Leave a comment

This Week In Why We Need to $%!^@*# Vote!

Your weekly round-up of stupid crap politicians have said and done trying to get elected, reminding you of the urgent need to vote for whomever is running against them.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” -Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for President

From the look on Mitt’s face, he’s finally done the arithmetic on his ’47 percent’ comments.

Topping the list this week is a no-brainer. It’s Williard “Mittens” Romney himself for the instant classic hidden video-recorded diatribe against half the friggin’ country. HALF the country. Who he wants to vote for him. As Bill Clinton would say, did he do the arithmetic on that one?

The video also contained such gems as “It would be helpful to be, uh, Latino” and his brilliant plan for “kicking the ball down the field” on the Isreali/Palestinian conflict. The really scary part? With Voter ID laws suppressing the vote in key states, this video still has a chance of some day ending up in the Willard Romney Presidential Library. That thought alone should be enough to get you out of bed bright and early on Election Day morning.
The Takeaway: Vote Barack Obama and Joe Biden

[The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate] will be gone on day one. I can guarantee you that.” -Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican nominee for Vice President

Mitt’s second chair wasn’t too fair behind in the Mind-numbingly Stupid Things Coming out of the Pie-hole Department, though in Rep. Paul Ryan’s case, there was no collective media WTF response to his words.  That’s mostly because the words he said are already front and center on the Romney/Ryan platform. All Ryan did was reveal just how high on their agenda repealing the contraception mandate is.  It’s ‘day one’ important to them, people. That’s right. Not foreign policy, not education, not even the economy. Revoking access to contraception for millions of American women trumps all of that. If this surprises you at all, we can only assume that you slept through the entire 112th Congress.
The Takeaway: Vote Barack Obama and Joe Biden

“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do. So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side.“ -Former Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

Only at the Values Voters Summit can you say to your followers that, basically, they’re not all that smart and they’ll give you a standing ovation. Also, do we need to point out the irony of him lamenting that ‘smart people’ believe they should tell everyone what to do when his party’s platform says that half the population shouldn’t have control over their own bodies? No? Didn’t think so.
The Takeaway: This guy came in second – second! – to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Think about that.

“[W]ho better than me, who’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare? Let’s block-grant what the state has, and allow the states to determine what’s going to go into Medicaid. And Medicare, let’s wait until everyone that right now is under 55 reaches 55 by age [sic] 2020, and give them a choice whether they want to purchase health insurance with a subsidy from the federal government, or stay on Medicare.” – Republican Senate Candidate Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin

In case you were wondering why Tommy Thompson is having trouble getting Wisconsin seniors to not back over him with their cars, let alone vote for him, this quote from a speech he gave last May should clear things right up. He wants to phase out Medicare and Medicaid; he said it. There’s video. Fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan agrees with him, though he has his own plan for it. So now when both guys go to senior centers and yammer on and on about how much they now want to “reform” and “strengthen” Medicare, the seniors don’t seem to be buying it. Those pesky Internet videos. They’re making it mighty hard to lie to voters these days.
The Takeaway: Wisconsin voters, vote Tammy Baldwin for Senate

“Party bosses dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the decisions – it’s just like 1776 in that way. That was when colonists “rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my … wife. But that is where we are again.” -Lulli Akin, wife of Senate Candidate Todd Akin, of Missouri

Yes, Lulli Akin is not the candidate herself so what she says shouldn’t be subjected to the same scrutiny but come on… Why has everyone in the Akin campaign not been given strict orders to never make rape comparisons or use rape metaphors at all in front of the press? Ever! Is the GOP snubbing you? Are you losing the election? Yeah, that sucks. But it’s not rape. Rape is terrible, horrific, and way fucking worse than losing a damn election. Until you figure that out, just stop talking.
The Takeaway: Missouri voters, vote Claire McCaskill for Senate


Mitt Says, “It’s Not Me, Baby, It’s You.”

What’s got two thumbs, no soul, and is cold and plastic? This guy!

Mitt Romney is having a rough couple of weeks.

By now we’ve all seen the can of whoop-ass that Mother Jones opened up on Mitt Romney with the secret video of him sucking up to a bunch of millionaire donors at a $50K-a-plate fundraiser. Between this, the Libya spectacle, and him almost starting a war with England, his campaign is looking a lot like Dresden in 1945, only with more explosions and better hair.  In case you missed it, America’s resident Aging Ken Doll made the blanket generalization that the 47% of Americans who will vote for President Obama no matter what are uniformly, across the board, a bunch of low-life “takers” who are sucking at the government teat. Mitt must not have been to Mississippi lately, because he seems to think there are no poor Republicans on food stamps. He also seems to think that the only people who would vote for President Obama are welfare cases who pay no taxes and can’t take care of themselves (or really, WON’T, because if you’re Mitt, you believe everything that happens to the less fortunate is THEIR fault). AND, he thinks that’s HALF the country.

And as is often the case in public life, his “damage-control” efforts are almost as revealing as the initial damage. In this case, that equals doubling down on what he said while sliding in a line about his “inelegant” phrasing, which was intended to pacify…who, exactly?

Don’t laugh, but this whole thing reminds me of Todd Akin in a way. Yes, I know, there’s never a bad time to saddle a Republican with the public relations boat anchor known as Todd Akin, but this is actually relevant. Women, you will understand this. Todd and Mitt are two nasty peas in a testosterone-y, Republican pod; they got busted saying something incredibly ill informed and hateful, and their response was to come out in the media with an apology for the way they PHRASED what they said. That’s right, fellows. It was the clumsy wording that you used when you basically said women who get pregnant from rape weren’t really raped. It was the artless phrasing of your disdainful plutocratic rant that bothered us, not that you assumed that those of us who disagree with you on policy and do not plan to vote for you are a bunch of broke moochers relying on the government for our every need.

We all love our fellas (mine just made me pancakes!), but most of us had that boyfriend at some point, didn’t we? The one who did something stupid and could only offer a half-assed non-apology (“I’m sorry YOU were offended”) and then mansplain to us why they shouldn’t really apologize because they really do anything wrong to begin with? I know enough women who dated that guy, and a few who married him, who will be less than enthusiastic about voting for him.

Sidebar: when the Sandra Fluke/Rush Limbaugh debacle was in full swing back in the spring of this year, what did Mitt have to say about it? It would have been nice to hear a denunciation but what we got was this b.s.: “It’s not the language I would have used.” In other words, Mitt thinks she’s a slut and prostitute too, he just wouldn’t have phrased it that way. Either he doesn’t grasp, or he doesn’t care, that the language isn’t the problem, it’s actually the substance of the message that is completely abhorrent to most decent people.

So let’s go over this again, Mittens. Veterans deserve their benefits. Seniors who paid into social security all their lives deserve their benefits. And yes, you tax-dodging sociopath, poor people ARE entitled to food and a roof over their heads. This is the richest country in the world, and it’s pathetic that 50 million Americans are food-insecure, many of them children whose parents are unemployed or underemployed. Feeding them is kind of the least you can do after sending their jobs to China, don’t you think?

Mitt states at one point in his video that he was way more worried about courting Latinos than he was about women. He should be worried about us, though. As it is, his polling gap among women is about 10%. But in this writer’s humble opinion, it should be higher, and in the end, may well turn out to be: Cook Report ran an article about a focus group in which they interviewed 12 women in Milwaukee, two of which were committed to Obama, two of which were committed to Romney for some reason, and the rest were uncommitted. What they found was that, quite shockingly, the uncommitted women thought Romney seemed like a snob. Like someone who, if they were neighbors, would never talk to them or offer to pick up their mail while they were away. Someone who talks down to them, and doesn’t get them. And now we know why. Because he thinks we are all good for nothing drooling losers who refuse to learn to tie our own shoes.

Well. Who would have expected that? I don’t know about you ladies, but a guy who treats me with cold contempt is a major turn-on.

Nobody was surprised by the fact that Mitt Romney thinks he and his uber-wealthy friends are better than everyone else. But the fact that his disdain extends to viewing half the population as burdensome, annoying retarded children whose toys you just can’t take away… well, that was surprising even for Mitt. And even in damage control mode, he continues to insult our intelligence, as if we are ninnies who don’t understand what we’re actually upset about. Remember that jerk boyfriend you had in college explaining to you how your feelings are stupid and you shouldn’t be having them? Yeah.

Yes, presentation matters. But if you put horse shit in a shiny tin that says “Sugar”, it’s still horse shit. There was actually nothing wrong with Mitt’s presentation. Really. He didn’t swear, he used complete sentences, he didn’t call anyone Macaca. I have not one whit of a problem with the presentation of his message or the “language” he used. It’s the substance of the message he sought to convey: that anyone who isn’t supporting him (again, that’s HALF of America) is a worthless peasant.

That would offend a lot of people. But for a lot of women, the insult to injury is the dismissive, condescending, self-mansplanatory non-apology that they’ve sat through so many times. In the knee-jerk world of social media and the 24 hour news cycle, your message IS you. And right now, Mitt is that condescending guy you couldn’t get rid of fast enough.

Good job, Mitt.  You’re welcome.

Leave a comment

Romney Policy Asks ‘Do you have a License to Operate that Uterus?’

by Siobhan Carroll
Guest Blogger, Braevehearts Blog

“As governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman lieutenant governor, a woman chief of staff. Half of my cabinet and senior officials were women. And in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.”
– Mitt Romney’s Republican Nomination Acceptance Speech

I’ve been mulling over the above part of Mitt Romney’s speech for a few days. The RNC did a great job of showcasing an impressive bullpen of conservative women leaders like Nikki Haley and Mia Love. I don’t doubt that those two in particular will be voices we will hear from for decades to come. I may not agree with their stated policies or beliefs, but as women are underrepresented as it is I am always happy to see female leadership in politics.

Something about Romney’s comments coupled with these promising young faces wasn’t sitting right with me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Until, of course, at 3 o’clock this morning.

That snarky voice of mine emerged from my subconscious and verily shouted:

“Mitt trusts women to be leaders in his companies, the state and federal capitols, and arguably his own home, but yet they shouldn’t be trusted to make decisions concerning their own bodies?!”

Needless to say, I was pissed off. Mostly because I was woken up at 3am by Miss Snarkatude, whom I usually try to silence with copious amounts of wine and Xanax so things like this don’t happen. But of course what she was saying was true- if you trust women with your sons, your business, your public policy and legislation, why don’t you trust them to make decisions about their own reproductive health?

I have a college education. I am 35 years old (coming soon to a Senate race near you!). I am married, I have a good job, I have two children, two mortgages, a car payment, and a mildly embarrassing purse collection. What of the above criteria disqualifies me from deciding how to best plan for my family? If you say it’s the purse collection I have a Coach leather carry-all that I might fill with rocks and swing in your general direction.

But seriously, at what point am I “allowed” to decide to terminate a pregnancy? To seek permanent birth control when we have decided our family is complete? To make sure my daughters have access to scientifically accurate information about their bodies and their health?

Forbes magazine reported in June that between 2004 and 2008 companies in the top quartile of boards with women directors outperformed those in the lowest quartile by 26%. If the warnings of Coleen Rowley, FBI field agent in Minneapolis, about men training to be pilots who had no interest learning how to land a plane had been heeded perhaps September 11th would be just an ordinary day to us. Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton have each made extraordinary contributions to US efforts abroad as Secretary of State.

Yet despite these powerful examples of intelligent women making inroads in business and politics by using good judgment, we are still not allowed full governance of our bodies and reproductive health. It is important to note the connection between successful career advancement and the ability to plan one’s family. Having access to birth control, family planning assistance and basic healthcare is key to not only to a woman’s professional success but also to her family’s health and financial security. Nature’s timing is such that our most fertile years correspond with our most promising educational and professional opportunities, and being able to successfully manage our 20s and 30s is what leads to prosperity and health in our later years.

Let’s pause a moment to consider our male brethren as well. In a world where stay at home dads and female breadwinners have become more common and where fathers are more involved in domestic life than ever, we are short-changing men when we don’t give their female partners access to birth control and options to terminate a pregnancy. How can any man be a full partner in the decision to start or enlarge a family if his significant other can’t procure even the most basic contraceptives, or even accurate information about abortion?

I wonder when this infernal “debate” will come to an end. I’m thinking of instituting an exam where I get some sort of uterus license like my driver’s license if I pass (what would the picture on the uterus license be? Think on THAT one for a moment). It often feels like the only qualification for getting to decide want to do with my female reproductive organs is not to have any.

We’ve come a long way, ladies, but in order to end this misogyny we have to make it clear to business and political leaders that if you want my brains in your boardroom and my profits in your pocket, you need to keep your hands off my hoo-ha.


Joe Walsh Needs to Get A Real Job

Congressman Joe Walsh, hard at work.We have made no great secret of our dislike of Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, currently fighting for his job, which if the Cook Report’s projections are correct, he will be losing to Tammy Duckworth in November, to the tune of about seven points (since you probably aren’t paying in excess of $350.00 a year to read the Cook Report, you heard it here first). It must be this stink of desperation that led him to become another right wing voice piling onto Sandra Fluke after her DNC appearance the other night.

“So at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night their first prime time speaker was Sandra Fluke, whatever her name is,” Walsh said. “Think about this, a 31-32 year old law student who has been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people, ‘I want America to pay for my contraceptives.’ You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job Sandra Fluke.”

Now really, people, is a guy who managed to fall behind by over $100K in his child support really qualified to lecture anyone about personal responsibility? Sorry, but like Gail Collins and Romney’s dog on the roof, I have to get that in there if I’m going to write about Joe Walsh.

Let me first quickly slap down that enormous, reeking cowpie of a lie that conservatives keep repeating before moving on to what I really want to say. Georgetown students pay for their own insurance. Let me write this again, in large type, in case there are any teabaggers reading this: GEORGETOWN STUDENTS PAY FOR THEIR OWN INSURANCE. The school requires that all students carry health insurance, and since the school already has a group plan that they provide for their employees, they allow the students to purchase insurance through that plan, since it would be somewhat discounted compared to what the students would pay if they bought the plan independently. However, the student covers the entire cost of their insurance. It is not subsidized by the school, nor, since Georgetown is not a public university, THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS, in any way, shape or form. Sandra Fluke simply wants the insurance that she pays for with her own money to cover contraceptives, like most normal plans do. I want everyone to remember this, and please slap these people down when they start with that completely false talking point about Ms. Fluke wanting the American taxpayer to pay for her contraceptives.

Moving on:

If there is any member of Congress who appears to go out of their way to make “Congressman” seem like it’s not a “real job”, that would be Joe Walsh. Aside from voting against the interests of his district on things like the highway bill, he has sponsored completely useless, garbage legislation like the Save Christmas Act. In a country that is 85% self-identified Christian, we need a Save Christmas Act about as much as I need a third tit. And then there was the bill looking to abolish the Office of Polar Programs, I guess because global warming isn’t real. But how is Santa going to find the funding to expand his workshop now?

I’m kidding. Santa is a self-made entrepreneur who has his own money to expand his workshop. Of course he doesn’t need the Office of Polar Programs. He also doesn’t need the Save Christmas Act. He’s doing fine.

So, just to recap: Joe Walsh has gone out of his way to be as useless as possible in Congress.

Now let’s look at Joe Walsh’s early years. He’s got an advanced degree, he was a former social worker and before he became a born-again teabagger, he was a self-described moderate who worked for a few think tanks after a longish stint working with disadvantaged youth in the inner city in Chicago. He also taught American Government and American History at a couple of area colleges. Let’s see… college professor, working with disadvantaged communities in Chicago… Gosh, who does that sound like? I just can’t place it… I hate to be the one to point this out, but… Conservatives? Are you listening? This guy’s early career sounds a lot like President Obama’s, and you all couldn’t find enough different ways to tell us how useless his experience was. That’s right. Useless bastard. By your own measure, conservatives, this guy has never had a real job. It’s pretty funny that on his official bio, he’s gone out of his way to make it sound less like he was doing anything too “community organizer-ish”.

So to recap: apparently, both Republicans and Democrats can agree, Joe Walsh is completely useless.

In all seriousness, people, I don’t know the man, and everything about his background speaks to someone who is actually probably fairly intelligent and comes from some middle-of-the-road, old-school Republican leanings. He ran describing himself as “pro-choice,” yet voted for the horrendous HB358, which we have complained about here before, which allows hospitals to refuse an abortion on moral/religious grounds even if the woman’s life is in immediate, grave danger. That’s really what makes the whole thing a hundred times worse, in a way. It speaks to a person who doesn’t really believe any of this regressive, extremist, misogynistic garbage, and just cynically underwent a miraculous conversion to Douche-ism in order to get and keep a political office. It makes this whole rant a political calculation of the worst kind as he tries to fire up and turn out the worst among his base in a desperate bid to keep the seat that he completely sold out in order to get in the first place.

Hey Walsh! You’re fired! Now go get a real job!


An Open Letter to Pro-Choice Conservative Women

It was recently proclaimed, as a passing point from one of the talking heads on some news station or other, that two thirds of conservative women are anti-abortion. But it gave literally no mention to that other third. The third that likes low taxes, aggressive foreign policy, and small government. Government that stays out of people’s private lives, and especially their uteruses. That’s right, I’m talking about you, Conservative Pro-Choice Woman. It was like you didn’t even exist. You represent a third of conservative women and yet you barely warranted a mention. Who’s been keeping you locked up?

The Republican line on all this lately is that “all issues are women’s issues” and that it’s actually offensive to women to reduce them to nothing but their reproductive organs (irony, much?). This was an argument I’d seen coming long before the right-wing pundits decided to shine it up and make it a talking point. I visited a Facebook page a while back, called “Conservative Women Rock,” out of curiosity to know what issues were of importance to conservative women. I found it virtually indistinguishable from any other conservative page: the requisite Obama bashing, complaints about health care, stuff about taxes and lots of reductive meme jokes about how stupid liberals are. When I asked, “Where are the women’s issues?” …I got banned.

Yes, it’s true that all issues are women’s issues; since women are the primary breadwinners in a little more than half the households in America now, the economy is a women’s issue. Sure. The debt ceiling, which affects all the interest rates that we pay on, well, everything… Sure. And if we weren’t in the position of constantly having to slap down some “conservative,” usually male, lawmaker on the subject of whether we need an invasive transvaginal ultrasound and explanations in small words about what is going on with our pregnant bodies, or whether our rapes are rape-y enough, or whether lesbians and mail-order brides should be included in laws that protect against domestic violence… Yeah. We’d love to talk about these other issues. Believe me. We would rather not be talking about whether we have Martha Plimpton’s “magical vagina death venom” to protect us from pregnancy in case of rape. Shouldn’t everyone know the answer to this already? Really. I’d rather be writing about the impending collapse of the Euro Zone. Bombing Syria. The tax code. Anything but this.

But we didn’t start this argument. Your supposedly so-concerned-with-jobs Tea Party Congress did. You, conservative woman, probably elected this Republican, Tea Party congress to create jobs and improve the economy and maybe to get rid of the Affordable Care Act or at least alter it to your liking. Not to give them greater access to our uteruses and what does or doesn’t go into or come out of them. I’ll be honest. I am not a fan of the current Tea Party line on tax policy but I’d love to be having that debate with you. It would be infinitely preferable to having to write this. In 2012.

Maybe you don’t believe that they will really manage to pass all of these anti-choice laws, no matter how many times they bring them to the table. But look at the actual numbers and the truth is really scary:

HR358, charmingly referred to in pro-choice circles as the “let women die bill”, among other things, allowed hospitals to refuse an abortion to a woman on “moral and religious grounds” even if her life was in immediate danger. It was passed in the House, 251 to 172. That’s the work of your Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, by the way.

HR3 passed the House by nearly the same margin. Sponsored by Paul Ryan and Todd Akin, among others, HR3 sought to expand the Hyde Amendment; but it went so far as to not only ban directly federally funded abortions (of which there are a miniscule number to begin with due to the Hyde Amendment), but also to even deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans which cover abortions. It of course included exemptions for incest, life of the mother, and something called “forcible rape” (as opposed to… consensual rape?). The bill passed, after the “forcible rape” language was removed due to some outcry, but this wasn’t just another run of the mill piece of anti-choice legislation; it also put these conservative, mostly male legislators, in the position of getting to decide whether someone’s rape was really rape-y enough… or, “legitimate”, if you will. Still sound like small, non-invasive government to you?

The Senate is hardly much better. Senator Roy Blunt infamously attached an amendment to a highway bill that allowed any employer with a “religious objection” to refuse to cover not only contraception but… ANY health care service required under the new law, as long as they had a “moral objection”! Let’s see beyond the myopia of women’s reproductive issues to see what a stupid, slippery slope that could take us down! The Blunt Amendment failed… by one vote. That moderate from Maine. Yeah, even your supposedly moderate, supposedly pro-choice Scott Brown whiffed on that one. And remember: Olympia Snowe is retiring.

Maybe you think to yourself, “I’m a powerful woman, even if they pass it, I can handle anything that comes my way.” And maybe you are. In fact, if you’re a pro-choice conservative woman, I’ll bet you’re pretty tough. You’d have to be, to walk around with a differing opinion in the rabid baboon pack that passes for a Republican party today. But this isn’t just about being tough. And it’s not us liberals having wild, hysterical fantasies; extreme anti-choice is the official GOP platform that they unveiled for this convention. No exceptions, end of story. It’s been baked into literally hundreds of laws and amendments that have come before this Congress and state houses across the country. And even if you are tough enough to handle anything that comes your way, is it the world you want to leave your daughters? One where they can’t get the care they need, where men can push them around and tell them what they can’t do with their own bodies? I understand that conservatism at its best is about rugged individualism and not expecting other people to take care of your problems… But is it really just going to be “not your problem” that, for example, the Republican Congress and statehouses’ massive hard-ons to get rid of Planned Parenthood have prevented more pap smears and breast cancer screenings for low-income women than they have abortions? Rich women can still go to Canada for their abortions. Poor women, not so much.

Is this all a distraction? To some extent, yes. I suspect that all of this action on women’s issues, and the reproductive rights issue in particular, is partly so that they have an excuse for why they have been busy doing nothing on jobs. Why they damaged our credit rating due to either willful ignorance of, or malicious disregard for, the way that the debt ceiling works. Not that they don’t believe they should have the right to make more regulations on our uteruses than they want on carbon emissions. They do. But reproductive issues are just the distraction, the thing they do to appear busy, and as a bonus, it gets their “base” (I believe that’s a polite term for “loonies”) riled up. “Look! We’ve been earning our taxpayer dollars!” I know these guys sure as hell don’t represent me. But they don’t really represent you either, and you know it.

So I ask you to consider voting Democrat. Just this time. Your representatives are not doing what you elected them to do anyway, instead opting to run around trying to strip our rights away. If you hire a guy to do data entry, and instead of entering your data, he lights the recycle bin on fire and kicks a hole in the glass on the vending machine, you fire him. They need to be shown that their efforts are an overreach and that they need to get to the real business of the people, and unfortunately, electing more radically conservative people will not really send that message. So please, Conservative Pro-choice Woman. Think long and hard about whether you want to give these legislators the terrible misimpression that their behavior is OK. Consider that maybe the (D) column is where you want to be, maybe just this time around. We can get a beer together and argue about taxes during the next election cycle. I hope. Assuming someone hasn’t repealed the 19th Amendment by then.

Leave a comment

DNC Day 2 – Convention Cop

As promised, WRUN Admin Pattie here, back to do this Convention Cop thing again, this time for the Democrats. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been a registered Democrat since I turned 18. Those expecting a non-partisan take on this evening’s event will be disappointed (though thanks for stopping by). As always, I will try to be fair and will point out what statements, affirmations, and issues I disagree with because even though this is the party named on my voter registration card, I don’t always like what they do and say.

Here’s the line-up for the night and rest assured, readers, I am fully caffeinated:

Speeches from the Time Warner Cable Arena:
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:
• Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.)
• Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
• Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.)
• Education Secretary Arne Duncan
• Progress for People Video: Education
• American Voices Remarks
• Former Gov. Jim Hunt (N.C.)
• Remarks and Video Presentation in Memoriam
• Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey B. Gantt
• Jessica Sanchez, Singer/Songwriter

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
• Stronger Together Video: Women’s Health
• Elizabeth Ann “Libby” Bruce
• Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
• Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.)
• Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.)
• American Heroes Video: Veterans
• Ed Meagher
• Veterans Affairs Secretary General Eric Shinseki
• Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
• Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colo.)
• Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization, NETWORK
• Gov. Jack Markell (Del.)

9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.:
• Karen Mills
• Progress for People Video: Small Business
• Bill Butcher
• Calif. attorney general Kamala D. Harris
• Stronger Together Video: Immigration
• Benita Veliz, DREAM Act Activist
• Cristina Saralegui, Journalist, Actress, and Talk Show Host
• Sandra Fluke, Attorney and Women’s Rights Activist
• Austin Ligon, Co-Founder and Former CEO of CarMax, Inc.
• An Economy Build to Last Video: Auto-Industry
• Karen Eusanio
• Bob King, President of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
• Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster, Former Employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital
• Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)

10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.:
• Jim Sinegal, Co-Founder and Former CEO of Costco
• Elizabeth Warren, Candidate for Senate, Massachusetts
• DNC chair Antonio R. Villaraigosa
• Former president Bill Clinton
• Roll Call Vote
• Alice Germond, Secretary of the Democratic National Committee
• Benediction
• Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, California
• Retire Colors
• Recess

Reaction to remarks by Nancy Pelosi:
Nancy Pelosi leads with the fact that she was the first mother and grandmother to be Speaker of the House. Nice touch. That segues nicely into the “Drive for 25”  – the Democratic push to get the 25 more House seats they need for a majority. While praising Obama for leading on Health Care and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, she says he was blocked at almost every turn by the GOP and specifically on the DREAM Act. (Shout out to Latino voters!)
The money part of the speech is her list of items “on the ballot” in this election: Medicare, Social Security, Women’s rights (nice), Citizens United (also, nice inclusion), the “character of the country.”
Has Pelosi set the tone for the night: focus more on programs and specific issues, less on the overall economy? We’ll see. Twitter pundits mention that Pelosi should have listed the 2011 debt battle as evidence of one of the ways the GOP tried to hamstring the President. Probably. Maybe she’s leaving that for another speaker.

Reaction to remarks by Tom Vilsack:
Vilsack is apparently here to make the case that the Dems are better for rural America. Most interesting point is that he seems to be the only speaker at either convention to mention the Mid-west drought. Congress famously failed to act on drought relief or a farm bill before breaking for recess on August. Unfortunately, Vilsack does not chide Congress for this, I wish he did. He gives the President credit for his actions in redirecting Agriculture Department funds and purchases to help aid farmers after Congress failed to reach a consensus. The farm bill and drought relief is, sadly, a prime example of not only how Congressional Republicans and Democrats failed to work together, but of how the Senate and the House failed to reach consensus with competing legislation. Each chamber wants to do things their way and only their way so in the end, nothing is done.

Reaction to the Democratic Women of the Senate Video/Tribute:
The music annoys me. It’s a little too cutesy for a tribute to female lawmakers in my opinion.

The 12 Democratic women of the Senate march out and my first thought is, “We need more than that.” Then, maybe we would have had a chance of advancing a Paycheck Fairness Bill?

Reaction to remarks from Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
Speaking of the Paycheck Fairness Bill, its sponsor is at the mike. “Every issue is a woman’s issue. Equal pay for equal work is an all-American issue,” she says. Word to that. Mikulski repeats what is becoming a point made by many female speakers that this convention: The Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for insurers to charge women more for care. Like the video, some of Mikulski’s turns of phrase are too cutesy for my taste – “We work on macro issues and macaroni and cheese issues” – but her ending point is her best. To finish the work of the recovery, “We need reinforcements.” Read: elect more women. We’re working on it!

Reaction to remarks from Arne Duncan:
The appearance of Arne Duncan signals that we’re entering an education block of speakers. As mentioned last week, my household is very much “the choir” to preach to on this issue. Two adults working in public education plus one child attending an urban public school.

Duncan’s speech is quotable, which is fine, but I find myself wishing for more on K through 12 class size and the importance of saving teaching jobs in urban school districts, in hopes of achieving the kinds of student teacher ratios that more affluent districts can tout.

He shifts to higher ed: “higher-ed is an economic necessity,” Duncan argues and mentions the President’s very laudable work to secure Pell Grants and keep student loan rates low. The Obama Administration gets a lot of criticism on K through 12 education, much of it valid, but I argue that they don’t get the credit they deserve on higher ed. Lost in the bickering over the debt battle is the little-known fact that the entire debt deal almost fell apart because some in the House GOP wanted to cut the Pell program to the bone. That the Pell program emerged with more funding and increased annual awards is remarkable. This is an important point to me because, as a employee of a large urban community college, I see firsthand everyday that Pell Grants assist lower-middle class and poor students, many of whom are the first in their families to obtain any kind of higher education. If you’re going to make the case that America can still provide a “path to the middle-class that goes through America’s classrooms,” you need to fund Pell Grants. Full stop.

Reaction to Pell Grant video and remarks by Miami-Dade Student Johanny Adames:
OK, the tactic of putting real people out there to make the case for the President is paying off. She’s terrific. I’m getting misty because I see this young lady and thousands like her everyday at my college. She is the face of millions of part-time college students in this country, who work, take care of families, and go to school.
Some background, Miami Dade College, one of the largest community colleges in the country, is a favorite of the Obama Administration. The President made a commencement speech there in 2011.

Reaction to remarks by Jim Hunt:
Hunt is making the business case for education and is doing a terrific job of it. His recount of the North Carolina education-to-research jobs-success story is causing some on Twitter to joke that he’s running for another term as governor. “Magic didn’t do it in NC. Education did it” is going to resonate. Gives Obama credit for focusing on community colleges more than any other president. I think it’s necessary to add that that is in no small part due to Dr. Jill Biden’s dedication to community colleges. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Reaction to remarks by Elizabeth Ann “Libby” Bruce:
Interesting that Bruce is making the case for Planned Parenthood by recounting her experience with endometriosis, which is a condition that is often treated with hormonal contraception. The same contraception that the Blunt Amendment and other GOP-backed legislation tried to get bumped out of the Affordable Care Act. By the way, it’s a condition that I also suffer from. Once again, I am the choir.

Reaction to remarks by Cecile Richards:
As a speaker, Cecile is not her mom, the late force of nature Anne Richards, but she’s pretty damn good. She leads with a blunt (ha!) assessment of the Congressional GOP: “On day one they came after women’s health and have not let up since…It’s like we woke up in a bad episode of Mad Men.” Hey, I think I made that point!
She adds in some folksy Texas charm to chip away at the Romney-Ryan claim that their budget plan and proposed legislation helps women:  “any more help from Mitt Romney and I’m going to have to take in ironing.” OK, yes, I did LOL at that one because it’s something MY grandmother would say and she’s definitely not from Texas. Overall I think Cecile Richards did Planned Parenthood proud.

Reaction to remarks by Steny Hoyer:
Leads with the well-known Mitch McConnell quote that the Republicans’ top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. Don’t expect that that will be the only time the speakers refer to that McConnell quote tonight. Not quite “we built that” but it will reappear, trust me. Hoyer then transitions into a Jesse Jackson quote to sharpen the point: “they want to drown the captain, and they’re prepared to sink the ship to do so.” That was unexpected but it’s a great line. Hoyer riffs on the theme of GOP obstructionism for a while before wrapping it up.

Around this time it dawned on me that most of the night was still to come. Yikes! Also, around this time I began to notice some scuttle on Twitter that the Dems were shaking up the speaker schedule for various reasons. A few speakers had been dropped or moved to Thursday. Hmmmm…

Reaction to remarks from Gov. John Hickenlooper:
Hickenlooper’s theme of “we, not just me” is very well executed, especially when paired with his point about the history of the American west not being just “rugged individualism but about communities.” It makes me wonder if it’s a very subtle jab at Romney’s attempt to be the heir to Ronald Reagan, who as an actor, did much to extend myths about the American cowboy. Even if it’s not intended as such, it’s great. Hickenlooper has been underrated as a speaker but I’m not sure I’ll make that mistake again. He’s not overly folksy but calming in a way that few politicians are and after the summer that Colorado has had, calming may be just what is needed right now.

Reaction to remarks from Sister Simone Campbell from Network:
You know for all the talk from the GOP about the Democrats ‘getting rid of God’, quite a few of the speakers have mentioned faith. Strickland quoted the Bible on day one and Sister Simone Campbell, one of the Nuns on the Bus is in a prime speaking spot on day two. Sister Simone is phenomenal as a speaker. Right off the bat she fires up the audience and shores up her position by saying “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper” well-known to the delegates and home viewers as one of the most resonating lines of Obama’s 2004 DNC speech. The audience on her side, Sister Simone then sets about making the moral case against the Ryan budget. What could be more powerful than a nun repeatedly saying “it’s just wrong” on national television? Why did no one think to give her a ruler? (Yes, I went to Catholic school.)

Her best line might have been her defense of the Affordable Care Act which she says will stop people from dying unnecessarily due to lack of care. “This is part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do.”  Zing. The Vatican may not be pleased.

We transition into the Small Business block.

Reaction to remarks from Gov. Jack Markell:
Making the business case for Obama. Decent job with content, poor delivery.

Reaction to remarks from Karen Mills:
Little known fact: before Obama, the head of the Small Business Administration was not a cabinet position.

Reaction to video/remarks from Bill Butcher:
At this time of night, Butcher should probably have NOT led with the fact that he did not bring free beer. I know I need it. Another well-chosen “average American” on the podium. Butcher does a nice job, with well-placed shout-outs to the Recovery Act and to small local banks. (As an aside, I’m of the mindset that it’s probably not a bad thing that Obama’s acceptance speech got moved from the Bank of America Stadium back to the Time Warner Arena,  given that bank’s less than stellar reputation.)

Reaction to remarks from Kamala Harris:
It’s always interesting to me to see the various ways politicians try to tell their personal stories through discussions about key issues. For Harris, the Attorney General of California who helped broker a $25 Billion dollar settlement with five major banks over the housing crises, she links her story to the home  ownership dream. More precisely, her mother’s purchase of a new home when Harris was a child and the pride the family felt. Read: “I am an average American like you who takes pridae in owning a home.” Along the way, she tries to ding Romney, citing an interview he gave with a Las Vegas newspaper in which he said that the housing market should “run its course and hit the bottom.”

Did he say that? Yup, but in fairness to Romney, that’s not all he said. Even so, the Romney housing plan is light on details.

Reaction to DREAM Act video and remarks from Benita Veliz:
Veliz is the first undocumented person to speak a national political convention. This is important and it is being noticed by Latinos. Many of the Spanish-language news sites I searched prior to this evening’s speeches mentioned Veliz’s speech tonight, not Clinton’s, as the moment to watch. For those who don’t know, Veliz’s presence at the convention is made possible by the fact that by executive order, Veliz and millions of other undocumented young people, are no longer “illegal.” Obama signed the order after the DREAM Act stalled in Congress.

Reaction to remarks from Cristina Saralegui:
Cristina is apparently the Latina “Oprah”. If pulling Oprah into politics was an achievement in 2008, this is easily as important, perhaps even more so because of the battle for Latino voters. Her speech is a fluid blend of English and Spanish. She’s not the first convention speaker to do that this year, but she’s doing it very well. “The promise of America is in danger,” she warns. ” Governor Romney calls young people like [Benita] ‘illegal aliens.’ President Obama calls them ‘dreamers.’ That is the difference in this election.” What is notable here is that Christina does not simply ask “su gente” to vote. She asks them to organize, register other voters, and spread the word about the difference between Obama and Romney. Powerful appeal.

And we’re transitioning into a block about the auto industry.

Reaction to auto industry video:
There have been a several good videos tonight but this one is the best. This is the one directed squarely at middle America.

Reaction to remarks from Karen Eusanio, GM autoworker:
More “average American” voters nailing their moments on the stage. Key quote: “Because he put himself in our shoes, he put us back on our feet.” Which reminds me, have you read our guest blog post on empathy? You should.

Reaction to remarks from Bob King:
Starts off with are Margaret Chase quote. Nice. He’s the wonkiest, most professorial union leader I’ve ever seen and though his delivery is labored (ha!), his points are very good. “Obama met the test of moral character” he says of the auto industry rescue. “It was not universally popular but it was absolutely right.”
Nice reminder about Labor Day. “Generations of workers fought for the right to organize and collectively bargain. Look at Wisconsin…that’s why unions matter.” That mention of Wisconsin is not an accident. It pulled Ryan into the conversation without needing to mention this name.

Reaction to remarks from Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster, Former Employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital:
Very emotional speeches from all three, and all three follow the same cadence down to the “we know businesses sometimes fail but…” Trying to fact check these is tricky. There are differing reports as to how much money Bain made off of these endeavors. Interesting that the last story from the steelworker takes a direct shot at Romney over his end date as Bain’s CEO, itself a subject of considerable debate.

Pairing these two segments together is not accidental at all. The message the Democrats want to present: Obama saved jobs, Romney destroyed them and made money doing so.

Reaction to remarks from Chris Van Hollen:
Another theme of the night emerging: “let’s all fact check Ryan!” It’s Van Hollen’s turn and he looks like he’s enjoying it. On the debt: “Paul Ryan voted for ALL of it” and “Congressman Ryan, America is literally in your debt.”

Disputes the GOP claim that the President does not have a plan for reduce the deficit: “He does! It’s on the Internet!” It is. As is the jobs plan. And he adds that the Bush tax cuts “lifted the yachts while the other boats ran aground.” Props to Van Hollen for being brief and quotable when I needed a caffeine break.

Reaction to remarks from Sandra Fluke:
The moment that many in women’s rights activism have been waiting for. Fluke’s victory lap over he-who-shall-not be-named. Calls Romney-Ryan future for women’s health an “offensive relic.” It’s notable that Fluke is the first speaker of the night to bring up the Violence Against Women Act, though not by name. Which makes me more disappointed in Pelosi’s speech.

Fluke calls out Romney for not denouncing…you-know-who and implies that this is a severe character defect. Obama by contrast, thinks of his “daughters, not his delegates.” It should be noted that the timing of Fluke’s speech is one of the key deviations from tonight’s schedule. She was shifted into the network television coverage from an earlier slot. The fight for women’s votes is important. Prime time important.

Reaction to remarks from Jim Sinegal
Poor guy to have to follow Sandra. I apologize, but I did not hear much of what he said beyond his discussion of his company’s superior wages and benefits for its workers. It was good stuff but I think his speech and delivery suffered because of the timing shift. He should have been in the block with the auto industry and Bain employees. The crowd was not patient with him either. They were ready for Warren and Clinton.

Reaction to remarks by Elizabeth Warren:
Nice welcome from the crowd. Thanks to Emily’s List and the Democratic National Committee’s mailings, the delegates know who Warren is and the importance of her race. This is Teddy Kennedy’s seat after all, to Dems, it is blasphemy to have anyone but a Dem in it.

Even without the bio, I challenge anyone to not have guessed that Warren had been a teacher. Her delivery gives her away and that’s not a knock. She is smart to focus on the “corporations are not people” thing and to directly challenge Romney on that point. Interesting that speech addresses Romney and not her opponent, Scott Brown. That seems deliberate as well. She ends on two key points: one a Biblical reference and one a tribute to Ted Kennedy. What was I saying about blasphemy? Yeah. Overall, her national debut is a success. She’s measured and professorial but passionate. Can that translate to a win over a pro-choice male candidate? We will see.

It’s time for the big gun. Tonight’s headliner.

Reaction to remarks by President Bill Clinton:
Between the video and the song, I’m 16 again, watching my first DNC in 1992. He’s…extremely Bill Clinton. Did he just flirt with the First Lady? Did I just express surprise at that?

He pays compliments to his wife and the State Department because if he didn’t there would be Hell to pay in the media. Even more compliments to the President. Nicely done.
He’s all charm to start, then Professor Bill comes out. Watch out. Goes after the GOP for getting rid of their top moderates. Though he does not mention Senator Dick Lugar by name, that’s who he’s alluding to. This is vintage Bill Clinton circa 1992, 1993. Never thought I’d see this again.

Holy crap, he’s not stopping. Taxes, Medicare, Welfare. Took that one personally, he says. Twitter says he went off the prepared remarks five minutes ago. This is AD-LIBBED!!!??

Now he’s after Ryan! It takes Brass!

My co-admin just posted “Arithmetic!” on Facebook and then presumably, passed out. (Just kidding.)

Journalists on Twitter are losing their minds at how much of this is not in their prepared texts.
Crowd is chanting “four more years” but it’s not clear on for whom? Obama or Bill?

My husband is sitting next to me in stunned silence. Only Bill Clinton would adlib a wonky, nearly hour-long takedown of the opposing party’s entire platform on live television. With a smile. Everyone remember why the GOP hated Bill? Because he could do that.

He’s done. The crowd may have let him go on longer. Bow and hug to Obama. Like Paul Ryan’s speech last week, that one’s going to be a bear to fact check but it was unlike anything I’ve seen or heard done at a political convention.

Years ago, when Bill Clinton left office, my mom was still upset over what had happened in the last half of his presidency and I don’t blame her. There will always be a question of just how much Clinton could have accomplished if he had more control over his baser leanings. Still, I told her that I thought history would be kind to Bill Clinton. Kinder than it would be to other recent presidents. I stand by that. Was tonight’s epic speech about Obama vs. Romney or about Bill Clinton’s legacy? We won’t know for sure until November but my knowledge of Clinton tells me that it was probably a bit of both.

Thanks for reading. Please post comments and reactions here or on our Facebook page.


Empathy and the More Perfect Union

By Dave Thomer
Special Guest Blogger

As the Democratic National Convention opens, many speakers and presentations will attempt to convey the idea that President Barack Obama understands and cares about the challenges and opportunities that a wide variety of American citizens face. Witness, for example, Day One’s speeches by Stacy Lihn, a mother who is concerned about the cost of medical procedures necessary to save the life of her daughter with a congenital heart defect, or Lilly Ledbetter, whose remarks continue to stress the importance of wage equality. This effort aims both to convey the Democratic Party’s empathy for voters and convince the voters that they should value empathy in their public officials. Partisan Democrat that I am, I think this is a wise and necessary move.

Empathy has been an important part of Obama’s vision for a long time. In general terms, his frequent mention of the Biblical notion of being “my brother’s keeper,” modified to include being “my sister’s keeper” as well, demands a degree of empathy. In order to look out for each other, it’s necessary that we think about how our actions will affect another person. In order to think about how my actions will affect someone else, I have to understand that person’s position and circumstances. It’s not enough for me to say, “How would this affect me, if there were somehow an exact duplicate of me in a position to be affected by my action?” I have to know something about the actual person who is going to be affected.

Obama has also been more specific in citing the need for empathy. He ran into some pushback when he was getting ready to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court because he cited empathy as one of the qualifications he was looking for in a justice:

[T]he issues that come before the court are not sport. They’re life and death. And we need somebody who’s got the heart to recogni– the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young, teenaged mom; the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. (Full Quote.)

Critics accused him of wanting a justice who would ignore the law and the Constitution in order to follow her feelings. But the law is often vague and incomplete. Certainly the Constitution is. Witness the ongoing argument over the meaning of the Second Amendment, or the fact that the notion of a right to privacy is not explicitly stated in the Constitution but must be inferred from the text based on the existence of other rights as well as our own expectations as citizens. There is always a context to be taken into account, and there are often multiple valid but conflicting interpretations that one can choose. Obama makes the explicit claim that when we do so, we should do so by understanding the effect that our chosen interpretation will have on others.

I would make the argument that this empathy isn’t just a requirement for presidents and Supreme Court justices. It’s a requirement for every citizen in a democracy. When we choose our positions on issues, or choose which candidates to support, we shouldn’t just think about how that choice affects us. We should think about how it will affect our fellow citizens, and then decide which option will have the best overall result, even if it means that we make an individual sacrifice.

There’s no formal requirement that we do this in a democracy. We can treat voting the way that many economists treat the market: a group of disconnected individuals all making their own decisions about their individual self-interest. In the aggregate these individual decisions will create a majority that will drive society forward, hopefully creating the highest possible good. I don’t like this vision of democracy because it seems short sighted and disrespectful of fellow citizens. It encourages us to treat politics and government as a matter of winners and losers. In a democracy based on self-interest it becomes rational for some voters to oppose something like the Lilly Ledbetter Act because it will redistribute certain resources. In a democracy based on empathy, we can feel and understand the unfairness of wage inequality and it becomes rational to search for a solution to that problem.

I know which of those societies I prefer, and I’ll be taking my stand on the question on election day. As important as that vote will be, it’s just as important to remember that every day, every one of us has a chance to build that society, empathic act by empathic act, and create more space for our leaders to act accordingly.

Dave Thomer is a public high school teacher and college instructor. He blogs about education, philosophy, politics, and more at NotNews.org.

Leave a comment

Remember This – Tracking the Lawmakers and Women’s Rights

In order to maximize accountability, we are keeping track of what candidates and elected officials do and say against women’s rights. We moved this list from its original location on our Facebook page to eventually allow for shared authorship. The list was becoming too much for our admins to maintain. And sadly, the war on women’s rights does not appear to be slowing down.

We will be updating this list regularly. Please submit any entries we may have missed to our Facebook page or Twitter account. Please be aware, this list is for elected officials or candidates who have made anti-women’s rights statements and/or sponsored/voted in favor of/signed anti-women’s rights legislation. This list is not for media figures who have made sexist or provocative statements to get attention and/or ratings. We prefer not to give them what they want.

Candidate/Elected Official Federal Level – Seeking National Office

Mitt Romney (R) – Nominee for President
Mitt Romney’s Plans for Planned Parenthood

Paul Ryan (R) – Nominee for Vice President
Paul Ryan and the Republican problem with women

Candidates/Elected Officials By State


Robert J. Bentley (R) – Governor
State of Alabama Harrasses and Seeks to Close Abortion Clinic, While Women Die Needlessly in Childbirth

Jefferson Sessions (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Richard Shelby (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Wes Keller (R) – Alaska State Legislature
Wes Keller, Alaska GOP Lawmaker, Blocks Girl Scouts Resolution Over Alleged Planned Parenthood Ties

Lisa Murkowski (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Jan Brewer (R) – Governor
Governor Jan Brewer Signs Arizona’s Extreme New Abortion Law

Trent Franks (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Hearing for D.C. Abortion Bill Set for Next Week
GOP Happy With Attempted D.C. Abortion Ban

Jack Harper (R) – Arizona State Legislature
Arizona Woman Emails Representative Jack Harper; Harper Calls Her “Baby-Killer”

Jon Kyl (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Debbie Lesko (R) – Arizona State Legislature
Contraception bill to be revived in amended form

John McCain (R) – U.S. Senate
John McCain: ‘War on Women’ is ‘Imaginary,’ ‘Conjured by Democrats’
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Terri Proud (R) – Arizona State Legislature
Arizona Lawmaker: Women Should ‘Watch An Abortion Being Performed’ Prior To Having It


John Boozman (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.






Kathleen Passidomo (R) – Florida State Legislature
FL GOP Rep. Says 11-Year-Old Was Gang Raped ‘Because She Was Dressed Like A 21 Year-Old Prostitute’

Marco Rubio (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Allen West (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Allen West: Liberal Women Are ‘Neutering American Men’


Saxby Chambliss (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Terry Engand (R) – Georgia State Legislature
Georgia Republican Compares Women to Cows, Pigs, And Chickens

Bobby Franklin (R) – George State Legislature
Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As ‘Accusers’

John Isakson (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Doug McKillip (R) – George State Legislature
Georgia “Fetal Pain” Author OK with Forcing Women into C-Sections for Unviable Pregnancies



Michael Crapo (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

James Risch (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Chuck Winder (R) – Idaho State Legislature
Chuck Winder, Idaho Lawmaker, Suggests Women Use Rape As Excuse For Abortions



Daniel Coats (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Mike Pence (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Mike Pence’s war on Planned Parenthood

Eric Turner (R) – Indiana State Legislature
Indiana Bill Would Force Doctors To Tell Women That Having An Abortion May Lead To Breast Cancer


Charles Grassley (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Steve King (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Steve King Worries Free Birth Control Will Make Us A “Dying Civilization”
Rep. Steve King: “Planned Parenthood Is Invested in Promiscuity”


Lance Kizner (R) – Kansas State Legislature
Kansas House votes to Send anti-abortion bill to the Senate

Jerry Moran (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Pat Roberts (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Joe Bowen (R) – Kentucky State Legislature
Anti-Abortion Bill Voted Down in House Committee

Mitch McDonnell (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Rand Paul (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
DC Budget autonomy bill pulled after Rand Paul adds amendments on guns, abortion, unions


David Vitter (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Susan Collins (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.



Scott Brown (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Gail Haines (R) – Michigan State Legislature
Michigan Anti-Abortion Bill, ‘Most Extreme in the Country’, Barrels Through State House

Pete Hoekstra (R) – Candidate for U.S. Senate
Pete Hoekstra On Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: ‘That Thing Is A Nuisance’

Bruce Rendon (R) – Michigan State Legislature
Michigan’s Surprise Anti-Abortion Blitz

Mike Shirley (R) – Michigan State Legislature
Michigan Anti-Abortion Bill, ‘Most Extreme in the Country’, Barrels Through State House

Jim Stamas (R) – Michigan State Legislature
Lawmakers barred from speaking after “vagina” comment



Phil Bryant – (R) Governor
Phil Bryant, Mississippi Governor: Democrats’ ‘One Mission in Life is to Abort Children’

Thad Cochran (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Robert Wicker (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Todd Akin (R) – U.S. House of Representatives, candidate for U.S. Senate
Planned Parenthood funding a final obstacle in shutdown negotiations
Todd Akin, GOP Senate candidate: ‘Legitimate rape’ rarely causes pregnancy

Roy Blunt (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Krayton Kearns (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
TEA Party Legislator: Birth Control is “Death Nail in Coffin of our Republic”

Denny Rehberg (R) – U.S. House of Representatives, candidate for U.S. Senate
Support Tester against Rehberg’s extremism


Mike Johanns (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act


Dean Heller (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Kelly Ayotte (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Christopher Smith (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Chris Smith Redefines Rape



Ann Marie Buerkle (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Buerkle Defends Vote to Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Ruben Diaz (D) – New York State Legislature
New York Democrat Compares Pro-Choice Advocate to Hitler, “Murderers, Assassins, and Criminals”


Richard Burr (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Rick Berg (R) – U.S. House of Representatives, Candidate for U.S. Senate
GOP Senate Candidate Supported Life Sentences For Rape Victims Who Obtain Abortions


Ron Amstutz (R) – Ohio State Legislature
House Republicans move to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Ohio

John Boehner (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Boehner shoots down bipartisan call to vote on Senate’s domestic violence bill

Josh Mandel (R) – State Treasurer, candidate for U.S. Senate
Candidate Questionnaire for Cincinnati Right to Life

Robert Portman (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Kristina Roegner (R) – Ohio State Legislature
House Republicans move to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Ohio

Cliff Rosenberger (R) – Ohio State Legislature
House Republicans move to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Ohio


Thomas Coburn (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

James Inhofe (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.



Bob Casey (D) – U.S. Senate
Casey votes against birth control mandate, Pennsylvania senator breaks with Obama, Democratic Party

Tom Corbett (R) – Governor
Gov. Tom Corbett on pre-abortion ultrasounds: ‘Close your eyes’

Mike Fitzpatrick (R) – U.S. House of Representatives
Mike Fitzpatrick has taken every possible opportunity to vote against reproductive choice

Patrick Toomey (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.



James DeMint (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Lindsey Graham (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Nikki Haley (R) – Governor
Haley claims women ‘don’t care about contraception’


John Thune (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Lamar Alexander (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Bob Corker (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Matthew Hill (R) – Tennessee State Legislature
Tennessee Bill May Expose Identities Of Women Seeking Abortions


John Cornyn (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Rick Perry (R) – Governor
Texas Loses Entire Women’s Health Program Over Planned Parenthood Law


Orrin Hatch (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Mike Lee (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women A
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.



Bob McConnell (R) – Governor
Bob McDonnell, Virginia Governor: ‘War On Women’ Is ‘Political Theater’

William Howell (R) – Virginia State Legislature
VA Speaker And Ex-ALEC Chair Berates Woman — ‘I’m Not Speaking In Little Enough Words For You To Understand’



Glenn Grothman (R) – Wisconsin State Legislature
Wisconsin State Senator Says Women Are Paid Less Because ‘Money Is More Important For Men’

Ron Johnson (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Don Pridemore (R) – Wisconsin State Legislature
Wisconsin GOP Legislators Go After Single Mothers


John Barrasso (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Michael Enzi (R) – U.S. Senate
Voted Against Re-Authorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Voted to block advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Last Updated: 9/4/2012.


The Rules of Engagement

by Jen Chapin

Editor’s Note:  I have had the pleasure of knowing Jen Chapin for some years now, and though she is typically modest about her accomplishments, she carries forward a long family legacy of activism for social justice of various kinds.  I asked her for some thoughts about the current Republican Party and some of the issues we face, and she kindly responded with this.  Please enjoy her lovely music while you read:

My default position is to engage. To wrestle with ideas, to engage, debate, seek common ground, inform and possibly even to inspire. I try to do this in my daily interactions, facebook posts and email exchanges, and especially through my music.

I am also an optimist who assumes the goodness and common sense of most people, and knows that we have evolved as a species to cooperate and seek solutions, more than to make conflicts.

But that fact is that this election season, and the current state of the Republican Party, leaves me unable to engage, at least in their terms. Engaging with this crew, when the opportunity presents itself (most often online, for better or more often for worse) is an exercise in frustration and futility best left alone. I’ve found that even engaging silently in ones head with some of the not-quite-idea, soundbites of the right dampens the intellect and poisons the spirit.

The temptation is to join them in the arena of vitriol and extreme oversimplicity. After all, the GOP’s leadership in lowering the bar and bringing the debate to their current base level is impressive. They get their “ideas” out there efficiently and with highly disciplined repetition. But, at the willing risk of sounding condescending, when the mainstream of a party questions or straight-out denies climate change and evolution, echoes lies as daily habit, offers no new solutions and refuses to even honor basic arithmetic, data, and science, let alone compassion, it is not worth our time to respond.

I miss the old decent informed well-intentioned Republicans. Bob Dole, George Walker Bush, heck, even Ronald Reagan had his relative charms and common sense. I miss my high school debate buddies, who knew their facts and even had some on their side.

But we just can’t follow them there. We need to use our own discipline to revel in the ongoing search for justice and yes, truth. We on the left don’t have all the answers, but use our intellects and our humanity to honest seek them. We look around, and see faces unlike our own, and instead of retreating into familiarity and fear, we embrace the new world while fighting lovingly for that worth protecting of the old. In many ways, we are the true conservatives in the best sense of the word – conserving the natural world, conserving our shared infrastructure and culture through investment and knowledge, conserving and nurturing the grassroots movements for justice that have been the best part of our national identity and forward progress. We need to strengthen and celebrate our solutions so that they are increasingly undeniable. That is our engagement, with life with future and still, with hope.