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Pierce writes: "Not to put too fine a point on it, but our state legislatures have gone completely crackers, especially the ones run by, well, crackers."

In this Wednesday April 17, 2019 file photo, Bianca Cameron-Schwiesow, from left, Kari Crowe and Margeaux Hardline, dressed as handmaids, take part in a protest against HB314, the abortion ban bill, at the Alabama State House in Montgomery. (photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/AP)
In this Wednesday April 17, 2019 file photo, Bianca Cameron-Schwiesow, from left, Kari Crowe and Margeaux Hardline, dressed as handmaids, take part in a protest against HB314, the abortion ban bill, at the Alabama State House in Montgomery. (photo: Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/AP)

The Anti-Abortion Nuts Are Playing for Keeps This Time Around

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

12 May 19

In Alabama and Georgia and Ohio, Republicans are trying to sneak some Bible-thumping insanity through the state legislatures.

ot to put too fine a point on it, but our state legislatures have gone completely crackers, especially the ones run by, well, crackers. I was going to lead with the insanity raging in Tennessee, but then, at the very last minute, Alabama came roaring in with a late entry as their lege came dangerously close to degenerating into a Russian parliamentary election. The redoubtable crew at has the blow-by-blow.

The Senate abruptly removed a rape and incest exception from the bill without allowing a roll call vote on that decision. The move shocked Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, who had just said at the Senate mic that he wanted a roll call vote on every question concerning the abortion bill. Singleton and other Democratic senators strongly objected to Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth for his quick gavel on tabling the rape and incest amendment on a voice vote, meaning there is no recorded vote.
Ainsworth said he followed Senate rules. As that disagreement simmered, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, moved to delay a vote on the abortion bill until next week. Marsh supports the rape and incest amendment and said he expects a vote on it next week when the Senate reconsiders the bill. The bill, which passed the House last week, is intended to trigger a challenge to the Roe v. Wade decision. Doctors would be charged with a felony for performing or attempting to perform an abortion. The woman would not be liable. The bill would allow abortions to protect the woman from serious health risks. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 74-3 vote last week, with the Republican majority supporting it. Democrats opposed the bill and offered amendments but most did not participate in the final vote.

Can't fully appreciate it without the video, however. Here's a nifty little profile of Will Ainsworth, the Alabama lieutenant governor who tried to pull this trick off. He sounds like a very serious fella.

The fetus obsessives and Bible-bashers are playing for keeps this time around, as we saw on Wednesday in Georgia. Here, they tried a sneak-thief approach to removing even the traditional rape-and-incest exception when nobody was looking. It's even weirder in Ohio, where they are considering a bill that will mandate something that nobody can do. From the Statehouse News Bureau:

The bill would ban nontherapeutic abortions that include "drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” And Becker says the bill also speaks to coverage of ectopic or tubal pregnancies where the fertilized egg attaches outside of the womb. “Part of that treatment would be removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill," Becker explains. “That doesn’t exist in the realm of treatment for ectopic pregnancy. You can’t just re-implant. It’s not a medical thing," says Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

In the middle of a genuine crisis in maternal mortality, the jamokes in the Ohio legislature are preparing to mandate some Jules Verne nonsense they thought up while waiting for the 5:15 showing of Unplanned, despite the fact that their fantasmic feature might kill the human beings they apparently believe exist only as vessels. It's all about repealing Roe, of course, and these laws are so completely nuts that they bespeak nothing more than the fact that their authors believe the moment has come around at last in the Supreme Court. Thank god Real Progressives didn't fall for the "blackmail" about the courts that supervillain Hillary Rodham Clinton was pitching in 2016.


OK, so now up to Tennessee, where all of the action orbits a guy named Cade Cothren who, until Wednesday, was the chief of staff to the speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Glen Casada. (Carl Hiassen apparently is now the casting director for the Tennessee legislature.) Cothren allegedly had a bit of a #MeToo problem much in the same way as the Everglades have a bit of a #BigSnakes problem. From USA Today:

Cothren’s explicit text messages include: soliciting oral sex and naked photos from an intern; suggesting he would make sexual advances toward another intern; seeking sex with a lobbyist; referring to another woman as a “cunt”; and calling Metro police officers who gave him parking tickets “rent a cop cocksuckers.” The text messages range from early 2014 to fall 2016 when Cothren served as House Republicans’ press secretary.
In an interview Monday, Cothren admitted that he had sent “derogatory” texts to women in the past, but declined to elaborate on those messages or his behavior toward women. Cothren in January became Casada’s chief of staff, earning $199,800. “I’m just not the same guy that I was several years back,” Cothren said. “I was young and dumb and immature. There’s no excuse for it at all, and I’m not trying to make excuses, but I can tell you that I have changed since then.”

Translation From the Original Weaselspeak: Goddamn Internet never forgets.

The other problem is that Casada himself somehow got caught up in this, too.

Casada summarized his involvement in some of the sexually charged text messages — a conversation not involving the interns — as a comment on “a relationship between two consenting adults.”

Then, there's the other other problem.

Revelations about Cothren’s inappropriate sexual advances and text messages come after Casada’s chief of staff admitted to using cocaine in the legislature’s office building. Cothren is also facing scrutiny over racist text messages. News of Cothren and Casada’s sexually explicit remarks comes at a time of renewed scrutiny of the legislature’s sexual harassment policy. In recent days, Casada repeatedly has vouched for Cothren, including Monday.

"While I’m not proud of who I was in the past, I am proud that, with God’s grace and a strong support system, I’ve been able to achieve so much in the years since," Cothren said. Casada said, "Who am I to hold that against someone when they've turned their life around? ... It's a very simple story of a young man going off and making some bad life decisions, but recognizing those bad life decisions."

Translation From the Original Weaselspeak: I'm caught up in this, too, and I have plans for the future and, wait, I thought I erased that...

In August 2016, Cothren texted Casada about a sexual encounter he had with a woman. “Just so y’all know, I did f—k (woman) in the bathroom at party fowl,” he said, referring to the Party Fowl restaurant. “Will send pictures later.” Casada responded: “Only gone for 60 seconds,” adding, “R u a minute man???;)” Cothren said, “Yes, I take after you. Like father like son.” Casada replied, “Lolol! If I’m happy, then all is good!!!!!”

Ahem. Moving on...


Last week, it was announced that we were losing the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which had been covering the city since 1837. However, there's still really good journalism being done at This week, they ran with a careful study of how education "reform" once again turned into a license to loot the public treasury. The story brings back to the spotlight former Governor Bobby Jindal, who was presidential timber once, until he warped, badly, under pressure.

In the 2017-18 year, every one of McMillian’s 156 students used state vouchers to pay tuition, according to records from the state Department of Education. That means nearly $1.3 million in public money flowed to the school that year as a result of the school choice program expanded in 2012 by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, allowing lower-income families to opt out of struggling public schools in pursuit of a better education. McMillian’s shows how some low-performing schools exist solely because of the program’s public subsidies, with little accountability and state oversight, according to an examination by | The Times-Picayune, WVUE Fox 8 News, WWNO and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The McMillian family used to run a preschool out of its South Claiborne Avenue building in New Orleans. But the year after Jindal expanded the voucher program, McMillian’s First Steps Child Care Center became McMillian’s First Steps Academy, an elementary school for kindergarten through 5th grades. It added additional grades later. As a reconfigured school in the 2013-14 school year, McMillian started with all voucher students – 29 students who delivered more than $195,000 in state dollars.

Since then, as more tax dollars flowed to the school, Executive Director Linda McMillian’s pay has grown significantly. A review of the school tax records shows McMillian earned $204,328 in 2017, a 35 percent increase over her 2016 salary. That’s more than double the pay of similar jobs in the public school system...As a private school, McMillian’s has no public oversight over pay and can set policies and salaries as it sees fit.

You mean if you introduce a profit motive to something, you might get profiteers? Get right out of town.


Elsewhere around the nation, an interesting new phenomenon is cropping up. It used to be that the anti-vaxxer crowd contained so many crunchy-granola moms and dads that it was the one thing conservatives could shoot back with when people talked about how conservatives had abandoned science. Sometime recently, however, the anti-vaxxer position has become part of the religio-antebellum-states-rights-I-Got-Mine catechism with predictably goofy results. For example, as the measles epidemic rages on, the Republican Party of Oregon has become a clearinghouse of anti-vaxxer propaganda. From The Hill:

“Oregon Democrats were just joking about ‘my body, my choice’ while rammimg forced injections down every Oregon parent's throat,” the state GOP tweeted Monday after the legislation passed the state House 35-25, referencing a slogan frequently invoked in defense of abortion rights.

And then there's this guy in Texas, and I will not attempt to explain what's going on here. From USA Today:

[Jonathan] Stickland – a state representative who describes himself as a "Christian Conservative" and a "Liberty Loving Republican" in his Twitter bio – made the comment as part of an extended critique of vaccines and the scientific community. The exchange started with a tweet by pediatrician Peter Hotez lamenting the upward trend of Texas children exempted from vaccines. Hotez – a vaccine expert and founder of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine – said the "children of #Texas have been placed in harm's way for the financial gain of special & outside interest groups."

"Mind your own business," Stickland replied in part to Hotez, alleging that his vaccine advocacy was "self enriching 'science.'" Hotez said he does not take money from the vaccine industry. His role as a Texas pediatrician and scientist makes the issue of rising vaccine exemptions a part of his business, he said. "Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime. Like every other business," Stickland tweeted. "Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting."

As it turns out, Sorcery Guy has cut quite a swath through Texas politics, as the Texas Tribune chronicled.


And we conclude, as is our custom, in the Great State of Oklahoma, where Blog Official Berserker, Friedman of the Plains, checking in from Reykjavik this week, brings us the latest in meaty political issues from back home. From the Associated Press:

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday signed into law a bill making the ribeye the official steak of Oklahoma. The measure takes effect Nov. 1. Rancher and state Sen. Casey Murdock of Felt, who sponsored the bill, says the cattle industry is a huge part of Oklahoma’s identity. Murdock says Oklahoma has more than 5 million cattle. Census figures estimate the 2018 population of Oklahoma was about 3.9 million. Murdock says designating the ribeye, which is known for its flavor, as the official steak of Oklahoma is good for tourism and restaurants.

Call me when Oklahoma makes something its official seafood. That'd be a story.

This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

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+2 # Texas Aggie 2019-05-12 18:44
Speaking of Stickland, his opponent has been delving into his past and his supporters are not amused.

"... something that happened years and years ago … and when his life was different is something of the past and not of the present."

The problem is that his life now isn't any different than it was before. Witness his recent imbecilic tirade against vaccinations. It shows that he never really got enough education to understand reality and is just as mindless now as he was when he was emailing about getting laid and raping wives.
+10 # wrknight 2019-05-12 18:54
What boggles my mind is how in the hell anyone thinks that someone else having an abortion is any of their goddam business.

JFC, don't they have anything better to do?
+7 # wrknight 2019-05-12 19:00
"Alabama came roaring in with a late entry as their lege came dangerously close to degenerating into a Russian parliamentary election."

You insult Russian elections.
+7 # wrknight 2019-05-12 19:13
I often wonder if politics breeds degeneracy or if politicsa attract degenerate humans. There's no real scientific evidence on one or the other, but any casual observer would conclude that the percentage of degenerates in politics is way above the median in the human species.
+6 # margpark 2019-05-12 20:39
Republican legislatures in states have truly gone mad trying to keep women pregnant and barefoot and in the kitchen. We are witnessing the death throes of paternalism. Or at least I hope so.
+6 # lorenbliss 2019-05-12 21:49
Moron Nation it is -- nor can it ever be anything else.

That's why now I feel the same contempt for the entire U.S. I once felt only for the South after being moved there involuntarily from New York City as a child and suffering years of relentless schoolyard bullying by Southron sadists.

Not only did I "talk funny"; with my coal-black hair and greenish- brown eyes I also "looked Jew."

Too bad General Sherman didn't ethnically cleanse the entire region of all its white Christian population.

But since there is no longer a Red Army, it's obvious the ChristoNazis have triumphed, achieved their Thousand-Year Reich via the USian Empire, thereby proving beyond dispute the so-called "moral arc of the universe" bends not to justice but to ever-lasting, ever-intensifyi ng tyranny.

Which means we are doomed -- that no power on this planet can save us from extinction by Neoliberal omnipotence.

Unless there's some genuine miracle...
+12 # chemtex2611 2019-05-12 22:38
Did anyone ask any of these guys if they'd ever 'spilled seed' in such a way that there was not a potential for pregnancy? The men in the state and US legislatures ought to be asking themselves what kind of laws they'd be thinking of if they were women legislators. As women's number keep increasing, there will be a day when they are in a majority and they might want to remind the men how it feels when others are legislating about your body and your actions.
+12 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-05-13 11:54
When are they going to outlaw hysterectomies and vasectomies??? Government and Religion have NO business in a woman's right to choose. It is solely her decision.
+3 # librarian1984 2019-05-14 16:31
What galls me is that conservatives endlessly spout off about the government staying out of our business at the same time their noses can't get far enough up women's vaginas.

AND they're also against sex education or birth control, and barbarous to children here and abroad, so please don't tell me that they care about human life. It's total bullshit.

Statistics show it's conservative states that have higher STDs and unwed pregnancies.

What a bunch of hypocrites.

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