What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Justice for Magdalenes

 Read Part 1 here.  I hear Martina Keogh before I can see her. She’s yelling at her two small dogs, Princess and Tilly, to pipe down and they are happily ignoring her, an interaction that will replay several times over the course of our two-hour conversation. The dogs, plus a two-week-old kitten she’s fostering for the local animal rescue, keep us company that day. Their periodic interruptions—begging for attention, meowing to be fed—relieve some of the darkness of the story I’ve asked Martina to tell. [Read more…]

Get Out of My Crotch

GetOut_FrontTo clarify, the above is a book title, not an imperative statement directed at you. After all, YOU wouldn’t go poking around in my ladyparts uninvited, would you? No, you would not. Which means you have much better manners than, say, the hundreds of politicians at the federal and state levels who have lately been making it their business to regulate what goes on in America’s Panties. [Read more…]

I’m Calling to Urge Your Support

When I signed on to be a full-time activist, I didn’t realize how many phone calls would be involved. I don’t have the kind of job that requires me to show up in person to protest things—I’ve probably done that twice in nearly a decade of anti-domestic violence work—mine is more a “sit and think about policy” and “write position letters” kind of a gig. But phone calls are another matter. During the course of the average week I receive huge volumes of emails of the “Take Action!” variety, and while my first response is to mutter “I took action by coming to work, what do you want from me?” I do still often feel moved to act as an individual citizen and dial those 1-888 numbers. A polite if rather stilted conversation ensues, in which whomever was lucky enough to answer the phone in Congress Member X’s office gets to hear me read (eloquently, one assumes) from the script provided by whomever asked me to call them. [Read more…]

The Kool-Aid is Not for You

So! That election. Funny how it wasn’t even close. And please don’t start yammering at me about the popular vote, because if we decided elections that way both sides would have run totally different campaigns (e.g., no one would have gone to Ohio, ever), and there are compelling reasons to think that Obama’s team would have been just as effective under those circumstances, and that Mitt Romney would still have been Mitt Romney, which carries its own consequences. [Read more…]

Wet Dog Democrats

Americans now gauge crisis levels by the number of memes generated.

“Today we are all Democrats.” As far as I know, nobody said this as they surveyed Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, but somebody really should have. Nothing like a catastrophic weather event to remind people that, oh yeah, maybe a strong central government isn’t the bane of humanity after all! Watching Republicans like Chris Christie fawning over Obama when his Jersey ass is in the fire and “government intervention” is suddenly more than a catchphrase used to rile up excitable right-wingers, is seriously galling.

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Happy Anniversary, Joe Biden (A Political Love Story)

I’ve been looking forward to the Vice Presidential debate ever since Paul Ryan’s candidacy was announced, because I fully expect that Joe Biden is going to eat that smirking plutocrat for lunch. The media narrative of Biden as America’s Daffy Uncle belies the accomplished legislator and ass-kicking partisan he really is. But so much the better; low expectations, plus Ryan’s entirely undeserved reputation as a policy wonk can only work to Old Uncle Joe’s benefit. He will smile genially, wave to the crowd, then rip Paul Ryan a new one. I cannot wait. I heart Joe.

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The Rulers We Deserve

Democracy is so annoying; it’s one of the reasons I don’t have a television. My TV-less life means I haven’t had to endure a single campaign ad this entire election cycle, and I am a calmer, happier person for it. Still, out of some misplaced sense of civic duty, I always watch presidential debates. But last night may have put an end to that for good. If we’d been smart, nobody would’ve shown up for that pointlessness, not you, not me, not my dog, and certainly not the candidates, both of whom looked like they would rather have been literally anywhere else on earth. [Read more…]

Supreme Court to Walmart Plaintiffs: Shut Up, You Dumb Girls

Good news for all you misogynist bosses out there: the Supreme Court totally has your back, bro. Apparently all you have to do is write a policy saying you’re not allowed to discriminate against women, and then you can safely discriminate against women on a massive fucking scale and you will be totally fine. Because: the written policy!  It’s genius, really. Not since the Citizens United decision have I been so forcefully reminded that the conservative majority of our nation’s highest court is a pack of absolute, unrepentant hypocrites. I actually like to be reminded of that; I find it bracing, like a cold shower or a sudden blow to the head. Gets the adrenalin flowing! God, they’re terrible. But I digress.

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Saudi Women Protesters “Brave”; U.S. Still a Total Wuss

Saudi Arabia is seriously the worst. Of all the many, many places on earth where it thoroughly sucks to be female, they rank impressively high. Basically women there have the legal status of minors, only permanently. Women can’t vote, they can’t go out in public unless accompanied by a man; they can’t even get a job without written permission from a male “guardian” which, what the hell? And as many now know because of last Friday’s protests, Saudi Arabian women are not allowed to drive. Anywhere, ever. I mean, they can, but they get arrested for it, which is a pretty good deterrent. When weighing the costs and benefits of a trip to the grocery store, I’m guessing “will go to jail” is a fairly convincing argument against running errands. [Read more…]

BREAKING: Anthony Weiner’s Wife’s Fetus Not Actually Your Business

Well, it’s over. Congressman Crotch Shot is stepping down, giving way at last beneath the weight of the nation’s collective scolding. I haven’t yet been persuaded that his toolish behavior constituted a firing offense; he committed no crimes that we know of, it was mostly the media coverage that made it impossible for him to do his job. The press of course went for the easy kill, focusing on what was personally salacious rather than professionally relevant. And Americans, never ones to miss out on a public shaming, set upon Weiner like pack of self-righteous hyenas.  Weiner should lose his seat, they argued, not because he was bad at his job, but because he was a bad man. Yikes! Tough audience. [Read more…]