21 August 2012

"Legitimate rape victims rarely get pregnant."
    - Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri)

The quote above comes to you courtesy of a man who is arguably as dumb as a stump. Or a box of rocks. Take your pick. Stupidity at the level he exhibited on Saturday during his televised interview on KTVI in St. Louis is rarely seen in the civilized world. But then, Todd Akin isn't the kind of guy to let science, history, or even human decency slow him down, is he?

Ladies, what is it going to take to convince you that casting votes for Republican incumbents and office seekers is not in your, or my, best interests?

During the first half of 2012, there was Republican-sponsored legislation introduced in twenty-two bills across thirteen states looking to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds as a requirement before permitting an abortion to occur. In Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Montana, Republicans used Oklahoma's law regarding the "ultrasound-forced view of the image-verbal description of the fetus" requirements as their model for legislation. In Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas and Virginia decided that the ultrasound was mandatory, but the viewing of the fetus or listening to the description of it was optional. Texas managed to get this approved by one house. Arizona tinkered with the legislation, and the governor signed the bill into action. In Arkansas and Connecticut, Republicans feel that only the ultrasound is necessary.

It's 916 pieces of legislation, ladies. Think about that. In a time when our country is at war on several foreign fronts, our economy is in the toilet, the middle class is shrinking to nothing, and education is no longer affordable or even adequate, our Republican legislators found the time to draft, sponsor, lobby and vote for 916 separate pieces of legislation that absolutely represent a declaration of war against women.

You have the right to make decisions about your own body. You have the right to maintain your privacy and dignity when it comes to your medical records and history. The decisions about whether or not you choose to carry a pregnancy to term belong ultimately to you. You also have the right to be treated like a human being. You are not a pet, or a prize pig. You are not a breeding ground for the next generation of Republicans.

Put an end to the misogyny that has infected our government. Our grandmothers fought for our rights. We have to be vigilant, informed, and recognize that this war against women has high stakes -- we must fight for our grand-daughters, and end this once and for all.

Rep. Todd Akin fired a shot across the bow that luckily didn't hit us (his aim is as bad as his science, apparently). You have the chance to fire back -- in the voting booth on election day. He's just one man, yet he's got a lot of company in his party. Senator Paul Ryan willingly co-sponsored the odious "personhood" bill; don't be fooled by the nice smile or blandishments about what's good for the country. What's good for the country has to be good for women, too, or it's a lie.

Excuse me. I'm going to just sit here and wait until I see the whites of their eyes.


14 August 2012

And now, for something
completely different..."
   - Monty Python's Flying Circus

Okay, so let’s set the record straight right now -– I am not now, nor have ever been, a fan of snakes. As one of Eve’s daughters, I naturally recoil when confronted by a slithering reminder of mankind’s fall from grace. My reaction to such encounters is invariably horror, followed by a hasty retreat that puts as much distance between me and the slithering reptile as is humanly possible.

Today, I read that a Burmese python was discovered in the Florida Everglades that makes my reaction seem fully warranted, if not actually understated. They’ve found a record-breaking snake, at 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) long, 165 pounds and nearly a foot in girth. As if that’s not sobering enough, this mammoth python is a female, carrying 87 eggs. The pythons are considered an invasive species, and now scientists are worrying that the snakes will be a danger to humans as well as other species in their vicinity.

I’d have to agree, since even reading about this beast has raised my heart rate considerably. I can only imagine what an actual encounter might do to me. The news article indicated that researchers found feathers and bones inside the snake (oh, good, it’s an ex-snake) which they’ll process to determine what its feeding habits were. I imagine that a python hauling around 87 eggs could work up quite an appetite. Birds, turtles, raccoons, opposums, fish, skunks, squirrels, dogs, cats and now humans must share their space with a large, ravenous, deadly predator. 

It’s not a thought that comforts me.

I also learned that these snakes were imported to this continent via exotic pet sellers nearly thirty years ago. I can just imagine the internal conversation the first seller had with himself:

“Whoa. Look at that thing. It must be ten feet long.”
“What if it gets loose? Is it dangerous?”
“Aww, how fast can a snake move? It’s not like it’s poisonous.”
“Somebody’s going to want to own it. I wonder how much I can get for it.”

And just like that, voila! The decision was made to bring Burmese pythons into the United States. Now, thirty years after the fact, the pythons that did get loose, either accidentally or deliberately, are thriving (many are longer than 10 feet) and reproducing at a seriously alarming rate (dozens of eggs per hatching). Brace yourself. This is what we’re up against:

Burmese Python

Excuse me. I’m off to find St. Patrick, now that we really need him.

03 August 2012

“One of the great mistakes is to judge 
policies and programs by their intentions 
rather than their results.” 
    ― Milton Friedman

Want to know what upsets me?

In the last month, Republicans spent something on the order of twenty-five million dollars on negative campaign ads. I don’t have the numbers on what the Democrats (or anyone else) spent, but I’d bet it is comparable.

Twenty-five million dollars. When we’re so accustomed to hearing our politicians discuss billions, it doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, here’s what twenty-five million dollars can buy (each item represents the full twenty-five million):

  • 52 weeks’ worth of food for 4,800 families of six;
  • 4 years of state college education for 658 students;
  • 150 houses that cost $165,000 (fully paid, no mortgage)
  • 505 30% down payments on $165,000 houses (fixed rate mortgage)
  • nearly 14,000 monthly bus passes for a whole year
  • more than 83,000 bicycles
  • about 12,500 motor scooters
  • $100 worth of shoes for 250,000 people
  • 294,000 polio vaccinations
  • 272,000 tDAP vaccinations
  • 500,000 textbooks (at $50 each)
You can do the match and double up the numbers, assuming the Democrats spent a comparable amount in the same period.

Instead of getting food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care, however, we got treated to 30-second and 1-minute compilations of lies, innuendo, hearsay, and misdirection – and all of it promising that the sponsoring party is going to do right by us.

It really makes me sick, not just angry. It also tires me mightily, knowing that a very large number of people will go to the polls this November and vote from fear, paranoia, jealousy, bigotry, classism, and gender inequity. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to find something better to do with my vote this year, even if it means I have to cast it for somebody that NOBODY thinks has a chance of securing office. I’m going to pay attention to who spends money on negative advertising, who is saying one thing and doing another, and who consistently votes against my best interests. 

If I see them do it even once, it’s too much.

Excuse me. I want to review the last term’s output, and assign some blame to the offending incumbents and seekers. It’s richly deserved.