The Alito hearings are an embarrassment. Republican Senators displaying their transparent ass-kissing skills. The Democrats illustrating how difficult they find it to actually confront something they don't support. I don't want to hear any more about Senators being troubled or concerned. I want to hear them fighting mad. Rahm Emanuel is out there recruiting "fighting Dems" - military vets to run for office. But we need a different kind of fighting Dem now. Not the kind who commends the dignity of Alito and then shares his concerns about the creeping expanse of presidential authority. But one who says outright that this isn't a hearing about dignity and class - it's a hearing about whether or not he will protect and defend the Constitution as a Supreme Court Justice. Whether he finds checks and balances to be a quaint notion, sort of like the view some have of the Geneva Conventions. Whether or not he is so enamored with the office of the President and so self-effacing as a judge, that he is unable to exercise the power of the judiciary to maintain a balance of power between the three equal branches of government. But no. We get sad shakes of the head, ruffling through papers, verbal sighs instead of verbal challenges.
I want a Fighting Dem who can match the extremism of Sen. Coburn (R-OK), but someone who is extreme in their defense of the Constitution instead of using it to attack those who support reproductive rights for women - yes, the scary A word, abortion. Coburn is offensive - in words, tone, and approach. He's not playing a defensive game and that's about the only positive thing I can say about this wingnut.
Here's what Coburn said - my responses are interjected throughout the transcript (video available on Crooks and Liars):
COBURN: And as I've listened today, we've talked about the unfortunate, the frail. The quotes have been "fair shake for those that are underprivileged." We've heard "values, strong, free and fair, progressive judiciary." We've heard "the vulnerable, the more unvulnerable (sic), the weak, those who suffer." We've heard of an Alito mold that has to be in the mold of somebody else.
And as a practicing physician, the one disheartening thing that I hear is this very common word, this "right to choose" and how we sterilize that to not talk about what it really is.
Did you catch that association of sterility with abortion? The right to choose with "how we sterilize"? Nice insidious implication, there.
COBURN: I've had the unfortunate privilege of carrying over 300 women who've had complications from this wonderful right to choose to kill their unborn babies.
I wonder how much larger that number would be in a world where abortions were only available in back alleys? And that's what
it is: It's the right of convenience to take the life. It is NOT the right to take the life, to kill unborn babies. He may "know" that life begins at conception, but that's a religious/personal belief, not a scientific one. If it were the right to kill unborn babies, there would be no restrictions on abortions when the fetus is viable outside the womb. And oh, there are restrictions aplenty.
COBURN: And the question that arises as we use all these adjectives and adverbs to describe our physicians as we approach a Supreme Court nominee is where are we in America when we decide that it's legal to kill our unborn children?
Well, I'd say that an America that respects the rights of women, a nation that doesn't legislate on issues for which there is no moral consensus, a nation where 70% of the population supports abortion in at least some instances, is an America I'm glad to be in. It's an America that is governed by the people and not by the elite.
COBURN: I mean, it's a real question for us. I debate honestly with those who disagree with me on this. It is a real issue, a measurement of our society, when we say it's fine to destroy unborn life who has a heartbeat at 16 days post-conception. Thirty-nine days post- conception you can measure the brain waves and there's pain felt.
He debates honestly? His very premise is flawed - that abortion is killing babies. As for his "medical info", a heartbeat doesn't mean life. Brainwaves don't mean human life.If they did, there certainly wouldn't be any legitimate scientific debate about when life begins. What they do undoubtedly mean is that potential life is there and reasonable people disagree on when that potential becomes reality.
COBURN: The ripping and tearing of an unborn child from his mother's womb through the hands of another, and we say, "That's fine; you have a constitutional right to do that."
Oh, that's nice. Right up there with starving Terri Schiavo. For many, I daresay most, who have abortions, it isn't a child being torn apart - it's a fetus, tissue that can become a human life. And the right here isn't about that tissue, it's about me. A real, live human being with dominion over my own body. If he agrees that I can demand that anyone undergo an invasive surgical procedure to donate a kidney or bone marrow to another person to save their life, if I can require everyone to get tested as a potential donor and donate on demand, then maybe I'll listen to him tell me what I can and can't do with my own body.
COBURN: How is it that we have a right of privacy and due process to do that but you don't have the right, as rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court in 1997, to take your own life in assisted suicide?
Well, um, because suicide is the taking of a life and abortion isn't.
COBURN: You know, how is it that we have sodomy protected under that due process but prostitution unprotected? It's schizophrenic. And the reason it's schizophrenic is there's no foundation for it whatsoever other than a falsely created foundation that is in error.
Ack! He's equated sodomy with prostitution? Let's see. Sodomy is anal sex, hetero or homo. It's generally occurs between consenting adults with no economic benefit or expense on either side. Prostitution? There's that economic issue. And really, if the equation he makes is accurate, perhaps it's time to legalize prostitution.
COBURN: I don't know if we'll ever change that. It's a measure of our society.
Yeah, we're obviously not the most logical bunch.
COBURN: But the fact is that you can't claim, in this Senate hearing, to care for those that are underprivileged, to those that are at risk, to those that are vulnerable, to those that are weak, to those that suffer and, at the same time, say I don't care about those who have been ripped from the wombs of women and the complications that have come about throughout that.
WRONG. When I see an equivalent effort on the part of the ranting masses, especially the ranting anti-abortion men, to fight aggressively for the vulnerable, weak, and suffering, then they may be able to make this kind of an argument (though it still wouldn't hold). But all you have to do is look at the state of our foster care system across the states, the increasing number of children going to bed hungry, the Katrina families that are still homeless, the rank poverty exposed by Katrina, the elderly and poor that are suffering from cold this winter because they can't afford oil and the Republicans fought even a tax credit to alleviate costs (a tax credit they'd get after winter ended) - just look at those and tell me that as someone who supports a woman's right to choose to carry to term or get an abortion, that someone like me really can't care for those people.
I think you'll find that those who are most active in the fight to retain our reproductive rights are the same people who are most determined to help those in need. We're not the ones proclaiming the beauty of an ownership society to those who own so little, who have no hope of owning much more. We're busy trying to find heat, shelter, clothing, food, and safety for those who need them. This kind of rank hypocrisy is one of the biggest reasons that no matter what my views on national security and terrorism and taxes, I will never be a Republican. And one more thing. This kind of drivel from the Senator might be slightly credible if he hadn't just voted to cut the very programs that serve these populations. RANK HYPOCRISY!
COBURN: So, the debate, for the American public -- and the real debate here is about Roe.
Maybe for Coburn, but for 70% of Americans, the debate is over. They don't want Roe overturned. Coburn is his own version of Don Quixote - I can only hope that he's tilting at windmills.
COBURN: We're going to go off in all sorts of directions, but the decisions that are going to be made on votes on the committee and the votes on the floor is going to be about Roe, whether or not we as a society have decided that this is an ethical process, that we have this convenient process that if we want to rationalize one moral choice with another, we just do it through abortion, this taking of the life, of life of an unborn child.
First, as I noted above, we've already decided that this is an ethical process. That's why 70% of Americans don't want Roe overturned. As for his "rationalize one moral choice over another", I'll confess that I don't know what the hell he's talking about. But the real point is that this isn't just about Roe. It's very much about the limits on presidential powers, particularly in war time. Because if the president is unconstrained by the laws of the land, we no longer live in a democracy.
COBURN: I asked Chief Justice Roberts about this definition of life -- you know, what is life? The Supreme Court can't figure it out or doesn't want us to figure it out; the fact that we know that there is no life if there's no heartbeat and brainwaves. We know that in every state and every territory. But when we have heartbeat and brain waves, we refuse to accept it as the presence of life -- this lack of logic of which we approach this issue because we like and we favor convenience over ethics. We favor convenience over the hard parts of life that actually make us grow.
That may be true for him, but it's simply not true that I find it illogical to view a fetal heartbeat and brainwaves as a potential life. It's basic logic - a heartbeat and brainwaves are necessary but not sufficient indicators of life.
COBURN: Senator Brownback talked about those with disabilities that are destroyed in the womb because of a genetic test that is sometimes wrong. I would put forward that we all have disabilities.
Sure. He's suffering the inability to think clearly, to respect those with legitimate and moral opposing views. He's suffering from selective concern - it's so much easier, after all, to care about a fetus since women are the only ones who can care for them. It's so much messier to care about actual walking, talking people.
COBURN: Some of us, you just can't see it. But I can hear it. And yet, who makes the decisions as to whether we're qualified or not?
The voters. And I'd like to have a talk with a few who live in Oklahoma!
COBURN: We've gone down a road to which we don't have the answers for. That's why we have the schizophrenic decisions coming out of the Supreme Court that don't balance logically with one versus another decision.
Huh? Oh, yeah. The assisted suicide and abortion decisions. But as I noted earlier, they're only inconsistent if you aren't thinking clearly - if your assumptions block your ability to understand a different perspective.
COBURN: So my hope, is as we go through this process, let's not confuse it with the easy words and really be honest and straightforward about what this is about.
Okay. It's about me letting you determine what I can do with my body and the potential life I may carry in it. It's about me letting you decide that I have to get permission from my hypothetical husband in order to abort - even if he's a scary dude. Even if I've been cheating on him and it's not his. It's about me ceding to your desire to establish a legal system that conforms to your theocratic moral system instead of shared national values (like, um, keeping abortion legal). It's about you feeling morally superior, very male, and very paternal - and faceless women being the subject of your paternalism. It's about your inability to see that people like me actually care about more than reproductive rights. It's about your inability to understand that by ignoring the issue of presidential authority, you risk your own power and you risk the stability of this country. Honest and straightforward? Your a dope, a prime example of what keeps people like me away from your party, your church, and your views
COBURN: I firmly believe that the court should take another direction on many of these moral issues that face us.
Wouldn't that be an activist court? Isn't it Congress who is Constitutionally responsible for making laws? Oh, right. You don't have the majority's support to legislate your moral vision.
COBURN: If we're to honor the heritage of our country, whether it be in terms of religious freedom, whether it be in terms of truly protecting life, protecting not just the unborn but who comes next, the infirm, the elderly, the maimed, the disabled -- that's who comes next as we get into the budget crunch of taking care of those people in the years -- I believe we ought to have that debate honest and openly.
I hate to break it to you Tom, but we HAVE religious freedom and our heritage isn't one in which abortion was anathema. It was legal, the province of midwives for a very long time. The law got involved when the doctores wanted the midwives business, bringing about the first regulations on abortion that ultimately led to it's prohibition. (Thanks, Doc.) As for your allegation that we're unwilling to protect life, are you really suggesting that we're moving toward euthanizing the infirm, elderly, maimed and disabled? That it will happen because of budget crunches? Wow, you're cynical. And willing to make remarkable leaps of faith in your argument. But if you're right, then you better do something to reign in the deficit you dope. Talk about inconsistency.
COBURN: But the fact is, is we're going to cover it with everything except the real fact is we've made a mistake going down that road in terms of saying we can destroy our unborn children and there's no consequences to it.
But there is a consequence. We have to listen to you. And you get a red meat issue to use in your fundraising. You get to feel morally superior. You have an easy target to villify. As for the consequences for the women choosing abortion, only the smallest percentage of women who abort do so with out emotional consequences, because deciding to end a potential life, ending the process by which that potential becomes reality, is hard. It's personal, it's emotional, and it's not done lightly. Certainly, making abortion illegal won't end abortion and the consequences then will be quite dire.
The rest is all ending kiss-ass, pompous blather. Including the usual poke at activist courts. Same old same old. But I didn't need to hear more. If I were an Oklahoman, I'd be embarrassed.