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April 28, 2005

Comments

As I said when I emailed ObWi about this, I expect someone to show up and say "oh, this happens all the time" or "Dems do it too!" -- and I honestly am curious about whether or not that's so. Because this seems outrageous (and childish) to me.

Yes, I understand that Dems were trying to soften the impact of the bill because they don't agree with it in the first place. That's no excuse.

Oh, and [b]hilzoy[/b]? Since I don't have 10,000 pounds and since I'm currently living in The Dark Ages Of Kansas, I can't ask you to marry me again. But thanks!

Opus: I don't know, but my sense (from reading around while researching this) is that it is not generally done, and that doing it in this way -- not just altering the description, but altering it to make it seem as though the amendments have completely different topics -- is not done at all. However, not being a legislative historian, I can't say for sure.

Irrespective of whether it has historically been done, it shouldn't be -- and since this apparently needs declaring anew every time, that applies irrespective of the parties involved, too.

That said, I'm with Opus' 1:14am post.

Perhaps we should just roll with the punches. As Scott Burns suggests, we can rechristen the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 as the Osama Support Fund:

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P115791.asp

Let's embrace the platform of closing tax loopholes for child molesters (a sentence whose syntactic ambiguity is the stuff of politically exploitation).

In the Republic of Ireland, abortion is illegal.

It is safe for the government of Ireland to indulge the theocrats by keeping abortion illegal, because it is a known fact that women in Ireland who need to terminate their pregnancy go to the UK to get it done there. Travel between Ireland and the UK has never even required a passport (well, it does now, if you're flying, but not to cross borders) and while it's expensive, for most people it's not prohibitively expensive - especially not for something that a woman will need as badly as an abortion.

This was a factor that was simply never publicly acknowledged: as supporters of illegal abortion rarely ever publicly acknowledge that by criminalizing abortion they are not working to end the need for abortion but simply ensuring that abortions will be illegal - or at least, very expensive.

An incident in 1998 forced the government to make public acknowledgement of the safety-valve that permits them to keep abortion illegal; a 13-year-old girl, pregnant as the result of rape, subject to a care order (she had been raped by a member of her family) needed to go to the UK to get an abortion, and legally couldn't without an order from a district court. Naturally enough, the reason given in court was that she needed to get a legal abortion: and, rightly, despite protests from the girl's own father and various anti-abortion groups, she got permission, and got her pregnancy terminated. (There had been a similar case in 1992, with the difference there that the girl's parents had supported her wish for an abortion.)

The law in the Republic of Ireland is stupid and cruel. It's cruel because it supposedly prevents women who need to terminate an unwanted pregnancy from doing so except by seeking an illegal abortion: it's stupid because the framers and enforcers of the law know perfectly well that for all Irish women over the age of 16 who are not completely destitute or friendless, they go to the UK and terminate their pregnancy there. It's a handwashing law.

So, if a 14 year old girl, raped by her father, afraid she's pregnant, gets on a Greyhound bus to go to a state where the doctor who performs the termination won't be required to get the permission of her rapist, the Republicans in the Senate want the bus driver, the cab driver who took her to the station, and the rabbi who went with her to hold her hand, to be prosecuted?

Ireland was landed with a constitution in 1937 that regrettably wrote illegal abortion into the constitution - a provision of considerable misery for women in Ireland, remedied practically only in 1967 when legal abortion became readily available just over the water. But Ireland has Christianity written into the Constitution: and a 1930s Christianity at that. But even in Ireland, they don't prosecute the ferry crew or the plane crew for minors travelling to get an abortion in the UK.

Isn't the US, in theory at least, supposed to be a secular country? Laws criminalizing abortion are theocratic laws - government imposing a religious tenet on people who might otherwise be so unChristian as to ignore it and do what they want.

Dumb ConLaw question - the current Court has narrowed the scope of the Commerce Clause - does this act pass muster according to conservative views?

Yes -- even under Lopez/Morrison, Congress may regulate the channels of interstate commerce or people/things engaged/moving in interstate commerce. Given the Court's precedents (particularly Heart of Atlanta), which Lopez did not overrule, this would very likely fall within Congress' Commerce Power.

Lopez merely said that, if the grounds for regulation were that the regulated behavior substantially affected interstate commerce, the link between the behavior and commerce has to be relatively clear and direct. That's not quite on-point here.

Good lord. This is almost literally the equivalent of a high school student grabbing someone's textbooks or homework, crossing out that person's name in them, and writing "Fag" over and over. Yeesh.

Yes. Grotesque. Ludicrous.

I don't have any legislative experience, so I don't know if this has happened before. I emailed Mark Schmitt ("The Decembrist") who did work on the Hill for a while, and asked him if he'd like to weigh in.

Doubtless there are other readers of this blog who can tell us whether this is as outrageous as it seems, or merely par for the course (say it ain't so).

Childish would be calling the Dems dipsh*ts in print. In the outside world this would be more psychopathic.

Is this an abnerration of Republican behavior or the norm?

It seems to be part of a current pattern of using phony baloney as a political tool. Such as Frist scolding Dems for coining the term "nuclear option", or Rove claiming that Bush sought to compromise by only offering 7 of the 10 contested judicial nominees, or essentially everything that was said by Repubs about Schiavo.

In other words, Repubs in power are deliberately adopting the Big Lie as a standard way of doing business. And as far as I can tell, otherwise intelligent repubs seem just fine with lying for political gain. Either that or living in a make-believe world is the normal way to view political realities.

I can't wait for CB's comment explaining to me how it is the Dems fault that Repubs behave this way.

I happened to catch the debate yesterday on CSPAN. Nadler was pissed, as were Scott and Jackson-Lee. Jackson-Lee over-ran her time and the chair banged his gavel and hollered, "The gentlewoman has exceeded her time... The gentlewoman..." Jackson-Lee kept on for a few more moments, and so did the scolding, louder and louder, "The gentlewoman will suspend...", until she eventually did.

I sometimes keep CSPAN on for the background noise, but the network has been riveting lately. Last week's Senate Foreign Relations Committee episode "GOP Cave-in on Bolton" was quality programing, too. Can't wait for "Filibuster Battle" to air.

It looks like these adults are acting more like hooligans than children.

Honestly, stuff like this worries me far more than the lying on talk shows or right wing radio or the like. The WH defying and ignoring judicial rulings against them, Congress abdicating the unwritten rules that keep things running smoothly... it's like a switch has flipped in the Republican party and its elected officials have suddenly decided that because they can get away with doing a thing, that they should.

But what they are doing is far worse than breaking the law: it is refusing to consent to be bound by rules that hold this system together, the absence of which lead down a slippery slope to anarchy and a national philosophy of might-makes-right.

"it's like a switch has flipped in the Republican party and its elected officials have suddenly decided that because they can get away with doing a thing, that they should."

I've noticed this too. I truly wonder why they want to do this, and am convinced they believe they will never be in the minority again. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would tie this to touch screen voting and purges of voting rolls. Instead, I am simply baffled.

"...rules that hold this system together, the absence of which lead down a slippery slope to anarchy and a national philosophy of might-makes-right."

Regarding said "philosophy", Catsy: what makes you think that today's Republican Party hasn't gotten there already?

I think a "switch" has been flipped, too. The rhetoric is designed, I believe, to ensure that the hard Republican base will not tolerate being in the minority when that day comes. Because God is now the victim of the Blue Meanie secularists, the debate is no longer a debate within the institutions of a Republic. It is being racheted to the next ugly level, and then the ante will be upped again.

Whether it is Gannon/Guckert, the ousting of citizens from Bush's "presentations", the utter rejection of compromise on the filibuster, the statements of Judge Brown and others, the nomination of Bolton, or the behavior described in Hilzoy's post .. these people are fighting very literally on holy ground.

They don't believe they have been elected; they believe they have been Elected. Earthly compromise will not be considered.

Now, I've generalized some here, but all of the good people at Obsidian Wings of all political persuasions must know that generalization in the outside world is increasing, despite our best efforts, and teams are being chosen by the Dobsons, Delays, and the rest. They are just about to the point of issuing uniforms so we can tell the teams apart.

The team chosen for me, apparently, has a logo of me with the flames of hellfire licking at my poor flesh. Look, there is Edward. And Katherine and Hilzoy. Sebastian and Von and Slart don't think they've been drafted yet. Moe Lane quit sports altogether, he thinks. And if Charles Bird keeps being as open-minded as he has been recently (all is relative, ;) ), he's going to be assigned the same uniform as I.

I'm aesthetically a little put-out, cause the uniform is ugly, but I like to win and crush the competition, regardless of the game they make me play.

I keep trying to tell myself that Republicans in general aren't evil, and then an item like Edward's pops up.

Anderson--

Keep telling yourself: Republicans in general are *not* evil.

They are your neighbors down the block, your friends, the parents of your kids' friends. They are Americans, too, and we need to stand in solidarity with them.

It is the current Republican leadership that has taken the party to new depths. And increasingly, the Republicans on your block are waking up and taking notice.

I only hope that when Sensenbrenner's seat is up his challenger unapologetically accuses him of inserting language into amendments that would explicitly protect sexual predators, and of defending that language when Democrats objected to it. Same for any other representatives who were involved in perpetrating this fraud.

Regarding said "philosophy", Catsy: what makes you think that today's Republican Party hasn't gotten there already?

I think that the Republican Party's elected officials in general /have/ gotten there. What I'm worried about is that this will lead to a tit-for-tat breakdown in the courtesies and formalities that allow our system of government to function.

We're already seeing a perfect example of it: the threat by the Democrats to refuse to defer to the majority on setting the agenda if the Republicans break the Senate rules to do away with the filibuster. I understand why, but I still can't help but think that down that road leads anarchy.

O Kitten, note the lack of conservative voices in this thread so far. Is this a comity issue?

No, it's more of an issue with our politicians being just visibly more stupid than yours. Making fun of politicians has outlived its fun-factor for me, even when it's politicians with a (D) beside their name. Even ridiculing the constituency that put them in office has lost its moth/flame appeal.

increasingly, the Republicans on your block are waking up and taking notice.
Wishful thinking, in my experience. Or, if they are taking notice, they tend to see the leadership's hijinks as mere politics, and are far more concerned with a small-govt, low-tax, go-USA agenda that they know they only get from one side of the aisle.

The Republicans on my block may be disgusted with tactics like this, but they are no closer to voting Democrat than they ever were.

That said, I agree with rilkefan - where is Macallan to tell us about how the Dems did this before, and worse, and besides this is just Nadler complaining about not getting his way, and besides, he's technically, very very technically correct so why don't you Dems stop being such a bunch of babies and just move past your pro-sexual predator agenda?

Christ, st, don't tempt fate :)

Slart, did you see this up at John Cole's blog?

st--

"they are no closer to voting Democrat than they ever were."

True. But they are making a lot of noise in the opinion polls, and *something* has Hastert & co. reversing themselves on the ethics committee and similar atrocities.

The Republican leadership is back-peddling on several fronts, and it is not because they are worried about all the Democratic voters they have offended. They are hearing, by one means or another, that they are getting a black eye with their *own* voters. And it is changing their behavior.

And, yeah, I'm guilty of some wishful thinking. I do have a deep faith in my neighbors, even those across the political aisle--we are bound together by more than mere necessity or geographical proximity. The faith that American politics will get back onto a healthier track is based on a faith in the decency of my fellow citizens. And we need some wishful thinking in dark times like these, 'cause the issues are too big to make despondence an allowable response.

"and am convinced they believe they will never be in the minority again"

Interesting. My feeling is it's because they're afraid they'll never be in the majority again and are desperate to get everything done that they can in the meantime. I think if they were convinced of a perpetual majority they'd be a little more languid.

Although it is irrelevant to this thread, please note that Jesurgislac’s account of Irish law is inaccurate. In particular, Ireland was not “landed with a constitution in 1937 that regrettably wrote illegal abortion into the constitution....”

The 1937 constitution did not outlaw abortion. It was already illegal, under the UK Offences Against the Person Act of 1861. Laws passed by the UK government prior to Irish independence remained in force unless they were modified by the Irish parliament.

However in 1983, the constitution was amended by referendum to prevent abortion from being legalised. Ironically, that amendment had the unintended consequence of making abortion legal, in a case where there was a danger of a teenage rape victim committing suicide. This chronology tells the rest of the story. The most recent episode was the defeat">http://www.ireland.com/focus/abortion/news/0307/breaking1.htm">defeat of another referendum in 2002. A Yes vote would have removed the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion.

Tad -
I also have faith in my neighbors, but I have to say, my faith is this: generally speaking, when they say they want small government, low taxes, and an ass-kicking foreign policy, they mean it, and are neither deluded nor stupid.

I'm mis-stating, or at least, vastly over-stating your point, I realize, but I do think that there is a dangerous tendency on our side of the aisle to believe that those who disagree with us are somehow struggling under a delusion, and if they just "wake up," they will see everything from our point of view. In my experience, this is really, really wrong.

Conservativism is not a delusion, it is an internally consistent political philosophy that does not require validation or allowances from the Left. I happen to think that conservatism is also completely wrong for America, and that by privileging and relentlessly glorifying economic inequality, it subverts social justice like cancer hollowing out a healthy cell. But I don't expect anybody to "wake up." They are wide awake and think we are dreaming.

So, it's hopeless? No, but I certainly don't expect anyone to look at bulls**t like that described in the post above and say "My god! These idols I have worshipped have feet of clay! As I didn't really believe my opinions, but only held them because these people, my heroes, did, their venality makes me question everything I believe! Tell me, Chairman Dean, how can I become a better man?"

Again, the sarcasm here isn't really directed at you, Tad, but just at an arbitrarily selected point of frustration about three feet behind and above your head. Sorry.

st--

Thanks for the reply. And no need for apologies--for future reference, you are even allowed to direct sarcasm right at me. I got hit by some once before, and I more or less survived the experience.

I do not share the view--which I agree is a lamentable liberal naivete--that conservatives are really good-hearted liberals who simply need to wake up.

You're right--people who espouse the conservative agenda will not wake up one day and find their inner redistributionist. (Well, a few might, but hoping for *that* really *is* a complete absence of strategy).

What I think my neighbors may wake up to is not that their deepest political convictions are wrong, but that the current leadership of the Republican party is corrupt, venal, and betraying the conservative philosophy as much as it betrays the liberal philosophy.

As several bloggers have noted recently, I would just be happy to see the return of old-fashioned Republicans. I like Ike like I've never liked Ike before.

And that possibility--i.e. the possibility that old-fashioned conservatives may throw off the current Rove/Bush/DeLay gang of monsters--strikes me as a realistic one.

Slart, did you see this up at John Cole's blog?

No, but it's damned funny, and I needed a few laughs.

"...time is made of yellow..."
And note the Evil Bert, with a bonus of evil George Lucas.

Evil Bert?

st,

"where is Macallan to tell us about how the Dems did this before, and worse"

I thought that was Sebastian's shtick, while Macallan has the copyright on the one sentence snarky pseudo-response. :()

st, I don't know about your neighbors, but I think a lot of people who claim to support small government don't really when it comes down to cutting programs. Yes, there are "real" conservatives and libertarians who do, but they're far from the majority. They're outweighed by the "keep the government's hands off my Social Security" folks, including the farmers and businessmen benefiting from government handouts.

Unfortunately, the Thomas website generates a lot of temporary URLs, and some of those were included in this main posting. The bill in question, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, is H.R.748. There are three versions: as introduced, as reported out of committee, and as passed by the house. Here is the URL for all three versions: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.R.748:

Thomas also has a handy legislative summary system, but the URLs aren't fully reproducible. To find out about this bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/search.html and click the "Summary and Status Information" radio button, and in the Search field, enter
Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
This will pull up the Bill Summary and Status page. It includes an link labeled "Amendments" and if you click it, you find three amendments. Rep. Nadler's amendment isn't shown, but Rep. Scott's (taxi drivers, etc.) is there.

Joel R. -- thanks; I've changed the post. How do you get a permanent url out of Thomas?

Off-topic for this thread, but I have to point out the hilariousness of this news release from the ACLJ (you know, the Christian Right version of the ACLU, except they want to take away your rights): ACLJ Calls Senator Frist's Proposal to Break Gridlock on Judicial Nominees ''Imminently Reasonable and Constitutionally Sound''

"Imminently reasonable." Hahahaha. Somebody teach Jay Sekulow about homophones, please.

Wait, don't -- he might be afraid he'll catch teh gay from them.

You say: "I can't provide a link to the amendments, because, oddly enough, their descriptions have not been posted . . ." Just because you can't find them, doesn't mean they weren't posted. Here is the ACTUAL amendment 101 proposed by Rep. Scott (D-VA) to H.R.748:

"Page 3, after line 2, insert the following: `(3) The prohibitions of this section do not apply with respect to conduct by taxi drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport.'"

http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:AoUMrUzTD3wJ:thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/T%3F%26report%3Dhr051%26dbname%3Dcp109%26+scott+amendment+748+taxi&hl=en

If Scott's amendment had been included, I assure you any good criminal defense attorney would quickly find some way to say his (alleged) sexual predator client was also a "taxi driver, bus driver, or somehow in the business of professional transport" and therefore his "conduct" was not prohibited (let alone those sexual predators who actually are transport professionals - it would have exempted them no doubt).

Evil Bert?

Yes, Evil Bert. He's in the film clip you linked to, right next to Osama.

I'm sorry, Jed: how did we get from a law about abortion to a law about sexual predation? Did I miss something?

Well, Jed took care of the "Sensenbrenner was technically correct" part; where's the rest?

The ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee called Sensenbrenner (Judiciary Committee Chairman) on these little snubs. According to Rep. Slaughter: "He said, and I quote...'You don't like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don't like what you said about our bill.'"

And by the way, your mother smells funny, he didn't add.

Now of course this is a cheap partisan political trick, worthy of a fourth-grade playground (which is sad, this is the first time I've seen Sensenbrenner act like a stupid politician). But the real question is why the Republicans feel the need to engage in cheap partisan political tricks. After all, they are the majority; they control all the committees; nothing's passing the House without their consent; and they supposedly feel that they represent the 'silent majority' of Americans. It's almost as if they lack confidence in their ability to maintain power and continue their agenda... as if they fear the Democrats.

http://frassle.net/theRepublicansAre

" "Imminently reasonable." Hahahaha." -- So even the right wing doesn't think Frist's proposal is reasonable now, though it will be reasonable soon. Presumably after he backs down and changes it.

Perhaps it's "gravely and gatheringly reasonable."

I thought it would be a good idea to write to the Wisconsin press about this. Clearly Sensenbrenner isn't embarrassed about defending this 6th-grade behavior when he damn well should be. Maybe if his actions get enough play in Wisconsin newspapers, he'll learn some shame.

If Scott's amendment had been included, I assure you any good criminal defense attorney would quickly find some way to say his (alleged) sexual predator client was also a "taxi driver, bus driver, or somehow in the business of professional transport" and therefore his "conduct" was not prohibited (let alone those sexual predators who actually are transport professionals - it would have exempted them no doubt).

IANAL, but I'd wager than any such argument would get laughed out of court. The key point there is the final clause: "in the business of professional transport." I agree that the amendment should have been written more carefully, but I think it's clear from context -- and I'm confident enough in our courts that this would be upheld, though I recognize that others might not be so optimistic -- that it's referring specifically to acts undertaken by the defendant for which they might be liable under this law. [That is, for the prosecution pursuant to their inadvertent breach of parental notification laws.] Merely being a cabbie isn't enough to exempt the defendant on these grounds; that profession must be relevant to the case brought under this section for this exemption to be relevant.

No, it's more of an issue with our politicians being just visibly more stupid than yours.

There's a difference between being stupid (visibly or no) and deliberately altering the public record on matters of fact, at least in my opinion. If the Republicans on the committee had chosen to hold press conferences, say, on the weaknesses of the amendment, well, that might qualify as stupid (or maybe not, depending on the precise interaction of the amendment and the original bill). To covertly alter the description of the amendment, and in such an offensive fashion -- both in terms of the text and ostensibly in terms of the rationale -- goes beyond "stupid", however, and into realms of pettiness, malice and plain spitefulness.* And for me, at least, it's one thing for a Congresscritter to be venal and corrupt in a banal, mindless sort of way, but quite another them to be, well, mean -- especially in a way that's deliberately disruptive of interparty comity, doubly-especially in a time when interparty comity is so necessary and rare.

* One thing that hasn't come up: what would happen in the 2006 elections if these alterations hadn't been caught? It's not much of a conspiracy theory to suspect that these altered summaries would have been used against Nadler et al. in the campaign, regardless of whether that was their intent; and I haven't the faith in the media nor, sadly, the American public that this would have been revealed as a fraud before doing significant electoral damage.

... these altered summaries would have been used against Nadler et al. in the campaign, regardless of whether that was their intent;

Anarch, I think you have hit the nail on the head. My first thought on reading this was it was planned as material for a campaign ad.

I would not be surprised if this is used anyway. I think back to the campaign ad run against Max Cleland.

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