Modern Age Revolution

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In the fall of 2012, German-language publisher Steidel announced that it was working with The Gordon Parks Foundation to produce a series of five books that serve as a retrospective of Parks’ photographic career.

The book begins in 1942 with the first professional position Parks held at the Farm Security Administration under the guidance of the program’s director, Roy Stryker. The iconic photograph of Ella Watson from this period, known as “American Gothic,” remains one of Parks’ most important and recognizable images. Aiming to expose intolerance and to fight social injustice, Parks worked for the U.S. Office of War Information and Standard Oil of New Jersey before becoming the first African American photographer for LIFE magazine in 1948. Over the course of more than two decades, Parks produced photo-essays on an exceptionally broad range of topics, including gang wars in Harlem, fashion in Paris, and segregation in the American South, before embarking on his successful career as film director.

The images published in LIFE magazine illustrate in a visceral way what it means to live in a society where you are perpetually “separate but equal.”

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Republicans Cannot Accept That A Black President Was Just Re-Elected

These gentlemen have just been informed that the votes of people living in cities are indeed legitimate.

Republicans have been having substantial trouble processing the thumping they received at the hands of Barack Obama in the 2012 election. It started on Election Night, with Karl Rove literally refusing to accept that the state of Ohio had voted to re-elect President Obama:

And it’s been downhill ever since.

Public Policy Polling recently found that 49% of Republican voters believe “that the president did not legitimately win reelection because ACORN interfered with the vote. A full 50 percent of Republicans said Democrats engaged in some sort of voter fraud.” Of course, this is absolutely insane because ACORN was forced to shut down in 2010 after being falsely accused of stealing the 2008 election.

To reiterate: Republicans have become so unhinged from reality that almost half of the party’s voters believe an organization that has ceased to exist for years was involved in a diabolical conspiracy to rig the 2012 election.

But the madness doesn’t stop there. Top Republican donors are now publicly saying that votes from cities and urban areas should be flat out discounted:

In terms of sheer numbers, Obama won by five million votes. But [GOP megadonor Foster] Friess dismissed that margin, arguing that a 350,000 vote flip across four states (which he couldn’t name) would have given Romney the election.

“To me, 350,000 votes is not a huge mandate, even though the total numbers, which take into account a lot of those center cities, went for Obama.”

When I asked him if he was saying that votes from “center cities” should be discounted, his answer, in full, was: “Yes.”

I asked him why. His response:

“Because of the movement across the country in the state legislatures. Right now the Republicans have their tails between their legs. What I’m trying to say—there’s no reason for them to have their tails between their legs because the American people on balance, I believe, want free markets. They do not want to have a system where there’s more people riding the wagon than pulling the wagon. I believe the majority of the American people want to be wagon-pullers.”

As Robert Schlesinger of U.S News and World Report notes, “To hear it put so bluntly and unequivocally is still fairly breathtaking: The national popular vote doesn’t count because it takes into account city voters.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Republicans are moving now to reshape the Electoral College to reflect their belief that the votes of people living in cities are worth less than those of their rural counterparts. It is, in essence, a natural evolution of the Southern Strategy.

In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of gaining political support or winning elections in the Southern section of the country by appealing to racism against African Americans.

The states where this is occurring are states that went for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012: Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington. And no, Republicans are not being subtle about their intentions. In Virginia, State Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) shared the following lament:

“If it’s going to continue winner-take-all — it doesn’t matter which side is running — it’s going to all come down to how many people vote in the metropolitan areas and it doesn’t matter what the rural voters do,” Carrico said.

Sadly for Carrico, his Senate colleagues torpedoed the bill.

In Washington, Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) similarly mourned the rise of people in cities voting their preferences:

“A lot of voters in Eastern Washington feel disenfranchised. They feel their votes don’t count,” Shea said.

Washington has a law on the books to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the state’s totals, if enough other states agree to do the same. That’s a bad plan, Shea said, because states have different voting laws and presidential ballots. It’s unworkable, and probably unconstitutional, he added, and HB 1091 would cancel that law.

Committee Chairman Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, asked Shea who would have been president right now if all the states had such a system in 2012.

“I don’t know,” Shea replied. “I’d have to do the math.”

“It would not be Barack Obama,” Hunt said.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is one of the few Republicans to express major skepticism about the legitimacy of the idea:

“To me, that’s like saying in a football game, ‘We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and the[y] beat us in the fourth,” Weatherford, a Republican, told the Herald/Times. “I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker continues to send out mixed signals about his intentions for the state:

He called it “interesting” and “plausible” in an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, but said he neither supported nor opposed it.

Talking to “Newsmax” on Saturday, Walker said we “have to be very careful in making changes like that,” but called the idea “worth looking at.”

But in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel, Walker acknowledged major concerns.

“You concede it would have dramatic impact on the targeting of the state?” Walker was asked.

“Right. Exactly right. . . . That’s why I qualified (my earlier statements). . . . I just said I hadn’t ruled it out. I’m not embracing it,” Walker said.

“The most important thing to me long term as governor on that is what makes your voters be in play,” said Walker, voicing the concern that ending winner-take-all would make the state “irrelevant” in presidential campaigns.

“You would agree it would have that effect?” he was asked.

“Yeah. I think that’s a real concern,” he said.

But no one can compare with State Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) of Michigan, who not only sobbed about being marginalized by people in cities, but also revealed just how unscrupulous he and his Republican cohorts are:

Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, confirmed this week he plans to reintroduce legislation that would award all but two of Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes according to congressional district results. The remaining two would go to the candidate winning the statewide majority.

“I believe it’s more representative of the people — closer to the actual vote,” said Lund, who proposed a similar bill in 2012. “It got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him.”

After looking for every other option in the world, Republicans finally shoved Mitt Romney down the throats of the American public and saw his (and their party’s) reputation annihilated on a scale few people ever anticipated. Their response? Doubling down on Jim Crow policies and declaring that votes from urban areas are not “representative of the people.”

And so, The Long War continues.

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Wayne LaPierre Is A Crazy Person

Crazy insane or insane crazy?

Since 1991, All-World crazy person Wayne LaPierre has been in charge of one of the most loathsome forces plaguing American politics: The National Rifle Association. For over 20 years, LaPierre (who pulls in a yearly salary of $970,000) has served as the NRA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as a thorn in the side of rational Americans everywhere. Following LaPierre’s unhinged press conference in response to the tragic killings in Newtown, Connecticut, many people are just now becoming familiar with LaPierre’s distinct brand of insanity, while also wondering how someone so clearly disturbed could manage to be a predominant force in American politics for so long.

This is the story of Wayne LaPierre, Crazy Person.


For awhile, Wayne LaPierre appeared to be your run-of-the-mill loon, making the standard issue delusional pronouncements about Big Government Coming For Your Guns:

According to the January 7, 1993 Miami Herald, he urged members, “Only with your direct input can we stop President Clinton and his anti-gun allies from RIPPING THE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT OUT OF THE CONSTITUTION.”

As time wore on, hints of the LaPierre lunacy we are now depressingly all too familiar with began peeking through the surface:

Much of the annual convention in Minneapolis was devoted to attacks on the press. “Our media has become the master over the very Constitution that created it,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A. leader. “Forget Stalin’s Russia. Forget Hitler’s Germany. The mightiest propaganda machine the world has ever known is right here in 1994 America.” …

But when LaPierre addresses his constituency, he preaches nonaccommodation on guns. “The Final War Has Begun” was the message he delivered in The Rifleman after the House passage of the weapons ban.

But the first real taste of LaPierre lunacy the world at large experienced came on the heels of the Oklahoma City Bombing. LaPierre sent out a NRA fundraising letter describing federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” who wear “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms.”

The six-page NRA letter signed by LaPierre and sent earlier this month singles out lawmakers who are pressing for gun control legislation and says: “It doesn’t matter to them that the semi-auto ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”

It goes on: “Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens.”

LaPierre was initially defiant once news of the fundraising letter became public, as you would expect a man fundamentally detached from reality to do:

The National Rifle Association’s top official defended the inflammatory language his organization has used about federal agents, saying yesterday that references to “jack-booted government thugs” are accurate.

“Those words are not far, in fact they are a pretty close description of what’s happening in the real world,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La- Pierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The NRA’s attack on federal agents, made in a fund-raising letter, has been cited as an example of the kind of rhetoric that creates a climate for violent acts such as the Oklahoma City bombing. LaPierre insisted that is not the case.

“That’s like saying the weather report in Florida on the hurricane caused the damage, rather than the hurricane,” he said.

Former President George H.W. Bush was so infuriated by LaPierre’s statements that he resigned his NRA life membership and unleashed a devastating resignation letter that was a salvo against LaPierre and his radical vision for the NRA:

I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.

Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country — and serve it well he did.

In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.

John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.’s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.

Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government’s “go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens.” (Your words)

I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.


George Bush

Eventually, LaPierre would apologize, saying, “If anyone thought the intention was to paint all federal law enforcement officials with the same broad brush, I’m sorry.” He even managed to survive an attempt by a rival and more extreme NRA official to oust him from power.

Naturally, it surprised no one when only a few years later, LaPierre again unleashed a deranged attack against the Clinton Administration, this time accusing President Clinton of enabling violence in America in order to pass his gun control agenda:

“I’ve come to believe he needs a certain level of violence in this country,” LaPierre told ABC News on the March 15, 2000 episode of Nightline. “He’s willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda. And the vice president, too. I mean, how else can you explain this dishonesty we get out of the administration?”

Of course, if there is anyone who knows about accountability to the people, it’s Wayne LaPierre. Just check out the way he responded to the father of a student who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings:

A couple of years after his 15-year-old son Daniel was killed in the Columbine high school shooting in April 1999, Tom Mauser bumped into Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, at a charity event.

It was a fortuitous meeting for Mauser. In the months after the massacre, in which 12 students and a teacher died, LaPierre had been seminal in lobbying against a Congressional bill that would have closed the gun show loophole that allows firearms to be sold by private sellers without any background check on the purchaser. The loophole was exploited by the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, to procure their weapons.

After the bill collapsed, Mauser had written to the NRA asking why it had so fiercely opposed such a sensible safeguard to prevent future tragedies. “I wrote: ‘Do you have any idea what it’s like to go through this, to lose your son in that way? Why are you doing this?'” Mauser says.

Mauser was surprised by the NRA’s response. Or lack of it. The NRA simply did not reply.

So he raised the matter with LaPierre when he happened upon him, and LaPierre, being the polite and affable character he is widely said to be, promised to find out what had happened to the letter. Months passed, and still Mauser received no reply, so in 2002 he presented a copy of the same letter to the Washington offices of the NRA and picketed outside the front door.

For his pains, the NRA called the police and Mauser was arrested. He repeated the action in 2005, and was arrested again. “It became clear to me, LaPierre would rather have me arrested than talk to me, reply to my letter or even acknowledge me as a human being.”

This is the man who stands between the United States of America being a land where mass killings are a routine part of everyday life or a country where people are free to live without fear that today is the day they become another innocent life extinguished. This is a man who told the Senate in 1999, “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone,” and now today says, “background checks will never be ‘universal’ — because criminals will never submit to them.”

It is time to end the radical and violent hold Wayne LaPierre has maintained on American culture and society. It is time to contact your elected representatives and tell them that Wayne LaPierre is a crazy person, and no decent human being could possibly support him. Or, to put it in a way even an unbalanced zealot like Wayne LaPierre can understand:

It is time to take our country back.

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It’s Time To Start Recognizing Female Athletes As Human Beings, Not Sex Objects

I am pleased to welcome another highly talented addition to the writing stable here at Modern Age Revolution, Jillian Pfennig. Jillian is a freelance photographer based in Los Angeles, and will be writing with an eye on women’s rights, sexuality and exploitation, and what it’s like to continuously realize that the world is infinitely more fucked up than you could have ever imagined. — Teddy Tutson
The Olympics are the talk of the world right now–Twitter is literally blowing up about it–yet when it comes to female athletes, how come the only thing that seems to be mentioned is their bodies, either positive or negative?

For instance, Women’s Beach Volleyball players no longer have to wear bikinis while playing, a rule that was changed by the International Volleyball Federation, motivated by cultural sensitivity. Although no countries were listed, a spokesman said, “Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible.” Furthermore, since London is not the warmest of climates, bikinis will be unsafe during most of the games. Cold weather causes pulled muscles and lack of movement, so the outfit change benefits both the players and the game. This has caused quite the uproar, resulting in men complaining about the change in outfit. The worse part is that they are not even trying to be subtle.

According to a press release from Virgin Atlantic, “Virgin Atlantic has come to the rescue of red-blooded males across the UK by offering to provide banks of patio heaters around the courts…so that competing beauties will continue to wear bikini bottoms.” It is appalling that they call the women “beauties” instead of “athletes.” It is even more appalling that they aren’t even trying to hide the only reason they watch the sport is to view women as sex objects. During a press conference with Olympic female volleyball players, there were no questions about how they are preparing for the games, or strategies around winning–the uniform dominated all questions. Not to mention that every picture in the media of Women’s Beach Volleyball is from behind or women hugging. This poses the question of whether or not people will continue to watch if the players change their uniform. However, due to the new rules, it is the athletes’ time to decide how they want to be viewed. They have the power to wear the correct clothes for the climate, risk a lack of viewership, but gain respect for the sport, or give the “red-blooded males” what they want and continue to make a mockery of their sport.

Another example of conversations surrounding Olympic women athletes’ bodies involves Zoe Smith, a British Olympic weightlifter. A twitter user, “Infidel1978”, first remarked on the women’s appearance after “Girl Power- Going For the Gold,” a BBC documentary aired. “I wouldn’t even look at you,” infidel1978 tweeted attacking Smith and teammates Hannah Powell and Helen Jewel. “I’d think you was a bloke and so would 9 out of 10 lads.” After a few tweets back and forth, both Twitter accounts have been deleted. However, Smith followed up by writing a blog post explaining the scrutiny women in her field have to deal with.

“We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that,” Smith wrote. “What makes them think that we even want them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place?

“Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favorably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?

“This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any woman with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.”

Once again, this girl works her entire life to make it to the Olympics and has to put up with unwanted attention about how strange men are not attracted to her, which doesn’t matter in any way. It’s infuriating how the conversations have strayed so far away from the athletics and what the Olympics are supposed to be about.

Finally, another example of the inequalities that female athletes have to worry about involve Australian hurdler, Michelle Jenneke. At only 19, she should be on top of the world right now as she gets ready to run hurdles at the Olympics. Yet instead of anyone talking about her hurdling abilities, the only thing people are talking about is whether or not she will pose nude for They have offered to make a sizable donation to the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) if she says yes to their offer.’s Martin Ellison told XBIZ, “Michelle Jenneke has shown a sex appeal that’s uncommon in female athletes and we want Michelle to know that she can use her sexuality to not only raise her profile but also benefit athletes all over her country.”

It is time to recognize female athletes for the amazing talents they have and stop treating them like pieces of meat. It shouldn’t and doesn’t matter what female or male athletes look like, it should only matter how they play their sport. Michelle Jenneke posing nude will only go on to make a mockery of her and female athletes in general. Zoe Smith has the right idea by keeping her focus on her sport and not listening to what others are saying about her. Let’s hope Jenneke and the beach volleyball players also do their part for female athletes, as well as females all over the world in putting a stop to the inequality. Although they can not control how people view them, or what people say about them, they can and do have control of continuing to play into stereotypes and how they respond to interviews, offers, etc.

It is time for female athletes to take back the Olympics and finally make it about their athletic abilities.

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As it is a fundamental fact that the Civil War is still very much alive in every aspect of culture and society within the United States of America, it behooves us to have clear terms and identities of the opposition the forces of equality are up against.

As a country, we have long had two identities locked in constant competition for the levers of power. On one side are individuals who believe that our nation should be a place where the long arc of the moral universe bending towards justice exists as a primary fixture in our advancement as a society, not just as an abstraction rarely manifesting itself in our daily lives.

The other side is inhabited by a people who believe that subordination of those without white skin is ordained by Providence and that the assumption of equality between races is principally, socially, morally, and politically wrong.

These people are known as Confederates.

They currently reside in the Republican Party. (ed. note: Many of them also hide in the Democratic Party under such names as “Blue Dog Democrat” and “being elected as a Democratic Senator in West Virginia.”)

This series will forever serve as a reminder of the Confederacy’s legacy of unleashing brutality and hostility when confronted with the idea of respecting democracy and basic human rights, and its mortal fear of progress and large-scale societal advancement.


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Why Did It Take Us This Long To Uncover That Memorial Day Originated With Former Slaves?

Via Professor David Blight of Yale University comes this amazing revelation regarding the history of Memorial Day, or as it was once known, “Decoration Day”:

After a long siege, a prolonged bombardment for months from all around the harbor, and numerous fires, the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Yes, that’s right, a contingent of black Americans–most of them former slaves–“conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.” And what did those commemorations include exactly?

At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture.

Following the solemn dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: they enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches, and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantry participating was the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th U.S. Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Decoration Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been all about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic, and not about state rights, defense of home, nor merely soldiers’ valor and sacrifice.

Now…how is it even remotely possible that such a remarkable aspect of the United States of America’s history could be lost for such an incredible length of time? Would you believe the answer has something to do with institutionalized white supremacy? (Ed. note: Yes. You would.)

According to a reminiscence written long after the fact, “several slight disturbances” occurred during the ceremonies on this first Decoration Day, as well as “much harsh talk about the event locally afterward.” But a measure of how white Charlestonians suppressed from memory this founding in favor of their own creation of the practice later came fifty-one years afterward, when the president of the Ladies Memorial Association of Charleston received an inquiry about the May 1, 1865 parade. A United Daughters of the Confederacy official from New Orleans wanted to know if it was true that blacks had engaged in such a burial rite. Mrs. S. C. Beckwith responded tersely: “I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this.” In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream dominance.

The reason Mrs. Beckwith “was unable to gather any official information” is that she was desperately trying to prevent her worldview of institutionalized white supremacy from being destroyed.

On this Memorial Day, let us all strive to make amends for the Mrs. Beckwiths of the world. It is the least we can do to honor the many and varied sacrifices of all those who came before us.

Regardless of their skin color.

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The 2012 Condoleezza Rice “Probably The Most Important Essay Maybe Written This Year” Award – Nominee #1

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine has composed a fantastic dissection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), one of the greatest frauds in the history of American politics. Chait’s piece seeks to answer the mystery of how “Ryan managed to occupy these two roles in our national life—Fiscy award-winning spokesman for those Americans demanding a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit, and slayer of bipartisan deficit agreements—simultaneously?”

Here is one of the best explanations I have seen to date of the intellectual sham that is Paul Ryan’s political career:

After Obama assailed Ryan’s budget, [New York Times business columnist James] Stewart wrote a second column insisting that Ryan’s plans were just the sort of goals liberals shared. He quoted Ryan as writing, in his manifesto, “The social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens.” Stewart is flabbergasted that Democrats could be so partisan as to attack a figure who believes something so uncontroversial. “Does anyone,” Stewart wrote in his follow-up, “Democrat or Republican, seriously disagree?”

The disagreement, I suggested to Stewart, is that Ryan believes the social safety net is failing society’s most vulnerable citizens by spending too much money on them. As Ryan has said, “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency”—which is to say, plying the poor with such inducements as food stamps and health insurance for their children has sapped their desire to achieve, a problem Ryan proposes to solve by targeting them for the lion’s share of deficit reduction. Stewart waves away the distinction. “I was pointing out that, at least rhetorically, you can find some common ground,” he says. Stewart, explaining his evaluation of Ryan to me, repeatedly cited the missing details in his plan as a hopeful sign of Ryan’s accommodating aims. “He seems very straightforward,” he tells me. “He doesn’t seem cunning. He seems very genuine.”

Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks. These were created out of a belief that mainstream economists were hopelessly biased to the left, and crafted an alternative intellectual ecosystem in which conservative beliefs—the planet is not getting warmer, the economy is not growing more unequal—can flourish, undisturbed by skepticism. Ryan is intimately versed in the blend of fact, pseudo-fact, and pure imagination inhabiting this realm.

Go check out the full piece. It’s essential reading in preparation for the next phase of the general election.

(An explanation of the award’s name can be found here.)

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The Exasperation of A Dialogue

I am pleased to introduce a great friend as the first addition to the writing stable here at Modern Age Revolution, the electrifying Humberto Guida.

He might have the talent and charisma to save the world from injustice, but chose a career in media and entertainment instead. He enjoys covering everything from pop culture to politics and has distinguished himself as a writer, producer, and comedian. Humberto is based in Los Angeles by way of Miami, where he first made a name for himself as an alternative columnist after a manic-yet-supportive Cuban-American upbringing.

Welcome to the Modern Age Revolution team, Humberto. Glad to have you on board. — Teddy Tutson

I’m doing stand up in a Marina Del Rey bar the other night. Two tourists – a white, middle-aged, Middle American couple, both of whom have the same short haircut – enjoy the free comedy show during their steak dinner and Coors. I can’t help it. I ask whom they are voting for. “Anyone but Obama,” the crew cut donning, blonde woman replies. “He’s a jerk.”

After assuring the crowd that a black man doesn’t have a chance with them, to which they smirk, I ask why they thought he was a jerk. “He doesn’t have American values,” she says. Now, I’m something of a mind reader. So I playfully exclaim, “You’re not a Newt Supporter are you? I can see it in your face.”

They both nod yes.

I yell, “No!”

I try asking the woman if she sees any conflicting logic in thinking President Barack Obama, a man who is a model husband and father (we know this because if he so much as popped a boner at the thought of another woman or if his kids ever did anything remotely rambunctious, Fox News would have run a marathon news cycle about it by now), a man who by all accounts made a success of himself through his own hard work and talent, a man who rarely even raises his voice when confronted by his enemies, that he could be the antithesis of American values.

Yet Newt Gringrich, a man who left one of his three wives, the cancer-stricken one, on her hospital bed to run away with his current, glassy-eyed mannequin, a man who has asked for open marriage, a man who sparked a government shutdown during his term as Speaker. Somehow he’s the one with “values”? The redneck woman just nods.

“I just know this country is going in the wrong direction,” she says.

I can’t do it anymore. I don’t have it in me to get into it with conservatives on any level. Speaking to a brick wall gives me a better chance of getting through to someone. Maybe it’s because brick walls are less dense than today’s conservative thinkers (pardon the oxymoron).

As recent polls show, today’s conservatives are farther to the right than they’ve been since the mid 1800’s. A radical, outer fringe Republican circa the 1970‘s wouldn’t even sniff a primary win these days. Not even in California! Meanwhile, liberals remain as close to the middle as ever. We just want balance.

Republican voters continue to view the political spectrum in this country as far right versus far left. What they fail to see is that the far left is very much a disproved thing of the past. Far left is communism. Only Cuba and North Korea can truly say they’re still embarking on that failed experiment.

Modern day American liberals want a balance between public and private interests, not a totality to one side or the other. We are, by most counts, centrists compared with the current incarnation of the Republican Party. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making money. I just think it should be taxed at the top to give the bottom some help up, and to keep the middle from falling any further down.

But conservatives, veering to the right like Mario Andretti on the final turn of the Indy 500, increasingly believe in near total privatization. That’s what is radical. And don’t get me into the social conservative angle. That’s just ridiculous. More and more, conservatives continue to purge any sense of moderation in their rank and file. Their absolute aversion to any middle of the road solution is not just stubborn, it’s irrational.

The irony of their contradictions is often lost on them, as displayed when Tea Party members carry signs in one hand that say “Keep your Government hands off my Medicare”, while holding the lever to an oxygen mask in the other hand, paid for by the same government insurance program that gave them the motorized scooter they ride on.

What is the matter with these people? Are they out of their minds? Well apparently, they’re at least stupid. According to a recent article published on the Huffington Post by Jessica Seares discussing the study of IQ’s among conservatives, most of their problems lie in their simpleton minds:

“The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood…

Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience…

Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.” — Huffington Post, February 2012

The thing is, when you’re that prone to being dense, there’s no rational argument, no set of facts that will move you off your flawed positions. Recently, Republicans put women’s contraception in their crosshairs. They also want to roll back Roe vs. Wade. You’d think that better access to contraception leads to less abortions, but why let logic get in the way of conservative thinking?

Most conservatives, like the redneck couple at my comedy show, live in a vacuum where no one questions their faith in things like faith and not facts. They want it that way. Which is why they won’t even give the real Obama a chance. These people turn off the TV when he comes on. They brag about not being able to stand hearing him speak. They only read or listen to his sound bytes through the lens of Fox News. They refuse to form an opinion based on the real man. So they make up some abject commie, Muslim, Black Panther dictator to take the country back from.

Here’s what Bill Maher had to say on one of his recent New Rules segments on his HBO show, Real Time:

“You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X. And he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet, Saul Alinsky!

Run down the list of complaints about “fantasy Obama”: he wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it. And read terrorists their rights. Yeah, like he did [to Somali pirates]

You see, the difference is the Republicans’ hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do, what he’s thinking, what he secretly wants to change.” –- “New Rules”, February 2012

So where does it come from? Why have conservatives flipped their collective lid? Why does it seem all Republicans are white, Middle Americans who “want their country back” from some evil villain? Did you know some of these people even used to be Democrats? It’s true. But as many of them say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me.”

Understand what they mean by that? You see, these conservatives aren’t really against government funding infrastructure, supporting workers rights, hell, even issuing “entitlements”. That’s what the Democratic Party was all about back in the day. It was about helping the little guy against those greedy Scrooges who crapped all over Jimmy Stewart’s venerable town in It’s a Wonderful Life.

They understood it’s the Democrats who helped shape the America we have today, a country where people who aren’t rich, or white, or male, can have an opportunity. Where the old are taken care of, and the poor and immigrants are treated with dignity and respect. Where women and minorities, and gays, and (God forbid) Muslims have rights.

And there’s the rub. That’s where we lost these people who today rant and rave a backwards ideology about freedom and liberty, while assailing a woman’s right to choose, gays’ right to marry, or anti-discrimination laws that prevent restaurants and hotels from turning away someone who is black or brown. When government began to look out for those “other” people, groups who were once stepped on by the rich white class with impunity, that’s when government became the problem and not the solution it had been from the New Deal through the Great Society.

President Lyndon Johnson famously said after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “We have just lost the South for a generation.” Hippies didn’t help. But the notion that the South is bought and paid for by Republicans thanks to the rise of social liberalism is still true today of course, as one-time Southern Democrats who’d vote for liberal things like protections of miner unions, now run Republican. And with that, they’ve turned over their minds to the ideas that with less government, more can be done about the infestation of poor, non-white, non-Christian people in this country. It’s not something they acknowledge, even among themselves. But sometimes it comes out. Mostly, though, they’re in denial.

Matt Tiabbi puts it best in his telling look at the Tea Party in the November 2010 issue of Rolling Stone:

You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don’t see what the problem is. It’s no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what’s real to them is the implication in your question that they’re racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it’s an outrage that binds them together…

The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can’t; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.

I have a family member who represents a lot of conservatives to a tee. He is actually someone I’m very close to, and he helped shape my liberal leanings. Yes, like many of today’s Republicans, he used to be a Democrat. A bleeding-heart, JFK-revering, anti-Reagan, environmentalist, vegetarian, liberal! Until, that is, the 9/11 catastrophe. That’s when he flipped. Just like Dennis Miller. Exactly like Dennis Miller.

All of a sudden, my family member went from a guy who voted for Bill Clinton (twice) and Al Gore in 2000, to a George W. Bush supporter, who believed Muslims should be dealt with militarily before they get him and his kids. But it went beyond the national security concerns. Little by little, he began to digest the conservative Kool Aid so many men his age drink. It wasn’t just Muslims, it was the welfare queens living off his hard-earned wages through excessive taxation. It was environmental activists somehow keeping him from driving an SUV. It was the queers indoctrinating his kids into God-knows-what kind of depravity.

He began believing the bullshit one must believe to live inside the conservative bubble. Where he felt safe. He bought into the unfortunate ruse that if you defend the rich and white from whiny poor people and minorities, than trickle down economics will reward his middle class existence with a well-performing 401-K or some shit. Oh, and he’ll be safe from the boogeyman too.

It got worse. A few years after he re-registered Republican, he began to think climate change was a hoax, public schools should be done away with, Mexicans are over-running this country (keep in mind my anti-immigrant family member is an immigrant himself), and–I couldn’t believe this one–he recently questioned evolution saying, “You expect me to believe we came from some slime in the ocean.” He’s not even religious!

The evolution denying was like a punch in the gut to my respect for the man. The conservatism was infecting his train of thought. I thought it was sad because he slowly but surely disavowed most if not all of his remaining liberal beliefs. He became a different person. He literally used to be smarter when he was liberal. And more likable too! He was fun and adventurous, now he’s bitter at and fearful of the world.

A string of contentious emails going back to the last presidential election broiled into an all out shouting match last Christmas. It began after a few whiskey straights, Then he starts with the rant against Obamacare and Medicare and Social Security. Mind you, he’s in his 50’s, and has a hip condition. Those things he hates are all things he’ll be depending on in the years to come. I couldn’t let it pass.

I cut in the conversation. And I explained that thanks to Obamacare, his pre-existing condition will not prevent him from obtaining insurance coverage should he lose his job and need to switch his insurer. He talks over me and continues to rail against the abject socialism and infringement on his God-given American liberty that Obama and the Democrats have embarked on in his lifetime. To my discredit I raised my voice and it went downhill from there.

Most of us have a similar situation with conservative friends and family. It’s hard to fight with someone you love. It’s hard to have contempt for half the people in this country. I like people. I really do. I’d also like to think blood is thicker than politics. But after a yelling at my beloved family member at the top of my lungs during Christmas dinner, and after dropping more than few of my conservative Cuban friends from Miami from my Facebook account so I wouldn’t have to deal with being called a commie (not cool for a Cuban) or a fag every time I questioned a Republican move or defended Obama, I’ve decided to sing to the choir for a while. If I interact with conservatives I wll finally listen to my mom and not talk politics or religion.

Maybe I’ll be ready to scrap in the coming months of this very important election year. But for now, a moment of brevity, a moment of sanity.

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Only Crazy People Are Running For The 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination – Volume III

“Hey, I’m shocked I still have a chance too!”

Rick Santorum is feeling pretty good about himself right now. A few days ago, Santorum beat Mittens by nearly 30 points in Minnesota, 5 points in Colorado (Mittens won both states in 2008), and even managed to put up a 30 spot margin of victory in the meaningless Missouri primary. And now, Ricky is riding a surging wave of momentum into the next round of Republican primary battles.

But here’s what you need to always remember about Rick Santorum: he is fucking insane.

Take, for example, Ricky’s reaction to the news that the Pentagon plans to ease restrictions on women in some combat roles.

“I don’t — look, I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country. And they do so in an amazing and wonderful way. And they’re a great addition to the — and have been for a long time, to the armed services of our country.

But I do have concerns about women in frontline combat. I think that can be a very compromising situation where — where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. And I think that’s probably — you know, it already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat.

But it’s — but it’s — I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s probably not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”

I think it’s important to note two things right now:

#1 – The current Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is known for his tendency to sob uncontrollably when discussing anything and everything. Basically, the most powerful legislator in the United States of America has the emotional stability of a kid being dropped off at their first day of school.

#2 – Current Republican presidential candidate and disgraced former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, once shut down the federal government because he was told to exit from the back of Air Force One.

“However, those were totally rational decisions because no vaginas were involved.” – Rick Santorum, probably

There is nothing serious about these people.

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Maybe We Should Talk A Little Bit More About The War on Women That Is Happening In This Country…

“If there is one thing we know, it’s what is best for women.  Am I right, fellas?”

It was very obvious what was going to happen to the state of women’s health care and reproductive freedom in the United States of America when Republicans took control of not only the House of Representatives, but also a slew of statehouses and governor’s mansions following the 2010 midterms. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones wrote the following on December 2, 2010:

If you thought the abortion battle during the health care debate was fierce, just wait until Republicans take over the House in January. Strengthened by congressional victories in the midterm elections, Republican abortion foes plan to push hard in the new year. Their top goals: enshrine tough restrictions on abortion funding into federal law and defund Planned Parenthood. And they’ll have Democratic help to do it.

Once inaugurated, it was full speed ahead in the assault on women’s reproductive freedom, at the state and federal level. On the national front, House Republicans got things started with the galling “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act”:

Just one day after Republican leaders pushed through the House a measure to repeal the entire health law, a measure unlikely to even be considered by the Senate, they were back before the cameras, introducing legislation that would permanently bar any taxpayer subsidies for abortion.

“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people, and it ought to be the will of the land,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said.

The legislation, called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” is sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the longtime chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus.

Smith says the bill would write into permanent law existing abortion restrictions that Congress has to currently renew every year.

“Our new bill is designed to permanently end any U.S. government financial support for abortion, whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy,” he said.

No big deal, just your standard extremist anti-choice legislation. Well, except for that provision about redefining rape:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

Thankfully, they removed that provision when people rightfully called them out for being insane.

And then they came back and passed the “Protect Life Act”:

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

When asked about the “Protect Life Act”, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) responded by saying, “I can’t even describe to you the logic of what it is that they are doing.”

And this was just on the national front.

At the state level, Ohio has been busy trying to push through a law that would “outlaw abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat”:

An Ohio lawmaker on Wednesday touted the importance of the fetal heartbeat as an indicator of life as he urged a legislative panel to support a bill that would impose the nation’s most stringent abortion limit.

The measure would outlaw abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. That’s sometimes as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the bill’s sponsor, told the Ohio Senate’s health committee that doctors and nurses closely monitor patients’ heartbeats and emergency responders check for pulses.

“Why, then, should we ignore this critical indicator of life when it comes to the very young?” asked Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, as testimony began on the bill.

Texas got busy with a law that required women to experience a sonogram viewing 24 hours before having an abortion, until a federal judge told them to pump the breaks.

The law, which had been due to go into effect on Thursday, was a major part of Republican Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry’s agenda in this year’s Texas legislative session.

But the judge, in a victory for abortion rights activists, ruled in a preliminary injunction that there was cause to believe such a requirement was an unconstitutional burden on doctors.

“The act compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen,” U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in the ruling.

It should be noted at this point that Rick “Governor Goodhair” Perry fast-tracked the legislation through the Republican-controlled legislature, proclaiming it to be an “emergency priority.”

Before getting smacked down with outrage, South Dakota thought it would be nifty to alter their “justifiable homicide” language to allow the following:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

Up in Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels went from saying in June 2010 that the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues,” to making Indiana the first state to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood in April 2011:

“I supported this bill from the outset, and the recent addition of language guarding against the spending of tax dollars to support abortions creates no reason to alter my position.” Daniels said in a statement. “The principle involved commands the support of an overwhelming majority of Hoosiers.”

The bill would cut $3 million in federal money the state currently allocates to the women’s health group. It also would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is significantly threatened, require women seeking abortions to be informed that life starts at conception, and require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.

But the bill also puts Indiana in a financial tight spot as it risks losing $4 million a year in federal family-planning money that would be eliminated because of the state legislation.

And hey, why not show a little love to Kansas while we’re at it?

Kansas seemed to be one of the more extreme states: it passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks, requiring written parental consent for abortions on minors, and revising its “partial birth” abortion ban. It also passed a law requiring pre-abortion counseling, mandating that medical staff tell women that abortion ends the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being” and provide information on the father’s liability for child support and copious lists of adoption and parenting resources.

Again, it bears repeating: The real tragedy of the 2010 midterms is that they were a launching pad for the next great escalation in the war on women’s reproductive freedom:

In 1982, there were 2,908 providers nationwide. As of 2008, there were only 1,793. In 97 percent of the counties that are outside metropolitan areas there are no abortion providers at all.

One powerful strategy of the anti-abortion forces has been to portray abortion as outside the mainstream and cast women who have abortions as immoral outliers. In reality, abortion is one of the safest and most common of medical procedures, one that about one-third of American women undergo during their lifetime.

It is a travesty that Susan G. Komen For The Cure decided to cut their funding for Planned Parenthood. But it is far from a surprise and it damn sure is not a mistake:

Now, apparently seeking to flesh out the GOP’s social agenda, [Speaker of the House, John] Boehner has invited another influential voice to the table: the far right Christian activist Randall Terry.

As the founder of the extremist, pro-life group Operation Rescue, Terry turned rabid fanaticism into a high-profile career. Known for his outlandish antics and incendiary rhetoric, Terry earns the scorn of most respectable lawmakers. But, according to an email alert obtained by Right Wing Watch, Terry’s extremism has now secured him a spot in Beohner’s inner circle. Meeting with Boehner’s staff, Terry apparently demanded the GOP “hasten the end of legalized child killing in America” and that “unless the Republicans do something concrete to save babies from murder, then they are collaborators with child killers, and we must treat them as such.”

Maybe we should talk a little bit more about the war on women that is happening in this country.

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