Joe Pitts-- An Existential Threat To The United States And Why He Must Be Defeated... Why We Must Defeat Him
Stupak-Pitts... one down, one to go
At 2pm (EST)-- 11 here on the West Coast-- Blue America will formally endorse an extraordinary progressive Democrat running for Congress in southeastern Pennsylvania, Aryanna Strader. Karoli will be hosting the live blogging session with Aryanna at Crooks and Liars and Karoli's perspective primarily covers why Blue America is so excited about Aryanna as a person and a leader. To help DWT readers understand exactly who Aryanna is up against, we asked Anne Enke (AnneofCarversville.com) to give us an idea of who, exactly Joe Pitts is. Anne is a Fortune 100 women's lifestyle and product design consultant and a key executive of Victoria's Secret for 10 years. Within weeks, Anne will launch her new GlamTribale.com jewelry collection, with 5% of revenues earmarked to support Planned Parenthood PA and another 5% to buy sanitary napkins for African girls who have none. Anne intends to build a
nonpartisan network of women and men dedicated to electing prochoice women to Congress. She recently moved to Philadelphia from New York City. Please visit Anne Enke’s Spittin’ Out the Pitts Campaign on Facebook: http:// www.facebook.com/pages/Spittin-Out-The-Pitts/343245912415214/ What follows is her story, an essential part of America's story-- much more than just a report of who and what Joe Pitts is.
When PA 16th district Representative Joe Pitts became the head of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health after the 2010 mid-term elections, some American women knew we were in for a rough ride.
Congressman Joe Pitts has been an anti-abortion advocate for decades and an avowed foe of Planned Parenthood. The only form of sex education Pitts will endorse is the failed program of abstinence. And of course, Pitts is anti-gay marriage.
Finding a Voice, Taking a Stand
In the fall of 2009, American women and the men in our lives certainly took our right to contraception and other reproductive health services for granted.
Yes, the anti-abortion debate swirled constantly around us. The tone was shifting but still not in a truly frightening way. My group was being called murderers of countless innocent children for having used an IUD as my favored method of birth control.
The voices that had stalked me for a year in the 70s, threats marking me for death and putting me in police protection for a year in Buffalo, New York, grew more pronounced. In the late 70s, I walked away from a career in journalism after decapitated animals, bloody knives and my hanging rope arrived daily.
When my masked stalker finally flew across the windshield of my car on a cold fall night, I fought for my life, gunning the accelerator in self-survival mode. Sobbing on the phone to the now well-known and very supportive lieutenant of my police department, I explained that I didn’t know if my pro-life stalker was dead or alive in the parking lot.
My crime? As an American woman in a free country, I did not understand supporting the Supreme Court Roe decision on a TV panel would put my life at risk.
Luckily, I am talented in business and was able to redirect my career, once I understood that being a journalist who agreed with Supreme Court decisions was reason to kill me. I was young then.
Rationally and perhaps arrogantly, I did not believe then or now, that my life is equal to that of a fertilized egg.
In the fall of 2009, I was more involved trying to end the barbaric flogging of 40,000 women a year in Sudan for wearing loose-fitting gabardine trousers, than to seriously worry about the United States banning birth control.
My focus changed abruptly as the cold, autumn weather moved into Manhattan.
Hijacking the Affordable Care Act
I heard the word ‘incubator’ uttered by Bart Stupak when referencing some technical mumbo around the amendment proposed by the C Street Democrat and his Republican partner Joe Pitts to the Affordable Care Act.
The said incubator wasn’t some life-saving machine for a baby born prematurely. The incubator under discussion was part of Mitt Romney’s shiny objects discussion. The mama machine was a living, breathing, average American woman for whom having a baby should be a major life decision.
The incubator was an American female citizen who votes. She was my sister, your daughter, the woman you love deeply, my best friend, and your mom.
Listening to American women citizens being referred to as incubators on the steps of the nation’s capitol, I felt for the first time to be a nonperson in my own country.
As a nonperson, I made the decision to reengage in the political process and tough journalism, at whatever the cost to myself.
I’m supporting Democratic candidate Aryanna Strader in her bid to unseat Republican Joe Pitts in the 16th district of Pennsylvania, because I believe in personhood for American women, men and children.
Knowing in advance that I will be criticized, it is time to say on behalf of millions of American women, that my life is not equal to that of a fertilized egg.
The very idea that Joe Pitts wants to give a multi-cell egg the same legal status as me terrifies me-- and not because I an un-American.
Up to Our Eyeball in Vaginal Probes
As American women, we are up to our eyeballs in vaginal probes, ultrasound legislation, and state mandates on exactly how our faces will be positioned to watch the ultrasound.
Our lives are details in the fine print. If we don’t like the government taking physical control of our heads and vaginas, we can close our eyes, suggested Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett. Or we can leave this country. Good riddance to bad rubbish!
Republicans would call this physical takeover of women’s bodies fascism in another country. In America they call it divine-right nation patriotism, an obligation to obey a higher calling than city, state and federal laws and Supreme
Joe Pitts works for God first, the people second and he will tell you that in no uncertain terms.
When Joe Pitts introduced HR 358 “Protect Life Act” in the fall of 2011, it was promptly renamed the “Let Women Die” bill, because it allowed hospitals that receive federal funds to turn away a woman suffering a miscarriage and requiring an abortion to save her life.
In a country where our Republican-led Supreme Court, ruled that women have a right to privacy that gives them access to contraception and early abortion, Joe Pitts HR 358 “Protect Life Act” sought to turn back this law further.
Presently, a woman suffering a miscarriage must be transferred to another hospital by a Catholic hospital that refuses to help her.
In one out of six hospitals in America-- health institutions now run by the Catholic bishops-- a grown woman with three kids and a loving husband would not be transferred to another hospital to save her life under HR 358. The bishops consider that act enabling an abortion for which punishment is hell.
The mother’s life meant nothing except condolences and prayers for her family’s healing in HR 358. Better a mourning husband and three kids with no mother, than an aborted fetus, is the Catholic Church’s position.
In less dramatic circumstances, a woman can’t have her tubes tied after giving birth, as a permanent form of birth control in these same Catholic hospitals. It is not her body to control, but rather that of God and the Catholic bishops.
Joe Pitts and his HR 358 bill reaffirmed the obvious to growing numbers of American women. The reality is that American women who are preoccupied with family, jobs and making the mortgage payment in a dreadful economy must now deal with government intervention into the very physicality of our bodies.
Stand here. Spread your legs. Shut up, woman. You have no rights; we’re focused on your fetus. This is now the American way in our Republican House of Representatives.
The man Joe Pitts, who chairs the committee that governs the life of every woman in America, is not focused on women’s health. He is focused on projecting your fertilized eggs. For the life of me, I don’t understand how-- in good faith-- laws are being written in this country that allow women to die, with the full knowledge that her fetus can’t survive without her.
A Measly 3% of Women
Pushing back against a chorus of outraged American citizens, the Joe Pitts crowd protested that only 3% of abortions in America are really and truly to save the life of the mother.
Let me share the same information with you through another lens. Guttmacher Institute estimates about 1.2 million annual abortions in America.
Can you imagine any other piece of legislation in Congress like Joe Pitts’ HR 351 that would slough off the deaths of 40,000 American women each year by denying them a legal, life-saving procedure in our hospitals?
Don’t tell American women with functioning brains that there is no Republican-led war on women-- with Joe Pitts at the front of the parade.
How many women dying in America’s emergency rooms are too many for the Joe Pitts crowd to say “Wow, guys. Maybe if it’s 50,000 women at risk, we should pull back. “ Would 75,000 women influence Joe Pitts? 100,000 women a year?”
Do American women need to take a reality check that we incubators with serious health problems are just collateral damage on your road to a theocracy?
Sanctity of Whose Life?
Do not talk to me about sanctity of life, because you are not focused on mine, as a living and breathing citizen of this country. These egregious anti-personhood for women laws wear no political label and apply to Republican, Democratic and Independent women alike.
I say that American women deserve a representative who supports our right to live in a state of safe guarantees of being treated in American hospitals. She is entitled to a happy, sexually fulfilled marriage that doesn’t require her to keep an aspirin between her legs at night, for fear of getting pregnant.
Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, it’s time to stand for personhood for women as a higher priority than the alleged federal and state rights of fertilized eggs and zygotes-- a concept totally rejected by a Republican US Supreme Court four decades ago.
Next Up: Contraception
If you think only abortion rights are at stake, think again my friends. Pitts is committed to ending women’s rights to most hormonal contraception. In a Pitts world, you’re on the rhythm method – and I honestly don’t know if he seeks to regulate that aspect of the martial union or not.
Joe Pitts is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act HR374, introduced on January 20, 2011, a bill that strikes at the heart of legal contraception.
You may know it as a personhood bill and you should be shaking in your sneakers over this legislation, also. Mitt Romney supports this bill.
In the midst of a really serious recession in America, where women and especially young, unmarried women should be having fewer babies or none at all, Joe Pitts wants to remove all impediments to pregnancy.
Incubators don’t decide when they want to have a baby. They provide life support 24 hours a day.
Joe Pitts wants to define life’s beginning as the moment when a human egg is fertilized, and seeks to do it under the 14th amendment, putting his vision of human rights directly opposed to the current legal interpretation of the 14th amendment. Women now have certain rights over their own bodies including birth control, as part of judicial interpretation of the 14th amendment.
It gets worse.
Utah’s Miscarriage Is A Felony Bill
Personhood bills make the state the enforcer of women’s bodies all through their pregnancy with potentially devastating consequences.
A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate in February 2010 made it a crime-- a felony-- for a woman to have a miscarriage, as a result of “reckless behavior.” Lawyers agreed that a pregnant woman could be prosecuted for not wearing rubber-sole shoes on a rainy day, if she slipped, fell and suffered a miscarriage.
A courageous Republican governor refused to sign the Utah bill, knowing there weren’t enough votes for an override. Joe Pitts would support that bill.
South Dakota’s Justifiable Homicide Law
In South Dakota, a bill was introduced to make it justifiable homicide for one family to kill another one, in the act of abetting an abortion. It would be legal for a man to kill his wife, if she took their 15-year-old daughter to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Minnesota to get an abortion. Joe Pitts would support that bill, which was withdrawn after bloggers like myself went into a digital orbit of
The Joe Pitts crowd talks about how America has changed and they long for the good old Ozzie & Harriet days when everyone knew their place.
I agree that America has changed, but in a different way.
Increasingly women are being hunted all over America, as if we are not persons, not citizens with our own right to life.
The Silencing of Independent-Thinking American Women
Last week in Michigan, an elected representative, Lisa Brown, was silenced and called out of order for asking government to stay our of her vagina, when the word “vagina” is used in the legislation three times. Lisa Brown lost her right to free speech. It’s not on the record, but Joe Pitts probably supports that action-- and Michigan’s most restrictive to women’s rights legislation in the country.
Last weekend in Virginia, the newly-formed, financially successful Women’s Strike Force, founded by Republican Katherine Waddell as a bipartisan coalition to support pro-choice candidates in Virginia, was not allowed to sponsor a table at the state Republican convention. Organizers said the application was never received.
By now, American women know where we stand with the Joe Pitts crowd.
Bearing Dead Fetuses in Georgia
A few months ago, women were compared to cows in Atlanta, as a smarty-pants legislator explained that requiring a woman to carry a dead fetus until it aborted naturally was no different than what he witnessed on his own farm. Nature isn’t always fair but God never gives women a burden that we can’t bear.
The utter dehumanization of woman’s physical beings, with the state of Georgia’s demand that she carry a dead fetus in her body was abhorrent, frightening and disgusting to most American women.
The nightmare that women have witnessed in America in the last two years is only beginning.
My challenge isn’t that we wake up to what might happen to women in this country. I challenge all of us to believe that this bad dream will only escalate, as America grinds to a bureaucratic, political battle standoff that demands the unthinkable: return America to the 50s in order to execute God’s grand plan.
Whether the majority of American citizens want to live this way is inconsequential.
The people’s rights, and specifically women’s rights are not the concern of the Joe Pitts crowd. Lancaster district 16’s representative openly admits that he is a steward of the unborn, a greater priority than his own constituency.
Is Joe Pitts a Theocrat?
Being a responsible writer, I will say that there is no clear answer to this question.
There is no doubt that Joe Pitts is committed to ending abortion rights in America and he is prepared to sacrifice a large number of American women’s lives to achieve that goal.
Whether Joe Pitts-- like avowed dominionists Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry-- believes in an American theocracy with the Bible being the source of law and order is unknown.
Since the late 1970s, Joe Pitts is a core member of The Family, a highly-- secretive elite Christian organization that consists of men in power worldwide.
Jeff Sharlet, called by Ann Coulter one of the stupidest journalists in America, lived in one of the Fellowship Foundation’s properties in Virginia and wrote the book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
The anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-free market ideology of The Family operates according to what they call “totalitarianism for Christ,” says Sharlet.
The group’s organization reflects standard right-wing fundamentalist politics; and its leaders praise Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot for the way they demanded complete loyalty.
There are no evident denials of this assertion by Sharlet about The Family but rather efforts to create context. Stalin and Hitler are extolled because of their abilities to persuade the general populace to follow their beliefs. These guys are admired for running a tight ship.
Family members who are willing to speak-- and that’s not many-- stress that the powerful people associated with The Family come from different faiths and are believers in the power of prayer.
I read Sharlet’s book earlier this week and it is a major who’s who of movers and shakers in the world. The assertions of regular prayer groups at the Pentagon and the Department of Defense are undisputed facts.
It was the job of Joe Pitts to turn that Republican-focused organization around, introducing family values and an anti-women’s rights agenda into The Family’s sphere of consideration.
I’m compelled to admit that Hillary Clinton has ties to The Family, and I would be remiss not to point out that fact.
Given the Secretary of State’s recent critique that American extremists like Joe Pitts are out to control women, I can’t honestly say that her associations with The Family have dampened her fight for women’s rights.
In Clinton’s words:
Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn't matter what country they're in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.
Yes, it is hard to believe but even here at home we have to stand up for women's rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us because America needs to set an example for the entire world.
Daily Beast writer Lisa Miller agrees that The Family invites criticism because they maintain a closely guarded database of membership, issue no cards, and collect no official dues. When a journalist asked Michigan’s Bart Stupak about his connections to The Family and living at C Street, he replied “We don’t like to talk about that.”
Values Action Team
On arrival in Congress, Joe Pitts became chairman of the Values Action Team (VAT), a subgroup of the Republican Study Committee dedicated to coordinating legislation with the Christian right.
Tom DeLay organized the VAT after Focus on the Family founder James Dobson threatened to lead a walkout of religious organizations from the Republican party over its lack of action on curtailing abortion, school prayer, restricting gay rights, and school voucher aid.
After a federal judge ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Chester County courthouse in 2002, Congressman Pitts issued a statement saying “I think that religion and the Ten Commandments in particular should have a role in our public life.”
Pitts supported the Ten Commandments Defense Act HR 2045, which sought to return all rights to display the 10 Commandments on public buildings to the states.
In 2009 Pitts joined a friend of the court brief filed by Pat Robertson’s American Center of Law and Justice that recognized “the undeniable truth that our freedoms come from a source higher than the state.”
On the face of it, no individual position taken by Joe Pitts condemns my worst fears about him-- that he is a theocrat. He has me terrorized enough without my making up stories about him.
These unfolding, unsettling revelations about Pitts and his determination to let thousands of American women die unattended in America’s emergency rooms if their lives are in danger comes within the larger context of religion in American politics.
Religion and American Politics
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reports that in 1996 Americans were united with 42% of Republicans and Independents, and 44% of Democrats saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics.
In a March 2012 poll, 44% of Republicans still embraced that view, while 60% of Democrats and 58% of Independents say that churches are too involved in American politics.
51% of the Pew-surveyed public says that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party, while the same poll found that only 41% believe secular liberals have too much control over the Democratic Party.
Another recent Pew Research report cites a plummeting decline in the belief in science among social conservatives, and we’re not only talking about evolution versus creationism.
Joe Pitts and “Christian Reconstructionism”
When one of my advisers on writing this essay about Joe Pitts sent me to his last-minute, cancelled appearance at a November 2002 conference on “Christian Reconstructionism,” I was stupefied.
“Christian Reconstructionism” seeks to impose Biblical law on America.
Did Joe Pitts just accidentally agree to take the podium because he was charged by his Values Action Team mission to outreach with all religious conservatives?
Did Joe Pitts not do his investigative homework or were Christian Reconstructionists well known to him as friends?
The Congressman suffered a terrible embarrassment a few weeks ago, with a belated response from his office to questions about Israeli-Palestinian relations.
The form letter from Joe Pitts’ office told his constituent:
"With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed.”
Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about foreign affairs knows that Arafat has been dead for eight years and Sharon has been in a coma for six.
Is lack of attention to detail the reason why Joe Pitts had accepted an invitation to speak at a conference of the National Reform Association in Ephrata, Pa?
Adherents of this religious-political agenda favor establishing a rigid “Christian Reconstructionism” religious state in America. This form of theocracy is one of the most radical forms of Dominionism-- which says that Christians have a God-- given right to rule all earthly institutions in every nation of the world.
Republican candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry embrace Dominionism. Christian right leader Ralph Reed has denounced it. Mike Huckabee is very closely linked to the Christian Reconstructionist movement.
Pitts bowed out as a speaker at the November 2002 event, only after Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked him if he really wanted to lend credibility to a group that “advocates extreme polities that run counter to our Constitution and the American way of life.”
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn was referring to the fact that one of Christian Reconstructionism’s chief advocates Rev. William Einwechter argued in a 1999 article that juvenile delinquents should be stoned to death. Another speaker at the event, Gary DeMar, asserted in a 1987 book that gay people, abortion doctors and people who seek abortions should be executed.
According to these religious beliefs the inflexible anti-abortion Joe Pitts was prepared to stand at the Ephrata, Pa event with a group embracing the execution of one in three Catholic women-- if the law was retroactive-- or almost 10 percent of American women.
This is not the view of men who believe in personhood for American women.
Isn’t it a bit chilling that Rev. Lynn was the one to persuade Joe Pitts to cancel his speaking engagement with the Einwechter-DeMar crowd with a public challenge?
On the subject of stoning American citizens, Daily Beast writer Michelle Goldberg wrote in January 2012 about Ron Paul’s Christian Reconstructionist Roots, which he doesn’t openly discuss.
This entire conversation seems preposterous-- except that once state legislatures are telling American women that we must bring a dead fetus in our body to term, anything is possible in America. All bets are off, and I don’t recognize the country I grew up in-– a town of 1000 people in Minnesota.
Stoning is Reconstructionists’ preferred method of execution because it is both biblical and fiscally responsible. Rocks are, in Christian Reconstructionist leader Gary North’s words, “cheap, plentiful, and convenient.”
Finding a True Spirit of Justice
2002 was the year that George Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered that curtains be draped over the naked breast of Spirit of Justice.
Lady Justice was commissioned in 1933 from sculptor C Paul Jennewein, along with the bare-chested, male counterpart Majesty of Law who was not curtained.
Many progressives and independents raised their eyebrows in 2002, mocking the irony of Ashcroft’s order to cover up the Spirit of Justice-– at the US Department of Justice.
Today John Ashcroft teaches Constitutional Law at televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University School of Law.
It’s the job of leaders like John Ashcroft to raise the academic credentials of the institution once rated a fourth-tier school by US News & World Report.
Every war needs revolutionary patriots and the law students of Regent University are deeply committed to a makeover for America.
Yes, John Ashcroft is another core member in The Family, writes Jeff Sharlet. John Ashcroft and Joe Pitts are long-time close friends, according to numerous Google citations.
Aryanna Strader: Estrogen Meets Testosterone
Why must the vast majority of Americans who believe there is too much religion in politics gamble with the future of women’s lives in a political environment that puts fertilized eggs on a higher list of respect than our own lives?
It’s my goal to shift PA’s 16th Congressional Race between Joe Pitts and Aryanna Strader into the national limelight, asking you to contribute to her campaign.
Only a comparatively small group of PA voters will decide the fate of millions of American women this November.
I respect the complexity of picking a candidate that truly represents the hearts and minds of this beautiful countryside and hardworking farmers and patriotic American families.
To better understand Aryanna’s community of voters, I will be meeting many of you on July 22 at Lancaster’s Food and Spirits Festival. My business partner and I will showcase a collection of ‘Spittin Out the Pitts’ Jewelry, created in support of Aryanna Strader’s candidacy and fundraising efforts.
There is no confusion about Democratic candidate Aryanna Strader. She does not belong to secret societies and wouldn’t be invited to join The Family. I doubt we will find her in Uganda, fomenting the execution of homosexuals, an action well-documented against evangelical ministers believed to be associated with The Family.
Aryanna Strader is a dream woman candidate, one of the most focused, goal-oriented, self-disciplined people I’ve met in a very long time. My own focus has been largely job creation and entrepreneurial success in America. But I know a great political candidate when I meet one.
The youngest of 10 children in a poor family, Aryanna rose above her roots to become a highly-decorated Iraqi veteran with strong support from Lancaster County’s Quaker community.
Aryanna is happily married with two children Donovan and Camryn, an MBA-credentialed wife and business partner to husband Dan Strader, and mom to their Shetland Sheepdog Brownie.
Did I tell you that Aryanna Strader is 29 years old? Quite frankly, the woman makes me dizzy. Aryanna is-- well-- magical, and a magnificent, earnest representative of the people of the 16th district.
Imagine PA’s conservative 16th district delivering the youngest member ever elected to the House of Representatives-- and a woman at that!! You will rewrite the history books.
We are grateful that Blue America has chosen to elevate Aryanna’s visibility in her critical race to unseat Joe Pitts this November.
Many of my readers are Republicans and Independents, not only progressive Democrats. I consider myself to be an Independent and have been a registered Republican many years of my life. There is no place for women like me in today’s Republican party.
My appeal is to women and men across America to help fund Aryanna Strader’s race.
If you intend to vote for Mitt Romney but identity with the Republican women and men of Texas who are on record saying they will fund Planned Parenthood, rather than let Rick Perry shut down the organization, I ask you to contribute to Aryanna Strader’s campaign.
Defeating Joe Pitts will send a strong message to the Republican party about America’s priorities. Controlling women’s bodies should not be at the top of America’s to do list.
There is no reasoning with the far right wing, no compromise as in the years of the Hyde Amendment. Republican Joe Pitts has given me no choice but to become a maverick for American women.
Join our Spittin’ Sisters campaign to send Aryanna Strader where she belongs: the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.