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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Justice Ginsburg is right about Roe

It looks like my writer’s block is over.

The NYTimes has an editorial about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s thoughts on Roe v. Wade.  This is prompted by her tepid approach to marriage equality and that a grand sweeping ruling may become the new political football that provokes a backlash.  I’m not sure that’s true in this case because as I wrote in my previous post, the right has some potentially good reasons for trying to steal the gay voting bloc away from Democrats.  They may try to present marriage equality as a fait accompli to their more religious base that is dying out anyway.

At any rate, half of the gay population is already in the privileged class simply because they are men.  As long as they kept their sexual orientation under the radar, there was nothing stopping gay men from partaking of all of the benefits of being male in this society.  In a way, I think the success of marriage equality depends on men standing their ground and refusing to give up those privileges.  The fact that lesbian couples may also benefit is just icing on the cake.  So, maybe Ginsberg’s concerns are less grounded this time around.  Besides, what are the Bible Belt states going to do?  Become more obstinate, belligerent and Republican than they already are towards gay couples?  Is that even possible?

But it’s a different story when it comes to Roe v. Wade.  My theory is that Roe dealt a huge blow to the movement for women’s equality because once it was decided, many women had the mistaken idea that the battle was won.  Instead, Roe became the political football for BOTH political parties.   It’s the primary criteria for which party voters decide they belong.  It’s the fear tactic that Democrats use to corral women to vote against their economic interests as much as it is the tactic that Republicans use to rally their constituents to feel power and control over other people’s lives.

Not only is Roe a political football, it has had major repercussions in setting back women’s equality.  Because abortion has been such a cultural hot potato, we tend to see women as a collection of body parts, primarily reproductive body parts.  We are uteruses and vaginas and breasts and all of our discussion is about who gets to control those body parts.  I am not a man or a male hiring manager but I have to wonder what crosses men’s minds when they see a female colleague.  Do they consider her intelligence, determination, ingenuity and hard work or do they secretly thank god that they weren’t born with ovaries that are subject to religious and governmental regulation?  There are things the state can compel or forbid a woman from doing that men don’t have to worry about.  I cannot believe that this doesn’t have an effect on how women are perceived in all the various aspects of her life.  Maybe if she were a bit smarter, she wouldn’t have to put up with that.

I do not agree with the NYTimes editorial board that women wouldn’t have won their reproductive freedom without Roe.  This is going to sound weird but when I was on the cusp of puberty back in 1970 when New York allowed abortions, feminism was vibrantly alive and kicking, unlike 2013 when it’s barely visible, tepid and calling yourself a feminist is outré and derogatory.  You younguns don’t even know.  You had to be there.  Women were on a roll. I was brought up in a religiously fundamentalist household and yet I was a raging feminist back in the early 70s just like many of my friends.  The world was our oyster and we could do anything. The zeitgeist was definitely and defiantly feminist.  Roe brought that to a screeching halt.  If Roe had failed, there would still have been states where you could have gotten an abortion and the fight would have intensified, not slackened because the effects of abortion restrictions elsewhere would still be vividly real.

So, if Bader-Ginsburg’s concerns are that Roe short circuited the political drive and momentum for women’s full equality, then I totally agree with her.  There were a million reasons why Roe should have been decided as the law of the land but the best one is that women are free and equal persons whose rights should not be abridged simply because they have different genitalia.

Instead, what we have is a hollowed out right to abortion and no equality because we stopped fighting.

Dump Roe.  Revive the ERA.

3 Questions, Maybe 4

Will Democrats propose an amendment that no woman will be forced carry an unwanted fetus…. or be forced to abort one?

Will Democrats propose an amendment making it unconstitutional for Legislators to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship or practice medicine without a license?

Will Democrats propose a Voting Rights amendment outlawing electronic voting machines and requiring the public counting of ballots?

As Lambert says in Oh, my. Akin’s back.

Does anybody seriously believe that electing Obama will make a dime’s worth of difference stopping rape, or for women generally? Why would they? Does anybody actually read what Obama says, or watch what he does? Let’s put the famous “rape is rape” in context, shall we? Let’s roll the transcript:

Go, on — read it!

If buying a gun in Texas were as easy as getting an abortion

Imagine the legislation…

The buyer would have to go to an approved gun dispensary.  The dimensions of the dispensary would be strictly regulated and the dispensary might end up in a seedy part of town in an unmarked building.  The gun dispensary owner would not be allowed to advertise. Because the regulations would be difficult to meet, there would be less than a handful of dispensaries legally licensed to sell firearms.  A person from Amarillo might have to drive to Galveston to get one.

The free speech rights of anti-gun protestors would be protected.  Prospective gun buyers would not be shielded from protestors petitioning or discouraging the buyer from purchasing a gun as long as the protestors do not approach within a certain number of feet from the buyer and refrain from touching the buyer.

It would be illegal for anyone to refer the buyer to a gun dispensary. However, it would not be illegal for an anti-gun organization to masquerade as a gun dispensary for the purposes of shaming the prospective buyer or talking him or her out of buying a gun.  No exceptions to this advice rule would be made for hunters or other people who may have a specific use for guns that does not include the potential for shooting people.

The gun dispensary owner would need to provide proof of education in the types and uses of firearms.  A degree from an accredited university would be the only proof accepted.  He or she would need to be licensed for each type of firearm.  An assault weapons ban might mean that the buyer would have to travel to one of the few places in the country that sells them to get one.

Prospective buyers would be required to undergo mandatory counseling on the use and effect of firearms.  The buyer would not be able to opt out of this counseling.  If the buyer still wants to buy a gun after the counseling, he or she would need to sign a form certifying that they are aware of the dangers of the use of firearms and that using them may cause lifelong emotional damage and sexual impotence to the user.

During the counseling session, the seller will show the buyer photographs of gun shot victims.  The victims will be shown with their heads blown off and their bellies eviscerated.  The emotional anguish of gunshot victims’ families will also be shown in visual and auditory form.  No compensatory images of poor hunters feeding their families will be permitted.  The audio and video portion of the presentation must be intrusive enough to be unavoidable to the prospective buyer.

After the presentation, the gun seller will read the consent form to the buyer again and ask the buyer to affirm that they are aware of all of the dangers associated with the purchase of a gun.  The seller will also be required to discuss alternatives to firearms, such as compound bows, boomerangs, snares and vegetarianism.  There will be an emphasis on vegetarianism to ensure that the teachings of certain religions are promoted with the acquiescence of the state.  Adherence to Hindu or other plant based religions would not be necessary for the buyer, only recognition and understanding of the deep ethical philosophy behind religious vegetarianism.

No exceptions would be made to save the health or life of the buyer.  Medical reasons for hunting, such as a prescribed Caveman Diet to prevent intestinal inflammation of a debilitating nature due to celiac disease, or the existence of a restraining order from a abusive spouse, would not be acceptable excuses for failing to attend the mandatory counseling session or meeting all of the other requirements before obtaining the gun.

There will be a mandatory 72 hour waiting period to give the buyer an opportunity to change his or her mind.

It would be illegal for the counseling to take place over the phone or the internet.

After the waiting period is complete, the buyer would be required to return to the gun dispensary for the mandatory rectal examination of the prostate with an ultrasound device.  The purpose of this examination is to determine the state of the prostate prior to gun purchase and to assure that the buyer understands the risk to his sexual health.  A similar examination will be made of a woman’s rectum for no good reason but if she is engaged in buying a gun, she has already given her consent to an anal probe.

After this examination, the gun buyer would be allowed to purchase the gun and go on his or her merry way, provided walking is still possible.

The above regulations would not be considered intrusive or burdensome to your 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

Red Beanie Boys: nuns help poor too much and condemn sexytime violations too little

Has the whole world’s first and second estates’ completely lost it?  I mean, talk about people who could use a refresher course in the classics.  Don’t they remember what happened to all those kings and princes who insisted on playing god with the power of life and death?

The Vatican is definitely pushing the envelope.  They’ve decided to step in and take over a North American nuns organization, rather imperiously, a la the UVA Board of Visitors, because:

In April, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had authorized a takeover of the LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of the nation’s 57,000 nuns and sisters. The Vatican’s “doctrinal assessment” said the group was not sufficiently promoting orthodox teachings on sexuality and gender and was spending too much time focusing on social justice issues.

Although the Vatican has been officially scrutinizing the LCWR for several years — and has viewed the U.S. nuns with some suspicion for decades — the takeover came as a surprise. LCWR leaders requested a face-to-face meeting with Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who Benedict named to direct the Vatican effort.

After last week’s talks in Rome, Farrell and Mock said the meeting had been an opportunity for “open dialogue.” A Vatican spokesman said the meeting took place “in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality.”

But right after the meeting, Levada gave an interview in which he said the talks may in fact be a “dialogue of the deaf,” and said the nuns are associating with people who “aren’t representing the church with any reasonable sense of product identity.” Sartain and another U.S. bishop involved in the takeover also said the investigation was aimed at the LCWR, not nuns in general.

Farrell called Levada’s comment “unfortunate” and in its statement on Monday, the LCWR rejected efforts to try to separate the group from the wider community of U.S. nuns, which it said has “keenly felt” the impact of the Vatican campaign.

Yes, the comment was unfortunate but not nearly as unfortunate as the sentiment behind it.  By the way, when did the Vatican get a marketing department concerned with “product identity”. Can you just imagine the personality statement from the ad and marketing group?

“Our product says tradition.  It is not crunchy granola.  It doesn’t wear jeans or have a vegan diet.  It’s wine in golden goblets. It is not who you want to have a beer with. It says it’s going to be here for another 2000 years. It is gentlemen’s club. It’s about labor and delivery while strapped to a bed, not earth mothers and unassisted home water births. It’s the beauty of shame and the ecstasy of fasting…”

Lovely.  More authoritarianism just keeps coming our way.  This won’t end well.

Meanwhile, here’s a great idea:

Like it matters

Thou shall count to thrrrrree

I read Charles Pierce’s delightful evisceration of Ross Douthat’s new book yesterday.  Ross is pining for the old time religion, which is Catholic, and preferably the old Latin mass variety.  Gosh, remember the days when we all wore lace doilies on our heads and gloves, carried rosary beads everywhere and couldn’t understand a single word that Father Gentili said?

Anyway, if we all just went back to mass and did what the Pope told us and stayed in the rigid little boxes that conservative religion creates for us and stopped searching the internet for answers to the questions that we all have about who wrote the bible and why Jesus didn’t leave explicit instructions about his succession and code of conduct, we’d all be a lot better off.  Don’t question anything and no one gets hurt.

Ross is also hung up over something called the Didache, which I’ve never heard of.  It turns out this mysterious tome has some proscriptions against abortion that Christians are supposed to follow.  Hallelujah for that one since the rest of the bible doesn’t seem to have an opinion on abortion or birth control.  There’s some stuff in the Old Testament about compensating a man for the loss of a fetus due to injury to the mother but it’s a bit tenuous when applied to abortions of fetuses where the paternal unit doesn’t really give a f^&*.

But whatever it is that Douthat is still yearning for is eclipsed by the fact that so many of us out here don’t care about his esoteric scribblings about which ancient 1st and 2nd century texts have the true religion.  If he wants to be the next Saint Augustine, great, but I don’t feel compelled to read his stuff as if it is saying something important to me.  I don’t know if Douthat knows this or not but the Roman Catholic church no longer rules the western world and hasn’t since Henry VIII chucked it out of England.

Former Pentacostal pastor turned atheist Jerry DeWitt says it best: we frequently feel compelled to invest more of our lives in a concept than in the people who most deserve our attention- our family members and friends.  I’d rather live in the present than bury myself in the musty, dusty texts of people who lived thousands of years ago when flush toilets hadn’t been invented and when a husband could direct his wife to expose girl babies to the elements. I’m not sure I want to be pulled back to the 1st century and I’d really appreciate it if people like Douthat would stop trying to take us there.

The thing that irritates me about some religious conservatives like Douthat is their insistence that as many people as possible think just like they do.  Divergence of opinion is simply unacceptable and they will not give up trying to convert you until you fit into their predertermined worldview.  They remind me of pathologically obsessive-compulsive people who have to touch doorknobs three times or must have vacuum tracks on their carpets that cannot be disturbed by children.  People like that need to get as many people as possible around them to comply so that they’re not driven crazy by imperfections and inconsistencies.  They need medication, not indulgence.

Besides, there is something that Douthat simply refuses to acknowledge (or is freaking out about).  Many of us don’t believe in the Judeo-Christian god, bible and religion.  I don’t know where Douthat has been in the past several decades but there are a lot of people of different faiths here in the US of A and not all of them have a stick up their butt about the bible like Douthat has.  Not only that but there are some people who don’t believe in a god at all.  And as DeWitt says, once you don’t believe, you have only two choices.  You can admit that you don’t believe and be true to yourself, or you could pretend to believe.  Pretending to believe is called faith and a lot of people do it.  It is belief in something in the complete absence of evidence.  And, you know, if that’s what you want to do, knock yourself out.  Don’t let me or anyone else stand in your way.  Just don’t expect the rest of us to act like it matters.

Here’s a clip of DeWitt talking about free will, predestination, faith and why did God put that tree in the garden of Eden in the first place:

God needs a major upgrade and rewrite but let’s not give a project of that importance to a twit like Douthat.

Why don’t more women ask the Democrats “What’s in it for us?”

Melissa McKewn at Shakesville wrote a brilliant post four years ago that is even more relevant today.  At the time, the Clintonistas and other deeply concerned feminists were troubled by the use of misogyny by both political parties but particularly the Democrats and even more particularly, the Obama campaign.  Oh, you thought it was only the PUMAs that got poo flung at them?  No, indeedy.  It was any woman that had the temerity to speak up.  Anyone who threatened to harsh Obama’s mellow was accused of being traitors, whiners, insignificant, stupid, and bringing catastrophe on the whole country.

We’re going through the same thing again this year.  The past four years have been a disaster for women.  It hasn’t been Christmas and Easter and New Years for women under this version of Democrats.  It’s been more like Halloween.  If you weren’t paying attention last time to the myriad ways that Obama bowed and scraped at the feet of evangelicals to get their votes, then the Bart Stupak amendment might have been your wake up call.  Or maybe it was the retention of the Bush Administration’s conscience rule.  Or maybe Rick Warren’s sexist, homophobic version of prosperity based Christianity pissed you off during the inauguration.  Whatever it was, you figured out you had been screwed after it was too late to do anything about it.

But now that you know, what are your options going forward?  Well, read Melissa’s post from four years ago that she republished a couple of days ago.  It’s basically the same thing I’ve been saying for four years.  You have the option to walk away.  Also, Roe is dead, ladies.  We didn’t fight for equality first and now, we’re back to the pre-Roe days where states could make their own rules.  Pretty soon, abortions will only be available in a handful of coastal states, just like it was in the years immediately preceding Roe.  And there are already 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe.  Kennedy will vote to eliminate it when the time comes.  So, there is really no compelling reason to pay any attention to the Democrats’ argument about Roe and the court.  They might get more traction if they focused on the rights of workers or inequality in general or voting rights but, you know, that’s just not this version of the Democratic party’s thing.

One thing is for sure: if you don’t wring some concessions and explicit promises and sincere preliminary steps from the Democrats, and Obama in particular, BEFORE the election, you’re sure as hell going to get the shaft afterwards because the Democrats’ concern with your welfare extends only as far as getting your vote.  Once they have that and get the power they want, you’re history to them.  Don’t make it so easy.

Oh, sure, the party will start to incite panic.  “What are you dooooooing?!?  Don’t you know that there is an election this year?  Why are you bringing up your rights now?  You’re being selfish, stupid, old, unpleasant, unattractive.  You’re collaborating with the Republicans, you’re a Tea Partier, you like that dunce Sarah Palin.  If we don’t win it will be all your fault.”  That is a guilt trip, my friends.  That’s the sound of people who suddenly realize that the urgency on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.  Oh my god! You might actually *believe* in that stuff about bodily autonomy and agency and complete equality under the law.  It will be very inconvenient for them to stop what they are doing to either pacify you or cater to you.  I recommend that you make the Democrats kiss your asses.  Forget about Republicans.  They’re a lost cause.

Here’s how Melissa puts it (but go read the whole thing):

Forward movement for women can happen even in dictatorships, and can be reversed even in democracies—because women’s equality is inextricably linked to so many other cultural variables, like religiosity. To presume that greater democracy will de facto mean increased equality for women is to tacitly buy into Bush’s line about freedom magically emanating from any country deemed a functional democracy. It just doesn’t work that way. A democratically-elected conservative American theocracy would, for example, be anathema to feminism/womanism.

I have many good and important and personal reasons for not wanting the US to become any less democratic than it is now—not least of which is because those agitating for increased authoritarian control of government are simultaneously agitating for increased control of women’s bodies. I also have many good and important and personal reasons for fighting for my equality. Some of those good and important and personal reasons overlap. Some of them don’t. 

The important point here is that, while most USian FWs are undoubtedly interested in voting for the most democratic candidate, it is wrong to reflexively conflate “more democratic” with “more feminist” (even though that’s historically a safe bet). FWs may, in fact, for reasons outlines above, have to votecounter to feminist/womanist principles to vote for the most democratic candidate of the two major parties. That is not a small thing, and it should not be treated as though it is.

I would remind Democrats that what happened to Jon Corzine in NJ could very well happen to Obama.  Corzine as a governor was meh.  He did nothing to reform the highly regressive property tax system here.  He conducted a study and basically threw up his hands and said, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”  Then he gave away our delegate votes to Obama at the convention.  Um, Obama didn’t win NJ.  Not even close.  Hillary won it by 10 points.  In general, Corzine looked like a Wall Street banker and governed pretty much the same way.  Democrats here are still smarting from his loss to Chris Christie.  It really shouldn’t come as a surprise though.  NJ has a history of electing Republican governors.  But that election should have been Corzine’s because, let’s face it, Christie isn’t a moderate Republican that would suit New Jersey’s tastes otherwise.  He’s  kind of crude, loud, a bully, a sexist asshole and definitely out to please his rich friends.  There’s no expectation that he will reform the property tax system, only that he will strangle local governments from growing.  And voters knew that going in.  He’s been a disaster for New Jersey.

But Corzine lost anyway even though he was the favored Democrat in 2009 in a year when Democrats should have had an easy run.  The local Democrats think it was a Christie revolution.  I disagree.  There was a third party candidate on the ballot that year.  His name was Chris Daggett, an independent, and judging from his debate performances, one of which I was able to attend in person, he was the best candidate we had.  Of course, the two major parties have a strangle hold on the ballots and every ballot in every county is different, so Daggett’s name wasn’t easy to locate.  You want to know how it turned out.  Here are the results?

Candidate Chris Christie Jon Corzine Chris Daggett
Party Republican Democratic Independent
Running mate Kim Guadagno Loretta Weinberg Frank Esposito
Popular vote 1,174,445 1,087,731 139,579
Percentage 48.5% 44.9% 5.8%

You’d think the Democrats would have learned their lesson but apparently they haven’t.  It doesn’t take much of a defection to flip a race to your opponent.  And right now, there are a lot of women who are angry enough at the passivity of the Democrats and their arrogant attitude towards the voters that it might be better for US to take our votes elsewhere or split our ticket or not vote at all.

So, you gotta ask yourselves, Democrats, will November 6, 2012 be your lucky day?


Tuesday: Reality Check

So, does anyone believe that the red beanie boys lost their case against no-cost contraceptives in the health insurance plan because Barack Obama has a deep commitment to women’s reproductive freedom or equality?

Or does he have a problem with women and he needs to throw them *just* enough of a bone to win their votes but not enough to piss off the religious too much?

It’s the latter.

While the percentage of Democrats who describe themselves as liberal has also increased since 2000, rising ten points, the Democratic Party remains much more ideologically diverse than the G.O.P. Roughly forty per cent of Democrats call themselves “liberal,” forty per cent call themselves “moderate,” and twenty per cent call themselves “conservative.”

“Such numbers explain why liberals seem destined to perpetual disappointment in Democratic presidents, who cannot lean too far left without alienating the party’s moderate-to-conservative majority,” Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute argues in a recent report.

So, if moderates are still crucial to Obama’s election, what do they look like? Over at Third Way, Michelle Diggles and Lanae Erickson take a deep dive into the data to show that the real swing vote for Obama is a group they call Obama Independents—voters who “liked and voted for [Obama] just 3 years ago… were the most ideologically moderate segment of the electorate,” and “are true swing voters, with one-quarter voting Republican in 2010 and one-quarter voting for President Bush in 2004.” This group, which we are likely to hear a lot about in the coming months, is disproportionately young, female, and secular, and it was hit hard by the recession. One quarter of its members are non-white.

If Obama goes, so does the free Lo-Ovral.

This is the problem with politicians who do not have a coherent worldview, and Obama never has had one.  He has not made any effort to craft policy that will advance women’s equality in the workplace or the doctor’s office.  It’s not one of his goals.  Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on his.  The problem with Democrats is not that their factions are all over the place.  The problem is that they try to cater to these factions without providing a coherent vision for the future.  There is nothing that sticks Democrats together under one united idea of how the country and world should work.  So, Obama careens from one interest group to another trying to thread the needle between pissing off the religious nutcases, who do have a particular worldview, whether we like it or not, and the rest of us.  Plan B is a contraceptive too far.  Women should get a majority vote from their family and pastors before an abortion.  But contraceptives are probably ok, according to the data mining algorithm.

He’s done the same on the banker/financial sector fiasco.  Instead of developing policy and solutions based on an understanding of what is wrong with the economy and having a vision of how it should work, he has taken an ad hoc approach and tries to cut deals with each player individually.  That is more of the Teddy Roosevelt model but it leaves us open to more misbehavior by the banks because there still aren’t any rules to keep them from gambling our money away and then expecting the government to bail them out.  He should have started with the premise that it is wrong to compensate gamblers for their losses and then figure out how to prevent that from happening again.

Well, you know the rest.  Obama is pandering here to his swing voters, who happen to be moderate, secular women of childbearing age, in order to get votes.  He’s going to save them a bunch of money between now and November.  But that won’t get them better jobs or jobs at all.  It won’t prevent Walmart from subtle sexism that prevents women from getting ahead.  It won’t make measurements of workplace parameters to prevent “he said/she said” accusations about discrimination that no one will take seriously.  He’s not interested in equality.  He’s interested in getting re-elected.

No, Obama’s decision to cover contraceptives is a one time only deal.  There’s no systemic change to the culture.  He is not an agent of change.  He is an agent of Obama and women are the worse for it.

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