Politics Wednesday – Reactionaries

Reactionary – adjective; of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change.

Reactionary – noun; a reactionary person.

That’s the modern definition of a reactionary. One of my political science profs was more succinct: progressive = forward thinking; reactionary = backwards thinking.

That “backwards thinking” seems to be part and parcel of being a Republican lately. The Repugs seem to have a disturbing nostalgia for the way things used to be–women not working outside the home, women not being able to use birth control, women not being paid the same as men, women not needing legislation to assure police take their claims of domestic violence seriously, etc.

I hope you’ve picked up the common theme here. In case you haven’t, it’s women. Republican men–and some Republican women–in state legislatures across the country have proposed or enacted some of the most backwards laws regarding women’s health and a woman’s right to decide what she does with her body.

In response to a story about the high number of rapes and sexual assaults of women in the military, Liz Trotta, an “analyst” on Fox News, said that women who go into the military should just expect to be raped. I don’t know which is worse–the “lie back and take it” attitude or the assumption that men are just born rapists. My mother said the same thing when I went to work at the FAA, a then male-dominated workplace, but my mother was certifiable.

Rick Santorum, in addition to opposing any form of birth control (So, why is your wife not pregnant again, Rick?), recently said that women working outside the home is harmful to families. He also said that having women in front line positions in the military would mean male soldiers would be distracted by their desire to protect them. If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, he says, she should just accept God’s gift of life. The more outrageous things he says about women and their place in society, the higher he surges in Republican polls.

In my home state of Virginia, the state legislature just passed a law requiring a woman who wants an abortion in the first trimester to get an ultrasound, even if her doctor says she doesn’t need it. The theory seems to be if the woman sees a fully formed baby she’ll change her mind. The reality is the fetus isn’t fully formed in the first trimester–it’s so small the ultrasound has to be done trans-vaginally. That means the ultrasound device is inserted in a woman’s vagina to obtain the scan of a fetus that is 2.5 inches long and weighs less than an ounce. In case you didn’t get it, I’ll repeat: Inserted. In. A. Woman’s. Vagina. What is it we call penetration of a woman’s vagina against her will?

This longing for a world where women were less than equal partners, where constant childbirth brought early death, where domestic violence was considered a “family matter,” puzzles me. Why would anyone want to go back to a social, political, and economic era that was thinly disguised patriarchy? Do we have to fight that battle all over again?

If it’s because the male ego can’t handle women as equals, get over it. This is life now–women get to choose whether to work or stay at home; whether to have a child or use birth control; whether to serve their country or not; whether to have a rapist’s baby or not. Get over yourselves and your obsession about controlling women’s bodies.

We won’t go back to that. We won’t be like Callista Gingrich who knows the only reason she’s at Newt’s side is to stand there and look pretty as she smiles at him and nods. That’s her choice; it won’t be the choice of women capable of standing on their own two feet.

Sorry, Repug guys, we’re not taking off our shoes, bunking in the kitchen, cleaning the house in pearls, or staying pregnant our entire married lives. We will move forward. You can be the reactionaries.

Not Intended to be Factual Statements

Imagine what life would be like if, every time we say something stupid, we could just shrug and say, “I didn’t intend that to be a factual statement.” Then, everyone who heard the stupidity would just smile and say, “Sure, no problem. Of course you didn’t intend that to be a factual statement.”

That begs the question, what is a non-factual statement? Why, I think everyone from my grandmother to my old English teacher to a priest or two I had respect for would say, “It’s a lie.”

Those of us on the left–excuse me, we liberals–have been the only ones up in arms about Sen. John Kyl’s  (R.-AZ) pontificating on the floor of the Senate about how 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. Once Planned Parenthood pointed out to the media that the percentage was more like three, Kyl’s spokesperson indicated to the media that Kyl hadn’t intended that to be a “factual statement.”

Oh, I see. Even if you accept that politicians lie–and they do–that admission by Kyl’s spokesperson, the glibness of it, is disgusting. Set aside the disrespect against an organization which has done more for women’s health than the nail on John Kyl’s pinky. I knew and know women–myself included before I joined up with Uncle Sam and got health insurance–who went to Planned Parenthood for medical examinations and tests exclusive to women. I know women who went to Planned Parenthood to be diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted diseases because if they went to their hometown doctors it would be too embarrassing. And yes, I know a few women who went to Planned Parenthood to get a referral for an abortion because that was the only way they could afford it.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t push abortion, but if a woman asks for one, Planned Parenthood makes no judgements but does make certain she gets a safe procedure. And everything else you go to Planned Parenthood for–routine medical screenings and cancer tests–you get treated like a human being, a person, not just a group health plan number.

Kyl was pontificating to make a political point and to advance his and the Republicans’ social agenda. (Mr. Boehner, where are those jobs y’all ran on and promised?) But, apparently, he also has sway with the Congressional Record. When the edition came out reflecting the Senate proceedings on the day Mr. Kyl made his unintended factual statement, the transcript didn’t reflect the 90% figure. The entire statement was edited to make it almost innocuous. Well, thank goodness for C-SPAN. We can still view the video, unless Kyl somehow manages a judicious edit of that, too.

So, what’s my long-winded point?

Politicians lie, but lately Republican politicians and potential Republican Presidential candidates have dropped some whoppers on us. We shouldn’t shrug this off as more of the same. We should be worried.

I could say, “I didn’t intend any of the above to be a factual statement,” but that would be a lie.

P.S. Something I thought I’d never say–way to go, Gov. Jan Brewer. She of the draconian and unconstitutional immigration bill showed amazing good sense in vetoing Arizona’s birther legislation. Will wonders never cease?
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And this post’s homage to National Poetry Month acknowledges the other half of my heritage. Last post I printed a Seamus Heaney poem (and managed, with my bad typing to misspell his last name). Here then, enjoy Robert Burns’ “Lament for Culloden.”

The lovely lass o’ Inverness,
    Nae joy nor pleasure can she see;
For e’en and morn, she cries, “Alas!”
    And aye the saut tear blin’s her e’e:
“Drumossie moor, Drumossie day,
    A waefu’ day it was to me!
For there I lost my father dear,
    My father dear and brethren three.


“Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay,
    Their graves are growing green to see;
And by them lies the dearest lad
    That ever blest a woman’s e’e!
Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord,
    A bluidy man I trow thou be;
For monie a heart thou hast made sair,
    That ne’er did wrang to thine or thee.”