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Posts Tagged ‘John Boehner’

Okay, mainstream media, I’ve had it. You have frightening power to shape public opinion and, by extension, national politics. You are owned by a diminishing handful of corporations and serve their agendas and their shareholders above all else. And, to be sure, we’re seeing how well that’s working out via the Murdoch debacle. You can take us in and out of wars, recessions, scares, and all manner of crises, real and manufactured.

And most of us aren’t even half-listening. We hear you on the fly, going from room to room, channel-surfing, in-between work (provided we have jobs), school (provided we can afford it), family, sports, reality TV and just getting through the day. So much of your message is received uncritically, taken at face value. You know that—and you exploit it to create whatever “truth” you choose to market for that particular day.

And yet, despite the corrupting profit motive, there are many, many journalists in your employ who are attempting to do the right thing. And it is to those ink-stained wretches, et. al., that I make this plea.

STOP WITH THE FALSE EQUIVALENCIES, ALREADY. THE RIGHT WING NUT JOBS ARE EXACTLY THAT—RIGHT WING NUT JOBS.

Throughout the manufactured-by-the-Right debt ceiling crisis you are continuing to perpetuate the myth that “both sides are equally at fault” and that “the intransigent extremes on both ends of the spectrum” may sabotage any deal, the full faith and credit of blah, blah, blah etc, etc.  Just as with the issue of hate speech and any number of other issues, you fall back on the “everybody’s equally guilty” fantasy.

No. Seriously. This is wrong. There are many thoughtful, sincerely patriotic conservatives, yes. There is, indeed, an entire body of conservative political and economic theory, dating back centuries, practiced by men and women of good will (however wrongheaded). But at this moment in our history the GOP—perhaps the entire government, even the global economy—has been hijacked by lunatic, fanatical extremists—known loosely as the Tea Party caucus—dwelling in a reality of their own invention with the glassy-eyed zeal of cult members. They are more than willing to take the country down, either to serve their hysterical Ayn Randian ideology, a belief that the world is only 6,000 years old and that he moon landing was staged, or—and perhaps above all— simply because they figure that President Obama will go down in the wreckage and that we’ll have a white president in heaven.

I’m sorry, but Dennis Kucinich on his loopiest day can’t even approach this sort of fevered wingnuttery. They lie, they fantasize, they hate-monger—all with the endorsement of corporate powers like the Kochs, and hacks like Grover Norquist, the folks who sign their checks.

Or, they’re being enabled by the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, old-school pols who know better—who know damn well that if a Republican were in the White House, they’d simply rubber-stamp the debt ceiling increase just as they did all the gazillion times it was raised under previous administrations.

And yet, you sit there and act all judicious in the interest of being “fair and balanced.” You lend the Tea Party nihilists legitimacy. They are a fringe movement and have always deserved to be treated as such. They should be a sideshow. There is no one on the Left in national government who remotely compares.

I’m sorry. It’s got to stop. Sometimes one side is flat out, dangerously bathshit nuts—or just willfully dangerous, out of sheer political opportunism—and this time the wack jobs and the economic saboteurs are on the Right. Whether motivated by purist ideology or political cynicism, they are united in one goal: To tank the economy and inflate unemployment so that, ultimately, President Obama gets blamed—and goes down in flames.

Media—by which I mean non-Fox, legitimate media—it’s time you called them out.

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There is one thing about today’s right-wing, GOP propaganda machine for which I confess a grudging admiration: They have grasped that the nation has a short attention span; that much of the electorate falls into the “low-information” category—the Ignoramiat—witness polls that show large percentages of Americans who, for example, don’t know who John Boehner is; and above all, they recognize that historical memory is nonexistent.

And so, the Right— whether via Fox News, revisionist ex-Bushies, or Rush and hate radio—proceeds to rewrite history, and create alternate realities. Obama isn’t an American; he’s a one-Man Islamofascist terror cell; although we spent much of 2008 castigating him as an Ivy League elitist, he either didn’t really go to Columbia, or graduate with high honors from Harvard Law School, or else merely got there via affirmative action. Tax cuts for the rich don’t add to deficits—but social programs and all those lazy-ass poor folks and 85-year-olds do. The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and it wasn’t treason—it was a war against Yankee aggression. And on and on.

It would be laughable if the Ignoramiat didn’t buy into it. And so would the Right’s current disinformation campaign: Because Barack Obama— a Democratic President, an African-American, Kenyan-Muslim-socialist-arugula-eating-gansta-governing-affirmative-action-Ivy-League-elitist—directed a bold, brilliant, operation to take out Osama bin Laden, the most hated man since Adolf Hitler, mastermind of the worst attack ever on U.S. soil, which slaughtered 3,000 innocents, traumatized the nation, changed our way of life and—as was his goal—nearly bankrupted the country, thanks to economic panic, an explosion of military spending, and two endless wars; because Obama and his remarkable force struck this astonishing blow for justice…..

…Obviously George W. Bush should  get the credit. George W. Bush, who professed a lack of interest in bin Laden, who let him slip away at Tora Bora. And who, I would suggest, didn’t even want the al Qaeda founder dead—because that would have taken away the face of evil, the bogey man, thereby, for many Americans, removing the justification for the wars that drove the nation into the ground—at least one of which was entirely unnecessary.

Think about that. Sept. 11 happens on Bush-Cheney’s watch—but they rarely absorb any of the blame, even  though serious warnings were ignored. But they get credit for taking out bin Laden—two-plus years into the administration of their successor, after a daring military operation that was entirely under the command of Barack Obama and his team.

Even if you hold your nose and award him a shred of credit, it’s clear that Obama, this anti-American imposter, coolly managed to root out and eliminate the world’s most elusive wanted man—well, just to boost his sagging poll numbers.

The hubris is breathtaking. This after Bush-Cheney, McCain and the rest of the GOP (see Giuliani, Rudy) spent a decade using 9/11 as a political cudgel, as usual playing the national security card to portray Democrats—even a war hero like John Kerry—as weaklings who won’t keep us safe or win the “war on terror.” Indeed, the GOP manages to win this nat. sec. point even though every major war of the 20th century was waged, for good or ill, by a Democratic President.

Right wing history is selective, creative, and grotesquely distorted.

Ronald Reagan won the Cold War all by himself.

Trickle-down economics really, really works, even though the middle class has flatlined over the past 30 years while the rich have gotten vastly richer and the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Bush bore no responsibility for 9/11. But he should get the credit for taking out bin Laden. Even though Barack Obama did it—a minor point.

And Herbert Hoover sure did whip the Nazis and Japanese, didn’t he?

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[UPDATE: Having listened to the President’s speech today, and the way he beat up on Ayn Ryan, I am greatly reassured. He was more the President I voted for, the one I last saw in Tucson. Hardcore Liberals may not be satisfied. But. given the gloomy advance word on this address, I feel much, much better. What happens now, substantively, will tell the tale. But this was a good—and progressive—beginning.]

 

Until recently, with the rise of the Tea Party—and all its factions—our friends on the Right have tended to march in lock step, at least when it counts. Cut taxes, strong defense, keep too many poor black and Hispanic folks from voting, protect the fetus—until it’s born, of course, then it’s on its own.

Democrats? We may not like guns, but we’re experts at forming circular firing squads. And we’re a bit too ideologically diverse for our own good. Any caucus that has Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin in it—well, that’s one Thanksgiving dinner I’ll skip. So, too in the House, you’ve got Heath Shuler and Dennis Kucinich and everyone in between. The expression “herding cats” is overused, but apt. Whatever our qualms about Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi—well, would you like their jobs?

Again, the ornery Tea Party has muddied things for the GOP, perhaps enough to drive John Boehner to drink. More. But Team R still has a ways to go before achieving Dem-level discord.

Now, to President Obama. He’s a polarizing figure, isn’t he? And not just in the obvious way. Of course the Right reflexively assaults everything he does, no matter how good for the country it might be. If he cured cancer, they’d whine about crippling the health care and insurance industries; if he found a way to extend life expectancy for another 50 years, the Repugs would be all over the Sunday shows, defending the mortuary lobby.

No, the polarization I refer to is among Democrats, those of us who have more or less supported the President’s pragmatic approach to dealing with an intransigent GOP, and those of us who accuse him of caving and appeasing.

I’ve been squarely in the former, supportive camp (see my last post and many others). Not that I haven’t had my moments of exasperation, when I wanted the President to get fired up, and to drop his apparent obsession with playing the wise, judicious consensus-builder—especially with an opposition so relentless and vicious. But I fear the circular firing squad. I fear that disappointment with Obama will breed apathy, and leave the country at the mercy of the Radical Right.

I see that with an extremist GOP, and a group of possible, maybe, wannabe exploratory presidential contenders ranging from dull to clownish, 2012 should be a slam-dunk. Maybe not as resoundingly as in 2008, but comfortably nonetheless. The last thing we Democrats should do is bicker and divide—and, above all, stay home on Election Day. The 2010 debacle and its terrible consequences, especially on the state level, should be a lesson to us.

But this week, for the first time, I’m starting to lose it with the President.  Clinging to that middle way, courting independents, he has conceded the economic debate to Republicans; when the national conversation should be about investment (ah, the State of the Union seems so long ago), we are harping on austerity—a code word for greasing the wealthy while screwing the rest of us.

The Republicans negotiate by setting their markers far, far to the right. Paul Ryan’s absurd, draconian budget nukes cherished, vital social programs while granting obscene tax breaks under the ruse that rich folks really create jobs (honest!) instead of merely fattening their coffers, and squeezing more work out of the employees they have. Or downsizing further, to please their shareholders.

Now the GOP will set its blackmailing machinery into motion. Make these savage cuts—and preserve those tax breaks—or we won’t raise the debt ceiling. Or we’ll start shooting puppies.

Instead of playing hardball, the President’s impulse seems to be to meet the GOP half way—that is, halfway between center and right, not left and right; if you think as the political spectrum as a baseball park, the POTUS seems to eliminate left field and use the 410-foot mark in center as a starting point. He winds up around the 375 mark in RIGHT center and calls it a victory.

As much as I have supported President Obama, I dread his speech tonight. Rep. Ayn Ryan has given him a golden opportunity­—Americans overwhelmingly love Medicare and Social Security. And need them. I know scores of people­—hard-working, middle class people—who, without those two programs, will wind up either destitute or dead 10 years before their time.

The President should fight for those entitlements with all the ferocity and rhetorical skill he can muster. But I fear he won’t. I fear, in his determination to be the reasonable “adult in the room,” he will lend legitimacy to Ryan’s insanity (like the endless pundits who hail the Wisconsinite’s “courage” in fighting for the poor, beleaguered wealthy). I fear he will concede left field entirely.

And then, while I’ll still vote for him—to do otherwise is madness—I, too, will finally be “exhausted of defending him.”

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The senator formerly known as Stuart Smalley

Newt Explore notwithstanding, the 2012 Presidential campaign hasn’t officially begun, but as of late last year, President Obama seemed, to some, extremely vulnerable. Since then, however, a slowly improving economy, the President’s exemplary speech after the Tucson massacre and his pragmatic spirit of compromise—maddening as it is to his Progressive base—have edged his approval numbers toward respectability, certainly competitive with other POTUSes midway through their first terms.

There have been rocky patches—many on both sides of the spectrum have questioned Obama’s handling of the remarkable events in the Middle East. But the President has received an unexpected boost—from Republicans. The weepy John Boehner & Co. have flailed in the early months of their post-“shellacking” control of the House, concentrating on culture war issues to assuage their far-right base—eviscerating women’s reproductive rights, de-funding Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting.

Now, overreaching Teabagger Governors in the Midwest have united progressives and repulsed moderates. In the abstract, folks may think public employees should pay more for their benefits. But despite the GOP’s zealous attempts to demonize them—blaming them for fiscal problems instead of tax breaks for the wealthy and tax-dodging corporations— nobody likes to see someone’s rights taken away. And people generally do like their cops, teachers and firefighters.

Like. It’s the word you check on Facebook. And, symbolically, at the ballot box. People want to like their Presidents—after all, you have to live with them for four or eight years. Look back over the past eight decades, since electronic media brought presidential candidates into our homes: Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, W. The multi-term presidents, or those elected in their own right after filling the term of a fallen chief executive, tend to be the ones who came across as more likable than their opponents.

The obvious exception is Richard Nixon. He won a second term—but one wonders if he’d have survived Watergate if he’d been warmer and fuzzier. And one could argue over LBJ’s likability—he was the most complex of men. But in a wave of post-assassination emotion, matched against the abrasive Barry Goldwater—viewed as an extremist in those days, maybe now, not so much—he won election in his own right in an epic landslide.

Which brings us to 2012. Most polls tell us that even if they disapprove of some of his policies, Americans like Barack Obama—apart from the ones who consider him the Antichrist and despite Fox News’ efforts to paint him as a damn furriner. And that visceral response, as much as anything, could well carry him to re-election. Especially when compared to the current crop of GOP contenders:

1)   Mitt Romney. Looks like central casting for the part of a President. But he’s also been described as looking like “the guy who laid you off.” Smarmy and a congenital flip-flopper. Plus, his Romneycare millstone may knock him off in the primaries.

2)   Mike Huckabee. He’s the front-runner as of today, and once seemed cuddly and likable.  But he has bought bigtime into the “Obama as The Other” racist birther meme, lying about the President’s origins and making a complete ass of himself. Plus, no one wants a president named Huckabee.

3)   Tim Pawlenty. He can make all the action hero campaign videos he wants. But he still comes off as the kind of guy people who give wedgies give wedgies to. Especially since, after once seeming reasonably moderate,  he’s had his head so far up the Teabaggers’ butts he’s looking through their eyeballs.

4)   Newt Gingrich. One of the most strident, dislikable politicians of our lifetime. Once considered the Right’s intellectual, he has gone way off the wingnut cliff with rants about Sharia Law and other Beckian nonsense. Plus there’s his embarrassing marital history.

5)   Mitch Daniels. He actually might be the real smart guy among the GOP. But he’s uncharismatic. And too short.

6)   Ron Paul: Get out your foil hats.

7)   Michelle Bachmann: Ditto

8)   Sarah Palin. Seriously? Besides, the Presidency doesn’t pay enough.

9)   Chris Christie. He’s the Right’s Playguy of the Month, and  getting a lot of mileage and publicity out of saying he’s not running. People like his tough-guy, my way or the highway and fuck you, vibe. But for that same reason, he’ll remind the rest of the country what they don’t like about Jersey. Plus—how can I put this delicately, without offending millions of Americans struggling with weight issues—I just don’t think our image conscious electorate will vote in someone who reminds us of Big Pussy from The Sopranos.

10) Jeb Bush. He’s vastly smarter and more thoughtful than his brother. He’d win Florida and peel off Hispanic votes. I have a friend, a Democrat, who worked in his administration and found him genuinely kind. But it’s just too soon. He’ll be Hillary’s problem.

If the GOP’s sabotage pays off, and their job-and-growth-killing policies send the fragile economy reeling backward, or if Obama fucks up some huge security crisis, maybe none of this will matter. I may eat my words—political fortunes change overnight.

But if the likability factor carries its usual weight, I’m betting on Barack.

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You can’t miss it these days, the “Americans Against Food Taxes” commercial. The one in which a maternal-looking actress pushes a shopping cart while griping that Washington is “trying to control what we eat and drink”—by taxing soda and other sugary soft drinks. Lovingly placing a huge bottle of pop on the checkout conveyor, our heroine delivers her kicker line:

“Government is just getting too involved in our personal lives.”

(AAFT, by the way, calls itself a “coalition of concerned citizens – responsible individuals, financially strapped families, small and large businesses;” according to SourceWatch, published by the Center for Media and Democracy, it’s merely “a front group funded by the beverage industry. We’re shocked—shocked.)

Anyway, the No Sugary Soda Tax lady is royally pissed over Big Government’s intrusion into her shopping cart, and her right to fatten up her kids with Mountain Dew. Just as Sarah Palin is steamed over Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative, a Kenyan Socialist Muslim attack on our God-Given right to heart disease, stroke and having our diabetic legs amputated as the Founding Fathers intended. Also.

With the Health Care Reform debate, the ascendancy of the Tea Party and all its corporate enablers, we’ve heard a lot of anti-Big Government bloviating over the past couple of years, culminating in the Great Midterm Shellacking of 2010. “Death panels,” “pulling the plug on Granny,” “Keep your Big Government hands off my Medicare and Social Security” (a statement so breathtakingly stupid on so many levels, where do you begin?).

And there’s always that evergreen, the NRA’s “Keep your hands off our guns.” Or “Keep your hands off our high-capacity ammunition magazines used only for mass murder.” Yes, for the ever more extreme rightist Republicans in Congress, Big Government (read Barack Obama, Reid, Pelosi et. al.) is your enemy.

There is one topic, however, on which the GOP’s anti-government zealotry takes a little ideological sabbatical: Reproductive rights. Granted, I miss a lot, but I’ve not yet heard archconservative Republicans shout, “Keep your hands out of my uterus!”

In fact, some GOP legislators blush at the mere mention of the word. Perhaps it’s since some main sponsors of Congress’ current avalanche of anti-choice legislation, like Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, Rep. Chris Smith, from my native state of NJ, and Rep. Joe Pitts, of Pa., do not, to my knowledge, possess uteri. (Though Pitts looks surprisingly good in black pumps).

In any event, the GOP House is keeping its promise to address our nation’s joblessness crisis by…focusing on eliminating abortion.

Protecting zygote rights.

To paraphrase the “No Tax on Sugary Soda Lady,” Big Government is getting way too involved in the most private aspect of a woman’s personal life.

It’s happening at the national level, and in states all across the country. And much of it arises from the evangelical Religious Right, whose application of unyielding, unquestioning,  fundamentalist Christianity to government represents totalitarianism in its purest form. (And this goes for all faiths in all nations). At least when it’s forced on those who don’t share their beliefs.

And so for any pro-choicers—especially young women—who chose to sit out the 2010 Midterms (after all, you could have been watching Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars that Tuesday night), well, elections have consequences.

Consequences like GOP-led House of Representatives’ obsession—even at the expense of shutting down the U.S. Government—with defunding Planned Parenthood, and its vital  family planning and cancer screening services—using as evidence shady undercover videos from an anti-choice fanatic.

As The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reports:

The House Republican move to strip federal funds from the nation’s most well-known reproductive health care provider as part of its budget last week was the culmination of a multi-year effort that involved parallel action by top Republicans and conservative media operatives playing up the work of a California college student who has been creating surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood employees for years. The student, Lila Rose, is the president of an organization called Live Action that pays actors to walk into Planned Parenthood offices with hidden cameras, much as James O’Keefe did to undermine the community-organizing group ACORN. The Live Action stars pretend to be a pimp and a prostitute engaged in human trafficking and looking for birth control, STD testing and abortions. The videos that the organization puts out can be convincing and disturbing — and in at least two cases were found by Planned Parenthood to be legitimate cause for dismissals — but thorough, frame-by-frame reviews of the full-length videos show that what is posted on YouTube often bears little relation to what happened in reality, due to heavy editing that alters the meaning of conversations.

Two other recent GOP bills, HR3 (Smith) and HR358 (Pitts) have sparked special  outrage. HR3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, caused a firestorm over language that redefined rape and incest. Even more heinous, if possible, is HR 358. The so-called “Protect Life Act,” is an amendment to the 2010 health care reform law modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into HRC. Those of us who oppose 358 call it the “Let Mommy Die” act: The bill would allow hospitals, on “moral” grounds, not only to refuse a life-saving abortion to a dying woman, but also refuse to refer her to another provider.

Somehow, this can be construed as “protecting life.” Then I guess we should have given Ted Bundy the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

(As an aside, it’s worth noting that between 1990 and 2008, the number of American women who die in childbirth annually rose from 12 to 17 per 100,000 live births)

HR 3 and the even more ghoulish 358 are violent—perhaps fatal— Big Government assaults on women’s bodies. But they’re only the most outrageous weapons in the GOP attack. This from Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler:

The GOP’s plan to ban tax-payer money from funding abortions includes giant tax hikes for businesses. More specifically, it would eliminate tax incentives on employer-provided health care benefits if those benefits cover abortion as a medical procedure.Supporters of the bill say those incentives essentially constitute federal spending on abortion….Republicans, says Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) are trying to limit “private choices by private individuals and businesses in the private insurance market.”….Ultimately, the impact of tax like the one in the Republican legislation would likely be to phase out abortion coverage in the private insurance market… “The Republicans in the House are proposing tax hikes because they don’t like a health plan a private-sector business chooses,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “What they want to do is essentially make abortion unavailable.”

Not as sensational as Let Mommy Die, but effective, nonetheless.

Recently Rachel Maddow aired the profoundly moving tale of Wyoming state legislator Sue Wallis—a Republican in the reddest of states—who opposed an anti-choice bill that would have required doctors to inform abortion patients that they could view ultrasound images of their fetuses before the procedure. Wallis gave an impassioned floor speech telling her personal story. Here’s the AP summary of her comments:

“I’m going to tell you a couple of things that are none of your damned business,” Wallis said as she addressed the committee. Wallis said she’s been pregnant five times and has given birth to three children. She said she lost one baby two weeks before it was due to be born and once underwent an abortion, something she said she had never before revealed in public. Wallis said proceeding with the abortion was the best decision she ever made. She said she has spent time counseling young women and said they already know what the implications of abortion are when they visit a doctor.

As Wallis’ Republican colleague, Lisa Shepperson, also declared on the floor of the Wyoming House:

“When I go to the doctor, it is the most private thing you can imagine. I want myself, I want my husband, and I want my doctor there. I don’t want any government.”

I don’t know what kind of soda Reps. Wallis and Shepperson drink. But I do know that anti-choice tyranny is forcing its Kool-Aid down the throats of American women.

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Above I have posted two images. On top is a zygote I have named—in my weakness for alliteration—Zippy. Frankly, I don’t know whether Zippy’s male or female; he or she is microscopic, and I’m never quite sure where to look.

Still, for the so-called pro-lifers, at least the zealots whose mission it is to deny women the right their reproductive rights, Zippy is a person. For more about Zippy and zygotes, I refer you to an article excerpt taken from a pro-life web site. The excerpt is from a much longer piece by Dr. Donald DeMarco, professor of philosophy at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and a member of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission.


Human life begins at fertilization when the spermatozoon fuses with the ovum to form a zygote containing 46 chromosomes that bear a genetic code that is different from those of the new human being’s parents. Unlike the gametes from which it was formed, the zygote has the power to, and immediately begins to direct itself through a process of continuous development to become one day what it had begun to be from the outset, namely, a complete human person. “

Now, on the bottom, that’s Houston Tracy from Houston, Tex. Houston was born with a congenital, potentially fatal, heart defect. Surgeons saved his life in March 2010—but then his family’s insurance company refused to pay for the vastly expensive operation, because Houston had a preexisting condition; while Congress had just passed President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act, which bans insurance discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions, it would not take effect until September.

The Tracys were lucky, though. Through the intervention of Democratic state legislator Chris Turner, among others, the insurer was shamed into paid the claim.

Other babies—children, teenagers and adults—with preexisting conditions won’t be so lucky if the current incarnation of the GOP in Congress has its way. That is, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act—Obamacare, they call it—will be repealed, or at the very least starved or gutted.

So, the “pro-life” Republicans aren’t so high on the likes of Houston. But they’re way, way into Zippy. They’re on a rampage to protect the little guy/girl at all costs—even to the point of narrowing the definition of rape and incest in H.R. 3, their “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act. That sparked overwhelming outrage, and eventually they withdrew the language. But as Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris Santoro tells us:

“The controversy over “forcible rape” may be over, but now there’s a new Republican-sponsored abortion bill in the House that pro-choice folks say may be worse: this time around, the new language would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform the abortion that would save her life.

The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the “Protect Life Act,” is an amendment to the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. Much of its language is modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into the reform law during the health care debate last year. But critics say a new section of the bill inserted into the language just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.?”

Got that? You take your wife or daughter to a hospital to save her life, and the “pro-life” surgeons are perfectly willing to let her die. Now, to be fair, a woman’s pregnancy almost certainly has to be much farther along than the zygote stage to require a life-saving abortion. Still, doesn’t anybody who’s not a religious fanatic see how nuts that is? If someone did that to my wife—well, that’s probably one thing that would drive me to “Second Amendment remedies.”

“Protect Life?” Bullshit.

I do, believe it or not, respect in general the pro-life position; abortion is a tragic, or at least painful option. I have no doubt that millions of Americans are genuinely emotionally invested in those zygotes. And, more plausibly, fetuses. Especially if they’ve had children, or perhaps a special needs child who might have been terminated.
But it is entirely possible to be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time–to allow women to make that decision themselves. My quarrel is with the zealots of the Christian Right—yes, as Markos Moulitsas wrote, the American Taliban, the radicals, the C-Streeters, who mean to foist their absolutist views on the nation. Who, essentially, strive to force women to bear children, even against their will. And the legislators– 173 of them, apparently– who would do so even if that woman was gang raped, or date raped, or a victim of forced incest. As long as there’s no bruising.

How can anyone with any soul force a rape victim to bear some monster’s child? Sharron Angle might call it turning “lemon into lemonade” but I call it sadism.

How can anyone allow a hospital to let a mother die a terrible death, rather than receive an emergency abortion?

Does anyone really believe all that fervor is entirely about protecting life—especially when many of those same legislators wouldn’t flinch at throwing little Houston under the bus—or the 45,000 Americans each year who die because they’re uninsured?

Do we really think the sight of Zippy up there gets John Boehner all dewy-eyed?

No, a good deal of this anti-choice zeal is bout two things:

1) Fear, or repression, of non-procreative sex—in particular, women having it. Doing it. Enjoying it. Notice how many anti-choicers are also against birth control? How many of them say abstinence education is the only answer?

2) Above all, religious fanaticism—and I am speaking of the fanatic here, not the reasonable and humane. Those who are under the spell of unyielding, unquestioning fundamentalism, the ultimate totalitarian mindset. Which is largely about covering one’s own ass. A lot of these “pro-lifers” don’t give a shit about babies—at least after they’re born.

I am reminded of a man—an Ohio man—I saw interviewed at a town meeting during the 2004 presidential race. He said he agreed with John Kerry on virtually every issue. But he just couldn’t pull the lever “because of abortion. These good folks’ priests and pastors have drummed it into their heads that if you even support a pro-choice candidate, you’ve sinned, and you’re going to hell. Or at least, you’re gonna have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

I’m not “pro-abortion.” No one with a shred of humanity could feel otherwise. I don’t think this sad, anguished last resort should be taken lightly. My wife is as pro-choice as they come, but she has said that, unless it was medically necessary, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

But with every shred of my being, I am pro-choice. Don’t take away a woman’s right to her own body, her own future. Don’t look at women as merely vessels, factories.

Don’t let the government invade women’s bodies.

I believe the expression is “Don’t Tread on Me.”

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“Never let a good crisis go to waste, you f—ing retards,” Rahm Emanuel once famously said. And in the wake of today’s overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, look for the good folks who brought you Time-Life’s Obama Must Be Destroyed series to take Rahmbo’s  maxim to heart. Regardless of the outcome, you can be sure the Right, and its Fox News mouthpieces (or the other way round, as David Frum said) had an Obama F—ed Up Egypt narrative teed up and ready.

Hopefully, once the post-Hosni euphoria dies down, Obama’s prudent, judicious handling of the complex Egyptian crisis will have proven exemplary—allowing for a few missteps and messaging mixups inevitable in a situation that changed by the second, in a sovereign nation half a world away. Hopefully this largely peaceful, 18-day revolt will indeed usher in a new day of freedom for the people of Egypt, and lead to something like the secular democratic nation of their (and our) aspirations.

And, hopefully this tectonic change will not bode ill for  America’s security—Israel will not be threatened and the Mideast won’t explode into chaos, ripe for extremists.

We won’t know the answers for some time. But this much is certain: Obama’s enemies on the Right, many of whom see the world as a U.S. colony, will paint him as anything from an Islamofascist in league with the Muslim Brotherhood, to a diffident waffler (the kind who doesn’t invade sovereign nations on a whim).

Either way, the memes “Obama is Weak” and “Obama Doesn’t Believe in American Exceptionalism” will dominate.

To review: Once—like, oh, a month ago—swaggeringly empowered after dealing President Obama his midterm “shellacking,” our friends in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, (Tweet @vrwc) have been reeling. Despite all that rigorous obstructionism and even though John Boehner has transformed Foggy Bottom into a vale of tears, the economy is finally showing signs of improvement. What’s more as real-life benefits of Kenyan Muslim Socialist Nazi Health Care Reform—the GOP’s favorite Obama-bashing pinada—take hold, the public zeal for repeal has melted away; one recent poll put the “kill Obamacare” number at a measly 18 percent.

All this, plus Obama’s Healer-in-Chief performance in the wake of the Tucson tragedy (see line one above) have added up to resurgent approval ratings for POTUS—today’s PPP Poll even has him competitive in South Carolina. That’s right, Jim DeMint-“You lie!”-Alvin Greene-for-U.S.-Senate South Carolina.

And so, the GOP’s “young guns” and old hands in The People’s House have pissed away The People’s time on empty symbolic efforts to take health insurance away from some 30 million Americans, and protecting the rights of zygotes from rape and incest victims.

Time to implement Plan B:  Obama=Jimmy Carter. All you need is a nice terror attack and you’re golden. But what if al Qaeda & Co. don’t play ball before November 2012? You can only gin up so much paranoia over the Ground Zero Terror Mosque.

Enter Egypt. At first glance, it may appear that the Right didn’t quite know how to attack the President over his handling of the revolution against longtime ally Hosni Mubarak. It didn’t help that there’s no real Death to America vibe, and that Egyptians reacted, not to U.S. imperialism, but their violently oppressive dictatorship. Most GOP legislators—including Boehner and John McCain—have been relatively supportive of President’s approach to this delicate, complex crisis. But for the rest of the Right Wing Noise Machine the talking points and memes and narratives (have I left out a Beltway buzz word?) weren’t quite in synch.

In one camp is Team Hosni—represented by Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu, of course, along with the likes of Dick Morris, Rush Limbaugh and Mike Huckabee— (for a useful scorecard, complete with visual aids, see Justin Elliot’s Meet Mubarak’s American fan club http://t.co/6JLw6kA on Salon.com).

These folks are ardently pro-democracy. Except when they aren’t—as in this case.

Their storyline is that Obama, out of weakness, anti-Americanism, or that deep-seated hatred of white people of his, has abandoned an indispensable, if flawed, U.S. ally in the War on Terror and the defense of Israel. Worse still, by enabling the protesters, closet Islamofascist BHO is conspiring to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, and help unleash a fundamentalist tsunami across the Mideast, through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

As Islamophobe extraordinaire Frank Gaffney told Sean Hannity, Obama’s policies “are…actually articulated and implemented through influence operations the Muslim Brotherhood itself is running in our country.”

Well, I’ll certainly give my next cabbie a second look.

On the other side of the anti-Obama coin some conservatives—including many pro-Iraq war neocons— found themselves oddly aligned with many on the left who excoriated Obama for being slow to nurture the protesters, and the flowering of Egyptian democracy. Among these are Fox News’ Ralph Peters, Elliott Abrams and the neocon scholar Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins and the Hoover Institution. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ajami blamed Obama for “the ebb of American power” in the Mideast, because POTUS cast “his lot” with the regions “troubled autocrats.”

Perhaps the Right is in disarray. Or, inadvertently or not, they’re just trying to screw Obama from both ends. The important thing is that both points of view paint POTUS as a waffling wuss. The Jimmy Carter card.

Of course, to millions of voters under 40 who have no real memory of the Iranian hostage crisis, Jimmy Carter is an heroic humanitarian, the greatest of ex-Presidents.

And to millions of every age—well, frankly, they just don’t give a damn about Egypt, or Jordan, or even Israel. If some of the polls are right, half of them don’t even know who John Boehner is. They just want to get through the day.

The Right  just might wind up screwing only itself.

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