MINNEAPOLIS — Odds are Bobby Marshall is the greatest football player, the most distinguished Minnesotan and the most multifaceted Black pioneer you’ve never heard of.As the first full century of NFL games officially faded into the history books this past week, today’s players look forward to a future in which their voices can impact social justice. But it’s also important, leaders say, to look back and honor the backs upon which today’s opportunities were built.“It’s amazing to me what those guys went through to give us the opportunities we have today,” said Vikings co-defensive coordinator A...
On Friday, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that a Republican member of the state assembly, Rep. Elijah Behnke, was caught on video telling a room of visitors to his Capitol office that they need to "cheat like the Democrats do" to win elections — and fantasized about assaulting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
"So I'm encouraging people, right, that have the passion and power to be here as the grassroots — let's cheat like the Democrats do," said Behnke. "This is how they bend the rules, right? Because we got the drop boxes probably thrown out, but that doesn't mean — because Zuckerberg spent all that money, got all the volunteers, which is a lie in itself, they're paid, to go collect them."
He then went into a rant about COVID-19 safety measures, saying, "I was so pissed off with Tony Evers, I was like praying to God, like, if I get to see him, I'm going to punch him." And he referred to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, as a "swamp creature."
"The video was posted the same day that Vos and Republican leadership stripped Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, of a staff member for spreading a false claim that Vos had signed a deal with former Hillary Clinton lawyers to authorize ballot drop boxes," reported Alexander Shur. "Ramthun also has been an outspoken promoter of false claims about the 2020 election. The visitors in the video appear to be staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump's false election claims that the election was stolen. President Joe Biden won the election in Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes."
Wisconsin State Rep. Elijah Behnke (R), in video that appears to be taken at the end of Thursday\u2019s Assembly meeting, tells a group of visitors that in the upcoming elections, \u201cI\u2019m encouraging people \u2026 let\u2019s cheat like Democrats do.\u201d He also threatens to punch Gov. Tony Evers.pic.twitter.com/VoWAEh8hyA— Heartland Signal (@Heartland Signal) 1642798731
A Republican congressional candidate from Alaska finally conceded that former president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election on Friday — but not until after being asked the question no fewer than four times by CNN host Alisyn Camerota.
Camerota was following up on a story about another candidate for Alaska's only House seat, Greg Brelsford, who recently left the GOP to become an Independent, citing "attacks on democracy."
On Friday, she interviewed GOP candidate Randy Purham.
"So you heard one of your opponents, who was saying that basically he's tired of all the re-litigating of Donald Trump's election loss," Camerota told Purham. "Are you one of the Republicans he was speaking of who believes Donald Trump did not lose the 2020 presidential election?"
"I'm not going to say that he did not lose, but we realize there are some irregularities with the election," Purham responded, before Camerota cut him off.
"Just to be clear, do you think he lost?" the host said.
"Marginally," Purham responded.
"But you believe that Donald Trump lost the election, and Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States?"
"To a degree," Purham said.
"Why is that so hard to answer?" Camerota asked.
"It's not hard to answer," Purham responded. "There's a lot of issues that we've seen with the election, and we see how things are turning out right now with this administration, so —"
"But that's different, Mr. Purham," Camerota said, again cutting him off. "That's different if you don't like certain policies in the administration, it's different than whether or not you can say definitively that Donald Trump lost and Joe Biden won."
"I can, and I have," Durham said, finally appearing to acknowledge Trump's defeat.
It takes multiple questions to get the Republican candidate to say definitively that Biden won: \nQuestion: Do you think he lost?\nParham: Marginally\nQuestion: But you believe Trump lost and Biden is the rightful President \nParham: To a degreepic.twitter.com/iGuX6P6Yeq— Acyn (@Acyn) 1642798365
Friday is the misleadingly named "March for Life," an annual event where the anti-choice brigade descends on Washington D.C. to march, speechify and party for the cause of forcing childbirth as punishment for sex. Anti-choicers are the OGs of right-wing trolling, which is why Friday's marchers are willing to brave the grim winter weather just to attach their misogynist march to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This year's theme — "Equality Begins in the Womb" — is an even nastier troll, hijacking the language of social justice while fighting to deprive every human with a uterus of their basic human rights.
Trolls being trolls, of course, the marchers are no doubt be especially giddy this year, as nearly every legal expert believes this will be the year that the Supreme Court, with its three Donald Trump appointees, overturns Roe. So expect lots of sanctimonious speeches praising the Republican justices for their supposedly "pro-life" ways and waxing poetic about how the GOP supposedly stands for "life." But remember that this empty posturing was always trollish nonsense from a party that opposes universal health care. It's especially grim in the face of the ongoing GOP war on the COVID-19 vaccine and their efforts to prolong the pandemic, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of lives are lost in the process.
After all, it was just last week that these supposedly "pro-life" justices nullified President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate on private employers. The ranks of those turning out for the March for Life are flush with people who have spent the last year discouraging vaccination and fighting every effort by the Biden administration to vaccinate Americans. In turn, more Americans died of COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020, despite the introduction of vaccines that dramatically reduce the chance of dying of the disease. This remains true even in the face of the highly contagious omicron variant, as evidence collected by New York City's health department shows.
The March for Life itself appears to be taking a carefully neutral stance on the matter of vaccination, but dig even an inch deeper, and it becomes clear how central the supposed "pro-life" movement has been to the right's anti-vaccination campaign and so many unnecessary deaths.
Lifesitenews, the pre-eminent anti-abortion website that provides live coverage of the March for Life, is absolutely blanketed with vaccine disinformation. On the front page alone is a false story claiming the vaccine is dangerous for children, another false story claiming that the vaccine causes miscarriages, and multiple stories celebrating anti-vaxxers and fear-mongering about vaccine mandates.
Multiple speakers scheduled for this "pro-life" rally have also stood against life-saving mandates and other efforts to slow the death rate from COVID-19.
Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Kristen Waggoner has repeatedly spoken out against vaccine mandates as "unlawful" and claimed (falsely) that they will lead to massive staffing shortages. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., pushed for a law to block Biden's vaccine mandate, calling it "overreach of federal authority, unconstitutional, and disrespect Americans' rights." And while the top-billed speaker — has-been actor Kirk Cameron — has been largely silent about vaccines, he repeatedly had trolling events to protest temporary lockdowns meant to prevent the spread of the disease pre-vaccine.
The list of March for Life sponsors is a similar murder's row of anti-vaccine groups.
The Thomas More Society has been offering legal support for people trying to evade vaccine mandates. The Heritage Foundation filed a brief with the Supreme Court demanding an end to Biden's vaccine mandate. Concerned Women for America declared vaccines an "outright violation of Americans' civil liberties."
It's easy to call these people hypocrites. After all, to protect the "lives" of mindless embryos, they want to force women to lose jobs and educational opportunities, be trapped in abusive relationships, and give their bodies over to the lengthy and often downright dangerous process of childbearing. But when it comes to ending a pandemic that is killing over a thousand Americans — real people, with minds and desires and loved ones — a small shot and a day off work to recover is treated as a bridge too far. To call them "hypocrites," however, is to assume that their posturing about "life" ever had any validity to it whatsoever. It never has.
On the contrary, there's a dark consistency between the anti-vaccination and anti-choice worldviews. Both are hostile to preventive health care, especially in light of the anti-choice movement's turn in recent years towards fighting contraception access. And, despite anti-vaccine conservatives trolling by stealing the "my body, my choice" language, their opposition to vaccines is very much a strike against bodily autonomy rights. Ultimately, they're claiming a "right" to spread COVID wherever they want and to violate the basic right of others to go to work, to the store, or anywhere else without an undue threat of contagious disease.
And both are wholly intertwined with the GOP's authoritarianism.
The deliberate stoking of the pandemic by right-wing forces has ultimately been about — and very successful at — sabotaging Biden's presidency by eroding his ability to fight the pandemic. That's not about "life." If anything, there appears to be no limit to the number of lives, even Republican lives, that Republicans are happy to sacrifice to undermine Biden. As with everything on the right, it's about power: The power to force pregnancy on others, the power to force COVID-19 on others, and ultimately, the power to force Republican control on an American population that rejects them.
The anti-choice movement has always been the vanguard of American authoritarianism, and now their sadistic and power-hungry worldview has taken over the entire Republican Party. The relationship between the anti-choice ideology and the pro-COVID one is just the latest troubling indicator of where this is all headed.