Fresh Hell: A Rich Vintage from Sour Grapes
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Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 12:52:25 AM EST
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."

Dorothy Parker's phone could be relied upon to jangle an alarm, but these days incoming news drifts into the inbox on little cat feet. Here's just a sampling of "what fresh hell" I found in mine this morning.

Jessica Arons details pro-choice gains from around the country

National Right to Life licks its wounds and prepares to regroup

Some young evangelicals support gay rights over abortion rights

The "Big Tent" is swelled by the ranks of anti-choice Democrats

And some members of the Christian right blame GOP losses on the "Giuliani-McCain-Romney wing of the Republican Party" -- for not being extreme enough in their attacks on abortion

Pour a glass and settle back . . . because you just couldn't make some of this stuff up.

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At the Center for American Progress, Jessica Arons details pro-choice gains from around the country

Voters around the country yesterday demonstrated their aversion to extreme abortion positions. In South Dakota, they resoundly rejected the most radical abortion ban proposed in the states since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Introduced as a direct challenge to Roe, the law would have banned abortion in all circumstances unless it was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman. South Dakotans voted against the ban by a margin of 56 to 44 percent.

Voters also rejected harmful parental notification laws in California and Oregon. They recognized that the laws regulating minors' access to abortion would interfere with teens receiving timely medical care and put the most vulnerable youth in harm's way. The law proposed in California was virtually identical to one that voters rejected last year as well.

Kansans elected a new Attorney General, Paul Morrison, and sent the incumbent Phill Kline packing. Kline routinely abused the authority of his office to pursue a personal, extreme anti-abortion agenda, including a long-fought battle to obtain the private medical records of abortion patients. Once those records were in his possession, sensitive information from them was leaked to Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.

National Right to Life licks its wounds and prepares to regroupPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As already outlined by Joan Bokaer, this midterm election has dealt a huge setback to the ambitions of the Christian right, and National Right to Life is feeling the pain.

About Last Night

There are several pieces of bad news. The House is now in the hands of Democrats whose leadership is pro-abortion, as are most members.

The genius of Congressman Rahm Emanuel (who headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) was to recruit candidates who made all the right sounding noises so that they could appeal in culturally-conservative areas of the South and Midwest.
In addition, parental notification proposals failed in California and Oregon. Meanwhile in Missouri, voters by a narrow margin approved Amendment Two which places the right to clone in the state Constitution.

Finally, last March South Dakota passed a law that bans abortion unless necessary to prevent the death of the mother. ... Opponents secured enough signatures to have the law placed on Tuesday's ballot and yesterday voters rejected the pro-life law.

That's the short-term unpleasantness. But those of us--you and me--who take the long view realize that there are encouraging undercurrents that don't make the headlines.
And Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, did an excellent job this morning highlighting the trends that continue apace, independent of elections. The trends moving in our direction include
· opinion polls about abortion
· the declining number of abortions, abortionists, and abortion mills
· the strong new motivation of our young pro-life activists who know they are abortion survivors
· the growing voice of women and men harmed by abortion, who contradict its promise of "benefit"
· the evidence in science about who the child is
· the medical evidence that abortion is no benefit to women
· the sociological evidence that abortion is no benefit to society
· a new wave of clergy who are more ready for the pro-life battle than ever.

The struggle for reproductive freedom will never really be over, at least not in our lifetimes.

Last night was tough, no two ways about it. But what sticks in my mind is a theme that more and more is making its way into the comments of abortion advocates.

Far more than does the media, and almost as well as we do, they understand that you and I will NEVER go away, NEVER give up.

But elections are like buses; another one will come along soon enough. And what we lost last night we will begin to take back then. Count on it.

As heartened as pro-choice advocates might be by the results of the election, we would do well to take NRL and friends at their word. For as Terry Curtis Fox writes at the Huffington Post, an entire generation of young Americans truly has no idea of what is at stake.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSome young evangelicals support gay rights over abortion rights

The Anti-Rights Democrat

I don't know anyone who was happy to vote for Heath Shuler, the Democrat who campaigned on the code words "our mountain values." Shuler will no doubt vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Given the chance, he'd also vote against gay marriage and against abortion.
For people my age, gay-rights and abortion-rights (or opposition thereto) go together like a horse-and-carriage.

For my students, it's a different matter. Many come from those deep-red, evangelical hills. And yet while they acknowledge homophobic parents, a surprising number of them are not. Simply put, they have to deal with openly gay or gay-friendly fellow students and faculty members. To reject gays would mean to reject specific people they know. And that's something which a lot of them simply refuse to do. Young Congressman-elect Shuler may well represent the last generation to be fundamentally anti-gay.

The same is not true, however, for abortion. The same generational divide which is providing hope for gay rights allows for virulent anti-abortion sentiment. These kids may know gay students; they don't know anyone who has been covered with a blanket in the back seat of a stranger's automobile en route to an illegal abortion. They don't know anyone who's come out of an illegal abortion sterile or who nearly bled to death or was bankrupted trying to get the procedure.

In other words, there's a generation coming of political age who are either pro-gay or gay-neutral but deeply anti-abortion. Shuler half fits them, and he's far more likely to get an opportunity to vote his "mountain values" on abortion than on gay marriage.
Abortion rights may very well become the rights which are left behind (or left segregated to traditionally blue states). If abortion rights and gay rights get a divorce, it won't be abortion rights which remain protected.

We've taken back the House; we have probably taken the Senate; we've forced Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. But just as Democratic power once depended upon the powerful presence of segregationists, the price of that victory has been welcoming anti-rights Democrats like Casey and Shuler into the party.

Depending upon how the Court rules on today's argument, we may all too soon discover whether that price will include women's lives.

Heath Shuler is not alone, but just one more Democrat in an already numerous and ever-growing herd of Trojan donkeys -- a trend vastly encouraging to the Christian right, even if most  pro-choice Democrats would prefer to keep their heads in the sand.

But Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition is paying attention.

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The "Big Tent" is swelled by the ranks of anti-choice Democrats

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting "The most surprising bit of data to come out of last night's election coverage was an exit poll by one of the networks which said that one in three voters who self-identified as 'Evangelical Christians' voted for Democrats.  I know that some Evangelicals voted for Bob Casey, Jr. in Pennsylvania because they, wrongly I believe, felt it would even the score for the banishment of his pro-life father from the Democrat party. Some also voted for conservative Democrat Brad Ellsworth who is pro-life, pro-marriage and fairly conservative on a bunch of other issues.
"It will be interesting to watch these new Members of Congress deal with presumed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco left wing of the party.  People like Brad Ellsworth are going to be as welcome in San Francisco as I am.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnd some members of the Christian right blame GOP losses on the "Giuliani-McCain-Romney wing of the Republican Party" -- for not being extreme enough in their attacks on abortion

According to the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International, the GOP lost the Congress not because they've gone too far to the right, but because they haven't pushed their far-right agenda even harder.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting "If the Republican Party truly wants to know why they lost, they need only look in the mirror.  The most vulnerable seats in both houses were those held by politicians who had abandoned the pro-life and the pro-marriage principles that first brought them to power.  
Some so-called conservative senators were all too happy to water down or jettison their `unwavering' defense of the unborn in the name of political expediency and now they have paid the price.  Self-described Reagan conservative George Allen bragged about owning stock in Barr Pharmaceuticals--the manufacturer of Plan B--and President Bush's shameful support of this deadly drug being sold over the counter deflated conservatives' support of many candidates.

"In Missouri, Sen. Jim Talent fearfully refusal to come out against the state's cloning initiative not only resulted in its passage, but the loss of his Senate seat.  Sen. Rick Santorum's race in Pennsylvania is also telling.  Those who espouse `conventional wisdom' will tell you that issues like abortion never decide a race.  That's a lie, as evidenced by the fact that the Democrats purposely picked a pro-life candidate, recognizing that it would neutralize the greatest advantage Santorum had in his re-election bid.

"The Giuliani-McCain-Romney wing of the Republican Party is responsible for this overwhelming defeat.  If the GOP truly wishes to regain the trust of pro-life, pro-family conservatives, then they must look to leaders like Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)--who has never wavered on his principles or his defense of the innocent unborn--as their model."

Grapes that sour call for a glass of non-sacramental wine.

[Title image: Sour Grapes, Sally Minker]

I was going to add a separate diary entry, but this comment will suffice since it all about the same thing.

James Dobson had his election post-mortem show this morning, with all the usual suspects, including Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins.  After getting the usual non-disclaimer "were not going to talk about politics" out of the way they spent the half-hour dissecting the loss of their favoured Republican Party.

And just like Rush Limbaugh before him, after months of shilling for the Republicans saying that a vote for anyone else would bring down something little short of cultural Armageddon upon us all, he turns around and tells his audience that "the Republicans deserved to lose".

Those ethics problems that were supposedly just isolated issues for one or two bad apples just a week ago (i.e. nothing for voters to worry about) are now a systemic problem for a party no longer true to its conservative roots.   So either Dobson and his pals have had a remarkably sudden epiphany or they have been lying through gritted teeth for the past two years.  No prizes for guess which one is the obvious truth.

Honestly, I was glad I'm not one of those evil robots from a low-budget scifi flick that is finally defeated by being fed contradictory information, otherwise my head might have exploded while listening to the show.

But never fear, the whole cynical exercise will be repeated all over again just in time for November 2008.  It will be fun to watch them squirm should an electable Republican moderate be selected as their candidate, especially if Rudi Giulliani gets the nod.

by tacitus on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 02:28:56 PM EST

And while we're on the subject.  I think that the defeat of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation stung the hardest for most of the religious right punditry.  Both Dobson and Catholic radio were grousing about the result this morning.

Their single biggest gripe was the media's supposed mischaracterization that the abortion ban did not have any exception for rape or incest.  They keep insisting that it did.

To be honest, I was sure who was right until a caller on the Catholic radio show asked the host to explain the details for the exception (he was equally confused).  Turns out, the "exception" would have allowed a rape or incest victim to take Plan B for up to a week after the incident.

So as it happens, contrary to what the religious right has been saying, the voters of South Dakota were well informed about the issue and made the right choice.

This is a classic example of the religious right overreaching.  If they had allowed a proper exception for rape and incest victims, the law would probably have passed the electorate.  This time we have to thank them for the foolish absolutist ways.

by tacitus on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 02:39:22 PM EST

to learn that Tony Perkins agrees with Father Tom.

In the nation's capital, the rain continues to fall, but it seems insignificant compared to last night's storm when the Democrats roared back to power, a victory that eluded them for 12 long years.
But at a closer glance, this "new direction" isn't new at all. Democrats won mainly because they seized on a platform largely forsaken by the GOP--social values. When "integrity voters" saw that Republicans had abandoned their principles, they ultimately abandoned the GOP. From Indiana and Pennsylvania to Florida and Kentucky, Democratic challengers embraced a partisan realignment--not as Nancy Pelosi's radical replicas, but as bona fide men and women of faith.

These proclaimed pro-life, pro-God Democrats, once extinct, have returned to compete for the confidence of voters. And while our issues prevailed at the polls, we have yet to see if they will prevail in Congress.
Make no mistake. The battle in which we are set to engage will be the biggest one we have faced for our core beliefs. The assault against abstinence, marriage, life, good judges, and cloning may be the fiercest yet. As speaker, Rep. Pelosi and the old guard of extremists will pounce on the opportunities that their new committee chairmanships will afford them. Although pro-family Democrats may have tipped the election, watch for them to be marginalized in positions where they have little influence. We must work to peel off this new Congress from their radical leadership and hold them accountable to the standards that elected them.
The integrity voters who overwhelmingly held the GOP accountable will be back in 2008--and the Democrats will have to prove that their conservative credentials are based on more than rhetoric. They have two years to convince the electorate that they belong in power. In the meantime, the pro-family movement must have all hands on deck.

by moiv on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 01:03:42 AM EST
That's funny.  I was listening to Tony Perkins on Dobson's show and this point was brought up--the liberals were trying to "out-conservative" the conservatives.

But it was blatently obvious from their sneering cynicism that they don't trust anyone allied to the Democratic Party to follow through with what Perkins and Dobson would consider a pro-family agenda, not even the so-called conservative Democrats.

Perkin's comments serve two purposes.  First is to absolve the religious-right for the Republican defeat at the polls and, second, to lay the groundwork for the "I told you so--you can't trust any Democrats" that will inevitably follow in a few weeks (if that long).

What I am very much hoping for is that the Democrats will show us what a try pro-family agenda looks like.  Raising the minimum wage and fixing the botched drugs-benefits and bankruptcy legislation are a good start, but there is plenty more that can be done.

If they do it right, then no amout of carping and whining from the religious right will help their bankrupt agenda.

by tacitus on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 12:45:45 PM EST

It appears that despite his promise, Daddy Dobson won't be spiritually available to Pastor Ted after all.

Citing a lack of time, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson withdrew Tuesday from the team overseeing counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard, the evangelical pastor who was fired amid allegations of gay sex and drug use.

"Emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help -- but the reality is I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility," Dobson said.

The other two members of the team, Pastors Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., and Tommy Barnett of First Assembly of God in Phoenix, declined to comment.

There's probably a lot of comment declining in Brother Ted's future.

by moiv on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 01:46:00 AM EST

...and although I was as glad as anyone to see the South Dakota law bite the dust, it must not be forgotten that the EXISTING situation for choice in SD is not so great. No SD doctor will provide an abortion, the cost is prohibitive in such a poor state,  traveling to Sioux Falls is tough if you're in Rapid City, tougher still if you're in Wounded Knee. And when you get there, the waiting room is packed.

SD was a victory. Hurrah. So was Tuesday, in general. But gawdalmighty we have so very far to go.

by Meteor Blades on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 02:27:59 AM EST

Thanks for reminding everyone that this is no time for complacency.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Nov 13, 2006 at 10:36:11 AM EST

But bless Dr. Miriam McCreary.

by moiv on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:09:52 AM EST

They could always drag Ted in to provide the lying hypocrites perspective.

by FreedomfromChains on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:14:30 AM EST

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