Controlling Girls

It’s not just that it’s obviously a lie that having sex with eight people makes you like a cup everyone in a classroom has spit in that angers me. It’s that, at this point, not a single sex-educator in this land can pretend like he or she doesn’t know how terrible this rhetoric is for victims of sexual abuse, because Elizabeth Smart has said so. So, as of right now, even if they weren’t smart enough to get that before, they now know. Which means that, when they spout this shit, it’s literally more important to scare kids out of having sex than it is to have compassion for abuse victims.

Never mind how gross I find it that a woman who is in charge of a place that convinces girls to give up their babies for adoption gets a platform in public schools to convince girls to give their babies up for adoption and no one seems bothered by her vested interest. Of course these women are opposed to abortion and birth control. They need desperate pregnant girls to supply babies for them.

It’s in their best interest for teenage girls to have no knowledge about how to keep from getting pregnant and no option but to carry the pregnancy to term if they become pregnant, because they want those babies.

And they still get framed as the good guys.

Oh, Please, Scott DesJarlais! Tell Me Again How Pro-Life You Are!

A doctor has an affair with a patient. She gets pregnant. He pressures her into having an abortion. He tape records himself pressuring her to have an abortion so that he can prove to his wife that their affair is really over. He then goes on to become a darling of the Tea-Party congressman.

It’s hilarious.

But the very fact that it went down this way tells you why it won’t matter. DesJarlais and the voters who vote for him think any abortion they might need is fine, fine, fine and if they have to go to Atlanta to get it or save up for someone to go to Chicago or whatever, well, mistakes happen and anyone in his situation can understand. It’s only abortions that the rest of us might need that need to be illegal, because we want them for bullshit reasons that mean we’re trying to get out of our responsibilities.

If DesJarlais had been caught advising some random woman to have an abortion–a woman we can’t be sure actually deserves it–that might play against him. But since he was pressuring a woman he no longer had use for? Well, what else would you have him do?

It won’t matter.

It’s hilarious, but it won’t matter.

Score One for Gen X

You know, nothing pleases me more than that the two biggest factions of the pro-choice movement have forgotten than there is a small, but still here!, generation of women between them. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it is not. Because the truth is, if I had to read this patronizing bullshit about how everything was peachy-keen until two years ago and think it was written with any knowledge of what my generation have been through and fought for, I’d be pissed. Livid pissed.

And if I had to read this ahistorical nonsense

In addition, people need access not just to abortion and family planning services, but also to support when they choose to become parents. This means help for young mothers with continuing their education and access for all parents to paid family leave, paid sick days, affordable child care, and high quality education for their children. It means treatment for infertility for everyone, not just families with means. These issues are as important to us as abortion access, yet we don’t see our values reflected in the work done in the past or present by the Boomer generation.

–and think it was saying anything to or about the realities of my generation, again, I’d be pissed.

But since my generation continues to be so unimportant as to not even merit mention, as to be completely left out of any discussions about reproductive needs or who should be in leadership positions, I can let it roll right off my back.

Religion as Team Fandom

Coble and I were talking a little bit on twitter about this last night and I still don’t have my ideas fully formed. But I do think that there’s a large segment of our population for whom being a Christian is like being the fan of a sports team. You just wear the right things and know the in catch-phrases and spend part of your Sunday really paying attention to it and just like “We are Marshall!” you are a Christian.

I’ve been thinking about that since I read this story of a woman who refused to give her raped daughter Plan B. You know, I actually have great sympathy for the person caught at the intersection of “here’s what I think would be the right thing to do” and “here’s what my religion says is the right thing to do.” But I think what’s catching me up is that this woman doesn’t seem to actually be at that intersection. It’s not just that some of the details are strange–what women’s shelter does sexual assault exams? It’s not just that this seems like an incredibly difficult thing for her daughter to go through, regardless of the outcome, and putting your name to her story–in other words, identifying her–without her consent is really problematic. It’s not just the judgmental tone that the woman takes about her daughter’s birth mother (a story that I, sorry after knowing what my cousin went through with the dishonesty of her Christian adoption service, would not put full faith in, if I were that mother.

It’s that, if you really felt caught at the intersection between “here’s what I think would be the right thing to do” and “here’s what my faith tells me is the right thing to do,” you would be grieving your difficult choice. You’d be questioning whether you made the right decision.

I believe, truly, that God calls on people to do difficult and counter-intuitive things.

But I know that, when called to do that, it can be very isolating and lonely.

Faith isn’t always a firm bridge over a calm stream, you know? Mostly it’s a tightrope walk over a raging gully.

If you can brag on the internet about how easy it was for you to make it from one side of your problem to the other, I have to think that’s more about reaffirming your Jesus-fandom with other Jesus fans than it is about your faith.

Here’s the Question I’d Have if I were Just a Normal ‘Pro-life’ Person

It’s obvious from comments that the Governor has made and David Fowler has made that they always intended to defund Planned Parenthood across the state. This has been in the works for a long time and been their dream for even longer.

So, here’s my question. It’s a question that would give me great pause if I were just a normal ‘pro-life’ person and it gives me minor pause as a pro-choice person. Why didn’t these guys have a big fundraiser for CCHS this spring? Then, heck, another one planned for right now? They know how much money it takes to provide free healthcare to poor people in Memphis because they know how much the Title X grant is–$400,000.

So, why didn’t they just raise that much money for CCHS in the spring? Let them start offering full-service healthcare that fits their philosophy? Give them a chance to gear up on their own terms for going after that Title X money? That way, there wouldn’t be this gap between when Planned Parenthood’s money ran out and CCHS was ready to see patients.

I mean, sure, $400,000 is a lot of money, but you get a lot of regular pro-life people giving $10, churches maybe taking up a special offering, and, oh, I don’t know, some rich businessman governor to cover the rest and it’s pretty easily taken care of. Shoot, maybe you’d only have to raise $200,000, since you’d just be covering the time from the spring fundraiser until CCHS took over the Title X program.

You think that between the Republican party apparatus and David Fowler’s network, they can’t raise $200,000?

So, why didn’t they?

Why not fund a pro-life free health clinic and let the people of Memphis decide which one they wanted to use while the Title X stuff was getting hashed out?

I have my theories why. But I’m curious as to whether this tickles uncomfortably at the back of any ‘pro-life’ person’s head? Are you, as a person who thinks abortion is wrong, starting to worry that, for folks like Fowler and Haslam, this is more about punishing political enemies than helping women have healthy children?

I mean, there’s David Fowler, crowing about what a great victory this is, apparently completely unbothered by people not having access to needed healthcare right now.

Just makes you wonder what their agenda is, exactly.

Early November is in Two Weeks

If you care at all about women’s health, I invite you to go read all of Left Wing Cracker’s post today. I would just like to point out one thing.

If you follow the local news, you are probably aware that Christ Community  competed for a family planning grant to provide services to low income uninsured people; these funds were previously awarded to Planned Parenthood.  Our application scored highest, we have been offered the program and we are now gearing up to begin the program in early November.  Please pray that we will have the endurance and integrity to withstand the onslaught of those who are intent on our failure.  Daily, we are confronted with refuting the half-truths and misstatements coming primarily for the leadership of Planned Parenthood.  Daily, we have needy people intentionally sent to us by Planned Parenthood  even though they are fully aware that we are not yet able to deliver the services. Their intent is to embarrass us and report to the local media that Christ Community is unable to deliver the care.

Please, linger on the bolded parts. Early November is a week away. By the time you get to November 10th, you’re in mid-November. Is Christ Community going to be ready in a week?  I mean, you can say what you want, Christ Community, but as of right now, you are indeed unable to deliver the care you told Memphis you could deliver. If you weren’t ready for patients, why did you ask for them?

Nobody wants women to go to Planned Parenthood, but when Planned Parenthood sends patients to Christ Community, Christ Community is the victim of big bad Planned Parenthood? So, Planned Parenthood is evil? But they should go on being evil in a way that benefits Christ Community until Christ Community has its ducks in a row?

I’m sorry, but that looks to me like the exact same mindset that lets “pro-life” women have abortions at Planned Parenthood, because their abortion is okay. Planned Parenthood is just supposed to take all their abuse, but continue to provide them all the services they need, because they’re “good.”

That’s not integrity. That’s hypocrisy.

I Stopped Ron Ramsey from Kicking a Baby!

Wait, what? Ron Ramsey never even intended to kick a baby? Well, that’s weird. Why would someone take credit for stopping someone from doing something they weren’t going to do?

Oh, oh, but wait!!!! I rounded up all of the  rabid purple yellow mouth curs Ron Ramsey had deposited in 93 counties… oh, there’s no such thing as a purple yellow mouth cur? Very strange. Why would a person take credit for running something out of someplace it’s never been?

Don’t get me wrong. This is a strange and scary time for us. But Republicans have only been in complete charge for six months and they’re already having to make up things they’ve accomplished?

That’s really strange.

An Open Letter to Stacey Campfield

Dear Stacey Campfield,

You know I think you’re a giant douchebag of historic proportion. You know I think you never met a “fuck you, bitches” bill you wouldn’t champion because I think you hate women. And you know I think your a massive creep.

But this is painful to watch, even for me, who thinks the outcome we ended up with is lovely.

So, let me hop the fence just a second and make sure you’re clear on something.

When Ramsey and Harwell say, “The confusion surrounding the language in the budget regarding Planned Parenthood has been unfortunate. The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy,” they are admitting they knew that second amendment was going in the budget. Do you get this? Because that subtext could barely be called subtext.

So, if they knew that language was going in the budget and have a reason why it had to go in the budget and undo what you’ve done, they KNOW WHO DID IT. In fact, I would interpret those sentences as meaning they worked with that person to make it happen.

Posting a list of all of the people who told you it wasn’t them? All it does is make a nice list of all of the people who might have lied to you. You can’t honestly believe it means anything other than that.

As for what anti-choice folks they might be working with, IT DOESN’T MATTER. If it’s not the guys who are working with you, that’s because the guys who are working with you can’t swing an election. Their endorsement didn’t get Cobb elected in District 62, so everyone now knows the bag has a cat, not a pig, even without the poke being opened. They don’t need to work with the Tennessee Right to Life until the Tennessee Right to Life’s giving or withholding of an endorsement hurts Republicans. And they’re probably relieved about that, because those guys are total jerks.

The Tennessee Right to Life needs you, not because you’re some great champion of the unborn, but because you’re the fool with the biggest platform who will still pretend (or believe) that they decide elections.

Bless your heart. If I liked you, I’d advise you to get a little more cynical about shit and then maybe you won’t be blindsided by this stuff.


Edited to add: While we’re speaking frankly, let me add that most Republicans don’t actually want to end abortion, some of them because it’s a perennial drum to beat on at election time, and some of them because if their wives or daughters were raped or if their mistresses got pregnant, they’d be sitting at Planned Parenthood next to them quicker than you can say ‘Jack Robinson.’ They are fine with it being inconvenient and expensive and dangerous for the rest of us, but believe me, they will always want abortions for their women, and they won’t let you stop that.

Two Things

Ugh, I’m in the middle of some madness, but here are two things to consider.

1. Rachel’s post on SJR 127, which is back up for a vote today and which, of course, is going to pass. This is one of the reasons I don’t give a shit about term limits. David Fowler isn’t in office any more and yet, he still gets as much say about what goes on in my vagina as I do. That’s not right. And I’m sad that evil, huckster fraud has not yet been brought down by some kind of hilarious scandal. But instead, he’ll get to continue to strip away the rights of Tennessee women in order to make himself feel like a man until… I don’t know… until the Legislature decides he’s an evil bully they don’t have to listen to. Which I don’t see happening any time soon.

2. I’m not the biggest Wallace fan, as you know if you read me, and I find suicide upsetting to a degree that it make me a mess to even try to talk about it. I say that all as a caveat to say that I cannot understand just what the fuck Franzen is up to. Is he just grieving badly or is it some kind of jealousy thing where he’s trying to position himself as the “real” quintessential writer of the late 20th century instead of Wallace or is he just a giant douche or what?

Members of Our Congressional Delegation Declines to Tell the Media what “Forcible Rape” Is

Tracy Moore called Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais, Phil Roe, and John Duncan to find out just when it is they think a woman has been raped enough for it to count as forcible. Like, if he restrains me, but doesn’t punch me, am I not raped enough? If he drugs me but waits until he’s done to kick me, is that not enough? How come, if a dad rapes his daughter on the eve of her 18th birthday, that’s enough, but on the night of her 18th birthday, it’s not? If a dad rapes his 13 year old daughter, that’s enough, but if some random 40 year old does, that’s not?

How is this a clear standard?

And, like I asked yesterday, what kinds of sick fucks want to sit around and contemplate rape scenarios to decide which are bad enough?

Even if you’re anti-abortion, that should leave a very bad taste in your mouth.

Prove How Bad It Was

So, by now, you’ve heard of the national efforts to allow funding of abortions only in cases of forcible rape, though “forcible rape” has no legal definition. I want to stress what McEwan says in her post–“The proposed law effectively, if not by design, gives veto control over terminating pregnancies resulting from rape to the rapist.” If you are poor or otherwise without resources to pay for an abortion, this law guarantees that your rapist, by deciding how you’ll be raped, gets to control whether you can have an abortion.

And this is the “moral” side.

Of course, in Tennessee, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, and Roe have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. I’m sure they’ll be asked by reporters just where they personally draw the line between rape victims not deserving of our sympathy and those who are.  But I want to get beyond that just for a second. You know I’ve been waiting for the ultrasound for abortion bill to be entered. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have little doubt that one’s coming–where women who want abortions will be forced to undergo an ultrasound and have to watch it.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about this because it involves such a level of sadism–that you would force a doctor to sexually assault a woman and force her to watch–that you can see people almost physically deny that that’s what it is, that it’s not that bad, that doctors have to do an ultrasound anyway, that they’re just trying to get a woman all the information she needs, etc. I don’t blame folks. Having to stare the truth, when it’s so ugly, right in the face is hard.

But this, deciding there’s a level at which a woman has been raped enough to entitle her to help with paying for an abortion, is a similar kind of sexualized sadism, in that it requires women to perform our degradation, to testify to our own violation in detail to whomever might require it, in order to receive medical care.

You know how we talked about how recent studies have shown that there really isn’t such a thing as the “accidental” rapist, the guy who thinks a girl is consenting when she isn’t? But how very deliberate rapists use the smoke-screen of the “accidental rapist” to serially rape women? By making all men, men who wouldn’t actually ever rape anyone, afraid of being accused of “rape by misunderstanding,” they have been able to create situations where well-meaning men provide them cover because well-meaning men don’t see that they are also being played?

I think we’ve reached a point where we may need to come to this realization about the abortion debate as well. Most people are having an intense discussion about which they feel strongly. And a small, but apparently influential, group have figured out that they can use people’s anxiety about the abortion issue to get laws passed that appeal to their sadism and allow them to get off by degrading women.

Bill Haslam and the Bogeyman

Folks, once a politician in Tennessee starts talking about abortion, you might as well just read that as “I don’t actually have any ideas for fixing the state and so I need to bring out the bogeyman to scare you!”

Tennessee, it is time for you to realize, they have made it as difficult as legally possible to get an abortion in this state (while still preserving the ability for their daughters and wives and mistresses to get them, should need be) and it has been for at least the past three or four years. This is it. This is what “you won!” looks like.

But now they’ve got a problem. They have been riding that “we will have a victory over abortion!” train so hard and so long to such success that they don’t want off it. They still want to be able to pull out the bogeyman and have him work on you. So, now the problem isn’t just abortion. Now the bogeyman is Planned Parenthood. And when they find a way to defund Planned Parenthood?

Mark my word, they will find another bogeyman.

Because they have no ideas and it’s easier to come up with bogeymen than it is to come up with solutions for our state.

But, in lighter news, the Haslam administration is going to be hilarious, because he’s so easily made pissy. Maybe we should start taking bets on how often he will threaten to take something away from Tennessee if he’s going to be criticized about his handling of it.

Ghosts and Gardens

Whew, I finished what I think might be my favorite ghost story, about the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention building downtown. This year I’ve been more aware of how weird it is to root fiction so firmly in non-fictional places.  There are some places, like New York, where, by now, the city is just kind of instinctively a place and a fictional place. It’s a place you can visit and a place you hear stories about and a place that serves as a backdrop to fictional stories, some of which let a lot of the real leak into them.

And, certainly, parts of Nashville are already fictional places–the Ryman, the Grand Ole Opry, the Hall of Fame, WSM, WLAC. They are real things and they are also a part of our national dreamscape.

And last year I didn’t really fret about pulling a fictional blanket over some factual places. I kind of liked wondering if any of the stories would become true. This year, though, I do fret a little about it. Not enough to stop me, but just enough to give me something to wonder about as I reread.

I can’t remember how I was going to tie this into gardens, but I like the two “G” sounds there in the title of the post, so I’ll leave it.

Here’s how the story opens, at least the first draft:

Cities scar and bruise like people do. A wound opens and tissue builds around it when an interstate slices through a neighborhood. Folks will worry the loss of a beloved church like they worry the tender spot where a tooth has gone missing.

And then, in some cities, there are spots where the routine evil done there can make a place feel gangrenous. You turn your head from it. You catch your breath in your throat. You deliberately stop knowing what went on there. It was something that happened a long time ago. Something that doesn’t matter any more.

And you make your way past it like that city block is the shadow at the far end of a dark hallway. You will yourself to not look. You will yourself to not see. You close your eyes and dash past, and feel like you have just avoided having to know something about how the world works that you can’t explain.

Such was the case for the old hotel at the corner of Cedar and North Cherry. Patrons would complain about the loud cries and moans and wails. Other patrons would complain about the spectral men who stood outside their doors, engaged in casual discussion about selling people using words polite people now kept quiet.

Legalized Rape with an Object in Oklahoma

Whenever the anti-abortion folks tell you that it’s about saving babies, ask them whether they spoke out against what’s going on in Oklahoma or if they think that forcing abortion providers to shove an implement unnecessary for the abortion inside a woman before she’s allowed to have an abortion is okay.

If they say that forcing doctors to rape their patients before their patients can get medical treatment is okay, then you know they are anti-abortion because they believe pregnancy is the proper punishment for women and that women who try to get out of their punishment need some other severe psycho-sexual punishment to make up for it.

In other words, they have some really fucked up sexual disfunctions and you should stay far away from them.

This is disgusting and disheartening and I have to believe we need to be vigilant against this kind of nonsense here in Tennessee.

On the other hand, I’m glad they’re so blatant. What person who’d ever loved a woman, even once, could hear about this and not recoil in horror?

Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Ooo, this is interesting. You know that the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers that list themselves under “abortion services” are really about talking you out of having an abortion and, often, into handing your baby over to people who belong to certain sects of evangelical Christianity. I know we’ve talked before about how these women are often kicked to the curb by these places if they decide to not give their children up for adoption or, in some cases, once they have given their babies over.

Well, now the Feminist Majority Foundation is petitioning Congress to pass legislation that would more closely regulate crisis pregnancy centers, to, in part, insure that the information they’re distributing to pregnant women is medically accurate and that they can’t get federal funding unless it is.

You know we have a problem with medically inaccurate information about birth control and abortion in this state, so get on over there and sign the petition, if you feel so inclined.

In Which I Tell You The True Meaning of HB 2681/SB 2686

Here’s the thing, regardless of your stance on abortion*, we were all losers last night. It’s not because of some high and mighty reason. I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on the repercussions of this bill.

The reason we all lost last night is this–the State Legislature took a good portion of its time–time we pay for with money we are very short on–to legislate about something that isn’t even settled yet. (In this case, we don’t know what the exchanges are going to look like and we don’t know how broadly the language of the bill might be interpreted and whether that breadth might put us in violation of Griswold. Which is fine. As they say, that’s for the courts to decide. Of course, we pay for the courts to decide this.)

If you can overlook the emotional stakes (and, believe me, your legislators are really, really hoping that you can’t), they are legislating in order to reform something that doesn’t yet exist.

When the chips were down–and the chips are down, folks–in a bipartisan effort, your state legislators turned from your real problems to passionately embrace voting on some made up problem.

This means something very, very sad and scary for the state of Tennessee:

They don’t know what the fuck to do to help us.

I repeat, they don’t know what the fuck to do to help us.

And so, they are going to do nothing.  Instead of trying to figure out what would bring jobs to Tennessee and what would make us an irresistible workforce, instead of passing the budget, they’ve turned their attention to theater–to making dramatic votes on made up crap in order to have stuff to put in their re-election materials.

Everyone who voted ‘yes’ on this has told you in as plain a language as our state legislature can give you that they have given up on trying to help us get back to work and have moved on to the important task of trying to help themselves get reelected.

That should put a chill in the bones of everyone in the state, regardless of your political persuasion.


*Here’s something fun to consider, when you’re feeling cynical. With the amount of money that anti-abortion groups in this state can move, can someone like, say, Fowler, really afford for abortion to be illegal? Or even anti-abortion politicians? If they can’t do stuff like this–“I must ride to Nashville to save the babies!!!!! Vote for me!”–what can they do? There are a lot of anti-abortion “leaders” who are in a high-stakes game of chicken with people who are truly anti-abortion, because one of those groups really, really needs for abortion to stay legal without the other group wising up to it.

And you should totally read Your Liberal Friends on this whole brouhaha.

AND I’m not going to begrudge any pitcher the joys of singing “Long Black Veil.” Which is neither here nor there. I thought I’d just drop in a treat for those of you who’ve made it this far.

Representative Matthew Hill Doesn’t Even Know What an IUD is, But He Still Thinks He Should be Able to Legislate What Goes on in Your Uterus

That’s the thing that always gets me about this stuff. These guys don’t even know how women’s bodies work; they don’t know anything about types of birth control, or what equipment is used when or for what, but, by god, they’re going to legislate about it. And they have no shame about it. They’re not even embarrassed when they don’t know something. I mean, somehow, in this whole exchange, it’s Richardson who’s out of order. And why?

I guess because she had the temerity to point out that Representative Hill had no idea what the fuck he was talking about?

I’ll be honest. I don’t know if Richardson has a point or not. Most forms of birth control she’s talking about prevent an egg from being fertilized and only have a very slight chance of maybe causing a fertilized egg not to implant. Pregnancy is, by definition, when a fertilized egg implants in a uterus (which, these folks tend to forget, is a woman’s body part).

I was about to correct Richardson, but then I realized, she’s a colleague of these hubristic idiots. They may indeed believe that, when the sperm meets the egg, a child is magically produced, regardless of whether that fertilized egg implants and a pregnancy occurs. They may, indeed, be convinced that all birth control is abortion. It’s not hard to imagine them trying to outlaw birth control next.

I mean, when you see them calling Richardson out of order for revealing that Hill has no idea what he’s talking about, you start to believe that this is about making sure the women stay properly under the control of men, whether or not those men know what they’re talking about.

Over at Your Liberal Friends, they have a list of Democratic jackasses. Sooner or later, someone’s going to have to do a little blogger outreach to Ty Cobb. We can’t have a young guy who doesn’t think this shit through, because we don’t want to be stuck with him being a bozo for the next 20 years, you know?

In Which I Agree with GoldnI

Here in Tennessee, we’re watching a strange time in politics. It’s weird, because you don’t normally see politicians so completely out of step with their constituents, but here, on the ground, what people are talking about is jobs. End of discussion. How do we put people back to work? You might get some side discussion about whether there’s more state government crap we can cut, but when you point out that cutting government crap means more out of work people, you circle right back around to jobs.

I think there’s some good momentum for trying to do something about infant mortality, obvious desire to do something about animal welfare, and some strong emotions about protecting us from the worst excesses of the coal companies.

But the momentum for those things is nothing compared to the grueling anxiety people in the state feel about the state of employment.

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to repeat it, in the past, whenever the State’s problems have been so large that it was hard to tell what to do about it and we didn’t have any good or easy answers, there’s always been some thing we could distract ourselves with–a good abortion fight, an income tax fight, a fight over gay people, a fight over illegal immigrants, etc. I don’t have to list them all. You recognize it.

We’d all get riled up and everyone would shout “Hurray for our side” (as the song goes) and things would either improve or not, but at least it would seem like something had happened.

And now we’re at a point where things are bad, really bad, worse than we have seen in most of our lifetimes. And even if the economy in general turns around today, it’s going to be a long time before things pick up for most of us, if, indeed, they ever do. I’m not trying to be depressing. That’s just the truth of the matter.

But that’s what I hear people agonizing about–what will I do for work? What if I lose my job? Where will we live? What will happen to my kids? And sometimes the terror is so deep they can’t even talk about it.

And what is our state legislature doing? The truth is, there’s not much they can do. But holy cow, if they’re not pulling out all the same old tricks, waving the red meat in front of the base, putting up legislation that hits all the right talking points for all the same old distractions.

Only to find that few of their constituents’ hearts are really in it.

You can almost sense the confusion.

But you still see them do it. “I tie x into the argument we’re having. Y’all have our usual fight about x and, if you come down where you always come down about x in the numbers you usually come down about x in, I win my tangentially related argument.” And this is a bipartisan tactic. Don’t be mistaken about that.

Which brings me to GoldnI’s point about what happened last night, on a federal level.

Folks are used to being able to tie abortion in to any health care debate and to count on the same old responses from the same old players. And, if you read me, you know that a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body is a deal-breaker for me. I don’t believe that there are some times and some conditions in which the government has the right to step in and decide for me what happens to my body. But, for me, that’s a basic human right–bodily autonomy.  It plays out in the health care realm, but it’s not a health care issue.

And, even if it was, abortion is not the only health care service women get and not the only health care concern we have.

Would I have liked to see a health care bill explicitly respectful of my right to govern my own body? Sure.

But do I get the reasons for taking the power out of the rhetoric of the anti-abortion folks? Yes.

And, frankly, I would expect that NOW and NARAL would, too. I don’t blame them for being disappointed and pissed off, but I want some nuance in that anger, you know? If the anti-choicers won some great victory yesterday, why were they shouting “baby killer” at Stupak? Clearly, the situation is a little more complicated than “We have been completely dicked over.”

I don’t know. At some point, you have to stop dancing the same old steps every time your opponents call the tune, you know? And I don’t say that as something I’ve moved beyond. Clearly, I haven’t. But I say that as something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to–how these entrenched political arguments become a way for us to feel like we’re doing something while providing cover for the fact that nothing is happening.

I think what happened yesterday was that cover was blown and something happened. Something huge.

That’s just something to think about.

Quick Hits

1. I’m still not sure, even having read this story three times, what Mark Bell is trying to insinuate with all these quotation marks. Was there not really an attack? Do people not really feel bad? Was it a fake beating? Did they turn the heat down at the Tennessean and poor Bell was trying to keep warm by adding extra key strokes wherever possible, just to keep his fingers from freezing? What?

2. This whole article is worth reading, though most of it is not anything that didn’t fly around the feminist blogosphere when the story first broke, but this?

Johnson’s account is so plausible and rich in detail that even Planned Parenthood seems not to have investigated whether this event ever took place. At my request, the staff at the Bryan clinic examined patient records from September 26, the day Johnson claims to have had her conversion experience, and spoke with the physician who performed abortions on that date. According to Planned Parenthood, there is no record of an ultrasound-guided abortion performed on September 26. The physician on duty told the organization that he did not use an ultrasound that day, nor did Johnson assist on any abortion procedure. “Planned Parenthood can assure you that no abortion patients underwent an ultrasound-guided abortion on September 26,” said a spokesperson. It’s difficult to imagine that Johnson simply got the date wrong; September 12 was the only other day that month that the clinic performed surgical abortions.

By the time you get that far in the article, you kind of know it’s coming, but it’s still like, wow, did she really think that no one would check? I’m convinced, though, that, yeah, pretty much people will say all kinds of stuff that is easily proven wrong because they really don’t think anyone will check.

Strange, Very Strange

I’ve been wondering about the “conversion” of the former Planned Parenthood director. Not just for the reasons Amanda Marcotte outlines, though I think she’s right about all the reasons this whole thing sounds so sketchy.

But when someone threatens repeatedly to kill you and then you “mysteriously” start working with them, it’s hard for a person to not wonder whether you’re working with them out of duress.

I wonder if anyone has checked with Abby Johnson to make sure she’s not a very public hostage.

Maybe I’m being too generous, but I’d still like to know that someone has checked to make sure that she’s okay.

How Can Susan Lynn Even Write This With a Straight Face?

Representative Lynn writes (in her efforts to promote the 10th Amendment):

The letter states: “The federal government seeks to control the salaries of those employed by private business, to change the provisions of private contracts, to nationalize banks, insurers and auto manufacturers, and to dictate to every person in the land what his or her medical choices will be.” [emphasis mine]

Really, Lynn. Really?

Are you opposed to government dictating medical choices for women because it’s wrong or because you State legislators don’t want the competition?

Send Help!

Man, I wish I hadn’t been so “Oh, national liberals, what do they know?” because if ever there were a time when we we needed help, this may be it.

Folks, check this.


You may need to make this bigger, but this is such a hilarious epic fail it’s hard to know where to start.  Let’s maybe just begin by saying that Marsh IS THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE.

The “Democrat”? He’s anti-abortion, anti-cloning, and… um… weirdly… anti-cute baby.

What does The Other Ty Cobb have against cute babies?! How is this a campaign strategy?

No one is against more cute babies.

What next? “Ty Cobb hates puppies.”?

“Vote for Ty Cobb. He bites the heads off of trusting bunnies.”?

“Ty Cobb hates t-ball.”?

“Ty Cobb thinks your mom is kind of a bitch and that your dad can do better.”?

People who are afraid of or squicked out by cloning are thinking of a semi-brainless body grown for organ harvesting, not cute babies.

No one is opposed to triplets.

And don’t even get me started on the Tennessee Right to Life. Their whole shtick is “We love babies.” But now we find out it’s “We love babies, except for two of these three punks and we will fight like hell to ensure they don’t get to exist.”

It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so scary.

Edited to add: Just to be clear, I agree with Woods.

The Other Ty Cobb

So, it’s confusing because we have a Democratic Ty Cobb in the State House and now another Ty Cobb is running in a different district and so when someone says something like, “Oh my god, did you see Ty Cobb’s website?!” you have to discern which Ty Cobb it is.

If I had my way, I would call the Ty Cobb we have now a conservative Democrat and the Ty Cobb we are surely about to have a Republican. But you know, you start saying snarky stuff like that and someone is going to start lecturing you about how every district in Tennessee is so very different than every other district and we have to shape our message to reach those voters in each district who are, did I mention, so very different and we city folks simply cannot understand, so please leave it to the folks who know these things to figure out. Seriously, by the time they get done with the lecture, you will be lolling in your chair like a petulant teenager, staring at the ceiling obsessing over what would happen if a piece of plaster fell in your eye right then.  In fact, you may secretly be praying for that plaster to fall in your eye, so that you have a legitimate excuse to run out of the room screaming.

But let’s be honest, the line between conservative Democrat and actual motherfucking Republican in Democrat’s clothing probably falls between the two Ty Cobbs.

So, let us turn our attention to the other Ty Cobb.

Ty Cobb, a conservative Democrat, was born and raised in Bedford County where he attended Shelbyville Central High School. Cobb then attended Martin Methodist College where he was a pitcher on their baseball team.

A commonsense conservative, Ty Cobb is a hunter, fisherman, trail rider, sportsman, and a carry permit holder. He is pro-life and a card carrying member of the NRA.

Well, well, well.


You know what? If this Cobb gets in, I think we hold him to it.  It’s time to hold these conservative “pro-life” Democrats to a standard of actually improving the life-spans of people in Tennessee. Now, lots of people in Tennessee die needlessly. One only has to take a look at the latest women’s health report card to see that, if you’re a woman in Tennessee, you and your children are in grave danger and may not get out of this state alive (or at the end of a long life).

But babies are cute.  And who wants to see cute babies die?  And yet, our infant mortality rate is abysmal.

It’s time to start holding these “pro-life” folks to their pro-life standards. We need to ask them, at every turn, what they’re going to do to lower infant mortality rates in this state.  And if they aren’t going to do anything, we need to start letting their constituents know that they’re baby killers.