Thursday, August 02, 2012

Craziest Republican of the Day: Mike Kelly

Yesterday, as HuffPo's Erin Mershon explains, was "the first day private insurers must include birth control coverage in their plans without charging a co-pay, per requirements in the Affordable Care Act. The change will affect most women on private health plans, with some exceptions. More than a dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives, mostly freshmen, held a press conference to blast the law for what they said were violations of religious freedom."

One of them was Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who wasn't content just objecting to the change. No, he had to provide some historical context:

I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked. One is Dec. 7, that's Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that's the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.

That's right, Kelly compared the first day insurers first had to provide birth control coverage to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, even using the "day that will live in infamy" language from FDR's famous speech the day after the Japanese attack on the former. (Where's the outrage from conservatives who object to any perceived slight to the military?)

Even if you grant that the religious freedom argument has merit here -- and I don't, as I see it as cover for bigotry (e.g., religious freedom to oppose gay rights) -- this is completely ridiculous. It's hyperbole and grandstanding and insanity. (It was Kelly, but also Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Billy Long of Missouri, Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, and Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi. Crazy, the whole lot of 'em.)

This just requires insurers to cover birth control for those who want and need it. Kelly and his band of idiots may think this was "he day religious freedom died in America," but actually the reverse is true. The law is a strike for freedom against religious intolerance and authoritarianism. And as Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York said, "[s]afe, accessible contraception is a fundamental part of virtually every woman's health care at some point in their lives." Indeed, contraception use is almost universal among women in America. (And shouldn't anti-choice Republicans be happy that more birth control use means fewer abortions?)

But of course Republicans are waging war on women with a religious zealotry that is inimical to freedom. August 1 wasn't the day religious freedom died, it was just another day for Republicans to express their out-of-touch, extremist right-wing agenda.

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