DUMB AND DUMBER
In one of his first speeches abroad as Secretary of State, John Kerry -- in defense of America’s liberty and individual freedom -- said that “in America you have the right to be stupid, if you want to be.”
A few days later, right on cue, the House Republicans stood up and proved his point en masse when they refused to compromise on the sequester. The President said that allowing sequestration to take effect was “just plain dumb.” It’s dumber than dumb. But, the GOP led House simply can’t help itself. It drank the tea and now it’s addicted and doesn’t know how to stop.
Another case in point before it gets overlooked is the GOP House vote on the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). The House finally passed a bill recently -- the Senate version, which it had resisted strenuously up until a week or so ago. The reason for its resistance was that the Senate bill enlarged the scope of the legislation to ensure that gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women have equal access to anti-violence programs. But, then looking over its shoulder at the results of the November election in which President Obama won 55 percent of the women’s vote, the House finally reluctantly relented.
Still, 138 House Republicans voted against passage, with only 87 GOP members voting for. In the Senate, 22 GOP senators voted against passage. To be fair, as a good friend recently cautioned me, there are legitimate reasons why some principled members of Congress voted against the bill. Constitutional reasons: state vs. federal jurisdiction. Plus, other considerations, such as including gays (men) in the bill. Okay, I concede both points. But, I remember, for example, only too vividly states’ rights arguments being made against passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But, let’s move on to a related matter. March is Women’s History Month. It is ironic when you think about it, considering that women constitute a greater percentage of the American population than men. Can you imagine celebrating “Men’s History Month” or “White History Month?” But, you don’t have to be a student of history or current events to understand that despite its numerical superiority, women still have a way to go to achieve equality, not only in other countries around the world, but here at home.
In the U.S. workplace, for example, women are still paid less than men at every educational level and in every job category, according to a recent New York Times article on gender equality. Moreover, they are less likely than men to hold jobs that offer flexibility or family-friendly benefits. When they become mothers, they face more scrutiny and prejudice on the job than fathers do.
But, more directly related to the point of this blog: From a personal safety perspective, women are much more at risk than men, not only in our streets and communities, but in our own homes. Statistics show that one out of every three women in the world is physically or sexually abused at some point in her life. And the overwhelming majority of these assaults are not from strangers but family members or other people familiar to them.
These are not just statistics. These are our wives, our sisters, our daughters, our granddaughters. They’re not all straight and they’re not all white. Some of them are lesbian, Native Americans, and immigrants.