Remember how Texas is having such a huge budget crisis that the Legislature has been forced to slash funding for one of its favorite pet projects, crisis pregnancy centers?
Well, apparently, the budget crisis is over because Gov. Rick Perry is insisting that the Legislature focus its attention on the most important issue ever:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suggested to pro life activists that a bill in the Texas Legislature requiring women seeking abortions to have a sonogram taken of their fetus will be placed on the emergency fast track for passage.
That's right -- passing even greater restrictions on women's access to reproductive health care is an emergency in Texas, budget be damned. Not to mention that this legislation, if it passes, will inevitably lead to litigation, as it has in pretty much every other state where similar laws have been enacted. Nothing like a costly lawsuit to really help out with the state's budget crisis, huh, Governor?
This is the same Gov. Perry who, less than two years ago, declared that Texas might have to secede from the union because "the federal government has become oppressive. I believe it’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state."
Curse that damned federal government for intruding into citizens' private lives. Everyone knows only state governments should be oppressive and intrusive.
But here's the point apparently lost on Gov. Perry and his fellow Texas Republicans:
One controversy surrounding Perry's drive to make the sonogram abortion bill a "fast track emergency" is that the Texas State Legislature is wrestling with a real emergency of a huge budget deficit that has to be closed at all hazards. Placing other bills on a "fast track emergency", no matter what the merits, may be unwise until that problem is solved.
So in Texas, passing oppressive, intrusive legislation takes precedence over everything else because when it comes to the forced birthers, nothing -- not even the budget crisis -- is more important than making sure that if a woman is going to have an abortion, her doctor should be forced to try to make her feel super duper bad about it first.
Now if only Gov. Perry could find a way to tax women for the sonograms they'll be forced to have, he just might be able to kill two birds with one really, really stupid stone.
This essay is a companion piece to the "Atheists and Agnostics Need Not Apply" essay by The MomCat yesterday. It's also a followup to a comment I made near the bottom of the threads.It's actually fairly common knowledge that Muslim fundamentalists have[...]
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Senate Democrats had an opportunity to get together and make the Senate a working, majority-rule-based chamber. They could have recently used the "Constitutional Option" at the start of this new Congress to rewrite the Senate rules to either eliminate[...]
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Last month the Democratic National Committee sent to the state chairs the official Call for the 2012 Convention along with the national rules for the Delegate Selection Process and the regulations of the Rules and By-laws Committee.
One of the key changes from 2008 to 2012 is found in Rule 11. In 2008, the first date for holding a primary was the first Tuesday in February. Now, the first date is the first Tuesday in March.
Approximately 20 states held state-run primaries in February in 2008. The date of state-run primaries is generally set by state statute.
That leaves a fix in the hand of those legislatures. While partisan control should not matter that much as the rules of both parties coincide on the issue of timing, it is likely that some states will not get a fix through their legislatures.
That raises the question of what the state parties will do (the state plans need to be submitted by early May). Assuming that some state parties will submit plans based on using a state-run primary as the first determining step and that by June it will be clear that their state-run primary will not comply with the rules, what should be the Rules and By-laws Committee do with those plans?
The model rules sent to the states for use in drafting the state delegate selection plans are neutral between a primary and a caucus system. Assuming that state legislatures balk at changing the date of their state's presidential primary, are we about to see a move away from primaries and back to caucuses as 10-15 states find themselves without a valid primary?
The floor is open for thoughts and comments.
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CNN's John King asks his guests James Carville and Mary Matalin to fact check these statements by Michele Bachmann in her response to the State of the Union address yesterday.
BACHMANN: Well, what did we buy? Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which lightbulbs to buy and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's health care bill.
King actually bothers to start pointing out that her statement about the IRS agents is just not true and when he asks Matalin to weigh in, she pulls out the pity card for Bachmann and claims that liberals are attacking her because they just want to shut her up. She also asserts that it's the Democrats that are propping her up on some equal footing with the president. Sorry Lady McCheney, but it's the tea partiers and your network that decided to do that when airing her response. I agree with your husband, keep her crazy ass out there talking.
They also never bothered to point out that it was George Bush, not Barack Obama that signed the energy bill that changed the standard on lightbulbs. Matalin was too busy pulling out the victim card for Bachmann.
“I felt like I just needed a drink when I was done with Paul Ryan.” – Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)[...]
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I was going to trash Michele Bachmann tonight for her spurious take on history. But while reading my local paper something else caught my eye that moved me.
You have to understand that I am not one that is easily moved by murder and mayhem. I practice criminal law in Philly. Murder and mayhem is a part of my life. But every now and then a story leaves me thinking that it's time to pack it up and head for the hills.
"All police knew about the murdered teen whose body was dumped in Germantown a week ago today was written on his shirt: Roxborough High School.
With no identification on him, police went to the school the next morning and pored over the absentee list, looking for a missing student who matched the description of their victim, sources said.
Meanwhile, Patsy Foster had spent the night calling her son, Christopher, then all morning calling hospitals after he didn't return from a quick trip to a sandwich shop with a friend.
"I was getting ready to call police Thursday when they knocked on the door and said they found him," she said. "I said, 'Is he OK?' He wasn't."
Christopher Foster, 18, was found with a single gunshot wound to his torso on Woodlawn Street near Morris at 8:16 p.m. Jan. 19, said Homicide Sgt. Ron McClane. Patsy Foster said her son was also beaten around the head and face. " [More]
The racist will follow this post with their usual pontification and dogmatizing about how bad those black teens are, and how Christopher Foster had it coming to him because he was probably caught up in the life. But, just for tonight, I will forgive them. Why? Because I know that it's just a matter of time before A-merry-ca starts closing in around them. The life that they think they have -far from those animals in the urban underbelly of A-merry-ca- is nothing but an illusion. Those heartless and depraved folks among us are around the corner from them as well. It's just a matter of time before someone who they know or love becomes just another Patsy Foster.
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The winning cupcakes from last night's auto-show-themed Cupcake Wars, by Kim Thurman (of Valencia, CA, online cupcake delivery company Bake You Happy), left to right: pumpkin spice with brown-butter butter cream, chocolate with ganache-and-marshmallow frosting, and caramel apple with vanilla-bean cream-cheese frosting (with fondant license plate).
Rub it in if you wish. "Okay, people," I wrote last night in the video-clip caption with my post "Counterprogramming the SOTU" (to which Howie, in an orgy of irony, appended the prepared text of the speech!),
how desperate are you to dodge the SOTU? What if I told you that at 9pm ET, Food Network is offering an episode of the appalling Cupcake Wars which has to do with the L.A. Auto Show? Just think, cupcakes for the Auto Show!As I mentioned, I still had two Breaking Bad repeat episodes stored on the DVR, but for that I would have had to go into the other room, an initiative to which I was apparently unequal. And so, instead, I wound up watching . . . well, you know.
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Earlier today I attended a White House press briefing with David Axelrod. The other attendees were all new media types representing center-left organizations. It was billed as a blogger roundtable. The entire transcript can be read below the fold.
Along with Bill Scher of Campaign for America’s Future, I was able to open the questioning. Our focus was on Social Security.
First, as a refresher, here is what President Obama said last night on Social Security:
To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.
Now, here are the questions on Social Security from today’s roundtable. The questions are in italics:
Q Bill Scher with Campaign for America’s Future. As you know, Campaign was pretty pleased with what the President said -- the President had to say about Social Security last night, although noting that the door is still open with some changes to the program.
I was curious, what is the polling telling the White House and telling you as his political advisor how best to approach Social Security? Our polling is showing there’s been a lot of opposition to raising the retirement age, for example. But is your polling telling you anything similar or different in how that will inform the President going forward?
MR. AXELROD: Well, I think all of that is pretty consistent. What informed his thinking on this is that what is true is that in the long term there are issues on the horizon relative to Social Security, as you know, because you’re obviously a student of research. Among younger Americans, there’s a profound suspicion that Social Security isn’t even going to be there. And among older Americans, there’s a great deal of anxiety about tampering with it.
And our goal is to make sure that the program is strong and secure. The President laid out his principles last night, and we’re willing to have a discussion, but those principles are going to inform the discussion.
Q Speaking of those principles -- I’m Chris Bowers with Daily Kos.
MR. AXELROD: How you doing?
Q I’m doing good. President Obama came out in opposition to benefit cuts and also to privatization. Would he still be willing to talk about those as part of a bipartisan solution, or is he more inclined to veto any bipartisan deal that includes either benefit cuts or privatization?
MR. AXELROD: Well, first of all, I think that -- as I said, I think his interest is in seeing the program strengthened, and there are certain things that are not just non-starters for him but I think many, many members of Congress, and that includes privatization, which Congressman Ryan has opposed, for example.
But I don’t think -- I mean, this is a delicate time because I don’t think you want to start pre-negotiating or pre-discussing issues to the point where people say, well, there’s no point in even sitting down and talking about this stuff. So I’m not going to, here, start parsing the President’s words and so on.
I will say this. I don’t think -- there’s not going to be a bipartisan agreement for him to veto. I think if there’s a bipartisan agreement that it’s going to be hammered out around the principles that he articulated last night or it’s probably not going to move forward. Just the nature of the issue.
So we’ll see what ensues from here.
The answers that we received are not answers that will make anyone entirely happy. Here is what I took from them:
Q. Well, it seems like there’s going to be a real debate to be had between this invest-and-grow strategy and a cut-and-grow strategy, as Eric Cantor defines it, because they do not seem to be interested in investing in anything right now. How does that debate get driven over the course of the year? Are there specific legislative vehicles that you’re looking at? Are you looking at a clean energy standard, infrastructure bank, a multi-year transportation bill? Are there specific things that are already in mind that will advance this discussion, or is it going to stay more on a thematic plate for the White House waiting to see what the House puts on the table?
MR. AXELROD: Well, we have an obligation to put a budget forward, and we’re going to put a budget forward, and that budget is going to reflect the priorities that the President spoke to last night. It’s going to be a tough budget in terms of the kind of the decisions we have to make about what we can afford and what we can’t afford. But it’s going to reflect the priorities that he spoke to.
And presumably Congress is going to then turn their cards over and say how they would do it differently. And we can have a discussion, the American people can participate in that discussion, as to the priorities.
You can’t just swirl around in the land of the theoretical forever. We’ve got responsibilities. They’ve got responsibilities. We’re going to meet our responsibilities. And I trust they’ll meet theirs and say, no, these are not the priorities we support, and here’s what we would cut, we could cut back.
I mean, we’ve had this discussion for some time now. If, in fact, the idea is to cut education by 20 or 30 or 40 percent, that’s not a growth strategy. If your -- if the idea is to not move forward on innovation and research and development, not to move forward on energy, that’s not a growth strategy.
So I expect this debate to become engaged pretty quickly as we introduce our budget and as they respond to it, and hopefully present us with theirs.
In 2011, the budget is the thing.
A recurring theme in the discussion was Axelrod not being very forthcoming on policy specifics. From questions on campaign finance, to gun control, to Afghanistan, to the upcoming House vote on the so-called “No Taxpayer Funded Abortion Act,” Axelrod did not announce, or clarify, Obama administration position on pretty much anything. One possible exception came on a process question asked by Greg Sargent near the end of the roundtable (emphasis mine):
Q. The big New York Magazine piece that had you getting up and checking your BlackBerry at 3:00 a.m., it had some pretty interesting stuff in there about -- he seemed to really be pretty plugged in in his reporting. It had some interesting stuff in there about sort of the introspection that’s gone on after the loss in November. And the suggestion was that you guys don’t view him as moving to the center so much as getting back to who he really is. And I wondered if you could talk about the degree to which there’s been this kind of introspection and conclusion about –
MR. AXELROD: Yes, I’m not going to change the nature of this town and the nature of our politics. And part of what we do -- and I’m part of the political community too, okay, so this -- put this down in the category of self-flagellation as well. But we tend to sit on the back of the truck and look at what happened before, and then define what’s happening now in the context of what happened some other time.
So, Bill Clinton repositioned himself to the center, and that’s the prescription for what you do and so on. I guarantee you -- I give you, as God is my witness, my word that we have not had a repositioning discussion here. We have not talked about let’s move three degrees to the right. That’s not the way we view this.
Those were easily the most vehement words we saw from Axelrod during the entire discussion.
The entire transcript is in the extended entry.