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The Democrats are going to run on “results” in November??

Bart Stupak, poster boy for the "party of results"

I know, I know.  It took me awhile to stop giggling too.  They can’t possibly be serious.  But that’s what PoliticalTicker is claiming.   Swallow your coffee before you read it:

Washington (CNN) – When voters head to the polls in November, the Democratic National Committee would like them to remember Democrats with one word: results.

On Wednesday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, chairman Tim Kaine revealed his party’s new message and strategy months ahead of the midterm elections. Kaine talked about the efforts with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Kaine told King that Democrats hope to convince voters they are the party of results. Part of their new strategy will involve pushing that message, helping local candidates, and convincing many of the new voters – that voted for President Barack Obama in the last election – to support Democrats in the midterms.

The DNC chairman said that while the economy still needs improvements, it’s moved from recession to recovery.

Kaine said, “I think the improvement will be noticed by our voters and we’ll be able to make the case to them, do you want to keep climbing or do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who put us into the ditch?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they will be thinking as they head out the door today with their complimentary cardboard box for their stuff and their three month severance packages.

Actually, that’s not what I’ve been witnessing here in the heart of middle class suburbia.  What is happening is that the Republicans in NJ are stirring up an anti-tax rebellion and directing it against hapless teachers.  Why should THEY be getting decent bennies and a steady paycheck when the people footing the bill with their ridiculous property taxes are seeing their industries disappearing and their own lives on the brink of disaster?

Tim Kaine and the Democrats are utterly clueless.  They have no idea what is really going on out here.  Results?  What results?

Was the stimulus package big enough to stave off these drastic cuts in our school districts?

Did Democrats end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Did the Democrats fight hard for the entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the capital they need to start new ventures so people would have jobs?

Did the Democrats soak the rich bankers within an inch of their lives so that they would learn a valuable lesson and the financial catastrophe they brought upon us wouldn’t happen again?

Did Democrats put together an adequate bailout and mortgage restructuring package for strapped homeowners so they wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from their obligations?  Did they make it easier for mortgage owners to keep money flowing to the banks to keep them solvent?

Did the Democrats impose some emergency regulations so that bankers would stop gambling away our futures?

Have the Democrat done ANYTHING so far to make sure that no one touches Social Security and that we get our Trust Fund money back from the thieves who took it?

Did the Democrats give us actual health care reform that’s truly universal, affordable, with competition?

Did the Democrats protect womens’ rights and autonomy of her own body?

Did the Democrats fix gender paycheck inequalities for real or did they simply pass a law with no teeth?

Did the Democrats try to protect American workers’ jobs?

I haven’t seen any results.  I’ve seen them turn their backs on their own voters in 2008 in order to elect their lightbringer, an easy win for them.  All they had to do was change the roolz in the middle of the game and cudgel frantic American voters with false accusations of racism to guilt them into voting for one of the most unprepared but nakedly ambitious presidents since George W. Bush.  But it wasn’t enough to make him president.  No, the world had to give him a Nobel prize as well.  What’s next?  A MacArthur genius grant for curing cancer?  Where does he find the time??  The awards must be piling up on his little display etegere, like a bunch of 3rd place martial arts trophies.  Everyone who participates gets a prize for trying.

And the whining.  I can’t stand it.  We are now supposed to believe that a minority party, the Republicans, are responsible for all that has gone wrong.  They stand in the way.  They say no to everything.  Even when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Republicans were responsible.  How can that be??  I am trying hard to wrap my head around this concept.  Here’s what I’ve got: 1.) Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the senate.  2.)Republicans got what they wanted anyway.  3.) Soooo, maybe the problem is actually *in* the Democratic party.   Three names come to mind immediately: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.  You can throw Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu in there as well but at least they can be leaned on.  Who leaned on Nelson, Lieberman and Stupak?  Those three swaggered all over Congress and Stupak in particular got whatever the hell he wanted.  It was Bart Stupak vs the majority of voters in the USA and Bart won.  BART won.  The Democrats allowed Bart and Obama to screw millions of women out of their personal autonomy and Democrats have the nerve to blame Republicans?

I don’t think Democrats understand the impact of their cowardice.  Women are not a special interest.  Workers have to work to pay taxes.  The financial investment industry is out of control and wrecking havoc around the world.  Our current wars are pointless wastes of lives and money.  Sick children should never have to pass through a gauntlet to get affordable health care.  And we need teachers, even the mean ones who can’t be bothered to address the needs of the gifted.  If they do a good job with the other 98% of the students in their classes, we will have gotten more than our money’s worth.

You want to know what I want to see in the results category?  I want to see real passion on the Floor.  I want to see yelling and screaming.  I want to see the progressives and liberals eat some red meat and throw a fit until the Bart Stupaks in their own party back down.  I want to see eggs thrown and smoke bombs and bloody noses.  I want to see incivility.  I want to see so much fighting in Congress by Democratic representatives on behalf of Americans not in the bonus class that the editorial page of the New York Times faints before it can reach the smelling salts.  I don’t want two Republican parties.  I want to see Democrats actually ACT like Democrats. 

Shove your “party of results” meme until you have some results.  I own my vote.  I don’t give it away for social promotion purposes.  You can’t scare me with the Republican boogie man anymore.  I voted for downticket Dems in 2008 but they haven’t pulled their weight.  If Republicans win this fall, Democrats have themselves to blame and no one else.  It was their responsibility to get things done and they blew it.  They coasted.   This fall, I’m not voting for either party.  I’m voting for a party to be designated later.

And stop calling me for money.

The Confluence CCD Class for Incorrigible American Women

If anyone had told me two years ago that I would be teaching a CCD class for incorrigible women, I would have thought they were playing a practical joke on me.  For one thing, I’m the LAST person on earth who should be trying to whip anyone into line where Catholic theology is concerned.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have morals and ethics.  It’s just that until Bart Stupak and his Vatican campaign staff came along, I thought I had a choice of religion.  Silly me!  I’m just a woman.  An *American* woman.  In France, I am told by one of my colleagues, there was a recent bill passed that provided greater compensation to doctors who provided abortions.  Apparently, the doctors in France felt they were being underpaid for the service and fewer of them were willing to perform the procedure.  So they government decided to make it easier for women to get this service by paying doctors more. I’ll see if I can find a citation, er, that’s not in French.

But I digress.

See, American women are not French.  No, we need the guidance of our ministers and fathers and husbands and boyfriends and guys who belong to a 2000 year old men only club who only recently apologized to Gallileo for dissing his heliocentric theory and sell their sopranos to foreigners for sexual pleasure that they aren’t technically supposed to be dabbling in anyway.  (There’s probably some clause that they invoke about how the choirboys haven’t officially taken any vows of chastity)  THEY can get away with it.  YOU cannot. Why can’t you?  I have no frickin’ idea.  I’m just here to teach this CCD class, not make the rules.

Now, I know that some of you are not Catholic.  You may be Protestant or Buddhist or atheists or neo-pagan universalists.  You may have thought you had the right to decide for yourselves whether you believed that zygotes have immortal and innocent souls that needed protection and that you are tainted with original sin for having SEX(!) or being created from the union of two tainted individuals who had SEX(!).  See, this is where you are wrong.  It’s not up to you to decide this stuff.  I don’t know why you can’t decide.  That’s not my job.  As I said before, I don’t make the rules.

Anyway, enough of the groundwork.  Where shall we begin?  Well. let’s start with saints.  To me, saints look like a holdover from polytheism but that might just be my mother’s protestant influence on me.  Saints have feast days in the Catholic calendar.  Saints can intercede on our behalf with the head honchos in heaven.  But each one of them is in a different department and carry out only a single function.  Like St. Anthony is supposed to help you find things.  St. Christopher is supposed to help travelers.  If St. Anthony and St. Christopher got together, they might market their services to people who lose their luggage at airports.

Now, who is the saint for March 25?  You may be surprised to know (or not), that there are many saints available for March 25.  But I have found the perfect one for incorrigible American women who after yesterday’s executive order signing ceremony (that wasn’t televised at lunch to nauseate the unsuspecting diner) are newly converted Catholics.  Her name is St. Dula.

From the Saints and Angels page we learn that St Dula was a:

Virgin martyr at Nicomedia, in Asia Minor, also called Theodula. The slave of a pagan soldier, Dula died defending her chastity.

What a brave, shining example St. Dula sets for us.  We should all go out and do likewise.  She probably couldn’t help it that she was a slave but original sin is powerful.  Her parents were probably responsible for her misfortune because they had SEX(!).   Nevertheless, this poor woman, and by poor I mean a working class person making little or no money, died rather than submit herself to the indignities of having SEX(!).  I find this story strange because had Dula become pregnant from rape, she might have been able to qualify for a federally funded abortion.  But never mind the inconsistency.  Believers in 2000 year old religions have to live with such things and so do you.  From now on.  Until we elect a woman.  Next time.

I pray.

Now, be good and pure or it’s off to the laundries with you.

The Magdalene sisters will getcha if you don't watch out!

The abortion “compromise” doesn’t make the health care reform bill good

Nebraska: Allowing gender inequality one state at a time!

Time has the lowdown on what Harry Reid had to offer Ben Nelson in order for him to sign on to the health care reform bill:

In addition to getting a sweetheart deal for his home state, Ben Nelson also got Harry Reid to offer more than the Casey abortion language in the manager’s amendment. In addition to providing stronger conscience protections for medical institutions and health workers opposed to abortion, and expanding adoption tax credits, the manager’s amendment segregates funds and gives states the option of excluding from their insurance exchanges any plans that cover abortion. In essence, that allows states to adopt the strict Stupak provisions without requiring that states do so.

I think there’s a bit of reverse psychology going on with respect to the issue of abortion.  Let’s dispense with the term anti-abortion, shall we?  Let’s call it what it really is: The movement to deny women the ability to decide for themselves whether to be parents as most persons endowed by their creators with unalienable rights have the right to do.  With anti-abortion measures, women are not just subject to the state, they are forced to recognize a religious presence in their lives whether they have faith or not.  Men do not need to recognize any faith.  They are allowed complete freedom of conscience.

In fact, a crisis of conscience is only respected when women decide to end a pregnancy.  If religious people decide to kill innocent civilians as the collateral damage in a proxy religious war halfway around the world, the rest of us still have to pay taxes for this endeavor regardless of our crisis of conscience.  If fundamentalists insist on an eye for an eye with respect to convicted murderers, even if some of those people are victims of mistaken identity, those of us who oppose capital punishment of innocent people are not allowed to segregate our tax dollars from theirs when it comes time to purchase materials for a lethal injection. One would think that their god would have more consistency when it comes to life ending procedures but for some unfathomable reason, he only objects to women doing it when it affects their own personal lives.  If that’s not the definition of inequality, I don’t know what is.   In fact, if we’re going to continue to fight about Roe v.Wade for the duration of the Republic, let’s just get rid of it now and re-decide the case based on equality instead of privacy.  Are women equal persons under the law? Do they have the unalienable right to decide for themselves if and when they will be parents? Bart Stupak, would you like to answer that question so the women of Michigan can know what they’re voting for in 2010?

This is at the bottom of Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak’s argument in favor of anti-abortion language in the proposed bills.  They feel their priesthood status in their chosen Christian faith charges them with ordering everyone’s lives according to their worldview.  Who appointed them their very narrow and specific, fundamentalist and authoritarian Judeo-Christian God’s authorities on earth?  Apparently, the people of Nebraska and a district in Michigan did.  I thought the Constitution guaranteed us no state religion but I guess the founders weren’t thinking about the extra specialness of Nebraska and a district in Michigan.  Nebraska has a population density of 23 persons/square mile and decreasing.  To put some perspective on that, New Jersey’s population density is 1,134 persons/square mile.  Now, I know that we have a new Republican governor  who could conceivably decide to impose his own conservative stamp on the health care reform act in NJ and take the Nebraska Compromise but if he does, he probably shouldn’t be surprised if women here send their friends around to break his knees.   And then they’re going to be really angry at Congressional Democrats for making it possible for a handful of religious hardasses in Nebraska to control the equal and independent women living in the crowded suburbs of New Jersey.

Look ahead, Democrats.  Do you really want to piss off more women in New Jersey?  Remember what happened to Corzine.

It’s important that we separate abortion from health care reform if for no other reason than there are buggers inside Congress that are trying so damned hard to conflate the two.  So, here’s the deal, guys.  There is no deal. We don’t like this bill.  You apologists for the Democratic party can rationalize it 6 ways to Sunday but there’s no denying that it doesn’t go far enough.  It’s not the New Deal type legislation we desperately need and everyone knows it.  It’s going to saddle a lot of people at the edge with another major expense they can’t afford to pay.  It will rob Petra to pay Paula and even though Petra and Paula are friends, Petra gets relatively little out of this deal.  We aren’t going to end up with a Canadian system, heck, we’re not even getting Germany or Switzerland.  We’re getting a uniquely American system where the middle class and everyone under it is going to be forced to buy from virtual monopolies that will join the cable companies and telecomm giants and banks in screwing them out of every disposable dollar they have.  It’s socialism for the insurance industry.

There were a multitude of permutations that would have succeeded in covering poor and sick people but the Democrats picked the one that is most likely to piss off their own constituents in the highest numbers.  Congratulations, guys.

But this abortion thing?  I gotta wonder why it wasn’t sufficient to stick the knife into health care reform without adding the agonizing poison.  You should have never even entertained Stupak and Nelson no matter how much they howled and screamed.  That’s going to come back to bite you.  And no matter how much theater comes up on the floor of the Senate during debate in the next couple of days to try to remove the amendments and compromises, taking them out is not going to make this bill smell any sweeter.  The jig is up.  We see through the distraction.

Leave the Nebraska Compromise in and you’re massively screwed next year by all of those involuntary female converts to fundamentalist Christianity and Catholicism no matter where they live.  An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

Take it out and you’re still going to alienate all of the Democrats who now have your number.  Either way, your failure to deliver a truly transformative health care reform bill is going to bite you in the ass.

Put the champagne flute down and sober up.

Update: The official talking points troll has arrived in the comments and has a message prepared in the best marketing, manipulative language the Democrats can buy.  It’s obvious that it’s prepared because the commenter didn’t really bother to read the post.  So, here is a summary for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing:

Here’s the bottom line:
If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?
The answer is never. The Democrats are shooting their wad right now on an insufficient and fatally flawed bill because they are afraid they will lose their majorities in congress in 2010.
We want to decouple abortion from this bill, not because leaving in the restrictions are abominable but because it distracts from the badness of the bill.
And don’t tell me about how non-profits have to now take care of the abortion needs of women. American women are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for this country. They deserve to be treated like independent persons with dignity and respect, not like fucking second class citizens and beggars.
The equal rights issue is going to last waaaay past the resolution of this bill. Democrats should be a lot more careful about these things. They WILL pay for it.

Addendum: We need to dump Roe v. Wade. All it has ever done is empower the religious right and allows both parties to use it as a political football.  It is time for the country to decide once and for all whether women are equal persons under the law entitled to equal pay, equal rights and the equal ability to decide if they are going to be parents.  Dump the damn POS.  Put the politicians of both parties on the hotseat and make them defend their primitive inequitable treatment of women. Repeat after me: “I will not support any politician who invokes Roe v. Wade in order to get my vote.”

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Why is Health Care Reform Being Held Hostage by a Fundamentalist Cult?

300px-Bart_Stupak_official_109th_Congress_photo

Bart Stupak

No, I don’t mean the Catholic Church. I mean the super-secret, ultra-creepy fundamentalist sect that calls itself

“the Family,” or “the Fellowship,” and they consider themselves a “core” of men responsible for changing the world. “Hitler, Lenin, and many others understood the power of a small core of people,” instructs a document given to an inner circle, explaining the scope, if not the ideological particulars, of the ambition members of the avant-garde are to cultivate.

That’s a quote from the introduction to Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Early this morning I learned from Jeff Sharlet’s piece in Salon that the two men responsible for the Stupak amendendment–Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA)–are both members of the Family and both live in the group’s C-Street residence. These two nutty fetus fetishists are trying to end abortion in this country by making sure that insurance companies will stop covering this essential and perfectly legal medical procedure.

I’ve been obsessing on this news all day long while trying to concentrate on writing an exam. As hard as it is for me to accept, I now have to face the face that the forces of theocracy not only control of the Republican Party, but also they are well on the way to taking over the Democratic party.

Sharlet writes:

American women will pay the price for the Democratic dithering that allowed Saturday’s passage of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, a worm virus inserted into the House healthcare reform bill with surgical precision. But the Democratic Party will suffer collateral damage.

Stupak-Pitts isn’t just “the biggest restriction on women’s right to choose in our generation,” as Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado puts it; it’s also evidence that on abortion the Democratic Party is now captive, just like the GOP, to Christian conservatism. Of course, Republicans traded away their party’s moderate wing for real electoral gains, a base that propelled them to power for decades. The Democrats, already in power, sucker-punched themselves, and all they have to show for it is a big fat shiner in the shape of Bart Stupak’s knuckles.

Sharlet thinks it’s unlikely that Stupak and Pitts came up with their plan on their own. The Family supposedly doesn’t directly try to influence political policies–they just offer support, guidance and powerful connections to their followers.

Pitts

Joseph Pitts

Which raises the question: Who’s pulling whom? Did backbencher Bart Stupak really come up with the bluff that led pro-choice Democrats to abandon not one but two compromises, one of which Stupak himself seemed to be signing off on earlier this summer? Or was it Pitts, an abortion-wars warrior since the 1970s, and a longtime leader of the House Values Action Team — an off-the-record caucus of religious right organizations and members of Congress — who drew up the blueprint?

Neither Stupak nor Pitts is talking. Of course, if they just keep quiet, the press will pin it on the bishops — who, to be fair, are more than happy to take credit. That version of events neglects the role of relationships forged within the evangelical context of the Family — a group founded in the spirit of virulent anti-Catholicism, and which maintains to this day that being Catholic brings you no closer to Christ than being Jewish or a Muslim — and the growing evangelical movement within the Democratic Party. A source close to the Faith Table, a gathering of ostensibly progressive Christians gathering of ostensibly progressive Christians helmed by evangelical leader Jim Wallis, notes that the group has been agitating for Stupak-Pitts for months, with Wallis declaring Stupak-Pitts the most important vote of the year.

May I remind you that Jim Wallis was a major supporter of President Obama and is one of his close “spiritual advisers?”

Terri Gross did an interview with Jeff Sharlet last summer. You can listen to it here and read an excerpt from Sharlet’s book if you’re interested. I heard that Rachel Maddow covered this story last night, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video.

What is happening to our country? Is there any way to turn it around?

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Health Care Reform Bill Open Thread

House%20II

Right now the House is debating the Health Care Reform bill. I’m listening to C-Span right now. If anyone else has been following the debate, please post your observations and reactions in this thread. According to Chris Bowers at Open Left, the only amendment that is being debated today is the Stupak amendment which bans people who get any government help in paying for their health insurance from getting coverage for abortion services.

According to Bowers, no progressive House members are blocking the amendment because of “Obama reassurances.” Bowers writes:

no pro-choice Democrats have threatened to vote against the bill as a result of this. Apparently, this is because of a rumor going around Congress that President Obama promised Henry Waxman that he will “personally” work to remove the language in conference. I feel so reassured.

Bowers says Bart Stupak (D-MI) is “taunting” progressives, claiming he has the votes to pass the amendment no matter what they do. On top of that the Catholic Bishops have endorsed the bill.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops delivered a critical endorsement to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions.

Who is in charge here anyway?!

Ezra Klein on the Stupak deal:

The final compromises before a bill comes to the floor are never very pretty. This one, however, is worse than I anticipated. Opposition from anti-abortion Democrats, driven in large part by aggressive activism from the Catholic Church, forced Democratic leadership to allow a vote on Bart Stupak’s amendment limiting elective abortion coverage from both private and public insurers on the exchange. It reads:

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

Because of the limits placed on the exchanges, most of the participants will have some form of premium credit or affordable subsidy. That means most will be ineligible for abortion coverage. The idea that people are going to go out and purchase separate “abortion plans” is both cruel and laughable. If this amendment passes, it will mean that virtually all women with insurance through the exchange who find themselves in the unwanted and unexpected position of needing to terminate a pregnancy will not have coverage for the procedure. Abortion coverage will not be outlawed in this country. It will simply be tiered, reserved for those rich enough to afford insurance themselves or lucky enough to receive from their employers.

Please post what you know and what you think in the comments. Thank you!

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