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.

Saturday: Sailboats at Sunset

Escaping Dystopia 2011...

Morning, news junkies.

Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…

Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:

This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”

That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.

Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.

Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…

Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words

“Depressing women’s history news of the week”

Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.

The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?

The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.

“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”


  • The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.

Click to view HQ. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.

As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…

  • This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):

You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.

  • For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:

“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”

  • In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”

The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China

In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”

Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.

Timeout: Art break

We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest… Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Ryan’s Selective Randianism

While browsing the links on Memeorandum earlier this afternoon, I came across this post at Down With Tyranny: The Inspiration For Paul Ryan’s Profoundly And Explicitly Anti-Christian Budget. As Lambert would say, it is a post filled to the brim with “linky goodness.” I read all the linked articles and I refer to a few of them in this post.

DWT discusses Ryan’s self-professed admiration for the “philosophy” of Ayn Rand.

What is the great cause for which Ryan wants to devote his political life? Unkind critics point to the unprecedented– at least in Wisconsin politics– gushers of money Ryan has solicited from the Wall Street sector and detect a correlation between the bribes he takes and the policies he espouses. And since there is nothing that holds his voting record– huge, unjustifiable bailouts for Wall Street banks coupled with the dismantling of Medicare and unconscionable tax breaks for the richest Americans coupled with privatization of Social Security– other than obeisance to a garden variety Big Business agenda, this interpretation has become widespread. What people may be missing, however, is a parallel influence on Ryan– one not unrelated, but not identical either: his devotion to the adolescent philosophy of Ayn Rand: “the virtue of selfishness,” a more direct– if somewhat off-putting to non-believers– description of a philosophy known as “Objectivism.”

DWT points out that Rand’s teachings are explicitly anti-Christian–Rand was an atheist who thought altruism was evil and poor and working people were losers and “parasites.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Chait writes:

Ayn Rand, of course, was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.

John Galt, the protagonist of her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, expressed Rand’s inverted Marxism: “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.”

Chait calls Ryan an “acolyte” of Ayn Rand, and explains at length that the deficit and the debt aren’t what’s bugging the new House superstar. Most of Ryan’s proposals don’t cut the deficit much, and besides, he includes huge new tax cuts for the rich and goodies for Wall Street in his plan. Further more Ryan was an enthusiastic supporter of the Wall Street bailout and he voted for every spending bill that came down the pike under George W. Bush. So what are the Ryan cuts all about?

Ryan’s plan does do two things in immediate and specific ways: hurt the poor and help the rich. After extending the Bush tax cuts, he would cut the top rate for individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent. Then Ryan slashes Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, and low-income housing. These programs to help the poor, which constitute approximately 21 percent of the federal budget, absorb two thirds of Ryan’s cuts.

Ryan casts these cuts as an incentive for the poor to get off their lazy butts. He insists that we “ensure that America’s safety net does not become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency.” It’s worth translating what Ryan means here. Welfare reform was premised on the tough but persuasive argument that providing long-term cash payments to people who don’t work encourages long-term dependency. Ryan is saying that the poor should not only be denied cash income but also food and health care.

OK, that part does sound like Randianism, doesn’t it? Rand admired the strong and despised the weak, and so does Paul Ryan, apparently. Rand even went so far as to praise a serial killer for his lack of empathy for his fellow human beings.

On the level of personal behavior, the heroes in Rand’s novels commit borderline rape, blow up buildings, and dynamite oil fields — actions which Rand portrays as admirable and virtuous fulfillments of the characters’ personal will and desires. Her early diaries gush with admiration for William Hickman, a serial killer who raped and murdered a young girl. Hickman showed no understanding of “the necessity, meaning or importance of other people,” a trait Rand apparently found quite admirable.

But did Rand believe that corporations should benefit from government largess? According to Rand devotee Donald L. Luskin, she didn’t.

it’s a misreading of “Atlas” to claim that it is simply an antigovernment tract or an uncritical celebration of big business. In fact, the real villain of “Atlas” is a big businessman, railroad CEO James Taggart, whose crony capitalism does more to bring down the economy than all of Mouch’s regulations. With Taggart, Rand was anticipating figures like Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide Financial, the subprime lender that proved to be a toxic mortgage factory. Like Taggart, Mr. Mozilo engineered government subsidies for his company in the name of noble-sounding virtues like home ownership for all.

Still, most of the heroes of “Atlas” are big businessmen who are unfairly persecuted by government. The struggle of Rand’s fictional steel magnate Henry Rearden against confiscatory regulation is a perfect anticipation of the antitrust travails of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In both cases, the government’s depredations were inspired by behind-the-scenes maneuverings of business rivals. And now Microsoft is maneuvering against Google with an antitrust complaint in the European Union.

The reality is that in Rand’s novel, as in life, self-described capitalists can be the worst enemies of capitalism. But that doesn’t fit in easily with the simple pro-business narrative about Rand now being retailed.

Luskin seems somewhat bemused by the selective Randianism (my term) of the new Tea Party radicals like Ryan. Traditional conservatives like William F. Buckley “loathed” Rand back in the day, probably because of her atheism and the fact that, while she verbally denigrated feminism, she lived

her life as an exemplary feminist, even as she denied it by calling herself a “male chauvinist.” She was the breadwinner throughout her lifelong marriage. The most sharply drawn hero in “Atlas” is the extraordinarily capable female railroad executive Dagny Taggart, who is set in contrast with her boss, her incompetent brother James. She’s the woman who deserves the man’s job but doesn’t have it; he’s the man who has the job but doesn’t deserve it.

Rand was strongly pro-choice, speaking out for abortion rights even before Roe v. Wade. In late middle age, she became enamored of a much younger man and made up her mind to have an affair with him, having duly informed her husband and the younger man’s wife in advance. Conservatives don’t do things like that—or at least they say they don’t.

These weren’t the only times Rand took positions that didn’t ingratiate her to the right. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam war, once saying, “I am against the war in Vietnam and have been for years. . . . In my view we should fight fascism and communism when they come to this country.” During the ’60s she declared, “I am an enemy of racism,” and advised opponents of school busing, “If you object to sending your children to school with black children, you’ll lose for sure because right is on the other side.”

BTW, none of the male authors I have cited except for Luskin mentioned the abortion issue or the incongruity of the anti-abortion Ryan claiming to believe in Ayn Rand’s vision of complete individualism.

I guess the new fantasy-based Republicans like Ryan can just mentally excise much of Rand’s individualistic philosophy–taking what they want and leaving the rest–just as they do with the bible and with science. How else can Ryan and his radical colleagues rationalize idolizing Ayn Rand while voting again and again to limit the rights of women?

They think they own our Bodies

Update:  Women’s Health Outrage of the moment: BREAKING: Appropriation Committee sticks gov’t-funding law that cuts $372 mil in funding for Planned Parenthood/family planning into HR358

The Republican Party is waging a war against American women and is being joined by a few bad Democratic sell outs.  Representatives like Joe Pitts are attacking the rights of women to make personal health-related decisions daily.  HR#3 is just the first of a series of bills designed to narrow definitions of rape, prevention, and what constitutes federal support of women’s reproductive health.  Any one that voted for any Republican under the guise of being pissed at Democrats should take this as a lesson.  Republicans cannot be trusted to do right by women.

This is nothing less than a crusade against the autonomy and adulthood of women. We need to take to the streets again. This is the latest affront: Under Banner of Fiscal Restraint, Republicans Plan New Abortion Bills.

All but invisible during the midterm elections, the abortion debate has returned to Congress.

Invoking the mantra of fiscal restraint that has dominated House action since lawmakers reconvened last month, Republicans began committee work this week on two bills that would greatly expand restrictions on financing for and access to abortions. Another bill, one that would cut off federal dollars to women’s health care clinics that offer abortions, is expected to surface later this year.

“This House is more pro-life than it’s ever been,” said Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania and the author of one of the bills to limit money for abortions.

Democrats in both the House and Senate immediately fought back Tuesday, working closely with reproductive rights advocates. They have appropriated the Republican charge from last year that Democrats were working on a liberal policy agenda instead of on job creation and the economy, and turned it on its head.

We’re fortunate that some Democratic office holders are fighting against this religious crusade against American Women.  Others are not as reported here by StarkReports.  Is HR#3 so overreaching that it could end even the watered down abortion rights that we now know in the US?  Will Democrats like Harry Reid be complicit?  The Youtube above and the quote below cover the recent Democratic Press Conference on Republican attempts to control women.  It makes this important point.  Dozens of Democrats will probably join their crazed Republican counterparts to pass this abomination.  There is one thing in particular that I’d like to point out in bold below that will let you know why no woman that respects her own autonomy can vote Republican period.  This should also increase our skepticism of Democrats too.

Since every Representative in the Republican House majority is anti-choice, and since there are probably dozens of anti-choice Democrats that will join them, HR3 will assuredly pass the House.

In the Senate, Harry Reid is anti-choice and has been rolled by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans at every turn. Moreover, procedure in the Senate is much more amenable to minority priorities. Abortion supporters are hopeful, but nobody is saying with any degree of certitude that HR3 will die in the Senate.

With that in mind, I decided to ask the people in the room if they were willing to withhold their support from the President if he signed the bill if it reached his desk. Nadler dodged the question, saying it was premature. I pointed out that there was a reason he called the press conference: that he didn’t wan’t to see this bill become law. He stayed silent on the President.

The Republican party no longer represents a sane alternative to the Democratic Party.  Still, the Democratic Party cannot be trusted to do the right thing by women either.  Women have no choice but to ensure that any one that is willing to sell us out to religious extremists in the Democratic party does not get our vote.  PERIOD.

HR#3 and its counterparts make women second class citizens.  There is no other personal health decision that the government feels the need to make for any man.  This says that the majority of people in Congress and a good deal of them in the Senate do not think we are adult enough to make a ‘moral choice’.  It also continues the special treatment of fetus fetishists to opt out of paying taxes for women’s health while forcing the rest of us to pay for their bridges to no where, their murderous wars, and their religion-based stupidity like ‘abstinence education’.   The rape redefinition trick is still in these bills too.

One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, has drawn fire over language that undercuts a longstanding exemption on the ban on using federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest; the measure narrows the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” a term that his office has never defined. Democratic lawmakers and others repeatedly hammered on the term, saying it suggested that victims of statutory rape and other crimes could not get abortions paid for with federal money.

While Mr. Smith’s staff said last week that the term “forcible rape” would be removed from the bill, the staff of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said that language remained intact as of Tuesday.

Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.

The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.

We now have senators whose narrow religious views will be used to define rape and will allow hospitals to let women die.  Many of you have heard this story before, but my daughter has already experienced some of this conscious clause bullshit during her forth year in Medical School while doing a rotation in Michigan.  A resident left my daughter–not a qualified physician at the time–and a nurse to clean up the remnants of a botched abortion that was rapidly going septic in one woman’s uterus.  That’s right.  This woman was left by a doctor to a fourth year medical student and a nurse as a result of an abortion-gone-wrong.  The doctor basically left her to die.  Thankfully, my daughter was a competent and conscientious caregiver and so was the nurse.  This last bill allows entire hospitals to walk away from dying women.

These bills would go no where with out the duplicity of Democrats like Nebraska’s wacko Senator Ben Nelson.  We need to make it loud and clear that we will not contribute to any mass campaign fund that includes support for people who believe women are not adult enough to make moral decisions for themselves.  You need to make sure that your donations do not go to Democratic Politician’s PACS that can sneak money to these culprits.  Lastly, we need a pledge that pro choice Democrats will not sell out women for any reason.  There needs to be an absolute understanding that these bills will not reach the President’s desk and if they do, the President will not sign them.

Woman’s should not be hung on a cross of bipartisanship or kumbaya centrist compromises.  It’s time to make that very clear. We do not want to return to the days of forced pregnancy or wire hangers. We need to know that we can trust each and every one of them to stand by us before they get any form of support from us.  This includes the President.

Rachel Maddow is on the forefront of this fight.  You can follow her efforts and get more information here at The Maddow Blog. Send letters to your congressman via NARAL.  Support Planned Parenthood here.  Read more Feminist bloggers on this.  We are not alone in our fear and outrage.  Here’s the latest from Shakesville:  ‘Take Your Legislation OFF  Me‘.