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Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away

I go to a Mad Men blog these days to chill out from politics.  If you follow Mad Men, you know that Betty Draper found out who her husband really is and that, added to all of the other emotional insults she’s taken over the years, has forced her to come to some decisions in her life.  The first is that she doesn’t love him anymore.   She’s been flirting with a Republican political operative (back in the days when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican) but she rebuffs him in his office when he wants to boff her on his sofa.  It’s tawdry, she says.  And she walks away.  Two episodes later, he proposes to her.  He still hasn’t slept with her.

One of the commenters at Basket of Kisses says that Betty is using a classic negotiation technique: she comes to the table prepared to walk away from it.  There is a line she isn’t willing to cross.  (We’ve seen Betty do tawdry so we know she can.  It’s just that her other little fling didn’t have any high stakes attached to it.)  When it comes to the rest of her life, Betty is being very choosey.

Last year, we were hotly criticized for not jumping on the Obama bandwagon.  We were called every name in the book.  We were told we were jeopardizing the lives of other women because we wouldn’t budge even in the face of Deomcratic scare tactics when it came to abortion.  Some of this was because we doubted the sincerity of a party that scrubbed all references of reproductive rights from most of their candidate’s websites.  But mostly it was because there was a line we were not prepared to cross.  We were not going to let the Democratic party benefit from our votes when we knew they had disenfranchised many of us during the primaries.  We were not going to let the party take our votes for granted.  If they wanted them, they needed to give us something first.  They didn’t and we didn’t.  We walked away.

In retrospect, I think that was a good move on our part.  It revealed the Democratic party for what it really was.  They were mean and nasty to us.  They called us “bitter knitters”.  We were old, uneducated women.  We were racists.  Jon Favreau sent us an FU postcard.  For awhile there, before the economy tanked, they were very worried that we would actually make a difference.  There is power in walking away.

I blame the party for depriving my friends of the pure joy of seeing the first African-American elected as president of the United States of America.  I watched a sea of elation in Bryant Park in Chicago on a TV in a little bar in Manhattan and suddenly, I was one with that crowd.  I was filled with joy and exhileration.  But no one around me was celebrating.  The women I was with saw themselves as roadkill on the way to Obama’s victory.

But we walked away.  And now we have been vindicated.  They really were the awful, big business compromised, evangelical voter toe suckers and all around unprincipled players we thought they were.  The might have run us over but at least we didn’t hop into bed with them.

The rest of the left blogosphere has a choice.  They can continue to be fucked over by these assholes or they can preserve the rest of their dignity and walk away.  The road to rehabilitation starts by ripping up your party card and mailing it to Donna Brazile.  Then, join the rest of us.  We’re the third party.  We’re the rapidly growing group of voters in every state that designates themselves as unaffiliated.  We’re the potential 30% of elected female officials who will change this country.  We’re the people who don’t have to hold our elected officials accountable anymore because we are through dealing with them. And I think we have finally achieved the critical mass to become our own third party.

Just walk away.

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You have no rights

The Stupak amendment, the greatest rollback of rights for women in decades is now in that thing the House has been calling a “Health Care” bill. (Links from Reclusive Leftist, The Confluence, WiredLeft.)

But women are just, as always, the expendable canaries in the coal mine. Their rights are toast, which means so are everyone else’s.


Rights are for all. When only some people have them, they’re just privileges. And privileges can be taken away.

Think through the consequences of what equal rights for all really means, and you wind up with a system that doesn’t look much like what we have now. There’s lots more about it here, but this is the bit (paraphrased) that concerns us right now:

The right to control one’s own person is fundamental. Even the right not to be murdered is secondary, since killing is allowed in self-defence.

Abortion muddies the argument only because some people believe the fetus is a person with legal rights greater than those of the mother since it can require her life support. There is nothing to stop women from believing this and living accordingly because there is a right to control one’s own body. Depending on beliefs, an individual’s dilemma about abortion may be very complex.

But fair social policies are simple. Either everyone can live according to their beliefs, or nobody can. And personhood is necessarily a belief, a social or religious category. It’s not possible for it to be a matter of objective fact. Biology can only determine who belongs in the species Homo sapiens, but no cellular marker lights up when someone is due to get legal rights.

I’ll repeat: personhood is necessarily a matter of belief, whether that’s based on religion or social consensus.

Therefore those who oppose abortion because they believe the fetus is a person with special status have to hope they are never successful in legislating how others handle their pregnancies. If they are, it means that exceptions could be made to the right to control one’s own person.

Once that principle is admitted, then there is nothing to stop a majority with different beliefs from legislating forced abortions.

Over-population is, after all, the source of the environmental problems killing the planet.

There is nothing to stop an aging population from requisitioning a kidney from healthy people walking around with a spare.

There is nothing to stop doctors from performing medical experiments on you for the public good.

There is nothing to stop the majority from deciding all those old folks are too expensive to live.

Really. Nothing. Once you take away the right to control your own body.

Extreme? Sure. So why is it okay when applied to women?

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