Friday Reads: White Male Privilege Apologia on Display

Good Morning!

images (1)I’m not exactly sure why people don’t get the absolutely appalling display of racism and sexism wrapped up in one big dose of White, Male, Christian privilege that is crippling this country at the moment.  The examples are just slapping the country in the face right now.

Both BB and JJ have been posting about it this week.  Frankly, ever since there was a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seriously headed towards the White House it’s been noticeable.  Now it’s dialed up to 11. There’s not many months left in the Obama presidency, but you’d think he was appointed to a lifelong term by the way  right wing is snarling and growling.  But the racism and sexism are just over the top and white male privilege is driving the media coverage of Ferguson, the latest revelations in Gillibrand’s book, the topics of rape, abortion, and birth control, and even the discussion of what color suit the President chooses for a presser.  WTF?

Let’s start out with the latest in rape apologia. Then I’ll show exactly how they’re basically doing the same damned thing in the Ferguson coverage.   All levels of sexual assaults are prominent on campus. It’s been 40 years since my little freshman backside trained as a rape counselor and self defense coach.  Basically, if you don’t here a clear “yes, let’s have sex”, it’s likely rape men!  But, according to this University President, drunk women are to blame.

The former president of George Washington University suggested that college women should drink less to help avoid sexual assault.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg told the Diane Rehm Show that while victims should not be blamed, women need to not drink so much alcohol so they are in a better position to “punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave.”

Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.

His remarks unleashed a wave of criticism on social media.

You know the drill. You have to watch where and when you walk. You shouldn’t walk alone. You have to watch what you wear. Well, rapes still happen in places like Saudi Arabia and women are dressed in supposedly “unappealing” ways, aren’t allowed to drive or be out without a male relative, and no one’s allowed to drink.  Being held up in a house and being the little sweetest virgin on earth didn’t stop the rape of the so-called Virgin Mary.  Right?  It’s the same language that controls discussion of birth control, abortion, and women working.  It’s the language that says women are property and it’s front and center from the Republican Party.

article-0-16B0E78E000005DC-570_964x852Chuck Todd asked Rince Priebus about the woman problem showing up continually, constantly, and in the latest Republican Polls.  Are there too many “crazy white men” in the Republican Party” these days?

According to the report, obtained by Politico on Wednesday, women said the GOP was “stuck in the past” and “intolerant.” The poll found that 49 percent of women view the Republican party unfavorably and 39 percent view the Democratic party unfavorably.

When asked why the party is doing worse with female voters than in 2010, Priebus argued that the GOP can close this 10-point gap by ramping up outreach and focusing on the economy.

“You know, I’m not sure,” Priebus responded. “But I think the point of that poll wasn’t reported by Politico. The point was if you looked at it, women were rejecting the Democratic party by 40 percent; they were rejecting the Republican party by 50 percent. I don’t think either party can do a victory lap here.”

He continued to say that Republicans just need to “fight” for the votes by countering Democratic attacks and pushing conservative economic policy ideas.

Todd pressed him on this.

“But the problem you seem to have is when it comes to women voters, do the — do the arguments about contraception end up blind — basically putting the party on mute with those same women voters who may like your economic proposals but say, you know what, there’s just too many crazy white guys who have crazy theories about my reproductive system?” Todd asked, adding that Republicans have the same issue with Latino voters and immigration issues.

“That’s two different issues,” Priebus retorted.

“But same problem,” Todd insisted.

Priebus then repeated that the report found that “the economy is the number one issue.”

“In fact women actually don’t really — don’t really — aren’t really moved on these issues as much as I think the pundits and everyone thinks they are moved.

In fact if Republicans talk about things like the economy, the debt and make the case for jobs and schools and education and push back…” he said.

Todd then cut in to say, “Democrats are winning by 30 and 40 points on economic issues.”

Andrea Mitchell came to the defense of Senator Kristin Gillibrand discussing the number of warnings out for all women on the Hill when she worked there in the Little_Rock_integration_protest’80s and ’90s.  There was a list of guys not to get into the elevator.  I heard about it 20 years ago from a Republican Media consultant who basically told me who to keep a very safe distance from in the Republican Guard if and when I ever got there. No wonder these guys turned a deaf ear to Anita Hill and stopped the other women from speaking out.  They were likely afraid they’d be outted too.  Some are calling for Gillibrand to out her harassers now.

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is less than surprised by the revelations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about being subjected to sexual harassment by her congressional colleagues, sharing her own experiences reporting on “the oldest white male club in the world.”

“We all had our stories of whom you’d not get in an elevator with and whom you’d protect your young female interns from,” Mitchell told her guests, Bloomberg editor Jeanne Cummings and WaPo political reporter Chris Cillizza.

“Some of those former senators were actually expelled,” Mitchell added, a possible reference to Sen. Bob Packwood (R-OR), who resigned in 1995 before he could be expelled for serial sexual misconduct.

The panel was responding to the revelations by Gillibrand in a forthcoming interview with People magazine promoting her new book, in which she details episodes of harassment from male colleagues in Congress.

Among other things, Gillibrand was at different times squeezed on the waist, called “chubby,” and told to improve her looks in order to win election. The same day her stories came to light, a reporter for Politico tweeted he didn’t believe her, before backing down and apologizing.

Cummings called the senators’ conduct “outrageous,” but said they were unfortunately nothing new, citing her time covering the Anita Hill hearings in the early 90s, in which Hill revealed incidents of sexual harassment from then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

“We’ve been there. We know this lesson was supposedly learned 25 years ago. And the very idea that one of them touched her, just totally creeps me out,” Cummings said. “I mean, we’re [regressing] here. We’re not getting better. We’re going backwards.”

“So women and men and people who are in this country and covered the Senate should not be surprised. They should be angry. This is ridiculous,” she added.

Again, the Senator was post partum and dealing with the usual after baby body recovery and they were still bothering her.  It isn’t about what we wear, what we drink, who we’ve had consensual sex with at one point or another, or anything.  It’s about them.  They think they have they have rights to our bodies.  So, what other group has to watch what they wear, watch where their walking, watch their body language?  They won’t be sexually harrassed, raped or fired.  They won’t be denied birth control, abortions, or other kinds of things that go to a moral and capable adult.  They’ll likely be jailed, fined, or killed.

For a moment there, things were looking pretty good. A boy shot multiple times with his hands up. College bound. Poor. Innocent. And in response: helicopters and tanks. Maybe this time, we thought, they would believe us.

But that’s all been ruined.

We now have all sorts of reasons to make us doubt Brown’s humanity. He may have stolen some cigarillos. He may have been facing the officer when he was shot. He got shot in the top of the head, which might mean that he was surrendering, or might mean he was being defiant. He made amateur rap songs. Perhaps worst of all, he’s been caught grimacing at a camera making a contorted peace sign, and it turns out that he was pretty tall.

And Fox News has been trying to cast doubt on whether he was actually going to go to college in the first place.

All signs that his life was worth less than we might have hoped.

It’s like what happened with Trayvon Martin, really. Over the course of a few days, he went from an innocent boy holding a bag of Skittles to a vicious, ruthless thug. We found out that he smoked pot. We found out that he said bad words. We found out that he was wearing a hoodie. We saw a picture of him making an angry face. Zimmerman’s lawyers released his text message logs, and we found out that he didn’t speak the Queen’s English

And with each new revelation about both of these boys — some true, some false — we let out another collective sigh. We had been let down.
Of course, we knew that our reaction was ridiculous. We know that pushing someone at a convenience store, or being a less than stellar student shouldn’t be a death sentence. And hell, if you think that throwing up acontorted peace sign, or even an actual verifiable ‘gang sign’ means that you are in a violent gang, well, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you, and a few thousand thug white women I’d like you to call 911 about, because there’s an epidemic going on.

So, yes, we’re seeing the same thing.  We’re hearing Privilege Apologia that supports a Privilege Culture.  Why, Mitch McConnell just even explained it to the rest of them.  Not to worry their privileged little balding heads.  Nothing was going to change under his watch.  Not those horrible minimum wage bills. Not anything that’s going to keep the overlords from wallowing in privilege and subsidized by everyone else with blood, sweat, and bodily sanctity.

Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.”

What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to asecret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:

“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”

They’ll be going after anything that means appropriation can’t happen smoothly. If we weren’t so lazy, we’d have well paying jobs. If we weren’t drunk, we wouldn’t be raped. If we just wouldn’t wear hoodies, we wouldn’t be shot.

Welcome to White Christian Male Apologia and the culture of Privilege it sustains. Not matter what we do, how hard we work, how educated we are, they are not letting us into their club.

Here’s some more headlines that got my goat this week.

Republican Governor of Pennsylvania wants to remove blue laws on alcohol.  Publicly says that the ladies will love it because it will give them more time to cook.

“I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store, particularly, a lot of the women, want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a 6 pack or two 6 packs, buy dinner and go home rather than what I described as 3 stops in Pennsylvania.”

Governor Corbett knows binders full of women want to be able to buy a 6 pack and then go right home to prep dinner because he knows women. And all they care about is dinner prep.

Hispanic College student asks Governor of Georgia question about immigration and he assumes she’s undocumented.  She’s not.

Deal addressed a variety of topics, including immigration, during a question and answer session sponsored by the UGA College Republicans Tuesday night.

“There’s a fundamental problem that can only be resolved at the Congressional level and that is to deal with the issue of children, and I presume you probably fit the category, children who were brought here,” said Deal who was looking toward Lizbeth Miranda, a Hispanic student who was standing up with others asking questions.

“I’m not an illegal immigrant. I’m not,” said Miranda. “I don’t know why you would have thought that I was undocumented. Was it because I look Hispanic?”

The governor replied: “I apologize if I insulted you. I did not intend to.”

 Bill Reilly’s denial of white male privilege blasted yet again.

Denial of white privilege is too central to the worldview that drives his monologues on race, social issues, America’s decline and beyond. Anyone who has read his memoir “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” or his biography (“The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O’Reilly“) or tuned into his cable-news-reigning program knows that O’Reilly is far too enamored of his own story to abandon what he believes are its lessons for all Americans: The beneficiary of a strict Catholic education, O’Reilly worked and worked and worked. Starting in his early teens, O’Reilly made cash mowing lawns and graduated to house-painting. He made a mad dash through local and big-time broadcast news before landing at Fox News. And in recent years, the guy has cranked out a series of bestselling books — “Killing Jesus” and other such titles, with the help of co-author Martin Dugard — while juggling the rigors of “The Factor.” His talent as a broadcaster is undeniable, as this segment on the end of summer showcases.

Admitting that his bootstrapping rise to King of Cable News happened to take place in a society of white privilege, however, is apparently too much to ask.

Those of us that have been advantaged by one type of privilege or another should recognize the impact it’s had on our lives.  Denying that reality only denies the humanity of others.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Summer’s here and the Time is Right (wing)

Good Morning!  And welcome to a week that may set global  records for hot as hell!!!

The heat wave in the country isn’t the only item that convinces me that many folks want to bring hell straight to the US.  Look what’s going onLaura Nyro Stoney End in Ohio which hasn’t got the coverage of what’s going on in Texas but is equally if not more insidious.

Before signing a $62 billion, two-year budget into law tonight, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto pen to strike language seen as a barrier to progress on expanding Medicaid while talks continue on the broader expansion the governor has sought.

But he left intact all of the controversial provisions seen as restricting abortions as well as language allowing local government bodies to meet secretly behind closed doors in executive session when discussing economic incentive packages for businesses.

The governor left immediately after signing the budget without taking questions from reporters about his vetoes.

The budget promises a net $2.6 billion net tax cut, consisting chiefly of a 10 percent across-the-board income tax for all taxpayers over three years and a 50 percent cut on the first $250,000 earned by small businesses.

“I’m proud of the tax cuts because I think it’s another installment in Ohio’s comeback,” Mr. Kasich said.

But it also comes with some trade-offs, including a hike in the state sales tax from 5.5 cents on the dollar to 5.75 cents. The budget also draws the line on its subsidization of local property tax bills, saying the state will no longer pay the first 12.5 percent on any new levies that voters approve beginning with those on the ballot this November.

The budget also holds $717 million more over the next two years for K-12 schools, an 11 percent increase. It does not full make up, however, for the cuts schools suffered in the current budget, in part because of the expiration of one-time federal stimulus dollars.

Pro-choice advocates had placed all their hopes in stopping the abortion restrictions from taking place on Mr. Kasich, but Mr. Kasich allowed all of the provisions to stay.

Those provisions included language making it tougher for abortion clinics to get emergency care transfer agreements that they must have with a local hospital in order to keep their licenses by prohibiting publicly funded hospitals from entering into such arrangements.

A last-minute addition that requires a doctor to performing abortions to first perform an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat and then offer to let the woman seeking an abortion hear or see that heartbeat. Failure to following this procedure could lead to criminal prosecution of the doctor.

The budget also places Planned Parenthood at the end of the line when it comes to distributing Ohio’s share of federal family planning funds.

 Why are Republicans trying to create hell realms in our country and what can we do to stop it?  This includes denying climate change despite heat wavethe summers scorching weather is likely to set global records.  Eight states are suffering.

Forecasters called for more supercharged temperatures Sunday as a heat wave gripped the Southwest, leaving one man dead and another hospitalized in serious condition in heat-aggravated incidents in this sunbaked city.

Temperatures in Las Vegas shot up to 115 degrees on Saturday afternoon, two degrees short of a record, while Phoenix baked in 119 degrees. Large swaths of California sweltered under extreme heat warnings, which are expected to last into Tuesday night — and maybe even longer.

In Death Valley — known as the hottest place on Earth — temps reached 125, according to the National Weather Service. Death Valley’s record high of 134 degrees, set nearly a century ago on July 10, 1913, stands as the planet’s highest recorded temperature.

Las Vegas fire and rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said paramedics responded to a home without air conditioning and found an elderly man dead. He said while the man had medical issues, paramedics thought the heat worsened his condition.

Paramedics said another elderly man suffered a heat stroke when the air conditioner in his car went out for several hours while he was on a long road trip. He stopped in Las Vegas, called 911 and was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

coming to take me away
I’ve been hearing complaints about the heat from my dad in Seattle, BostonBoomer in Boston and her mom in Indiana, and a friend in Dallas, Texas.  Seems like pretty widespread nastiness to me.
So, what other basic acts of science and civilization have these flat earthers thwarted recently?  Remember Bob Dole on the floor of the Senate asking Republican Senators or their votes for the disabled which got turned into some weird twisted diatribe dealing with home-schoolers?  Well, Democrats may have another go at it.  We’ll see what crawls out from under their rocks in opposition this time.

Senate Democrats will try to resurrect a United Nations treaty on rights for the disabled that was rejected last year over GOP concerns it would imperil home-schooling.

The treaty fell five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority in a 61-38 vote in December after former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) led a charge that it would give unelected UN bureaucrats the power to challenge U.S. home-schooling.

Treaty supporters say those worries were unfounded, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel hopes to win approval of the treaty, a Senate Democratic aide said.Menendez hopes to strike a deal on a way forward with the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted against the treaty last year.

While last year’s vote took place after the presidential election, advocates believe the debate got tied up in election-year politics and that a revote this session could be successful.

The treaty would extend the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act to people with disabilities around the world, including Americans living abroad, according to advocates.

“We believe very much there is a path forward for victory,” said Marca Bristo, president of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be putting in this effort.”

Opponents have long warned that it may come back up. Last month, the Home School Legal Defense Association jumped the gun and sent out an action alert to its members warning – inaccurately – that Menendez’s panel had scheduled a hearing for June 4.

“Thank you for joining us in this battle to protect our children and our children’s future,” wrote association president J. Michael Smith. “You defeated this treaty last year. Standing together, we can defeat this treaty once again.”

The treaty’s path to ratification remains a challenging one.

Meanwhile, we’ve got another woman legislator with a sense of humor trying to pass an every sperm is sacred bill in response to the assault on women’s health and autonomy.  This is in response to the nastiness in Ohio discussed above.

One thing is certain about the bevy of legislation targeting women being introduced by conservative men. Women are mad and they aren’t taking it anymore. One female lawmaker in Ohio has introduced bill that would regulate men’s reproductive health.

According to the Dayton Daily News, State Senator Nina Turner introduced SB 307, which requires men to visit a sex therapist, undergo a cardiac stress test, and get their sexual partner to sign a notarized affidavit confirming impotency in order to get a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. The bill also requires men who take the drugs to be continually “tested for heart problems, receive counseling about possible side effects and receive information about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.””

The bill is a response to the Republican effort to pass House Bill 125, which would ban abortion if the fetus has a heartbeat, which is about six weeks after conception. Turner, an opponent of the bill, says if Republicans are allowed to legislate women’s health, men’s health should also be regulated. “I certainly want to stand up for men’s health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman’s womb,” Turner said.

 Can we just label the current Republican Party the party of crimes against humanity and just get it over with?
So this post was set to music today?  Did you catch it? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads: Volcanic Ash, Elephant Speak and Secret Pigeons of War

Good Morning

This morning’s post has many items that are not about Romney, Ryan or the election. I suppose however, we should get a few of the newsy links out-of-the-way first.

The forecasters are predicting cold weather in the Northeast. U.S. disaster relief in a race against freezing cold

The power restorations relit the skyline in Lower Manhattan for the first time in nearly a week and allowed 80 percent of the New York City subway service to resume, but more than a million homes and businesses still lacked power, down from 3.5 million on Friday.

The power outages combined with a heating oil shortage meant some homes could go cold as unseasonably frigid weather sets in. Forecasters saw temperatures dipping into the upper 30s Fahrenheit (around 3 degrees Celsius) on Saturday night with freezing temperatures expected next week.

[...]

The weather forecast remains bleak. An aggressive early-season “Nor’easter” storm was expected to hit the battered New England coast next week with strong winds and heavy rain.

Another storm has been brewing over the last year, the disaster cyclone that is Romney. Over on the Maddow Blog, Steven Benen has been chronicling the Romney Lies. His latest entry can be found here: Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity, Vol. XLI – The Maddow Blog

In a way, I blame my friend Greg Sargent. In the first week in January, he noted, almost in passing, that Mitt Romney seemed to be making a lot of false claims, and someone “really should document them all.” That struck me as a good idea, so I decided to tackle this on my own.

After all, I thought at the time, how hard could this be? Once a week, I’d let readers know about Romney’s whoppers, which I assumed would total about a half-dozen a week, and maybe after the election, I’d do a top 20 list of my favorites. The project would be a nice little Friday-afternoon feature.

Little did I know at the time that Romney would become an ambitious prevaricator, whose rhetoric would come to define post-truth politics. Nearly 11 months after Greg Sargent’s harmless suggestion, I’ve published 40 installments in this series, which, before today, featured 884 falsehoods. (If you include today’s edition, the new total is 917 falsehoods for the year.)

I wish that were a typo. It’s not.

I have followed this series from the beginning, and actually have linked to a few articles now and then. If you want to skim over lies upon lies, then check out the full Mendacity series here.

Previous editions of Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity: Vol. IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXII,XIIIXIVXVXVI, XVIIXVIII, XIX, XX, XXIXXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL

I’ve got several links for you on the GOP’s War on Women:

Bush Appointed Judge Rules Against Obama Administration’s Guarantee of Access To Birth Control

Judge Robert Cleland, a George H.W. Bush appointee and former Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, held yesterday that a private, for-profit outdoor power equipment company can ignore new rules requiring most employer-provided health plans to offer contraceptive coverage to womenbecause the new rules conflict with the company’s owner’s religious beliefs.

There’s a lot to not like about Judge Cleland’s opinion, which often relies on cursory reasoning or fails to apply the correct legal standard. The plaintiffs, for example, sought what is known as a “preliminary injunction” which means that they wanted their client to be held immune from following the law until the court has sufficient time to fully consider the case. Under binding Supreme Court precedent, “[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits.” Yet Judge Cleland never determines that this is the case. At one point, he says that it “remains uncertain” how to resolve a key prong of this case. At another point, he outright states that “[n]either Plaintiffs nor the Government have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits.” For this reason, an appeals court should reverse Cleland’s order solely because he failed to apply the correct legal standard.

There are many other observations about the ruling at the link.

Do you remember that Bishop that compared Obama to Hitler, well…he is making all catholic priest read a letter at this morning’s mass. Here is a good Catholic’s take on the letter and The Vatican’s Merger With The GOP via Andrew Sullivan

In Peoria, Illinois, Catholic Bishop Jenky, who has previously compared president Obama with Hitler and Stalin, has ordered a letter to be read at all masses next Sunday by the priest. This instruction gives you a taste of the legacy of Benedict XVI in his restoration of total clerical and episcopal obedience:

By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4.

It’s a screed about religious liberty, with respect to the liberty of Catholic hierarchs to prevent the 99 percent of their female parishioners who use contraception from getting it from their health insurance via Obamacare. Money quote from the unhinged letter which all but instructs Catholics to vote for Romney-Ryan:

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar. Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life.

Democrats are the equivalent of the mob who called out to crucify Jesus. The man has lost his sense of proportion and compassion and restraint entirely. But so, alas, has the hierarchy he serves.

Here is an update on Planned Parenthood in Texas. Errors in Texas database pose barriers to health care access

Texas health commissioner Kyle Janek said Wednesday that errors in a state-crafted database intended to help women find reproductive health care providers are “a real problem.”

As the state attempts to implement a rule barring Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the government-funded Women’s Health Program, the health commission has directed low-income women­ to use its online database to search for a new provider.

Nearly half of the women served by the program currently rely on Planned Parenthood. The commission says that more than 3,000 providers are available to serve these women, but many experts are skeptical that these facilities will be able to accommodate the women displaced by the new rule.

Read the rest of the horrible situation women in Texas must face for basic services.

The database has garnered complaints from health care providers and patients for producing what they see as inflated and “misleading” search results. It includes a number of duplicate entries, facilities that do not provide reproductive health services (such as children’s clinics), and listings for clinics that are unable to see new program clients.

When confronted about the issue by The American Independent at an event hosted by The Texas Tribune, Janek insisted that the “3,000 providers” figure was accurate and that the error-prone database is “a separate list.”

“When we say that we’ve got 3,000 providers out there ready to participate in this program, there’s no duplicates,” he said.

Still, Janek admitted the inaccurate database is “a real problem.”

Very upsetting, please read more at the link.

More disgusting stuff about violence against women Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe  I realize that headline may sound promising but it is not.

Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.

11,000 rape kits that have yet to be worked over? WTF…

The logging of the kits alone has been a staggering project. “There were no police reports attached to the kits,” she says, explaining that her colleagues “literally had to dust them off” and “physically go through and open them to get the name of the victim, the date that it happened.” A federal grant for $1 million—the first of two such grants of its kind, with the other going to Houston—has helped her get all the kits logged, she says, but the grant won’t cover the DNA testing of all 11,303 kits. “Unfortunately money’s not falling from the sky,” she says.

Rape-kit pileups aren’t just a problem in Detroit. In recent years, cities across the country have reported mountains of kits—11,000 in San Antonio, 1,200 in Albuquerque, 4,000 in Houston—according to Sarah Tofte, who has studied the national debacle for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of kits are languishing in police warehouses.

When Worthy learned of the Detroit pileup from the colleague who discovered it by chance, she says, she demanded immediate action from the police chief at the time. “No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about till about four months in,” she says. People finally took notice, she says, when someone in the police department leaked the news to the press.

I can’t quote the rest, you have to read it for yourself. It is maddening! Women don’t matter, and the treatment we receive from the right-wing assholes is sometimes more than I can bear.

For some perspective on this, check out how a typical white male GOP loving Fox News celebrity views women voters. Bill O’Reilly on single women voters: hot, good at costumes, not too smart.

Bill O’Reilly has been very concerned about the problem of degrading women lately. So concerned, in fact, that he worried out loud that Sandra Fluke had degraded women with her immodest suggestion that insurance benefits cover contraception. With Bill O’Reilly as a fierce protector of ladies, you can imagine that his show’s segment on single female voters last night was a chaste, respectful affair that represented the wide diversity of this important portion of the electorate: the never-married, the divorced, the widowed, the single mothers and the non-mothers, the cohabitating but unmarried, the young and the old, and, of course, women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Just kidding! O’Reilly sent his producer Jesse Watters out on Halloween weekend to interview sexy young white women on the street, all of them in costume and ready to party, so that Watters could leer at their single lady voter breasts and condescendingly make “can you believe they have a right to vote?!” faces at the camera in response to the women’s selectively edited answers to his questions.

My favorite part is when Watters asks one woman, an Obama supporter, if she’s a “radical feminist” in the same tone adults use when asking kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up. After she points out that feminism is simply a matter of believing women have equal rights, the audience is reminded that we’re supposed to find that answer ridiculous with a sarcastic quick cut to a man saying, “I sure do appreciate knowing that.”

Read the rest of Amanda Marcotte’s article, where she touches on the Fox News audience…a bunch of dirty old men. If you missed Dak’s article yesterday on the Fox Assholes...then go read it. Wow!

I’ve got another article for you, about Why Frightened White Men Love Romney

These are the facts you don’t want to know. This is the hard data that can make you cringe, that can despoil the soul and make you wonder at the sad state of the modern world, and gender politics, and the tragically deceived hearts of (ahem) men.

All that progress! All that supposed enlightenment! All that push and desire, that evolution and that open-hearted possibility! And for what? For naught! For shame!

That is just a taste…being married to one of those white men with a fondness for Mittens, I can tell you that I still don’t get why anyone would vote for Romney.

Great, now that all those terrible links are posted, let’s get to the fun.

More after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

I am back in New Orleans and looking forward to less–hopefully no–major events in my life.  I’m exhausted!  There are parts of corporate finance that are actually more interesting than you would think.  We’ve talked some about moral hazard.  This is part of the principal agent problem. This problem happens when you have a senior manager that is hired to run a firm who is an “agent” for the owners.  One of the related topics is corporate governance and the role that the board of directors plays in watching the agents.  JP Morgan has some classic problems as outlined in this Bloomberg article.

The three directors who oversee risk at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) include a museum head who sat on American International Group Inc.’s governance committee in 2008, the grandson of a billionaire and the chief executive officer of a company that makes flight controls and work boots.

What the risk committee of the biggest U.S. lender lacks, and what the five next largest competitors have, are directors who worked at a bank or as financial risk managers. The only member with any Wall Street experience, James Crown, hasn’t been employed in the industry for more than 25 years.

“It seems hard to believe that this is good enough,” said Anat Admati, a professor of finance at Stanford University who studies corporate governance. “It’s a massive task to watch the risk of JPMorgan.”

JPMorgan, with $1.13 trillion of deposits, is the only one of the six largest U.S. lenders that doesn’t have a former banker, regulator or finance professor on its risk committee.

Susan Bies, who served as a Federal Reserve governor for six years and risk manager at First Horizon National Corp., sits on Bank of America Corp.’s panel. Morgan Stanley’s includes Masaaki Tanaka, CEO for the Americas at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., while Robert Joss, a former U.S. Treasury Department official who ran Westpac Banking Corp., is on Citigroup Inc.’s. Nicholas Moore, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP chairman and CEO of its U.S. unit, is one of six directors on Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC)’s risk committee.

Only Bank of America’s risk committee is as small as JPMorgan’s. Goldman Sachs’s has eight members, including Stephen Friedman, a former chairman of the firm who advised President George W. Bush on economic policy, and James Schiro, a former CEO of Zurich Financial Services AG.

This is a big wow.

A Bloomberg Op Ed also caught my eye. Albert R Hunt writes that “Bush’s Terror Overreach Becomes ’New Normal’ Under Obama”.

Critics of President George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism efforts, mainly Democrats and some Republicans, rejoiced when Barack Obama was elected. They were convinced that what they considered the post-Sept. 11 trampling of constitutional rights and civil liberties would end.

As a candidate, Obama, a former constitutional law professor, promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as to end indefinite detention and the rendition of terrorism suspects to other countries, where they often were tortured. He also vowed greater accountability and transparency in the conduct of war.

Things look different today. In his new book, “Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11,” Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel under Bush and objected to some of that administration’s tactics, writes: “The Obama administration would continue almost all of its predecessor’s policies, transforming what had seemed extraordinary under the Bush regime into the ‘new normal’ of American counter-terrorism policy.” That seems only a slight exaggeration.

Soraya Chemaly writes at Alternet about the 6 Absurdly Demeaning Conservative Attacks on Women.  Language plays an important role in right wing attacks on women.

Everyone does it, using language that renders women as animals;the list is endless. This culturally ingrained misogyny, as reflected in acceptable language that dehumanizes half the world’s population, is not limited to any one country or religion, or followers of one or another ideology.

 But in U.S. politics, a particular trend has emerged among a certain set of conservatives: that of equating a woman with a farm animal. When, last week, Safeway Senior Vice President General Counsel Bob Gordon stood before a shareholders’ meeting telling a “joke” that portrayed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as being worth less than a pair of hogs,he clearly had no reservations about publicly making this joke and obviously thought it was funny. After all, he was only elaborating on a meme that’s been evolving among right-wing Republican politicians in state legislatures.

Let’s see. There’s state Rep. Terry England, the infamous Georgia legislator comparing pregnant hogs and cows to women while debating a proposal that became known as the “women as livestock bill,” which would hold pregnant women to the animal husbandry standard of carrying a dead fetus to term.

Then there’s Missouri House Majority Leader Tim Jones, explaining that he was well-prepared to propose restrictions on women’s health options because his “father’s a veterinarian.”

And Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce’s sexist and racist reasoning that immigrant women come here to “drop a child” during their “breeding season.”

Montana Rep. Keith Regier recently explained the higher value of “preg-tested” cows, forcing his opposition to point out that “We do not place price tags on women in the same way that we do on cattle.”

State Rep. Mary Franson of Minnesota created a video to explain, as a context for discussing food stamps, that “animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.” That was similar to South Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Andre Bauer’s explanation of welfare mothers as “stray animals” who will “breed”because they don’t “know any better.”

Last but not least, there’s the sexualized bitch category to which Georgetown student Sandra Fluke was dragged, in a sort of gender-bending mode, when Republican state representative Krayton Kerns, an actual “cow doctor,” compared herto a rutting bulldog paid stud fees for sex at Kern’s veterinary school.

These right-wing politicians and legislators obviously favor pigs, cows and livestock in their “women are not quite human” metaphors and analogies. What does this tell us about how conservatives like their womenfolk? What do these animals share?

The USS Illinois will be the first Navy submarine to be staffed by an all-female crew. The sub will be sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama.

On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama officially sponsored the Virginia-class submarine, which will be one of the newest nuclear-powered boats scheduled to enter the fleet by 2015, according to a White House statement.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as sponsor of the USS Illinois,” the first lady said, according to the statement. “This submarine is a tribute to the strength, courage, and determination that our Navy families exhibit every day.”

The Illinois is the second ship the First Lady has sponsored since coming to the White House. She sponsored the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, based in Alameda, California, earlier this year, according to administration officials.

Former First Lady Laura Bush sponsored another Virginia-class attack sub, named the USS Texas, in 2004. In 1994, then First Lady Hillary Clinton sponsored the Los Angeles-class sub USS Columbia.

Obama’s endorsement of the Illinois, particularly its all-female crew, comes as women in the military are pushing the Pentagon for a larger role in combat operations.

The Pentagon announced in February that it was opening up 14,000 new positions, most in the Army, to women after a review of its policies on women in combat.

How cool is that?

What’s on your reading and blogging list this morning?


They must think Women are Really Stupid

Unless Harvard MBA math is radically different from the math taught in this universe, the Romney campaign must have decided that women are really gullible and stupid.  They realize they have a gender gap and have decided giving us bad math and no answers is the answer.  The Republican moves to regain ground with women are akin to an ad campaign coming from the writers of Mad Men. It’s a blast from the stereotype past.  Not only is the ad lame and dated, but it doesn’t hold up to fact checking and questioning which is very easy to do on today’s internet database.  Etcha Sketch positions and lies don’t cut it with most of the women I know.

First, we learned Romney keeps in touch with women by sending his wife–the great white rich huntress–out to stalk the elusive beasts that are rare animals in the world of venture and plunder finance. How does Romney answer questions about women’s concerns?

Virtually every time, Romney answers by invoking his wife of 43 years, and reports what’s she’s told him about what women want.

“She reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy, and getting good jobs for their kids and for themselves,” Romney told the Newspaper Association of America on Wednesday. “They are concerned about gasoline prices, the cost of getting to and from work, taking their kids to school or to practice and so forth after school. That is what women care about in this country, and my vision is to get America working again.”

A few days earlier in Middleton, he was asked how he’d counter the Democrats’ narrative on contraception. He prefaced his answer this way: “I wish Ann were here … to answer that question in particular.”

Then, we saw Republican Fembots out on the talk circuit–Nikki Haley being one–to say that women really want good jobs for their sons and don’t care at all about their health concerns like pregnancy prevention and access to mammograms for women without private health insurance.

During an appearance on ABC’s The View, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Haley how conservatives could make the case that Republicans represent the interest of women.

“All of my policy is not based on a label,” Haley remarked. “It’s based on what I’ve lived and what I know: Women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all of those things.”

Then, they send Prince Reibus to the chat spin zone who says the War on Women was a campaign ploy with as much validity as a War on Caterpillars after we’ve endured about two years with of laws to defund Planned Parenthood, remove state equal pay laws, and block women’s constitutional right to access abortion, birth control, and health care in general. Then there are the Ryan spending priorities which hit women, the elderly and children hardest while giving millionaires more tax breaks.  Here’s a few headlines just to remind you what they’ve been up to the first two weeks of April alone.  Notice that the list of restrictions aimed at women are aren’t exactly coming from the most blue states with Democratic Governors.   Don’t forget Romney has vowed to get rid of Planned Parenthood and Title X and supports the Blunt Amendment.

The Los Angeles Times: Mississippi could close state’s sole abortion clinic, by Richard Fausset

ABC News: Texas Teacher Fired for Unwed Pregnancy Offered to Get Married, by Christina Ng

USA Today: Ariz. House OKs bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, by Alia Beard Rau

WEAU-TV: Controversial abortion bill among several Walker quietly signed into law, by Aaron Dimick

ACLU press release: ACLU and Women’s Health Groups File Lawsuit to Protect Vital Health Services in Oklahoma

Let’s put that in perspective for the years 2011 and 2012 to date.

“We’re looking at about 430 abortion restrictions that have been introduced into state legislatures this year, which is pretty much in the same ballpark as 2011,” says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group that focuses on health and reproductive rights. This year, Nash says, “is shaping up to be quite busy.”

Keep in mind, 2011 was already a watershed year for abortion restrictions: States passed 83 such laws, more than triple the 23 laws passed in 2010. And much of that had to do with the 2010 election, when Republicans gained control of many state legislatures. With the political makeup of state capitols unchanged, lawmakers are continuing to put more limits abortion.

The latest Romney lie should make Romney’s nose reach all the way around the world to touch the back of his head. Romney just doesn’t spin a story to his advantage, he makes things up from whole cloth.  This time he’s playing numbers games with unemployment statistics.

Mitt Romney’s campaign wants you to know that the same president who argues for contraceptive coverage and suggests that a Congress with more female members would get more accomplished has also presided over disproportionate job losses among women.

On April 6, 2012, Romney’s press secretary Andrea Saul tweeted, “FACT: Women account for 92.3% of the jobs lost under @BarackObama, a claim also made on Romney’s website.

She followed it up a few hours later with this: “@BarackObama touts policies for women & 92.3% jobs lost under him r women’s. He’s even more clueless than we thought.”

When we asked for backup for the claim, the campaign cited national employment figures spanning four years. We found that though the numbers are accurate, their reading of them isn’t.

Here is the real bottom line from PolitiFact.

… if you count all those jobs lost beginning in 2007, women account for just 39.7 percent of the total.

Romney denies that his gender gap is due to the many laws passed recently to restrict women’s civil liberties and rights.

As the Republican field winnowed Tuesday, Mitt Romney made an appeal to a voting bloc key to any candidate’s success in November: women.

Though the day’s headlines revolved around a decision by former Sen. Rick Santorum to suspend his campaign, Mitt Romney barreled forward with a push against Democrats as to who could best appeal to female voters.

Speaking at a Delaware structural steel factory, Romney responded to Democratic claims his party had waged a “war on women” and alienated female voters. Romney turned the argument around, accusing President Barack Obama’s administration of failing working women.

“The real war on women has been the job losses as the result of the Obama economy,” he told an audience in Wilmington, saying women had lost 92.3% of jobs lost under the Obama administration.

Romney said his private sector career had helped him understand what women worry about: jobs and the economy.

“If we’re going to get women back to work and help women with the real issues women care about – good jobs, good wages, a bright future for themselves, their families, and their kids, we’re going to have to elect a president who understands how the economy works, and I do.”

I would argue that understanding the unemployment  rates would be one of them.   So given that, wouldn’t you think Romney would know what he thinks about the Lilly Ledbetter Act and its status as Obama’s signature law to help women and pay?  This happened this morning. 

Given that Tea Party/Koch Puppet Governor Walker of Wisconsin just repealed his state’s equal pay act, you think some one in the Romney campaign would realize it’s an important question for women who work.  Obviously, the DNC and the Obama campaign have already asked the question.

The Democratic National Committee chairwoman called out Republican Gov. Scott Walker today for repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a law intended to lower the cost for plaintiffs suing employers for pay discrimination.

“He tried to quietly repeal the Equal Pay Act. Women aren’t going to stand for that,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The law allowed for victims to sue employers in state court which is often less expensive than filing in federal court.

The Republican controlled state Senate passed the measure in November, followed by passage in the state Legislature in February. Walker then repealed it Thursday.

“The focus of the Republican Party on turning back the clock for women really is something that’s unacceptable and shows how callus and insensitive they are towards women’s priorities,” the Florida congresswoman said.

National Republicans have yet to comment on the Wisconsin repeal but the Obama campaign has seized the opportunity to tie Walker’s law to Mitt Romney, who has argued that women voters in 2012 only care about pocketbook issues.

“Does Romney think women should have ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers? Or does he stand with Governor Walker against this?” Obama campaign representative Lis Smith said Friday.

This sounds a lot like Romney’s journey to the Blunt Amendment this year.  First, Romney says no state is trying to make birth control illegal, then he says that birth control is a private issue, then, he supports the intrusive Blunt Amendment within the hour of not supporting it.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Wednesday he opposed Senate Republicans’ effort that critics say would limit insurance coverage of birth control, then reversed himself quickly in a second interview saying he misunderstood the question.

Romney told Ohio News Network during an interview that he opposed a measure by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., that was scheduled for a vote Thursday. “I’m not for the bill,” Romney said before urging the interviewer to move on.

Romney later said he didn’t understand the question.

“Of course I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception so I was simply — misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment,” Romney later told Howie Carr’s radio program in Boston, noting that Blunt is his campaign’s point man in the Senate.

Just hours earlier, ONN reporter Jim Heath asked Romney about rival Rick Santorum and the cultural debate happening in the campaign and the legislation proposed by Blunt and co-sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“He’s brought contraception into this campaign. The issue of birth control — contraception, Blunt-Rubio — is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it?” Heath said. “He (Santorum) said he was for that. We’ll talk about personhood in a second, but he’s for that. Have you taken a position?”

Romney replied: “I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”

So, the Romney camp holds a campaign call on “women’s issues”, wants to talk about women and jobs, then has no idea what the Lilly Ledbetter Act is or what Romney thinks about it.  This is major fail imho and just like the clueless response on the Blunt Amendment Dosado.  Maddow sums this up succinctly.

Romney has cited a misleading statistic, and his aides couldn’t defend it. Romney has said current policies are keeping women from getting more jobs, and given three separate chances to say something coherent, his aides couldn’t explain what would change if the former governor is elected president. Were they not expecting these kinds of question?

To borrow a Casey Stengel line, can’t anybody here play this game?

As for the Fair Pay law, Lilly Ledbetter released a statement shortly after the Romney campaign wouldn’t state the former governor’s position on this.

“I was shocked and disappointed to hear that Mitt Romney is not willing to stand up for women and their families. If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn’t have to take time to ‘think’ about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This Act not only ensures women have the tools to get equal pay for equal work, but it means their families will be better served also. Women earn just 77 cents to every dollar that men earn for the same job, which is why President Obama took decisive action and made this the first bill that he signed when he took office. Women should have the ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers.

“Anyone who wants to be President of the United States shouldn’t have to think about whether they support pursuing every possible avenue to ensuring women get the same pay for the same work as men. Our economic security depends on it.”

Eventually, after Ledbetter’s statement was released to the media, the Republican campaign said a Romney administration wouldn’t try to repeal the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but wouldn’t say whether Romney supported the law itself. (Remember, the vast majority of congressional Republicans opposed the law when it passed in 2009.)

I can’t imagine the circumstances under which I would vote for this schmuck.  I say this as women who ran as a Republican in the 1990s and who is squarely an independent today.  You have to be a seriously self loathing woman to consider voting for today’s Republican Party.  They’ve gone way off the deep end and Willard’s gone right with them.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!!

The Republican War on Birth Control and women’s rights in general is turning off a lot of moderate and independent Republican women.  Given the number efforts to roll back women’s reproductive health as well as the attack on public health and education, will the Gender Gap be huge this fall?

In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy.

And in what appears to be an abrupt shift, some Republican-leaning women like Ms. Russell said they might switch sides and vote for Mr. Obama — if they turn out to vote at all.

The sudden return of the “culture wars” over the rights of women and their place in society has resulted, the women said, in a distinct change in mood in the past several weeks. That shift adds yet another element of uncertainty to a race that has been defined by unpredictability, at least for Republicans.

To what extent women feel alienated remains unclear: most interviews for this article were conducted from a randomly generated list of voters who had been surveyed in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, and their responses are anecdotal, not conclusive. But the latest comments from the Republican candidates and in the right-wing media, aimed at energizing the party’s conservative base, have been enraging to some women.

We’re beginning to see women take to the streets again.  Let’s hope a lot more take to the voting booth in the fall and take out some of these horrible legislators.
All this has not been lost on the Obama campaign.

The campaign website gives details on the benefits of the health-care law, a frequent target of Republican candidates who say it should be repealed, including requirements that new health insurance plans cover women’s preventative services, mammograms and birth control pills.

The women’s vote is important to both parties because, since 1986, women have voted more than men, at least in congressional races, according to Census Bureau figures. In the 2010 midterm elections, 42.7 percent of eligible women voters cast ballots while 40.9 percent of the men did so,

The special focus on women in the days ahead, first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by an Obama campaign official, follows confusion created by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his stance on whether employers can opt out of health-care coverage involving contraception.

The NZ Herald has named its lists of best countries to be a woman.  The overall best place to be a woman was given to Iceleand, but there were some other categories too. There are a total of 20 categories.  Here are the top five.

1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Iceland has the greatest equality between men and women, taking into account politics, education, employment and health indicators. The UK comes in at 16th place, down one since 2010.The worst is Yemen, and the most dangerous is Afghanistan.

2) Best place to be a politician: Rwanda

Rwanda is the only nation in which females make up the majority of parliamentarians. Women hold 45 out of 80 seats. Britain comes in at 45th place, behind Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. The worst countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Oman and Belize, have no women in Parliament.

3) Best place to be a mother: Norway

Norway is the world’s safest place to be a mother, with low risks of maternal mortality – one in 7600 – and skilled help with childcare. The worst is Afghanistan, where women face dangers during childbirth and from bombs and bullets.

4) Best place to read and write: Lesotho

Literacy rates among women in Lesotho exceed those of men, with 95 per cent of women able to read and write, compared with 83 per cent of men. The UK is ranked 21st. The worst country is Ethiopia, where only 18 per cent of women can read and write, compared with 42 per cent of men.

5) Best place to be head of state: Sri Lanka

Women have run Sri Lanka for 23 years. Dozens of countries, including Spain and Sweden, have never had a female head of government.

We also know that the U.S. does not rank high on any of these lists.

We’ve been talking the Handmaiden’s Tale scenario for some time here.  Alternet asks “Is America on the Verge of Theocracy?” then lists four fundamentalist ideologies that threaten our democracy.

As many notable and courageous critics ranging from Sheldon Wolin to Chris Hedges have pointed out, American politics is being shaped by extremists who have shredded civil liberties, lied to the public to legitimate sending young American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, alienated most of the international community with a blatant exercise of arrogant power and investment in a permanent warfare state, tarnished the highest offices of government with unsavory corporate alliances, used political power to unabashedly pursue legislative policies that favor the rich and punish the poor and perhaps irreparably damaged any remaining public spheres not governed by the logic of the market. They have waged a covert war against poor young people and people of color who are being either warehoused in substandard schools or incarcerated at alarming rates. Academic freedom is increasingly under attack by extremists such as Rick Santorum; homophobia and racism have become the poster ideologies of the Republican Party; war and warriors have become the most endearing models of national greatness; and a full-fledged assault on women’s reproductive rights is being championed by the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls and a not insignificant number of Republican governors. While people of color, the poor, youth, the middle class, the elderly, LGBT communities and women are being attacked, the Republican Party is supporting a campaign to collapse the boundaries between the church and state, and even liberal critics such as Frank Rich believe that the United States is on the verge of becoming a fundamentalist theocracy.

The first idea elucidated has to do with a radical notion of market fundamentalism that refuses to recognize the nuances in a variety of markets for goods and services and belies the need for public goods and services.  The second is religious fundamentalism which is driving the war against women and science.  The third is connected to education which supports rote memorization of facts and hates intellectualism and critical thinking skills.  The fourth and final fundamentalism deals with the military. It’s a long read but very good.

Just to end up with some lighter things,  here are some science links from Discover Magazine that you may want to check out.  There a quite a few more, so go check it out.

“25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice.” – Essential advice for all writers.

The world’s dumbest uses for QR codes

The house sparrow “is native to humanity rather than to some particular region.” Lovely piece by Rob Dunn.

We can rebuild you. We have the technology. But we can’t give you hair, apparently. BBC on our bionic future

18/19th-century bodysnatchers “fought each other for ‘a monopoly over the cadaver trade’ – more goodness from the Chirurgeon’s Apprentice.

We’re underestimating the risk of human extinction – a cogent argument for why we’re all doomed

“There’s no way out of this one.” Entire nation of Kiribati to move to Fiji because of rising sea level

Decision-Making Under Stress: The Brain Remembers Rewards, Forgets Punishments by Maia Szalavitz

An interviewer asked Neil Tyson about the most astounding fact he knows. The result is absolutely wonderful.

So, there’s some of the good, the bad, and the ugly reads for today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Shock! Obama Hugs Derrick Bell! Derrick Bell “Visits” White House! OMG!!

1991: Harvard graduate student Barack Obama hugs Harvard Professor Derrick Bell

Last night Peggy Sue wrote a great post about the late Andrew Breitbart’s supposed big revelation–that in 1991 Barack Obama appeared at a demonstration in favor of extending tenure to a female African American professor. Apparently, the most horrifying part of the story was that Obama publicly hugged Professor Derrick Bell at this event.

I’ve been noticing the development of this “story” over the past couple of days, but I’ve mostly ignored it in the hopes that it would simply go away. Sadly, the right wing bloggers, with support from Fox News personalities, are still screaming about it (here is just one example). What exactly are they trying to accomplish? Do they really want to make themselves look like complete idiots?

I honestly can’t figure out what awful crime either Obama or Bell is supposed to have committed, according to the Breitbartians, and frankly I just don’t want to submit myself to the horrors of reading their blogs. Based on a quick perusal of the some of the links on Memeorandum, I think they’ve taken to the fainting couch because more than 20 years ago, now President Obama supported racial and gender diversity at Harvard–something that Harvard desperately needed in 1991, and probably still needs today.

When these hate spasms periodically break out of the right wing blogs and into the corporate media, it’s hard for me to muster more than a heavy sigh. Like Peggy Sue, I’m obviously no great fan of Barack Obama and I didn’t vote for him in 2008. But my complaints about him aren’t that he supported racial and gender diversity at one time. When I hear about such incidents in Obama’s past, I can only wonder why he doesn’t seem to really support such issues as president. I wonder why professors like Derrick Bell and Charles Ogletree had so little positive influence on Obama that today he supports policies that remove rather than advance civil liberties in this country.

And if Breitbart was such a great muckraker, why didn’t he know that the footage of Obama speaking in favor of campus diversity and hugging Derrick Bell, far from being hidden by the Obama campaign, had been shown on PBS’ Frontline in 2008?

And what about the Heritage Foundation’s “discovery” that Derrick Bell visited the White House twice? Jake Tapper explains that little bit of stupidity:

The conservative Heritage Foundation shows some pluck by searching for the late law school professor Derrick A. Bell in the White House visitor’s logs, and finds that “Visitor logs show that Derrick A. Bell visited the White House twice since President Obama took office. The logs show two visits by an individual of that name on January 29 and 31, 2010.”

OK, so what happened? Did he have lunch with the President?

There are two problems with the Heritage post. One: it excludes some details from the visitors’ logs. There are 28 columns on the publicly released records, the Heritage blog lists seven. The data they omit includes a description of what the visit was for: in this case, for both visits: TOURS. A White House tour – not MEETING or APPOINTMENT. Another data point: TOTAL PEOPLE. This is a reference to how many people were present for the tour, meeting or appointment – in this case 304 people and 282 people.

Check out the visitors’ logs HERE.

But Bell surely could have taken a tour or two and then met with President Obama, right? Sure, it’s possible – and I asked the White House about it. The answer from a White House official: this was not the same Derrick A. Bell. He had a different birthday than the late law professor, whose birthday was November 6, 1930.

Another heavy sigh….

Eric Wemple of the WaPo decided to check with Bell’s widow to see if he’d ever met with President Obama. Here’s what she had to say:

Reached at her New York home this afternoon, Janet Bell was fully informed of the Breitbartian publicity. “I think there is no there there,” she said. “And I think that it’s pathetic and desperate on their part that they would think that this was such a bombshell. It’s typical in one sense: It’s the radical right wing making a mountain out of a molehill with distortion and misinformation.”

She watched the Breitbart editors promoting their “scoop” on Fox News’s “Hannity.” “I saw Sean Hannity — he had to twist himself up in so many pretzels to try to justify the dramatic nature of this footage.”

Yeah, but the late professor and Obama were buds, right? “They had very little contact” after Obama left Harvard Law School. “He never had contact with the president as president” — at least as far as Janet Bell can recall.

Personally, I’d think a lot more of President Obama if he had invited Professor Bell to the White House for lunch! Sorry to speak negatively of the recently departed, but Breitbart was an idiot and and his staff are just as idiotic as their former boss. All this fuss over a non-story!

The real problem is the motivation behind the hyping of this non-story. It’s beginning to look like we may be in for a long bout of out-front racism in the upcoming general election campaign–and that’s on top of the war on women that seems unlikely to end anytime soon. At the American Prospect, Paul Waldman is also fed up:

From the beginning of Breitbart’s enterprise, race-baiting was a key element of his attack on Barack Obama, one that continues even after his death. And he always had plenty of company, from Glenn Beck saying Obama “has a deep-seated hatred of white people,” to Rush Limbaugh’s repeated insistence to his white listeners that Obama was motivated by racial hatred in everything he did. “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations,” Limbaugh proclaimed. “The days of [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry,” he said. “And they want to use their power as a means of retribution. That’s what Obama’s about, gang.” When in 2009 he found a story about a white kid getting beaten up by a black kid on a school bus, Limbaugh said, “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on.'” And yes, he did that last part in an exaggerated “black” accent.

The message is always the same: Obama and the blacks are mad, and they’re coming for you. Yet people like the Breitbart folks and Limbaugh have two problems. First, they’re running out of material. There aren’t any more shocking revelations to be had. The best they can do is try to make mountains of racial resentment out of the most innocuous molehills, like the fact that Obama supported Derrick Bell’s effort to diversify the faculty when he was a law student. And second, by now anyone who can be convinced that Obama is a secret Black Panther never thought otherwise. The guy has been president for three years. Americans are pretty familiar with him. He hasn’t actually started herding white people into concentration camps, and it’s an awfully tough sell to tell people that he might any day now.

It’s a tough sell to rational people, but the right wingers are eating it up. It’s not going to be pleasant–and we’ll also have to deal with either Mitt Romney’s or Rick Santorum’s war on poor people.

Heavy sigh….