Tuesday News Bits: Ronna McDaniel, Gag Orders, Mifepristone

The New York Post is reporting that NBC has un-hired ex-RNC chair Ronna McDaniel after most of the senior on-air staff revolted this week. NBC News has yet to issue an announcement, so we’ll see. But when even Chuck Todd pushes back against the establishment, you’re in trouble. And Rachel Maddow pretty much had the last word.

Update: It’s now being announced on MSNBC that McDaniel is out.

In other news: Trump has a new gag order.

The judge presiding over the New York criminal case against Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped the former president with a partial gag order.

The ruling from Judge Juan Merchan orders Trump to “refrain” from “making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation” in the falsifying business records case, as well as about individual prosecutors, court staff, jurors and potential jurors.

The order does not apply to the judge or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments about mifepristone, the so-called abortion pill. The broad consensus in commentary today is that the Court doesn’t seem inclined to restrict the drug. Most of the rightie judges seem mostly concerned that physicians should be able to refuse to perform an abortion if it is against their personal beliefs. Which I’m pretty sure is how things work in this country anyway.

The arguments today included mention of the Comstock Act. I learned about the Comstock Act of 1873 in undergraduate college courses more than 50 years ago, and even then it was presented as some kind of freakish curiosity from less enlightened times. Like Victorian waist-cinchers. Back in the day the Comstock Act prevented information about birth control from being sent in the mail, because birth control was “obscene” and “illicit.” This part of the law was amended in the 1930s. I had not realized the law was still on the books, though. It was kind of unreal to have the Fetus People dredge it up in their argument in favor of a national abortion ban. The BBC reports,

The Comstock Act, championed by anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock and passed in 1873, made it a federal crime to send or receive any material deemed “obscene, lewd or lascivious”. The statute makes specific mention of birth control and abortion, barring any materials designed or intended for “the prevention of conception or procuring of abortion”.

Over the next century, various court rulings clarified the law’s meaning, gradually narrowing its scope. In 1971, Congress removed most of Comstock’s restrictions on contraceptives and two years later, through Roe, the Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion. By then, the act was seen as a largely unenforceable relic, and remained dormant for 50 years.

But now, within right-wing circles, the Comstock Act is being revived.

Without Roe in place to guarantee access to abortion, the logic is straightforward. According to a broad reading of the law, the mailing of any materials related to abortion – through the United States Postal Service and through private carriers like UPS and FedEx – would be illegal.

By preventing any of the medications or tools necessary for the procedure from reaching hospitals and clinics, Comstock would act as an effective block on abortions, getting around the need for Congress to pass any new legislation.

“It is sweepingly broad language,” said Rachel Rebouché, dean and law professor at Temple University Law school, and a leading scholar in reproductive health law. “If it was applied literally, it [Comstock] could be a ban on an abortion in an indirect way, because everything gets mailed to outfit abortion clinics.”

It seems to me there would be ways of getting around that, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

12 thoughts on “Tuesday News Bits: Ronna McDaniel, Gag Orders, Mifepristone

  1. On Ronna McDaniel, after she got bounced from the RNC by Donald, I suppose she started fishing for a job that would pay well but not require work. Being a talking head for a network seemed promising. It's my guess that NBC made it clear that election denial was a deal-breaker so she had a change of heart and declared Biden DID win the election. This does not satisfy me – she was on the wrong side of the issue for over three years and only had a come-to-Jesus moment when her new job required it. If NBC could hire Liz Cheney as their conservative commentator, I'd seldom agree with her conservative politics but I can always respect her commitment to democracy. She's paid dearly for holding to real principles.

    I have not seen Rachel's commentary yet. If she came to the same place, it was independently. I'm fine with sharing this country with conservatives who have integrity – I do have a problem with the new conservatism that has NO integrity. NBC should be able to see this more clearly than a retired mailman.

    Trump will appeal the gag order but by now the courts in NY should have had enough. I hope they dismiss it quickly and maybe with the warning that breaking the gag order will have consequences. The appeals court will likely sustain sanctions against Trump if he disregards the order.
    From what I read, Trump is going to up the level of antics from the civil trials that cost Trump so dearly in NY. Trump can't back down – his whole schtick is built on the myth of being a tough guy. So far this judge is taking ZERO BS from Trump's lawyer. The potential of the trial is not just a criminal conviction – Trump will probably do major grandstanding outside the courtroom and his most recent forays into off-the-cuff bombast have been a disaster. 

    On the USSC: the judges (from what I read) were not buying the zany argument that the ethical objections of a few doctors against abortion should tie the hands of all doctors who do not share their beliefs. Those who read USSC tea leaves seem to think this one's a gonner. 

  2. Writings about contraception and abortions are obscene, lewd and lascivious only to those who get sexually excited by contraception and abortion. Which makes me wonder about Comstock.

  3. Writings about contraception and abortion are "obscene, lewd, and lascivious" only to those who are sexually aroused by contraception and abortion. What an odd kink. Now I wonder about Comstock.

  4. I read a lot about Comstock while I was in college.

    He was a busy-body, and a weirdo.

    I had read that Comstock, the man, was reportedly a chronic masturbator.

    No, really!

    He really was!

    And he was pretty easily triggered. 

    Apparently, ads in magazines and newspapers got him hot and bothered.

    And Comstock was bothered by his masturbatory excess.

    And so, rather than enjoy himself, alone, he decided to inflict his beliefs on everyone.

    Hence,as a result of this lunatic's sexual problems, his easy trigger-ability, and his guilt over going solo, resulted in the act that bears

    I'm tellin' ya, ya can't make this shit up!!!

    • I had read that Comstock, the man, was reportedly a chronic masturbator.

      That might explain why he was so intent on destroying Ida Craddock. She proclaimed a man's moose juice as being a sacred substance so he must have had a bone pick/pull with her.

  5. What bothers me most is the fact that NBC thought she was a good catch.  I read that Geraldo Rivera is bigly upset by her firing and mad at Rachel Maddow; so that's something to smile about.

    • If what you care about is heated controversy, outrage, clicks, eyeballs, and revenue, she's the perfect choice. Truth? not so much.

      It really reveals what matters to the suits.

  6. As far as Rona Romney goes, I wish they would have kept her on a couple more weeks and persisted in getting answers as to specifically was "issues" did the 2020 election have? Our news media and frankly Democrats in congress have sort of let the "issue with election" talking point go for far too long. It seems as long as a former election denier admits that Biden is indeed the president they are allowed to qualify his victory with "issues with the election". All this has done is leave a dark shadow of doubt that the right wing fever swamp uses as fuel to prove in their tiny minds that the election was rigged, it had "issues". I would have liked the bobble heads at nbc/msnbc ask for specifics, what issues exactly, why has Stump spent millions in legal filings but not one penny in trying to prove the election was rigged. What about the fucking cyber ninjas, what about the endless recounts, what about DOJ's pronouncement that there were no issues? They let her on the air as an employee, and she perpetuated the big lie, then she was fired. I would have liked to see her feet held to the fire, make her sweat a bit before the termination notice? NBC had her as an employee they should have tried to ring the truth out of that lying mouth of hers, I would have liked to see her with Lawernce O'Donnell and his army of former DOJ attorney types interrogate her on  air for the full hour, then show her the door!

  7. Joe Lieberman died today

    I don'cheer people's deaths.

    Why cheer, when a wry smile suffices? 

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