Background Briefing: February 12, 2023

A Religious Zealot Could Ban Nationwide the Pill Used in Over 50% of Abortions and Do So Without Evidence

We begin with a radical anti-abortion ruling expected soon banning a medical abortion drug nationwide from a Federal District Judge in Texas Matthew Kacsmaryk, a “Christian” zealot who does not believe in the separation of church and state, hates gays, thinks transgender people suffer from a “mental disorder” and was chosen by the so-called Alliance of Hippocratic Medicine because of his far-right disruptive rulings on immigration, transgender rights and his interest in antivaxxing conspiracy theories. Joining us is Leah Litman, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Michigan who teaches and writes on constitutional law, federal courts and reproductive rights. She clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and is now a regular contributor to the Take Care blog, and the co-host and creator of Strict Scrutiny, a podcast about the U.S. Supreme Court. We will discuss how this expected ruling goes way beyond the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision since it is an attempt to ban over 50% of abortions in states where abortions are legal and it does so without presenting any evidence that the abortion pill that was approved by the FDA 22 years ago is in any way unsafe or harmful.


The History of Balloons Used For Spying and How Many UFOs Were Balloons

Then we look into the latest shootdown of a mystery object over Alaska and the history of balloons being used for spying and speak with Peter Bergen, the author or editor of eight books, including three New York Times bestsellers and four Washington Post best nonfiction books of the year. He is a national security analyst for CNN and has testified before congressional committees eighteen times about national security issues and has held teaching positions at Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. His latest books are The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden: The Biography and The Cost of Chaos: The Trump Administration and the World, and we discuss his article at CNN, “The long, strange history of spy balloons.”


Will Mike Pence Tell the Truth About How His Boss Tried To Have Him Lynched?

Then finally we assess how much being subpoenaed by the Special Counsel Jack Smith to tell the truth about how his boss tried to have him lynched will damage Mike Pence’s already slim chance of becoming the Republican nominee in 2024, let alone the next president. Joining us is Tom LoBianco, national politics reporter for Yahoo News. A longtime reporter who has covered Mike Pence from the statehouse to the White House for the Associated Press, CNN, and the Indianapolis Star, he is the author of Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House and we discuss his latest article at Yahoo News, “Subpoena could complicate Pence decision to run for president in 2024.”