Pick of the Web 12/13/13

Help yourself to a weekend’s worth of links!

A terrible auto collision on I-89 a few days ago has highlighted once again the crying need for a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports here on the deaths of two adults and a preborn child who were killed when a man attempted suicide by driving into oncoming traffic. The suicidal man survived the wreck and is facing charges. Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has introduced a fetal homicide bill for consideration in 2014; more on that here on the blog next week.

I love March for Life’s suggestions for what to do with a bored Member of Congress. Not every suggestion requires being an elected official, so look them over and see what inspires you.

South Africa’s Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. A leader of immense persistence and influence, his renunciation of political violence unfortunately did not extend to a rejection of abortion. Dr. Alveda King recalls him with respect and candor in “How I Failed Nelson Mandela.”

The latest annual report from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is out, showing that PP benefited from half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding in the most recent fiscal year. The Susan B. Anthony List has prepared a fact sheet about the report, and National Right to Life’s Dave Andrusko writes about Five Takeaways From PPFA’s Annual Report.

Anyone who thinks Pope Francis is going to put aside Catholic teaching on respect for life needs to catch up on some reading. Yesterday, he called human trafficking “a crime against humanity … whoever uses and exploits the person, even indirectly, makes himself an accomplice of this abuse.”  Last Sunday, he challenged “throwaway culture” (cultura di scarto). “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings – the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out,’ expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.’

The European Parliament narrowly rejected a nonbinding policy that would have promoted abortion as a “right.” The matter is sure to come up again.

Southern New Hampshire food pantries and soup kitchens need our help. You can find opportunities to donate and volunteer at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Corpus Christi food pantry in Nashua, New Horizons in Manchester, and the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Postscript to Albuquerque vote, from key backer of late-term abortion ban

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, issued a statement this morning following yesterday’s loss of a citizen-led initiative to stop late-term abortions from being performed in Albuquerque, NM. 

Months ago, most Albuquerque residents had no idea their city had become a national hub for late abortion. Local pro-life activists took action to educate their neighbors and ended up gathering 27,000 signatures – more than twice the amount necessary – for a city ballot initiative to stop late abortion,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Planned Parenthood and other national pro-abortion groups, including Organizing for America, saw this spontaneous grassroots effort as a mortal threat and spent $1 million to defeat it.

Despite being outspent four to one, pro-life grassroots activists were able to educate thousands of citizens about fetal pain and the reality of late abortion. This was no small feat in a deep blue city that chose Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 15-point margin.

(Emphasis added.)

Full press release is here.

As a campaign veteran myself, I see strong confirmation in yesterday’s results of a fact that I would dearly love to toss aside whenever the life issues are in play: successful campaigns require adequate funding. “Adequate” means enough for the right kind of media buys and for just the right-size dedicated staff to work full-time at the task at hand. 

Budget for next year’s campaigns the same way you budget for charity. That’s what it comes to, really; campaigns are another way of making the community better. 

 

Money talks: first municipal attempt at late-term abortion ban falls short in Albuquerque

Money talked tonight in New Mexico as a ballot initiative in Albuquerque, New Mexico that would have banned post-20-week abortions fell short of adoption. With all absentee ballots counted along with today’s votes from 28 out of 50 precincts, television station KOB is projecting defeat for the measure, 45%-55%.

The result comes the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court dealt abortion advocates a blow by refusing to block Texas’s new law regulating abortion.

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Ordinance” was the first citizen-initiated attempt to regulate late-term abortion on a local level. The title is derived from evidence that preborn children are able to feel pain by 20 weeks’ gestation. Passage of the ordinance would have affected at least one Albuquerque-area late-term abortionist.

Similar federal legislation has been introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a co-sponsor of Graham’s measure. Similar legislation is under consideration by several state legislatures.

Abortion advocates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to defeat the Albuquerque initiative. According to LifeSiteNews, Planned Parenthood spent $300,000 while the ACLU spent $200,000. A PP affiliate in New York held a phone bank last week to contact Albuquerque voters.

ABQ Voters for Late-Term Abortion Ban was the umbrella group for supporters of the initiative. Members of Students for Life of America came from around the country to support the campaign. Abby Johnson supported the ordinance and was in Albuquerque to make get-out-the-vote calls. The Susan B. Anthony List spent $50,000 on a week-long pro-ordinance local TV ad campaign.

See one of the SBA List ads (“Human Compassion”) here.

Other tweets from initiative supporters as results came in:

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Pro-life voters, make your case: a talk with Marilyn Musgrave

Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List (Shannon McGinley photo)

Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List (Shannon McGinley photo)

No, this isn’t a rerun of my first post-election blog entry from last November. It turns out I am not the only one who sees that successful pro-life candidates are not the ones who chant “jobs-and-the-economy” while letting pro-abort challengers go on the attack.

Meeting up with a pro-life colleague

I chatted a couple of days ago with former three-term congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colorado). She’s now Vice-President of Government Affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, the nation’s premier organization dedicated to electing pro-life women to office. I met her a couple of years ago when she visited New Hampshire to back up those of us who had issues with Planned Parenthood getting state money. She’s warm, savvy, and absolutely committed to supporting more pro-life state-level candidates. It’s always a treat to talk with her.

Marilyn was in New Hampshire last weekend to speak at a conference sponsored by Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire. Most of the people in the room, while attentive to the pro-life message, were not familiar with Marilyn or the SBA List. They are now.

“Let’s put them on record” regarding late-term abortion

Fight back: I asked her what people like us in New Hampshire could do, with three out of four of our federal representatives adamantly pro-abortion. “We have to fight back on the phony war-on-women. You have to fight back. First you have to decide that you’re going to fight back.”

Bingo. That was the first thing I wrote about after four-months of employment-imposed exile from blogging last year. That’s not to say I-told-you-so, but it’s good to hear confirmation from a woman in the thick of things.

“Winning issue”: As she said in her conference speech and repeated to me later, pro-life voters have a powerful new argument in favor of abortion regulation: Kermit Gosnell. The carnage left in Gosnell’s late-term abortion facility was documented by a grand jury whose findings helped bring Gosnell to justice. “Late-term abortion [restriction] is winning ground. Gosnell was not an outlier.” She noted polling that shows opposition to late-term abortion is strong, cutting across lines of age and race.

“Put them on record”: As for abortion advocates like Mmes. Shaheen, Shea-Porter, and Kuster, Marilyn suggests holding their feet to the fire regarding abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy. “Let’s put them on record. Gosnell gives us that opportunity.”

I asked her about the Virginia race for governor, certainly the toughest race going on right now between a pro-abortion candidate and a pro-lifer. “A tough go,” she said candidly. She told me about the Women for Ken effort in Virginia, operating independently of candidate and party in order to attack the war-on-women narrative that’s being used yet again.

Now what?

The following remarks are mine, not Marilyn’s. Don’t blame her for my conclusions.

Frankly, I DO expect New Hampshire Democrats to go on record regarding late-term abortions, with something like “trust women” in lieu of “we’re fine with dismembering and abandoning post-20-week babies.” (Even the Dems know some lines just won’t sell.) The Republican party – and remember that I’m speaking as a GOP-leaning indie – has yet to show it has enough starch in its institutional spine to pick up this fight. (Do I hear someone whispering “don’t be divisive” …?)

Individual voters will be the ones to ask candidates about late-term abortion. Ask them about regulation, about what they know about Kermit Gosnell, about what they think of New Hampshire’s failure to keep track of how many late-term abortions are done here. If you really want to have some fun with a values-clarification exercise, ask your local GOP committee members the same questions.

Certainly ask about late-term abortion before you write another check to a candidate or a party.

As for shredding the war-on-women arguments, there’s nothing quite like an articulate pro-life woman to lead the way. New Hampshire has many, as it happens, and I’ll continue to write about them. I see that when SBA List launched its National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus this year, made up of state-level legislators from all over the country, three New Hampshire state representatives were in the inaugural group: Jane Cormier, Jeanine Notter, and Lenette Peterson.

That caucus, by the way, was organized by a woman who herself spent time as a state rep before heading to Washington: Marilyn Musgrave.

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Reproductive rights an “economic” issue? NH visitor says Yes

The president of a political action committee dedicated to the election of “pro-choice” female candidates was in New Hampshire last week. Stephanie Schriock of EMILY’s List presided at a town-hall-style event organized to promote a female candidate for president in 2016.

Reporter Pat Grossmith of the New Hampshire Sunday News of 9/29/13 reported,”As for reproductive rights, [Schriock] said it was a economic issue, not a social issue, along with minimum wage, equal pay and child care.” I’ve heard this before. I call it the Make Life Perfect First argument: start by making everything else in life perfect, and then it will follow that women won’t have abortions.

Not that easy

It’s not that easy. It’s nearly impossible to calculate the the amount of money that’s been spent on the state and federal levels in the past few decades on the welfare of women and children. Still, hundreds of thousands of abortions are committed annually in the U.S. – over a million in some years, according to the shaky data that’s available.

The foundation of pro-life belief and action is the unshakable understanding that the right to life is inherent from the first moment of prenatal life. It doesn’t depend on any external factor like the mother’s feelings or the local WIC allotment. That understanding is free. Its implications are profoundly at variance with the Make Life Perfect philosophy.

Reproductive rights means abortion on demand (and without apology, according to its most ardent partisans).  That’s the most deadly civil rights challenge of the last 40 years. When rights are dependent on how much one is wanted, injustice prevails, no matter what any judge says.

Money and language

EMILY’s List through the years has raised more than a quarter-billion dollars to help elect pro-abortion women. That’s billion with a B. I’m sure Schriock felt very much at home as she visited a state with a pro-abortion governor, two pro-abortion members of Congress, and a pro-abortion U.S. Senator – all women.

And yet when questioned by the Sunday News reporter, Schriock wouldn’t use the word abortion. In a political discussion, “rights” sells; “abortion,” not so much anymore. That’s telling. The public is shrinking from abortion, as shown by the passage of so many state-level pro-life laws in the past few years. Yet abortion advocates still win elections.

The only way to do that is to use euphemisms and distractions. EMILY’s List and organizations that share its goal have been very good at that. It’s hard to argue in favor of abortion up until birth, if the focus is on the preborn child and on the well-being of the mother. Shift the terms to “choice,” war-on-women and “reproductive rights,” and combine that with political opponents who prefer silence to making the pro-life case, and pro-abortion candidates gain an edge. I’m not giving away any secrets.

To EMILY’s List, then, a key is to introduce economics to the discussion. They’re out for big game: a female pro-abortion president. Schriock noted at her New Hampshire stop that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only possibility. She reeled off a half dozen other names as well, including Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary. Yes, the HHS mandate queen looks like presidential timber to that outfit.

Pro-life alternatives

It’s up to individual candidates and individual donors to pick up the gauntlet. The Susan B. Anthony List‘s PAC is the sole nationwide political action committee dedicated to identifying and electing pro-life candidates. “Advancing, mobilizing and representing pro-life women” is the SBA List mission. They’ll help pro-life women who are running for office, but they don’t neglect pro-life men. I know state-level PACs can operate as well. Keep an eye out for them.

If you’re telling yourself that politics shouldn’t be about money, you’re half right. Politics is about policy. Getting elected to influence policy does cost money. Try traveling around your state without it, or buying ads, or bringing together a team dedicated full-time to helping in the effort.

Think about the quarter of a billion dollars that EMILY’s List has spent. Where’s the pro-life equivalent? SBA List is willing to go the distance, with sufficient support from pro-life donors.

That’s where economics comes in. Keep the dollar signs off the babies.

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In which I encounter new faces & old friends: CPAC 2013, day 2

National Harbor, MD

evening: Anyone who has worked as a campaign staffer knows how it feels the day after the election when everyone’s suddenly unemployed. It’s good to see co-workers find good jobs post-election. I ran into one of those good guys today at CPAC. Tommy Schultz, NH communications director for Romney/Ryan, is now with JDA Frontline nearby in DC.

Twitter is useful here for more than just posting reactions to speeches. I know some New Hampshire folks are nearby because we keep swapping tweets. I haven’t seen them, though, in the sea of people. Folks are here from all over the country. My lunch companions today were Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media and six college students from three states: Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio. Five states represented at one table is not that unusual here.

The programs so far, and the main speakers, have made clear to me that the life issues definitely have a place on the conservative menu, but there is reluctance to make them the main course. I’ve seen that for years. One reason I came here was to check my New Hampshire observations against what’s happening nationwide.

The challenge, and the good news, is this: forget about the GOP or a “conservative movement” leading the way on the right to life. They can’t & they shouldn’t & they don’t want to. Rank & file activists will do the pro-life work and force refinement of the message. Yes, there are charismatic politicians like Rubio who are proudly pro-life. Others are skittish or are openly pro-Roe, no matter what the party platform says. Fine. Let them take their cues from us, not the other way around.

Dick Morris, consultant/commentator/pundit, had ten minutes of mic time yesterday all to himself, and he posited that the GOP chased away single white women with its views on abortion. (Of course he prefaced that by saying we shouldn’t abandon our pro-life views.) Excuse me; did anyone hear the GOP pressing the issue? I sure didn’t, and I was in the thick of things. The GOP let the Dems craft the message. Morris and I can agree at least on that: messaging is crucial and we need to work on it.

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, a PAC dedicated to electing pro-life women, was part of a panel today about the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She called Morris out, and I wish he’d been there to hear it. She called last year’s GOP refusal to engage the Dems on the life issues “unilateral disarmament.” She warned that Republicans are doomed to fail if that’s done in the next election cycle. “We are poised to emulate the success of other human rights movements, but we need a champion.”

Dannenfelser was joined on her panel by Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia, Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, and Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family. Heavy hitters, worthy of the topic. Wagner noted with approval the presence of so many young conservatives, and concluded “youth gives credence to our movement.” Goeglein remarked that he finds pro-life students at every college campus he visits, and this of course encourages him in his work. “I remain exceedingly hopeful that Roe can be overturned. Right reason will prevail.”

A quieter, much lower-attendance panel met in the afternoon to discuss religious freedom as a winning issue for conservatives. That means, of course, the HHS mandate, which otherwise got short shrift at this weekend’s festivities.

morning: Random observation here: Allen West is as personable a man as I’m likely to find here. He walks through the halls of the convention with one person accompanying him, rather than the posse most of the speakers have, and he chats with people. Good to see. I must add that some of the speakers might not have much of a choice in the number of security & staff around them. National Harbor is bristling with police during CPAC.

Paul Ryan got the warmest, wildest welcome this morning that I’ve seen at the conference so far. He spoke in the ballroom this morning right after Kelly Ayotte, who was abruptly eclipsed the moment Ryan was introduced. No one else here can talk about prosaic matters like the budget with so much energy and verve. Nothing he said will come as surprise to anyone who has seen him campaign or heard him argue for his budget plan. He stayed on the budget message and didn’t drift into other issues. It was a forward-looking speech, devoid of nostalgia and bitterness, either of which might be tempting for lesser folk after November’s results. “A balanced budget is an opportunity to reform government. …We belong to one country as well as thousands of communities. The role of the federal government is not to replace those communities but to support them. No snark, no snarl, no yelling. The crowd loved him before, during, and after he spoke.

Ryan

By the way, the panel that followed him was “CSI Washington: a November 2012 Autopsy.” I find it telling that the panel had only a scattered audience. When Ryan left, people streamed out of the ballroom. I listened for awhile as Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner pointed out the technological superiority of the Democratic effort last year. (As an ex-GOP staffer, I will never be able to hear the word “orca” again without choking.) Former Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle of Michigan made a different point, just as apt: “my opponent ran a national campaign.” She said she has daughters and granddaughters, went to law school in her 40s, was the first woman elected to Congress from her district, “and they still painted me as part of the war on women.” She wanted eight debates during the campaign, and her opponent (who won the election) agreed to two. The national Democratic party, in Buerkle’s eyes, did all the campaigning and messaging very effectively. “They appealed to fear, and it worked.”

Neither Buerkle nor anyone else I’ve heard so far has blamed social issues per se for the defeat, but many – Buerkle and commentator Dick Morris most of all – warned that messaging has to change and the GOP has to “reach out, not write off,” in Morris’s words.

What I have NOT heard: what that messaging should be. I have also not heard anyone point out what is to me the glaringly obvious point that Republican candidates, particularly Republican men, don’t know how to deliver a conservative social-issues message to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.  They have had no practice. Persuasion is a dying art, and modern politics is delivering the coup de grace, in my opinion. You can’t sharpen an argument by dodging challenges to it, and those challenges have got to come before a national spotlight goes on.

Enough ranting for the moment. I’m about to head to a lunchtime briefing with Rick Santorum, which will be followed by a top-tier forum on “The Fight for Religious Liberty 40 Years After Roe v. Wade.” My kind of stuff.