Monday afternoon seems like just about as good a time as any for a bit of political humour, don’t you think? I’ve been collecting political cartoons for the past week or so and it’s time to clean out the file and share some of them! Mind you that you have to consider the broader definition of the word “humour” here, for it’s a darker humour than, say, a Pickles cartoon or Charlie Brown & Snoopy, but the political cartoonists have an innate understanding of what is happening in our world, and the talent to reduce a situation into a single image.
Tag Archives: women's rights
🌈Then They Came For Me
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
No matter how many times I read this poem, written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, I never fail to be moved by the words. Niemöller penned this in 1946, at the end of WWII, the end of the Holocaust that took more than 6 million lives. It is engraved on a plaque at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts, and is known worldwide. The poem speaks volumes and should serve as a warning to people all around the world today.
I have shared this poem before, used it in different contexts, for it seems that “they” are always coming for someone. But today, the fourth day in Pride Month, I am especially moved to share it for it seems many people, groups, politicians, and religious leaders are coming for the LGBTQ community. Our friends, our neighbors, our family … are being vilified, even threatened with their very lives if they dare to be publicly proud of who they are.
In addition to coming for the LGBTQ community, “they” are coming for women, for people of colour, for Jewish people. Apparently in “their” eyes, the only people who have a right to be proud are white, Christian, straight males. The rest of us are the dirt beneath their feet. If we hide in our closets, wear camouflage in hopes of not being noticed, if we do not speak out against the atrocities being committed against the LGBTQ community and others, then perhaps we will be overlooked and allowed to exist. For now. Until someday …
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Four Freedoms??? Hmmmmm … 🤔
On January 6th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union Address. This speech would come to be known as the Four Freedoms Speech, for he talked at some length about the four freedoms he believed that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of worship
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
Today, the Republican Party has its own set of ‘four freedoms’ that are not nearly so noble as were those of President Roosevelt. New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie explains …
The Four Freedoms, According to Republicans
19 May 2023
On Tuesday, Republicans in North Carolina overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to pass a strict limit on bodily autonomy in the form of a 12-week abortion ban.
In addition to this new limit on abortion, the law extends the waiting period for people seeking abortions to 72 hours and puts onerous new rules on clinics. As intended, the net effect is to limit access to abortion and other reproductive health services to everyone but those with the time and resources to seek care outside the state.
North Carolina Republicans are obviously not the only ones fighting to ban, limit or restrict the right to bodily autonomy, whether abortion or gender-affirming health care for transgender people. All across the country, Republicans have passed laws to do exactly that wherever they have the power to do so, regardless of public opinion in their states or anywhere else. The war on bodily autonomy is a critical project for nearly the entire G.O.P., pursued with dedication by Republicans from the lowliest state legislator to the party’s powerful functionaries on the Supreme Court.
You might even say that in the absence of a national leader with a coherent ideology and agenda, the actions of Republican-led states and legislatures provide the best guide to what the Republican Party wants to do and the best insight into the society it hopes to build.
I have already made note of the attack on bodily autonomy, part of a larger effort to restore traditional hierarchies of gender and sexuality. What else is on the Republican Party’s agenda, if we use those states as our guide to the party’s priorities?
There is the push to free business from the suffocating grasp of child labor laws. Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio have advanced legislation to make it easier for children as young as 14 to work more hours, work without a permit and be subjected to more dangerous working conditions. The reason to loosen child labor laws — as a group of Wisconsin Republicans explained in a memo in support of a bill that would allow minors to serve alcohol at restaurants — is to deal with a shortage of low-wage workers in those states.
There are other ways to solve this problem — you could raise wages, for one — but in addition to making life easier for the midsize-capitalist class that is the material backbone of Republican politics, freeing businesses to hire underage workers for otherwise adult jobs would undermine organized labor and public education, two bêtes noires of the conservative movement.
Elsewhere in the country, Republican-led legislatures are placing harsh limits on what teachers and other educators can say in the classroom about American history or the existence of L.G.B.T.Q. people. This week in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans discussion in general education courses at public institutions of “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities.” He also signed a bill that prohibits state colleges and universities from spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs beyond what is necessary to retain accreditation as educational institutions.
Nationwide, Republicans in at least 18 states have passed laws or imposed bans designed to keep discussion of racial discrimination, structural inequality and other divisive concepts out of classrooms and far away from students.
Last but certainly not least is the Republican effort to make civil society a shooting gallery. Since 2003, Republicans in 25 states have introduced and passed so-called constitutional carry laws, which allow residents to have concealed weapons in public without a permit. In most of those states, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, it is also legal to openly carry a firearm in public without a permit.
Republicans have also moved aggressively to expand the scope of “stand your ground” laws, which erode the longstanding duty to retreat in favor of a right to use deadly force in the face of perceived danger. These laws, which have been cited to defend shooters in countless cases, such as George Zimmerman in 2013, are associated with a moderate increase in firearm homicide rates, according to a 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open. Republicans, however, say they are necessary.
“If someone tries to kill you, you should have the right to return fire and preserve your life,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, who introduced a national “stand your ground” bill this month. “It’s time to reaffirm in law what exists in our Constitution and in the hearts of our fellow Americans,” he added. “We must abolish the legal duty of retreat everywhere.”
It should be said as well that some Republicans want to protect gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee did just that this month — after a shooting in Nashville killed six people, including three children, in March — signing a bill that gives additional protections to the gun industry.
What should we make of all this? In his 1941 State of the Union address, Franklin Roosevelt said there was “nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy” and that he, along with the nation, looked forward to “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” Famously, those freedoms were the “freedom of speech and expression,” the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way,” the “freedom from want” and the “freedom from fear.” Those freedoms were the guiding lights of his New Deal, and they remained the guiding lights of his administration through the trials of World War II.
There are, I think, four freedoms we can glean from the Republican program.
There is the freedom to control — to restrict the bodily autonomy of women and repress the existence of anyone who does not conform to traditional gender roles.
There is the freedom to exploit — to allow the owners of business and capital to weaken labor and take advantage of workers as they see fit.
There is the freedom to censor — to suppress ideas that challenge and threaten the ideologies of the ruling class.
And there is the freedom to menace — to carry weapons wherever you please, to brandish them in public, to turn the right of self-defense into a right to threaten other people.
Roosevelt’s four freedoms were the building blocks of a humane society — a social democratic aspiration for egalitarians then and now. These Republican freedoms are also building blocks not of a humane society but of a rigid and hierarchical one, in which you can either dominate or be dominated.
Filosofa’s Meandering Mind …
What Is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?
Yesterday, I played Aretha Franklin’s wonderful song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. And then, I did my usual perusal of the day’s news and a question began to form in my mind: What, precisely, is respect? My first answer was that it is something we have far too little of in this world today.
A quick look at the online dictionary gives two definitions for the word “respect”:
- a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
- due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.
Both are apt, I think, and certainly there are people who deserve our respect as per the first definition, though we might not agree on who those people are. But the context in which I typically speak of respect is more aligned with the second definition … which can be simplified by my motto: Live and Let Live!!!
So, let’s talk about this just a bit. I’ve written about this before and will no doubt have occasion to write about it again, but I keep trying to understand, and keep hoping to make a difference somehow, even if only to open one mind.
I am a woman and I believe in women’s rights. I believe in women having the same rights as men to vote, to be treated and compensated fairly in the workplace. I believe women have just as much right as a man to own property, to divorce her spouse if a marriage isn’t working, and to make her own decisions about her own body. I believe that a woman has a right to have access to birth control and to have an abortion if she deems that is what’s right for her, just as a man has a right to have a vasectomy if he decides he does not wish to sire children. This does not, however, mean that I don’t respect women who choose not to have an abortion. It is every woman’s own personal decision … it is NOT the decision of legislators, governors, and Supreme Court justices – or at least it should not be. Just because I believe in the right to an abortion does not in any way mean that I would impose my will on your body. It should, however, work the other way too.
Respect is a two-way street. IF you expect me to respect your rights, then you must also respect mine … that’s just the way it works.
I am also an atheist, but I am very careful to show respect for other people’s religious beliefs as long as they do not harm anyone. The law of this land, the U.S. Constitution, provides for freedom of religion … that means you can follow Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or be an atheist … you cannot be discriminated against for it! But, the law of the land also calls for a “wall of separation between church and state” so that no one religion can become the national religion to the exclusion of all others. I don’t tell you where to go to church or what to believe, and I respect your right to believe as you wish, but again … it must work the other way, too. You must, in turn, respect my right to not believe in the religious rites and rituals of any religion.
I keep asking why people are so determined to attempt to force everyone into their own mold, and I think perhaps the answer boils down to fear of the unknown or the misunderstood. Perhaps people spend so much time living in their narrow enclaves that they do not understand the world and therefore fear it. Fear is a powerful motivator, and unfortunately people in power, whether political heads or religious heads, know how to use fear to drive hatred. And We the People, like a herd of cattle, allow ourselves to be driven.
In this country, it is fear of Black people, fear of Muslims, fear of LGBTQ people, that are keeping the country so divided that it is truly a tinderbox just waiting for someone to throw a lit match. You mind if I let you in on a little secret? I have Black friends, Muslim friends, gay friends and trans friends, Christian friends, atheist friends, agnostic friends, and Jewish friends, and I love them all … I do not fear any of them. I respect them, their beliefs, and it is in part our differences that keep our friendships interesting! We learn from one another! Wouldn’t the world be a lackluster, boring place if we were all exactly the same?
We need to learn to embrace our differences, to respect others’ rights as we expect them to respect ours, and we need to learn to LIVE AND LET LIVE!!! If we don’t, we will soon destroy ourselves, destroy the nation from within, and turn it into some dystopian society in which nobody would want to live.
Beavis and Butthead-like
Roger and I have often talked of our mutual blogging buddy, Keith, as being our ‘gold standard’. While Christians have that saying, “What Would Jesus Do?”, or WWJD, Roger and I have one that is WWKS, or “What Would Keith Say?” But despite the fact that he is calmer, more soft-spoken and mild-mannered than people like myself and Roger, he does a fine job of getting the point across, as you will see in his most recent post!
People who follow this blog know I am not a fan of labels or name calling, as I view them as lazy arguments. The user wants you to accept their labeling without debate or further study. It is akin to weaponization of a term that can do the dirty work for the user.
I would prefer to define the actions rather than actor. So the focus should be on the lying not the liar, although it is very hard to separate them sometime. There are occasions where actions are so over-the-top that it is interesting to contrast them to characters who do the same over-the-top actions to illustrate the inappropriateness.
Earlier this month, the former president was found liable to the tune of $5 million for the sexual assault and defamation of E. Jean Carroll. While he is appealing the decision, his own deposition did not help his cause nor…
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And In The Case Of E. Jean Carroll vs Trump …
I’ve been silent thus far on the trial taking place in New York to decide the lawsuit brought against Donald Trump by Ms. E. Jean Carroll on the charge that he raped her some years ago. My silence is not for lack of an opinion, but merely because I preferred to wait until the jury renders an opinion before weighing in. Personally, I believe Ms. Carroll. One doesn’t put something this personal in public view if it isn’t true. And with more than 20 women who have accused him of either rape or sexual harassment, I think there can be no doubt that he has zero respect for any woman and her bodily autonomy. Where there’s so much smoke, there’s bound to be a fire somewhere.
Trump first said he would not attend the trial, would offer no defense other than the video deposition he had already provided, but there are rumblings that he may now have changed his mind, and the judge has given him until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday to decide. More than generous, if you ask me. Trump has also been cautioned by the judge more than once for snide/crude remarks he posted on social media since the start of the trial.
But the one thing I read today that actually made me chuckle was the response to something Trump said in his video deposition about Ms. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan …
Ahhhhh … poetic justice! I’m guessing it won’t take the jury long, if they have any sense of fair play, to return a verdict next week. Hopefully it will be the right one.
I don’t know about you guys, but I am sickened and disgusted by the recent surge in intolerance and downright hatred against the LGBTQ community. We are all humans, for Pete’s Sake! What does it matter who another person chooses to love or how they choose to live? I was surprised and pleased to see Dan Rather address this topic, so I will turn the floor over to him and Elliott Kirschner now …
Attacks on the transgender community
Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
15 April 2023
We are facing many threats and challenges to our nation’s prosperity and security. These include a belligerent China, the war in Ukraine, economic disruption, our global climate crisis, and even the specter of artificial intelligence, just to name a few.
These are the issues government should be debating and legislating.
And yet Republican statehouses and Fox News would have you believe our greatest threat is drag queen reading hour.
It’s meant to be a divisive distraction.
It’s lunacy, but it is also a dangerous injustice. And a tragedy.
You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats its most vulnerable, marginalized, and ostracized.
History is replete with the horrors inflicted by those who wielded the power of position and privilege against those who had little to none of either. Persecution has taken many forms — legal, cultural, economic, and social. It has led to unimaginable suffering, violence, and death — even reaching the scale of genocide.
About this, there are many lessons from the past to be heeded. Divisive hatred should be called out and rebuffed. And it is especially incumbent on those outside the group being persecuted to stand in meaningful solidarity. An attack against one segment of society is an attack against all whose existence might challenge a narrow definition of what is considered “acceptable.”
Right now, few groups face more direct hostility than the transgender community. There is a wave of animus sweeping the nation. It is being codified into law, wielded as invective, and used as a springboard to violence.
This divisiveness and scapegoating pose a threat to our ideals. And thus they are a threat to all who care about freedom in a pluralistic constitutional republic based on the principles of democracy.
More fundamentally, those under attack are fellow human beings who deserve the same respect and opportunity to live their lives as anyone else.
There are a lot of reasons bigots are focusing their hatred on transgender people. Gender fluidity is a concept foreign to how many were raised, and thus it can be disorienting to comprehend. It challenges the binary many of us learned as children and believed to be utterly fundamental.
“What did you have?” is often the first question new mothers are asked from family and friends. And the implications of the query are understood even if they go unstated: Did you have a boy or a girl?
It is also understood that the implications of that question will endure far beyond infancy. Gender is seen as portentous for what the rest of life will entail. There was a time when biological sex determined everything from one’s likely occupation to one’s legal rights. Boys and girls have different aisles in toy stores and sections in clothing departments.
In many ways, we have made progress toward gender equality. We have women in positions of political power and leading businesses. We have women firefighters, police officers, and pilots. But we also still have a ways to go. And the recent rollback of abortion rights shows we are capable of losing ground.
Into all of this complexity comes the rise in trans awareness and its backlash. While it is understandable that children and adults who do not fit into a traditional gender overlay could be a challenging reality for many, we should be clear that this makes it all the more important that we try to understand.
Science informs us that gender is often a blurry concept in nature. History proves that transgender identities in humans are not new. We can gain understanding from medical and mental health professionals about responding with care and empathy.
And we should be clear that claims of “this is abhorrent,” “this isn’t how things should be done,” “this isn’t natural,” or “this is dangerous” are the kind of rhetoric long used to attack the “other,” no matter who it may be.
We have seen these attacks lobbed at other members of the LGBTQ community. We have seen them target interracial marriage, the customs of non-Christians, and communities of immigrants.
We have seen discrimination wielded time and again as a cudgel for those with power to bolster their standing by picking on others. It is bullying, pure and simple.
The attacks on drag queens and others in transgender communities as “groomers” or prone to child abuse are particularly despicable. There is no evidence backing these allegations. And those who push them are often conveniently quiet about those who have been prosecuted for abuse but belong to groups more aligned with conservative values, like the clergy, Boy Scouts, and even Republican politics (former House Speaker Dennis Hastert comes to mind).
The purpose of these attacks on the trans community is transparent. It’s about political power, and a power built on division. It’s about picking on those who have the least ability to defend themselves, including and especially children.
We can try to wrestle in good faith around the implications of a changing society. We can discuss what this might mean for sports or bathroom design. We can be sympathetic to those who are still early in their journey of understanding.
But as history has shown, we should not be quiet. We should not look the other way. We should not allow this hatefulness to take root and distract us from the real problems with which we must contend.
Those who are being targeted must know that they are not alone.
While You Were Distracted …
Believe it or not, there are other things happening around the nation and around the globe this week besides the arraignment and following circus show by the former president [sic]. For example, a U.S. reporter for The Wall Street Journal has been arrested and is being held prisoner in Russia on trumped-up (no pun intended) charges of being a spy. Or, what about the three Tennessee legislators who may be ousted from their position for their participation in an anti-gun rally in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting last week? Or the upcoming election in Turkey where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be fighting to hold onto his authoritarian power. While still more states here in the U.S. are pushing through voter suppression laws ahead of next year’s election. And then, there’s Tuesday’s election in Wisconsin. What, you ask, is so special about an off-year election in Wisconsin? Well, for starters, it may well bring Wisconsin into the 21st century democratically speaking, and may have a big impact on women’s rights, as well as next year’s presidential election, but don’t take my word for it … see what Dan & Elliot have to say about it …
A Lesson From Wisconsin
Judge for yourself
By Elliot Kirschner and Dan Rather
06 April 2023
Wisconsin is a state known for its cheese, but now it may also be known for its tea leaves.
You can make a strong case that the biggest political news from yesterday was not the courtroom appearance of a former president in New York, but rather a state supreme court election in the Badger State.
These are the kinds of races that usually elicit more yawns than a kindergarten class after recess. But not this year. Not in Wisconsin. Not in our current political environment.
Officially, the race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court was a nonpartisan affair. Officially. But there was no secret about where the political affiliations of the two candidates lay. Janet Protasiewicz telegraphed herself as a “progressive,” and her opponent Daniel Kelly is a “conservative.” And with an existing “conservative” justice retiring, the future balance of a court that had been evenly split hinged upon yesterday’s outcome.
This is especially important when you consider that Wisconsin may be the most embattled of battleground states. With the exception of President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012, it has been decided by around a point or less in every presidential election from 2000 onward.
In 2022, the Democratic candidate for Senate barely lost to the Republican incumbent. It was a race that many Democrats now believe they let slip away.
Two places you won’t see evidence of Wisconsin’s battleground status, however, are its state legislature and its congressional delegation. They are both overwhelmingly Republican. And that’s telling. Republicans made the state among the most gerrymandered in the nation. It’s so bad that you might be hard-pressed to call Wisconsin a fully functional democracy.
This was the backdrop for yesterday’s Wisconsin election. And so was the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent dismantling of women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is currently illegal in Wisconsin due to a 174-year-old ban that took effect once Roe v. Wade was overturned. A liberal majority on the state supreme court is likely to change that.
And it could overturn the gerrymandering and revisit a host of other policies Republican politicians and judges have pushed through.
With all that at stake, it’s understandable that both sides poured money into the race — an eye-popping $42 million. For a single judgeship. Not surprisingly that total smashed all previous records of spending in court races.
In the end, the headlines weren’t only that Protasiewicz won, but the margin of her victory — 10 points — which in Wisconsin counts as a landslide.
There are a lot of lessons one can take from the results. First, the anger that many Americans feel about the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling has not dissipated. It was a motivating factor in the 2022 elections, in which Democrats overperformed. And it remains so in 2023. Should we expect that to extend into 2024?
There is also a sense that the Midwest gains Trump made in 2016 may be diminishing for the GOP. At least somewhat. The Republicans lost big in Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2022. And now here again in Wisconsin.
Against this backdrop, it is worth reminding ourselves that we are generally in an era of a politicized judiciary. But to be fair, we’ve been there for a while. In a different world, one could hope that the judiciary would not be so politicized. But to start worrying about that only now in the wake of this race is to conveniently forget what we’ve seen over the last decades.
While both political parties have long histories of appointing judges to the bench who share their general world views, there has seldom, if ever, been anything like what the Republicans have attempted at both the state and federal levels over roughly the last 40 years.
If you want a perfect definition of “politicians in robes,” you need go no further than the current U.S. Supreme Court, which is handing down decision after decision that hews to Republican orthodoxy, but which they could never achieve legislatively — on abortion, guns, the environment, voting rights, workers’ rights, and on and on.
Nothing has defined the tenure of the Republicans’ Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, more than filling the bench with true believers. And blocking Democrats from filling the open seat left by the death of Antonin Scalia.
Finally, if we are really worried about politicized judges and elections, then we need to consider the overall health of our democracy. If Wisconsin weren’t so gerrymandered, if the state legislature weren’t so out of touch with so many of the voters, if it hadn’t banned abortion and subverted representative government, then we probably wouldn’t have had a state supreme court race making such headlines.
But this is where we are. And if you try to suppress the will of the people, eventually they will find a way to try to reset the balance. What just happened in Wisconsin is an encouraging example.
USA Today: Most Americans Think It’s Good to Be WOKE
Sometimes it seems that those of us with a social conscience, those of us who believe in equality and humanity, are reviled with the use of the new term ‘woke’ that is bandied about like something distasteful and disgusting. But guess what? The majority of people actually believe that ‘woke’, as used in the 21st century vernacular, is a good thing! Take a look at Diane Ravitch’s post …
Take that, DeSatanis!
USA Today conducted a poll and found that most Americans think it’s good to be “woke.”
Republican presidential hopefuls are vowing to wage a war on “woke,” but a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds a majority of Americans are inclined to see the word as a positive attribute, not a negative one.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say the term means “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” That includes not only three-fourths of Democrats but also more than a third of Republicans.
Overall, 39% say instead that the word reflects what has become the GOP political definition, “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.” That’s the view of 56% of Republicans.
So, do you want to be informed and aware?
Or do you prefer to be uninformed and asleep?
By the way, I got an email inviting me to attend…
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Why it Matters
The following post from a guest commentator over at Scottie’s blog is the most successful analysis I have read that views what we are seeing today, not only in the U.S. but ’round the globe, and connects it to a historical context that is truly uncanny. There is no hyperbole, no exaggeration, just thoughtful analysis. Thank you Scottie and Randy for this excellent piece.
This is a guest post from Randy. As most people here already know Randy is someone I admire greatly. Randy is my online brother and a member of our family. Randy is smart, funny, caring, kind, willing to reach out a hand to those in need while also willing to stand up to protect others. Randy is the kind of guy who if he knew a co-worker had no other way to get to a much needed job during a snow storm he would get up out of his warm bed and go take them to work. And not ask any for doing it. I have asked Randy if he would be a guest author as he has time. He has delighted me with the first two posts of what I hope will be many more. Thank you my brother, Hugs.
Why it Matters
In this era of Blue…
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