A Political Passion Play in Three Acts: How to Tank Democracy for Fun and Profit

The cast of this play/story: 

This manufactured political scandal began with a small right-wing online newspaper in North Carolina called First In Freedom Daily.  Act One tracks uncovers 3 main points — that this news services (referred to as “FIFD”) is fiercely anti-abortion, they actively encourage their reader to dug up ‘hot tips’ and send them to the paper, and     

 

 

The subrosa messages to the public — politicians are an intolerant group that with little provocations and no regret “eats its young” — i.e.

In addition to the direct harm caused in this strong-armed attempt to force Gov. Northam out of office, this “off with their head” message is extraordinarily bad for the democratic process.

sends to the public No competent and sane American citizen would ever run for office if either or both our political parties casually used the tactics of McCarthy @@@@

Obviously, the photo in question is offensive and is evidence of poor judgment by all the parties involved — the school staff who decided to publish it in the yearbook and the officials of the educational institutions who officially tolerated intolerance. But the picture itself has lain dormant between the dusty pages of a small medical college for 39-plus years, and neither the picture nor Gov. Northam as directly or personally responsible for any harm or injury.

Nonetheless, it was used by our partisan political system to justify character assignation and public humiliation. 

During those four decades of public life as a pediatrician and politician, Gov. Northam has an unblemished record.  

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Both parties display the same poor judgement the beleaguered governor is being accused of. Republican operatives used devious and underhanded methods, while Democratic politicians have simply lost their minds. (details later).

The Photo

Yes, the photograph is objectionable, but still it’s just a 39-year-old photo from a dusty college yearbook dug up by right-wing operatives who gleefully used it for their own partisan purposes. The  photo in questions is similar to pictures by dozens of other students, all of whom also displayed bad judgement. 

But nobody died, no one was sexually assaulted, no acts of treason or terrorism were committed, there was no racial violence or intimidation, no one got framed for crime they didn’t commit, or swindled out of their home by a sleazy Wall Street financial institution (i.e. sub-prime lenders). 

Must remember the staff of the Eastern Virginia Medical School who were in charge of the yearbook approved its content and publication

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To paraphrase a actress from the era of silent motion pictures, Mae West once salacious remarked that “sometime a banana is just a banana”, it’s also true that sometimes a photo is just a photo. 

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The History

But yes, that photo obviously stands for historic events that for good reason are particularly disturbing to black Americans who must live forever with the realities of slavery and racism. Virtually all their ancestors and distant relative bore the bitter yoke of being legally classified as “property”, and the indignity of being counted as only 3/5ths of a ‘person’. 

Regrettably the Civil War, which was suppose to ‘free the slaves’, merely replaced private ownership of black slaves with public policies of social enslavement enforced by Jim Crow laws.  The result was a century of institutionalized bigotry, brutality, and lynchings at the hand of the KKK and other systemized atrocities! 

I live in a segregated southern state for two decades — 1957 to 1976. I saw systemised cruelty, irrational hatred, and crippling poverty up close and very personal.It made me sick-to-my-stomach then and still brings tears to my eyes today. This was an inexcusable crime against humanity that will  be a stain on our democracy until the end of time!

But Gov. Northam himself did NOT commit any of those crimes against humanity. Assuming the photo actually is of him, he is quite obviously guilty of being stupid when he was a 25-year old college student at the Eastern Virginia Medical School

EVMS’s yearbooks from that era (1960s, 70s and 80s) contain hundred of such pictures each and every year. However, Gov. Northam is the only EVMS alumni who has been singled out.  No one is even suggesting that the other graduates who were equally guilty of poor judgment be fired from their job or kicked out of their profession over 39 year old school photos. 

If indeed the People of Virginia want to recall Gov. Northam, they can petition their State Legislature to do so. In the meantime, we must collectively eschew McCarthyism, “zero-tolerance” policies (also a bad idea) and a trigger-happy, “shot-from-the-hip” style based on attempts to achieve a partisan advantage.

I invite all patriotic Americans to the high ground of civic virtue and compassion for all. 

Each of the players,

following the story

MOVE/Cut ~ Politicians and public spokesmen who should know better created a firestorm in a cracked teapot. ???

Why this ‘mountain-out-of-a-molehill’ is bad for democracy

 

The idea of ‘zero tolerance’ means that anyone who at any time, or in any aspect of their public or private live, ever, under circumstance, is less than 100% perfect will find themselves being severely punished by their school, work, church, or society as a whole. 

ANY imagined indicator of a character flaw or bad behaviour, however long ago  — real or trumped up sexual impropriety, alcohol-related issue such as a bar fight or traffic accident, and a hundred different ways to find a photo somewhere or a former acquaintance not seen for 20 or 30 years, who insists that they personally saw you do something dastardly deed.

 

 

A Three-Act Passion Play ~ How to Tank Democracy for Fun & Profit

The first act in this disturbing story begins with a North Carolina right-wing newspaper — First In Freedom Daily — that as a matter of policy urges its readers to dig up “hot tips” for their newspaper.

 

 

 

This is part of the GOP’s long-game opposition to abortion — in this case, recently passed changes in Virginia’s abortion law by their State Legislature. The First In Freedom Daily falsely portrayed this law on its website with a headline that read: “Democrats in Virginia Propose Law Allowing Abortions Mere Seconds Before Birth”.

Editorial Note: I’m not familiar with the specifics of this Virginia law, but speaking as a former labor and delivery room nurse, NOBODY and NO LAW is ever, under ANY circumstances, going to legalize performing abortions on laboring women! This is fake news at its worst.

Given the group’s abortion-related goal, digging up dirt on Virginia’s Democratic governor is obviously an effective strategy to leverage political power over the state’s democratic legislature.

In pursuit of that goal,  one or more readers of the First In Freedom Daily went to great lengths to dig up ‘dirt’ against Gov. Northam. In this case, they went through the Governor’s a 39 year-old yearbook and found a photo (more details below) of him as a 25 year-old medical school dressed in blackface.

One account of the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook also reported photos of classmates dressed up in drag, acting out during drinking parties, wrestling and other such “college boys go wild” activities. While the yearbook doesn’t say the students had been drinking lots of beer, I think we can safely assume that such a communal loss of inhibitions (and good judgement!) included alcoholic beverages in large quantities. 

To further their anti-abortion strategies by tanking the career of a talented and popular Democratic governor, the F.I.F. Daily released this photo to the relentless 24-hour cycle of cable news. Then they  and many other GOP operatives fanned the flames from this distant past in a totally out-of-proportionate reaction that was illogical, unfair and lacked common sense. 

Like McCarthy, they used a tiny isolated fact from his days as These actions were not based on a personal beef with the Gov. Northam, but as a tool to gain a partisan advantage by appealing to the GOP “base”. 

@@@ This is just as bad for our democratic process as was the McCarthyism era. @@@ at end of Dems part 

Let’s start where the contemporary story started, and examine the original motives and methods. A right-wing website called “First in Freedom Daily” is engaged in systemized muckraking in which it exhorts its readers to dig for dirt on Democratic candidates and elected officials.

The  35-year-old photo in question was taken from Gov. Northram’s 1984 college yearbook

Now let’s examine the “crime” Its true that picture itself (regardless of whether it is Gov. Northam or any another person,) is offensive, and insulting by contemporary stands and represents poor judgement by a 25 year-old college student. But it must be pointed out that a photo of two people dressed in these costumes, however inappropriate, did not directly harm or cause permanent injury to anyone during the 35 years that it sat between the pages of a college yearbook . I contrast that with the the bad judgment of college student Brett Kavanaugh and its consequences for Christine Blasey Ford

@@@ Democrats not playing the kind of long game that the GOP become the standard for Republicans in the mid-1970s.  Instead are in a reactionary mode that is lazer-focused on the 2020 presidential election; they are afraid of looking “soft” on racism, and are in race to see just how much umbriage they can take in the public statements aim to convince black and brown people that these politician are super-sensitive to their blight.

The Problematic Policy of Zero Tolerance

Unfortunately,  adopting a “zero-tolerance” policy set us as individual and as a country up to fail. One familiar example is the use of ZT in schools. Principles and teachers announce their ZT position on issues such as boys  “fighting” or touching students of opposite gender the  ‘inappropriately”.

but get interpreted a  which can be applied to ANY real of imagined indicator of a character flaw or bad behaviour — real or trumped up sexual impropriety, alcohol-related issues such as a traffic accident, and a hundred different ways to find some photo or some acquaintance you haven’t seen 20 or 30 years, who insists that he or she personally saw you did something

and the policy consequences that would naturally follow.

At one time looking for the slightest

If the Democratic Party adopts the notion that every candidate and every elected official must never have done (or do) anhth=be absoultuely 100% above re

Our federal government has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and yet the Democratic Party is actively and energetically helping a right-wing opposition research group assassinate the character (and end the political career) of a successful politician with a very good record over.

The real issue for the First in F Daily and other GOP operative is to stir up abortion-related backlash. which the same. In the case of Gov. Northam, it this search for dirt has been systemized by asking all their readers to look for and report “got-you” photos or other forms of information that can be used in what is essentially an organized scheme for policy public shaming. Here is a sceen shot from FIFD.com asking for snitches:

This ‘shot from the hip’ reaction is not only unfair to Gov. Northam (more on that in a minute), but as a political strategy, its counterproductive, as it puts our two-party system at risk. The practical effect of this hot-headed policy is to discourage ordinarly people from running for office —  because at any time someone can point the partisan equivalent of a loaded gun — a photo (true or faked) or report of an incident of some sort — and puff, your life goes down the toilet!

Only if we want the GOP to maintain a permanent stranglehold on the federal government (and the rest of country) would we support such a rash idea.

Yes, racism is bad, immoral, and results in terrible public policies that are ultimately bad for everyone. Having grown up in a segregated South, going to segregated schools, I saw the cruelty and up close and personal.

The KKK has been trafficking in unforgivable sins for a century and is an affront to a civilized society. Black-face is demeaning and offensive. But every one of us  has done things in our teens and twenties that were stupid and somethings, just plain wrong.  IF we were lucky (i.e. did not die as a result of our rank stupidity!) we lived to regret them, which is to say, we learned from them, and were smarter and better in important ways.

I currently have a 25 year-old grandson who is in medical school and can tell you that he is not sophisticated in the ways of the world. He is wrapped up in his studies and his collegial relationship with his classmates, and after a few beers, I can imagine that he and his buddies might do something stupid, that he’d regret, maybe even get him and his side-kick in trouble with the dean or the county sheriff.  Bad as that would be, I certainly would not want his entire future to be sacrificed as a result.

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shot-from-the-hip / turn politics into a constant High Noon, gunfight at the OK corral,

Dems as party of gender equity and multi-racial democracy

State Attorney General Mark Herring who released a statement Feb 6th that he also had dressed in blackface when he was in college.

(D) Pres Candidate Julian Castro when asked on Chris Hayes MSNBC show (02-06-2019) why he thought Northam should resign cited three points

  1.  that Northam was in medical school — ie. that he wasn’t 15 years old, that it was in 1984 and so was not 50 or 60 years ago (which would have been before Northam was born) most significantly,
  2. that “he did not come forward affirmatively, that someone did this research and brought this forward. If he had come forward and said “”Look I messed up and I’ve learned since then, it might have been different”‘ — those are the things that i thought about.
  3. I think maybe the most important thing, and you alluded to this, that the party is struggling through this, is that we are the party that respects everybody, and that says that everybody count** and we’re trying to live by that example. And this is part of that, this could be pain, … but I’m confident that at the end of the day not only are we going to have a strong party, but we are going to have a stronger country that lives by these values of respect for everybody”.(**ED note^ except for our candidates and elected officials, and then we shot first and don’t much bother with asking questions later i.e. Sen Al Franklin)

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Quote from Gov N: Northam told reporters that while he took responsibility for the photo shown in the yearbook, he saw it for the first time when he saw it yesterday. He said he did not purchase the yearbook and was not aware of the photo in question.

As for his inconsistency, Northam said on Saturday (Feb 2nd)  that he was able to sit down the evening before and take full stock of the photo after talking with friends of his from his medical school days.
“What has happened, I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photo in detail. It is definitely not me,” he said in response to questions.
His medical school yearbook is not the only yearbook in question, either. After the medical school photo was revealed, photos of Northam’s yearbook from Virginia Military Institute were made public and showed that one of his nicknames in college was “Coonman,” a racially insensitive moniker.

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Topic 4.

Ruthless Reality ~ Making Abortion Illegal or Unattainable as a political strategy to Win Elections:

Wealthy Women Win, Poor Women (their families and all the rest of us) Lose 

I cannot continue this part of the story without truthfully describing the actual reality of illegal abortions, facts that I lived with as an ER nurse in a busy hospital in the years before Roe v. Wade

Simply making abortion illegal and unsafe did not mean that abortions didn’t occur, just that they were dangerous illegal back-alley procedures sought out by desperate women and performed by people that didn’t know what they were doing.

Bungled abortions include unwashed hands and unsterile instruments; both drastically increase the risk of virulent infection or torrential hemorrhage that ends in death or disaster for the mother

Abortion for the Rich and Famous ~ Easy-peasy!

The first and most fundamental truth about anti-abortion laws in the US is economic, that is, wealthy and/or well-connected women have absolutely NO problem getting an unwanted pregnancy lawfully and safely terminated.   

These wealthy women just get on a plane and fly off to another state or country where abortion is lawful. That ‘choice’ also provides these economically secure women access to a well-staffed clinic or hospital and well-trained professionals who have the knowledge, skills, sterile equipment and access to emergency resources that virtually assures a safe outcome.

But the benefits of wealth are not restricted women, as the men who impregnated them directly benefit from their ability – via wealth — to have these ‘inconvenient’ problems ‘fixed’.

Newspapers often run stories about conservative Senators, Congressmen or high-ranking political operatives who quietly arranged and paid for a legal abortion for a mistress or paramore. obviously, permitting his girlfriend to give birth to his baby would create a scandal and threaten his career. So he was delighted to pony up the bucks to fly his sweetie off to someplace that for a price would quietly and safely relieve him of this burden. 

Odd thing, but in the 45 years since Roe v Wade became the law of the lan (1973), I’ve never heard a single anti-abortion activist mention this loophole for the wealthy. Nor have I heard any of them suggest passage of laws that would prohibit women of childbearing age from off flying to countries with legal abortion services unless they first provided the airline with a certified copy a negative pregnancy test performed within the previous 24 hours. 

I can only assume that millions of anti-abortion activists believe safe legal abortions are OK for wealthy women, but not for ordinary American women of limited means.  

When it comes to the not rich or famous — ordinary women of limited means — my role as an ER nurse or working in Labor & Delivery Room nurse brought me face to face with terribly disturbing things that most anti-abortion activists are unaware of or they knowingly refuse consider

For example, ER nurses can tell that a botched-abortion patient has been admitted to the unit by the putrid and fulminating smell of sepsis. At this stage of a virulent infection, the fetus would have already died. If the mother was very lucky, the only permanent damage would be irreversible infertility, as this kind of infection seals her fallopian tubes and ruins her ovaries. If unlucky, she would also die a painful and miserable death from the infection.

Funny thing, but when pregnant women die as a result of a botched abortion — whether self-induced or at the dirty hands of a back alley butcher — the UNBORN BABY ALWAYS DIES as well. For anyone who wants to save unborn fetuses, I’m here to tell you that making abortions illegal does not accomplish this goal.

Making abortion illegal or unattainable in the US, whether barriers are financial or geographical, disproportionately targets poor or very young women without an independent income. Often these are single mothers who are the family’s sole support.

This demographic cannot afford to drive or fly to another state or country to access legal and safe medical services. And for the same economic reasons, this demographic groups of women, they can least afford to lose their job due to pregnancy or the need to care for their newborn

A different but no less disturbing reality of our crazy abortion laws are the changes made to Title X some years ago by a Republican-dominated Congress 

When Title X was first passed (and signed by President Nixon) it specifically authorized medical facilities run by the US Armed Forces to provide safe abortions services to members of the military and their family. But Several years ago, the Congress amended this federal law in an “across the board”  prohibition of abortions services in any and all circumstances. It denies funding to women’s health clinics overseas if they so much as provide information to the mother about where she mother can find safe and legal services. 

This restriction also applies to military doctors and prohibits them from providing abortion services when the fetus has birth defects incompatible with life, such as anencephaly (absence of the brain). These mothers are forced choose between (a) an out-of-pocket expense over $10,000 OR (b) enduring their doomed pregnancy for 9 months, while the family lives every day with the knowledge that the baby will be stillborn, die at birth or shortly after. 

The Ultimate Nightmare

But the damage of unsafe illegal abortions is NOT strictly a problem for mothers or unborn babies. In many cases, these tragedies involve other family members, including small children, and ultimately ruins other lives. One example is provided by the first-person account of a man in his late 50s It’s a story you’ll never be able to get out of your mind

It began when this man was 7 years old and living with his mother and 15-month-old baby sister. One evening after the two children had been put to bed, his mother went into the bathroom and locked the door.

Early the next morning his baby sister woke up hungry and crying hysterically to be picked up and fed. But oddly, his mother did not come out of the bathroom to take care of her, in spite of his calling her again and again. So he got up and banged on the door and kept calling her, but she wouldn’t come out and didn’t say anything to him.

He didn’t know what was wrong or what to do next, except to give his crying baby sister a bottle. This settled her for a while, but her night diaper was soaked. He did his best to change her diaper, but he couldn’t get it to stay put. Many a grown man has failed to figure out how to get a diaper to properly cover the business-end of a wiggling infant and keep it in place while trying stick sharp pins into the fabric without harming the baby or jabbing one’s own fingers.  I can’t imagine trying to do this as a child.

But that first bottle and diaper change was only the beginning of the many problems these children faced. By the end of the day, milk carton was empty so he could no longer give a bottle to his baby sister. He tried to stop her cries by stuffing tiny morsels of different foods in her mouth, while staving off his own hunger with dry cereal and cold leftovers.

The warm sunny day gradually faded into a cold dark night. There was no heat in the house and he didn’t know how to turn the overhead lights on. The little boy did his best to take care of his baby sister, but still, he was only 7.

He was lonely, frightened, and just  couldn’t understand why his mom wouldn’t come out of the bathroom in spite of his pleading and knocking on the door. After it got pitch dark, he took his little sister to bed with him, but his inability to diaper her properly meant that both of them got wet and cold and smelled bad. It was the longest and most miserable night of his young life. 

This living nightmare melded into a long and increasingly intolerable second day. By then all the accessible food had been eaten and the children had no more dry clothes. There was no one for him to talk to, no one to comfort them, no way to know how much longer this would go on, and worst of all, no explanation for why his mother wouldn’t come out of the bathroom and take care of them like she usually did.

Had he done something to make her mad at him? Was he being punished? Even so, why wouldn’t she come out to take care of his baby sister? Surely she hadn’t done anything to deserve being neglected like this. No answers came.  

Finally a neighbor happened by late in the afternoon of the second day and found the two children all alone. The reason was soon apparently. After breaking the lock on the bathroom door, they found his mother lying dead on the floor in a dark pool of her own blood, the fatal consequences of her attempt to abort an advancing pregnancy. The brief but shocking glimpse of her partially-naked body smeared with blood and folded into a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor can never be erased from his adult mind. 

This badly traumatized little boy grew up to be a man whose life was forever haunted by this tragic experience.  Nonetheless he was willing to share the story of these horrific events with a national radio audience, hoping it would keep this awful thing from befalling other mothers and other children.

The take-home message is simple — society is obligated to be both ethical and compassionate by providing access to effective contraception and safe, legal abortion services.

The cost of the alternative is just too high — gruesome, painful and unnecessary maternal deaths and unborn fetuses and orphaned older children forced to bear the unbearable.  

Topic 5.

The Endless & Illogical Gender War to Control Female Reproductive Biology

In general, men do not bear any of the burdens associated with pregnancy — not the physicality of morning sickness, stretch marks, awkwardness, anxiety over finances and the loss of income at a time of increased expense.

Instead, many men choose a one-night fling or have affairs and then go away, leaving the impregnated woman to live every hour of every day for nine long months, endure many hours of painful labor and the hard work of pushing an eight pound baby out and then breastfeeding him or her round the clock. This is inevitably followed by shouldering near-total responsibility to feed, care for and raise the child for 18-plus years.

And yet it is men with power and influence — priests, ministers, rabbis, legislators, lawyers, judges, governors, presidents, and big donors to partisan politics — who insist that the female gender does not legally or ethically deserve to determine their own reproductive biology and or choose whether or not they are able to take on the life-long responsibilities that go along with caring for and raising a child at that time in their lives.

It always wonders me when I see a room full of men in expensive suits and fancy watches pontificating about the woman’s absolute responsibility to avoid getting pregnant, as if men played no part in the act of conception.

My eldest daughter got the man’s part in sex and reproduction exactly right when she said:

If you don’t want a baby, don’t ejaculate in the birth canal! 

End unnecessary abortions and the irrational shaming of women by putting the responsibility squarely where it begins and where it all  belongs–  with the men who are having sex.  When a man chooses to ejaculate in the birth canal, he is logically responsible if his female partner become pregnant and it is he who logically must bear the cost for caring, feeding and raising the child.

Put the blame, and shame, and the social and economic expense squarely where it belongs — the man who ejaculated in the birth canal —  and this anti-woman, anti-abortion, unethical debate being used as a political football for partisan advantage with vanish like wisps of morning fog at sunrise.  

Until then, we will continue to have a certain class of men — mostly wealthy, in positions of political power and insulated against the effects of their actions — will continue to insist that it is solely the woman’s responsibility to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

And should she fail for any reason (he refused or forgot to use a condom or it broke) and her male partner decides not to “play house”, she is illogically bound to welcome the pregnancy gracefully and without complaint, and become solely responsible for supporting and raising the child.

These same men, and many others like them, boldly insist that it is “right and proper” to pass laws that make safe abortions either illegal or inaccessible. Likewise, they insist they are doing God’s bidding by sponsoring laws that permit the criminal prosecution of women they suspect of directly or indirectly causing a miscarriage or doing something while pregnant they believe might be risky to the developing fetus.

This kind of propriety “Father/Doctor know best” thinking extends to term pregnancies when the doctor preference or hospital protocols is to perform an elective Cesarean for a supposedly ‘large’ baby, normal twin pregnancy or the mother had a previous Cesarean delivery. If she refuses this advice, the doctor or hospital attorney simply call a juvenile court judge and generally get a court order to perform the surgery without the mother’s consent.

All this is promoted by well-meaning people, as well as politicians seeking votes, and others who don’t know the real facts about unsafe abortions or just don’t care.

Nonetheless many people devote years of their life collecting and disbursing many millions of dollars in order to convince state and federal legislatures to close clinics that provide safe and legal abortion services.

This kind of “play to pay” wealth is also used to finances election campaigns that political operatives believe will bring about more favorable (i.e more restrive) abortions-related rulings by the US Supreme Court 

Apparently, they want to be sure that other 7-year olds somewhere in America become orphaned and permanently traumatized when their mothers, desperate and in dire financial straits, attempt to end an untenable pregnancy and die on the bathroom in a pool of their own blood, leaving behind their orphaned children and a bottomless sorrow.

God help America, land of dispassionate, clever, mean and heartless hoards of arrogant, uber-rich and politically influential men who have convinced themselves that they alone know what is best for girls and women.

They believe they have the final say over all female reproductive functions, thus reducing the status of women to property, with “ownership” rights in the hands of male relatives, doctors, lawyers, and judges.

But these ‘alternative facts’ are wrong. Furthermore, no self-respecting man would stand for this if the gender roles were reversed.

The Critical Missing Ingredients

This is illogical and wrong for so many reasons, but the biggest of all is that it leaves out ethical principles and the simple verbs of compassion, empathy, and tenderness.

It leaves out the Golden Rule: 

Do onto others, as ye would have them do onto to you

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Unfinished Work-N-Progress ~ Part III – A three-act play – unpacking the Gov. Northam’s story, point by point


2019 ~ Proposed Changes in Title X

  • The current Republican administration has issued new proposed regulations in the federal family planning program under Title X that would make significant changes to the program and to the types of providers that qualify for funding.
  • These proposed regulations would:

    • Block the availability of federal funds to family planning providers like Planned Parenthood that also offer abortion services;
    • Curtail counseling and referrals to abortion services by Title X funded providers;
    • Eliminate current requirements that Title X sites offer a broad range of medically approved family planning methods and non-directive pregnancy options counseling that includes information about prenatal care/delivery, adoption, and abortion; and
    • Direct new funds to faith-based and other organizations that promote fertility awareness and abstinence as methods of family planning.
  • Sites that do not offer abortion services may still qualify for Title X funds, but may decide not to participate because of concerns about clinical standards of care, medical liability, and burdensome administrative requirements.
  • If fully implemented, the proposed changes to Title X would shrink the network of participating providers and have major repercussions for low-income women across the country that rely on them for their family planning care.

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Topic 1. (of 5)

99 years of surprising facts about the political history of family planning, safe and legal abortions and women’s reproductive rights ~ 1920 to 2019 ~

Knowing our own history
is the best foundation
for the future! 

 

Before the 1980s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and access to women’s reproductive health services (including contraception and safe legal abortions services) were NOT partisan issues, except to note that historically, Republicans offered more support for the ERA, family planning, Planned Parenthood, and safe abortions services than did Democrats.

Political support for Planned Parenthood began in the 1920s, again with Republicans substantially outnumbering Democrats.

In the 1950s, notable conservatives like Barry Goldwater and his wife served on the board of their local office of Planned Parenthood, signaling that family planning was, politically speaking, a “family value“.

Legalizing access to contraception as provided by Planned Parenthood was broadly supported by both doctors and clergymen.

In 1960, Planned Parenthood’s Clergymen’s National Advisory Council issued a statement titled “The Ethics of Family Planning“. It described family planning as fulfilling “the will of God” by allowing “married couples to enjoy intercourse for the sake of love”.

When efforts to legalize abortion first began in the 1960s, it was not spearheaded by women’s rights organizations but the doctors, lawyers and clergymen that ran Planned Parenthood.

Dr Guttmacher, professor of Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Mt Sinai, President of Planned Parenthood

In 1962, Dr. Alan Guttmacher, chief of obstetrics at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC, clinical professor of obstetrics & gynecology, and member of Planned Parenthood’s medical advisory board, also became the organization’s president and launched a campaign to secure federal funding for family planning programs that served low income women.

Dr. Guttmacher also sought to liberalize abortion laws while at the same time reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies. To that end, he worked to overturn laws that prevented pharmacies from selling forms of contraception, since it was well-documented that use of these products dramatically diminished need for abortion services

In 1965, former President Eisenhower and President Truman, a Republican and a Democrat, served together as co-chair of a Planned Parenthood committee, thus signaling a bipartisan commitment to contraception.

In 1969, President Nixon asked Congress to increase federal funding for family planning. That same year, George H. W. Bush, as a member of the US House of Representatives, pressed to make

“… support for family planning a household word”.

George Bush senior was so well-known for his support of family planning that he earned the nickname “Rubbers”.  

Between 1967 and 1970, doctors, lawyers and clergymen from various faiths pressured legislators in 16 states to lift restrictions on lawful abortion services.

One of those states was California, where the new law was signed by Governor Reagan

Also in 1970, Nixon signed Title X, which included family planning services and a provision that authorized physicians on military bases, both in the US and abroad, to perform abortions. That year, Nixon publicly declared that:

“No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition”.      

In 1972 the US Supreme Court extended the legal principle of ‘privacy’ first established in the Griswold Decision from married couples to also include individuals, regardless of their gender or marital status. 

Justice Brennan, US Supreme Court

Justice Brennan wrote:

“If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to beget or bear a child.” (ref #13, These Truths -History of the United States; J. Lepore, 2018)

During the mid-1970s, the most iconic and respected names in the Republican Party, including Goldwater, Reagan, Nixonactively supported family planning services in general, and Planned Parenthood in particular, as a right of personal privacy and a demonstrated method to reduce the need for abortion services.  

To ensure the woman’s safety, Goldwater, Reagan, Nixon all recognized its necessary place in society as an ethical and legally-regulated medical service.

Topic 2.

Going Backwards: Gender-based Politics as a Partisan Strategy to Win Elections

The partisan dismantling of legal abortion began during Nixon’s first term. In 1971, senior White House adviser, speechwriter, and right-wing conservative Pat Buchanan told the president that his prospects for re-election would be improved: 

“if the President should publicly take his stand against abortion, as offensive to his own moral principles.”

Buchanan, who’d been born into an Irish Catholic family of nine and went on to be the recipient of 12 years of parochial schooling, explained to Nixon that abortion had become “a rising issue and a gut issue for Catholics“. 

Both men knew that Nixon didn’t oppose lawful abortion. Nonetheless, a week later the president jettisoned his previous support of abortion and issued a public statement that referred to his:

“personal belief in the sanctity of human life — including the life of the yet unborn.”

This strategy was carefully calculated by the Nixon Administration to deliver the entire Roman Catholic and Christian conservative voting block to him, and by extension, the Republican party.

Unfortunately the political hypocrisy of Nixon’s public statement was revealed in 1973, when he was caught on tape saying:

“There are times when abortions are necessary”, and when on to mention a pregnancy resulting from from sex between “a black and a white” (ref# 24; These Truths – A History of the United States by J. Lepore, 2018).  

Topic 3.

2019 ~ Weapons of Mass Distraction: Legal Abortion Services & Family Planning as a Political Football and other ‘wedge’ issues

Starting with President Nixon’s politically-predicated ‘moral’ rejection of legal abortion during his 1972 re-election campaign, the GOP’s official position has mirrored that of the Vatican’s.

When appealing to its far right base, some abortion restrictions promoted by the GOP are more strict than the Catholic Church’s position by not even recognizing the health of the mother as exception.

While the GOP describes its opposition to lawful abortion as based solely on morality, it uses access to abortion services as a political football and an important ‘wedge’ issue.

Whenever conservative Republicans want to distract their base from its problematic policies or politically embarrassing events, they launch one of their weapons of mass distraction“. From the GOP’s standpointthe abortion debate is one of their most convenient and effective political tools.  

But the anti-abortion issue is not the only WMD in their arsenal. When it comes to firing up anger and division as a political strategy, the GOP has a nearly endless list of topics to distract, infuriate and rile up their base. The list of WMDs is long and growing as controversial political issues evolve.

Here are a few of their favorites:

@~ Immigration, School prayer, sex outside of marriage, same-sex marriage, evolution, racial issues, guns, the 2nd Amendment, Supreme Court, voting rights, ERA, ISIS, terrorism, private schools financed by public funds, Muslims or Mexicans, LBGTQ issues, Black Lives Matter, military spending, statues of Confederate war heroes, integration, segrations.

And I didn’t even mention the best WMD of all —  climate change-global warming

The real problem for American democracy is what we are NOT talking about.

When the entire public discourse is focused on complicated or controversial issues or inconsequential distractions that can’t be solved by shouting at each other, the result is a ‘failed’ policy i.e. endlessly argument that leads nowhere.

Here is a short list out many excellent possibilities that we could and should be talking about:

@ ~ Repairing and upgrading our country’s infrastructure, actually making an immigration system that is fair and works for all of us, figuring out how to provide affordable health care, addressing the issue of expert computer systems and robots taking over the majority of American manufacturing jobs, improve our educational system, especially in low-income areas and ethnic populations, protecting civil rights and voting rights, the epidemic of mass shootings and the country’s relationship to military assault rifles

One of the most critical political issues is protecting against foreign interference in our country’s infrastructure by Russia and other hostile countries. These international “bad actors” can use cyber-terrorism anytime they please to shut down our electrical grid, water and sewer systems, airports, etc., resulting in transportation tie-ups and water and food shortages that would quickly wreck our economy. This should be a priority for our federal government.    

Understanding the conservative-liberal dichotomy:

In order to guard our democratic process, we need to understand the biology-based psychological differences built into the human species. 

Throughout history and all over the globe, this binary difference in perspective and temperament btw individuals naturally falls into one of two camps — traditionalists/conservative and progressives/liberals. The strengths and weakness of each social group, and how they interact with each other, directly influences how societies organize themselves, function, and whether they succeed in the long run.

This is true of all human groups, regardless of age, gender, social or economic status, or number of people involved. Even a group of just 5 or 6 people naturally split into two affinity groups as they socialize and discover that they have more in common with some people and less with others. Like gravitates to like. If you don’t believe me, hold a dinner party or kids birthday party and see for yourself.  

The largest group are traditionalists/conservatives, who honor our history and traditional values and methods, and actively work to see that neither are not forgotten. We need these people.

Liberals/progressives/futurists are a numerically smaller group are who are looking forward and ever inventing better or differently ways to do things. We also need these people.

Both ways of looking at and relating to the world are legitimate, both are necessary to a stable society, both support a fair and functional government, as the temperament and character traits of members of each group blend and balance the other in a win-win solution. Healthy, stable and economically secure societies embrace both.

When Americans decide to make others Americans into the enemies of America: 

At the end of WWII, Americans naturally focused a great deal of anxiety on Russian communism and the threat of Soviet aggression. 

But the passage of two-plus decades without Soviet aggression against the US helped build American confidence in the effectiveness of our military. Also it was common knowledge that communism in the USSR had devolved into a failed economy during the 25 year since WWII ended. 

While the Soviet Union’s  nuclear weapons remained a formidable threat, the Russian people regularly suffered from public food shortages, breadlines, and being forced to live in cramped, colorless and soulless Soviet apartment complexes that by American architectural were beyond patheticThe reputation of USSR went from the fiercest of foes to being the brunt of jokes in Western Europe and the US. 

Hundreds of Soviet Tanks mothballed in a dusty Russian warehouse outside of Moscow

Taken together, this helped dial back our country’s paranoia over the Soviet Union and the terrifying likelihood that Russia would invade or triggered nuclear war with the US.

Exchanging a Cold War with the USSR for an internal civil war by the GOP against Democrats & the federal government  

For 25-plus years, the GOP had used the fight against global communism as a reliably way to galvanize their Republican  constitutes. But by the 1970s, the GOP could no longer depend on talking points about Russian communism to effectively mobilize their base.

As the threat of communist Russia continued to wane with each passing year, the neo-conservative branch of the GOP concluded that a new ‘enemy of the People’ would be politically advantageous. 

This sent GOP operatives shopping for a suitable enemy to take the place of communism and the USSR, something home grown in the American political landscape that could reliably organize and galvanize their constitutes and maybe even broaden the GOP’s base of loyal voters.  

Wealthy right-wing conservatives choose the ‘enemy’ that they least understood and most feared: the low and lower-middle class liberals who made up the bulk of America’s “working class” AND the bulk of the Democratic party. To accomplish this trick with smoke and mirrors, they portrayed all progressive liberalism as morally corrupt, and claimed that unpatriotic Americans of a despicable character were carrying out the Democrats’ plan to destroy capitalism and ruin our country!

In addition to its general opposition the Democratic party, the GOP’s list of irreconcilable differences included the historic fight over the ‘appropriate’ size of the federal government. Neocons claimed that progressive independents and “tax & spend” liberal democrats were pinko-commie socialists. Should they take control of the Congress or White House, they planned to endlessly expand the federal government.

The GOP described this as ‘hand-outs’ for the undeserving that included welfare payments, extending unemployment coverage, freely disbursing surplus government food, assistance with college tuition, and free or low-cost family planning services. Hated most of all was the mere mention of “socialized” medicine, which would make healthcare and hospital services available to low-income families. 

Conservative Republicans warned that if Democrats were elected to Congress, their new social programs would trump FDR’s “new Deal” by orders of magnitude, while their fiscal irresponsibility would bankrupt the country. At the same time, the GOP operatives portrayed their right-wing conservatives as rejecting the idea of government handouts based on their strong belief in self-sufficiency for anyone who fell on hard times.

Small is Beautiful: These same rational and responsible Republican voters wisely supported a much smaller federal government such defined by the GOP. According to them, the right-size for our federal government would be restricted to maintenance of the United States military and a federalized border security force, plus modest funding for Congress, the executive branch and Supreme court.  

Decades later, the GOP’s anti-big government message would be boiled down to the idea of:

“a federal government so small you could flush it down the toilet“.

This remark was made slightly less disgusting by changing the punch line to: drown it in the bathtub“. 

Applying this pro-conservatism/anti-liberal metric was exceedingly straightforward — just be against anything the hated liberals/Democrats were for. 

The Nixon White House and Democrats as the New American Enemy: According to the Nixon Administration’s right-wing neocons, progressive-liberalism was the single biggest threat to democracy, worse and more devastating than communism or the threat of nuclear war. However, audio tapes and historical documents from the Nixon White House  give us a different perspective about the motives behind these beliefs.

Behind closed doors, members of the Nixon’s Cabinet, in particular Attorney General Mitchell, frequently expressed a belief that the Democratic Party, as a bastion of bastard liberals, was a lethal threat to our country.

The consensus of opinion by the Nixon Administration was that Republicans, and only Republicans, could ever be trusted to run the government of the United States and therefore ONLY Republican politicians should be elected for federal office. A handful of Nixon’s close confidants believed themselves to be trustworthy Americans acting solely in the public interest and believed they had a moral (if not constitutional) duty to make sure that America never elected another Democrat to the White House, no matter the methods required or cost. 

The privately articulated goal for the GOP was a permanent Republican presidency and majority Republican control of the Congress and Supreme Court. While these individuals did not use these exact words, they were describing an ipso-facto a one-party government.  Unfortunately for America, this is a singularly undemocratic form of governance, as well as unconstitutional. (ref: American AmnesiaHow the War on the Federal Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper; chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10; Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson) 

Industrial-strength Hate: In pursuit of this problematic goal, they proclaimed that all ‘good Christians/patriotic Americans’ had a duty to reject what the GOP described as vile liberal ideas and likewise to hate all the people and political parties associated with those ideas. 

Luckily for these GOP neocons (but not for the country), their plan to spread their political brand of conservative white male-dominated intolerance coincided with a technological leap forward in telecommunications beginning in the early 1980s. This provided them with cheap, round-the-clock access to cable news that was piped into virtually every house in America 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In addition, the 1949 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ‘fairness’ doctrine was revoked in 1987. Originally this regulation required broadcasters to provide a “reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance”  base on the premise that we Americans communally owned the airways. 

As part of the public domain, radio and television stations were required to purchase and regularly renew their FCC licenses and to meet certain criteria. When broadcasting news programs and reporting on political and other controversial issues, they had a legal obligation to present a fair and balanced view in its news programs.  

However, the fairness doctrine was overturned in 1987 during the Reagan Administration. This ‘perfect storm’ provided the GOP with unprecedented and unparalleled ability to influence the psyche of the American public thru the airways.

Now they could publicize the GOP brand almost for free. Even more important, they we able to systematically spread their hyper-partisan message of intolerance by creating and packaging a powerful new propaganda tool that was uncommonly effective.

The simple idea was that all God-fearing Republicans were honor bound to fight against anything the hated liberals/Democrats were for.  This matched perfectly with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign.

For the small businesses and big corporations that owned local and national television and cable news stations, this was also extraordinarily profitable. Wealthy individuals and big corporate donors seemed happy to plow a significant portion of those profits back into GOP coffers, giving conservative neocoms even more ability to control their message and promote their partisan agendas far and wide. 

By the first year of the 21st century, the worldwide web and it’s super fast, super smart search engines amped up electronic media and communications to unprecedented levels. This made the business of reporting and distributing news almost as revolutionary as the space program’s first moon-landing and its “One Great Step for Mankind”.

All these serendipitous events together provided the GOP with a cart blanc access to cable television and interactive websites. Unfortunately, the message they broadcast was frequently (but not exclusively) an endless stream of outrageous partisan half-truth and whole lies and what I must describe as “hate speech”. Decades of this driving emotional energy turned the GOP, as an arm of partisan politics in the US, into a political religion based on the ideological agenda of the of Grand Old Party

When partisan politics become a religion, people no longer describe carefully listening to candidates and politicians, deliberating on what they said and then concluding that one particular candidate or policies of one party were the better choice based on the merits of their positions.  When partisan politics is a religion, its adherents “believe” in their party’s candidate or the party’s policies with religious fervor, loyalty, and unquestioning acceptance of ideologies taught by the leadership.

When partisan politics functions as a religion, its leaders claim to be infallibile ‘authorities’ who know and understand better than anyone else. This means its adherents dare not question its doctrines and dogma. For the faithful followers of a political religion, non-believers are infidels, which in turn justifies systemized intolerance

 

A Partisan Civil War: The result of all this is a religious war between the two halves of “We The People” — conservatives & traditionalists versus liberals & progressives. Obviously this has disastrous results for our democratic process and our way of life. 

New Political Parties for the 21st Century  ~ Conservative Liberals and Liberal conservatives

I’d address this conundrum by introducing a new and very helpful way to view our political affiliations in the context of binary human temperaments — the two new categories of “conservative liberal and “liberal conservative”.

Personally, I describe myself as an Eisenhower Republican-Independent-democratic with a lower-case “d” who uses a balances a blend of conservative and progressive principles. 

 

Back to Gov. Northam & call for his resignation as ‘collateral damage’ in the GOP’s political strategy to make abortions illegal and unsafe as a way to win elections 

Obviously the GOP’s abortion-related strategy has been running in the background for 50 years.

Calls in 2019 for Gov. Northam’s resignation was just part of the GOP’s long-game, abortion-related strategy. For sure, it was not based on the content of his yearbook. However, the yearbook provided a golden opportunity to turn an old photo of two unrecognizable people in blackface and a KKK costume into something the GOP could whip into a political frenzy and get strategic leg-up.

This plan was greatly helped by a North Carolina right-wing newspaper: First In Freedom Daily. The FIFD website regularly denounces all legalization of safe abortion and is not shy about its use of fake news/alternative facts. 

But even more useful to the GOP, was FIFD policy that promoted the use its internet platform as a systematic opportunity solicit ‘hot tips’ from readers and loyal fans. 

The banner below was used many different times in each of the FIFD’s daily publications:

 

The FIFD was specifically interested in collecting defamatory information on Democratic politicians that might help the GOP derail a Virginia abortion bill being voted on in State’s Legislature. Going after Gov. Northam was just part of their bigger, anti-abortion strategy. It’s far more accurate to see the call for the governor’s resignation as mere as “collateral damage” than to think he was a primary target.    

The headline in FIFD’s story about the Virginia abortion bill said:

Democrats in Virginia Propose Law Allowing Abortions Mere Seconds Before Birth”.

Did you notice the “… Mere Seconds Before Birth”?  This is not an ‘alternative fact’, but fake news at its very worst.

As a former labor and delivery room nurse, I can assure you that NO professional healthcare provider, and NO LAWS will ever, under ANY circumstances, authorize medical providers to perform abortions on laboring women or women whose unborn babies are able to survive outside the womb.

Viability is defined as 24 or more completed weeks of pregnancy. To do otherwise would be considered infanticide and is both immoral and illegal. The full length of gestation is 40 weeks. 

This headline and the GOP’s opposition to legal abortion has nothing to do with the issue of family planning and access to safe, affordable and lawfully-performed abortions prior to 24 weeks gestation. 


Click here for Topics 4 and 5 — Ruthless Reality ~ Making Abortion Illegal or Unattainable as a political strategy to Win Elections, The Ultimate Nightmare, Endless Gender War, & copy of proposed changes to Title X

@@@

off with their head / Just the facts 


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