If They Get Rights, Then Nobody Gets Rights

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID), I don’t think, are blocking the Violence Against Woman Act on the grounds that they hate women. I’m sure they’ll all tell you that they love women. And that they treat their wives well and want their daughters to grow up to be strong and capable and even independent.

Their objections arise because they refuse to allow undocumented immigrants, internationally trafficked sex slaves, transgendered*, and indigenous women who live on tribal lands the same protections that other American women receive from domestic abuse – which, sadly, is very limited as it stands.

So, Cruz, Lee, Scott, Rubio, Johanns, Paul, Roberts and Risch hate immigrant and First Nation women. And they hate them so much that they’re willing to dismiss the needs of all other women in the United States.

No, wait.

I guess they DO hate all women.

Courtesy of FB’s One Million Vaginas
Feel free to print this poster out and defecate on it.

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*When I first wrote this post, I had forgotten about the language that would also protect international sex slaves and trans people as well (additionally, men who are also victims of domestic and sexual violence). I apologize for those glaring omissions.

White Rapists, Native Women, and Diplomatic Immunity

I’m encouraged – and I want to talk more in depth about this – that rape culture in the US among males and females is in sharp decline the last few decades. It’s truly magnificent. It’s like racial oppression’s decline in government and society since the 60’s. Which, as I’m sure long-time readers of the Left Cheek will know, doesn’t mean that we can claim victory. Anybody who’s been paying attention to politics and national events will know that the US still remains a very racist and misogynist county. Not just among the Republicans, either.

But, damn, they sure know how to illustrate and blow up trends. Take these two coming in at a perfect storm under nationalist Eric Cantor:

[The Violence Against Woman Act], which has been reauthorized consistently for 18 years with little fanfare, was, for the first time, left to expire in Sept. 2011. The sticking point has been new protections for three particularly vulnerable groups: undocumented immigrants, members of the LGBT community and Native Americans. The additions are supported by Democrats and opposed by House Republicans, who are calling them politically driven.

(All boldings, italicizing and underlinings are mine. I’d add arrows if I could.)

Only in retrograde ConservativeLand can you decry protections for vulnerable groups as being “politically driven.”

Finally, after stalling on these amendments and letting the bill expire in September of this year, House Majority Leader Cantor is meeting with Joe Biden to push through a bill (House Republicans pushed through a version of the bill without the amendments earlier). And yet, Cantor is stalling on one of the issues.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy… explained the provision, probably the least understood of the three additions in the Senate bill: It gives tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands. Currently, federal and state law enforcement have jurisdiction over domestic violence on tribal lands, but in many cases, they are hours away and lack the resources to respond to those cases. Tribal courts, meanwhile, are on site and familiar with tribal laws, but lack the jurisdiction to address domestic violence on tribal lands when it is carried out by a non-Native American individual.

Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, if a crime is committed by a tourist in another land and to a native of that land, you expect the place where the crime is committed to have jurisdiction, right? Especially since the place is, y’know, local and therefore, can access the scene of the crime and the victim and any available witnesses and parties at a reasonable time and with adequate knowledge of the local lay of the land. It’s very reasonable, considering that other jurisdictions are usually busy enough trying to take care of their own areas. I mean, you would assume it was reasonable.

Well, unless the perp happens to be male and American and the alleged victim happens to be female and indigenous (We’ve already talked about how indigenous people are immensely mistreated by colonial and dominant [read: White] cultures). I mean, how dare anyone suggest that another country would or could possibly try a good ol’ boy USA si-ti-zin.

That means non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on tribal lands are essentially “immune from the law, and they know it,” Leahy said.

They can get away with rape – because they have…

Diplomatic Immunity!
image courtesy of

As a result of this immunity, 86% (yes. Eighty-six PERCENT) of rapes of tribal women on tribal lands are done by non-tribal men, according to a report by Amnesty International.

Now, this report is important to read. Because in it, you don’t just get a story of an angry white male leftist angry with the angry white male Republicans and so forth. This isn’t just a story of injustice in Washington, DC or the injustice of voting for the wrong guy. No, that’s an obvious component of injustice. But the real injustice is how Native women are treated for the fact that they are Natives and they are women – and then that they are sexual abuse survivors.

Because we can talk all day about who is obstructing whose what in the less-than-sacred halls of Wallhalla, District of Columbia. But what of a support worker near Fairbanks who had been shamed into anonymity by the sheer factor that she is Indigenous, female, and had been sexually assaulted?

In July 2006 an Alaska Native woman in Fairbanks reported to the police that she had been raped by a non-Native man. She gave a description of the alleged perpetrator and city police officers told her that they were going to look for him. She waited for the police to return and when they failed to do so, she went to the emergency room for treatment. A support worker told Amnesty International that the woman had bruises all over her body and was so traumatized that she was talking very quickly. She said that, although the woman was not drunk, the Sexual Assault Response Team nevertheless “treated her like a drunk Native woman first and a rape victim second”. The support worker described how the woman was given some painkillers and some money to go to a non-Native shelter, which turned her away because they also assumed that she was drunk: “This is why Native women don’t report. It’s creating a breeding ground for sexual predators.

This view of Disposable Lives is prevalent in most cultures. But why, Oh why, in such a “Christian”-predominant one as the US. As Alaska? Why treat others as less-thans when we are all human and, according to Christian theology, all made in the image of God and all bearing the love of the Christ? Why are these lives treated as if they are invisible? Why are there stories trivialized that – even in the protection of – they are treated as political fodder?

Over the past decade, federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the USA. Data gathered by the US Department of Justice indicates that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general.
A US Department of Justice study on violence against women concluded that 34.1 per cent of American Indian and Alaska Native women – or more than one in three – will be raped during their lifetime; the comparable figure for the USA as a whole is less than one in five.
Shocking though these statistics are, it is widely believed that they do not accurately portray the extent of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.
“Most women who are beaten or raped don’t report to the police. They just shower and go to the clinic [for treatment].”
Native American survivor of sexual violence (identity withheld), February 2006
Amnesty International’s interviews with survivors, activists and support workers across the USA suggest that available statistics greatly underestimate the severity of the problem. In the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, for example, many of the women who agreed to be interviewed could not think of any Native women within their community who had not been subjected to sexual violence.

These stories are ignored, these women abused disproportionately, these survivors out of reach of justice and appropriate medical attention. This continues to happen not just because Eric Cantor is a big meanie. But because in the big scheme of things, what does it matter if Native women and their communities are adequately prepared and taken care of?

The tremendous – as in Visible-From-Space – racism and sexism  in the GOP isn’t helping. After all, just because you don’t care about certain groups or they’re invisible from your point of sight doesn’t mean they don’t need protections. But not only that, there is the hubris that only those who come up through and are within a White Man’s system of “justice” are capable of administering justice to White Men.

The two sources say, to Cantor’s credit, his staff has said they’re willing to try to come up with other solutions to responding to violence against women on tribal lands, as long as the solution doesn’t give tribes jurisdiction over the matter.

That, as you may have noticed, is NOT to Cantor’s credit.

The Trouble with Powerful Men and Political Hacks

A couple weeks ago I read an interview where a hospice worker made an observation that how we live our lives demonstrates how we end our lives. Some go out fighting every step of the way; some go out peacefully; some with reservations. But you can generally tell how they’re going to go out the way they’ve acted the last forty, sixty, eighty, hundred years.

I’m becoming convinced that Billy Graham’s greatest downfall is his semi-worship of powerful men. Often, those powerful figures were presidents, from Nixon to Clinton and most inbetween (save Carter. Odd, that). These men often benefited from the relationships with one of America’s most beloved and trusted public and religious figures. But now the most powerful man in his vicinity is his son, Franklin.

But Franklin doesn’t have the advantage of being an actual politician who can inspire roughly half the population of the United States. He did not rise through the fire of political discourse and meddling and the tribulation of trying to please most despite the impossible odds. He is a political hack who only needs to please a certain (and generally white, privileged, male-dominated) Evangelical base. But he is shrewd enough to recognize that his father’s legacy is stronger and wider than his will ever be. As long as he can ride those coattails, he will. As long as he can convince his locked-away father – who is losing breath and consciousness – that he is taking care of him and convince his followers that the words that are supposed to be representative of Billy Graham are actually Billy Graham’s – such as the recent two-page ad in the WSJ.- then, glory be! Franklin Graham the scam artist/political hack can get away with destroying a legacy and helping to steal an election at the same time.

I’m convinced that’s what’s going on here. The problem is that Billy Graham has had this moral character failure (trusting powerful men) threading through his life, and that his son – a moral failure himself – is exploiting that.

Not only is Franklin Graham purposefully and sloppily burning through the last vestiges of respect that his father earned through a scandal-free public life in order to establish his own credentials within the Fundamentalist/Evangelical Moral-less Majority (because, really, what else does he have?), but Billy is letting him do so because he fundamentally trusts powerful men. I recognize that draw, sadly, because I’m wired to think that way too. Yet, I’ve been on the other side of privilege and seen what those same men have done to my non-white/non-male cis/non-middle class friends and family and neighbors and students long enough to recognize that Navin Johnson’s father was right.

Especially if that whitey is a middle aged no-good-nic son taking advantage of his late-stage Parkinson’s nonagenarian father.

Edit:
I hasten to add that I do not believe that the elder Graham is cognizant enough to know what he is ascribing his name to. Nor that he believes nor certainly says that which is being applied to him. I’m confident that Franklin comes to him, asks him to sign or if he will agree with some document or photo and Billy, not being fully aware but trusting his son, nods in approval, or some such way shows approval. Not of the content, but of whatever it is that he thinks that Franklin is asking of him. He trusts him that much. To his detriment.

Hey, Ho, Sheriff Joe!

someecards.com - Thousands converged on Phoenix to protest Sheriff Arpaio's cruel punishments. He was too busy trying on pink underwear to notice.

One of the ways Sheriff Joe Arpaio humiliates his prisoners (many of whom are guilty of the very crime of trying to find an honest life in the US) is by forcing them to trot out in pink underwear.

Just because he has a fetish and he has authority does not give him the right to make grown men fulfill his fantasies against their wills.

Whitey Colonies on the Moon

Presidential hopeful Newt “Butterbean” Gingrich, if elected, promises, “by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American.”

He must be ironically referencing Gil-Scot Heron:

A rat done bit my sister Nell, with whitey on the moon
Her face and arm began to swell, and whitey’s on the moon
I can’t pay my doctor bills, but whitey’s on the moon…

Newt Gingrich seems to pop up everywhere

Cain: The "Real Black" Candidate

Caution: Reading Facebook during any of the elongated election seasons can be dangerous for your health sanity. Consider it a tip courtesy of the jasdye.

For example, one man, completely unprompted, posted the following comment:

So you hypocrites call Republicans/Conservatives racists even when many of them support a genuine Black American?

The obvious and short answer is yes. Yes, we do. As to why, the answer to that is in the question. This concerns me as a person and a blogger and a Christian in a way that is central to my blog here: We continue to talk down to people who are different than us without trying to understand where they are coming from in the first place. As a white, male,heterosexual, American Christian who allies and aligns himself with those from all over the socio/economic/racial/ethnic/spiritual world – whether by accident or not – I’m highly aware of the ways that other wmhac’s fall short in this area and I cannot be silent on these issues. So, for a group of whites to identify who is and who isn’ta “true” member of the African American community is beyond the *ahem* pale…

It was bad enough when my African American students (and some friends and classmates before that) would say that another African American isn’t “black enough”. As limited as that thinking was, at least it was an internal critique. It would be like a Panamanian saying that another Panamanian isn’t really Panamanian based on preconceptions of what makes a Panamanian.

But neo-cons and Republicans accusing Barack Obama of not being black enough is more like an American saying a Panamanian isn’t REALLY a Panamanian – but the American doesn’t even know in what hemisphere Panama is.

You (Ain’t Neva’) Lie!

I stand and scream with my home state US representative, Joe “You Lie!” Walsh. It is high time that we nasty liberals and so-called “fact”-so-called “-finders” stop blaming our economic woes on the banks and place it where it belongs: on the poor and laborers who don’t know how the economic system is rigged against them.

We should stop blaming the financial institutions for leveraging purchasing power within the halls of Congress to get their way and deregulate themselves so that they are without accountability. After all, as Walsh notes, that was the work of “your Congress.” And he should know, as he is exactly the kind of congressperson who would work towards that goal.

We should also stop blaming the banks for passing on dirty, unstable bonds to themselves while rating them AAA. Because the banks themselves gave the highest possible credit ratings to their banks’ own faulty loans, which only the banks knew not to do, since the banks shut down all effective regulation overseeing the banks. But you can’t blame the banks for that. After all, they were just trying to make a quick, easy (trillion) buck($), and it’s un-American to find fault in that! Who do you think you are, anyway!?!

We should also stop trying to blame the banks for betting against themselves. If America is a casino, the banks are the house. Nevermind that the risk of the current economic system that makes it operate like a casino was also made possible by the banks…

And please, stop blaming the banks for the housing crisis in the first place. After all, they were forced into making all those trillions by tapping into an untapped market back when they forced Congress to make it easier for them to tap into that untapped market. You can’t blame them for forcing the crash on us! As Walsh so eloquently points out, we should blame poor minorities and struggling working class people for wanting to live in homes. His point being that most people should be content living in a sidecar or in a four-walled box.

Just ask his kids.

Lastly, I believe we should stop finding fault with Rep. Walsh’s homicidal outbursts of venom and rage. After all, he wouldn’t feel such an urge to interrupt constituents and presidents if they wouldn’t bother him with pesky “facts.”

Just ask his kids.

Hollow Ween

Slightly edited exchange on Facebook about giving away – or not – candy on Halloween.

Starts when a friend of mine, John G., ribs his numerous conservative/Republican friends with this provocative status update:

Tonight, I will answer the door as a Republican. When asked for candy, I will tell them that I am not interested in giving them handouts, but I DID throw some candy up on the roof and if they want to stick around and wait for the “trickle-down” effect, they are welcome to. Then I will make them show me their green cards.

A few comments later, one of the numerous replies:

You can’t be a democrat unless you first took from the kids that went out and collected their own, and then gave that, plus a healthy subsidy that you borrowed from the store on credit to the ones who stayed at home and didn’t make the effort. Then, you went back and arrested the parents of the kids who went out for abuse because they dressed them up funny.

Now, how would you reply to that?

I kinda think it’s important we consider that because people are watching. And many of them simply don’t know what to make of such dirty, filthy assumptions. I know sometimes the hypocrisy and blatant contempt for working families boils into red hot rage in my skin. I waited a few minutes and gave my reply:

that’s a bit of class warfare, don’tchathink? After all, it’s not like all of the wealthiest ten percent – who receive the most money from the government – are lazy. There are a few, to be honest. But there are also model, hard working members of the corporate welfare crew.

Fire Them!

So, the president of the United States has been blocked from doing any major job creation through the use of the federal government – even for much-needed infrastructure projects. The reason, we are told, is because this is not the obligation of the federal government, of the president or government.

It is the job of the Job Creators (T) to create jobs. Job Creators is the proper title for what progressives have class-warfaringly been calling the Uber-Wealthy, the richest 1% of Americans who only control a mere 42% of the nation’s wealth.

But since our unemployment levels are consistently steady at over 9% (and twice as high for the Black population) since they’ve assumed sole responsibility well over a year ago, and since they have yet to report their plans to the un- and under-employed, nor have they set up an accountability system with those of us who create their wealth for them, it seems obvious to me that the Job Creators are not up to the task.

My fellow Americans, I propose that we fire them.

That’s right. Call up security. Call ’em to the office, give them their pink slips and recover our property.

Let’s start with John Fleming, the poor multimillionaire who only has $400,000 left every year after he’s done paying his bills, feeding his family, paying taxes, business expenses, and all that big mean stuff that the rest of us poor people don’t have to deal with. $400,000 that he is using for …what??

That is all…

Corporate Media’s Gravy Boats

Gotta hand it to Sarah Palin for holding it all in. Say what you want about her (or don’t. I’m rather tired of her. And this isn’t about her), she’s not as explosive in public as her private persona is known to be – or as the person who handles her Twitter and Facebook accounts is. Breitbart, on the other hand, is who he always is – a blowhard cynic and full of big, fat stupid.

It needs to be pointed out, of course, that the intent of this whole fiasco was to intimidate the pro-union protesters. The fact that the Tea Party would be shouted down isn’t necessarily rude – it’s protective.

And sweet, delectable, and frothy irony.

But what is particularly damning in this video is the media’s take. Fox and CNN (and MSNBC and ABC and NBC and CBS and the New York Times and HuffPo and the Chicago Tribune…) are not only or even primarily concerned about providing and/or analyzing information and happenings. They certainly are not objective – no one can be – though there can be balance with multiple perspectives. The problem is that news is not about the news anymore. It is not about public interest as it was in its heyday in the middle of the twentieth century. It is a business.

The questions are no longer, “What matters? What is important?” The overriding question is “What sells?“- because the primary voice is not the public interest, but the business community. News organizations and shows rarely rock the boat, because they need to keep the boat going as long as possible to keep their shows going as popular as long as possible but also to keep their advertisers and corporate heads happy.

The narrative of Sarah Palin – as outdated and irrelevant as she may be to most voters – as a relevant iconoclast and/or lightning rod is still fascinating enough to draw in numerous viewers. Whether or not they love her is inconsequential; she attracts them and that’s all she needs to do. And if they allow her to be publicly embarrassed, her star will fall faster than it has already.

And CNN/Fox and their corporate parents would instantly lose a steady (though declining) gravy boat. Instead of allowing it to ride out to its gravy-laden pasture.

Santorum: (2) Fetishizing the Crusades

Words. Fail.
If you thought that googling “santorum” left your mind dirty, you haven’t heard enough Santorum.

Rick Santorum: The Crusades Get A Bad Rap! | TPMDC

If you were worried there wouldn’t be a 2012 candidate touting the pro-Crusades platform, then today is your lucky day!

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told a South Carolina audience yesterday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”…

“[American liberals] hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.” Sanoturm also suggested that American involvement in the Middle East is part of our “core American values.”

“What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers,” Santorum continued. “What we’re talking about are core American values. ‘All men are created equal’ — that’s a Christian value, but it’s an American value.”

He’ll probably go the way of an uncharismatic Sarah Palin, but I’ll still file this under Reasons Why I’m Embarrassed to Be a Christian. It’s hard to see how someone can once claim that the Equality principal is a virtuous and Christian one – one from his own legacy – and then deny that legacy to Muslims and non-Westerners (read, White Europeans).

Or to claim that others have no sense of history while showing such a blatant disregard for current or academic or religious history outside what he learned in fourth grade.
To be fair, though, the Crusades are a lot more complex than current trends suggest. But to imply that they were not acts of aggression (at first, they were largely for protection. But then empires and bloodlust, etc, etc…) – much like whatever war there is between Christendom and Islam Santorum seems to be dreamily envisioning here – is pure Westernized, ahistorical, War-on-Brown-People Fetishism.
Which may well be another definition for Santorum.

Merry Christmas, from the Great White North

Sarah Palin vs Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, courtesy of the Great Coco!

Is this update fair? Should it have been Bambi’s mom instead?

Speaking of Disney classics, I’ve just been watching (many times, on repeat) Dumbo with my daughter. Most of the Disney films deal with orphaned kids, but in this case, the loving, doting parent is neither murdered nor missing (and we see some tender moments between mother and child. In fact, the whole first fifteen minutes are told through her perspective) but is sent away to solitary confinement, leaving the child to – as all other Disney protagonists do – grow up on his own with the aid of a parental surrogate.

Nothing to do with the previous post (at least not without coffee and a loooot of stretching), but thought I’d share.