Welcome to Persagen! 🙂

Introduction [1/2]: General introduction

The following slides introduce Persagen.com, and the domains it covers.

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What is Persagen.com?

Persagen is a carefully curated knowledge engine serving a philosophy of

    • universal social justice and equality,

    • environmental protection, and

    • universal human rights.

For example:

    • Climate change

    • Corporate greed

    • Culture wars

    • Inequality

    • Neoconservatism

    • Neofascism

We track and curate wealth, power, and influence affecting those issues.

About Persagen.com

Mission

    Persagen.com seeks to deliver high-quality, factual information for the benefit of humanity.

Values

    • Truth

    • Social justice

    • Ecology

    • Ethics

About Persagen.com

Mission

    Persagen.com seeks to deliver high-quality, factual information for the benefit of humanity.

Values

    • Truth

      • Honesty, integrity

    • Social justice

      • Dignity, empathy, equality, respect

      • Love, not hate. Peace, not war.

    • Ecology

      • Low footprint, sustainability

    • Ethics

      • People not profit; privacy

      • Principles over profit

      • Privacy: no SEO, analytics, tracking, ...

Vision

    • To make the world a better place (equality; peace; harmony).

Why is this important? 🤔

We are experiencing unprecedented and escalating culture wars, identity politics, populism-driven politics, and corruption of the political, judicial, and legislative institutions.

The resulting chaos results in cultural fatique, detachment, disinterest, and apathy borne of a sense of hopeless.

The dangers to society include dramatic erosions of freedom, increased attacks on marginalized groups, growing inequalities, and environmental damage.

To counter those trends and to effect meaningful, positive reforms (social justice ...) it is crucial that we identify and understand the persons and groups driving antisocial ideologies, who funds them, and their motivations.

Those objectives require knowledge and understanding,

Persagen is committed to the curation, analysis of factual knowledge search addressing the issues describes above, and providing the tools to search, visualize, and explore those data.

Reliability, ethics, altruism

Persagen stands above all existing knowledge sources for its:

    • Attention to detail.

    • Careful selection and curation of content.

    • Processing and storing of that information.

    • Tools to rapidly search those data.

    • Tools to visualize and understand those data.

No other site provides those resources - notably also assembled within a socially responsible philosophical framework.




[toggle] A note from the owner/creator Dr. Victoria A. Stuart, Ph.D.

• I place my name and reputation on this website and its contents (read about me here). It is a work of passion. It matters.

• I am trans, 62 (in 2023), over-educated and unemployed. I don't need or want much money - enough to survive, sustainably (food; rent; ...), with excess monies reinvested in Persagen and its mission.

• If it matters (you may want to put your money elsewhere) I am white, but abhorrent of all forms of discrimination, prejudice, and racism - including its structural and systemic manifestations.

Accordingly, I advocate for Asian, Black, Brown, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other marginalized groups (LGBT+; ...), where-ever you are. 🙂

• I am the main point of contact; if you have any site-related issues or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. ✉

mail@persagen.com (Attention: Victoria).

• For general questions, please contact Carm at info@persagen.com (Attention: Carm).

About these slides

• As mentioned, Persagen tracks wealth, power, and influence - enabling greater understanding of contemporary news and issues.

• The following slides provide a small sampling of this knowledge, familiarizing you with some of those key issues and players.

• On some of those slides you will see "[toggle] Some title text ..." as shown below; click that element to expand, show that content.

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• Nearly any topic, name or issue relevant to the contemporary news cycle should be present in both:

    Pg-Solr (Persagen's textual data base / search engine), and

    Eureka! (Persagen's ontology; also indexed in Pg-Solr).

    • While that content is easily categorized in Eureka! and retrieved in Pg-Solr, complex interactions among those data may not be obvious.

    • Therefore, a knowledge graph - more suited to mapping and visualizing relationships - is under development.

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About these slides (cont'd)

Broadly speaking, nothing occurs without money and funding. To fully understand contemporary issues (climate change; inflation; culture wars; politics; ...) we need to understand how those facets of society are funded.

• The following slides delve into some of the key issues outlined previously (climate change; corporate greed; culture wars; inequality; neoconservatism; neofascism; ...) that are tracked by Persagen.

• For brevity attention will be focused on the some of the most contentious issues in current culture wars in the U.S. affecting education, freedom of choice, and access to healthcare.

• In particular, the selected material will highlight key players involved, associations, relevant history, and societal implications.

Corporate greed

In the post-COVID-19 pandemic, cost-of-living is rising yet corporations make record profits.

[toggle] Dark Money Is Behind The Debt Ceiling Plan To Punish The Poor

• (LeverNews.com, 2023-05-25, Dark Money's Behind The Debt Ceiling Plan To Punish The Poor. Washington, D.C. Republicans are threatening to halt the U.S. economy unless Democrats agree to shrink the social safety net by adding work requirements to food assistance and healthcare. GOP lawmakers are following the agenda pushed by a conservative think tank - the Foundation for Government Accountability - behind a slew of state bills rolling back child labor laws across the U.S. Republicans effectively want to force Americans in poverty to pay for the tax cuts they gave to their wealthy donors, while giving those donors more vulnerable workers to exploit.

• In 2023-04 Republicans passed debt ceiling legislation proposed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that would massively cut U.S. government spending on social safety net programs, including Medicaid, food stamps, and cash assistance known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The proposal would subject most Medicaid recipients between the ages of 19 and 55 without dependent children to a work requirement to remain eligible. The new requirements likely would cause millions of low-income Americans to lose Medicaid coverage. The plan would also expand food stamp and TANF work requirements to adults aged 49 to 55, which could kick one million people off the food assistance program and more than half a million families off cash assistance.

• McCarthy's work requirement came straight from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a conservative think tank that made headlines for helping secretly draft state bills to roll back child labor laws. One such bill in Iowa would allow 14-year-old kids to "perform non-incidental work in meat freezers" and 15-year-olds to perform "light assembly work as long as the assembly is not performed on machines or in an area with machines." The currently unsigned bill "appears to violate" federal labor laws, according to Labor Department officials.

• Lobbying records show the FGA's advocacy arm - the Opportunity Solutions Project - started lobbying U.S. Congress on work requirements in 2017. In the first quarter of 2023, the Opportunity Solutions Project spent $130,000 on lobbying, including on food stamp reform, work requirements, and TANF.

• The FGA, and its advocacy arm the Opportunity Solutions Project, have been bankrolled by far-right billionaires and right-wing groups in the dark money network built by conservative U.S. Supreme Court architect Leonard Leo, and also receive large sums from the family foundation of conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein. Between 2019 and 2021, Leonard Leo's network contributed nearly $4 million to the FGA and its advocacy arm, with Richard Uihlein's foundation contributing nearly $18 million to the FGA since 2014.

• Other major donors to the FGA have included the billionaire Scaife family, and DonorsTrust donor-advised fund - long known as conservatives' "dark money ATM." (Leonard Leo's dark money network donated $71 million to DonorsTrust in 2021.) In 2018, the FGA was behind a GOP push to attach work requirements to food stamps - which was passed by U.S. House Republicans but failed in the U.S. Senate.

• More recently, the FGA and its affiliates have crusaded to eliminate the temporary augmentation of social safety net programs enacted by congressional COVID-19 relief bills - like expanded child tax credits, unemployment benefits, and food stamps. The FGA also pushed to restart Medicaid redeterminations - or administrative checks on beneficiaries' eligibility - which often result in people wrongfully losing coverage because they miss a piece of mail.

[toggle] Loblaws Is Crushing Canadians With High Food Prices - While Raking in Enormous Profits

• (Jacobin.com, 2023-02-09) Loblaws Is Crushing Canadians With High Food Prices - While Raking in Enormous Profits. "Let them eat price gouging" appears to be grocery giant Loblaws' response to the rising number of food-insecure Canadians. Loblaws blames supply chain issues and inflation for soaring grocery costs - yet is posting stratospheric profits.

• In the grocery sector, Loblaws has become the poster child for corporate greed. Now, after ending its three-month price freeze on its No Name products, Loblaws is on what one might generously call a public relations blitz - trying to explain soaring prices as a result of food inflation being a "global issue."

• Taking to Twitter, Loblaws argued that grocery margins are low and costs are rising because suppliers are raising their prices. The effort was cringeworthy - especially in light of reports revealing that global food costs have declined by 18 percent since their record high in 2022-03.

• In 2021, nearly 16 percent of Canadian households were food-insecure.

• Economist Jim Stanford called the Loblaws effort "inept," before breaking down the story of grocer profits with four key facts since the beginning of the pandemic: profits are up, way up (double), on food retail; average profit margins are also up, way up (three-quarters); retail volume is down; and while manufacturing supply costs are up, they've grown less than food retailers.

• In 2020, Rawan Abdelbaki wrote an excellent, and wildly popular, takedown of Loblaws and their owners, the Weston family. The piece detailed offshore profit stashing, fights against a higher minimum wage, questionable pay-premium decisions, and, who can forget, bread price-fixing.

• It's impossible for Loblaws to convince us that a 30 percent jump in profits during a crisis, with over C$17 billion in revenue behind the jump, isn't that much.

• Pandemic profiteering appears to have given way to inflation profiteering. No amount of corporate PR can excuse the fact that regular people are getting ripped off while rich folks laugh all the way to the bank.

• Canada needs to break up the grocery oligopoly. At any cost. It also needs to ensure that these corporate behemoths cannot vertically integrate and dominate the supply chain from production to retail.

Climate change

Anthropogenic climate change is real, is here, and will invariably worsen.

Multinational oil companies have made enormous profits while their products have caused irreparable environmental harms and contributed to global warming.

[toggle] Corporate malfeasance: Climate change denial

• Decades ago ExxonMobil scientists accurately predicted anthropogenic global warming, yet they suppressed this information, promulgated misinformation and disinformation regarding fossil fuels and climate change - while reaping enormous corporate profits.

• Likewise, Italy's oil and gas company Eni had early knowledge of climate change and was warned of the "catastrophic" risks of burning its products in 1970. Eni is facing Italy's first climate lawsuit, with environmental groups alleging the company used "greenwashing" to push for more fossil fuels use, despite knowing of the risks posed by burning its products since 1970.

• ExxonMobil earned nearly $56 billion in profit in 2022, setting an annual record not just for itself but for any U.S. or European oil giant.

• After windfall profits, Chevron set to buy back $75 billion in shares. Buoyed by high oil prices, rival Chevron also clocked $35 billion in profits for the year (2022), despite a disappointing fourth quarter.

• In 2023-04 the government and environmental oversight and watchdog organization Corporate Accountability published a report, Destruction is at the heart of everything we do: Chevron's junk climate action agenda and how it intensifies global harm - an exposé into Chevron's proclaimed climate action and "green" image.  |  report here  |  local copy  |  Their main findings include the following items.

    • More than 90% of the carbon offsets Chevron has retired through the voluntary carbon market to "cancel out" its emissions seem to be worthless - presumed "junk" until proven otherwise.

    • The technological "low carbon" schemes appear to be failing to capture the emissions promised, in some cases missing targets by as much as 50%.

    • A major proportion of the schemes Chevron is investing in as part of its "net zero" plan are linked to claims of local community abuse, environmental degradation, and/or may even be fueling further emissions. Almost all of the harm claimed to have been inflicted is on communities in the Global South.

    • Chevron's "net zero" pledge - even if fully implemented to the greatest effect without causing harm - overlooks 90% of the total emissions associated with its business practices.

    • Chevron is ignoring the scientifically founded need for a fossil fuel phase out, projecting emissions for 2022-2025 equivalent to that of 10 European countries during a similar period.

    • Chevron invests millions annually to manipulate the political will for climate action, seeking to shape climate policy to its will.

    • See also: American Petroleum Institute  |  Chevron Corporation  |  ExxonMobil  |  The Heartland Institute  |  Royal Dutch Shell

Climate change (cont'd)

• While multinational oil companies have been making profits, their products have been polluting the planet. When challenged, they respond aggressively - illustrated by Chevron's persecution of litigator / environmental activist Steven Donziger.

• Lobbying efforts by groups such as the Heartland Institute and others on behalf of oil companies and other greenhouse gas emitters have pushed to discredit anthropogenic climate change.

• Climate change denial also pervades right-wing politics, assisted by organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts templated draft legislation known as model acts (model bills; see also) on various issues.

    • Model acts - expertly crafted on any issue - are disseminated to sympathetic elected officials for introduction into state legislatures.

• Montana is now home to one of the most extremist anti-climate, pro-fossil fuel and big developer laws in the United States after Republican Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed (2023-05-10) a GOP-sponsored bill - Montana House Bill 971 of 2023 - banning agencies from considering climate impacts in major project analyses.

[toggle] Ron DeSantis Threatens to "Make America Florida"

• (NewRepublic.com, 2023-05-30) Ron DeSantis Threatens to "Make America Florida". Damages from hurricanes - which warmer temperatures can intensify - have cost Florida 4 percent of its annual gross domestic product since 2017. Hurricane Ian, which struck last year and dumped at least 10 percent more rain thanks to rising temperatures, was the costliest storm in the state's history. At least 148 people were killed.

Ron DeSantis has gone all in on climate denial. Speaking with Tea Party politician turned pundit Trey Gowdy on Fox News, DeSantis denounced the "politicization of weather," questioning whether climate change had anything to do with the devastating storms that have battered Florida.

• Florida's outsize vulnerability to climate change is already costing its residents dearly. They pay nearly triple the national average for property insurance; in Miami, policies can top $5,000 per year. Those costs are expected to rise 40 percent this year in Florida after surging 27 percent in 2021 and 33 percent in 2022. As the costs for insurers to take out their own insurance (reinsurance) has skyrocketed, a number of smaller firms there have gone bankrupt. Florida has created a $3 billion public fund to keep more of them from going under.

Ron DeSantis has engaged with climate change largely as one part of his multipronged war on all things "woke." In addition to criminalizing trans people and abortions, banning books and drag shows, and gutting a liberal arts college, DeSantis has been a leader in right-wing foundations' war on environmental, social, and governance investment principles (ESG). He mentioned the acronym several times in his bungled campaign launch on Twitter spaces, while failing to explain what the letters "E,S, and G" stand for. In 2023-05, he signed a bill prohibiting public officials from considering ESG metrics - like the impact that climate change might have on property markets - in their investment decisions. DeSantis previously backed legislation to prevent Florida towns and cities from adopting 100 percent clean energy goals, mandating that they continue to use fossil fuels.

Culture wars

Populism and wedge strategies such as culture wars and the fostering of identity politics are stagnating free speech and polarizing society into acrimonious, combative factions - and even inciting violence (e.g. the 2021-01-06 United States Capitol attack).

[toggle] Culture wars

• American journalist Judith Levine argues that the elevation of parents' rights can be tied to U.S. Reagan-era policies which sought to salvage the nuclear family, in part by attacking public education and the expansion of rights for sexual and gender minorities.

[toggle] Wedge strategy: Weaponization of language

• The weaponization of language used in wedge strategies, culture wars. and political attacks derive from at least two sources.

    1. In 1990 the Republican state and local political training organization GOPAC wrote and distributed a memo to Republican Party legislative candidates. The memo - called "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" - contained a list of "contrasting words" and "optimistic positive governing words" that Newt Gingrich recommended for use in describing Democrats and Republicans, respectively.

    2. The Wedge Document - a 1998 manifesto by the Discovery Institute - promoted "intelligent design creationism. The goal of the wedge strategy was to change American culture by shaping public policy to reflect politically conservative fundamentalist evangelical Protestant values.

• The weaponization of language used in wedge strategies further evolved as conservatives and the Christian right refined the use of anti-transgender rhetoric to attack transgender persons specifically - and LGBT+ rights, generally.

    • (MotherJones.com, 2023-03-08) Inside the Secret Working Group That Helped Push Anti-Trans Laws Across the Country.  Leaked emails give a glimpse of the religious-right networks behind transgender healthcare bans.

      In 2019-10 South Dakota Republican state Representative Fred Deutsch sent an email to 18 anti-trans activists, doctors, and lawyers with the text of a bill he planned to introduce (a version of which was signed into law in 2023-02) that would make it a felony for doctors to give transgender children under 16 gender-affirming medical care.

      In messages back and forth, some members of the group pushed Fred Deutsch to make the bill even more restrictive. Vernadette Broyles - affiliated with the conservative Christian legal powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom - warned that religious-right groups might not support the bill if "you start by giving away 16 and 17-year olds right from the outset." Others, including Andre Van Mol - a member of a fringe, conservative doctors group American College of Pediatricians (a SPLC-designated hate group) - raised concerns that the bill as written might backfire by accidentally blocking healthcare providers from "attempting to change ... a child's perception of their sex" when kids identify as transgender.

      The draft bill Fred Deutsch sent the group in 2019-10 sparked a lengthy debate over language. In one email chain, participants struggled to narrow the wording of Deutsch's bill to avoid blocking treatments for trauma victims, or legitimizing the concept of gender as one separate from biological sex. Katherine Cave - a founder of the anti-trans parent organization "Kelsey Coalition" - suggested specifying that treatments were only banned for patients who had an "incorrect perception of their sex." A "Child & Parental Rights Campaign" lawyer proposed replacing the word "incorrect" with "dissonant." Richard Mast of Liberty Counsel separately advised the group to avoid saying the words "transgender", "cisgender", or "non-binary". "Using them surrenders the language," Mast wrote. "If the other side's language frames the debate, we lose."

Culture wars (cont'd)

American legal scholar Mary Anne Franks wrote about attacks on free speech in her 2023 paper The Lost Cause of Free Speech.

[toggle] The Lost Cause of Free Speech

• Contemporary free speech law and policy in the United States teems with contradictions that cannot be explained by any principled doctrine. The key to understanding the current legal and cultural landscape of free speech is not some enduring constitutional value or method of interpretation, but rather the ascendance of a very specific political ideology that is best described as neo-Confederate. Neo-Confederate ideology is a constellation of values that includes investment in racial hierarchy, attachment to traditional gender roles and gender conformity, idealization of the pre-Civil War South, belief that the U.S. is a Christian nation, and hostility to democracy.

• The neo-Confederate agenda renders coherent what otherwise appear to be chaotic free speech positions: the condemnation of cancel culture by promoters of censorship; the conflation of speech reactions with speech restrictions; the equation of the right to speak with the right to an audience; alternating invocations and dismissals of the state action doctrine. While these positions are malleable enough to occasionally serve progressive interests, they are most consistently and powerfully deployed to protect the interests of white male supremacy. The neo-Confederate agenda is, as its name suggests, a partisan project.

• Though not all Republicans are neo-Confederate, virtually all neo-Confederates are Republican. While the attachment to Lost Cause mythology may be strongest in the South, its core tendencies - whitewashing the role of slavery in American history; selectively championing states' rights; and promoting racial, gender, and religious supremacy - have spilled over geographic borders. The conservative reactionaries waging war against racial, gender, and religious equality have increasingly zeroed in on educational institutions as targets, often in the guise of fighting "critical race theory."

• In the first six weeks of 2022 alone, 103 bills were introduced in state legislatures across the nation that were aimed at restricting speech in schools and universities. These bills range from censoring what can be said about the role of racism and misogyny in shaping American institutions to forbidding "inappropriate" discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity. These provisions are vaguely and broadly worded in order to create maximum confusion and uncertainty about what speech is permitted. Many of these bills allow parents or other parties not only to demand removal of but also to sue over educational material they find personally objectionable, creating financial and social incentives for censorship. Republican officials and organizations have also issued executive orders, statements, book bans, and administrative guidelines attacking discussions of social justice and diversity. This anti-education movement vilifies teachers, administrators, librarians, and school-board members as "indoctrinators," "groomers," and "pedophiles," leading to harassment, doxing, threats, physical assaults, and firings.

• In the midst of this highly coordinated, well-funded, Republican-led, governmental assault on freedom of expression generally and in education in particular, the American public continues to be subjected to an endless stream of op-eds, think pieces, media coverage, social-media commentary, speeches, academic conferences, academic articles, and expert panels devoted to the topic of what is often popularly referred to as cancel culture.

• "Cancel culture" is an amorphous concept, often used loosely and interchangeably with "censorship" and "silencing" to describe a wide range of negative reactions to particular speech. Cancellation discourse tends to rely heavily on anecdotal, self-reported experiences of victimization; to focus on private, as opposed to governmental, perpetration; and to identify "liberal intolerance" as the primary culprit. These characteristics make clear why cancel-culture discourse is such a powerful tool of Republican propaganda: it serves as both a distraction from and a justification for Republicans' sustained campaign to censor, punish, delegitimatize, and drown out every idea that conflicts with their neo-Confederate political and cultural agenda. ...

Culture wars (cont'd)

• Injustice (real or perceived) leads to anger and hate, which leads to violence (actuated; systemic; e.g.: systemic racismstructural violence).

Culture wars - essentially a form of ideological and psychological warfare - can contribute to the sowing of false memories.

[toggle] False memories

• In psychology, false memory is a phenomenon where someone recalls something that did not happen or recalls it differently from the way it actually happened. Suggestibility, activation of associated information, the incorporation of misinformation, and source misattribution have been suggested to be several mechanisms underlying a variety of types of false memory.

• (PsychologicalScience.org, 2015-01-15) People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened.  |  discussion (2023-06-17)

• It appears that recalled memories are neurologically rewritten, eroding the original long-term memory

• The PBS NOVA documentary Your Brain: Who's in Control? (2023-05-24) is relevant. From the transcript:

    • ... [memories are] fragile and they can be manipulated under the right circumstances.

• (PBS NOVA, 2023-05-17) Your Brain: Perception Deception. From the transcript (paraphrased for readability)

    • ... all of these perceptions and memories of the world originate in our brains. Memories are the cornerstone of our identities, but as it turns out, they have a very shaky foundation.

    • ... The more often we recall things, the less objectively accurate our memories become. It turns out that every time you a recall a memory, the very act of recollection makes it vulnerable to change.

    • When you experience a new event, it has to be stored in the brain. We used to think that whenever you think about that event, you retrieve the same original memory. But what we got to realize in the last few decades is that whenever you retrieve a memory, it goes back to an unstable state.

    • In 2000, memory scientist Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize for showing that each new memory creates new synapses, connections that store the memory. But what happens when you recall it?

    • Every time you remember it, you bring it up into your working memory and you perceive it, and you destroy the long term memory, and you actually have to recast it into long term memory when you re-remember it. So, every single time you remember something, you actually add more noise to it. So that it's more and more and more false, throughout time.

    • This mechanism, called reconsolidation, was first discovered in rodents, where neuroscientists witnessed what happens when a memory gets recollected. For the memory to return to long-term storage, the connections between neurons actually have to get rebuilt.

    • Recent experiments have suggested this is likely a mechanism in human brains, as well, because certain drugs, known to disrupt reconsolidation, have been shown to alter human memories. We're stuck with the problem of, "How do we know what is true? How do we know what's real?"

[toggle] [Noam Chomsky] Necessary Illusions

• (2023-07-01 Canada Day! 🇨🇦 Yea!) Here is an interesting item. Posted to CIA.gov:

    Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies  |  local copy  |  discussion: Hacker News: 2023-06-30

    • [Wikipedia] Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies is a 1989 book by U.S. academic Noam Chomsky concerning political power using propaganda to distort & distract from major issues to maintain confusion & complicity, preventing real democracy from becoming effective.

    Noam Chomsky (b. 1928-12-07) is an American public intellectual known for his work in linguistics, political activism, and social criticism. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science.

      • Chomsky is a laureate professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona and an institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Chomsky has written more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, and politics. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Wealth inequality

Wealth inequality - the uneven distribution of wealth among individuals and entities - is growing. A handful of persons own as much wealth as the rest of humanity, combined.

• The wealth of billionaires soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to criticism, Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to food banks. To most of us that sum is unfathomable; to Bezos, that sum is inconsequential.

    According to Forbes, in 2020-09-01 Bezos had a net worth of $202 billion USD. In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, his wealth grew by approximately $24 billion.

    • For context, given a wealth of $200 billion, $100 million represented 0.05% of his personal wealth; if Bezos made monthly repeated $100 million contributions, it would take 167 years to deplete his wealth (likewise, 5.5 years if he gave away $100 million, daily.

• More recently, despite rocketing past Jeff Bezos as the world's wealthiest oligarch, Elon Musk opposed discussions to tax that wealth, while making $36 billion in one day. Currently (2023-05-30) hovering around a net worth of ~$200 billion USD, on 2021-11-01 Elon Musk was worth $305.5 billion USD, according to Forbes.

[toggle] When 3 Men Richer Than 165 Million People, Sanders Says Working Class Must "Come Together"

• (CommonDreams.com, 2023-06-04) When 3 Men Richer Than 165 Million People, Sanders Says Working Class Must "Come Together". Big-money special interests "want to divide us up," said the independent senator at a living wage rally in South Carolina, "and we are determined to bring working people together."

• As President Joe Biden signed into law an agreement Saturday (2023-06-03) that would shield wealthy tax cheats from stronger IRS enforcement while at the same time enacting cuts to key anti-poverty programs, Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressive allies were busy denouncing the immoral, low-wage economic system in the United States in which just a small handful of mega-billionaires have accumulated more wealth than tens of millions of hard-working but low-paid workers and their families.

• "It is not moral that three people on top own more wealth than the bottom half of American society, 165 million Americans," Sanders declared during his speech. "That's not moral. That's not right. That's not what should exist in a democratic society."

    • (theHill.com, 2023-05-31) Sanders to vote against debt bill, says Biden should invoke 14th Amendment Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he will vote against the bill that President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California.) agreed upon to raise the debt ceiling and called on Biden to eliminate the ceiling himself through the 14th Amendment.

    • Sanders said he cannot "in good conscience" vote for a bill that would make affording the cost of childcare, health care and housing more difficult for working families while helping the wealthiest individuals and companies "cheat" on their taxes.

    • The bill would revoke $1.4 billion that had been allocated to the Internal Revenue Service through the Inflation Reduction Act last year, specifically to help the agency better enforce its rules on those not fully paying their share of taxes.

• Income inequality - also growing - is a public health issue.

    • Income inequality is the gap between the highest and lowest earners in a given area.
    It can contribute to people's risk of poor health, and specifically mental health.

    [toggle] How income inequality puts Canadian youth at risk

    • (theConversation.com, 2023-05-28) Deaths of despair: How income inequality puts Canadian youth at risk. Income inequality has been linked to poor physical and mental health in past research, but more recent evidence suggests the issue of income inequality may be much more severe than previously expected.

    • Deaths of despair are deaths attributable to suicide, drug overdose and alcohol-related liver disease. These deaths are on the rise in Canada, and finding points of intervention is key to reducing the burden of this crisis.

    • Areas where income inequality is higher are less likely to have the type of social programs that are key to improving the health of communities. For example, divesting in mental health services and supports can lead to worsened mental health, and removal or lack of harm reduction services and mental health services can put people at a higher risk of deaths of despair.

Disproportionate influence of billionaires

Culture wars - exacerbated by billionaire-owned mass media - divert attention from fraudulent activity.

[toggle] Ownership of mass media

• Through his ownership of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos owns Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

Bloomberg News is owned by one-time U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

The Washington Post is also owned by Jeff Bezos

Twitter is owned by Elon Musk

[toggle] Conservative and Christian right billionaires

Included in this category are:

[toggle] Far-right billionaires

Julie Fancelli (an heir to the Publix grocery store fortune)

• Elon Musk

    [toggle] Elon Musk

    • (NewRepublic.com, 2023-06-02) Elon Musk Personally Elevates Transphobic Video Originally Flagged as Hate Speech. "Every parent should watch this," said the man disowned by his trans daughter. This is what Elon Musk - one of the world's most powerful elites - said about The Daily Wire's transphobic documentary "What Is a Woman?", hosted by the vicious and intellectually dull Matt Walsh.

    • (NewRepublic.com, 2023-06-02) Elon Musk Calls to Imprison Therapists Helping Trans Kids. The Twitter CEO suggested throwing the medical professionals in jail, shortly after vowing to lobby for the criminalization of gender-affirming care.

      • On Friday morning (2023-06-02) Elon Musk promoted a transphobic documentary produced by the petulant, vicious, and dull extremist commentator Matt Walsh.

      • "Every parent should watch this," said Musk, whose own daughter disowned him. But that wasn't enough. Amid his bowing down to the far-right mob, Musk called gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18 "a major problem" that he will be "actively lobbying to criminalize."

      • Far-right troll Jordan Peterson hopped on to Musk's tweet, adding his vision for what that regime would look like: "Prison. Long term. Without parole. No mercy," he said, adding that he'd subject such policing to the therapists who support this medical care. "Absolutely," Musk responded.

Rebekah Mercer: Breitbart News  |  Cambridge Analytica | Parler

• ...

[toggle] Political corruption

• (Truthout.org, 2022-11-03) 465 Billionaires Have Pumped an Eye-Popping $881 Million Into the U.S. Midterms. This is a whopping 27 times more than what billionaires contributed to elections before Citizens United.

    • This is a staggering amount of money spent by an astoundingly small number of people in order to influence elections that will affect the entire U.S. population and beyond. The data is a stark illustration of the vast amount of influence that billionaires have over the political system that has been afforded to them by conservative tax cutting and Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which allows billionaires and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.

• (Americans for Tax Fairness, 2022-07) Report: Billionaires Buying Elections  |  pdf  |  local copy

    • The nation's roughly 750 billionaires are increasingly using their personal fortunes and the profits of connected corporations to drown out regular voters' voices and elect hand-picked candidates who further rig the nation's economy - especially the tax system - to make their wealthy benefactors even richer. This anti-democratic vote- buying, totaling $1.2 billion in the 2020 election cycle, has expanded greatly in recent years. It has been facilitated by - and is facilitating - the accelerating wealth growth of the billionaire class and the record profits of the corporations they own.

• (AmericansForTaxFairness.org, 2023-05-01) Travel Rewards: What the Crow Family May Have Bought by Hosting Those Luxury Trips for Justice Thomas. The Crows used their fortune to buy access to and curry favor with one of the most powerful officials in Washington - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas - then benefitted from his central role in loosening rules meant to limit the influence of money over politics and policy. The Crows' influence-buying and political spending are emblematic of a larger problem: the ongoing attempt by billionaires to purchase our democracy.

[toggle] Appropriation of public funds

(LeverNews.com, 2023-05-16) Ron DeSantis Allows Anti-"Woke" Giveaway To Big Wall Street Donors. As private equity donated to groups supporting Ron DeSantis, he oversaw a billion-dollar transfer of Florida state employees' retirement dollars into underperforming firms.

    • Florida governor and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has been crusading against "woke" investments for allegedly threatening his Florida state employees' retirement funds. But the most imminent threat to Florida public employees' retirement dollars appears to be the massive Florida state pension investments that have gone to some of the Republican Party's Wall Street donors under DeSantis' watch.

    • Despite a federal anti-corruption rule designed to prevent donors from receiving Florida state pension fund investments, private equity executives have donated millions to political groups supporting DeSantis, all while Florida Governor DeSantis oversaw the transfer of more than $1 billion of Florida public employees' retirement dollars into these donors' high-fee, high-risk "alternative investments.

    • ... DeSantis changed to the Florida state pension fund's investment policy and proxy voting guidelines - guidelines Florida uses to determine how it votes on shareholder resolutions.

    • And, in 2023-01 Ron DeSantis further prohibited "woke ESG considerations" - implementing guidelines that would ensure "all investment decisions focus solely on maximizing the highest rate of return." "Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Cabinet reaffirmed today that we don't want a single penny of our dollars going to woke funds," said Jimmy Patronis, the Florida's Chief Financial Officer. "We need asset managers to be laser focused on returns and nothing more."

    • In his book released in 2023-02, Ron DeSantis expanded his critiques of "woke" investments, calling for the "crippling" of the ESG movement. DeSantis' condemnation of ESG investing has come out of the broader culture wars - of which the governor is an eager participant.

    • But combating ESG is also a major interest of Leonard Leo - a conservative strategist and co-chair of the Federalist Society - who last year (2022) received the largest-known dark money transfer in American history to advance the political interests of the religious right and reshape American politics ($1.6 billion donation from billionaire Barre Seid).

    • On 2023-04-20 The Lever reported that the leader of Ron DeSantis' new super PAC - Never Back Down - was deeply involved in orchestrating that $1.6 billion donation from Barre Seid to Leonard Leo.

    Friends of Ron DeSantis could transfer its resources (currently $85 million) to Never Back Downaccording to a Washington Post article.

• Given our deep concerns about his ultraconservative ideologies and neofascist actions, we must question the motives of those who fund Florida Governor and U.S. presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.

    [toggle] Pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC to inherit state-level PAC war chest to support presidential run

    • (OpenSecrets.org, 2023-05-24) Pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC to inherit state-level PAC war chest to support presidential run. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' U.S. presidential campaign is backed by a super PAC, Never Back Down, flush with more than $80 million from his state-level PAC "Friends of Ron DeSantis". Ron DeSantis raised $210.9 million during the 2022 election (more than any gubernatorial candidate in U.S. history): DeSantis' state-level PAC - "Friends of Ron DeSantis" raked in more than $173.2 million, and his campaign brought in $37.7 million. The Wall Street Journal reported plans to transfer the state-level PAC (Friends of Ron DeSantis)'s remaining funds to the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down.

    • Ron DeSantis demurred on his presidential ambitions for months even as he toured the country - and the globe - raising his profile and courting wealthy donors. Deep-pocketed individuals and an opaque Michigan-based nonprofit - And To The Republic - helped fund DeSantis' travel, according to The New York Times - which also spoke with several lobbyists who fielded requests for planes from DeSantis' political aides.

    • Billionaire Robert Bigelow contributed $10 million to Ron DeSantis' state-level PAC during the 2022 election cycle - the single largest contribution to DeSantis' political operation, and the largest single political donation in Florida state history. Bigelow already reportedly contributed $20 million to the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC.

    • Billionaire Ken Griffin contributed nearly $10.8 million to Ron DeSantis' political operation in recent years. Ken Griffin gave $5.8 million to Ron DeSantis' state-level PAC (Friends of Ron DeSantis) when DeSantis was first elected governor of Florida during the 2018 election cycle, and another $5 million during DeSantis' 2022 reelection bid. While Ken Griffin told POLITICO in 2022-11 that he was ready to back Ron DeSantis and "move on to the next generation," the Citadel LLC CEO (Ken Griffin) has privately questioned some of DeSantis' policy moves and public rhetoric. ...

    • While billionaire Richard Uihlein contributed $700,000 to Ron DeSantis' state-level PAC during DeSantis' 2018 gubernatorial bid, and an additional $700,000 to DeSantis' 2022 reelection race - a person familiar with Richard Uihlein's political spending strategy told NBC News in 2023-03, "The brakes are pumped" after polling showed DeSantis lagging behind former President Donald Trump.

    [toggle] Ron DeSantis Is All In - On Creating an American Autocracy

    • (MotherJones.com, 2023-05-25) Ron DeSantis Is All In - On Creating an American Autocracy. His plan to outflank Trump would scale up the calculated system of repression he designed in Florida.

    • ... In 2018, Ron DeSantis squeaked into office by 32,000 votes ...Fueled by near-constant Fox News appearances, Ron DeSantis cemented his popularity with conservatives and attracted billionaire donors - who view him as Donald Trump's most viable successor and stuffed his reelection coffers with millions. ...

    • See also: evolution of Florida as a neofascist state.

Abolition of wealth

Persagen posits that no person, family, or private entity should own or control extraordinary quantities of wealth.

[toggle] Calls to Abolish Billionaires

• (New York Times, 2019-02-06) Abolish Billionaires. A radical idea is gaining adherents on the left. It's the perfect way to blunt tech-driven inequality.

    • (Financial Express, 2019-12-13) The corrupting syndrome of the super-rich. At the start of this year (2019-02-06), The New York Times published Farhad Manjoo's passionate opinion piece, "Abolish Billionaires". ... I would argue, billionaires are an existential threat to humanity. ...

• (Vox.com, 2019-07-09) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's policy adviser makes the case for abolishing billionaires.

• (Linda McQuaig, 2022-11-17) Billionaires are far from harmless. Fuelling the climate crisis, they're among the most dangerous people on Earth. The best hope of averting climate disaster may well be wealth taxes that significantly reduce the wealth and power of the superrich.

[toggle] The Rich Are Killing Our Planet

• (Occupy.com, 2023-03-02) Green New Deal XXI: The Rich Are Killing Our Planet. Make Super-Wealth History

    Oxfam  calculated that between 2020 and 2022, as average global energy and food prices rose by 30 percent, those who owned corporations profiting in those industries pocketed nearly $453 billion USD. 62 new food billionaires have been created over the last two years.

    • Responding to the report, Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

      "It is morally indefensible that people in East Africa are dying of hunger while the fortunes of the world's super-rich are fuelled by skyrocketing food and energy prices. There simply can be no excuse for governments not addressing gargantuan profits and wealth to ensure that no one is left behind. "Introducing wealth taxes, for example, would raise huge sums that could help vulnerable groups to survive this crisis and build a better future. Here in the U.K., a windfall tax on energy companies by the UK Government would be a strong place to start."

    • Over the last 40 years the global rich have gotten far wealthier, in relative and real terms. They have justified this by selling and promoting the idea that society should strive to increase personal freedom as opposed to liberating or supporting society as a whole. Part 16 of this series showed how the doctrine of neoliberalism gained ascendancy and went on to dominate politics for half a century: it sold the idea of freedom, when in reality the systemic adjustment only gave more freedom and power to the rich.

    • It is also worth noting that living in the neoliberal period also means living in an age of massive waste and overconsumption. Capitalists extract wealth while presiding over a system that makes no sense in terms of its sustainability, not to mention fairness. One example is food production. Due to the way food is commodified and sold (or often short-sold), a third of food globally is wasted.

    • The rich are killing our planet. The rich are driving the ecological meltdown, widely known as anthropogenic climate change. In terms of consumption, the richest 10 percent have caused over half the world's greenhouse gas emissions, while the richest 1 percent alone have caused 15 percent of emissions. Think of their multiple heated swimming pools, private jets, luxury yacht and gas-guzzling vehicles, even private space flights.

    • On the production side, between 1988 and 2017, 100 corporations were responsible for over 70 percent of global emissions, according to a Carbon Majors report.

• (Tom Malleson, Inequality.org, 2023-05-12) Why We Should Abolish the Super Rich. "The rationales for accepting vast inequalities of income and wealth simply do not hold up." Tom Malleson - an associate professor at King's University College at Canada's University of Western Ontario - has just had published Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich (2023, Oxford University Press).

• (Inequality.org, 2023-05-26) The First Trillionaire: No Cause for Celebration. We'll never, as a nation, take on the ultra-rich if millions of Americans identify with them.

[toggle] Why We Should Abolish the Super Rich

• (Tom Malleson, Inequality.org, 2023-05-12) Why We Should Abolish the Super Rich. "The rationales for accepting vast inequalities of income and wealth simply do not hold up." See also: Against Inequality: The Practical and Ethical Case for Abolishing the Superrich (Tom Malleson, 2023).

• In the United States the top 0.1 percent now control about the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent of the entire population. Globally, the richest eight individuals possess as much wealth as half the entire planet.

• The U.S. could completely eradicate homelessness by taxing just 2 percent of the wealth of two billionaires: Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. If we redistributed 2 percent of the wealth of all the world's billionaires we could eliminate extreme poverty entirely. Billionaires, meanwhile, would likely not even lose any money in the process since they typically earn more than 2 percent annually off their wealth.

• Despite these stats, the same objections resurface whenever anyone suggests redistribution of wealth. (1) Reducing inequality is impossible because the rich will be able to avoid paying any new taxes levied upon them. (2) Even if we could raise taxes on the rich, we shouldn't - because the costs to society always outweigh any benefits. (3) The rich, morally speaking, deserve their good fortune (meritocracy).

• Taxing the rich doesn't necessarily reduce investment; in many cases, high tax rates simply re-arrange investment. If the state collects taxes and then spends that money in productive ways, the economy will grow. Conversely, state-of-the-art evidence shows that high inequality tends to reduce an economy's overall growth rate. So much for the costs of significantly taxing the richest among us. What about the benefits? Five stand out.

    1. Our environment. The richest 20 individuals emit 8,000-times more carbon than our Earth's poorest billion people combined. Redistributing a portion of top wealth to invest in things like public transit would directly reduce emissions and help build a desperately needed low-carbon infrastructure.

    2. Our democracy. Inequality erodes democracy. In the United States, as the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page have noted, the majority "does not rule - at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes." Democracy has disintegrated into oligarchy.

    3. Opportunity for all. Inequality makes a mockery of the equal opportunity we claim to value. The poorest residents of Chicago today face a life expectancy fully thirty years shorter than the richest. High redistributive taxes could reverse this most brutal of disparities.

    4. Reduced xenophobia and racism. Right-wing populism typically grows hand-in-hand with economic insecurity. We can reduce that insecurity by taxing the rich to fund free public services, a stronger safety net, and perhaps even a guaranteed basic income.

    5. Reduced social friction. Reducing inequality, the evidence also shows, builds community health and cohesion. Reducing inequality encourages greater levels of trust and tolerance, better mental health, and less crime. That said, I did find one area where my initial suspicions didn't hold up. The jury remains out whether inequality clearly shortens life expectancy.

Meritocracy: do the rich genuinely deserve their immense fortunes? The socialist historian Howard Zinn had it right: "Give people what they need: food, medicine, clean air, pure water, trees and grass, pleasant homes to live in, some hours of work, more hours of leisure. Don't ask who deserves it. Every human being deserves it." We do not need the awesomely rich. In fact, we'd be far better off without them.

Neofascism

Society broadly and decisively favors women's rights, self-determination, and democratic processes. Nevertheless:

Neofascism (cont'd)

Neofascism - deeply entrenched and pervading the Republican Party - is rising in the United States (see the evolution of the United States as a neofascist state), as it is in other nations (Brazil; India; Italy; Turkey; Russia; United Kingdom; ...)

• As mentioned, the situation in Florida is especially egregious, leading to unprecedented warnings to tourists to Florida from various civil rights groups.

    [toggle] Equality Florida

    Equality Florida is a political advocacy group that advocates for civil rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) residents of the U.S. state of Florida.

    • (Equality Florida, 2023-04-11) Today Equality Florida Issues Advisory Warning For Travel. Today, Equality Florida took the unprecedented step of issuing a travel advisory to individuals, families, entrepreneurs, and students warning that Florida may not be a safe place to visit or take up residence. The advisory comes after passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws and allow untrained, unpermitted carry, and foment racial prejudice. The Governor (Ron DeSantis) has also weaponized state agencies to impose sanctions against businesses large and small that disagree with his attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    • Florida has recently adopted a slate of hateful laws, and is fast-tracking additional measures that directly target the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and basic freedoms broadly. Already, those policies have led Florida parents to consider relocating, prospective students to cross Florida colleges and universities off their lists, events and conferences to cancel future gatherings, and the United States military to offer redeployment for service members whose families are now unsafe in the state. These laws and policies are detailed below.

      • Assaults on Medical Freedom. ...

      • Assaults on Academic Freedom. ...

      • Censorship and Erasure of the LGBTQ Community. ...

      • Assaults on Arts, Entertainment, and Sports Participation. ...

      • Assaults on Business. ...

      • Efforts to Foment Racial Prejudice. ...

      • Repealing of Gun Safety Laws. ...

      • Attacks on Immigrant Communities. ...

    • Taken in their totality, Florida's slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state. ...

    [toggle] Human Rights Campaign

    • (CBC.ca, 2023-05-23) Largest LGBTQ group in U.S. warns about travel to Florida.  New policies could endanger minorities, immigrants and gay people, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) says.

    • The largest LGBTQ rights organization in the U.S. joined other civil rights organizations Tuesday (2023-05-23) in issuing a travel advisory for Florida, warning that newly passed laws and policies may pose risks to minorities, immigrants and gay travelers.

    • The Human Rights Campaign joined the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and Equality Florida in issuing travel or relocation warnings for the Sunshine State, one of the most popular states for tourists to visit in the U.S.

    • While the advocacy group said it wasn't calling for a boycott or making a blanket recommendation against visiting Florida, HRC said it wanted to highlight new laws passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature that it said are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restricts abortion access, and allows Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

    [toggle] NAACP

    • (CTVNews.ca, 2023-05-21) Civil rights groups warn tourists about Florida in wake of 'hostile' laws.

    • "The NAACP over the weekend issued a travel advisory for Florida, joining two other civil rights groups in warning potential tourists that recent laws and policies championed by Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers are 'openly hostile toward African Americans, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals.'

    • The NAACP - an advocate for Black Americans - joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (a Latino civil rights organization), and Equality Florida (a gay rights advocacy group) - in issuing travel advisories for the Sunshine State, where tourism is one of the state's largest job sectors. The warning - approved Saturday (2023-05-20) by the NAACP's board of directors - tells tourists that, before traveling to Florida they should understand the state of Florida 'devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of colour.' ..."

    • (MotherJones.com, 2023-{07-08}) Republicans Around the Country Are Trying to Rob Democrats of the Right to Govern. It's not just Ron DeSantis. The Red State war on blue cities is intensifying.

Hungarian ultraconservatism and U.S. politics
[toggle] [Preamble] How trans people became Hungary's latest target

• (OpenDemocracy.net, 2023-05-17) How trans people became Hungary's latest target. Gender recognition ban forces trans people to be visible.

    • In 2020 the Hungarian parliament replaced the term "sex" with "sex assigned at birth" in the Civil Registry Document - the basis for all legal documents in Hungary - making it impossible for trans and intersex people to change their documents in alignment with their name and gender identity.

    • In 2023-02 Hungary's constitutional court issued a ruling that blocks new applications from transgender people for legal gender recognition. In the U.K., the Equality and Human Rights Commission proposed a similar move to redefine "sex" as "biological sex", in a letter to the Hungarian government in 2023-04.

    • The new laws made Hungarians with IDs that don't match their gender identity targets for hatred and harassment. "There's nowhere to turn because our legal names are everywhere - in schools, banks, workplaces and other public institutions, on identity cards and travel documents."

    • Right-wing populist kleptocracies always have imaginary enemies to fight. After years of targeting migrants, the new imaginary enemy is the so-called "LGBTQ lobby" and trans people. With a history of legislating openly homophobic and transphobic bills, in 2023-04 Viktor Orbán's government passed a bill calling on citizens to report "rainbow families" - including same-sex parents and parents who respect their child's trans identity - to authorities.

    • Weeks before this latest bill, more than a dozen E.U. countries backed legal action brought by the European Commission at the European Court of Justice against Hungary over its anti-LGBTIQ laws, including one passed in 2020-12 that effectively bans same-sex couples from adopting children.

    • In 2020 the Hungarian government rewrote the country's constitution to say: "Hungary shall protect the right of children to their identity in line with their sex at birth, and shall ensure an upbringing in accordance with the values based on our homeland's constitutional identity and Christian culture."

    • The following year (2021), the Hungarian government launched a Russian-style hate campaign to ban LGBTQ-themed education in schools. In Viktor Orbán's own words: "We are very tolerant, but there is a red line, not to cross: stay away from our children."

    • The national media authority - whose president was nominated by Viktor Orbán - even investigated a Netflix cartoon because it contained a lesbian kiss. It found the cartoon had broken the law, and reported it to the authorities in the Netherlands, where Netflix's European branch is based.

    • There are calls from politicians and the media to "protect" children from so-called trans lobbies - yet they are silent on children in Hungary going to school hungry, or the country's lack of teachers, or the fact children aren't allowed to wear coats in cold classrooms in winter. It is also forbidden to sell books that "do not represent traditional sexuality and gender roles" within 200 metres of schools and churches. Technically, this means that most plays by Shakespeare, as well as the Bible, should be banned because the description is not only foolish and evil but also vague. As a result, bookshops are wary and prefer to err on the side of censorship.

    • A few weeks ago, Hungary's president Katalin Novák (a perfect example of gender-washing) pardoned and released from prison an infamous far-right activist, who had been convicted of terrorism. He and his friends often attacked LGBTQ events. While the Hungarian government actively pursues a severe misogynist agenda, vocal and influential left-leaning media outlets are busy criticising "transgenderism" with ill-informed fears about trans people supposedly threatening the rights of women.

[toggle] Conservative Political Action Conference

• The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States and beyond. In 2016-12 CPAC extended an invitation to conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the event, despite his history of controversial views on feminism, racial minorities, and transgender issues.

• (CommonDreams.org, 2022-08-05) "We Should Unite Our Forces:" Orbán Serves Up Far-Right Red Meat to CPAC Crowd. "The Republican playbook is the Viktor Orbán playbook,"' said one observer. "And you can call that what you want - but I am going to continue to call it fascism."

• (NewRepublic.com, 2022-10-28) Meet the Congressman Who Is Viktor Orbán's Biggest Fanboy. Maryland's Andy Harris loves the Hungarian strongman. Maybe what his father did during WWII helps explain some things."

    Andy Harris' aggressive advocacy for Hungary and Viktor Orbán in recent years parallels other moves by conservatives to forge closer ties with Orbán that accelerated during Donald Trump's presidency.

    • The 65-year-old Harris, a physician by training, has become increasingly vocal this year in promoting Orbán's hard-right policies and linking Orbán's agenda with that of U.S. conservatives, as he did in a video address to a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest in 2022-05 (where Orbán spoke as well) and in remarks to the Hungarian press, where Harris has heaped praise on Orbán.

    • Speaking to a Hungarian paper just days before Viktor Orbán addressed another CPAC event in Dallas in 2022-08, Andy Harris lauded Orbán for advocating "conservative policies, despite strong criticism of left-wing E.U. governments, which are closely aligned with the Republican Party's platform for the next two election campaigns. In particular, on social issues and border security."

    • Andy Harris added: "Viktor Orbán is right: nations must defend their identities and borders, and Western civilization is based on Judeo-Christian values, especially the role and importance of the family."

[toggle] Steve Bannon's "The Movement"

Steve Bannon's Eurosceptic right-wing populist group, The Movement is a counterpoint to George Soros' globalist Open Society Foundations.

• Attempting to expand influence in the Balkans, in 2018-07, Bannon and Trump administration staff met with Željka Cvijanović - Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska - in Washington, D.C.

• The Movement has attracted the attention of Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, who spoke positively of the group.

• (Newsweek.com, 2022-09-24) Giorgia Meloni Set to Give Steve Bannon a Huge Victory for His "Revolution". Former White House strategist Steve Bannon may be another step closer to achieving his goal of seeing a far-right populist movement spread across Europe should Giorgia Meloni become Italy's new prime minister. (Update: Giorgia Meloni has been serving as the prime minister of Italy since 2022-10-22.).

    • "I've said for years that Italy is the worldwide laboratory for the populist-nationalist revolution, said Steve Bannon, a leading member of the so-called "alt-right" movement in the U.S.

    • In 2017 Bannon announced he was launching a European operation called The Movement - which sought to unite European nationalists such as British politician and key Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, France's Marine Le Pen of the National Rally party, and Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - in a bid to get more far-right politicians elected in the European Parliament elections. However, "The Movement" eventually lost momentum, with a number of parties not willing to formally accept the coalition set out by Bannon.

[toggle] Ron DeSantis ... again ...

• (Truthout.org, 2023-04-28) Florida's Ron DeSantis Is Just a Step Behind Hungary's Fascist Viktor Orbán. Anti-LGBTQ attacks in Hungary are offering bigoted inspiration to the far right in the U.S.  |  Ron DeSantis

    • In 2020, Hungary's right-dominated parliament ended the legal recognition of transgender and intersex people, leading to the end of previous provisions under which transgender Hungarians could change their gender designations and names on official documents.

    • In 2021, like Russia's 2013 law against "gay propaganda" - Hungary's Parliament passed legislation that banned the inclusion of LGBTQ people in school educational materials. Additionally, in 2022, the Hungarian government passed a censorship law that prohibited LGBTQ individuals from being featured in educational materials for youth, and banned companies from making advertisements that support the LGBTQ community if the product being advertised could be considered to be targeting youth.

    • In 2023-04 Hungary's parliament passed a federal law encouraging its citizens to report same-sex families with children to local authorities, for breaching the "constitutionally recognized role of marriage and the family."

    • For people who have been experiencing and following the relentless legislative attacks on LGBTQ people in the U.S. - including more than 450 bills in the first third of 2023 across the U.S. and 10 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in Florida alone - Hungary's escalating legislative attacks on LGBTQ lives sound chillingly familiar. The similarities between the tactics used by the GOP and the government of Viktor Orbán - the authoritarian prime minister of Hungary - are not coincidental: the U.S. right wing looks to Hungary for inspiration. Many right-wing U.S. intellectuals and journalists (Tucker Carlson, etc.) consider Orbán as a role model,

    • In response to the recent legislative attack on Hungarian same-sex couples, Gillian Branstetter - communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project, and LGBTQ & HIV Project - warned that legislation like Hungary's may soon be "coming to a red state near you." Zsolt Enyedi (a professor at Central European University in Vienna) told Truthout. "Once Donald Trump is replaced by a better organized and smarter leader, U.S. democracy can get into real danger."

    William Horne - a history scholar and postdoctoral fellow at Villanova University - also underscored the active connections between right-wing forces in Hungary and the U.S. "While we tend to think about these as separate threats, in many respects, they are part of the same global fascist movement supported and spread by the same far right information networks. While Republicans praise the repressive regimes of adversaries because of their oppressive nature, they have worked hard to court and create what is now a burgeoning global fascist movement. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a prime example of these efforts, with Christian nationalist dictators like Viktor Orbán literally taking center stage."

Supreme Court of the United States

There are three key things to know about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

    1. As the supreme court, SCOTUS is the final word on the interpretation and application of the U.S. constitutional law.

    2. Supreme Court justices are appointed with life terms.

    3. It is self-regulating, and does not have to bend to anyone's will. It can operate in secret, and does not have to explain itself.

The immense power and influence wielded by SCOTUS is the envy of U.S. conservativescorporations, and the Christian right.

    [toggle] First Amendment to the United States Constitution

    • The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws that regulate an establishment of religion, or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

    • For decades, the First Amendment has been under attack by billionaires, corporations, conservatives (e.g. anti-abortion and anti-LGBT+ activists), and the Christian right. For example:

      • (WashingtonPost.com, 2022-06-21) The Supreme Court Has Just Eroded First Amendment Law.

      • In an extremely important church-and-state decision, the Supreme Court has held that if the state of Maine decides to pay for a child's private education in lieu of a public one (school vouchers), it must allow its tuition money to be used at religious schools.

      • The 6-3 decision - Carson v. Makin - profoundly undermines existing First Amendment law. It represents the end of the centuries-old constitutional ban on direct state aid to the teaching of religion.

      • And remarkably, it does all this in the name of religious liberty, giving the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment primacy over the establishment clause found in the exact same amendment. ...

    [toggle] Corporations
      [toggle] Corporations are legal persons

      • There are two kinds of legal persons: human and non-human. Legally speaking, companies and corporations are "persons" - they can legally do most of the things an ordinary person can do. As legal persons, corporations can also attack First Amendment rights and prohibitions.

      • The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that certain constitutional rights protect legal persons (such as corporations and other organizations).

      • A prominent component of relevant case law is the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (Citizens United v. FEC), which ruled unconstitutional certain restrictions on corporate campaign spending during elections.

      • Freed of spending limits on lobbying and campaign finance contributions, corporations have attacked restrictions on corporate regulation and responsibilities - leading to damage the environment, clawing back worker rights (right to strike; anti-union efforts; weakened occupational health and safety regulations; ...), tax avoidance, ....

      [toggle] Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency

      • In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (2012) ("Sackett I") SCOTUS ruled that orders issued by the EPA under the Clean Water Act are subject to the Administrative Procedure Act.

      • In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (2023) ("Sackett II") SCOTUS limited EPA's authority to regulate the waters of the U.S.

    [toggle] Conservatives

    • Conservative politicians have been targeting SCOTUS' protections against electoral fraud (voting: registration; ballots; campaign finance; gerrymandering) and federal-state separation of powers (the Assembly of States seeks an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution). State legislatures - freed from SCOTUS oversight - would be able to wreak even more damage than they currently do. Note that state Attorneys General certify elections - state and federal - in their jurisdiction.

    [toggle] Christian right

    • Billionaire-backed Christian organizations seek to rescind women's rights (access to abortion; access to contraception) and - per the doctrine that God is infallible and created only men and women - LGBT rights (access to shelter, healthcare, same-sex marriage, non-discrimination protections).

Conservative co-option of SCOTUS

Since at least the Ronald Reagan era  conservatives have stacked the U.S. Supreme Court in their favor.

[toggle] Campaign finance reform

• For an overview, refer to Wikipedia: First Amendment § Freedom of speech and of the press: Campaign finance.

• SCOTUS scrutinized campaign finance regulation in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003). The case centered on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), a federal law that imposed new restrictions on campaign financing. The plaintiff in McConnell v. FEC was U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who - with Leonard Leo - is largely responsible for dark money financing and co-option of SCOTUS.

• In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), SCOTUS ruled that the BCRA's federal restrictions on electoral advocacy by corporations or unions were unconstitutional for violating the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The ruling was considered to hold that "political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment".

• In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014), SCOTUS ruled that federal aggregate limits on how much a person can donate to candidates, political parties, and political action committees, combined respectively in a two-year period known as an "election cycle", violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

[toggle] Dark money

• The SCOTUS rulings above - particularly since Citizens United v. FEC (2010) - opened the floodgates to essentially unregulated campaign finance lobbying - both of U.S. politicians, and the American public (advertising and other mass / social media campaigns).

    [toggle] Leonard Leo

    • Deeply religious, conservative, secretive and well-connected Leonard Leo is one of the most powerful (hence dangerous) persons in U.S. politics. A co-Chairman of the Federalist Society, Leo directs a dark money network of unprecedented wealth and power.

    Leonard Leo, 57, has for years been the behind-the-scenes leader of a network of interlocking nonprofits that has raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to support conservative judges and causes. Marble Freedom Trust, one of the organizations Leo chairs, received a contribution worth $1.6 billion in 2020 from a Chicago businessman, Barre Seid.

    • Leonard Leo's network also intersects with Ron DeSantis through Chris Jankowski.

    • Recent exposes include the following articles.

    [toggle] Intersections: Chris Jankowski, Leonard Leo, SCOTUS. Ron DeSantis

    • (LeverNews.com, 2023-04-20) The Leonard Leo Presidential Primary.

      • Chris Jankowski has for years served as a consultant for Leonard Leo's dark money network. Jankowski helped Leo establish the Marble Freedom Trust - Leonard Leo's $1.6 billion landmark dark money fund. The donation for the Marble Freedom Trust came from Barre Seid, who as part of his "attack philanthropy" strategy gifted the entirety of his electronics business to the Marble Freedom Trust, which then sold it.

      • Leonard Leo played a central role in flipping control of the U.S. Supreme Court and building its 6-3 conservative supermajority, helping select and install three U.S. Supreme Court nominees as President Donald Trump's top judicial adviser.

      • Leo has used his dark money network to distribute major donations to nonprofits affiliated with several other potential U.S. presidential election primary contenders, including Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. Ron DeSantis' crusade against "woke capital" and his recent decision to sign a six-week abortion ban seem to be perfectly calibrated to appeal to Leonard Leo - a hardline social conservative who has financed a broader messaging war against "woke capitalism."

      • Chris Jankowski - a longtime conservative operative - is best known for spearheading the Republican State Leadership Committee's highly successful 2010 Project REDMAP campaign - an effort to tip state house elections across the United States, and then use the redistricting process (gerrymandering) to help the GOP lock in a long-lasting advantage in congressional and state legislative elections.

      • Since 2014, Chris Jankowski has been periodically identified as a consultant with the Judicial Crisis Network, a key dark money cog in Leonard Leo's campaign to remake both the federal and state courts. "In 2016 to 2018, Chris Jankowski served as a lead consultant to the Judicial Crisis Network's successful U.S. Supreme Court confirmation campaigns," reads Chris Jankowski's bio on one conservative nonprofit's website. "These efforts blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland and pushed for confirmation of Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. These unprecedented efforts, with almost $30 million spent, helped create a new conservative majority on the court."

      • Now, Chris Jankowski is helming Never Back Down - a super PAC that's preparing to help perform core campaign operations to boost Ron DeSantis U.S. presidential aspirations. Chris Jankowski's current role with DeSantis' super PAC "Never Back Down" super PAC is just one place where Leonard Leo's influence will be felt throughout the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

[toggle] Associate Justice Clarence Thomas
    [toggle] Conservative views

    • A recent (2023-05-09) Frontline documentary, Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court, describes Clarence Thomas' upbring, education, and conservatism (transcript here).

    Clarence Thomas - a one-time seminary student, moved from radicalism (Black Panther ideation), to rejection of affirmative action, to conservative ideology. On the Supreme Court since 1991, Clarence Thomas is a deeply conservative jurist known for his "originalism," an approach that seeks to adhere to close readings of the text of the Constitution.

    • Thomas' influence among conservatives was perceived to have significantly increased during Donald Trump's presidency. As the Supreme Court became more conservative, Thomas and his legal views became more influential among the Court. This influence increased further by 2022, with Thomas authoring an opinion expanding Second Amendment rights (guaranteeing the right of law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in public), and contributing to the SCOTUS' overruling of Roe v. Wade.

    • Clarence Thomas - a practicing Catholic, contends that the U.S. Constitution does not address abortion.

    • On 2022-06-24 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overrule Roe v. Wade. Wasting literally no time using Roe decision to attack gay rights, in a concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), Thomas argued that the Supreme Court should go beyond Roe vs. Wade and reconsider other substantive due process precedents, including those established in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965; contraception), Lawrence v. Texas (2003; same-sex intimacy), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015; same-sex marriage). The overturning of these previous decisions would enable states to limit access to contraception, criminalize sodomy, and criminalize same-sex marriage, respectively.

    • Clarence Thomas' wife, Virginia "Ginni" Lamp Thomas - is a highly influential, far-right lobbyist. The close association (marriage) of a far-right political activist and a Supreme Court justice has long troubled outside observers.

    [toggle] Undisclosed gifts and questioned impartiality

    • Concerns over the impartiality of Clarence Thomas were compounded with the disclosure of a decades-long pattern of undisclosed gifts and other favors provided to Clarence Thomas and his family by Texas billionaire Harlan Crow - a donor to Republican campaigns and conservative groups.

      [toggle] Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire

      • (ProPublica.org, 2023-04-06) Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire. A ProPublica investigation reveals lavish gifts and travel unprecedented in the modern Supreme Court." For more than two decades, Clarence Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from Dallas businessman / billionaire Harlan Crow. These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas' financial disclosures. Through his largesse, Harlan Crow has gained a unique form of access, spending days in private with one of the most powerful people in the United States.

      • Federal judges sit in a unique position of public trust. They have lifetime tenure, a privilege intended to insulate them from the pressures and potential corruption of politics. A code of conduct for federal judges below the Supreme Court requires them to avoid even the "appearance of impropriety." Members of the high court, Chief Justice John Roberts has written, "consult" that code for guidance. The Supreme Court is left almost entirely to police itself. There are few restrictions on what gifts justices can accept. That's in contrast to the other branches of government.

      • In 2011, The New York Times reported on Harlan Crow's generosity toward the justice. That same year (2011), Politico revealed that Harlan Crow had given half a million dollars to a Tea Party group founded by Ginni Thomas, which also paid Ginni Thomas a $120,000 salary. But the full scale of Harlan Crow's benefactions has never been revealed.

      • Clarence Thomas' frequent vacations have brought him into contact with corporate executives and political activists. During just one trip in July 2017, Clarence Thomas' fellow guests included executives at Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, major Republican donors and one of the leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business conservative think tank, according to records reviewed by ProPublica. The painting of Clarence Thomas at Topridge shows him in conversation with Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society leader regarded as an architect of the Supreme Court's recent turn to the right.

      • Harlan Crow has long supported efforts to move the judiciary to the right. Harlan Crow has donated to the Federalist Society and given millions of dollars to groups dedicated to tort reform and conservative jurisprudence. AEI and the Hoover Institution publish scholarship advancing conservative legal theories, and fellows at the think tanks occasionally file amicus briefs with the Supreme Court.

      [toggle] AOC Renews Call for Clarence Thomas to Be Impeached Following Bombshell Report

      • (Truthout.org, 2023-04-06) AOC Renews Call for Clarence Thomas to Be Impeached Following Bombshell Report. "This degree of corruption is shocking - almost cartoonish. Clarence Thomas must be impeached."

      • "This cries out for the kind of independent investigation that the Supreme Court - and only the Supreme Court, across the entire government - refuses to perform," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). "It's not just the undisclosed gifts of hospitality, it's the undisclosed company of political operatives - particularly Leonard Leo, the operative who helped the billionaires capture the Court," Sheldon Whitehouse said.

      • Clarence Thomas also faced calls to be removed from the High Court after it was revealed last year (2022) that his wife - conservative activist Ginni Thomas - had ties to Donald Trump's plot to enact a coup to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

      [toggle] Clarence Thomas' Luxury Vacations Are Paid for by a Republican Megadonor

      • (NewRepublic.com, 2023-04-06) Clarence Thomas' Luxury Vacations Are Paid for by a Republican Megadonor. The Supreme Court justice has traveled the world on superyachts and private jets courtesy of Harlan Crow.

      Clarence Thomas' wife - Ginni Thomas - joined many of the trips - such as the Indonesian jaunt - and as Politico revealed in 2011, Harlan Crow has given at least $500,000 to a Tea Party group Ginni Thomas founded (and which later shut down). This is hardly the first of the couple's ethical entanglements. Ginni Thomas was intimately involved in attempts to overturn the 2020 election, as revealed in texts with numerous officials, including Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. In 2022-01 Ginni Thomas' husband Clarence Thomas was the only U.S. Supreme Court justice to vote against ordering the release of the paper trail of such communications. The New Yorker's Jane Mayer reported that same month (2022-01) that Ginni Thomas "has held leadership positions at conservative pressure groups that have either been involved in cases before the Court or have had members engaged in such cases."

      • The following month (2022-02) The New York Times Magazine described "the extent to which Justice Clarence Thomas flouted judicial-ethics guidance by participating in events hosted by conservative organizations with matters before the court." That was enough for The New Republic (TNR) to crown the couple "Scoundrels of the Year." As TNR editor Michael Tomasky wrote last December (2022-12), "No one has damaged the Supreme Court's reputation more than the Thomases. It's one thing to have a hard-right ideology. ... But to impose that vision on the democracy while flouting its rules, which literally every other Supreme Court justice has followed? That shows contempt for the democracy they tell themselves they are saving, and it announces to the rest of us that nothing is more important to Clarence Thomas than using his remaining time on the court, and this earth, to do as much as he can - with Ginni Thomas surely egging him on - to force his extremist agenda on us."

      [toggle] Travel Rewards: What the Crow Family May Have Bought by Hosting Those Luxury Trips for Justice Thomas

      • (AmericansForTaxFairness.org, 2023-05-01) Travel Rewards: What the Crow Family May Have Bought by Hosting Those Luxury Trips for Justice Thomas.

      • A nearly nine-fold increase in their ability to influence federal elections is one benefit the billionaire Crow family might ascribe to the years of luxurious hospitality they've provided to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to campaign-finance data compiled by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF). Thomas was a deciding vote in the 5-4 ruling by the Court in the controversial 2010 Citizens United case that opened the floodgates to unlimited political spending by the wealthy. The Crows immediately used the new rules to dramatically increase their average annual political spending to more than $1.5 million after Citizens United, versus $163,241 pre-Citizens United. Their total post-Citizens United political spending is $20.5 million, versus $5.3 million in all the reported years prior.

      • "The Crows used their fortune to buy access to and curry favor with one of the most powerful officials in Washington, then benefitted from his central role in loosening rules meant to limit the influence of money over politics and policy," said David Kass, ATF's executive director. "It's a vicious cycle that can only be short-circuited by restoring meaningful campaign-finance rules and by demanding a much fairer share of taxes from billionaires, which, among other good results, will leave them less money to distort our democratic process."

      • The Crows' influence-buying and political spending are emblematic of a larger problem: the ongoing attempt by billionaires to purchase our democracy. Over the past year, ATF has issued several reports on billionaires trying to buy elections and the risk that poses to our country. The group has called for both campaign-finance reform - beginning with the overturning of Citizens United - and fairer taxes on billionaires to reduce the resources available to them to buy candidates and campaigns.

      [toggle] Clarence Thomas' Citizens United Vote Enabled Billionaire Benefactor to Boost Political Power

      • (CommonDreams.org, 2023-05-02) Clarence Thomas' Citizens United Vote Enabled Billionaire Benefactor to Boost Political Power. "The Crows used their fortune to buy access to and curry favor with one of the most powerful officials in Washington, then benefited from his central role in loosening rules meant to limit the influence of money over politics," said one advocate.

      • A report published Monday (2023-05-01) highlights potential connections between the political influence of Harlan Crow's family and the billionaire GOP megadonor's yearslong endeavor to shower U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with lavish vacations and other undisclosed gifts. Since Thomas provided a deciding vote in the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, Harlan Crow family's ability to influence federal elections has increased by a factor of almost nine, according to an Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) analysis of campaign finance data.

      • ATF argues that "the Crows' influence-buying and political spending are emblematic of a larger problem: the ongoing attempt by billionaires to purchase our democracy." In a report published last summer ("Billionaires Buying Elections", 2022-07-13), Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) documented how "billionaires are increasingly using their personal fortunes and the profits of connected corporations to drown out regular voters' voices and elect hand-picked candidates who further rig the nation's economy - especially the tax system." Not counting dark money contributions, billionaires dumped $1.2 billion into the 2020 elections, 65 times more than the $16 million they donated in 2008, the report found.

      [toggle] Billionaire Harlan Crow Also Bankrolled GOP Lawmakers Blocking SCOTUS Ethics Reform

      • (CommonDreams.org, 2023-05-09) Billionaire Harlan Crow Also Bankrolled GOP Lawmakers Blocking SCOTUS Ethics Reform. A new analysis shows Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have received more than $450,000 from the same GOP megadonor (Harlan Crow) who has lavished U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with undisclosed gifts.

[toggle] Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Amy Coney Barrett - nominated by President Donald Trump - served in SCOTUS since 2020-10-27. Deeply religious, Barrett supports an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution - a theory of constitutional interpretation that asserts that all statements in the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding "at the time it was adopted".

• Barrett - with other SCOTUS Justices - is also a current officeholder of the powerful Federalist Society, an American conservative and libertarian legal organization that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, that aligns with conservative views on abortion and LGBT rights that is increasingly influencing legal briefs and Supreme Court dissents.

Leonard Leo - co-Chairman of the Federalist Society - played a key role during the Trump years, helping select Trump's judicial nominees including SCOTUS Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.

• Barrett's confirmation to SCOTUS was vehemently opposed by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) - who used his time to present a thorough overview of dark money influence on politics. Despite those and other concerns - e.g. regarding Barrett's religious convictions viz-a-viz LGBT rights and abortion (Roe v. Wade) - Barrett was confirmed by the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress.

• It is well-known - even before her confirmation - that Barrett opposes abortion. Thus it was no surprise that Barrett sided with the conservative majority on SCOTUS to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022-06.

What people want

• Fair and honest elections

• Open and good governance

• Societal rights and freedoms - including unfettered access to healthcare

• ... and more are all broadly popular.

• As an example, despite the plethora of attacks on LGBTQ rights in U.S. State legislatures, there is broad support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

    [toggle] Popular support for LGBTQIA+ rights in the U.S.

    • According to the Public Religion Research Institute, in 2022 68% of Americans supported same-sex marriage (49% of Republicans; 83% of Democrats) - compared to 54% of Americans, 35% of Republicans, and 65% of Democrats in 2014.

      [toggle] More Acceptance but Growing Polarization on LGBTQ Rights

      More Acceptance but Growing Polarization on LGBTQ Rights: Findings From the 2022 American Values Atlas.  |  pdf  |  local copy

        • Eight in ten Americans (80%) favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This includes 48% who strongly support such laws. About one in five Americans (18%) oppose these laws, including 7% who strongly oppose them. Support for these protections has increased over the past few years: around seven in ten Americans favored nondiscrimination provisions in 2015 (71%), 2017 (70%), 2018 (69%), and 2019 (72%), before rising to 76% in 2020 and 79% in 2021.

        • Overwhelming shares of Democrats (90%) and independents (82%), as well as two-thirds of Republicans (66%), favor nondiscrimination provisions for LGBTQ people. Since 2015, support has increased by 12 percentage points among Democrats (78% to 90%) and nine percentage points among independents (73% to 82%). Support among Republicans has increased by five percentage points (61% to 66%).

      [toggle] Overwhelming majority of straight Americans back LGBTQ+ rights, new GLAAD survey finds

      • (19th News, 2023-06-01) Overwhelming majority of straight Americans back LGBTQ+ rights, new GLAAD survey finds. An estimated 91 percent of respondents in the annual "Accelerating Acceptance" report said LGBTQ+ people should live free of discrimination.

        • Nine out of 10 heterosexual Americans (91 percent of 2,533 people who self-identified as non-LGBTQ+, ages 18+, surveyed 2023-02) think that LGBTQ+ people should live without facing discrimination, according to a newly released survey from GLAAD, the United States' largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy group.

        • The Accelerating Acceptance 2023 report (pdf  |  local copy), which GLAAD released 2023-06-01, is the latest in a series of polls that suggest that the Republican political strategy of targeting LGBTQ+ Americans may be a losing game with the majority of voters.

        • Republican lawmakers have filed a barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the last three years, with most of the measures aimed at transgender youth. The Equality Federation, a coalition of statewide LGBTQ+ organizations, reports that lawmakers have introduced more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills into state legislatures in the past year alone. A record number of those bills have passed. Eighteen states now ban the recommended medical care for transgender youth, and 21 states bar trans kids from competing in sports that align with their gender.

        • While those bills might be soaring through Republican-dominated statehouses, polling suggests that the country has continued to embrace LGBTQ+ people. That translates to backing policy for them, GLAAD says. In 2021, 79 percent of Accelerating Acceptance respondents backed LGBTQ+ equal rights. That number jumped to 84 percent in 2023, a number just shy of the 91 percent who said they felt queer people should not be discriminated against.

What people want
ppri-american_values_atlas-lgbtq-nondiscrimination_by_state-2022.png
Source: More acceptance but growing polarization on LGBTQ rights.  Findings From the 2022 American Values Atlas.
What people are getting

• Conservative and right-wing groups - spearheaded by the Christian right - have corrupted the judicial, legislative and electoral processes through lobbying, gerrymandering, and election denial to seize control of grassroots, state and federal governments and institutions.

[toggle] As an exemplar, trans rights are being eviscerated across the U.S.

• In the first third of this year (2023) >300 anti-trans bills and measures have been introduced into state legislatures (>500 anti-trans bills for the first half of 2023). More than 50 anti-trans bills have been introduced in the Texas state legislature this session (2023) - including Texas Senate Bill 14 of 2023 - breaking a record.

    • In 2023-05 the Republican-controlled Louisiana House of Representatives passed Louisiana House Bill 648 of 2023 (advancing to the Louisiana Senate, where it's also expected to pass) banning physicians from providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Louisiana HB648 goes beyond what other states have done by requiring youth who have already received gender-affirming treatments to "systematically" reduce their hormone levels - forcibly medically detransitioning them.

Florida Senate Bill 254, introduced into the Florida State Legislature in 2023, would allow the state to take temporary custody of children if the state believes that a child has been, may be, or may in the future be experiencing gender-affirming care. In addition, minors visiting Florida would be subject to the law, if it passes. In addition, health care providers would be required to say they do not provide gender-affirming treatment to minors; if they do not provide this statement, they could lose their license. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis   signed the bill into law on 2023-05-17.

[toggle] ... Causing trans residents to flee their home states

• (Advocate.com, 2023-05-27) Trans Residents Turn to GoFundMe to Flee Florida. Many queer people, especially those in the trans community, feel threatened and unsafe. "In the wake of more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the United States in 2023, families and trans individuals are looking to leave their respective state as they could face more obstacles when it comes to accessing essential services related to healthcare as well as education," Brian Hill, a communications associate at GoFundMe, announced in a release.

• (Truthout.org, 2023-06-04) Fleeing Home Due to Anti-LGBTQ Hostility Is Heartbreaking. I Know Because I Did.. I share in the grief, determination and hope of all the LGBTQ+ people fleeing their homes due to legislative attacks.

Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. state legislatures

• In the last few years U.S. states have advanced a record number of bills that attack LGBTQ rights, especially transgender youth. The ACLU is tracking these attacks and working with our national network of affiliates to support LGBTQ people everywhere. ...

• LGBTQ people have a right to live in safety, to thrive, and to be treated with dignity.

Tracking LGBTQ Rights in U.S. state legislatures

• ACLU: Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures (see previous slide).

• Equality Federation: State Legislation Tracker.

2023 anti-trans bills tracker

In 2023, anti-trans bills continue to be introduced across the country. TransLegislation.com tracks legislation that seeks to block trans people from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to publicly exist.

LGBTQ+ legislative tracking
[toggle] [Erin Reed] LGBTQ+ Legislative Tracking

• (Truthout.org, 2023-06-02) More Than 530 Anti-LGBTQ Bills Have Been Proposed Across the United States in 2023.

• A LGBTQ+ Legislative Tracker managed by Erin Reed is a transgender journalist and activist, who provides daily updates on LGBTQ-focused legislation (both negative and positive bills). Reed found that more than 530 anti-LGBTQ bills have been drafted and proposed in state legislatures and in U.S. Congress between 2023-01-01 and 2023-05-31. 68 of those bills have been enacted into law - with 122 failing, so far. The rest of the bills are either in legislative limbo or still being considered.

    • (Erin Reed, 2023-05-20) May 2023 Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map. The map of anti-trans risk has polarized into two Americas - one where trans people have full legal protections, and one where they are persecuted by the state.

• Separate groups have provided different counts that, while not exactly the same number as the aforementioned tracker, have the same findings - that hundreds of bills across the United States are targeting LGBTQ people, particularly transgender individuals. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has tracked 491 anti-LGBTQ bills in statehouses across the United States (their count does not include federal legislation).

• The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has counted 520 bills introduced this year (2023), a number they say is a record high for the amount of anti-LGBTQ bills proposed by this date (2023-06-02) in any year. "This weaponization of public policy has been driven by extremist groups that have a long history in working to oppress the existence and rights of LGBTQ+ people," HRC says on its tracker, citing far right groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council as pushers of such proposals.

• Many of the bills that are out there, particularly the proposals targeting transgender people, ignore scientific consensus on gender and contradict the advice of all major U.S. medical associations. Close to 150 bills, for example, seek to ban gender-affirming care for trans people, mostly for children but some also for adults, even though mainstream medical groups recognize that such care is life-saving treatment.

How state lawmakers target LGBTQ rights
[toggle] Healthcare

• These bills target access to medically-necessary health care, like Medicaid, for transgender people. Many of these bills ban affirming care for trans youth, and can create criminal penalties for providing this care. These bills exempt identical treatments offered to cisgender youth or are forced onto intersex youth. Other bills block funding to medical centers that offer gender-affirming care, or block insurance coverage of health care for transgender people.

• Learn more: Gender-Affirming Care Gave My Daughter a Future. Lawmakers Want to Take It Away.

[toggle] Accurate IDs

• These bills attempt to limit the ability to update gender information on IDs and records, such as birth certificates and driver's licenses. This puts transgender people at risk of losing jobs, facing harassment, and other harms. Trans, intersex, and nonbinary people need IDs that accurately reflect who they are to travel, apply for jobs, and enter public establishments without risk of harassment or harm.

• Learn more: Transgender People and Identity Documents

[toggle] Public Accommodations

Public accommodations bills seek to prohibit transgender people from using facilities like public bathrooms and locker rooms. Everyone should have access to these spaces, no matter their gender identity or gender expression. If you can't use the restroom, you can't fully participate in work, school, and public life.

• Learn more:

[toggle] Civil Rights

These bills attempt to undermine and weaken nondiscrimination laws by allowing employers, businesses, and even hospitals to turn away LGBTQ people or refuse them equal treatment.

• Learn more: Using Religion to Discriminate

[toggle] Schools & Education

State lawmakers are trying to prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports, force teachers to out students, and censor any in-school discussions of LGBTQ people and issues. Instead of limiting resources, education, and opportunities, our schools should protect and support all students to learn and thrive.

• Learn more: Know Your Rights: LGBTQ Students

[toggle] Free Speech & Expression

Despite the safeguards of the First Amendment's right to free expression, politicians are fighting to restrict how and when LGBTQ people can be themselves, limiting access to books about them and trying to ban or censor performances like drag shows.

• Learn more: The Dangers of Drag Censorship w/ Peppermint

[toggle] Other Anti-LGBTQ Bills

These bills don't quite fit in any of the other categories, but nonetheless target the rights of LGBTQ people. Examples include bans on marriage and bills preempting local nondiscrimination protections.

• Learn more: LGBTQ Rights

• Source (ACLU, 2023-05-23): Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures

Aims and consequences of anti-trans legislation ...

Paralleling the evolution of Nazi Germany is the radicalization and polarization Republican Party of the United States (and to a lesser degree, currently, conservative parties in Canada).

[toggle] A recent by a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation - is germane to this discussion.

• (Brynn Tannehill, NewRepublic.com, 2023-04-24) The End of Trans America Comes Into Focus.  The laws proposed around the country by Republicans would make life for transgender people functionally impossible. The danger is in being under-wrought, not overwrought.  |  Eureka! ontology entry

    • Republicans have made it clear that their number one legislative and cultural priority is the "eradication of transgenderism from public life," as was stated by Daily Wire host Michael Knowles at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year.

    • More anti-transgender bills have been filed this year than in the past four years combined, and by the time the year is finished even more will have passed into law. These laws are designed to make life for transgender people functionally impossible: to make it impossible to go to school, to get medical care, to get accurate government IDs, to be protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, to go out in public without violating laws against drag, to participate in sports - banning them from the military, banning them from all types of media, and even making it illegal to use a public bathroom. The laws go so far as to write the existence of transgender people out of law - to effectively unperson them as a class.

    • ... The Christian fundamentalists behind this push to purge transgender people frequently use an analogy about dog poop in brownies to describe why even the slightest contamination with LGBTQ ideas is unacceptable to God. ...

    • When fascist governments decide that they have hit the point of diminishing returns with efforts to drive out the undesirables, they move on to a final solution, whatever it may be. The GOP has already introduced laws and policies across half the country that could accomplish most of what German laws did between 1933 and 1939. Most have not passed yet, but it appears only a matter of time before they do. The number being introduced and passing is accelerating, as are their scope and severity. Whereas bathroom bans and eliminating health care for adults was almost unthinkable mere months ago, we're now seeing it pop up across red states. Other previously unthinkable things, like Russian-style anti-LGBTQ propaganda laws, book bannings, and threats against internet service providers, are ubiquitous.

    • ... there are indications that preparations might already be in progress for mass actions against transgender people as a class. Texas and Florida have been drawing up secret lists of known transgender individuals, and state officials refuse to answer what purpose these lists might serve. Missouri, after effectively banning health care for all trans people in the state, set up a government web page "where people can report trans individuals and the people who help them," but did not specify what it intends to use this information for. Florida politicians are laying the rhetorical groundwork to make involuntary institutionalization of trans people seem like an act of mercy and compassion ...

[toggle] Anti-Trans Legislation Is Becoming a National Security Issue

• (theNation.com, 2023-05-23) Anti-Trans Legislation Is Becoming a National Security Issue.  Bans on gender-affirming care are forcing some military families to seek compassionate reassignment.

• In the first four months of 2023 alone, there have been more than 469 anti-LGBTQ+ laws introduced in state legislatures across the United States, according to the ACLU. These bills are wide-ranging, from bans on books that feature gay penguins to censorship of drag performances in public spaces. However, trans and nonbinary youth have been particularly targeted by legislation. Republicans have zeroed in on children, establishing a legal and political context through which to later pass bans on gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary adults.

• ... Given the extensive nature of these bans and a lack of clear guidance, Morello, Elezaer, and others say the military is experiencing a readiness crisis. If families continue to refuse assignments in certain states - chief among them Florida and Texas - these bases will not be sufficiently prepared for future deployments. This comes at an already fraught time for service members.

• According to the Pentagon's own data, 24 percent of military families are food insecure because of rapid inflation. More frequent deployments and long-term separations from families have led to the highest rates of PTSD during any war, including World War II. And with an ongoing war in Ukraine and escalating tensions with China over the sovereignty of Taiwan, national defense is at the top of every American leader's mind.

[toggle] Suppression of Indigenous expression
    [toggle] Montreal Pride makes space for Two-Spirit representation amid influx of online hate

    • (APTNnews.ca, 2019-08-20) Montreal Pride makes space for Two-Spirit representation amid influx of online hate

      • Ma-Nee Chacaby's grandmother could tell that her young granddaughter was different long before Chacaby herself came to the same realization. "I was a Two-Spirit child, which means I had two spirits in my body, mind and soul," she explained. "She said they've existed way back seven generations - when she was four years old, she was told people existed like that."

      • Traditionally, Chacaby says these people - known by other names prior to the introduction of the term 'Two-Spirit' in 2010 - were revered in First Nations communities; seen as those who walk with the Great Spirit, and often called upon to lead ceremony.

      • While delivering a panel discussion with Chacaby, John Sylliboy - hailing from the Eskasoni Mi'kmaw Nation - presented crucial facets of his research into what 'Two-Spirit' means within Indigenous cultural identity and language, as well as how those elements are impacted by life in urban settings like Montreal.

      • "Elders are saying 'we need to learn this and re-learn a lot of it so we have words, vocabulary, terms and phrases that young people could use to self-identify for their own well-being,'" Sylliboy explained.

      • "In Quebec it's a process by which a lot of people are stuck between identity of language and identity of culture - but a lot of that excludes indigenous culture. A lot of that excludes indigenous identity or even Two-Spirit identity," he added.

    [toggle] New Anti-Trans Laws Will Hurt Indigenous Peoples' Rights And Religious Expression

    • (TalkingPointsMemo.com, 2023-06-03) New Anti-Trans Laws Will Hurt Indigenous Peoples' Rights And Religious Expression.

      • Montana's Republican Governor Greg Gianforte became the latest to sign several new anti-transgender laws. Montana's recent legislative session passed several anti-transgender laws, including one that allows health care providers to refuse patients based on conscience, prohibits drag story hours and defines biological sex as only male or female, in addition to preventing gender-affirming medical care for minors.

      • By ignoring the long Indigenous histories of integrating multiple gender identities consecrated by the divine, legislatures are bound to cause both individual suffering and the diminishing of Indigenous peoples' rights to practice their own religions. One thing these new laws do not take into account is that the 12 federally recognized tribes in Montana have historically recognized multiple gender identities, including transgender identities.

      • Montana state Representative Donavon Hawk - a Democrat from Butte who is Crow and Lakota - said: "It surprises me that this country is only a couple hundred years old, and we are not able to function with LGBTQ people in our communities." The Blackfeet acknowledged and accepted individual gender expression and identity because it was granted by the divine. Personal gender identity was rarely questioned, because it was tantamount to questioning the divine.

      • In many Indigenous communities, as the Indian Health Service notes, Two-Spirit identity is believed to come from the divine in visions or dreams and Two-Spirit people often "filled special religious roles as healers, shamans and ceremonial leaders." Even though the term "Two-Spirit" does not encompass the wide variety of gender identities across Indigenous communities, many people embrace its use as a way to revitalize Indigenous traditions.  |  A film on Kapaemahu, dual male and female spirit (YouTube, 2021, 8:51).

      • Sadly, transphobia does exist within contemporary Native American communities. And anti-transgender violence is part of the life experience of Two-Spirit people. Some scholars argue this is because of the long history of colonialism and cultural genocide that forced the Western-defined gender binary and patriarchy on Indigenous communities.  |  Wikipedia: Genocide of indigenous peoples

      • Investigative journalist Nora Mabie wrote in an article in 2023-05 that Indigenous peoples and Native American tribes were being left out of this decision-making process as a result of racism, discrimination and partisanship in the Montana Legislature.

      • By ignoring the long Indigenous histories of integrating multiple gender identities consecrated by the divine, legislatures are bound to cause both individual suffering and the diminishing of Indigenous peoples' rights to practice their own religions.

    [toggle] Montana House Bill 359 of 2023

    Montana House Bill 359 of 2023, "Prohibit minors from attending drag shows", sponsored by Braxton Mitchell (R-MT) and signed into law 2023-05-23 by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT) prohibits drag story hour in schools and libraries that receive public funding ...

      • (MotherJones, 2023-06-07) Here Is All the Evidence You Needed That Drag Bans Are About Erasing Trans Existence. A library in Montana cancels an event with a trans speaker, citing drag bans.

      • On 2023-06-01 Butte, Montana became the first documented place to legally cancel an event because the speaker is trans. As NBC Montana reported (2023-06-01, https://nbcmontana.com/news/local/butte-library-cancels-transgender-speaker-event), a lawyer with Butte-Silver Bow County informed the local library that its LGBTQ history event with transgender speaker Adria Jawort would not be taking place. The reason given? Montana House Bill 359 of 2023, which limits public displays of drag. After the cancellation,

      • The law (Montana House Bill 359 of 2023) was supposedly intended to prohibit the popular Drag Queen Story Hour events and to protect minors from "obscene" or "sexually oriented" performances. Montana House Bill 359 of 2023 also bans "sexually oriented or obscene performances on public property," like libraries, and defines both "drag king" and "drag queen" as "a male or female performer who adopts a flamboyant or parodic male (or female) persona with glamorous or exaggerated costumes and makeup." The ban (Montana House Bill 359 of 2023) includes a private right of action clause that allows minors and guardians to sue performers and those associated.

      Montana House Bill 359 of 2023 - which is similar to anti-drag laws passed in 6 other states - has been criticized for its language that is broad enough to ban flamboyant cisgender performers in addition to LGBTQ ones.

      • The canceling of Adria Jawort's talk is case in point. Adria Jawort - a two-spirit member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and the political director of the group Indigenous Vote - was slated to talk about the history of queer identity in Native communities. Adria Jawort is not a performer of any kind. But she is a self-described "flamboyantly dressed trans woman." Adria Jawort's situation - a trans woman, trying to give an educational speech in a library - demonstrates that what actually motivates these laws is not shielding minors from sexually explicit content. Instead, drag bans are about silencing queer culture and restricting trans existence, working toward the larger goal of removing trans people and culture from public spaces.

Trans rights intersect women's rights

Attacks on transgender rights and women's rights are being cotargeted by the same groups using the same tactics.

[toggle] Pride Month Begins, as Attacks on LGBTQ+ Rights and Women's Rights Escalate

• (MsMagazine.com, 2023-06-02) Pride Month Begins, as Attacks on LGBTQ+ Rights and Women's Rights Escalate. The anti-abortion playbook that uses violence and threats as a crucial tool has been co-opted by other movements - including anti-trans extremists.

    • Wednesday (2023-05-31) marked 14 years since Dr. George Tiller was assassinated by an anti-abortion extremist. George Tiller was a staunch advocate for abortion rights, calling himself a "woman-educated physician," and encouraging everyone to "trust women." George Tiller's commitment to women's health was unshakable in the face of anti-abortion violence and threats.

    • The anti-abortion playbook that uses violence and threats as a crucial tool has been co-opted by other movements - including anti-trans extremists, who as Jude Doyle   reported for Ms. (magazine) last year (2022), are employing many of the same tactics as anti-abortion extremists.

    • From targeting specific doctors, to bombarding clinics with phone calls and protests, these groups incite violence against clinicians who are providing care that is widely regarded as best practice by all major medical associations. And Jude Doyle pointed out, both movements rely heavily on rhetoric of doctors "harming children."

    • The overlap between these movements doesn't end here - when it comes to both anti-trans legislation (which is at an all-time high, with hundreds of state-level bills being introduced each year) and anti-abortion legislation, far-right groups like The Heritage Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom are behind both movements.

    • As Pride month begins this week, we're intimately aware that we're in the midst of an unprecedented backlash against both LGBTQ+ rights and women's rights - and that these backlashes are deeply interconnected. But advocates are fighting back - whether in the streets or the courthouse or statehouses or through the power of investigative journalism, we don't give up.

[toggle] GOP Anti-Trans Agenda Is a Distraction from War on Women

• (Occupy.com, 2023-06-09) GOP Anti-Trans Agenda Is a Shiny Object to Distract from War on Women

    • The Republican Party's outright hatred of the transgender population is at a boiling point. As of this writing, 543 bills limiting the rights of transgender Americans have been introduced in 49 states, with 70 of those bills passing in 14 state legislatures. An additional 17 states have anti-trans bills pending, as legislative sessions in those states are ongoing.

    • This is an obviously disproportionate number of bills targeting one group of people, given that a 2022 study by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles estimated there were just 1.6 million Americans who identified as transgender - approximately 0.5 percent of the US population.

    • According to proponents of these bills, the argument in favor of curtailing transgender Americans' rights varies from "protecting women's sports" to unfounded fears about "groomers" and sexual predators supposedly masquerading as drag queens. However, according to attorney Krista Prata Browde of Browde Law, no drag queens have been arrested for sex crimes against minors, at least so far this year.

    • Women voters' support for legal abortion presents a problem for the Republican Party's continued political survival, given that it has historically taken an anti-abortion stance for decades. The GOP's doubling down on anti-trans politics could be for a different purpose altogether: gaining back the support of women voters. The groups behind the push include the Alliance Defending Freedom (effectively the religious right's version of the ACLU) and the Charles Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, among others.

    • Despite their anti-trans arguments being repeatedly debunked by scientists, Republicans are winning the culture war and are poised to win further electoral victories by spreading vitriol against the transgender community. They're counting on the media to continue their false assumption that the GOP's anti-trans campaign is being conducted in good faith, in order to win back enough women voters to be electorally competitive in 2024 and beyond.

    • It is incumbent on journalists, columnists, and pundits everywhere to thoroughly educate themselves on gender identity issues and the ins and outs of the endocrine system to recognize Republicans' war on the trans community for what it is: Smoke and mirrors for the sake of bullying a vulnerable population to score cheap political points.

[toggle] Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023

• With Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023 - due to come in effect in 2023-10 - Republican lawmakers in the Nebraska unicameral legislature have redrafted a failed anti-abortion bill, adding anti-trans healthcare legislation - circumventing review of the latter provision.

    [toggle] Abortion-restriction effort reintroduced in Nebraska

    • (APNews.com/2023-05-08) Abortion-restriction effort reintroduced in Nebraska.

      • A new effort was introduced late Monday(2023-05-08) in the Nebraska Legislature to restrict abortion access in the state, less than two weeks after a bill that would have banned abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy failed to overcome a filibuster.

      • The new plan to ban abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy drew fervent protests from opponents who had been assured by Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, Senator John Arch, that the abortion proposal was dead for the session.

      • Drawing even more outrage was the way the measure was introduced: as an amendment to a bill that would ban gender-affirming hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery for minors - the most controversial bill of the session that has led at least two Nebraska lawmakers to filibuster every bill before the body this year (2023).

      • Opponents of both abortion restrictions and the trans bill said the latest effort by conservative lawmakers that combines both subverts legislative rules that require two combined measures to be related and that call for any proposal that imposes a criminal element to first go through the Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee.

      • Adding the abortion ban as an amendment to the trans bill also means it gets to skip ahead in the legislative process. Instead of going through three rounds of debate that every bill must survive to pass, it would be subjected only to a final two-hour round of debate, critics said.

      • Liberal lawmakers in the officially nonpartisan body also complained that a promise last month (2023-04) by John Arch and the author of the trans bill - freshman Senator Kathleen Kauth - to reach a compromise with opponents on her bill before it was scheduled for a final round of debate never came to fruition. Instead, conservative lawmakers decided among themselves to make exceptions for minors already receiving gender-affirming care and call it a compromise, opponents said.

    [toggle] ACLU sues over Nebraska law that combines restrictions on gender-affirming care and abortion

    • (19thNews.org, 2023-05-31) ACLU sues over Nebraska law that combines restrictions on gender-affirming care and abortion. Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023 (effective October 2023, but immediately allowing a 12-week abortion ban) sets limits on gender-affirming care for youth.

      • When a six-week abortion ban failed to pass in Nebraska, Nebraska Republicans added a 12-week ban into a measure on gender-affirming care. But a new lawsuit argues that such legislation violates the Nebraska state constitution by combining "two distinct and unrelated subjects" into one bill (Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023).

      Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023 - originally focused on restrictions for gender-affirming care for transgender youth - was amended to include a 12-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape and incest. That abortion ban went into effect immediately upon Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023's signing, while limits on gender-affirming care for youth under 19 years old are set to go into effect in 2023-10.

      • The national ACLU and the ACLU of Nebraska are suing to block enforcement of Nebraska's law. Their lawsuit lists two plaintiffs: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and Sarah Traxler - an obstetrician and gynecologist, who provides reproductive services to Planned Parenthood patients.

      • Within the lawsuit, the ACLU lays out a timeline of how the bills came to be combined: a Nebraska bill to ban abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy stalled. Meanwhile, a bill to restrict gender-affirming care continued to advance in the Nebraska legislature. The gender-affirming care bill was amended with language that resembled the previous abortion ban "in nearly every respect, except it banned abortion at 12 weeks," the lawsuit says - requiring lawmakers to either vote for or against both proposals simultaneously.

      • "In my time here, I don't think we've seen a bill (Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023) like this," said Jane Seu - legal and policy counsel, who has been with the ACLU of Nebraska for two years. To combine these issues "in one bill (Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023) in order to gain passage on both issues is an unconstitutional maneuver," Jane Seu said Tuesday (2023-05-30).

      • Fights for abortion access and gender-affirming care are seen by many advocates of those procedures as inherently linked campaigns for bodily autonomy. In the fight over Nebraska's new law (Nebraska Legislative Bill 574 of 2023), those viewpoints are reversed - as proponents of the law argue that banning abortion and targeting gender-affirming care both serve to protect children.

[toggle] Promotion and enforcement of stereotyped gender roles

• Paralleling attacks on trans persons are attacks on women's rights, including enforcement of stereotyped gender roles, and erosion of unfettered access to contraception, abortion, ....

• Legislatures are tentatively codifying or enforcing binary M/F gender norms in schools and even workplaces: in 2023-04, the Texas Department of Agriculture released a new dress code requiring its employees to dress in a manner consistent with their biological gender.

    [toggle] Frontline's "Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court" is illustrative of stereotyped gender roles and politics.

    • (Frontline, 2023-05-09) Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court. From the transcript:

      PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: I would like to thank my husband, Fred, for letting me come today. I love to say that because it irritates the women's libbers more than anything that I say.

      JANE MAYER: Phyllis Stewart Schlafly was a colorful, dynamic, anti-feminist, right-wing reactionary.

      NARRATOR: As Ginni Lamp was growing up, Phyllis Schlafly was a role model. Her mother, Marjorie, was a prominent member of Schlafly's group [Eagle Forum].

      PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: The American women do not want ERA. They do not want abortion. They do not want lesbian privileges. And they do not want universal child care in the hands of the government.

      LAURA BLUMENFELD, The Washington Post, 1991-2012: What she saw in Phyllis Schlafly and her mom was "no excuses." You don't need affirmative action. You don't need women's kind of special accommodations. You make your own fate, you create your own path and you lean in. It doesn't have to be the liberal way. You can also do it the Republican way.

      NARRATOR: They were waging a battle against the ERA, Equal Rights Amendment.

      JANE MAYER: This one woman, Schlafly, pretty much single-handedly stopped a whole movement and killed the Equal Rights Amendment. It really was an example of what you could do as a conservative woman leading a crusade.

      PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY: And we can build this into a mighty movement that can set America on the right path. Then conquer we must, for our cause, it is just, and this be our motto: In God is our trust.

      JANE MAYER: Ginni's inspired. She wants to go into politics. She wants to go to law school. She wants to be like this and like her mom.

Leading anti-trans groups
Voter suppression and election denial

• Strategies involved in the corruption of the electoral process in the U.S. (and to a lesser but growing extent in Canada) include voter suppression, voter manipulation, electoral fraud, and election denial.

• Tactics deployed to corrupt and destroy the electoral process (like most far-right tactics, tailored to the issue du jour) variously include misinformation,   disinformation, divide and conquer (wedge strategies) and noise (culture wars) - carried out by well-funded, organized and rehearsed political operatives.

Voter suppression and election denial
ApproachTactic
Voter suppression gerrymandering
• voting restrictions: voter registration; voter ID (drivers license; other identification);
criminal history ineligibility; inconvenient voting place, date and time;
required in-person voting; denial of mail-in ballots; ...
Voter manipulation • divide and conquer: culture wars; identity politics; wedge strategies
• noise: conspiracy theories; culture wars; misinformation; disinformation
Electoral fraud • harassment: overwhelming state officials with demands for attention
(questioning in minute detail standards and procedures);
physical intimidation (election scrutineering by far-right groups)
• availability, manipulation, and security of voting boxes, paper ballots, ballot counts
Election denial conspiracy theories
disinformation of voting date, time, place
• erosion of trust: electronic voting machines (conspiracies);
erosion of anti-fraud mechanisms (cross-referenced voter lists: ERIC)
• corrupt state secretaries of state (certification of election results)
Voter suppression and election denial (cont'd)
[toggle] Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)

• The following article shows how easily a few individuals (Republican secretaries of state), a political operative (Cleta Mitchell, and notably one fake news website (The Gateway Pundit) attacked a tried-and-true voter verification tool - the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

• The approaches to destroy the credibility of ERIC - like most far-right tactics - are pages from the same play book: misinformation / disinformation, divide and conquer (wedge strategies), and noise (culture wars) - deployed by well-funded, trained, and practiced political operatives.

    [toggle] How the far right tore apart one of the best tools to fight voter fraud

      • (NPR.org, 2023-06-04) How the far right tore apart one of the best tools to fight voter fraud is a long but invaluable read, an superb piece of investigative reporting by NPR correspondent Miles Parks.

      • On a night in January 2022-01 Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin stepped on stage in a former airbase in Houma, Louisiana. Kyle Ardoin was making an announcement: Louisiana would become the first state ever to pull out of an obscure bipartisan voting partnership known as the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

      • It was the first of many times to come in which Republican officials would turn their back on this tool (ERIC) they once praised, in an effort to score political points with their base. Eight states and counting have now pulled out of ERIC, revealing a policy blueprint for an election denial movement, spearheaded by a key Donald Trump ally (Cleta Mitchell), eager to change virtually every aspect of how Americans vote. ...

      • ERIC is currently the only system that can catch if someone votes in more than one state, which is illegal. Election officials widely agree it helps to identify dead people on voting lists. ...

      • In 2022-01 ERIC drew the ire of one of the most prolific misinformation peddlers on the internet: a right-wing website called The Gateway Pundit. The Gateway Pundit is known for pushing conspiracy theories, including the so-called birther theory about former President Barack Obama, and that survivors of the Parkland high school shooting in Florida were crisis actors.

      • More recently, The Gateway Pundit published an article implying COVID-19 vaccines were 98 times worse for people than the virus itself. About a week before Louisiana's Kyle Ardoin made his reference to "media reports," The Gateway Pundit began targeting ERIC. The Gateway Pundit website published a series of articles that falsely said ERIC was a "left wing voter registration drive," bankrolled by billionaire George Soros, aimed at helping Democrats win elections.

      • It's become clear The Gateway Pundit ignited the election denial movement's fixation on ERIC. NPR analyzed hundreds of thousands of posts on five alternative social media sites frequented by the far right - Gettr, Gab, Parler, Telegram and Donald Trump's Truth Social - and found that conversation about ERIC really only began after the first Gateway Pundit article was published.

      • The Gateway Pundit's initial article drew extensively on the writing and interviews of conservative voting attorney J. Christian Adams. In late 2021 Adams appeared on a conservative radio program and called ERIC "diabolical." Adams' voting advocacy law firm has sued a number of states for records related to ERIC. In 2016 Adams wrote what's believed to be the first article alleging a connection between George Soros and ERIC.

    [toggle] American Oversight Sues Ohio and Louisiana Secretaries of State for Records Related to ERIC Withdrawals

    • (AmericanOversight.org, 2023-06-15) American Oversight Sues Ohio and Louisiana Secretaries of State for Records Related to ERIC Withdrawals

      • On Thursday (2023-06-15) American Oversight sued Louisiana Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin and Ohio Secretary Frank LaRose for the release of records that could shed light on their states' withdrawals from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) as well as other records relating to voting rights and access.

      • Over the past year far-right activists and so-called "election integrity" groups have elevated conspiracy theories about ERIC, leading to several states withdrawing from a system that had been widely praised - including by conservative leaders - just months before.

      • The backlash to ERIC has been embraced by those at the forefront of the election denial movement, including conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell, who have focused on baseless concerns about data privacy and conspiracy theories about left-wing funding sources.

      • The steady abandonment of ERIC is an alarming new tactic in the election denial playbook. In an attempt to score political points, Republican state election leaders are caving to disinformation and in the process weakening systems that support election security and U.S. democracy. You can find more information about American Oversight's investigation into the push for states to leave ERIC here.

      • Today (2023-06-15)'s filings can be found here and here.

[toggle] Top-down approaches

• Top-down (federal → state) approaches include:

[toggle] Bottom-up approaches

• Bottom-up (municipal → state → federal) approaches include:

    • Bottom-up approaches are largely grassroots populist-led movements by groups such as Moms for Liberty, that (e.g.) are seizing control of boards of education (school boards). This approach is exemplified by Michael Flynn's efforts in Sarasota County, Florida (with the assistance of the Proud Boys). Flynn's America Project is a larger piece of this strategy (e.g. gathering intelligence on electronic voting machines, for voting machine conspiracy theories / challenges).

      [toggle] State preemption
        [toggle] State preemption

        • In U.S. law, state preemption is the invalidation of some action by, or the wresting of power from, a portion of the state government (more often than not a municipality or other part of the state government that only exercises power within a certain geographical area such as a county) usually by the state legislature.

        • Preemption is often used when there is a political disagreement between the state legislature and municipal governments. The largest division between the legislature and the local governments is typically partisan; most state legislatures have been, since 2010, dominated by Republicans, while city governments are typically dominated by Democrats.

        [toggle] Republicans Are Systematically Blocking Cities' Ability to Protect Abortion

        • (2023-06-20, NewRepublic.com) Republicans Are Systematically Blocking Cities' Ability to Protect Abortion. One year after the Supreme Court killed the constitutional right to abortion, state preemption laws are on the rise.

          • One of Republicans' newest tricks, however, goes beyond just banning abortion at the state level. Rather, in the year since Dobbs, Republican-controlled state legislatures have been busy preempting localities from using their own authority to protect people seeking abortion care.

          • Preemption is a legal doctrine that allows a higher level of government, like a state legislature, to curtail the authority of a lower level of government, like a city council, to act on a particular issue. In an alarming trend, Republican-led state legislatures have increasingly used preemption to prohibit local governments from enacting progressive policies. These measures affect not just abortion but also policies like raising minimum wages, requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, banning plastic bags, implementing environmental standards, and protecting civil rights.

          • This year alone (2023), the Local Solutions Support Center has identified over 650 abusive preemption bills moving in state legislatures. The most recent example is in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott last week signed into law a piece of legislation nicknamed the "Death Star" bill (below), for the dramatic lengths it goes to overturn local officials' power.

          • These bills are often cut-and-paste legislation hawked by conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to advance their national agenda through the states. While ALEC and other right-wing bill mills have churned out regressive state bills (model acts) since the 1970s, this new preemption push is particularly abusive. Notably, some of these new state laws actually punish cities by imposing additional liability or withholding funds.

        [toggle] Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Bill Stripping Power From Local Officials

        • (NewRepublic.com, 2023-06-15) Texas Governor Signs "Death Star" Bill Stripping Power From Local Officials. Greg Abbott's move prevents local governments from passing needed regulations on things like labor rights, the environment, and more.

          • A new Texas law backed by Republicans, business lobbying interests, and Governor Greg Abbott strips power from local officials on regulating things like housing, worker protections, the environment, public health, and more. In other words, Texas Republicans are stopping cities from being able to govern themselves.

          Texas House Bill 2127 of 2023 - nicknamed the "Death Star" bill, bans a city or county from enacting laws that contradict anything in Texas state code in nine areas: agriculture, business and commerce, finance, insurance, labor, local government, natural resources, occupations, and property.

          • The law is so extreme that it not only prevents localities from passing their own laws, it actually overturns existing ones that may differ from state code.

      [toggle] Conservatives Are Now Trying To Create "Constitutional Counties"

      • (TalkingPointsMemo.com, 2023-06-19) Conservatives Are Now Trying To Create "Constitutional Counties," Which Happen To Be Unconstitutional

        • Declaring its community a "constitutional county" on 2023-05-23 the Board of County Commissioners in Ottawa County, Michigan, voted 9-1 not to enforce any law or rule that "restricts the rights of any law-abiding citizen affirmed by the United States Constitution." Nor will the county provide aid or resources to any state or federal agency that county officials judge to be infringing on or restricting those rights.

        • Ottawa County, Michigan is not the first county in Michigan to declare itself a refuge from what its leaders say are anti- or unconstitutional actions undertaken by an overzealous state or federal authority. Livingston County, also in Michigan, passed a similar resolution in 2023-04.

        • It is not clear how many there are, exactly, but there are also self-designated constitutional counties in Virginia, Texas, Nevada and New York. As a scholar of constitutional theory, I believe more will follow, especially in the roughly 1,100 counties of the nation's 3,200 counties that have already declared themselves Second Amendment ("the right to keep and bear arms") sanctuaries.

        • But where Second Amendment sanctuaries aim to create havens for gun rights allegedly under siege, the constitutional county movement has a broader agenda. One of the drafters of the Ottawa Resolution, for example, explained, "As we wrote this resolution ... we recognized the need to protect not only Second Amendment rights but all constitutional rights. ... We wish to highlight freedoms and constitutional rights which have been violated over the past few years, as well as those currently at risk due to societal and political pressures."

      [toggle] American Oversight Seeks Default Judgment Against Wake TSI in Pennsylvania Election Audit Records Case

      • (TalkingPointsMemo.com, 2023-06-14) American Oversight Seeks Default Judgment Against Wake TSI in Pennsylvania Election Audit Records Case.

        • Wake Technology Services Inc. is closely involved in attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election (election denial).

        • After the 2020 presidential election and in response to conspiracy theorists claiming it had been marred by fraud, Fulton County election officials agreed to have Wake TSI conduct a review of voting machines, mail-in ballots, and absentee ballots.

        • The review (2020-12 and 2021-02) had also been instigated by state Senator Doug Mastriano, who threatened the Fulton County with subpoenas unless they voluntarily participated in an audit of votes.

        • Wake TSI has been deeply involved in the election denial movement, and not just in Pennsylvania. The firm subcontracted with Cyber Ninjas in early 2021 to help conduct the Arizona Senate's sham "audit" of votes cast in Maricopa County, Arizona.

    • Grassroots operatives involve Mike Flynn (mentioned) and Cleta Mitchell (who, like Flynn, tried to assist Trump in overturning the 2020 presidential election); federal level operatives include Leonard Leo, ...

    • Key anti-democracy organizations include Cleta Mitchell's Election Integrity Network, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC; a promulgator of model acts), the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), and others. Cleta Mitchell is the Senior Legal Fellow at CPI, and chairs CPI's Election Integrity Network.

Christian right

Conservative and right-wing groups - spearheaded by the Christian right - are wreaking chaos across the United States at all levels from grassroots movements movements co-opting school boards, to U.S. federal judiciaries including the U.S. Supreme Court (Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett).

These documents provide an introductory overview.

    [toggle] Christian Nationalism Has Prevailed in Texas. Trans Teens Will Suffer

    • (NewRepublic.com, 2023-05-19) Christian Nationalism Has Prevailed in Texas. Trans Teens Will Suffer.  As Governor Greg Abbott prepares to sign a law banning gender-affirming care, teens face the possibility of being detransitioned against their will.

    • Within days Texas Governor Greg Abbott will sign a law banning gender-affirming care for all trans youth in Texas. Trans youth, their parents, and LGBTQ advocates have been fighting this ban for years.

    • Since 2021, a national campaign national campaign led by Christian nationalist groups and their allies in state legislatures have passed bans in 18 states

    • While some trans kids may be able to leave Texas with their supportive families, countless more face the possibility of being forcibly detransitioned by the state.

    [toggle] The Religious-Right Coalition Behind Kansas' Slew of Anti-Trans Bills

    • (RightWingWatch.org, 2023-04-07) The Religious-Right Coalition Behind Kansas' Slew of Anti-Trans Bills.

    • Kansas legislators passed sweeping anti-trans legislation this week that has a religious-right coalition's fingerprints all over it. On 2023-04-04 the Republican-led Kansas legislature passed Kansas Senate Bill 180 of 2023 (SB 180) - which would make it illegal for trans people to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity, and illegal to change their name or gender identity on drivers' licenses - sending it to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly's desk with a veto-proof majority.

    • SB 180 - which opponents say attempts to erase trans people from society - was introduced by Kansas state Senator Renee Erickson. Renee Erickson is a graduate of the Family Policy Alliance's  Statesmen Academy, which promises to "equip participants with foundational Christian worldview training." The Family Policy Alliance is also a leading partner in the anti-trans coalition that has dubbed itself The Promise to America's Children.

    • Formed in 2021, "Promise to America's Children" vows to "protect" children who it says "are under attack" from "politicized ideas about sexual orientation and gender identity ideology." The 23 groups that make up the coalition portray feminism and LGBTQ equality as threats to the Christian right's narrow vision of "the natural family." With behemoth partner organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and The Heritage Foundation, the "Promise to America's Children" coalition drafts model legislation and works with aligned state lawmakers to introduce them in their state legislatures.

    • A day after passage of SB 180, the state's Republican-controlled Senate also overrode (2023-04-05) Laura Kelly's veto of House Bill 2238 - which bars trans kids from playing on sports teams according to their gender identity and which trans rights advocates worry could lead to state-mandated genital inspections of some athletes. That legislation includes identical language to a 2020 Idaho bill drafted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a leading partner of the anti-trans coalition. It was also introduced by Representative Barb Wasinger, a participant in Family Policy Alliance's Statesman Academy, who has signaled her support of the anti-trans coalition Promise to America's Children, by signing its "promise."

    Family Research Council. Among it's other anti-trans initiatives, the Family Research Council develops and promulgates model acts such as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE Act) - which are distributed to sympathetic lawmakers for introduction into state legislatures.

    Groups Pushing Anti-Trans Laws Want to Divide the LGBTQ Movement.  The same people keep pushing bill after bill, developing their strategy as they go.

    Three of the key players in the ultra-conservative, Christian right movement are:

    Those three groups have teamed up in a very powerful coalition, The Promise to America's Children.

Christian right: Political interference

Intersections: Christian right | politics | Republican Party

• (2023-05-04) Conservative Christians want more religion in public life. Texas lawmakers are listening. Opponents of church-state separation have been emboldened by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the growing acceptance of Christian nationalism on the right.

[toggle] Leadership Institute

• The Leadership Institute (see also) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Arlington, Virginia that teaches "political technology." Its mission is to "increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists" and to "identify, train, recruit and place conservatives in politics, government, and media."

• The Leadership Institute offers 44 types of training seminars at its Arlington headquarters, around the United States, and occasionally in foreign countries. In 2014, the Leadership Institute trained 18,182 persons. Since its 1979 founding, the Leadership Institute has trained more than 161,271 students. Alumni include Grover NorquistRalph ReedJeff Gannon, Senator Mitch McConnell, Vice-President Mike PenceJames O'Keefe, new members of the 113th Congress, and elected officials in all 50 states.

[toggle] [Family Policy Alliance] Statesmen Academy

• A growing cohort of right-wing lawmakers and Christian nationalist groups have been working to pass some of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion measures in the United States.

• Our investigation identified 55 alumni of the Statesmen Academy, a program launched by the Family Policy Alliance to provide training and mentorship to lawmakers and help them promote "pro-family" legislation.

• Alumni include far-right members of state legislatures around the country who have sponsored or co-sponsored controversial anti-trans legislation, including health care bans and prohibitions on trans athletes participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

• One of the Academy's most celebrated graduates is Robin Lundstrum, a Republican lawmaker in Arkansas whose Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act would prohibit doctors from providing or referring transgender and gender non-conforming minors for gender-affirming health care.

• The Arkansas SAFE Act (2021)flies in the face of how doctors treat their trans patients. Banning gender-affirming mental health care, puberty blockers, and hormone treatments will harm transgender youth, medical experts say.

• The Arkansas law has sparked copycat bills in other states, however. Alabama and Arizona have enacted bans on trans health care, and bills that would outlaw trans health care have been introduced in 19 more state legislatures.

• Source: (Sarah Posner, 2022-09-21) The Christian Nationalist Boot Camp Pushing Anti-Trans Laws Across America. The Statesmen Academy elevates the profiles of right-wing lawmakers and helps them promote legislation rooted in baseless distortions of science and medicine.

Christian right, education, and charter schools

In an excellent 3-part series in Salon, investigative reporter Kathryn Joyce describes conservatives and Christian right's efforts to destroy public education in favor of charter schools - publicly funded, yet able to implement neoconservative, revisionist, Judeo-Christian curricula. Integral to that effort is Hillsdale College in Michigan - which Governor Ron DeSantis is replicating at the New College of Florida.

[toggle] Salon investigates: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College

• (Kathryn Joyce, Salon.com, 2022-03-16) Salon investigates: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College. In a 3-part investigation, Salon shows how this tiny Christian college is leading the right-wing fight on education." "Teaching is our trade; also, I confess, it's our weapon." Those are the words of Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, a small private Christian college in Michigan that, in recent years, has quietly become a driving force in nearly all of the country's ongoing fights around education.

• During the Trump years, Hillsdale College functioned as a "feeder school" sending alumni into the administration and the offices of its allies on Capitol Hill. Hillsdale College officials led Donald Trump's controversial 1776 Commission, established to create a "patriotic education" alternative to contemporary scholarship on America's racial history. Hillsdale College's lecture series and magazine serve as a testing ground for the right's most ambitious and outlandish ideas: that diversity isn't a strength but a "solvent" that destroys national unity; that Vladimir Putin is a populist hero; that Republicans should aspire to lure so many children out of public schools that the entire system might collapse.

• To that end, Hillsdale College has inconspicuously been building a network of "classical education" charter schools, which use public tax dollars to teach that systemic racism was effectively vanquished in the 1960s, that America was founded on "Judeo-Christian" principles and that progressivism is fundamentally anti-American.

• In late 2022-01 the governor of Tennessee announced plans to partner with Hillsdale College to launch as many as 50 such schools in that state - something public education advocates fear could be a tipping point in the fight to save public education.

• In this three-part investigative series, Salon looks at Hillsdale's multifaceted and far-reaching role in shaping and disseminating the ideas and strategies that power the right. In an era of book bans, crusades against teaching about racism, and ever-widening proposals to punish teachers and librarians, Hillsdale is not just a central player, but a ready-made solution for conservatives who seek to reclaim an educational system they believe was ceded decades ago to liberal interests. Taken together, these linked trends - and the deep-rooted conservative network supporting them - amount to a vision of things to come if Republicans succeed in what they describe as a "war" that "will be won in education."

[toggle] Inside the Christian Legal Crusade to Revive School Prayer

• (NewRepublic.com, 2023-05-30) Inside the Christian Legal Crusade to Revive School Prayer. Buoyed by the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, Christian groups are laying the groundwork for public schools to veer back toward the 1960s. In 2018 parents in Louisiana sued the Bossier Parish School Board for promoting religion and coercing students to participate in prayer in violation of the 1st Amendment, which calls for separation of church and state. In 2019 a federal court sided with the plaintiffs and ordered Bossier Parish schools to stop promoting religion.

• However, the legal landscape is changing. In 2022-06 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of a coach - Joe Kennedy, who sued the Bremerton, Washington, school district after it disciplined him when he refused to end the practice of praying at the 50-yard line following games.

• With a U.S. Supreme Court friendly to school prayer, educators and state lawmakers are testing the constitutional limits of the separation of church and state. In a handful of states - Kentucky, Montana, - lawmakers have recently proposed or passed measures attempting to promote faith in schools.

• Advocates of the separation of church and state fear long-standing protections for young atheists, people who belong to no religion, and religious minorities will be eroded - perhaps altogether. As Christianity is held up as the only acceptable way to believe and to live, non-Christian children, who may already feel different, could find themselves all the more sidelined, ostracized, or bullied.

• During the 1960s, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against school-sponsored prayer, a countervailing "return God to school" movement began to grow. At first, that movement made minimal progress, but from the 1980s until today - especially during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump - the movement steadily picked up steam - seeing school prayer as a way to impose conservative Christianity on a captive school audience.

Pat Robertson used an organization he founded - the American Center for Law and Justice - to promote prayer led and organized by students at graduations as an alternative to the clergy-led prayer the U.S. Supreme Court had banned. The Joe Kennedy ruling was a huge victory for the movement, which has focused its strategy in recent years on elevating conservative Christian judges. "It is a group of well-funded Christian nationalist legal outfits looking for these cases and seizing upon them so they can take them to court."

• Groups that filed amicus briefs in the Joe Kennedy case included not only legal organizations, but also conservative religious groups such as the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; state attorneys general, including Louisiana's Jeff Landry; U.S. senators, including Ted Cruz; and U.S. congressmen.

• Attorneys from First Liberty Institute and Liberty Counsel - another prominent conservative legal organization - said the door has opened to bring prayer back to schools across the nation, at least when it comes to school-sponsored events. Keisha Russell (an attorney at First Liberty Institute) and Mathew Staver (founder of Liberty Counsel) said their firms are looking for fresh opportunities to bring cases. Staver said that for his firm Liberty Counsel, the Joe Kennedy ruling is a gold mine.

[toggle] "Religious Indoctrination": Oklahoma Officials Approve Catholic Public School

• (Truthout.org, 2023-06-06) "Religious Indoctrination": Oklahoma Officials Approve Catholic Public School. "It's hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers," one opponent said.

• A state school board in Oklahoma has voted to approve what would be the United States' first publicly funded religious school in a move that opponents, including the state's attorney general, are saying is blatantly unconstitutional.

• The application to form the school, an online public charter school that would serve K-12, was submitted by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma. The purpose of forming the school is very clearly aimed at spreading Christianity: in the "vision and purpose" section of the application, the Archdiocese wrote, "The Catholic school participates in the evangelizing mission of the Church and is the privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out."

• The Archdiocese argued that the school would be a private entity, despite the fact that it would be funded in part by taxpayer money. Governor Kevin Stitt (R-ID), who has taken multiple steps to suppress public educators' ability to teach about inequality and to support religious schools in the state, called the vote a "win for religious liberty and education freedom."

• The approval is one of the first major public moves in the right's quest to enshrine Christianity into public schooling, which Republicans and their dark money backers have been working to do for a number of years now.

• In 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional for Montana to grant certain funding to public schools but not religious schools - essentially forcing states to fund religious private schools. And, last year (2022), the Supreme Court protected the ability of a public school football coach to lead his students in Christian prayer after games.

Education in Florida

• Education in Florida in Florida is the target of unrelenting and intensifying culture wars and ideologies.

• Vicious and unrelenting attacks on trans rights are a sentinel of a society devolving toward authoritarianism and eventual fascism.

    • In that regard, on 2023-05-24 the American Association of University Professors issued a damning report on academic freedom in Florida under Ron DeSantis' regime. A special committee established by the AAUP earlier this year (2022) interviewed more than 40 faculty members at several Florida institutions of higher education to "review an apparent pattern of politically, racially, and ideologically motivated attacks." Interviewees described the reality in Florida as "Orwellian."

    • Given the demonstrated depravity of conservatives (including Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society, and the Christian right) in fostering and promulgating culture wars, the following statement from that report is especially disconcerting.

      • One self-identified conservative and devout Christian professor at the University of Florida sent an email to his colleagues that read:
      "Bottom line: Big Brother is watching. He is taking names. I'm on their 'woke' list!
      I'm the faculty advisor for the Federalist Society, for the Law School Republicans, and for the Christian Legal Society.
      If they find me threatening, the rest of you are dead in the water.
      Be wary and be aware. If I don't have academic freedom, neither do you. If you don't, neither do I.
      We are in this together."

      • Others interviewed spoke of the state of Florida as "a canary in a coal mine."

• A longstanding wedge strategy of conservatives and the Christian right has been to separate the "T" from the "LGB" - a decades along approach that has been exhaustively reiterated, refined and reapplied in other contexts.

• The amplification of divisive rhetoric on popular and social media obfuscates the funding and promulgation of those discriminatory practices by wealthy neoliberals and wealthy Christian right billionaires.

Education - Florida (cont'd)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been systematically dismantling and re-mantling Florida's educational system.

[toggle] Ron DeSantis Is All In ... On Creating an American Autocracy

• (Pema Levy, MotherJones.com, 2023-05-25) Ron DeSantis Is All In - on Creating an American Autocracy.

    • Last fall (2022), University of Central Florida history professor Robert Cassanello inserted content warnings into his civil rights movement lectures. Under a 2022 law - the Stop WOKE Act ("Individual Freedom Act"; Florida House Bill 7 of 2022) - Florida restricted educators' ability to teach concepts like critical race theory, structural racism, sex discrimination, white or male privilege, and affirmative action. Florida House Bill 7 of 2022 also limits how private employers can discuss such issues. ... "If you're going to report me, start taking your documentation down now," Robert Cassanello recalls. ... The threat of being turned in by a student is real. In 2021, Florida enacted a law intended to combat perceived discrimination against campus conservatives by authorizing students to secretly record professors in order to bring lawsuits or report them to school authorities.

    • The law authorizing secret recordings also mandated that faculty and students fill out an annual "intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity" survey - just one of many new oversight tools Ron DeSantis and his legislative allies have imposed. At the end of 2022, Ron DeSantis ordered state higher education institutions to turn over descriptions of all classes and activities related to DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and critical race theory, information on faculty teaching those topics or involved in those efforts, and an accounting of relevant funding (Florida Florida Senate Bill 266 of 2023). And in 2023-02 the Florida House's GOP speaker joined the battle, demanding faculty involved in once state-mandated DEI groups hand over two years of related emails, text messages, and social media posts. The effort calls to mind a surveillance state, where snitching is encouraged, the government keeps enemies lists, and free speech is censored. "Almost invariably, universities are bastions of opposition to autocratic parties, government parties, movements, leaders - and so they're their targets."

    Ron DeSantis and his Republican legislative allies have taken other steps to take control of Florida colleges and universities. He orchestrated a takeover of New College of Florida - a small Florida liberal arts school, installing culture wars provocateur Chris Rufo on its board. One 2022 measure allowed institutions to conduct presidential searches in secret, outside the scope of Florida's robust sunshine laws. A few months later, Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse ended up in charge of the University of Florida without any disclosure of the process. At New College of Florida, Ron DeSantis' handpicked board fired its president, naming Ron DeSantis' former commissioner of education as interim leader while a secret search continues. And in 2023-05, a GOP legislator and Ron DeSantis ally emerged as the final candidate to lead South Florida State College after the Ron DeSantis-friendly board in charge of hiring lowered the job's requirements.

    • During the Spring 2023 legislative session, Florida Republicans passed new academic mandates, banned funding DEI programs, and took faculty hiring decisions away from deans or departmental committees, placing them in the hands of university presidents. The law also empowers the Florida Board of Governors overseeing Florida's universities to review and ban curricula "based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and white privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States, and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities."

    • In 2022 University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks wrote an article for the Journal of Free Speech Law, arguing that a neo-Confederate ideology is gaining sway in the Republican Party, one that seeks "to use the power of the state to censor speech that threatens their values and to compel speech that serves them." Hostile "to reproductive rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and efforts to recognize and redress systemic racism and sexism," neo-Confederates hide their anti-speech agenda behind crusades against cancel culture, wokeism, and critical race theory. Ron DeSantis "may be the most obvious exemplar of neo-Confederate ideology, particularly when it comes to free speech and education."

[toggle] Salon investigates: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College

• (Kathryn Joyce, Salon.com, 2022-03-16) Salon investigates: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College

    In a 3-part investigation, Salon shows how this tiny Christian college is leading the right-wing fight on education." "Teaching is our trade; also, I confess, it's our weapon." Those are the words of Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, a small private Christian college in Michigan that, in recent years, has quietly become a driving force in nearly all of the country's ongoing fights around education.

    • During the Trump years, Hillsdale College functioned as a "feeder school" sending alumni into the administration and the offices of its allies on Capitol Hill. Hillsdale College officials led Donald Trump's controversial 1776 Commission, established to create a "patriotic education" alternative to contemporary scholarship on America's racial history. Hillsdale College's lecture series and magazine serve as a testing ground for the right's most ambitious and outlandish ideas: that diversity isn't a strength but a "solvent" that destroys national unity; that Vladimir Putin is a populist hero; that Republicans should aspire to lure so many children out of public schools that the entire system might collapse.

    • To that end, Hillsdale College has inconspicuously been building a network of "classical education" charter schools, which use public tax dollars to teach that systemic racism was effectively vanquished in the 1960s, that America was founded on "Judeo-Christian" principles and that progressivism is fundamentally anti-American.

    • In late 2022-01 the governor of Tennessee announced plans to partner with Hillsdale College to launch as many as 50 such schools in that state - something public education advocates fear could be a tipping point in the fight to save public education.

    • In this three-part investigative series, Salon looks at Hillsdale's multifaceted and far-reaching role in shaping and disseminating the ideas and strategies that power the right. In an era of book bans, crusades against teaching about racism, and ever-widening proposals to punish teachers and librarians, Hillsdale is not just a central player, but a ready-made solution for conservatives who seek to reclaim an educational system they believe was ceded decades ago to liberal interests. Taken together, these linked trends - and the deep-rooted conservative network supporting them - amount to a vision of things to come if Republicans succeed in what they describe as a "war" that "will be won in education."

[toggle] Professor Association Blasts Florida's "Unparalleled" Assault on Higher Education

• (Isabela Dias, MotherJones.com, 2023-05-24) Professor Association Blasts Florida's "Unparalleled" Assault on Higher Education.

    • The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a damning report on the state of higher education in Florida "Academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida's public colleges and universities," the association concluded, "face a politically and ideologically driven assault unparalleled in US history." The "onslaught" led by DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature "threatens the very survival of meaningful higher education in the state, with dire implications for the entire country." A special committee established by the AAUP earlier this year interviewed more than 40 faculty members at several Florida institutions of higher education to "review an apparent pattern of politically, racially, and ideologically motivated attacks." Interviewees described the reality in Florida as "Orwellian."

    Preliminary Report of the Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Florida  |  local copy

      • In January 2023, the AAUP announced the establishment of a special committee to review an apparent pattern of politically, racially, and ideologically motivated attacks on public higher education in Florida. ... Our efforts thus far have led us to conclude that academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance in Florida's public colleges and universities currently face a politically and ideologically driven assault unparalleled in U.S. history. Initiated and led by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican majority in the state legislature, this onslaught, if sustained, threatens the very survival of meaningful higher education in the state, with the direst implications for the entire country. ...

      • This report presents four main findings.

        (1) The governor and state legislature are using their swift, aggressive, and ongoing "hostile takeover" of New College of Florida as a test case, likely for its intimidating effect. ...

        (2) Academic administrators throughout Florida's public university and college systems, from the highest to the lowest levels - without exception - not only have failed to contest these attacks but have too frequently been complicit in and, in some cases, explicitly supported them. ...

        (3) Governor DeSantis has taken executive actions and the Florida legislature has passed a series of bills that, taken collectively, constitute a systematic effort to dictate and enforce conformity with a narrow and reactionary political and ideological agenda throughout the state's higher education system. ...

        (4) Although several pieces of legislation proposed by the DeSantis administration have been stalled by litigation challenges and others have not yet been fully implemented, the chilling effect on academic freedom of the governor's and legislature's efforts has already been felt by faculty and students throughout the state's public higher education institutions. ...

Hillsdale College and charter schools

• California, Tennessee, Florida, ... are introducing religious-based charter schools, modeled on Michigan's Hillsdale College.

• Well-underway, U.S. conservatives and the Christian right are destroying public education.

[toggle] The far right's national plan for schools: Plant charters, defund public education

• (Salon.com, 2022-03-16) Salon investigates: The war on public schools is being fought from Hillsdale College. Salon's 3-part investigation shows how this tiny Christian college is leading the right-wing fight on education.  |  (Part 3/3: 2022-03-17) The far right's national plan for schools: Plant charters, defund public education. Hillsdale College's "classical" charter schools are spreading fast - but the true goal is much bigger.

• In 2022-01 Jeff Barke urged the congregation at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills (California) to "Leave the government schools! ... And if you're not going to do that, then run for the school board." ..."If we can get parents switched into charter schools or private schools," Will Swaim told The Los Angeles Times, "we're going to make those union schools pay for their failings. ... If enough of us stand up, and enough of us say, 'If you do this, my child will no longer be in a government school,'" Will Swaim told the church, they could win. "Because with your child comes the education dollars, and if your child isn't in school, they won't have the money, the unions won't get funded, and those schools will close down."

• As Florida Republicans move closer to achieving their stated long-term goal of making 100 percent of the state's students eligible for school vouchers, Richard Corcoran suggested that once Florida manages to lure 1.5 million students away from public schools, the resultant loss of funding and forced consolidation would alter the educational landscape so radically that not even future Democratic governors could change it back. They might already be getting close, Corcoran said, with almost a third of that number already using vouchers or in charters. "You can't take those 500,000 kids and bring them back into the public school system. Corcoran turned to the example of Tennessee asking for 100 charter schools. "Once you have that, you can't put the animals back in the barn" (meaning that charter expansion on a large scale poses an existential threat to public education). "As charter schools proliferate, they strip public schools of adequate funding, and in Tennessee, our schools have been inadequately funded for 30 years. At the same time, they "cream" students from traditional schools." What happens then is something of a death spiral: "Public schools are left serving increasing numbers of high-needs, high-cost students who are being deprived of the resources they need to succeed. Bringing charters and voucher schools into the school system is a recipe for failure for the public school system. Nationally, what we're seeing is a very intentional effort to dismantle public education in this fashion."

• "The privatization push is very well-developed by public relations firms. "It's a billionaire's movement, and I believe that all the controversy about critical race theory (CRT) and those issues are being stirred up in order to drive a 'failing schools' narrative." The only way the privatization movement can gain ground is to create controversy and distrust of the public school system." "That's what all of this" - meaning the book bans, the CRT panic, the attacks on teachers and school staff - "is about."

• The long-term goal of the Hillsdale College-driven educational model - as Sue Woltanski of Florida's Monroe County School Board sees it - is no mystery: moving a critical mass of children out of the public schools, as a means of destabilizing and then destroying them. "I think - like Richard Corcoran said - the battle for America will be won in education," Woltanski said. "There are so many wins for conservatives by privatizing education. They get to control the message, decrease taxes and get access to the hearts and minds of all the children in America. They get to kill the teachers' union - that one can't be stressed enough. And it's happening on multiple levels, Kathleen Oropeza says - federal, state and local. "They're going to keep plugging away because they have the resources, they have the connections and they have the vision. They're playing the long game, and while Hillsdale College might not seem important now, with their 53 schools, all they have to do is get a few states to adopt their standards, and the game changes."

    [toggle] After 10 years, Chicago school closings have left big holes, and promises unkept

    • (NPR.org, 2023-06-01) After 10 years, Chicago school closings have left big holes, and promises unkept

    • A decade has passed since Rahm Emanuel called for the closings of more American schools (50 schools) at one time than ever before. Chicago's Board of Education cast its historic votes 10 years ago this spring, on 2013-05-22. Today, Chicago and other big cities again face similar dynamics as those that led to Chicago Public School (CPS) closings across the United States: major student population declines, aging buildings in need of repair, and budget deficits.

    • Elected to follow the two-decade reign of Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel was confronting issues that had piled up in previous administrations. Daley and then-CPS CEO Arne Duncan opened scores of new schools in neighborhoods with declining population, many of them privately-run charters, which further drained traditional schools of kids and resources. They closed several schools a year for performance reasons, but then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said this "piecemeal" approach caused disruption and chaos.

      • Arne Duncan served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2008, and United States Secretary of Education under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2015. One of Duncan's initiatives as secretary has been a $4 billion Race to the Top competition, announced 2009-07-24. It asks states to vie for federal education dollars by submitting proposals that include reforms such as expanding charter schools and judging teachers partly on how well their students do on standardized tests.

      • (WashingtonPost.com, 2011-07-21) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chooses private school for kids. ... The decision where to send your children to school is certainly a personal one, even for public officials. But it is worth publicly noting what public officials who support test-based school reform - including Obama's main education initiative, Race to the Top - choose to do with their own children when given the chance. ...Rahm Emanuel was none too happy about being asked about the choice of school for his children, as shown when he stormed out of an interview with Mary Ann Ahern of NBC Chicago.

    • The consequences of the closings still reverberate long after the officials who vowed to do better by Chicago's school children have moved on - including Byrd-Bennett to prison.

    • More than half of the buildings aren't back in use, most of them vacant and dilapidated. The so-called "welcoming schools" that received displaced students got significant upgrades but couldn't ward off outside factors that caused declining enrollment - their average enrollment and utilization are now worse than prior to the closings.

[toggle] Conservative Hillsdale College is helping Ron DeSantis reshape Florida education

• (2022-07-05, TampaBay.com) Conservative Hillsdale College is helping Ron DeSantis reshape Florida education. The small private Christian college in Michigan is playing an influential role in Florida.

• "Our speaker tonight is one of the most important people living," Larry P. Arnn said as he introduced Ron DeSantis as the keynote speaker at the Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar on 2022-02-23 in Naples, Florida.

Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, a politically influential private Christian college in southern Michigan.

• The introduction highlights the relationship between Ron DeSantis and the conservative Hillsdale College, which 12 years ago set out to reshape public education through the growth of charter schools, and in recent years has expanded its reach in Florida's education system.

• Hillsdale College's influence has been seen in the Florida's rejection of math textbooks over what Ron DeSantis called "indoctrinating concepts," Florida's push to renew the importance of civics education in public schools, and the rapid growth of Hillsdale College's network of affiliated public charter schools in Florida. ...

[toggle] U.S. Fascism Is Spreading Under the Guise of "Patriotic Education"

• (Henry Giroux, Truthout, 2023-04-10) U.S. Fascism Is Spreading Under the Guise of "Patriotic Education".

• Republicans are rallying behind racist pedagogy as an organizing principle." The relentless state-based attacks on Black people in the U.S. and the war being waged against public and higher education are not unrelated. In the present political and ideological climate, far right political leaders, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R-TX), and Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) have declared a war on institutions of public and higher education, which they've identified as centers of "unpatriotic education."

• Most far right Republicans fear higher education as a bulwark against their authoritarianism, and hence see students as a threat to their propaganda machines and fascist politics.

• As a result, the right wing has kicked into overdrive in an attempt to target educational institutions as a site for policing dissent, eliminating unions, indoctrinating faculty and students, and for normalizing white Christian nationalism, white supremacy and pedagogies of repression.

• We have seen this in Ron DeSantis' efforts to take over the progressive New College of Florida and turn it into a haven for white Christian education. Ron DeSantis wants to remodel New College of Florida after the reactionary Hillsdale College, a private Christian liberal arts college that Kathryn Joyce states has played a "far-reaching role in shaping and disseminating the ideas and strategies that power the right."

• It's clear that the far right GOP has deemed education to be the most powerful tool for creating a public that is neither informed nor willing to struggle to keep a democracy alive. This is particularly evident in the right-wing war on education, which aims at replacing public education with charter schools, fashioning public and higher education into centers of far right indoctrination, and destroying higher education as a democratic public good.

• Central to such an attack is a war on critical thinking, troubling knowledge, historical memory and any form of education that address social problems.

Extremism, intolerance, and the rise of neofascism

History has taught us the tell-tale signs of rising tides of prejudice, hatred, and fascism in the rise of the Nazi party prior to WWII.

• Since the failed 2021-01-06 U.S. Capitol insurrection, the Proud Boys have evolved into a violent, confrontational Christian nationalist organization, devoted to amplifying culture wars (school board elections; anti-drag protests; ...).

The Republican Party

So, what's up with the Republican Party of the United States and all those { anti-trans | anti-abortion | anti-DEI | anti-ESG | ... } bills?

Essentially, it's a harbinger the impending, greater danger to society from the Republican Party. The fundamentally conservative Republican Party is increasingly and openly embracing conspiratorialfar-right ideologies - including but not limited to: theocracyDominion theologymeritocracyplutocracywhite privilegewhite supremacy; and other extremist  mindsets.

[toggle] Republican ideology
    [toggle] Republican Party's war on women

    • "War on women" is a slogan in United States politics used to describe certain Republican Party policies and legislation as a wide-scale effort to restrict women's rights, especially reproductive rights, including abortion; access to reproductive health services, particularly birth control and abortion services; the definition of rape for the purpose of the public funding of abortion; the prosecution of criminal violence against women; and workplace discrimination against women.

    • While used in other contexts, and prior to 2010, it became a common slogan in American political discourse after the 2010 congressional elections. The term is often used to describe opposition to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare and policies to defund women's health organizations that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. The concept again gained attention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when Republican nominee Donald Trump drew notice for a history of inflammatory statements and actions toward women.

    [toggle] GOP Anti-Trans Agenda Is a Distraction from War on Women

    • See also (Occupy.com, 2023-06-09): GOP Anti-Trans Agenda Is a Shiny Object to Distract from War on Women

      • The Republican Party's outright hatred of the transgender population is at a boiling point. As of this writing, 543 bills limiting the rights of transgender Americans have been introduced in 49 states, with 70 of those bills passing in 14 state legislatures. An additional 17 states have anti-trans bills pending, as legislative sessions in those states are ongoing.

      • According to proponents of these bills, the argument in favor of curtailing transgender Americans' rights varies from "protecting women's sports" to unfounded fears about "groomers" and sexual predators supposedly masquerading as drag queens. However, according to attorney Krista Prata Browde of Browde Law, no drag queens have been arrested for sex crimes against minors, at least so far this year.

      • Women voters' support for legal abortion presents a problem for the Republican Party's continued political survival, given that it has historically taken an anti-abortion stance for decades. The GOP's doubling down on anti-trans politics could be for a different purpose altogether: gaining back the support of women voters. The groups behind the push include the Alliance Defending Freedom (effectively the religious right's version of the ACLU) and the Charles Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, among others.

      • Despite their anti-trans arguments being repeatedly debunked by scientists, Republicans are winning the culture war and are poised to win further electoral victories by spreading vitriol against the transgender community. They're counting on the media to continue their false assumption that the GOP's anti-trans campaign is being conducted in good faith, in order to win back enough women voters to be electorally competitive in 2024 and beyond.

    [toggle] [Aside] Childhood establishment far-right political ideologies: Exemplars

    • Evident in Frontline's biopic Clarence and Ginni Thomas: Politics, Power and the Supreme Court is the role of indoctrination of political ideologies early in life.

      Clarence Thomas - a one-time seminary student, moved from radicalism (Black Panther ideation), to rejection of affirmative action, to ultra-conservatism.

      • Clarence Thomas' wife, Virginia "Ginni" Lamp Thomas - a highly influential lobbyist - likewise found and embraced ultra-conservatism.

    • An earlier Frontline documentary - Michael Flynn's Holy War - likewise describes how Michael Flynn was influenced by his mother (Helen Flynn, vice chairman of Catholics for Life) - evolving into a Christian nationalist zealot.

    • It is likely that other disrupting personalities have been similarly indoctrinated. For example, Leonard Leo (see also) - described by Clarence Thomas and others as perhaps the third most powerful person in the U.S. - is deeply secretive, conservative, and religious.

The acceleration of conspiratorial and identity-driven ideologies appears to have been trial-ballooned in the QAnon movement - a proto-religion ⇓ [scroll down] based on faith, not facts - spurred on by Michael Flynn and other notable adherents.

• The presidency of Donald Trump was inarguably catastrophic for civil, human and environmental rights. However, U.S. presidential candidate Ron DeSantis - based on his history and actions as governor of Florida - represents a significantly greater threat.

    • Although easily manipulated by external pressures, Trump's actions were largely egotistical, satisfying internal goals.

    • DeSantis' motivations however appear to be largely ideological (historical precedents include Adolf Hitler), satisfying external goals (conservatism; white supremacy; theocracy).

    [toggle] Ron DeSantis Is Even More Evil Than Trump

    • (Occupy.com, 2023-05-23) Ron DeSantis Is Even More Evil Than Trump.

      • As a former Congressman, a Harvard-educated attorney, and two-term governor, his administration would be far more effective at ruthlessly weaponizing the full resources of the federal government against marginalized populations than Donald Trump's chaotic, mercurial, and incompetent regime, and it's critical that DeSantis be kept as far away from the White House as possible.

      • Donald Trump's evil has been well-documented, from his tacit support of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville to his administration's forced hysterectomies of immigrant women in federal detention camps.

      • Donald Trump's evil could possibly be attributed to his ignorance, but Ron DeSantis isn't ignorant: he's been thoroughly educated on systemic injustice, and now as a public official, he's made clear his intent to use his political power to exacerbate those injustices, rather than correct them.

(ProPublica.org, 2023-05-20) He Became Convinced the School Board Was Pushing "Transgender Bullshit.  He Ended Up Arrested - and Emboldened. Eric Jensen - a parent in North Carolina - had grievances to air about library books 'trying to convert kids to gay,' and about mask and vaccine mandates. So Eric Jensen joined an activist group and headed to a school board meeting.

    ... Eric Jensen didn't come up with the idea to target the school board on his own. He had volunteered to help two women connected to the state chapter of a national group that was rapidly gaining followers through social media sites and YouTube channels promoting the convoluted QAnon movement  conspiracy theory. ... Eric Jensen said it used to be that "I was always watching the news. But once I found out how much they lie, you have to get back into alternative media to find out the actual truth."

    Eric Jensen said he has since become convinced that John F. Kennedy Jr. is alive, Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates are dead, and the COVID-19 vaccine is actually a "death shot." Echoing a debunked claim, Eric Jensen explained his belief that the vaccine changes your DNA in a way that allows those who patented the modified genetic sequence to "own" you, which is part of an effort to kill people off and depopulate the planet. "I've seen it many times, where they've got plastic caskets lined up," Eric Jensen said. "There must be a million of them sitting there in lots waiting for these people to die."

    In 2022-01 - shortly after Eric Jensen became interested in what he saw as threats posed by school boar - Eric Jensen logged onto the messaging service Telegram. ... A Telegram group called "North Carolina Bonds for the Win" seemed like the right fit. The national "Bonds for the Win" movement had been gaining steam, promoting its mission to force school districts to drop so-called unconstitutional practices including COVID-19 safety protocols and the distribution of alleged "obscene materials" to minors. ... The Bonds for the Win movement - dubbed "paper terrorism" by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League - aims to force school districts into "compliance" to avoid losing federal funding. ...

    "And that's when I found these ladies." Eric Jensen said of the two women leading efforts in his school district for North Carolina Bonds for the Win. On 2022-02-22 Eric Jensen ... met the women, Deborah Tuttle and Regina Garner, face-to-face for the first time. Tuttle and Garner handed Jensen a cardboard box of paperwork, which Jensen understood to be "explanations about how they district officials were going to get sued against their bonds" for teaching critical race theory - an academic framework sometimes taught at the college level and above that examines U.S. history through the lens of racism - and allowing books containing "profanity" in schools. Eric Jensen also said the documents included proof that masks don't work. ...

Extremist group "Moms for Liberty"

Moms for Liberty is an American conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that advocates against school curriculums that mention LGBT rights, race, critical race theory, and discrimination, while multiple chapters have also campaigned to ban from school libraries books that address gender and sexuality issues. Moms for Liberty began by protesting COVID-19 protections in schools, including mask and vaccine mandates.

Moms for Liberty has been criticized for harassment, for deepening divisions among parents, for making students' education more difficult, and for having close ties to the Republican Party rather than being a genuine grassroots effort. Moms for Liberty was labeled an anti-government extremist" organization in 2023 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[toggle] SPLC-designated "Extremist Group"

Moms for Liberty is a SPLC-designated "Extremist Group".  |  The Year in Hate & Extremism 2022

[toggle] Hate group affiliations

• (TrueNorthResearch.org, 2022-11-04) New Documents Show ALEC Targeting School Board and Other Local Races

    • Recent documents acquired by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveal a new initiative targeting local politicians-especially school board candidates-with right-wing messaging, policies, and financial resources.

    • This new targeting of school boards is being spearheaded by the American City and County Exchange (ACCE), a project of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - a pay-to-play group where corporate lobbyists and special interest groups vote as equals on "model bills" with state legislators behind closed doors.

    • ALEC held a workshop in 2020-12 promoting the Right's false narrative about critical race theory being taught in public schools that featured speakers from other groups tied to anti-public school zealot Charles Koch, including The Heritage FoundationManhattan Institute, and American Enterprise Institute, which have spent decades attacking public education.

    • Just weeks after this ALEC workshop, the dark money attack dog, Moms for Liberty, was launched to target public schools. Shortly thereafter another dark money group, Parents Defending Education, was created.

    • One known funder of one of the key groups targeting school board races, Moms for Liberty and its PACs, is Julie Fancelli. Julie Fancelli is an heir to the Publix grocery store fortune who helped underwrite the events in Washington D.C. on 2021-01-06 where Trump incited the Capitol insurrection.

[toggle] Who funds "Moms for Liberty"?
    [toggle] [Wikipedia] Moms for Liberty § Funding

    • Wikipedia: Moms for Liberty

      Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich has stated that Moms for Liberty is funded by individual $50 memberships and the sale of Moms for Liberty T-shirts. Descovich has also stated that the organization has an annual budget of $300,000. Democrats have questioned how Moms for Liberty is being funded, pointing out that its expansion comes as Florida governor Ron DeSantis begins his reelection campaign.

      • According to an analysis by Media Matters for America, Moms for Liberty benefits financially from right-wing funding and ties to traditional Republican political figures. Moms for Liberty is well-connected to Republican politicians and groups and financially supported by more than membership fees and T-shirt sales.

      • Moms for Liberty has received financial support from Conservatives for Good Government, a conservative Florida political action committee. The group also hosts fundraisers with conservative celebrities such as former Fox News host Megyn Kelly and hosted a fundraiser in June 2021 that was sponsored by Florida Republicans running for office.

      • In June 2022, heiress Julie Fancelli donated $50,000 to Moms for Liberty.

    [toggle] "Moms for America" Group Funded by Big Lie Donors Is Stoking Voter Suppression

    • [Truthout.org, 2023-07-09] Right-wing extremist group "Moms for America" has been flying under the radar as it works to undermine our rights

      • Note: Moms for Liberty [Persagen: Moms for Liberty] and Moms for America are two separate groups co-funded by Julie Fancelli.

      Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Florida-based heiress to the Publix super markets fortune, was little known to the public before she was outed as a major sponsor of the dark money groups organizing the 2021-01-06 Stop the Steal rallies that culminated in the violent insurrection at the United States Capitol.

      Recent reporting by OpenSecrets uncovered that the George Jenkins Foundation, where Fancelli sits as board president and was the sole funder in 2021, gave millions more to groups involved in the 2021-01-05 and 2021-01-06 rallies than previously known, including a staggering $1.375 million to a far right group called Moms for America.

      • Moms for America has received significantly less media attention than other right-wing "women's" groups - such as Moms for LibertyWomen for America First, the Independent Women's Forum/Voice, and Concerned Women for America - that are funded by ultra-wealthy donors whose identities they keep secret from the public. But Moms for America has also been a major player in pushing voter suppression, election denialism, attacks on public schools and COVID-19 misinformation.

      • Moms for America, which was created in 2005 as "Homemakers for America" and recently designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-government extremist group, deserves greater scrutiny for its role in 2021-01-06 and other efforts to undermine democracy. Its funders warrant greater scrutiny too.

Rise of neofascism in Canada

Mirroring the U.S., Canada has also seen an alarming increase in neoliberalism (privatization of health care and education), far-right politics including the Christian right, populism, culture wars and the rise of neofascist ideologies.

[toggle] Conservative think tanks

• Like the U.S. we have economic and political think tanks - sharing and espousing American ideologies.

[toggle] Federal far-right politics in Canada

Conservative Party of Canada

    • Former prime minister of Canada, former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper

    • Former prime minister of Canada, former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Brian Mulroney (a Ronald Reagan contemporary, ally)

    • Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre

People's Party of Canada leader, xenophobe Maxime Bernier

[toggle] Alberta

• Far-right political activist group Take Back Alberta

United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP)

[toggle] New Brunswick

• Review of Policy 713 (discussed elsewhere in detail in these slides):

    Policy 713, also called the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy, is an education policy serving the province of New Brunswick, Canada, that sets minimum requirements for public schools and districts in the province to ensure a safe educational environment for individuals identifying and perceived as LGBTQIA2S+.

[toggle] Ontario

• (CBC.ca, 2022-11-14) Ontario government repeals anti-strike law for CUPE education workers. Last week, Premier Doug Ford offered to withdraw the legislation if Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members returned to work.

Fundamentalist Christian movement in Canada
[toggle] Inside the fundamentalist Christian movement that wants to remake Canadian politics

• (Jonathan Montpetit, CBC.ca, 2023-06-05) Inside the fundamentalist Christian movement that wants to remake Canadian politics. Internal document reveals ambitions of anti-LGBTQ group that is part of populist movement.

Trinity Bible Chapel is one of the most prominent churches in a fundamentalist Christian movement that has gained momentum in Canada, and is increasingly involved in electoral politics, advocating for conservative social and political policies based on literal interpretations of the Bible.

Liberty Coalition Canada, a conservative Christian advocacy group, is trying to raise $1.3 million to recruit hundreds of Christian politicians and campaign staff to run at all levels of Canadian government.

• Several Canadian pastors in the movement also have ties to a controversial branch of evangelical Christianity known as Christian reconstructionism.

• In recent months Liberty Coalition Canada has emphasized its opposition to LGBTQ rights. An internal Liberty Coalition document obtained by CBC News suggests it is entertaining even grander ambitions for the future. "Over the next few years, I want to systematically manufacture 10,000 new Christian political candidates across Canada" says the document - written by Michael Clark, director of advocacy for Liberty Coalition Canada.

• Clark also writes that he wants to align Canada's laws with "biblical principles." "We would want to see people elected to office, and installed in the academies of our country, and in our legal system ... who aren't ashamed to consult God's eternal laws when it comes to the decisions that they make," he said in a voice memo to CBC News.

• More recently, reconstructionism in the U.S. is often associated with Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and its controversial pastor, Douglas Wilson. In his most recent writing, Wilson has no qualms about describing his goal as 'theocracy,'" Wilson's ideal society would be run along biblical lines: same-sex marriage and abortion would be illegal; men would be in charge and women would be at home with the children. "So the goal is for Canada to become Christian. And, if you know your history, for Canada to become Christian again."

• Wilson made the comments during an event at the Ezra Institute, a conservative Christian think-tank in Grimsby, Ontario. The Ezra Institute is affiliated with a number of radical Christian thinkers in the U.S., such as Jeff Durbin, an Arizona pastor who believes women should be charged with homicide if they have an abortion, even if that means facing the death penalty. According to the Ezra Institute, "human beings were made male and female", and marriage between a man and woman is the only permitted "form of human sexual intimacy."

• Another Ezra Institute fellow, Jeffery Ventrella, works for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy organization that is considered an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

• As a Canadian registered charity, the Ezra Institute operates mainly through donations. Among its largest donors is a charitable foundation operated by John Hultink, founder of the online book wholesaler Book Depot, based in Thorold, Ontario. Since 2014, the Hultink Family Foundation has given the Ezra institute close to $6 million, according to Canada Revenue Agency filings. The current CEO of Book Depot, Wilf Wikkerink, sits on the Ezra Institute's board of directors.

• "There's been a strong, and I believe a successful, attempt to really limit the growth of LGBTQ+ communities in Hamilton, Ontario, influenced by the religious right," said Jyss Russell, co-founder of speqtrum, one of Hamilton, Ontario's few LGBTQ advocacy groups. Many of these religious groups, Russell said, circulate disinformation about trans people, such as comparing gender-affirming care to "mutilation."

Culture wars - Education - Canada
[toggle] Alberta

• Alberta is the home to the most conservative, right-wing politics in Canada, heavily influenced by right-wing, populist ideologies and rhetoric in the United States.

• (PressProgress.ca, 2023-05-09) Changes to Alberta's Education Curriculum Driven By American "Culture War" Politics and the Religious Right, Experts Say.  Changes to the provincial curriculum are contributing to a decline in quality of education in Alberta.

    [toggle] Alberta UCP candidate (Jennifer Johnson) says sorry for comparing transgender students to feces in food

    • (2023-05-17) Alberta UCP candidate (Jennifer Johnson) says sorry for comparing transgender students to feces in food

      Jennifer Johnson is a United Conservative Party (UCP) candidate in the 2023-05-29 Alberta election. Earlier this week (2023-05) audio surfaced from 2022-09-01 featuring Jennifer Johnson speaking to the Western Unity Group in Stettler, Alberta about "The Hazards of the Public Education System and Homeschooling/Pod Schooling as a Solution." Jennifer Johnson is heard telling the group that Alberta's education system's accomplishments mean little when set against the issue of transgender students in schools. "These kids who are identifying as cats - and a teacher puts a litter box in the classroom for them," Jennifer Johnson tells the audience (COMMENT: that is the often-trolled litter box conspiracy theory / wedge tactic).

      • Jennifer Johnson says girls are saying they're not girls anymore "when they're seven years old and transitioning at 14 years old and getting mastectomies, double mastectomies and getting chemically sterilized when they can't even go to a liquor store and buy a beer." Jennifer Johnson compared the situation to baking a batch of cookies laced with a drop of feces to explain whether the food has any appeal. "We can be top three per cent but that little bit of poop is what wrecks it," says Jennifer Johnson on the audio. "This is more than a teaspoon of poop in the cookie batch, right?"

      • Kristopher Wells - an associate professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, and Canada Research Chair for the public understanding of sexual and gender minority youth - called Jennifer Johnson's remarks "some of the worst and most homophobic or transphobic comments we've ever seen from a political candidate." "This is often the gateway," said Wells, "First you start with the dehumanization, then you move to strip away rights and, pretty soon, you see the violence. And it's exactly this kind of rhetoric that contributes to that."

    [toggle] Brynn Tannehill's article "The End of Trans America Comes Into Focus" mentions thew dehumanizing of trans persons as feces meme

    • (Brynn Tannehill, NewRepublic.com, 2023-04-24) The End of Trans America Comes Into Focus.

      • Republicans have made it clear that their number one legislative and cultural priority is the "eradication of transgenderism from public life," as was stated by Daily Wire host Michael Knowles at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year (2023).

      • More anti-transgender bills have been filed this year than in the past four years combined, and by the time the year is finished even more will have passed into law.

      • These laws are designed to make life for transgender people functionally impossible: to make it impossible to go to school, to get medical care, to get accurate government IDs, to be protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, to go out in public without violating laws against drag, to participate in sports - banning them from the military, banning them from all types of media, and even making it illegal to use a public bathroom.

      • The laws go so far as to write the existence of transgender people out of law - to effectively unperson them as a class.

      • The Christian fundamentalists behind this push to purge transgender people frequently use an analogy about dog poop in brownies to describe why even the slightest contamination with LGBTQ ideas is unacceptable to God.

[toggle] Ontario
    [toggle] Niagara Catholic school board trustee compares Pride flag to Nazi flag

    • (CBC.ca, 2023-05-31) Niagara Catholic school board trustee compares Pride flag to Nazi flag, video shows.. Board director responds: "The Pride flag is a symbol of love ... the flag she referred to is a symbol of hate."

    • A Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) trustee is facing criticism after a video surfaced appearing to show her compare the Pride flag to the Nazi flag. A video posted to YouTube a week ago by Peter Taras - a former Ontario candidate for the People's Party of Canada - shows the trustee, Natalia Benoit, say she didn't want the school board to fly the Pride flag. "Well, any flag at all... Like the Nazi flag, we don't want that up either, right?" Natalia Benoit says in the video.

      • Nazi fascists in Germany murdered six million Jewish people during The Holocaust in the Second World War.

      Niagara Catholic District School Board director Camillo Cipriano told CBC Hamilton the comments came after Natalia Benoit presented a notice of motion at a 2023-05-23 Niagara Catholic District School Board meeting to introduce a new policy to prevent flag flying. "The policy is quite detailed but essentially the policy had components that if passed ... would essentially limit or maybe eliminate the ability to fly any type of flag, including the Pride flag."

      • Saleh Waziruddin - an executive committee member of the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association - said elected officials making comments like what Natalia Benoit said is "a sign that things are really bad." Saleh Waziruddin said the comment adds fuel to hate-based campaigns across Canada against LGBTQ people.

      • The latest hate crimes report from Statistics Canada noted a 64 per cent increase in cases targeting individuals for their sexual orientation. Public Safety Canada recently told CBC News it was "deeply concerned about the increase of anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate and the potential impact on the safety of Pride events." In the Ontario township of Norwich, lawmakers voted not to fly the Pride flag on municipal property. Meanwhile, Niagara police said Wednesday (2023-05-31) officers are investigating after a Pride flag at Trinity United Church in Lincoln, Ontario, was cut down from a flag post and ripped up on 2023-05-27. "The investigation is being treated as potentially a hate-based incident,"

    [toggle] Niagara Catholic school board trustee denies comparing Pride flag to Nazi flag

    • (CBC.ca, 2023-06-02) Niagara Catholic school board trustee denies comparing Pride flag to Nazi flag. Regional councillor Laura Ip said trustee Natalia Benoit is sending a "dangerous message."

      Natalia Benoit declined an interview but told CBC Hamilton in an email on Thursday (2023-06-01) she wasn't comparing the Pride flag to the Nazi flag. "In response to a question about what flags should not be flown, my answer does not include the Pride flag," Natalia Benoit said her comments came after she presented a motion to only fly national, provincial, school board and Catholic flags.

      • Natalia Benoit said "Inclusivity in a Catholic school board will only truly begin when we uphold the teachings of our faith through Jesus Christ and focus only on education." However, when CBC Hamilton asked Natalia Benoit to describe exactly what Jesus Christ said in the bible about homosexuality, Natalia Benoit refused, saying only "I will not when sacred scripture speaks for itself."

      • Asked about how flying the Pride flag creates an unsafe environment or promotes hate, Natalia Benoit said Catholics should be allowed to practice their faith "without any confusion." "The students that hold deeply held religious beliefs, they are the ones who experience an unsafe environment too," Natalia Benoit said. "The cross is more than enough to let everyone know they are welcomed." Natalia Benoit added schools should be a place "where children are focused on learning and not a place for intolerance toward children of Catholic faith.".

      • Natalia Benoit also took issue with comments from a regional councillor. Natalia Benoit didn't specify which councillor, but regional councillor Laura Ip previously tweeted about Natalia Benoit's motion. Laura Ip said in a tweet on 2023-05-25 not flying the Pride flag would "send a harmful and, in fact, dangerous message that queer kids are not welcome and do not belong in the Niagara Catholic District School Board community."

[toggle] New Brunswick
    [toggle] New Brunswick provincial legislation: [2023 review of] Policy 713
    [toggle] Background: Policy 713

    Policy 713, also called the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy, is an education policy serving the province of New Brunswick, Canada, that sets minimum requirements for public schools and districts in the province to ensure a safe educational environment for individuals identifying and perceived as LGBTQIA2S+.

    • The policy, established under the province's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, requires school personnel to respect students' pronouns and chosen names, requires each school to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom, and requires schools to provide professional learning opportunities for school personnel to understand and support the needs of LGBTQI2S+ students. The policy also ensures that the establishment of a Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club and any events or activities organized by such a club will be supported by school personnel and principals, with parental consent not being a requirement to join.

    • In 2023-05 the policy was subject to controversy after the government announced it was being placed under review due to "concerns and misunderstandings of its implementation" as well as "hundreds of complaints from parents and teachers," as later claimed by department minister Bill Hogan, who, despite this claim, failed to provide evidence.

    • According to an investigation published by New Brunswick Child, Youth and Seniors' Advocate Kelly Lamrock, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has discovered no written complaints about the Policy made by teachers or students. Lamrock also noted that he was only shown four emails by the department containing complaints made by parents regarding the situation: one from the father of a trans child, who mentioned wanting the policy strengthened, and three that, according to Lamrock, lacked credibility.

    • The review of the policy has sparked concern from the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, as well as a parent of a transgender high school student who argues that the policy allows students like his child "a public setting where they are affirmed as the gender they are and they don't have to hide." A rally was held at the New Brunswick legislature on 2023-05-13 attracting around 350 protesters demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the policy review. On 2023-05 15, another protest was held at King's Square in the city of Saint John, where hundreds of people, mostly high-school students from the Saint John, Harbour View, St. Malachy's Memorial, and Simonds high schools, attended to protest the review. On 2023-05-17, a protest was carried out by about 60 Riverview High School students. On 2023-05-19, hundreds of students from Kennebecasis Valley High School and Rothesay High School staged a walkout and rally at the Quispamsis Town Hall in support of the policy and to further protest against the review.

    [toggle] Gender-neutral washrooms under microscope as N.B. expands school policy review

    • (CBC.ca,2023-05-26) Gender-neutral washrooms under microscope as N.B. expands school policy review. LGBTQ-protection policy says schools should have at least 1 universal washroom.

      • The controversial review of a New Brunswick school policy that guarantees basic protection for LGBTQ students has recently been expanded to include a section on washroom access, an issue also addressed in Canadian federal human rights law. New Brunswick Education Minister Bill Hogan says the review of Policy 713 will consider issues such as how to have gender-neutral washrooms in schools with infrastructure challenges and whether the policy affects the rights of students who aren't transgender. "We want to talk about the rights of female students and whether or not they're comfortable going into a washroom with a biological male," Bill Hogan told Information Morning Fredericton.

      • Bill Hogan's plan to explore these questions comes about six years after the federal Human Rights Act made it a violation to stop a person from using a gendered washroom, or to limit access to one because of a person's perceived anatomy. Going against that legislation would require demonstrating a real safety threat, said Wayne MacKay, professor emeritus at Schulich school of law at Dalhousie University.

      • Bill Hogan has not said publicly how he wants to address his concerns, what the possible outcomes of the review would be, and what would change, if anything, about the wording within Policy 713.

      • Wayne MacKay said that when balancing one right and another, evidence is important. Wayne MacKay said the only way to have an exception to the right to use facilities, for the sake of female students' right to safety, is to have proof there is a real threat. "It wouldn't automatically follow from saying that they had some concerns ... You can't discriminate based on an unreasonable fear of negative consequences.

      • The Canadian federal government - in explaining the 2017 amendment to the Human Rights Act to protect gender identity and expression - said transgender people pose no threat. "Transgender and other gender-diverse Canadians already use gender-appropriate bathrooms and pose no greater threat than anyone else in doing so. They simply want to use the washroom or change room that corresponds with their lived identity."

      • Many schools in New Brunswick have gender neutral washrooms, and had them even before policy 713 was created in 2020. These washrooms are typically private, one-stall rooms. They are often used by all students because they're more private and feel safer.

      • The planned review of Policy 713 has provoked protests in New Brunswick cities and some dissent among cabinet ministers in the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative government. Seven Progressive Conservative MLAs have spoken out in support of Policy 713, some calling for more consultation. Others, like MLA Jeff Carr, said if any changes are made they should only strengthen the policy to be better at protecting LGBTQ students.

    [toggle] Minister may bar use of preferred names, pronouns in school unless parents consent

    • (CBC.ca, 2023-06-02) Minister may bar use of preferred names, pronouns in school unless parents consent. But Bill Hogan tells parent reps he has no plans to forcibly out children to possibly unaccepting parents.

      • The New Brunswick Minister of Education (Bill Hogan) has assured parents that he does not plan on making it mandatory to out children who want to use different names and pronouns in schools. Bill Hogan said what he's actually considering is preventing teachers from using the child's preferred name and pronoun until a parent consents.

      • Bill Hogan made the distinction at a meeting this week with parent school support committee chairs from all anglophone school districts, according to two committee chairs. The meeting is part of a review he's undertaking of Policy 713, which outlines basic protections for LGBTQ students.

      • Carrie Tanasichuk, committee chair at Saint Rose, an elementary school in Saint John, said the reaction to this proposal was mainly confusion, because it wasn't clear how that could be achieved. "What harms are caused by not using preferred pronouns?"

      • New Brunswick Minister of Education Bill Hogan decided to start the review on 2023-04-21. Hogan didn't publicly say exactly what sections would be reviewed until two weeks ago (curation date: 2023-06-02). The New Brunswick Teachers' Association previously said they have not been consulted on the review. The New Brunswick Teachers' Association confirmed Thursday (2023-06-01) that this is still the case.

      • The other two sections under review affirm students' rights to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, and use the washrooms that align with their gender identity.

      • "My question was more, 'Who thought this up?' Like, maybe we should be asking people that have subject-matter expertise and lived experience to come up with policy," Carrie Tanasichuk said.

      • Bill Hogan previously told CBC News the washroom section is being reviewed to ensure the "comfort" of non-trans girls sharing the washroom with "a biological male." (COMMENT: this transphobic narrative feeds the transphobic "men in women's bathrooms" / "bathroom predator" meme / myth.) The right of people to use the washroom of their choice, regardless of anatomy, has been protected by the federal and provincial Human Rights Acts since 2017.

"It's complicated ..." 😕

The preceding slides barely scratch the surface of the content indexed, categorized and studied at Persagen.com.

It's complicated. There are many actors at multiple levels spanning decades of erosion of personal rights and freedoms.



So, what is Persagen? 🤔

As mentioned (slide 2), Persagen is a curated database / search / knowledge engine,
a search for truth, knowledge and understanding:

    • To understand why the world is the way it is.

    • To identify the underlying issues, and why they exist.

    • To identify the implications of those issues.

Essentially, Persagen is a philosophy about our world and our place in it.

It's the belief that we - all of us - can live in peace, harmony and prosperity in a socially-, ecologically-, and environmentally responsible manner.

Now, and for future generations.



Tell me more! 😀

... continued in part 2 of these introductory slides, Technical introduction.