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:
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
Now it’s your turn. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The difference between Northern and Southern Louisiana is like night and day. The Gulf Coast portion of the state is full of Cajuns, Creoles, and a gumbo of Catholic orders. It’s a very live and let live kinda place. The North is rural and very Baptist. The KKK is still active up there. That’s not to say that it’s the only part of the state where people get representatives that are racist, sexist, and backward. Take this jerk who is actually a Romney supporter from the White Flight area of Mandeville. No, I mean it! Take him! Please!!
State Rep. Tim Burns of Mandeville, who, in 2008, justified his support for a slate of immigration bills by suggesting that undocumented immigrants had made Walmart unsafe for women:
They’re frustrated by the inability to go to Walmart at night, they’re scared to go to Walmart at night…You weren’t sure you were in this country. Not trying to profile people, but it just seemed like people were concerned, that they were…ah…I’m not trying to say any people there were being rude, or disrespectful or anything, but I could see how somebody, a housewife, could be intimidated to go there.
Walmart actually has pretty tight security, but Burns’ point was that a certain group of people were by definition both suspicious and intimidating. It’s positions and statements like these that help explain why Latinos are fleeing the Republican primary; just 14 percent of Latino voters say they would support Romney against President Obama in November.
Burns is also an avid opponent of abortion, to the extent that, in 2006, he sponsored a bill that would make the procedure punishable by one year in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. He made exceptions for rape and incest—sort of. Rape victims would need to prove within five days of the rape that they had not been pregnant prior to the crime; the rape must be reported to the police within seven days; and the abortion must be reported within 13 days. In cases of incest, victims would be required to file a police report prior to receiving an abortion (a move that would be severely complicated by the fact that the state also requires parental consent). State Rep. Joe Harrison, whose endorsement was also trumpeted by the Romney campaign on Thursday, introduced a 2011 bill that “would make it a crime to transport or shelter an illegal immigrant, or to help them stay here in the US”—similar to the law that was eventually passed in Alabama.
Northern Lousiana means Rick Santorum voters . We’ve been seeing Santorum videos for some time. Here’s a sample that I’m sure you’re going to find a bit bizarre.
This is an open thread but I will post the primary votes as we get them. Polls close at 8 pm CST. It’s the bayou and cities vs. the cotton, white flight, and drill baby drill parts of the state.
The news has been so depressing lately that I thought I’d at least start out with something nonpolitical. Last night I read a fascinating interview with Sophia Loren from the new Vanity Fair. Loren talked about her painful childhood:
Raised in Pozzuoli, a small town of fishermen and munitions workers outside of Naples, Sophia experienced some of the worst privations of the Second World War—terror, bombing, starvation. Born in a charity ward for unwed mothers in Rome on September 20, 1934, Sofia Scicolone was taunted throughout her childhood for being illegitimate. Her mother, Romilda Villani, was a proud beauty who returned to her family home in Pozzuoli to live down her shame; in Catholic Italy then, being an unwed mother was not just a scandal, but a sin. They moved in with Romilda’s parents, an aunt, and two uncles; Romilda soon had another child with Riccardo Scicolone, who still refused to marry her and who would not even give Sophia’s younger sister, Maria, his name. Now eight people shared their apartment. Until she left Pozzuoli, Sophia never slept in a bed with fewer than three family members.
By 1942 they were starving, living on rationed bread, hiding from the air raids at night in a dark, rat-infested train tunnel, full of “sickness, laughter, drunkenness, death, and childbirth,” as she described it in A. E. Hotchner’s 1979 authorized biography of her, Sophia, Living and Loving: Her Own Story. Romilda foraged for food for herself and her two daughters, but Sophia was so skinny her school-mates called her “Sofia Stuzzicadenti”—toothpick.
Romilda was so beautiful that people mistook her on the street for Greta Garbo. She was once offered a screen test in Hollywood, but her mother wouldn’t allow her to go to Hollywood. So she became a stage mother.
At 14, Sophia blossomed. “It was as if I had burst from an egg and was born,” she often likes to say. Suddenly, she started hearing wolf whistles when she walked down the street. Romilda entered Sophia in a beauty contest—Queen of the Sea and Her Twelve Princesses. They had no gown for her to wear, so Sophia’s grandmother pulled down one of the pink curtains in the living room—like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind—and made an evening gown. Romilda took Sophia’s scuffed black shoes and applied two coats of white paint to them. When they showed up, Sophia was intimidated by the more than 200 contestants in their real gowns, jewels, and flowers, but when it came time to parade in front of the judges, she comported herself with serene dignity. She was chosen as one of the 12 princesses, winning $35, a ticket to Rome, and several rolls of wallpaper, which the family happily used to cover the cracks in the plaster of their apartment caused by the wartime bombing.
And the rest is history. Go read the article. It might make you feel more cheerful than the political news. I’ll leave it to you to read the part about Sophia and Cary Grant and why she turned down his marriage proposal to stay with her much older, shorter lover Carlo Ponti.
Next up is an article from last October that I just happened upon a couple of days ago. If you have a somewhat warped sense of human like I do, you’ll get a kick out of it: How to Survive a Zombie Attack
A fight-or-flight primer to outliving the urban undead. Hey, it might even help us deal with the Republican presidential candidates. My favorite part is the explanation of the zombie brain by two neuroscientists.
“Zombies have attention-locking problems. When they see something, they fixate. It resembles damage to the parietal lobe (1)—a condition called Bálint’s syndrome. So a zombie will fixate on you, but if you can distract it, it might lose track of you entirely. Zombies are stiff and have balance problems because of damage to the cerebellum (2). It’s the same way you feel when you’re really drunk—you’re suppressing the cerebellum too.” —Timothy Verstynen, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
“In a human, the brain stem, at the top of the spinal cord, is responsible for the core functions of life—respiration, heartbeat. But since zombies don’t breathe or have heartbeats, the core function of the zombie’s existence is controlled by the part of the brain that controls appetite: the hypothalamus (3). If you hit a zombie right between the eyes with enough force, you can go straight back horizontally into the hypothalamus.” —Bradley Voytek
Getting back to true life horror, Dakinikat sent me this article from The American Prospect by Sally Kohn. It’s about Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York who is going be made a Cardinal soon–undoubtedly a reward for leading the war on American women. On the occasion of his promotion Dolan plans to give a speech about the need to attract lapsed Catholics back into the fold.
There is no end to the terror and frantic posturing when it comes to the Republicans’ fetus fetish. I thought I had heard it all but a Oklahoma legislator, specifically Republican State Senator Ralph Shortey, has introduced a state Senate Bill 1418 prohibiting the use of human fetuses in . . . our food. No that is not a typo. The proposed legislation reads as follows:
STATE OF OKLAHOMA
2nd Session of the 53rd Legislature (2012)
SENATE BILL 1418 By: Ralph Shortey
An Act relating to food; prohibiting the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA: SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 1-1150 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows: No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development of any of the ingredients. SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2012″
Well, because a Christian anti-abortion group [reportedly, The Children of God] has made ‘allegations’ that a bio-tech firm and several food companies used embryonic stem cells to test the flavor of food and even more egregiously used stem cells to enhance the flavor of specific food products. The companies cited included Pepsi Co., Kraft, and Nestle. The accused bio-tech firm, Semomyx, was also connected to Campbell Soup Co. After the original accusations were made, Campbell cut its tie with the bio-tech program.
Bad PR is bad PR. And this, of course, is stomach churning.
But an accusation is easy to make.
The original allegations made last year went nowhere and the accused companies have flatly denied all charges. In addition, it’s absolutely illegal [not to mention unethical] under US law to use stem cells in the alleged manner.
That’s the true beauty of a witch hunt.
All one need do is scream, WITCH! Public passion is enflamed, fears are stirred and we’re off to the races [or the stake, as the case may be]. You can even get a state senator to introduce a bill that has absolutely no bearing to reality. Hell, it might be worth a vote or two.
Of all the idiotic fears I’ve read, this takes the cake. Not only is it disgusting fear-mongering, something the Republicans have turned into an art form, but it distracts from and delays any real effort in solving our economic issues.
Which are very real. And for which Republicans have few solutions.
But wait, let’s think about it as Stephan D. Foster, Jr. suggests at Addicting Info. [Addicting Info cites its mission as debunking Right-Wing propaganda.] If you were hell bent on forbidding any and all stem cell research and/or products for medicinal purposes, the sort that have been proposed for the cure of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or used to generate cell growth in brain or spinal-cord damaged patients, what better way to covertly outlaw scientific research than slide through a seemingly pointless bill outlawing fetuses entering our food chain. As Foster states:
Depending on the source, stem cell treatments could fall under a ‘product that contains aborted human fetuses.’ You “consume” medicine in the same sense that you “consume” food; it enters the body and is processed in some fashion. Whether it is used for energy or to heal a damaged brain is irrelevant to this law.
Certainly no crazier than Senator Shortey, originally unavailable for comment, who told Nicole Burgin, KRMG Talk Radio the following :
I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here.
Oh, good Lord! Is this a disciple of Rick Perry? Senator Shortey claims he went ahead with the legislation because his research led him to believe a law was necessary.
Okay, I want a law of my own. I propose the following: If aliens land on the earth, toting a cookbook? And if they ask for ‘volunteers’ to visit their fine planet? I want Senator Shortey and all like-minded legislators to be the first to board said aliens’ spacecraft. Maybe they can convert a few Outworlders before the Barbeque gets going.
Wednesday afternoon, all the Republican presidential candidates except Mitt Romney spoke at a town-hall meeting in Greenville, South Carolina, organized by Personhood USA, the hardline anti-abortion group. It should have been Santorum’s sweet spot—after all, no other candidate has made social issues so central to his campaign. The forum seemed designed to amplify his attacks on Romney. Each candidate was questioned for 20 minutes by a panel of three anti-abortion activists, who made frequent reference to Romney’s pro-choice past and his refusal to attend the event. In the end, though, the night might have hurt Santorum most of all.
For one thing, the audience was dominated, unexpectedly, by vocal Ron Paul supporters, with only a small number of visible Santorum fans. That’s a bad sign for the ex-senator, since if he can’t dominate at an anti-abortion gathering, he can’t dominate anywhere. Worse, while hundreds of attendees were inside the Greenville Hilton ballroom, someone was slipping flyers on their windshields warning that when it comes to abortion, Santorum is really a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who doesn’t mean what he says.
The flyers referred to Karen Santorum’s long-term relationship with Tom Allen, an abortion provider in Pittsburgh. The relationship ended after Karen met her future husband Rick. In addition the flyers charged that Santorum had voted to fund Planned Parenthood, without explaining that the funding had been included in an omnibus budget bill. Read the complete text of the flyer here.
Goldberg suggests that Paul supporters are taking a leaf from Karl Rove’s playbook, specifically his well-known strategy of attacking opposition candidates’ greatest strengths.
The letter ended by describing Santorum in terms more often used for Romney. “I’m worried the facts about Rick Santorum won’t get out in time for this South Carolina Primary, and pro-lifers will be fooled into voting someone [sic] like Rick Santorum who DOES NOT share our values,” it says. “He just wants to be President so badly, he’ll say anything to be elected.”
Indeed, if you hadn’t been following the primary, you’d have left the Hilton on Wednesday thinking that Paul, the OB/GYN, was the best-known abortion opponent in the race….Paul doesn’t dwell on this stuff when he’s speaking to libertarian crowds, which may be why some Paul supporters are under the misapprehension that he just wants to return the issue of abortion to the states. In fact, speaking at the Personhood forum, he made it clear that he only wants to do that while working toward an anti-abortion constitutional amendment. He even boasted of his ability to win libertarians to the anti-abortion cause.
Ron Paul was not even at the meeting, but addressed the crowd by video feed. Nevertheless, his supporters dominated the event.
Remember Jennie Lin McCormack of Pocotello, Idaho, who was prosecuted for inducing her own abortion a few months ago? The case was later dropped for lack of evidence, but McCormack has now filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s 1972 law that makes it a crime for a woman to terminate her own pregnancy, as well as a new “fetal pain” law that bans abortions after 20 weeks, according to Reuters.
The lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case against any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and four other states during the past year, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of development.
Modeled after a 2010 Nebraska “fetal pain” law yet to be challenged, similar measures were considered in at least 16 states this year as anti-abortion groups made good on sweeping Republican gains from last year’s elections.
When McCormack realized she was pregnant in 2010, she was desperate to have an abortion. She already had three children and could not afford to support another on her tiny income of $200-$250 per month. But she couldn’t afford a surgical abortion either, so she asked her sister to order some pills on line that would help induce abortion. A woman named Brenda Carnahan, the fetus fetishist sister of one of McCormack’s friends turned her in to police.
More from Reuters:
The 1972 Idaho law discriminates against McCormack and other women of limited means in southeastern Idaho, which lacks any abortion providers, by forcing them to seek more costly surgical abortions far from home, the lawsuit says.
The newly enacted Idaho law banning late-term abortions was not yet in effect when McCormack terminated her own pregnancy using abortion pills she obtained from an online distributor at between 20 and 21 weeks of gestation on December 24, 2010, according to her lawyer, Richard Hearn.
But Hearn, also a physician, argues that both the 1972 law and the newly enacted Idaho statute pose other unconstitutional barriers to abortion. He cited, for example, the failure to exempt third-trimester pregnancies (25 weeks or more) in cases where a woman’s health, not just her life, is at risk.
This is obviously a very important case for women to keep an eye on. Someone needs to challenge the slew of new state laws that have sprung up since the 2010 midterm elections.