Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Last Call For An Unholy Christ-Mess

Religious freedom to Republicans means the right to beat you over the head with Christianity to the point where you have the "religious freedom" to accept Christian beliefs or face the wrath of the law.

Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton is not happy over a school district’s decision to remove a biblical verse from a Charlie Brown poster, TWC News reports. The line that was removed is recited by Linus and reads, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior.” 
Paxton released a statement about the matter, in which he noted that having the line removed is a violation of the state’s Merry Christmas Law, which was adopted in 2013. He noted that because of the law, schools cannot “silence a biblical reference to Christmas” and called the removal of the verse an “attack on religious liberty.” 
However, employees at the school argued that they were not allowed to impose their views on students. 
Part of the Merry Christmas Law notes, “A display relating to a traditional winter celebration may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief,” according to CBS News
The school district decided that based on that section of the law, “it is clear that this display was not in keeping with the Merry Christmas Bill (House Bill 308), which requires that a display not encourage adherence to a particular religion.

The part where the school system was actually following the law?  That doesn't matter. It's how the law is interpreted by the state.  In this case, the law is interpreted that religious freedom only applies to Christians.  That's blatantly unconstitutional, but the power of the state to coerce the school into doing this will happen anyway.

Just wait until there's a national "Merry Christmas" law, citizen.

The Heartbeat (Bill) Of America, Con't

And Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich sucker punches women of the Buckeye State again and again as he bravely vetoes the ridiculously unconstitutional "Heartbeat Bill" only to heroically get the additional abortion restrictions he's wanted since taking office in 2010.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich today vetoed the Heartbeat Bill forbidding abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected while signing into law a second bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 
The second-term Republican previously had expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the Heartbeat Bill, which would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. 
Federal courts struck down identical measures in two states in finding it was an undue state restriction on a woman's right to an abortion at a point when some women do not realize they are pregnant. 
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life," Kasich said in a statement. 
With the Heartbeat Bill folded into House Bill 493, Kasich used his line-item veto to single out and remove the abortion language since it was accompanied by a $100,000 appropriation to create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion. He signed the other portion of the bill, dealing with child-abuse reporting requirements, into law. 
Kasich approved banning abortions after 20 weeks by signing Senate Bill 127, an Ohio Right to Life-supported bill, that forbids termination of "a human pregnancy of a pain-capable unborn child."

So Ohio now joins 18 other states with 20 week bans, the point of which is to argue that a fetus could be viable at less than the current legal definition of legalized abortion, 24 weeks, thus overturning Roe v. Wade.

Often referred to as “20-week abortion bans,” these laws nominally seek to ban abortion after or around 20 weeks’ gestation, though bills in several states effectively ban abortion at 18 weeks. Legal experts believe these laws are unconstitutional on their face because they undermine a key provision of Roe v. Wade, which established the right to an abortion in the United States up until fetal viability, generally determined by doctors to be around 24 weeks’ gestation. Were the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold one of these bans, it would effectively dismantle the backbone of the court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the United States. Anti-choice leaders have been open about their long-view strategy involving 20-week abortion bans—to persuade the high court to overturn the viability principle on which Roerests. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 roughly 1.3 percent of all abortions performed in the United States were after 20 weeks’ gestation. There are many reasons women need abortions at this stage. A number of fetal and genetic anomalies cannot be identified until later in pregnancy, and some women find themselves facing pregnancies gone terribly wrong. Health conditions that threaten the woman’s life or health can develop at any point during a pregnancy. And a large share of women seeking abortions late in the second trimester do so because they face dramatically changed life circumstances or were unable to obtain an earlier abortion—a situation that’s increasingly common in states where laws are making abortion more expensive, more time-consuming, and more geographically inaccessible.

This is the real reason behind banning so-called "late term abortions".  And now that pathway to overturning Roe rests with Donald Trump's selection to the Supreme Court, stolen wholesale from President Obama by the GOP.

Meanwhile, Kasich gets to burnish his moderate credentials, and the window for legal abortion procedures closes a bit more in the US.

Very soon I suspect it will be shut completely.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The NY Times pieces together the story of the DNC hacks by Russia into the 21st century's newest weapon of mass distraction, a Watergate of our era where most likely the criminals will never be punished, the abettors rewarded, and the country cracked into pieces.

Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the D.N.C. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee’s old offices in the Watergate complex, the burglars planted listening devices and jimmied a filing cabinet. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.

An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack. 
The D.N.C.’s fumbling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks. 
The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later. 
Even Mr. Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.
By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Mr. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail. 
The fallout included the resignation of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the D.N.C., and most of her top party aides. Leading Democrats were sidelined at the height of the campaign, silenced by revelations of embarrassing emails or consumed by the scramble to deal with the hacking. Though little-noticed by the public, confidential documents taken by the Russian hackers from the D.N.C.’s sister organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, turned up in congressional races in a dozen states, tainting some of them with accusations of scandal. 
In recent days, a skeptical president-elect, the nation’s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election. 
Many of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides believe that the Russian assault had a profound impact on the election, while conceding that other factors — from Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate, to her private email server, to the public statements of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, about her handling of classified information — were also important. 
While there’s no way to be certain of the ultimate impact of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.

Clinton and Obama gave us the era of "smart power".  But Vladimir Putin perfected it, much to America's eternal dismay, as the coffers will be looted thoroughly by Trump and his team before they turn out the lights and set the building on fire with us inside.

Maybe they'll even watch it burn.


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