Friday Talking Points -- The Freedom To Choose

[ Posted Friday, June 23rd, 2023 – 17:17 UTC ]

One year ago, the Supreme Court overturned a right that women had been able to freely exercise for the previous half-century. Since then, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade continues to reverberate across the political landscape. Initially it was thought by many that this would be some sort of minor and temporary political issue, as clueless pundits predicted that somehow women would just sort of forget about the fact that a freedom had been taken away from them -- that they likely wouldn't even remember it at all by the time the next election rolled around. This has been proven wrong on numerous occasions, and it will likely be proven wrong all over again in the 2024 elections as well. Losing the fundamental freedom of bodily autonomy is a lot bigger issue than many had assumed, for what are now patently obvious reasons. When has taking freedom away from people ever been popular with those affected, after all?

Poll after poll after poll continue to show that the public is moving in one direction on the issue -- towards supporting abortion rights and away from the forced-birth laws the Republicans are passing everywhere they can. Democrats are not completely united on the issue, but their differences are minor (whether to support only what Roe guaranteed or whether to go even further). Republicans, however, are much more divided on what exactly they should support and how exactly they should go about taking the next political steps. This leaves them arguing about how harshly they want to take away women's freedoms, which is not exactly a winning issue for them. Some of them have realized this already, which is what is at the heart of their argument. Some Republicans want a national abortion ban to be enacted by Congress, some want it to remain at the state level, and there are disagreements about what week to allow abortions up to and what exceptions should be built into new laws. This leaves them to choose between positions that are somewhat objectionable to most of the public or positions that a vast majority of the public considers far too extreme. Which is why a lot of Republican politicians just don't want to talk about it at all.

This was noted at the time the Dobbs decision was handed down. The phrase "like a dog who caught a car and doesn't know what to do with it" seemed apt. In the year since, the Republican dogs have been having a huge argument about what they should do with that car, but there is no clear consensus, which leaves it up to each GOP politician to have to address in detail. So they flounder when the questions arise, and no matter what answer they give they wind up angering one side of the divide or another within their own base. Which, as noted, is not exactly a winning strategy.

President Joe Biden, from all reports, is about to run the most pro-choice presidential campaign in history. Being a Catholic, Biden has never been a big champion of abortion rights, but as with many of his political positions as president, he has risen to the occasion admirably well, so far. When Roe was overturned the entire issue shifted from a theoretical argument among Democrats ("What would happen if the Supreme Court throws out Roe?") to a new reality for tens of millions of American women who are being denied health care, by moralizing politicians who have imposed their own religious beliefs upon everyone. And now that this is actual reality, the voters are rather strongly motivated to have their voices heard in a way Democrats have never before seen on their side of this particular issue.

By the time we all get to vote for Congress and the president next year, Dobbs will be roughly two-and-a-half years old. And it's a pretty sure bet at this point that the choice between politicians who want forced-birth laws and those who trust a woman to make her own decisions with her doctor is still going to be an enormous motivator for millions of voters. Losing freedom isn't some passing issue that women will "get over," it is instead a fight for basic human rights and will be fiercely fought until those rights are fully restored.

Historic anniversary news aside, there were a few other things going on the world of politics last week worth noting. President Joe Biden hosted the leader of India at the White House, where the red carpet was rolled out in a big way.

Biden's son Hunter cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors on three charges -- two tax charges and one rarely-prosecuted weapons-possession charge. This was actually a pretty harsh outcome (even though Hunter will likely avoid any prison time), since if his name was "Hunter Smith" it is quite likely that none of the charges would even have been brought against him.

Republicans, however, howled in rage at the "sweetheart deal" offered to Hunter Biden. They screamed "two-tier justice system" as loudly as possible, without realizing the irony of them doing so. After all, would Ivanka, Jared, Donald Junior, or Eric emerge completely spotless from a five-year investigation into their finances? We will probably never know, because they aren't being investigated. That's the real "two-tier justice system" for you, folks.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump went on television and essentially admitted to being guilty of some of the worst charges that have been filed against him. This was no sort of plea deal, this was instead Trump being the biggest loose-cannon defendant of all time. The most jaw-dropping thing Trump said was that he was "too busy" to comply with a federal subpoena, after stalling for over a year. This brought a scathing response from Chris Christie: "And when you think about how many days of golf [Donald Trump has] played since he left office, maybe he could have skipped a couple of rounds of golf and gone through the boxes to respond to a subpoena from a grand jury?"

One of Trump's former lawyers chimed in with his own thought: "You have the right to remain silent. Use it." The internet also had a few amusing thoughts on Trump's interview, naturally. An anti-Trump Republican group ran an ad using Trump's own promises on the secrecy of national security documents to slam him.

But the most scathing commentary of the week came from Bill Barr, who served as Trump's own attorney general. After ripping Trump a new one on CBS last Sunday, Barr penned an article reinforcing his take on Trump's legal woes that is worth quoting at length:

For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump's conduct and its implications. Chief among them: Trump's indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.

. . .

On leaving office, Trump illegally removed from the White House hundreds of some of the most sensitive national defense documents that the country possesses. These include information on the defense capabilities of the U.S. and foreign countries; our country's nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the U.S. and our allies; and plans for potential retaliation against foreign attack. His handling of these documents in bathrooms and ballrooms at Mar-a-Lago was lawless and exposed the country to intolerable risk. The government had every right -- indeed, it had no choice -- but to retrieve this material.

The U.S. National Archives and the [Department of Justice] acted with restraint in trying to do so, giving Trump every opportunity to resolve the matter discreetly for more than a year. But he stonewalled. He ignored his advisers' repeated warnings that he was playing with fire. The indictment describes in detail how Trump flouted and deceitfully obstructed a grand jury subpoena for the documents by lying to his lawyer and playing a shell game to hide many of the documents. If true, that conduct was a flagrant crime that cannot be excused.

Why would Trump risk the safety of the American people by hanging on to these documents in the face of the government's lawful demands for their return? As trophies? Because he thought it was a fun party trick? Because he thought it would be cool to show off to houseguests? Or simply because he thought he could get away with it? Knowing him, it was an act of self-assertion merely to gratify his ego.

. . .

Many loyal Republicans have instinctively rushed to the ramparts to defend Trump. I understand that impulse. But with each new revelation, they look more and more foolish. Remember when news first broke of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? The roars of Trump supporters were deafening. "Why didn't the government simply ask for the documents back?" Well, as it turns out, they did ask, politely, for about a year, and they were jerked around. Trump's supporters then shifted tack. "Well, why didn't they use a subpoena first before conducting a search?" Well, as it turns out, they did issue a subpoena, quietly and discreetly, three months before the search, and the search was done only after the government got surveillance video suggesting that, in responding to the subpoena, documents had been illegally withheld. And on and on and on.

Whenever defending Trump is concerned, it is always prudent not to get too far out on a limb until the facts are known. It would be wise to consider that the DOJ has held back a lot of information, and it will be coming out in the weeks ahead. But what we already know about Trump's behavior is indefensible.

Barr wasn't the only one to speak so freely, either. Another former attorney general for a Republican president, Alberto Gonzales, also made the case that Trump is not a victim of any witch-hunt. This is what high-ranking Republicans are saying, mind you. John Bolton got a few shots in as well, and Chris Christie wasn't the only Republican running against Trump to reject Trump's argument, as Asa Hutchinson also went on the attack.

Other than Trump confessing on national television, there were a few other political stories this week that are worth touching briefly upon here. Biden got some surprise wins from the Supreme Court this week, but the truly impactful cases from the current term have not yet been announced, so next week will likely be the big one for SCOTUS decisions.

More and more Republicans with precisely zero chance of winning are jumping in the GOP presidential nomination contest, which (of course) only helps Trump consolidate support behind him while fracturing the rest of the GOP base.

Supreme Court justices continue to have no code of ethics and no moral objections to being bought and paid for -- the conservative ones, at least. John Roberts will go down in history as leading one of the most corrupt high courts in American history, unless he reverses course and realizes the necessity for ethics reform on the highest bench in the country.

And speaking of legal ethics, the lawyer who pushed to have Mike Pence claim a power the Constitution does not actually give him is in the process of a disbarment hearing in California. So perhaps there will be some accountability at a higher level than just the January 6th insurrectionists (who continue to get hit with serious sentences for their own crimes).

Meanwhile, House Republicans are in disarray, as they fight battles among themselves, some of which are on a very high-school/mean-girls level. The extreme wing of the party continues to yank Speaker Kevin McCarthy around, proving once again without a shadow of a doubt that McCarthy is one of the weakest human beings to ever hold such a powerful position in Congress. Their big dispute this week? Whether to impeach Joe Biden for absolutely nothing right away, or whether they should wait a bit to do so. No, seriously... the chucklehead caucus is driving the House GOP clown car now. Think this is overstating the case? We don't. Here is how the Washington Post reported on the episode, which seemed like a good place to end this week's wrap-up (emphasis in original):

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) rose in the House Tuesday evening after the last vote. "For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Colorado seek recognition?" asked the presiding officer, Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.).

The gentlewoman sought recognition to unveil a parliamentary maneuver that would force a vote within 48 hours on H. Res. 503, "Impeaching Joseph R. Biden Jr., president of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors."

No impeachment proceedings. No investigation. No evidence. No crimes. Not so much as parking ticket. Just a willy-nilly, snap vote to impeach the president, because Boebert dislikes Biden's immigration policies. In her mind, "President Biden has intentionally facilitated a complete and total invasion at the southern border," she charged on the House floor.

At this, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) flew into a fit of jealousy because Boebert had thought to use the maneuver (called a "privileged resolution") to force an impeachment vote before Greene got a vote on her articles of impeachment against Biden. Boebert stole her impeachment articles, Greene whined to reporters, calling Boebert that name that every kindergartner fears: "Copycat."

Congresswoman Jewish Space Lasers then confronted Boebert on the House floor and called her a "little b----" who "copied my articles of impeachment," according to a Daily Beast account that Greene confirmed.

But Boebert was unmoved -- because she's on a mission from God. She filed her impeachment resolution because "I am directed and led by Him... by the spirit of God," she told the evangelical Victory Channel.

God could not be reached for comment.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We certainly have to note how impressively Adam Schiff stood up to being censured by the House Republicans this week. Schiff was censured in the midst of the whole intraparty fracas among Republicans, as a chunk of red meat McCarthy allowed to be thrown to the MAGA wolves. When the vote was announced and McCarthy tried to read the censure against Schiff (whose name he couldn't even pronounce correctly, adding in a final "T" to it that does not exist), Democrats shouted him down with various cries ("Shame!", "What about Santos?!?"). Schiff stood resolute throughout it all, maintaining being censured by the chucklehead caucus was a real badge of honor for him. Which merits an Honorable Mention, and which incidentally is only boosting his prospects of becoming the next senator from California as well.

But this week we decided to take a broader view of impressiveness among Democrats, and award the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Harris has struggled in her tenure as Biden's veep. She has taken on thankless responsibilities (such as "fix the southern border problem," for one), but in the past year she has finally found a political issue where she has shown some real and heartfelt leadership.

When the Dobbs decision was announced, Harris immediately took the point on the abortion issue for the Biden administration. She has been working hard ever since, although most of this has flown below the radar of the Washington press corps. Harris has travelled around the country championing women's rights and leading the efforts to secure state-level abortion rights wherever possible. She is also coordinating the federal response, which has limits (in terms of how much can be done).

When she speaks on the issue, there is a real passion in her voice. Harris was really the perfect choice for Biden to lead his pro-choice effort, and she has settled into the role with an ease that was missing from earlier issues in her portfolio.

So on the eve of the anniversary of the Dobbs decision, we have to give credit where credit is due. Vice President Kamala Harris has done a good job spearheading the pro-choice issue, even if she doesn't get the press attention her leadership really deserves. Which is why Harris is -- for her efforts all year long and not just in the past week -- our clear choice for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Vice President Kamala Harris on the official White House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

Um... Robert F. Kennedy Junior? Just, y'know, for being R.F.K. Jr.?

That's really all we got, this week. Even Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were quiet....


Friday Talking Points

Volume 712 (6/23/23)

Our talking points this week are a bit varied, but there is one strong theme running through a few of them (that of Democrats using the word "freedom" as many times as they can). The rest are a mixed bunch this time around.


   Democrats stand strong

This is only going to get more politically potent over time. Democrats are already out in front on the issue, and they need to keep hammering it home.

"Democrats will not rest until we have guaranteed women's rights in every state in this country. We stand strong for a woman's right to choose when it comes to questions of her own bodily autonomy. Republicans, on the other hand, think they know better than you or your doctor. Women everywhere deserve the same rights in this country. We don't think your rights should depend on what state you live in. While Republicans plot to take away freedom from more and more women, Democrats stand in opposition and we will not rest until the guarantees of Roe v. Wade are reinstated for all American women."


   A free state? Seriously?

Case in point....

"It's not just Donald Trump, a whole lot of the Republican Party now seems to have fallen in love with authoritarianism. Ron DeSantis, who is in second place in the Republican presidential primary, outlined the dark vision he has been implementing in Florida. Here is what he recently had to say on the subject:"

I don't think you have a truly free state just because you have low taxes, low regulation, and no COVID restrictions, if the left is able to impose its agenda through the education system, through the business sphere, through all these others. A free state means you're protecting your people from the left's pathologies across the board.

"He's got it exactly backwards. To him, 'a free state' means one where the government controls what thoughts you are allowed to be exposed to. His vision is one where The State determines which books your children are allowed to read and what their teachers are allowed to say about American history. His vision is of The State dictating to private companies what sorts of things they can support and what they will be punished for saying in public. That doesn't sound like 'freedom' to me -- that sounds like the nightmare that exists in places like North Korea. And like I said, it's not just Trump who has fallen in love with the idea of such authoritarianism, it seems to be the entire Republican Party."



Democrats need to use one word to define the differences between the parties.

"Why have Republicans become so anti-freedom? Why are they taking away freedoms all over the place? When they're not taking freedoms from women or transgender children they are busily banning books from school libraries. They want to remove the freedom of speech from corporations who don't hew to their own party's line. They want to dictate what teachers are allowed to teach, all the way up to what gets taught in colleges. This is not freedom! Democrats believe that freedom means people and companies making their own choices about such things. That's what Republicans used to mean when they talked about freedom, but sadly those days are gone. Now Republicans congratulate themselves every time they take freedom away from another group of citizens. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for American freedom. It's really that simple."


   More Trump interviews, please!

It's worth twisting the knife, on this one.

"Donald Trump was interviewed on Fox News this week, and he basically came out and admitted he was guilty of the worst federal felony charges against him. Since we're just at the beginning of the 2024 campaign, we certainly hope Trump gives a whole bunch more interviews just like the one he did for Fox. Or rallies -- maybe he'll confess some other things while ad-libbing at a political rally, who knows? All I can say is it is highly entertaining to see Donald Trump make it all but impossible for his legal team to offer up any sort of coherent defense, and I'd certainly love to see some more of that as he hits the campaign trail in a big way!"


   SCOTUS for sale

Trump isn't the only one digging a hole deeper for himself.

"It now seems clear that conservative justices on the Supreme Court seem to be for sale to the highest bidder. Any billionaire or company out there who wants to sway the high court can just lavish all sorts of financial goodies upon them, since they have no code of ethics whatsoever. A $100,000 plane ride? Sure! No problem! A lavish luxury vacation? Pack your bags! Seamy real estate transactions? The more the merrier! Until Congress acts to bring some sort of ethics to the Supreme Court, the conservatives will feel free to run amok and delegitimize themselves in front of the American people with abandon. They think they answer to nobody and are above the law, and I think that is an absolute disgrace."


   Republicans are harming national security

Land on them like a ton of bricks, on this one.

"One Senate Republican -- aided and abetted by both GOP leadership and the rest of the caucus -- has ground the process of promoting America's military leaders to an absolute halt. One senator has blocked all such promotions and swears he will continue to do so no matter what harm it causes to American national security. Hundreds and hundreds of generals and admirals will have their regular promotions blocked because of one senator's intransigence. Seven former secretaries of Defense -- including two from the Trump administration -- recently wrote a letter stating: 'The blanket hold on the promotion or reassignment of these senior uniformed leaders is harming military readiness and risks damaging U.S. national security.' So why do Republicans hate the American military so much? Why are they playing games with our country's national security? This is reckless and it needs to stop, period."


   So much for decorum in the chamber

Hoo boy....

"Remember when Republicans used to lecture Democrats about how 'character matters' in politics? Yeah, those were the days, huh? Now we have two Republican women in the House who seem to be fighting over who is the biggest chucklehead of all. This got rather heated this week and one called the other 'a little bitch' on the House floor. It's really sad to see how far Republicans have fallen from that high moral position they used to righteously take, isn't it?"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


28 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- The Freedom To Choose”

  1. [1] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    When losing Roe v Wade was theoretical, you couldn't motivate people with next steps.

    Now, from the rooftops it needs to be screamed.

    Taking away Contraception: On the table.
    Taking away No-Fault Divorce: On the table.

    Who knows what's next? Maybe a husband's signature will be required to have a credit card.

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i would remove the word "choice" altogether, as freedom is a much stronger term.

    female freedom vs. forced-birth

  3. [3] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    nypoet22 [2]: I agree that the "pro-choice" movement needs a new label. With all due respect to CW, I don't think "forced birth" really moves the needle; too many Southerners are proud of the Confederacy and have no problem slave owners having used their female slaves as breeding stock.

    I haven't come up with anything, still hoping someone with more imagination and a "way with words" will succeed.

  4. [4] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Baby machine movement? Government womb control?

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Birth panels?

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Clitoral Revolution?

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Any word on Wagner group rebellion?

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In other words, label the struggle instead of the practice of restricting and banning abortion rights.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How about ... wishful thinking!

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    It seems to have been a real rebellion, if short lived. to me it's just weird, and leaves me to wonder just what set it off

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Some insight on that from a trusted and reliable source and I'm paraphrasing here and using direct quotes...

    Prigozhin is a fan of the wonderful TV drama starring Keifer Sutherland, ‘24’ but he has cast himself in the Jon Voight role, the head of a mercenary company styled after the real life Blackwater outfit.

    "No longer content to be a wink-wink deniable component of US geopolitical black ops, the Voight character exploits a vulnerable situation to try to force his way into a permanent, institutionalized role at the highest level of Washington decision-making."

    My source's forecasting record is intact - isn't this just what happened!?

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Time will tell. :)

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I always spell Kiefer's name wrong, without fail. :(

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    if so, that's not a particularly good read on how vlad putin does things.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Putin knows how to survive.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, for how long ...

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's amusing to watch how cable news is hyping all of this to the hilt.

    What about the counteroffensive?

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, enough about all of this until Chris writes about it, okay?

  19. [19] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Putin was weakened, dramatically.

    They came, he fled.

    To the people of Moscow, an invading "ally" can come in and take Moscow at any time (fear).

    Wagner couldn't take Moscow and they knew it going in.

    Well played!

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Chris will write about it eventually, so ...

    Joshua, here's a piece about the Belarus deal to take in the leader of the attempted rebellion in Russia.

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Thank you, not a bad read.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You're welcome, still lots of questions to be answered.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Ah, so this is what ends up happening when you take an attention addict ex-con who was never in the military and make him head of your shiny new version of the American Blackwater mercenary company." ... my special source

    My favourite quote on the subject, so far ... :)

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:


    With all due respect to CW, I don't think "forced birth" really moves the needle; too many Southerners are proud of the Confederacy and have no problem slave owners having used their female slaves as breeding stock.

    Take it from a female from the South, the term/talking point "forced birth" definitely moves the needle with voters who are actually persuadable; those Southerners you speak of who are "proud" of the Confederacy and of females being used as "breeding stock" aren't generally likely to vote for Democrats anyway.

    "Rapists' rights" is another one that hits the mark... as used in a sentence:

    By taking away the freedom of American families to make their own reproductive health care decisions, MAGA Republicans are making victims of our mothers, sisters, and daughters and creating rapists' rights by legislating forced birth from the acts of criminals, and as long as I'm your __________ [president, governor, senator, representative], I will veto any attempt to force a female to be a breeder against her will and make her a victim, first by her rapist and second by her government.

    Or something similar to that. No woman should be forced for any reason to give birth against her will; it's that simple.

    If someone is actually so-called "pro-life," then their definition of "life" should most definitely expand to include females and not just zygotes, fetuses, and the unborn.

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    My source's forecasting record is intact - isn't this just what happened!?

    Nope... record not intact.
    Nope... not what happened.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  27. [27] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well, it's not. don't get all despondent about it.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    well, okay then

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