and I believe I also pasted the poem I wrote in response to it. I mention it again because Dakinikat wisely warned us that what happens in Louisiana can happen anywhere. Right she was.
The Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit occurred over a three day period. I did not attend. I did watch the majority of it piece meal when the Tea Party Patriots still had the stream posted on their website. It was painful. It was ghastly. But it was worth it. By the end of that terrible weekend, the summit had outlined every nasty maneuver the GOP has initiated during their reign of terror in DC and in statehouses across the country. From hostage politics, shut-downs, voter disenfranchisement, the war on women… all laid out in its hideous glory. A grand strategy with a tactical mechanism to make it happen at every level of government. I’ve watched the goals of that summit play out over the last two years in my state, many others, and certainly in DC. Walker and Jindal operate from the same playbook reflecting the strategy laid out at the Tea Party summit in 2011.
The Cognitive Dissidence post begins by referencing Mike Tate, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Tate has adopted Howard Dean’s 50 state-strategy, and is applying it to our 72 counties. I hope it will work. When I think on the Dean strategy I think more of the South than I do our NeoConfederate North. Perhaps this is the strategy that can turn the South from red to blue? This is probably a topic that has received coverage already, but if anyone could speak to it now, I’d be extremely interested in a discussion about Southern political dynamics, also bruising the Red West until it is a lovely shade of blue or blue-green.
Digression alert: Blue-green is sacred to Wadjet, Ancient Goddess of Lower Egypt. No Egyptian deities had names that could ever be uttered, so no one knows their true names. Wadjet, the epithet and the color refer to the color of papyrus hence her epithet, Wadjet, means Papyrus-Colored One. That’s a digression which hasn’t anything at all to do with shifting political landscapes, I mentioned it because blue-green always reminds me of the Wadjet color, and I think Wadjet is pretty groovy, and I think I want my own epithet. Maybe She-Who-Digresses would be fitting.
Now might be a good time to explain the photos. They are part of a series of photographs I call “Dying Camellias.” Though, they’re not camellias. They’re peonies. I photographed thousands over 2 seasons during various stages of decay. I love the decay process, and peonies have an exceptionally bizarre decay process. I include them because this post is about the process of decay.
We see it in my state inflicted by Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP. But Walker really can’t muster an original thought in his head. He hasn’t the capacity for complex thought let alone strategy. He dropped out of college or was kicked out for substandard performance; he doesn’t speak about it so no one knows which is the more accurate.
He’s one of the most inarticulate politicians ever, yet his predigested talking points, no matter how inarticulately executed, work phenomenally well. And they get regurgitated by the populace. It’s an astounding phenomenon to observe. Yet, he has improved due to what I suspect is the same grooming Paul Ryan received for the presidential stage. I think that polish has a distinct cast recognizable as the Koch-sheen.
I believe Walker’s talking points take on the same gleam, and his obfuscating rhetoric succeeds because he speaks the secret language of conservative dog whistles, a language any conservative anywhere in the U.S. would hear. Those are the dog whistles of the right wing political machine that is moving across the land. It’s the same machine that has groomed Scott Walker from an utter buffoon to a skillful politician and the very same cookie-cutter homogenization juggernaut steamrolling over all 50 states. It is as coordinated an effort as it gets. It is, itself, a process of national decay fueled by regression.
The strategy – the Tea Party strategy – is fusing the Libertarian and Evangelical wings of the Right. In the long run, I don’t think that strategy will work, these two factions aren’t natural allies. I think we can already see the bonds decaying between more traditional Conservatives like Chris Christie and Libertarian wingnuts like Rand Paul. Yet, to use an appropriate epithet – the Political-Machine-That-Festers will initiate long-term rot if the rot machine continues unabated. The pace of rot since the 2010 sweep, no doubt, indicates the desire to do as much agenda-cementing as fast as possible prior to their demographic death. On that note, hear hear to a little festering! Let the beauty of decay begin!
Speaking of swindlers and shenanigans, I love this:
Should exceptionally executed forgeries have a value all their own? How much should an artists’ name affect the worth of a work?
Also on the art front: one who doesn’t seem in decline or decay is Yoko Ono, whose diverse art platforms spanning fifty years of expression went on display at Louisiana’s Museum of Modern Art in June. The exhibit, commemorating Yoko’s 80th birthday, runs until September 29. Should any of our Southern Sky Dancing sisters make their way to the exhibit, I should very much like a review! Admittedly, I’ve never concluded an aesthetic opinion on Yoko Ono’s work. At the same time, one can’t deny she is a dynamic woman worthy of a level of respect she has not perhaps received in decades past, yet absolutely deserving of mention in a post about decay – she’s weathering her withering well.
The measure appeared headed for defeat after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) came out against it Friday, as did two GOP senators who sit on the committee that would decide the bill’s fate.
Earlier Tuesday, McDonnell said during a televised interview that he was “afraid people will ignore Virginia” if the commonwealth switched to an electoral college system that picked winners by congressional district.
The governor told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the winner-take-all system most states use is the way to go, and that splitting up electoral votes by congressional districts is a “bad idea.”
In another blow to the push to replace the winner-take-all method for awarding electoral votes, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said he is “very skeptical” of a Republican proposal in his state to adopt the congressional district system for allocating the votes.
“You don’t want to change the playing field so it’s an unfair advantage to someone, and in a lot of ways we want to make sure we’re reflecting the vote of the people, and this could challenge that,” Snyder, a Republican, said today on Bloomberg Television’s “Bottom Line.”
“I don’t think this is the appropriate time to really look at it,” he said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville is wary of a proposal to split up Michigan’s Electoral College votes by district, suggesting that such a move could diminish the state’s importance in presidential elections.
“I don’t know that it’s broken, so I don’t know if I want to fix it,” Richardville said Tuesday, becoming the first high-ranking Michigan Republican to question a bill that state Rep. Pete Lund is poised to reintroduce in the House.
“We’ll take a look at it,” Richardville said. “I’ve heard these things before, all or nothing versus splitting it up. I want to make sure that Michigan’s voice is a loud and clear voice, so I’d be a little concerned if we ended up splitting the difference.”
Other Michigan elected officials noted that presidential candidates would be less likely to campaign in the state if they knew they could win only a small number of votes in favorable districts.
Walker said Tuesday it’s an interesting idea, but not one he spends time thinking about. He says because Wisconsin is a battleground state, presidential and vice presidential candidates have an incentive to make repeated campaign stops here. He says he’s wary that changing the system could dissuade candidates from visiting.
Finally, in Ohio, several GOP leaders, including Secretary of State Jon Husted, oppose the plan.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Count Ohio’s Republican leaders out of a GOP-backed effort to end the Electoral College’s winner-take-all format in the Buckeye State and other presidential battlegrounds.
Spokesmen for Gov. John Kasich, State Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William G. Batchelder told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district.
Batchelder went a step further, saying through his communications director that he “is not supportive of such a move.” And Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections administrator, emphasized that he does not favor the plan either, despite Democratic suspicions based on reported comments that he said were taken out of context.
“Nobody in Ohio is advocating this,” Husted said in a telephone interview.
That just leaves Pennsylvania and perhaps Florida. Would those states want to discourage candidates from coming in to campaign?
It certainly looks as if the GOP electoral vote-rigging scheme is a loser.
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Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, and some other guy
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s time in the glow of media attention isn’t quite over yet. He’s still making an ass of himself without realizing it. Via Mother Jones, The Republican Senator who was humiliated by Hillary Clinton during last week’s Benghazi hearings gave an interview on January 16 to The Atlas Society, an organization who raison d’etre is the celebration of the odious Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged.
Johnson is such a huge fan of the novel that he and a friend (Tea Party leader and campaign fundraiser Ben Ganther) bought a giant statue of Atlas holding up the world and today it sits outside his friend’s contracting business in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. Engraved on the statue’s base are the words “Fight to be free.”
Johnson told interviewer Laurie Rice that he “absolutely” sees “parallels” between the U.S. today and the plot of Atlas Shrugged.
It’s a real concern. As I talk to business owners that maybe started their businesses in the ’70s and ’80s, they tell me Ron, there’s no way– with today’s regulations, today’s levels of taxation– there’s no way I could start my business today. And I’m certainly concerned a lot of the generation of baby boomers that have had successful businesses, they just might shrug. With all the regulations, with the increasing taxes, they may say I’m going to give it up.
According to Johnson, we’re headed for disaster because of the national debt and because of the New Deal programs that have been in effect since the 1930s with no ill effects, but are suddenly going to bring the country down. Does this man know that Ayn Rand took both Social Security and Medicare?
I see two tipping points– the financial tipping point, which really is, talking about the debt crisis, the point where world creditors look at the United States and say I’m not going to loan you any more money, not at that rate. And interest rates start increasing, and then our interest costs explode, crowds out all their spending. That’s the financial tipping point.
The other one I’m talking about is the cultural tipping point, where we really have developed this culture of entitlement dependency that is not what America’s all about. I mean, America– and that’s, of course, what Atlas Shrugged is about– is individuals aspiring to build things. To make their life, and as a result the world, a better place. And when we shift to a culture where people are just saying I’m happy to sit back and let the government provide me with things, that becomes a very dangerous point in time for this country.
Apparently Johnson knows better than Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who isn’t at all worried about rising interest rates or a sudden lack of interest in Treasury bonds. But Johnson’s biggest fear is…wait for it….
I think Americans are a little bit like a bunch of frogs in that pot of water and the water’s being brought up to a boil. And I think we’re losing freedoms across the board. The reason I ran really was in reaction to the passage of the health care law, which I think is really the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.
During the original oral arguments at the Supreme Court, I was the only Senator that attended all four days of those arguments. And prior to attending those, I was being interviewed by somebody and I had this concept that we’re all suffering collectively from the Stockholm Syndrome. That’s where people who have been kidnapped are grateful to their captors when they just show them a little bit of mercy. And collectively, we just don’t understand the freedoms we’re really losing.
So we’re going to the Supreme Court, begging them please, please allow us this one last shred of freedom. Allow us the freedom to decide what product we’re going to purchase or not purchase. And unfortunately for Americans, for our freedoms, we were denied that right.
But Johnson assures us he’ll never give up fighting for our freedom to live without health insurance.
I guess when you take a look at the book Atlas Shrugged, I think most people always like to identify with the main character– that would be John Galt. I guess I identify with Hank Rearden, the fella that just refused until the very end to give up. And I guess I’d like to think of myself more as a Hank Rearden– I’m not going to give up.
America is something far, far too precious in the span of human history. I’ll never give up hope on America. I hope everybody that’s watching this will never give up hope.
Before what he calls “the jaw-dropping” events of the past 19 months — TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler’s creditors, Obamacare, etc. — the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” his “foundational book” — and now is ablaze, in an understated, Upper Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like.
As for the novel that helped form his bizarre world view, Johnson told Will,
What Samuel Johnson said of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” — “None ever wished it longer than it is” — some readers have said of “Atlas Shrugged.” Not Johnson, who thinks it is “too short” at 1,088 pages.
Noting that Massachusetts “is requiring insurance companies to write polices at a loss,” he says, “We’re living it,” referring to the novel’s dystopian world in which society’s producers are weighed down by parasitic non-producers.
He probably takes the Bible literally too. Are there any Republicans left who don’t get all their ideas from fiction and folklore?
I’ll be back later with a midmorning reads post. Have a great morning and a fabulous Tuesday!
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.