Mitt’s Monday Night CBS Interview: On Abortion – Three Lies Masquerading As Truths

The inimitable Mitt Romney, CBS News, Monday, August 27, 2012:

“My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother. But recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court.

The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

The depths to which Romney will dive to equivocate on this issue are being thoroughly plumbed, especially since Todd Akin’s and Tom Smith’s recent “pronouncements.” On CBS Monday night the now nominated Mitt Romney spoke truthfully, in a technical sense, but used whatever truth was there in order to lie, a special form of propaganda the GOP has in its arsenal to defend itself against sneaky Democratic party fact attacks.

Mitt’s Trifecta & The Questions Not Asked
 

“My position has been clear throughout this campaign.
I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest,
and the health and life of the mother.”

1. In what has always been routine campaigning for Romney he misrepresented his position on abortion. Physically, at Monday’s CBS interview, the suddenly moderate Mitt was the same right wing extremist Mitt who pandered to the most hardhearted abortion opponents throughout the GOP primaries, going so far rightward that he support ed so-called personhood amendments that would apply 14th Amendment law to fertilized eggs at the moment of fertilization. According to Republican leaders, doing this would thereafter be used to ban all abortions, most forms of effective birth control, and, according to many, even outlaw in vitro fertilization.

Now though, Mitt’s “panderees” of the primary months are in his rear view mirror. In the general election he needs, naturally enough, to pander to a more general audience, the majority of whom are generally both sane and compassionate.

“Time to pivot,” thinks the Romney campaign. But how exactly does a campaign pivot its candidate out of deeply entrenched – and publicized – views without getting ratted out by some nosy, fact checking newspaper or “lamestreamer” like Rachel Maddow? Or a blog like They Will Say ANYTHING! written by a guy living in his wife’s windowless basement with 37 cats and a chimpanzee? I ask you.

Here’s where Mitt used a half truth in the service of telling a full untruth. Recall that he prefaced his list of abortion exceptions by claiming he’d always supported these exceptions “throughout this campaign.” Well, at first blush, common sense dictates that he meant the complete campaign from his official entrance into the race until the present, which in this case was last Monday evening on CBS.

Yet, as we saw above, his positions on abortion have been consistently loutish. From a common sense viewpoint Mitt’s claim that he’s been (1) pro exceptions to abortion bans, and (2) consistent in this stance is patently false. He knows that. Paul Ryan knows that. Most of the public knows that. The media knows that, or should. And finally, his own party absolutelyknows that. So, we wonder, how could Mitt tell CBS he’d consistently supported his listed exceptions to abortion bans “throughout this campaign”?

It’s simple: confuse the enemy. It’s like he was saying (without saying it, of course),

“Once upon a time there was a GOP primary campaign and, now there is a general election campaign, as in two different campaigns! And “throughout” this new campaign I have been consistently pro exceptions to abortion bans. See?”

Yes sir, we do. In effect, he told a certain “truth” (the campaign in now a general election campaign), but only in a highly technical sense, and he didn’t explain it.

This gymnastic cynicism and mendacity rivals the maestro, the savant, Newt Gingrich. As anyone within earshot of Mitt Romney’s mouth in the past decade or more knows, he has rarely, if ever, been clear about his stance on abortion restrictions, ever. The “new” (retread) position he now claims for the general campaign is, no doubt, built, as ever, on a moral foundation having the strength of unset jello.

What follow-up question went unasked? “Governor Romney, despite your claim, your positions on abortion exceptions has not been consistent at all. Just a month or so ago you were dead set against exceptions to abortion bans. So, during which campaign have you been consistently pro abortion ban exceptions? Do you have a truly principled stance on this? What exactly is it? Please be precise.”

2. Mitt’s assertion that he (now) supports legal abortion where the “health” of the mother is at stake begs a number of questions, but here’s a practical one that should have/could have been clarified during the interview.

“Governor Romney, by ‘health of the mother,’ do you include both physical and mental health, or, do you, as most members of the pro life community do, support life of mother exceptions for only the physical health of the mother and not for the mental health of the mother?”

This is a crucial question. Mitt’s answer would, in its legal and practical sense, affect for better or for worse a large percentage of those who seek abortions for health reasons. Almost alone among human minds, the GOP right winger treats physical health and mental health as separate, non-contiguous countries. The wingnut mind, generally frightened silly by introspection, pushes mental health issues to the periphery where it can be ignored. I’ve witnessed these wingnuts mouth the words “mental health of the mother” with acid sarcasm.

So, exceptions based on the health of the mother, as Romney now proclaims he endorses, hinge mightily on the definition of “health.” Does Mitt accept mental health as a native of the “country” of health care? If he does not, we need to know that. If he does, he’s got a fight with the wingnut evangelicals and Catholics on his hands. It’s tough to be Mitt, trying so hard to thread the Republican needle between the unthinkable and the unspeakable. . .

3. Finally, turning to another aspect of the brief excerpt from Monday night’s CBS interview, Mitt was truthful on this particular point: the issue of abortion in all its ramifications has been and will continue to be a matter for the courts, state and federal. And surely, at some point the Supreme Court will weigh in on a case that will have far-reaching consequences, perhaps as meaningful, on the downside, as Roe v. Wade. Perhaps, like the “Obamacare” decision, the merry nine will surprise us on the upside. So, that part of Mitt’s comment was, as I say, truthful, but equally pallid and banal since it revealed nothing not already well-known.

However, since Mitt wanted to pander again to the basest of his base, he didn’t stop there and pushed down hard on the mouth accelerator when he added:

“The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

The Democrats make this a political issue every four years? The Democrats? That so? Few outside the wingnut universe have noticed that phenomenon.

The fact (i.e. the truth, what’s left of it) is beyond argument: Republican right wing extremist anti-abortion politics has been among the primary mainstays of the GOP for decades. The present Congressional session – the one ushered in by a staunchly anti-abortion-no-excuses election in 2010 – has been fronting and centering anti-abortion legislation without pause since John Boehner banged the gavel to the desk on the first legislative day in January 2011. They, and they alone, have sponsored and pushed the legislation set out below as well as continuing to add the Hyde amendment to appropriations bills (and trying to add in a new no exceptions clause and have tried to make a mockery of rape by adding the term “forcible rape” to the Hyde restrictions).

Moreover, nearly every GOP primary candidate tried to outdo the others in anti-abortion sentiment. Santorum made the issue his foundational principle. Mitt, as noted, kept pace with the worst of the group. Yet Monday night on CBS, he denied that record by claiming, without a shred of evidence, that the Democratic party makes abortion a political football.

The unasked follow-up question? “Governor Romney, are you an ass, or do you just play one on t.v.?

Finally, excuse all the bold italics, but this particular lie and, moreover, its methodology need emphasis. Have we come so far from an interest in seeking and maintaining truth that in addition to Monday night’s CBS interviewer, no reporter has yet to challenge him on any of this?

Yes. We have.

The list of GOP anti-abortion proposals is below this image.
Directly below is a list of many of the abortion-related bills introduced by Republicans in the present Congress. I’ve not included the routine Hyde amendment additions to appropriations bills. Source: the official legislative site for Congressional bills, the Library of Congress’s Thomas:

H.R.3 : No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] (introduced 1/20/2011) Cosponsors (227)
Committees: House Judiciary; House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means
House Reports: 112-38 Part 1
Latest Major Action: 5/9/2011 Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 40.

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H.R.165 : To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants to nonprofit tax-exempt organizations for the purchase of ultrasound equipment to provide free examinations to pregnant women needing such services, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] (introduced 1/5/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 2/1/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.212 : Sanctity of Human Life Act
Sponsor: Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] (introduced 1/7/2011) Cosponsors (64)
Committees: House Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 1/24/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

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H.R.217 : Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act
Sponsor: Rep Pence, Mike [IN-6] (introduced 1/7/2011) Cosponsors (178)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 2/1/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.358 : Protect Life Act
Sponsor: Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16] (introduced 1/20/2011) Cosponsors (145)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; Senate Finance
House Reports: 112-40 Part 1
Latest Major Action: 10/17/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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H.R.361 : Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep Fleming, John [LA-4] (introduced 1/20/2011) Cosponsors (124)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 2/1/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.374 : Life at Conception Act
Sponsor: Rep Hunter, Duncan D. [CA-52] (introduced 1/20/2011) Cosponsors (120)
Committees: House Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 1/20/2011 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

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H.R.593 : Taxpayer Conscience Protection Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep Olson, Pete [TX-22] (introduced 2/9/2011) Cosponsors (34)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 2/15/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.1096 : Sanctity of Life Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/15/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 6/1/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

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H.R.1099 : Taxpayers’ Freedom of Conscience Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] (introduced 3/15/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Foreign Affairs; House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 3/29/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.

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H.R.1232 : To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to eliminate certain tax benefits relating to abortion.
Sponsor: Rep Camp, Dave [MI-4] (introduced 3/29/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Ways and Means
House Reports: 112-55
Latest Major Action: 4/6/2011 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 27.

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H.R.2299 : Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
Sponsor: Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] (introduced 6/22/2011) Cosponsors (172)
Committees: House Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 3/27/2012 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Ordered to be Reported by the Yeas and Nays: 20 – 13.

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H.R.3130 : Heartbeat Informed Consent Act
Sponsor: Rep Bachmann, Michele [MN-6] (introduced 10/6/2011) Cosponsors (47)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 10/7/2011 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.3541 : Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012
Sponsor: Rep Franks, Trent [AZ-2] (introduced 12/1/2011) Cosponsors (98)
Committees: House Judiciary
House Reports: 112-496
Latest Major Action: 5/31/2012 Failed of passage/not agreed to in House. Status: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 246 – 168 (Roll no. 299).

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H.R.3802 : National Pro-Life Waiting Period Act of 2012
Sponsor: Rep Duncan, Jeff [SC-3] (introduced 1/23/2012) Cosponsors (8)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 1/23/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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H.R.3803 : District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Sponsor: Rep Franks, Trent [AZ-2] (introduced 1/23/2012) Cosponsors (222)
Committees: House Judiciary; House Oversight and Government Reform
House Reports: 112-640 Part 1
Latest Major Action: 7/31/2012 Failed of passage/not agreed to in House. Status: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 220 – 154, 2 Present (Roll no. 539).

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H.R.3805 : Ultrasound Informed Consent Act
Sponsor: Rep Jordan, Jim [OH-4] (introduced 1/23/2012) Cosponsors (66)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 1/23/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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H.R.4971 : SAFE Act
Sponsor: Rep Akin, W. Todd [MO-2] (introduced 4/27/2012) Cosponsors (70)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce
Latest Major Action: 4/27/2012 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

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H.R.5646 : Homeland Security Respect for Life Act
Sponsor: Rep Huizenga, Bill [MI-2] (introduced 5/8/2012) Cosponsors (32)
Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 5/18/2012 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

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H.R.5731 : Telemedicine Safety Act
Sponsor: Rep King, Steve [IA-5] (introduced 5/10/2012) Cosponsors (58)
Committees: House Judiciary; House Agriculture; House Energy and Commerce; House Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 6/4/2012 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

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H.R.6173 : PRO-LIFE Act
Sponsor: Rep Neugebauer, Randy [TX-19] (introduced 7/24/2012) Cosponsors (38)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 7/24/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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H.RES.237 : Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3) to prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Nugent, Richard [FL-5] (introduced 5/2/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Rules
House Reports: 112-71
Latest Major Action: 5/4/2011 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 243 – 177 (Roll no. 286).
Latest Action: 5/4/2011 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

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H.RES.430 : Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 358) to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to modify special rules relating to coverage of abortion services under such Act.
Sponsor: Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] (introduced 10/12/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Rules
House Reports: 112-243
Latest Major Action: 10/13/2011 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 248 – 173 (Roll no. 786).
Latest Action: 10/13/2011 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

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H.AMDT.298 to H.R.1216 Amendment prohibits the use of funds in the bill to pay for elective abortions or to be given to organizations that discriminate against pro-life health care providers.
Sponsor: Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] (introduced 5/24/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 5/25/2011 House amendment agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Foxx amendment (A003) Agreed to by recorded vote: 234 – 182 (Roll no. 338).

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S.91 : Life at Conception Act
Sponsor: Sen Wicker, Roger F. [MS] (introduced 1/25/2011) Cosponsors (19)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 1/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.96 : Title X Family Planning Act
Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 1/25/2011) Cosponsors (6)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 1/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.121 : Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act
Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 1/25/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 1/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.165 : Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2011
Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 1/25/2011) Cosponsors (12)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 1/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.314 : Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2011
Sponsor: Sen Johanns, Mike [NE] (introduced 2/10/2011) Cosponsors (18)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 2/10/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.877 : Protect Life Act
Sponsor: Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] (introduced 5/4/2011) Cosponsors (34)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 5/4/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.906 : No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Sponsor: Sen Wicker, Roger F. [MS] (introduced 5/5/2011) Cosponsors (36)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 5/5/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

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S.1005 : Parental Notification and Intervention Act of 2011
Sponsor: Sen Boozman, John [AR] (introduced 5/16/2011) Cosponsors (6)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 5/16/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1241 : Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
Sponsor: Sen Rubio, Marco [FL] (introduced 6/21/2011) Cosponsors (32)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 6/21/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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S.1484 : Hyde and Related Amendments Codification Act
Sponsor: Sen Nelson, E. Benjamin [NE] (introduced 8/2/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 8/2/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1488 : Hyde Amendment Codification Act
Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 8/2/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 8/2/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.1489 : Health Care Provider and Hospital Conscience Protection Act
Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 8/2/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 8/2/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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S.2103 : District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Sponsor: Sen Lee, Mike [UT] (introduced 2/13/2012) Cosponsors (29)
Committees: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Latest Major Action: 3/13/2012 Referred to Senate subcommittee. Status: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs referred to Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.

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S.3290 : Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012
Sponsor: Sen Vitter, David [LA] (introduced 6/13/2012) Cosponsors (32)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 6/13/2012 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.


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About Michael Matheron

From Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, I was a senior legislative research and policy staff of the nonpartisan Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS). I'm partisan here, an "aggressive progressive." I'm a contributor to The Fold and Nation of Change. Welcome to They Will Say ANYTHING! Come back often! . . . . . Michael Matheron, contact me at mjmmoose@gmail.com