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  • July 2, 2015
    Texas AG Refuses to "Defend the Constitution and Laws of the United States"

    As the Confederate flag is coming down, calls for states to nullify federal laws are going up. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton advised county clerks, magistrates and justices of the peace they may opt-out of performing same-sex marriages the United States Supreme Court legalized nationwide on Friday. As it turns out, Paxton isn't just telling public employees they may discriminate against the public. He's telling them they should violate their oath of office, too.

    All elected or appointed officials in Texas must swear this oath:

    "I, _______________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of ___________________ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God."

    Apparently, Paxton does not believe in supremacy, or at least not the kind of supremacy mandated by the U.S. Constitution. As the Supremacy Clause in Article VI makes clear:

    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Unlike North Carolina, where Republican legislators overrode the Governor's veto to allow clerks to refuse to perform all marriages altogether, Paxton instructed judges, justices of the peace, county clerks and their employees that they "retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses." Not to content to rest there, the Attorney General proclaimed the Lone Star State was ready to come to their defense:

    "It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights."

    Unfortunately for Paxton and his fellow travelers in other states, Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights explained, "Public officials have no constitutional or statutory right to discriminate in providing public services." Neither the "ministerial exception" for churches, religious schools and groups nor the Court's newly discovered religious freedom protections for owners of privately held businesses enable government workers to refuse service to members of the public that pay them.

    AG Paxton's guidance should have been simple. Do your job. If you can't, you should resign or you will be fired. In North Carolina last year, Rockingham County magistrate John Kallam Jr. concluded that he could no longer uphold the Tar Heel States oath of office. Believing he "would desecrate a holy Institution established by God Himself," Kallam did the right and noble thing: he resigned.

    Perrspective 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 30, 2015
    In Awe of America's Redeemers

    From its inception, America's history has often been the product of the changing balance between compelling but conflicting national ideals. The federal versus the state, "rugged individualism" versus collective action for the public good, the separation of church and state, and isolationism versus crusading globalism are just some of the pendulum swings that have defined--and redefined--the United States.

    But the last several days have witnessed an epoch-making advance in perhaps the greatest unresolved tension of them all. Just who is "an American?" Will the circle of liberty that contains, protects and unifies the American community be expanded or contracted? Is the American notion of freedom just a narrow conception of a "right to be left alone" or a national commitment to ever-expanding access to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it on August 28, 1963:

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

    In Washington and in Charleston, South Carolina, this week, King's dream seemed a little closer to fruition. While not welcomed by all, the American people nevertheless experienced what Lincoln at Gettysburg proclaimed "a new birth of freedom." And it was purchased only with the pain, sacrifice and blood of African-Americans and LGBT Americans whose dignity, humanity and grace would simply not be denied.

    At the Supreme Court and at Emanuel AME Church, Americans were confronted with a moral challenge which, as JFK described it, "is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution." Do we mean what we say in the 14th Amendment?

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy writing for the Supreme answered in the affirmative. Gay and lesbian Americans, Kennedy argued, merely "ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." On Friday, President Obama called Jim Obergefell not just to congratulate him on his victory, but to thank him:
    "Not only have you been a great example for people, but you're also going to bring about a lasting change in this country. And it's pretty rare where that happens. So I couldn't be prouder of you and your husband. God bless you."

    Tens of thousands of Americans, encouraged and supported by millions more, sacrificed and suffered so that the United States could "live out the true meaning of its creed."

    But they weren't America's only redeemers on Friday. At the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, another group of Americans challenged us to mean what we say in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution. President Obama was speaking for--and to--all Americans when he described the redemptive role of the black church:

    A sacred place, this church, not just for blacks, not just for Christians but for every American who cares about the steady expansion of human rights and human dignity in this country, a foundation stone for liberty and justice for all.

    And if we truly believe what we say in our foundational documents, Obama preached in his eulogy, we surely must embrace the Reverend Clementa Pinckney's vision as our own:

    What is true in the south is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other; that my liberty depends on you being free, too.

    In his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln cautioned his countrymen North and South that neither they nor their nation would be redeemed until the promise of liberty for all was made real.

    Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

    One hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War and 147 years after the passage of the 14th Amendment, America is still paying for the blood drawn by the lash. But if the liberal project is to narrow, as Bruce Springsteen helpfully put it, "the distance between American ideals and American reality," this was a momentous week. Those who made marriage equality a reality and those whose grace and courage in the face of racist terror challenged us to follow "the better angels of our nature" advanced the cause of liberty for all Americans for all time. Our national redemption is still possible as long we follow them in becoming redeemers ourselves.

    "For too long, we were blind," President Obama explained. "But we see that now."

    Perrspective 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 29, 2015
    GOP Laments "Worst Decision Since Dred Scott." Again.

    If nothing else, the Republican Party is an irony producing machine. In the very week that some GOP leaders reversed course on displaying the Confederate battle flag in the wake of the Charleston slaughter, the party's best and brightest protested that the Supreme Court's decision in the King v. Burwell was its "worst since Dred Scott."

    As it turns out, that right-wing list of worst decisions since Scott v. Sanford is a long one. Chief Justice John Roberts's opinion in King that Congress obviously intended for Obamacare subsidies to be available to citizens in all 50 states wasn't even the cause of the GOP's greatest heartburn. Instead, White House hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, along with the leading lights of the evangelical movement, warned that in response to a judicial blessing for same-sex marriage by the nation's highest court, "We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views...Dred Scott." And just seven years ago, Republican mouthpieces protested that the Court's defense of habeas corpus rights for Gitmo detainees was "on par with Dred Scott decisions and Plessy v. Ferguson." That each of these Supreme Court rulings did (or in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, could) expand both the meaning of liberty and the circle of people to whom it applies may have had something to do with it.

    Still, it's important to look back at the 1857 Dred Scott case which helped make the Civil War inevitable. In his odious opinion, Chief Justice Roger Taney didn't merely declare Dred Scott must be returned to bondage in Missouri despite having lived as a free man in Illinois for years. "A free negro of the African race, whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, "Taney argued, "is not a 'citizen' within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States." And that, the Chief Justice insisted, was as it should be:

    They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.

    But for the conservative commentariat, the idea that Americans might be mandated to purchase health insurance along with a retirement pension (Social Security) and old age care (Medicare) was akin to making them slaves for whom "no day ever dawns" because their lives are "all night, forever." When the Court upheld the Obamacare mandate in 2012, Kentucky Senator and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul cautioned:

    The liberal blogosphere apparently thinks the constitutional debate is over. I wonder whether they would have had that opinion the day after the Dred Scott decision...

    Think of how our country would look now had the Supreme Court not changed its view of what is constitutional. Think of 1857, when the court handed down the outrageous Dred Scott decision, which said African Americans were not citizens. Think of the "separate but equal" doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson, which the court later repudiated in Brown v. Board of Education.

    (The Court, of course, didn't "change its view of what is constitutional. It took the Civil War and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to do that.)

    And it wasn't just the likes of World Net Daily and Townhall which respectively proclaimed John Roberts' ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius "today's Dred Scott" and "the worst decision since Dred Scott." In 2013, Washington Post columnist George Will voiced the same sentiment:

    "I hear Democrats say, 'The Affordable Care Act is the law,' as though we're supposed to genuflect at that sunburst of insight and move on. Well, the Fugitive Slave Act was the law, separate but equal was the law, lots of things are the law and then we change them."

    Three years later, the usual suspects on the right have returned to compare the Court's approval of Obamacare subsidies allowing 6.4 million people in 36 states (most of them solidly red) to Dred Scott once again. As Oliver Willis documented:

    Senior editor of the Capital Research Center Matthew Vadum slammed the decision and compared it to a legal confirmation of slavery, calling it "the Roberts court's second Dred Scott decision," "third world bullshit" and "Treason."

    For his part, former Arkansas Governor and two-time Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee reacted to the 6-3 majority decision in King v. Burwell as "an out-of-control act of judicial tyranny." But that rant pales in comparison to Huckabee's foaming at the mouth over the Court's upcoming decision in the marriage equality cases.

    In his USA Today op-ed Thursday about the looming decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Governor Huckabee rejected the very idea of judicial review settled since Marbury v. Madison in 1803. As for the Supreme Court overturning state bans on same-sex marriage, Huckabee essentially declared that gay Americans have no rights which the straight man was bound to respect:

    Can the Supreme Court "decide" this? They cannot. Under our Constitution, we have three, co-equal branches of government. The courts can interpret law but cannot create it. If they declare something "unconstitutional," it still requires congressional funding and executive branch enforcement. The Supreme Court is not the "Supreme Branch," and it is certainly not the Supreme Being. If they can unilaterally make law, and just do whatever they want, then we have judicial tyranny...

    Let me be clear: If the Supreme Court abuses the limits of its power and attempts to create a right that doesn't exist in the Constitution, it will be the duty of the president to reject this threat to our religious liberty as "the law of the land." As president, I will never bow down to the false gods of judicial supremacy.

    But Huckabee and his ilk aren't just refusing to "bow down to the false gods of judicial supremacy." He and the other signers of the "Marriage Pledge"--a who's who of the extremist social conservative movement--promising civil disobedience as well. As the self-proclaimed guardians of "family values," including Jim Bob and Michele Duggar, warn, they will never comply with a Dred Scott-like ruling for marriage equality:

    We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

    (It is more than a little ironic that the Marriage Pledge cites Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail to defend its interpretation of natural law and declares "the Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, 'blacks are inferior human beings.'" After all, Huckabee's Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 on that very claim.)

    The Republicans' Iowa caucus kingmaker Rep. Steve King echoed Huckabee's parallel between the Supreme Court's denial of rights to African-Americans and its potential extension of them to gay Americans.

    "Well, that turned into a civil war - 600,000 people killed to put an end to slavery ­- to sort that mess out."

    King hasn't just declared "there's no way I can accept that kind of decision" from the Roberts Court in favor of same-sex couples. He has also filed a bill that would block the Supreme Court from hearing marriage cases altogether.

    As it turns out, King proposed a similar remedy after the Supreme Court ruled that terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay had habeas corpus rights to appeal their detentions. The Justices' 5-4 ruling in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, King argued, was "extra-constitutional."

    We might pass a resolution that simply says national security and the Constitution are more important than the built-in bias potentially of the Supreme Court itself, and that they didn't have jurisdiction, and that we take an oath to the Constitution as well, not an oath to their interpretation of it as they amend it on the fly.

    If the Supreme Court had actually done as King charged, Boumediene would have been a very bad decision, indeed. (All the Court said in Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion was that the detainee review process of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act "falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute" because it failed to offer "the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus.") But John McCain went even further. It was, McCain announced, "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." Or as the Republican echo chamber quickly pronounced, "worse than Dred Scott."

    Leading the charge was torture enthusiast David Rivkin. The former Justice Department official under the first President Bush and full-time apologist for the second blasted the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in favor of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The result, he proclaimed in June 2008, was the equivalent of declaring human beings property and codifying racial segregation:

    "But to be honest, and not to be too dramatic, it's one of the worst decisions by the Supreme Court I've ever read, on par with Dred Scott decisions and Plessy v. Ferguson.

    The reason for it is not because of its practical implications; they're quite modest. But the sheer ambition, the sheer judicial arrogance that you see here."

    That same week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich followed suit. Appearing on Face the Nation, the Georgian showed that the good times there are not forgotten. Boumediene, he claimed, "could cost us a city." And, he insisted, the Court's 2008 Gitmo decision made the 1857 Dred Scott calamity pale in significance:

    Mr. GINGRICH: On the other hand, I will say, the recent Supreme Court decision to turn over to a local district judge decisions of national security and life and death that should be made by the president and the Congress is the most extraordinarily arrogant and destructive decision the Supreme Court has made in its history.

    REID: In its history.

    Mr. GINGRICH: In its history. Worse than Dred Scott, worse than - because - for this following reason: The court has now knowingly stepped in - and this morning's newspapers say smugglers had actually gotten the design of a nuclear weapon, that we now have the evidence that people out there had a nuclear weapon design. And this court is saying that any random district judge, based on whatever their personal caprice is, whatever their personal ideological bias, can intervene with a terrorist in such a way - and this is something that the Italians will tell you about fighting the mafia.

    Of course, Gingrich and Rivkin were not alone among the voices of the right in equating Boumediene with Dred Scott. The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog echoed the editorial page's conclusion that "we can say with confident horror that Americans are likely to die as a result" and asked readers to weigh in on "what you think are the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of this country."

    As they reminded us this week, for Republicans the worst Supreme Court rulings are those which recognize a woman's sovereignty over her own body, ratify laws passed by Congress improving Americans' financial freedom from sickness, enable LGBT Americans like all others to marry the one they love and uphold due process laws. The chicken littles of the right notwithstanding, freedom is not a zero-sum game. Your rights to life, liberty and happiness, to due process of law, and to equal protection of the law do not abrogate mine.

    So why does the modern Party of Lincoln, one which has come to represent states' rights, nullification and even secession, trivialize America's original sin of slavery by equating recent Supreme Court decisions to Dred Scott? As I suggested in December 2013 after the Washington Times' Tim Carney lectured President Obama, "If you want someone to listen to you on race, you don't start by likening him to a slaveowner":

    That is an odd--and unfortunate--argument for any Republican water carrier to make. After all, today's Party of Lincoln routinely compares the national debt, abortion, gun control, Obamacare--and most every other symbol and policy of President Obama--to slavery.

    And to do so while America is still mourning the Beautiful 9 massacred at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston is even more grotesque. As I wrote in a "Memo to Republicans" a year ago, "comparing everything to slavery won't end well for you."

    Perrspective 2:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 26, 2015
    Introducing the American Flag Protection Act of 2015

    Confederate flag in retreat or temporarily in hiding, now would be a fitting time for Congress to right an egregious, 150 year-old wrong. That's where the American Flag Protection Act (AFPA) of 2015 comes in. AFPA would ban federal, state and local governments, as well as any organization receiving federal funds, from flying a Confederate banner from any building, site or facility.

    Whereas the Confederate battle flag and all other flags of the government and states of the Confederate States of America from their inception have represented slavery, racial superiority, segregation, insurrection and treason;

    Whereas the display of those flags therefore by definition is not a misappropriation of their meaning but using them as always intended;

    Whereas more Americans died at the hands of those flying those banners than from all other wars of the United States combined;

    The government of the United States is prohibited from displaying any Confederate flag or flag containing design elements from any Confederate flag at or over any building, facility, national park, cemetery, educational institution, military base or any other vehicle or site (museum and library exhibitions excepted).

    No state or local receiving funding of any kind from the federal government of the United States may display any Confederate flag or flag containing design elements from any Confederate flag at or over any building, facility, park, cemetery, educational institution or any other vehicle or site (museum and library exhibitions excepted).

    No company, organization or individual receiving funding of any kind from the federal government of the United States may display any Confederate flag or flag containing design elements from any Confederate flag at or over any building, facility, cemetery, educational institution or any other vehicle or site (museum and library exhibitions excepted).

    There's no reason why the American Flag Protection Act of 2015 shouldn't enjoy the backing of a huge bipartisan majority in Congress. After all, in 2005 Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Robert Bennett(R-UT) proposed legislation banning desecration of the American flag. In June 2005, the House easily passed a Constitutional amendment prohibiting desecration of Old Glory; the next year, the bill sponsored by then Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) failed by a single vote. And nothing desecrates or dishonors the American flag more than the display of the Confederate flag over any site anywhere in the United States or its territories. Simply put, "To ask Americans to walk beneath its shadow is a humiliation of irreducible proportions. And we all know it."

    Just as important, AFPA does not prevent any American from carrying or displaying any Confederate banner on or within their person or private property. (For that act, there is no federal penalty, but only the opprobrium so richly deserved from true American patriots.) Under AFPA's "Posthumous Amnesty" provisions, all Confederate soldiers are pardoned for their treason against the United States, an act of compassionate forgiveness to be marked by the display of the Star-Spangled Banner alone over their graves. And for those who still sing from the states' rights hymnal, the American Flag Protection Act operates no differently than the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. States can always show their CSA flags with pride by choosing to opt-out of federal funding.

    Perrspective 9:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 24, 2015
    Media Report False Sightings of Haley's Comet

    If integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching, opportunism is doing so only under the spotlight. And when it comes to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, much of the American media is confusing the two.

    Reading Politico or the Washington Post's resident conventional wisdom regurgitator Chris Cillizza, you'd never know candidate Haley in 2010 declared that the issue of flying the Confederate battle flag on the capitol grounds had been "resolved to the best of its ability" or that Governor Haley in 2014 declared "not a single CEO" had raised concerns over South Carolina's banner of slavery and secession. Just as damning, in the immediate aftermath of the obviously racist terror attack at Emanuel AME Church Governor Haley would offer only "we'll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another."

    Nevertheless, Rick Klein of ABC News gushed Tuesday:

    Yes, this raises her veepstakes stock. But that's almost secondary to the example she set. She managed to drain the politics out of a charged debate over the Confederate flag that's been popping up for longer than she's been alive.

    For his part, Cillizza personally tried to resurrect the Lost Cause of her vice presidential hopes in a paean titled, "Nikki Haley just showed her tremendous political upside":

    Haley was poised and forceful -- acknowledging that there are good-intentioned people who value the Confederate flag while making clear that it was time for the flag to come down. "It is time to remove that flag from the Capitol grounds," she said to prolonged applause. "That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state"...

    Politics is not always about being first. Oftentimes it's simply about not being last or, at least, not being perceived as late. By that measure, Haley succeeded.

    But by the much more important yardstick of the truth, Brian Beutler correctly pointed out in the New Republic, "Nikki Haley Is not a hero. She's just doing damage control for Republicans." Actually, what Haley did in her belated call to take down the Confederate flag was far more pernicious than that. She was intentionally misleading from behind.

    Like many Neo-Confederate defenders of the banner of bondage and treason, State Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) protested that "the fact is, hate groups have misappropriated this flag and made it a sign of their hatred. It may not be right, but that's a fact." That's neither right nor a fact. Dylann Roof, the Conservative Citizen's Councils, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and their ilk are using that flag precisely as its designers intended. Yet Governor Haley found two sides to a debate in which there is only one truth by inventing a straw man in defense of a banner dedicated to owning other, actual men:

    That brings me to the subject of the Confederate flag that flies on the State house grounds. For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.

    The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

    At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state we can survive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. We respect freedom of expression, and that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

    Unfortunately for Haley's attempt to whitewash history and her own past indifference, those "ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict" committed treason against the country in a war that claimed more than American lives than all of its others combined. And it was all done, as Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens articulated in March 1861:

    The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution...

    Our new government is founded upon...its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

    At the end of the day, Nikki Haley deserves one cheer for yielding to overwhelming demand by the American public to take down that symbol of South Carolina's enduring shame. But the kudos end there because Haley could not speak the full truth even during her finest hour:

    No one who displays that flag can be an American patriot. No state that flies that banner of slavery and fratricide can be considered anything but a national disgrace. And no political party that casually traffics in the racist rhetoric and treasonous tenets of nullification and secession deserves either power or respect.

    Those like Nikki Haley whose years of silent complicity ended only in the face of an inescapable horror deserve neither credit for leadership nor the vice presidency of the United States of America. One hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War, "better late than never" shouldn't be a rallying cry but a humiliation.

    Perrspective 3:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 23, 2015
    The Neo-Confederate Sin

    As he accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox in April 1865, Union General Ulysses S. Grant was neither jubilant nor boastful. "I felt sad and depressed at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause," Grant later recalled, "though their cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought." President Grant displayed that same spirit of compassion and national healing in 1869, when several Congressmen several Congressmen sought to add to Capitol rotunda a huge mural memorializing Lee's capitulation to Grant at Appomattox. Grant would have none of it:
    "No, gentlemen, it won't do. No power on earth will make me agree to your proposal. I will not humiliate General Lee or our Southern friends in depicting their humiliation and then celebrating the event in the nation's capitol."

    We're still waiting for many of our Southern friends to return the favor.

    One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, it's long past time for the dead-enders, hagiographers and opportunists of the Lost Cause to forever renounce the hateful symbols, disgusting slogans and supposed saints of the Confederacy. As the massacre this week by an apparently radicalized Neo-Confederate terrorist at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina should remind everyone, no one who displays that flag can be an American patriot. No state that flies that banner of slavery and fratricide can be considered anything but a national disgrace. And no political party that casually traffics in the racist rhetoric and treasonous tenets of nullification and secession deserves either power or respect.

    Nevertheless, some version of the flag of the Confederacy--responsible for more American deaths than Kaiser Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler, Tojo, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein combined--still flies in South Carolina and Mississippi. And it's not just enthusiasts like George Allen, Rand Paul's "Southern Avenger" and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) who rush to its defense. During the 2012 presidential campaign Newt Gingrich, like George W. Bush, 12 years later, declared, "It's up to the people of South Carolina." In 2008, a group called Americans for the Preservation of American Culture run by a former SCV national commander ran ads attacking Mitt Romney and John McCain over the flag issue. It's no surprise that group favored former Baptist Minister and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

    "You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

    Of course, the one-time Fox News host and two-time GOP White House hopeful Huckabee has plenty of company when it comes to antebellum nostalgia.

    Consider, for example, the example of Virginia Republicans. While Democratic state senator and civil rights leader Henry Marsh was attending President Obama's second inauguration in Washington, Republicans voted for an unprecedented redistricting of their state. But the indignity hardly ended there. As Kevin Drum reported the next day:

    But wait! That's not all. The deed was done on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and at the end of the session Republicans adjourned in memory of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, whose birthday is today.

    That GOP attempted coup died when soon-to-be ex-Republican Governor and former 2016 White House wannabe Bob McDonnell signaled he would not sign the redistricting bill. But in April 2010, Governor McDonnell did sign a proclamation recognizing Confederate History Month and the South's "four year war...for independence." Within days, however, McDonnell was forced to apologize after it was revealed that his proclamation did not recognize the existence slavery. (The next month, Texas conservatives approved an overhaul of the state's textbooks which would remove the word "slave" from the term "slave trade.")

    For then Mississippi Governor and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour, McDonnell's supposed oversight was nothing to get exercised about. As he explained:

    "To me it's a sort of feeling that it's just a nit. That it is not significant. It's trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for diddly."

    Of course, the preservation of white supremacy mattered a great deal to the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to the dreaded White Citizens' Councils of Jim Crow days. Which is why Barbour, who campaigned for governor wearing a lapel pin of the state's Confederate flag he vowed to maintain, was a fixture at the CCC's events. As the Southern Poverty Law Center documented, "Of the 38 current office-holders who've attended CCC events, 26 are state lawmakers -- most of them, 23, from Lott's home state of Mississippi." And among them, as the ADL noted in 2004, was Haley Barbour:

    During the 2003 election, the CCC was at the center of another controversy involving the endorsement of a major politician. In July, Mississippi Republican gubernatorial nominee Haley Barbour, who served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, attended a CCC-sponsored barbecue. Though the attendance of local Republican and Democratic office-seekers at political events partly sponsored by the CCC usually evokes little controversy, this year the group posted on its Web site a photo of Barbour at the barbecue (l. to r.: Mississippi GOP aide Chip Reynolds, State Senator Bucky Huggins, Ray Martin, Barbour, John Thompson, and CCC Field Director Bill Lord.)

    Barbour's fellow Mississippi Republican, Trent Lott, similarly extended a hand to the CCC. The former Senate Majority Leader and later Minority Whip (again, you can't make this stuff up) was a speaker in 1992 at an event of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Among its offerings in seething racial hatred is a "Wanted" poster of Abraham Lincoln. Lott's also offered his rebel yell in the virulently neo-Confederate Southern Partisan, where in 1984 he called the Civil War "the war of aggression." That was years before he lauded the legendary racist and 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond:

    "I want to say this about my state: when Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

    But Strom Thurmond wasn't Lott's only choice as an ideal President. As the National Review recalled after the Thurmond incident in 2002, Lott had long made clear that Jefferson Davis would do quite nicely as well:

    Mississippians sent Lott to the House in 1972. Six years later, his efforts restored Jefferson Davis's citizenship. Lott repeatedly lauded the former Confederate president, a man who endorsed not just segregation, but slavery. Lott crowed in May 1998: "Sometimes I feel closer to Jefferson Davis than any other man in America."

    Lott told Richard T. Hines in the Fall 1984 Southern Partisan magazine, "I think that a lot of the fundamental principles that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party." He argued that Americans in Biloxi, Mississippi and Los Angeles should be free to live their lives without undue federal pressure.

    As it turns out, Lott's path was also traveled by former Missouri Senator and Bush Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Ashcroft granted a long interview with the Southern Partisan, in which he stated:

    "Your magazine helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."

    And for many of today's Republicans, the real perverted agenda is the province of Democrats, and includes health care reform, women's reproductive rights and gun-control among its Yankee sins.

    Take, for example, former Georgia Congressman and failed 2014 Senate candidate Paul Broun. Broun, who boasted that he was the first member of Congress to brand Barack Obama a "Marxist-Leninist", had a different warning in 2010 about what would become the Affordable Care Act:

    "If ObamaCare passes, that free insurance card that's in people's pockets is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between The States -- the Great War of Yankee Aggression."

    As it turns out, Broun wasn't the first Republican to recall the Lost Cause in announcing his opposition to President Obama's policies. In February 2009, Missouri Republican Bryan Stevenson took exception to President Obama's support for the Freedom of Choice Act, legislation which sought to codify the reproductive rights protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide:

    "What we are dealing with today is the greatest power grab by the federal government since the war of northern aggression."

    Of course, the next logical step for the neo-Confederates of the GOP was to threaten secession. And in April 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested to a furious Tea Party rally that the secession option should be on the table:

    Perry told reporters following his speech that Texans might get so frustrated with the government they would want to secede from the union.

    "There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

    To be sure, violating the oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States is an odd definition of patriotism. Sadly for Perry and the GOP secessionists, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia crushed their hopes:

    "If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede."

    But even short of secession, the Party of Lincoln seems determined to unlearn another lesson of the Civil War by championing state nullification of federal laws. Suggesting that South Carolina's effort to nullify federal tariffs starting in 1828 was a blessing, Obamacare foes began claiming state sovereignty trumps the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The new "Tentherism" was embodied by new Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer. As TPM recounted five years ago:

    He has even proposed a state constitutional amendment that would allow federal laws to operate in Minnesota only if they were consented to by super-majorities of the state legislature.

    Now, GOP legislatures are turning to nullification in response to the modest package of gun violence reforms proposed by President Obama. Despite near-universal condemnation from legal scholars calling their proposed state statutes "outrageously unenforceable" and "pure political theater," Republicans in Arizona and Texas are advocating for "gun secession bills" nullifying federal laws and making their enforcement within state lines a felony. Encouraged by Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi Republican state Reps. Gary Chism and Jeff Smith filed (and then mercifully withdrew) a bill to form a "Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Laws." The Mississippi Balance of Powers Act reads in part:

    If the Mississippi State Legislature votes by simple majority to neutralize any federal statute, mandate or executive order on the grounds of its lack of proper constitutionality, then the state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.

    As it turns out, gun control opponents have another argument. If only African-Americans had been armed, slavery would never have happened. As Gun Appreciation Day chairman Larry Ward explained:

    "I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history."

    But slavery wasn't just a chapter in American history. It was, and remains, our original sin. The Democratic Party, once home to the KKK and the white supremacists who called the South home, has had its reckoning with it. In the "greatest trade in American political history," Republicans acquired states' rights, secession and nullification in exchange for Democratic ownership of the general welfare, due process and equal protection in a more perfect Union. Over time, the Party of FDR, JFK and LBJ got New England and the new West, while the solid south went to the Party of Lincoln. Democrats got John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the GOP got Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, David Duke and Steve Scalise. (As the always colorful former Louisiana Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards aptly described Duke, "We're both wizards under the sheets.")

    For today's Republican Party and its stranglehold on the South, Neo-Confederate nostalgia is a feature, not a bug. Obamacare, abortion, gun control and the national debt are just new forms of slavery. If the Supreme Court as expected ends state bans on gay marriage, evangelical leaders and GOP presidential candidates including Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have called for civil disobedience. North Carolina Republicans have told Tar Heel State wedding commissioners they need not do their jobs for same-sex couples. Texas GOP leaders, including Governor Ted Abbott and Congressman Louie Gohmert, have warned that the U.S. military's Jade Helm exercises are just a ruse for the feds to take over the Lone Star State.

    The transformation of Dixie from a Democratic to a Republican bastion has proceeded largely as Nixon Southern Strategy architect Kevin Phillips ("from now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that") hoped and President Lyndon Johnson feared ("there goes the South for a generation"). In a telling moment two generations later, South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted "you lie" at the first African-American President during a joint session of Congress. While many Americans responded with shock and scorn, others replied with cash for Wilson's campaign coffers. One gun manufacturer commemorated the event by offering a receiver for the AR-15 rifle featuring Wilson's words "you lie" etched into the anodized metal. That episode recalled another one involving one of Wilson's Palmetto State predecessors back in 1856, when admirers sent canes to South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks after he viciously caned abolitionist Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in the Capitol. As one laudatory editorial back in Brooks' home state put it:

    "Meetings of approval and sanction will be held, not only in Mr. Brooks' district, but throughout the State at large, and a general and hearty response of approval will re-echo the words, 'Well done,' from Washington to the Rio Grande."

    Nine years later, the troops of General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union army had a different response for the Palmetto State. Fresh off the destruction of Georgia, Sherman's forces entered Charleston--the cradle of secession--in February 1865. As one Union soldier vowed:

    "Here is where treason began and, by God, here is where it will end."

    One hundred and fifty years later, the treason may have been ended. Sadly, the hatreds and symbols have not. And those who hold onto them--whether out of a disgusting and dangerous conviction or from grotesque political opportunism--are committing perhaps the worst sin an American can perpetrate. For them, no repentance can come too soon and no penance can be enough.

    Perrspective 8:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    CBO Once Again Tells GOP Obamacare Repeal Will Increase National Debt

    For all of the disputes and controversies over the Affordable Care Act, one thing has been consistent. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has repeatedly forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. Nevertheless, when CBO told Congress in July 2012 that a repeal of Obamacare would raise the national debt by $109 billion over the ensuing decade, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the agency's supposed "budget gimmickry." Former Speaker and 2012 GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich went even further, declaring "if you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies."

    Now with the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and their man Keith Hall installed as its director, CBO has once told GOP leaders what they don't want to hear. On the eve of the Supreme Court's monumental ruling in King v. Burwell, CBO has again announced that the repeal of Obamacare will cost Uncle Sam hundreds of billions of dollars.

    As Vox explained, just how much red ink the GOP would unleash depends on whether you take into account the supposed "macroeconomic feedback" of the "dynamic scoring" model House Republicans mandated the agency use:

    Repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by at least $137 billion or as much as $353 billion, a new Congressional Budget Office report published Friday finds.

    The report, requested by Senate Republicans, uses two methods to measure the economic effects of Obamacare -- one that looks at the provisions of the law itself, and one that looks at how the act's effects will ripple through the economy.

    It's no mystery why Obamacare's repeal increases deficits. Over 10 years, its $879 billion price tag to cover millions of Americans is more than offset by $1.15 trillion in new revenues and savings from cuts in payments to insurance companies, hospitals and others. By the end of 2016, 19 million more people would be left uninsured as a result of the ACA's repeal even as deficits increased.

    As for the "dynamic scoring" Republicans have begged for to cover up the Treasury-hemorrhaging impact of their various tax schemes appear, the impact is fairly straight-forward as well. CBO has long predicted that the availability of Obamacare would allow some workers to retire early, work-part-time or even their own businesses. Unsurprisingly, the GOP has misrepresented the end of "job lock" as "job-killing." (As former CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf explained, "Other people are generally happy for them and do not describe them as having "lost their jobs.") But the repeal of Obamacare would mean that those 2.3 million people would remain in the workforce, thereby paying more taxes and reducing the annual budget deficit. That's why the "dynamic" score show less reduction in the national debt than the traditional "static" model.

    Regardless, as Vox rightly concluded, "No matter how CBO scores it, Obamacare reduces the deficit."

    Perrspective 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 21, 2015
    GOP Presidential Candidates Snub Major Hispanic Conference for Third Election in a Row

    All eyes in the conservative political world were focused this week on the Faith and Freedom Forum in Washington, DC. There, Politico reported, the entire field of 2016 Republican White House hopefuls auditioned before the evangelical faithful to "depict a Christian world under siege" and "road-test their religious messages."

    But Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and company should have 2,400 miles away in Las Vegas for the 32nd annual convention of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Instead, for the third straight presidential election season, the GOP's best and brightest snubbed a major Hispanic event due to supposed "scheduling conflicts."

    After Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama among Hispanic voters by 71 to 27 percent in 2012, you'd think the 2016 GOP would have made Latino outreach job #1. But as the Washington Post reported, you'd be wrong:

    In an autopsy of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential election loss, the Republican Party concluded it was "imperative" for GOP candidates to step up their engagement with Latinos in order to win back the White House.

    Otherwise, the report said, "they will close their ears to our policies."

    An obvious place to start would be the nation's annual "Latino political convention" here this week in Las Vegas, where more than 1,200 Hispanic leaders have gathered for, among other things, a presidential candidates forum.

    Yet out of the GOP's 16 declared or likely presidential candidates, only one -- retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson -- showed.

    If this scenario sounds familiar, it should.

    In September 2007, the GOP presidential contestants turned their backs on the Univision Hispanic Presidential Forum:

    When Univision-the Spanish-language network with the top-rated local newscast in 16 media markets-scheduled an historic GOP debate on Latino issues for Sept. 16 in Miami, a week after a similar forum for Democrats, only Arizona Sen. John McCain accepted.

    What's worse, in the eyes of national Hispanic leaders and progressives who are keeping count, this is the third time in recent months that Republican presidential candidates have dissed the fastest-growing part of the electorate by passing up chances to address Latinos' concerns about the Iraq war, health care, the economy and immigration.

    And as I described in December 2010, the GOP's would-be presidents "self-deported" before another forum created specifically for them to reach out to Hispanic voters:

    In January, the new Hispanic Leadership Network is hosting a forum to showcase the 2012 Republican presidential field. But while the event is well funded by the conservative American Action Network, it is lacking for one thing: the GOP White House hopefuls themselves.

    As it turned out, only the ill-fated former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty agreed to show up.

    Four years later, only Dr. Ben Carson made the same journey to NALEO as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But while the Democrats each emphasized their support for comprehensive immigration reform, Carson had a different message:

    "We do have an illegal immigration problem that would be solved if you seal the borders and you cease benefits so people wouldn't have a reason to come."

    One official with the nonpartisan NALEO group had this simple message for both Democrats and Republicans. "The path to the White House runs through our community." Apparently, the GOP didn't read the memo.

    Perrspective 9:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    MA Gov. Baker: Just Look Across the Street Before Discussing the Confederate Flag

    Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker found himself under fire for his comments Thursday defending the Confederate flag still flying over the South Carolina capitol grounds in Charleston. But his apology to Bay State residents and the entire pathetic episode could have been avoided had Baker just looked out from the Massachusetts state house in Boston. There, just across Beacon Street, is the monument to the 54th Massachusetts regiment, among the first all-black units to see combat in the Civil War.

    As the National Park Service explains, the 54th faced actual fire from real South Carolinians:

    The Massachusetts 54th Regiment became famous and solidified their place in history following the attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina on July 18, 1863. At least 74 enlisted men and 3 officers were killed in that battle, and scores more were wounded. Colonel Shaw was one of those killed. Sergeant William H. Carney, who was severely injured in the battle, saved the regiment's flag from being captured. He was the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The 54th Regiment also fought in an engagement on James Island, the Battle of Olustee, and at Honey Hill, South Carolina before their return to Boston in September 1865. Only 598 of the original 1,007 men who enlisted were there to take part in the final ceremonies on the Boston Common. In the last two years of the war, it is estimated that over 180,000 African Americans served in the Union forces and were instrumental to the Union's victory.

    That summer, Abraham Lincoln had implored his countrymen to support his promised emancipation of the slaves and the arming of African-American soldiers to help deliver on it. "You say you will not fight to free the negroes," Lincoln admonished his opponents in the North, "Some of them seem willing to fight for you." Through its courage and sacrifice, the 54th Massachusetts butchered that day at Battery Wagner helped change the course of the war and American history. As the New York Tribune later recounted:

    It is not too much to say that if this Massachusetts 54th had faltered when its trial came, two hundred thousand troops for whom it was a pioneer would never put in the field...But it did not falter.

    In the monument (also shown at the conclusion of the 1989 film, Glory), the regiment's white commander Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is depicted leading his troops into battle. Like so many of his soldiers, Shaw was killed at Fort Wagner. Thinking it a humiliation, the victorious Confederates threw his corpse into a mass grave along with the bodies of the unit's black troops. But Shaw's father wouldn't have had it any other way:

    The poor benighted wretches thought they were heaping indignities upon his dead body, but the act recoils upon them...They buried him with his brave, devoted followers who fell dead over him and around him...We can imagine no holier place than that in which he is...nor wish him better company--what a bodyguard he has!

    When he said "my view on stuff like this is that South Carolinians can make their own call" on the Confederate flag which "still hangs there" out of "what I would call sort of tradition, or something like that," Massachusetts Governor Baker must have had his eyes on the 2020 Palmetto State primary.

    They should have been looking across the street.

    Perrspective 9:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    June 19, 2015
    House GOP: End Health Care for Five Million Women to Stop "Big Abortion"

    "It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition." So said President Richard Nixon after signing Title X of the Public Service Health Act of 1970. That vitally important and very successful federal program which now helps fund cancer screening, STD tests, contraception and other health care services for nearly five million low income American women. But now, House Republicans want to kill Title X entirely because they want to stop what current Indiana Governor and former Congressman Mike Pence called "Big Abortion."

    As Huffington Post reported Tuesday:

    The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee released a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 on Tuesday that zeroes out funding for the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program that provides contraceptive and other preventive health services to poor and uninsured individuals who would otherwise lack access to that kind of care. The program subsidizes 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provides no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year. The largest demographic the program serves is reproductive-aged women between 20 and 29 years old.

    This isn't the first time Republican leaders have tried to terminate Title X. In 2012, the GOP's presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for its end, in part as a way to stop all federal funding for Title X grant recipient, Planned Parenthood. (Ironically, Ann and Mitt Romney attended a Planned Parenthood fundraising event during his 1994 run for Massachusetts Senate, even writing a $150 check to the organization.) Mike Pence, who led the GOP's failed 2011 effort to defund Planned Parenthood, explained why Title X had to be zeroed out. In a National Review screed titled, "Battling Big Abortion," the darling of social conservatives charged:

    If the Pence Amendment becomes law, thousands of women's health centers, clinics, and hospitals will still provide assistance to low-income families and women. The Pence Amendment would simply deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood...

    Advocates for the abortion industry have sought to portray efforts to defund Planned Parenthood as a "War on Women," but the issue is big business, and that business is abortion. This legislative battle is about Big Abortion vs. American taxpayers...

    And Big Abortion routinely puts profits over women's health and safety.

    Absent, of course, from Pence's assault on Planned Parenthood were the numbers that debunked his fraudulent charges. As the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus explained in February, Pence's amendment zeroed out $317 million in funding for Title X, a program signed into law in 1970 by Richard Nixon, who proclaimed that "no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."

    Title X clinics serve more than 5 million women annually, the vast majority of them low-income.

    The Guttmacher Institute has estimated that Title X helps prevent nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies annually. The institute says these pregnancies would otherwise result in 433,000 unintended births and 406,000 abortions.

    The inevitable result of eliminating Title X funding would not only be more abortions - it would also be higher bills for taxpayers footing Medicaid and welfare costs for poor children. Guttmacher found that every public dollar invested in family planning care saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures for pregnant women and their babies during the first year of care. Imagine the lifetime savings.

    And then there is the other "important work" that Pence cited: 2.2 million Pap smears, 2.3 million breast exams, nearly 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections.

    The conservative crusade against Title X doesn't just pose a grave threat to the health of millions of American women. As Texas found out in 2012 when it sought to eliminate its own funding for Planned Parenthood, the budgetary math is as horrible as it morality. As the Guttmacher Institute warned, the cost of caring for thousands of additional babies would cost three times more than the money saved. And that's not all:

    The public investment in family planning programs and providers not only helps women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and abortion, but also helps many thousands avoid cervical cancer, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, infertility, and preterm and low birth weight births.

    This investment resulted in net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent.

    So why would supposedly tight-spending Republicans want to choke off the Uncle Sam's high return on investment in Title X? As former the GOP's former number two man in the Senate Jon Kyl (R-AZ) wrongly explained, it's because "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" is related to abortion." Of course, when his 30-fold error was pointed out, Kyl's office protested his lie was "not intended to be a factual statement." Alas, neither is any other statement Republicans make about Title X. Jeopardizing the health of five million women is just the collateral damage in the GOP's war on "Big Abortion."

    Perrspective 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

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