Tag Archives: politics

The Most Troubling Aspects of the 2012 Election

2012 election graphic8:15a.m., Pacific Standard Time on November 6, and it feels like this election started two decades ago. Finally we’re arrived at Election Day. Tomorrow we won’t have to sit through more attack ads blowing up our enjoyment of The Walking Dead or Leverage. I will deeply appreciate Wednesday for that, even if the country isn’t in agreement on who won or if the news cycle leads with which candidates are suing which other candidates for a recount. The dust won’t have settled on much of what Americans will vote for today, but even now, with the polls open and people queuing up for their moment with a ballot, there are a few issues brought up by the 2012 election. And some of them are disturbing. In no particular order:

The absence of medical expertise to inform laws that affect reproductive health, women’s health, and abortion—From Representative Steve King, candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and carved into the Republican Party Platform came many moments of presumption and imagination about how human bodies function and what role God plays in conception or the biological prevention of conception. Sure, pro-choice advocates have fumed at disingenuous statements around medical care before and it’s not new that anyone would worry that conservative, ill-informed men feel free to write laws with no or misleading medical evidence taken into account. But this election cycle from the primary through the general election, and woven through many of the state races for Congress we saw wave after wave of misogyny and hate, directed at anyone with a uterus. The fight against women was multi-faceted, repeatedly hitting on access to contraception, defunding the “antiChrist” that is Planned Parenthood, attempts to install “personhood” legislation, demonizing rape survivors who chose to terminate a resulting pregnancy, inventing new restrictions on abortioneven to save the life of the mother—and on and on. That the rhetoric around these issues was so extreme and so consistently present throughout the range of races across the country speaks to a concerted effort to find new ways to control the domain of debate and the outcome. Read More…

A Modest Proposal for Politicians

science education test coverNOTE: This post is about sexual assault and pregnancy and stupid, stupid remarks from men.

Last summer, the otherwise unknown Todd Akin, running for the Senate in Misouri, said the following in an interview when asked why he doesn’t support abortion in the case of rape or incest:

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

There was much snickering and frustration in the land after this sound bite, namely from people who find such nonsense revolting. Immediately progressives and pro-choice advocates slammed Akin, asking if that was how he felt in the cases of 9-year-old girls who get pregnant after sexual assault, and so on. Popular culture and news media aren’t exactly adept at communicating about horrific events like pregnant children, and so it was that for a time, worst case scenarios floated about social networking sites and cable television like confetti after a They Might Be Giants concert (or a political convention).

But looking at Mr. Akin’s statement, we see that he is not alone in holding such an extreme position, nor with this significant amount of conviction. Here are other statements about rape and pregnancy: Read More…

Recapping Last Night’s Debate

Town Hall Debate 2012While we’re all chuckling at the “binder full of women” jokes, I’d like to look at a few other moments from last night, some of which I thought were powerful and some which troubled me. After a night of slumber, my brain has drawn these conclusions, presented in no particular order:

The town hall format is not good for showing the candidates’s aggression, but it makes for exciting TV—Was Mitt about to grapple with the President? It looked like that from the vantage point of my sofa, on at least two occasions. The film stills make it look like they’re blessing each other or practicing their “sit down” drills for their dogs. Turns out, podiums make good fences.

Someone told Barack Obama to keep his back turned on Romney—I lost count of the number of times that the President would respond to his challenger while facing the opposite direction from him. And he kept his eye contact to a minimum. I don’t know if David Axelrod’s new schtick is to act all above the contender, but Obama brought out the cool shoulder last night something fierce. Read More…

Why God Hates Us

rush limbaugh with cigarThis was originally a post on I Fry Mine in Butter from 2010.

In the beginning, there were good preachers and there were scary preachers. The good preachers seemed kindly, they talked about love, they talked about forgiveness, they talked about acting as Jesus did, minus all the getting betrayed and walking up a huge hill with a board, and getting crucified. And that was good. And they have remained basically the same, still talking about love and forgiveness and modeling.

There were also the scary preachers. They ranted about hell fire and damnation, and sin. Lots of sin. Everyone a sinner, with the implication, never acknowledged, that they must be sinners too. And while scary preachers could raise a ruckus, most people preferred the other kind of preacher, especially when the scary preacher got embroiled in personal scandal, showing that despite their invective, they were not better than the rest of us. Read More…

It’s Not the Same Press Anymore

This article originally ran at I Fry Mine in Butter.

Once upon a time, newspapers like the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and so on all had reporters posted in far away places from Moscow to Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro to London. These folks were part of a press corps that wrote daily or near-daily stories and sent them back to their editors in the paper’s home town. Each paper published different articles on similar topics, because the ideas around what was “newsworthy” were generally the same, although it was common for one paper to run a story and another not to, if the first paper had confirmation of all of the details but the second one couldn’t muster them together. This is how we all came to know the concept of “getting the scoop” on the competition. Political reporters tried to form relationships with people in the political arena, so that they could get first dibs on juicy quotes or source material. I presume that a lot of backroom dealmaking popped up in this kind of relationship. Agreeing not to mention President Roosevelt’s wheelchair meant that one got to continue to sit in the White House press corps, for example. Agreeing not to mention JFK’s many affairs got them something I don’t know. But something. Read More…

Support De Spite

democrat and republican fightingI’ve seen it at least half a dozen times on my Facebook wall–people who will write a status asking anyone who has clicked like on things like Romney, Paul Ryan, or the GOP, to just go ahead and defriend them now. Then they’ll list the reasons why a mouse click for the political right is so offensive. I don’t disagree that a vote for Republicans, generally speaking, is a vote against reproductive rights, LGBT civil rights, and the like, because yes, the GOP’s political platform reads that they’re opposed to those rights and communities. And even if Mitt Romney himself is in favor of a “rape exception” for abortion–even if there are no health practitioners in a given area to perform an abortion because overall the climate has dampened training in those procedures–his colleagues have been arguing quite forcefully that they will continue to push legislation that outlaws all abortions no matter the mitigating circumstances. So I understand that the nuances at play in our political parties are not enough reason to absolve members of a given party from the consequences they wreak on our fellow Americans.

But I’m not jumping on the defriend bandwagon. I read the primary narrative of FoxNews as divisive, pitching conservative keyword after keyword to their faithful audience, and attempt after attempt at alienating the rest of us from watching. It’s a process wherein less and less motivation falls on FoxNews to double-check their facts and sources, until disinformation is all they telecast, reality be damned. What does it mean to live in a country where a vocal minority attempts to steep an entire political party in hate and anger, and people at the other end of the spectrum point fingers and laugh derisively or shout back in frustration? When we dismiss each other as lost causes, what are we left with? Read More…

Ebb and Flow

A couple of weeks ago the Boy Scouts caused a stir when they concluded after a two-year assessment, to continue their ban on gay boys and men as scouts and scout leaders. Well, their ban on out gay boys and men, but whatever. On the heels of this the Internet exploded over news-certainly not sudden–that Chick-Fil-A gave substantial money to anti-gay interests, including groups who advocate for killing gay and lesbian people in Uganda, since advocating for that kind of thing on US soil is a big no-no. And while this was going on, NASA was preparing to launch its most ambitious rover mission to Mars. Certainly NASA doesn’t ban people of a queer inclination, but that’s beside the point. My point, since I’ve buried it at the end of this paragraph, is that we humans are capable of astounding progress and horrifying cruelty, and this never fails to fascinate me.

I can’t believe we are still arguing about whether global warming is real or not. Seriously, look at this glacier.

a glacier melts

Read More…

Justice of Opportunity

UPDATE: You can call Michael Freeman at 612-348-5540 and Marlene Senechal at 612-348-5561, the prosecutors in CeCe McDonald’s case. Tell them you are calling as a supporter of Ms. Chrishaun McDonald and are concerned about her case.

CeCe McDonald poster from RacialiciousThe United States tells its citizens and residents that it is a nation governed by the Rule of Law–that everyone is equal under the eyes of these laws, and that our system of jurisprudence and law protects us as individuals and collectively. And yet even laws that look simple on the surface; say–speeding on a roadway–are experienced very differently across intersections of race, class, gender, and gender identity. Does the driver receive a citation? A warning? Is the driver asked to exit the vehicle? Is the vehicle searched? Is the driver asked to prove citizenship or residency status? Does the driver’s ID match their gender presentation? Is the vehicle presumed to be street legal? What level of suspicion does the officer presume about the driver?

Laws, after all, are written by people, and people come to the act of writing laws with their own sets of intent and motivation. People also are fallible. How else to explain the state of Kansas’s overreaching to restrict voting rights based on some observed “need” for security, when there is next to no evidence that individuals cheat the voting system, nationally or in Kansas specifically? Or as Dr. Jen Gunter notes in her pro-choice blog, how do we explain the non-medical, non-scientific, non-rational laws written to restrict reproductive rights for women? Read More…

Obsessed: GOP Men with Women’s Reproduction

Rick Santorum sticks around like a sexually transmitted infection. As the Washington Post put it earlier today, while Mitt Romney has trouble connecting with audiences on the stump, Santorum’s message is frighteningly clear: he wants a United States of Christ. Or at least, his interpretation of what that would look like. I can see the cows coming home, and Santorum still hasn’t mentioned any of the Beatitudes. Apparently he’s given up on inheriting the earth.

pro and against abortion signs

Santorum’s Web site claims that he will “lead us from the front,” but in reality it sounds like he wants to lead from the uterus. Not his uterus, since he doesn’t have one, but any garden variety uterus from a random woman in America.

Once upon a time, the fight for abortion rights and reproductive health was fought over the terms of when, abstractly, a human life begins. That abstraction is now being pushed into legislative agendas and bills, in the form of “Personhood” laws that would make pregnancy termination by any means—even, horrifyingly enough, miscarriage—a crime on par with homicide. Read More…

Send in the Clowns Who Claim to Protect Marriage

UPDATE: The petition drive in question is now for Referendum 74, not 73. Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State sent out a correction this week.

Signed, sealed, and delivered–that is the status of same-sex marriage in Washington State, as of 11:30 this morning. And now that a Republican legislator’s impassioned support of marriage equality has gone viral (from Walla Walla’s district, no less!), it’s time to rest easy, basking in the warm glow of justice…

Oh, wait. There’s no time to relax. A mere three hours after Governor Gregoire signed marriage equality into law, the NOM people were filing Referendum 73 in Olympia to revoke the law with a ballot initiative.

Who and what is NOM, you ask? Welcome to the awful new world in carpetbagging.  Read More…

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