Friday Talking Points -- "Hands Off My Uterus!"

They don't wear funny hats any more, but there still sure are a lot of Puritans in this country these days. It wouldn't surprise me if you told me some red state is going to force every woman who gets birth control to wear a scarlet letter.
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OK, quite obviously, I had to put that subtitle in quote marks, since I do not actually possess a uterus. The quote marks indicate I'm just suggesting it as a slogan for others (those of the female persuasion, of course) to utilize. Just to clear that up, in case you were wondering. But we'll get to all of that in a moment, because first we must attend to our primary chores.

To begin our prognostication of the upcoming Saturday primaries and caucuses, I'd like to aim a quick broadside at the mainstream media, just to get warmed up. During Republican primary season this year, the media has bizarrely continued their Orwellian "some states are more equal than others" philosophy when it comes to paying attention to things. Tomorrow, for instance, the great state of Kansas holds a primary election. It will award 40 delegates -- coincidentally, the exact number of delegates in Iowa and New Hampshire combined. Kansas has more delegates than South Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Arizona, Michigan, and four of the 10 Super Tuesday states. Kansas has exactly the same number of delegates as Mississippi, a state which votes next Tuesday. Kansas has three fewer delegates than the state of Washington, which was similarly ignored by the media (and pollsters) at large.

I have no idea why some states are worthy of the media's attention, and some states are not. Perhaps it is the New York City/Washington, D.C. media bubble. Kansas (and Washington, and Maine, and a few others) simply do not make the cut, for some strange reason. Now, it's easy to see why the very first states in line get an overwhelming amount of attention, but the media focus is inexplicable even once you discount the early excitement. For example, here's a quick quiz: which state had the most delegates on Super Tuesday? It may surprise you to find out that the answer to that question is not "Ohio," but actually "Georgia." Maybe in that case it was anti-Newt bias, who knows? The ways of the mainstream media are too arcane and Byzantine for mere mortals to understand, at times.

But enough of this whacking the media around like a cheap piñata! The only states we ignore in our primary prediction series are those with rules so downright bizarre as to defy an answer to the simple question: "Well, what day do you guys actually vote on?" (Wyoming, we are looking in your direction...). Ahem.

Super Tuesday was a good day for us here, as we achieved a lofty 9-for-10 score in picking winners. The only state we missed was Alaska, which we had awarded to Ron Paul, because we felt sorry for him. This improves our overall record for this election season.

Total correct 2012 primary picks so far: 30 for 46 -- 65 percent.

In addition to the state of Kansas, three U.S. territories will be holding caucuses tomorrow: Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Virgin Islands. Polling is non-existent for all four localities, so we're just going to have to wing it. I'm going to go for a cheap joke, and call all of the island territories for Mitt -- because he likes islands so much, he uses them to do his banking! Also, because Guam was already used as a cheap punchline by Santorum, earlier in the year -- which they have definitely not forgotten in Guam. As for Kansas, I think it's a pretty safe bet that Santorum wins the Sunflower State. Santorum's wins are pretty contiguous when mapped out, and Kansas fits right in with all the bordering states Santorum has so far won (Colorado, Oklahoma, and Missouri).

Those are my picks, let me know yours in the comments, as always.

President Obama gave a wowzer of a speech at the end of February, but we've covered that later in the Talking Points part of the program. You'll also have to wait until then for the reason why Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson deserves an Honorable Mention this week.

Also deserving an Honorable Mention are Senator Mark Udall from Colorado and Representative Adam Smith from Washington state, for sponsoring a bill to end the legal provision for indefinite military detention of American citizens. The bill's chances for passage are doubtful, but that doesn't detract from the importance of the fight. Obama won't be in the Oval Office forever, after all.

But this week, the Most Impressive Democrat of the Week was once again Sandra Fluke. She won her first MIDOTW two weeks ago, which was before Rush Limbaugh's slime hit the airwaves. Since then, she has shown nothing but poise and strength in facing the media storm. If this is the next generation of women's activists, then the future will be a brighter one. President Obama phoned her up just to tell her that her parents should be proud of her, which was exactly the right thing to do.

More power to Sandra Fluke, and more power to those who support her. The way she has conducted herself throughout this fracas has been nothing short of stellar. It is hard to even imagine a better contrast than Rush Limbaugh on the one side, and Ms. Fluke on the other.

For holding her head high throughout the fray, Sandra Fluke is once again our Most Impressive Democrat of the Week.

[Sandra Fluke is a private citizen and our policy is never to provide contact information in such a case.]

If you define it one way, Dennis Kucinich had a pretty disappointing week. Not for anything he did, but for losing his primary race for his House seat. Measured by sheer Democratic disappointment, the Kucinich election certainly was a weighty one.

But, as we said, it wasn't really his fault. His district was merged with another Democrat's district (Ohio lost House seats due to the 2010 Census), and it was only possible for one of them to win. His voice will be missed next year in the House, that is for sure.

But our real Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week this week was none other than Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy, this week, thought it would be a good idea to send the following out on Twitter:

Speaking of prostitutes, big oil's top call girl Sen Inhofe wants to kill fuel economy backed by automakers, small biz, enviros, & consumers

When called on it by Inhofe's office, he doubled-down:

To my critics: What do you call a politician -- democrat or republican -- who sells the public interest for money?

Now, first of all, I understand what Kennedy is saying -- in fact, I have defended the use of the term for exactly the same reasons myself. I even ended my article with almost the exact same language: "Because by my definition, anyone who screws the public over for money is, indeed, a whore."

But even having said that, does anyone really think that this was the best week to use such an analogy? It certainly muddies the waters, and it doesn't make either Kennedy or any other Democrat look good right now.

So, not so much for what he said or even how he said it, but more for his incredibly bad timing, we hereby award Robert F. Kennedy Jr. this week's Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week. Maybe next time, think twice before you tweet.

[Contact Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on his public web page (scroll down to the bottom and click on "Contact"), to let him know what you think of his actions.]

Volume 201 (3/9/12)

We've got two weeks to cover, here (due to our retrospective 200th edition last week), so let's dive right in to this week's Friday Talking Points, offered up (as always) as suggestions for how Democrats should be framing the issues of the day. The first three this week are unrelated (although the first two are from Obama), but the final four are all about the continuing Republican War on Women.

It's all about values

It didn't attract much media notice, but President Obama gave a barn-burner of a speech to the United Auto Workers in Washington, D.C. Admittedly, this is about as friendly an audience as the president can expect to speak in front of, but even so the speech was extraordinarily good. The UAW has the entire video, or if you're pressed for time, you can take a look at a shorter excerpt of just the highlights. From the official transcript, as Obama enters full-on campaign mode, mocking Mitt Romney's stance:

And who knows, maybe the naysayers would finally come around and say that standing by America's workers was the right thing to do. Because, I've got to admit, it's been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history, now that you're back on your feet. The same folks who said, if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, "You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Now they're saying, "We were right all along."

Or you've got folks saying, "Well, the real problem is -- what we really disagreed with was the workers, they all made out like bandits -- that saving the auto industry was just about paying back the unions." Really? I mean, even by the standards of this town, that's a load of you-know-what.

. . .

Let me tell you, I keep on hearing these same folks talk about values all the time. You want to talk about values? Hard work -- that's a value. Looking out for one another -- that's a value. The idea that we're all in it together, and I'm my brother's keeper and sister's keeper -- that's a value.

They're out there talking about you like you're some special interest that needs to be beaten down. Since when are hardworking men and women who are putting in a hard day's work every day -- since when are they special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for one another a bad thing?

I remember my old friend, Ted Kennedy -- he used to say, "What is it about working men and women they find so offensive?"

The price of gas and Iran

While the first talking point is really Obama's alone, this next one can easily be used by any Democrat. All you have to do is quote a line or two (the last two sentences certainly suggest themselves) from the president's recent press conference, and then immediately pivot to the crucial question: "Can anyone advocating militarily attacking Iran answer a very simple question for me -- what do you think the price of gas will be at the pump, the week or the month after we attack Iran? Be honest with the American people." Obama didn't quite connect these dots in his presser, but he sure came close, and laid down the same challenge in a more polite manner. In a response to a question on Iran, which pointed out what the Republican candidates were saying, Obama responded:

Now, what's said on the campaign trail -- those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander-in-chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I'm reminded of the costs involved in war. I'm reminded that the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

This is not a game. There's nothing casual about it. And when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we've been doing over the last three years, it indicates to me that that's more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

Now, the one thing that we have not done is we haven't launched a war. If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so. And they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk.

Another month, another quarter of a million jobs

Democrats need to stop shying away from talking the economy up a little bit. They are currently scared that they'll be perceived as "out of touch" if they paint too rosy a picture, but by shying away from the issue, you'll never be able to paint Republicans as "out of touch" for their constant doom and gloom.

"Did you see the jobs figures that just came out? Another month, another quarter of a million new jobs. When President Obama took office, America was losing three-quarters of a million jobs per month. We now have a continuing net turnaround of one million jobs per month better than 2009. Don't get me wrong, we've still got a long way to go, but let's put the big picture in a little perspective, shall we?"

Hands off my uterus!

Obviously (as I mentioned), this one only works if you happen to be a woman. But every single Democratic woman should be singing the same tune on this one. Democrats are winning this battle, and they are winning over women voters in droves as a result. So don't let up!

"When Democrats were trying to reform healthcare, Republicans darkly warned that the government would somehow be getting in between doctors and patients. Turns out they're just fine with this idea -- but only when the patient is a woman. Republican men in statehouses across the land continue to wage their War on Women, now forcing women to pay for procedures which are medically unnecessary, which neither the woman nor her doctor have ordered. From the halls of the statehouse, old men have decided what is proper medicine for women to receive. That sounds one hell of a lot like government getting between a patient and her doctor, doesn't it? The Republican Party -- the party of big government interfering in personal decisions and mandating what a doctor can say and must do in the examination room. Looks like the future they predicted is coming true, except it is not Obamacare doing it, it is Republican legislators. The hypocrisy is simply astounding. I have a message for these men, from American women: 'Hands off my uterus, Sir! What gives you the right? How dare you tell me and my doctor what we must or mustn't do!' I hope Republicans hear this loud and clear, or they are going to hear this message in a big way, come November."

Second-class citizens

I missed the big Rush Limbaugh pile-on last week, but luckily there's still enough to go around.

"Republicans finally found the cojones to denounce Rush Limbaugh last week -- even if they were pretty timid about it -- because he so clearly crossed a line of decency. But you know what? I'm not impressed. I'm not impressed because this man uses language that is even worse pretty much every day of the week, and nobody says a peep about it. Any woman who stands up for her rights is likened to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich by Rush, every time he uses the disgusting and disgraceful term 'feminazi.' This is nothing short of a blatant attempt by Rush and his supporters to limit women to some sort of second-class citizenship -- citizens who should be seen and not heard. I wish the media would ask every single Republican candidate for office whether they condone Rush Limbaugh's continuing use of 'feminazi' or whether they are man enough to demand he stop comparing American women's rights advocates to Nazi Germany. I've got some news for Rush, and for those Republicans who are too frightened of him to denounce this sort of language -- women can indeed vote now, in this country. And we're going to, this November."

No funny hats, but still...

Lump the entire War on Women together and frame the debate on your terms. Call your opponents what they are.

"They don't wear funny hats any more, but there still sure are a lot of Puritans in this country these days. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if you told me some red state out there is going to force every woman who gets a birth control prescription to wear a scarlet letter on her clothing. The Republicans waging their Puritan War on Women don't just want to take America back to the 1990s, they want to take us all back to the 1690s."

Every sperm is sacred

Some Democrats are fighting back with the best weapon of all: scathing ridicule and mockery. Of course, for scathing ridicule and mockery, Monty Python's Flying Circus still does it best.

"One of the little-noticed battlefields in the Republican War on Women are so-called 'personhood amendments' which would outlaw many common types of contraception for women. Oklahoma state senator Constance Johnson shot back with an amendment of her own, just to show how ridiculous things have now gotten. He bill would have also outlawed, and I quote, 'any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina,' unquote. Call it the 'Every Sperm Is Sacred' bill, if you will. Is this ridiculous? Yes. What is even more ridiculous is the concept of a personhood amendment in the first place, which attempts to legislate not only morality but also science and medicine. I say we let the doctors practice medicine, and leave the outrageousness to Monty Python and other comedians, from now on."

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