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    Ann Rostow: Advise and Consent, And Make It Quick

    By Ann Rostow–

    It looks as if we have dodged the horrendous possibility that something might happen to Justice Breyer during a Republican-led Senate. Now that Breyer has done the right thing and resigned, we have a good chance of replacing him with an exciting young justice, barring any more stroke victims on the Democratic side of the aisle. Hello, Biden and Schumer! Hurry it up. I’m not familiar with the various women on Biden’s short list, but California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger is pretty damned impressive for one. 

    Meanwhile, the President and the Majority Leader have been doing a nice job filling federal judgeships, and progressives of a certain age are stepping down or taking senior status so the Democrats can pick their replacements. Every week I read about another outrageously bad Trump judge, so our side can’t work fast enough. I just saw a story in the New Republic about a judge named Lawrence VanDyke, who sits on the Ninth Circuit thanks to Trump, even though the American Bar Association called him unqualified, “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” After interviews with dozens of colleagues and people who worked with him, the article continued, the ABA said VanDyke: “lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” That didn’t stop McConnell and his buddies from giving VanDyke the thumbs up a couple of years ago. Of course not.

    Well, you should read the rest of Matt Ford’s article if you really want a picture of this bozo, which you don’t because it’s just depressing. We can’t get these idiots off the bench, but we can get our own numbers up, which is what we are doing at the moment. Keep at it, guys.

    No Let Up in Transgender Wars 

    In other court news, the Supreme Court recently let stand a transgender victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where a 2–1 panel ruled that transgender plaintiffs can carry on with their lawsuit against the North Carolina state health insurance program (which has a long name I won’t look up). For several years now, North Carolina has decided not to cover transgender medical needs in direct violation of Obamacare’s anti-discrimination language. Since the Obamacare terms are mandatory for those accepting federal funds, like North Carolina, the state would seem to be in violation. Thanks to the High Court’s admirable discretion in this particular case, we will see if the Tar Heels continue to get away with this as the litigation moves forward. 

    And in other transgender news, the drama over women’s sports continues as USA Swimming just came out with brand new standards for transgender athletes. Trans women in college have been following NCAA rules that require them to take one year of testosterone blockers before they can compete. Now that the NCAA has delegated regulations to the entities that govern individual sports, the swimming gods have decided that trans women must block male hormones for three years, not one. 

    This puts Penn State’s ace, Lia Thomas, in a bind since she has blocked testosterone for just short of 36 months, and her status for the February Ivy League championships and the March NCAA championships might be in doubt. The new policy also says athletes must provide evidence that going through puberty as their sex assigned at birth does not give them “a competitive advantage over” their cisgender opponents. As I said last issue, this seems like something that will work just fine for mediocre transgender women. As for someone like Thomas, she definitely has a competitive advantage here because it seems as if she’s a better swimmer! Will that in itself disqualify her? I don’t know. There’s also some panel that will evaluate some cases, but you get the picture. It’s a mess. 

    What’s the Matter with Kristi?

    Speaking of trans athletes, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem just signed another one of those bans on trans girls in public school and college sports, making the Coyote State the tenth to outlaw competition for female transgender athletes. I was checking whether or not her name was spelled “Kristy” or “Kristi” just now, when I found a Daily Beast article linked as: “The Republican Knives Are Out for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.” 

    That settled my original question, but naturally I had to read the piece. Why would the GOP have their knives out for this ultra conservative, Trumpy mask-hating, anti-GLBT nutcase who seems right up their alley? First, it turns out she’s not very nice. Second, the local politicians sound a bit misogynistic. Third, she has been caught taking private jets all over the place when she should be working. Fourth, she tried to arm twist the state authorities to get a real estate license for her daughter (or something like that). Fifth, she has been trying to get rid of the state attorney general, who killed a man in a road accident, but the legislature won’t remove the guy because they don’t want Noem to have the power to replace him. Finally, she works odd hours and never has any parties or invites her colleagues to the Governor’s mansion. Oh, and she’s ambitious.

    I don’t mind admitting that I got quite a bit of satisfaction out of that article.

    I also noticed an MSNBC headline that said: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will hurt LGBTQ teens.” For some reason, I thought it meant that DeSantis was coming out against the bill that would block any discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Well, that’s I surprise, I said to myself. He’s not completely horrible. 

    Of course, I misread the possessive apostrophe. It should read something like “Governor’s Don’t Say Gay bill will hurt gay teens.” The bill is somewhere in committee, seeping through the legislature in Tallahassee like brackish water through the streets of South Beach.

    That’s So Gaya

    What else is new, you may wonder? Well, while we’re in South Beach, how about the four guys who attacked two gay men during Pride a few years ago? The men recently tried to convince a judge that they were acting in self-defense because one of the victims “bumped” one of the attackers. The judge was not impressed with this argument and they will face a jury for battery and hate crime charges.

    And the powers that be in Gaya, India, are trying to get international aviation authorities to change their airport code, which for years and years has been “GAY.” The Gaya people insist that this code is inappropriate for a “holy city.” But so far, the International Air Transport Association has said that codes are permanent and cannot be changed without a “justifiable reason primarily related to air safety.”

    I see that someone has created, or is creating, a GLBT cryptocurrency called “maricoin,” which will start trading (wherever such things are traded) on February 22. Various people objected to the name, which deliberately echoes the pejorative term “maricon.” And please don’t ask me to explain what’s gay about a cryptocurrency. I guess it can only be used in transactions with gay friendly organizations, but given that I’m not sure how one can actually use crypto for transactions to begin with, I’m kind of at sea. 

    Finally, two of our beloved gay penguins hatched an egg at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, the other day. I gather that this zoo specializes in Humboldt penguins, and has had a problem with heterosexual penguin pairs accidentally breaking their eggs and generally failing to step up to the plate when it comes to hatching the unborn chicks. To the rescue came Elmer and Lima, who the zoo keepers told NBC News were “exemplary in every aspect of egg care.” 

    Lock Him Up

    How did we miss this unpleasantness out of Missouri, where a 29-year-old father who complained about gay library books was just nabbed for child molestation? Ryan Utterback, 29, went to a North Kansas City school board meeting to insist that the school libraries remove Alison Bechdel’s (brilliant) graphic novel Fun Home, along with All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. “I understand their struggles and it’s not lost on me,” Utterback told the local news at the time. “But again, those conversations are to be had at home. Only I have their intimate understanding as to what is and isn’t appreciated for my children.” (Huh? That doesn’t even make sense.)

    According to PinkNews, which cites the Kansas City Star, Utterback was charged with molestation on December 14, along with a lesser charge of trying to show pornography to a minor. He is accused of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 12 in December of 2020, and showing porn to a four-year-old. He also allegedly had some physical contact with a 14-year-old who was uncomfortable during the incident. Utterback has pleaded not guilty, and is due in court for a second hearing next month. 

    For the record, the school district did, in fact, remove the books, but they put them back late last year after complaints from the public and the ACLU. 

    I was going to make a Missouri joke (my extended Kansas family does not like Missourians) but I think the Show Me State does not deserve to be held accountable for Mr. Sleazebag here. They may have invaded Kansas to preserve and promote slavery, but I don’t believe they support sharing pornography with toddlers. Not the majority of them anyway.

    Published on February 10, 2022