We, for one, are FOR SHOCKED!
Once upon a time, Susan Collins, the Republican Senator from Maine, announced her plans to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court -- and, in doing so, explained that he was definitely not a threat to reproductive rights because of how very much he loved precedent. She assured us all that she would never, ever vote for someone whom she believed was a threat to Roe v. Wade.
There has also been considerable focus on the future of abortion rights based on the concern that Judge Kavanaugh would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. Protecting this right is important to me. To my knowledge, Judge Kavanaugh is the first Supreme Court nominee to express the view that precedent is not merely a practice and tradition, but rooted in Article 3 of our Constitution itself. He believes that precedent is not just a judicial policy, it is constitutionally dictated to pay attention and pay heed to rules of precedent. In other words, precedent isn't a goal or an aspiration. It is a constitutional tenet that has to be followed except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Because really, who can say that just because a guy allegedly tried to rape someone once, or because he has a history of voting against reproductive rights, that he's going to actually vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?
On Thursday, Brett Kavanaugh was given his first chance to show us all that Susan Collins was right and we were all just being silly, paranoid fools. Brett Kavanaugh did not do that.
She is clearly not OK and we really feel bad.
Liz Crokin has been the queen of Pizzagate and QAnon for around two years now. She says a whole lot of wacky things about a secret, blood-drinking pedophile cabal that she believes is led by John Podesta and Hillary Clinton and involves about 50,000 people, all of whom she would like to see arrested right now.
But the arrests are not happening, and she doesn't understand why. QAnon promised her mass arrests, and she does not see any of these arrests happening. She can't figure it out! Last week, she announced that if she did not get the satisfaction of seeing these arrests happen soon, she might just give up on the whole thing. This week, she stopped by The SGT Report to talk about doing some citizen's arrests herself and suggesting that if she and her ilk do not get at least one arrest to slake their thirst, they are going to start doing some vigilante justice. So that's bad!
You fucking love CRAZEE science!
First, European physicists were all, yah, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is big and all, but we want to build a particle collider longer than the Panama Canal! THEN scientists said that the Earth's magnetic pole is acting out of sorts and that the model they made that was supposed to be good until 2020, needs updating. As if THAT wasn't enough, some Israeli cancer researchers said they would have the cure for cancer ready in a year!
So, yeah, all three of those stories happened last month. Let's cover each in a science lightning round!
Trump's intel officials accuse him of 'willful ignorance,' someone leaked all his executive time, and Northam out? Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today, and none of them have anything to do with sportsball!
I guess it will have to be me!
Yesterday morning, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia went on a radio show and announced his unequivocal support for a bill that would allow doctors to just straight up murder the perfectly healthy babies of selfish, uncaring, slutty women right after those babies are born. Or, at least, that is what the stupidest people on the entire planet are accusing him of doing.
In reality, Northam -- who is actually a pediatric neurologist, mind you -- was asked whether or not he supported a bill from state Rep. Kathy Tran seeking to loosen some restrictions on third-trimester abortions, including requiring only one physician to sign off on the procedure and allowing them to be performed at a clinic rather than a hospital. He was also asked about the fact that Tran has been accused of advocating for post-birth abortions on perfectly healthy babies -- which, you know, she's not.
In fact, the bill explicitly states:
"measures for life support for the product of such abortion or miscarriage shall be available and utilized if there is any clearly visible evidence of viability."
Taking issue with the part of the bill that would require only one physician to sign off on the procedure, Northam explained what would happen if a mother were to go into labor and give birth to a nonviable infant.
"I wasn't there, Julie, and I certainly can't speak for delegate Tran. But I will tell you that, one, the first thing I would say, this is why decisions such as this should be made by providers, physicians and the mothers and fathers that are involved.
When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician by the way, and it's done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that's non-viable. So, in this particular example if the mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.
So, I think this was really blown out of proportion. But again we want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions. We want the decision to be made by the mothers and their providers. And this is why, Julie, legislators, most of whom are men, by the way, shouldn't be telling a woman what she should or shouldn't be doing with her body."
What he's describing is not an abortion. It is what happens when someone gives birth and the child is not going to survive. This is something that happens all the time in hospitals -- loved ones trying to make a tough decision on whether or not to continue treatment if a patient is not going to live, or is brain dead.
But rather than considering, for a moment, the circumstances under which deciding to continue with life-preserving efforts when there is no question that the child cannot survive, people like Curtis Houck of Newsbusters are pretending they don't know what the term "nonviable" means.
But you don't have to take my word for it! Allow BabyMed.com to explain what nonviable means:
A nonviable pregnancy means that either the fetus has no heartbeat or the hCG is not rising normally. Early in pregnancy, this could be a miscarriage or a missed spontaneous abortion. It could also be a pregnancy with a dead fetus later on in pregnancy. A nonviable pregnancy is a pregnancy without a chance of a live infant being born or without the fetus having a chance to survive if born alive.
As you may notice, at no point does Northram say "And then we kill a perfectly healthy baby for no reason." He says "The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother." What else is it that these people think should happen in this kind of situation? Do they want the child to be artificially kept alive no matter how much pain that might cause them?
There are, unfortunately, some situations in which a woman finds out late in her pregnancy that the baby isn't going to make it. There are times when someone goes through labor and gives birth to a child that cannot survive, for whatever reason. Where the child is born without a brain. Where keeping the child alive through artificial means would be extremely painful and torturous. I know people who have been through this with their very-much wanted pregnancies. It is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. This is what people are talking about when they talk about "severe deformities." They are not talking, as Caleb Hull, director of something called "Targeted Victory," disingenuously suggests, about babies born with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is not a "deformity."
Small birth defects, like a cleft palate, is also not the kind of severe abnormality that would be dealt with in this way.
They are talking about absolutely heartbreaking situations like this:
"After many examinations by experts, our baby was diagnosed with Thanatophoric Dysplasia. This condition meant her bones were measuring short (at 23 weeks she was measuring 12 weeks). The fatal part of this condition causes the chest cavity to not grow enough for her heart and her lungs.
"So upon birth when babies try and inhale for the first time, my baby girl would die from respiratory failure as her chest cavity would crush her lungs. With this diagnosis death is not peaceful; they struggle until they pass."
Insisting upon ignoring tragic circumstances like these in order to make a point about how excited liberals are to murder newborn babies is ridiculous, and comparing them to a child being born with a cleft palate is beyond cruel.
Hull, who went on about this all day, also claimed that Northam was not referring to infants who were not going to survive, but situations in which the baby was simply born with "abnormalities" or in which the mother's mental health would be impacted.
Here is the statement he is referring to, which, as you will notice, says literally nothing about "mental health:"
Republicans in Virginia and across the country are trying to play politics with women's health, and that is exactly why these decisions belong between a woman and her physician, most of whom are men.
No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor's comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor.
Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal circumstances.
Virginia's law currently prohibits third trimester abortions, except in the extreme circumstances in which a woman's life or health is at risk and that risk is certified by three physicians.
To hear Caleb tell it, however, you'd think they were talking about just stabbing a perfectly good newborn in the head because it was born with webbed feet or because the mother was kind of depressed that day. Which is not a thing anyone is doing or suggesting be done.
These statements are not made out of a belief that would happen, or concern for babies who might not get to experience the joy of taking one breath at birth and then dying from their crushed lungs. They are made out of a desire to paint women and their doctors and those who support abortion as horrible, cruel and selfish monsters who kill simply for the joy of killing, like so many lady Ted Bundys -- and they're willing to put parents through hell in order to make that point.
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Many voters in the midterms said healthcare was their top issue, and that (plus Trump) was why Democrats took an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives. So it makes sense that the first hearing the House Ways and Means Committee held was a session yesterday on preexisting conditions. There was discussion of real policy, but it didn't get too much in the way of Republicans claiming they do so care about preexisting conditions, they just want to repeal Obamacare and then figure out a way to keep people insured. Bet the free market will take care of it!
The opening statement by committee chair Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) got right to the point: The Affordable Care Act put an end to the days when an insurance company could deny you coverage (or jack up your rates) because of prior illnesses you've had. And Republicans have spent most of their time since the ACA was passed trying to undo it, and under Donald Trump, they've had some success, even without repealing Obamacare.
Meatball is cooked, Kamala kicks ass, and everyone hates Howard Schultz. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
ACT UP is demanding the US Government #BreakThePatent on Truvada.
Hey! Did you watch Rent Live But Not Really Because The Guy Who Played Roger Hurt His Ankle last night? I did! And as a former theater kid, I had some pretty big feelings about it. I will not share these feelings because, unfortunately for you all, this is not a "Robyn Complains About Musical Theater" blog. I would, however, like to talk with you about a very important thing that was brought up by ACT UP New York during the Not Live performance.
Yes. That ACT UP. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, which notably forced Wellcome to lower the price of AZT in the '80s and forced the national discussion on the AIDS epidemic to the dismay of so many politicians who were perfectly content ignoring it. They are still around, and they are still doing good work.
HIV/AIDS is also still around. In 2016, there were 39,782 new diagnoses in the United States. That is still a very large number. And while we have come a long way with education and medication and what have you, we still have a long way to go. As you may know, there is a drug, PrEP/Truvada, that is 99 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Unfortunately, as ACT UP pointed out last night...
Gilead Sciences (no, really), the company that owns the patent for Truveda, charges American consumers $1600 a month for the drug -- which only costs $6 a month to make. They hold exclusive rights to the patent for the life-saving drug, which means that no one can make a cheaper generic version, despite the fact that a generic version made by Teva Pharmaceuticals has been approved by the FDA. As a result, only 10 percent of the population that should be taking PrEP is actually taking PrEP.
RIP probably, we guess.
Yesterday, diaper fetishist Conservabro Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA went to an emergency room for what must have been the first time ever in his life. It did not go well. Well, actually, it went pretty normally, but he was very upset nonetheless.
He was escorted to the hospital by his "buddy" Kyle Kashuv -- the pro-gun Parkland shooting survivor -- for what they say was a "potential blood clot" AND a "thrown out back" at the exact same time, whereupon he was told there were not enough beds. Which, again, is normal. The part about having to wait for a bed, anyway.
Now, as you can see from the bracelet on his hand there, he was admitted by the hospital. He was not just tossed out for good and told that he had to then live on that bench forever, with his potential blood clot. This is how things work in an emergency room. They admit you, and then they do a little thing called "triage" to determine who goes in first. The worse your situation is, the faster you get treated. If they genuinely thought he had a blood clot (your WebMD self-diagnoses of a thing like that really doesn't count, they would have checked that out for themselves), he would be higher on the list. Still, he'd probably have to wait a bit because it's not as if an emergency room is going to have a lot of beds all ready and made up just in case a VIP like Charlie Kirk swings by.
Conveniently, my very own mother worked in an emergency room in Boston as a patient advocate back in the '70s (and yes, the stories are exactly as weird as you imagine), so I asked her about this.
"What does he think all the other people in the emergency room waiting room are doing? The people on gurneys with IVs stuck in their arm? Does he think they don't want beds? Like it's a restaurant and they asked for patio seating? 'Oh no, I'd like my treatment al fresco, if you don't mind'."
Perhaps ironically, Kirk has spent a lot of time tweeting about how health care is not a human right.
So, clearly, god did not think Charlie deserved to be that high on the triage list.
The comments to Kashuv's tweet revealed a whole lot of ignorance as far as how hospitalization works. Theories about how no one can get a bed because the hospitals are just too full of MILLIONS of "illegals." One fella, calling himself "Fake Clint Eastwood" was especially big on a theory that if you take an ambulance to the hospital you get treated immediately and triage goes out the window.
Again, my mom (and anyone who has ever worked in an emergency room or been to one) can tell you that no, this is not a thing. There is no special fast lane for patients who arrive via ambulance.
It's difficult to know what Kirk and Kashuv's angle was even supposed to be here. Knowing Kirk, it's gotta be something stupid. Is it that he was discriminated against because he's a conservative? Is it that he would have been seen immediately if poor people were not allowed to go to the emergency room also? Is it that there would be no triage, somehow, if hospitals were run purely on the free market?
Now, I checked, and there are at least 10 other emergency rooms in the Los Angeles area. Surely, if competition and choice were the things holding Charlie back from getting the health care he needs, he could have taken his business elsewhere to find the best services at the lowest cost available, as this is a very easy thing to do in a medical emergency. And not just in Los Angeles! In rural areas where hospitals are few and far between and closing all the time (for-profit hospitals in particular), and where there is currently a major shortage of emergency physicians. Surely, it is only the invisible hand of the free market that can correct this. That way, people in ambulances, even if they are unconscious, can just ask to be taken to the hospital with the best deal. Even if that hospital is 40 minutes away. And then, once you are there, emergency rooms can do triage based not on how serious your condition is, but how much money or how many Twitter followers you have or what your residency status is. Capitalism!
Editrix's note: Commenting rules remain in effect. No wishing death on anyone, even Charlie Kirk.
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The ignorance is strong here.
Today, a large group of people who care about children in literally no other contexts are taking to the streets of Washington DC to demand that women be forced to give birth against their will. They call it the March for Life, and this year it's packed with even more irony and less self-awareness than usual. Get this -- their theme this year is SCIENCE.
In the spirit of the march, Mitch McConnell, who has been missing for days and has claimed it would be pointless to vote on any bill during the government shutdown, who has refused to even hear any bills to reopen the government, finally decided to make his way to the Senate floor to cast a pointless, symbolic vote to make the Hyde Amendment permanent. You know the Hyde Amendment. It's the extremely gross one that makes it so those who get their healthcare from the federal government -- those on Medicare/Medicaid, veterans and those currently in the military, federal employees, Native Americans, and those in the Peace Corps -- cannot have any part of their abortions covered by their health care. This is something the Republicans do each year, and each year it doesn't happen. This year, it also did not happen. The bill, which would need 60 votes to pass, got only 47.
OI' Turtleface does not give a flying shit about all the federal workers who are going without pay -- many of whom probably even have babies -- but he will sure as hell show up for a bullshit vote to show the anti-choice crowd how excited he is about making sure the poors are denied access to basic reproductive care. Nice!
As mentioned, the theme of this year's march is SCIENCE and how being anti-choice is totally not at odds with SCIENCE. You know, even though they keep having to make up their own SCIENCE in order to make it harder to obtain abortions. They have to make shit up like "fetal pain" being a thing that can possibly even exist at 20 weeks gestation, that abortion is unsafe, that abortions can be reversed, etc. etc.
Thus, to kick things off at the march, Ben "Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings" Shapiro gave a speech that many are describing as "five commercials for products sponsoring his podcast."
You Fucking Love Science!
Someone who contracts malaria can typically expect a complete recovery with proper and timely medical intervention. However, even with that being the case, malaria still kills over 400,000 worldwide and infects over 200 million people a year. There are efforts from multiple organizations to bring these numbers down, and progress IS happening. In the year 2000, the WHO estimates that 985,000 people died, so in just under 20 years we've managed to knock deaths down 60%. Looking at the chart below, you can see it's a combination of both knocking down the incidence and the mortality. The former seems to be attributed to a massive campaign to provide insecticide-treated nets to areas where malaria occurs and the latter to making treatments more easily available.
Percherie - CHU de Rouen - Paludisme en Amérique CHU de Rouen - Paludisme en Afrique CHU de Rouen - Paludisme en Asie
While treatments are effective, getting them to patients in the poor countries where most malaria cases occur can be a challenge. Preventing the infection in the first place has an obvious advantage, but while vaccine projects are active, there are no effective ones yet. Physical barriers like nets and programs to bring mosquito populations down have obviously been successful, but now, the smarties at Target Malaria have a cool new approach that might wipe the nasty disease off the face of the Earth.
It's time to embrace the radical idea that we don't have to be miserable.
It is time to sit down and have a chat about the 70 percent marginal tax rate proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that is scaring the pants off of all the Republicans, making some Democrats a little nervous, and making me (as well as Paul Krugman and many other economists) very happy. OK? OK!
Now, let's first of all establish what this would even look like. Does it mean that you, a hardworking average American, will have 70 percent of your hard-earned money taken from you by the government and handed over to undeserving, lazy poors? It does not! It means that people making $10 million or more a year will have any excess of that taxed at 70 percent. That money will then be used to fund a Green New Deal -- a program advocated by economists and environmental activists alike -- that would help save our planet while creating jobs. Hopefully, some form of single-payer, universal childcare and pre-K, and some form of universal higher education would all be a part of that, because those are also things we desperately need in this country.
As most of you know, because you are smart, the top marginal tax rate under Eisenhower was 91 percent. But allow me, a lady named after Robyn Hode (best known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor and doing it in style), to explain why it happened, why it was good, why it's not a thing anymore, and why it needs to be a thing again if we don't want this country to fall the hell apart.
Buncha bullshit about Trump's wall, but many other stories too! Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Awww, they think they're people!
As ever, the new year brings with it a bunch of new laws going into effect and new people in office, so let's take a moment to pet and love some nifty new developments in the states. Maybe not all the states (Bad Georgia! Bad!) but there's some Good Laws and Good Government out there. Here, have a Snausage and celebrate!
California: That Doggie (And Kitty, And Bunny) In The Window Has To Come From A Shelter, Hooray!
A new breed of animal-welfare law went into effect in the Golden State January 1: Pet stores will now be banned from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits from commercial breeders. Instead, those pets will have to come from shelters. The law is the first statewide ban on sales of pets from breeders, and is intended to put "puppy mills" and "kitten factories" (and we guess ..."bunny bodegas"?) out of business. The law was passed in October 2017, but only went into effect now to give pet shops time to adjust to the new rules.
A fact sheet for the 2017 law, AB 485, explained the new regulations were intended to crack down on unregulated breeding facilities that "house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care." Pet stores violating the law will have to pay a fine of $500 per animal.
Hello Wonks! Welcome to the Sunday Rundown. With Christmas Eve upon us, I figured it's time for one last good ol' "Christmas Carol" style haunting for the wicked people of the political shows. Can't guarantee that they'll turn a new leaf and help people, but we certainly can make them fear the Christmases yet to come.
We begin with the chair of the House GOP conference and daughter of real life Grinch, Wyoming congressperson Liz Cheney. Appearing on CBS's "Face The Nation" with Margaret Brennan, the daughter with Dick Cheney's dark Sith powers and nepotism was asked about one of the many shortcomings of the Republican Party: Women.
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