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gives details on the benefits of the health-care law, a frequent target of Republican candidates who say it should be repealed, including requirements that new health insurance plans cover women’s preventative services, mammograms and birth control pills.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

25 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The GOP “war on women” has become a frenzy. And it really makes no sense.

    Why would the intereference of women’s healtchare matter as much as it does in these state legislatures anyway?

    The election of Tea Party nutjobs in 2010 was a signal that they would be dragging these proposals into the federal level that has given people like Saintorum a forum to push even further.

    From a practical standpoint, denying women their rights will further weaken the economy, a topic they all embrace as their starting point. Forcing women to bear unwanted children will further tear at the fabric of the culture by placing unwanted burdens on families already straining to survive.

    For anyone who ever disbelieved in the effects of the patriarchy you need look no further than this. That theory seems to be alive and doing well from just this standpoint alone.

    Sheer madness.

  2. joanelle says:

    INdeed, Pat. But…Woo, Hoo, what a time for a Hillary write-in campaign – get all those gals into the voting booth and show them what women can really do!

  3. I just had to turn off The Diane Rehm Show. I couldn’t take any more of Phyllis Schlafly. OMG, that thing that calls herself a woman is montrous. The title of the show is The Battle Over Women Voters:

    • northwestrain says:

      I didn’t realize that the old bag was still alive.

      The only reason that she came into existence is due to the media — she was brought out when “the other side” of women type issue was discussed on da TV. She-fly has mommie issues.

      She-fly is an example of the priestess of the patriarchy — the female enables who worship the penis.

      • She’ll be 88 this year. She makes my blood boil. She said that Flooke was a feminist activist and no one challenged her. I am sick of people like her saying whatever they want & no one challenging them….just letting them get away with it. They don’t have to present any “evidence” or proof that what they say isn’t a frigging lie. Jon Stewart & his crew – comedians – seem to be the only folks with the intelligence & courage to challenge these lying sacks of excrement. Sorry, I’m still angry 8 hours later.

  4. joanelle says:

    This past weekend was the Women in the World conference, it was a great event but what Meryl Streep had to say about our girl was so on the mark

    Now that the war on women seems to be coming to a head…when I think of what could have been 😕

  5. peggysue22 says:

    This is a concerted effort pushed by an ultraconservative group Americans United for Life and they’re following the model of ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Counsel], which is a corporate pay-to-play body to push corporate agendas by buying legislators and getting legislation passed to move corporate friendly legislation through Congress.

    These ultrasound bills are a case in point. The Sunlight Foundation found that all these state bills overlap, right down to the specific language. They pretend that the legislation is coming out of local, grassroot efforts. Not so. All these bills are being steered by a far-right consortium, whose mission is to undo Roe vs Wade and basically take women back to a 1950s framework.

    The War on Women is real.

    • ralphb says:

      Darned right it’s real. When 100s of bills hit state houses in a single year it also has to be somewhat coordinated.

    • northwestrain says:

      These whack jobs do a lot of networking and join think tanks. The ends justify the means.

      What gulls me the most is that these whack jobs belong to tax exempt “churches”.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Of course it’s coordinated. Daknikat wrote several posts about ALEC (Koch Brothers group) ages ago. They are also behind the many anti-labor laws in the states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Indian, Ohio, etc.).

  6. ralphb says:

    NPR Music: The Austin 100: A SXSW Mix

    SXSW is all about volume, in more ways than one. Roughly 2,000 acts perform at the four-day music festival every year, so to spend just three minutes with each in advance of the big event is to deny your friends and loved ones a solid 100 hours of your waking, undivided attention.

    With 100 handpicked festival highlights and thrilling discoveries in a meaty but digestible microcosm of SXSW, The Austin 100 plays as a continuous seven-hour mix — everything from Daughter’s devastatingly barren “Landfill” to Black Tusk’s devastatingly blistering “Set the Dial to Your Doom.” (As a bonus, 71 of these songs are available for free download here.) Be sure to visit for live concerts, photos, videos and dispatches from this year’s festival.

    Just doing my bit for local tourism 🙂

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    I don’t know if I am just paranoid, or tired…but all this talk of war with Iran is frightening me. Add to it the mass murder in Afghanistan, the images of little kids killed is just too much. I feel like one of those conspiracy nutcases, who feel the two are connected. Like all this is done to get the US out of Afghanistan early and to get the countries of Iran and Afghanistan and others to unite in the hatred of Americans…and thus give us more of a “reason” to fight ” the war on terror” starting with Iran.

    Like I said, I think it is just bad news exhaustion.

  8. ralphb says:

    How The Affordable Care Act Could Quash The GOP’s Dream Of Medicare Privatization

    What if “Obamacare” not only helped save Medicare from fiscal doom, but also quashed the GOP’s longstanding goal of privatizing the program? It’s too early to know what will ultimately happen, but new evidence suggests that nightmare scenario for conservatives is within the realm of possibility.

    In a development with potentially profound implications — both for Medicare itself and for the broader ideological fight between the two parties over the role of government — researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine believe that the growth in per patient Medicare costs has slowed, contra earlier projections that spending would soar at an unsustainable rate. More importantly, the researchers believe this trend will hold over time, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act’s sweeping cost-control policies.

    I know people don’t like to give Obama credit for anything but, when it’s due, it’s silly not to do so.

  9. ralphb says:

    Even though I voted for him, Thank Dog John McCain didn’t win in 2008. He’s never seen a country yet he didn’t want to bomb. Fucking weasel!

    McCain: It’s ‘Bothersome’ That Obama ‘Would Denigrate’ The Views Of Those Suggesting War With Iran

  10. ralphb says:

    If this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then no one does!

    Former Mossad chief: Pre-emptive attack on Iran would be stupid

    In an unprecedented interview, the former head of Israel’s spy service told 60 Minutes this week that Iran is nowhere near developing a nuclear weapon, and warned that if Israel attacks its neighbor, it would trigger a “rain of missiles” upon the Jewish state.

    Meir Dagan, who ran Mossad for almost a decade with the singular focus of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, told the CBS News program that there’s a window of at least three years before Iran could feasibly develop nuclear weapons.

    Attacking before then, he said, would be “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

  11. janey says:

    In 2000 or 2001 just after BushII was selected, a radio show similar to Rush had the subject of “should women give up the vote’. Of course two women called in to say that they would be glad to. I figured they were paid shills. But it would not surprise me to hear that this is exactly what the republican party wants. After all, women vote democratic. And if we vote republican, we lose birth control, health care, and the vote. Eventually.