(For some of us, things have been difficult for a while – in Wisconsin it’s been particularly difficult for those of us who are/were public employees for example.)
But last week was, by far the most audacious example of complete disregard of the Constitution, Precedent, Freedom of Religion (which is literally why our country exists), Respect for Women, and Democracy.
Of course I am talking about the Dodd Decision which resulted in the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. But, the decision on abortion wasn’t the only major decision SCOTUS made last week that will impact millions of Americans and that went against wishes of the majority of Americans.
On Tuesday SCOTUS ruled that Marietta Memorial Hospital could reimburse their employees requiring dialysis at low rates in the hopes that the employees would switch to Medicare (so they’d be completely off the hook.). DaVita (a dialysis provider, frankly not necessarily the hero in this – they’re just trying to get more business) sued the hospital claiming that the hospital was discriminating against their employees by offering the low reimbursements. SCOTUS said that because the hospital offered the same reimbursement amount to all renal disease patients, whether they had end-stage renal disease or not, it wasn’t discrimination. (End stage costs a lot more.) I think it’s appalling that insurers, especially a hospital, can pick and choose what diseases to cover. (FYI, shockingly Sonia Sotomayor voted with the conservative justices. I wonder if it was her effort to “regain the public’s confidence“. Think she feels differently now? And/or after hearing this?)
Also on Tuesday, SCOTUS ruled that Maine could not prevent religious schools from receiving public funds through the statue tuition program. Separation of Church and State is gasping for air and about to take its last breath.
On Thursday three rulings came down. The first SCOTUS ruling was not only an attack on States’ Rights but was an outrageous interpretation of the 2nd amendment. The timing was also deplorable considering the Uvalde, Brooklyn, and other recent mass shootings. In this ruling, the conservative majority struck down a New York State law that set limitations on carrying guns outside of the home.
To me, the Second Amendment seems fairly clear: “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.“
It’s that second comma that is the problem. It basically says – because a WELL-REGULATED Militia is necessary for a “State” (or government) to remain free and secure, the government shall not infringe the rights of individuals to keep and bear “Arms.” Setting aside that it SAYS “well-regulated” right in the amendment, my feeling is as long as people are able to have access to some “arms” (it doesn’t define arms, could that be pitchforks, pinking shears, a rolling pin?), I would think the government would be within its right to regulate guns that it felt were a threat to public safety. After all, that is one of the government’s main jobs. But what do I know. I’m no lawyer. Clearly.
I read this article today and I think the question is not just specific to California. Are Americans prepared for black and brown people to be carrying guns in public? This is not going to end well.
Another ruling was an attack on every American’s right to Miranda. A man named Mr. Tekoh wasn’t read his Miranda rights and was questioned “at length” by a sheriff. He ended up signing a confession.
The judge ALLOWED the confession (which is hugely problematic for so many reasons,) Still, the jury acquitted the man. Mr. Tekoh filed a civil lawsuit against the sheriff for violating his constitutional rights.
These conservatives (@#$%^(#*) Justices have ruled that Miranda isn’t actually a constitutional right. Alito had the balls to say that although Miranda has constitutional roots, “a violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution.”
Justice Kagan wrote in dissent:
“Today,” she wrote, “the court strips individuals of the ability to seek a remedy for violations of the right recognized in Miranda. The majority observes that defendants may still seek ‘the suppression at trial of statements obtained’ in violation of Miranda’s procedures.”
“But sometimes,” Justice Kagan continued, “such a statement will not be suppressed. And sometimes, as a result, a defendant will be wrongly convicted and spend years in prison. He may succeed, on appeal or in habeas, in getting the conviction reversed. But then, what remedy does he have for all the harm he has suffered?”
The third ruling on Thursday had to do with an individual on death row. A man was asking that his death sentence be carried out by firing squad instead of lethal injection because his veins were compromised, which means a lethal injection death would be cruel and unusual.
There are only four states in the country that use firing squad as an approved method of execution. Georgia, where this prisoner resided, is not one of those four states.
Coney Barrett, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch were in dissent. They claimed that the man was trying to get out of his punishment because death by firing squad may never be approved in Georgia. It’s telling that these four put execution before the 8th Amendment. But then they are all Federalists.
AND TODAY (Monday) SCOTUS issued three more decisions: a. The first was interesting – it will allow some prison inmates to ask for reduced sentences. The reason for this – Trump’s First Step Act, signed into law in 2018. And it was the three liberal justices, Gorsuch, and THOMAS who said Yea! The intent is of the law is to reduce racial disparity. Shame on the other four. b. The second – And the wall came tumbling down. No surprise the praying coach won. Prayer is soon coming to a public school near you. c. The third – Doctors are pretty much off the hook (or getting a second chance) on the opioid thing.
There is one more big decision come down the road. That is WEST VIRGINIA v. the EPA. If SCOTUS rules against the EPA, the US will have no way to limit greenhouse gases, power plant emissions or any pollution that is creating climate change. The likelihood that this Supreme Court would rule in favor of WV is fairly high.
I will say though, there are a few things that ensued from this shitstorm of anti-democratic decisions that made me feel better, gave me hope, but also made me recognize that this country is most likely going to become more divided before we return to any semblance of normalcy.
These tweets would be two of them…
ANYWAY, on to my SEVEN THINGS!
1. This Font – Honestly, this is genius and if I could read everything in this font I would not only be a happier person but a more educated one as well. If you click HERE it’ll take you to the Bionic Reading website where there is a Chrome extension you can add to convert pages into the font (I haven’t tried that since I don’t use Chrome) and there is a general convertor where you can either enter a URL (which is great for those really long Atlantic and New Yorker articles) or you can upload a file (unfortunately it only accepts TXT, RTF, RTFD, EPUB or DOCX – NO PDFs.)
Maybe someday everything will have Bionic Reading as an option and we can just turn it on!
2. This Seventeenth-Century Woman Artist – Artemisia Gentileschi – “Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes” (c. 1624-27), oil on canvas, 73 11/16″ x 55 7/8″. Detroit Institute of Arts
3. This News about Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody – O…..M…..G I don’t know how many of you made it through the pandemic watching videos of Mandy and Kathryn (like I and millions of others did) but I could watch the two of them ALL DAY! Sadly, this show will only be a 30 minute sitcom on Showtime, it’s called Seasoned. Just like with their home videos, their son Gideon is involved. I cannot wait!!!
To get an idea of what it’s gonna be like…
[Sent to me by Ann L. – Thanks Ann!]
4. This Clever Pride Flag – Kitsch + Pride Month = Perfection.
5. This Chihuly Museum – How have I never heard about this??? It’s located in Seattle.
Photos by Mellanie Mercier
[Found by my friend Mellanie]
6. This Sparkling Water – Finally something I can drink that isn’t caffeinated, has no sugar or artificial sweeteners, and isn’t overly carbonated. I picked up an 8 pack of this from Imperfect Foods and gave it a try. Was I delighted! Found out it’s at my local grocery and I promptly picked up a second 8 pack. I really like the raspberry-lime flavor. The only other one I’ve tried is the “Arnold Palmer” (half lemon/half tea).
They have cocktail recipes on their website. These would be genius in cocktails or mocktails!
7. These Magazine Covers – I think all of them except for the Blondie cover are from the best decade of the 20th century, the 1980s (the Blondie one is from the 70s.) Richard Bernstein created the covers of Warhol’s Interview Magazine from 1972 through 1989. Iconic.
(Sorry guys, had to go over seven things this week. There were just too many things to include. Pour yourself a cup of tea, this is a long one!)
1. Supermajority – “A community for women who want to work together to build economic and political power, organize for gender equity, and transform this country.”
I signed up for Supermajority a while ago and it’s fabulous – provides a lot of interesting and useful information. But as the election draws nearer they are kicking it into high gear. Last week a friend of mine (who is also a member) posted on Facebook that she had signed up as Supermajority Supermajor, a leadership program to help get out the vote. I immediately signed up too. This upcoming election is the most important election of my lifetime, and as you all know, I’m not being melodramatic.
I’m scheduled for a few online training sessions this coming week and after that I’ll be texting, calling, writing letters, and helping to recruit poll workers. All things I can safely do from my home!
There are a lot of organizations helping to get out the vote but I like this one because of its focus is on women, particularly women of color. If you aren’t already signed up for something consider joining right now!
Also, the leadership at Supermajority is a wonderfully diverse group of women (and two men) that includes one of my heroes, Cecile Richards.
2. Protect the Results – they are “building a coalition of voters ready to mobilize if Donald Trump refuses to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
I don’t know if my fear of things going badly after the election is an irrational fear being promoted by the “liberal media” but based on everything I have been reading and seeing, I don’t think….
Oh hell, it’s primarily due to this: when Kayleigh McEnany, the White House Press Secretary (who clearly has had a few too many cult initiation sessions for the Church of Trump) was asked, “Is the president saying if he doesn’t win this election, that he will not accept the results unless he wins?” She responded, “The president has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. It’s the same thing he said last November.”
W……T……F. That’s not the way you answer that question.
By the way, this was preceded by:
“The president said this week the only way we lose this election is if the election is rigged,” a reporter asked McEnany at a briefing Wednesday. “It begs the question: Does the president believe there’s any circumstance under which he can lose the election fairly?”
“The president believes he’s done a great job for the American people, and he believes that will show in November,” McEnany responded. “He believes that voter fraud is real, in line with what we see all across the country, particularly with mail-in ballots which are prone to fraud.”
McEnany: Trump will ‘see what happens’ before accepting the results of the election: Washington Post, August 19, 2020 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/19/mcenany-trump-will-see-what-happens-before-accepting-results-election/
Bernie Sanders is the latest in a string of respected and long-standing government officials, both former and current, who have voiced concerns about Trump possibly not conceding if he loses the election.
Last week on the Samantha Bee’s show they had a segment on this exact topic. The video clip is below and it’s where I heard about Protect the Results. I suggest you watch this, it includes discussions with a few experts including Rosa Brooks who led the ‘Transition Integrity Project,’ a group of current and former senior government and campaign leaders, academics, journalists, polling experts and former federal and state government officials formed out of concern about potential disruptions to 2020 United States presidential election and transition by the RNC. They ran multiple war-game scenarios to see what would happen depending on various outcomes of the election and, well, it wasn’t pretty.
3. The Cast of the Princess Bride (and Patton Oswald) – the cast and director of one of the most beloved films ever made – Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, and Rob Reiner – are going to have a reunion where they will do a table reading of the script of ‘The Princess Bride’ and answer questions sent in by attendees, moderated by the wonderful Patton Oswald. This is being done to raise money for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which we all know is one of the major battleground states for the upcoming election. Kudos to them for using their fame for good! I’ve made my donation, registered and even sent in a question. You can go to this link to make a donation. You;ll receive an email acknowledging your donation (you can donate any amount!) and it will include a link that says “Get access to the event URL here.” Click on that to actually register for the event itself and you’ll get the URL so you can watch everything on Sunday, September 13th at 6 pm. SO EXCITED!!!
4. Penzeys Spices – If you are a Penzeys’ fan you are already aware of the advocacy that they have been doing over the past three and half-plus years. They decided to take a stand fairly early on and have not been shy at all about declaring their opposition to the person occupying the White House.
Just one example of the sort of thing they’ve been doing – recently they offered “Get Out the Vote” supply kits – totally awesome.
Another cool thing though unrelated to voting, Penzeys has a store in Kenosha but it is some distance from where the protesting and turmoil is/was going on. Bill Penzey, not at all unexpected, wrote to his customers in support of the BLM protesters. As usual received a flood of kudos mixed with a little bit of criticism from a few of his customers. (If you look at their Facebook page, especially at the posts from 2017, you’ll see hundreds of supportive comments on every one of his posts interspersed with a negative comment here and there such as “I will never shop at Penzeys again.” He clearly is having no problems business-wise with his decision to oppose the “president.”)
Penzey said that someone wrote to him “that you would be singing a different tune if it was your store being looted.” In order to show that he wouldn’t be “singing a different tune” (and to put his money where his mouth is) he decided to loot his own store! He took a photo of the inventory that day and then gave away that exact amount of inventory to community organizations that could benefit from the donation. He asked people to make recommendations to community groups/organizations that could benefit from the donation and in just a few days had received over 5,000 messages! Be sure to support Penzey’s! Not only is it a local business but they are clearly socially aware and awesome!
5. The Milwaukee Bucks (and the sports teams which followed suit, not just in the NBA but in other leagues as well) – the Bucks was the first team to take a stand and protest the Jacob Black shooting by sitting out for a playoffs game. This led to other teams joining them, not only other NBA teams but teams in the WNBA, the MLS, NFL, MLB, NHL, and CFB. Ultimately the Bucks actions led to a negotiation between the NBA and the players union on several things including using the arenas for polling places for the November 3rd election. Bravo Milwaukee Bucks!
6. The Lincoln Project – is a political action committee (PAC) that was formed in late 2019 but several current and former Republicans, one of the most well-known being George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband. Recently both George & Kellyanne quit their positions to focus on their family after their daughter, Claudia, made a very public announcement that she was seeking emancipation. This family has the most complicated home life – you have the (now) former senior counselor to the “president” married to one of the leading “Never-Trumpers” and their kid appears to be as far left as one can be. And yet, although she says that her mother’s job has ruined her life and while criticizing her father (though I would have thought she’d be happy he’s against Trump) she still says, “They are the most generous, most well-educated people I have ever met. I look up to them and want nothing but success and good fortune for them. They are my parents and that trumps all — no pun intended.” C-O-M-P-L-I-C-A-T-E-D.
Here’s an example of the kind of work that the Lincoln Project is doing. They are prolific, sometimes having more than one video released in a day. And the quality is exceptional. I think they may have some Hollywood people helping them out.
And this one, which just brings tears to my eyes. Compare this man to the person currently occupying the White House. If we don’t have Joe Biden as president, well, I don’t know what I will do.
7. Old Navy – Old Navy is paying its employees to staff polling places on election day. As I’m sure you’re aware, there has been a massive shortage of poll workers due to the pandemic. Most poll workers are retirees and therefore are at-risk from COVID-19 so the people that normally work the polls are bowing out leaving municipalities across the country short-handed.
To give you an idea of what kind of problems this could cause, the State of Wisconsin chose to hold its in-person primary elections IN APRIL (right in the middle of when most states had issued shelter-in-place orders) and the republican controlled legislature refused to allow them to be postponed. The municipality that was most greatly affected was Milwaukee. Normally Milwaukee would have had 180 polling sites but they ended up with only FIVE. That led to very long waits and long lines and increased the risk of people who went to the polls. Here’s an article that explains why Milwaukee ended up with so many fewer polling sites than Madison.
Maybe other companies will follow Old Navy’s lead and do the same thing. Having employees go work the polls and/or giving them the day off to go vote would be an incredibly good thing to do for the nation and it wouldn’t be bad for their public image either (aka free marketing.)
8. Mrs. Fred Rogers– Joanne Rogers doesn’t mince words when talking about the “leader of our country.” She is most definitely not a fan, mostly because of his lying and his character. I think that this is something that I find most astonishing, how so many people who claim to be Christians can support him. Talk about selling your soul to the devil.
9. Fact Checking – if I hadn’t been a librarian this would have been my other dream job.
FactCheck.org – this site is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center which is a center of study for public policy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. It describes itself as a “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics”. It is primarily funded by the Annenberg Foundation, which is a family foundation that funds non-profits in the US and around the world. Their primary focus is in educational television on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as well as programs in science and the arts.
Snopes – one of the “oldest fact checking sites,” Snopes was originally called “Urban Legends Reference Page” and was founded in 1994 by David & Barbara Mikkelson. The amazing thing is that because it’s been around so long and because so many people reference it as the to go place to check whether something is legitimate AND most likely because it is a couple at the helm, there are all sorts of conspiracy theories flying around about the Mikkelsons themselves. It’s gotten so bad that even other fact checking sites had to fact check them.
Ad Fontes Interactive Media Bias Chart – the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart has a rather complicated methodology for how it ranks the various media outlets. If you want to see how it is done you can read about it here. I have used this one for years because one of my family members constantly sends me things from sources I’ve never heard of. I am able to send him back information saying this is where this media outlet is located on the Media Bias Chart. At one point I told him I would only believe things from the Associated Press and Reuters which were the two news sources most highly rated as being least biased/most accurate. That worked for a bit but eventually even those because “too left-leaning” and “fake news” for him. Right out of the fascist handbook.
Media Bias/Fact Check – I’ve been using this site a bit more because, well frankly, the Media Bias Chart started to charge money to download the static chart and the interactive chart of it isn’t as easy to use. This site is funded mostly through ads and memberships and donations. It was founded by Dave Van Zandt, an academic administrator and law professor. Plus it gives a bit more detail than the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart.
10. Republican Voters Against Trump – While waiting for the next Chef Kobe video, I spend a lot of time on this YouTube channel. It helps me know that the entire country hasn’t gone insane. It’s one video after another like this….
They also had these two very important videos…
11. Walter Shaub – the former Director of United States of Government Ethics resigned fairly early after Trump’s regime, I mean term began, in July of 2017. His resignation was primarily due to Trump’s refusal to divest his businesses and the administration’s delaying in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees. That seems so long ago and so mild compared to what he does now. Walter’s personal Twitter account has been a sanctuary for those of us who felt that our country was going mad. I know for myself, it was always assuring to see someone I know to be of such high moral standards freaking out over the same things I was.
12. Voter Accessories – Getout the Vote bling!
This VOTE ID Bracelet – from Kris Nations, this beautiful bracelet is inspired by the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment which guarantees and protects women’s constitutional right to vote. And 50% of the purchase price goes to When We All Vote, a non-profit “working to ensure that every single eligible voter is registered and ready to vote in the 2020 elections.” (I am totally ordering one for myself. I will wear it all year round because we should already be reminded of the importance of voting and celebrate the accomplishments of the Suffragettes. Course if things don’t go well in November I may feel differently.) $48 for the sterling silver (the 18K gold vermeil are sold out.)
This Vote Rhinestone Bobby Pin – I LOVE this! According to MyDomaine, “This sparkly rhinestone hair clip represents an important partnership between stylist Justine Marjan, the brand Kitsch, and the When We All Vote organization, which encourages people who haven’t yet registered to get out and vote. For just $29, this sparkly statement accessory can be yours. Wear it proudly between now and election day, and feel good about the cause you’re supporting along the way.”—Melanie Berliet, General Manager
This V-O-T-E Necklace from ByChari – I’m sure you all heard Michelle Obama give her inspiring speech at the Democratic National Convention. Well, if you are like me, in between listening to everyone, you can’t help but notice all the wonderful details like this necklace Michelle was wearing (or that the letters on the shelves behind Elizabeth Warren spelled out B L M.) Well, not surprisingly this is from a black-owned business called ByChari and you can get it in gold, silver or rose gold. If you really want to make an investment, you can even have the letters be in diamonds! I would LOVE one of these. $295-$1260
This Vote Tote from ClareV – Again, via MyDomaine, “This blue cotton tote by Clare V. reads ‘I Vote, You Vote, She Votes, We Vote, They Vote’ in a lovely French script. While it’s an easy way to advocate for voter participation, part of the bag’s proceeds are also donated to When We All Vote—a nonprofit organization co-chaired by Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Janelle Monae, among others—so you can feel good about the fact that your money is being funneled into worthy grassroots campaigns around the U.S.”—Chelsea Stuart, Senior Lifestyle Editor $25
This VOTE Mask – Via MyDomaine, “I’m a big believer in the power of positive peer pressure when it comes to voting, and I can’t think of a better way to remind everyone of their civic duty than by wearing this mask when I leave the house. It’s from a collaboration between Resistance By Design and Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight Organization, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the Southern Center for Human Rights.”—Karli Bendlin, Email Editor
I think we all need to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone we know gets out and votes in this election. Make sure your friends and family members have requested their ballots. And besides voting for Joe Biden, we need to also be voting for Democrats across the board, not just in the presidential election. Because change isn’t going to happen if we still have a republican controlled Senate or republican controlled legislatures across the country.
We’ve have six years of republican control – in our Senate and ten years in our State Legislatures and Governorships and look where we are. And if you’re argument is, well it’s because of the pandemic and it isn’t fair to judge, the fact is, we should have been much better prepared and we would have been, if the current president hadn’t reversed a lot of things that had been put in place to deal with emergencies because he didn’t think they were necessary and he was looking for things to pay for his tax cuts.
(Side rant – And were those tax cuts so important? We can look at it now and now that they weren’t, especially when we see who benefitted the most:
IRS data on the 2018 tax season released in May 2019 shows that savings for taxpayers were uneven. For example, the average refund was $90 higher, nationally, in 2018 than 2017. But the taxpayers who saw the largest refund increases had an adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least $200,000. Tax returns showing an AGI of less than $100,000 paid less income tax overall, but returns with an AGI just above $100,000 (many middle-class families) owed more tax, on average. Note that this AGI is per tax return, not per taxpayer: A married couple where each spouse has a salary of $65,000 could very well have an AGI of just above $100,000 if they file jointly.
We also know that businesses didn’t actually use the tax cuts they way they were intended, to invest in employees and the business. Instead they used it for buybacks, which helps shareholders and the company.)
Oh, I’m adding this John Oliver at the end, because he’s awesome and this is a great episode and you need to watch this if you haven’t seen it yet.