Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

pauls new book

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jamiol racist rant

That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

The Watering Hole: Saturday, October 15th, 2016: KITTENS!

I was going to title this “ALL-PUSSY EDITION”, but it might have attracted the wrong crowd. Heh.

Wayne and I have just added two kittens, sisters, to our family. No names yet, but it’s only been about ten days since we got them, and I’m observing their behavior/personality traits for clues as they settle in. They made themselves at home within the first day or two, and while Wayne and I find them highly entertaining and completely adorable, the rest of our kids are not so amused. The older four, Missy, Buster, Fitzgerald and Cecilia, are happy to have the bonus of Kitten Chow (and even though I started out feeding the little ones separately, in the other side of the house, the others quickly sniffed it out anyway), but otherwise avoid them at all costs. Squiggy, on the other hand…

Squiggy's a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy’s a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy, about two years old now, is a big boy and loves to play, especially “fetch”. We’ve always had lots of toys around for him, often stockpiled for when he goes after a thrown toy but comes back empty-mouthed, yet still asking for another throw. With the exception of the occasional spontaneous outburst of play on the part of our older ‘girls’, Squiggy has had most of the toys pretty much to himself. He has his “favorite” toys, his “okay-I’ll-play-with this-one-until-you-find-me-one-of-my-favorites” toys, and the “I’m-just-gonna-let-that-one-go-by-while-looking-bored” toys. Whatever he thought of them before, the two invaders now consider all of the toys to be theirs. Not even Squiggy’s favorites have been spared, and, although he seems simply fascinated by their antics at times, and sometimes joins in when the two girls are running full-tilt through the house, he is all-too-often bemused, bothered, befuddled and bewildered. We’re trying to make sure that he and the others get their previously-normal share of attention and loving, but, as I said, the older ones currently prefer to steer clear. We’ll all adjust eventually, they just don’t know that yet.

No more prologue is necessary, so here they are:

It's tempting to name her

It’s tempting to name her “Blaze”.

Her blaze has stripes.

Her blaze has stripes.

I only got one picture of this little girl's face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

I only got one picture of this little girl’s face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

Here's a nice back view of the lighter one's markings.

Here’s a nice back view of the lighter one’s markings.

“She likes to wash.”
That’s Wayne’s hand, for the record.

And one last one – Sorry, but I couldn’t help making this shot into a political meme:nastyorangemanwearingroadkillgrabswha3

This is our daily Open Thread – don’t forget to sprinkle some compliments in amongst your comments!

Also, too, any and all suggestions for names will be welcome.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 10th, 2016: Still Carrying Holy Water

In case I haven’t written enough about Evangelical “Christian” website, The Christian Post, here’s another one.

I wanted to see what their reaction was to the Trump “pussy” scandal. Would this be the final straw? Of course not.

Trump 2005 Sex Talk Video Scandal: Evangelical, Republican Leaders Divided on Supporting GOP Presidential Nominee

By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
October 9, 2016|9:39 am
Varied responses from evangelical and Republican leaders are pouring in after a 2005 video surfaced showing Donald Trump bragging about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Some have withdrawn their support, others continue to back the GOP presidential nominee to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

“As a husband and father of three daughters, I find this behavior deeply offensive and degrading,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, referring to the leaked video carrying Trump’s 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of “Access Hollywood.”

In the conversation with Bush, the real estate magnate discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman. “I did try and [expletive] her. She was married,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” he adds. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The video was published by The Washington Post on Friday.

Trump, who will participate in the second presidential debate with his Democratic rival Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday, has said, “I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Perkins went on to say his support for Trump “was never based upon shared values rather it was built upon shared concerns,” including the Supreme Court, America’s security, and religious freedom. He said, “… We are left with a choice of voting for the one who will do the least damage to our freedoms.”

It’s not an ideal situation, Perkins added, but “I refuse to find sanctuary on the sidelines and allow the country and culture to deteriorate even further by continuing the policies of the last eight years.”

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump’s religious advisory board, also said he’s still with the Republican nominee.

“As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we’re to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity,” Reed told NPR in an interview on Saturday, adding that Trump has apologized. “I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don’t think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters.”

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer also said he continues to support the Trump-Pence ticket.

“The 10-year old tape of a private conversation in which Donald Trump uses grossly inappropriate language does not change the reality of the choice facing this country,” the chairman of the Campaign for Working Families said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton is committed to enacting policies that will erode religious liberty, promote abortion, make our country less safe, and leave our borders unprotected. She wants higher taxes and bigger government. She will continue the disastrous economic policies that are destroying America’s working class and middle class families. She is mired in corruption and has put U.S. secrets at risk.”

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, responded to the video, saying, “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump. … I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”

Pence abstained from a campaign event scheduled for Saturday in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Politico reported.

The Washington Post’s National Political Reporter, Philip Rucker, said Gov. Pence is “inconsolable” since the leaked video surfaced. “A source close to Trump camp told me Pence and his team are ‘absolutely apoplectic,’ ‘melting down’ and ‘inconsolable,'” Rucker tweeted.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus condemned Trump’s remarks. “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” he said in a statement.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“We must have a conservative in the White House to restore accountability, opportunity and security. For the sake of our Constitution and the rule of law, we must defeat Hillary Clinton,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Today I ask Donald Trump to step aside and for the RNC to replace him with Gov. Mike Pence.”

Trump has categorically said he won’t quit.

Arizona Republican John McCain said he can no longer back Trump. “I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference,” McCain told Politico. “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz also announced withdrawal of his endorsement of Trump. “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” he told Fox 13 News.

Former GOP candidate for president Jeb Bush said no apology will do. “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” he wrote on Twitter. Similarly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.”

However, while apologizing, Trump said, “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. … I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

Trump’s wife, Melania, pleaded with voters in a gracious response to her husband’s 2005 remarks, which she acknowledged were “unacceptable and offensive to me.”

“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader,” she said in a statement. “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

The following piece of crap is the Trump “apology” which apparently cleans and disinfects Trump in those rabidly delusional minds:

“Here is my statement.
I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.
Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.
Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.”

Okay, this might possibly have squeaked by as a technical “apology” had Trumped ended with “I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.” Instead, he launched into a string of lies, i.e., “I’ve been humbled…” is a flat-out impossibility; followed by throwing his own feces at the Clintons in a kneejerk projection reaction.

Regardless…these Evangelical “Christians”, some are still fine and dandy with Donald Trump because he would appoint a new Supreme Court Justice who will abolish abortion entirely and make “Christianity” the law of the land. Well, more or less, but definitely the abortion part, because that’s the one and only thing that these ‘men of the cloth’ really, really hate. They’ll tolerate Trump’s lies, Trump’s now-proven lack of charity, Trump’s lack of love for his neighbor – well, not HIS neighbor, but other people’s neighbors – um, where was I? These religious zealots are blind to Trump’s ignorance of his own or any other ‘faith’, Trump’s cheating his employees, Trump’s violent rhetoric, Trump’s failure to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”, Trump’s attitude towards all women, Trump’s adultery, Trump’s coveting his neighbor’s wife, and Trump’s putting the false god of greed before the Evangelical Whatever-they-are’s “god”? Trump’s own recorded words admit to sexual abuse, along with what some bibles say is one of the big sins, ‘coveting his neighbor’s wife’; but still, these assholier-than-thou [thank you, Z] turn a blind eye to the utter depravity that is Donald Trump. All, ALL, just to stop abortion.

Anyone who calls him- or herself a “Christian”, yet supports Donald Trump, is morally bankrupt, has no soul, and has no claim on “family values” or “freedom” or “patriotism.” From this agnostic, you can all go fuck yourselves.

This is our daily Open Thread. Enjoy yourlves.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 2nd, 2016: A Little Humor

I’ll start with the first of two jokes which one of my co-workers sent me; the second of the two will be at the end. That way we can begin and end with a smile. (Okay, there’ll be humor in the middle, too.)

“A Lexus mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a LS460 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?” The cardiologist, a bit surprised walked over to where the mechanic was working.

The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I opened its heart, took the valves out, repaired or replaced anything damaged, and then put everything back in, and when I finished, it worked just like new. So how is it that I make $48,000 a year and you make $1.7M when you and I are doing basically the same work? The cardiologist paused, leaned over, and then whispered to the mechanic. “Try doing it with the engine running.””

Next, a whole bunch of political stuff from a recent Washington Post newsletter called “The Daily Trail”, including but not limited to:

-poll numbers indicating how ‘yugely’ unpopular Donald Trump is among women and other demographics;
-Trump + Reince Priebus = GOP Party Loyalty?
-Ted Cruz pulls out RNC rule book in anti-Kasich move;
-Superpac for Kasich responds with weird Pinocchio-themed anti-Cruz ad (created by the same guy who made what was called the “Demon Sheep” ad.)
-initial Electoral College projections from the University of Virginia show some good news for Democrats;
-will candidates never learn how to eat a slice of New York pizza in a New York pizzeria in the traditional New York manner? (Jon Stewart, I hope you’re not following ANY of this, please, it’s not good for your blood pressure!)
-and more!

Also from the Washington Post, an ‘April Fools’ story (okay, I’m a day behind) about two college professors who “gave up the fight to convince Americans that Africa is not, in fact, a country.”

And now the second of the two jokes:

“While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, “I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there’s too little left to be of any use? “Good question,” noted the CFO. “We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages. “Oh,” replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer.

But on he went, in his obnoxious way. “What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what’s left over after setting a cast on a patient? “Ah, yes,” replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. “We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster.

“I see,” replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO. “Well,” he went on, “What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?” Here, too, we do not waste,” answered the CFO. “What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick.” [rim shot]

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 28th, 2015: Planned Parenthood Under Attack

Planned Parenthood is always under some kind of attack, whether by the religious-right forced-birthers protesting outside PP offices, or by the Republican-led legislature’s ginned-up witch hunts about fetal tissue, or by the many states’ impositions of prohibitively strict restrictions on both clinics and patients. This time, however, the attack was physical, violent, and deadly.

"Sneak Preview" of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

“Sneak Preview” of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

It’s nearly 3:30am Eastern Time as I’m typing this, and right now the most up-to-date information seems to be from the Denver Post. They’ve assembled a timeline of the more than five-hour shooting/standoff here. A third Denver Post article paints a more vivid picture of the unfolding situation, including this tidbit that I haven’t seen anywhere else:

“At roughly 12:15, the gunman went inside Planned Parenthood and began firing out the windows at propane tanks placed around the clinic’s parking lot, an officer told dispatch over his radio.”

Now, other articles mentioned that the police were sorting through several items that the suspect had brought with him, including mention of ‘a propane tank.’ Nothing about more than one tank, or that any were “placed around the clinic’s parking lot” – but that could explain why most articles say the shooting started outside the Planned Parenthood offices, in the parking lot. Supposedly [it was reported somewhere, I forget where] the suspect had been shooting at cars passing by, possibly if any of the drivers noticed what he was doing. But I’m just speculating here, which I shouldn’t be doing. That, apparently, is the job of the TV ‘news’ media. We turned on the TV after we initially read about the shooting as it was happening, but turned it off again after hearing some of the inane questions and ‘we-don’t-want-to-speculate-but-we-have-to’ bumbling.

Of course there will be much more information available by the time I wake up later this morning–hell, probably even by the time I finish writing this. So I’m definitely not going to speculate about the shooting suspect’s motive(s), or his religion, or his political persuasion; when the information comes out, I’m sure there will be much ranting to follow. I just need to get this one little rant off my chest before I finally go to bed:

Back in September, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger had spoken about the now-debunked videos purportedly showing PP “harvesting” fetal tissue for fun and profit:

“I mean it’s Nazi Germany,” he told Rockford radio station WROK recently. “You think of the doctors in the concentration camps experimenting on their victims. It’s kind of reminiscent of that.”

The fact that the ‘smoking-gun’ videos were proven to be fraudulent didn’t deter Kinzinger from throwing them up again, with amazingly tone-deaf, brain-dead timing. From one of the ThinkProgress articles covering the shooting:

“While the shooter was active inside the Planned Parenthood clinic, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on live TV and blasted the organization. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Kinzinger said.”

Yes. He said that while the shooting spree was in progress; while police officers were being shot at; while at least 100 people were huddling in fear, not just in the Planned Parenthood offices, but in nearby shops and buildings; while a shooter terrorized the area. And he said it as if having “a legitimate concern about” Planned Parenthood could somehow be a “legitimate” cause or reason or excuse for shooting and killing innocent people.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 14th, 2014: It’s SCHNEIDER-MAN!

Nope, not Wayne…it’s New York State’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

A.G. Schneiderman is the root’n-est, toot’n-est, doggone shoot’n-est Attorney General around these parts. And while he has been focusing mainly on Wall Street transgressions, Schneiderman was forced to issue a press release last week after the McCullen decision, in which the Supremes struck down the 35-foot buffer zone around Massachusetts’ women’s health clinics.

Apparently protesters at a Planned Parenthood in Rochester, New York, were a mite confused about that ruling, believing that the Supreme Court decision struck down ALL buffer zones. According to an article by Michael Virtanen of The Republic:

“The letter followed a protest last week outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Rochester, where one demonstrator crossed a faded line on the sidewalk believing the Supreme Court decision applied everywhere, said Mary Jost. She is director of the Focus Pregnancy Help Center nearby and a longtime anti-abortion protester. Police were called, an officer talked with the woman and said she had to move back. That also prompted Rochester police to query the attorney general’s office and Jost to consult her own lawyer, who advised staying beyond the line that was subsequently painted bright orange, she said.

“We might take it to court in time,” Jost said.”

Yeah, sure, let us know how that works out for you.

A.G. Schneiderman’s press release (seen here in its entirety) said in part:

“I am committed to protecting the right of every patient in New York to full and safe access to reproductive health care services. We will not allow activists to use a narrowly targeted Supreme Court decision as an opportunity to create confusion about the critical protections here in New York. Not only do New York State’s clinic protection laws remain completely in place, I am committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure they are fully enforced.”

Schneiderman, who was endorsed by Planned Parenthood for the post of Attorney General, insisted that the 15-foot buffer zone is still in effect in all 22 counties where it had been established in 2005. The Republic article also states that “He [A.G. Schneiderman] has also sent out investigators to ensure clinic access…”

Way to go, Schneiderman!

Just for fun, here’s President Obama turning down an offer that, I confess, I would not have refused.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 12th, 2013: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Twenty-five years ago this month, I went to the Women’s Health Pavilion in Dobbs Ferry, NY, to have my tubes tied.

Wayne and I were planning to get married in October that year, and had decided that, since neither of us felt that we had the temperament to raise children, having my tubes tied was the best route to go. I had been on the Pill off and on for about 10 years, and didn’t want to be exposed to its possibly harmful side effects anymore.

Even back then, as a fully-grown 32-year old adult, at a facility which catered to both happily pregnant women and unhappily pregnant women and teens seeking abortions, the doctors assumed, despite my protestations, that I might change my mind. They insisted that I have the type of tubal ligation which could be undone, even though they admitted that this procedure was more painful than the no-going-back type (they were definitely right about the pain!) That was the first time in my adult life that a decision about my body and reproductive choice was forced upon me by others.

That seems like ages ago now; but it also seems like ages ago (instead of a mere 17 months) that I began writing about the Republican War on Women (see here, here, and here), and in the meantime the suppression of women’s rights by Republicans just keeps getting worse.

This year, the main spotlight has been on Texas, where it took two “Special Sessions” of their legislature to pass a strict anti-abortion bill that couldn’t get passed in their regular legislative session. The only good thing that resulted from this extended knock-down drag-out fight was that it made a political star of State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose tenacious example and amazing filibuster brought thousands of Texans and millions of American women together in support of both Wendy and women’s rights.

Since then, however, more states have jumped on the he-man-woman-haters-club bandwagon. North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory, after promising during his campaign that he would not sign any new abortion regulations, went ahead and did so. Then, adding insult to injury, he offered women protesting outside of his mansion a plate of cookies.

After that, Iowa is now contemplating a bill banning what’s called “telemedicine abortion”, where the doctor can prescribe the abortion pill to a woman online rather than in the doctor’s office.

And most recently, despite the legislation’s failure to pass in Georgia’s legislative session, Governor Nathan Deal(R) “vowed to use his executive power to enact it anyway.”

Lastly, getting back to Texas:

On the final day of the second session, state Sen. Eddie Lucio (D) — the only Senate Democrat who supported the recently approved omnibus anti-abortion bill — filed a measure to require women to complete a mandatory adoption certification course before they may seek an abortion. Lucio has suggested he will attempt to keep pushing that measure during the third session.

It’s hard to find a current answer to ‘how many states now have strict anti-abortion laws?”, but according to answerbag.com (from 2010):

Thirty-eight states have laws that prohibit abortions after a specific point in the pregnancy, except in cases where the late-term abortion might save the woman’s life or protect her health. Sixteen states have laws in effect that do not allow for late-term abortions.

And, according to religioustolerance.org:

At least 16 states still have pre-1973 anti-abortion laws on the books even though they are clearly unconstitutional and nullified under Roe v. Wade.”

Will the attack on women’s reproductive rights ever end? When will Republican women wake up and realize just how much Republican men despise them, want to keep women second-class citizens, and will do anything to control their reproductive health and rights? And when will male Democrats grow a collective pair and denounce Republican men as the ignorant, greedy, hate-filled, misogynistic bullies that they are?

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

Pro-Life, at any cost.

The American Life League, Inc.’s website reveals their take on abortion statistics:

Total number of abortions in the U.S. 1973-2011: 54.5 million+

234 abortions per 1,000 live births (according to the Centers for Disease Control)
Abortions per year: 1.2 million
Abortions per day: 3,288
Abortions per hour: 137
9 abortions every 4 minutes
1 abortion every 26 seconds

These statistics include only surgical and medical abortions. Because many contraceptive measures are abortifacients (drugs that induce or cause abortions), it is important not to overlook the number of children killed by chemical abortions. Since 1965, an average of 11 million women have used abortifacient methods of birth control in the United States at any given time. Using formulas based on the way the birth control pill works, pharmacy experts project that about 14 million chemical abortions occur in the United States each year, providing a projected total of well in excess of 610 million chemical abortions between 1965 and 2009.

So, this is what the “Pro-Life” crowd wants to prevent, in blocking access to surgical and “chemical” abortions – the addition of over 600 million to the population of the United States in one generation.

The current population of the United States is about 300 million. According to the American Life League, had women been prevented from having abortions, the population would have been amore than 900 million.

Reality Check Time.

More live births do not equal a more equitable distribution of wealth. For 98% of us, three people would have to survive on the resourses/income that one person has now. Put differently, triple the size of your household, without any raise in income. Now provide for your family.

And while you’re pondering that, imagine triple the demand for food, shelter, energy, etc. Nothing like tripling demand to drive up prices. But, with more workers in the workforce, wages are driven lower.

Ending birth control and abortions will cause a population explosion that will create a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions. The ensuing population growth will be unsustainable, the suffering from abject poverty and starvation unfathomable.

But the “Pro-Life” crowd is incapable of comprehending the logical consequences of their own actions.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 11th, 2013: From Morons to Marvels

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been in the news a lot lately, in part for having been one of the select few Republicans who were invited to the recent dinner meeting with President Obama. In an appearance yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Johnson stated,

“If we’re going to really get to an agreement, this is a good step…You have to start meeting with people. You have to start developing relationships. You’ve got to spend a fair amount of time figuring out what we agree on first.”

[Especially when the Republican “leaders” won’t tell their flock the truth about what the President has offered, and the flock and the media are too dumb or brainwashed to lift a couple of fingers and check whitehouse.gov!]

The same “This Week” appearance also saw Paul Krugman, in his inimitable manner, school Senator Johnson on the Social Security program.

Prior to that, in the debate over authorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Senator Johnson was one of a group of “…Republicans [who] have objected to new provisions in the law, including one allowing tribal courts for the first time to prosecute men who aren’t American Indians when they’re accused of abusing an American Indian woman on a reservation. . .”, according to ThinkProgress, which also quotes Senator Johnson as saying:

“the Senate has approved a piece of legislation that sounds nice, but which is fatally flawed. By including an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority and introducing a bill before the Congressional Budget Office could review it to estimate its cost, Senate Democrats made it impossible for me to support a bill covering an issue I would like to address.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously (or not), when searching for a link on a completely different topic, I ran across this one about Ron Johnson from 2010. It includes a video of Johnson, demonstrating the average conservative’s love of fetuses but not actual children, while “…testifying against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act, which would have eliminated the statute of limitation on lawsuits brought by victims of abuse by priests against the Catholic Church.

Okay, as a palate-cleanser, I believe that there’s something for everyone in these photo slideshows from The Weather Channel.

For all of us who love space science and/or who have experienced various types of mind-enhancement, here’s (now think Muppets “Pigs in Space” voice) “Light Trails from Space.”

Staying in space for the moment, the Comet Pan-STARRS is in the ‘hood, and should start to be visible to the naked eye tomorrow. The chart shown in this article indicates where the large comet can be located (in the western sky at sunset) over the next two weeks or so.

Last from TWC (and getting back to ‘trails’…you’ll see): unusual (and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing) tunnels are highlighted in this feature. Although the first tunnel shown only has the one photo – see below – the rest of them have some amazing shots. Tunnel #18, Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, described as “senseless, yet fabulous“, could likely induce trails even for persons who have never seen trails before. A youtube video of the entire ride is linked to under the description of the Shanghai tunnel, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. Who’s gonna go first? 🙂

Enjoy!

Ukraine "Tunnel of Love"

Ukraine “Tunnel of Love”

This is our Open thread – what topic would you like to discuss?

This is My Body, Not Yours

Transcript:

This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.
I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.
I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.
I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.
I fall in love with whomever, fuck/sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.
I decide when and how to become a mother.
This is my body, not yours

These decisions have nothing to do with you. If I’m not hurting you or stopping you from pursuing your inherent right to happiness, it’s none of your business. This is my body, not yours.

Almost one in eight women in the United States will have breast cancer, the most invasive cancer for women worldwide. If I am black or white, rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, formally educated or not, I have the right to be screened for this killer of women, whether I go to my doctor or rely on the services of clinics like those run by Planned Parenthood. Your desire to stop the funding of abortions has nothing to do with my right to defend myself against cancer. This is my body, not yours.

If I choose to have sex, I have the right to birth control and to be spared your demeaning insults you’d never want leveled against your daughter or mother. My pursuit of orgasm is neither unnatural nor dangerous nor scary nor an infringement of your religious liberty. My sexual activity is for my benefit, not your pleasure. And it’s never my fault if you rape me. I am done being excluded from decisions about my sexual and reproductive health. This is my body, not yours.

I determine who or what goes inside of my vagina and when. I make all decisions regarding my pregnancy. I will access prenatal care whether or not you agree with the choices made resulting from that care. I have the right to an abortion without facing intimidation, harassment, burdensome parental consent laws, or prejudicial taxes. If I decide to have an abortion, I will not undergo unnecessary, invasive medical procedures for the purposes of your moralizing and personal edification. I’m entitled to all health information from my doctor. And allowing myself to be penetrated once doesn’t assume your right to do it again on your own prerogative, for your own reasons. This is my body, not yours.

It is time for you to accept that I am fully aware, capable, and accountable for myself. I don’t need a hero or saving because I’m not in distress. I’m not defined by my need of a man or partner, but I have the right to be made happy by one, in a safe and supportive relationship. I’m not defined by my weight, hair, make up, skin color, or breast size. I do not exist to be your play toy. I won’t wait my turn nor be quiet nor heed you. I know my physical and mental strength and I do not fear you. I’m beautiful, despite what you think, with or without your approval. This is my body, not yours.

This is my body.
I’m through with legislators telling me what to do with it.
This is my body.
Keep your salacious, aggressive, sexist insults to yourself. I’m not listening.
This is my body.
I have the right to marry my partner, woman or man.
To equal pay
To health care
To education
To divorce
To safety
To protection of the law
To respect and dignity
To complete equality
This is my body, not yours.

Do not be afraid of a world in which women know themselves, their voice, and their power. That world has arrived.

————

Don’t like it?  We aren’t asking you if you like it; we’re telling you how things are.

The Watering Hole: November 30 — The Little Woman

I’m cleaning house today, and I’ve decided I need to get myself one of these housewives.  Afterall, she goes through her woman’s work chores in a cute dress, perfect hair, and heels.  Such class!  Much cuter than my socks, jammies, and tangled ponytail.

I think the narrator is so clever, pretending he’s in admiration of the strong, competent little ladies, while dribbling his patronizing prattling pablum.

Ahhhh, the “good old days.”

This is our daily open thread — Death to dust bunnies!!

Sunday Roast: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

On 20 December 1993 the General Assembly, by resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

In the United States, we had the Violence Against Women Act — also passed in 1993 — written by the current Vice President, Joe Biden.  The Act currently up for re-authorization, which would seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hung up in the Republican controlled House, which favors a reduction of such services to undocumented and LGBT women.

Because undocumented and LGBT women aren’t quite women?  Violence up to a certain level should be acceptable?  Maybe if these women get beaten and raped enough, they’ll mend their evil ways.  That could be it.

This is our daily open thread — posted by the late, late, very late Zooey.  LATE AGAIN.  Sorry!!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 22nd, 2012: Mixed Emotions

Since I’ve been wallowing in the throes of depression – Rmoney and Obama are more-or-less tied in the polls, Republicans are doing everything possible to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters, CEOs are threatening their employees if they don’t vote for/donate to Rmoney, my Jets lost in overtime to the damned Patriots, the list goes on and on – I thought I’d throw out something to start the week on a lighter note.

Our current local State Senator, Republican Greg Ball, had some issues with women (among other things) that plagued his last campaign, but still managed to win. His 2012 challenger, Democrat Justin Wagner, has been sending out a series of mailers taking advantage of Ball’s misogynistic reputation. Here’s the front covers from the four mailers that we received – enjoy!

Not so amusing is the fact that tonight is the third and final Presidential debate between President Obama and Elder Professional Liar former Massachusetts Governor Rmoney. So here’s just one more Foreign Policy article, listing 50 questions that various and sundry people would like to see asked of both candidates during tonight’s debate.

(Note: I could not figure out how to get the “Not so” out from between the pictures, so if any of my fellow Critters can edit that and put it at the beginning of the paragraph below them, please feel free to fix it for me.)

Last, but obviously not least: HAPPY 24TH ANNIVERSARY, HONEY!

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 10th, 2012: Romney’s Ramblings

I’ve been reading through the transcripts of Mitt Romney’s campaign speeches, and I’ve noticed that he has several recurring themes and lies about President Obama:

– “President Obama sees a different America and has taken us in a different direction.”

– “A few months into office, he travelled around the globe to apologize for America.”

– “Ronald Reagan rallied America with “Peace Through Strength.””

– “We must pass a torch to the next generation…”

– “It’s really an election about the soul of America.”

– “Three years ago, Candidate Obama promised to address the problems of illegal immigration in America. He failed. The truth is, he didn’t even try.”

– “American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this President, all three of those elements have been weakened.”

– “This President’s first answer to every problem is to take power from you, your local government and your state so that so-called “experts” in Washington can make those choices for you. And with each of these decisions, we lose more of our freedom.”

This particular speech from January, 2012, in New Hampshire, probably has the most out-and-out lies of all the speeches I’ve read so far (read for yourself.)

Here’s the most hypocritical lie (and one that he reiterated at the RNC):

– “At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best…”

I’ve also run across various and sundry WTF? lines:

– “As President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy. I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.”

– “Barack Obama has failed America. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama’s own misery index. It’s never been higher. And what’s his answer? He says this: “I’m just getting started.”

– “If a couple has a baby, the government will actually give them more support—in the form of food stamps, welfare, or other benefits—if they do not marry than if they do. Our safety-net programs penalize the decision to marry, instead of rewarding it. That’s just wrong. And that’s why I will eliminate these marriage penalties.”

– “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.”

Romney’s campaign speeches also contain myriad Republican-hot-button-buzzwords, repeated ad nauseum, such as “freedom”, “opportunity”, “exceptionalism”, “entitlements”, “failure”, etc. In addition, Romney makes plenty of promises to uphold or strengthen various rights: States’ rights; corporations’ rights to conduct their businesses unfettered by Federal regulations; and, of course, the overarching rights of a collection of zygotes.

However, thus far in my research (ten speeches), one very important topic stands out which Mitt Romney completely ignores: Women’s issues and rights. Romney’s only mention of women:

– “We live in the most powerful nation that ever existed. And it all goes back to a few men and women who had the courage to stand – and even die – for their belief in liberty and equality.”

and

– “…I will hold fathers financially responsible for their child, whether or not they have married the mother.”

As I mentioned, I’m only ten speeches into a collection of about forty-five, so there’s a possibility that Romney may have discussed support for women’s rights in a later speech. But I’ve got the feeling that that possibility is slim-to-none.

This is our daily open thread — What would YOU like to ramble about?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 17th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part GGPLX**

**GGPLX = Googolplex

Sad to say, I wasted way too much time yesterday arguing with idiots (see below) on the ThinkProgress thread about Kansas Governor Brownback signing legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription for a medication which, in the pharmacist’s view, could result in an abortion.

An article in the Kansas City Star quotes the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Lance Kinzer, as stating, “…the right to an abortion does not include within it the right to require someone else to participate in or facilitate your abortion.” [So, is a woman supposed to perform the abortion herself? In Mississippi, apparently one State Representative, Bubba Carpenter (R-Idiot) thinks so.] The KC Star article goes on to say that “Kinzer has also said that the bill is intended to cover the abortion drug RU-486, not contraceptive medications — although he would be OK if conscience protections extended that far.” [Yeah, I’ll bet he’d be more than okay with that!]

Luckily, not all Republicans are against women’s reproductive health. GOPChoice, a pro-choice Republican group, says on its website,

“this bill exists under the assumption that a doctor’s prescription may jeopardize a pregnancy, and a pharmacist is better equipped to determine whether or not an individual can safely take said medication…The bill also raises the question, “How does the pharmacist know the individual is pregnant?” Either the pharmacist must have access to private medical information, or receives the legal allowance to make medical assumptions based on appearance.”

– and –

“The radical conscience clause measure states that health professionals cannot be forced to supply any prescription or device they, “reasonably believes may result in the termination of a pregnancy.””

To me, the key phrase here is “reasonably believes.” Just how reasonable is someone who is allowed to let his or her religious beliefs override medical training and scientific fact?

And now, just a brief selection of the commentary at TP:

Vincent: “Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill ANY prescription. They have to exercise professional judgment on a case by case basis. Patients abuse, doctors prescribe incorrectly or frivolously, some patients fill the Rx and turn around and sell it on the black market. Just because most pharmacists work where you buy shampoo and toilet paper doesn’t make them less of a health care professional. The government getting involved on either side, whether requiring pharmacists to fill or allowing them to refuse, is intrusive.”

My response: “Vincent, there’s a big difference between a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because the doctor prescribed incorrectly, and a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because he/she feels that filling it is against their personal beliefs. And I have to point out, this ‘conscience clause’ SOLELY applies to a medication that ONLY WOMEN need.”

Greg: “There are several types of birth control , and they will not be outlawed! Chill!”

My response: “First, the birth control pill is not (yet) being outlawed, but its dispensation is being left to the moral whims of your local pharmacist. If access to birth control of any type is up to one’s pharmacist, why aren’t condoms behind the pharmacy counter, where one’s pharmacist can determine who gets to buy them? And, since the birth control pill is often prescribed for other women’s health problems, not just for birth control, why should it be up to the pharmacist, rather than the DOCTOR, to decide whether or not to dispense the prescription?”

Greg: “It will never be outlawed. (the pill) But a drug that serves as an abortion pill or could be used as such could be. Right now it is not , but the pharmacist is given the choice whether or not to provide it, which means some WILL and some will not. So quit trying to project your insane radical belief that if everyone doesn’t share your morals or values they are trying to harm YOU in some way. GEEZ!!”

My response: “Greg, I am way beyond the point where I need birth control, so this issue does not harm me in any way. So quit trying to project your insane belief that I think they’re trying to harm ME in some way. And what is so insanely radical about believing that, if my doctor prescribes the birth control pill for, say treatment of ovarian cyst (one of the pill’s uses), a pharmacist shouldn’t have the right to refuse to fill that prescription?”

And I loved this one, but simply couldn’t respond to such idiocy:

“glad that Gov Brownback is defending the constitutional right of these pharmacies to run their own business the way they see fit — girls who want drugs to kill their babies can go stand in line at WalMart & buy them there.”

Oy! Attitudes like this may be explained in this article that I found by chance. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 30th, 2012: GOP War on Women, the Latest Skirmish


H/T Think Progress and Crooks and Liars

Before I even saw yesterday’s Meet The Press, I had already run across several idiotic comments purporting to explain the difference in pay between women and men for doing the same job with the same qualifications. The slimebucket Alex Castellanos, whose rudeness and oily, condescending misogyny reminded me of Dick Armey’s run-in with Joan Walsh, illustrated once again how GOP bootlickers can be such pigs. But apparently it’s not just male GOP pundits who feel and act this way. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), also on the panel, dismissed the discussion entirely as a ‘distraction’ from the real issues of ‘economics and jobs.’ Of course, when Rachel Maddow then asked why, if the economy and jobs were so important to the GOP, so many Republican State Legislatures were pushing and passing laws which limit women’s reproductive rights, re-fighting settled abortion law and intruding on a doctor’s relationship with his patient. Alex Castellanos trotted out some crap about this ‘distraction from the issues’ being President Obama’s modus operandi (at which point I would probably have gotten up and slapped that slimey smile off of his face.)

Other recent blog threads, both those about this subject and some that had nothing to do with it, have brought out some of the dumbest defenders of, and supposed explanations of why women are paid less than men. Here’s a few examples:

“We must’ve seen different videos. I don’t know Alex, but I saw him try to offer a calm reasoning for this difference and was shut down as if he were a buttinsky. He wasn’t.”

On a thread regarding the suicide of a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, comments ranged from the subject itself, to the Trayvon Martin case, then to women’s rights in America:

“Yes, but let’s not negate the issues that face American women. Are we to be grateful that we make 70 cents to every man’s dollar? That men want to make decisions for us about whether we use contraception or what our insurance pays for when drugs specific to their sexual pleasure are covered in full? There is still ground to be covered in this country despite the fact that we don’t have threats such as that faced by this poor young girl and that should not be forgotten.”

This comment was countered with:

“…name the insurance companies that pay for “drugs specific to their sexual pleasure are covered in full?” I am a nurse and have male patients who have erectile dysfunction as side effects of medications they need to take for other medical conditions and they haven’t found any insurance company that pays for erectile dysfunction medications. Also, erectile dysfunction medications should be considered preventative medicine as medical studies have indicated that there is a higher risk of prostate cancer among men who aren’t sexually active. Birth control isn’t preventative medicine as pregnancy isn’t a disease nor is it an abnormal physical condition. Unplanned pregnancy is a social problem, not a medical problem. Contraception enables us to have sex without the risk of pregnancy (ie. sex for pleasure and fun rather than for what it is biologically and physiologically intended for), making sex possible as a form of entertainment. Should health insurance cover other forms of entertainment, too? We should make our own decisions about contraception, take the responsibility for our own sexual behavior, and stop demanding that everyone else pay for our decisions and pleasures — not to mention, stop blaming men because some women want the right to be treated like responsible, mature, accomplished women while demanding that they be treated like irresponsible children when it comes to their sexual behavior. We “make 70 cents to every man’s dollar” has largely been debunked upon further examination. Men tend to work longer hours than women do, tend to take the most dangerous jobs, tend to work in jobs under harsher environmental and physical conditions, and men tend to spend more years of their lives working than women do. Currently there are more unemployed men than there are unemployed women and there has been a trend toward preferential hiring practices geared toward women.”

…and…

“Feminists never know when to stop”

…and…

“Be thankful for what you do have or you’ll always just be focused on what you don’t”

…and…

“Wow women make 70% of what men make!!! Where are these women? If I could lower my payroll by 30% just by hiring women, I’d do that in a heartbeat… and so would every major employer in the country. Get your facts straight before you spout nonsense. Women on average earn less because they place a lower priority on earnings and a higher priority on family and time off. Women who put in the same hours and commitment as their male counterparts are often promoted first.”

…and

“We women make 70 cents to every man’s dollar, because we do less work in the same hour.”

And comments from the Think Progress thread on this topic, particularly from one commenter:

“Castellanos is more correct than maddow is. In the past, maddow argument was true. But when you compare job to job, hours to hours, time at work to time at work… woman MAKE THE SAME amount as men. If woman want to make more, go to law school, med school, engineering school, MBA school and get high paying degrees. Woman go into nursing, teaching, secretarial, waitressing etc.. that pay crappy. For the same work, for the vast numbers in 2012, they make the same.”

…and…

“if you want a competitive salary, get a competitive education. Get a competitive job and keep it. I don’t see any of the woman billionaire industrialists like Meg Whitman complaining about their salaries. But I do hear a bunch of poorly educated woman (and men) complaining that they don’t make as much money as they “deserve.”
Tough. The market determines what you “deserve.” If you think you deserve more, quit your low paying job, start a company and produce the product that will earn you your “deserved” salary”

…and…

“I just know in the areas I move in… medicine and hospitals, clinics. Plus I have extensive networks of legal friends. Pay is based on productivity. One of the highest paid professional I know is a female surgeon. Works 80 hours a week and earns every penny she makes. The secretaries, nurses, clerks, billers, accountants etc are paid hourly. The more you work, the more overtime you put in, the fewer vacations you take, the more you make.”

…and, finally…

“If you want a high paying job, get an education, put in the hours, or form a company and produce some social/economic good that will make the world a better place (and bring you financial success). Then you will be paid more. If not, sit at home and whine.”

I don’t know about you, but this crap is really starting to get to me.

This is our daily open thread — Have at it!

Sunday Roast: Leymah Gbowee: Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls

Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace prize in 2011, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”  She also led a women’s movement in Liberia that helped to end the Civil War in 2003, dealing raising her children and dealing with her own challenges.

I think she has the right idea in about unlocking the potential of women across the world, and that scares the bejeebers out of the men in power — and they are right to be afraid.  Any man with sense knows that if you piss us off, we will eventually forgive, but we will never forget.

We are pissed.

UNICEF describes that gender equality “means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.”

This statement is quite reasonable to me, but the powers that be don’t agree.  I know we women are up for this fight, and we will finish it because we are so over this “war on women,” no matter what part of the world it’s taking place.

Men?  You have wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and daughters — are you with us?  You know we won’t forget if you’re not.   🙂

This is our daily open thread — Have you bitten the head off a chocolate bunny today?

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…

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 26th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 1

The Republican’s war on women’s rights is being waged so quickly that it’s been hard to keep up with every skirmish. I began writing about it in my columns in the Pawling Press several weeks ago. The following is the first of these columns, as published in the Pawling Press on Friday, February 24th, 2012:

“Personhood vs Women’s Rights”

On both the Federal and the State levels, Republican legislators have been attempting to limit women’s reproductive rights and personal freedoms. Since January of 2011, twenty-eight pieces of legislation have been introduced, considered, or passed in either the House or the Senate, aiming to chip away at the currently legal access to abortion and family-planning services. In the last few years, fourteen states either have tried to pass, or are about to pass, “Personhood” legislation declaring that human life begins at the moment of conception.

On February 16th, the Oklahoma State Senate passed SB-1433, which in part states:

“1. The life of each human being begins at conception;”
“2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;
“C. The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
“E. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association spokesman Wes Glinsmann, describing the Association’s opposition to the bill, stated, “As broad and vaguely worded as it was, we are concerned about some of the unintended consequences regarding contraception, in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies, things of that nature.”

According to the Tulsa News, State Senator Brian Crain, the author of the Oklahoma bill, “…said the measure will not outlaw abortion because the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, is still on the books.” However, after reading SB-1433 (and there is little more to it than what I have quoted), I do not see how Senator Crain can honestly say that the measure would not outlaw abortion. I also do not see how, since Sections ‘2’ and ‘C’ above seem to be contradicted by Section ‘E’, this law would be enforceable. If it is unenforceable, then what exactly is the point of the legislation in the first place?

Similarly-worded “personhood” legislation is pending in Virginia (SB-484.) This bill includes an “informed consent” requirement, which, in plain English, “Requires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging…”

Any woman who has undergone ultrasound imaging for other gynecological reasons knows that it is an invasive, often painful and humiliating procedure, involving a large cold probe and lengthy poking around in one’s internal private parts. Although the excuse for mandating this procedure is to “determine gestation age”, it is a completely unnecessary requirement for a woman about to have an abortion, unless one makes the ridiculous assumption that no woman has any idea when she got pregnant.

It seems that the sole purpose of these measures is to intimidate women seeking legal abortions by placing as many hurdles as possible in their way. It is remarkable that the same people who are vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act (spuriously referred to as “Obamacare”) as “big government” and “putting Federal bureaucracy between a doctor and a patient” are more than willing to have the State do exactly the same thing that they decry.

Looking at the Republican Presidential candidates’ field, it now seems that Rick Santorum, who opposes even contraception due to his religious beliefs, is the front-runner. This should frighten every woman of child-bearing age who does not want her reproductive rights diminished.

I was pleased to find that a group exists called Republican Majority for Choice, whose principles seem to be more in keeping with traditional moderate Republican values. From their website:

“The Republican Majority for Choice is an organization of Republican men and women… who believe in our Party’s traditional principles of individual liberty, strong national security and sound economic reason. We endorse the ‘big tent’ philosophy of inclusion and tolerance on social issues.”
“We support the protection of reproductive rights, including the full range of reproductive options. We believe that personal and medical decisions are best made between a woman, her doctor and her family and out of the hands of government. We are deeply concerned with direction of our Party if it continues to endorse a social agenda that is both intrusive and alienating. Our Party is naively discounting its mainstream members for those who represent the extreme right and believe it is their way or no way.”

This is what Republicans USED to stand for; why have so many of them strayed so far to the extreme right? For a party which touts itself as the party of personal freedom and small government, this interference in women’s lives and basic privacy should be against everything they supposedly believe.

Parts 2 and 3 to be posted shortly…

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

Leftside Annie: We Are All Chattel Now: A Hard Look at Women’s Rights

Natalie Behring-Chisholm/Stringer/Getty Images

Cross-posted from Leftside Annie’s blog, Welcome to the Leftside.

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world.” ~ Hillary Clinton

She’s right, you know. Extremists all over the world have moved heaven and earth to control women, and they continue to do so to this day.

We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg here in the United States, where the current crop of rightwing extremists are vowing to push women back to the early 1900′s, when birth control was illegal. Margaret Sanger, who saw her own mother die at the age of 50 after 18 pregnancies in 22 years, took up the cause of contraception and spent years crusading for the right of women to have control over their own bodies and not just serve as walking, talking incubators. She was even arrested and tossed in jail for disseminating information about contraception, which at the time was considered “smut” and outlawed via the 1873 Comstock Act, which “criminalized publication, distribution, and possession of information about or devices or medications for “unlawful abortion or contraception.”

We’ve come a long way since then. Unfortunately, the extremist right is trying to push us back in time to the days when women died by the thousands at the hands of back-alley abortionists. Since abortion is still illegal in many countries world-wide, the WHO (World Health Organization) reports that approximately 68,000 women die as a result of illegal abortions every year, and the number of women suffering from long-term complications from illegal abortions is staggeringly high as well, as many as 7 million women, who end up with sepsis, hemorrhages and internal injuries.

Men controlling women doesn’t stop there. In many Muslim countries, the lives of women are even more restricted and often dangerous or even fatal. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, “honor killings” are becoming more common every day, as these countries sink deeper into the morass of war and chaos. The Taliban, an extremist Islamist political group enforces its strict interpretation of Sharia law, which puts extreme limitations on the rights of women to move freely, to dress, to marry, to receive an education, to drive a car or ride a bicycle. It even prohibits a woman from wearing high heels, because it may “excite” a man. Women may not appear in public without a male relative, and must be fully veiled from head to toe in a restrictive garment called a burqa, which is essentially a very large bag that covers the entire woman, with the exception of a small section of mesh at eye level through which the woman is expected to navigate.

In these countries, another atrocity against women is on the rise: acid attacks, which men in India and Southeast Asia use as a form of revenge on a woman for refusing their sexual advances, proposals of marriage or demands for a dowry. The statistics are alarming: 80% of acid attacks are against women, and 70% of those attacks are carried out on women and girls under the age of 18. In countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, religious fanatics use acid attacks to enforce the strict Islamic dress code for women – if they consider a woman to be improperly dressed or immodest, acid thrown at her face is a method to ensure that women know the penalty for immodest behavior. Acid attacks have also been used against schoolgirls, because these religious fanatics do not believe that women should be educated. These men throw hydrochloric acid or sulphuric acid in the faces of these women and girls, maiming and often blinding or even killing them.

Please read the rest of Leftside Annie’s post at her blog.  You won’t be sorry!

Sunday Roast: A Slut Manifesto

(Mother Jones)

Dear Reader, if you are a woman, do you think you could never be branded a “slut?”  You dress in a manner society has deemed proper, your hair properly lovely, your language is appropriate, you aren’t sleeping around (or at least you’re not talking about it).  Do you think all of that will prevent you from being christened with the “slut” label?

Well, dream on!  Look at Sandra Fluke:  She’s a third year law student at Georgetown University, looks pretty “normal,” and she was well-spoken in her testimony before a Democratic committee hearing (since she wasn’t allowed to testify in Darrell Issa’s hearing).  But she put a toe over an invisible line, in that she pissed off the head of the Republican party, namely, Rush Limbaugh.  It wasn’t that she really said anything outrageous; the problem was that she forgot her place.  Don’t ever think something like this can’t happen to you.  You’re a woman, aren’t you?

If you’re a “good” woman, don’t kid yourself. It means you’ve spent your life and will continue to spend your life calibrating your appearance, speech and behaviour so that you are not a slut. By not acknowledging how the word is used you are embracing its power over you and other girls and women. And you will pass that corrupt and misguided abuse of power on to your daughters and mine. That’s because you know, deep down, that at any point that word can be used against you. Every woman is a slut waiting to happen. Women who abhor the word, find it vulgar, and fear it, the ones who slut-shame others, gain a little bit of power by participating in a system that denigrates them.

No, Rush Limbaugh, you will not succeed in “slut-shaming” us back into your framework of what it means to be a woman.  The time is past for that sort of behavior by women, no matter what our political persuasion, thank you very much.  You’ve blathered on quite enough, and now the power of social media will take you down several notches, if not make you completely disappear from the public airwaves.

Here’s Soraya Chemaly’s “Slut Manifesto”:

BECAUSE we know what’s best for us and yes, we do “deserve better”
BECAUSE we know that we are more than our wombs
BECAUSE we believe no double standards, including sexual ones, should exist
BECAUSE we believe we have the right to control our own reproduction
BECAUSE we will not be complicit in our own oppression by conforming to perversely-constructed rules about how women and men should behave
BECAUSE we understand basic science, embrace diversity, and are part of the modern world
BECAUSE we believe that how we dress does not give a man the right to rape a woman, spit on a female child or publicly strip another human being to humiliate them
BECAUSE we will not be silenced by bullies and thugs and will speak openly, politically and with conviction about important issues that affect us in the public space
BECAUSE we are justifiably angry
BECAUSE we, and the men who think as we do, are the future and will transform this planet

We will speak, write, march, run for office and vote.

That about covers the situation.

In the words of the great author, Rebecca West:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

This is our daily open thread — If we don’t buy into their bullshit, they can’t continue to spread it around.

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.