MA Family Institute wants discrimination back

Massachusetts added gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in 2016. That’s very upsetting to some people so they’re trying to get it overturned by ballot:

A November ballot question asking voters whether to keep or repeal the state’s 2016 antidiscrimination law is expected to be the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, taking the national temperature on a fiery hot social issue.

Leading the repeal effort are conservative and religious activists and some of the same groups that tried unsuccessfully for years to prevent or stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Their Keep MA Safe campaign — whose website features the bathroom video — suggests that the rights afforded by the state’s antidiscrimination law are infringing upon others’ privacy and potentially endangering women and children.

“A man can enter a woman’s space at any time, without any proof of any sort of medical or psychological condition, merely based on his internal sense of self if he says he identifies as a woman,” said Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

I have no problem with transgender people being in the same bathroom as me.  I’d be much more worried if Beckwith was in a stall next to me, he seems overly conscious of exactly who is in the bathroom with him.

Trump weighs in on MeToo, sides with harassers

A couple of men working for the Trump administration have resigned after their ex-wives claimed they abused them, I wonder what President Trump thinks?

‘‘Is there no such thing any longer as due process?’’

‘‘Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone.’’

‘‘We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him,’’ Trump said. ‘‘It was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad.’’

I guess he’s not said about the women? Of course, Trump has been accused several times himself so it’s not surprising which side he’s on.

Trump contradicts himself

During the campaign Donald Trump proclaimed that he was a friend to the LGBT community, but this still isn’t surprising:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a three-year-old Justice Department policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination under federal law.

In a memo to his US attorney offices and agency heads, Sessions said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender people from workplace discrimination by private employers and state and local governments.

‘‘Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status,’’ Sessions wrote in the memo dated Wednesday.

Trump lies all the time so you should never trust what he says and he has surrounded himself with cultural warriors (Pence, Sessions, …).

Republicans always claim that they are against abortion but won’t go against contraception. You can trust them about as much as you can trust Trump:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

And then there’s foreign policy. North Korea is a mess, especially now that it has nuclear weapons, so it’s a great time to try to pull out of the treaty with Iran that has kept Iran from developing nuclear weapons:

But Trump, after twice certifying the deal, has warned his aides that he would not do so again. As a result, the administration is looking for ways to claim Iran is in violation of the “spirit” of the accord, even if it has complied with inspection criteria.The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran was in compliance. When the agency has found minor violations, they have been quickly fixed.

This will indeed isolate a country but it might not be the US:

Britain, France, and Germany, all signatories to the agreement, are watching Trump’s deliberations with deepening concern. Diplomats from the three countries, as well as from the European Union, met with dozens of senators this week to warn them that if the United States withdrew, Europe would not follow.

Trump has no problem with being inconsistent:

The United States is poised to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan, US officials said on Thursday, recognizing the long-estranged country’s progress on human rights and counterterrorism after decades of war and abuses.

Sure, Sudan has done a lot more worse things than Iran but … Trump just doesn’t like Iran.

For fun (if you like worrying about nuclear war):

‘‘You guys know what this represents?’’ Trump asked. ‘‘Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.’’

‘‘What storm Mr. President?’’ one reporter shouted. ISIS? North Korea? Iran?

‘‘You’ll find out,’’ the president said.

Finally, via Kevin Drum, let’s look back at that IRS scandal where they targeted the Tea Party groups. Here’s KD’s summary:

In total, the IRS audited 111 left-wing groups and 19 right-wing groups based on BOLO criteria. (It’s unclear how the “healthcare” category broke out between left and right.)

The vast majority were left-wing groups, but the IRS was being so unfair to the TEA Party groups.

Some good news

Let’s break out the bad/Trump news with some good news out of Germany:

Lawmakers in Germany voted on Friday to allow same-sex marriage after a brisk but emotional debate in Parliament, setting the stage for the country to join more than a dozen European nations — including Ireland, France, and Spain — in legalizing such unions.

This would be even better news:

Approval of same-sex marriage in Germany could build momentum for similar legislation in other German-speaking countries, such as Austria and Switzerland, said Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director of ILGA-Europe, a gay and transgender rights group.

To show how mainstream this now is, there are zero comments on this article in the Boston Globe. And:

By a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed.

Yay progress.

Fuck Donald Trump

I haven’t posted too much about Donald Trump, because he’s such an obviously terrible person and yet, at times, he has polled close to Hillary Clinton. Now that we’re getting somewhat close to the election I thought I would put up all the reasons to vote against him. Since almost all of this has been reported repeatedly, I’m not going to put in many links but might add them later.

  1. Let’s start with sexism/misogyny since that’s the latest thing that has exploded. In how many ways does this come up?
    1. He brags that he can sexually assault women without consequence.
    2. He brags that he was able to peak in to look at women nude at the Miss USA pageant since he ran it.
    3. It’s so well known that he cares only about a woman’s appearance that managers at his businesses make sure that he mostly only interacts with the prettiest women so he doesn’t fire them.
    4. He’s disgusted by perfectly natural aspects of women’s body (bloods coming out of her wherever).
    5. He freely leers at women.
    6. He freely insults women’s appearance who either don’t come up to his beauty standards or say anything bad about him.
    7. He has tried to fire women who either don’t sleep with him or get pregnant.
  2. He’s incredibly racist:
    1. He discriminated against blacks in his housing complexes.
    2. He started the race by saying Mexicans are racist.
    3. He has said a judge couldn’t rule fairly against him because he is of Mexican descent.
    4. He seems to think all blacks live in slums.
    5. He was one of the most prominent people behind the conspiracy about President Obama’s birth certificate.
    6. He still believes in the case against the Central Park 5 even after evidence has proved they were innocent.
    7. He has a habit of retweeting material from white supremacists.
  3. He is biased against Muslims:
    1. He claims they celebrated after 9/11 when they didn’t.
    2. He has said that all Muslims should be kept from entering the US.
    3. He has complained about a Gold Star family because they were Muslim.
  4. He was a bad businessman:
    1. He was basically broke in the mid-1990s because he had overpaid for Trump Airlines, many buildings, and casinos. He only got out of it by help from his father and the fact that he owed so much money he was able to convince his creditors to forgo much of what he owed.
    2. He routinely doesn’t pay people for work they have done for him.
    3. He has bought into numerous scams, the largest being Trump University.
    4. Almost all of the businesses that he has started have failed.
    5. The one thing he’s good at is publicity and selling himself.
  5. He lies all the time:
    1. A group that looked at his speeches found he lies about once every 3.5 minutes.
    2. He doesn’t care if people knows he’s lying–he will lie when there’s concrete evidence that contradicts what he says.
  6. His foreign policy is a complete mess even when it’s coherent enough to judge:
    1. He has said that numerous countries should build nuclear weapons.
    2. He thinks we shouldn’t automatically back countries in NATO.
    3. He thinks we should torture which is against international law.
    4. He thinks we should kill the families of terrorists which is against international law.
    5. He praises people like Putin and Saddam Hussein.
    6. He has intimated that he would fire at groups that irk him–Iranian boats that get too close to US ships, Russian airplanes that buzz US airplanes–seemingly not caring that this might cause wars.
  7. He doesn’t seem to have many serious proposals and the ones that he does would be terrible:
    1. He’s going to build a wall without saying how, even though, in places, this is almost physically impossible.
    2. He’s going to cut taxes so much it will make the current deficit tiny even though he’s going to cut numerous programs that help the poor and middle-class.
    3. He will get rid of Obamacare with nothing to replace it.
    4. He wants to outlaw abortion and has, at least once, said that the woman should be punished.
    5. Economists say his economic plans would drive the US into recession.
  8. He has autocratic tendencies:
    1. He has a habit of praising dictators.
    2. When he makes a claim he says that he will do something.
    3. He wants to make it easier to sue the press.
    4. He thinks the old NY City policy of stop and frisk should be expanded even though it was not shown to be effective and was declared unconstitutional.
  9. He has said he would put Hillary Clinton in jail even though she has been cleared of the charges he wants to put her in jail.

This is a list off the top of my head, I’m sure there are many more reasons so I might add to the list later.

Conservatives and women

Via here, we get this:

The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

The report is here and its interpretation is much more circumspect:

The Texas data are puzzling in that they show a modest increase in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2010 (slope 0.12) followed by a doubling within a 2year period in the reported maternal mortality rate. In 2006, Texas revised its death certificate, including the addition of the U.S. standard pregnancy question, and also implemented an electronic death certificate. However, the 2006 changes did not appreciably affect the maternal mortality trend after adjustment, and the doubling in the rate occurred in 2011–2012. Texas cause-of-death data, like with data for most states, are coded at the National Center for Health Statistics, and this doubling in the rate was not found for other states. Communications with vital statistics personnel in Texas and at the National Center for Health Statistics did not identify any data processing or coding changes that would account for this rapid increase. There were some changes in the  provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

The study is actually much more scathing in regards to something much more basic:

It is an international embarrassment that the United States, since 2007, has not been able to provide a national maternal mortality rate to international data repositories such as those run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.22 This inability reflects the chronic underfunding over the past two decades of state and national vital statistics systems. Indeed, it was primarily a lack of funds that led to delays (of more than a decade in many states) in the adoption of the 2003 revised birth and death certificates. This delay created the complex data comparability problem addressed in this study. The lack of publication of U.S. maternal mortality data since 2007 has also meant that these data have received a lesser degree of scrutiny and quality control when compared with published vital statistics measures such as infant mortality. For example, had the National Center for Health Statistics and the Texas vital statistics office both been publishing annual maternal mortality rates, the unusual findings from Texas for 2011–2014 would certainly have been investigated much sooner and in greater detail. Accurate measurement of maternal mortality is an essential first step in prevention efforts, because it can identify at-risk populations and measure the progress of prevention programs.

The study notes the same thing as the WHO does here, the US is one of the few countries in the world where the mortality rate for pregnant women is going up and it has one of the highest in the developed world (for example it is double that of Canada). That’s pathetic.


Supreme court says no to Texas abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court has struck down abortion restrictions in Texas:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that have been widely duplicated in other states, a resounding win for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important consideration of the controversial issue in 25 years.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 3 decision, which said Texas’s arguments that the clinic restrictions were to protect women’s health were cover for making it more difficult to obtain an abortion.

The challenged Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and said that clinics must meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, and officials say they protect patients. But the court’s majority sided with abortion providers and medical associations who said the rules are unnecessary and so expensive or hard to satisfy that they force clinics to close.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

The Post has an article that looks at that last statement:

A key study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated that the risk of a woman dying after childbirth was 10 times greater than after an abortion. The study estimated that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died in childbirth for every 11,000 babies born. That compares with one in 167,000 women who died of abortion complications. Doctors who perform abortions say the most common complications are not bladder issues or problems with reproductive organs — as some abortion opponents like to emphasize — but mild infection that can be easily treated.

So if Texas makes more women continue their pregnancy more women will die. Even if they just delay the abortion more women will die.

Let’s throw in some data (scroll down to tables 7 or 8):

Among the 38 areas that reported gestational age at the time of abortion for 2012 (Table 7), two-thirds (65.8%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.4% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation.

and according to here:

The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.

A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk—less than 0.05%—of major complications that might need hospital care.

The Supreme Court easily figured out that these laws were not about the safety of women and all about restricting abortion.

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