Posts filed under ‘Politics’
I thought it was time to brag on some other writers and visionaries for a change. There are a lot of other great blogs out there that are doing creative things, making progressive statements, advocating for women, and featuring more important stories than Jesse James’ tragic breakup from Kat von D. I really thought that would last forever. I’m just devastated!
First off, there’s a great cartoon site that I found through WordPress, mostly because she was kind enough to click the “Like” button on one of my posts. The Adventures of Gyno-Star: Fighting the Forces of Evil & Male Chauvinism is a cartoon gem that gets updated twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays. The artist is supremely talented. Her superhero has a sidekick named Little Sappho, and together they fight nemeses like Stay at Home Mommy and Vlad Deferens. Clever fun, and the illustrations are fantastic!
At Rebuild the Dream you can sign a contract for a return to the American dream. Van Jones heads this campaign with the support of many other progressive organizations, most notably MoveOn.org. The idea is pretty simple. Start investing in America again. Update our infrastructure and invest in the future, create jobs to do this and hire Americans to fill the jobs.
What does that sound like? Why, if it weren’t for the green energy component, I think it sounds an awful lot like the Works Progress Administration. The WPA? You don’t say. The brainchild of FDR, a plan to bring us out of the Great Depression, improve our great nation, and feed our families, the WPA is still present in concrete and signs in small and large communities throughout the United States. How do we pay for this? By taxing the rich.
This brings me to another great website. Sometimes people, myself included, like to cast the rich in the role of villain in the deterioration of the American dream and the American economy. But that’s not entirely fair. There are some millionaires out there who are lobbying that their taxes need to be raised.
You can find those millionaires and billionaires on a great website called, Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. These people are true patriots, and their message reminds me that with great wealth comes great privilege and with great privilege, great responsibility. These people incredibly, selflessly get that. They make me proud to be an American.
Speaking of being proud to be an American, some people make me proud to be a Christian as well. John Shore, whose blog I’ve championed before, had a great article about a woman named Kathy Baldock and how she came to form a non-profit called Canyonwalker Connections. Kathy had t-shirts made, and she attends gay functions like Pride parades and wears her t-shirt, offering an apology to any LGBT who’s been traumatized by the bigotry of churches who reject homosexuals.
Here’s a great video I found:
The video is a commentary on how household cleaning products are always marketed to women, using women almost exclusively to sell the products to women almost exclusively. The only exceptions I can think of to this are Orange Glo and Oxy Clean. Mr. Clean doesn’t count since he’s a fictional character who never actually cleans anything anyway. The Tidy-Bowl Man is a tugboat operator; he doesn’t clean anything.
What is marketed almost exclusively to men? Beer. How is it marketed to men? Using scantily clad beautiful women to imply that if only you drink enough beer women will want to have sex with you. Maybe if only the women drink enough beer they will forget that they have to do all of the cleaning and will want to have sex with you. Or, and here’s a novel concept: maybe if a man did his share of the chores around the house a woman might be inclined to have sex more often. Beer is optional.
I found this website by happy accident. Hugo Schwyzer is a Christian and a gender studies professor. He’s written many, many enlightening blog posts about issues relating to feminism and Christianity, including weighing in on the recent controversy over actor Doug Hutchison’s marriage to a 16-year-old child and SeekingArrangement.com’s pimping out of college girls. He writes about his views on porn and even cites Andrea Dworkin. He’s sharp, and he’s a pleasure to read.
Hugo Schwyzer also blogs on The Good Men Project. The Good Men Project bills itself as “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. In other words, it’s the anti-Maxim. There are great articles on gender issues and relationship advice, and something for everyone. This website renews my good faith in men.
The Women’s Media Center is a non-profit that seeks to make women more visible and women’s voices more audible in all forms of contemporary media. Their website features a Sexism Watch. They sponsor conventions and leadership panels and encourage women to produce films and documentaries that tell women’s stories. They are fighting to see women represented more in the news and on political commentary shows. Check it out.
Usually whenever some Fox news pundit goes on and on like a broken record about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I have to laugh. However, the conservatives have a point when they bring up the latest Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman. They titled the cover story, “Queen of Rage,” and they have a photo of Bachman looking like a mildly surprised homicidal Stepford Wife.
Tina Brown, the female editor of Newsweek, has worked overtime at implying that Bachman is crazy. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bachman is no friend of mine, and she certainly is no friend of the feminists. However, that doesn’t mean that tactics like Brown’s are acceptable in an attempt to make her unpalatable to Iowa voters.
Here we have a woman who’s running for the office of President of the United States of America. Ask yourself this: would any man who’s running for President be treated with the same indignity? I think the answer is no. So, is the Newsweek cover blatantly sexist? You bet your sweet bippy it is.
You don’t need to go searching through the galleries until you come up with the one photo of Michelle Bachman that’s actually unattractive. I mean, just how long and hard did Tina Brown have to search to come up with a single photo of Bachman that’s not flattering? My guess is: hours. In fact, the woman is so beautiful that I’m going to have to see her and Sarah Palin in a room together before I’m convinced that they aren’t the same person.
Michelle Bachman can be called a lot of things, including, perhaps, legitimately crazy and even dangerously simple-minded, but the way we judge those things shouldn’t be based on her appearance, but rather based on the substance of her campaign, her platform, her speeches, her words. There’s lots of fuel for the fire there.
Shame on Tina Brown for resorting to this kind of yellow journalism. It’s like a one-sided catfight in print. It’s the picture that was substituted where a thousand words would do. And Brown makes the loonies at Fox News actually right for once. She also makes me, as a feminist, have to defend a woman whose politics I abhor.
An article in Vanity Fair from the May edition (the one with Rob Lowe on the cover) talks about income disparity in America. I’m sure it’s nothing that people in America don’t already intrinsically sense, but just in case you missed it: 1% of the people in America make 25% of the income, and the same 1% own 40% of its assets.
Instead of being the land of opportunity it dreamily advertises, America is on par with Russia and Iran in terms of the disparity between its haves and its have nots. This only addresses the top 1%: the wealthiest of the wealthy. Income and wealth distribution in America is much more unfair when you factor in divisions amongst the remaining 99%.
Once upon a time in America, this was a land of opportunity. Our founding fathers and subsequent leaders wanted to ensure an equality of opportunity (or at least as much of one as possible) and fought to keep America from becoming like a feudal European state. Part of the point of having a graduated income tax and estate and capital gains taxes and anti-trust laws was to keep the wealthy from, in effect, owning the country and then having those wealthy pass it on to their children. And so on and so on and so on, in perpetuity.
Now the rich get around these laws with special tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy. I’m not anti-business. I’m not even anti-big business. The problem is when I hear that multi-billion dollar behemoths like General Electric paid no federal taxes last year. That’s something I take issue with.
The problem is when I see executives that make millions of dollars a year go unscathed after they make unethical decisions that cost “regular” people their jobs and their homes. That they haven’t been prosecuted is something I intend to remember in the next Presidential election.
The 1% elect other members of the 1% to represent the 1% and the interests of big business (not surprisingly, how much of the 1% makes its money). The 1% funds the campaigns of the 1% it elects. They fund the lobbyists who barrage the lawmakers with their requests on behalf of the 1%.
But there will be a day of reckoning. Make no mistake about it. I hope that day of reckoning will just be a day at the polls. One day the 99% will wake up and see what’s going on, and I only hope that the 1% make adjustments towards greater equality before that happens. I hate to think about what else could happen. Read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ask Anistasia. Ask Marie Antoinette.
Now, since I sometimes criticize certain conservative politicians for bitching about problems without solving them, I would like to propose some prospective solutions. For one thing, we have laws in place to protect consumers in this country. It’s time we started enforcing them. Let Elizabeth Warren head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and give her the power and influence necessary to carry out her job instead of being a mere figurehead.
Take away all the special tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy. Who are the wealthy, you might ask? Well, that probably depends on the size of a person’s family and the number of his dependents. However, I think most people in America would consider themselves very fortunate to make a six-figure income. Certainly, if you are making $250,000 a year, then I don’t care if you’re the Duggards or the Browns of The Sister Wives, you couldn’t possibly have enough children to be hurting on a quarter of a million dollars a year. No “special” tax credits for you.
With 401(k) plans, the government makes employers conduct something called nondiscrimination testing on an annual basis. If the rank and file workers in a company are making a disproportionate percentage of income compared with a company’s officers and upper management, then the upper management doesn’t get to sock away as much money on a tax free basis. These people received distributions from their 401(k) plans, and they are taxed on them at the normal rate…or they have to find other tax loopholes created for the wealthy. I have no doubt that there are some.
How about doing nondiscrimination testing on salaries as well. Establish a percentage that seems reasonable, and then for every dollar they make above what’s considered a fair amount, tax the hell out of it at a higher percentage rate. It’s unconscionable that executives, officers, and managers at a corporation should make well over 10, 20, or 30 times the salaries of the typical worker.
It’s immoral when these executives take all of the credit for a company’s success and none of the risk or the blame when it fails. A company’s success or failure depends on all of its workforce. I’m not advocating equal pay for everyone regardless of risk, stress, education, experience, and competence level. What I am saying is that it’s wrong for a few men to make billions of dollars while the men who work hard to keep his company afloat have to apply for food stamps and Medicaid when the company flourishes and get pink slips when it doesn’t.
I don’t expect that this post will get much traffic or inspire much thought or change. I expect things to remain in the status quo, right where they have been for the most part since Ronald Reagan was elected. I had hoped that Obama might accomplish change, but apart from his health care plan, I see little that has changed. And the health care plan hasn’t taken effect yet. If the Republicans and Tea Party revelers have their way, it never will.
Remember the old bible stories about Joseph and his coat of many colors? Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Then he rose to become the right hand man of the Pharaoh himself. Several generations later, his ancestors and the descendants of his brothers were slaves. Moses led them out of the land of Egypt, parting the red sea with his staff.
Then, remember how several years later a bunch of immoral white men in Europe and the United States kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and killed many Africans on big seafaring vessels? Remember how the ones who survived were later sold off to plantation owners in the South who then treated them abysmally? Maybe you don’t. Do yourself a favor and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roots. Remember how Abraham Lincoln set those slaves free with a little document we like to call the Emancipation Proclamation?
Slavery is alive and well in America and throughout the world. Only now slavery is not defined by your religion or the color of your skin. It’s dependent upon your gender and your social status. Women, girls, and the poor are slaves, not just in the rest of the world but here in this country. Undocumented workers are smuggled into this country at the mercy of unscrupulous traders. Then they are either sold into slavery outright or dropped across the border with a debt owed to their smugglers that they will never repay in their lifetimes: the new indentured servitude.
It’s happening to our young girls, as young as 13, courted sweetly by men whose future plans are to sell them in prostitution. The same sweet guy who treated these young women like princesses later rapes, beats, and drugs them. And rap music sanctifies and glorifies such behavior for whole new generations of young men, with its tales of pimps working hard to manage their bitches and hos. Yeah, it’s hard out there for a pimp. So hard, in fact, that we gave the men their own Academy Award winning anthem.
Our own military, in its efforts to reduce military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, have contracted the work of its non-essential personnel to civilians. These civilians are recruited by firms who contract with companies that contract directly with the Pentagon. Who knows just how many channels the money is laundered through until it gets to the hands of the slave traders? But if you’re an American, your tax dollars are paying to buy slaves.
Poor men and women are promised big money in exotic locations only to find out that they will be forced to Iraq and Afghanistan against their will, kept in sub-human conditions, abused and sometimes sexually battered. They will dodge bombs, shells, missiles and bullets on a daily basis. They will be hungry. They will not be allowed to leave. Almost all of them will not receive the pay they are promised. Some will not be paid at all.
Yes, slavery is alive and well and living in America. The new slave is poor and foreign or female and young. And America is buying.
Two stories have made the news lately that involve women’s rights. The one step forward is Saudi Arabian women driving despite that country’s ban on women drivers. Despite the fact that there is not one civil, written law prohibiting women from driving, Saudi women who drive are jailed because of the ruling of conservative Muslim clerics. Some 40 women with international driver’s licenses took to the streets. Some were accompanied by their husbands and families. Some men even drove around in women’s headdress as “decoys.” The women took video and posted it on YouTube.
It’s somewhat disheartening that in a country that is so clearly guilty of misogyny on every conceivable level, the right to drive is where they are focusing their energies. However, every civil rights movement has to start somewhere. Rosa Parks began her people’s fight over the same issue: transportation.
The two steps back is the Supreme Court’s ruling on a class action suit against Walmart for sexual discrimination in its hiring practices. I’m not a big fan of class action lawsuits or of litigation in general. Our society is ruining itself and doing nothing but lining the pockets of lawyers in most of these cases. By the time the lawyers get their share the plaintiffs usually get a pittance. About the only good thing about them is that the perpetrators usually have to pay heavy, heavy fines. So, they think twice about doing that again.
In the Walmart case the plaintiffs point out specific instances of sexual discrimination and cite statistics. Only 33% of Walmart managers are women, while 70% of its employees are women. The court ruled that because Walmart has a policy against sexual discrimination and because hiring decisions are made on the local level, that, therefore, Walmart as a corporation isn’t guilty of sexism.
Wow! That’s interesting. So, apparently, Walmart has no responsibility for looking at these skewed numbers and wondering just why, exactly, that far more men than women are “qualified” to be managers. No one in their human resources department ever once questioned these statistics? Are we really saying as a country that we believe that men are innately more “qualified” to management 67% of the time? That’s not sexist. Of course not.
Not surprisingly, all 3 female justices were in the minority on the ruling. They get it. These blatant prejudices don’t suddenly cease to happen because we have a policy to address them. Sexism is pervasive across our society, and I’m sure that many men and many women, as well, are only subconsciously guilty. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable just the same. The only way that change is going to happen is if people in powerful positions factor in for their own cultural biases.
Just because a company or a country has a law against discrimination doesn’t mean that discrimination doesn’t still happen. Just because a corporation leaves its hiring practices to individual managers doesn’t mean that they aren’t responsible for making sure those hiring decisions adhere to the official company line. In this case, Walmart failed in its responsibility to ensure that its hiring practices are fair.
People like Pete DeGraaf anger me, people who are so narrow-minded as to see only their own viewpoint on any given subject and to be wholly convinced that their side is the righteous one. Smart people know that there are two sides to every war. Which side is the “good” one is sometimes a random designation made decades later by history books and determined in large part by military might and strategy.
I like to think that if I were ever pregnant as the result of a rape that I would give birth to that baby. I do think that would be the right thing to do, but to be told that I have no choice in the matter and to have a pregnancy from a rape be equated with the inconvenience of a flat tire or paying for life insurance…just goes to show you that DeGraaf thinks that being raped is one of those inevitabilities of life that a woman should be prepared for. It sickens me that anyone with so little empathy or compassion for women would dare to call himself a representative of Christ. Somewhere in Heaven, God is vomiting right now.
The thing that I find the saddest about people like DeGraaf is that when you ask them why they are so vehemently opposed to choice, they always mention, of course, that abortion is murder. They say that they are opposed to any taking of life that’s not done by God. They believe in the sanctity of life. And you ask them about assisted suicide. The answer they give seems consistent. But ask them about the death penalty or ask them about war…you’ll get a very different answer.
I don’t want to get into the particulars of a debate about war and the ethics of war. I don’t have enough time to address it in this blog post except to say that “this” war (Iraq & Afghanistan) on “terrorism” is not anymore ethical than the one we lost in Vietnam. This is to say…that it isn’t. We have no business being there. And yet a guy like DeGraaf I can say with absolute certainty, supports the “War on Terrorism” and would question my very patriotism for daring to examine America’s real motivations.
I’m also certain that a guy like DeGraaf backs the death penalty. I haven’t spent any time looking at his website or his voting record, and yet I can tell you with absolute certainty, that DeGraaf believes in the death penalty as if there were Bible verses that support it. That’s ‘cause I’m psychic like that…either that or DeGraaf is a walking, breathing, talking caricature of a certain cretin of American zombies who think alike about everything.
Okay. There are Bible verses that seemingly support the death penalty. I’ll give you that. But there are Bible verses that seem to support slavery as well. I’ve got a brain. I can think. And when a man who says abortion is murder and says that he believes in the “sanctity of all life” also supports the death penalty and the War For Our Gas Tanks, then I call Bullshit! I call Hypocrite!
When you get into a debate with one of these people they inevitably mention that it’s a question of innocence. An unborn baby is innocent. A convicted murderer is not. A jihadist is not. But how do we determine innocence? An unborn baby that’s the product of incest ruins the life and future of a 9 year old girl who’s been raped by her father. That’s not the baby’s fault, or is it? If you hurt someone by accident, then have you hurt them less than if you did it by malicious intent?
I’m not trying to call into question the innocence of an unborn baby. Not seriously. But the people who are working to take away a woman’s choice are saying that pregnancies that result from rape or incest are only 10% or less of total unplanned pregnancies. Some estimates claim 1% or less. They want to take away a woman’s right to choose because less than 1% of unplanned pregnancies are the result of rape. What if 1% of people on death row are innocent? How does DeGraaf feel about the death penalty then?
I’ve read recently about some people who are making some headway towards eradicating the death penalty. One of them is Danalynn Recer, a mitigator in Houston, Texas. She was written up in The New Yorker. The work she’s doing involves presenting mitigating circumstances to juries in the penalty phases of capital murder cases. Simply put, she makes the perpetrators seem like human beings. She tells their life stories leading up to their monstrous crimes.
In addition to the work of mitigators, the death penalty has taken some hits recently because of The Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is a non-profit group based out of New York City that has worked with convicted men across the United States to use DNA evidence in order to exonerate innocent men who were wrongfully imprisoned. In many cases it has prevented innocent men from being executed.
I used to be staunchly opposed to the death penalty. I’m a little more open minded recently. You might ask why. And I would say Osama bin Laden. While I absolutely feel that the Christian response at someone’s death is not to take to the streets and rejoice, I realize that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with killing him. One of bin Laden’s sons and some of the more bleeding heart liberal of my countrymen have come forward with questions on why we didn’t take bin Laden into custody and put him on trial.
And I know why…because it’s pointless. He’s the mastermind behind 9/11. He’s taken credit for it. And even if he were to receive a trial…where would it be held? How would he receive a fair trial? Where would we find a “jury of his peers” beyond a terrorist training camp in some rural Pakistani village, and then…would justice prevail?
So, what I will say about the death penalty is this, that like with abortion, I believe that it should be safe, legal and extremely rare. Maybe in the case of the death penalty, I should say humane, legal and extremely rare. Most European nations and developed countries no longer practice the death penalty. These other countries tend to have significantly lower rates of violent crime than the United States does.
And so, I think that we need to realize that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. Maybe something about it satisfies our need for vengeance. An eye for an eye. But what most people don’t realize about that particular Bible quote is that it was not a prescription for violence but rather a limitation that was meant to instill a sense of fairness. You take my eye, I take your eye – not, rather, you take my eye, and I take your eye, your house, and your entire flock of goats. It was a restriction on the inevitable escalation of violence.
Something about our society perpetuates violence. We need to take a good, hard look at just what that is. And maybe, in the meantime, we should limit death penalty cases to extreme cases of genocide, mass murder, war crimes, and treason.
If you’re interested in learning more about the death penalty in the United States, then I recommended the websites I’ve linked to as well as the following movies, books, and television programs:
I Want to Live – the 1958 tearjerker based on the real-life story of Barbara Graham boasts an over-the-top performance by Susan Hayward. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% Fresh rating.
Death Be Not Proud – This is a 2005 episode of the David E. Kelley produced Boston Legal. In the episode, James Spader’s Alan Shore travels to Texas to try a capital murder case. Kerry Washington guest stars.
Hi. You might not know me. I’m Kansas State Representative Pete DeGlaaf (R), and I love women and babies. In fact, I just kissed a baby 5 minutes ago. You missed it. During a recent house debate my colleagues and I were discussing a motion to make private health coverage for abortions illegal. I mentioned that women who were the survivors of rape or incest might just want to be prepared.
I mean, after all, I have a spare tire. I have life insurance. Why shouldn’t we expect women to plan ahead for these inevitable contingencies of life? Isn’t that what being a responsible adult is all about? We have fire insurance and flood insurance. Why shouldn’t we have rape insurance, too?
That’s when it occurred to me that I had come upon an excellent business plan, inadvertently. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t take advantage of my accidental flash of entrepreneurial genius! First, I googled to make sure that there wasn’t already a rape insurance policy out there.
It turns out there is, but it’s only available in South Africa. So, I thought why can’t we be like the progressive people of South Africa and offer this service to American women? I contacted my friends at Mutual of Wichita. They felt exactly the same way, and they made it happen.
I’m now pleased to announce that you can purchase Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance at a very affordable rate. You can, like a Boy Scout, be prepared for life’s emergencies, such as random acts of penis. What does it cost? Well, the monthly premium is very affordable. And like life insurance, we base it on amortization tables designed to minimize risk. But any woman* can afford rape insurance.
Affordable Monthly Premiums
|Girl, 18 & Under, Virgin||
|Female, Experienced, under 30||
|Female over 30||
You might ask, what is the deductible, Pete? And again, it’s very affordable. The deductible is only $800. That’s right! $800! For the mere cost of a rape kit, you can start taking advantage of your rape insurance coverage.
What does rape insurance cover? I’m glad you asked. There are two options available for women. Both options, working, of course, in conjunction with your health care provider and your employer’s EAP, will pay for a portion of 8 counseling sessions with a qualified, approved Christian counselor.
We will pay, in conjunction with your health care provider, for a portion of the health care costs associated with the rape, up to and including the morning after pill, four AIDS tests, the recommended AZT cocktail, and a full test panel for STDs. We will also pay for your ultrasound and prenatal care and labor costs, if necessary.
For those of you that are victims of rape and incest, I am truly sorry. If, after 8 weekly sessions, your qualified, approved Christian counselor determines that an abortion is necessary for your mental health, then it will be covered after certain secondary requirements are met.
|The Jaycee Duggard Plan||The Joan Crawford Plan|
|Health Care||Health Care|
|Pre-Natal & Delivery||Polygraph Test|
|College Trust Fund||Wire Hanger|
|One Gallon of Distilled Water|
|2 Tea Towels|
|1 Box of Sanitary Napkins|
We will, of course, require you to submit to a polygraph test and an ultrasound. If the polygraph determines that you have, indeed, been the victim of a rape or incest, then we will provide you with a coat hanger, a teakettle, a bottle of distilled water, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a small hand-held mirror, and one night in a private hospital room. If you absolutely must kill babies, then that burden should be on you alone. This is called the Joan Crawford Plan.
For those of you that aren’t baby killers, we have the Jaycee Duggard Plan. This option covers not only your medical costs associated with gestation and labor but also provides your rapist’s baby with a college education, regardless of whether or not you decide to keep the baby. That’s right. You can give your baby up to a loving, caring, Christian family that’s just waiting for a bundle of joy and rest assured that your child will receive a college education at an approved Christian college.**
But wait!! That’s not all. If you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, to a panel of Christian clerics and medical experts, that you were a virgin prior to your assault, then you will receive an extra $10,000 for pain and suffering to be spent in any way you deem fit. You can also qualify for discounts on your insurance premiums if you agree to carry pepper spray, take a self defense course and never leave your home without your arms, legs, ankles and decolletage fully covered. We will provide an additional discount if you wear a burka or another full head and face covering.
* Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance doesn’t cover strippers, massage therapists, sex workers or transgender women. Pre-existing conditions such as prior sexual abuse can disqualify you for coverage as well.
Disclaimer: I am not Pete DeGlaaf or Pete DeGraaf, the dumbass Republican member of the Kansas State House of Representatives. This “advertisement” is a satire meant to call attention to the stupidity and misogyny of Representative Pete DeGraaf of Kansas.