Archive for February 2010
A couple weeks ago, I noted that the Utah legislature was considering two proposals: one that would eliminate the 12th grade and another that would privatize a few state parks. Because hey, what America really needs right now is less education and more plundering of public resources by the rich, right? Fortunately for most of society, these proposals are only being considered at the moment. But, not to appear soft on sociopathy, the Utah legislature did recently pass a measure that would criminalize some miscarriages. Yes. Miscarriages.
HB12 passed by Utah’s House of Representatives (59-12) and state Senate (24-4) and is now its way to the Governor’s Office to be signed into law. The stated purpose of this bill is to close the so-called “abortion loophole.”
The backdrop for this legislation is as follows: a 17-year old girl, who was 7-months pregnant, allegedly paid a man $150 to beat her so she would lose her baby. This plan failed. After giving birth, she was charged with attempted murder. The charges were subsequently dropped though because the existing law doesn’t allow women to be charged for attempting an abortion – doesn’t matter if the abortion is legal or illegal.
Now look: I understand that the above story is difficult to hear. And, some readers might be of the opinion that we should prosecute a woman for conduct like that mentioned above. Sure, I could counter by offering some reasons as to why someone would choose to be beaten instead of getting an abortion. Perhaps, for women living in certain areas getting beaten is a better option than dealing with the social stigma attached to an abortion. Or, maybe the fact that 93% of Utah counties have no abortion provider makes obtaining an legal and safe abortion very challenging for some. I could go on…
But, I don’t want to get lost in the weeds here. Even if you think prosecuting such women is a good idea, you can still take issue with this particular legislation. And herein lies the heart of the matter: this legislation was designed to be as as broad as possible. It covers such a wide variety of situations that it is far more expansive than simply prohibiting the kind of conduct described above.
It’s a cloaked assault on freedom of choice as well as women writ large.
The legislation provides that the offense of criminal homicide can be applied to any woman who (emphasis added):
- “intentionally,” “knowingly,” or “recklessly;”
- “causes the death of another human being, including an unborn child at any stage of development“
First, notice that the legislation counts fetuses as “human beings” and describes a fetus as an “unborn child.”
Second, the penalty of criminal homicide can apply “at any stage of development.” Based on other language within the legislation, the “any stage of development” clock begins ticking after “implantation of a fertilized” egg.
Third, the legislation extends criminal homicide to a woman that “knowingly” or “recklessly causes” the loss of her fetus. This kind of language offers prosecutors expansive discretion when it comes to charging a woman. Some examples that could get a pregnant woman nabbed for criminal homicide if it is later shown to have caused a miscarriage: not wearing a seatbelt, drinking, substance abuse problem, exerting yourself too much (perhaps at your job). And, these are just the obvious ones. The possibilities are endless. Now, think about this kind of law in an environment that is already hostile to a woman’s freedom to choose. It carries with it all kinds of consequences (especially when you consider that 15-20% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage). It brings increased intimidation for women. Invasive investigations should a woman’s behavior raise suspicion. In short: if a woman has a miscarriage, even just a few days into her pregnancy, prosecutors could go after her if they believe she engaged in reckless behavior that related to the miscarriage.
This is an assault on women’s rights. Plain and simple. I’m disturbed by its passage. And, I’m also disturbed by the disgusting opportunism and stealth displayed by opponents of a woman’s right to her body.
Update: Since this post was originally written, there were developments with this legislation. The Governor vetoed the original bill, the word reckless was removed and then bill was then signed into law. However two issues:
- The underlying issue in my post remains. That the original version of this bill passed is a sign of how steadfast the anti-woman forces in our society remain.
- Although the word “reckless” was removed, there are still plenty of concerns with this legislation.
As Glenn Beck continues to hemorrhage sponsors, his public relations team is working hard to push back against the notion that Beck is a dangerous willful misinformer of the masses. One example of this push back is a puff piece that ran in USA Weekend last weekend.
One aspect of the piece is notable in that it reveals just how little regard Glenn Beck has for the truth given how wildly inconsistent it is with previous claims that he has made.
Glenn Beck, noted global warming denier, suddenly “believes in global warming.”
There are countless examples of Glenn Beck trashing the notion of human-caused (or human-influenced) climate change. Here’s just example: On December 8, 2008, Glenn Beck said about global warming (emphasis added):
Yes. We know that it’s a bunch of bullcrap. How do we know it? Because we’ve engaged in something I like to call common sense. Just when you get really down and you say, “There’s not a single person on Earth that gets it anymore,” know that, yes, Americans know the global warming thing is a scam.
Since Beck is now a global warming believer, does that mean that he’s also a scam artist, who buys into “bullcrap” and fails to use “common sense?” By his own standard, it would appear the answer to this query is yes. And, this seems fitting, because…
We know it’s not about intellectual honesty for Glenn Beck. If it was, he wouldn’t spend several hours a day willfully distorting current news or history.
We already know it’s about not about bettering society for Glenn Beck. If it was, he wouldn’t whip his fans up into hysterical frenzies with lies about Obama secretly constructing concentration camps or plotting to put sterilants in drinking water (both of which Glenn Beck has told his audience).
We already know it’s about about his fellow citizens. If it was, then Glenn Beck wouldn’t mock the poor or consistently say such racist, sexist, bigoted and homophobic statements.
For Glenn Beck, it’s only about one thing: Glenn Beck. He’ll peddle any distortion or hate nugget so long as he can monetize it. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Glenn Beck’s selfish sociopathy has consequences. Those being scores of angry, frustrated, woefully misinformed, heavily armed, cult-like fans who now believe (thanks to Glenn Beck) that progressivism is a disease that must be hunted down and “eradicated.”
Glenn Beck’s indecency is in part why the StopBeck effort continues.
It seems that there is lack of clarity – even in the Tea Party itself! – about what it is the Tea Party is and what it stands for. I’m here to clean that up ass much as possible. Here’s some facts about Tea Parties and tea party speakers:
We have tea party demographics: To quote Matt Yglesias, the Tea Party movement is “disproportionately composed of individuals who have higher-than-average incomes. It’s also disproportionately composed of men. And disproportionately composed of white people. And disproportionately composed of self-identified conservatives.”
A speaker at a Washington State tea party called for Sen. Patty Murray to be lynched.
There is a large number of birthers in the Tea Party movement, including the birther-in-chief as well as the birther general; Redstate.com has enough integrity to ban them. Popular Politicians who align themselves with the Tea Party movement? Not so much. That dirty work is left for the likes of Andrew Breitbart.
The Tea Party movement is roughly as popular as the movement to legalize marijuana, and at least 20-25% less popular than the movement to let gays serve in the military (or 40%, if you look at other polls).
Most are not aware that the stimulus plan included a tax cut.
There’s a predilection towards the stars and bars at some Tea Party rallies.
Prominent conservative pundits realize that the solutions proposed by the Tea Party are, at best, incoherent.
A Republican House candidate in Indiana is running as a Tea Party conservative, but does not mention that he was the choice of the establishment in the 1992 primary that he lost … to an upstart. And then blamed the party boss for. “Beers thought he had found another young talent in 1992 in law student Phil Troyer. While Troyer went to school downstate, a renegade named Chuck Pierson campaigned at gun and knife shows and won a shocking upset. In a burst of election night angst, the schoolboy candidate blasted Beers for the defeat. When I told the old chairman what the upstart Troyer had said, Beers was incredulous. “He really said that?”” (Indianapolis Star, 11/2/01, Lexis)
A tea party candidate in South Carolina (see also Herald-Journal of Spartanburg who is a college professor was fired as House historian by Newt Gingrich after only two weeks for arguing that Nazi views were not fairly represented in a class for 8th and 9th graders; she still says her remarks were taken out of context.
A tea party candidate had the former job of “government and industry relations communications consultant” for Wells Fargo. Reminder: these Tea Parties first spring up in response to TARP, which was money to the banks to preserve the financial system. She was also a former staffer for Christopher Cox, best known as the the SEC Chairman that nobody liked during the crisis.
A Tea Party activist was arrested for stockpiling weapons in preparation for martial law.
A Tea Party candidate running to be Texas Governor was exposed as being open to the fact that the US government had a role in 9/11 – or in common parlance, is a truther. SHe was not fringe either; just before saying that, she was actually leading in the polls.
Alex Jones, a speaker at the national Tea Party Convention, has a documentary arguing that the Obama Administration is a plot by the “New World Order” to “con the American people into accepting global slavery.” The endgame is a worldwide dictatorship run out of the UN headquarters.
The tea party movement is grounded in paranoia and unrealistic fears.
Another speaker at the Convention argued that liberals intentionally caused the crash to destroy the dollar and to create an alternative currency called the Amero, that also includes worrying about the North American Union.
The Tea Party in South Carolina flat out merged with the Republican Party in the state.
Tea Party candidates are opposing Ron Paul because he doesn’t take enough federal aid and doesn’t support wars overseas. There is substantial evidence that social conservatism is the driving force of the movement. Included in that evidence is that “divine intervention” is a serious plank in the pplan of the Tea Party’s preferred candidate.
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, in addressing the tea party convention, called for some sort of literacy or citizenship test for people to be able to vote. That did not go over well with people familiar with the history of the racist usage of such tests.
There is official Tea Party jewelry.
The Tea party Convention was too sketchy for Michelle Bachmann. Yes, Michelle Bechmann.
Ana Puig thinks that Obama is turning America into a Banana Republic and that Obama is also a Marxist dictator.
Randy Hultgren, a tea party candidate in Illinois won the Republican primary. He has previously argued against hospitals providing information about contraceptives to rape victims (Chicago Daily Herald, 10/23/04, Lexis), On th other hand, Hultgren has stated in the past that he voted against state buget proposals because not enough money was provided for children. “Hultgren said another reason he voted against the budget was because it didn’t have enough money for children and families. ‘If we can’t find money out of a $50 billion budget for our children, we should all be fired,’ he said.” (Chicago Daily Herald, 10/1/02, Lexis). Regarding the health care proposal, Hultgren was even more blunt, saying “Literally, I promise you, it will kill people. … It will cost lives. That is not the America that I want to live in.” (Chicago Daily Herald, 11/16/09, Lexis).
A tea party candidate in Indiana threatened that “if we don’t see new faces [in Congress after the 2010 elections], I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show.”
Secessionists and extreme states rights advocates are regulars.
Someone renown for holding up a sign with the N-word on it is treated as a serious Tea Party leader by the Wasshington Times, while being slammed by a tea party group in Houston.
A tea party strategy memo indicated disruption of town hall meetings was the goal.
Angela McGlowan spoke at the National Tea Party Conference and elsewhere in the Tea Party movement. She’s a regulator contributor to Fox, but the low point of her tenure there was endorsing the push polling that Bush did against McCain in South Carolina in 2000 in real time. Following the Republican debate, Mcglowan stated on The Edge with Paula Zahn:
“Well, I think to answer about the debate, the winner was clearly Alan Keyes. When he made the comment that each candidate should stay on message, both Bush and McCain broke Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, and that was dealing with negative campaigning. But at the end of the day, there are four dynamics in politics. That’s money, message, momentum and messenger. Bush clearly has the money, which will help him with push polling, which will help him create the message. Then he can do more campaign ads. But John McCain has momentum. And he’s the greatest messenger. People like him because he comes across as a straight shooter. He has not won the Miss Congeniality contest in Washington, DC. But that make him more authentic and more against the status quo. Dick Morris put it best. And I think it was in the “New York Post” today that historically the front-runner will be the nominee. And Bush is clearly the front-runner. So at the end of the day, Bush is going to win South Carolina.” (The Edge with Paula Zahn, 2/15/00, Lexis).
My point is not to impugn anyone associated with the Tea Party movement. (Indeed, I know some good people involved, and in doing research came across a number of others whose intentions seemed well enough.)
I have two separate points. First, the Tea Party movement is a magnet for extreme views; some libertarian, some social conservative, some complete crackpot (truthers, North American Union people, people firing a dictatorship or martial law, etc.). Second, that no other movement of comparable size or popularity would be able to maintain basic public credibility despite the above incidents. Barack Obama attended one meeting in the house of Bill Ayers and was smeared for an entire campaign; all of these incidents have surfaced mostly in the past month with almost no repercussions nationally. In fact, at some point, something similar to all of these has become a major political issue over the past 15-20 years. Yet one movement contains all of this and is still portrayed largely as “regular America”. It’s absurd and wrong. (Of course, if David Gregory takes the legalize pot movement as serious as the Tea Party movement, that would undermine my entire point. Please send me proof of that if it exists. I’m not expecting imminent email on it.)
Where should we go from here? Just stop giving people credit for a label they attach to a group – that only legitimizes everyone under that. Instead, let’s judge ideas and issue groups for what they are. Say what you will about Grover Norquist, for instance, at least you know exactly what he stands for. I didn’t like liberals just shouting at Bush in the last decade either; what was useful were constructive ideas, or at least focused rage (I don’t know what the answer is to X problem, but I’m damn sure upset about it!) Instead, the movement has degenerated into a means for bad ideas to become legitimized. It’s time for that to end. Forward this list; I’m sure I left things out – leave notes in the comments and I’ll add them.
Federal prosecutors are investigating potential bribery in the recent decision by New York City’s Board of Elections to award ES&S a $50 million contract:
The suspicion comes after the indictment of Anthony Mangone, a lawyer who allegedly bribed Sandy Annabl, a member of Yonkers city council, to change her vote on development projects. Mangone was hired as a lobbyist for ES&S, and was arrested on January 6th, the day after the BOE voted 6-1 on ES&S. The competition was tight between the two voting machine suppliers, both having similar systems…
Of note: ES&S was also subpoenaed in this investigation; there are little details. So, ES&S is currently being investigated for an alleged bribe that helped them acquire a contract. ES&S…ES&S…if you don’t already know this company’s name – you should.
Last fall, ES&S acquired Diebold’s electronic voting machine division. This acquisition means that ES&S will control approximately 70% of the entire voting machine market in the United States. Following news of this merger, numerous groups started complaining about a ES&S’ impending monopoly over our vote counting.
In December, the Department of Justice and 14 states announced antitrust investigations of this merger.
This merger is terrible. On face, we certainly don’t want one company controlling virtually all of our voting. Political cronyism and potential abuse aside, ES&S’ subpar track record also reinforces the aforementioned point. The recent investigation into ES&S’ contract with NYC’s Board of Elections only underscores the importance of this issue – they should not be allowed to take over our voting system. No single company should. Pre-merger and after-merger graphical representations of which companies operate voting machines by county is telling:
There are some rumblings that DOJ will ultimately allow this deal to go forward. I can’t really speak to the veracity of these claims as there is always misinformation in the political realm. But, it doesn’t matter anyway because there is still time to push back against ES&S’ domination of our voting system.
How can you push back? By contacting Assistant Attorney General Christine A. Varney who heads the DOJ’s antitrust division and telling her that you don’t want ES&S controlling the voting market:
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By regular mail:
Assistant Attorney General Christine A. Varney
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Don’t assume someone else will do this for you. Your correspondence does matter.
- 77% of Oklahoma’s high school students did not know who the first President was.
- Only 4 in 10 Americans accept the theory of evolution (aka “believe in evolution”)
- Only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of the federal government.
- 57% of Americans can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice.
- Nearly one-fifth believe the sun revolves around the earth. (Note: old data, but still this isn’t exactly a new scientific revelation)
- Other than Roe v. Wade, the most recent Republican nominee for Vice-President couldn’t name a single Supreme Court decision she disagreed with. [Note: updated to reflect clarification from a commenter.]
Without regard for society, Utah State Sen. Buttars has proposed legislation that would eliminate the 12th grade.
Just what America needs: less learning.
Oh, and Buttars also proposed privatizing the state’s parks. Parks, be they national or state, play an important functional and symbolic role in a democracy.
They stand as monuments to our egalitarian underpinnings. Besides, privatizing significant public resources – like state parks – during a painful recession is just an example of the wealthy looting public resources. While most of us financially suffer, the wealthy are able to exploit our society’s weaknesses for their own gain.
On the bright side, like many GOP legislators, it seems Buttars is either willfully ignorant or has absolutely no understanding of his own proposal. Apparently, it would be very difficult for Utah to privatize some its parks due to legal/financial issues well beyond the scope of this quick post.
Another day. Another sociopathic policy proposal from a conservative legislator. It’s not that they are completely clueless. It’s just that they’ve made the political calculation to only serve the wealthiest members of society to the disadvantage of everyone else.
A guy that wants gays executed – yes executed – is one of the leaders in the GOP primary race for Alabama’s Governor.
Of the six candidates vying for the Republican Party’s nomination, Roy ‘Execute Gays‘ Moore is currently polling second:
According to political consulting firm Public Strategy Associates’ poll that was released on Tuesday, [Bradley] Byrne, the former chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college system, claimed 20 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Moore received 17 percent of those polled by an Austin, Texas, company hired by the Montgomery-based firm Public Strategy Associates.
It’s unsettling that this man is a leading figure in the Republican Party. And, it’s more unsettling that no one seems to mind that Republicans are at the very least tolerant of Mr. Moore’s position on executing homosexuals and or people that in engage in homosexual conduct.
On balance, I tend to avoid wading into the rhetorical cesspool that is a Sarah Palin speech. But, one of Palin’s remarks at the American Fascism Rally (aka Tea Party Convention) struck me as noteworthy.
Criticizing the administration’s national security policies and specifically its handling of the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab case (alleged Christmas airplane bomber), Palin asserted:
“Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at grave risk because that’s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we’re at war. And to win that war, we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”
In this statement Palin provides a disturbing and if it wasn’t so self-destructive, pitiable portrait of the American Fascist worldview: sheer cowardice shamelessly draped in anti-constitutional jingoism.