Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Being a rising right-wing pol means finding that line between the merely preposterous and the too-preposterous

>

Governor Bob, that cagy pol, knows there's
a line in there somewhere that got crossed.

by Ken

Just last week we were talking about the runaway craziness exploding in the Virginia legislature, now fully Republican thanks to the old principle applied to the even-steven Senate: Ties go to the criminally insane. That post, "Off-the-rails Virginia right-wingers ratchet up the Republican War on Women," referred to a parcel of criminal insanity working its way through the legislature and ultimately destined for the desk of GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell, who's a far-right-wing crackpot by the old standards but by those of 2012 is kind of sort of a, you know, moderate. The governor's game, at any rate, is to appear non-insane, as a cover for a program of insanity.

We'll come back to the governor in a moment. First, the legislature. As our colleague University of Pennsylvania law professor Tobias Barrington Wolff explained at HuffPost Politics ("The Republican War on Women: Invading the Vagina in Virginia," a title he explained he had never dreamt himself titling anything he might ever write):
The Virginia legislature has passed a bill that will force women seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound. The mandated procedure requires that a woman's vagina be distended with a speculum and that a probe be inserted into the vagina and manipulated around so as to produce a high-resolution picture of the uterus and surrounding organs -- once again, for no medically sound reason. Governor Bob McDonnell has said that he will sign the bill. As part of the same package, the legislature also enacted a "personhood" law that would define life to begin at the stage of a fertilized egg, even before implantation, and hence would outlaw many forms of contraception and all abortions.

The Republican Party of Virginia showed no apparent irony in enacting this vaginal invasion bill on Valentine's Day. This, apparently, is what was on their minds.

Professor T had introduced his piece:
The Republican Party has declared war on the dignity of women. This war on women is emerging as a centerpiece of the Republicans' 2012 election strategy. Around the country, women are being told that they should feel shame about their bodies, their sexuality, and the choices that they make as adults. The latest assault is taking place in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the invasion of women's bodies is so literal that it would qualify as farce if it were not chilling reality.

He proceeded to frame the issue graphically (and persuasively):
Take a moment. Try to envision the mindset of a legislator who would enact a bill the sole purpose of which is to mandate the forcible, medically unnecessary invasion of a woman's vagina as the price -- the attempt at forced shame -- for terminating a pregnancy. Whatever a person's views on abortion might be, this is an assault of a different order. It is one thing to believe that abortion should be restricted; it is quite another to use the law to impose humiliation and invasion upon women who seek out the procedure. A person cannot enact such a law without embracing a willful disregard for the personhood and dignity of all women. . . .

Imagine that a State were to enact a law that requires men to undergo an invasive rectal probing and prostate exam, for no medical reason, before obtaining a prescription for Viagra or undergoing a vasectomy. Such a law is unthinkable, because our public policies are responsive to the priorities and sensibilities of men. Protecting the basic dignity of women requires greater vigilance.

Well, it appears that the sound of citizens across the country cackling and hissing at the Diminished State has reached Governor Bob's ears, and the apparent reality is that he leaned on the loon-thugs who pass for legislators in his state to dial back the craziness a notch, at the very least to lose those vaginal probes they were so proud of innovating. As Anita Kumar reports on washingtonpost.com's Virginia Politics blog:
The Virginia House of Delegates voted Wednesday afternoon to amend a proposed bill on ultrasounds before abortions to say that no woman will have to undergo an internal ultrasound involuntarily.

The revised bill says that only an external ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age.

And Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R), the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said she will ask that the bill to be striken.
The action came the same day that Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) reversed course and said he was asking the General Assembly to amend the proposed bill.

In a lengthy statement, McDonnell said he is “pro-life” but that “there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done.”

“Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state,’’ he said. “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that McDonnell (R) had backed off his unconditional support the bill. Up until last weekend, McDonnell and his aides had said the governor would sign the measure if it made it to his desk.
Legislators and governor’s staff met Tuesday night to hash out a compromise that would make the ultrasounds voluntary, several people with knowledge of the meeting said Wednesday. . . .

I trust everyone has noticed how late in the game Governor Bob realized that "mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," and that "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."

What's of interest here, at least to students of the Limits (If Any) of Right- Wing Insanity and Thuggery, is that we now have irrefutable evidence that there is A Line beyond which right-wing sociopaths can't go if they -- or any pathologically ambitious self-promoters in their midst -- wish to retain any credibility outside the right-wing asylum. I'm thinking that it was the vaginal-probe thing, with its evocation of X-Files-style alien insertions, but I can't claim any expertise in matters of right-wing taxonomy.

This line, wherever it lies, might usefully be entered into the database that houses the annals of the craziness-too-far of the fallen-domino string of 2012 GOP presidential front-runners. I don't think the data are going to save us from the juggernaut of far-right-wing craziness. It just suggests that there are, after all, limits.


POSTSCRIPT: THIS PAIR OF LETTERS APPEARED IN TODAY'S POST

Virginia’s right turn: Draconian agenda or common sense?

Regarding the Feb. 19 editorial “Virginia lurches to the right”:

Where did my vote go? I am appalled at what is happening in my home state, and I wonder whose agenda the Virginia legislators are pushing. I didn’t vote for that agenda, and neither did a lot of other Virginia residents. What happened to the focus on jobs and the economy? Who flipped the focus to a draconian social rights agenda when they thought no one was looking?

I may not know where my vote went in the last election, but you can bet I know where it will be going the next time I enter a voting booth. I just hope the representatives I help elect can clearly define what they stand for and then stand up for their beliefs — and their constituents.

Janet Cave Seely, Alexandria

● 

The Post’s premier bit of proof that Virginia Republicans have “lurched to the right” is a proposal that welfare recipients take drug tests. Right: It’s only sheer, mad ideology for a state to ask those whose finances are so wretched that they must depend on the taxpayer for subsistence if they are also taking, recreationally, chemicals likely to render them still more wretched and unable to work.

Ask yourself: Which employer would trust his customers or business to a drug abuser? Few. Which private-sector employers, then, test would-be hires for drugs? Most. How possibly, then, does a state help welfare recipients return to independence by deliberately overlooking their possible drug use? It doesn’t.

This isn’t ideology, left or right. It is common sense.

Alexander McIlheran, Stafford

Um, Alex, is that really all you know about what's going on in Richmond? Or are you just playing dumb? (Of course, if you get all your information from Washington Post editorials, it's perhaps understandable.)
#

Labels: , , ,

5 Comments:

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Ida Jurie said...

Let's not forget that Virginia endorsed these people with their votes. Nuts or not, this is what they believe in. Stupid is as stupid does or just wacko, the end result is insane. Virginia Is For Nutjobs, but it is not alone. For instance, Arizona.

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

No question, Ida.

I would just add, as I did to my post, that some voters are feeling baited-and-switched, like Post reader Janet Cave Seely of Alexandria, whose letter was printed in today's paper:

"Where did my vote go? I am appalled at what is happening in my home state, and I wonder whose agenda the Virginia legislators are pushing. I didn’t vote for that agenda, and neither did a lot of other Virginia residents. What happened to the focus on jobs and the economy? Who flipped the focus to a draconian social rights agenda when they thought no one was looking?"

This could be a useful lesson for gullible voters elsewhere -- if they have any interest in being less gullible. (Not much evidence of that. People who want to be fooled usually get fooled.)

Cheers,
Ken

 
At 8:14 PM, Anonymous me said...

Where did my vote go?

You dumb shit, if you can't answer that question, you got what you deserved.

Everyone with at least two brain cells knows what republicans are like. You can't plead ignorance now. What's happening now in Virginia IS YOUR FAULT.

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous me said...

Anyone else remember the slogan of Virginia's tourism advertising many years ago? "Virginia is for Lovers"

Ha ha, what a joke. At the same time they were running that ad campaign, oral sex was a FELONY in Virginia. Even for married couples.

That place hasn't changed much in 30 years, has it.

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous me said...

And then of course, there was Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that dealt with Mr. and Mrs. Loving having been convicted of a felony by getting married. (The cops, of course, sneaked around trying to catch them fucking too, so they could add to the list of charges.)

This kind of crap is what conservatives are all about, and have been all about for many centuries, and it is why I hate their guts. They'd go back to burning people at the stake if they could. They are the scum of the earth.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home