Around these parts, we call that a Nice Time!
Here’s some good news during an awful week: Democrat Carol Glanville won the 74th Michigan House District special election. Her victory’s considered quite the upset because well, she’s a Democrat in 2022 but more specifically, her district is hardcore Republican. In 2020, Donald Trump carried the area by 16 percentage points, and state Rep. Mark Huizenga won the seat by more than 26. The GOP likely considered the 74th a safe hold when Huizenga moved on up to the 28th state Senate seat.
West Michigan values of integrity, decency, and care for the common good won tonight. The people of the 74th District have spoken, and I hear you. We are united in fundamental ways, and I will take our values and concerns to the Capitol to affect (sic) positive change. Thank you!
West Michigan values of integrity, decency, and care for the common good won tonight. The people of the 74th District have spoken, and I hear you. We are united in fundamental ways, and I will take our values and concerns to the Capitol to affect positive change. Thank you!pic.twitter.com/V1fCaRShFG— Carol Glanville (@Carol Glanville) 1651629972
Wow, the font in that tweet is delivering some serious MySpace flashbacks.
Glanville’s Republican opponent was Robert Regan, who won just 40 percent of the vote to Glanville’s 51. Wha’ happened? Well, Regan is a racist Big Lie promoter. That’s normally not enough to budge the needle these days, but Regan is so awful his own daughter issued an anti-endorsement for his previous failed campaign in 2020. Stephanie Regan tweeted: “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone.”
Ever the concerned father, Regan claimed Stephanie had gotten "sucked into this Marxist, communist ideology” at the University of Colorado in Boulder. (If you watch reruns of "Mork & Mindy," which is set in Boulder, you’ll notice the fairly blatant Marxist tracts.)
Back in May, during a Facebook Live discussion hosted by the rightwing Rescue Michigan Coalition, Regan brought up his daughters as part of some twisted rape analogy: “I tell my daughters, ‘Well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.’ ”
Yes, that’s what he said. Here’s the video:
\u201cI tell my daughters, \u2018If rape is inevitable, you should just lay back and enjoy it,\u2019\u201d says Robert Regan, the favorite to represent MI\u2019s 74th district in the state house.pic.twitter.com/3APRLfKxgG— Ross Jones (@Ross Jones) 1646674855
The Michigan GOP denounced Regan, who’d won his party’s primary by just 81 votes.
Glanville, a Walker city commissioner, easily raised more money than Regan, who mostly self-funded the campaign he set on fire with inappropriate rape analogies. He’s also said some crazy things about COVID-19 and Jewish people.
In May 2021, Regan claimed over social media that "feminism is only applied against white men, because it has absolutely nothing to do with protecting women as a sex or defending the feelings of individual women. It is a Jewish program to degrade and subjugate white men.”
On his Facebook page, he shared an image of this quote with the logo of Smoloko News, a now-defunct antisemitic website. He’s also shared gross libels about the Rothschild family, who are at the center of antisemitic conspiracies claiming Jews control the banks and not just the buildings but all the money kept inside. He posted a QAnon meme that called “(((Them)))” the “real virus.” Assholes use the triple parentheses to quickly identify themselves as repulsive antisemites.
In another post, Regan called billionaire philanthropist George Soros a “Jewish communist investor” and “pure evil.” Republicans like to smear Soros as a destructive force without actually calling out that he’s Jewish. This gives them plausible deniability, but Regan’s not one for subtlety. It’s why his daughter plausibly denies him.
Despite everything, Regan was still a favorite to win the special election, so thank God Glanville helped us dodge that bullet. Her term is set to expire at the end of the year, when new district lines go into effect. She’s already filed to run again in the 84th House District (it's redistricted) this fall. She’ll face off against Regan the Nazi election denier and Mike Milanowski, a slightly less loathsome Republican.
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Help your local abortion fund.
Now that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's abortion decision draft has leaked, there's little question: Whatever revisions there might be, it's clear that the Supreme Court will overturn the legal right to an abortion in June. Roughly half the states will immediately outlaw most abortions, with more to follow in the coming months, while Republicans scheme to retake the federal government and ban abortion nationally. That latter threat is a while off — 2025 at the earliest! — so while we do everything possible to keep a wholesale rollback of democracy, we also need to do all we can to help people get abortions even after Roe is gone. In a lot of places, that's going to mean helping them travel to states where it's still available, as well as to pay for the procedure.
Some ugly realities, from New York magazine:
If Roe is overturned, the Guttmacher Institute predicts that abortion would be explicitly or effectively outlawed in at least 26 states. According to one estimate, 41 percent of women of childbearing age, mostly across the South and Midwest, would lose access to their nearest clinic, potentially increasing their average travel time by hundreds of miles. And Republicans have already been chipping away at access in these states for years, making abortion virtually inaccessible even if technically legal.
If you’re feeling terrified and want to take action, the best thing you can do is donate to an abortion fund: an on-the-ground organization that helps arrange and pay for abortion care for patients who need it. In states where access has been whittled away almost entirely, these funds also help pay for transportation and lodging for patients who have to travel hours, sometimes crossing state lines, just to access health care.
Nationally, there's likely to be a lot of money going to Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice. They're really worthy organizations that are fighting at the national level. They'll also be getting lots of donations in the coming weeks, so we're suggesting that if you're only able to help out with a small donation, get your money to an abortion fund instead, to a local abortion nonprofit, or to the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), which helps fund abortions directly for those who need help paying for an abortion. (If you can afford to help an abortion fund and one of the big national groups, great, do both!)
That New York article lists abortion funds in 31 states where abortion rights are under direct threat (the 26 states that will likely eliminate the right altogether, plus five more where abortion will remain legal, but lacks legal protections in state law). We won't copy all of them because there's the linky right there. They're listed in approximate order of "how dire the situation in their respective states is, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights’ 'What If Roe Fell?' report, starting with the 13 states that have "trigger" laws that would automatically ban most abortions the minute the Supremes overturn Roe. Here's their list of the abortion funds for those 13 states; you can click over to read the summary of the situations there, which can generally be explained as "dire":
Mississippi: Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, Access Reproductive Care-Southeast
Texas: Fund Texas Choice, West Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund, Stigma Relief Fund, Clinic Access Support Network, Lilith Fund, SYS (Support your Sistah), The Bridge Collective, Jane’s Due Process
West Virginia: Women's Health Center of West Virginia's Choice Fund, Holler Health Justice
Kentucky: Kentucky Health Justice Network, A Fund, Inc
Missouri: Missouri Abortion Fund
Arkansas: Arkansas Abortion Support Network
South Dakota: South Dakota Access for Every Woman
Louisiana: New Orleans Abortion Fund
North Dakota: North Dakota Women in Need Abortion Access Fund
Wisconsin: Women’s Medical Fund
Indiana: All-Options Hoosier Abortion Fund
Idaho: Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Utah: Utah Abortion Fund
In addition to the New York article, check the National Network of Abortion Funds for abortion funds near you.
If you'd like to make a single donation that will go to several organizations, you might consider a couple of ActBlue campaigns as well. This one supports a total of 29 abortion funds and pro-choice activist groups; you can choose to have your donation divided evenly among them, or specify which of the 29 groups you'd like your money to go to. And this campaign supports three groups in Arizona, which has a pre-Roe abortion ban that will go back into place when Roe is overturned.
On the political side, Kansas will be holding a referendum August 2, in conjunction with the state's primary elections, on a constitutional amendment that would declare that nothing in the state's constitution protects a right to abortion, or a requirement to fund any abortions. If passed, Kansas would join four other states that have passed such amendments to preclude state court challenges to abortion laws, and to prevent paying for abortions under Medicaid. To donate to the campaign opposing the amendment, here's the ActBlue linky for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. Defeating the amendment wouldn't formally protect abortion rights like other states have, but it would at least keep the state constitutional status quo.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, after you've made a donation to an abortion fund, please consider giving $5 or $10 a month so we can help you stay up to date on the unfolding tragedy — and fight it like hell.
But it's only for a year — to start.
If you want a vision of a possible future, maybe stop imagining George Orwell's "boot stamping on a human face, forever," and instead imagine a preschool class full of squirmy youngsters, learning and playing and generally being wonderful and sometimes a pain in the ass, as small children can also be.
What can I say? I love the pessimistic old English socialist who rightly feared the totalitarian impulse, but sometimes I end up feeling far more hopeful, like when I read about New Mexico's new initiative to completely cover childcare costs for most residents of the state for a year (free link to Washington Post). I can be a sap that way. I'm also the guy who tears up when Tom Joad tells his mother he'll be there in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready.
Starting May 1 and running through June 2023, the state will cover child care for families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which ought to cover most New Mexico families. It's easily the broadest state child care benefit in the USA, and the first state benefit to cover such a wide range of incomes. It'll be available to a family of four making up to $110,000 annually, as the Washington Post 'splains:
The state recently expanded a federal child-care subsidy to middle-class families. On Thursday, Lujan Grisham said it would eliminate co-pays for them, too. Officials estimate both changes will make child care free for a total of 30,000 families.
This is pretty freaking wonderful; Lujan Grisham announced the expanded benefit yesterday on her website and at a child care center in Albuquerque, and the video is worth skimming through, if only for the occasional shots of a tiny little girl doing her level best to show interest in all these grownups talking about policy.
With the workforce still recovering from pandemic chaos — not that life for working families was a picnic beforehand! — the expanded childcare benefits will give a lot of workers the option of going back to work, or even starting small businesses themselves because they'll have more flexibility. This isn't just good news for families; it'll also be a boost for businesses that have had a hard time filling positions in the unsettled pandemic economy.
Mario Cardona, the chief of policy and practice for Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit that advocates for affordable child care, called the announcement “the type of thing that we should be seeing across the country.”
Though other states, including Georgia, Virginia and Kansas, have expanded eligibility and made child care more affordable during the pandemic, none have gone as far as New Mexico, which has committed a historic and unusual amount of resources to the sector, Cardona said. Other states have largely relied on federal relief from the Cares Act and the American Rescue Plan to pay for child-care improvements, but the last of those dollars expires in 2024 and lawmakers may be hesitant, Cardona said, to roll out new programs using temporary money.
But with the federal bennies starting to run out in a couple years, how on earth will New Mexico pay for all this outrageous socialism? Easy peasy: It's not just using the federal pandemic funds. This has been a priority for the state for a while now:
New Mexico, by contrast, has created permanent pots of money. In early 2020, the state spent $300 million to create its Early Childhood Education and Care Fund. The endowment, which draws on taxes from oil and natural gas production, is projected to be worth $4.3 billion by 2025.
That endowment is especially important to Lujan Grisham's next goal, which is to make the expanded child care benefit permanent, by using some $127 million a year from another source, New Mexico's Land Grant Permanent Fund — but to allow the state to tap those funds, voters will need to pass an initiative in the November election.
On top of the expanded benefits for a year, Lujan Grisham also announced the state would use $10 million in discretionary funds from the American Rescue Plan to offer grants to new or expanded daycare centers, to make sure there's enough quality child care to meet the increased demand.
In addition, the state will beef up the child care workforce with a new stipend program that will pay up to $2000 per semester for early childhood professionals enrolled in state universities or community colleges; that's on top of an existing scholarship program to get more people enrolled in the field.
The new benefits will start helping a lot of working and middle-class families right away, as the Post explains:
Melissa Martinez, a single mother of a 3-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, said the news came as a great relief after the pandemic. Martinez said she has experienced tremendous financial setbacks over the last two years and has found herself unable to afford child care at times. The co-pay waiver will save her $120 a month.
“Unfortunately, $120 does go really far in a single-income household,” Martinez said. “That goes to pretty much all of our necessities, basic necessities like shampoo. You would be surprised how many bottles of soap I’ve been through because my little guys love to play in the bath.”
Why yes, when you're raising kiddos and you don't have a great big pile of birthday stock holdings from your rich dad, $120 extra a month can mean a hell of a lot. Martinez, who volunteers with a nonprofit that advocates for early childhood education and is therefore probably awfully biased in favor of children, told the Post that
she has met dozens of low-income families who have long been afraid to earn more money because they worried they would no longer qualify for the federal child-care subsidies states give low-income parents. By expanding the eligibility for the program, Martinez said she and other parents will feel empowered to look for better paying jobs.
This is a big heckin' deal, and it's been a central goal for Lujan Grisham, who campaigned on improving New Mexico's previously abysmal rankings for children's well-being. In addition to ramping up opportunities for child care, New Mexico this year also became one of the very few states to start providing a state child tax credit, too.
We could do this as a nation. It was in the Build Back Better bill, which would have provided child care and expanded the child tax credit that measurably reduced child poverty. The idea strikes me as far preferable to an agenda of attacking gay kids, censoring school books, and just generally making life crappier for America's children. But as I say, I'll take optimism where I find it. We could be so much better. Maybe we're all just part of one big soul, and we could act like it.
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