Misogynist freaks Akin (R) and Donnelly (D)
Democrats were in a feeding frenzy this week because Rep. Todd Akin's insane statements about legitimate rape not causing pregnancies, not so much about the deranged Akin himself as much as his partnering with Paul Ryan and other fanatic anti-Choice psychopaths on a bunch of really crazy measures. One gave eggs personhood. Another gave a rapist the right to go to court and sue his victim if she tried to get an abortion after he raped her. Republicans are normally fairly successful at keeping these insane positions out of the mainstream media, especially because the Senate always blocks them. Of course if lunatics from the House-- like Akin (R-MO), Rick Berg (R-ND), Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Connie Mack (R-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN)...-- get into the Senate, those crackpot bill they keep passing will become law. And, oh yes, that last name had a "D" next to it. The Beltway Democrats orchestrated a retirement announcement so that virulently anti-Choice and reactionary Blue Dog Joe Donnelly would be able to claim the Democratic nomination without a primary battle. And, yes, he not only votes with the Republicans on these horribly misogynistic proposals of theirs, he co-sponsors them as well.
In fact, for all the hollerin' from the hypocritical Beltway Democrats about how Ryan and Akin cosponsored a bunch of demented War Against Women legislation, the granddaddy of 'em all is often referred to by Boehner, Cantor and Ryan as "bipartisan." They can do that because H.R. 3, their quintessential anti-Choice bill was co-sponsored by 11 Democrats. And while Steve Israel does virtually nothing but look for more Democrats like those 11 to support in congressional campaigns, the DCCC is spending immense amounts of money-- millions and millions of dollars fighting to reelect anti-Choice ConservaDems with positions as extreme and hateful as Akin's and Ryan's-- and Bachmann's, King's, Foxx's, Gohmert's, Hensarling's... the whole freakish menagerie. Of the 11 Democratic co-sponsors of H.R. 3, only one is running for the Senate (Donnelly). 5 were either defeated or decided to retire before they could be defeated and 5 are running for reelection. Of the 5 running for reelection 2, Mark Critz and Mike McIntyre, are on the top priority list for DCCC spending. The other 3, Lipinski, Jr., Collin Peterson and Nick Rahall, are judged to be in easy enough races as to not need any help.
And when the final vote came on H.R. 3, it wasn't only the Democratic cosponsors who backed it. Jason Altmire (Blue Dog-PA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dale Kildee (D-MI), and Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT) also voted for it. Matheson is also on major DCCC life-support. Monday, Jodi Jacobson did a good explanation of this bill every single Republican and these 16 reprehensible Democrats voted for.
On May 4th, 2011, an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives-- 235 members-- voted in favor of H.R. 3, which they called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," and we called the "Let Women Die Act," because one aspect of this wholly offensive bill allowed hospitals, clinics, and even doctors to refuse not only to provide an abortion even in cases where the woman would otherwise die, but also to allow them to refuse to refer her for emergency care. In plain language, let her die.
The original version of that bill also included language that would have redefined rape, including the term "forcible rape" as the yardstick for what constituted "real rape" according to the GOP and Tea Party. An outcry ensued, and the language was dropped... for a time. It was, however, brought in later through the backdoor and became part of the final bill. In effect, the GOP's premise is that the only "legitimate rape" is a "forcible rape," one that occurs when a virgin, "good Christian" mother or woman, or otherwise "innocent" woman is carried away by a stranger at knife or gunpoint. This definition by extension would have eliminated date rape, marital rape, intimate partner rape, the rape of a sex worker, the rape of a woman too inebriated to give consent, and other forms of rape as "legitimate" forms of rape. It dismisses the reality that most rapes of women are committed by people they know. It is also no coincidence that the right wing wants to deny women in the military who have been sexually assaulted assistance for abortion care in the case of rape, and that some in the right wing have outright blamed service-women for being raped in the first place.
H.R. 3 epitomized the effort to redefine rape in law. As Michelle Goldberg wrote in the Daily Beast:
Under H.R. 3, the only victims of ?forcible rape" would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape-- say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man-- would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they?re over 18. And while ?forcible rape? isn?t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don?t involve overt violence-- say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity.
Akin's ineptitude in describing his position was a "political" mistake but not a mistake of substance. He was merely stating what the GOP writ large believes and has in effect been trying to pass into law... a redefinition of what constitutes rape to what the hard-line Christian right and extremist right-wing legislators see as "legitimate" rape. With Romney and Ryan in the White House and a Senate and House in the hands of the GOP, this law would easily pass, whether or not Akin is elected.
Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, is the author of ?The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown." He has a Talking Points Memo piece on the methodical creation of the alleged voter fraud epidemic -- and how shamelessly conservatives lie:
Hans von Spakovsky, one of the charter members of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad, claimed that there was such ?recent? evidence of a problem with impersonation fraud, and he cited to a grand jury report issued in 1984 by the Brooklyn (N.Y.) district attorney?s office. (Put aside the fact that 1984 is not so recent.)
I asked von Spakovsky for a copy of the report. I heard nothing from him, even though he had contacted me in the past pitching items to include on my Election Law Blog. I wrote to the president of the Heritage Foundation, where von Spakovsky works, asking for the report, and noting that good scholarship requires that scholars make their data available for verification. Silence. TPM ran a story on it. Silence.
A law librarian at UC Irvine finally was able to track down a copy of the report from the district attorney?s office. And guess what? The grand jury found lots of shenanigans by election officials and party officials (including party officials hiding in the ceiling of the men?s room of the Brooklyn Board of Elections to change voter registration after dark). But virtually no cases of voter impersonation fraud and nothing done without the collusion of election officials.
But by then, von Spakovsky had moved on. In a syndicated column, he wrote of an election allegedly stolen by at least 50 illegal votes cast by Somalis voting in Kansas. When I pointed out on my blog that the court examining these claims found no proof of illegal voting and that the election took place in Missouri, not Kansas, he corrected the column?s reference to Kansas, but did nothing to remove his discredited claim of fraud in the election.
More recently, von Spakovsky and his co-author John Fund wrote a book in which they rely onwholly discredited allegations that fraudulent voting was responsible for Al Franken?s win in Minnesota over Norm Coleman in the recount and litigation over the disputed Minnesota U.S. Senate race.
This is the modus operandi of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad. Use false and exaggerated claims. Don?t correct the record when proven wrong. Use a bait-and-switch on fraud allegations to justify laws which don?t prevent fraud. Make people believe voter fraud is an epidemic when it?s not. And call those who point out the truth ?vote fraud deniers.?
And speaking of, it sounds like Florida Gov. Rick Scott plans to impose early-voting limits in the Keys -- even though the Republican elections supervisor is fighting him.
Bracing for two weeks of convention goo, voters must face up to the hardest fact of 2012?-that every name on the ballot has become an ideological test.
In that sense, Republicans and their Tea Party masters have succeeded in transforming American politics from rational choices among human beings into litmus tests for wall-to-wall prejudice.
Those with old-fashioned sensibilities may see a difference between Scott Brown and Todd Akin in the Senate next year. Indeed Brown has called for Akin to quit his race, but Brown?s opponent Elizabeth Warren makes a hard-to-dispute point:
?What he [Akin] said was dangerously and deliberately ignorant. But it did not fall out of the sky.
?There?s a large Republican agenda here that has to do with access to birth control, with access to health care screening, to the ability of women to determine control over their bodies, to the definition of rape.
?He [Brown] is part of that agenda. He is working to get Republicans in control of the United States Senate so they can pursue that agenda.?
Warren?s contention gets instant credibility from the Republican Platform Committee?s stand against abortion even in cases of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother. Even if he disagrees, reelection of Scott Brown will be another vote to give such people control of the Senate.
As we reach that point this election year, it is the saddest commentary of all on the state of American democracy.
Update: To confirm the dilemma, Tom Friedman muses over what might happen if ?conservatives? retook the Republican Party from Tea Party ?radicals? and started real debate on policy.
His ?conservatives? include Sen. Tom Coburn on fiscal policy, along with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch on immigration.
In this world, there are no centrists.
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The Obama campaign is simultaneously highlighting yet another of Mitt Romney's statements on education that is likely to be unpopular among parents of schoolchildren, and using it to paint Romney as privileged and out of touch (not hard to do).
The 30-second ad, which will run in Virginia and Ohio this week, centers on Romney's claims that class size doesn't matter (even though he sent his own sons to a private school with very small classes). Few parents are likely to agree with the idea that putting their kids in giant classes wouldn't have a negative effect, and, in the ad, a man named Kevin says that "Some of our children's greatest experiences have been in the smaller classrooms."
From the specific Romney-supported policy of larger class sizes, and Romney's support for Paul Ryan's budget, "which could cut education by 20 percent," the ad's punchline, connecting the policy to the out-of-touch perspective, is delivered by a woman named Caroline: "These are all issues that really he personally cannot relate to. To be able to afford an education, to want the very best public education system for your children."
In addition to the issues raised in this ad and the higher education issues Obama highlighted Tuesday, the Obama campaign is pointing to the president's efforts?some successful, some blocked by congressional Republicans?to prevent teacher layoffs due to state budget cuts.
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I read somewhere recently that not long after Romney's announcement of his running mate, Google searches for "Paul Ryan" and "shirtless" shot through the roof. Undoubtedly this was due in part to the revelation that Ryan is a devotee of the infomercial workout known as P90X. If only people craved deets on Ryan's radically-destructive, mathematically-impossible budget like they do glimpses of his abs, we'd all be much better off. Speaking for myself, I can't even stand to look at the man's cold, dead eyes. Also: enough about what a brainy wunderkind he is. Ryan is an intellectual in the same way that people well-versed in specious vaccination theories are "intellectuals."
If you haven't heard about the Buckyball controversy, you can read more about it here. I don't have particularly strong feelings either way, though right-wing blowhards apparently do.
Here's something for Michael "There's been no short-term austerity" Grunwald to chew on: President Obama will extend the federal employee pay freeze into next year, meaning that federal employees will have seen their wages stagnate for at least two and a[...]
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by Dana Nucitelli, via Skeptical Science Readers may recall a letter published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in January 2012, signed by 16 climate contrarians, which we dubbed The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction. Roger Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen (hereafter CHL) were 3 of the 16 signatories on that letter, and [...]
From the August 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
One in five Americans have hit a point over the last twelve months when they could not afford to pay for food, according to a new poll from Gallup. In a survey conducted between January and June of this year, one fifth of the 177,662 people surveyed said that there were times in the last [...]
If you haven't been worn down reading about Todd Akin's bizarre and ignorant views about the female reproductive system, now turn to the Texas, where women's uteruses may soon have to move out of state to find health care. Late Tuesday night, a federal court of appeals ruled that Texas can exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program, which provides basic preventative care?like birth control and cancer screenings?for low-income women. The decision has terrifying implications in a state where women's access to health care is already poor.
One in four women in Texas is uninsured, and the state also has the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the country. In Texas, women's health-care clinics serving low-income populations rely on two sources of funding: the Women's Health Program and general state family-planning dollars. Lawmakers have attacked both streams.
In 2011, the state legislature slashed state funding for family planning?you know, the thing that prevents abortions?by two-thirds. A recent report from the Texas Observer revealed that 60 family planning facilities have already closed as a result of the cuts. While a full picture of the effect is still emerging, the Legislative Budget Board, a bipartisan committee, had estimated that when all was said and done, the cuts would lead to 20,000 additional births (which Medicaid would have to pay for). Projections show that around 180,000 women would lose health services.
Then there's the damage to the state Women's Health Program (WHP), a separate program that serves 130,000 low-income women. Created in 2005, the WHP is a crucial state service that provides preventative health care and family-planning services. It's run through Medicaid, so the feds paid for 90 percent of the $40 million program. While it only serves women who are not pregnant, it saved around $75.2 million in 2009 by preventing a projected 6,700 births. The program seemed like a win-win; it decreased unplanned pregnancies and abortions, while increasing access to health care.
But the WHP may soon not exist, or at least not in a recognizable way. Lawmakers added new rules in 2011 that excluded Planned Parenthood from receiving funding. The trouble is, Planned Parenthood provided services to nearly half the women covered under the program and received about 25 percent of the program's total funding last year. Barring the organization leaves many wondering whether those clinics left would meet demand.
Furthermore, the state violated federal policy by slashing Planned Parenthood funding, which means Medicaid can no longer foot the bill for the Women's Health Program. Texas supposedly has a plan to transition to a state-run program by November 1; that plan will continue to exclude Planned Parenthood. The influential organization is fighting the state's decision, and in October, the two parties begin court proceedings on whether Texas can permanently exclude the main provider of women's health from its Women's Health Program.
Yesterday's decision means that between now and the court case, Texas can halt funding to Planned Parenthood clinics. It's only a few months, but the clinics are already reeling from the family-planning cuts. The loss of WHP funding is a double whammy. Twelve Planned Parenthood clinics have already shut down, alongside the many clinics with no relation to the organization. Meanwhile, if the courts ultimately decide Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from the WHP, the state may opt to shut down the program entirely.
Many, including the attorney general and Governor Rick Perry, celebrated the decision, and the state Health and Human Services Commission announced it would immediately halt funding to the group. Meanwhile, for the hundreds of thousands of low-income women in the state, there are fewer and fewer health-care options.PregnancyGynecologyPlanned ParenthoodHealthcare reform in the United StatesMedicaidFamily planningAbortion in the United StatesHealthSocial Issues