Thursday, July 8, 2021

Last Call For Gov. Mike, De Slime

Never forget for a moment that red state Republicans want anyone who isn't a white, straight Christian removed from "their" state by legalized attrition through denial of basic services.

In the latest state-level swing at LGBTQ health care access, Ohio will now allow medical providers to refuse to administer any medical treatment that violates their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.

The language was buried in a 700-page document of last-minute amendments to the state’s two-year budget bill, which Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine approved last Thursday. The provision allows anyone providing medical care — from doctors and nurses to researchers and lab techs – and anyone paying for that care (namely, insurance providers), “the freedom to decline to perform, participate in, or pay for any health care service which violates the practitioner’s, institution’s, or payer’s conscience as informed by the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.”

The bill does not allow medical professionals to deny LGBTQ people care, carte blanche; the exemption “is limited to conscience-based objections to a particular health care service.” It goes on to say that the provider is “responsible for providing all appropriate health care services, other than the particular health care service that conflicts with the medical practitioner’s beliefs or convictions, until another medical practitioner or facility is available.”

But the bill was overwhelmingly opposed by the state’s medical community. “The implications of this policy are immense and could lead to situations where patient care is unacceptably compromised,” read a letter to budget negotiators, signed by the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, and the Ohio Association of Health Plans.

Gov. DeWine could have struck the language while signing the rest of the budget into law, but declined to do so, despite issuing 14 other line-item vetoes.

State and national LGBTQ advocates started sounding the alarm in June, when the language was introduced, saying that it will prevent LGBTQ people from accessing the health care they need. With this newly enacted language in place, a medical provider could refuse to prescribe PrEP to an LGBTQ patient looking to reduce their risk of contracting HIV, or refuse to provide gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary patients, or puberty blockers to transgender minors. Equality Ohio called it a “license to discriminate,” and Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said that it jeopardizes “the medical well being of more than 380,000 LGBTQ people in Ohio.”

Gov. DeWine has insisted that this provision won’t change the standard of care in Ohio. “This is not a problem,” he told a local news station. “If there’s other things that maybe a doctor has a problem with, it’s worked out. Somebody else does those things” — referring to a loosely written clause that requires that the medical professional, when possible, “attempt to transfer the patient to a colleague who will provide the requested procedure,” as long as making that referral doesn’t violate their conscience as well.

But even if the medical professional does attempt to make that referral, a quarter of Ohio’s population lives in rural counties, where LGBTQ-friendly medical care is sparse. And for queer elders living in long-term care facilities, options are even slimmer.

Local advocates have also called foul on lawmakers’ move to insert the clause last-minute into the state’s massive two-year, 2,400-page budget bill. “They know that they couldn’t pass this on its merits as a standalone bill, because literally no one is asking for this to be passed,” Dominic Detwiler, a public policy strategist for Equality Ohio told the Columbus Dispatch.
Right-wing assholes like DeWine have used tactics like these for generations: if you want to get rid of "undesirables" just legalize discrimination that codifies them as second-class citizens. Nothing's more American.

And of course, the Roberts Court will see that this legalized discrimination remains "constitutional".

The Big Lie, Con't

Pennsylvania Republicans, having learned nothing from the hubris of Arizona Republicans, now plan to conduct their own "forensic audit" of the 2020 election. To make things even worse (and to waste even more taxpayer dollars) the PA "audit" will include multiple counties, not just Arizona's one.
A Republican state senator close to former President Donald Trump has announced he will pursue a legislative audit of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, said Wednesday that he had sent letters to “several counties” asking for “information and materials” needed to conduct a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary.

“This investigation is not about overturning the results of either election,” he wrote in an opinion piece sent to Pennsylvania news outlets. “The goals are to restore faith in the integrity of our system, confirm the effectiveness of existing legislation on the governance of elections, and identify areas for legislative reform.”

Mastriano, who has promoted false claims of a stolen election, did not respond to a request for comment.

In the op-Ed, the central Pennsylvania lawmaker did not specify which counties he had requested information from. The counties also represent “different geographical regions” and “differing political makeups,” Mastriano said in the opinion piece. He added that it will be a “balanced investigation.”

*At least two counties have confirmed they received a letter from Mastriano: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold, as well as York County, a large, reliably Republican county in south-central Pennsylvania.

The letter states that legislative changes to the election code, the COVID-19 pandemic, state Supreme Court rulings and actions by former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar “presented unprecedented challenges” and “combined to cause a great burden on counties and county officials during the general election cycle.”

The damage to the integrity and confidence in our election process will not be undone with the passing of time,” the letter continues. “I believe the only way to restore confidence in our Commonwealth‘s election process is to undertake a forensic investigation of the election results. By doing this, faith in our election system will be restored.”

The letter requests that York County turnover potentially hundreds of thousands of items, including all ballots cast in the 2020 election, voter rolls, ballot paper samples, cybersecurity protocols, software used through the election process, and the machines used to tabulate results, among others.

Mastriano set a July 31 deadline for the counties to respond with a plan to comply. A subpoena may be issued if a plan to comply with the documents request is not returned by the deadline, the letter says.

A spokesperson for York County declined further comment besides confirming they had received the letter.
No doubt that just like Arizona, Pennsylvania's "audit" will subcontract the job out to Trump-friendly Republicans, followed by comically bad faith efforts, a complete travesty of any chain of custody efforts of the ballots and the voting machines, and for a Democratic Secretary of State, in this case Kathy Boockvar, to find that the entire disaster will end up costing multiple counties millions to purchase new voting equipment.

This will go even worse than in the Grand Canyon State, I expect.


Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

The right-wing noise machine wants the deadly January 6th insurrection of six months ago to disappear completely from the national stage, and it's working better than even I expected it to.
Six months after their leader tried to overturn the election he had lost by more than 7 million votes, Republicans have settled on a message about the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol: Insurrection? What insurrection?

From calls to let bygones be bygones, to punishing dissidents who dare criticize former President Donald Trump for instigating that day’s attack, to literally describing the mob as no different from everyday “tourists,” the Republican Party ― with notable exceptions ― has pushed the idea that the unprecedented attempt to overthrow American democracy was really no big deal.

And, if recent polling is correct, they appear to be succeeding. According to a recent Morning Consult survey, fully 41% of Americans believe that the riot of Jan. 6 has received “too much attention,” compared with 50% who do not. That figure is driven by 68% of Republicans who say that but includes more than a third of independents and even a quarter of Democrats.

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor who believes the country barely dodged a constitutional crisis on Jan. 6, said many Americans simply would rather not think about that day.

“It’s human nature to suppress terrible forebodings that don’t quite materialize,” he said, adding that the barrage of Trump-inspired crises during his term likely laid the groundwork. “The cascade of terrible events and near-misses over the past four years has desensitized people if not entirely anesthetized them.”

Hans Noel, a political science professor at Georgetown University, said that Republicans also have an active interest in wishing Jan. 6 away.

“Generally, conservatives, particularly those who get their news from other conservatives, will come to downplay the attack,” Noel said. “Some of that is just believing it’s not a big deal. Some of it is not wanting to talk about uncomfortable facts as they come out. But this is the main thing: The partisan messaging on this has been to downplay it for Republicans, Trump supporters and others on the right.”

Whatever its causes, the process of memory-holing that day reflects Trump’s continued success at fashioning an outrageous lie and then browbeating Republican leaders into going along with him.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, for example, said on Jan. 13 on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” Within weeks, he had gone to visit Trump at his Palm Beach resort and posed for a photo with him. And, at the six-month mark of the mob assault, he is attacking those few GOP House members, such as Wyoming’s Liz Cheney, who refuse to bend to Trump’s will.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to HuffPost queries. On Thursday, he said of Cheney’s acceptance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to serve on a select committee to investigate Jan. 6: “Maybe she’s closer to her than us.” He had warned Republicans who would serve on that panel that they would be stripped of their committee assignments.

“If most Americans have indeed forgotten about Jan. 6, that is in part due to the tenacious efforts of the GOP to downplay it,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University. “For a party whose brand is law enforcement, Jan. 6′s murderous rage against Capitol Police could turn voters off. So they deny the violence ― Trump turned it into ‘hugs and kisses’ ― and block any investigation that would place the facts of it in the public realm
So yeah, "Why don't you liberals shut up about January 6th already" is a thing, and nearly half the country agrees, even a quarter of Democrats.
It's okay though.
We'll have a brand-new horrible domestic terrorism event or six to talk about very soon, I imagine.


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