Memo to protesters outside the homes of Supreme Court justices: You're not helping
& Richard "Let me finish" Irvin's comically bad press conference
5-12-2022 (issue No. 35)
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I share the concern, frustration and anger of those who have been demonstrating outside the homes of U.S. Supreme Court justices in the wake of last week’s release of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health that would overturn the abortion rights protections enshrined in the Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) decisions.
But I abhor their tactics. Protesting outside private residences is a form of harassment that’s meant to intimidate as much as persuade, and it unfairly disturbs family members and neighbors.
Home is “the sacred retreat to which families repair for their privacy … the last citadel of the tired, the weary, and the sick,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in Gregory v. Chicago (1969), a case that arose from an effort to picket the Bridgeport residence of Mayor Richard J. Daley.
In Carey v. Brown (1980), another case related to picketing at the home of a Chicago mayor, Justice William Brennan Jr. wrote that “the state’s interest in protecting the well-being, tranquillity, and privacy of the home is certainly of the highest order in a free and civilized society.”
In Frisby v. Schultz, a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a Brookfield, Wisconsin, ordinance banning protests targeted at specific homes on residential streets, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that “the devastating effect of targeted picketing on the quiet enjoyment of the home is beyond doubt.”
The anti-abortion activists who were camping outside the home of a doctor who performed abortions were not seeking to exercise their undeniable right “to disseminate a message to the general public,” O’Connor wrote, “but to intrude upon the targeted resident, and to do so in an especially offensive way.” And “although, in many locations, we expect individuals simply to avoid speech they do not want to hear, the home is different. … There simply is no right to force speech into the home of an unwilling listener.”
Courts routinely deal with time, place and manner restrictions on speech, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center (1994) overturned a prohibition against picketing, demonstrating, or using sound amplification equipment within 300 feet of the residences of workers at abortion clinics:
The record before us does not contain sufficient justification for this broad a ban on picketing; it appears that a limitation on the time, duration of picketing, and number of pickets outside a smaller zone could have accomplished the desired result.
My view of the First Amendment is that it does no violence to the right of free expression to ban harassing targeted individuals in their homes or, for that matter, on the streets.
And I don’t like the trend of protests at people’s homes or in other private spaces, whether I agree with their political views or not. In 2021, protesters in Washington mounted a “noise demonstration” in front of the home of controversial U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Dr. Amy Acton, a key health adviser to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, resigned after protesters objecting to restrictions aimed at combating the novel coronavirus came to her house to hassle her. Last year, activists trailed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., into a public bathroom to berate her for her opposition to the Build Back Better plan.
Closer to home, protesters have gathered outside the homes of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Board of Education Vice President Sendhil Revuluri and Chicago Reader co-owner Leonard Goodman.
In an editorial, the Washington Post noted similar domestic demonstrations “targeting Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.); Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) of Portland, Ore.; and exiled Chinese dissident Teng Biao.”
To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary. Critics of reversing Roe maintain, defensibly, that to overturn such a long-standing precedent would itself violate core judicial principles. Yet if basic social consensus and the rule of law are to be sustained — and if protesters wish to maximize their own persuasiveness — demonstrations against even what many might regard as illegitimate rulings must respect the rights of others.
Those holding this view have been attacked from the left on social media as “pearl clutchers” who are fretting about civility and decorum when American women are likely soon to have a major right ripped away from them in many states.
And the stakes are admittedly high. But if you subscribe to the principle that when an issue is important enough to people, they should have the right to go to people’s homes and try to persuade them with signs and chants and disruptions, you can’t complain when anti-abortion zealots hold protest vigils at the homes of nurses and doctors who provide abortion care. You won’t be able to complain at some future date when picketers target the homes of progressive judges and justices and even lawmakers who try to uphold marriage equality against now inevitable legal challenges.
In fact you’ll have no beef if protesters descend on the homes of bloggers, anonymous social media provocateurs, talk show hosts and other pundits. Normalize this method of waging disputes, and such people, many of whom you agree with, will no longer have a “sacred retreat” at home and, in an utterly perverse result, may feel intimidated from speaking out at all.
In the political realm, the fear of having one’s self, family and neighbors subjected to sidewalk demonstrations could discourage very able, very decent people from serving in office.
I don’t think that’s the road we want to go down, particularly since such protests are more likely to harden hearts than to soften them. In the current instance, protests outside the homes of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts and Samuel Alito have allowed conservatives and Republicans to play the victim card and change the subject from abortion rights to proper protesting methods (just like they changed it last week by whining about the leak of Alito’s draft opinion rather than the earth-shaking consequences of that opinion).
Their claim to victimhood is buttressed by the fact that the recent protests are clearly illegal under 18 U.S.C. § 1507, which says:
Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
The McCarthy-era law was enacted in 1950 and aimed at communist protesters at federal courthouses.
In upholding this law in Cox v. Louisiana (1965), the Supreme Court noted “There is no room at any stage of judicial proceedings for such intervention; mob law is the very antithesis of due process.” Protests in the public space in front of the Supreme Court have since been deemed permissible.
Obviously. And I’ve written previously to object to courthouse theatrics plainly designed to influence jurors, such as demonstrators chanting and waving signs near the entrance or uniformed police officers packing the spectators’ gallery.
This is not pearl clutching or some fusty adherence to politesse. It’s a position on effective tactics that’s built for long-term success at the expense of short-term satisfaction.
No matter how urgent the cause, as a matter of principle, we don’t want our judges or lawmakers answering to the loudest or the peskiest voices, particularly if fear is part of the equation.
As The Washington Post put it, “erasing any distinction between the public square and private life is essential to totalitarianism.”
Should Alito’s draft opinion stand and Roe and Casey are overturned, the proper and only venue for putting protections for abortion rights back in place will be the polls, not the residential sidewalks.
More on matters related to the abortion controversy:
‘Irresponsible intercourse’ has been the target of the anti-abortion movement all along, now, hasn’t it?
A letter to the Tribune’s Voice of the People the other day from Marcia Morman of Park Ridge was revealing:
“If you don’t want a child, choose not to have irresponsible intercourse. Your body, your choice. The biological purpose of intercourse is to bring new life. If you choose a moment of pleasure over the life of the new human being you might co-create, where is your sense of morality and that of the man you partnered with? … God designed our sexuality for marital unity and the creation of new life, not for irresponsible amusement.”
I believe this sentiment is strong on the religious right and helps explain the curiously strong passion for preserving life in the womb and the popularity of exceptions for abortion bans in cases of rape and incest. Opposition to abortion is animated by if not rooted in the view that unintended pregnancy is nature’s punishment (or God’s punishment) for “irresponsible intercourse,” sex for “amusement” purposes and “moments of pleasure” with no intention whatsoever of realizing the “biological purpose” of sex.
Women who are raped have not committed this transgression and so, a significant number of abortion opponents believe, should not be required to endure the consequences and experience the risks of carrying to term and then giving birth to their rapists’ babies.
At the same time, it would be naive to suggest it’s coincidental that those who hold more liberal views about sexual behavior tend to hold more liberal views on abortion.
I’ve often wondered: If there were a “perfect” contraceptive — say, just for the sake of argument, an otherwise harmless additive to the water supply that rendered human beings sterile and immune from sexually transmitted infections until they elected to take an otherwise harmless and 100% effective antidote that would render them fertile (but still immune from STIs) — would conservatives champion it as a way to dramatically reduce the number of abortions performed each year? Or would they campaign against it because it would remove a barrier to “irresponsible intercourse”?
I ask this as a way or wondering if the abortion debate isn’t actually a proxy for a debate over sexual mores, as Ms. Morman of Park Ridge suggests.
Gail Collins of The New York Times seems pretty sure that it is. In her column “Don’t Be Fooled. It’s All About Women and Sex,” she writes:
All this is basically about punishing women who want to have sex for pleasure. It’s a concept with a long tradition in American history. Back in 1873, Congress began to pass a series of laws prohibiting dissemination through the mail of birth control literature, drugs or devices. Later, when a journalist asked Anthony Comstock, founder of the New York Commission on the Suppression of Vice, whether it would be all right for a woman to use contraceptives if pregnancy would endanger her life, Comstock snapped: “Can they not use self-control? Or must they sink to the level of beasts?”
Abortion rights advocates have a ‘passion gap’ to close before the November elections.
A 2020 Gallup survey found “30% of those in the pro-life camp and 19% in the pro-choice camp say they are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion.”
Don’t be fooled when right-wingers bleat about the necessity of free speech.
In 2019, the Trump administration passed new regulations that said clinics that take federal Title X family planning funding could not “perform, promote, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” which many physicians considered an abortion gag rule as oppressive as the global gag rules imposed under Republican administrations that prohibit international programs funded by U.S. global health assistance from providing information or referrals to legal abortion services, even with their own money.
This is from the same folks who want to muzzle public school teachers on the subjects of race and gender and sexual orientation, yet who preen about their commitment to free speech.
It’s from the same party where a U.S. Senator — Josh Hawley of Missouri — has just introduced legislation to strip the Walt Disney Company of special copyright protections in the wake of Disney’s public opposition to Florida’s "Parental Rights in Education” bill.
About all that free speech: If Elon Musk takes over Twitter and opens the floodgates to conspiracy cranks, bigots and peddlers of rank disinformation and cruelty in the name of “free speech,” he’s going to find advertisers and users fleeing. Yes, the platform went too far blocking discussions about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop and theories that the COVID-19 virus leaked from a Chinese lab. But removing nearly all content guardrails will be, if nothing else, a lousy business decision.
Don’t take Mayor Lori Lightfoot so literally!
No, she doesn’t literally have a big dick and no, in this tweet she isn’t literally suggesting LGBTQ+ folks rush down to Chuck’s Gun Shop and stock up on weaponry:
Is it catastrophizing to fret that an attack on marriage equality might be next? I don’t think so. In his draft opinion, Alito writes:
The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Washington v. Glucksberg (1997).
Alito takes pains to stress that his proposed ruling in Dobbs only concerns abortion, but he cited that same 1997 case (it concerned assisted suicide) and offered a strikingly similar sentiment when dissenting in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case that legalized same-sex marriage:
Our nation was founded upon the principle that every person has the unalienable right to liberty, but liberty is a term of many meanings. To prevent five unelected Justices from imposing their personal vision of liberty upon the American people, the Court has held that ‘liberty’ under the Due Process Clause should be understood to protect only those rights that are ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.’ And it is beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not among those rights.
If and when a conservative legislature emboldened by the principles outlined in Hobbs attempts to reimpose a ban on same-sex marriages, Alito or his successors on the court will have all the precedent they need to uphold the ban as consonant with “this nation’s history and tradition” of marginalizing gay people.
And their own logic will constrain them into approving bans on certain forms of contraception when the bluenoses in the red states decide to pass them.
Jonathan Capehart put it well in The Washington Post:
If Roe and Casey must be overturned because they are hopelessly flawed, then all other cases that rely on their arguments asserting privacy and personal liberty are endangered. The 6-to-3 conservative Supreme Court majority is packed with ideologues; how could it resist taking Alito’s radical thinking to its logical end?
And here’s Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times:
Neither the right to same-sex marriage nor the right to sexual autonomy (Lawrence v. Texas) can be said to be “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.”
Nor for that matter can you say the same of the right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut) or racial integration (Brown v. Board of Education). Indeed, under the logic of Alito’s opinion, unless you can prove that some aspect of your freedom was recognized in the deep reaches of American history, it is subject to state coercion There is a paragraph in which Alito denies that the logic of his opinion applies to these other rights…
But Alito neither explains nor tries to substantiate this point. It’s an aside, a throwaway line — a “to be sure” meant to cover an obvious weak point. And given his hostility to the Obergefell ruling … there’s no reason to take him at his word.
The call to arms is metaphorical. The threat is real.
Last week’s winning tweet
Scroll down to read this week’s nominees or click here to vote in the new poll.
I have also created a special Dad Joke poll this week.
News & Views
News: The necessary supermajority of the Chicago City Council has reportedly agreed on a compromise ward map that will create 16 wards with Black majorities, one with a Black plurality and 14 with Latino majorities.
View: I don’t know how or why, but the Latino Caucus got rolled. According to the 2020 census, there are 819,518 Hispanics in Chicago, 801,195 African Americans, 192,586 Asian Americans and 863,622 whites, so it seems obvious to me that there ought to be Hispanic majorities in the same number of wards as there are Black majorities, or at the very least in the 15 wards they were fighting for.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, charged Tuesday on Ben Joravsky’s podcast that Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th, the Latino Caucus chair, folded in the face of threats that if the map issue went to referendum, that campaign would be ugly (see the mailers here) and target him just as he’s trying to win a hotly contested primary for a seat in Congress.
The shape of Villegas’ new ward, in light purple above, has been the source of much amusement and efforts to describe its absurd shape. “Pool noodle” seems to be the favorite, though it better resembles a barbell.
The Sun-Times tells a different story than Ramirez-Rosa:
The votes shifted after United Working Families and the Chicago Teachers Union helped persuade several Hispanic members of the council’s Socialist Caucus to break with the Latino Caucus.
Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th, said those members “sold out” their fellow Latinos.
“A lot of pressure was being put on my colleagues and as a result you saw folks more interested in self preservation than making sure the Latino community had fair representation.”
I’m not sorry that this issue now seems unlikely to go to a referendum in which citizens would have to choose between two maps. Yes, I know, democracy and all, but the campaign would be ugly and stupid and not provide the sort of range of choices we should have at such a time.
News: Author’s plagiarism essay pulled after more plagiarism found.
View: It would be a wry joke for me to add to this nesting-doll story by passing off as my own work paragraphs cribbed from The Associated Press story about the double of pratfall writer Jumi Bello. Her essay, “I Plagiarized Parts of My Debut Novel. Here’s Why," was quickly yanked offline Monday when Lit Hub found that Bello’s sections about the history of plagiarism were themselves plagiarized.
But there’s a sad side to this story revealed in the few excerpts that the wire service reprinted. Bello described severe writer’s block that had her agonizing through the night, sleeping all day and inserting borrowed words into her manuscript just “to get through it.” She wrote that she told herself, “‘I will rewrite these parts later during the editorial phase. I will make this story mine again.’”
The lesson here for all writers is that it’s very dangerous to mix others’ words with your own at any stage of the composition process. When I import notes from other works into something I’m working on, I either highlight the words or put them in italics.
News: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill mandating special school instructions on a new state holiday, “Victims of Communism Day.”
View: To be fair, a “Victims of Capitalism Day” might balance things out. I mean, I favor capitalism and acknowledge the depredations and drawbacks of communist rule, but if you want to actually teach children about various economic and governmental systems rather than spew propaganda at them, you could craft lesson plans dealing with exploitation and death under capitalism. Maybe with a special unit on the for-profit U.S. health care system?
Finish this, Richard Irvin: Where do you stand on Trump? A national abortion ban?
By one count, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin said “let me finish” more than two dozen times during the 11 minutes he took questions at a news conference Monday as reporters tried to get him to talk about issues he’d clearly like to avoid.
Irvin wanted to talk about the report released last week by Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino that pointed to significant bureaucratic failures under Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker that resulted in the COVID-19-related deaths of 36 elderly military veterans at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in 2020.
It’s an important issue. And it’s more than fair to raise it since, during the 2018 campaign, Pritzker railed at Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner for his “fatal mismanagement” at the Quincy Veterans Home where 13 people had died of Legionnaires’ disease.
Pritzker’s opponent in the November election — be it Irvin or one of his opponents in the June 28 primary — will be more than entitled to ask if this, too, was“fatal mismanagement,” though my view in both cases is that while governors are accountable for foul-ups in their ranks, it’s hard to hold them directly responsible for misplaced trust in their underlings.
But Irvin’s opinion about what Pritzker did or didn’t do to stem that outbreak won’t be relevant unless he wins the primary, where the big issues now are Republican bona fides and abortion rights.
Here’s the Tribune’s Rick Pearson: With Irvin rarely seen in public since becoming a candidate, reporters used the opportunity to hit him with questions about his politics, including his record of voting in the Democratic presidential primaries in 2016 and 2020 even as he’s accused GOP rivals of helping to elect Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Irvin was also asked if he voted for Trump in the past or would do so if the former president makes a 2024 bid, and whether he supports a federal ban on abortion or the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Despite pleas and shouts from reporters, Irvin did not answer any of those questions.
Irvin voted in Democratic primaries in 2014, 2016 and 2020.
From my transcript of the news conference:
Pearson: Isn’t it just a bit disingenuous for you to attack your rivals for the nomination alleging how they voted when you yourself — who pulled Democratic primary ballots— will not say who you voted for? How can you attack Darren Bailey and call him soft on Trump or a never-Trumper? How can you attack Jesse Sullivan as a never-Trumper, when you yourself will not say who you voted for, if you voted for Donald Trump and if you would vote for him again if he’s the nominee in 2024?
Irvin: Let’s talk about records for a second. Campaigns are about records. … I’m not going to fall into the trap of J.B. Pritzker.
Pearson: This isn’t J.B. Pritzker! These are in your mailers.
Irvin: I’m not going to fall into the trap of J.B. Pritzker.
ABC 7’s Craig Wall related this exchange:
"Did you vote for President Trump, and would you support President Trump if he ran again?" I asked him.
"That's exactly what J.B. Pritzker wants," Irvin said.
"Can you answer the question?" I asked.
"That's exactly what J.B. Pritzker wants," Irvin repeated.
"Can you answer the question?" I asked again.
"That's exactly what J.B. Pritzker wants," Irvin answered.
In Illinoize, a Substack newsletter on state politics, Republican strategist Patrick Pfingsten wrote:
Watching Irvin try to read from a script on the LaSalle Veterans’ Home (Monday) was like watching an example of a beginner in a campaign school. Irvin stumbled on the script repeatedly, didn’t look prepared on the issue at hand, and then seemed to have no idea at the questions that were coming his way once he opened it up to media. Did you not expect this? He was defensive, obfuscating, and refused to answer the questions at hand. Obviously, Chicago media are going to be highlighting the most sensational story they can find, even if it has little to do with actual Illinois law.
But it looks very much as though Illinois law is going to have a lot to do with abortion, an issue that’s going to be on the plate of every governor in the United States given the recent news out of the Supreme Court. And certainly Pritzker has signaled every intention of making his support for abortion rights central to his reelection bid.
Irvin did say he favors allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk, and that he favors parental notification laws that were repealed under Pritzker. He added that he thought it was “irresponsible for us to hypothesize and speculate” about the final outcome in the Supreme Court case.
Pearson: Do you support Roe v. Wade? Mitch McConnell’s talking about a national effort — congressional legislation — to ban abortion, do you support that?
Irvin: Listen, what I said, I’m pro-life, But we’re talking about the issue today, this draft document, which is just a draft, leaked document.
Pearson: Mitch McConnell was asked, should there be a federal law to ban abortion. Forget the leaked document. Should there be a national law?
Irving. Hold on one second. Hold on one second. Hold on. You know, I can’t talk about Mitch McConnell and what he said and the national thing.
Pearson: Do you support a federal law to ban abortion? Forget what Mitch McConnell said. I’m asking you.
Irvin: In Illinois. In Illinois. I’m not talking about what the federal government is going to do. In Illinois we have our own questions.
More from Pearson’s story:
Irvin cited Pritzker’s signature on a bill to repeal the parental notification requirement on abortion as an example of the “extremes” he said that people are concerned about under the Democratic governor. … (But) he did not address two other laws Republican candidates have said they would reverse: one allowing taxpayer-funded abortions for poor women, which was signed by Pritzker’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, the other 2019 legislation signed by Pritzker that made abortion a “fundamental right” for women in Illinois.
For his embarrassing evasions, Irvin got this front-page treatment from the Sun-Times:
But he did get $25 million more from billionaire Ken Griffin, which will allow him to run his campaign on the airwaves and in your mailbox, not in front of those pesky journalists.
A WGN-TV/The Hill/Emerson College Polling survey of likely GOP primary voters released Wednesday indicated Griffin isn’t yet getting a big bang for his Irvin bucks:
Irvin (is) leading the field with 24.1% support, followed by Bailey with 19.8%. Suburban businessman Gary Rabine is in third place with 7.8%, closely followed by venture capitalist Jessie Sullivan with 7.3%. Attorney Max Solomon and former state Senator Paul Schimpf are both trailing far behind with 2.3% and 1.9% respectively.
With early voting set to begin across Illinois on May 19, a large group of voters is still up for grabs. About 36.9% of respondents say they are undecided about the top of the ticket. …
Former President Donald Trump remains a wild card. He has made endorsements in GOP primaries across the United States but hasn’t yet weighed in on the Republican race for Illinois Governor. About 57% percent of likely GOP primary voters say they are more likely to support a candidate if they’re endorsed by Trump.
A four-point lead with more than 1 in 3 voters still undecided and that wild card still in the deck? Not good.
Land of Linkin’
“The Failures Before the Fires,” the Tribune/Better Government Association investigation that Monday was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, is a terrific example of the value of well-funded news operations. Or, I should say, another terrific example. Elected officials and bureaucrats aren’t going to uncover and publicize this sort of scandalous oversight. Remember that next time you’re tempted to cancel a subscription over an editorial or column you disagree with.
This excellent Lynn Sweet article explains how the Democratic primary in the newly drawn 3rd U.S. Congressional District is shaping up as a battle between moderate Ald. Gil Villegas, 36th, and progressive state Rep. Delia Ramirez of Chicago.
“103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known” by 70-year-old Kevin Kelly has some nuggets worth mining. I don’t agree with all of them, but most are worth consideration if not further discussion.
From Consumer Reports test of plant-based meats: “Among the burgers, Impossible and Beyond’s were the most meatlike. Impossible’s Chicken Nuggets came closest to tasting like a typical chicken nugget, and MorningStar Farm’s Veggie Chik’n Strips shredded like chicken breast. Three pork pretenders—Beyond Meat’s breakfast and sweet Italian sausages and MorningStar’s breakfast links—were reminiscent of the real thing. Gardein’s fish-and-chip-style fillets and Good Catch’s patties were at least somewhat fishlike.”
Did conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominees “lie” when asked in their confirmation hearings about Roe v. Wade? No, says Snopes. a conclusion buttressed by a similar collection of evidence at FactCheck.org. Were they misleading, too-cute-by-half and evasive as they refused to reveal their intentions? Oh, sure.
“The surprising afterlife of used hotel soap” tells the story of Clean the World, the largest of the organizations that partner with hotels, cruise lines and other hospitality providers to collect discarded soap fragments and safely reconstitute them for use in developing countries where hygiene is a major health problem.
“Dinesh D’Souza: Tucker Carlson and Newsmax refuse to promote my voter fraud conspiracy movie.” “The film claims that 2,000 ‘mules’ were paid by Democratic officials to collect and drop off votes in multiple states. According to an Associated Press fact-check of the movie, it is “based on faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location data.”
“Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Postpones Panel on Autism Awareness Following Backlash from Harvard Undergrads.” “Talking about things like treating and curing autism is a really toxic narrative. There isn’t anything wrong with being autistic.”
In “The ACLU Has Lost Its Way —The organization now seems largely unable or unwilling to uphold its core values,” law professor and “staunch Democrat” Lara Bazelon writes, “In 2018, following the ACLU’s successful litigation to obtain a permit for white supremacists to march in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ended in death and disaster, the ACLU issued new guidelines. Citing concerns about ‘limited resources’ and ‘the potential effect on marginalized groups,’ the organization cautioned its lawyers to take special care when considering whether to represent groups whose ‘values are contrary to our values.’ By ‘our values,’ the ACLU was referring to the progressive causes it has championed with fervor and great fundraising success since the election of Donald Trump. ... I used to be a proud card-carrying member of the ACLU. Today, when its fundraising mailers and pleas to reenroll arrive in my mailbox, I toss them in the recycling.”
Host Mike Pesca also offered his disappointment with the ACLU on Wednesday’s episode of The Gist podcast. (Note: I will be glad to post a rebuttal to Bazelon and Pesca from the ACLU!)
“No Books. No Money. Just the Truth.” Former top strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign Steve Schmidt absolutely unloads on the late Arizona senator in a blistering Substack post.
“The religious group most opposed to vaccines, most convinced that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, most inclined to subscribe to QAnon conspiracy theories is white evangelicals" writes Tim Alberta of The Atlantic in “How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church.”
The Picayune Sentinel on the air: On Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., WCPT-AM 820 host Joan Esposito and I chat about ideas raised in the new issue. The listen-live link is here.
The Picayune Sentinel preview: Mondays at 11:30 a.m. I talk with WGN-AM 720 host John Williams about what’s making news and likely to be grist for the PS mill. The WGN listen-live link is here.
Brace yourselves, ‘This is Us’ watchers
Mandy Moore, who stars as matriarch Rebecca Pearson in NBC’s award-winning, six-season family drama “This is Us,” said she found the penultimate episode that will air next Tuesday to be literally gut-wrenching.
“I threw up after I read (the script),” she told late-night host Jimmy Fallon this week. “It destroyed me,” she said. “I have a feeling it might destroy other people too.”
When I posted this quote to Facebook, some commenters snidely dismissed “This is Us” as a soap opera. Soap operas were, of course, those poorly written, cheaply made, broadly acted daily TV serials. My view is that “This is Us” is exquisitely written, finely wrought and deftly acted, and that its explorations of all kinds of relationships is powerful and subtle, but I don’t know how to compare it to an actual soap opera since I’ve never watched one.
Mary Schmich: ‘Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.’
My former colleague Mary Schmich posts column-like thoughts most Tuesdays on Facebook. Here is this week’s offering:
All the beautiful Facebook posts of blossoming trees reminded me of a poem I love.
The line "their greenness is a kind of grief" gets me every time.
Read it and then let's all go outside!The Trees, by Philip Larkin The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. I don't want to risk a copyright violation, so I'll link you to the other two stanzas of Larkin's poem here. Meanwhile, on Mother’s Day, Mary posted "A letter to my mother," a 2017 Tribune column that contained this passage from a letter she’d written several years before her mother died in 2010:
Every time I write, every time I play the piano, every time I look at something beautiful and fully register the beauty — that's you.
You've given me my love of words and my understanding of them, my love of music, too, even though I don't have a gift as full as yours.
You've made, and continue to make, my life more fun.
Plain and simple — fun. The other morning when you started laughing hard at the breakfast table and couldn't stop, I thought about times when I was little —13 or 14 — and we'd get to laughing like that. Nobody laughs better.
I could go on, but what you've given me and continue to give me is the knowledge that I am loved without judgment. That has given me freedom to be in the world according to my nature. I am so grateful for that.
The other day when we were sitting and looking at the roses, I had a thought flit through: "My life has been so much more than I expected, and just a little less." I thought it about myself but imagined you feel it too. Maybe we all do.
Whatever the "little less" is, it's so much more than expected, so much more than so many people get.
For all the ways you add to my abundance, I can't thank you enough.
I just needed to say this, no special occasion.
I love you. (Mary Schmich)
Austin Berg, Heather Cherone, host John Williams and I take turns clutching our pearls and trading fun facts about protest tactics, the race for governor and the fight over ward maps in Chicago in the new “Mincing Rascals” podcast.
Subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. Or bookmark this page. If you’re not a podcast listener, you can now hear an edited version of the show at 8 p.m. most Saturday evenings on WGN-AM 720.
This week’s nominees for Tweet of the Week:
When the moon hits your dish / And you mispronounce fish / Albacore — @elle91
I’m not procrastinating. I was never going to do it. — @OrdinaryAlso
If you text me, "We need to talk," I'm gonna reply, "Yes we do." Now we’re both stressed — @tfcarter09
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You asked a question at the end of a work meeting. Prepare to die. — @Cpin42
The first time I do it it’s just a shenan. — @RickAaron
Imagine meeting your soulmate but they say pecan instead of pecan. — @ozzyunc
The generation whose high school anthem was "Don't You Forget About Me" wants you to know it has no idea why it walked into this room. — @lloydrang
“I’m mindful of the time,”’ is how you say “Please, dear lord, stop talking” on a Zoom call. — @lloydrang
Jesus is on the cross. In the crowd Judas turns to a spectator, nervously says "Can you believe this?" and bites into a Klondike Bar. — @Kyle_Lippert
Don't forget to text back but not right away. Laugh at their jokes, be sincere and honest, though hold back. Yet be truthful. Oops! Too much! It's weird now. Off to the friend zone you go! — @Lisabug74
Click here to vote in the poll.
And click here to vote in a special, bonus Dad Joke ToW poll.
People in Taiwan have Taipei personalities — @anoticingsenpa1
Q: Why did the hipster burn his mouth? A: Because he ate his food before it was cool. — @Jeffwni
Some say I'm addicted to brake fluid,but, luckily, I can stop whenever I want. —@un_d_cipheredun_d_ciphered
Honestly, the Knights of the Round Table cut too many corners. — @JasonNotEvil
The only thing flat-earthers fear is sphere itself. — @SarahSueButler
Goth karate is easy because you already start off with a black belt. — @PhilipJFried
Why would someone steal my broken abacus? It just doesn’t add up — @RickAaron
The dude who invented the flashlight got me through some dark times. — @offbeatoliv
A job as a sandwich board guy? Sign me up! — @GianDoh
Farmer: How many cows got out? Me: 17. Farmer: Round ‘em up! Me: OK, 20 — @Browtweaten
For instructions and guidelines regarding the poll, click here.
Race to the slop
As long as the Cincinnati Reds are still threatening to have the worst record in Major League Baseball since 1899 — a mark currently held by the 36-117 (.235) Philadelphia Athletics — I’ll be posting this weekly update:
After Wednesday night’s victory the Reds are 7-24 (.226)
The brilliant Chicago musician Michael Peter Smith died of cancer in August 2020 at 78. He’s best known as the composer of “The Dutchman,” an often-covered 1968 song about dementia that I find more and more heartbreaking as the months go on. But my favorite of his is the daffy “Famous in France”:
In an obituary for the Chicago Reader, Mark Guarino wrote of Smith that “he never became a household name the way John Prine and Steve Goodman did, but his lengthy discography is just as mighty.” The Tribune’s Rick Kogan noted that “Rolling Stone magazine once called [Smith] ‘the greatest songwriter in the English language,’ and …the American Songwriter online magazine fairly compared him to the recently deceased John Prine, writing that both men ‘imbued their songs with heartfelt, sentimental tenderness. Each of them wrote lyrics of unforced grace and elegance, using language wistful and concise to create genuinely poignant songs.’”
When you're famous in France, well then French fries are free. Or snails or dijon as you prefer. And French kisses, of course, happen so constantly Soon your tongue can't pronounce ends of words. Yellow subtitles under each thing you say They put you on stamps dressed up in funny ways A toga, a spear, a Gauloises*, a beret -- What the hey, you are famous in France
*Gauloises is a French cigarette.
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