Sunday, March 4, 2012

Conservative Republicans Go Out of Their Way to Be Backward and Just Plain Ignorant. Why?

Santorum has been called one of the greatest minds of the 13th century.

On the subject of religion, more particularly religious freedom, the Republicans, from almost any intelligent perspective, seem to insist on having it backwards. We in the United States have felt that if there is anything at all to the idea that we are an "exceptional nation" it's because we have an exceptional history rooted in the very foundations of our country: we have the world's greatest document underpinning our creation, the U.S. Constitution.

Conservatives are famous for wanting to have it both ways: The ideal candidate to assume the office of Justice of the Supreme Court must be a Strict Constuctionist, by which is meant someone who does not swerve from the Constitution's original intent, in spite of all the intervening years. Yet in almost all the ways I've seen this demonstrated, conservatives actually mean that they want justices to violate the Constitution in very particulars ways, in ways that conform to what conservatives want.

Conservatives don't want the religious freedom granted by the First Amendment. No, they want to impose Christian dogma on the citizens of the United States. Pure and simple. If you doubt the veracity of this statement, here's a simple test: name a conservative that has sought to shape the laws of the U.S. to further the free and pure expression of a non-Christian religious dogma. Can't think of one, can you?

What religious freedom is Mitt Romney protecting by supporting the Blunt Amendment?

In the current controversy over the president's decision to make sure contraception is included, with no co-pay, in all employer insurance packages across the country, the conservatives and the religious-right constituency they're serving are ignoring exactly what it is Obama is basing his decision on. Here's what they're ignoring:
  • The first principle Obama is speaking to is prevention, which is at the heart of the ACA. Insurance companies readily admit that contraception is beyond cost-effective or fiscally neutral. It's actually a money saver because it reduces other required services to women that are more expensive, such as pregnancy, obstetric, neonatal and other types of care.
  • Conservatives, most notably Rush Limbaugh, have loudly, even disturbingly, taken offense at taxpayers having to foot the bill for women's contraception while ignoring the fact that, by and large, it isn't taxpayers who are picking up the tab. In fact it's not even the employers. It's the employees themselves whose benefits are considered part of their compensation packages. How or why this fact is ignored has been one of the great mysteries of this absurd debate.
  • Even in the case of religious institutions, where they are involved in their central religions functions, i.e. their churches and other bodies actively involved in the expression of their beliefs and dogma, they are exempt. It's only when they offer services to the public at large, such as health services, hospitals, and educational institutions where the employees and consumers are in no way limited to their congregations are they required to provide insurance packages that include women's reproductive services, with the proviso that insurance companies offer these services at no charge to the institutions themselves. How insulated do these institutions need to be from these services? There is no active participation at all, not even an actual passive role. The institution does nothing except not actively demand that non-members of their faith be subjected to what might be required of the faithful by its dogma.
 Here is Rush Limbaugh's wrong-headed, factually incorrect, mean-spirited response to Sandra Fluke's plea that contraceptive needs -- even among married law students -- can cost over $3000 during the course of law school and can bankrupt students already burdened with high tuition costs:


 One, "we" don't pay for it and neither does Georgetown. A student would pay for it through their tuition or fees, and an employee of Georgetown would pay for it as part of their compensation package. Benefits, healthcare-wise or not, are compensation as part of a salary or wage package. Second, and most laughably, when Limbaugh maintains "she having so much sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth-control pills she needs?" (A woman takes exactly the same number of pills a month, whether she has sex or not, duh!) What part of "Rush Limbaugh is an ignoramus or a zombie liar" don't conservatives understand when they listen to him?

This photo needs no caption.
In an interesting side note, Rush Limbaugh has been married four times and has no children. What's more, he was famously detained and searched at Palm Beach International Airport returning from the Dominican Republic and had a stash of Viagra confiscated after it was determined that the prescription was not in his name. A fan of Viagra, young wives, and a father of no children, Rush Limbaugh is also, obviously, an apparent fan of both sex and birth control. This, of course, would not make Limbaugh a hypocrite, right? Before you say, "But he pays for his," remember that no one is asking him to pay for anyone's birth control. He's making that shit up.

Apparently, though, a good zombie lie is irresistible. Bill O'Reilly enthusiastically piles on:


Did you spot the zombie lie? Of course you did.

Sean Hannity decided to make it a pundit zombie lie trifecta by weighing in:

 How many lies can Hannity string together in three minutes of airtime? Plenty. There it is, the myth that taxpayers (good, decent, hardworking carpenters, plumbers, etc.) are on the hook for the student health plan at a private university that the students pay for! That there is something wrong with students having contraception in their health plans because even though they're broke now and living on a tight budget, a day will come, as he says, when they will have finally paid off their student loans and will eventually make buckets of money as a Washington DC fat-cat lawyer and will be able to afford buckets of birth control at some eventual point in the future. Hannity, a man of incalculable vision and understanding of fundamentals of time and space: pay for your own birth control now because you'll eventually be able to afford it at some perceivable moment in the future.

And just for some irresistible fun, here's how Fox News unfurls its usual true colors on the issue:


Rick Santorum weighs in with a backhanded dismissal of Rush Limbaugh while surreptitiously supporting his point:


Mitt Romney deigns to speak:

The "not language I would have used" is a weasel tactic, implying that he would have used different language to make the same point. Coward.

Newt Gingrich avoided getting caught on video but used the opportunity to avoid criticizing Rush Limbaugh but instead turn the subject into an attack on Barack Obama:

After Limbaugh described Fluke as "slut" and "prostitute" for advocating for subsidizing birth control, Obama contacted Fluke personally. Numerous conservatives and other GOP presidential candidates have rebuked Limbaugh to varying degrees, but the former House speaker said he saw the issue much differently.
"I think the president will opportunistically do anything he can," Gingrich said in response to a reporter's question after a rally Saturday morning in Hamilton. "I think the most important use of language in the last week has been the president's apology to religious fanatics, and I want to stay focused on what the president has said, and I think what he said was inexcusable and is exactly the wrong policy at a time of life and death, and playing political games is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned."
Gingrich said the debate over requiring certain institutions to provide insurance coverage to cover contraception -- something that prompted Fluke's complaint involving Georgetown, a Jesuit-run institution -- should be over governmental interference in religion.
"It's not about contraception. It's about religious liberty," he said. "It's about the attack on the Catholic Church, and the attack on every right-to-life institution and whether or not the government has the power to dictate to religious organizations."
 Not about contraception, right. Then why is it about contraception? The Obama administration is not being attacked for forcing Catholics to ride tricycles.

Let's end this by remembering that this began because Darrell Issa wanted to have a committee hearing about contraception. Remember his panel of experts?

When Issa refused to allow Sandra Fluke a chance to testify at the same hearing, he made her a celebrity, for at least fifteen minutes. And he gave his fellow Republicans and their media minions a chance to make fools out of themselves. Let's see who's laughing in November.

Update. Rush Limbaugh, buffeted by serial pullouts by advertisers on his show, has apologized. He said, in part:
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
 For many this non-apology apology wasn't enough, as it was quite similar to Mitt Romney's weaselly reaction, in that it blamed the incident on "word choices." The sentiment clearly remains, and advertisers continue to pull ads.

As for Barack Obama, he called Sandra Fluke to personally offer his support.

We have a weird country.

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