GOP Congress: We Luv Babies, But Not As Much As We Love Our Treason Flag

Not The Onion/Andy Borowitz:

House Republican lawmakers sought to reverse previously passed legislation restricting the display of the Confederate flag in federal cemeteries by slipping a provision stripping the legislation into a larger appropriations bill that included Zika funding. The House bill passed last week on largely partisan lines, but was blocked in the Senate Tuesday by a Democratic filibuster.

The Confederate flag language was just one of a number controversial provisions included in the bill, which also included an amendment cutting Planned Parenthood funding and other swipes at the Obama administration’s public health initiatives.

Republican lawmakers are warning that the American public will now blame Democrats if Zika becomes a full-blown health crisis. But Democratic leaders suggested that filibustering Tuesday’s bill was an easy call — pointing to provisions like the Confederate flag reversal…

Mr. Pierce, “Did Republicans Really Just Bring the Confederate Flag into the Zika Debate?”:

The Democratic opposition to the bill in the Senate primarily dealt with the whack the bill took at Planned Parenthood, and the president was likely to veto this bill anyway, not least because it contains half of what he asked for to fight the disease, and because it does so by draining money from other urgent priorities. But, honestly now, babies are being born with severe birth defects, and this is seen as an opportunity to get back a fight you’ve already lost?

That’s not governing. That’s a talk show.

As of mid-June, per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, at least “Three women in the U.S. mainland infected with the Zika virus have delivered infants with birth defects and three others have lost or terminated pregnancies because their fetuses suffered brain damage from the virus”.

States have been scrambling to find funds for Zika prevention efforts, resorting to stealing it from other programs. At least one Republican, Rep. Ted Poe (Texas) complained that his district wasn’t getting enough Zika funding from the CDC — even as he personally voted to cut the agency’s funding.

And the women most likely to be affected are, of course, those least likely to be able to protect themselves.

Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that the GOP Talibangelicals and their enablers would actually be judged under the religious standards they profess, because it wouldn’t be the biblical Heaven to which the Jesus described in their holy book sent them.



Texas flim flam loses

A 5-3 decision ruled that HB-2 in Texas is an unconstitutional burden on the ability of women to access legal pre-viability abortions in Texas.

A lot more from lawyers later.

The quick consensus is that complete and utter bullshit claims that restricting abortion access through running providers through the ringer are under serious threat. The Ginsburg concurrence hints that TRAAP laws (Targeted Regulation Against Abortion Providers) should be assumed to be unconstitutional. The longer term policy and advocacy goal should be to have a standard in place that anything that treats abortion providers differently than providers of other services of roughly similar risk (mole removal for instance) is an unconstitutional burden.



Open Thread: Sweet Childhood Memories Profaned!!!

I never got around to seeing the original Ghostbusters, so it’s hard for me to understand why keeping it a precious, stand-alone trophy is so very important to certain critics. (I mean, I was just as outraged by the indecencies Disney committed against one of my iconic creators with the first Jungle Book, but I was still in middle school then.) This is pretty funny, though: In McSweeneys, Samuel Priest explains “No, I Don’t Dislike the New Ghostbusters Movie Because I Hate Women — It’s Because I Strongly Believe In Hollywood Finance Reform”

Of course we’re ready for a comedy-action movie with female leads. And of course, we’re overdue… but I think we need to wait for the RIGHT new Ghostbusters movie, not just ANY Ghostbusters movie. The women in the new Ghostbusters movie have a lot of good comedy experience, yes, of course. But over the last 20 years, I can find a few examples of them not being funny, especially when you take those moments out of context.

Now, if Elizabeth Warren and Jill Stein and Michelle Obama make a new Ghostbusters in a hypothetical four or eight years from now, I could get behind that idea. That vague notion that wouldn’t hold up under any scrutiny for a variety of reasons is CLEARLY a better option than this new Ghostbusters movie made by competent people that’s seemingly ready to be shown any minute now.

I also know a couple women who would agree with me on the things I’m saying, so again, I think that proves I’m not sexist or misogynist. This new Ghostbusters movie just isn’t for me and I think everything should be for me. Will this movie just existing inspire young women to get involved with making their own Ghostbusters movies at state and local theater levels? I don’t know, is representation in media and government even important?…

And you can tell it’s unbiased and nonpartisan, because it was written by a man.



The Oink Factor

chill women

Congrats to Senator Bernie Sanders for his trio of yoooodge caucus victories yesterday! It’ll be interesting to see how the primary shakes out in places like Pennsylvania and New York, the latter of which Sanders and Clinton can both plausibly claim as home turf.

Interesting piece at TPM from Josh Marshall about the likelihood that women voters will hand Trump a crushing defeat if he’s the nominee. I think Marshall is onto something.

Nothing is certain in this wild and weird election year. But bone-deep misogyny is one of the few things Trump has been consistent about throughout his career. And if it turns out that a woman is all that stands between him and the ultimate power-grab, I don’t think he has the discipline to avoid going full-blown sexist pig. It’s his nature.

Anyhoo. Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Did you get anything good in your baskets?

Open thread!



Open Thread: Judged

After the Male Punditocracy decided last night to remind Hillary Clinton that there is nothing more important for a woman than presenting an appealing facade, I’ll admit this made me LOL:

Speaking of appearances, His Royal Vulgarity decided he didn’t wish to do any more debates, and Fox News meekly acquiesced.

Imagine the universal media outrage if Clinton announced “I think we’ve had enough debates. How many times can the same people ask you the same question?”



The Supreme Court thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on the Supreme Court vacancy as my kids are slowly quieting down for the night.

First, a 4-4 court from a liberal perspective is no worse than the current situation.  Crappy decisions like the DACA decision out of the 5th Circuit will continue to be affirmed.  However the affirmation will be on because the court can not come to a majority decision therefore the appeals court ruling holds only for that circuit and not for the nation.  Questions coming out of liberal rulings in the appeals courts where the four liberal votes are voting to uphold and where there is a conservative swing vote (Kennedy or Roberts most likely) do not change in their outcome as the alignment would be a 5-3  or 6-2 ruling with a clear majority.  The cases where Scalia would have been a member of a five person majority are the cases that are now being tossed back to the appeals courts as unresolved.

As of this year, most of the Appeals circuits including the DC circuit have a Democratic appointed judge majority.  Cases which were granted cert from these circuits and would have been 5-4 reactionary judgments will be kicked back to the circuits.  Those circuits will either have ruled with fairly liberal judges on the initial ruling or if the case was important enough and the randomly selected appeals panel was significantly out of line with the circuit consensus, en banc hearings would have final say.

If there is a long stretch of an 8 member court that can’t decide anything controversial, I predict that there will be a significantly higher number of en banc hearings conducting mini-reversals.  The probability of a Supreme Court bench-slapping goes down dramatically.

Now onto healthcare.  There are only two major healthcare cases on the docket right now.  The first case is a technical discussion as to whether or not ERISA pre-emption regulations prohibit states from requiring self-insured companies from providing data to all payer claims databases.  I don’t know if this was lining up to be a 5-4 decision nor what the configuration would have been.  My preference is that the Supreme Court rules that all payer claims databases can require self-insured companies to submit data without running afoul of ERISA.

The other major healthcare case is the Little Sisters of the Poor et al.   This is a birth control cases for religiously affiliated non-profits that think the mere act of signing a piece paper that states birth control is icky and the damn sluts should have the risk of pregnancy every time they spread their legs is an infringement on their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  This is a continuation of the line of logic that powered Hobby Lobby but it attacks the work-around that a third party administrator pays for birth control instead of the employer sponsor of the plan.  This would have been a priori a 5-4 loss for PPACA and the notion that female reproductive autonomy is between a woman and her doctor.  Now it is most likely a 4-4 case where the appeals courts have been slapping down the argument that the Little Sisters and others are making: signing a piece of paper is too much effort on their part.

As far as nominations, the only scenario where a nominee to the right of Atilla the Hun goes through is if by mid-May early polling and indicators show that the Democrats will most likely hold onto the White House and pick up at least four if not five or six Senate seats in November.  At that point, the calculation could be that from a policy perspective, a Republican majority in the Senate could not get any better than having some say in a nominee instead of seeing a Democratic president nominate a choice constrained by Manchin instead of Grassley and a 51 or 53 vote Democratic Senate effectively say that if the Republicans want to run the Senate like Parliament, then by god they’ll get that.



Excellent Read: “Progressive”

Much as I agreed with Sady Doyle’s post, I wasn’t going to front-page it until a commentor on a late-night thread here expressed great astonishment that calling someone “hysterical” could possibly be construed as sexist. But I can attest, from personal experience, that male Progressives can be… well…

… “We’re a progressive site,” the man across the table begins, “And our readership, as with most progressive sites, is mostly men. You’ve focused a lot on women’s issues. Would you be comfortable writing something that men would be able to read?”

I’m silent for a second. I keep smiling — always smile at the job interview — but I cannot speak. Largely because I believe that what I just heard cannot possibly be what he really said. I misinterpreted something. I missed a word, misheard a word. He can’t actually be telling me that I would have to stop being so feminist to get a job at his “progressive” site. Or that “progressive” media is mostly for men.

“I read your most recent article,” he adds, helpfully. “That seemed very sympathetic to the male character.”

Okay. So I heard him right…

“Secretary Clinton, first ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse,” the moderator says. “But they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor. I know you think you know where I’m going here.”

I watch Hillary Clinton’s face. She smiles. You always smile at the job interview. She smiles like a motherfucker, that woman.

She smiles while she assures the moderator that she won’t make her husband do stupid lady things like – ick! – decorating. She smiles while assuring the world she won’t forsake her duty as a woman, that she will still “pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that.” She smiles while answering the question of whether female Presidents are fundamentally unnatural, whether she is fundamentally unnatural, whether electing her will emasculate not only Bill Clinton but the nation itself. And she has been the second-most popular Secretary of State in history, and she has been the member of the Obama administration with the highest approval rating, and she has been one of the most liberal Senators in Congress, and she has been an early pioneer whose work laid the ground for both CHIP and eventually Obamacare, and she has been one of the single most visible advocates for feminism globally and in the United States since the mid-90s, and she has done the work, the basic work level of the work, the coming-in-when-you’re-sick-don’t-be-late-don’t-take-a-vacation work, and she still has to answer this fucking question – the one that’s not about her, but about her gender; the one that’s not about policy, but whether she could govern in a way men can accept – but smiling is just what you do, if you’re a woman, and a feminist, and you have to field questions like these. You don’t challenge the premises. You don’t tell them to fuck off. You let them test you to see if you’re an angry feminist, and you pass the test by letting them insult you to your face and not getting angry. Because after everything you’ve done, everything you’ve fought for, that’s still what most men want to know. They want to know they can insult you and get away with it. They won’t work with you if they can’t.

Hillary Clinton lets them insult her with a smile on her face, because she wants the job. Because there is no way to just flip a table, throw the coffee, walk out of this bitch in protest, and get the job she wants. There never is. Not for her, not for me, not for any of us. She smiles…

I know some of you remember Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, and the intense vitriol directed at Anita Hill and every other woman who cautioned that Thomas would be a terrible, terrible choice. One of the things I remember is how astonished a lot of otherwise thoughtful, progressive men — and quite a few less-thoughtful, unprogressive ones as well — were, to discover the level of mistreatment and abuse that women in the workplace were exposed to as a matter of course. Their wives, their moms, their daughters: The women who never said anything about the filthy ‘jokes’ and the body-touching and the assumption that every woman (whatever her credentials or gifts or relationships) could be, should be, treated like a barely-housebroken domestic animal whose only real value was its sexual attractiveness.

Anita Hill failed to deter the revanchists determined to put Clarence Thomas on the only Supreme Court we have, but when she spoke up, she changed the conversation around “sexual harrassment in the workplace.” And whether or not Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected President in November (and I most sincerely hope she is), she’s already changing the conversation around whether “feminist” is a component to any genuine use of the word “progressive”.