the mouse that quibbles

the mouse that quibbles

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lamentable Demise of the Republican Party

I enjoy reading The Onion, even more so when those it lampoons don't get the joke. But while satire is meant to be amusing, it quite often reflects a more serious state of affairs. A recent Onion post on a captive breeding programme designed to save the critically endangered moderate Republican had me laughing, before it had me thinking.

Because, actually... they’re right. The Republican Party truly is dying. For all intents and purposes, it’s already dead, the only impression of life being the lurching about of animated zombies eating their own brains, leaving the traditional mainstream moderate Republican conservative embarrassed and frustrated. The traditional mainstream moderate conservatives aren’t even in reality Republicans any longer, as the party itself has deteriorated from the rot of tea party fanaticism, and Koch Brother corruption, and the constant barrage Fox propaganda posing as journalism, and hate-filled blustering talk shows spewing hydrophobic nonsense, and the jaw-droppingly atrocious bunch of incompetent idiots posing as GOP Presidential candidates. All that is left of a once respectable political party is the name “Republican” for nostalgic conservatives to cling to.

Which is so not good for our country. If disaffected Republicans ever managed to purge themselves of the zombies and the tea partiers and the Limbaughs and Fox and regrouped as something else, much like New Labour rebranded itself in the UK (although New Labour turned out to be just Tory Lite rather than any sort of improved Labour party), Democrats might finally have genuine opponents again - which would be both a bit scary and a bit hopeful. A nation runs best when there's an honourable opposition to keep the ruling party honest, regardless of what party is in power. An honourable opposition represents a very large proportion of the nation’s citizenship, and gives that citizenship a strong voice. An honourable opposition works harder at designing and proposing alternative ideas in the hope that the good they can do will garner them enough votes next go-round at the polls. I’d like to see an honourable opposition again.

Right now, that just doesn't exist, and it's not good for either side. Right now, we have a Republican party usurped by loons and goons whose only goal is to bring down President Obama, regardless of the cost to the country, regardless of the damage. Oh, they have a few other ulterior motives, like imposing an authoritarian religious regime on the country that would give hardline Sharia law a run for its money, revoking decades of progressive advancement and what little civil liberties we’ve got left after the Bush administration was through. But repairing our badly damaged and crumbling roads, our airports, bridges, dams, levees, schools, hospitals, national parks, our electrical and water grids? Creating badly needed jobs and strengthening an economy teetering on the edge of collapse? No, that’s not even a blip on their radar, too busy preaching tax cuts for the rich and “austerity” and “sacrifice” for everyone else, like a fat man telling someone dying of starvation the way to get better is to eat even less. And as a result, we have a Democratic Party gradually starting to lose its way as well, rife with DINOs and Blue Dogs and the incompetent or lazy or co-opted. Without an honourable opposition, we have very little with which to keep our party honest. We need a strong, healthy, honourable Republican Party to stay strong, healthy and honourable ourselves.

The Republican Party was once a champion of civil rights, personal responsibility and a regulated government, and engendered people like Abraham Lincoln , Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Today, Mitt Romney’s father would not recognise the Republican Party his son would like to head, Ronald Reagan’s son says his father would be furious with what the Republican party has become - a party utterly dominated by the rich, the religious fanatic, the psychotic, and the jingoistic bigot. The last remnants of the decent, honourable Old Time Republican party are either senile or dead, what’s left is vitriolic, mean-spirited and downright stupid.

There is no Republican Party any longer. It has the name, but it long ago lost its mind before it lost its soul. And I, for one, truly do mourn its passing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When Parody Becomes Reality

cross-posted at C&L:

When the Republican dominated Virginia senate proposed a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, one of their own finally had had enough. Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) attached an amendment to the bill that would require men to have a rectal exam and cardiac stress test before being prescribed Viagra for erectile dysfunction. "We need some gender equality here."

She didn't get it. While her amendment failed, the rest of the bill passed. Rush Limbaugh can be reassured Virginia will protect his God-given right to a stiffy while making sure the women of their fair state will be forced to pay for an unnecessary and expensive ultrasound and view images of the fetus before an abortion can be performed. This particularly cruel act proves yet again that Republicans consider women to be very little more than walking wombs without the same rights over their own bodies that men enjoy over theirs.

But it started a trend. When Republican Senator Brian Crain of Tulsa, Oklahoma, introduced Bill SB 1433, otherwise known as the "Personhood" bill, seeking to legally define human life as beginning at conception, even before implantation in the womb, and offering more legal protection to a one-celled zygote than its fully grown adult mother, Democratic Senator Constance Johnson had had enough - she introduced an amendment declaring every sperm must be likewise sacred. "Any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child."

"As a woman and a 31-year veteran of the legislative process in Oklahoma," she wrote, "I am increasingly offended by state law trends that solely focus on the female's role in the reproductive process. With Oklahoma's new, never-before-experienced Republican majority, we are seeing enactment of more and more measures that adversely affect women and their rights to access safe medical procedures when making reproductive healthcare decisions.

My action to amend the so-called 'Personhood' bill - SB 1433, introduced by Senator Brian Crain (Republican, Tulsa) – represents the culmination of my and many other Oklahomans' frustration regarding the ridiculousness of our reproductive policy initiatives in Oklahoma. I have received overwhelmingly positive responses from men and women in Oklahoma – and worldwide. The Personhood bill would potentially allow governmental intrusion into families' personal lives by policing what happens to a woman's eggs without any similar thought to what happens to a man's sperm.

My amendment seeks to draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women. Oklahoma already incarcerates more women than any other place in the world. Under the latest provisions, a woman in Oklahoma may now face additional criminal charges and potential incarceration for biological functions that produce or, in some cases, destroy eggs or embryos, such as a miscarriage. In vitro fertilization, involving the fertilization outside the womb for implantation into the womb, would also potentially represent a violation of the proposed Personhood statute.

Finally, this amendment seeks to draw humorous attention to the hypocrisy and inconsistency of this proposal – from the Republican perspective of down-sized government and less government intrusion into people's private affairs. Despite the great challenges our state faces, it is far more important that we address issues such as affordable healthcare to help improve our state's ranking of 48th in health status; to create good, secure jobs that grow our economy; and ensure that all citizens have access to quality, affordable education."

Nor was the outrage felt only by women - in solidarity with his colleague, Democrat Jim Wilson proposed an additional amendment to the bill that would make the father of an unborn child financially responsible for its mother's health care, housing, transportation and nourishment while she is pregnant. Unsurprisingly, Wilson's amendment also failed in a Republican dominated Senate. While Oklahoma Republicans seek to control women's bodies, they hypocritically also wish to excuse men from any responsibility whatsoever for their contribution to the creation of an unborn child.

Thankfully, a similar bill to the Oklahoma "Personhood" 1433 bill was defeated at the polls in Mississippi last November. But this insidious movement, supported by almost every Republican Presidential candidate, aims to overthrow the 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling, the Supreme Court decision legalizing a woman's right to chose a safe medical abortion, and is gaining momentum with nearly every single Republican presidential candidate signing on to the so-called "Personhood Pledge" vowing to make abortion illegal, for any reason whatsoever.

Rightwing Republicans do not give a damn about women, not their human rights, not their bodies, not their health or welfare. We're just biological incubators to them. Nor do they really care about the unborn, either - once that blastocystic blob of cells with all the rights under the 14th amendment becomes an actual living, breathing baby, it's on its own, in a country with the worst infant mortality and poverty levels in the western world. So while it is nice to see politicians like Janet Howell, Constance Johnson and Jim Wilson finding creative ways to highlight Republican dishonesty and push back against the misogynistic and even misanthropic power-hungry hypocrites in the Republican party, it's going to take a lot more than amusing amendments to truly malicious bills to stop the rightwing from turning back the clock even further than they've already managed to do.