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“71st Governor Of Virginia”: Governor “Ultrasound” Receives An Engraved Rolex From Influencial Donor

Just when it seemed the controversy surrounding Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) couldn’t get worse, it gets worse.

A prominent political donor purchased a Rolex watch for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, according to two people with knowledge of the gift, and the governor did not disclose it in his annual financial filings.

The $6,500 luxury watch was provided by wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the people said. He is the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific and the person who paid for catering at the wedding of the governor’s daughter.

Coincidentally, the governor’s Rolex, engraved with the inscription “71st Governor of Virginia,” arrived about two weeks after Williams met with a leading state health official about his products. The meeting was arranged by Maureen McDonnell, the governor’s wife.

And given the luxurious gifts Maureen McDonnell received from Williams, this isn’t a good development.

Indeed, in this case, the Washington Post reported that Virginia’s First Lady was the one who encouraged Williams to buy the Rolex for the governor — a recommendation she made “moments before the meeting she had arranged” with the state health official.

Making matters slightly worse, the governor’s office insisted months ago that neither McDonnell nor his wife ever “led an effort to lower health care costs in Virginia by encouraging the use of Anatabloc,” Williams’ product. What the statement neglected to mention is that what happened outside Virginia: “On June 1 — three days before [the governor’s daughter’s] wedding — Maureen McDonnell flew to Florida, where she touted the potential benefits of Anatabloc before a gathering of doctors and investors interested in learning more about its key chemical. There, one attendee said, she said she believed Anatabloc could be used to lower health costs.”

Remember when Bob McDonnell’s biggest problem was that he was “Governor Ultrasound”?

I don’t think this ongoing corruption controversy could get much worse, but then again, I’ve thought that before and been proven wrong.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 27, 2013


June 30, 2013 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“State Sanctioned Rape”: When States Abuse Women

Here’s what a woman in Texas now faces if she seeks an abortion.

Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago with the strong backing of Gov. Rick Perry, she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen.

She must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs of the fetus as they’re shown on the monitor. She signs a document saying that she understands all this, and it is placed in her medical files. Finally, she goes home and must wait 24 hours before returning to get the abortion.

“It’s state-sanctioned abuse,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd, a Texas physician who provides abortions. “It borders on a definition of rape. Many states describe rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will. Well, that’s what this is. A woman is coerced to do this, just as I’m coerced.”

“The state of Texas is waging war on women and their families,” Dr. Boyd added. “The new law is demeaning and disrespectful to the women of Texas, and insulting to the doctors and nurses who care for them.”

That law is part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country — and in much of the country, women are losing. State by state, legislatures are creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are patronizing and humiliating.

Twenty states now require abortion providers to conduct ultrasounds first in some situations, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization. The new Texas law is the most extreme to take effect so far, but similar laws have been passed in North Carolina and Oklahoma and are on hold pending legal battles.

Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Mississippi are also considering Texas-style legislation bordering on state-sanctioned rape. And what else do you call it when states mandate invasive probes in women’s bodies?

“If you look up the term rape, that’s what it is: the penetration of the vagina without the woman’s consent,” said Linda Coleman, an Alabama state senator who is fighting the proposal in her state. “As a woman, I am livid and outraged.”

States put in place a record number of new restrictions on abortions last year, Guttmacher says. It counts 92 new curbs in 24 states.

“It was a debacle,” Elizabeth Nash, who manages state issues for Guttmacher, told me. “It’s been awful. Last year was unbelievable. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Yes, there have been a few victories for women. The notorious Virginia proposal that would have required vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion was modified to require only abdominal ultrasounds.

Yet over all, the pattern has been retrograde: humiliating obstacles to abortions, cuts in family-planning programs, and limits on comprehensive sex education in schools.

If Texas legislators wanted to reduce abortions, the obvious approach would be to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The small proportion of women and girls who aren’t using contraceptives account for half of all abortions in America, according to Guttmacher. Yet Texas has some of the weakest sex-education programs in the nation, and last year it cut spending for family planning by 66 percent.

The new Texas law was passed last year but was held up because of a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In a scathing opinion, Judge Sam Sparks of Federal District Court described the law as “an attempt by the Texas legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights.” In the end, the courts upheld the law, and it took effect last month.

It requires abortion providers to give women a list of crisis pregnancy centers where, in theory, they can get unbiased counseling and in some cases ultrasounds. In fact, these centers are often set up to ensnare pregnant women and shame them or hound them if they are considering abortions.

“They are traps for women, set up by the state of Texas,” Dr. Boyd said.

The law then requires the physician to go over a politicized list of so-called dangers of abortion, like “the risks of infection and hemorrhage” and “the possibility of increased risk of breast cancer.” Then there is the mandated ultrasound, which in the first trimester normally means a vaginal ultrasound. Doctors sometimes seek vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion, with the patient’s consent, but it’s different when the state forces women to undergo the procedure.

The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Achieving that isn’t easy, and there is no silver bullet to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But family planning and comprehensive sex education are a surer path than demeaning  vulnerable women with state-sanctioned abuse and humiliation.


By: Nicholas Kristoff, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 3, 2012

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personhood Bill Dead in Virginia, For Now That Is

Virginia’s personhood bill is now dead for the year. The bill, already approved by the state House, passed out of a Senate committee this morning and headed to the floor. But the Republican-dominated Senate voted to send the bill back to committee and carry it overto next year. It’s the second big win for pro-choice advocates in Virginia this week, after Governor Bob McDonnell retracted his support for a bill requiring pre-abortion transvaginal sonograms yesterday.

“By vote of 24-14, HB 1 is rereferred to Senate Ed & Health and carried over for the year,” tweeted Democratic Senator Mark Herring triumphantly. “Translation = Bill is defeated.”

This morning, less than 24 hours after pro-life advocates saw a big victory over a Virginia pre-abortion sonogram bill, a Virginia Senate committee voted to move the controversial “personhood” bill forward. The bill, which would have changed the legal definition of “person” to include fertilized eggs and fetuses, passed the House last week amidst cries from Democrats. Now it’s heading for a full Senate vote.

The committee added a key measure to the bill to protect access to all legal forms of birth control. As I wrote last week, the version passed out of the House carved out a specific protection for in-vitro fertilization but not for birth control, prompting some opponents to argue the legal interpretations would likely outlaw birth control. Some reproductive activists have argued that even though in-vitro is carved out, the process, which often includes discarding other fertilized eggs, could still be in a legal limbo.

It wasn’t clear from the beginning that the measure would make it out of committee easily. The Education and Health Committee has seven pro-life Republicans and seven pro-choice Democrats. It also has Senator Harry Blevins, who has a mixed record on the subject. Blevins has angered both sides of the debate on reproductive rights. When I talked last week to Representative Bob Marshall, the author of the personhood bill, he was hardly confident. “I don’t know what Harry’s thinking on this,” he said. (Blevins has not responded to multiple calls asking for an interview.)

Only a few weeks ago Blevins chose to abstain on a measure that would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks. The bill, which would have faced obvious legal challenges, focused on 20 weeks as the age at which a fetus feels pain and was called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The vote in the Senate Education and Health Committee was split, with seven Republicans voting to move the bill forward and seven Democrats voting against it. As the 15th vote, Blevins’ abstention stopped the measure.

The Virginia Society for Human Life, a pro-life advocacy group, sent out a press release arguing Blevins “effectively killed the bill in committee.” This time around, however, I’m guessing pro-life advocates are pleased with Blevins’ decision.

I asked Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds for his predictions on the personhood bill when it comes to the Senate floor. He didn’t exactly give me an answer. In the past, he told me “we’ve been able to work together across party lines … that broke down completely this year.”

(I should also mention that Virginia isn’t the only state this year with a personhood bill. In Oklahoma, two different bills have been filed. One, which looks a lot like Virginia’s, is through the Senate and awaiting approval from the state House.)


By: Abby Papoport, The American Prospect, February 23, 2012

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Abortion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Climate Of Crazy”: Thanks, Rick Santorum! No, Really

OK, it’s true: Rick Santorum didn’t sponsor Virginia legislation to require that women seeking abortion undergo an ultrasound – and in cases of very early pregnancy, when a fetus is hard to see, a creepy and intrusive transvaginal ultrasound. But seven states have already passed ultrasound requirements for women seeking abortion. The Virginia bill is galvanizing opposition nationally at least partly due to the climate of crazy that’s been fomented by Santorum’s backward candidacy.

The man who calls contraception “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be” went from being a failed Pennsylvania senator, Mr. “Man on Dog,” to GOP presidential front-runner over the last month. Now he’s crusading against prenatal testing because he claims it encourages abortion (when in fact most prenatal testing helps women help babies who develop in utero health issues) and claiming President Obama’s policies will ultimately send Christians to the guillotine. (By the way, I apologize for harping on the way Protestants have persecuted Catholics in the U.S., because Santorum reminded me of some of the reason why, with his charge that mainline Protestant churches are a Satan-sponsored “shambles” that are “gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”) He and Mitt Romney, who’s trying to match him outrage for outrage, have been chasing women voters away from the GOP in droves over the last couple of months.

Into that polarizing political climate came the news that Virginia Republicans want to go where no politician of any stripe belongs: up the vaginal canal and into the uteruses of pregnant women who are seeking an abortion. The bill already passed the state Senate, and clearing the House of Delegates seemed a mere formality, especially given that Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas already have ultrasound requirements. A mere formality, that is, until people began paying attention.

Now, for two days straight, the Virginia House of Delegates has postponed its vote on the bill. More than a thousand protesters lined walkways to the state Capitol to silently protest the bill on Monday, and their powerful statement seemed to still resonate on Tuesday. The bill is expected to pass eventually, but with every day, the national backlash against the measure helps its opponents’ chances. On MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” Tuesday Virginia delegate Kaye Kory urged the media to keep paying attention. Gov. Bob McDonnell, who supports the bill, is often mentioned as a GOP vice presidential nominee, and his office has emitted a few warning signs of alarm over the last couple of days. As far right as Republicans have lurched, it can’t be helpful for McDonnell to find his Virginia GOP accused of supporting state-sanctioned rape for forcing unwilling women to submit to vaginal penetration in order to exercise their legal right to an abortion.

Of course, the Virginia GOP still has its fervent defenders. CNN commentator Dana Loesch outdid herself (and that takes a lot) by suggesting that women had implicitly consented to such a procedure when they consented to vaginal penetration during sex. Wait. Let me make sure I’m not misinterpreting her. Here’s what she said: “Progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth … They had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.” If that sounds like crazy talk – and it is — a Virginia Republican who supports the procedure said much the same thing, telling a Democratic colleague that women had already consented to being “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant,” according to Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick. I hope Virginia Republican women will ask their male partners whether they believe consenting to sex represents consenting to state-sponsored vaginal penetration as well. I know, it might be a mood-killer, but it’s a good thing to find out.

As Steve Kornacki observed this morning, Santorum may be compromising his own political future almost as much as he’s compromising women’s rights with his increasingly crackpot declarations. He’s also helping Virginians who oppose their state GOP’s extremism to get attention to their cause, while the Virginia GOP helps national Democrats sound alarms about Santorum’s lunacy.  It’s a win-win for proponents of women’s freedom. I keep pinching myself to make sure it’s not a political trick.

I talked about the GOP’s war on women’s rights with Virginia delegate Kaye Kory on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation”:


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, February 21, 2012


February 23, 2012 Posted by | Abortion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Property Of The State”: For Women In Virginia, It’s All About Your Vagina

The Right’s War on Women really has become focused. It’s not just a general war on the gender, with trivial things like equal pay for equal work. No, it’s now reduced down the core. It’s all about your vagina.

For example, see CNN’s latest monster, Breitbart protege Dana Loesch. Commenting on the proposed Virginia law that would require women seeking abortions be forced to undergo vaginal penetration by an ultrasound-wand wielding health care professional, Loesch says that once a woman has had sex, consensual or not, she’s given up all say on what happens down there.

LOESCH: That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. […] There were individuals saying, “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.

Sorry non-virgins, all your vaginas belong to the state now. Hell, with this reasoning, if you’ve used a tampon you’ve pretty much given up control. It’s not just soulless, attention seeking gasbags saying so, it’s the state. Here’s what one Virginia lawmakersaid about the bill, as reported by Dahlia Lithwick.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” […]

There you go, women of America. If you’ve ever had sex, your vagina is fair game. You don’t get to say what happens to it now.

Can’t imagine why that’s such an unpopular idea in Virginia. It’s so unpopular, in fact, that the House has decided to put off consideration of it, at least for today.


By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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