The Great Big Texas Podcast


Bill Maher explains it all

Rick Perry mansplains

Bill Zedler calls Wendy Davis a terrorist

Sen. Dan Patrick self-pities

Peggy Noonan is so very good at bad faith arguments

Leticia Van de Putte on the Texas bill

Louie Gohmert makes stuff up

On this episode of Reality Cast, it’s going to be a lot of coverage of the biggest story in reproductive rights now, the fight over a massive abortion bill in Texas. But really, it’s just part of a bigger story of anti-choicers playing dirty because they can’t get their bills passed playing it straight.

It’s been nice to see that the recent battles over reproductive rights are waking up some folks to the fact that this is not and never has been about “life”, but about a desire to control female sexuality. Bill Maher, for instance, hit this point hard on his show, talking about the new accessibility of Plan B and the efficacy of the HPV vaccine has riled up the right wingers.

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Ding ding ding! It’s about sex. It was always about sex. It was never about anything else.

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Last week, I covered all the fun, exciting aspects of the filibuster and other efforts from pro-choicers that shut down SB5, a massive anti-abortion omnibus bill that would shut down all but 5 clinics in the state of Texas. As you can imagine, anti-choicers took the defeat with maturity and grace, as befits people who are all about “life” and are totally not in this because they are misogynists who want to punish women for having sex. Ha! Just kidding. The general tone of the response was sexist blather, petulant tantrum-throwing, and the usual idiocy we’ve come to expect from the right. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst snottily say, “See you soon,” when he announced that the bill was dead, basically making it clear that they weren’t even going to hesitate to call another special session to push this thing through. Gov. Rick Perry did just that, and then went on a tour of condescending to the stupid ladies who think they get to have an opinion on their own health care options.

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How nice of Perry to hold the little lady’s hand and explain, because ladies are stupid and slow you know, what she should have learned from her own life, instead of what she learned. Because Sen. Davis chose to have children, the choice to not have children or to delay having children must be taken away. By the same logic, because Davis did so well at Harvard, I guess Perry’s own alma mater of Texas A&M needs to be shut down. After all, if one choice worked out for Wendy Davis, all other choices must be taken away. Hey, don’t blame me! It’s Perry who believes that there should only be one single choice for all people. He’s so into the only-one-choice philosophy, he’s calling a special session to force the issue. To be consistent, he needs to ban wine because Wendy Davis drinks beer and to ban pant suits because Wendy David wears skirts. I do look forward to seeing him in a pink skirt suit, however, since he’s decided that the choice Wendy Davis made should be enforced on the rest of us by law, even though Wendy Davis herself disagrees.

Other anti-choice politicians also made asses out of themselves. State Rep. Bill Zedler called Davis a “terrorist” on Twitter, even though abortion providers are often targeted by actual violent terrorists that have murdered providers. State. Sen. Dan Patrick played the martyr on Mike Huckabee’s show, comparing himself to Jesus for wanting to violate Texas Senate rules that allow a filibuster.

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You know, if Jesus had really thought abortion was so bad, he should have bothered to mention it. Not that it matters, since we’re still formally a nation that has freedom of religion, even though the religious right wants to force their beliefs by law on the rest of us. But while Jesus didn’t mention abortion, he was very clear about how he wanted his followers to regard the law. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” In other words, follow the damn law, even if you don’t like it. Which means not breaking the rules of the Senate, and not trying to falsify the time stamp on the vote to make it seem like it was taken on time, which Republicans admitted it was not.

There was a lot of anti-choice silliness in the media after this, but for my money, Peggy Noonan was probably the worst with her condescending silliness.

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Peggy Noonan is thoroughly dishonest. As made clear by the comments earlier, Texas politicians aren’t hiding this: The bill is meant to end most safe, legal abortions. Noonan is also being dishonest by focusing on so-called “late” term abortions, of which 20 weeks isn’t. That’s only a small part of the bill, and the bigger part is shutting down 37 out of 42 clinics in the state, most of which only do first term abortions anyway. But the best part of her little tantrum is calling Wendy Davis a “young woman” in an effort to make her seem like an inexperienced, naïve girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing. Davis is 50 years old, only 12 years younger than Noonan. Though I suppose the way that the anti-choice movement is going, that means that Noonan should consider herself plenty old enough to be Davis’s mother.

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insert interview

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Anti-choicers know that their preferred polices are unpopular, which is why they’re increasingly looking for ways to pass anti-choice legislation into law without drawing too much attention to it. Texas politicians obviously thought that the best way to do that was to pass an anti-abortion bill during a special session, and it backfired, but Ohio anti-choicers had a little more luck with their sleazy strategy of tacking anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation onto a budget bill. Rachel Maddow reports:

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Of course, Texas has been getting the lion’s share of the attention, and much of the outrage is about how sleazy the entire process has been. Calling a second special session of the legislature is just plain ol’ dirty pool, especially since abortion shouldn’t have been brought up in the first special session, which is set aside for emergencies only. That’s why Republicans who are moaning and groaning about the supposedly unruly mob at the Capitol are full of it. Pro-choicers fought back using every legal tool they had, absolutely, but the second that Rick Perry started coloring out of the lines, it was on. Wendy Davis was asked onto MSNBC to speculate about what’s going to happen next.

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This is true, but it doesn’t mean that all the crowds that amassed on the Capitol building to protest the second special session wasted their time. After all, the mainstream media has all but given up covering the relentless chipping away of reproductive rights on the state level. Not because they don’t think it’s important, which I doubt! It’s because it’s just one bill after another after another after another and, if your job is getting page views or ratings, you begin to worry that it’s a little repetitive and your audience is going to get bored. This is what anti-choicers are counting on, and so it’s critical for pro-choicers to find innovative ways to keep the heat on. That is working in Texas, and getting otherwise obscure but devoted state senators like David and Leticia Van de Putte onto TV to make their case. Van de Putte was awesome on MSNBC.

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I’ve seen that the relentless lies about “women’s health” coming from the right have gotten a small amount of mainstream media traction, with mainstream sources reporting on this bill as if there was any validity whatsoever to anti-choice claims that these regulations are about safety. Obviously, there’s nothing safe whatsoever about driving women into the black market or worse, to try their hand with a coat hanger. But Van de Putte is bringing up stuff that rarely gets mentioned, which is that actual medical associations and real doctors of all stripes disagree with these bills. The only doctors we hear from who don’t are the kind who, uh, have quit being doctors to go into politics, where their ignorant blather about women’s bodies and masturbating fetuses is more welcome.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, which one to choose edition? There were so many—so many!—weird right wing reactions to the overturn of DOMA. I pretty much had to grab one at random. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas is always a reliable provider of WTF comments.

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Yep, he said that gay marriage has been tried over and over and great civilizations try it and collapse. He failed to note any of these great civilizations, of course, because he was just making it all up.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte