Both Sides? Clouds Get In The Way

Don't give yourself away

My mom loved music. When she was growing up she was a big Frank Sinatra fan, as all her friends were— including the guy who became my father. But as far as I could tell, their musical appreciation ended with Sinatra and Dean Martin and their cronies. But not my mom. OMG! She just loved all the ‘60s music and used to force my father to drive her out from Brooklyn to Stony Brook to see the concerts while I was in college. She was a Jimi Hendrix fan and a Doors fan but she really liked female singers the most— Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves, Cher, later Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Gladys Knight, Joan Jett, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. But I'm pretty certain that the singer she liked the most was Joni Mitchell. Not only did she come to Stony Brook to see Joni even before the release of Song to a Seagull but even when I was living in India I would hear about her going to see Joni shows with my sisters.

Years later, she died slowly from cancer. Joni Mitchell was recording the Both Sides Now album during that time. The title track, a standard of hers from the late 1960s, was completed enough so that when I asked Joni if it would be ok to give a copy to my mother to listen to in her final days, Joni agreed. And that was the song that helped my mother with her passing. Listen to it up top. Take that, Judy!

It always irks me when someone misuses the phrase “both sides” and that’s what South Carolina politician Nancy Mace did on Meet The Press yesterday. She may not be as bad as Trump or as Q-Anon queens Marjorie Traitor Greene and Lauren Boebert but that doesn’t give her license to go on a national TV show and mislead the audience with false equivalencies. I’d love to see her try that with Mehdi Hasan or Chris Hayes instead of poor Chuck Todd. He asked Mace, an anti-Choice stalwart, for her reaction to the GOP debacle in Kansas last week, where 59% of one of the reddest states in the country voted against outlawing abortions. Her slippery, standard conservative, response, right from her first sentence, was sickening and deceitful. “Well, I think we're seeing it on both sides of the aisle too, the extremities of both sides.” Why didn’t Todd stop her and ask her for an example of “both sides.” Abortions are already fully banned in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma. In Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin and South Dakota abortions are banned after 6-weeks— before most women know they’re pregnant— and Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, Idaho and Indiana will be joining the “fully banned” crowd soon. And various degrees of banned-ness already exist in West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Utah, Arizona,Wyoming and North Dakota.

Both sides?

As far as the big blue states like New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, they use viability (or 6 months) as the cutoff for legal abortion. “On the far left,” yammered Mace, “you have folks that want abortion for any reason up until birth.” That’s a bold-faced lie, although Alaska comes closest to that. Todd should have asked her for an example, especially after he repeated it for the third time.

Truth came next though: “And then on the far right we have states that are trying to ensure that no abortion for any reason including rape and incest victims in girls. And that's not okay with the electorate either. And I see it in my own district and my own state. The vast majority of people here are okay with some guardrails, but they don't want the extremities of either side. And they're seeing states push forward with legislation, like in my state of South Carolina– there's legislation that would ban the word abortion on a website or a website server. There are folks that want to ban women from traveling out of state. There are folks, like in my state, that want to ban abortion for women who are victims of rape and girls who are victims of incest. And that's just, you know, both sides have these extremities where the vast majority of people just are not there right now. And there has to be a place for the center on this very emotional issue.” Todd let her get away with the gratuitous “both sides” bullshit. Instead he asked her if the illegitimate Trump Court made a mistake in throwing out Roe. She never likes staying from conservative Republican doctrine:

Well, I am staunchly pro-life. But there were issues with Roe. Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had issues constitutionally– the right to privacy versus the right to equal protection under the law. You saw Joe Biden 40 years ago trying to, you know, look at doing away with it as well. And so I think that there are issues with Roe in terms of the constitutionality of it. And the overturning of it now leaves it to the states, state legislatures in particular, but also Congress can have a role here. But the problem that we have today, Chuck, and I know that you see this every single day, are the political divisions. And because this is such an emotional issue, this is a place where we really should be working together. If you look across the pond, you look at European nations, if you're even allowed to have one, there are gestational limits. In most countries in Europe, you're looking at 12 to 15 weeks there. And there are other, you know, exceptions that we should be looking at. We should be ensuring that life of the mother in every instance is protected. We should ensure– which is one of the reasons I was one of eight Republicans just a few weeks ago to vote to ensure that women have access to contraceptives– there are some basic things we could be doing that all of us agree on, the vast majority of people agree on, and aren't fringy on either side of the aisle. But that's not what we're doing right now.”

Todd didn’t know— read: “unprepared”— so he let her get away with another lie. 39 European counties have legalized abortion on request and two more are almost as liberal. Six counties are as backward as South Carolina— Poland and 5 mini-states (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monoco and San Marino).

Todd reminded Ms Both Sides that “15 states right now want to criminalize the doctor… A lot of these OBGYNs don't want to practice in states with these restrictive laws because they don't know… How do you do this? How do you fix this federally?”

She responded that "we all have to work together… I think you can look at gestational limits that are reasonable for most Americans. But also, you’ve got– and one of my concerns is you've got states that are going to try to ban women from traveling, that don’t– that if you're raped, that you've got to report it to the police. Well, I was raped when I was 16, and it took me a week to tell my mother. By that time, any evidence would've been gone. And the violation of a woman's privacy– I can't tell you how traumatic that event was in my life. In my own home state, they want women to be required and mandated to report when they are raped. And I just can't even imagine a world where you’re a girl, a teenage girl who's been raped, to have to report those things. And, you know, Handmaid's Tale was not supposed to be a road map, right? This is a place where we can be, we can be in the center. We can protect life and we can protect where people are on both sides of the aisle. And so it's important to take that perspective. And that's the perspective that Congress should have on everything that we do. But as you know, we're just so divided.”

What else could Todd say after that besides “do you think it is bad if the Republican Party becomes the party of abortion bans?”

She assured her voters back home that she’s “staunchly pro-life. I have a 100% pro-life voting record. I do think that it will be an issue in November if we're not moderating ourselves, that we are including exceptions for women who've been raped, for girls who are victims of incest, and certainly in every instance where the life of the mother is at stake. And that is a position that I have staked out that's really important to me personally. But that's where the vast majority of women are in my state. And I'm going to continue to fight for those things. But we can't go to the far corners of the right or the far corners of the left because the left wants abortion for any reason up until the birth of the child, which is insane to me and insane to most of America. So somewhere in the middle is where we've got to meet. And I do believe that Congress has a role. And I want to play a part in that role in shaping policy for the future for every American in our country.”