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Iowa’s Ernst dabbles in nullification extremism

In 2010 and 2012, Republican primary voters nominated some pretty outrageous candidates who were so extreme, they alienated the American mainstream and helped deliver key victories to Democrats. The names are as familiar as they are infamous: Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock, Christine O’Donnell, et al.

There’s a sense that the GOP learned valuable lessons from these fiascos, and made a conscious, concerted effort to nominate fewer extremists for statewide contests in 2014

Iowa’s Joni Ernst is a notable exception.

As Rachel Maddow noted on her show last month, Ernst has said she would ban abortions and many forms of birth control; she would privatize Social Security and abolish the minimum wage; she would back an anti-gay amendment to the Constitution; she’s open to impeaching President Obama for unknown reason; and she believes there’s secret information that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday, Ben Jacobs ran a report that’s arguably the more alarming revelation to date: the right-wing U.S. Senate candidate “appears to believe states can nullify federal laws.”

In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a forum held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”

“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right … we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators – as senators or congressman – that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Jacobs’ report added that Ernst, during her brief tenure as a state senator, hasn’t sponsored pro-nullification legislation, but she did back a resolution that says “the State of Iowa hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” It was introduced in response to “many federal mandates [that] are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

I can appreciate why issues like nullification may seem esoteric to everyday concerns on the minds of Iowa voters, but it’s important to appreciate how this fits into a simple truth: the more the picture of Ernst comes into sharper focus, the more radical she appears.

In this case, Ernst didn’t explicitly call for the nullification of a specific law, but that’s not really the point – Ernst seems to have a general belief that states can nullify federal laws they don’t like, which puts the right-wing Iowan on the furthest fringes of modern American thought

To be clear, this is not in a legal gray area. This isn’t a judgment call. It’s not a question that could go either way if tested in the courts. Rather, the question of whether states can invalidate federal laws they don’t like was decided in the middle of the 19th century – in something called the Civil War – and it was a dispute the nullification crowd lost.

That a competitive U.S. Senate candidate is making comments like these, out loud and on purpose, is pretty scary, to put it mildly. We’re not talking about the usual Democrat-vs.-Republican, left-vs.-right debate; this is settled American law vs. looney tunes.

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Poll: Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit is backfiring

If you think House Speaker John Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit against President Obama for failing to implement Obamacare quickly enough makes him look like an obstructionist jackass who is more interested in political stunts than doing the right thing for the country,you’re not alone:

A majority of Americans view House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) lawsuit over President Obama’s delayed implementation of ObamaCare’s employer mandate as a “political stunt,” according to a new poll released Monday.The survey, commissioned by liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, found that 51 percent of voters don’t believe the lawsuit is legitimate, versus just 41 percent who do.

Moreover, 56 percent say the lawsuit is wasteful spending, with just 36 percent saying it is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

Here’s the kicker:

The survey found that a plurality of Americans — 46 percent — say the suit makes them less likely to vote for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. By contrast, three in 10 say the suit makes them more likely to vote for the GOP.

And why is that? Perhaps because of this:

Some 58 percent of voters say the suit will not help improve the lives of people like them, and 63 percent say Congress should be more focused on taking action to create jobs.

On the one hand, these results are heartening, because it’s always good to know that a solid majority of the country hasn’t gone completely bonkers. On the other hand: Who the hell are the 37 percent of morons who wouldn’t rather see Congress focused on jobs instead of Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit?\

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When Conservatives Engage in Islamophobia and Homophobia, and Then Evoke Nazi Analogies, Hitler Smiles Gleefully In Hell

 

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Conservative media personalities from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh, as well as lawmakers and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, have done their best to create a revisionist historical narrative of the Holocaust, Third Reich, and Nazism.Saddam is another Hitler, therefore we must invade Iraq and engage in nation building through a decade of insurgent war. Liberals who admonish Bill O’Reilly are engaging in Nazi tactics by lying, even though politicians throughout history have lied and lying (although relevant) isn’t what allowed Hitler to engage in genocide or conquer Europe. Another great leap of logic is the talking point claiming Nazi Germany didn’t allow citizens gun ownership, so therefore anyone who advocates gun control is allowing another Nazi Germany.

Well, Hitler also had a German Shepherd and was a vegetarian, but that doesn’t make PETA a fascist organization or vegetarians Nazis. In addition, making childish leaps of logic is the hallmark of those who claim Islam is responsible for terrorism, even though George Bush never had a problem dancing with a Saudi prince and said verbatim after 9/11 that, “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.” There are many other examples of conservatives mangling historical accuracy to further an extreme agenda, but these historically inaccurate analogies often begin with an altered definition of words. Altering words in the hopes of marginalizing and demonizing groups based on their identity, for example condemning someone for having a beard or labeling homosexuals asabnormal, is how Goebbels, Hitler, and the Nazis killed six million Jews and millions of other human beings-including homosexuals. According to the University of Minnesota, up to 63,000 men were convicted of homosexuality in the Third Reich and about 15,000 or more were murdered in concentration camps.

In order to legitimize a new, right-wing version of history (a history where the NRA would have overthrown Hitler), people like Glenn Beck in particular have worked hard to change the definition of words like, “racism.” Whereas the Willie Horton ads of years past once served a purpose for Republicans, today even mentioning something is racist is met with a similar response. To Glenn Beck, for example, racism is no longer minorities claiming persecution because of the color of their skin or ethnic background. Rather, racism according to many conservatives like Beck is having the audacity to claim someone is racist for making outlandish statements like, “Obama has a deep seeded hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Furthermore, Islamophobic diatribes from Bill O’Reilly like, “he absolutely looked like a Muslim… I stand by it” are also used by Republicans and conservatives to demonize, or marginalize a segment of the population. Apparently looking like a Muslim is a bad thing to the Fox News pundit, even though we’ve spent over a decade in two insurgent wars trying to help Muslims and engaging in nation building within two Muslim countries. Also, the LGBT community has never been immune to ignorant statements from conservatives, including Rick Perry’s recent gem (the same Rick Perry with the N-word at the entrance of his Texas ranch) when he stated, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” As for the level of vitriol the LGBT community has faced for decades, conservatives have often times utilized religion to claim homosexuals could be “cured” from their homosexuality, as well as claiming for years that homosexuality was a sin.

The GOP’s level of homophobia is far more reminiscent of the Third Reich than any of the ridiculous analogies of liberals being fascist for wanting to make gay marriage legal or enact sensible gun legislation. According to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, homosexuals were a targeted group in the Third Reich:

Hatred of homosexuals was determined by both party ideology and the personal obsessions of the leaders, and especially of Heinrich Himmler, the main originator of the plan to exterminate homosexuals. For Himmler and other Nazi ideologues, homosexuals — like Jews — were the incarnation of degeneracy. They saw Jews and homosexuals as outsiders and inferior human beings who threatened the purity of der Volk…They accused Jews and homosexuals of using the fact that they were different as a weapon against society.

No, Republicans are not Nazis. However, many in the GOP see homosexuals as “outsiders” and have often claimed a “homosexual agenda,” or conspiracy to further LGBT rights. As Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted on his Facebook page a little while back, “Part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle.”

As for other types of fear mongering, a recent Heritage foundation conference exemplified a sad display of Islamophobia. During the panel discussion, American University Law student Saba Ahmed made the relevant point that most Muslims are good people, yet are labeled as threats by the media and lawmakers. Brigitte Gabriel, a panelist at the Heritage event, responded by using the following illogical and dangerous analogy:

“When you look throughout history, most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and, as a result, 60 million died…”

“On Sept. 11, we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims in the United States. It took 19 hijackers, 19 radicals, to bring the United States to its knees… the peaceful majority were irrelevant.

What better way to combat prejudice and ignorance than focusing on 19 terrorists while completely marginalizing 2.3 million innocent human beings? Reducing all of WWII to less than three sentences was also classic.

The truth of the matter is that genocidal regimes are started through words and propaganda that marginalize a certain group; a minority of people who are blamed for the perceived or actual infractions of a few within their religion, race, or ethnic group. While Rutgers University Professor Emeritus Peter Golden has explained that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are ”two ugly twins”, the fact that both hatreds begin with prejudice and dangerous leaps of logic (“the peaceful majority were irrelevant”) speaks volumes. Also, as explained by Edward Kissi inAuschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, genocides are enabled by fear, prejudice, and myth making:

Genocide happens through a combination of factors: 1) ethnic prejudice, racism, and other forms of hatred; 2) fear of the other; 3) extreme forms of nationalism; 4) radical and absurd ideas of social change; 5) myth-making–just simply the idea of creating mythologies around a group, constructing the group as the embodiment of all evil; and 6) the desire on the part of the state to engage in extreme propaganda against the group that motivates large numbers of people to go out and destroy that particular group.

Which political party in the United States engages in “fear of the other?” How do both political parties in the U.S. view the LGBT community, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and people on government assistance? Which political party furthered the myth that President Obama is a Kenyan with a forged birth certificate, or that the ACA will lead to death panels?

As Jasjit Singh of SALDEF eloquently penned in a recent article, ignorant statements hurt all Americans:

“They have fostered a climate of fear and hostility, which has threatened the safety and liberty of millions of Americans — Sikh, Muslim and otherwise. We must stand up, not just as Sikh Americans, but as Americans, to defend tolerance and acceptance. The beard is not a threat. It is our right.

The political goal of making a different group become the enemy and “the other” is what every Hitler analogy should revolve around, not the vapid uses of quotes from Nazis that could apply to all politicians.

With every accusation that links all Muslims with terrorism, gay people with some genetic abnormality, or allegations painting a political rival as a traitor (Anne Coulter’s book, example), Adolf Hitler smiles gleefully from a blazing inferno below.

 

H.A. Goodman, from Huffington Post

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Ten Reasons Women Are Losing While Gays Keep Winning

Even as gay equality becomes one of the fastest-advancing civil rights causes in history, reactionaries are still turning back the clock for women. Why?

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, among its many troubling consequences, is yet another entry in the latest disturbing trend of civil rights cases, in which gays win, and women lose.

Juxtapose Hobby Lobby with the recent fate of Arizona’s “Turn the Gays Away” bill. In Arizona, a religious exemption that would allow business owners to refuse to serve gay people died a fiery death. The issue was basically the same as inHobby Lobby: when businesses can discriminate on the basis of religion. Yet gays won, and women lost.

This has been going on for years. Consider: in 2004, being gay was a fireable offense in a majority of states and in the U.S. military. The first same-sex marriage case, in Massachusetts, had just been decided. It had only been a year since “sodomy” was illegal in 14 states. Gay politicians were few and far between; gay celebrities were closeted.

This week, a same-sex marriage ban was struck down in Kentucky, yet barely made the national news. Kentucky.

In the same 10 years, women’s autonomy to make their own healthcare decisions has been steadily eroded. Fifty-four abortion clinics have closed since 2010 alone, out of fewer than 800 nationwide. “Conscience clauses,” originally intended to allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions, have expanded to include entire health systems. Gag orders are in effect around the world. It hasn’t been this hard to get an abortion in 40 years.

Why is this happening? Why has the progress on LGBT equality been accompanied by regress on women’s equality? And can advocates for women take any lessons from advocates for LGBTs?

There are many possible answers to these questions. Here are my top 10.

1. Born This Way. In the 1970s and 1980s, gay liberation was about the liberation of sexual choice. “Homosexuality” was as much an act as an identity—as it still is today in some quarters of the Christian Right. Only in the 1990s did the mainstream LGBT movement (to the continuing consternation of radicals) start saying that gays are “born that way”—i.e., that sexual identity was a fundamental, and ultimately unchangeable, trait.

Abortion and contraception, however, are acts—as is the sexual act that brings them into necessity. And pro-choice activists have repeatedly failed to reframe them as issues of discrimination against women. Look at how Hobby Lobby went down: as long as women can purchase contraception elsewhere (act), who cares about the harm to their humanity (identity) that comes from an employer making decisions for them?

Unfortunately, even the name “pro-choice” reinforces that the movement is about acts and not identity: freedom of choice, not equality of status. This may be a noble goal, and it is one which many more left-wing LGBT activists still hope to pursue, but it is also one that plays badly at the polls—as the mainstream gay rights movement learned in the 1990s. ‘Thick’ liberation appeals to the left but alienates the center.  At present, many Americans oppose discrimination, but they’re okay with restricting personal freedoms. Sucks, but there it is.

2. Love is Love But Abortion Isn’t Childbirth. Together with the LGBT movement’s identity frame, it has successfully defined same-sex marriage in terms of universals to which everyone can (supposedly) relate: love, family, equality. The pro-choice/reproductive justice movement has not yet been able to do so. Yes, autonomy, freedom, and liberty are important, but the context in which those abstract values are enacted remains particular, not universal. Men cannot relate to being pregnant. Conservative women cannot relate to “choosing” to end a (prospective) life. And so far, there has not been a universalizable narrative in part because there is no …

3. Edie Windsor, by which I mean, poster children for the cause with compelling mainstream narratives. Personal stories have been shown, in several polls commissioned by the LGBT equality movement, to be the single most effective way to change minds and open hearts. The LGBT equality movement has many, from Ellen to Edie to Laverne Cox. The pro-choice movement? Not so much. Because of the continuing shame and stigma associated with abortion, and because abortion just is not that joyful, few women have shared their pro-choice journeys—and I can’t think of any who have done so as a redemptive celebration of life and freedom. Look what happened to Sandra Fluke, who was shamed as a slut for defending the right to control her body. (More on that below.) But even setting aside such outrageous rhetoric, abortion and contraception are just not as photogenic as weddings at City Hall. It’s easy to shame, stigmatize, other-ize. And shaming is a cycle: because women are ashamed to come forward, the stigma persists, shaming more women, etc.

4. Rights Lose. In addition to lacking compelling personal narratives, the “pro-choice” frame is itself a loser. This is why LGBT activists don’t use the term “gay rights” anymore: because no one likes them. In the nineties, “gay rights” came to mean “special rights,” which may be ridiculous, but which was a successful opposing frame. As with the act/identity dichotomy, “rights” also isn’t existential enough to persuade people. So LGBT activists changed their tune, shifting from rights-talk to love-talk, equality-talk, language about basic humanity. Gloria Steinem famously said that feminism is, at its core, humanism. But this message hasn’t trickled through. Many Americans still think reproductive justice is about the act of abortion, rather than the humanity of women.

5. It Pays to Have Dumb Enemies. Let’s face it: anti-gay zealots did themselves in.  Their cartoonish exaggerations of LGBT people, their closeted-gay leaders, their Bible-thumping—these play well to the base, but alienate moderates. So too the inability of all but a few conservatives to articulate a non-religious, non-bigoted-seeming objection to homosexuality. To be sure, there are wackos on the anti-choice side, with their photos of fetuses and extreme rhetoric. But the anti-choice mainstream has gotten much more sophisticated. They are putting women on the front lines (and unlike the “ex-gay” crowd, these women are only slightly creepy). They are winning incremental battles under the pretense of health regulations and parental consent. They are smart and methodical. And they don’t seem dumb, because…

6. Reasonable People (Including Women) Disagree. Arguably, reproductive freedom should not be controversial among small-l liberals.Whether a fetus is a “person” or not is a complex moral question, and since we can’t decide it as a society, it should be left up to the woman in whose body the fetus resides. But unfortunately, abortion remains controversial. It’s morally complicated, and it’s not discussed in polite company. I have no idea what celebrities or culture-makers think about it. (See: shame, above). Many people are ambivalent about it, including many ardent pro-choice activists. Think of the phrases “anti-abortion but pro-choice” or the view that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Can you think of reasonable analogues among LGBT activists? I can’t. And then there’s the brutal fact of how abortion is seen by its opponents. As loathsome as gay marriage may be to religious conservatives, at least it’s a perversion of marriage. Abortion is a kind of murder.

7. Capitalism. Because LGBT equality has been successfully framed in the context of discrimination and fairness, and because it has many privileged male champions, it has been easy for corporations to line up behind it, and reap the financial rewards of being seen as pro-gay. Sure, there are a few anti-gay outliers:Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, whatever. But this past month’s Pride festivities were like a showcase of Fortune 500 companies: banks, airlines, insurance companies. Meanwhile, I can’t think of a single A-list brand that is out, loud, and proud for reproductive freedom. That makes a big difference in terms of movement dollars and public awareness. Once again, more radical queers may bemoan the corporatization of the LGBT movement, but capitalism has a way of winning.

8. Feminism Has An Image Problem. If the pro-choice movement hasn’t been capitalist enough, it also hasn’t been grassroots enough. “Feminism” is now unfairly associated with a certain kind of privileged, coastal, irreligious white woman. For a variety of problematic reasons, it’s been disclaimed by celebrities and politicians who are obviously feminist in values but who aren’t “Feminist” by label. Most of this is unfair. But at the same time, the leadership of Planned Parenthood, NOW, and the other major mainstream organizations does tilt in that demographic direction. There is hope: younger organizations like Choice USA are more grounded in people of color, people of faith, and rural communities. And the majors are trying sincerely to catch up. But then there’s…

9. Religion. Contrary to the myth of “God vs. Gay,” progressive religious leaders have been instrumental in the LGBT equality movement from its very beginning. Like African-American civil rights leaders, they have made not just a neutral case but a positive moral case for equality. Where are the religious leaders preaching the gospel of bodily autonomy for women? Yes, there are excellent organizations like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, and many others. But in my experience, I haven’t seen the message trickle down into the pews.  Nor are faith leaders are central to the pro-choice movement as they seem to be in the LGBT movement. Just a few years ago, it seemed like the religious obsession with homosexuality was a curse. But it turned out to have been a blessing, because it provoked the ‘down-home’ moral conversations that changed people’s minds. Secular arguments about the separation of church and state may play well to the base. But they don’t move the middle.

10. Sexism. Finally, and maybe it should have been first, is sexism. Men, including gay men, have much more access to power and privilege than women do. And while masculinity may be threatened by effeminate gay men crossing gender boundaries, the threat is far more immediate when it’s your own wife or daughter. If women can control their own bodies … well, what about my wife! Meanwhile, since women aren’t really people entitled to make decisions for themselves, it’s okay to slut-shame Sandra Fluke, claim (as one GOP Senator recently did) that birth control is for “recreational behavior,” and decide for everyone that fetuses are people. “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” has been used as a weapon against gay people for some time. But Adam and Eve has been a weapon against women since the moment the myth was invented.

I, for one, am hopeful that Hobby Lobby becomes a rallying cry. I hope it gets liberals to vote this November, and gets moderates to rethink their positions. But there’s also a danger of continually playing to the base, and that is ignoring the tactics and strategies that appeal to the movable middle. For that reason, I also hope Hobby Lobby helps create a revitalized, intersectional, pragmatic, faith-affirming, message-savvy pro-choice, reproductive justice, gender justice movement.

Unlike the tidal wave of state restrictions on reproductive choice, Hobby Lobbytook place in the spotlight, on the national stage. It remains to be seen whether it also signals a change in direction.

Jay Michaelson, as originally published in the SF Bay Times

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Oakland Mayor’s Race: Candidate Bryan Parker is Focus Of Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair DV Attacks

Bryan Parker, Candidate for Oakland Mayor, Faces Unfair Domestic Violence Attacks

Bryan Parker, the man I’m backing in the Oakland Mayor’s Race, is the focus of an unfair and hidden attack, writes Oakland blogger Zennie Abraham in his Zennie62.com blog. The rest of his post from yesterday is a fascinating overview of the silent attacks in political campaigns in Oakland, and in general.  We publish the column here for our readers:

For months, there’s been a whisper campaign brewing among Oakland insiders about the problems and issues of most all of the candidates. One of the most insidious rumor campaigns is about Bryan Parker. With 20 candidates now in the race for Oakland Mayor (not including Charlie The Dog) it was only a matter of time before the attacks started.

Soon after those whispers started, I received an anonymous package with two unverified, but authentic looking police reports filed against Parker a decade ago that describe two separate domestic issues between him and two different women, one in 2003 and one in 2006.

I have reached out to both of these women for comment and noticed that one is actually a volunteer on his campaign. I have chosen not to identify the women involved until at least I have the chance to discuss it with them.

As for the allegations in these reports, they show heated arguments between Parker and the women involved. They paint a less-than pretty picture and allege such things as harsh words and the brandishing of a hand gun used for intimidation purposes.

Bryan and I have talked about this issue before.

I reached out to Parker and he provided me with the statement that appears here (Bryan Parker Statement On Smear Campaign), saying he, too, had also received these police reports anonymously several months ago when someone left them in his fiancé’s mail box (which, if you think about it, is a form of harassment and intimidation).

 

Although Bryan was not surprised these incidents had come forward given the competitive mayoral campaign, he also had no awareness that these reports existed until now.
This made me curious as to the source of the information.

Considering the timing, all logic would suggest it was an operative of Mayor Jean Quan who was distributing these reports in an attempt to eliminate potential competition. Parker was one of the first candidates to announce and has remained a formidable frontrunner, although the field has recently grown widely.

Whether or not Quan’s campaign is behind this (and I’m told that it is, so Mayor Quan’s going to have to stop texting and driving and talking) there’s no doubt that the distribution of these reports are tactics being used by an opposing campaign.

For me, the question becomes should this be an issue?

These police reports were taken at the request of the women involved. No follow up investigation or reports exist about whether Parker was ever personally contacted by police about these allegations.

More important, no charges were ever filed against him because it appears the facts of both cases did not merit further investigation or action.

If all that is true – and these reports do in fact document heated disagreements between Parker and past partners – should they matter in this Mayor’s race?

As so often the case in politics, opponents are prone to cast broad and damaging allegations supported by little proof. Those of us who cover politics are accustomed to smear campaigns.

Character does matter and while it seems that Parker may have had some anger issues as a young man, but by all accounts there is just no semblance of that by anyone who has worked or dealt with him currently, including his fiancé Kamala Peart. (Kamala Peart Statement On Smear Campaign)

When reached for comment, Peart told me that she and Parker have shared the ups and downs expected of long-term relationships, saying: “While Bryan is not perfect, I know he is a man of kindness and compassion who has never been in trouble with the law or otherwise. I am proud to know that I am marrying a man who cared enough about his own self-improvement to seek counseling and work on his spirituality so that he could learn how to be the best man and partner he can be. I would never expose my children to a person who was anything other than kind and loving.”

I also spoke to some of my friends in law enforcement. They said that that they take and such reports seriously – if they had any merit, they would have followed up on them with urgency. The fact that they did not can only mean that officers found the allegations to be less than credible.

As I considered my pick for Oakland’s next mayor, I’ve weighed all of the issues against my own experience as Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and President Of The Super Bowl XXXIX Bidding Committee, including character, vision and, more important, a candidate’s ability to lead. Bryan Parker is still my top contender, and in rank choice fashion followed by Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf and Joe Tuman, 1, 2, and 3.

Not only does this latest incident demonstrate personal growth in Bryan, but it also shows integrity – here’s a candidate who is not shying away from his past and who is using personal experience to become a better person and leader in the future.

Meanwhile, Mayor Quan still has to talk about the active lawsuit filed against her by Donna White, who asserts that an “entourage” representing Oakland Mayor Jean Quan blocked Ms. White from sitting in an area that’s normally designated for the disabled.

Stay tuned.

By Zennie Abraham of Zennie62.com, an Oakland political blogger and opinion leader.

 

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George Takei: What if Muslims Owned Hobby Lobby and Tried Imposing Sharia Law on Employees?

I’ve often said that these conservatives wading into the tricky waters of claiming “religious freedom” to justify breaking (or passing) laws should really be careful what they wish for.  It’s advice I’d give to all of those conservatives who are celebrating the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

And based on his brilliant response to that ruling, George Takei seems to be an individual who understands this as well.

Posting his response on the website for his play Allegiance, Takei made several fantastic points concerning not only the hypocrisy of this ruling, but the dangerous precedent it could set going forward.

Takei wrote, “The ruling elevates the rights of a FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION over those of its women employees and opens the door to all manner of claims that a company can refuse services based on its owner’s religion.”

“Think about the ramifications: As Justice Ginsberg’s stinging dissent pointed out, companies run by Scientologists could refuse to cover antidepressants, and those run by Jews or Hindus could refuse to cover medications derived from pigs (such as many anesthetics, intravenous fluids, or medications coated in gelatin).” he continued.

And that’s the slippery slope for which this ruling potentially opens the door.  Where will the line be drawn where you say to a company, “Sorry, but your religious beliefs aren’t protected?”

What if someone who owns a corporation is anti-vaccine?  What if they then say it’s against their religious beliefs for their company to offer health care that covers vaccines?  Based upon this Supreme Court ruling, they could theoretically be within their rights to claim that.

But the best point Takei made was in a direct shot at right-wing ignorance.  He wrote, “In this case, the owners happen to be deeply Christian; one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.”

As we all know, when these conservatives talk about “religious freedoms” they’re really only referring to Christianity.

He also went on to make the point that Hobby Lobby has invested in companies which produce the morning after pill and it gets much of its inventory from China, a country where forced abortions are common.

In other words, they’re blatant hypocrites.

“Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that,” Takei continued.  “Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue. Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.”

Once again, he’s absolutely right.

For some reason conservatives seem to think that a lack of options equates to “more” freedom.  Before this ruling, women working at Hobby Lobby had the option to have access to these contraceptives.  Now they won’t.

If the owners of Hobby Lobby reject specific types of contraceptives, that’s fine.  They don’t have to use them.  But now their beliefs are being imposed on women who might not share those same beliefs.

Take a good look, because that’s how an employer can determine an employee’s health care coverage.  Because a woman working at Hobby Lobby now can’t get health care coverage for certain contraceptives, not because she’s against them, but because her employer is.

How exactly is that respecting her religious freedoms?

Takei also points out religion is a way many conservatives have tried justifying discrimination against homosexuals.  These “religious freedom” bills that essentially give businesses the right to deny service to homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.

The bottom line is, religion has no place in government or in business.  If someone wants to express their religious views to others, they need to start a church – not a for-profit corporation.

- See more at: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/george-takei-muslims-owned-hobby-lobby-tried-forcing-sharia-law-employees/#sthash.ZcPXE80H.dpuf

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Supreme Court conservatives side with Hobby Lobby on contraception

When the legal challenges against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate were first filed, they seemed destined to fail. The law already exempts houses of worship and religious non-profits, and as the 3rd Circuit explained, courts have “long recognized the distinction between the owners of a corporation and the corporation itself.” Ruling that “a for-profit corporation can engage in religious exercise” would “eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.”

And yet, as Irin Carmon reports, conservatives on the high court found a way to side with Hobby Lobby anyway.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a closely-held company can be exempt from the contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. […]

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law at issue in the case, has never been applied to for-profit entities. The Court had to decide whether corporations even have religious exercise rights – making the beliefs of the employer synonymous with the entire company – and weigh that question against the potential harms to the employees.
It was a 5-4 decision, with the five Republican-appointed justices siding against the contraception policy and the four Democratic-appointed justices ruling in favor of it. Note, it’s not a short decision: there’s the majority ruling, a concurrence, are three separate dissents.

Of particular interest, the court seems to make a distinction between for-profit corporations and “closely held” for-profit corporations, which are businesses in which no more than five individuals own most of the corporation.

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Editorial: Good Riddance to George Lucas Vanity Museum: Chicago Be Careful What you Pray For

 

Alfred E. Neuman artwork is part of George Lucas 'art collection."

Alfred E. Neuman artwork is part of George Lucas “art collection.”

 

It was great to read the San Francisco Chronicle today and see two of its leading writers, Chuck Nevius and John King, both essentially say “Hasta la Vista, Baby!” to the vanity museum that Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas wanted to build in San Francisco’s Presidio.

The real story isn’t that Chicago “won” the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, but rather that San Francisco was victorious in rejecting a poorly-designed monstrosity that would have housed the personal collection of George Lucas’ kitschy art collection.  Chicago has “won” Lucas’ oversized ego, his childish behavior, his grumpy development team, and his collection of art that would be best exhibited in a suburban mall.

All we can say is: Thank goodness for the leadership of the Presidio Trust which turned down this monument to Lucas’ bad taste.

The Presidio park is a jewel and is enjoying nearly 20 years of success by doing the right thing and planning properly for this National Landmark and Bay Area treasure.  The cheap and cheesy museum proposed by Lucas didn’t belong on a bluff overlooking the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.  We should all thank The Presidio Trust for acting in the best interest of the public and not in the interest of a vein Hollywood millionaire and rejecting what Chicago has all-too-quickly accepted.

Bravo Presidio Trust. Good luck Chicago.

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Wall Street nervous as Sen. Sherrod Brown vies for Banking Committee chair

Well, this would be amazing: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is vying for the gavel of the powerful Senate banking committee in the next Congress – a possibility that has excited consumer groups but put big Wall Street banks on edge.

So, how did the relatively junior Brown—he has “only” been in the Senate for eight years and currently ranks fifth in seniority on the committee—come to be a top prospect for a powerful committee chair? Well, retirements have Senate Democrats playing a little game of musical chairs:

  1. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), the current committee chair, is retiring.
  2. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is currently next in line on the committee. But…
  3. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is also retiring. Reed is also next in line to lead this committee. He can only lead one major committee and is expected to take the reins of Armed Services.
  4. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is next in line after Reed. Schumer still wants to be majority leader someday and becoming Banking chair would force him into the awkward position of overseeing Wall Street, a home-state industry, at a time when most Senate Democrats want to get tougher on big banks. Schumer could take a pass on becoming Banking chair and remain chairman of the Rules Committee.
  5. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is next in line after Schumer. But Menendez is already chair of the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a gig previously held by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
  6. Brown is next in line after Menendez.

Brown is already saying he wants the job, so we could end up with one of the Senate’s best Wall Street watch dogs overseeing big banks. It would be an awesome win for progressives and makes holding the Senate this fall all the more important.

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Recology Wins Resounding Victory Over False Claims by Disgruntled Ex-Employee

San Francisco, Calif. – A San Francisco jury today cleared Recology, San Francisco’s recycling and resource recovery provider, of all 154 allegations of filing false claims to the State of California in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee that claimed the company mischarged the State of California’s recycling redemption program.

The same jury returned a verdict against the recycling company on one of the five separate allegations of filing a false claim to the City and County of San Francisco. This verdict, if it stands, claims the company wrongly benefited in the amount of $1,366,933. Recology disagrees with this finding and will appeal.

“We are thankful for the jury’s determination that cleared Recology of 158 of the 159 allegations of false claims,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for Recology. “This is a resounding victory for our company and its employee-owners.”

“Unfortunately, the complicated nature of this case has resulted in one finding against the company,” he added.  “We will be appealing the one verdict, as the facts simply do not support it.”

Recology is an industry leader in recycling and resource recovery programs and has helped San Francisco become the greenest city in North America, diverting 80 percent of its waste away from landfill. Recology programs have been replicated throughout the country and serve as a national model for resource recovery initiatives.

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KRUGMAN: Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement

How big a deal is the surprise primary defeat of Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader? Very. Movement conservatism, which dominated American politics from the election of Ronald Reagan to the election of Barack Obama — and which many pundits thought could make a comeback this year — is unraveling before our eyes.

I don’t mean that conservatism in general is dying. But what I and others mean by “movement conservatism,” a term I think I learned from the historian Rick Perlstein, is something more specific: an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists.

By rejecting Mr. Cantor, the Republican base showed that it has gotten wise to the electoral bait and switch, and, by his fall, Mr. Cantor showed that the support network can no longer guarantee job security. For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more.

To see what I mean by bait and switch, think about what happened in 2004. George W. Bush won re-election by posing as a champion of national security and traditional values — as I like to say, he ran as America’s defender against gay married terrorists — then turned immediately to his real priority: privatizing Social Security. It was the perfect illustration of the strategy famously described in Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” in which Republicans would mobilize voters with social issues, but invariably turn postelection to serving the interests of corporations and the 1 percent.

In return for this service, businesses and the wealthy provided both lavish financial support for right-minded (in both senses) politicians and a safety net — “wing-nut welfare” — for loyalists. In particular, there were always comfortable berths waiting for those who left office, voluntarily or otherwise. There were lobbying jobs; there were commentator spots at Fox News and elsewhere (two former Bush speechwriters are now Washington Post columnists); there were “research” positions (after losing his Senate seat, Rick Santorum became director of the “America’s Enemies” program at a think tank supported by the Koch brothers, among others).

The combination of a successful electoral strategy and the safety net made being a conservative loyalist a seemingly low-risk professional path. The cause was radical, but the people it recruited tended increasingly to be apparatchiks, motivated more by careerism than by conviction.

That’s certainly the impression Mr. Cantor conveyed. I’ve never heard him described as inspiring. His political rhetoric was nasty but low-energy, and often amazingly tone-deaf. You may recall, for example, that in 2012 he chose to celebrate Labor Day with a Twitter post honoring business owners. But he was evidently very good at playing the inside game.

Now, if we could just get past all the ‘god-talk’ and religious-based morals, etc. My feelings for those in Washington mirror many expressed…

It turns out, however, that this is no longer enough. We don’t know exactly why he lost his primary, but it seems clear that Republican base voters didn’t trust him to serve their priorities as opposed to those of corporate interests (and they were probably right). And the specific issue that loomed largest, immigration, also happens to be one on which the divergence between the base and the party elite is wide. It’s not just that the elite believes that it must find a way to reach Hispanics, whom the base loathes. There’s also an inherent conflict between the base’s nativism and the corporate desire for abundant, cheap labor.

And while Mr. Cantor won’t go hungry — he’ll surely find a comfortable niche on K Street — the humiliation of his fall is a warning that becoming a conservative apparatchik isn’t the safe career choice it once seemed.

So whither movement conservatism? Before the Virginia upset, there was a widespread media narrative to the effect that the Republican establishment was regaining control from the Tea Party, which was really a claim that good old-fashioned movement conservatism was on its way back. In reality, however, establishment figures who won primaries did so only by reinventing themselves as extremists. And Mr. Cantor’s defeat shows that lip service to extremism isn’t enough; the base needs to believe that you really mean it.

In the long run — which probably begins in 2016 — this will be bad news for the G.O.P., because the party is moving right on social issues at a time when the country at large is moving left. (Think about how quickly the ground has shifted on gay marriage.) Meanwhile, however, what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.

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McCain’s Politics at their Most Hypocritical

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ran into a little trouble last week. The Republican senator, a little too eager to condemn the Obama White House, complained about the prisoner swap that freed an American POW despite having already endorsed the exact same plan a few months prior. After getting caught, McCain falsely accused his critics of “lying.”

Making matters slightly worse, the Arizona lawmaker, himself a former POW, complained to the media that he hadn’t learned anything from a classified briefing on Bowe Bergdahl’s release, neglecting to mention that he’d left in the middle of it.

Despite – or perhaps, because of – these embarrassments, McCain scored another Sunday-show invitation, where he somehow managed to add insult to injury.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday called the five Guantanamo detainees released in a prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “hardcore military jihadists who are responsible for 9/11” and said he expects them to return to fighting against the U.S.
In context, looking at the full transcript, it’s hard to say whether McCain believes these five detainees were “responsible for 9/11” or whether he believes all of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay were “responsible for 9/11,” but either way, the senator is plainly wrong.

McCain added, in reference to the Bergdahl prisoner-swap, “I wouldn’t release these men, not these men. They were evaluated and judged as too great a risk to release.”

That’s wrong, too. In fact, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay told msnbc’s Alex Witt over the weekend that at first he didn’t even recognize these detainees’ names. “To trade five of them for a U.S. service member, in my estimation, and I’m often critical of President [Barack] Obama, I think they struck a pretty good deal,” retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis said.

What’s more, just a few months ago, McCain personally endorsed the plan to transfer these exact same Taliban prisoners. When he says he wouldn’t have completed the swap for “these men,” he’s neglecting to mention that he’d already expressed public support for swapping “these men.”

And all of this led to the creme de la crème:

“I believe that there are other prisoners, some of whom we have already released, that we could have released that – in exchange,” McCain argued.

If someone could explain what this means, I’d appreciate it. Putting aside the fact that McCain already endorsed the plan to swap these exact same prisoners before he changed his mind and denied changing his mind, it’s not at all clear how U.S. officials could have swapped prisoners “whom we have already released.”

It’s tempting to think that, one of these days, the Beltway will stop looking to McCain as an expert on matters related to national security and the military, but I’ve been waiting for that day for quite a while. It never seems to arrive.

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A Lawmaker May Have Just Accepted An Illegal Bribe In Order To Flip The Virginia Senate To The GOP

The Washington Post reports that Virginia state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat, “will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission.” Currently, the Virginia senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam holding the balance of power. If Puckett resigns, Republicans will gain control of the body for at least as long as it takes to elect a replacement.

The full details of this arrangement, including whether or not Puckett was explicitly offered the position as deputy director of the tobacco commission in return for his agreement to resign his senate seat, are not yet known. Although the executive director of the commission is appointed by the governor — who is currently Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe — the deputy director is appointed by the commission itself. Both the chair and the vice chair of the commission are Republicans.

If Puckett was offered the seat on this commission in exchange for his decision to resign from the state legislature, however, he may have committed a very serious crime. Under Virginia’s bribery law, it is a felony for a state lawmaker to “accept[] or agree[] to accept from another … any pecuniary benefit offered, conferred or agreed to be conferred as consideration for or to obtain or influence the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or other exercise of discretion as a public servant or party official.”

Given this statutory language, two questions need to be answered before Puckett could be prosecuted. The first is whether Puckett agreed to accept the tobacco commission job “as consideration for” his resignation from the state senate — that is, whether there was a quid pro quo deal where the job was offered up as the prize Puckett received if he agreed to resign. The second is whether Puckett’s resignation counts as an “exercise of discretion as a public servant.” Based on a search of Virginia court cases using the legal search engine Lexis, there does not appear to be a court decision answering this question.

In any event, the circumstances of this anticipated resignation — in which a Democratic senator throws control of the state legislature to the GOP, and then immediately receives a job from a commission controlled by a Republican chair and vice-chair — is suspicious. It also could have very serious consequences for Virginia’s least fortunate residents.

Gov. McAuliffe is currently embroiled in a fight with Republicans, who control the state house, over whether Virginia should accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans take the state senate, even briefly, they can use their control over the entire legislature to pass a budget that does not include the Medicaid expansion. Though McAuliffe could veto the budget, Republicans could use that veto to try to blame him for an ensuing government shutdown.

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CPUC PG&E Chicanery? California Commission Sudden Halt into PG&E Gas Pipeline Safety Raises Serious Questions, San Bruno Says

San Francisco, Calif. – The City of San Bruno today criticized a decision by the California Public Utilities Commission to halt its investigation into thousands of missing Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipeline strength test records – a sudden and shocking reversal that’s prompted concerns of a possible backroom deal brokered between PG&E and the state agency tasked with regulating it.

 

The CPUC’s Safety Enforcement Division this week quietly halted its inquiry into the safety of 435 miles of gas pipelines across California after PG&E refused to turn the information over to regulators— causing speculation that PG&E may have applied outside pressure to compel the regulatory agency to end its investigation.

 

San Bruno officials are now calling upon the CPUC to immediately re-open the investigation to force PG&E to produce accurate strength test records for 23,761 segments of pipe covering more than 435 miles – records that PG&E explicitly told the CPUC it would produce by 2013.

 

State and federal investigators identified PG&E’s faulty recordkeeping as a leading cause of the fatal 2010 pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno that killed eight, injured 66 and destroyed 38 homes.

 

“PG&E continues to play a lethal game with the lives of the public. We are deeply concerned by their persistent failure and unwillingness to produce accurate pipeline records, without which we cannot know whether our communities remain at risk for the same devastating and fatal explosion that we experienced in San Bruno,” said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. “Yet even more troubling is the CPUC’s decision to not pursue an investigation of these missing records even after preparing a motion to do so.”

 

“We question the CPUC’s sudden decision this week and are concerned it may be the result of inappropriate pressure applied by PG&E at the expense, once again, of public safety,” Ruane said.

 

The CPUC’s latest inquiry came about as part of the ongoing penalty proceeding to determine how much PG&E will be forced to pay for its gross negligence that caused the fatal explosion and fire in San Bruno. The CPUC’s administrative law judges are now considering penalties and fines against PG&E of up to $2.45 billion.

 

Yet, following unsuccessful attempts to obtain missing strength test records for more than 435 miles of pipeline directly from PG&E, the CPUC’s safety and enforcement division submitted a motion on May 30 to re-open the penalty proceeding’s record for the sole purpose of forcing PG&E to produce the documents.

 

San Bruno strongly supported the CPUC’s motion and its inquiry of the missing records, which city officials say are critical to instilling the public’s confidence in the safety of PG&E’s embattled pipeline system. San Bruno filed its own motion officially supporting the safety enforcement division’s request to obtain the missing records.

 

City officials are now questioning the division’s sudden decision to withdraw the motion and suspend the inquiry – a decision the city can only speculate as resulting from outside attempts by PG&E and its proxies to influence the CPUC’s actions.

 

“We are concerned that this decision is just further evidence of the cozy relationships that continue to jeopardize the CPUC’s ability to objectively regulate PG&E,” Ruane said.

 

San Bruno officials say this latest incident further underscores the need for an Independent Monitor, who would serve as a vigilant third-party watchdog over both PG&E and the CPUC.

 

“Only an independent monitor – free of the CPUC’s conflicts of interest and cozy relationships with PG&E that have jeopardized pipeline safety – can help guarantee that PG&E maintains good records and ensure that the CPUC provides the adequate and consistent oversight needed to keep our communities safe so that what happened in San Bruno never happens again,” Ruane said.

 

Ironically, PG&E has been spending millions of dollars on advertising its new “culture of safety,” with advertisements that stress the utility’s gas pipeline safety improvements since the San Bruno explosion and fire.  Yet, Ruane said, the utility can’t back up their advertising with proof that what they are telling the public is true.

 

Also this week, PG&E revealed that the U.S. Federal Prosecutor’s office expects to file additional legal actions against the utility for its gross negligence in the San Bruno case.  In April, the federal government charged PG&E with 12 felony violations of federal safety laws.

 

Is there a dirty deal between CPUC Michael Peevey and PG&E Executives?

Is there a dirty deal between CPUC Michael Peevey and PG&E Executives?

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Standing in the way of the GOP’s minority outreach

The Republican Leadership Conference wrapped up its three-day gathering over the weekend, offering attendees all kinds of speeches and presentations from notable party leaders and personalities.
But as Benjy Sarlin noted, the head of the Republican National Committee seems to have approached the event with some questions on his mind.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus, invoking the legacy of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, asked a question at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans that many prominent Republicans have asked in recent years: Why does the party of Abraham Lincoln not get more credit as the party of tolerance?
“We’re the party of freedom and we’re the party of opportunity and we’re the party of equality, we’re the ones with that history,” Priebus said in his speech Thursday. “It’s the other side that has a shameful history, but you wouldn’t know it because we don’t talk about it.”
Let’s go ahead and skip the history lesson in which we remind the right that white segregationists transitioned from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the middle of the 20th century.
Instead, let’s consider the speakers who followed Priebus at this year’s Republican Leadership Conference:
* Reality-television personality Phil Robertson spoke at the event, despite his recent defense of life for African Americans in the South during segregation. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,” Robertson said in an article published earlier this year. “Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ – not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
* Reality-television personality Donald Trump also spoke at the event, defending his birther crusade. “I think a lot of people love me for it,” he told the Republican Leadership Conference over the weekend. “I got [President Obama] to produce his so-called birth certificate, or whatever it is.”
* Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was a featured guest, despite his history of anti-immigrant rhetoric.
* Dinesh D’Souza was there, despite his racially charged “anti-colonialist” thesis involving the president.
* Sarah Palin was also there, despite her “shuck and jive” condemnations of the president.
Priebus wants his party to get more credit as the party of tolerance? Even if he didn’t stick around for the whole Republican Leadership Conference, couldn’t he at least look at the guest list?
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Marriage equality hits a milestone

Last week, marriage equality hit a milestone.

When judges in Oregon and Pennsylvania declared those state’s marriage bans unconstitutional and state officials decided not to challenge the decisions, we had marriage-equality states Nos. 18 and 19. Less than a week earlier, Arkansas and Idaho had their marriage bans declared unconstitutional. More than 300 couples in Arkansas married before the state got an injunction.

In addition, judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and Virginia declared those state’s marriage bans unconstitutional and judges in

Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio ruled those states must recognize out-of-state marriages, at least in certain cases.

That makes 29 states — more than half — with marriage equality or marriage equality rulings.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cautioned the court not to legalize same-sex marriage before states were ready. She used the example of Roe v. Wade, the Dallas case that legalized abortion nationwide.

In 1973, when the ruling was issued, only four states — New York, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska — had abortion on demand. In 16 states, abortion was legal under certain circumstances but illegal in 30 states under all circumstances, including threat to the woman’s health.

Ginsburg believes had the court ruled incrementally, opposition to legalized abortion wouldn’t have been as strident as it’s been.

Ruling too soon backfired in the case of sodomy.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Georgia’s sodomy law in Hardwick v. Bowers in 1986. Just 17 years later, the court decision was overturned in Lawrence v. Texas.

States were moving in the direction of loosening restrictions on sodomy, but the court wasn’t ready to side with the LGBT community in Bowers. In 1960, every state had sodomy laws on the books. Five years later, the U.S. Supreme Court took a contraception case that recognized a married couple’s right to privacy. By 1986, fewer than half the states had repealed their sodomy laws, but by 2003, only 10 states still had sodomy laws on the books. Of those, four applied only to gay men.

Everyone in the LGBT community is anxious for the Supreme Court to give the Defense of Marriage Act and marriage discrimination a final blow. Appeals court rulings are expected soon in the Utah and Oklahoma cases, so the court could decide to take one or both of those cases.

Since the Windsor decision that invalidated parts of DOMA last June, marriage equality has won in every court where it’s been heard. A number of additional cases have upcoming dates. In June, Colorado and Louisiana cases will be in court. In July, a Florida hearing begins.

Wisconsin’s trial begins in August and, in September, Idaho and Alabama are set for hearings.

Rulings are expected at any time in a number of cases including the Texas divorce case pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

Several cases may be ready for the U.S. Supreme Court by next session. The Utah and Oklahoma decisions are expected from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals any time, and Virginia is expected as early as this summer.

During the 2014-15 session, the Supreme Court could decide to hear any one of the cases decided by an appeals court, or it may choose to sit it out another term to see how all of the cases play out in lower courts.

As of this week, every state except North Dakota has at least one case filed. The cases are diverse, covering more than just the right to marry. In some states, the cases involve the right to stay married. If a couple is married in one state and then travels to another, do they have the right to expect their marriage to continue to be considered valid?

Several cases involve divorce, including a Texas case. While a couple may marry anywhere, residency is required to file divorce. If a couple is married in one state, but lives in another, must the state recognize the marriage for the purposes of divorce?

And in another Texas case, two straight men filed for the right to marry. They’re claiming simple sex discrimination is keeping them from tying the knot. Should marriage be about more than sexual attraction and allow two people who simply want to take care of each other to marry?

The Supreme Court may just let the lower courts sift through all of these questions for another year before tackling the issue again.

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Measure AA “Yes for Open Space” Campaign a Winning Proposition for Silicon Valley Economy

Business organizations, Facebook execs come out in support of measure to preserve and enhance access to the region’s natural areas

A bond measure to preserve open land and increase public access to thousands of acres of nature preserves in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is being touted by local businesses as an inexpensive way to insure their professional and personal investments while maintaining a high quality of life on the Peninsula.

“The Peninsula is not only a center of innovation, it is also an incredibly beautiful place to live and work. Measure AA will help keep it that way,” said Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Vice President of Advertising and Pages at Facebook and the grandson of Vince Garrod, a well-known advocate of open space protection in the South Bay.

The $300 million bond championed by the “Yes for Open Space” campaign would improve and enhance 25 open space areas throughout the Midpen district, which covers 550 square miles stretching from Los Gatos and Redwood City to north of Half Moon Bay.  If voters approve the measure on June 3, it would result in the restoration of thousands of acres of regional open spaces, forests, watersheds and farmland. Bond money would also be used to add 200 miles of public trails, increasing recreational opportunities for families and residents of all ages. In fact, all funds would be reserved for capital expenses and would not fund administrative overhead or compensation.

“This is a one-of-a-kind place, people want to live here because of the natural setting that surrounds us,” said Bosworth. “The fact that people from around the world want to live here is why businesses love to invest here, and it also explains why the Peninsula was able to fend off the impacts of the Great Recession better than almost anywhere else in the country.”

The quality-of-life benefit of Measure AA is one of the primary reasons it has received overwhelming support from the Peninsula business community, including such organizations as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Los Altos Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, and Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

The natural beauty of the region has helped lead to an influx of new workers, many of whom already take advantage of Midpen’s conservation efforts. Midpen now sees more than 1.5 million visitors per year and parking lots overflow at recreation staging areas on the weekends.  Measure AA would work to change that, improving infrastructure and opening access to thousands of acres of preserved land.

Measure AA would also support and enhance San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration with local, state and federal partners. Projects in the baylands would help ensure the slow release of storm water into local creeks, and reduce the risks from bay rise and potential flooding.   The measure would also protect regional wildlife and ecosystems threatened by sea-level rise and other global environmental concerns.

And the bond carries a modest cost – from $1 to a maximum of $3.18 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value, or a maximum of $21 a year in property taxes for the owner of a $700,000 home.

“Measure AA is a common-sense commitment to the environment and will help the region attract and maintain a high-quality workforce,” Bosworth said. “That kind of foresight and commitment is one of the reasons businesses invest here and are proud to call the Peninsula home.”

For a complete list of campaign endorsements, click here. For a complete list of the 25 top open space projects that will benefit from this measure, click here.

For questions or to sign up for a tour, please contact Alex Doniach at (415) 806-8566 or alex@singersf.com. For more information visit yesforopenspace.org.

 

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Senate press conferences shouldn’t be for ‘mature audiences’ only

In recent years, plenty of Senate candidates have held plenty of press conferences, but yesterday in South Dakota, one candidate seemed to break new ground: an R-rated press conference that was vulgar by design.
U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Annette Bosworth warned that nobody less than 18-years-old would be admitted to her latest press conference.
The Republican candidate has held numerous press conferences throughout the month leading up to the South Dakota Primary Election. Now, she’s using a tactic that proves to be for mature audiences only.
Those who attended the press conference expressed shock upon walking into the venue, as they saw the graphic words used as a backdrop for the event.
The Argus Leader posted the full, half-hour event, though I should note its published warning: “Because of the language contained on some of the signs, viewer discretion is advised.”
Again, that’s not the phrase one usually associates with Senate campaign press conferences.
Apparently, Bosworth and her supporters found obnoxious comments about her “on blogs, on the Internet.” In order to denounce the vulgar criticisms, Bosworth’s team painted the obnoxious words on a wall and then had the candidate hold a press conference in front of the disgusting comments.
The Republican candidate insisted that the vulgarities are proof of progressive misogyny: “The Democrats talk about a war on women, but much of what you see is written by the supposedly tolerant liberals. Their message is clear: conservative women are fair game. If you are a female and a Republican, anything goes.”
There’s reason for some skepticism here.
The Senate race in South Dakota, where voters will choose a successor for retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D), has a relatively crowded Republican primary, though former Gov. Mike Rounds appears to be the overwhelming favorite. Bosworth generally polls in the mid-single digits.
I don’t doubt that Bosworth, like many women seeking elected office, has found rude people saying offensive things online, but in general, liberals in South Dakota worried about this Senate race have focused the bulk of their attention on the competitive candidates.
For that matter, it’s an odd campaign pitch when a Senate candidate, the week before the primary, uses painted vulgarities as a closing pitch to voters.
Tom Kludt added that Bosworth’s campaign has been plagued by problems that are unrelated to hateful messages on blogs.
Bosworth’s campaign has been mired in turmoil. A medical doctor, Bosworth has been accused of underpaying a former nurse. She’s also been accused by the state attorney general of being out of the country on a missionary trip at a time when her nominating petitions indicate that she was gathering signatures.
After she was asked about the “so-called scandals,” Bosworth brought the discussion to the “surrounding of this room” and urged reporters to accept “the pretense that I’m not evil.”
At one point during the press conference, Bosworth asked to go off the record with reporters.
The press conference was being filmed and streamed online at the time.
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Jurors Beg Judge Not To Send Occupy Wall Street Protester To Prison

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Nine members of the jury that convicted an Occupy Wall Street protester of felony assault of an officer have signed a letter asking that the judge not sentence her to any prison time. “We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” the letter reads. “We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”

One member of the jury told the Guardian a day after the verdict that they weren’t aware that McMillan was facing up to seven years in prison for their verdict: “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”

In the trial that lasted nearly four weeks, McMillan claimed that her arresting officer, Grantley Bovell, violently grabbed her breast, which caused her to rear back and strike him with her elbow. Officer Bovell testified that it was intentional. Photographs show a deep bruise on McMillan’s right breast, but the jury told the Guardian they were swayed by a grainy video.

Judge Ronald Zweibel has not shown sympathy for McMillan; he sent her to Rikers without bail after the verdict (and denied her appeal), denied a request to unseal evidence that may have cast more doubts on Officer Bovell’s credibility, imposed a gag order on McMillan’s attorneys, and on more than one occasion acted angrily towards her supporters in the courtroom.

McMillan’s sentencing is on May 19th

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DIvided Court Backs Prayer at Town Meetings

The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t come as too big a surprise, but for proponents of church-state separation, this morning’s decision is nevertheless disappointing.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York may begin its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.”
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said “ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”
In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town’s practices could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.”
Let’s back up and revisit what this case was all about. At issue are town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., a Rochester suburb, which hosts a “chaplain of the month” before board members begin their official business. Nearly all of the invited chaplains are Christian, and “more often than not,” the Christian clergy “called on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to guide the council’s deliberations.”
This would appear to be out of step with the First Amendment. Americans are, of course, welcome to pray or not as they wish, but for the local government to incorporate Christian prayers as part of the official community meeting was problematic.
Some local taxpayers, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, reached out to my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed suit to keep board meetings secular. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in their favor.
The usual suspects on the high court – Republican appointees Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas – disagreed.
The underlying legal dispute has been litigated before, though the cases weren’t identical. Thirty years ago, in a case called Marsh v. Chambers, the Supreme Court cleared the way for legislative prayers, which remain quite common nationwide. But in legislative prayers, members of the public are simply spectators, whereas the public actually participates in town board meetings.
In other words, in Greece, N.Y., government-sponsored Christian prayers are more likely to make Americans feel like second-class citizens in their own community. Under the guise of “ceremonial” religious endorsements, the court majority was unmoved.
The entirety of the ruling is online here (pdf). A statement from the group that filed the case is online here.
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White House Ducks Questions On Biden’s Openness To Executive Action On LGBT Discrimination

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday dodged questions about Vice President Joe Biden’s apparent support for an executive order banning job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors.

The White House has long avoided explaining why President Barack Obama won’t take executive action on the matter, even though he made a 2008 campaign promise to do so. But on Tuesday, Biden seemed to offer an opening, telling The Huffington Post in an interview, “I don’t see any downside” to doing it — a small win for LGBT rights groups perplexed by the president’s reluctance to act.

Carney demurred when asked if the president agrees with Biden. Instead, he shifted the focus back to Congress and said the most effective way to stem LGBT job discrimination is to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — something Biden also emphasized in his remarks. That bill is stalled in the House.

“I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders,” Carney said. “There is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and we’d like to see passed by the House.”

When it was noted that Biden was willing to weigh in on a speculative executive order, Carney said, “No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly. And I’m happy to … I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the president may or may not take.”

To be sure, ENDA would go much further than an executive order. If passed by Congress, the bill would make it illegal nationwide to fire or harass someone at work for being LGBT. In contrast, an executive order would only apply to employees of federal contractors. But such an order would still protect as many as 16 millionworkers, and LGBT rights groups say both executive action and legislation are needed, given their different penalties and remedies.

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This Week in God, 4.19.14

First up from the God Machine this week is an interesting faith-based dispute involving Hobby Lobby’s corporate owner – but it’s probably not the dispute you’ve already heard about.
 
Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts chain owned by Christian conservative Steve Green, is perhaps best known in political and legal circles for its pending Supreme Court case in which Green’s attorneys believecorporations are people with their own religious beliefs. It’s this corporate spirituality, the argument goes, that entitles Hobby Lobby to deny contraception coverage to its employees.
 
But as Sarah Jones reported this week, this isn’t Green’s only interest in church-state policy.
An Oklahoma school district has approved the use of a Bible curriculum designed by Steve Green, the controversial owner of Hobby Lobby. The Mustang public schools will begin offering the curriculum next academic year.
 
As reported by Religion News Service, Green’s curriculum is designed to correspond with his planned Museum of the Bible, which is currently under construction in Washington, D.C. Jerry Pattengale, who heads the Green Scholars Initiative and is overseeing the curriculum’s development, said the ultimate goal is put the curriculum in “thousands” of schools.
 
Little is known publicly about the details of the curriculum. However, in a 2013 speech he delivered to the National Bible Association, Green explained that it’s divided into three sections: the history of the Bible, the story of the Bible, and the impact of the Bible.
It’s worth emphasizing that public schools are legally permitted to offer classes related to religious history and religious texts, so long as the curricula is secular and objective. A scholarly, historical analysis of scripture is consistent with the First Amendment’s separation of church and state; public-school evangelism is not.
 
What does Hobby Lobby’s Green have in mind for public high-school students? The Green Scholars Initiative insists lesson plans will honor the law and remain religiously neutral, but in Green’s 2013 speech, he specifically told his audience, “The history is to show the reliability of this book…. When you present the evidence, the evidence is overwhelming.”
 
Now that Green’s Bible curriculum has been embraced by an Oklahoma school district, don’t be too surprised if Hobby Lobby’s owner ends up in another major church-state court fight.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
 
* State lawmakers in Louisiana are moving forward with their plans to make the Christian Bible the official book of the state. Litigation appears likely.
 
* A New Jersey woman tried to get a personalized license plate that reads “8THEIST,” but the state DMV apparently rejected it. She’s taking the matter to federal court.
 
* As if the “war on Christmas” didn’t seem quite foolish enough, Fox News has also been talking up an alleged “war on Easter.”
 
* A fascinating story out of North Carolina: “A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church. The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes. Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away. The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn’t.”
 
* And at the close of the White House’s Easter Prayer Breakfast this week, President Barack Obama “unexpectedly turned the floor over to Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop…. Robinson retired as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in early 2013. He is now a senior fellow at the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress.”
 
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
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Judge: Ohio must recognize out-of-state gay marriages

Proponents of marriage equality have been on quite a winning streak in the courts, targeting anti-gay laws in states across the country. That streak continued this morning in Ohio.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black has formally ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, but he put a hold on his order for the time being.
“Ohio’s marriage recognition is facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black said in an order he announced verbally 10 days ago.
“It is this court’s responsibility to give meaning and effect to the guarantees and of the U.S. Constitution and all American citizens and that responsibility is never more pressing than when the fundamental rights of some minority citizens are impacted by the legislative power of the majority.”
To be sure, the judge in this case had already made clear that this ruling was coming, but for civil-rights advocates, that doesn’t detract from the satisfaction that comes with another victory.
Indeed, note that Black was fairly aggressive in smacking down Ohio’s argument, concluding that the record “is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The case did not address whether or not same-sex couples can be married in Ohio, only whether same-sex marriages performed in other states should be legally recognized in the Buckeye State.
As for the current state of the law in Ohio, in light of the ruling, Chris Geidner reported, “The ruling is stayed, or put on hold, with Black inclined to issue a stay pending appeal as to the full recognition ruling. Black wrote, though, that he is inclined not to issue a stay ‘as to the as-applied claims of the four couples who are Plaintiffs because they have demonstrated that a stay will harm them individually due to the imminent births of their children and other time-sensitive concerns,’ but he announced in his ruling that he will be taking views from both the couples and the state on the question over the next day before deciding whether to issue a stay as to the four couples.”
For those keeping score, the Ohio ruling this morning comes on the heels of related victories in Michigan,VirginiaKentuckyOklahomaUtah and Texas, just from the last few months.
Steve Benin, MSNBC
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Debunking Abortions Myths

Close your eyes and think about the word abortion.

What are some of the first things that come to mind?

Pregnancy? Unborn fetuses? Policy makers? Crying? Grief?

I’m guessing at least one of these probably popped into your head.

Our society is filled with all kinds of mixed messages and myths about abortion. We often frame the conversations around abortion as being defined by grief and pain, instead of a personal decision that is filled with a plethora of emotions and experiences.

Although abortion can involve grief and sorrow, not all people who get abortions do experience these emotions, and that’s perfectly okay.

There is no right or wrong way to navigate having an abortion.

Because of the amount of emphasis the larger cultural conversations have in these myths, it’s important that we talk about them. These myths have real consequences and real effects on policy, which limits people’s right to choose.

Let’s bust some of these myths.

Myth #1: Abortion is baby-killing.

This is something you’ve probably heard a lot.

The fact is that a fetus is not a baby. A fetus is a developing mammal; in humans, a fetusdevelops at the end of the second month of gestation.

baby, on the other hand, is a human offspring who has already been born.

It’s important to understand that there is a difference: development.

A zygote (a fertilized egg) that has implanted in the uterus just two days ago is not the same thing as a human life that has already come into being.

In terms of the person housing the pregnancy, this difference is important: a fetus cannot survive without its mother during gestation—there is no separation. A baby, on the other hand, is an autonomous being.

Therefore, a fetus is a part of its mother. That makes its existence a part of her, making it her choice to terminate; hers, and hers only.

And the talk about fetal pain? That’s just phony science.

This logically leads to the conclusion that a baby and a fetus are not the same things. A baby can survive without using its mother as a life-source; a fetus cannot.

When you have an abortion, you aren’t taking the life of an autonomous being, like in cases of infanticide. Rather, you are removing a part of your own body.

Myth #2: Abortion is used as a form of birth control.

I’m sure you’ve heard people say something to the effect of “I believe in choice, but I also don’t think it’s okay to use abortion as birth control.”

Using abortion in place of contraception is not something people (okay, most people) do!

From a logical standpoint, this idea doesn’t even make sense, as it assumes abortion is easier to access than contraception.

Abortion is becomingly increasingly hard to access and requires a lot of money and time to get. The average cost of abortion is $451 in the first trimester, but can cost upwards of $3,500.

And this doesn’t even include transportation costs, co-pays and premiums, a possible hotel-stay (as many states have mandatory waiting periods), nor the cost of possibly needing to take time off of work to fulfill the waiting period requirements.

study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute found that 31% of women who live in rural areas traveled more than 100 miles to receive abortion services, and 74% traveled more than 50 miles to access services.

This data, the most recent on record, is from 2008 (let’s not even talk about how depressing that is), before many of the most harsh restrictions on abortion services were put into place.

Also, only 66% of health insurance providers cover abortion services to some degree, whichmakes paying for an abortion very difficult. Michigan just passed a law banning the use of private health insurance for abortion services, joining eight other states with laws like this already on the books.

Additionally, the Hyde Amendment restricts federal dollars from going to fund abortion services, meaning that the poorest Americans often cannot get funding for abortions.

The average person using abortion as contraception would become pregnant two to three times per year, and would therefore be getting two to three abortions per year. This would extremelydifficult to manage and doesn’t align with statistics detailing who gets abortions.

58% are in their twenties, 69% are economically disadvantaged, and 61% have children. Not exactly ideal candidates to shell out thousands of dollars a couple of times each year.

Typically, obtaining contraception is going to be a lot easier than this.

Not to mention the fact that half of the people who get abortions reported using contraception during the month they became pregnant.

Myth #3: People who have abortions regret it or experience intense grief.

There’s no shortage of propaganda out there that shows people grieving after terminating their pregnancy. There’s a lot of hype around “post-abortion syndrome” and its negative effects – which have been proven to not exist.

This myth dominates a lot of ideas about abortion: that it’s emotionally turbulent, is chosen by emotionally unstable people, and usually results in regret.

The truth is that most people do not regret their abortions. In fact, almost 75% indicated that the benefits of getting an abortion outweighed the harm.

Another study found that 95% of abortion patients felt that they’d made the right choice.

The rates of reported depression are equal to those of the general population, not indicating anything disproportionate.

Grief and sadness are not bad emotions to feel after getting an abortion.

But neither are they the only, or even the most common experiences people have after having them.

Myth #4: Only selfish women have abortions.

This myth is built in sexism. Women who in some way choose to remain childless are constantly portrayed as being self-centered and uncaring.

A good example of this from the media would be Samantha from Sex and the City. She’s very open about the fact that she doesn’t want children, but is also portrayed as being very reckless and stoic.

Getting an abortion is not a selfish decision.

People attribute abortion to selfishness, because women are expected to put themselves last (in relation to other people) and to always take on the role of nurturer and caregiver.

This myth exists because of the ways that society has constructed womanhood: women are valued primarily for their beauty and for their roles as mothers.

Those who choose to remain childless are choosing themselves; this is in direct conflict with a culture where women are supposed to always be selfless.

There are a lot of factors that go into deciding to terminate a pregnancy; it’s not an easy decision.

Most people who get abortions are young and/or low-income, meaning that they probably aren’t ready or in the best position to take on parenthood. Often, abortion patients cite age and income as among the reasons they chose abortion:

“I had an abortion when I had just turned 16. I came from a poverty-stricken, dysfunctional family and honestly didn’t know how easily one could become pregnant. I knew bringing a baby into the world I was living in would not be fair. The child would have grown up as poor as I was, would live in a dysfunctional family just as I was, and would have little hope for a future. I feel that I made the best decision a mother could for a baby,” Lori writes.

The decision of if, when, and how to have children is completely yours to make.

Myth #5: If abortion becomes illegal, abortion will end.

The foundation of anti-choice activism and legislation assumes that, if abortion is criminalized, abortions will no longer be performed.

This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

Global research has shown that making abortion illegal doesn’t decrease the rate of abortions.The only thing it changes is the safety of the procedure.

When abortion is illegal, it is unsafe.

13% of maternal deaths worldwide are abortion-related (that’s 47,000 women) and almost all of them happen in places where abortion is illegal.

When abortion is criminalized it only creates unsafe conditions and results in more deaths. It does not prevent abortion from taking place.

It serves no one.

The key to ending abortion is to create more access to contraceptives and sex education. 

Myth #6: Only women get abortions.

Abortion rhetoric is highly gendered. Rarely is it even acknowledged that abortion patients are not exclusively cis women.

The dialogue around abortion is so gendered in fact, that it completely erases trans* people.

There are plenty of trans* men who need access to abortion and who receive them. There are also plenty of other trans* folk who don’t fall into the gender binary who also get abortions.

The fact that abortion is so often framed from a privileged perspective means that those who are marginalized in other ways are not being heard and their stories aren’t seen as important.

We must recognize the cissexism within reproductive rights activism and stand with trans* people.

***

These myths don’t even scratch the surface of all of the problematic framing of the abortion conversation in our culture.

There is a lot of work to be done in advancing this conversation. It seems the battle for reproductive rights will never be fully won.

But the more we steer the conversation toward human rights, feminism, and body politics, the more clearly this issue is shown, rather than being bombarded with propaganda and a fear-based mentality.

Here’s to protecting our right to choose, one myth-busting at a time.

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