"World Party" - The Waterboys
Well it's got nothing to do with anything that is real
You just believe in it and it's true
- This article in the New York Times today (pointed out by Paula in comments) is yet another example of how the tea party types are the spiritual heirs to the American right wingers who inspired Richard Hofstadter's essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It's kind of a chilling read -- these crazy bastards out in the hinterlands fighting against everything from smart meters on furnaces to bike lanes to anti-sprawl measures, all of which they claim are part of a UN conspiracy to control the lives of Americans. They are encouraged in their paranoia by shameless cynics like Newt Gingrich and other Republican office holders. This sort of politics, based as they are on ludicrous fantasies, should and would be laughable -- but it appears that these people are actually having an impact on policy in some of these places. And that really is scary.
- It is amazing to watch how many members of the media have no sense of what the concept of religious liberty really means. I have seen a slew of commentary from the likes of Kathleen Parker, E.J. Dionne (shame on him), Mark Shields (ditto), Michael Gerson (to be expected), and Ross Douthat (invevitable) suggesting that the requirement that all employer sponsored health plans (including plans sponsored by Catholic hospitals and universities for their employees) provide coverage for a host of basic services, including those related to family planning, is somehow an attack on religious liberty. This is patent nonsense. Catholic universities (I actually went to one for law school) and hospitals (I have been treated at one on multiple occasions) are primarily secular institutions, employing, teaching, and treating a huge and diverse cross section of America, charging fees for the services they render, receiving government grants, contracts, subsidies, and payments. The employees at these institutions -- the doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, janitors, professors, teaching assistants, and clerical workers -- are rarely priests or nuns, they are employed for their technical and professional prowess rather than their spiritual vocation, and many, if not most, are not Catholics. There is no reason that the employees of these institutions should not be entitled to receive the same basic health benefits as those mandated for all other employer based programs in the United States. No one is being forced to use contraception against her will or conscience by these regulations. Quite simply, their employer is not being allowed to impose the beliefs of a handful of unelected old men to deprive them of a medical service that an expert panel, in accordance with its legislative mandate, has deemed an essential health service.
By the way, I find the notion that this is going to cost Obama the Catholic vote to be laughable. The vast majority of Catholics reject the Church's teaching on birth control, finding it to be absurd. Catholics use birth control at rates in excess of the population on average. The bishops (and their contemptible apologists like Dionne) are deluding themselves if they think that Obama is going to lose any votes on this.
- Many people have already weighed in on the ridiculous claims that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has been bullied by Planned Parenthood and its allies in recent days. (One wonders, if Komen has been bullied, how would one describe the onslaught to which Planned Parenthood has been subjected by Republicans and right wing media over the last year or two?) Again, this is a simple matter. Komen went out of its way to treat Planned Parenthood shabbily, in the process cavalierly disregarding the impact of such a decision on the sizable number of women who receive primary health care at Planned Parenthood clinics. In so doing, Komen revealed itself to be an organization in which right wing Republican beliefs appear to trump public health concerns, a fact that prompted justifiable outrage. As a result, many people had their eyes opened to Komen true nature as an institution -- and won't be buying any more hideous pink ribbon merchandise in the future.
- Romney has notched a comfortable and unsurprising win in the Nevada caucuses. Nevada's large Mormon electorate made this particularly hospitable territory for Romney, who is well on his way to a double digit victory over Gingrich, who remains his closest rival. I don't know that there is going to be much more drama in the nomination contest. Romney's overwhelming advantage in terms of money and organization and Gingrich's almost complete lack of establishment support would seem to preclude a path to victory for anyone but Romney. The only thing that might give Gingrich a glimmer of hope would be for Santorum to drop out and for that vote to rally to him. Minnesota and Colorado have caucuses on Tuesday -- if Romney takes both of them his air of inevitability gets overwhelming.
- And as for tomorrow's big game, I will be watching anxiously. In recent years, the Super Bowl has seemed to go to the team that has been on a roll in recent weeks. And I would say that that team has been the Giants, notwithstanding the fact that the Patriots have a ten game winning streak. The Patriots have a great deal of talent, but have not been overwhelming for a team that is 15-3. I am picking them to win on the hope that Tom Brady will be at his best after a shaky (for him) performance in the conference championship game, but I am uneasy to say the least. If Gronkowski can play, I say Patriots 27-17.
What say you?