The Politics of Abortion- Sadism as Politics: Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Anti-Abortion Politics and Kicking the Poor
The victory in Texas on Senate Bill 5 – the successful filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis and the crowd of pro-choice Texans who packed the Capitol to stand with her, who shouted down the vote in what Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst petulantly called “Occupy Wall Street tactics” – may be short-lived, as Governor (and failed Republican presidential candidate) Rick Perry has already declared that he’s calling another special legislative session to pass the bill. As if that’s not enough, Perry gave a speech Thursday at the National Right to Life conference and used Davis’ personal life as an example of someone who was “born into difficult circumstances,” the daughter of a single mom and a teen mother herself. Perry’s immediate need not just to argue with Wendy Davis and the people who stood with her but to shame them personally, to tell a crowd that “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done” is just the latest reminder of what this kind of anti-abortion politics is really about: power. It’s not just a tactic to move toward banning abortion slowly, inch by inch, hoping that we don’t notice our rights disappearing. This strategy of passing more and more restrictions on how and when and where and with whose permission one can obtain an abortion is itself a method of demonstrating and reiterating power over our bodies; it’s a sharp reminder that they exercise this power largely because they can. Because as members of a privileged class – economically and politically as well as by virtue of race and gender – they will wield that power, not for our own good but in spite of our desires, and the more we scream the more pleasure they take in their victory. The discipline, Perry’s comment shows, is the point. Perry, and his comrade-in-sadism Paul Ryan, aren’t just anti-abortionists, of course. They’re also big fans of punishing and controlling the poor – usually imagined, often not entirely correctly, as non-white people. Ryan has proposed drastic cuts to Social Security, wanted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, and just last week voted to support an amendment that would boot people off food assistance if they can’t find a job; Perry wants to drug test the unemployed and recipients of food stamps and presided over the largest cuts to public education since World War II. And of course, the granddaddy of today’s vicious, sadistic politics is Newt Gingrich, about to be launched back into our living rooms via CNN’s resurrected Crossfire program. Americans remember him recently telling us that low-income children should work as janitors in schools and should remember him, too, as the driving force behind the 1990s welfare “reform” signed and promoted by Bill Clinton. Welfare reform is perhaps the perfect policy to demonstrate where these issues come together. The Gingriches of the world would deny low-income parents the right to plan their families, and then would punish them for having families at all by forcing them into dead-end low-wage jobs, all the while beating them up rhetorically as well for not being the kind of full-time parents that conservatives dream of. Reproduction is always another pathway to punishment. And we shouldn’t forget that the night before Perry spoke these words, he presided over Texas’ 500th execution since resuming capital punishment in 1982 – of a woman, Kimberly McCarthy, convicted of the 1997 murder of her neighbor during a robbery. Perry’s been in charge of more than half of those 500 executions – 261, to be exact – over the course of his three terms as governor, more than any other governor in the country. In consensual S&M, the exchange of power, the restriction of freedom down to what a dominant allows, is done for pleasure, for boundary-pushing. It’s about control willingly given up – without that willingness, play violence turns real. The thrill is seeing how far you can go, not in actually being abused. In the game that Perry and his comrades are playing, there has been no informed consent; there is no safe-word we can use to stop the pain, and the “no” of thousands of Texas women is just an excuse to try it again. We may think we see the psychosexual glint in Perry’s eye when he talks about women “screaming,” but what he reveals is much bigger than a personal kink – it’s the connections between sadistic economic policy, sadistic reproductive health policy (if you can call it that) and sadistic “justice” policy. These issues are of a piece, and the piece is control. Many of us like to point out that abortion is an economic issue, and this is certainly true, but what Perry shows us is that even economic policy is about more than money. It’s not enough that unemployment remains high and the people in Texas who are finding jobs are largely finding them in low-wage, no-security industries; no, he has to keep finding ways to turn the rack. A thoroughly cowed working class that has to beg for scraps is less likely to rise up and exercise its own power when the punishment for doing so grows ever harsher. Those of us who’ve spent time in and around the labor movement know that the boss is often willing to grant workers a raise if they’ll give up their demands for a union – giving up a bit of power and control to the workers is infinitely more threatening to bosses than money. They regularly shell out plenty of cash to anti-union “consultants” to make sure their underlings remain suitably scared. The question is not money, but power. Take this line of thought a step further and include this week’s Voting Rights Act ruling, a question purely and honestly of power – not fairness or rights but of political power. State governments – like Rick Perry’s Texas – have gone about redistricting to draw bright slashes through communities of color that could exercise power at the ballot box by acting together to send representatives that actually speak for them to the legislature. They’re deliberately attacking the concentrated political power of those communities. Perry also pushed for and signed into law (in another “emergency” session; taking away rights is often an “emergency” for Perry) a voter ID bill that made “illegal voting” a felony, required one of five acceptable forms of picture ID, and was of course decried as racist by representatives whose districts are largely populated by people of color. The same people whose voting rights are being attacked are the ones who face incarceration and execution at hugely disproportionate rates, and they are the ones who will suffer the most if Perry’s anti-abortion bill makes it through. Those of us who don’t fit into the categories singled out for special punishment are supposed to be grateful that we’re better off, and keep voting the Perrys and Dewhursts and Ryans into office. It works more often than most of us would like to admit. Texas’ new district maps are legal now unless Congress – the current makeup of which is itself the result of gerrymandering that allowed a Republican majority to hold without holding a majority of the votes – acts. Of course, Perry can’t gerrymander the state’s borders (yet) and it’s there that we might hold out hope for change. He might be able to redistrict Wendy Davis out of her seat, but if Texans decide to fight back, maybe they can put her – or someone like her – in his job. The only way to beat Perry and his ilk is to be as merciless with them as they would be with us. Organize, shut them down, and throw them out. Via http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17314-sadism-as-politics-on-rick-perry-paul-ryan-anti-abortion-politics-power-and-kicking-the-poor (2)
HOUSTON — In the weeks since President Obama’s re-election, Republicans around the country have been wondering how to proceed. Some conservatives in Texas have been asking a far more pointed question: how to secede.
Secession fever has struck parts of Texas, which Mitt Romney won by nearly 1.3 million votes.
Sales of bumper stickers reading “Secede” — one for $2, or three for $5 — have increased at TexasSecede.com. In East Texas, a Republican official sent out an e-mail newsletter saying it was time for Texas and Vermont to each “go her own way in peace” and sign a free-trade agreement among the states.
A petition calling for secession that was filed by a Texas man on a White House Web site has received tens of thousands of signatures, and the Obama administration must now issue a response. And Larry Scott Kilgore, a perennial Republican candidate from Arlington, a Dallas suburb, announced that he was running for governor in 2014 and would legally change his name to Larry Secede Kilgore, with Secede in capital letters. As his Web page, secedekilgore.com, puts it: “Secession! All other issues can be dealt with later.”
In Texas, talk of secession in recent years has steadily shifted to the center from the fringe right. It has emerged as an echo of the state Republican leadership’s anti-Washington, pro-Texas-sovereignty mantra on a variety of issues, including health care and environmental regulations. For some Texans, the renewed interest in the subject serves simply as comic relief after a crushing election defeat.
But for other proponents of secession and its sister ideology, Texas nationalism — a focus of the Texas Nationalist Movement and other groups that want the state to become an independent nation, as it was in the 1830s and 1840s — it is a far more serious matter.
The official in East Texas, Peter Morrison, the treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party, said in a statement that he had received overwhelming support from conservative Texans and overwhelming opposition from liberals outside the state in response to his comments in his newsletter. He said that it may take time for “people to appreciate that the fundamental cultural differences between Texas and other parts of the United States may be best addressed by an amicable divorce, a peaceful separation.”
The online petitions — created on the We the People platform at petitions.whitehouse.gov — are required to receive 25,000 signatures in 30 days for the White House to respond. The Texas petition, created Nov. 9 by a man identified as Micah H. of Arlington, had received more than 116,000 signatures by Friday. It asks the Obama administration to “peacefully grant” the withdrawal of Texas, and describes doing so as “practically feasible,” given the state’s large economy.
Residents in other states, including Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Louisiana and Oklahoma, have submitted similar petitions, though none have received as many signatures as the one from Texas.
A White House official said every petition that crossed the signature threshold would be reviewed and would receive a response, though it was unclear precisely when Micah H. would receive his answer.
Gov. Rick Perry, who twice made public remarks in 2009 suggesting that he was sympathetic to the secessionist cause, will not be signing the petition. “Governor Perry believes in the greatness of our union, and nothing should be done to change it,” a spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said in a statement. “But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government.”
The secession movement in Texas is divergent, with differences in goals and tactics. One group, the Republic of Texas, says that secession is unnecessary because, it claims, Texas is an independent nation that was illegally annexed by the United States in 1845. (The group’s leader and other followers waged a weeklong standoff with the Texas Rangers in 1997 that left one of its members dead.) Mr. Kilgore, the candidate who is changing his middle name, said he had not signed the White House petition because he did not believe that Texans needed to ask Washington for permission to leave.
“Our economy is about 30 percent larger than that of Australia,” said Mr. Kilgore, 48, a telecommunications contractor. “Australia can survive on their own, and I don’t think we’ll have any problem at all surviving on our own in Texas.”
Few of the public calls for secession have addressed the messy details, like what would happen to the state’s many federal courthouses, prisons, military bases and parklands. No one has said what would become of Kevin Patteson, the director of the state’s Office of State-Federal Relations, and no one has asked the Texas residents who received tens of millions of dollars in federal aid after destructive wildfires last year for their thoughts on the subject.
But all the secession talk has intrigued liberals as well. Caleb M. of Austin started his own petition on the White House Web site. He asked the federal government to allow Austin to withdraw from Texas and remain part of the United States, “in the event that Texas is successful in the current bid to secede.” It had more than 8,000 signatures as of Friday.
A version of this article appeared in print on November 24, 2011
With more than 28,600 signatures collected since Nov. 9, a White House website petition from an Arlington, Texas man has attracted enough support to trigger an automatic review by the Obama administration.
Petitions submitted through the Obama White House’s “We the People” program “require a response” from the administration after they have attracted 25,000 signatures.
The Daily Caller reported Monday morning that since the day after President Barack Obama’s re-election, citizens from 20 states had submitted petitions asking for peaceful separations from the United States.
By Monday afternoon that number had grown to 25.
Gov. Rick Perry’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheDC. The White House has also not returned phone calls or responded to emails about whether the administration will give secession requests serious consideration.
In 2009 Perry told the Associated Press that Texans weren’t likely to turn a famous tourism slogan — “Texas: It’s like a whole other country” — into reality.
But ”there’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said.
“We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”
Also in 2009, Perry told a group of bloggers that “when we [Texas] came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”
His recorded comments became fodder for left-wing commentators and columnists.
In addition to the Texas petition currently pending on the White House’s “We the People” Web page, other petitions represent citizens of 19 states.
Other than Texas, states with secession-related petitions pending in a public area of the White House’s website now include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Three states — Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina — are each represented by two competing petitions.
In addition, TheDC has confirmed that citizens from Alaska, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have submitted petitions. Those efforts have not yet attracted 150 signatures, the minimum required for the White House to make them publicly available.
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The political prize that eluded him in 2008, and his father four decades before, had seemed tantalisingly close. It was all the more remarkable give that his roller-coaster campaign threatened to come off the rails early on, before roaring back to life following his first energetic television debate.
But within hours of arriving in Boston to watch the results pour in with his family and advisors, the television networks had called the election for his rival.
What may rankle most with Romney is that the obstacles which prevented him from beating an incumbent saddled with high unemployment and a disappointing first election term were largely of his own making.
But there was no one else to blame for the verbal gaffes, his comments about the 47 per cent of people on welfare, his failure to produce tax returns or his constant shape-shifting on fundamental policy issues.
Ultimately, voters never warmed or trusted him in sufficient numbers – and Romney never effectively made the case for himself.
47 per cent
The voice on the secretly recorded video was steady, and the message was severe. “There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” he said at a private fundraiser.
“All right, there are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
It took Romney days to express regret at his comments.
Coming after a slew of ads that accused his investment company, Bain Capital, of vulture capitalism and outsourcing jobs, the damage was devastating, particularly among the blue-collar vote he so badly needed to secure.
Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns gave Democrats even more ammunition. What he did release showed that he had paid a meagre 14 per cent, significantly less than average workers.
“What else is he hiding?” a narrator in an Obama ad asked viewers over the summer.
It was Romney’s decision not to release any earlier tax returns, on the basis that it would play into the hands of the Democrats’ campaign.
But it all hinted at a bigger problem.
Romney, the affluent son of a former car industry chief and state governor, was deeply uncomfortable discussing his wealth.
He did a good job of completing the caricature of a one per center by boasted that his wife had “a couple of Cadillacs” and making a $10,000 bet with his Republican primary rival, governor Rick Perry, over health care policy.
Democrats spent millions of dollars during the summer portraying him as a vulture capitalist, happy to ship jobs overseas in order to maxmise his financial returns.
Yet, these were the same ads – and in some cases, the same individuals – that had been used eight years earlier in his unsuccessful Senate campaign bid against Ted Kennedy.
Neither Romney, nor his campaign, insisted they were vastly exaggerated, but they never did enough to rebut them. The mud stuck. It hardly matters when he went on to tell voters at a rally in New Hampshire that he “liked to fire people”.
It was no surprise that Romney would seek to make a play for the middle ground after securing a nomination.
But the sheer number of about-turns gave the impression of a candidate with no real conviction.
He largely disowned the health insurance policy introduced in Massachusetts as governor (which became the model for Obamacare) and embraced the coal industry he had denounced a few years earlier.
In order to appeal to the his Republican base, he renounced more liberal position he held in the past on abortion. It all allowed the Obama campaign to characterise these many changes as “Romnesia.” But voters – both Democrats and Republicans – didn’t forget these about-turns.
Lack of personality
Ironically, it was only during the final weeks of the campaign that some of Romney’s personality began to come through.
For most of the campaign, he had avoided revealing anything to do with Mormon faith besides clipped overall generalisations. Yet, there was aspects of it which reflected well on him. His personal engagement with charities were considerable. He have millions to voluntary groups and spent significant period of time with ordinary church members, often allowing poorer visitors from abroad visiting Boston for medical attention to stay in his home.
All in all, Romney never gave the public a good enough reason to vote for him as a person. He never effectively made the case for Romney himself, instead allowing others to define him.
With less than one week before we find out how voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington will decide on ballot measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol, polls indicate there’s a very good chance at least one of these states will make history by enacting the world’s first-ever marijuana legalization law.
While the movement to reform marijuana laws has been steadily picking up steam in recent years, with rising national polling support and a growing number of states allowing for the medical use of marijuana, having the voters of a state opt to legalize and tax marijuana for adult use would propel the issue to the forefront of the mainstream political scene like never before.
The three legalization initiatives on state ballots are not only drawing support from a large number of voters, but are garnering endorsements from newspaper editorial boards, civic groups, civil rights leaders, celebrities and even some members of law enforcement.
But guess who else is speaking out in support of changing marijuana laws? Check out the slideshow below for a top 10 list of the most unexpected allies in the fight against marijuana prohibition.
These quotes are sourced from the new website http://www.MarijuanaMajority.com, which compiles quotes and videos from prominent people across the political spectrum who support reforming marijuana laws.