Editorial

This Amendment Will Not Run and Hyde

Here is the letter to the editor that spurred this editorial, and the short version for when I finally delete the image is that a local pastor (and known homophobe) is concerned that a forty-seven year old budget addendum is suddenly not going to be included anymore, despite surviving this long.

Below is the properly cited edition of my response, complete with formatting, (possibly) more pictures, links…and the last paragraph, since I kind of feel like they’re going to take it out, feeling it’s an attack on men.

What is the Hyde Amendment?

A follow-up to Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that, “…blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortion outside of the exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is determined to endanger the woman’s life…” (Salganicoff et al., 2021—hereon referred to the Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF, outside citations). The amendment has never become law, according to KFF; rather, it is a rider appended to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services each year.

Is it true that President Biden wants Congress to stop adding the rider?

While the president made such a statement during the 2020 campaign season (Salganicoff et al., 2021), the decision is not ultimately up to him. KFF says, “While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, President Joseph R. Biden called for the removal of the Hyde Amendment from congressional appropriations bills. While the president may have a position opposing the Hyde Amendment, any change to the policy would require approval by Congress.” (Salganicoff et al., 2021) Meaning that—theoretically—as long as there are lawmakers who are against the government paying for abortion, the Hyde Amendment will continue to be enacted if said lawmakers can find sufficient support.

 

The next question is not in my original draft because I didn’t think about it until after submission. (Plus, they cap you out at three hundred words.)

Doesn’t Biden have the power to veto the Hyde Amendment if (say) Joni Ernst were to add it to the budget and garner enough support to get it passed?

CIVICS LESSON!

The president has ten days to make a decision on any bill as presented to him by Congress (excluding Sundays), at which point, he can sign off on a general veto or simply pocket it. (Line item vetos were discontinued in 1998; more on that in a minute. [Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, 2021])

A general veto requires the president to return the bill in the ten day period, often writing a note expressing his disapproval. (And it has to be within ten days, or it will automatically become law. [Historian, 2021]) Pocket vetos, conversely, are sat on by the president until Congress adjourns. In that case, the adjournment has to be session and not vacation, as the court system has repeatedly supported Congress on that issue (Historian, 2021).

Continuing to use Senator Ernst as our pro-life example, if Biden were to veto a budget bill with the Hyde Amendment attached, the Historian writes that the senator would have to muster a ⅔ majority in both chambers in order to “veto the president’s veto” (2021).

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the president can no longer kill the Hyde Amendment by itself and leave the budget bill intact, as decided in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) (Cornell Law School, n.d.). In Clinton, the Supreme Court declared that President Clinton’s vetoes of portions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 were unconstitutional after six members of Congress failed to persuade the District Court for the District of Columbia of the rightness of their case. (Cornell Law School, 1998)

Is Planned Parenthood the leading abortion provider in the United States?

PolitiFact agrees in a 2017 article that that is the case; however, it’s important to note that, “There’s no complete, centralized database that tallies abortions, much less breaks that number down by providers” (The Poynter Institute, 2017). Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s 2019-2020 report (the most recent available) points out that only 3% of their services are abortion, while 52% centered around testing and treatment for STDs (Planned Parenthood, 2021). So unless Pastor Royston and his ilk are suddenly concerned with the “abortion” of chlamydia, HPV and others, there is no provable way to determine who racks up the most each year.

As for whether Planned Parenthood is “wealthy”, bear in mind that thirty-three states and the District of Columbia abide by the strictures set out by the Hyde Amendment, leaving women no choice but to use low-cost providers. In sixteen other states, the Department of Health and Human Services (or whatever each state may call it) has its own budget allotment for abortions, which means that low-cost clinics may not make as much money (Salganicoff et al., 2021).

What probably won’t survive is the question of how many men are in Congress.

Why is this important? A complaint I’ve heard time and again is that male lawmakers are pushing laws that make decisions about female bodies without any consideration toward women’s autonomy. Sure, it’s not their fault that 75% of the Senate and 75% of the House is made up of men (for a total of 405 [Congressional Research Service, 2020]), it’s their constituents’; but when you consider that any man has any power at all to make decisions about women’s bodies, the idea is galling.

 

For more information about the Hyde Amendment, select the KFF link in the references section.


References

Congressional Research Service. (2020, December 4). Women in Congress: statistics and brief overview. Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43244.pdf

Cornell Law School. (1998, June 28). Clinton v. City of New York (97-1374). LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/97-1374.ZO.html

Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Line-item veto. LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/line-item_veto

Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. (2021, January 1). Presidential vetoes. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from https://history.house.gov/Institution/Presidential-Vetoes/Presidential-Vetoes/

Planned Parenthood. (2021). Planned Parenthood 2019-2020 annual report. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/67/30/67305ea1-8da2-4cee-9191-19228c1d6f70/210219-annual-report-2019-2020-web-final.pdf

The Poynter Institute. (2017, May 15). Glenn Grothman says planned parenthood is leading abortion provider. PolitiFact. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2017/may/15/glenn-grothman/glenn-grothman-says-planned-parenthood-leading-abo/

Salganicoff, A., Sobel, L., & Ramaswamy, A. (2021, March 5). The Hyde Amendment and coverage for abortion services. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/the-hyde-amendment-and-coverage-for-abortion-services/


A Priestess’s Manumission

This is sort of a supplement to my book Exilium, so if you've never read it, you may be confused.

But then again, if you know anything about Roman slavery, or have read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, you may know what I'm talking about to some extent.

If you haven't read any of them, not a problem—you're about to get educated. (If you don’t mind spoilers, that is.)

[Caveat: this is a citation-free zone; I'm just going off what Elizabeth Cunningham wrote. If you want to do your own research, I suggest checking her notes section.]


In Roman marriage, ownership of the wife was notionally given to the husband through a document called the manus. (Slaves also had manus, so you can see how much the Romans cared about their women!) There were, however, cases where the manus was retained by the father, who could then manage and punish their daughters as they saw fit.

That's right! If Daddy caught you cheating, he could kick your little ass.

Or kill you, like he did with Paulina's sister in Passion.

(Pardon my spoiler, there.)

I don't know how it actually worked, but in Exilium, I presented an interesting notion about priestesses and their manus. Since I don't think I explained it very well—if at all—I thought I'd make a short post about it.

 

In Julia's world, a girl's manus was granted to the temple at the time of her initiation. This gave priestesses a wide-ranging set of freedoms, but could also make fathers very angry if, for example, the high priestess declared an orgy—the priestesses' fathers could not punish them for ruining the families’ reputation, because the paterfamilias was now the temple, as personified by the high priestess.

Serving the temple was also the fastest way to manumission, as if the priestess sought to marry a man of whom her high priestess approved, the manus would be burnt in the sacred fire and the priestess would be freed to do as she pleased.

Unfortunately, the temple's ownership could also trip a girl up, as Julia eventually learned.

[Original cover painting for Exilium, which I rendered in black and white.]

If you read the "Not-So-Historical Notes" at the end of Early One Morning, you know what happened to the other priestesses and their manus. But the nature of the kerfuffle over Julia's during Exilium was a little vague.

As high priestess, Julia officially owned her own manus; however, since it was on an institutional basis (as the temple personified, you may remember), she wasn't a freedwoman. In light of this, when Pontius kidnapped her, Livia was automatically promoted to high priestess and the control over everyone’s manus went to her.

Officially, only the Virgo Vestalis Maxima (and the emperor, of course) were superior to the High Priestess of Isis and only they could force Livia to sign over Julia's manus or that of any other priestess. In practice, however, the priestesses answered to the provincial prefect; so when Pontius threatened death or other bodily harm to the priestesses if Livia didn't sign over Julia's manus once he'd decided to keep her as his personal priestess, the high priestess hurried to respond.

Theoretically, once Julia betrayed Pontius and he exiled her, her manus should've been passed to whoever was receiving her in Ireland. However, it somehow got left behind in the rush to kick her out (he likely didn't have his own copy and would've had to go to the provincial record office), so that was the basis of the upset—Julia's manus being on file without a change of possession meant that Pontius still owned her and could do what he pleased. Without her manus, Lucius had no recourse against Pontius forcing Julia into marriage, which is why Lucius paid two hundred denarii and agreed to take as her his concubine. An executor was never appointed, of course, which is how Lucius was able to marry Julia without legal repercussions.

Though if you read the book, you know that Pontius got his way in the end.


A Manifesto of Goodness

One of my dad's coworkers had the audacity to claim that he wasn't a "Good Catholic" because he didn't support Trump.

I don't think a person's politics should define whether they're "good". Which is why I wrote this.

Some (maybe not many) Wiccans, Witches and other Pagans believe that angels are independent agents, rather than being assigned to the Abrahamic god.
Me too. Makes life more interesting, I think.

A good person, whether they be Christian or of another faith, does not deal in absolutes. A good person does not say, “I would think you would follow this politician or that because you’re of a certain religion.”

A good person realizes that the fight for life does not end at the delivery of that life into the world, but that the fight must continue for that life until the Powers that Be declare that life is over.

A good person does not follow someone who declares themselves to be a good person, but who has allowed over 200,000 people to die because of ignorance and inaction.

A good person does not separate families who have struggled to come to this country in a search of a better life simply because they weren’t able to follow the rules due to the government’s neglect of what is often a dire situation.

A good person does not live in fear of words like “socialism” because they were once used in a negative fashion in non-democratic countries.

A good person knows that healthcare is not a privilege but a right, because a good person is a font of compassion.

Miller Fountain at Western Michigan University
(They've redone it since I was last there!)

A good person supports ideas like universal healthcare because it hurts their heart to see someone bankrupted because of medical bills.

A good person doesn’t fight back against things like higher minimum wages and a universal basic income, because a good person does not wish to see others hungry or homeless.

A good person hopes that tuition will one day be lowered or eliminated because no one should be stopped from pursuing their dreams due to their financial situation, nor should they be saddled with unconquerable debt simply because they attempted to be a positive contribution to society.

A good person does not allow the desire for money to override the need to preserve the environment.

This is the tree I named my kitty after!
(It's a Linden.)

A good person does not hate anyone for being transgendered, homosexual or anything else, because a good person loves their neighbor as they love themselves.

A good person does not discriminate against those who are different than them, because a good person understands that we are all equal.

A good person follows good people and trusts fellow good people to do the same, without resorting to attacks or coercion.

 

Most importantly: a good person does not have to be taught how to be a good person, because they are already doing these things themselves.


The Patriot: Who’s Real?

I love this movie. I watch it once a year. I have no idea why I don’t own the DVD anymore. I have fanart, for Goddess’s sake, and my current novel is heavily inspired by it.

I’m not here to quibble about historical inaccuracies, though—if you know me, you know the Revolution isn’t my department. But I thought it might be fun to do a who’s who of the major characters and point out some facts I’ve picked up over the years about who (and what) is real and what’s not.

Benjamin Martin

Real Person, Different Name

RPDN happens with several characters in this movie…I’m guessing so that the writers could take as much creative license as they liked and no one would complain. (Which in one case was absolutely necessary, as you’ll soon see.)

I’m not going to talk about Ben. We all know him, the movie is about him and his struggles to be a good father while dealing with the incoming Revolution.

But what about Ben and the militia using the ruins of the old mission as a base? And Billings’s comment about a ghost that slaughtered twenty redcoats with a Cherokee tomahawk?

While Ben was referred to as the “swamp ghost” (if memory serves), his real life counterpart, Francis Marion was known as the “swamp fox“.

And yes, Francis was a right pain in the ass for the real Tavington, just like in the movie.

After chasing him for twenty-six miles through the swamp (yes, really!), the real version of Tavington declared, “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him!”

Having successfully harried the British with his guerilla tactics on multiple occasions, Francis was promoted to brigadier general by John Rutledge (the governor of South Carolina). Thanks to sharing his skills with others, Francis is considered the father of the Rangers and other special forces, such as the green berets.

As a sidebar, Francis really did have a male relative named Gabriel, but he was Francis’s cousin, not his son. It was his death that spurred Francis to fight in the Revolution, much like Thomas’s death pushing Ben.

 

William Tavington

Real Person, Different Name

I think it’s telling that not one Jason Isaacs fan I’ve met has ever argued that Tavington and Malfoy are equally nasty; but I don’t think Malfoy would’ve ever stooped to burning a church down.

(I hesitate to say that Lucius is more merciful; but at least avada kedavra is instant!)

I’d like to say the real Tavington was better, but not by much. A British historian pointed out that he and Francis had many of the same traits in common: “…[they] tortured prisoners, hanged fence-sitters, abused parole and flags of truce, and shot their own men when they failed to live up to the harsh standards they set.”

You might find this a little hard to believe of Tavington, but in his youth, Banastre Tarelton (Tavington’s real life counterpart) was a big gambler and a womanizer. He inherited £5,000 upon the death of his father and lost almost all of it in less than a year. But he was somehow able to scrape up enough money to purchase a commission as a cornet (their version of a second lieutenant) in the First Dragoon Guards in 1775 and managed to work his way up to lieutenant colonel through his leadership skills and talents on horseback. His ascent was aided in the fact that he managed to be promoted to major the following year after capturing General Charles Lee in New Jersey in December.

There was one significant fact that the movie left out, and another that it changed to fit the narrative.

Unlike Tavington, Banastre survived the war. He went home and became a member of parliament for Liverpool, which he kept (save for the span of a year) until 1812. Despite never leading troops into battle after the Revolution, Banastre continued to be promoted and ended his parliamentary service as a full general. He also had fifteen year relationship with Mary “Perdita” Robinson (a former mistress of George IV who had been with him while he was still a prince), having started dating her on a bet.

“If he survived, does that mean there was no big battle between him and Francis?”

Based on his inability to catch the Swamp Fox, the odds are good. He was wounded in an ambush against one of the movie’s significant characters, however—that’s what changed.

In 1778, Banastre led an attack on a communications outpost in Easttown, Pennsylvania.

His Continental counterpart? The real life version of Colonel Burwell.


A House Divided

or This Was Never Going to Go Well

This, my friends, is the sign of Catalunya at war; of Catalunya in crisis. This is not the flag you see when Cataluyna is at peace. If you're one of those people who doesn't watch the news because "it's too depressing", you're missing a major political crisis in Spain. Scotland's latest attempt at independence has nothing on this.

Perhaps you're not aware that I speak una mica de català. It was the first Spanish ancillary1 that Duolingo introduced, and—despite not liking French (which influences Catalan, being that Catalunya is so close to the border)—I picked it up. Even though I don't study it very much, I call Catalan my unofficial fourth language, and I have a Catalan phrase (descansi en pau—rest in peace) on a shirt. Since I pay peripheral attention to Spain (much like Ireland—and y'all know I love Ireland), when one of the Kingdom's "autonomous communities" (not provinces—turns out those are the next level down) declares it's going to sue for independence, both sides are going to get a lot more focus than they usually do. I'd like the Kingdom to be at peace with itself, I thought, but Catalunya has been striving for independence since before most of us were born. And I don't like the way the Kingdom tried to disrupt things when Catalunya went to the polls.

Did you miss that bit of news, too? Catalunya went to the polls on an independence referendum at the beginning of the month and the Kingdom was furious! They sent in riot police, shot at protesters with rubber bullets, dragged people out by their hair, tore up ballot boxes and generally made a big mess of things. I don't recall hearing if anyone was arrested, but (I think) over five hundred people were injured. 500! I didn't think Spain was into bully tactics, but maybe I was wrong.

"Qué pasó con la discusión pacífica?" I'd say to the prime minister. "Cree que la violencia es la mejor manera de hacer retroceder a Cataluña2? No sé lo que sucede aquí en España; pero en mi país, si tratas a la gente así, lucharán más duro—y el villano generalmente lamenta el resultado."

"Whatever happened to peaceful discussion?"

"Do you think violence is the best way to get Cataluña to back down? I don't know what happens here in Spain; but in my country, if you treat people like that, they'll fight back harderand the villain generally regrets the outcome."

Unfortunately, the answer is that neither side has backed down. In fact, tempers have gotten hotter. How do you say, "scruffy little nerf-herder" in Catalan? And I mean that affectionately, like Leia might have said to Han after they got married. (Hee hee) Go, President Nerfherder! Save Catalunya! After a controversial vote in which the anti-independence lawmakers walked out, the President of Catalunya said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Okay, we're done. I'm calling independence." To which the Kingdom's PM said, "Like hell you are! You're fired, your people are fired, the police chiefs are fired, all the state media are fired…Cataluña is Spain's, bitch! (And I'll prove it to you by replacing you on December 21.)"

Oh my damn. (facepalm)

Would you believe I still didn't know who to side with after that? They should be free, I thought. Just because the PM got rid of the president doesn't mean that some one else faithful to the Catalan cause won't eventually find their way into office! But then again, I continued. If you let Catalunya go, then the Basques will try again and then where will we be (in terms of unity)? Em…turns out that that won't make a great deal of difference. There is no such thing as a united Spain. There never has been.

You can skip this part if you like. It's kind of boring, and my history may not be all that sound…

See, when Isabel and Fernando were in charge, Spain looked a lot like this. (I don't know too much about Spanish history before them.) The crown of Castilla y Léon belonged to Isabel after inheriting it from her brother, Enrique IV; while Aragon belonged to Fernando and came with him as part of their marriage.3 Granada, of course, they conquered together shortly before Cristobal Colon came into the picture. (Not completely sure, but it might have been absorbed into Castilla y Léon for the duration of their marriage.) History tells us that the "Catholic Kings of Spain" (as Isabel and Fernando were known collectively) united those three regions under one crown—but that's not true, either. As it is now, the regions brought under the jurisdiction of the crown retained most of the power, and the Kingdom of Spain was just a big, loose collective. Castilla y Léon and Aragon split again after Isabel's death4, but that didn't keep future monarchs from trying to unite the country. In 1833, Queen Maria Cristina declared the creation of forty-nine Spanish provinces (there are now fifty); but the long retention of their own languages and customs left the Basques and the Catalans (even the Galicians, to some extent) with a sense of their own country and way of life separate from the rest of the Kingdom. After General Franco took over in 1936, he tried to use his dictatorship to push the regions of Spain together, but his commands were only for the duration of his reign—when the Kingdom returned in 1975, it attempted to find a way to appease all sides in its push for democracy. The constitution allowed for the creation of the present autonomous communities, allowing Spain to achieve a "separate togetherness", or for it to be considered a "nation of nations".

Boring part over!

Wow, I thought. If Spain has never really been together-together, what difference does it make if Catalunya declares for themselves? I know Catalunya is prosperous, but I don't know how much of a financial impact there will be on the rest of the country—and you know how I hate crunching numbers! When the constitution was written (back when the current king's father came to power), they threw around phrases like "indissoluble ties of unity", but how can you claim that the Kingdom is united if what you have now is just a modernized version of the fifteenth century Kingdom with democracy thrown in? If Catalunya wants to leave, let them! If you wanted actual unity, maybe y'all should've thought of that before handing out liberties when you wrote the constitution.

And Prime Minister—really?! You really think bashing heads and generally looking like a jackass is going to win you support from overseas? Even if I wasn't on Catalunya's side before, your childish antics would certainly make me think twice! "Papi! Cataluña isn't playing nice with me! (*throws a giant hairy fit any American child would be proud of*)" Diosa mia! Is this how you lead, Señor Rajoy? Because it looks a lot like you took a leaf from Chump's playbook…and since America is currently the laughingstock of the world, I don't think that was such a bright idea! (I'd tell His Majesty to smack his PM upside the head, but I just heard the other day that King Felipe sides with him. Grrreeeaaat!)

All I can say is stay tuned. The Kingdom thinks it's over, but just because you call a tomaquet a peixo doesn't make it so! (Look at my tiny knowledge of Catalan!)

It's been a long time since I've signed off with a music or lyric video, but every time I think about Catalunya the past few days, I recall a line from a Linkin Park song: "Don't turn your back on me! I won't be ignored!" So here they are with "Faint" from 2003's Meteora.


1I wasn't sure what to call itanother word might be "regional". My intention was a term meaning "any language that is also spoken in a country, and has a basis in that country". Our ancillaries, therefore, might be Native American languages. Spanish ancillaries don't always have to have a basis in Spainthe second ancillary Duo introduced, Guarani, is one of the tribal languages of Paraguay.

2You'll notice I'm jumping between Catalunya and Cataluñathe former is the name of the country in Catalan, the latter is the name in Spanish. (Both are pronounced the same, to my knowledge.) If you're still unsure of where I'm talking about, it's the same place that the news outlets keep calling "Catalonia"that's the anglicization.

3Navarre was considered a separate country, and usually ended up with a sibling of either the Spanish or the French royals on the throne.

4Fernando was never crowned King of Castilla y Léon, so the crown went to their daughter Juana and he was back to being King of Aragon. At least until they decided she was crazy and locked her away, at which point her son took over.

 

P.S.: As I was updating the photos for this (051319), I discovered that that dumbass Rajoy denies climate change. Good Goddess, you're a fucking moron!