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Why one anti-trans bill went too far for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson

April 6, 2021 in Blogs

By Claire Bond Potter

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed Monday an anti-trans bill passed by an overwhelming majority. The Republican had already signed a bill banning trans girls from athletic competition against other girls, and one affirming the right of healthcare professionals to refuse treatment for moral or religious reasons. But HB 1570, which would have banned gender-confirming treatments for minors, was “indefensible.”

Why?

First, we should stipulate that the surge in anti-trans legislation is a national phenomenon. None of this stuff was written in Arkansas. Dozens of state-level bills introduced in the aftermath of the 2020 election were written from cookie-cutter legislative templates originating from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC for short), a 501(c)(3) founded at the dawn of the culture wars in 1973.

Legislation and ballot initiatives defending traditional views of sex and gender have historically whipped up the conservative base. Since 1985, ALEC has been well-known for drafting legislative templates that seek to put a brake on expanding LGBTQ civil rights and liberties. In a memo the organization has since disavowed, articulating homosexuality as a choice linked to predatory sexual behavior and pedophilia.

Although it does not embrace gay rights, ALEC does not overtly oppose them either. Instead, the organization preserves traditional stances on gender, sexuality and family by elevating “moral conscience” and “protection.” This is what may have put trans girls, even more of a minority than LGBTQ adults, in the organization’s crosshairs.

This shift followed Obergefell, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across all 50 states. The conservative backlash was swift. By February 2016, the Human Rights Campaign identified an “unprecedented onslaught of legislation … targeting transgender children.” More than 40 bills were introduced in two years.

Following the 2020 election, conservative legislators in multiple, mostly red, states introduced a blitz of anti-LGBTQ legislation. Sixteen establish the right of health care, clerical and government workers to refuse services on the grounds of moral conscience or faith. Three times as many prevent minors from gender confirmation treatments; and from athletic competition against, or sharing bathrooms with, other girls.

These bills present themselves as acts of conscience and fair play. Echoing the language of the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign, they “save” kids from harms inflicted by …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's the truth about how Democrats compare to conservatives in Europe

April 6, 2021 in Blogs

By Magdi Semrau

“In Europe, Democrats would be conservative.” This assertion is so pervasive in American discourse that it has been repeated by both politicians and journalists. In a piece in Foreign Policy, Carlo Invernizzi Accetti said this of former Vice President Joe Biden in March of last year. “The Democratic front-runner’s ideology has less to do with Obama or the Clintons than a distinct style of European conservatism.”

This is a myth, but debunking it is difficult, as it involves sorting through a tangle of variables. If you do start picking through the various cross-country comparisons, though, you’ll find the actual US analogue of European conservatism is the GOP.

First, what do people mean when they say that Democrats are similar to European conservatives? What policies are they talking about? And what “Europe” are they referring to? Surely, people are not thinking about Polish conservatives, who have sought to ban abortion and investigate miscarriages. And they can’t be referring to Hungary, where activists may face criminal penalties if they help asylum seekers.

So people must not be equating Democrats to conservatives in Europe as a whole, but those in specific areas of Western and Northern Europe. Yet this is still problematic.

There is no fixed definition of “conservative” in even these specific regions of Europe. Traditional center-right blocs are in flux, as they both compete with the far-right for voters and engage in post-electoral coalitions with these same parties.

In France and Italy, for example, the center-right parties have imploded, losing much of their support to the far-right. In Germany, Angela Merkel’s CDU1—often perceived as the last bulwark of sensible conservatism—is leaking voters to the far-right and facing pressure from extremists within the party itself. Meanwhile, in Sweden and Spain, traditional conservatives have entered into post-electoral coalitions with extremist far-right parties who espouse anti-Muslim and anti-women beliefs.

Thus, the comparison of US Democrats to European “conservatives” is inherently messy. However, perhaps there are some ways to mount cross-country comparisons between parties. For example, how do parties position themselves with regard to extant government spending and support? How do they approach immigration or civil rights? The answers reveal that many European conservatives are less wedded to the project of government spending than they are to the trend of Thatcherite neoliberalism. They are also …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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8 Events that Led to World War I

April 6, 2021 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

Imperialism, nationalistic pride and mutual alliances all played a part in building tensions that would erupt into war.


3. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

Russia’s Czar Nicholas II wanted to obtain a port that gave his navy and commercial ships access to the Pacific, and he set his sites on Korea. The Japanese saw Russia’s rising aggressiveness as a menace, and launched a surprise attack on Nicholas’ fleet at Port Arthur in China. The resulting war, fought both at sea and on land in China, was won by the Japanese, and as Beiriger notes, it helped shift power the power balance in Europe.

Russia’s allies France and Britain, which were allied with Japan, signed their own agreement in 1904 to avoid being pulled into the war. France later convinced the Russians to enter into an alliance with the British as well, laying the groundwork for their alliance in World War I. In addition, “Russia’s expansion in the East had been stopped by Japan,” Beiriger says. “This turned Russian ambitions westward, especially in the Balkans, and influenced hardliners within the government to not back down in future crises.” That Russian combativeness helped trigger World War I less than a decade later.

4. Austria-Hungary’s Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1908)

A train packed with soldiers leaves a railway station during the Bosnian annexation crisis in 1908.

Under an 1878 treaty, Austria-Hungary was governing Bosnia and Herzegovina, even though technically they were still part of the Ottoman Empire. But after Austro-Hungarian government annexed their territory, the move backfired. The two provinces’ mostly Slavic population wanted to have their own country, while Slavs in nearby Serbia had the ambition of appropriating the provinces themselves.

“In multi-ethnic empires, nationalistic fervor fueled resistance to distant rulers,” Doran Cart, senior curator of the National World War I Museum and Memorial, says. “Tension was powder-keg high in the Balkans, where Slavic people, aided by the Slavs of Russia, resisted the rule of Austria-Hungary.” Additionally, the move drew Russia, which saw itself as Serbia’s protector, toward a gradual showdown with the Austro-Hungarian regime.

5. The Second Moroccan Crisis (1911)


The German small cruiser SMS Berlin is shown arriving two days after gunboat Panther in order to strengthen the German position off shore Agadir, Morocco, July 1911.

The French and Germans butted heads for several years over Morocco, where Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II meddled in an attempt …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Derek Chauvin's defense wants to blame George Floyd's death on the witnesses — not the cops

April 6, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

The criminal trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin entered its seventh day on Tuesday, with the prosecution trying to show jurors that Chauvin used seriously excessive force constituting murder and manslaughter during the arrest of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 and Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, arguing that he didn’t. And one of Nelson’s tactics during the trial has been claiming that bystanders wanted to intimidate Chauvin during the arrest.

Nelson, questioning Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, asked, “If they’re cheering on and saying, ‘Good job, officer,’ that’s one consideration, correct? But if they’re saying, ‘I’d slap the fuck out of you’ or ‘You’re a pussy, you’re a chump,’ would that reasonably tend to rise alarm in a police officer?” And Mercil responded, “Yes, sir.”

On cross-examination, however, the prosecution brought up the fact that some of the bystanders who witnessed Floyd’s arrest weren’t insulting Chauvin — they were pleading with him not to end Floyd’s life when the officer had him pinned to the ground with his knee on his neck.

The prosecution asked Mercil, “And if they’re saying, ‘Get off him, you’re killing him,’ should the officer also take that into account and consider whether their actions need to be reassessed?”

The Recount, reporting on the trial on Twitter, noted that trying to blame witnesses for Floyd’s death has been a recurring tactic with Nelson. On March 29, The Recount tweeted:

Nelson said the officers perceived the crowd watching Chauvin kneel on Floyd as a threat and that diverted “their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Mitch McConnell is struggling to keep the GOP's central bargain from falling apart

April 6, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

As you know, the Republican Party is the party of business. It has been that way since the late 19th century. What you may not know is that some Republicans have always taken a dim view of corporate power, depending on their brand of conservatism. Prior to Ronald Reagan’s ascent, conservatives of the Old Right, as they were sometimes called, saw corporations the way that some leftists do, as potentially dangerous collectives unaccountable to the democratic will. But unlike leftists, who are generally concerned with issues of class, the Old Right was concerned with issues of tradition, order, family, and Christian faith, but especially the local authority of white men.

For the Old Right, national (and then multinational) corporations were not sources of stability, but the opposite. They competed fiercely for customers and they innovated nonstop, creating products and services that destabilized what the Old Right believed was the natural order of things.1 Corporations employed legions, including non-white people, who no longer behaved as they “should,” as makers of their own destinies, as rugged entrepreneurs, as independent and free. Instead, the massive working class was beholden to the interests of their employers. As such, they often behaved as social parasites, especially when corporations worked together with the United States government in what I described last week as economics in the national interest.

Worst of all, corporations as the godless, profit-seeking face of modernity always challenged the social control of the white men who constituted this country’s petty bourgeoisie. Sam Francis, the Ur-conservative, understood this better than most.

The cosmopolitan elite threatened the traditional values cherished by most Americans: “morality and religion, family, nation, local community, and at times racial integrity and identity.” These were sacred principles for members of a new “post-bourgeois proletariat” drawn from the working class and the lower ranks of the middle class. Lacking the skills prized by technocrats, but not far enough down the social ladder to win the attention of reformers, these white voters considered themselves victims of a coalition between the top and bottom against the middle.2

For corporations, and the Wall Street traders who invest in them, the Old Right was a fount of dangerous crankiness. These people were not rational. They were emotional. These people were not forward-thinking. They were backward-looking. These people did not seek wealth through markets. They sought power through division. It took lots …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News tried to trip up Jen Psaki with a bogus voting law claim — but she quickly set the record straight

April 6, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Major-League Baseball has decided to voice its opposition to Georgia’s new voting laws by moving its 2021 All-Star Game from the Peach State to Colorado. Fox News reporter Peter Doocy brought up decision on Tuesday during a White House press conference, trying to claim that Colorado has “very similar” voting rules to Georgia — and Jen Psaki, White House press decretary for President Joe Biden, explained why Doocy’s statement was misleading.

Psaki told Doocy, “Let me just refute the first point you made. First, let me say, on Colorado: Colorado allows you to register on Election Day. Colorado has voting by mail, where they send to 100% of people in the state, who are eligible, applications to vote by mail — 94% of people in Colorado voted by mail in the 2020 election. And they also allow for a range of materials to provide — even if they vote on Election Day, for the limited number of people who vote on Election Day.”

The White House Press secretary continued, “I think it’s important to remember the context here. The Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Georgia’s top Republican elections officials have acknowledged that repeatedly in interviews. What there was, however, was record-setting turnout, especially by voters of color.”

Psaki went on to tell Doocy — who is the 33-year-old son of “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy — that Georgia Republicans are making it harder to vote because they were disappointed by Democratic victories in the state. Biden won Georgia in the 2020 election, and two Democrats were elected to the U.S. Senate via Georgia in January runoffs: Sen. Raphael Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff.

Psaki told Doocy, “What we’re seeing here, for politicians who didn’t like the outcome — they’re not changing their policies to win more votes, they’re changing the rules to exclude more voters…. It’s up to Major-League Baseball to determine where they’re holding their All-Star Game.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET