I Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It, But…

MoJo’s Nick Baumann again does us an invaluable service by pointing out the obvious fact that President Obama’s “unprecedented assault on America’s religious freedoms” by requiring church-related hospitals and universities to cover contraception at the federal level has actually been on the books for, oh, about 12 years now.

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

“It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles,” a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”

After the EEOC opinion was approved in 2000, reproductive rights groups and employees who wanted birth control access sued employers that refused to comply. The next year, in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., a federal court agreed with the EEOC’s reasoning. Reproductive rights groups and others used that decision as leverage to force other companies to settle lawsuits and agree to change their insurance plans to include birth control. Some subsequent court decisions echoed Erickson, and some went the other way, but the rule (absent a Supreme Court decision) remained, and over the following decade, the percentage of employer-based plans offering contraceptive coverage tripled to 90 percent.

This fight has been long settled based on Title VII law.  Clinton put it on the books on the way out without controversy, and it was on the books for every single day of the Bush 43 administration without controversy.  It was on the books for three years under the Obama administration, without controversy.  Nine out of ten businesses in the country, including religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities, provided contraception coverage.  27 states went on to put similar provisions on their books without incident.

It wasn’t an issue at all until an African-American Democrat in the White House decided during an election year that “Hey, this is a good idea, let’s put this on the books for all 50 states” just after getting yet another monthly unemployment report that showed that his policies were starting to bring the jobs numbers back around, and that his prospects for re-election were improving along with that uptick on what basically everyone agreed up until that millisecond was the most important issue of the day, the economy itself.

Then, the existing rules of the game for the last dozen years changed literally overnight to fit the theory that the President was “declaring war on Americans’ religious freedoms.”  Then the rules immediately changed to create “a firestorm of controversy”.  Then the rules changed so that people questioned why Catholics in the Obama administration, including the Vice-President and the Secretary of Defense, hadn’t resigned in protest yet.

It wasn’t an issue until the GOP started openly asking if they were going to lose big in November and Newt Gingrich had melted into babbling radioactive slag and Rick Santorum became the latest Anti-Romney, revealing the fatal weakness of “the frontrunner”.

Only now do the god-botherers and the institutional misogynists and the bigots and the pinheads and the weasels have an issue.

Only now.  They are this desperate to defeat President Obama.

C-PAC. C-PAC Run. Run, C-PAC, Run!

Dave Weigel, at Slate, explains:

The humor comes out of the fact that the sticker’s on a WorldNetDaily jersey. WorldNetDaily: The world’s #1 source for survival seed schemes and for rumors about Barack Obama’s birthplace.
Tim Tebow was born to missionaries in the Phillippines.

The Washington Post, in its capacity as the company paper for the company town whose sole industry is politics, strives for a jolly tone:

Just 15 months after a huge election victory, members of a fractured conservative movement gathered on Thursday to agree on one thing: If they don’t get their act together soon, the country will really be in trouble…
CPAC — a rollicking combination of trade show, political rally, and support group for College Republicans — opened with the usual happy tossing of red meat. One congressman used his time to decry mandates for low-flow toilets: “We are a nation of double-flushers!”
But even in the convention’s early hours, there were signs of the tension that threatens to pull apart the movement. And each of the four Republican presidential campaigns is trying to grab the biggest piece…

Erick “Voice of the Gated-Community GOP” Erickson [warning: Redstate link] is not feeling the familiar excitement:

… This is the seventh CPAC I have been to. The crowd is the least excited I have seen. On the first day, before the candidates have had a chance to bus in their supporters to stack the deck and straw poll, this is the least excited I’ve seen them. The crowd’s heart is with Santorum. But in their mind they do not think he can win.
Today [Friday], Mitt Romney must convince the crowd he is one of them or at least won’t betray them. Rick Santorum must convince them he can beat Barack Obama. Newt Gingrich must convince them he is still viable…

Of course, those Occupy DC pranksters have yet to make their presence felt, apart from troubling Jonah Goldberg’s sweaty dreams. Given Thursday’s warm-ups and also-rans agenda, Weigel mostly stuck to annotating Craigslist, after-hours room parties, white nationalist speakers, and related far-right fringe fantasy tropes.

Charlie Pierce at Esquire, while not above mocking video-poker proponents and possibly the single dumbest current member of Congress, also has more substantive posts on squirmy loathsomes like the anti-American-unionists:

There was also a panel this morning about how successful the efforts have been across the country to roll back collective bargaining…. Both Gerard Malanga from the Manhattan Institute and Kevin Mooney from the Pelican Institute for Public Policy went on at length about how the movement to roll back union rights was less about the economy than about demolishing organized labor as a political force. They cited a number of polls in which union members were dissatisfied with what their unions were doing for them. They mentioned, at length, how far behind the now truncated benefit packages of public sector workers the benefits offered to private sector union workers are. (This, of course, has a lot to do with the rolling back of unions that started under Saint Reagan in 1979, and because a lot of private-sector pension funds have been looted by succeeding generations of Wall Street sharpies, all of which got blamed at the ground level on the unions who were under assault.) To sow division between private-sector and public-sector unions is a nifty way to demolish the political effectiveness of both of them…

… and a certain self-admitted criminal from the Iran-contra mob, still shilling treason for a dishonest dollar:

I’d forgotten what an unctuous twerp Oliver North really is. Over the years since he dove through a loophole by selling out Ronald Reagan at his trial — which prompted Nancy Reagan to call him a liar — North has made a living fleecing the gullible and producing war porn for Fox News. And then he came to CPAC to honor a veteran who undoubtedly is a better person than North ever has been, if only because the veteran in question never has arranged to sell missiles to a terrorist state in order to finance our own terrorists in Central America. Guy’s got to have standards, after all…

If you’ve only got time (or appetite) for a single piece, at least read Pierce’s “Tenther Heaven, on the Big Screen“, for an introduction to Citizen United’s latest crime against our common heritage.

High In The Middle And Round At Both Ends

So if you want to know what LEROOOOOOY NNNNNEWTON! was doing while he was drowning in flop sweat and Santorum last night, he was too busy playing for Ohio by attacking the President (and Mitt Romney) here in heavily Catholic Cincinnati yesterday.

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich today brought his talk of family, jobs and God straight to where he hoped it would resonate – Cincinnati’s West Side.

And it did. The popular Price Hill Chili was packed with 200 people who cheered and clapped as Gingrich promised he’d put people on unemployment into job training and cut corporate taxes. “Large-scale” change is needed, he said, and he’s the man to bring it.

“It is fundamentally wrong to give people 99 weeks of money for doing nothing,” he said, prompting the crowd to yell, “Newt! Newt!”

He must hate anyone who’s on Social Security for more than two years then.  Oh wait, he pretty much does.

He drew his biggest cheers when he talked about oil and said, “No American president will ever again bow to a Saudi king.”

He said he doesn’t want to run just a Republican campaign, but one that unleashes “the American people so they can go out and rebuild the America we love.” A woman shouted, “Yes! Yes!”

When someone in the crowd yelled, “Lead us back to the Bible, Newt!” he didn’t miss a beat: “What I want is to lead you back to the Declaration of Independence… The fact is, in America, we believe that power comes from God to each of you personally” and you loan it back to the government.”

Newt went on to attack Obama’s War On People Who Were Never Going To Vote For Him In The First Place, and the crowd ate it up.

Jim Ferneding of Montgomery wanted the chance to shake Gingrich’s hand, and he got it. He told him: “You’re the one with the strength. Just concentrate on condemning Obama and you will win.”

Because in the end, that’s all that matters to a hell of a lot of folks around here.  They don’t want someone to beat Obama, they want him so thoroughly and utterly destroyed that nobody “like him” dares to run for President again in their lifetimes.  He must be broken.

Don’t forget that little goal even for a second.


R-Money’s Attack Dog

In the New Yorker, the invaluable Jane Mayer explains how “the creator of the Willie Horton ad is going all out for Mitt Romney“:

Romney, unlike the remaining Republican candidates, has served no time in Washington. Yet he’s relying on a media offensive managed by operatives who have long been at the heart of Washington’s Republican attack machine. One of the leaders of this advertising war is Larry McCarthy, a veteran media consultant best known for creating the racially charged “Willie Horton ad,” which, in 1988, helped sink Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President.
McCarthy, who is fifty-nine, helps direct the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future, one of the hundreds of new Super PACs—technically independent political-action committees set up by supporters of the candidates—that are dramatically reshaping the Presidential election. PACs have existed since the nineteen-forties, but for decades an individual donation was limited to five thousand dollars. The power of PACs increased exponentially in 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals could spend without limit—and pool their money in PACs—to influence elections, as long as they didn’t fund candidates directly. Super PACs have already injected fifty-six million dollars into the 2012 race, most of it going to negative advertising. Restore Our Future has spent seventeen million dollars—more than any other PAC—and fifteen million of that has gone to producing and airing ads made by McCarthy’s firm, McCarthy Hennings Media. By contrast, Romney’s official campaign has spent only eleven million on ads. The Super PAC is technically fighting a proxy battle on behalf of Romney, but in practice it has become the head warrior…
“He doesn’t crave the limelight,” Cliff Shannon, the chief of staff for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, of Texas, says. Shannon became office friends with McCarthy in the nineteen-seventies, when McCarthy was just out of Georgetown University, and they were both working as political aides for Senator John Heinz, of Pennsylvania. “You won’t find him on Fox morning news. He’s not in this for fame and fortune—though I’m sure he’s glad he’s made money. It’s about the work.”

And yet, this media ninja assassin is no humble cenobite:

According to one media consultant, the best in the business earn about four million dollars a year, which is more than most lobbyists and law partners make. Typically, seventy per cent of every political dollar raised in a Presidential campaign is spent on “media buys.” Campaign consultants don’t disclose their finances, but they typically charge clients seven per cent of a project’s media budget, in addition to taking consulting and production fees. Pollsters, by comparison, get only two per cent of the media budget, and campaign managers just one…
This year is likely to be McCarthy’s most profitable yet. It is predicted that total spending on television advertising in the Presidential race will reach two billion dollars. Both sides are well armed; though the Democrats trail the Republicans in Super PAC funds, Obama’s official campaign currently has twice as much money as Romney’s. Walter Shapiro recently argued in Washington Monthly that “the real crisis facing American politics” is not just the degradation of debate caused by such political air wars; it is “what elected officials have to do to raise the money to pay for those ads.” He concluded, “Gradually falling under the sway of big-time campaign donors is inevitable.”…

It’s well worth reading the entire article; McCarthy seems to have been associated with all the dirtest of the many dirty GOP campaigns during the past 25 years. Perhaps it’s for the best that Mayer’s article has been posted when the debate over President Obama ‘endorsing’ Super PAC donations is fresh; it includes the ominous sentence “Though both parties are outsourcing their dirty work to Super PACs this year, the main PAC supporting President Barack Obama, Priorities U.S.A. Action, has raised less than half the money collected by Restore Our Future.”

Another Republican Bottom-Feeder Speaks Up

Via Dave Weigel at Slate, news that the man responsible for the ‘Hoekstrokia‘ is trying for a new personal depth record:

Reactions are just exactly what you’d expect, per the Washington Post:

… “Really, really dumb,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy said over Twitter. “I mean really.”
The Michigan chapter of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, a nonpartisan group, called the ad “very disturbing” in a statement. A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called the ad “blatantly racist.” A group of Detroit black ministers joined in, arguing that the spot is “no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect.”…
The ad never actually mentions China by name; it was filmed in California with a Chinese-American actress. (In a conference call, Hoekstra told reporters that the actress’s parents are “100 percent Chinese.”)
“It’s not a stereotype at all. Through the creative, this is a young woman in China who’s speaking English,” Hoekstra added on Fox News Monday afternoon, referring to the fictional environment of the ad. “That’s quite an achievement.” On WJR radio Monday morning, Hoekstra called it “probably the best ad of the political season.”
Republican consultant John Weaver, who worked for now-Gov. Rick Snyder in 2010, defended the ad, saying it was “not racially charged or over the edge in any regard, other than perhaps harming the sensibility of the political correctness class in Washington.”

“Really, really dumb” seems to be a pretty fair assessment of Hoekstra in general. Just the sort of mean, loose-lipped dumb that appeals to the GOP “base”. As Weigel adds:

[T]he stupidity is the point: This is lizard brain stuff, meant to remind the hard-luck Michigan voter why he’s so afraid of China. Hint, hint: It’s DIFFERENT. It’s not even that it’s Communist, or in the words of Rush Limbaugh, “Chi-Coms.” They are foreign and scary — and hell, that’s redundant… So I’m not surprised at all to see Hoekstra’s campaign fundraisinging off the backlash in an e-mail to supporters…
Here’s where Hoekstra loses me — the poor-little-candidate act. He’s not a racist, and only the slowest critics are saying he is. He’s a Senate candidate looking for a way to stir up voter anger about the debt (which, according to exit polling in GOP primaries, is fading somewhat as an issue), and doing so with… an ad in which a smug Chinese lady brags about how she’s going to bury us. (Is this going to happen before or after her ride on a hastily-built high-speed train?) He knows that a lot of Americans worry about this, possibly unreasonably so. And he’s taking advantage of that.

It’s all about the public victimization — the man who claimed “Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House” is being abused, again, by minions of the freedom-hating Democrat party. C.R.E.A.M.!

If you find Hoekstra’s broken-winged-bird cries inspirational, here is Senator Stabenow’s website. Full disclosure: I happily voted for Debbie Stabenow, back when she was starting her career as a Michigan State representative and then senator, and I was living in Ingham County.

Susan G. Komen for the Lure and the art of deception

I was about to write a post on this, but as usual, the faster and smarter front pagers beat me to it.  My take is this–in the HuffPo column by Laura Bassett, both the Susan G. Komen For the Lure foundation, and the article’s writer Bassett, blame Planned Parenthood for SGKFTL’s own goal, with absolutely no evidence to back that up:
The author states, without attribution: <blockquote>The charity struggled to deal with the pressure, especially in a face-off against Planned Parenthood, an organization whose fine-tuned political team has experience in these high-pitched, high-stakes debates.</blockquote>
and then later in the column: <blockquote>”Komen’s not equipped to spend its days fighting political battles,” the source said. “Abortion is not our issue, and I think [leadership] tried to finesse a way out of it, and this investigation criteria was the solution. And it blew up in their faces. They were just naive in the face of [the] incredibly sophisticated Planned Parenthood operation.”</blockquote>
The columnist does say that the insider who gave her the information “was furious about the cave[in to PP]” but gives no context to the assertions that Planned Parenthood put a shiv into SGK.

As long as SGK can delude itself into thinking that they were mau-mau’ed by a very effective Planned Parenthood, they will continue this behavior, as will any other organization that learns that particular “lesson.”  They are, along with their partners and friends in the conservative blogosphere, and apparently at the Huffington Post, working very hard to change the narrative of the story to one of bravely standing up to a shake down by a bunch of baby killers, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by those same baby killers rallying their baby-killing-loving supporters.  Now perhaps, being a bear of very little brain, and liking honey too much, I didn’t notice the huge PR push by Planned Parenthood.  I thought it looked like a huge number of women reacting to the betrayal by a charity that claimed to be all about women’s health, taking a huge shit all over another organization that is primarily about women’s health.  But that is because I don’t suffer from the siege mentality that conservatives live under.

Clearly We Need Laws To Protect Us From Republican Voter Fraud

Next time somebody says DEMOCRAT VOTER FRUAD ACORN BLAH BLOOGITY BLAH please calmly direct them to Indiana’s GOP Secretary of State Charlie White being convicted on six of seven voting fraud felony counts while being the state’s top election official.

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted of six felonies early this morning, and consequently lost his job.

But the Republican could get it back soon.

White, 42, Fishers, plans to ask a judge to reduce his convictions – all class D felonies – to misdemeanors at sentencing. It’s uncertain whether that move would allow him to reclaim his job.

“We don’t know the right answer to that,” White said. “This is all very new.”

Shortly after White’s verdict was read, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in a news release shortly before 3 a.m. that he has appointed Jerry Bonnet, White’s chief deputy, as interim secretary of state.

“I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder,” the Republican governor said in the news release. “If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly.”

Now, if all of these players were Democrats, what would your reaction to this be, conservatives?  And what is “law and order moderate” Mitch Daniels thinking, allowing to keep a man convicted of voting fraud as the state’s top election official if the charges get reduced to misdemeanors?  If any Democratic party governor tried that, it would be national news about the “corrupt Dem voting fraud machine”.   What it means is Daniels is just as corrupt as the rest of them and always has been.

But reports on the actually corrupt Republican voting fraud machine that exists to the point of a Secretary of State being convicted on voting fraud crimes?  Doesn’t count.  Meanwhile, New Black Panther Party BLAAAAAAAAAARGH!

It’s Okay If You’re A Republican(tm).