Photo by Elizabeth Goolian

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What the GOP Has Confirmed in this Election

Rick Santorum. Paul Ryan. Todd Akin.  And now, today, Richard Mourdock.   Men who do not want to take us back to the 1950s, as many commentators have said, but who want a return to the Middle Ages when it comes to the most basic of women's rights.

The positions these guys have taken--against equal pay for women, against both abortion and contraception--a crazy and illogical stance if ever there was one, and supporting the insane ideas that a cell that has just been fertilized is a person, that there is such a thing as illegitimate rape, that women's bodies will reject a pregnancy if the rape is legitimate, and that if a woman does become pregnant via a rape it is God's plan--are hysterical, illogical, and profoundly misogynistic.

And what they prove is this:  No man has any right to take any action concerning women's reproductive rights.  Sure, they can have their stupid opinions, and they can shout them from the rooftops.  But they have no right whatsoever to act on their stupidity.  Because they have no understanding of women's bodies or women's lives.  And they are happy to politicize the very real lives of women with no regard for what rape, incest, or a simple mistake means in the life of a woman.  And even less concern.

What every woman in this country knows, whether she chooses to admit it or not, is that if men could become pregnant, there would be an abortion clinic on every street corner in every city, town, village, and burg in the United States.  They would be franchised, and they would be successful.  By now, the procedure itself would have advanced to the point that a pregnant man could dash into a nearby clinic (and they would ALL be nearby!) on his lunch hour and go right back to work.  If men could become pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.  If men could become pregnant, there would be no question as to whether health insurance would pay for contraception--just as there has never been a question about health insurance paying for boner pills.  Even when many insurers were not paying for Pap smears, men were getting their dick dysfunction prescriptions filled without paying a cent for them. And no one ever raised a question or took a moral stand againt it.

But men can't become pregnant.  And so they should have no say.  Period.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 47%. Who are these people who aren't paying income tax?

As the almost pathetically awkward and incompetent GOP presidential nominee pointed out to his friends in Boca--at the private event that's now famous because it was filmed--about 47% of adult Americans do not pay income taxes.  Well,  Romney, who is almost allergic to saying anything that's absolutely true, said they don't pay "taxes," which is wrong.  They do pay payroll and property and sales taxes.  But they don't pay income taxes.

That was news to a lot of Americans, including me.  I knew there were people who didn't shell out on April 15 or thereabouts.  I knew that there were people who didn't earn enough money to have their income taxed--the families who are just scraping by, the people who lost their jobs in the Bush recession, the working poor, the just-plain poor, the elderly without enough savings to tax.  Who would insist that those people "pay their fair share?"  Aside from Mitt Romney and his bazillionaire friends, I mean.

But let's not overlook the fact that that 47% includes people other than those Romney said in the now-famous film he could not possibly redeem, could never make them "become responsible" enough to make a lot of money, pay income tax, and not vote Democratic. 

I happen to know one of those people.  And guess what.  He's rich.

He's always cared a lot about money and been very good with it.  He started off as solidly middle-class, with parents who also cared a lot about money and made sure their children would do well financially.  (His mother was an accountant.)  So when he moved to a major city after college, he didn't rent a low-rent apartment shared with roommates--his parents made a substantial down payment on a condo, which he was then able to pay off easily.  And sell for a big profit later.  When he wanted to start his own business, his parents fronted him the money.  Remember when Mitt answered a question about how a young person could become an entrepreneur by saying he should ask his parents to cough up the money to start a business?  Voila.

Over the years, the business did well, and this guy made it his business to learn about investments and finance.  Between investing his business profits wisely, and not being the kind of person to spend money ostentatiously (he drives a 10-year-old Honda)--he amassed quite a nice nest egg for his retirement.  By then he had bought a home in one of the city's best neighborhoods, lived in it for a dozen years, sold it for a big profit. 

So when he was getting ready to retire, he was looking at a very comfortable financial pad.  And good for him, right?

But that's not how he became rich.  He became rich when a bunch of relatives died and left him several million dollars--not to mention major jewelry and real estate.  With some of the money, he bought more real estate.  The rest he invested conservatively, in financial products that are paying him a hefty interest rate.

And last year, he did not pay one cent in income tax.  How is that possible?  Simple, he told me--he has a great accountant, who managed to work the interest income he earned through the tax loopholes and deductions so that the bottom line showed a four-figure income.  Well below the reach of the IRS.

He's not alone, you know.  So let's not forget that the 47% include not only the elderly, the disabled, the poor and working poor, the unemployed and the underemployed.  It also includes rich people.  Rich people with clever accountants.  Romney conveniently overlooked those guys. 

And who is he voting for in November?  Well, he used to be a Democrat, but what he believes he needs now is more tax breaks.  So he can continue paying no income tax.  So he's voting for the GOP--Greedy Old People.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Need to be afraid of something? Be afraid of ALEC.

If you watch Fox News, the New Black Panther Party is probably on your list of groups that scare you to death. Fox never misses a chance to mention this group, especially if they can mention President Obama in the same breath. Fox News would have you believe that these people--who modeled their group on and took the name of an organization that wants nothing to do with them--represent a real threat to American freedom and to you, your families, your pets, and your future.

As always with Fox News, it would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. The NBPP says it has a few thousand members worldwide, although organizations that monitor hate groups say the number is much smaller. The actual Black Panther Party--the 1970s people who liked to have their pictures taken with them wearing sunglasses and black berets and holding machine guns, but whose major effect on American life was the free breakfasts they provided to poor black kids in American cities--has disavowed the NBPP and stated that "there is no 'new' Black Panther Party."

Basically, they're a bunch of disillusioned, angry people who think that hating people who aren't like them (white people, Jews) will somehow solve the problems of African-American people. Basically, they're just sad.

And--here's the payoff--the NBPP has no power. No power of any kind. Only Fox pays any attention to them, their numbers are small, they have no active programs other than showing up at various events and yelling stuff.

But there is an organization that should scare you to death. It's also a hate group and has only a few thousand members. But those members are among the most powerful people in the country. And if you're poor, struggling, or middle class and if you do not subscribe to their religion--pure greed--they are out to get you.

I'm talking, of course, about ALEC--the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded by the radical right-wing oil bazillionaires the Koch Brothers, who want even more power and more money, and who will run you over to get it.

Who belongs to this group? A whole lot of state and federal legislators, almost all of them Republican and all of them with their hands out for Koch Brothers money, and a whole lot of corporations, among them the following:
- Bayer (yes, the aspirin people)
- AT&T and Verizon
- Dell
- Just about every major US pharma company
- A whole lot of energy companies--Detroit Edison, Duke, Chesapeake, etc.
- Exxon, Amoco, ARCO
- Visa
- United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc.

You can see the whole list at

And what do those corporations and legislators do? The corporations write legislative bills, which are introduced and supported by the legislator members. Naturally, these bills are written to benefit the corporations. But not just benefit--it's a simple case of oil companies writing legislation favoring oil companies, pharmaceutical companies writing legislation to reduce the power of the FDA to protect citizens against bad drugs, energy companies writing legislation to prevent the EPA from protecting the environment. They are so cavalier about their work that bills have actually been introduced printed on ALEC letterhead.

ALEC is probably the biggest enemy of democracy in the country right now, because they are undermining the absolute foundation on which the United States is built--the legislative process, directed by one person/one vote.

ALEC is responsible for the bills that have denied people--usually senior citizens, including a whole lot of US military veterans--the right to vote because they don't have a driver's license.

Wal-Mart is a member (of course). Wal-Mart is also the biggest seller of guns in the country. So all of those insane "shoot to kill" laws that have passed in 24 states--the laws that make it easier for a private person like, say, George Zimmerman to get away with killing someone he was "afraid of" than it is for a US soldier to shoot an enemy? Written by ALEC, introduced and passed by ALEC legislators.

If the truly evil and frightening organization that is ALEC has its way, Social Security and Medicare will be eliminated, there will be no government restrictions on practices like fracking (are you ready to have flames come out of your water taps?), and the BP oil spill will become a common occurrence with no consequences whatsoever. The legislative process will have been destroyed; it's in the process already. If ALEC has its way, the American way of life will cease to exist.

This is the organization to be afraid of. Very afraid. But not so afraid that you won't do something about it--like not buying from these corporations, as much as possible, and writing to tell them why. Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, and McDonald's have all recently bowed to public pressure and quit ALEC. We can see to it that many more do. And if one of your legislators is an ALEC member, kick that person to the curb in the next election. Legislators are supposed to write laws that benefit their constituents, their communities, and their country--not whoever gives them the most money.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Susan G. Komen Foundation & Planned Parenthood: EPIC FAIL

I am one of the millions of American women who have received breast examination and birth control services from Planned Parenthood over the years. When I started freelancing, back in the 1970s, I was without the health insurance that my previous employers had provided. Planned Parenthood was a lifesaver for me, because they provided quality reproductive system care at an affordable price. Wherever I was--Philadelphia, New York, Michigan, Chicago--they were there too, and as a breast cancer survivor, I am extremely grateful to them for the work they have been doing for almost 100 years. (For an excellent history of the organization, read the article in the November 14, 2011 issue of the New Yorker.)

For many women--those who don't have access to good health care because they are poor--Planned Parenthood is literally a lifesaver. In the past five years, Planned Parenthood has performed more than four million breast exams, the vast majority of those for women who do not have regular doctors. Of those, some 170,000 were funded by support from the biggest breast cancer charity in the country, the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Today, the Washington Post reported that Komen has withdrawn its financial support--used mainly for breast exams-- from Planned Parenthood. The reason? Right-wing politics, now supported by Komen. Planned Parenthood also provides therapeutic abortions; they account for about THREE PERCENT of all the healthcare services Planned Parenthood offers. The right wing doesn't like that, and they made it clear to the Komen people. And Komen caved.

This is a disgusting and almost unbelievable turn of events. A charitable foundation that bills itself as one of the biggest supporters of women's health in the country turns on the oldest women's health organization in the country and pulls its support because right wingers disapprove of the abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood.

Of course, the Pink People, the Komen group, have become one of those giant charities that exist more or less to continue their own existence. That pink crap is everywhere--you can even buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer in Komen pink! So maybe it's not so surprising that providing breast cancer screening to poor women isn't so high on their list of priorities.

In any event, for all of you big-hearted people who want to contribute money to breast cancer research, please do NOT do so through Komen any more. If you've signed up for one of their walks, unsign. An excellent alternative is the Army of Women, sponsored by one of the leading breast cancer researchers in the world, Dr. Susan Love. You can donate to her foundation at And while you're roaming around the Internet, let the Komen people know what you think of their unholy alliance with the right wing here: