To give you a general idea of how pervasive and dangerous the smartphone culture is in America, the top-selling Apple iPhone smartphone app in America is Pokémon GO, an augmented reality smartphone game that encourages people to violate private property laws by invading private property to catch Pokémon characters that exist in the game, but not in real life.
Pokémon GO and other augmented reality games set a dangerous precedent for private property rights in America.
The makers of Pokémon GO, Niantic, have a clear goal in mind with their game: violate the private property rights of Americans, then convince politicians to repeal private property rights to benefit players of the game. Private property rights are as American as apple pie and Chevrolet, and it would be a travesty if it private property rights were eroded with the same tactics that ridesharing services like Über and Lyft have used to erode local control over public transportation matters.
I call for Congress and state legislatures to ban augmented reality games.
The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.
Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.
The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.
Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.
In response to the recent release of heavily-edited videos by a right-wing smear group as part of a political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to enact an outright ban on the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research.
Make no mistake about it, banning fetal tissue from being used in medical research would be disastrous, not just for Wisconsin, but the entire country. Not only would Wisconsin lose jobs if this legislation were to be enacted, the entire country would lose out on research, conducted by the University of Wisconsin System, that seeks to find cures for serious ailments like Parkinson’s disease, heart defects, various forms of cancer, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. This would make it far more difficult for researchers to find cures for serious ailments that affect millions of people in this country. I don’t think that there are any colleges or universities outside of Wisconsin that do medical research with fetal tissue, but I could be wrong about that.
The right-wing political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood and other pro-women groups is incredibly short-sighted. In Wisconsin, the right-wing witchhunt against Planned Parenthood has officially turned into a full-on attack against sick people and medical research.
Wisconsin has become the second state to ban public employees from talking about climate change, when the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (Wisconsin BCPL) voted 2-1 along partisan lines to ban Wisconsin BCPL employees from talking about climate change. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk and Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans, voted for the measure, while Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat, voted against it. Currently and as far as I know, Wisconsin’s climate change gag order only applies to Wisconsin BCPL employees.
This is clearly an attempt to gag Wisconsin BCPL Executive Director Julia Nelson, whose father, Former Democratic U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, came up with the idea for Earth Day. Apparently, Adamczyk and Schimel have not read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which gives Nelson and everybody else in this country free speech rights. Furthermore, Adamczyk and Schimel apparently think that the Wisconsin BCPL is their plantation where they can control every single aspect of Nelson’s life. Adamczyk and Schimel are clearly violating Nelson’s First Amendment right to free speech, and that is highly unacceptable.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to shut me up when it comes to climate change. Recent climate change, caused primarily, if not exclusively, by human activities like pollution, has already had a major negative impact on this country. For example, global climate change has either led to, or made worse, California’s ongoing drought and flooding in coastal areas caused by rising sea levels.
Early this morning, I published a satirical April Fools blog post about Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature wanting to legally ban curling in Wisconsin. In reality, Wisconsin Republicans currently have no intention of banning curling in the Badger State, so curling is safe in Wisconsin, at least for now.
However, my April Fools blog post has received an unusually large amount of attention for a small-time blog like The Progressive Midwesterner. In fact, my April Fools post has received, by far, the most attention of any blog post I’ve written in this blog’s history. My April Fools post has received over 4,000 page views, has been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook, and has even received international attention via a favorable review of my post in an online article by Yahoo! Sports Canada. Don Landry, the author of the Yahoo! Sports Canada piece on curling-related April Fools jokes, wrote that I did a “nice job” with my April Fools post, and he also praised me for “densifying it with the kind of paragraph you’d expect to see in a typical legislative story and the interest groups involved in its debate”.
The Progressive Midwesterner will resume its normal operation of providing commentary on actual political and non-political happenings in Illinois, Wisconsin, and elsewhere tomorrow.
With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:
- Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
- Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
- Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
- Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
- Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
- Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
- Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
- Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
- Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
- Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
- Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
- Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
- Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
- Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women
Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.
Chuck Todd, the right-wing beltway media hack who is the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, gave supporters of the proposed personhood amendment political cover in a piece about Iowa Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst:
In a profile of Iowa Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Joni Ernst, NBC host Chuck Todd asserted over the weekend that a so-called “personhood” amendment that she supported would protect “unborn human beings.”
On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, Todd visited Iowa and noted that the winner of the race would likely decide control of the U.S. Senate.
“Ernst hopes to benefit from the fact that her first name isn’t congressman,” Todd explained. “But what could be holding her back—in what is clearly an anti-Washington year—is some of her very conservative positions, including something called personhood which in some cases would grant all unborn human beings with equal protections.”
The personhood amendment is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions that would legally define human life as beginning at conception. What the personhood amendment would do is take away a woman’s right to make many reproductive health decisions, including whether or not to terminate a pregnancy and whether or not to use birth control. The personhood amendment would force pregnant women to carry fetuses to term, even if an abortion were necessary to save the life of the mother. That is a downright barbaric idea.
Chuck Todd giving political cover to far-right anti-abortion zealots like Joni Ernst is yet another example of the corporate media in this country being completely in the tank for the far-right Republicans. Iowans should vote for Bruce Braley on November 4 in order to send a message to the corporate media that they’re tired of them giving political cover to far-right extremists like Joni Ernst.