Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Republican Inquisition

Bizarre that we are in the midst of debate about government required "vaginal probing".

This is, however, effectively sidestepping debate on the economy, at a time when President Obama is finally standing strong and gains are becoming more evident.  It is easier to take a moral stand on something you believe your God has told you to do than to stand in front of GM workers and criticize the actions the president took which saved the plant and the jobs within, although Mitt Romney will be the one to try.  It is also refocusing the attention deficit media from the economy to these ridiculous religious dicta.

It's always fun to make fun of Rick Santorum, but how on earth do we deal with the wackos in the various state legislatures that are introducing these bills which propose to reduce women to cattle, as does the bill introduced by, yes, I kid you not, Illinois' House Agricultural Committee.  At least you can say they are telling it like it is.

If you are able to take a step back to see the bigger picture, I guess it is safe to say that every state has its resident elected wacko, and in many states they are religious wackos.  And now, the Catholic church, who no one has ever listened to in this country anyway, has proudly taken center stage on their belief that God has determined that sex is for procreation, and any attempt to stop it is a sin.  And add the megalomaniacal Santorum, whose conversations with God have gotten louder and more shrill over the weeks since his primary successes.

What you have is the perfect climate for brewing crazy.

Forgive us women for being slow to rise up against this idiocy.  Even though our U.S. House of Representatives has been running its own special sexist Inquisition for the past two years, we honestly didn't think it would catch on.  I mean, even Mississippi voted down the "personhood amendment".

I would like to make more jokes about this situation, because it is so ridiculous that this is happening in 2012.  But there have been so many signs that the religious wackos are taking over the country that I must rely on Jon Stewart for the humorous perspective.  It is also too personal for me as a woman with an adult daughter, to laugh it off.

But I should.  After all, these are men whose idea of stimulating the economy goes no farther than "vaginal probing".

See, it's easy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Still Protecting Us from Terrorists

I opened a savings and checking account at a credit union yesterday.  Apparently, I hadn't done anything like that for some time.  Even though the account I was opening was small, requiring the less onerous senior savings plan, the credit union required two proofs of identification, not just a driver's license.

They also did a credit check.

This seems strange, because I am depositing money, not applying for a loan.  I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have known she was doing it if she hadn't told me, and if she hadn't informed me that she was required to do this credit check because of the Patriot Act, I probably wouldn't have questioned it.  Shame on me.

But she did let me know she was pulling up the credit report, and told me my score and what it meant.  We shared snide comments about how the government requested unnecessary private information, claiming to be protecting us from terrorists, and were able to do this just because they could.

But then I got home and started to wonder about this.  Apparently, banks are not required to pull up a credit report, but they are required to confirm a person's identity and note any unusual financial activity.  The requirement, since 9/11 and the Bush regime, is apparently so frightening that banks have taken the easiest way out by accessing as much private information as they can.  And your credit report is easy.

You also don't want to come in to big amounts of cash out of the blue, or your account could be frozen while the bank reports you to the government.

But, said the online banking article from 2006, most people won't be affected by this; they won't even know it is going on.

So just hope you're one of those many people who haven't got a clue that the government has got your bank's eyes on you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Moral of DeMint's Fairy Tales

I was pleased to see our own Senator Jim DeMint take center stage for two whole pages in Thomas Frank's slender new book, Pity the Billionaire.

He very clearly describes DeMint's twists and turns in attempting to create a reality that conforms with his own self-serving belief system.

DeMint sings his eternal chorus of "socialism bad -- capitalism good" when he invents Europe's decline after World War II due to the adaptation of socialist programs (like national health care).  As Frank points out, France, Italy, Belgium and Sweden actually thrived during those postwar years.

But how can this be???  Simply, to Jim DeMint, it can't be, because it is not supposed to happen that way.  His reality is that Europe declined after their move toward socialism.

And Frank notes that DeMint does not ever offer proof of his claims; he merely tosses out inflammatory accusations to which his followers respond predictably, with fear and anger, and of course, loyalty to DeMint and his cause.

We see it over and over in the republican right wing.  Facts are shunted aside like an annoying gnat, while the rhetoric is repeated, as though the repetition makes it so.  And Senator DeMint, while not the brightest star in the firmament, like ex-President George W. Bush, knows how to tell a story.

As Frank says, DeMint's "fondness for fairy tales" combines simplicity (or simple-mindedness) with a moral rigidity that becomes ever more rigid as its tenets are questioned.

The success of this method is apparent as voters continue to support and elect those whose policies have failed, and which policies have torn down institutions we have for generations held as essential to our American democracy.

How do we fight this wave of delusion?

Fighting the fallacies will only work to a point.  President Obama, turning the tide of his presidency in the past several months, has demonstrated how to convince people that he, and not Boehner and DeMint and the rest of the right wing-nuts, is protecting our rights and freedoms.  He has done it through action.  Upon action upon action.  From recess appointments to enacting programs that will help turn the economy around and protect the American people, Obama has proven through his actions that he believes this is the way to get us back on our feet, and subsequently, it is working.

And, ironically, by standing up to the moneyed interests, he has also increased confidence and growth in the business community.

So we have learned something important from idiots like W. and DeMint.  We have learned that we too need to speak loudly and clearly about our values, and we need to act towards making those values once again central to our Democracy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not a Great Day in South Carolina

When I moved to South Carolina some 12 years ago, I was delighted by how welcoming all y'all were.  I was loathe to believe all those nasty things we Yankees had assumed about racism and closed-mindedness.

Of late I have come to understand those negative stereotypes.

It is here in South Carolina that primary voters raced to the polls to support a man who believes poor parents are lazy and do not provide good work models for their children.  While no longer openly advocating work houses and orphanages for the children of the poor, he proudly presented his solution to the problem of raising lazy children:  put them to work in the schools as janitors.

I don't know about you, but when my children were small, I was busy finding every learning opportunity I could get my hands on for them.  I had dreams of violinists, writers, scientists -- award winners both of them.  And when Barack Obama ran for office in 2008, he allowed people mired in poverty to begin to have those dreams for their children again.

So I don't blame Newt for being ignorant and manipulative, he is who he is.  What I am offended by is the voters of this state who applauded those ugly ideas, and who look forward to a day in this country when the poor are put in their place and when we middle class whites can get back to comfortably being in control.