Since Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus introduced the “Growth and Opportunity Project” in mid-March, the party has proven over and over and over again that it just isn’t ready to change.
The latest example of the GOP being intellectually and politically stuck in the 2012 presidential primaries comes courtesy of one of the stars of those disastrous contests: former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. According to Santorum, the Republican Party’s path to revitalization is not a new round of engagement with women, young voters, and other groups that delivered an electoral landslide to President Barack Obama in November. No, Santorum has a different plan for saving the GOP: defunding Planned Parenthood.
The Raw Story reports that Santorum presented his three-point plan to save the party in a fundraising email over the weekend: mobilizing “pro-family conservatives,” “refuting the lies and half-truths that our detractors in the GOP are spreading about us,” and attacking the women’s’ health care provider.
“[W]e are going to push Republican congressional leaders to defund the monstrosity that is Planned Parenthood,” Santorum wrote. “Too many in the GOP want to ignore the millions of innocent lives that have been extinguished by this vile organization. Defunding Planned Parenthood is a winning issue. The polls prove it.”
In reality, polls prove the exact opposite — Americans oppose cutting the organization’s budget, and there’s reason to believe that Mitt Romney’s insistence on attacking Planned Parenthood cost him dearly on election night — but it comes as no surprise that Santorum, who lost his last general election by 17 points, would ignore the numbers.
But Santorum’s plan could signal a serious problem for the Republican Party. Despite the RNC’s effort to moderate the GOP’s tone with an eye towards the 2016 election, it’s clear that extreme right-wing rhetoric will still play a major role as the party settles on a nominee. In fact, Santorum himself may be the messenger once again.
All of the rebranding efforts in the world — even the NRCC’s nifty new website, which features a BuzzFeed-style “13 Animals That Are Really Bummed About Obamacare” listicle (but almost no mention of the word “Republican”) — won’t make a difference as long as the party is represented by ambassadors like Rick Santorum.
By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, April 8, 2013
It’s hard to overstate just how dire the situation is around women’s health care in Texas. The state has the third highest rate of cervical cancer in the country and one in four women are uninsured. After cutting family-planning funding by around two-thirds last legislative session, conservative lawmakers are now standing by their decision to cut off Planned Parenthood from the state’s Women’s Health Program, a move that ended $35 million in federal funding. (Here’s a timeline of the fight.) Governor Rick Perry, who bragged about the decision at the recent CPAC conference, has said he’ll find the money to keep the program—while still barring Planned Parenthood. No one seems to know exactly where he’ll find the money, given that the state has already underfunded Medicaid by $4 billion last session.
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood, which serves 40 percent of the 130,000 who rely on the Women’s Health Program, has already had to shut down more than a dozen clinics. Non-Planned Parenthood clinics, which may still be eligible for the program if the governor finds the money, are also struggling due to the drastic budget cuts to the program, and soon they may face increased demand. In spite of it all, women’s health advocates promise this fight is just beginning.
More than 300 protesters arrived on Tuesday to welcome Planned Parenthood’s “Women’s Health Express” bus (or as the organization’s president Cecile Richards calls it, the “don’t-throw-women-under-the-bus bus.”) After stopping at cities around the state, the entourage arrived across from the state capitol to protest new policies. It was diverse, both in terms of age and ethnicity, as were the speakers on stage, almost all of whom were female. It was also the second protest of the day—100 women showed up earlier as part of a weekly protest against the decision called “Seeing Red.”
The signs were quite creative. Planned Parenthood had some stating “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” or “No to metas con las mujeres de Tejas.” Then there were the homemade ones: “Dump Anita’s Husband” “Perry screws 130,000 women so who’s the slut?” and, possibly the funniest, “If men could get pregnant, birth control would be available in gumball machines.”
The program featured women who used the Women’s Health Program. At first, Delia Henry read nervously from a script, telling her story of relying on Planned Parenthood for information about her sexual health when her single father was too embarrassed to talk to her. Later, as part of the Women’s Health Program, she discovered she had diabetes during a routine blood test. “This program saved my life,” she said to applause.
In the crowd were women with similar stories. Sarah Jeansonne was there with her two daughters, explaining to them that politicians were trying to take away health care for women. The issue was hardly just politics for her. “It was a public clinic that told me I was pregnant with this one,” she said, caressing her daughter’s blonde hair. “It wasn’t planned. What if that wasn’t there?” She began to tear up.
“We all used Planned Parenthood at one time,” Jeansonne’s friend Kelly Taggle said. “Something has to fill in the gaps.”
The program featured everything from country singers to the Austin mayor, but undoubtedly the crowd favorite was state Representative Dawna Dukes, in red patent leather pumps to show she was “seeing red.” Dukes began with a story of getting excited to speak at her church, founded by her grandmother and where all her siblings had been married. Then she was told she could not speak. At first it was out of fear the church would appear to favor one candidate over another. “I’m unopposed,” she told the crowd.
Later, she said, the church called her back to tell her the U.S. Congress of Bishops barred her from speaking because she supported the Women’s Health Program on her website.
“I’m mad as hell,” she thundered. “I have not the time to go round and round and neither do Texas women.”
Dukes excoriated the governor, pointing out that the state’s Legislative Budget Board, the independent board that runs the state’s calculations, had called the program the most cost effective in Texas and recommended it be expanded. While Perry blames the Obama administration for the change in rules, Dukes was quick to point out that the rules for the program were conceived in 2007, under then-President George W. Bush. “Don’t blame Barack,” she said as the crowd cheered. “Blame your stupid recommendations under the Capitol dome!”
By the time Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards took the stage, the clapping was pretty much nonstop. Richards kept her remarks short. “We do more to prevent unintended pregnancies than any organization in the country,” she said, a frequent point among the speakers.
Then she moved to politics. “We’re the biggest tent,” she said. “By God, women’s health care does not come with a political label.”
We talked yesterday about the latest conservative activism against the Girl Scouts: Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris’ (R) strident opposition to the group, which he believes has been “radicalized” to promote abortion and homosexuality. Morris added that he believes the Girl Scouts have been “subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values.”
After controversial remarks by one Republican lawmaker attacking Girl Scouts as a radical group that supports abortion, House Speaker Brian Bosma made his feelings clear Tuesday, one Thin Mint cookie at a time.
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, pointedly offered Girl Scout cookies throughout the day and munched them as he presided over the House. [...]
Bosma … clearly wanted people to know he didn’t share Morris’ views. At one point Tuesday, he told House colleagues he had “purchased 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies in the last 48 hours.”
And when time came for the House to adjourn, he asked all lawmakers who had been Girl Scouts — and seemingly every female legislator stood — to give the daily motion to adjourn.
When a conservative Republican state House Speaker is making fun one of his own caucus’ members, it’s clear even the GOP in a reliably-red state was embarrassed by Morris’ antics.
For his part, Morris was asked for proof yesterday to support his claim that the Girl Scouts support abortion rights. “They’re not against it,” he said. “If you’re not against it, you’re for it.”
Deana Potterf, director of communications for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star that the organization does not address issues regarding homosexuality, abortion and sex. “Any kind of those issues are best left to the girls to talk with their families about,” Potterf said.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 22, 2012
Girl Scouts: “A Radicalized Organization Promoting Homosexual Lifestyles And Funding Planned Parenthood”
Next time you buy a box of Tagalongs, you might be helping to fund an abortion.
Or, at least, that’s what one Republican lawmaker in Indiana might have you believe. State Rep. Bob Morris (R) wants to kill a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts because they are a “radicalized organization” that promotes “homosexual lifestyles” and funds Planned Parenthood.
In a letter to his fellow Republicans on Saturday, Morris said he would refuse to support a resolution celebrating 100 years of the organization because “after talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing.”
The letter, obtained by the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, says that the Girl Scouts of America and the World Association of Girl Guides “have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood,” though “you will not find evidence of this on the GSA/WAGGGS website—in fact, the websites of these two organizations explicitly deny funding Planned Parenthood.”
“Nonetheless, abundant evidence proves that the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood,” Morris wrote. “Planned Parenthood instructional series and pamphlets are part of the core curriculum at GSA training seminars.”
He continues that the Girl Scouts also let in boys “who decide to claim a ‘transgender’ or cross-dressing life-style” and, in general, promote being gay. “Many parents are abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles,” Morris said. “In fact, the Girl Scouts education seminar girls are directed to study the example of role models. Of the fifty role models listed, only three have a briefly-mentioned religious background – all the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists.”
“As members of the Indiana House of Representatives, we must be wise before we use the credibility and respect of the ‘Peoples’ House’ to extend legitimacy to a radicalized organization,” he continued. “The Girl Scouts of America stand in a strong tradition that reflects with fidelity the traditional values of our homes and our families.”
Cathy Ritchie, of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, laughed off Morris when she heard about his letter. “I think perhaps he hasn’t done all of his research,” Ritchie told Eagle Country Online. “There is no relationship between Girls Scouts of the U.S.A. or Girl Scouts of Central Indiana to Planned Parenthood.”
Morris was the only one to refuse to sign the resolution, the Associated Press reports.
This is not the first time the Girl Scouts have been accused of a nefarious liberal agenda. In December, Fox News and some right-wing bloggers charged them with being part of a lefty conspiracy because of a section in the Girl Scouts’ media guide that advises readers to use sites like MediaMatters (“clearly a lefty blog,” as Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends put it) to fact-check what they read on the Internet.
By: Jillian Rayfield, Talking Points Memo, February 21, 2012
If you’re a woman from Texas—or indeed, any woman—there’s a lot to dislike about Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry reminds me of the scene in Thelma and Louise in which Thelma (Geena Davis) says of her n’er-do-well husband, “He kind of prides himself on being infantile.” Louise (Susan Sarandon) responds, “He’s got a lot to be proud of.”
So as we all prepare for the media barrage surrounding Perry’s presidential announcement on Saturday, and in tradition of my idol Molly Ivins, I’m going to start a new group, Texas Women Enraged by Rick Perry—TWERP for short.
As TWERP’s organizer, I feel obliged to point out that on a practical level, Rick Perry has made it pretty lousy for women in Texas, especially for women at the bottom of the economic ladder. He’s also made it pretty lousy for anybody who doesn’t look like him. As Eileen Smith wrote in the Texas Observer, “In just one session, Republicans managed to screw children, women, gays, immigrants, teachers, the elderly, Hispanics, the unemployed and the uninsured. The only people who got off easy were white guys. Can’t imagine why.”
The numbers tell the tale. Texas is dead last in the number of non-elderly women without health insurance, and 6th nationally in the percentage of women in poverty, according to the Texas Legislative Study Group. One in five Texas children lack health insurance, the highest rate in the nation. And if that weren’t bad enough, Perry tried to opt out of Medicaid, which provides healthcare to the most vulnerable Texas populations, including pregnant women and children.
When it comes to reproductive healthcare, the state budget guts family planning, leaving 284,000 Texas women without birth control or access to basic reproductive healthcare. This will also likely increase the abortion rate, sonograms or no sonograms. And of course there’s the standard right wing assault on Planned Parenthood. Women needing prenatal care fare no better.
As reported in the Texas Tribune, “Texas has the worst rate of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester, according to the report commissioned by the Legislative Study Group…And though Texas has the highest percent of its population without health insurance, the state is 49th in per capita spending on Medicaid, and dead last in per capita spending on mental health, according to the report.”
So if you’re a working class Texas woman, Rick Perry doesn’t want you to have access to birth control or reproductive healthcare to prevent unintended pregnancy, but once you’re pregnant the state mandates a sonogram and a lecture to convince you of the error of your ways. After that sonogram and lecture, if you need prenatal care, you’re SOL. And once the baby is born, Texas is 47th in monthly benefit payments under the Women, Infants, & Children program, which provides nutrition assistance.
This is Rick Perry’s vision for women in the United States. Limited healthcare, little birth control, low income women and kids left to fend for themselves, a bunch of bureaucrats telling you what to do—and the very real human suffering that goes along with it. TWERP might be an understatement.
By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, August 11, 2011