Columbian Newspaper

Rubin: Decision kills court’s credibility
Author: Jennifer Rubin

While we knew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

The result could well be enactment of criminal penalties for every abortion, in any circumstance. “Enforcement of all these draconian restrictions will also be left largely to the States’ devices. A State can of course impose criminal penalties on abortion providers, including lengthy prison sentences,” the three dissenters wrote.

Garbled history

The dissent also underscores the enormous damage to women’s self-determination, autonomy and equal status as persons. And it rightly attacks the garbled history in the majority opinion, noting that the Constitution was ratified before women had the vote. In essence, the court elevates male dominance to a constitutional imperative in the 21st century.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s feckless concurrence claiming the court is simply being neutral on the issue of abortion is preposterous, as the dissent makes clear: “His idea is that neutrality lies in giving the abortion issue to the States, where some can go one way and some another. But would he say that the Court is being ‘scrupulously neutral’ if it allowed New York and California to ban all the guns they want?”

The hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the court’s right-wing justices lead to the conclusion that they have simply appointed themselves super-legislators free to impose a view of the United States as a White, Christian and male-dominated society.

To understand how radical the court’s decision is, one need only consider Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence, where he says the quiet part out loud: He’d sweep away 14th Amendment substantive due process — birth control, gay marriage, all of it. There is no bright line between destroying the expansive view of liberty in the 14th Amendment, when abortion is at issue, and destroying it for all other intimate decisions. The right-wing majority’s willingness to countenance an all-powerful state that interferes with every aspect of our lives is breathtaking.

The dissent says it plainly: The majority “makes radical change too easy and too fast, based on nothing more than the new views of new judges. … The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

And now what? States will race to criminalize abortion. Women’s lives and personhood will be put at risk. But that is not the end. Ultimately, the people — even in the court’s telling — still have control. They can vote out those who would drastically criminalize women unwilling to be forced to give birth. They can elect senators to do away with the filibuster in order to protect reproductive rights and reformulate the court, including the removal of lifetime tenure. The response frankly must be as bold and decisive as the court’s affront.

The court’s decision may result in women’s deaths. But it has certainly killed off what is left of the court’s credibility. And for that, there is no solution in sight.

Local View: Is $2M enough to combat homelessness crisis?
Author: Cecelia Engleman

Homelessness is a growing crisis in our community.

The 2022 Point In Time count of homeless individuals in Clark County identified 625 people as living unsheltered or in a location not meant for human habitation (such as cars or dilapidated RVs). This 625 does not include people who are in shelters or couch surfing (Clark County Council for the Homeless, 2022).

In Vancouver, the signs of this are evident. Driving down almost any street one can expect to see tents and/or people on the sidewalk.

Local governments have been working to address this issue. Two Safe Stay communities have opened in Vancouver; Tenny Creek, an assisted living facility for formerly homeless people, recently opened in Hazel Dell; and work has begun to move forward with Lincoln Place 2. The Clark County Council recently approved $2 million in mental health tax funds for the Lincoln Place 2 project.

Why are these projects important? Why is the approval for $2 million in mental health tax services important?

Of the 625 unsheltered individuals living in Clark County, 223 of them are considered chronically homeless. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a chronically homeless person as “either (1) an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, OR (2) an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.”

This was an increase of 21 percent since the previous Point in Time count. Of these 625 people, 97 of which are seniors, all identified as having some type of disability such as mental health, chronic health conditions, substance use and/or developmental disabilities. This means that 100 percent of individuals living unsheltered have some type of disability.

Positive solutions

Homelessness decreases an individual’s ability to access mental health services, can intensify mental health symptoms and creates significant barriers that prevent treatment of chronic health conditions and end substance use/abuse.

We have 625 extremely vulnerable people living within an already marginalized population in our community. Being unable to be sure of where they will sleep and eat and if their items are safe can significantly limit the individual’s ability to manage medications, keep physical/mental health appointments or obtain substance use treatment, according to the Center on Budget and Policy.

Vancouver’s two Safe Stay communities, Tenny Creek and now Lincoln Place 2 are all positive solutions that will not only address the need of this vulnerable population for stable housing but allow the recipients to obtain access to needed treatment for both mental and physical health.

Clark County Council’s decision to approve $2 million in mental health tax funds to support mental health access at Lincoln Place 2 is going to improve the quality of life for its future tenants.

What about services for those that are still unsheltered? Without finding a way to provide regular access to mental health services, how can the community expect already struggling, often demonized, people to improve behaviors, living conditions and mental/physical health?

One answer could be expanding outreach services to allow mental health providers to reach clients where they are, instead of clients needing to go to the provider.

This also raises the question: Is $2 million enough?

Cecelia Engleman is a Felida resident with more than 10 years of experience working with disabled and houseless individuals in Clark County. She is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

Bernstein: Trump tied to intimidation?
Author: Jonathan Bernstein

What explained the devastating weight of Tuesday’s hearing of the House Jan. 6 committee? The testimony barely mentioned the attack on the Capitol or other events of that day.

Instead we heard, in new and terrifying detail, about Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Republican officials in state after state to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. By expanding the scope of the events covered, the panel heard from witnesses who recounted just how massive and systematic the efforts by Trump and his allies really were — and how violence and threats of violence played a central role in it.

Arguments about whether or not the attack on the Capitol was an “insurrection” are beside the point. What matters is the big picture.

We still do not have firm evidence tying Trump specifically to organized violent outbreaks, including the Capitol attack. But we’ve now seen enough that it’s clear Trump either knew his words would put people in danger or he should have known. And the same goes for those around him.

Those of us who have followed this story closely already knew the broad outlines and even many details in the stories of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers; Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; Gabriel Sterling of the Georgia secretary of state’s office; and Georgia election worker Shaye Moss.

But Tuesday’s airing of their accounts, one after another, was just brutal.

Bowers endured Saturday protests outside his house, with armed Trump fans calling him (among other things) a pedophile. Sterling described how he was moved to give his forceful public statement denouncing efforts to overturn the election after seeing a staffer in his office overwhelmed by vicious, personal attacks on social media. Moss and her mother were so intimidated by the president’s attacks and those of his followers that they basically shut down their lives.

In other words, the committee artfully made the case that the violence of Jan. 6 was only a continuation of violent efforts to bully everyone who stood in the way of the president and his desire to stay in office, regardless of the facts and the law.

We already knew that the fraud accusations that Trump and his allies made were investigated and found to be false or frivolous, based on obvious fictions or misunderstandings of normal procedures. And that, despite this, Trump ramped up pressure on Republican officeholders in states that Joe Biden had won.

We knew about the scheme, probably criminal and certainly outside of the law and the Constitution, to submit slates of false electors in states that Trump had lost. And about his call to Raffensperger, in which the then president of the United States begged, cajoled and threatened him to “find” the votes needed to reverse the Georgia outcome — this figured prominently in Trump’s second impeachment and Senate trial.

There was some new detail.

For example, Rudy Giuliani told Bowers that “we’ve got lots of theories — we just don’t have any evidence.” I don’t think that was previously reported, and it helped make the committee’s point that the conspirators were well aware that Trump had lost the election.

And we knew that violence and threats of violence had been present throughout the post-election period and were a regular feature of Trump’s rallies from the start of his 2016 run for president.

In contrast to Trump and his allies, Tuesday’s witnesses stood out as patriots.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson in his opening remarks thanked the various elected officials, bureaucrats and election workers who have testified “for their service”: The U.S. is defended, after all, by its democratic institutions — defined by the men and women who do their jobs faithfully or not — even more than by its military might, and has been since 1776. It was inspiring to watching Bowers, Raffensperger, Sterling and Moss stand up for democracy, despite the costs that they have had to endure — especially when you consider how few Republicans have been willing to rally to their side.

It’s not yet clear how strong the legal case against Trump will be. But I agree with the political scientist Alex Garlick, who said that “the more we learn from the January 6 committee, the more it becomes obvious that the Senate’s inability to convict Trump in February 2021 was a failure of historical proportions.”

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and a former professor of political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University.

What’s name of recent NBC disaster show?
Author: Rich Heldenfels, Tribune News Service

You have questions. I have some answers.

Last year I watched a show about a wormhole that suddenly appeared in downtown Los Angeles. Several people fell through and found themselves in another dimension. It ended abruptly. I cannot remember the name of that show. Can you help me?

That sounds like “La Brea,” the NBC drama in which people fell through a sinkhole into “a mysterious and dangerous primeval land.” The network has ordered a second season to premiere this fall. One place you can catch up with the 10 episodes in the first season is on Peacock.

Recently I watched a Sundance Now series called “Ten Percent” featuring Dominic West in an episode. Could this be an older, English version of the French series “Call My Agent”? If so, could you tell me what year West appeared in it originally?

You are correct about the similarity of the two series, but the sequence is different. “Ten Percent” is a new series and an English-language adaptation of “Call My Agent!” That French series about talent agents premiered in 2015 and has found a wide audience through Netflix. Variety reported a while back that there are numerous adaptations done or in the works in different countries, including Turkey, India, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines.

Whatever happened with Season 2 of CBS’s “Blood and Treasure”? COVID delayed filming but there has been no mention since of whether that was ever completed or was it scrapped totally?

The drama will begin a second season on July 17, but TVLine has reported that it will be on streamer Paramount+ instead of the CBS broadcast network. (And yes, I can hear your howls about another show shifting to streaming.) Since the first season ended almost three years ago, you may want to catch up on the older episodes — on Paramount+.

I was watching “Beach Blanket Bingo” and noticed Michael Nader, later on “Dynasty.” I believe he is the son of the actor George Nader. Are these charming actors still with us?

Leading man and novelist George Nader died in 2002 at the age of 80. Veteran actor Michael Nader, who was George’s nephew, passed away in 2021; he was 76.

Update: Back in May, I noted that Showtime had canceled “American Rust” after one season amid some unenthusiastic reactions to the show. Well, streaming service Amazon Freevee (formerly known as IMDb TV) was more enthused. It has ordered a second season with Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney back as the stars. Production of the second season will start later this year. And Daniels said in a statement that this is a show “built for streaming.”

Audible, Obamas sign audio deal
Author: Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times

Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, has signed an exclusive, multiyear, worldwide first-look deal with Amazon subsidiary Audible, the audio content company announced Tuesday.

Competitor Spotify recently opted not to extend its 2019 deal with Higher Ground, which produced Spotify shows including “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and “Renegades: Born in the USA,” featuring Bruce Springsteen.

“At Higher Ground, we have always sought to lift up voices that deserve to be heard — and Audible is invested in realizing that vision alongside us,” Barack Obama said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to partnering with them to tell stories that not only entertain but also inspire.”

Michelle Obama added: “Together, we will keep striving to tell compelling, provocative, and soulful stories — while doing everything we can to make sure they reach the folks who need to hear them.”

“We have long recognized President and Mrs. Obama’s historic capacity to captivate,” Don Katz, Audible’s founder and executive chairman, said. “We are thrilled to welcome two of the most profound voices of moral and intellectual leadership of our times into the Audible fold, and to be able to elevate President and Mrs. Obama’s singular ability to provide hope and uplifting guidance — needed now more than ever — through their voices.”

Page discusses trans ‘Umbrella Academy’ character’s debut
Author: Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times

Elliot Page is giving audiences a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes discussions that led to his “Umbrella Academy” character coming forward as transgender.

While appearing Tuesday on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Page discussed how life has changed for them, personally and professionally, since announcing they are trans in December 2020.

“What I want to focus on right now and has been so extraordinary is the degree of joy that I feel,” Page told Meyers. “I feel a way that I really never thought possible for a long, long time. … But of course, moments can be overwhelming.

“It’s so unfortunate because it’s like, we’re all on the same team here. Whether you’re trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, cis — we all have these expectations and these limits and constraints because of people’s obsession with the binary … It’d be so special for us to all be able to connect and talk about how similar we are in all of our journeys.”

In March, Netflix and Page confirmed that the actor’s sonically gifted “Umbrella Academy” character, Viktor Hargreeves, would use he/him pronouns in the upcoming third season of the hero series.

According to the Oscar-nominee, “Umbrella Academy” showrunner and “wonderful person” Steve Blackman “seemed really excited” to incorporate Page’s trans identity into the plot of Season 3, which premiered Wednesday on Netflix.

Page also explained how coming forward as trans has made them a better performer, person and friend.

“That’s obviously a big component and part of my life and a beautiful thing to experience now,” Page said.

Seattle Times Opinion

Standing up for decency, honor and goodness at the Jan. 6 hearings
Author: Leonard Pitts Jr.

The Jan. 6 hearing on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, shrank the devastation wrought by Trump down to relatable dimensions of human lives and human loss, and that was important.

Seattle Times Politics

Dam politics: Why public power utilities are pouring cash into the campaign to support Lower Snake River dams
Author: Hal Bernton

The more than $2 million from the utilities is meant to help counter campaigns by environmentalists, tribes and salmon advocates who want the dams removed.

Washington State News

Mariners' Jesse Winker continues to find groove vs. Angels
The Seattle Mariners will look to sweep their three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Sunday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., with left fielder Jesse Winker beginning to hit like the player the club thought it was getting when it traded for him in March. Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez were traded from the Cincinnati Reds for prospects during spring training, with the Mariners expecting to get the Winker wh
Behind Joe Ryan, Twins look to take series from Rockies
The Minnesota Twins will try to close a six-game homestand with back-to-back wins when they face the Colorado Rockies on Sunday in Minneapolis. Minnesota is coming off a 6-0 win over the Rockies on Saturday night, which followed Colorado's 1-0 victory on Friday. The Twins are 2-3 on their homestand and are going for their first series win since June 13-15 against the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, the Rockies hope to end