Three new editorials are condemning Virginia’s controversial draft regulations requiring state abortion providers to meet the physical plant requirements of hospitals. The guidelines ? the result of legislation Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed earlier this year ? were formulated through an ?emergency? process that bypassed the normal public notice procedures and require existing abortion clinics to meet the standards of brand new construction.
No justification has been given for such fast-track treatment. Abortions are among the safest of medical procedures. Virginia?s Department of Health does not keep track of complications associated with the 25,000 or so abortions performed in the commonwealth each year. But the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on reproductive health and supports legal abortion, reports that less than one-half of 1?percent of all abortions performed in the country result in complications and require follow-up medical treatment. The abortion clinics targeted by the Virginia legislation perform only firsttrimester abortions ? the safest of all procedures.
Supporters’ claims that legislation requiring the new regulations was animated by concern for patient safety aren’t fooling anyone. If that were the motive, the law would have been aimed at raising the level of care at every outpatient surgical center across the state rather than simply those that perform five or more first-trimester abortions each month. [...]
Supporters of these regulations could’ve shown they were serious about the health and care of women dealing with unexpected pregnancies by working just as hard for an adequate support system. They could’ve pushed for more funding for prenatal care for low-income expectant mothers or greater public awareness campaigns about the effects of unintended pregnancies. They could’ve demanded more resources and more social programs, including greater access to childcare assistance, to show single mothers and teenage parents that they needn’t choose between ending an unintended pregnancy or resigning themselves to a life of poverty.
If there’s one thing Virginia’s leading Republicans agree on, it’s government regulation. They’re against it. “Keep taxes and regulation and litigation low,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in 2009 when he was asked how to make Virginia business-friendly…. The same goes for state Sen. Ryan McDougle. When he was sworn in for his second term in 2008, McDougle promised, among other things, to ensure that “you are not burdened with intrusive new government regulations.”
But a commitment to the principle of laissez-faire evidently goes only so far. Because this year McDougle sponsored the legislation requiring the Department of Health to write tough new regulations for abortion clinics. The board has now done so, and will vote on them next Thursday. McDonnell signed McDougle’s measure into law ? apparently without a qualm and perhaps even enthusiastically.
The Virginia Board of Health will vote on the draft regulations — which may close as many as 17 of the state’s 22 abortion clinics — on Sept. 15, and if approved, they will go into effect on Dec. 31.
“We will pick up the pieces. We always do,” Perry told reporters.
Dozens of fires are burning across the state, the Texas Forest Service said Monday.
Texas is battling its worst fire season in state history. A record 3.5 million acres — an area roughly the size of Connecticut, Perry said — have burned since the start of the season in November as hot and dry weather, coupled with a historic drought, made conditions ripe for rapid fire growth.
Perry may say that picking up the pieces is that they “always” do in Texas, but it’s right there in the article that this is in fact the worst fire season on record. The Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas / Fort Worth metro areas are three of the fastest growing in the country and they’re all in the extreme risk zone according to the Texas Forest Service’s forecasts. The whole situation sort of reminds me of Trotsky’s quip about the dialect. Neither Governor Perry nor the bulk of Texas’ citizens may be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in them. People settle in certain places expecting the weather to be a certain way. When it changes, you get big problems.
“South Dakota can require doctors to tell women who seek abortions that they have an ‘existing relationship’ with their fetus that is protected by law and that they can’t be forced to undergo the procedure, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.” The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned “U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier’s ruling two years ago in which she struck down the requirement, which is part of a larger law requiring South Dakota doctors to provide women with certain information before an abortion can be deemed voluntary.” The Appeals Court did uphold “Schreier’s decision to overturn another aspect of the law that would have required doctors to tell patients that people who have abortions are more likely to commit suicide.”
Speaking at a campaign stop in his home state yesterday, Texas Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry announced his intentions to make the Environmental Protection Agency unapologetically pro-pollution.
His remarks were reported by the Houston Chronicle:
“I’ll tell you one thing: The EPA officials we have an opportunity to put in place, they’re going to be pro-business, and there’s not going to be any apologies to anybody about it,” he said. “Those agencies won’t know what hit ‘em.”
It?s not hard to see why Perry would want environmental regulations to be crafted by polluters, considering that he?s taken $11 million from the oil and gas industry since 1998. Meanwhile, Perry has stepped up his attacks on climate science by falsely claiming that researchers manipulated data for money.
Perry attended the town hall meeting shortly before surveying the damage from a catastrophic wildfire in central Texas. The fire was strengthened by winds from Tropical Storm Lee and a record-shattering drought in the state ? two factors that climatologists agree will get worse as the world continues to warm. Wildfires have already burned a land area the size of Connecticut in state this year.
One Texas-based climatologist recently explained that ?it?s likely that much of Texas will still be in a severe drought this time next summer.? Indeed, there is still no rainfall expected for the state.
Perry?s response to the disasters has been to pray for rain and to pray away successful water and air quality standards. Since neither of those strategies worked, he?s decided that stacking the EPA with pro-business officials is the easiest way to tear down decades of successful environmental regulation.
Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is scheduled to appear in front of the Senate Banking Committee today for the first time since President Obama nominated him to become the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The GOP, meanwhile, has promised to continue their obstruction of anything related to the agency without considering Cordray’s nomination on its merits.
Republicans have requested sweeping structural changes to weaken the agency since it was signed into law as part of financial regulatory reform, demanding that it be run by a board instead of a director, that its budget be subject to Congressional approval, and that other regulators have more power than the bureau itself. That means Cordray’s appearance today is an “interview for a job he is unlikely to get,” as the Banking Committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby (AL), insisted that hearings related to the agency are irrelevant until Obama and Democrats relent on the issues most important to Wall Street banks the CFPB is meant to regulate:
“Opposition to or support of Mr. Cordray?s nomination will become relevant as soon as the President agrees to make the structural changes we?ve requested,” said Jonathan Graffeo, the spokesman for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). “Until then, Sen. Shelby and his colleagues stand firmly behind the statement they expressed in their May letter: No accountability, no confirmation.”
Republicans have used various methods to fight the CFPB, harassing Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren (who conceived the idea of the bureau) in Congressional hearings and refusing to allow the Senate to recess in order to avoid recess appointments. That obstruction, which will assuredly continue in Cordray’s hearing today, has been helped by the financial industry’s intense lobbying efforts to block implementation of the reforms and the CFPB in particular. The financial industry, in fact, has spent as much lobbying to block implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law as it did to block the passage of the law itself.
The GOP has benefited from its continued obstruction. The 10 Republican members of the Banking Committee have taken in $31 million from the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors in their Senate careers. Shelby himself has received more than $6.2 million, including more than $1 million from commercial banks, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Every GOP committee member has signed on to Shelby’s legislation to repeal financial regulatory reform.
Democrats, however, are gearing up for a fight over Cordray’s nomination. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) slammed Republican obstruction in an op-ed last week. Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-ND), meanwhile, plans to unleash on the Republican Banking Committee members today, blasting them for holding Cordray and consumers hostage. “The purpose of today?s hearing should be to consider whether Mr. Cordray is qualified for [the] job?Instead, a vocal minority is playing games with the process and holding Mr. Cordray?s nomination hostage,” Johnson will say, according to prepared remarks obtained by Politico. “This political gamesmanship is preventing Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve.”
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) has released a new web ad hitting fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s (R) record on job creation while he was governor of Massachusetts. The state ranked 47th in job creation during Romney’s tenure, a point Huntsman has used repeatedly against him. While it cites reports that Utah had the nation’s fastest rate of job creation while Huntsman was governor, it calls Romney’s time in office “one of the saddest records” in the country. Watch it:
A study published this month shows that couples ? both same-sex and opposite-sex ? were significantly more monogamous in 2000 than they were in 1975. The number of people indicating they’d had sex outside their committed relationship declined for all groups, including heterosexual men (10 percent, down from 28 percent), heterosexual women (14 percent, down from 23 percent), gay men (59 percent, down from 83 percent), and lesbians (8 percent, down from 28 percent).
Congress is back on the job today, at least in the Senate. The House just had to have one more day off to refresh them for the ideological agenda-setting ahead. The return to session comes at a time when polls show a total collapse in confidence in[...]
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Oil billionaires Charles and David KochMother Jones has obtained the audio from the latest of the secret fundraising and strategy seminars held by brothers Charles and David Koch from an attendee of the session.
"We have Saddam Hussein," declared billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, apparently referring to President Barack Obama as he welcomed hundreds of wealthy guests to the latest of the secret fundraising and strategy seminars he and his brother host twice a year. The 2012 elections, he warned, will be "the mother of all wars." [...]
During his welcoming remarks, Charles Koch warned his guests that the 2012 elections are nothing short of a battle "for the life or death of this country." He then acknowledged the individuals and families who had given more than $1 million to the brothers' efforts?though he misspoke, saying "more than a billion," earning a huge laugh from the crowd. "Well, I was thinking of Obama and his billion-dollar campaign," Koch said, to more laughter and cheers. "So I thought, 'We gotta do better than that.'" (Forbes pegs the brothers' personal net worth at around $22 billion apiece.)
The BRAD BLOG has the full transcript, and the litany of $1 million donors to the cause of fighting the "mother of all wars," defeating President Obama.
Here's a question: Will calling Obama Saddam Hussein be as horrifying to the folks at Fox News as Teamsters' President James Hoffa calling Republicans "son of bitches." Yeah, right.
(Jim Young/Reuters)Mitch McConnell devotes a Washington Post op-ed to pressuring President Obama to send free-trade deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama to Congress for passage. "What's the real holdup," according to McConnell?
For three years, the administration has delayed finalizing these deals because unions have been extracting concessions in exchange for their support. Early on, they demanded further concessions and political reforms from our trading partners, all of which have been satisfied. Now, they?re demanding taxpayer funds for worker training programs that many believe are not only duplicative and costly but may not even be effective. Still, I and others have told the president we are prepared to allow this program to move ahead for a vote as a sign of good faith and to move the trade deals forward.
Ah, those dastardly unions, holding out for trade deals that include minimal worker protections. The nerve! And asking for inclusion of funding to help workers who lose their jobs because of these allegedly jobs-creating trade deals? An outrage!
Of course, these trade deals will not only cost Americans jobs, but Americans know they will cost jobs, as brooklynbadboy's roundup of polling showed. But Republicans have learned that threats to paint Obama and congressional Democrats as opposing an unpopular policy will usually get them to turn around and support the policy, so McConnell is just going with what works for him, here.