Facebook is a menace. COVID-19 is a menace. Conservatism is a cesspool. Together, those three ingredients have created a toxic stew of malevolent death and devastation. We can talk about all those things in the abstract, look at the numbers and statistics, and catch the occasional whiff of seditionist right-wing rhetoric. But I hadn’t really fully understood just how horrifying that combination of right-wing extremism, Facebook, and a killer virus was until I became a regular at the Herman Cain Awards subreddit. This series will document some of those stories, so we are aware of what the other side is doing to our country.
Given the date, the last president must’ve announced yet another end to that fake COVID pandemic that was actually the fault of China, though still very fake.
IF YOU’RE WHITE…
BE AFRAID OF BLACK PEOPLE SPITTING ON YOUR FOOD.
I mean, don’t eat at fast food places if you can avoid it. There are much healthier dietary options. But racism isn’t the reason why.
That number is obviously much higher, and extra extra higher in the red counties most impacted by COVID. In Mississippi and Alabama, about 1 in ever 300 residents has died of COVID. And the pandemic continues unabated in those states.
If someone tells you that you have a chance to die in the most painful, miserable way possible, but a simple free jab will dramatically reduce those odds, would you take it? Well, if you’re reading it, you likely have. Most smart people have. Unfortunately, this is now a pandemic of the moronic.
You get chipped? Someone forgot to chip me.
Uh, it’s just him.
I mean, he thinks chickens look like people from the Planet of the Apes, so you know he’s already a little off.
It makes the keypad easier to wipe clean, duh.
And seriously, this is what they’re upset about. Who gives a damn if there’s plastic over the keypad.
Could’ve fooled me. He lives in total fear of Black people spitting on his fast food.
Yes, there was almost no flu last year, which shouldn’t be surprising given that schools were closed, people were masked and washing their hands, sporting events had no audiences, etc. When people don’t congregate in mass numbers, less disease is spread.
CRAZY, how the point of the vaccine is to dramatically lower one’s chances of death!
Can someone please educate these people about real Nazis?
Imagine a disease so deadly you have to be tested to know you have it! Like cancer. It’s just bonkers how you have to be tested regularly for breast and colon cancers. They can’t possibly be that deadly! ONLY diseases that give you immediate sniffles or maybe a headache are deadly.
I love their fantasy conversations with bosses, wait staff, and other people asking for vaccine information. As if businesses don’t have HR departments and vetted legal guidelines. They will surely be thwarted by a Facebook meme.
They never think it will affect them. Never. It didn’t start as a sinus infection. It started as COVID, which then started doing a number on his respiratory system.
As a result, he’s doing just fine, except the breathing part, which is a minor part of being alive.
Yes, most people recover just fine. But not everyone, so the point is to make sure you don’t end up on the wrong side of the odds.
And that’s assuming you live through the ordeal. As Trucker realized, being stuck in bed for weeks does a number on your finances.
Holy shit, one day later. Doesn’t even look like he went to the hospital. Suffered in bed for a few weeks, and that was it.
But he wasn’t afraid, like the wolves. Except for Black people spitting on his food, because even wolves are afraid of Black people.
In the news today: Barack Obama went on a candidate-boosting tour this weekend, and his words for New Jersey Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who is attempting to unseat Gov. Phil Murphy, were especially pointed. (Ciattarelli attended a post-election rally last November premised on overturning the results of the presidential election on Donald Trump’s behalf, labeled “Stop the Steal,” but is now claiming he didn’t know why he was there or what the theme of the rally was. Mmm-hmm.)
Elsewhere, AT&T is still reeling after revelations of just how much support the company has given pro-sedition propaganda and hoax network OAN—but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to do the obviously moral thing. And IRS reforms are sorely needed, still, but as usual they’re being battled by companies that make big money from keeping the current absurdities in place.
Here’s some of what you may have missed:
• 40 Years
Also trending from the community:
On the last day of September, the antisemitic terrorist who in 2019 shot and killed Lori Gilbert Kaye and wounded three others in a Poway, California, synagogue was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. One of the wounded was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whose life Gilbert Kaye saved when she jumped in front of him and took the fatal bullet. After that, the terrorist turned his fire on the congregation, and 8-year-old Noya Dahan was also wounded. “He was aiming at the kids,” she stated to CNN.
This could have easily ended up a mass killing as bloody as the one in 2018, where 11 Jews were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Luckily, the Poway murderer’s semi-automatic rifle stopped firing after he’d “only” been able to get off 8-10 shots. The killer, whose name I will not type, had recently pled guilty at the sentencing hearing to both state murder charges and federal hate crime charges.
At the hearing, a number of family members and victims made statements. Their voices were powerful, and one of them called out the white nationalist hatred of Jews that motivated this terrorist. Some of the specific reasons behind that hatred may be different from what you’ve previously understood to be antisemitism.
Dr. Howard Kaye, who lost his wife of 32 years, spoke of her as “a superior person and a wonderful woman.” He described her accomplishments and her generosity, calling her a “daughter of charity.” Gilbert Kaye’s sister, Ellen Edwards, recalled breaking the horrible news to their 92-year-old father: “I’ll never forget the look on his face when we told him.” She then addressed the man who pulled the trigger: “We want you … to rot in prison and never walk a free man.” Noya Dahan’s uncle, Almog Peretz, was also wounded, and could not bring himself to appear in person. In a statement that was read in the courtroom, Peretz lamented that the terrorist had “killed both my body and my soul.” CNN reported that he continues to experience anxiety and panic attacks.
The final speaker was Hannah Kaye, the victim’s daughter and an eyewitness, who detailed the terrible moments that changed her family’s lives forever. “Suddenly, in an instant, the earth literally shifted,” she intoned, and the “taste of gunpowder entered my mouth.” She also spoke directly to the killer: “Your bullets will not wreck through my body today as they did my mother’s. She is here. She is alive within my words … You are unable to destroy the truth of my experience as much as you may want to.” Kaye added: “The voice of my mother is reclaimed within my own.” She also wanted to name and describe the evil behind the act, so that everyone would know “what white supremacist, bigoted, racist violence looks, smells, sounds, feels and, yes, even tastes like in America in the 21st century—two years ago and now.”
That white supremacist, racist evil is old, but there are elements of it that have evolved in ways that reflect the spirit and ideas animating a right wing profoundly shaped by Donald Trump. From the moment in the summer of 2015 that he began his campaign by fearmongering and race-baiting—calling the people coming across our border with Mexico “rapists,” “drug dealers,” and “murderers”—the twice-impeached former president has injected anxiety, fear, and hatred into the issue of immigration. In this, no other national figure has ever had a greater impact. While Trump himself did not connect this animosity directly to Jews, others who swallowed his bile did not hesitate to do so.
The white nationalist supremacists we’re talking about here don’t just hate Jews and immigrants of color. They hate Jews because they hate immigrants of color—whose entry into our country in large numbers they believe Jews are supporting as a means to destroy its erstwhile white Christian foundations. Of course, these white nationalists don’t consider Jews to be white either, but it’s their pro-immigration position that sparks the hatred we are talking about here.
A terrific explanatory piece by Zack Beauchamp at Vox analyzes this connection in great depth. The first time the connection became part of our public discourse in a major way was at the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In so many ways, that event served as the launching pad for the worst of elements of the Trumpist right wing. We saw a bald display of pure white supremacist hate espoused by individuals who included, according to The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried To Steal It, some “very fine people.”
Those goosestepping, tiki torch-carrying lovelies chanted “Jews will not replace us” as part of a wide array of antisemitic hate that oozed out of the entire bunch. Many people who heard that line, however, might have wondered exactly what it meant. How could Jews, a tiny group representing only 2.4% of the American population, replace white Christians? And what would that even mean? Beauchamp summarized it neatly enough when he said that “they believe that Jews are masterminding a plot to undermine white supremacy in America by bringing in literal boatloads of nonwhite migrants.” Huh? Yup.
Those not so fine people, with their not so fine ideas, reached even worse people, who then acted on them. The aforementioned Pittsburgh mass murderer posted some of his views before shooting up the Tree of Life synagogue. These included a condemnation of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), which does pretty much what the name suggests. The killer didn’t look so kindly on their stated mission. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he posted on Gab. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” Please note that Trump had also characterized immigration as an “invasion.” He may not have pulled the trigger, but he damn sure fed the fire of hate that fueled the killer’s murderous rage.
The Poway shooter expressed very similar sentiments about Jews and immigrants, along with plenty of other classic antisemitic tropes, such as the lie that Jews killed Jesus Christ and thus all bear some collective responsibility that brands them as deserving of hate and violence. He specifically cited being inspired by the Pittsburgh terrorist, as well as by another white supremacist murderer, one who targeted and killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s important to note that the Poway terrorist, prior to attacking the synagogue, had one month earlier tried to burn down a mosque in nearby Escondido—another hate crime to which he admitted—and expressed hatred for Muslims as well as Jews.
Echoing the language from Pittsburgh, the Poway killer ranted on 8chan: “Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race. They act as a unit, and every Jew plays his part to enslave the other races around him—whether consciously or subconsciously.” He added: “[Latinos] and [Blacks] are useful puppets for the Jew in terms of replacing Whites.” This notion of the Jews as all-powerful puppetmasters is a long-standing antisemitic trope, given its most famous expression in 1903’s Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Here we have a reference to European or white genocide. This rancid concept—along with the notion of replacement, or, as others, including Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show just a month or so ago, have dubbed it, “The Great Replacement”—serve as the twin poles of a vicious cocktail of white supremacist hate and white racial paranoia that have drawn a significant amount of Jewish blood. Oh, and if you’re shocked that Florida (Congress)man Matt Gaetz also endorsed Carlson on this (or that other elected Republicans have been talking in similar terms), you really haven’t been paying attention.
These ideas are gaining widespread traction. A recent poll by the highly respected Public Religion and Research Institute (PRRI) asked whether respondents agreed that “immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background.” And 55% of Republicans said yes, as did 60% of conservatives. The poll didn’t ask how many blamed Jews for this supposedly dangerous demographic shift, but scapegoating Jews and blaming them for society’s ills is a long-standing tradition among antisemites—this one would just be a new twist on an old theme.
To bring it right up to the present, these antisemitic, right-wing white nationalist extremists are also bleating about The Great Replacement as part of their condemnation of the U.S. allowing in brave Afghans who worked with us over the past two decades. They don’t want those brown refugees (even worse—to these bigots—they’re Muslim) any more than they want brown people coming across the Rio Grande. Unsurprisingly, Carlson weighed in on this one as well, making up lies about “millions of foreign nationals whose identities we can’t confirm mov[ing] here … probably in your neighborhood.” Echoing the language of Trump, as well as the Pittsburgh killer, Fox News’ No. 1 host concluded: “First we invade, then we’re invaded.”
The strand of antisemitism that connects Jews to their support for immigrants—well, maybe not all immigrants, as Trump even admitted he’s okay with people coming from places like Norway—is far from the only kind, even on the right. In early October, Hitler Youth Kommandant—I mean Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn, a committed white Christian nationalist, made some incredibly antisemitic remarks that essentially reduced Biblical Jews to little more than a conduit for the spread of Christianity.
We’ve also seen more crude examples of antisemitism in recent days, such as the vandalization of the barracks at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the camp where the Nazis murdered almost 1 million Jews, in addition to 100,000 other victims. The vandals spray-painted Holocaust denial slogans and other antisemitic language on numerous buildings there.
Additionally, it’s important to note that not all antisemitic attacks come from the right. This late September incident in Los Angeles appears to echo the burst of antisemitic hate crimes from May that followed the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Outside the U.S., an attack on a German synagogue planned for Yom Kippur in September was prevented by the authorities, thanks to a tip from another country’s intelligence services. North Rhine-Westphalia State Premier Armin Laschet stated that this plot was “Islamist motivated.” Much of the antisemitic hate and violence coming from sources that aren’t U.S. right wing appears to connect to Israel.
Nonetheless, for American Jews—who are by far the largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel—it’s clear that the greater danger, and the much higher toll in terms of violence, comes from a right-wing, white supremacist antisemitism that connects to fear and hatred of the non-white immigrants whom Jews supposedly want to bring in to replace white Christians.
That connection might be one you hadn’t made before. Unfortunately, antisemitic terrorists—like the Poway synagogue killer—have been making it more and more throughout the Trump era. I wonder why.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)
Welcome back to the weekly Nuts & Bolts Guide to small campaigns. Every week I try to tackle issues I’ve been asked about. With the help of other campaign workers and notes, we address how to improve and build better campaigns or explain how we can strengthen our party.
This series has run for nearly a decade now, but one item I have tried to avoid addressing directly is specific tools used by campaigns—like NGP-Van/VoteBuilder, and numerous other action tools used to help touch and contact voters. List management software, phone apps, mobile tools. Privately, I get a lot of questions about these tools. These tools are significant and powerful for every Democratic campaign. So, why don’t I spend more diaries training people on how to use a tool effectively, build a list or start using phone script reporting? Well, there is an answer.
The simple answer.
The most straightforward answer to this question is that explaining these tools in a format like this can run contrary to how a campaign may want the tool to be used. Campaigns can provide different levels of access to members of their campaign. Your state, county, or district may also have restrictions on your usage related to buy-ins and expense management. Writing here about those issues would not be universal in a way that I find very helpful. While addressing it in person or through Zoom can be beneficial, it is so because there can be a meaningful back and forth of questions and answers. That simply isn’t possible when I pre-write and work to explain the “why” far more than the “how.”
The tools available to campaigns are something that they have to juggle, and part of that juggling means they have to choose how much time to spend with each tool. Part of what I do here at Daily Kos is to encourage state organizations and candidates specifically to write at Daily Kos, comment, and participate.
I know that campaigns have been more than willing to share their thoughts about how they think and how they want to appeal to voters. When it comes to all of our strategies on using tools, most view that as “secret sauce,” it is difficult to explain, and once it is explained out in the open, well, others will simply look at it written up and steal the methodology. This isn’t to say we don’t want better informed Democratic campaigns; everyone does. We don’t also want to provide Republican campaigns a public map to the ins and outs of specific tools. Many of the “why” elements are tied to ideology in a way that is difficult to replicate.
The “how” though, can cross into challenging areas. More than once in writing this series, I’ve had a debate with others about whether some stories should be written. More than once I worried I had traded my work on Democratic campaigns to be a Republican spy, of sorts, and inadvertently send information over to them using this very series.
By focusing on the “how,” we can have a practical discussion on making every campaign better without creating conflict.
I have always built this series in response.
At this point, I’m not sure how many Nuts & Bolts are written. While it isn’t as prodigious as other series on Daily Kos, weekly writing the series for an extensive period means that I look for something that seems timely and reflects the questions I receive from candidates thinking of joining the site or users posting in their own diaries or direct messages sent to me. If I spend time talking about tools, you stop really interacting with users about their unique experience. It is a unique opportunity to discuss how to find things you love about your campaign, the way you can think about your candidate, strategies on how you can best spend your time.
The series can talk about solid canvassing methods—and trust me, I could spend a lot of time criticizing poorly devised methods of knocking doors—but all of those focus on the human interaction and things within the control of the volunteer. Volunteers, first-time candidates, and managers of very small campaigns spend more time reading this series than others. Addressing what I know they have direct control over has more impact than taking on something that can vary based on where they are running for office.
Winter is coming. November 2nd looms.
November 2nd is coming, and we have several locations that early voting in some form is already occurring. These races for local elections and state can give us a first look at the energy level of our volunteers and campaign methods going into 2022. We should all be paying attention.
We all know that Republicans love to take credit for things they didn’t do, but in this case, taking credit for something may be far-fetched. A GOP candidate for California’s Secretary of State claims she helped kill a “witch” through prayer. In a campaign speech at Fresno City College on Oct. 7, Rachel Hamm told supporters that that devil-worshippers sacrificed animals and performed other rituals in front of her home, which led to her nightmares and eventual ability to kill witches through prayer. Hamm said that after having a bad dream, she prayed for someone to be murdered on their own lawn.
“The day that I moved into that house, someone from the Satanic community came to my house with a black raven in his hand, and he twisted off the neck of the bird and let the blood spill out onto my property to claim my property and assert the power of Satan over my home,” Hamm said. “I learned a lot about how Satan works, about how the forces of evil work,” she continued.
Hamm has a history of speaking about Satanic conspiracy theories; however, this October speech was different. This time, she not only claimed to be a “prophetic dreamer” but also said that she was able to kill someone through prayer.
“I am a prophetic dreamer. That means I see things in my dreams before they happen. God speaks to me through my dreams and shows me things.”
“I have just had a dream that someone has tried to break into my home, murder me, and light my house on fire,” Hamm said. She continued on that she was shaken by the dream and prayed it wouldn’t come true. Apparently, the day after praying for her own life to be spared, she discovered that her prayers had apparently caused a “witch” who lived near her to be murdered in her home.
“You know the witches, the self-proclaimed witches who live two doors down?’” Hamm recalled her mother saying. “‘Well, someone broke into their house, murdered her, and lit the house on fire.’ I, of course, was like, ‘Excuse me, what did you just say?’”
“The very thing that I had just dreamed that someone was trying to do to me had happened to them,” she said.
Hamm claimed to her supporters that this witch murder was a sign of God’s power.
Of course, when asked about the incident Hamm told reporters she didn’t have time to find evidence of the witch’s murder.
“I can let you know that it was only one witch that was murdered,” she told The Daily Beast.
According to Daily Beast, Hamm’s encounters with Satanists go beyond the alleged raven sacrifice. In her 2017 memoir, Hamm claimed she attended daycare as a child that was later revealed to be a front for Satan-worshippers. The claims enforce suspicious and conspiracy theories about supposed Satanic daycares that fueled the “Satanic panic” in the 1980s and 1990s.
“This was a Satanic coven claiming to be a preschool so they could train children in Satanic rituals,” she wrote. Interesting how she is allegedly consistently the target of such worshippers throughout her life.
Another fun fact, Hamm has the endorsement of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who also made headlines for claiming to have dreams from God. While Hamm’s bid for secretary of state is unlikely to succeed, it is important to note that she is a candidate who, if elected, would be responsible for duties including overseeing elections, and operating programs to protect victims of domestic violence.
Watch the full bizarre campaign speech for yourself.
The business owners whose blood, sweat, and tears—or at least their fancy, high-priced educations, family connections and access to venture capital—built this country, dammit were hellbent and determined to show American workers who was boss. This COVID-19 nonsense was not going to interfere with their profits any longer. It was time to take a stand.
So they all had their administrative assistants conference in their favorite state legislators, the same ones who helpfully passed legislation a few years back, keeping pesky unions out of their states. They called in their chits for all those campaign contributions to the governor. They called their Republican House reps and senators. Damn that Fauci, they complained. My business is hurting. No more lockdowns, no more of this “social distancing “crap. This state is going to open for business and I don’t want to hear another word about body counts or stressed hospitals. I need workers and I need them now. I paid for your damn campaigns, so do something!
And those state representatives and senators leapt into action. In a matter of a few weeks we saw state after state brimming with self-appointed medical experts in their legislatures, railing about the tyrannical mask mandates and business lockdowns. CEOs and white-collar professionals cracked their whips—many still from the comfort of their fine second homes and pools. And thus the support staff, the retail clerks and the service workers, many of whom who had once been adoringly lionized as “essential” at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, were told it was time to return to work. And for added good measure, Republican governors in those states cut off their unemployment aid. That’ll show them, they thought …
But strangely enough, not all of those workers heeded the call. In fact, a good many of them quit.
As reported by Alyssa Fowers and Eli Rosenberg, writing for The Washington Post:
Kentucky, Idaho, South Dakota and Iowa reported the highest increases in the rates of workers who quit their jobs in August, according to a new glimpse of quit rates in the labor market released Friday.
The largest increase in the number of quitters happened in Georgia, with 35,000 more people leaving their jobs. Overall, the states with the highest rates of workers quitting their jobs were Georgia, Kentucky and Idaho.
As The Post points out, the interesting thing about this data is that service-sector jobs are most highly concentrated in urban areas. So why would people be quitting their jobs at such astronomical rates in such relatively rural states as Kentucky, South Dakota, Iowa and Idaho?
Fowers and Rosenberg offer a clue:
Employees quit or were hired at rates matching or exceeding the national average in the ten states with the highest rates of new infections that month: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
So the highest rate of turnover in August—employees quitting or getting hired—was found in the states which had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection for that month. Logically, that seems to make sense. Workers who live in one of those states were also likely to have a governor or, in the case of Kentucky, a Republican-dominated legislature who opposed business closures, even while the delta variant ravaged the state’s population. Such workers were essentially forced by these states policies to return to work if they could not work from home.
Those people forced back to work in an unsafe environment simply decided to quit—many of them likely before ever venturing back into their workspace. After all, they saw a job the other day that was offering more money. Or their next-door neighbor’s cousin got a job that pays more and allows them to work from home. The Post article quotes Nick Bunker, an economist for the job search portal Indeed, who notes that the high quit rate in these red and rural states “may be a sign there’s more competition in those parts of the country than other parts.”
The other interesting point about all of the states having both the highest level of turnover and the highest infection rates? They are all so-called “right to work” states, where legislatures passed legislation to disincentivize and discourage unions. So these workers have essentially no protection, no one to turn to for help remedying unsafe conditions, and no collective bargaining power; they can, for the most part, be terminated at will. That’s what “right-to work” has always been about.
As one commenter to The Post story points out:
So, when you have a crappy job, for crappy wages, and a crappy employer who doesn’t value you at all, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a labor market situation that actually encourages you to look for work elsewhere–what do you think is going to happen?The ‘Great Resignation’ is largely about working class people attempting to use what little leverage they have in order to make a moderately better wage for themselves in a mostly hostile, oppressive national work environment.
For employers, the downside of “right to work”— one they never saw coming—was the fact that workers in those states had little, if any, incentive to stay, especially when once-in-a lifetime opportunities arose for them to leave, while competition for higher wages and better working conditions further drove that exodus.
Some employers are responding by antagonizing would-be applicants.
In Missouri, a group of businesses, still frustrated by labor shortages more than three months after the state cut off the $300-a-week federal jobless checks, paid for billboards in Springfield that said: “Get Off Your Butt!” and “Get. To. Work.”
The state has seen no growth in its workforce since ending emergency benefits.
“We don’t know where people are,” said Brad Parke, general manager of Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery, who helped pay for the billboards. “Obviously, they’re not at work. Apparently, they’re at home.”
The attempt to force workers back to dangerous, unsafe pandemic working conditions—brought on by short-sighted Republican policymakers for political ends—has collided with a culture where workplace protections and the ability to bargain have been completely devalued (also by Republican politicians), leaving workers as essentially dispensable commodities.
No wonder they’re quitting for greener pastures in those states. Republican elected officials and their business donors in those same states have no one to blame but themselves. They created this environment, and now they’re going to have to cope and adjust with workers who want more out of their jobs … and know they can get it. They have to keep up and do better, or see their businesses go under.
Funny how that worked out.
Thanks to the ongoing onslaught of anti-trans bills Republicans are pushing across the nation, a lot of coverage surrounding trans rights centers on youth sports. While the Republican effort to discriminate against trans student-athletes is absolutely worth discussing, it’s (sadly) far from the only situation in which trans folks are quietly discriminated against. Because it’s never just about the sport—it’s about being treated with dignity and respect and having equal access.
One example focuses on the opposite age group: trans elders. Research shows that trans women—and especially trans women of color and trans sex workers—are disturbingly likely to face physical and sexual violence, and even to be killed. But for trans folks who do reach old age, systems are still in place to allow for exclusion. One 78-year-old trans woman identified as “Jane Doe” alleges she was denied admission to Sunrise Assisted Living, an assisted living center, in Jonesport, Maine, because of her gender identity. She has filed a discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, as reported by Maine Public. The facility administrator denies the allegations.
The GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders filed the complaint on behalf of Doe on Thursday. According to Ben Klein, one of the attorneys involved in the complaint, Doe’s case is the first known discrimination complaint involving a trans elder and a long-term care facility. Depending on how the complaint is handled by the Maine Human Rights Commission, the complaint could go to court.
In a statement, Klein stressed that Doe merely wants to be given “dignity, compassion, and understanding as she ages,” which really should be the minimum expectation of anyone living in a society. Klein pointed out that not only does Maine law require that Doe be treated as a woman, but that this particular case highlights underdiscussed systemic discrimination older trans folks all too often have to face.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that a social worker initially referred Doe to Sunrise Assisted Living, but that Doe was eventually denied admission by an administrator because they worried she would want to live with a female roommate, though Doe was initially told the facility did have available spots. Doe was referred to the social worker to begin with because she was receiving care at a local hospital after a medical emergency and staff concluded an assistant living facility would give her the best and most appropriate long-term care.
In speaking to the Press Herald, facility administrator Rhonda Chambers denied the allegations, saying she’s never spoken to Doe. Chambers, who is in charge of admissions for the facility, told the outlet that someone (possibly, according to Chambers, a social worker) called asking on behalf of someone who wanted a private room, to which Chambers says she replied that there wasn’t one available. She said she did not speak to this person about the possibility of a semi-private room (meaning, having a roommate).
As of July, Doe has been placed in a different assisted living facility, but she doesn’t want this trauma to repeat itself against others. In a press release, Doe said she wanted “to be treated like a human being,” and that she doesn’t want others to be turned away because they’re transgender. “I want people to understand we are people living our lives as best we can and they can’t do that to somebody,” she added.
At least 10 Black women have filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Washington D.C. for widespread discrimination. Among them is Chanel Dickerson, who, as assistant police chief, is the highest-ranking Black woman in the department. According to NBC News, during a community meeting Tuesday, Dickerson shared a personal secret: As an 18-year-old cadet, she was told she had to get an abortion to keep her job.
“My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum,” Dickerson said. “I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program.”
While it is unclear what happened afterward, Dickerson has been with the department since 1988. She, alongside other current or former female D.C. police officers, filed a lawsuit last month alleging they were discriminated against based on their race and sex. Because the division in charge of harassment is run by a man, the Dickerson shared that they were not only treated with hostility but discredited as they came forward.
“I understand the dire consequences to me participating in this lawsuit,” Dickerson said when the lawsuit was filed in September. She also shared then that she had been subjected to repeated sexual harassment.
During the meeting, Dickerson noted she never became a mother, and spoke of misconduct involving another female officer who was trying to be assigned to a different shift.
“Fast forward from that time, I think about how my female colleagues, when I was promoted to sergeant. And it was another sergeant who was promoted with me, and she needed a shift that was conducive to taking care of her child as a single mother. Unfortunately, she had to do things no woman should ever have to do to care for her child.”
According to FOX 5, Dickerson had not initially planned to share her story at the community meeting, but did so in the moment. Her decision gave others the courage to speak up.
Following Dickerson’s claim, another woman spoke up, saying she faced the same ultimatum: have an abortion or be fired. An officer for the last 24 years, Karen Arikpo told the meeting members, and later, FOX 5, that in 1997—when she was still a cadet—she got pregnant. When she found out that abortions were required to avoid being fired, Arikpo told her class sergeant. “She said I needed to have an abortion, and she referred me to a doctor in D.C. to get it done.”
Arikpo never spoke about the experience to anyone, including her husband. “I just thought this was something I would take to my grave,” she said. “I thought I could hide it,” she said. “Just get through the academy and hide it.” After that, Arikpo noted that she never told anyone else what happened until she learned Assistant Chief Dickerson had experienced the same thing as a cadet.
According to FOX 5, the same sergeant told both Dickerson and Arikpo about the consequences of getting pregnant. That sergeant is no longer with the department. Their allegations were corroborated by a male officer who was also in the class and heard the ultimatum.
Arikpo, who regrets aborting her baby, said she contacted Dickerson after realizing she was not alone.
“It’s so unfair,” Arikpo said. “And now I’ve never been able to have a kid. All these years, I’ve tried, and I’ve never been able to have a baby.” Devastated, she shared that while she has tried fertility treatment, it has not worked.
“I did this for a job,” she said. “And then to want kids and can’t have them. How do you tell people that?”
It is unclear if Arikpo is a part of the class-action lawsuit. While Dickerson is a part of the class lawsuit, her abortion claim is not included in it.
In addition to the class lawsuit by the 10 Black former or current officers, another was filed this week by three more Black women alleging abuse and retaliation. All three were former cadets who claim they were retaliated against and mistreated after cooperating in an internal investigation against a superior.
When asked about Dickerson’s claim by NBC News, the Metropolitan Police Department said that it could not comment on pending litigation but “is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization.”
In a statement regarding what happens today when recruits and cadets get pregnant, the department told FOX 5: “If a recruit gets pregnant while at the academy, she will be placed in a future class upon completion of her leave. If a cadet gets pregnant, she would continue the educational piece with modified PT, per guidance of a medical professional.”
Reproductive rights are fundamental human rights. Each person should have the right to decide what they want to do with their body. No one should have to make the choice between being pregnant or keeping a job.
In September, surgeons at New York University Langone Health medical center carried out a two-hour operation in which they transplanted a kidney from a genetically altered pig into a human. On Thursday, they provided the first information from this transplant, which they called “a major step forward in potentially utilizing an alternative supply of organs for people facing life-threatening disease.”
This kind of transplant from a source that isn’t human, which is known as a xenotransplantation, offers the possibility to greatly expand the availability of much-needed kidneys as well as other organs that are even more difficult to obtain. While humans can give away one of their kidneys and survive, the same can’t be said of the heart, liver, or other organs that don’t come in handy pairs.
Even so, the actual statics can be surprising. According to the Health Resources and Service Administration, there are over 106,000 Americans currently waiting on an organ to become available for transplant—90,000 of whom are looking for a kidney. Only about 20,000 kidneys become available each year. As a result, 17 people die each day when an organ fails to become available in time. Most of them die from the effects of prolonged kidney failure.
In 2020, 39,000 transplant operations were carried out, but that number could expand greatly—well beyond the current waiting list—if there were a ready source of organs that didn’t make transplants a last, desperate measure. For years, experiments with xenotransplantation—as well as efforts to use a form of 3D printing to create custom replacement organs—have suggested that a new era of transplantation was around the corner, but until September actual experiments had been limited to transplants to primates, not humans. What happened at Langone in September signals that this era and the decisions it requires are drawing very near.
Though the operation was considered successful, don’t expect to see an interview with the first recipient of a pig-sourced kidney. That’s because the operation was preformed on a person who was already brain-dead. The recipient’s body was kept functioning—with the permission of family members—until the organ could be transplanted. Following the operation, the body was kept on a ventilator for a further two and a half days, showing that the kidney was actually functioning.
Other attempts to generate a suitable organ for xenotransplantation have sometimes involved inserting human genes into animals, making them less likely to be rejected by the immune system. This has generated some real concern from scientists and a great deal of media-driven fury about the creation of “chimeras.” In May, Republicans attempted to pass a bill that would have banned “certain types of human-animal chimeras,” and Sen. Mike Braun told horror stories about pigs with human faces. The bill failed along party lines.
However, the pig in the September transplant had a much simpler genetic modification. Rather than inserting any human genes, it had one porcine gene knocked out: the gene that produces a complex polysaccharide known as as alpha-galactose, or more familiarly as “alpha-gal.” The presence of alpha-gal in pigs and most other mammals means that any attempt to transplant their organs usually results in a rapid response by the human immune system. Humans can even become allergic to eating pork, and meat from other mammals, when a tick-borne illness results in alpha-gal syndrome.
Knocking out alpha-gal doesn’t make a pig organ perfectly compatible. Any recipient of such an organ would have to take immune-suppressing drugs, and the length of the post-operation period wasn’t enough to show that there wouldn’t be consequences, including possible rejection, down the road. However, the transplant surgeons also carried out another step: They transplanted a portion of the pig’s thymus gland along with the kidney. The thymus gland helps “educate” the immune system to prevent it from going after the body’s own organs. The combination of taking out alpha-gal and adding the critical portion of the pig thymus appears to have performed well during the observation period following the surgery.
Every year in America, 100 million pigs are slaughtered for food. Even so, there are people with a strong moral objection to that practice. Raising many more animals expressly so they can be killed to provide back-up organs for humans may seem better—or worse. PETA is already on record as being against the use of any animal for donated organs, and blames the shortage of human organs on selfishness of potential donors.
However, it’s not clear that enough human organs suitable for donation would be available even if signing that spot on your driver’s license were mandatory. After all, humans tend to die from cancer, infectious disease, accidents, and conditions associated with old age, all of which can make organs unsuitable for transplant. They also often die outside the confines of a hospital, making it impossible to preserve organs for transplant. An organ removed from a pig that was bred and prepared for the purpose of providing a xenotransplant could well be better than any available human organ. In addition, smaller pieces of animals, such as heart valves, have long been used in human transplants.
But … the ethics are going to require as much thought as the science. In the near term, expect to see more of these “investigational transplants” carried out in similar circumstances.
As a reminder, getting to this stage doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out. The first artificial heart was developed in the 1940s and the first one was implanted into a human in 1982, but their use is still far from widespread and the rate of associated problems are still very high. It’s unlikely that transplantation is going to change overnight, or that anyone currently on that long waiting list is going to be assisted by this technology. Still … there’s hope.
And please sign that organ donor card.
Former President Barack Obama made a trip to Newark, New Jersey on Saturday to urge New Jersey residents to re-elect Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy mainly because the Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, is a joke. “When you’ve got a candidate who spoke at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, you can bet he’s not going to be a champion of Democracy,” Obama said, chuckling before a crowd of more than 700 people at Weequahic Park. “Apparently Phil’s opponent says, well he didn’t know it was a rally to overturn the results of the last election, didn’t know it.
“Brother, come on! When you’re standing in front of a sign that says, ‘Stop the Steal’ and there’s a guy in the crowd waving a Confederate flag, you know this isn’t a neighborhood barbecue,” the former president added. “You know it’s not a League of Women Voters rally. Come on! Come on, man! That’s not what New Jersey needs.”
The rally Obama referred to was one held last November in support of former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly voiced baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election he loss was rigged. Ciattarelli has said after attending the rally that he didn’t know the event’s theme.
He also penned in a letter to Obama preceding the first Black president’s recent speech that Murphy isn’t doing enough to help Black residents. “Sadly, under Governor Murphy, hope and opportunity have been sorely lacking,” Ciattarelli wrote. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected by the people of our great state on November 2, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss how we could work together to improve the lives of all our citizens and raise the level of discourse in our politics, as well.”
The Republican has given little indication that such discourse would end in actual change for the Black community he now alleges to be thinking of. Even with all his efforts to appease police, Ciattarelli couldn’t earn the endorsement of the state’s largest police union, the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, which by the way endorsed Murphy during his first campaign and opted not to after the governor marched hand-in-hand with Black Lives Matter protesters.
Ciattarelli wrote on his campaign site that he wants to restore respect for law enforcement and protect police pensions. He laid out plans to:
- Oppose the release of internal affairs and personnel records going back decades – as well as going forward – and restore long-standing protections afforded to law enforcement
- Oppose Civilian Review Boards with or without subpoena power; Local governing bodies in executive session are the appropriate domain for all disciplinary cases to be heard
- Oppose eliminating ‘Qualified Immunity’ and mandatory ‘Use of Force’ reporting when a firearm is NOT discharged
- Fix “Bail Reform” loopholes that currently allow violent and repeat offenders to walk free
- Support reforms that expand Community Policing, make it easier to dismiss bad officers, recruit more women and persons of color, and enhance cultural competency training and professional development
Because it bears translation, “community policing” has many different definitions. George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain in Florida before he shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin after deeming him a “suspicious person” in a 911 call on Feb. 26, 2012.
Eight years later, a text message TMZ obtained from an unidentified police officer revealed that Georgia police actually encouraged Gregory McMichael, the former cop and prosecutor’s investigator, to play pretend cop for the coastal Georgia neighborhood of Satilla Shores. McMichael’s son, Travis, went on to shoot and kill Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging in the area on Feb. 23, 2020. Travis, who along with his father have been charged with murder, accused Arbery of trying to break into a home under construction.
These alleged community police are doing no favors to Black communities, but it isn’t stopping Republicans like Ciattarelli from trying to rebrand vigilantes as positive forces in Black communities.
I can only hope Murphy was offering a counter definition when he spoke at a briefing last June. He was responding to a call from activists to defund police, or reallocate a portion of police budgets to fund preventative, social, and mental health services, following the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. “We’ve tried to make the investments in communities, community policing, to lift up communities, whether it’s education investments or health care investments,” Murphy said. “I recognize the passion right now on the notion of defunding police. To me, it’s, ‘What’s the ultimate end state? What are we trying to get to?’”
The governor has worked to distance himself from defund the police branding and pledged not to gut police budgets—a more sound political strategy according to Obama. “It’s less about what you’re doing with law enforcement than it is: What are you doing with the surrounding community investments?” Murphy said last September. “You know, forget about what you say, where you put your money, is that where your mouth is?”
Where Ciattarelli doesn’t go beyond the usual GOP pro-law enforcement stance, Murphy laid out ways in which he has actually prioritized criminal justice reform benefitting Black communities including:
- Ending a historically unjust approach to marijuana and legalizing adult-use cannabis;
- Establishing the nation’s most progressive expungement law;
- Restoring voting rights to those on probation or parole;
- Requiring the Attorney General’s Office to handle investigations for all law enforcement-involved deaths, also known as an “independent prosecutor law;”
- Ending mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses both prospectively and retroactively;
- Increasing flexibility for juveniles facing criminal sentences;
- Banning solitary confinement;
- Expanding the requirement of body-worn cameras to every patrol law enforcement officer in New Jersey and mandating the release of body camera footage; and
- Implementing the first broad-scale reforms to the state’s use-of-force policy in a generation.
Obama said during the first day of early in-person voting in New Jersey that he supports Murphy because of his actions. The former president pointed to Murphy’s record in signing into law “the most sweeping equal pay legislation in America” and in raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour, up from $8.60 an hour when he took office in 2018.
“As governor, he’s worked to build a stronger and a fairer economy, an economy that works for every New Jersey family, not just the wealthy, not just the well-connected,” Obama said.
The equal pay legislation Murphy signed in 2018 amends the state Law Against Discrimination “to make it a prohibited employment practice for employers to discriminate against an employee who is a member of a protected class,” according to Murphy’s office. “Employers will not be able to pay rates of compensation, including benefits, less than the rate paid to employees not of the protected class for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite skill, effort and responsibility,” the governor’s office wrote.
The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which was named in honor of former State Senator Diane Allen who was a victim of bias, “also prohibits employers from taking reprisals against employees for discussing their pay with others – and provides for three-times the monetary damages for a violation,” the governor’s office wrote. It added: “Furthermore, the aggrieved employee may obtain relief for up to six years of back pay and it allows courts to award treble damages for violations of the law.”
The governor said this of the new law in a news release: “From our first day in Trenton, we acted swiftly to support equal pay for women in the workplace and begin closing the gender wage gap. Today, we are sending a beacon far and wide to women across the Garden State and in America – the only factors to determine a worker’s wages should be intelligence, experience and capacity to do the job.”
Obama said Murphy has been a supporter of his since “back when people could not pronounce my name,” and he’s “been busy” restoring funding cut for Planned Parenthood and increasing taxes on the wealthy. His opponent wants to implement a school funding formula that takes money “away from Black and brown communities” and cuts taxes on the wealthy, Obama said.
“He wants to go backwards,” the former president added.