Published on
the San Francisco Chronicle

The Gang Rape and the Republicans

Behold, 30 U.S. senators who don't give a damn about battered women

The world's tallest domestic dog? Adorable. The world's biggest newborn baby? Sad and disturbing.

Waterless urinals in every new building in Los Angeles? A positive step. Canada's disgusting oilsands and Coal Country, a new documentary detailing the environmental atrocities in Appalachia? Heart wrenching and depressing.

Jimmy Page showing Jack White and the Edge how to play "When the Levee Breaks" in It Might Get Loud? All flavors of awesome. Garth Brooks coming out of retirement? Anesthetizing.

See, it's all a matter of perspective. It's all a matter of context and spin, into which bin we toss the delightful refuse of our culture to recycle and re-use it another day.

It is with this wonky filter in mind we turn our gaze to the gaping hellmouth that is the U.S. Senate, that drab cauldron of grumpy old men, defeminized women and tiny handful of rebellious dissenters, all of whom claim to have your best interests at heart but mostly only really give a damn about which lobbyist will help them best make their next boat payment.

Do I sound a little bitter? I cannot imagine why. Let us watch the senate and see if we can figure it out.

Look at them shuffle and sneer, hem and haw! Watch as they willingly eat their own souls with a ice pick and some turpentine, then step up to the media microphones and try to sound ennobled and magnanimous when in fact they only make everyone within earshot feel lost and fatalistic. So cute.

It's the same old spectacle, isn't it? There they go, tossing around the health care reform issue like it didn't affect millions of humans every single day, throwing in massive compromises and snags just so the GOP can fellate its pals in the insurance industry and a gaggle of aggrieved Democrats can get their egos fluffed and you still won't be able to get a decent dental plan for your family.

But now, just for fun, let's take it a step further. Or rather, darker. Let's go ahead and step right onto one of those large, rusty nails sticking up from the senate floor, so painful as to make your stomach turn, a bit of your lunch jump back into your throat.

It's a story from the dark political underbelly that makes you question the entire setup, rethink humanity, and lean out your window and scream: what the hell is wrong with these people? Who are they, really? Why do we give them power?

Here is freshman Minnesota senator Al Franken's first-ever legislative action, a relatively simple, almost laughably surefire bill requiring the Pentagon no longer do business with any contractor -- hi, Halliburton! -- that requires its employees to agree that she cannot sue said contractor if she is, oh let's just say, gang raped by its employees.

You read that right. It's a can't-sue-us-if-you're-raped clause. In a U.S. government contract. Aimed squarely at Halliburton. Thanks, Dick Cheney!

First, you are required get over your initial disgust that such legislation is even necessary, that such clauses even exist and that the Pentagon is already doing business with such contractors (hi, Halliburton/KBR!), and that there has already been a truly horrible case validating it, wherein a 20-year-old female employee was allegedly gang-raped by contractors, locked in a shipping container, abused every way from Sunday, and found out later she was unable to sue.

Let us pause to imagine if, say, Wal-Mart had such a clause. Or maybe Toys 'R' Us. Starbucks. Let us imagine the appalled outcry. But Halliburton? Dick Cheney's vile little spitwad of shameless war profiteering? No problem. Hey, it's Republican-endorsed military contracting. No one said it was ethical.

But that's not most the repellant part. Ready?

The most repellant part is the 30 U.S. senators -- Republicans each and every one -- who just stepped forth to vote against the Franken amendment, essentially saying no, women should have no right to sue if they are sexually abused or gang raped, Halliburton and its ilk must be protected at all costs, and by the way we hereby welcome Satan into our rancid souls forevermore. God bless America.

Let us repeat, for clarity. Franken's amendment passed with a vote of 68-30. Meaning 30 U.S. senators voted against the elimination of the rape/sue clause. Meghan McCain, call your dad. He's one of them.

Here is where you try and do it. Here is where you bring in the filter mentioned above, try to figure out where to slot such wretched information, how to make even the slightest sense of it.

And then you discover a horrible truth: you can't. Turns out, when faced with such vileness, all filters fail. All balance is thrown off. You thought you had some sort of way to process and attain perspective? You are proven wrong.

So perhaps all we can do is ponder how pathetic and sad these various senator's lives must be, how these bitter old men will now go home at night and announce around the dinner table that, yes, today they worked very hard to help improve the welfare of the nation by essentially enabling rape and sexual abuse, tried their darndest to prevent women who've been viciously attacked from having much legal recourse. And lo, Satan will chuckle happily.

Then maybe these senators will try and hug their wives, or their daughters. And maybe, if there's any justice in the universe, their wives and daughters will slap them as hard as humanly possible, lock them in a shipping container, and never let them touch them again.

P.S.; Would you like a complete list of these 30 senators' names? Right here.

Why look, there's grandpa McCain. There's disgraced man-child John Ensign. Hooker-lovin' David Vitter. Saxby Chambliss. Inhofe. It's a veritable welfare-state who's who of Dick Cheney's sanctum of oily fluffers, and many more who would love to be. Shall we write a nice letter to them? Or maybe their wives and daughters?

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Mark Morford

Mark Morford's new book, 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism,' is now available at, Amazon,, and beyond. Join Mark on Facebook and Twitter, or email him. His website is Mark's column appears every Wednesday on SFGate.

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