Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Morning Wingnuts

You know who's having a hard time adjusting to Al Franken's Senate victory in Minnesota? Fox News.

Glenn Beck said of the senator-elect, "[I]t shows how crazy our country has gone.... [I]t shows that we've lost our minds." Beck didn't seem to realize why these words, coming from him, are deeply amusing.

It's not much better on the Hill among Fox News' allies. Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, a long-time member of the world's most deliberative body, today referred to his newest colleague as "the clown from Minnesota." Considering how many times I've dismissed Coburn as a clown, I found his choice of words rather ironic.

For his part, Rush Limbaugh today called Franken a "genuine lunatic." Again, the irony was lost on the speaker.

I think Franken is going to be a very capable lawmaker, but watching his success send the right into apoplexy makes yesterday's developments just a little more entertaining.
Kurtz: He's Not Talking About His Wife
Mark Sanford: "I will be able to die knowing that I had met my soul mate."
  • Josh Marshall adds:

    I know there are a lot of people who are genuinely questioning Sanford's sanity at this point -- when you put together the furtive trips and the endless new revelations. But am I the only one who thinks that he appears to be deeply in love with this woman and should just go be with her?

    The marriage seems clearly to be over. And if it wasn't on his first day back from Argentina, it's hard to conceive how it isn't now.

    Most of the relevant players have weighed in on South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) personal and professional difficulties, but Dan Gilgoff reports there's one group whose silence stands out.

    One week after Mark Sanford admitted to his affair with an Argentine woman -- and a day after he called his mistress his "soul mate" and acknowledged further indiscretions -- I'm struck by the total silence of pro-family groups.

    The Family Research Council has been completely quiet on the South Carolina governor's affair. So has Concerned Women for America. Ditto for Focus on the Family.

    The wall of silence is all the more striking given that 10 Palmetto State senators in Sanford's own party have called for him to step down. Does the pro-family movement burn up credibility if it looks the other way when Republican allies own up to extramarital affairs?

    That's certainly a reasonable question, though I'm not at all sure the religious right still has "credibility" in reserve.

    Either way, the movement's silence is striking. The afternoon Sanford admitted his affair, the Family Research Council, which had invited Sanford to be a featured speaker at its 2009 Values Voter Summit, moved with lightning speed to remove the governor from the guest list.

    But that obviously isn't a condemnation. While religious right groups rarely hesitate to issue moralistic denunciations about events of the day, they've somehow managed to give Sanford a pass.

    Gilgoff flagged this gem from a book Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote: "As long as we as Christians are willing to tolerate or overlook duplicity in our self-identified party, it will be clear to the world that our allegiance is to a party and not the truth, regardless of what we claim.... [I]f we are ever to speak as the moral conscience of the nation, we must consistently stand for a clear set of values and principles, no matter if that leads to a temporary loss of political power."

    I realize that Sanford was as close an ally to the religious right movement as any governor in the country. But if these groups expect to lecture the rest of us about morality and family values, they should at least offer some criticism of their close ally.

Atrios: But Their Real Views Were Always Obvious
Only the obfuscation attempts by wanker pundits and "I CAN'T HEAR YOU" deliberate ignorance by everyone involved in the farce have obscured this fact. The broad anti-abortion movement isn't just anti-abortion, it's anti-sex generally and most importantly anti-women having agency over their bodies and sexual activity. This is not true of all anti-abortion people, but it is true of the anti-abortion movement.

Lots of people are squishy about abortion, though I firmly believe the vast majority of people in this country are pro-choice for me if not for thee, but those involved in the anti-abortion movement don't just care about embryos and fetuses, they care about punishing women for unapproved fucking.
  • Yglesias: Bishops, Baptists Organizing Against Contraception

    It’s precisely because of stances like this that it’s very hard to take the “abortion is murder” crowd seriously when they say abortion is murder. Their revealed behavior indicates that they don’t actually find abortion especially problematic, but just place it on a spectrum containing a general aversion to women controlling their own sexuality:

    But more conservative religious groups working with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships say they would be forced to oppose such a plan—even though they support the abortion reduction part—because they oppose federal dollars for contraception and comprehensive sex education. This camp, which includes such formidable organizations as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, is pressuring the White House to decouple the two parts of the plan into separate bills. One bill would focus entirely on preventing unwanted pregnancy, while the other would focus on supporting pregnant women.

    Atrios sees this as a reason to mock those who advocate seeking “common ground” with abortion proponents. I think we’re arguably seeing here the real fruits of seeking common ground in good faith—their real views are smoked out.

President Obama, even as a candidate, always seemed to have a good, politically-salient line on reproductive rights: he's pro-choice, but he also supports common-sense measures that would reduce unwanted pregnancies, reduce the abortion rate, and improve the reproductive health of millions of women.

In general, it was an approach that resonated with many who were otherwise skeptical of progressive politicians. After all, if Obama supports steps that would lower the number of abortions, he can be pro-choice while also finding some meaningful areas of agreement with opponents of abortion rights.

At least, that was the theory. U.S. News' Dan Gilgoff reports:

As the White House readies its plan for finding "common ground" on reproductive health issues and reducing the need for abortion, a major debate has emerged over how to package the plan's two major components: preventing unwanted pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion.

Many abortion rights advocates and some Democrats who want to dial down the culture wars want the White House to package the two parts of the plan together, as a single piece of legislation. The plan would seek to reduce unwanted pregnancies by funding comprehensive sex education and contraception and to reduce the need for abortion by bolstering federal support for pregnant women. Supporters of the approach say it would force senators and members of Congress on both sides of the abortion battle to compromise their traditional positions, creating true common ground that mirrors what President Obama has called for.

But more conservative religious groups working with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships say they would be forced to oppose such a plan -- even though they support the abortion reduction part -- because they oppose federal dollars for contraception and comprehensive sex education. This camp, which includes such formidable organizations as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, is pressuring the White House to decouple the two parts of the plan into separate bills.

It often goes overlooked, but a significant number of conservatives not only oppose abortion rights, but would also deny Americans legal access to contraception.

As a result, it's difficult to have a constructive discussion. The left says, "Women should have the right to a safe, legal abortion." The right replies, "We're against that." The left says, "OK, how about improving women's access to contraception and education, which in turn would reduce unwanted pregnancies and cut down on abortion?" The right replies, "We're against that, too."

So much for "common ground" with conservatives.


Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) bizarre obsession with the national census -- she's said she's prepared to break the law and not answer census questions -- has become so annoying, some of her far-right Republican colleagues in the House have seen enough.

David Weigel reports today that Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), and John Mica (R-Fla) -- three conservatives on the House Census Oversight Subcommittee -- issued a statement today, emphasizing "how important it is for every individual to fill out their census forms," and explaining why Bachmann is backwards.

"Every elected representative in this country should feel a responsibility to encourage full participation in the census. To do otherwise is to advocate for a smaller share of federal funding for our constituents. Boycotting the constitutionally-mandated census is illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country.

"The unfortunate irony is that Ms. Bachmann's boycott only increases the likelihood that ACORN-recruited census takers will be dispatched to her constituents' homes. Anyone who completes and returns their census form will remove any need for a census taker to visit their residence.

"Furthermore, a boycott opens the door for partisans to statistically adjust census results. The partisan manipulation of census data would irreparably transform the census from being the baseline of our entire statistical system into a tool used to wield political power in Washington."

As Weigel noted, "You don't usually hear Republicans criticizing a fellow member in such a public and official capacity." Quite right. Given the language in this statement -- "illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country" -- it was a pretty striking rebuke from three far-right Republicans to another.

And as long as we're on the subject, Bachmann talked to Sean Hannity on Fox News last night about her anti-census crusade, and returned to one of her favorite arguments: "Sean, you know the one question they don't ask? They [don't] ask, 'are you an American citizen?' ... [T]hey could at least ask if we're an American citizen? They don't bother to ask for that. That's why I think people need to read this census for themselves. If you go to my website, michelebachmann, you can read it."

Good idea. If you take Bachmann's advice, visit her website, and read the census, you find the American Community Survey put together by the Census Bureau. Question #7 reads: "Where was this person born?" Question #8 reads, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

Bachmann probably should have noticed this before repeatedly going on national television, pleading with people to read the census questions, and railing against the absence of a question that's already there.

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