Teabagging Parties Gear Up to Put Unicorn Nuts on Your Face

It strikes me that Michelle Malkin’s problem isn’t that DHS is accurately describing rightwing extremist tactics, but that she’s obviously worried that those things apply to her.

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The Topsy-Turvy World of David Broder

If there’s one thing I expect my DC poltiical pundits to be intimately familiar with, it’s bullshit expressions of masculinity.  So when David Broder declares John McCain an alpha male for not looking at Barack Obama during the debate.

It was a small thing, but I counted six times that Obama said that McCain was “absolutely right” about a point he had made. No McCain sentences began with a similar acknowledgment of his opponent’s wisdom, even though the two agreed on Iran, Russia and the U.S. financial crisis far more than they disagreed.

That suggests an imbalance in the deference quotient between the younger man and the veteran senator—an impression reinforced by Obama’s frequent glances in McCain’s direction and McCain’s studied indifference to his rival.

If there’s one thing an alpha male does, it’s make eye contact.  It’s a basic tool of dominance.  Your steely gaze is used to break others, make them look away and become unable to challenge you directly.  Being utterly incapable of looking Obama in the eye is a sign of utter weakness - it turned McCain’s aggression into bitter sniping, every attempt to take down Obama into an attempt to bypass the challenges in front of him.  There’s a reason Obama kept calling McCain “John” and agreeing with small portions of what he said right before challenging the rest of his argument: McCain was simply incapable of engaging Obama directly.  I’m sure it’s possible that utter avoidance is the new alpha male tool, but that would be too good of news for the rest of us.

The Anti-Choice Movement Is also Very Anti-Rubbers

Antigone has done us all a service and compiled some data about where "pro-life" organizations fall politically outside of their anti-abortion stance. As can be expected, they're routinely conservative, religious, misogynist, etc. But it's a good time to reiterate what's most telling about their "pro-life" stance.

Antigone was actually pretty generous with her ratings for groups that have no official stance, because most of the time, they do so with big, fat hints that they're very sympathetic towards the anti-contraception stance. The anti-choice movement opposes contraception, the number one way the vast majority of fertility-age American women avoid abortion. They're not really "pro-life" or strictly "anti-abortion" so much as they're pro making your life a living hell for the high crime of being female. I'm not even going to qualify that with a "sexually active", because the choices offered women are sexual frustration or continuous pregnancy. Lesbianism is an alternative if that's your inclination, but believe me, they're not really cool with that being legal, either.

Catholic League President Believes Atheists Should Have No Rights

Editor's note: for background, see Christian Lunatics Issue Death Threats Over a Cracker

That’s what I’ve come to believe.  It’s obvious that he thinks that “religious freedom” means “the right to demand a) the right to completely define an entire religion for yourself and eject anyone who has different views than yours and b) the right never, ever to be mocked, criticized, or looked at funny”.  But even when a number of atheists online were insisting that I was targeted by the Catholic League for harassment and economic hardship-distribution because I’m an outspoken atheist, I was skeptical.  Nah, a believer could have totally made the jokes I did and get abused, I thought.  I have no idea of Melissa McEwan believes in some kind of god, and she got it, too. 

But watching this whole thing with PZ Myers go down (sorry I’m late to the party; been too busy to follow stuff, you know), I’m inclined increasingly to think that while the Catholic League will go after anyone---and that they do love to spank actual Catholics for diverging from Donohue-defined doctrine, which is far to the right of even what the pope will have you believe---they’re on the move against atheists now that atheism is getting a new heyday/publishing bonanza.  Quoth Lindsay

The Catholic League claims to be a civil rights organization. Yet it consistently targets high-profile atheists like Amanda Marcotte and PZ Myers and attempts to get them fired.  Draw your own conclusions.

Patriotism Without Nationalism

Fun on the internets: Matt suggests that there’s something juvenile and narcissistic about conservative American patriotism, which extends beyond normal, human levels of sentimentality about home, and fierce defensiveness about it.  Conservatives really have convinced themselves, he says, that America really is objectively special, and not just special to Americans.  We all know sports fans who feel this way about their home team, and it’s annoying.  But it’s worse when it’s patriotism, because then it drifts into nationalism and is especially scary.  And, of course, childish.

Health Insurance and Hard Choices

Salon has a doctor writing about how even “socialized� health care is way too expensive because the emphasis is on “get sick, go to the doctor� instead of on prevention. Like pretty much all decent people outside of the U.S., he takes first world nations’ responsibility to see to the health care of all citizens as a moral given, much the way Americans see “socialized� education, roads, and fire departments as a given. So really, this is just an argument about the hows, not the whethers. It’s worth noting that Dr. Parikh uses Canada as his main point of comparison, and theirs considered one of the most inefficient universal health systems.

That said, I agree with him that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure in health care. Which is why I lose my shit watching wingnuts in D.C. redirect HIV aid from prevention to treatment, because I believe they think AIDS is a good disincentive/punishment for having sex and they don’t want to interfere with catching it. No matter if you can get AIDS drugs to every man, woman, and child who needs them around the world, you’ll save more lives if you blunt the spread of the disease through condoms and education. Few diseases, once acquired, have a magic bullet cure. To use a more mundane example, think about dentistry. They can do amazing things in that field, fix teeth that a century before would have fallen right out your head with a lot of pain attending. If you do lose your teeth, they can make new ones for you. But there’s no crown, no filling, no dentures that can equal the tooth you grew by yourself, and any dentist will tell you that. The disease of tooth decay wasn’t cured, really, but its worst symptoms were managed. Same story with heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses that plague our health care system.

America Needs Congestion Pricing

The cover of the latest Earth Island Journal couldn’t be more timely: a picture of a bunch of cars piled up with the word “Roadkill” across it.  (Knowing their audience, I expect angry letters from people who feel this is insensitive to animals.) So I was naturally eager to read the feature story by Adam Federman, and wasn’t disappointed.  It was about Mayor Bloomberg’s failure to push through a genuinely smart traffic reduction program called “congestion pricing”.  Congestion pricing is a simple concept that’s been implemented successfully in other cities.  You charge people to drive their cars into highly congested parts of town (like the business districts in Manhattan that are permanently clogged) and reinvest the money into public transportation.  New York City was the perfect city to experiment, too, because most people take the subways anyway, so the alternative travel strategies for people are already there and they already know how to use them.  In other cities around the world like Singapore and London have implement the plan with dramatic results---dropping traffic 45% and 25% respectively, and London has seen emissions fall by 20%. 

Of course, it failed to pass in New York City.  In my various conversations online about the need to get serious about discouraging people from using cars, I’ve seen some shameful liberal dodging, genuine examples of people playing things like the classism card in order to conceal their more right wing urges: You’ll pry the gas pump out of my cold, dead hand!  So I wasn’t entirely surprised by what happened in the story: People played the class card to weasel out of paying a tax for the privilege of adding to New York’s traffic problem.  It was discrimination, you see, against working class people to charge $8 a day to drive into the business districts of Manhattan. 

If you’re paying attention, you can see the flaw in this argument, and it’s a big one: Do working class people in New York generally drive around Manhattan?  Or do the vast majority of them take the subway?  If the latter, then the excuse is 100% bullshit, because the reality is that a congestion toll---in New York City, remember---would actually be a genuinely progressive tax, taking money from the predominantly upper middle class and wealthy and rerouting towards a service used by working class people.  Moreover, by charging the rich to drive, you can help squash inflation on the price of subway tickets.  There are a few classes of people in New York who are working class but drive because they have parking---mainly firefighters and police---but I think most of them will survive having to make the switch to the subway.  If they really can’t, because of late night shifts or something, then they work for the fucking government and can press upon their unions and the city to get them exceptions.  I have a feeling they’ll get those exceptions. 

Media Blackout on Anti-Choice Campaigns

As I expected, the American Life League coming clean about their desires to ban the birth control pill with their “Pill Kills” campaign has had the intended effect of making it easier for those of us who’ve been busting our asses trying to get out the word that the anti-choice community is not all that worried about fetal life, and far more concerned about returning women to a life where the threat of unplanned pregnancy hangs over our heads day and night. Like Dr. Dana Stone wrote in her guest post at Feministing:

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Reagan Democrats Are Not Coming Back

Yesterday at TPMCafe, Rick Perlstein kicked off a week-long examination of his new book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. I’ve been asked to join this week’s cafe (a fun departure from writing about politics through a feminist lens), and I recommend checking it out, because the book is wonderful. And very relevant to today’s post topic: “Reagan Democrats“. The seeds of creation for this group of voters means they’re probably more “Nixon Democrats”, a name that would at least show how fruitless getting them back into the fold might be.

Ezra’s post gently puts to rest the ancient Democratic hobbyhorse of lamenting the loss of that percentage of white working class voters that long ago quit voting their economic interests and started voting against uppity black people and women, and against the “liberal elite”. Interestingly, the “elite” label doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to liberals—the lower you go on the income ladder, the more liberal you tend to be statistically speaking:

So why do Republicans win when (because of Republican policies no less), the number of people falling below the cutoff line greatly outnumbers the people falling above it? In part, because the higher you get up the income ladder, the more likely you are to vote. Also, there’s racial issues (gender a bit less, because while women are more liberal than men, they also vote more regularly, so it probably evens out):

Anti-Choice McCain is Not a Moderate

One of the ongoing issues in this election is going to be waking people up to the fact that John McCain is a grade A, totally not moderate social conservative. This is critical for that swing vote, especially those swing voters that say, “Well, I don’t think abortion should be illegal, but it’s bad to use it as birth control.� Translation of that sentiment: “I want to be able to have an abortion if I so desire, but I reserve the right to gossip about others in tones that indicate that I’m so scandalized.� These people would shy away from a ban, of course, but they probably can be convinced to vote for someone they erroneously believe talks the anti-choice talk but won’t do the anti-choice walk.

Or, long story short: McCain is running the same campaign that worked so well for Bush. The “compassionate conservative�, i.e. panders to the haters but wants you to think deep down inside that he’s not really a hater. This goes for the gay thing, too. Bush pushed for the marriage ban, but to maintain the illusion of compassion, the Bush administration actually tried to rein in some of their crazier homophobes. Not sure what the line in the sand is on reproductive rights, though, since the Bush administration appointed a bunch of misogynists to the Supreme Court and passed a really terrible piece of anti-abortion legislation and tried to block emergency contraception from being sold over the counter.

Educating people about McCain’s hard right views on women’s rights will be an uphill battle this election, but I was pleased to see that he was helping us out with his mailers.

Catcalling is NOT a Compliment

Wow, this headline reads like something in the Reader’s Digest circa 1970, wedged between articles on why kids don’t appreciate waltzing anymore and how smoking marijuana cigarettes will cause your daughter to become a streetwalker: “Catcalling: creepy or a compliment?� (Via.) The article isn’t nearly so bad, and gives full voice to women who grasp that a man yelling sexual (and insulting or threatening) things at you on the sidewalk is insulting you for being a woman, not complimenting you.

But just like those articles of old from Schlaflyites (�I love getting hooted at on the street, and husbands have a right to rape wives!�), this one is full of women the reader is supposed to take cues from on how to be less of a grumpus pain in the ass who thinks she has dignity worth defending.
On the other hand, some women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy.
“Yeah, it’s objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn’t have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I’d think, ‘Boy, I must really be getting old and dumpy,’ � she said.
She’s gotten catcalls just walking her parents’ dog in baggy sweats. “I thought it was hysterical, like, ‘Boy, doesn’t take much to impress you, does it?’ “
It’s true that they’ll do it to you no matter what you’re wearing, because it’s not a compliment. I can understand why this woman is deluding herself�it’s both flattering to imagine you’re so hot men are inspired to passion by the mere site of you and it also helps protect the brain from realizing how many men out there just really hate you�but I’m sure she’s not unaware of those times when the cat-calling occurs when there are no other people around and you find yourself grabbing for a weapon or your cell phone. Because it’s a threat in many cases, or at bare minimum a reminder to random women that the cat-caller feels entitled to control their experience of being outside the house.

Vaccination is the New Flouridation

The number of anti-vaccination cranks out there on the interwebs seems to be multiplying. It seems you can’t make reference to any kind of vaccination lately without people, sometimes pretending to be liberals (sometimes actually misguided liberals) wailing and moaning about how terrible vaccinations are. It’s the new fluoridation. I’m somewhat surprised that no one wailed and moaned that I mentioned on Pandagon a tetanus vaccination I got the other day, but rest assured, while my arm has been kind of sore, I haven’t yet developed autism.

I have very little patience for cranks as a general rule (which is why working for this site is so fun, because it’s about pushing back against anti-choice cranks), but I reserve a special contempt and loathing for anti-vaccination cranks. They remind me of nothing so much as women who make their living as professional anti-feminists in terms of denial and idiocy levels. Anti-feminist professional women create a special kind of loathing, because they don’t acknowledge that their very ability to be out there earning a paycheck lambasting feminism would not be possible without feminism giving them the right to be women in the public sphere. Anti-vaccination cranks have a similar parasitic relationship to the existence of vaccines. If it weren’t for vaccination, our country would have far more immediate infectious disease health concerns to worry about that the largely imaginary health drawbacks of the vaccination wouldn’t have a chance to ruffle any feathers.

Anti-vaccination cranks make me see red, in no small part because there’s no excuse for the levels of ignorance they demonstrate about the real value of vaccines. It would be more understandable if the invention of the polio vaccination, for instance, was so far in the past that there were no survivors of the disease hanging around being reminders of how terrible it really is. But there are plenty of people who had the disease that are around, suffering the lifelong effects of even the minor cases that would have allowed you to reach middle age after suffering that disease in your youth. I for one am incredibly grateful to have never known anyone with small pox, tetanus or even the fucking mumps my whole life.

Teacher Fired for Refusing Loyalty Oath

From the Golden State, a bizarre and ridiculous firing of a teacher for not signing a loyalty oath.

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The Seeds of the Culture War Sprout Here

Tired of the movies, where women barely exist onscreen at all, and when they do, they’re treated like imbeciles or cardboard cutouts? The assumption in the movie industry is that men make the vast majority of the movie-seeing decisions, and that women are therefore a niche market that only needs a couple of intelligence-insulting bones thrown for a twice-annual girl’s night out.* But TV is another story. For whatever reason, it’s beginning to be understood that shows with fully realized female characters that have more going on than being fuckable and having babies do quite well on the small screen, thank you very much. And TV meets a variety of entertainment gaps that weren’t being filled. You have your fantasies of female empowerment that still aren’t realized in the everyday world�like on “Battlestar Galactica� or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer�, and you have shows that address women’s lives in an honest way, patriarchal warts and all, like on the comedy “Ugly Betty� and the drama “Mad Men�, which is a show that we power-chugged last week, watching most of the first season flying to and from New York.

The first season of “Mad Men� is set in 1960, which means it’s an exceedingly relevant program for modern times, because it’s this turning point in time that all culture war madness turns off of. When conservatives talk bitterly about the 60s, it’s because they romanticize the 50s as the ultimate moment of the American patriarchy, and to varying degrees, also the last gasp of blatant white supremacy, a utopia of white male dominance that was cruelly snatched away and needs to be restored through government intervention.

Are Misleading Robocalls in NC Voter Suppression?

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper cracked down on the misleading and deceptive robo-calls by Women’s Voices. Women Vote that implied voters had to wait for and fill out a registration packet before they could vote. He stated that the calls are breaking state law. (Audio of the call here).

What is particularly egregious is that the calls went out after the registration deadline for the presidential primary � and were targeting minority neighborhoods, using a fictitious caller named “Lamont Williams.� In a measure of damage control, a press release landed in my inbox from WVWV in the late afternoon yesterday. A snippet is below the fold.

This is the explanation:

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Is Senator Clinton Beholden to an Anti-Gay Demographic?

So why didn’t my outgoing governor just go ahead and say “faggot“?

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Panty-Sniffing Gets 21st Century

Holy mother of Disco Ball, is this just wrong. It's a semen detection kit that is marketed for catching cheating spouses and teenagers who have unruly amounts of autonomy. Naturally, they are trying to suggest that it's for catching both men and women, but of course, we know that's just some ass-covering and defies all common sense that tells us that since men shoot the semen away from their bodies, clean-up to the point of avoiding detection would be simple enough. Also, as blogger Slut Machine notes, this would be really good at catching male masturbators (i.e., all men), if not cheaters. I'm sure some woman out there will try it, and much sorrow will be had as she discovers that her husband is a man and thus has trace amounts of semen in his underwear all the time, but on the whole, I see this being marketed towards men who are looking for novel ways to control wives and daughters now that the law is less cooperative than it used to be.

My main concern here is that the abstinence-only nuts are going to find out about this. (Probably shouldn't blog about it, since many of them read this blog to get their daily titillation thinking about women who have sex without apologizing for it.) You think the metal detectors at school doors are ridiculous? Or think about all the annual dust-ups with over-zealous, perverted school officials start doing underwear checks on high school students. This could make the situation a thousand times worse, with school officials getting the brilliant idea of having panty drills, like fire drills except everyone has to submit to panty-testing to make sure that they're not having Teh Sex. Sure, various civil liberties organizations would sue them into the ground, but don't think the idea isn't attractive. Though I suppose it would encourage young women to use condoms.

Anyway, it's a rip-off. If you want to find out that there's biological material in people's underwear, you can just assume that there is. And if you're skeptical, I recommend the black light as a cost effective alternative to satisfy your doubts.

Support For Obama Driven By Sexism?

There were some grumblings in the comments about the blogular silence greeting this Rebecca Traister piece about how a lot of male Obama supporters are relishing this opportunity to indulge their sexist side, but I can say in all honesty, I hadn't blogged it yet because I hadn't seen it. But now that I have, I highly recommend it. Rebecca, of course, is a remarkably good writer, and she articulates beautifully why privileged Democratic men might harbor hostility towards Clinton, hostility white middle class liberals wouldn't show Obama.
In today's United States, racism continues to have more damaging economic and social structural implications for African-Americans than sexism has for women. Especially white and well-educated women, who are catching up to their male counterparts, if not in terms of equal pay or domestic expectations or secure reproductive options, at least in their ability to pursue the education and vocation they desire. And that makes them a more threatening group to the population of white men who have enjoyed unchallenged power -- in the White House and other workplaces -- since the birth of the nation. Those who feel the army of tough ladies breathing down their necks, competing for jobs and salaries and refusing to drop out of the race, are the population of privileged white men from which the elite portion of the Democratic Party is built.
It's not just competing for jobs that fuels this. Middle class liberal straight men benefit in a number of ways from the oppression of women. They get their homes cleaned, their laundry done, their children cared for, their egos fluffed, and birthday cards sent to their mothers, or they have the expectation of these things. (To varying degrees, of course. Some liberal men are much more feminist than others, and how much housework gets done by what pair of hands varies from household to household.) If they're single, they get to take advantage of a dating market where it's still understood that women are selling and men are buying. Now, obviously the investment from man to man varies on this front---there are a number of good guys who would gladly trade it all for an opportunity to date a woman who hasn't been crippled with insecurity from all the sexist mandates put on her (i.e., never again glares at her fat ass in a mirror and berates herself)---but there's plenty enough sexism with liberal dudes, and we all know it. I believe this story, because it just rings true in my experience and from stories I hear from other women about liberal sexism.

But I have to confess---I have not experienced the liberal male hostility to Clinton that has these sexist undertones. Maybe I'm oblivious, but I certainly haven't had any experiences like the ones described in the story.

Pseudo-science Blames Coming Depression on Boobs

Sometimes I think the "Science for Choads" section would be better called the "Science Reporting for Choads", but that would be too narrow to include all the people that make science-y sounding claims with absolutely no evidence to back it up. Via Echidne, the latest "science confirms all your gender prejudices" story is particularly nasty in terms of implication and timing.

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17-Year-Old Killed by Taser Over Shoplifted Hot Pockets

More Taser insanity. The mounting incidents of violence being perpetrated by the inappropriate use of Tasers is unnerving. The stories from readers keep flooding into my inbox.

Here’s one from my state that will turn your stomach (h/t n8nyc and Virginia F.). Darryl Wayne Turner was a cashier and bagged groceries at a local Food Lion. He lifted a couple of Hot Pocket lunches and his mother told him to do the right thing — go back to the store and fess up. Then something went horribly wrong.
A 17-year-old died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser during a confrontation at a grocery store in northeast Charlotte.
…Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.
She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened.
It wasn’t long after lunch she got a call from one of her son’s co-workers, who told her about the incident, she said.
After Turner was hit, police called the Charlotte Fire Department and paramedics, department policy anytime an officer uses a Taser gun, the release said.
Homicide detectives are investigating Turner’s death and will present their findings to the district attorney, the news release said.
Turner had no criminal record and no health problems.

Not to be topped, read what happened in the case of a Matteson, IL man, who was on the wrong end of a Taser — he has been acquitted of assaulting an officer.

Read that, and see a video about the use of Tasers in Eugene, Oregon, after the jump.

Is the Clinton Team Stark Raving Mad?

For the life of me I just don’t understand the thinking inside the Clinton campaign (and insided the heads of surrogates). Strong supporters of Clinton — please clue me in; I don’t know how the following developments make any sense in terms of political strategy that’s helpful to the candidate:

* Bill and Hillary continuing to promote the idea of a Clinton/Obama ticket with her at the top when she’s behind in delegate count;

* Promoting the idea of Obama as VP after spending time and money on ads to convince voters he’s not ready to answer the 3 AM phone call - why would she want someone she’s declared unqualified on the ticket?

* The assertion by Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson that somehow Obama could cross the imaginary 3AM-ready “threshhold” that Hillary has by the convention and thus be qualified for the VP slot.

* And the latest misfire - Geraldine Ferraro, 1984 VP nominee, claiming Obama has only gotten as far as he has because he is black.
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.
That one is pretty breathtaking on several levels, considering her selection as VP was most certainly due in part to the fact she is a woman.

In any case, using this particular line of thinking…

* If Clinton were a black man, Hillary would have been told to drop out of the race after losing 11 contests in a row, after all, John Edwards had to get out after losing only 3.

* If Obama were white, as it has already been noted elsewhere, he’d already be the nominee, because it’s pretty clear that while there are blacks voting for him because of his race, there are certain demographic groups who didn’t vote for him because he’s black, and those are the Reagan Democrats that Hillary is chasing.

In any case, since he’s biracial, does that factor into Ferraro’s deluded thinking? What would happen, for instance, if Obama were not visibly identifiable as black (as in, he could pass), but identified as such — does that make any difference in perceived advantage? It’s crazy-making. DHinMI at DKos:

The Great Texas Dildo Wars of 2008

Well, I celebrated too soon the new-found legality of female masturbation in Texas (see the classic video to the right about the ongoing sex toy battles in my fine home state). One should never underestimate the lengths to which wingnuts will go to control female sexuality. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who apparently has nothing better to do than to separate women from their dildos, has asked the 5th Circuit Court to rehear the sex toy case.

I'm trying to imagine the mindset of a man who doesn't realize that when you try to take dildos away from women, basically everyone with a brain and/or a sense of humor is going to assume it's because you're afraid you can't handle the competition.

But I am routinely reminded that we face opposition to sexual liberation, the most prominent face of which is the anti-abortion movement that protests clinics and waves bloody fetus signs from street corners. That movement is made up of people who claim to be in it not because they are misogynists who fear female sexuality, nor because they are control freaks who can't stand the idea of someone else having fun. They are in it, they say, because they want to save the unborn babies.

Take, for example, their opposition to making emergency contraception available over the counter. For most of us, this one was a no-brainer: Better contraception access means fewer unintended pregnancies, which translates into fewer abortions. Over-the-counter emergency contraception, then, means the abortion rate goes down -- and since fewer abortions means more "babies saved" in anti-choice-speak, "pro-life" people should embrace it, right?

Wrong. Over-the-counter emergency contraception was framed by reproductive rights opponents as a matter of saving babies, but not in the sense of preventing abortion. Instead, anti-choicers argued that the microscopic fertilized eggs might be sloughed off if you took the pills -- despite the fact that there was no scientific evidence to support this contention, and every bit of research concluded that emergency contraception had no effect on established pregnancies. But no, really, it was all about a "respect for life" instead of a disrespect for female sexuality that manifested itself in an attempt to deprive women of a certain form of contraception. Everything goes back to abortion, we're told.

I realize it's hard to see how a woman masturbating with a dildo is a secret form of abortion. But we promise, this is about the babies and life and stuff. You see, dildos are just so big, and if you stick one up yourself and you've got a fertilized egg banging around in there and don't know it, you could just jostle the little fella and knock him right out. Or at least give the little guy quite a scare. There's no such threat coming from the average wingnut penis, so no need to ban those. Sure, you people with your science and stuff might think that it's impossible to scare a brainless ball of cells, but you have to understand that the good Lord provides little angels for an embryo so they can have all the feelings of fear and prayerfulness and resentment of women's liberation that born wingnuts feel -- at least until the embryos have developed brains and can be trained in Sunday school to hate women all on their very own.

So this is completely, 100 percent about babies. No misogyny, control issues or wariness of female sexuality has any part to play in this.

If that's the case, someone needs to send the attorney general the memo, because he didn't see the need to tie this back to saving babies. But while baby-saving is a killer argument that will obviously convince all cynics that socially conservative anti-choicers have the best of intentions, the attorney general didn't totally flout wingnut standards -- his petition reads like old-fashioned, stodgy slut-shaming. What's a more crucial component of the anti-choice movement than that?

He argues that because criminal laws are generally based on society's moral judgments about right and wrong, the panel majority's decision could invite substantive due process challenges to other, previously uncontroversial criminal prohibitions -- suggesting that laws against incest and bigamy would be the next to go if women are permitted to buy masturbatory aids in Texas.

He should have gone with the saving babies argument. It's all to easy to point to other states that have not seen a complete breakdown of civilization despite large numbers of women hopping on Rabbits in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

The Dildo War in Texas Is Still Not Over

This is a classic video about the ongoing sex toy battles in my fine home state of Texas.

Well, I celebrated the new-found legality of female masturbation in the state of Texas. One should never underestimate the lengths to which wingnuts will go to control female sexuality. The Texas AG Greg Abbott, who apparently has nothing better to do than to separate women from their dildos, has asked the 5th Circuit Court to rehear the sex toy case.

I'm trying to imagine the mindset of a man who doesn't realize that when you try to take dildos away from women, basically everyone with a brain and/or a sense of humor is going to assume it's because you're afraid you can't handle the competition.

But I am routinely assured by commenters here, at other feminist blogs, and at RH Reality Check that the opposition is not in this because they are misogynists that fear female sexuality or control freaks who can't stand the idea of someone else having fun. No, they are in this to save the unborn babies. Opposition to the birth control pill and emergency contraception is about making sure that no microscopic babies that look remarkably more like formless balls of cells rather than infants get accidentally flushed by hormones. Nothing whatsoever to do with female sexuality, no siree. It's all babies.

I realize it's hard to see how a woman masturbating with a dildo is a secret form of abortion. But we promise, this is about the babies and life and stuff. You see, dildos are just so big, and if you stick one up yourself and you've got a fertilized egg banging around in there and don't know it, you could just jostle the little fella and knock him right out. Or at least give the little guy quite a scare. There's no such threat coming from the average wingnut penis, so no need to ban those.

On Flag Pins and Complex Racist Rumor-Mongering

This article in Salon is really cute. It’s about candidates who wear the flag pin non-stop seem to be the ones dropped out of the race the fastest, so maybe the best explanation for why Obama opts out is that he doesn’t want to lose.

Do we see a subtle pattern emerging here? Every presidential candidate of both parties who ever wore a lapel flag during the debates, even as briefly as Biden, bought himself a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

And every major party candidate who remains viable today — John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — has seldom if ever been spotted with a flag in his or her lapel….

Dosed with Pentothal, each would most likely come up with a variant of the answer Obama had hinted at: that lapel flags no longer signify simple patriotism, but something that you don’t want sticking to your fingers these days.

For these past six years and more, men with those bright little flags apparently riveted to their lapels have fed the voters a daily diet of fear, secrecy, lies and a cruel war with neither point nor end.

No sensible politician would want to march under this tiny, metallic banner. Just look at all the fallen stars who did.

But what I found interesting was that while the writer noticed that McCain, Huckabee, and Clinton all go without the lapel pin, only Obama gets shit for it, he didn’t offer any explanations as to why. Maybe he thinks everyone knows why, but I’m not sure it’s universal knowledge as to what right wingers who give a shit are getting at. Complaining about Obama’s non-existent flag pin is a classic right wing dog whistle, like Bush mentioning the Dred Scott decision during a debate as a hat tip for those who think so little of black people’s historical sufferings that they compare that to the sufferings of embryos who, unlike actual black persons, can’t feel or think or have personalities and families and friends who love their unique selves.

In this case, the flag pin dust-up is a hat tip to the right wing belief that Obama is secretly a Muslim. I mean, they’ve got a slew of “evidence” to this secret Muslim status, but while pundits will occasionally bring up these spurious claims during debates, I’ve not seen anyone make the direct link between his not wearing a flag pin and his supposedly secret Muslim status. The bullshit rumors about him not saying the Pledge, yes, but those are open lies, so a lot easier to shut down. The background on this is that every time a Muslim person or family resists compulsory patriotism for various religious reasons—some people just have an issue with the Pledge, because it has a blatantly Christian prayer injected into it, and some might have other reasons—it becomes hot news on the right wing email circuit, and has since forever. It’s part of reaffirming the belief that America is rightfully a Christian theocracy, and that the flag and the Pledge are equal parts symbols of Christianity and America. Black Muslims especially are considered suspicious.

What Does Sex Have to Do with Marriage or Making Babies?

I was bemused, and not a little puzzled, when I read this tsk-tsking article about about "sexy" wedding dresses in the NY Times. I'm confused as to why the Times has a slate of fashion writers that hate innovation, playfulness, and creativity--you know the very elements that redeem high fashion insofar as it's a redeemable thing. Here are the dresses they think are too damn scandalous when draped over a bride.

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Ending the Oppression Olympics

Rebecca Traister really gets at what I’ve been trying to articulate, about why it is that the open acceptance of sexist language over racist language is by no means an indication that sexism is a greater problem, and in fact might show why sexism might be an easier problem to overcome:
I think also that, in the United States, race (especially when combined with class) remains a more formidable barrier to professional, political and economic success than gender. Hillary Clinton may have a harder time getting elected than Obama because, frankly, Obama can be comfortably looked at as an exceptional black man, not as a harbinger of what’s to come, whereas Hillary will stand in for all those pushy broads coming to take your jobs, college admissions letters, and your seats in Congress. If Hillary’s success is less exceptional, does she deserve my vote as much as Barack?
That gets to the heart of it. Sexism is perversely the only real tool to enforce sexism, but racism has classism as the back-up plan. Strangely, the figure of the exceptional black person can be used to excuse racist oppression of everyone else. It provides a way for the racist to say, “Look, it’s not society that oppresses black people, since Figure X is permitted access. All those black people living in poverty have every opportunity are just inferior/only have themselves to blame.� Obama has already been used in service of this kind of argument, when William Saletan used his success to argue that other black people who don’t share it are just born stupid.

Sexist Slams are About More Than Hillary Clinton

Wow, a Republican comes up with a decent enough question to address the accusations that all opposition to Hillary Clinton is sexist in nature.
So for those who maintain that they have nothing against women presidents in general, but object to Senator Clinton in particular, I ask this question:
What women would you endorse for president, were they to enter the race tomorrow.
We’ll set aside his weird hostility towards the safety of the workers who keep this country running and focus on the question. I’ll also ignore that two out of three of his picks are “safe� for a conservative, in that those women couldn’t muster up a decent chance of winning, and even Christine Todd Whitman has managed to alienate some party elite, so possibly all three are candidates he can safely endorse in the hypothetical because he’ll never be called up to endorse them in reality. But I would gladly support Nancy Pelosi if she ran, and governor of Kansas Kathleen Sebelius is getting some attention that indicates that she’s a contender in the future. (I would really love Pelosi, in all honesty. She’s not perfect, of course, but she was right about the war from the beginning, and that buys a lot of credibility with me.) And Clinton has my full support if she wins the nomination -- any Democratic contender does, which is why I’m upset by all the dirty politicking going on in the primaries. Someone’s got to win, and when they do, it’s important that their win doesn’t alienate the people who voted for someone else in the primaries, and these kind of dirty politics are polarizing.

There is a reason I bring up possible future candidates of the female persuasion, and it’s to point out that opposition to sexist pandering against Clinton isn’t an endorsement of her, nor is it just about patting one’s self on the back for one’s righteous feminism, though the latter is not an unproductive way to spend your time. It’s about good politics and long-term thinking, which we need a lot more of. Because if we luck out and get to support Candidate Pelosi or Candidate Sebelius in the near future for a presidential bid, we can expect that these images will immediately be transferred from being anti-Clinton to anti-whatever-Democratic-woman-is-running.

Why Feminism and Atheism Often Go Hand in Hand

Two days in West Texas means not much keeping up with the blogs and news. (Though I have been talking lots of campaign stuff with the sole other Democrat in my family, my first cousin. He and his girlfriend have been working for the Clinton campaign around the country, so we had some interesting discussions. But not so much news-driven.) Which means more time to ponder the bigger themes in life. I found this story interesting--organized religion is in the decline in Canada, and some are laying the responsibility at the door of feminism.

I've written plenty before about how my feminism and atheism are closely entwined. Realizing that religion is used as a cheap excuse to oppress women leads to questioning the value of religion leads to realizing that the god stuff is a big fairy tale that has stayed alive because it's convenient for the powers that be to have it. Interestingly, though, this has little to do with women going through the big questions, and everything to do with the smaller details of what it takes to keep organized religion alive.

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Iraq Vets Commit PTSD-Fueled Murders in the Wake of Returning Home

This story about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who've come back from the war only to commit acts of violence at home is a must-read. The NY Times found 121 cases of murders committed by veterans back from these wars, 1/3 of which were domestic murders, and the reporters suspect this is only a percentage of the actual murders committed, because they got that number by scouring newspapers around the country, not from statistics cultivated by the Pentagon, which, surprise surprise, doesn't collect such data. The numbers are not insignificant.
The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.
Unlike the majority of civilians who commit murder, the majority of the 121 veterans documented by the Times reporters had no criminal history. The anecdotal evidence points to a trend of PTSD-fueled overreactions that led to the murders. The opening story of the piece is about a man who shot some guys who confronted him on the street in Las Vegas for violating some gang turf boundaries that the veteran appears not to have cared much about. He shot them with an AK-47, and generally seemed to be confusing the incident with events that he witnessed in Iraq.

This Prick Will Make a Woman Out of You

It’s quickly becoming an iconic moment of adolescent female sexuality. First you’re penetrated, then it hurts terribly. You may cry. You may even faint. For a day or two afterward, you might feel kind of weird.

Losing your virginity? No, getting the HPV vaccine.

75% of me wants to write off this story about how incredibly painful the shot is (with hints of maybe you shouldn’t let your daughter get the raging slut shot) as mostly laziness. The reporter clearly went to a CDC-based conference in Georgia and saw this presentation and thought, “Both easy to write about and has a great hook, because it’s about teenage girls and Teh Sex.� But the hyperbolic language of the piece, especially the stuff about the vaccine being the most painful shot ever (more painful than having your cervix removed?) is irresponsible in an atmosphere where sexphobic, religion-addled parents are resisting getting this life-saving prevention for their daughters in the first place, and are probably looking for any excuse possible to avoid it.

Because the shot doesn’t sound significantly different than other vaccines.

The pain is short-lived, girls say; many react with little more than a grimace. But some teens say it’s uncomfortable driving with or sleeping on the injected arm for up to a day after getting the shot.

Hillary Shows Emotion and Unleashes a Torrent of Sexism

What the hell?
ABC News' David Muir, Raelyn Johnson and Sunlen Miller Report: Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on the tail end of his 36-hour campaigning marathon in New Hampshire on day before the primary vote, reacted to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton's emotional moment Monday.
Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton's ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.
"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.
Earlier in the day, Clinton became emotional when speaking to a group of voters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Completely unacceptable amounts of sexism. It's bad enough that the media plays the game with Clinton where if she shows any emotion, she's too feminine or too scary, but if she's more stoic, she's a scary ballbuster, but to have her own party members (if political rivals) play that cheap sexist card is too much. I've been reconsidering moving my Edwards support to Obama, and unless someone can show me evidence that Obama is just as likely to take cheap, sexist shots like this, I think that's what I'll be doing in light of this. We need someone at the top of the ticket who can know when to hold 'em. And Obama does on this issue--when baited with the opportunity to be sexist to Clinton, he declined. Edwards appears to have taken it back, so it's hard to say that it wasn't just base opportunism on his part. Still, it should be immediately evident to any candidate that playing the "Hillarygirlieweak" game with the media is a bad idea.
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