Clarence Thomas Must Be Forced to Resign

Clarence and Ginni Thomas have disgraced the court and the country. Ginni Thomas could be prosecuted for her actions leading up to January 6.  She has sought to overthrow the government that has given her the stature to make malicious mischief. She has agreed to appear before the January 6 committee. She sent messages to more than two dozen lawmakers in Arizona, arguing, without evidence, that there had been widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

She  says does not believe in the results of more than 60 court cases, or more than 60 judges looking at the 2020 election lawsuits.  It is incredible that she can contend this. None of the claims were true, and she rejects all of that. That it’s irrational is not a strong enough word for it. I just keep coming back to demented. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

How about trading Thomas’s resignation from the Court in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute his wife?

What’s at stake goes beyond Roe v Wade. Conservatives have been laying the groundwork for decades to reduce the power of federal agencies like OSHA, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Since Congress is not equipped to implement the laws it passes, a civil service does this in a regulated democracy. If conservatives are able to overturn the 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in which the justices said courts should defer to the expert judgment of regulators when interpreting statutes whenever the wording or meaning of those statutes are ambiguous. Such an outcome would put the regulatory power of agencies subject to being thwarted in the courts.

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What kinds of proposals might they consider?

Expanding the court as Franklin Roosevelt attempted to do.  While the Constitution does not provide for the number of justices, the number of justices has changed starting with six, then five, then seven, then nine, then ten, then nine. Nine has been the number since 1869.FDR’s actual proposal would have allowed him to appoint a new judge in all federal courts for every judge older than 70. Branded as “court-packing, the measure died. Expanding the Court would not only restore balance but provide an opportunity to build a Court that is representative of the multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural nation that it serves.

  • Reducing the power of the federal judiciary is over certain kinds of cases such as gun control and labor regulations. This suffers by eliminating checks and balances on the restricted law.
  • Term-limiting justices to 18 or 20-year terms is an undesirable possibility, When the Constitution was adopted, life tenure didn’t anticipate people living much beyond age 65. To do this would require a Constitutional Amendment which takes approval from both the House and the Senate, as well as ratification by at least 38 states.
  • Term limits, however, spaced and staggered, will make the court appear more, not less, political in the eyes of the public. Confirmation battles will become more numerous and subject the court to the suspicion that attaches to courts around the world that have term limits or retirement ages. The change would leave the court shorthanded too often if confirmation delays set in. That risks leaving the court with an even number of eight members, hardly an ideal composition for any institution predicated on majority rule.
  • Requiring a supermajority of six or seven justices (rather than the current five) to declare a federal statute unconstitutional. This might get the support of both parties.

Each of these concepts needs to be measured against their feasibility of being adopted and their long-term impact.

Clarence Thomas, the hardline conservative supreme court justice, is again facing calls for his recusal in the case over race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Again, this is because of his wife’s political activity.

A one-person conservative powerhouse, she set up her own lobbying company Liberty Consulting in 2010. By her own description, she has “battled for conservative principles in Washington” for over 35 years. The conflict in the current case is because Ginni Thomas sits on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars. This group has intervened in this affirmative action case and this presents an appearance of a conflict of interest.

It has been established that Ginni Thomas met and advised Trump on who was loyal to him and who was not and who she believed to be part of the “Deep State.”. The New York Times and Axios have previously reported that Thomas would pass hiring and firing recommendations, compiled by her conservative organization Groundswell.

Trump reportedly went into rages upon being told who was disloyal. The meetings often resulted in Trump demanding that the alleged disloyalists be fired “immediately,” according to the Daily Beast.

The case, which is being brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, is the latest potential conflict of interest involving Thomas and his wife Virginia Thomas. Ginni, as she is known, is a prominent right-wing activist who speaks out on a raft of issues that frequently come before the nation’s highest court.

In an email on Nov. 9, just days after media organizations called the race in Arizona and nationally for Biden, Thomas sent identical emails to 27 lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate urging them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure”  as reported by the Washington Post. She corresponded with John Eastman and Mark Meadows.

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law.

The Washington Post reported this year that Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers, some of them twice, in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors, despite the fact that the responsibility for choosing electors rests with voters under Arizona state law.

Newly discovered emails show that Thomas also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen. Bernier and Tauchen received the email at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 9, virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas.
The Bernier email was obtained by The Washington Post, and the Tauchen email was obtained by the watchdog group, Documented, and provided to The Post.  Thomas sent all of the emails via FreeRoots, an online platform that allowed people to send pre-written emails to multiple elected officials.

John Eastman, the former clerk to Clarence Thomas,  allegedly spent weeks pressuring Pence’s top aides, to get the vice president to agree to do one of two things:

  1. Reject electoral votes in swing states Joe Biden won and just simply call the election for his boss, Trump.
  2. Reject electoral votes in swing states Biden won, send them back to the state legislatures to decide, and pressure Republicans in those states to say Trump won, rather than Biden.   Eastman was advised by Eric Herschmann, another Trump attorney to get himself a criminal defense attorney.

The potential appearance of a conflict of interest over the Harvard case was noted in a recent investigation by the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer that takes a deep dive into the overlapping interests of the couple. The article chronicles in devastating detail the many instances where Ginni’s political activism appears to present problems for the image and integrity of the court.

“Ginni Thomas has held so many leadership or advisory positions at conservative pressure groups that it’s hard to keep track of them,” Mayer concluded. “Many, if not all, of these groups have been involved in cases that have come before her husband.”

An even more troubling recent occurrence came about when Ginni Thomas lent her voice to Trump’s big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.  Virginia Thomas sent at least 29 messages to the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressing him to use his influences to overturn the 2020 election.  She described the loss to President Biden as an “obvious fraud” and “the greatest heist of our history.”Paradoxically, Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.

Virginia Thomas has publicly acknowledged that she participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse that preceded the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

On the morning of January 6 itself, Mark Joseph Stern of Slate reported, Thomas, posted on her Facebook page words of encouragement for the “Stop the Steal” marchers in Washington. “Watch MAGA crowd today best with Right Side Broadcasting .. and then C-Span for what the Congress does starting at 1:00 pm today. LOVE MAGA people!!!!!” “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

Shortly thereafter the post was removed after the deaths of five people and more than 100 police officers injured.

Soon after the insurrection, Thomas was forced to apologize to her husband’s former supreme court law clerks for comments she made privately to them that appeared to lament Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. The remarks were sent to a private email list called “Thomas Clerk World”.

Ginni Thomas attended an extremist “Stop the Steal” Rally meeting in Orlando, Florida on March 6, 2021, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy, and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings,  and interviews with several people involved in the group.

One photograph from the Orlando event shows pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant Bryant posing with Thomas. Others show Thomas wearing a name tag decorated with a yellow ribbon she and others wore saying “Trouble Maker.”

Thomas’s influence has grown in the new six-justice conservative supermajority. He’s being called the unofficial chief justice of the court.

Is Mrs. Thomas no less responsible for helping to trigger the incitement? We may find out as she is being subpoenaed as a witness before the January 6 committee.

The Thomas’s have been skirting ethical boundaries for years. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.

Prior to the election and just after the Vindman termination, the Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas was working with and on behalf of the White House on the great “purge” while Trump was president.

Clarence Thomas was the only justice to say Trump could keep his records from Congress. He has acted as a minority of one in cases in which his wife is deeply involved. This is unethical on the face of it and any judge in the federal system would be disciplined for a breach of ethics like this. However, Supreme Court Justices decide for themselves whether they have a conflict of interest.

Virginia Thomas originated Liberty Central, whose purpose is to restore the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty.

The pressure should build to force  Thomas’s resignation. At age 72, he has been on the court as the longest-serving justice. After Court 30 years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas assured his law clerks, “I ain’t evolving.”  We live in a time of unprecedented change and Justice Thomas sits like a stone in the middle of the road.

With the unfolding cases unfolding in the criminal court against Trump and his operatives and with the prosecution of Trump officials increasingly certain,  now is an opportune time to call for the resignations of Thomas and Kavanaugh from the Court.  This is an opportune time to release the FBI records on Kavanaugh that were suppressed by the Trump administration.

We already see Trump’s handpicked trio of justices being accused of blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. Their ascension to the Supreme Court was enabled by a web of right-wing dark money.

Republican operatives have developed a robust network of conservative and Catholic-affiliated nonprofits, charities, and funds large out of public view  For more than a decade, this network has been leveraged to propel conservative judicial nominees. While most Americans wouldn’t recognize these operators, they have been the overseers of massive amounts of money that have gone into federal judicial races. They don’t have social media accounts and don’t give public speeches. They do all they can to operate in the shadows, out of public view.

What we do know is this began with the now-defunct Wellspring Committee, a 501(c)(4) organization that took in perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed donors for more than a decade. Charles and David Koch gave the first $10 million seedling donation from attendees at a Koch donor seminar.

Wellspring could pass itself off in those terms thanks to U.S. tax law, which a decade ago mandated that organizations of that type could devote no more than 49 percent of their expenditures to political activity. What distinguishes “political activity” from “social welfare” continues to be an open question, however. This loophole potentially gave Wellspring free rein to donate unlimited amounts of money to other social welfare groups, even if those groups had explicit political goals and in the process have taken control of the Supreme Court.
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Biden appointed a commission to study possible court reform. Possible recommendations may include adding four new justices to the Supreme Court, term limits for justices, and finding a bipartisan selection process, among others. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign after news that his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas,  made numerous emails to with conservative lawyer John Eastman, who was central in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.  Thomas by participating in a  decision involving his wife’s misconduct is complicit.

Now it’s time to improve the Supreme Court. It’s time for Clarence Thomas to be pressured into resigning or move to impeach him.  Any other judge in the federal judiciary would be impeached for such conduct.

McConnell when asked if a Republican Senate would confirm a Biden nominee in 2024. “It’s highly unlikely.” So McConnell is planning on pulling the same stunt if a vacancy arose in 2023, with, say, 18 months left in Biden’s term.  When asked whether a Biden nominee — a “normal mainstream liberal”— “get a fair shot at a hearing. Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens.” Bipartisan votes on Supreme Court nominees are ancient history. That Senate is no more.  It doesn’t work with McConnell.

Ending the filibuster and court reform is the only answer and it may take one or two more Congresses to get this done. In the meantime, the Court loses credibility. Justice is the loser.

The Supreme Court dealt more blows to the Voting Rights Act on Thursday, ruling in favor of Republicans that Arizona can maintain restrictions that critics say discriminate against nonwhite voters. Justice Kagan in her dissent said, “State after State has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting” in recent months, saying the U.S. is “at a perilous moment for the Nation’s commitment to equal citizenship.”

“The law that confronted one of this country’s most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy; and now stands as the crucial tool to achieve that goal,” she wrote. “That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it. That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this Court.”

President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect voting rights. “The Court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”

The Senate failed to pass the Voting Rights Act because two Democratic Senators did not vote to create an opening in the filibuster rule. These same two Senators have created openings in the filibuster rule on less critical matters.  Now the best way forward is to elect additional Democratic senators in 2022 to make it possible to achieve needed voting rights legislation.

The Supreme Court has ruled several times over the past 50 years that a woman has a right to an abortion before the fetus can live on its own, around 22 to 24 weeks. The overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court has upheld, on procedural grounds, a Texas law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected — so, basically, all abortions, since that’s before most people know they’re pregnant. This Supreme Court seems certain to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In another fulfillment of a right-wing plot to control America, the Supreme Court ruled for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in his legal challenge to federal placing limits on the amount of money candidates can raise from donors to pay off their personal debt after an election. This makes running for office into a business – run for office and collect enough campaign funds to pay off debts or fund a pet project. In this way, a candidate can profit without winning.

The 6-3 ruling struck down a $250,000 cap on the amount of post-election funds a candidate can be repaid for personal loans they made to their campaign, finding that the restriction violated the First Amendment.

Biden is improving the composition of the lower courts, but with a “deeply broken” system there are no quick fixes because judges who were already woefully understaffed and often undertrained are now overwhelmed with a growing backlog of over 1.6 million cases.

Dozens of federal actions dealing with everything from energy efficiency standards to funding for transit projects have been upended by a recent Supreme court ruling against the Biden administration’s climate change calculations.

 

 

 

 

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t use their marathon question-and-answer session with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to challenge her about two high-profile decisions she issued that went against former President Trump.

Instead, they focussed on other issues, a shift that marks the latest sign that Senate Republicans see Trump as more of a liability than an asset heading into the 2022 election. Let’s hope we’ll see the last of Trump by 2024 if the Justice Department procedures Trump and his allies.

“The Supreme Court is out of step with the American people. The decisions we are seeing are not popular. The majority of Americans want Roe upheld, but the court might well go the other way. A majority of Americans would like to see some regulation of guns; the court may not do that,” according to Shira A. Scheindlin, a former federal judge in New York who is co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The Pew Research Center found this year that only 54% of respondents had a favorable view of the court, down from 69% in mid-2019, according to several opinion polls. the Gallup Organization reported last year that Americans disapproved of the court’s performance by 53% to 40%.

Chief Justice John Roberts is no longer able to manage the ultra-conservatives on the Court. In good conscious, it is time for him to resign.

The Washington Post has said: “Public faith in the Supreme Court is down to a historic low of 25 percent, and there’s a good reason why it keeps eroding. We are experiencing what the Founders feared: a crisis of governmental legitimacy brought about by minoritarian tyranny. And it could soon get a whole lot worse. In his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to overturn popular precedents upholding a right to contraception, same-sex relationships and marriage equality. So much for Hamilton’s hope that “the sense of the majority should prevail.”

A petition calling for Clarence Thomas’s  removal from Supreme Court has gotten over one million signatures.

Thomas is feeling the heat.  He has canceled plans to teach a seminar this fall at George Washington University’s law school, a few weeks after the private university in the nation’s capital had defended the conservative jurist’s position on its faculty.

Thomas, on the high court for more than 30 years, has taught at the D.C. law school since 2011. His adjunct faculty position there drew controversy this summer after the court’s conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that had established a constitutional right to abortion.

With the support of three justices chosen by President Donald Trump in the past five years, the Supreme Court now has a 6-to-3 conservative majority. Those justices sent the court on a dramatic turn to the right in the term completed this summer, overturning the guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, striking a gun control law in New York, limiting the power of the Biden administration to confront climate change, and scoring victories for religious conservatives.

The Supreme Court conservatives have ignited a new era without hesitation. 

The court’s approval rating has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever in public opinion polls, led by unhappy Democrats and to a lesser extent people who heretofore identified as independents.

But Roberts said it is the Supreme Court’s job to decide what the law is. “That role doesn’t change simply because people disagree with this opinion or that opinion or with a particular mode of jurisprudence.”  In all due respect, Mr. Justice Roberts, it’s the Court’s drastic rulings that have riled the public.

 Irving Kaufman said it well, “The Supreme Court’s only armor is the cloak of public trust; its sole ammunition, the collective hopes of our society.”

Reversing Roe Deletes Rights It Took a Century to Achieve

57% of Americans say a woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason, according to a Wall Street Journal poll. Pew Research Center found that 73 percent of Americans support abortion being legal when the mother’s life or health is threatened — including 62 percent of Republicans. Abortion is recognized as a matter of health care to be decided by women and their doctors.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the end of Roe v. Wade represents a “major loss of rights” for women, a Washington Post-Schar School poll finds. A large and bipartisan majority of Americans, about 8 in 10 overall, say states that ban abortion should not be allowed to outlaw people from traveling elsewhere to access the procedure — an idea gaining steam among some antiabortion groups and Republican lawmakers. Those opposed include 64 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of independents .and 89 percent of Democrats.

About 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in their lifetime. It’s not surprising that forty percent of Americans list abortion as one of the most important issues in the country, according to a Marquette Law School Poll.  U.S. Catholics are majority pro-choice according to many polls!

Relatively few Americans hold absolutist views on abortion: Only about 1 in 5 say it should be legal in all cases, and fewer than 1 in 10 say it should be illegal without exception, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

A USA Today-Suffolk poll found that 31 percent of American voters said a state banning abortion would make the state less desirable to live in; 5 percent said it would be more desirable. 6 in 10 voters said a state abortion ban would not affect their thinking on a state’s desirability as a place to live.

Overwhelmingly, Americans support people’s right to cross state lines for an abortion, polls are finding.. One showed 77 percent of Americans and even 64 percent of Republicans oppose laws that would ban residents from traveling to another state for an abortion. Another showed even more resistance to such laws: 78 percent overall, and 73 percent among Republicans.

Throwback Republicans

Blake Masters a Republican candidate for the Senate in Arizona wants a national abortion ban, women to stay home from work, and a federal law that says life begins at conception.

The Maga Republicans’ zeal to pass stringent forced-birth laws and their pining for a national abortion ban — as the party’s candidates scramble to erase evidence of their antiabortion views from their campaign websites — reveal just how little they think of women.

Women are apparently supposed to forget that Republican candidates have been at the forefront of the effort to deny them personal agency and to intrude on their most intimate health-care decisions. They’re supposed to forget which party has consigned pregnant people to physical and mental suffering.

Sending America Back 70 Years

By reversing Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court takes America back 70 years. Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra insists that the country “can no longer trust” the Supreme Court. America is moving toward an abortion regime that brutalizes and sometimes kills pregnant women while ignoring the most promising opportunities to prevent abortions.

The reversal of Roe produced cognitive dissonance in a generation that grew up when abortion was legal. It was a shock to our collective intelligence when this was released and likely accounts for some of the divisiveness and disaffection in today’s population.

Alioto’s opinion is dangerously wrong on its face, and when extended could end many of the rights we take for granted. Alioto asserts “For the first 185 years after the adoption of the Constitution, each State was permitted to address this issue in accordance with the views of its citizens.” To put this another way, abortion was not illegal in some states until the 1800s.

To reach his conclusion, Alioto reached back to English common law, relying on Sir Matthew Hale, an influential 17th Century jurist who is best remembered for his belief that women could be witches assumed women were liars, and thought husbands owned their wives’ bodies. He permitted the execution of two women accused as witches. Even then, Alioto misconstrues Hale, who wrote abortion was a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” Note Hale used the conditional precedent of “if.” Quickening is the moment when a pregnant woman first detects fetal movement, which can happen as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy.
Except for misogynists, what sense is there in giving credence to a jurist whose views of women are as dated as lobotomies? By roughly a margin of 2-to-1, Americans want women to have the right to bring or not bring a child into the world. It’s not surprising that Roe v. Wade was decided with a 7-2 majority.

The ninth amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other retained by the people.” The plain meaning of this is that a right, such as the right to marry, does not need to be enumerated to be recognized.

The Roe decision was in line with earlier decisions of the Court. For decades before Roe, the Supreme Court held that the Ninth Amendment granted rights such as the right to marry, the right to procreate, the right to use contraception, the right to control the upbringing of children, and the right of every person to choose “whether to bear or beget a child.”
So a fair question is the U.S. Constitution a living document? A living constitution is one that evolves, and adapts to new circumstances, without being formally amended. It’s been calculated that the rate of change accelerates every decade. So, in 20 years from now, the rate of change will be 4x what it is today.

Common sense tells us there is no realistic alternative to a living constitution in a rapidly changing world.  Does it make sense for the technologies of everyday life to change but our personal liberties will shrink? Will Alioto’s decision pave the way to abrogating other rights that are not explicitly stated, as Clarence Thomas stated, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

  • The right to marry
  • The right to have children
  • The right to travel
  •  The right to a fair trial
  •  The right to a jury of your peers
  • The right to have judicial review
  • The right to privacy includes the right to be left alone, to the care of your body, and, the right not to have your health information made public.
  • The right to health care has gained the support of 70.1% of the American public. Covid-D and the probability of other pandemics to come have made explicit the need for health care.
  • Right to contraceptives
  • LGBTQ rights

An indication of this throwback court’s limited concept of our rights is contained in the words of Justice Kavanaugh, “For example, may a state bar a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”

The Supreme Court as now constituted does not reflect the value of most Americans. In another blog, I propose that Justice Thomas be forced to resign. This can be the beginning of changing the direction of the Supreme Court.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has plans to add $57 million to his proposed state budget in preparation for a possible influx of out-of-state patients who are seeking abortions (Axios). Pro-choice states including New York are budgeting accordingly.

The draft ruling published by Politico in May would give individual states authority over abortion access. According to the abortion rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute:

Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws in place that would almost immediately ban or severely restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Another nine states still have laws or constitutional amendments against the procedure in place from before the 1973 decision.

A number of states have also moved to restrict abortion access in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.

But some state and local officials, even in states that have the trigger laws in place, have said they are not intent on prosecuting people over the matter, possibly putting officials at odds with one another.

In the United States, 58 percent of women of reproductive age live in states taking away abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute (The Guardian).

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. In total, about 700 women die every year of pregnancy-related complications in the U.S., and about 3 in 5 of those deaths are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A University of Colorado study found there will be abortion a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall and a 33% increase among Black women, simply because staying pregnant is more dangerous than having an abortion. Back alley” abortions will be the last resource for women with no access to safe and legal services, and the horrific consequences of such abortions will become a major cause of death and severe health complications for some of the most vulnerable women in this country.

All across the nation, people are voicing their anxieties about a right that for decades has been taken for granted.  In cities across the country, thousands of Americans have turned out to rally for abortion rights in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin,  Cleveland, St. Louis, Denver, St. Peterburg, Florida, and 200 communities across the country.

Men have a stake in Roe vs. Wade.  Abortion is usually a joint decision between a man and a woman. With earning a living an ever-present challenge, one in five men have been involved in an abortion, as men have been involved in an abortion, one study finds.

The Washington Post has reported that Republicans plan to pass a national ban on abortion if they win back control of Congress. This would include even the blue states where abortion rights remain legal and protected. And if the Supreme Court gets away with overturning Roe v. Wade, it means the odds are they would let Congressional Republicans get away with banning abortion nationwide. America is out-of-step with reproductive rights being recognized by more nations.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he will oppose a Democratic bill to guarantee abortion access nationwide, indicating that it was too broad to get his vote. Manchin proves himself once more to be a  demi-Democrat.

Meanwhile, opponents of abortion are already using methods like license plate tracking, body cam recordings, and Wi-Fi networks designed to find people so they can direct them to anti-abortion arguments and if states to criminalize abortion, this data could be used by anti-abortion activists to try to prosecute people seeking abortions.

As the dissenting judges said, reversing Roe vs. Waderemoves a right nearly 50 years old and is at odds with polls that show consistent public support for Roe.

But more, the dissenting justices said, the opinion “breaches a core rule-of-law principle, designed to promote constancy in the law … It places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage. And finally, it undermines the Court’s legitimacy.”

All 13 states that have GOP-controlled legislatures — Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming — have “trigger laws” that functionally banned abortion as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated it as a right.

 

Alabama

The 2019 Human Life Protection Act, which had been held by an injunction, was allowed to go into effect Friday. It makes it unlawful “for any person to intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion” unless “an abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

Alaska

The right to an abortion is protected by state law and constitution. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said, though, the overturning of Roe v. Wade will cause “renewed conversation” on the issue of abortion rights in the state.

Arizona

A pre-Roe v. Wade law bans abortions except when the mother’s life is endangered. Gov. Doug Ducey in April signed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that will go into effect.

Arkansas

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed the state’s trigger law into effect Friday, banning abortion in the state following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The Arkansas Human Life Protection Act makes performing or attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger.

California

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Colorado

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Connecticut

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Delaware

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Florida

A law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy will go into effect July 1.

Georgia

A law prohibiting abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy was signed in 2019 but not in effect following legal challenges.

Hawaii

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Idaho

A trigger law making abortion illegal goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned.

Illinois

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Indiana

Indiana became the first state after Roe was reversed to ban abortion.

Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court in June reversed an earlier court ruling that the state constitution guaranteed the right to abortion.

Kansas

The right to abortion is protected by state law. Voters will decide on Aug. 2 whether to change the state constitution to say there is no right to abortion.

Kentucky

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Friday that abortion is now banned in the state after a trigger law went into effect. Under the law, anybody who performs or attempts to perform an abortion will be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison. The only exception is if the mother’s health is at risk.

Louisiana

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Friday abortion is banned in the state after a trigger law went into effect following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law that strengthened the 2006 trigger law that went into effect Friday. The new law increases the penalties abortion providers face: prison terms range from one to 10 years and $10,000 to $100,000 in fines.

The state constitution also bars the right to abortion, and lawmakers recently approved a bill to ban abortion after “fertilization and implantation.”

Maine

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Maryland

The right to abortion is protected by state law.

Massachusetts

The right to abortion is protected by state law. On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order to “further preserve” abortion rights in Massachusetts and protect “reproductive health care providers who serve out of state residents.”

Michigan

pre-Roe v. Wade law bans abortions, but a judge ruled in May the state government cannot enforce the law as a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed against the state plays out. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is also working to protect the right in the state.

A Michigan judge Friday blocked county prosecutors from enforcing a 91-year-old law banning abortion in the state while courts consider a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law. The ruling means abortion will remain legal in Michigan for the foreseeable future. The 1931 law bans abortion for all women, and doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.  and calls for the prosecution of reproductive care providers.

The ruling comes after the state Court of Appeals earlier this month cleared a path for county prosecutors to enforce the 1931 law by ruling they were not covered by a May order.

“It is clear to the Court that only one group is harmed by this statute- women, and people capable of carrying children,” Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham said during his ruling.

The 1931 abortion ban doesn’t pass constitutional muster, he said.

Minnesota

The right to an abortion is protected under the state constitution.

Mississippi

A trigger law banning nearly all abortions would go into effect immediately after Roe is overturned. In addition to its 15-week abortion ban at the center of the Supreme Court case, Mississippi has a 6-week abortion ban.

Missouri

Missouri ended the right to abortion following the Supreme Court decision. On Friday, Gov. Mike Parsons tweeted that he signed a proclamation activating the Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act, ending elective abortions in the state.

Montana

The right to an abortion is currently protected under the state constitution.

Nebraska

The right to an abortion is neither protected nor barred in the state constitution. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he will push for the state legislature to pass a total abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Nevada

The right to an abortion is protected under the Nevada Revised Statutes, the codified laws of the state.

New Hampshire

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

New Jersey

The right to an abortion is protected under the state constitution.

New Mexico

The right to an abortion is neither protected nor barred in the state constitution.

New York

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

North Carolina

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

North Dakota

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal. After Roe is overturned, the Legislative Council must approve a recommendation from the state’s attorney general that the ban on abortion is constitutional.

Ohio

A 6-week ban on abortion that had been previously blocked was allowed to go into effect Friday.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced Friday the state trigger law banning abortions went into effect after the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. Prior to the ruling, Oklahoma had a near-total ban on abortion.

Oregon

The right to have an abortion is protected in the state constitution.

Pennsylvania

The right to an abortion is not protected by constitutional or statutory laws.

Rhode Island

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

South Carolina

The right to an abortion is not protected by state law.

South Dakota

A trigger law was in place to make abortion illegal. After Roe was overturned, it went into effect immediately without further action required.

The law makes all abortions illegal “unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.”

Tennessee

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal that goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned with no further action required. The state constitution bars protection of the right.

Texas

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal that goes into effect 30 days after Roe is overturned with no further action required. The state already has a 6-week ban in effect.

Utah

Most abortions are now illegal in Utah after the trigger law ban was put into effect. The law does allow for exceptions for rape, incest, averting maternal death or impairment, and lethal fetal deformity.

Vermont

The right to abortion is protected by updated state laws.

Virginia

The right to an abortion is not protected by constitutional or statutory laws.

Washington

Under the Code of Washington, individuals are not allowed to interfere with a pregnant person’s right have an abortion.

West Virginia

A state constitutional amendment bars the protection of the right to an abortion. Abortion is still legal in West Virginia, but there is an 1882 law on the books that makes performing abortions a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison. It’s unclear if it will go into effect follow Roe’s overturn. Gov. Jim Justice said Friday he is meeting with the Legislature and his legal team to decide if the state’s abortion laws need to be updated.

Despite abortion still being legal in the state, the only clinic said in a statement on Facebook it will not be performing the procedure “until further notice.”

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a pre-Roe law dating back to 1849 making an abortion a felony that could go back into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Wyoming

A trigger law is in place to make abortion illegal. It would require certification by the governor, advised by the Attorney General within 30 days of the Supreme Court ruling.

The consequences of reversing Roe are becoming evident.

A Florida court ruled that a 16-year-old wasn’t ‘sufficiently mature’ enough to have an abortion.

In Texas, a woman says she was denied an abortion for a medical emergency.

The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to block the state’s near-total abortion ban while it reviews legal challenges to the law.

The President laid out the fastest and best way to return women to their rights:

“Let me be clear. While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available,” Biden said. “The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage on my desk.”

A vivid illustration of the grief that is being caused by the Roe reversal is a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped and traveled to Indiana for an abortion. The girl’s doctor was afraid she was too far into her pregnancy to get an abortion, even though she was only six weeks and three days along — meaning she had probably just learned that she was pregnant. This was due to an Ohio law banning abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected (sometimes as early as six weeks). This was reported by, the Indianapolis Star.

This case is showing how dangerous the Court’s ruling is becoming. The Republican Attorney General says he is looking into the licensure of the physician who provided abortion services to the 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio.  Rokita, the Attorney General, appeared on Fox News and called the doctor “an abortion activist acting as a doctor.” He accused her of having a history of failing to report abortions and that an investigation into the physician and her license is underway.

Another casualty of Roe is sex education coincides with abortion restrictions and a movement to stop educators from discussing gender and sexual orientation.

Seventeen members of Congress — including Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — were among dozens of abortion rights protesters arrested Tuesday outside the Supreme Court in a rally demanding immediate action to protect abortion following the court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Thirty-five people were arrested for crowding, obstructing or incommoding, a D.C. code often cited when arresting protesters during peaceful, planned and coordinated actions of civil disobedience such as the demonstration on Tuesday. Those arrested were ticketed and released on-site, as is standard practice during events such as this, said Capitol Police spokesman Tim Barber.

Among those arrested were members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and including Assistant House Speaker Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) and Reps. Bush, Omar, Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), and Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), according to their offices.

Can women be prosecuted for crossing state lines to get an abortion?
As a general rule, this should not happen. Even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that it would be a step too far to ban women from traveling across state lines to seek care. The Constitution protects interstate commerce, and that means it also protects interstate travel, he wrote, calling it “not especially difficult as a constitutional matter.”
17 members of Congress were arrested and subsequently released at an abortion rights protest outside the Supreme Court on July 19. (Video: The Washington Post)

In the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision, confusion surrounding new abortion-related laws has led to patients being denied much-needed maternal health care.

Confusion post-Roe spurs delays, denials for some lifesaving pregnancy care

At the time of the decision to overturn Roe, 13 states had “trigger bans,” designed to take effect to prohibit abortion within 30 days of the ruling. At least eight states banned the procedure the day the ruling was released.

Now, common complications, including incomplete miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, have now been scrutinized, delayed, and even denied, according to the accounts of doctors in multiple states where new laws have gone into effect.

The supporters of reversing Roe claim they want to protect life. Following the decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the once constitutionally protected right to an abortion, young women and others across the country have increasingly requested sterilization, according to obstetrician-gynecologists who have seen upticks in Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida.

Because of the overturning of Roe, is causing women to undergo major surgery and take on the complications and risks that come with it just so they don’t have to worry about carrying an unwanted pregnancy.

Access to abortion meant women could pursue a child-free life if they chose. But lawmakers appear determined to take away their choices.

Another foreseeable consequence of reversal is that the number of men seeking vasectomies is on the rise.  People’s needs and choices are not stopped by a regressive court decision.

Signs of resistance are becoming commonplace. Seventeen members of Congress — including Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — were among dozens of abortion rights protesters arrested Tuesday outside the Supreme Court in a rally demanding immediate action to protect abortion following the court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also at risk is the right to love whomever a person chooses. By 2121  half of Americans supported marriage equality, according to Gallup’s data, which show support growing by an average of 1% to 2% per year since the mid-1990s. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 issued its marriage equality decision, Obergefell vs. Hodges, support had grown to about 60%.

Since then, same-sex marriages have become routine. The Census Bureau last year estimated that 980,000 same-sex households exist in the U.S., roughly 1.5% of all households in the country, of whom about 58% were headed by married couples. The share of the public that supports equal marriage rights now surpasses 70%.

Reaction to the Roe’s fate has been convincing and swift. Kansas, a red state, resoundingly rejected an amendment that would have led to abortion bans. Democratic voters especially turned out in higher numbers, and the ballot measure was rejected by a huge margin.  Corporations are recognizing their responsibility to their employees. Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, expands abortion coverage for staff.

The results prompted President Biden to call again for Congress to codify abortion protections into federal law, and on Wednesday he signed an executive order to help patients travel across state lines for abortion care.

Changing the Constitution is one of the most difficult processes in all of governing. There are a couple of different ways to do it. One of the most common requires a two-thirds vote in Congress and then three-fourths of states (38 states) to ratify it.

Take the Equal Rights Amendment: Congress passed it in 1972 and sent it to the states for ratification. But only 35 states ratified it before the deadline passed (three-fourths have now ratified, but a few did so after the deadline), so it still hasn’t been added. So it’s highly unlikely that a more controversial amendment, such as one enshrining the right to abortion or banning assault weapons, would make it through such a rigorous process, especially at a time when states are so divided on these policies.

With the  Supreme Court so clearly on the wrong side of history and one of the justices so clearly corrupted, it may be easier to bring pressure on some judges to resign, particularly Justice Thomas.

22 states have laws or constitutional amendments on the books now poised to severely limit access to abortion or ban it outright. Even before the Supreme Court issued its decision, states with more restrictive abortion laws had higher maternal mortality and infant mortality rates. Now, experts are predicting at least a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths across the country.

1 in 3 American women has already lost abortion access. More restrictive laws are coming.

 Two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, about 20.9 million women have lost access to nearly all elective abortions in their home states, and a slate of strict new trigger laws expected to take effect in the coming days will shut out even more.

Texas, Tennessee, and Idaho all have existing restrictions on abortion, but the laws slated to begin Thursday will either outlaw the procedure entirely or heighten penalties for doctors who perform an abortion, contributing to a seismic shift in who can access abortion in their home states.

At least 11 other states have banned most abortions, prohibiting the procedure with narrow exceptions from the time of conception or after fetal cardiac activity is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy, with legislation known as “heartbeat” laws. Five more states have similar bans temporarily blocked by the courts. If those injunctions are lifted, abortion could soon be inaccessible for millions more — in total, 36 percent of U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 would be largely unable to obtain an elective abortion in the state where they live.

 

The rapid pace of change has shocked even the closest observers.

 

“I just thought there would be a little more time to help providers and patients cope with these changes,” said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks abortion legislation in the states for the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center that supports abortion rights. “It was very clear that that sort of grace period was not going to be provided.”

 

 

Advocates and doctors in favor of abortion rights fear that the newest trigger laws — which in Texas will carry a potential life sentence for doctors who perform an abortion — will have a chilling effect on helping people who either need an abortion because they are facing life-threatening complications or are trying to travel and get one elsewhere. The stiffer laws come as patients and providers navigate a confusing tangle of policies amid ongoing legal challenges that at times have made abortion accessible one day and completely illegal the next. Even more changes are on the horizon as lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia consider new bills during special legislative sessions.

Patients in states such as Tennessee have rushed in recent days to try to make last-minute appointments before they lose access to abortion completely — some only to be turned away, ineligible for an abortion because of the state’s “heartbeat” law.

Kaydria, a 28-year-old from Jackson, Miss., started researching the changing abortion laws as soon as she found out she was pregnant in mid-August. With abortion already banned in her home state, she decided to drive three hours to Memphis.

She knew she’d have to hurry: On Aug. 25, all elective abortions would be banned there, too.

“I needed to go ahead and take care of it,” said Kaydria, who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used to protect her privacy. “I knew I didn’t have time.”

Roughly 14 states have bans outlawing most abortions, with varying exemptions and penalties for doctors. In all, nearly 21 million — about 1 in 3 girls and women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 — have lost access to the procedure, according to U.S. census data. The restrictions apply to both medication and surgical abortions.

The states that bar abortion from conception tend to be located in the South and the Midwest, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Wisconsin has conflicting laws that leave the legality of abortion uncertain, but clinics stopped providing abortions in the state after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, effectively ending abortion within its borders. Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee have bans that begin when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can occur before many people realize they are pregnant.

The Austin City Council passed a resolution that seeks to decriminalize abortion care. The move was especially urgent given that Texans, who have already been living under a draconian abortion law for nearly a year, face a full “trigger” ban with harsh criminal penalties and an attorney general eager to prosecute. The proposal is now spreading across Texas—and beyond.

A shimmer of light in these dark times, municipalities like Austin are creatively harnessing their local power and uplifting their progressive values to fight back against onerous state abortion laws and, importantly, proving that we can find pockets of hope, determination, and optimism in our communities amid what often feels like perpetual doom in life after Roe.

Religion claiming restrictions on the legitimacy of abortion imposes on most people’s sense of what is right or wrong.

Marjorie Taylor Green introduced a bill to make gender-affirming care for transgender youth a felony. Demonstrating where the Republicans really stand, Senator Lindsay Graham on Tuesday, August 23 introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationally after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Can the Republicans be more tone-deaf? Graham, the quintessential hypocrite previously said abortions should be left to the states.

America is the only industrialized country without some form of universal health care – it’s the poor who suffer the most. Survey data shows that nearly 50% of women who seek abortions live under the poverty line. What pregnant women deserve is free abortion on demand, under any circumstance.

How telling it is that having gotten Roe reversed, Republicans, are not talking about increasing the life chances of children being born only because of Roe’s reversal.  It’s time the United States join other developed countries in providing universal health care. Doing so would raise the life chances of Americans.

In Texas, U.S. District Judge James Hendrix halted emergency abortion guidance that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued last month’s administration that requires doctors to provide abortions in emergency medical situations even if doing so would run afoul of state law.

The government urged the court to find that a 1986 federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) superseded some restrictive state abortion laws passed in the wake of the demise of Roe vs. Wade.

The EMTALA law requires a hospital to provide stabilizing care to any patient that presents with an emergency medical condition.  The Biden Administration maintains that abortion qualifies as stabilizing care under the law.

A federal judge in Utah August 24 temporarily blocked Idaho’s abortion ban from taking effect during medical emergencies, ruling that it conflicts with federal law. This was the first court win in the federal effort to assure women needing medical attention can get it regardless of state law.

The National Association of Evangelicals called climate action a Christian responsibility in a 50-page report in August 2021, a call to action for a demographic that is less likely than the general population to consider climate change a threat.

The NAE’s report, entitled “Loving the Least of These,” addresses the scientific evidence for the reality of climate change and the role of greenhouse gas emissions in driving it, as well as examining and debunking common arguments against the objectivity of climatologists.

The report goes on to address the issue from a theological and personal perspective, outlining biblical arguments for environmental stewardship.

“The earth brings glory to God, and God continues to care for and sustain the natural processes of the world. The psalmist says: ‘Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul’ (Psalm 103:22),” it reads. “Because God’s glory is revealed in creation, we should be intentional about caring for his artistry.”

The report also cites Matthew: 22’s edict to “Love your neighbor as yourself” in the context of the human suffering caused by climate change and environmental disasters, and outlines personal experiences and examples of the human toll of those ongoing disasters.

The organization, which represents 45,000 evangelical churches, has acknowledged the existence of climate change.

It’s ironic that suffragettes celebrated a major victory 102 years ago today: A proclamation was signed that added the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving some 26 million women voting rights for the first time.

When the Founding Fathers were drafting the earliest laws, Abigail Adams encouraged her husband, then-Vice President John Adams, to “remember the ladies” — yet the resulting Constitution omitted the word “women.” Seneca Falls, New York, hosted the inaugural women’s rights convention in 1848.

Three decades later, a women’s suffrage amendment was introduced in Congress, and more than 40 more years later a suffrage bill finally passed in the House and Senate. Afterward, 36 states needed to ratify the amendment for constitutional inclusion. An indecisive 24-year-old, Representative Harry T. Burns, cast the deciding vote, ultimately favoring ratification at the behest of his mother giving women the right to vote.

The laws of some states place our country outside the pale of what is internationally acceptable. If the U.S. does not change course on women’s rights, the U.S. will be the subject of international scorn and sanctions.

How the Far Right is Threatening our Existence

Nearly one in three Americans say it may soon be necessary to take up arms against the government. A majority of Americans say the U.S. government is corrupt and almost a third say it may soon be necessary to take up arms against it, according to a new poll from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

Far-right organizations have identified school boards as essential to winning ideological battles over Critical Race Theory (CRT). Conservatives opposing “woke” culture won seats on the Kansa Board of Education, ousting two Republican members more like Elizabeth Cheney in the same election Kansans overwhelmingly preserved women’s rights to an abortion.

Dangerous groups led by some white supremacists want to control how race is understood and discussed in this country, mostly at the expense of Black and brown communities. And more earnestly, former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, proudly admitted that “the path to save the nation is very simple–it’s going to go through the school boards,” in an episode of his podcast that aired just this past May.

An uptick in threats to the FBI after it executed a search warrant at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is unsettling the political right, with some calling on allies of the former president to tone down their rhetoric.

Barriers have been erected outside the perimeter of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., while the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly issued a joint bulletin Friday warning about spikes in threats that included a bomb threat at FBI headquarters and calls for a “civil war” and “armed rebellion.

Viktor Orban. the Hungarian dictator provides a formula for the permanent power of a minority party. He uses culture wars to fire up the base. Discredit opponents through party-controlled media. Engineer the election rules by controlling their design. Orban has demonstrated that this playbook works — and the Republicans are employing it.  They even had him speak at a recent CPAC conference.

What makes embracing Orban particularly troubling is that  China’s biggest supporter in Europe is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He is also an ally of Putin’s.  If the far-right regains the Presidency, I fear for the future of democracy.

eisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 separate charges including grand larceny and criminal tax fraud in an indictment filed in New York state Supreme Court, admitting to what authorities described as a 15-year tax evasion scheme for skipping out on taxes due on $1.76 million in income that wasn’t reported to the IRS.

Weisselberg was promised a sentence of five months in New York City’s Rikers Island prison — although that could be shortened to a little over three months — as well as five years’ probation. He will also have to make full repayment of taxes, penalties and interest due to the New York City and New York state tax authorities totaling $1,994,321.

Here are five things to know about Weisselberg’s plea deal.

The plea may be a consolation prize

The plea deal from a Trump Organization representative close to the former president may feel like something of a consolation prize for prosecutors who have been trying for a year to get Weisselberg to turn on Trump himself and not just Trump’s company.

Their aim has been to find evidence that the former president engaged in criminal activity, and securing the cooperation of a key Trump lieutenant like Weisselberg for their investigation could have been a step in that direction.

“It’s been widely publicly reported that the DA’s office was aggressively trying to flip Weisselberg against individuals and against Trump in particular, and he obviously held out on that and refused to deliver,” Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, told The Hill in an interview.

But Weisselberg didn’t roll over. In fact, The New York Times reported that just after the deal was made, The Trump Organization held a birthday party for Weisselberg at Trump Tower.

Legal experts draw a sharp distinction between the sort of plea deal that Weisselberg agreed to and an actual cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors that could have led to much more substantive disclosures about the former president and his business practices.

“He got a plea deal. He did not get a cooperation agreement,” Perry said.

“The case against Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have any life left in it,” Daniel Alonso, who served as chief assistant district attorney under former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., told The Hill. “This deal certainly doesn’t mean Trump is going to be prosecuted. It probably means the opposite. It really doesn’t incriminate him.”

There has been a turn of events.  Alan Weisselberg’s plea deal requires him to testify when the Trump Organization faces its own trial in October, and this could turn into a big win for prosecutors this fall as they go after Trump’s core business.

The Trump Organization is going on trial for nine out of the 15 counts that were brought against Weisselberg himself, which include charges of criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.

The testimony of Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, could make things difficult for the company.

Former assistant United States Attorney Andrew Weissman told The Hill in an interview that Weisselberg’s plea deal is going to make it much harder for the Trump Organization to make its defense.

“Because an organization acts through its people, this is the CFO saying that he did this, and these are not crimes that are unrelated to the organization, and the organization benefited directly from this,” he said.

Legal experts say there’s one big unanswered question about Weisselberg’s deal.

What happens if prosecutors decide that he didn’t “testify truthfully” in the upcoming Trump Organization trial, as his plea deal requires him to do?

But if they ask him questions about how much Trump knew during the trial, and Weisselberg says he didn’t know anything, prosecutors might then say he’s not being fully truthful, and then all bets about the sentencing could be off.

“This is the one open question,” Alonso said. “What happens if he testifies that Trump had no knowledge of these schemes? Would the DA still vouch for Weisselberg’s truthfulness?”

“I’ve never heard of a deal like this,” Alonso said.

Weisselberg was not granted immunity from other crimes 

Both Andrew Weissmann and Danya Perry said they were interested by the fact that Weisselberg was not granted full immunity for any other potential crimes.

“Typically, lawyers negotiate for coverage or immunity for any other crimes he might have committed so they can’t keep coming back,” Perry said. “Here, they didn’t do that.”

Daniel Alonso also said he found this surprising, but said it makes sense given the limited nature of Weisselberg’s deal.

“Why should the DA grant him that if he’s not cooperating fully? This is not a traditional cooperation agreement. If he’s doing less, then he’s getting less.”

There’s a legal full-court press now against Trump. Most presidents leave office and fade into the background of American political life. But Weisselberg’s plea deal is just one of several legal events involving the former president that has kept his name in the news.

The most dramatic of these was the Aug. 8 FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, which saw federal agents walk away from Trump’s Florida property with boxes of classified documents.

Health Emergency – Gun Violence

Guns are the leading cause of death among children in this nation. Not the pandemic. Not malnutrition. Not disease. — No wonder there are more guns than people in the United States –400 million guns versus 335 million people.  No other country has even half as many guns per capita.   The suspect in the July 4th shooting  in Highland park allegedly fired more than 70 bullets from a roof of a local business through a fire escape ladder.

The U.S. constitutes 5% of the world’s population and owns 25% of all guns on the globe. The Washington Post has reported that “1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.”

In 2018, the Small Arms Survey reported that Americans collectively own 393 million guns. That’s more guns than America has people. The population of the United States stood at 332 million in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Every day in America, an average of 321 people are shot, according to Brady United. Since 2020, mass shootings have been on the rise, with the Washington Post noting that there have been at least four mass shootings every week in 2022.

The number of Americans killed by guns annually (about 43,000) is on par with those who die from breast cancer (43,000) and pancreatic cancer (49,000), according to the American Cancer Society. These numbers are based on five-year death averages.

The first recognized mass shooting in America occurred in 1966, when a sniper at the University of Texas killed 17 people from his perch in a clock tower. Between then and 2020, 1,449 people have been murdered in mass shootings, and an additional 2,141 have been wounded. A mass shooting is defined as one in which four or more people are shot in a single event, not including the perpetrator.

Mass shootings are on the rise.  In the 10 years from 1966 to 1975, there were 12 mass shootings; from 2011 to 2020, there were 160. About 30% of mass shootings happen in workplaces, and about 25% occur in schools.

In 2020, 44% of Americans reported that they or someone in their household owned a gun, per an annual Gallup poll on guns in America. The typical American gun owner is White, male, between the ages of 30 and 64, has a household income of less than $100,000, lives in the suburbs or a rural area and is registered to vote as a Republican.

In 2021, 45,034 people died by gunfire, while 42,915 died in motor vehicle accidents. While these numbers may seem comparable, they’re more lopsided than you might realize, since car owners far outnumber gun owners: There are an estimated 234.9 million licensed drivers—and only 81.4 million gun owners.

Violence has become so widespread that it both neutralizes the public’s sense of moral outrage and shatters their bonds of solidarity. As society is increasingly militarized under neoliberalism, violence becomes the solution for everything. This is especially dangerous for those individuals who feel isolated and lonely in a society that atomizes everything. Some of these individuals turn to the internet and social media in search of community, often to be radicalized by White supremacist conspiracy theories, as was the case with the Buffalo shooter.

Faced with other problems, Americans act sensibly. Auto accidents used to be the leading cause of death among children for decades and to deal with this, all 50 states sensibly have child safety laws for children in automobiles.  After the 1995 bombing of the  Oklahoma City  Courthouse,  the purchase of ammonium nitrate — a chemical commonly used in fertilizer and explosives – became regulated.

What sense does it make for 18-year-olds to be able to buy AR-15 assault weapons but not alcohol or cigarettes? What sense is there in states making it easier to get a gun than for women to get an abortion?

Death by gun is a massive public health emergency as deadly as the pandemic at its worst and striking those most innocent. Consider that in 2020, according to CDC mortality data, there were more than 19,000 gun homicides and 24,000 gun suicides, and more than 500 accidental gun deaths.

More guns, more deaths. Compare the states with the highest rates of gun ownership with the highest rates of gun deaths:

10 states with the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 residents by state:

 

10 states with the highest rates of gun ownership:

 

Alaska (23 per 100,000 people)

 

Alaska (64.5%)
Alabama (21.4 per 100,000 people) Wyoming (66.20%)

 

Louisiana (21.2 per 100,000 people) Montana (66.30%)

 

Mississippi (19.8 per 100,000 people)

 

Idaho (60.10%)

 

Oklahoma (19.6 per 100,000 people)

 

West Virginia (58.50%)

 

Montana (19 per 100,000 people)

 

Arkansas (57.20%)

 

Missouri (18.8 per 100,000 people)

 

Mississippi (55.80%)

 

New Mexico (18.2 per 100,000 people) Alabama (55.50%)

 

Arkansas (17.7 per 100,000 people) South Dakota (55.30%)

 

South Carolina (17.7 per 100,000 people) North Dakota (55.10%)

 

The solution to mass shootings like Uvalde hinges on a simple premise: fewer guns in fewer hands.

How can we accept 1.5 million of firearm deaths between 1968 and 2017? – this is more than the number of soldiers killed in every US conflict since the American War for Independence in 1775!

 

There have been 200 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, which represents a doubling since 2018, followed by 119 in 2019; 114 in 2020; 249 in 2021.

In the 20-plus years since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, more than 300,000 children have been exposed to gunfire in a school setting, resulting in a generation of children who can’t assume going to school is safe. One-third of adults say they avoid certain places due to fears of gun violence. Of those, over half fear gun violence at public events, like concerts. By comparison, since 9/11, no one has perished at the hands of terrorists on a commercial airliner.

Rather than uniting the country behind a shared vision for how to keep the public safe, the massacres, the right-wing backlash forced Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY) announced that he is suspending his campaign after endorsing a ban on assault weapons.

During the first year of the pandemic, the number of Americans felled by gun violence reached a level not seen since 1994, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increasingly, a majority of Americans view the Second Amendment as a malleable doctrine, subject to protecting people from mass shootings. 96% of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. 77% want families to be able to request a Red Flag intervention. 70% want police to be able to request a Red Flag intervention. 56% want gun laws strengthened. Each shooting increases those willing to curtail weaponizing America.

Dr. Mark Goulston wrote an article identifying the signs of a person to whom the Red Flag laws apply

What to LOOK for:

  • loss of temper on a daily basis
  • frequent physical fighting
  • significant vandalism or property damage
  • increase in use of drugs or alcohol
  • increase in risk-taking behavior
  • detailed plans to commit acts of violence
  • enjoying hurting animals
  • carrying a weapon
  • agitated movement – difficulty keeping still
  • easily irritated – you walk on “eggshells” around him
  • very impatient when having to wait in lines or wait to speak
  • shifty eye movements – tends to look evasively to left or right as if hiding something, if looks downward this may be a sign of submissiveness, but may then incense him later on
  • change in usual routines in terms of hobbies or exercises, etc.
  • stays to self or starts associating with “m! arginal” people
  • drawn to violent movies, newspaper stories, internet sites, television and radio shows
  • less attention to hygiene
  • paradoxical calmness in someone who has been agitated (may signal that has come up with a violent solution to his problems)

What to LISTEN for:

  • announcing threats or plans for hurting others
  • argumentative
  • becomes defensive easily
  • takes things personally that are not meant that way
  • negative comments about most things
  • complaining done with underlying agitation
  • blaming – most of what he talks about is blaming someone or something
  • sullen more than sulking– he can be silent in an intense way that doesn’t feel quiet, sulking means he’s getting some frustrations out

And if you notice the following signs over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:

  • a history of violent or aggressive behavior
  • serious drug or alcohol use
  • gang membership or a strong desire to be in a gang
  • access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
  • threatening others regularly
  • trouble controlling feelings like anger
  • withdrawal from friends and usual activities
  • feeling rejected or alone
  • having been a victim of bullying
  • poor school performance
  • history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
  • feeling constantly disrespected
  • failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others

Who then owns firearms?

Former Justice John Paul Stephens said the amendment was adopted out of fear that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the states.

A literal reading of the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” indicates Stephens was correct. President Biden stated “the Second Amendment is not absolute,” meaning it does not say anyone can carry a gun anywhere for any reason.

Who Knows People Who Have Been Shot

44% of US residents know someone who has been shot, and a higher proportion, 51% of US gun owners surveyed, know someone who was shot.

Is Gun Ownership a Right?

There is no such thing as an unconstrained right. Speech has limits.  Libel is illegal. Slander is illegal. Inciting a mob to commit an assault or murder is a crime. Sedition is illegal. The government places limits where public safety is at stake. The Supreme Court ruled in a  2008 case  District of Columbia v. Heller recognized an individual’s right to keep a gun in the home, the ruling also stated that Second Amendment rights are “not unlimited.”

Ironically, the Supreme Court is expanding gun rights in its first major Second Amendment opinion in more than ten years.  Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the deciding opinion for the 6-to-3 majority, saying that the Second Amendment allows people to carry guns outside their home for self-defense and that they should not have to “demonstrate some special need” to the government to exercise that right.

As new generations acquire political power, will subject the Supreme Court to the will of the majority of Americans? The Court is putting its independence on the line.

Americans endure more mass shootings than all other developed countries combined. It’s not even close.

For the past 20 years or so, the gun industry has been aggressively marketing military-grade munitions to the American people — with ads using social media and video streaming s invoking race-based fear, twisted notions of masculinity, and distorted ideas about “patriotism.”

Gun manufacturers appropriate social media, YouTube servers, video streaming services, and the work of YouTube influencers to attract audiences to websites that sell firearms:

One out of seven Twitter posts, 54% of YouTube videos, and nine out of ten YouTube influencer videos link to websites that facilitate gun sales.

Top manufacturers of domestic firearms received 98 million channel views, compared with 6.1 billion channel views received by the remaining top 12 YouTube influencers.

Advertisements use women in efforts to market handguns and pistols for the purpose of protection. Videos with women 2.5 times more often than videos without women.

YouTube and Twitter subsidize gun advertising by offering server and streaming services at no cost to gun manufacturers, to the commercial benefit of Google and Twitter’s corporate ownership.

This has fed some deadly trends:

  • The number of guns manufactured in America has nearly tripled over the past two decades, from 3.9 million in 2000 to 11.3 million in 2020.
  • We endure more mass shootings than all other developed countries combined. It’s not even close.
  • Guns unlike light bulbs, refrigerators, and cars don’t wear out.  Every gun sold may be around for a century or more. The frequency — and body count — of mass shootings has increased as well.13 of the 20 deadliest mass shootings since 1982 happened in just the past decade.

Credit LA Times2022 — 21 people killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

2022 — 10 people killed at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

2021 — 10 people killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

2019 — 23 people killed at a big-box store in El Paso, Texas.

2019 — 12 people killed at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

2018 — 12 people killed at a bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

2018 — 11 people killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

2018 — 17 people killed at high school in Parkland, Florida.

2017 — 26 people killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

2017 — 60 people killed at a music festival in Paradise, Nevada.

2016 — 49 people killed at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

2015 — 14 people killed at a conference center in San Bernardino, California.

2012 — 27 people killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

2012 — 12 people killed at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Below is a list of school shootings, not including nightclubs or businesses or anything else, just schools from 1998 to today:

Thurston High School
Columbine High School
Heritage High School
Deming Middle School
Fort Gibson Middle School
Buell Elementary School
Lake Worth Middle School
University of Arkansas
Junipero Serra High School
Santana High School
Bishop Neumann High School
Pacific Lutheran University
Granite Hills High School
Lew Wallace High School
Martin Luther King, Jr High School
Appalachian School of Law
Washington High School
Conception Abbey
Benjamin Tasker Middle School
University of Arizona
Lincoln High School
John McDonogh High School
Red Lion Area Junior High School
Case Western Reserve University
Rocori High School
Ballou High School
Randallstown High School
Bowen High School
Red Lake Senior High School
Harlan Community Academy High School
Campbell County High School
Milwee Middle School
Roseburg High School
Pine Middle School
Essex Elementary School
Duquesne University
Platte Canyon High School
Weston High School
West Nickel Mines School
Joplin Memorial Middle School
Henry Foss High School
Compton Centennial High School
Virginia Tech
Success Tech Academy
Miami Carol City Senior High School
Hamilton High School
Louisiana Technical College
Mitchell High School
EO Green Junior High School
Northern Illinois University
Lakota Middle School
Knoxville Central High School
Willoughby South High School
Henry Ford High School
University of Central Arkansas
Dillard High School
Dunbar High School
Hampton University
Harvard College
Larose-Cut Off Middle School
International Studies Academy
Skyline College
Discovery Middle School
University of Alabama
DeKalb School
Deer Creek Middle School
Ohio State University
Mumford High School
University of Texas
Kelly Elementary School
Marinette High School
Aurora Central High School
Millard South High School
Martinsville West Middle School
Worthing High School
Millard South High School
Highlands Intermediate School
Cape Fear High School
Chardon High School
Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Oikos University
Hamilton High School
Perry Hall School
Normal Community High School
University of South Alabama
Banner Academy South
University of Southern California
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Apostolic Revival Center Christian School
Taft Union High School
Osborn High School
Stevens Institute of Business and Arts
Hazard Community and Technical College
Chicago State University
Lone Star College-North
Cesar Chavez High School
Price Middle School
University of Central Florida
New River Community College
Grambling State University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School
Ronald E McNair Discovery Academy
North Panola High School
Carver High School
Agape Christian Academy
Sparks Middle School
North Carolina A&T State University
Stephenson High School
Brashear High School
West Orange High School
Arapahoe High School
Edison High School
Liberty Technology Magnet High School
Hillhouse High School
Berrendo Middle School
Purdue University
South Carolina State University
Los Angeles Valley College
Charles F Brush High School
University of Southern California
Georgia Regents University
Academy of Knowledge Preschool
Benjamin Banneker High School
D H Conley High School
East English Village Preparatory Academy
Paine College
Georgia Gwinnett College
John F Kennedy High School
Seattle Pacific University
Reynolds High School
Indiana State University
Albemarle High School
Fern Creek Traditional High School
Langston Hughes High School
Marysville Pilchuck High School
Florida State University
Miami Carol City High School
Rogers State University
Rosemary Anderson High School
Wisconsin Lutheran High School
Frederick High School
Tenaya Middle School
Bethune-Cookman University
Pershing Elementary School
Wayne Community College
JB Martin Middle School
Southwestern Classical Academy
Savannah State University
Harrisburg High School
Umpqua Community College
Northern Arizona University
Texas Southern University
Tennessee State University
Winston-Salem State University
Mojave High School
Lawrence Central High School
Franklin High School
Muskegon Heights High School
Independence High School
Madison High School
Antigo High School
University of California-Los Angeles
Jeremiah Burke High School
Alpine High School
Townville Elementary School
Vigor High School
Linden McKinley STEM Academy
June Jordan High School for Equity
Union Middle School
Mueller Park Junior High School
West Liberty-Salem High School
University of Washington
King City High School
North Park Elementary School
North Lake College
Freeman High School
Mattoon High School
Rancho Tehama Elementary School
Aztec High School
Wake Forest University
Italy High School
NET Charter High School
Marshall County High School
Sal Castro Middle School
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Great Mills High School
Central Michigan University
Huffman High School
Frederick Douglass High School
Forest High School
Highland High School
Dixon High School
Santa Fe High School
Noblesville West Middle School
University of North Carolina Charlotte
STEM School Highlands Ranch
Edgewood High School
Palm Beach Central High School
Providence Career & Technical Academy
Fairley High School (school bus)
Canyon Springs High School
Dennis Intermediate School
Florida International University
Central Elementary School
Cascade Middle School
Davidson High School
Prairie View A & M University
Altascocita High School
Central Academy of Excellence
Cleveland High School
Robert E Lee High School
Cheyenne South High School
Grambling State University
Blountsville Elementary School
Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus)
Prescott High School
College of the Mainland
Wynbrooke Elementary School
UNC Charlotte
Riverview Florida (school bus)
Second Chance High School
Carman-Ainsworth High School
Williwaw Elementary School
Monroe Clark Middle School
Central Catholic High School
Jeanette High School
Eastern Hills High School
DeAnza High School
Ridgway High School
Reginald F Lewis High School
Saugus High School
Pleasantville High School
Waukesha South High School
Oshkosh High School
Catholic Academy of New Haven
Bellaire High School
North Crowley High School
McAuliffe Elementary School
South Oak Cliff High School
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Sonora High School
Western Illinois University
Oxford High School
Robb Elementary School

And all the while, gun industry profits have exploded.

Here are the companies profiting:

Aero Precision LLC

Aero Precision, Aero Precision LLC

Anderson Manufacturing, WM C Anderson Inc

Armscor

ArmscorRIA,

Beretta USA Corp

Browning Arms Company

Colt Manufacturing Co

CZUSA, CZ

Diamondback Firearms, Diamondback Firearms LLC (owned by Taurus)

Fn America, LLC

Glock Inc

Henry Repeating Arms, Henry RAC Holding Corp

Heritage Manufacturing IncSturm, Ruger & Company

Hi-Point, Strassells Machine Inc (also known as Hi-Point Firearms)

Kel-Tec, Kel Tec CNC Industries Inc

Kimber Firearms, Kimber Mfg Inc

Maverick Arms, Inc (subsidiary of Mossberg & Sons)

MKE (also known as Zenith Firearms)

Mossberg, Maverick Arms, Inc (subsidiary of Mossberg & Sons)

Palmetto State Armory, Palmetto State Armory, LLC

Radical Firearms LLC

Remington Arms, Remington Arms Company LLC

SCCY Firearms, Sccy Industries LLC

Sig Sauer Inc

Smith & Wesson Corp

Springfield Armory, Springfield Inc

Strassells Machine Inc (also known as Hi-Point Firearms)

Sturm, Ruger and Co

Taurus International Manufacturing Inc

WM C Anderson Inc

Zenith Firearms, MKE (also known as Zenith Firearms)

What Can Be Done

Ban the sale of assault weapons. Both the Uvalde shooter and the accused Buffalo shooter were 18 when they bought assault weapons.  The Highland Park shooter also used an assault weapon for the massacre in July, 2022.

Does banning assault weapons work?   In the years after the assault weapons ban went into effect, the number of deaths from mass shootings fell, and the increase in the annual number of incidents slowed down. Even including 1999’s Columbine High School massacre – the deadliest mass shooting during the period of the ban – the 1994 to 2004 period saw lower average annual rates of both mass shootings and deaths resulting from such incidents than before the ban’s inception.

When the ban ended, there was an immediate and steep rise in mass shooting deaths. Calculations show the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active. The proportion of overall gun homicides resulting from mass shootings was also down, with nine fewer mass-shooting-related fatalities per 10,000 shooting deaths.

Expand background checks to include online sales and gun shows: The House has passed a universal background-check bill, but Senate Democrats know that Republicans will oppose anything that requires background checks for family members selling guns to one another.

Ban high-capacity magazines: The Washington Post Fact Checker’s Glenn Kessler has reported that this could make mass shootings when they do happen, less deadly.

Crackdown on ‘ghost guns’: These weapons are often sold in kits that the buyer puts together at home. They don’t have to have a serial number, and the buyer doesn’t have to pass a background check to buy one. In his only executive order on guns, President Biden made it easier for law enforcement to trace these guns. But Democrats in Congress want to turn this into law so the next president can’t overturn it.

Red-flag laws: These allow family members, community members or police to petition a judge to temporarily take away someone’s firearms if they appear to be a risk to themselves or others.

The big takeaway for me from the Illinois experience, as is the case for so many of these mass shootings and quite frankly so many of the shootings and deaths that don’t capture national attention, is implementation,” Frattaroli said.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws, including GOP-led states like Florida and Indiana. The new federal law includes $750 million to incentivize other states to pass them.

Yet even with a stronger national model and better implementation, Eugene Volokh, the University of California-Los Angeles’s expert in firearms regulation policy, argued that the black market for firearm purchases provides a loophole that is not easy to crack down on.

“People ask could this have been stopped with a red flag law? And the answer is nobody could be sure if it could be stopped. At most, what a red flag does it is causes the seizure of a weapon and prevents somebody from lawfully buying a weapon in the future,” he said, adding that someone could then just go buy a gun illegally.

Proponents of the red-flag laws argue that if properly implemented, they could have stopped Monday’s shooting in Highland Park.

“The fact is red flag laws do work, we have a mountain of evidence that shows that, but it’s an imperfect tool,” said Noah Lumbantobing, spokesperson for March for Our Lives. “You’ve got to train local officials on its use, you’ve got to make the public aware that it’s a tool available to them if they’re worried about the safety of a loved one.”

At the same time, many advocates say the best way to really reduce mass shootings would be for the government to reimpose an assault weapons ban or impose controls on large capacity magazines and ammunition.

“In our view, it’s clear a nationwide assault weapons ban would have prevented this,” Lumbantobing said.

Large capacity magazines can be put into handguns to allow the shooter to fire more rounds. The suspect on Monday allegedly fired more than 70 bullets from a roof of a local business through a fire escape ladder.

The big takeaway for me from the Illinois experience, as is the case for so many of these mass shootings and quite frankly so many of the shootings and deaths that don’t capture national attention, is implementation,” Frattaroli said.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws, including GOP-led states like Florida and Indiana. The new federal law includes $750 million to incentivize other states to pass them.

Branas argued that national action towards red flag laws would be better than leaving them to the states. He also called for a similar model across the country.

Yet even with a stronger national model and better implementation, Eugene Volokh, the University of California-Los Angeles’s expert in firearms regulation policy, argued that the black market for firearm purchases provides a loophole that is not easy to crack down on.

“People ask could this have been stopped with a red flag law? And the answer is nobody could be sure if it could be stopped. At most, what a red flag does it is causes the seizure of a weapon and prevents somebody from lawfully buying a weapon in the future,” he said, adding that someone could then just go buy a gun illegally.

“You can’t really stop someone simply by this kind of proceeding,” he added.

Proponents of the red-flag laws argue that if properly implemented, they could have stopped Monday’s shooting in Highland Park.

“The fact is red flag laws do work, we have a mountain of evidence that shows that, but it’s an imperfect tool,” said Noah Lumbantobing, spokesperson for March for Our Lives. “You’ve got to train local officials on its use, you’ve got to make the public aware that it’s a tool available to them if they’re worried about the safety of a loved one.”

Red-flag laws can be critical tools in lowering the number of suicides, experts say.

At the same time, many advocates say the best way to really reduce mass shootings would be for the government to reimpose an assault weapons ban or impose controls on large-capacity magazines and ammunition.

The bottom line, say gun control groups, is that the nation’s laws are simply too weak to really stop gun violence, even with the new gun safety measure and more red-flag laws.

“I think what’s really important to remember is our federal gun laws are extremely weak. The bipartisan bill is absolutely a concrete important, critical step forward on that but there’s a lot of work to be done on that,” said Robin Lloyd, Giffords’ managing director.

“Our federal gun laws are so riddled with loopholes,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be this way but in order for this not to be this way, we have to do a lot.”

The bottom line, say gun control groups, is that the nation’s laws are simply too weak to really stop gun violence, even with the new gun safety measure and more red-flag laws.

“I think what’s really important to remember is our federal gun laws are extremely weak. The bipartisan bill is absolutely a concrete important, critical step forward on that but there’s a lot of work to be done on that,” said Robin Lloyd, Giffords’ managing director.

 

The everyday deadliness and frequency of gun violence have given rise to an increasing number of partisans who think violence can be justified to achieve a political end.  What happened on January 6 was a manifestation of this, as well as the young man carrying a Glock 17 pistol, burglary tools, and zip ties, telling an FBI agent what had inspired him to travel from California to assassinate the conservative Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Kavanaugh incident galvanized Republicans to want to do something about gun violence, though they stopped short of allowing truly effective measures like eliminating assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

How many more deaths can this country endure? How many more innocent children will be killed before a mass movement arises that can bring this brutal social disease to an end?

The House on July 29 passed a bill to ban assault weapons,  marking the first time lawmakers have approved a prohibition on the popular firearms in more than two decades. The legislation, titled the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, cleared the chamber in a 217-213 vote. Let’s hope for success in the Senate! Showing how divisive this issue is, five Democrats voted against the ban alongside 208 Republicans were Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. vs. Bruen, the Supreme Court not only ruled that broad limits against people carrying firearms in states like New York and California were unconstitutional, but that other restrictions on firearms that aren’t deeply rooted in early American history — or at least analogous to some historical rule — would likewise violate the 2nd Amendment.

In less than a month, the Bruen decision has reinvigorated an already robust legal war on California’s gun laws and forced lower courts to begin reconsidering a whole host of legal challenges — with potentially massive stakes in a country devastated by gun violence on a daily basis.

To get around the filibuster rule in the Senate, 10 Republican senators would need to join Democrats. With shootings happening at any time and in any setting – shopping, banking, walking in a shopping mall – is it too much to ask if this is not an American problem – not one to be decided along party lines.

Striking numbers of people  have begun mobilizing against gun violence and the climate crisis. At this moment, as well, we seem to be witnessing the rise of a new labor movement, with workers already organizing at Starbucks, Dollar General stores, and Walmart, among other places. The Christian nationalist movement relies on a divide-and-conquer strategy and single-issue organizing.

People advocating compassionate politics have multiple ways of relating to people.

Hoisted with his own Petard

Trump returned to Washington for the first time Tuesday, July 26, after leaving office to give a speech to the right-wing America First Policy Institute’s America First Agenda Summit, which aired live on Newsmax.

What he said was terrifying: he wants the U.S. to be more like China with police on every corner, with “Very short trials and mass executions. Trump praised the way crime is handled in the Philippines, where over 12,000 people have been executed for drug-related crimes.

In reference to the January 6 insurrection, Trump said, “We may just have to do it again.” With these words, Trump is admitting to instigating the January 6 attempted insurrection. What more could the Justice Department or a jury need to convict Trump?

Trump said major drug traffickers are responsible for about 500 deaths each and should be executed upon conviction for those lost lives.

“If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute a very quick trial and death-penalty sentence for drug dealers,” Trump told the crowd.

“It doesn’t take 15 years in court. It goes quickly,” Trump said. “You execute a drug dealer and you save 500 lives because they kill on average 500 people.”

Trump cited Singapore and China as examples of countries with no drug problems where drug dealers are put to death.

“It’s terrible to say, but you take a look at every country in this world that doesn’t have a problem with drugs, [and] they have a very strong death penalty for people who sell drugs,” Trump said.

Predicting that the death sentence would be a deterrent to major drug dealers,

Trump complained at length about how unsightly homeless people spoil the view of cities. He advocated for all homeless people to be rounded up and forced from the cities, to “large parcels of inexpensive land.” Trump is America’s worst nightmare.

“A friend of mine said recently that I was the most persecuted person in the history of our country,” Trump said. “I said he may very well be right.”

Some Americans Believe Covid Will Never Go Away; Others Pretend It’s Not a Risk

After several months of stagnation, the U.S. average COVID-19 case rate has once again begun to rise as the omicron BA.5 subvariant has risen to become the dominant strain in the country. While infections are rising, pandemic fatigue has been noted to be at an all-time high, with a minority of people not willing to take up mitigation efforts. Many consider the pandemic to be over.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a mass-disabling event that experts liken to HIV, polio, or World War II, with millions suffering the long-term effects of infection with the coronavirus. Many have found their lives dramatically changed and are grappling with what it means to be disabled.

 

A large majority of Americans believe that COVID-19 will always be around, according to new polling data released on Tuesday, with pandemic pessimism appearing to be rising — along with recent case counts.

The Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index found that 78 percent of Americans surveyed agreed with the statement “We will never fully be rid of the coronavirus in my lifetime.” This trend was consistent for Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

The Axios-Ipsos poll noted that only 36 percent of respondents said they wear a mask when outside their home, the lowest rate observed since the beginning of the pandemic. The same percentage of respondents said they never wear a mask when outside their home, a 14 percent jump from this same time last year.

At the same time, 29 percent of respondents said they believed that the pandemic was over, indicating there was some overlap between those who believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus will never go away but also

We’re at this real confrontational moment of trying to educate as many people as possible about disability and structural inequalities and trying to make sure [long haulers] get the resources they need right now.

The map below shows 2020 counties with the color corresponding to the number of cases.

The more infectious BA.5 omicron subvariant now makes up almost 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., as case rates continue to trend upward.
About 78 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. are caused by the BA.5 subvariant, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The rise of BA.5 has spurred concerns over its enhanced ability to evade protection given by vaccines and prior infections from other variants.
Currently available vaccines are still believed to be effective in reducing the risk of hospitalizations and deaths from BA.5, but the shot’s ability to prevent infection is thought to be less potent against this subvariant.

As BA.5 has grown in prevalence, the rate of COVID-19 infections has steadily begun to rise again. The case rate now stands at about 126,000 cases per week.

Among covid-deniers — the always-testing-negative ones, not the conspiracy theory crew — theories about the reasons for their good fortune abound. “I must have superhuman immunity or something,” some people tell themselves.

Scientists have found no conclusive evidence of innate genetic immunity.

 

The Secret Service Has Gone From Protection to Criminality

The Secret Service revealed that it had erased the messages on their cell phones on the dates of January 5 and 6.  This reminds us of Rosemary Woods deleting key tapes of Richard Nixon’s tapes in the Oval Office. Unlike the Woods situation in which it could not be proved that she or someone did it intentionally, the Secret Service obviously intended to delete what they did. As I understand federal criminal law, this was – on its face – an unlawful act.

Inspector General Joseph Cuffari notified Congress earlier this month that text messages from the agency on Jan. 5 and 6 appeared to have been erased as part of a device replacement program – leaving lawmakers peeved he waited months to alert them. Lawmakers then asked the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security to step aside from an ongoing investigation into “erased” text messages at the Secret Service.

“We are writing to express our grave concerns with Inspector General Cuffari’s failure to promptly notify Congress of crucial information while conducting an investigation of the Secret Service’s preparation for and response to January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol,” House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter.

So far they have turned up only one text message was a plea from then Capitol Police Steven Sund asking for help. Texts sent by Secret Service agents during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 seem to have been erased. Coupled with testimony that raises questions about the Service’s response to the events of that day, a shadow has been cast on the agency. A retired agent wrote this. Donald J. McHaley.  This episode that turned into a full-blown scandal has become a criminal investigation into ten Secret Service personnel. Their phones contain metadata showing text messages that were sent and received around January 20 but were not preserved.

The agency deleted text messages on government employees’ work-issued phones on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, the day before and the day of the insurrection at the US Capitol. In a July 2022 statement(Opens in a new window), Anthony Guglielmi, Chief of Communications for the Secret Service, said it “reset its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration” before the Department of Homeland Security and lawmakers requested any information. “In that process, data resident on some phones was lost.” Apple likes to tout the security of iMessage, but it may be a bit too secure for the Secret Service.

It is not the Secret Service that has been flouting the law. It includes the Department of Homeland Security, and high-level Pentagon officials within the Trump administration. This is corruption that eats into the heart of government.

That didn’t sit well with lawmakers investigating the attack. As a result, the agency may restrict employees from using iMessage on work-issued phones to prevent such a loss of critical evidence in the future, Politico reports

The suspicion of criminal behavior is suggested by the fact that Trump appointed  Anthony Ornato, an official with the Secret Service, as his White House  Chief  Operations. Ornato returned to the Secret Service after serving Trump. In accepting this appointment, Ornato politicized the Secret Service and the chain of willful disobedience to lawful requests demonstrates this.

The Secret Service has a policy requiring employees to back up and store government communications when they retire old electronic or telephonic devices, but in practice, staff do not consistently back up texts from phones.

The Secret Service has had a history of important records disappearing under cover of night and agency staff members refusing to cooperate when investigators came calling seeking information.

A further indication of criminal behavior is that the erasures came “after” the Office of Inspector General requested copies of the text messages for its own investigation and signaled that they were part of a pattern of DHS resistance to his inquiries, so there was no excuse for not backing up the phones.

The Secret Service claims many U.S. Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021 were erased as part of a device-replacement program.

Normally, phones clearing or deleting messages on a cell phone doesn’t mean the data is permanently gone, it’s just been filed away differently. If law enforcement. Law enforcement can get any data they want from cell phones with the right court order.

The Secret Service is so severely compromised that a total investigation should turn up several indictments. It’s interesting to note that with the blowback following the disclosure of the destruction of cell phone data, they have suddenly claimed to be cooperating. Let us not forget they denied the events described by Cassidy Hutchinson. Only the testimony of the DC Capitol police substantiated what she told the nation.

Questions Not Asked and Issues Not Dealt With

Not asked are questions like “Would people in your district not benefit from childcare” or “improved bridges?”

Instead, the right-wing media machine begins every national news cycle with what Republicans are angry about. Critical Race Theory is an example. It is never taught in grade schools, however controversial an idea this is, it’s nowhere near as significant as global warming, or the cost of childcare, yet Fox News peddled this made-up controversy 437 times in 2020.

The problem is mainstream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MS-NBC) too often follow the stories broken by Fox News. Instead of ignoring or naming it a hoax, CNN aired 183 segments two or more times on critical race theory; in 2020 ABC News aired 31 reports; the Dallas Morning News, 69 reports; The Los Angeles Times, 38 times, and CNN’s newswire, 88 times.

What is significant is not important. What is important is not significant. Most of the time, most of the media obsess over issues of mind-numbing triviality.  At the same time, issues of immense, even existential importance are largely or entirely ignored in favor of repetitive coverage of the most newsworthy event of the day.

The Washington Post published an article about it in the spring but did not point out it’s not taught in public schools. It quoted eight Republicans but no Democrats. The New York Times also published lengthy a story about it. In the 13th paragraph, the Times acknowledged CRT isn’t taught in public schools, yet reported Republicans as saying critical race theory has invaded classrooms.

A group of 85 fact-checking organizations wrote an open letter to YouTube to Wednesday faulting the video platform for spreading disinformation.  The organizations, including, Univision and The Washington Post Fact-checker, call YouTube’s efforts to moderate content “insufficient.”

It wasn’t an accident that Joe Manchin chose Fox News to declare his opposition to the Build Back Better legislation and pressed Republicans and people like Joe Manchin to answer questions about the problems in their constituencies.

The media has in recent years completely normalized the Republicans’  worldview, to the point where virtually all of the Build Back Better coverage ignores the fact it’s 50 Republicans who are dooming legislation that would create a universal prekindergarten program, subsidize child care costs, lower prescription-drug costs and offer tax credits for reducing carbon emissions. Instead, the media is focused on the opposition of just one Senator, Joe Manchin. The Republicans are treated as innocent bystanders whose actions play no role in any of this.

The media can do a better job of relating the most urgent everyday problems of Americans like paying for childcare which prevents millions of Americans from returning to work. Global warming threatens our daily existence in more than a dozen ways.  These can be illustrated as well as “Made in America” segments, which I consider a “feel good” story.”

I propose a new category of “Solve Problems” stories. New patents, new ideas coming from universities, ideas solicited from the public are among the sources that could be tapped.

Half of the country is searching for a new understanding of our racial history, the other half violently denies it. Half of our neighbors are demagoguing critical race theory, while the other half are busy reading or watching Fox News about it. Millions of people are asking questions about whether  American history is an existential threat to them because then they have to ask questions of themselves.

Trump has said, “Our country is going to hell!” And, he is leading the march. 15 Republicans who voted against the oil import ban included several of Trump’s most outspoken supporters, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Cawthorn has  called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

His co-travelers include right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack who says “climate control is nothing but a ruse of the devil” and adds that people are dying in Ukraine because environmentalists have “empowered” Putin by trying to limit the use of fossil fuels.   Yet another example:

“At least the guy was a Democrat”  was a text sent to South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg after he committed a fatal hit-and-run by a  GOP political strategist.

In Nevada, while leaving a restaurant with his family, Governor Steve Sisolak, was threatened with hanging by two fat men.  “We should string you up on lamppost right now!” “They hang traitors!” shouted the men, one of whom recorded his own video and posted it on social media.  Two Republicans running for the nomination to replace Sisolak for governor Reno attorney Joey Gilbert and Las Vegas council member Michele Fiore lauded it: “I cannot think of a more deserving person,” Gilbert wrote, while Fiore chimed in that Sisolak was “lucky it was just words.

Now there are Republicans who have the audacity to require that Congress vote every five years on whether to continue Medicare and Social Security. This is the 11-point “Rescue America Plan” plan of Senator Rick Scott. He also calls for raising taxes on low- and middle-income Americans, including retirees who rely solely on Social Security for their income.

President Biden criticized the plan , noting that imposing new limits on Social Security and Medicare could endanger the programs in the future.

“Really, ask yourself: How well are we going to sleep at night knowing that every five years, MAGA Republicans — if they’re still the Republican — as I said, this is not your father’s Republican Party — if we’re going to have to vote on whether you will have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and what amounts you’ll have in each of those programs?” Biden asked.

This is a warning about the GOP’s agenda for Social Security and Medicare and what seniors could face if the Republicans retake Congress in November.”

What We Need to Do to Win in 2022?

It was a sunny day when Democrats won the White House, held onto the House, and gained control of the Senate with the help of Vice-President Harris casting the decisive vote. If we look more closely, we find that Democrats lost 10 House seats by razor-thin majorities. Democratic candidates running for re-election seeking to turnover districts Trump had won in 2016. They raised millions more than their Republican opponents and still lost. Democrats were hoping to pick up as many as half a dozen legislative chambers and ended up with none. Republicans hold total legislative control in 61 percent of state legislatures, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State LegislaturesNow the defection of just a few Blue Dog Democrats on key issues like court voter reform, and minimum wage prevents revered issues from being adopted.

An inordinate number of people who voted for him said their chief motivation was voting against Trump, rather than for Biden. Another is that Democrats farther down the ballot underperformed him — particularly in the Senate.

In losing, Trump received ten million more votes than he got in 2016. Trump voters turned out at unexpectedly high rates.  Neither the public polls nor the Democratic internal polls nor the Republican polls forecast this heavy a vote for Trump.

How explain the increase in Trump’s vote?

  • The economy appeared to be coming back. Households benefited from the stimulus checks; many people paid off credit card debt while cutting back on expenses like travel, doctor visits, entertainment, restaurant meals, and millions of Americans stayed solvent.
  • The pandemic affected voters already disposed to voting for Biden more harshly, such as urban and coastal state voters than Trump voters.
  • Republican voters did not blame Trump for the deaths caused by the coronavirus and the ensuing recession, treating it more like an act of God.
  • Why are Trump voters consistently missed in the polls? The New York Times postulates Trump voters are distrustful of institutions and thus will not talk to pollsters. The Pew Research Center estimates that on average, only 6 percent of people were willing to respond to polls in recent years, compared to an average of 50 percent a few decades ago. That leaves pollsters to reconstruct the U.S. population, and they are clearly not getting it right. Will any of them pause for a moment to reflect after results from Starr County, Texas — the most Latino County in the United States — that went for Clinton by a whopping 60%, has now only gone for Biden by about 5%?

Explaining Why People Turn to the Right

A better explanation for the turn to the right is that their political machinery knows how to articulate the gut feeling of voters’ worst fears. They believe statements likening the mob’s overwhelming Capitol Police and vandalizing Capitol offices to a “normal tourist visit.” (Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.). Most Republicans see through red-colored glasses, and that means real-life economic conditions have less of an effect on elections than they did in the past. Trump’s ability to tickle the darkest recesses of the white American’s lizard brain is unparalleled, in a country that doesn’t elect its presidents by popular vote, but by a system that overrepresents white rural states.

What underlies the fear and distrust of government, media, and most institutions?  Resentments have metastasized as American’s most important role in life has become that of consumers. This took shape before World War I but became commonplace in America in the 1920s. Over the course of the 20th century, capitalism preserved its momentum by molding the ordinary person into a consumer with an unquenchable thirst for more stuff. Consuming is now seen as our principal job in life, resulting in more luxurious homes, vehicles for land, sea, and air, electronics, hobbies, toys, and collectibles of all kinds.

The result is half of Americans work in “low-wage jobs.” Three out of four Americans struggle to pay their bills, 80% live paycheck to paycheck, and most will die in debt. Half of American the workforce deserves more than they are being paid. We live in a society, not just an economy.

Roughly 1.1 million older workers dropped out of the job market during the pandemic. Many are financially unprepared.

More than a third of all U.S. workers changed employers or lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, double the typical level in the previous two decades, according to a paper by Alexander Bick of Arizona State University and Adam Blandin of Virginia Commonwealth University.

For people who had been at their job for less than two years before the pandemic, the churn was much higher, according to the study. Almost 62% had separated from their employers a year later, versus about 16% for those who had been employed by the same company for at least a decade.

Among workers who had a job in February 2020, almost 37% were no longer with their employer a year later.  Almost 26% had a different employer, and the remaining 11% were out of a job. It appears that many people were finding new jobs rather than returning to their old employers.

This may help explain the current labor shortage, especially in the restaurant, entertainment, and hotel industries, which lost the most jobs during the pandemic and are now struggling to hire fast to meet brisk demand.

All economic crises result in job losses. But the most striking difference during the pandemic is that a quarter of workers had a new employer a year after COVID-19 hit, said Bick and Blandin, who use a benchmark U.S. Census Bureau population data set as the basis of an online survey to collect labor data in real-time. That’s almost twice as large as the next-highest rate, about 13% in 1997.

Roughly two-thirds of rural voters across the country cast their ballots for Trump. Any election results map you look at offers a bleak visualization of the political divide between rural and urban voters: a sea of red dotted with islands of blue.

Why did Trump do so well with rural voters? From my experience, it is not because local Democrats failed to organize in rural areas. Instead, conversations with dozens of voters, neighbors, friends and family members reveal the pain and struggle in their community, yet rural people do not feel it is taken seriously by the Democratic Party.

Farmers’ share of every retail food dollar has fallen from about 50 percent in 1952 to 15 percent today. Corporations control more and more of the agriculture business—from the seed and fertilizer farmers buy to the grain, milk, and meat they sell—sucking out profits instead of giving farmers a fair price or a fair shot at the market. Every day, small farmers are squeezed: They can either expand their operations and take on more debt in an attempt to produce more or close their business entirely because of chronically low commodity prices.

Rural health care is a disaster. At least 176 rural hospitals have closed since 2005, the majority of them in the past 10 years; it is generally not profitable for hospitals to operate in low-population areas. Wisconsin has not been hit as badly as other states, but those hospitals that remain open in rural parts of the state are scaling back services and struggling to retain doctors. In my own county, there are zero ICU beds, even as Covid infection rates surge. Our profit-based health care system is failing rural people.

Rural people in Wisconsin are dying by suicide at rates higher than folks in suburban and urban parts of the state. This is not just a matter of poor mental health services—many rural counties lack a single practicing psychiatrist. It is also about an inescapable feeling of failure and an overwhelming sense that there is no future here.

This does not mean we need to begrudge the sports and entertainment stars their helicopters, ships, BMWs, Jaguars, Porsches, Mercedes-Benz’s, and Tesla’s as long as we have shelter, enough to eat, health care for ourselves and our families, as well as access to the universe through the internet where we can earn money and have an endless supply of possibilities for entertainment and knowledge.

The political result is that in the entire country there are only 16 “crossover” districts (seven districts voted for a Democrat and Donald Trump while nine voted for Joe Biden and a Republican), according to a study by the Center for American Progress.  This represents the lowest number of split-ticket districts in a century, a result of historically high levels of partisan polarization.

The economic anguish between the ultra-rich and the rest of us is so great that Trump was able to tap into these resentments to the point, he was instigating an attempted coup on January 6.  Almost every week, there is an outpouring of violence, everywhere from Hialeah, St. Louis to San Antonio. Where violence will break out next, no one knows – will the next outpouring of right-wing anger threaten a downtown, a state capitol, a synagogue, a sports venue, or a shopping center. Not know this makes dealing with the economic divide more problematic.

How a Minority Predominates Over the Majority

While white born-again or evangelical Protestants are a declining share of our population, they comprise just 16 percent of the population, down from 19 percent in 2009.  Despite numbering only 1 in 6 Americans, their share of the electorate accounts for a quarter of the electorate since 2008, making their influence stretch beyond their numbers.

The vote in May that defeated the establishment of a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection was voted down by Senators representing only 109 million Americans while Senators voting for the commission represented 160 million Americans. This is the tyranny of the minority over the majority. When 20% of Republicans say the January attack on the capital was justified, we can wonder what our neighbors are thinking.

White evangelicals are either 23 percent of the electorate, according to the Associated Press or 28 percent according to Edison Research exit polling. Voter suppression and gerrymandered districts enable them to have political power disproportionate to their share of the population.

This means White evangelicals turned out in mind-boggling numbers. Because they maintained their roughly 80 percent support for Republicans (76 percent and 81 percent in the two exit polls) of recent years, it also means some 40 percent of Trump voters came from a group that is only 15 percent of America.

White evangelicals have, in effect, skewed the electorate by masking the rise of a young, multiracial, and largely secular voting population. The White evangelicals’ overperformance also shows, unfortunately, why the racist appeal Trump made in this campaign was effective. White evangelicals were fired up like no other group by Trump’s encouragement of white supremacy.

The Institute’s American Values Survey from September found overwhelming majorities of White evangelical Protestants saying that police killings of African Americans were “isolated incidents,” and that Confederate flags and monuments are symbols of Southern pride rather than racism. (Smaller majorities of White mainline Protestants and Catholics felt the same way.) Majorities of white evangelicals also perceived discrimination against Christians and Whites. They rejected the idea that slavery and longtime discrimination make it difficult for Black Americans to succeed.

Such findings aren’t surprising. White evangelicals abandoned the Democratic Party after the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s. They became an active political force in the early 1970s in large part to defend the ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University (they didn’t embrace abortion as an issue until 1979). The Republicans’ Southern strategy stoked White resentment for decades but never as overtly as Trump did. White evangelicals responded passionately: Pre-election, 90 percent said they were certain to vote, and nearly half of those voting for Trump said virtually nothing he could do would shake their approval. There was little evidence of differences among White evangelicals by gender, generation, or education.

They are, as a group, dying out (median age in the late 50s), and their views are appalling to other Americans. Majorities of white evangelical Protestants don’t see the pandemic as a critical issue (they are less likely than others to wear masks), believe society has become too “soft and feminine,” oppose same-sex marriage, think Trump was called by God to lead and don’t believe he encouraged white supremacist groups.

White evangelicals have become, in essence, lost whose inhabitants are slowly but steadily distancing themselves from the American core values.

Republicans Labelling the Issues

Compounding the fact that Republicans make more clever use of labels and lies, Democrats wound themselves. Democratic strategist James Carville slammed liberals for even mentioning things such as “defunding police.” Using phrases like “defunding police” results in losing otherwise winnable races in districts like the fifth district in Virginia.

Labeling the issues raised by Democrats as “socialist” resonated with Hispanic voters in Florida, costing Democrats two House seats. Republicans capitalize on fear and the reluctance of people to adopt change, using labels like socialism. Polls find that over 55% of Americans have a negative opinion of socialism.

What is ironic is the distortions the right-wingers about the safety of vaccines or of wearing facemasks, denying climate change is self-destructive. It results in lower state vaccination rates in states Trump won while most blue states are vaccinating at levels well above the national average.

Secret Hate Vote

There is a secret hate vote.  What is the “secret hate vote”? The phenomenon of what American pundits call “the shy Trump voter.” (What a euphemism.) People who tell pollsters one thing, and then turn right around and do another. They surfaced en masse in 2016 and in 2020, rendering polls wrong.

Why does the secret hate vote exist? There are a few reasons. There is a certain glee for Trumpists in making the polls wrong — theirs is an authoritarian movement, remember, and they rely on delegitimizing democratic norms and institutions. What better way than to render polls wrong. There is also the shame factor. Would you really want to tell people you are voting for Trump? Even a lot of Trump voters are ashamed of him — but they back him because they feel heard and seen by him. Shame precludes them from telling pollsters what they really feel.

The hidden deplorable people are not Republicans. They are not even conservative. They are apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, the government seems and feels distant, and it is certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that’s where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorable have been left behind. So their attitude? “Fuck them all.”

Trump shows up in 2016 and gives them hope for change, saying the quiet part out loud—that their lives suck not because of their own choices and that of those corporations that have deserted them, but because all that sweet, sweet government money is going to “illegals” and “thugs” in those cities. He puts uppity Black and brown people and women in their place. He offers them hope that if he can not improve their lives, that at least he’ll hurt all those others.

Their lives suck, but Trump was supposed to be bringing everyone else down to their level. That’s why all that nonsense about “economic uncertainty” was such bullshit. None of these people ever thought Trump would bring back the factories, paying good middle-class wages. But it would all be worth it if Trump would just hurt the people he needed to be hurt.

From the start, let us dispense with the notion of a “shy Trump voter.” These people aren’t shy, yet they certainly exist. They are the assholes trying to run the Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas. They are the anti-government militias in Michigan. They are these people:

There is nothing “shy” about these people or their support for Trump, yet pollsters aren’t catching them. They turn out for Trump, but they didn’t turn out for Republicans in 2017, 2018, or 2019. Remember, last year Democrats picked up governorships in the blood-red states of Louisiana and Kentucky.

No amount of personal begging and pleading from Trump could get Republicans to the polls in those red states, nor did his extensive campaigning help his party during the 2018 Democratic wave year.

What is remarkable about Trumpism is that it is the Death Star of the American Idiots. Trumpism unites all the various kinds of American Idiots. In a kind of epic, colossal suicide pact.

What are the American Idiots really fighting for — whether they are religious fanatics, Covidiots, gun nuts, or bigots?  In the rest of the rich world, freedom now has a modern meaning — it means something like “the set of rights that enable one to enjoy a decent life, from healthcare to retirement to income to childcare to, no matter how harmful it is to anyone else, yourself, your city, town, country, or your loved ones.

Free-dumb is individualism gone thermonuclear, taken to its most absurd outer limits. It means that your right to carry a gun to Walmart is more important than kids getting education. That you can teach your kids whatever kind of nonsense you want, instead of educating them to be proper members of a civilized society. It means that Justice Amy Coney Barrett can belong to a religious cult dignity.” But in America, freedom means something so different it is diametrically opposed: the right to do whatever you damn well please.  You can go on “believing” Covid does not exist, while you are dying of it. America cannot get a grip on Covid, because the Covidiots keep right on spreading it…since they don’t believe it exists in the first place., Society can not make any progress since the vast majority of Republicans apparently believe the election was rigged., because the idiots block even the smallest iota of it, crying like big slobbering babies that their free-dumb is under attack. The smallest kind of cultural progress — gay rights, women’s rights — are at constant risk of reversal, because the idiots can not abide anyone else being a true equal, since the world has to spin around them, and their ignorance, stupidity, rage, and superstition.

How did all this come to be? Trump printed a license for every American Idiot to go out and set fire to their own neighborhoods, sure — but why did they think that was a good thing to do? Because America’s a country so backward it is hard to explain just how the American Idiot ends up thinking the bizarre things they do. Certainly, the internet reinforces it. Visit an American bookshop, and most of the best-sellers are fanatical right-wing screeds. And American education is something you can opt-out of.

American idiocy is a kind of complex cultural problem right about now. The American Idiot is, we know, three things. One, less educated, as in, often, not very educated. Two, white. And three, downwardly mobile. Those give us standard explanations — the downwardly mobile lash out at even more powerless groups in society, in resentment and rage at their fall. That explains Trumpism’s virulent hate and bigotry.

The sad thing is none of this is an accident. It is the result of decades of policy decisions—by Republicans and Democrats—that deplete our communities.

The Republicans are sinking lower and lower. Republican nominees are just getting worse and worse. An Indiana man charged with murdering his wife has won A Republican primary election from jail.

What Issues Can Democrats Talk About?

Every issue needs to be related to some experience people can relate to. Choose the issues you want to focus on. Issues need to be rooted in common sense.  Appeal to self-interest without scaring people. Stick to the facts and manipulate experiences so they make sense.

 

January, 2020 March, 2o2o October 20, 2020 Voting for

Biden

Voting for

Trump

Economy 86%

 

Jobs  79%

 

 

 

Terrorism  71%

 

Social Security  70%

Education  70%

 

Medicare & health care costs 65%

 

Strengthening economy – 86%

Job  – 79%

Reducing

budget deficit – 72%

Defending against terrorism – 71%

Securing Social Security – 70%

Improving education – 70%

Securing Medicare – 65%

Reducing health care costs – 63%

Helping poor and needy – 57%

Reducing crime – 55%

Protecting environment – 52%

Dealing with nation’s energy problem – 45%

Strengthening the military – 41%

Dealing with illegal immigration – 39%

Strengthening gun control laws – 37%

Dealing with global trade – 31%

Improving infrastructure – 30%

Dealing with global warming – 28%

Economy

Health Care

Supreme Court Appointments

Covid-D

Foreign Policy

Abortion

82

66

82

 

50

42

42

44

64

24

 

53

48

48

 

Most Americans align with Democrats on the economy, health care, social security, and treatment of Covid-D. Democrats can persuasively talk about all issues except abortion.

More members of the millennial generation and Generation Z voted in the 2020 presidential election than in any prior election, according to several studies of the electorate that have taken place in recent months.

Most Americans (60 percent) supported the general idea of dramatically reducing the United States fossil fuel use over the next two decades in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2019 Gallup poll.

A 2019 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that most Americas support the goals of the Green New Deal.  Things like guaranteeing jobs with good wages for all U.S. workers and providing all people in the country with health care through a government program — although there was little support for achieving the proposal’s goals by increasing taxes.

Talking About Money and Taxes with Voters

How can we pay for programs that will both save the middle class and assure the nation’s future?  Many Americans are hesitant to have the federal government spend by the trillions on infrastructure. They do not have to be.

People by nature are aversive to losses and so voters tend to be risk-averse, not willing to lose what they already have. It needs to be emphasized that the United States does not need to increase taxes on the middle class to pay for the nation’s needs. It is vital to project gains larger than any possible losses.

Billionaires have increased their wealth by 44% since the pandemic began The top 25 richest Americans paid taxes at a “true” tax rate of 3.4%.  For comparison, households with a median average income of $70K pay about 14% in taxes.

The richest 1% of Americans do not report about 20% of their income to the IRS. A study released last month by two IRS officials as authors finds that collecting that money would boost tax collections by $175 billion a year.

Tax cheats are costing the U.S. $1 trillion a year. They do this using cryptocurrencies, offshore tax evasion, illegal income that goes undetected by the IRS, and underreporting from pass-through businesses.  This is a wide gap in tax collection.

Every year Americans spend $153,000,000,000 to subsidize McDonald’s and Walmart’s underpaid workers. The real freeloaders in this country are corporations, not people.

How to Communicate with People to Win Their Votes

Facts matter, but they must be understandable. Voters need to be touched in terms of what they think and feel. Politics vote for values they identify with, for what they see as right, not wrong.

In talking about the economy, health care, court reform, the coronavirus outbreak, the environment, budget deficits, terrorism, social security, education, crime, immigration, and energy, it is critical these issues be expressed in ways that touch people’s day to day lives. In themselves, numbers from the Congressional Budget Office do not mean much to most voters. Senator Elizabeth Warren and President-Elect Biden did this in relating these issues to the everyday lives of Americans in their runs for the Presidency.

Many voters are resentful of the establishment – big corporations and Wall Street. As many as 15 to 20 percent of voters may be conservative on social issues, but progressive on economic issues, or conversely. These are swing voters who determine the outcomes of elections.

Talking to Individual Voters

  (Name of person you are speaking with)

Once you can get another person to relate to a topic that interests them, it breaks the ice.

Then you can ask, “How do you decide whether to vote in an election?”

Some people become convinced if they believe voting is helping others. Some people will not be told what to do; they need to decide to vote. These people are not convincible – they must convince themselves.

On the other hand, some people are defensive or rigid. Your task is to find what issue will motivate them to be convinced voting is in their interest.

Recognize or learn why something matters. What values are foremost?

Identify the thinking that stands in the way of persuading voters to your view.

You can begin conversations with small talk, asking about:

By engaging them in “small talk” or you may have access to information about a voter in a database in your smartphone.

What do they like about living in this neighborhood/area?

You can relate to the season or weather?

What are your favorite shows, movies, plays?

What are your interests or hobbies: art, travel, collections?

What types of food, restaurants, and cooking do they like?

What are their professional interests and responsibilities?

Who are their favorite sports teams?

What is special about living here?

Ways to reach people:

  • More than 4 in 5 adults in the U.S. constantly check their email, texts, and social media accounts.
  • Email marketing – email is four times more effective than both paid search and social media; 30% of all email subscribers now use Gmail, almost double from 2014. Use unconventional holidays like National Dog Day or Coffee Day to make an impression. People open these mailings more often.
  • Facebook and Twitter accept email lists allowing senders to target specific users based on their interest in issues and affinities. 55% of Americans say Facebook is their primary source of news.
  • Facebook–most used by 43% of millennials; a higher proportion of millennial women than men use Facebook. The younger someone is the less likely they use Facebook daily.
  • If you are not reaching people on their smartphones, you are not reaching your potential voters.
  • Instagram (26%) – used by 35% of millennial women and 28% of men. The younger someone is, the more likely they are to use Instagram daily.
    • Localize your content
  • Messaging voters with apps such as Flock, Glip, Hipchat, LinkedIn Messenger, Microsoft Teams, Ryver, Slack, Workplace by Facebook, WhatsApp
  • Personal Information that Enables Us to Contact Voters
  • Pinterest (26%), Twitter (21%), and LinkedIn (25%) get smaller shares
  • Snapchat – used by 25% of millennials; younger use it more than older millennials. Instagram use is on the rise while Snapchat use is declining.
  • YouTube – 35% use YouTube every day, but older voters use YouTube less (20%)
  • YouTube offers intimacy, and the ability to communicate with their audience as if they were friends.
  • Be aware of the potential of social media, such as Twitter, for reputation bashing

What Media Do People Trust?

  • Recommendations from people they know (92%)
  • Consumer opinions posted online (70%)
  • Editorial content, such as newspaper articles (58%)
  • Branded websites (58%)
  • Email signed up for (50%)
  • Ads in magazines (47%)
  • Ads in newspapers (46%)
  • Ads on radio (42%) TV programs product placements (40%)
  • Display ads on mobile phones (33%), text ads, (29%). Keep in mind 4 out of 5 people have smartphones, particularly younger voters. However, 4 out of 5 people ignore online ads.

Where do voters get news? Television? Newspapers? Friends?

  • 45 percent of Americans turn to Facebook for news; half of those getting their news from Facebook only got their news from Facebook.
  • 26 percent said they received their news from two social networks; 20 percent said they got news from three or more social networks, up from 15% in 2013 and18 percent in 2016.
  • Audience overlap is most common between Facebook and YouTube.
  • Twitter is also frequently used for news, as is Instagram by younger voters. Terms used are Tweet: A tweet is a post that appears on the social network known as Twitter. Tweets may contain links, photos, and videos. When used as a verb, to tweet is the act of sending a tweet. Your home timeline is a real-time display of tweets from the accounts you follow.
  • With Twitter Assistant, you’ll see the best times to Tweet and what content your audience likes the most. Get set up today and start receiving personalized advice for how to Tweet better.

Who Likes Snail Mail?

  • The Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1943) are the most likely to trust direct mail with more than four out of five (83%) people in that age group saying they trust what they rein the mail.
  • Millennials prefer to receive email over snail mail.
  • But there is evidence millennials trust printed information over digital information.
  • Political campaigns need to use multiple ways of reaching voters.

Closing Tips

Moderate Democrats who lost or almost lost did not campaign hard enough. If you are not door-knocking, if you are not on the internet, if your main points of reliance are TV and mail, then you are not running a campaign on all cylinders.

Democrats often talk down to people, rather than just talk to people. If you think people are not smart enough or educated enough to just understand what is good for them, you are probably talking down to people. This is alienating. Remember it is better to go on offense and be defensive

There was a lot of talk of supply chain problems leading to people not being able to get the gifts and provisions for the holidays. Packages are moving, gifts are being delivered, shelves are not empty and Democrats need to take credit for this.

Why we need to break the filibuster rule

The filibuster is a Senate rule that requires 60 votes (a super majority) for ‘most’ legislation to get a vote in the Senate.

We say ‘most’ because numerous exceptions to the filibuster already exist. Since 1969, 161 exceptions to the filibuster’s supermajority requirement have been created. Now civil rights advocates are asking for another exception to be created so critical voting rights legislation can pass the Senate.

What is the history of the filibuster?

The filibuster is not by design, it was actually a mistake. Like the House, the Senate used to only require a simple majority — or 51 votes. Then, in 1805, the Senate was doing a clean-up of its rule book and took out the simple majority rule because they thought it was redundant — effectively it went without saying, how else would a democratic body operate?

It took decades for obstructionists to realize the unintentional gift they’d been given and start exploiting it, often to the detriment of civil rights. The longest continuous filibuster debate in Senate history was about passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act1 to end racial discrimination in public accommodations. During the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, senators used the filibuster to block other major civil rights legislation, including measures to prohibit lynching and end poll taxes.2

What happens if we don’t reform the filibuster?

We’re facing another era of anti-democratic reforms. The last presidential election had the highest turnout in U.S. history, and Republican elected officials responded with a wave of new voting restrictions — 19 states passed 33 laws restricting voting laws in 2021 alone, including restrictions aimed at making voting more difficult. In Georgia, you can now be charged with a crime for handing out water or snacks to voters waiting in line at the polls, and in Texas election officials could face criminal prosecution if they encourage voters to request mail ballots or regulate poll watchers’ conduct.3

There is a bill in the Senate that could address some of these restrictions — the For the People Act (H.R. 1). But the filibuster is standing in the way of progress that people are demanding.

More thoughts on What It Takes to Beat the Pundits and Keep Control of This Congress

At our core, this nation is a tolerant and forgiving people. Take into account how far America has come in recognizing people based on their value whether it is in music, motion pictures, sports, television personalities, doctor, and occupation after occupation. People are elected based on factors other than race, ethnic origin, or gender preference.

Americans, on the whole, agree with Supreme Court decisions that represent changing values in the nation.

 

Kevin McCarthy, the blowhard who represents my Congressional district has warned that if the Republicans get a majority in the next Congress “some liberal lawmakers will need the approval of a majority to keep those positions in the future.”

What Democrats need to do is deliver on the historic opportunity to renew our American infrastructure. Adds 2 million jobs per year over the next decade, the majority of the jobs created don’t require a college degree. The cornucopia of good things to come from passing this legislation includes the health and safety of communities, tackling the climate crisis, and creating opportunity by:

Putting pipefitters and plumbers to work replacing lead water pipes so every child and American can drink clean water. includes $55 billion to replace lead water pipes, marking the largest investment in clean drinking water in our nation’s history.

  • Safer roads and highways
  • More accessible public transit
  • Modernizing our transit systems, transforming rail, roads, bridges, public transit, and modernizing our ports and airports and freight rail.
  • Roads, bridges, and transit: includes $110 billion to revitalize America’s roads, bridges, and highways.$110 billion to rebuild 173,000 miles of roads and 45,000 bridges.
  • Manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles to grow clean energy supply chains we can export to the world.
  • Electrifying transportation by building out the first-ever national network of charging stations so families can travel coast-to-coast in electric vehicles.
  • Making high-speed internet affordable and available for every household in America. Stronger access to high-quality, high-speed internet. $65 billion to expand broadband internet access, particularly in rural areas.
  • Constructing, operating, and managing indoor hydroponic farms, helping to feed America, being able to grow food closer to population centers.
  •  Replacing synthetic nitrogen that farmers have been using with microbial technology that supplies the daily nitrogen plants need.
  • $50 billion to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks.
  • Lowering drug pricea. s A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 83 percent of the public supports allowing the government to lower drug prices.

 America’s major health problems are the pandemic and its mutants that are overcrowding hospitals and many states and causing other health care, including heart disease and surgery to be postponed. ICU beds are in short supply. Rural health care is suffering from the closing of at least 176 rural hospitals have closed since 2005 because it is not profitable for hospitals to operate in low-population areas.

Democrats need to do a better of messaging in order to tell the American public how it will benefit from the infrastructure bills and pave the way for a new American century

 

 

 

 

 

The Media Can Do a Better Job of Informing the American People

Is the national news media, everyone from CNN to Fox, laying the groundwork for the Republicans taking back the Congress and White House? Not just by observing that off-year elections favor the party out of power, but by covering disgraced President Trump’s view on every issue that gets people’s attention.

I don’t think most news people like Trump. They are appalled as we with his dissembling and selfish behavior. I think they are intimated by their corporate owners to be overly “fair.” Former President Obama was not quoted seven days a week on the networks. Yes, MSNBC and CNN do run videos produced by the Lincoln Project critical of Trump, but well-produced but subtle critiques don’t touch on the bread-and-butter issues people relate to.

What people relate to is what bothers them in their daily lives – the high cost of gasoline and rising inflation. People are tolerant of gays and Black Lives Matter movements but are bothered by what they perceive as extreme actions like removing statues of Thomas Jefferson  Thomas JeffersonGeorge WashingtonUlysses S. Grant, and Francis Scott Key. It’s one thing to remove, relocate, or rename statues of Confederate generals, but it’s another to suggest children should choose their sexual preferences in grade school or that public safety needs to be compromised by defunding the police.

The right tried to capitalize on Rittenhouse’s acquittal, but he is not going along with it. He says he supports “Black Lives Matter” and is no longer represented by the lawyers who raised money for his bail from right-wing donors. His attitude reflects the fundamental decency most Americans have.

The news media needs to let Democrats declare their opposition to extreme policies and actions while declaring in positive their values in positive terms. Republicans, like Josh Hawley, are allowed to occupy core values.

When the networks question Republican congressmen and Senators, they let them get away with criticizing Biden and his policies without asking them basic questions like “Would people in your district or state not benefit from roads, bridges, lead-free water pipes, airport and seaport improvements, childcare” or “improved bridges?” For decades these were matters of bipartisan agreement because they are the backbone of the American economy. Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.) released audio of a voicemail threatening his life as well as his family and staff this week for having voted for the infrastructure bill.

How often do we watch news programs where interviewers don’t ask crucial questions? That brings out the critical importance of investing in infrastructure. The Build Back better bill pays for items needed for the economy to recover from the pandemic like childcare, eldercare, and paid family leaves.

A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year, according to the American Library Association. Conservative activists in several states have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.  Such actions show no regard for freedom of choice.

It takes time to change a culture and most Americans want to be tolerant.

Artificial Intelligence and Our Future Good and Bad

Society began to shift from being primarily about farming to about working with technology in the late 1700s to the early 1800s. Fewer people worked in the fields and people began working in factories. Large-scale production of the automobile started in the early 1900s. Henry Ford made cars affordable for the working class.

When new technologies are first introduced, they often start out being dismissed as a “toys or gadgets.” The first telephones could only carry voices a mile or two in 1876. The leading telco of the time, Western Union, passed on acquiring the phone, speculating they would not be useful, only gadgets.

Generally, new technology is adopted in phases over the span of years, led by early adopters who try new apps and services as depicted by Everett Rogers’ bell curve. This process has been speeded up by lockdowns and other restrictions that have changed the ways of doing things. Businesses are adapting to the new reality on a daily basis, and consumers are far more willing to try new things like online grocery shopping, online car buying, even selling your home because the pandemic made the usual way of doing things difficult or dangerous.

Telehealth has taken hold: In 2016, about 14% of physicians surveyed by the American Medical Association said they used telemedicine tools for virtual visits. By 2019, the use of these tools was twice as prevalent, with 28% of physicians saying the same. Telehealth visits have exploded as they’ve gone from being seen as an experiment to an immediate necessity.

Artificial intelligence is hurtling us toward a true watershed moment as when humans harnessed the power of the atom. acquiring the capacity to destroy the entire planet and provide electricity used to support activities ranging from food preservation to healthcare. Now, artificial intelligence, technology is hurtling us toward a new watershed.

Automation is currently displacing millions of workers. How many jobs have been made obsolete? Tollbooth operators, customer service representatives, bookkeeping, data entry, receptionists, proofreaders, retail clerks to name some.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles have won wars and are now indispensable, putting eyes into the sky.  Some people have robot pets. Vacuum cleaners are given intelligence to make our lives easier.

AI systems are increasingly being used to monitor our use of Facebook and other social media, the Internet, our phones, and cameras are capable of facial recognition. Synthetic voices can be generated by AI, closely mirroring the intonations of the actors. Already facial recognition, and systems like China’s social credit system where AI helps track individuals and evaluates their overall trustworthiness.

In the early 1940s, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov spelled out his three laws of robotics: that robots were not to harm humans, directly or indirectly; that they must obey our commands (unless doing so violates the first law); and that they must safeguard their own existence (unless self-preservation contravenes the first two laws).

Artificial intelligence is aggravating callers with automated phone trees as well as even replacing managers. AI systems monitor workers’  efficiency and use automated emails to fire them when it decides they’re not doing their jobs well enough. Fully automated manufacturing can operate in “dark factories” doesn’t require lighting, heating, or a workforce that commutes to the site by car.

Airports are using mobile robots to spray disinfecting chemicals on their facilities — work that janitors used to do wearing personal protection equipment.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike eliminated toll collection by hand and switched to a cashless electronic system.

88% of businesses worldwide plan to adopt robotic automation. There were 12 million robotic units worldwide in 2020.  The robotics industry already employs about 150,000 people worldwide in engineering and assembly jobs.

In 2021, China has 310 000 industrial robotic installations, the highest in the world. Japan comes in second with 61 000. South Korea and the United States tie in third place with 46,000 installations. The biggest percentage growth in robot purchases is coming from the food and consumer goods sector which reflects the boom in online shopping since the pandemic began.

Artificial intelligence-powered robots are taking a major role in warfare. Azerbaijan defeated Albania in the 2020 conflict with its drone fleet, retaking possession of Nagorno-Karabakh. $165 will be spent on military robots by 2025.

Here are some of the technologies that are on the near horizon

  1.    Microneedles will enable painless injections and blood draws
  2.    Sun-powered chemistry can turn carbon dioxide into common materials
  3.   Virtual patients can revolutionize medicine
  4.   Spatial computing could be the next big thing
  5.   Digital medicine can diagnose and treat what ails you
  6.   Electric aviation may be closer than you think
  7.   Low-carbon cement can help combat climate change
  8.   Quantum sensors could let autonomous cars ‘see’ around corners
  9.   Green hydrogen might fill big gaps in renewable energy
  10.  Whole-genome synthesis will transform cell engineering

There is a dark side to these forecasts. AI systems “deepen privacy intrusions” through the increased use and misuse of personal data. Some managers are automating because fewer and fewer people want to work on the assembly line for $15 an hour, which is what he pays to start.

Will self-replicating nanorobots get to the point that they will be interested only in self-preservation and replication, not protecting humanity or following its orders. Such sentient machines would clearly tear up Asimov’s rulebook. Elon Musk, the billionaire industrialist has called AI humanity’s “biggest existential threat” and advocates a ban on future killer robots.

There Is Nothing Normal About One Million People Dead from COVID-D

Americans for the most part go along with the regimens and rules of a developed nation. We get licenses before we are legally able to drive. All but 6% pay our fair share of taxes. We obey the law, abide by homeowner restrictions, and pay our bills. Most Americans see that their children get 27 vaccinations before they are 18 years old. In spite of this, some people refuse to go along with Covid-D vaccination or safety measures.

A few have good reasons, but most of those who refuse are afflicted with an epidemic as deadly as Covid-D can be – they willfully refuse to take into account that their actions affect and may infect the people with whom they are in contact – family members, co-workers, anyone they have minimal contact within stores, restaurants, bars theatres, and concerts. Many Americans are spooked by the strange pandemic economy, and Republicans keep pounding that  Democrats’ legislative agenda is politically unpalatable, and the media pay too much attention to Republican bellyaching.

42 percent of the unvaccinated adults surveyed said that they “definitely” would not get vaccinated. Along party lines, 30 percent of Democratic men said that they would consider getting the vaccine to protect against the omicron variant, and 29 percent of Democratic women agreed. Just 4 percent of Republican men and 6 percent of Republican women responded “yes, definitely” when asked about getting vaccinated as a preventative measure against the strain.

U.S. vaccination data shows that people living in counties that voted for Trump last year are nearly three times as likely to die from the virus, a statistic that also gets worse as the vote share percentage increases.

The publication looked at the death rate in roughly 3,000 counties across the country, starting in May 2021, when vaccines became widely available to the general public. Specifically, counties that voted at rates higher than 60% for Trump had a COVID-19 death rate that was 2.7 times higher than equivalent counties that swung for Biden.

Attorney generals in 26 Republican states have to get President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 employees or more blocked. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has gone along with these states. The Fifth Circuit covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. All but seven of the 24 judges are Republicans.

This reflects the effective packing of the courts the Republicans have been able to accomplish in the past 30 years.

It’s not just the Supreme Court that is the problem. Moderate and progressive forces need to mount an effort that will result in enabling fair judges to be appointed.

Counties that went heavily for Donald Trump have seen much lower vaccination rates and much higher death rates from COVID is not surprising but Fox News does not report this to their viewers.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds 87 percent of unvaccinated adults asy the emergence of the omicron strain does not make them more likely to get the shots, compared to 12 percent who said the variant makes them more likely to get the vaccine. Almost half of the unvaccinated respondents, at 48 percent, said nothing could persuade them to get the vaccine.  6 percent said mandates and 5 percent said large monetary incentives could encourage them to get vaccinated.

Former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin said while being interviewed by Charlie Kirk at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest,  “It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot. I will not do it. I won’t do it, and they better not touch my kids, either.”  QAnon cultists are now drinking bleach compounds from a communal bowl, which immediately evokes images of Jonestown.

Another instance of obstinance is why folks who think their teenagers can be trusted with guns don’t think they can be trusted with books?

Anti-vaxxers make it sound as if requiring people to be vaccinated and masked in the company of others is a huge threat to liberty — and frequently claim that statistics suggest there is no scientific basis for mandates.

While vaccinated people can get COVID-19 and spread it, the difference in outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated is quite significant. Statistics show that the vaccinated are more resistant to catching the virus, and when they get it, their cases are milder and of shorter duration.

More importantly, perhaps, for the mandate debate, those who catch COVID-19, despite being vaccinated, have a considerably shorter period during which they “shed” the disease — that is, in which they are infectious to others — than the unvaccinated.

In addition, when infected, the unvaccinated usually have a higher viral load, which increases the risk they will transmit to others. That alone justifies both masks and requirements for vaccination.

There really are no legitimate freedom issues at stake; no one has a license to knowingly spread a potentially deadly disease to others. But the growing hue and cry from those who claim such a  “freedom” can only deepen the divisions in this society, ensuring that more people will be permanently damaged or die and that the overwhelming burdens we face will continue to mount.

One consequence of the pandemic is that American students have lost  20 years of progress in math and reading during the pandemic, national test results showed.

Math scores dropped seven points  from just before the pandemic to performance two years later, marking the first-ever decline, while reading scores slipped five points, producing the largest dip in 30 years on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, often called “the nation’s report card.” The students who took the tests were 9 years old and mostly in fourth grade.

Getting Health Care Became More Difficult with the Pandemic

Health care costs prevent people aged 45 to 59 (members of Generation X and boomers) to get the health care they need:

  • 49% did not go to the doctor last year when they were sick or injured.
  • 45% skipped a recommended medical test or treatment.
  • 43% did not go to a dentist when they needed treatment.
  • 40% went without a routine physical or other preventive health care.
  • 30% did not fill a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose of medicine.People aged 60 to 65 often skipped health care because the CPI-E places a greater weight on medical care than the CPI-U: The elderly spend 12.2 percent of their budget on medical care, compared to 7.0 percent for the general population. The cost of a doctor visit has increased 4.3 percent the past 12 months. More broadly, medical care services, which include doctor, dental and vision services, have risen 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, while eyeglasses and eye care have increased 1.1 percent.Historically, the cost of medical care has risen faster than the broad inflation index, but that hasn’t been true lately, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. That’s one reason the CPI-E has risen less than the CPI-U over the past 12 months. In fact, had the Social Security COLA been calculated using the CPI-E, it would have been 4.8 percent, rather than 5.9 percent.It’s hard to believe, but the price of prescription drugs has fallen 0.3 percent the past 12 months, and the price of nonprescription drugs has risen just 0.8 percent. Bear in mind, however, that inflation costs are cumulative: The high medical price increases of the past 20 years are still with us, despite the current low inflation rate in the category.

Between a third and a half of people, age 45 to 59, and a quarter of those 60+ went without needed health care in the past year due to its cost, according to a troubling new survey from the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago. 80% of the people the University of Chicago surveyed had health insurance, so just having insurance does not make you immune to health care costs.  The percentages were better for people 65+ mostly because those 65 and older have Medicare.

At least two-thirds of older Americans see health care costs as a financial burden, according to a new West Health-Gallup survey published Wednesday.

About 24 percent of Americans ages 50-64 — also known as “baby boomers” say health care costs are a major financial burden, compared to 48 percent who say the costs are a minor burden, according to the survey. About 10,000 boomers a day cross the age threshold. By 2030, all boomers — about 77 million people — will be at least 65 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

At the same time, health care costs are expected to increase. The out-of-pocket costs for older Americans averaged $6,883 in 2019, up 41 percent from 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported.

Although most older Americans are covered under Medicare, they pay more than $1,000 on average than the general population because Medicare does not cover all expenses, such as dental, vision, and hearing services. Increased demand because of the high number of older adults is also pushing up costs.

Addictions as Ways of Dealing with Stress

A sign of the stress of our times is that sales are up for the alcohol industry.25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older (29.7 percent of men in this age group and 22.2 percent of women in this age group4) reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States, with approximately 22.2 million users each month. People are using drugs early. Among 10th graders, 28.8% had used marijuana in the past year and 18.4% in the past month. 1 in 3 Americans lives in a state where adults can legally buy cannabis.

Unhealthy foods are advertised constantly in all media. “Unhealthy food” is sweet, salty, meaty, succulent, “umami”, or a combination of the above. All of those can be considered “unhealthy, ” particularly if eaten to excess.  Junk food is usually cheap, tasty, and filling. But is associated with a variety of issues, like diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. Is it any surprise that gas stations are paired with convenience marts? These make junk food available, convenient to obtain.

Pornography and hypersexualized images are readily available on the web. There is some evidence this may lead to online porn addiction and young adults becoming addicted to masturbation and sex. Clinical reports suggest that terminating Internet pornography use is sometimes sufficient to reverse its negative effects.

COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life. There are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges – including disruption of other forms of urgent care – auto accidents, heart attack, strokes—illnesses, and reasons to get immediate medical attention.