Month: January 2017

The Extra Rights of Men in the American Patriarchy

Donald Trump had a pitifully small crowd at his inauguration, which was dwarfed by Women’s March protests the following day, not only in D.C., but in cities around the country and world. Irked at the global show of defiance to their Dear Leader, Trumpistas have taken to social media with memes of befuddlement about with what these tens of millions of women could possibly be upset. Well, it was overall an anti-Trump movement, but, being a Women’s March, there were protesters and marchers with myriad focuses. Some were there for reproductive rights, some for gender equality, for lgbtq rights,  immigrant rights, religious freedom, economic justice,  climate change, education…

Skeptical memes have boiled down to two things: get over it, and what rights do men have that women do not? As for the request to lie down and allow Emperor Trump to run amok: denied. As for the question of women’s rights:

Free the nipple. Now, it may seem like a trivial thing, but the fact that men have the right to go topless and women do not speaks to an overall theme of power and control over women’s bodies. Female breasts are not to remain hidden because they are different than those of men, but simply because they belong to women. It’s not about shape; plenty of men have relatively large chests, and vice versa with women. The main difference between the chests of women and men is function. The fact that breast feeding is not at all a sexual act does not, however, prevent men from being sexually attracted. We’re attracted to feet and thick lips and all sorts of things that do not require covering. We single out female breasts because the straight white men who’ve been in charge are sexually attracted to them, and want them to remain sexualized, no matter the hypocritical violation of equal protection that it creates for women.

Speaking of unwanted over-sexualization; in the rare instance when we admit that it might have actually occurred, we blame survivors of sexual assault for having the temerity to consume alcohol in the general proximity of preying men, or for being too scantily clad for our puritanical sensibilities. We give women and girls instructions on how to not get raped; rather than give boys firm guidelines regarding consent. We have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kids, for god’s sake.

This attitude even seeps its way into the treatment of children, as every year there are numerous stories of crusty old men being overcome by arousal at the sight of students in their prom dresses, and teachers feeling compelled into action by young girls in class with tight pants. Just because you cannot control your perverted old man boner does not give you the right to single out, reprimand, and body-shame a child.
We’re all about shaming, though. While men are generally celebrated for sexual conquests, abstinence-only sex-ed has taught impressionable young girls that they are chewed up pieces of gum if they dare engage in sexual relations outside of marriage.

We have sharia law theocrats in government that want to not only slut-shame women and girls, but actually punish them for having sex for pleasure by any means necessary. They don’t want the youth to have the knowledge to keep from getting pregnant, or access to birth control without parental permission. They don’t want health insurance to guarantee birth control; they refuse to allow any federal funds to pay for abortion.

They fight existing social insurance like Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), and welfare (TANF); and against proposed programs such as mandatory paid maternity leave and universal pre-k.

/Bodily autonomy is as fundamental a right as a person can have, and countless women, especially in conservative states, are denied this fundamental right in America. Clumps of cells are not living, breathing human beings. They just aren’t. We can have a conversation about the stage in pregnancy at which a fetus becomes viable (SCOTUS says 20 weeks, currently). But that is aside from the point, since late-term abortions are extremely rare, and only occur in cases when the health of the mother is in danger, or fetal abnormalities which won’t allow it to survive.

Besides, abortion bans do not prevent the need for abortion; they only block access of poor women to safe, regulated abortion, and force them into dangerous, back alley, Kermit Gosling with a coat hanger situations. Wealthy women don’t need family planning clinics when they can go their ob-gyn; and can afford to travel if local laws are too strict.

Lean in. Men have the right to be successful career-men without having their parenting skills and love for their children thrown into question. While men face the same work/life balance as women, there is entire cottage industry of books on the topic as it pertains to women. Female politicians are repeatedly pressed on the issue while men are not judged as a failure of a parent simply for having career success.

I am perfectly willing to admit that we have laws which favor women in regards to domestic violence calls and alimony; but what MRA Neanderthals and the very few with daddy issues bad enough to briefly date them need to admit: whether codified into law or simply in practice, women are at a disadvantage in practically every other area of American society. While we avoid some of the worse forms of misogyny such as female genital mutilation, honor killings, and femicide…

Females are 51% of the population, and earn 60% of college degrees, yet represent less than 20% of congress. They are underrepresented in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They are underrepresented in board rooms and executive suites.

Women with kids are paid less than those without; while men with kids are paid more than men without. And whatever the exact number is, women are paid less than men. Even when they do they same job, even when adjusting for maternity leave, the wage gap persists.

Successful women like Oprah Winfrey, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Serena Williams, Meryl Streep, and Sally Ride prove than women are easily as capable as men, if not more so. They are the exceptions that prove the rule.

No matter. Men want to punish, shame, and suppress women; and craft public policy to make them financially dependent. Simply put, men have more rights than women, and hoard power in industry and politics in order to maintain their status in the American patriarchy.

Democrat Party is a Shambles; Refuse to Accept Responsibility

Establishment Democrats are doing everything in their power to shift blame, and simply refuse to accept responsibility for their own failures. Their immediate response to their electoral drubbing proves that they’ve learned nothing from their mistakes, and will continue to simply point at the backward Republicans as their singular selling point.

Unfortunately for establishment Democrats and their fellow elites of corporate media, they spent eighteen months calling Donald Trump and his supporters a bunch of deplorable racists, yet the country chose that over whatever it is that Democrats are selling. While Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump was the headline act, Democrats were flatly rejected at every level: Republicans now control the House and Senate, the Supreme Court and over a hundred federal judicial seats waiting to be filled due to Republican obstruction, 33 of 50 governorships, and 69 of 99 state houses. In fact, Democrats lost over a thousand state and national-level seats during Barack Obama’s presidency.

None of that can be explained away by blaming Russia. That can’t be attributed to whitelash or sexism. That wasn’t the fault of James Comey or Julian Assange. Jill Stein didn’t do it, neither did Gary Johnson or Bernie Sanders, Millennials or People of Color. That wasn’t because of “fake news” or the Electoral College.

The Democrat Party is a shambles, and is completely devoid of leadership and an articulable reason for existing. If establishment Democrats weren’t a bunch of spineless corporate hacks, there would not have been the space for a mad man like Trump to become a viable candidate. Democrats are so incredibly useless that they managed to lose to the most-hated presidential candidate in US history.

And that’s pretty much the long and short of it: Trump happened for the same reason that Brexit and Nigel Farage happened in the UK; Marie La Pen in France; Geert Wilders in the Netherlands; Norbert Hofer in Austria; Peter Dutton in Australia; and Matteo Salvini & Beppe Grillo in Italy. Western governments have largely abandoned labor and their respective citizenries, and shifted more wealth & power toward multinational corporations & the wealthy.

It’s been decades in the making domestically. The great sorting of the political parties was set in motion when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Richard Nixon won two elections on the admittedly racist Southern Strategy; and his SCOTUS essentially legalized political bribery. Democrats freaked out and began the process of selling their souls by shunning unions. Jimmy Carter managed a brief stint in the White House as a Southern Evangelical. Then, Ronald Reagan successfully married the previously apolitical religious right with the Republican Party. “New” Democrats responded by doubling down on selling out and embraced triangulation.

Bill Clinton wanted to be seen as tough on crime, so he interrupted his presidential campaign to personally witness an execution in his home state of Arkansas. He strategically chided Black people in his infamous Sister Souljah moment. Hillary backed him by fear-mongering Black teenage “super-predators” who needed to be “brought to heel.” Prison populations exploded as result of the 1994 Crime Bill, three-strikes, and mandatory minimums; at the same time that welfare rolls were slashed. Bill Clinton had an agreement in place with Newt Gingrich to gut Social Security, which fell through the next day when Monica Lewinsky happened. WJC ordered the bombing of the only medicine factory in Sudan; and ended a sixty-year run of financial stability when he repealed Glass-Steagall. Even with that, Al Gore won the popular vote and the Electoral College, had ever-polite Democrats stood up for themselves.

The country was coming to the realization that the two major parties had merged into a single Money Party. Republicans tend to defeat Republican-lites, so Vietnam War-hero John Kerry lost to a draft-dodger who lied us into an illegal war because people would rather have a beer with an affable ignoramus.

Despite demographics shifting in their favor, and the country agreeing with their stated positions practically across the board, the
Democrat party was nonetheless on life support.

Along came Barack Hussein Obama, an attractive and eloquent orator capable of rousing masses of humanity with pretty words of hope & change. He was, alas, a temporary shot of steroids for the Democrats, who could uniquely increase voter turnout among young people and minorities.

The country and world economy had been brought to its knees at the hand of greedy capitalist banksters and corrupt corporatist politicians, and Obama was handed a veto-proof congressional super-majority. Rather than make homeowners and the working class whole again, Obama teamed with Bush to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars to the biggest banks. Rather than prosecute a single one of the fraudulent banksters, Obama let the CEO of Citigroup pick his entire cabinet, and had the Department of Homeland Security team with union cops to crack the skulls of peaceful Occupy protesters.

Obama spent the entirety of his political capital unsuccessfully trying to woo Republican votes for the Republican healthcare plan so that Republicans and the legacy media wouldn’t portray him as partisan. He tried, and failed, his entire eight years to make a grand bargain with Republicans to slash Social Security and Medicare in exchange for minimal tax increases; he made 90% of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.

Obama turned two wars into seven; kept our national disgrace of GITMO open; expanded and codified into law our unconstitutional mass surveillance programs; did a damned thing about drug wars, mass incarceration, or police brutality.

The country was ready for real, systemic change in 2009, and the American public gave Obama the go-ahead to carry it out. Instead, he betrayed the people who put him into office and laid the groundwork for Trump. Ignoring the warnings, establishment Democrats were determined that their hand-picked Chosen One run as the caretaker of the status quo. They and the corporate media were so insulated from the pain felt by the working class and poor folks, that they simply did not believe that the country was thirsting for a populist. They decided that the popularity of Trump could be written off as racism, and that that of Bernie Sanders could be ascribed to naïve, entitled, and sexist ideologues.

Post-election, the actions of establishment Democrats have failed to inspire confidence. Fundraiser extraordinaire Nancy Pelosi was reinserted as the leader of House Democrats; Wall Street’s best friend Chuck Schumer (who publically admitted to purposely abandoning Democratic voters in a failed attempt to woo Republicans) as leader of Senate Dems; and are insisting upon pro-TPP Tom Perez as the head of the DNC.

Rather than look internally, as Republicans did with the “autopsy” in 2012, Democrats refuse to even consider the notion that they did anything at all to cause their historic failure. Out of unearned respect, I’ll slap down their pathetic excuses one by one:

Electoral College: Yes, the system is terrible. Democrats have been screwed twice in the past five elections. And we have the Electoral College so slave states could count (3/5ths of) slaves, who couldn’t actually vote, for the purpose of gaining additional delegates. The Electoral College should be abolished; states could do it by simply banding together to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. But the Electoral College is a known factor that no one cares about until their team wins the popular vote but loses. Democrats have had 16 years since Bush v Gore to fix it, and they never bothered – it’s a post-election excuse.

James Comey: The FBI Director’s actions were indefensible; but whose fault is it that the Bush-appointee was still in charge of the FBI? Comey was in position to prolong the email saga (which was due to Hillary’s arrogance, even if it had nothing to do with Benghazi) because Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, are chosen by their donors specifically for their fecklessness.

Russia: Seventeen government agencies asserted that Russia hacked the DNC, John Podesta’s emails, and a number of state voter registries. Hillary Clinton and numerous surrogates accused Russia of cyber crimes and manipulation of the election. But to what end? While Hillary insisted that cyber crimes be answered with military force; Barack Obama doesn’t seem too worked up about it based upon his minimal sanctions; and former CIA Director Michael Hayden described Russia’s actions as “honorable state espionage.” Besides, I don’t want to hear a thing from Hillbots about intelligence agencies or nation-states meddling in foreign elections: Hillary supported regime change in Iraq, Libya, and Honduras; and questioned seriously why we allowed Palestinians to hold an election without first rigging the outcome.

Julian Assange

Wikileaks: I would prefer that Wikileaks curate their documents rather than release everything up to and including John Podesta’s risotto recipe, but that is their wont. Democrats are accusing Julian Assange of working with Putin, and he clearly has disdain for Hillary, but regardless of origin, the Podesta emails provided an invaluable peek inside the inner-workings of DC; and the heart of the outrage seems to be that voters were too well informed. Besides, hypocritical Hillary surrogates were more than happy to discuss Trump’s stolen tax returns.

Lefty Journos: Writers such as Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, & David Sirota were labeled useful idiots and agents of the Kremlin by the Democrat establishment for daring to report accurate information on their Chosen One. Reporting which does not upset power is not journalism but stenography. Try again.

Fake News: While misleading disinformation (and satire) is common, the phenomenon of “fake news” was conjured seemingly the moment Hillary conceded. A ploy meant to discredit dissenting voices and preserve the Overton window.

Third Parties: Blaming third parties is a time-honored tradition iof both major parties meant to enforce the false-binary of lesser-evilism. As per usual, beltway group-think is completely misguided: George H. W. Bush did not lose to Bill Clinton because of Ross Perot. Polling from before and after he left and re-entered the race showed that Perot took more support from Clinton than Bush.

Al Gore did not lose to George W. Bush because of Ralph Nader. Exit polls showed that half of Nader supporters would’ve voted Bush, not Gore. In fact, three million registered Democrats voted for Bush nationwide, including 190k in deciding Florida – where Gore lost by 94k.

Dr. Jill Stein Source: CC-BY, RAHurd

And finally, Hillary Clinton did not lose to Donald Trump because of Jill Stein. The Green Party candidate received just 1.2m votes. Hillary won the popular vote by nearly three millions, and still would’ve lost the Electoral College had she gotten Stein’s votes. Besides, similar to 2000, nine percent of registered Democrats voted for Trump, and half the country didn’t bother to vote at all. That has nothing to do with third parties and everything to do with the uselessness of the Democratic Party.

Millennials: Voted for Clinton more than any other age group. Old people were the problem.

People of Color and Muslims: Also voted Democrat by large margins (including Black women, Democrats’ most loyal demo); but Democrats hate their base, and love to blame voters for their own ineptitude.

Sexist Bernie Bros: No such thing; a regurgitation of the despicable Obama Boys smear of 2008. Using sexism as a political prop is disgusting, and minimizes actual misogyny – but that’s who corporate Democrats are.

Racism: Whitelash is a real thing. Surprise! America is racist. But racism and the culture wars aren’t exactly novel concepts. And hand-wringing over the fact that liberals haven’t been able to shame white people out of being racist yet doesn’t do a thing to address the problems of Democrats, who take minority votes for granted while hiring fewer Black senate senior staff members than Republicans.

Finally, here is what Democrats must do if they are to emerge from the ashes: Embrace lefty economic populism and reacquaint themselves with labor. Republicans are attempting to repeal Obamacare without a replacement. Democrats must immediately begin fighting for actual universal healthcare, by way of a single-payer system (public-option at minimum). They must fight for universal pre-k, free college, and student debt forgiveness.

Democrats must take concrete action on climate change and clean energy, and fully embrace Keynesian economic virtuosity of infrastructure spending. They must embrace net-neutrality, unions, Fight for Fifteen, job training programs backed up with actual jobs, guaranteed employment/income (negative income tax would be wonderful), loan programs for small businesses, put an end to corporate welfare for the largest multinational corporations, stop defending corporate-authored trade deals, fight against mega-mergers, and break-up monopolies.

Democrats must immediately put a halt to taking Wall Street bribes. Republicans already get the vast majority, and Democrats lose all credibility by taking what little they get, they are fools for continuing the practice, and must stop now. They must also stop taking the bribes of big pharma, big oil, big agriculture, private prisons, defense contractors, Silicon Valley, predatory pay-day lenders, charter schools, and lobbyists in general.

Image by Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Democrats must embrace Black Lives Matter, Code Pink, Planned Parenthood, and first nation water protectors at Standing Rock. They must fight to end prohibition and the drug wars, must lead the way on criminal justice reform, and defund police departments with a pattern of brutality. They must embrace Syrian refugees. They must support the boycott, divest, and sanction movement for a two-state solution and an end to Palestinian apartheid in the West Bank. They must take a stand against American imperialism, colonialism, and perpetual policy of foreign regime change.

Bernie Sanders showed Democrats the way. The septuagenarian socialist Jew with over-sized suits and unkempt hair proved that the American people are fed up with the status quo, are more interested with policy substance than political consultant-coached style, and willing to put their money where their mouth is. The Clintonite marionettes of the Democratic Party establishment spat in Bernie’s face, and turned away a generation of voters who attempted to infuse the Democratic Party with their energy. Only time will tell if Democrats learn from their mistakes, and begin the work of rebuilding their rubbish pile of a political party.

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