Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Last Call For Stopped In Their Tracks

Gov. John Kasich's plan to leave Cincinnati without a single surgical abortion provider has run into the court system and the last two clinics in southwestern Ohio will stay open for now.

A federal judge banned Ohio health officials from enforcing a strict new abortion law on Tuesday, until a lawsuit challenging it goes to trial next year.

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett issued a preliminary injunction against Ohio's abortion law, and allowed a clinic in Cincinnati and one in Dayton to stay open.

The clinics sued the state in September, after they feared closure by new abortion laws. If that happened, Cincinnati would have been the largest metropolitan area in the nation without a surgical abortion provider.

In his ruling, Barrett wrote the abortion clinics had “likelihood of success” moving forward with the case.

“An emergency is now stopped and now we can take a deep breath,” said Jennifer Branch, a civil rights lawyer for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s Mount Auburn clinic and Women’s Med Group’s Kettering clinic.

“Today, the court ruled in favor of Ohio women, ensuring access to safe and legal abortion,” said Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio. “This sends an important message to Ohio politicians that their unconstitutional attempts to restrict access to abortion will not stand. Patient safety is our top priority.”

Judge Barrett had issued a two-week restraining order against the Ohio GOP's abortion law on September 30th, otherwise the clinics would have closed on October 1. He said that he needed the time to investigate the merits of the case and whether or not closing the clinics would cause irreparable harm to Cincinnati and Dayton.  Now he's made his decision and the clinics in Dayton and Cincy can stay open.

This is a pretty huge win, frankly.   And the loser is Gov. John Kasich. Big time.

Nice, Boring Policy Discussions

The first Democratic candidate debate gets underway tonight as as Brian Beutler reminds us, compared to the GOP circus and all the clowns, the Democratic party affair is going to be almost boring by comparison

Relative to the two Republican presidential primary debates already behind us, Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate is expected to draw a modest TV audience. Back on January 31, 2008, when candidate Barack Obama was still a political phenom, CNN logged the most-watched presidential primary debate in its history to date, drawing an average of 8.3 million viewers. With the second Republican primary debate last month, the network nearly tripled that.

We surely have Donald Trump to thank for the disparity. Had he sat out the race this year, he would have deprived Fox News and CNN of his singular combination of fame, media savvy, insensitivity, and cringe-inducing combativeness. But even absent Trump, Republican primary debates would probably draw bigger audiences than their Democratic counterparts. It isn’t wrong or biased to say that Democrats make comparatively boring television. But that isn’t a strike against Democrats, either. It’s a reflection of the fact that the Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, is dominated by reactionary voters, which makes its candidates prone to saying or doing outrageous things out of a sense of necessity.
A similar dynamic prevailed in 2012, even absent a uniquely incorrigible figure like Trump on stage to channel the modern right-wing Id. The GOP primary debates back then teemed with anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and homophobic sentiment. On different occasions, conservative audience members booed a gay soldier and cheered the proposition that the uninsured poor should be left to die.

Many observers blamed the toxicity of those debates for dragging Mitt Romney into adopting unsupportable positions—including, most infamously, the view that U.S. policy should be made so inhospitable to immigrants that they’d voluntarily “self-deport.” But in hindsight it’s actually striking how little of the craziness stuck to him.

The contrast on display this week is an occasion to remember that the eventual Republican nominee will be the candidate representing the portion of the electorate that elicited these moments.

As Beutler says, the adults will be taking the stage tonight.  I'll be tuning in to see what they have to say.

Run Joe Run

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds half the nation's Democrats want Joe Biden in the race, but it doesn't mean they'd vote for him.

The results come as speculation surrounding Biden’s intentions has intensified, with reports having him close to a decision. The declared Democratic presidential candidates, including Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her closest rival, will take the stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas for the first party debate.

Biden will not be there, but 48 percent of Democrats surveyed in the Reuters poll wish he were a candidate, compared with 30 percent who said he should stay out. Independents were split on the question, with 36 percent saying Biden should stay in and an equal share believing otherwise.

But support for Biden’s entry into the race does not translate into equal passion for his candidacy. Just 17 percent of those surveyed said Biden would be their first choice, while 46 percent would back Clinton. Biden would also run behind Sanders, who remains the favorite of one fourth of Democrats surveyed.

Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida with Draft Biden, a political action committee established to lay the groundwork for a Biden run, said more voters would be likely to support Biden once he has officially launched a campaign.

“There’s an element of people – they know they like him, but they’re not willing to give him their vote yet,” Schale said.

I'm still undecided, frankly.  There are policy positions, past present, and future, that I like and dislike about all three candidates.  But count me in the group that wants Joe Biden in the race.


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