People Have Always Had a Hammer Ready for Uppity Women

Since getting the Kindle Fire, I’ve been teaching myself the history I never learned. School wasn’t big on freethinkers (although they were big on paens of praise for the Founding Fathers – the real secularist ones, not the weird rabid Christian ones that only exist in right wingers’ heads). My education glossed the suffragettes. It somehow left me thinking that women kicked up a brief fuss and got voting rights justlikethat, and that Susan B. Anthony had something to do with the American Revolution. Well, she was a revolutionary fighting a war of sorts, but I had her badly misplaced. Elizabeth Cady Stanton might have come up at some point – her name seemed familiar when I rediscovered her as a Freethinker – but if so, she wasn’t exactly expounded upon.

The impression I took away was that a woman’s right to vote was a natural evolution in American history, practically inevitable, and that bloomers were a big deal. I got the sense these women were rather freaks in their time. They were, but I don’t think the public school system meant me to think they were quite weird and somewhat undesirable.

But that’s exactly what anti-woman suffrage frothers wanted folks to think. Note the conservative hysteria in this series of political postcards. It should be depressingly familiar to anyone who’s followed the sexism and misogyny outbreaks in our community and the world at large recently.

Anti-suffragette postcards. Image courtesy ROFLrazzi.

The artwork is different, the issue of woman suffrage is (mostly) settled, but the sentiments are the same: Women speaking out for treatment as equal human beings hate men and want to dominate and destroy them. They’re ugly and masculine. Familiar silencing tactics, aren’t they? And there’s the terrible fear that the natural order of things will be overturned if the little ladies ever get so much as a hint of independence. Men won’t be able to get their way anymore! Women will voice their own opinions, wear pants, make men do housework! Horrors!*

In some ways, we’ve come very far. So far that every teacher throughout my education took it for granted that woman can and should vote. And yet we’re still stuck in the past in so many ways. Terrified, angry men in the atheist, skeptic and other communities freak out over feminism on a regular basis. Terrified, angry, authoritarian men in conservative, evangelical and fundamentalist religions, along with others on the political right who may not be so overtly religious but still have definite Ideas about a woman’s place, would like to see the clock set back to an era when birth control and abortion were illegal. Some have gone so far as to call woman suffrage “evil.” There are a lot of people who would reverse our gains and take away our right to vote if they could.

We’ve put up with this shit for a long time. We’ve faced down the attacks on our minds, our bodies, our personal safety. Most women have resisted the efforts to stuff them back in the house, into the role of housemaid and baby producer. We’ve fought for our right to vote, we’ve fought for birth control and legal abortion, and now we’re fighting to make sure those things aren’t taken away from us. We’re fighting gender roles that tell us girls can’t do math and boys don’t cry. We’re fighting the sexism and misogyny that infest every group of people which includes men who want to retain their dominance, and the women who enable their bad behavior. We’re fighting to be recognized as human beings, with all of the rights, responsibility and equality that entails.

The efforts to silence us didn’t work then. They won’t work now. Women voted. We voted pro-rape candidates down. We voted women in. Women are used to battles, and we’re used to the antics of those who want us to stop fighting.

We won our right to vote. We won on birth control and abortion. And we will continue to win. Those who want to take us back to the 19th century will eventually have to face the fact they’ve already lost, and are now merely dashing about like headless chickens in a doomed attempt to regain their supremacy.

Not even scathing postcards from the past will save them.

 

*Those last two are nightmares that sexist atheists mostly seem to have outgrown, but men in the Christian patriarchy movement seem terrified their servant-wives may break out of their bonds and decide gender roles are for suckaz. The fear of lady pants is still strong with some.

 

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David Sedaris Clarifies Things for Undecided Voters

David Sedaris marvels at the inanity of the undecided voters paraded around on teevee. The choices really are this stark:

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I hope this concentrates the minds of anyone who either hasn’t chosen, or has opted for the merde avec verre cassé by mistake. Don’t be fooled by the pretty name: it’s still just shit with broken glass.

So is McCain.

Try the poulet a l’espoir de Obama instead. I hear it’s outstanding.

An Open Letter to Undecided Voters

I wrote this in response to a plea from a diarist at Daily Kos. On the eve of the election, it seems appropriate to post it here.

Dear Undecideds,

I’m a dirty rotten liberal, so don’t listen to me. Listen to my conservative parents, who just voted for Obama:

My father is a decorated Vietnam vet and a lifelong Republican, but after a struggle, he chose Obama for one reason: Iraq. He trusts Obama to end the Iraq war quickly and competently. He couldn’t vote for McCain, who not only refuses to see the wisdom in redirecting our forces into Afghanistan where they’re desperately needed, but wants to start a multitude of new wars. My father served his country with honor and distinction. He despises draft dodgers and pacifists. But he also knows our country can’t afford any more useless wars. That’s why he chose Obama.

My stepmother used to describe herself as a “Rush Limbaugh conservative.” She’s now an Obamacan. She’s the financial hawk of the family, and she believes Obama will do the best job salvaging our economy. She knows that middle-class folks like my parents will suffer under the economic policy McCain advocates. She also knows that our family would not be able to afford health insurance under McCain’s plan. She believes that Obama’s foreign policy is right, and that he will restore America’s standing in the world. McCain won’t. Obama chose a running-mate fully capable of leading this country if necessary. McCain didn’t. She chose Obama because he truly cares about America, and he has the intelligence, the advisers, and the temperament to be the President America needs.

They’re confident Obama is the right choice. So are many other conservatives I’ve heard from.

I chose Obama in the primaries because he is the first candidate that has ever made me believe that you and I, working together, can do as much for this country as he can. When he steps into the Oval Office, you and I are coming with him. Government of the People, for the People, and by the People is not just a catch phrase to him. He believes in it. He believes in us.

We need that kind of hope and power. We need a great American President. That’s why my conservative parents and their liberal daughter chose Obama.

I hope you’ll join us.

Sincerely,

Washington State Voting with Kitteh

Got me ballot. Got me Google. This is the brilliant thing about mail-in ballots: I can sit here and really scrutinize the bastard, make sure I’m not voting for something that’s all sizzle and no substance. Consider this Dana Hunter’s Official List of Endorsements for the 2008 Washington State Election.

Righty-o. In order of appearance:

I-985

Not no but fuck NO. On the surface, it looked decent enough: open the carpool lanes to all traffic during off-peak daytime hours (which Arizona does, and it makes it soooo much easier to get around), along with increased roadside assistance funding and other goodies. But two strikes: the Seattle P-I editors hate hate hate it, and it’s the darling of Tim Eyman. I hadn’t heard of Tim Eyman before tonight. I’ve now heard quite enough. NO.

I-1000

I wrote you two novels on this one a little while ago, so you all know where I stand on allowing terminally ill folks the right to end things with dignity and grace. Hell YES.

I-1029

Well, this one’s proving a bugger. Lot’s of noise against. However, after reviewing said noise, it appears that it’s the screaming of people who don’t want to have to undergo background checks and pay for training before they can care for the elderly. The people against are almost all home care businesses whose arguments sound like Republicon Talking Points 101. And they’re afraid of the scary union!!11!!1! SEIU was a driving force behind this, so of course it’s all about the evil unions trying to impose standards on the free market. Blah. Seriously, even if it costs a little extra, I’d rather the person caring for Grandma is certified and checked. YES.

Onward, ho.

How many fucking Charter Amendments can you stuff onto one ballot? Jeez. Eight of the thrice-bedamned things. This is when being a responsible citizen sucketh mightily.

Except… So far, ProgressiveVotersGuide.org has been with me 100%, so why not trust their judgement here? After cursory review, o’ course. So, the quick-and-dirty:

#1: Experience over popularity contest for Elections Director – sounds good to me. NO
#2: Prohibiting discrimination – duh. YES
#3: Less city council members on assorted committees. No fucking clue. I’m not a local policy wonk, so shall entrust my opinion to those who are. YES
#4: Establishing minimal qualifications – “We think our Sheriff , Assessor and Elections Director should know what they’re doing.” Me too. YES
#5: Improved economic forecasting. Hell, improved anything economic sounds good. YES
#6: More time to review a budget that has – ye gods – gone from the millions to the billions. YES
#7: Make laborious and confusing charter amendment stuff more simple. After what I’ve just been through with it? And I didn’t even have to propose one of these damned things! YES
#8: Removing party identification from some county offices – sponsored by three Republicons. Say no more. These fucktards can run, but they cannot hide. NO

Brilliant. I love that website. Too bad it’s only for Washington State, but I’m sure there’s one like it for yours. Use the power of teh Google and get informed.

Now that we’ve got that nonsense out of the way, it’s on to the super-important stuff: the first President I will ever vote for.

That’s going to be such a hard choice.


President and Vice President of the United States: I’m gonna have to plump for genius. Filling in this bubble feels so amazingly good. Barack Obama and Joe Biden. YES, WE CAN!

(BTW, you know this is a blue state when there’s not one but two Socialist parties on the Presidential portion of the ballot. Wow.)

Now on to the second most exciting part of my evening: I FINALLY GET TO VOTE FOR JAY INSLEE OMG!!11!11!1! Ahem.

United States Representative Congressional District No. 1: Jay Inslee.

Damn, that feels good. Two of my favorite politicians in the entire fucking universe, there.

Governor: No question, no doubt in my mind. Christine Gregoire. Suck it, Dino!

Lieutenant Governor: Well, Marcia McCraw gets brownie points for not being a gutless wonder and actually owning the name Republicon, but still. Brad Owen.

Secretary of State: Shit, this one’s really hard. I swore to myself I’d never vote for a single Republicon, but Sam Reed’s endorsement list is a mile bloody long, and even the ProgressiveVotersGuide.org loves him. Wingnuts hate him. And it is not my policy to punish a man for his party. Crapola. Sam Reed.

State Treasurer: Not really a contest here. When you have two solid candidates, and one of them’s a good solid Dem, and you’re a lefty, you plump for the Dem. Jim McIntire.

State Auditor: Now, I’m tempted to vote for the Dem for two reasons. 1 – he’s a Dem; 2 – I like his last name. But this is not responsible voting. We now consult the oracles. The Stranger and ProgressiveVotersGuide.org both agree: Brian Sonntag.

Attorney General: Strong record of supporting civil liberties, reproductive rights, consumer rights, AND environmental protection vs. anti-abortion Republicon climber who let Dino weasel out of calling himself a Con. No fucking contest. John Ladenburg.

Commissioner of Public Lands: (I know, when we get down into the ballot’s nether regions, it’s about as exciting as watching sheep graze. But this shit’s still important. Stick with me – we’ll get there.) Hey, a biologist! And a Dem!!1! Easy: Peter J. Goldmark.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Hmm. Non-partisan office. Challenger does not appear to be a closet creationist and has assloads of political (former Democratic State Rep) and educational experience. Current incumbant couldn’t answer the questions on the noxious standardized test she forces all students to pass. FAIL. Randy Dorn.

Insurance Commissioner: The Stranger says we should stick it to one of the Founding Fathers. I have a harder time with this – John Adams is also one of my characters. But my John Adams is no fucking Republicon, and the Democratic challenger is an advocate of health care reform and other progressive goodness. Mike Kreidler.

Legislative District No. 45, Position No 1: This is where endorsements matter, because I’ve paid fuck-all attention to local races. I shall plump for the candidate supported by the people I believe in, and when you have one guy supported by a huge swath of organizations out to do good, and one endorsed by nothing but business interests, the choice is simple: Roger Goodman.

Position No 2: Ditto, Larry Springer.

(And yes, I peeked at the issues, too. And yes, the Republicons running are Republicons. ‘Nuff said.)

State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 3: Spoiled for choices here. We have a name and a blank line, and not even my trusty voter guides seem to have this one on the radar. However, Judgepedia gives me enough info to know I don’t need to write in Screaming Rubber Chicken as a protest vote. Mary Fairhurst.

Position No. 4: Judgepedia likes him. Charles W. Johnson.

Position No. 7: Heh. She looked like such an easy shoo-in that her challenger dropped out. Debra L. Stephens.

Court of Appeals etc. etc. No. 5: Judgepedia fails me, but Google shows the only contender was appointed by Gov. Gregoire, and there seem to have been no embarrassing incidents. Good ’nuff. Linda Lau.

No. 6: Holy shit, she’s got an assload of experience. No scandals Google could find. Ann Schindler.

Superior Court Judge Position No. 1: Finally, some competition again! I’ll take the candidate endorsed by NARAL, thanks. Sue Parisien.

No. 22: The lady described as “This badass former federal civil-rights attorney” by the Stranger so has my vote. Holly Hill.

No. 37: I’ll take the candidate who’s rated “outstanding” and “exceptionally well qualified” AND is endorsed by NARAL and Equal Rights Washington. Jean Rietschel.

And, at long last… the final vote to be cast. Prop. No. 1: Mass Transit Expansion. Hell to the YES. Or, in this case, APPROVED.

Fini. A few hours with Google, and I’ve been a responsible voter, choosing people that I think are best qualified for the positions they’re running for (don’t you fucking make me regret that one Republican vote, Sam!) and choosing the right stand on the ballot measures. In the Age o’ the Intertoobz, there is no reason on earth why you can’t do the same.

Kitteh sez: GET OUT THE VOTE! Even if you punk off the rest of the ballot, she’d like you to vote for this man:

They not only share political views, but exquisite taste in columns.

Can America’s Voting Procedures Possibly Be Any More Fucked Up?

Voting a straight ticket is anything but straight in this country.

In North Carolina, if you’re voting a straight-party ticket, you must vote separately for the president. If you don’t, you risk your vote for president not being counted.

In Texas, Alabama and South Carolina, voting a straight-party ticket includes the president. Email rumors, of course, say otherwise.

Confused yet?

Be very careful this election season, my darlings. Don’t believe everything you read in emails, READ YOUR BALLOT’S INSTRUCTIONS, and try to read up on your state’s laws before you cast your vote.

I don’t know why the Republicons are so gung-ho about suppressing votes when the bloody state-by-state variation in rules does the job all by itself…

Keep a Sharp Eye on Voting Machines

If your precinct uses those bloody touchscreen voting machines, make sure you watch who it’s voting for on your behalf:

THE PROBLEM was that my touch-screen voting machine inaccurately put a green check mark in the McCain/Palin box when I touched my guy’s name. I followed the instructions and touched the incorrect check mark to “de-select” it and then used my pinky instead of my index finger to select Obama/Biden. That wasn’t the end of my frustration, though.

[snip]

Three times the touch screen mistakenly assigned my preference to the wrong candidate. Now I’m a technologically savvy individual, so it didn’t fluster me too much, having read the directions, knowing that I could immediately “un-check” one and select the other, and further knowing that there would be a screen at the end with a summary of my selections, and an opportunity to “Return to the Ballot,” before actually casting the “VOTE.” Not all voters are as tech savvy as me–in fact few of them are. There was an alert tone that sounded when I touched Obama/Biden, and a bright green check mark appeared in the box (the wrong one, of course, but I could have missed it), and the paper tape that keeps record was printed on and moved. I would imagine that MANY people would move on at that point…I mean, it sounded and “looked” like the right thing happened.

Let’s not have any tragic accidents, shall we? Slow down, take your time, and verify. Otherwise, we might end up with Grampa McCrabbypants and Sarah Failin’ in charge of our destinies – a fate too horrible to contemplate without copious quantities of alcohol and psychotropic drugs.

Protect Your Vote from Republicon Marauders

Ah, ’tis Election Season. That hue and cry I hear must be the Republicons in full-throated panic over the potential of scary poor people, minorities and dirty liberals actually getting to vote. They know their “ideas” are noxious to the vast majority of thinking people. How else can they win but by trying to ensure that such undesirables aren’t allowed to cast a vote?

They do this every election year. As sure as it rains in Seattle in winter, the Republicons start screaming “Voter fraud!” when election time rolls round. Never mind they can never prove large-scale fraud. Never mind they’re the ones who gerrymander, voter cage, and intimidate people into not getting their vote counted. They either a) need to steal elections by dirty tricks or b) need to cast doubt on the results if they lose. So they go looking for windmills to tilt at.

They’re outdoing themselves this year. From voter-roll purges to flyers in poor neighborhoods threatening arrest on Election Day to using foreclosure lists to knock off voters, not to mention a billion other tactics they’ve tried over the last few months, they’re trying every method they can think of to stop all those impassioned Dems from casting their vote. Now they’re in full freak-out mode over ACORN, a nefarious group that not only registers a lot of poor people to vote, but actually flags suspicious registration forms so that the proper authorities can act accordingly and prevent fraudulent registrations. Oh, the horror!

(Ahem. Correct me if I’m wrong, here, but if you were planning to massively register a lot of fictitious people in hopes of stealing an election, would you actually tip the authorities that some of the registration forms you’ve collected and are now required by law to send in might be fraudulent? I didn’t think so. But the Republicons are so far around the bend that they think concientious attempts to ensure that only legitimate folks get registered are a sign of massive fraud.)

So, given all these shennanigans, how are you to protect your vote? Simplicity itself, my darlings.

1. Verifiy you’re registered. Do it. Do it NOW.

2. Give yourself plenty of time at the polls in case of problems, or vote absentee.

3. But IF you vote absentee, make sure additional hoops don’t have to be jumped through to get that vote counted. Check your state’s laws.

4. Carry this number with you: 1-866-OUR VOTE . The good folks at The Election Protection Commission have your back if problems crop up.

5. Prepare to sue the shit out of the Rethugs and their pals if they purged you illegally. It’ll be fun.

Don’t let these cons steal your vote from you. You have the right to vote. Exercise it with glee.

Don’t Let the GOP Steal Your Vote

When assclowns get desperate, they turn to their old friend Election Fraud to help save the day. We’ve already seen harmonic tremors of what’s to come – remember those nuns who were denied the vote? The gentleman who got arrested for the hideous crime of presenting state-approved voter ID? The Supreme Court handed the 2000 election to Bush by way of some chad, and 2004 looked a mite shady as well.

It’s only gonna get worse. Ye olde cliche “by hook or by crook” takes center stage here: Republicons have no hook, and they’re quick to turn to crook. Crashing Vor over at Daily Kos has some excellent advice for those who prefer not to have their votes stolen out from under them:

Check your voter registration, now and again before closing deadline. If you are a Democrat or Independent, darker than a glass of milk or live in a neighborhood with a significant proportion of non-whites, check again. Tell your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.

If your state allows convicted felons to regain the franchise after serving sentence and you know such a person, have them double-check their registration, as felons who may legitimately vote are often targeted in purges.

Keep close tabs on any election-related mailers or phone calls, particularly any that question your registration, urge you to vote on the wrong day, appear to be from a party source but support the opposing party’s candidate, etc.

Check with the registrar of voters before the election to make sure your polling place has not moved. (This is especially important in places recovering from disaster–flooded Midwest Dems: heads up!)

If you can, volunteer as a poll-watcher for your local Democratic party or your candidate of choice.

The GOP is desperate this year, and will try every last damn dirty trick, legal or not, to stop people from voting, to stop votes from counting, to stop the wave of pissed off voters they hear rushing at them. Vigilance is the watchword.

Vigilance indeed. Spread the word.