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Law, Unwrapped: Rick Santorum’s Cramped Family Values, Meet The Gallaghers



Rick Santorum has traveled the length and breadth of Iowa during the past… – God, how long is it? – making his case as the purest and truest “family values” culture warrior among a batch that has no shortage of that species. And, with the corn state’s caucuses mercifully upon us, it seems Santorum has finally found some tinder to set off the spark he’s been trying to ignite all this time. He might even win the blasted thing.

So, naturally I’m drawn to ask: What would Rick Santorum think of the Gallaghers?

That family, nominally led by dissipated patriarch Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy), is featured in the Showtime series “Shameless.” About to begin its second season this coming Sunday, “Shameless” is a weekly reminder that, absent sufficient resources and high-functioning parents, bigger families aren’t always better than smaller ones. The six-kid family’s survival depends on a toxic mix of petty theft and fraud, and the oldest sister, 21-year-old, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) who (barely) keeps the whole thing glued together, hasn’t the maturity to deal effectively with her siblings’ manifold dysfunctions. The alcoholic Frank is mostly a destructive force, and his wife, Monica (the rarely seen Chloe Webb), is a walking compendium of serious psychological issues who ditched her family some time ago.

What has any of this to do with Santorum? I’m coming to that.

Santorum’s moral universe is a simple and clear one, where no one uses contraception (much less aborts any fetus, no matter the circumstances), no one has sexual relations before marriage, and marriage is the norm to which everyone aspires. Gender nonconformists – for him, that’s everyone except devout heterosexuals – don’t exist, at least not as beings who act on their innermost emotional truths. Lifelong abstinence should be our aspiration.

To his credit, at least Santorum’s own marriage and life appear to reflect his own ideals. He’s the father of seven kids, the youngest of whom has a serious condition not unlike Down Syndrome; I’m confident in thinking that the Santorums never seriously considered abortion.

But not every family has the emotional, financial, and physical resources that the Santorum family has. Some are, tragically, too much like the Gallaghers. Should similarly situated folks really decline to use contraception, even while their resources are strained and they and their families are falling apart? Is abortion never to be a legal option for anyone, no matter what? Santorum might respond that families that can’t bear the weight of additional kids should abstain from sex, but that’s neither a realistic option nor, we should quickly add, an emotionally healthy one. Indeed, once we get beyond Santorum’s abstractions we can see that uncontracepted sex is often less emotionally healthy than the alternative. Couples may better enjoy sexual intimacy with their partners if it’s not shadowed by the possibility of bearing a child that the couple – for whatever reason – is ill-equipped to deal with.

That’s not the worst of it, by a long shot. Santorum is also notoriously against support programs of all sorts – and by this I mean government assistance and the kind of social capital on which so many families rely. He’s railed against welfare, food stamps, and – of course – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare.”)

His positions don’t make any sense, but they make good red meat rhetoric. His argument against food stamps (so many people are obese, so no one needs more food!) operates in blinding ignorance of public health research about food choices in poor neighborhoods, while his assertion that health care reform would mean compromised treatment for people like his disabled daughter are directly contrary to fact. And his dismissal of the idea that it “takes a village” to raise a child because the phrase comes from “an African proverb” combines barely veiled racism with a pie-in-the-sky faith in families that’s belied by the facts. Many families want and need that village, and kids, especially as they get older, need other healthy adult influences.

Even stable opposite-sex couples whom you might expect to marry are moving away from the institution. Barely half of all adults are married now, and, as I discuss in this article over at Slate, some straight folks are even starting to choose civil unions over marriage – even though civil unions convey fewer benefits and were intended as a compromise for gay and lesbian couples shut out of marriage. An institution in this much trouble needs more than Santorum’s naïve homilies, which do nothing to encourage marriage but may drive even more people in the other direction by making matrimony seem out-of-touch with the complexities of today’s families.

Of course, Santorum’s not going to be the President. A win in the Iowa caucus would, in the end, provide only further ammo for the argument that this unrepresentative quadrennial political event only serves to drive the Republican party into the embrace of evangelical Christians at the expense of alienating almost everyone else. But his views are a damaging distraction from the real and serious debates that we need to have about marriage and how to value all families — and the villages that sustain them.

 Image, top, via Facebook

Were he born 10,000 years ago, John Culhane would not have survived to adulthood; he has no useful, practical skills. He is a law professor who writes about various and sundry topics, including: disaster compensation; tort law; public health law; literature; science; sports; his own personal life (when he can bear the humanity); and, especially, LGBT rights and issues. He teaches at the Widener University School of Law and is a Senior Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health.

He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, and writes his own eclectic blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you’re blessed with lots of time.

John Culhane lives in the Powelton Village area of Philadelphia with his partner David and their twin daughters, Courtnee and Alexa. Each month, he awaits the third Saturday evening for the neighborhood Wine Club gathering.

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‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’



Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.

Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.

Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”

When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”

“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.

“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.

READ MORE: ‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert

But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.

He refused to answer.

Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.

“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”

At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.

Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.

But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”

The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.

At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert



The first of 19 co-defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ RICO and election interference case against Donald Trump has pleaded guilty in what is being described as a “plea deal.”

“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”

CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”

Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”

See the graphic above or at this link.


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Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report



With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.

“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.

NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”

A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.




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