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“Trump Flunks Supreme Court Arithmetic”: Counting To Five Should Be Pretty Easy, Unless You’re Donald Trump

For the typical adult, counting to five should be pretty easy. It makes Donald Trump’s trouble with Supreme Court arithmetic that much more puzzling.

On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down arguably the most important abortion-rights ruling in a generation, prompting the Republican presidential hopeful to say … literally nothing. To the consternation of some of his social-conservative allies, Trump acted as if the court’s decision didn’t exist, offering no response in speeches, interviews, or social media.

It took a few days, but this morning the presumptive GOP nominee broke his unexpected silence in an interview with conservative radio host Mike Gallagher.

“Now if we had Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite.”

Actually, no, it wouldn’t have. This week’s ruling was actually a 5-3 decision. Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 +1 does not equal 5.

Remember, the decision was on Monday, and today’s Thursday. Trump and his team had three days to come up with the candidate’s response to a major court ruling, and this is what they came up with.

In the same interview, the New York Republican complained about Chief Justice John Roberts, telling the host, “He could’ve killed [the Affordable Care Act] twice and he didn’t. That was terrible. And that was a Bush appointment. That was so bad, what happened. And you know, to me, you know, almost not recoverable from his standpoint. Very, very sad situation.”

Actually, the second time the justices considered the constitutionality of “Obamacare,” the law was upheld in a 6-3 ruling. When Trump said today Roberts “could’ve killed” the ACA, his math is still wrong – because 6 – 1 does not equal four.

Do you ever get the impression that Trump hasn’t really thought this issue through? Ever wonder if there’s an issue he has thought through?

Postscript: Trump’s math troubles notwithstanding, the GOP candidate, who used to describe himself as pro-choice, continues to talk about how eager he is to restrict reproductive rights. In this morning’s interview, the host added, “So just to confirm, under a Donald, a President Donald Trump-appointed Supreme Court, you wouldn’t see a majority ruling like the one we had with the Texas abortion law this week.”

The candidate replied, “No, you wouldn’t see that.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 30, 2016

July 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, John Roberts, Reproductive Choice, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“State Passes Anti-Abortion Bill Described As ‘Insane'”: Don’t Policymakers In Oklahoma Have Real Work To Do?

Republican policymakers in Oklahoma are aware of the fact that they cannot simply ban all abortions. The Supreme Court has already considered flat prohibitions and deemed them unconstitutional.

Oklahoma’s GOP-led legislature has nevertheless concluded that it can ban doctors from performing abortions. Tulsa World reported today:

The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions in Oklahoma, despite a federal court case legalizing it.

Senate Bill 1552, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would also allow the revocation of medical licenses for physicians who perform abortions. The measure passed by a vote of 33-12 with no debate.

The article added that there’s one physician in the state Senate, Republican Ervin Yen, who characterized the legislation as an “insane” measure that would invariably face a court challenge.

Of course, it will first have to be signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who recently received some good advice from the editorial board of the New York Times: “For years, anti-abortion forces have relied on onerous regulations on providers to limit abortion services and lied about their true purpose because they know that a vast majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose and that the Supreme Court has affirmed that right for more than four decades. Governor Fallin would save everyone the time and expense of litigation by vetoing the bill.”

Keep in mind, by approving a policy that’s obviously unconstitutional, and which is certain to fail in the courts, state lawmakers are asking Oklahoma taxpayers to foot the bill for a political exercise that will serve no practical or policy purpose.

But just below the surface, there’s another nagging question: don’t policymakers in Oklahoma have real work to do? Why invest time and resources in a culture-war bill that will inevitably be struck down?

During a debate in the state House over the anti-abortion proposal, state Rep. David Brumbaugh (R) told his colleagues, “Everybody talks about [Oklahoma’s] $1.3 billion deficit. If we take care of the morality, God will take care of the economy.”

This, evidently, was the prevailing attitude, which is why Oklahoma will soon have an unconstitutional ban on doctors performing a legal medical procedure, but won’t have a balanced budget.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 19, 2016

May 21, 2016 Posted by | Abortion, Mary Fallin, Oklahoma, Reproductive Choice | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ted Cruz Tackles ‘The Condom Police'”: He’s Never Met “Any Conservative Who Wants To Ban Contraceptives”

Ted Cruz doesn’t usually stray too much from his usual campaign stump speech at various events, but last night in Iowa, NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard reported that the Texas Republican was asked about his position “on making contraception available for women.” Cruz seized the opportunity to share some unexpected rhetoric, calling the controversy surrounding Republicans and birth control “an utterly made-up nonsense issue.”

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” Cruz exasperatingly said to the rather boisterous crowd. “Like look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. You put 50 cents in – and voila!”

Cruz added that he expects Hillary Clinton to run against “the condom police” in order to “try to scare a bunch of folks that are not paying a lot of attention into thinking someone’s going to steal their birth control.”

And if there were only one form of birth control available to American consumers, Cruz would almost have a credible point. At the Iowa event, the senator said he’s never met “any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives” – Cruz might want to chat with Rick Santorum – but the Texan’s focus was exclusively on condoms.

Cruz is right that there is no “rubber shortage.” What he’s wrong about is, well, literally everything else.

Part of the problem is that Republicans sometimes seem surprised by descriptions of their own policies. In one of my favorite moments of the 2012 debates, President Obama argued “employers shouldn’t be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage. That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need.”

Mitt Romney scoffed at the very idea, responding, “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

Romney seemed repulsed by Obama’s description of Romney’s own position, but the truth of the matter was that both the Republican nominee and his running mate endorsed a policy that would leave contraception decisions for millions of workers in the hands of employers.

Cruz’s posture is similar, in that he seems baffled by Democratic rhetoric. If condoms are readily available, and there’s no meaningful effort to restrict their sales, why in the world are Democrats always running around complaining about a “war on women” and Republican hostility towards contraception?

The answer, of course, is that there are other forms of contraception, and women’s access to them would be curtailed by the GOP agenda.

Cruz really ought to know this. He not only personally voted against a measure to protect workers’ access to contraception, regardless of possible objections from their employers, but Cruz has also argued that he considers birth-control pills “abortifacients.”

What’s more, the Texas senator has endorsed a “Personhood” policy, which would have the practical effect of banning common forms of birth control.

In other words, Cruz would have voters believe that the entire issue is “nonsense” because Republicans aren’t actively trying to limit access to condoms, which necessarily means, in his mind, that there is no “war on women.” But the GOP senator is inadvertently proving his critics’ point with a myopic understanding of what contraception even is.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 1, 2015

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Birth Control, Reproductive Choice, Ted Cruz, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“New ‘Select Committee’ On Planned Parenthood”: Where Do GOP Investigations Of Planned Parenthood Go Now?

The shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday was a vivid reminder that the organization isn’t just a political lightning rod for conservatives who oppose abortion rights. It’s also under constant threat of harassment and violence from radical anti-abortion advocates, ranging from hate mail and vandalism all the way up to arson, bombings, and in a few cases, the murder of clinic staff or patients.

The Colorado attack comes at a time when the Republican Congress is trying to figure out new ways to go after the group. So where will those efforts go now?

At the moment, we don’t have direct confirmation that Robert Dear, the alleged killer, was motivated by objections to abortion. What we do know is that, according to anonymous law enforcement sources, he said “no more baby parts” to officials, which would be a clear reference to the “sting” videos created by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood personnel discussing the transfer of fetal tissue to researchers. (Though many have charged that the videos show Planned Parenthood “selling baby parts,” that is not in fact true. The organization only accepts small reimbursements on the order of $50 or so to cover their costs when making these transfers, and the videos don’t show them doing anything different.)

In any case, the important context to understand is that Planned Parenthood has almost never not been under attack, both from violent extremists and from Republicans in Congress who would like to see the organization disappear, or at least deprive it of the Medicaid reimbursements it gets for things like pap smears and cancer screenings (no government money can go to fund abortions). The nature and intensity of that assault ebbs and flows, but a confluence of events has caused the attack in Colorado Springs to get even more attention than it otherwise would have.

After those videos were released, Republican presidential candidates began condemning Planned Parenthood in unusually vituperative terms, accusing the group of murder and all manner of other crimes. Their colleagues in Congress saw an opportunity to renew what had been a sporadic attack on the group, so they mounted multiple investigations in an attempt to find something they could use as a justification for cutting off the group’s Medicaid reimbursements. When the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s lengthy grilling of Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards not only didn’t prove any wrongdoing but made the Republicans on the committee look foolish, outgoing Speaker John Boehner announced the creation of a Benghazi-style committee to investigate the organization.

The idea, as it seems to be in most congressional investigations Republicans launch, is that while they don’t really know what they’re looking for, if they look hard enough then they’ll find something that can be used against Planned Parenthood. And it’s possible they will, though there isn’t actually much reason to think so. If they do find something that sounds problematic, it will suddenly become the one aspect of the abortion issue Republicans care about above all others.

Don’t forget that before those videos came out and Republicans decided that “selling baby parts!” was a handy tool that could be used to bludgeon the group, they weren’t crusading to end fetal tissue research. Some of them even supported it; notably, Mitch McConnell voted for the law that allowed such research to take place. They’ve shown no interest in any new law changing the regulations covering how that research is conducted. If any of the presidential candidates who were in such high dudgeon over the videos have a plan to outlaw fetal tissue research, I haven’t heard about it.

The truth is that Republicans don’t despise Planned Parenthood because they genuinely believe the organization is breaking the law. They despise it because they despise abortion rights, and also because Planned Parenthood’s political activities support Democrats. It’s not complicated.

And now we have a situation where the Colorado murders help establish a context in which further “investigations” of Planned Parenthood in Congress will take place. Will the group’s advocates bring up those murders again and again, arguing that clinic violence and congressional harassment are all parts of the same animal? You bet they will. That won’t change Republicans’ desire to go after Planned Parenthood, but it might make them a little hesitant about doing so, at least until memories have a chance to fade.

The Benghazi committee has been going for a year and a half, and shows no sign of ever wrapping up its work so long as there’s some miniscule chance it might find something incriminating on Hillary Clinton. So Republicans might just make their select committee on Planned Parenthood semi-permanent, even if they put it on the back burner for a while.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, November 30, 2015

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Abortion, Conservatives, GOP, Reproductive Choice, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Calling Off The Dogs, For Now”: Anti-Choicers Pulling The Punch On Planned Parenthood?

Assuming Ben Domenech knows his right-wingers, which I would guess is the one thing he does infallibly know, he’s solved a big mystery for us in a column yesterday. A few weeks ago the whole hep conservative world was aflame with promises and threats about defunding Planned Parenthood, even if it took a government shutdown. Erick Erickson was hyperventilating nearly hourly about how the GOP needed to lay down and die if it did not follow this course of action to the bitter end. Presidential candidates were climbing on board in due order.

Then–well, Mitch McConnell allowed as how it wasn’t going to happen, the presidential candidates and conservative media stopped talking about it, and even ol’ Pope Erick seemed to back off. What’s up with that?

According to Domenech, it was actually the big antichoice groups that called off the dogs:

For the time being, Capitol Hill Republican leaders are on the same page as the national pro-life groups – a shutdown strategy is not their preference, because it makes it more likely Democrats will win in 2016, and that means you miss probably your best opportunity in a generation to get rid of Roe v. Wade. Capitol Hill Republicans are looking to the pro-life groups to provide them cover by not scoring a Planned Parenthood-funding continuing resolution, and most of the big groups are expected to go along with this strategy.

Wow. If the National Right to Life Committee doesn’t support dragging the whole country to the bottom of hell in order to kill off its bitter enemies at Planned Parenthood, then why should anyone else? Domenech seems to think Ted Cruz may be tempted to outlank not only McConnell and the other presidentials but the National Right to Life Committee, yet probably won’t in the end. Domenech thinks that jawing about a Planned Parenthood-free continuing resolution for weeks may be a superior strategy, mainly because he shares the common antichoice delusion that women will give up their reproductive rights–or perhaps enough men can be convinced to just take them away from women–if they can all be forced to spend a few weeks watching the PP sting videos (it’s an article of faith among these birds that people like me or you have never even once discussed the issue). If Republicans make that choice, then they may actually learn that a sizable majority of the American people still favor legal abortion and know enough about Planned Parenthood’s services to know a smear when they see one. The last such teaching moment for the GOP, the Terri Schiavo affair, didn’t seem to do the trick, did it?

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 2, 2015

September 3, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Planned Parenthood, Reproductive Choice, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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