Posted by: Donna
Taped Sunday Square Off this morning. I was on the panel with David Leibowitz and Chip Scutari and the topics were Tom Horne’s legal troubles, Jeff Flake’s unpopularity, and the proposed Glendale casino (they always throw in one thing I’ve paid absolutely no attention to so thank you, Google, for helping me have something to say about it). I’ll put a link up when it’s available (update: link here) but one highlight includes Leibowitz and I sort of getting into it about Gabby Giffords. Dave did the “some people are saying” thing about her, repeating the right wing claim that Giffords is perhaps pandering and being self-promoting with her gun safety activism. Needless to say, I got a bit testy about that. People can disagree with Giffords’ and her husband Mark Kelly’s policy proposals but there’s simply no basis on which to impugn their motives. I have a hard time imagining either deciding that a gunshot wound to the head is a tremendous pandering opportunity. It’s really far more likely that their commitment to the issue is genuine.
There was also little bit about the immigration reform package before Congress in the panel discussion, with Leibowitz predicting the deal would fall apart. Speaking of which, you may have followed the news of a recent Heritage Foundation study on the potential cost of immigration that was OMG so f*&king racist! Turns out one of the people who worked on the study, the appropriately named Jason Richwine, did his Harvard dissertation on the intellectual inferiority of non-white people.
“[n]o one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against. From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.”
Really, Harvard? Heritage tried to front like Richwine didn’t work for them but the guy was a senior policy analyst (until he resigned from the Foundation today). And the Heritage Foundation has long history of racism:
Scandalous links between the racist far right and allegedly respectable conservative institutions date back to Heritage’s earliest days in the 1970s, when the editorial board of Policy Review, its monthly publication, featured the notorious racial theorist Roger Pearson. Shortly after the Post reported Pearson’s role at Heritage, the think tank dumped him. But in the decades that followed, Heritage still lionized racially divisive politicians like Jesse Helms, the late Republican senator from North Carolina, awarding him its “highest honor” in 2002 and depicting him as an “indispensable patriot” when he died in 2008.
You know what else those mensches over at the Heritage Foundation do? They rank members of Congress according to how they vote on the Foundation’s preferred conservative policies. You can see how the AZ delegation fares here. (Spoiler alert: Republicans are much more Heritage Foundation-friendly than the Democrats.)
Posted by: Donna
Today is Special Election Day in South Carolina, where Republican Mark Sanford faces off against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to fill a vacant Congressional seat. Sanford, of course, is the former Governor who, while he was a Governor, famously hiked the Appalachian Trail in South America with his mistress without telling anyone where he had gone. We thought we’d seen the end of him but he reemerged and won the GOP Congressional primary a few weeks ago. We thought we’d seen the end of him again when Colbert-Busch (who is Stephen Colbert’s sister) was ahead in the polls by 9 points a week ago. But nope, Sanford keeps coming back like a bad fungus. The race is now tied.
Joan Walsh is stunned that someone who seems so creepy and erratic is being met with so much understanding by voters in his district:
I have no problem with voters forgiving Sanford for adultery – they forgave President Clinton and a lot of other politicians, in both parties. We go to the polls to elect our leaders, not to choose our husbands or wives. Still, I find it hard to believe voters would look away from so much erratic behavior, towards his political responsibilities and especially towards women. Adultery, going awol from your job and violating court orders to trespass on your ex-wife aside: Just in the last two days, Sanford has pulled two bizarre stunts involving women. He seems a little bit crazy.
First, he manically dragged a group of reporters into a series of shops “to try to find a woman who doesn’t like me” after a female reporter asked whether he might have problems with women voters. Then on Monday BuzzFeed’s Kate Nocera was supposed to drive Sanford to his next campaign event to get some personal time with the candidate, but he commandeered the keys to her rental car and insisted on driving himself. He later told her he was afraid that the female staffer who regularly drove him was going to kill him, she was such a terrible driver. (I’d note that when Yahoo’s Chris Moody got his drive-along time with Sanford, Sanford actually let him drive.)
BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczyinski had the fun task of finding the ickiest passages from Jenny Sanford’s book, and they were many: When they were still dating, Mark left Jenny a car at the airport when she came home to meet his family, and went off to a party without her. Before they got married, he suggested they delete the traditional wedding vow promising to be faithful, because he wasn’t sure he could keep it. When they were expecting a child, he ditched Lamaze. Bad fiancee, terrible husband, crummy father-to-be. Do South Carolina voters really not care?
Joan is right that voters forgive (male) indiscretions in politicians of both parties but Democrats have not fared nearly as well career-wise when they mess up. This is something I point out to conservative who have been throwing names of misbehaving Democrats at me in an attempt to distract from Sanford’s history of philandering and creepiness. Let’s see: Bill Clinton has inarguably done the best. He is on top of the world today. But don’t forget that he was impeached for his conduct with Monica Lewinsky back in the day and the whole country was dragged through that ordeal. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned when he was caught hiring sex workers. John Edwards is ruined. Anthony Weiner was driven out of office by fellow Democrats in Congress, against the wishes of the voters in his own New York district. Prominent Republican politicians, on the other hand, merely have to make a half-assed demonstration of repentance of some sort and they are right back in positions of political power and prestige as if nothing happened. IOKIYAR.
As I’ve said here before, it’s important to understand that the conservatism has little to do with enforcing universal standards of morality, no matter how much they claim it is. Rather, the point is to maintain a rigid hierarchy where rewards and punishments are distributed unequally according to your socio-economic status. Guys like Newt Gingrich and Mark Sanford see themselves at the top of the pyramid. That’s why you don’t see conservative Republicans pushing for laws punishing adultery or banning divorce very much (there are some occasional efforts) while you do see them constantly pushing laws that punish the poor, minorities, women, LGBT, and otherwise marginalized folks for their “sins”. And we may see this evening that there’s not even a penalty for being a straight-up creep in a Republican district if one is a white, conservative, Christian man.
Posted by: Donna
Right wing pundits have been furiously peddling the myth that “no one was covering Kermit Gosnell!”. Irin Carmon of Salon explains how this is nonsense but I do feel compelled to produce a post about it from my little corner of the Vast Liberal Media. In case you’re not familiar with the case, Kermit Gosnell is a Philadelphia doctor (to use the term loosely) who ran a filthy and unsafe clinic where he performed many illegal abortions and caused the death of some of his patients. He’s a monster and he’s where he should be right now, on trial for murder.
Anti-choice activists are frantically working to draw attention away from how Gosnell’s clinic is the standard of care many women would face under an abortion ban. (It should be noted that despite abortion being legal, the women who went to Gosnell were poor and minority and and probably had no practical ability to access earlier, safer abortions due to lack of funds and barriers put in place by abortion opponents.) So the antis are conflating his terrible practices with all abortion providers everywhere in the hopes that you’ll forget that the line from abortion bans to dangerous illegal abortions is a direct one.
I first became aware of of how anti-choicers blur that line back in the late 90s when I was visiting my sister, who worked for a major cable news network, in DC. We were ambling around Georgetown and she brought up a human interest story her department was working on, about girls giving birth secretly in bathrooms and abandoning or possibly killing the infants. My sister asked what I thought of the theory that conservatives they interviewed had – that these crimes happened because legalized abortion somehow cheapened human life. I replied that since bans on abortion would likely lead to more babies in trashcans, not fewer, conservatives had no business claiming any kind of high ground on those tragedies. I was rather gobsmacked that people would were even trying to tie safe, legal abortion to infanticide and that people in the news industry were giving that kind of lunacy any serious consideration.
They’re applying the same bizarro logic to Gosnell, only the antis aren’t stopping at blaming legal abortion for one doctor’s depravity. Life Site News, which I read daily so you don’t have to, is really pushing the theme that contraception is the express train to Gosnell horror clinics.
Bishop Conley says it’s wrong to think contraception can reduce the number of abortions, and, in fact, a “culture of contraception cannot avoid becoming a ‘culture of death’ – in which some lives are seen not as gifts, but as burdens.”
“Research shows that contraception leads to riskier behavior, more unplanned pregnancies, and consequently, more abortion,” he writes. “When contraception fails – as it inevitably does – couples are tempted to eliminate the ‘unwanted’ life.”
“Kermit Gosnell looked at these ‘unwanted’ lives, and saw burdens placed upon women. He was more ruthless than most, in his efforts to eliminate these living ‘burdens,’” the bishop continues. “Most people do not share Gosnell’s ruthlessness. But many in our society seem to share his attitude: that human life is sometimes an inconvenient and unnecessary burden, rather than a sacred gift from God.”
Yep, these are the folks behind the laws allowing your boss not to cover birth control in health insurance plans. I think it’s a safe bet to assume they’re just getting warmed up with that.
Posted by: Donna
The FDA has issued new rules on over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception. It will now be on store shelves and available to anyone age 15 or over. Previously, it had been kept behind the pharmacy counter and you had to be at least 17 to purchase it.
This ruling comes as a disappointment to many reproductive justice advocates who celebrated last month’s ruling. In April, Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to change regulations on the morning after pill, making it available over-the-counter without age restrictions. Prior to Korman’s ruling it was available to those 17 and older without a prescription.
This looks like an attempt at a compromise in advance of the court ordered deadline to remove all age limits, which the Obama administration has announced it will appeal. Sigh. I don’t know what the admin is thinking here. They’re not impressing social conservatives, who don’t want emergency contraception to be available at all, with this move. And if the goal was to assuage the general public’s anxiety over teenage female sexuality by keeping some type of age limit, I predict it will fail on that front too. I rather doubt that breathless reports that “Emergency contraception can be sold over the counter to girls as young as fifteen!” sound any better than “Emergency contraception can be sold over the counter with no age restrictions!” to people fretting over teenage girls being sexually active. In attempting to quell the controversy, the administration is needlessly dragging out the debate and there’s no political upside, or public policy benefit, in doing that. They should just follow the judge’s order and move on. There will be no difference in the hysterical right wing reaction – screeching that Plan B is an “abortion pill” (not true) and spewing rubbish about morality – in either case. Again, right wingers don’t want emergency contraception to be available to any female of any age so it’s pointless to dither around with age limits in an attempt to placate them.
While the conservative caterwauling has been wholly predictable, the response from normal people, including some liberals, has been frustrating. I do get that it’s a visceral thing for people – it’s completely understandable. But that is precisely why there should be no age limits on buying Plan B, as counterintuitive as that could seem at first. Think about it: If the notion of a 14 year old girl getting emergency contraception at the pharmacy without her parents’ knowledge makes you squeamish imagine how she might be feeling about her situation. The average girl by the time she hits puberty has absorbed a bazillion toxic messages about her sexuality from everywhere around her. Schools can be hotbeds of slut-shaming and lots of families are not exactly supportive of their teen daughters. Do you really think the law can force a girl unknown to you to have the kind of open conversations you imagine having with your daughter when that girl may be going through god knows what in her life? I want that scared girl to be able to get the Plan B and prevent the pregnancy. This is a public health and safety issue, not a matter of morality or parental authority.
(And no, this isn’t comparable to getting a tattoo or drinking or other age-limited activities so please stop drawing those false comparisons. A tattoo or beer won’t get you pregnant.)
Posted by: Donna
The AZ Democratic Party is sending out an email crowing about Sen. Jeff Flake’s rock bottom approval ratings after his shameful and two-faced vote to obstruct the Manchin-Toomey gun background checks bill.
Senator Jeff Flake is the poster boy for a “Lemon Law” in American Politics! In just four short months, the venerable Mr. Flake has done what many thought impossible and is now the most unpopular Senator in America. According to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling, only 32% of the respondents approved of Flake’s job performance! It appears voters are experiencing a serious case of buyer’s remorse when it comes to Flake.
Flake is cracking jokes on Facebook about being less popular than pond scum today. You said it, Jeff, not us. However, the inimitable Charlie Pierce of Esquire came along to throw harsh on our mellows.
It pains me to say it, but the air is out of this issue as a stand-alone issue right now. The only way it can gather power is as an important element in a general critique of Republican governance and of conservative policies as being generally bad for the nation. The votes on gun laws have to be made an example of something greater, and not just a single egregious flouting of the people’s will. (Which is not to say that Harry Reid shouldn’t still have Heidi Heitkamp’s desk moved to the sidewalk. He should.)…
…This vote has to be made into another reason not to vote for these guys — and for the Democrats who made common cause with them — and that’s a longer, harder sell. Nobody in Arizona is going to lose an election simply because they’re not pro-gun-control enough. Not any time soon, anyway.
I don’t quite agree that gun safety is dead as an issue, since (sigh) the carnage caused by this nation’s gun fetish will continue. And I certainly expect the many enraged, and engaged, activists to continue the fight for sensible gun safety measures. But I think Charlie is right that an unpopular anti-gun safety vote isn’t going to be the one thing that uproots Republican Senate incumbents from their respective seats across the nation. Particularly not Jeff Flake, who is barely four months into his six year term. He’s not going anywhere for a while. I do hope that his cavalier duplicity on Manchin-Toomey jarred at least some Arizona liberals (yes, I’m still hearing how shocked they are at Flake’s behavior as a Senator) and establishment types out of their complacency about him. He is, was, and has always been a right wing reactionary.
Had he been understood as such, I don’t see how he would have won last year. But he did. Oh, here’s why:
I crunched the numbers (and you can too) and saw that Jeff Flake won because he got nearly a third of his votes from self-described moderate voters (and, yes, a small percentage of liberals). I expect Flake will vote for immigration reform in an attempt to redeem himself with that voting bloc. Which might work since, apparently, moderates and independents who continue to vote Republican despite the lunacy and the obstruction will seize upon those rare nice gestures to remain in their state of denial.
Posted by: Donna
(Sorry for the lack of posts all last week. Just needed a break.)
I came across this interesting press release from the North Carolina Democratic Party about their current Republican Governor Pat McCrory.
McCrory: Moderate No More
RALEIGH, NC—NYT Poll Analyst and data guru, Nate Silver, is out with some damning figures that erase the façade of Pat McCrory as a moderate Governor of North Carolina. Silver’s data blows McCrory’s cover as a moderate and shows him to be to the right of Tea Party darlings such as Govs. Rick Perry, Jan Brewer, Rick Scott and Nikki Haley.
Then-candidate McCrory in 2012 was billed as a “moderate” mayor of Charlotte by many in the media, a claim he didn’t reject. In his State of the State address, Gov. McCrory deemed himself as an “Eisenhower Republican.”
The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) has held McCrory accountable for signing into law far-right measures, such as gutting unemployment insurance, rejecting Medicaid expansion and raising taxes on North Carolina’s working families by letting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expire.
“This is what we’ve contended all along and now there’s data to back it up: Gov. McCrory is at the front of the far-right, extreme proposals coming out of Raleigh,” NCDP spokesman Micah Beasley remarked, “The Governor wants to have it both ways, he wants to present a moderate façade to North Carolinians while signing into law every radical proposal coming out of the General Assembly. North Carolinians need a Governor who will rein in this legislature that continues to embarrass our state nationally and address our state’s stagnant unemployment rate.”
The exchange with WCNC’s Dave Wagner, where McCrory welcomed the comparison of being a “moderate Mayor”:
“I’m going to play something for you here that was said by Walter Dalton, if you talk to many people here in Charlotte, they’ll tell you that Pat McCrory, they believe was a moderate mayor…But your Democratic opponent Walter Dalton is trying to portray you as a changed man, take a listen.”
I’m not sure that the Pat McCrory we see today is the same Pat McCrory that the people of Charlotte are familiar with. I think that if you look at some of his policies gnaw at what he has embraced through the North Carolina General Assembly, he pretty much was asked one time, is it, have they done anything you don’t like? He said he did not like the midnight session, but didn’t articulate any other reasons.
Have you changed your political position at all?
WCNC- FlashPOINT – May 13, 2012
Are you getting the same drift of familiarity that I am? Mesa, Arizona’s “moderate” Republican mayor is being touted as a strong candidate for Governor and (sigh) I’m even hearing from some of my fellow liberals (when will they learn?) that Scott Smith seems like a decent fellow. I’m sure Smith would welcome being described as an Eisenhower Republican and his people are clearly pushing that image, as evidenced by the favorable comments to this AZ Republic profile of him last September:
Mayor Smith runs things based on what is good for Mesa as a whole and not for himself or one individual group. That is what I respect most about him.
I wouldn’t paint Smith with the broad Republican brush. He really has been impressive these past few years.
Mayor Smith is a centrist with a view for the future of Mesa. He is not a tea party kook. Stop buying into the party system and instead judge politicians by their actions, not the letter beside their name. Arizona needs more republicans like Mayor Smith.
I’ll take people at their word when they say Smith a competent mayor with an easygoing personality. But running a city in Arizona is a different endeavor than running the state in a lot of crucial ways, not the least of which is the very right wing state legislature we have, similar to North Carolina’s. Even if Smith is truly a moderate, he would have to rubber stamp a lot of their right wing bills in order to work with them. But he’s very likely not a moderate at all, since he proudly claims to be both “pro-life” – which is about the biggest signifier of wingnuttery there is. I get a real strong (you guessed it) Jeff Flake vibe off the guy, frankly. (Speaking of which, guess who is the most right wing GOP Senator, according to Nate Silver’s analysis?)
Smith is not the odds-on favorite for winning the primary, despite all the swooning of establishment pundits over him. But it’s a big GOP field so who knows how the votes could split. I will predict that whoever emerges will run on jobs jobs jobs and downplay their right wing cultural stances. That’s usually all they have to do to snooker enough moderate – AKA “I vote for the person, not the party” – voters. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get those voters to understand that when you vote GOP you get that crazy party and its agenda, whether you want it or not.
Posted by: Donna
Count EJ Montini as disappointed at Senator Jeff Flake’s votes against background checks and tighter restrictions on straw purchasers of firearms yesterday.
Victims lost. Lobbyists won. And one of our senators helped.
Sen. Jeff Flake has proven himself to be a skilled teacher in the art of compromise when it comes to immigration reform.
It’s a shame he is such a poor student in that same art form when it came to background checks on weapon sales, which Flake helped to defeat in the senate on Wednesday.
There is nothing mysterious or confusing about what happened there. Flake voted against gun safety because that’s what he does. Flake’s hard right voting record and positions on a variety of issues he has taken as a member of the House were readily available to anyone, including the editorial board of the AZ Republic. Who said this about him in their endorsement for Senate:
Flake, on the other hand, is philosophically committed to smaller and more efficient government. On fiscal matters, everyone knows where he stands.
But there is something more about Flake. The candidate always has been affable, approachable and informed. But in the course of this campaign, especially, he seems to have grown.
In a recent interview with The Republic’s editorial board, Flake shined. These are subtle intangibles, but in arguing his positions, Flake seemed to demonstrate something very much like leadership. It was his best performance as a lawmaker and leader that we have seen.
Affability! Intangibles! A shining performance of something very much like leadership! I won’t point the finger at EJ for that embarrassing endorsement, since I watched the ed board as it was live streaming and witnessed Bob Robb and Doug MacEachern basically take turns making out with Flake so I know exactly who to blame. Dr. Rich Carmona, Flake’s Democratic challenger in 2012, lost by about 3 points – 67,000 votes.
People dismiss the significance of the Republic’s endorsements but I have seen people carry the paper into the polling place to help them fill out the ballot. In a race as close the Flake/Carmona one, where voters don’t have as much knowledge of those candidates as they do of the Presidential ones, it’s not at all unreasonable to conclude that the endorsement of Flake made a difference. And that was their choice to make. The ed board decided the budget deficit was the most important issue pressing the nation and our state and that Jeff Flake had the just the sort of affable, intangible, resemblance of leadership necessary to tackle that in the US Senate. What we’ve gotten with Jeff Flake thus far is very tangible – standard Republican obstructionism and catering to right wing interest groups. He is behaving exactly as those of us who paid attention to him all those years he was in the House predicted.