Sauce for the Gander

In reading various comments here, there, and about, regarding America’s single most imprudent national election in living memory (you’d have to go back to 1920 to find a comparable one, and I doubt there are many alive who can recall it), one thing struck me about several comments originating with female friends of mine.  It was the assertion that the GOP had “pissed off” the women, and Tuesday’s election was supposed to be a needed corrective to that error.  The specific subject matter of the outrage dealt with — hang on there — contraception.  What a surprise!

I’m not aware that anyone within the GOP presidential ticket took any position relative to the legality of any form of contraception, or even abortion at any level.  So far as I’m aware it was absent as a platform plank.  There was a late-breaking story that 30 years ago, when Mitt Romney was a private citizen and an official in his church, he discouraged a woman from having an abortion.  Horrors.  I am unaware that Mitt Romney as presidential candidate took any position on it.  Of course, Bill Clinton, who of all recent presidential candidates was the most likely personally to give rise (no pun intended) to a specific issue of whether any particular victim female who caught his eye might need an abortion after enjoying his gubernatorial or presidential ministrations, as candidate and as president publicly allowed that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”  That was of course just fine with women voters.  He’d rape you, of course, or maybe just send the state troopers around to suggest that your upward Arkansas government career might run through a specific hotel room on that evening, but at least he’d see to it that you wouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath “in a back alley.”

What a friend of the downtrodden.

About all that I’m aware that the GOP headline ticket, either its candidates or their surrogates, made any stink about was things like requiring the Roman Catholic Church to underwrite abortion and/or contraception in violation of the tenets of the church.  [FYI:  If your health insurance group is over about 150 members you’re self-insured in any event and so yes, paying “insurance premiums” to fund abortion is funding abortion, directly.]  This was a “war on women,” it seems.  Asking an adult sufficiently physically able as to engage in the procreative act to pay herself (ignoring that for a goodly number of those women there will be one or a small range of males who might be asked to chip in to underwrite the fun) the $25 or so per month is just so far beyond the pale that we’ve got to re-elect . . . well, I don’t even want to allude to him . . . rather than run the hypothetical risk of being so asked.  Now, I’ve seen numbers bandied about as low as $9 per month, but hell, assume it’s $150 per month and that’s still less than you’d spend on a nice dinner and a movie to get yourselves in the mood to need that little pill in the first place.  It’s less than you’d spend on the weekend down at the river, running his bass boat up and down, drinking shitty beer and layin’ out in the sun before heading back to pop a couple of steaks on the grill and settle in for a night of whoopie.  I don’t have a great deal of recent pricing information on the subject.  It’s been a dozen or more years since female contraceptives were an issue in our little house in the big woods cookie cutter subdivision.  The wife taken allergic to them and so for several years we supported the latex industry, until a few years ago I addressed the issue with a degree of finality represented to me as medically absolute.

But seriously, being asked to pay for your own jollies is a war on you?  Daring to suggest that sucking a beating human heart from your womb may have moral implications on both sides of the argument is indistinguishable from shutting you up in some pestilential medieval ghetto?  It’s so unspeakable that we need to put back into office a man whose administration has declared an intention to bankrupt the coal industry, to make electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket” (his words, dear children, not mine), to aspire towards European gasoline prices, to cheerlead for the Muslim Brotherhood’s taking over entire nations seriatim, to cut a deal with a nuclear Iran, to . . . well, it just goes on and on.

One of the principal arguments advanced against granting women the franchise (or better stated, no longer refusing it to them) was that those crazy ol’ women, you know, with their “monthlies” an’ all, why, if you let them vote they’d jes’ all go plum crazy and vote (I’ll not bother with the sundry genteel proxy statements and euphemisms) their genitals.  The counter-position was that no, women were not that stupid, or at least no more stupid in that regard than men.  And so forth.  And so over time the franchise was extended (bearing in mind, ladies, that in each case it was extended by necessarily male voters).

The first presidential election women were able to vote in, nation-wide, was that 1920 election.  There is at least quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that Harding captured a huge portion of the female vote because he was so good looking (or at least give up to be good looking by the standards of the time).  But in truth I think he’d have won if he’d looked like Abe Lincoln and had the geniality of Andrew Jackson.  After eight years of wars, rumors of wars, drafts, thousands of dead boys, influenza epidemics, Leagues of Nations and on and on, Harding ran on a platform of putting the genie back in the bottle.  And pretty much everyone bit down on it, hard.  So I’m not going to tax the fairer half of America with the most corrupt administration until the present one.

In truth, I’m not aware of any significant evidence that women validated the arguments against letting them vote for several decades.

Until now.  Since February, 2009 we’ve never had below 7.8% unemployment in any month.  For most of that period it’s been above 8%.  The labor force participation rate is below 65%, its lowest in 35 years.  Record numbers of Americans have been out of work for at least a year.  Record numbers of Americans are living on food stamps.  Private sector jobs are evaporating like the dew.  We’ve sat on our haunches and watched as Iran progresses towards nuclear weaponry, and vigorously pushes its plans to obliterate from the map the only democracy, our only ally, in a part of the world that like it or not is critical to our national well-being.  Our federal government has successfully asserted the power to force each one of us to purchase whatever it decides we ought to buy, whether we actually require it or can afford it or need the money for something else.  An entire generation of American young adults cannot afford to establish an independent existence of their own.  We’re $16 trillion in the hole with no bottom in sight.  Federal spending already exceeds 24% of GDP (it topped out at around 27% . . . during World War II).  We’re “borrowing” 40% of every dollar the federal government spends . . . but we’re “borrowing” 90% of that from . . . the Federal Reserve.  We’re just making up our money supply.  We’re headed towards Zimbabwe, folks, and triple-digit monthly inflation.

And yet by all indications none of the above was sufficient to outweigh in the minds of millions of women voters the threat that they (and/or their males) might be asked to pay freight for their jollies.

Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander.

I have three boys, the oldest of whom will be 18 sometime during the term of Dear Leader’s immediate successor.  Assuming the ball hasn’t already gone up by then, which is to say assuming that Europe hasn’t torn itself apart in an orgy of collapse, recrimination, and violence; that a Russia offered “more flexibility” by this administration hasn’t taken advantage of that to subvert the societies of our few remaining friends; that there has been no nuclear exchange in the Middle East, then it will do so, shortly thereafter.  It escaped most folks’ notice, I’m sure, but there was a tiny squib in Tuesday’s paper, with a quotation from the Israeli government.  They just went ahead and came out and said that Iran was not going to be permitted to achieve nuclear capability, and that if no one else would stop them, Israel would.

My boys will be asked to fix the situation permitted if not actually encouraged by Dear Leader.  They and millions of other boys just like them will be the ones patrolling down the road, hoping that this seemingly derelict vehicle isn’t the one loaded with a remotely-detonated 500-pound bomb.  They’ll be the ones coming home maimed in body and soul, if they come home at all.  All you women, and your precious daughters, will never have to sign up to be drafted into the combat arms.  Your daughter will never hump a 200-plus pound combat load up some godforsaken hillside at the ass end of nowhere, wondering if there’s some grimacing jihadist putting a cross-hairs on her forehead.  You will never go to sleep each night praying that this night is not the night you get The Phone Call that your daughter didn’t come back from that patrol.

Remember the scene in Saving Private Ryan, where the woman gets three telegrams in the same day, each one telling her that a different one of her four sons has been killed in action?  That actually happened.  But you will never get a telegram like that about your daughter.

I’m going to assert my right to vote my genitals, just as you do.  This is the line I draw in the dirt:  There is not one single goddam thing that can happen your uterus or your daughter’s uterus that is worth a single drop of my sons’ blood.  Not.  One.  Drop.

 I assert that I will vote for anyone, from any party, on any platform, who can hold out reasonable hope that my sons will not come back to me in bags, or missing chunks of the flesh I once held in my arms.  That, grown to honorable manhood, those same bright faces and smiling eyes, those little forms I watched dashing about the campsite, or scrambling up and down the basketball court, or carefully stacking the building blocks on the living room floor, will not be returned to me a mass of mangled blood and bone, or haunted by visions that will torment them into their old age, to awaken screaming at night, to blight my grandchildren’s lives.  That they will not be ground into apathetic drudges, standing in government hand-out lines, wondering if this month they will clear the bills and maybe put a bit by for their children’s future.  That if they survive the world which the present administration seems so keen to call into existence, there will be honest work for them, work which enables them to look the world in the eye and say, “I am a man; here is my ground; here I will defend myself and my family.”

I will vote for those people no matter what they say they will do to you and your uterus, and your daughters’ after you.  If for you all other issues are off the table once the conversation turns to keeping your legs crossed, for me all other issues are off the table when the conversation turns to whether I will one day be handed a neatly folded flag as I watch my son lowered into the ground.

And as you shiver in the dark, unable to afford the electricity to light your misery or the gas to heat it, staring at your plate of beans which is all you can afford on the only work you can afford the gasoline to drive to, you can jolly damned well look at the grocery bag of money on the floor in the corner and wonder whether tomorrow it will still be enough to put a quarter-tank of gas in the car and buy a loaf or two of bread and some more cans of beans (if they have them on the shelf at the only grocery store left in your part of town).  You can also listen to your 25 year-old daughter moan on the couch in your basement, where she still has to live because she likewise can’t find a job that she can afford to drive to.  You can hope that whatever it is that’s causing that pain right under her ribcage isn’t anything so serious that she won’t last until the closest doctor’s appointment she could get, eleven weeks away at the “free clinic” which is all that you’ve been told by the rationing board she qualifies for, and then hold out for the next three months until she can see the “specialist.”  Maybe by that time you’ll have saved the gas money to get her there, too.  If your car hasn’t fallen apart by then.  It’s a pity, isn’t it, that there are no more mechanics around; the last one finally gave up when they told him he was going to have to pay a surtax on every air filter he sold.

You can hope that you’ll somehow find the money to pay the “energy tax” on your house because you couldn’t afford to install the “certified green” windows and replace the roof with a “qualified environmental surface” last year.  The last time you were required to “upgrade” to the newest technology, four years ago, you just managed it.  But that was before they defunded the office where you used to work because your Congressman didn’t vote the administration line on that one bill.  When they closed that you lost your job.  Your ex-husband won’t be able to help either; he’s been out of work so long he’s quit even pretending to look.  So far as you know he’s bartering odd jobs for food and clothes here and there.  When his car died it was too far for him to walk from the housing project where he lives, so you haven’t seen him in months.  Your daughter last saw him the night she almost got mugged walking from his door to your car; they’d have caught her, too, if someone else hadn’t busted out your driver’s window to steal the radio while she was inside asking if he didn’t have an extra $400,000 this month so she could buy some new shoes before the weather gets cold.  So she didn’t have to fumble with the door lock and got away.  That time.

And you can console yourself that at least your (and her) contraceptives are paid for, and if that good-for-nothing hard-ankle she runs with (because being 25, living at home, sick, and all but unemployable, he’s the only one who’ll have her) knocks her up, you can, if you get an appointment in time and if you can afford the $75.00 per gallon gasoline, drive her to the “free” abortion clinic.

Update (10 Nov 12):  Quod erat demonstrandum.

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