Sunday, February 19, 2012

Last Call

Now that the GOP has set the stage with voter suppression efforts via "Voter ID laws", they're going after the bigger fish: the Voting Rights Act.

An intensifying conservative legal assault on the Voting Rights Act could precipitate what many civil rights advocates regard as the nuclear option: a court ruling striking down one of the core elements of the landmark 1965 law guaranteeing African Americans and other minorities access to the ballot box.

At the same time, the view that states should have free rein to change their election laws even in places with a history of Jim Crow seems to be gaining traction within the Republican Party.

“There certainly has been a major change,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at the University of California at Irvine. “Now, you have a whole bunch of credible mainstream state attorneys general and governors taking this view. … That would have been unheard of even five years ago. You would have been accused of being a racist.”

Some of the shift appears to be driven by resentment of what tea party members and others perceive as an overgrown, out-of-control federal government, as well as by widespread concern among Republicans about claims of voter fraud at the polls. Part of the change could also stem from more vigorous enforcement of voting rights laws by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

The issue has surfaced in the Republican presidential contest, including at one of the televised debates, and could move to the front burner within weeks as a federal appeals court in Washington prepares to rule on the leading lawsuit against the Voting Rights Act. That case, brought by Shelby County, Ala., is backed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona and Georgia. At least three similar constitutional challenges are pending.

It really is this simple:  the coming demographics doom the GOP.  They know it.  They're playing the Last Bastion Of White Male Supremacy card now before it's too late.  Striking down Roe v. Wade and the Voting Rights Act and wanting constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and abortion, it's all about preserving their power when they become the new minority.

It's amazing.  Talk about turning back the clock.

Sunday Not Bobblehead Thread

If you missed the Melissa Harris-Perry show on TV today, you missed a far better panel discussion than anything else on Sunday mornings.

Weekend mornings at 10 Eastern, folks. Watch it. Join #nerdland.

From Celebrities To Candidates, Attitudes Towards Women Appalling

Damn those women. They should learn how to take a beating and keep their mouths shut.

Let's look at a short list that sums up a huge problem. Most recently, as I highlighted earlier on Zandar Versus The Stupid, Hugh Hefner showed zero concern for the Playmate his son was accused of beating up this week. TMZ said he allegedly kicked her in the stomach, punched her and refused to allow her to leave the premises (what those silly police people call false imprisonment). Instead, Hugh gave his trademark rich man smirk and said they would patch it up if they wanted. So now we know, among the wealthy cigar-chomping brandy sipping set, it's still acceptable to hit a woman, and use physical strength or brute force if they wish.

Now we have Terrance Howard saying he can't get work because his wife just won't shut up about his hitting her, chipping her tooth with his wedding ring, and going so far as to threaten to throw her off a balcony. Silly woman, she should just take her smack and go away, right? Though he denies it (of course) there is that pesky first episode with his first wife Lori McCommas to give weight to her story. For those who don't remember, he told her to "not disrespect him by hanging up the phone or he would come hurt her." She promptly hung up and called 911, afraid for her safety. She was right to be scared, while on the phone he beat her door down and punched her in the face twice. I guess that will teach her to disobey a direct order, right?

Hang up a phone. Try to walk out on an abusive asshole who is physically harming you. Decide who you will date and how you will live. These are the "crimes" for which women have been beaten, threatened, and terrorized. Keep in mind, something else had to have happened for McCommas to feel so certain Terrance Howard would follow through with his threat to hurt her. What might have happened if she hadn't already been on the phone with law enforcement? According to Howard and a whole lot of men who think like him, her "disrespect" was grounds to do whatever they wanted. There was no understanding that women are people, deserving of rights and choices. We are too often regarded as errant children, who should just do what we're told and take what we're given.

It's hard to feel sympathy for Howard's acting career. It's hard to take Hugh Hefner seriously as a lover of women when most of us recognize he's an overcompensating old fart with a living Barbie collection. If he truly empowered women, they would be better for having known him, instead they have nicer clothes and more jewelry, which is not necessarily doing them any favors. Rumors have circled for years that to remain in Hef's good graces his women are expected to smile, remain obedient and refrain from asking too many questions.

We still have the GOP unanimous vote to keep businesses from paying women fairly because of the possible hardship on the businesses. They weren't concerned about the hardship on the women, of course. As Zandar pointed out Saturday, they are taking as many steps as possible to make sure single moms have no choice but to get pregnant, then carry the baby, then have no aid to help raise the child. Z rightfully pointed out that the GOP women have remained silent, showing that they might have questions but aren't willing to commit career suicide. I'd like to piggyback on that and point out that there has been absolutely no mention of child support enforcement or other steps to help the women that they plan to use as breeding stock.  Apparently, if the woman is slutty enough to get knocked up she deserves to suffer.  The guy who participated in it was just a case of boys will be boys.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Can it possibly be that we have taken so many steps back that women are able to be treated like property, beaten on a whim and denied basic medical choices to satisfy the men in charge? Have we taken that many steps backwards, or was women's rights an illusion all along? It seems to me that once we reached a threshold, we were pushed back down at all costs.

GOP Can't Deny War On Women

I was researching abuse patterns and came across something interesting. My question was what do abusers think, what mind tricks do they pull to deceive themselves and the victims so that the cycle can continue?  I found the best answer at Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service, a site dedicated to stopping abuse through education.

There are eighteen ways abusers lie to themselves, the public, and the women they mistreat.  It sounded awfully familiar, and then I realized for each and every warning sign of abuse towards women, I could find a tie to the GOP's recent activities.  I'm not kidding you, so much so that I am publishing their list below, with my responses appearing in bold.

Excuse Making

Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, the abuser tries to justify his behavior with excuses. For example: "My parents never loved me" or "My parents beat me" or "I had a bad day, and when I walked in and saw this mess, I lost my temper" or "I couldn't let her talk to me that way. There was nothing else I could do."

GOP: We care about families, of course!  But rather than make sure women are paid the same as men, we prefer to make sure that we don't burden businesses by making them pay women equally.  What, a burden on women, you ask?  Back to the kitchen with you!  It's your fault, you're all sinners who need us to force some goodness into your lives.  We're just doing what we have to, stop forcing us to make your personal decisions for you.


The abuser shifts responsibility for his actions away from himself and onto others, a shift that allows him to justify his abuse because the other person supposedly "caused" his behavior. For example: "If you would stay out of it while I am disciplining the kids, I could do it without hitting them." Or he may say, "She pushes my buttons." Statements like this are victim blaming. If he really had buttons she could push, she would push the one that says, "vacuum" instead the one that says, "hit me".

GOP: If women weren't behaving immorally, they wouldn't even NEED birth control, now would they?  It's their fault that they get pregnant.  Why should we allow them a method that allows them to have sex with whomever they choose without unintended pregnancies?  That's just crazy talk!


In a variation on the tactic of blaming, the abuser redefines the situation so that the problem is not with him but with others or with the outside world in general. For example, the abuser doesn't come home for dinner at 6 p.m. as he said he would; he comes home at 4 a.m. He says, "You're an awful cook anyway. Why should I come home to eat that stuff? I bet the kids wouldn't even eat it."

GOP: We hate it that you have a legally protected right to control your body.  Let's pretend it's illegal and debate over "allowances" such as rape or incest.  We also define marriage as being between a man and a woman, other use of the word marriage offends us highly and therefore must never be done.  Call it a civil union, you say?  Stop providing reasonable alternatives, it's messing up the plan!

Success Fantasies

The abuser believes he would be rich, famous, or extremely successful if only other people weren't "holding me back." He uses this belief to justify his abuse. The abuser also puts other people down verbally as a way of making himself look superior.

GOP: We could all live in a glowing, polite, well-behaved and chaste America if you only let us tell you how to conduct your private lives. 


The abuser controls the situation by lying to control the information available. The abuser also may use lying to keep other people, including his victim, off-balance psychologically. For example, he tries to appear truthful when he's lying, he tries to look deceitful even when he's telling the truth, and sometimes he reveals himself in an obvious lie.

GOP: Women who have abortions are just careless sluts who don't deserve any consideration or medically protected rights.  Women who use birth control are just tramps who aren't worthy of representation in government.  Birth control causes prostate cancer.  Hey, let's require women be told abortion causes breast cancer when it is clearly proven that it does not.  


Abusive people often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they "know" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example, "I knew you'd be mad because I went out for a beer after work, so I figured I might as well stay out and enjoy myself."

GOP: Our religion is clearly the only one that is worth honoring, how could anyone else possibly think otherwise?  If you don't believe in my God, you are wrong and therefore not worthy of representation by government.  

Above the Rules

As mentioned earlier, an abuser generally believes he is better than other people and so does not have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too. Each inmate in a jail typically believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, he himself is not. An abuser shows "above-the-rules" thinking when he says, for example, 'I don't need batterer intervention. I'm different than those other men. Nobody has the right to question what I do in my family."

GOP candidate: We can have all the affairs and moral failures we want, but you had better never dare think about gay marriage.  Despite what the Constitution says, or what those silly representatives say on behalf of their constituents, I am going to determine how this country is run.  It's just me, baby.  I am going to sell out every person sinner who doesn't worship and choose exactly how I feel they should, and you will all live to our standards.  

Making Fools of Others

The abuser combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his or her reactions, and encouraging a fight between or among others. Or, he may try to charm the person he wants to manipulate, pretending a lot of interest or concern for that person in order to get on her or his good side.

GOP: Hey, remember that time Joe Wilson shouted "You lie!" while Obama was speaking? Yeah, those were good times.  We didn't even have to know the facts, just score the points for resisting.  Too bad he was too classy to take the bait, let's make fun of the First Lady's ass and see where that gets us.


The abuser usually keeps his abusive behavior separate from the rest of his life. The separation is physical; for example, he will beat up family members but not people outside his home. The separation is psychological; for example, the abuser attends church Sunday morning and beats his wife Sunday night. He sees no inconsistency in his behavior and feels justified in it.

GOP: Only "those women" are a problem, not "our" women.  Our women are holy and pure, and under our control.  We will include people like Michele Bachmann to make us look good, but also have her say really stupid things, like being "submissive" to her husband makes her happy.  Those other loose hippie women deserve what life deals to them. 


The abuser ducks responsibility for his actions by trying to make them seem less important than they are. For example, "I didn't hit you that hard" or 'I only hit one of the kids. I could have hit them all."

GOP: We're just picking on the gays and women.  For you straight males, we're on your side!  Stop fighting us already!  It's not about protecting our ability to discriminate against gays, honest, it's about the use of the word marriage.  That is what upsets us.


Thinking and speaking vaguely lets the abuser avoid responsibility. For example, "I'm late because I had some things to do on the way home."

GOP: Well, there's anything muttered by Sarah Palin.  Woo, can that broad mumble or what?  But if that isn't enough for you, there's also our defense of why we feel justified in making decisions for citizens, instead of protecting the freedom of the people.  Oh sure, you know all about our religious convictions, but nothing about why we feel entitled to force them on everyone.   And thanks for asking, but we prefer to keep it that way.


Abusive people are not actually angrier than other people. However, they deliberately appear to be angry in order to control situations and people.

GOP: We're furious at Obama!  He's trying to kill old people and has been wrong at every turn!  STOP SHOWING US THOSE FACTS, DAMMIT!

Power Plays

The abuser uses various tactics to power trip others. For instance, he walks out of the room when the victim is talking, or out-shouts the victim, or organizes other family members or associates to "gang up" on the victim in shunning or criticizing her.

GOP: Do it our way or we'll shut down the whole damn country.  That's right, we'll watch you all burn as long as it means our will be done.

Playing Victim

Occasionally the abuser will pretend to be helpless or will act persecuted in order to manipulate others into helping him. Here, the abuser thinks that if he doesn't get what he wants, he is the victim; and he uses the disguise of victim to get back at or make fools of others. Abusers will often claim to be the victim in order to avoid being held accountable by law enforcement. He may assert she was the one who was violent. He will display what are clearly defensive wounds, such as bite marks or scratch marks, and claim she "attacked" him. Or he will declare that the physical marks on her were caused when he was trying to keep her from hurting herself.

GOP: Stop picking on us, you mean old Obama!  We're just trying to protect people from themselves!  You're just a bully when you try to address concerns and give people information.  It's not fair to us!  

Drama and Excitement

Abusive people often make the choice not to have close relationships with other people. They substitute drama and excitement for closeness. Abusive people find it exciting to watch others get angry, get into fights, or be in a state of general uproar. Often, they'll use a combination of tactics described earlier to set up a dramatic and exciting situation.

GOP: That John Boehner guy is right!  We're worried about jobs, the reason we're putting all of our attention on abortion is because that affects jobs!  Stupid Democrats can't follow that, for some reason.  They keep asking for proof to back up our claims.  And here to explain how that makes sense, and to show off her mastery of the syllable "ummmm" is our very own Sarah Palin!

Closed Channel
The abusive person does not tell much about himself and his real feelings. He is not open to new information about himself, either, such as insights into how others see him. He is secretive, close-minded, and self-righteous. He believes he is right in all situations.

GOP: We know we're right because we're Christians.  We know better than other Christians because we are Super Christians.  You can't dare tell us we're morally wrong because we're perfect and you can't force us to digest facts because that is an offense to our religion.


The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, he believes that anything he wants should be his, and he can do as he pleases with anything that is his. That attitude applies to people as well as to possessions. It justifies his controlling behavior, physically hurting others, and taking things that belong to them.

GOP: This is OUR America.  If you don't believe the same things we do, and if you don't agree to follow our demands, you can go live somewhere else!  It's not like America allows for people to be individuals and choose their future!


The abuser usually thinks of himself as strong, superior, independent, self-sufficient, and very masculine. His picture of the ideal man often is the cowboy or adventurer type. When anyone says or does anything that doesn't fit his glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.

GOP: Anyone who doesn't worship our God (despite freedom of religion) and live the holy lives that we pretend to (but really don't) is falling short of our standards (and should be punished).  We are so clearly better than you, we know what is right for everyone.  From slutty women who want the Pill to naughty people who challenge ideas, you need us to save you.

Cross-posted over at Angry Black Lady's place.

Iran, So Far Away, Part 11

This piece in the UK's Guardian isn't notable for the usual anonymous sourcing or the drumbeat for war that Israel is justified in doing whatever it wants to stop Iran (which we've gotten for 5 years now), but for the possible October Surprise contained within.  That part is sourced to former State Department diplomat Colin Kahl, who only recently left the Obama administration.

The presidential election is also a part of Israel's calculation, not least the fractious relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, who has little reason to do the US president any political favours and has good reason to prefer a Republican in the White House next year.

There is a school of thought – a suspicion, even – within the administration that Netanyahu might consider the height of the US election campaign the ideal time to attack Iran. With a hawkish Republican candidate ever ready to accuse him of weakness, Obama's room to pressure or oppose Netanyahu would be more limited than after the election.

"One theory is that Netanyahu and Barak may calculate that if Obama doesn't support an Israeli strike, he's unlikely to punish Israel for taking unilateral action in a contested election year," said Kahl. "Doing something before the US gives the Israelis a bit more freedom of manoeuvre."

Obama is also under domestic political pressure from Republican presidential contenders, who accuse him of vacillating on Iran, and from a Congress highly sympathetic to Israel's more confrontational stance.

Kahl's words are most likely worth paying attention to.  He made an outstanding case for not attacking Iran in Foreign Policy magazine last month.  And the notion that Bibi would launch his own October Surprise to get rid of President Obama by forcing him to immediately attack Iran or face the wrath of the Israel lobby in the US can't be completely discounted. 

But it's also entirely possible that the "rally 'round the flag" effect would have the opposite effect if the President did assist Israel, which is why I'm almost certain Israel wouldn't do anything like this if the ultimate goal is to get a GOP president back in the White House.

Still, the larger issue is that Israel's PM could possibly decide our Presidential election for us.  I find that disturbing to say the least.
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