Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Is It With Jeb! and Women?

Via Politico:

Jeb Bush attacked Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, doubling down on his assertion that the organization should not receive any federal funding because it’s not actually tackling women’s health issues.

“I, for one, don’t think Planned Parenthood ought to get a penny though, and that’s the difference because they’re not actually doing women’s health issues,” the Republican presidential candidate said.

Yeah, because breast and cervical cancer screening and contraception have nothing whatsoever to do with women’s health issues.

Can you imagine what deep shit he’d be in if women voted?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Reading

Not Funny Anymore — Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone on the dangers of Donald Trump.

So two yahoos from Southie in my hometown of Boston severely beat up a Hispanic homeless guy earlier this week. While being arrested, one of the brothers reportedly told police that “Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported.”

When reporters confronted Trump, he hadn’t yet heard about the incident. At first, he said, “That would be a shame.” But right after, he went on:

“I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.

[…]

Trump is probably too dumb to realize it, or maybe he isn’t, but he doesn’t need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.

Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, “incompetents,” “dummies,” Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.

Karl Rove and his acolytes mined a lot of the same resentments to get Republicans elected over the years, but the difference is that Trump’s political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote. The key to his success is a titillating message that those musty old rules about being polite and “saying the right thing” are for losers who lack the heart, courage and Trumpitude to just be who they are.

His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox’s Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals” could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve been challenged by so many people,” Trump answered. “I frankly don’t have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn’t have time either…. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico…. We lose to everybody.”

On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump’s most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.

But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media’s most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.

Tale of the Tapes — Nina Liss-Schultz in Mother Jones on falsity of the Planned Parenthood tapes.

Since undercover videos that captured Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donations were released last month, GOP officials in more than 10 states have clamored to launch investigations into the organization. On Tuesday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined that group, ordering her state’s health department to review the policies and practices of all abortion clinics in the state, including the three operated by Planned Parenthood.

“These practices are not consistent with the laws or character of our state,” Haley wrote in her letter to the state agency tasked with regulating abortion clinics, adding that it “cannot allow an organization with broken internal oversight and a flawed corporate culture to behave the way Planned Parenthood has in other states.”

In the videos, recorded surreptitiously and released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood officials talk frankly about the organization’s tissue donation program and the costs associated with donating fetal tissue from an abortion. Though fetal tissue donation is a long-standing and legal practice in the United States, and has contributed to medical advancements like the polio vaccine, conservatives have used the videos to attack the health care organization, saying they provide evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from the sale of aborted fetuses. And they’ve pushed for investigations to unmask this purported criminal wrongdoing.

But so far, those investigations are falling flat. Completed probes in GeorgiaIndianaMassachusetts, and South Dakota have spent thousands in taxpayer money but turned up no evidence that Planned Parenthood is trafficking in the sale of fetal tissue. And in most of the other states that have launched investigations—including OhioArizonaTexas, and Kansas—Planned Parenthood affiliates don’t even have fetal tissue donation programs, making it hard to believe the states will find any illegal activity related to the practice. In Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered an investigation in mid-July, Planned Parenthood does not even operate a single abortion clinic.

“In every state where these investigations have concluded, officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation, told the Huffington Post. “We’ve said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards, and that’s what every one of these investigations has found.”

Breakfast of Champion — Richard Sandomir in The New York Times reports on the petition to get Greg Louganis on a Wheaties box.

When Julie Sondgerath learned from the premiere of the HBO documentary “Greg Louganis: Back on Board” this month that Louganis, the transcendent Olympic diver, had never been on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box, she started a petition drive on Change.org to demand that General Mills correct an omission that has lasted more than 30 years.

She had watched a scene almost midway through the film in which Louganis is looking at a display of Wheaties boxes with Olympic athletes on them: Amy Van Dyken, Laura Wilkinson and Brooke Bennett. All deserving. But where was Louganis?

“Never got a Wheaties box,” Louganis, with a shrug and a reluctant smile, says in the documentary.

“It kind of broke my heart,” Sondgerath said by telephone from Chicago. “This is a guy who did everything right. He trained from his teens. He went to the Olympics. He won silver in 1976. He won gold in 1984 and again in ’88. He did everything right.”

Casual sports and Olympic fans might not be able to name another diver — a reflection of his superiority and the sport’s relatively modest profile. Still, Louganis is quite possibly the greatest ever at his sport. He won gold medals on the three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform in each of those Summer Games.

But Wheaties’s recognition escaped him in 1984, though not Mary Lou Retton and Carl Lewis. Four years later, he won the same events but was again ignored by Wheaties.

Homophobia would seem to be the only reason that Louganis was denied the simple cereal-box accolade. He says so in the documentary, even if the filmmakers could not present anyone from General Mills who would agree. A spokesman for the cereal-maker said that nobody from that period was left to discuss the decision-making.

There were rumors that Louganis was gay in the 1980s, when only his friends, family and the swimming community knew. He came out publicly at the Gay Games in 1994 but did not acknowledge until the release of his autobiography the next year that he had tested HIV-positive before the 1988 Olympics.

Out of fear, Louganis did not inform the doctor of his condition when he treated the bloody wound caused when Louganis hit his head on the springboard during a preliminary dive.

Louganis’s on-camera shrug suggests an acknowledgment that being ignored by Wheaties should be placed in a 1980s context — during the early years of the AIDS epidemic and decades before court rulings led to same-sex marriages like his own.

Doonesbury — School choices.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No Exceptions (Bad)

Marco Rubio goes into the zone.

I personally and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws, I do. And I believe that irrespective of the conditions by which that life was conceived or anything else, and for me to be consistent on that belief, that’s why I feel so strongly about it.

Which means that to him a microscopic clump of cells is more important than the life of the woman carrying it.

The good news is that Marco Rubio will never be president of anything more than possibly his HOA, and as of January 2017 he will be out of the United States Senate.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

More GOP Outreach To The Womenfolk

Another fine example of how the Republican Party is striving to connect with women voters.

During an interview on Tuesday with religious conservatives, Mr. Bush suggested that the federal government has overfunded women’s health.

“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” Mr. Bush said at a Southern Baptist Convention event in Nashville.

Amid a storm of Democratic mockery, Mr. Bush backtracked within a few hours, saying he had misspoken.

Oh, really?  Do tell.

Failing to provide or fund services such as cancer screening, contraception, or yes, even abortions touch the lives of women, obviously, but they also impact their families, their co-workers, and anyone who cares for a person’s health

But here’s a far better elucidation of the issue from someone far more eloquent than me.  Take it away, Sen. Warren.

I’d like to think that this kind of mindset from Mr. Bush, no matter how much back-tracking he does, will crater his campaign, but knowing the GOP and their base of misogynists, especially when it comes to reproductive rights, he’ll probably see a bump up in the polls.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Short Takes

The Persian Gulf states are on board with the Iran nuclear pact.

President Obama announced major goals to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.  Expect major power outrage.

Major wildfires continue to devastate California.

Senate Democrats blocked an attempt by the GOP to defund Planned Parenthood.  It’s not over.

Tropical Update:  Invest 95L moves inland.

The Tigers had the night off.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Short Takes

As noted below, Cuba and the U.S. re-opened their embassies in Washington and Havana.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to support the Iran nuclear agreement; votes to lift sanctions.

The military plans to increase security at recruiting centers following the shooting in Chattanooga last week.

Greek banks re-opened on Monday for the first time in three weeks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a restrictive abortion bill.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-4.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Short Takes

The Supreme Court stays Texas abortion law.

The Supreme Court lets controversial lethal injection method stand.

Greece’s debt crisis freaked out the stock markets.

Some southern states are going along with marriage equality.

Someone else I don’t care about is no longer on TV.

The Tigers had the night off.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Short Takes

Holes cut in hull in capsized ship; toll reaches 75.

In or out?  Some folks in Congress want to force a debate on what to do with troops in Iraq and Syria.

Hillary Clinton pushes for voting rights expansion.

F.D.A. backs the female version of Viagra.

China suspected in breach in federal computer system.

The Tigers lost again.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ladies Man

Women of America, have no fear; Scott Walker knows what it’s like to be pregnant and therefore he has every right to tell you what’s what.

“I mean, I think for most people who are concerned about that, it’s in the initial months where they’re most concerned about it,” Walker said of pregnancies caused by rape and incest.

You would think after the debacles of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and Richard “God Intended It” Mourdock, Republicans would just STFU about anything to do with the human female reproductive system.  But no, they can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Annals of Small Government, More Freedom

From the folks who complain about big government meddling in every aspect of our lives:

The House on Wednesday voted to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, approving a revised version of a bill that Republican leaders had abruptly pulled in January amid objections from some of their own members.

The measure passed in a 242-to-184 vote, with one member voting present. The bill dropped a provision in the original version that would have required women who became pregnant through rape to report their assault to law enforcement authorities to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Under the new bill, such women would have to receive counseling or medical treatment at least 48 hours before having an abortion. In cases involving minors, abortion providers would have to alert the authorities for the girls’ protection, it says. The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would also make it easier to sue a noncompliant abortion provider.

“No matter how it is shouted down, or what distortions, deceptive what-ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the subject or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill and its supporters,” said Representative Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican who introduced the measure, “this bill is a deeply sincere effort, beginning at their sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies from the atrocity of late-term abortion on demand.”

Because we all know that women are just too flighty to be counted on to control their own bodies, men must do it for them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Short Takes

South Carolina police officer charged with murder in shooting death.

Rahm Emanuel wins 2nd term in Chicago mayoral race.

Kansas basically outlaws abortion.

Russia hacked the White House computer system.

Secretary of State Kerry will meet his Cuban counterpart at Latin American summit.

R.I.P. Stan Freberg, 88, one of the funniest men in the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bitter Little Pill

Somebody was not paying attention in high school biology.

An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Dr. Julie Madsen was testifying in opposition to the bill when Barbieri asked the question. Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

The committee approved the bill 13-4 on a party-line vote. Barbieri, who sits on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in northern Idaho, voted in favor of the legislation. [Emphasis added.]

Damn, there go my hopes for a painless prostate exam.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Thought

Not that it’s any of my business, but why are the Republicans in Congress hell-bent on bringing up two topics — abortion and immigration — that have proven to be toxic for them in recent elections?  Do they really want to drive away women and Hispanic voters even more than they already have?

But hey, who am I to tell them what to do.  Please proceed.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Short Takes

The Taliban slaughter students in school in Pakistan.

Hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, ends with two of them and the gunman dead.

Newtown families plan to sue maker of the gun used in the massacre two years ago.

Supreme Court turns down Arizona abortion law case.

Senate finally approves Surgeon General nominee.

Greenland melting models may be wrong… and bad for Florida.

Frozen director apologizes for “Let It Go.”  (Too late.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Life In Tennessee

Via TPM:

On Election Day, Tennessee voters will be asked to do something very unusual: Amend the state constitution to eliminate all protections for abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger.

The ballot initiative “Amendment 1″ is the culmination of more than a decade of plotting by anti-abortion advocates, who are finally ready to strike. It says:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

The amendment itself doesn’t impose a new law, so it cannot be challenged in federal court. But it wipes out all state protections for abortion, paving the way for Tennessee Republicans — who control the governor’s mansion and enjoy massive majorities in the legislature — to enact restrictive abortion laws.

I have a few questions: If Amendment 1 passes and the state legislature bans any form of abortion, who will pay for the care of the child who is born from a rape or incest, or will the mother be forced to be reminded every day of the crime for the rest of her life?  What if the mother dies or is incapacitated from the pregnancy?  Who will provide for the care of a child that is born with a horrendous birth defect and may be incapable of any kind of meaningful life?  Who will provide for the care of the women who are brutalized by this law, and how many women in Tennessee will die because of it?  I don’t see any language in the amendment about that.

Unwanted or dangerous pregnancies happen no matter what happens in the courts or in the legislature, and the human body doesn’t pay attention to the voters or the screeching of misogynist religious fanatics.  Abortion is a reality, and no amount of political pressure or Jesus-shouting fear mongering will change that.

As Steve Bates puts it, “This isn’t about religion and this isn’t about the fetus.  These people hate women.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Personhood

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted the other day that “personhood” — the idea that a fertilized human egg has all the rights of a fully-born person — is making a comeback in several Senate races.

This has already appeared in the Colorado Senate race, but it will likely become an issue in other races, too. In Colorado, the Republican candidate, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, renounced his previous support for Personhood after entering the contest, admitting it would “restrict contraception,” but Dems seized on the reversal to argue that Gardner only supports protecting women’s health when politically necessary.

Gardner co-sponsored the “Life at Conception Act,” which provides for Constitutional protection of the right to life of each “preborn human person,” defined as existing from the “moment of fertilization.” The Pro-Life Alliance describes this as a “Personhood” measure.

Other GOP Senate candidates are on record in similar fashion. Co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act include Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Steve Daines of Montana, both expected general election candidates. Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, three leading GOP Senate candidates in North Carolina — Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon, and Mark Harris — all favor a “Personhood” constitutional amendment that would “grant legal protections to a fertilized human egg and possibly ban some forms of birth control.”

Leaving aside the sketchy science that goes along with the idea — after all, scientific facts in the debates such as climate change or teaching “creationism” in schools never matter — the idea behind personhood is control; mainly control of women and their bodies.  From the moment of conception, which, by the way, is very hard to pinpoint — it’s not like a bell rings when it happens — a second person is inhabiting her body and she cannot do anything about it other than host it.

Personhood has been on the ballot before.  It’s lost in places like Colorado and even in Mississippi where abortion is being legislated out of existence with the same legerdemain the states used to prevent integration when that was fashionable.  (Still is in some places.)  But like every perverse trend the control freaks come up with and seems like a lost cause, they have a way of coming back from another direction.  Zealots never give up.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pure Michigan Madness

When did the Michigan legislature go completely medieval?

Michigan residents who buy health coverage in the private marketplace after Thursday will not have access to abortion coverage, even if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

On that day, a new state law goes into effect that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion services unless customers purchase separate add-ons – called riders – to their insurance plans ahead of time.

No insurance companies will be offering those riders to new customers in the private marketplace after Thursday, according to the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

This is insane.  I cannot fathom the mentality of people who believe this is anything but a horrific way of trying to prevent abortions.  It has nothing to do with “preserving life.”  It is all about control and the belief that women are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.

The people who passed this monstrosity and the governor who signed it into law can whine and carry on about how they are all so “pro-life,” but the kind of life they seem to favor is that of cruelty, shaming, and smug patriarchy couched in the sickly sweet stench of religious fervor and bumper-sticker answers.

Rape and incest are things the state needs to use every weapon to defend its citizens against, not turn its back and say “Sorry, you’re on your own.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014