Why yes, she IS running against him in the R primary.
Last week, Idaho's wackaloon Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, who likes to hang out with anti-government militias and pretends she's some sort of freedom fighter by opposing public health measures, decided that while Gov. Brad Little was out of the state, she'd just fuck around and find out if she could bring LIBERTY to Idaho.
Little had gone to a Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, and Idaho's state constitution says that when the governor leaves the state, they are no longer governor. So last Thursday, McGeachin issued a batshit crazy executive order prohibiting all state "political subdivisions" (other than nursing homes and hospitals) from mandating face masks.
As the Idaho Capital Sun 'splained, the order applied to all Idaho "public schools, counties, cities and public health districts. It also extends to state boards, commissions, departments and divisions." McGeachin said she hadn't checked with schools or informed them of the order before issuing it.
The first that Gov. Little heard of the order was right after he'd spoken at the RGA meeting, when he got a call from Secretary of State Lawrence Denney, the Capital Sun reported yesterday.
"He says, "Brad, I've got an executive order here,'" Little said in a lengthy interview [...] in his office Tuesday morning.
"That's when I first found out about it."
Little returned to Boise last Thursday night, and on Friday morning issued a new executive order undoing McGeachin's craziness. As of yesterday afternoon, the governor and the lieutenant governor hadn't spoken. In Idaho, the two officers are elected separately; they don't run together on a party ticket. It being Idaho, you're gonna have Republicans in both slots anyway. Idaho does have a two-party system, however: There are conservative Republicans like Little, and then there are bonkers whackjob far-Right Republicans like McGeachin.
This latest madness makes us wonder whether someday, the madness in the Idaho Republican Party will get so bad that voters turn away from the Rs. If they do, they'd still probably elect a Whig before a Democrat.
For educational purposes, here's McGeachin's celebratory tweet, with screenshots of the order if you want to see it:
Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties of… https://t.co/xz3vnIp8RO— Janice McGeachin (@Janice McGeachin)1622132451.0
The "whereases" of the order are really some special disinformation, so let's have a closer look-see. Just keep in mind that the CDC has published plenty of evidence that masks are effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19, and that "mask wearing has no significant adverse health effects for wearers." So this is neat: an executive order from an acting state governor that flat out lies about both those points.
WHEREAS, scientific studies show that COVID-l9 restrictions on individuals and businesses such as social distancing, gathering limitations, and the use of face masks or face coverings of any design have done significant physical, mental, social, and economic harm and were ineffective mitigation measures;
and WHEREAS, serious concerns continue to he raised regarding both short-term and long-term negative effects caused by wearing masks.
WHEREAS, the remaining mask mandates issued by the health districts, public schools, school districts, and political subdivisions of this State due to the COVID-19 fail to serve a public health or safety purpose and unnecessarily restrict the rights and liberties of individuals and business in this State.
Once again: Bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit, right down to the assertion that masking is no longer needed. The CDC has said fully vaccinated people can go without masks, but unvaccinated people should continue wearing masks. And there are still COVID-19 outbreaks in Idaho, which have led some school districts and individual schools to continue their mask orders.
After rescinding McGeachin's order Friday, Little issued a scathing press statement condemning her "irresponsible abuse of power" right in the headline. Little proudly noted that he had never issued a statewide mask mandate because he believed in local control, although we'd argue that if he had, it's possible we would have had fewer than nearly 2,100 COVID deaths. But he added that he also "didn't undermine separately elected officials" who have the authority to set rules locally.
And then he got mean, calling McGeachin's order "not gubernatorial," and an "irresponsible, self-serving political stunt."
And then, like Beto O'Rourke speaking correct but very stilted Spanish, Little showed off his ability to speak Tea Party as a Second Language, saying,
This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny – something we all oppose.
How ironic that the action comes from a person who has groused about tyranny, executive overreach, and balance of power for months.
Why yes, McGeachin did recently announce her plans to run for governor in 2022, and while Little hasn't formally announced he'll run for reelection, that certainly sounded like a stump speech there.
On more practical matters, Little also pointed out that, as written, McGeachin's order could have endangered people, since its blanket ban on non-hospital mask mandates would have prohibited requirements for masks to be worn by "social workers visiting homes of at-risk individuals, or workers in our state testing lab, or employees at congregate facilities" [he means prisons — Dok] that are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious disease.
No, he was not done. He noted that the order conflicted with other state laws, and added, "This is why you do your homework, Lt. Governor."
At that point, we wondered whether a representative for the Federation of Corporal Punishment Advocates might step in and say "enough, already!"
Now, Little did tell the Capital Sun that he had tried to call McGeachin Friday morning to let her know that he'd be rolling back her executive order with one of his own (or as he put it in the statement, taking action to "clean up a mess" caused by her "flimsy executive order"). But he hadn't heard back from her by the time of the interview Tuesday. He added that while they've managed to be "civil, but maybe not cordial" during the pandemic, "It's no secret it's going to be a little tougher going forward."
Without elaborating, Little said McGeachin's executive order will affect his decisions to travel out of state in the future.
"Obviously it will factor into some of my calculations," he said.
For her part, McGeachin doesn't appear to have responded directly to Little, although on Tuesday, she tweeted that she had acted "to uphold my sworn oath to uphold and protect the rights of our citizens in Idaho," citing the US and Idaho constitutions, and the "rule of law in Idaho."
We're not so sure we agree with her constitution work there, because over the weekend, she'd appeared on a rightwing podcast to explain how, according to her understanding of those documents, all the federal land in Idaho actually belongs to the state. Guess she's not gonna let Ammon Bundy steal her thunder!
Also too, last night she appeared on the Tucker Carlson Insurrection Hour to inveigh against "anti-white indoctrination" in the schools, so really, she's already way finished with her little executive order stunt.
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Who knew that Mixed Martial Arts might not prepare a bro for local office?
After just six months in office, Tito Ortiz, a former UFC fighter inducted into that sport's hall of fame, resigned Tuesday night as mayor pro tem (essentially a vice mayor) of Huntington Beach, California. After being elected on an anti-mask platform, calling the COVID-19 crisis a "plandemic" at his swearing-in, spreading Donald Trump's big election lie, and then crying a whole bunch about being victimized by cruel partisans, Ortiz will now serve as a warning to children that being on TV in a made-up sport (calm down, all sports are made up) doesn't mean you're fit to hold a position of public trust.
We had never heard of Mr. Ortiz prior to being assigned this story, and we'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Our Editrix for the chance to learn about a lunkhead whose idiotic behavior deserves to be made fun of and quickly forgotten, at least until he ends up hijacking an ice cream truck and crashing it through the doors of a federal building, leaving several bureaucrats overcome by sprinkles.
In his resignation speech at last night's City Council meeting, Ortiz insisted that he had been the victim of "character assassination" by the media, which very unfairly reported things he'd said and done. He said that the last straw was that his children were being "attacked," by which he presumably meant accurate reporting on his sons being sent home from school for not wearing masks, and bringing a bogus document claiming they were exempt from mask requirements based on "religious freedom." (We'll just note that the Orange County Register, at least, didn't include the boys' names, ages, or the name of the middle school they attend, only the district.)
Here's Ortiz in his operatic debut as Pagliacci:
TITO RESIGNED 🎉🎉 https://t.co/Zcnz9fuMm3— 👽🦋🌎🌹🌈 (@👽🦋🌎🌹🌈)1622599868.0
"To put it simply," Ortiz said, "this job isn't working for me." It's unclear whether the lone person applauding as he stood to leave was a fan, or just glad to see him go.
From the start, Ortiz made a nuisance of himself by constantly making an issue of his refusal to wear a mask, as well as his stance opposing vaccinations. Just days after the election, well before his December swearing-in, Ortiz
tried to attend a [City Council] strategic planning meeting at the local library, but was barred from the building by the mayor because he refused to wear a mask. Ortiz's anti-mask stance was part of his campaign platform, so he called into the meeting from his car instead of going home and getting a mask.
Eventually, the City Council voted to continue holding meetings remotely because Ortiz continued to refuse to wear a mask for in-person meetings.
In a January incident, Ortiz got into a tiff with a local burger joint, TK Burgers, after he was refused service for not wearing a mask.
I hope Tito continues to post these reaction videos whenever he gets denied service or kicked out for not wearing a… https://t.co/tsMTleko0D— Borrachinha Depot (@Borrachinha Depot)1610925575.0
So they won't let me order unless I have a mask to come in. First time all year I've actually been forced to wear a mask. But I'm not wearing a mask. TK Burger, you lose my business, you lose HB's business.
His pissy reaction, oddly, did not win Ortiz scads of adoring followers or inspire a boycott, but instead resulted in a surge of mask-wearing customers at TK Burgers. Ortiz eventually apologized on Facebook for his "bad decision," saying he understood how difficult things have been for small businesses, and that he "would never want to ruin that business," at least after trying to ruin that business and beclowning himself.
Oh, but that was just small (fried) potatoes compared to Ortiz's next imbroglio, in which the OC Register discovered he had inexplicably filed for unemployment compensation in February, although the story broke in late April.
Naming the city as his employer, he gave his first day of work as Dec. 7, 2020 – when he was sworn in after comfortably winning his seat in the November election. He stated that his last day of work was Feb. 9, 2021, although he still serves on the council.
On the portion of the unemployment application that asks for a "reason for separation," Ortiz listed, "Still working part-time or on-call – related to the coronavirus (COVID-19)."
NBC Los Angeles confirmed with Mayor Kim Carr that Ortiz had not been laid off:
He's been receiving the same amount of wages and hour. It's my understanding that city council members are not eligible for unemployment, particularly when they are receiving their full salary.
Oh yes, and then there's this tidbit from the OC Register story: Ortiz owns
two Huntington Beach businesses – Punishment Athletics clothing store and Punishment Training Center gym. He has a house in Huntington Harbour worth about $4 million.
Guess some people really are tempted into a life of idleness by those great big $300-per-week emergency unemployment benefits, then.
In its story on Ortiz's resignation, the Register dutifully notes that Ortiz has "denied that his unemployment claim was improper, saying the allegations were politically motivated."
At last night's City Council meeting — the first in months at which masks were no longer required — Ortiz complained that "From day one, when I was sworn in, and I was met with hostility and judgement," and that he'd been "the sole focus of character assassination each and every week with multiple news stories and leaked personal information, all of which were to slander and defame my name."
And then he went on to whine about the "attacks" on his family, and his fears for their safety, although he didn't actually provide any examples of their being endangered by anything other than his insistence that the virus is fake news. That threat, too many people have learned, is all too real.
In conclusion, as with that Florida gentleman named Pork Chop, we're glad to have learned this guy existed, and equally happy to be far, far away from him, the end.
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California judge dismisses murder charges against Chelsea Becker
Yesterday, a judge in California dismissed murder charges against Chelsea Becker, for having a stillborn baby.
Prosecutors had argued the baby died because Becker, who struggles with addiction, caused the stillbirth by ingesting meth during her pregnancy, but Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Shane Burns ruled that they hadn't presented any evidence that Becker knew when she took the drugs that doing so could kill her baby.
The outcome is right. Pregnancy should not be criminalized.
But, unfortunately, this is not the end of the bigger fight.
In September 2019, Chelsea Becker, then 26 and nearly 9 months pregnant, delivered a stillborn son. After she gave birth to Zachariah Joseph Campos, at Adventist Health hospital in Hanford, California (near Fresno), hospital workers who thought she might have used drugs while she was pregnant alerted the Kings County Coroner's office.
Two months later, prosecutors charged Becker with murder, citing an autopsy report that Zachariah had "toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system." The court set her bail at $5 million.
Becker sat in jail for more than a year before eventually being transferred to a drug treatment center earlier this year. (After the ruling, Becker's lawyers said she would be staying at the treatment facility for now.)
Rather, this is an attempt to "polic[e] pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes in general." Paltrow celebrated the dismissal but noted that Judge Burns had left the door open for future prosecutions of pregnant women.
"This is such an important victory," Lynn Paltrow ... said Thursday. "We are so grateful that Chelsea Becker was willing to fight this egregious charge to try to ensure that no one else has to face a murder charge for experiencing a stillbirth."
Still, she said, the outcome was slightly bittersweet.
"This prosecution based on a misinterpretation of state law resulted in somebody being deprived of her liberty and exposed to the real danger of COVID for 16 months of her life," she said. "This cost taxpayers innumerable dollars in terms of the incarceration as well as all of the time to pay for the prosecution in this case, money that could have been used to improve access to healthcare in their community."
So why the fuck is this happening?
In 1970, the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Robert Harrison Keeler. Keeler had been found guilty of murder after he badly beat his ex-wife, trying and succeeding at killing the baby she was having with another man.
In response the California legislature added fetuses to its murder law, with the intention of being able to charge people who attack pregnant people. The law included an exception for abortion, saying it does not apply to acts "solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus[.]"
That language would seem to preclude prosecutions against women like Chelsea Becker. Unfortunately, however, the California Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled that you can't prosecute someone for losing a baby.
So initially Judge Burns sided with the DA, allowing the case to proceed. And when he dismissed the case against Becker, Judge Burns also made it clear that the case was being dismissed because of a lack of evidence, not because the law was being improperly applied.
Becker's nightmare isn't over yet. The prosecution can still appeal the ruling or request a new preliminary hearing. According to executive assistant district attorney Phil Esbenshade, Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes, the asshole who chose to prosecute her in the first place, "will review the record and the transcript of Thursday's proceedings before deciding how to move forward."
Fagundes also said he disagreed with the court's ruling.
"It is the opinion of our office that sufficient evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing to hold Ms. Becker to answer for trial," he wrote in an email. "The judge who presided over that preliminary examination, upon hearing that evidence and considering arguments from both sides, did find such sufficient evidence existed. Judge Burns, the judge who dismissed the case this morning, apparently disagrees with that finding."
So it's very possible that Fagundes will keep trying to throw Becker in prison.
For their parts, both former California Attorney General and current HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and current AG Rob Bonta have both strongly opposed Becker's prosecution. Like Becerra wrote in an amicus in Becker's case, prosecutions like this "subject all women who suffer a pregnancy loss to the threat of criminal investigation and possible prosecution for murder."
Stop criminalizing pregnancy
Robert Burns. Phil Esbenshade. Keith Fagundes. Xavier Becerra. Rob Bonta.
That sure is a lot of men making decisions about people with ovaries.
Sadly, Chelsea Becker isn't the only person being prosecuted for losing a child. She wasn't even the only woman in California behind bars for it.
"We are seeing an increasing number of women who are arrested for experiencing miscarriages and stillbirths," said Lynn M. Paltrow, founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Between 1972 and 2005, Paltrow's organization documented 413 cases in 44 states and the District of Columbia in which women were arrested or detained for reasons related to pregnancy, she said. About 84% of them involved drug use. In the 14 years since, she estimates there have been about 900 additional cases.
Like Chelsea Becker, Adora Perez also delivered a stillborn baby at Adventist Health hospital in Hanford, where staff again called the coroner to report suspected drug use after delivering a stillborn baby.
The same prosecutor, Keith Fagundes, charged Perez with murder. The same judge, Robert Burns, allowed the case to proceed.
It's not exactly shocking that these cases involve all of the same players. Things like this happen when you have religious hospitals and shitty local politicians who are all too happy to work together to persecute women and pregnant people.
A hospital ready and willing to accuse its patients of murder. An obliging coroner, district attorney, and local judge.
Apparently, those are all the things you need to criminalize pregnancy. Even in California. In 2021.
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He’s not even fit to be our latex salesman.
Republicans have a nominee for the 2021 governor's race, and it's ... this guy: Glenn Youngkin is a first-time candidate who's never held elected office, but he's rich! That never ends well, but Republicans are gonna keep trying.
I am prepared to lead, excited to serve and profoundly humbled by the trust the people have placed in me. Virginian… https://t.co/SnpKRLExP6— Glenn Youngkin (@Glenn Youngkin)1620698834.0
After securing the nomination, Youngkin tweeted Monday: “Virginians have made it clear that they are ready for a political outsider with proven business experience to bring real change in Richmond." He hit all the buzz words in his political Mad Libs.
Two days ago, roughly 30,0000 Virginians out of almost 6 million registered voters cast ranked-choice ballots for six candidates in the Republican convention. Youngkin's opponents were knocked from contention one by one, and their supporters' next-choice votes were re-allocated until Youngkin finally passed the required 50 percent threshold after the sixth round of voting. His last remaining rival in this tournament of champions, Pete Snyder, conceded the race after 12 long hours of vote counting. He sent Youngkin his “heartfelt congratulations" and pledged his full support. What a RINO! These days, you never graciously concede a race you obviously lost.
State Senator Amanda Chase, who was censured for calling January 6 insurrectionists “patriots," vowed to contest the results if she lost: "If I come out of this election as anything other than the victor, of course, we are going to have a full audit." Her supporters, who presumably exist, accused Snyder's backers in the state GOP of engineering a “disassembled convention" instead of a primary in order to hurt her chances, which were never good in the first place. Chase ran as “Trump in heels." Not only is that image revolting, but the one-term loser is extremely unpopular in Virginia. President Joe Biden beat him senseless last year with a 10-point margin.
However, GOP insiders feel bullish about Youngkin because he's your normal terrible Republican. Unlike that super freak Chase, voters might consider bringing him home to mother. However, despite his more polished veneer, Youngkin has already associated himself with extremist positions, including the Big Lie. He declared “voter integrity" a top issue and claimed Dominion voting machines were “the most important issue" of the campaign. If elected, he's promised to restore a state voter identification law.
That's not all: As governor, Youngkin would replace the entire state board of education, sweeping away the last remnants of the old Republic, and institute Lost Cause propaganda, the 1776 Project, to make kids stupid. He's also campaigned with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whom the New York Times describes as "a bête noire of the left." That's a less-than-straightforward way of saying we think he sucks, but it's not just “the Left." He's not getting many dinner party invitations from Republicans, either.
Youngkin will supposedly “pivot" to reach independent voters, who are about 30 percent of the electorate. The one-term loser narrowly won independents in 2016, as did Republican Ed Gillespie in the 2017 governor's race. However, President Klan Robe cratered among independents in 2020 with just 38 percent of the vote to Biden's 57 percent.
Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report argues that Youngkin has a good shot at winning. This assumes that voters might naturally want a change after two consecutive Democratic governors. But the country's much more polarized now, and local races are effectively nationalized. Wasserman argues that North Virginia's anti-T****p moderates aren't automatically Democratic voters in statewide elections. However, the GOP has gone out of its way to remain a MAGA party, and disaffected former Republicans might find less reason to “return home."
Democrats also hold a sizable party identification advantage, and Black voters are about 20 percent of the electorate (seven points higher than the national average). Hillary Clinton carried Virginia with just 35 percent of the white vote. That's a helluva floor. Democrats also control the General Assembly and the governor's office so Republicans can't pass voter suppression bills. It's an uphill battle for the party when they can't cheat.
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