I know this is one of those groaner lines that'll make you wince, but it's true and I don't have any other way to say it: I have friends who are Republicans.
I do. And they're not even make-believe.
For the most part, the Republicans I know are good, decent folks who are patriotic. They prefer lower tax rates because they prefer smaller government. In fact, government isn't the first answer, it's usually the solution of last resort... except when it comes to national defense, in which case they want a robust global presence that usually involves guns, missiles, planes and tanks. Their default is to individual rights, and that includes gun ownership.
There's more, and I disagree with them on almost all of it. But we can usually have a reasonable conversation about the news of the day or even politics without killing each other.
I think the Republicans I know would be repulsed at the idea of outlawing contraception.
This isn't the abortion debate -- this is birth control.
Not satisfied with President Obama’s new religious accommodation, Republicans will move forward with legislation by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that permits any employer to deny birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday.
“If we end up having to try to overcome the President’s opposition by legislation, of course I’d be happy to support it, and intend to support it,” McConnell said. “We’ll be voting on that in the Senate and you can anticipate that that would happen as soon as possible.”
The Blunt amendment he was specifically referring to would “ensure that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions” under the Affordable Care Act.
Horrifying, but not really surprising. Sounds to me like the Republican leadership in the Senate is just echoing what GOP front-runner Rick Santorum is saying about birth control, a theme he's covered many, many times:
Here is an actual Rick Santorum quote: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.” And also, “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
Democrat, Republican, who gives a crap. Here are some pretty basic facts:
• There are 62 million U.S. women in their childbearing years (15–44).
• Seven in 10 women of reproductive age (43 million women) are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they and their partners fail to use a contraceptive method.
• The typical U.S. woman wants only two children. To achieve this goal, she must use contraceptives for roughly three decades
Imagine essentially saying to 43 million women: you should have contraception, because it's sinful!
I should point out that the Republicans I know -- who include women -- are horrified by this. And they should be. After all, this is no longer about differences in approaches to public policy between two political sides: it is outright religious insanity.
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I went to FiveThirtyEight today, and if you're Mitt Romney, they're painting a pretty bleak picture. It looks like he is on-track to lose his "other" home state of Michigan on the 28th. Yes, his other "home" state was New Hampshire, where he has a vacation house. Of course, he was governor of Massachusetts, but his father was governor of Michigan and head of a car company -- you know, one of those things Mitt Romney said we should let fail.
Sure, it looks like he will win Arizona, also on the 28th, but it may not matter if Santorum wins Michigan, staying one win ahead of Mitt.
And the news gets worse, because March 6th is Ohio and Georgia, and in Georgia, it looks like Newt might finally win one (you'll recall that the former Speaker is originally from Georgia, sadly for the people of Georgia). Ohio looks awfully close -- leaning towards Gingrich right now -- but even close is bad news for Mister Inevitable (that was, um, Mitt Romney, you know...).
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Seriously, these people go on national TV and say this shit:
During a segment about new rules regarding women in the military, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta attacked the Department of Defense for increasing spending on support programs for victims of sexual assault. Trotta also reacted to a Pentagon report showing a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults since 2006 by stating: “Well, what did they expect? These people are in close contact.”
Trotta began by claiming “we have women once more, the feminist, going, wanting to be warriors and victims at the same time” and later added that feminists “have also directed them, really, to spend a lot of money. They have sexual counselors all over the place, victims’ advocates, sexual response coordinators. ... you have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much."
I know there are a whole lot of folks out there who like to complain about President Obama. Those folks should realize that the opposite of Obama is not more liberal Obama: it's people like this who go on FOX News and say things so outrageous, you'd swear it came from the Onion.
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I must tell you that David Frum's piece in the Daily Beast is my new favorite article, at least for right now. In it, he excerpts Grover Norquist's speech to CPAC. It is sublime:
They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives:
All we have to do is replace Obama. ... We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.
The requirement for president?
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.
This is not a very complimentary assessment of Romney's leadership. It's also not a very realistic political program: congressional Republicans have a disapproval rating of about 75%. If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed.
That is it. That's what it's come down to in the GOP presidential primary: ten working fingers.
It's awesome stuff, and it's only mid-February.
-- More to come --