On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, rallying across the country to raise awareness about pressing environmental challenges. Organized by a Democratic senator and a Republican congressman, Earth Day 1970 "achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats," according to Earth Day Network, and provided momentum for the passage of landmark legislation to protect our air, water, and endangered species.
But in today's political climate, even Earth Day has become the target of partisan attacks from the right.
This past Sunday, as millions of Americans celebrated Earth Day, conservative media figures spent the day downplaying the impact of human activity on the environment, advocating for more fossil fuel development, and taking credit for misleading the public about the threat of climate change. Others attempted to spread fear about the holiday by noting that it falls on Vladimir Lenin's birthday, and by linking it to a convicted murderer who falsely claimed to be behind the first Earth Day.
And one right-wing blogger recalled how he tried to delay his son's birth because he "really didn't want a child born on Earth Day."
It was not long ago that Earth Day -- and the values of conservation and environmental responsibility it represents -- enjoyed bipartisan support. The Times-Picayune reported on Sunday on the shift that has taken place over the last 40 years:
Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican "war on women" is "phony" and "invented" by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage.
Conservative media figures have been attacking President Obama's economic record by citing the fact that approximately 88 million Americans are not considered part of the labor force. In fact, only a small fraction of those "not in the labor force" actually want to work, and economists say the long-term decline in labor force participation is due to changing demographics -- a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade.
Following on the heels of the trumped-up outcry over the Obama administration's regulations allowing women to have access to insurance coverage for contraception, conservative media figures are lauding a federal judge's decision allowing pharmacies to refuse to fill prescriptions for Plan B emergency contraception as well as a host of other important prescription drugs.
In 2007, in response to complaints from groups such as Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy issued regulations to deal with pharmacies that refused to dispense lawfully prescribed medications such as Plan B and certain AIDS drugs. Pharmacies had also been accused of destroying or confiscating such prescriptions.
While preserving the right of individual pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that conflicted with their religious or moral views, the Board of Pharmacy determined that licensed drug stores had a responsibility to fill the prescriptions that patients and doctors had decided were appropriate or necessary. Thus, if a drug store employs a pharmacist who refuse to dispense certain prescription drugs, it must have another pharmacist available who will do so.
The decision to strike down the regulations could endanger women's health. As Legal Voice and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest said in a statement:
"We respectfully and firmly disagree with the court's decision today," said Lisa M. Stone, Executive Director of Legal Voice, which co-represented seven individuals who intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of patients. "This ruling adds another brick in the ever-growing wall between women and their health care. What's more, it ignores well-established legal principles long ago articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Women's health care, contraceptive access and abortion rights are being debated across the United States, and the court's decision is yet another instance of a vocal minority injecting their beliefs between women and health care. Even as so many important discussions take place around health care, insurance, and access to health care, this ruling represents yet another interference in the doctor-patient relationship. A refusal to fill someone's prescription for personal reasons can have serious and damaging personal and public health consequences.
"This decision not only affects two pharmacists and one pharmacy, it is a blow to access to health care for all patients. When a pharmacist can refuse to serve a patient because he or she does not like the drug or the patient, where will it stop? The overarching priority in this state should be patient access to health care," said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.
But right-wing media personalities are celebrating the decision. National Review Online's Ed Whelan and Red State's Leon Wolf both celebrated the decision, with Wolf calling it a "blow against regulatory fascism." The ruling was also mentioned by Fox News' Gretchen Carlson. All three media personalities suggested the decision might call into question the constitutionality of the Obama administration's regulations giving women access to insurance coverage for birth control.
Not only are these media figures celebrating a judicial ruling that could be harmful for women's health, a closer look at the ruling in question shows that it is also likely headed for reversal on appeal and actually demonstrates how little merit there is to the argument that the Obama administration's contraception ruling is unconstitutional.
An examination of the legal issues in the case is below the fold.
Last week, the Virginia Legislature moved closer to passing a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. Media reports and experts noted that because the mandate would apply to very early pregnancies as well, a traditional ultrasound would not always be adequate to obtain the detailed images specified by the law; instead, as CBS News reported:
One issue that has come under the microscope with relation to the ultrasound bill is its requirement that some women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound probe, which is considered more physically invasive than other procedures.
While the bill does not explicitly mandate the use of transvaginal ultrasounds, many women would inevitably be required to undergo them; in the early stages of pregnancy, that procedure is often the only form of ultrasound that can detect a fetus' heartbeat.
As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick reported, a proposed amendment to the bill that would have required the patient to consent to penetration with an ultrasound wand failed. Lithwick concluded:
Since a proposed amendment to the bill -- a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound -- failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.
Right-wing media have responded by defending the Virginia bill. On the February 17 edition of her radio show, CNN contributor Dana Loesch defended the procedure as being no different than consensual sex, saying:
LOESCH: That's the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it's rape and so on and so forth. And, in fact, this big battle that I've totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times is -- there were individuals saying, "Well, what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that -- the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?" What?
Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a transvaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.
Here's the thing. People know how anatomy and physiology work, yes? We know, again, how offspring is created? Right? We do.
(h/t Little Green Footballs)
In a February 5 RedState post, CNN contributor Erick Erickson attacked President Obama's invocation of scripture at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as a "perversion" of the word of God. Erickson referred to Obama as a "[s]inner" and claimed he "has gone to war with Christian's' conscience." From RedState.com:
But we must also point out that Christians have an obligation to pray for their leaders and, given how the President of the United State just twisted the words of our Lord and Savior, we should pray all the more fervently for him because in reading Luke 12:48, he clearly ignored or has no understand of Luke 12:47, the prior sentence, which reads
"And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating." (ESV)
One must wonder about the Christian grounding of the people in the White House who encouraged the President of the United States to pervert the words of the Living God.
The President this week chose to pervert God's Word to make the case for a tax increase, but he also chose to ignore God's word on life and is ordering Christians, while he claims to be one, to violate their Christian conscience on abortion -- requiring Christian organizations to provide health insurance that will cover the cost of drugs that induce abortions.
He is trying to have it both ways. He is trying to use God's Word to defend a tax policy that dissuades individuals from giving gladly and charitably to the poor as God instructs and is ignoring God's Word in order to force fellow Christians into violating their Christian conscience -- something about which God cares a great deal.
This cannot end well for him, particularly doing this claiming to be a Christian. And it might not end well for the rest of us either. Barack Obama has gone to war with Christians' consciences and he is perverting God's word in the process to get his way on public policy.
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
Pray hard. The President needs it.
Right-wing media have applauded Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood. But Komen's decision could affect access to breast cancer screenings and other cancer-related services for thousands of women, as the Komen funds have allowed Planned Parenthood to provide 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals in the past five years.
Right-wing media have suggested that Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf "admitted" in recent Senate testimony that the stimulus "will shrink the economy." In fact, while the CBO predicted the plan would reduce GDP by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent in 2019, economists say the program has thus far increased output and employment, as was predicted.
Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain have emerged, right-wing media figures have blamed a wide range of people and entities for the story's emergence, from the "Democratic machine" to the "liberal media" and even "the left-wing nutjobs at Media Matters."
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported today that the White House and Ford Motor Co. are both denying a story about the White House pressuring Ford to yank TV ads critical of the auto bailout. These allegations originated with a Detroit News column and have been spread by right-wing bloggers, including Michelle Malkin and RedState. From Sargent's post:
Apparently some right wing bloggers think they may have found their next big scandal: The White House may have pressured Ford Motor Company to yank a TV ad critical of Obama's rescue of the auto companies!
That would be quite a story indeed -- the latest example of heavy handed White House bullying of the private sector, all in service of its hated auto bailout. Except there's a small problem: Ford and the White House are both denying the tale, and the original report that is the basis for all the chatter today is not even sourced at all.
Sargent noted that Ford's Twitter account said of the story: "we did not pull the ad due to pressure. the ad ran 4 weeks which is what the campaign called for."
In a post on his blog RedState, CNN contributor Erick Erickson objected to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's decision to issue an executive order requiring girls to receive the vaccine against the human papillomavirus, which leads to cervical cancer. Erickson stated in his post: "The 'I hate cancer' rhetoric does not help him and sounds a bit silly. We all hate a lot of things. Must we mobilize government for each of the things Rick Perry hates?"
The issue is two fold.First, it is an issue of liberty. It is not the same as an MMR shot because those diseases are communicable in a way HPV is not. Having the state mandate a shot that only one demographic gets because of what that child may do sexually bothers a lot of conservative voters. Perry needs to do a better job explaining that the opt-out was the parent simply saying "no." He also needs to make clear again that he would have done it differently and also, if he can, point out that no one actually had the injection because of his executive order.
In fact, if Perry can show that no one had the injection because of his order I think the issue largely goes away.
Second, it is an issue of decision making. Perry conveys that he let emotion guide him in making the decision. That deeply bothers a lot of conservatives. The "I hate cancer" rhetoric does not help him and sounds a bit silly. We all hate a lot of things. Must we mobilize government for each of the things Rick Perry hates? Of course not, but his emotion in the answer does not help him.
If Erick Erickson doesn't think the government should do everything it can to prevent cervical cancer, then what does he think it should be doing? Erickson's opinion on the matter probably puts him on the furthest fringe of public opinion.
In a September 8 post to his blog Red State, CNN political contributor Erick Erickson called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." From Red State:
Are we all so damn scared of Rick Perry that suddenly we're going to abandon the fight for real reform of social security and try to make Perry look like a fringe candidate when, in fact, his position has been the mainstream of the GOP for decades?
Social Security is, for all intents and purposes, a ponzi scheme. Don't believe me? Try out the Securities and Exchange Commission definition:
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk.
An August 25 Red State post falsely claimed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "skirt[ed] Congress" by issuing a recent rule requiring employers to notify employees of their labor rights. In fact, the NLRB has legal authority to issue rules which regulate employers under the National Labor Relations Act.
CNN contributor Erick Erickson appears giddy at the chance to blame President Obama for Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade the United States' credit rating.
Days before a potential default crisis, right-wing media are engaged in a full-throated lobbying effort against a compromise to avoid default, urging Republicans to "hold the line" and act like "winners."