Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Party Of Rape


This afternoon, Noah gave us a frightening look into the Republican mindset where rape is the ultimate manifestation of tyranny. While he was working on his piece, retiring Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, one of the last pro-Choice Republicans left in the Senate, was working on her own OpEd for yesterday's Washington Post: How the GOP Can Mend Its Image Among Women. It's sad and dishonest and is premised on demonizing poor, pathetic Todd Akin, while drawing some laughable false distinction between him and virtual doppelgänger Paul Ryan or, for that matter, the man with no core whatsoever, Mitt Romney.
It is unfortunate that the stunningly insensitive statement about rape made last weekend by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is casting a shadow over the start of the Republican National Convention. Republican leaders, led by Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, rightfully and strongly repudiated his remarks.

Yet, the comments from Akin reinforce the perception that we in the Republican Party are unsympathetic to issues of paramount concern to women.

I have worked for three decades as a staunch advocate of building a “big tent” party that includes both pro-choice and pro-life Republicans. In that time, I have seen controversies such as this one alienate a large segment of the female population and perpetuate the gender gap among voters that has historically plagued our party.

This is not where I hoped my party would be in 2012. Today, the Republican Party faces a clear challenge: Will we rebuild our relationship with women, thereby placing us on the road to success in November, or will we continue to isolate them and certainly lose this election?

She suggests that the Republican problem is merely one of perception that can be marketed away-- "He will be off to a good start when former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, my colleague, speak to the convention about why the Romney-Ryan ticket is right for women in this election"-- instead of a toxic pathology.

Few people even in Washington understand how intertwined the political careers of Mitt Romney and California Republican Buck McKeon are. McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and, like Romney, a devotee of Mormon power, worked hand in glove with Romney to finance Prop 8, an amendment that stripped the LGBT community of marriage equality. (Mitt and Ann Romney practically financed the entire operation and now have the temerity to claim they shouldn't have had to pay their fair share of taxes because they used that money to fund their own ugly hatred and bigotry.) Currently, McKeon is shaking down the arms manufacturers and military contractors and their lobbyists who have business before his committee on behalf of the Romney campaign. And in between the bribery and the bigotry, he's working with his pal Akin-- McKeon appointed Akin chairman of the Subcommittee on Expeditionary Forces-- on covering up the most horrifying series of rapes in American military history. Friday, Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders, explained McKeon's role in the military rape scandal in an OpEd at Huffington Post. Her point was to announce that Lackland sexual abuse survivor, Ret. USAF Staff Sgt. Colleen Bushnell is biking across country, collecting signatures for the Protect Our Defenders petition calling on Congress to open a hearing into the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base. She will deliver the petitions to House Armed Services Chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon when she arrives in DC in October. So far McKeon has absolutely refused to hold a public hearing or to institute a serious investigation. Liz Trotta, a Fox newscaster who reported on this travesty by making excuses for it, knows her audience well-- Republicans, like Buck McKeon. Maybe Olympia Snowe should have a talk with McKeon and Trotta... or maybe sure knows she'd be wasting her time. Her party is the party of rape now.

Although Kay Bailey Hutchison announced today that the Republican party does not have a women problem, McKeon's refusal to hold hearings on this are starting to bubble up in a way that's going to add to the widespread perception that the GOP is fighting a war against women. The Air Force announced late last night that the number of victims in the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base has has climbed to 42 trainees and that the number of instructors under investigation has increased from 15 to 17 instructors.

"The sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base continues to get worse day after day, week after week. Air Force leaders have told Congress they do not know how to fix the epidemic and have misled the public about the scope of the problem," said Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defenders. "It is time for our elected officials to do their job and protect our sisters, neighbors, daughters and friends and hold an open hearing and investigation about Lackland. House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon should listen to his colleagues and more than 14,000 citizens and not let the Air Force hide behind closed doors and investigate and legislate fundamental reforms."

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