Monday, March 22, 2010

This Post Brought to You Courtesy of Relpax

The weekend came cloaked in the fog that boils up out of a migraine and the various combinations of chemicals that are then required to be something resembling functional, so it almost snuck past me. But even in an elitriptan hydrobromide-and-Excedrin haze, I managed to notice healthcare reform, such as it is, passing the House; Obama using women this time as the prop in his kabuki caving to Bart Stupak; and the teabaggers showing their true colors (white, starched, and pointy, natch).

Healthcare, yes. I am still hugely disappointed that the putative party in power relented on the public option, but most of the other provisions in the bill--like, say, covering 36 million people who would otherwise be screwed, and eliminating pre-x denials, and closing the donut hole--are long overdue. So good start, there.

But let's talk about abortion and religion and executive orders, shall we? In a sop to Bart Stupak and his band of unnamed, unnumbered holdouts, Obama signed an executive order that double-dog promises to keep federal funds from paying for abortions for all but the standard, if cognitively dissonant, rape/incest/mother's life exemptions. On the plus side, the order simply reaffirms the odious, now-in-its-third-decade Hyde Amendment. On the downside, it extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment into the to-be-created health insurance exchanges, requiring abortion funds to be completely segregated from all other funds moving through said exchanges, effectively making abortion coverage so complicated and cumbersome to manage that most exchanges and involved companies will decline to offer it. Maybe the additional level of healthcare that will now be available to more women--assuming it encompasses increased contraceptive education, availability, and affordability, along with enhanced prenatal and postpartum care--will result in fewer unplanned or unsustainable pregnancies. That would be good. Obama blithely affirming Hyde, when even Stupak said the votes were probably lined up to pass the bill without him? Not so much. Not so much at all. More in-depth discussion is over at Jezebel, and is required reading.

The classiest endnotes to the healthcare debate came from (1) the House floor, where an as-yet unidentified but presumed Republican screamed "baby killer!" at Bart Stupak when he indicated he'd support the slightly more incremental encroachment on reproductive liberty represented by the XO instead of his own, more intrusive, amendment, and (2) outside the Capitol when protesting teabaggers (a) called Barney Frank a faggot, (b) spat on African-American Representative Emanuel Cleaver, and (c) called Rep. John Lewis a nigger.

Let that last one soak in. They screamed "nigger" at John fucking Lewis.

That's your tea party movement right there in a nutshell. There's a black guy in the White House who wants a slight increase on affluent people's taxes so that everyone in the country gets at least some basic level of healthcare and doesn't have to die from an unfilled cavity, instead of the current system of the uninsured poor waiting until a treatable condition morphs into an acute, catastrophic condition before showing up at the emergency room, resulting in everyone pitching in at a considerably higher rate and everyone's care levels being compromised. The black guy wants everyone taken care of, so they're losing their shit and screaming about the end of the world and, now, letting the pointy white hats slip out a little too much so that anyone who's paying attention can see it, can hear it when they scream nigger at a man who nearly lost his life during the civil rights battles of the 1960s. Because in the end that's all they are, all they have left. Fuck off, teabaggers. You got yours. Now it's time for everyone else to get theirs.