Friday’s entry in our new F*ck Around And Find Out archive comes to us from Michigan.
It seems that over 700,000 Michiganders signed a petition to keep abortion legal in that state. Of course, this is exactly what the Supreme Court suggested should happen when it stripped away that right from American women, which they’d had since 1973. “Leave it to the states,” the anti-choices howled for nearly 50 years.
Of course, once the question was put on the ballot, Republican monkeyshines ensued. From Politico:
The Michigan Supreme Court’s emergency ruling overrides last week’s party-line tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers, which blocked the certification of the proposed constitutional amendment.
The two Republicans on that panel sided with conservative groups that argued spacing and formatting errors on the text canvassers presented to voters rendered the entire effort invalid.
The U.S. government will provide abortion services for the first time ever to veterans in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy puts the life of the woman at risk, even in states that have banned or restricted the practice, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Friday, Sept. 2.
The agency said in a policy document that it decided to offer abortions to veterans in response to a wave of U.S. states enacting bans and restrictions on such services since the Supreme Court ended the nationwide right to abortion in June.
The department determined that change was needed “to protect the lives and health of veterans” and the rule was meant to “avert imminent and future harm” to veterans, the document said.
When San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy received his prestigious red hat at the Vatican on Saturday, he brought to the College of Cardinals a fervent loyalty to Pope Francis that has often put him at odds with the conservative majority in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
McElroy, 68, is the only American among the 21 clerics being installed as cardinals by Francis in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was chosen over numerous higher–ranking American archbishops, including two from his home state — outspoken conservative Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops conference.
McElroy has been among the few American bishops who questioned why the conference insists on identifying abortion as its “preeminent” priority. Echoing the pope’s concerns, he has questioned why greater prominence is not given to issues such as poverty, immigration and climate change.
“The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the long–term death toll from unchecked climate change is larger and threatens the very future of humanity,” McElroy said in 2020.
The Rev. James Martin, editor–at–large of the Jesuit magazine America, described McElroy as “one of the foremost articulators in the United States not only of Pope Francis’ vision but also the vision of the Second Vatican Council and, more basically, the vision of the Gospel.”
“He has been the special champion of people on the margins, both in society and in the church,” Martin said via email. “It’s not surprising that the Holy Father would have singled him out for this honor and that he would want the future Cardinal McElroy present in the conclave that will elect the next pope.”
Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America who has been critical of many Vatican decisions under Francis’ papacy, said McElroy “often speaks from the ideological margins” and thus would be seen, in this papacy, as an appropriate candidate to be a cardinal.
“But mostly, his elevation reminds me that more senior and substantial prelates like Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Gomez have, once again, been very deliberately passed over,” Pecknold said in an email.
Among his notable stances, McElroy has been one of a minority of U.S. bishops denouncing the campaign to exclude Catholic politicians who support abortion rights from Communion.
“It will bring tremendously destructive consequences,” McElroy wrote last year. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool in political warfare. This must not happen.”
Cordileone, in contrast, said earlier this year that he would no longer allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights.
Last year McElroy was among a small group of bishops signing a statement expressing support for LGBTQ youth and denouncing the bullying often directed at them.
The bishops said LGBTQ youth attempt suicide at much higher rates, are often homeless because of families who reject them and “are the target of violent acts at alarming rates.”
“We stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you,” the statement read. “Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”
McElroy received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1975 and a master’s in history from Stanford in 1976.
He studied at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in 1985 received a theology degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. He obtained a doctorate in moral theology at the Gregorian University in Rome the following year and a doctorate in political science at Stanford in 1989.
He was ordained in 1980 and assigned to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he served in a parish before becoming personal secretary to Archbishop John Quinn. Other California parish assignments included Redwood City and San Mateo.
He became an auxiliary bishop in San Francisco in 2010. In 2015, early in Francis’ pontificate, he was named bishop of San Diego. For the past three years, he has served as president of the California bishops conference.
Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk, vicar–general for the Diocese of Orange, said McElroy’s leadership skills have been impressive.
“One thing I respect about him is that while he is confident in the positions he takes, he truly is open to hearing the take of others and engaging in a dialogue with those who have different points of view,” Doktorczyk said.
Allan Figueroa Deck, a distinguished scholar of pastoral theology at Loyola Marymount University, said McElroy’s elevation represents a “clear message” from the pope about the direction the church should move in.
McElroy “understands and takes seriously what Pope Francis means by ‘epochal change’ and the challenge of finding better models, a more effective and inclusive style for the Church to proceed,” Deck said via email. “He approaches hot–button issues like the pastoral care of LGBTQ persons and the abortion issue with balance and prudence.”
Conservative Catholic activist Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute has been a frequent critic of McElroy, for example condemning his strong support for the Association of United States Catholic Priests. The association is a relatively liberal group whose priorities include expanding the role of women in church leadership and creating “priestless parishes” that potentially could be overseen by laypeople as a way of countering the shortage of priests.
McElroy’s elevation “is a sign of Pope Francis’ desire to marry the Church with the world,” Hichborn said via email. “There can be little doubt that McElroy currently stands as the model for the kind of priest, bishop, and cardinal Pope Francis desires for the future of the Church.”
The Diocese of San Diego runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools and, through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego, various social service and family support organizations.
More from AP at the Vatican
Of the 20 churchmen named new cardinals in the consistory ceremony, 16 are younger than 80 and thus eligible to participate in a conclave — the ritual–shrouded, locked–door assembly of cardinals who cast paper ballots to elect a new pontiff.
The 85–year–old Francis has now named 83 of the 132 cardinals currently young enough to join a conclave. The others were appointed by the previous two popes, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose unexpected retirement in 2013 paved the way for Francis to be elected.
With the eight batches of cardinals Francis has named, prospects are boosted that whoever becomes the next pontiff will share his vision for the future of the church.
Francis reminded the cardinals of their mission, which he said includes “an openness to all peoples, to the horizons of the world, to the peripheries as yet unknown.”
Underlining Francis’ attention to those on society’s margins, among the new cardinals is Archbishop Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India. The prelate, 60, is the first member of the Dalit community, considered the lowest rung of India’s caste system, to become a cardinal.
One by one, the newest cardinals, whose red cassocks and headgear symbolizes the blood they must be prepared to shed if necessary in their mission, knelt before Francis, who placed on their head the prestigious biretta, as the three–peaked hat is known.
In choosing San Diego Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, Francis passed over U.S. churchmen leading traditionally more prestigious dioceses, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
Among the newest cardinals is Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr from Wa, Ghana, who has spoken out against LGBTQ rights. The African prelate felt ill when he arrived in Rome on Friday and was hospitalized for a heart problem, the pope told the other cardinals, asking them to pray “for this brother who should have been here.”
Asked by The Associated Press about such contrasting views among church leaders, McElroy replied that “there are always cultural differences within the life of the church as there is within in the human family. And different cultures approach these questions in different ways.”
McElroy added: “My own view is that we have an obligation in the church to make the LGBT persons feel equally welcome in the life of the church, as everyone else.” . . .
Archbishop Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, became the first cardinal from the Amazon, the vast, environmentally–vulnerable region in South America on the Argentine–born pontiff’s home continent. In remarks to The AP, Steiner expressed concern about increasing violence in the Amazon.
“But this violence was not born there, it came from outside,‘’ Steiner, 71, said. ”It is always violence related to money. Concessions, deforestation, also with the mines, also with the fishing.”
At 48, the youngest member among the cardinals’ ranks is an Italian missionary in Mongolia, where Catholics number some 1,300. Francis “knows how important it is supporting these little communities,‘’ said the new cardinal, Giorgio Marengo.
Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is dropping more hints about a potential run for governor in 2024. And, if elected, he says he’d work to keep science and history out of some elementary school classrooms. He says he’d also seek to eliminate the State Board of Education, end abortion and work to prevent transgender people from serving in the military.
In a forthcoming memoir, Robinson explains how he drew his views from a wide range of life experiences, beginning with a troubled upbringing and a violent father. Little did he know that a fiery 2018 speech about gun rights at a Greensboro City Council meeting would set him on a journey to become the state’s top Republican executive office holder and first Black lieutenant governor.
Ahead of the midterm elections, the GOP leads in congressional preference, but Democrats catch up in enthusiasm.
August 21, 2022 — By Mark Murray
WASHINGTON — A clear majority of American voters believe that the various investigations into alleged wrongdoing by former President Donald Trump should continue, according to a national NBC News poll conducted after the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home and recovered documents marked as “top secret” earlier this month.
The poll also shows a dissatisfied public, with three-quarters of voters saying the county is headed in the wrong direction, a record 58% who say that America’s best years are behind it and 61% who say they’re willing to carry a protest sign for a day because they’re so upset.
And it paints a mixed picture of the 2022 midterm landscape, with President Joe Biden’s job rating mired in the low 40s, and with Republicans narrowly leading on congressional preference — but with Democrats nearly tying Republicans on voter enthusiasm — and with “threats to democracy” overtaking the cost of living as the top issue facing the country for voters.
“Politically, for Joe Biden and Democrats, the news is not all bad,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.
“Heading into Labor Day, the political dynamics could be worse [for Democrats], but they also need to get a lot better and fast,” he said.
McInturff, the GOP pollster, agrees that the environment has improved for Democrats since earlier this year. But he argues that the main fundamentals — the president’s job rating, the nation’s direction — are breaking against the party.
“America is singing the blues, and that is bad news for the blue team in November,” McInturff said.
The NBC News poll was conducted Aug. 12-16, during and after a tumultuous period for Donald Trump — when the FBI searched the former president’s Florida home, when Trump attorney and ally Rudy Giuliani revealed he is a “target” in the probe of alleged election interference in Georgia, and as a former Trump business executive pleaded guilty for tax fraud.
According to the survey, 57% of registered voters say that the investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Trump should continue, while 40% say they should stop.
By party, 92% of Democratic voters, 61% of independents but only 21% of Republican voters think the investigations into Trump should continue.
While all voters who prefer the investigations continue rather than stop lead by 17 points, the margin holding Trump responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is much smaller.
A combined 50% of voters say Trump is solely or mainly responsible for Jan. 6 — up 5 points since the May NBC News poll, before the House committee investigating the attack began holding multiple televised hearings.
That’s compared with a combined 49% saying Trump is only somewhat responsible or not responsible at all for Jan. 6, which is down 6 points from May.
Biden’s job rating remains in the low forties
The poll was also conducted after a strong stretch for President Biden, which included Congress passing climate and health care legislation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that 528,000 jobs had been created last month.
But the survey doesn’t show a significant improvement in the president’s standing, with 42% of registered voters approving of Biden’s job performance and 55% disapproving.
In May, Biden’s job approval stood at 42% among registered voters and 39% among all adults.
The president enjoys his highest approval rating among Democrats (79%), Black voters (68%), urban residents (50%) and women (47%), while he has some of his lowest ratings among Latinos (40%), men (36%), those 18-34 (36%), rural residents (21%) and Republicans (7%).
On the issues, 40% approve of Biden’s handling of the economy (up 7 points among adults in May), and 39% give him a thumbs-up on foreign policy (down 3 points among adults).
Looking ahead to November’s midterm elections, 47% of registered voters prefer Republicans winning control of Congress, while 45% want Democrats in charge.
In May’s poll, the parties were tied on this question: 46%-46%.
Democrats close the enthusiasm gap
Despite Biden’s approval rating and the GOP’s lead in congressional preference (albeit within the poll’s margin of error), the NBC News survey shows an improvement for Democrats since earlier this year.
For one thing, Democrats have closed the enthusiasm gap.
According to the survey, 68% of Republicans express a high level of interest in the upcoming election — registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale — versus 66% for Democrats.
That 2-point GOP advantage is down from 17 points in March and 8 points in May.
The pollsters who conducted the survey attribute the increased Democratic enthusiasm to the June Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“The Supreme Court ruling has shaken up the electorate,” said Horwitt, the Democratic pollster.
Indeed, the poll finds that 58% of voters disapprove of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to an abortion, compared with 38% who approve.
And the poll finds that “threats to democracy” has overtaken the “cost of living” as the most important issue facing the country, and that the climate and health care legislation Biden signed into law last week is more popular than unpopular (42% call it a good idea, while 31% say it is a bad idea).
Upset enough to carry a protest sign for an entire day
But hovering over the entire poll is a deep dissatisfaction from the American public.
Three-quarters of voters — 74% — say the country is headed in the wrong direction, representing the fifth-straight NBC News survey showing this number in the 70s.
Additionally, 58% believe America’s best days are behind it, which is the highest percentage on this question dating back to 1990.
Another 68% of voters think the United States is currently in an economic recession.
And six in 10 — 61% — say they’re so upset by something that they’re willing to carry a protest sign for an entire day.
Asked what their protest sign would say, the top responses among Democratic voters are “Women’s rights,” “Equal rights,” “Prosecute Trump” and “Abortion rights.”
And the top responses among Republican voters are “Impeach Biden,” “Protect our freedom,” “Protect 2nd Amendment,” and “Stop Democrats.”
The NBC News poll was conducted Aug. 12-16 of 1,000 registered voters — including 750 reached by cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, has called out the Republican Party as extremist and dangerous, on an unprecedented level.
Hayden was responding Wednesday to an Aug. 11 tweet by the British journalist and author Edward Luce, who had said: “I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous & contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close.”
Luce is the chief U.S. commentator for the Financial Times.
“I agree. And I was the CIA Director,” Hayden responded via quote-tweet.
The tweet sparked immediate debate online, and drew more than 35,000 “likes” in its first three hours.
Hayden, a retired Air Force general who was named director of the NSA during the Clinton administration and was then tapped as CIA director by President George W. Bush, was among five former top military officials who penned a USA Today op-ed last month warning that American democracy “is in real peril” following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection and by the manner in which the Republican Party has embraced conspiracy theorists, 2020 election deniers and extremist elements.
Also see: Trump lost — 2020 election wasn’t stolen, group of ultraprominent conservatives says
“For those of us focused on domestic security, the forces of autocracy now trump traditional foreign threats, hands down,” the former military officials wrote, citing a study earlier this year that found one in three Americans believe violence against the government could be justified.
A number of prominent Republicans have also gone on record decrying the state of the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s ongoing influence over it. On Wednesday, Rep. Liz Cheney — who lost her Wyoming Republican primary Tuesday after vigorously opposing Trump — vowed to fight to prevent Trump from becoming president again.
“I am absolutely going to continue this battle,” she told NBC News. “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in, and I think it’s certainly the most important thing, challenge, that our nation has faced in recent history, and maybe since the Civil War. And it’s one that we must win.”
Separately, former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday pleaded with fellow Republicans to tone down their rhetoric against the FBI following last week’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
Law-enforcement officials have warned in recent days that angry words from Trump and his allies are putting agents, officers and federal employees at risk. Violent rhetoric may have contributed to at least two deadly encounters involving law enforcement over the past week.
Fresh off her Kansas victory, Rachel Sweet heads to Kentucky to fight an antiabortion ballot measure
Kansas voters surprised everyone when they overwhelmingly rejected an antiabortion ballot measure earlier this month.
Now Rachel Sweet, the campaign manager behind that abortion rights victory in Kansas, has been hired to lead a similar effort in Kentucky, The Health 202 has learned.
Sweet is fresh off her victory in Kansas, where nearly 59 percent of voters in the conservative state defeated an attempt to strip abortion protections from the state constitution. While several states have abortion measures on the ballot in November, Kentucky is the only one where residents will weigh in on a similar measure to explicitly state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to an abortion.