abortion access

The Chris Christie Show (Threshold Check)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaks at a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15, 1 July 2015, in Ashland, New Hampshire. (Detail of photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

A question arises: Is there room for Republican presidential candidates to maneuver to the left not so far-right of the GOP platform?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that Republican primary voters in New Hampshire “should be concerned” about presidential rival Marco Rubio’s position on abortion, suggesting he is out of step with the state’s GOP electorate ....

.... Christie argued Thursday that Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, supports banning all abortions, including in cases of “rape, incest or life of the mother.” Appearing on NBC, he added, “I think that’s the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would really be concerned about.”

Rubio backs an exception for abortion when the life of the mother is in danger, and would back legislation with allowances for cases of rape and incest — even though he personally doesn’t support those exceptions.

“I understand it’s a difficult issue,” Rubio told reporters Thursday. “But I have to choose between the right of a person to do what they want with their body and the right of an unborn child to live. And I support and defend the right of an unborn child to live.”

(Beaumont)

To the one, it is an interesting threshold check. After all, does this question even exist in the Republican discourse, or, more accurately, to what degree does it matter?

To the other, this is what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is down to in search of attention for his presidential bid. And even that consideration suggests a thing or three about the state of the GOP: When all else fails, give what traditionally passes for moderation a try.

So, what’s the office pool say? Will “too anti-abortion” fly with Republican voters in New Hampshire? Or should Rubio find a disappointing day would we really attribute it to his abortion policy outlook?

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Image note: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaks at a town hall meeting at the American Legion Dupuis Cross Post 15, 1 July 2015, in Ashland, New Hampshire. (Detail of photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Beaumont, Thomas. “Christie: Rubio as out of place in New Hampshire on abortion”. Associated Press. 4 February 2016.

Eisele, Erik. “All (presidential) politics is local”. The Conway Daily Sun. 23 December 2015.

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The Conservative Lesson

David Daleiden, of Center for Medical Progress.  Detail of photo by Charles Ommanney, ca. 2015.

A question arises: Is self-harm ever funny?

Certes, there are complications to the question; obviously, it is harder to justify self-harm if one also hurts others along the way, but here we’re not talking about going on a slashing spree amid a cutting habit. This one falls more under inspiring terrorists while wrecking your life for the sake of your own stupid masculinity.

Never mind.

Yesterday morning, via USA Today:

The videos show Planned Parenthood’s senior leadership partaking in a widespread and organized violation of state and federal laws forbidding partial-birth abortions and profiteering from the sale of fetal organs and tissues, which is why multiple state and federal investigations, including a select committee in Congress, continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and financial interests in harvesting body parts. Contrary to the liberal shibboleth that the videos were “edited” (by which they mean to insinuate, “doctored”), the Center for Medical Progress has been far more transparent than any major news network in making the unedited conversations available to the public, and forensic analysis verifies their utility as evidence.

David Daleiden penned an op-ed in defense of his Center for Medical Progress, which is perhaps more familiar as the right-wing operation that doctored up some videos that succeeded in causing a ruckus. Congress held hearings, then slated some more because the first round was such a disaster. A terrorist murdered three people, wounded several more. Eleven states have investigated the infamous claims against Planned Parenthood, and all eleven have cleared the organization. In Texas, officials even convened a grand jury.

So Daleiden decided to … what? Pitch his case one last time? Rub it in? Set up for his victory lap?

That was Monday morning. A few hours later, Daleiden and co-conspirator Sandra Merritt got the news:

A Houston jury investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood declined to charge the women’s health provider, announcing instead felony charges for the leaders of the anti-abortion organization that targeted Planned Parenthood with it’s widely debunked series of “sting” videos in 2015.

The grand jury said they did not find evidence of illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood after reviewing the covert videos meant to misleadingly implicate the women’s health provider in the illegal trafficking of fetal tissue ....

.... David Daleiden, the 26-year old president of The Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, founder and CEO of the fake tissue procurement company created to misleadingly gain entry into abortion clinics, were indicted for “tampering with a governmental record,” while Daleiden received an additional indictment for “the purchase and sale of human organs.” The first charge is a second degree felony and the second is a Class A misdemeanor. As the Houston Chronicle notes, a second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

(Tesfaye)

They did this to themselves.

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Republican Governance (Aborted)

Corset - Detail of frame from 'Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt'.

This is pretty straightforward:

• In 2013, North Dakota Republicans passed into law a heartbeat abortion bill, which would have set the termination cutoff around six weeks.

• The law never went into effect, and was struck in federal court in April, 2014.

• In July, 2015 a federal appeals court affirmed that ruling; the North Dakota anti-abortion law that never went into effect remained struck.

• Today the Supreme Court said no to the Peace Garden (Roughrider? Flickertail?) State’s last appeal; the law remains dead.

This is the only catch: This was how it was supposed to go.

Republicans knew the law wouldn’t survive; Gov. Jack Dalrymple even said so when he signed the bill into law: “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade”. Apparently, the governor thought viability was an open question, which would of course be the reason Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote, in the April, 2014 decision, that, “a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than forty years”, reminded that the highest court in the land “has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this lawsuit”, and even found himself explaining to North Dakota, “This court is not free to impose its own view of the law”.

So here’s the thing: When Republicans tell you government doesn’t work, what they mean is that government in their own hands does not work.

No, really, just think about it for a minute. (1) Pass a harsh bill that stands well outside accepted norms; (2) argue the new law is a “legitimate attempt” to “discover the boundaries”; (3) pretend in court the boundaries are unclear and need to be discovered; (4) get reminded quite the opposite; (5) appeal to the Supreme Court; (6) see your appeal denied.

This, according to Gov. Dalrymple, was apparently the plan.

No, really, think about the logic here: The Court says we can only go this far. But they didn’t explicitly say we couldn’t go farther. You might as well fault the speed limit signs for every possible velocity they do not explicitly reject: “It only says, ‘Speed Limit 55’; it doesn’t explicitly say, ‘Thou shalt not drive ninety miles per hour’!”

When Republicans tell us government does not work, it would behoove us to attend the threat.

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Alter, Charlotte. “North Dakota’s Strict Abortion Ban Overturned”. Time. 22 July 2015.

Hassan, Carma and Dana Ford. “Judge overturns North Dakota law banning most abortions”. CNN. 17 April 2014.

Williams, Pete. “US Supreme Court rejects plea to revive North Dakota abortion ban”. msnbc. 25 January 2016.

Either Significant or Not

Evangelist Franklin Graham speaks before the Festival of Hope at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Frank Couch)

This is interesting …

Evangelist Franklin Graham announced Monday that he left the Republican Party and is now an independent over the GOP’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood in last week’s omnibus spending bill.

(Koplowitz)

… I think. Maybe. Possibly.

Still, though: And?

You know. Like―What now?

Oh, right. Go on tour.

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Image note: Evangelist Franklin Graham speaks before the Festival of Hope at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Frank Couch)

Graham, Franklin. “Shame on the Republicans and the Democrats for passing such a wasteful spending bill last week”. Facebook. 21 December 2015.

Koplowitz, Howard. “Franklin Graham quits GOP over not defunding Planned Parenthood; ‘I have no hope in the Republican Party'”. AL.com. 22 December 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Tell Me You’re Joking)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gestures while addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

It seems something of a dubious claim, but this is Ted Cruz, so there is, of course, a hitch.

First, though, ask yourself just how likely it is that anyone can be a career politician from Texas and never meet a fellow conservative who advocates Fertilization-Assigned Personhood, a.k.a., “Life at Conception”.

But here’s the hitch: While FAP would ban oral, intrauterine, and emergency contraception accessible to females, Mr. Cruz doesn’t see that as problematic.

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” Cruz told a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa, as CNN and other outlets reported. “When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom; you put 50 cents in and voila!”

Cruz argued that Democrats have conflated Republican opposition to abortion rights with opposition to contraception. “Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives,” Cruz said.

(Lesniewski)

See? He doesn’t want to ban contraception. He just wants it to be a man’s decision. In truth, I’m curious how young one must be to not recognize the phrase “taking a shower with a raincoat on”.

No, really. Show of hands. How many people think history would describe men as enthusiastic, adept users of condoms?

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Clowntastic

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“The truth is that Republicans are at a crossroads. What we are seeing is a surrogate battle to determine whether the GOP will be a sort of populist/protectionist party, or a more cosmopolitan and compassionate one. And if those are the two world views that will eventually clash, Cruz and Rubio are much better representatives than, say, Trump and Bush.”

Matt Lewis

Conservative stalwart Matt Lewis offers an intriguing commentary considering the real potential of a marquee showdown between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The junior U.S. Senators from Florida and Texas respectively enjoy competitive positions in the polls, and thus stand out as leading candidates to ascend as Dr. Ben Carson tumbles and pretty much everyone else wonders when Trump will follow. The Roll Call op-ed opens:

“The two people to watch are Cruz and Rubio,” Charles Krauthammer declared on Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ “Special Report.” Call it wishful thinking or conventional wisdom (or both), but there is an assumption that this clash of titans might eventually occur—and I, for one, am rooting for it.

And we can skip ahead to the ending, a pretense of obvious afterthought―that both Cruz and Rubio can win the general against Hillary Clinton―long enough to remember that Lewis is, after all, a conservative pitch man. Cruz can’t win; Rubio has a chance if he can overcome the deer and headlight air of youthful inexperienceα he often demonstrates so aptly when rattling through talking points that thoroughly defy his comprehension. That is to say, we can attend the pretense of afterthought long enough to dismiss it.

Nonetheless, Mr. Lewis offers an insightful analysis that includes the benefit of also sounding reasonable:

Most people I know think a Trump candidacy would be disastrous, but there is division regarding just how freaked out we should be. Some, like statistician Nate Silver, argue that we are putting too much stock in these early polls showing Trump ahead for a variety of reasons, including the fact that “the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.”

Others argue that this is fantasy. All the previous predictions about a Trump collapse were premature, and besides, he’s a paradigm-shifting candidate; the old rules no longer apply.

Having said all that, it’s not absurd to believe that voters will finally come to their senses, and that Cruz and Rubio might eventually emerge as representatives of their various “lanes” to face off in a sort of championship battle to determine who will represent the GOP in the general election.

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The Marco Rubio Show (Fabulous Retro Chic)

Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gestures while speaking in Davenport, Iowa on 11 November 2015. (Detail of photo by Charlie Niebergall/AP Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would like American society to please turn back the clock.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it―not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

“And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

Steve Benen of msnbc also reminds of Mr. Rubio’s odious regard for women; we are already familiar with the Florida junior’s nonsense, but neither should his absurdity about marriage equality overshadow his desire to forcibly insert the government between women and their doctors.

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The Ben Carson Show (And Your Mother, Too!)

“They tell you that there’s a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country.” ―Dr. Ben Carson

So, you know, we finally got around to making up a quote image for Dr. Ben Carson’s wonderful war inside women gaffe.

Because, like, you know. You care. Or something.

And, you know, because if people are going to read, they tend to need pictures, too, these days. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to socmed another freaking cat video, why not this?

Because, you know, sure, why not? I mean, look, I’m not going to knock sports fans. But in truth, if most of the sports fans I know paid half as much attention to, you know … er, look, okay? I know. I come from a football family. And I get it. Sports really do affect our lives.

But compared to elections? Yeah, I know, maybe the trade seems inexplicable, giving up prospects when there’s no way it’s going to pay off five years down the road, but I am a father, goddamn it! Yeah, I like championship trophies and hoisting pints to victory as much as the next, but you know what I like even more? A world in which creepy old men aren’t declaring war on my daughter’s insides.

And by the juxtaposition, it is worth pointing out that those of us who have better awareness of the political farm leagues than, say, the baseball version from which we take the term, are slightly awestruck today as more evidence emerges that the Republican establishment is afraid of what might be about to happen. But that also throws the political calculus of what happens when and if Donald Trump actually does crash and burn the way the conventional wisdom once believed he must; Dr. Carson would, given the apparent mood among Republican voters at this moment, be a more likely nominee than, say, Jeb Bush.

And in the time you wasted reading my halfwitted justification for wasting it, you could have grabbed that image and sent it to a friend who probably needs it either for their own benefit, or as something to send to someone they know.

I mean, really. I have a daughter. And, you know, a mother. And lots and lots of friends and neighbors who just happen to be female. And not a one of them needs Ben Carson’s goddamn war inside their bodies.

And, you know, “Some of my friends are women!” hardly makes me special. Indeed, for the most part it makes me just like you.

Admit it. You know someone who needs to be paying attention right about now.

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Image note: Source photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, 2015.

Johnson, Eliana. “The Establishment Thinks the Unthinkable: Trump Could Win the Nomination”. National Review. 19 October 2015.

The Twenty-First Century Carpetbagger Blues

Scott Brown missed all border security hearings in Senate, records suggest (Sean Sullivan/Washington Post)

It’s really easy to pick on Scott Brown. The former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, once the GOP wunderkind who won the seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy, continues to amaze as he struggles through a new campaign in New Hampshire that sees him trailing Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Whether forgetting which state he’s running in, boasting his antipathy toward job creation, pretending (we hope) ignorance of his own anti-abortion legislation, or—well, right—whatever, he is a tragic clown singing the carpetbagger blues.

Or, as Sean Sullivan’s headline suggests:

The Washington PostFormer Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R) has run several attack ads criticizing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. But as a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he missed all six hearings on border security that he was eligible to attend, records suggest.

Brown was absent from five hearings in 2011 and one in 2010, according to a review of public records and congressional transcripts and video. Of the six, four were full committee hearings and two were meetings of the subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs, to which he belonged.

A review of all Homeland Security Committee hearings during the time Brown was senator shows those were the six he could have attended, based on his subcommittee membership.

Cole-ScottBrownIt is not uncommon for senators to miss committee hearings. Scheduling conflicts, including other committee meetings, can complicate matters. Shaheen has also been criticized for absences from committee meetings.

But Brown’s absences from border security hearings are especially notable since he has sought to elevate the issue in the campaign. He has routinely railed against “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants and argued that Shaheen been too soft on border security.

You know, just because.

No, really. At this point, just what does anyone expect? It’s Scott Brown.

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See a previous note on the Kinsley gaffe, as this was one for the ages.

Oakes, Bob and Shannon Dooling. “Analysts Say Scott Brown Must Galvanize GOP Base In N.H. Senate Race”. WBUR. 15 August 2014.

Waldman, Paul. “In Horrible Gaffe, Scott Brown Straightforwardly Explains Conservative Philosophy”. 3 September, 2014.

Benen, Steve. “A faulty memory trips up Scott Brown again”. msnbc. 25 September 2014.

Sullivan, Sean. “Scott Brown missed all border security hearings in Senate, records suggest”. The Washington Post. 1 October 2014.

A Memo to Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Rick Perry

To: Gov. Rick Perry, State of Texas

re: A brief word of advice

It’s over, Governor. Your side lost. Get used to it.

The Texas Republican Party this month adopted a platform supporting access to “reparative therapy” for gays and lesbians, a widely discredited process intended to change sexual orientation. In response to an audience question about it Wednesday night, Perry said he did not know whether the therapy worked.

Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

(Baker)

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