July 28, 2013

The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

I was taking my dog for our daily hike in the foothills near my home Saturday, listening, as I do each week, to Driftglass and Blue Gal's excellent podcast. After the regular podcast, DG/BG have a little fun with one of DG's passions, science fiction. This week, the question was recommendations for a SF newbie. Blue Gal's personal recommendation was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. And man, did the memories of this dystopian future come flooding back. Atwood liked to call her work "speculative fiction" instead of science fiction. I like to call it the Republican gameplan.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of the book (shame on you, listen to Blue Gal and go check it out), allow Wikipedia to describe the setting:

The Handmaid's Tale is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, a country formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. It was founded by a racist, homophobic, Christian nativist-derived, theocratic-organized cult's military coup as an ideologically-driven response to the country's ecological, physical and social degradation.

Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Islamic extremist terrorists) that kills the President and most of Congress, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order.

They were quickly able to take away all of the women's rights, largely attributed to the financial records being stored electronically and labelled by gender, which allowed them to freeze women's bank accounts, then outlaw employing them (the story also takes place in a future of a [[cashless society]] utilizing [[electronic money]] which leaves them with no funds after this). The new theocratic military dictatorship called "The Republic of Gilead" moved quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily cult-Christian regime of selectively skewed Old Testament-inspired social and religious ultra-conservatism among its newly created social classes. In this society, almost all women are forbidden to read.

Really, how much more "speculative" of the American Taliban can this be after what we've seen in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, et al.? I'm all about end games, and honestly, this is where I keep getting stuck with what the Republican Party has been doing. What do they think the end game will be if they try to carry out this plan of theirs? Sure, they may have some short-term success, but is this the future they want? Do they think that it won't come back to hurt them just as much?

ABC's "This Week" — Treasury Secretary Jack Lew; Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Roundtable: ABC’s George Will; Editor and Publisher of The Nation and WashingtonPost.com columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; and former Lead Auto Adviser and Counselor to the Treasury Secretary Steven Rattner. ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Lew; Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.; Christine Quinn, candidate for New York mayor. Roundtable: former top strategist for President Obama, now NBC Senior Political Analyst David Axelrod; Host of CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Maria Bartiromo; GOP strategist Mike Murphy; and former Democratic Congressman from Tennessee, Harold Ford.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Rogers; Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. Panel: Dee Dee Myers of Vanity Fair, David Gergen of Harvard University and Michael Gerson of The Washington Post. Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Bill Rhoden of The New York Times.

MSNBC's "UP with Steve Kornacki" - Ana Marie Cox, The Guardian; Josh Barro, Business Insider; Jamelle Bouie, staff writer at The American Prospect; Melissa Harris-Perry, msnbc host “Melissa Harris-Perry”.

MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" - Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the CATO Institute; Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC Contributor / Georgetown University professor; Tianna Gaines-Turner, Formerly Homeless / Witness to Hunger Program; Cathy Ruckelshaus, Legal Co-Director of the National Employment Law Project; Heather McGhee, VP of Policy and Outreach at DEMOS; Jared Bernstein, MSNBC & CNBC Contributor; Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); Elon James White, Managing Director and Host of This Week in Blackness.

MSNBC's "Disrupt with Karen Finney" - Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Glenn Thrush, Politico; Matthew Miller, Former DOJ Spokesman; Salamishah Tillet, University of Pennsylvania; Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director, Advancement Project.

MSNBC's "The Ed Show" - John Fugelsang, Comedian and Actor; E.J. Dionne, Washington Post; Jason Whitlock, National Correspondent for FoxSports.com; Bob King, President, United Auto Workers; Ruth Conniff, The Progressive Magazine; Leo Gerard, International President, United Steelworks of America.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Lew; Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Panel: Radio Talk Show host Chris Plante and CNN Political Commentators Paul Begala, Cornell Belcher, and Ana Navarro.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and Al Monitor columnist Daoud Kuttab. Financial analyst Meredith Whitney and Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"Fox News Sunday" — Lew; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Panel: Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst; Amy Walter, National Editor, Cook Political Report; Nina Easton, FORTUNE's Washington columnist & senior editor; Juan Williams.

So, what's catching your eye this morning?

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