Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “congressman todd akin”

Convention Season – The Mirror Never Lies

I have already admitted to being a recovering addict of West Wing. One of the side effects of this unfortunate illness is a consistent belief that our political leaders are intelligent and always strive to tell the truth as they see it. Congressman Todd Akin managed to dispel the first and promote the second with disturbing ease last week.

I’m watching snippets of the Republican Convention and I am struck by the desire to sell an illusion that is flawed at its base. I have lived in the US for seven years now and in that short time have come to love the country and absorb a deep respect for the values and decency that most of us share. I am excited by the freedom, the democracy, the ability to make change. But I am under no illusion that America is perfect, that it is No. 1 in the world (basketball aside), or that it is God’s own country.

Do the Republicans really believe that they are serving in the best interest of the nation by perpetuating the illusion that we are No. 1? And by the way, I have heard the same mantras from the other side. On NPR this morning, a panel analysed how Governor Romney distorted truths in his speech last night.

It’s so depressing. The best thing any leader can do is grab our nation by the shoulders and force us to take a good hard look in the mirror. Unfortunately, winning votes by inflating delusional egos is more of a priority. 

The hype – over the top.

Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin did exactly this in this scene from The Newsroom. Apparently, honesty does not rock the ratings. (Warning: There is explicit language in the clip).

America can be great – if indeed that is our goal. But first, we must take a good hard look in the mirror and understand who is looking back at us and how we got to be where we are. The fatal flaw of our democracy is that it is built on blaming others, not admitting what needs to be fixed.

One convention down, one to go. I will wait for a moment of honesty. To quote one of the special guests at the convention: Go on – make my day.

“He’s not there, Clint. You know that, right?”

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Akin and the Women – Tom Rossi

Congressman Todd Akin (R. Missouri) has violated a sacred trust. For this he has been shunned by his own party.

Is the trust a healthy respect for women? Get serious. It’s the pinky-swear that Republicans take that they will never actually express (in public) their deep-seeded, voodoo superstitions and attitudes about women.

In case you’ve been living under a rock – and a big one – Todd Akin, last week, said: “…that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, uh, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” (his emphasis).

Wow. I actually thought that writing about this would be easy – there’s so much to work with… so much to be enraged about. But I find my head spinning with disbelief. Representative Akin a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He is on one of the most important legisative committees in this country on science, and he must have flunked high-school biology. Believe it or not, this is what offends me the most. But then there’s so much to choose from.

Another thing that bothers me is that what Akin and his braintrust appear to be saying, between the lines (not too well hidden), is that it’s OK for just a few women (rare?) to be forced to carry their rapists baby. Akin said that the rapist should be punished, not the “child.” Paul Ryan apparently agrees that rape is a “method of conception.” I wonder what their attitudes would be if they accepted the 100,000 (which could be a really low estimate) rapes that occur in the U.S. each year as “legitimate.”

It’s tempting to think that this ongoing fiasco represents an inherent misogyny in the Republican Party. It’s really more base and less dramatic than that. What women and “sympathetic men” (men with a heart and brain) don’t realize is that women are the production system for a resource – labor power.

Would you let your lawnmower stop cutting the grass because it felt violated by your hands on its handle? Would you let your car stop taking you to work because there had been no justice when someone dinged the door in a parking lot and the car was upset about it? Of course not.

Women produce the babies that will, according to Republican plans, not become educated unless they can afford it. They will, instead, get trained to do the work that big-time capitalists need done in factories or financial enterprises or private medical practices or picking strawberries. Women are the cotton gins of America. Or, more accurately, they are the inanimate machines that make other machines that make other, useful items.

Republican capitalists don’t hate their cotton gins. They need them to keep on plugging away. Don’t fret your loss of humanity, ladies. Welcome to the club of those who don’t really matter except for the job we perform and the value we add for someone richer (i.e. better) than us. I ruptured a disk in my back, once, working at a warehouse. That’s nothing compared to being forced to have a rapist’s baby, but the pain stays with me and reminds me of my position in this world.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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