Republican Party

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

The Conservative MPs Trying to Follow the US in Cutting Abortion Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/06/2022 - 6:00pm in

A chunk of Boris Johnson's party – including some of his own ministers – want to turn the clock back on women's abortion rights

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

The overturning of the constitutional right to abortion in the United States has led some to suggest that the same could never happen in the UK. However, while those wishing to restrict women's right to safe and legal abortions in Britain are in a small minority among the public, they retain plenty of influence inside the Government.

Last week, a total of 61 Conservative MPs voted against the Government's plans to extend abortion access in Northern Ireland, with a further 190 not recording a vote.

Among the number voting against the measure were several ministers, including the Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg. He has previously said that he is "completely opposed" to women having the right to abortion, including in the cases of rape or incest. He is also patron of the anti-abortion organisation Right to Life.

Most alarmingly, he was joined by Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, another Right to Life patron, who is also the Government's Women's Health Minister. Caulfield has previously been accused of making "baseless claims" about the issue after she used an interview to call for the Government to reduce the upper time limit on abortions.

Tory MP Scott Benton, who was recently made a parliamentary private secretary at the Foreign Office, was also among their number. In the aftermath of the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, Benton shared a tweet from the US Republican Party, with the caption "Life Wins".

Another Conservative MP on the list was Danny Kruger, who previously worked for David Cameron's speechwriter and was Boris Johnson's political secretary. In a parliamentary debate on the Supreme Court's decision, Kruger said that politicians in Britain should not "lecture" the US about abortion rights and said that he disagreed with those who "think that women have an absolute right to bodily autonomy in this matter".

The Prime Minister himself has said he is opposed to changing the law on abortion and described recent developments in the US as a "backwards step". However, support for limiting access to abortion in the UK within the Conservative Party is likely to be significantly broader than the 61 MPs who explicitly opposed extending abortion access in Northern Ireland.

One person who previously led the fight to mobilise opposition to abortion rights within the party is Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – who did not take part in last week's vote. She has previously had strong links to fundamentalist Christian groups, such as Christian Concern and the World Congress of Families, while the Conservatives were in opposition. She also continued to campaign on the issue once David Cameron became Prime Minister.

In 2011 she claimed that 90% of Conservative backbenchers supported reducing access to abortion. Her 2008 attempt to reduce the upper time limit for abortion was supported by all but one of the then Conservative frontbench, including future Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Hunt, who has been vocal about his leadership ambitions, has said that he believes that abortion should only be available up to 12 weeks.

SUBSCRIBE TO FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM FOR AS LITTLE AS £3 A MONTH

Backbench and pressure group lobbying on the issue may have continued to have an impact on government policy.

In 2018, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid rejected calls to place 'buffer zones' around abortion clinics as being disproportionate – despite the Government's own review into the issue finding evidence of harassment of women outside dozens of abortion clinics.

Leading the charge against buffer zones was the backbench MP Fiona Bruce, who has repeatedly tabled bills designed to restrict access abortion. These include attempts to ban sex selective abortion; and to exclude cleft lip, cleft palate and clubfoot as qualifying physical abnormalities for the purposes of medical termination of pregnancy. Bruce has links to the US anti-abortion movement through ADF International – the European arm of the Arizona-based religious freedom giant Alliance Defending Freedom.

The ADF has been instrumental in fighting against women's reproductive rights through the US courts, including a ban on buffer zones and on so-called 'partial birth abortion'. In 2019, Bruce spoke at ADF International's youth conference, with the organisation paying for her expenses. The group's London office receives a yearly grant from the US parent organisation.

Bruce is not the only Conservative MP with links to the US anti-abortion movement. Many leading Conservatives have spoken at the radical-right think tank, the Heritage Foundation – including former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and former Conservative Party Co-Chairman and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

The organisation welcomed the overruling of Roe v Wade, saying that it would give the American people "the power to fix America’s extreme abortion laws".

The Government also remains opposed to formalising women's rights to seek an abortion. Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab ruled out enshrining the right to abortion in the Government's new Bill of Rights Bill – saying that it is an "issue of conscience" and there is not "a strong case for change".

Should the Conservative Party decide to follow its ideological cousins in the US Republican Party and seek to restrict abortion rights in the UK, it is likely that they would meet with strong public resistance. Recent polling by YouGov shows that around 85% of the public believe that women should have the right to an abortion, compared to just 5% who disagree.

However, with the Conservative Party still containing significant numbers of MPs who want to restrict abortion rights – and with the Government opposing moves to enshrine the right to abortion in the UK – it still remains possible that the UK could one day follow the US down a similar path.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

Lessons from American Progressives: Ro Khanna, Sanders Presidential Campaigner with a Broader Reach

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/06/2022 - 9:06pm in

Larry Cohen profiles the US Democratic Representative for California who, despite representing arguably the wealthiest place on Earth, is focused on appealing to working America

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

The United States is heading towards a full-scale showdown with a nativist, supremacist minority entrenching its power. The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade is just one part of the mobilisation underway in a rigged democracy.

The majority – represented in 2020 by the seven million more votes Joe Biden won than Donald Trump – may be crushed because the system is so undemocratic. If it is, it will also be because Biden has failed to mobilise his supporters, deliver where he could have, and express convincing anger when he has been frustrated. 

A new factor is also driving down his support: devastating inflation. People have more jobs than ever but, when they have to drive to work, the price of gas may decide their vote – or the price of milk, up 38% since 2019. When it comes to inflation, Biden also seems unable to convince Americans that he is leading the fightback.

At the beginning of this month, in the coveted, prime editorial opinion space of The New York Times, the Democratic Representative for California, Ro Khanna, proposed an “all-out mobilisation, not just a few ad hoc initiatives”.

His conclusion used a language missing from the official opposition in the UK as much as in the US. “There is no patience for incrementalism or political spin about economic numbers in these times," he said. "Democrats can’t just blame the Republicans for lacking a plan. People elected us to solve problems. We told them that government could improve their lives and they want to see tangible action, movement and energy out of Washington. Let’s reject the orthodoxy that makes us timid and dilatory about government intervention and show that our government is still capable of decisive action when it comes to both demand and supply.”

Denouncing a Supreme Court that proclaims US state governments cannot forbid people from carrying concealed weapons but may forbid a woman’s right to choose, Khanna is also capable of voting where his mouth is. Most recently he was the only member of the House Armed Services Committee to oppose adding $37 billion to the defence budget of $773 billion the President requested. 

His record makes Khanna a leading member of the new generation of serious US progressives that are becoming the voice of besieged majority – now fighting for democracy across America. Another is Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, who led the impeachment of Donald Trump, recently profiled in Byline Times by Katrina vanden Heuval. The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, Democrat Pramila Jayapal, is also among them. All three are rooted in the real majority on which, I believe, our futures in Europe as well America depends.  

Aged 45, Democratic Representative Ro Khanna is an outstanding example of the middle generation of US progressives and a politician worth watching as the United States struggles with overcoming Donald Trump and his legacy.

A complex problem-solver – pragmatic more than ideological – Khanna is willing to align with grassroots groups, from environmental to community and labour. 

Born in Pennsylvania, the son of immigrant Indian-American parents – with a grandfather who went to prison with Gandhi – he identifies with and supports communities of colour while also optimistically believing in the promise and potential of a multicultural America.  

The path for social change in the US begins in the House of Representatives and, within the House, with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Led by Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, the caucus is home to Democrats intent on serious, realistic change and its growth arguably provides the best, if not only, path to move the progressive agenda.

For five years, Khanna has focused on the needs of working class families and, as deputy caucus whip, on building a stronger CPC.  

This might seem surprising given his district includes California’s Silicon Valley. As he has observed, the companies registered there have a market value of $11 trillion, making it the wealthiest place on Earth. Yet, he is capable of challenging the tech giants. He demands Government policies that ensure their investments benefit all Americans. And, as his recent book Dignity in a Digital Age demonstrates, he has an exceptional grasp of the issues posed by new technology for democracy as well as employment. 

Before his election in 2016, Khanna worked in the Obama's Department of Commerce and focused on rebuilding America’s manufacturing base. In his book, Khanna argues that we must rebalance wealth and opportunity beyond the coasts to include the forgotten communities across the nation. Abandonment of these communities by government and investors has fuelled the rise of right-wing Trump authoritarianism and Khanna forcefully argues that innovative investment in rural and mid-America should be unleashed.

In a recent trip to Galesburg, Illinois, Khanna first addressed Monmouth College on the need to invest in Midwest manufacturing, and then spoke to workers laid off when the local Maytag washing machine plant moved to Mexico shortly after Whirlpool acquired the firm. With his focus on the value of “making things”, he was able to relate to both academics and workers, linking trade and tax policy to good jobs and strong communities.

In 2020, Khanna was one of four co-chairs of Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign, supporting his core message of economic and social justice, as well as his own of investing in forgotten communities. He has also been a champion of 'Our Revolution', the successor organisation to ‘Bernie 2016’, leading on critical issues from environmental to economic justice.

In Congress, Khanna chairs the environmental sub-committee of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee. He has held hearings focused on fossil fuel companies and ending the special tax subsidies that encourage more exploration and drilling even as wildfires caused by global warming spread. 

He recently introduced legislation that would tax the windfall profits of oil and gas enterprises and describes the 100-year impact of “petro-states” – including Russia and Saudi Arabia – as major threats to global peace and prosperity that, notoriously, lack innovation internally and suffer a massive deficit of democracy. 

Khanna has led congressional efforts to end US support for the Saudi war against Yemen – a prime example of petro-state domination and brutality – deployed with US weaponry. He calls for a “moon shot” in renewable energy, as the way to break out of fossil fuel dependency and bring energy manufacturing opportunities to declining communities.

He also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and, from its platform, helps lead the effort in the House of Representatives to stop annual increases in the military budget and to end funding for new rounds of nuclear weapons. A long-time opponent of ‘regime change’, he argues that military spending is driving down social spending as well as encouraging military intervention and the “sale” of US weapons to authoritarian regimes.

Khanna believes that we must invest in children, wherever they live, with child care and free college. He sees wealth taxes that will fall disproportionately on billionaires in his district as a fine way to fund a better future. He supports cancelling student debt by executive action and has joined a chorus of CPC congressional Democrats demanding that Joe Biden act on this.

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

He is a core supporter of Medicare for All, co-sponsoring the legislation authored by Pramila Jayapal and Bernie Sanders. Like Jayapal, he supports interim steps that would gradually lower the eligibility age for Medicare and also supports Medicare negotiating pharmaceutical prices for the nation, cutting their costs nearly by half and matching the prices paid by other nations. These measures would rapidly pay for themselves by cutting current US  healthcare spending from its bloated 22% of GDP – way more than any other country.  

While predictably progressive, as expected from a Sanders presidential campaign co-chair, Khanna’s reach is broader. It incorporates a unique perspective on the wealth generation of the well-known tech giants based in his district, praising their innovation but demanding that they decentralise investment. He also champions an 'Internet Bill of Rights' that includes data privacy and safeguards to protect against warrantless government surveillance. In his book he develops a call for a “progressive patriotism” echoing Frederick Douglass.  

As a member of the core constituency of the CPC, leading and organising on key issues, Khanna seems secure as he runs for re-election in November. The CPC remains short of a majority of House Democrats but, as the election calendar moves forward, it already seems likely that there will be more progressive Democrats in the next Congress and that they will work to support a broad array of issues – from economic and environmental justice to criminal justice reform, curbing military spending and a new foreign policy. At the same time, they will be working with grassroots groups across the nation to generate a path for change that is practical and popular. 

The typical knee-jerk response levelled at progressives is that they are impractical, unrealistic and do not appeal to working America. No one could make these charges against Ro Khanna.  

Larry Cohen is the founding board chair of ‘Our Revolution’, the successor organisation to ‘Bernie 2016’. He was previously president of the Communications Workers of America, and has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 2005

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

The End of Roe v Wade is Just the Beginning

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/06/2022 - 8:01pm in

The decision to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling will strip human rights from millions of women and girls and threatens the rights of minority groups across the US

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES

SIGN UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

That it was inevitable did not lessen the magnitude of the shock. 

When the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade – the 1973 case that allowed for nationwide access to safe, legal abortion in America – was leaked in May, both pro- and anti-abortion actors knew that it was only a matter of weeks before the right to abortion would end for millions of women, girls and pregnant people. 

But, despite that knowledge, when the decision was confirmed, the screams of despair from pro-abortion activists mingled with the cries of joy from anti-abortion groups gathered outside the Supreme Court. 

“This is a moment of trauma,” host of the Resistance Mom podcast Andrea Hildebran Smith told Byline Times

Within hours, the first states enacted 'trigger laws' – legislation to ban abortion that had been put in place ready for the day Roe v Wade was overturned. Missouri went first, banning abortion in almost all cases, making it a class B felony. Such a category comes with a prison sentence of up to 15 years. 

As he signed the new law, Attorney General Eric Shmitt called the decision “a monumental day for the sanctity of life”. Missouri still has the death penalty; recorded 89 domestic abuse deaths in 2018; and in 2020 had 1,426 gun deaths. Its maternal mortality rate is 16.4 per 100,000 live births. 

Arkansas and Kentucky have now banned abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is under threat. Women and girls who do not want to be pregnant, or who are pregnant in cases of rape and incest, will no longer be able to terminate a pregnancy. Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota have also introduced bans. 

In the space of three days, 11.5 million women and girls have lost their right to bodily autonomy in a country with a pro-choice majority. All these states, which boast of being 'pro-life', have the death penalty as a legal penalty for crimes.

More bans will follow in the coming days and months in Alabama; Arizona; Georgia; Idaho; Iowa; Michigan; Mississippi; North Dakota; Ohio; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; West Virginia; Wisconsin; and Wyoming.

Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska are also likely to implement bans. As previously reported by Byline Times, the new laws will impact 64 million women and girls (not all of child bearing age).

The Lives of Women and Girls

Many of the states that have already banned, or are set to ban, abortion had carried out a long-term assault on abortion services in their communities, closing reproductive healthcare clinics or imposing 'TRAP' (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws which made it almost impossible for clinics to survive. Before the decision was published, Kentucky had only one remaining abortion clinic. 

But, as law-makers across the states signed their trigger bills into legislation, those who had dedicated their lives to providing abortion services to women and girls were forced to cancel appointments, shut their doors, and come up with new strategies to support those in need of reproductive healthcare. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision to explicitly overturn Roe v Wade is already causing devastating consequences for abortion access across the country,” said Dr Herminia Palacio, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organisation committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. “Our hearts go out to the patients and providers seeking a path forward.”

For women and girls living in the states that have banned abortion, there are limited choices.

Those who can afford to travel can go to states where abortion is expected to remain legal, such as New York or California. But this option is simply not available for the poorest and most vulnerable in society – for the teenage girl who cannot be expected to miss school, escape the house, pay for a flight and accommodation, and pay for abortion care; for the single mum who cannot get time off work or additional childcare. 

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

Others may seek to order pills online. Far too many will resort to unsafe abortion methods. 

Of course, many women and girls will be forced to continue with an unwanted pregnancy, with all the mental and physical health impacts that brings. We know, too, from the death of Savita Halappanaver in Ireland, and the deaths of Izabela and Agnieszka in Poland, that women with wanted pregnancies who suffer miscarriages or complications will lose their lives, as doctors left with few options by the bans avoid providing life-saving abortion care. Some law-makers have said that they will deny abortion care even in cases of ectopic pregnancy – condemning women to death.

“Decades of research consistently show that abortion bans and restrictions don’t reduce unintended pregnancy or demand for abortion, and they certainly do not help people improve their health,” according to Dr Palacio. “Rather, they impose significant hurdles to obtaining care, causing stress for people in need of abortion and leading some to experience forced pregnancy and all its troubling consequences.”

A 50 Year Fight – And Worse To Come?

The Supreme Court's decision represents the victory of a 50-year fight by the religious and far-right in America to overturn Roe v Wade and end the right to safe, legal abortion.

That fight saw the marriage of Republican law-makers – some of whom like Ronald Reagan had previously signed bills to decriminalise abortion in their own states – with the ‘moral majority’ represented by activists such as Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly. 

Abortion became a wedge issue that stood in for religious freedom, with organisations proclaiming to protect religious liberty. The Alliance Defending Freedom, for instance, achieved legal wins to ban buffer zones protecting clinics. So-called ‘partial birth abortion’ helped to chip away at access to reproductive healthcare. 

But it was the victory of Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence that finally allowed the anti-abortion minority to push through their agenda. 

Despite having once told reporters that he was pro-choice, Trump knew that in order to win the evangelical vote needed to propel him to power, he had to take an anti-abortion position. He was, after all, running against one of the most famous pro-choice women in the world, Hillary Clinton. According to the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, when Trump mentioned "partial birth abortion" during the Las Vegas presidential debate, that was the moment “he won the pro-life vote”. 

Throughout his presidency, Trump appointed mostly-male, anti-abortion judges across the nation’s courts, allowing for the creation of the trigger laws. He was supported in this by the anti-abortion Federalist Society, which trains conservative lawyers.

Trump also used his presidency to nominate Federalist Society-approved anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court to create a conservative majority on the benches: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh – who was accused of historic sexual assault during the nomination process – and Amy Coney-Barrett. Both Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett said that they would not overturn Roe v Wade if appointed to the court. Both broke their word. 

Meanwhile, the Alliance Defending Freedom funded law firms drafting anti-abortion bills and defended the Mississippi law that triggered the Supreme Court decision. Religious right groups such as the Thomas More Society, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the American Centre for Law and Justice submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court arguing against Roe v Wade

As this newspaper has documented, dark money groups have been funding the efforts to overturn Roe v Wade for decades.

A post-Roe v Wade world means that women and girls in the US have lost one of the most fundamental human rights: bodily integrity. Black and ethnic minority women, and women in poverty, will be worst impacted. But the Christian and far-right won’t stop there. There are clear warning signs that they will now seek to reverse progress on LGBTIQ and civil rights. 

The end of Roe v Wade, according to disinformation specialist Dave Troy, “signifies the roll-back of rights in the future, taking us away from progressive pluralistic democracy and back to something much darker and revanchist”.

Author Margaret Atwood has also laid out her fears for the future. “They want to go back to white male property owners being in control of the vote,” the writer of The Handmaid’s Tale observed. “Women aren't mentioned in the original Constitution, have no political power, are not therefore full citizens in law, and got the vote in the US only in 1920, via an amendment to the Constitution. Clearly, amendments can be overturned. What's next?”

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

‘Trump was at the Centre of this Conspiracy’: January 6 Committee Hearings Begin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 9:32pm in

Heidi Siegmund Cuda reports on the first day of the Congressional Committee investigating the insurrection at the Capital and allegations of an ‘attempted coup’ by the former President

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

“It was domestic enemies of the Constitution who stormed the Capitol and occupied the Capitol,” Committee Chairman and Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson told the January 6 Committee on its opening day. “At the encouragement of the President of the United States trying to stop the transfer of power, a precedent that had stood for 221 years”.

On 6 January 2021, the world watched in disbelief as crowds carrying guns, hand ties and white supremacist symbols marched on the US Capitol Building, as Senators gathered inside to confirm President Biden’s election win. Stirred up by a speech from President Donald Trump, the mostly male, mostly white crowd invaded the centre of democracy, in what was swiftly condemned as an attempted insurrection. Four people lost their lives.

The events prompted soul-searching from some, doubling down from others, as politicians and the public attempted to understand what happened that day.

Now, a House Select Committee investigating the events has put the blame squarely on Trump for inciting and encouraging mob rule. 

That point is important for a country still in trauma over the damage to the union from the Trump era.

There was no mincing of words from committee members. 

“Trump was at the centre of this conspiracy,” said Thompson. “The President of the United States spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy”.

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

Trump’s Last Stand

Describing it as “Trump’s last stand,” Thompson affirmed what many Democrats and law-abiding Americans had long suspected. 

“January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” he explained. “It represented … a most desperate attempt to halt the transfer of power”.

The condemnation did not just come from the Democrats. The committee’s vice-chair, Liz Cheney, is a Republican who did not hesitate to hold Trump to account. Trump had, she explained, a "sophisticated seven-part plan" to overturn the election. Speaking directly to her colleagues who had defended the disgraced President, she said: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain”.

Cheney highlighted a key meeting that took place on 18 December 2020 which included disgraced general Mike Flynn, lawyers Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani, and others. The meeting attendees, she explained, “discussed a number of dramatic steps, including having the military seize voting machines and potentially rerun elections”.

Describing the day itself, an audio recording from General Mark Milley, the nation’s highest ranked military officer, told the committee that Vice President Mike Pence reacted to the violence by directing Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller to “get the military down there, get the guard down there, put down this situation”.

But Pence’s authority was being undermined by his former boss. Milley shared a conversation with Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows. He shared how Meadows told him that “we have to kill the narrative that the Vice President is making all the decisions”. Milley said it was a “red flag for him personally”.

Central to the violence on the day were far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, who injured police officer Caroline Edwards. She told the committee how she was “slipping in people’s blood” and hit by a bicycle rack. She was one of more than 140 police officers injured. 

Other violence and threats of violence included men trashing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and chants to “hang Mike Pence”. 

In evaluating the riot’s aftermath, Liz Cheney said White House staff “knew President Donald Trump was too dangerous to be left alone.”

“That Trump said ‘he deserves it’ in response to the mob chanting ‘hang Mike Pence’,” journalist Paul Niland told Byline Times in disbelief. “What?? When did we ever hear of a US President backing calls for the execution of a sitting Vice President?”

A Fragile Democracy

Thursday's hearing was the first in a series this month that will highlight the findings of the committee’s investigation, which included interviews with more than 1,000 people about how Trump and his team tried to overturn the 2020 election results.

While the hearings offer compelling evidence for Trump’s role in the attempted coup, the crisis in American democracy goes beyond one day in winter 2021. For this reason, the response to the hearings was emotional and cautionary. Confronting the gravity of the threat on 6 January is a step in the right direction but American democracy is not yet out of the woods.

"The gambit to overthrow pluralistic democracies didn’t begin or end on 6 January," disinformation specialist David Troy told Byline Times. "It is very much still ongoing”.

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who offered expert testimony to the committee, warned against attempts in the right-wing media to minimise the hearings’ impact, noting how pro-Trump outlet Fox News was airing footage on migrant caravans again rather than the committee's conclusions about their former ratings star.

“Nothing is more threatening to criminals than an investigation,” she said. 

“From a governance perspective, it’s very good that the committee is laying out the details of the conspiracy to overthrow the Government,” Troy told Byline Times. “This is what constitutional democracies should do, and we must do this to demonstrate clearly that we still aspire to be one. From a propaganda perspective, it is unclear what effects, if any, these hearings may have on people who do not believe anything wrong took place that day”.

Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network, told Byline Times that “the hearings are critically important” but “it’s even more important to uncover what the instigators of the insurrection have been doing since – to prepare for their next attempt – and to take measures to defend our democracy”.

Journalist and author of How to Stop Fascism Paul Mason agrees, telling Byline Times: “This was a confident American democracy at work: naming the crime, naming the guilty and with meticulous documentation”.

But he noted that American “democracy is beleaguered, more fragile than it admits, and in the next stage – which must surely involve Federal prosecutions – the supporters of justice must not flinch from imposing penalties on those found guilty”. 

Mason argued that “any Republican politician still fronting for Trump has mentally crossed the threshold of the next insurrection”.

“The world is watching,” said Bennie Thompson. “Our Democracy remains in danger”.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

SIGN UP TO BYLINE TV PLUS

Mainstreamed White Supremacy Sits Behind Social Media Hate of Kamala Harris

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/05/2022 - 6:00pm in

A new report reveals the horrifying abuse sent on Twitter to America's first woman of colour Vice President – but such racist hate is becoming normalised in the US

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

US Vice President Kamala Harris has been the target of hateful and violent abuse online and Twitter has failed to react, a new report has found.

The Bot Sentinel research comes at a time of rising and mainstreamed white supremacism in the US, and a white nationalist movement emboldened by Donald Trump's presidency.

Trump was famously endorsed by white supremacists such as Klu Klux Klan Leader David Duke; referred to “fine people on both sides” following the Unite the Right rally; and hired high-ranking staff members with far-right beliefs and ambitions

He told the far-right Proud Boys group to "stand back and stand by" during Black Lives Matter protests – a former member said that Trump was "speaking their language".

The report also comes as the tech billionaire Elon Musk has bid to own Twitter, with the promise that he will restore freedom of speech to the platform. Human rights campaigners have expressed concern that this will allow more racist and sexist language to proliferate – not least because Musk has endorsed Trump's return to the social media network. The far-right US activist Nick Fuentes celebrated the prospect of a Musk-led Twitter. Fuentes openly mocked Kamala Harris over her stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Abuse uncovered by the report includes tweets using racist and misogynistic language, and men sharing manipulated photos of Harris engaging in lewd sex acts. 

A total of 4,265 problematic and disparaging tweets about Harris were sent in the first 135 days of 2022. However, of the 40 tweets reported to Twitter, only two were removed by the social network.

Tweets that were allowed to remain included those referring to Harris as the n-word. A tweet discussing assassinating the Vice President was removed but the account was allowed to remain active. 

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

Normalised Hate

The scale of online hate directed at Kamala Harris fits a pattern of increasingly overt and normalised racism and white supremacy on the US right and far-right. 

On 14 May, a white supremacist murdered 10 people, the majority of whom were African American, in Buffalo, New York. A manifesto published by the killer indulged in far-right conspiracy such as the 'Great Replacement'.

While such extremist hate used to exist on the fringes of society, ideas like the Great Replacement are now becoming mainstream.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is an elected politician, but that did not stop her from attending the America First Political Action Conference – a gathering set up by white nationalist Nick Fuentes who has referred to the conspiracy as the “Great Replacement reality”. 

Meanwhile, Republican law-makers have declared war on African American culture and literature, banning books that it considers to promote 'critical race theory' – an academic discipline that has become public enemy number one to the white nationalist right. Censored books include Beloved by Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison. 

Perhaps the most blatant example of mainstreamed support for white supremacy has been the response to the 6 January insurrection, where known far-right militias such as the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers stormed the US Capitol with plans to take politicians who had voted to confirm Joe Biden’s election hostage. 

Following the events that day, during which four people lost their lives, various Republicans backtracked from their initial condemnation of the insurrectionists, calling the attack “legitimate political discourse”.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz had initially said the event was a “violent terrorist attack”, before revising his assessment when Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called him “dumb”. Cruz told Carlson that he would never use the word “terrorist” to describe the “patriots” that were at the Capitol that day. 

A Chilling Effect

While women are more likely to experience abuse on social media platforms, women of colour are disproportionately targeted and suffer the intersection of misogynistic and racist attacks.

A report by Amnesty International into online abuse of women found that Diane Abbott, who at the time was the most senior black woman MP in the UK's Labour Party, had received half of all the abuse sent to MPs during the 2017 General Election. Abbott reported that abuse against her increased after the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess by a Muslim extremist last year. 

Abbott, who was the first black woman MP when she was elected in 1987, has spoken about the impact of the abuse on herself and her staff. She warned that the levels of abuse risked putting women, and black women in particular, off entering politics. 

Those warnings have been echoed by numerous women in public life.

MPs from across the political spectrum who stood down in the 2019 General Election have spoken about how online abuse played a part in them leaving politics. Speaking to Channel 4’s Dispatches, former Conservative MP Heidi Allen broke down in tears as she described the abuse she received and how it led to her changing her career. “It was a shame,” she said. “As I felt like I could have done some good.” 

Allen was speaking to Kim Leadbeater, the Labour MP whose sister Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016. Leadbeater herself was the target of misogynistic and homophobic abuse when she stood for election in Batley-on-Spen, Cox’s former constituency, in summer 2021.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Get the Bylines App for iPhone and iPad

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

Jesus, Guns, Babies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 4:00am in

Design: DF/Public Seminar Kandiss Taylor, the Republican primary candidate for governor of Georgia that you have never heard of, has...

Read More

Pennsylvania Portents

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 10:59pm in

Insurgents smash Pennsylvania’s Democratic old guard.

64 Million US Women and Girls Could Soon Live in American States with No Access to Abortion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/05/2022 - 9:22pm in

Data analysis by Sian Norris and Heidi Siegmund Cuda reveals who will be worst impacted by the Supreme Court's leaked opinion to overturn Roe versus Wade

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

More than 64 million women and girls in America are set to lose the right to safe and legal abortion if a draft Supreme Court opinion on overruling two court cases that guarantee abortion rights goes ahead.

An investigation by Byline Times has calculated that a total of 64,257,000 women and girls – including those who are not of child-bearing age – live in 22 states that are "certain" to introduce draconian anti-abortion laws if the US Supreme Court votes to overturn the 1973 judgment in the case of Roe versus Wade.

Roe versus Wade recognised the constitutional right to abortion. A second Supreme Court case, known as Planned Parenthood versus Casey, found that states should not put “undue burden” on women and girls seeking abortion. 

The Supreme Court draft opinion on overturning these rulings was leaked to the news website Politico.  

Drafted by conservative judge Samuel Alito, it states: “Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives”. This means abortion laws being decided state by state, rather than the right to abortion being guaranteed nationwide. 

A further 15 million women and girls live in US states that pro-abortion research organisation the Guttmacher Institute deems "likely" to ban abortion should individual states be allowed to determine their own abortion laws. They are Florida – where Governor Ron DeSantis has said that abortion has “no place in civilised society” – Indiana, Montana and Nebraska. 

The states with legislation ready to implement and ban abortion are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

Nearly all of the 22 states – 17 – had higher than average numbers of households living below the federal poverty line. The official poverty rate in the US is 11.4%. In Texas however, which has already implemented a draconian anti-abortion law, the poverty rate is 13.1%. In Georgia, a state determined to ban abortion at six weeks, the poverty rate is 19.5%. Similarly, in South Carolina, which also is poised to ban abortion at six weeks, 22% of people live under the federal poverty line. 

Women living in poverty are disproportionately impacted by abortion bans as they are less likely to have the resources to travel out of their state to access reproductive healthcare. Black and ethnic minority women are more likely to be living in poverty and therefore are also disproportionately impacted by restrictions to abortion. 

“We know from decades of research that the impact will fall hardest on those who already struggle to access health care, including abortion,” Dr Herminia Palacio, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, said.

“Even with Roe in place, affordable and accessible abortion care is a right that exists only on paper for many people who are marginalised and oppressed by structural inequities, including people with low incomes, black and brown communities and other people of colour, and young people.”

At least half of the states set to ban abortion have a higher than average rate of maternal mortality. They are also overwhelmingly male-run, with many of the states having an alarmingly low rate of women’s representation at a law-making level.

Take, for example, Alabama, where the maternal mortality rate is 36.4 per 100,000 births and where only 15.7% of law-makers are women. Arkansas, which wants to ban abortion when a foetal heartbeat is detected, has a maternal mortality rate of 45.9 per 100,000 births and its legislature is only 22% women. Kentucky has only one remaining abortion clinic and a maternal mortality rate of 40.8 per 100,000 births.

West Virginia has the lowest rate of women's representation in the states poised to ban abortion – at only 11.9%. 

Mississippi, the state which introduced the Gestational Age Act that triggered the Supreme Court debate on overturning Roe versus Wade, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the US, at 33.2 deaths per 100,000 births. The national average is 23.8 deaths per 100,000 births. Women make up only 16.7% of law-makers and 21.5% of its population lives under the poverty line.

The Road to the Bans

The 22 states identified by the Guttmacher Institute as “certain to ban abortion” have all put legislation in place that could be triggered immediately to end the access guaranteed by Roe and Casey

These include so-called ‘heartbeat bills’ – or laws that ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, before most women realise that they are pregnant. Twelve of the states are ready to ban abortion at 12 weeks. Alabama wants to introduce a near-total ban on abortion, as does Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Utah. Other states will seek to reset to pre-Roe legislation. 

Crucially, many of these states have already implemented laws that make it harder for women and girls to access abortion when they need to. Although the Casey case decided that states could not put an undue burden on women needing abortions, states have interpreted this in a variety of ways.

Numerous states poised to ban abortion have implemented Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers Laws ('TRAP' laws) which make it harder for clinics to operate. TRAP laws go beyond what is necessary for patient safety.

In some cases, clinics must meet a state’s standards for ambulatory surgical centres, even if they are providing abortion pills and not conducting surgery. Some TRAP laws also demand that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital, even though complications from abortion that require hospital admission are rare, and therefore abortion providers are unlikely to meet minimum annual patient admissions some hospitals require.   

TRAP laws have forced abortion clinics to close – many of the 22 states have fewer than five clinics providing terminations, while some like Kentucky only have one. 

Other barriers include laws demanding women view an ultrasound before an abortion; undertake mandatory counselling; endure cooling-off periods; and that minors get parental consent before having a termination.

So-called ‘informed consent laws’ – designed to ensure that women have the information they need before accessing abortion – have been criticised for providing women with disinformation, including about the debunked ‘post-abortion syndrome’ and foetal pain. 

Executive director of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, warns that this is just the beginning. 

“This draft ruling is an outrageous undermining of our most fundamental rights and imperils any ability to govern our own bodies,” she told Byline Times. “The leaked draft opinion overturning Roe versus Wade also explicitly criticises Lawrence versus Texas (a court ruling which overturned bans on gay sex) and Obergefell versus Hodges (which legalised same-sex marriage).

"Equality Florida has been a pro-choice organisation since our founding in 1997 – we know that these fights are deeply intertwined. They’re rooted in the fundamental rights of all to personal autonomy and control of our own sexuality. Dignity, equality, and freedom make LGBTIQ and abortion rights a common cause, and we’ll continue to fight back against these attacks and protect our rights.”

Polling persistently shows that access to safe and legal abortion is supported in the US. Even in states that are poised to pass anti-abortion laws, support rarely drops below 50%. Speaking to Byline Times last year, president of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, called it “a tyranny of the minority acting to subvert the will of the people”.

Although the leak suggests that the Supreme Court will overrule Roe and Casey, the final decision is likely to be handed down in the summer.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

The Real Reason Congress Gets Nothing DoneWhy doesn’t Congress...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 2:47pm in

The Real Reason Congress Gets Nothing Done

Why doesn’t Congress get anything done? Well, one chamber actually does. Hundreds of bills have been passed by the House of Representatives, but have been blocked from even getting a vote in the Senate. Bills like –

The Freedom to Vote Act,

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,

The Equality Act,

Background checks for gun sales,

Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act,

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

The Build Back Better Act.

The list goes on…

So why aren’t these crucial bills getting a vote in the Senate? Because the filibuster makes it impossible.

******

Btw, if you’d like my daily analyses, commentary, and drawings, please subscribe to my free newsletter: robertreich.substack.com

******

All told, the House passed over 200 bills since the start of 2021 that have not been taken up in the Senate. Everything from investing in rural education to preventing discrimination against pregnant workers to protecting seniors from scams – bills that have real, tangible benefits for the public; bills that have widespread public support.

So don’t believe the media narrative that Congress is trapped in hopeless gridlock and

both sides

are to blame. One chamber of Congress, led by Democrats, is passing important legislation and delivering for the people. But Republicans in the Senate, and a handful of corporate Democrats, are hell-bent on grinding the gears of government to a halt.Why are Senate Republicans doing this? Because their midterm strategy depends on it. Republicans are blocking crucial legislation so they can point to Democrats’ supposed inability to get anything done, and claim they’ll be able to deliver if you give them majorities. Don’t fall for it.

The Red States’ War on Human Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/04/2022 - 6:45pm in

From abortion bans to 'Don't Say Gay' bills and attacks on critical race theory, the Republicans are waging a war against human rights, reports Heidi Siegmund Cuda

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

When an anti-abortion activist crowed that “five years from now, we’ll realise that Roe versus Wade was slowly overturned without it ever making a big headline”, it turned out that time-frame was overly generous.

The right to abortion in America has never been under greater threat. In December, Texas passed a law banning abortion after six weeks, along with a vigilante-style ruling that would penalise anyone accused of assisting women to access reproductive healthcare. 

The Supreme Court failed to act, allowing the law to go through. The decision was a firing shot for other Republican, anti-abortion law-makers. Since then, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma have all introduced draconian bans. Idaho attempted to follow suit but its Supreme Court blocked the law. For now. 

Later this summer, the Supreme Court will hear a case from Mississippi which, if successful, will overturn Roe versus Wade – the court decision that legalised safe abortion nationwide on the basis of the constitutional right to privacy. When that happens, abortion laws will be decided on a state-by-state basis. Already, 86 bills to restrict or ban abortion are ready to launch in 31 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute

The attack on abortion is just one front of a war against human rights and progressive politics being waged by the Republican Party. Despite having lost the 2020 Presidential Election, the GOP is enacting its regressive agenda through the courts, the schools and the state legislatures – rolling-back women’s, LGBTIQ and people of colour’s rights.

Don’t Say Gay

The decision by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to implement the 'Don’t Say Gay' law – which effectively bans the representation of LGBTIQ people in the State’s schools – is familiar to anyone who went to school in the UK in the 1990s.

During that period, the hated Section 28 law banned the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality and “fake family relationships”.

It’s also straight out of the Russian playbook – mimicking the gay propaganda rules, and Hungary’s ban on depictions of LGBTIQ people in media aimed at children. 

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is checking the boxes for his presidential run in 2024,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, told Byline Times. “He wants to outflank Trump to the right, and part of that is going after critical race theory, corporations, their ‘stop woke’ agenda. It’s a checklist. They passed an abortion ban, they passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. This is about book banning, censorship, and surveillance.”

But it’s not just LGBTIQ people under fire in the state’s education system. Florida just announced it rejected dozens of mathematics books, claiming that they referred to critical race theory. Otherwise known as CRT, critical race theory has become a flashpoint in the 'culture wars' on both sides of the Atlantic.

Despite the fact that CRT in the US is something students can choose to study in higher education – and does not form part of the school curriculum – right-wing ideologues have seized upon the issue to claim white children are being indoctrinated to feel guilty for being white. 

Florida Representative Carlos Smith recently tweeted that DeSantis was "hysterically pulling math books outta FL schools claiming they 'indoctrinate' kids with CRT. This isn’t just crazy right-wing pandering – next they’ll spend MILLIONS of tax dollars forcing schools to buy math books from GOP campaign donors”.

During his recent speech to the US right-wing think-tank, The Heritage Foundation, the UK Conservative Party's Co-Chairman Oliver Dowden condemned CRT and explained how its teaching had been banned in UK schools. He did not appear to see the contradiction in talking about promoting freedom of speech and banning discussions about race.  

Smith said that these pre-scripted bills are multiplying throughout America.

“These bills are cut-and-paste from right-wing think tanks, so it’s not just Florida,” she said. “These bills are being introduced all across the country. The content of these laws are completely fabricated, and they’re designed to create this sense of outrage, this moral panic.”

Race is repeatedly weaponised in the culture wars waged by the Republican right.

“The Koch cadre was happy to weaponise the racist response to America’s first black president... to move their political agenda,” said Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains.

Her book documents the massive right-wing machine financed by the businessmen, Charles and David Koch, the latter of whom died in 2019.

“It’s about the cultivation of white Christian tribal identity and the daily provoking of that," she told Byline Times. "They succeed by cultivating non-stop culture war. It’s clearly their strategy for the 2022 mid-terms. Attacks on trans people, Don’t Say Gay, really ugly attacks on any attempt to teach the truth about American history, and the role of race in our society.”

For Nancy MacLean, if the progressive wing of US and UK politics wants to defeat this attack, it is time to “learn how to walk and chew gum” – with specific emphasis on the need for a Democrat success in this year’s mid-term elections.  

“If Democrats have any chance of holding power, we have to have deep structural reform," she added. "If we do row together, this could be a time of transformation.”

FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES. CLICK HERE TO FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

Red Versus Blue

With red states hurriedly writing anti-abortion laws to enact, should Roe versus Wade be overturned this summer, 15 blue states along with Washington D.C. are introducing and passing legislation to enshrine abortion care s a state-wide right. In fact, California law-makers are creating a series of bills that would make it a sanctuary state for abortions. 

The response to the abortion threat demonstrates how the dichotomy between red and blue is increasingly stark – with those on the right increasingly relying on conspiracist language to push their agenda.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw tweeted last month that Florida’s anti-gay bill could be “more accurately described as an anti-grooming bill”. This deliberate choice of words harks back to ugly stereotypes that gay people are predatory against children, and plays to the QAnon ‘Save the Children’ crowd which believes that the Republicans – and, increasingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin – will protect children from left-wing elites seeking to groom and abuse them.

The language was instantly repeated by far-right politicians such as Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and showed up on posters at a Disneyland Orlando protest when the company came out against the bill. Pushaw worked for a Koch Brother-backed foundation, as well as for the former president of the country of Georgia.

Governor Ron DeSantis was approached for comment.

Author David Pepper cautions that the Republican-led states are operating as autocratic fiefdoms. His book, Laboratories of Autocracy: A Wake-Up Call From Behind the Lines, describes the corrosive chipping away of democracy by states and how it paves the way for authoritarianism.

“Authoritarianism is about control of bodies and policing sexuality,” Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongmen, told Byline Times. “That’s why strongmen and their followers have taken away reproductive rights and have also persecuted LGBTQ+ people for a century.”

These threats often start against the weakest members of society, said Nadine Smith.

“What they sharpen their knives on is who they perceive to be politically the weakest, it's why they went after trans kids,” she said. “Raise your hand if you know a trans kid. Not many hands will go up. With that victory, it emboldened them to come after a larger swath of the population. They’re coming for you right now, too."

A spokesperson for Ron DeSantis told Byline Times: "we aren't in the business of responding to partisan critics. The Governor will do what is right and in the best interest of Floridians."

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Pages