Saturday, August 18, 2012

“My Fear is that Climate Change is the Biggest Crisis of All”: Naomi Klein Warns Global Warming Could Be Exploited by Capitalism and Militarism


This goes right along with all the other entries for climate change.

Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein has been reporting on global warming and the climate justice movement for years. “My fear is that climate change is the biggest crisis of all,” Klein says. “If we don’t come up with a positive vision of how climate change can make our economies and our world more just, more livable, cleaner, fairer, then this crisis will be exploited to militarize our economies, to create fortress continents. And we’re really facing a choice. What we really need now is for the people fighting for economic justice and environmental justice to come together.” [includes rush transcript]


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour is Naomi Klein, journalist and author. Her latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She’s writing a new book on climate change and the climate change deniers. Naomi, take it from there.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, I mean, the book is not about the deniers, but it does get into it, because I started trying to understand these dramatic drops in belief that climate change is real. I mean, we’ve just ended the hottest decade on record. There’s overwhelming evidence that climate change is real now. It’s not just about reading the science. It’s about people’s daily experience. And yet, we’ve seen this remarkable drop, where, in 2007, 71 — this is a Harris poll — 71 percent of Americans believed climate change was real, and two years later, 51 percent of Americans believed it. So, a 20 percent drop. And we’ve seen a similar dramatic just the floor falling out in the same period in Australia, in the U.K. It’s not happening everywhere. It’s happening in countries that have very polarized political debates, where they have very strong culture wars.
And there are some people who have been doing some really interesting analysis of these numbers, where you see — like there’s a political scientist named Clive Hamilton in Australia who’s done some really terrific writing on this, where what he shows is that climate change didn’t used to be a partisan political issue. You couldn’t — you wouldn’t know whether somebody believed in climate change or not just by asking if they were Republican or Democrat. That’s completely changed. Democrats overwhelmingly believe in climate change. That hasn’t — their position hasn’t changed. Republicans now don’t — overwhelmingly do not believe in climate change. So that drop has been split along partisan lines. Now, it seems kind of obvious that that would be the case, but still it’s remarkable, because what it means is that it no longer really has anything to do with the science. And the environmental movement has just been shocked by how it would be possible to lose so much ground so quickly when there is so much more scientific evidence, so that, you know, there’s all kinds of attempts to respond to this, to get climate scientists out there explaining things better, to popularize the science, and none of it seems to be working. And the reason is that climate change is now seen as an identity issue on the right. It’s — people are defining themselves, like they’re against abortion, they don’t believe in climate change. It’s part of who they are.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does it say, you don’t believe in climate change?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, some people believe in climate change, but the main thing is they don’t believe that humans have anything to do with climate change. And it isn’t about the science, because when you delve deeper into it and ask why people don’t believe in it, they say that it’s because they think it’s a socialist plot to redistribute wealth. And a lot of — it’s easy to make fun of, you know, and there’s all this language, like "watermelons," that they say, you know, the green groups are watermelons: they’re green on the outside, but they’re red on the inside. Or George Will once said it’s a green tree with red roots. And the idea is that it’s some sort of a communist plot. And this is, as I was saying earlier, actually not at all true. And in fact, most of the big green groups are loath to talk about economics and often don’t want to see themselves as being part of a left at all, see climate change as an issue that transcends politics entirely.
But something very different is going on on the right, and I think we need to understand what that is. Why is climate change seen as such a threat? I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable fear. I think it is — it’s unreasonable to believe that scientists are making up the science. They’re not. It’s not a hoax. But actually, climate change really is a profound threat to a great many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. So, in fact, if you really wrestle with the implications of the science and what real climate action would mean, here’s just a few examples what it would mean.
Well, it would mean upending the whole free trade agenda, because it would mean that we would have to localize our economies, because we have the most energy-inefficient trade system that you could imagine. And this is the legacy of the free trade era. So, this has been a signature policy of the right, pushing globalization and free trade. That would have to be reversed.
You would have to deal with inequality. You would have to redistribute wealth, because this is a crisis that was created in the North, and the effects are being felt in the South. So, on the most basic, basic, "you broke it, you bought it," polluter pays, you would have to redistribute wealth, which is also against their ideology.
You would have to regulate corporations. You simply would have to. I mean, any serious climate action has to intervene in the economy. You would have to subsidize renewable energy, which also breaks their worldview.
You would have to have a really strong United Nations, because individual countries can’t do this alone. You absolutely have to have a strong international architecture.
So when you go through this, you see, it challenges everything that they believe in. So they’re choosing to disbelieve it, because it’s easier to deny the science than to say, "OK, I accept that my whole worldview is going to fall apart," that we have to have massive investments in public infrastructure, that we have to reverse free trade deals, that we have to have huge transfers of wealth from the North to the South. Imagine actually contending with that. It’s a lot easier to deny it.
But what I see is that the green groups, a lot of the big green groups, are also in a kind of denial, because they want to pretend that this isn’t about politics and economics, and say, "Well, you can just change your light bulb. And no, it won’t really disrupt. You can have green capitalism." And they’re not really wrestling with the fact that this is about economic growth. This is about an economic model that needs constant and infinite growth on a finite planet. So we really are talking about some deep transformations of our economy if we’re going to deal with climate change. And we need to talk about it.
AMY GOODMAN: And the reason that we have to go through those deep transformations? What is the threat of climate change? What is happening today?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, it’s — we’re already seeing it on so many levels. I was just at the World Social Forum in Dakar.
AMY GOODMAN: In Senegal.
NAOMI KLEIN: In Senegal. And it’s — you know, climate change is still spoken of here as something, you know, that if you care about your grandchildren, you care about climate change. That is not the way climate change is being spoken of in Africa. This is a now issue. This is the desertification — rivers are drying up — water shortages, food shortages.
And then, layered on top of that is the fact that many of the "solutions" to climate change — and I put "solutions" in quote — that have been championed by an agenda that accepts the premise that we can’t really ask North Americans, Europeans, to really sacrifice, really change their way of life, our way of life. We can’t be talking about really drastically cutting our emissions here and now. So we have to play shell games, right? We have to have carbon offsets there. We have to — we can keep polluting, but we’ll plant — you know, we’ll protect a forest in the Congo, or we will have huge agrifuel crops in Africa. And so, all of these solutions are actually deepening the climate crisis in Africa, because people are being displaced from their land, not just because of climate, but because of the solutions to climate change, because they’re losing access to forests, which are used for subsistence agriculture, they’re losing access to land that had been farmed for food and is now being farmed for fuel. And so, the theme of —- the sort of unofficial theme of the World Social Forum, it came up in many of the seminars -—
AMY GOODMAN: And this is a gathering of thousands of people —
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, 40,000 people.
AMY GOODMAN: — that sort of moves each year, and this year it was in Senegal.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, this year it was in Senegal. And it was global, it was international, but most of the people were from across Africa. And the theme that came up again and again was "the new scramble for Africa, the new scramble for Africa." And this, a lot of it, had to do with these so-called "solutions" to climate change — the agrifuels, the REDD — I mean, not to get too technical, but you’ve talked about this on the show, which is the forest protection plan, the U.N. forest protection plan, which is very controversial in Africa, because people — like I said, people are losing access to forests, which they are using for subsistence, and also because it’s not — forests are being protected instead of cutting emissions in the North. And that’s not seen as a solution to climate change in Africa, because it doesn’t get at the core of the issue.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you have climate change. We also have the issue of the incredible environmental disaster that was BP.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: You just wrote a piece in The Nation, "The Search for BP’s Oil."
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, this is related, in that we often hear, "Well, we’re not doing anything about climate change. It’s just business as usual." But it’s not true that it’s just business as usual, because we are now in the era of extreme energy. The easy-to-get fossil fuels have pretty much been gotten, and now it’s the harder-to-get stuff, the more-expensive-to-get stuff and the riskier stuff. And that means deepwater drilling, which puts whole ecologies at risk, as we’ve seen on the Gulf Coast. And it means the tar sands in Canada. There’s a proposal to have a tar sands project in Utah. It means fracking for natural gas, and you’ve covered that a lot on the show. I mean, these are methods that are a lot riskier, and it’s affecting many, many more people. And so, I think we need to get away from this idea that we’re just going on as we’ve always gone on. No, we aren’t. If we don’t get off fossil fuels, we are accepting a much, much higher-risk energy trajectory.
And we need to really be aware of this, because with the oil prices increasing, now we’re already starting to get the "drill here, drill now" chorus reemerging, the energy security line that, you know, the real problem is the dependence on fossil fuels — not the dependence on fossil fuels, period — that’s the real problem — but the dependence on foreign fossil fuels. And now this oil shock, the shocking oil prices are being used to push more aggressively for opening up Anwar, for more offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. And if we’re not careful, this crisis will be used to push for some disastrous resource policies.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the trip that you took in the Gulf, and talk about how everything from Exxon Valdez to the spill, as we begin to wrap up, how to understand the effects of this, what you call "extreme drilling" in search for fuel.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I went on a boat — I think you have some footage of it — with a team from the University of South Florida. The chief scientist was David Hollander, who’s been one of the most outspoken scientists claiming — challenging claims, really from day one, that were coming from BP and federal agencies, originally saying, "Oh, there are no — there are no underwater plumes." They found one of the underwater plumes, along with Samantha Joye — her team also found one — and at every stage, you know, challenging the claims about how much oil was coming out of the well, and now challenging the claim that the oil has magically disappeared.
And that’s why I went out with David Hollander and his team searching for BP’s oil, because I think a lot of people have heard this message that, yeah, Mother Nature took care of it, you know, just like we heard in the early days of the spill: you know, the ocean is big, and the amount of oil is relatively small. And this is a really, really dangerous message, because we can’t see it anymore. And this is one of the advantages of using huge amounts of dispersant, is it disappears the crime scene. But so, I wanted to see it for myself.
And you can see the equipment that they’re using goes to the bottom of the ocean and extracts cores from the sediment. And what they found again and again around the well site is that there is a very thick layer of — not pure oil. It’s eroded. It’s mixed in with sand, and it’s mixed in with dead crustaceans. But there’s definitely oil covering a very large area. And the other thing that Dr. Hollander found, because he’s been going back every few months, is that that layer is getting thicker.
And we really don’t know what this is going to mean to the ecology, because — this is one of the things I was really struck by, working with these scientists, is that — even the most expert of the bunch, this is still a mystery to them. The deep ocean is so under-studied. They don’t have baselines to compare the areas that they’re studying to, because so little research was done about the deep ocean, in the deep ocean, before the spill. So, even to assess the damage is extremely difficult.
The other thing that they’re very worried about — and you asked about the Valdez disaster — is that it’s really far too early for anybody to be giving the Gulf a clean bill of health, because the really, really worrisome event that happened —- and here, I’m only talking about the ecology; I’m not talking about the other huge issue, which is the effects of the dispersants on people. And other people have done fantastic reporting on that. I was just out with a research team in the ocean, so we were looking at microorganisms and -—
AMY GOODMAN: Phytoplankton.
NAOMI KLEIN: Exactly. But the point of studying the effect of the oil on these microorganisms is that when — before the oil sunk to the bottom, before some of it evaporated, before it was skimmed, there was a great deal of oil and dispersants in plumes in the open ocean. These are — the key months were April, June — yeah, and this is spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico. And there were microorganisms, there were larvae, there was zooplankton that would grow up to be commercial fishing stocks, just floating in the open ocean in the same vicinity as the plumes, as the toxic oil and dispersants. And we won’t know what effect that had, those encounters of these very, very vulnerable microorganisms and the oil and dispersants. We won’t know that for years, because that’s what happened — that’s what we learned from the Valdez spill.
AMY GOODMAN: We only have 30 seconds. You published Shock Doctrine in 2007. So much of what you’ve predicted has come to pass. Final words?
NAOMI KLEIN: Look, my fear is that climate change is the crisis, the biggest crisis of all, and that if we aren’t careful, if we don’t come up with a positive vision of how climate change can make our economies and our world more just, more livable, cleaner, fairer, then this crisis will be exploited to militarize our societies, to create fortress continents. And we’re really facing a choice. And, you know, I think what we really need now is for the people fighting for economic justice and environmental justice to come together.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, I want to thank you for being with us. Her book,The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She’s writing a new one.

Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy on the Escalating Talk of a Military Attack on Iran


Could Israel launch an attack on Iran before the U.S. election in November? On Friday, Israel’s largest-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, published an article suggesting an Israeli attack could be imminent. The article reported: "Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November." To discuss the situation in Israel and the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran, we’re joined by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a columnist at the Haaretz newspaper. [includes rush transcript]


NERMEEN SHAIKH: A top Iranian general accused Israel Tuesday of waging "psychological war" against Iran. General Ahmad Vahidi warned that Israel is moving toward destruction of its, quote, "war machine" through its, quote, "warmongering" remarks.
The general’s message comes at a time when talk of a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities grows louder in Israel. On Friday, Israel’s biggest-selling daily,Yedioth Ahronoth, published an article suggesting an Israeli attack could be imminent. The article reported, quote, "Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November."
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed Avraham Dichter to become Israel’s new home front defense minister.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] I decided today to appoint lawmaker Avi Dichter as civil defense minister. He has served in the past as internal security minister. He was also head of the Shin Bet. I remember him 40 years ago when we served together in Sayeret Matkal, Israeli commando unit. He has a lot to his credit, and he will now have an important assignment, to assist in what he has been involved in all his life: contributing to state security.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Some have suggested Avi Dichter’s appointment is intended to bolster support in the cabinet for a unilateral Israeli strike. But earlier this year, in an article posted on the Israel National News website, Dichter opposed such action. He wrote, quote, "Israel is not a superpower. We cannot lead the world offensive against Iran. We have to participate, we have to give all kinds of information and intelligence that we have. We need to prepare, just in case nobody plans to do anything, but to lead it will be a total mistake by the State of Israel." On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressed the increasing talk of a possible Israeli attack on Iran.
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: I don’t believe they made a decision as to whether or not they will—they will go in and attack Iran at this time. Obviously they’re an independent, they’re a sovereign country. They’ll ultimately make decisions based on what they think is in their national security interest. But I don’t believe they made that decision at this time. The reality is that we still think there is room to continue to negotiate. We’re just—these sanctions—the additional sanctions have been put in place. They’re beginning to have an additional impact on top of the other sanctions that have been placed there.
AMY GOODMAN: Leon Panetta, defense secretary, speaking Tuesday. Meanwhile, Martin Dempsey, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Israel could not successfully carry out such an attack on its own.
MARTIN DEMPSEY: What I’m telling you is based on what I know of their capabilities, and I may not know about all their capabilities, but I think that it’s a fair characterization to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
AMY GOODMAN: To find out more about the situation in Israel and the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran, we’re going to go first to Tel Aviv to speak with longtime Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, columnist at the Haaretz newspaper, member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He is the author of The Punishment of Gaza.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Gideon. Is this different from other times? Are you sensing a serious escalation?
GIDEON LEVY: Absolutely. I mean, the Israeli escalation rhetorics might be followed with actions. I must tell you that nobody, but really nobody, knows the truth. But, you know, also the rhetoric has its own dynamics, and things can go out of control, and things can deteriorate. And I can tell you that here in Tel Aviv, more and more people start to be really, really worried, in terms of the coming weeks, not in terms of the coming months. It seems very, very dangerous.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Gideon Levy, could you explain why it’s the case that the rhetoric is increasing at the pace it is now?
GIDEON LEVY: Look, it’s very hard to follow the rationale of the whole thing, because those threats coming from Israel had—in a certain stage, had a goal mainly to push the United States and the world to do something about Iran. But Iran is on the international agenda. It is on the table. Israel had achieved this goal. And still the rhetoric continues. And as it continues and becomes, from day to day—but really from day to day—more sharp and more threatening, I tend to believe that this might lead to an operation which might be a very, very dangerous situation for the entire region.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the response to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney coming to Israel and the significance of his comments, what you understood he was saying, if he was president? He had boasted that he and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, had worked at Boston [Consulting Group] together many years ago and knew each other. It seemed that Netanyahu somewhat distanced himself from him. But can you talk about what Mitt Romney actually said, talking about—and I want to just play a clip of Mitt Romney saying the U.S. would stand by its ally in a standoff with Iran.
MITT ROMNEY: We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with you.
AMY GOODMAN: Gideon Levy, your response?
GIDEON LEVY: Yeah, Romney, first of all, was welcome here in Israel as he was not welcome in any other place. And it’s very obvious that the present government in Israel, mainly the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is really willing to see Romney in the White House. But I must say that Romney was quite cautious, at least at his public expressions. And practically, if you analyze what he said, he didn’t say anything that President Obama didn’t say. Those vague promises you can hear from both candidates, from the president and from Romney. And, you know, where you stand depends on where you sit, and I’m not so sure that candidate Romney will react in the same way like a possible President Romney. I wouldn’t take it too seriously, because if he will get into the White House, which we—personally, I hope that he will not—but if he will step in, he will also have some other considerations rather than the elections. So, I wouldn’t be sure that Romney will be a guarantee for an America or Israeli attack, either.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So how relevant do you think it is, Gideon Levy, that all of this debate is taking place just months before the elections here?
GIDEON LEVY: It seems that—at least it seems that Israel is at least trying to ignore the elections and maybe to do something before the elections. At least that’s the atmosphere, that Israel is not going to wait until the elections. It is very hard to explain. It is very hard to understand how can an Israel prime minister dare to do something in such a sensitive time. But, you know, I—well, not always Israel is very rational or very easy to explain. I hope that it’s all rhetorics. But it starts to be really suspicious because it can be that such rhetorics will end up with nothing. It’s just impossible.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Gideon Levy, before we conclude, is it the case that it’s been reported that a majority of Israelis are opposed to any Israeli action against Iran at the moment?
GIDEON LEVY: No, it changes. The public opinion here is quite brainwashed, like in any other place, and things start changing. It depends how you ask it. There was another poll which showed that, I think, 47 percent of the Israelis are already in favor of an preparation, that over 50 percent believe that if Iran will have nuclear weapons, this means a second Holocaust for Israel. I mean, I wouldn’t go for this, because there is so much information, misinformation in the media that people are really confused and people can be shaken very, very easily. The matter of fact is that almost the entire military and defense establishment of Israel, the present one and the former one, is united in opposing an attack in this time. But still, the decision makers—mainly two, the prime minister and the defense minister, Barak—seem to be very, very devoted to do something.
AMY GOODMAN: Gideon Levy, I want to thank you very much for being with us,Haaretz columnist, member of the newspaper’s editorial board, author of The Punishment of Gaza, joining us on the phone from Tel Aviv. When we come back, we’ll speak with two people here in Washington, D.C., both about what the U.S. is doing in this escalating tension and also about Iranians’ deep concern about how to help their family members in Iran, how to send back money in the wake of two earthquakes. Stay with us.

The Paul Ryan Vision of America: Ban Abortion, Defund Contraception, Outlaw In Vitro Fertilization


We look at Mitt Romney’s newly announced vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan’s record on women’s reproductive rights. Ryan opposes abortion in all situations, including cases of rape and incest, and opposes abortion in cases that endanger an expectant mother’s health. Planned Parenthood has also criticized his endorsement of a so-called "Personhood Amendment," which supports defining a fertilized egg as a human being. Ryan was a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which even the conservative state of Mississippi rejected last November, and is in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. Ryan wants to dismantle Medicaid and repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act. "For Congressman Ryan to think he’s the one that should be making the decision to take healthcare options away from women, that’s very troubling to us," says our guest Nicole Safar, public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. [includes rush transcript]


AMY GOODMAN: We continue our coverage of Mitt Romney’s newly announced vice-presidential running mate, Congressmember Paul Ryan. Falling on the far-right spectrum of his own Republican Party, Ryan opposes abortion in all situations, including cases of rape and incest. He also opposes abortion in cases that endanger an expectant mother’s health. Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said, quote, "Ryan has been a wonderful friend to our organization and our great cause in defense of human life throughout his brilliant tenure as a public official."
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is criticizing Ryan on not only his extreme stance on abortion but also his endorsement of a so-called "Personhood Amendment," which supports defining a fertilized egg as a human being. Ryan was a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which even the conservative state of Mississippi rejected last November. The consequences of such an amendment passing are unclear, but many infer it would make infertility treatments and birth control possibly illegal and would all but certainly equate abortion with homicide. Supporters of the measure hope to use it to mount a legal attack on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the right to abortion. Congressmember Ryan is also in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, dismantling Medicaid, repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act, as is of course Mitt Romney.
For more, we go now to Madison, Wisconsin, where we’re joined by Nicole Safar. She’s the public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.
Nicole, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about Paul Ryan. In your state, in Wisconsin, what has been his record on women’s reproductive rights?
NICOLE SAFAR: Well, thanks so much, Amy, for giving us this opportunity to really share with the rest of the country and the rest of the world a little bit about what we know about Congressman Paul Ryan. He has certainly shown himself to be one of the most extreme members of the Republican Party on women’s health. I think you outlined it very well. He is—he wants to make abortion illegal in all cases. He has signed onto the personhood bill, which we’re very concerned will have implications for in vitro fertilization, for different kinds of birth control. It’s just a very extreme measure that has been defeated in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the country. And this is something that Congressman Ryan thinks is good public policy for the country. So, that’s troubling right there. And, of course, you know, he—
AMY GOODMAN: Nicole, before we go on—
NICOLE SAFAR: Oh, go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this issue of opposing abortion in all cases. Explain exactly what that means.
NICOLE SAFAR: So, that means that abortion becomes illegal, it becomes a crime, and there aren’t places where women can get safe and legal abortion procedures. And that means if you are a victim of rape or incest, you don’t have access to this. If you have health concerns—it really is putting, you know, women’s health in a very dangerous position. Pregnancy can be a very wonderful time for women, but it also can be a very scary and trying time on women’s health. And for them to—for Congressman Ryan to think he’s the one that should be making the decision to take healthcare options away from women, that’s very troubling to us.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this year, Congressman Ryan told David Gregory onMeet the Press that he wasn’t concerned about Republicans overplaying their hand on the issue of contraception and women’s health. He suggested the government requiring employers to pay for birth control would violate people’s freedom of religion. I want to go to that clip.
REPPAUL RYAN: What we’re getting from the White House with this conscience issue, it’s not an issue about contraception. It’s an issue that reveals a political philosophy that the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they’re revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights by our creator. And so what I would simply say is, we’re seeing this new government activism, sort of a paternalistic, arrogant political philosophy that puts new government-granted rights in the way of our constitutional rights. And so, what I think it really is, is it’s an argument for freedom, for our founding principles, and for protecting those constitutional rights, which right now with this new mandate from HHS, like I said, it’s really not about contraception, it’s about violating our First Amendment rights to religious freedom and of conscience.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Paul Ryan earlier this year. Nicole Safar, your response?
NICOLE SAFAR: Right. I mean, it’s a really interesting philosophy of government, isn’t it? I think that we—it is so out of touch with what we see on the ground every day, with what women know every day to be the real issue. And it is about getting access to birth control. It really is. Women struggle every day to get access to basic healthcare, healthcare like what we provide at Planned Parenthood. And the Affordable Care Act has removed so many barriers for women when it comes to this basic preventative healthcare, like well woman exams and birth control. I think that, you know, Congressman Ryan frames it in this very unique way because he knows that it’s so out of touch. He knows that his position is so out of touch from what the women across this country really understand.
AMY GOODMAN: This is an ad approved by the Obama administration that features a series of women talking about Romney’s plans to defund Planned Parenthood.
DAWN: I think Mitt Romney is really out of touch with the average woman’s health issues.
ALICE: This is not the 1950s. Contraception is so important to women. It’s about a woman being able to make decisions.
DAWN: I don’t remember anyone as extreme as Romney.
MITT ROMNEY: I’ll cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
ALICE: I don’t think Mitt Romney can even understand the mindset of someone who has to go to Planned Parenthood.
MITT ROMNEY: Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the ad against Mitt Romney that was approved by the Obama campaign. Interestingly, Mitt Romney once supported Planned Parenthood, as his wife Ann did, as his mother did, but now says he is opposed. But you have Congressmember Ryan, who has been opposed throughout his career.
AMY GOODMAN: And also, interestingly, Obama, just before this announcement, had this big event in Colorado, where he was introduced by Sandra Fluke, who was the young law student at Georgetown who became the target of Rush Limbaugh’s ire as she tried to speak before Congress on the importance of contraception being funded in college clinics. Nicole?
NICOLE SAFAR: Right. I mean, I think you see a very different vision for women’s role in society, women’s role in our country, when you look at President Obama and everything that he has done to help women get access to better healthcare, to, you know, more affordable healthcare, and when you look at Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan and their ideas, which are very, you know, a hundred years ago. This is not the future that women see for themselves in America. And I think it is a
very stark choice between the two sides.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk more about what is called the Sanctity of Human Life Act, what others call the "Personhood Amendment," what exactly it means, saying a "fertilized egg shall have all" — this is in quotes — "shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood"?
NICOLE SAFAR: Right. Well, I mean, I think, again, the first thing that it does is it makes all abortion in this country illegal, so that means women don’t have the option. Even if a woman will die, even if her health is deeply at risk, she no longer will be able to get the medical care she needs to protect herself. It is—it’s consequences on hormonal birth control and the implanted and IUD birth control, we don’t know. We don’t know how the courts would read it to affect some of those basic prevention methods. And then in vitro fertilization, you know, that’s a whole—a whole ’nother area where women and families are trying to have children and are trying to have healthy pregnancies, and here is the government saying, "Oh, no, I think we know better than you do when it comes to you and your family."
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Nicole, talk about what happened in Wisconsin in April, the bombing of the clinic in Wisconsin.
NICOLE SAFAR: We did have an act of violence directed at one of our health centers this spring. And, you know, it kind of brings to light the really—the reality of the environment that women have to sometimes go through to get access to basic healthcare. It shouldn’t be this way. Women’s health should not be politicized. We shouldn’t have to be—it shouldn’t be used as a political football, really, when, you know, Republicans are trying to stir up their base. And that’s exactly—probably the only time we’ll see Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney talk about these issues, is when they are in a crowd of conservative followers. We won’t see them talk about their opposition to birth control and abortion when they’re in the mainstream media. And I think that’s why it’s really important for us to talk about these issues and really lift them up so everyone knows exactly what you’re getting into with a Romney-Ryan vision for America.
AMY GOODMAN: Nicole Safar, I want to thank you for being with us, public policy director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, speaking to us from Madison.

Judge Upholds Penn. Voter ID Law; GOP Admits Law Designed to "Allow" Mitt Romney to "Win the State"

On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania judge upheld a controversial voter ID law that critics say could disqualify hundreds of thousands of voters. Republican lawmakers have openly admitted the law was designed to impact the result of the November election. In June, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai listed off a number of legislative accomplishments. "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done," Turzai said. Meanwhile, Florida, New Mexico and other states are being accused of purging voters ahead of the election. "Whenever states determine that they want to purge their rolls or clean up their rolls, it takes time. It has to be done efficiently and effectively. And waiting to do so so very close up to an election always raises concerns about why a state is doing it so close to an election," said Nicole Austin-Hillery of the Brennan Center for Justice. "We’re always concerned about errors and the fact that innocent people, individuals who are indeed eligible registered voters, we’re always worried about whether those people may be erroneously kicked off the rolls." [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to our next segment. It’s the issue of voting rights in Pennsylvania. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, with the presidential election less than three months away, voting rights issues are heating up in numerous battleground states. On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania judge upheld a controversial voter ID law that critics say could disqualify hundreds of thousands of voters. The measure requires voters to produce will benefit Republicans this November. The measure requires voters to produce photo ID before they can cast ballots. Opponents of the law had sought to delay its implementation until after the November 6 elections. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they will appeal to the state Supreme Court. But Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a Republican, praised the judge’s decision, saying it confirmed the integrity of each and every valid vote. Earlier this year, Turzai predicted the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state.
STATE REPMIKE TURZAI: Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In his ruling, presiding Judge Robert Simpson wrote that the law, quote, "does not expressly disenfranchise or burden any qualified elector or group of electors. The statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be."
But critics of the law say it will suppress voter turnout among people of color, the poor and elderly, who may lack the proper ID and find it harder to obtain one. A new analysis by News 21 shows that the rate of voter fraud is infinitesimal and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day is virtually nonexistent.
AMY GOODMAN: For more on voting rights, we go to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Washington office of the Brennan Center for Justice.
Nicole Austin-Hillery, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the significance of this ruling in Pennsylvania.
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: Amy, thank you so much for having me on.
This ruling is quite significant, because here we have a court that has said that despite the fact that the state government stipulated that they have no evidence of in-person voter fraud ever having occurred in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this court still says that it believes that it is OK for the state to implement a measure that is meant to protect the state against voter fraud, that the state has already admitted is simply nonexistent. And what we think this does is it sends a terrible message. It basically ensures that many voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will have a very difficult, if not to impossible, time voting when we approach the November election this year.
There are numerous people in Pennsylvania—and the Brennan Center did a report on this that was just released a few weeks ago about the difficulty of obtaining voter identification. There are hundreds of thousands of individuals in Pennsylvania, and the state has admitted to this, that simply don’t have the proper ID that, under the state’s new laws, are required in order to cast a vote in November. Even though the state has implemented measures that they say will ensure that every citizen, if they don’t have the requisite ID, can get it, we know that when changes are made so close to an election, when an entirely new system is put in place, that it is going to be difficult for each and every voter to be given that proper ID. And for many of those individuals who don’t get it who run into problems, they’re simply going to have a difficult time casting their ballot come November.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Nicole Austin-Hillery, the situation in Ohio, as well, could you talk about latest developments there, one of 13 states that have either tried to restrict or, in one way or other, put in new restrictions on voting?
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: Certainly. And as you’ve already said, there has been a history of a lot of different things going on in Ohio, from ballot initiatives to attempts by the state legislature to pass laws that have the effect of prohibiting certain voters or making it harder for certain voters to cast their vote.
Most recently, this week, the secretary of state, Secretary Husted, in Ohio had made a determination regarding early voting hours. What he had determined was that there would be varying hours for early voting across the state. When you take a close look at the jurisdictions in Ohio, what he was basically determining was that jurisdictions that tended to have majority white populations and where the majority of voters were registered Republican, their hours were going to be extended. They were going to have, rather, the longest opportunity for—to cast their early votes. However, when you look at jurisdictions that had a large minority population and where there was a large percentage of individuals who were registered Democrats, he had applied a different rule, and the early voting hours in those jurisdictions were going to be shorter. Well, of course, there was an outcry from many people, citizens in Ohio, as well as progressive organizations that simply want to ensure that there’s uniformity in terms of early voting hours. As a result, Mr. Husted yesterday made the determination that there would be uniformity now in terms of the early voting hours and that it would be the same in every jurisdiction in Ohio.
Unfortunately, even in making that decision to ensure uniformity, what he did not do is ensure that there would be early voting hours on the weekends. And what many studies have shown, what some of the work the Brennan Center has done has shown, is that minority populations often take advantage of early voting hours on weekends. For instance, a lot of the African-American congregations throughout the country have actually had organized efforts to ensure that their congregants get to the polls to take advantage of early voting hours, particularly on Sunday after church. So, in effect, if Ohio is no longer offering that option of voting on Sunday, for instance, that means that efforts like that will be curtailed—
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: —and that—yes, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Nicole, I wanted to play a recent comment by the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted about the controversy over the voting hours. He was on the right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham’s radio show show last week.
SECRETARY OF STATE JON HUSTED: I don’t think the bar is too high there for anybody who really cares about the future of our country and wants to have their voice heard by voting. We try to make it easy, but we can’t—you know, I say we’re not 7-Eleven. We can’t stay open 24-seven and let anybody vote by any rule that they want to.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Ohio’s secretary of state. Nicole Austin-Hillery?
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: Amy, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear your question.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to what he said: we’re not, you know, 7-Eleven here, staying open 24 hours a day.
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: You know, Amy, no one is asking that the secretary of state ensure that their polls stay open throughout the night and all day. What organizations, like ours, that want to ensure democracy for everyone in this country, organizations that want to ensure that all Americans are not prohibited or inhibited from casting their ballots, what we want is for states to ensure that people have fair and equal opportunity to get access to the ballot box. Again, what we’ve seen in this country is that, with the creation of early voting, many Americans who may have had difficulty casting their votes on the designated Tuesday have more of an opportunity to get to the polls. We know that there are many people who have difficulties on the designated Tuesday of an election day. There are poor and working people who simply can’t take off work, people who can’t afford to stand in long lines for hours. We saw, in the last presidential election, there were many jurisdictions where people were standing in line for hours. People—lines were wrapped around buildings. Many people were able to stand in those lines, but there were many people who weren’t, individuals who simply did not have that kind of flexibility with respect to jobs, family care and other responsibilities. So we know that early vote—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, if I can—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —about another important swing state, Florida. Earlier this year, the Justice Department ordered Florida to end a controversial voter purge that has primarily targeted Latino, Democratic and independent-minded voters. Now Florida’s voter purge will move ahead, after the federal government finalized an agreement to allow the state to access records that could detect non-citizens on the voting rolls. I want to turn to a clip of Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida on Fox News defending the voter purge.
GOVRICK SCOTT: I want fair, honest elections. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t.
GREGG JARRETT: Holder says you’re suppressing votes.
GOVRICK SCOTT: No. I mean, I want people to vote, register to vote, but U.S. citizens.
GREGG JARRETT: Yeah, but he says you’re suppressing Democrat votes.
GOVRICK SCOTT: No, I want everybody to vote that wants to vote, but only U.S. citizens.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Nicole Austin-Hillery, your response?
NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY: Sure. We, too, at the Brennan Center, want to ensure that the people who cast ballots are indeed people who under our laws are to—are the people who should be casting ballots—citizens, people who are registered properly. That’s what we all want. We want this to be a fair system.
The problem in Florida is this. Florida has waited until very, very close to the election, number one, to decide that they wanted to do a purge of their voting rolls. Under the National Voter Registration Act, jurisdictions are supposed to make changes such as that no sooner than 90 days before an election. Florida decided to make these changes within 90 days of their primary. So that was a concern, that there simply wasn’t enough time to do an accurate review of these rolls. We think that if Florida was truly concerned about cleaning up their rolls, this would have been activity that they would have undertaken far sooner, during a time when they would have actually had time to go through the rolls to deal with any issues and errors, and it wouldn’t have come up at a time when it would have caused a lot of confusion and intimidation for voters. That’s number one.
Number two, the Department of Homeland Security has already agreed to provide the state of Florida with a database that Florida has requested that would enable them to verify the rolls of citizens and to ensure that they are removing the people who aren’t citizens from their rolls. Right now, Florida and the Department of Homeland Security are working to reach a memorandum of agreement or a memorandum of understanding, if you will, that would enable Florida to use that database. Those negotiations are still underway. So we will see what happens, if that will happen in a timely manner.
But the main point is that whenever states determine that they want to purge their rolls or clean up their rolls, it takes time. It has to be done efficiently and effectively. And waiting to do so so very close to an election always raises concerns about why a state is doing it so close to an election. And we’re always concerned about errors and the fact that innocent people, individuals who are indeed eligible registered voters, we’re always worried about whether those people may be erroneously kicked off the rolls.
AMY GOODMAN: Nicole Austin-Hillery, I want to thank you so much for being with us, director and counsel of the Washington office of the Brennan Center for Justice. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.