Catholic Bishop William Lori, the Rev. Matthew Harrison, Dr. Ben Mitchell, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and Craig Mitchell are sworn in during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on February 16, 2012. (Photo: Luke Sharrett / The New York Times)
First of all, I want to wish you a happy birthday, and tell you how much I love you. For as long as I can remember, it has been you and me, in the world and for the world, even when that world has been against us. You taught me everything I know that is worth knowing. You are the strongest, smartest, bravest, most moral person I have ever known. You are woman, and boy howdy, have I heard you roar.
I grew up watching you pursue your career in a working world dominated by powerful men, and I remember all the times they tried to break you with their misogyny and sexism and belittling attitudes...and I remember you bulldozing them right out of the road: blade down, eyes flashing, talent ablaze and strength overpowering. That was you, is you, will always be you.
I know you pride yourself on being up on current events - it must be in the genes - but I wanted to make sure you are fully up to speed on what The Bastards have been up to lately, because they have been busy in a way I have never actually seen before in my life. Every part of what has been happening in American politics of late is entirely familiar, the stuff of old nightmares, but I have never experienced such a barrage of unrestrained hatred, filth and nonsense to compare with this. It's as if The Bastards took 100 years worth of anti-woman sentiment, condensed it into a dense nugget of hate-crack, and hit the pipe. Hard.
The only way to do this right is just to show you. The best place to start is "Democratic Women Boycott House Contraception Hearing After Republicans Prevent Women From Testifying."
This morning, Democrats tore into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration's new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Republicans oppose the administration's rule and have sponsored legislation that would allow employers to limit the availability of birth control to women.
Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that "As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration's actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness."
And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules' alleged infringement on "religious liberty," not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa's chairmanship an "autocratic regime."
A photograph of the witness table at this hearing has gone viral. You will note the utter and complete lack of women. As for Rep. Issa's decision to bar that one female witness from testifying, her name is Sandra Fluke, and this is what she would have said, had she been allowed to speak. (Tremendously awful and controversial stuff, as you'll see)
The GOP's sudden deranged desire to ban contraception in all its forms would usually be enough to occupy one's attention, but there has been a hell of a lot more going on this week. For example, a Republican Senator from Iowa named Chuck Grassley has blocked the reauthorization of a bill protecting women from domestic violence because he doesn't want fags, immigrants and Indians to enjoy the protections offered by the law. My apologies for the vile language I just used, but I'm channeling Chuck here, and I'd bet my wallet, watch, warrant and word that "fags, immigrants and Indians" is exactly how they talked about this within the inner sanctum of his Senate offices.
Chuck Grassley hates gay people, people from elsewhere, and people who have always been here so much that he has blocked a bill that protects women from getting beaten and stomped by their husbands, partners or boyfriends. God bless America.
Don't think this kind of idiocy is restricted to Washington DC. Virginia is all set to pass a pair of anti-abortion bills that will require women to be subjected to what is called a "trans-vaginal ultrasound," but only if the "egg-is-a-person" bill doesn't pass first.
The GOP-dominated Oklahoma state senate just passed Bill 1433:
The bill would define life as beginning at conception, effectively banning all abortions and many forms of contraception. The bill would also ban women from getting an abortion if they are raped because there are no exceptions in it. The bill would also prohibit women from obtaining life saving abortions from their doctors if the pregnancy threatens their lives. The language of the bill is so broad and encompassing that a woman may be forced to die in a hospital because her doctors would be powerless to save her.
In-vitro fertilization could be defined as mass murder since the process involves placing many fertilized eggs into a woman to increase the chances of her getting pregnant, because some, or all, of the zygotes could die. This will essentially prevent doctors from performing the procedure altogether, meaning many women will lose their last hope of having a child.
But wait, there's more:
(Rush) Limbaugh was indignant about the hype around the issue. "Why is contraception so important that it must be paid for by somebody else?" he demanded to know. He asked why contraceptives are "a must-have" in comparison to toothpaste, hotel rooms or a car. "Why are so many people afraid of birth?" he wondered.
Limbaugh then asked why the Democratic Party would want to limit pregnancies, arguing that it makes money from abortions. He alleged that Planned Parenthood is part of "a money-laundering operation for the Democrat party" and that the organization "is rolling in dough" from providing abortion services. "So why would the Democrat party want to make sure that there aren't any pregnancies?" he challenged.
"Could it be that Democrats fear kids?" he wondered. "I mean, they are aborting their own people. The vast majority of people having abortions are Democrat voters."
But really...really...here is the bull-moose, brass-bound, gold-medal-winner of this whole madhouse eruption. This wasn't posted on some obscure far-right whack-ass blog...*this* aired on MSNB-fa chrissake-C on Thursday afternoon:
This whole contraception debate is just so new-fangled, says billionaire investor and mega-funder to the super PAC supporting former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) for President, Foster Friess.
In a simpler time, there were other ways to deal with female sexual desire. "Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly," he said Thursday on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, setting the host back for moment.
The general conversation was about Santorum's past statements about contraception, who once said that it was "harmful to women."
The thing is, Mom, I get the sense that a few different influences have been unleashed within the ranks of the Right as far as all this goes. See, when the allies of Planned Parenthood stomped a mudhole in the Komen Foundation for messing with cancer screening, it caused a massive reaction within the ranks of the penis-firsters. How dare those abortionists tell us what for? WHAAARGARBLE!!!
That's part of it, but I think there's some deep-seated racism involved here, too. These people want to ban contraception because they want white people to breed prolifically, so as to overcome what they see as an onslaught by the Brown Ones against All That Is Right And True In America. After all, one of those shady, shaded dudes already sits in the White House, and he doesn't even have a proper birth certificate, right? Right?
Beyond that is some nascent Taliban-esqe hatred of women that goes back to the Old Testament, something that is rooted in a deep-seated sense of insecurity these people feel that drives them to try to subjugate half the voting population in an election year. For the record, I have seen plenty of stupidity in my time, but this latest upheaval absolutely takes the cake.
I think they might be desperate...desperate to try and steer the national discourse away from the economic issues they can't possibly win on, and towards the social warfare they have deployed with so much success over the years. Choosing birth control as the battlefield, however, strikes me as a tactical error so great as to put Hitler's decision to open a second front in deep shade.
It could also be simple ignorance. After all, a fair portion of these knuckleheads don't believe in dinosaurs because they aren't mentioned in the Bible, don't believe in science generally, and have come to believe that the best thing for America is to revert to some "Leave It To Beaver" fantasy about gender roles in society.
You and I know better, don't we, Mom? You went to work when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and carved a swath through your chosen profession by dint of your superior skills and intellect...but you left a lot of pieces of yourself on that battlefield, because too many men thought you were getting above your place, ahead of yourself, and tried to kick you back down to where they thought you belonged. You won - you always do - but it cost you dearly. I remember. I will never, ever forget.
I have to admit to being stunned, in shock with all this, because of all the things I ever expected to deal with, take on and overcome, it never occurred to me that fighting the war you already won all over again would be something I would have to contend with in this brave year of 2012...but here we are. Part of me wants to lay back and let these dunderheads crash around in a frothing fury, wants to let them destroy themselves...but no.
Now is the time to rise up, point at this mess, and say in a voice too loud to ignore, "This is why these people are not to be trusted with power. This is why they must go."
You fought this war and won it, Mom. The Bastards want to try and re-take the battlefield. I will not let it happen, and I am not alone.
I love you with all of my heart, Mom.
Don't worry. We got this.
Your loving son,