Saturday Reads: Hillary’s Glasses, Neanderthal DNA, Violence Against Women, and Much More

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy read

Good Morning!!

Every Friday, Chris Cillizza names the winner of the “Who had the worst week in Washington” award. This week’s winner was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson for claiming that Hillary Clinton faked her emotional response to his ridiculous and annoying questions during the Senate Beghazi hearing.

So who had the best week? I’d say it was Hillary Clinton. Everyone except the most out-there wingnuts could see how brilliant she looked as she testified in Congress and made Republicans like Johnson and Rand Paul look like lightweights.

After the hearings, the media wondered why she was wearing those big glasses with the thick lenses. The Daily News explains:

Closeups of Secretary of State Clinton taken during her Senate testimony Wednesday revealed that her head injury last month left her with lingering vision problems.

As she testified about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, the secretary of state appeared to have tiny vertical lines etched onto the left lens of her new brown specs.

Clinton’s spokesman confirmed Thursday night she is wearing the special glasses as a result of the fall and concussion she suffered last month, but he did not elaborate.
Experts told the Daily News that Clinton likely has a Fresnel prism placed on her glasses. The adhesive panel is used to treat double vision.

“If she’s wearing a Fresnel prism, then she has double vision without it,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, medical director of Fromer Eye Centers.

At New York Magazine, Dan Amira noted the many faces of Hillary adjusting her glasses during the Benghazi hearings and added captions to suggest what Hillary might have been thinking at the time. Here a couple of them:

The "I'm So Going to Veto All of Your Bills When I'm President" Adjustment

The “I’m So Going to Veto All of Your Bills When I’m President” Adjustment

The "Listening to You Grandstand Is Fascinating" Adjustment

The “Listening to You Grandstand Is Fascinating” Adjustment

I know everyone has heard about the latest Republican scheme to rig future presidential elections so Republican candidates win even if they lose the popular vote in a landslide. I’ve got a couple of useful reads for you on that effort. Josh Marshall writes about it at TPM under a photo of a nuclear mushroom cloud: This is a Big Big Deal.

The US electoral college system is based on winner take all delegate allocation in all but two states. If you get just one more vote than the other candidate you get all the electoral votes. One way to change the system is go to proportional allocation. That would still give some advantage to the overall winner. But not much. The key to the Republican plan is to do this but only in Democratic leaning swing states — not in any of the states where Republicans win. That means you take away all the advantage Dems win by winning states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and so forth.

But the Republican plan goes a step further.

Rather than going by the overall vote in a state, they’d allocate by congressional district. And this is where it gets real good, or bad, depending on your point of view. Democrats are now increasingly concentrated in urban areas and Republicans did an extremely successful round of gerrymandering in 2010, enough to enable them to hold on to a substantial House majority even thoughthey got fewer votes in House races than Democrats.

In other words, the new plan is to make the electoral college as wired for Republicans as the House currently is. But only in Dem leaning states. In Republican states just keep it winner take all. So Dems get no electoral votes at all.

Another way of looking at this is that the new system makes the votes of whites count for much more than non-whites — which is a helpful thing if you’re overwhelmingly dependent on white votes in a country that is increasingly non-white.

So now the GOP wants to go beyond making voting incredibly difficult for anyone who isn’t rich and white to making the votes of rich white people count more than anyone else’s. At The Atlantic, Molly Ball reports on her interview with a “Republican operative” who is leading the effort to “Take the Electoral-Vote-Rigging Scheme National.”

Jordan Gehrke, a D.C.-based strategist who’s worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, is teaming up with Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Republican secretary of state, to raise money for an effort to propose similar electoral reforms in states across the country, he told me this week.

Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week. The money would go toward promoting similar plans to apportion electoral votes by congressional district in states across the country, potentially even hiring lobbyists in state capitals.

Gehrke isn’t saying which states the project might initially target. He says he’d like to see the plan implemented in every state, not just the ones where clever redistricting has given Republicans an edge, and he justifies it in policy, not political terms.

A presidential voting system where the electoral college was apportioned by congressional district might not be perfectly fair, he says, but it would be better than what we have now. It would bring democracy closer to the people, force presidential candidates to address the concerns of a more varied swath of the American populace, and give more clout to rural areas that are too often ignored. And while it might help Republicans in states like Virginia, it could give Democrats a boost in states like Texas. Ideally, this new system, implemented nationally, would strengthen both parties, he claims.

Uh huh. Sure. Read the interview at the link.

Connie from Orlando sent me this link to an article about violence against women at Truthout by Rebecca Solnit of TomDispatch: A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year: Hate Crimes in America (and Elsewhere)

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

Here I want to say one thing: though virtually all the perpetrators of such crimes are men, that doesn’t mean all men are violent. Most are not. In addition, men obviously also suffer violence, largely at the hands of other men, and every violent death, every assault is terrible. But the subject here is the pandemic of violence by men against women, both intimate violence and stranger violence.

It’s impossible to give the gist of this article with a few excerpts, so I hope you’ll go read the whole thing. Here’s a bit more:

Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they’ve gotten so used to they hardly notice — and we hardly address. There are exceptions: last summer someone wrote to me to describe a college class in which the students were asked what they do to stay safe from rape. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, limited their access to the world, took precautions, and essentially thought about rape all the time (while the young men in the class, he added, gaped in astonishment). The chasm between their worlds had briefly and suddenly become visible.

Mostly, however, we don’t talk about it — though a graphic has been circulating on the Internet called Ten Top Tips to End Rape, the kind of thing young women get often enough, but this one had a subversive twist. It offered advice like this: “Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone ‘by accident’ you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.” While funny, the piece points out something terrible: the usual guidelines in such situations put the full burden of prevention on potential victims, treating the violence as a given. You explain to me why colleges spend more time telling women how to survive predators than telling the other half of their students not to be predators.

To continue the violence against women theme, Amanda Marcotte gives her take on the crazy proposed law in New Mexico that would jail women if they try to abort a pregnancy caused by rape because the fetus must be preserved as “evidence.”

Of course, the entire idea that having a rapist’s baby would somehow be treated as proof of a rape is beyond silly. After all, the defense against the charge of rape is rarely to claim that the penis didn’t go into the vagina, but to accuse the victim of consenting and then, due to the unique viciousness of women, claiming it was rape for the lulz. Or to conceal her epic sluttiness by having the police grill her about her sex life, the defense attorney question her about it for the public record, and the entire community gossip about what a big slut she must be to press rape charges. I suspect Brown knows this, coming from the same anti-choice circles as Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin, where the belief is that women are deceitful creatures who will lie and kill to conceal how much fun sex they’re having.

To understand what’s going on here, you have to understand that anti-choicers primarily understand abortion as an attempt by women to hide how naughty they are. Never mind that most women getting abortions are in their 20s and are mothers already; the myth that abortion patients are young girls having all this sexy fun they’re not supposed to have and then hiding the “evidence” with abortion is so erotic and enticing for anti-choicers that they’re not letting it go. That’s why hanging out in front of abortion clinics and yelling at patients is so crucial to the movement: They believe you’re trying to hide your shameful non-virgin status, and by gum, they’re going to be there to make sure they get a chance to see your face and cast judgment. You will not get to hide your non-virginity from them! They are entitled to pass judgment, and if they don’t get to do it by shaming you for being a single mother, they’ll show up and yell at you at the abortion clinic. And probably masturbate about it later. You laugh, but when you see behavior like this enough, you begin to realize that this anti-choice obsession with abortion is so profound that “sexual fetish, no matter how sublimated” is the likeliest explanation.

I really think she’s right about the fetus fetishists.

Remember that story about the scientist from Harvard who wanted to find an “adventurous woman” to bear a Neanderthal child? Turns out it was just a bunch of media hooey. From the LA Times: ‘Cloned cave baby’ stories missed the mark, scientist says.

Let’s be clear: That Harvard scientist you heard about is NOT seeking an “adventurous woman” to give birth to a “cloned cave baby.”

But that was the juicy story making its way around Web on Tuesday.

The blowup began when the German magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Harvard synthetic biologist George Church, who is well-known for his genome sequencing effort, the Personal Genome Project, and for all sorts of other unusual and creative projects such as encoding his new book, “Regenesis,” in actual DNA.

In his interview with Der Spiegel, Church discussed a number of ways “DNA will become the building block of the future,” as the magazine put it. The interview touched on back-engineering dinosaurs, by first identifying the mutations that separated ostriches, one of the closest living relatives of the dinosaurs, from their long-extinct forebears. It discussed the possibility of using DNA to build gadgets in the future — “cars, computers or coffee machines,” as Der Spiegel put it. Church also talked about the possibility of synthesizing genes to promote virus resistance or longevity.

As for the Neanderthal baby? It did come up — as a hypothetical. Church said that the speed at which technology was evolving might make such a project possible in the relatively near future, depending on “a lot of things.” He also observed that before any woman served as a surrogate for a cloned Neanderthal fetus, society would first have to accept human cloning.

I’ve got several more reads for you, in link dump fashion.

Stephanie Fairyington at The Atlantic: The Lonely Existence of Mel Feit, Men’s Rights Advocate

Lawyers, Guns & Money: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional

Mia Fontaine at The Atlantic: America Has an Incest Problem

WaPo: Mitt Romney is back. But he never really left.

The Advocate: Law Professor Challenges Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction Over DOMA

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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48 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Hillary’s Glasses, Neanderthal DNA, Violence Against Women, and Much More”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The GOP continues its “war against women” no matter what. I never saw a party so consumed about sex and the punishment they seek to impose upon women which borders on obsession.

    I have a proposal: for every woman who has been raped, let’s move to castrate every accused perpetrator! How’s that for “fairness”?

    If it “takes two” then why should only one half of the arrangement be singled out for punishment while the other goes unfettered?

    Let the rapist run the gauntlet of those crazy pro lifers who scream from the sidelines as they do to those women whose privacy rights are abused by these groups of lunatics.

    If the victim of these assaults must bear the brunt of these crazies then the same should be reserved for the animals who were responsible.

    These people are seriously insane.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    President should go to court to question the constitutionality of the debt ceiling.

    In the debate over whether the president should simply pay bills owed by the United States, missing is the key aspect of whether the Courts would back him up. The bill passed in the House Wednesday, set for passage in the Senate, delays the debt ceiling for four months but ties the action to House and Senate salaries. The courts, including the Supreme Court, would likely confirm the president’s Constitutional obligation to pay the U.S. debts and would declare unconstitutional the link to issuing congressional paychecks. The congressional leadership insisted on reading the full Constitution aloud at the beginning of the session. We do not believe they skipped the relevant sections.

    Under contract law, entities must pay bills for expenses they obligate. So must the U.S. government. The 14th Amendment, Section 4 states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” The “inclusion” is to emphasize those are a part of what must be paid, not the sole items.

    • RalphB says:

      That should be done now, even if Obama never expects it to be a problem for him. There’s no reason to leave a weapon just laying around for the nihilists to use.

  3. Beata says:

    Former Sen. Richard Lugar ( R-IN ), along with former Rep. Lee Hamilton ( D-IN ), have become professors at Indiana University. Lugar will be donating his papers to the university.

    Thank G-d neither Lugar nor Hamilton have joined Fox News! I hope Obama makes use of both men’s considerable experience and knowledge of foreign policy during his second term. They are true statesmen and would be excellent advisors and envoys.

    http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/23730.html

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s good news. I sincerely doubt that either of those former Congressmen think much of Fox News.

      Beata — I’m about to start the third book by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I’m addicted!

      • Beata says:

        I’m so glad you are enjoying the books, BB. As a retired librarian, it always feels good to know that a recommendation was successful!

      • bostonboomer says:

        These books were perfect for me to read when I was dealing with a nasty cold. The plots are great, but Spencer-Fleming is also a very good writer.

  4. Beata says:

    I love the pictures and captions of Hillary adjusting her new glasses but I’m very sorry she seems to be suffering from double vision. I hope it will be a temporary problem for her. I have double vision and it can be pretty scary at times.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That must be awfully difficult for you. Are you able to use those special glasses to help you? I hope Hillary will recover in time.

    • RalphB says:

      I’ve got double vision and have used prism lenses to correct it forever. Never used a stick-on prism though because my double vision is permanent.

      • Beata says:

        Do the prism lenses work for you, Ralph? I think I will look into the possibility of getting help paying for them from the Lion’s Club or some other organization. It would make such a difference in my life if I could see better.

      • RalphB says:

        Beatta they work fine but, in my case, make the lenses thicker. The weight would be a real problem if not for the plastics they can use now for the lens. I’ve got a lot of prism in my lens because without it my double vision is really bad. I can’t remember how much it adds to the cost but don’t think it was a lot. They just make the lens using a different starting material.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Darren Hutchinson thinks Mary Jo White will make a fine SEC chair (based on his experience as an attorney in NY). David Sirota attacks Hutchinson for his opinions (based on a single Google search.) He has a few choice words for Matt Taibbi’s attacks on White also.

    • RalphB says:

      Elliot Spitzer was om Maddow last night and he seemed to think White would be just fine. I hope he and Hutchinson are right.

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    Great post, bb.

    Since you started with a photo of Kirk & Spock, I was surprised when there was no mention of JJ Abrams being selected to direct the next Star Wars film. Abrams, of TV’s Lost fame, also has directed the last Star Trek film & the new one coming out soon.

    I hope everyone will take the time to read Rebecca Solnit’s piece. It’s an incredible look at violence against women. The incest story was a distressing story as well. Of course, it isn’t just an American problem. I personally know 3 people who were molested/raped by a family member when they were children. One was only about 4 or 5 & her parents walked in when it was happening. They did nothing to the uncle & she carried the guilt & shame with her the rest of her life. Many years later the uncle, while driving drunk, hit & killed a police officer who had stopped to help a woman whose car had broken down on the side of the road. The uncle went to prison & died there. Our inactions have tragic consequences.

    This whole electoral college scheme has been all over MSNBC. I’m hoping the amount of coverage will prevent this nefarious (ALEC involved, no doubt) scheme from taking root. Florida & another state have balked at the idea. Read 2 stories this morning involving the Koch Bros & ALEC: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/14136-five-days-before-latest-college-shooting-texas-legislator-introduced-alec-nra-bill-to-allow-guns-on-campus & http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/billionaires_secretly_funding_attacks_on_climate_science_revealed_20130125/

    And everyone will love this – Right Wing radio host & guest railing against feminism. Oy vey: http://www.alternet.org/wwjd-conservative-christian-radio-host-freaks-out-about-family-destroying-whores

    Thanks again for the intellectual workout this morning. Ya’ll have a great day!

    • RalphB says:

      That electoral college rigging scheme also made the broadcast networks nightly news so it is out in the full open now. I imagine that’s why Virginia and Florida are backing away from it as fast as they can.

      That ALEC NRA bill to allow guns on college campuses failed last session, so it’s been introduced again. Doesn’t allow weapons on elementary or secondary school campuses though. There’s a good chance the bill will fail again.

      • janey says:

        If the electoral college rigging doesn’t work, the next thing they will go for is a coup d’etat. Presidential impeachment was tried and didn’t work. All of this slandering and birtherism hasn’t worked on Obama, they are running out of tactics. I would suggest if they want this electoral college change, it must be in all states not just the blue leaning ones.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    This is bad: Tom Harkin will not seek reelection.

    • Beata says:

      Not good news. Harkin has been a liberal rock in the Senate for so many years. I fear that in today’s political climate, he will be replaced by a right-wing nut.

    • RalphB says:

      Since Harkin had a fundraiser scheduled for next month, I’ll bet the fizzle of filibuster reform has something to do with him not running. Why put up with 6 more years of obstruction?

  8. ecocatwoman says:

    Short but interesting story about a pod of sperm whales that includes a deformed dolphin: http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/whales-welcome-deformed-dolphin-their-pod.html

  9. RalphB says:

    Tiger Beat: Obama wants country to appreciate Hillary

    Good piece with a clip from their joint interview to be broadcast tomorrow on 60 Minutes.

  10. ecocatwoman says:

    I so look forward to the weekly Story Corps interviews on NPR. The one yesterday was another really touching one: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/25/170166408/after-years-of-estrangement-eight-siblings-become-a-family Raised in a religious family, when the father found out his eldest son was gay he took him for a ride, dropped him off in the country with a $5 bill & drove away. Kind of what parents do with an unwanted dog or cat. Ahhh, family comes first, doesn’t it?

  11. jackyt says:

    The move to reform the Electoral College seems an ideal opportunity to mount a campaign for abolishing it entirely. The argument for rejigging it could be more reasonably made for a nationwide 1 person, 1 vote outcome.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That would take a constitutional amendment, and it would never get approved. It would take away any influence in presidential elections from people in smaller states.

      • jackyt says:

        I understand it’s difficult to get a constitutional amendment approved. What I don’t understand is how the popular vote takes away influence from the individual voter. The way I see it, one person/one vote equalizes the influence of each voter.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It takes away influence from smaller states. Three-quarters of states have to approve a constitutional amendment. States like Wyoming, Montana, etc. would never go along with it. Right now candidates campaign in about 8-10 swing states. If it were the popular vote only, they’d only go to the biggest cities and states like CA and NY. Either way it sucks. Doing it by district like the Repubs are trying to do would actually force them to show up in more states.

  12. jackyt says:

    On another note, here is an article on the abortion rights battle in Canada, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision affirming a woman’s right to choose.

    http://rabble.ca/news/2013/01/stories-front-lines-abortion-victory-canada

    “A reporter whispered to me that the decision had come and that they had struck down the abortion law, based on a women’s right to control her own body. I didn’t believe her. We thought we might win on a technicality of equal access to a medical procedure but never on a fundamental rights issue.”

  13. RalphB says:

    Happy Australia Day! Two amazing Australian Artists, Gurrumul & Blue King Brown, sung in Yolngu & English h/t Anne Laurie

    • Delphyne says:

      I love that story, Connie – I saw it a couple of days ago. The dolphin, to me, was clearly asking for help and I’m so happy that the divers were able to get both the line and hook from the pectoral fin. What an amazing encounter for the divers and the dolphin!

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Ha ha! Scott Brown sent out some strange late-night tweets with typos and one his goofs is trending on Twitter right now. #Bqwhatever. He was responding to some rude comments from former constituents.

    Then he deleted the tweets which just made him look more foolish.

    • bostonboomer says:

      New York Mag.: Scott Brown Elegantly Dismisses Haters on Twitter

      Last night, with a cryptic post to Twitter, Scott Brown seemed to confirm his intention to run for John Kerry’s soon-to-be vacated Massachusetts Senate seat. “Yes. Get ready,” wrote Elizabeth Warren’s bro-y onetime rival. His detractors were quick to respond to him directly. “Oh we are. You have no idea how ready #MAPoli is to vote to keep you in the private sector & out of #MASen,” sneered one Twitter user. Luckily, Brown had a time-tested comeback all ready for him.

      Whatever
      — Scott P. Brown (@ScottBrownMA) January 26, 2013
      The negativity kept rolling in, but Brown continued to dismiss it with the articulate grace of a sullen teen.

      Your brilliant Matt
      — Scott P. Brown (@ScottBrownMA) January 26, 2013
      He got in a few more (since-deleted) “whatevers,” though it seems that frustration may have caused a slip of the finger at least once:

      Bqhatevwr
      — Scott P. Brown (@ScottBrownMA) January 26, 2013

      • dakinikat says:

        Wow … eloquent and what a speller!!!

      • Mary Luke says:

        The Massachusetts Dems better get their act together fast, because this state is experiencing increasing economic hardship, and a widening division between the affluent classes and the rest of us and we know where that leads in the voting booth.

  15. Mary Luke says:

    The photos of Hillary are humorous but those grandstanding morons aren’t fit to wipe her shoes. Rather than harassing her, they should have been thanking her for rehabilitating the world wide image of this country which was so utterly destroyed by their previous “fearless leader”, George W. Bush and his crew of warmongers.

  16. RalphB says:

    TBogg: The End Of Sarah Palin As We Never Wanted To Know Her

    I’d been waiting for this ever since news broke.