Saturday, September 26, 2015

Last Call For The Ref Works Back

Washington Post political "journalist" Chris Cillizza sure as hell doesn't like getting called out by those grubby plebes at Media Matters, and tries to defend the four dozen plus articles he's written attacking Hillary Clinton for her e-mail "scandal".  Instead, all he does is peel back the curtain on the Village's long knives out for her, 2015 Edition.

I didn't check Media Matters's math, but I'm sure it's either right or close to right. I have written lots and lots of blog posts about Hillary Clinton's e-mail issues since the story came to light in March. And I stand by every one.

Here's why:

1. Hillary Clinton began this race as the biggest non-incumbent front-runner for a party's presidential nomination in the post-World War II era. The job she held just prior to running for president was as secretary of state. The best way to understand how she handles everything from the mundane day-to-day activities of governance to the crises that present themselves from time to time is by studying not just her public actions at the State Department but the thinking behind those decisions. Her e-mails provide a written record of how she thinks, who she relies on and how she navigates sticky situations. Her e-mails are essential to who she is. And, therefore, very much worth looking into -- and writing about.

So Cillizza is saying that her emails themselves are newsworthy, no matter what she actually said in them.  I don't recall Cillizza applying the same logic to Mitt Romney's emails from his time as Governor of Massachusetts, or to Barack Obama's emails as Senator from Illinois or John McCain's emails as Senator from Arizona.  What about the emails of Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham? Aren't those "essential to who they are" as candidates too?  What about Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, or Donald Trump?

Or does that only apply to Clinton in Cilizza's world?

2. No secretary of state has ever used a private e-mail server exclusively. For all of Clinton's insistence that this was standard operating procedure for government officials, it wasn't. Yes, lots and lots of government officials have used both a government e-mail address and a private e-mail address. None before Clinton had used only a private server. That makes what she did anomalous -- and worth paying attention to.

Again, the issue is "how much attention is that anomaly actually worth", especially since there are multiple candidates running with no government service whatsoever and who have used private email servers too.  That's anomalous but not illegal in any way. Singling out Clinton for this treatment is ridiculous, especially when you consistently imply wrongdoing.

3. The story about the e-mail server has changed. Repeatedly. When Clinton acknowledged the existence of the server back in March -- following a New York Times report revealing it -- she insisted that the private server need not be examined by a third party. She (finally) turned it over last month. She said that the handing over of the e-mails was a procedure that all former and current secretaries of state were undergoing at the same time. But, as reporting from The Post this week showed, the State Department specifically requested Clinton's e-mails after they realized she had used private e-mail exclusively. It wasn't until months later that requests for documents was made of other former secretaries of state. A story that keeps changing like that bears further analysis and investigation.

Again, the response to that is the same for point #2:  That's anomalous but not illegal in any way. Singling out Clinton for this treatment is ridiculous, especially when you consistently imply wrongdoing.  Enforcement of that is on the Obama administration and not Clinton.  It's not worth 50 articles attacking her for it.

4. I write a blog. I write a lot of posts. On Friday, for example, I wrote three blog posts and did a live online chat. This is not to brag (quantity doesn't always mean quality). It is to say that 50 posts that mention "Hillary Clinton" and "e-mails" between March and mid-September sound like a ton, but they're really not. I guarantee you that I have written more than 50 posts about Donald Trump in that time.
I understand that organizations like Media Matters exist to work the referees. And, I also understand that plenty of people who are sympathetic to Clinton -- and maybe even some who are not -- think the e-mail server is a non-issue. But, I would ask you to think of this: If this controversy -- with the exact same circumstances -- was centered on a former Republican secretary of state who was the frontrunner for the GOP's nod, would you still think it was unfair?

And here's the heart of the issue.  Cillizza complains that Media Matters is "working the refs" and that he is an impartial journalist, while admitting that he's a pundit that analyzes the news and gives his opinions on what is important enough to report.

You cannot have it both ways, Chris.  And you especially cannot claim impartiality after your years in your position at the Washington Post.

And The Last One Could Fall

Things are looking very grim for Greater Cincinnati as a million women are going to be without abortion services thanks to John Kasich.

State officials today moved to close down two more abortion clinics, including the last one in the Cincinnati area.

The Ohio Department of Health rejected variance requests for the Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio clinic in the Mount Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati and the Women’s Med Center of Dayton. The variances were denied by health Director Richard Hodges because they do not have “written transfer agreements” for patients in case of emergency.

The clinics have 30 days to appeal or face closure.

Closure of both clinics would reduce the number of abortion providers in Ohio to seven; eight have closed in the past five years.

The health department said in a statement that state law requires abortion providers to have a written transfer agreement with a hospital “to assist when emergencies arise. ODH is denying the variances to protect the health of patients in the facilities. The proposed variances would not provide for adequate clinical coverage to protect patients during an emergency situation.”

The agency determined that variances requested by the clinics “did not meet or exceed the level of patient protection that is essential.”

The facilities will be allowed to continue operating during the appeal process.

As I've said before, Cincinnati would be the largest metropolitan area in the the country without a single abortion provider if these closures are finalized.  So unless the federal courts step in here, by the end of the year you may not be able to get an abortion in a metro area of 2.1 million people.

And you can thank the "moderate" John Kasich and his War on Women for that.

The NC GOP Car-Go Cult

North Carolina Republicans have gotten their budget passed into law by GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, and the big news is a new massive tax increase on auto and home repairs and maintenance on those who can afford it the least, tax money that will go to NC's mostly Republican rural counties and won't raise a dime for urban counties like where I grew up in Catawba County.

Next spring when a single mother in Newton takes her old car in for an oil change, she will be in for quite a surprise. It is going to cost her 6.75 percent more thanks to the budget passed by the House and Senate and endorsed by Gov. Pat McCrory that for the first time imposes a sales tax on car repairs and services. 
If she returns home to find that her washing machine isn’t working, it’s going to cost her more to have it fixed. The budget applies the sales tax to appliance repairs, too. 
If she somehow scrapes the money together to buy a new washer instead, she better pick it up herself as it will cost her more to have it delivered. The budget adds the sales tax to deliveries. 
And she may also be surprised to learn that none of the extra money she will have to pay to fix her car or washing machine will stay in her county to help her daughter’s school or improve the local roads. 
Instead, it will go to another county as part of a scheme inserted into the final budget agreement that expands the sales tax to a host of commonly used services with the proceeds directed to a special fund that benefits 79 counties, while 21 mostly urban and tourist counties receive nothing
So not only will folks in Newton in Catawba County pay higher taxes and see none of the benefits, so will folks in places like Brunswick County and Cabarrus County as well as Durham and Winston-Salem and Charlotte. 
Everyone in the state will pay more the next time they have their shoes resoled or their flat tire fixed. And the majority of the people who pay the extra tax will not see it go to improve their local communities.

And guess what these 21 counties having their tax money taken all have in common?  If you said "A significantly higher percentage of black and Hispanic residents and college students" then you win!

So yes, it's literally tax money taken from the poorest people in my home state's largest Democratic stronghold cities to give to whiter, more Republican counties by state law, all for the purpose of giving the wealthiest one percent in North Carolina a huge income tax cut.

This is what Republicans do, folks.  And the people back home keep voting for them.

Read more here:

The Plan For Planned Parenthood

Hillary Clinton gets a lot of crap over "campaign by focus group politics" and I don't honestly think that fair when that happens, but one issue that nobody can accuse her of wavering on is her unflinching support of Planned Parenthood. Clinton went on offense this week against Republicans trying to shut down the government over funding for the organization in a big way. Greg Sargent:

Clinton has defended Planned Parenthood before, but in the portion of the Des Moines Register interview in which she discussed the group, she telegraphed a more detailed response. Asked about the fetal tissue videos, Clinton immediately brushed off that part of the question, noting that fact-checkers had debunked claims (those made by Carly Fiorina) about the videos’ contents, suggesting that Republicans are “trying to inflame their base” against the group. She added:

“I will continue to defend Planned Parenthood, because services that Planned Parenthood provides are broad, and necessary for millions of American women. Five hundred thousand breast screening exams. A lot of other screening programs that are carried out. Family planning and contraceptive testing for HIV AIDS. 
“The Republicans have made it clear in recent years that they are not only opposed to abortion, which they have been for quite some time. They’re increasingly opposed to family planning and contraception. This is a direct assault on a woman’s right to choose health care. Forget about abortion, which is something that a limited number of Planned Parenthood facilities perform, with not a penny of federal money. 
“The money they want to cut off…is money that goes to health services. That is why it’s important that we continue to try to educate the public and draw a very clear line in defense of Planned Parenthood.” 
The Clinton camp appears to have calculated that an immediate pivot away from the videos and the controversial topic of abortion, and to the group’s role in providing a range of health services to women, is not hard to pull off. And that the politics of this battle are worse for Republicans over the long term, particularly for a general election.

This is absolutely the correct counter-attack Democrats should be making, and Clinton isn't the only one doing it of course, but she's arguably the most visible advocate for women right now for the Democrats, and she's doing the right thing.

Democrats need to make this argument, it's not about abortion or fetal tissue, it's about women, choices in their health care, and their bodies.

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