Party Like It’s 1699.

I still haven’t been moved to comment any further on the GOP primaries: There is no shortage of people doing that. The choice is down to the 1890s Plutocrat, the 1950s Bircher, or one of two 1930s-style Catholic Fascists. Voter turnout for the primaries and caucuses has been low, but the enthusiasm of the GOP tribe (at least as presented –say ‘amplified’– by the MSM) still seems strong. They are very furious about something or other, and they seem very sure that some nebulous somebody, some Other not like Them, must be made to suffer the fruits of their fury.

I’ve been over this before: They will choose whomever it is they decide to choose, and we’ll just have to go from there. GOP soul-searching is not really my concern.

That said, I’m still very puzzled as to why the right wing would decide to die upon the hill of… contraception!? The Susan Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy (ostensibly about abortion counseling services such as referrals) has come and gone, with the Komen foundation now quite probably suffering permanent PR damage from it.

Rather than tone down the rhetoric, the Catholic Bishops (with backup provided by the usual suspects) decided to complain about a new rule compelling their health insurance policies to provide contraception, free of co-pay, to their employees. The Obama administration then offers a subtle but clever compromise that passes the onus from the Catholic charities to the insurance companies themselves, which I suspect was their actual goal all along– but no, that isn’t enough. The Bishops now openly claim the right to control the reproductive lives of their employees. I’ll emphasize this: Not just of their parishioners, but of their employees, be they Catholic or not. And the GOP Congress seems more than happy to not only push this issue for them, but to extend this “right” to all employers.

Poll data shows that actual real-world Catholics are reasonably happy with the compromise. The Catholic organization that actually administers the Catholic hospitals is happy with the compromise. Even the insurance companies are happy with the compromise (presumably because providing birth control is, in the actuarial sense, cheaper for them in the long term). Polls claim that 98% of American Catholics have used birth control at some point in their lives.

So… why? Some observers see this as a stealth way to use the First Amendment as a lever with which to subvert the ACA. Once you get a religious exemption, it becomes easier to pull the new law apart piece by piece (so goes the thinking). Though how far does that go? If my employer is a Jehovah’s Witness, can he refuse to pay for insurance that covers blood transfusions? If he’s a Christian Scientist, can he refuse to pay for any health insurance at all?

Slippery slopes and all that– I don’t think the GOP ever really thinks that far ahead. Their instincts smell a loss of power, and their rhetoric then bends to come up with the excuses necessary to support and justify their instincts. But I just don’t see contraception being a winning issue for them. And, even in the current anti-union/anti-worker/deification-of-employers media climate, I just don’t see most Americans as willing to submit their reproductive lives to their employers.

But, what do I know? I’m just a dirty little atheist.

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