When I tell the story of my career path I often use the image of a mosaic.

I sometimes use the words “Once upon a time…” to help bridge the distance between the idea of “job” and “career path” for audiences who may be more comfortable with one word and not the other.

At one point in my life I had jobs in what is now called “the gig economy”, scraping by in the nonprofit world doing what I loved. To make that possible I also worked cash registers, served fast food, cleaned houses, sold advertising and hustled for free lance.

When I was a child I loved books, and school, and my teachers so I thought I would also be a teacher.

As a young adult I imagined my life would always include the arts (Once upon a time I was an actor & director…), or arts management (I spent years at Cleveland Public Theatre & then founded and ran Red Hen Productions, Feminist Theatre…), or some creativity (play and story writing…), outside of this peripatetic blog.

Then I imagined I would spend my life in the academy reading, writing, discussing and teaching philosophy. (That’s a longer story…)

I was lucky to find my true vocation (coaching & facilitating change) and now devote most of my time and energy to working with people and organizations who do good in the world.

Because I was a citizen of the USA and worked at liberal (or tolerant) organizations, I always had the freedom (within reason) to be politically active without fearing repercussions or retaliation.

Now, as someone who is self-employed, my job is my career.

That means I have thought long and hard about what repercussions my opinions and political activity will have on my ability to get work. I know that I am a small fish in a small pond, and maybe (hopefully!) I am being paranoid, but the world seems to be titling toward those who take names and make lists.

Years ago, while canvassing for domestic partner registration, I spoke with an elderly Jewish man who said “I will never vote for this! It is a terrible idea! Lists make it too easy for them to find you.”

Thinking of this Jewish man, and with conscious choice, I have decided to resume writing about my politics on this blog. It is part of the mosaic of who I am and will only become more so if we continue our drift toward despotism. (Please watch this crystal clear 10 minute explanation of despotism if you think my use of that phrase is hyperbolic.)

And, as an American citizen, I believe political engagement really is my job.

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I often write about free speech on this blog. It is one of my core values and its a gut-check reminder that civil liberties only work if they are guaranteed for all citizens. Once again a smart, thoughtful friend of mine has written something that I think it’s important to share.

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by Jason Jaffery

There is a pivotal moment in the Warren Beatty film “Bulworth” when the homeless man played by Amiri Baraka shouts at Beatty’s politician character, Sen. Jay Bulworth – “Bulworth! You got to be a spirit! You can’t be no ghost.”

Invariably when I find myself involved with a question where someone’s rights are being denied this quote pops into my head. This year, during this presidential election, more than any other time during my nearly 25-year career as a civil libertarian, an activist and a non-profit leader, this quote has become a guiding principle.

Much ink has been spilled on why this presidential election matters so distinctly. I agree with all the reasons articulated for why Donald Trump is so monumentally unfit for the presidency.  But I’ll add an additional reason why I believe Trump is a danger.

Trump either doesn’t understand the U.S Constitution, or doesn’t care about its meaning. Most likely both.

As we consider the ongoing experiment of participatory democracy, the success of that experiment is predicated on our civil society adhering to an articulated set of shared norms and values.

This means that, however much we might disagree on issues like abortion, LGBT rights, free speech or racial justice, we can at least agree that there is a process for deciding what laws apply, and a higher wisdom that we can refer to when the path towards those decisions gets muddled.

The Constitution is that guide, and for whatever murk might exist in its words that require interpretation by the judiciary, it is the glue that holds our democracy together.

Donald Trump has weakened that glue.

Trump’s casual disregard for the principles inherent in the Constitution strikes a deep chill in me.

His disregard for constitutional principles – that a free press should be protected from punishment and retribution; that a woman making reproductive health choices should be free from punishment and retribution; that free and fair elections are possible and should not be subject to manipulation – has and will continue to have far reaching consequences.

Trump’s disregard has caused tremendous damage to the country, and our collective confidence in the protections afforded by the Constitution. No matter the outcome of next week’s election, hard work and allegiance to core American values are what will help us survive as a republic.

Which leads me back to the quote with which I began.

In the face of a crisis like Trump, and the overwhelming shift that is occurring in our society, it is understandable to freeze. The level of stress induced by Trump’s behavior, and the behavior he has inspired in his countless supporters, is truly overwhelming. Many friends and associates have expressed a feeling of helplessness and despair.

But we are not helpless. We can act. In fact, we must. Because to act is to be a spirit, not a ghost.

This election and what it has wrought should be a national call to service. Each of us can and should be a spirit. Participate – be present, be visible.

Whatever action we take—calling on friends and family to make sure they have a plan to vote; knocking on a stranger’s door to provide early voting times and locations; serving as a legal, trained poll observer to ensure everyone’s voting rights are protected – is a spirited act.

As is making a contribution to the candidate who is committed to protecting to Constitution, and whom we can hold accountable if and when her administration makes choices with which we disagree.

I have done all of the above and hope you will too. It is our right, and our duty as Americans, to be a spirit not a ghost, at every opportunity—from this moment until the election, and every day afterwards.

Be a spirit, not a ghost.

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I was going to call this post “My Republican Neighbors” but it is really about more than them.

During the election, and the rest of the time, I work very diligently to keep a hard line attitude about free speech. It only works if everyone has it so I support and protect your right to spew whatever illogical nonsense tickles your fancy. Few republicans, or tea party patriots, seem to appreciate what a tough stance this is.

In order to live by my values I have to make sure that Republicans/religious right/tea party yahoos, are able to work within the societal and political systems to undermine my civil rights.

For 72 hours this month I lost my ability and desire to do that.

I worked all day Sunday the 4th so I didn’t get back until after dark. The next morning I saw that my republican neighbors, courtesy of the Catholic diocese, had put another sign next to their Romney sign – “Protect Religious Freedom”. That felt like the final straw, the last insult, the point of no return. I lost my mind and descended into 72 hours of venom laced swearing and vitriol.

The idea that republican catholic religious freedom was somehow in jeopardy when in reality their version of religious freedom means imposing their religious views on me – well lets just say that frosted my cake.

I know it’ss business as usual to accuse the other guy of what you’re guilty of, but this seemed especially egregious. I have a personal dislike for the Mother Church with its special political status, unlimited funds and hypocritical, damaging policies crafted by men, in the name of God.  So to have the catholic contingent act as if the democrats would limit their rights (the flat out lies about the ACA contraception rules) made me lose all patience.

I remember saying to my husband. “I can’t talk to them ever again, they have crossed a line.” All I could focus on was the fact that my political views and values do not force anyone to do anything, but support every ones right to make their own choices.

Have an abortion or don’t! Use contraception or don’t – hope you can afford all those “rhythm method babies” without government assistance. Marry who you want – or don’t! Ain’t none of my business!

My neighbors values however want to impose on, limit, or remove my rights.

  • Their religion does not believe in abortion, therefore no one should be allowed to have access to an abortion.
  • Their religion does not believe in gay marriage, therefore no one should be allowed to have gay marriage.
  • Their religion does not believe in separation of church and state, therefore everyone should have to pray and acknowledge God.
  • Their God of course.

Thankfully Obama won the election and the neighbors took down their offensive signs the next day. I calmed down a bit and by the following weekend I made a point of making neighborly chit chat with them.

I helped the man carry his wood rack to the porch and inquired after the health of the wife. We made nice for a bit and went back to our yard work when the husband came out and asked if we wanted any fresh herbs from their garden. I thanked him and said we would use some parsley which he picked and left in a bag on our front swing. It felt very much like  a peace offering and I am back to my high road tolerance of their opinions.

Unfortunately, other people in the neighborhood have left their religious freedom signs in their yards so I still have to look at them. They are allowed. Because my side won.

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First things first is a curious phrase. It makes me think – well how could you do last things first? – anyway it works in this case. I have not had even a few minutes to post since before the election and I’m sure my readers have abandoned me by this point, but I am determined to get back in my groove.

First things first. I can’t begin to offload what would have been in the last 8 – 10 posts (if I’d had 30 minutes in a row to think during the last few weeks), but a brief overview.

Obama won the election. Thank you Jesus, Buddha, Yahweh and millions of volunteers. I really don’t know what I would have done if that hadn’t happened. The consequences of Obama not being elected were so anathema to my values that I was truly in a state of distress watching the returns. Much hard work ahead but man, oh, man, not what it would have been.

I have gotten past a mountain of deadlines and am now (re)considering boundaries. I realized my last full day off was Saturday, October 13th. I am very much looking forward to November 17th when my newly developed sense of logical, healthy boundaries will commence. I tried to explain to someone that I didn’t start out this way. Emergencies turn into priorities and like a frog in a pot of slowly heating water it took me a long to time to understand I was being boiled alive. I have effectively jumped out of the pot never to return. Anyone catching me working on weekends (not for myself) has the right to demand $100 on the spot.

Still need to process:

  • my republican neighbors,
  • baby steps toward making new friends,
  • my plans to launch a new consulting practice,
  • a requirement to “journal” that I am trying to figure how to cheat by using blog posts,
  • my daughter traveling for three days without us,
  • the Sandusky verdict,
  • Sonya Sotomyer helping little girls understand that being a princess is not a career path.

And so much more. Let the writing resume.

For some reason my local daily ran this September Washington Post Op-Ed in yesterdays paper. It much more eloquently articulates the reasons why voting is important to research funding. I wish I could send it to every researcher I know along with the hours for in-person, early voting.

Making fun of what you don’t understand is easy. Having members of the US congress who do not “believe” in science sitting on the Committee on Science is tragic.
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It’s time to get serious about science

By Jim Cooper and Alan I. Lueshner, Published: September 9, 2012

Some policymakers, including certain senators and members of Congress, cannot resist ridiculing any research project with an unusual title. Their press releases are perhaps already waiting in the drawer, with blanks for the name of the latest scientist being attacked. The hottest topics for ridicule involve sex, exotic animals and bugs.

The champion of mocking science was the late William Proxmire, whose Golden Fleece Awards enlivened dull Senate floor proceedings from 1975 until 1988. His monthly awards became a staple of news coverage. He generated good laughs back home by talking about a “wacko” in a lab coat experimenting with something seemingly stupid. Proxmire did not invent the mad-scientist stereotype, but he did much to popularize it.

The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science. In fact, maybe it’s time for researchers to fight back, to return a comeback for every punch line.

Toward that end, we are announcing this week the winners of the first Golden Goose Awards, which recognize the often-surprising benefits of science to society. Charles H. Townes, for example, is hailed as a primary architect of laser technology. Early in his career, though, he was reportedly warned not to waste resources on an obscure technique for amplifying radiation waves into an intense, continuous stream. In 1964, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov.

Similarly, research on jellyfish nervous systems by Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien unexpectedly led to advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, increased understanding of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and improved detection of poisons in drinking water. In 2008, the trio received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this initially silly-seeming research. Four other Golden Goose Award winners — the late Jon Weber as well as Eugene White, Rodney White and Della Roy — developed special ceramics based on coral’s microstructure that is now used in bone grafts and prosthetic eyes.

Across society, we don’t have to look far for examples of basic research that paid off. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, then a National Science Foundation fellow, did not intend to invent the Google search engine. Originally, they were intrigued by a mathematical challenge, so they developed an algorithm to rank Web pages. Today, Google is one of the world’s most highly valued brands, employing more than 30,000 people.

It is human nature to chuckle at a study titled “Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig,” yet this research led to a treatment for hearing loss in infants. Similar examples abound. Transformative technologies such as the Internet, fiber optics, the Global Positioning System, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer touch-screens and lithium-ion batteries were all products of federally funded research.

Yes, “the sex life of the screwworm” sounds funny. But a $250,000 study of this pest, which is lethal to livestock, has, over time, saved the U.S. cattle industry more than $20 billion. Remember: The United States itself is the product of serendipity: Columbus’s voyage was government-funded. Remember, too, that basic science, the seed corn of innovation, is primarily supported by the federal government — not industry, which is typically more interested in applied research and development.

While some policymakers continue to mock these kinds of efforts, researchers have remained focused on improving our quality of life. Scientific know-how, the engine of American prosperity, is especially critical amid intense budgetary pressures. Federal investments in R&D have fueled half of the nation’s economic growth since World War II. This is why a bipartisan team of U.S. lawmakers joined a coalition of science, business and education leaders to launch the Golden Goose Awards.

Federal support for basic science is at risk: We are already investing a smaller share of our economy in science as compared with seven other countries, including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Since 1999, the United States has increased R&D funding, as a percentage of the economy, by 10 percent. Over the same period, the share of R&D in the economies of Finland, Germany and Israel have grown about twice as fast. In Taiwan, it has grown five times as fast; in South Korea, six times as fast; in China; 10 times. In the United States, meanwhile, additional budget cuts have been proposed to R&D spending for non-defense areas. If budget-control negotiations fail, drastic across-the-board cuts will take effect in January that could decimate entire scientific fields.

Columbus thought he knew where he was going, but he didn’t know what he had found until many years later. He was searching for the Orient, but he discovered something even better: the New World.

Let’s honor our modern-day explorers. We need more of them. They deserve the last laugh.

I woke up with a headache this morning from too little sleep and way too much stimulation from the presidential debate, but with a tiny bit more understanding of the bajillion people on this planet that are fanatical about sports.

I don’t watch any sports, live or on TV, other than tennis. And even then only if its on. My family, and many, many other people, spend hours looking at and talking about sports. The only time this obsession had any impact on  my life was when I celebrated holidays with my family and football was on. All of them are screamers. My brothers, sisters, and their spouses and children. As in screaming at top voice at the TV if things in the game are going well, or if they are going poorly. This is a loud & stressful experience.

Last night during the debate, as I was yelling, gesturing rudely, gloating and furiously checking twitter & facebook, I realized I was behaving like a sports fan. Politics, it turns out, is my sport. A blood sport with deeply important, far-reaching, societal and humanitarian implications, but a “sport” nonetheless. Good clean fun.

It certainly explains the disconnect between me and my family. I never understand why they thought football was important, and they never understood why I thought social issues were important. They would have been shocked and baffled to see me throwing my hands up in a touch down gesture when Obama scored laughs with the audience, or when Romney let his shovel of a mouth dig a hole with women.

Before I end this I just have to say – binders full of women? gosh, get married before you have babies?  a flexible work schedule so you can get dinner on the table? – does he really think women will join him & Ryan on their trek back to the 1950’s?

I know the seasons not over yet, but my team clearly won last nights game.

Since I only have a few minutes, I am only going to focus on a few minutes out of the Vice Presidential debate last night.

If you put aside all the “malarkey”, distortions and ideological nuances, what the debate last night gave us was a very clear picture of two forms of government. Answering the question asked by Raddatz, “What role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion”, the candidates gave voters a fundamental choice between systems of government. Continue reading

Had another close encounter at my gym today. The facility I use is owned and run by Orthodox Jews but is also heavily populated by black Baptist women. This means its not only closed for Simchat Torah but for Good Friday too. Holiday closings can get irritating and I am always on the verge of quiting and finding a new gym.

This morning, as I was leaving, a Christian woman (evidenced by the cross necklace and church group sweatshirt) flung “Have a blessed day” at me. The problem is that not only is this a religious ambush, but its also insistent. Not “I hope you have”, or a request like “God bless you today”, but a command –  “Have A Blessed Day”. When someone says it to me my impulse is to say something snappy in return like, “Make me” or “Not if I can help it”, but that seems unnecessarily antagonistic. It is after all a casual religious intrusion rather than a formal one. The kind we are supposed to ignore in the polite society. I may have to write Miss Manners about this one so I can get one of her socially appropriate, cheeky answers.

If you follow the standard that you are the religion of the vagina that expelled you, I would be considered a lapsed Catholic. I usually just say I was “raised Catholic” because that’s where it began and ended, but even when I participated in all the functions and folderol, I would never impose my religious beliefs on anyone else. That’s downright rude if you ask me.

That brings me to another bizarre moment. Some people higher up on the food chain than me were going on about how impressed they were that Romney did his mission work in France and had to speak French to try and convert people to Mormonism. As if it is somehow remarkable that he could be annoying in more than one language. Didn’t speaking French help label John Kerry an elitist? I sense a double standard in play – its OK to speak another language if you will use it to bend others to your will.

I am glad Mitt Romney speaks more than one language, everyone should as citizens of the world, but I draw the line at admiring his proselytizing for the Mormon Church. We are constantly being subjected to formal religious ambush. Our house is regularly visited by the “elders” from LDS that would like to engage us in hearing the word. And the Jehovah’s. And the Baptists from the church a few blocks over. You’d think we were a bunch of heathens or something to attract so much attention.

I do my best to get us off their lists by informing them that we are Jewish (my husband and daughter), and by stringing Tibetan prayer flags across the front porch. But in the atmosphere of the election, with Mormons living across the street from us and Pre-Vatican II Catholics on the other side, I can’t predict how long it will be before I counter-attack some hapless bearer of Good News with a big ole Sez You.

I’m sure my manners and religious tolerance will return on November 7th.

Everything that could be said about the presidential debate on Wednesday appeared to have been said by 9 am Thursday. God bless the Internet, Twitter and instant fact-checker blogs. I think we read most of it before we even went to sleep. What did we do four years ago? I can’t even remember. My daughter remembers the debate watch party we had in 2008, but not much about the debate. I wonder if she will remember this one.

The thing I will remember is the unabashed, repetitive lying and distortion.

We may never go back to truth telling in this country again. Or maybe we will get to the place where we require Fair Witnesses, white robes and all. Come to think of it I may need to re-read Heinlein as I no longer Grok how lies are told and become conspiracy theories, are reported as news and then endlessly commented upon.

I don’t know who is being persuaded by what at this point. The psychology behind it predicts more of the same. Democrats had better be running everything flat out as if we are about to lose tomorrow. Its the only way to win.

While I have not engaged in a scientific study I do believe I have recently heard the Worst Reason Ever for voting for Romney.

A potential voter said (I will find the link so you can listen for yourself) that he usually votes Republican but he gave Obama a chance so we could have the first black president. He is disappointed because he thought that would mean we would have a post-racial society and since it didn’t work, he’s voting for Romney. “Maybe he can fix all this race nonsense.”

I would bet that creating a post-racial society isn’t even on Romney’s radar. Furthermore, I would be knock-me-down-with-a-feather surprised if Romney and his allies didn’t consider themselves to be “color-blind”. You remember color-blind, that’s when someone with white skin pretends that the color of someones non-white skin is not a factor in their identity. Isn’t that nice of us to say we will completely ignore and disregard a part of your identity for your own good?

That’s the kind of post-racial Mr Disappointed Voter will be looking at with a Romney administration. All those pesky minority issues will go away because the majority doesn’t EVER have to pay attention to them unless they want to. And who wants to? It’s a depressing bore to be reminded that someone thinks they are being treated badly because of their color (or sex or religion).

“Nobody gives me a free pass just cuz I’m white right? I worked for everything I have, no one gave me any handouts…” Blah, blah, blah.

OK that was a little rant-y. If I had more time today I would circle back to the misunderstood comment Obama made that no one makes it alone. Not having to recognize your advantage is called White Privilege, sometimes its also white male privilege. You can learn about it at Teaching Tolerance, or Peggy Macintosh, or the white privilege conference or Tim Wise, a white man out teaching other white men.

Anyway I think Obama’s failure to create a post-racial America through his sheer existence wins Worst Reason Ever. It certainly beats my previous favorite. A West Virginia man said he was voting for Romney because, “Hussein – as in Barack Hussein Obama – means I hate coal.”

And that one was even a little bit funny.

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We are the 47% may not become a crowd chant but it sure does make for interesting news & commentary. Thank you Mr. Romney, for so firmly removing the foot from your mouth and speaking the truth as you know it.

Behind his comments about 47% of the US population believing they are entitled to food, housing and health care, lurks the fact that many people do believe it to be true. Many people, like myself, believe the US government should subsidize health care, food and housing for those who cannot acquire those things through their own work. The difference between Mr. Romney and this bleeding heart liberal is that I know for a fact that hard work does not always get you what you need.

People accuse Romney of “being out of touch” but this implies he was ever in touch with the experiences of working class or poverty class people in the US. I think he is insulated, as Obama is now too, from the day-to-day realities of working for a living. And not quite making it. A symptom of the Internet age if you ask me.

What we have is a social & cultural Bubble. Even though we each have access to scads of information and experience (especially the wealthy and privileged) it is still completely normal to live in a social Bubble where most everyone thinks like you. And, because the Internet makes it so easy, we can filter out all the information that does not reinforce our current beliefs. People tend to live near people with similar values, which means dissent is reduced or limited through social politeness. In other words, a Bubble. There is an interesting quiz you can take to find out about your Bubble.

Some people would say that they do not live in a bubble – they are informed citizens! I would argue that they probably spend more time reading the back of cereal boxes than they do reflecting on their information diet. The Bubble can be a place of perfect ignorance and safety.

I remember once hearing Clarence Thomas talk about how programs like Affirmative Action should be eliminated because they are not needed. The interviewer was incredulous and said something along the lines of what about all the people who experience(d) obstacles because of race or gender? and Justice Thomas answered, and I paraphrase: I don’t know anyone like that. Its hard to fathom the monumental hubris it takes to imply that something not part of my experience, cannot be part of yours.

But thats the key. Thomas didn’t know anyone who experienced prejudice and Romney doesn’t know anyone who works really hard and still can’t get ahead. It is also a valid experience that bootstraps break off and you can find yourself suddenly on your ass. I doubt that’s part of the Romney narrative. Their bootstraps seem to be sewn on good and tight.

The 47% comment has put us back at the fundamental question of who we believe we are as a country. I have ranted about this before – are we a country who takes care of our citizens? Or are we a country that protects the morality of our citizens? Or maybe we are simply a country that works hard to stay in our Bubble.

 

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Despite the teasing similarity to the Mickey Rourke/Kim Basinger movie from the 80’s, the 7 1/2 weeks I’m thinking about is the count down to election day.  Because I have answered previous phone polls about the election, I’m moving up the food chain. The other night I got a call from an actual research group I had heard of – Meyers Research – rather than “Citizens for Kicking the Bum Out” or “Us United Against Them”. It was refreshing to be asked actual, rather than leading, questions. The last question she asked was “Would you be willing to speak with someone from NBC about your opinions?”

I would be delighted.

I think the attention stems from a couple of things. First, we still have a land line so they can more easily interrupt our dinner, secondly we live in a very important swing state, and last but not least I am a registered voter who doesn’t hang up on pollsters.

I am therefore relevant. At least for the next 7 1/2 weeks.

I heard an interesting speaker at an event the other night reminding people that you’re not relevant if you only participate in the “historical election” and then sit out every other election. You have to be a citizen all the time to be relevant. Its an excellent point that I hope takes root. He was preaching to the choir a bit, but the choir needs tuning once in a while if you ask me.

In fine curmudgeon fashion I often hector people about the importance of voting in primaries. If you don’t vote in the primary, in the general election you have effectively become a toddler presented with two limited choices. Its behavior modification 101 for parents – “Should we play with the blue man who says we should all share our toys, or should we play with the red man who thinks everyone should only play with their own toys?”  While limited choices can mean limited temper tantrums, it surely has led to greater polarization locally, regionally and nationally.

I am in favor of our elected officials (and voting public) graduating from the current toddler model to middle school behavior. In middle school at least you try to act cool & smart even if there are cliques, bullies, angry outbursts and random irrational behavior by authority figures. It may be ambitious to think we can convince Americans to “Get Wonky Wit It” but its worth a try. (Will Smith sampling Bill Clinton, a new Tweet tone for your NPR news feed!) Especially since we are about to enter debate season.

So for the next 7 1/2 weeks if more fake and/or Republican pollsters call I will continue to do my patriotic duty and let them know that this African-American, Jewish, former Republican woman has converted to the compassionate liberal ticket and hates Paul Ryan who will be solely responsible for Romney’s failure to win.

If legitimate researchers or pollsters call asking lovely, chewy policy questions, I will happily give them thoughtful and truthful answers. Can’t win if you don’t play. And its all in play now.

I wanted to call this post “F-you Chris Christie” and leave it at that. However, there was so much in his keynote to take offense at I thought folks might need the specific reference that made me so furious. And I quote:

“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.” Emphasis added by me.

This is not the first, and will surely not be the last, instance of doublespeak by GOP candidates, but I count it as one of the most insulting. I cannot think of a clearer example of a federal bureaucrat coming between a woman and her doctor than the platform plank that calls for eliminating abortion without exception. A woman’s doctor would not be allowed to prescribes abortion for any reason if republicans are able to continue their state by state assault campaign to create ever more restrictive abortion laws. The Guttmacher Institute chart (below) speaks volumes.

Abortion used to be legal in the US. The really dirty truth is that the American Medical Association became seriously focused driving the “untrained” out of the profession, to justify professional credentialing and build private practices.  So they had to stop midwives from dipping into their profits. An easy way to do that was to criminalize abortion unless a licenced physician judged it necessary.

Which meant that rich women got abortions, poor women got back alley hatchet jobs, the midwife tradition was lost for generations and we went from Comstock laws to Roe v.Wade to the 2012 Republican Convention.

And along the way the republicans never bother to let the truth get in their way.

After the doctor/patient doublespeak by Mr. Christie, I want to know why the stage didn’t erupt in hellfire from the force of the lie. Isn’t God (or the Devil) supposed to be paying close attention to every little detail of all of our lives? There should have been some smiting going on last night if you ask me.

I just saw an interesting program on the American abortion debate on FaultLines on Al-JazeeraEnglish. The premise of the show is that they examine the role of the US in the world from the AlJazeera perspective. I think there were a few places they could have provided additional viewpoints (its pretty heavy on the anti-choice rhetoric & plays into a few stereotypes I could live without), but it was refreshing to see someone at least attempt to be balanced about presenting why this is such a divisive issue for the US. 

As a parent I spend a great deal of time making sure that my child’s opinions and arguments are supported by facts and evidence. Since she was very small we made it clear to her that she was free to believe anything she wanted, but that it didn’t make it true. “What do you think?” was, and is, asked frequently because she has to know how to jump start her thinking, and root it in logic, without us spoon feeding her.

She has shifted her belief system many times and probably will again before all is said and done. Once, when she was 4 or 5 years and had started getting into computer games, we were shopping at Costco and she asked me if we were really people in computer game that someone else was playing. I said ‘what do you think’ and she followed this argument line for a while ending with the conclusion that it was silly.

I remember this incident because a woman nearby overheard her question and stopped dead in her tracks with her jaw hanging. Cracked me up. A few years later she decided there was no God because it didn’t make sense. Who am I to argue.

My point is that we work very, very hard to make sure that she can separate what is belief, which requires no evidence, and what is fact, which requires evidence. I would like the rest of the f’n  world to work as hard as I do at preserving this important distinction.

Right now Romney trying to distance himself from Akin and Dr. Jack Willke even though he was once proud that Willke “supported and endorsed” him in 2007. Willke is the medical doctor, and so called father of the pro-life movement, who “BELIEVES” the theory that rape induced pregnancies are rare, and “BELIEVES” the trauma of rape shuts down the woman’s reproductive system. Willke “BELIEVES” this so much that he has included it in educational materials and calls himself an expert on human sexuality.

Can we revoke this mans medical licence for not knowing biology? Or can we at least make people who believe this kind of stuff have to wear signs that say “Crazy Town Banana Pants”?

I mean come on!

Its hard to believe people can be this ignorant of basic biology, but I guess if it interferes with your world view you can just leave bits out.  Personally I don’t BELIEVE that Romney and Ryan are possible as a presidential ticket, does that mean they will just quit and go away?

I’ll just take that one on Faith.

Sometimes the republicans just make it too easy.

Todd Akin cannot back pedal fast enough to make up for his idiotic comments about “legitimate rape” and abortion. Its not an error, or foot-in-mouth disease, its only the truth leaking out.

Hyper conservatives are being forced to condemn his comments as indefensible and Karl Rove’s PAC is pulling ads. All in all a good day for getting people on the record trying to distance themselves from stupidity. Take Rep. Jeff Flake, who I picked for a random spot check because of his name. Flake is running for Senate in Arizona, tweeted “I oppose abortion, but exceptions must be made for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother”. You don’t say! Lets look at Jeff’s record for a minute:

That would mean that Jeff has now made his first ever exception to his 100% pro-life record. Kudos Jeff!

Fish in a barrel.

Now that abortion is front and center in the public discussion again, I want folks to remember that this whole “its not really rape” issue exists solely to prevent an exemption for abortion. The crazy talk about women being raped secreting “special secretions” – I wish I made this shit up – so they can’t get pregnant, means that if they do get pregnant, they weren’t really raped. It wasn’t a legitimate or forcible rape, the made up terms that Ryan and Akin favor.  Get it?

I really hope we can get deep enough into the topic to hear about Ryan’s position that the definition of life is tied to economic freedom. It is essential that people understand that when Ryan advocates for fetal “personhood” he fundamentally opposes human rights for women.

I have a slightly different view than Ryan in that I believe economic freedom also belongs to women and is truly possible if and only if they have agency over their reproduction. If, when and how.

It should be a human right for a woman to access any medical procedure that stops conception, interrupts conception or aborts conception for any reason, at any time in their reproductive lives, and up to 24 weeks of gestation of the fetus. This is not a moral decision, a group decision or anything that Anthony Comstock ever should have had his filthy hands on.

Remember when republicans are talking about rape they are always talking about abortion.