Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Conservative Men Further Ramp Up Their War Against Women


In the video above, from Tuesday evening, Rachel discusses Republican Party self-interest. She's a smart gal but she can't get her head around how exactly it is self-interest-- considering so many women vote nowadays-- for the Republican Party, as a party, to go so conspicuously out of its way to alienate and further alienate women as a class of people. If you ever had any doubt that the Republicans are waging a war against women-- dictated by their crazy conservative and misogynistic patriarchal base-- just watch the clip. And it's not just in primitive and backward Southern states like Mississippi. Republican governors and legislators in Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio, for example, are going full bore against women as well. In fact, wherever Republicans control both the governor's mansion and the state legislature, they are passing legislation to control women's lives and force women to give up personal freedoms.

And nationally, despite the absolute certainty it will never become law, Eric Cantor and John Boehner have gone ahead and agreed to allow the House to vote on a bill by deformed and bitter Arizona closet case/woman hater Trent Franks that will criminalize abortion nationally after 20 weeks. But what Rachel didn't have time to get into in her excellent blow-by-blow in he latest developments in the brutal Republican War Against Women is a brand new development that was breaking while she was on the air. This one is primitive, savage and patriarchal... but not Republican. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and a longtime shill for the Military Industrial Complex (as well, alas, as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee) declared he's removing a measure aimed at curbing sexual assault in the military from a defense spending bill.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, offered a measure that would give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide which sexual assault crimes to try, with the goal of increasing the number of people who report crimes without fear of retaliation. Mr. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said he would replace Ms. Gillibrand’s measure-- which has 27 co-sponsors, including four Republicans-- with one that would require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who decline to prosecute sexual assault cases. Although Mr. Levin’s measure would change the current system, it would keep prosecution of sexual assault cases within the chain of command, as the military wants.

Mr. Levin’s decision to support military brass in their resistance to Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal sets up a confrontation between a long-serving chairman of the committee with strong ties to the armed forces and a relatively new female member-- one of a record seven women serving on the committee-- who has made sexual assault in the military a signature issue.

“They basically embrace the status quo here,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, a co-sponsor of Ms. Gillibrand’s bill. “It’s outrageous.”

A recent Pentagon survey found that an estimated 26,000 assaults took place last year. Senior military officials have repeatedly traipsed to Capitol Hill this spring to lament the problem but have been ridiculed by members of both parties of the Armed Services Committee for failing to make a dent in the problem.

In an odd twist Tuesday, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Congress could seek to replace commanders in power with state prosecutors to deal with the military sexual assault cases. “To do things as they’ve always been done is not acceptable,” Mr. Leahy said.

Mr. Leahy made his comments during a spending hearing that included Mr. Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I’m just throwing that out there,” Mr. Leahy said. “I’m not looking for an answer.”

State courts already have the authority over rape and sexual assault cases should a victim choose to go to civilian law enforcement, but such cases are rare because the military prefers to prosecute its own personnel.

“If word gets out that the military justice system is not properly attentive to these cases, military personnel will vote with their feet,” said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School.

The House this week is expected to pass its own defense bill, which contains provisions to punish sexual assault crimes in the military more harshly and make it difficult for commanders to overturn convictions.

The Senate bill is also expected to include measures that would provide victims of sexual assault with a special military lawyer and that would automatically remove convicted sex offenders from the military. Other expected provisions would require a commander to provide written justification for any decision commuting or lessening a sentence after a guilty verdict in a court-martial.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, is in the meantime still holding up the nomination of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms of the Air Force to become vice commander of the United States Space Command because General Helms overturned a jury conviction in a sexual assault case without public explanation.

“I continue to have deep concerns with Lieutenant General Helms’s decision, while a commander and courts-martial convening authority, to overturn the jury verdict of a military court-martial in which the jury found an Air Force officer guilty of sexual assault,” Ms. McCaskill said in remarks submitted to the Congressional Record.

Ms. Gillbrand may have a chance to renew her measure on the Senate floor this summer, something she will almost certainly seek. “Senator Gillibrand has nerves of steel,” Mr. Fidell said. “Whether her bill is what Congress should enact I don’t know, but I commend her for standing her ground.”
Levin, age 78, won't be seeking a 7th term in the Senate. This is another example of old men trying to control the lives of younger women. There's a deep generational and gender divide on these issues and it's tragic that a Democrat rather than some reactionary fossil like Chuck Grassley, Jim Inhofe, Richard Shelby or Pat Roberts would be holding the banner for Bronze Age misogyny-- and rape-- today.

UPDATE: A Message From The Fighters For Equality At The DCCC

Steve Israel and Co. are up in arms over the anti-Choice Republicans. Let's see how many of the top priority Frontline Democrats they fund-- like Matheson, Barrow and McIntyre for exampl-- vote with the Republicans on this.
An all-male group of House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee is expected to pass a bill today that will ban abortions nationally after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The measures makes no exception for cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s health is jeopardized.

Americans consistently rate jobs and the economy as their greatest concern, not re-fighting battles over a woman’s right to choose. The measure, sponsored by anti-woman zealot Trent Franks of Arizona, is expected to be sent to the full House for a vote next week and would effectively overturn Roe vs. Wade.

“Today, another all-male group of House Republicans will interject their ideology between a woman and her doctor, effectively overturn Roe vs. Wade, reverse our rights and open yet another front in the war on women. Yet again, House Republicans are trying to prove that they’re the most extreme, anti-woman legislature in American history,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “House Republicans are blindly focusing on the tired ideological battles of the past like a woman’s right to choose, rather than focusing on problem-solving. And the American people know that every day House Republicans waste fighting over ideology is a day they refused to solve our country’s problems.”

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