November, 2014

A New Wave of Anti-Abortion Laws is Coming

“The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion,” Politico reports.

“Thirteen states have passed bans on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — so-called fetal pain bills — and a couple have enacted earlier limits tied to when a fetal heartbeat is first detected, which can be six or seven weeks into a pregnancy. Several of these state laws are being contested in court, and the arguments may eventually end up in the Supreme Court. But that hasn’t deterred more states from eyeing such legislation; in Ohio, a House panel approved a fetal heartbeat bill just a few days ago.”

“Anti-abortion legislation is especially likely to come up in two of the four legislatures that meet every other year: Texas, which passed sweeping clinic regulations in 2013, and North Dakota, which recently saw its medication abortion restrictions upheld by the state Supreme Court… Activists say they’ll push on several fronts, seeking more restrictions in states that have already enacted laws, as well as initiating legislation in states where the GOP has now gained ground.”

French President’s Ex Gets Even

If Frech President François Hollande hoped Valérie Trierweiler “would keep her counsel—and spare his blushes—after the end of their relationship, he was very wrong,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Revenge for Trierweiler, who is 49, has come in the form of a tell-all memoir, Thank You for This Moment, a scorching attack on her former lover that fast became a bestseller in France (the book has reportedly netted her between 1.3 and 1.7 million euros) and is now available in English. We picked through the book, extracting all the juicy and interesting stuff—and passing by the less interesting French political intrigue—for your enjoyment.”

Why Republicans are Stuck on Immigration

Danny Vinik: “Their political dilemma here is pretty obvioius. They can’t endorse a path to citizenship, or even just legal status for undocumented persons, because the conservative base wouldn’t tolerate it. Ideas that attempt to find some middle ground, like Carson’s proposal, don’t fully address the problem. What the base really wants is to deport almost everyone living in the U.S. illegally—something that’s not possible, as a practical matter, and would be political suicide if somehow it did work. Even those Hispanics sympathetic to the Republican Party now would abandon it.”

“Simply put, the GOP cannot pass anything on immigration without incurring significant political repercussions.”

Obama Approval Drops Among Working Class Whites

President Obama’s “job approval rating among white non-college graduates is at 27% so far in 2014, 14 percentage points lower than among white college graduates. This is the largest yearly gap between these two groups since Obama took office,” a new Gallup poll finds.

“These data underscore the magnitude of the Democratic Party’s problem with working-class whites, among whom Obama lost in the 2012 presidential election, and among whom Democratic House candidates lost in the 2014 U.S. House voting by 30 points.”

Rifts Develop in Democratic Party

“Long-muted tensions within the Democratic Party over policy and strategy are beginning to surface publicly, a sign of leaders looking beyond President Obama’s tenure in the aftermath of the party’s midterm election defeat,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A prominent example came this week, when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gave a rare public rebuke to Mr. Obama over the centerpiece of his presidency: the health-care overhaul of 2010… On the same day, the White House surprised Democratic leaders in the Senate by threatening to veto a tax package negotiated by both parties.”

“The twin developments were among fissures within the party that, at their broadest level, show Democrats at odds over what economic message to present to voters ahead of the 2016 presidential race. Worried that they lacked a compelling position in the midterms, Democrats are split over whether to advance a centrist message or a more populist economic argument that casts everyday families as victims of overly powerful corporations and benighted government policies.”

A Non-Campaign Campaign

“It might have been the neatest political trick of this election season — Gov. Jerry Brown’s ‘non-campaign’ for a historic fourth term that wasn’t really a non-campaign at all, yet managed to hide all the trappings of a traditional political run,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“From Brown’s TV spots for a pair of Mom-and-apple-pie ballot measures to his lone, low-key debate with Republican opponent Neel Kashkari, the plan by a team of veteran San Francisco strategists was to push the governor as ‘the reasonable father figure’ rising above the divisive politics that engulfed the rest of the nation.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll refrain from linking to the numerous pieces today that give advice on how to win a Thanksgiving dinner political argument with those family members you can’t believe share your same heritage.

Instead, my advice is this: don’t fight. Enjoy America’s best holiday!

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]And don’t forget the pie! [/speech_bubble]

An Inside Look at Hillary Clinton’s Speaking Career

Using public documents, the Washington Post got “a rare glimpse into the complex and meticulous backstage efforts” to manage Hillary Clinton’s lucrative speaking career.

The special discounted “university rate” for a talk at the University of California at Los Angeles: $300,000.

“It is commonplace for celebrity speakers to request special accommodations — and Clinton was no exception. Her representatives asked for a case of still water, room temperature, to be deposited stage right. They also asked that ‘a carafe of warm/hot water, coffee cup and saucer, pitcher of room temperature water, water glass, and lemon wed­ges’ be situated both on a table on stage as well as in another room where Clinton would stand for photos with VIPs.”

Obama Builds Environmental Legacy Without New Laws

“President Obama could leave office with the most aggressive, far-reaching environmental legacy of any occupant of the White House. Yet it is very possible that not a single major environmental law will have passed during his two terms in Washington,” the New York Times reports.

“Instead, Mr. Obama has turned to the vast reach of the Clean Air Act of 1970, which some legal experts call the most powerful environmental law in the world. Faced with a Congress that has shut down his attempts to push through an environmental agenda, Mr. Obama is using the authority of the act passed at the birth of the environmental movement to issue a series of landmark regulations on air pollution, from soot to smog, to mercury and planet-warming carbon dioxide.”

GOP Mulls Not Inviting Obama to Give State of the Union

Congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their anger over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and are reportedly considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address,” Politico reports.

As Steve Benen notes, Republicans considered but rejected the same idea in January 1999 after they had impeached President Clinton.

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Perhaps Republicans could have Mitt Romney give the speech and pretend Barack Obama isn’t even president. [/speech_bubble]

Ginsburg Hospitalized for Heart Problem

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent heart surgery Wednesday morning after experiencing discomfort during exercise, NBC News reports.

“Ginsburg, 81, had a stent placed in her right coronary artery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She was resting comfortably and was expected to be discharged within 48 hours, the court said.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]The Ginsburg health watch continues. [/speech_bubble]

How the Iran Nuclear Deal Slipped Away

New York Times: “With a deadline approaching, Mr. Kerry thought the opportunity could be lost unless the Iranians finally offered a breakthrough compromise. But Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, came with little new. Frustrated, Mr. Kerry said there was no way the United States would accept a deal that did not curb Iran’s ability to produce enough fuel for a bomb within a year. The conversation grew heated. The two men, patricians in their own cultures and unaccustomed to shouting, found themselves in the kind of confrontation they had avoided during multiple negotiating sessions over the past year.”

Said one American official: “This was the first time there were raised voices and some unpleasant exchanges.”

Do Democrats Only Have a Message Problem?

Molly Ball: “There’s a predictable debate after every election, as the losing partisans cycle through rationalizations for why they lost. This time, it’s the Democrats, who were slaughtered at an unexpected scale on November 4 and now must reckon with what went wrong and how to move forward.”

“When Republicans went through this two years ago, they were heckled constantly—by both the media and many of their own — about the need to moderate their positions if they ever wanted to win another election. But Democrats today are convinced there’s nothing wrong with what they stand for — if anything, they just need to stand for it louder and more aggressively.”

Fiorina Sees Opening in GOP Presidential Field

“Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner,” former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R) “is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run. Fiorina has been talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week,” the Washington Post reports.

“Fiorina, whose rise from secretary to Silicon Valley corporate chief during the dot-com boom brought her national attention, has refashioned herself as a hard-charging partisan hoping to strike a sharp contrast with the sea of suited men seeking the GOP nomination.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]I’m not sure how losing a U.S. Senate race badly would convince Fiorina to think she should run for president. [/speech_bubble]