National wingnuts are mad. He doesn't care, because they're not from his district.
On Wednesday, a pretty remarkable thing happened in the Louisiana state Senate: The Republican chair of the Health and Welfare Committee, state Sen. Fred Mills, voted against moving a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors to the full Senate, killing the bill, at least for now. (Other Republicans are already pushing to bring the bill up for a floor vote by bypassing the committee process; more on that in a bit.) So for now at least, Louisiana is the only Southern state to to have rejected a ban on gender- affirming care. The vote gives trans kids and their families a bit of breathing room, not only in Louisiana but also in nearby states that have banned the lifesaving care that's endorsed by every major medical and pediatric professional association in the country.
Possibly even more remarkable: Mills, a pharmacist, said he decided to vote against the bill because he had paid attention to the testimony during hearings, and had read a report the Louisiana Department of Health published in March. That report reviewed Medicaid statistics between 2017 and 2021 and found there had been exactly zero surgeries for gender reassignment performed on minors in Louisiana. What's more, in the same period, very few Louisiana minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria — just 14.6 percent — received either puberty blockers or hormone therapy, and among those who did, the vast majority, more than 75 percent, were 15 to 17 years old. What's more, the report found that trans minors who did receive such care had better mental health, and that there was an extremely low rate of patients who later regretted getting the treatment — about one percent, which is lower than the two or maybe four percent regret rates for breast enhancement that we found in an extremely cursory search (we ignored the stats from law firms).
So hey, Mills decided, not exactly an issue needing the state to interfere in medical decisions made by families and their doctors.
Mills told the Louisiana Illuminator — and could we please have more newspapers with 19th Century names like that? — that the report didn't back up the wild claims made by the people wanting to ban gender-affirming care.
“My decision was really, really based on the numbers,” Mills said. “All the testimony I heard by the proponents that children are getting mutilated, I didn’t see it in the statistics.”
It was a pretty big setback for the fascist busybodies who think families and their doctors shouldn't be allowed to decide on the health care they believe is appropriate, as indy journalist Erin Reed points out. Louisiana's House had voted for the ban, House Bill 648, 71 to 27, which led to an intense effort by LGBTQ rights advocates to educate Louisiana senators about the medical data. Ultimately, though, Mills seems to have been most influenced by the report from the state health department, which Reed points out is in line with most reliable academic research, as well as the positions of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Reed adds that, up to now, the Louisiana report has gotten comparatively little attention, in contrast to a seriously sketchy 2022 report that the government of Florida commissioned in support of Florida's ban on gender-affirming care for patients on Medicaid. That Florida report claimed — against the consensus of American medical associations — that gender-affirming care is "experimental" and "harmful."
But wait, hold the fuck on: The Florida report was politically tainted garbage full of manipulated data, and was sharply criticized in a review by several healthcare researchers (and a law prof for good measure) at Yale University:
We are alarmed that Florida’s health care agency has adopted a purportedly scientific report that so blatantly violates the basic tenets of scientific inquiry. The report makes false statements and contains glaring errors regarding science, statistical methods, and medicine. Ignoring established science and longstanding, authoritative clinical guidance, the report instead relies on biased and discredited sources, including purported “expert” reports that carry no scientific weight due to lack of expertise and bias.
So repeated and fundamental are the errors in the June 2 Report that it seems clear that the report is not a serious scientific analysis but, rather, a document crafted to serve a political agenda.
Politically skewed medical "research" from Ron DeSantis's medical bureaucracy, which is presided over by antivaxxer quack Joseph Ladapo? Well fetch our salts.
Oh, and it gets worse, as Reed explains:
In a lawsuit aiming to reverse Florida's Medicaid ban, the discovery process unearthed documents from the Florida Surgeon General’s Office. These papers reveal the unambiguous objective of the research: to arrive at an outcome where "care is effectively banned."
Gee, massaging the data to force a conclusion you prefer seems to be some kind of trend in Florida's politicized healthcare bureaucracy. Whenever DeSantis is finally gone, the entire state health apparatus will need to be de-Ladapofied.
Reed also notes the report was written by members of the rightwing "American College of Pediatricians," a hate group whose name mimics that of the legitimate American Academy of Pediatrics, but which is explicitly anti-LGBTQ and endorses "conversion therapy" to torture the gay and trans out of people.
But back to Louisiana: The reaction of the anti-trans bigots has been swift. The state Republican Party — repeating the lie about "genital mutilation surgery" that the state report showed isn't happening — called for the state Senate to "override the committee vote" and to put HB 648 on the floor where it can be passed by all the sensible Rs who don't bother with facts.
If it gets that far, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, seems likely to veto the bill, but the Rs have just enough seats in the Lege to override, even if Mills voted against. But who knows? Maybe Mills has a friend or two who also know how to read!
National anti-trans bigots have also called on the Internet Flying Monkey Hate Brigade to go after Sen. Mills, as the Illuminator illuminates:
“Fred Mills has sided with the butchers and groomers,” Matt Walsh, a conservative commentator tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers. “He will regret it. This is the biggest mistake of his political career, and also the end of his career. He’s going to be infamous and disgraced by his own base. We’ll make sure of that.”
The paper notes drily that Mills is term limited, and hasn't said whether he'll seek another office when his term ends. Other prominent wingnuts have been more explicit, like some asshole named Greg Price, who told his nearly 300,000 Twitter followers to “let Senator Mills know how you feel about him single-handedly killing this bill to ban sex changes for kids” and helpfully directed them to his state Senate website for his contact details. (The phone numbers appear to only be for his office, fortunately.)
The stupidest fucking response came from one Andy Ross, the president of something calling itself the "State Freedom Caucus Network," who suggested that Mills himself must be some sort of drag performer perv, because
"This RINO Republican - Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills - once dressed in drag as a 1st grader in a TV commercial. And now he just killed the bill that would ban transgender surgeries on minors."
Sen. Mills told the Illuminator he isn't worrying about the rightwing backlash:
“Why should I?,” Mills said in an interview. [...] “They don’t live in District 22. They don’t have a 337 area code.”
“I didn’t run for office to serve those people."
“Always in my heart of hearts have I believed that a decision should be made by a patient and a physician. I believe in the physicians in Louisiana. [...] I believe in the scope of practice. I believe in the standard of care.”
Yes, we checked, and the man really is a Republican, and has a perfect score from National Right to Life, the antiabortion group. But on this bill, he saw the research and made the rational decision. And for now, trans folks in Louisiana and their families can breathe a little sigh of relief.
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Cool TN Lady Gonna Fill The Social Studies Standards With Awesome Stuff Like 'Barack Obama Did The Tornados'
Of course we've met her before, your Wonkette's on top of shit!
The Education Wars just never go away, and in today's dispatch from the front lines we'll look at Tennessee, where a rightwing conspiracy theory fan and anti-Muslim bigot has just been appointed to the committee that sets standards for the state's social studies curricula.
Yr Wonkette already introduced you last year to Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the nutball Tennessee bigot lady, when she was a member of the state textbook commission that was tasked with making sure only "age appropriate" materials were in them. You may recall that Tennessee was considering a measure that would have required state approval of every last item in the collections of school libraries; the bill's sponsor charmingly said that any materials not approved by the commission should be burned. Ultimately, the Lege settled for a different plan that gave the textbook commission the power to hear appeals of book challenges brought by parents, so the state could ban library books even after a local school board had gone through a challenge process and approved them. Hooray for compromise.
We guess that Ms. Cardoza-Moore must have either done a bang-up job on that commission, or at the very least that she has powerful friends in Tennessee, because clearly it's the latter thing. She was chosen for the Tennessee Standards Recommendation Committee by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), the slimebooger we came to know and loathe during the kangaroo court proceedings that expelled Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson in April. Sexton also appointed her to the textbook commission in 2021, which is quite the coincidence.
In her new job, Cardoza-Moore will have a say in setting state standards for social studies classes, although we suspect she'll just photocopy the course offerings at Hillsdale College and say "Done!" As Judd Legum points out in his Popular Information newsletter, Cardoza-Moore doesn't actually believe in public schools; she's homeschooled her own five kids, and she's simply horrified that US history texts teach historical facts that make America look bad, such as the fact that the Constitution provided a framework for oppression of African Americans. In a 2020 Fox News interview, she blamed Common Core, because why not? She claimed, falsely, that schools no longer teach about the founding of the US, but instead skip ahead to the Civil War and Reconstruction so they can harp on all the slavery, those monsters.
"This is an outrage," Cardoza-Moore exclaimed. "It poses the greatest national security threat to our constitutional republic."
So yeah, she's a real peach. She somehow also took issue with a textbook's factual statement that the Republican Party was originally founded to fight the spread of slavery beyond the states where it was already allowed, complaining that it was "disinformation" because Lincoln was anti-slavery, which, yeah, that's what the book said. She was mostly upset the book didn't say that Democrats were pro-slavery and KKK, and also what about that Klansman Robert Byrd, huh?
Cardoza-Moore initially made her name in Tennessee politics by fearmongering about Islam, back when that was the thing the Right was certain would destroy America, because Barack Obama was president. She led some of the most paranoid opposition to a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, claiming that fully 30 percent of Muslims are terrorists and that the mosque would be a base for "radical Islamic extremists" bent on destroying Nashville's Christian music industry.
During her 2021 confirmation hearing for her seat on the textbook commission, she explained that bad school textbooks are directly responsible for wrecking America and of course the riots that burned all cities in America to the ground in 2020, several of them more than once.
While America slept, the hearts, minds and souls of our students were being influenced by disinformation. Tragically we have seen the result over the past few months; our streets have been filled with rioting destructive American young people who have not been taught the values entrusted to us by our nation's founders ... nor have they been taught our nation's history — history which many seem intent to destroy
See, if only kids been made to memorize more facts about how George Washington was a Christian and God wrote the Constitution, there might be a few more cities still standing in our great land.
As Legum details, Cardoza-Moore doesn't seem to have met a conspiracy theory she didn't glom on to. She's said that 9/11 was an "inside job," that Donald Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election, and that January 6 was a false flag attack by "Antifa." I'm just disappointed that she doesn't appear to have said anything about chemtrails. But she came kind of close in 2011, as Legum explains, when she
claimed that former President Barack Obama was causing "horrific tornadoes" because he made a speech that discussed the plight of Palestinians. Asked if she still held these views, Cardoza-Moore did not respond.
She also runs her very own "Christian Zionist" nonprofit called "Proclaiming Justice to the Nations," which recently ran a press release on her appointment to the social studies standards job. In it, we learn that she has previously helped the Florida Department of Education screen textbooks, "a successful review effort that 'caught and corrected dozens of books to prevent political indoctrination of Florida’s children,' a spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis noted."
In the press release, Cardoza-Moore reflected on the important task ahead of her, because
"The materials we will be reviewing can only accomplish the mission of educating good American citizens if our Tennessee textbooks are devoid of left-aligned historic revisionism and the toxic material found in the antisemitic Critical Race Theory; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Social-Emotional Learning and Ethnic Studies.”
Impressive how she got all the rightwing shibboleths in there!
The statement also emphasized that Muslim groups opposed her appointment to the textbook commission, presumably because if she has the right enemies, that just shows what a great job she'll do for Tennessee students.
We can hardly wait to see what happens to Tennessee social studies standards. Haha, we kid, of course, because we read the history standards that Donald Trump's "1776 Commission" came up with, so we have a pretty good idea. Good luck, kids!
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Chris Rufo has a new red meat, it is lady meat.
Those wacky right-wing shit-stirrers at Campus Reform, the Harass-Your-Liberal-Professor site that targets college and university faculty for allegedly doing woke indoctrination, have found a whole new thing to worry about.
This week, they sent one of their "reporters" to George Mason University to interview ordinary students about the latest leftist threat in America, even though the supposed threat is nonexistent and has nothing to do with George Mason U, or even with Masons, which seems like an oversight since they secretly run everything.
So what's the new threat from The Left? According to the article, there's an "emerging movement to change the spelling of the word 'women.'" Or at least Campus Reform and a few other right-wing nutters seem to want other righties to believe there is, only in addition to the old 1970s freakout over "womyn" as an attempt by Those Crazy Feminists to erase men, there's also the ongoing freakout over transgender people, as we saw with post-Dobbs gripes any time someone wrote "pregnant people."
The only problem with this supposed "emerging movement" is that it pretty much exists only in the heads of some right-wingers. Big surprise: it's a work in progress by professional Culture War hype man Chris Rufo, who also brought us the right-wing freakout over "critical race theory" in kindergarten classes, has helped stoke the ongoing panic over trans people existing, and is some of the "brains" behind the war on drag queens.
One of Rufo's favorite tactics is to find an obscure document on a website somewhere and inflate it into a claim that some institution is officially advocating or pushing an outrageous agenda. Last fall, I detailed how Rufo blew up the existence of some ill-advised "see also" links at the very end of a slide show into a bogus claim that Chicago schools were "promoting" kinky BDSM sex toys for trans kids, which of course was utter bullshit he happily promoted to any right-wing media source that would run it.
That's exactly what's happening with the nonexistent "movement" to change the spelling of women to wimmin, too. Earlier this month, Rufo found an obscure document on a University of Texas at Austin website and shopped around a claim that he'd found evidence the university officially wants to change the entire English Language. That probably came as a huge surprise to everyone in the UT administration, because the now-deleted document (archived link), titled "Language Matters, a Glossary of Terms," was appended only to the diversity commitment page for the Financial and Administrative Services department.
As we all know, as goes the Financial and Administrative Services department at the University of Texas at Austin, so goes the nation.
And there it was, Rufo tweeted, the incriminating proof that the University of Texas is indoctrinating young people with 1970s third wave feminism, right between entries on "White Supremacy" and "Woke"! Also, we now feel a little icky knowing that, just as we do, Rufo highlights things using MS-Paint.
Please try not to be too shocked by the definition, which we'll note is descriptive, not a demand for anyone to use the term:
Wimmin: A nonstandard spelling of the word ‘women’ used by feminists to avoid the word ending in ‘-men,’
We should add that the preface (archived) to the glossary also treated the contents as a suggestion, not a mandate for language use in either the department or the university as a whole:
Having a common language for talking about and across difference is important for mutual understanding and partnership. The language of diversity is evolving and requires awareness, understanding, and skill. This glossary, though not exhaustive, is a tool to give you the words and meanings to help make conversations easier, respectful and empowering.
OMG IT'S JUST LIKE ORWELLIAN NEWSPEAK! (Yeah, of course a wingnut website called it "Orwellian")
So there's the entirety of the emerging movement to change how we spell a word: An entry in a now-deleted glossary that was on one UT department's diversity webpage. Aren't feminists crazy?
A cursory search for the first sentence of that preface turned up only a single source that wasn't right-wing media reporting on the fake outrage, a 2022 seminar for a travel industry trade show, so lord only knows where the thing really originated. We found some, but not all, of the first few definitions in the glossary of a 2020 book called "Coaching for Equity," so we suspect the document is one of those things that gets copied and passed around in diversity and management circles. Clearly we must purge DEI programs from all American institutions to prevent woke radical leftists from imposing Orwellian language codes on our children!
So anyway, here's the dumb fucking video of the Campus Reform "reporter's" trip to interview George Mason U students about what the woke language commissars are trying to do. We can only assume GMU was chosen because Fairfax was a convenient drive for the videographer or the reporter.
Big surprise, the students all thought that the University of Texas shouldn't force people to change the spelling of "women," and we have great news: It isn't actually happening and never did.
Rufo's tweet from earlier this month did get covered on Fox News, the Daily Caller, and somehow, the Austin CBS affiliate, and other weird little right-wing sites that insisted UT was forcing the change on faculty and students, so great job, well done, Chris.
If nothing else, this fuckwankery might make for a mildly interesting example of the early stages of a manufactured disinformation campaign, although who knows whether it'll actually gets any traction on the Right. Now that there's a video of a bunch of sensible college students rejecting the latest Woke Language Mandate, it might go somewhere.
Or maybe not — compared to the other moral panics being pushed in rightwing media these days, this one seems like a quaint throwback. How is anyone supposed to be moved to wave AR-15s around at school administrators over spelling?
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Trump would have shipped it all to Alabama.
The Colorado River has been in pretty desperate shape for years, as drought and climate change have led to less water making its way from the river's headwaters into the huge reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which provide water and electric power to millions of people in the West. The low water levels in both lakes have left a "bathtub ring" of white minerals showing where the former high-water level was; in Lake Mead, that ring was about 140 feet above the current level of the lake, as this pair of photos from the National Park Service shows — and the level dropped to an even lower level last fall.
Until this year's unusually snowy winter provided a brief respite — not an end to — the decades-long drought that's prevailed in the Southwest, there were worries that both lakes might soon reach "dead pool" status,meaning they would be so low that water couldn't pass through the dams and into the river below them, an ecological disaster that couldn't even be relieved by a wisecracking superhero.
Fortunately for the roughly 40 million people in seven states who get their drinking water from the Colorado River, three of the states that use the most water from the river — Arizona, California, and Nevada — have reached an agreement, with negotiation help from the Biden administration, to conserve at least three million acre-feet of water — roughly 13 percent of the water legally allotted to them — by 2026. That's a lot of water to be left in the river, as NBC News explains in one of those goofy try to visualize this crazy large amount with another crazy large amount comparisons. It's "roughly the equivalent to the amount of water it would take to fill 6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools."
An acre-foot of water is already an absurd measurement; it's the amount of water needed to cover one acre of land (hey, visualize a football field!) to a depth of one foot. Multiply that by three million, and that's even more football fields of water than the amount of tears cried by Buffalo Bills fans in the franchise's history, but considerably less salty.
The agreement means the federal government won't have to step in and impose limits on water allocations on the three states, which get their allotment of Colorado River water from Lake Mead, putting it under Bureau of Reclamation control (Reuters helpfully explains the other four states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming — get their water directly from the river). But without the agreement, any federal divvying up of shrinking allotments would have led to lawsuits, so it's a win-win for the feds and the states.
It's also far better than anything that might transpire if Donald Trump were to take back the presidency in 2024; he would simply give the water to states that voted for him, even if that meant vast new canal systems to ship Colorado River water to Montana and Alabama.
As part of the agreement, the administration will provide about $1.2 billion in grants to cities, tribes, and irrigation districts from the Inflation Reduction Act, helping them with water conservation projects. Now that the states have agreed to cut the amount of water they use, they'll need to determine their own ways of meeting those commitments.
And as Reuters explains, this deal is only a temporary measure that will get the states through 2026, the end of the current seven-state agreement on divvying up Colorado River water, so now it's almost immediately back to negotiations for a plan to succeed it starting in 2027. The new agreement will have to take into account the likelihood that drought conditions will continue as climate change makes the Colorado basin warmer and more prone to drought.
"There are significantly more difficult things in the future that are going to have to be agreed to," said John Entsminger, Nevada's representative.
The Colorado River Compact has long been problematic as it was agreed following an usually wet period, misleading signatories into believing more water was available to them. [...]
Entsminger said officials now acknowledge there will be less Colorado River water available in the 21st century than there was in the 20th.
This is where the ghost of Edward Abbey gives us all the finger and shouts "Told you so!"
But also, Entsminger points out that while Las Vegas has grown by 800,000 people since 2002, that growth has come with a 31 percent reduction in the urban area's use of Colorado River water.
Longer term, California is planning for a hotter, drier future, with plans to more effectively capture rainwater and storm runoff so it recharges aquifers, building desalination plants powered by wind and solar, and also
restricting water-wasting agricultural crops hahaha we are kidding, BUY ALMONDS and wear avocados on your acre feet.
This is also where I remind you that our Wonkette Book Club is reading Kim Stanley Robinson's 2020 climate novel The Ministry for the Future, (Friday's reading is Chapters 2 through 30 — they're short!) and yes there are some very thought-provoking bits in the novel involving California's potential water solutions and crises coming up in the book, hoo boy. More information on the Book Club here!
And now? OPEN THREAD!
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