Minnesota Nice Time: Give Us Your Trans Refugees, America
And good stuff for trans folks already in Minnesota, too.
In a huge move to protect its residents — and future residents — from the wave of rightwing laws criminalizing healthcare and other rights for transgender people, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz this week signed an executive order to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Minnesota. As independent journalist Erin Reed explains, once the order is fully in effect, Minnesota will rank with California and the District of Columbia among "the safest states in the U.S. for transgender individuals in terms of state policy and legislation." As executive orders protecting LGBTQ+ rights go, you could even call it "sweeping."
Noting that other states have been taking steps not just to criminalize gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, but that some, like Texas, are even trying to penalize parents of trans kids or to take children away from trans parents, Walz's order explicitly calls for Minnesota to be a "refuge for those who seek and provide gender affirming healthcare services."
Among the protections the order will ensure, it instructs all state agencies to coordinate efforts to protect people seeking gender-affirming care. That includes prohibitions on cooperating with other states' attempts to investigate trans people, their families, or their medical providers, as well as a ban on state agencies cooperating with other states' subpoenas for information on gender-affirming care.
Minnesota will also not enforce any judgments from other states that terminate parental rights because of providing gender-affirming care, which is huge in keeping families of trans kids with supportive parents. Walz himself also pledged to "exercise his discretion to refuse requests for the arrest or surrender of people charged with violation of the law in another state due to gender-affirming care."
The order also expands guarantees for Minnesotans seeking gender-affirming care in several ways, as Reed explains:
It contains several provisions to mandate health insurance companies to no longer deny transgender care. It directs state agencies to require modern standards of care. Many times when it comes to transgender care, the only things that are covered are hormones and gender reassignment surgery - this was the standard of care two decades ago. Now, things like facial feminization surgery, hair removal, prosthetics, and more are considered medically necessary and supported by evidence in the modern standards of care spelled out in WPATH 8.
In addition to mandating insurance coverage for gender-affirming care, the order requires the state to investigate insurance companies' denials of service, and would prohibit the state from contracting with insurers with a record of discriminatory denials.
And while several red states are explicitly blocking the use of Medicaid funds for gender-affirming care — including a Tennessee bill that would ban companies from working with Medicaid even if they only provide such care in other states — Walz orders user manuals for Medicaid be updated to make sure the program and providers comply with modern standards of care.
Read More: Red States About Five Minutes Away From Legalized Lynching Of Trans People
Beyond healthcare, Walz's order bans discrimination in healthcare companies and educational institutions statewide, giving the state's department of human rights the power to investigate such discrimination. Hell of a big move toward prohibiting school districts from restricting trans students from restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity.
As Reed explains, this is huge, and "goes far beyond many other safe state policies proposed or passed in other states."
Some states have “soft” safe state laws that have been passed last year or this year that protect gender affirming care providers and patients if the conduct occurred within the safe state borders. Others, such as California and Washington, D.C., protect patients and providers even if they are fleeing conduct that occurred in another state - something I have referred to as “hard” safe state laws. These laws often also protect trans kids in child custody cases. Minnesota joins those two states in protecting fleeing trans people as well as trans kids in custody situations where a parent could have their kid removed for the provision of gender affirming care.
Of course, one of the problems with executive orders is that they can be undone with a change of administration, so Minnesota state Rep. Leigh Finke, who's trans herself, has introduced a bill that would enact similar protections in state law; so far, it's made it through committee. Now that Minnesota has Democratic majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, it seems like a good bet it'll pass and be signed by Walz.
So that's now two states and the District of Columbia that will serve as sanctuaries for people fleeing the new oppressive laws red states are busily passing. Sounds like a call for a lot more blue states to expand their own protections for trans people and their families, too. We don't need a national divorce, but as long as bigots are passing these laws — and we have little reason to think the Supreme Court will stop them — there need to be as many sanctuaries as possible. Let's hope it never comes to a need for an actual "underground railroad," but being ready can't hurt.
[Erin in the Morning / Executive Order 23-03 / Image generated using DALL-E 2 AI]
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Socialist Joe Biden Forces Tech Companies To Provide Daycare Options To Get CHIPS Act $$
If you build a daycare, they will apply for jobs.
In a clever bit of regulation, the Biden administration announced this week that if chip manufacturing companies want in on the $39 billion in funding being made available to subsidize new factories through the CHIPS and Science Act, they'll need to provide a plan for making sure their employees have access to affordable, quality childcare — both for the construction workers who build the factories and for the folks who work in them. The Commerce Department will be publishing a new rule today to make that requirement official.
The idea is to create a domestic chip manufacturing industry that's not just good for the companies that make chips and need chips for manufacturing cars, appliances, and probably sex toys too, but also to make sure the tech workplace is friendly to women and working families. It's pretty nifty as industrial policy: You want to get some of the government funding, then you'll need to have policies consistent with Biden's goal of expanding the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, instead of just throwing taxpayer funds at billionaires and corporations, then hoping maybe they'll hire people.
As Axios explains, bullet points and all,
Companies who want to tap a slice of the $39 billion in funding set aside to build chip manufacturing plants will be required to submit a plan explaining how facility workers, as well as construction workers, will access child care, according to a presentation from the Commerce Department shared with Axios.
• The agency is agnostic on how companies get this done. They could build company-run onsite facilities, or outsource to a vendor. Companies could sponsor care directly or provide vouchers, discounts or cash.
• They'd need to understand what kind of care is actually available in the region, amid a nationwide shortage with a lot of regional variation.
As the New York Times explains, "Companies that receive the subsidies to build new plants will be able to use some of the government money to meet the new child care requirement," although the feds wouldn't mandate what kind of daycare solution companies choose. (Presumably, there'll be some requirement to prove that money allocated for childcare goes to it, not to an executive gym with a sign saying "changing tables" on the door.)
And while the rule would help advance a bit of Biden social policy that went poof when Joe Manchin had a tantrum and kicked all the stuffing out of Build Back Better, Commerce Department senior adviser Caitlin Legacki told Axios that the rule was primarily aimed at getting more workers into a post-pandemic labor market where many potential applicants aren't sure they can afford to go to work:
We're not doing this for the sake of putting points on the board for child care policy, but we are acknowledging that when you look at the labor market right now, one of the largest factors keeping people out of the labor market is caregiving responsibilities.
And as the Times points out, some of the companies that have announced plans to ramp up chip production have complained that it's becoming difficult to find workers. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo explained in a speech last week that providing benefits like childcare should be a no-brainer, in that case, since it's
“a simple question of math” for industries complaining of labor shortages. “We need chip manufacturers, construction companies and unions to work with us toward the national goal of hiring and training another million women in construction over the next decade to meet the demand not just in chips, but other industries and infrastructure projects as well."
Only about 3 in 10 U.S. manufacturing workers are women. Ms. Raimondo said the CHIPS Act would fail if the administration did not help companies change those numbers, by bringing in women who have children.
“You will not be successful unless you find a way to attract, train, put to work and retain women, and you won’t do that without child care,” Ms. Raimondo said in an interview.
This is far from the first set of strings being attached to the CHIPS Act funds, either. The subsidies already require that new facilities be built in the USA and prohibit chip makers who take the funds from doing stock buybacks — which has also been a condition of other Biden administration aid to businesses. Further, as the Times notes, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes labor standards and "Buy American" provisions, as Biden promised from the start. Biden's climate policy, too, seeks to use the spending power of the federal government to boost green manufacturing, as we saw in the decision to procure a mostly electric fleet of new postal delivery trucks — which will not only create jobs all he way along the EV parts supply chain, but will slash fuel costs over the life of the vehicle fleet.
For 'Climate Day,' Shirtless Joe Biden Washes Electric Car In White House Driveway
US Postal Service To Go Electric, Like Dylan At Newport
Will there be complaints that Joe Biden is trying to sneak socialist family-destroying big government daycare into industrial policy? Maybe! The real challenge will be getting this past the Supreme Court, which may decide that the Founders actually wanted child labor to be a part of any computer chip manufacturing plan instead.
[Axios / NYT / The Register / Image generated by DreamStudio Lite AI]
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The One Million Moms Have A Not-So-Fresh Feeling About Menstruating Ladies
It is in fact just one mom.
In 1985, Courteney Cox became the first person to say "period" (in reference to a menstrual period) on television, in a commercial for Tampax — which had been advertised on television since 1972.
This week, it's another Monica who has something to say about menstruation: Monica Cole! As in Monica Cole and the One Million Moms who definitely exist outside of her imagination and who are in fact in the room with her right now. She is upset about a commercial for Thinx period panties, in which a mom briefly attempts to explain to her daughter how to use a tampon, before being interrupted by the girl's hip-and-with-it sister who tells her she doesn't need to use a tampon when she can just bleed into Thinx underwear instead!
Is Monica Cole concerned this young lady is going to wish she knew how to insert a tampon should she someday get her period outside of her own home? No, she is not. She is worried about what horrors will befall families who see this commercial together.
Thinx, the manufacturer of reusable menstruation underwear called period panties, is now promoting its Thinx Teens products to teenagers in a new commercial.
It is concerning that this ad has a fully clothed mom giving her teen a tutorial on how to insert a tampon, which is repulsive and completely unnecessary in a public forum. Thinx even had to turn off the comments to the YouTube video version of this commercial because of the negative comments opposing it.
The ad begins with the mother demonstrating to her teen daughter how to insert and use a tampon. Her daughter is embarrassed because the fully clothed mother is positioned with one leg propped on the side of the bathtub and a tampon between her pants legs as she walks her daughter through the process. All the while, a camera zooms in on the mom’s crotch. Her daughter looks extremely uncomfortable.
The mom says, “Grandma helped me do this my first time.”
The humiliated daughter replies, “Mom, no!”
Nothing is left to the imagination.
Then, the teen’s older sister walks into the bathroom, gives her a pair of Thinx period panties, and tells her younger sister, “Mom won’t have to show you how to use them. You’re welcome.”
The little sister replies, “Thank you!”
How mortifying, especially for anyone watching television with peers of the opposite sex or with family members.
Plus, this inappropriate commercial airs during prime time when young children are most likely to watch television. Yet, Thinx still chose to air this commercial, despite its controversial and personal nature.
Can you imagine what goes through a child’s mind when watching these ads? Thinx should be ashamed!
Thinx also needs to know that some parents do not approve of its marketing tactics. The company may alienate customers if it continues advertising in an unnecessarily repulsive manner that offends parents.
Yes, we must hide the Curse of Blood from the (cis) menfolk! God forbid they know what we do when we go out to the red tent every month. We must keep them pure so they can keep coming out with excellent and normal takes like "Tampons should not be free, why does everyone keep saying they should be?? if u can't control ur bladder then that's not taxpayers problem!"
Or "Ladies creaming and periods is something your body is not suppose to do it's like a cold of the vagina you are releasing toxins that come from your diet & from sex with the wrong people but you also loose most of the minerals your body contains & needs which is why y'all always moody because y'all basically at a chemical imbalance all the time #FreeGame #ThankMeLater"
Or "Only reason why girls have cramps is because they eat cold stuff while they're on their cycle. At first, it may seem like eating ice cream will help you feel better with ice cream but truth is, it's just hurting your body because naturally, the blood is meant to flow out of your body. Girls, eating ice cream stops the blood from flowing out of your body. Just trust me. Therefore, my dear men, stop your girls from eating and drinking cold stuff. Get her something warm even if she's craving ice cream or any cold drinks."
It's just science!
To be clear, the mom in this commercial is not literally inserting a tampon into her vagina. True, she's not riding a horse or playing tennis and vaguely insinuating that maybe something is happening involving Windex that would necessitate the use of a tampon or pad, but it's hardly shocking.
Quite frankly, the old-timey douche commercials were far more jarring (and unnecessary because the vagina is a self-cleaning oven).
Of course, being an old-timey douche herself, Monica Cole probably finds them a lot more relatable.
Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.
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Dems Have Awesome Special Election Night. Please, Republicans, Talk More About Hunter Biden's Peenerwanger.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
There were a bunch of special elections yesterday (that's what we in the business call a real "grabber" of a lede), and a bunch of Democratic candidates won by larger margins than Joe Biden's presidential results in 2020. Also, yesterday's Wisconsin Supreme Court primary set up the chance to flip that court to Democratic control for the first time in forever. So huzzay!
Let's hop right in!
Virginia: Meet Rep.-Elect Jennifer McClellan!
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan will be headed to Congress after winning the special election for Virginia's Fourth Congressional District. She'll take the seat previously held by Rep. Donald McEachin, who won re-election to the House last November but died of cancer later that month.
McClellan was expected to win, what with the Fourth being a safe Democratic district by registration. But she didn't just win against her Republican opponent, Leon Benjamin, she stomped him. With 95 percent of the vote in, McClellan won with 74.1 percent of the vote to Benjamin's 25.9 percent. (The margin was 68-32 when the AP called the race last night.)
Benjamin also lost to McEachin in November, although by a slightly closer 30-point margin, 64.9 percent to 34.9 percent.
With her win, McClellan becomes Virginia's first Black woman in Congress, which seems like a first that should no longer be remarkable until I remember that I live in friggin' Idaho, which will likely elect its first Black member of Congress sometime around the time Idaho also has state-run socialized medicine. McClellan also becomes the 150th woman in the House, and the 28th Black woman, both of which are also records. And for you stats nerds, once she's sworn in, she'll finally bring the House to its full 435 members, at least until June 1, when David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) resigns to lead the Rhode Island Foundation.
McClellan is a veteran state lawmaker, having served 10 years in the House of Delegates (Virginia is so cute) before succeeding McEachin in the state Senate in 2016, when he was elected to Congress. She raised far more money than Benjamin did, and campaigned on her record of support for abortion rights, voting rights, and addressing climate change.
Benjamin, on the other hand, seems not to have benefited in either of his recent elections from a September fundamentalist event in Idaho where he blew a shofar to cast out all the demons in the Pacific Northwest and North America:
There’s about to be an anointing, there’s about to be a breakthrough, there’s going to be a binding of demons, a binding of witches and warlocks. You’re about to see the power of God released through the trumpet. [...]
Your shout is going to shift America into winning elections that they thought they could steal. They’re trying to steal [it] again, but the trumpet is going to confuse the electoral process, it’s going to confuse the thieves, it’s going to confuse the Dominion machines; they’re gonna break up, fire is going to hit them, and people who they thought were gonna lose are going to win!
Either God is actually pretty bad at confounding election thieves, or there weren't any to confound in the first place. OK, maybe there's no God either, but let's not get carried away here.
After winning the primary in December, McClellan said she didn't mind that if she won, she'd be coming to Congress as part of the minority party:
I spent 14 years in the minority party in the Virginia Legislature and still was able to get over 300 bills passed. [...] I think it’s a natural progression of the work that I have been doing already.”
And in fact at her victory party last night, McClellan pointed out that she had passed another two bills in the state Senate on Election Day. We like the cut of her jib!
Kentucky: Is A Dem Winning 77 Percent Of The Vote Good?
In Kentucky, Democrat Cassie Chambers Armstrong won a seat in the state Senate, with 77 percent of the vote, filling a seat that had previously been held by Democrat Morgan McGarvey, who won election to Congress in November. McGarvey had served for a decade in the state Senate.
Armstong was a member of the Louisville Metro Council before running for the state Senate. She beat Republican Misty Glin, who also lost a November bid for a seat on the Jefferson County School Board. Armstrong's election won't affect the balance of power in Kentucky's Senate, where Republicans will still hold a 30 seat to 7 seat majority once she's sworn in.
Armstrong promised in a statement to do all she could to rein in GOP shenanigans in the state Lege:
Every day we see headlines about the majority in the General Assembly attacking LGBTQ youth, continuing to starve our public schools and the children that rely on them, and writing laws that put women’s lives at risk. There is an urgent need for change in Frankfort, and I’m grateful that the voters of the 19th Senate District have given me the chance to fight for them.
Armstrong, who is a law prof at University of Louisville, will represent a heavily Democratic district. Her victory margin yesterday was actually higher than its 60 percent voter registration, and than the district's 66 percent vote for Joe Biden in 2020. Her victory is not expected to help at all in my chronic habit of confusing Kentucky and Tennessee.
New Hampshire: Chuck Grassie Re-elected To State House, Will Not Tweet Inscrutable Nonsense
In a run-off special election, incumbent Democratic New Hampshire state Rep. Chuck Grassie, with an i-e,won re-election in a rematch with Republican David Walker. The re-do election was necessary because the two had actually tied with 970 votes each in November's general election. New Hampshire is the one with the crazy 400 House members, and during the early counting in November, it looked as if the Grassie-Walker race might decide control of the state House. But now that things have settled down, Republicans will still hold a narrow majority of 201 seats to Democrats' 199, including Grassie.
"My first priority tonight is to relax," Grassie said at the end of a campaign that was extended three months after the tie in November. "I will be going to Concord tomorrow morning to meet with my fellow Democrats that I will be working with. Then, I plan on getting to work, getting caught up on what I have missed and looking forward."
Despite the similarity of his name to the Republican US Senator from Iowa, there's no evidence that Rep. Grassie has ever hit a deer with his car and assumed it was dead.
[Politico / CNN / Joe.My.God / Foster's Daily Democrat / Courier Journal]
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