Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Call For Southern Culture On The Skids

Rand Paul, the gift that keeps on giving, apparently.  Always nice to know that the Senator elected to represent me loves to hire unapologetic white supremacist racists for his campaign staff, and apparently that's too much for even the lefty-hating wingers at the Washington Free Beacon to handle.

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.

Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

And Jack Hunter is a real piece of work, folks.

Prior to his radio career, while in his 20s, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”

“The League of the South is an implicitly racist group in that the idealized version of the South that they promote is one which, to use their ideology, is dominated by ‘Anglo-Celtic’ culture, which is their code word for ‘white’,” said Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research at the ADL. The ADL said it does not necessarily classify it as a hate group.

The League of the South maintains that it is not racist and does not discriminate in terms of membership.

“When I was part of it, they were very explicit that’s not what they were about,” Hunter said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. “I was a young person, it was a fairly radical group – the same way a person on the left might be attracted in college to some left-wing radical groups.”

Sure, white supremacists are just like College Democrats.   Look, it's not like Rand Paul isn't just as much of a blatant racist as his asshole father is, but the next white guy who tells me how awesome of a President Rand Paul will make needs to have this article shoved up his urethra.  I don't care what else he does, nothing justifies this.

There are some things that should disqualify you from higher office, people.  This is one of them.

And Remember Folks, Spay And Neuter Your Inmates

Kudos to Amanda Marcotte, who said exactly what was on my mind when the story broke about California prisons sterilizing female inmates.
CIR interviewed doctors who were involved in sterilizations in California prisons, and comments from these doctors only raise suspicion that they supported a system of bullying and frightening women into agreeing to sterilizations they did not want. Dr. James Heinrich is accused by at least one inmate of badgering her about sterilization until she caved, and his comments about the money spent by the state on these procedures are not very reassuring. 
“Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money,” Heinrich said, “compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children—as they procreated more.”
"Unwanted" by whom? The women themselves or Heinrich? Christina Cordero, who was sterilized by Heinrich, says she wished she hadn't had the tubal litigation. So perhaps any child she might have conceived would have been wanted.
Unwanted by whom, indeed.  Between sneaky tactics to restrict access to birth control, sneakier tactics to make abortion inaccessible or as painful as possible, and now this... how can a woman possibly feel safe in this world?  This is hardly the first time this has happened.  Eugenics victims  have been sterilized against their will for decades, or in some cases without their knowledge, if the Eugenics Board decided they would be unfit parents. The one that stuck with me most was a woman who had been raped by three brothers, and brought before the board against her will.  She "did not get along well with others" and was "stubborn and lacked civility."  Well, after being raped by a handful of men and then dragged before a table full of men to hash it through to their satisfaction, I think I understand why she might have had a little bit of an attitude.  Based on that single interaction she was judged and sterilized, and only discovered it when she went to look into fertility treatments many years later because she wanted a child with all her heart.  When she was just a teenager that choice was made for her, not only without her consent but without telling her that it had happened at all.  

I had missed this gem until this time around (originally from 2008), in which state Rep. John LaBruzzo considered paying poor women a thousand bucks to get their tubes tied:   
"We're on a train headed to the future and there's a bridge out, " LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. "And nobody wants to talk about it."
LaBruzzo said he worries that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government. He said he is gathering statistics now.
"What I'm really studying is any and all possibilities that we can reduce the number of people that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare, " he said.
He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men.
Vasectomies was just an afterthought, to avoid charges.  It was a wink-wink addition to get to the real business of fixing some lady parts.  It had no seriousness behind it, as evident by men everywhere not having to shoo government away from their balls.  There's a lot more to it than that, but what I'm getting at is that when it comes to men, there's no question who is in charge of their organs.  Furthermore, LaBruzzo's plan involved potential tax breaks for the affluent to have more children.  On behalf of women everywhere, I'd like to say thanks for looking out for us. Glad to know dangling money in front of poor women while throwing money back to the wealthy is his bridge out to a brighter tomorrow.

Now that I've vented some sarcasm, let's get to the point.  The attitudes above itself are frightening beyond measure.  Women are being looked at like breeders and nothing more.  When it suits someone's agenda for us to have kids, we're kept away from birth control, or even just plain old healthcare.  When it suits someone  ego trip for us to be sterile, that can happen too, it's just a matter of who is trying to call the shots on our bodies.  It is a terrifying thing to realize that your innermost body, the one thing you have been taught your whole life is yours and yours alone, is subject to the whim of people in power.  Not even necessarily government, just power in general.  This doctor was one of many who decided for a woman whether she should be allowed to have kids, without any ethical oversight or accountability.  This simply cannot be allowed, not just for reproductive rights but the sake of healthcare principles overall.  Before we dismiss this as an incident or an isolated problem, we need to realize this beast has been lurking in the dark waters of women's healthcare for over half a century. It's distasteful and criminal, so it's been done largely in secret.  But it has, in fact, always been there in some form or another.  Despite the fact that there are millions of us, women have yet to experience full equality.  Our bodies are not our own.  Our lives are up for vote.  Our futures can be chosen by a board of men who think they have the right to enforce their will without question.  Our chances of having the freedom every single man enjoys is always tantalizingly close, but at the last minute an appeal or tactic keeps us waiting and hoping.  And worrying.

This has to stop.  Women should have full ownership of their bodies, and enough of using the law to discriminate or abuse the poor or the disadvantaged.  Imagine the emotional pain inflicted on these women, and the judgment passed on them.  This is a disgrace, and there is no other word for it.  Some will say this is hypocrisy from a pro-choice person, but I don't believe so.  A woman's choices are hers to make, and that's where I stand regardless of the sub-issue at hand.  The overall point is these rights should be hers beyond a shadow of a doubt, with no fear that they may be yanked away in a single political move, or at the whim of someone in control.  Nobody should make these choices for any woman alive, period.  Once we establish that, we establish healthcare that is easily available, and then we work on counseling to avoid unwanted pregnancies because education and empowerment must come first.

We need to do something now, before this crops up again in five years and we pretend to be shocked all over again.

Completely The Hell Out?

With diplomacy involving Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the basement and the Afghan government on the verge of throwing us completely out of the country, President Obama appears to be trying to make the best of an awful situation by withdrawing everyone from Afghanistan by the end of next year and calling it a day.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar. 

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014. 

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of the conversation. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and its backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies. 

Mr. Karzai has made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said. 

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul

In other words, Karzai is calling our bluff, and he's doing so coldly that it's starting to look like the only viable option.  Surprise, it's been the right thing to do for years now, but apparently it's taking Karzai saying "Go ahead, do it, we want you gone" in order for us to consider it.

And I'm completely okay with this.  I think the Obama administration should be trumpeting this from the rooftops.  Get them all out and bring them home, Mr. President.


Also, Bon has a post for later this afternoon, so stick around.
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