Friday, August 31, 2012

The Man From Bloomfield Hills




This is too good not to share. via MoveOn.org

A SNL-esque short mockumentary of Mitt Romney's hardscrabble life.

"During his college days at Stanford, the young Mitt showed his patriotism by protesting the communists, beatniks and other social degenerates who questioned our country's involvement in the war in Viet Nam. Mitt would have fought in the war himself, but sometimes serving your country means staying the hell out of the way. Mitt took his fight to the other Viet Nam - Paris, France - where he stood on the front line of the battle to convert French people to Mormonism..."

"Principle. Duty. Conservative values.  The man from Bloomfield Hills will always have the taste of caviar in his mouth and the smell of freshly opened tennis ball cans in his nostrils. He knows we can make America great again by making all the rich people richer and by saying "Tough cookies" to the haters.
There's something in the air. Just take a walk down the avenues of Bloomfield Hills and - before security asks you to leave - you'll hear it. That's the sound of Mitt Romney's America."

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!





























Good Morning, Humans!

What a pleasant week it has been. Warm weather, sunshine, luxurious naps on the windowsill.

I simply adore the waning days of summer, when the air is soft with fresh, cool bree...

Wait, what?!  The forecast says it will be 99 degrees today?  What?!?

Warm weather, sunshine, luxurious naps. Wake me when it is evening!

I simply adore the waning days of summer.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ann Romney Stumps For CHIC Position - ChillGirl-In-Chief!

Hey girls! Ann Romney is A-OK with the war on women!  But, then, she is rich, protected and post-menopausal.
Unlike you people.

























And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?


It's how it is, girls, so 
take a chill pill and learn
to appreciate subservience!
Ann Romney's speech at the Republican convention on Tuesday night should forever put to rest any ideas anyone had that this is a woman who just doesn't get it. Mrs. Romney gets it all right. She knows exactly how disrespected and disempowered women still are in our society, but she is fine with that. And she wants other women to be fine with it, too. In fact, her speech last night signalled that she expects all of you moms out there (other women need not be considered, being non-existent) to take a chill pill. Patriarchy is. the way. it. is. and if you don't already like it, just follow Ann's lead. She is stumping for ChillGirl-in-Chief. She knows that most women are treated as barely human, but she is going to show us all how to pin on a pretty smile, remind ourselves of our mom-power (which totally is better than actual power) and - whenever the inevitable disrespect and abuse of cultural misogyny is directed our way - how to lie back and enjoy it. Ooh lå lå!  Ann, is trés CHIC!

There are at least two flavors of ChillGirl - I'm thinking of icily-angry and coolly-collected right now - and both flavors feature misogyny with a spicy little drop of misandry. Both of them are unpleasant and both undermine feminist causes, but the recklessly immature individuals who pop up occasionally to hang out with MRAs and sneer at other women are far less dangerous than the disciplined ranks of the second kind of ChillGirls.

The important thing about 
this ChillGirl is that she can 
feel superior to everyone!
First, there is the icily furious misanthropic ChillGirl - the woman who thinks she's achieved independent success simply through her own hard work and initiative. She refuses to acknowledge that her current (though limited) freedom to pursue her own interests is largely thanks to a century of hard work by feminists who paved the way before her. She sees that gender equality is unlikely to be achieved in her lifetime, so she is uninterested in working toward that goal for future girls who matter not a whit to her. What matters is what she can personally get out of a cruelly discriminatory culture, and she feels perfectly justified in throwing other women under the bus to get it: life is unfair, she reasons, so other women had better get used to it. She gleefully slams feminists who work for positive social change while she, ever so cool and chill, hangs out with and entertains misogynist men with ChillGirl stories about how lame and weak other women are. She dresses how she wants, she speaks how she wants, she does what she wants and she intends to get what she wants. She runs with the misogynist guys, because she is cool like that, unlike those pathetic losers who call themselves feminists.

This kind of ChillGirl is an equal-opportunity hater: she is also contemptuous of men, whom she sees also as her inferiors and she is proud that she is slyly laughing at them as she pretends to laugh with them while they disrespect other members of her gender. The coldly angry ChillGirl hates men for believing that she women are less than they are, but she hates women more for what she sees as their weakness and failure to have overcome the cultural oppression of women to make the world a safer, better place for her. She is furious that she has to put up with sexist bullshit when she is clearly smarter and stronger than both men and women, and she hates both genders equally for their part in making life more difficult for her.

It's how it is, isn't it? 
Invisible, dehumanized - a thing
inhabiting the role of "mom"
and it had better be wrapped
 up in a pretty package,  if
it knows what's good for it.
Then, there is the second kind of ChillGirl; conservative, anti-feminist women whose numbers have swelled fantastically with the rise of fundamentalist religiosity in the USA. These are the outwardly calm, coolly-collected, playing-the-patriarchy game ChillGirls. These are the women like CHIC hopeful, Ann Romney.

I am not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there is a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better. You know what, and that's fine. 

This ChillGirl believes - probably correctly - that gender equality will not be achieved in her lifetime, and she assumes - probably incorrectly - that gender equality will never be achieved. Not in her lifetime, not in her daughters' lifetimes, nor in her granddaughters' lifetimes either. But, you know what? That's fine. Fighting for equal rights is hard and there is no personal payoff likely. Going along to get along is easier. And much more rational. Why fight for a better future that she will never get to enjoy? Why fight to change things for the better for all women, when she can play the game, master the system and quietly enjoy all of the personal comfort and security - and yes, a measure of power, though derived from the men in her life, and only enjoyed at their pleasure (but she thinks she knows how to manipulate them, the sly minx!) - that her good, Christian heart desires?

The calm, cool ChillGirl may or may not have had a brief period of believing that she could pursue hopes and dreams like the boys all around her before she grew up and learned "the truth". She may or may not have briefly resisted the vicious misogyny of our patriarchal culture and tried to pursue those dreams, until the constant, exhausting, emotionally-draining effort of dealing with daily attacks simply wore her down. She may or may not have experienced the soul-killing realization that although she knows she is equal, though she knows she has talents, abilities, even brilliance to offer the world, she will be forever less than men in society and may never be allowed the chance to develop those abilities, especially if she is ugly, poor, or not white.

Whatever her earlier hopes and dreams may have been, the coolly collected ChillGirl is a pragmatist. She has figured out a winning strategy: accept the humiliation of degradation and undeserved inferior status, lie to the men in your life about how much you admire and respect them and only want to defer to them, keep yourself attractive because that is your only stock in trade - and in return, enjoy some measure of comfort and security - as long as you are pleasing to your man. You know that even that paltry benefit for selling yourself short is denied to nearly all poor women and many women of color and even to any white, middle-class woman who will not bow to patriarchy, so read the writing on the wall and get yours - whatever it takes! To be a coolly collected ChillGirl - to have a choice between suffering the indignities and deprivations of a misogynist culture publicly and daily, or suffering the indignities and deprivations privately while outwardly enjoying a comfortable life -  is a luxury reserved for a select minority of women. And, you know what? Ann says that's a good enough choice for women. She's so CHIC!

Listen to Ann, ladies: It's how it is...

Don't try to change society; that is too exhausting. More important, it just isn't smart. Fighting against misogyny can be dangerous. Challenging the status quo will make men - and women like Ann who benefit from pleasing men - very angry and cause social discord. Do you want to be responsible for causing a gender war? If you do that, don't say you were never warned; any harm that comes your way will be totally your own fault. Demanding to be treated as a respected, adult human being can get you harassed, attacked and even raped and it definitely reduces your chances of finding a rich husband. Amirite, fellas?

Let's face it: patriarchy isn't going anywhere - not while so many are committed to preserving it. But women can use patriarchy, too! You just need to learn to play the game. Forget about your intellectual needs: channel that energy into your children and home! Forget about your emotional needs - how can you be so selfish when there are men and children who need you to look after their needs? Forget about your physical well-being and autonomy: you possess a uterus and you are the property of men until it can no longer be used for its god-given purpose. Every woman is on her own unless she accepts that this is how it is. Got that, gals? Either you join the congregation with outward enthusiasm, or you will be ejected from the congregation and then the devil take you. You can't beat this system, so you may as well join it. And you know what? Ann says it will be fine!

It makes perfect sense to keep the
 "smarter" people in domestic servitude!
Amirite, ladies?
There are compensations for utterly denying your own humanity and that of your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. There will be rewards in heaven. Invisible, intellectually-unverifiable afterlife rewards for invisible, intellectually-erased living women - what perfect symmetry! While men naturally should enjoy rewards both while living and after death, women suffer now to be rewarded later because we are smarter than those goofy men. Amirite ladies? This nonsensical little crumb is thrown out to traditional women everywhere: being "smarter", yet subservient, is obviously way better and far more satisfying than actual status, respect or personal power. Can I get an "Amen", sisters?

Just look! Even the most powerful men out there listening to Ann's speech chuckle tolerantly and cheerfully agree. Everyone agrees that women are the truly smart ones - even our men will let us say so! That is totes not an empty bubble of "feel good" blown to obscure our view of the blackhole of self-denial that all of us ChillGirls must force ourselves down. Sure, any society that truly believed that one gender is "smarter" would rationally have that group well-represented in every avenue of power in the culture, not marginalized, diminished and condemned to a lifetime of domestic servitude, but thinking like that would be just looking for reasons to attack traditional values. Ann coyly points out that women are the smart ones, Republican men tolerantly let her say it as long as they can still control women, and everyone is happy. It's how it is, isn't it? And you know what? That's fine.

Ann has it all figured out: Moms, revel in your subordination! (other women don't exist) Learn to love the uncertainty and insecurity of living a life entirely dependent on whether a man continues to think keeping you around to cook, clean and raise his children is worth his time and pocketbook, because that is what the future of women under Republican rule will be. It's just how it is! Why fight what is biologically, culturally and Biblically mandated?  Sure, humankind could be better than that, but why should we be? This is working - for the wealthy, the protected, the godly and the wise...

The only role for women in a
Republican USA:  Mom
Ann's stump speech was apparently directed only at mothers married to men of means, since nearly everything she said is far outside the experience of poor women, single mothers, women of color or any other women who are not white, Christian, middle-class mothers married to men. The unspoken message was clear though: You people who are not wealthy and protected are clearly not godly or wise so you deserve all the trouble you get. Ann tells it like it is!  They don't come any more CHIC than that!

FYI, Amanda Marcotte summed the speech up nicely:

"Last night the RNC made its appeal to female voters, and Ann Romney's speech really was an exemplar of the form, putting a sorority girl grin on a description of women's lives that, stripped of sentimentality, reads like a laundry list of the daily injustices women face for no other reason than being women...In sum, she offered up a description of what feminists call "systemic sexism," a list of the very injustices feminists have worked, with some success, to eliminate. "

And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?

"So how does Ann Romney get away with this? Because she framed it not as a problem to be fixed, but a trial that women have to endure. She put a positive spin on it, claiming that these extra struggles make us women extra good. Instead of demanding equality, she encouraged her female audience instead to take their payment in martyrdom."  Amanda Marcotte, Ann Romney Acknowledges, Embraces Sexism, Slate.com.


One question, Ann. If the Republicans succeed in gaining control of the country, which Christian sect gets to rule?



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Defend Your Right To Vote!

Republican voter suppression tactics are working.  (via maddowblog (msnbc)



























Wait!  Don't skip this post because you've been registered to vote forever and are pretty sure it doesn't apply to you. Even if you think you are registered to vote. Even if you have been voting for decades, please take a moment to ensure that you are, in fact, still registered to vote, and that you are sure of where your polling place will be. Many polling places have been changed this year, and the communication with the public has been spotty at best and deliberately bad at worst.

Recent news about Republican attempts to suppress the vote highlights just how important it is for citizens to pay attention to what those in power are doing.  Voter suppression has become the most egregious of the tactics in a campaign pockmarked with slimy pits of lies, disinformation and outright intimidation.

It is not just imperative that Americans "get out the vote" this year, but it is now necessary to ensure that citizens' legal right to vote is protected from a campaign to disenfranchise even longtime voters with no reason to think their voter registration would be problematic. Seniors, disabled citizens who do not and cannot have a driver's license, and millions of poor working Americans - for whom acquiring the notarized documentation, filling out the legal paperwork, paying fees and taking time away from their jobs to file for government IDs present insurmountable hurdles - all face potential disenfranchisement in the upcoming election.

Republicans continue to argue disingenuously that they are protecting voter rights by placing more and more roadblocks in the way of the poor, the elderly and the disabled because, they claim, they are protecting us all from potential voter fraud. Repeated studies and investigations into voter fraud have proven that it is exceedingly rare, and that the threat that potential voter fraud poses to the electoral process is minimal. Conversely, the potential for harm to the democratic process resulting from voter suppression practices is very high. In third world countries, American observers stand by to ensure that evidence of voter intimidation and suppression can be recorded and publicized. Who is watching out for the same thing in the USA?



This is a democratic Republic and it is the right and the duty of citizens to protect our own rights and freedoms. Knowledge is power, but action is even more powerful. Let's start paying attention, spreading the word, and mobilizing our fellow citizens to hold our government representatives accountable when they overstep the bounds and try to impede our right to vote.

First stop: knowledge.  To wit:

ACLU on voter suppression:

"During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."

Rolling Stone   Ari Berman's excellent article on Florida's purge of voter rolls to suppress Democratic vote:

"Imagine this: a Republican governor in a crucial battleground state instructs his secretary of state to purge the voting rolls of hundreds of thousands of allegedly ineligible voters. The move disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters, who happen to be overwhelmingly black and Hispanic Democrats. The number of voters prevented from casting a ballot exceeds the margin of victory in the razor-thin election, which ends up determining the next President of the United States.

If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it happened in Florida in 2000. And twelve years later, just months before another presidential election, history is repeating itself."

CBS  Lucy Madison reports of mass mailings and robo-calls falsely telling voters that they should not or could not vote in the June 5 Wisconsin recall election.

"(CBS News) As voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports out of the state suggest that robocalls are being placed informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition.

There have also been reports of mailings going out to voters telling them they can't vote unless they did so in 2010, and of people going door-to-door telling voters they don't have to go to the polls if they signed the recall petition, both of which are also untrue."

Raw Story offers a disturbing national roundup of stories from numerous states whose Republican governments are pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise voters. One excerpt (from LAWeekly):

"In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.

It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters — largely nonwhite — could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:

'State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws that could make it significantly harder for as many as 5 million eligible Americans to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting'. "

Don't be caught off guard by voter suppression tactics. Go online and be sure that your voter registration is secure and that you will not be disenfranchised this November.  Here are some handy links to information and resources:

FAQs About Voting, Smart Voter (League of Women Voters).

USA Gov. page on voting information, including a link to voter registration deadlines by state and easy-to-navigate information links to answers for frequently asked questions about voting, registration, voting from overseas, working on elections and trouble-shooting.

USA Gov Resources for voters

Brennan Center of Justice Election 2012, information for voters and resources for assistance with barriers to your right to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

NEW!  Polling Place Finder

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.

Here is a 2008 video about voter suppression tactics which is depressingly prescient - it is a brief but thorough overview of the methods and traps used to suppress the legitimate right of American citizens to vote. Please watch and share:


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - Do You Believe in Me?



Your Tuesday Tonic - This is one of the best things you may see all week. It is 8 minutes of awesome.

Dalton Sherman, from Charles Rice Learning Center in Dallas, speaks at the opening convocation in front of thousands of Dallas teachers, and he brings down the house.

"We need you to know that what you're doing is the most important job in the city today...Do you believe in me? Because I believe in me and you helped me get to where I am today. Thank you. Thank you."

via bergmandi, September, 2008.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!




Good Morning, Everybody!

It is a beautiful late summer day and I have been enjoying my morning walk.

I like to run and jump and play. I like to sniff the flowers.

In the mornings, I can run, jump, play and sniff the flowers!

I can sit nicely for a picture, too!

It is a beautiful day and I am enjoying myself!

Isn't that just Ducky!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Man-Made Gods



(via CobourgJD)

Jane Caro knocks it out of the ballpark with this feisty, brief rebuttal of the premise "Atheists are wrong".  Debate hosted by Intelligence Squared Australia, September 6, 2011.

Only 9 minutes of sheer excellence. Watch it!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!





























Good Evening, Humans.

My human is trying to lure me off my throne, but I am content and she will not succeed.

Ah, that little farce you played with my catnip.

You think that would fool Freya?

I am content on my throne - next to my human.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Can't A Woman...Be More Like A Man?

Good question, Professor!





















Individual freedom and the right to bodily autonomy - the principles behind our understanding of consent - were the principles upon which many of us assume the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade decision was based, although the case itself was focused on a citizen's right to privacy around making decisions concerning her bodily autonomy and medical care.  Laws which deny a woman the right to bodily autonomy - including laws that deny a woman the right to control what happens to her own body in favor of giving any potential fetus the "right" to use her body against her will or without her consent - are an unconstitutional denial of individual freedom because they relegate a woman to a legal status that is less than human. The legal precedent that a woman actually has the right to consent to the risks and responsibilities of pregnancy, and an equal right to decline consent to those risks and responsibilities was thought to be finally established by Roe v Wade. But since it was argued as a case for privacy, Roe v Wade has never been a guarantee of women's reproductive rights. It has always been vulnerable to attack, either through court challenges or through legislation which has chipped away at it.

One way or another, the
Republican Party will find
a way to control those sluts!
From the moment Roe v Wade was decided, the religious right began working to overturn it. Outraged that women had at last been granted the right to choose if and when to be pregnant -  a right which conflicted with the patriarchal order which demands that men have complete authority over women - the "moral majority" began a campaign of slut-shaming, raising the specter- never far beneath the surface in any misogynist culture - that uncontrolled women would engage in wildly promiscuous and "irresponsible" sex and darkly warning that the new law would bring about the downfall of American civil society  However, when this tactic initially only gained traction within the most conservative and misogynistic segments of society, conservatives realized that the problem was that a majority of Americans in the late 1970's actually respected a woman's right to choose - and that most Americans believed that the consensual sexual activity of women was no more society's business than the consensual sexual activity of men. Conservatives began to cast around for a way to undermine that public perception that women should be entitled to civil rights equal to men.

Religious conservatives soon zeroed in on "consent" as a potentially malleable concept that they might be able to use to drive a wedge between women and their human rights, thereby setting the stage to put women back in their traditional place.  In order to overcome the legal issue of consent, religious and political conservatives began working tirelessly - using tactics including slut-shaming, inserting abstinence-only purity campaigns into public schools, and falsely equating microscopic blastocysts with full term babies - to entrench the notion that recreational sex involving the conscious avoidance of pregnancy is shameful and that only marital sex which welcomes the prospect of conception should be recognized and supported by society. Their aim was to increase public acceptance of explicitly Christian sexual mores in order to garner voter support for their social agenda. The ultimate goal was to get this explicitly Christian theology enshrined into law: that whenever a woman has consented to sex, she has automatically consented to pregnancy, too.
That's right, ladies, when you consent to sex, you consent to
pregnancy. And when you don't consent to sex, you
consent to pregnancy, too! You and your uteri are in a perpetual
state of consent to pregnancy! Ain't patriarchy grand?

Eventually, extreme conservatives began to worry that exceptions for rape and incest could possibly become a loophole through which some lying women could escape unwanted pregnancy, leading to the push for the elimination of exceptions for rape and incest as legal justifications for abortion. Building on the false premise that a conceptus is equal to a full-term baby, conservatives argued that a fertilized egg, no matter how it came into existence, is an innocent life deserving of protection. Completely ignoring the question of whether a woman who has been raped is deserving of society's protection and adroitly sidestepping Roe v Wade, forced-birth groups wrote bills denying abortion rights to women even in the case of rape or incest which their political arm, the Republican party, sponsored in state legislatures. In one giant leap of cruel imagination, conservatives managed to establish as a serious idea that even when a woman does not consent to sex, her consent to pregnancy should be automatic in the eyes of the law.

Lest there be any doubt about the intentions of the religious conservatives and their hired guns in the state and federal legislatures to render the legal notion of female consent completely irrelevant and completely powerless, forced-birth organizations created "personhood bills" which they instructed their Republican lackeys to sponsor and pass in various states. "Personhood" bills, if signed into law, would confer the full rights of a "person" - a deliberately vague term, but generally considered to be equal to a live-born child - to all fertilized ova. Such laws would criminalize most forms of female-controlled contraception, emergency contraception, assisted reproduction and, of course, all abortions. They would also open the door to state-sponsored invasion of women's privacy and health care rights since legally protected "persons" could potentially be "murdered" before a conception is discovered to have taken place. Furthermore, such laws would criminalize anyone who attempted to help a woman abort the conceptus "person" either by performing a surgical procedure, providing medical abortifacents, or driving a woman across state lines to obtain an abortion in a non-"Personhood" state.
Got that, gals?

"Personhood" laws are the holy grail of the forced-birth movement and the ultimate goal of religious conservatives. If passed, such laws would strip women of all bodily autonomy in matters of reproduction. Women would be denied effective female-controlled birth control, they would be denied emergency birth control if their partner's birth control fails or he refuses to use it and they would be denied abortions - even if they are impregnated by rape and even if their health or lives are endangered by a pregnancy. In short, thanks to the twisted culture of "life" pushed so ruthlessly onto them by religious conservatives, a woman would be compelled to sacrifice her happiness, risk her health and even lose her life because a single-celled conceptus has been granted a right to occupy her body which supersedes all of her rights including her humanity, her dignity and her right to life.

In essence, the goal of "personhood" laws is to elevate a cluster of cells to the full status of a man - and actually even to exceed that status because in no other situation can one person's needs compel another person to give up bodily autonomy, physical resources, health and safety (no American citizen is compelled to give so little as a pint of blood for another person, even if a life depends on it) - while reducing a pregnant woman to the status of a gestational vessel whose human rights have been totally subjugated for the purpose of reproduction, whether she has chosen to reproduce or not. These laws do not recognize "equally competing rights" of human beings who have equal status before the law. The woman's rights are erased while the blastocyst's "rights" become supreme.

Keep that contraception out
of those sluts' hands!
The Republican Party, which has degenerated to little more than the political arm of the conservative religious right, has been striving relentlessly to ensure that women will be legally forced to bear all of the negative physical, social and most of the financial repercussions for any unplanned pregnancy, while the churches themselves underline and enforce the subordinate and inferior position of women in the culture. Through tireless efforts to withhold access to contraception from women, the religious right ensures that reproductive control remains primarily in the hands of men. Thanks to ideologically-driven appointments to the FDA and the business interests of both drug companies and the medical establishment, only male-controlled methods of reliable contraception are available without a prescription, forcing women to navigate (and pay for) "care" from layers of medical and pharmacy gatekeepers before they are permitted to obtain reliable female-controlled contraception.

Religious patriarchy allows society to label unplanned pregnancy a "women's issue" in spite of the fact that it takes both a man and a woman - both failing to use effective contraception - to create an unplanned pregnancy. The fact that society allows unplanned pregnancy to be framed as a women's issue reveals the depth of the unconscious misogyny which lays the responsibility for - and the consequences of - an unplanned pregnancy squarely in the woman's lap, while little thought - and almost no censure - is directed toward the "guilt", the "promiscuity" or the "irresponsibility" of the man involved.

You know the old joke about keeping 
women barefoot and pregnant?
Not so funny anymore.
More insidiously, when pregnancy and the laws restricting women's rights over when and if they will become pregnant is framed as a women's issue, conservatives ensure that half the population at least may ignore the very real danger to women's health and safety. Few men pay attention when women's rights are being stripped away because the phrase "women's issue" is unconsciously received as a signal that the subject is unimportant and less than men's other concerns. Even men who love the women in their lives are lulled into a false sense of "nothing to worry about" as their wives, their sisters and their daughters are slowly but surely reduced to the legal status of walking wombs compelled under threat of criminal prosecution to gestate the offspring of any man who succeeds in impregnating them - whether by mutual and loving consent, by accidental failure of birth control or by force.

In this way, the religious patriarchy ensures both that women cannot control their own reproduction completely (since women - even abstinent women - can be, and often are, the victims of forced impregnation) and that no man - not even a rapist - must accept the decision of a mere woman on the question of whether or not he can use her body to reproduce. That is because the "right to life" of a conceptus is, in fact, really just an extension of men's rights. A conceptus is always some man's potential offspring, and at its core, religious teaching is all about enshrining the right of every man to reproduce. If women are allowed the freedom to choose, some men would almost certainly have difficulty finding a willing mate with whom to procreate. Religions which enforce the authority of men over women and which restrict the freedom and choices of women therefore speak to the root of cultural misogyny - men's fear of the potential power of women to control their (men's) ability to reproduce. "Right to life" is actually the trojan horse by which male rights over women are being inserted directly into women's uteri. That's right, ladies. It's a great big Biblically-condoned 'fuck you'!

Make no mistake. God's Own Party is
determined to restore Christian patriarchy
at the cost of women's human rights.
While religions pay lip service to condemning male brutality, merely offering verbal assurances on how a "godly man" ought to behave (while doing nothing to ensure that he does so, and even less to punish him if he does not, thus making aggressive or coercive male behavior toward women virtually riskfree for men), they strenuously resist efforts to enact laws which could increase rape prosecutions or extend protections for women against sexual assault, citing concerns about - you can guess - men's rights. This is apparent in the narrowing definition of rape - and the continuing insistence by men that women lie, women falsely accuse of rape and most of all that many, if not most, rapes are not really rape at all.

The ultimate social priority for religion is to assert and enforce the patriarchal ideal of total authority of men over women, and to that end, religious conservatives - and their men in government - are willing to grant even rapists and abusers privileges over women, to safeguard the authority of "godly" men. In short, in order to protect the privilege of all men, themselves included of course, even "godly" men who profess to abhor rape willingly award rapists and abusers the right to reproduce using women's bodies against their will. As always, there is no thought spared for the humanity of the women who would be sacrificed to this Christian ideology. If they are mentioned at all, involuntarily pregnant women's physical and emotional violation is dismissed as a "blessing": a "gift from God".

Restrictive "purity" codes for girls 
- demanding that they bear the 
responsibility for men's sexual urges 
- is already a real thing in the
 conservative Christian world - 
This is shockingly similar to
  Islamic sharia dress codes.
In the Republican vision of the future - as in the past it idealizes - "freedom" and "rights" will only fully belong to men and to the potential offspring of men, while women will be, at best, reduced once again to second-class citizenship, and, at worst, returned to sexual and reproductive slavery. Political, financial and social oppression of women, reproductive slavery and viciously misogynistic church-mandated rules of correct behavior and dress (for women only) are the unceasing reality for millions of women in theocracies around the world.  All of these forms of oppression of women are rooted in the desire of these conservative societies to control the sexuality and reproductive freedom of their women. Almost without exception, societies based upon religious laws which both deny women fully human status and hold them accountable for the sexual activity of both genders strictly limit female freedom and impose exaggerated requirements for modest dress on their women and girls.  If a Christian theocracy is successfully installed by conservatives in the United States, ever-deepening oppression will become the inevitable future for women and girls here.

Religious conservatives want Roe v Wade overturned because they oppose the principles of individual freedom and the right to bodily autonomy for women upon which the decision was based.  That denial of those rights would relegate women to less than human status is exactly the point. Second-class status for women would be a feature, not a bug, for Christian conservatives since the Bible commands that women are not equal but subordinate to men. Bible-based religion asserts that man is the original human and woman, taken from man, is less than human. This is the reality of Bible-based governance. It seems like a nightmare from the dark ages, or some dystopian futuristic novel, but this is really happening right now in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Al Stefanelli's post on this subject is a must-read.  And please watch this brief, powerful video and share it with everyone you know. This is not just a possible vision of future life for women in the USA - it will be the inevitable outcome of a Bible-based US government. Women's civil rights, our freedom, our dignity and our humanity are literally on the line.



via newleftmedia

Your Country Needs You - Register and VOTE!

Safeguarding our democratic republic from religious extremism is a family value.


(Reposting a Nifty PSA. Links to voter registration information at bottom of post.)

"In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered." (RegistertoVote.org)

Let's do the math: There are more than 300 million citizens of the United States. 30% of 300,000,000 is 90 million people.  Even if only half of those people are over 18 years old and eligible to vote, there would be 45 million eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote.

Among the 70% of eligible citizens who have registered to vote, the number who actually do vote is shockingly low. The per centage of actual voters by age cohort ranges from less than 30% for registered 18-29 year olds, to a high of just over 60% for 60-69 year olds.  There is not a single age cohort from age 18-49 years old which has a voting record of more than 40%.

Why is it that in a nation that fought a historic battle for independence - not to mention the right to representative self-government - so few of the people today actually exercise that right by voting? In a world where self-government and constitutionally-guaranteed individual freedoms are a rare and precious commodity, it beggars belief that people who have it do not appear to cherish it and fail to guard it vigilantly. The assumption seems to be that gains once made can never be lost. But history teaches another, grimmer, lesson.

"...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

There is a lot of talk right now about a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy and influential people pouring billions into the upcoming election in order to ensure an outcome which will suit their own interests and not those of the people of the United States. In a democratic Republic, the idea that wealthy or religious elites could rise to such power and influence that they could establish a de facto feudal economic system and authoritarian theocracy - almost exactly the conditions over which this country fought the War of Independence - could only be possible if a majority of the people allow it to happen, through ignorance,through apathy,through intimidation.

But the American people are made of sterner stuff than that.

Don't just stand there...do it!
When all eligible voters in the country performed their civic duty at every election, and when all eligible voters made it their business to stay informed about the issues that face the nation, then it becomes far more difficult for any one group, no matter how well-organized and determined, to seize control of the government.

Make sure you are registered to vote. Don't assume that you are registered. During the primaries, thousands of people were shocked to discover that their names had been stricken from the voter lists without their knowledge. Florida has purged nearly 200,000 names from its voter list, including seniors and veterans. Pennsylvania is preparing to deny voting rights to nearly 10% of its eligible citizens.

Voter suppression threatens our Republic, but there are still enough voters to put a stop to it, if only every citizen who can vote, does so. There are as many eligible voters who do not vote as there are who do -more, in fact. Voter turnout could potentially be double what it has historically been. The current voter suppression tactics - ambitious though they undeniably are - would not disenfranchise enough people to overcome the will of the people if only the majority would take a stand, register now and vote in November.

Your vote counts. It really is that important.

Remind your friends and family to be sure to register and be sure to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.

Protect civil society and freedom from religious oppression for your children and grandchildren

Dinosaurs!






Lyrics:

[Dr. Alice Roberts]
How can we start to come close to animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago?

Dinosaurs
[Jack Horner]
Dinosaurs
[Bill Nye]
Dinosaurs
Di-Di-Dinosaurs

[Dallas Campbell]
Dinosaurs weren't just giant lizards
But a truly unique kind of reptile

[Narrator 1]
Dinosaurs roamed
For more than 150 million years
Dinosaurs roamed
In amazing shapes and sizes

Very few left evidence of their existence
And those bones never cease to fascinate us

[Roberts]
The more we find
The more complete our understanding
Utterly awe-inspiring
The world of the dinosaurs

[Campbell]
There are always new discoveries out there
Waiting to be found

[Narrator 2]
Tyrannosaurus, the largest flesh eater
The world has ever seen
Dinosaurs - all the dinosaurs-
Followed a well trod trail to oblivion

[Narrator 1]
Rock layers span the age of dinosaurs
The deeper the layer, the older the rock

At the top - rock from the Cretaceous
Below that, the Jurassic
And near the bottom, red Triassic badlands
When dinosaurs first appeared

(refrain)

(dino breakdown)

[Nye]
65 million years ago
[Nigel Marvin]
A meteorite smashed into the Earth
[Nye]
Hurtling toward our planet
At a hundred thousand kilometers a second
**correction: per hour, not second!

[Roberts]
If we'd never found their bones,
We wouldn't ever have known
These ancient animals ever existed

(refrain)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sneak Preview IPhone 5!



via Pharyngula

Quote FTW:

"The Iphone 5 is a game-changer...within minutes I had friends telling me how much fun I was having!"


Monday, August 20, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!


























Hello, hello!

My Human has gone on a trip, and I am with a puppysitter.

I miss my Human, but I am very happy here. I have a stick!

Nom nom crunch crunch nom nom nom.

My Human is away, but I am happy until she returns.

Isn't that just Ducky!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!








Good day, Humans.

It is finally cooling down.

I feel frisky and happy.

It was a long, hot, dry summer, but at last there is a hint of autumn in the air.

It is cooling down at last, and I feel frisky!

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ThorsdayTonics - This Remarkable Thing




Yet another achingly beautiful video about the awesome possibilities in the universe by Philhellenes.  A dose of tonic for the human spirit on a Tuesday morning. Soak it in and be recharged!

Because I am still on family vacation, I'm going to link to several excellent blog posts and articles this morning. These writers have said what I have been thinking about this week, but generally much better!

First, it looks like the ironically-named Illinois Family Institute is targeting Hemant Mehta again for some of its weapons grade bigotry and stupidity. IFI's Laurie Higgins seems to have a particular agenda of hatred against Hemant which she made very personal and very political a couple of years ago when she tried to use her influence to get him fired from his job as a high school math teacher because he is an atheist. Now, Higgins and her execrable organization are back to their campaign of hateful bigotry, urging parents to attack school teachers directly if they attempt to make their classrooms safe places for GLBTQ kids, because individual teachers make a much softer target than state and federal laws.

IFI issues ridiculous back-to-school warnings. Friendly Atheist, August 7, 2012

IFI is upset that people are mocking them. Friendly Atheist, August 9, 2012.

Not to be outdone by a mere state "family" association, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer likens children to same-sex couples to slaves who ought to be kidnapped and removed from the protection of their families by "underground railroads" of Christian haters.  Seriously.

Bryan FIscher: Children of Same-Sex Couples Must Be Saved Through "Underground Railroad" Kidnapping Zack Ford, ThinkProgress, August 8, 2012.

This next story opens up the very real possibility that not only has Mitt Romney avoided paying his fair share of taxes for many years, but that he may also have participated in tax avoidance activities on a corporate level that could not only affect his candidacy, but could actually land him in legal hot water:

Did Romney Enable Company's Abusive Tax Shelter? Peter C. Canellos and Edward D. Kleinbard, CNN special report, August 8, 2012.

Follow up on the LCWR Nuns on the Bus post:  We're With You Sisters. NBCnews.com, August 9,2012.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Registered To Vote? Be Sure!


























Wait!  Don't skip this post because you've been registered to vote forever and are pretty sure it doesn't apply to you. Even if you think you are registered to vote. Even if you have been voting for decades, please take a moment to ensure that you are, in fact, still registered to vote.

Recent news about Republican attempts to suppress the vote highlights just how important it is for citizens to pay attention to what those in power are doing.  Voter suppression has become the most egregious of the tactics in a campaign pockmarked with slimy pits of lies, disinformation and outright intimidation.

It is not just imperative that Americans "get out the vote" this year, but it is now necessary to ensure that citizens' legal right to vote is protected from a campaign to disenfranchise even longtime voters with no reason to think their voter registration would be problematic. Seniors, disabled citizens who do not and cannot have a driver's license, and millions of poor working Americans - for whom acquiring the notarized documentation, filling out the legal paperwork, paying fees and taking time away from their jobs to file for government IDs present insurmountable hurdles - all face potential disenfranchisement in the upcoming election.

Republicans continue to argue disingenuously that they are protecting voter rights by placing more and more roadblocks in the way of the poor, the elderly and the disabled because, they claim, they are protecting us all from potential voter fraud. Repeated studies and investigations into voter fraud have proven that it is exceedingly rare, and that the threat that potential voter fraud poses to the electoral process is minimal. Conversely, the potential for harm to the democratic process resulting from voter suppression practices is very high. In third world countries, American observers stand by to ensure that evidence of voter intimidation and suppression can be recorded and publicized. Who is watching out for the same thing in the USA?

This is a democratic Republic and it is the right and the duty of citizens to protect our own rights and freedoms. Knowledge is power, but action is even more powerful. Let's start paying attention, spreading the word, and mobilizing our fellow citizens to hold our government representatives accountable when they overstep the bounds and try to impede our right to vote.

First stop: knowledge.  To wit:

ACLU on voter suppression:

"During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."

Rolling Stone   Ari Berman's excellent article on Florida's purge of voter rolls to suppress Democratic vote:

"Imagine this: a Republican governor in a crucial battleground state instructs his secretary of state to purge the voting rolls of hundreds of thousands of allegedly ineligible voters. The move disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters, who happen to be overwhelmingly black and Hispanic Democrats. The number of voters prevented from casting a ballot exceeds the margin of victory in the razor-thin election, which ends up determining the next President of the United States.

If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it happened in Florida in 2000. And twelve years later, just months before another presidential election, history is repeating itself."

CBS  Lucy Madison reports of mass mailings and robo-calls falsely telling voters that they should not or could not vote in the June 5 Wisconsin recall election.

"(CBS News) As voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports out of the state suggest that robocalls are being placed informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition.

There have also been reports of mailings going out to voters telling them they can't vote unless they did so in 2010, and of people going door-to-door telling voters they don't have to go to the polls if they signed the recall petition, both of which are also untrue."

Raw Story offers a disturbing national roundup of stories from numerous states whose Republican governments are pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise voters. One excerpt (from LAWeekly):

"In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.

It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters — largely nonwhite — could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:

'State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws that could make it significantly harder for as many as 5 million eligible Americans to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting'. "

Don't be caught off guard by voter suppression tactics. Go online and be sure that your voter registration is secure and that you will not be disenfranchised this November.  Here are some handy links to information and resources:

FAQs About Voting, Smart Voter (League of Women Voters).

USA Gov. page on voting information, including a link to voter registration deadlines by state and easy-to-navigate information links to answers for frequently asked questions about voting, registration, voting from overseas, working on elections and trouble-shooting.

USA Gov Resources for voters

Brennan Center of Justice Election 2012, information for voters and resources for assistance with barriers to your right to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.

Here is a 2008 video about voter suppression tactics which is depressingly prescient - it is a brief but thorough overview of the methods and traps used to suppress the legitimate right of American citizens to vote. Please watch and share: