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W:RUN’s Women of 2012 – Women Who Shaped the Year

If it’s December, it’s time for “year in review” posts and this probably will not be our last round-up but it is one we are pretty excited about. While publications like Time pick just one “Person of the Year”, we see no reason to limit our list of female news-makers of 2012 to just one woman. What we have assembled below is a list of just a few of the women who have inspired us this year. We believe many of them will continue making news, shaping policies, and representing us well, long after 2012 is over.

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Malala Yousafzai recuperating in a UK hospital after the shooting.
Photo credit: NHS

Malala Yousafzai – Until October of this year, schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was best known in the West for the blog she wrote for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule in her home in Mingora, Pakistan. She criticized the Taliban’s policies of denying education to girls, both in the blog and in a later documentary for the New York Times. Then, on October 9, Malala was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban-affiliated gunman as she rode the bus home from school. She survived the attack and is currently recuperating in a British hospital. The Taliban has vowed to repeat their attempt on her life calling her a “symbol of the infidels and obscenity.” Did we mention she is 15?

To the rest of the world, however, Malala Yousafzai has become a symbol of courage and determination, and of the need to demand education opportunities for all children, regardless of gender. UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown declared November 10, 2012 “Malala Day” in support of a UN petition that demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. In addition, Malala has been nominated for a International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and there is a petition for her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. As of the time of this writing, Malala was third in Time Magazine’s online poll for its Person of the Year 2012 distinction.

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Saudi Olympian Sarah Attar waves to the crowd in London before competing in her race.
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

Women of the 2012 Olympics – By the end of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, some in the media might have gotten sidetracked in covering the non-troversy around Gabby Douglas’ hair or the beach volleyball uniforms and missed some legitimately important milestones for women in sports. For the first time in the history of the modern games, every participating nation sent at least one female athlete, an achievement made possible by increased pressure on Saudi Arabia in the final weeks before the Games. For the Saudi women (and women in other countries where the government or religious leaders actively prevent women from participating in sports), participation in the Olympics was politically significant. Sarah Attar, the 19-year old Saudi athlete who ran the 800 meter track event in London, said she hopes her presence will encourage other Saudi women to become more athletic. If that happens, Saudi Arabia may follow a path followed by Western nations, where increased participation by women in sports happens in tandem with advancement in other areas. The Saudi government plans to allow women’s suffrage for the first time, starting in 2015.

For American women, the London Games were a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Title IX, the article of the Higher Education Act that demands equal funding and opportunities in college, including (but not limited to) sports. Nowhere was that more clear than in the makeup of the team. For the first time, female athletes outnumbered males on the team. Performance-wise, the women delivered as well, winning the majority of the gold medals and the majority of the overall medals won by the U.S. team. The best part of all, it happened with billions of people watching.

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The Democratic women of the new Senate gather for a meeting with Senator Mikulski shortly after the election.
Photo credit: Senator Barbara Mikulski. (D-MD)

Women of the 113th Congress – Starting in January 2013, record numbers of female legislators will serve in the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and in state legislatures nationwide. While even these numbers of female lawmakers in the U.s still leaves us embarrassingly low ranked when compared to other nations and are far from gender parity given the U.S. population, it is a definite step in the right direction. (No shoe jokes, please. We’re already have enough on our hands clearing the traffic jam in the Senate ladies room!) Seeing the female candidates we supported break through, especially after the two years of misogynistic legislative Hell that began in 2010, made for an especially sweet election night. Beyond that, though, we view the 2012 election and the class of legislators it produced as something far more important than numbers. It was the logical next step in what should become the “new” normal. Now that there are 20 female United States Senators, and nearly 80 female members of the House, why should we settle for anything less? As recently as 1992, there were only two female U.S. Senators. Starting in January, the entire Congressional delegation from New Hampshire and its governor will be female. More importantly, female lawmakers are gaining power, influence and the ability to lift each other up and build a deep bench of candidates who could someday rise even higher. Why should we wring our hands wondering who will be the “next Hillary Clinton” when we have the power to develop the next TEN Hillary Clintons? Or more? Women are 53 percent of the American electorate! The answer is that we shouldn’t settle. The direction was made clear. We’re moving forward. Is our nation’s first female President a member of the 113th Congress? It’s impossible to know that now but one thing is certain, whoever she is, she will benefit from it.

So, Liz Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Tulsi Gabbard, Tammy Duckworth, Heidi Heitkamp, Kyrsten Sinema, Mazie Hirono and the rest of the Class of 2012, no pressure or anything, but it’s time to get to work.

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Cecile Richards with supporters on the steps of Florida’s capitol.
Photo credit: Planned Parenthood Action

Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood Supporters – The Susan G. Komen Foundation learned a costly lesson this year: Do not mess with Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood. In February of this year, the Komen Foundation, the big kid in the breast cancer funding sandbox, announced that it would stop giving financial support for cancer screenings performed at Planned Parenthood clinics, citing controversy over Planned Parenthood’s (unrelated) reproductive health services. Komen quickly learned that while it may own the pink ribbon logo, Cecile Richards has a pink army and that army was more than willing to go to work for Planned Parenthood. They took to Twitter, Facebook, online forums and the phones, calling their elected officials, signing petitions, and – most embarrassing for Komen – pulling out of its Race for the Cure events and donating that money to Planned Parenthood instead. In just two days following Komen’s funding announcement, Planned Parenthood raised over $3 million for its breast care screening program, more than three times the amount of funding it would have gotten from Komen. But it wasn’t about the money. By that time the backlash against Komen was too much, regional Komen affiliates were speaking out against the decision and at least 26 U.S. Senators had publicly called on Komen to reverse what they called a “politically-motivated” decision. On February 3, just three days after it announced it would pull funding, Komen CEO Nancy Brinker reversed course, and pledged to fund all existing grants to Planned Parenthood and to maintain the group’s eligibility for future grants. The incident proved politically embarrassing to Komen, and some argue that it has yet to fully recover its reputation.

For Richards and Planned Parenthood, the clash proved to be a key test of their political, media and social muscle. They were able to leverage their reputation with women, their social media presence, and their political power to score a victory on the national stage. (Actual quote: “Will Planned Parenthood please give Twitter back?”) Planned Parenthood would spend the rest of 2012 using these lessons  in other funding battles with states and in the November elections. While their battles with states like Arizona and Texas wear on, the numbers from the election don’t lie: the Sunlight Foundation calculated that Planned Parenthood’s PAC got the highest ROI on its campaign spending of any U.S. PAC in the 2012 cycle – with 97% of its spending on races achieving their desired outcomes. Memo to Komen, Cecile Richards and her supporters are wearing the new pink.

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Sandra Fluke unintentionally became the poster girl for the war on women but stepped up the challenge.
Photo credit: MSNBC

Sandra Fluke – Of all the things that we learned in 2011 and 2012 from the war on women, none was more irritating than this: when misogynists are faced with an articulate, educated women who has facts on her side, they will fall back on the time honored tradition of calling her a slut.  Some things never change. As part of W:RUN’s long-standing policy of not referring to certain media blowhards by name, we will not say who actually called Georgetown law-student (and now women’s rights activist) Sandra Fluke a series of derogatory names but you certainly know who it is. It’s not worth the keystrokes to type his name. It almost doesn’t even matter because ever since her Congressional testimony, and especially since her appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, most of the other right-wing media talking heads and even some candidates have piled on with their criticism of Fluke for…for….being someone they really don’t like, we guess. It’s hard to tell exactly what they don’t like about Sandra Fluke except that they think she’s got some nerve talking about birth control out loud like that. In the end, Fluke had the last laugh. Mitt Romney, who famously could not muster the energy to defend her against the worst slurs, lost big in November and took many of Fluke’s harshest critics down with him. And as for He-who-shall-not-be-named? The advertiser exodus from his show following this incident has the stations that carry it reporting heavy losses. And for the record, karma probably doesn’t like being called names either…but you get our drift.

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The 2012 Presidential Debate Moderators.
Photo credit: the New York Times

The Moderators: Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz – After a twenty-year gap, the Commission on Presidential Debates finally selected two women to moderate debates this election cycle: awarding Martha Raddatz the Vice Presidential debate and Candy Crowley the (often maligned) town-hall debate. Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer were given the remaining Presidential debates. Leading up to the debates, former debate moderator Carole Simpson publicly worried that in giving women these “lesser” contests, they might still be marginalized, and others in the chattering classes shared that worry. Then we watched the debates. and gave each other giant estrogen fueled high-gives because – to be frank – Raddatz and Crowley Kicked. Ass.

Raddatz, charged with moderating the Vice Presidential debate between two high energy candidates (and after most observers agreed that Lehrer pretty much lost control of the first Obama/Romney debate) drew high praise. Seated onstage between Biden and Ryan, Raddatz was a calm yet decisive force between two notoriously explosive personalities. She challenged Biden on Benghazi intelligence and demanded “specifics” and “math” from Ryan on his budget. She didn’t always get straight answers but she didn’t back down. While we took issue at her framing her abortion question in religion, we can hardly think of another moderator – male or female – who could have kept order between these two candidates better than Raddatz did.

Crowley, in particular, took heat from the right for fact-checking Romney’s claims on Benghazi but it is often overlooked that she did not handle the President with kid gloves either. She challenged him on unemployment and several times sharpened the audience’s questions about the economy with tougher numbers. In short, she heeded Simpson’s advice and refused to allow herself to be marginalized. Both Raddatz and Crowley did what journalists are supposed to do: lead with the facts. That’s the whole point of giving the roles of debate moderators to journalists in the first place, isn’t it? This year, two extraordinary women got their chance to do it  and they certainly made the most of it.

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Maddow on set, sadly without the glasses.
Photo credit: NBC Universal

Rachel Maddow – In TV news, election night coverage – especially presidential election night coverage – goes to the “A” team. To the undisputed stars of the networks. It’s not a perk, it’s a right. You rise to the top of a given news team and that’s your prize. You get to tell the viewing audience the results of all the races, especially the top one. In 2008, MSNBC gave the honor of reporting that the nation had elected Barack Obama to Keith Olbermann, then its top star. In 2012, it was Rachel Maddow who made the network’s official call that Obama had been re-elected. Maddow, the first openly gay anchor of a prime time news program, readily announces herself as a liberal nerd – something that instantly endears her to the younger demographics that are increasingly hard to reach for cable news networks.

That Maddow is the now MSNBC’s top star says a lot about the network’s plan to reach a generation of Americans who’d rather get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. (Insert your own joke about the hipster glasses here.) To that end, Maddow’s biggest 2012 moment actually came after November 6, when her eloquent summary of the results and “other real stuff” went viral two days after the election. It was nearly impossible to be online without running into versions of the clip on social media, blogs, and even in liberal fundraising emails. It was popping up in our newsfeeds days, even weeks after the election. That clip did exactly what MSNBC is hoping Maddow’s geeky brand of gravitas will do: expand the reach of their news onto different platforms. In a quieter way, Maddow may be able to help  MSNBC do what CBS tried to do with Katie Couric: win with a woman at the wheel.

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Savita Halappanavar, in an undated photo provided by her family.
Photo credit: Irish Times

Savita Halappanavar – Tragically, Savita Halappanavar did not live to see the end of 2012 but her life, and death, may become a watershed moment for the Irish government and its traditionally strong (some say, inextricable) tie to the Roman Catholic Church. Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year old dentist from India who moved to Ireland with her husband. This past October, when 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, she went to a Galway hospital complaining of severe back pain. According to Savita’s husband, the hospital concluded that she was having a miscarriage. Savita’s condition worsened steadily over but when she requested an abortion to end the pregnancy, the hospital allegedly refused, stating that Ireland was “a Catholic country.” Finally, when the fetus’ heartbeat could no longer be detected, doctors removed it but by then Savita had developed septicemia, and she later died. Her death prompted demonstrations throughout Ireland and England, outrage from Indian officials, demands that the Irish government clarify its abortion laws, and most recently, a possible hearing before the European Court of Human Rights.

Given that multiple inquiries are also ongoing in Ireland, it does not seem that the question of whether the hospital bears legal responsibility for Savita Halappanavar’s death will be settled anytime soon. However, the discussion about women’s reproductive freedom that it has sparked in Ireland and in other countries was clearly long overdue. Welcome or not, it now has to happen.

Who else should be on this list? Tell us in the comments here or on our Facebook page.


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This Week In Why We Need to $%!^@*# Vote – October 22nd Edition

Hello again, Voters! It’s 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. We’re getting into the home stretch here and you know what that means: stupid crap comes spilling out of political mouths at double speed. Rest assured, Voters, we’re armed with a bucket, hip waders, and a shovel, ready to sort it all out.

“That dumbass thing you said? It just ain’t so, Joe.” -Everyone Else

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance….There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.” -Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, of Illinois

Another week, another Tea Party favorite showing their complete and total disregard for scientific facts. Walsh, who’s trailing Democrat (and future Chair of the House Committee on Being Awesome) Tammy Duckworth badly in the race for the Illinois 8th, decided to put his foot down on this whole “abortion to save the life of the mother” mumbo jumbo. Perhaps hoping to firm up his pro-life bona fides, Walsh declared on a Chicago television show that he was against abortion “without exception” and then added that science had made those exceptions unnecessary anyway. Then, beginning almost immediately after the program aired, Joe got re-acquainted with his old friend: The Wrath of the Internet. As expected, pro-choice groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood excoriated Walsh for his comments but even more noteworthy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said Walsh’s comments were an example of why politicians need to “get out of our exam rooms.”  Perhaps most embarrassing for Walsh, the National Right to Life Committee – the very people he may have been trying to curry favor with – issued a statement saying that it supports allowing “abortion if it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.” By Friday of this week, Walsh was forced to walk back his comments, though the statement he issued contradicted itself in places and raised questions about whether Walsh even understands his own abortion position.
The Takeaway: Illinois voters, we are aware that there is (sadly) no House Committee on Being Awesome but send Tammy Duckworth to Congress anyway.

“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’ She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.” -Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin, of Missouri

That Todd Akin ever got elected to anything sums up what is wrong with American politics. Democrat Claire McCaskill has opened up an 8 point lead over him according to Rasmussen. We’re hoping that this is one of the last times his name will appear anywhere on this site.
The Takeaway: Missouri voters, Claire McCaskill for Senate.

“Just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so. In fact, much of this legislation is, in many respects, nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may not contribute at all whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.” – Republican Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida

Marco Rubio is not running for re-election this year, so he’s got all the time in the world to take his show on the road manufacturing reasons for Mitt Romney to retroactively oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And Romney now needs some help on that score after bugling a question about it earlier in the campaign and then whipping out the now legendary “binders full of women” answer to a question about the Act earlier this week. Now that he’s finally decided that he opposed the Act, Team Romney dispatched Rubio to trot out that favorite Republican boogie man: greedy trial lawyers. Never mind that this is the same shoddy reason Scott Walker gave for repealing Wisconsin’s Fair Pay law.  Walker did so even though that state’s law allowed women to bring suits in the less costly circuit court system (thereby avoiding high legal costs) and even though statistics showed that the gender wage gap in Wisconsin had started to shrink shortly after the law took effect in 2009.Walker’s never been one to let facts get in the way of politics. Rubio seems to be cut from the same cloth. His comments that laws like Lilly Ledbetter do nothing but help trial lawyers are short-sighted, offensive, and devoid of fact. The real story here is that Rubio’s comments are nothing but an attempt to help the GOP’s standard bearer out of a (ahem) bind over equal pay. Perhaps Rubio would prefer Romney’s solution on equal pay: wasn’t it something about flexible hours so women could get home in time to cook dinner?
The Takeaway: Vote for the team that unconditionally supports VAWA, Equal Pay, and a whole bunch of women’s issues that Mitt Romney is still mulling over, Obama-Biden.

“Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.” -Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican nominee for Vice President.

Yeah. And it was the other guy in the VP debate who was rude. Right.
The Takeaway: Are you kidding us with this? This is how Paul Ryan talks about women behind closed doors, people. Remember that.

“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” – Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for President

It’s a meme, it’s a Twitter account, it’s a Facebook page, by now it may even be a dessert topping. But the most important things to know about Romney’s “binders full of women” debate comment, are as follows:
1. It’s not true. The story has been debunked by several media outlets by now. It’s almost sad. If you haven’t seen any of the debunking stories, follow the link or simply Google “binders full of women.”
2. Even if it were true, the story itself implies that Romney managed to work in business for many, many years and get himself elected governor of a state without having his own list of qualified female candidates to work from. (A point well expanded upon by Dick Polman, a writer for NewsWorks.) What does that say about Romney?
3. It didn’t answer the question about fair pay. That’s probably the least surprising of all.
The Takeaway: There is nothing else to say. Obama/Biden.

See you next week, Voters.


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Debater Hater

by Siobhan Carroll, W:RUN Contributor
Braevehearts blog

Ninety more minutes of extremely dull, choreographed talking points I’ve heard and read a million times already? Can’t wait!

Tonight Barack Obama and Mitt Romney head into round 2 of the Great Debates of 2012. I am an engaged voter who reads information from all sides and prides myself on making informed decisions. In high school I was an award-winning Lincoln-Douglas debater. And no, I was not super cool. What makes you ask that?

Yet I cannot bring myself to watch the debates. Once upon a time they served the venerable function of allowing the public the opportunity to see/hear/read about the candidates in a format that compared and contrasted their views, direct from the horses’ mouths. A hundred years ago it may have been a voter’s only opportunity to do so before the invention and wide use of radio. Hell before the very late 1800s I doubt most Americans even knew what the candidates looked like outside of pencil sketches. Now all we do is talk about widow’s peaks and Eddie Munster. And those delightful workout photos!

But today the magic of technology and the 24 hour news cycle means we are inundated with candidate information constantly. It’s to the point that there are videos of Mitt Romney debating himself on his flip-floppy issues. I think I know what he eats for lunch before he does. We have gone from one extreme to the other- from minimal information about our candidates to too much.

The debates frankly aren’t for people like me who consume media constantly and already have our minds made up. They are for the increasingly rare undecided voter who believes he or she will see something in one of these guys that will sway their vote. It could be anything from a policy statement to a hand gesture that makes this voter feel comfortable with one or the other.

Most importantly, they are increasingly an act of theatre. You only need to skim the memorandum of understanding released yesterday by Time Magazine to see that. The campaigns are less about the candidates themselves and their positions, and more about the carefully constructed narrative surrounding both Obama and Romney. Not long ago debates were meant to pierce the veil and allow the public to see the candidates for who they are*, but now they are just one more slog through rhetoric and even outright lies. The extraordinary mendacity of Romney during the last debate and the media still declaring him the “winner” is one unsettling example of this.

I much prefer to read the post-debate analysis, work through websites like factcheck.org and Washington Post’s fact checker to see who lied and to what extent. It nauseates me that Romney has seen a bump from the first debate, where he lied so hard I thought his eyes would pop out of his head. After the week-long convention extravaganzas, the months of primary campaigning and now the home stretch of the full presidential campaign, I just can’t take anymore. I want the commercials, the donation solicitation emails, the inflammatory comments on news articles to just stop. Maybe we should impose a two-week quiet period right before election day, where we can all meditate on our choices, clear our heads, take a deep breath and exercise our right to vote.

After all, the only thing in this election that isn’t out in the open are the choices I make in the voting booth on November 6th.

*None of this applies to Joe Biden. He is awesome and a national treasure. He is my spirit animal and he can laugh his ass off at Paul Ryan anytime he wants. Malarkey 2016!


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This Week In Why We Need to $%!^@*# Vote – October 15th Edition

Hello again, Voters! It’s 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. It’s been another busy week of debates, obfuscations, bizarre rape comments, fuzzy science and even fuzzier math. How do we keep it all straight? Well, as a wise gentlemen from Delaware once said, “fact matter” – so let’s get down to this week’s facts.

Wisconsin Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake) is the latest GOP lawmaker in trouble over comments on rape.

“What the whole genesis of it was, it was advice to me, telling me, ‘If you’re going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.’ So the way he said it was, ‘Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.'” – Wisconsin State Legislator Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake)

Forcible rape, legitimate rape, now “some girls rape easy?” Even though they ran from Akin, (and now Paul Ryan has run from Rivard) the GOP in this country is setting a clear pattern of adding dubious qualifiers in front of the word rape these days. From this little-known Wisconsin legislator to Akin to VP nominee Paul Ryan, who enthusiastically supported the last year’s attempt to redefine rape. What exactly is the end game here? Fewer abortions that qualify for coverage? Or drastic cultural, legal, and political confusion on the entire concept of rape? Because it sure seems like we’re headed for both.

The Takeaway: Rice Lake, Wisconsin voters can choose Democrat Stephen J. Smith on Election Day. For the rest of us, this is more evidence that we need to pay close attention to the language lawmakers use when referring to rape. Those who choose to qualify the seriousness of this crime with their words and actions must be held accountable.

“I’ve taken a look at both sides of the thing and it seems to me that evolution takes a tremendous amount of faith…To have all of the sudden all the different things that have to be lined up to create something as sophisticated as life, it takes a lot of faith. I don’t see it as even a matter of science because I don’t know that you can prove one or the other.” -Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin, of Missouri

If you’re thinking that we should just rename this feature “This Week in Todd Akin is $%!^@*# Crazy” – don’t think we haven’t considered it. So, this week the guy who came up with magical rape sperm-fighting vaginas is saying that there’s no science behind evolution. The easy response to this is to quip that “any thinking women who listens to the kind that crap Akin spouts would have cause to doubt his participation in evolution” and move on. But we can’t leave it at that because a) the race for Senate between Akin and Democrat Claire McCaskill is still mind-bloggingly tight (WTF, Missouri?) and b) have we mentioned that Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology? It’s long past time that we made the connection between the fact that our nation lags behind the rest of the developed world in science and the fact that we keep electing lawmakers who DON’T. BELIEVE. IN. SCIENCE.
The Takeaway: Missouri voters, Claire McCaskill for Senate. We’ve been over this.
Everyone else, your homework this week is to find out where all of your elected officials stand on science education. Report back on our Facebook page with what you find.

“There was no pregnancy and there was no abortion, I was attempting to use strong language to get her to tell me the truth.” -Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee

We posted about the bizarre recorded conversation between Tennessee Congressman DesJarlais and his patient/mistress in which the avowed pro-life lawmaker pressures her have an abortion. Well, we’d love to know Todd Akin thinks DesJarlais explanation is just a “theory” too because it sure pushes the limits of credulity. The woman, who DesJarlais admits to sleeping with, is now not his mistress. He admits that it’s his voice on the recording telling the woman, “You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” but now he says that the woman was never pregnant. She was never pregnant yet he agreed that he would accompany her Atlanta for the procedure and also berated her for the situation: “Well, I didn’t want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours.” (Gee, now what could that be referring to?) Perhaps Akin will use this debacle as fodder for his “women who aren’t pregnant get abortions” theory.
The Takeaway: Tennessee Voters, Democrat Eric Stewart is a good alternative to DesJarlais. For everyone else, in case this whole thing hasn’t freaked you out enough, Dr. DesJarlais’ current legislative committee assignments include the following:
Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions
Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives
Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending

“[Y]ou go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” -Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for president.

We know that this is going to shock you but Romney’s flat wrong on this. (We hope you were sitting down for that.) Facts matter, and we found these facts from a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health which states that a “[l]ack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths per year in the United States.” Several other studies echo these findings. What’s more, Romney knows he’s wrong on this. The 2006 version of Romney said the following:

“There ought to be enough money to help people get insurance because an insured individual has a better chance of having an excellent medical experience than the one who has not. An insured individual is more likely to go to a primary care physician or a clinic to get evaluated for their conditions and to get early treatment, to get pharmaceutical treatment, as opposed to showing up in the emergency room where the treatment is more expensive and less effective than if they got preventive and primary care.”

What’s the difference between Romney2006 and Romney2012? The newly programmed version has a nationwide conservative base to pander to, versus a statewide liberal-leaning population. He says what they want to hear. His principles, beliefs, and facts are infinitely malleable to fit his audience.
The Takeaway: Facts don’t matter to this Romney. And that’s dangerous. Remember what happened the last time we had a president who wasn’t fond of facts? We’re still cleaning that mess up. We have to let Obama/Biden finish the job.

“We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision.” – Representative Paul Ryan, Republican nominee for Vice President.

Paul Ryan said this during the Vice Presidential debate in answer to this question from moderator Martha Raddatz: “Should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?” If he were being honest and succinct he could have just answered. “Yes.” Because we all know the real answer to that question is really “Yes, you should be really $%!^@*# worried.” It would have been one of the few true things Ryan said in that debate.
The Takeaway: Mitt Romney may trying to dance to the center but he’s made it clear that Ryan and the far right will set the agenda on abortion. Obama/Biden is choice to make to keep having the right to choose.

See you next week, people.

P.S. If you have a quote you think should be included in a future snark-filled edition of “This Week” send it over to womenriseupnow@gmail.com with the subject line: This Week.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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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What to Expect When You’re Expecting Ann Romney

by Siobhan Carroll, Guest Blogger
Braevehearts blog

Ann Romney, candidate spouse and known equestrian.

I was on tap to do a recap of today’s RNC events, but as we know Isaac the liberal hurricane is bearing down on the gulf coast, ready to ruffle helmet hair and ruin delegates’ prime time makeup for miles around Tampa. Therefore, Monday’s events consist of the following:

Monday, August 27, 2012

2:00 p.m.         Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus

Call to Order/Start Debt Clocks

2:10 p.m.         Announcement of Recess

Ten minutes to start the debt clock that will be running outside of a coliseum built with public funds during an event that will cost the republican national committee a couple hundred million dollars. Let’s rename it Hurricane Irony!

So let’s focus a bit on Tuesday – the key speakers of the day are Ann Romney and Chris Christie. This is a fascinating dichotomy- the millionaire housewife and mother, usually demure, always polite vs. New Jersey’s head blowhard. I’m genuinely interested in Ann Romney’s remarks, as I haven’t heard much from her outside of her referring to us as “you people” during her famous tax return comments (right back atcha Anniekins!). It is clear that she is a devoted wife and mother, and Mitt has said he looks to her for advice,  much like Barack does to Michelle. Her speech gives us an opportunity to see what Mitt’s Advisor-in-Chief is really like. Does she rely on their shared Mormon faith for guidance? Does her multiple sclerosis give her a particular empathy for those without healthcare in our country? Does raising five sons mean she takes a keen interest in the education reform?

All signs point to yes, no, and no. She converted to Mormonism to marry Mitt when she was just 20 years old. She was his liaison for federal faith-based initiatives while he was governor of Massachusetts and spear-headed an abstinence based sex education program in the state. It is clear that the Romney’s joint faith is a key not only to their conservative policies but to the political  machinations of the Republican party. Experiences like Ann’s only add to the conservative bona fides of her husband, universal healthcare in Massachusetts be damned.

Now might be a good time for a small but crucial digression. For all the accusations about socialism in the Obama administration, Mormonism is socialistic in nature, much like any organized church. Mormons require their adherents to tithe 10% of their income to the church, which then “redistributes” it primarily to its seat in Salt Lake City and its parishes, known as stakes. What is now known as Deseret Industries and is a thrift store not unlike Goodwill, began as food and clothing pantry for needy Mormons. Many Mormon families contributed their tithe in the form of preserves, canned goods, and clothing, which were then made available to Mormons who came upon hard times. No questions were asked, no payment was accepted; it was the unwritten rule that when you could give back, you did.

Think on that for a moment. From charity born out of the tight-knit Mormon tradition, to today’s discussion of welfare cuts and denial of unemployment benefits- how does that happen? I believe it comes from a bad case of the “Others”. Mormonism has always been considered a fringe religion, despite its nominal Christianity, which would of course breed a sense of being different from the outside world. Some might become insecure with their faith in the face of suspicion from outside, but those who maintained their faith became even more steadfast, more sure of their moral superiority. That’s where I believe we find Mitt and Ann today.

Born of wealth and privilege, they have no sense of what those who are looking to build brighter futures for our families must go through. The costs of education, childcare, gasoline and medical insurance are mere blips to those who think struggling through graduate school means living off the dividends of stock investments made decades earlier by the Governor of Michigan.

Do I think they are sympathetic? Sure. Empathetic? No way. Ann Romney has battled breast cancer and MS. Does she worry about her insurance not covering procedures? My friend had to start a Facebook campaign so her insurance company would continue to cover transfusions that have stonewalled her MS. Highly doubt Mrs. Romney needed to work the phones to get her senator involved in her health issues- after all, she was sleeping with the governor!*

Ann and Mitt’s five boys attended the private Belmont Hill School in Boston. As their father completed Harvard Law and Business schools and moved on to his lucrative career with Bain Capital, it is difficult to see how the Romneys might have given even a cursory glance to the public education system in their hometown, and Mitt’s plan emphasizing school choice over teacher quality and classroom size is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.

We can expect a few sure things from Ann on Tuesday night. Lots of talk about what a good man Mitt is. Some awesome anecdotes that I hope are as inadvertently hilarious as the dog on the car roof story. A touching tale told with perhaps with a single tear streaming down her face about Mitt’s steadfast commitment during her illnesses. The entire speech will be intended to connect- to humanize and make us feel something for Ann and Mitt that we haven’t yet before.

And that’s the problem – we feel something for them already. But they don’t feel a damn thing for us.

*this line is kinda rude. I apologize for it, but only a little bit.