Saturday Report 5/27/23 - Crazy Alert! Lauren Boebert wants to make America safe for antisemitism
The Best of the Rest of the News
Geeky Science! Scientists call out Ron DeSantis. I’m not sure who’s more conservative — as in, “careful, thoughtful, slow to freak out” — editors or scientists, but this is a twofer. The editorial board of Scientific American magazine, a staple of US science for well over a century, came out this past week and warned America about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Their two major condemnations focus on DeSantis’ anti-science and anti-American policy positions with regard to legislation and his failure to listen to actual scientists about Covid, leading Florida to have one of the nation’s highest Covid death and morbidity rates.
“DeSantis has banned books in school libraries,” they wrote, “restricted teachers’ classroom discussions about diversity, prohibited high school classes that focus on Black history and people, politicized college curricula, limited spending on diversity programs, ignored greenhouse gas reduction in climate change policy, diminished reproductive rights and outlawed transgender health care.”
With regard to Covid, they were unsparing: “The governor has refused all evidence that masks are safe and help prevent COVID, appointed a surgeon general who advised against vaccines, and continues to paint science and evidence as restrictions to the freedom of Floridians. Instead of limiting the role of government, as he claimed in his fight against masks, he is expanding it to selectively promote a particular religious agenda.”
They also pointed out his 6-week abortion ban will cost women’s lives and crush many’s hopes and dreams, as well as endanger their health.
Their summary concluded: “A country led by someone wielding such cruelty, bigotry and megalomania will never be ‘a more perfect Union.’”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Well worth the read.
— How the GOP is legally paving the way for the Proud Boys and extreme right-wingers to threaten people on election day. I’ve written repeatedly here on Hartmann Report about how the GOP’s efforts at voter suppression go all the way back to the 1960s with William Rehnquist’s Operation Eagle Eye that brought white lawyers to polling places across the South to challenge Black, Hispanic, and Native American voters. They’ve been relentless in their efforts, and since five Republicans on the Supreme Court gutted Congress’ Voting Rights Act in 2014, GOP voter suppression has gone on steroids.
Most recently, the Florida legislature was marking up legislation to make it harder to vote and increase “election security” and “election integrity” (code words for making it harder and less convenient to vote) that would have included protections for election workers in and around polling places.
It turns out, however, that the election worker protections in the proposed law would have short-circuited the GOP’s latest strategy to sign up tens of thousands of “election monitors,” drawing heavily on armed male militia members in Red states to intimidate non-white and female voters. So, predictably, they simply removed the provisions that would have protected election workers and volunteers, and made it harder for police or poll workers to remove these so-called “election monitors” when they begin harassing would-be voters.
Meanwhile, Florida senator and former CEO of the company convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in American history, Rick Scott, has issued a “warning” to “socialists,” telling people favoring things like Medicare For All and expanded Social Security that his state is “openly hostile” to them, suggesting they should think twice before visiting or moving to the Sunshine State.
This follows South Carolina’s allegedly white supremacist Republican Governor Henry McMaster joking that he looks forward to the day members of his party can hunt Democrats “with dogs.” South Carolina’s Black Democrats (who make up the majority of registered Democrats in the state), whose ancestors were routinely hunted with dogs when they tried to escape enslavement, were not amused.
Increasingly, brutality is the Republican Party’s primary brand. And they’re proud of it. Violence, after all, is fascism’s singular defining characteristic..
— Are Nazis & white supremacists are now deciding which books can be read in Red states? The Washington Post has discovered that the majority of books banned in schools in Red states across America were removed from the shelves because of complaints from just 11 people, many who aren’t even parents of schoolchildren. Several of the book banners have well-documented ties to white supremacist groups and a few have even promoted explicitly Nazi websites, memes, and activists. These revelations are not, however, blunting the enthusiasm of Republican politicians for going down the same road Germany traveled in 1933 when their first book bans focused on literature about gay and trans people, months before the bans turned into bonfires.
— Why isn't the Justice Department looking at the sketchy relationship between Trump & the Saudis? Inquiring minds, as the old saying goes, want to know: why aren’t the Justice Department or Senate investigative committees looking into the Trump family’s connections to the Saudis? After Jared Kushner apparently helped MBS take over that nation with US intelligence, the petrostate has showered literally billions of dollars on the Trump family. In particular, I’m wondering where the Democrats are in the Senate who should be looking into this? You know what would be happening if it’d been the Obama family who’d looked the other way about the Kashoggi murder and helped foment an internal coup in exchange for billions of dollars: there would be at least three or four select committees or subcommittees right now and subpoenas would be flying. Bill Barr would have put John Durham in charge of the prosecution. Somebody needs to poke Chuck Schumer and wake him up.
— What can America do about being drowned in religion? One after another, Red states have changed their laws so students can use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition to religious schools. Others have tried to return prayer, the Ten Commandments, and even bible study to the classroom. Not only does this violate the specific “wall of separation between church and state” (to quote James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”), it violates the rights of citizens who don’t want their tax dollars used to promote religion. Which raises another question: why isn’t the IRS enforcing the 1956 “Johnson Amendment” that requires that agency to pull the tax-exempt status of any church that engages in political activity? Again, if the shoe were on the other foot, you know how Republicans would be handling this.
— How Alabama is using a chemical endangerment law to lock up pregnant (and even not-pregnant) women... Like most Red states (and a few Blue ones), Alabama has laws on the books making it a crime for a pregnant woman to “chemically endanger” a fetus. The laws mostly date back to the racist “crack cocaine epidemic” hysteria during the George HW Bush presidency (when he set up a Black teenager to be busted across the street from the White House so he could talk about it in a nationwide Oval Office leve event). Bush used cracy hysteria, amped by Fox “News” and rightwing hate radio, to help Republicans get elected and to paint Democrats as “soft on [Black] crime.”
Alabama, however, has decided that a woman taking Mifiprestone to induce an abortion is a direct violation of their chemical endangerment laws, and has locked up over a dozen women in jail to prevent them from getting abortions via that route. They also locked up a 24-year old woman who had a normal miscarriage, pending “proof” that she’d taken an abortion drug. They even locked up one woman who wasn’t pregnant, apparently just for good measure. Is there no bottom for these fanatics? Apparently not.
— Good News! Minnesota joins the national compact to elect the president by the popular vote instead of the Electoral College. Next up are Michigan and Nevada, and it looks like it’s entirely possible enough states will have joined the compact that the Electoral College may be a thing of the past by the 2028 or 2032 elections. Step by step. If your state hasn’t joined (you can check here), call your state representative and state senator and demand they co-sponsor legislation to do so.
As Julia Conley is reporting over at CommonDreams.org, “The party's achievements over the past five months include a statewide paid family and medical leave program, which provides 20 weeks of leave; the legalization of recreational marijuana use; and a law providing free school meals to all public and charter school students—part of Walz’s plan to ‘make Minnesota the best state in the country to raise a child.’”
Conley adds: “The party also passed a bill codifying Roe v. Wadeamid a nationwide assault on abortion rights, legal protections for transgender youths who receive gender-affirming healthcare in the state, and a bill setting a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers, leading a crowd of drivers to give the legislation's sponsor, state Sen. Omar Fateh (D-62), a "hero's welcome" after it passed on Sunday.”
And Minnesotta’s Democrats did it against huge odds: they only had a one-vote majority in the state senate. It’s entirely possible that huge-dollar bribe offers were flying around the state senate, like they appear to have in the Carolinas, pushing one or two Democrats to flip. It’s really encouraging to see the entire caucus stand tall and stay honest.
— Five Republicans on the Supreme Court deliver a “catastrophic loss for clean water protections” in a decision so hideous that even Brett Kavanaugh dissented. The Clean Water Act was proposed and pushed through Congress back in 1974 by Republican President Richard Nixon after the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and a massive oil slick spoiled miles of California beaches for a 2-year period. This past week Republicans on the Supreme Court accomplished what the Reagan and Bush administrations tried but failed: gutting the act so severely that half the wetlands in America have now lost protection. Neil Gorsuch’s late mother, Anne, who resigned in disgrace to avoid prosecution for alleged crimes as EPA administrator under Reagan, appears to now be getting her revenge via her son. Joining him was Amy Coney-Barrett, whose father was a longtime lawyer for Shell Oil, and Thomas, Roberts, and Alito — who all never saw a polluting corporation they didn’t like.
— Crazy Alert! Lauren Boebert wants to make America safe for antisemitism. The Biden Administration rolled out a major initiative on Thursday to combat the explosion of antisemitism that has accompanied the neo-Nazi movement led by Donald Trump. Outraged that anybody would want to protect Jews, Boebert attacked the programs, saying: