Fracking Free Speech

The gagged townspeople of Sanford, New York are suing their town board over the infringement of their First Amendment rights.

— by Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

It’s one thing for Big Oil to bust into our communities, groundwater, and economic well-being with the hydraulic fracturing natural gas boom. Now, in addition to poisoning the environment, this fracking fad is busting the free speech rights of locals who dare to speak out against it.

Welcome to Sanford, New York. It’s a pleasant place of 2,800 citizens on the New York-Pennsylvania border. Unfortunately, the pleasantness has been interrupted by a major squabble over whether or not to allow big companies to extract natural gas by fracturing the huge Marcellus Shale formation that underlies the region.

Fracking is already rampant in Pennsylvania, but New York imposed a moratorium on the dangerous practice to assess the health and safety issues involved.

hightower-fracking-CREDO.fracking

However, as OnEarth magazine reports, Sanford’s town board is eager to allow oil and gas outfits to frack away. The board even leased land to one corporation that wants to drill inside the town. Last fall, Sanford officials went further, imperiously imposing a gag order on their own citizens. It seems that opponents of the profiteering frack rush were using the board’s public comment session to…well, to comment publicly.

Irritated, the board decreed that any topic could be discussed at its meetings — except fracking.

The town leveled this autocratic restriction on people’s democratic rights by saying that the ongoing discussion on fracking got in the way of other board business. But, gosh, that’s the way it is in a democracy. The people themselves can dare to set the agenda by insisting that our local leaders discuss the big issues that matter most to our families and communities.

The gagged townspeople have now sued the Sanford board for fracking their free speech rights and making a mockery of democracy. For more information, contact Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy: www.catskillcitizens.org.


OtherWords
columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.  OtherWords.org

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Seven Terrible State Bills

— by ThinkProgress War Room | Mar 27, 2013

Recently, we discussed some of the terrible bills floating around out there in state legislatures. Here’s another look at some of the worst proposals, including a couple that were signed into law this week:

  • NORTH DAKOTA: The state’s Republican governor signed a trifecta of terrible anti-abortion bills, which are likely to have the effect of banning abortion in the state. One bill unconstitutionally bans abortion after just six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. An even more insidious bill takes up the anti-abortion movement’s favorite new tactic: drastic overregulation of abortion clinics to all but guarantee that they will have to close. These so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are also moving in North CarolinaMississippiTexasAlabama, and Virginia.
  • KANSAS: A new bill will allow the state to quarantine HIV positive individuals, something Kansas actually banned back in 1988.
  • INDIANA: An anti-abortion bill was going to mandate forced ultrasounds before a woman is provided with the abortion pill. Lawmakers explain that they are dropping the controversial provision in order to focus on their real goal: regulating abortion clinics out of existence.
  • VIRGINIA: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed a bill that will mandate that Virginians present photo identification when they vote, which will disproportionately impact young people, minorities, and the elderly.
  • KENTUCKY: The legislature passed a so-called “religious freedom” bill that allows individuals to ignore laws based on the vague notion of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” opening the door to discrimination against LGBT people, among other problems. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) vetoed the bill, but unfortunately his veto was overridden yesterday.
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Top Republicans in the state have yet to abandon a GOP plan to rig steal the White House by rigging the distribution of the state’s Electoral College votes. Republicans in Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and other states dropped the idea, but Pennsylvania Republicans are keeping it on the table.
  • ARKANSAS: In addition to its race to the bottom on abortion, Arkansas is considering some highly regressive tax changes. As part of an effort meant to stimulate growth, an Arkansas legislative committee passed two tax cuts that will largely benefit the rich and then rejected one that would benefit the working poor. A recent study found that state-level tax cuts don’t promote job growth.

Another week, another set of terrible proposals moving out in state legislatures.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

REPUBLIBAN Approaching Ability to Impose Their Theocratic Beliefs on North Dakota Females

North Dakota Becomes First State To Ban All Abortions By Defining Life At Conception

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

North Dakota lawmakers voted on Friday afternoon to pass a “personhood” abortion ban, which would endow fertilized eggs with all the rights of U.S. citizens and effectively outlaw abortion. The measure, which passed the Senate last month, passed the House by a 57-35 vote and will now head to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s desk.

The personhood ban will have far-reaching consequences even beyond abortion care, since it will charge doctors who damage embryos with criminal negligence. Doctors in the state say it will also prevent them from performing in vitro fertilization, and some medical professionals have vowed to leave the state if it is signed into law.

The measure is so extreme that some pro-life Republicans in the state have come out against it, planning to join a pro-choice rally in the state capital on Monday to oppose the far-right abortion restriction. “We have stepped over the line,” Republican state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) said of the recent push to pass personhood. “North Dakota hasn’t even passed a primary seatbelt law, but we have the most invasive attack on women’s health anywhere.”

Personhood advocates have pushed their agenda in states throughout the country over the past several years, but their measures have so far been unable to advance. North Dakota is the first state to pass a personhood abortion ban.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Rights Extended by the Constitution are Rights of Natural Persons Only

As a form of Valentine to the U.S. public, Rep. Richard Nolan [D-MN8], introduced H.J.Res. 29, which proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (overturning the Citizens United ruling by) providing that rights extended by the Constitution, are rights of  “natural” persons only:

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

H.J.Res. 29 has been referred to the Judiciary committee and is facing a serious uphill battle to make it out of committee as  well as to the floor for a vote. From 2011-2013, only 12% of House joint resolutions made it past committee and only 5% were enacted or passed.

twitter (2)Rep. Mark Amodei, our representative to Congress from Nevada’s CD2, sits on the Judiciary committee.  It’s time for us to twitter-mob Amodei with tweets to pass #HJRes29 out of committee and then demand that it receive a vote of the House.  We need to get that Citizens United ruling overturned, and to do that we have to amend the U.S. Constitution.  We can’t do that until we can get an amendment passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.  Here’s a sample tweet:

@MarkAmodeiNV2 #HJRes29 referred to Judiciary cmtee upon which YOU sit—expect you to work to pass it out of cmtee for vote by House!

From What Planet Do the Right-Wing Nut-Jobs Hail and Can We Deport Them?

As we suffered through this last election cycle, women across this nation were subjected to myth after myth about how our bodies really worked, by men who clearly are NOT familiar in any way shape or form as to how our female parts actually do work. First there were all those mythical statements about how we can’t get pregnant if we’re “legitimately” raped—

  • “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen (that it’s a ‘gift’ from god)” — Richard Mourdock, (R-MO)
  • The Facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant.” — Rep. Henry Aldridge (R- )
  • “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” — Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee
  • “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are ‘one in millions and millions and millions.” Rep. Stephen Freind (R- )
  • “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)

Then it devolved to rants and raves about how allowing women to have birth control would destroy our nation’s religious liberty.

  • This is not a question about contraception, this is about separation of church and state.  I just think that was a overreach and an overstep by government.” — WWE executive and Republican Candidate Linda McMahon
  • Birth control is a license to do things in a sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be.” Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
  • “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
    ~ Foster Friess, billionaire investor in Rick Santorum’s SuperPAC
  • Then came the Blunt Amendment, legislation sponsored by Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, was voted down 51 to 48. It would have let employers refuse to include contraception in health care coverage based on their “religious belief or moral conviction.”
  • “What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
    ”So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch…I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much Aspirin to put between their knees as they want…” —  Right-Wing radio pundit, Rush Limbaugh, talking about Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke, who was allowed to speak to Democrats but who was prohibited from speaking to an all-male Republican meeting on Capitol Hill about women needing birth control for reasons beyond contraception.

It sickened us all, but the crazies on the right have decided to once again escalate their war on women and simultaneously broadcast their absolute ignorance about how women’s bodies work.  A classic example of that renewed effort from the right is posted over at Right-Wing Watch today (complete with excerpts of the actual audio broadcast):

Swanson: Wombs of Women on Birth Control ‘Embedded’ with ‘Dead Babies’

— by Miranda Blue on Friday, 2/1/2013 1:10 pm

Well, here’s some medical research we hadn’t heard about. Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who last week delved memorably into feminist theory, tells us this week that “certain doctors and certain scientists” have researched the wombs of women on the pill and found “there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb…Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Swanson must be speaking with the same doctors as former Rep. Todd Akin. Even Kevin Peeples, whom Swanson is interviewing about his anti-contraception documentary Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?, isn’t quite sold on the evidence.

Swanson: I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

Peeples: We’ve actually heard on both sides of that. We’re researching that and want to make sure we speak correctly to that in our second film. But we have medical advice on both sides of the table there, so we want to make sure that we communicate that properly.

Swanson: It would seem, and I realize that people are a little split on what are all the effects of the birth control pill, but it would seem that there’s a tremendous risk in the use of it for the life of children.

Earlier in the interview, Peeples and Swanson discuss how birth control came to be widely used and accepted by many churches. Women, Peeples laments, “desire the men’s role” and are now missing out on “the role God put them in that he laid out in Genesis.” Before World War II, Peeples claims, “abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together” until “Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically.”

Peeples: It starts with men and women fighting and not being happy with the role that God put them in that he laid out in Genesis. So whenever you seek to desire, when women seek to desire the men’s role, they lose the part and the idea of what children does, not just for the kingdom and not just does with their family, but does for their gender role.

Swanson: Are you saying that the population control stuff, egalitarian feminism, birth control, abortion, they’re all sort of interrelated?

Peeples: Yeah, it wasn’t until after World War II that they begin to separate them. Abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together, they were all kind of a package for eugenics and population control. Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically, and so they said, ‘Hey, let’s kind of take this back, let’s get rid of the negative things and let’s play on Christian liberty, let’s play on freedom, let’s play on people kind of taking this upon themselves to control population rather than forcing it on them. So, again, it’s just another effect of not researching our history to know what happened in the world alongside of the Church.

I’m sorry, that absolutely infuriates me.  From which planet do these right-wing whacked-out nut-jobs swoop in from each day and why the hell haven’t our immigration agents sent them back from whence they came, and barred them from returning?  Women’s bodies do NOT work that way. Did they get an “F” in their 7th grade health class?  Not only that, THIS is NOT the United States of Stepford where women should expect to be nothing more that incubators for man’s seed while running around barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen cooking dinner while silent as a lamb.

Every single woman on this planet knows that that’s why we have periods or why women unable to complete a pregnancy have a what’s called a “miscarriage” which expells the remains of the failed pregnancy.   BOTH of those processes are the equivalent of Mother Nature doing a bit of spring cleaning such that the woman’s uterus is cleaned up and ready for another try at implanting a fertilized egg on the wall of that very clean wall!