I don't have a lot of time today -- although you may have noticed that I woke up extraordinarily early this morning, by accident really -- but there's so much happening with the GOP's ongoing lemming-like race toward the edge of Contraception Cliff, that I wanted to maybe touch on a couple of points quickly if I could.
1. Greg Sargent over at the Washington Post has an interesting piece up right now laying out the Republican case for why a fight over birth control is one worth having and isn't, in fact, a political and cultural third rail that's going to electrocute them, en masse, during an election year. According to GOP strategist Whit Aryes, the issue isn't about contraception but -- wait for it -- personal freedom. He says the key is to frame the fight, at least optics-wise, as being less about birth control for women and more about the government attempting to trample on religious liberties. For those who've been paying attention, Darrell Issa has made this same basic assertion when it comes to the supposed goal of his little "Very Religious Men" dog and pony show that happened on the Hill yesterday.
The problem with this tack, of course, is that it still lays out almost flawlessly both Republican hypocrisy and the reality of the conservative mindset, at least insofar as where the American right's priorities lie when it comes to which freedoms should be protected and which can be safely sacrificed. The translation of the Aryes/Issa model goes something like this, and there's really no other way around it: Safeguarding the right of people to adhere to the tenets of an ancient superstition and not to offend their magical sky spirit trumps the right of real-world women to control of their own bodies and to easy access to something that grants them safe and healthy reproductive freedom. While the Republicans are trying to cast it as a threat to religion by governmental intrusion, it can just as easily be viewed the other way around. And while both religion and, ostensibly, personal freedom is protected by the Constitution, sorry but we've reached a point in the history of this planet where the needs of the sky spirit should never be allowed to supersede the needs or even wants of people who can, you know, be proven to actually exist.
2. Once again on the ways that this fight tips the GOP's hand when it comes to how staggeringly out-of-touch its thinking is, Matt Osborne put together a pretty good little post on what he calls the "Grandiose Old Patriarchy." The salient quote:
"(Right-wing rhetoric) always poses a zero-sum proposition: if women control their means of reproduction, men are supposedly 'diminished' from their hallowed throne at the family godhead. A perceived loss of privilege always drives resentment politics. In this case, men’s privileges under the antiquated values of the 19th Century are supposedly at risk — which is hilarious, because those values are largely extinct in our culture, even among self-described conservatives. The 'war against religion,' as Darrell Issa defines it anyway, was already fought and lost decades ago. Second point: this is another lost cause being resurrected."
Meanwhile, Irin Carmon over at Salon dissects what Rick Santorum bankroller, Bayer aspirin advocate and crazy old white guy Foster Friess's recent comments say -- loudly and unequivocally -- about the Republican worldview (read: its arrogant patriarchy):
"It’s worth looking at what he said right before (the Bayer comment): 'I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex that I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are.' This is deeply ironic, and not just because Friess has chosen to back a candidate whose singular obsession with state regulation of sexual behavior has helped bring the more extreme stances of the anti-choice movement to the forefront. It bears repeating that Santorum said as recently as October, 'Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK, contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.'"
And how are things "supposed to be?" Exactly the way Jesus the Magic Savior dictates. Never forget that.
3. If you've managed to get through most of the blustery right-wing rhetoric on birth control and what's best for women -- and remember, we're not talking about a minority group here, we're talking about half the population -- without getting sick all over the living room floor, there's this bit of conservative pseudo-intellectual masturbation: a "think piece" in the Daily Caller that attempts to get to the bottom of that whole woman problem by asking the troll-baiting question "What Are Women For?" It's ponderous and condescending pretend existentialist horseshit from beginning to end. Feel free to give it a look -- it's so Onion-like that it's not even worth an excerpt.
4. Finally, a standing-o for Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Norton for asking the pertinent question about Darrell Issa's -- as Cesca called it -- "He Man Woman-Haters Club" hearing, then basically telling Issa where he can shove the whole thing. Maloney asked, "What I want to know is, where are the women?" of the all-male, all religious leader/scholar panel, not long before she and Norton got up and walked out.
Suck it, Issa. You smug prick.