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The first (and possibly last time) I have ever agreed with ThereIsNoSpoon

David Adkins, aka ThereIsNoSpoon, tells it like it is on the contraception debate at Digby’s Hullabaloo:

These things don’t happen by accident. The conservative establishment decided early on that this was going to be a hill for them to die on. They weren’t forced to die on that hill. They could have let the Bishops stand alone. But they didn’t. They decided to run this ball all the way down the court.

And guess what? As Digby points out, it’s working. What just a few weeks ago was considered so mainstream as to an afterthought (providing contraception) is now seen as some sort of controversial touchstone, even as “religious freedom” has become a buzzword in the press.

Democrats can high-five one another about Republican overreach and laugh hysterically at the increased number of votes Barack Obama will receive in 2012 over Mitt Santorum. But ultimately the joke’s on us. It’s been on us ever since the Obama Administration decided to concede an inch to the misogynist conspiracy of extremist fanatics that are the Bishops, rather than mock them immediately for being out of touch with their own flock, to say nothing of the mainstream American public.

The political ground on contraception has suddenly shifted to the right faster than I have seen on any social issue in my lifetime. It’s incredible.

I think my tinfoil antenna were picking up the “Religious Liberty” meme a couple of months ago (damn, I really should be more thorough with tags) and wondered what the heck the Republicans were up to.  For some strange reason I thought it would have something to do with Faith Based Initiatives or something like that.  Definitely, this was going to be The Big Deal during the 2012 election season, The Wedge Issue of the Year.  Who knew it would take the form of a War on Contraception?

When are Democrats going to realize that the Republicans have a crack operation of skilled psychmetricians and marketing people who have have done expert data analysis and have strategized the best way to get their voters to the polls in November?  Democrats SUCK at this.  Yes, all you Kool-Aid addled Obots, Barack Obama didn’t win because he was some kind of wonderful.  He won because part of the Republican war machine got behind him in 2008 to take out the real Democrat.  He’s a fricking one-off.  His election was historic and that was the wedge issue of 2008.  Now, he’s no longer historic.  He’s just a lousy president.

So, while the feminists are justifiably tearing their hair out over the loss of more bodily autonomy, let’s examine why this is such a phenomenally successful wedge issue.  First, Obama and his entourage went on a rampage in 2008 and slashed and burned their way through the Democratic base.  Misogyny went unchecked and even gained a foothold.  Congratulations Democratic party!  You’ve just made a substantial portion of your base second class citizens.  Any woman who jumped on this bandwagon seeing a ticket to ride to the top of the access list should really have her head examined and none of us should be forced to listen to her or read about her anymore.  For damn sure, she should not be sitting on panels in places like the local branch of NOW in Kansas.   (H/T Katiebird)

It goes without saying, even though some women are apparently dumber than a box of rocks, that women should NEVER put their own interests second to the political ambitions of any man.  No, no, no.  Not until we have achieved full equality, which means not for the forseeable future. If you have an opportunity to vote for a reasonable woman, even if you do not agree with her 100%, you should vote for her if she represents your interests as a woman and is willing to fight for your equality. Your focus should be on what she will do for women because we are the majority of citizens in this country and what is best for us, tends to be best for everyone else as well.  You should not be distracted by someone else’s priorities and unless she is personally leading the convoy into Baghdad on the top of a tank like some modern day Boudicca, her views on war should be put into the same context as other candidates. In the future, I hope that women will hold each other accountable for maintaining unity.  Any stepping out of line should be met with swift and thorough correction.  We need to be a voting bloc to be feared, uncompromising and retributive.  Let’s learn from the Christian coalition playbook, shall we?

And let’s dispense with the idea that the Republicans are ignorant of the scientific method.  What did the Republicans learn by observation from 2008?  They learned that Barack Obama is a self centered, ambitious guy.  He’s a guy who doesn’t have any particular interest in women’s rights.  His fealty is to the banking class.  That’s who’s footing the bills.  Unfortunately for Obama (and this is what makes him such a lousy politician), he still needs women he’s been blowing off in order to win.  He needs their votes.  He doesn’t need banker votes because there aren’t enough of them to make a substantial dent in the electoral college. And what do bankers care about contraception?  Do they even have an opinion?  No.  The only people who really care about contraception are the conservatives and Obama’s not going to get their votes anyway, unless he intends to kiss up to them. And the only reason he would bow to their votes would be if he was intending to blow off his base and go right.

This is where we are.  Obama had a choice.  He could either stick up for women’s equality and bodily autonomy and tell the religious they were being intrusive.  Or he could try to be all things to all people and hope that the bishops would negotiate with him in good faith so he could grab the religious while keeping the women relatively quiet.  Remember, this is no-drama Obama we’re talking about.  He’s not into confrontation.  He prefers quiet little negotiation sessions where no one raises their voices and everything is on the table- because that’s worked so well in negotiations on our behalf with the bankers in the recent past {{rolling eyes}}.

(Note to loyal Democrats: Once you experience the “Pain of Independence“, you’ll never be able to look at Obama in the same way again. The nausea and disorientation can be alarming but your perspective will change and you will be almost desperate to get him out of the Oval Office.)

The Republicans see this as passivity, which it is.  In the corporate world, we have management training courses on personal power and dynamics.  The facilitator would describe Obama’s modus operandi as a losing strategy.  Imagine there is a passive-aggressive scale from 1-10 with passive on the lower end and aggressive on the higher end.  To be truly effective as a negotiator, you should stay in the sweet spot of 5-7.  A 4 or below is too passive; 7 and above is too aggressive.  Ideally, both parties want to stay in the sweet spot.  But if you normally operate as a 4 and your opponent is at 7, you need to go up to level 7 to be effective.  If he goes to 8, you need to go to 8.  He has to see that you’re not backing down so that he must in order to strike a deal.

The problem with Republicans is that they are always at level 8.  And if you don’t come right back and smash them at 8 or above, they’ll escalate.  We are now at escalation.  They’ve gone to 11 and Obama et al are at level 5.  Great, just great.

That’s why ThereIsNoSpoon is disconcerted by the way Republicans have dominated this issue.  They went from 8 to 11 and now anything Obama does is going to look defensive.  If he had come out swinging in the first couple of days and told the Republicans that they were setting new precedent and moving the goalpost back on women’s rights and he, Obama, was not going to yield on contraception unless Jesus tapdancin’ Christ came down personally to negotiate on behalf of the bishops, he would have ruled the day and even *I* might have had some kind of grudging respect for him.

But he’s a baaaaaaad politician.  Craven, selfish, indifferent, calculating and a poor decision maker with equally bad political consultants.  So, now, the idea that a religious institution can have a say over whether or not you get birth control when 98% of its own adherents ignore said religious institution’s very clear, very unambiguous proscriptions against it, suddenly, that idea looks pretty reasonable.  Americans don’t tend to think these things through very carefully these days because they are overwhelmed with personal and financial obligations, so they rely on the media to tell them what’s going on.  Obama managed to be so ineffective at stopping the meme through his own inept handling of the matter that the right wing noise machine’s religious liberty meme is just hitting its stride.  It’s going to be repeated and repeated and repeated until it seems normal until suddenly, women will start having a devil of a time getting their prescriptions filled without some byzantine procedure.

And let’s not forget that the only people who really care about denying people contraceptives are highly conservative seniors and their church hierarchy.  No one else gives a damn.  The wedge issue is just a clever way for Republicans to separate a few more women’s votes from Obama when they realize that, once again, he threw them under a bus and doesn’t seem to understand how much harder he has made their lives.  In the meantime, the religious right will think they’re being persecuted (oh PLEEZE) and will have a very good reason to show up at the polls this November to toss the Democrats out on their asses.

Now, I could be wrong about this but I don’t think that there is anyway *this* president is going to be able to fix this particular issue at this point in time.  He may go on to win as a result of some other catastrophe but he’s lost the edge he had on the contraceptive issue.  Maybe another player will be able to change this around but not Obama.  So, the Democrats better have something else up their sleeves or the Republicans will eat their lunch.

Just because they don’t like their present candidates doesn’t mean the Republicans can’t get their voters spitting nails by November.  And Democrats shouldn’t count on independent liberals to save their bacon at the last minute.  We’ve got our eyes on a different prize these days.  We’ll just sit on the sidelines and watch the bloodbath.  We’re into solving problems and this election isn’t going to solve any problems.  If I were the Democrats, I might have curbed the impulse to squash OWS and women and ignore the unemployed for so long.

And don’t look now but the Republicans are going to turn off the gas spigot this summer and stop UI bennies in September.  If the Democrats had stored up some goodwill over the past four years, the impending pain and chaos wouldn’t look so horrible.  But they didn’t and it will.  If I were them, I’d pass on the White House and work like madmen to elect new faces to Congress.


More of Titli’s Busy Kitchen.  This recipe is for Caramel Shortbread.  Stick with it.

35 Responses

  1. riverdaughter; I respect your view on political issues more than any other former democrat (because of how you responded right after the election) and i completely understand you position on obama and respect it. but I have to say that on this particular issue, It is hard for me to believe that you would have stayed in his corner on this issue if he stood his ground. When this all started you thought what he did was just a ploy; no one gave him no credit for the effort on contraception in religious organizations. So why would you support him if he stayed with his original position if his original position was just a political ploy? Everything you say about Obama may be true; and I would agree with you about his shady political efforts to a degree. But we should never forget what the republicans are trying to do here which is turn back the clock on an issue that was settled a long time ago. BOTH of them (republicans and democrats) appear to be using this issue as a political football. Even as former democrats you should never forget what the republicans are capable of. 2008 wasn’t the only bad year; don’t forget what they did in 2004 and 2000.

    • What are you talking about??
      The only reason Republicans are doing what they’re doing is because it works for them. They’re a political party. Their job is to win elections. The way they win elections is by motivating their base. They have decided to corral all of the people who are reactionary conservatives under their tent and pander to them slavishly.
      Let’s get a couple things clear that should help us assess what’s going on and what our reaction should be:
      1.) There is a difference between what a party and its constituents.
      2.) If rolling women’s rights back to the Bronze age helps Republicans win, they’ll do it. It’s nothing personal.
      3.) We have to stop being so fucking aggrieved by whatever the Republicans do to get elected. Bullies do what they do because they think they can get away with it. Once you step up to them and punch them in the kisser, they stop doing it.
      4.) No one loves you more than you love yourself. Do not *ever* expect a party to protect your rights. It’s up to YOU to do that. And you do that by electing people who have the same concerns that you have who stick to their principles. And then you have to force them to be accountable by threatening to withhold your vote if they don’t deliver. Other than that, I think that women should learn to take care of their own business without reference to the political system so that it can never ever have a hold on them.
      5.) I would have grudgingly respected Obama if he had punched the beanie boys over contraception but honestly? I had no expectation that he would do so. It’s not his nature and he’s trying to appeal to the same bloc of voters that conservatives are going for. Having respect for his principled defense of one issue (which he didn’t do anyway) would hardly have turned me into an Obot. He’s sucked on so many other things that supporting him at this point is something only brainless people do.

  2. Obama occasionally does something right. After all, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. For a brief moment, after he makes one of those rare decisions or Santorum/Gingrich/Romney makes one of their frighteningly fascist statements, I reconsider my decision to never vote for Obama under any circumstances. Then, usually, Obama folds and I lose the urge to reconsider my decision.

    Elected Democrats, for the most part, do not seem to be interested in doing anything except keep their cushy jobs. I intend to work for and contribute to the few who are taking it to the Republicans including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren. I can’t trust Obama to defend women’s rights or keep us out of war with Iran, so, if he’s going to win, it will be without my vote.

    A Santorum presidency will keep Ruth Bader Ginsburg alive until she’s a hundred years old. I simply can’t vote for Democrats, en masse, as they become further and further away from representing my interests just because the next president might be able to name a US Supreme Court justice. That, in itself, feels like a form of slavery.

    If you want my vote, work for it.

  3. Understood riverD. but couldn’t the same be said about the democrats in general and Obama in particular? The fact that they are political parties acting in their own best interest? Everything you said maker perfect sense to me; and I agree with it. I just think people need to know the true nature of ALL of their enemies; not just the ones they are most angry at and fight them all with the same energy and effort.

    • Ok, here’s my theory: the American electorate has not picked their president since 1996. Pretty soon, they won’t be able to pick their congress people either.
      I think Democrats have been reacting. The party is a mess. Right now, a lot of Democrats are compromised by money and some others figure that they need to go right to get voters. They should think about whether this worked for them in 2010.
      There may be a few candidates here and there who still want to win as Democrats but they are rare. The party destroyed itself in 2008 and now we have two flavors of right politics: truly evil rightwing Republicans and moderate, craven rightwing Democrats
      If you don’t like those choices, there are others. Have some courage and pick one.
      This is going to be the year when the US takes a giant leap backwards economically and socially. It looks increasingly more likely to happen. There is no effective backstop to the conservatives. They own both parties. The only thing that can stop it is a major event of some kind. Either a new person has to jump in or the bottom has to fall out of the market.
      That’s where we are.

    • Exactly, obama is acting in *his* own best interest and expecting that we will be voting for him anyway because the republicans (as they actually ‘pander and deliver’ to the Christian base) are so super scary.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if obama could figure out how to ‘pander AND DELIVER’? Hell, if any of them would?

      See, the problem is thinking that progressives are the base. If we are not Bank$ters, we are not the ba$e. Neither liberals or progressives have representation at this point because it was sold to the highest bidder.

      The Christian right still has representation and so does business – no matter who wins.

  4. What about my religious freedom as a woman who is not Catholic? Why should I have to bow down to a bunch of old men who’s leader is head of a foreign city-state. This is the injection of a foreign state into U.S. law and interference with our freedoms under our constitution within our borders.

    • As long as it only affects women and it can be mansplained as birth control interferes with natural function where viagra actually restores function… yeah – those are crickets you hear.

      • If they want to call it religious freedom to take away rights of women we should fight back for our religious freedom. Call it women’s religious freedom from a foreign power. I have my own religious beliefs and I don’t need theirs.

        • Then YOU need to go to the Reason Rally in Washington, DC on March 24. It’s not just for atheists. It’s for anyone who wants to preserve our secular government.

    • Take it up with your feminist organizations. I’m not unsympathetic -at all. In fact, I have a lot to woory about. I have two daughters and the youngest just turned 16.
      But we are at war with conservatives right now and we can’t afford to act like fricking victims. We are not.
      We are combatants. Now, let’s start thinking like an army.

  5. I’m reading this whole “debate” as concocted by both the Democrats and Republicans….it’s just the new version of you’d better vote for the D/R for the sake of the nasty lady parts…it used to be about the Supreme Court, but they’ve changed it up because we’ve already said, “screw them, they always scare us with SC”. So, instead, they’re scaring us with this.

  6. If you put the number of Fundamentalist Loons at 30% the republican party has to do two things to win the White House, appeal to the Independent voters (not gonna happen) or depress the Democratic voter turn out. They must be thinking they died and went to heaven because Obama has been helping them out with that second option. But he couldn’t do it alone, he has help from the other two stooges, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

    It’s a toss-up as to who leads the Shit Head Brigade, Democratic Congress members or O-bots.

    • There’s another group you haven’t considered. The suburbanites who have lost their jobs, haven’t seen any help from the federal government to implement stop gap jobs and are losing their status in the middle class. The issue will be taxes. For example, NJ has incredibly high property taxes. You could almost afford to live here on a reduced salary but for the property taxes. And they have gone up recently. People in NJ vote for Republicans when the previous Democrat failed to deliver on tax relief. Now, with so many of us out of work, one of two things has to happen: we have to have jobs to pay the taxes so we can keep our families intact or we have to have real tax relief. Obama may not be responsible for the local tax problem but he will get blamed for allowing so many suburbanites slip out of the middle class.
      And remember, a payroll tax cut of 2% doesn’t mean diddly to someone who doesn’t have a paycheck.

      • Last time I was laid off the feds took taxes out of my UC check, they still do that?

        That and the COBRA payments were so high I had to do without.

        We have arrived in Bizarro World when conservative talk radio hosts are accusing Obama of killing off Social Security with his payroll tax reduction. But then he is a closet republican in that and many other respects.

        • You can opt to have the feds take taxes out of the UI benefit. I did because I didn’t want to get stuck with a bill later.
          Yes, COBRA is ridiculous. It’s $967/month for me and the kid. But in my case, I *can’t* do without. If I’m not covered, neither is she. That’s the way my employer set it up. Her dad helps pay for this but I still get stuck with the bulk of the cost. I could put her on SCHIP except that her dad probably makes slightly too much for her to qualify. He doesn’t have his own health insurance policy. It’s too expensive.
          Yes, it sucks. From my severance benefits, I have already paid more in taxes than I will receive in UI benefits and the Tea Party nutcases are still screaming.

          • It needs to be repeated, if Obama was a real Democrat:

            Those collecting UC benefits would be excused from paying taxes due to the high unemployment situation and the dim prospects of the economy coming back any time soon.

            The unemployed would be allowed to join Medicaid and their minor children SCHIP’s.

            Obama-care would be scrapped for single payer basic with insurance companies pick up optional coverage. In Canada everybody has basic coverage managed by the provinces and buys or has as a benefit dental and vision.

            But as we all know he was a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street until they got what they wanted. The rising gas prices are a sing of regime change. the republicans are being allowed back in to institute another round of deregulation and rent seeking for Corporate America and Big Oil.

          • In Pa you can not have to high an income for your child to qualify for the CHIP program. If you ever have to move and can move to PA,it might be a good alternative. I guess the basic premise is that if your child is not insured for whatever reasons, they want your child insured no questions asked.

  7. Here’s the great thing for Obama: he had a bit of a woman problem.

    Now he doesn’t.

    It’s the Roe stick all over again — only this time they’re letting the bishops deploy it.

    How many women who might have voted for someone else in protest at Obama’s casual retrograde sexism, his betrayals and compromise will now see him — again — as the necessary lesser of two evils and vote for him because the Republicans, once again, are just so evil.

    Really, this whole circus has been a real win-win, for both male Dems and male Republicans.

    Women get trampled in the process, but what else is new?

    • Sorry, not buying it. This is just the latest assault in a long line of assaults stretching over the last four years. It does not feel like he’s holding the line- at all.
      Even for the women who aren’t paying all that much attention, the atmosphere is palpably shifted. He’s just been are truly, truly awful president. What has happened since he took office was entirely predictable and because we knew in advance how the Republicans would play it, it comes as even more of a shock that the Democrats were not better prepared.
      Time to leave them to their own devices.

  8. I heard Boies explain a long list of legal rights in place for women,,,employment issue, etc. and then Obama doesn’t use any of these facts to press the case against the religious shitheads. Ah, but remember, he was endorsed by the Matthew 25 (?) in 2008 and also pandered to all the ministers with the big media arms.

    Hell, the Democrats should be holding a press conference with the law student who was refused permission to speak on the friggin’ Capitol steps!! I saw her on Ed Schultz and she told the story of a friend who lost her fertility due to not being to finally afford the birth control pills after months of having to shell out because Georgetown won’t allow access…even for HEALTH reasons….because they’re so “religious” and “pro-life” a woman now has destroyed ovaries and can’t have children. They SUCK!

    Someone said it correctly above…you begin to think you may be able to support him on a few things, then he turns around and caves AGAIN on something like women’s rights.

    Now we hear that states like Missouri and Arizona are gearing up to pass laws like the Blunt Amendment..so even secular employers can just decide not to offer insurance for ANYTHING if they have a “moral twitch.” All to attack Obamacare…er, Romneycare…er the damned REPUBLICAN health plan from the Heritage Foundation. And, remember, many of the birth control protections were passed by Republican legislatures…and conveniently, they are now AGAINST what they were FOR just a short while ago…

    What pigs..and Obama is one of them, too.

    I ranted at Udall’s office even before the latest turn of events…I think I’ll call Maloney or Boxer next week and yell about getting out there on the Capitol steps..l..

    For Chrissakes, OPEN YOUR MOUTHS SOME MORE…The CNN text didn’t mention the fact that the 2 women the Thugs allowed to talk were religious “reps” not women with REAL LIFE CONCERNS….

  9. P.S….and why no mention about the RAPE going on in Virginia ….unecessary penetration before you can have an abortion..

    Reminds me of Nazis..or maybe those syphilis outrages on blacks years ago.

  10. Perhaps the best solution to the malignant positions of the Catholic Church and the Religious Right would be the following. Since the Catholic Church suggests the Rhythm System, which anyone with the brains of a Pea Pod understands is highly unreliable, is the only method of birth control a woman can use. The church also promotes abstinence for the unwed. I say women should take a page out of the classical Greek play LYSISTRATA. In his play Aristophanes has Greek women engaged in abstinence to encourage their mates to end a war. I cannot help to imagine what would happen if women used this as a tool to stop this obscene attack on women’s control over their own bodies and lives. I cannot wonder how Ricky S would like it if Mrs. S exiled him to sexual abstinence.In the meantime the Catholic Bishops should consentrate their efforts on not covering up those priests who fancy altar boys.

  11. pass the ERA.now!!!!! 🙂

  12. I don’t like the idea of making women run on what is best for women. Unless they are lunatics I assume they have women’s best interests at heart. I don’t think they have to talk about it. I am not looking forward to a woman’s ghetto in the senate or congress made up of “women’s issues politicians”. Let’s just vote for women because they are women and it is time we were half the power.
    I have voted for an awful lot of frogs based on the fact that at least then the democratic frogs would have the majority. I think switching to voting for great women and some not so great women, based on the fact that at least we would have mostly women is a perfectly good alternative. I do believe the 30 percent solution works.
    We will get women who we disagree with on many things, but we already have those politicians in the male form and I believe that when it comes down to it, women will be an improvement. Let’s not cripple them by making them run as some women’s auxiliary.

    • Maybe not a ghetto but a quota? Oh, yeah, I’m all for that. Several countries have implemented a quota of women representatives.
      I can already hear the screams about how unfair a quota system would be but that’s just bullshit. Until the number of women in either house comes up to 33%, there should be a quota. Otherwise, women will be perennially underrepresented and overruled on everything, not just stuff important to women.
      I still can’t get over the fact that the state of NJ has 13 representatives and two senators and not one of them is a woman. We haven’t had a woman representative to Congress for decades. That’s shameful. We have more people per square mile in this state than any other in the nation and not one female rep? Like there isn’t one woman in the state of NJ who is capable of going to Congress? It just defies belief.

      • well, in my best case scenario, women just get pissed off and band together and vote for women across party lines. We wouldn’t need quotas.
        I hear you about the reps from NJ. That is beyond sad. It is infuriating. Where are the women willing to put it all on the line and run for office? Are politics that dirty in NJ? I imagine the sexism is way out of hand.

        • I’m afraid that history shows that we can’t count on a legislature that is 83% male to think of the ladies. It may not be enough to vote for women exclusively, we may have to have districts where there is no other choice but a woman.

  13. Quotas always seem to get some people upset and riled up (especially republicans) be they gender or racial based. In fact the country seems to be moving away from gender and race quotas all over the country. But maybe they are still needed for a time in some areas.

  14. By Occam’s razor: Obama’s doing what he believes in.

    • Occam’s razor, could be true…or not. It’s still a coin toss.
      But I think it is a very good chance he is doing what he believes or at least what he believes will get women all riled up and get them to vote. When women vote democrats win.

    • If what he wants is getting reflected by assembling a diverse set of voters, appealing to their self interests and failing to put together a coherent political philosophy by which to govern, then yes, I agree.

  15. Marcotte is disgusting. Obama’s contraceptive “comprise” is well to the right of positions expressly taken by Satan himself–i.e., Richard M. Nixon–and all she and the rest of Obama’s patsies can do is cheer and gloat about how clever their he-ro is. Ugh.

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