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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.


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RNC Day 3 – Convention Cop

By Deliciously Geek
Guest Blogger and Women’s Historian

So in what could only be called “a tragic failure to refuse” I blindly agreed to be Thursday’s “Convention Cop” for WRUN. No doubt the admins could have found someone a little more passionate, a little more knowledgeable about politics  – but on what should be the biggest night of the convention, with Romney speaking for himself finally, you lovely lot have little old me.

I am not a politician, an activist, or even a partisan – I’m first a feminist and an historian. And what you get in response to tonight’s RNC coverage will no doubt reflect those perspectives.

To begin with, the Reagan-worshipping Gingriches, Newt and the ever-plastic Callista compared Romney’s popularity to the actor-turned-president. This was followed by the inevitable Carter-Obama comparison and how, during each of their terms, neither was able to turn around the government they had been handed- which is probably the most important overlooked fact of the entire rhetoric. Carter inherited his government from Gerald Ford, perhaps the most accidentally-comedic president since Taft; Ford himself had inherited a broken, war-scarred government, and he was inept at worst, unprepared at best. Obama inherited a country which had spent seven years fighting a “war on terror” that it was nowhere near to winning. Not once has anyone given a thought about where the country had come from before Democrats such as Carter, Clinton, and Obama were elected.

Have the Gingriches, and those who are like-minded, completely forgotten the principles of Reaganomics? I suppose I can offer a quick refresher: In 1980, Reagan proposed a phased-in 30% tax cut, the bulk of which would be concentrated in the upper-income brackets. This focus on those who had the most wealth was based on the idea that they would spend more, which would in turn boost the middle-income economy, causing them to spend more and boost the lower-income economy. This supposed “trickle-down theory” was meant to stimulate the entire economy from the top down. The key word here was trickle- that’s all that was left when it finally reached those of the lowest income brackets. Under Reagan, the economy fluctuated wildly, and that paired with trillions in defense spending caused the largest deficit the country had ever seen: the national debt tripled between 1980 and 1988.

…And this is the America the GOP wants to restore? “The decade of greed” is best left to the history and economics books. We are no longer at war with a gas-giant like the Soviet Union. We are no longer trying to quash Communism at every corner. Ladies (and the occasional gentleman), we are only fighting the legacy of those years.

Whew – that got deep. Let’s bring in the comic relief – Mr. Clint Eastwood! Now, I love me some Eastwood – Dirty Harry, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, Any Which Way but Loose – but I’m wondering who thought it would be a good idea to allow him to speak tonight. He might have had a few amusing things to say, but frankly, he just looked ridiculous talking to the empty chair he kept affectionately referring to as “Mr. President.” Get this man a handler – that would make MY day.

Eastwood awkwardly segued to Mark Rubio, the former VP-would be hopeful from Florida. As early as last fall, I even conceded that the smart move would be to choose Rubio as a running mate – he had the melting pot written all over him. The problem, I think, is that Rubio comes from Florida, that state of dangling chad and Jeb Bush. While his ethnic background might have been a boon, his political background and experience might have been more of a hindrance.  So let’s hear him speak about not being chosen, and why we should believe Romney is the man for the mission.

Rubio’s focus seemed to be twofold: you can come from nothing and become something; and our path to economic salvation is by trusting in god. Time for an ethics lesson and an history lesson.

Couched in a number of similar phrases, Rubio said, “[Obama] tells Americans that they’re worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor”. This is a cold, harsh truth of capitalism: one cannot prosper, under capitalist theory, without someone else falling into poverty. In order for a capitalist economy to function properly, there must be always be some small percentage of unemployment, some percentage of the population in abject poverty, in order to keep the cost of commodities (food, land, and even labor itself) down and market prices even. Not a pretty picture if you spend time considering just how much we Americans value our “enlightened capitalist” views.

Now the history lesson:
Rubio eventually claimed that “America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights.” The problem here is that America was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment: there is a natural order to the universe, and as human beings we are granted natural rights which include life, liberty, and property. We have the right to self-government; we have the right to form a government as a way to protect those rights, in order to advance humanity and society as a whole, with the full knowledge that we give up some of our natural rights in order to form said government. Our founding fathers were faithful students of the Enlightenment, not religious men, who wanted nothing more than for the white landed males to find happiness (self-actualization) within a self-administered government. The original motto of our country was E Pluribus Unum – “one from many”- referring to the unifying of the various colonies into one federal unit. There was no mention of god or trust, just the firm assertion that in solidarity there is strength.

Perhaps Rubio could take a pointer from that lesson – his speech was very much about himself, not about what his party could do for this country. He wasn’t priming the audience for Romney. He was promoting himself for 2016.

But because we are still mired in 2012, Romney made his grand entrance like the great white bride making her short-lived but glorious voyage down the aisle. Thankfully, there were no hideously dressed bridesmaids… I take that back. There was this guy.

Romney’s speech was perhaps best summed up when he said “I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country” – he could have stopped there and we would have all come to the same conclusion: Romney is middle of the road. His delivery was clearly rehearsed, perhaps coached by Mr. Cleaver, and it seemed as if applause and laugh tracks were timed appropriately. He predictably emphasized Obama’s shortcomings in the last few years, he managed to say many words with little substance, and he made promises that he will no doubt be unable to keep should he be elected. That is the lot of politicians.

However, the tame, controlled Romney was briefly overcome when he got to the following: “What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.” No one can argue with that – our unemployment rate is uncomfortable at best; middle-aged experienced employees are competing with college-dropouts for retail and entry-level positions at the most base rate of pay. Romney worked himself into a frenzy by the time he got to “by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables” and he topped it off with the icing of Republican cake: “I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.” Freedom of, or freedom from? Romney ended his appearance with a group prayer after the children and grandchildren had been trotted out for public adoration.

This has been called Romney’s “speech of his life” – but not for its content or its promise. This was a speech about his life, about Romney the man, and his obviously passionate views about his family and his values. In anyone else, this might be admirable. In a politician, this can be terrifying – especially in a politician who seems to have studied acting under Hugh Beaumont or Robert Young.  As I watch and listen to Romney speak, I keep thinking he’s playing a politician. He sounds…fake.  Perhaps he really, truly, fundamentally believes what he’s saying, but his delivery comes across like an overblown Will Ferrell role.  And honestly, this shakes my very soul – we put an actor in the White House once. Look at what happened. Look. Carefully.


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John Brunner For Senate… Again!

Part Two of Our Todd Akin Coverage
by My Alternate Universe Teabagger Twin

You know, I’ve had my differences with Sarah Palin in the past.  She thinks we should focus on getting the America-hating Muslim terrorists, I think we should focus on getting the terror-loving Muslim terrorists.  She feels we should be able to hunt wolves from helicopters, I think we should be using prop-planes.  There’s no doubt a gap to be bridged there.  But I’ve got to say, I think she has the right idea when she suggested that one of the Republicans who didn’t manage to defeat Todd Akin in the primaries should totally run as a third party candidate.  Once again, we have a gap here, in that she wants Sarah Steelman and I like John Brunner.  Crazy Sarah, I suspect you just like her because she has the same name as you.  What kind of reason is that to support a candidate for public office? And besides, I need a MAN to tell me what to do with my uterus, because he’s just GOT to know more about how it works than I would.

So let’s have a look at John Brunner, the guy we passed on the first time around.  It’s like the romantic comedy where the girl spends the whole movie chasing the hot football player when the absolute perfect guy for her, the dude that the Democrats have not been spending $2M of their own money to promote, has been right in front of her all along.

Come on, admit it. You would totally shell out to see this movie.

Let’s visit his policy positions and give ourselves a second chance at love:

Big government = grrr.  Check!

Small business = good.  Check!

Taxes = grrr.  Check!

Obamacare = grrr.  Check!

Fetuses = Hooray!  Check!

As a small business owner and former Marine, he possesses two out of the three qualities needed for sainthood in the Republican party.  All he would need to do is change his last name to Reagan.  Middle name would also be acceptable.

And of course, he hates, hates, hates earmarks, and really, who doesn’t?  Even a lot of you worthless, freedom-hating liberals agree with that.

And of course, the most important part is, that he is totally pro-fetus like Todd Akin, but comes without the baggage of actually saying the medieval crap he believes when he’s on TV!  I mean, we all know that you can’t pregnant from rape unless you’re a dirty slut who actually enjoyed it, but you’re not supposed to SAY that on TV!  We can’t afford to have morons like Akin risking the election by making the public aware of what we actually think.  If the twelve remaining “swing voters” in America know that we actually are waging a war on women (and sex, by the way), well.  Can you imagine?  It might actually dissuade a few of them from voting Republican and that could be enough to tip the election, good God!

People, we have a duty here.  We have to ask John Brunner to run as an independent.  Nay, we have to BEG John Brunner to run as an independent.  Those “ivory-tower elites” with their “edjumacation” in the party machinery claim that this would be a disaster because it would split the conservative vote.  But we know better, don’t we, kids?  We know that a true conservative who isn’t stupid enough to actually expose how far back we want to drag women’s rights could be just the person to beat Claire McCaskill and her Obama-loving, freedom-hating, communist-fascist-socialist agenda.  Missouri, and friends all over the country, let’s ask John Brunner to run.  Again. I know, you’re saying, “But he couldn’t beat Todd Akin the first time!” and I’m saying, “Yes, but we didn’t know how effing retarded Todd Akin was back then!”   Come on, people.   That sofa looked nice in the store, but once you get it in the house, it totally doesn’t work with the rug.  We need to return that sofa to the store and get one that doesn’t clash with our décor or expose our true agenda on TV.

Since I know my audience is real conservative, I’m going to clarify:  Todd Akin IS that sofa.  John Brunner is the new sofa.  Akin = sofa.  Sofa = bad.

Brunner for Senate!

http://www.facebook.com/BrunnerForLiberty

@brunnerforMO

Todd Akin – Artist’s conception