Open Thread Plus Bites & Pieces

I’m still catching up from last week’s news and propaganda but I did read a couple of pieces that I thought were pretty interesting.

This was from the AP Friday.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Abortion is still legal but getting one in many states will be difficult if laws passed this year are upheld by the courts. In a march through conservative legislatures, anti-abortion Republicans passed a wave of new restrictions that would sharply limit when a woman could terminate a pregnancy and where she could go to do so.

The push brought the anti-abortion movement closer to a key milestone, in which the procedure would become largely inaccessible in the three-fifths of the country controlled by Republicans even if still technically legal under Roe vs. Wade.

But rather than continuing to roll across the GOP heartland in synch with the pro-life movement’s plan, the effort may now be hitting a wall. The obstacle comes not from opposing Democrats but from GOP leaders who believe pressing further is a mistake for a party trying to soften its harder edges after election losses last year.

The resisting Republicans include governors and top legislators in more than a half-dozen states, including some of the largest and most politically competitive in the party’s 30-state coalition. They are digging in to stop the barrage of abortion proposals, hoping to better cultivate voters not enamored with the GOP’s social agenda.

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This one’s a little long but a fascinating read on our 40 year war against marijuana.  I don’t indulge but it’s pretty clear, I think, that it’s time to change our policies.  I loved this Nixon quote.

President Nixon had already made up his mind. In May 1971 he told H.R. Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement about marijuana. Can I get that out of this sonofa-bitching, uh, domestic council? I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.” And Nixon told Shafer directly, “You’re enough of a pro to know that for you to come out with something that would run counter to what the Congress feels and what the country feels, and what we’re planning to do, would make your commission just look bad as hell.”

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I’m pretty sure this isn’t going anywhere but it’s the thing I’ve been talking about since 2009…………..jeeze.  Medicare for all.  Here’s the money quote that makes it dead on arrival.

“Paradoxically, by expanding Medicare to everyone we’d end up saving billions of dollars annually,” he said. “We’d be safeguarding Medicare’s fiscal integrity while enhancing the nation’s health for the long term.”

Friedman said the plan would be funded by maintaining current federal revenues for health care and imposing new, modest tax increases on very high income earners. It would also be funded by a small increase in payroll taxes on employers, who would no longer pay health insurance premiums, and a new, very small tax on stock and bond transactions.

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And since we have peppers coming out of our ears (garden) here I thought I’d post my Baked Jalapeno Poppers recipe.

I use a combination of whatever peppers we have in the garden.  I can usually get about 15 to 18 poppers from this recipe.

Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membrane.  I like to leave part of the stem on.

Combine:

8 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 cup mozarella, jack or pepper jack cheese

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp or less cayenne

Stuff peppers with cheese mixture.

Bowl one:  1/2 cup seasoned flour

Bowl two:  2 eggs

Bowl three:  1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use plain bread crumbs and season them myself)

Seasoning:  salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and Mexican oregano to taste.  I just wing it and add to both flour and bread crumbs.

Roll peppers in flour, then dip in egg and finally dredge with bread crumbs.  Refrigerate several hours and then bake in a 350 oven for about 1/2 hour……………..yummy

Hump Day Craziness

I read this yesterday and it lead me to some interesting questions.  Well, they were interesting to me anyway.  I’ve been fascinated with the different factions of the Republican Party and the increased number of Libertarians who primarily seem to vote Republican when there is no Libertarian around to vote for.  This piece mentions the possible break between Evangelical Christian Republicans and conservative Catholics over the new Pope’s recent comments regarding gays and poverty.  It appears to me that Libertarians have also broken with the Christian wing of the Republican Party over many social issues.   I’ve learned from our discussions here that Libertarians seem to be for both open borders and abortion, in some cases “on demand”, even I don’t believe in either of those suggestions, so is that to the left of me?

I guess I’m wondering where all this will eventually lead.  How hard will it be for Libertarians to vote for a Republican of the evangelical sort?  Is it just a case of voting for the lesser of two evils in a Presidential election, or even a local election?  When do your votes and principles collide?  I swallowed my objections and voted for Obama because of health care, and a couple of other accomplishments I supported,  rather than third party, which is what I normally do.  A big fat wasted vote either way really.

My thoughts rambled from the original piece but I wanted you guys to see how it got me thinking.  I’m finding it somewhat interesting that I tend to vote social issues and for the preservation of things such as Social Security, Medicare and other safety net protections.  There doesn’t seem to be that much difference to me in the reality of economic policy between the parties or for that matter even foreign policy now that many conservatives seem to be more isolationist than they were in the past, but I’m guessing the Libertarians/Conservatives here don’t agree and vote their pocket book, or is it all big vs small government and the demolition of the safety net that motivates y’all.  I’m curious.  It seems to me that the differences between us are more along the lines of priorities.  I think we all value similar things but just place more weight on some than others.  Or maybe I’m delusional.

I think it is a safe bet that if Pope Francis I lives more than a few years that Catholics will soon be kicked out of the Republican Party and resume their previous status as the semi-black race. The reason is simple. Pope Francis I is on the opposite side of the political divide from Pope John Paul II. The Polish pope was a Cold Warrior who basically took the Reagan-Thatcher line on left-leaning political movements in the Third World, including in Latin America. The Argentinian Jesuit pope isn’t a communist, but he advocates for the poor without any apology.

For now, conservative American Catholics are trying to parse the distinction, but it isn’t going to work. They are not going to be able to embrace The Slum Pope who wants to “make a mess” of the established order within the Church by encouraging young people to shake up the dioceses and force them to embrace the convicts, drug addicts, and the truly impoverished.

Our country is uniquely unable to appreciate this change specifically because our right wing succeeded in categorizing the left in the Third World (and, to an extent, even in Europe) as communist in sympathy. The right assumes that the Vatican is an ally in all things, but that is no longer even close to being the case. On so-called family values, the papacy is still reliably conservative, even if it can’t be counted on anymore to demonize homosexuality. But on economic issues, the papacy is now a dedicated enemy of the Republican Party.

Before long, the right will have no choice but to break from the pope, and then their opposition will grow to a point that the alliance between Catholics and evangelicals will not hold.

There sure has been a lot of talk lately about women.  I’ve been troubled by some of it as it seems we’re going backwards in some respects.  There are too many stories to link but between all the states enacting TRAP laws, all the strange definitions of rape, the mayor of San Diego’s bizarre harassment and who has and has not shielded him from investigation, the treatment of rape victims in the military,  USC redefining rape as not rape if there is no ejaculation (my personal favorite), who is and isn’t hot enough to either run for office or other more nefarious activities, etc. etc. that I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on.  Maybe nothing ever really changed.  I’m concerned that so much of it has become political football.  I thought this piece on the subtleties of how a woman can succeed in the financial industry was pretty troubling.

Our youngest is working in another male dominated industry and is constantly trying to determine how to proceed on her merits while most of the men are attracted to her looks.  She has a few male mentors who seem to take her seriously so she’s focusing on that and trying to stay away from the guys who want to date her and stay focused on her work.  She’s discovering it’s an interesting dynamic that has many challenges.  She faced numerous challenges as a grad student but that was nothing compared to what she’s dealing with now.

It doesn’t help when other women give this kind of advice.

New details have emerged from a bias lawsuit filed by three former employees of Merrill Lynch against the company, which alleges that during training they were instructed to read a book called “Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics From a Woman at the Top” and emulate its advice.

The tips in the book, published by New York Magazine’s The Cut, are truly shocking. “I play on [men’s] masculine pride and natural instincts to protect the weaker sex,” says a section of the book advising women on how to get men to do their work. “Unless he is morbidly obese, there is no man on earth who won’t puff up at this sentence: Wow, you look great. Been working out?” suggests a portion on diffusing tense situations.

On a lighter note the Anthony Weiner story is in another realm altogether in my opinion.  I guess I’d like to know why his wife is standing by him but it’s none of my business really.  Otherwise it seems to be a case of “consenting adults” which doesn’t bode well for his marriage or his candidacy but otherwise is just more creepily entertaining than anything else.

I wish I could share all the “Carlos Danger” jokes my husband has come up with, they’re hysterical, and just pop out of his mouth at the most inconvenient times.  He’s a true comic and I’ve thanked my lucky stars more than once that he makes me laugh.  Anyway we’ve had a lot of fun at Anthony Weiner’s expense around here.  I saw this and couldn’t resist.

Anthony Weiner Forever

Weiner forever

TEXAS—–OMG

I’ve been out of touch the last couple of days due to network issues with wordpress but you’ll be happy to hear I’m back….hah.  And contrary to popular opinion Scott isn’t the one who’s always bringing up abortion……I am.  You might be asking yourself, why?  I’ll tell you why, because there are at least 10 states where the legal right to an abortion has been compromised to the point where they’re threatening the health of women who are in their reproductive years.

If what’s happening in Kansas is true I think it’s one of the most outrageous backwards slide in women’s healthcare that I’ve heard of recently and that’s balanced against the fact that I just found out we’re sterilizing female prisoners apparently against their will here in CA still.

Kansas

The first is a troubling provision to  redefine what constitutes a medical emergency so that pregnant women experiencing life-threatening complications — including hemorrhaging, infection and ruptured ectopic pregnancies – would be forced to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining an emergency abortion. After signing the legislation that would imperil the lives of pregnant women in medical emergencies, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback remarked: ”All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful. With this, we continue to build this culture of life in our state.”

And that brings me to Texas from the same link above:

And while Texas’ current battle over reproductive rights has grabbed unprecedented national attention, this isn’t the state’s first rodeo. During the 2011 legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed a two-year budget cutting $73 million from family planning programs. In 2012, Gov. Rick Perry dissolved the state’s partnership with the federal Women’s Health Program and forfeited millions in Medicaid funding for low-income women’s healthcare. Republican lawmakers were unabashed about the reasoning behind such extreme measures, which was, as state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, openly  acknowledged to “defund the ‘abortion industry.”

Perhaps, as many conservatives claim, there are more women out there who support these restrictive measures than I imagine there are, and so I guess we’ll see what happens now that the GOP has picked abortion as their social issue of the decade since they’ve lost the war on gay marriage.

The occupation of the Texas state capitol by angry women caught the national imagination, perhaps due to the drama of Davis’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment, which immediately went viral over the social networks. Similar mass protests by women have taken place elsewhere, too, including last week in Ohio — a pivotal presidential election state — where the Statehouse was crowded with women dissenters.

The importance of Davis’s stand, however, is the way it has inspired a nationwide discussion about the creeping encroachment on abortion rights that has been taking place without widespread media coverage in statehouses across the nation.

And I read somewhere yesterday that a pro-life protest in Austin with about 1,000 protesters bussed in from out of state was over run with over 5,000 local women and men protesting the upcoming abortion bill that’s sure to pass the TX legislature and be signed by the Governor.  I submit that this legislation is quite possibly happening not only against the will of the people but that the Texas GOP will pay a price.  Here’s a poem an abortion activist by the name of Katie Heim read yesterday which seems oddly appropriate for Texas.

If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights,
You would ride on buses and fight all the fights.
If my vagina was a gun, you would treat it with care,
You wouldn’t spill all its secrets because, well, why go there.
If my vagina was a gun, you’d say what it holds is private
From cold dead hands we could pry, you surely would riot.
If my vagina was a gun, its rights would all be protected,
no matter the body count or the children affected.
If my vagina was a gun, I could bypass security,
concealed carry laws would ensure I’d have impunity.
If my vagina was a gun, I wouldn’t have to beg you,
I could hunt this great land and do all the things men do.
But my vagina is not a gun, it is a mightier thing,
With a voice that rings true making lawmakers’ ears ring.
Vaginas are not delicate, they are muscular and magic,
So stop messing with mine, with legislation that’s tragic.
My vagina’s here to demand from the source,
Listen to the voices of thousands or feel their full force.

And honestly, I keep thinking I’m done discussing the abortion issue, and then another state passes what I consider a life threatening restriction, or another Republican lawmaker makes a bone-headed statement and here I am again pointing it out.   I’m way beyond the point of caring about the issue personally, but as a woman, I think it’s important to keep the issue front and center as long as there are conservatives trying to undermine and reverse the right to abortion that women currently have to the extreme extent they’re doing it.

In the News Now

Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation

There was a lot of internet chatter about the above “GOP for a New Generation” report today.  Out of curiosity I decided to read it.  It was really interesting and while it doesn’t have much to do with our recent discussion of whether the Republican Party has moved right or not, I think it’s indicative of where they could use some improvement.

I happen to be the mother of young voters just outside of this under 30 age group, and because I’ve enjoyed watching their political views form so much, I thought this was a great study.

To be clear, in addition to the parts I’ve excerpted, they also polled economic matters, the size of government (interesting results there), the environment, and also discussed the use of social media and other sources of political news.

The following report assesses the findings from a variety of studies on young voters, including a new March 2013 survey conducted for the College Republican National Committee (CRNC), and makes recommendations about how Republicans can begin this work today.

We believe that Republicans can win young voters but that it will require a significantly different approach than has been used in recent elections.

Health Care

Health care remains a second-tier issue behind the economy and the national debt. In the August 2012 XG survey, only 8% of young voters said it was their top issue, and just 27% named “lowering health care costs and improving care” as one of their top two or three priorities in the March 2013 CRNC survey.

Nonetheless, the issue is at the top of the second tier in both surveys and came up frequently in our focus group research. In the August XG survey, young voters handed Democrats a heavy advantage on the issue, preferring their handling of health care to Republicans by a 63-37 margin. Some 41% thought things overall would be better as a result of Obama’s health care reform plan (versus to 32% who said things would be worse).

Many of the young people in our focus groups noted that they thought everyone in America should have access to health coverage. In the Spring 2012Harvard Institute of Politics survey of young voters, 44% said that “basic health insurance is a right for all people, and if someone has no means of paying for it, the government should provide it”; 23% disagreed.

Admittedly, there were concerns about the cost and quality of health care under the ACA but in general the young people gave Obama credit for trying.

Immigration

While immigration wasn’t a major issue it appeared it might be an issue that could turn a voter against a conservative candidate who they agreed with on taxes or other economic issues but disagreed with on immigration reform.

The position taken most frequently by young voters was that “illegal immigrants should have a path to earn citizenship,” chosen by35% of respondents. Closely behind this were the 30% who preferred the “enforcement first” strategy of securing the border and enforcing existing immigration laws. Some 19% chose “illegal immigrants should be deported or put in jail for breaking the law,” while another 17% took the position that “illegal immigrants should have a path to legal status but not citizenship.”On the issue of laws that “would allow illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college,” three out of four (75.3%) young adults agreed in an October 2012 poll conducted by CIRCLE. And young voters for the most part knew how the candidates in the election stood on that issue; in that same survey, 63% of respondents said that Barack Obama was the candidate who supported “allowing many illegal or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to remain in the country,” while only 3% said that was Mitt Romney’s position.

Abortion

This really surprised me; I knew it was pretty close but not quite this close.  In this case I wish Dems would alter their position a little to make room for a more tolerant culture of life position, but I repeat myself.

The results debunk the conventional wisdom on the issue and establish that not all “social issues” are viewed the same. Indeed, only 16% of young voters preferred that abortion be legal in all cases, while 32% said abortion should be legal “up to a certain point.” Combined, that comprises 48% who take a position leaning toward legality. On the other side, 37% felt abortion should be illegal with exceptions, and 14% thought abortion should always be illegal, making a combined 51% who lean toward prohibiting abortion. On this issue, there is small gender divide, with men in the survey actually tending to lean more pro-choice than women.

Where the Republican Party runs into trouble with young voters on the abortion issue is not necessarily in being pro-life. On the contrary, the Democratic Party’s position of pushing for abortion to be legal in all cases and at all times, including some recent laws around how to handle medical care for babies born alive during abortion procedures, is what is outside the norm of where young voters stand. Unfortunately for the GOP, the Republican Party has been painted – both by Democrats and by unhelpful voices in our own ranks – as holding the most extreme anti-abortion position (that it should be prohibited in all cases). Furthermore, the issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception.

In the words of one pro-life respondent, “The Planned Parenthood thing for me is not so much about abortion; it’s about counseling before you can get to that point, and I feel that that’s a big part of what they do, is contraception counseling and about being safe.”

Bingo

Gay Marriage

Perhaps no topic has gotten more attention with regards to the youth vote than the issue of gay marriage. And on this issue, the conventional wisdom is right: young people are unlikely to view homosexuality as morally wrong, and they lean toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Only 21% of young voters in the Spring 2012 Harvard Institute of Politics survey felt that religious values should play a more important role in government, and only 25% felt homosexual relationships were wrong. Young people nowadays are more likely than ever to know someone who is openly gay or lesbian, and that factor is correlated with attitudes supporting same-sex marriage.

Surveys have consistently shown that gay marriage is not as important an issue as jobs and the economy to young voters. Yet it was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP.

The conclusion of the report discusses five areas where they think the GOP can improve their chances to win over a larger percentage of the youth vote and they explain their methodology and whatnot.

I’m still working on an immigration post, just thought this was interesting and current considering all the references I read about it today on both sides of the political divide.

A Couple of Articles That May Be of Interest

I’m wading a bit into rocky waters with these two articles, but perhaps we can have a good discussion on this topic. I’m particularly interested in Michi and Okie’s thoughts on an article in The Atlantic discussing rape exceptions for abortions. Given our past difficulties in discussing abortion maybe Michi and Okie can send me their thoughts via email, but even if there is no discussion, I thought it was an interesting take on the subject.

For those who are not inclined to read the article, the author argues that were abortion to be made illegal, a rape exception would not really provide women with control over their bodies. She argues that any reproductive freedom from a rape exception would only by illusory because eventually some bureaucrat (possibly, if not probably, male) would likely have ultimate say over whether a particular woman qualified for the exception.

I must admit that I found the argument compelling with respect to its take on the fact that a rape exception would probably only make it seem like women still had some control. However, the article does ignore the more practical aspect of the rape exception, namely that a woman may not have to carry a rapist’s baby to term. Even if the decision is not entirely her own, there is obviously a benefit to the woman. The other thing the article ignores is what were to happen if there were no exception. What if the woman went on a hunger strike? What if she tried to hurt herself and/or the baby? Would the government intervene and force her to eat and deliver the baby? Would a jury convict a woman of murder if she killed the baby? Would physicians be required to report a miscarriage that they thought was a self-induced abortion? So many troubling questions.

This article, also from The Atlantic, talks about where racists tweets came from following Obama’s re-election. The results are both not at all surprising and surprising.

Republican War on Women (RWoW)

This deserves a thread of its own.

Google the phrase.

  1. Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP’s War on Women

    pol.moveon.org/waronwomen/

    Stop the Republican War on Women. Redefining rape. Attacking the right to choose. Belitting victims of violence. The Republicans are on a rampage attacking 

This is quite clearly a freighted political catchphrase, intended so by sources like MoveOn and HuffPo.  Like the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” it is intended to limit discussion of issues based on impugning motives.  Scott has been trying to make that point.

If we could define the Republican War on Women as the sum of these actions:

a failed conservative move to cut off U.S. government aid to Planned Parenthood + the Komen decision, since reversed + the attempted but failed roll back of contraception under employer health plans + the all male panel called to testify + the G’town student who was called a “slut” by Limbaugh + Santorum’s money guy’s “aspirin between the knees” comment + the vaginal insert sonogram, since abandoned in VA + the R opposition to extending the funding under the Violence against Women Act + personhood laws (thanks, Ashot), we could probably still talk about the cumulation without calling it war.

We could see it as R strategy to appeal to a fundamentalist base, that has become a bolder strategy as more and more of the active voting base of Rs claim fundamentalist religious principles, which often go far beyond the antipathy to abortion that many non-fundamentalists share.  We could see that fundamentalist faith actually does put women in a secondary role – this is true in all the Abrahamic religions.

We could see that some of the individual issues that have been tarred as part of the RWoW don’t derive their impetus from pandering to fundamentalist religion.  For example, some may derive from the desire to cut the budget.

We would not be surprised that moderate women would have no sympathy for any of the items I listed, and would be moving away from the Rs, unless some other set of issues took priority for them.

IMHO,  resisting the shorthand RWoW is worthwhile just in order to keep the issue conversation alive.  I think the same is true of other uses of the word “war” in a catchphrase intended to inflame emotions – like the WoD and the WoT.  It also cheapens the meaning of the word, fwiw.

Georgia Republican Compares Women to Cows and Pigs

This fellow wants to make it illegal to perform a medical procedure to remove a dead fetus from a woman if it’s past 20 weeks.

For pity’s sake. Then he contrasts forcing a woman to wait until she has a miscarriage to remove the dead fetus to cows and pigs delivering still born babies on the farm. Then:

Suggesting that if a cow or pig can give birth to a dead baby, then a woman should too was not enough for Rep. England though. He then delivered an anecdote to the chamber in which a young man who was apparently opposed to legislation outlawing chicken fighting said he would give up all of his chickens if the legislature simply took away women’s right to an abortion.

Yowza. My fellow southerners, endeavoring to prove all the stereotypes true, or perhaps understated.

 

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