Tag Archives: Washington Post

Kos’ Sunday Talk: That time of the month

Daily Kos

After four years of failed efforts by Congressional Republicans to repeal
it—including more than 50 votes in the House, and a government shutdown
Obamacare is finally coming to an end on Monday; or at least its first open enrollment period is (YMMV).If the numbers provided by the White House are to be believed (not bloody likely), more than 6 million people got health care coverage through the federal and state-run exchanges.

What’s undoubtedly true is that 310+ million Americans lost their religious freedom as a direct result of the law’s contraceptive mandate.

It used to be that a woman could avoid an unwanted pregnancy simply by sticking an aspirin between her knees—or, you know, by keeping her legs closed—but those days are long past.

We now live in a world where colleges are teaching kids the sociology of Miley Cyrus, fer chrissake!

Thanks, Obamacare.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Head of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR); Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (9/11); New Jersey State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D); Roundtable: Former Sen. Rick SantorumAmy Walter (Cook Political Report), Peter Baker (New York Times) and Ithaca, NY Mayor Svante Myrick (D).Face The Nation: Former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; Former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell; NCAA President Mark EmmertRoundtableGwen Ifill (PBS),Carolyn Ryan (New York Times), David Ignatius (Washington Post) and Harvard University Prof. David Gergen.

This Week: New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D); Keith Olbermann (ESPN);Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Republican Strategist Matthew DowdBill Kristol (Weekly Standard) and Former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe.

Fox News Sunday: Sen. Angus King (I-ME); Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY); Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Karl RoveRon Fournier (National Journal), Kimberley Strassel (Wall Street Journal) and Charles Lane (Washington Post).

State of the Union: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Former US Ambassador John Negroponte; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D);  Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Bill Burton, Republican Strategisy Kevin Madden and Darlene Superville (Associated Press).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: an interview with author Michael Lewis about his new book “Flash Boys” (preview); a profile of Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk (preview); and, a musical performance by blind jazz pianist Marcus Roberts (preview).

 

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Boehner’s Obamacare Claim Garners Four Completely False Pinocchios

Yet another fail for Boehner…

Mediaite

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that, based on the numbered of cancelled plans versus number of enrollees, the Affordable Care Act must have resulted in a net loss of insured Americans. Though PolitiFact and Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler had plowed this territory before, both felt that the Speaker of the House making the claim meant it warranted further review.

Those reviews are in. The verdict: nope.

Both fact-checking sites questioned Boehner’s number of those who had plans cancelled because they failed to meet the ACA’s minimum standards (best estimates place that number at under 5 million, not at 6).

Both sites also reminded Boehner that many cancelled polices were extended under the ACA’s fix enacted late last fall that allowed people to keep their policies for another year, while some were moved automatically by their insurance companies to new plans. PolitiFact estimated that the number of people actually left without insurance is about 500,000. Even taking into account that a fraction of those signing up through the ACA’s website were previously uninsured, the number well exceeds those who would have actually lost insurance.

They also found Boehner’s claim failed to include people twenty-six years and younger who were able to join their parents’ health plan, and those who signed up through Medicaid; conservative estimates put those two groups combined at around 5 million.

“Taking the lowest-range estimates, we still end up with nearly 9 million people added to the insurance rolls, more than enough to swamp Boehner’s 6 million figure, which as we noted is a pretty useless number to begin with,” Kessler wrote yesterday, awarding Boehner’s claim four Pinocchios.

On Tuesday, PolitiFact weighed in and called the claim “Completely false“:

It’s bad math for two reasons. First, most of the people who lost their insurance have seen those policies extended to them through an administrative fix, or they received new coverage through their previous insurer or they bought a new plan. Second, he ignores the millions of people who bought coverage off the exchange, those who gained coverage through Medicaid and the under-26 crowd able to remain on their parents’ insurance.

We don’t yet know how many new Americans will ultimately gain coverage. But every indicator right now suggests it will be a net gain.

[h/t PolitiFact / Washington Post]

 

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Sunday Talk: Everybody’s a critic

Daily Kos

With only a few days remaining in the ACA’s open enrollment period, time is running out for President Obama to enslave Americans with his socialist health care coverage.Much to the delight of Death Panel advocates, thus far,  pool of enrollees has skewed older than originally projected.

And so, in an effort to reach the “Young Invincibles” considered crucial to his plan’s success, Obama answered some planted questions from comedian Zach Galifianakis.

Although I’m not a presidential scholar like Bill O’Reilly, I find it impossible to believe that Abraham Lincoln would’ve agreed to do an interview like this while Confederate General Robert E. Lee was watching.

But, really, the worst part of the whole unmajestic episode is that the president wasn’t even as funny as Galifianakis’ previous guestCanadian menace Justin Bieber.

In my humble opinion, Obama shouldn’t quit his day job.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer; Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Sen.Dick Durbin (D-IL); RoundtableJon Ralston (Ralston Reports), Former White House Press Secretary Robert GibbsCarolyn Ryan (New York Times) and Israel Ortega(Heritage Foundation).Face The Nation: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; “Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot Chesley Sullenberger; Former NTSB Chairman  Mark RosenkerBob Orr (CBS News); RoundtableMichael Gerson (Washington Post), Anne Gearan (Washinton Post), Bobby Ghosh (TIME) and Margaret Brennan (CBS News).

This Week: Rep. Peter King (R-NY); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates;  Roundtable: Republican Strategist Matthew Dowd, Georgetown University Prof. Michael Eric DysonWilliam Kristol (Weekly Standard), Katrina Vanden Heuvel (The Nation) and Greta Van Susteren (Fox News).

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); Former Managing Director of the NTSBPeter Goelz; Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN); Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); RoundtableGeorge Will (Washington Post), Judy Woodruff (PBS), Republican Strategist Karl Roveand Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; Air Crash Investigators Colleen KellerSteven Wallace and Richard AboulafiaCommander William Marks of the USS Blue Ridge; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); RNC Chairman Reince PriebusRoundtableCharles Blow (New York Times), Republican Strategist Ana Navarro and Ron Brownstein (National Journal).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: an interview with Bassem Youssef, the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” (preview); a report on the future of drones (preview); and, a look inside Tabasco’s hot sauce empire (preview).

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10 things you need to know today: December 24, 2013

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27.

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The Week

Snowden says “mission accomplished,” Americans get an extra day to enroll for ObamaCare coverage, and more…

1. Snowden says his mission is accomplished
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told The Washington Post — in his first in-person interview since seeking asylum in Russia — that he had “already won” in his effort to expose what he felt was a surveillance system growing out of control. Since he began leaking top-secret NSA documents in April the government has come under intense pressure to curb the spying. “The mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden said. [Washington Post]
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2. ObamaCare signup extended by 24 hours after last-minute rush
The Obama administration extended the deadline to enroll for health coverage taking effect Jan. 1 by one day after people swamped HealthCare.gov in a last-minute rush to sign up. More than one million people had visited the ObamaCare website by 5 p.m., five times as many as the Monday before. The one-day grace period was the latest in a series of accommodations the administration has made to make up for the site’s disastrous Oct. 1 launch. [New York Times]
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3. Obama signs up for ObamaCare insurance in a symbolic gesture
As the deadline to enroll for ObamaCare health coverage to begin Jan. 1 arrived, President Obama signed up for a new insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act’s online exchange, the White House said Monday. Obama’s enrollment in a Bronze plan on the Washington, D.C., exchange was just symbolic, though, because he receives care from the White House Medical Unit’s military doctors. [TIME]
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4. Retailers get creative to get procrastinators into stores
Sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell by 2.1 percent last weekend compared to last year, according to data firm ShopperTrak. The dip on the final weekend of holiday shopping — the busiest of the year — followed a weak Thanksgiving weekend at the start of the season. Retailers are experimenting with new ways to lure in Christmas procrastinators, including expanding lists of items people can purchase online and pick up in stores. [Reuters]
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5. Judge refuses to delay his ruling allowing gay marriage in Utah
A judge in Utah declined to delay his own decision that gay marriages must be allowed in the state. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled last week that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making the state the 18th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to get married. Utah Governor Gary Herbert was trying to block the granting of marriage licenses while he appeals to a higher court. [Reuters]
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6. U.S. Marines prepare to enter South Sudan if necessary
The U.S. military has moved a force of 150 Marines to the Horn of Africa so they would be ready to enter South Sudan to help evacuate Americans and protect the U.S. Embassy if fighting between government forces and rebels gets worse, American officials said Monday. Some Americans have already been evacuated, but there are still many U.S. citizens in the world’s newest country. [CNN]
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7. Family fights to keep girl on life support
The family of California teen Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead on Dec. 12 after routine tonsil surgery, said she would probably be kept on life support through Christmas. The girl’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, won a court restraining order barring the hospital from removing Jahi, 13, from her respirator. The hospital wants the restraining order lifted, but the family is fighting to keep the girl alive, hoping she’ll recover. [ABC News]
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8. Egyptian government calls the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
A car bombing killed 13 people and wounded 130 more at a police compound in Egypt’s Nile Delta on Tuesday. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the military ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July. The army-backed government’s cabinet responded by labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, without specifically blaming the now-banned pro-Morsi Islamist group for the attack. The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing, too. [Reuters,Ahram Online]
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9. The father of the AK-47 dies in Russia
Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, designer of a Soviet assault rifle that became the most widely used firearm ever, died Monday in the Russian republic of Udmurtia. He was 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and used self-taught mechanical skills to develop the now-ubiquitous guns with trademark curved magazines. His role in the AK-47′s creation vaulted him to high positions in the Red Army and six terms on the Supreme Soviet legislative body. [New York Times]
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10. Auburn’s Malzahn named AP‘s coach of the year
Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn has been named The Associated Press national coach of the year after taking a demoralized team coming off its worst season in decades and turning it into one of the best teams in the country. Malzahn, with his aggressive offense, led the second-ranked Tigers to a Southeastern Conference championship and into a Jan. 6 national championship game against No. 1 Florida State. [Associated Press]

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An alternative look at Obama’s 5th year

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media before a meeting with mayors and newly-elected mayors from across the country, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media before a meeting with mayors and newly-elected mayors from across the country, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. CAROLYN KASTER/AP PHOTO

MSNBC

When books are written on Barack Obama’s presidency, it’s unlikely that his fifth year will be celebrated as the pinnacle of his tenure. On the contrary, it’s a year White House officials almost certainly consider a disappointment.

But I’m not sure it’s been quite as disastrous as advertised.
For much of the Beltway, that the year was an abject disaster is a foregone conclusion. “Little seems to have gone right for the White House in 2013,” Politico noted this morning in a piece asking which administration had the worst fifth year. Obama had the “worst year in Washington,” the Washington Postconcluded last week. 2013 “has been a pretty terrible year” for the president, BuzzFeed argued.
This has been “Obama’s year from hell,” The New Republic said. When Beltway pundits aren’t comparing Obama’s 2013 to George W. Bush’s 5th year, they’re comparing it Richard Nixon’s 5th year.
Even the most enthusiastic Obama supporter would probably balk at heralding 2013 as a success, but the premise of these analyses seems a little excessive. Consider:
* Twice congressional Republicans threatened debt-ceiling default; twice Obama stood his ground; and twice the GOP backed down before Congress did real harm. The presidential leadership helped establish a new precedent that will benefit Obama, his successors, and the country.
* Congressional Republicans shut down the government to extract White House concessions. Obama and congressional Democrats stood firm and the GOP backed down.
* The Obama administration forged an international agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons, struck a historic nuclear deal with Iran, and brought Israelis and Palestinians to the table together for the first peace talks in years.
* The economy has steadily improved, and 2013 is on pace to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 2005 and the second best since 1999.
* The “scandals” the media hyped relentlessly in the spring proved to be largely meaningless, and while the president’s poll numbers have dropped, his standing is roughly at the same point as two years ago.
Obviously, the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period got off to a dreadful start, though there’s ample evidence that the system is the midst of a dramatic turnaround. Besides, two months of website troubles do not a year make.
And while Obama’s detractors will also note that no major legislation was signed into law this year, that just makes 2013 identical to 2011 and 2012 – when Americans elected a divided government featuring radicalized Republicans unwilling to compromise, the fate of good bills with popular support was sealed, but that’s hardly the White House’s fault.
Songs will never be sung in honor of Obama’s fifth year, but the “year from hell” talk seems disproportionate given the circumstances. There have been disappointments, but 2013 just hasn’t been that bad.

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Is Obama really doing worse than Bush and Nixon?

Don’t count him out just yet. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Week

Obama’s dismal poll numbers are prompting dire predictions about what’s in store for the rest of his presidency

ne year removed from a comfortable reelection, President Obama is now mired in the lowest point, at least in terms of public opinion, of his presidency.

Battered by a litany of bad headlines, the president’s approval rating has steadily fallen throughout the year, bottoming out in recent weeks in the low 40s. In a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday, 43 percent of Americans said they approved of Obama’s job performance, while 55 percent disapproved.

Given that trend, Obama’s sputtering presidency is drawing comparisons to those of other recent presidents with dismal second terms. In particular, Obama’s presidency has been likened to that of George W. Bush, since the two presidents’ second term approval ratings charted strikingly similar paths.

Yet while Obama’s woes are quite serious, the hyperventilating comparisons overstate the degree to which he is in jeopardy of going the way of his predecessor.

To be sure, Obama is hardly in a good place for a second-term president with an ambitious agenda. He’s been dogged all year by mini-scandals and a do-nothing Congress, culminating with the government shutdown and, more pertinently, ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout. In November, a majority of Americans for the first time didn’t find Obama honest or trustworthy, a supposed death knell, some said, for Obama’s presidency.

“Once a president suffers a blow such as Obama is now suffering with his health-care law, it is difficult to recover,” wrote the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, adding that it was “starting to look as if it may be game over.”

Yet one month removed from that prognostication, there are signs Obama could be about to turn his presidency around.

On an important front, Obama has already regained the public trust. According to the last Post/ABC survey, majorities once again think Obama is honest and that he understands the problems of regular people. And though Obama’s approval rating is still horrendous, it appears to have at least plateaued.

Focusing solely on the raw polling numbers though, sans context, Obama’s presidency does stack up unfavorably to that of past presidents. As Business Insider noted, Obama’s approval rating is the lowest for a president at this point in his tenure since Richard Nixon and his Watergate-fueled 29 percent.

But that’s a horribly misleading comparison.

Of the six presidents in between Nixon and Obama, three never served a second term and so don’t fit into the comparison. And though George W. Bush had a marginally better approval rating in thePost’s final 2005 poll, his numbers overall were right in line with where Obama’s are now. (Obama has a marginal edge at present per Gallup, for instance.)

So, to rephrase the Nixon comparison with those qualifiers in mind: Obama’s approval rating is tied or better than that of all but two of the past five two-term presidents through this point in their presidencies. Not so dire (and clicky) now, is it?

Moreover, these reductive comparisons tend to strip out necessary context.

Bush’s poll numbers post-Katrina only soured as the Iraq War worsened and Americans turned, in huge numbers, against it. Obama’s biggest blow this year, by contrast, was the terrible debut of his health care law.

A continuous stream of bad headlines about ObamaCare could certainly further erode the president’s standing over the coming months and years. On the other hand, ObamaCare is finally on the mend. Enrollments are, though still below expectations, surging. And polls have shown the public beginning to come around on the health care law. A recent CBS/New York Times survey, for instance, found that opposition to ObamaCare had dropped a net 19 points since mid-November.

If the health care law continues to improve — or if any number of other things go right for Obama — the doldrums of late 2013 could quickly become a thing of the past. It’s worth noting that Obama’s approval rating fell to near-record lows in 2011, only to surge back into positive territory one year later.

There is a tendency in political prognosticating to miss the forest for the trees. Obama is in historically bad shape now (trees), but his circumstances are vastly different from those of his predecessors, and there are signs he could soon turn things around (forest).

Obama does, after all, have three years left in the White House to chart his own course.

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Morning Maddow: November 26

This satellite image provided by TerraServer.com and DigitalGlobe shows an image captured on Sept. 2, 2010, shows a portion of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including the secret facility known as Penny Lane, upper middle in white. In the early years after 9/11, the CIA turned a handful of prisoners at the secret facility into double agents and released them.

 

 

Morning Maddow

Florida’s Republican party calls on Rep. Trey Radel to resign. (Tampa Bay Times)

Heritage Action says it will score the confirmation vote on Janet Yellen for Fed Chair. (WSJ)

A member of the House leadership sets a Congressional baby record. (McClatchy)

Mississippi to start issuing free voter ID cards soon. (AP)

Penny Lane: Guantanamo Bay’s other secret CIA facility. (AP)

towboat carrying 69,000 gallons of fuel sinks on the Mississippi. (NBC News)

Watch 5 U.S. cities expand in size. From space. (Washington Post)

Explore:

 

 

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It’s “Paul Ryan is a serious wonk” season again!

Paul Ryan (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Salon – Alex Pareene

The Washington Post admires Paul Ryan’s very bold plan to fight poverty by replacing food stamps with dreams

Wow, is it “Paul Ryan is a serious, brilliant, policy-focused wonk with a dynamic and inclusive vision for the future of the Republican Party” season again already? It comes earlier every year. Thanks, Washington Post, for this brilliant example of the genre.
Paul Ryan is ready to move beyond last year’s failed presidential campaign and the budget committee chairmanship that has defined him to embark on an ambitious new project: Steering Republicans away from the angry, nativist inclinations of the tea party movement and toward the more inclusive vision of his mentor, the late Jack Kemp.

I guess it’s nice that Paul Ryan is going to help lead the Republicans away from those crazy Tea Partyers just one short year after Mitt Romney named him his running mate in part because, as the Times said at the time, “Ryan Brings the Tea Party to the Ticket.” So, what is the new focus?

Since February, Ryan (R-Wis.) has been quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods with another old Kemp ally, Bob Woodson, the 76-year-old civil rights activist and anti-poverty crusader, to talk to ex-convicts and recovering addicts about the means of their salvation.

Oh, good, Paul Ryan is parachuting into “inner-city neighborhoods” to bring back compassionate conservatism. Tell us more about the sober, admirable seriousness of the endeavor that is Paul Ryan solves poverty.

Continue reading here…

H/t: DB

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2 Secret Service Supervisors Cut From Obama’s Detail After Alleged Misconduct

secret service

Pool via Getty Images

This is just too close to the POTUS, again.  Should we be concerned?

The Huffington Post

Two U.S. Secret Service officers are under investigation and have been removed from President Barack Obama’s detail following allegations of misconduct, according to The Washington Post.

The allegations do not appear to involve a direct breach of Obama’s security, but rather sexually-related misconduct, recalling previous scandals that have cast a spotlight on the service and its traditionally male-dominated culture.

The investigation stems from an incident during the spring at the Hay-Adams Hotel, an upscale hotel steps away from the White House, involving a senior supervisor responsible for about two dozen agents in the presidential security detail. The Post reported on its website that supervisor Ignacio Zamora Jr., was allegedly discovered trying to re-enter the room of a woman he had met in the hotel’s bar after accidentally leaving a bullet from his service weapon in her hotel room.

After the woman refused to let him back in, Zamora sought access from hotel staff, who notified the White House, a Secret Service review found. In the subsequent probe, investigators came across sexually suggestive emails that Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent to a female subordinate, the newspaper reported, citing people with knowledge of the case.

Zamora has been pulled from his position, while Barraclough has been moved off the detail to a separate part of the division, people familiar with the case told the Post.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to comment on the review or the allegations. The Post said that lawyers for Zamora, Barraclough and the female agent declined to comment. The newspaper said its efforts to reach Zamora and Barraclough directly were unsuccessful. The Associated Press was unable to find a telephone number for either of the men in the Washington area late Wednesday.

The elite service has sought to close a difficult chapter in its storied history that was blighted by a prostitution scandal last year during preparations for Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Thirteen agents and officers were implicated after an agent argued with a prostitute over payment in a hotel hallway, pointing to a culture of carousing within the agency.

Obama in March named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director, signaling his desire to change the culture at the service and restore confidence in its operations.

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Payback Is a Bitch for Abortion Clinic Protestors, Thanks to a Brilliant Landlord

As I state in the About Kstreet section of this blog, although I have six adult children, in my opinion, a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body is as constitutionally protected as the “right to bear arms…”

Those same folks who are protesting women’s clinics across the country seem to be selective about who should be constitutionally protected and that’s not what America is about.

The following story is well worth the read…

Jezebel

Todd Stave has the unenviable position of being the landlord of a building in Germantown, Maryland, which he leases to an abortion provider called Reproductive Health Services Clinic. So he knows a little something about dealing patiently with anti-abortion protesters. But when they started calling him at home at all hours and harassing his family, he got fed up and came up with a very clever solution: Do unto others as they have been doing unto you.

Problems really began for Stave at the end of 2010, when he leased his building to LeRoy Carhart, one of the only doctors in the U.S. who openly acknowledges that he performs late-term abortions. As you can imagine, he’s a controversial man, and protesters come from far and wide. There is a constant group of them parked outside, praying and holding up signs, many of which have pictures of mangled fetuses. That’s pretty much a landlord’s nightmare, and yet Stave has a very calm attitude about it. He told Petula Dvorak of the Washington Postthis week,

It’s their right. They are protected by the First Amendment. And outside the clinic is probably the most appropriate place for them to express their views.

If you’re wondering how Stave can remain so relaxed about the situation, he explains, “I’ve been a member of this fight since Roe v. Wade. Since I was 5 years old.” You see, the clinic used to belong to his father, and then his sister ran it. When he was younger, the office was firebombed, and protesters were often gathered outside his dad’s house. So he’s used to a certain level of harassment and he’ll tolerate it — but only up to a point. And recently, the usually calm, cool, and collected Stave was pushed to his limit.

It’s common practice for anti-abortion protesters to disseminate doctors’ personal information and urge people to harass them—and it can clearly go far beyond that, as with the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. LeRoy Carhart, who’s now in Stave’s clinic, had his Nebraska farm burned to the ground back in 1991. But protesters in Maryland figured out they could start targeting Stave for owning the clinic’s property. He was largely unfazed by this campaign, until last fall when they took it too far. On his daughter’s first day in middle school, a large group of people protested outside her school, and then they showed up again for back-to-school night. They were naturally carrying signs with his name and contact info and those nasty pictures of fetuses.

Stave was furious, and then it got even worse. Dozens of the protestors began calling him at home, around the clock. His friends wanted to help him fight back; that’s when Stave had the brilliant idea of turning the tables on his tormentors. He began recording the names and numbers of the assholes who called, and then he gave the list of info to his friends and asked them to call these people back on his behalf. Shazam! And the really smart part was that when someone from Team Stave called, they always took the high road. He explains,

In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers. They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.

Genius. While it was initially only a few friends doing the calling, the group quickly expanded. Soon, he was up to having 1,000 callers at his disposal. And they got crafty too. They’d look up information on the people who’d placed unwanted calls to Stave, and then when they called, they’d drop the names of the person’s children or their school into the conversation. They’d also, said Stave, “tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” and then name their address. Are you getting shivers up you’re spine yet? Stave’s calling force became so powerful that sometimes he was able to hammer an unwanted caller with up to 5,000 calls in return. Looks like two can play at this game, stalkers.

Stave’s approach was so appealing that he was flooded with people from all over wanting to help. So he organized Voice of Choice, which now has about 3,000 volunteers. They don’t just fight back for Stave anymore. They’ll make calls on behalf of whoever is being bullied by anti-abortion protesters, whether it’s a doctor or a landlord or their family.

When asked if he thought this method of payback was harsh, Stave said no: “We gave them back what they gave us.” Actually, not even. You gave back a mild, family-friendly version of what they gave to you. You proved to them that you know where they live and who their children are, but you didn’t show up at their homes and schools and threaten them. You didn’t come onto their lawn with posters detailing terrible imaginary things that they’ve done. You’re serving up Revenge Lite™: Tastes great, less killing.

What’s more, Stave is strict about who Voice of Choice will make calls for. If it’s just run-of-the-mill protests outside clinics, he won’t help them because he believes in people’s First Amendment right to be out there saying what’s on their mind. Protestors must be personally harassing doctors or landlords in order for Stave to step in. If only abortion opponents had the same respect for people doing what they were allowed by law to do. Ahem.

So this is the part where the evil bullies who’ve plagued him (and others) at all hours of the day or night learn their lesson after having a taste of their own medicine, right? Yep, yep. They all realized they were being horrible, and now every anti-abortion protester is treating their pro-choice opponents with the utmost respect. HA. No. Actually this is the part in the story where it gets much worse. Ready?

Since Voice of Choice has been such a success, Stave was honored by NARAL in California last week. Knowing that he was going to be out of town receiving the award, his personal band of haters chose that moment to canvass his neighborhood with fliers that had a photo of Stave in a Nazi uniform, photos of Holocaust victims, and bloody fetuses. [Pause for a brief rage-stroke intermission.] Of course, the fliers had Stave’s contact information—and all of the phone numbers and addresses for other members of his family.

This goes without saying but, nevertheless: This is so incredibly fucked up. First of all, the guy owns a building, not a concentration camp. Second of all, what kind of person picks up a flier like that and thinks, “I need to get in touch with this Nazi!” God help us all.

Obviously Stave’s daughter and all of his neighbors saw the fliers, but the contact information for Stave’s family members must have been spread around. Because on Monday an abortion protestor showed up at the dental office owned by Stave’s brother-in-law and began doing his abortion-protestor routine outside. That’s such a great idea — I’m sure the random patient walking in for a cleaning is totally going to make the connection that the dentist’s brother-in-law owns a building where there’s an abortion clinic, and therefore abortion is wrong. At this point, Stave was back in town, so he went over to confront the protestor. And when he got there, the creep said, “How was your trip to San Francisco?” Deep inhale, slow exhale.

It is amazing that people like Stave have fortitude to stand up to psychos like this coming at them from every direction, but thank heavens they do, because, honestly, the thought that these protesters get away with so much is sickening. It’s hard to know where these nutcases will end when it comes to making Stave’s life a living hell—but it’s probably not going to get any better now that he’s getting more and more national media attention.

At least we know he’s got plenty of backup from Voice of Choice. The worse these people get, the longer VoC can keep them on the phone, telling them all about the many “blessings and prayers” they’re sending to their home addresses and to the locations of their children’s daycare centers. Then everyone will be so busy making and receiving calls that they’ll have less time to spend protesting outside clinics. And maybe in the future, we’ll get to a magical place where both sides are talking to each other 100 percent of the time, and a woman will be able to walk right up to the front door of an abortion clinic without being harassed—because everyone will be so busy talking on the phone to their enemies to notice or care what she’s choosing to do

A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters [Washington Post]

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