Republicans and their standard-bearer President are stepping up the pace of hate in political campaigns from coast-to-coast. Buying into their rhetoric means buying into the belief Republican candidates are the only thing standing between the ‘good people’ of the United States and mob rule.
Crusades against the ‘other’ aren’t just limited to political rallies. The administration’s bureaucracy is also doing its part.
Transgender people learned what’s in store for them on Sunday, via an article in the New York Times, which disclosed a memo seeking to reverse the Obama administration’s more fluid recognition of gender identity.
A new legal definition of sex under Title IX, the law banning gender discrimination in education programs that receive government funding would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who recognize themselves as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
The Trump administration has sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military and has legally challenged their civil rights protections embedded in the Affordable Care Act. They announced in March 2017 the removal of questions regarding gender and sexual identity in the 2020 census.
From Teen Vogue, a publication whose relevancy continues to increase under the Trump administration:
According to The New York Times, DHHS has sent out a memo that outlined plans to decide on a government-mandated definition of gender. In the memo, the agency argues that one’s gender should be “clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Moreover, the memo argues that sex and gender are the same thing (they are not), and that the latter can be determined before or at the birth of a child. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” it claims. (The distinction that gender and sex are different is recognized by groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose recommendations on gender and identity counter the claims of the memo, and are based in science.)
The Atlantic’s analysis pointed out that, in trying to create a binary federal registry of genitals, the government was using pseudo-science to deny reality:
Much is being made of the proposed policy’s relevance to the 1.4 million Americans who identify as transgender, as the Times story did, reporting that the proposal is an eye to “defining transgender out of existence” and prompted in part by “pro-transgender court decisions.” The implications go beyond this, even. There is also the scientific implausibility and fundamental impossibility of imposing such a definition. Just as it’s overly simplistic for a government to define all people based purely on chromosomes or physical appearance, many genotypic and phenotypic varieties exist outside of the proposed binary.
The agency proposes to define gender “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” Which would indeed be ideal at a bureaucratic level. Even looking no further than the maternity ward or doula’s chambers, though, human biology does not abide by the rules laid out for us in sixth grade.
Though they have long been anathema to talk about, there are many thousands of variables that affect gestation and fetal development—some influenced by epigenetic factors generations before conception—that lead to a spectrum of outcomes for any given infant.
People in the transgender community have expressed fear and outrage at the proposal, and are urging allies to rally in support of trans people and against the continued marginalization and dehumanization of trans people. The hashtag #WontBeErased is being used on social media.
Two developments in recent days attest to the Trump administration’s direction on women’s reproductive health.
While much is made of the right-wing campaigns seeking to criminalize or eliminate abortion, it’s important to understand that the other component of the theocratic approach to sexuality is limiting birth control.
Courthouse News reports the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to lift a nationwide preliminary injunction of federal rules to expand employer exemptions for contraception coverage on religious and moral grounds.
Meanwhile, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfeld, a George H.W. Bush appointee, indicated he would toss the injunction primarily based on standing. He said individual women, not the states in which they live, have standing because the women are “the ones directly affected.”
“The basic premise of standing here is if the feds don’t make the insurance companies pay, ‘we [the states] will have to pay, and it will cost us money,’” Kleinfeld said.
“I’m not sure I understand just why the states have to provide contraceptives for women,” he continued. “If the states don’t have to provide contraceptives for women who don’t get the money from someplace else, I don’t think there would be standing, so why does California have to provide the money for contraceptives for women if the insurance companies compelled by the feds don’t?”
California Justice Department attorney Karli Eisenberg explained state programs providing contraception coverage for those who don’t otherwise have access to it had been in place “long before” the Trump administration’s new rules.
“So what?” Kleinfeld retorted.
Administration plans for new regulations similar to those being challenged in court to expand religious and moral exemptions for covering birth control in employer health insurance plans were reported in Friday’s Washington Post.
The birth control rules are part of a broader effort by conservatives inside and outside of the White House to prioritize what they call religious liberty.
The argument about women being able to get birth control through means other than insurance is undercut by the campaign to defund the agencies who might provide such assistance.
Rewire News pointed out the overlap between advocates of this particular brand of “religious liberty” and white supremacists on the heels of the administration’s first attempt to roll back women’s health mandates:
A coalition of white supremacists and right-wing evangelical Christians have come together to bring about the Trump administration’s new rules. The optics tell the whole story: President Trump delegated to the Freedom Caucus, an all-white group of mostly evangelical Christian men, to develop the administration’s policy on women’s reproductive care coverage. Leaving no doubt that white Christian evangelicals had captured the White House policy shop, in March, for example, this group sat around a table drafting new policy on maternity care coverage without apparently including a single woman or person of color. This was despite the fact that these deliberations would drastically reduce the basic health care benefits women, especially women of color, would be entitled to under federal law. Moreover, when Trump first took office, the group gave President Trump a regulatory wish list that included the demand the president find a way to weaken, if not eliminate, the contraceptive mandate specifically.
The prospect of an immigrant “invasion” is now front and center as part of the right’s campaign of fear leading up to the election.
There is, in fact, a caravan of refugees from Central American making its way through Mexico. How far they’ll get is an unanswered question. Coverage of the migration has shown no indications of people with weapons or violent intent. None-the-less, the President is proposing the federalize the national guard to stop the “invasion.”
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz shared a video on social media last week purporting to show refugees be paid with money provided by billionaire George Soros. The President retweeted the video. To nobody’s surprise, it now turns out the video showed no such thing; it was attributed to the wrong country.
Soros and his charitable foundations had nothing to do with either the caravan or any money being handed out, according to the New York Times. The Greek millionaire’s name has been invoked frequently by anti-semitic politicians since he funded pro-democracy movements in the countries once dominated by the Soviet Union.
Oh, and speaking of anti-semitism, the new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” under the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights is poised to take up a South Carolina foster home’s claim asserting that it’s allowed to discriminate against Jews and non-Christians. The case will test whether it’s federally legal to discriminate based on religious doctrine.
The Guardian has a story today about a survey documenting 80 Republican campaigns for elected office over the past two years using anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Included in the story are the inflammatory ads targeting Ammar Campa-Najjar in his race for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s seat, and the Democratic candidate, Abigail Spanberger, for her work as a substitute teacher at a Saudi-funded Islamic school in northern Virginia.
“What is Abigail Spanberger hiding?” the narrator asks in a TV ad funded by the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with the House speaker, Paul Ryan. “Spanberger doesn’t want us to know that she taught at an Islamic school nicknamed Terror High, a terrorist breeding ground.”
Spanberger taught at the school from 2002 to 2003, while awaiting a security clearance to work at the CIA. She disclosed this and was granted two federal security clearances and dispatched to fight terrorism overseas.
The good news is that these campaigns mostly haven’t been successful:
Of the 80 anti-Muslim candidates identified in the research, only 11–14% – were elected or are safely projected to win in November.
The bad news is these ads serve to inflame bigotry and discrimination.
I am really pissed about missing all the riots we’ve supposedly been having lately in California. After all, who doesn’t enjoy smashing a few storefront windows in the name of racism?
Seriously, here are some low points from Trump’s campaign swing through Nevada over the weekend, via the Politico California Newsletter:
— “Trump lies that California residents are ‘rioting’ in protest of sanctuary city immigration laws: “They’re rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.”
— “Trump claims that, in California, “illegal immigrants want to take over the control of the board that runs a town. All illegal immigrants. You know, you would think they’re kidding.” Brown vetoed a bill to allow illegal immigrants on boards.
— “Trump calls Rep. Maxine Waters, a black woman, “a low-IQ individual.” She’s the only Democratic House non-leader he regularly disparages at his red-state rallies.
Normally this stuff is printed on anonymous, deniable flyers and thrust under minority voters’ doors in the dead of night https://t.co/1K2SI1wyxT
— David Frum (@davidfrum) October 21, 2018
Folks, you know the cure for what ails this country: vote. And make sure everybody you know votes also.
The San Diego Free Press General Election Progressive Voter Guide, features websites, social media links plus more than three dozen candidate endorsements, along with yea or nay on 23 state, county, and city propositions. Don’t vote without it. For those of you with burning questions about the judges on your ballots: An Explainer on Electing Judges in California, including suggestions. If you want to know who and what will be on the ballot you’re going to cast: View your sample ballot here by plugging in your address.
How bad is Rand Paul at being a Senator?
He is so bad that he demanded to have the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia recalled and brought back to the United States.
There is no US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Do. Your. Damn. Job. You. Fucking. Clown.
You should know this.
— YS (@NYinLA2121) October 20, 2018
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