Rush to judgement

by Steve, March 7th, 2012

Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. –Margaret Atwood

When you put it in that light (and as a man, I can assure you the first half is true), it’s not hard to imagine why the altogether reasonable Sandra Fluke making the altogether reasonable case for the inclusion of contraception in health care would send Rush Limbaugh into a three-day conniption fit.

Rush, after all, is a walking, stumpy, flacid little dick who needs Viagra to get it up (prescribed in somebody else’s name, because he’s ashamed of his emasculated state). He’s a hypocritical drug addict and a know-nothing blowhard, who is so freaked out by a confident, independent, well-educated woman speaking up in a public forum, he nearly wets himself trying to discredit her, ultimately resorting to puerile name-calling and bizarre, perverted innuendo.

But Limbaugh is the least of our concerns; just a distraction, really.

It was the Catholic Church, with all their medieval misogyny and repressed sexuality on display, that first emerged to challenge the president on his altogether reasonable requirement that private employers provide comprehensive health insurance policies to their employees. It was Obama who entertained this outrageous challenge from the other side of the bright constitutional line, and offered a compromise. It was the Catholic Church again which expressed its dissatisfaction with Obama’s compromise. (To his credit, Obama refused to give more.)

It was GOP congressman Darrel Issa who called on 10 men, five of them clergy representing retrograde religious institutions, to testify as experts about women’s health policy, and refused to let Sandra Fluke testify… on the grounds that she wasn’t qualified to speak about women’s health policy.

No, this isn’t about Rush Limbaugh. This is about systematic attacks on the most basic advancements of women’s rights over the past 50 years. This is about the rump of the old guard, who want women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, under the control of their husbands.

The Catholic Church is at the vanguard of these attacks (small wonder), but it’s the GOP, in the throes of an existential identity crisis, that’s seizing the moment. It’s the endangered white male all over again, positively panicked at the reality of waning influence unfolding before them.

It will backfire on them, of course. The GOP base is a rapidly shrinking demographic, and no amount of pandering to it can reverse inexorable demographic trends.

It already has backfired on Rush. Varying accounts put the number of major advertisers who have pulled support of his show at as many as 36. His show may or may not survive. No big deal either way.

But for Republicans, who still need at least a few women to vote for them, alienating half the voting public is a very bad move. There’s a lot of schadenfreude to be gleaned as GOP presidential contenders fall all over themselves trying to out-caveman one another, but the unfortunate side effect is that we actually have to publicly re-litigate matters that we thought were settled in, say 1972.

Contraception is not radical to most Americans, even if it is to regressive religious organizations some of them affiliate with. Most citizens of the industrialized world have easy access to it, and it is not a source of the slightest controversy. As a matter of public policy, it leads to lower overall health care costs and a higher standard of living for all citizens when women are provided with the means to control their reproductive destiny.

This is not a matter for the Catholic Church — an organization which has repeatedly shielded child rapists; contributed to countless AIDS deaths with its prohibition on condoms; brought us not one, but four Inquisitions; and which still seems to yearn for a repeal of the Age of Enlightenment — to weigh in on. For them to play this as an attack on their religious liberty is cynical to say the least, as they aggressively try to assert their dominion over the constitutional rule of law.

We can only hope that all this bluster is a last gasp of dead-enders, and a clarion call for women to repudiate the toxic brew that passes for political discourse these days. We’ve come too far to revert to naked phallocracy.

Kook fight!

by Steve, November 10th, 2009

Wherein Loaded Orygun’s “torridjoe” calls Blue Oregon’s Kari Chisolm “a condescending dick.”

In the department of unintentional hilarity, this is one of the best entries I’ve read on local blogs recently. Chisholm, whose Blue Oregon blog is a de facto organ for the Democratic Party of Oregon, makes his living selling Web sites to politicians and shills for them on his own blog and others. One well-placed source told me, “The nicest thing I can say about him is he’s a political hack with an over-inflated ego.”

“Torridjoe,” who himself (sarcastically) describes his low-traffic blog as “Tumble Weed Hotel,” works for the City of Portland, and shamelessly defends every cockamamie scheme his bosses on city council come up with, on pretty much every blog in town that dares question them (including this one, and my other one).

Both these guys are mainstream party guys, actively trading in access and influence (or trying to), and they both like to assert their political relevance. It’s pretty funny to see them mud wrestling about the minutiae of health care policy. Especially when it starts getting personal.

Torridjoe: “…I’m sure it’s jarring to step away from Blue Oregon and visit blogs that don’t blindly and vacantly cheer for the Democratic brand no matter way [sic].”

(Much kvetching about the details of various “public option” health care plans, none of which would do what only single payer can do: cover everybody for less money than we spend today.)

Chisholm: “Off-topic, but absolutely fascinating: Since October 29, when you posted the above comment, there’s been exactly two comments on all of Loaded Orygun. Some ‘community’ you’ve got going.”

Torridjoe: “you’re kind of a condescending dick, aren’t you? At least, your ‘my blog’s dick is bigger than yours’ barb at the end of your comment would suggest so. It sure would be nice to have my business subsidize my blog project like yours does (not so nice to have my blog topics beholden to keeping my business as yours is, but I guess that’s the price you pay), but those of us who have to squeeze in time on it at the end of all other responsibilities are not blessed with that luxury. In any case, I think I’d prefer a few rational comments to the stream of idiocy often prevalent at BlueO. But hey, thanks for slumming down at the Tumbleweed Hotel with us.”


Footnote: what’s a kook fight?

Back in the days of USENET (if you don’t know, don’t ask), I used to enjoy trolling the alt.paranormal groups for entertainment. There would always be a cadre of remarkably credulous and humor-challenged “kooks,” who, when not defending their absurd beliefs against the “kook hunters,” would occasionally get into arguments amongst themselves. That’s a “kook fight.” There were also “kook reach-arounds,” wherein they’d give props to one another and circle the wagons against their detractors. (You could probably find a torridjoe/Kari Chisholm reach around if you searched hard enough.)

All good fun while waiting for compiles to complete at work. Not much substance, but it’s all archived at Google, for what it’s worth (i.e. nothing).

Oh, er, shit, does this make me a condescending dick?

We are all socialists

by Steve, September 10th, 2009

Fear mongering about socialism in America would be comical if it weren’t so damned frightening. What can the rest of the world think of us?

We spend twice as much per capita on health care, and still have tens of millions without access to basic, preventive care. Why do we pay so much and get so little? We’re the only industrialized nation on the planet without government-run universal health care.

The free market has failed miserably to provide this basic service of modern life anywhere nearly as efficiently and completely as the governments of every other industrialized democracy on Earth.

Those who bleat about “socialism” should pause and consider that insurance, after all, shares some very basic tenets with socialism, like shared responsibility for the greater common good. Moreover, the so-called free market would collapse without the socialized infrastructure that supports it. Take, for instance:

  • Our virtually 100% publicly-owned and maintained road system, from city streets to interstate highways
  • The air traffic control system
  • The self-funded, surprisingly efficient US Postal Service
  • Our public schools (lord knows I’ve had some criticisms of our local system, but it beats the alternative)
  • Public colleges and universities
  • A multitude of public water and sewerage systems
  • Many local public power systems and the federally-regulated national power grid
  • Federal unemployment insurance
  • Federal subsidy of an inadequately low minimum wage (the earned income tax credit)
  • And, of course, on-demand bailouts of the private financial system, whenever it gets itself into a pickle

Then of course there are all those horrible socialist “extras” like:

  • Libraries
  • Parks
  • Rec centers
  • Concert halls
  • Theatres
  • Art galleries
  • Mass transit

That’s right, folks, if you use any of those things (and you’d have to live off-grid in the wilderness to avoid them), you benefit from “socialism.” Has it taken away your freedom? Isn’t all government bad? Perhaps you should try living in Somalia for a while to experience the true libertarian paradise of no government. Don’t forget to pack your AK.

Two of the most popular government programs in the history of our nation are Social Security and Medicare. The only complaints are that they may become underfunded, and Medicare doesn’t cover enough. But nobody complains about inefficiency.

The single easiest thing we could do to solve our health care crisis (not just kick it down the road a few years) is to go to a single payer system like the rest of the industrialized world. Expand Medicare to cover all citizens, paid for with a payroll tax as it is today. Yes, your medicare tax would go up, but you would no longer have an insurance premium. Worst case, it would be a wash, but more likely, your out of pocket expenses would go down as we eliminate a significant amount of overhead currently going to duplication of administrative services, profit, and executive compensation.

The fact that this simple, efficient and cost-effective solution isn’t on the table is indicative of the power the insurance industry has over President Obama and Congress. The fact that so many Americans fear even a modest expansion of public health insurance is indicative of not only American provincialism, but also of the dearth of real news reporting that goes beyond repeating the industry message.

Single payer rally and march

by Steve, June 22nd, 2009
  • Wednesday, June 24th, 11:45 am
  • Federal Building, 1220 SW 3rd Ave., Portland

Come help tell Senator Wyden we want everybody in and nobody out!

Gather at the Federal Building (1220 SW 3rd Ave) at 11:45 to hear doctors, nurses and patients speak about our broken health care system and how we can fix it!

We will be highlighting the huge campaign contributions from the medical industrial complex to Senator Wyden, and demanding that he represent his constituents. The majority of the American people believe that the best solution to our health care crisis is to get the insurance companies out of the way by creating a single payer system. We will then march to the Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield office at SW 2nd and Market to highlight Regence’s campaign contributions to Senator Wyden and their outrageous rate increases over the last two years.

For more information contact Margaret Butler at Jobs with Justice: