Tag Archives: rhetoric

Year in Review: Abortion rights, clinics under growing attacks in 2015

More than 300,000 Americans and a coalition of 140 progressive groups want the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the deadly shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as an act of domestic terrorism.

“We, the undersigned, urge the Department of Justice to investigate the recent attacks on reproductive-health clinics using all appropriate federal statutes, including domestic terrorism,” read an appeal sent in December to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Since the release of the first deceptively edited video from the Center for Medical Progress intended to vilify Planned Parenthood, and, by proxy, all abortion providers, anti-choice extremists have launched an unprecedented and multi-pronged assault against women’s reproductive rights.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America, UltraViolet, CREDO Action, Courage Campaign and others said the November shooting was politically motivated.

“People are dying, clinics are burning — and only a domestic terrorism investigation can help us find out who is driving this violence,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. 

Thomas cited acts of violence at other clinics in five states in 2015 intended to terrorize women and “scare them away from accessing health care.”

Since 1977, there have been 11 murders and more than 220 bombings and arson attacks at abortion facilities in the United States, according to the National Abortion Foundation.

The request for investigation was made days before shooting suspect Robert Dear, accused of killing three people and injuring nine in the Colorado attack, stepped into a courtroom on Dec. 9 and declared himself a “warrior for the babies.”

Leaders of the progressive groups said politicians should be held accountable for the irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric that fuels such thinking and the resulting violence.

Planned Parenthood redoubled clinic security after the shooting and, in many states, the organization’s supporters marched on their capitols in displays of solidarity. A national day of solidarity was observed on Dec. 5. In Wisconsin, activists gathered at the Capitol on Dec. 10.

“While we’ve seen the continuation of hateful rhetoric toward Planned Parenthood by those who oppose our work, their voice clearly does not represent the majority,” said Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Our resolve to keep our doors open is stronger than the continued political rhetoric calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, because we care deeply for the people who rely on us for high-quality, nonjudgmental care.”

Throughout 2015, supporters of Planned Parenthood, which serves more than 60,000 women and men each year in Wisconsin, put up a defense against repeated GOP legislative efforts to cut funding and restrict access to health care in Wisconsin, other states and at the federal level.

In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected Wisconsin’s efforts to reinstate a restriction on access to abortion. The appeals panel affirmed the decision of U.S. District Judge William Conley that the state’s admitting privileges law, which requires physicians who prescribe so-called “morning after” pills and perform abortions, to be affiliated with a nearby hospital. Conley said the measure places an undue burden on women’s access to safe and legal abortions. The circuit court panel said the law does nothing to support patient safety.

“To those who go to shocking extremes to shut us down, know this: These doors stay open,” Huyck vowed.

IN 2015

Lawmakers in 16 states, including Wisconsin, passed nearly 50 bills restricting access to abortion in 2015, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Two state legislatures — Wisconsin’s and West Virginia’s — voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Five legislatures voted to lengthen waiting periods for abortions.

— L.N.

Talking about 2015

The most prominent theme to emerge among users on Dictionary.com was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality, and also racial identity.

This led the online reference service to name “identity” the 2015 Word of the Year.

— Lisa Neff

Trump, how does he get away with these Trumpisms?

Lobbing rhetorical stink bombs at a large group of voters is not the normal way to get ahead in U.S. politics. Nor is alienating prominent figures of your own party.

But Donald Trump has turned the do’s and don’ts of campaigns on their head, prospering with tactics that could sink anyone else.

A review of “Trumpisms” that only Trump could get away with.

ABOUT THOSE HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE

After Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to President Barack Obama, the Republican Party went through a period of soul-searching and determined that candidates needed to stop alienating Latino voters if they wanted to recapture the White House.

Enter Trump, who in his announcement speech accused the Mexican government of sending its criminals and rapists across the border and has proposed building a massive border wall and deporting every person in the country illegally.

He’s thrived.

Romney, in contrast, earned plenty of grief merely by suggesting that people in the country illegally would deport themselves if the U.S. denied them work and public benefits.

MOCKING PRISONERS OF WAR

Arizona Sen. John McCain may not be some conservatives’ cup of tea, but he nonetheless spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. He refused to leave, ahead of his fellow prisoners, when given the chance.

Trump, who has accused McCain of doing too little to help veterans, knocked the senator in July, first disputing that he was a hero, then declaring: “He’s a war hero `cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Even the most partisan Democrats hail McCain’s service to his country.

TAKING ON MEGYN KELLY AND FOX NEWS

Trump was furious at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for asking about his history of insulting comments aimed at women during the first GOP debate, and he has not forgiven her in the weeks since.

Trump repeatedly has questioned Kelly’s professionalism and went as far as to tell CNN that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during the debate.

The Kelly feud has led to clashes between Trump and Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, who has called on Trump to apologize. Republicans tend not to pick a fight with Fox.

LATE NIGHT TWEETS FROM TRUMP

It’s late in the night and all through the house, not a creature is stirring – except Trump. He’s developed a habit of logging onto Twitter in the wee hours to deliver an assortment of broadsides, often at the previous evening’s cable news shows.

While other candidates might be sunk by petty name-calling and a hair-trigger reaction to what is said about them, that seems to slide off Teflon Trump.

FLIP-FLOPPING

Flip-flopping is trouble for most politicians, but Trump has done it merrily and with apparent impunity. He has shrugged off his old support for abortion rights and a single-payer health care system, and his former identification with the Democratic Party, with that-was-then-this-is-now nonchalance.

Trump says conservative darling Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat, too, and Trump says he shouldn’t be held accountable for past views.

UNSAVORY SUPPORT

Two brothers were on their way home from a Boston Red Sox game when, police said, they brutally beat a sleeping homeless man who is Hispanic. One later allegedly justified the attack by saying Trump “was right” about deporting “all these illegals.”

While he eventually denounced the incident, Trump’s initial response was tepid. “I think that would be a shame,” he said, before adding: “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. And they are very passionate.”

Political etiquette

The holiday season is traditionally a time when families, friends, co-workers and communities come together in a spirit of love and good cheer. Unfortunately, the unprecedented level of political polarization in Wisconsin made for some tense moments around holiday tables in 2011.

It shouldn’t be this way. As President Barack Obama has said, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.” Ultimately, people on both sides of the political aisle need to check their tone. Becoming personal and angry fails to enhance any point of view.

The rhetoric will tend to grow even more heated as we head into a presidential election year that’s likely to include a wave of hugely combative recall races in Wisconsin. It’s up to each one of us to help keep the discourse respectful, honest and productive.

One of the reasons debates have become so testy is that the public today has access to so many questionable sources of conflicting and largely inaccurate information. People on differing sides of the ideological divide hurl “facts” at each other that are barely grounded in truth and often irrelevant to the issue under debate. The best thing that any of us can contribute to a political discussion is focus and truth. That means being armed with actual facts and able to cite credible sources. If you’re going to be engaged politically, do your homework and make sure you know what you’re talking about.

Most of the problems we face as a society today are complex and nuanced. The kind of information needed to make useful decisions about these problems cannot be expressed in pithy sound bites. When someone is spouting simple, rhetorically neat solutions to problems like the national debt, affordable healthcare, global warming and education, beware. If simple solutions to these problems existed, there would be no problem in the first place. Don’t try to score points by minimizing the complexity of an issue. You’ll just lose credibility for yourself and the viewpoint you represent.

No matter what your political persuasion, remember that no one likes being criticized, let alone screamed at or called a liar. If that’s the best you have to offer in a debate or a discussion, then just walk away. You’re not going to change anyone’s mind with that sort of behavior, so why waste the energy?

If you’re really interested in having a meaningful political discussion, be prepared to listen and find common ground with the other side. Meaningful discourse can only occur in an atmosphere of good will and open-mindedness.

Most people’s political viewpoints are based on their personal experiences and the influence exerted by their family, social circle and the surrounding media. By asking them about their beliefs in a genuinely interested way, you can get them to think and question. By providing them respectfully with information they might not have otherwise been exposed to, you might open their eyes to new ways of looking at things. But you should be prepared to offer them the same courtesy in return.

Democracy can only survive as long as people are engaged enough to seek out the truth needed to make informed decisions at the polls. We urge our readers to be part of that process and pledge to do the same.