Beware of misdirection from… well, basically, everyone
As per usual, a lot of stuff happened this past week in the arena of banshees and retardation we know as national politics. Thanks to inter- and intra-party squabbling, an entitled conservative base and a liberal wing that unpredictably alternates between squandering and overplaying their newfound political clout, the national dialogue is stupidly dysfunctional. Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shore producers watch Senate hearings and fear for the future of humanity. Decades from now, when the last of us are earning a living as jesters for our new zombie overlords, we’ll refer to these years as “the dark times.”
(Warning: misdirection ahead.)
The gun control debate, for one, continues to limp placidly along, as Wayne LaPierre — a man paid to lobby for and rhetorically fellate the NRA’s agenda whenever there’s a microphone present — continues to insist that background checks don’t work, at the same time that Baltimore Police Chief Jim Johnson (whose rise to such an occupation should be accompanied by hazard pay on par with a fingerless landmine defuser) completely debunks him, using the arcane arts known in whispers as “logic” and “math.” Fun fact: every time Ted Cruz puts an imaginary pistol grip on a rifle, an angel takes a crap.
But I’m not going to talk about that, because what I am going to talk about makes my brain hurt just slightly less. As you may or may not have heard, the Obama administration just released more details on the contraception rule in their Affordable Care Act plan. There’s a lot of political-legal word salad that I don’t have the time or patience to untangle in these pages, but here’s the long and short of it: Under the Affordable Care Act, religious nonprofits and hospitals can choose to opt out of providing contraception benefits for female employees; if they choose, it won’t come out of their pockets.
Fear not, uterus-havers, because if your employer is freaked out that much by the thought of women’s rights and/or democracy, then the insurance company will still pay for your birth control, with absolutely no co-pay. So even if your boss — in these cases, I like to imagine an obese version of Mr. Monopoly, with a vocabulary that consists entirely of “Harumph!” and farts — you’ll still have access to free contraception if you want/need it. Think of it as a backdoor policy, which is literally what birth control consists of in Alabama.
You’d think this would satisfy religious conservatives. Their liberties, which were already in no danger of being infringed upon (because ensuring that women are healthy and in charge of their own bodies is not the same as a Christian vs. Lion Fight Night), are now being not-infringed-upon even more substantially.
And yet, tragically and predictably, it’s not stopping religious groups from seeing their perpetual bitch-and-moan through to the bitter end. The Faith and Freedom Coalition refers to it as “window dressing and more of the same;” the Catholic Association says “just another accounting gimmick.”
Perhaps most hilariously, Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (a transparent moniker if ever there was one) says: “[this] proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans. There would have been an easy way to resolve this — expanding the exemption — but the proposed rule expressly rejects that option.”
Two things about that statement: 1) “millions of Americans” could mean anything. If more than two million Americans shared Duncan’s concerns, that’s a legitimate statement; and it probably is. But here’s the thing: many, many, many millions more support the president’s plan. And this, my friends, is how democracy works. 2) It doesn’t matter what Obama did, does or will do. In this context, conservatives will only be happy if the exemption is expanded to include f***ing everyone. Because when conservatives crow about liberty, what they really mean is limiting the freedoms of the majority of Americans based on their own idiosyncratic, nitpicky insecurities.
One idiot in particular is/was responsible for actually trying to push this concept through. Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — Satan calls him “damaged goods” — calls for expanding the exemption to include not only overt, religiously affiliated entities, but to any company owned or headed up by an individual who objects on moral grounds.
Again, two things: 1) something like this would never get past the second minute of deliberation in the Supreme Court, as it would theretofore allow any private entity to skirt government regulations, using the supremely myopic “moral objections” as an excuse. 2) This is America, dips**t. Which means that, even if you don’t like something, you’ve got to pay for it. Plenty of us objected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we paid for it. There’s a pothole eight blocks away from me, on a street I never drive on. And I pay to have it fixed.
It’s sad, it really is, that conservatives, through little more than braying like lunatics, have re-characterized a basic American principle like “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free” to mean “communist dystopia.” And that’s their game: misdirection. It’s what characterizes their policies and talking points, from gun control to contraception to their current attempts to reconfigure the electoral college in their favor. Conservatives know that, left with only facts and figures, they’re up S**t Creek on every issue. Hence the braying; hence the melody, the message, lost in the white noise. You Might Also Like: