Yes, I’ve written an imaginary PR e-mail from Edwina Rogers, the controversial new Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, based on conjectures and false hopes and a little bit of AbFab. It seemed the thing to do.
“I want to start off with an apology for something I feel like I, and the SCA, have done a poor job of. We’ve done a poor job of introducing me and an incredibly poor job of reaching out to opinion leaders in the atheist movement. Undoubtedly, the behind-closed-doors decision to make what was bound to be a controversial hiring decision should have been tempered by a more comprehensive and immediate introduction and explanation of why I, of all people, was chosen for this position.
I have identified as a non-theist for a long time, but I am very new to this movement. This is not because I don’t care about the issues you care about, I very much do, but they have not been my focus and, because of that, I really didn’t realize how bad things were until recently. My career and my focus have been very issue centered, some of these issues overlapped with my own secular beliefs, but the fact is that issue-focused work tends to create a very insular worldview. So, in many ways, I am a recent convert, not to your beliefs, but to your cause.
Which is where I have made another mistake. This community is very engaged and very well-informed and I have done my best to educate myself quickly, but there are things I have missed on the way. My recollection of statistics about Republicans from 20 years ago, for example, is not really the best gauge of Republicans now. Sometimes I forget that that was an entire generation ago, it doesn’t seem that long to me. And I have to admit that my claims that the majority of Republicans are pro-choice, OK with gay rights, and for the separation of church and state were as much a result of wishful thinking as they were of ignorance. I have had statistics shown to me that do indeed prove I was dead wrong on this front.
And I need your help on this front. I am trying, but I just am not as well-educated about this as those people who have focused on this cause their whole lives. I know the goals of the coalition and am well-versed in those goals and don’t doubt my ability to execute them, but as for the wider culture of the secular movement and the less specific goals thereof, I will need more time to learn the nuances, and I hope you will help me rather than condemning me for my neophyte status.
My final big mistake is that I’ve been trying to focus exclusively on my positives without acknowledging my negatives and without engaging with them openly and honestly. This is a fault of being in politics, it makes you quite the bullshit artist. I should have known better in this community than to think I could dance around questions without being called on it. So let me say that you are right. You are right that I’ve worked for and support a party that disagrees, in majority but not in totality, with many of your goals. But I was working for causes that I cared very deeply about, and I will not apologize for doing that. And I will not abandon my party because other people have taken it in a direction I disagree with. It is better for all of us if we can bring the party back in line with the goals of the secular community and I really do think that is possible.
So, just to recap, I haven’t done a good enough job introducing myself, I haven’t had the time to educate myself as thoroughly as the community is educated, and I have not been clear on acknowledging that there were some negatives to my background. That said, I think I bring a lot to the table that I hope you can appreciate.
I am an experienced lobbyist and I know the workings of DC very well. I have led coalitions in the past and had great success. Although my work with Republicans is difficult for many of you to accept, it gives me an in to people who might not otherwise be as interested in hearing what we have to say. And I am legitimately, passionately interested in promoting this cause. I did not simply apply because I needed a job — I had a job, one that was a lot less contentious — I applied because I have become aware of some of the horrible inequities in this country for people who are secular. I am just as horrified as all of you at the degree of influence the Christian Right has on the government, and I want to change that. I have the credentials to do the job from a strictly political side, but I promise you that I am here because I want to be, because this cause is important to me, and because I think that I personally can make a difference through this position with the SCA.
The SCA chose me because I was, in their opinion, the best person for the job. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to take it on faith that theirs was the best choice, but I hope that you can give me a chance and the benefit of the doubt for a little while. I look forward to talking with you at conferences and through our local organizations. Together, I really do think we can change this country in meaningful ways on important issues.
This isn’t just a war on women, it’s a war on dignity, it’s a war on common decency, it’s a war on the GOP’s own conservative principles. When someone accuses liberals of being smug and turning our country into a “nanny state”, ask them which party thinks women are too stupid to make their own decisions about their body.
Ask them which party thinks a woman needs a sonogram, an intravaginal ultrasound, a lecture, and a 72-hour waiting period to be able to make a choice about their body.
This is not just a war on women, it’s a war against progress, it’s a war against economic recovery, it’s a war of obstructionism. It’s a war for gaining political points instead of actually helping people.
In 2011, there were 1100 bills about reproductive rights introduced at the state level; 135 passed. So far this year, 45 states have considered 944 bills about reproductive rights. Tell me, which of these bills created a job? These jaded conservatives don’t think all of these bills will pass, they just want to prevent anyone else from actually governing.
Nikki Haley was almost right — women don’t care ONLY about contraception — so give us our rights so that you can get on with real legislation.
Women are not doing OK. Our unemployment rate has stayed stagnate in the past three years. 88% of the jobs in the recovery have gone to men. The rate of poverty for women is over 25% higher than that of men. In South Carolina, we still make only 76 cents to the dollar.
This is not just a war on women, this is a war on the first amendment — on freedom of speech, on freedom of religion.
This is a war trying to force the Christian version of Sharia law into our secular constitution.
This is a war trying to make it so the 1960s never happened. To take the US back to an imaginary time when women held “aspirin between their knees” and didn’t have sex. Where it’s ok to repeal equal pay laws because QUOTE “men care more about money.” In a country where 2/3 of women are the primary or co-breadwinners of their family. It’s a war to make women’s only function to be married with children.
To create a world where we can arrest women for having a miscarriage and make killing abortion doctors Justifiable Homicide. Where Maryland can justify cutting pre-school funding because women should be at home, NOT working. Where Wisconsin can introduce a bill designating single parenting as child abuse.
Where Arizona can demand women prove they’re taking birth control for a REAL medical reason, as though NOT GETTING PREGNANT wasn’t a real medical concern. This in a country where a woman is fourteen times more likely to die in childbirth than if she lived in Greece. That sounds like a real medical concern to me.
They want to create a land where Arizona doctors can legally lie to women if they think it will prevent them from getting an abortion. Where wife beating is LEGAL in Topeka, KS. Where the ER can refuse to save a woman’s life if it might kill her unborn child.
Where democrats are so afraid of the religious right that the Obama administration ignored science and the advice of the medical community and prevented Plan B from being over-the-counter. WHAT IS SCIENCE FOR? Apparently just for Christian Conservatives to dismiss as a “liberal agenda”, the facts so rarely being on their side.
This is not just a war on women, it is a war on facts, it is a war on reality, it is a war on America. Where women are worth less than fetuses, where Congress fights for horse contraception but not for women’s contraception. Where conservatives are either ignorant or liars about how birth control works. Where Susan Komen would rather cut funding to save women from breast cancer than be associated with Planned Parenthood.
This is not just a war on women. It is not a war on women’s rights, it is a war on human rights.
But it is not hopeless.
Planned Parenthood raised over $400,000 when Susan Komen dropped them. Republican women are starting to speak out for women, women like us. Women like Senators Olympia Snowe and Lisa Murkowski. Women like Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Though it had opposition — far more opposition than I am comfortable with — the Violence Against Women Act passed the US Senate. And there are things we can do. We can vote this November for the president.
The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.
Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago. Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.
We can vote. We can run. We can refuse to shut up. We can tell our friends, our lovers, our husbands, our brothers, our sons.
We can fight and we will fight.
We’ve been sitting still for too long, but now we’re standing up and we will not be silenced. I can’t speak for you, but I have no intention of sitting back down.
(Speech given at the Unite Against the War on Women Rally in SC)
I’ve been trying to understand why smart people I know support Ron Paul and I just can’t get my head around it. I get the sense that maybe the Ron Paul People I know just don’t realize what Ron Paul’s all about. That or they just don’t care.
The Ron Paul People I know are almost all straight, single, relatively young, non-religious, white men. Available demographics suggest that this is an accurate picture; there are others in Ron Paul’s camp, but it’s basically youngish white men.
They do not consider themselves to be Democrats or Republicans. Some of them hate the idea of rules, many of them hate the idea of having their money taken away in taxes, but none of them are stupid or without the resources to learn more about their candidate. And none seem to care about any of Ron Paul’s policies outside of cutting spending, regulations, and taxes.
Every Ron Paul Person I know comes out of the woodwork any time anything negative is said about the guy, no matter how true the statement and no matter how much that individual disagrees with Ron Paul’s position or behavior. I get the sense that libertarians are so excited to have someone on the national stage that they don’t want to see anything problematic with the guy, but he’s transparently a bad deal.
So, why are these people supporting a crazy, racist Christian fundamentalist?
Why People Love Ron Paul:
- He believes in reduced military spending
- Less taxes, less rules, less government
- He wants to end the “War on Drugs”
- He is “philosophically consistent”
That last one seems to be big — people seem to think that Ron Paul offers a coherent philosophy to deal with politics and that’s why they like him.
He’s very consistent on the whole taxes idea — he wants to get rid of the income tax, which apparently makes us all the property of the government, and his voting record shows this. I can see the appeal, even if I totally disagree.
Ron Paul is Anti-Free Market:
But if we take this libertarian personal freedom thing to its logical conclusion, Paul would also be all for open borders and a completely open labor markets, right? Yeah, but not so much — he’s very anti open borders.
The toughest part of showing any compassion or tolerance to the illegal immigrants … is the tremendous encouragement it gives for more immigrants to come illegally and avoid the wait and the bureaucracy.
So, bureaucracy good when it keeps the brown people out? Taxing the insanely rich is slavery! Letting foreign people work in America should be illegal!
He voted for building a fence on the Mexican border, reporting illegal aliens who go to hospitals, and for banning student visas from “terrorist nations”. He’s all about reducing the military and allowing the free market, except when it comes to this for some reason.
Oh, it’s also great that he wants to get rid of the fed, I love this. You know who made the fed what it is today? A guy named Alan Greenspan. You know, Alan Greenspan, the most famous and powerful libertarian ever to work in the US government. He was a disciple of Ayn Rand and was part of the inner circle of her cult. Alan Greenspan almost single-handedly caused this recession. By all means, let’s fix the fed, but let us also acknowledge it was a libertarian that got us here!
Ron Paul Doesn’t Support Minorities:
He thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you know that whole equality thing, was a violation of people’s rights and wouldn’t have forced anyone to lift the Jim Crow laws. He called MLKJr day “hate whitey day”. According to Ron Paul supporters, this is OK because he wants to legalize drugs and end the death penalty, both of which would disproportionately go to help black men.
I don’t even want to go into all of the sketchy things that he’s said, I’ll just offer you this link and be done with it. Suffice to say, the guy’s said some unkind things about minorities.
On top of this, he wants English to be the official language of the US and thinks government shouldn’t offer services in any other language. How’s that for federal bureaucratic overhead?
A lot of people respect his position on gay marriage, which is that it shouldn’t be the federal government’s business even though he personally is opposed to it. It may not be the federal government’s business, but he’s certainly voted to enshrine homophobic behavior in federal law. He voted against including “sexual orientation” as a protected class in ENDA, meaning he thinks it’s OK to fire people for being gay, and he voted to ban gay adoptions in DC.
Ron Paul is Against Church/State Separation:
Ron Paul has a 17% rating with the AU, meaning he almost never votes in favor of a bill that would be promoting the separation of church and state.
The guy is crazy fundamentalist, no lie. It informs most of his political positions, including right to life stuff that I’ll address in a minute. But it also includes something that maybe some of my libertarian friends agree with. Ron Paul is one of the few politicians in DC willing to say anything negative about Zionism or Israel, and I know a lot of libertarians think that we shouldn’t be Israel’s protector anymore. But do you know why he doesn’t support Israel?
Despite the fact that many Fundies, known as Premillenialists, support Israel because their end-time theology tells them that it is necessary for the return of Jesus, Christian Reconstructionists like Paul have a different view, basically that the Israeli government isn’t the right one for the end of days and the right sort of Christians are now the chosen people of Revelations.
“I think of the Israeli government as different than what I read about in the Bible. I mean, the Israeli government doesn’t happen to be reflecting God’s views. Some of them are atheist, and their form of government is not what I would support… And there are some people who interpret the chosen people as not being so narrowly defined as only the Jews — that maybe there’s a broader definition of that.”
He and Sarah Palin can get into a fight over whose Christian end of days attitude towards Israel is the right one!
He often gets accused of being anti-Semitic because he’s anti-Zionism, and he may well be, but his position on Israel is all about religion. He’s generally isolationist anyway, so it works with the rest of his shtick.
And, while his faith isn’t his number one talking point, he sure does have a statement of faith on his website and includes a reference to it in his debates.
And, despite the fact that he thinks the education department should be dismantled, he also thinks that public funds should pay for private Christian educations and supports a constitutional amendment in favor of school prayer. Again, not a libertarian stance at all.
Ron Paul is Rabidly Anti-Choice and Anti-Science:
This goes hand in hand with the crazy religious stuff, it’s all related.
This man, who is a doctor, does not believe in evolution.
This man, who is a doctor, believes that life begins at conception.
He has a somewhat complex view on abortion in that he believes that it, like murder, should be tried and controlled at the state level, not the federal one. That said, he has voted repeatedly for national bills that promote the pro-life cause and introduced a bill that would say that life begins at conception.
He voted not to authorize embryonic stem cell research multiple times. He has a 0% by NARAL, meaning he votes 100% against abortion rights. He voted yes on the Stupak Amendment to prevent health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage. Voted to prevent funding from going to schools that make the morning after pill available and to provide funding for abstinence only education.
He cosponsored a bill to take funds from a needy family benefit program to go to support non-governmental groups that counsel people not to have abortions.
Again, how is this not federal interference?
Ron Paul Helps Billionaires Not the Poor
This section, I know, is where a lot of libertarians are going to agree with his votes, but I have to say I think they don’t reflect well on him.
He is completely against environmental regulation and trying to find alternative energy sources. Despite his claims that he’d rather have unions control the market than a minimum wage, he voted for legalizing union busting more than once. Despite his supposed belief in the free market, he voted to ban shareholders from weighing in on executives’ compensation. Extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, expanded them, and undermined Social Security by changing the standards.
Voted against the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act to feed children and voted against a measure to ensure children had health insurance.Voted yes on a measure to prevent federally funded laborers to be paid the prevailing wage of the area, so that people making less than a living wage could be reduced even further into poverty!
Ron Paul is a Hypocrite
He is completely inconsistent, not just philosophically as a libertarian, but also on very specific issues like federal funding to local areas. Which brings us to his response to Katrina. You’d think someone who was so waffley about his own philosophical convictions when it comes to women’s rights and immigrants would be willing to waffle a little to save lives, after all he’s all sanctity of life, right?
Is bailing out people that chose to live on the coastline a proper function of the federal government?
But at least his congressional district in Texas doesn’t rely on tons of federal funding, right? Oh, no, it’s one of the top in Texas. Federal government using money to save people’s lives is apparently not OK, but him earmarking funds for his district is cool. More important than Katrina victims? Removing a sunken ship from a harbor and sending a few million dollars to Texan shrimp fishermen.
Ron Paul is a Little Nuts
But of course, my favorite part about Ron Paul is that he thinks the executive branch shouldn’t have very much power. The problem with that is that if you elect Ron Paul, he can’t do anything without violating his own philosophy because he would be the executive branch of the federal government. Ron Paul just doesn’t make sense for anyone.
He thinks we should go back to the gold standard, which I think is pretty crazy, but that’s hardly the only place he goes a bit weird. On The Daily Show he said the following, I guess suggesting that he’s for regulations after he’s against them:
The regulations are much tougher in a free market, because you cannot commit fraud, you cannot steal, you cannot hurt people, and the failure has come that government wouldn’t enforce this. In the Industrial Revolution there was a collusion and you could pollute and they got away with it. But in a true free market in a libertarian society you can’t do that. You have to be responsible. So the regulations would be tougher.
And then there’s this:
I’ve been told not to talk, but these stooges don’t scare me. Threats or no threats, I’ve laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.) The Bohemian Grove–perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress’s Mr. New Money. The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica.
If people know this about Ron Paul and still want to vote for him, that’s obviously their choice, but I can’t help but feel like the only way you could vote for him would be in ignorance or denial of these facts.
The following amendment is up for a vote in Mississippi this year:
“SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:
Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
This would ban all forms of hormonal birth control, IVF, and make pregnant women who have miscarriages or who have fertilized eggs that fail to implant be criminally liable for murder. Pregnancy doesn’t occur until after implantation, which doesn’t occur in up to 70% of fertilizations. If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, do these people really think that that is a death? Am I committing manslaughter if my uterus just isn’t a friendly enough host?
Pregnant women have been arrested on murder charges for attempting suicide while pregnant and for having miscarriages, it’s absolute insanity.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
And there’s this awesome fact from my home state:
South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.
Now, I admit that I am extremely pro-choice. I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to be pregnant if they don’t want to be. If the fetus isn’t viable, this means access to abortion, if the fetus is viable, this means access to inducing labor. Regardless of the personhood status of a fetus, I don’t believe in enslaving one person to keep another person alive. And if you think that’s a ridiculous analogy, explain to me “pro-life” people who believe in exceptions for rape and incest — these people don’t think abortion is murder, or they wouldn’t allow exceptions, they believe it is a punishment for women who have sex.
Being pregnant is a dangerous condition — to force someone to take on the risks against their will is cruel. Women develop chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, they die from complications, they are bankrupted by the high medical costs (it can cost $7000 for a birth without complications, premies can cost upwards of $100,000), and they are much more likely to be beaten or murdered.
And while maternal death rates in the US are lower than in the developing world, we’re 50th in the world. Meaning there are 49 countries where a woman is less likely to die from being pregnant than in the good old US of A. You are 14.5 times more likely to survive pregnancy in Greece than you are in the US. And for “each death, experts estimate, there are about 50 instances of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth that are life-threatening or cause permanent damage.” Why don’t you Google Image Search “fistula” and “vaginal prolapse”?
But even if you’re against abortion — and I hesitate to use the term pro-life here because I feel like that term should only apply to people who are also against the death penalty — surely you are for women not constantly being pregnant, right? All those things I just listed are much more likely to impact women who get pregnant many times, surely birth control is a wonderful compromise that allows fewer abortions, fewer pregnancies, and more wanted children, right?
So why this insane amendment that says life begins before pregnancy does? And if you’re so gung-ho pro-baby, why an amendment that makes IVF illegal? And if you consider yourself pro-life, don’t you want doctors to be able to save the life of women with ectopic pregnancies? Shouldn’t our government be trying to improve the economy and get people jobs, not trying to simplify personal moral choices into completely cartoonish slogans?
Rachel Maddow does a heroic job here of explaining the problem: