Shorter Question Everything
• Citizens United part 2: The Republican Party has thrown its weight behind a lawsuit aimed at demolishing a key remaining component of campaign-finance regulation left standing after Citizens United: limits on political contributions. A Supreme Court ruling for the GOP could sound a death knell for efforts to keep unlimited money out of politics, potentially opening elections to the highest bidder.
• Rep. Trey Gowdy Jokes About Torturing IRS Officials Like Jack Bauer on ’24′. Welcome to The Midterms, 2014 Edition. Bereft of Obamacare, Republicans are desperately trying to keep at least one of their scandals alive. Since the IRS is always an excellent enemy to use as a weapon, Fox News was happy to oblige them. John Roberts let Rep. Trey Gowdy go at them, and Lois Lerner in particular, with everything he had, including the suggestion that if he were Jack Bauer, he’d just torture information out of her. That certainly speaks to the casual attitude these people have toward torture, doesn’t it? As bad as that little joke was, the actual segment was worse. Gowdy maintains that Lerner’s statement made before she invoked the 5th amendment was actually testimony and so she technically waived her right to remain silent.
• Rachel Maddow hands DeMint and Reed their asses. Maddow pointed out that ultrasounds invade women’s privacy: Women don’t ‘get the opportunity’ with ultrasound, the ultrasound bill is mandated by the state. So if a woman does not want an ultrasound, or if her doctor does not want her to have an ultrasound, if an ultrasound is not medically indicated, the state government is stepping in and saying: ‘You must have this ultrasound by order of the state government.’ In a lot of these what is being mandated is a vaginal ultrasound, so it’s an invasive, vaginal, forced procedure that a woman cannot say ‘no’ to by order of the state government. And that is all right with you. I understand that you feel that you have an interest strong enough to override a woman’s desire to not have that happen to her, that you can insist that it does as a legislator. But most American women, I think, are going to balk at that. And if you want to make it a federal issue, I’d say that the Democrats are going to be delighted to have that fight.
- Rape crisis centers will operate under a state-imposed gag order — rape-crisis counselors will face new restrictions when it comes to telling impregnated rape victims that they legally terminate their pregnancy.
- The budget effectively defunds Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.
- There’s a provision to require women seeking legal abortions to undergo a state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasound — even if women don’t want one, and if their doctor doesn’t recommend one. Ohio Republicans proudly declared they want to put themselves between patients and their physicians, prescribing specific procedures for no medical reason.
- Women will also be required to pay for state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds they do not want and their doctors do not think they need.
- Physicians will be legally required to deliver a Republican-written speech to women seeking legal abortions. Whether the doctor believes what’s in the script, or even wants to say those words to his or her patient, has been deemed irrelevant.
- Clinics that provide abortion services will be required to have transfer agreements with local hospitals, and then bans public hospitals from establishing those agreements, all in the hopes of shutting the clinics down.
- And Republican policymakers in the state decided to redefine the words “pregnancy” and “fetus” in state law — the budget decides that a woman is pregnant even before a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine lining. The effect of this policy may prevent a woman from using an IUD in the state of Ohio.
In other news
• A U.N. peacekeeping force took over security duties from French troops in Mali Monday to help secure the country ahead of elections, officials said.
• Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union on Monday
• Kazakhstan to Britain: Don’t lecture us on human rights. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Monday nobody had the right to lecture his country after British Prime Minister David Cameron raised concerns about human rights in the former Soviet state.
• Snowden’s Fate Is Up to Russia, Ecuador Says. President Rafael Correa said Sunday that while there were weighty arguments for granting asylum to the fugitive American intelligence leaker Edward J. Snowden, it was up to Russia to decide what happens to him.
• Syrian forces battle for control of Homs. Third day of offensive sees government tightening siege on city as Gulf council and EU call for political solution.