Thursday, February 11, 2016

Informed Consent as Pretext

Imagine this scenario:  Liberals, motivated by a desire to save lives, impose a requirement that anyone who wants to buy a gun must first meet with a psychiatrist, 24 hours before the gun sale can take place. (After all, we don't want crazy people buying gun, and we want to be sure people understand the risk of gun ownership.)

Faced with a backlash about the lack of psychiatrists in rural Kentucky, Liberal legislators modify the proposed law so that the mandatory consult with the shrink can take place by Skype.

Conservatives would protest that such a law was an unconstitutional ruse to make gun ownership more difficult -- an infringement on the second amendment right to bear arms.

This is essentially what Republicans have done in Frankfort, albeit with a different constitutional right.

Roe v. Wade is one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time, right up there with Dred Scott (and similar in logic). I do not believe that the constitution gives a woman the right to kill her unborn child. To the contrary, I think that child has its own rights under the constitution.

But nine guys in black robes have held otherwise. It is the law of the land for now. I'd like to see that changed, either by the Court overruling itself or by constitutional amendment. However, until that occurs, respect for rule of law requires that we not undermine the woman's constitutional right to an abortion so long as that remains a constitutional right.

I therefore disagree with what Republicans have done in Frankfort with their so-called "informed consent" bill. As amended, a woman who wants an abortion must have a consult with a doctor by video chat or in-person. The video option was added when it was pointed out that the bill would be most onerous for rural women.

What on earth can the doctor or medical provider tell the woman that cannot be told the day of the abortion? This is just a delay tactic, an obstacle and impediment to the abortion taking place.

I suspect the real motivation behind the bill is the hope that some women, forced to "sleep on it," might change their minds about having the abortion altogether. That would save the life of a child -- certainly a good thing.

Proponents of gun control are similarly motivated to save lives by making the exercise of a constitutional right more onerous.

In both circumstances, the rule of law is undermined. That is a very serious issue, because the rule of law is the linchpin of our democracy. It protects our freedom.

So the informed consent bill, in my view, was well-intentioned but nonetheless a mistake.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Flashback on Rand Paul Accolades

Politico has catalogued some of the many instances in which media waxed poetic about how fascinating Sen. Rand Paul is, and how he would inevitably get the Republican nomination and then win the general election.

It's a good reminder of why it made sense for Paul to seek and RPK to agree to the caucus:

Take, for example, these comments -- not from Republican fans:

“Rand Paul will win the whole thing because he can win Iowa, New Hampshire, he can win South Carolina, and he's the only candidate you listed there that can win all three.” (Chris Matthews, Real Clear Politics, November 2, 2013)

“If the GOP want to defeat Clinton next fall, they should turn to the only Republican whose buzz rivals hers: Rand Paul.” (Brian O’Connor, the New Republic, April 13, 2015)

“If he announces, he’ll be considered a first-tier candidate.” (James Carville, Vogue, September 16, 2013)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rand Is Out

Sen. Rand Paul has suspended his campaign. He was right to do so, and right to do so now. It's a three-way race, and he can be more influential by helping Marco Rubio at this point (which I hope he is inclined to do).

He is in good shape in Kentucky.  He will get reelected -- and without huge infusions of cash from the NRSC, so they need to stop whining. Yes, Democrat Jim Gray can self fund, and has been a popular mayor. Nonetheless, he will not win. And not because he's gay. Kentuckians like Rand Paul and they like his message. His work is not done on behalf of Kentucky and on behalf of the cause of freedom.

Now that Rand is out, the Kentucky caucus will not pose the conflict many of us felt. I would have voted for Rand as our native son. But I would have felt that in so doing, I was missing an opportunity to help Marco Rubio.  So I'm glad I don't have to worry about being loyal to the Kentuckian.

This is the first, maybe the last time Kentucky's primary actually matters in selecting our party's nominee.  I therefore do not mind that I will have to drive a little farther to caucus. Those who are griping about the caucus now being unnecessary due to Rand dropping out are missing this point:  we finally get a vote in selecting our party's presidential nominee, for the first time in the 20 years I have lived here.

I don't resent Rand for the caucus; I thank him for the opportunity it has given us. And I don't resent Rand for running for president. As I wrote in my last Courier-Journal column (reprinted below) I am sorry it did not work out for him, but I am still proud of him and appreciate the courage and sacrifice he made by running for president.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Need Your Input Here

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed me to an eight-member Congressional Commission to explore the possibility of a National Women's History Museum on or near the Mall in Washington,D.C.

We are gathering public input as part of our research for our report to Congress.

I would very much appreciate anyone who has 90 seconds taking this survey. Not just women -- men, too!

Thanks in advance for your help.

How About That Turnout!

As I had anticipated, the polling was way off. Trump's supporters are just baffled as a result. I feel bad for them, particularly those who are new to politics. I hope they remain engaged.

Trump's results offer a cautionary tale: organization still matters.

How fascinating that Bernie tied Hillary. This is the Clinton Machine, after all. The guy isn't even a Democrat. And yet he tied her. That does not bode well for Hillary.

The historically high turnout suggests there is a hunger for change from Hope and Change. I predict New Hampshire will also see high turnout.

Marco Rubio's showing in third place -- almost bumping off Trump for second -- shows that this is now a three-person race on the Republican side. Things are starting to coalesce. I'd therefore respectfully disagree with the remaining Republican candidates who suggest that the race is "wide open." It is not.

One of the biggest stories of last night did not occur in Iowa. Rubio scored a coveted endorsement from Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina.

Scott recently spoke at the McConnell Center at University of Louisville, where I had the privilege of meeting him. What a great guy- smart, funny engaging, strong faith, conservative. He has a bright future in this party. And I think he -- like Rubio -- can do much to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party to minorities whom Democrats have taken for granted for too long, and for whom progressive policies have been a disaster.

The South Carolina primary, to my mind, is much more important that Iowa or New Hampshire. Rubio's odds of winning South Caroline just went way up. That's a good thing.

Monday, February 1, 2016

So Who Will Win Iowa?

I expect Donald Trump to win followed by Marco Rubio.  This may just be my hope - that Rubio edges out Ted Cruz, whom I detest.

I think there is a real possibility that Rand Paul will finish fourth, as a result of his father's organization and a very good debate performance last week.

Iowa is a lousy predictor of who will ultimately win the nomination; it is by no means representative of the rest of the country. The RNC should rework the primary system to displace Iowa as first in the nation. All this money gets wasted there for at the end of the day very few electoral votes.

The real question I have about tonight's results is this:  how accurate will the polling appear compared to actual votes?

Kentuckians have witnessed some wildly inaccurate polls in recent election cycles, done by formerly reputable pollsters. My sense is that pollsters have not adapted to the demise of the land line.

On the Democrat side, it would be fun to see Hillary get Berned. A decent nominee should be able to beat either one, so it probably makes little difference as to Republican chances in November.

Trump is scheduled to go to Little Rock following the Iowa caucuses. Presumably Mike Huckabee will announce he is bowing out and endorse Trump. This will be a great opportunity for Trump to remind voters of Bill Clinton as sexual predator and the general smarminess of the Clintons.