Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last Call For The GOP Big Tent

Benjy Sarlin, over at his new MSNBC.com digs, discusses the GOP view on immigration, and the growing backlash against Latinos that goes something like "All we have to do is increase white voter turnout by being a bunch of nativist pricks."

This will probably sound a little odd if you were watching TV on election night 2012. Romney won 59% of the white vote in exit polls, better than President Bush’s 58% in 2004. Unfortunately for Romney, the white share of the electorate declined from 79.2% to 73.7 % over the same period. The result: Obama won by an even bigger margin than Bush did thanks to blowout margins with minorities.

But conservative commentators are convincing themselves they can find a few million more whites tucked between the couch cushions–at least enough for one more election. Two columnists have been particularly influential in this regard. Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has argued that census data shows about 5 million mostly poor and rural white voters were “projected” to vote in 2012 based on population growth and past turnout but didn’t show up to the polls. Byron York, a columnist at the Washington Examiner, published a related piece noting that Romney would have lost even if he had racked up a majority of Latino voters.

“Recent reports suggest as many as 5 million white voters simply stayed home on Election Day,” York wrote in May. “If they had voted at the same rate they did in 2004, even with the demographic changes since then, Romney would have won.”

The problem is there’s no way Romney would have won all 5 million of those whites, so Obama’s lead would have held. But if Obama had failed to replicate his 2008 performance with minority voters and Romney had matched Bush’s 2004 performance with whites, the GOP could have narrowly prevailed. This was the exact scenario Romney was shooting for.

So yes, expect Republicans to be even more racists towards minorities over the next 41 months.

Cash In, Kerry

Jeffrey Goldberg, over at Bloomberg, makes the least courageous pundit call ever: that Secretary of State John Kerry is wasting his time trying to negotiate anything with Israel and the Palestinians (just like pretty much every other US Secretary of State.)

The delusion at hand is that Kerry will succeed where numerous secretaries of state have failed, and succeed in what might be the most inauspicious moment in years to start new negotiations: The Middle East is erupting all around Israel, which makes even centrist and some left-leaning Israelis fear the idea of tangible territorial concessions; the Palestinian Authority is weaker than ever; the two territories that would make up the future state of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) are divided between the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas and the more moderate Fatah; and the Israeli Cabinet is under the de facto control of the settlement movement, which continues to expand its holdings on the West Bank.

But maybe I’m just a cynic. I called Ari Shavit, Israel’s leading columnist and a man who very much wants to see a Palestinian state created on the West Bank, to ask him if my bleakness was unjustified. “I’m just this moment putting the Champagne bottles in the fridge,” he said. “I expect to open them shortly. We’re all going to have special permission from the Muslim Brotherhood to drink Champagne.”

Shavit’s withering sarcasm wasn’t matched by contempt for Kerry, though. Like many Israelis, Shavit has a strange kind of respect for Kerry’s quixotic efforts. “Kerry is a decent, noble American trying to bring peace to a tormented land and a troubled region, and I salute him for his benign intentions and commitment and energy,” Shavit said. “But that said, I think this good will and energy and political capital is being invested in a course of action that resembles too much the previous attempts that have failed. I think the right approach is to learn from the failures of the past and to do something practical that relates to the realities on the ground rather than reach for something that is totally unrealistic. There is no serious Israeli or Palestinian who thinks that the Kerry approach would work.” 

Even I've got to say that with Egypt's government collapsing into a possible military coup in real time, that John Kerry has much, much bigger problems on his hands than another useless attempt at shuttle diplomacy right now.

The good news is he's basically next door to Egypt right now as the deadline for Morsi's resignation quickly approaches, so perhaps the most obvious benefit is that American diplomacy is on the ground where it actually might be able to do some good.

We'll see.

The Reality In Ohio Now

Gov. Kasich's budget and abortion bill is now law, and here's what Ohio women now face from "small government conservatives".

The Republican Party continues to hack away at reproductive rights around the country--and Ohio is the latest place to be targeted by anti-abortion forces. Governor John Kasich signed the state budget Sunday night--and included in the budget are a number of measures that would restrict abortion rights in the state. It was signed over the objections of protesters who descended on the state legislature.

“Wait until the first women dies; wait until the first doctor leaves Ohio,”warned one protester.

But the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life praised the legislation. “It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them,” said Mike Gonidakis, the president of the group.

Compassion?  Here's your "compassion", courtesy of the anti-choice movement:

  • Gag orders on rape clinics counseling abortion options.
  • Forced trans-abdominal ultrasounds.
  • Planned Parenthood loses all state funding, $1.4 million, and that's being given to religious "crisis pregnancy centers" instead, who often provide false medical information about abortions.
  • Clinics cannot transfer patients post-abortion to public hospitals.
  • Doctors are forced to reveal how much money they make from providing abortion services, and must counsel women on adoption and crisis pregnancy options.

The virtual (and in some cases, actual) criminalization of failure to birth a child after pregnancy continues in the US.  And let's not forget that the bill redefines the legal status of "pregnancy" and "fetus" to mean that IUDs are now technically abortions, meaning any woman who wants to get or keep an IUD now has to face all these restrictions, including the waiting period, counseling, and an ultrasound because they are "pregnant" under state law.   

It's entirely conceivable that the morning after pill (Plan B) and even birth control medication could qualify as "ending a pregnancy" under these legal definitions, meaning -- you guessed it -- you'd be required to go through all the ridiculous hoops for abortions just to get Plan B or the pill.

And Ohio Republicans tacked all this on to the budget without a single minute of debate.  And "moderate" Gov. John Kasich, who could have line-item vetoed any or all of these provisions, let the entire raft of them through without comment.

This is your modern GOP, folks.  They despise women to the point of criminalizing them.

This is the reality in Ohio right now.


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