Just in case anyone was down in the cellar stocking up on canned goods and good sense in case of a Santorum dictatorship, this profile of President Obama by James Fallows – Obama, Explained – is exhaustive or exhausting, I’m still trying to decide. I am sure that not every word is like some writ in granite. When we observe people – listen to them, sum of their actions, we do so through our own personal filters. The best one can do is make objectivity your goal. Thus not everyone will agree with the good or not so good. My biggest take-away was a confirmation of things I observed – and another blogger who I can’t remember, sorry about that. It is that Obama likes consensus not just in terms of it being part of what pundits have described as his political DNA, but also using legislation as a way of branding a national course of events. Over the past sixty years Democrats have relied on the courts to hold back the worse excesses of the far Right – the wired and bite biting world of the tenthers and the Federalist Society, especially in terms of civil liberties and equality under the law. I’ll leave it to others to think up a catchy name for Democrats like Obama who want to shift more of the burden of change to legislation. Many Americans view our country as majority rule democracy. That is not the case, thankfully. If the majority wanted to start throwing gays, unwed mothers, the working poor, the disabled and abortion providers into some kind of barbed wire work camps tomorrow because hand in hand with our respect for the wishes of the majority is a small r republican commitment to individual rights. The latter is supposed to protect us from prejudices based on race, religion, misogyny, homophobia, myths contrary to reason and science – from, in other words, the mob mentality. If you have discussions, give and take, the pros and cons, the costs and benefits, Obama thinks you come up with something that has more substantial cultural standing than rulings handed down by courts. He is right in his own way. Even though the courts have frequently been right – Brown v Board of Education, Roe v Wade, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson – to this day, those that keep up with civil liberties issues know that conservatives are committed to either rolling back those decisions completely or breaking them down at the edges. Obama knows that, as most of us do – thus the panic over SOPA and ACTA – that once a law is passed, it is very very difficult to repeal. Bills do not get passed without a majority vote. So those that oppose passed legislation have a very steep uphill battle to undo what has been done – like health care reform i.e. ObamaCare, Medicare, Social Security, workman’s compensation or minimum wage laws. All those acts of legislation enjoy solid majority support from the American people even though they were all subject to the usual demonizing. This emphasis on forming consensus and basing a legacy on legislation made as a result of that in an era when conservatism is so far to the Right, so dominated by scorched earth tactics, is so reliant on the politics of personal destruction makes consensus politics obviously very frustrating to the core Democratic constituency. One of the many strange memes the far Right likes to repeat is that Obama is a rigid Chicago style political bully. If Obama has a second term, which looks very likely at this stage, and has a majority in the House, look for less consensus and more hardball. If conservatives are off the rails now, just wait.
Some of the better links on what is a non-controversy – Most of Obama’s “Controversial” Birth Control Rule Was Law During Bush Years
In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.
Look at the mainstream media and who says there is a controversy ( VP Biden is not helping by confirming there is one). It is mostly white males over 60. Not to be an ageist, but it also happens that it is mostly of the Right of center pundits who dominate the Beltway noise machine. Rules Requiring Contraceptive Coverage Have Been In Force For Years
In fact, employers have pretty much been required to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans since December 2000. That’s when the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that failure to provide such coverage violates the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law is, in turn, an amendment to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws, among other things, discrimination based on gender.
Here’s how the EEOC put it at the time: “The Commission concludes that Respondents’ exclusion of prescription contraceptives violates Title VII, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, whether the contraceptives are used for birth control or for other medical purposes.”
But it’s not only the EEOC that has ruled on the issue. More than half the states have similar “contraceptive equity” laws on the books, many with religious exceptions similar or identical to the one included in the administration’s regulation.
That’s no accident. “The HHS rule was modeled on the exceptions in several state laws, including California, New York and Oregon,” says Lipton-Lubet of the ACLU.
And to repeat for the third time – Obama’s Conscience Protection Clause Has Been Upheld In Court
Indeed, the government should not infringe on a house of worship’s religious doctrine, but it should also protect the liberties and rights of employees who work for religiously officiated institutions that serve the public good. Colleges or universities are free to preach about the evils of contraception to their workers. Yet since 58 percent of women use contraception for medical reasons besides, or in addition to, family planning, the decision to swallow the pill should be left to the conscience of every employee and the employer should never be allowed to stand in between a woman and her doctor.
Of course conservatives want to make this – suddenly as we can see – a religious issue, because in reality it is a civil rights issue. These very same plans offer coverage for Viagra, vasectomies and prostate problems. Why would male Catholics have their reproductive related health issues paid for, but not women. If you’re a conservative and you see women as not complete citizens – say three fifths of a real human being – than double talking your way around equivalent coverage for women is easy.
Some conservative critics of federal social programs, including leading presidential candidates, are sounding an alarm that the United States is rapidly becoming an “entitlement society” in which social programs are undermining the work ethic and creating a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work. A new CBPP analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work. (See Figure 1.) This figure has changed little in the past few years.
In the Book of How to be a Conservative Assclown – the chapter that is drilled into the head of every sycophantic convert is the myth that an able-bodied adult American can seat around eating Cheetos, drinking beer all day in a nice home air-conditioned home and the government pays for it all. When most of someone’s point of view is based on a foundation of lies it is a political movement or a cult.
“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
George Washington and the Paparazzi
Now on display in the Public Vaults of the National Archives in Washington, DC, is an original letter written by President Washington to his friend, Gov. Henry Lee of Virginia, on July 3, 1792. In the letter, Washington turns down the request of the artist William Williams, who asked through Gov. Lee to paint the President’s portrait. As Mount Vernon associate curator Laura Simo explains, Washington was fed up with posing for portraits, a frequent duty when he was President. In the letter, Washington complains that the painters frequently hawk cheap versions of his portrait to the public. National Archives curator Alice Kamps — who chose the letter and curated its exhibit — describes the painters as the 18th-century equivalent of today’s paparazzi. Williams did paint Washington’s portrait, which now hangs in Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge 22. Lodge archivist Hans Pawlisch tells the story of how the portrait came to be there. And National Archives paper conservator Yoonjoo Strumfels explains the conservation treatment of the original George Washington document.