Joplin’s Ron Richard And Why Missouri Is Headed “South”

All you need to know about the state of politics here in Missouri is found in this lede today from the Associated Press:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Federal agents would be sent to jail for enforcing some federal gun control laws under legislation endorsed by a Missouri House panel.

The ridiculous and unconstitutional quasi-secessionist legislation passed the state senate last month. In the mean time, Joplin’s Ron Richard, who is the Senate Majority Leader and who helped craft this revised version of a bill that he voted against last year, said this recently:

We’re the poster child for the second amendment in the country. 

No, we’re the poster child for stupidity, legislative malfeasance, and wasting government resources, since many millions will be needed to defend this nutty idea in court, if it ever becomes law.

In the mean time, to give you a further idea of what it is like here in regressive Missouri, made so with a lot of help from Joplin’s most important state legislator since Moses was floating on the Nile, try this:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said Thursday he support using a rarely used Senate procedure to force a vote on legislation that would triple the current 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

Richard’s response to those who thought that Democrats, what few there are, in the state senate might not like his use of this procedural tactic—which hasn’t been used since 2007, and then, too, on an anti-choice bill—was a classic authoritarian impulse:

We’ve gotten along very well. We’re just in the majority, and I want to do what I want to do.

Some day, God or Allah or demographics willing, the reactionaries won’t be in the majority here in Missouri. But they are in the process of winning the race to the bottom and help better arrive real soon.

The Republican War On Women, State By State

Following up on my last post, here is a depressing chart from Remapping Debate (follow the link and read the short text) on abortion restrictions in the United States. Notice Missouri and all the states that border us here in the southwest corner:

abortion restrictions by state

Iowa Personhood Bill “Just Simplifies Everything”

Undoubtedly, the two Republican front-runners for  the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 are Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, both practicing Catholics.

Here is how Michelle Goldberg accurately described Ryan’s position on abortion:

He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

In the context of the Republican Party platform’s complete ban of abortion—with no exceptions for rape or incest or to save the life of the mother—here is how Marco Rubio answered a question:

Rubio told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer that for those opposed to abortion, “this is not an issue about denying anyone rights. This is an issue about protecting the rights of a human being to live – irrespective of what stage in development they may be. And so I think that’s what Mitt Romney and the Republican Party stand for…It’s about protecting the rights of human beings that have not yet been born.

That’s pretty clear, no? For both Ryan and Rubio, at the earliest stage of development humans have “rights” that trump the rights of their mothers in all circumstances.

Which brings us to this:

Iowa Bill Would Jail Raped Women for ‘Murder’ of Single-Cell Zygotes

A bill introduced by nine Republican state lawmakers in Iowa on Wednesday would define abortion as “murder,” sending doctors and raped women who terminate pregnancies to jail.

State Rep. Tom Shaw says that he authored House File 138 to protect human life, whether “you’re a zygote, an infant, a teenager or an adult.”

The bill defines a “person” as “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.”

“Murder includes killing another person through any means that terminates the life of the other person including but not limited to the use of abortion-inducing drugs,” the measure states without making any exceptions for rape or incest.

Republican state Rep. Rob Bacon, who is co-sponsoring the bill, told the Ames Tribune that he wanted to “protect the life of the unborn” because “[t]here’s still some of us that believe life begins at conception.”

During a Wednesday interview with Denver Bible Church pastor Bob Enyart, Shaw explained that defining a fertilized egg as a “person” in Iowa’s murder statute “just simplifies everything.” 

“So when anyone has any questions towards us — the war on women, are you doing this, are you doing that? — no, it’s a simple response,” he insisted. “We are only defining who a person is.”

“There was a lot of concern with former bills about who would be charged, what would they be charged with… This puts it in the hands of county attorneys, just like any other murder investigation. A person is a person.”

We must thank these Iowa Republicans for following anti-choice logic and making plain what two leaders of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, actually believe the law should be for the entire country, not just Iowa.

And we must thank Democrats in Iowa—who still control the state senate—that this bill has zero chance of becoming law.

The Logic Of Republican Theology

On televisions across the state of Indiana you can see a new ad that features Mitt Romney endorsing Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.  Mittens says:

As senator, Richard will be the 51st vote to repeal and replace government-run health care. Richard will help stop the Reid-Pelosi agenda. There’s so much at stake, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock for U.S. Senate.

You may remember that Mourdock, a teapartier’s teapartier, finished off Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary earlier this year. And now Republicans in Indiana have to live with this extremist, an extremist that an equally extreme Romney endorsed.

On Tuesday night,  Mourdock said this during a debate with his Democratic opponent:

I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have for, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. That it is something that God intended to happen.

Now, first of all, I want to address the “I struggled with it myself for a long time” comment. Richard Mourdock, from all accounts, is not a woman. He can’t “struggle” with anything related to the issue of rape and pregnancy. He can pretend to struggle with it, he can pretend to wring his hands over how difficult an issue it is, but he doesn’t have the slightest idea of what it would mean to be raped and then be forced—by the biggest of big government—to bear the rapist’s child.

It is a perverted mind that believes any man can genuinely speak to this issue, let alone “struggle” with it.

Then we have the issue of a rape-produced pregnancy being “something that God intended to happen.” I applaud Mourdock for following the logic of his fundamentalist views to their proper ends. At least he didn’t dodge what his Iron Age thinking compels him to conclude. If one thinks like Mourdock, the only consistent position he can take is, yes, the government should force women to bear all children conceived, even if they were conceived through violence, through a violation of their bodies.

Except that after the debate, in answering questions about his remarks above, Mourdock eventually betrayed the logic of his theology:

MOURDOCK: What I said was, in answering the question on my position of faith, I said that I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it, that God creates life.

QUESTIONER: And so even if that happens in a rape situation, you still firmly believe that to be true?

MOURDOCK: That God creates life? Absolutely. I mean, God is the only one that can create life.

QUESTIONER: You said, quote, I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen…

MOURDOCK: …that life would be created…

QUESTIONER: …that life specifically?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I think God creates every life.

QUESTIONER: That life was created because of rape. How can you…

MOURDOCK: …no, no, no…

QUESTIONER: …How can you support that?

MOURDOCK: No, no, no. God creates life. God creates life. We don’t make life, uh, you know, in machines. God creates life. It’s a simple fact. I mean, God creates life. Does God want people raped? Of course not.

QUESTIONER: But you believe that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape?

MOURDOCK: Yes, that’s correct.

QUESTIONER: Incest, too?

MOURDOCK: Yes. I’ve said that consistently…

At one point, Mourdock added:

Are you trying to suggest somehow that God preordained rape? No, I don’t think that. Anyone who would suggest that is just sick and twisted. No, that’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.

Sick and twisted? Yes. It would be sick and twisted for someone to suggest that God preordained rape. But such a sick and twisted suggestion logically follows from a belief that God creates and thus necessarily “preordains” life. Even God can’t create something he hasn’t preordained, which is defined as “deciding or determining an outcome or course of action beforehand.”

Therefore, Mourdock’s theology, his firm belief that God creates and thus determines beforehand all life, has to logically lead him to believe that God also preordained the method through which he created that life. There simply isn’t any way around that, even if Mourdock, for political reasons, eventually backed away from that conclusion.

All of which demonstrates just what is wrong with the anti-choice position of zealots like Mourdock. If he were true to this theological beliefs, if he remained steadfast in defending them, he would say, yes, I don’t understand why, but since God creates life, and since a life is sometimes created through the agency of rape, then God necessarily preordains rape.

It is that simple.

And for all you women out there, and for all you men who have sisters, wives, or daughters, if you believe that women’s bodies are nothing more than vehicles for God to act out his indiscriminate life-giving aims, if you believe women’s bodies are a fit subject for neanderthalic men like Richard Mourdock to wage theological and philosophical “struggles” over, then go right ahead and vote for Mourdock and his dreadful but logical conclusions.

And then hope that God won’t choose you or a woman in your life to “create life” in some horrific way.

And while you are at it, you can also vote for Mourdock’s endorser, Mitt Romney, who said in a debate in 2007 that he would “be delighted to sign” a bill “banning all abortions.” Here’s the context of that remark, as provided by ABC News:

“I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period,” Romney said at the time. “That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.”

Pressed CNN host Anderson Cooper, “The question is: Would you sign that bill?”

“Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are,” Romney replied. “That’s not where America is today. Where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.”

Yeah, just terrific.

The national press has done a good job of ignoring the extremism of the Republican Party on the issue of abortion. I am convinced that not enough women, or men for that matter, understand what is at stake in this election, in terms of the reproductive and health care rights of women.

Finally, I want to end with something written about Mourdock and his remarks by Ross Kaminsky, a conservative who writes for the extremist, right-wing rag The American Spectator:

I think he’s just proven himself to be another person whose pro-life gut reactions trump what any intelligent person knows he should be saying in an election campaign — by which I do not mean to imply that he should say anything he doesn’t believe. He simply doesn’t need to say everything he does believe, especially when those things have essentially nothing to do with what the election — or the job he wants — is really about.

You see? Mourdock “doesn’t need to say everything he does believe.” He doesn’t need to reveal how extreme he is. Why? Kaminsky continues:

While his explanations make sense in the context of a religious belief, his comment was political suicide. He might still win his election, and I have to hope he does, but he’s just the latest example of why so many call the GOP the “stupid party.”

Sadly and disturbingly, Kaminsky doesn’t believe the GOP is the “stupid party” for believing such nonsense as Mourdock and Romney believe. No. He believes it is the stupid party for telling voters that they believe it.

And with the aid of a compliant, don’t-offend-the-conservatives press, a press that often glosses over such extremism, that stupid party may soon be running the entire country.

The Republican War On Women

While Americans still wait on the jobs promised by Tea Party Republicans, they can take comfort that those Tea Party Republicans haven’t exactly been doing nothing:

 

It’s important to note that the 2005 number was itself a record. The only question is: Where are the women willing to fight back?  Where are the marches on Washington and the nation-wide protests?

Tea Party Governance In Kansas Means Regulating Abortion Clinics Out Of Business

Whenever you hear Republicans waxing nasty about all the government regulation that hinders businesses and therefore hurts the economy, most of the time you can be confident they are lying through their gold teeth.

Such is the case in neighboring Kansas, where the legislature, completely controlled by Republicans, and the governor, a right-wing Christian Republican fanatic, have conspired to close down the state’s three—three!—remaining abortion clinics by using, what else,  so-called safety regulations, thirty-six pages of which are designed only to put the abortion clinics out of business.

As The Kansas City Star editorialized:

The latest political attack on abortion providers in Kansas is misguided, arrogant and dishonest, and opens up a state struggling to pay for schools to a long list of clearly indefensible lawsuits.

This attack came in the form of what is known as a TRAP law, a “targeted regulation of abortion providers.”

Under the guise of ensuring the safety of patients, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature this year created a new regulation category for abortion providers, and gave the Kansas Department of Health and Environment broad authority to write the rules.

Officials gave the details to abortion providers in mid-June, noting that clinics had until July 1 to be in compliance or lose their license to operate.

The intent was to close down clinics and end the legal practice of abortion in Kansas.

The proof, as the Star offered, is that of the 241 ambulatory surgical clinics, “only the state’s three abortion clinics are subject to these regulations.”  And, “Many regulations have nothing to do with patient safety, and many are impossible to meet within two weeks.”

The editorial makes it clear that those who proposed these regulations aren’t really hiding their motivation: they want to make Kansas “the first abortion-free state.”

Religious zealots and anti-choice fanatics hitched a ride on the Tea Party train as it pulled out of Big Government Station just after President Obama assumed office in 2009, and after the train reached its November 2010 election stop, the zealots and fanatics got off and went to work attacking abortion rights.

The Star:

The attack on legal abortion is a cheap legislative trick to get around the law of the land. Legitimate safety regulations would be phased in, giving clinics time to get up to code. But these regulations were never meant to be legitimate.

Of course not.  And neither were the claims of many in the Tea Party movement who held signs at rallies around the country protesting the size and reach of government and making the outrageous claim that Obama and the Democrats were after our liberties.

What legitimacy there was in the Tea Party movement was soon undermined by Republican political operatives who moved in to take partisan political advantage of the Obama-induced angst on the Right by pretending to run “grassroots” operations.

And worse than that, Christian moralists and quasi-theocrats used the small-government, love-the-Constitution movement to gain power in order to enact their extremist anti-choice agenda, an agenda which includes using state governments to effectively eliminate in America the constitutional right to abortion.

Big government? You betcha.

Orwellian Fever

The South Dakota legislature (guess which party has a super majority?) has sent to the governor a bill that would force women to wait 72 hours, as well as listen to anti-abortion propaganda, before obtaining an abortion.

In what may be the worst example yet of Republican’s embracing big government’s intrusion into the private lives of Americans, a woman facing already difficult circumstances will now have to survive an emotional assault from anti-choice zealots.

Hopefully, this Orwellian law—forcing someone to listen to propaganda—if signed by the governor, will not pass constitutional muster, but these days, it’s a roll of the conservative-loaded dice. 

And these are the same people who believe forcing people to purchase health insurance is an assault on liberty.

Killing Abortion Providers May Soon Be “Justifiable Homicide”

Now  things are getting serious.

Maureen Holland at Whatever Works alerted me to a story on Mother Jones website provocatively titled,

South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

A proposal, which has already been voted out of a House committee (“nine-to-three party-line vote“), would alter, according to Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones,

the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one. 

Right-wing anti-choice bedfellows, including the misnamed Concerned Women for America and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, testified in favor of the law, which was allegedly designed as a “clarification of South Dakota’s justifiable homicide law,” but was further amended in committee by obviously militant anti-choicers, who hate big government unless it serves their parochial moral interests.

Basically, the law would allow as an affirmative defense against a murder charge, protection of an “unborn child.” An affirmative defense is a type of defense that admits an act was committed, but excuses culpability for the act. 

The proposed law is “entitled”:

An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children.

Here is the relevant text:

Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.

Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person in the lawful defense of such person, or of his or her husband, wife, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant, or the unborn child of any such enumerated person, if there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished.

Although this particular proposal is worse than most, there are other obstacles to choice that have been enacted or are pending in state legislatures all over the country, including here in Missouri.  Republicans (who are often aided by anti-choice Democrats) are violating the constitutional rights of women—while they simultaneously and falsely claim they are defenders of the Constitution—and it seems the abortion issue is something that many prominent national Democrats—including President Obama—want to avoid. 

Meanwhile, the Mother Jones article ends with this:

The South Dakota bills reflect a broader national strategy on the part of abortion-rights opponents, says Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate with the Guttmacher Institute, a federal reproductive health advocacy and research group. “They erect a legal barrier, another, and another,” says Nash. “At what point do women say, ‘I can’t climb that mountain’? This is where we’re getting to.”

Ozark Billy Long Signs On To Redefine Rape

One would think that those job-jobs-jobs House Republicans would by now have come up with a magic law that would cause the unemployment rate to fall to Clinton-era respectability. One would think.

And one would think that H.R. 3—the third bill out of the House Republican moot chute—would be named something like the, “Get The Lazy Unemployed Back to Work Act.

But nope.  H.R. 3 is titled, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.”  Get that?  After two years of complaining about Obama’s economy and bemoaning the lack of job growth, newly empowered Republicans have managed to pass a futile health reform repeal bill and now are working on what Sady Doyle at Salon has called, “John Boehner’s push to redefine rape.”  And Billy Long is right in the middle of it.

Yes. Our congressman, Ozark Billy, is co-sponsoring a bill that redefines rape.

The proposal is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting “taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.”  It’s those “other purposes” that should worry women everywhere. 

Sady Doyle discusses the proposal and those other purposes in the context of the Hyde and Stupak amendments, major topics during the health care reform fight last year:

Whereas Stupak-Pitts provides an exemption if “the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest,” and Hyde contains exemptions that are similar, H.R. 3 only provides exemptions if the pregnancy results from “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.”

Get that? “Forcible.”  “If a minor,” it must be “an act of incest.” The changes are intentional and they are not trivial, says Doyle:

This is a calculated move, which will make exemptions for rape and incest survivors practically unenforceable.

I know it’s hard for some people to believe, but there are anti-choice folks out there who don’t think abortion should be legal under any circumstances, rape or incest included. And whittling away at the definition of rape certainly narrows the field of potential candidates. 

Doyle makes her case about what the choice of language means:

Those who were raped while drugged or unconscious, or through means of coercion, would not be covered. Survivors of statutory rape would not be covered: “if a minor,” one is only covered in case of incest. And if one is a survivor of incest, and not a minor, that’s also not covered. Studies of how rapists find and subdue victims reveal that about 70 percent of rapes wouldn’t fall under the “forcible” designation.

Doyle also points out that there is no definite legal understanding of what constitutes “forcible rape,” and then the kicker:

…every survivor who finds herself in need of abortion funding will have to submit her rape for government approval.

Government approval.  Not only would the rapist victimize her, but a woman could be victimized again by a bureaucrat or judge—a rape panel?—who may determine her case doesn’t comport with the “ancient, long-outdated standard of rape law: ‘Utmost resistance’“:

There’s an example of how “utmost resistance” worked in the 1887 text Defences to Crime. In this case, a man was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. (A minor, but not incest: Already convicted by current standards, not enough for H.R. 3.) The attacker held her hands behind her back with one of his hands. I asked my partner to test this move’s “forcefulness,” by holding my wrists the same way; I was unable to break his grip, though he’s not much larger than I am, and it hurt to struggle. The attacker then used his free hand and his leg to force open her legs, knocked her off-balance onto his crotch, and penetrated her.

His conviction was overturned. Because the girl was on top. Then, there were the witnesses: One man watched it all, and noted that “though he heard a kind of screaming at first, the girl made no outcry while the outrage was being perpetrated.” The physician who examined her testified that “there were no bruises on her person.” It was therefore determined that the encounter was consensual. In the words of Defences to Crime, “a mere half-way case will not do … this was not the conduct of a woman jealous of her chastity, shuddering at the thought of dishonor, and flying from pollution.” Stopped screaming eventually? You wanted it.

Rape law is filled with cases like these,” Doyle says. 

The good news about all this is that led by Doyle, there is something of a public outcry about the games anti-choice fanatics are playing with the language.  The bad news is that even if the language is corrected, the bill will move ahead and may become federal law. 

Besides Ozark Billy Long, here are other co-sponsors from Missouri: 

Vicky Hartzler; Todd Akin; Jo Ann Emerson; Sam Graves; Blaine Luetkemeyer

And out of only a handful of Democratic co-sponsors, naturally the Democratic impostor from Oklahoma, Dan Boren, is on the list.

Here is Billy Long’s contact information:  

Joplin:   2727 E. 32nd St., Suite 2    ZIP: 64804

Springfield: 3232 E. Ridgeview St.    ZIP: 65804
Phone: (417) 889-1800   Fax: (417) 889-4915

Washington, DC: 1541 Longworth HOB     ZIP: 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6536  Fax: (202) 225-5604

Official website contact page: https://long.house.gov/contact-me

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