Monday Reads: It’s a New Day and a New Dawn

BN-OR109_0627wa_P_20160627110845Good Afternoon!

Hope you’re not going to get tired of me posting Nina Simone songs because I just had to do it again.  I woke up and feel optimistic for a nice change.  I would like to say that my life is on the up  and up but this is much less specific than that.  I feel better about being a woman in the USA and that’s a big deal.

Two really great SCOTUS decisions  came down today that protect women’s right to choose and the victims of domestic abuse who are overwhelmingly women and children. The Supremes have thrown out the Texas Trap Law and refused to water down  gun bans for domestic abusers. Then, there was some campaign excitement! Senator Elizabeth Warren tore up the stage with a Donald Burning and an enthusiastic Hillary support speech in Cincinnati.  Women on the Supreme Court made a huge difference!  Can you imagine the difference a woman President may make?

Dahlia Lithwick–writing for Slate—argued that the women took over and the voices of the three women resound through out the important decisions.  Here’s the Lithwick lede: “In oral arguments for the Texas abortion case, the three female justices upend the Supreme Court’s balance of power.”  The Texas restrictions were stuck down vehemently.

It felt as if, for the first time in history, the gender playing field at the high court was finally leveled, and as a consequence the court’s female justices were emboldened to just ignore the rules. Time limits were flouted to such a degree that Chief Justice John Roberts pretty much gave up enforcing them. I counted two instances in which Roberts tried to get advocates to wrap up as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor simply blew past him with more questions. There was something wonderful and symbolic about Roberts losing almost complete control over the court’s indignant women, who are just not inclined to play nice anymore.

The case involves a crucial constitutional challenge to two provisions in Texas’ HB 2, the state’s omnibus abortion bill from 2013. The first requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a hospital 30 miles from the clinic where they perform abortions; the second requires abortion clinics to be elaborately retrofitted to comply with building regulations that would make them “ambulatory surgical centers.” If these provisions go into full effect, Texas would see a 75 percent reduction in the number of clinics serving 5.4 million women of childbearing age. The constitutional question is whether having 10 clinics to serve all these women, including many who would live 200 miles away from the nearest facility, represents an “undue burden” on the right to abortion deemed impermissible after the Casey decision. Each of the female justices takes a whacking stick to the very notion that abortion—one of the safest procedures on record—requires rural women to haul ass across land masses larger than the whole state of California in order to take a pill, in the presence of a doctor, in a surgical theater.

The morning starts with an arcane and technical debate that eats up most of Stephanie Toti’s time. Toti, arguing on behalf on the Texas clinics, first has to answer an argument—raised by Ginsburg—that the clinics were precluded from even bringing some of their claims. Between this and factual challenges from Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as to whether there was any evidence on the record to show that the law itself triggered the closings of Texas clinics, she doesn’t have much time to get to the merits. So frustrated is Justice Elena Kagan by the conservatives’ repeated insistence that perhaps the clinics just coincidentally all closed within days of HB 2’s passage that she finally has to intervene. “Is it right,” she asks Toti, “that in the two­-week period that the ASC requirement was in effect, that over a dozen facilities shut their doors, and then when that was stayed, when that was lifted, they reopened again immediately?” Toti agrees. “It’s almost like the perfect controlled experiment,” continues Kagan, “as to the effect of the law, isn’t it? It’s like you put the law into effect, 12 clinics closed. You take the law out of effect, they reopen?”

rbgI am so relieved that the Trap Law creep has been put down.  Signing such a bill in Louisiana was one of the last things the dread pirate 2016-06-27T125240Z_01_WAS203_RTRIDSP_3_USA-COURT-ABORTIONBobby Jindal did to us.  There are women celebrating all over the south.  Wendy Davis won in the long run.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that have been widely duplicated in other states, a resounding win for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important consideration of the controversial issue in 25 years.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 3 decision, which said Texas’s arguments that the clinic restrictions were to protect women’s health were cover for making it more difficult to obtain an abortion.

The challenged Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and said that clinics must meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, and officials say they protect patients. But the court’s majority sided with abortion providers and medical associations who said the rules are unnecessary and so expensive or hard to satisfy that they force clinics to close.

As I wrote last week, it was a clear cut case of undue burden and that principle was upheld.  The other clear victory was for sensible gun access control.  They ruled that Domestic Abusers cannot have guns refusing to open the window to all infractions.

 In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that reckless domestic assaults can be considered misdemeanor crimes to restrict gun ownership. The decision comes as a major victory for women’s rights and domestic violence advocacy groups.

This was an interesting case involving a man in Maine.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against a Maine resident who argued he should not have been stripped of his ability to possess a firearm despite a prior domestic violence charge in state court.

Stephen Voisine pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in 2004 against a girlfriend. Five years later, he was investigated for shooting a bald eagle and as part of the investigation he turned over a firearm to authorities.

After reviewing his criminal record, Voisine was then charged with unlawful possession of a firearm pursuant to a federal law which makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to possess a firearm or ammunition.

Lawyers for Voisine argued that his misdemeanor offense did not rise to the level to trigger the federal law.

The justices agreed to take the case to interpret the reach of a federal statute. But Justice Clarence Thomas during oral arguments was also interested in the 2nd Amendment implications, breaking in to ask a series of questions for the first time in 10 years during oral arguments.

The three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Voisine and another defendant, holding that the “question before us is a narrow one.”

Congress recognized that “guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination,” the panel said.

Is it really possible that we may see a woman President and Vice President next year?  The rally in Cincinnati this morning with Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren held out that tantalizing option.

BB caught me in bed with a cup of coffee this morning. Turn on the TV! There they were and there it was. No more Texas Trap Laws! Two Powerful women thrashing a Republican Bully while the world and Cincinnati cheered them on! It’s a new day! It’s a new dawn! Warren definitely put the B in the Trump Burn. She was amazing and you could see that Hillary loved every minute of it.

Donald Trump is “a small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one but himself,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Monday morning at the Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, as the possible vice presidential candidate lit up the crowd in her first appearance with Hillary Clinton.

“What kind of a man?” Warren said of the presumptive GOP nominee, with whom she has had drawn out Twitter battles. “A nasty man who will never become president of the United States, because Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States.”

Warren, who is popular with many progressives who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the primary, lobbed attacks at Trump as she stood below the terminal lobby’s large mosaic of of iron-workers, railroad men and farmers. Clinton stood beside her, grinning and clapping.

The joint appearance, and Warren’s enthusiasm for attacking Trump, added to speculation about her likelihood of receiving the nod to join Clinton as the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket. Clinton and her supporters have touted Warren’s endorsement as the former first lady seeks to unite Democrats after a long primary battle with Sanders.

At Union Terminal, Warren punctuated her criticisms of Trump and praise of Clinton by raising her fist and shouting “Yes!” Drawing applause and supportive laughter, Warren turned and clapped wildly for Clinton, then joined the crowd in shouts of “Hillary! Hillary!” and a “Woo!”

“Donald Trump thinks poor, sad little Wall Street brokers need to be free to defraud everyone they want,” said Warren, known for her anti-Wall Street stances. “Hillary fights for us.”

“You know I could do this all day. I really could,” Warren said of attacking Trump. “But I won’t. OK, one more.”

“You just saw why she is considered so terrific, so formidable, because she tells it like it is,” Clinton said of Warren. “I just love how she gets under Donald Trump’s skin.”

These two are a great tag team.  I can’t wait to watch the thin, orange-skinned one’s twitter feed.  He hates it when women put him in his place.

Hillary Clinton after being introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Hillary Clinton after being introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Warren and Clinton both share a desire to do everything they can to “stop Donald Trump” from becoming president, and, according to a campaign aide, they will both warn of the risks Trump would have on the economy during their event today, according to HASKELL and KREUTZ. “The Republicans underestimated and underestimated and underestimated Donald Trump. Look where that got them. They kept saying, no, no, no, that’s not going to happen, we don’t have to worry about that,” Warren said when she endorsed Clinton. “Donald Trump is a genuine threat to this country. He is a threat economically to this country. But he is a threat to who we are as a people. There is an ugly side to Donald Trump that we all have to stop and think about what’s going on here.” As Clinton and Warren’s relationship continues to evolve and Warren’s stock grows as a possible choice for vice president, it appears the senator is diving head first into helping elect Clinton. She even stopped by Clinton’s Brooklyn presidential campaign headquarters 10 days ago to give staffers a pep talk telling them “Don’t screw this up.”

They didn’t screw it up. It was marvelous, darlin’!

So, there’s some good news!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Late Night Open Thread: Rabbit…Rabbit… Message…Message

Good Late Evening!

I’ve spent the night watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This film came out in 1988…can you believe it? I love this flick.

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”

So…According to this article in RH Reality Check, the phrase “Pro-Choice” is going to become a thing of the past. Honestly, I don’t like the new slogan. After “Pro-Choice”: What’s Next for Our Messaging?

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) recently announced that it would move away from “choice” language in its messaging. As PPFA President Cecile Richards argued, the term “pro-choice” no longer resonates with many younger advocates and voters, nor does it reflect the complexity of reproductive health decision making. But the move raises an important question that the movement now must answer: what’s next for our messaging?

During the recent media coverage surrounding Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary, the term “reproductive justice” was often cited as a framework that better appeals to young people since it encapsulates economics, race/ethnicity, environment, sexual orientation, and other contexts that affect access to reproductive rights. While many of us advocates welcome the opportunity to have a discussion about reproductive justice (RJ), it’s important to note that individuals in the media are often unclear about how to discuss RJ and may not fully grasp what it means.

I don’t think Reproductive Justice is going to help get the message across, and RJ sounds like a damn low-testosterone condition.

As communications strategist and full-spectrum doula Miriam Zoila Pérez noted in a recent post, “Reproductive justice isn’t a simple concept that can be explained in a sound bite. But because of that, it also better mirrors the complex world we live in than a label like pro-choice or pro-life ever could.” Furthermore, RJ isn’t an identity, so it isn’t a replacement for “pro-choice.”

The fact that Planned Parenthood, the biggest, most well-known reproductive health provider in the nation, is abandoning “pro-choice” terminology is a sign that the movement needs to find more relevant ways to talk about these issues—ways that better connect to people’s real-life experiences. When abortion access is under attack at the local, state, and federal levels, holding on to stigmatized messaging that doesn’t work inside or outside the Beltway is obstinate and myopic.

What do you all think about the phrase, Reproductive Justice?

moving away from “pro-choice” language won’t mean that discussions about abortion will be displaced. Many vocal RJ leaders and advocates do significant work on the ground to promote abortion access. But an RJ framework is more inclusive than that; it allows us to deconstruct the conditions that limit access to abortion, contraception, comprehensive sex education, and more.

Eesha Pandit of Men Stopping Violence and the National Network of Abortion Funds points out that even if we drop the term “pro-choice,” mainstream reproductive rights organizers won’t suddenly adopt the RJ framework. “On one hand, there’s the co-opting of ‘reproductive justice’ within reproductive rights and reproductive health communities. That’s problematic because it makes the real point of reproductive justice and the work that women of color have done in creating the framework, completely invisible. Just using the term ‘reproductive justice’ does not mean that the framework or the perspective is in an intersectional frame,” she told RH Reality Check. Changing language is irrelevant if the reproductive rights community doesn’t shift its approach. But introducing RJ as a framework can help the media make these important connections.

When I think of the word justice, I think of someone being a victim and looking for justice….why not just call it reproductive rights? Or find another word salad that can be made into a catchy acronym? I guess Pro-Choice isn’t going anywhere soon, but this “RJ” sucks.

Since I am enjoying this fabulous classic movie, just a couple of more links for you tonight.

This next link is also about messaging, on the GOP side: A muddled message gets messier and more mendacious

With the sequestration cuts just days away, Republicans have spent the last several focused on rhetoric instead of policy. By any sensible standard, GOP policymakers have invested no real effort on resolving the problem, and have instead devoted all of their energies in winning a public-relations fight once the sequester starts doing real damage.

And with this in mind, one might expect their message to be amazing. After all, once a political party gives up on governing and focuses solely on messaging, it’s stands to reason they’ll be pretty good at it.

And yet, Republicans’ sequestration message “is all over the place.” GOP leaders believe the sequester will be awful but they want to let it happen. The policy was integral to the Republican fiscal plan and it’s entirely the White House’s idea. When Republicans say the cuts will hurt, that’s fine; when Democrats say the cuts will hurt, it’s evidence of scare tactics.

And now Republicans are simultaneously convinced the cuts will hurt and help the economy.

One of Georgia’s brilliant </snark> representatives is spouting off a load of crap:

Rep. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a likely U.S. Senate candidate, argued over the weekend that sequestration cuts “must” happen in order to “get this economy rolling again.”

As a matter of economic policy, Price’s argument is practically gibberish. Taking billions out of the economy and forcing public sector workers from their jobs does not get an economy “rolling,” unless we’re talking about “rolling” downhill. Independent economic estimates, including that of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, suggest these cuts will likely cost the U.S. economy 750,000 jobs just this year, which leads to legitimate questions about whether Price, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, has the foggiest idea what he’s talking about.

But the larger point is, Price’s comments offer a reminder that Republicans don’t even agree with other Republicans. If the sequester will “get this economy rolling again,” why is Price’s party so eager to blame the policy on President Obama? Why are some far-right House Republicans saying these cuts will do real harm while other far-right House Republicans say the exact opposite?

More commentary and video at the link…

Perhaps both of these messages would be easier to get across if the politicians used the technique we saw Jennifer Lawrence use at her press interview after she won the award for Best Actress. Politicians Can Take A Lesson From Jennifer Lawrence’s Mocking Post-Oscar Press Conference

For the press who she ruthlessly mocked and whose questions she reluctantly answered in a glib but charming fashion, Lawrence may not have been their favorite interview of the night.

When asked what the “process” was for preparing to come to the Oscars, Lawrence replied – with all the sincerity and lack of affectation that one would expect from anyone other than an Academy Award-winning actress – that she woke up, took a shower, tried on the dress and “came to the Oscars.” That last bit delivered with a bit of faux pomposity she knows the reporter was expecting.

“I’m sorry,” Lawrence added. “I did a shot before I…”

Lawrence displayed humility and self-deprecation – it was disarming. Probably due mostly to that particular character trait’s conspicuous paucity in Hollywood, as well as Washington D.C.

“The fall up to the stage,” another reporter then asked regarding a minor trip that Lawrence encountered on her way on stage to accept the Oscar. “Was it on purpose? Absolutely,” Lawrence said, simultaneously anticipating and rejecting the reporter’s premise before it had even been submitted. “What happened?” the reporter asked. “What do you mean ‘what happened?’ Lawrence replied. “Look at my dress.”

Contentious, but entirely lacking in aggression. Mocking, but buttressed by a transcendent likeability.

You can read more about who else has that special touch when it comes to dealing with the press. (Can you guess which politician is gifted with such talents?) I don’t know if I agree completely with the article’s assessment, but it does make a point. I guess.

Alright, that is all I got for tonight…Enjoy this bit of fun from Roger Rabbit.

And this great tune by Jessica Rabbit.

BTW, Jessica Rabbit’s speaking voice was performed by Kathleen Turner, and her singing voice was performed by Amy Irving. Turner was uncredited.

This is an open thread…


We Have Choice

We’ve watched the Republicans flail in all directions, trying to find a message, a mission, an issue to drive them to victory in November.  It’s been tough going for the GOP with less than stellar candidates and the endless circus ride the public has witnessed.  Now down to four ‘iffy’ wannabes, attention has focused on flaws, egos, missteps and gaffes.  Uncle Newt appeals to the confederate South.  Ron Paul is loved by the Ayn Rand aficionados. Reptilian Rick Santorum cheers and warms the cockles of the Religious Right.   And Mitt Romney.  Poor Mitt is loved by virtually no one.

So, I can only imagine the excitement with the new-but-old controversy boiling over birth control and reproductive freedom.  The right to choose.  It sticks in the craw of the Republican Party, even as the loudest voices scream about liberty and individual rights.  This isn’t a question of abortion at this juncture.  We’re talking about the basics: contraception, the freedom to choose how many children we have and when we have them.  And privacy.  A woman’s right to decide these things herself in the privacy of her own space, heart and mind, with or without a husband, with or without government or religious leaders telling her, demanding she turn one way or the other.

To listen to the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and the faux religious warriors, one might think that all religion, but particularly Christianity, has been put on the rack, whipped into humiliating submission or fed to the lions for the vile amusement of secular humanists.

Enough with the lying!  Enough with the bully pulpit exhortations with the emphasis on ‘bully.’

Demanding equal access to healthcare, expecting reproductive freedom and sexual/gender equality is not a Satanic plot.  It’s what reasonable people do and think.  We are not living in the Middle Ages [though I suspect many fundamentalists think of the era as ‘the good ole days].  If anyone doubts the politicization of women’s healthcare issues, please review the past week’s headlines, the unseemly expose of the Komen Foundation, more concerned about dissing Planned Parenthood than serving lower-income women with breast screenings.  Or the manufactured outrage of the Catholic Church hierarchy and their mouthpieces, who [sputter, sputter] decry the Administration’s insistence on equitable healthcare service as a vicious attack on religious freedom.

Really?  Twenty-eight states require organizations offering prescription insurance to cover contraception.   Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use birth control and many Catholic institutions offer the benefit to their employees.

Let’s review some recent statistics:

Two-thirds of Catholics, 65 percent, believe that clinics and hospitals that take taxpayer money should not be allowed to refuse procedures or medications based on religious beliefs. A similar number, 63 percent, also believe that health insurance, whether private or government-run, should cover contraception.

A strong majority (78 percent) of Catholic women prefer that their hospital offers emergency contraception for rape victims, while more than half (55 percent) want their hospital to provide it in broader circumstances.

Yet despite these numbers, the Church, the Religious Right and the heat-seeking Republican establishment are foaming at the mouth, waving mummified fists in righteous indignation.

Make no mistake.  This is an old war.  I wrote about the struggles and absolute determination of Margaret Sanger a few days ago.  She fought these battles.  The arguments were identical; the accusations the same.  She fought the religious establishment, she fought the righteous, small-minded moralists 100 years ago.  If anything this should be a wakeup call: the defense of reproductive rights, which are basic human rights, need to be taken seriously, day-in, day-out.  Freedoms gained can quickly become freedoms lost. Gender equality, which is a matter of civil rights, should be supported with voices and votes pitched against the ugliness of bigotry and discrimination.

This is a power play wrapped in thin prayer and religious dogma.  It’s a desperate attempt by traditional religion to regain ground lost to modernity, a world where the old stories and myths have lost their power, their ability to control by fear, a world in which human dignity applies to all our members, a world where the mysteries of the Universe and our place in it is far grander than our words and imaginations can conjure.

We have choice.  We always have.  It’s time to put away childish things and become accountable, rational adults if we’re ever to deal with the problems facing us.  We can fearfully grasp the old ways, allow ourselves to be drawn into self-limiting dictums.  We can argue how many angels dance on the head of a pin with religious fanatics and the politicians who love them.

Or we can say, ‘No!’  We have that choice.


Open Thread: Karen Santorum’s Book Has Become Collector’s Item

Recently, I wrote a post about Rick and Karen Santorum’s responses to their miscarriage. After this loss, Karen wrote a book called Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum. At the time, I looked up the book and it was selling cheaply on Amazon.

Some of you may know that I’ve become a bookseller, at least temporarily. Well, I should have bought a bunch of copies of Karen’s book when I had the chance. The book was published in 1998, and until recently used copies were selling for less than a dollar. Today, the cheapest price I could find was close to $100.00 on some foreign websites. New copies of the book begin at $2,5 on Amazon and nearly $900 on E-bay. This copy at Half.com was selling for $.75 plus postage just recently and is now listed at $891.00.

I don’t know who is buying the book–maybe slumming pro-choice readers or pious anti-choicers–maybe both. Since I began selling my book collection, I’ve sold a few old and scarce books for inflated prices, but never this inflated. I’m going to have to get better at foreseeing these kinds of trends!


Saturday Night with the Stupids

I know that title is kind of harsh, but I’m beginning to lose my patience with the Republican candidates for President. How on earth can anyone even consider voting for one of these people? Just looking quickly at the headlines on Google, I was able to find multiple examples of complete idiocy from Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain.

Today Rick Perry went pheasant hunting in northern Iowa and was quoted as saying that he has had a “long love affair with guns.”

“As long as I’ve got memory, I had something to go hunting with,” Perry told a small gaggle of reporters at the Loess Hills Hunting Preserve. “It was a long love affair with a boy and his gun that turned into a man and his gun, and then it turned into a man and his son and his daughter and their guns.”

Look, I have nothing against hunting. My grandfather used to go pheasant hunting in North Dakota every year, and we enjoyed eating what he brought back. But I can’t imagine my grandfather ever talking about loving his guns. That’s just sick.

The Boston Globe noted that Perry seemed a lot more comfortable holding a gun than performing on the debate stage. And he wants to make it easy for everyone to become a gun-lover.

As governor, Perry supported legislation that made it easier for Texans to pay for a concealed handgun license, and a bill to let them keep their concealed handgun licenses for five years instead of four. He helped cut agreements with other states to let Texans carry their concealed handguns outside the state.

Perry has his own concealed handgun license — and regularly carries one, once famously shooting a coyote that was threatening his daughter’s Labrador retriever while out on a jog. The gun company, Ruger, has a special version of its .380 in Perry’s honor: the True Texan Coyote Special.

And where it comes to guns, Perry has plenty of the same aggressive bravado he’s displayed on the debate stage. He sent a video introduction to the National Rifle Association Convention that featured him shooting a rifle and calling himself “a believer in the notion that gun control is hitting what you’re aiming at.” (He’s also said it’s “use both hands.”)

Something tells me if Perry ever got elected, he’d get worse treatment from the Villagers than Carter or Clinton did. He comes across as the consummate hillbilly (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with being a hillbilly).

Perry also announced his “economic plan” today, and it’s going to drive Dakinikat nuts.

Rick Perry previewed the economic plan he will roll out on Tuesday, saying he would call for trashing the current tax code and replacing it with a flat tax, ending all earmarks, enacting a balanced budget amendment and reforming entitlements.

“It’s time to get Washington out of the way in order for us to preserve the American way,” Perry said. “The American people may be bruised but they’re not broken and they want a new president who can deliver the hope and change that this one that we have today promised.”

It sounds pretty changy, but not very hopey, if you ask me. Perry also had this to say about women’s reproductive rights:

Maintaining the U.S. moral authority in the world begins with preventing abortion and protecting “innocent and vulnerable unborn children,” Perry said.

For that reason, government must take an active role in legislating restrictions on the procedure, he said.

Really? The country’s “moral authority” depends on controlling women’s bodies? What about torture, war, summary assassinations, and government corruption? I guess those are all “moral.”

Next up, Michele Bachmann. A couple of days ago, her entire New Hampshire staff quit, and she didn’t even know it.

According to POLITICO and WUMR, Bachmann’s entire New Hampshire staff jumped ship, partly because they hadn’t been paid in a month. That story seemed to make sense, considering the severe fundraising shortfalls in the Bachmann camp and growing dissatisfaction with her as a candidate.

However, Bachmann released a statement about her New Hampshire staff, saying, “That is a shocking story to me… I don’t know where this came from, but we’ve made call and it’s certainly not true.” Well, if she’s made calls, then certainly we must believe her! There’s no way Michele Bachmann could be so incredibly wrong about the status of her own campaign!

….According to Jeff Chidester, who is either Bachmann’s current New Hampshire campaign director if you believe Michele, or her former campaign director if you believe Jeff, “The New Hampshire team has quit.” When asked about Michele’s statement that they were still working for her, Chidester added, “I’m sorry the national team is confused. They shouldn’t be.”

Sigh…

But Herman Cain has to be the stupidest of these three. He amazed everyone by going on CNN and, in so many words, declaring himself pro-choice. Now he’s trying to walk that back, and not doing a very good job of it. Here his is on Fox News sounding completely confused. This guy has no understanding of any issue–even the ones most near and dear to his wingnut fans.


Late Night: Is Tim Pawlenty Secretly Pro-Choice?

Tim Pawlenty, "closet moderate"

Wow, breaking news! I know Mitt Romney isn’t really anti-abortion, but Tim Pawlenty? In an op-ed headlined “The Manufactured Candidate,” Shawn Lawrence Otto, a long-time acquaintance of the Minnesota Governor and GOP presidential candidate, claims that Pawlenty told him he was “personally pro-choice.”

I’ve known Pawlenty since he was a young Republican state representative from Eagan, Minn. We had some of the same friends and used to golf together once in a while. His campaign treasurer was my accountant…

Pawlenty is a very talented guy, and I respected his opinion. His first question was, “What’s your position on choice?” I hadn’t ever been asked the question quite so pointedly. “You’ve got to take a stand on that first,” he said. “Well,” I said, “OK. I don’t like abortion; I think it’s a really tough personal decision, but not something the government should be getting into one way or the other, so I guess I’m pro-choice.”

He looked at me over his lunch and said, “Well personally, so am I, but here’s the thing. You’ve got to find a way to get your mind around the language of saying ‘pro-life.’ It’s in how you phrase it.”

I’ve since learned I’m not the only one Pawlenty has said this to.

This is the political reality for Republicans. You have to pretend to be crazy to get elected.

Otto isn’t comfortable with what he sees happening in the GOP:

This integrity issue doesn’t seem to bother Pawlenty the way it bothers me. He’s wanted to be president for as long as I’ve known him, and ambition can cause principles to take a back seat. He has shown a similar cynicism in his more recent about-faces on climate change and health care, stunning many Minnesotans and former allies and causing some to wonder: Do you really have to sell your soul to succeed in Republican politics?

The answer seems to be yes. And judging by the non-reaction of Democrats to the war on women taking place around the country, they are learning to accept same “reality.” And as a result, millions of women will suffer and die because of the disgusting cowardice of these amoral politicians.

As Bob Dylan wrote in another context, “we’re only a pawn in their game.”


Late Night Outrage: War on Women’s Health

We’ve been watching state after state wage a coordinated war against women.  Here’s a summary of this year’s assault on women’s health by NYT’s Emily Bazelon. Women better wake up and smell the threat to their right to self-determination.

Ever since Republicans took control of half the country’s statehouses this year, the anti-abortion movement has won one victory after another. At least 64 new anti-abortion laws have passed, with more than 30 of them in April alone. The campaign is the largest in history and also the most creative. Virginia started regulating abortion clinics as if they were hospitals. Utah, Nebraska and several other states have stopped private health insurers from covering abortions, with rare exceptions. South Dakota will soon tell women that before they go to an abortion clinic, they must first visit a crisis pregnancy center whose mission is to talk them out of it.

It’s amazing to me that after 8 years of Republican focus on the war on Terror, their focus turns towards turning the clock back decades for American women.  What is behind these reactionaries?  What is fueling the fantancism?  Why have they suddenly switched strategies?

Instead, lawyers representing their side have been challenging the laws that hurt women most — which are also the ones most likely to sway public opinion back to their side. Can it really be good politics for a state to tell private health insurers what kind of coverage for women’s health they can and can’t provide? Or to take away the money that allows Planned Parenthood to prescribe birth control and treat S.T.D.’s? Quinnipiac and CNN polls from earlier this year both found majority support for continuing government financing of Planned Parenthood. There’s also a clear argument against laws like the ones that permit Virginia to regulate abortion clinics like hospitals or that allow Louisiana to immediately close an abortion clinic for any technical rule violation. In making early abortions more burdensome and costly, these laws take aim at the ordinary version of the procedure that women experience and for which support is greatest. In a 2007 poll, Gallup found that twice as many people favor making late-term abortion illegal than favor overturning Roe (72 percent versus 35 percent).

Abortion rights advocates are also trying to prevent South Dakota from mandating that women wait a full 72 hours for an abortion. This comes on the heels of a lawsuit that challenges the requirement that mandatory counseling include the claim that abortion is linked to an increased risk of suicide (there is no reliable evidence to support this). In Casey, the Supreme Court allowed states to impose only a 24-hour waiting period and to require counseling that accurately explained the stages of fetal development. The South Dakota law is far out enough that when I asked Yoest about it, she said only, “That’s not one of our pieces of legislation.” If the battle reaches the Supreme Court, there’s presumably little chance that Justice Kennedy would sign off on requiring doctors to read a script of made-up data posing as facts.

These are precisely the kinds of cases that lawyers in support of reproductive rights should pursue, because they portray abortion foes as radical. The South Dakota fight shows that in the name of protecting women, abortion opponents are willing to demean them — by forcing them to visit a crisis pregnancy center and listen to unsupported medical claims. (According to a 2006 Congressional investigation, most of these centers give out inaccurate information about abortion’s health effects.)

At this point, there seems to be no organized women’s movement to get us off the defensive and put us back on the offensive.  Religious activists have worked hard to ensure that nearly all Republican candidates are not pro-choice.  The entire Republican contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives from a solid anti-choice block.  It’s time for those of us that support a women’s right to make a decision regarding her own body to go on the offensive.  We need to recruit and support more pro-choice candidates.