19 June 2012

US Congress and our sexual virility double standard

In one of my rare episodes of mainstream TV watching, an advertisement appeared for an erectile dysfunction drug. And it occurred to me that this ad would not make a single GOP male flinch. Ditto condom ads. They're down with all that.

On the other hand, advertise female birth control and/or family planning resources, and it's condemned by the right.

Prolific sexual functionality is apparently a desirable thing for men, but not for women - except in situations of submissive duty to procreate.

The men are the ones rightly in charge of the women's reproductive health/fate, as they see it. We women are apparently not to be trusted with our own bodies.

Why else would they have held all-male congressional hearings on birth control?

I wonder how their wives, daughters, nieces, and granddaughters feel about this. (With some research, that might be a blog post for another day.)

06 June 2012

Democracy must be saved

Yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election which had been prompted by his war on workers and other extreme right-wing agenda items. And this unfortunate result can only encourage and embolden other right-wing governors and state legislatures to follow suit. Indeed, many already are.

According to the New York Times, the Walker campaign was backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other big-ticket donors to a tune of $45.6 million, compared to $17.9 spent by his Democratic rival, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Money talks. And money wins elections. Money buys the propaganda that leads ordinary citizens to vote against their own best interests.

When that happens, we no longer have a true democracy. Instead, it is a plutocracy. It is fascism in the purest sense of the word. And human rights - and basic decency and fairness - take a back seat to corporate profits and greed.

I think this is what Thomas Jefferson feared when he said: "I hope we shall crush ... in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Jefferson is surely spinning in his grave.

We the living must keep up the fight to defend the true democracy that he envisioned more than two centuries ago.

We must not let yesterday's disappointment discourage us. We should let it inspire us to work harder than ever to get this country back on track.

The alternative is unthinkable. So giving up is not an option.

On to November!

03 June 2012

Can Edwards recover like Clinton?

On May 31, the jury in the John Edwards campaign corruption trial found him not guilty on one count and remained hung on the remaining counts. The judge then declared a mistrial on those other counts. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the prosecution will seek to retry him on those unsettled counts.

The case involves the use of donor funds during Edwards's 2008 presidential campaign that were directed towards hiding the then-candidate's affair with his mistress - an affair that resulted in a love child - while his wife was dying of cancer. The defense insists that the donations in question were personal gifts rather than political campaign donations.

I am not a lawyer. Like the jury, I am personally hung on most of it. I cannot read the minds of the donors nor the recipients of that money, so I will not guess at their actual thoughts or intents. And perhaps that was where the jury was coming from.

I want to state right now that I do not like John Edwards. I used to be a fan until this scandal unfolded. Then I just saw him as sleazy, narcissistic, and untrustworthy. But even the sleazy, narcissistic, and untrustworthy deserve the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And apparently guilt was not proven in this case to the satisfaction of the jury.

Now Edwards is talking about dedicating his life towards helping impoverished children in the U.S. and worldwide. That is commendable. It might make me even like him a little bit more than I do at this moment.

But to do good works like that, it helps to have a sympathetic support base. Can Edwards still attract that base given his current reputation as a sleazy, narcissistic, and untrustworthy cad?

The question brings to mind how former President Bill Clinton rebounded from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bill Clinton now is a greatly beloved philanthropist whose Clinton Foundation does a lot of good work. His marriage survived, and his wife is now our very highly regarded Secretary of State. The Clintons' support base is now probably bigger than ever.

Somehow I cannot envision a similar rebound on Edwards's part. Perhaps he's just not as likeable as Clinton. Or maybe the case is just still too fresh. But I sincerely do hope that he can turn his life around now and do some good.

For that, I wish him well.