Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, August 06, 2005

“Moderate" Republicans?

The Republican Party has moved so far to the right —
How far to the right have they moved? —
They’ve moved soooo far to the right that a Republican governor can veto a birth control bill and still be labeled as a “moderate.” Moderate??! Compared to what?!?!

New York Governor George Pataki has vetoed a bill that would have made the morning-after pill available without a prescription. The morning-after pill (also known as emergency contraception) has a 90% success rate in preventing pregnancies.

George Pataki is considered a “moderate.” Fortunately he’s still pro-choice on abortion (unless that’s changed too).

Now, there’s a clear, simple connection between birth control and abortion. For people who are against abortion and birth control, let’s connect the dots: If birth control is made less available, there will be more abortions. OK? Nothing complicated here.

Pataki is hoping to gain favor with the Far Right and still be considered a moderate Republican. Good luck.

Similar birth control laws have been vetoed by the Governors of Colorado and Massachusetts. A line needs to be drawn in the sand — politicians will have to decide whether they want to reach out to moderate mainstream Americans, or the far right.

Or, maybe the Republicans have pushed the envelope so far to the right that the moderate position has moved to the right too. Everything’s relative. So now a Republican governor can veto a birth control bill and still be considered “moderate.” If this is the moderate position, what’s the extreme right position? How about sentencing women to Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib for trying to obtain birth control pills?

Now try this on: how much further to the right will the Republicans push the envelope before the next election rolls around? By then, maybe anti-abortion extremists who blow up abortion clinics will be “moderates” as long as not too many people were killed.

Perhaps “moderates” will try to raise the enlistment age to 70 and expand the Iraqi war to include Iran, Syria, Sudan, Chechnya, Pakistan… This will seem moderate compared to the Extreme Right position, which will be …(don’t even go there).

Presidential hopefuls like Pataki need to understand that they can either reach out to moderate voters or they can be painted into a corner with the Taliban wannabes. And Republican voters need to decide what they want for their party:

A) The traditional Republican philosophy of limited government, states’ rights, self-reliance; or

B) An expanding all-powerful unaccountable Christian theocracy.

You can’t have both.


Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Pataki was once a pretty decent guy, but he has bent himself to a 90 degree angle to try to placate the Shrub Jesusistanis.

Power corrupts. There are way too many examples to cite.

August 6, 2005 at 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: It's too bad the extremists have so much power over politicians. Pataki had it right the first time when he was listening to mainstream voters. I hope this backfires on him.

August 7, 2005 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Brother Kenya said...

Excellent post, Tom. It's been bugging me for quite a while now, that these so-called moderates never actually do anything moderate. They talk the talk, but when it comes time for a vote or a signature on a bill, they're red-blooded conservatives. True colors, eh?

I'm talking to you, Snowe, Collins, Specter, McCain, etc. etc. etc.!

August 7, 2005 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Great post Tom. With the Republicans, you've nailed it on the head. The party has indeed moved further to the right. To me though, the Democrat Party has ALSO moved more to the left. Both parties ignore the moderates amongst them these days.

My political views have not changed all that much over the last 10 years. However; 10 years ago, the right called me a "Clintonista" (President Bill, of course), a "radical far-leftist", and a "snobby liberal elitist"; I've been accused of ALL of these things. Peculiarly, I've not been called any of those terms very much at all in the last few years, but I assure you, my basic core values and political ideology has remained largely unchanged.

So, that being the case, and it IS; if BOTH parties haven't moved further toward their outer fringes; why is it that neither the Democrat OR the Republican Parties speak to me, or the other left and right moderates any longer?

It really puzzles me, Tom. Such a huge base of us "Clintonistas" out there and the Democrat Party is content to urge us to vote 3rd party. I don't get it. With the Republicans getting so wacky, you'd think the Democrats would be springing to action to grab THEIR moderate base, but NO!

Sorry for the long rant!

August 7, 2005 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

The key here is that the law would make the morning after pill, which does not prevent conception but prevents implantation of impregnated ova, without a prescription. As far as I know, you can't even get birth control pills, which prevent conception, without a prescription. There is nothing immoderate about requiring the same standards for the morning after pill that exist for birth control pills. It seems to me that it is possible to think that abortion should be available but with limitations, as most Americans do, and also think that it is a bad idea to make pills that prevent pregnancy over-the-counter.

August 7, 2005 at 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Brother Kenya: Thanks. Yeah, this has been bugging me for a long time too. But this was the last straw. Pataki has been gunning for the White House, running as a moderate, and vetoing a birth control bill is anything but moderate. I know the governor of Colorado vetoed a similar bill — Bee (of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) did a good angry rant about that several weeks ago. I just assumed the Colorado governor was a wingnut, without knowing anything else about him. But now a “moderate” governor does the same thing.

Gun-Toting Liberal: Thanks. This sure is the time for Democrats to go after the moderates. There are millions of voters who don’t like either extreme. I hope the Democrats will be smart enough to reach out to them.

Craig: There’s more of an urgency to the morning-after pill (aka Emergency Contraception). When someone needs it, she needs it now. It might be an evening or weekend when there’s no time to contact the doctor for a prescription. There's a very small window when this pill will be effective.

August 7, 2005 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


Doctors have emergency numbers where an on-call doctor can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is always an emergency room open. Pharmaceuticals are available by prescription only for a reason. Only a doctor can make the decision whether a drug is appropriate for a given patient. I understand the time constraints. I also understand that no drug is appropriate or safe for every patient.

August 7, 2005 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Craig: Well, I guess we can agree to disagree. It’s true, there’s a risk involved in giving emergency contraception without a doctor’s prescription. But this can be an emergency; I think the patient should get to decide whether it’s worth the risk. And I doubt if a hospital ER wants patients who are seeking emergency contraception to be cluttering up the waiting room and competing with gunshot victims and heart attack patients. And I don’t think someone who wants emergency contraception should have to sit in the ER, waiting maybe for hours while the doctors tend to the more urgent patients. I don’t know if a 24-hour on call doctor would be a better choice, or whether that doctor wants to be called at 3 a.m. by someone wanting emergency contraception.

I just think Pataki should have signed the bill. I do think the morning-after pill should have all the necessary warnings on the label, like a lot of other OTC medications already do.

August 7, 2005 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


I don't object to agreeing to disagree. As for on-call doctors, that's what they're there for...literally and why they're paid the big bucks. I don't know what the risks are though I'm sure they are there. My point is, a scared 16 year old is, likely, in no emotional position to make an informed decision concerning the risks involved.

August 7, 2005 at 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Craig: A scared 16-year-old, maybe. But what about a housewife whose other birth control method failed (a broken condom, etc.).

I agree there are exceptions and complications. But I think some of the organizations that lobbied against this bill are just being judgmental; not compassionate. Everything I've ever heard from Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, etc. -- I've never sensed a bit of compassion or sympathy, just fire and brimstone. Just my interpretation. And these powerful groups are a seductive siren for "moderate" Republicans who want to run for higher office.

August 7, 2005 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


So how does placing such a powerful drug over the counter find its way into only the hands of those able to make an informed, rational decision based upon information that is really only mastered by doctors based upon a knowledge of the patient's medical situation, and not into the hands of those who may take it, because scared and confused, regardless of the risks?

I won't speak for Dobson, Falwell, or Robertson. They can speak for themselves. As I have illustrated, a reasoned case can be made without resorting to theocratic judgementalism. It would seem to me that a reasoned case, even one that might be reasonably disagreed with, may still be a moderate position. Surely not all moderates agree on every issue any more than conservatives or Liberals do.

August 8, 2005 at 12:22 AM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Rev. Harmon,

I seldom think that unplanned pregnancies follow a "an informed, rational decision" making process. And as the father of five children (2 of whom have finally grown up! phew) I assure you that I am not a personal advocate of abortion.

Be that as it may, there are few constraints on you that will keep you from buying a bottle of Crown Royal other than age. Some folks will do just fine with a bottle of Crown Royal, having a sip here and there, or maybe only on holidays. However, we know as a society that a measurable number of the people that buy that bottle are going to go do things like beat their wives, wreck their cars, commit suicide, etc. after drinking it. The societal compact that gives us the freedom to be responsible also gives us the freedom to be irresponsible. Ans thus it should be even with this pill.

August 8, 2005 at 1:29 AM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


Unplanned pregnancies are, by definition, not the result of rational choice although they may result even among the best informed. That does not mean that the termination of the same should not be informed and rational. Certainly one doing so should be well informed and rational about the dangers involved in doing so. I am not convinced that such a decision can be so made without the interposition of medical advise.

I will grant you the freedom to be irresponsible with said bottle of Scotch, so long as you are of legal age and you harm no one else. That does not mean that I, or society for that matter, grant a 16 year old that same liberty. Nor do I believe it responsible to allow people who lack knowledge to make a decision based upon a full knowledge of the dangers that they may pose to themselves. Again, we make many drugs available, regardless of age or knowledge or responsibility, by prescription only. I don't find your liquor analogy persuasive.

Yes, I am a retired Lutheran Minister as you have discovered. I am neither an abortion advocate nor do I wish abortion to be outlawed altogether. I think that there are situations which call for abortion. My position is, therefore, not the kind of extremist position of some of my Christian bretheren.

In any case, I promise not to quote scripture to you.

August 8, 2005 at 2:12 AM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

Oops...sorry Tom and JollyRoger. I didn't notice who had last addressed me and assumed that it was Tom. I'll try to pay better attention.

August 8, 2005 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger halcyon67 said...

Tom, it will backfire on him.

August 8, 2005 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Craig and Jolly Roger: Interesting discussion; sorry I went to sleep so early. I have to agree with Jolly Roger’s analogy to alcohol. The morning-after birth control pill would of course find its way into the wrong hands sometimes if it’s available OTC. And sometimes people get drunk and beat their wives or cause a 20-car pileup. And a lot of OTC medicines are abused too — antihistamines can make you too groggy to drive, OTC pain relievers can cause liver/kidney failure if they’re misused, etc.

Everyone will disagree about exactly where to draw the line. Personally I’d rather have an impulsive 16-year-old girl get ahold of emergency contraception than have a responsible married couple forced into an unwanted pregnancy because of an “accident.” I don’t want to bring back prohibition just to eliminate drunk driving, even though it would save thousands of lives each year. Some people will put themselves on dialysis from taking too much Ibuprofen, but I still want it available OTC. It’s a matter of where to draw the line; no two people will agree on exactly where.

And I do think Pataki’s veto was a political calculation. The political extremists (of both parties) can exert a lot of pressure on moderate candidates, trying to pull them out to the fringe. It’s a tightrope, and I don’t think Pataki will be able to appeal to both the Far Right and to moderate voters; he’ll have to choose.

August 8, 2005 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Samantha: Yup, I think it'll backfire.

August 8, 2005 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...


That is exactly my point. Alcohol will inevitably find its way into some bad hands, and some of those hands will fit the legal criteria for having it, and some will not. But we continue to make it available because we have decided that the responsible do not deserve the blanket punishment of a prohibition.

And the "morning after" pill will also inevitably find its way into hands not meant for it, but the vast majority who would obtain it would be people who reasoned it out. I do not believe that those people should be denied the opportunity to have it, when they need it.

August 8, 2005 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

Tom and JollyRoger,

I guess we are left with agreeing to disagree...which I think people in the center can do without being called extremists. Pataki has earned his 'moderate' label and one instance of disagreement should not negate that.

Anyway, nice chatting with you all.

August 8, 2005 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...


I appreciate your dissent and have enjoyed being able to talk about a disagreement without having to endure a bunch of meaningless biovation.

I agree with you-this is an issue that reasonable people will not see eye to eye on. Although I disagree with you about Pataki, as this is far from the first time he's jumped across the lines in the last few years.

August 8, 2005 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


I try never to bloviate...that's Bill O'Reilly's job and he does it too well for me, as an amature, to muddy up the waters.

August 8, 2005 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Jake Porter said...

I can see everyones point on this and I also like to see a good disagreement without any name calling.

I do (at the present time) think anyone over eighteen should be able to use the morning after pill with no questions but do not think a sixteen year old should be allowed to make the decision on her own.

August 8, 2005 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Thanks for all the comments. This has been pretty lively.

I agree that the age cutoff makes this a complicated issue. That was one of Pataki's reasons for vetoing the bill (at least that was his public reason).

I think he vetoed the bill much earlier than the deadline, when he would have to sign it or veto it. It seems like he could have taken more time to try to work out a compromise, rather than instantly vetoing it and then saying "oh, this was my reason."

August 8, 2005 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...


I don't know what sort of compromise you suppose that he could have sought. He had one choice with the bill before him: sign it or veto it. Any compromise would entail a new bill.

August 8, 2005 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger web_loafer said...

I live and vote in Kansas. I don't like Brownback all that much. He certainly has Presidential Dreams, but there is little chance of another Kansas Pol getting the nomination. Think Dole and the disasterous campaign he ran, against Bill Clinton.
Since I am a pol junkie I followed Brownback's reelection campaign very closely. Brownback never mentioned who he was running against in his ads, they were all about him and what he has done and will do. I doubt very seriously that anyone in his campaign ever mentioned that Brownbacks opponent was Jewish. He ran a squeaky clean campaign, because he could, there was no chance his opponent would get more than 40% of the vote. Brownback ran few ads, and didn't have to spend much money. He still has lots of money to spend in the future.His opponent was a throwaway candidate, someone willing to take one for the party. There are many good Democrats here in Kansas, but I can't even remember one ad of Brownbacks that said one word about his rival. For the life of me I can't figure out why he is so popular here in Kansas.

August 12, 2005 at 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Web_Loafer: Thanks for the info. Glad to hear some information from a candidate's home state.

August 13, 2005 at 12:10 AM  

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