Category Archives: Politics

Florida Man, Texas Man (and other state and local atrocities)

Florida Republican Rep. Randy Fine is cool with erasing gay and trans people to supposedly protect children.

Unsurprisingly Ron DeSantis is cool with singling out Disney for higher taxes to punish them for not hating gays enough. Republican Nick DeCeglie has slipped an amendment into a bill that would target Disney for monorail inspections.

Some Florida legislators say they’re fed up with DeSantis using state policy to build his presidential cred. One sign is that DeSantis’ bill on suing media outlets more easily is DOA. Too bad that’s not the case for a bill that might let doctors refuse patients based on moral objections — and possibly let insurers refuse coverage too (Republicans deny that last part, but they lie a lot). But don’t worry for DeSantis, the Republicans in the legislature are all in on abortion bans, mother’s health be damned.

The next Florida health emergency might require legislative approval before health officials do anything.

“If someone wants to come to a public space and say, ‘We should reinstitute slavery,’ why are we afraid?” — Fla. Republican Spencer Roach on a bill he sponsored forcing colleges to host right-wing speakers in the name of Free Speech. Roach is also sponsoring a bill that would override local historic preservation rules to make it easier to build high rises.

Florida college students are not fond of DeSantis’ efforts to make state schools conform to party doctrine.

One Florida school district is currently dealing with fallout after a teacher showed a Confederate pride video celebrating the glorious CSA. Hmm, do you suppose DeStalinist will denounce it for possibly causing some students discomfort? Probably the teacher will do better than the anti-DeSantis superintendent whose license may be revoked for his defiance.

Don’t think it’s all about hating LGBTQ, Jews and uppity women and POC, though: there’s money in it: “The plan—which was proposed in March by board chair Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of the right-wing book-banning group Moms for Liberty and wife of the state GOP chair—would have cost the school district $28,000 and given Vermilion the job of reviewing and recommending teacher lesson plans, textbooks, and library books. The initial proposal would have also had the newfound consultancy agency sit in on teacher interviews and review district policies and procedures, costing the school district $4,820 a month.”

Wouldn’t you know, Florida birthed Moms for Liberty, which masks their hate by pretending to protect children. And if you’re wondering about all those Republican states weakening child labor laws, they also trace back to one Florida right-wing group.

The Texas Senate has banned tenure for new professors, though the bill may have a tougher time in the house. The Senate also passed a bill requiring posting the Ten Commandments in schools., which Lt. Governor Dan Patrick brags will bring prayer back to schools (spoiler: it never left). They’re also busy restricting library books. Oh, and restricting which precincts you can vote in. Oh and here’s a goody: by increasing medical liability for any problems with trans care, even if the doctor’s not at fault, a new bill would leave doctors on the hook if anything goes wrong. What a vicious, sneaky way to discourage doctors providing care.

In my state, North Carolina, Tricia Cotham — the representative who recently switched from Dem to Republican — is a perfect example of Murc’s law. It’s not because there’s any personal gain to her from siding with the dominant party, it’s that her evil Democratic colleagues forced her to switch. She’s apparently gotten rid of her support for gay rights; too bad as NC Republicans are joining in on the criminalize-drag-show trend.

Montana tells NC trans legislators to hold my beer. Trans legislator Zooey Zephyr stood up to the powers that be on this issue. So did her supporters. The powers that be, as you can see, were not happy (she’s now having to vote remotely, having been banned from the floor).

Given right-to-lifers’ use of the Comstock laws and other old anti-abortion laws, it’s good Michigan Democrats are repealing the state’s ban on couples living together. Republicans oppose repeal. Michigan’s also repealed the state’s old abortion ban. North Dakota, however, has banned it almost completely — and there are no abortion clinics left in the state.

Alabama forced a state official out for writing the wrong sort of book.

In Georgia, Chatam County Republicans want to ban LGBTQ from the Republican Party.

Tennessee State Rep. Scotty Campbell was all in favor of expelling the two black reps who took an anti-gun stance. Turns out he’s resigning over sexual harassment.

An Ohio anti-trans activist told the legislature that non-Christian elected officials are possessed by demons.

A New Mexico state law guarantees access to abortion. A forced-birth city is suing against it.

Right-wing fascists took over a California town. Now one journalist covering them faces death threats. In Michigan’s quietly Republican Ottawa County, things have also gone crazy.

Who knows what’s ahead? Right-wing twit Ben Shapiro thinks local communities should be able to ban men from wearing traditional female clothes in public. Love that right-wing fondness for limited government.


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I’d like belief, I’ll settle for support

For months now, America’s right wing has been on a non-stop shriek-a-thon about woke business. Budweiser has a trans spokesperson in the Superbowl ad? They’re woke! Disney markets to gays? They’re woke! Rainbow-creme oreos to celebrate pride? Woke!

In reality, of course, it’s the free market at work. Gays and trans people are a demographic that buys stuff; American corporations want to get their money. Ergo, be LGBTQ friendly, much as companies in the 1970s branded themselves as friends to liberated women.

I feel about this the same way I do politics. I much prefer politicians who sincerely share my values; I’ll settle for politicians who’ll enforce them out of self-interest. Whether Democrats are pro-choice because they believe in the right to abortion or they’re pro-choice to get themselves re-elected, it gets the same results. Part of being a voter is finding the politicians who’ll deliver the most bang for the buck, not the one who reflects your personal ideas best. It often requires compromise, but that’s politics.

On gay issues, I suspect a lot of business leaders are pro-gay or at least not anti-. The culture has shifted radically and gay acceptance is much more widespread than the end of the last century, 23 years ago. For all the outrage on the right, a large chunk of America doesn’t think catering to the LBGTQ market is a bad thing; it’s no longer a controversial or daring stand.

That’s part of the problem for the right — the realization that companies are not only willing to compete for LGBTQ dollars, they don’t see a downside to doing so. It’s like the old urban legend that Proctor and Gamble was openly Satanist and sneered that “there are not enough Christians in America” to cause any blowback. The reminder that outside the Republican Party the right-wing doesn’t have enough clout to force companies to change has to stick in their craw. Heck, Disney’s response to Ron DeSantis’ trying to bully it is to schedule a pride event. Conversely, Oklahoma officials talking about how they miss the days of lynching produces more outrage and criticism than a century ago.

Another issue, I suspect, is that right wingers such as Matt Walsh — who has embraced a Bud Light boycott as the great crusade of our time — know that being inclusive from self-interest leads to real inclusion. The more companies send a message of “we’re cool with gay, give us your money” the more normal and acceptable being gay/trans looks. This may be part of Ron DeSantis and others pushing don’t say gay in schools. Seeing gay teachers, gay fellow students, reading about gays makes it easier (I assume) for other gay kids to come out, and for straight kids to see gays are just like them, unremarkable and not the sick fiends of right-wing propaganda. Keeping them quiet, keeping pride symbols out of school, that works the other way. It’s the same logic by which attorney Matt Staver wants Christian schools to exclude kids with gay parents — otherwise students might meet them and learn gays aren’t monsters!

This is what happens when you build a worldview on a tissue of lies, you have to live in perpetual fear that reality will rip it apart.


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Undead sexist cliches about women’s looks

As the WaPo’s Monica Hesse put it after Kamala Harris became Biden’s VP pick, “I keep thinking about how, at some point in Kamala Harris’s life, she has painstakingly reviewed her office wardrobe with the understanding that the difference between “slut” and “feminazi” is a few inches of worsted-wool hemline.”

Or as Deborah Tannen put it, there is no neutral feminine appearance. A man can put on a suit that says nothing but “I’m wearing a suit” or “I’m going to my job.” A woman’s appearance is taken to mean something: if she’s businesslike and non-sexy the meaning is not “I’m going to work” but that she’s a frigid bitch, asex, or a frump who doesn’t know how to dress. As I discussed in a previous post, women have been fired for not looking good but  they’ve also been fired for looking too sexy.

Women are judged by their looks in a way men never are. It’s fine for men such as Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich to have opinions without being even marginally attractive, but women?  If they aren’t pretty their opinions don’t count. Thus a longstanding attack on feminists going back to the days of the suffragettes is that all feminists are ugly. This is bad in itself but it’s also bad because it implies they don’t care about men’s opinions.  For example, UK businessman Demetri Marchessini declared in 2005 that women who wear trousers must be hostile to men because “they are deliberately dressing in a way that is opposite to what men would like. It is behaviour that flies against common sense, and also flies against the normal human desire to please.” Yes, god forbid women dress in a way total strangers don’t approve of. But that’s a common assumption.

Trying to live up to the standards of guys like Marchessini is a rigged game. Look too pleasing and that’s grounds for not taking a woman seriously or blaming her for her rapist’s actions. As noted at the link, it doesn’t matter what her reasons were: she looked good for work, for a date, for a date with her husband, because she wanted a one-night stand (going out looking for sex does not mean she has no right of refusal — it’s still rape). All that matters is what the rapist, the cops, the judge and the jury think of the way she dressed.

If the woman isn’t naturally attractive and she’s making an effort to look good, that’s a black mark against her too. Women are supposed to be natural beauties, like the songs that celebrate how the singer’s girlfriend doesn’t wear lipstick or makeup. Sure, a little effort might be acceptable — they’re supposed to look good for guys, after all — but trying too hard? Using botox or plastic surgery to look better than she really is? ROFL, how pathetic she is! It’s the “few inches of hemline” rule again.

Case in point, I remember an article about the foot damage caused by high heels and the doctor kind of rolled his eyes about how yeah, it’s bad, but you just can’t stop those crazy women from being fashionable. No concession that pop culture mocks women wearing “sensible shoes” as either frumpy, lesbian or both.

I think this partly ties into the ideal of the “low maintenance” woman. If she’s just a naturally good-looking woman who’s not making any real effort — she’s nice, easy-going, not worrying about her diet, and not going to make any demands of him. As one writer put it (Foz Meadows I think, but I can’t find a link to confirm it), if the guy accepts the woman’s appearance is natural, he doesn’t have to think about what’s behind the pleasing surface It’s easier for him, just as it’s easier if a woman comes from PIV sex without any added effort on the guy’s part (as discussed in The Technology of Orgasm).

Women can be judgmental about men’s looks but society doesn’t approve of them looking at men purely as eye candy and not considering their feelings.

For more on misogyny, check out my Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holders.

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Republicans doing whatever it takes

Llano County, Texas’ county commission replaced its library board in 2021 and began removing books from the shelves (dealing with race and LGBTQ stuff, are you surprised?). They’ve been sued and the judge has issued a ruling the books go back on the shelf for now. The commission’s solution: shut down the library.

House Republicans have proposed a bill that would shield future presidents from state prosecutions, shifting them to the Republican dominated federal courts.

Missouri State Senator and Republican Mike Moon opposes gender-affirming care for trans minors, but he’s fine with 12-year-olds being able to marry.

Jared Woodfill is an anti-gay Texas Republican attorney … who not only knew and covered up that his law partner was a pedophile, he hired young men to work for his partner, some of whom claim they were assaulted.

A new bill in Florida would exempt travel records for state leaders from the state’s strong public records law, as well as hiding the names of visitors to the governor’s mansion. Hmm, could it be Ron DeStalinist has something to hide? Still, to give DeSantis his credit, he’s been very successful at crushing black political power in the state.

When Republicans approved mifepristone-banning judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, they knew he was a strong forced-birther. Now that right-to-life has proven a loser at the voting booth, they’re not celebrating the ban. Go figure.

Iowa will no longer provide free emergency contraception for rape victims.

If you’re wondering how bad, legally, Kacsmaryk’s ruling on mifepristone was, here’s a deep dive. Spoiler: it’s very bad.

So is Gov. Gregg Abbott’s argument that the guy who shot a BLM protester should be pardoned because he had fear for his life: “At Perry’s trial, a defense expert testified that Foster could have raised his rifle and shot Perry in well less than a second. This is irrelevant. Texas is an open carry state. Anyone openly carrying a rifle could, in theory, point, aim, and kill someone in a fraction of a second. If what Foster did justifies lethal self-defense, you could plausibly argue the same about anyone carrying a rifle in public, particularly at a protest, or at any tense situation where there’s the possibility of conflict.”

Speaking of Texas, a new bill that would allow the Texas Secretary of State to invalidate county election results is very precise in effect: “What makes this proposal so egregious is that the bill’s very own text says it only applies to counties with a population of 2.7 million or more. Why such an oddly specific number? Texas’ second-biggest county, Dallas, has a population of 2.6 million, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates. The law would therefore cover Harris County and only Harris County.”

Abbott and Texas Republicans are also pushing for legislation that blocks local government from enacting labor, environmental, anti-discrimination and other rules that go beyond state regulations — like requiring water breaks for construction workers.

Looking for a state board gig in Arkansas? The application includes a 500-word essay requirement saying what you admire about Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (she subsequently dropped this).

While Republicans’ relentless hunt for election-related fraud has never produced any fraud, it’s driving honest election officials out.

Kansas Republicans narrowly failed to push through a bill that, among other things, would ban covid-vaccine requirements for schools and make it easier to claim a vaccine exemption for kids even without a religious reason.

Remember the guy who attacked Paul Pelosi while hunting for Rep. Nancy Pelosi? Sen. Ted Cruz shared tweets claiming the story of the attack was bogus — and he won’t apologize.

For Republican Jim Banks, opposing wokeness means opposing diversity in federal agencies.

Along with coming for our birth control, Republicans are coming for Social Security.

“I always knew they had drugs. They all had pot. If I needed a kid removed, I would just ask the question and 90 percent of the time, they’d say something stupid and that was enough to remove them from my classroom.” — from a profile of a particularly loathsome member of the right-wing Moms for Liberty. Her actions allegedly include using a dead woman’s online accounts to harass other people.

Equally charming, the officials in McCurtain County OK wax nostalgic on tape about the days when you could get away with lynching blacks.

Ron DeSantis remains a tinpot dictator.

I’ll wrap up by saying something I rarely get to say: good for the Republican National Committee for condemning anti-Semitism in a resolution. It won’t stop elected officials screaming about George Soros, the International Jewish Banker (nope, nothing anti-Semitic there!) but I’ll take every bit of decency I can find.

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The right-to-life movement lies a lot

Matt Walsh has been ranting about trans people on Twitter lately, shrieking about how their terrorists, monsters, Something Must Be Done — and declaring that the trans movement consists of the worst liars in America. That’s almost amusing coming from a misogynist forced-birther such as Welsh because (as I point out in Undead Sexist Cliches) misogyny is built on lies and false beliefs. As for political movements, the right-to-life movement — of which Walsh is part — lies a lot more.

For example, many forced-birthers say they don’t want to punish the mother who gets abortions and that she won’t be punished: women weren’t punished pre-Roe and won’t be now. I’ve seen lots of public statements and interviews to that effect. But in 2019, Georgia passed a bill that potentially allowed the state to prosecute women who get abortions; the right-to-life movement gave it thumbs up. Multiple states have considered laws to prosecute women since and some candidates have supported the idea.

I see lots of hand-wringing about it on the right but no actions — like, say, “If you push for punishing women, we’ll primary you hard.”  Plus of course, women are already punished and the movement stays quiet. To say nothing of forcing women to bear dead babies or opposing even a mother’s life-exemption, something they rationalize by lying abortion is never necessary to save the mother’s life. As for rape, they claim pregnancy never happens if it’s a “legitimate” rape, and if it does happen, well, God wants her to be a mommy. Is she going to refuse God’s wonderful gift?

And despite the religious right’s long history of opposition to birth control, Walsh can still shriek about how no, of course they’re not opposed to birth control (I’m not linking to it though). Tell that to Colorado.

Then there’s the claim that the big issue with Roe was that abortion should be left to the states. That was supposedly the result of the Dobbs decision.  Now, of course, Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has banned mifepristone nationwide; I don’t anticipate an outcry from the forced-birth movement. Nor if he gets the chance to declare fetal personhood (his opinion declares that “fetus” is less scientific a term than “unborn human.”). And his decision is, by the way, based on complete bullshit: “It was a simple assertion of dominance, a clear statement that the right will stop at absolutely nothing – including the outer bounds of American law – to force women into compliance.”

And let’s not forget the sunny assurances that with Roe overturned, Republicans will now care more for mothers and kids. Or that they believe just saying no to sex takes care of the problem. In a sense, many of them don’t even tell the truth when they say abortion is wrong: lots of right-to-life women get abortions, which says they do believe “My body, my choice” — they just lie to themselves that their abortion is unlike any of those other abortions.

I’ll leave you with Jessica Valenti’s thought that it’s not just the forced-birth actions that stick in her craw, “It’s the looks on the faces of the men who are ruining us.  Donald Trump. Brett Kavanaugh. Matthew Kacsmaryk. Smug and assured, ignorant and shameless. Somehow we’ve ended up with the dregs of humanity robbing us of our own.

What makes this all so much worse is that men like these actually do think they know better than we do. In spite of their absolute mediocrity and near-unbelievable idiocy, these men truly believe they are the ones best suited to make decisions about our bodies and futures.”

Undead Sexist Cliches is available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holders.


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I imagine Ron DeSantis does not want people reading this book

Because Philip Dray’s AT THE HANDS OF PERSONS UNKNOWN: The Lynching of Black America (edited to get title right) probably would make some students uncomfortable with its story of how brutally many whites have treated several thousand blacks (and some whites too) and how other whites turned a blind eye.

I thought I knew how horrifying lynching was but this book was an eye-opener. People taking home knucklebones from a corpse as souvenirs. Children posing next to a hanged black man for a photo (many post-lynching photographs would become postcards). A black WW II veteran having his eyes burned out with a blow torch. All of it done without benefit of trial, frequently to innocent men (and sometimes women), on the bullshit rationalization that supporters of “Judge Lynch’s law” were protecting white women from being defiled by lecherous black men (in some states, sex between a black man and a white woman was automatically classed as rape). All of it originally done as a community public spectacle; criticism in the 1930s made racists take most such incidents private rather than attract attention from Yankees and others who just didn’t understand the South was it’s own special place (sarcasm font). Often lynching’s aftermath included rampages through black business districts, reminding me of kristalnacht and other European porgroms.

While some historians argue if it isn’t public, it isn’t a lynching, Dray follows the pattern of violence on into the 1950s and 1960s as it slowly fades in the face of increasing opposition. The deathblow came when the feds successfully prosecuted the killers in the Meridian murder of three civil rights workers — not everybody, but enough to show you couldn’t be sure of getting away with it. Dray acknowledges that the legal system is still biased against black men but writing in 2002 he’s optimistic we’ve come a long way. I wonder if he’s still so optimistic (back then, I was too) in a world where police defend their right to shoot black people and whites have called the cops because a black person was standing there. Or where a Tennessee lawmaker can get nostalgic for hanging people from trees — yeah, I’m sure no racial subtext there. Nor in Texas’ scumbag governor Gregg Abbott vowing to pardon a driver convicted for running over a BLM protester

I’m also reminded of the shocked reactions so much of America had to 1960s protests and 1970s urban terrorism and the fantasy that before Kids These Days got out of hand (irrationally angry blacks, irrationally angry gays, kids raised too permissive) everything had been civilized and orderly and peaceful. No, it wasn’t. But lynchings didn’t have the same impact on white America that black or anti-war protests did; lynching enforced the status quo, 1960s protests challenged it.

Dray does a good job profiling the people who fought against Jude Lynch’s Law, such as black activists Ida Wells and Walter White, the NAACP and the Communist Party. Many of them labored for years to end lynching without seeing their work bear fruit. Others were simply self-interested: as lynching finally began to offend the rest of the nation, Southern leaders pushed back against it for fear lynching was bad for business and bad for their image. At the local level, the murderers kept right on lynching for far too long.

Like I said, it’s understandable if, even cleaned of the worst details, lynching upsets students. Contrary to DeStalinist, even if it does that’s no reason not to teach it.

Cover from Allen-Littlefield collection at Emory University, all rights remain with current holder.


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Republicans, moderation and dissent

Republican opposition to the right not to get pregnant has been a disaster for them. It’s the reason they didn’t have a red wave last year; it put a pro-choice judge on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court last week (this is a big deal both for abortion rights and voting rights in the state). Even some Republicans are admitting forced-birth policies are a loser for them.

The results? Talking about it less and the judge who just banned mifepristone may have delayed his decision to avoid influencing the Wisconsin election. But no moderation in their policies. Instead we have Wisconsin Republicans raising the possibility of impeaching the new justice — they have the votes in the legislature — while the Republican-dominated Tennessee House expelled two black representatives for participating in an anti-gun protest (the white Democrat who participated was not expelled). One represents Memphis, which is considering simply reappointing him, so the GOP is threatening punishment if they do that. In Florida, cops jailed three Democrats who participated in a peaceful abortion protest (if you click through to the source article, Tallahassee city government debates the circumstances).

God knows what the NC Legislature might do now that Dem Tricia Cotham has switched parties, giving them the votes to override the governor’s vetoes (Cotham has been mum on whether this means a change in her solidly pro-choice voting history). When it became obvious a Dem was going to win the governorship a few years ago, the legislature immediately reduced the governor’s powers. Over in Montana, Republicans are considering rule changes to make it harder for a Democrat to win a Senate seat in 2024 — after which the rules will expire.

That’s their solution to embracing wildly unpopular positions: fight democracy and become more extreme. As discussed in comments at that link, maybe it’s because the big money doesn’t want to change or that voters feel oppressed coexisting with liberals. Or that believing their enemies are monsters makes it easy to feel virtuous. Either way, change is mostly cosmetic — focus on hurting trans people rather than gays, frame anti-gay measures as protecting children (spoiler: they aren’t).

In addition to fighting democracy, they’re also punching down at dissenters, e.g. Tennessee).  As I’ve said before, dissent horrifies people in power who claim they have the only truth.  The left is saying gay people are not pedophiles, trans people are not pedophiles, gun control is good, Putin is not our friend, Ron DeSantis is not a good leader — heresy! And nobody likes heresy. “Right wing ideas have lost out, because those ideas are generally both empirically wrong and normatively disgusting” but that’s not an acceptable conclusion. Stamping out the other side and their ideas? That’s cool.  Hence right winger Edward Szall celebrating North Korea and the Taliban for limiting free thought — why can’t the U.S. be that effective in repressing heresy?

Charlie Kirk grumbles he’s not a fan of democracy because each community should be able to set its own rules without interference from the federal government. Of course that’s not an issue with democracy — is each community going to elect a king? — and it stinks like week-old mackerel: in my lifetime local control was mostly used to invoke the rights of communities to segregation and such. Human rights shouldn’t depend on where you live if there’s an alternative — and Brown v. Board of Education and 1960s civil-rights laws offered that.

So, for example, Florida wants to make it easier for people outside a community to run for school board seats, and make the elections partisan (officially they aren’t). A Catholic minister in Wisconsin prior to their court election directed his congregation to vote Republican for the sake of their souls, though churches picking sides violates the law.

Part of their outrage is that liberal ideas work: there are benefits to diversity, equality and tolerance. The covid vaccine works. Gays are not any more pedophile than straights. It’s not “woke” to admit them and the American banking and business community is not “woke” because it accepts such basic facts (SVB Bank didn’t collapse because it was woke — faced with bad financial projections, the board changed the projection model.) Businesses don’t run LGBTQ promotions because they’re “woke,” they run them because there’s money in the LGBTQ demographic, more than in appeasing the haters. But that very fact freaks the right-wing out: they aren’t a big enough demographic to stop gay-friendly businesses and the majority of the country is fine with that. Just as very few people outside the right-wing bubble buy into the Woke Is Evil rant. While the Republican Party remains a threat to democracy, their victory isn’t the slam-dunk I feared it would be during the Trump years.

To leave on an up note, the Justice Department has appealed the mifepristone ruling. A Washington State judge has ruled the opposite from the Texas judge. And growing numbers of people see Republicans for what they are. It’s not a slam-dunk for democracy either, but hope is not dead.

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Republicans are The Other they imagine the Other to be

I’ve been reading a book about lynching which points out how deeply it tied in to the Othering of black Americans. Savages. Subhuman unintelligent brutes, little better than apes, dangerously violent. Unfit to live as equals with their superiors.  Etc.

The Othering of white supremacy’s enemies hasn’t gone away. The Nashville school shooter may have been trans (it’s unclear at this point) so that proves trans people are dangerous. Why are people talking about bigotry against trans people when they’re so filled with hate and rage? — say right-wingers who shriek at the idea their rhetoric has ever inspired violence or that any right-wingers are terrorists (many are). They’re even squealing about how most mass shooters are trans, which is a flat-out lie, but undoubtedly makes their whiny voters feel better. As C.S. Lewis says, hating your enemies is both poisonous and addictive. Bearing false witness against the Other makes it that much easier to hate them.

As someone once said (actually multiple someones phrasing it various ways), one of the basics of being a civilized person is the willingness to coexist with people who are not you. Different attitudes. Different faiths. Different races. That has always been a challenge in America but most Republicans aren’t even trying: they equate respecting the rights of people they don’t like with oppression. When those people — trans people, gay marriages, independent women, Muslims — demand equal rights, it’s an imposition on Real Americans.

In short, Republicans are the barbarians and savages they imagine other people to be, and that fuels their policies. Many of them support the death penalty for gays, restricted voting for The Other, overturning The Other’s votes, levying anti-trans bills against adults (regardless of potential collateral damage), calling drag queens demonic, book burning, and shrieking about gay and trans grooming while ignoring the elephant in their own living room. A number of them express creepy enthusiasm for running this country like the Taliban or the North Korean government.

Then there’s the endless paranoid rants about covid vaccines. If this were a 1950s movie, the anti-vaxxers would be the stereotypical third-world natives freaking out because the witch doctor says white man’s medicine is evil magic. Blood transfusion is a lifesaving medical technology but some anti-vaxxers want blood from only unvaccinated people. In Montana there’s a bill banning covid-vaccinated people from donating blood even though this would create major blood shortages (see also …)

The Republican Party is working hard to turn off its brains and make itself unfit for civilized life. Which is unfortunate because we’re sharing this civilization with them and will be for the foreseeable future; unlike some on the right, Taking away their rights, mass murder, or concentration camps are not acceptable solutions for dealing with them, even though many of them are down with doing it to us.

On the plus side, they’re a minority in the US now, for all the noise they make. They have outsize power because of the way our government is structured — by 2040, two-thirds of Americans will get to elect only 30 percent of the Senate — but just as we’re living through the backlash against the civil rights gains of the last few decades, I’m hopeful we can find a way to backlash against their backlash.

In the short term, it’ll be tough, as witness Perry Bacon discussing the challenges and role of being black and liberal in a conservative community. As a former resident (though a white one) of the very, very red-state Florida Panhandle I feel for him.

I’ll leave you with the words of playwright Charles Mee about how he loves Greek drama because the Greeks “take us back to what we know is true: how immensely hard it is to make a great civilization out of the raw material we humans are.” Truth.

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Let them eat cake

In the spirit of yesterday’s post about Republicans opposing free menstrual products in schools, they’re unsurprisingly opposing food for the hungry. Former Rep. Steven Fincher, for example, opposed food stamps on the grounds if you don’t work you don’t eat (as someone who was once on food stamps I can state as fact that I was working at the time) while collecting millions in farm subsidies himself (he’s not alone in this).

Now Repubs in North Dakota have refused to spend money expanding the federal free lunch program because that’s parents’ responsibility, not government! If families aren’t able to feed their kids, why should government step in?

And while I hadn’t heard of this before, multiple Republican attorneys general sued for the right to refuse food stamps to LGBTQ people. Not, they insist, because they want gay or trans people to go hungry, but because it’s a slippery slope: if they don’t have the right to refuse them then they’ll end up forced to use preferred pronouns and celebrate gay marriages! Happily the judge wasn’t having any of it.

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If providing free tampons is woke, I don’t want to be asleep.

Back in 2020, some lawmakers in Tennessee freaked out at a proposal to add menstrual products to items on the annual sales-tax holiday: my god, what if they bought a whole year’s supply at once! Of course that’s possible with any item during the holiday but someone the thought of women getting a tax break on tampons pushed their buttons.

In Idaho more recently, Democrats proposed providing free tampons to girls in school because (I gather) not everyone has a steady supply and having to worry about it makes it harder to focus on schools. According to State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (who’s also pushing a new forced-birth policy) , talk of “period poverty” is too woke for her. Her Republican colleague Heather Scott complained the policy was absurd and asked if the nanny staters planned to provide free deodorant as well.

I can’t help but think of the outrage many conservatives have expressed that under Obamacare, insurance automatically covers ob/gyn stuff. The late Charles Krauthammer freaked out about it, as have Sean Hannity  — why should he subsidize birth control when he’s not having sex? — and Paul Ryan, who complained that under the ACA, “the people who are healthy pay for the people who are sick.” Um, that’s how insurance works, dude. Fellow bullshit artist Megan McArdle similarly argued that saying company health insurance policies should cover birth control is as silly as demanding your employer buy you a car (I dissect her non-logic at the link).

Of course I’m sure these attacks fall into “any bullshit that can destroy Obamacare is good bullshit” category but it’s telling how many right-wingers focus their criticism specifically on ob/gyn stuff, as opposed to women buying policies that guarantee coverage for prostate cancer or Viagra (or in the case of Krauthammer, a paraplegic, that abled people’s policies cover wheelchairs and similar necessities like he relies on). Or that someone like me, who has a glass of red wine daily and doesn’t smoke, still has a policy that covers alcoholism and lung cancer. That’s all cool, but not the ob/gyn stuff.

Part of that may be simple prudery because the ACA includes birth control. If women want daily birth control pills it must be because they want sex every day; Mike Huckabee says it’s insulting the ACA covers this since it implies American women can’t control their libido. Of course it implies nothing of the sort: taking birth control regularly simply guarantees that if the circumstances for sex arrive, you don’t have to worry about pregnancy. But forced birthers hate the idea that women can have sex and refuse motherhood.

This may relate to why Republican judge Reed O’Connor just struck down the ACA requirement insurers cover preventive care, including much ob/gyn care, birth control (apparently not all forms) and cancer and HIV screenings (the government can appeal this). HIV and contraceptives, according to the post at the link, are his big bugaboos (the plaintiff in the case is a homophobe anti-vaxxer).

Some conservatives also hate the idea of treating pregnancy as a health condition rather than the magical miracle of women’s nature. Never mind that we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world, misogynist Matt Walsh thinks “If a woman’s reproductive powers were seen as powers, rather than a disease or a burden or an oppression, I think conservatives and liberals alike could find many common reasons to reject the pill.” Here’s an idea Mr. Walsh: let each woman decide for herself whether a specific pregnancy is a burden or a blessing. Walsh thinks we should “get past the notion that a woman must be liberated from her nature” but neither he nor I get to define an individual woman’s (or man’s) nature for them.

I’m quite sure Walsh wouldn’t tolerate anyone defining his for him. And I’m just as sure that in his eyes (and Huckabee’s, Krauthammer’s, etc.) That’s Different.

You can read more of my work about misogyny in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward.

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