Friday, November 13, 2009

Wingnuts: pro-coathanger Edition

tristero: Rhetoric Watch
From Think Progress:
Stupak is an attempt by the pro-life movement to use health reform as a vessel to ration access to reproductive health services.

Stupak is an attempt by the pro-coathanger movement to use health reform as a vessel to ration access to reproductive health services.

As long as we provide the foes of women's reproductive rights the opportunity to cast themselves as being "for life," and do so voluntarily, we will continue to lose ground on a fundamentally moral issue in which we, supporters of unrestricted health care for women, hold the high ground.

Do you think "pro-coathanger" is needlessly confrontational, even if true? Ok, Digby's formulation, "coerced birth," is a more than reasonable substitute. Or if you insist, "anti abortion rights" is fine.

But an important note about that last one: the issue is one of rights, not whether we think a specific set of procedures agrees with our abstract moral code. We can't leave the word "rights" out of the phrase without rhetorically handing the opposition - which is headed by people that genuinely hate women, especially poor women - a powerful concession.

Words matter. And the rightwing would never, ever, make the mistake of calling us anything milder than "pro-abortion," despite the fact that is not our position, nor what this is about. It is about rights, rights to healthcare without restrictions for about half the people in this country.

Think Progress does great work; I'm not raking them specifically over the coals. The rhetorical problem I'm pointing out is so commonplace as to be nearly invisible. My hope is that decent people will focus on how very important it is, always, to resist casting cultural debates in the loaded rhetoric of the right. "Pro-life" is one of their most egregious formulations. And one of the worst.

UPDATE: Short answer to commentators who claim that "pro-life" is just a morally neutral label for one side in a political controversy: You're kidding yourself. You may think the nuanced meanings of a specific phrase don't matter, but they do.
John Cole: Where Do They Find These People?

Via the comments, this jerk:

State Sen. David Schultheis said he didn’t intend for a Twitter post accusing President Barack Obama of “flying the U.S. plane right into the ground” and ending with “let’s roll” as a threat or a reference to United Flight 93, which crashed during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Let’s roll” reportedly were the last words of Todd Beamer before he and other passengers tried to gain control of their hijacked jet. The plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field short of its intended target.

The tweet stirred ire and some support for the Colorado Springs Republican, whose standard eschewal of political correctness has earned him criticism in the past.

Schultheis’ full tweet Tuesday was: “Don’t for a second think Obama wants what is best for U.S. He is flying the U.S. plane right into the ground at full speed. Let’s roll.”


Schultheis voted in February against a bill requiring pregnant women to be tested for AIDS to prevent spreading the disease to the children. He said then that infected children would set examples for women against sexual promiscuity.

Just another Colorado Springs evangelical, spreading God’s word.


The debate over financing of abortions -- the basis for the offensive Stupak amendment -- is all about money being fungible. Amy Sullivan explained the problem nicely recently: "The problem, they say, is that if any insurance plan that covers abortion is allowed to participate in a public exchange, then premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars."

But applying this argument can prove problematic. Focus on the Family, for example, one of the nation's largest religious right organizations and a fierce opponent of abortion rights, has health insurance for its employees through a company that covers "abortion services." The far-right outfit, by its own standards, indirectly subsidizes abortions.

Apparently, the Republican National Committee has the same problem. Politico reported yesterday afternoon that the RNC -- whose platform calls abortion "a fundamental assault on innocent human life" -- gets insurance through Cigna with a plan that covers elective abortion. The Republicans' health care package has been in place since 1991 -- thanks, Lee Atwater -- meaning that, by the party's own argument, it has been indirectly subsidizing abortions for 18 years.

Complicating matters, Politico found that Cigna offers customers the opportunity to opt out of abortion coverage -- "and the RNC did not choose to opt out."

The Republican National Committee, not surprisingly, scrambled. By last night, it resolved the issue. Sort of.

The Republican National Committee will no longer offer employees an insurance plan that covers abortion after POLITICO reported Thursday that the anti-abortion RNC's policy has covered the procedure since 1991.

"Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."

Steele has told the committee's director of administration to opt out of coverage for elective abortion in the policy it uses from Cigna.

But does that actually "settle" the matter? The new RNC policy, apparently, is to have insurance through Cigna, opting out of abortion coverage. But let's not lose sight of the original fungibility problem -- the RNC is taking Republican money and giving it to an insurance company through premiums. That company will then use its pool of money to pay for abortion services, not for RNC employees, but for other customers.

In other words, the Republican National Committee will still indirectly subsidize abortions, every time it writes a check to Cigna.

And if the RNC disagrees with this reasoning, and believes the issue is "settled," then the party has rejected the reasoning of the Stupak amendment at a fundamental level.

Atrios: Don't Care What's True

Last night in comments to this post I said that I didn't care of Palin's charges were true. My point wasn't that I have no interest in truth, just that I have no genuine interest in the Palin freakshow except to the extent that it says something about our media and John McCain. If true, then the McCain campaign people were tremendous dicks, if not true it means Palin is (shocker!) less than honest but despite this the media is going to spend 3 months talking about her even though her actual political future (meaning elected office or any position with actual power) is probably less promising than my own.

The point is the whole thing's a freak show, and that's much more important than any of the "facts" of the freak show, none of which matter at all, true or not... Boehlert says:

So I guess my question is, besides the larger and authentic one (who, besides journalists and GOP partisans, cares about Sarah Palin?) is, has the press ever treated an election loser the way it now treats Sarah Palin? Has the Beltway press ever turned an election loser like Palin into a political rising star, even though there's no evidence to suggest her stature has changed since last November's embarrassing thumping? (i.e. What "magic" is Stephanopoulos talking about?)
There's never a proper left-right analogy, but imagine if John Kerry had put Dennis Kucinich on the Veep ticket and then lost. Kucinich would have increased stature in the Democratic party, and probably be quite popular with "the base," but the press would mostly ignore him other than to occasionally sneer. I'm not equating Palin and Kucinich, just trying to imagine who might occupy a similar space on the left.


Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) can be unintentionally amusing sometimes.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), an outspoken conservative and member of the House GOP leadership whip team, on Thursday refused to condemn the harsh rhetoric used by conservative "tea party" protesters amid the health care debate.

Asked whether she would pledge to no longer endorse the language of protesters who accuse President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats of being "socialist" and "evil" because of their health care reform plan, Blackburn paused before saying, "I'm happy to tell you the American people are very frustrated and what I can speak to is for me." [...]

Blackburn, a speaker at the Bloomberg Washington Summit, dodged several questions about whether her support for the rhetoric used by protesters helps or hurts her party.

She concluded, "Many of us would appreciate having a more civil tone here in Washington."

If she'd like a more civil tone, why would Blackburn fail to criticize the Teabaggers' right-wing vitriol? For that matter, wouldn't she turn down her own over-the-top rhetoric?

Krugman: Lou Dobbs

I used to go on Lou Dobbs fairly often in the early years of this decade — and I liked him. We didn’t agree on much, but the on-air discussions were always even-tempered and kind of fun. I would never have expected him to snap the way he did.

Greg Sargent asks whether progressive bloggers and web sites, Media Matters in particular, will get any credit for Dobbs’s fall, the way the ludicrous Powerline got lionized for bringing down Dan Rather. Probably not; Washington is still, as Josh Marshall likes to say, wired for Republicans.

But there is nonetheless some significance in what happened. Until now it really has seemed as if there was nothing, nothing at all, that someone on the right could say and do that would make them unacceptable in polite company. Now it at least seems that there is a line somewhere.

The Great Orange Satan himself writes a letter: Dear Tom Tancredo

Dear Tom,

With news of your possible gubernatorial bid, I'd like to offer a bit of advice:

Next time you cut and run from a TV interview, remember to unclip both your mic and your ear piece.

It makes for a smoother escape.

Hugs and kisses,


Krugman: The agony of Fox Business

James Wolcott is made of sterner stuff than I am: he actually has the fortitude to watch Fox Business, where the talking heads manage to find nothing but clouds in the silver lining of a huge stock rally. To make their point they bring on such market experts as … John Bolton. As Wolcott writes, “It takes more than a market rally to pull the wool over Bolton’s mustache.” (Now that’s writing!)

But seriously, sort of, there’s a broader moral to be drawn from this.

Clearly, the Fox Business crew is having a very hard time. They bill themselves as being truly pro-business — not like those leftists at CNBC. But they aren’t really pro-business; they’re pro-Republican. They’d like you to believe that it’s the same thing; but there’s this awkward fact that markets have, you know, gone up under Obama.

And this isn’t just a phenomenon of the last few months. Look back at stock returns under recent presidents, which is easy using a clever gadget at Political Calculations. Taking real, dividend-inclusive annual returns on the S&P 500, I get:

Reagan: 10.08%
Bush I: 10.16%
Clinton: 14.35%
Bush II: minus 5.81%

Tax-hiking Democrats are supposed to be terrible for business; I mean, Norman Podhoretz whines that Jews should be conservatives because Republican policies are better for the economy. But the data just refuse to say that — and that’s even if we restrict ourselves to the stock market, never mind job creation, wages, poverty and all that.

So the whole idea of Fox Business is problematic. It’s Fox, which means that it’s basically an arm of the GOP; but that’s a terrible match for business coverage, because the economy just refuses to punish liberals and reward conservatives the way it’s supposed to.

I gather that Fox Biz has managed to push up its morning ratings by hiring that great financial guru Don Imus. But that sort of proves the point; Fox Business can get viewers, but only by turning itself into … Fox News.

John Cole: ZOMG! Terrorists On American Soil!

Hopefully being tried and then sent to prison for the rest of their lives, where they can rot to death next to the unabomber and Eric Rudolph:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and four others accused in the attacks will be put on criminal trial in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce later Friday.

The decision, described by people familiar with the matter, is part of wider announcement planned on how to bring to justice detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. It’s the first set of decisions before a Monday deadline on how to deal with the more than 200 prisoners remaining at the facility, which President Barack Obama has ordered closed.

The wingnut freakout over this will be predictable and amusing, because as we all know, real patriots have no faith in our judicial system and law enforcement officers.

*** Update ***

Literally, as I wrote this post, I got a Red State Action Alert:

Today Barack Obama is going to announce that the terrorist mastermind of September 11th, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be sent to New York City for a criminal trial in a civilian court.

In that trial, the terrorist will get all the rights afforded an American citizen in a criminal trial, including the right to a fair trial, the right to a taxpayer funded attorney, the right to review all the evidence against him, potentially including classified intelligence matters, the right to exclude evidence against him including, potentially, any confession obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.

At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime. At worse, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gain access to classified material he can then leak to other terrorists while New York yet again becomes a target for terrorists. We have already had occasions in this country where terrorists’ sympathetic lawyers have conveyed information, orders, and plans to other terrorists.

You can find more details here.

Call your Congressman and Senator right now. Tell them they should use every tool at their disposal to block this. The number to call is 202-224-3121.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson

I love that his range of possible outcomes includes a “show trial” as the best possible outcome. Authoritarians simply have no faith in our Democracy whatsoever.

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