Category Archives: Election 2020

Quotes of The Day: A Double Serving of Irony

[NOTE: The Wall St. Journal is paywalled to the eyelids, so this first clip is a quote of a quote from a week ago without a link, but I’m confident it’s accurate. It was written as speculation about the fragility of the narrow incoming Republican majority (about half a dozen) that will occupy the House of Representatives as of January.

The irony here is that it’s the outgoing lame-duck Democratic majority that’s now feeling the sharp point of the Fickle Finger of Fate: Democratic Rep. Donald MacEachin of Virginia died of cancer Monday. His absence abruptly reduces Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House majority from 220 to 219, only six more than the Republicans’ 213. Continue reading Quotes of The Day: A Double Serving of Irony

The Long Read: Fox News and the Billion Dollar Lawsuit

New York Times: Defamation Suit About Election Falsehoods Puts Fox on Its Heels

The suit, filed by Dominion Voting Systems, could be one of the most consequential First Amendment cases in a generation.

The Fox News studio in Manhattan on election night in 2020. A defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems threatens a huge financial and reputational blow to Fox.

In the weeks after President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election, the Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed to have “tremendous evidence” that voter fraud was to blame. That evidence never emerged but a new culprit in a supposed scheme to rig the election did: Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election technology whose algorithms, Mr. Dobbs said, “were designed to be inaccurate.”

Maria Bartiromo, another host on the network, falsely stated that “Nancy Pelosi has an interest in this company.” Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News personality, speculated that “technical glitches” in Dominion’s software “could have affected thousands of absentee mail-in ballots.”

Those unfounded accusations are now among the dozens cited in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against the Fox Corporation, which alleges that Fox repeatedly aired false, far-fetched and exaggerated allegations about Dominion and its purported role in a plot to steal votes from Mr. Trump.

Those bogus assertions — made day after day, including allegations that Dominion was a front for the communist government in Venezuela and that its voting machines could switch votes from one candidate to another — are at the center of the libel suit, one of the most extraordinary brought against an American media company in more than a generation.

Continue reading The Long Read: Fox News and the Billion Dollar Lawsuit

New “MAGA” ad (Mothers Against Greg Abbott) Goes Viral in Texas Guv Race

Washington Post: In viral ad, doctor calls Texas governor to get permission for abortion

María Paúl – July 28, 2022
A new political ad targeting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) starts with a scene that could unfold in any hospital across the country — a doctor delivering gutting news to an expectant couple: “Your baby has a catastrophic brain abnormality.”

If she were to make it to full term, he continues, the baby girl would die just hours after birth.

“She will suffer,” the doctor adds, before telling the tearful parents that a decision will have to be made on terminating the pregnancy — a choice that “only one person can make.”

“And that person is Greg,” the doctor explains, revealing a portrait of Abbott.
[Click here to watch the ad.]

The ad, which quickly went viral,  was released Monday by a new political action committee Mothers Against Greg Abbott criticizes Texas abortion laws. Even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Texas’s “heartbeat act” — which banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — was among the most restrictive in the country, relying on ordinary citizens to report suspected violations.

A “trigger law” banning abortions, with few exceptions, is set to take effect next month. As a result, clinics in the state have shut down, health providers are wary of providing certain medical interventions and some mothers have been left feeling “like a walking coffin” after suffering miscarriages, The Washington Post has reported.

The group’s video struck a chord nationally, garnering about 7 million views across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube within three days of its release.

A spokesperson for Abbott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post early Thursday. The Mothers Against Greg Abbott political action committee released another ad earlier this month criticizing Texas policies on guns, the pandemic and education. The group says it includes mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts and grandparents “ready to fight” for change in their state.

The abortion ad mixes distress with dark humor, positing that reproductive health choices in Texas are now up to the state, leaving the parents-to-be utterly confused.

“Greg?” the woman in the ad says. Who’s Greg?! her partner asks, using a slightly more profane turn of phrase when the physician tells them only Greg can decide the next steps.

Then the doctor, wielding a red phone with a direct line to Abbott, has a brief conversation with the governor. With a shrug, the doctor proceeds to tell the parents: “Yeah, that’s going to be a no. Best of luck to you.”

The ad ends with a close-up of the stunned couple and a question splashed on the screen: “Whose choice should it be?”

Though sardonic in essence, the scene portrayed in the ad rings true  with some doctors. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and New York Times contributor, posted when sharing the video that she once called a state legislator for permission to perform an abortion in the 1990s.

“This is not a hypothetical people,” she added.

Since it was released, some candidates have cited the ad to persuade Texans to vote for Democrats who support abortion rights. Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Abbott in what polls suggest is a tightening gubernatorial race, says he’ll “fight for Texas women to have the freedom to decide what is best for their health, family, and future.”

Still, others have called the video “poorly executed,” including one woman who received a terminal diagnosis when pregnant but chose to carry to term. “I’m left wondering if whoever wrote it has ever experienced a fatal diagnosis. And if they did, was their doctor this callous?” the woman shared on Twitter.

In response, Chelsea Aldrich, the video’s director, said the clip was based on the “real story about another real mother who chose to terminate.”

“This is not a judgment on any woman’s choice. It’s a referendum on lack of choice,” Aldrich wrote.

Broken Churches, Broken Nation (Again?)

“History doesn’t repeat,” Mark Twain supposedly said, “but sometimes it rhymes.”

Are the conflicts within so many American churches over LGBTQ and associated issues part of some cruel karmic sonnet?

The Separation Generation’s three volumes approach this question in prose, by chronicling disruptions among five American Yearly Meetings extending roughly from 2011 to 2018 (along with sketches of some precursor struggles). This wave of division was likely the most damaging to Quakerism since the “Great Separation” of 1827.

In a larger cultural/political context, this period roughly parallels the era of the Religious Right, the Tea Party ascendancy among Congressional Republicans, and then a successful insurgent presidential campaign followed by a highly disruptive administration, culminating in a violent insurrection at the Capitol in January 2021.

Also in the background is the 2015 landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-gender marriage nationwide, but did not end the conflicts over that or related issues.

It’s hard to draw direct connections from these notable outside events to the specific disagreements among Quakers. In Quaker worship, Quaker business process and other contexts, we’re supposed to be listening to God speaking through the Light of Christ in each of us. Thus one would (in theory) not necessarily expect to find direct influences from the broader culture, as Quakers seek to commune with and to learn from a God that presumably transcends culture.

That’s the theory. In practice, as we gain more distance from these momentous events, evidence of such broader influences becomes clearer. We eagerly await further insight from Quaker memoirs, scholarly research and blog posts from those who have been most involved in this often difficult and Quaker-world-changing series of events. Continue reading Broken Churches, Broken Nation (Again?)

Quakers: From Peace to Civil War (Again?)

Since January 6, 2021, many American Quakers (& others) have waited anxiously to see whether a new civil war is soon to break out. As the first anniversary of the attempted coup approaches, the question of what Quakers can or should do in response to such a calamity lingers, as well it should.

I don’t have answers to that question. Or rather, there is in fact a surplus of answers, and sorting them out is “above my pay grade.” But I have studied how Quakers faced the (first?) U. S. Civil War. And these studies have been both reassuring and challenging, Perhaps they are worth reviewing briefly.

With the coming of the Civil War, a great many young Quakers felt themselves faced with a dilemma that was stated as well by Abraham Lincoln as by anyone:

“Your people–the Friends” he wrote to a Quaker minister, “–have had, and are having, a very great trial. On principle, and faith, opposed to both war and oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn, and some the other.”

To be sure, Lincoln was a politician, skillfully framing the choice in a way biased toward the war he was waging as the “only” way to “practically” end slavery.

But even Friends who declined to join accepted the binary formulation. And once fighting began, pro-war propaganda was relentless. Here’s a sample I just discovered. It’s a popular song, “A Quaker Letter to Lincoln,” from 1863: Continue reading Quakers: From Peace to Civil War (Again?)