Placating The Religious Right (Update)

Rep. Paul “We won’t duck the tough issues” Ryan ducking his own record

Given that the modern Republican party exists to serve the interest of the uber rich, and that there are just too few of those to ever win an election, it has had to cobble together a coalition consisiting mainly of Southerners, deficit hawks, militarists, racists, homophobes, small government libertarians, anti-government Teabaggers, and anti-science, anti-choice, fundamentalist Christians. (They’ve also had to resort to rigging and suppressing votes, but that’s another matter.)

Naturally, the GOP has had to pay at least lip service to each one of these constituencies. Traditionally, this has included putting into the party platform resolutions and amendments that capture the rhetorical intent of said constituencies, most of which are soon forgotten when they attain power.

For example, the promise of small government and shrinking deficits are belied by the growth of both the size of government and government debt that occurred during the second Bush Administration, despite the fact the Rethugs controlled all three branches of government from 2001-2007. Promises to roll back affirmative action and energy independence never materialize.(For the latter, see e.g. the Koch Brothers). Same goes for the perennial promise of a balanced budget; and to overturn Roe v. Wade (highly unlikely since it would kill the goose that has laid so many fund raising golden eggs over the decades).

But these constituencies can be played for only so long. In 2008, the rapid rise of the Tea Party, who demonstrated their power by primarying establishment Republicans that didn’t subscribe to their brand of crazy, led directly to putting Sarah Baracuda on the presidential ticket.

Now, it appears to be the fundamentalists’ turn, thanks to the rhetorical stylings of Rep. Todd Akin who single handedly vaulted their social issues to the forefront of the presidential and down ticket Congressional races by his placement of the adjective “legitimate” in front of the noun “rape.” That was in addition to his citing of a pseudo scientific theory, articulated by his mentor, Dr. John C. Wilke, that pregnancies are extremely rare in the cases of rape because women have some kind of built-in biological defense mechanism that discriminates against rapist sperm. (Hey– ducks and geese do it!) It should be noted that Akin sits on the House Science and Technology committee. (He probably doesn’t believe in evolution, either.)

Fundamentalist social issues include outlawing abortion, giving constitutional rights fetuses (personhood), contraception, and defunding Planned Parenthood. Not that they these issues weren’t already the subject of a flurry of legislation on both the state and federal level during the last twenty months or so. Akin simply put some nitro into the tank. Recall that last year’s fiscal crisis, which resulted in lowering the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history, was only resolved at the last minute by getting the Dems to agree to a further restriction on the District of Columbia’s abortion laws. These people are as a serious as a heart attack.

All this political maneuvering plays directly into the Dems’ War On Women narrative, however. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, taken largely before the Akin flap, had already shown a double digit gender gap in the Dems’ favor, and over a 2 to 1 lead on the question of who is better at protecting women’s health issues. Worse for Willard’s presidential campaign, Dr. Wilke was a highly praised surrogate of his during his 2008 presidential campaign. Worse yet, he has chosen for his running mate Paul Ryan, a Congressman who has co-sponsored every piece of anti-abortion, anti-women’s right legislation he could get his hands on, 59 by one count (Alex Wagner, MSNBC).

At least two of these laws were co-sponsored with the highly toxic Aikin. One was H.R. 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act. This so-called “personhood” law would open the door to outlawing some forms of contraception, put women and their doctors at legal risk for abortion procedures, and require a medical exam for miscarriages where the use of an abortifacient is suspected. (Doctors could also be shot to death by the likes of Frank Szabo, who’s running for Sheriff in Hillsborough County, N.H.)

The second was H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act“, which included the unintelligble term “forcible rape”, as if there was any other kind (statutory rape of a minor being the exception). Ryan is trying to run away from the term he helped promote as fast as possible, going so far as to use President Obama’s definition: “Rape is rape. Period.”

It remains to be seen just how far the Romney campaign is willing to go to placate the fundamentalists. Willard has already agreed to allow states to outlaw contraception, said he would sign a fetal-personhood law,  promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would help overturn Roe v. Wade, ban federal funding for stem-cell research and cloning,  oppose gay marriage and civil unions—all positions he had formerly supported, earning his reputation as a world class flip-flopper. The fact that he is a Mormon and has a Catholic running mate only inclines him that much more to the placate the Religious Right.

On the foreign policy front, Romney has adopted their embrace of extreme right wing Israeli politicians seeking to gin up a war with Iran (furthering their Armageddon and Rapture agenda). It’s no secret that Romney’s single largest political donor is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has already contributed over $10 million and has promised to spend “limitless” amount more to defeat President Obama. Adelson, who once said he regretted having donned a U.S. Army uniform when he would have so much more preferred to have worn an Israeli one, is the most influential American proponent of launching an immediate attack on Iran. Presumably, that’s the price of his support (along with getting Romney to drop the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into drug money laundering and foreign bribery charges involving his Macao casino operation.)

Meanwhile, every news cycle that the discussion moves away from the economy to divisive, emotionally charged social and religious issues is a bad hair day for the uber rich wing of the GOP. Given the frequency that has occurred of late, it’s tempting for progressive Urantia Book readers to see a bit of divine intervention at work, courtesy of:

The angels of nation life. These are the “angels of the trumpets,” directors of the political performances of Urantia national life. The group now functioning in the overcontrol of international relations is the fourth corps to serve on the planet. It is particularly through the ministry of this seraphic division that “the Most Highs rule in the kingdoms of men.”

[Graphic found here.]

UPDATE: 8/26/12

Nick Baumann over at Mother Jones early on sussed out the real intent behind the term “forcible rate” and how it was designed to further curtail a woman’s right to choose.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. ..

Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents wouldn’t be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense…

Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes…

h/t to Dante Atkins over at the Big Orange

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