Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta


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Ancient History

|English Class | Prudence Potpourri

The Foul-Mouthed Obamas

It’s one thing when your Vice President gets caught calling something a “big f***ing deal” on an open microphone. It’s another when the leader of the free world, a role model to school children around the country, repeats it himself. If he had any shame about that, his campaign would not have used it yet again in a tweet (sent under @BarackObama’s name to 17 million followers—including underage ones) and then used the BFD acronym on his official campaign clothing. (Shame on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s BFTax spoof of it. Can we expect no higher from anyone in Washington?)

Yet it doesn’t stop there. Last week, Barack Obama’s campaign chairman sent out a fundraising email with the subject line of “Let’s win the damn election.” Damn? Damn election? Is that vulgarity necessary? Does the Obama campaign believe that the use of coarse language will turn an unsuccessful plea into a successful one?

And then there’s Patrick Gaspard, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, tweeting, “it’s constitutional. Bitches.”

All this has been well reported of late, but it struck me hard this weekend when I was reading two different books about the Obamas. I was surprised to find it’s not just their subordinates that talk like sailors.

In the first, The Amateur, the author Edward Klein quotes a Chicago television reporter, Charles Thomas, who was speaking with Michelle Obama in the station’s green room moments before they were to do an on-air interview:

“…I asked, ‘Michelle, how are the kids? We want to talk to you about the Time magazine piece.’ And she rose up out of her chair. She’s a lot taller than I am. And she put her hand on her hip and glared down at me. Waving her forefinger at me, she said, ‘Charles, don’t you try that shit with me or I’ll walk out of here!”

That came to me as a surprise that she would use such language so casually.

Then as I was later reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, the same sort of thing arose in the very first scene on the first page of Chapter 1:

When the weather was good, my roommate and I might sit out on the fire escape to smoke cigarettes and study the dusk washing blue over the city, or watch white people from the better neighborhoods nearby walk their dogs down our block to let the animals shit on our curbs—“Scoop the poop, you bastards!” my roommate would shout with impressive rage, and we’d laugh at the faces of both master and beast, grim and unapologetic as they hunkered down to do the deed.

I enjoyed such moments—but only in brief. If the talk began to wander, or cross the border into familiarity, I would soon find reason to excuse myself.

Wow. The sentiments expressed there, so full of anger and racism, and premised on a racist, class-warfare lie: no rich white New Yorker is gonna walk their dog from a cushy neighborhood to some crime-ridden one with barking dobermans so that their dog can take a poop. And yet in this bizarre fantasy world Obama has constructed, he and his roommate seething with “impressive rage” get to force white people to pick up excrement. This is who we elected President of the United States?

So I guess I should stop being surprised at the filthy language coming out of the Obama campaign. Apparently it just rolls naturally off the tongues, and pens, of everyone there, from top to bottom. We’ve known that they are deficient in sound American ideas to govern the country; apparently they are also deficient in the level of vocabulary used to communicate outside of a saloon.

|English Class | Prudence Potpourri

Correcting the Liberal Lexicon: War on Women

war on wo•men \ ‘wȯ(ə)r ‘än ‘wim-ən \ n phrase : an armed conflict against adult female persons

As the 2012 election draws closer, Democrats desperately want to divert the public’s attention away from President Obama’s abysmal record on the economy and jobs. It seems no attack on Republicans is too absurd or too low to make toward that effort. Case in point: The Democrats now preposterously claim that the GOP is waging a “War on Women,” and the  media is shamelessly going along with that fact-free propaganda slogan. With a straight face, they insist that Americans should be gullible enough to believe that Republicans truly hate women and want to enact laws to prevent them from getting any birth control.

The truth is, Republicans simply don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s birth control—or use government force to require a religious institution to violate its sacred beliefs. The GOP wants to stay out of bedrooms and churches. (To nip the standard liberal red herring in the bud: no, being pro-life is not being in your bedroom; it’s being pro-pre-natal care. Using the Democrat playbook, Republicans could easily, disingenuously ask: Why do Democrats hate pre-natal care?)

Women writers from across the political spectrum have documented the fact that when it comes to making vicious attacks on female political opponents, the Democrats take the cake…and then deny they ate it. Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers bravely penned a piece for the Daily Beast (“Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist”), calling out liberally abusive commentators:

Did you know there is a war on women? Yes, it’s true. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.

Right-wing author Michelle Malkin’s most recent syndicated column, “The War on Conservative Women,” chronicled the ugly side of being a conservative woman in the public eye from her own personal experience. In it, she also pointed out that it’s not just liberal men doing the name-calling and slandering:

Self-serving opponents argue that such attacks do not represent “respectable,” “mainstream” liberal opinion about their conservative female counterparts. But it was feminist godmother Gloria Steinem who called Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a “female impersonator.” It was NOW leader Patricia Ireland who commanded her flock to only vote for “authentic” female political candidates. It was Al Gore consultant Naomi Wolf who accused the late Jeane Kirkpatrick of being “uninflected by the experiences of the female body.”

Conservative blogger Nice Deb has dug through the internet to compile another collection of left-wing venom and hypocrisy in her post “The Left’s War On Conservative Women.”

The Real War on Women
It all seems so important, proving our side is the truly aggrieved party—and it is, in terms of not letting a false narrative take root in the minds of the voting public. But when it comes to the phrase “War on Women,” it is utterly ridiculous for that phrase to be used in relation to any Western women. On this International Women’s Day, we need to turn our eyes to the true assaults on women.

One such assault was launched yesterday by the Afghanistan government and clerics. The US-sanctioned appeasement of the Taliban has begun blossoming in full, with women getting pushed back into the burqa and isolated in the home. As reported in the back pages of American newspapers (and on

Afghanistan’s president on Tuesday endorsed a “code of conduct” issued by an influential council of clerics that activists say represents a giant step backward for women’s rights in the country.

President Hamid Karzai’s Tuesday endorsement of the Ulema Council’s document, which allows husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances and encourages segregation of the sexes, is seen as part of his outreach to insurgents like the Taliban.

Both the U.S. and Karzai hope that the Taliban can be brought into negotiations to end the country’s decade-long war. But activists say they’re worried that gains made by women since 2001 may be lost in the process.

While the Democrats and their leader, Barack Obama, have taken to the microphones to phonily decry their ginned-up “GOP war on women” since this declaration was made, they have uttered no disapproval of the Afghan move. After all, if they were to complain, they might hinder the negotiations to turn the country over to the Taliban (ok, perhaps not officially, but does anyone doubt that will be the end result?) so our military can hurriedly leave by Obama’s political timetable.

Surely our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—who used to tout her daring to lecture China on women’s rights during her stint as First Lady—would feel compelled to speak out and issue a statement. But no, she didn’t, even though she, and Obama, had to have seen this coming.

Two years ago, she authorized $500 million to go to Karzai to grease the wheels in negotiating with the women-hating people killing our soldiers: the Taliban and other “insurgents.” Then, in May 2010 when Karzai visited DC and the public expressed concern over his Taliban negotiations, she vowed to a group of visiting Afghan women, “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.”

But feminist-hero Clinton’s State Department has been waffling and weakening on Afghan women’s rights ever since. Now, in the wake of this new and worrisome development, instead of taking Karzai to task, they have stuck their head in the sand and made not a peep about this reignition of a true War on Women.

Here’s a few things with which Clinton and the Obama State Department have no problem, as reported in the story:

Among the rules: Women should not travel without a male guardian and women should not mingle with strange men in places like schools, markets or offices. Beating one’s wife is prohibited only if there is no “Shariah-compliant reason,” it said, referring to the principles of Islamic law.

Asked about the code of conduct at a press conference in the capital, Karzai said it was in line with Islamic law and was written in consultation with Afghan women’s groups. He did not name the groups that were consulted.

“The clerics’ council of Afghanistan did not put any limitations on women,” Karzai said, adding: “It is the Shariah law of all Muslims and all Afghans.”

According to the Guardian, Karzai’s Taliban appeasement could lead to the expulsion of women from the Afghan government and the loss of 10 years of hard-won gains:

The clerics renounced the equality of men and women enshrined in the Afghan constitution, suggesting they consider the document that forms the basis of the Afghan state to be flawed from a religious perspective.

“Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the statement says, according to a translation by Afghan analyst Ahmad Shuja. “Also, lineage is derived from the man. Therefore, the use of words and expressions that contradict the sacred verses must be strictly avoided.”

The statement drew criticism in parliament, where some politicians took it as a direct assault on the constitution and the wider government. If a ban on men and women working and studying together were implemented, it would in effect dissolve the legislature. (emphasis added)

How ironic that just last week, Obama issued his annual proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month, with today March 8 as International Women’s Day. What a history we have developing in Afghanistan.

Likewise, the UN issued an International Women’s Day statement from their United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan calling on the Karzai government to finally get around to implementing its anti-violence against women act:

Enacted in August 2009, the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law criminalises child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women for the purpose or under the pretext of marriage, baad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute), forced self-immolation and 17 other acts of violence against women including rape and beating. It also specifies punishment for perpetrators.

In spite of these legal protections under the EVAW law and other constitutional safeguards for women, violence against women and girls remains pervasive in Afghanistan with an inconsistent response from Afghan authorities.

UNAMA found that judicial and law enforcement officials were implementing sporadically the two-year-old law and were not yet applying the law to the majority of cases of violence against women. The report determined that many cases of violence against Afghan women were withdrawn or mediated including serious crimes that would require prosecution with a low number of cases prosecuted.

“I have knocked all doors to get rid of violence but all my complaints had fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the prosecutor accused me of lying and warned me of dire consequence,” 15-year-old Sadat said while undergoing treatment in a Herat hospital. She had set herself on fire due to repeated and unaddressed domestic violence. Sadat later died in a hospital in Turkey where she was taken for further treatment.

They can quote a 15-year-old girl’s words from her deathbed, but the UN can’t bother to note the deal Karzai had just approved days before that will make life brutal again for all the other women and girls of Afghanistan.

But the real War on Women is not confined to Afghanistan. It is being waged on women around the world, as Nina Shea, co-author of Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide, showed in an excellent roundup at National Review Online, outlining the atrocities happening daily in:

  • China: “If the brave woman still refuses to submit [to aborting babies to conform with the one-child government], she may be held in a punishment cell, or, if she flees, her relatives may be held and, very often, beaten”
  • North Korea: “Pregnant women are forced to undergo abortions, even in their third trimester, for the crime of carrying ‘Chinese seed.’”
  • Saudi Arabia: Among the laundry list of outrages and horrors against women, “Women are also at risk of being charged with putting spells on men under laws against witchcraft, a capital crime. A Sudanese woman was beheaded in December for sorcery.”
  • Iran: Another laundry list that reads like an upgrade to a club membership (in addition to the Saudi Arabia-level benefits, you will also receive…), which includes “The law permits a man to kill his adulterous wife and women convicted of adultery can be sentenced to stoning.”
  • Pakistan: Even as a supposedly more enlightened Muslim society, Shea notes Pakistan’s “persistent practice of forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, a situation that becomes compounded by forcible conversion to Islam [when the woman or young girl is Christian].”

Shea didn’t have room to mention hundreds of other unspeakable offenses, including ones that occur outside the Muslim world, such as India’s pervasive problem with selectively aborting female babies, creating extreme societal problems that are also seen in China where they abide a similar practice as a result of the one-child policy.

The point is, those are the places that are conducting a real War on Women, not here in Chicago, El Paso and San Francisco. It is an insult to those women fighting real threats in distant lands to apply that phrase to a hyperbolic political argument between the Left and the Right in the United States, where we women have it cushier than anywhere else in the world.


*** Cross-posted at Politicalistas | Happy International War on Women’s Day. ***