Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016



Hillary Clinton’s Debate Answer on Abortion Is Why We Need More Women in Politics


Finally, for the first time in their presidential debates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off on abortion on Wednesday night.

As one would expect from a candidate who’s not quite sure what he thinks about the procedure, Trump stumbled over his response. He claimed he’d nominate pro-life justices to the Supreme Court but refused to say whether he’d wish to overturn Roe v. Wade.

And as one would expect from a candidate who’s spent her career speaking about women's health, Clinton delivered an impassioned defense of the right to reproductive autonomy. “I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women's rights to make their own health care decisions,” she said.

When moderator Chris Wallace pressed her on “how far” she’d take abortion rights when it comes to late-term procedures, Clinton explained why she voted against a ban on late-term abortions. “I have met with women who have, toward the end of their pregnancy, get worst news one can get,” she said. “That their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term. Or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

In other words, if a woman finds out at 32 weeks’ gestation that her fetus has a fatal defect and won’t be able to survive once it’s born, she shouldn’t be forced to endure the trauma of carrying that fetus to term. Right-wing politicians in Poland nearly proposed banning abortions in all cases in recent weeks; countrywide protests spurred by the specter of mandated pregnancy even in horrific circumstances forced the conservatives to retreat, for the most part.

Trump, meanwhile, seemed to confuse partial-birth abortions with Cesarean sections. “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that is OK, and Hillary can say that that is OK, but it’s not OK with me,” he said. This is not how any abortion procedure works. Trump’s frightening explanation highlights why it makes more sense for women to make medical decisions with their doctors, rather...

Hillary Clinton hides behind ‘health’ of the mother, defends partial-birth abortion in final debate


Hillary Clinton defended the practice of partial-birth abortion in the final presidential debate on Wednesday, obscuring her belief that appeals to the “health” of the mother would make any abortion legal at any point during a pregnancy.

Asked to defend her vote in the Senate against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which was ultimately enacted, Mrs. Clinton said she was not convinced the legislation did enough to protect the “life and health of the mother.”

“This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make, and I do not believe the government should be making it,” she said.

When asked by moderator Chris Wallace “how far you believe the right to abortion goes,” Mrs. Clinton failed to mention any specific limits on abortion she would support. Instead, she said regulations on abortion are permissible so long as “you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.”

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association, said abortion at every stage of pregnancy can be justified by appealing to the “health” of the mother due to the Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of that term.

Citing the highest court’s 1973 decision in Doe v. Bolton, the lesser-known companion case to Roe v. Wade, she saidMrs. Clinton “knows full well has been defined by the Supreme Court to include ‘all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient.’”

“‘Health’ is a legal loophole you can drive a truck through,” Ms. Ferguson said in a statement.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump jumped on Mrs. Clinton’s support of partial-birth abortion during the debate.

“Well, I think it’s terrible,” Mr. Trump said. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month [of pregnancy], you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”

Mrs. Clinton said her opponent was using “scare rhetoric” in describing partial-birth abortion.

“Well, that is not what happens in these cases, and using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate,” she said.

A chorus of liberal commentators later weighed in on the...


GOP Platform Calls For Reinstatement Of Glass-Steagall Because Logic Is Dead


Donald Trump just threw out decades of conservative economic orthodoxy in one paragraph…but did you see that smoke machine?

On a day characterized by a very boring floor protest, Scott Baio, a frothy-mouthed former mayor who didn’t know what do with his hands and a Slovenian model doing some Michelle Obama covers, the GOP managed to somehow keep its own platform far from the forefront of its own convention. Which makes some sense when you realize that one part of it reads like Trump wrote it with Elizabeth Warren while they got stoned in Bernie Sanders’ sweat lodge.

In a portion of the platform entitled “Regulation: The Quiet Tyranny,” the writers provide us with a paragraph that starts off normally but ends with a bizarre about-face that must be read to be believed:

The Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla, is crushing small and community banks and other lenders. The Federal Communications Commission is imperiling the freedom of the internet. We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.

No, we don’t know how the FCC got shoehorned into there either, but you’re missing the point. The Republican party platform is officially calling for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

It’s the political regulatory equivalent of Freaky Friday.

Sure, it’s an objectively cunning parry to outflank Hillary on her left, hammering heragain on those Wall Street ties while simultaneously calling attention to a piece of legislation that her husband repealed while he was in the Oval Office. This tactic could even be considered brilliant if it wasn’t what Bernie Sanders did every day for more than a year, and/or it didn’t go against the most basic philosophy of GOP regulatory policy.

But that’s just politics. It doesn’t even address how dumb the idea is on its face.

Glass-Steagall was written in 1933 and rendered efficaciously obsolete not much later. The interpretation of it acted like a bulwark against a lot of chicanery for many years, but we all remember that Citibank treated it like the Knicks defense when it acquired Salomon Smith Barney in 1998.

Pointing to what happened after Bill Clinton burned it in 1999, and then bringing up Hillary’s paid Goldman Sachs speeches is, like we said, very good politics, but it’s a long leap to say that reinstating...

Don’t Be Fooled By The Republicans’ Call To Reinstate Glass-Steagall


Republicans made some news with the release of their party platform on Monday: the new document contains a call to reinstate a Depression-era law that cracked down on banks, whose repeal has often been blamed for Wall Street’s growth and recklessness in the lead up to the recession. But that line is still overshadowed by many other calls in the document — and from the party’s candidate himself — to undo financial regulations aimed at keeping bank behavior in line.

The sentence that garnered attention reads, “We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.” Glass-Steagall enforced a separation of regular commerical banking and riskier investment and insurance activities. But it was repealed in the 1990s, after which banks started to merge those activities once again, becoming larger and melding vanilla activities with risk-taking.

The Republican Party’s warming to the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall is notable because it mirrors calls on the other side of the aisle. For the first time ever, the Democratic Party platformhas also called for bringing back “an updated and modernized version” of the law. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had demanded the same thing on the trail, a call that hasalso been made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

But it is the only place of commonality between the two parties when it comes to Wall Street regulation, a place that some progressives feel has lost its importance. The rest of the Republican Party’s document goes to great lengths to disparage other existing bank regulations.

The biggest regulatory response to the financial crash of 2008 has been the enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reform package, which the Republican Party platform calls “unprecedented government control over the nation’s financial markets,” claiming, “The consequences have been bad for everyone except federal regulators.” It says that Dodd-Frank has killed jobs, increased risks, and “shackled” economic growth. “We support removing roadblocks and regulations that prevent access to capital,” it states.

The document dedicates an entire section to disparaging Dodd-Frank. And it specifically calls for either abolishing or restricting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency tasked with...


Anti-Trump Protesters Attack Democracy in San Jose


Many Donald Trump supporters are justifiably upset about these attacks—and if they are, they should look more closely at what their own candidate has said and done.

In San Jose on Thursday, a volatile crowd outside a Donald Trump rally assaulted numerous attendees. They punched a man in the face, knocking him to the ground; bloodied another man by bludgeoning the side of his head with a duffel bag; trapped a woman against a glass door, pelting her with an egg and other objects; snatched a cap off a man’s head, lighting it afire on the street soon afterward; and perpetrated other hateful acts against total strangers, with many fellow protesters cheering them on and a brave few fervently pleading for nonviolence.

The bad actors in San Jose should be arrested, prosecuted, jailed, and broadly condemned. In addition to attacking fellow human beings, they did violence to the shared right to assemble. They assaulted the American inheritance of a politics that is decided peaceably at the ballot box by the people, not in the streets through force or intimidation.

By using the preferred approach of the Donald Trump supporter who infamously sucker punched a peaceful protester, another execrable actor who ought to serve jail time for his inexcusable thuggery, San Jose’s violent anti-Trump protesters offered a reminder that beyond left and right, conservative and liberal, pro-Trump and anti-Trump, there is a broad majority of Americans who intuitively understand the peril of abiding violence in politics—who understand that it would ultimately empower the most thuggish, ruthless, impulsive sociopaths—and that it is vital to stand together on that point, now and forever after, if on nothing else.

All that would be true regardless of the horse-race implications of Thursday’s violence. It is nevertheless worth noting the likely effects of the violence. The San Jose anti-Trump protesters, like the violent anti-Trump protesters in Costa Mesa before them, more likely helped than hurt the odds of Trump being elected president.

Phone videos of Mexican flags waving as Trump supporters are attacked will fuel nativist anxieties about immigration as well as hate-group fundraising.  

White supremacists were undoubtedly smiling as they read the news.

In a week with headlines about Trump University’s shockingly unethical behavior, old footage of Trump telling a TV interviewer that he got furious at his former wife when she didn’t have dinner on the table when he got home, and the revelation that Trump failed to make good on a pledge to a veteran’s charity until the press called him on...

Protesters take to streets after Trump rally in San Jose


Protesters take to streets after Trump rally

Protesters and supporters of Donald Trump clashed in the streets of San Jose, California, Thursday night after the presumptive GOP nominee held a rally.

Protesters waved Mexican flags and one could be seen burning an American flag, with another burning Trump's "Make America Great Hat." Some chanted "F--- Donald Trump" and "Donald Trump has got to go" outside the San Jose Convention Center, where Trump held his rally.View image on Twitter

As Trump supporters exited the rally, protesters shouted insults at them and accused them of being racists.
Hillary Clinton's evisceration of Donald Trump
As the demonstrators bunched around the event, riot police pushed many of them back. A woman made it through the protesters, taunted them and waved her middle finger back to their screams. She was cornered and egged immediately.

Scuffles broke out between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators. At one point, a man was sucker-punched and knocked to the ground and police arrested his assailant. In another instance, demonstrators closed in on a Trump supporter and started punching him in the face, and a Trump protester tried to protect the man being attacked and help him and other Trump supporters move safely through the crowd.
Trump calls for Clinton to be jailed
The San Jose Police Department said they made a few arrests after the rally, but didn't provide specifics. There was no significant property damage reported but an officer was assaulted, a statement said. More details would be provided Friday.
The protesters spilled into the nearby streets, with some standing on cars. Some held signs that read, "We need socialism" and "A vote for Trump is a vote for fascism."

Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta condemned reports of violence on Twitter, writing, "Violence against supporters of any candidate has no place in this election."


Florida Supreme Court weighs death penalty law


TALLAHASSEE — Florida's death penalty law went on trial before the state Supreme Court Thursday as a death row inmate sought a reduced sentence of life without parole and the state said he should be executed.

Hanging in the balance are the lives of all 390 death row inmates as justices decide whether a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court must be applied retroactively, commuting death sentences to life.

The nation's highest court ruled Jan. 12 in the case of inmate Timothy Lee Hurst that Florida's death sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too little power to juries in capital cases.

In that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court also told the state's highest court it must review the sentence of Hurst, 37, sentenced to die for the 1998 murder of a co-worker at a fast-food restaurant in Pensacola.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not invalidate the death penalty itself.

But Hurst's attorney, David Davis, argued that because Hurst was sentenced under a defective system, he should now be sentenced to life.

"You can't separate the punishment from the procedure," Davis said. "It's sort of a symbiotic relationship. You can't have one without the other."

Assistant Attorney General Carine Mitz countered that Hurst should still be executed because the Legislature addressed the defects in the old law.

"I still don't think we have a problem," Mitz told justices.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a legislative overhaul of the death penalty sentencing law, House Bill 7101, in March.

Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente expressed concerns voiced by public defenders — that the new death penalty law, which requires the existence of only one aggravating factor to warrant an execution, might violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

"If we want a death penalty in Florida, it's got to be constitutional," Pariente said. "It's got to be narrow."

Capital punishment in Florida is facing its greatest uncertainty since it was reinstituted in the 1970s.

In the aftermath of the Hurst decision, the Florida Supreme Court indefinitely postponed the executions of Michael Lambrix and Mark Asay, whose attorneys have also urged the state court to change the two sentences to life without parole.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has identified 43 death sentences that are eligible to be reduced to life without parole.

Those 43 so-called...

Florida Supreme Court weighs unconstitutional death sentences

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday weighed the fate of a death row inmate sentenced under a scheme the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional this year, in a case that could affect nearly 400 other state inmates awaiting execution.

Executions in Florida, home to the nation's second-largest death row, have been on hold since the high court in January struck down the state's capital punishment laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court's 8-1 ruling invalidated the process by which a judge sentenced Timothy Hurst to death for the 1998 murder of a fried-chicken restaurant manager.

On Thursday, his lawyer asked the Florida Supreme Court to commute Hurst's sentence to life in prison. Assistant Public Defender David Davis said the state cannot sustain a death sentence, if the procedure for imposing it was flawed.

"There is no ambiguity," Davis said. "You can't separate the punishment from the procedure ... It's like having a bullet without a gun."

State prosecutor Carine Mitz said the ruling did not automatically reduce Hurst's sentence. She asked the court to leave him on death row, or find that he should be resentenced under new state law.

The Florida legislature retooled the state's capital punishment approach this spring, after the U.S. Supreme Court found that Florida had given judges powers that juries should wield in determining eligibility for execution.

While Hurst's attorney stressed that he did not speak for about 390 inmates currently on death row in Florida, the questions raised by the state's high court justices indicated their concern for the broader ramifications.

"We want to try to have a death penalty in this state. We want to try to do the right thing," Justice Barbara Pariente told Mitz.

Several former state Supreme Court justices and other high-profile legal experts this week filed a brief in support of mass commutation. They said state law requires that if the death penalty was declared unconstitutional, all pending sentences should become life without parole.

The state, however, contends that the death penalty was not found to be unconstitutional, only the method used to impose it.

The Hurst decision's reach is expanding. Earlier this week, the U.S. high court told the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider its sentencing scheme in light of the ruling. Delaware, which also allows judges to impose death sentences without a unanimous jury finding, is reviewing...