Standing Up for Women’s Rights

Let’s put this nonsense to bed forever. If the opportunity comes up to stand up for women’s rights – the only moral reaction is to seize that opportunity and fight to win. Failing to do so is not shrewd, playing to the middle, or anything other than weakness.

Digby:

For the sake of victims of domestic violence, VAWA should be reauthorized as soon as possible, but Democrats need to remember that we all know they’re in the midst of a tough election contest, too. Fight the good fight for women, but please, leave the noble posturing at home.

That’s right, it’s a tough election fight and the last thing Democrats need is to look like all they care about is a bunch of whiny bitches. Let’s not lose our heads here. 

Believe me, this is not an uncommon reaction. How do I know this? Because I’ve been watching this go down for my entire adult life. Any time “women’s issues” start to become prominent, a certain kind of liberal male gets very nervous. The stuff I heard during the 1992 “year of the woman” election was enough to curl my hair. And I see no reason to believe anything’s changed. I’ve already seen plenty of evidence that it hasn’t.

This is a noble fight. Advising Democrats to pretend it isn’t kills your credibility.

Fighting Religious Tyranny

Blog Against Theocracy

We need to step up our fight against religious tyranny, for there are surely those fighting as hard as they can on theocracy’s behalf.

The politically dominant expression (and face) of faith in this country is that of conservative Christianity.  And conservative Christians are in battle mode over their perceived right to force their religion on Americans.  Attempts to portray themselves as the victims only makes sense in that they are weakening.    To paraphrase Mike Gronstal’s incredible daughter(via),  they don’t get that they’ve lost.  Maintaining love segregation is a position held by the old and the fearful.  Men and women who clutch onto their bibles tightly in the presence of unbelievers, and who are only comfortable to the extent that they can force their peers to adhere to their own religious laws.

That this flies in the face of the letter and spirit of our constitution means nothing to them.  Theirs is a single-minded pursuit that allows no room for observation of facts or the inclusion of reason.

Fortunately ours is a resistance to religious tyranny that allows no room for pessimism or blindness.  Rather than fight for control, we stand up for freedom.  For all the Christians who wear their faith on their neighbor’s sleeve, there are those who truly embody the noble spirit of love and humility.  And that is why this is a fight that will go to those who value love.

But no fight is sure until the ending bell tolls.  We must engage in the practical optimism of committment and steel ourselves to see this battle through to victory.  And be certain that the anti-love crowd will surely to step up their attacks (mostly by ratcheting up the crazy) in the coming years.  For example, ironically named NationForMarriage (aka NOM NOM NOM) has a video attacking gay marriage by suggesting it is in fact an attack on conservative Christians and their own faith.

Irritating, no?  So how should we respond?

I think there are two immediately clear approaches.  One is satire that cuts close to the bone.  An idea behind NOM’s deliciously innacurate ad is that public schools teaching kids gay marriage is ok is somehow wrong.  We can run a satirical using impact and extension.  The impact ad would go like this:

Teacher: “Everyone, during the last week of parent teacher conferences, we found out Billy’s parents are both men!”

(Flash to a surprised and slightly embarrassed Billy)

“Gay marriage is morally wrong.  His parents are sinners.”

(Billy slinks below his desk)

“Feel free to bully him during recess.”

(Billy gulps and looks at a nearby, larger kid with a mean look on his face).

“Next up, Rachel!  I hear your parents are Jewish, and are therefore going to hell?”

(Cut to the slogan “Church and State: They Belong Together”).

The extension ad would go like this:

Concerned Parent: “Do you want schools teaching your kids about gay marriage?”

Concerned Parent: “Just how many other non Christian ideas might your kids be subjected to?”

Concerned Parent: “Sex before marriage is ok?  The Bible isn’t 100% true?  The world wasn’t created by God?  Not believing in Jesus is ok?”

Concerned Parent: “Where will it end?”

(Cut: “Put the Christ Back in Schoolchrist”)

The other approach to satire is to go for the throat of their interpretation of Christianity itself.  We can start by advocating and adgitating to give liberal and moderate Christians a voice in the national dialogue on faith.  Too often the only people allowed to speak for Christianity in the public square are conservative Christians.  A good next step would be to bring discussion of religion’s rationals and merits into the public square.  This means more discussions not just of whether or not to be religious (and finally including the nonreligious), but internal religious discussions of what it means to be a Christian brought out into mainstream discourse.  When all we have are conservatives controlling what we are allowed to talk about, we’ll get nowhere.  There is so much more to the disccusion of what religion means and what we can get out of it.

As a part of this effort we need to make an effort to give the 15% of Americans who have no religious affiliation a very public political voice.  This means more elected officials, more voices in the media, and inclusion in discussions of faith’s role in public life.  It means aggressively revealing and debating public officials who treat unbelievers as social deviants.  We need to start including the non religious in inter religious efforts to promote understanding.  For example, a local interfaith dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews needs to include Humanists!  We need to get those who do not believe in God, or in Scriptures, or just in organized Religion into the light so religious Americans can realize “hey, they aren’t that scary after all”.  We need to make clear that the 15% with no affiliation are not all atheists, but include Americans who believe in God but don’t adhere to holy books (like myself), and Americans who believe in Scripture don’t take kindly to organized religion.  Each of these groups needs to be seen and heard.  We need to give the non religious the voice we are so adamantly denied.

To sum up, we have every reason to feel optimistic, but now is the time to step strongly forward.  We should use sharp humor as our primary weapon, and work to change the rhetorical landscape to include more traditionally excluded voices (liberal and moderate Christians, the non religious, etc).

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(blog against theocracy logo author)

Palin is McCain’s Weakpoint

Pressure is building on Palin, and McCain has nowhere to go as she brings his campaign down from the inside (FiveThirtyEight):

It’s important to reinforce what Nate wrote Sunday night. Not gonna happen. It would be overt surrender. As most of you know, I’ve been on the road for the past three weeks, so far visiting at least a dozen McCain campaign offices in six battleground states as well as Palin’s first solo rally in Carson City, Nevada. If McCain dumps Palin, it is over.

McCain is incredibly vulnerable on his VP pick.  Her interviews with Katie Couric have revealed a politician who’d readily cheat off Bush in an exam.  As the electorate begins to fret over McCain’s health, the second in line for the throne is reminding people how much worse it can get.

Palin is last-ditch effort to win over religious conservatives at all costs.  And while her singular focus on Roe might help with that crowd at the expense of socially liberal conservatives and independents, the sheer intensity of her faith and its clear impact on her governing might push many religious conservatives away.  Is it any wonder a young earth creationist rejects global warming?  Are we surpised a woman who’se church persecutes people for suspected witchcraft might support fascist or theorcatic governing?

McCain has made a politically fatal choice, and the first debate will drive that home with voters.  McCain threw a wild punch and now he’s wide open.  Democrats need to close in for the knock-out.

Analyzing Governor Sarah Palin

If we were to sum up McCain’s politics since 2000 a single word would suffice: hypocrasy.  The same can be said of Governor Sarah Palin.  She was picked primarily to shore up support in the conservative Christian community.  Because of this, I don’t think either of her scandals around pregnancy will really hit home (or cause McCain to drop her).

On the one hand, she may have faked her 5th pregnancy for the sake of her daughter.  The same daughter who is now pregnant and plans to have the child and marry the father.  The key here is that both pregnancies led to a birth, and I see that playing very well with the anti-choice crowd.  Life isn’t about perfection, its about making the right choices with what you are given.  And while the rest of the US looks on in shock, I’m willing to be the conservative Christian community will look on in admiration.  In their view Bristol Palin shouldn’t have any moral choice other than caryring to term, and thus her mother’s efforts to hide the first pregnancy, and her determination to carry through with the second, are examples of her pro-life position in action when it hits close to home.  That can only engender trust that she is completely pro-life.  Add in her support of creationism, and she seems like a great choice to cater to the religious right.

So that takes care of the religious base.  But Governor Palin brings more to the table for McCain, and not all of it is beneficial for the Republican Presidential campaign.  She’s supposed to be a reformer, a paragon of principled politics.  Turns out she is in the middle of an investigation for sketchy firings of State Troopers for personal reasons.  Alaskan newspapers openly question whether she’s fit for the position.  (Not that the McCain camp would have known this, it seems like they never checked local papers to vet her in the first place!)

This is the kind of stuff that can upset anyone, but particularly independents (whom Obama appeals strongly too, and McCain needs to win the Presidency).  It is here that his choice of Palin cuts him deep.  Because Palin isn’t just pro-life.  She’s crazy pro-life:

In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped.

Granting exceptions only if the mother’s life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, “I would choose life.”

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska’s rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies. But Palin’s position was palatable within the state’s largely Republican political circles.

You don’t need to be a feminist to see that this is a seriously fucked up position to take.  She is in fact, to sum things up, an extremist.  In addition to opposing abortion, she (edited the html to remove formatting and fix a link):

She supports teaching creationism in schools.
She denies global warming and opposed listing polar bears as an endangered species because it might prevent off-shore drilling.
Speaking of drilling, she supports drilling in ANWR.
I guess not surprising, Palin is in big oil’s pocket.

On top of it all her lack of experience makes McCain’s attacks on Obama look ridiculous by comparison.

She was essentially chosen to tackle three problems the McCain campaign faced.  How to get the religious right fired up, how to reinforce his appeal as a “maverick” and reformer, and how to somehow get former Clinton supporters to jump in.  I don’t see that happening:

I have a piece up at TAP:

Palin’s addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics — only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it’s akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.

Now would anyone really fall for that?  Yes of course they would:

As for Governor Palin, her supposed views on abortion and lack of national security credentials are supposed to make her unsuited for the office of the Vice Presidency, yet Barack Obama’s actual views on abortion and lack of national security credentials are supposed to make him perfectly suited for the Presidency.

Supposed views on abortion?  (Riverdaughter has really outed herself as a Republican on this one.)  An actual Clinton supporter would never vote for someone with the positions on reproductive choice, and the environment Palin has.  (Nor would they feel much affinity for a politician who called Hillary whiny.)

Governor Palin is sure to boost McCain’s rating with the religious right, and if he holds on, might just be enough to keep that piece of the Republican party from drifting off.  However that comes are the expense of independent voters and disaffected Clinton voters.  He couldn’t be doing more to turn them off.  It also might come at the expense of Republicans who have had enough of lobbyists and rampant corruption.  Governor Palin is not clean when it comes to lobbyists:

Palin’s relationship with Alaska’s senior senator may be one of the more complicated aspects of her new position as Sen. John McCain’s running mate; Stevens was indicted in July 2008 on seven counts of corruption.

Palin, an anti-corruption crusader in Alaska, had called on Stevens to be open about the issues behind the investigation. But she also held a joint news conference with him in July, before he was indicted, to make clear she had not abandoned him politically.

Stevens had been helpful to Palin during her run for governor, swooping in with a last moment endorsement. And the two filmed a campaign commercial together to highlight Stevens’s endorsement of Palin during the 2006 race.

Given all of this, there is understandable speculation that Palin will be dropped from the ticket (perhaps in favor of Mitt Romney).  I highly doubt this, as dropping his VP pick would be a disasterous admission of poor judgment and weakness by McCain.  That is a perception he cannot afford to reinforce.  Additionally given his stubborness, I doubt he’d be able to bring himself to admit he’s made a strategic error.

Choosing Sarah Palin as his VP may have cost McCain the election, and there’s no way for him to back out without damaging his chances further.

Obama Ought to Debate

I know there’s a trategy behind pushing every advantage one can take, including air time, as far one can.  But Obama ought to agree to debate John McCain.  The man is sharp, eloquent, affable, and connected to reality.  Engaging in debates would only affirm his strength.  Instead by staying out he’s left Republicans with an easy in:

Barak Obama has backed away from John McCain’s challenge for a series of town hall debates, and will likely only go through with the standard three debates in the fall. Although this steams me a bit it is probably a smart move for Obama, who has shown repeatedly how easily he can slip up without a teleprompter or press (e.g. Obama supporter [in large part]) manufactured questions.

When they plainly don’t have one.  Where does Obama slip up on sans teleprompter?  Its easy to show where McCain does:

Agreeing to debate would just close one weakness in exchange for exposing a strength.

Accountability Means The Past Counts

One of the greatest travesty’s of modern rhetorical warfare is the way we’ve let the past become irrelevant.  Any crime committed more than a year ago becomes “old news”, and bringing it back up again forces us to carry heavy labels like “bitter” or “sore loser”.

To truly embrace the radical act of holding our leaders accountable for their actions we must forgo any sort of impact those charges might have on us.  They are false on their face and ought to be banished with an economical expression of scorn.  Our time and energy are best used letting the barbs of polite society slide by while we go right for the throat.  In the case of actions we deeply oppose, such as starting a war based on lies, or stealing the 2000 election, we cannot and must not drop the ball.  Every power player involved on the wrong team must be held accountable.

This is especially true when politicians refuse to admit to their mistakes and proceed to repeat them.

The obvious casualties of the past’s death as a valid political topic have been: confidence in our electoral system, separation of powers, freedom of speech, habeus corpus, and a host of other topics that form the backbone of a free society.  But at the very core the loss is felt when we are unable or unwilling to make effective arguments when the dogs of the past rear their heads anew to tear at the flesh of our country.

Holding a politician to the fire for their crimes and misdeeds is powerful political theater and makes for a damning counter-argument.  If we want to win, we must hold accountable those who abuse their power.  If we want to hold anyone accountable at all, the past must count.