mansworld.not

Bringing Men and Women back together...before it too late. An exploration of why men have come to manage the world, why they do such a terrible job of it, and what we can do about it while there is still time. Religion, politics, media, art -- are all grist for this mill.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bush names three to state Women's Hall of Fame


The Miami Herald
Reports that three Florida women, including nationally renowned gun rights advocate Marion Hammer of Tallahassee, were named Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush to the state Women's Hall of Fame.
Also chosen were Shirley Coletti of Clearwater, developer of community-based addictions and mental health treatment resources and Judith Kersey of Cape Canaveral, a scientist and advocate for women in science.

New Attack on abortion rights by anti-women women's group

Concerned Women of America are seeking the enactment of an Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act which would require doctors to tell a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks that the fetus would feel pain during the procedure. It also would require doctors to offer anesthesia to both the mother and fetus. Another CWF proposal would give ultrasound machines to all birth-control clinics so a woman would be "more informed about the life developing inside of her", and presumably give up her right to control her body. (What if they don't want the machines -- will they be forced to use them?)

CWA has been called the “looniest of the loony” by gay rights organizations. CWA is behind the attack on the film “Kinsey”; it argues that church’s (presumably Christian churches only) should be able to campaign for candidates, and that the Christian Ten Commandments be displayed in all courthouses. CWF reserves much of venom for Gay rights – for some reason, its leadership absolutely hates gays and will attack even conservative politicians who seem to even recognize them as human beings deserving of rights (reverse penis envy??). A look at their record shows that they consider Gays even lower than women when it comes to respect and equality.


CWA was founded in 1978 by Betty LeHaye, wife of the author of the “Left Behind” series (as in, no child left behind?) books to stop the Equal Rights Amendment and shove women back into a cringing Old Testament serve-your-man- and-keep-your- mouth-shut role. Apparently, Concerned women are concerned most that women will have full access to their Constitutional rights. Unfortunately, they have an $11 million budget and a small army of members organized into prayer groups in 21 states who dutifully write, call and visit Members of Congress at the organization’s behest to lobby for restrictions on women’s rights.

Monday, December 27, 2004

US Latinas seek answers in Islam

Six pecent of the Christian conversions to Islam are Latinas, according to a story in the Christian Science Monitor. The reason givenby those converting is that they feel that they are respected more in Islamic society than in the macho Hispanic Catholic environment. Given the reputation of Islam's severe oppression of women, this is a very sad commentary on the postion of women in the Catholic Church. More evidence that Christianity in general and the Cathoic church in particular need to finish the Reformation by recognizing that women must be fully equal partners in the family, in the Church and in the state. No civilization can prosper that marginalizes half of its people.

Monday, December 20, 2004

We Are All Americans at the Chattanooga Choo Choo

I had to sit down one night this week and let the memories flow over me as a I opened boxes of Christmas ornaments and found three frosted white globes with an old- time steam engine and the words Chattanooga Choo Choo” on them. The Choo Choo is the hotel built in the grand old railroad station in Chattanooga, Tennessee where my family spent Christmases in the 90’s when we lived in Atlanta. Pushing through its polished brass double doors after a day of winter tourist fun, we would enter a magical Christmas world with a tree so tall you had to crane your neck to see the angel on its tip, brushing against the magnificent station dome. Inside, Santa sat on his throne, surrounded by elfin helpers and laughing children, illuminated by hundreds of twinkling lights. Silent Night” would drift in from a church choir in an alcove, joining the smell of pine needles and spiced drinks filling our senses.

Before checking in, we would have spent the day at the Tennessee Aquarium, whose stunning twin-pyramid design rivals even the Monterrey Aquarium in California. After a stroll through the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame where we goggled at the ingenuity of early tow truck and fire engine builders, we would head to Rock City for a frosty afternoon walk. Advertised on barn roofs throughout the South, this mountain wonderland sounded hokey to my sophisticated San Francisco ears until I saw the shine in children’s’ eyes as they raced through the painted rocks and played hide and seek around the plaster Mother Goose figures while we adults sipped hot cider in the “hut” .

We always stayed in the Choo Choo’s railroad car rooms, 1920’s Pullman coaches fitted out as luxurious Victorian bedchambers. For the children, still young enough to believe in Santa Claus, the Elves were the best treat -- theater students from the University of Tennessee who came to our room dressed as Santa’s helpers, telling bedtime stories, singing lullabies, and leaving candy canes on their pillows.

The hotel staff often blessed us when we signed in, and there were lists of local churches displayed prominently, and even the occasional offer of directions to a Sunday service. But the displays and the offers were made with generosity, not superiority, to us Northerners. Other guests I talked with in the dinning car or on one of the 1800’s steam engines in the snow covered gardens spoke easily of the approaching birthday of their Lord, Jesus Christ. They could tell from my accent I not from the South, but their spirit was welcoming even when we sometimes talked politics from different sides. There was no trace of animosity, even when I spoke of my brother-in-law singing in the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus or my Buddhist beliefs. We disagreed on some things, but felt the same magic of Christmas and the Choo Choo.

How different this is from the hate-filled words of the Alliance Defense Fund bellowing lies that pubic schools have banned Christmas symbols and even colors from the classroom. How different this is from Bill O’Reilly falsely telling his Daily News audience that store clerks not wishing customers “Merry Christmas” is a plot to force a “a brave new world” on America where gay marriage, partial birth abortion and legalized drugs run rampant.

How different this is from Zell Miller, railing against baby killers and homosexuals from his Senate office in Atlanta only 100 miles down Highway 75 from the Choo Choo. How different this is from smug arrogance of Newt Gingrich charging imaginary liberals with defaming Christmas.

The Right Wing message machine that gives voice to Zell’s and O’Reilly’s hate and the ADF’s lies and the vitriol of the arrogant Right Wing talking heads has done bone-deep damage to American democracy. It has fooled the media into believing that its version of “morals” – one based on oppression of gays and women – is the only correct one, and fooled us into believing that is why we lost the election, when polls say otherwise.

Progressives must build their own message machine to push back against the conservative hate and lie mongers. We must reframe morals as Christ – the object of the season’s celebrations regardless of one’s beliefs - intended them, that is, the obligation to care for our brothers and sisters. We must repair the grenade holes in the wall protecting church and state from one another. We must expand our constituencies, build new leaders, and take back our nation.

But as we do this, we must also respect and appreciate the values of the staff at the Chattanooga Choo Choo who offer blessings even to Northerners, and the parents who take their children to Rock City after evening church services, and the pride of Frank Thomas, Manager of the Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, in showing people how daily life was in simpler times. We must appreciate the families and local foundations and businesses who dared to build one of the nation’s finest aquariums in a declining steel town when the Federal government abandoned them. And we must listen carefully to Fred Denson, Chief Counsel of the Tennessee Military Department who welcomes even liberal trial lawyers as volunteers to help fight corporations denying returning National Guard and Reservists their jobs back – volunteer lawyers he needs because the Administration won’t give him the money to enforce the law.

The Right Wing propaganda machine has damaged them also. It has taken their values of hospitality and neighborliness and turned them into tools of hate and oppression. It has robbed them of their open hearts and tried to slam shut their open minds. And it has stolen their jobs, their security, and their futures while it gives them only arrogance and false hopes and promises of Armageddon in return.

But it is hard for Progressives – and Conservatives – to see our common humanity in the face of the daily damage being done to America’s democracy and to one another by the radicals running the Right Wing infrastructure. The 2004 election was an all-out, no-holds barred battle in what appears to be an unending ideological war. But unending war is a democracy’s worst enemy, as Orwell told us only too clearly in 1984. Somehow, while we are fighting the Right’s leaders to take back our nation, we must learn to communicate the commonality of our values to the ordinary people of America’s heartland, to people in places like Chattanooga. I don’t know how we do that, but I know that Christmas at the Choo Choo may be a good place to start.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

“Tort Reform” will handcuff lawyers fighting for National Guard Families

Whose side is Bush on – the corporations’ or the troops’?

CBS News reported last night that thousands of National Guard troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to find that they have been fired in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The CBS report went on to say that increasing numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops who have returned from war are encountering new battles with their civilian employers at home. Government sources quoted by PBS report that jobs were eliminated, benefits reduced and promotions forgotten for 4000 returning Guard and Reservists since 2001.

Tragically, the companies abusing our troops may get away with it because there are not enough lawyers to force them to obey the law. Erin Moriaty, the CBS correspondent who covered the story for CBS, learned that one-third of the National Guard troops in Iraq currently say their number one fear is that they will not have a job when they get home and not be able to do anything about it. Fighting abusive corporations – many of them military contractors with political connections – is beyond the financial capability of most returning Guards and Reservists. When they learn their job is gone, their first concern is to scramble to get a new one before they get evicted or have to declare bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an agency set up within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs to provide returning Guards and Reservists with free legal help through the states, has not been adequately funded and must rely on volunteers. Fred Denson, General Counsel for Tennessee Military Department explained to me that, while his office gets 30 new cases a month, he has only two lawyers to work on them and must recruit volunteer trial lawyers to keep from being buried under new cases. He says other states are in the same bind.

But the skills Denson and his counterparts in the other states need are those of trial lawyers – the very skills the Administration seeks to handcuff with its so-called “tort reform”. Trial lawyers protect American families from irresponsible corporations. The settlements trial lawyers earn for citizens abused by corporations make it possible for them to volunteer their time and their resources to fight for the families of our troops. The lawsuits they file - misnamed “frivolous” by the Right Wing noise machine - are the powerful levers citizens use to force corporations to obey the law and behave responsibly. And now these same powerful levers are needed by the families of returning National Guard and Reservists to force many of those same companies to treat our returning troops as the law – and patriotic decency – demands.

Trial lawyers stepped up to the plate after 9/11 to help the families of those killed in the Twin Towers. Now they are being asked to step up to the plate again to protect the families of America’s National Guard troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is clear that America’s trial lawyers are on the side of America’s families in the war on terrorism. Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that the Bush Administration is on the side of corporations who are not satisfied with overcharging the taxpayers in Iraq, but now are trying to steal the future from our troops fighting there.

Trial lawyers will help protect families of America’s fighting men and women. The Administration’s so-called “tort reform” will protect the companies abusing them. If it passes, no family will be safe, at home or at war.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Moral issues did not drive voters, but they have been hijacked by the radical right

POLLWATCH

CI Senior Fellow Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan will use recent surveys to take a weekly look at “conventional wisdom” generated by the Right’s echo chamber. Send your comments, corrections, and suggestions for topics to palm44@covad.net .

Conventional wisdom: “ Moral Issues drove voters” screams a website of the religious right, referring vaguely to “some exit polling” and then quickly defining the term as referring solely to gay marriage and abortion. Actually, a single, poorly defined question on the news networks’ exit polls generated the 22% statistic of voters who were driven by “moral values”, and left open the meaning of the term. (Dick Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle has detailed how this one response became conventional wisdom).

So what do other polls say about “moral values” and the election? They say that the Right is wrong on what drove voters, but is right on what people understand as moral values.

. A comprehensive survey of voters conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Nov. 5 through 8 probed a representative sample of 1209 voters using over 50 questions. An unprompted question (one in which the interviewer let the voter respond without being given a written or verbal answers) asked, “What one issue mattered most to you in deciding how you voted for president?”. One quarter named that the war in Iraq; only 9% volunteered “moral questions. An added 6% responded with abortion, gay marriage, or stem cells for combined total of 15% of voters driven by moral values -- virtually the same percentage as those who cited jobs as their primary issue.

Pew researchers asked voters just what they meant by “moral values”. People who cited moral values as an important vote driver listed two issues that are not moral issues, but threats to male supremacy: gay marriage (29%), abortion (28%); stem cell research (4%) and helping others (2%) were their other major components of “moral values.” When people who did not list moral values” as a primary vote driver were asked what moral values meant to them, 35% said “traditional values” but did not include the rights and abortion rights in follow up responses. When asked about policies that fell under the rubric of “moral values”, a quarter of this group responded by naming gay marriage, and abortion; economic equality/helping others garnered 5% from this group.

A Christian polling organization, The Barna Group, concurred, reporting that its surveys showed that “most Christians' votes were influenced more by their economic self-interest than by their moral values” and that “a minority of born again adults (44%) and an even smaller proportion of born again teenagers (9%) are certain of the existence of absolute moral truth. But Barna also noted that while born-agains and evangelicals are only 38% of the population, in 2004 they constituted 53% of the voters (some of whom obviously voted for Kerry, since Bush only got 51% of the vote).

What it means.

First, that moral issues were not the major vote driver in the 2004 elections; the war in Iraq was, with the Right’s “moral values” issues as distant third. A new myth is being created by radical right.

Second, the Right has been highly successful in defining two male supremacy issues – the legitimacy of gays, and the ability of women to control their bodies – as “moral values” in the minds of believers, but not quite so successfully in the minds of economically-driver voters.

Third, the Bush campaign successfully labeled legitimacy of gays and women’s right to control their bodies – as “moral values” and combined them with superb political organization to drive born-again/evangelical Christians to the poll in huge numbers.

What it means for Progressives.

1. Progressives must quickly set agendas or risk allowing the radical right to do it first. Allowing the radical right to claim that moral values drove the election has emboldened the Christian Right and validated their demands to combine religion with politics, regardless of the Constitution.

2. Progressive must quickly and forcefully define moral values and all other issues their way, or watch the radical right take them away as their own. By reducing “moral values” to two issues that are actually threats to male dominance over women, they created a powerful tool to motivate moderate as well as conservative men, and to make any challenge to the strict-father model of society a challenge to “moral values”.

3. Both strategies require a Progressive message and communication infrastructure equivalent to that built by the Right over the past 30 years. The foundation for this infrastructure must be well-funded think tanks with rapid message and action capabilities that can set and move Progressive agendas and messages quickly through our society.

See www.commonwealinstitute.org for more information on the radical right's communnication machine.

Monday, December 13, 2004

18 facts that show US voting may have been rigged

18 Facts that show US voting may have been rigged
Are we still living in a Democracy? From Commweal Institute


Consider
(cut and paste links in your browser to follow information trail)
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold
http://www.essvote.com/HTML/about/about.html

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/private_company.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html


4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml
http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1647886

5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator in a surprise upset, with votes counted by ES&S machines.

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/03/03_200.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/031004Fitrakis/031004fitrakis.html

6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=26
http://www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx
http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/000896.php

7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_28/b3689130.htm
http://theindependent.com/stories/052700/new_hagel27.html

8. Kenneth Blackwell co-chaired George Bush's Ohio election campaign. As Ohio secretary of state, he left no stone unturned to surpress the democratic vote.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/113004Y.shtml#1

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/894
http://67.15.90.110/article.pl?sid=04/10/29/1414219

9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm

http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041020evotestates/pfindex.html


10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
http://www.diebold.com/solutions/default.htm


11. Exit polls are usually excellent predictors of election results. Reputable analyses could not find and explanation of the discrepancy between exit polls and results of the 2004 presidential election.
http://ucdata.berkeley.edu/

http://www.buzzflash.com/alerts/04/11/Unexplained_exit_poll_discrep_v00l.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/23/international/europe/23ukraine.html?ex=1102245800&ei=1&en=3a3c24b7e64fe49


12. A Diebold subsidiary employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers. These people helped write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61640,00.html

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/301469.shtml

13. Jeff Dean, senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.

http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

14. Jeff Dean was served jail time for planting back doors in his client's accounting software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf


15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
http://www.globalexchange.org/update/press/2638.html
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/26/loc_elexoh.html

16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it!
(See the movie here with the chimp.)

http://wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,63298,00.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190


17. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html
http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm
http://www.rise4news.net/extravotes.html

http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=950

http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0411/S00227.htm


18. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm

http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/policy/story/0,10801,97614,00.html
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/tens_of_thousands.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/110904.htmlhttp://uscountvotes.org/



Based on a list compiled by Angry Girl

______________________________________________

Were American's votes were deliberately miscounted?

If this was done, it means, quite literally, that we are no longer living in a democracy.

Consider these facts:

"Jeff Dean, senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code...served jail time for planting back doors in his client's accounting software and using a 'high degree of sophistication' to evade detection over a period of 2 years."

According to the findings of fact in case no. 89-1-04034-1 (Washington State):

"...Defendant's thefts occurred over a 2 1/2 year period of time, there were multiple incidents, more than the standard range can account for, the actual monetary loss was substantially greater than typical for the offense, the crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim, and the defendant used his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility as a computer systems and accounting consultant for the victim to facilitate the commission of the offenses."


Another one of the references led to a detailed account of the double database technique pioneered by Mr. Dean to enable electronically tabulated votes give a false total while still presenting accurate details in case of spot audits.

In combination with the constellation of undisputed circumstantial evidence and open conflicts of interest, these last details are just too damning to ignore.

A cloud over the validity of the American electoral process is not acceptable.

Please join concerned Americans in calling for:

1) a full investigation of election irregularities
2) measures to ensure that ballots cannot easily be miscounted, and can be recounted

Please -

- forward this list to everyone you know
- use it as grist for letters to the editor (in your own words) and requests to newspapers, radio and tv for election fraud investigation... http://www.democraticunderground.com/cu/cu.php?az=blaster

3) write your congressional representatives calling for an investigation http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Gay marriage is not about gays getting married; it is about straights getting scared.

Remember a few months after the end of the primaries when all of a sudden the media discovered the “swing voters” and the “undecideds”. That was not an accident. Karl Rove had told a reporter in Florida that the electorate had been frozen in a 48 - 48 red-blue divide for so long that the only votes left to get were the undecided and the swing voters…and he was going to get them.

The media and the Democrats fell for it. While endless rolls of newsprint analyzed the swing voters, and the Democrats spent thousands of hours of phone banks and canvassing to reach undecided voters in swing states, Karl Rove was quietly collecting church directories. He knew that the real mother lode of votes was in the 4 million evangelicals that didn’t vote in 2000. These were the religious people who considered politics ungodly, and stayed away from the voting booth. He knew that if he could motivate them, Bush could win. But how could he convince them to vote?

He didn’t motivate them with morals, despite what the media is telling today. He motivated them with fear. Not with fear of war, or job loss or even terrorism. He motivated them by surfacing a primal fear, one that is always present in their subconscious - fear of loss of sexual identity, and with it, their entire worldview.

Rove understood three key truths about evangelicals – actually about fundamentalists of any religion according to a study by the Unitarians:

  • All fundamentalist religions share a hierarchy based on a strict-father model—a model in which men are the dominant gender and women exist only to please and serve men and to make more sons
  • Fundamentalists are insecure—actually, terrified - that a secular, democratic country with equal rights fro men and women is undermining the strict-father model upon which their faith and their sexuality is based
  • Fundamentalists’ faiths serve to protect insecure men from the medical and psychological fact that sexuality is not cut-and-dried male or female, but is a spectrum and all of us fall at different places on that spectrum at different times in our lives; that is, sexuality, including their sexuality, is ambiguous.

Rove knew that evangelicals will flock to the Republican ballot if the subconscious fear of t sexual ambiguity can be surfaced. He surfaced those fears with two issues: gay marriage and abortion rights. Those two issues (and stem-cell research by linking it to abortion rights), generate a primal fear in men who are drawn to fundamentalist religions – in this case, evangelical Christians.

Why? Both issues drive a stake into the heart of every man insecure about his sexuality – which is by definition, most men and all men drawn to a fundamentalist faiths. And both issues drive a stake into the heart of the male-dominant, strict-father model of the family and the sate. If two men or two women can function as a family, the dominate father is not only unnecessary, but suspect. If a lesbian can be a father figure, the fundamentalist strict father is no long necessary or valid. If a gay man can be a mother figure, the male dominated family model is no longer necessary or valid. And if some men are mother figures and some women are father figures, every man must question his own absolute sexuality…he might be gay, or at least a bit effeminate.

But of course Rove couldn’t say this. He had to find mechanism to surface the fear in a framework that did not threaten to reveal the subconscious sexual insecurity of fundamentalist men,. His framework also had to the fit the good vs. bad single-issue models the press loves, and it had to make liberals the bad guys so he could appeal beyond the evangelical voters. Gay marriage fit the bill perfectly.

By making up the myth that gay marriage threatened the institution of marriage – absurd on its face – he created the perfect wedge issue. It:

  • Surfaced the primal sexual fears of evangelical men and most men in general
  • It appealed to a wider constituency who were married and supported marriage
  • It could be supported Biblically by stretching two Old Testament passages to make them seem to condemn gays, but didn’t have to be
  • It used a fear already present – he did not have to sell a new fear; he did what ad campaigns do – surface an existing need, in this case, protection of masculinity

The Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in its finding for gay marriage, handed him a double whammy – he could recruit the troops by surfacing their primal fear of sexual ambiguity and simultaneously appeal to a second familiar Republican frame, “activists judges” (despite the fact that the MA decision was a strict reading of the state Constitution). Mayor Gavin the SF gay marriages gave him the video to make the threat real, and attract the media.

All of this ignored the data that the lowest number of divorces occur in liberal northeastern states, with Massachusetts being at the bottom, and that the highest rates of divorce, teenage pregnancy and venereal disease occur in the Bible Belt.

The second issue he used was Abortion rights. Reproductive rights for women have been an issue for the same reason as gay rights. Women can escape the strict-father male dominated hierarchy by controlling their reproduction. For 3000 years men have tried to prevent women from controlling their bodies because access to sex is the most powerful leverage a woman has to maintain equality with men. He wants it; she can put conditions on his getting it. But if she is pregnant or a mother, she has to depend on a man for support, particularly if the pregnancies just keep coming. Abortion and birth control – the next target of the Religious Right – give women independence, undermining men’s superiority and the strict father model.

Gay people should understand that opposition to gay marriage has nothing to do with gays getting married. It is a tool used by Conservatives to drive evangelicals to the polls by appealing to the fear resident in their reptilian brains. Even evangelicals who have gay friends or who are related to gays fell for it . If gays gain equality in marriage and other institutions conferring social status, the entire foundation of fundamentalism is called into question and the primal fear of ambiguous sexuality is unleashed.

Was Rove successful? Not completely, but enough. Exit polls showed that the number of self-described “religious” people who voted for him increased by 3%, while the number of self-described not-religious people who voted for him went up 2%. In absolute numbers the increased were 1.2 million more religious than in 2000, and 900,000 more non-religious votes than in 2000. Not the full 4 million he was after, but enough to win the popular vote.

As the media has trumpeted, Rove was also able to make “moral issues” – meaning abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, which are sexual, not moral – the top vote driver, but in reality not by very much. The media has made much of the 22% of people who said they voted because of moral questions – which means that 78% voted for other reasons. The 22% of the voters is just over half of the number of the American electorate that are evangelicals, so even with them he was not 100% successful. And since the American Religious Information Survey (ARIS, based at CUNY) found that the number of people who identified themselves as religious has fallen by 9% and the number of Christians has fallen by 3% since 1991, playing the religious card will have a diminishing effect on American politics. Message to the Democrats: the sky is not falling and you will not be smited by lighting bolts from above if you don’t rush to your local church and genuflect to Dobson and Fallwell..

But what about all those ballot measures. There the primal fear worked well. Enough religious and non-religious men felt their sexuality was threatened by the specter of gay people marrying that they struck back by voting for measures that promised to end sexual ambiguity, or at least the threat of it being public.

So what next for gays? Don’t fight back with anger and outrage. Use Rove’s weapons against him and his Religious Right allies. Reframe gay marriage in way that:

  • Allows men to ignore threats to their sexuality
  • Is a macho libertarian fight to defend freedom
  • Protects of the sanctity of marriage

Agree with the evangelicals that marriage is a sacred institution and should be protected as such. Introduce a “Sanctity of Marriage Act” which stipulates that marriage is a sacred institution, and as such may not be performed or regulated by government at any level, but performed solely by church officials, and that only the civil legal aspects of a mutual partnership may be handled by governments in the form of civil unions. All persons wishing to form a civil union for any purpose must do so following the laws of the state. Those persons wishing to sanctify the union, can only do through the authority of an official or representative of any religion.

This framework tells evangelicals that Progressives will protect the sacred state of marriage and keep government from regulating an institution that belongs properly only to God. It protects the legal responsibilities and benefits of civil to gays, as well as to co-habiting couples and others. It also allows them to find priests or rabies or other church “officials” to marry them (including officials of pagan churches for atheists who want the ceremony), leaving evangelicals the option of personally refusing to recognize such marriages as they personally refuse to recognize the validity of non-evangelical churches in general. It also prevents the government from telling us whom we may not marry – a strong libertarian position. It does not completely eliminate the threat to maleness, but it allows men who feel threatened, to ignore married gays by not recognizing the marriages – with no practical effect on the couples themselves. And it will be hard for Conservatives to vote against a law that sanctifies marriage.

Abstinence-only Programs Demean Women

Among the findings of the study of Abstinence-only programs ordered by Rep. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) is that they frequently demean women and condon male sexual agression.

See the report at http://www.waxman.house.gov/

Besides containing mistaken and outright false medical statements, 11 of 13 programs were found to treat demeaning sterotyopes of men and women as fact and reinforced male sexual aggression as natural. One program cited in the report instructs young students that "women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and succes hinge on their accomplishments." Another program lists "financial support" as one of the "Five Major Needs of Women" and "domestic support" as One of the Five Major Needs of Men" -- and implies that women should not be working outside of the home.

Another tells of a white knight saving a princess from a dragon by poisoning the creature with a vial he got from the princess, but later is ashamed because he accepted help from a woman. He later marries another maiden only after he is sure she knows nothing about poisons. Moral: men are demeaned bya women's assistance and knowledge and a real man should only marry a dumb woman.

Abstinence educators and organizations were slated to receive 250 million in federal funding in 2005. When the President's budget was sent to Congress it got whittled down to 168 million - but still a record for abstinence groups. Approximately a third of all schools in the United States offer abstinence-only sex education programs. Most are concetrated in the Southern and Midwestern Bible-belt states which the CDC has found to have the higest rates of teen pregnancies and STD and HIV infections, (also the highest church attendance and Republican voter turnout -- does that mean that going to church and voting Republican will lead to unwanted pregnancy and veneral disease...hmmm)

The report noted that man of the programs blurred the line between religion and science, stating religous dogma as scientific fact. Many of the programs quoted the Bible, "A man must love his wife and the wife must respect her husband ", a further indication that the Christian Right's new "strengthening marriage" campaign is really about draging women back into Old Testament marriages where they get no respect.

Women enjoy sex more than religion...Fox News

In what must be a blow to the puritan fundamentalists, in a recent story, Fox News reported that ,

"Surprisingly, researchers said they found that activities, such as sex, socializing, eating, exercising, and watching TV have a much bigger impact on women’s happiness on a daily basis than general circumstances, such as income, religion, or marital status."
See the story at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140992,00.html.

The story quoted a study from the Dec. 3 issue of Science that assessed how people spend their time and how they felt about those activities on a given day. More than 900 women were asked to create a short diary of the previous day by thinking of the day as a film containing a series of scenes and episodes. After analyzing the responses and the women's comments and rankings, the researchers found that sex ranked very high on their scale of enjoyment and religion ranked low.

Maybe that's why more women vote Democratic.

I am back

The election is over, and I am working with a new think tank. I have finally had the chance to clean up the blog and start reposting. I will keep the posts here to analyzing religious and right wing attacks on women and strategies for increasing the partnership between women and men as a basic step to reversing the destructive slide of our world.

I am working with the Commonweal Institute www.commonwealinstitute.org as a Senior Research Fellow. CI is a Silicon Valey- based organization tht analyzes the vast right wing communications and control machine and devises ways for progressives to counter it by building a progressive infrastructure. I am also a contributor to http://seetheforest.blogspot.com a great blog by Dave Johnson and friends. Dave is also a Research Fellow at Commonweal.

Finally, there is no spellcheck on Blogspot that loads onto my browser, so a few typos may slip through. My apologies in advance.

Patrick