Category Archives: culture wars

Don’t Say Gay: It’s Baaaaack

Remember that heinous “Don’t Say Gay” bill that got tabled a month or so ago? It’s back, having passed the House Education Committee and on its way to the calendar committee.

Well of course it did! Tennessee’s Republicans were just waiting for everyone to focus on something else like, I dunno, the anti-hand-holding thing, or the anti-science thing or some other crazy thing to embarrass the state.

Here’s the part I love:

But Hohenwald Republican Rep. Joey Hensley said he decided to move his bill again after he said a survey of his district showed “well over 95 percent … don’t want homosexuality discussed in those grade levels.”

Really? A survey? Can I see that survey, please? Can anyone show it to me? What kind of survey … was it an on-line survey, perhaps? How was the question phrased? I am calling bullshit on this survey. I bet if you go door to door and ask the people of Hohenwald their top concern, I doubt this issue even registers. So Rep. Joey Hensley: show us this survey.

Maybe he pulled it out of the same place Arthur Laffer pulled his information about Fred Smith moving FedEx out of Tennessee unless the inheritance tax is repealed. Which is the same place where Ron Ramsey found all of those “employers” claiming to have job openings but no applicants because people would rather collect unemployment. And all of those business people Ramsey knows who claim to be crushed by government red tape, but they’re too afraid to come forward publicly.

I call this place Republican Fantasyland. It’s not that I’m calling you guys liars or anything, it’s just that you have a history of making stuff up to support your ridiculous agenda, and assuming no one will fact-check you. I’m kinda tired of the bullshit, to be quite honest.

You’ve got a survey showing people really are concerned about the rash of elementary school teachers discussing homosexuality in the classroom? I’d love to see it.


Filed under culture wars, gay equality, Tennessee

Gentlemen: It’s The Snatchel Project

There are very few times in my life that I wish I knew how to crochet or knit (my knitting experiments at a young age were disasters). However, I might pick it back up again just to participate in The Snatchel Project.

I would love to send Senator Corker and Senator Alexander a hand-knit vagina. Maybe something like this:

Ladies, if you knit or crochet — and I know there are plenty of you out there — please sign up at the link. They even have patterns. How awesome is that?

’cause we can knit one, purl two and oh yeah: we can determine what’s right for our bodies and our lives without any help from you.


Filed under culture wars, women's rights

So Glad We Voted For The “Reasonable” Republican

Look what happens when you vote Republican, Tennessee:

Statement from Gov. Bill Haslam; April 10, 2012:

Governor: Legislation to Become Law Without My Signature

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on HB 368/SB 893:

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.

“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”

Got that, Tennessee? You didn’t vote for the crazy Ron Ramsey or the crazier, twitchy Zach Wamp. Nope, you voted for the “grown-up.” The non-crazy Republican. The Reasonable One. And guess what you got! You got the same crazy-assed, half-baked crap as if they’d thawed one of those cavemen they’re always finding up in the tundra and stuck him in the governor’s chair. I ask you: what is the difference? Gov. Haslam has a big sad over the crazy stuff the legislature is doing but who cares when it’s still the law!

Way to go! Now we’re going to be churning out a bunch of idiot kids who think Adam and Eve dined on Bronto Burgers and took their pet dinosaur for a stroll through the primordial forest. But what the world needs are not religious nuts, it needs scientists and engineers. Good going, Governor Goofball. So you didn’t sign the bill, what, you lost your veto pen?

I have friends who are leaving this state. Friends with kids. People who do not think this is a good place to raise their children. It’s really hard to argue with them when the governor doesn’t have the balls to tell the extremists in his own party to cut the crap. And if I can’t convince my friends that this is a place you want to live, how are we going to convince major employers to set up shop here?

Nope, Governor Goofball blames the media. How dare they write about the strange things happening in the legislature!


Filed under Bill Haslam, culture wars, education, evolution, Tennessee, Tennessee government, Tennessee politics

Religious Freedom Means We All Have To Live As Catholics

A birth control coverage Xavier University provided for its employees for years is suddenly yanked, for inexplicable reasons:

The controversy prompted Xavier President Michael Graham, a Jesuit priest, to review the health insurance plan offered to the university’s 935 employees. Graham announced this week in a letter to the faculty that the plan will cease to cover contraception on July 1.

Some faculty members who relied on the coverage said they were surprised and upset at the sudden end to benefits, which could raise their out-of-pocket costs for contraception by hundreds of dollars a year.

“It hadn’t occurred to me that this would ever be an issue,” said Tina Davlin-Pater, an associate professor in the department of sports studies.

Davlin-Pater, an athletic trainer who is not Catholic, said she viewed the denial of birth control coverage as an indication that “it’s still OK to discriminate against women in today’s world.

Well, not inexplicable reasons. As Atrios observes,

Obviously this is an incredibly principled move based on deeply held religious beliefs that they discovered about 5 weeks ago.

Heh indeedy. Or, to be more precise:

Some on campus said they suspected Graham had come under intense pressure from the diocese, and perhaps from conservative donors as well, to publicly demonstrate Xavier’s fidelity to Catholic doctrine by cancelling the birth-control coverage.

As has been pointed out a thousands times already, what we really have here is the Catholic church using the United States government to enforce a doctrine it has been unable to get its followers to abide by on its own. And we just don’t do that here in America.

Keep it up, Catholics.


Filed under birth control, culture wars, health insurance, religion, women's rights

Focused Like A Laser On Lady Parts


I mentioned this in comments but I think it’s worth an update: this thing is called the Life Defense Act. I mean, just … consider that for a moment, please. How does publishing the names of doctors who have performed abortions “defend life”? Except by putting a target on their back? Or, no I’m sorry, maybe those are “surveyor’s marks.” You’ve kind of tipped your hand there, Rep. Hill.

Jesus. You people just need to be hauled off to the fucking loony bin.


Remember when the Tennessee Republicans promised to be “focused like a laser” on jobs? Ha ha ha ha ha:

TN bill mandates publication of abortion data

Doctors who perform abortions in Tennessee could see their names listed online, and women who undergo the procedures could be unintentionally identified under a bill pending in the state legislature.


The Life Defense Act contains two parts. The first would require doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital near where they perform abortions, while the second would require the Department of Health to release more information on abortions, including the name of the doctor who performed the procedure and demographics about the women who receive them.

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said at an initial hearing on the bill earlier this month that the reporting requirement writes into law a form that the Department of Health already asks providers to fill out whenever they perform an abortion.

“The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” he said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”

Let’s see. Well, considering how abortion providers are hunted down like stray dogs by the loons in the fetus-fetish cult, I’m going to call this a supremely bad — even dangerous — idea. And considering publishing people’s private medical records is a violation of federal law, it’s probably also unconstitutional. But we all know what this is: just another blatant intimidation tactic by Republican men whose only purpose in life seems to be denying women access to a 100% legal procedure. So, fuck you Rep. Matthew Hill.

Seems like only yesterday we were debating whether the public should have access to lists of gun-carry permit holders. Ever since the Memphis Commercial Appeal published a list of Tennessee’s concealed carry permit holders, the gun loons have been quivering in their britches that someone might wanna steal their guns (this is a perpetual fear among gun loons for some inexplicable reason. Isn’t that why you people have guns in the first place? To protect your stuff?). I can’t remember if House Bill 53 made it all the way through the sausage grinder and became law — I think it ultimately died — but I do remember this being a huge debate in this state, regardless of the outcome. One key part of that law was to make it a crime for a newspaper to do what the Commerical Appeal did. Because … Freedom!

So that’s just so typical: Tennessee Republicans so up in arms about the public knowing who has a gun permit (and yes, there were some convicted felons on that list and people who legally should not have had guns. Woopsies!) But they want to publish the names of abortion providers for some inexplicable reason, when Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in his own church. That is a very real thing that happened, whereas people harassing gun permit holders is some fantasy the perpetually aggrieved conservative right manufactured.

You know, every day it’s some new thing, some new wingnutty indignity that Republicans are throwing at women — at all of us. Some new way of saying, “Hey we think you’re too stupid to know …” (fill in the blank: what a fetus is, what being pregnant means, what happens when you get an abortion, how babies are made, etc. etc. etc.). Some way of saying, “I’m gonna drag this state back to the 19th century if it’s the last thing I do.”

This BS is getting really, really fucking OLD. Every day some new awful thing, I mean, I can’t even muster the outrage any more. It’s just: yeah, Tennesssee Republicans are assholes. Every one of them, even the ones who are supposed to be nice, they just follow along in lockstep behind the chief hater in charge.

Really, what is the deal with these white, middle-aged men in the legislature? You guys just got vaginas on the brain or something? Is that all you people can do is sit around and dream up ways to harass women?

Speaking of harassing women, yesterday Tennessee Republican State Rep. David Hawk was jailed for domestic abuse. I’m not going to say that Rep. Hawk (allegedly!) beat his wife because he’s a Republican but it does seem like Tennessee Republicans are focused like a laser on harassing women, so there’s a certain symmetry to this news. If you spend your days dreaming up ways to hassle women, no one is gonna be shocked that you’re doing it in your private life, too. Just like no one was shocked that Curry Todd was busted stinking drunk with a loaded gun in his car: if you spend your days dreaming up ways drunks in bars can get guns, of course you’re going to be doing that thing in your private life too.

I guess none of us should be surprised. Republicans’ guiding ideology is that government can’t do anything like create jobs, so naturally when a Republican gets political power jobs are the absolute last thing they’re going to focus on. Somehow those things take care of themselves, free market fairy dust and all that. No, the only reason Republicans have for attaining political power is to try to roll back the left’s cultural advances. This is fighting a losing battle because some bells just won’t be unrung, but they’re going to try anyway.

The only question is, how much longer are people going to keep sending the same people into elected office, expecting different results?


Filed under abortion, culture wars, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, women's rights

Too Much Power

I just want to point out one thing in regards to Arizona Bill 2625, the “slut police” bill that allows employers to fire employees for using birth control.

If employers can fire you for using contraception, couldn’t they also fire you for not using it? Seems to me it’s more in an employer’s interest to not have its female employees out on maternity leave and racking up all those pregnancy and baby-birthing expenses, not to mention all of the other issues that crop up when an employee is a mother.

Either way, it’s way too much power for an employer to have. But I just wonder if that argument has been made, and if Arizona Republicans might rethink their support if it were.


Filed under birth control, culture wars, women's rights

Dear GOP: The Internet Is Not Your Friend

Read and marvel at the latest crock to spew from Rick Santorum’s mouth, this one about old people in the Netherlands:

“In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly. And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are euthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country, because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.”

Euthanasia bracelets? Ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands are from euthanasia? Fifty percent of all elderly in that country are put to death involuntarily? Do these statistics make sense to anyone? Where the hell does he get this stuff? Predictably, we are the laughing stock of the Netherlands now. Thanks a lot, asshole.

I’ll tell you where he gets it. This is the kind of nonsense that lands in your e-mail box with a huge list of FW: names. Hey, conservatives: think about what you’re doing, okay? Before you unthinkingly hit the “send” key on that fact-free bullshit your cousin’s best friend got from her sister-in-law’s former Bible study teacher, think about what you’re reading. Stop a moment and consider: do you want this coming out of Rick Santorum’s mouth? Because there’s a very good chance that this is where it will end up. And that means people who aren’t brain dead are going to hear it, and someone might actually check the facts, and then the rest of us will point and laugh, and your favorite candidate’s chances for the presidency go down in flames.

From the WaPo:

Nevertheless, the statistics show it is still a relatively uncommon form of death. In 2010, the number of euthanasia cases reported to one of five special commissions was 3,136, according to their annual report. This was a 19 percent increase over 2009, but “this amounts to 2.3 percent of all 136,058 deaths in the Netherlands in 2010,” said Carla Bundy, spokeswoman for the Dutch embassy in Washington.

At the time of the annual report, the commissions had been able to reach conclusions in 2,667 euthanasia notifications reported to the agency and found only nine in which “the physician had not acted in accordance with the due care criteria,” the annual report said. More than 80 percent of the patients were suffering from cancer; almost 80 percent died at home.

A 2005 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found only a minimal number of the cases — 0.4 percent — in which there was an ending of life without explicit request by the patient. The study concluded the rate had actually been cut in half since the euthanasia law was passed.

These statistics were so at odds with Santorum’s claims that we wondered how he could have thought that 50 percent of the elderly were put to death involuntarily (or that 10 percent of all deaths in Holland were from euthanasia.) Spokesmen for Santorum did not respond to a query, but the best we can tell, he is grossly misinterpreting the results of a 1991 survey known as the Remmelink Report, which was influential in crafting the 2001 law.

And those bracelets? The article quotes Dutch officials saying they don’t exist. They can only conclude that Santorum was talking about living wills, which they do have in the Netherlands and which we also have here in the States.

So, where does this shit come from? I’ll tell you: right wing organizations that have the word “family” in their name. Phony Christian groups located in the hinterlands of Louisiana or Kansas or Georgia, who claim to love the 10 Commandments but keep forgetting about that ninth one (look it up if you don’t know). The Patriot Depot, a massive money-making machine spreading misinformation and lies to the gullible. These folks make some shit up and put it in an e-mail or direct mail piece because the more outrageous and salacious, the more likely some poor sucker will shake the change out of their wallet. These groups are the worst sort of grifters, unworthy of the trust their followers have placed in them. But when nobody bothers to call them on it, the lies just spread like a poison gas around the populace. Until they end up in the mouth of a politician like Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum, of course. Then we all get to point and laugh.

So conservatives, think before you send. You never know where this nonsense will end up.


Filed under 2012 presidential election, culture wars, Rick Santorum

My How Times Have Changed

From the memory hole, John F. Kennedy on Sept. 12, 1960:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.


But let me stress again that these are my views. For contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

Kennedy gave this speech during the 1960 campaign because conservatives were fearmongering about his Catholic faith. They tried to tell voters that a President Kennedy would answer to the Pope instead of the American people and the United States Congress.

My how times have changed. Now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to tell the president what to do, and a bunch of Republicans foamy-mouthed because he won’t obey them.

Good thing we banned that Sharia Law stuff, amiright? Can’t imagine what our Muslim president would do if something pissed off an ayatolla or two. And I’m sure our Republicans would be totally okay with that, right?


Filed under birth control, Christian Right, culture wars

There Is No Catholic Controversy

Oh fer crying out loud. I am so sick of this bullshit about the Catholic church and contraceptives and Obama and healthcare and hair-pulling and fainting couches and aaaaaaggggghhhhhh…..!

This whole thing is made up, people! Hello! How come no one is coming out and saying it? Is everyone blind? Or on drugs? Or just … pretending we don’t live in some crazy-cakes media drama where the manufactured fauxtroversy du jour is trotted out because it’s fucking February and nothing interesting is happening? Again: helloooo?!

Look, the Republicans are stuck with a field of dogs, turnout at their primaries sucks and no one gives a shit about these losers. America’s Goofy Other Party is desperate to attack the Obama Administration on something — anything. With the economy improving and Osama bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean, what have they got? Culture wars, of course.

Here’s how I know the whole “Catholics are outraged about contraceptive prescription coverage” thing is a ginned-up fake:

1- The nation’s largest Catholic university, De Paul University, already provides contraceptive coverage in its health insurance plan. No teeth-gnashing or pearl clutching, and so far Jesus hasn’t sailed out of the heavens to smite anyone.

2- Ditto Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Jesuit University of Scranton, and other Catholic-affiliated institutions.

3- I hate quoting polls because we all know they can be manipulated to say whatever the questioner wants them to. That caveat aside, this survey says the majority of Catholics agree that contraceptive coverage should be part of an employer’s insurance plan. On top of that, let’s be honest here: most American Catholics use birth control. Sorry, church leaders can whine about it and complain about it but we all know it’s true. They lost this battle somewhere around 1977 and I’m just not going to get dragged into some church battle that the leadership lost 30 years ago.

4- Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has decided to grandstand on the issue, Tweeting:


You know this shit is fake when people like Rick Warren decide it’s another opportunity for them to grab the spotlight.

Sorry to be the one to call bullshit here, but somebody had to.

I want to send a special message to my Catholic friends out there, too: the Catholic church has a long and wonderful social justice history, centuries of empowering the poor, ending slavery, and standing up for oppressed peoples all around the world. It’s a shame to see all of that thrown away over the leadership’s desire to hold women hostage to their biology. I hope the Catholic faithful will speak up on this. Time to stop the madness.


Gail Collins nails it. Of the Catholic Bishops she writes:

The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside.

This is exactly right. Catholic institutions like hospitals employ people of all faiths. These employers need to abide by the same rules as everyone else. No one is forcing Catholic employees to use the contraceptive benefit in their insurance plans. What the Catholic bishops are trying to do is get the federal government to enforce the church’s anti-contraception doctrine because they have failed to do so on their own. This isn’t an “assault on religious liberty,” it’s the exact opposite: it’s getting the government to enforce a church rule that no one has followed in decades.

What next, do you want the Dept. of Food & Agriculture to ban all meat sales during Lent?

C’mon, this stuff isn’t hard. We see this for what it is. And I’m just loving John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican Party lining up on the wrong side of yet another issue for the sole purpose of lodging partisan attacks against President Obama.

Really, Republicans? Going after birth control is going to be a winning issue for you in 2012? Ya think so? This has FAIL written all over it.


Filed under 2012 presidential election, birth control, culture wars, rants, religion, religious right

Seeing Your Anti-Woman Bills & Raising You With Demasculating Legislation

I know we’re probably all sick and tired of discussing lady business over here, I know I am. But hey, don’t blame me: you boys are the ones who keep turning lady parts into political footballs, not me. Frankly I’m pretty sick of it.

So. It appears the latest trend in anti-woman, anti-choice state legislation is Democratic-sponsored riders designed to either make a point about how offensive and intrusive these bills are, or actually serving as a valid riposte to this offensive and intrusive legislation.

Last week, you may recall, Virginia State Senator Janet Howell attached an amendment to that state’s fetal ultrasound bill. The fetal ultrasound bill sponsors claimed — over what actual doctors say — that such tests are necessary for medical reasons before performing an abortion. So Howell offered an amendment that said:

“Prior to prescribing medication for erectile dysfunction, a physician shall perform a digital rectal examination and a cardiac stress test,” Howell said, reading the amendment aloud. “Informed consent for these procedures shall be given at least 24 hours before the procedures are performed.

The amendment barely failed, which is too bad, but it apparently inspired pro-choice legislators in Oklahoma, where a fetal personhood bill defining life as beginning at the moment of fertilization is making its way through the state legislature. Via Jezebel, State Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City submitted an “Every Sperm Is Sacred” amendment which read:

However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.

She later withdrew the amendment, but not before another Democratic legislator added an amendment of his own:

In response to that bill, Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, who is strongly pro-choice, offered an amendment that would make the father of an unborn child financially responsible for its mother’s health care, housing, transportation and nourishment while she is pregnant.

Wilson’s amendment failed.

Well of course it did. But you know, Oklahoma: it takes two to tango. If you’re going to make women legally responsible for their blastocysts, then the men who helped put them there need to chip in. Fair is fair.

Gender equity: could it be the new pink ribbon?


Filed under abortion, culture wars, feminism, women's rights