Friday, April 8, 2011

Was the Shutdown Threat All About S-E-X?

In the wake of the near-shutdown of the government, it is becoming crystal clear that the fight was never about money and austerity and deficits. It's about ideology. The cause celebre this go-round was Planned Parenthood and abortion. But it goes beyond reproductive rights. It goes to the heart of the arch-conservative mantra that Sex is Bad.  It's particularly bad, in their view, when it involves the unmarried, the transgender, the gay, the unemployed, the minority.  Let's face it. People like Mike Pence and Rick Santorum and all the goons of Right Wing World don't like the idea of taxpayer money being used, even obliquely, to help people have fun, particularly when it comes to their sex lives.

Title X is a government program that gives about a quarter of its funds to Planned Parenthood, and the rest to other clinics for low-income people throughout the country.  It specifically does not fund abortions, because that is illegal under federal law.  What it does pay for, however, are family planning for both men and women, STD screening, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, hypertension and cancer screening.  The services are for  ALL people -- married or single, gay or straight. Planned Parenthood offers all of these in addition to abortion services that it funds through private means, adding up to only about three percent of its total program. 

Title X pays for birth control pills on the taxpayer dime and Planned Parenthood does not demand a marriage certificate when women come in seeking the pill. Thus, in Republican World, they are promoters of promiscuity and orgies. Planned Parenthood is also known for its compassionate treatment of transgender patients.  Planned Parenthood supplies free condoms to its clients, thus promoting even more unrestrained sex.  See where this is going?  Way, way beyond the right to life movement. 

Since the radical right culture warriors are also anti-gay and many seem to have sexual phobias of all kinds, could the threatened government shutdown have been about homophobia as well as misogyny? Nobody's telling, but it wouldn't surprise me. 

 Christian fundamentalism as a force in American politics has never died.  The religious fanatics still haven't gotten over the repeal of DADT. Their dogmatism and their demogoguery trump rational thought. It wouldn't shock me if they actually thought that the "X" in Title X stands for X-rated, instead of the number 10.  The right wing crowd probably never studied Roman numerals in school because those numbers are un-American.

The Radical Right is Easily Confused & Obsessed With Sex 

And speaking of Rome, if I didn't know better, I'd swear the Vatican might have a hand in this too.  The American bishops tried to kill the affordable health care act due to abortion issues.  Could this be payback time from the mighty lobby of men in mitered hats?  Nothing would surprise me at this point.  If you'd told me a week ago the government would be shut down over Pap smears, I wouldn't have believed it either.

And then there's the cultish Abstinence Movement, which espouses just saying no as the proper right wing method of birth control. Bristol Palin, teen mom, is the poster child of that movement, or revirgination campaign or whatever you want to call it.  Conservatives even have weird debutante-type affairs called "Purity Balls" in which fathers parade out their daughters in some vaguely creepy chastity sweepstakes.  Daddy's Little Girl is Daddy's Little Girl until marriage do them part.

Not a Planned Parenthood Alumna
And if you still don't believe how far right we've come as a country, take a gander at what President Nixon wrote when he signed Title X into law one Christmas Eve long, long ago: (and Dickie, from all accounts, was one repressed Oedipus "my mother was a saint" Complex dude):

He Put the Planning Back in Family Values
ON JULY 18, 1969, I sent to the Congress a message proposing the creation of a Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. The Congress acted promptly on my proposal and the act establishing the Commission was signed by me on March 16, 1970. The Commission is now functioning: its interim report will be due in the spring of 1971, and its final report will be submitted in the spring of 1972.
At the same time, I called for a national commitment to provide adequate family planning services within the next 5 years to all those who want them but cannot afford them. It was clear that the domestic family planning services supported by the Federal Government were not adequate to provide information and services to all who want them on a voluntary basis.
To implement this national commitment, I asked for expanded research in contraceptive development and the behavioral sciences, reorganization of family planning service activities within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and legislation which would help the Department to implement this important program by providing broader and more precise legislative authority and a clearer source of financial support. The National Center for Family Planning Services was established in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare shortly after my message.
The bill before me today, the "Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970," completes the legislation I requested in my message on population. This measure provides for expanded research, training of manpower, and increased family planning services. In addition, it provides for the development of family planning and population growth information and education.
It is noteworthy that this landmark legislation on family planning and population has had strong bipartisan support. I am confident that by working together-at Federal, State, and local levels--we can achieve the goal of providing adequate family planning services within the next 5 years to all those who want them but cannot afford them.
I am proud to affix my signature to this important legislation and share this pride with so many who have worked so hard toward its enactment."

Wow.  A Republican president proposed what would today be called a socialistic public health law and it was promptly approved in a bipartisan manner by Congress. If Tricky Dick were in office now, Mike Pence would be calling him a Marxist.  No, wait.  Mike Pence would never have been elected to anything except maybe treasurer of some tiny local chapter of the John Birch Society.  And amazing, isn't it, that presidents actually thought up bills to send to Congress all on their own and didn't just shrug and tell them to hash it out among themselves and stop acting like children?

And now we have another down-to-the-wire save, passage of a budget nobody even had the chance to read before voting. And it is merely a stop-gap "bridge" cure, a massive kick-the-can down the road for another week.  At the rate we're going, we won't have a real budget till it's time to vote for next year's. And these hard-right fundamentalists who seem to have a spooky sway over the Democrats who outnumber them aren't going away.  The Democrats are rapidly becoming superfluous in this whole mess we call a government.  The Culture Wars have joined the Class War in what increasingly appears to be a descent into fascism.


Anonymous said...

It is a sad day in American history when I long for the good ole days of Richard Nixon!

Valerie Long Tweedie

Kate Madison said...

I am not as pessimistic as you, Karen! 2012 is just around the corner, and there is not enough dark cherry Kool Aid to go around. Plus, the X of which you speak, probably refers to Malcom X--and he is safely murdered, therefore out of the picture.

All we have to worry about are the Tea Baggers (I can say that on your blog, right?: Michelle Bachmannnnn, Sistah Sarah, Mikey Huckabey, Donald the Birther Trump and a coupla other bozos, T-Paw and Mitters. I think the "lesser of two weevils" mantra will apply, and we will once more elect our Mediator-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama--without his signed birth certificate. No big deal, since Hawaii does not issue signed birth certificates.

This is such madness right now, it is hard to laugh. But what's the use of cryin?

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

So true, so sadly true. The cruelty, the thuggishness, the willful ignorance of the Right today is simply astounding.

Marie Burns said...

A lot of it is about sex, especially if it's Democrats and minorities having sex. The District of Columbia is 90-some percent Democratic & the majority of the population are ethnic minorities. So it's important they don't have sex, and if they do, they'll have to personally pay for unwanted consequences.

To wit, one rider that did make it into the final agreement: the District of Columbia cannot spend its own funds to provide abortions for low-income women.

And in an effort to limit the number of D.C. residents who have fun while having sex, another rider that made the cut was one of Boehner's pet projects: a controversial school voucher program that will benefit those nice Roman Catholic schools where the kiddies will learn there is no joy in sex, or if there is, you'll go to hell. Or something like that.

The Constant Weader

John said...

This off topic, but.......


Would you be good enough to provide links here to your comments on NY Times editorials? I sometimes can't get to all of them each day, but would be more likely to if I know you've commented.


Anonymous said...

Many thanx for another excellent essay. This budget will be a by-product of unplanned parenthood.

Paul Feehan

Karen Garcia said...

@ John -- re my NY Times comments - I will usually post a version of a comment that is censored or buried. If you want to take a look at all the comments and are not a NYT subscriber, RealityChex has links to them (see the Blog Roll to your right).

@Paul -- thank you! This budget will be a bastard, all right!

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I'm not sure what you all know about Australian politics - but just to put the whole S-E-X thing in perspective - Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, who is openly atheist, lives with her partner (male) in the Australian equivalent of the White House. To the best of my knowledge, they have no plans to marry. The head of the Green party, the third largest political party in Australia, is openly gay and lives with his partner of fourteen years. I have never heard anyone openly make a slur against either of them for their choices in their personal lives. I do not doubt that homophobia exists in Australia (gays are not allowed to marry) and there are certainly fundamentalists around, but they don't get to push their prejudices into the public policy as a general rule. Just thought this might be of interest to somebody.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Valerie from Australia. Karen, have always looked for an appreciated your comments, what are we progressives doing to get a third party candidate in the running for 2012. I am a little hesitant as worked on Nader's campaign in 2000 knowing that he would not win but had hopes of getting a viable third party into the big picture of US system of government. Lost on both counts. I have been proposing a multi million march on Wall Street, K Street and DC in July and have been asking people to ask Ed Shultz, Thom Hartmann, John Stewart, Rachel Maddow et al to organize this event nationwide. Wisconsin had 100,000 after 3 weeks steady protests. With 50 states and worldwide suffering at hands of Wall Street, corporate malfeasance s, and politicians we could well over a million people. Please contact these people to get this organized. We need to get in their faces big time and tell them enough is enough, we the people are not going to take it any longer.

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative, older, Roman Catholic who disagrees with your thinking about fun, birth control, abortion etc. The first thought that came to my mind while reading this blog was: I bet that this person who composed " Was the shut down threat all about s-e-x" has never seen a video of a real abortion(let alone one in person). I wouldn't do to a cat what abortionists do to hundreds of thousands of women and their unborn babies each year. Check out an abortion on YOU TUBE sometime. The naivete' of many of these victims is exploited by companies like Planned Parenthood(332,278 abortions in '09) and I bet(again)that a majority of these women were on some type of birth control which didn't work as efficiently as hyped. Abortion is a necessary part of most birth control plans and I don't want this brutal procedure promoted, let alone paid for with my taxes. This sounds rational and humane to me.