Disturbing Oppression of Women in Republican Circles

UPDATE: By the way, MomsRising sent out a petition this morning asking Congress to include the real experts on birth control — women and mothers — to be representative on any future panel. -Elisa

Once again, I find myself shaking my head and feeling powerless at the arrogance displayed by certain Republican and male-centric religious circles towards women. I am so sick of reading posts by even Democratic men saying that President Obama should have sought advice from “real” Catholics — er men — like Joe Biden and Bob Casey regarding the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act rather than “women who happen to be Catholic” like Kathleen Sebelius or a nun who is an advisor.

Basically, the implication is that women should have no say regarding any policies around birth control and that we should leave it up to the men to decide for us. No where else was this more obvious than a House Republican-led hearing yesterday, in which female witnesses were barred from testifying. From Think Progress:

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked (Republican Rep. Darrell) 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.”

Wow. What about our rights, including that of religious women, to be heard? Should our opinions — our health and mental well-being — not play into this rule at all? Who are the women sleeping with these men? Yikes!

In related news, Oklahoma Senate passed a “personhood bill”, declaring life at conception and rendering abortion illegal. The interesting note about this story is that the chamber tabled an amendment that would have equally considered sperm sacred.

The Personhood Act, Senate Bill 1433, received international attention in the wake of a proposed amendment from Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Holdenville. The amendment said it was an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm.

“A lot of people thought that I was being facetious with my amendment in committee, and it was humorous and it has gotten international response,” Johnson said to her fellow senators.

“But I was serious as a heart attack. It wasn’t until I used the biological and scientific references to those functions that somebody heard it. Maybe nobody in this chamber gets it but somebody heard that all we’re asking for is for this conversation to include both individuals that are necessary to bring life about.”

Johnson, whose amendment was tabled, said she is sick of legislation that pries into the private lives of women with no mention of the men who are co-actors in the process of conception.

The double standard here is so blatant. War on women, anyone?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Let’s call this the social media open thread. I do a lot of outreach on social media for work, and have gotten to know many other exceptional bloggers because of it. I want to draw your attention to the new category in our blogroll: “Special Needs.”

If you have a blog and are not in our blogroll, please let me know. I’d love to add you. Also, in case you missed it, MotherTalkers has a closed Facebook page just for us. Please join if you want to be part of our Facebook conversations!

Also, I was wondering how many of you were on Twitter? I’d love to follow you. You can find me at ElisaBatista. Thanks all!

In disturbing news: Topeka, Kansas is considering decriminalizing domestic violence in order to save money, according to Think Progress. Yikes.

Also, the title of this story is provocative, but the message is poignant: at the end of the day will watching Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars have an effect on our children’s future? No. But inhaling mercury in our air will.

If you can stand it, more despicable news: Republicans are blatantly trying to suppress Democratic votes in the upcoming election — working class, poor, college students and racial minorities — by limiting voting times and mandating photo i.d. with the vote, according to the New York Times. Two interesting facts from that editorial is that many poor people don’t have government issued photo i.d.s like driver’s licenses, and there is no evidence that voter fraud even exists. The people who claim it have not presented any proof. Ugh.

One more: here is an update on the sad fallout of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, according to America’s Voice blog. Even Latinos who are U.S. citizens are leaving the state because of racial profiling. The scary thing is this law — known in Latino circles as “Juan Crow” — is the strictest in the nation, and another state in the deep south plans to follow suit: Mississippi.

A silver lining in an otherwise gloomy news cycle: this past Columbus Day, students in New York City spent a day at the Occupy Wall Street protests with their parents, according to the New York Times. Have you attended any of the protests? How about your kids?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Republicans Don’t Want College Students to Vote

In an effort to dampen voter turnout, Republican legislators in New Hampshire are introducing bills barring certain college students from voting and ending same-day voter registration, according to the Washington Post.

As someone who voted in her first election at the age of 18 as a New Hampshire resident, I have a lot to say to NH Speaker William O’Brien who was caught on tape at a Tea Party rally:

“Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.”

What a bunch of condescending bullshit. For the record, in my very first election, I helped elect New Hampshire’s first woman governor, Jeanne Shaheen, who is now a democratic senator for the state. And yes, I do have life experience and pay taxes, and no, I have not grown more conservative with age. I am proud to say that I have voted in every single midterm and presidential election as a DEMOCRAT. So take that William O’Brien!

Hopefully there is a lesson here for our youth: voting is not a right to be taken for granted!


Senate Unveils Healthcare Proposal

Maybe I am being naive, but I was delighted to see the U.S. Senate unveil a healthcare plan that not only includes a public option and looks like it will cover 31 million more Americans, but also cut the deficit. It will save the federal government money, something sought out by the undecided conservative Democrats.

From the New York Times:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said at an evening news conference that the legislation, embodying President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, would impose new regulations on insurers, extend coverage to 31 million people who currently do not have any and add new benefits to Medicare.

Mr. Reid said the bill, despite a price tag of $848 billion over 10 years, would reduce projected budget deficits by $130 billion over a decade because the costs would be more than offset by new taxes and fees and by reductions in the growth of Medicare.

Democrats expressed confidence that they would have the votes needed to move forward when the legislation hits its first test in the Senate, probably later this week. To get past that first procedural hurdle, Mr. Reid will need the votes of all 58 Democratic senators and the two independents aligned with them.

According to the Times, the plan will be paid for by an increase in the Medicare payroll tax on high-income people and a new excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac health plans” offered by employers to their employees.

Republicans have said they will fight the plan. Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has declared a “holy war” on the plan. I, for one, am ready to fight. What about you?


Progressive Moms? Eeek!

Hi, my name is Suzanne and I am self-loathing liberal. I am a self-loathing everything actually. I know this because whenever I confronted by a group that I am a card-carrying member of I brace myself for the worst. I meet other Catholics and I am scared they are going to yell at me about abortion and ask why I only have two kids. I meet other women and I cringe, expecting cattiness or bitchery (not the fun kind). I meet other Floridians and I expect them to be the exact ones that screwed up the Bush-Gore election of 2000. I meet other liberals and I fully expect to hear how they really like the way the President of Iran writes and wish we had a president who could form complete sentences as well. (This was during the Bush years and actually happened to me. The level of jaw on the floor from me was immense. I recovered briefly to talk about repressive theological government, human rights and the virtual enslavement of women. Oy!) So what would possess me to visit a website for self-describe liberal mamas?


I followed a link from another website and flinched visibly, waiting for, I dunno a pop-up ad for a birthing tub playing Enya in the background? A recipe for your own placenta lasagna? A raging debate over Bradley method versus Lamaze? Oh, the MT logo! How I feared thee! The blatantly multi-culti artwork!!! Obviously installed by a holier-than-thou white chick (Yeah, I’m a halfsie Latina and live in fear of PC white people, more self-loathing.) And beyond multi-culti there were images of young women and older women!!! Some artist’s rendering of the maiden/mother/crone life cycle, not an accurate representation of the people to be found here, surely! I first came here around the time of the election, and I guess if I expected any “debate” at all over the primaries it would be the meme currently floating around my personal circle, “Obama or Hillary, I will gladly vote for either of them!” And what did I care about that? I had voted for Edwards the day before he dropped out of the race from a state whose delegates were probably not going to be seated. Yeah.

I figured self-professed liberal Moms would be like the hive-minded “conservatives” with their scarily lock-step talking points and agendas. I had a deep seated fear of anyone who proclaimed themselves to be something, anything! Growing up on the only deep blue branch of a pretty red tree had given me a siege mentality. People who declared themselves were risky, bossy, LOUD folks who were waiting to beat you about the head and shoulders with ideas they themselves had never thought through.

So I poked around for a little while, didn’t bookmark the page, but remembered the name. I saw some sarcastic, whip-smart mouthy types I could get along with and some level headed women who gave good advice. There were even a few men about the place, though it took me awhile to figure out since they are not actually designated “token males allowed here by the matriarchy” in their by-lines.  There was in fact a lot more diversity of thought, opinion and style than I thought possible. I thought I was the only “liberal progressive” with complicated feelings about abortion/death penalty/ feminism/ parenting/gender roles/ career/ work/life/sex/drugs/rocknroll. Talk about American exceptionalism (another self-loathing sub group I belong to) I was prepared to believe I was a unique little snowflake in the Democratic party. I bookmarked the page and wrote a short intro piece. So many of you went out of your way to welcome me, and one of the editors, (Elisa?Gloria?Erika?) promoted one of my first diaries to the main page. I actually teared up a little when I saw that. I stayed around, sometimes on more and sometimes on less and I watched in amazement. I certainly didn’t expect that a group of “like-minded” liberals could argue amongst themselves as vociferously, as courageously, as fearlessly as y’all can and make sure that the other person’s voice is heard and respected. I have learned from you all  that declaring yourself does not mean bullying. I have learned that other people’s opinions are not bricks to be thrown but (allow me to be sincere for a moment) the foundation for understanding someone else’s point of view. And while it sure as hell ain’t all kittens, rainbows and unicorns around here, it is a respectful oasis in the sea of crazy that is the internet. So thanks guys, thank you all for just being your own bad-ass selves and inspiring me to do the same.


Some Texans Up in Arms Over Straight-Ticket Voting

Does your state allow “straight-ticket voting?” What do you think?

Some Republicans in Texas are up in arms over the practice, which allows voters to select a party’s entire roster of candidates with one vote, according to the Dallas Morning News. Apparently, the Democrats made substantial gains thanks to this practice, which has stoked the ire of one State Rep. Joe Strauss (R-San Antonio), who introduced a bill banning it.

State Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would end straight-ticket voting, a practice he says unfairly influences the outcome of elections.

“There are people on both tickets who you know don’t belong in public office,” Mr. Straus said. “That should offend open-minded people from both parties. I can’t imagine an argument against this.”

Opponents of Mr. Straus’ bill question his motives.

“It wasn’t an issue when Republicans were winning elections,” said state Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas. “It’s worked, and it’s worked for years. Look at the high voter turnout in these elections. People are engaged in the process.”

Here is some more of the tit for tat over Staus’s bill:

Mr. Straus said he isn’t trying to stop party loyalists from voting along party lines. They could still do that by selecting partisan choices in each race, instead of making one choice and leaving the polling place.

“I timed it,” he said. “It takes two minutes. If people can’t give two minutes every other year for voting, then we need to have a much more serious discussion.”

“As long as we have political parties and candidates running under the banner of a political party, then it’s reasonable to see straight-ticket voting as an extension of that,” said Austin-based Democratic strategist Kelly Fero.

He said abolishing straight-ticket voting would have a chilling effect on the electorate, chasing away the types of people who showed up in record numbers at Texas polling places.

“It could unintentionally be another block to turnout,” Mr. Fero said.

I am neutral on this topic as I tend to vote straight-ticket Democrat anyway — without the one vote option. While I see how it could create more partisanship, I wonder if it helps in defining the parties and actually forcing people to learn what each party stands for, which are good things IMHO. What do you think?


Breaking News: House Rejects $700 Billion Bailout

In case you missed it, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against a Bush-backed $700 bailout of failed Wall Street firms, according to MSNBC. More members of the Republican Party than Democratic Party voted against the bill for fear of repercussions from their constituents.

Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Despite pressure from supporters, not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.

Ample no votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.

Leaders from both parties implored the House to pass the bill, claiming the economy would nosedive into a recession without it. Wall Street stocks plummeted even before the House passed its vote, according to MSNBC.

Perhaps it is because I do not know enough about the financial markets, but I am thrilled so many people were aware of this bill and called their representatives to complain. I, too, called my two senators and house member, which I rarely do. My comment was if they were going to pass a bailout to at least make sure there were protections for home owners, a cap on CEO pay and strict government oversight of these Wall Street firms. The idea of taxpayers taking over these irresponsible companies’ debts — and receiving nothing in return — irked me.

What about you all? Do you have an opinion on the failure of Congress to pass this bill?


Republicans Versus Democrats on Wall Street Bailout

President Bush and Congressional Democrats are clashing on how to bail out Wall Street firms that gave mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. Bush wants to give the firms $700 billion and two years to turn around their situation, according to MSNBC.

The Democrats want to pass a bill with measures to help people keep their homes, put a cap on CEO pay and provide more government oversight of the companies’ reorganization, MSNBC reported.

The measure would give the government the power it has requested to buy up bad mortgage-related assets that have been dragging down financial companies. But it would end the program at the end of next year, instead of creating the two-year initiative that the Bush administration has sought.

It also would add layers of congressional oversight, including an emergency board to keep an eye on the program with two House and Senate appointees.

Congressional aides said the House could act on a bailout bill as early as Wednesday….

(Chairman of the House Financial Services panel, Rep. Barney) Frank said that lawmakers “are building strong oversight“ into the measure.

“The private sector got us into this mess,“ Frank said, “The government has to get us out of it. We do want to do it carefully.“

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, speaking Monday morning on NBC’s “Today“ show, said, “We are in the most serious crisis since World War II.“

He also said that despite the ballooning national debt, he would not raise taxes if elected.

Congressional leaders have endorsed the main thrust of the administration plan, but also have said that it must be expanded to include help for people on Main Street as well as the big Wall Street financial firms who have lost billions of dollars through their bad investment decisions.

In related news, pundits Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein as well as Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. were on Real Time With Bill Maher Friday night to discuss the meltdown of the financial markets. The heated debate between Sullivan and Klein is worth a listen.


Don’t You Love John McCain?

At this point, most of us have caucused or voted.  There is no point in defending our preferred candidate.  There will be a winner soon enough, and I won’t presume to predict who that winner will be.  Yes, I know that it looks like it will be Obama right now, but HRC has fought her way back before and I don’t rule out the possibility of it happening again.  At the end of the day, I don’t care.  I will support our nominee regardless.

If you live in one of the tiny hand full of states who are undecided, or if you are talking to an undecided democrat from one of those states, by all means promote your candidate.  However, I would like to honor the fact that both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama have fought the good fight.  Both of them have many, many devoted supporters.  The nominee cannot win without the other candidate’s supporters.

I’m not worried.  I have faith in democrats.  For the moment, though, I thought it might be fun to discuss all the things we oppose about John McCain, just for morale.  

I don’t need to actively wish John McCain harm.  Heaven knows he’s been through enough in his life.  Still, at the risk of appearing malicious, I’ll go first.

  1.  He is, currently, a pro-life advocate who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  1.  He thinks our economy is better now then it was in 2000.
  1.  He projects that our country will be in Iraq for 100 years, long after he’s gone.
  1.  He called Chelsea Clinton ugly when she was a teenager.
  1.  He feels don’t ask, don’t tell is working.
  1.  He continues to attempt to block the Webb GI bill.
  1.  Two words?  Bomb Iran.  

That’s just the beginning.  I know you all have many, many more reasons.  

Irrelevantly, a friend of mine bemoaned Edwards dropping out of the race in part because he’s pretty.  But you know what?  All three of our democrats have got it going on.  If this was a beauty contest, we’d have it in the bag.  But every one of us is smarter then that.


Presidential Debate Open Thread

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton will square off tonight at the University of Texas in Austin, in what will be an important debate, according to CNN. Hillary needs a win in Texas on March 4 to remain viable. Obama needs to break through to Latino voters, who have broken for Hillary in the past. Expect a lot of jostling, as the candidates try to differentiate themselves.

The debate will air tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CNN and also air in Spanish at 11:30 p.m. ET on Univision. It is expected to last for an hour and a half. I will check out both, as I am curious as to how the candidates come off to Latinos.

Happy watchin’ ya’ll!