“Whatever Mike Moon does with a chicken in the privacy of his home is his own business. But we will not let him use the rights of women across Missouri as some kind of political prop. His call to ban abortion is disturbing and dangerous, no matter what he does with that chicken.”
The Donald Trump Show (American Distress)
“Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 + 1 does not equal 5.”
The thing about politics right now is that everything is really, really depressing. I’m deathly sick of Donald Trump, yet the question persists: How did this happen?
Nor do I mean that in any context suggesting plaintive puzzlement. We all have a reasonable idea how the abdication of civic leadership in the context of public service struck the Republican Party so low after decades of pandering to ill-educated bigotry.
Donald Trump saying something stupid really shouldn’t be headline news. It shouldn’t be anything unusual. It shouldn’t be anything the rest of us have any reason to give a damn about. Then again, just how the hell did Republicans find themselves with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee apparent?
The Chris Christie Show (Threshold Check)
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.”
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?
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.
The Conservative Lesson
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.
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.
They did this to themselves.
Republican Governance (Aborted)
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.
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
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.
… I think. Maybe. Possibly.
Still, though: And?
You know. Like―What now?
Oh, right. Go on tour.
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)
“Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”
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.
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?
“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.”
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.
The Marco Rubio Show (Fabulous Retro Chic)
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.
Amiable and Approachable Danger
Three paragraphs from Stuart Rothenberg to mark the date by. This could be very important:
Though I took notice of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio for president, I didn’t immediately think about Gardner as a possible running mate for Rubio — until a CQ Roll Call colleague dropped that pearl of wisdom in my lap.
But there are plenty of reasons why Gardner needs to be on any Rubio shortlist of possible running mates, even this early in the 2016 election cycle.
In a party full of elected officials who look and sound angry and bitter, the Colorado Republican invariably is cheerful and optimistic. That doesn’t mean that Gardner is happy with the direction of the country or defends the status quo, but it does mean he is amiable and approachable. Not surprisingly, that makes him appealing to many voters, particularly those who are less ideological and less partisan.
This is an interesting, and even potentially terrifying notion. Sen. Gardner is a proper culture warrior. Amiable and approachable is one thing, but consider the story of how he got to the Senate.
In 2010, Republicans ran a former Weld County prosecutor named Ken Buck for U.S. Senate. Mr. Buck, it turned out, suffered a vital weakness; as prosecutor he refused to charge a confessed rape, telling the victim she bore guilt in her own rape, and telling the public he did not think the good people of Weld County could convict a confessed rape. Democrat Michael Bennet won by a narrow margin.
In 2014, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall faced re-election, and Republicans feared another Ken Buck run. Instead, the Congressman from Colorado’s Fourth stepped up, and Cory Gardner became a Senate candidate. While he was not a rape abettor like Mr. Buck, Mr. Gardner faced exposure for his sponsorship of an anti-abortion bill attempting to curtail the human rights of women. So he denied his support for the bill, but refused to remove his name as a sponsor. This was good enough for the people of Colorado, and in the Fourth Congressional District they sent the rape abettor, Mr. Buck, to fill Mr. Gardner’s seat in the House of Representatives.
Amiable and approachable is one thing, but that speaks nothing to statecraft, or the quality and efficiency thereof.
As a vice presidential nominee, Mr. Gardner would simply be an amiable and approachable face of danger.
Image note: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO04) speaks at a rally in Littleton, Colorado, 29 September 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Rothenberg, Stuart. “Cory Gardner for Veep? Don’t Laugh”. Rothenblog. Roll Call. 3 November 2015.