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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Marcy Kaptur?

9:32 am in Uncategorized by Sarah Jaffe

Let me explain the cutesy title.

See, 16 Democrats voted to pass HR3 through the house. 16 Democrats voted to ban all federal funding for abortion, to sneakily redefine rape (yes, still) and to essentially slowly strangle private insurance funding for abortion as well.

10 of them co-sponsored the bill. We know about them already.

The other six, well, are mostly more of the same. Jason Altmire, who I’m surprised wasn’t one of the original HR3 Ten, is into paycheck fairness for ladies as long as we agree to have lots of babies. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who most recently sponsored a bill to take greenhouse gases out of the Clean Air act. Tim Holden, another from Pennsylvania, who also doesn’t like environmental protection much. Dale Kildee votes with his party 95% of the time, but can’t bring himself to admit people with uteruses are still people. Jim Matheson, who got a chunk of change from oil & gas and then, shockingly, voted to restart offshore drilling for oil (he’s from Utah, no spills for him!).

I wouldn’t exactly miss any of them.

And then Marcy Kaptur, of Ohio’s 9th. Marcy Kaptur is more than a solidly progressive Democrat–she was one of the fiercest voices on the economic crisis, a fighter who sits on the Appropriations Committee and raises hell, picking fights on behalf of her constituents with Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and others.

In her speech on the bank bailouts, Kaptur told Wall Street:

You have perpetrated the greatest financial crimes ever on this American republic. You think you can get by with it because you are extraordinarily wealthy and the largest contributors to both Presidential and congressional campaigns in both major parties, but you are about to be brought under firm control.

She’s the fourth-longest-serving woman in Congress and the longest in the House. She’s a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus–and is the only one on it who’s anti-choice.

Marcy Kaptur breaks my heart.

Kaptur’s 2010 opponent was Rich Iott, a Tea Party fave who made national headlines for running around in a Nazi uniform as a World War II re-enactor. Classy. But it could’ve been worse–it was almost Joe the Plumber.

But even without the complete horrorshow that would’ve been an Iott or Wurzelbacher stint in Congress, I can’t say that I wouldn’t miss Marcy Kaptur in the House. John Nichols called her 2008′s most valuable congresscritter, and I can’t say that he was wrong–but that was before health care reform, Stupak, and certainly before HR3.

So how do people like me, solidly pro-labor, anti-”free” trade economic populists who also happen to think that abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure that should get the same consideration as any other medical procedure, deal with Marcy Kaptur? How do feminists respond to a badass woman Democrat who happens to give us up on one of the issues that really, really matter?

I have no easy answers, so I resort to Sound of Music references. No progressive is going to challenge Kaptur from the left–not when she’s been there that long. And yet her district voted for Sherrod Brown, who is vocally pro-choice, and helped send him to the Senate. It’s not necessarily that she’s getting a ton of pressure at home–though the Daily Catholic in 2001 did call her one of “Herod’s Heroes” for her “lukewarm” record on abortion. Would more pressure from women’s groups help? Doubtful.

I’m stuck on this one. I really am.

No, It’s Not About “Defunding Democrats”

1:24 pm in Uncategorized by Sarah Jaffe

Most recently, of course, a third target has appeared front and center in the battle to defund the left: public-sector unions, the only sector of organized labor still thriving. New Jersey governor and presidential almost-hopeful Chris Christie was one of the first to gain notoriety for taking them on, but by February, the spotlight had turned to Wisconsin.

That fight, despite Walker’s protestations, had almost nothing to do with the state’s budget deficit and everything to do with decimating a pillar of Democratic Party support. Longtime DC reporter Howard Fineman explained the raw math: Republicans had hoped to take away as many as 20 governorships from the Democrats in the 2010 elections, but in the end they only won 12. Why? “Well,” reports Fineman, “according to postgame analysis by GOP strategists, the power and money of public-employee unions was the reason. ‘We are never going to win most of these states until we can do something about those unions,’ one key operative said at a Washington dinner in November.”

What the Union Fight is Really About: Defunding the Left | Mother Jones

So I’m really, really sick of having to point out over and over again that the “Union-busting is defunding Democrats!” argument is only half the story.

This piece even manages to take several paragraphs to focus clearly on things that aren’t attempts to “defund” Democrats, but rather to disenfranchise voters of color. And yet it’s still titled “Defunding the Left.”

Let’s point out for a second that anyone who’s watched politics over the last I don’t know how many years but it’s longer than my lifetime, Democratic party politics have had little to do with “the Left.”  Heath Shuler and Bill Clinton? Not so much.

Let’s also note that right now, union-busting is a bipartisan affair. Andrew Cuomo may not be taking on unions by trying to take away their collective bargaining rights, but yielding to “pay freeze” language is still making unions take it on the chin. And let’s not forget privatizing services like security guards (Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell, several years ago) and janitors (New Haven, CT’s John DeStefano), which reduces union workforces to much lower paid subcontractors who often have no paid sick days. And Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan’s obsession with “school reform” and non-union charter schools? Democratic. Bipartisan.
Read the rest of this entry →

Meet the HR3 Ten: Joe Donnelly

3:08 pm in Uncategorized by Sarah Jaffe

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten, find all posted to date here.

In the run-up to the 2010 election, Melinda Henneberger at Politics Daily wrote of Joe Donnelly:

Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Donnelly and his Republican challenger in next month’s election, state Rep.Jackie Walorski, have a fair amount in common: Both are pro-gun, pro-life, and oppose climate change legislation, though it’s Donnelly who has been endorsed by the NRA, and he, too, who emphasizes his stand against illegal immigration.
Both candidates are running against Nancy Pelosi and on Hoosier valueswhatever those might be.

Despite running against his own party and its priorities, Joe Donnelly got $770,760.74 in DCCC expenditures in his race. Not bad, eh? Donnelly’s district was a “red to blue” target in 2006, and so the party kept pouring money in to keep him in it.

Molly McClure is from Donnelly’s district, and she notes that while Indiana as a whole is pretty conservative, it did vote for Obama in 2008–the first time a Democrat had taken the state since 1964 and Barry Goldwater’s epic loss. Obama took South Bend/St. Joseph County in ’08, but much of the rest of the district voted McCain. She notes that the district is heavily Catholic–in addition to Notre Dame, other Catholic schools are prominent in the area.

So during the 2010 campaign, Donnelly was running ads slagging his (female) Majority Leader at the time and his (black) president, notably over the issue of immigration. As Greg Sargent noted, he’s from Indiana–not exactly a contentious border state. Yet he couldn’t even bring himself to vote for the DREAM Act to give immigrant kids citizenship if they went to college or joined the military.

And of course, as soon as the election was over, Donnelly didn’t hesitate to jump in for HR3. What better way to prove he’s still independent, right? Although he isn’t (as of yet) a cosponsor of HR358, that hardly makes him a feminist, eh?

He did release this statement on the removal of “forcible” from HR3, but notably says nothing about the fact that he was willing to put his name on the bill as is (and, as of now, it still is).


“I welcome yesterday’s news that Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, the author of H.R. 3, is going to strike the word “forcible” from the bill,” said Donnelly. “Doing so will bring the bill’s language in line with the language of the Hyde Amendment, which has been the law of the land for 35 years. The intention of the bill, as originally drafted, was not to change existing law regarding the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion-related services in cases of rape. Rape is a violent and despicable act in every circumstance. It is my firm belief that our laws should always reflect that fact.”

His other priorities in the current Congress are, apparently, celebrating the goodness of our Catholic schools and the “Collectible Firearms Protection Act.” No word on whether he thinks people ought to be protected from collectible firearms, but he apparently thinks you should be able to import a lot of them.

His top earmarks are defense (obviously) as well as local transportation and a million bucks to his alma mater, Notre Dame. They’ve paid him back with $46,702 in campaign cash, as well.

Donnelly is on the Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises and the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. He’s also on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs,  Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs and the Subcommittee on Health.

Donnelly is just fine with extending the PATRIOT Act and FISA, the Bush-era surveillance programs that have admittedly become slightly more bipartisan since Obama took office. He’s also voted with Republicans on war funding without benchmarks for withdrawal.

He’s been squishy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, first voting against repeal “because the Pentagon study group was still working on its assessment of the impact of a possible lifting of the ban.” He did eventually call for repeal and vote for repeal.

Donnelly appears to have gubernatorial ambitions–and so, apparently does Mike Pence.

Unlike Critz and Shuler, Donnelly did not oppose health care reform and wasn’t on the original Stupak letter, though he did vote for the Stupak amendment and, Molly McClure notes, refuse to vote for health care until Obama committed to the executive order recodifying the Hyde amendment. He also did vote for the stimulus bill, making his claims of supporting “jobs and education” at least sort of valid.

But then we have to ask–if jobs, the deficit, and education are the top priorities for Blue Dogs like Donnelly, why are they going along with a radical antichoice agenda that would deprive pregnant people of access to health care?

You can ask him here or contact:

1530 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3915
Fax: (202) 225-6798

And of course, ask the DCCC why they poured so much money into a Democrat who was running ads against them?

430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500

While you’re at it, you can ask them why they’re only asking for $100,000 for “the DCCC’s Women’s Health Rapid Response Fund.”  Antichoice Dems are worth $3.4 million and women’s health is worth $100,000?

Meet Mike McIntyre next! Meet Heath Shuler and Mark Critz here.

Meet the HR3 Ten: Mark Critz

6:29 am in Uncategorized by Sarah Jaffe

Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA)(source: Wikipedia)

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten, find all posted to date here. Originally posted at RH Reality Check.

Meet Mark Critz. He got a huge chunk of cash from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last election to hold the seat he’d won in a special election after the death of his old boss, John Murtha. How huge? $2,107,202.86

Murtha was best known for coming out loudly and angrily against the Iraq war–as the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a veteran, he was “taken seriously” the way us antiwar ladies usually aren’t. But Murtha wasn’t a dove by nature: he’d voted for the war in ’02, making his claims of being “pro-life” once again a little iffy.

Critz follows in his boss’s footsteps and opposes our right to our own bodies–he’s a cosponsor of HR3 and HR358–the one that would let us die if a doctor thought that saving us might injure a fetus.

Real Clear Politics has some dirt on Critz from his first campaign:

“I’m pro life and pro gun. That’s not a liberal,” Critz says in his own spot.

Critz’s camp also says he opposes a proposed cap-and-trade law, something Murtha voted for when the House first acted on it last year.

These positions reflect the unique character of the district. Democrats have a heavy registration advantage on paper, and Murtha won his seat consistently with little trouble. But it was the only seat in the country carried by John Kerry in 2004 but not by Barack Obama four years later. In the heart of steel and coal country, the Democrats here are far more conservative than the national party, as Murtha was on many issues.

While Critz walks this fine line, his opponent is calling him out. To coincide with Tuesday night’s fundraiser, Republican Tim Burns’ campaign issued a release accusing him of “political double talk,” asking: “If we can’t trust candidate Mark Critz to be honest about his real support for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, why would we ever send him to Congress?”

“Unique,” eh? Let’s just take five seconds to be honest about why Barack Obama didn’t carry that district. It’s the same reason that I and other people canvassing for Obama got chased off of Democratic-registered doorsteps in Pennsylvania during the Democratic primaries. Race.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Meet the HR3 Ten: Heath Shuler

6:57 am in Uncategorized by Sarah Jaffe

So! H.R.3 supposedly won’t redefine rape anymore, but the fight’s just getting started. We learned last week that the new Congress followed H.R. 3 with H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act, which would redefine “conscience” clauses to allow pregnant women to die if saving them would require harming the fetus.

And the thing is, the DCCC and other organizations are blaming this on Republicans. But just like the Stupak-Pitts amendment to healthcare reform, this bill comes to us as a special gift from some Democrats, too. Ten of them cosponsor H.R. 3 and did so even with rape-redefining language; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die.

So let’s get to know them, shall we?

Rep. Heath Shuler (source: House.gov)

Heath Shuler gets my especial ire because he challenged Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader status in the new Congress. Though she easily won, the fact that an antichoice Blue Dog got 43 votes to lead the ostensible Democratic caucus is telling. 24 of the 58 Blue Dogs were defeated in this round of elections, which should’ve taught them the lesson that some of us have been screaming for years–in a choice between Republican-lite and Republican, voters usually go with the real Republican. We can apparently blame Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel for Shuler’s running for office in the first place, and Clinton continued to campaign for him even after he voted against two of his party’s major priorities.

In a week when we’ve been talking a lot about rape and NFL quarterbacks, I think we should note that Shuler is also a former NFL quarterback. Take that how you will. He’s also a member of the Family, the secretive religious group described so well by Jeff Sharlet, and called by the New Yorker a “Frat House for Jesus”. You know, along with such pro-woman great dudes as Jim DeMint.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →