An Open Letter To The Editor Of NJ.com
To The Editor:
Late Saturday night I came across an “editorial” by George Berkin, titled, “Say no to gay marriage.” I confess, my outrage was palpable, and, reading his one thousand four hundred ninety-one words of ignorance, bigotry, illogic, and just plain, old-fashioned hatred, I slept little and contemplated lots.
I decided, rather than blame Mr. Berkin for his ignorance, I should blame you. After all, you provide his platform. It’s obvious, were he actually someone of any intellect or importance, his only claim to fame wouldn’t be NJ.com – he would have a book, or a talk show, or published works elsewhere, or speaking engagements, or even a large following on Twitter! -Â something other than a column in your publication. Best I can tell, he was a reporter who got a column, which is more than honorable, yet, in this case, an obvious error in your judgment.
After all, anyone with any logic will tell you that Mr. Berkin’s words, for instance, “I love my dog, but no rational person hears wedding bells for me and Spot” are illogical, and ill-informed.
Mr. Berkin, “traditional” marriage’s self-anointed protector in the Garden State, should be the first to know that, among other things, marriage is a contract between two consenting adults. Unless Mr. Berkin can prove that his dog is equally “in love” with him, and can sign a marriage license, and it is to the benefit of society that they be wed, and his dog is of sound mind to make such a decision, and that his dog is a human being, the “man-dog” marriage argument is, as it has always been, fallacious and idiotic.
Speaking of ill-informed and just plain wrong, let’s take his statement, “So-called gay ‘marriage’ makes a mockery of traditional marriage because ‘gay’ sexual relations do not hold to the monogamous behavior that traditional marriages hold to, or strive for.”
How would Mr. Berkin know what “gay sexual relations” “hold to or strive for?” The fact is that there are millions of gay Americans who desperately want nothing more than a monogamous relationship, “til death do we part.” One that is recognized equally by the state and equal to all other marriages. You can put me down as one.
But perhaps Mr. Berkin thinks that all those “traditional” marriages that are troubled by infidelity are OK. Most recently of note, Tiger Woods’ marriage. Senator Ensign’s. Governor Sanford’s. Oh, so very many more.
But back to you, the Editor. How can you in good conscience allow lies and mis-information to be published, as opinion or not, under your masthead? Mis-information, like Berkin’s statement, “…researchers found that more than 40 percent of homosexuals said that they have had more than 500 sexual partners. Only 1 percent had fewer than four sexual partners.”
Well, those “researchers” are the “Family Research Council.” Any credibleÂ scientist or researcher will tell you that those studies are just plain fiction and without merit – and long since disproved. It does your readers and the citizens of your state a true injustice and disservice for you Â to allow those lies to be published in NJ.com. Shame on you!
Then there’s his flat-out lie: “…so-called gay â€œmarriageâ€ would destroy religious freedom, because churches would not be allowed to act on traditional (or biblical) standards of sexual conduct.”
(At this point, one is forced to ask if Mr. Berkin is willing to include the decades of priest sexual abuse of children as “traditional (or biblical) standards of sexual conduct?”)
And then there’s this “gem” from your columnist:
“…if a gay marriage law goes into effect in New Jersey, pastors across the state could face legal sanctions if they preach the clear meaning of the text. The sanctions will likely be cast in terms of ‘anti-discrimination’ laws.”
The only way a gay marriage law would force “pastors across the state [to] face legal sanctions if they preach the clear meaning of the [bible’s] text” is if they also somehow compelled their congregations into stoning same sex couples. Considering the Church’s lack of ability over the past few decades to compel their congregations to follow less-controversial tenets of the bible, such as forgoing birth control methods, I doubt any pastor who advocated stoning would be arrested, as no one who listen.
The laws of this country, right or wrong, have always supported religion’s “right” to discriminate. Same sex marriage would have no effect on the Church’s right to continue to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.
Therefore, “Bull,” sir, is all I have to say!
I’ve taken up enough of your time. There is a difference between publishing a wide-range of differing opinions, and publishing lies. You have, time and time again when it comes to Mr. Berkin, chosen the latter. Bottom line: George Berkin’s writings are ill-informed, illogical, and misdirected. You, as the Editor, have no business allowing him a platform to preach his hate to your readers.
Fortunately, it appears your readers are smarter than you: In this one piece, “Say no to gay marriage,” there are as of this writing, twenty-five comments; twenty-three are entirely against George Berkin. Those who believe (as I do not) that marriage should be put to a vote, would surely be voting against George Berkin.
The citizens of the fine state of New Jersey deserve better from him and from you.
God willing, I trust this week they will get it – sadly, not from NJ.com, but from the New Jersey Senate.
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Democrats Discredit GOP Claims on IVF as Republicans Try to Regain Ground After Fallout
One week after the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled frozen human embryos are “children,” causing several medical institutions to pause their in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, Alabama and the GOP have seen tremendous nationwide anger, upset, and confusion from the left and the right over the decision, the Christian nationalist chief judge, and the Republican Party that set this in motion.
Now, GOP lawmakers and political groups are trying to regain ground after some Republicans quickly embraced the decision that, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre predicted Tuesday, would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”
“As a reminder,” Jean-Pierre added, “this is the same state whose attorney general threatened to prosecute people who help women travel out of state to seek the care they need.”
President Joe Biden condemned the Alabama ruling: “The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.”
But U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) cheered his state’s Supreme Court, while appearing to not fully grasp what IVF is.
“I was all for it,” he said of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, calling young people “our number one commodity.”
But when pressed, Tuberville declared, “I’d have to look at the entire bill, how it’s written, I have not seen it,” referring not to legislation but the ruling.
And when told that women will now not be able to have IVF treatments, Tuberville repeatedly replied it was “unfortunate.”
“Oh…my…God.” Morning Joe hosts gobsmacked by clueless Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville twisting himself into knots. (Video: MSNBC) pic.twitter.com/huTuksbnuV
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 23, 2024
On Thursday night, speaking to a group of religious broadcasters, Donald Trump denounced the Alabama ruling and vowed to protect IVF. On Friday, the beleaguered Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued a memo directing Republicans to defend IVF. Also Friday, the Attorney General for the state of Alabama, mentioned earlier by the White House Press Secretary, effectively suggested he would ignore the state supreme court’s ruling, promising to not prosecute IVF families, as ABC News reported.
But Democrats are making clear that despite whatever claims or promises Republicans make, the IVF ruling is the direction conservatives are taking the Republican Party.
“First Republicans banned abortions so women couldn’t terminate a pregnancy. Now they are coming for IVF so women can’t begin a pregnancy. The GOP agenda is about one thing: government control of women,” observed U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (photo).
CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox reports a new NRSC memo “instructs [GOP] candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF.”
Just hours later, Sen. Murphy responded, saying, “umm the chairman of the NRSC sponsored the bill to ban IVF.”
He added, “newsflash: no matter what they tell their candidates to pretend, when they get power they use it to control women.”
The NRSC’s goal is to help get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. It is chaired by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a MAGA Republican and member of the Senate’s Pro-Life Caucus.
As Bloomberg’s Matthew Yglesias notes, Senator Daines is an original co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act.
Steve Daines, who is advising GOP candidates to say they don’t want to ban IVF, co-sponsored an IVF ban. pic.twitter.com/r4jpD32ViA
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 23, 2024
The Center for American Progress’ Colin Seeberger adds, Daines “quite literally has been a longtime co-sponsor of the Lifetime at Conception Act, which would establish legal protections for the unborn just as the Alabama Supreme Court ordered and has led to the suspension of fertility care across AL.”
Meanwhile, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz notes that the “text of GOP‘s most recent platform claims that ‘the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed’ and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions — and jeopardize IVF — by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.”
Indeed, as The New York Times reported, far-right Christian conservative Tony Perkins, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBTQ extremist group Family Research Council, called the Alabama Supreme Court ruling a “beautiful defense of life and the Alabama Constitution.”
Friday afternoon Donald Trump followed up his vow to protect IVF with a social media post that claims in part, “Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America. Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby.”
Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer responded, asking: “Why would anyone believe this? In 2016, Trump pledged no cuts to Medicaid and then spent four years trying to gut the program.”
And as Axios reports, “House Democrats’ main super PAC is promising to pour money into attacking Republicans on fertility treatments in the wake of a controversial, first-of-its-kind Alabama Supreme Court ruling, Axios has learned.”
“Trump’s call came a day after President Biden’s re-election campaign blamed him for the ruling, noting his appointment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade,” Axios adds. “House Majority PAC, in a memo set to be released Friday, listed nearly a dozen current and former House Republicans in competitive districts who have co-sponsored at least one version of the Life at Conception Act between 2021 and 2023.”
In new memo obtained by CNN, NRSC instructs its candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF pic.twitter.com/kZR5LqRt5p
— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) February 23, 2024
See the social media posts and video above or at this link.
Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report
The re-arrest of Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who allegedly may have provided House Republicans with Kremlin propaganda that was the basis for their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and attack his son Hunter, raised some eyebrows on Thursday.
Smirnov, once considered House Republicans’ Jim Comer and Jim Jordan’s star witness, was re-arrested even after a magistrate judge ordered him released, and at his attorneys’ offices, raising eyebrows from even national security experts, insisting there had better be a good reason for it.
Now, according to a noted legal expert, it appears there was.
“A California judge seems to be suggesting [Smirnov’s] lawyers are complicit in his efforts to flee, in a remarkable line ordering detention for the FBI source whose lies propelled Biden impeachment efforts,” writes professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney.
U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II in his order wrote on Thursday: “It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”
After detailing Smirnov’s arrest and release, Judge Wright ordered his re-arrest, adding: “The U.S. Marshal Service is advised there is to be no deviation from this Order.”
“They did not respond to questions about the language in the judge’s order suggesting a ‘likely’ aim to ‘facilitate’ their client ‘absconding from the United States.'”
Vaccine-Laced Lettuce and Tomatoes? Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Worried
A Tennessee Republican state lawmaker says he’s worried Tennesseans might overdose on vaccines if they eat too many tomatoes.
State Rep. Scott Cepicky claims vaccines can already be added to foods like lettuce and tomatoes, and to tobacco products, so he has filed legislation to require grocery store items containing vaccines to be labeled.
“University of California Riverside has already perfected the ability to put human vaccines into our lettuce right now,” Rep. Cepicky told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday while discussing his legislation. “Also, tomatoes, has the ability to do that also per UC Berkeley. And then big tobacco, RJ Reynolds and stuff has perfected the ability to put a human vaccine in tobacco products.”
Cepicky, who has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), warned, “there is no law, deeming those that when you go into a grocery store, you should know as a consumer, this head of lettuce is a head of lettuce. The head of lettuce right next week could contain a vaccine in it. All we’re saying is if it does have the vaccine in it, make sure it’s listed as a pharmaceutical so people can get the proper dosage.”
Facing some pushback from Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Cepicky went on to say, “This is more of a consumer protection bill right here, is to make sure that if you’re going in to buy tomatoes, and there’s a polio vaccine in there, that you are aware of what you’re buying has a polio vaccine. The problem you have is if it’s not treated as a pharmaceutical, being the size and difference between you and me, how many tomatoes do I have to eat to get the proper dosage versus how many tomatoes that you have to eat? And if you eat too many do you get a overdose?”
Asked if his legislation was necessity, Cepicky added, “Well, if you’d have a child that is allergic to a certain vaccine, and it’s not disclosed, when you go to buy that, that vegetable, whatever it is, and your child dies from that, I would think that having place is going to make sure that that is treated as a pharmaceutical so that the consumers know exactly what they’re buying.”
Anti-vaxers gained a foothold during the COVID pandemic, spreading false claims about vaccines. Last year the fact-checking website Snopes deemed it “false” that “mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines has entered the food supply via genetically modified plants bred to contain it or through the consumption of vaccinated livestock.”
“Claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines ‘in your salad‘ have persisted on the internet and recirculated due to misreadings or misinterpretations of several press releases or scientific research,” Snopes added, “Mike Flynn, during a September 2021 podcast appearance, referenced this research, describing it as ‘putting the vaccine in salad dressing.'”
Flynn, the former Trump U.S. national security advisor, is a far-right Christian nationalist and Trump MAGA activist.
Tennessee lawmakers voted to move Rep. Capicky’s forward.
Watch Rep. Capicky’s remarks below or at this link.
Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) defends his bill to label vaccines (?) in food:
“When you go into a grocery store, you should know … This head of lettuce is a head of lettuce, the head of lettuce right next to it could include a vaccine in it.” pic.twitter.com/Q7fd33H05D
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) February 22, 2024
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