2014

re: the 2014 elections

“We Should Be In A Rage”

I’m sharing this Op-Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times by Charles M. Blow. It’s important. Americans should read it. And share it. Then ask yourself: do you know people who don’t vote? – and what will you do to make sure they do vote in this year’s elections? So here it is, followed by the link. Bold emphasis is mine. (If I’m breaking any rules, NYT, please let me know.)

We Should Be In A Rage

Voter apathy is a civic abdication. There is no other way to describe it.

If more Americans — particularly young people and less-wealthy people — went to the polls, we would have a better functioning government that actually reflected the will of the citizenry.

But, that’s not the way it works. Voting in general skews older and wealthier, and in midterm elections that skew is even more severe.

As David Wasserman wrote on the Cook Report last year:

“Voters under the age of 30 were 19 percent of all voters in 2012, but just 12 percent of all voters in 2010. Likewise, voters 65 and up were 17 percent of all voters in 2012, but 21 percent of all voters in 2010. Herein lies the biggest danger for Democratic candidates in 2014.”

Now we hear murmuring that Republicans hold a slight advantage going into 2014, not strictly because that’s the will of the American people, but because that may well be the will of the people willing to show up at the polls.

There is an astounding paradox in it: too many of those with the least economic and cultural power don’t fully avail themselves of their political power. A vote is the great equalizer, but only when it is cast.

The strategy here is simple: Break the spirit. Muddy the waters. Make voting feel onerous and outcomes ambiguous. And make it feel like a natural outgrowth of tedium and bickering, and not a well-funded, well-designed effort. Make us subsist on personality politics rather than principled ones.

The greatest trick up the sleeves of the moneyed and powerful is their diabolical ability to render themselves invisible and undetectable, to recede and operate behind a front, one relatable and common. Our politics are overrun with characters acting at the behest of shadows.

These are the politicians to whom we have become accustomed — too much polish, and too much beam — which is precisely the reason they should warrant our suspicion and not our trust, the way one cannot trust a cook with pots too pretty and not burned black on the bottoms.

And yet too many people shrug or sleep when they should seethe.

We should be in a rage over the Roberts court’s seemingly implacable drive to vest corporations with the rights of people and unleash the full fury of billionaires to bend our politics to their will.

We should be in a rage over the widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters, from the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to the rise of the Voter ID movement — a near-naked attempt by conservatives to diminish the number of Democratic voters.

We should be in a rage over Republican efforts, particularly on the state level, to drag the range of women’s reproductive options back to the 1960s.

We should be in a rage over the extraordinary pressures facing ordinary families. According to The New York Times’ Economix blog, college costs have risen over 500 percent since 1985, medical and gas costs more than 300 percent. And, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday that “in inflation-adjusted dollars, average weekly child care expenses for families with working mothers who paid for child care” rose 70 percent from 1985 to 2011.

And yet, a report last week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “some 69 percent of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget would come from programs that serve people of limited means.”

We should be in a rage over the fact that people in this country can work a full-time job and not earn a living wage.

We should be in a rage that this country’s infrastructure is literally crumbling beneath us. The “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave our infrastructure an overall grade of D+ and estimated that $3.6 trillion would be needed by 2020 to fix it.

We should be in a rage that we are spiraling toward cataclysmic, irreversible climate change with little interest or effort in averting it, with little coverage and less than accurate coverage.

But where rage should be, there is too often a whimper.

When will we demand the country we deserve: reflective of its people, protective of its people, simply of its people? When will the young and the poor and the aggrieved and the forsaken walk abreast to the polls and then to the public squares?

If we don’t like the government we have, we can change it. If we don’t like the path we’re on, we can alter it.

Democracy is durable, but not incorruptible. The very purity of the concept invites those determined to alter it, to tilt it toward oligarchy, to slowly, imperceptibly if possible, bring it to a calamitous end.

The drift of the boat seems inconsequential until it encounters the falls.

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Link to NYT Op-Ed 9 Apr 2014:  http://nyti.ms/1kMtoTc

Link to featured image:

 

The End (so far)

 

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Tweet of the Day 04.06.14

 

Meanwhile, back in the ‘World’s Greatest Democracy’…

American women risk their lives – by not voting.

(Men, too. But c’mon: men can’t even put the toilet seat down.)

Ladies, your country needs you.

The inmates are running the asylum (Congress).

They are all up for re-election this November.

Make sure you are registered to vote.

Talk to your friends, and make sure they are registered to vote.

It is not difficult. CLICK HERE

If getting to your polling place on Election Day might be difficult (because you work, or have kids, or have a hard time getting around, or it might snow, etc) – just request an absentee or mail-in ballot. There is no charge for this. You’ll receive the ballot in the mail weeks before Election Day. You can take your time with it. Research candidates and issues online. Discuss it with anyone you like, or not at all. Drop it in a mailbox, and you’ve voted. Done.

votetwice

 

[077] HB2U! Obamacare

Obamacare, aka ACA – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama four years ago. It was an historic political and moral victory in this country, a goal that had eluded presidents of both parties for the entire 20th century.

HB2U.Obamacare

It has also been the single most misunderstood thing in American history. Opponents like to call it “government-run health care” – a claim which only underscores their ignorance, or reveals them to be liars. Obamacare can accurately be described as government-mandated health care insurance reform.

poorpeopleBasically, the federal government told the private health care insurance companies that they wouldn’t be allowed to continue with their most shockingly immoral practices, such as dropping customers when they get sick, annual and lifetime caps, non-coverage of ‘pre-existing conditions’ – including the condition of being female. It also limits these insurers to profit margins of no more than 20%, requiring refunds of premiums paid by customers if payouts for medical care fall below 80% of premium revenues. To compensate the insurers for cutting into their margins, the government promised millions of new customers to any insurers who wanted to participate in the state-based exchanges (or the federal exchange for people in states which don’t set up their own exchanges). The government set these private companies loose to play by the rules within the framework of the exchanges and compete for new customers. The insurers set their own premiums for policies offering various levels of coverage. The consumer is able to compare ‘apples to apples’ when shopping for the coverage they need at a monthly premium they can afford. There are no government hospitals, no government doctors, no government ‘death panels’.

Beyond this, the ACA also provides funding for preventive care, and market incentives for much greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care, with a major emphasis on digitizing medical records. And it vastly increased the funding available for states to expand their existing Medicaid programs to enable access to health care for millions of Americans who still cannot afford to buy private medical insurance.

put the white backThe Republican Party has taken a very principled stance against Obamacare and its author. They cannot abide any success for the nation’s first black president. And yes, it really is that horrifyingly simple. They really haven’t even tried to hide it, except for the fact that they wear their white sheets under their business suits.

The Republican-led House of Representatives has taken fifty votes to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. They know the Senate will ignore them. And even if a bill were to somehow reach the president’s desk, he would veto it. The most telling aspect of this flailing around by Boehner & Co. is this: the GOP never gets around to the “replace” part of the deal. They don’t want to replace Obamacare with anything. They just want it to go away… along with every other progressive accomplishment of the past century, including voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, unions, etc.

confed.gopAfter the ACA was passed in 2010, the extreme right wing in this country went insane. Lunatics in tricorn hats flooded the primaries to challenge GOP incumbents who had failed to derail Obamacare. Many of them won, and went on to win in the general election that November, displacing more moderate Republicans and a fair share of Democrats. And so the ‘Tea Party’ gained a chunk of seats in the House, which switched over to GOP control. Nowhere near a majority… but overnight they became the tail that wags the Republican dog. So, for more than three years, the neutered Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has scheduled vote after vote to “repeal” Obamacare. And nothing else. He has presided over the least effective Congress in American history. And that is a crime, especially when you realize that President Obama inherited an economy that had almost completely collapsed under the Bush administration. Every other word out of Boehner’s mouth is “jobs”. How many jobs bills has the House GOP championed in the past five years? Zero.

Now here we are, 5 years after Obama was first inaugurated… 4 years after Obamacare was signed into law… 2 years after the national embarrassment of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries… and a year after Obama’s second inauguration. The upcoming 2014 midterm elections will determine whether Obama has a hostile or a cooperative Congress for the last two years of his presidency. Democrats should be BRAGGING about their accomplishments: saving the country and the world from economic catastrophe, saving the auto industry and what’s left of American manufacturing, rescuing all Americans from unscrupulous and immoral health insurance practices and widening the availability and affordability of health insurance for millions, ending two wars that have consumed thousands of lives and trillions of dollars… But instead, we are treated to a defeatist attitude predicting losses in the House and the possible loss of the slim majority in the Senate. Losing seats in the House would guarantee more-of-same, and that would be bad enough for the country. But a GOP majority in the Senate would embolden the right wing crazies and I cannot imagine the damage this nation would suffer.

DEMS LOSENote to state and national leaders of the Democratic Party:

Do you know why Barack Obama won two consecutive presidential elections? Because love is stronger than hate. People were drawn to his candidacy. So please stop talking about how bad and evil and terrible and horrible the GOP is. It’s all true! But that truth (sadly) is not going to motivate Democrats to go to the polls in November. You’ve got to give people something positive, something to fight for, something to defend. Give them something to be proud of. Run on your record, trumpet your accomplishments. Show people that Democrats work for them and their families. It’s all true!

Note to Democratic voters:

Get off your asses and vote in November! In the recent special election to fill the vacant House seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the Republican won by 3,500 votes… in a district where 140,000 registered Democrats did not vote. That kind of apathy in November will do incalculable harm to this nation. All you have to do is cast your vote for the party that represents your best interests. Something the Republicans would stop you from doing, if they could.

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Obamacare – brought to you by the Democratic Party – makes me happy.

Day 077 #100happydays

 

Tweet of the Day 03.19.14

The truth doesn’t get much simpler than this:

If Women Are So Smart…

… then why do almost half of them still refuse to vote?

It’s 2014. This nation has elected a black president. Twice. Marriage equality is the norm in half the country, recognized by the federal government, and coming soon to a red state near you. But 40+ years after the Supreme Court decided that women have a Constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy, the mostly old, mostly white, mostly straight, mostly men of the Republican Party do everything they can to control you, your body, your life.  Women are no better than farm animals and men know what’s best for you. And when your neighborhood gets shot up and your children get hunted down and murdered in their schools, don’t you worry your pretty little heads! The old, white menfolk have the solution: more guns.

Women, you have a president in the White House who respects you, fights for you, and would sign into law any piece of legislation that empowers you and protects you and your family.

But you have a slim majority of Republicans in Congress which despises you, fights to keep you down, and would pass any law to maintain your second-class citizenship, and keep you at risk of rape and gun homicide, underpaid and subservient.

It’s 2014. It’s an election year. Every member of that House of Representatives is running for re-election in November. And YOU get to choose who stays and who goes. You. Little old you. Election Day is the only day on the calendar when women are the perfect equals of men. But you stay home on Election Day, year after year. Why?

Are you registered to vote? No? Don’t know? Doesn’t matter. Click here, on any word in this sentence, and you’ll be registered to vote in a couple of minutes.

voteAre you worried that you won’t be able to get to the polls on Election Day? It’s a Tuesday. You work? You’ve got kids? You’ve never voted before, you don’t know how? It’s a hassle? Then choose the vote-by-mail option and request an absentee ballot. One will be mailed to you. It’s free. You fill it out. If you need help understanding the ballot or who to vote for, ask someone you trust. Ask another woman. If the man in the dress at church tells you how to vote, then vote the other way. If all else fails, just vote for all the people who have a (D) next to their names! Mail it in before Election Day, and there – you’ve voted. You didn’t even have to leave your house. And if enough women do that, then you’ll have changed the world in a powerful way. Do you have a mother? sister? friend? neighbor? who don’t usually vote? Ask! Talk it up! Empower each other. Vote.

There are more women than men in this country. More women vote, too. But in any given election, 40% or 50% or 60% of women don’t vote. The same percentages apply to men, but here’s the thing: men don’t have nearly as much at stake as women do. Not even close. No one’s telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body! So yeah, it pisses me off that women don’t vote – because I’ve got to live in this world, too. And the same folks who think of you as so much cattle are bringing this country and this world to the brink of disaster.

Wake up, ladies. Vote!

votetwice

CPAC, Run!

CPAC, Run! Run, America, Run!

CPAC = Conservative Political Action Committee
Today is the opening of their 2014 clusterfuck…
Calling all teabaggers, gun-huggers, nutters, foxholes and assorted loons.

Are you ready? Let’s play CPAC bingo!!

CPAC.Bingo

These nattering nincompoops of nuttery are all on the official speakers schedule at CPAC this year. How many feces – er, that is, faces… can you match to their names?

Sarah Palin – the former half-governor of Alaska… Bobby Jindal – Governor of Louisiana whose GOP rebuttal to the 2009 State of the Union was a smiley-faced disaster; also the guy who wants “creationism” taught in science classes while urging Republicans to fiorina“stop saying stupid things” (good luck with that, guv)… Carly Fiorina – failed CEO of HP, failed Senate candidate, failed face lift… Reince Preibus – Chairman of the Republican National Committee, born without a chin, or any discernible charm… Jim DeMint – ex-Senator from South Carolina who quit to become president of the Heritage Foundation, which he converted from conservative think tank to Tea Party rubber stamp… Sen. Tim Scott – plucked from the House of Representatives by SC Governor Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s abandoned seat in the Senate – begging the question: Will he realize that he is black before the Tea Party does?… John Bolton – the circa Reagan/Bush neocon liar with the moustache that looks like he sniffs Clorox… Ann Coulter – a waste of human skin… Sen. Rand Paul Santorum– son of perennial presidential candidate Ron Paul and serial plagiarist… Grover Norquist – the “no taxes” pledge guy whose Tea Party pals are confused by his marriage to a Muslim woman… Newt Gingrich – disgraced ex-Speaker of the House whose outsized ego is unsupported by any evidence of actual greatness, offers his expert opinion on the sanctity of marriage having divorced two ex-wives and currently married to… Callista Gingrich – whose glassy-eyed stare and helmet hair would cause a stampede of frightened Stepford wives… Chris Christie – the morbidly obese, current (?) Governor of New Jersey, studier of traffic, and ex-front runner for the 2016 GOP nomination… Donald Trump – waste of human (?) hair… Mike Huckabee – ex-governor of Arkansas, serial candidate and/or “pastor”, told by Jesus to gain back all the weight (and gave Chris Christie the liquified doughnut recipe)… Phyllis Schlafly – is she still alive?! or is that a shrunken marcorubioapple head?… Rick Santorum – Google “santorum”, go ahead; failed ex-Senator from Pennsylvania, recurring presidential candidate with prehistoric social ideas and, truly, the scariest looking family in politics… Rick Perry – the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Texas who showed himself to be all hat and no horse in the 2012 primaries; he is back now, equipped with eyeglass frames that someone thinks will make him appear more intelligent than a bag of hairSen. Rafael Eduardo “Ted” Cruz – a Cuban-Canadian anchor baby whose only apparent goal is his own self-aggrandizement; a source of constant agita to the Republican establishment, and constant amusement to Democrats who enjoy watching Cruz attack the GOP like a walking, talking flesh-eating virus… Sen. Marco Rubio – who Time magazine once heralded as “The Republican Savior” (– and no, Time, you cannot have that cover back), that was before the 2013 State of the Union rebuttal disaster that made everyone forget about Bobby Jindal’s earlier SOTU rebuttal disaster. Well, actually, it made everyone remember Jindal, but then immediately forget about Jindal and agree that Rubio’s calistagingrichparched performance was worse… Rep. Paul Ryan – failed Romney running mate in 2012 and former GOP budget golden boy; he works out a lot, and does this thing with his mouth that makes it look like he forgot his dentures… Christine O’Donnell – failed ex-witch and Senate candidate from Delaware… Oliver North – (Because derp?)… and Wayne LaPierre – mouthpiece for the National Rifle Association, main sponsor of CPAC, and the man whom history will record as the worst mass murderer in American history for his sabotage of gun control legislation.

There’s the passenger list for the 2014 GOP clown car. There are some notable names missing here, but I’ll check back and update as more of the GOP/Tea Party faithful step into this unkind spotlight.

Extra Credit Bonus Question

Use the word “Benghazi” as a noun, a verb and an adjective. In the same sentence.
No, it doesn’t have to make sense. They never do.

Act Up! Fight Back!

It would be difficult impossible to overstate the peril faced by gay folks as the 80s dawned in America. Harvey Milk had been assassinated just two years earlier. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. Gay men in New York and California were suddenly getting rare cancers and dying, no one knew why. And it is fair to say that no one much cared. Jerry Falwell and his Christianist hatemongers called the epidemic “God’s wrath”. Reagan would not even say the word “AIDS” until seven years into his presidency – while tens of thousands of Americans died. There was talk of quarantining – or even tattooing – people with AIDS.

Sorry for the gloom, but it’s important to set the context for what happened next. (After all, this is ancient history for some who will read this.)

I referenced “gay folks” above; not the “gay community” or the now-ubiquitous (necessary and dreadful) “LGBT”. That’s because we hadn’t yet coalesced into a single community; and the all-purpose acronym was still years away. The Ls and the Gs were off doing their own things in their own zip codes. The Bs were busy doing, well, everyone. The Ts had Renée Richards going for them, but not much else. Though much had changed in the decade since Stonewall, queer life was still Balkanized.

So, when gay men started getting terrible infections, diseases, cancers and dying in rapidly increasing numbers… When governments and gods showed themselves to be untroubled by our immense human suffering and the horrifying death toll… a community was born.

WeWereHere film posterWe Were Here is a powerful, heartbreaking, uplifting testament to the response of the nascent gay community (and its allies) to the public health crisis of AIDS in San Francisco. The history is told through on-camera interviews with five people who recall the love, the loss, the victories – and the irresistible force of a community that is fighting for its life. This film is available via Netflix and Amazon. Click on this image to link to the We Were Here website where you can stream a rental for $3.99.

Who should see this film (which was released in 2011)? Everyone. But especially all the good people who want to stop the gun insanity death toll in this country. All those “Moms” and “Mayors” who give tv interviews… who fill our inboxes with petitions to sign and emails asking for money so they can do… more petitions? There have been 30+ school shootings since Newtown. Another 10,000+ gun homicides. Do you think you’re working hard enough? You haven’t even started.

If that makes you angry, good! You should be angry. You can’t even send your kids off to school in the morning, or to the mall in the afternoon, or to a movie in the evening, without wondering if they’ll be next. So get angry! And channel that anger into real, direct action. You say “there are 80 million Moms in America!” Really? I don’t think I’ve seen 80 women (or men) gathered anywhere, doing anything, since Newtown. Have you?

1.lighting candles

Begin…

As the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre came and went, I heard a tv discussion about our failure to achieve gun control in this country. Someone suggested that if you want gun control, then look at how the gays fought for marriage equality and equal rights. It’s not a bad idea.

Gun control is (still) way more popular than gay rights. But we have marched in the streets, raised money, campaigned for like-minded politicians and relentlessly lobbied lawmakers, filed lawsuits, rallied voters, discussed it in polite (and not so polite) company.  We have done this for years, without losing our nerve or our hope. We have kept up the pressure, we have fought ignorance with intellect, cowardice with courage. And we are finally turning the tide. It’s been some time since we lost a battle, and we’re well on our way to winning the war.

2.candlelight march

Fan the flame…

I don’t mean to single out the Moms Against Guns. Every liberal/ progressive political goal would be more quickly achieved if leaders stopped the absurd flood of online petitions and solicitations… and challenged their millions of supporters to take direct action. Sometimes, I wonder if the Koch brothers aren’t secretly funding Credo and Move On – to sap any real initiative by giving people a false sense of having done something every time they click the “Sign the Petition” button. That is not participatory democracy. Make some noise! Hit the streets! Act up! Fight back! Not in dribs and drabs, but by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions.

If I received an email from the “Moms” asking me to join a gun control march in my city next weekend, I’d drop everything to be there.  But more than a year after Newtown, I still haven’t got that email. And that’s my point.

3.candlelight march

Ignite a movement…

Whether you want to raise the minimum wage, or guarantee voting rights, or protect a woman’s right to control her own body, or reform immigration, or tax the rich and the corporations, etc… Nothing succeeds like excess. Remember ACT-UP? When FDA was taking forever to approve new AIDS drugs, these creative and in-your-face protests drew lavish media attention and focused political pressure like a laser beam. They weren’t afraid to be angry. People were dying. The “die-ins” stopped traffic. The barricade crashing made people uncomfortable. But new drugs and treatments went from a trickle to a fire silencedeathbuttonhose, and many lives were saved.

We gays had to fight for our lives in this country. And as a community of activists, we won. But 650,000 people have lost their lives to AIDS in America since 1980. That is eerily similar to the number of gun deaths during that time. And always, always:  silence = death.

After you’ve had to fight for survival, it’s relatively easy to move on to battle bigotry and ignorance (DADT, DOMA, ENDA, the GOP, the teabaggers and the faith-hurling wackos)… You just have to be alive to do it.

Here we are in 2014, an election year. The entire House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for grabs. Plus many governorships and legislatures and ballot measures. The media will declare the elections ‘over’ before they even begin. Gerrymandering! Voter apathy! The parties are all the same! Voter suppression! Oh look – it’s Justin Bieber!

4.candlelight march sf

Set the world on fire!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Get yourself registered and then help someone else register. (Click on Blog the Vote below.) Think of it as multiplying your vote. Volunteer to GOTV (Get Out The Vote) during early voting and on Election Day in November. Drive someone to the polls. Or offer to babysit. Have a mail-in ballot party. Because the fact is, without an enormous and sustained effort, less than half of the eligible voters in this “great democracy” will bother to cast a vote in November. But that sad fact presents an opportunity. We flip 20 House seats, we take back control of Congress and… a lot of life-saving laws and policies get done in Obama’s last two years in office. If not, we keep fighting like hell. Until we win.

Unless there is something more important you have to do?

BLOG THE VOTE 2

A Cosmo Kind of Guy

How many times have you come face to face with it? Must be thousands. Standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, you look up and there it is telling you How to Lose 5 Lbs in 5 Mins! or What He Wants That He Won’t Tell You or Lipo: Is it for You? Cosmopolitan magazine. But I guess I’ve always been more of a People guy. “Cosmo” (in the vernacular) aims at a demographic target that is, as far as I can tell, the opposite of me. So, imagine my surprise when I clicked on the link in a tweet and landed on this. Of course, it’s not what you think. I have a newfound respect for Cosmo. And for Cosmo girls, if this is the sort of guy they shed lbs for.

The article highlights just one of the insanities in America caused by “mostly older white men… bullying women”. Look folks, there are two ways to get rid of these bullying “older white men”, and only one of them is legal. VOTE! (Click on the hot pink Cosmopolitan logo to get registered to vote in 30 seconds.) Then be sure to click on the link to the full article. And guys, if you live in a place where this shit happens, perhaps it’s time to consider becoming a male escort.

cosmo

I joined the army at 17 because I believe in protecting people’s rights. I believe in reproductive rights, but the reason I do this work is to stop these mostly older white men from bullying women who are choosing what is best for them.

Be sure to read this >>> A Male Escort’s Perspective: What It’s Really Like Outside an Abortion Clinic – Cosmopolitan.

 

UPDATE: Supreme Court (from behind the safety of its own 100+ foot buffer zone) has struck down laws allowing buffer zones for abortion clinics. (see HuffPost article here)

The Fetal Position

In the wake of its self-autopsy following the 2012 elections, the GOP has acknowledged that it must do a better job “communicating” with women. Along with virtually every other demographic slice of the American pie. But, one slice at a time.

In 2012, the Republicans in office and running for office had a particular problem with the concept of rape. What it is, what it isn’t, whether god wills it, when it is legitimate. You know, the eternal questions. Nevermind that the correct answer is No. As in “No means no. Period.”

2013 became the year that the American news media went transvaginal – as it probed the GOP’s idea of ‘small government’. Small enough, apparently, to fit uncomfortably (and medically unnecessarily) inside your vagina. And let’s not forget the various “personhood” ballot questions and amendments in more than a dozen states. These sought to confer full legal status and rights to the fertilized ovum; in fact, rights that actually supercede those of the woman inside whose body said zygote resides. [Cue the creepy music from Rosemary’s Baby.]

Yes, Republicans have been obsessed about abortion since Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973. Not about their own abortions. No, every woman’s Constitutionally protected right to decide whether she will carry a pregnancy to term, or terminate it. Republicans are, of course, on a mission from their god(s; they don’t agree on each other’s deities) so don’t confuse them with factual, ethical or moral realities.

Not sure what happened to that memo from the party elders, because 2013 saw Republicans in Congress and in the red states continue their undisguised assaults on the rights of women to be self-aware, self-governing human beings.

last time gop cared about you.fetus 720x348

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TO VOTE!

The most galling hypocrisy in the GOP’s passionate commitment its so-called “pro-life” agenda is that its screaming interest in the welfare of the unborn child seems to evaporate once the child is born. So, their position is more accurately termed pro-birth. Once that child is born, it’s on its own. Scram. Hit the road, kid. Get a job. We’re cutting your Head Start, your WIC and your SNAP. If you were just born in West Virginia, don’t drink the water. If you have two moms, you’re a bastard. And if your parents make minimum wage or are looking for work, too bad. When you’re 18, we’ll do our best to have one or more wars ongoing so you can sign up. If you get killed in battle, we’ll give your opposite-sex spouse $100G and a folded flag. If you come back wounded, go to the back of the line at the VA. It’s a long wait, but you’re a patriot. Suck it up. Don’t end up homeless or commit suicide. That just makes us look bad. Et cetera.

Maybe this is why babies cry upon eviction from the womb. Do they know that they’ve just been abandoned by the United States House of Representatives and more than half the state legislatures? Can they hear Fox News in utero? Do they know that Ted Cruz lives under their beds?

Wisconsin is one of the states that has really been leading the way for the GOP’s new pro-woman rebranding efforts. Governor Walker gives women, the middle class, teachers and other people a warm, fuzzy bear hug every time he turns around. And now, they’ve gone to bat for fetal Wisconsinites in a big way. There’s a bill in the Wisconsin Senate that will protect a fetus from being aborted because its incubator, er, mother doesn’t like its gender. Yes, it’s obviously a huge problem in America, and Wisconsin Republicans are running into burning uteruses and saving fetuses from their own evil mothers. Oh, it also gives the fetal grandparents rights to a veto over your host’s self-determination. So be nice to your Gramps and Nanas. They might have saved your fetal ass from your murderous mama!

Here’s a screenshot of the actual text of the bill, SB201. Pay attention to the line highlighted in (baby) blue:

Wisc SB201

That reads: “(b) ‘Child’ means a human being from the time of fertilization until it is completely delivered from a pregnant woman.”

Thanks for clearing that up, Wisconsin Republicans. Now you’ve put your pro-birth agenda into the actual text of a proposed law, by re-defining the word “CHILD” for us. Big news, really. Just one question: If we are a “child” from the moment of fertilized zygote “until it is completely delivered from a pregnant woman”… then what is our legal status once we’ve left the protective cocoon of the womb? Because you treat us like so much medical trash.

Click on the image of the SB201 screenshot if you want to read the official text on the State of Wisconsin website.

Click HERE to get yourself REGISTERED and able to VOTE in the upcoming primaries and general election in November. Whatever state you live in, blue, purple or deepest red. If every woman voted, the GOP would cease to exist. That’s right. You have the right to abort them from our government. And you should.

Mind The Gap

Later this month, a new documentary gives us the insider view of the 2012 Romney campaign. Netflix has been promoting “Mitt” with a clip from Election Night. It shows the Romney family in their Boston hotel suite, slack-jawed in stunned disbelief as they watch President Obama cruise to re-election. Mitt & Co. were (somehow) blindsided by the loss. For those of us who know we dodged a bullet missile asteroid that day, this flick promises to dish up heaping servings of delicious schadenfreude. Butter on your popcorn?

It is generally accepted that Romney ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in memory. His clumsy mimicry of human behavior and idiom was simply unconvincing. But he had a lot of help from his lunatic primary opponents – better known as ‘the clown car’ – and, of course, there’s the Republican Party’s acidic base.

The GOP wasted no time in getting down to some very public soul searching following their election disaster. (Which does beg the question: Where do people without souls go to do soul searching?) Democrats, after all, kept the White House and the Senate – and gained seats in both houses. What went wrong? They commissioned “an autopsy” (their own words) to discover the cause of death.

Last March, the autopsy findings were released. The RNC gave the postmortem a rather upbeat title. “The Growth and Opportunity Project” (get it? G.O.P.) ran to 100 pages, and identified the constituencies they would have to attract if they wanted to win elections going forward.

Republicans found they were in good shape with older, white, heterosexual, Christian men. Everyone else… not so much. The autopsy revealed “opportunities” for the GOP to work harder for the votes of women, Latinos, African-Americans, the LGBT community and the “under 30” crowd.

OK, good plan, off you go… but then, a funny thing happened on the way to the next election. The Republican Party seems to have declared 2013 to be opposite year. At the federal and (red) state levels, Republican politicians pursued policies and enacted laws that can only be described as hostile to the very groups they were supposed to be wooing. Huh?

from The New Yorker

from The New Yorker

Women were given the gift of mandatory transvaginal probes (which meet the definition of forcible rape in many states) and draconian restrictions on abortion providers. Women have also seen cuts to the WIC, SNAP and Head Start programs that their families depend on for luxuries like food and child care.

Latinos were promised comprehensive immigration reform. Instead, they got an about-face from Marco Rubio on his own immigration reform bill, and a lot of nasty talk about “amnesty” and “fences”. Latinos and African-Americans were targeted by laws to prevent (statistically non-existent) “voter fraud” in red states from Texas to Ohio, North Carolina to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania to Florida. Early voting days and hours have been reduced, new voter identification requirements put in place. The Justice Dept is investigating these voter suppression attempts, some of which have already been stopped in the courts.

We gays have never been promised anything by the GOP, except unrelenting hostility to the notion of equal rights. And they send lousy wedding gifts. Witness last week’s freakout in Utah. As far as younger voters are concerned, GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage, balking at fixing the student loan crisis, blocking every job-creation bill, and its curmudgeonly attitudes tell that story. Most people born during or after the Reagan administration have vastly relaxed attitudes about race, gender and sexual orientation. Ruh-roh. Oh, and get this: they’ve even managed to pick a fight with – wait for it – His Holiness The Pope. Wow. I mean, the guy is freakin’ infallible. Do you think he cares what Rush and The Donald and Paul Ryan think about him?

Finally, the unrelenting obsession of the House of Boehner to “repeal Obamacare!” is inexplicable – given that their fifty attempts were dead-on-arrival in the Senate, nevermind Obama’s veto pen. And now that the Obamacare “DISASTER!!” has given way to some really stunning success – with six million people enrolled in new health care plans, and more each month – GOP has positioned itself as the sworn enemy of an increasingly popular and extraordinarily beneficial program. It is the cliché definition of insanity: Do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

So, are Republicans insane? The more likely diagnosis is political schizophrenia. The Grand Old Party is split like an old pair of grandpa’s trousers. “Traditional” or “mainstream” Republicans are in the party’s minority – and seem to have lost ground since 2012. The Tea Party / Teabagger / Teavangelical / RWNJ (right-wing nut job) half (3/4) of the party has been in the ascendancy since the 2010 midterm elections gave them a stranglehold on Congress. They don’t have enough votes to pass anything, but they can obstruct almost everything. And they have. You may have heard…

You may also have heard that 2014 is an important election year. The next six months are going to be fraught with what some are calling a Republican “civil war”. Establishment Republicans are being “primaried” by the ultra-right-wingnuts. Remember Senator “I am not a witch” O’Donnell of Delaware? Or Senator “rape is something god intended” Mourdock of Indiana? How about Senator “legitimate rape” Akin of Missouri? Well, the GOP’s Class of 2014 is shaping up to be another bottomless pit of moronic bigotry and ignorance. Stay tuned. And pass the popcorn.

NBCNews

NBCNews

NBC News recently released the above tidbit of exit polling from the 2012 national election. It shows the harsh electoral reality the GOP has been up against and continues to face: the “empathy gap”. Romney had healthy margins of voters who preferred his vision, values and leadership. (C’mon! Seriously?) But Obama was re-elected because he won the overwhelming majority of people who want their president to care about them. That’s empathy. Barack “Trayvon could have been my son. He could have been me” Obama (like Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton) is swaddled in it. But it is a quality that seems to elude the GOP as a whole. (Or a-hole, to be more accurate.)

empathy.typesetYou’ll hear talk about the Republican effort to “rebrand the party” as a kinder, gentler place for women, blacks, gays, Latinos, 20-somethings, the poor, etc. And then you’ll likely hear laughter – because these old, white men really don’t have the slightest idea how to be relevant to the human condition in the 21st century.

Which is why the elders of the Republican Party have hired consultants to teach their 2014 candidates how to talk to women. No, I’m not making this up. Just Google “how to talk to women”. Go ahead, I’ll wait. OK, did you see the part about “connecting with women on an emotional level”? Uh-huh.

Honey, while you’re making more popcorn, how about bringing us a few beers? 

Get The Red Out: #2014

Here we are. 2014. An election year. What’s up for grabs? All of the House. One-third of the Senate. Governorships. State legislatures. Local ballot measures. The primaries begin this spring. The general election – Election Day – is 11/4/14. Just ten months away. Debates, advertising, social media chatter – the works. If you like politics, it’s a banquet. If you hate politics, you’re in hell.

Whatever your feelings about how this country does its politics, do not let that distract or dissuade you from participating in this democracy. Whether you color yourself blue, red, purple or tie-dyed, you must vote. Why? Because in this nation of 320 million, there are 537 people in Washington who make decisions that affect every aspect of our lives. That’s 435 Representatives in the House + 100 Senators + the President and the Vice President. There are others who wield great power (the Supreme Court justices, the Cabinet, etc) – but we only elect 537 people to run the federal government. A few thousand folks if you count all the governors and state legislators.

We have the opportunity – still rather rare in this world – to choose people who will represent us and our best interests. We open every sports event and every civic gathering with a solemn vow, hands over hearts, remembering those who have fought and died to secure our freedoms.

But every two years, we spit on their graves. Roughly HALF of Americans do not bother to vote. In presidential elections, that may edge toward 60%. In the “mid-term” (non-presidential) elections, it drops to 40%. And in some places less.

With voter participation that low, a close election can mean that only 20% of us choose the winner. 20% is a majority? When did we get so bad at math?!

Here’s a graphic that shows the reality behind two recent elections in Texas. A deep RED state, right? Maybe. Maybe not. But what we do know is that Texas is a deeply LAZY state when it comes to voting. The large gray squares = eligible voters in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The little red squares = the margin of victory for the candidates who won those elections. In 2010, Perry won by less than 1 million votes in an election where NINE MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS DID NOT BOTHER TO VOTE! They were already registered to vote. In 2012, Romney won Texas by 1.2 million votes. That year, SIX MILLION registered voters didn’t vote. You hate voting so much? Fine. But why would anyone bother to be registered if they won’t vote?

TX.2010.2012.2016

I don’t mean to only mess with Texas. (Or the mess that is Texas.) No state has bragging rights over voter participation. But in 2014, we have to save our governments from being run by people who do not believe in government! Texas will be one of the more interesting states to watch, with Wendy Davis running for governor and John Cornyn getting primaried by a certifiably insane RWNJ teabagger for his Senate seat. Georgia is going to be a wild ride too, with brawls for governor and an open Senate seat.

But it goes so far beyond the ‘sport’ of politics. Because Perry was re-elected in 2010, Texas has refused the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, cutting off millions of the working poor from critical access to health care. It would not have cost the state of Texas a dime to implement this. Perry threw his own citizens under the bus out of pure political spite. And had Romney won the election, who doubts that we would now be at war in Syria and Iran?

Elections have consequences. Not voting does not exempt you from the consequences. It merely makes you a cog on someone else’s wheel. Get yourself registered. And when the time comes, vote.

You can start by registering here at Rock The Vote:

https://register2.rockthevote.com/?partner=25659

This Just In… Part Deux

Canadian-born U.S. Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX) has confirmed that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship. Canada’s reaction to this news was typically understated:

happy maple leaf

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is exploring the possibility of renouncing the citizenship of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Since it seems that Canada is pursuing a dastardly scheme to export its craziest political operatives to the United States, you can do your part to repel this invasion. Click on the Happy Maple Leaf to go to Rock The Vote and get yourself registered to vote! It only takes a few minutes. #2014 primaries are just months away… 306 days till Election Day in November. Let’s get moving, eh?