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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Welcome to the first edition of "The Weekly Planet." The Planet's content will be primarily a summary of weekly politics that have caught our attention. The format will be simple to begin with. We will concentrate on four areas that will be standard from week to week, inserting other subjects that grab our attention as we go.

There are several common threads to the subjects. One is the lack of civil discourse in politics; apparently rhetoric is more important than facts. Another thread is how the globe is linked, and how their problems are our problems.

This is where the discussion starts, enjoy.

Why Obama Will Not Lose

The GOP primary continues to bore. Week after week of primaries or debates that have nothing to do with the state of the union. Mitt has been frying his brain trying to support every position that conservatives find important, even if the week before he said the exact opposite. The latest version of the Mitt mind that everyone has probably heard of by now is the Etch-a-Sketch comparison. Hold it upside down, give it a shake, time for a different position.

But that is not his biggest problem. In the first place, the evangelical base does not really support him. States that have 37% of the population, or more, that are self admitted evangelicals, have selected Santorum over and over. For the middle class, which Mitt thinks is earning $19,000 a year, his Wall Street roots will also be a problem for him. Then there's thedogs, they don't trust him at all. If Mitt wins the primary, which apparently he will, he has another large problem; the president. Mitt has shown himself to be a fool and a prevaricator, and he will not be able to hold his own in a debate. The fun of that will be counting how many times he changes his position.

Santorum is almost out of the picture, but if he were to win the nomination he would have similar problems. Yes, he is the evangelical darling, thinking that god should be acknowledged in every situation. His interpretation of the constitution is noteworthy for those who understand the problems with embracing one religion as a pervasive part of government. His description of getting sickened by President Kennedy's 1960's speech only shows an astounding lack of comprehension. I have older friends and family that consider themselves conservatives now, but voted for Kennedy. That will bring back memories for catholics; fond memories of a day long past and will sour them on Santorum. Then there's that disturbing first paragraph in Wiki.

Like Romney, that still isn't his biggest problem. His supporters are evangelicals. Moderate conservatives and independents will not vote for him. They may stay home and not vote at all. Added to that are women voters who will more than likely shun his caveman morals. He has not a chance.

The lack of enthusiasm will be a key ingredient as well. The only enthusiasm being generated is by the right wing media machines like Fox. They will work the hate angle and generate something akin to enthusiasm, but not really the same as what the left has. If you have a positive message, and a negative message, the positive usually wins out and generates real enthusiasm. Remembering what a great campaigner Obama has been, I think when he really hits the trail the fight will be over. The right's media blitz will be formidable, but it will not generate an emotion that can be sustained.

The start of this election season for me will be on the fifth of June. That is when Wisconsin will hold it's recall election on Governor Scott Walker. With the upcoming resignation of Senator Pam Galloway, the GOP will lose senate control in Wisconsin as well. This is where the push starts. A victory over the anti-worker Walker will be a big win for the middle class. Walker has been making the rounds on Fox, where they avoid questions about any of the investigations surrounding him. He's doing his best to pretend that he's not worried about the results of the recall, and maybe he's not; that investigation going on is probably at the forefront of his thoughts. 

I think this is where the tide will turn. The ideologies that conservatives have embraced not only here, but globally, will come into the light. 

Misogyny and Politics

I have to start with a simple statement here. Being male may blind us to the pervasiveness of misogyny in America today. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I have had enough. When I say pervasive, I do mean everywhere. Personal observations of these attacks bewilder. It seems the most innocent discussions are permeated with such immature comments made about women that I can barely read anything where a woman is the topic. As an example, I was on a search for a recipe for my in-laws. I have a hard time finding it, but I remembered the lady's name and googled her. I found an article that stated she had been removed from the network's list of chefs. What got me though, was the comments underneath. The first one was, "she's hot, but she'd look better with my dick in her mouth." I'm not going through everything I see while surfing, I know there's a lot of comments flooding the web with anti-women themes. I guess the thought that interests me most is who raised these people. In my house, respect for women was a given. I can't imagine how someone with a mother, sister or daughter could put any woman in such a negative light. Attacking gender seems to be a losing proposition. Another reason Obama will win.

It is apparent that when pundits like Rush attack women, in this case Sandra Fluke, it backfires. Though some havesided with Rush saying that it is free speech and just ignore him, I would disagree. If you are a public figure, a celebrity, you expect some flack heading your way. If you are a private citizen and are attacked, then we have a problem. Rush wasn't baiting some celebrity he disagrees with, and that's where he made his mistake.

His real problem though is that he attacked a lady who speaks well and has maintained a calm and dignity that Rush can't match.

Civil discourse is not in the right's playbook, so they are confused when it happens. Poor Rush picked on the wrong person this time. 

There are a few hints of good news on gender issues. Idaho has rejected their ultrasound bill. Conservatives crossed over and this bill appears to be dead. New Hampshire conservatives votedagainst a bill with harsh criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions. Tennessee is going back to the drawing board after their bill wanting to list online the names of doctors who perform abortions was rejected by the only physician in the General Assembly, Rep. Joey Hensley, a conservative who is anti-abortion has stated he won't support the measure. Arizona's, "tell your employer why you're on the pill," bill was withdrawn after passing the house. In Utah a billed was vetoed by conservative Governor Gary Herbert that would ban public schools from teaching about contraceptives.

These may come back in a different form, but it would appear that conservatives are getting worried about being reelected if they endorse these attacks on women's health. Of course there are many other states going head first into this gathering storm, hopefully that will smash any chances of re-election for those supporting political misogyny. Alabama appears to be at the center of the storm right now. Their claims that eggs, embryos and fetuses are have separate legal rights have led to the jailing of 60 women.

My favorite push back from my favorite gender comes in the form of social networking. Governors of states that have been endorsing pro-life positions by attacking funding and doctors have been getting bombed with sarcasm. In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback's page was seeing some action. One woman asking the question, "I am 44 years old and have two teen-age children. My partner and I both feel we are too old to have more children. However I am still fertile. What do you think we should do?" Plain awesomeness.

A nice screenshot from Governor Perry's page on FB: 

How can one not like this? The culture wars are becoming a losing proposition for conservatives.

A few more comments from several politician's pages; this is not an isolated incidence. 

Hi Governor, I have heard you are the man to come to with female problems, since you are makin’ all the medical decisions in your state. I have the worst cramps. I lay down a lot with a heating pad, but that seems to just make it worse. I also, like Linda up there, have some kind of discharge… she does not mention if hers smells, sometimes mine does, what does that mean?? Could you please tell me what to do, I am just a stupid woman who needs government to tell her what to do with her body.

Governor McDonnell ~ I wrote the other day asking for advice about my excessive discharge, and I haven’t heard back from you yet. I’m sure you’re quite busy, what with all the vaginas in this state. Anyway, it still persists and now there is some itching. Can you recommend a salve or ointment?

Hey Rick! I used to go to Planned Parenthood to get my yearly breast exams. Upon hearing from you that they’re sinners, I’ve resolved to change my ways! So when is your next available appointment? Or is this something that should be handled by my local politician?

I would like your opinion since I can’t make medical decisions myself being a woman and all. Since you know so much about my healthcare, I was wondering if you could tell me how to handle my period since it is very heavy 4 days out of every month. What is the best product so I can have a productive day during these times or do you think I should just stay at home and call in sick or better yet quite my job since I can’t make my own decisions maybe I shouldn’t be working. What is your medical position on this issue?

I just called your office, and they wouldn’t let me schedule a pap smear. I’m confused, aren’t you taking care of all this now?

Back to New Hampshire, they decided to not reverse the law allowing gay marriages. And when it comes to culture wars, this is the time for another one; the war on class.

Will The American Spring become a Global Spring?

As the weather changes so does the Occupy movement. Once again looking to create a physical presence, this movement is far from over. The beginning fray for this year started where the movement began; New York City. On March 17th, about 500 protestors tried to reoccupy Zuccotti Park. It was a short lived occupation as police ousted the protestors and made arrests. It appears that the violence associated with the protests will continue. It is hard to know the truth of where the violence originates, the police say it's the protestors, the protestors are saying it's the police.

A large group of protestors joined the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin at Union Square where Occupy protestors are maintaining a presence. The message that seems to be at the forefront of the movement is income inequality. It is a message that will continue to resonate with a large part of the populace, whether they agree with Occupy tactics or not. Occupy Oakland announced a major civil disobedience day on the 22nd of March in support of the Union Square protestors. Not much really happened except for 30 protestors building a new camp. They managed to keep the location secret so they wouldn't have a police presence.

Though there is not a lot happening just yet, I will keep coming back to this subject on a weekly basis.London Occupiers have joined the New York movement, and I think the probability of a Global Occupy movement is very high. All across the globe protests will be popping up this year because of a decided turn to the right in global politics and income inequality.

As western Europe suffers from the economic downturn, numerous protests are developing. Portugal, where unemployment has passed the 14 percent mark, is the poorest of the European countries. Portuguese strikers halted trains and paralyzed most public transport on Thursday.

Greece has been at the forefront in the news, many of the protests have been very violent. They are definitely not happy with the ruling class. Minimum wage has almost dropped in half and the middle class is taking the brunt of the financial downswing. Apparently you don't screw with that populace, they will fight.

This month in Spain hundreds of thousands of peopledemonstrated against the governments attacks on labor rights and the welfare state. Another large demonstration is planned for the 29th of this month. Hundreds of thousands have hit the streets in Italy as part of, "the Pitchforks Movement." Ireland has, for the most part, accepted the measures and is praised by the IMF for its austerity measures. Doesn't seem to impress the average irish person, since homes have lost 60 percent of their value and public services have been slashed. Goodbye to pay and pensions. About a thousand Irish a week areleaving the country.

The economy is a world wide problem. Instead of spending money to ease the unemployment and general needs of the populace, they are tightening the belt. It is the same argument we are having here. I intend to keep watching the global protests as the year goes on. This is an important time that has significant events for all citizens of the world. Most of the protests occurring are based on the fact that it will be the poor and middle class who will end up being the ones effected with less income and security, while the rich get a free ride. We know this story.

The Middle East is still in a state of unrest, hell, the world is in a state of unrest. It is all connected. The rich are supporting themselves on the backs of the poor and middle class. 

Republicans That Don't Totally Suck

I mentioned here and there that I have many conservative friends. It's the area I live in, not much I can do about it but become a hermit. This is for them. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood and some conservative values did ring true most of the time. For those who are puzzled by the mentality, let me share a couple of thoughts with you that I think conservatism is based on. One is unwavering loyalty. The next is a very warped sense of what freedom means.

Conservatives still watch Rush, even if they have daughters themselves they do not put the mud slinging in context because they are loyal; they never think their daughters would be attacked like that. If their families were attacked, the loyalty button is pushed and they will fight back, but as long as it is someone else, especially someone who has been painted as the enemy, they are content. When it comes to freedom, they think they should be allowed to do whatever they want, no matter how it may harm others. They think we should be free to pollute, we should be free to eat the least healthy meals we can find, we should be free to do harmful things. Basically it's the "don't tell me what to do thought." It is annoying, but I understand their thoughts to a certain degree. I just don't think those thoughts make any sense in the long term, and in the short term it's appears to be only about self-gratification.

This week's Republican who doesn't totally suck is Senator Olympia Snowe. Senator Snowe will be retiring when her term ends. “There’s no longer political reward for consensus building,” says Snowe, 65, one of the last of a dying breed of middle-of-the-road Republicans who worked with Democrats.

My appreciation of her work revolves around the "Snowe Amendment," in regards to air traffic controller privatization.

The amendment, while not effecting me personally did effect many people I worked with. Like many others have experienced, my federal job was privatized. Many of my peers were left short of the time needed to collect a pension during retirement. This amendment allowed those who needed up to two years of time to continue employment by the FAA while working with the contractor to establish a pension. The amendment was slightly changed by the conservative ranks when it finally passed so those effected were not able to get their full pensions, but at least they were able to acquire a reduced pension. It was a life saver for many.

Thanks Senator.

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Comment was by Becky on March 25, 2012 at 1:07pm

Exactly Neal, and no one knows it like a Texan paying attention to the State Board of "Eradication".  Rick Perry doesn't have anything over the crazy a** elected goons who sit on that board.  The president, who is a dentist in real life, says quite loudly that someone needs to stand up against the experts!!!!!  What does that even mean?  It only gets worse from there.

I really do see these state elections as the biggest problem in US politics, and yes Neal, they have been pushing for decades now....just look where the "Game Changer" started - local school board.  What I have discovered, miserably, is that people we would want to run for office have no desire to run for office - which is why they are the best to be in office!

Michel - I was already in love with John Fugelsang from their Sexy Liberal Tour with Stephanie Miller and Hal Sparks, but when that etcha sketch comment leaked out of Romney's media director's mouth....I knew it was a land slide for the President and time to take a reallly hard look at the states...and keep brining it up everywhere I post.  Thanks for your work and your time! Peace....

Comment was by Neal on March 25, 2012 at 11:27am

Hah!

Becky: The religious right has been pushing for members to run in local elections and move up. Usually starting with school boards or small town councils. It's been going on for decades which is why we have the current crop of theists in power. You are perfectly correct in watching state elections, that's where national crazy comes from. =(

Comment was by Michel on March 25, 2012 at 11:20am

If Romney's face is ever (!) minted into a coin, it'll go on both sides.

Comment was by Michel on March 25, 2012 at 11:01am

@Becky - You are so right about state elections. They seem to go under the radar (as seen from your tiny neighbor's window) and that's where conservatives can still do a lot of damage.

Comment was by Becky on March 25, 2012 at 10:51am

Can reasonable people actually vote Republican this year?  After the continuous attack on women and their health care, the horrible "in your face" racism, the "Don't Tread on Me" conservative religious gun toting, my mind, as open as I believe it is, cannot fit any of this garbage into it.  I am waiting with some anxious feelings about where our country is headed....and I am more concerned about state elections than I am getting President Obama re-elected.  I hope our reasonable populace begins to speak loudly about that.  Thanks for the "Planet".  It's a great  way to keep up through a reasoned website!

Becky

Comment was by Neal on March 25, 2012 at 7:46am

Chris: Air Traffic Control was divided into three sections, only one section was privatized. The Airway Facility guys that maintain the national airspace system, (radar etc.), are still federal jobs. 

Thanks for the comment.

Comment was by Chris on March 25, 2012 at 1:08am

Excellent  collection of news reports and commentary Neal. I'm taking a train the trainers class on protesting and will bring some of the articles you referenced in the Misogyny and Politics section to class tomorrow. I hadn't read the "How the "Pro-Life" Movement Puts Women Behind Bars." article - it's shocking. I see how comments on facebook can be an effective way of protesting without having to leave home, or carry a sign. While the war on women consumes everyones attention I wonder what other laws are sneaking by unnoticed. H.R. 374 The Trespass Bill that Obama signed into legislation seemed to get little attention - but I haven't watched the news, or read the paper lately. It's difficult to believe that Air Traffic Controller jobs became privatized. Did the maintenance get privatized too? Is there any proof that privatizing jobs like this saves any money? It seems to me that the employees just make less and the total cost is higher to pay the managers and stockholders.

Comment was by Michel on March 24, 2012 at 12:40pm

Re: Senator Snowe's stepping down, there needs to be a third party in the US. I think the Tea Party needs to become a real, official political party. It'll clear the air out. You'll have the Crazies, the Conservatives, and the Liberals. The conservatives will call liberals liberals and vice-versa, the crazies will call everyone else crazy.

Comment was by Adriana on March 24, 2012 at 12:20pm

Excellent start! As a woman, I'm always encouraged when I read the words of a man like you, Neal, who can see misogyny for what it is: an entrenched, hateful prejudice that women are somehow second class citizens, fair game for demeaning, violent, or outright poisonous comments. The Republican party has embrace misogyny in all its "splendor" and want to continue passing laws that turn women into pieces of meat, fit to either carry a fetus in their bellies or be prepared to be penetrated and basically raped with vaginal ultrasound probes, to be subjected to medical procedures that are invasive, unnecessary, and costly. This violently misogynistic streak, including the anachronistic opposition to contraception, will be the party's undoing in this election year.

I liked the Snowe part, too. She was very definitively a person one can have a dialog with, despite political differences. It is really sad she will be stepping down. Another sign that the Republican Party is becoming more extremists in their right-wing views.

Comment was by Doone on March 24, 2012 at 12:05pm

Very nice, thanks Neal.  The Snowe amendment in particular was good to read.

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