Posts tagged MoveOn

In which women’s access to abortion becomes public-optional

From GT 2009-08-20: Tonight, in News of the Obvious:

And in breaking news from NARAL Pro-Choice America, it turns out that government provision of healthcare means that women’s healthcare will be allocated through a political process, and when women’s reproductive healthcare is allocated through a political process, women’s reproductive healthcare ends up being subjected to the vicissitudes of political debate over abortion.

NARAL may not draw the conclusion from its report, but the editorial board here at News of the Obvious will: setting aside outright political prohibitions, which aren’t likely to pass in the near future, a broad expansion of political control over women’s healthcare is the single worst thing that could possibly happen towards undermining women’s access to abortion and reproductive medicine.

— GT 2009-08-20: Tonight, in News of the Obvious

The House of Representatives just recently passed an omnibus health insurance bill which includes extensive new government involvement in health insurance and a strong public option of broad-based government-provided health insurance. The explicit purpose of this bill is to expand political control and political funding in the health insurance industry — to expand government’s role and responsibility in directly paying for healthcare and medical procedures, and to shift more of the money coming in to for-profit health insurance companies away from private sources, and towards government funding sources.

So-called Progressive While so-called Progressive organizations on the male Left — groups like MoveOn and SEIU and the AFL-CIO — have been celebrating the passage of the House bill as a great big win. MoveOn.org calls it historic health care reform and headlines their front page Victory!; now they are staging Countdown to Change rallies to thank those representatives who stood with the American people (by this, they mean those that voted for expanding the scope of the American government). In an e-mail circulated to their mailing list, the AFL-CIO called it a truly historic movement and called on supporters to pressure their Senators to pass a similar bill in order to ensure final victory.

Well, wait.

Just one little problem about this Huge Step Forward: turns out that, if it passes the Senate too, it will strip millions of women of access to abortion, by using strings attached to the new government funding to stop both the public option health insurance plans and plans offered by existing insurance companies from covering abortion procedures.

Oops.

From the National Organization for Women:

The House of Representatives has dealt the worst blow to women’s fundamental right to self-determination in order to buy a few votes for reform of the profit-driven health insurance industry. We must protect the rights we fought for in Roe v. Wade. We cannot and will not support a health care bill that strips millions of women of their existing access to abortion.

Birth control and abortion are integral aspects of women’s health care needs. Health care reform should not be a vehicle to obliterate a woman’s fundamental right to choose.

The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:

  • Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.

NOW calls on the Senate to pass a health care bill that respects women’s constitutionally protected right to abortion and calls on President Obama to refuse to sign any health care bill that restricts women’s access to affordable, quality reproductive health care.

Terry O’Neill, National Organization for Women (2009-11-08): NOW Opposes Health Care Bill That Strips Millions of Women of Abortion Access Says Bill Obliterates Women’s Fundamental Right to Choose

Once again, this should come as no surprise. Government health insurance means political allocation for women’s healthcare — for any and every one of the women who is moved over to public options and public-private partnerships on the public health insurance exchanges.

Political allocation of women’s healthcare means that women’s healthcare will be subjected to political debate and sacrificed in the name of political compromises — which, in this country, means being subjected and sacrificed to the Gentleman’s Agreement between anti-choice partisans, on the one hand, and, on the other, the doughface politicos, who just don’t give much of a damn about women’s lives or health or freedom, and are happy to treat them as optional as long as they’ve got a bill to pass or a Democrat to elect.

This healthcare bill, authored by Democrats, pushed by Democrats, and supposedly a key aspect of the male liberal’s agenda for Progressive social change, will almost certainly mean a massive government-sponsored assault on women’s access to abortion. Women’s bodies are not public property; women’s health should not be subject to public controversy or dependent on the approval of the public (which means, in fact, the loudest and most belligerent voices in politics). But as long as government is calling the shots on women’s healthcare, women’s healthcare is always going to be compromised and sacrificed in the name of political agendas. The only way to make sure that women’s healthcare will no longer be treated as public-optional is real radical healthcare reform — not by preserving the government-regimented corporatist status quo, but rather by getting government out of healthcare entirely — by cutting the government strings that always come attached to government money — by getting rid of government subsidy and government regimentation and replacing them with grassroots mutual aid, abortion funds, community-supported free clinics, and other forms of low-cost healthcare free of political control because they are supported by free association and community organizing, rather than taxation and political allocation. That is to say, by taking the funding for women’s healthcare out of the hands of politicians, and putting in the hands of women themselves.

Expanding government control of healthcare funding is anti-choice, anti-woman, and would represent the single biggest assault on women’s access to abortion in the last 30 years.

See also:

Rank and file

The week before the election, I complained about an ad that DNC political hacks sent out, which (wrongly, and dangerously) suggested that political change amounted to nothing more than, and ended with the success of, an effot to get some millionaire professional politician installed in office. It turns out that MoveOn agrees with me, and they’re working on organizing Fired up and ready to go gatherings in every community the can, to keep their grassroots organizing moving forward. I know because they sent me an e-mail about it. <Well, bully for them. However, having read some of the comments that MoveOn specifically selected to represent the sentiments they were hearing from their members, when they asked about what to do after the election, I can’t say I’m terribly heartened by their idea of what kind of organizing you do after an electoral victory:

From: Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action
Date: 3:01 PM
To: Rad Geek
Subject: Fired up and ready to go

. . .

We need to continue the same level of involvement and commitment to whatever this Presidency needs of us to accomplish all that we believe can be done. Yes we can, Yes we did, and Yes we will!—Judith C., Salem, MA

. . .

We have to be prepared to go through with whatever we need to—even if that means some sacrifice. Obama will lead the way!—Sarah A., Greer. SC

. . .

Let Barack know that we stand ready to go to work. Take advantage of our energy and enthusiasm for the common good, put us to work.—Jeff R., Boulder, CO

. . .

Be willing to work with him and make personal sacrifice for the good of our country and our children’s future.—Stephanie L., Laguna Niguel, CA

I don’t know whether these sentiments are actually representative of the MoveOn membership, or whether MoveOn selected a few unusual comments that seemed most useful to their purposes. But in either case, this sort of sentiment — that grassroots, street-level organizations should stand ready, not as a countervailing social force to direct recently-elected politicians and to keep them on track for the grassroots’ own agenda, but rather as shock troops for some messianic leader to issue marching orders to and put … to work, even at great personal sacrifice, for whatever the leader may require — is the sort of thing that ought to disgust anyone who genuinely believes in people-powered community organizing, and ought to terrify anyone who believes in the principles of a free and open society.

I’ve seen that movie before, and I know how it ends.

I guess it really is time to Move On.

See also:

Our Dear Leader

Hey, remember back when MoveOn used to be an anti-war group?

I mean, sure, they’ve always been more than a little too entangled with Democratic Party politicking. And, yeah, they never articulated any particular vision for ways to address the issue except by fundraising, electioneering, voter registration, and periodic useless petitions. But remember back when they used to focus on bringing hardball political tactics to bear on sitting incumbents, to try to prevent the war, or later, to try to end the occupation? When they really identified with, and worked together with, a lot of activists and organizers in the anti-war movement? When they at least put out the occasional real zinger in an anti-war ad or online video?

Now, while the anti-war movement finds itself facing down pepper spray, tear gas, concussion grenades, and rubber bullets in the streets of St. Paul; while antiwar activists are imprisoned without charge or threatened with over 7 years in prison on completely bogus terrorist conspiracy charges; while MoveOn itself can’t be bothered to say a damned thing about it, not even to condemn the heavy-handed attacks on activists and the obvious disregard for basic civil liberties on the part of the Ramsey County sheriff’s department—well. We shouldn’t be too hard on them. They’re busy right now and they have their own great way to make a difference. I know because they sent me an e-mail about it. Their great way to make a difference is getting 50,000 or more people to wear this t-shirt:

The shirt has a giant head of Barack Obama staring off to the horizon, with OBAMA printed in big block letters underneath.

¡Hasta la Obamarquía siempre!

From: Peter Koechley, MoveOn.org Political Action
To: Charles Johnson
Date: September 2, 2008
Subject: Your Obama shirt

Can you donate at least $12 today to help get this program going right away? If you do, we’ll send you a free Obama T-shirt: . . . These high-quality, union-printed American Apparel shirts feel great, they look great, and they’re a great way to make a difference. . . .

From: Peter Koechley, MoveOn.org Political Action
To: Charles Johnson
Date: September 3, 2008
Subject: 50,000 Obama shirts?

. . . Can you help us put our organizers on the ground and reach our goal of 50,000 T-shirts? Click here to chip in $12 so we can send you a free Obama T-shirt:

. . .

Thanks for all you do. [sic—R.G.]

—Peter

When your starry-eyed messianic enthusiasm, hitched up to your self-satisfied professional-class Progressivism, along with a crew of robotic partisan hacks and apparatchiks, has ended up in a creepy theo-electoral cult of personality that really defies satire — because all that needs to be done is to point at you, just as you are, too obvious to even bother parodying — well, then, I guess it really is time to MoveOn.

And now they bring up you.

Here’s the opening of a MoveOn fundraising letter that I got just before going out of town last week. I’ve cut it off at the point where I stopped reading:

From: Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action <moveon-help@list.moveon.org>
Subject: 60 votes to win
Date: 3/19/2008 6:46 AM

Dear MoveOn member,

It’s happened again and again this year, on every issue we care about. Iraq. Health care. The climate crisis. Strong bills have sailed through the US House, only to stall in the face of Republican obstruction in the Senate. Republicans are on pace to double the Congressional record for the most filibusters.

Here’s the good news: Republicans are defending 23 Senate seats next year, compared to just 12 for the Democrats. Democrats could gain as many as 60 seats in the Senate, enough to break Republican filibusters and usher in a new era of progressive reform.

We’ve got a plan to take advantage of every seat that’s in play, make even more races competitive, and create a progressive majority that will last for a generation. But it’s going to take sustained support from you to pull it off and there’s no time to waste. Can you contribute $15 per month (you can cancel at any time) from now through Election Day?

Last year, the Senate Republicans obstructed numerous bills including stalling health insurance for the children who need it most and blocking a time-line to bring the troops home from Iraq.

Now look at some of the proposals from the Democratic presidential candidates that will almost certainly take 60 votes in the Senate to pass:

  • No more blank checks in Iraq

. . .

I stopped reading here because this is a lie.

It does not take 60 votes in the Senate to pass No more blank checks in Iraq. It does not take a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate — any more than it takes a veto-proof majority in the House — to halt blank-check funding for the Iraq War.

It doesn’t take positive legislation of any kind at all to halt funding for the Iraq War; all that it takes is a lack of any more laws to keep on funding it, whether in the form of regular budget line items or in the form of the repeated off-the-ledger infusions of cash which go to fund the Occupation’s perpetual state of emergency. Republican Senators can’t filibuster a non-bill and neither can President George W. Bush — or any President who might succeed him — veto it. It doesn’t take 60 Senators or 290 Representatives to stop bills from passing. All you need is a simple majority, which the Democrats already have, and have had for the last year and a half, and with which they have done worse than nothing over and over again.

The reason that those blank checks keep getting written, with Democrat Harry Reid and Democrat Nacy Pelosi’s signatures right by the X, is because the Democratic leadership, so-called, doesn’t give enough of a damn about ending the war to take on the political costs of blocking funding for it. The only reason that they could possibly think that doing what they want depends on having a larger majority than they already have is if what they want to do is something other than halting war funding.

The Democratic leadership clearly wants a larger majority in Congress, and they are going to keep on giving George Bush every dollar he asks for unless and until they get that larger majority. They don’t need the larger majority to stop sending him the money, so one of two things must be true. Either the Democratic leadership is waiting until they consolidate more political power so that they can pass a plan which will prolong the war rather than ending it, or else they are waiting until they consolidate more political power because they don’t want to end the war until after they’ve fully exploited it as a campaign issue in the upcoming Congressional and Presidential elections. In either case, the strategy is despicable. And in either case, it’s shameful to see a putatively antiwar group repeating their opportunistic lies.

No union with war-mongers, spiritually or politically.

Further reading:

In Ten Words or Fewer: brass tacks edition

From a recent MoveOn update/fundraiser on the importance of intervening in Democratic Party primaries:

From: Adam Ruben, MoveOn.org Political Action
To: Rad Geek
Subject: Victory! Progressives defeat a right-wing Dem in Congress
Date: 2/13/2008 9:50 AM

We’ve been working together for years to make sure Democrats hold to progressive values and stand up to President Bush. It hasn’t always been easy. But yesterday, something amazing happened.

In what the Washington Post called a stunning victory, progressive underdog Donna Edwards triumphed in her primary against right-wing Democrat Al Wynn. That’s one more vote for ending the war, for affordable health care, for ending global warming. And thousands of MoveOn members pitched in time, money, and shoe leather to make it possible.

. . .

In 2006, we helped Democrats take back Congress from the Republicans. And while many Democrats have stood up against the war and corporate interests, . . .

Oh, yeah? Name some.

That damned war isn’t funding itself.