All Politics Are Personal

During the House debate concerning Planned Parenthood, Representative Jackie Speier schooled her colleagues about abortion – and in the process, discussed her own.

The California Democrat’s disclosure is being characterized as a “revelation” that “stunned” fellow members of the House. The Huffington Post applauds her undeniable chutzpah, and so do I. Rep. Speier’s three-minute speech was pointed, succinct, and powerful. Her outrage at the GOP’s crusade to defund Planned Parenthood is palatable, and that makes her words that much stronger.

In Curtis Sittenfield’s novel American Wife, a fictionalized account of Laura Bush’s life, there is a subplot concerning abortion. Towards the end of the book, a main character grapples with what it would mean to reveal her long-ago choice. Is it something that she “owes” other women? Can one person’s experience influence the decisions and opinions of others? Should it? And why shouldn’t a private medical decision remain just that – private?

Watching Rep. Speier’s speech, I was reminded of those questions. Because even as I applaud and admire her action, I’m saddened that abortion holds such a firm position on the third rail of society that sharing a personal experience is still considered a notable act. Even when the woman talking about her abortion is not doing so from the floor of the House of Representatives – even if it’s your roommate sitting in her dorm room or your girlfriend talking in a bar or your best friend confiding over coffee – she’s still doing something so uncommon that her words take on a weight and meaning that might be outsize compared to reality.  [Read more...]

Federal Taxes and GOP Hypocrisy

So this isn’t really the high road as far as opinions go, but here it is: the GOP is really pissing me off! Thankfully, I take blood pressure meds, so I haven’t had a stroke or anything. But they really, really, really make me mad! Of course, they have for a while. Lately, though, there has been a huge spike on the Mrs. Pissed o’ Meter.

It really started with the Stupak amendment. I won’t belabor the point, you all know what I’m talking about. Days of reading and listening to commentary on the subject haven’t helped. Especially hearing anti-choice congress people whine about forcing the taxpayers to pay for something the majority of us don’t agree with.

Well, assbag, here’s the problem with that: My tax dollars go to all sorts of things I don’t agree with. Its kind of part of paying taxes. I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER met anyone who pays taxes and doesn’t know of something they wish their money weren’t going towards. Period. Its part of living in a democracy.

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Abortion is a Red Herring in the Health Care Debate

uscapitol1Yesterday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee voted 13-10 for health care reform. The vote was predictably split along party lines, and Republicans voted unanimously against the health care reform package, even though Republicans had offered over 100 amendments to the bill. I’m sure each of the Republican members of the HELP committee will have several reasons for voting against the health care reform bill. But one thing is absolutely clear – GOP members were never going to vote for health care reform. Their efforts to pin this on abortion are just a red herring, an easy excuse for rejecting health care coverage for all Americans.

Today the House will begin amending and debating their version of the health care bill. GOP members are also unlikely to vote for it in the House. So don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. Each time the Republicans bring up abortion, they’re simply trying to split the Democratic vote – the Republicans were never going to support health care reform, with or without abortion coverage.

Sotomayor: Affirmative Action and Ginsberg

ginsburg_ap_163In a rare happening, a Supreme Court Nominee receives advance praise and welcome from sitting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. This a high compliment coming from the only woman currently on the court and one of the four remaining Justices we can count on to uphold the ruling to legalize abortion, Roe v. Wade. And, it should be noted that Ginsberg has mentioned more than once the importance of women justices on the court because they bring a perspective very different from male justices. Yet, still airing on the side of caution, we cannot logically deduce any of Sonia Sotomayor’s legal opinions on the right to privacy or on the legality of a woman’s right to choose from this casual endorsement. Bummer. 

In other news, with the Supreme Court nomination hearings due to start July 14, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says a filibuster is still an option on the table. With Al Franken’s race for Senate still held up in ballot recounts, the Democratic Senate is one senator shy of the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster. The Republican Party strategy for Sotomayor seems to be to postpone the approval of her nomination for as long as possible. At the very latest, we will need a replacement for Justice Souter’s seat by October when he will officially leave his post and the new annual session begins. Presumably, the GOP aims to stall while searching for more, or any, evidence against her that she is pro-choice, pro-gay, or just generally “empathetic” towards people she does not know. 

What is the latest outrage by the GOP against Sotomayor? Calling her a racist wasn’t good enough? Just as President Obama was degraded by republicans for being a political organizer, Sotomayor may now be raked over the coals for being an advocate of affirmative action. In 1994, Sotomayor is quoted promoting affirmative action, saying, “I am a product of affirmative action… I am the perfect affirmative action baby.” She also later acknowledges that she has also benefited from having her test scores overlooked, and admits that before attending Princeton and Yale, she probably did not have the highest score compared to all the applicants. With all the praise Sotomayor receives from respected members of today’s legal and scholarly communities, it cannot be said Sotomayor did not have the potential to become the accomplished doctor of jurisprudence she is today. And it makes one wonder: without an admissions committee slightly overlooking her scores, would Sotomayor have had the opportunity to be the first Latina, and third woman nominated to the Supreme Court?   

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