The Watering Hole: March 31 – Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Alonso Quijano was a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, who lived in La Mancha with a niece and housekeeper. His reading of books of chivalry to an excess has caused an effect on him, leading to a distortion of his mental state. He accepted every word of the facets of chivalry to be true while chivalry was clearly fiction. Otherwise his wits were intact. He went out as a knight in search of adventure. He donned an old suit of armour, renamed himself “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” and named his skinny horse “Rocinante”. A neighboring farm girl became his lady love and he renamed her, the Dulcinea del Toboso, of which she knew nothing.

He set out ended up at an inn, which he believed to be a castle. He asked the innkeeper, whom he assumed to be the lord, to dub him a knight. He spent the night holding vigil over his armor and became involved in a fight with muleteers who tried to remove his armor from a horse trough so that they could water their mules. The innkeeper then dubbed him a knight just to be rid of him, and he went on his way. Don Quixote, next, “freed” a young boy who was tied to a tree and beaten by his master by making his master swear on the chivalric code to treat the boy fairly. The boy’s beating continued. and Don Quixote had a to-do with traders from Toledo, who denounced Dulcinea as a falsehood and severely beat him only to leave him on the road. He was later found and returned to his home by a peasant.

After recovering, Don Quixote approached a neighbor, Sancho Panza, and enlisted him as his squire, bestowing him governorship of an island. The uneducated Sancho agreed, and the pair sneaked off in the early dawn. It is here that their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believed to be giants. The two next encountered a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage. They were cloaked, as was the lady, as protection from the hot climate and dust. Don Quixote thought the friars to be enchanters who held the lady captive. He knocked a friar from his horse, and was subsequently challenged by an armed Basque travelling with the company. As he had no shield, the Basque used a pillow to protect himself.

In the course of their travels, the two protagonists met innkeepers, prostitutes, goatherds, soldiers, priests, escaped convicts, and scorned lovers. These encounters were intensified by Don Quixote’s imagination into chivalrous quests. fgoes.Don Quixote’s tendency to intervene violently in matters which did not concern him, and his habit of not paying his debts, resulted in many privations, injuries, and humiliations with Sancho always getting the short straw. At the end Don Quixote was persuaded to return to his home village.

Now this tale popped into my mind whilefollowing the campaign of Mitt Romney. Only falsehoods are used to fortify this modern errant knight in his drift to the Republican nomination. For the nation’s well-being, I can only hope that ‘Don’ Romney returns to his village. Otherwise, this nation is destined to enter the fray against imagined enemies!

This is our daily open thread — speak up!

Music Night, March 30, 2012

Beginning next week, Music Night will have a new host. Unless I can persuade him otherwise, we will be alternating Fridays.

This is a really good video of some truly talented musicians. The front men, Flo and Eddie, went out to less-mainstream success in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and over the years a ton of studio work (look ‘em up).And they clearly knew how to have fun.

Maybe Terry will like this one.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 29th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 3

This third and final column was published in the Pawling Press on March 23rd, 2012. (See Part 2 below.) As previously stated, there have been updates to this and other legislation assaulting and limiting women’s rights, but I’ll cover those at a later date.

“Good Luck, Ladies”

A few weeks ago, when I first wrote about several States having passed or trying to pass legislation to limit legal abortions, I didn’t realize that this was going to be a multi-part series. Unfortunately, more States continue to try to pass laws infringing on women’s rights and privacy, so here is the third installment.

Arizona, which already has a law in place that bans tax funding for abortions, is now about to defund Planned Parenthood entirely via HB2800, which Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign into law. As has been stated again and again, abortion services comprise only 3% of the services that Planned Parenthood provides to women. For poorer women who have no health insurance, this will take away their access to free or low-cost mammograms, cancer screening tests and prevention services, STD testing and treatment, and other women’s health services, along with their access to contraception. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, now running for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat, stated, “As a longtime health care professional, I can say without hesitation that restricting access to reproductive health care is detrimental to the health and safety of women. Period.”

Another Arizona bill, HB2625, amends the statute that gives “religious employers” exemption from providing insurance coverage for the birth control pill, unless it is medically necessary for reasons other than birth control. The bill completely removes the State’s statutory definition of “religious employers”, and instead allows “the employer, sponsor, issuer, health care services organization or other entity offering the plan” to deny “coverage of specific items or services… because providing or paying for coverage of the specific items or services is contrary to the[ir] religious beliefs…” In other words, not only the employer – any employer, not just a ‘religious entity’ – but also the health insurance company and, it seems, just about anyone in between, can deny coverage for any services, based on religious grounds. At least this particular bill would theoretically affect men as well as women, even though the majority of its limitations seem to be aimed at women. Maybe it would be a good thing if enough men realized that their healthcare coverage could be limited by someone else’s moral judgment.

On to New Hampshire: HB1659 requires doctors to give women seeking abortions “informational materials” – written by the State – which refer to a link between abortion and breast cancer in several sections. One section reads:

“It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant. In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation.”

Too bad that the American Cancer Society disagrees with this “theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer .” From the ACS website:

“Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer.”
“Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age reduce breast cancer risk. Pregnancy reduces a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles, which may be the reason for this effect.”
“Several studies have provided very strong data that neither induced abortions nor spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) have an overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.”

So the State of New Hampshire wants to mandate that doctors lie to their female patients. This would violate doctor-patient confidentiality, and would also violate a doctor’s First Amendment rights. Considering that the American Cancer Society says that “having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age reduce breast cancer risk”, one might wonder why New Hampshire isn’t pushing for teenage girls to get pregnant as early as possible, and keep women reproducing for as long as possible, if the State is so concerned about their risk of breast cancer. (Okay, that last part was sarcasm, but warranted.)

As of this writing, two more States, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, are proposing more anti-abortion legislation. Pennsylvania has its own version of Virginia’s mandated-ultrasound bill, while Tennessee wants, among other things, to publish the names of doctors who perform abortions. Apparently this country hasn’t had enough bombings of clinics, shootings of clinic personnel, and murdering of doctors.

And what do all of these States have in common? All have Republican governors and majority-Republican legislatures. Yes, the “small government, “individual freedom” folks. So, to all of the women who are unlucky enough to live in all of these hostile States, I wish you the best of luck. You’re going to need it.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Thursday, March 29th, 2012: The Republican War on Women: Part 2

The following, my second column on the Republican War on Women (see Part 1 here), was published in the Pawling Press on March 16th. Although a bit outdated, it is a reminder that this is still an ongoing assault.

“Hell Hath No Fury…”

On February 16th, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), held a hearing regarding the new contraception coverage rule in the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Issa’s stated reason for the hearing was to obtain testimony as to whether the new rule infringed on ‘religious freedom’, and the only witnesses allowed to testify were male religious leaders. Congressman Issa refused to hear the testimony of Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, a Catholic university whose insurance does not cover the birth control pill. Ms. Fluke was prepared to testify, in part, about a schoolmate who needed the pill in order to control an ovarian growth, being afflicted with polycystic ovarian syndrome. The schoolmate’s inability to afford the medication led to the eventual surgical removal of one of her ovaries due to the size of the out-of-control growth.

After she was not allowed to testify at Congressman Issa’s hearing, Ms. Fluke gave her prepared testimony at a Democratic forum (Democrats, being in the minority in the House, are not allowed to hold actual hearings) and subsequently the news media began covering the story.

Enter right-wing radio’s Rush Limbaugh: either unaware of, or deliberately disregarding, the actual testimony of Ms. Fluke, Mr. Limbaugh attacked, calling Ms. Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Mr. Limbaugh lied about Ms. Fluke’s testimony, saying that she “went before a Congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them” and “she wants us to pay for her to have sex.” Mr. Limbaugh topped off his disgusting remarks with:

“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Despite the outrage that ensued, Mr. Limbaugh continued his barrage against Ms. Fluke for several more days, while Fox News ‘personalities’ defended his stance and joined the sexist attack. Finally, enough of his sponsors having dropped their advertising, Mr. Limbaugh issued a non-apology apology.

This story, in my opinion, is important for two reasons. One reason is that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto ruler of the Republican Party. In 2009, after Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks about ‘wanting Obama to fail’, then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele stated, “Rush is not the head of the Republican Party. He’s an entertainer whose show is incendiary and ugly.” Mr. Limbaugh lambasted Mr. Steele, saying that Steele ought to resign from the RNC Chairmanship. Mr. Steele then issued a statement including “My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh, he is a national conservative leader …There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Other Republicans who have had to apologize to Mr. Limbaugh include former S.C. Governor Mark Sanford and Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.

Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum has condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s sexist and despicable remarks. Mitt Romney (who still receives investment income from Bain Capital, which owns Clear Channel Communications, whose Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Limbaugh’s program) would only say: “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used,” and I’m not going to weigh in on that particular controversy.” Rick Santorum’s comment about Rush Limbaugh’s remarks was “He’s being absurd, but that’s you know, an entertainer can be absurd.” Could either candidate possibly have been more mealy-mouthed about such horrible slurs?

The second reason why this is important is because of the current Republican attacks on contraception and women’s reproductive rights. Rick Santorum has said more than once that he believes that “contraception is wrong.” Numerous states have either proposed or passed legislation, including “personhood” amendments, severely limiting or denying women’s access to legal abortions or certain types of contraception. In the U.S. Senate, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposed an amendment to the Public Health Service Act which would exempt “any individual or entity” from having to “offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief.” Senator Rubio’s name has been bandied about as the possible Vice Presidential candidate. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) offered an amendment which went even further, allowing any type of healthcare services to be denied for religious or “conscience” reasons. These amendments, together referred to as the Blunt-Rubio Amendment, were only narrowly defeated.

Protests against these misogynistic right-wing legislative attacks, and outrage over the verbal vitriol from right-winger Rush Limbaugh, have been widespread and increasing. As of this writing, over 140 advertisers have abandoned sponsorship of Rush Limbaugh’s show. Republican popularity among women has been dropping (46%-42% favored a Republican-run Congress last summer, now 51%-36% favor the Democrats.) Although several prominent Republicans (including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts) have condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s despicable remarks, the two front-running Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, haven’t displayed the leadership and strength of character to do so. Why not? And what does this say about them?

Part 3, today’s Watering Hole, to follow shortly…