Browsing the blog archives for September, 2015.


The Crash and Burn Party

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Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

First, enjoy the highlights of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards congressional testimony yesterday:

Charles Pierce explains how the Democratic Republic of Congo got mixed up in this:

You may be baffled by the sudden appearance in the colloquy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arguably the worst place in the world right now. What the fck does Chaffetz care about the DRC? That’s because you do not spend 20 hours a day marinating in the right-wing media crackpot crockpot. Here are the ingredients: a) the fact that the DRC is a nightmarish place where children are forced into prostitution and trafficked freely; b) that there is AN E-MAIL! that revealed that Bill Clinton once did not speak at an event at which Joseph Kabila, the vampirish leader of the DRC would be in attendance, and c) PP is active there in trying to make sure that the women caught up in an epidemic of brutal sexual violence stay relatively healthy and that they do not get pregnant by their rapists if they do not want to do so. It’s Fetus-Fondling Bingo. Oh, and by the way, the staunchly red state of Missouri concluded its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities in that state.

Like the several other states that have investigated Planned Parenthood since the hoax videos came out, Missouri found nothing.

Conventional wisdom says that right-wing crackpot Kevin McCarthy will be the next Speaker. McCarthy is expected to become the next John Boehner in other ways as well. Norman Ornstein writes,

The major issue in our current dysfunction is the struggle within a Republican Party that is not the traditional battle between moderates and conservatives — there are no moderates any more to speak of — but between radical insurgents and right-wing realists. The realists, like Boehner, understand that divided government requires compromise; the radicals’ credo is “never give up, never surrender.”

Paradoxically, the radicals were encouraged in those views by establishment conservatives who channeled their anger and outrage into House and Senate G.O.P. majorities in 2010 and 2014 by promising that they could defeat Obama and along the way bring him to his knees; the radical outrage now has been amplified by the failure of those promises. Boehner’s departure does not heal the breach; it enhances it. Radicals have won, forcing Boehner out. Now the big target will be Mitch McConnell, and Boehner’s successor, almost certainly Kevin McCarthy, won’t be far behind.

McCarthy is as right-wing as they come, but news stories say he’s a “pragmatist,” meaning he has a dim idea that reactionary Republicans are unlikely to gain absolute power by throwing temper tantrums. This will be McCarthy’s doom.  Gary Legum:

If McCarthy wants an example of what can happen to a congressional leader who makes promises to the extreme conservatives and then doesn’t deliver, he should look not to his friend John Boehner but to one of his co-authors of the 2010 book “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” The cover of that book shows McCarthy smiling with Rep. Paul Ryan and then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a one-time Tea Party favorite who helped hold the Republican coalition together to fight every legislative initiative proposed by the Obama administration. Then he was booted from office by a hardcore conservative named David Brat, who promised to not only fight Obama, but also roll back his legislative successes.

That there is no plausible path to this goal so long as the Republicans do not have a filibuster- or veto-proof majority in the Senate, or while Obama and his veto pen remain in the White House, does not dissuade Brat and like-minded conservatives, who still think Republicans can force the president to sign legislation repealing all of his accomplishments if they only try super-duper really extra hard.

Currently McCarthy’s chief rival is Daniel Webster of Florida, who unfortunately is not THE Daniel Webster. The new Daniel Webster is arguably a worse whackjob than McCarthy:

Webster’s association with IBLP and its homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute, made national headlines when he first ran for Congress in 2010. Alan Grayson, the firebrand incumbent Democrat, criticized Webster, who had served 28 years in the Florida legislature, in an ad characterizing him as “Taliban Dan.” The ad showed clips from a Webster speech to an IBLP conference during which he spoke of a biblical command that wives submit to their husbands. Webster, who went on to win the election, insisted the clips were taken out of context.

IBLP also is opposed to public education, contraception, “humanistic” laws, and rock music.

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Nobody Knows Anything

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conservatism, Republican Party

Whatever is going on in U.S. politics has gone completely out of bounds of all the known knowns and unknown knowns and known unknowns and whatever other combination of confusion one could put together. We’re all in uncharted territory here.

Ezra Klein writes that the parties appear to have completely lost control of the nomination process. Many of you, like me, are old enough to remember when the nominee was chosen in backroom deals at party conventions. Now Citizens United and new media technology has made parties close to irrelevant to who walks away with the prize.

Regarding Republicans: Although most of the beltway media tribe are as oblivious as ever, Frank Bruni (seriously?) is beginning to notice something is out of whack.

[Republicans] have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.

Let it not be forgot that Bruni has been a leader of the both-sides-are-just-as-bad tribe for some time.

Conventional wisdom says that John Boehner’s resignation puts an end to any shutdown over Planned Parenthood, because the Crazy Caucus won’t be able to threaten him with a coup any more. However, conventional wisdom also says that What Comes Next will be worse for President Obama and Mitch McConnell.  But Josh Marshall disagrees.

This is a basic misunderstanding of the dynamics of the situation, actually a fundamental one – based again on the assumption that the only thing standing in the way of the House “Freedom Caucus” and right wing glory is that they haven’t shut the government down enough, or haven’t voted to repeal Obamacare enough. Was John Boehner really running interference for President Obama, shielding him from the ferocious fury of the right wing of the House caucus or was he frequently bending over backwards to find ways to avoid House nutballs from inflicting even more damage on the party’s national standing?

The latest brouhaha was about whether or not to shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood. Note today’s Quinnipiac Poll which shows that Americans oppose shutting down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood by a 69% to 23% margin. Even Republicans oppose it by a 56% to 36% margin. The opposition to this is broad based and overwhelming. It has all the kinetics and logic of driving 100 miles an hour into a reinforced cement wall.

Gerrymandering pretty much guarantees the GOP will hang on to the House at least until 2020, Josh M. continues. So they think they’re invincible. But if the hard Right in the House is allowed to charge ahead in all of its irrational glory and cause one crisis after another to force its will, this is unlikely to particularly hurt President Obama, or Democrats.

Whether it would hurt Republicans remains to be seen; the pattern we’ve seen over the past several years is that when one layer of crazy comes apart, an even crazier layer is revealed. Apparently the “fix” for the failures of extremist conservatism is even more radical extremist conservatism.

The question in my mind is, how far is this going to go? Nothing continues forever. The trajectory will fail, eventually. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the Taoist view that all things carry the seeds of their own destruction. The question is, how long? And, when the collapse comes, will our political institutions be strong enough to adjust? Or have extremism and corruption made them too vulnerable to stand?

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Please Proceed, Jeb!

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The Smarter Brother

Jeb! has told us we common folk need to work longer hours and retire later. Now comes his pitch for the African American vote:

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Yes, the “free stuff” line worked so well for Mittens four years ago. And let me add that’s it’s just too rich for a Bush to be chiding others about achieving “earned success.”

Update: I didn’t see this coming — John Boehner will resign from Congress in October.

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His Holiness the Troll

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Obama Administration

Pope Francis spoke to the House today, and he spoke of caring for the poor, taking care of the earth, and abolishing the death penalty. It was a lovely speech, made better by invoking American icons like Lincoln and MLK. Here is the conclusion:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Who could argue with that? Do you have to ask? Conservatives are having a fit.

Steven “Cantaloupe Calves” King must be disappointed.  This is what he said a couple of days ago:

Conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) this week urged Pope Francis to steer away from the “politics” of climate change and income inequality during his Thursday address to Congress, and instead focus on issues King deems more appropriate for the Catholic church: abortion and marriage.

So, climate change and income inequality are “politics” but reproductive rights and marriage equality are not “politics.” I’m glad he cleared that up.

Today he said,

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said Pope Francis’ call to welcome immigrants to the country with open arms in his address to Congress on Thursday shows the Catholic leader doesn’t understand the necessity of national borders or the idea of nation states.

Because it’s more polite to suggest His Holiness is a simpleton rather than mistaken.

His Holiness avoided abortion except to mention “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” at which point, Charles Pierce says, “the zygote-fondling caucus went wild.” But when Pope Francis immediately pivoted abolishing the death penalty, “You could feel the air go out of the congresscritters who’d leaped to their feet. Both of Trey Gowdy’s faces fell.”

Ted Cruz actually said that he’s against abolishing the death penalty, because “the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life.” Seriously, he said that.

I wasn’t watching, but this news story says Republicans gave the speech muted applause, while the Dems gave it a standing ovation.  Bernie Sanders was thrilled the Pope mentioned Dorothy Day, btw. On the whole it was rather a lefty speech, which is to say it was humane and compassionate and dealt with real-world life.

The Breitbrats are annoyed with His Holiness for suggesting that the purpose of a legislature is to take care of the common good.

The Pope continued that Congressional authority sprang from the need to pursue the “common good,” adding, “legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.”

In Constitutional terms, this is plainly untrue. Legislative authority does not spring from care for the people, but from the consent of the people and non-violation of their rights.

The part about “called and convened by those who elected you” seems to have escaped the Breitbrat who wrote this, who went on to say that what the Pope suggests would lead to tyranny. Heaven forbid that We, the People should expect our legislators to be concerned with the general welfare of We, the People.

See also “Angry Conservatives Insist Pope Francis Is a Fake Christian” by David Horsey.

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Need to Know

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elections

There are a lot of postmortems of Scott Walker’s failed campaign. The most basic reason his campaign failed is lack of money. He had all kinds of super-PAC money, mind you, but it seems there are rules about using super-PAC money for common campaign expenses like paying one’s staff, travel, renting campaign headquarters, etc.

And while Walker may have had some megadonors ready to write checks, he couldn’t raise money from small donors that he could use for the campaign essentials. According to this article, one direct-mail solicitation campaign cost more money than it raised. There are also complaints that Walker’s campaign manager “went big” too soon. Back when Walker was a front-runner, the manager hired a big staff, a PR firm, and lots of consultants to keep the Big Mo going.

Maybe they should have spent the money hiring a more exciting candidate. The small donors dried up after the first debate and never came back.

(Lest anyone think this will bring about the demise of unlimited campaign spending, see Steve M.)

The campaign apparently also had to hire people to explain to Walker what a President does. Frank Bruni (yeah, I know, it’s Frank Bruni):

I’m weary and wary of politicians whose ambitions precede and eclipse any serious, necessary preparation for the office they seek. Walker is a perfect example.

I kept hearing and reading — after he’d obviously decided to run for president — that he was being briefed by an emergency crew of wonks. Shouldn’t that have happened first? Shouldn’t he have been paying attention all along, out of a genuine interest in this sort of material rather than a pragmatic one?

In the Republican primary battle, though, not knowing stuff apparently doesn’t matter.

Donald Trump has prospered, and he’s utterly unapologetic about all of the matters that he hasn’t taken the trouble to bone up on and all of the experts whom he hasn’t bothered to consult.

When NBC’s Chuck Todd asked him where he gets his military advice, he said: “I watch the shows.” He presumably meant “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation,” though I don’t think we can rule out “Survivor” or “Game of Thrones.”

Time and again, Trump pledges to amass the proper information just before he needs it — no point in doing so now, before he finds out if he’s hired — and he predicts that he’ll shame everyone then with his abracadabra erudition. He’s a procrastinating college freshman planning an all-nighter before the final exam.

I already talked about Trump’s and Fiorina’s issues-free campaign websites on this post. Ben Carson does have an “issues” section on his website, but it doesn’t say shit.  For example, he plans to repeal Obamacare, but the only idea presented for replacing it is Health Savings Accounts. (As a writer, I recognize bullshit “filler” copy when I see it. Carson’s issues page is all filler.)

Basically, the current “top three” in the Republican field have given us no clue what specific policies they might pursue in office, and indeed have given no indication they’ve thought about it much. “ISIS is bad” is not a foreign policy plan, folks.

Marco Rubio’s issues page has a lot more verbiage, most of which is dedicated to complaining how awful President Obama’s policies are, followed by some simplistic bullet list of what Rubio will do better. For example, his plan to reduce the debt consists of cutting spending and “reforming” (which means cutting) taxes. Oh, and he wants a balanced budget amendment.

“The Tax Foundation found that our plan, over the next decade, would increase GDP by 15 percent, boost wages by 12.5 percent, and create almost 2.7 million full-time jobs,” Rubio’s website boasted. Note that the Tax Foundation has ties to ALEC . Krugman took the Tax Foundation apart awhile back when it claimed there had been no long-run upward trend in income inequality.

Looking at the last of the GOP Most Likelies, Jeb! doesn’t have an issues section, but instead has dribbled out random policy positions on his “news” section.

And yes, I’ve looked at Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’s web pages. In some cases HRC is still promising what she plans to do (climate change) and in others she has some plausible details worked out (reducing higher education cost). Bernie Sanders seem pretty firm about what he wants to do, although I notice his issues page leaves off climate change and health care, except for prescription drugs.  (He’s called for Medicare for All in the recent past.)

Then there’s the website On the Issues, which can be a useful place to get a general idea about a candidate’s position. Just for fun:

Here is the condensed version of Bernie Sanders positions on Social Security.  Now, compare that to Carly Fiorina. Um, see the difference?

Talk about buying a pig in a poke. Basically, if you look for them you find that most of the GOP positions amount to the same stuff they’ve been pushing for years — cut spending, especially on programs for the poor and retired  (but not defense), cut taxes, replace Obamacare with a few ineffectual tweaks that won’t help most people, give Israel everything it wants, ISIS is bad, ban abortions, pass a balanced budget amendment, hooray for guns, more drilling for oil, illegal immigration is bad, and there is no climate change. There are some exceptions to that list, but not many.

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Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

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blogging

“I really didn’t say everything I said.” — Yogi Berra

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This Says a Lot

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Congress, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Catholic Congress Critter Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) explains why he’s boycotting the Pope when His Holiness addresses the House of Representatives:

Many believed, like I did, that this was an opportunity for the Pope to be one of the world’s great religious advocates and address the current intolerance of religious freedom. An opportunity to urgently challenge governments to properly address the persecution and execution of Christians and religious minorities; to address the heinous and senseless murders committed by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. An opportunity to address the enslavement, belittlement, rape and desecration of Christian women and children; to address the condoned, subsidized, intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood and society; and finally, an opportunity for His Holiness to refocus our priorities on right from wrong.

Gore, sex, death, Islamophobia and more sex and death, plus persecution. Who wouldn’t be quivering with anticipation?

Media reports indicate His Holiness instead intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change.

Jeez, Popes can be buzzkills sometimes.

More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into “climate justice” and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.

“Leftist” policies like taking care of the poor and the earth?

If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line.  If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.

There’s theology, and then there’s other theology. I say to those who take delight in wallowing in persecution porn and fomenting hate speech against those tagged as an “enemy” might want to read their Bibles — Matthew 5:43-46

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Yeah, we all know ISIS and other violent extremists in the Middle East are really awful and doing bad things. Standing on the other side of the world and bloviating about it doesn’t so much as butter toast, however. On the other hand, ratcheting down the wrathful rhetoric might make a small contribution toward slowing the spread of radicalization.

Anti-Christian persecution is really happening in the Middle East, and it’s genuinely terrible. ISIS is behind much of it. But, let’s see, where did ISIS come from … oh, a U.S. military prison? As an unintended consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Maybe we’re not the ones to talk. And, anyway, there’s little we can do about it, from what I see. Making speeches about how awful it is won’t change a thing. And Pope Francis has spoken out against it already.

And don’t get me started on why the allegations against Planned Parenthood are a hoax.

Instead, His Holiness will lecture the U.S. House on global climate change, which is actually happening in spite of the Right’s dogged efforts to pretend otherwise.

What is it about global climate change that’s different than Islamic violence, the persecution of Christians, and something alleged about Planned Parenthood that isn’t happening?

The U.S. could actually do something about global climate change, that’s what.

In other words, His Holiness wants Congress to do something. What a concept.

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Why CEOs Shouldn’t Be President

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

Not that Fiorina was much of a CEO — no one has offered her a  CEO job since she left HP in 2005 — but this to me screams out loud why being a CEO and a POTUS are two different things —

Carly Fiorina said Sunday that neither she nor Hewlett-Packard should be faulted for the sales of millions of HP printers in Iran when such business was prohibited by U.S. law.

Appearing on Fox’s Fox News Sunday, Fiorina said that despite being the CEO of HP when the Iranian sales took place via a third party, she was unaware of them. …

… “In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted, adding,  “…when the company discovered this three years after I left, they cut off all ties. The SEC investigated very thoroughly and concluded that no one in management was aware.”

A 2008 Boston Globe investigation found that, while U.S. companies were banned from selling goods to Iran, an Indian company in Dubai called Redington Gulf had sold HP printers there. They sold them so well, in fact, that HP had 41 percent market share in Iran by 2007. Redington Gulf obtained the printers through a European subsidiary.

Wallace asked Fiorina why HP had named Redington Gulf its “Wholesaler of the Year” award in 2003 if the company wasn’t aware of its sales to Iran, Fiorina again deflected blame.

It’s possible Fiorina wasn’t aware of how Redington Gulf made its sales, because that’s not the sort of thing a CEO has to worry about. Sales are sales.

(However, according to a 2004 article in Forbes, Fiorina’s HP was one of the companies that knowingly — or, at least, they must have known — shipped products to Dubai to be re-exported into Iran. Halliburton was another company named, of course. This practice was openly winked at even as the companies in question denied they ever sold goods to Iran.)

A POTUS has to have a more, shall we say, nuanced view of the world, in all of its complexities. And a POTUS is held responsible for things a CEO can get away with denying.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, not someone on my most admired list by any stretch, did say something insightful awhile back. When asked if a CEO’s skills would make someone a good President, he said, “It’s not sufficient. I think you have a whole ‘nother set of attributes. I think it’s really complex — politics. It’s three-dimensional chess.”

And if politics is three-dimensional chess, foreign policy is 12-dimensional chess. Businesses, even big corporations, operate within relatively narrow parameters – – cost, profit, cash flow, sales figures. CEOs don’t have to worry about whether selling widgets to France will cause a war with Spain. Presidents do.

Back when Mittens was running for POTUS, it struck me that he is probably very shrewd but not intelligent. By that I mean he seems to have a knack for calculating how to wring every dollar out of a business venture. But how does he understand history? How does he understand the causes of poverty, or the dynamics of race, or why certain wetlands have to be protected from development, or what it’s really like to be poor and have no health insurance? I very much doubt those things were even on his radar.

The purpose of a corporation is to make money for the investors. And if you have to wreck the environment or move jobs overseas and screw your employees in the process, that’s okay in the business world. The purpose of a government is to support fairness, justice and a decent standard of living for its citizens. And by “support a decent standard of living” I don’t mean hand out welfare, but to enable citizens to be self-supporting by preventing the malefactors of great wealth from exploiting the hell out of them, and to enable upward mobility through things like education and public health policies.

These two purposes are completely at odds with each other, and I don’t think the CEO presidential wannabees grasp that. Or, if they do grasp it, they don’t care. Winning the White House would be the ultimate “regulatory capture.” Why be content with getting industry-friendly executives appointed to federal regulatory agencies, when you can take over the entire executive branch?

Further, CEOs are tyrants. They exercise power largely through intimidation. David Corn wrote of Carly Fiorina,

At HP, Fiorina developed the reputation of a manager who knocked heads together—or who chopped them off. And there were massive layoffs during her tenure. In 2003, the company announced it would dismiss almost 18,000 people. (That year, the firm posted a $903 million loss on $56.6 billion in revenue.) When the outsourcing of jobs turned into a national political issue, Fiorina became the poster-girl for an industry campaign aimed at blocking any legislation that would restrict a company’s ability to can American employees in favor of workers overseas. She and executives from seven other tech companies issued a report that argued that any such measures would hurt the U.S. economy. The best way to increase American competitiveness, they declared, was to improve schools and, yes, reduce taxes. At a Washington press conference, Fiorina said, “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs.” The remark did not go over well with critics of outsourcing, who have ever since used it as an indicator of corporate insensitivity.

Note that candidate Fiorina already is promising to lay off government workers. It’s what she knows how to do.

Presidents, in contrast, have highly restricted powers. And they can’t fire Supreme Court justices. One of Fiorina’s excuses for her failures at HP is that the Board of Directors was hard to work with, and there may be some truth in that. But, my dear, have you seen Congress lately?

Nor do CEOs concern themselves with coming up with plans — that’s what the help is for. Note that Fiorina’s official campaign web site doesn’t have a “Carly on the Issues” section. It’s all about her resume, not her policy ideas. (Donald Trump has recently added a “positions” section to his, although the only two issues he addresses are 2nd amendment rights and immigration.)

(I am reminded of the Ultimate Donald Rumsfeld memo. This is what you get with a CEO secretary of defense.)

I’m not going to look at every presidential candidate website, but I will note that Bernie Sanders has an extensive issues section that would take someone a while to read.

Right now Trump and Fiorina are one and two in the Republican polls. At least Scott Walker seems out of the running; that’s some comfort.

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War on Women Update

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abortion, Republican Party

Gail Collins on House Republicans versus Planned Parenthood:

The House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the matter with lawyerly precision, starting with a hearing titled: “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” In a further effort to offer balance and perspective, the committee did not invite Planned Parenthood to testify.

(Coming soon: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce prepares to welcome Pope Francis with a hearing on “Papal Fallibility: Why He’s Totally, Completely and Utterly Off Base About Global Warming.”)

Yesterday the House voted, mostly on party lines, to defund Planned Parenthood. That was a move meant to mollify the Scorched Earth crowd, who are determined to force another government shutdown on the issue.

Republican leaders don’t want such a shutdown, possibly because a recent poll showed that 71 percent of Americans don’t want another shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Even a small majority of Republicans don’t want it. Government shutdowns are a well-trodden path to Loserville for Republicans. So the vote was supposed to let the fire-eaters vent by voting for a bill that won’t become law. Whether this will settle them down remains to be seen.

We should brace for an uptick in women’s health clinic violence, which will not be limited to abortion clinics:

A summer of increasingly hysterical rhetoric aimed at Planned Parenthood culminated over the weekend in what appears to be a terrorist attack on a clinic in a small town in Eastern Washington. At 3:30 a.m. on Friday, the Planned Parenthood of Pullman—subject to a huge protest recently—caught fire in what investigators are deeming an arson. The damage was extensive enough to close down the clinic for at least a month. A federal anti-terrorism task force has been called in to investigate.

Anti-abortion terrorism is nothing new, of course, but at this point, it’s worth asking if “anti-abortion” is too narrow a term. After all, the clinic in question did not offer abortion. Nor was the Aug. 22 protest at the clinic, which drew an estimated 500 people, really about abortion. The protesters, who were part of a nationally organized series of actions against Planned Parenthood, were demanding the end of funding for contraception and other nonabortion service

 They’re really against health care for women. Compare/contrast to the Taliban in Afghanistan awhile back, which infamously cut women off from health care by declaring women could not be examined by male doctors while banning female doctors from their practices. Pry this hysteria down to its root, and you’ll find fear and loathing of female sexuality.

One of the Right’s favorite fictions is that if funding were cut off from Planned Parenthood, all kinds of other health care providers would step up to replace them. Experience is not showing that to be true. Gail Collins again:

Jindal cut off $730,000 in Medicaid reimbursements to his state’s two Planned Parenthood clinics, even though neither offers abortion services. They do, however, provide thousands of women with health care, including screening for sexually transmitted infections — a terrible problem in some parts of the state.

No big deal. When the issue went to court, Jindal’s administration provided a list of more than 2,000 other places where Planned Parenthood’s patients could get care.

“It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services,”responded the judge.

Whoops. It appeared that the list-makers had overestimated a tad, and the number of alternate providers was actually more like 29. None of which had the capacity to take on a flood of additional patients.

I liked this bit:

When Planned Parenthood leaves town, bad things follow. Ask the county in Indiana that drove out its clinic, which happened to be the only place in the area that offered H.I.V. testing. That was in 2013; in March the governor announced a “public health emergency” due to the spike in H.I.V. cases.

And the clincher:

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, studied what happened when Texas blocked Planned Parenthood grants and tried to move the money to other providers. Even when there were other clinics in an area, she said, “they were overbooked with their own patients. What happened in Texas was the amount of family planning services dropped. And the next thing that happened, of course, was that unplanned pregnancies began to rise.”

At least, the American Taliban won’t put women in burqas. More likely they’ll mandate modest calico dresses and sunbonnets.

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The Best Thing I’ve Read So Far on the Recent GOP Debates.

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Obama Administration

This.

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