Archive

March 5th, 2016

Goodbye Safe And Legal

    It had been my intention to continue recognition of March as Women' History Month by resurrecting the stories of some of the forgotten women of history; however, all the attention on this week's hearing at the Supreme Court on Texas' abortion clinics cannot be ignored. That too is the history of women in this nation.

    Lest you have forgotten, three years ago Texas legislator Wendy Davis did a thirteen hour filerbuster in opposition to Texas HB2 designed to eliminate women's access to abortions in the state. It is that legislation with numerous burdensome requirements of no medical legitimacy whatsoever - passed despite Ms. Davis heroic efforts - that is now before the Supreme Court.

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All right, then, Mitch; the people will have their say

    Like blowing out that last birthday candle, Mitch McConnell is going to get his wish.

    For the remainder of 2016, no one will occupy the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. No concession will be made to a lame-duck president. That nominee won't get a sniff of a hearing room.

    Such joyous Republican news comes with an advisory, however:

    Enjoy the cake, the balloons and the party hats, Mr. Senate Majority Leader, because in your revelry and obstinacy you increase the odds that when a new year dawns we'll address you as Mr. Senate Minority Leader.

    Meanwhile, on another significant political front, your latest gambit (Sen. Harry Reid terms it "obstruction on steroids") is going to help more Americans understand why they need an experienced consensus-seeker rather than a hotel-suite bomb-thrower for president.

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Why Catholics should be grateful for 'Spotlight' and the media's exposing abuses within the church

    A new film serves as a painful reminder of one of the darkest periods in Catholic Church history, where more than 200 priests and religious were accused of abusing minors and were reassigned in a cover-up.

    "Spotlight," which won Best Picture at the Oscar's Sunday night, chronicles the Boston Globe's groundbreaking coverage of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston that would go on to win the paper a Pulitzer Prize in 2003.

    Reflecting on the 10-year anniversary of the Globe's revelations, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that "the media helped make our Church safer for children by raising up the issue of clergy sexual abuse and forcing us to deal with it." (Editor's note: The Globe's editor at the time was Martin Baron, now executive editor of The Washington Post.)

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Trump's promises don't hold up to fact-checking

    A powerful force driving Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the presidential race is the frustration of grass-roots voters that politicians in Washington haven't kept their promises.

    Democrats, though still high on President Barack Obama, are upset about an economic recovery that benefited Wall Street more than Main Street, top executives more than workers.

    The anger is more palpable among Republican voters, who ushered in big congressional majorities for the party, expecting to end Obamacare, reduce the size of government, cut taxes and bolster national security. None of it happened.

    With that track record of broken promises and with Trump emerging as the likely Republican presidential nominee, it's good to look at his prominent promises and the critiques:

 

    -- National Security

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The technology at the heart of the Apple-FBI debate, explained

    What if the FBI could force Samsung to covertly turn on the video camera in your smart TV? Or force Google to deliver a malicious security update to your web browser which actually spied on you and transmitted your passwords and other sensitive information back to the FBI? Sound like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie? If Apple loses its high-profile legal fight with the U.S. government, these scenarios could become a reality. This will also threaten the security of all Internet users.

    Until relatively recently, consumers were often nagged to look for and download software updates. This is something that many of us didn't do, promptly, or often, at all. As a result, many people ran out-of-date, insecure software, leaving them unnecessarily vulnerable to cyber attacks and computer viruses.

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The Republicans' boulevard of broken dreams

    Admittedly, the Republican Party has difficulty arriving at a consensus these days. But conservatives are getting pretty close to one on the matter of who bears responsibility for the party's riotous Donald Trump fiasco. They have met the enemy, and, sure enough, it's them.

    "The Republican Party created Donald Trump," said former RedState blogger Erick Erickson, "because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them."

    Veteran activist L. Brent Bozell III was all over that argument back in April 2015. "Republicans promised conservatives the moon in 2014 and have given us the shaft throughout 2015," Bozell wrote.

    Ratcheting up the culpability, the conservative Washington Times wrote that Republican leaders not only "made promises they couldn't keep," but that they "had no intention of trying to keep."

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Texas abortion case tests Kennedy's commitment

    With a new Supreme Court balance somewhere on the horizon, the end is coming for Justice Anthony Kennedy's dominance of the court. The abortion case Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt may be his swan song, and his last chance to leave a long-term impact on abortion rights.

    That's hugely significant for the case that'll be argued Wednesday. The fate of Texas's restrictive abortion laws turns on the interpretation of the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And Casey was the case in which Kennedy first formulated the vision of autonomy and dignity that led him to become a pioneer of constitutional rights for gay people. Casey is the heart of Kennedy's legacy -- and he'll want to preserve it.

    It may be hard to remember the politics of a decision from almost 25 years ago. It was the first opportunity for the five justices appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to revisit Roe v. Wade. Reagan had benefited from opposition to the landmark abortion-rights decision, and was on the record as opposing abortion on demand. It seemed conceivable at the time that the court would flatly reverse Roe.

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Sanders has some thinking to do after Clinton regains momentum

    The Democratic calendar finally reached a good Hillary Clinton state on Saturday, and wow did she take advantage of it.

    She was expected to win big. Nate Silver projected that if the national race was a tie between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, she would win in South Carolina by about 20 percentage points. Instead, she romped by far more - as I write this, she's taking over 70 percent of the vote.

    The bottom line is that Sanders still hasn't found any way to appeal to black voters, who made up a large percentage of Democratic turnout. Without them no candidate can compete for a Democratic presidential nomination. The exit polls in South Carolina project Sanders lost the black vote by some 70 percentage points. That not only doomed him today, but also it dooms him in far too many states to have any serious chance of being nominated.

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Police officers are killed dealing with domestic violence and other problems we ignore

    The risks are real and the threats are much more complex than most people want to acknowledge.

    Every time cops like Ashley Guindon put on their badges and head out to work, the criminals they encounter are only one small part of their difficult, dangerous jobs.

    Nearly 1 million men and women in blue put their lives in jeopardy every day because they are too often the ones fighting the war on so many social issues that the rest of the nation refuses to properly address: domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, poverty and gun control.

    This was how Guindon - a 28-year-old Marine Corps Reserve veteran, double-degree college graduate in aeronautics and forensics, and newly sworn-in police officer - was killed Saturday on her first shift as a Prince William County, Virginia, police officer.

    She was an ideal rookie - smart, tough, well-educated and with enough opportunity in other career fields that a life on the beat had to be chosen out of conviction and passion for the work.

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From Mussolini's slogan to Trump's soundbite

    Donald Trump is getting lots of flak for allegedly retweeting a Benito Mussolini quote -- after a Gawker journalist set an elaborate Twitter trap for him. The joke is on the mastermind of the sting operation: The phrase "It's better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep" did not in fact originate with the Italian dictator.

    Trump's anti-intellectualism is so in-your-face that people who consider themselves intellectuals are affronted. They like to fact-check Trump to show how ignorant he is. When during a recent campaign appearance in South Carolina Trump told an apocryphal story of Gen. Jack Pershing executing Muslim rebels in the Philippines with bullets soaked in pig's blood, rebuttals were all over the media and social networks.

    This time around, however, the story everywhere, from The New York Times to the BBC, and even in Italian papers, is that Trump tweeted a Mussolini quote: "@ilduce2016: "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep." - @realDonaldTrump #MakeAmericaGreatAgain"

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