Archives for category: Cruelty

The Guardian reported today that an investigative team from the United Nations documented numerous war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. Putin announced that he is calling one million men to active duty, and thousands of men are attempting to flee Russia before they are forced into combat. (It is illegal in Russia to call the invasion of Ukraine a “war.”) Protests have erupted in Russian cities, and more than 1,000 protestors have been arrested. Russia is conducting sham referenda in conquered Ukrainian territories, which will enable them to treat their conquests as Russian soil. Putin has said that any attack on Russia will allow him to use nuclear weapons in defense. This is a dangerous moment, to say the least.

The United Nations has said its investigators have concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, including bombings of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.

The UN has made the investigation of human rights violations in the war a priority and in May its top human rights body mandated a team of experts to begin work in the country.

Since then, UN investigators, have risked their lives to collect evidence of crimes perpetrated against civilians, including in areas still threatened by enemy forces or laid with mines.

The team of three independent experts on Friday presented their first oral update to the UN human rights council, after it launched initial investigations looking at the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, adding that it would broaden its inquiries.

Speaking a day before the seven-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, Erik Mose, the head of the investigation team, told thecouncil that, based on the evidence gathered by the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, “it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine”.

The team of investigators visited 27 towns and settlements, as well as graves and detention and torture centres; interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses; and met with advocacy groups and government officials.

Mose said the team had been especially “struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited”, and the frequent “visible signs of executions on bodies, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats”.

He added it was investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements, and had received credible allegations regarding many more cases that it would seek to document. The investigators had also received “consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture, which were carried out during unlawful confinement”, the council was told.

In the settlements of Bucha, Hostomel and Borodianka, occupied for about a month by Russian troops, Ukrainian investigators found dozens of mass graves where the bodies of civilians, tortured and murdered, had been buried.

Since the Russians withdrew from the area, a group of young volunteers worked tirelessly to exhume the bodies and send them to forensic doctors who have been collecting evidence of crimes perpetrated by Russian troops.

Some of the victims had told the investigators they were transferred to Russia and held for weeks in prisons. Others had “disappeared” after such transfers. “Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity, as well as other types of violations in such detention facilities,” Mose said.

Mose said the team had also “processed two incidents of ill-treatment against Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian forces”, adding that “while few in numbers, such cases continue to be the subject of our attention”.

He said investigators had also documented cases of sexual and gender-based violence, in some cases establishing that Russian soldiers were the perpetrators.

“There are examples of cases where relatives were forced to witness the crimes,” he said. “In the cases we have investigated, the age of victims of sexual and gendered-based violence ranged from four to 82 years.”

The commission had documented a wide range of crimes against children, Mose added, including children who were “raped, tortured, and unlawfully confined”.

I watched the third episode of the latest Ken Burns’ documentary, and I understand why he said it is the most important documentary he ever made.

As history, it is powerful. And it is even more powerful because there are so many echoes of present events in our own country.

In three episodes, we see one of the most cultured countries in the world fall under the spell of a charismatic madman. We see the German people march to his tune, cheer him, fall in line, then become brutes as they carry out his mission to exterminate the Jews of Europe and to capture the Continent.

We see heroic Americans trying to rescue desperate refugees. And we meet the anti-Semites in the State Department who wanted to keep refugees out and leave them to their fate. and we are reminded again and again that the American public did not want the Jewish refugees.

We learn about the indifference and decided anti-Semitism in other countries, including our own. We learn about Hitler’s admiration for our brutal treatment of indigenous peoples, killing them and then isolating them on reservations. Hitler also admired our harsh treatment and segregation of Black people.

Inevitably, in the third episode, there are graphic videos of the death camps. There are piles of naked bodies. And there are emaciated men and women who survived, barely, their eyes empty.

In the closing minutes, the parallels to the present are presented. Scenes of racism, Young white men in Charlottesville chanting “The Jews will not replace us.” The mob storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, one of them wearing a T-shirt saying “Camp Auschwitz.” Having just witnessed scenes from the death camps, the T-shirt was not just tasteless but horrifying.

This series should be shown to high school students in every school in the U.S.

John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, posts his reaction to the first episode of the new series by Ken Burns, Sarah Botstein, and Lynn Novick: “The U.S. and the Holocaust.”

I just watched the second episode, and it is very powerful. Burns has said that this is the most important documentary he has ever made.

The U.S. made almost no effort to open its doors to Jews trying to escape Hitler’s killing machine. Why? For one thing, the American public was deeply anti-Semitic. For another, the leaders of the U.S. State Department were anti-Semites.

The Ku Klux Klan sprang back to life. The heroic aviator Charles Lindbergh, who admired Hitler, was a leader of the infamous “America First” movement, which opposed our entry into the war and was certain that Hitler would conquer all of Europe. Henry Ford was a virulent anti-Semite, whose publication printed the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

This series is MUST viewing. It clears away the cobwebs of lies propagated by rightwingers who want to cleanse the schools of the dark side of U.S. history. Hate, bigotry, racism, and anti-Semitism are woven into our history.

Thompson writes:

Ken Burns’ The U.S and the Holocaust is being shown on PBS. It begins with a jolt: telling how Anne Frank and her family were denied entry to the U.S. As our country denied entry to the vast majority of Jews threatened by Adolf Hitler, 1 million were murdered. Episode One helps us understand why President Franklin Roosevelt and other leaders were unable to persuade the American public to support assistance to Jews fleeing Nazism.

Of course, there is plenty that is great about our democracy, but our histories of the genocide of Native Americans and Slavery, as well as eugenics and its false claims that people of color were biologically inferior, contributed to our failure to respond appropriately. In fact, Hitler patterned his crimes against humanity after America’s eugenics movement, the genocide of Native Americans, the Ku Klux Klan, and Jim Crow. During the Great Depression, more than 1 million people of Mexican ancestry were expelled even though more than 60 percent of them were born in the U.S. And, even before American Fascists like Father Coughlin and Henry Ford ramped up hatred of Jews and advocated for pro-Nazi policies, the U.S. had a long history of violent anti-Semitism.

Ken Burns and his team started to make this film in 2015, before Charlottesville, the shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and at the supermarket in Buffalo, and before the January 6th insurrection. A similar “fragility of civilized behavior” was also on display in Berlin under Hitler. In the late 1920’s it was one of “the most open and cosmopolitan city in Europe” but four years later, the Nazis were in charge. What lessons can we learn from that past which could inform today’s “fragility of democratic civilization all over the world, not just here?”

The U.S. and the Holocaust also raises questions such as “what are the responsibilities of our leaders to shape public opinion rather than follow it?” and “what does this history tell us about the role of individuals to act when governments fail to intervene?” It also raises tough questions about the role of the media in spreading hate, as well as constructive information.

The film’s website also links to Oklahoma’s and other states’ Academic Standards. They call for high school students to “examine the causes, series of events and effects of the Holocaust through eyewitnesses such as inmates, survivors, liberators, and perpetrators,” and examine the “rise of totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan.” Such Standards also call for an examination of “how the media we consume shapes our beliefs, opinions, and actions both historically and in modern contexts in this media.”

These Standards are very consistent with the concepts that Burns explored. If I were still teaching high school, I’d be carefully building a unit that follows the Standards and instructional techniques that were carefully prepared by state and national experts. For instance, I would begin with the recommended, first question, “Why do you think many people did not question or push back against the harmful ideas presented by people who believed in eugenics?”

As also recommended, as students watched video clips, and read and analyzed the primary source materials in The U.S. and the Holocaust website, I’d ask them to share their “feelings or thoughts after each clip as some of the content covered is very heavy and may be emotional for students.” Students would take notes and engage in classroom discussions. I’d end with the recommended question, “Although the images and videos shown in the last clip are very challenging to watch, why do you think U.S. Army leaders said they needed to be shown to people in the United States and across the world?”

I would try to repeat the previously successful practice of inviting legislators, state officials, business and political leaders to the lessons so they could witness the dignity and wisdom of my students at John Marshall, Centennial, and other high-challenge schools. As recently as four years ago when I guest-taught and/or engaged with very conservative Republicans, I knew the discussions would be civil and enlightening. Now, I know such communications would be different, and that I might get fired for violating HB1775.

But the consequences for teachers are nothing like the suffering of victims of the Holocaust or the potential destruction due to the failure to stand up for democratic and educational principles. So, I would also ask what would happen if thousands of educators would stand for our students and teach Ken Burns’ film and website. They would need to thoughtfully plan the process, hopefully working with school system administrators. Many or most of whom would have a long history of opposing censorships of books such as Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” but who are intimidated by bills like HB 1775 and similar censorship laws in other states. Educators would almost certainly have to seek the backing of parents and community leaders.

Educators who are too frightened to use Burns’ work, could at least borrow from SummerBoismier, whose teacher certification is being threatened for linking to the Brooklyn Library, and post links to his and PBS’s websites. Or they could organize off-campus community films or read-aloud events (such as the “Banned Book Read Out” at OKC’s First Unitarian Church) for students and/or provide information on The U.S. and the Holocaust to students when they enter the building.

Such efforts would be terrifying if done alone. But would legislators who voted for censorship of school curriculums want to admit out loud that they want Anne Frank’s story banned? And would even the most extreme legislators follow through with mass firings at a time of teacher shortages? We must wrestle with Burn’s question about whether so many millions of people from all nations would have quickly abandoned democracy and humanity if there had been more resistance to Hitler in the U.S. and across the world before Nazism took control in so many places?


As Ms. Boismeir concluded, “you have a choice to make for the future of our state and the state of our public schools: a politics of inclusion or exclusion. So what’s your story? What side are you on?

Pieper Lewis was 15 when she ran away from the home of her adopted mother. She slept in the lobby of an apartment building. She was befriended by a man who then gave her to other men in exchange for drugs or money. One man raped her repeatedly. In a fit of rage, she stabbed him repeatedly and killed him in 2020. After more than two years in detention, she came before a judge who gave her five years of probation, instead of 20 years in prison. He also required this homeless teen to pay $150,000 to the rapist’s family in accordance with Iowa law.

One of Pieper’s high school teachers stepped in to help her by creating a GoFundMe to pay her debt. Leland Schipper, her former math teacher, hoped to raise $150,000, enough to pay what she owed plus some money to help her get a fresh start. He has so far raised over $400,000 so that the child will be able to go to college or start a business. She said in a statement that she wants to help other girls like her who were victims of sex trafficking.

This was Pieper Lewis’ statement at her sentencing hearing.

Thank you to Leland Schipper for giving this young woman, this child, a chance to start over.

Quite a story.

Paul Waldman and Greg Sergeant of the Washington Post write about the untimely and unnecessary demise of the most effective anti-poverty program for children. One Democratic Senator, Joseph Manchin, killed it.

“My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won,” Ronald Reagan declared in his State of the Union address in 1988. He lamented that “government created a poverty trap” that discouraged people from lifting themselves up.
Then as now, it was an idea driven by an ideology that says the government should do as little as possible to help people who are struggling. Then as now, it was refuted by facts.


As a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, we did something extraordinary during the worst parts of the coronavirus pandemic: In the midst of a crisis that affected every part of our society and could have been economically calamitous, we drove poverty down. As economically painful as the crisis was, the aggressive public spending passed across the Trump and Biden presidencies dramatically mitigated the hardship Americans suffered.

Using just-released census figures, the group reports the results of the pandemic stimulus measures in 2021. In particular, the study looked at the expansion of the child tax credit, which was altered to give monthly payments to eligible families, including those with incomes too low to have income tax liability:

The expanded Child Tax Credit alone kept 5.3 million people above the annual poverty line and helped drive a stunning reduction in child poverty to a record low. Poverty overall also reached a record low and the uninsured rate dropped substantially, with Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace coverage reaching or nearing record highs.


The effect on minority groups was particularly dramatic: “In 2018 nearly 1 in 4 Black children lived in families with incomes below the poverty line. In 2021, fewer than 1 in 10 did.”


It’s important to remember that we define “poverty” as a line one can be over or under. The fact that a family has a bit more income than where that line is placed doesn’t mean they don’t struggle to make ends meet.

But government assistance can mean the difference between a family having enough to eat, being able to pay the rent and utilities, or becoming homeless. And it’s clear that antipoverty spending has had a tremendous impact.

This week the New York Times reported comprehensive data showing that over the past three decades, child poverty has declined dramatically, down from 28 percent of American children in 1993 to 11 percent in 2019. Much of the credit goes to the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which give significant benefits to low-income Americans.

Now, here’s the bad news: Sadly, the expanded CTC expired at the end of 2021. Almost all Democrats in Congress wanted to extend the expansion, but Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) refused; he reportedly told colleagues he worried that parents would use the money to buy drugs. Without that extra income, millions of children fell back into poverty in 2022.

That only reinforces what a success story pandemic relief was — even if some of its effects were temporary.

These data are also important for another reason. They undercut conservative arguments that such government help must be accompanied with work requirements, lest it incentivize recipients to slip into a “hammock” of “dependency,” as one wretched formulation of the idea has it.

“There was a huge decline in child poverty and a very large increase in parents working year round without any work requirements,” Sherman told us. “We did not need to require the parents to work.”
In practice, work requirements often wind up being little more than a weaponization of bureaucracy against poor people, forcing them to spend enormous amounts of time and energy satisfying paperwork requirements, with the threat of their benefits being withdrawn if they make a mistake.
Ultimately, however, the most important lesson might be this: We can choose to make our economic arrangements fairer. We can make collective decisions that children shouldn’t be disadvantaged at a very young age through no fault of their own.


Making the choice to alleviate poverty early in people’s lives, many economists agree, puts children on a path to becoming healthier, happier, more fulfilled, more productive adults. We have perpetually failed to make that choice, but this time, we did make it, and it worked.
“We decided that we could actually try things,” Sherman told us.

Unfortunately, thanks largely to a certain senator from West Virginia, Democratic majorities in Congress were unable to continue the expanded CTC. But the drop in child poverty is a very big story, and if Democrats can somehow hold those majorities, its legacy should ensure that we don’t make that absurd and unnecessary mistake again.

I wonder how Senator Joe Manchin feels, knowing that he is responsible for the demise of a federal program lifted millions of children out of povètt.

John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, reviews Dana Milbank’s new book about the crackup of the Republican Party. As I have often said, Milbank is my favorite columnist in the Washington Post.

Thompson writes:

Dana Milbank’s The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party is based on his quarter of a century of political reporting. From 1992 to the present the Republicans won the popular vote only once. There were calls for diversity in their party in order to reach more voters, but it went in the opposite direction. In the 1990s, the false and polarizing propaganda of Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Sean Hannity, and Fox News took off, as Newt Gingrich became the key political driver of an ideology that would dismantle legislative norms and institutions.

This piece only has room for a brief overview of the 90s. I assume that readers will see and will be shocked by the cruelty and lies of that decade, and how they foreshadow today’s assaults on democracy.

Milbank starts with the suicide of the Clintons’ aide, Vince Foster. Rush Limbaugh, who called the 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton “the White House dog,” claimed, “Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton.”

The prime donor of Gingrich’s political training organization, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) was Mellon Scaife. Scaife then joined with Christopher Ruddy, who would become Donald Trump’s friend and informal advisor, to found Newsmax. They said Vince Foster’s death showed that Bill Clinton “can order people done away with … God there must be 60 people who have died mysteriously.” (By the way, such words didn’t keep Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating or Congressman J.C. Watts from helping to lead GOPAC.)

Brett Kavanaugh, who assisted in Ken Starr’s investigations of Bill Clinton and helped draft the Starr Report, knew as early as 1995 that “I am satisfied that Foster was sufficiently discouraged or depressed to commit suicide.” But he spent two years investigating, thus legitimizing, what Milbank called “all of the ludicrous claims.” In Kavanaugh’s files, that were released two decades later, were 195 pages of articles by Ruddy and Limbaugh’s transcript on the case.

Milbank writes that once Gingrich became Speaker of House in 1995, he “threw the weight of the speakership behind the Foster conspiracy theory.” That year, Ruddy, Scaife and Newsmax, would spread the lies further.

(By 2016, Rep. Pete Olson said that Bill Clinton admitted to A.G. Loretta Lynch that “we killed Vince Foster.” And Trump said the charges that Foster was murdered are “very serious.” And Milbank concluded that Justice Kavanaugh was not the most ideological of the Supreme Court’s majority, but he was the most political.)

Milbank explains how rightwingers encouraged violence. After the Waco tragedy of 1993, G. Gordon Liddy said of the ATF agents, “Kill the son-of-a-bitches.” Sen. Jesse Helms said “Mr. Clinton better watch his guard if he comes down here (North Carolina). He’d better have a bodyguard.”

Moreover, even though the Fish and Wildlife Department didn’t have helicopters, Rep. Helen Chenoweth said they were “sending armed agency officials and helicopters” to enforce regulations and “if they didn’t stop, I will be their “worst nightmare.”

In 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Building killed 168 people; Timothy McVeigh said his terrorist act was designed “to put a check on government abuse of power.” But some rightwingers claimed the bombing “was really a botched plot” by the FBI.

Also, Limbaugh asserted, “President Clinton’s ties to the domestic terrorism of Oklahoma City are tangible.” And Gingrich responded by defending the “genuine fears” of rural America regarding the federal government, and doubled down on repealing of the assault weapons ban.

Milbank goes into detail recounting how Gingrich “changed forever the language of politics.” Gingrich quoted Mao saying, “Politics is war without blood.” And he repeatedly made charges such as the Democrats “‘trash’ America, indict the president and give the benefit of every doubt to Marxist regimes.”

In 1977, a year before Gingrich was first elected, Milbank reports that a Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress. After 15 years of his “relentless” attacks, that number was down to 18%. Gingrich then undermined congressional norms that encouraged compromise and constructive actions. During his legislative career, committee and sub-committee meetings dropped by nearly half. By 2017, they had dropped by almost 75%. The ability of Presidents to get laws passed was also undermined. Presidents’ legislative victories dropped from 73% of the agenda under Nixon. At the beginning of the Clinton term, he had a victory rate of 87% but by 2016, President Obama’s rate was 13%.

Another pivotal change occurred after the 1996 defeat of Bob Dole. Republican aide Margaret Tutwiler said, “We’re going to have to take on [board] the religious nuts.” A couple of decades later, White evangelicals were only 15% of the US population but about 40% of Trump’s voters.

And with the arrival of Karl Rove’s anti-gay “whisper campaign” against George W. Bush’s opponent, Ann Richards, personal attacks escalated dramatically. Another example of campaign lies was the attack on Sen. John McCain’s mental stability, and the claim he had “fathered an illegitimate black child.” Actually McCain had adopted a daughter from a Bangladesh orphanage.

Although I had been horrified by the behaviors of the rightwing, Milbank’s details provided me a much better understanding of how the views I’ve held allowed me to remain excessively optimistic. I used to believe that it was deindustrialization and the loss of economic opportunity (accelerated by Reagan’s job-killing Supply Side economics) that mostly fed the racism which propelled Trump into the White House. Now I’m convinced by Milbank’s evidence that it was racism – not economics – that spurred Trumpism.

Also, I had misremembered Mitch McConnell’s record in the 1990s. In 1993, McConnell joined Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms in defending the Confederate flag on the Senate floor, saying, “My roots … run deep in the Southern part of the country.” And he stood before a huge Confederate flag at a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

In 1997, McConnell said in a fundraising letter, “Help to protect our country from a potentially devastating nuclear attack.” And he alleged, Clinton’s White House was “sold for ILLEGAL FOREIGN CASH”

I’m assuming that readers of this blog will quickly understand how the Alt Facts spread by politicians like Gingrich are linked to today’s crises. By 2018, only 16% of Republicans trusted the media over Trump. In 2020, people who said they were “very happy” dropped to 14% compared to the previous low of 29%.

Two years later, the attempted kidnapping of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer showed how the worsening rhetoric was putting people in danger. In 2019, hate crimes increased by 30%, and over 18 months in 2020 and 2021, the FBI nearly tripled its domestic terrorism caseload. FBI director Christopher Wray said, “The violence in 2020 is unlike what we’ve seen in quite some time.” And who knows what the numbers are in the wake of Trump’s response to the subpoenaing of the Secret documents?

The 25-year rightwing siege and Trumpism has put our democracy at risk. Being from Oklahoma City, I’m increasingly worried about the chances of bloodshed. And I’m doubly concerned after reading The Destructionists.

In 1994, Vice President Al Gore explained, “The Republicans are determined to wreck Congress in order to control it – and then wreck a presidency in order to recapture it.” Now, Milbank concludes. “A quarter century after a truck bomb set by an antigovernment extremist … Republicans have lit a fuse on democracy itself.”

South Carolina may soon have one of the cruelest bans on abortion in the nation. The affluent women who want an abortion will fly or drive to another state to get an abortion. Those who can’t afford to flee to another state, one that does not criminalize reproductive rights, will bear babies they can’t afford or don’t want. They will be forced to carry dead fetuses in their wombs. They will be compelled to give birth to the child of their rapist or their father or brother. Teenagers—children themselves— impregnated by a rapist will be forced to be mothers instead of getting an education.

CNN reports:

CNN) – A South Carolina Senate committee voted Tuesday afternoon to send a proposed near-total ban on abortion to the state Senate for consideration after first removing an exception for rape and incest — a move sure to set up a fight over the legislation in the full chamber.

The South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee advanced House Bill 5399 in a 9-8 vote, with two Republicans joining Democrats in voting against it. The Senate is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

Several members of the state Senate, as well as the House, have said they cannot support a bill that does not include an exception for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

The state Senate committee voted 7-3 on Tuesday morning to eliminate an exception added by the state House last week for cases of rape or incest up to 12 weeks after conception, with required reporting to law enforcement.

This is the sadistic work of Republican men—in this instance, only Republican men—who value fetuses more than the lives of women. Once those fetuses are born, these same men will not provide healthcare or any of the basics of life.

They love the unborn. They don’t give a damn about the born.

Blake Masters is the Republican candidate opposing incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona. Masters is closely allied with misogynistic billionaire Peter Thiel.

On his campaign website, he declared that was completely opposed to abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions. He said he was “100% pro-life.” He called Roe v. Wade a “horrible” decision.

He called for “a federal personhood law (ideally a Constitutional amendment) that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.”

But then came the election in Kansas, where Republican women joined with Democrats to block an effort to remove the right to an abortion from the state constitution.

Now, reports the Arizona Republic, Masters has softened the language on his website to pretend to be a moderate on abortion. In other words, he is trying to pull a Kavanaugh, pretending that he is not what he is.

He removed the reference to being “100% pro-life.” He claims to support reasonable limits on abortion, no longer completely opposed to it. The Roe decision is now described as “bad,” not “horrible.” He now claims to support Arizona’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Masters campaign did not immediately elaborate on the website changes. He launched a digital ad Thursday addressing abortion, in which he says, “Most people support commonsense regulation around abortion.”

Kelly has supported federal abortion rights and blasted the Supreme Court’s ruling doing away with them.

He said about the Dobbs’ decision overturning Roe v. Wade:

“Today’s decision is a giant step backward for our country. Women deserve the right to make their own decisions about abortion. It is just wrong that the next generation of women will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did,” he said in a written statement.

“In Arizona, there are already restrictive bans on the books that will take rights away from Arizona women, without exceptions even in the case of rape or incest. I know that this decision and these laws are leaving many Arizonans frustrated and scared. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. I am resolved to defend and protect the right of Arizona women to make their own health care decisions.”

Masters has called Kelly an extremist for defending a right that existed for nearly half a century.

As Masters tries to rewrite his own history, will the women of Arizona be fooled?

Nearly two dozen states have moved to restrict abortion or ban it altogether since the reversal of Roe v. Wade — meaning more people, especially those with low incomes and from marginalized communities, will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

So are states prepared to pay for the infrastructure needed to support these parents and children? The data paints a grim picture for many families: Mothers and children in states with the toughest abortion restrictions tend to have less access to health care and financial assistance, as well as worse health outcomes.

Stuart Butler, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, calls the end of Roe “a double whammy” for people who live in these states, which are mostly in the South.

“They are far less likely to have assistance for themselves and their children, and they are far less likely to have health care available to them when they are pregnant and for their children,” he tells Morning Edition. “And that means that there’s going to be not only more hardship, but greater health problems and maternal deaths and so on … unless there is a fundamental change in political behavior in those states.”

As NPR has reported, a large body of research shows that being denied an abortion limits peoples’ education, time in the workforce and wages, with the economic consequences extending well into the lives of their children. One groundbreaking project called The Turnaway Study spent a decade comparing the experiences of people who had abortions with those who wanted abortions but were denied them, and found that those who were denied treatment experienced worse economic and mental health outcomes than those who received care.

Dr. Diana Greene Foster, the demographer behind the study, told NPR in May that the findings show that pregnant people who are unable to get a safe, legal abortion and end up carrying the pregnancy to term will experience long-term physical and economic harm.

“We haven’t become a more generous country that supports low-income mothers,” she added. “And so those outcomes are still the outcomes that people will experience when they are denied a wanted abortion.”

Like many other states, Texas is facing a dramatic shortage of teachers. Teachers are fed up by low pay, poor working conditions, and the disrespect heaped on them by hare-brained politicians like Governor Gregg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. While the politicians blabber on about “parental rights,” by which they mean the right of parents to dictate curriculum and to censor books, none of them talk about the value of teachers and their importance.

Politicians tell teachers that they must not discuss gender or sexuality. They must not discuss the past or presence of racism, which is alive and well in Texas and everywhere else. Politicians prattle on about “critical race theory,” which they do not understand and cannot define. Bottom line, they don’t want teachers to talk about racism because it makes the politicians uncomfortable; it makes racists uncomfortable when you mention their bigotry.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

More Texas teachers are considering leaving the profession than at any point in the last 40 years, according to new polling from the Texas State Teachers Association.

The survey found that 70 percent of teachers were seriously considering quitting this year, a substantial jump from the 53 percent who said so in 2018, the last time the typically biennial survey was conducted. Teachers attributed their grim outlook to pandemic-related stress, political pressure from state lawmakers, less support from parents and stretched finances.

I don’t know where they got that “last 40 years” number, because there was never a time when so many teachers were ready to throw in the towel and walk away from their classrooms.

Texas can’t afford to pay teachers more? Nonsense. Texas, under Abbott’s non-leadership, doesn’t want to pay teachers more. Abbott sees more to be gained politically by demonizing teachers.

In the survey, which was completed by 688 Texas teachers, 94 percent said the pandemic increased their professional stress, and 82 percent said financial stress was exacerbated. Experts have pointed to better pay as a key way to recruit and retain teachers. Respondents taught for about 16 years on average, and their average salary was around $59,000. That’s about $7,000 below the national trend, according to the teachers association.

Besides salary, Texas teachers on average also receive some of the worst retirement benefits of those in any state, a separate study from June found. Teachers who have retired since 2004 have not received a cost-of-living adjustment, although the Legislature has passed some “13th check” bills that send extra annuity payments.

In addition to pay, 85 percent said they felt state lawmakers held a negative view of teachers, 65 percent said the public held a negative view and 70 percent said support from parents had decreased over the last several years.

Abbott and fellow Republicans in the Texas Legislature have recently enacted several high-profile education policies, over opposition from teachers groups and education experts.

Last year, the Legislature placed restrictions on social studies curriculum, prohibiting certain discussions about racism. Abbott banned school districts from instituting mask mandates last fall, as COVID-19 cases surged. And schools are now facing calls for censorship of books that include discussions about race, gender or sexual orientation.

“For political reasons, Gov. Abbott has been trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers, and this has definitely hurt teachers and hurt their students as well. It threatens the future of public education in Texas,” wrote TSTA President Ovidia Molina.

“Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time.”

Abbott has defended the measures as a way to depoliticize education and restore power to families about what their children do and don’t learn. He is calling for “Parental Bill of Rights” legislation next year to give parents even more control, as conservatives criticize the public school system as too progressive.

“Many parents are growing increasingly powerless about what to do to regain that control. That must end,” Abbott has said. “No government program can replace the role that parents play in the education of their children.”

A spokeswoman for the governor, Renae Eze, emphasized his commitment to education funding and “support for our hardworking teachers.”

“In 2019, the Governor signed into law one of the biggest teacher pay raises in our state’s history—over $1 billion in annual investment—and established the Teacher Incentive Allotment, which puts teachers on a pathway to earning a six-figure salary while prioritizing high-need areas and rural schools,” Eze said.

The Teacher Incentive Allotment gives raises to high-performing teachers. It has been rolled out to about 10 percent of Texas’ roughly 1,200 school districts, but almost all of the funds for the statewide program go to Dallas ISD — receiving 10 times more than any other district. The program is opposed by teachers unions, which advocate instead for universal raises.

Here are a few thoughts for Governor Abbot.

You have done everything possible to politicize the classroom with your bans and censorship.

You have insulted teachers.

You have pitted parents against teachers.

You have put your money into a merit pay incentive program that has never worked anywhere in the nation. Ever.

Your gag orders, your insertion of politics into what teachers teach, your hostility to public education demonstrates your contempt for teachers.

Your devotion to vouchers shows that you prefer schools where teachers have no certification, no preparation at all to teach. If you get your way, employers will avoid Texas. You favor indoctrination over education. You oppose freedom of thought. Your students will finish high school poorly educated. Texas will go backwards.

Shame on you.