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Tag: roe v wade

Transforming The United States Into The Republic Of Gilead

Ever since the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, standing in a ballroom with red-hatted Trump election celebrants in the New York Hilton, I’ve been waiting for this moment. This eruption of misogyny, unlike any since perhaps the witch trials and the burnings of midwives at the stake, was only a matter of time.

As shocking, as wildly insulting as that pussy-grabber winning the presidency was to American women and girls, it was just the beginning of what appears to be a long season of sadism.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

The election of Donald Trump signaled a cutting of the chain-link fence behind which something drooling and ferocious had been waiting. Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t fully grasp then was just how powerful that force of (male) nature was. Too late we understood that it had been long licking its wounds in a dark corner gathering strength. We sensed it for years, of course, but we didn’t know just how feral and hungry it might prove to be.

Remember the things that once had the power to shock us? They seem so meh now: American voters electing to the highest office in the land someone credibly accused of sexual harassment and assault, on record advising a younger man to “grab ’em by the pussy.” And that was after a presidential campaign in which he and his supporters had showered his female (“rhymes with witch”) opponent with profane misogynistic abuse.

Soon, The Donald and his followers had normalized everyday misogyny, celebrating their leader’s tendency to reduce all women to strip-club sexual attractiveness. Mini-Trumps sprouted in lesser elected positions across the country, publicly calling elected women or those campaigning for office witches and worse. We even got used to the seating of a new rightist Supreme Court with, for added insult, one new justice credibly accused of sexual assault and another a member of a religious cult that called women “handmaidens.”

Meh, meh. That, too, it turns out, was just the beginning.

We’re now living in the after-times of all that the Trump years unleashed.

In 1991, Susan Faludi wrote a book, Backlash:The Undeclared War Against Women, chronicling the ways in which the patriarchy was then fighting to reverse the gains made by our mothers and grandmothers. They were the ones who had braved public scorn in their struggle to pull American women out of their assigned roles as pointy-bra-wearing, breathy vixens consigned to housewifery or professional lives as secretaries, nurses, or at best teachers.

Faludi was spot on, of course. Sadly, though, the backlash of the 1980s she chronicled would prove to be just a prologue. Having had it named for us, you might think we could have checked that backlash and maintained momentum toward gender equality. Who in the 1990s could have imagined a day when elected men in at least 25 states would be legally enabled to force raped women to give birth or prevent doctors from performing procedures to save women likely to die of pregnancy? Who could have predicted the level of hatred toward women embodied in those very statutes and openly spoken of without shame or hesitation by elected leaders?

Obviously, we should have known better.

The change that felt so natural to those of us who came of age between 1970 and the turn of the century was not natural to them. Not even faintly. Never in recorded history had there been such an upending of patriarchal power as in the years when we grew up. We tend to take it all for granted, but the challenge to male power from the successes of second-wave feminism (and access to birth-control options) was indeed unique.

The facts speak for themselves: A majority of women now work outside the home, and we outnumber men in college attendance, too — signaling even greater numbers of women who should be able to rely economically on themselves instead of male partners. American women were enabled to escape lives of utter dependence on men, precisely because we had access to contraceptives and abortion, and for the first time in history were able to control if, when, and with whom we would bear children.

All that represented serious, deeply meaningful change. It altered the way young women and young men interacted, sexually and socially. Admittedly, we are still far from parity. The development of Silicon Valley, another economic revolution like the industrial one, created a new flood of male-only economic dynasties that once again shut out women (who weren’t wives) from the upper reaches of the economy. But the trend lines in general were upending eons of power relations between men and women at the most intimate, domestic level.

It was only a matter of time — and we should have known it — before such advances provoked the beast. The election of Donald Trump provided a green light for the release of sick, dark fantasies of revenge and a resurgence of the apparently ineradicable urge among some men to rule women utterly and completely.

The Predator’s Ball

I’ve always found the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale to be unwatchable, misogynistic torture porn. As a young English major in the 1980s, I read Margaret Atwood’s novel. I understood it then as a dystopic satire on the theocratic woman-controlling impulses already bubbling up around the edges of American society, which that Canadian writer had creatively taken to their logical conclusion.

The streaming series, however, was something else. The graphic and repeated scenes of actress Elisabeth Moss’s subjection as Offred, including the rapes and various bloody mutilations and punishments visited on her and her sister handmaidens, all converged into a category of visual titillation that went straight to the amygdala. I could imagine men who didn’t find such visual crap as impossible to watch as I did.

The fact that the producers were men had, I’m sure, something to do with the tone.

But today, the horror is this: it’s not confined to a Hulu series anymore. The extreme right in American politics is openly working off the playbook of Atwood’s fictional Republic of Gilead. Its urge is to construct an all-American theocracy in which the Old Testament Biblical rights of men to control women as reproductive chattel are restored to them.

There was a time not that long ago when American women could assume our foes were safely isolated in pockets of lunacy like Missouri, where 2012 Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin famously suggested that rape can sometimes prevent pregnancy. Another example: Nevada, where a 2010 anti-abortion Tea Party candidate explained her “no exceptions for incest” position by suggesting that girls impregnated by their own fathers should remember that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

We laughed at them then. But the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has emboldened those freaks to leave their hidey-holes and, as Dr. Phil might put it, open up about their true feelings.

Let’s start with Charlie Kirk, Jr., the co-founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), which exists mainly to bus conservative college students to fill seats at Trump rallies or form media-attracting long lines to shake hands with Marjorie Taylor Greene and harass progressive college professors.

Kirk has a podcast and a massive social media following. On June 24, in the giddy aftermath of the Roe decision, he gushed about his feelings to his 1.7 million Twitter followers this way (italics mine): “Notice who is marching in the streets: single, unmarried, mostly white, college educated women. Frankly it’s foolish to call conservatives racist — who we actually can’t stand are angry, liberal, white women.”

He was probably disappointed when he only garnered 6,860 likes.

Kirk and his fellow travelers seem to be engaged in a competition to revile women. A few months before Roe was overturned, former NFL football player and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Minnesota Matt Birk actually got a twofer by slamming working women and supporting rapists simultaneously. Abortion rights, he said, lead to working women who then “go to the rape card” if abortion is restricted. He added: “It’s not over. Our culture loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion. Telling women they should look a certain way, have careers, all these things.”

Have careers, and all these things.

At Charlie Kirk’s recent TPUSA convention in Tampa, Florida, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz brayed to a roomful of young men and women this way: “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.” (Try to imagine the pasted-on cheerleader smiles of the women in his audience listening to that.)

Who cares about words, though, when sticks and stones — and laws — actually break our bones (or cause us to bleed to death)? Straight from the Gilead playbook, the theocrats are trying to force women who need abortions to stay within the restrictive borders of their states. You don’t even need to imagine how closely this tracks with scenes in Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale. A liberal/left-leaning political advocacy group, Meidas Touch, has created a little video clip to help you see it all too graphically.

In the past few weeks alone:

Texas Attorney General and indicted securities fraudster Ken Paxton sued the federal government to stop the implementation of the Biden administration’s requirement that abortions be performed in case of emergency, when the life of a mother is at stake. Texas is officially on record now, working in the courts to make sure women likely to die of pregnancy actually do so.

Idaho Republicans rejected a measure to allow a life-saving abortion. The man behind the proposal to criminalize all abortions from the moment of conception, Scott Herndon, is running unopposed for a state senate seat. He called it a “declaration of the right to life for reborn children.”

Or look to Texas again for proof that “pro-life” care for the “pre-born” child is a lie and not the real reason for the race to control uteri. A recent Texas Tribune/ProPublica investigation revealed that ironclad anti-abortion Texas is one of just a few states that doesn’t allow Medicaid coverage for a full year after a poor woman gives birth. How caring!

Democratic and progressive strategists and speechwriters don’t have to look far to find outrageous anecdotes. When President Biden mentioned a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion, the rightwing info-silo, including the Wall Street Journal, promptly cast doubt on the very existence of the child and the rape. When the alleged rapist was arrested, theocrats continued to offer up treacly, sick excuses, dripping with sanctimony, for why even children should be forced to give birth.

“She would have had the baby and, as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” pro-life lawyer and former Indiana deputy attorney general Jim Bopp typically told Politico. He was, of course, speaking of that 10 year-old whose medical care he would have wanted to prohibit in his state.

Reports of the post-Roe effects of care withheld are starting to hit the national news, with bleeding women and those with deadly infections having to wait for legal analyses or travel to distant places to find doctors. As one physician who narrowly saved the life of a miscarrying woman in Texas (having had to wait for the fetal heartbeat to finally stop) put it: “The patient developed complications, required surgery, lost multiple liters of blood, and had to be put on a breathing machine.” Her life was indeed saved, but in our new post-Roe world, barely.

The Disunited States Of Pro-Choice

There is no doubt in my mind (nor in Margaret Atwood’s) that we’re now witnessing a real-life attempt to construct her once-fictional Republic of Gilead in our country. It will be complete with forced birth and rape as a means of master-race reproduction — plus lots and lots of female blood.

On the upside, the insane depredations, verbal and legal, being visited on women in these post-Roe months have already handed the Democrats a wealth of material from which to craft effective messages and potentially gain an edge in the coming midterm elections. The question is: Does the party have the will and skill to do it? If past is prologue, we can’t be sure.

For too long, the onus has been on women to figure out how to protect themselves from fanatical political misogyny. For example, when it comes to abortion, feminist activists have long urged women to “tell” their stories. Some are now bemoaning the fact that not enough of us did so before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

The logic here is that if more women talked openly about their experiences, we would “normalize” that procedure. But is that true? Why should women have to “share” personal information in order to sustain our privacy, a right we actually possess, whether secured by law or not?

Our abortion stories couldn’t convert Justice Amy Coney Barrett or deter any other fanatical fetal rights activists from their appointed task before Roe was overturned. And why, in any case, should women ever have to discuss personal reproductive options and decisions outside a doctor’s office?

There is one exception. Survivors of illegal abortions do a service to the cause by sharing these stories. I recommend, for instance, French writer Annie Ernaux’s book The Happening, a short chronicle of her botched back-alley abortion in Paris in 1964. That bloody, terrifying account ranks with the most harrowing war stories ever written.

When abortion is relegated to dirty back rooms, women’s bodies become literal combat zones. The most resonant line among many comes when Ernaux describes the searing pain of a fake doctor inserting a tube into her uterus to start the process. “At that point I killed my mother inside me,” she writes.

A legion of organizations is now coalescing to assist women who will need abortions in the half of America where they’ll be faced with the same horrific choice Ernaux survived. (Some of those efforts are aggregated here and here.)

Doctors, to their credit, seem to be stepping up for women. The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a strong statement opposing the politicization of reproductive medicine. Its president, Jack Resneck, has warned lawmakers of the challenges they’re creating for doctors. The problem is, it might not matter. Like the American Bar Association’s declining influence in the selection of federal judges — unprecedented numbers of Trump’s appointees were deemed unqualified by that group — the AMA has limited influence in a world where significant numbers of the info-silo’ed believe Covid-19 is a hoax and the vaccines for it contain tracking microchips.

Politically, doctors aren’t going to save us anyway. For too long, even at the greatest women’s march of my adult lifetime, the anti-Trump protest in Washington on January 17, 2017, women have presented a disunited front. The history of the fracturing of the women’s movement is long and sad. Discussions of it are fraught territory, mined with political IEDs that I’d rather avoid. I’ll only say this: Why is it that Congress instantly got moving on the gay marriage law after Roe was overturned (and yes, I’m for it!), when it can’t even get the basics for women passed in the federal Women’s Health Protection act. (The Senate has blocked it twice already.)

The answer, at least in part: advocacy solely for women is always easier to defeat than advocacy for issues that also involve men.

Furthermore, we’re weakened from the inside. As Pamela Paul pointed out in a controversial post-Roe New York Times op-ed on the erasing of women, even Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU have stopped using the word “women” in discussing abortion in favor of phrases like “pregnant people” or “birthing people.” That the very definition of women is now added to decades of the slicing and dicing of women’s groups into narrower and narrower subdivisions of identity only weakens the movement.

It’s true that heterosexual white women are historically privileged over women of color or of different sexual orientations. But if we can’t even agree that all “women” are ultimately people born with a uterus — a subset of human beings who, whatever our differences in terms of class, race, or ethnicity, share the utterly exceptional, unique challenge of being impregnable — we are going to lose this war.

Copyright 2022 Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh is an American political journalist and the author of seven books. Her latest is Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic (an updated paperback version was published in July by Seven Stories Press), a real-life thriller that delves into the official malfeasance behind America’s pandemic chaos and the triumph of science in an era of conspiracy theories and contempt for experts.

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

What Ted Cruz Got Wrong About Gay Marriage And The Supreme Court

Anticipating action by the Supreme Court's right-wing majority, Senator Ted Cruz last week said the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide was “clearly wrong.”

Asked about the landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in a video posted to YouTube from his podcast, he claimed, “Obergefell, like Roe v. Wade, ignored two centuries of our nation’s history,” he claimed.

For many, his comments come as no surprise. In his concurring decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas seemed to put a target on the landmark LGBTQ+ case, claiming that the court “should reconsider” its decision in Obergefell.

So Cruz’s comments seem to be merely doubling down on Clarence Thomas’ threat to same-sex marriage. “Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states,” said Cruz. He went further, saying that the Obergefell decision “was the court overreaching.”

But he’s wrong. The United States Congress has passed federal legislation regulating marriage previously, and the Supreme Court has decided cases enforcing those laws over the past “two centuries of our nation’s history.” As early as 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which prevented a person from being married to more than one individual at a time, later amended and strengthened by the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act 1882.

Both laws were later upheld by the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States (1879) and Late Corp. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States (1890). Congress also passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, defining a marriage as a union between one man and one woman, which was ultimately struck down by the Court’s decision in Obergefell.

The majority opinion in Obergefell largely rested on precedent from previous cases, including the seminal civil rights case Loving v. Virginia (1967), which struck down laws that made interracial marriage illegal. The court echoed the words of Loving in its opinion on Obergefell, claiming that marriage, and the freedom to choose one’s spouse, is “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Consequently, the court concluded that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and…couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

Given the connection between the rights of interracial couples and same-sex to marry, Justice Thomas’ desire to revisit the court’s decision on Obergefell is odd. Would a reconsideration of the principles undergirding the Obergefell decision force the Court to reconsider its ruling in Loving? Given that Justice Thomas, only the second African American to serve on the Supreme Court, is married to a white woman, perhaps he should not throw stones.

To avoid directly stating his own aversion to same-sex relationships, Cruz instead complained that the Court prematurely truncated the democratic process. “Before Obergefell, some states were moving to allow gay marriage, other states were moving to allow civil partnerships. There were different standards that the states were adopting. And had the court not ruled in Obergefell, the democratic process would have continued to operate,” Cruz claimed. “In Obergefell, the court said, 'No, we know better than you guys do, and now every state must, sanction and permit gay marriage.'”

Cruz’s words are oddly reminiscent of the "moderates" in Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, who urged civil rights activists to “wait” for more gradual change. Yet the Court anticipated and answered this objection in its decision. In his majority opinion for the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited Schuette v. BAMN, noting that “when the rights of persons are violated, ‘the Constitution requires redress by the courts,’ notwithstanding the more general value of democratic decision-making. The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.”

Perhaps Cruz and Thomas’ opposition to the expansion of human rights is not because of its timing, but because, as Dr. King observed, “privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.”

Top Senate Leaders See Bipartisan Support To Pass Gay Marriage Bill


By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Top Senate Democrats and Republicans said on Wednesday they may have the votes to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage rights nationwide, the day after the measure passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority.

The measure, intended to head off any Supreme Court effort to roll back gay marriage rights, passed the House on Tuesday with all Democrats and 47 Republican representatives - just over a fifth of their caucus - voting in favor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday said he was "really impressed by how much bipartisan support it got in the House."

When the Supreme Court last month struck down its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling protecting the right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should also reconsider its past rulings that guaranteed access to contraception and the right to gay marriage because they relied on the same legal arguments as Roe.

Under Senate rules, Schumer would need at least 10 Republicans in favor to pass the bill in the 50-50 Senate.

Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said he believed a bill codifying gay marriage could receive enough Republican support to pass.

"I wouldn’t be surprised. We haven't assessed that at all, yet," he told reporters when asked if 10 Republicans could back such legislation. "But as a general matter, I think that is something people in the country have come to accept."

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said on Saturday that the Supreme Court was "clearly wrong" in establishing a federal right to gay marriage. Senator Lindsey Graham said he would not support a bill codifying same sex marriage.

Several other Republicans have said they could support the bill. Senator Susan Collins co-sponsored a Senate version of the House bill. Senator Thom Tillis told CNN on Wednesday that he would "probably" vote in favor.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton, additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

Far-Right Bible-Thumpers Have Already Overplayed Their Hand

Two thoughts: First, the Republican dog has finally caught the car it’s been chasing for years. A band of right-wing zealots in judge’s robes has given them the power to fulfill their reactionary daydreams. Hence their political self-destruction looks assured. It’s just a question of time. They won’t be able to help themselves.

Second, things are going to get worse, possibly much worse, before they get better. How shocking would it be, for example, to learn that a deranged young man murdered twenty citizens standing in line to vote with his trusty AR-15?

It would hardly even be surprising.

Nor to hear police explain, as Kevin Drum puts it, “that they knew there was a guy with an AR-15 hanging around outside the mall/school/courthouse but they were constrained from so much as approaching him. Hanging around a mall with an assault rifle is perfectly legal, after all.”

Because the Supreme Court says so. Never mind that the phrase “well-regulated” appears in the actual text of the Second Amendment. As I’ve pointed out in other contexts, nothing so excites the fundamentalist mind as contradicting scripture. The Founding Fathers clearly intended frequent mass shooting events. Wasn’t it Jefferson who wrote that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”?

Also, schoolchildren and parade goers, apparently.

Anyway, here’s where triumphalist Republicans are coming from, as reported by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post. It’s Gov. Tate Reeves, of Mississippi: “Today we wake up in a state where the church doors are open and the abortion clinic’s doors are closed. All the Glory to God the Father! Amen!”

Politicians like Reeves are the reason we have a long-standing proverb over here in Arkansas: “Thank God for Mississippi.” Because whatever embarrassing statistics make us look like the 49th worst state in the union—poverty, illiteracy, child mortality, etc.--Mississippi will normally be marginally worse.

During the 50 years I’ve lived here, far-right Bible beaters have always made most of the noise during Arkansas political campaigns. And lost most of the elections. (Remember, Arkansas elected Bill Clinton governor six times; Democrat Mike Beebe was elected as recently as 2014.) People act as if “red states” are a fixed and permanent thing. Not so.

But I digress. My point is that most Americans have no ambition to live in a country where the religious right holds the high cards. Indeed, they’re almost guaranteed to rebel. In my view, the GOP has already overplayed its hand.

After some crawfishing around, I thought President Joe Biden got it right last week when he denounced the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision as "an exercise in raw political power.” He criticized Justice Samuel Alito’s written opinion “for playing fast and loose with the facts,” adding that “even 150 years ago, the common law…did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy.”

Quite right. Biden added that the Dobbs decision "practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they’ve just taken away.”

Ah, but will they? Rubin cites a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute that makes it seem likely. Altogether, 65 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal almost all the time.

Granted, the Republican base of white evangelical Protestants disagrees. “By contrast,” the poll reports, “64 percent of white Catholics, 69 percent of white mainline (non-evangelical) Protestants, 75 percent of Black Protestants, 75 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 82 percent of non-Christian religious Americans, and 84 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans support abortion legality in most or all cases.”

Several historians have cited the nation’s experience of Prohibition during the 1920s as an example of what can happen when moralistic zealots try to regulate people’s private behavior. Eventually, the public will rebel. To enforce the kind of national abortion ban the keener Republican moralists are proposing, writes Michael Kazin, a Georgetown University historian, “would require a very different citizenry from the one that inhabits 21st-century America.”

It wouldn’t take a whole lot of stories about “teenagers forced to bear children that resulted from rape and…health workers jailed for helping desperate poor women end their pregnancies,” Kazin thinks, to “make the anti-abortion movement seem more sadistic than virtuous.”

True enough. But corruption-riddled and widely ignored as it was, legal prohibition lasted more than a decade, from 1919 to 1933. Some of us wonder if we have that long before the authoritarians have taken control.

Republicans wielding the Senate filibuster pretty much make it impossible, short term, to pass meaningful legislation restoring women’s reproductive autonomy. So, Democrats plan to make Republican congressmen vote on smaller bills—such as one preventing states from enforcing brazenly un-American laws forbidding women from traveling out of state to end unwanted pregnancies. Put GOP congressmen on the record and make them defend their votes come November.

Will it work? Short term, doubtful.

Longer term…Well, it had better.

Far-Right Agitator Busted In Arizona After Bear Spray Incident

The extremist ”Patriot” movement is nothing if not adaptable: As a kind of pan-far-right insurgency, it has a history of attacking democracy on a broad range of fronts, from immigration to civil rights to abortion rights. That’s why you can find deranged activists like Jennifer Harrison of AZ Patriots, who made her bones harassing Latino immigrants and Muslims, showing up to a protest over the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade to do a drive-by pepper spray of participants.

Unsurprisingly, when police arrested her, Harrison claimed it was all in self-defense—a claim belied by video of the incident. Just as predictably, as David Gilbert at VICE reports, police in Tempe, Arizona, also arrested one of Harrison’s victims based on Harrison’s claims that she had been assaulted.

The incident occurred on Sunday night in Tempe, when Harrison and her frequent partner in her far-right escapades, Michael Pavlock, cruised slowly past a cluster of abortion rights protesters waiting to cross the street on the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive with Harrison in the passenger seat.

Videos and photos show that she rolled down her window with a can of bear spray in her hand and directed it twice at the protesters. After the first blast, while the victims were crying for water, they continued to roll slowly past the crowd; a woman standing with them, later identified as activist Vivika Lofton, reached toward the bear spray with a flag in her hand as if to deflect it. Harrison can then be seen unleashing a second blast in her direction.

Harrison later claimed in a press release (subsequently deleted) that Lofton had “aggressively rushed toward the vehicle, hands raised and flying around as she entered the street and reached her hand into the open window of the vehicle.” Video indicates that this description is at best a gross exaggeration, and that Lofton had not reached inside the car at any moment.

Lofton, who was briefly hospitalized, was charged with disorderly conduct. She adamantly denies Harrison’s claims. “I’m being charged with the same charges as [Harrison], which isn’t right, because I was the one that was injured and went to the hospital,” Lofton told Gilbert.

Victims of the mace attack were treated by emergency services at the scene. Some were transported for further treatment at a local fire station, including a 9-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. The mother of the two children set up a GoFundMe page in which she described their agony.

The pain of being maced is intense and burning, an incredibly strong stinging sensation that does not go away quickly. Additionally, mace reactivates every time it gets wet. This means that every time my children started to cry in reaction to the pain they were feeling, it only made the burning worse. Seeing my children in wailing in pain and unable to do anything about it was the most excruciating thing I've ever gone through.

Everything happened so fast and there was no time to prepare or run away for safety. We were taken away by ambulance to a near by firestation where I had to flush the mace from my children's face in a decontamination shower.

On social media, Harrison said she “didn’t expect kids” among the anti-abortion protesters Sunday night. However, as Gilbert notes, she had berated the same group of protesters on Saturday night, acknowledging in her Facebook livestream that a child was there.

Harrison has a long history of notoriously ugly far-right activism. AZ Patriots (also known as the Patriot Movement of Arizona) won notoriety in 2018 for a Facebook video posted by a leading member of the group showing her entering a Muslim mosque and removing articles, leading eventually to a felony conviction for the woman. Harrison, who was sued by several churches for harassing immigrant children by posting videos of them arriving by bus, also faced a felony identity theft charge in Maricopa County that was later dismissed when she agreed to enter a federal diversion program.

In the wake of the November 2020 presidential election—which Democrat Joe Biden surprisingly won in Arizona—Harrison was one of the leading figures protesting outside election-counting centers. Harrison also led a small delegation inside the building in the early moments of one protest, where video showed her demanding to be permitted to observe the count and being denied.

Harrison also has a history of using bear spray to attack her political opponents. In June 2020, she made a video of herself and Pavlock at a Black Lives Matter protest march through downtown Phoenix. In the video, the pair were stopped by traffic police at an intersection to allow protesters to march past.

She could be seen using her megaphone to shout, “Black rifles matter,” and “Trump 2020,” which drew about six protesters who walked toward their car. Harrison yelled, “You’re going to get sprayed,” while Pavlock chimed in: “You’re going to get shot.”

Harrison could then be seen bear-spraying a girl, after which a Phoenix police officer told the pair to leave the area.

Harrison devoted much of her energy in 2021 to harassing border crossers as they entered Arizona, but more recently has turned her focus to counterprotesting at liberal events.

"I have one comment: This was self-defense. I have an attorney, and we are confident that we'll see this through," Harrison told the Arizona Republic.

Harrison is not the first right-wing extremist to harass Arizona abortion-rights protesters. In early May, a group of white nationalists showed up to try to commit violence at a Phoenix protest.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

When Will Americans Push Back Against Tyranny Of The Minority?

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Even so, I’m willing to go on record as saying people predicting an impending civil war or the imminent breakup of the United States are quite mistaken.

For all the turmoil and bad feeling abroad in the land, not to mention on the Internet, the things that bind Americans together as a people are far stronger than the things that divide us. Which is the main reason I believe that a partisan Supreme Court’s efforts to impose what amounts to a “tyranny of the minority” upon the nation as a whole are destined to fail.

One way or another, people just aren’t going to have it.

Now my own sense of patriotism may differ from yours. If I never again hear that dreadful, chest-beating Lee Greenwood song, it will be too soon. I’ve come to dislike the unholy racket of July Fourth celebrations almost as much as my poor terrified dogs. (Even Martin, my orange tabby sleeping companion, came running in around midnight, slinking about two inches off the floor.) The infernal noise went on for another hour.

It doesn’t help that here in Arkansas the temperature’s always somewhere between 95 and 100 on Independence Day — the absolute worst time of year.

So, when do I experience patriotic zeal? Well, March Madness, the opening weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, never fails to inspire me with Woody Guthrie-style emotion. All those striving teams from all those far-flung American places. What a wonderful country!

It’s been a while, but I used to drive every summer from Arkansas to an old friend’s ranch outside Livingston, Montana— 26 hours each way, intoxicated by the beauty of the unfolding landscape. Nothing made me happier than stopping for a greasy truck-stop breakfast somewhere in western Nebraska. Have you seen the remote beauty of the Sand Hills? You should.

Having grown up in overcrowded New Jersey, I’ve always loved wide open spaces. Accompanied by a couple of slumbering basset hounds, I’d be singing to myself all the way:

This land is your land, this land is my land.

From California to the New York island.

This land was made for you and me.

One year, I rented a cassette tape of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove from a bookstore in Cody, Wyoming for the drive home. Pulling into Little Rock two days later with a couple of hours remaining, I was tempted to roll on to Memphis just to learn how the story ended.

But here’s the problem: The seven states I drove through--Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana—have a combined 14 U.S. Senators: thirteen conservative Republicans, and Montana Democrat Jon Tester.

Their combined populations add up to roughly 12 million, give or take.

California and New York alone have around 60 million citizens between them, and just four U.S. Senators, all Democrats.

The Founding Fathers couldn’t have anticipated that any more than they could AR-15 assault rifles. There are small states that lean Democratic, yes. But the power imbalance between what H.L. Mencken called “The Cow States” and the nation’s urban population has created sustained partisan gridlock in Washington. Add the undemocratic filibuster, and it becomes increasingly difficult to get anything useful done.

Hence the tyranny of the minority.”

“Our current system,” writes Jamelle Bouie in the New York Times, “favors geography over people and the interests of the minority over those of the majority.” The January 6 insurrection along with “the partisan lawmaking of the Supreme Court have thrown those counter-majoritarian features of the American system into sharp relief.”

By overturning Roe v. Wade, the court has created a crisis of legitimacy, Bouie adds, where “the fundamental rights of hundreds of millions of Americans are functionally overturned by an unelected tribunal whose pivotal members owe their seats to a president who won office through the mechanism of the Electoral College, having lost the majority of voters in both of his election campaigns.”

As I write, several Cow State Republican governors have found themselves unable to answer reporters’ questions about whether a ten-year-old girl in Ohio should be forced to deliver her rapist’s child. Children having children.

The tyranny of the minority, indeed.

Actually, there’s no real constituency anywhere in America for such a grotesque policy. But it’s amazing none of these politicians had thought up a sensible answer. They haven’t had to, partly because the Supreme Court’s Roe ruling was written by partisan hothouse flowers with little experience of the outside world.

So now the Supreme Court has announced its intention to delve into what’s called the “independent state legislature theory,” according to which GOP-dominated legislatures could override their own states’ voters in presidential elections—pretty much what soon-to-be-disbarred Trump lawyer John Eastman tried to pull off in 2020.

One way or another, the American people won’t let that happen.

Poll: Supreme Court Approval Crashing Among Women And Young Voters

Multiple polls have now found Americans’ opinion of the Supreme Court plummeting in the wake of recent decisions expanding gun rights and overturning Roe v. Wade.

One of those polls was a survey conducted by the progressive consortium Navigator Research, which found the high court's net favorability plunging 26 points since February to 44% favorable, 47% unfavorable.

The net changes Navigator noted between February and late June among specific demographics are fascinating.

Here's how the net change in favorability among demographics rank from the largest drops to the smaller ones. (Note: Some demographics aren't mentioned at all.)

  • Liberal Democrats: -57
  • 2020 Biden voters: -52
  • College women: -44
  • White-collar: -40
  • Suburban: -39
  • Service industry: -34
  • Women: -32
  • Independent women: -30
  • Ages 18-34: -30

As Navigator notes, the groups that have moved most against the court are younger, female, suburban, liberal Democrats, and independent women. Those demographic groups likely give us some insight into the voters most ticked off by the Supreme Court’s latest decisions and, in some cases, those most motivated to turn out in November.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Police And Right-Wing Violence Raise Concern Over Abortion Protests

Violence against pro-choice protestors has been a widespread occurrence at pro-abortion demonstrations sweeping across the nation since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and tossed the issue of reproductive rights to the states.

As hundreds of thousands of Americans take to the streets to demand restoration of abortion rights, several violent incidents have sparked fears of broader attacks..

Arizona police fired teargas at protestors outside the state capitol and Los Angeles police were filmed throwing activists and members of the press to the ground at protests. Six people were arrested in South Carolina after protesters attempted to intervene when one was being arrested.

Ten protesters were arrested in Oregon after the police cracked down on a so-called “Night of Rage” supporting abortion rights.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa the driver of a pickup truck drove into a crowd of abortion rights protestors, leaving one woman hospitalized. A Republican state senate candidate punched his female Democratic competitor in the face at a Providence, Rhode Island abortion rights demonstration. He subsequently was arrested and dropped out of the race.

Jennifer Rourke, the Democrat he assaulted, said, “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up.”

Summer Of Discontent?

Los Angeles organizers from the group RiseUp4AbortionRights along with other activists have called for a “day of mass disruption. Supreme Court Justices, state capitol buildings, and leadership from both parties have also been the target of sustained protest and demands for action.

While the situation in some ways echoes the 2020 George Floyd protests that swept the nation to demand racial justice and an end to police brutality, thus far the scale of protest has remained smaller. Meanwhile law enforcement authorities have responded swiftly to protect public buildings and officials.

The National Guard set up a barricade around the Arizona state capitol; a large fence and snipers can be spotted at the Supreme Court; and police have reacted with force to protesters in other cities.

But there is no indication that protestors and organizers intend to give up. Said actor Jodie Sweetin, who made headlines for being slammed to the ground by police at an abortion rights protest in Los Angeles: “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

How Far Will They Go?

Beyond the response to protests from local authorities, there are also fears of a violent reaction by militia groups and far-right individuals.

Several protests have seen clashes and scuffles between abortion rights activists and counter-protesters. The Rhode Island incident allegedly started as a disagreement between two demonstrators.

In 2020, Black Lives Matters protesters saw a violent reaction from far-right groups, which led to the incident where teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them.

Thirty-one white nationalists were arrested after a concerned civilian tipped off authorities to their plans. The Patriot Front group was en route to a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, allegedly to instigate a riot with smoke grenades and shields.

The spike in white nationalist activity goes hand-in-hand with the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe, weaponizing the Christian faith to limit the rights of women. As to how far the Republican Party is willing to go, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert told a crowd at a local church, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”