Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Speaking Truth to Stupid: Rape Ignorance and Voter Suppression

Okay, my “strength and fervor” have been replenished since my last post and I feel strongly motivated to comment on two outrageous trends within the Republican Party – policies and practices which, God, common sense, and civic participation willing – will help defeat them at every level come November.  I’m referring specifically to this week’s outrageous allegations by Missouri senatorial contender Todd Akin that rape victims cannot get pregnant from rape, and so no exception is needed in anti-abortion laws (and efforts) to permit rape (and incest) victims to have abortions.  I’m equally appalled and downright terrified by ongoing nationwide Voter Suppression efforts.  It would appear that real freedom is in real trouble in 2012.

In the rape matter, we have another unfathomable example of how Science Ignorance and Religiously Influenced Science can have a devastating impact on legislative efforts to address urgent matters.  It’s in the same scientific class as “climate change is a hoax” and “wind and solar power can’t work because what happens when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing?”  This stuff is dangerously dumb.  But the latest attack in the War On Women (which, of course, is just a phony Liberal construct) is a horrendous combination of gross ignorance and stunning insensitivity.

Prior to the 20th century, Western Medicine actually asserted that when a woman’s uterus was not properly engaged in what it was meant for – incubating a fetus – it literally floated around inside her body, contributing to otherwise unexplainable female melancholia.  Now, Akin and his ilk are reviving a long-held anti-choice belief that in instances of “legitimate” or “forcible” rape (as opposed to fun and welcome rape?), a woman’s body shuts down and prevents pregnancy.  Her “juices don’t flow” and her “tubes tighten,” they say.  Oy, vey! 

Therefore, exceptions to anti-abortion laws must be eliminated, say these cavemen, because willfully fornicating women who get themselves pregnant through pleasure could easily lie about rape or incest.  Anti-abortion proponents aren’t going to let that loophole threaten the Personhood of the Unborn when “science” can “prove” rape doesn’t cause pregnancy.  I guess this will show the approximately 34,000 rape victims annually who get pregnant through rape who’s boss!

Now instead of science, one of the worst periods in American History – the era of Jim Crow and poll taxes – comes into play in regard to Voter Suppression.  Republicans at both the state and federal levels would have us believe that voter fraud is a huge problem that must be addressed with stringent ID and voting hours laws to ensure that people who are not legitimately entitled to vote cannot be registered and get anywhere near a voting both.

The fact that over the past umpteen years there have been more bungee-jumping accidents than incidents of voter fraud doesn’t enter into this.  Conservatives would have us believe that Voter Fraud is a real and urgent problem just like seeing the President's college transcripts and a real birth certificate, since the one he provided was obviously a forgery.  Accordingly, Voter Suppression laws are now in effect in 38 states – and they have a direct and purposeful impact on the young, the elderly, Blacks and Hispanics, and the poor of all ages and ethnicities – in other words, people who are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans.

It’s not unreasonable to require first-time voters to present some form of identification when they register.  I vaguely recall that when I registered in the early 1970s, I presented a phone bill and my Social Security card – which showed where I lived and that I was on the government grid.  I had no problem then and have had no problem in the 40-odd years since.  Now, many states are asking for birth certificates (which many people no longer have or never had – and getting them, if available, costs time and money) and, more specifically, photo IDs.

In suburban and rural America, most people have a driver’s license.  But in urban areas, that’s often not the case.  Many students have school-issued photo IDs – but in some states, like Texas, a student ID isn’t acceptable; neither are company-issued photo IDs – don’t ask me why.  States are requiring government issued photo IDs – such as passports (most Americans don’t have one), a driver’s license, or a state-issued photo ID that one can get through the Motor Vehicle Bureau whether or not you’re a driver – but this too costs time and money.  Many working and poor people don’t have one or the other or both, nor do they have the means of transportation to get where they need to go for this.

It is sufficiently distressing that half of the country doesn’t even bother to vote, whether or not they have the “appropriate” ID to register.  To make it deliberately difficult, if not impossible, for many people who want to vote to do so is obscene and totally contrary to what this country supposedly stands for.  It is estimated that up to four million Americans could be disenfranchised by these Voter Suppression initiatives.  Democrats, Independents, Liberals and Progressives are up in arms.  Republicans/Conservatives are quietly letting political shenanigans take their course.  After all, if they let everyone vote, there’s a good chance that Batman and Robin will lose to President Obama – and, as they have stated clearly and publicly, beating Obama is their primary objective.

Left to their devious, self-serving devices, Republicans stand a real chance of throwing Roe v Wade, the 1965 Voters Rights Act, Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, environmental protection, any attempts at gun control, the existence and strength of unions, gay rights & marriage, and all support for education, the arts & humanities, and public broadcasting, under the bus.  They say Obama has robbed Americans of their freedom – how and what, they don’t say.  But it’s clear that the Republicans can and will do some serious freedom robbing if we don’t stop them.  Make sure you register and vote – and speak up.  Nothing less than functional Democracy is at stake.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Silence From the Tower

In early May, I apologized for having been lax in my postings (to put it mildly), then promptly failed to post again until today, nearly three months to the day later.  It’s not that I’ve gotten tired of blogging (although I have, just a little…); I’ve just been rendered uncharacteristically speechless by recent/current political and social events – and as a result, feeling quite depressed.  I’ve been sleeping a lot (if I don’t get my 18 hours a day, I’m not good for anything).  I’ve been following the news and ignoring the news, trying to take rampant stupidity and craziness in stride and, now, successfully ignoring the Olympics (dull, insincere, pointless and expensive).

I don’t want to just be the crazy, angry, disconnected aging lady in the Tower.  I’d like to sound a positive note, be a bit more uplifting – for myself and you.  I simply can’t think of much to be positive about.  Just today, I found out Gore Vidal and Maeve Binchy died this week.  That didn’t help.  As if the world’s day-to-day goings-on weren’t saddening enough.

So, while I haven’t been writing, I’ve been reading.  I’ve taken a good crack at Edgar Allan Poe for the first time.  No pleasure or guidance there.  I don’t feel too bad though; Mark Twain, one of Poe’s contemporaries, proclaimed him “unreadable,” so it’s not just me.  And since I’m trying to write a mystery (which is why I felt I should finally read Master Poe), I’ve been reading mysteries and reading about how to write mysteries, and I still can’t fully craft my heroine, let alone come up with a plot.  This is my first serious attempt at fiction.  My mother used to tell me I had a better ear for non-fiction, an assessment I took to heart since she was just a few credits shy of her Masters in literature – and after all, she was my Mommy.  I try not to think about that too much, but it keeps popping into my head.

I’ve been cooking and baking (the heat notwithstanding) and spending time with My Friend Television.  HBO’s Newsroom is great, but True Blood has gotten convoluted and silly.  I’ve watched the films Unstoppable and Contagion several times, for interesting reasons.  Unstoppable is about the courage that average people are capable of, which is heartening.  Contagion is about how vulnerable we are and how determined the planet is to get rid of a good many of us.  We call it virus, but to the planet, we’re the virus and the so-called virus is anti-bodies for the planet.  In my own way, I find that heartening, too; I’m rooting for the “virus.”  Last but not least, I finally saw Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and while I’ve enjoyed much of his post-New York work, this is a truly who-gives-a-fuck-about-these-privileged-uptight-people irritating movie.  Woody often reminds me that I’m a working-class free spirit – and I guess that’s heartening, too.

However…I’m trying to remember that I’m fortunate to be who and where I am, and no matter what my troubles may be, there are millions of others coping with far worse.  I’m trying to remember that this campaign will end and I’ll have to cope with the outcome, whatever it is, just like everyone else.  I’m trying to appreciate clear, sunny days, even though I sleep through most of them, and bright summer flowers, even though I haven’t seen any in person.  And the Stones are going to tour again soon; if that’s not a lesson in strength and perseverance, I don’t know what is!

I’m trying.  More soon – as soon as I rally my strength and fervor.