Anti-Choice Extremism Will Repel Jews


TPM: American Bridge, the Democratic super PAC, is targeting Mitt Romney online with one of the harshest ‘war on women’-themed spots of the cycle.”

— by Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

Mitt Romney has staked out an aggressively anti-choice stance from the beginning of his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. To this day his website says that ‘he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,’ pledges to end federal funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, and to reinstate the Mexico City Policy, a burdensome policy that undermines the efforts of international organizations to promote safe and effective family planning programs.

He has also gone further, proposing a fiscal plan that would completely eliminate Title X – the only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning – taking a harder line stance than many other pro-life advocates.

But that’s not Romney’s only extremist position when it comes to a woman’s right to make medical decisions about her own body. Last year, when Mitt Romney was asked by Mike Huckabee on FOX News whether, while governor of Massachusetts, he would have ‘supported a constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life as conception’ Romney replied, ‘absolutely.’ And it’s hard to forget earlier this year, when he referred to morning-after pills as ‘abortive pills’ and referred to the president’s health care provision providing free contraception as a ‘violation of conscience’ at a rally in Colorado.

Perhaps Gov. Romney’s most egregious attempt to appeal to anti-choice voters was his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Congressman Ryan proudly cosponsored the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ which only made exceptions for federally funded abortions in the case of “forcible rape,” excluding victims of ‘non-forcible rape’ such as those who are victims of statutory rape, those who are raped while drugged, or those who have a limited mental capacity. Rape is rape, there are no valid distinctions. Congressman Ryan also cosponsored the ‘Sanctity of Human Life Act’ – also known as a ‘Personhood Amendment’ – which would define life as beginning at the moment of fertilization, effectively outlawing abortion, many types of birth control, and procedures like IVF that help couples trying to conceive.

When it comes to a woman’s right to choose, the Romney-Ryan ticket is about as extreme as it gets….

According to the 2012 Jewish Values Survey by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, 95 percent of Jewish Democrats support abortion rights in all or most cases, along with 77 percent of Jewish Republicans. We need a leader who we know we can trust to protect a woman’s right to make her own decision, not Mitt Romney, who would take that right away….

Abortion is a sensitive topic to discuss and one on which not everyone agrees. Nonetheless, the Jewish community seems to speak in virtually one voice on the issue of choice – it is a fundamental and important right that must not be taken away…. For this pro-choice Jewish mother of three, the choice is clear – President Barack Obama will stand up for the rights of women of my generation, and that of my daughters.

Complete article can be read at Haaretz

What Mourdock’s Rape Comments Mean for Jews

— by Ann Lewis

“And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”— Richard Mourdock, U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana

For Jewish voters still thinking about their vote for President of the United States, these comments should sound a loud warning bell: Not because we disagree with Richard Mourdock’s views, or his right to express them — but because he wants to write his own theology into law, imposing his own opinion of God’s will over those who believe differently.

Disturbingly, Richard Murdock has company at the top of the Republican Party. Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan explained that he also wants to outlaw women’s ability to make their own decisions – even in such tragic cases as rape or incest. Ryan said,

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record. I’ve always adopted the idea that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

And presidential nominee Mitt Romney, while announcing that he disagrees with Richard Murdock, has also said that he would be “delighted” to sign legislation that would ban all abortions and strip women of their right to control their bodies.

More after the jump.
And yet Republican partisans, especially those who tell us that they disagree with these positions, claim that attention to women’s health is a diversion — not a real issue. They liken women’s health to a “side show” — as if it were a carnival attraction.

Women’s health and well being is not a “special interest” or a “side issue” or even a “social issue!” The trauma of rape is not easily overlooked by the women who are victims. Serious people cannot consider rape as just one “method of conception!”

The ability of women and their families to be able to choose their own personal options is an essential part of women’s ability to live fully human lives. That means protecting our right to make our health care decisions, according to our own faith, — and yes, our own opinions about what is God’s will!

Richard Mourdock didn’t just reveal his own confusion between his personal beliefs and the role of lawmakers in a democracy — he also reminded us of the importance of the 2012 election.

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) wrote that the

“the next president likely will nominate one or more new Supreme Court justices… The next Senate will be tasked with confirming or rejecting the President’s Supreme Court nominees….”

The decisions that we make this year will determine our laws and how those laws are interpreted in the courts for years to come, impacting our children and our grandchildren in their own life choices.

For American Jews proud of our nation’s history of religious liberty, this approach to lawmaking is especially dangerous.

We have learned through experience to be wary of those who seek to legislate their own interpretations of religious authority.

Will we now allow one particular interpretation of “God’s will” to be written into law? Is this the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren?  

Not if I can help it.

Ann Lewis was Communications Director for President Bill Clinton and a Senior Adviser to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. She is a member of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Chairman’s Council. This editorial appeared in The Huffington Post.

Politifact Gives Thumbs Down On Paul Ryan’s Iran Sanction Claims

— by David Streeter

Politifact’s Ruling (emphasis added):

Ryan argued that ‘this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop (Congress) from putting the tough sanctions in place.’ He’s right that the Obama administration compromised with Russia and China to earn their backing in the U.N. Security Council, and pushed for legislative waivers and other flexibility from Congress as it organized an international coalition to counter Iran.

But just because the administration resisted plans in Congress does not mean it failed to get tough sanctions imposed. In fact, that international diplomacy has resulted in ‘what many now consider to be “crippling” sanctions.’ In fact, there’s now so much economic pressure on Iran that Congress’ research arm reports Iran may soon decide to seek a nuclear compromise.

That’s the opposite of what Ryan’s critique suggests. He employs a sliver of truth in service of a misleading impression. We rate his claim Mostly False.

 

VP Debate Shows Why Obama Is Choice of Most American Jews

(NJDC) In last night’s debate, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) demonstrated the clear contrast between the policies of the two campaigns. In a discussion that covered issues ranging from Iran to health care, Biden showed once again that it’s President Obama and the Democratic Party who share the values of the majority of Jewish voters.

  • With 35 years of foreign policy experience in the Senate, Biden shut down Ryan’s smears against the president’s record on Iran. The Vice President affirmed that

    “We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon” and said about sanctions,

    These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period…The ayatollah sees his economy being crippled… he sees the world for the first time totally united in opposition to him getting a nuclear weapon… That’s why these crippling sanctions, which [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu says we should continue… the fact of the matter is, he says they’re working.

    On the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, Biden reiterated the historically close relationship between the two countries, stating, “The Israelis and the United   States, our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place… there is no difference between our view and theirs.”

    In addition to Politifact exposing one of Ryan’s blatantly false Israel claims, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg added his voice to the chorus of journalists and experts noting that the Romney/Ryan ticket offers little difference from the Obama Administration on Iran by tweeting:

    Ryan is quoting President Obama verbatim on why Iran shouldn’t be allowed to have a nuclear weapon

  • Biden reiterated the importance of this election on the future of the Supreme Court, reminding viewers that the next president will likely get to nominate up to two new justices and that Republican challenger Mitt Romney would likely “appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw abortion.” He also mentioned that Romney’s legal advisor is Robert Bork, who has previously attacked Supreme Court Justice (then nominee) Elena Kagan over her admiration of a distinguished Israeli Supreme Court Justice.
  • Ryan admitted during the debate that his and Romney’s Medicare plan entails telling seniors to “choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums,” which Biden pointed out is the definition of a voucher system. Ryan also agreed with moderator Martha Raddatz that he had previously stood by President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize social security and would continue to do so.
  • NJDC’s Honorary Co-Chair Senator Ron Wyden (D-O) pushed back forcefully on Ryan invoking his name to defend his plans for Medicare. Wyden wrote in a Facebook post:

    The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare pulls the safety net out from under the poorest and most vulnerable seniors, taking away the opportunity for nursing home care from seniors who need it and have no other options.

    The Wyden-Ryan white paper strengthened the safety net for these dual eligibles. The Romney/Ryan version shreds it. The republican ticket knows that neither I, nor any other Democrat, would support these policies.

  • CNN exposed one of Ryan’s major misleading statements regarding the effects of Obamacare on seniors. Their analysis can be viewed in the video on the right.
  • Biden closed the debate by staunchly defending the separation of church and state, particularly regarding a woman’s right to choose, stating that despite his personal views as a Catholic, he would not impose those views on others, and that regardless of religion, “I do not believe that we have a right to tell… women they can’t control their body.”
  • Overall, Ryan spouted off at least 24 myths during his debate performance, according to Think Progress.

As DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, “Tonight’s debate… showcased two very different approaches to facts, details and core convictions: Vice President Biden understands they matter, and Congressman Paul Ryan obviously does not.” This debate has shown yet again why President Obama and Vice President Biden are the clear choice for most Jewish voters.

Click here to read a transcript of the debate

Video of debate follows the jump.

Mitt’s Remaining Taxing Questions

Mitt Romney finally filed his taxes for 2011 and on Friday, Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan made their 2011 returns public along a letter from Romney’s accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers attesting to Romney’s tax rate over the last 20 years.

Romney is hoping these disclosures will end discussion of his personal finances and allow him to turn his campaign in advance of the October 3 debate. However, these disclosures raise perhaps as many questions as they answer.

  • Mitt’s enormous IRA: Romney’s IRA is valued at over $100,000,000. How did he build up such a big retirement fund given the $6,000 legal annual contribution limit. Even assuming a healthy 10% rate of return it would take 78 year for an IRA to grow that much. Did Bain undervalue the assets it contributed in Mitt’s IRA?
  • Cayman Islands: In this 2010 video courtesy of BuzzFeed, Paul Ryan calls the Cayman Islands “the place you hide your money”. We know his running mate Mitt Romney had an offshore bank account there? How long has he had the account? How much money was in it? And how much tax was he able to avoid thereby?
  • Residency: M. S. Bellows of the Guardian has an interesting theory about why Romney refuses to follow the tradition of disclosing his tax returns. Perhaps he is not so worried about the bottom line (how much taxes he paid) but the top lines (his mailing address)!

    Tax returns require taxpayers to state their residence address, and the Romney returns already produced, although partially redacted, state clearly that they lived in ‘Belmont, MA 02478’ in 2012 (tax year 2011) and 2011 (tax year 2010)… But the Romneys, arbitrarily, refuse to disclose a copy of the returns they filed in 2010 or 2009 (for tax years 2009 and 2008) – which, perhaps not coincidentally, bracket the time period when Romney allegedly committed fraud by voting in Massachusetts when he actually resided in California. So here’s the question: did Romney put his son’s basement’s address on the returns he filed in 2009 and 2010? Or did he truthfully use his real (non-Massachusetts) address, thus implicating himself in voter fraud?

  • Missing Millions: According to Rick Newman at US News & World Report, Mitt’s preliminary 2011 tax return showed $20,901,075 in adjusted gross income. His final return shows $13,696,961 in AGI. A $7,204,114 error is not small change! Where does the discrepancy arise?
  • Missing Thousands: Similarly, Paul Ryan’s final return show $64,122 in income that he “forgot” to list in his original return. To Romney that might not be much, but it still represents 20% of Ryan’s income. How could Ryan who chairs the House Budget Committee lose track of 20% of his family income?
  • Donations: Romney had a political problem with his 2011 return. Earlier this year, he said he never paid less that a 13% tax rate, but this year’s taxes were going to work out to a 12.2% rate. In order to avoid this embarrassment, he voluntarily chose to claim only $2.25M out of the $4.02M in donations they listed. This increased their tax rate to 14.1%. According to William Douglas and David Lightman:

    In 2011, the Romney’s charitable cash contributions included $1.115 million to the Mormon church and $214,516 to Tyler Charitable Foundation, a Romney family foundation. The Romneys also claimed a deduction of $920,573 for noncash contributions that were not spelled out in a statement accompanying the return.

    Romney could file an amended return at any time during the next three years and receive a refund of this excess tax. Does he plan to do this? And if not, how does that square with his statement in July

    “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.”

At least there is one question that is off the table for now:

Annotated Lowlights of Paul Ryan’s Acceptance Speech

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

What Paul said, my tags for the bottom of the screen in blue.

Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honored by the support of this convention for vice president of the United States. It's nice to see he mentioned Joe Biden in the first line.

I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old – and I know that we are ready. If every kid was like Paul, they'd get college paid for by Social Security, the reins of a government-subsidized construction firm, and a wife with a giant inheritance.

I’m the newcomer to the campaign, so let me share a first impression. I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power. WOW! I didn't know he considered multiple choice Mittens to be an "opponent" – and he forgot to add"tax returns".

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory. That factory closed in 2008. Before the election. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

The first troubling sign came with the stimulus. It was President Obama’s first and best shot at fixing the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule. It cost $831 billion – the largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government. Um, not really. The Democrats didn't get everything we wanted as we believed in bipartisanship and worked with the GOP. We didn't get half of what we wanted. And as for "one-time expenditures" – we spent more on Iraq and Afghanistan – the large Republican messes. It's the gift we keep on paying for. 

But this president didn’t do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care. Lie #3, but hey, Paul and his family have been getting government paid health care since the day he was elected. Why is it okay for him, but not other people?

Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country. Unlike Paul, I read all 2,700 pages and I can say conclusively that these things DO have a place in a free country. And well, they are enacted in every other industrialized nations (and some that aren't) around the globe.

The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare. It may well come as news to the millions who will vote for Mittens and Eddie Munster, but not to the Supreme Court, nor the millions who vote for Barack Obama, who will win the election.

The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it. That's right, Romney-Ryan is going to stop Medicare. Wait? Did I read that wrong? NO. They want to dismantle the donut-hole fill the ACA put in place (the donut hole Paul voted for), they want to increase the cost to current seniors, and give everyone else a voucher that will go as far towards Medicare premiums as a free Big Mac voucher goes to buying a steak at Ruths Chris.

A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours. Lie #4.

Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it. Yes they do. And they're going to rob the little left for the poor and middle class and give it to themselves, the rich white guys.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America. Thank you teabag idiots, the only people stupid enough to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt. Lies number 5, 6 and 7. Just not objectively true in any regard.

Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. Really, name two. Like voting to repeal the ACA 33 times, and not even bringing a single jobs bill to the floor? Like shutting down the FAA by temporarily defunding them? Like cutting Pell grants? Hey Paul, you've sponsored exactly 2 bills that were enacted in all your 13 years Congress. One of them renamed the Janesville post office, and the other modified the taxes on arrows used in archery equipment. 

My Dad used to say to me: “Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.” Please Paul, be part of the solution. Lose both elections, go home, and never be heard from again.

My Mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Amazing she didn't want to work for the multimillion dollar construction company the rest of the family owns and operates. You know, the one that got big and rich using Federal funds.

We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years. They've never published the actual plan beyond the platitude. And 12 million jobs would dwarf anything the world has ever seen. But I'm game: prove it Paul, or this is lie #8.

In a clean break from the Obama years, and frankly from the years before this president, we will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less. That is enough. The choice is whether to put hard limits on economic growth, or hard limits on the size of government, and we choose to limit government. And that is it: they do choose to limit government. Federal spending at 20% of GDP is only possible if government ceases to exist in most forms. I'll publish the numbers this weekend.

I learned a good deal about economics, and about America, from the author of the Reagan tax reforms – the great Jack Kemp. Jack Kemp lost.

He was the Republican governor of a state where almost nine in ten legislators are Democrats, and yet he balanced the budget without raising taxes. Unemployment went down, household incomes went up, and Massachusetts, under Mitt Romney, saw its credit rating upgraded. Lies #9, 10 and 11.

Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example. Insert list here of pedophile priests, gay evangelical ministers caught on camera, churches closed due to embezzlement and court settlements and the whole Warren Jeffs group.

Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed. We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope. Except, of course, pregnant women who'd die under your belief system because the life of a never-viable ectopic pregnancy is more important to you than the mom. 

Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of our country. Join Mitt Romney and me. Let’s give this effort everything we have. Let’s see this through all the way. Let’s get this done. I'm taking this to heart, Paul. I'm going to give it everything I have to make sure that you guys lose in November. I'm going to see that through. I'm going to get it done, with the help of all the other people in America who believe in America: all its people, all its promise.

Ryan’s Speech Long On “Truth” But Short On Truth

As Paul Ryan said last night, the American people “deserve to hear the truth.”

Unfortunately, his speech while filled with fine rabble-rousing oratory, was characterized mainly by its blatant disregard for the truth.

1. G.M. plant closing in Janesville, WI

Rep. Ryan told a poignant story about the G.M. plant in Janesville, Wisconsin which Obama visited during the 2008 campaign and promised to keep the plant open for 100 years. Obama spoke on February 13, 2008  the day after GM announced a $38.7 billion adjusted net loss. In June 2008, GM announced it was closing the plan, and the plant was essentially such down in December 2008. Thus, “Ryan essentially was criticizing Obama for failing to save a plant that closed before Obama took office.”

Moreover, Obama didn’t promise to save this plant. He promised to save plants like that. And that is exactly what he did when he saved the American automobile industry in 2009.

Was this a careless error on Ryan’s part? No, this is a lie Ryan has told before and has been repeated debunked by the fact checkers.

In fact, Ryan should have known better from the beginning for he along with Wisconsin Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl wrote GM in June 2008 to protest GM’s decision to close the plant. The plant was in Ryan’s district and he was intimately involved in the effort to keep the plant open, so Ryan is well aware that this did not happen under Obama’s watch.

Details about four more lies follow the jump.
2nd Lie: President Obama is the “greatest threat” to Medicare.

Truth: Obama didn’t make any cuts to Medicare benefits; he made cuts to provider reimbursements, to improve cost efficiency and extend the fiscal security of Medicare by eight years. According to the Medicare actuary, “[Obama’s] Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook.”

But Ryan actually does want to cut benefits. He proposed dismantling Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system, leaving millions of seniors to come up with more money to pay for care out of pocket.

3rd Lie: President Obama ignored recommendations of a bipartisan debt commission.

Truth: Paul Ryan actually sat on that commission. And he led Republicans in voting down the commission’s own recommendation. So the commission never gave a report to Obama, because Ryan himself voted to kill the report before it could.

4th Lie: President Obama is responsible for the downgrading of the U.S. Credit Rating.

Truth: House Republicans, including Paul Ryan, held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to try to ransom it for trillions of dollars in cuts to social programs without increasing taxes on the wealthy one dime. Standard & Poors said specifically, “We have changed our assumption on [revenue] because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” That’s why our nation’s credit rating was downgraded.

5th Lie: Ryan wants to protect the “weak.”

Truth: Ryan’s biggest feat in his political career was proposing a budget with dramatic cuts to programs benefiting the poor. He’d cut Medicaid by one third, take away health care insurance from 30 million Americans, and cut Pell Grants for 1 million students. All so that he could give more tax breaks to the rich.

GOP Convention, Night Two: Repelling the American Jewish Vote

— by David Streeter

Despite all claims to the contrary, meeting on the second night of its shortened convention in Tampa, the GOP appeared tonight to be doing everything possible to drive away every last American Jewish voter who might be watching. National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris noted:

Tonight, American Jews saw an over-the-top tribute to one of the greatest opponents of the U.S.-Israel relationship on Capitol Hill — Rep. Ron Paul — with Republican official after Republican official, up to and including Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), singing his praises. Then Jewish voters, whom the GOP claims to prize, got the privilege of hearing from his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who shares so many of his father’s policy positions albeit with less baggage. If they can stay tuned long enough, they’ll have the pleasure of seeing vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, whose social safety net-gutting budget was so widely scored in the Jewish community &jmdash; and who holds so many positions at odds with the values of so many American Jews.

If this is the Republican Party’s idea of Jewish outreach, I can only hope they keep trying.

Video of Rand Paul at the Republican National Convention follows the jump.