Democrats didn’t lose the midterms because women stopped caring about reproductive choice

26 Nov 2014 06:00 am
Posted by: Donna

From LifeSiteNews, which I read so you don’t have to, comes this bit of taunting about the recent midterm elections:

U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado was exhibit A. Curry said, as “a decent senator from a powder blue state,” Udall “shouldn’t have been in any trouble at all – and this consultant-think totally infected him.”

During his campaign Udall railed against Cory Gardner’s alleged desire to outlaw contraception and abortion so tirelessly that a reporter for the Denver Post dubbed him “Mark Uterus.” Already by September, Lynn Bartels wrote, “If Colorado’s U.S. Senate race were a movie, the set would be a gynecologist’s office, complete with an exam table and a set of stirrups.”

Curry said Udall’s political consultants recycled what they thought was a winning issue, because they are out-of-touch with anyone outside a corporate boardroom or the Beltway.

Proving, once again, how anti-choicers are really just mean little schoolyard bullies at their core. Seriously, it seems like fully half the articles at LifeSite are basically “neener neener we got one over on you dumb liberals!” But anti-choicers weren’t the only ones mocking Democrats for defending reproductive rights and making them a campaign issue last year. They were joined by the mainstream media, who were casting about for someone to take the blame for what were sure to be Democratic losses. It became conventional wisdom so strong that it led Bill Curry to conclude a mere one day after the election that women felt “manipulated” by Mark Udall and other Democrats.

What that conclusion either misses or deliberately ignores is how Republicans did that autopsy thingy after the 2012 election and then were carefully coached to avoid speaking about topics like abortion, contraception, and rape. If they were absolutely forced to answer to a stance they held, the strategy was clearly to lie in the most bald-faced manner possible about it, as Cory Gardner did repeatedly, denying that the personhood-at-conception measures he supported and even sponsored would, in fact, explicitly confer legal personhood upon fertilized eggs. Gardner cut ads claiming that he would never go after a woman’s right to choose and that he would support selling contraception over the counter, something he has no control over as a member of Congress as only the FDA has the authority to approve that. It appears that Gardner not only manipulated women, but he did so dishonestly.

Whether or not Cory Gardner’s dissembling over repro rights sowed enough benefit of the doubt in the female electorate of Colorado to help him prevail over Mark Udall, the fact is that Democrats did better with women voters in 2014 than in the last midterm.

An analysis of Tuesdays’ exit polls by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the family planning provider, shows that Democrats actually lost women by 1 point in 2010. But this year, 52 percent of women voted for Democrats, compared to 47 percent voting for Republicans. Women of color, specifically, showed strong support for Democrats this year, with 91 percent of black women and 67 percent of Latinas favoring Democrats.

Men, meanwhile, preferred Republicans by the same 14-point margin in 2010 and 2014, suggesting that Democrats have managed to improve their performance among women from the last midterm election without losing any ground among men.

The election proved “that even in a Republican wave election, women will favor the candidates who better support their health care priorities,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of PPAF.

Further proof that reproductive rights groups appear to be winning the overall debate, NARAL Pro-Choice America pointed out in a memo last week, is that many of the Republican candidates who won on Tuesday only did so after moderating their positions on abortion and birth control. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), for instance, who has previously indicated his opposition to all legal abortion without exceptions, spoke directly into the camera and told Wisconsin women that an anti-abortion bill he signed “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

Obviously Democrats need to improve performance in midterms but anyone who tells you Democrats should downplay support for reproductive rights doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Republicans wouldn’t devote so much energy to avoiding and lying about their positions in general elections if that were true. Sadly, there are elements of the Dem elite that want the narrative to be that reproductive rights hurt Democrats in 2014 because it takes the spotlight off their own failures. Remember these are the same well-heeled chuckleheads who told Democrats to be very, very afraid of the NRA.

Remember that time a bunch of mostly white people rioted near Penn State?

26 Nov 2014 05:00 am
Posted by: Donna

Nick Baumann did and he tweeted this as the protest and unrest after the announcement that the grand jury would not indict Ferguson police officer for shooting and killing Michael Brown unfolded.

Some people responded to Baumann’s tweet, and a tweet of mine reminding people of the Penn State riot,

by insisting that it was different because there was much less destruction at Penn State than in Ferguson. It’s entirely possible that one reason for that was that the cops in State College, PA didn’t turn the pepper spray on the pro-Paterno rioters right away, as they are reported to have done with the teargas in Ferguson. That aside, apart from one guy telling me that Paterno didn’t turn a blind eye to child rape (because I guess he really needed to parse that), no one trying to distinguish the Penn State rioting from Ferguson actually tried to defend the Penn Staters taking to the streets on behalf of the child rapist-protecting football coach.

And I’m not sure if the lack of a defense was because they saw how petty and egregious the motivations of Penn State rioters were, or because they truly could not grasp that.

Some students noted the irony of their coming out to oppose what they saw as a disgraceful end to Mr. Paterno’s distinguished career and then adding to the ignobility of the episode by starting an unruly protest.

Greg Becker, 19, a freshman studying computer science, said he felt as if he had to vent his feelings anyway.

“This definitely looks bad for our school,” he said, sprinting away from a cloud of pepper spray. “I’m sure JoePa wouldn’t want this, but this is just an uproar now. We’re finding a way to express our anger.”

As the crowd got more aggressive, so did police officers. Some protesters fought back. One man in a gas mask rushed half a dozen police officers in protective gear, blasted one officer with pepper spray underneath his safety mask, and then sprinted away. The officer lay on the ground, rubbing his eyes

Other students expressed sadness instead of anger. Kathryn Simpson walked arm-in-arm with a friend, crying.

“I’m here because I just need to be with the rest of my school right now,” she said. “This is devastating for us.”

When the unrest began, a merchant, Douglas Albert, stood outside his downtown shop, Douglas Albert Gallery, to keep it safe.

“I’ve been in State College for 42 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said, looking at the overturned news van, on which one young man was dancing. “This is uncharted waters.”

Students pounded on the sides of upright news vans, and as officers herded them down the street they shouted, “Flip it over!” Some took off their shirts and tied them around their mouths for protection from the fog of pepper spray, which left countless students hacking. A few wore ski goggles. Many climbed on the tops of parked cars, denting and sinking the roofs, to get a better view of the spectacle.

That was (mostly) white people raging over a college football program and a child rapist-protecting coach being fired. Oh, the humanity! The Ferguson protests are about black people having their lives ended. By the way, the folks in Ferguson are getting it a whole bunch worse from the cops than the crybabies at Penn State ever did.

Couple of odds and end post-President Obama’s executive order announcement

21 Nov 2014 03:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

Here’s the very first bill filed in the Georgia Senate for their upcoming session.

First Reader Summary
PF: A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapters 5, 11, and 16 of Title 40 of the O.C.G.A., relating to drivers’ licenses, abandoned motor vehicles, and the Department of Driver Services, respectively, so as to provide that persons who possess a lawful alien status are the only category of noncitizens who may obtain a license, permit, or card; to require the Department of Driver Services to participate in the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify initiative of the United States Department of Homeland Security; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes…

(11) ‘Lawful alien status’ means an alien status provided for by the federal Immigration
and Nationality Act or any other provision by the United States Congress; provided,
however, that lawful alien status shall not include a grant of any deferred deportation
action from the United States Department of Homeland Security

What babies.

And per Reuters, here’s an example of why a family-based immigration policy – and government policies in general – ought to have a more expansive definition of “family”:

(Reuters) – Most Friday nights, in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Ramon Madera invites his sister Angelica and her three children over to his home for dinner and games. It’s a tradition that became all the more important after the children’s father was deported back to Mexico about five years ago.

Lately, conversations on game night have taken an anxious turn: Madera himself was apprehended by immigration enforcement agents in September and is due in court for a deportation hearing next June.

Madera, 36, said that while he may be a father figure to Angelica’s children, as a gay man who has no children of his own he is unlikely to benefit from the executive action President Barack Obama is expected to announce on Thursday night. His deportation hearing will probably go ahead as scheduled.

“I’m like the dad of the family,” said Madera. “If they need money, they ask me. If they aren’t sure if they should do something, they call me. For every thing, every opinion, they come to me.”

Obama, seeking to give legal status to some of the more than 11 million immigrants without documents in the United States, is likely to focus on keeping nuclear families together by granting temporary relief from deportation to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that around 6.5 million people are like Madera, undocumented immigrant adults living in the United States without children.

Angelica’s daughter and two sons are U.S. citizens, so she will likely be granted relief. But she worries about how she will provide for her family if her brother is deported.

I understand why the administration shaped the policy around traditional nuclear families because, as the Reuters piece points out, that’s an easier sell. But it is clear that a full reform package is needed so that millions of people like Ramon Madera aren’t also torn from families who need them. Too bad a bunch of crybabies like the state legislators in Georgia also got elected to take over the US Senate. Not much room for empathy for a gay undocumented immigrant in that crowd.

To no one’s surprise, Gov-elect Ducey’s Budget Study Committee is a bunch of rich white people

17 Nov 2014 05:54 pm
Posted by: Donna

Arizona’s soon-to-be Governor, Doug Ducey, has assembled a team to advise him on the budget.

PHOENIX (November 17) – Governor-elect Doug Ducey announced today the formation of a Budget Study Committee, led by a team of public and private sector professionals charged with studying the budget and providing expertise and feedback to the governor-elect.

Throughout his campaign for governor, Ducey made clear he intended to go through the budget line by line in order to ensure Arizona lives within its means and invests in priorities for the state with a focus on economic growth and education.

“Before we can address the challenges facing our state, we need to do our homework,” Ducey said. “This team of professionals will provide a diverse set of perspectives on our state finances. It’s important to me to hear from those who have dealt intimately with the state budget, in addition to receiving an outside perspective from the private sector, so we can adopt mechanisms to be more effective, accountable and efficient with our resources. I look forward to working with them to get our arms wrapped around the budget and examine the best ways to balance it while also growing our economy and ensuring there is money in classrooms to help teachers teach and students learn.”

Behold them:

John Arnold, AZ Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting

Jennifer Stielow, the Vice President of the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA)

Michael Hunter, Governor Janice Brewer’s Director of Policy and Special Adviser on Tax Policy & Reform

Tom Manos, Maricopa County Manager

D. J. Cole, chief executive officer for Capital Consultants Management Corporation and former CFO of Cold Stone Creamery

Alan Maguire, President and Principal Economist of The Maguire Company

Norman Stout, consultant with True North Venture Partners

Note the broad diversity in, um, hairstyles among this crew that appears to be an assemblage of right-leaning bureaucrats, business finance types, and the vice president of a quackadoodle “taxpayer rights” group. Notably absent are any representatives from public education, health care, poverty advocacy, or child welfare organizations. Not that it comes as a shock or anything, but it’s kind of looking obvious the backs from whom those “line by line” cuts to the budget that Ducey keeps promising are going to be taken. It will not be from anyone who wrote big campaign checks to Doug Ducey, I can promise that.

I’d like to think Doug MacEachern is just trolling me with this.

14 Nov 2014 01:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

Doug MacEacern, who inexplicably maintains employment as an Arizona Republic editor, has weighed in on the recent report that the Arizona NARAL Executive Director was contacted by the Arizona Department of Health Services on a tip that she was providing health care services (read: ABORTIONS!) in her home:

You can guess how any homeowner who just lives in her home would react to that. She’d be outraged. And she’d be right to be outraged. Sabine herself said it was “bullying” to have been sent such a letter.

She went to the ACLU, whose lawyers sent a 5-page letter to ADHS, demanding they stop bullying Sabine. The director of the local chapter of the ACLU said the agency’s letter to Sabine constituted borderline harassment.

And, assuming all she did was live in her home, some outrage may have been in order.

But despite Sabine’s whining protests to the media – the “bullying,” the borderline harassment caused by the horror of having received a government letter in the mail — her home isn’t just her home. Or, at least, wasn’t. And the evidence that it’s not comes from none other than Sabine herself.

On the Attestation Letter she returned to ADHS, Sabine wrote: “The facility is a community education, advocacy, or recovery support group that is not owned or operated by or contracted to provide services with a healthcare institution.”

Not just a “home,” as Sabine repeatedly claimed. But a “facility.” It would have been bullying to get Sheriff Arpaio to land a SWAT team on Sabine’s roof. But does it really seem so out of line for a government agency to want to know what kind of “facility” she’s running?

MacEachern’s “factual” assertion rests on Sabine having conducted some NARAL work, which consists no providing of health care whatsoever, out of her home in the past. NARAL AZ now has an office whose address is, understandably, not made public. The reason Sabine described NARAL AZ (not her home) as any type of “facility” is because that was the only choice available to her in the form she was given. Sabine says that NARAL AZ was not even given the option to indicate that the organization engages strictly in education and advocacy work, which would exempt it from any health care provider licensing or inspection requirements.

ADHS quickly closed out the complaint upon learning that Sabine’s home is just a home and that NARAL AZ is not some rogue health care (read: ABORTION!) provider in any way, shape, or form. Certainly, the Google Maps search that Sabine told reporters ADHS ought to have done (that would have indicated that it was a home that was the target of the complaint) should have clued the agency in to the possibility (nay, probability) that the complaint was spurious. It should have led to further searches by ADHS into NARAL AZ tax and corporate filings, which would have explained both the location and mission of the organization, rendering any further investigation pointless. But no, they had to go forth with a demand letter (because ABORTION!).

That aside, MacEachern’s main argument is that Sabine and other publicly pro-choice women (and you know it will mostly be women targeted with this crap) should expect a certain amount of harassment for it. Again:

Not just a “home,” as Sabine repeatedly claimed. But a “facility.” It would have been bullying to get Sheriff Arpaio to land a SWAT team on Sabine’s roof. But does it really seem so out of line for a government agency to want to know what kind of “facility” she’s running?

Apparently, Kat Sabine was just supposed to respond to that ridiculous summons meekly and quietly and then to whatever else anti-abortion zealots throw her way and not make a sound about it in public until a SWAT team has landed on her house. What MacEachern is doing here is similar to when people say that women and gays in the West don’t get to complain about the discrimination they experience because they’d face beheading in Saudi Arabia. My response to that is always that if we wait until people are being beheaded to stop bigotry and bullying here it will be too late. As a formal logical fallacy, it is known as the Fallacy of Relative Privation and it is often wielded by powerful people against less powerful people to silence them. In the case of anti-choice laws, the path to women being harassed and even prosecuted for simply advocating for reproductive rights and merely for living as a woman of reproductive age is both historically and currently proven.

Just in case you weren’t sure of his meaning, MacEachern reiterates his belief that publicly pro-choice women deserve harassment:

Abortion politics being what they are, the pro-life crowd no doubt is going to continue suspecting something fishy was going on at Sabine’s house. The pro-abortion-rights people, meanwhile, will remain outraged that Sabine had to endure the emotional trauma of getting a certified demand letter from the government.

In the real world, however, it is impossible to miss the absurdity of Sabine’s “bullying” claim.

No, the real world easily understands that a recently passed law allowing for surprise inspections of abortion clinics would embolden some anti-choice crank to look up where the director of NARAL AZ lives and then send some bullshit complaint to the ADHS, fully expecting that the department would act on it. Anti-choicers defend their policies with syrupy platitudes about “life” and “protecting women” but hatred and bullying is at the root of all of them, as what happened to Kat Sabine so amply demonstrates. It shouldn’t take women being frogmarched to jail right in front of you to realize that.

If ACA subsidies are gutted by Supreme Court, what will Ducey do?

11 Nov 2014 10:44 pm
Posted by: Donna

While many legal experts express confidence that the upcoming King v Burwell Supreme Court decision will be in favor of the Affordable Care Act, the Court did cause alarm by agreeing to hear it in the first place. Here is what is at stake:

At the heart of the King case are the tax subsidies offered by the federal government to those who cannot afford their own insurance. These subsidies are critical to achieving Obamacare’s goal of insuring even the least well off. At present, those eligible for subsidies can get them whether they purchase on the federal exchange or a state one. That could change on account of a glitch in the ACA, which can be read to say that you can only get a subsidy if you signed up on a state-managed exchange. If the Supreme Court signs off on this interpretation, the federal government cannot subsidize insurance for the less well-off in any state that has declined to set up its own exchange.

In King v. Burwell, a unanimous decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit sided with the Obama administration, rejecting the challengers’ argument that the provision of the ACA that authorizes tax credits for insurance purchased on an exchange “established by the State under section 1311” doesn’t authorize tax credits for insurance purchased on an exchange established by the federal government. Supporters of the ACA call this a mere “drafting error.” Opponents claim this is a clear case of statutory interpretation: The law says “state” exchanges, and that is what was intended. If this interpretation prevails, more than four million people lose those subsidies.

It will be decided next June and, should a majority of Justices find for the plaintiff, Arizonans currently receiving subsidies to help them pay their insurance premiums on the Federal exchange will lose that, since our state opted out of creating our own exchange.

Governor-elect Ducey has described the ACA as a “monumental failure” and has characterized the Medicaid expansion portion of it extending coverage to adults at 138% of the federal poverty level as a “massive new entitlement” that is “now being expanded as a middle class entitlement”. Since 138% FPL is considered middle class(!) by Doug Ducey, my guess is that people earning between 138 and 400% FPL – the group eligible for subsidies on the exchange – are wealthy to him.

A key theme of Ducey’s primary and general election campaigns was resisting “federal overreach” and in a pledge to Arizona voters, he vowed, if elected Governor, to “support all efforts by our congressional delegation to repeal and replace Obamacare”, while pursuing “every available means to negotiate a Medicaid waiver for Arizona, allowing us to take care of people who genuinely need help without turning it into a vast and unaffordable new entitlement”.

Again, if “genuinely need help” is defined by Doug Ducey as having an income significantly south of 138% federal poverty level, which is around $15K for an individual and $32K annual income for a family of four, it does not bode well for him agreeing to the creation of a state health insurance exchange providing subsidies to people luxuriating with slightly higher incomes than that. This is not even taking into consideration the inclinations of the Legislature, which remains in GOP hands.

It’s possible that business and health care provider interests will again prevail upon the new Governor and some GOP legislators to do the exchange so that thousands of Arizonans will not drop off the rolls of the insured. But I’m not holding my breath that Doug Ducey, who is far more of a right wing ideologue than Jan Brewer was and is openly hostile to the ACA, would go along with that.

So hope for the best in the Supreme Court decision and be reminded, once again, that elections have consequences.

Not treating Cathi Herrod with the utmost politeness is exactly the same as taking rights away from people, according to Channel 12 anchor Cooney

09 Nov 2014 02:42 pm
Posted by: Donna

Last Thursday, just two days after a midterm Republican sweep that left many liberals, including LGBT activists, in Arizona feeling devastated and worried the future of their newly won marriage rights, Channel 12 Phoenix aired a softball interview between anchor Lin Sue Cooney and the woman considered the mastermind of all of the anti-gay legislation in our state, Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod.

(Link for video, since embedded ones from Channel 12 open automatically.)

I’m not sure why there was this great need to “humanize” Herrod at this time. Her humanity was never in doubt. She’s a white, straight person of wealth and privilege. Furthermore, framing the interview as one with “one of the most outspoken Christians in Arizona” is a none-too-subtle way of implying that there is one true faith, and even one true kind of Christianity, in our state.

It’s mildly interesting that Herrod’s parents got divorced when she was a small child and that it affected her but Herrod’s childhood problems are not a basis upon which to give her, as a powerful religious lobbyist, a mostly uncritical platform to spew her dogma. My parents divorced when I was four but I didn’t go off on a spree of trying to shut down gay people’s and women’s rights as an adult because of it so why don’t I get an interview?

Herrod and Cooney closed out the interview with pearl-clutching over some tweets directed at Herrod by people angry over her constant attempts to deny them of basic human rights. Lin Sue Cooney signed off the segment by telling opponents of Cathi Herrod to “look at whether they’re guilty of hate, themselves”.


I have some helpful reading/viewing suggestions for Ms. Cooney, starting with:

The 13 Times the Reagan White House Erupted with Laughter over AIDS.

How to Survive a Plague People acting in very uncivil ways over a disease that was killing many of them, with no help from the same government that would bend over backwards to help Cathi Herrod with any problem she had, including the imaginary ones.

And The Band Played On. The seminal work of Randy Shilts on AIDS, who died of the disease in 1994.

Some people in this country know what it is like to be so hated that their government and fellow citizens would allow them to die. I was a teenager when the AIDS epidemic hit and I remember most of the adults around me treating it as either a joke or as just desserts for a “sinful” lifestyle. I don’t know what Herrod’s feelings were on AIDS back in the ’80s and ’90s but I did learn that a few years ago she wasn’t too keen on girls getting the HPV vaccine that would spare them from cervical cancer as adults.

The vaccine has become a hot-button issue across the U.S. with social conservatives rallying against requiring it because they say it sends the wrong message to young people about sex.

“This is not a disease that schoolchildren catch sitting at a desk,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which backed the prohibition.

Can’t you just feel the warm Christian love in that statement? Since Herrod thinks death is an appropriate punishment for slutty straight women, I’d say It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that she feels the same about the sodomites. But do go on about those “hateful” tweets, Lin Sue Cooney. This is yet more of the tiresome civility politics that treats every dispute as if it’s a disagreement in taste rather than a battle between powerful people and less powerful ones over the latter’s human rights and very lives.