This may shock you: Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/hillary-clinton-honest-transparency-jill-abramson

I’ve investigated Hillary and know she likes a ‘zone of privacy’ around her. This lack of transparency, rather than any actual corruption, is her greatest flaw


Monday 28 March 2016

It’s impossible to miss the “Hillary for Prison” signs at Trump rallies. At one of the Democratic debates, the moderator asked Hillary Clinton whether she would drop out of the race if she were indicted over her private email server. “Oh for goodness – that is not going to happen,” she said. “I’m not even going to answer that question.”

Based on what I know about the emails, the idea of her being indicted or going to prison is nonsensical. Nonetheless, the belief that Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy is pervasive. A recent New York Times-CBS poll found that 40% of Democrats say she cannot be trusted.

For decades she’s been portrayed as a Lady Macbeth involved in nefarious plots, branded as “a congenital liar” and accused of covering up her husband’s misconduct, from Arkansas to Monica Lewinsky. Some of this is sexist caricature. Some is stoked by the “Hillary is a liar” videos that flood Facebook feeds. Some of it she brings on herself by insisting on a perimeter or “zone of privacy” that she protects too fiercely. It’s a natural impulse, given the level of scrutiny she’s attracted, more than any male politician I can think of.

I would be “dead rich”, to adapt an infamous Clinton phrase, if I could bill for all the hours I’ve spent covering just about every “scandal” that has enveloped the Clintons. As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising.

Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.

The yardsticks I use for measuring a politician’s honesty are pretty simple. Ever since I was an investigative reporter covering the nexus of money and politics, I’ve looked for connections between money (including campaign donations, loans, Super Pac funds, speaking fees, foundation ties) and official actions. I’m on the lookout for lies, scrutinizing statements candidates make in the heat of an election.

The connection between money and action is often fuzzy. Many investigative articles about Clinton end up “raising serious questions” about “potential” conflicts of interest or lapses in her judgment. Of course, she should be held accountable. It was bad judgment, as she has said, to use a private email server. It was colossally stupid to take those hefty speaking fees, but not corrupt. There are no instances I know of where Clinton was doing the bidding of a donor or benefactor.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/hillary-clinton-honest-transparency-jill-abramson

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N.C. transgender bathroom ban is a ‘national embarrassment,’ state attorney general says

From The Washington Post:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/30/nc-transgender-bathroom-ban-is-a-national-embarrassment-says-ag-as-pilloried-law-becomes-key-election-issue/

By Michael E. Miller
March 30, 2016

In the week since it was signed, North Carolina’s controversial new law restricting transgender rights has drawn fierce criticism from across the country. Elected officials from Seattle to San Francisco to New York have ordered their employees to steer clear of the state. Big businesses like American Airlines and Wells Fargo have said they are worried about the law. Small businesses have said they will skip conventions in North Carolina.

The NBA even hinted it might move its 2017 All-Star Game, scheduled to take place in Charlotte.

And then there’s the federal lawsuit filed against North Carolina by two transgender individuals and an array of civil liberties groups.

But the issue only reached full fiasco level on Tuesday, when, in equally fiery statements, the state’s Republican governor and its Democratic Attorney General lambasted one another.

“Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina’s economy back,” said Roy Cooper, the AG, who also refused to defend the state against the lawsuit.

“We’re talking about discrimination here,” he said.

Shortly after Cooper’s dramatic press conference, Gov. Pat McCrory — who signed the law March 23 and has staunchly defended it — accused Cooper of breaking his oath of office.

“As the state’s attorney, he can’t select which laws he will defend and which laws are politically expedient to refuse to defend,” McCrory said in a video statement. One GOP state senator called on Cooper to resign.

Underlying the spat is the fact that Cooper and McCrory will face off in the November election, considered one of the most competitive and crucial gubernatorial races in the country.

Continue reading at:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/30/nc-transgender-bathroom-ban-is-a-national-embarrassment-says-ag-as-pilloried-law-becomes-key-election-issue/

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Sexual Assault Survivor on the Second Amendment

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Can Your Boss Claim Their Religion Means You Can’t Get Birth Control Coverage?

Yet another example of right wing Christo-Nazi men protecting women.

From The ACLU:  https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/can-your-boss-claim-their-religion-means-you-cant-get-birth-control-coverage

By Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
March 25, 2016
I’ve had Donna Summer’s 1983 hit playing in a loop in my head:  “She works hard for the money, so you better treat her right.” Okay, maybe this dates me a bit, but you get the point. We all work hard. So why should any of us be denied health insurance coverage guaranteed by law because of our employers’ religious beliefs?

That’s the question the Supreme Court considered in Zubik v. Burwell when it heard argument this week in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance plans cover contraception without a co-pay. The employers that have challenged the requirement have a religious objection to providing contraception coverage for their employees. But here’s the deal: The employers before the court don’t actually have to provide the coverage if they fill out a one-page form opting out. If the employer opts out, the insurance company provides the contraception coverage to the employees in a separate plan, at no cost to the employer.

But the employers object even to filling out the opt-out form, and they object to what happens when they opt out — that their insurer then provides the coverage to their employees.  What would happen if the Supreme Court accepts their argument? Tens of thousands of employees would lose their contraception coverage.

The contraception requirement was designed to reduce the disparities in health care costs between men and women — women have historically paid more for health care than men. Also, in establishing the contraception requirement, the government recognized the basic principle that contraception is crucial for women’s equal participation in society. Being able to decide whether and when to have children has a direct effect on women’s ability to make their own paths in terms of their schooling, their careers, and their families.

The employers before the court should not be allowed to use their religious beliefs to block their female employees’ contraception coverage any more than they should be allowed to use their religious beliefs to pay them less than men.  Religious liberty is a fundamental value in our country, but religion cannot be used to discriminate against others.

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Laws written by men to protect women deserve scrutiny, Supreme Court told

Most laws written by men “to protect women” actually tend to do the opposite which is oppress and harm them.  Think the laws barring certain foelds of employment, restrictions on abortion or birth control.  This is especially true when men claim a magic invisible imaginary sky daddy tells them to do this to protect women.

The same can be said of men dictating the proper role or behavior for women.

From The Chicago Tribune:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-supreme-court-abortion-20160207-story.html

Robert Barnes
Feb. 10, 2016

History holds a lesson for the Supreme Court, the brief warns: Be skeptical of laws protecting women that are written by men.

The nation’s past is littered with such statutes, say the historians who filed the friend-of-the-court brief, and the motives were suspect.

Some protected women from “the embarrassment of hearing filthy evidence” as members of a jury, a sheltering instinct that resulted in female defendants being judged by panels composed only of men.

Some shielded women from having to work nights as pharmacists in hospitals – but not as low-wage custodians.

Some barred women from working as bartenders – jobs coveted by men – but not as cocktail waitresses.

The brief is filed by professors from across the country in the court’s upcoming abortion case, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The brief urges the justices to examine the intent of Texas legislators who say they approved new restrictions on abortion providers as health safeguards for the women undergoing the procedure.

“Any new law that claims to protect women’s health and safety should be scrutinized carefully to assess whether its ostensibly protective function actually serves to deny liberty and equal citizenship to women,” said the brief filed by 16 historians, 13 of whom are women.

It is part of an avalanche of amicus briefs filed by both sides in the case, which will be the court’s most important look at abortion rights in decades.

And the attempt at persuasion, like many of the others, is representative of a specialized brand of legal brief that aims to school the court not about law but about life.

“Brandeis briefs” are long on history and science and short on detailed legal citations. The first of its kind was filed in 1908 by lawyer Louis D. Brandeis, who eight years later became famous as the first Jewish Supreme Court justice.

Last month, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discussed the importance of the revolutionary brief at – where else? – Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., at a ceremony marking the centennial of his Supreme Court appointment.

Brandeis’s submission “was unlike any the court had yet seen. It was to be loaded with facts and spare on formal legal argument,” Ginsburg said. The facts consumed 98 of the brief’s 113 pages.

“The aim of the Brandeis brief was to educate the judiciary about the real world in which the laws under inspection operated,” Ginsburg said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-supreme-court-abortion-20160207-story.html

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North Carolina’s anti-trans law is downright dangerous

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/24/north-carolina-anti-transgender-bathroom-law-dangerous-discrimination

Forcing trans people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth adds to the discrimination that makes some suicidal


Thursday 24 March 2016

Like all other people, transgender people go to the bathroom to pee. Afterwards, they may even take a moment to comb their hair or just look in the mirror. Overall though, their habits in the restroom are just like yours.

But Wednesday night the North Carolina legislature passed – and Governor Pat McCrory signed – a bill that bans trans people from bathrooms that don’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. There are 40 similar bills being considered in at least 16 US states that echo this now-successful piece of legislation, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

This shocking win not only signals a red alert in the fight for full LGBT equality, but also something more disgusting: a clear message has been sent by North Carolina conservatives, sure to be emulated nationwide, that it doesn’t matter if trans people live or die.

I’m not jumping to conclusions here. An analysis of data compiled by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey last month shows that when young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up.

Translation: not allowing trans youth to use a bathroom only perpetuates feelings of isolation or depression that lead 41% of transgender people to attempt kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared to the 4.6% in the general population.

This finding should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds as this bill takes effect in North Carolina, and as other proposed legislation moves forward in states like Kansas, where officials have proposed a bill that would allow someone to sue a public school if they saw a transgender person in a bathroom that didn’t match their sex assigned at birth. (Who is going to be checking people’s genitals if this passes? And isn’t that assault?)

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/24/north-carolina-anti-transgender-bathroom-law-dangerous-discrimination

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The Ugly Fantasy at the Heart of Anti–Trans Bathroom Bills

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/article/the-ugly-fantasy-at-the-heart-of-anti-trans-bathroom-bills/

Do supporters of so-called “bathroom bills” want trans people to cease to exist altogether?

By Tobias Barrington Wolff
March 25, 2016

North Carolina has now jumped to the front of the line of states pushing “bathroom bills”—laws that prohibit transgender people from using the facilities that are right for them. Here is my question for the lawmakers who enact these laws: Which facilities do you want trans people to use? Because I don’t think you have thought this through. Or let’s start with a more basic question: Are you trying to eradicate transgender people altogether? Trans people exist. They are human beings. They have just as much right to exist as you do. They are not going to disappear, and if what you really want is to make them disappear, then you are hoping for genocide. Good people don’t hope for genocide.

Let’s break this down. Some bathrooms are segregated by gender—they are limited either to men and boys or to women and girls. Some bathrooms are not, by the way. There is usually no good reason to designate single-occupancy bathrooms for “men” or “women” only, and even multiple-occupancy bathrooms do not always draw these lines. But some do, and that means sometimes we need to categorize people based on gender when they go to the bathroom. What is the best way to do that?

One answer is to respect a person’s own identity—the identity a person presents to the world through personal appearance, dress, and how the person describes himself or herself. Generally, this means that people who look like men will use men’s rooms and people who look like women will use women’s rooms. Do trans people sometimes attract attention because of their appearance? Sure, sometimes. So do people who are not trans. Imagine that a woman who is not transgender goes to use the bathroom, and someone—another woman, or a man who sees her entering the facility—gives her a hard time because she does not look feminine enough. Or imagine that a guy enters a men’s room and other people give him a hard time for having a slight frame or a soft voice. Anyone who did those things would be a jerk, right? And good people don’t act like jerks. So that’s one answer: Respect people’s identities, and recognize that the problems—if there are any—may be coming from people who are acting like jerks.

Then there is the answer that proponents of these “bathroom bills” want: Check people’s genitals. Let’s start with the obvious. That’s creepy. I don’t know the first thing about the genitals of the overwhelming majority of people I encounter, and it is not information I generally need or want. If I somehow became aware that a person’s genitals did not look like what I might vaguely have assumed, that fact would be none of my business. I cannot imagine how such information would affect any of my dealings with a friend or associate, and it creeps me out that some people think that it should.

Proponents of these “bathroom bills” often talk about protecting children. The lieutenant governor of North Carolina released a video to justify that state’s terrible new law in which he repeated the hysterical claim that policies that treat trans people respectfully would help “sex offenders and pedophiles” prey on “women and children.” This is absurd on its face. No one is allowed to lurk in a bathroom for improper reasons, regardless of gender; no policy about respecting trans people would ever change that; and protecting trans people does not put anyone else at risk. But you know who I do want to keep away from the children in my life? Anyone who spends his time trying to figure out how to pass a law that would make other people’s genitals his business.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/article/the-ugly-fantasy-at-the-heart-of-anti-trans-bathroom-bills/