“The President’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory,” said Chambliss, who recently golfed with the president, in a statement. > more ... (1 comments)
Emily brings it home on reproductive rights:
I think it’s helpful to be told flat-out that this is what we’re battling. Many anti-choice activists may honestly believe that they’re acting to protect children (though I might argue that if they really want to protect children, they might consider the needs of the fetus after it becomes a baby, but I digress), but leaders of the anti-choice movement are acting to protect what they know to be the Divine order. [...]
One party that is working — however fitfully, however imperfectly — to protect the right of half of this country’s citizens to be legally recognized as humans with autonomy over their own bodies, and one party working to declare zygotes legal people, to require physicians to lie to patients about the established medical facts of abortion, and to allow hospitals to deny abortions to women even when their lives are in immediate danger.
This is not about the medical procedure called “abortion.” This is about the separation of church and state, and it is about allowing women to be human.
I was brought up in a pro-life family, though I fell away from that (and most conservatism) in high school. And the reason I did so specifically in the case of the pro-life stuff was because the pro-life movement is so manifestly sleazy that it thoroughly disgusted me. There were people who would, at times, stand outside my high school with pictures of mangled fetuses, counting on shock value when logical arguments couldn’t penetrate. No doubt they lost points that day, because kids can spot manipulation like that with great ease. For alleged moralists who hate relativism they’re shockingly relativist, figuring that lying to women via Crisis Pregnancy Centers is a perfectly reasonable tradeoff. And if you’re willing to trade honesty away, then you can’t lay claim to the reform mantle. You’re something else entirely.
This is ultimately why the occasional Will Saletan “we need to respect the pro-life movement’s integrity” thing doesn’t ring true to me. By their deeds shall you know them. A purportedly reformist movement that seems to recognize no limits or norms when it comes to waging political combat is not a reformist movement. A movement that cannot answer basic questions on what comes next after their thing is achieved is not a reformist movement. A movement that cultivates such barely covert ugliness is not a reform movement. Martin Luther King didn’t take fat envelopes of money under the table and then systematically lie to people in order to promote civil rights, and neither has any other successful reformer in history. There are, to be sure, quite a few pro-life individuals of good will, I don’t deny it. But the movement itself is creepy even if viewed with the most superficial of glances. Something tells me that plain moral concern isn’t what’s driving people like Mourdock and Todd Akin.
This is just amazing:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a close Romney ally, said it was “offensive” for Democrats to say they’re better for women on reproductive rights. Speaking with reporters at the Republican National Convention, Haley said Democrats drawing attention to the pro-life plank in the party’s platform are merely “distracting” from Obama’s record. Asked if the platform does indeed call for a total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, Haley replied, “I have no idea. I haven’t been paying attention.” The platform endorses the Human Life Amendment, which would give constitutional rights to fetuses, and thus equate abortion with murder.
I’ve read this paragraph about five times now, and I’m just amazed that a person with a presumably functional brain could get this out without shuddering and collapsing. Haley thinks that Republicans ought to be offended that Democrats are asserting their superiority on matters of reproductive rights? What kind of apology might she be looking for? (“Sorry for reading your platform before you did?”) And the second graph is about as confusing:
Women are not one issue voters, we care about the economy,” she explained. ”These debates [abortion] that you fellas keep talking about, that the Dems keep talking about, is just not where women are… The only people that are saying that the Democrats are the better party for women are Democrats. And they think if they say it enough, we’ll believe it, and that’s probably about as offensive as it gets,” Haley added.
Perhaps she didn’t get the memo that the economy is out, and divisive culture war skirmishes are in when it comes to the Romney campaign, so this is entirely pret a porter.
This gets back to one of my ongoing fixations: minority (and women) Republicans with power who nonetheless try to assert leadership over their own cohorts. Just like Michael Steele during his RNC salad days, and one or two brief moments of Herman Cain’s presidential bid, this sort of leadership campaign just doesn’t work from within the confines of a high-profile Republican position. Steele’s sad antics showed someone desperate to exercise some form of cultural leadership in a context that wouldn’t allow it substantively, and his symbolic outreach (“hip hop conservatism”) was hilariously inept. Cain at times flirted with being angry about the lot of black people in America before inevitably remembering his role as the validator of white rage, and then he had to walk it back. Haley here seems to be trying to demonstrate gender leadership, trying to tell women that social issues don’t matter as much as having firm economic management (from her point of view, anyway). But she can’t do it without jettisoning, well, almost all women. The idea that women don’t care at all about debates concerning their own bodies is a bizarre one. I’m guessing, for example, that quite a few of them are behind Todd Akin’s precipitous collapse in Missouri. The problems here–insulting the audience’s intelligence, feigning ignorance of the party’s platform (or actually being ignorant of it, which is worse for someone opining on the issue for the press), throwing around inflammatory terms with no basis while dismissing legitimate concerns–display an incredible lack of sensitivity to what women outside beet-red states think about these issues, and really more of a contempt for all that to boot. Which is to say that Haley is a politician for the 27%, and no one else. Only she doesn’t really realize it.
Either that, or she’s just Christine O’Donnell in an elaborate disguise. Which I’m not prepared to rule out at this point. I realize that “rising star” Republicans at this point just mean younger, not as white, and perhaps female Republicans with the exact same beliefs, rather than “demonstrating enormous promise as a potential political leader in the future,” i.e. the actual definition of the term. Republicans keep finding more of the former, but the latter remain to be seen. Haley barely held on to win an election in South Carolina, and if she’s the future of the GOP, then there’s no future.
There has been something of a debate about whether Republicans have of late been waging a War On Women, or whether this is just more partisan spin. It’s a question that needs a bit more of a systematic exploration than it has gotten. Obviously, this entire question got started with the contraception debate in Congress, in which nearly every Republican Senator–including the ones that self-identify as pro-choice–voted to constrict reproductive rights. I don’t think that every Republican that voted for the Blunt Amendment to tighten contraception access is a woman-hating asshole, I just don’t believe it. I do think that the less-awful members of the GOP caucus have gotten very good at talking themselves into following the party line over the past decade, and anyone who cares about women’s rights who votes for a Republican–even a Scott Brown or a Sue Collins–is nuts. And let’s not forget that, aside from contraception, though, there have been all manner of bills on the state level to make it harder to exercise reproductive rights, like the Virginia ultrasound bill, which other states have copied.
Still, though, this doesn’t quite clinch it for me. You could argue that this is a reflection of an aversion to freer sexuality that evangelicals, most notably, have long despised. I see it as similar to homosexuality for them: sure, there are people who come to it from a strong sense of gender roles and hierarchy, but a lot of these folks just can’t get past the “ick” factor. I do not think that being anti-choice is necessarily driven by a hatred of women, though it’s a lot harder to make that argument for proponents of birth control because the debate about when life begins doesn’t apply. But perhaps, while for practical purposes I think you can draw a one-to-one correlation between opposition to birth control and being anti-woman, perhaps theoretically there could be some exception to the rule. I wouldn’t be all too inclined to believe it, but perhaps it is not impossible. So to me, the precondition to declare this a war in an airtight manner is unequivocal evidence of an attempt not only to curtail reproductive freedoms, but proof of an organized attempt to destroy the power of women in society that goes beyond these issues. Something that is incontrovertibly not related to any sort of “ick” factor relating to sex.
Thankfully this bozo stepped up in the nick of time:
A Wisconsin law that made it easier for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court was repealed on Thursday, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill.
The 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act was meant to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges. Among other provisions, it allows individuals to plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.
A couple of things to keep in mind here.
First, this is so politically misguided I’m sort of amazed it happened. Walker is in a fight for his political life. TPM’s Polltracker has him a point behind Democratic frontrunner Tom Barrett in the upcoming recall election, and signing bills that are overwhelmingly unpopular is a curious way of heading toward the finish line. A pocket veto would perhaps have been the smart move here, but Walker is a true believer. This we know. And at least he knows enough to be afraid of it: “There were no public remarks, no media acknowledgement of the bill being signed, and no announcement about what had happened until the next day.” By appearing to hide it, he’s left a fresh scent of blood in the water, and I find it hard to believe it won’t dog him.
Second, this is just morally awful. I mean, sure, I could see businesses not being wild about being opened up to new forms of lawsuits, and I can understand the eternal need to cut costs in capitalism. But this problem is one of the most enduring and unfair discrepancies of our free-market system, an ongoing rebuke to the free-market evangelistas who insist that we just need to just get out of the way and let the market decide, and it will invariably decide fairly. Wage inequality by gender has been a continuous feature since women entered the workforce en masse in the 1940s, and whatever modest improvements in the situation have occurred since then have been due almost exclusively to labor organization and government intervention, as this handy website shows. The market, in this case, needed some prodding to make even modest moves in the right direction. This is like thunder in the ears of free-marketeers, but it’s positively a shrugworthy thing to me. It doesn’t disprove capitalism. It might have disproved a specific form of capitalism, only that form of capitalism has been discredited for ages (see: Wall Street Collapse, 2008), and is sustained more by faith than fact at this point. I love the symbolism of Scott Walker signing this bill in private, but my read on it is perhaps a bit different than the most obvious one: he probably thought it just wasn’t a big deal. Such laws are counterproductive since they impede the functioning of a free market, after all. And we won’t discover these amazing powers of the free market until we get rid of every regulation, apparently.
But most importantly, this is it. By signing this bill, Scott Walker has demonstrated quite clearly that the emperor has no clothes. Sure, you could say it’s some sort of market fundamentalism at work here, which is part of it, but the question remains: why this bill? Why now? If it was such an intolerable burden on employers, why not have repealed it in early 2011, when Walker took office? If it were that much of a burden, wouldn’t Walker want to let people know why he’s taking this stance, and that he’s standing up for them? It had already been in effect for two years by the time he took office, and stood another year without incident. It makes no sense to see this purely as free-market trickery. But it fits in perfectly with the narrative of the War on Women, as it (a) has nothing to do with sex, and (b) contributes to undermining the power of women in society. So thanks, Scott Walker! This case is closed.
Also, a propos, this guy is an idiot. I’m getting really sick of this liberal obsession with understanding and humanizing every single strain of every objectionable idea and ideology out there. There is one difference between the two parties on reproductive rights and equal pay–one party supports them and the other doesn’t. Period. Sure, maybe some Republicans say they support them, and do in fair weather, but they have proven abundantly they won’t stand up when they’re needed. Almost every Republican in the Senate voted against the Lily Leadbetter Act and every Democrat voted for it. That’s a fact. There is a war going on, and Cleaver is like one of the aristocrats from War and Peace, still attending lavish parties and exchanging innuendos when Napoleon was torching Moscow.
When Romney puts his mind to moral issues, he can be quite thoughtful. But he doesn’t like them. He avoids them as long as possible. Then he says as little as possible. He can frame his complex thoughts on abortion either way. Since he views the issue as a political threat, he navigates it by negation. He chooses the position least likely to derail his candidacy or his agenda. The two positions he has taken—individual choice and state choice—are attempts to make the issue go away. Throughout his career, Romney has treated abortion as a question of identity, not policy. His focus isn’t on promoting life, but on being seen as pro-life.
Romney believes in telling the truth and keeping his promises. But sometimes he wishes the truth or his promise had happened in a different way. He wishes he could change it. And in his mind, he does change it. He reinterprets his statements, positions, and pledges. He edits his motives and reasons. He compresses intervals. He inflates moments. He tightens the narrative. He rewrites his lines. Yet he always finds a thread of truth on which to hang his revised history. He’s a master of the technicality.
I love TNC as much as anyone, but this does not sit right with me:
My sense from the article is that Romney actually was pro-life, in his heart, but had no hope of winning with such a position in Massachusetts. So he lied, claimed to be pro-choice, and has now flipped back again.
That seems par for the course in presidential politics. I don’t see much difference between this and the president’s “evolving” position on gay marriage.
TNC could be right on Romney being pro-life deep down (I have no idea), and I think he is right that Obama’s opposition to gay marriage is entirely political and will undoubtedly vanish around February 2013, one way or another. But Obama’s actual substantive positions are not really that different from what, say, Andrew Cuomo would promise LGBT activists were he running this year. Obama wants to repeal DOMA, which is the whole ballgame on a federal level, and he can package that whichever way he wants to so long as he does his best to follow through. What Obama didn’t do was to promise Rick Warren and NOM that he’d be an exceptional advocate for their positions, adopt a top-to-bottom antigay agenda, et al. Which is the equivalent of what Romney did as Governor of Massachusetts, adopting the substance and the label, and even attempting to be a national leader on the issue.
I think it would be great if President Obama were to favor marriage equality openly. But he favors it de facto, which makes it a somewhat smaller deal for me. Romney didn’t favor a pro-life stance in any way until 2005 or so. Obama plays with the packaging but the substance is essentially unaffected, while Romney is willing to change what’s in the box at a whim. If there’s a good comparison to be made here, I’m missing it.
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