More Proof Paul Ryan is Running for President

Congressman Paul Ryan is running for president.   I say this not because Republican insiders have told me so — and they have — but because of his “evolving” views on same sex couples. He still opposes same sex marriage but is now open to allowing gays to adopt — a change from the position he heldin 1999 when he voted against it.  You can read about that here.

To me, it’s pretty clear, 2016 will be Hillary v. Ryan.  And you may think she’ll wipe the floor with him but I am not so sure.  He’s got a lot going for him, including a decent “narrative.”  They are both Washington insiders but he’s young(er).  The Democrats count him out at their own peril.

The Ryan budget

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin)

Congressman Paul Ryan (R,Wisconsin) (Photo credit: Tobyotter)

The House of Representatives voted this morning on Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget proposal.  It passed by a vote of 221 to 207.  The 221 yeahs were all Republican, 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted no.   You can read the official vote count here.  Read more about the actual legislation here.

You can read my full piece on that here.

The GOP’s rape confusion

Recently, I have heard a lot from the GOP about rape.  Apparently, women cannot become pregnant if they are raped.  This information would have been very useful to me when I was younger.  When I was 18 to be exact.  That’s the year I was raped and then went four months without having my period.  Not knowing it was impossible for me to be pregnant as the rape I experienced was very forcible, I panicked and went to my doctor.  I was too embarrassed to admit what had happened so I just let her think I had irresponsible sex.  It seemed less embarrassing at the time (now, too).  Silly me!  If I had just told her I had been raped, she probably would have not even given me the pregnancy test!

(Side note: if you read my blog regularly, you know I write a lot about my life and from what you read here, it probably looks like it sucks.  It doesn’t though.  Really.)

Stephen Colbert had it right; anytime any GOP politician thinks they should talk about rape, they should stab themselves in the eye with a pencil.

You’d think the party of Paul Ryan would know better than to stick its head into these conversations.  I thought they were all about facts and figures.  I guess not.  If they were, they would know that one in four women is raped.  That’s right; one in four.  Take a look around you. See four women? One of them has been or will be raped.  True story.

Since I brought it up, I’ll tell you my story.  I was 18.  I had been drinking.  I was at West Meadow beach with a friend.  I met someone whose sister had gone to high school with me.  Irony:  I never remember the names of people I dislike but I remember his.  No, I am not going to call him out here as much as I want to.  Maybe he’s a decent guy now.  He was a jackass then.

Anyway, I met these two guys.  They said they wanted to see if I was a “real redhead.”  Side note:  I am, and yes the drapes match the carpet.  One held me down while the other raped me.  I cried.  For years I felt better about them because they said, “We’re sorry, we didn’t mean to make you cry.” Right.

I grew up at the beach.  It was one of my favorite places on earth.  Looking back, I see that I stopped going to the beach when that happened.  That sucks.

Positives that came from that:  In college I got the SUNY Stony Brook campus to install  a blue light phone system (seriously, you’d think with all the murders at Stony Brook that would have been a no brainer but it took some doing, you’re welcome Stony Brook students) and got a support group together for rape victims. I took survival seriously and I wanted to help others get through that.  I like to think that I made a difference for some people because it took a lot to make a difference for me.

I am not “over” what happened to me.  I am not of the school of thought that thinks rape is worse than murder. If I had been murdered, I never would have any of the cool things I have been able to do.  I am a different person than before that happened.  Not better nor worse, just different.  It bothers me when people discount rape in the way the GOP has been.  Had I become pregnant, it would have possibly killed me.  Despite the GOP hype, no one is “pro abortion.”  I am pro-choice but if I had become pregnant, that decision would have been horrible.  It is horrible.  I don’t know what I would have done.  My pro-choice side thinks I would have had an abortion but I don’t think I would have.

I am pro-choice because there is one piece of real estate that I want to always be able to control.  That real estate is my own body.  No, right wing, you don’t get to lease my uterus. I don’t like abortion.  In the years since this has happened I have become pregnant and miscarried (it happens more often than you might think, and yes, I am trying to justify what I think it a basic failure on my part as a woman — if I cannot bear children, what’s the point of me?) and that’s why I am not sure if that event would have resulted in an abortion.  I just don’t know.

What I do know is that I should make that decision.  Not Mitt Romney (or Paul Ryan).  Not Todd Aiken.  Not anyone who doesn’t answer to the name Alyson Hillary Chadwick (how crazy will I feel if there is another person with that name?)

So, GOP, you want me to think there is no “war on women.” You want me to think you care about things I care about.  Maybe you do.  Talking the way you do about rape does nothing to make me believe you.  Stop.

You sure told me

I thought I was so clever. My analogy about how I approach conversations with people who disagree with me seemed so perfect. The assumption I have about most everyone who is active in politics is that we have the same ultimate goal; to make the country a better place. My analogy is that we both want to get to the same place — say we need to get to Safeway. I want to take one road and you want to take another, well, that doesn’t make either of evil, right?

So last week, I was feeling all good about my theory and approach and I tried to explain it to a Republican friend. She looked at me like I had eight heads and a tail — but people like you, she said, want to turn America socialist. You hate democracy. I tried to tell her that socialism is an economic system, that most of the democracies in the world (including ours) are capitalistic/socialist hybrids, that most of Europe, which is more socialist but anyone’s standard has more fluidity and upward mobility that we have (and higher standards of living) and that not all of us view democracy and some socialism as being mutually exclusive ideas. And, at he end of the day, don’t we seriously both want to make the US the best country it can be?

When Paul Ryan released his plan to overhaul Medicare and Social Security, I read it and hated it. Merely shifting the costs of healthcare from the government to the elderly will not impact the actual costs at all — we need real health care reform for that. That doesn’t mean I question his sincerity or his patriotism. I don’t blame Grover Norquist for anything the GOP Congresspeople do — and let me be as clear on this point as I can be, any member of Congress that voted for a tax hike, even after signing the pledge, would still be able to go back to their district and win re-election. Talk about paper tigers.

But I don’t have an ideological litmus test for my friends. I wish some of them had the same point of view.

I am a Democrat because I think out government exists to do for all of us collectively what we cannot do individually. I think a single payer health care system would be more cost effective than the system we have now. I think it would lead to more preventative care and the individual mandate is absolutely necessary for the system to work. I like the idea that my tax dollars go to help people who need it, pay for quality education, build a strong infrastructure and first rate military. And I think if we shifted the burden of health care costs from companies — with the additional step of streamlining costs — to all of us, we would make our businesses more competitive. How is that anti-capitalist? It’s not.

Moreover, I like regulations that keep my air and water clean, make sure the transportation I take is safe and my food is free of toxins and infectious agents. I don’t look back on movies like “Boys’ Town” or the novels of Charles Dickens and think — wow, we had it so good then.

And I like NASA. When President Kennedy reached for the stars, we did more than send men to the moon, we inspired generations of kids to go into sciences. The technological advancements achieved through the space program can be seen everywhere.

And I am an optimist. I don’t think we need a civil war to fix our country because I agree with Bill Clinton when he said “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed with what’s right with America.”

These are not the opinions of someone who wants us to lose our freedoms or change to a totalitarian state. If I am going to try to see your point, I wish you would make even the smallest effort to see mine.