The ultrasound lobby (presupposing there is such a thing) must be furtively bankrolling Republicans from Boise to Richmond. How else to explain the riot of bills mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortion? The issue has emerged as a conservative litmus test, gauging the pro-life bona fides of legislators nationwide. Idaho, as politically dissimilar to Washington as Turkmenistan, is the latest to experiment with promulgated moralizing (there is a moral undercurrent to most lawmaking, true, but ultrasounds are literally invasive).
As the Spokane Spokesman-Review's Betsy Z. Russell writes, "Five of six North Idaho senators opposed requiring Idaho women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, but the proposal passed the Senate 23-12 Monday after an emotional 90-minute debate."
Democratic fundraisers in Washington and Oregon will quickly highlight Idaho as a harbinger of a future Romney or Santorum Administration. And they'll have plenty to plumb, including the fact that "the bill would require rape or incest victims seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, at their own expense."
Oregon is a bellwether and that extends to politics. What, then, should observers make of the successful push to land a still-unnominated independent presidential candidate on the fall ballot? Led by a Michael Bloomberg or other iconoclastic figure, it could dilute the Republican and Democratic vote.
"Americans Elect, the well-funded group seeking to run a centrist candidate for president this fall, submitted what appeared to be enough signatures on Monday to qualify for the Oregon ballot in November, the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes writes. "Organizers for the group said they turned in nearly 37,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office, well over the 21,804 valid signatures needed."
Sans a candidate, Americans Elect will be reflexively dismissed. However, independents generally exhibit an appeal that aligns with Northwest sensibilities (Bull Moose candidate Teddy Roosevelt, for example, won Washington in 1912.)
The News Tribune's Peter Callaghan offers a thoughtful retort to the Hamlet-like exhortations regarding Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. As Midday Scan's author noted yesterday, Bales is a metaphor, a Rorschach test, a PTSD poster boy, an outlier, a victim, a family man, an aberration, and a war criminal. All of those takes shouldn't absolve him of his horrific crime, however.
"Bales saw combat. He saw dead soldiers and civilians. He saw horrific injuries and suffered at least two. Even when there was no fighting, he lived each day with the tension of knowing that death could come at any moment," Callaghan writes. "But tens of thousands of service members experienced what he did and more. None did what he allegedly did. None left a base in the Panjwai district of Afghanistan near Kandahar province and hunted down civilians he had recently been charged with protecting. None walked a mile and then moved from house to house in two different villages and attacked villagers as they slept. None murdered 16 civilians including nine children."
A hat tip to state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, who ventures into the morass of identity politics and lives to tell the tale. Carlyle, who writes a personal blog that will be grist for future political opponents, weighs in on the intersection of the academy and politics. Mix in political correctness, passive-aggressive Northwest proclivities, and (oh no!) Israel and you have a formula for inertia (or bone-headedness). If Carlyle has a liability, it's his charitable manner of pulling back the curtain. Carlyle's diplomatic MO merits forgiveness, however, for its transparency and candor.
"Today, few dynamics more astutely represent the soul of our state’s broader political discourse, debate and engagement than the complex duality of 'Seattle nice:' On the one hand a profound deference to a full public process and expression of individual voice, and on the other an extreme political clumsiness about tackling serious controversy," Carlyle writes. A stimulating read.
Lastly, former Seattle-ite Mike Daisey gets his comeuppance from the redoubtable David Carr of the New York Times. Should excuse mongering extend to bald-faced liars? As Carr opines, "Is it O.K. to lie on the way to telling a greater truth? The short answer is also the right one. No."
Spokane Spokesman Review, "Idaho pre-abortion ultrasound gets senate okay"
The Oregonian, "Americans elect, attracting scrutiny in its wake"
The News Tribune, "Search for reasons risks excusing Afghan killings"
New York Times, "Theatre, disguised up as real journalism"