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President Rick Perry’s America: No Country For Women

Rick Perry has been governor of Texas since before I was old enough to vote. As a native Texan born in the millennial age, I put Rick Perry in the same category as a cassette player or an AOL subscription — something that has seemingly always been around, but has long since lost its purpose. Coming of age as a woman in Rick Perry’s Texas is sort of like living in the wild, wild west, like an Annie Ovary of women’s health, dodging old men wielding vaginal probes and vaccine mandates. With a governor who has a women’s health record that’s a bumpy country mile long possibly becoming our next president, what would it mean for women across America? Allow me.

First order of business in the Perry presidency would be the creation of the Department of Interior Contraception, or DIC. DIC would oversee approved contraceptive devices under Perry’s watchful eye, the top item on the list being the most widely accepted, reliable option available to God-fearing Americans these days: abstinence. Now, while it’s true Texas has the 3rd highest teen birth rate in the country and also true that a 2005 study found teens in Texas were actually having more sex after undergoing an abstinence-only program, Rick Perry still stands by the practice. Why? Not because there are actually any studies backing him up but “from my own personal life,” Perry told the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith in an interview earlier this year. Comforting, isn’t it? Rather than President Perry making decisions based on studies and figures, the free world will instead hinge on the regularity of his wife’s cycles.

But don’t take Rick Perry’s word for it. Starting in 2012, women (and their partners — suddenly that cowboy vote doesn’t sound so good, does it gentlemen?) will get their very own chance to practice an abstinence-only approach when the recent law that requires health insurance companies to cover birth control will no doubt be rolled back by President Perry.

That brings us to the question of how Perry plans to punish women who don’t fall into line with his tried and true abstinence methods. After all, without threat of punishment, I think it’s safe to say Perry will probably be the only person in America abstaining from sex. For the sinners, Perry has already started a little pilot program right here in Texas.

The state now requires mandatory transvaginal sonograms for women who are 8 to 10 weeks pregnant and seeking abortions. The bill, which Perry declared a piece of “emergency legislation” during the last legislative session, requires the doctor to describe the fetus and play audio of the heartbeat prior to the abortion procedure. President Perry’s version of this bill will include an amendment to play Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” during the procedure.

Alas, if all of this has you feeling down, ladies, don’t fret. Think of all those cute babies we’ll get to have. But in Rick Perry’s America, you may want to home school. Texas ranks first in the nation in adults without high school diplomas. The future also doesn’t look so bright for all those precious little ones when it comes to health insurance and potential jobs: Texas boasts another first in the nation in the percentage of children without health insurance and, in 2010, Texas tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of workers employed in minimum-wage jobs. No wonder Governor Perry wants Texas to secede. It’d sure make us look less stupid.

At a speech given to the United for Life group in June, Perry bragged about Texas’s recently-passed sonogram law and told attendees, “In Texas we have pursued policies to protect unborn children whenever possible.” And you can bet your left Fallopian tube that, if elected, he’ll continue to do the same for the unborn children of America. I just hope there’s a Plan B pill for what happens when all these children grow up — because President Perry, just like Governor Perry, certainly doesn’t plan to care for them.

After all, where Rick Perry comes from, that’s women’s work.

By: Rachel Farris, AlterNet, August 19, 2011: This essay originally
appeared
at MeanRachel.com.

 

August 22, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Education, Elections, Equal Rights, Freedom, GOP, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Insurance Companies, Jobs, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Teaparty, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deceitful And Strange Bedfellows: After Months Of Rancor, Two Governors Alter Tones

After Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican in his first months in office, announced early this year that he wanted to cut collective bargaining rights for public workers, relations between political parties in his newly red State Capitol fell into a long, deep frost.

But after six months of bruising partisan fights, Mr. Walker seemed to issue an utterly different message this month. He said he wanted to meet with Democrats and to find shared agenda items — an invitation that has been met with polite acceptance and deep skepticism.

“My thought is, you start out with small things, you build trust, you move forward, you keep working on things and you try and pick as many things that are things that people can clearly work together on,” Mr. Walker, who may face a recall election next year, said in an interview.

In the months after a flurry of Republican wins of governors’ offices and state legislatures in 2010, perhaps nowhere was the partisan rancor more pronounced than in the nation’s middle — places like Wisconsin and Ohio, where fights over labor unions exploded. But now, at least in those states, there are signs that the same Republicans see a need to show, at least publicly, a desire to play well with others.

In both states, critics dismiss the moves as desperate attempts to shore up sinking popularity ratings or disingenuous, tardy strategies to appear agreeable after already ramming through their agendas.

“It’s all P.R. — none of it is substantive,” Mark Miller, the Democrats’ minority leader in the Wisconsin State Senate, said earlier this month, before Mr. Walker held what some described as a “cordial” meeting with the Democratic leaders last week.

Whatever the true substance of the offers, the recent tones in Ohio and Wisconsin do appear to show one thing: With threats of recalls and bill repeals, with public dismay in recent months over the partisan stalemate in Washington on the debt ceiling, and with battleground-state presidential politics looming in 2012, governing with majorities has turned out in some states to be more complicated than it may have first appeared.

Across the nation, partisan relations in statehouses where Republicans made significant gains last fall have varied widely, and in many cases there are no signs of softening messages — or even the need for such a thing. But leaders in other states, including some that are expected to consider limits to unions in the months ahead, are closely watching what unfolds now in Ohio and Wisconsin, the states that became the unexpected battle zones for an earlier season of discontent.

In Columbus, Democrats and union leaders were enraged this year when Gov. John R. Kasich, another first-term Republican governor, and the Republicans who now control both chambers of the legislature pushed through — mostly along partisan lines— a law that would limit the rights of public workers to bargain collectively.

Republicans in Ohio advocated for the measure as the logical response to shrunken budgets in towns, cities and counties. But union leaders and Democrats — and a group calling itself We Are Ohio — spent months collecting more than 900,000 valid signatures (hundreds of thousands more than needed) to put the law to a vote in a statewide referendum in November. A campaign, which is expected to draw significant interest and spending from political groups in Ohio and nationwide, is likely to begin in earnest soon.

Last week, Mr. Kasich and Republican leaders sent a letter to the union organizers, calling for a meeting to discuss a compromise. The leaders said they still believed in the law they had passed, and a spokesman for Mr. Kasich would not say precisely what areas the Republicans were willing to give in on. “We are prepared to move forward immediately with legislative action to implement any agreement on changes we are able to reach together,” the letter read.

“We ought to get to the table and we ought to talk about it,” Mr. Kasich told reporters on Friday, meeting with them in a room full of empty seats and placards for the absent organizers, although the organizers said they had turned down the invitation. “Is it too late?” Mr. Kasich asked. “It’s never too late.”

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Mr. Kasich, said the new invitation did not mark any shift in Mr. Kasich’s approach; the governor had sought to talk to labor groups during the legislative fight, Mr. Nichols said, and some representatives had engaged in private discussions over the issue again in June before the unions ended those talks, he said. “He, more than most, has a long history of working across party lines,” Mr. Nichols said.

But critics balked at the notion that any real talks had been offered before or that any true, concrete compromises — not just photo opportunities for a public fatigued by partisan rancor — were being offered now.

“If they’re honestly coming forward for a compromise, repeal the bill and then we’ll talk,” said Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, explaining why representatives for the group had declined to meet with Mr. Kasich on Friday. “If they wanted to get along, they probably should have tried to during the legislative process instead of locking people out.”

In Wisconsin, partisan relations — and that state’s fight over limits to collective bargaining — have proved still uglier.

In the weeks after Mr. Walker proposed the limits in February, state lawmakers, newly dominated by Republicans in the Capitol, split in two. The minority Senate Democrats fled the state to try to block a vote on the measure. The Republicans issued the lawmaking equivalent of warrants against them, and at one point, threatened that the Democrats had to collect their paychecks in person — or not get them at all. And, as protesters screamed outside his closed office door, Mr. Walker firmly defended the bargaining cuts and said his administration was “certainly looking at all legal options” against the other party.

But after a summer of expensive, brutal recall election efforts against nine state senators — Democrats for having fled the state, and Republicans for having supported the bargaining cuts — Mr. Walker seemed to be sounding a different, softer note. He said he had called Democratic leaders in the Legislature even before the polls closed in some of this month’s recalls, which, in the end, maintained the Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, though by a slimmer margin of 17 to 16 in the Senate.

Democrats in the state had harsh theories about what was behind Mr. Walker’s sudden wish to get along. Some said he had already accomplished a stunningly partisan agenda, including the bargaining cuts, an austere budget, a voter identification law, a concealed-firearms provision and a redistricting map that favored Republicans, and was now hoping to appear to be reaching out. Others said he feared a different recall election effort — against him — next year, as well as creating a drag in the state on any Republican presidential ticket.

“This is totally phony — a totally unbelievable act of desperation,” said Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party. “It will fade away and return soon enough to the scorched-earth method that has marked his career.”

Reflecting on the start of his term, Mr. Walker said that he wished he had spent more time “building a case” with the public for why collective bargaining cuts could shore up budgets, but that he remained a firm supporter of the cuts themselves — a fact that seems certain to complicate any effort for bipartisanship now.

“I’m not thinking that just because we snap our fingers that suddenly everybody’s going to run out and work together and it’s all going to work perfectly,” the governor said.

By: Monica Davey, The New York Times, August 21, 2011

August 22, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Gov John Kasich, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Public Employees, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Teaparty, Union Busting, Unions, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Escalates Voter Suppression In Ohio

If any Democrats you know need a reason to raise hell about the GOP-led effort to restrict early voting, please direct them to Ken McCall’s Dayton Daily News article, “Changes to early voting rules could hurt Dems.” The headline is actually an understatement, as McCall’s article makes clear:

A Republican-sponsored state law designed to curb voter fraud by significantly limiting the number of days to vote early has a greater potential to hurt Democrats than Republicans, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of voter patterns from the 2008 presidential election.The Daily News examined precinct-level voting results in five counties and found that Democratic voters were much more likely than Republicans to come to boards of elections offices and vote early in the 2008 presidential election, especially in urban counties.

The analysis of voting in the 2,830 precincts in Montgomery, Franklin and Hamilton counties found that precincts won by Democrat Barack Obama had significantly more early votes than those that went for his Republican challenger, John McCain.

And the more a precinct went for Obama, the more early, in-office votes were cast….In the top 10 Obama precincts — all from Dayton and all voting 98 percent for the Democrat — early, in-office votes made up almost 29 percent of all votes cast. In the top 10 precincts for McCain — all in rural or suburban areas of the county — only 2.4 percent of the ballots were cast at the board of elections before Election Day….

House Bill 194, now known as the Elections Reform Bill, contains more than 180 changes to election law, including provisions cutting early, in-office voting by about two-thirds — from 35 days to the equivalent of 11.

Even the nonpartisan League of Women Voters has expressed concern about the bill as an instrument of voter suppression. “The League never talks about people’s motivations, but the effect of it will be to depress the vote,” according to the League’s Peg Rosenfeld, quoted in McCall’s article.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has filed petitions to overturn the law. Hopefully there will be mounting protests against the legislation, which targets African American voters as well as Democrats. In any event, the Republican-lead campaign against early voting should underscore the urgency of Dems having stronger GOTV programs in every state where early voting is under assault.

It’s about as naked an attempt to suppress pro-Democratic voters as we are likely to see in the months ahead. For all of the GOP’s flag-waving and blustering about freedom, when you get right down to it, they want to make it harder for people to vote.

By: Democratic Strategist Staff, August 21, 2011

 

August 22, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Equal Rights, Freedom, GOP, Gov John Kasich, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Liberty, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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