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Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Gaza Strip mourns its dead after protest is met with bullets | World news | The Guardian




"The Gaza Strip is reeling from the bloodiest episode in years after Israeli forces killed more than a dozen people during demonstrations near the frontier. Gazans had gathered as part of a “Great March of Return” protest demanding refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their ancestral homes in Israel.



It was the start of a six-week sit-in, and was advertised as a peaceful protest, expected to continue until 15 May when Palestinians commemorate the roughly 700,000 people who either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. As Israeli snipers opened fire, it quickly turned into bloody chaos..."



On Saturday, as the coffins made their slow sad progress, mourners thronged the narrow thoroughfares, demanding “revenge”.



The Gaza Strip mourns its dead after protest is met with bullets | World news | The Guardian

New video released of Alton Sterling shooting - under the color of law with no consequences to the perpetrators. This is why I have not said the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sung the "National Anthem" since the 8th grade. Only a fool has loyalty to their enemies. "It appears that my worst fears have been realized, we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed". Derrick Bell

Alton Sterling shot by officer within 90 seconds videos show - "It appears that my worst fears have been realized, we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed". Derrick Bell


Alton Sterling shot by officer within 90 seconds videos show

Census question on citizenship sparks widespread backlash The new census question on citizenship has sparked a widespread backlash, with our guest telling Joy Reid, ‘if the census is corrupted, all of American democracy is corrupted as a result.’ #ResistanceIsNotFutile


AM Joy on MSNBC

Friday, March 30, 2018

Trump’s new effort to destroy Obama’s legacy is very dangerous - The Washington Post





"President Trump knows that the rally crowds — both in the real world, and in his head — erupt in cheers whenever he boasts of reversing something Barack Obama accomplished, and now he’s about to try to roll back one of the biggest pieces of Obama’s legacy: the fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions standards for passenger vehicles.



You cannot overstate the importance of this move. But here’s the thing: Soon enough, the process will require the Trump administration to show its cards in terms of the impact of this change. And once this happens, it is likely to be a tough sell politically — provided that the administration doesn’t try to game this process and suppress good data, which, given its track record, is a plausible possibility..."



Trump’s new effort to destroy Obama’s legacy is very dangerous - The Washington Post

Source: Mueller pushed for Gates' help on collusion





"CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller's team last year made clear it wanted former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates' help, not so much against his former business partner Paul Manafort, but with its central mission: investigating the Trump campaign's contact with the Russians. New information disclosed in court filings and to CNN this week begin to show how they're getting it.



In a court filing earlier this week, the public saw the first signs of how the Mueller team plans to use information from Gates to tie Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, directly to a Russian intelligence agency. Mueller's team alleges that Gates was in contact with a close colleague of Manafort's who worked for a Russian intelligence agency -- and that Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October 2016, while he worked on the Trump campaign. Gates would have to talk about the communication with the man if prosecutors wanted, according to his plea deal...."



Source: Mueller pushed for Gates' help on collusion

Mueller reportedly eyeing Sessions as Sessions cheats on recusal



Mueller reportedly eyeing Sessions as Sessions cheats on recusal

Fired VA Secy. Shulkin: Trump called but didn't fire me




Fired VA Secy. Shulkin: Trump called but didn't fire me

The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question - The Washington Post





"Not only is the constitutionally mandated census central to apportioning political power at every level of our representative form of government, but also the data collected influences the allocation of more than $675 billionin federal funds every year, along with countless policy and investment decisions by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private enterprise.



The Supreme Court in 2016 ruled unanimously that “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” and the Constitution makes clear that the census has a clear purpose: to count all U.S. residents, regardless of background, as the basis for the apportionment of political power. The Census Bureau spent most of this decade responding to this mandate, leading painstaking research, technology development and question testing. With their belated interference, Trump and Sessions are upending this meticulous preparation.



The harm from this decision, if it’s not reversed, will be expensive and long-lasting. This cavalier action will drive down response rates and drive up costs, as the Census Bureau tries to incorporate this untested question with little time to spare, develop new communications and outreach strategies, plan for the expanded field operation and count the millions of people who will be more reluctant to participate because of the addition of this controversial question.



Even before this disastrous decision, local officials and community leaders were deeply concerned about the difficulty of achieving a robust response in some communities, given a political climate in which immigrants are demonized and families live in fear of loved ones being plucked off the streets and deported. Adding a question about citizenship status into the mix can only heighten suspicions, depress response rates and sabotage the accuracy of the 2020 count. This decision would affect everyone, with communities that are already at greater risk of being undercounted — including people of color, young children, and low-income rural and urban residents — suffering the most.



What is the benefit here? The false justification offered by Sessions and his Justice Department, and repeated in Ross’s decision memo, is that this question is critical for Voting Rights Act enforcement. That argument is a bitter lie, laced with cruel irony. Consider that this is the same Sessions who has called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive” and has shown no compunction in flouting voting rights enshrined in law..."



The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question - The Washington Post

E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient - The New York Times





E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient - The New York Times

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Opinion | Character Should Still Matter - The New York Times

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"By Charles M. Blow

March 29, 2018

In the throes of the campaign in September 2016, Mike Pence told a crowd at the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Ariz.:

“I’m old enough to remember back in the last Clinton administration where America really had a debate over whether character mattered to the presidency. We don’t need to have that debate again. We don’t need to have that debate again. Character matters to the presidency and Donald Trump will bring the highest level of integrity to the highest office in the land. You can count on it.”

Ha.

This after a lifetime of Trump boasting about his sexual conquests, after years of him going on the Howard Stern show and saying the most debauched things, and just two weeks before the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape on which Trump boasted about kissing and groping women without their permission — in other words, sexual assault.

Pence’s proclamation was a lie when he said it, and is even more of a lie now. Trump is involved in litigation over sexual encounters on three fronts, including with the porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels.

But the Daniels scandal is hardly making a dent.

As Politico reported Wednesday, “The data suggest Trump’s past behavior with women is already known among voters — and many are willing to overlook it.”

Politico continued:

“Trump’s seeming imperviousness to the scandal is stunning given the opinions Americans profess to hold on issues of character. In the most recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, 91 percent said honesty is ‘very important’ for elected officials to embody in their personal life in order to carry out their official duties. Seventy-five percent said the same about morality. On the question of extramarital affairs, 80 percent said they were morally wrong. Despite all that, when asked directly about the Daniels scandal, nearly half of voters say it doesn’t change how they view Trump.”

Conservatives have twisted themselves into knots trying to excuse Trump’s vulgarities as acceptable and somehow set them apart from the supposed productivity of the man himself, somehow cleaving the sin from the sinner.

But, in the end, this just makes a mockery of their own sense of morality. This, of all issues, simply isn’t complicated.

He is a serial philanderer who treats women as disposable conquests. He is a man who cheats on his wives with mistresses and then cheats on those mistresses. He is a man who, multiple women have alleged, also sexually assaults women. And he is a man who lies about it all.

Somehow, some folks, mostly conservative ones, have found a way to look away.

They see judges, tax cuts, nationalism, a boatload of phobias and permission to be hostile to people whose lifestyles or very existence unnerve them. They count that as more value than the devaluation of American integrity that Trump represents.

But Trump’s behavior is neither normal nor right.

These scandals aren’t really about sex. Some of the women, like Daniels, say their sex with Trump was consensual. No, this is about cheating, lying and general boorishness.

According to some of Trump’s other accusers, this is also about assault.

Those issues can’t simply be brushed away. They matter. It is important that we get to the bottom of what happened here. It is not at all about prurience or puritanical sensibilities. It is about a civil duty to examine the character of the commander and to move for removal if that character is found wanting.

As John Adams wrote in 1765:

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right, to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys and trustees.”

The “cause, interest and trust” of this country is being “insidiously betrayed” and “wantonly trifled away” by Trump. Those of us with the courage to say so must do just that.

Courage should still matter in America. We must insist upon it.

Opinion | Character Should Still Matter - The New York Times

"By Charles M. Blow
March 29, 2018In the throes of the campaign in September 2016, Mike Pence told a crowd at the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Ariz.:
“I’m old enough to remember back in the last Clinton administration where America really had a debate over whether character mattered to the presidency. We don’t need to have that debate again. We don’t need to have that debate again. Character matters to the presidency and Donald Trump will bring the highest level of integrity to the highest office in the land. You can count on it.”
Ha.
This after a lifetime of Trump boasting about his sexual conquests, after years of him going on the Howard Stern show and saying the most debauched things, and just two weeks before the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape on which Trump boasted about kissing and groping women without their permission — in other words, sexual assault.
Pence’s proclamation was a lie when he said it, and is even more of a lie now. Trump is involved in litigation over sexual encounters on three fronts, including with the porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels.
But the Daniels scandal is hardly making a dent.
As Politico reported Wednesday, “The data suggest Trump’s past behavior with women is already known among voters — and many are willing to overlook it.”
Politico continued:
“Trump’s seeming imperviousness to the scandal is stunning given the opinions Americans profess to hold on issues of character. In the most recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, 91 percent said honesty is ‘very important’ for elected officials to embody in their personal life in order to carry out their official duties. Seventy-five percent said the same about morality. On the question of extramarital affairs, 80 percent said they were morally wrong. Despite all that, when asked directly about the Daniels scandal, nearly half of voters say it doesn’t change how they view Trump.”
Conservatives have twisted themselves into knots trying to excuse Trump’s vulgarities as acceptable and somehow set them apart from the supposed productivity of the man himself, somehow cleaving the sin from the sinner.
But, in the end, this just makes a mockery of their own sense of morality. This, of all issues, simply isn’t complicated.
He is a serial philanderer who treats women as disposable conquests. He is a man who cheats on his wives with mistresses and then cheats on those mistresses. He is a man who, multiple women have alleged, also sexually assaults women. And he is a man who lies about it all.
Somehow, some folks, mostly conservative ones, have found a way to look away.
They see judges, tax cuts, nationalism, a boatload of phobias and permission to be hostile to people whose lifestyles or very existence unnerve them. They count that as more value than the devaluation of American integrity that Trump represents.
But Trump’s behavior is neither normal nor right.
These scandals aren’t really about sex. Some of the women, like Daniels, say their sex with Trump was consensual. No, this is about cheating, lying and general boorishness.
According to some of Trump’s other accusers, this is also about assault.
Those issues can’t simply be brushed away. They matter. It is important that we get to the bottom of what happened here. It is not at all about prurience or puritanical sensibilities. It is about a civil duty to examine the character of the commander and to move for removal if that character is found wanting.
As John Adams wrote in 1765:
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right, to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents and trustees for the people; and if the cause, the interest and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute abler and better agents, attorneys and trustees.”
The “cause, interest and trust” of this country is being “insidiously betrayed” and “wantonly trifled away” by Trump. Those of us with the courage to say so must do just that.
Courage should still matter in America. We must insist upon it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump’s pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.



The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.



The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.



Mr. Dowd’s conversation with Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, occurred sometime after Mr. Dowd took over last summer as the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Mr. Flynn on a range of potential crimes. Mr. Flynn, who served as Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, agreed in late November to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and received favorable sentencing terms.



Mr. Dowd has said privately that he did not know why Mr. Flynn had accepted a plea, according to one of the people. He said he had told Mr. Kelner that the president had long believed that the case against Mr. Flynn was flimsy and was prepared to pardon him, the person said.



The pardon discussion with Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Reginald J. Brown, came before his client was indicted in October on charges of money laundering and other financial crimes. Mr. Manafort, the former chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, has pleaded not guilty and has told others he is not interested in a pardon because he believes he has done nothing wrong and the government overstepped its authority. Mr. Brown is no longer his lawyer.



It is unclear whether Mr. Dowd discussed the pardons with Mr. Trump before bringing them up with the other lawyers.



Mr. Dowd, who was hired last year to defend the president during the Mueller inquiry, took the lead in dealing directly with Mr. Flynn’s and Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, according to two people familiar with how the legal team operated.



He denied on Wednesday that he discussed pardons with lawyers for the president’s former advisers.



“There were no discussions. Period,” Mr. Dowd said. “As far as I know, no discussions.”



Contacted repeatedly over several weeks, the president’s lawyers representing him in the special counsel’s investigation maintained that they knew of no discussions of possible pardons.



“Never during the course of my representation of the president have I had any discussions of pardons of any individual involved in this inquiry,” Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said on Wednesday.



Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer dealing with the investigation, added, “I have only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House.”



Mr. Kelner and Mr. Brown declined to comment.



During interviews with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in recent months, current and former administration officials have recounted conversations they had with the president about potential pardons for former aides under investigation by the special counsel, according to two people briefed on the interviews.



In one meeting with lawyers from the White House Counsel’s Office last year, Mr. Trump asked about the extent of his pardon power, according to a person briefed on the conversation. The lawyers explained that the president’s powers were broad, the person said. And in other meetings with senior advisers, the president raised the prospect of pardoning Mr. Flynn, according to two people present.



Legal experts are divided about whether a pardon offer, even if given in exchange for continued loyalty, can be considered obstruction of justice. Presidents have constitutional authority to pardon people who face or were convicted of federal charges.



But even if a pardon were ultimately aimed at hindering an investigation, it might still pass legal muster, said Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and a professor at Harvard Law School.



“There are few powers in the Constitution as absolute as the pardon power — it is exclusively the president’s and cannot be burdened by the courts or the legislature,” he said. “It would be very difficult to look at the president’s motives in issuing a pardon to make an obstruction case.”



The remedy for such interference would more likely be found in elections or impeachment than in prosecuting the president, Mr. Goldsmith added.



But pardon power is not unlimited, said Samuel W. Buell, a professor of law at Duke University..."



Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort - The New York Times

Kim Jong-un’s China Visit Strengthens His Hand in Nuclear Talks - The New York Times

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Kim Jong-un’s China Visit Strengthens His Hand in Nuclear Talks - The New York Times: ""

The Left’s Embrace of Empire - The history of the left in the United States is a history of betrayal. | The Nation

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"Bret Stephens, arguably the most hawkish voice at The Wall Street Journal throughout the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies, now occupies an even more prominent perch at The New York Times. Bari Weiss, also formerly of the Journal, has also moved to the Times, despite a history of smearing Muslim and Arab professors. And Max Boot, yet another Journal veteran, has been rewarded with columnist status at The Washington Post for his intrepid defense of America’s wars. A similar pattern can be discerned across network television and public radio, where proponents of American hegemony—ranging from former Bush speechwriter David Frum to founder of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol to editor in chief of The Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg to former US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and a daunting litany of national-security-state officials—are presented as wise sages.
Since Trump was elected, both parties have backed massive increases to the military budget; the extension of Bush-era surveillance powers; sanctions on RussiaNorth Korea, and IranUS strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria; and provocations on Russia’s periphery, specifically in Ukraine, where weapons and other forms of military assistance continue to flow to a coalition government riddled with fascist sympathizers. Some of these policies, like sanctions on Russia and North Korea, are debatable. But debate has been absent, even in most marquee left outlets. The presumptions of empire are conceded at the outset. Either by unashamed affirmation or complicit silence, the mainstream American left has endorsed the latest restoration of the empire and the accompanying resurgence of militarism.  
Unfortunately, none of this is an aberration. The history of the left in the United States is in large part a history of betrayal: of the repeated embrace of imperial ventures for the sake of shortsighted aims, always coming back to haunt the left and the empire’s victims. It is a history blighted by the self-serving conceit that the domestic and the foreign, or what was once the interior and the frontier, can be understood apart from each other. And until very recently, it was a history forged by white elites too sheltered from the racial consequences of their choices to anticipate the havoc they would unleash.   By Lyle Jeremy Rubin
The Left’s Embrace of Empire | The Nation

Evangelicals insist Trump 'has changed' since alleged porn star affair. Hypocrisy is inherent in their legalistic belief system. Their Christian revisionist theology based on the centrality of faith as opposed to Jesus's teachings of good works was condemned according to the Gospels. His highest condemnation was for the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Evangelicals theology is based upon the same legalistic belief system that led Jesus to call them hypocrites and vipers.

 

Evangelicals insist Trump 'has changed' since alleged porn star affair: ""

Why Conservative Evangelicals Like Trump - The Atlantic


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"At the end of The Evangelicals, her nearly 700-page history of white evangelical Americans from colonial times to the present, Frances FitzGerald settles on the last of these assessments. “The simplest explanation was that those evangelicals who voted for Trump had affinities with the Tea Party,” she writes. They seemed to care more about shrinking the government, creating jobs, and deporting illegal immigrants than about enforcing Christian morals. “The Trump victory had shown,” she goes on, “that the Christian right had lost its power.” Yet FitzGerald’s careful account offers grist for a much richer exploration of evangelicals’ affinity with Trump..

Fitzgerald begins with the great revivals of the early 18th century, which brought forth evangelicalism as we know it today, more or less. The emphasis on the literal truth of the Bible, the focus on the born-again experience, and the swarm of entrepreneurial evangelists whom no Old World church hierarchy could control—the basics of evangelical culture were in place 300 years ago.

She follows this story through the rise of the Christian right in the 1970s and ’80s, and evangelicals’ role in politics today. Synthesizing a wide range of scholarship, FitzGerald offers no major argument of her own, but she reveals long-standing patterns in evangelical politics and leadership. Her overview, in tandem with an array of more pointed books on the subject, suggests that evangelical support for Trump is not a deviation at all—not a sign of hypocrisy or declining influence. On the contrary, that 81 percent figure makes perfect sense.

Late in her book, as FitzGerald recounts evangelical activists’ embrace of the Tea Party movement during the Obama years, she deems the alliance “unlikely,” at least “from a historical perspective.” In fact, the partnership between white Protestants and libertarians dates back at least to the American Revolution. In the 18th century, evangelical Christians had plenty of company among their fellow colonists in decrying the king’s abuse of power. But evangelical preachers fused their commitment to freedom from “civil tyranny” with a demand for the spiritual freedom to decide, without political coercion, to accept Christ. “There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost and religious liberty preserved entire,” preached John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister with evangelical sympathies who signed the Declaration of Independence. “If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.”

Evangelicals in the early republic nurtured a deep suspicion of an encroaching federal government, and many were happy to collaborate with heterodox politicians who felt the same way. Thomas Jefferson may have taken a razor to his personal copy of the Gospels, excising the tales of miracles, but he had friends among the Baptists, who supported his campaign to enshrine religious freedom into law. Trump is not the first politically useful infidel to find allies in the evangelical world.

The point is that American evangelical religion was born in a revolutionary state. This founding moment of rebellion against big government left evangelicals keenly aware of the fragility of personal liberty—and the capacity of centralized power to snuff it out. Over time, the conservative evangelical vision of spiritual liberty fused with free-market ideology. Recent research has called attention to the collaborative efforts of capitalists and evangelical ministers to convince Americans that the free market is sacred. In the late 19th century, Darren E. Grem notes in The Blessings of Business (2016), businessmen recruited evangelical organizations to help them pacify a restive labor force. “Either these people are to be evangelized, or the leaven of communism and infidelity will assume such enormous proportions that it will break out in a reign of terror such as this country has never known,” warned the evangelist Dwight L. Moody in 1886.

The labor unrest of the turn of the 20th century, the Great Depression, and the New Deal hardly appear in FitzGerald’s book, but those decades of economic disaster and reform are crucial to explaining conservative white evangelical politics through the rest of the century, as well as the embrace of Trump. By the time the Roosevelt administration began to transform the federal government’s relationship to American capitalism, millions of Catholic, Jewish, and Eastern European immigrants had settled in the United States. Large numbers of African Americans began migrating north and agitating for civil rights. Many white evangelicals feared they were losing control over the nation’s culture. By redistributing wealth to the poor—including so many foreign-born arrivals and African Americans—the New Deal threatened to undermine that authority even further. Opposition to Soviet Russia provided a perfect rallying cry: The country represented the godless, totalitarian end toward which the New Deal might lead.

In One Nation Under God (2015), Kevin M. Kruse probes the alliance between leading industrialists and the Los Angeles preacher James W. Fifield Jr. In 1935, Fifield co-founded an organization called Spiritual Mobilization to battle the New Deal’s “encroachment upon our American freedoms.” His propaganda campaign, funded by donations from tycoons like the tire magnate Harvey Firestone and J. Howard Pew Jr. of Sun Oil, dazzled Americans with radio spots and Independence Day media blitzes celebrating “freedom under God.” Mailings encouraged ministers to warn their flocks of the “anti-Christian and anti-American trends toward pagan stateism in America.”

Fifield and his allies did not succeed in dismantling the New Deal. But by the 1950s, Billy Graham was rallying huge crowds with his dark predictions about the communist menace, an ideology “masterminded by Satan,” he said in 1957. “Graham sometimes invoked Communism as part of an end times prophecy,” FitzGerald writes, “and at other times as part of a jeremiad in which Americans had a choice to make.” In blending their movement’s libertarian inclinations with anticommunist hysteria and anxieties about cultural change, these evangelical leaders helped catalyze the most powerful ideology in modern American politics: Christian free-market mania. Evangelicals in other countries, such as Canada, worked alongside secular Social Democrats to build a generous social safety net. In the United States, conservative white Protestants ensured that the welfare state remained anemic.

At the same time, conservative white evangelicals have a long record of being highly pragmatic, rather than purist, in their libertarianism. Throughout American history, they have been more than happy to use the tools of the federal government to protect their own authority and advance a moral agenda—as they did, for example, during the campaign for Prohibition. This selective libertarianism continues to thrive. Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” resonate with deeply rooted suspicion of big government, but conservative evangelicals applaud his more intrusive proposals as well. Today, many on the religious right find themselves on the losing side of global capitalism, and they don’t want anyone messing with their Social Security or Medicare.

Trump’s threats to curb free trade and punish journalists may make real libertarians apoplectic. And his initial executive order restricting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries outraged some prominent evangelical organizations and leaders who lamented the order’s unbiblical abandonment of refugees. But other influential evangelicals, such as Billy Graham’s son Franklin, support Trump’s policy. The president’s isolationist approach plays well among Americans who believe that the time has come to restore the capitalist order as God intended it to be: with native-born white Americans on top.

In any case, ideology is not the sole bond between conservative evangelicals and Donald Trump. His dictator-lite charisma is essential to his appeal. To the majority of Americans—those who did not vote for him—Trump has all the allure of the boorish boss who takes too many liberties at the staff Christmas party. But his authoritarian machismo is right in step with a long evangelical tradition of pastor-overlords who anoint themselves with the power to make their own rules—and, in the event of their own occasional moral lapses, assure their followers that God always forgives.

Other forms of Christianity, like Roman Catholicism and many strains of liberal Protestantism, feature formidable Church structures: diocesan councils and synods, hierarchies and protocols that help keep rogues and would-be autocrats in line. In the evangelical world, these institutions are generally much less powerful—or nonexistent. FitzGerald chronicles the imperial ambitions of ministers like the Midwestern fundamentalist William Bell Riley and Jerry Falwell, a prime mover behind the Moral Majority. “Those who had built up their own churches or Bible schools,” she writes,“were rulers of their own fiefdoms.”

Down through the decades, more than a few of these figures, FitzGerald observes, have squelched dissent or scandal with little concern for the opinion of denominational bureaucrats. In a tradition that has always prized “soul liberty” and spiritual autonomy, American evangelicals have sometimes shown a strong preference for leaders who demand unquestioning obedience—and who, like Trump, consider disagreement a form of disloyalty.

Nowhere is this tendency more obvious than in the evangelical subculture that nurtured Donald Trump himself: the prosperity gospel. When Trump was a child, his family attended Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, pastored by Norman Vincent Peale, a celebrity minister whose influence radiated throughout evangelical circles and beyond. He was one of the most famous proponents of a spiritual style sometimes called the “Health and Wealth” gospel or “Name It and Claim It” faith.

Praying for a new car or a promotion may sound “shockingly materialistic,” FitzGerald writes. But for believers, prosperity theology means that the material world has “a miraculous, God-filled quality.” Its basic tenets appear throughout the Bible—the notion that God answers prayers, rewards believers with worldly blessings, and punishes those who don’t keep the faith. And then, like most heresies, it pushes such orthodox teaching to an extreme. Imagine that your desired reality is true, Peale urged believers. His handy slogan: “Prayerize, picturize, actualize.” Peale, the dean of “the power of positive thinking,” would have understood Trump’s penchant for inventing his preferred reality.

God never goes back on his word. According to many prosperity-gospel preachers, if you don’t get that new job you prayed for, then you didn’t pray sincerely enough, live righteously enough—or give generously enough to your church. The Florida mega-church pastor Paula White, who is frequently called the president’s “spiritual adviser” (and, like him, is on her third marriage), encourages her followers to donate generously to her ministry, and to expect financial returns. “When you give the ‘firstfruits of your increase,’ as the Word says, your ‘barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will OVERFLOW,’ ” her website promises.

Trump perfected his own brand of prosperity ministry in the ad campaigns for the now-defunct Trump University. “I’ll show you how to turn this sizzling opportunity into a tidal wave of profits,” one 2007 newspaper advertisement read. The candidate who specialized in ludicrous promises has continued that magical thinking now that he’s in office, as he vows to create “25 million new jobs” and insists that he can replace Obamacare with “a much better health-care plan at much less money.”

Throughout the 2016 campaign, historians suggested a range of analogies to explain Trump’s growing popularity. Did his momentum resemble the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany? Do his despotic tendencies and sensitive ego remind us of Napoleon? Maybe Henry VIII? Distant echoes are always tantalizing. The truth is that Trump’s victory—especially his popularity among conservative white evangelicals—has sources closer to home. His ascendancy was certainly galvanized by a 21st-century whirl of social media and global economic discontent. But in the end, Trump won over evangelicals—and won the election—because he exploited beliefs and fears with origins deep in America’s past."

Why Conservative Evangelicals Like Trump - The Atlantic

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question - The New York Times - The Trump Administration is blatantly violating Article Section 2 of the Constitution.

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"WASHINGTON — At least 12 states signaled Tuesday that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution.

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington said they would join the effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night.

“The census is supposed to count everyone,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities.”

The Constitution requires that every resident of the United States be counted in a decennial census, whether or not they are citizens. The results are used not just to redraw political boundaries from school boards to House seats, but to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies to where they are needed most. Census data provide the baseline for planning decisions made by corporations and governments alike."

The Trump Administration is blatantly violating Article Section 2 of the Constitution. The Constitution is not a sacred document. As you can see by the following quotation the Constitution is an inherently racist document but the what Trump is doing is illegal. The 14th Amendment vitiated the racist portions of this document but it still speaks volumes about the founding fathers and this nation."Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question - The New York Times

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

"Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

[For more on the gun legislation debate and other issues, subscribe to our Opinion Today newsletter.]

For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.

That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.

That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence."


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/opinion/john-paul-stevens-repeal-second-amendment.html

The History and Purpose of The U.S Constitution's Second Amendment

The Constitution of the United States was adopted as an agreement between thirteen sovereign States to form a federal government. It was not an agreement between individuals citizens and the newly formed federal government. This is a key jurisprudential point that most Americans miss when discussing the 2nd Amendment. The Amendment is almost always misinterpreted as a result of this misinterpretation. The 2nd Amendment reads; " "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.". The first ten amendments to the Constitution were adopted on 12/15/1791, after being passed by Congress and ratified by a two-thirds majority of the States. Five months later the same Congress passed "The Militia Act of 1792". "That whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act, [words requiring notification by an associate justice or district judge were omitted in 1795 revision. The revision gave the President more authority] the same being notified to the President of the United States, by an associate justice or the district judge, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia of such state to suppress such combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. And if the militia of a state, where such combinations may happen, shall refuse, or be insufficient to suppress the same, it shall be lawful for the President, if the legislature of the United States be not in session, to call forth and employ such numbers of the militia of any other state or states most convenient thereto, as may be necessary, and the use of militia, so to be called forth, may be continued, if necessary, until the expiration of thirty days after the commencement of the ensuing session...." The purpose of this Act and the Second Amendment was to give the President the ability to call up State Militias to suppress invasions and rebellions; (Shay's Rebellion, various slave, and various first nations people rebellions.). The Act goes on to create an individual mandate requiring State Militias to conscript citizens and require them to purchase rifles and accouterments. "I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition, and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes." Clearly neither the Congress which passed both the 2nd Amendment or the Militia Act of 1792 intended to create an individual right to bear arms. The Supreme Court specifically affirmed this view in 1939. "In 1939 the U.S. Supreme Court considered the matter in United States v. Miller. 307 U.S. 174. The Court adopted a collective rights approach in this case, determining that Congress could regulate a sawed-off shotgun that had moved in interstate commerce under the National Firearms Act of 1934 because the evidence did not suggest that the shotgun "has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia . . . ." The Court then explained that the Framers included the Second Amendment to ensure the effectiveness of the military. This did not change until 2008 when the radical right-wing Supreme Court led by Scalia reversed over 200 years of American jurisprudence. "This precedent stood for nearly 70 years when in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court revisited the issue in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290). The plaintiff in Heller challenged the constitutionality of the Washington D.C. handgun ban, a statute that had stood for 32 years. Many considered the statute the most stringent in the nation. In a 5-4 decision, the Court, meticulously detailing the history and tradition of the Second Amendment at the time of the Constitutional Convention, proclaimed that the Second Amendment established an individual right for U.S. citizens to possess firearms and struck down the D.C. handgun ban as violative of that right. The majority carved out Miller as an exception to the general rule that Americans may possess firearms, claiming that law-abiding citizens cannot use sawed-off shotguns for any law-abiding purpose. Similarly, the Court in its dicta found regulations of similar weaponry that cannot be used for law-abiding purposes as laws that would not implicate the Second Amendment. Further, the Court suggested that the United States Constitution would not disallow regulations prohibiting criminals and the mentally ill from firearm possession. Thus, the Supreme Court has revitalized the Second Amendment. The Court continued to strengthen the Second Amendment through the 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago (08-1521). The plaintiff in McDonald challenged the constitutionally of the Chicago handgun ban, which prohibited handgun possession by almost all private citizens. In a 5-4 decisions, the Court, citing the intentions of the framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment, held that the Second Amendment applies to the states through the incorporation doctrine. However, the Court did not have a majority on which clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the fundamental right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. While Justice Alito and his supporters looked to the Due Process Clause, Justice Thomas in his concurrence stated that the Privileges and Immunities Clause should justify incorporation." https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment

So Much News, So Little Time: Trump Edition | The Daily Show

Monday, March 26, 2018

Stormy Daniels Attorney Michael Avenatti : 'We're Only Getting Started' ...

Dan Webb and Tom Buchanan Latest Lawyers to Decline to Join Trump’s Legal Team

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Dan Webb and Tom Buchanan Latest Lawyers to Decline to Join Trump’s Legal Team

Stormy Daniels’ Legal Strategy Strongly Suggests She Has Photos of Donald Trump

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Stormy Daniels’ Legal Strategy Strongly Suggests She Has Photos of Donald Trump: ""

Inside the collapse of a bipartisan Obamacare deal - POLITICO

 

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Everybody on Capitol Hill agreed: If anyone could break the deep-rooted partisan logjam over Obamacare in Congress, it was that deal-making duo Patty and Lamar.

But in the end, it was Obamacare that broke their alliance.

Just seven months after Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) heralded the beginning of a new bipartisan era on health care following the collapse of Obamacare repeal efforts, their lofty ambitions ended in much the same way as every Obamacare-related negotiation over the last eight years — with claims of betrayal, warnings of political fallout and no progress toward bridging the deep divide over the nation’s health care system. When Congress put its finishing touches on a $1.3 trillion spending bill late last week, there was one glaring omission: a proposal to head off huge premium spikes just before the November midterm elections.

“I’m no magician,” Alexander said in a fiery floor speech Thursday, after Murray blocked a final effort to include a last-ditch partisan proposal in the spending package. “I greatly respect the senator from Washington and enjoy working with her, but on this issue, I think we’ve reached an impasse.”
The unraveling of the senators’ health care partnership, which culminated in an increasingly bitter dispute over abortion policy, effectively ended Congress’ last best chance of shoring up Obamacare this year, while doubling as a fresh sign of just how far apart the two parties remain on health care.

Many senators thought the long history of bipartisan dealmaking between Alexander and Murray, who lead the Senate HELP Committee, would result in the first-ever bipartisan Obamacare deal eight years after it passed with only Democratic votes. They had previously rewritten the No Child Left Behind education bill and the 21st Century Cures Act speeding drug and medical device approvals — two big accomplishments in a Congress that struggles to agree on much of anything.

In truth, Murray and Alexander came closer than ever before to striking a good-faith deal aimed at stabilizing the health law — only to watch it collapse over peripheral policy disagreements and broader political calculations.

Since September, Alexander had slowly cultivated support among many Republicans for the once-implausible idea of injecting billions of dollars into already-shaky Obamacare markets after the party had backed moves that would surely weaken them, such as the elimination of the requirement to purchase health insurance. For the first time in Obamacare’s history, Republicans feared voters would blame them for premium increases.

But Republican leaders refused to include the senators’ initial Obamacare stabilization agreement in a budget deal late last year over concerns it wouldn’t clear the House, where an influential conservative bloc has staunchly opposed any legislation seen as aiding the health care law. Their second try fell apart last week in dramatic fashion after a flurry of eleventh-hour negotiations and policy clashes between Republicans, Democrats and the White House played out against the backdrop of Congress’ race to fund the government.

At the center of that was a late-emerging dilemma over abortion restrictions. Republicans insisted the deal to prop up the Obamacare marketplaces had to include prohibitions on the federal funding of abortion — dubbed “Hyde” language — which was not written into the Affordable Care Act but is in nearly every other health spending bill. The debate over abortion funding nearly derailed Obamacare before its passage in 2010.
Democrats balked at the new GOP demand, arguing it would significantly expand federal funding restrictions on abortion. Any insurance plan that covered abortion wouldn’t be able to get federal funds from Obamacare, or worse, insurers in some states wouldn’t be allowed to sell any individual market health plan that covers abortion, they warned.

Talks hit a standstill. GOP leaders insisted on the abortion restrictions if any Obamacare stabilization package were going to make it into the omnibus spending bill. And Democrats stood firm, knowing Republicans would need their votes to pass the omnibus and keep the government open.

“There was no need to re-litigate the discussion around taxpayer funding for abortion,” said a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations. “It just simply wasn’t the venue, like it or not.”

Still, Alexander, Murray and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who supports abortion rights, tried to resolve the dispute in the final days of omnibus negotiations. Days before the spending bill passed, Democrats offered language similar to what was in the Affordable Care Act, sources familiar with the negotiations said.

Obamacare already requires insurers to separate federal funds from the money paid by customers for abortion coverage, under a controversial agreement brokered in 2010 by former Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, an anti-abortion Democrat.
“Sen. Murray made it clear that she was willing to negotiate to make sure the status quo was maintained,” an aide to Murray said.
But that drew the two sides no closer, with the GOP viewing the offer as “lipstick on Stupak,” according to a Republican source familiar with negotiations. Republicans have long protested that the "Stupak" language didn't do enough to prohibit the federal funding of abortion. Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Alexander all said Republicans wouldn't vote for anything they deemed less restrictive than Hyde language.
“I think they genuinely did everything they could at the last possible second to sabotage us — to have a political issue,” said a senior Republican aide.

As it became clear that the whole stabilization plan was unlikely to make it into the omnibus, McConnell asked Democrats to include parts of it that wouldn’t wade into abortion policy. McConnell’s proposal included new flexibility for states to overhaul their insurance markets, the ability to sell health insurance across state lines and the creation of cheaper “copper” health plans, according to Democratic and Republican sources. Democrats also rejected those offers.

Facing a stalemate, Alexander and Collins secured White House support for their own stabilization package — an endorsement that hinged in large part on inclusion of the Hyde language. Collins, whose support for the GOP tax bill was contingent on passing an Obamacare stabilization package, dismissed any suggestion the Hyde language would change the status quo.

“This is nothing radical or new, and it is baffling and gravely disappointing that this should be used to block this package,” she said on the Senate floor Thursday.

Alexander and Collins, backed by several other GOP lawmakers, posted their stabilization bill March 19 — pushing their split with Democrats into public view and effectively ending the Senate’s brief detente over Obamacare.

Murray contends she didn’t know in advance that Republicans would forge ahead on their own with this Hyde language. A Republican aide maintains that Murray’s office was sent the text days in ahead of time.
The passage of the omnibus effectively ended Congress’ major legislative work for the year. Alexander’s and Murray’s camps insist the bipartisan duo will survive this bump in the road. They’ve been through contentious battles before, such as the nomination process of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

But with lawmakers already eyeing November’s midterms, the breakup guarantees that Obamacare will be at the center of yet another election cycle.

Democrats hoping to seize control of the House have hammered the Trump administration for undermining Obamacare at every turn. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, maintain that Obamacare is fundamentally flawed and that Democrats weren’t willing to compromise when Republicans tried to find a solution that would sidestep another chaotic year in the individual insurance market.

“I don’t understand it,” Alexander said of the impasse. “And I don’t see any way to make any progress on it.”
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Inside the collapse of a bipartisan Obamacare deal - POLITICO: ""

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Malcolm X : White Liberals and Conservatives

An Ohio Bill Would Ban All Abortions. It’s Part of a Bigger Plan. - The New York Times



By The Editorial Board, www.nytimes.com March 26th, 2018



"While Donald Trump once said he was “very pro-choice,” since the start of his presidential campaign his stance on abortion has been consistent: It should be banned, no matter the consequences to women. At times, he has even veered to the right of the mainstream anti-abortion movement, as when he said during a primary season town hall event that women who seek abortions should face “some form of punishment.” Most anti-abortion politicians profess to want to protect women, even when they pass laws that harm them.



Now legislators in one state want Mr. Trump’s cruel vision to become reality. Ohio lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban all abortions, period, with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest or to save a woman’s life.



Carrying to term a pregnancy against one’s will is punishment enough — in fact, it can amount to torture, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council. But the Ohio bill would not only cut off access to the procedure, it would also open the door to criminal charges against both abortion providers and women seeking the procedure. One of the Republican co-sponsors of the legislation, State Representative Ron Hood, said it would be up to prosecutors to decide whether to charge a woman or a doctor, and what those charges would be. But they could be severe. Under the bill, an “unborn human” would be considered a person under state criminal homicide statutes. Thus, a prosecutor could decide to charge a woman who ended a pregnancy with murder. In Ohio, murder is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.



How’s that for pro-life?



If this all sounds legally unsound, that’s because it is. The Ohio bill is “blatantly unconstitutional,” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, which has challenged anti-abortion laws in the state. “This isn’t a hard one.”



That’s because the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal up to the point of fetal viability, which has shifted over time due to medical advancements in treating premature babies, but now occurs at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Any ban on abortion before that time — say, at 15 weeks, as would be the case under a law that was passed and legally blocked in Mississippi last week — is generally considered unconstitutional.



This rash of radically unconstitutional bills is appearing by design. The anti-abortion movement has been trying to pass pre-viability abortion bans, like the Ohio bill, hoping that efforts to overturn them would lead to a challenge of Roe v. Wade that would end with the 45-year-old decision’s reversal in the Supreme Court.



Reproductive rights advocates say the various pieces of legislation are in keeping with the anti-abortion crowd’s newfound optimism under President Trump, who has said he wants Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe. Mr. Trump may get the chance to appoint a judge who will cast the deciding vote.



As Mr. Trump himself acknowledged during his 2016 town hall, banning abortions does not stop women from getting them — it just makes it harder for them to do so safely. If abortion were banned, “You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places,” Mr. Trump said, inarticulately but correctly noting that some women would be driven to back-alley providers.



That’s one reason abortion rights supporters are so concerned about the Ohio bill. Another is that, even if the bill doesn’t become law, it could pave the way for other, somewhat less extreme measures to pass, seeming reasonable by comparison. For instance, in 2016 John Kasich, the state’s Republican governor, vetoed a bill that would have banned abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which could have effectively outlawed the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. But the same day he signed a bill banning abortion at 20 weeks.



Bills like the Ohio total abortion ban seem outrageous, because they are. But if there’s any lesson to learn from them, it’s that the Republican anti-abortion strategy doesn’t stop with one extreme bill. If it’s up to them, they won’t stop until it’s impossible for many or all women in America to make their own choices about whether to access a safe, popular and common form of health care."





An Ohio Bill Would Ban All Abortions. It’s Part of a Bigger Plan. - The New York Times

What it's like to be black in Naperville, America - Naperville Sun - This is eerily similar to my experiences growing up in Staten Island New York in the 1960s but add racial violence and constant racial taunts.

Brian Crooks



By Brian Crooks, www.chicagotribune.comView OriginalJuly 18th, 2016



"Editor's note: Brian Crooks moved to Naperville when he was in the 5th grade; his parents still reside here. On Saturday, he wrote a Facebook post about his experiences being an African-American living in America that has since gone viral and has elicited hundreds of comments from people around the world. Because of its length, we're publishing excerpts here. To read the entire post, go here.



The first time I was acutely aware of my Blackness, I was probably 6 or 7 years old. Like, before then obviously I knew I was Black, but I hadn't really had it put in my face like this until I was about 6 or 7. I used to go to daycare back then, and we went on a field trip to a water park one time. One of the other boys from the daycare came up to me and told me he was surprised I was going on the trip because his dad told him all colored people were afraid of the water since we sink to the bottom. He didn't know he was being offensive. He was just curious why someone who would sink to the bottom would want to go to a water park.



In elementary school, I was in the gifted program. I've never been any good at math or science, but I was a really creative kid who loved history and telling stories. In third grade, the gifted program focused on the middle ages. I was in heaven. I loved learning about knights and castles and all that stuff. We had a group project to do sometime that year, where we had to give a short speech about something we'd learned during the year. All of the groups broke off to divvy up the work when my teacher came over to my group. Wouldn't it be "easier" and more fun for me if my group did our presentation as a rap? I'm eight years old. I have no history writing any kind of music, much less a full 3 or 4 minutes of rap verses for me and my teammates. But, I tried. The other kids just expected it to be natural for me. They looked at me like, "What do you mean you don't know how to rap?" We ended up just doing it as a regular presentation like everybody else, and afterward my teacher came up to me and said, "I thought you guys were going to rap? I was looking forward to MC Brian." Again, she didn't know that she was making a racially-insensitive statement. Why would she? It's not like she'd had deep conversation about how Black people feel about their Blackness, or the way Black people internalized the way White people feel about our Blackness.



From elementary school through middle school, I can't remember how many times the White kids asked if they could touch my hair. I'm not kidding when I say it happened pretty much once a week at least. At first, it didn't bother me. But eventually I felt like an exhibit in a petting zoo. And I didn't have the vocabulary to explain to them that it was really weird that they kept asking to touch my hair all the time. See, I was a pretty shy kid. I was the only Black one, I was overweight, and I'd moved three times before I turned 10. So, rather than tell the White kids that no, they couldn't rummage through my hair, I just said yes and sat there quietly while they marveled at how my hair felt.



My least favorite time of the year, every year, was February. Black History Month. Being the only Black kid in the class, I was the designated reader for the entire month. When it came time to read from our history books about slavery and the Triangle Trade Route, I was always the one who was chosen to read. When it came time to read about Jim Crow, it was my turn. George Washington Carver and the peanut? That sounds like a job for Brian. Booker T. Washington? Harriet Tubman? Surely Brian is the perfect choice for those passages. All the while, I felt the eyes of my fellow students on me. Again, I was already a shy kid. So, having an entire classroom of White kids stare at me while I explained what lynching and Black Codes were was pretty mortifying.



In 8th grade, I went to a friend's house to jump on his trampoline. I didn't know the kid all that well, but we had some mutual friends and at that age, if a kid has a trampoline, you're going to jump on that trampoline. He had a couple of neighbors who were probably 6 or 7 year old girls. We're jumping on the trampoline and the girls come out of their house and come over into his yard. Within about 5 minutes, they were laughing while saying "Get off our property, Black boy." They were little, and they were laughing, so I don't think they knew how ugly they were being. After all, they'd probably never had a Black kid in their one or two elementary school classes. But they'd clearly heard that phrase somewhere else before. I wasn't even on their property; I was next door. But it's fair to assume that at some point, someone in their house had said "Get off my property, Black boy."



In high school, I was around more Black kids. Still not a lot, but more than zero, so that was nice. When I was fifteen, I got my first "real" girlfriend. I'd asked some girls out before, and some of them said yes, but when you're 13 or 14 years old, what does "going out" even mean? So, my first "real" girlfriend was White. After all, I was living in an overwhelmingly White community and it's not like I was a heartthrob, so I was in no position to tell a girl who liked me that I was only interested in dating a Black girl. I might've never had a girlfriend if that was the line I drew. We were a good couple. We got along well and had similar interests and stuff. Basically, what you'd like to have as a high school sophomore. Her parents were divorced, but her mom and stepdad liked me. Then, her biological father found out I was Black. A week later, she called me crying and said we had to break up. Her dad didn't support her dating a Black person. So, my first heartbreak came as a direct result of racism.



When I was going through driver's ed, my behind the wheel instructor was a football coach at one of the other Naperville high schools. He asked what kind of car I wanted one time, and I told him I was gonna get my dad's Dodge Intrepid, but that I really liked my brother's Mazda. He looked at me like I was nuts and said he figured I'd want an Impala so I could put some hydraulics on it and "hit dem switchezzzzz." When we got back to my house at the end of my last behind the wheel session, he shook my hand and said it was a pleasure teaching me how to drive. Then, he said, "You're a Black kid, but you're pretty cool, you know? Like, you're not like one of THOSE Black people, you know?"



In high school, I played football. There was a kid on the football team who I'd been friends with since middle school. Not, like, best friends or anything, but we ran in similar circles and we were certainly friendly with each other. When we were 16 or 17, he started referring to me as "The Whitest Black guy." It really pissed me off. He knew it pissed me off. I guess because I used proper grammar, wore clothes that fit, and listened to metal in addition to hip hop, it made me "White." Turns out, to be "authentically Black" means being a caricature of what a Black person should be, according to this suburban White kid.



I got pulled over a lot in high school. Like, a lot a lot. By this point, I was no longer driving the Dodge. I had a Mazda of my own. It was flashy and loud, but this was 2002 and everybody with a Japanese car was doing a Vin Diesel impression, so it's not like mine stood out that much more than anyone else's. I spent a ton of money on my car and was especially aware of its appearance. You can understand, then, why it was weird that I was routinely pulled over for a busted taillight. After all, that's the kind of thing I would've noticed and gotten fixed, especially if that taillight tended to burn out once a week or so. My parents had told me how to act when pulled over by the police, so of course I was all "Yes sir, no sir" every time it happened. That didn't stop them from asking me to step out of the car so they could pat me down or search for drugs, though. I didn't have a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but by that point I was an expert at breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. On occasion, the officer was polite. But usually, they walked up with their hand on their gun and talked to me like I'd been found guilty of a grisly homicide earlier in the day. A handful of times, they'd tell me to turn off the car, drop the keys out the window, and keep my hands outside the vehicle before even approaching.



I went to the University of Iowa, which is a very White campus in a very White state. It's funny, because most of the people I met there who came from small-town Iowa were really excited to finally meet a Black person. And it wasn't like they wanted me to be a mascot; they genuinely wanted a Black friend so they could learn about Black people and stuff. It was nice. On the other hand, if I was in a bar and talking to a girl they didn't think I should be talking to, or in their drunken state they bumped into sober me, you'd be surprised to see how quickly some of these guys will call a complete stranger a nigger.



Once, when I came home from college, I was pulled over less than a block from my parents' house. It was late, probably about midnight or so, but I hadn't been drinking and it was winter so I wasn't speeding because it had snowed that day. The officer stepped out of his car with his gun drawn. He told me to drop the keys out the window, then exit the car with my hands up and step back toward him. I knew he was wrong, but I wasn't about to be shot to death down the street from my parents' house because my failure to immediately comply was interpreted as me plotting to murder that officer. So yeah, I stepped out and backed up toward the officer. He hand cuffed me and refused to tell me why I had been pulled over, or why I had been asked to exit my vehicle. Only when I was sitting in the back of the police car did he tell me that there had been reports of gang activity in the area and that a car fitting my car's description with a driver fitting my description had recently been involved in said gang activity. Gang activity. In south Naperville. Committed by a Black male driving a bright blue Mazda MX-6 with a gaudy blue and white interior. Yeah, alright. He was very short in asking me what I was doing in the neighborhood so late at night. I explained that my parents lived at that house with the glass backboard over there. He didn't believe me. He took me back out of the car and put me face down on the hood of the police car to frisk me. I'd already been searched once before he put me in the car. Then, he spent about 15 minutes searching my car while I stood hand cuffed in the cold. My ID had my parents' address on it, but he still didn't think I lived there. I could tell he wanted to accuse me of having a fake ID. About a half hour after being pulled over, when he found nothing on me, nothing in my car, and nothing on my record, he reluctantly let me go. He didn't even say sorry, or explain that it was his mistake; he must've been looking for another Black man in a bright blue Mazda MX-6 who was a gang leader in south Naperville. He sat in the street until I drove to my parents' house, opened the garage door, drove inside, and then closed the garage door.



•••



One summer when I was back from college, I had an argument with a good friend of mine. When I say "good friend," I mean that this is a guy I knew since middle school. Our dads used to work together. I can't count how many times I had spent the night at his parents' house. But we had an argument. The kind of argument most friends have at one point or another. This time, he decided to get really, really racial about it. He started off by telling me I should be ashamed of my complexion (he later claimed that he meant I had bad skin; only I'd only had like two pimples in my entire life). Then, he said I belong in the ghetto, not Naperville. In the end, he looked me dead in the face and called me a nigger. Again, this was one of my closest friends. Since then, I've completely cut him out of my life. But, it fits with the experiences that I've had too many times; people can be totally cool for years and years but suddenly decide that they need to be super racist because they want to hurt you. They'll say they're sorry, they'll explain how you misinterpreted what they said, but the fact is, they reach for racism because they think it'll emotionally and psychologically destroy you, and that's what they want to do at that moment.



I could go on and on and on about this. I could tell you about the guy who wanted to buy his guitar from someone who "actually knew what a guitar was" when I worked at guitar center. At that point, I had a Gibson Les Paul at my house and an Ibanez acoustic, plus a Warwick fretless bass. I could tell you about the coworker who thought it was funny to adopt a stereotypical Black accent to apologize that we weren't going to have fried chicken and cornbread at our company Christmas party. I could tell you about the time I gave my floor mate a haircut freshman year and he "thanked" me by saying he'd let a negro cut his hair any day of the week. I could tell you about leaving a bar heartbroken and fighting tears when the Trayvon Martin verdict came out only to see a couple middle-aged White guys high-fiving and saying he "got what he deserved" right outside. These are only a handful of the experiences I've had in my 31 years.



•••



I've never had a Black boss. I played football from middle school through senior year of high school and only had one Black coach in that whole time. Not just head coaches, I'm talking about assistants and position coaches. I've had two Black teachers in my entire life. One was for my Harlem Renaissance class, and one was for my sign language class. I've never been to a Black doctor, or a Black dentist. I've never been pulled over by a Black police officer. What I'm trying to explain is that, in 31 years, I've seen three Black people in a position of authority. Think about what that does to the psyche of a growing young man. I remember being excited just a few years ago when we started to see Black people in commercials without there being gospel or hip hop music in the background (remember that McDonald's commercial where the little kid was pop-locking with the chicken McNuggets?).



When we say "Black Lives Matter," understand what that actually means. We aren't saying that ONLY Black lives matter. We're saying "Black lives matter TOO." For the entirety of the history of this country, Black lives have not mattered. At a minimum, they haven't mattered nearly as much as White lives. If a Black person kills another Black person, and we have it on tape, the killer goes to jail. If a White police officer kills a Black person and we have it on tape, the entire judicial system steps up to make sure that officer doesn't go to jail.



That is why Black people are in such pain right now. The deaths are bad enough. But having the feeling that nobody will ever actually be held accountable for the deaths is so much worse. And then watching as the police union, the media, and conservative politicians team up to imagine scenarios where the officer did nothing wrong, and then tell those of us who are in pain that our pain is wrong, unjustified, and all in our heads just serves to twist the knife.



If you read all this, I really, really want to say thank you. I know it was a lot to get through. But this is real. This is me. This is what my life is and has been. And I'm not alone."





What it's like to be black in Naperville, America - Naperville Sun