Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Reproductive Rights = Privacy Rights

Okay, three hours of attempting to do the post on reproductive rights and it's not happening.
I get "internal error" everytime (and lose the post).

So the point, and I think most of us get it, is it's a privacy right.

If certain spineless spokespeople can't defend the right of choice, they can defend the right of privacy. (Or they should be able to. If they're not able to, they're more useless than even I suspect.)

If you saw Phil Singer "communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee" on Democracy Now! last Thursday, you saw something very sad.

PHIL SINGER: Bob – Bob Ca –Yeah, I would just say that, first of all, I would not confuse the son with the father. I don't think that's fair. But I’d also say that Bob Casey garnered more votes of any other candidate in Pennsylvania history this past cycle and is a very viable candidate statewide in a statewide race in Pennsylvania, number one. Number two, I think it's also important to keep in mind that, you know, as we go into 2006, there is an – we have a – are facing extraordinary stakes. The America that we know today will be fundamentally different if we lose seats as we, you know, in this next round of elections. So –
KIM GANDY: Well, I – I’m sorry. I just want to say, the whole issue of Bob Casey getting more votes than anybody is really bogus. We dramatically increased the democratic vote in the state of Pennsylvania. John Kerry got more votes than any presidential candidate in the history of the state of Pennsylvania, and he’s got a twenty-year solid record in support of women's reproductive rights. Bob Casey didn't even have a serious opponent and he only got 61% of the vote. That’s really a bogus argument.

Kim Gandy (president of NOW) is correct. It is a bogus argument and that Phil Singer elects to go on Democracy Now! with either no knowledge of reality or no concern for the truth is really shameful.

Don't confuse the son with the father, Philbert?

Let's go to The Third Estate Sunday Review:

But Junior's got a campaign strategy down pat (didn't help with the governor's race but . . .):

The elder Casey died in 2000 and Casey often mentions his father's death during campaign stops, especially when he speaks to senior citizens and other older voters who remember his father. He invokes his father's name and accomplishments when speaking to certain audiences. The memory of the Casey name helps him connect with voters who, he hopes, will vote for him because of the connection.

Junior's apparently not his own man, just a pale copy of Daddy. So what's so wrong with that?Well Robert Casey is infamous for his attacks on Planned Parenthood (anyone remember Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- a Supreme Court case) and of course he was often greeted by the members of Act-Up (not warmly). Junior's singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and we think you might need to be concerned.

That's from "Robert Casey Junior Doing Pop Proud " (disclosure, I assisted The Third Estate Sunday Review with research and draft writing on that piece -- I believe Rebecca did as well but those days are always a blur, check their note to readers to be sure).

Casey is not the great candidate that Philbert implies.

He is someone who polls well initially (due to name recognition) and then fades. That's what happened when he ran for governor. He lost to Ed Rendell. Rendell ran as a pro-choice candidate. Casey ran as an anti-choice candidate. Rendell won the primary and then won the governor's race.

What should that tell you? It should tell you that Pennsylvania, like the rest of the country, has a majority of citizens who support reproductive rights. (As the national polls demonstrate over and over, year after year.) Still not convinced?

Philbert and company want you to hear the name Rick Santorum and shake at the knees. "Oh my God! He's anti-choice! Only an anti-choice candidate can win in that state!"

Problem with that "logic" is that Arlen Specter was just re-elected. Specter (Republican) is pro-choice. Specter had a nasty fight in the Republican primary as monies poured into his opponent
who was anti-choice. (Monies poured into Specter as well.) This was the "big stand" that the anti-choice was going to make. They were going to "take back that seat."

They didn't win the primary.

Get it?

A Republican primary. They couldn't even win that.

But Philbert and his ilk want to convince you that we just have to have Robert Casey Junior or we have no way of winning.

That's total __.

And Casey Junior, regardless of his stance on choice, hasn't been a strong candidate. Third Estate (again):

What was Rendell's charge against Junior in their primary race? Something about Junior "doesn't understand education, lacks experience, never created a job, cut a tax or prosecuted a criminal." It's a long list. One doubts Santorum's campaign won't be using those talking points.

So Junior's going to go up against an incumbent. And Junior's basically Santorum in most ways except someone stamped "Democrat" on his ass so we're stuck with him.

This is who the party has selected. Selected. Not the people. Not the voters in the Democratic Party. This "choice" is being shoved down their throats.

MyDD before the decision was imposed:

In other words, the events of the past week demonstrated what was previously demonstrated with Ginny Schrader's campaign: grassroots and netroots Democratic activism is alive and well within Pennsylvania. We did all of this ourselves, without any help from the party leadership or elected officials. Politicians and party leaders should take notice of this, for they fail to take us seriously at their own peril. This is why the ongoing movement to stop the Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial primary before it starts is utterly unacceptable, and I promise will be met with strong resistance.
[. . .]
This article is not the entire story. Many people with connections on this issue have insisted to me that the state and party leadership are in fact trying to clear the field for Casey and preempt the primary. This must not be allowed. As Democrats who are working hard, and succeeding, in damaging Santorum's re-election hopes, we deserve to be included in the selection of the candidate who will oppose and defeat Santorum. If, after the primary, that candidate ends up being Casey, then he would immediately find me among his biggest supporters. However, if the Democratic Party wants to continue to build its extremely fragile bridge with the Pennsylvania netroots and grassroots, it cannot shut its members out of the selection process, period. Many of us here in Pennsylvania are already suspicious of the machine-like tendencies and backroom-heavy characteristics of the state party, and something like this could very easily become the straw that broke the camel's back in that relationship.I also fail to see how a contested primary, no matter what combination of Casey, Hafer, Hoeffel, and Pennacchio it contained, would be damaging to our chances to defeat Santorum. Sure, it would cost money, but that money would also be spent on bashing Santorum, raising name ID for all candidates, and giving the party a wider profile across the state. Rendell and Specter both had hotly contested primary battles in their recent statewide campaigns, and both went on to comfortable victories (8-10%) afterward. The same can be said for many Republican Senate candidates this year. I just don't buy that tons of free media exposure for Pennsylvania Democrats will somehow hurt Pennsylvania Democrats. By contrast, I can see very clearly how pre-empting the primary would go a long way toward hurting Pennsylvania Democrats.

From the Democracy Now! debate:

PHIL SINGER: That's right. And that would – And the record reflects, the record shows –
KIM GANDY: And if we stack the Senate with opponents –
PHIL SINGER: No, I mean, Harry Reid is a pro-life Democrat who has, you know, helped stay – helped lead the fight to stop judges who are hell-bent on overturning Roe from getting on the court. That's a fact. The most pro-choice Republicans like Lincoln Chaffee also, I would add, have voted up and down the line for the – Bush's pro-life judges who are intent on overturning – KIM GANDY: And so have lots of so-called pro-life Democrats.
PHIL SINGER: You know, there are plenty of examples. You know, throw one out, Ben Nelson in 2003 is a pro-life Democrat, voted against Victor Wolski because he was outspoken over the fact that he had a political agenda and would be an activist judge when he got on the court.
KIM GANDY: Right. But he didn't vote – he didn't vote against him because of women's reproductive rights, and, in fact Ben Nelson voted to confirm 210 –
PHIL SINGER: The point is –
KIM GANDY: – federal judges to lifetime appointments. Almost every one of them opposes women's rights.

They can smear lipstick on this pig of a decision all they want, they can spray it with perfume and put it in a dress. It's still a pig. And Democrats who are choosing to step away from support of reproductive rights should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to force a pig off on us.

And for lying.

The thing is, some Democrats don't want to be caught up in this issue. And it's nothing recent.
You saw it in the attacks on Molly Yard at the end of the eighties.

Life's a whole lot easier for the males (and male-mentality women) when abortion can be shoved aside as a "niche" issue.

It's a whole lot easier when they can strut around in their jocks and feel like a "man." That includes some women (including some who sit on editorial boards) they strut around in their jocks as well. Of course, they stuff their jocks. They have to. But so do most of the men.

They don't want to be about issues. They don't want to be about protecting anyone (besides themselves). Sure, you can get confused (as many did) by, for instance, Simon Rosenberg's "talk" of Hispanic voters and think he cares about that voting group. (If he cared, it really didn't register while he was blogging in 2004.) But many felt (including Unfiltered listeners) that Rosenberg was embracing one group (Hispanics) to pull away from another (African-Americans).

God forbid, apparently, we have room for both, for all.

Some Democrats can't come to terms with the fact that when they win, it's due to women. Women are the majority in the party.

It's similar to what you see in TV. Males in charge don't want women in strong roles. They'll go out of their way to kill a Cagney & Lacey or a Designing Women or what have you. Where you or I would be jumping up with joy that we could claim a hit, TV males don't. They need something with a shiny, fast car or some other penis substitute.

If you asked them, "Where are the strong women like Roseanne?" they'd tell you, "Oh, we tried that and it didn't work."

They'll never point out how many cops show fail each season, how many crime dramas. They'll keep doing those.

It's not about reality with them, it's about perception. Does their success reinforce their masculinity (such as it is)?

That's what it's all about.

And you see that over and over in the Democratic Party. Some years, like a hemoroid, it flares up a little more. In 2004, you saw the party chase down the mythical "security mom" before pundits like Cokie Roberts had even tagged the mythical group with a label. The group of women most likely to vote Democratic were single women. You saw 527s doing outreach there, you didn't see the party doing it. (You certainly didn't see the "New" Democratcs doing it).

They didn't want those votes, they didn't campaign for them.

Katha Pollitt's "The Girlie Vote:"

And what of those women voters both parties are supposedly so eager to woo? Bush has done so little for women--and so much against them--that Laura had to reach all the way to Afghanistan to find some women whose lives have arguably been bettered by her husband. Kerry's positions on issues women care about are good, but you have to read about them on his website: He has yet to make a direct appeal for women's votes. Martha Burk, the witty and vigorous head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, tells me that during the primaries Kerry actually told a roomful of Women for Kerry that he didn't want to single out female voters because that would be "pandering" to a special interest ("It caused a collective gasp")--the very charge leveled at the Dems by the right-wing antifeminists of the Independent Women's Forum. Since when are women--51 percent of the population--a special interest? Kerry, after all, has no problem appealing directly to veterans, to hunters, to NASCAR fans. What are those if not special interests? Why is it OK to sidle up to gun-owners but not to talk about your support for battered women?

See these men and women with their stuffed jock straps overflowing are more concerned with being perceived as "soft" (same thing with TV execs) and the fact that women make up the majority in the Democratic Party makes them feel they look "soft."

Other things do as well. That's why you get Bill Clinton making an ass out of himself and spouting off about Sister Souljah (thereby proving he's not "soft" on African-Americans or women -- in the lingo of the New York Times he scored a double).

This isn't just about reproductive rights. This is about (as MyDD noted) control of the party. And certain individuals feel that the grassroots needs to just take whatever marching order is being handed down, shut up, and follow along.

That's not democratic. And it's not noble.

The "abortion wars" potentially effect everyone. You may be saying, "I would never have one!"
Or you may be saying, "I'm a man! I can't have one!"

If you're misunderstanding the basic decision in Roe v. Wade which found that it was a privacy right. And you're misunderstanding what the continued chipping away at Roe and eventual overturning will mean. Point, it will mean the government has that say. It will mean it's not a privacy right.

And once reproductive rights are not a privacy right the government can enforce whatever it wants. (China certainly has.)

You may find abortion distasteful. That's not the issue. The issue is simply: is it a privacy right or not?

And if you're prepared to say that it's not, then you need to be prepared for what happens on down the line. Once you surrender it as a privacy right, the government has the last say every time. They can implement whatever policies they desire.

Right now, it's a privacy right. No one's forcing you to have an abortion or (to cite another privacy right) to be on birth control. No one's forcing you to be sterilized.

There are people who are personally opposed to abortion but grasp that you don't surrender the decision to the government. Spineless mouthpieces don't seem to grasp that because they don't seem to think about it. They're too concerned that the party appears "feminized" as a result of this issue. They're willing to sell out our privacy rights to appear a little more butch, a little more macho. And they're willing, as Philbert appears to demonstrate, to distort someone's record to get their way.

It is their way. As MyDD noted, it's not about what the people want. The voters are deprived of one candidate already because Rendell asked her to drop out.

From the Democracy Now! debate:

KIM GANDY: D.S.C.C. pushing him to run and running a fundraiser for him --
PHIL SINGER: First of all, first of all, that was a –
KIM GANDY: When Matt Brown --
PHIL SINGER: First of all, that was a – I think there was a --mistake in terms of – that also has become one of these urban legends about the D.S.C.C. holding a fundraiser. The D.S.C.C. never held a fund-raiser for Jim Langevin. You know, there was a some – some – a typo on a sheet that was faxed out; but there was no D.S.C.C. event for him. And I would also add, the D.S.C.C. has not endorsed any candidate in any primary or anything like that.

A typo? Printing error? That's the best Philbert can offer?

Again to the Democracy Now! debate:

KIM GANDY: I think the important thing to add to this is not just that Bob Casey was recruited to run, he was also told that the field would be cleared for him so that he would have a free primary and there would be no Democrat running against him; and in fact, the top of the Democratic party arm-twisted Barbara Hafer out of the race, did in fact almost clear the field for Bob Casey, which is the most undemocratic thing I’ve seen lately.

What can you do?

First off, you can be aware of what's going on. You can be aware of the fact that it flares up every few years. And you can take a strong stance against liars and cowards. You can say, "Don't lie to me" and/or "Don't sell me out and expect to have my support!" That's what's going on.

Oh, we're not moving to the right.


But ____ is a really good person with a long record of ____.

Tell them "Thank you very much, but I have an opinion and I will express it. And it's not about a person, it's about a belief."

Grace: When Hillary [Clinton] moved right on the issue of reproductive freedom, the New York York Times wanted to say it was no big deal [note: they applauded the speech in an editorial], Rachel Maddow of Unfiltered dismissed it and said Hillary couldn't be attacked. Well Rachel seems to have awoken. It took her long enough. And here's a suggestion for Big Brain (as Rebecca calls her), next time don't be so quick to tell people to shut up. Next time, maybe you shut up and listen to people concern's. If the outcry had reached the level it was headed after Hillary's statements, we might not be having to fight so hard now. But people like Maddow want to rush in and say, "I know Hillary Clinton's record!" What record? She's been in the Senate in four years! The record that saw her vote for us to go to war? Her "record" as First Lady campaigning to destroy the safety net for low income mothers? I don't play cult of personality and a supposed Big Brain shouldn't either.

I didn't hear Maddow (or Lizz Winstead) since I haven't been able to listen to Unfiltered (and now that Winstead is gone, I have no desire to) due to work. But if Maddow or Winstead or the voice of God his/herself tries to slap you with a ruler and turn an issue discussion into a personality one, don't participate. Object and if you're objection is ignored, walk away, turn the person off, whatever you have to do.

Be realistic. And that includes the anti-choice crowd. There's no Constitutional amendment on the verge of being added. Not in our lifetimes. If Roe v. Wade is destroyed, it will be done by the courts, not by a Constitutional amendment. The courts will continue to chip away at the privacy right the legal decision is grounded in.

And the body deciding on these courts is the Senate. So it is a big deal when the members of the Democratic Party betrays the base by enforcing pro-life candidates with no debate and no admission that what's going on is repugnant to the notion of self-rule.

What else can you do? You can visit NOW, you can visit Emily's List. If you find something there that speaks to you and you're able to contribute, do so.

By the same token, if you're able to contribute, don't give money to candidates imposed on people.

The fact that this flares up every few years doesn't mean we don't need to worry about it right now. But realizing that it has happened before (and before and before . . .) does serve a purpose.
It makes you realize that there's always some "conventional wisdom" being pushed that doesn't match reality.

That was why we did the four part "Red" state series. The term continues to be used and it damages all of us. It puts forward the myth that the election was decided on an "values" (again, Frank Rich refuted this in real time) and that we are out of step with "values" so we must remake the party. Back in November, we discussed how people would use the myth to push their own agendas and we're seeing that.

My opinion? We'll win. We'll have to fight back, but we'll win.

NOW has a Take Action Alert. Here's an excerpt:

To run another anti-abortion candidate against Santorum, as the Democrats did in 2000, will result in sure defeat. Hafer has won four statewide elections in Pennsylvania and is the strongest possible challenger to Santorum. A recent Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates poll conducted on behalf of Hafer showed that 60% of Pennsylvania Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans are pro-choice.
Don't mistake this for a random act -- it is a calculated effort by party leaders to build a so-called "bigger tent" at the expense of women's rights. It's happening in Rhode Island as well, where an anti-abortion candidate has been recruited by Schumer and national Democratic leaders to run against a pro-choice candidate in the party's Senate primary.
If we don't stop this losing strategy now, they'll use it again and again.
Women are the vast majority of both the voters for, and fundraising direct mail supporters of, the Democratic Party. We deserve better than this. It will do women no good if both major parties are hostile to women candidates and women's rights.
sign our petition today to:
Sen. Charles Schumer (NY), Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the person responsible for recruiting Robert Casey Jr. to challenge Hafer; and
Pa. Governor Ed Rendell, who turned his back on Barbara Hafer and helped force her out of the race.
We must let the Democrats know that women will no longer be taken for granted: When Democrats do not support women, we will not support them.
Please also
forward this message to as many of your friends and family as possible. We must send a constant stream of email petitions flowing to the Democratic leaders - perhaps they have forgotten about the power of women's votes and the gender gap, but we have not. Thank you for standing up for women!

[Note: Title of post changed at the advice of Kara, Shirley, Gina and Lynda all of whom say "Privacy Right" not "Privacy Issue." The sentence beginning "God forbid" has also been reworked per Rob.]