Sunday Reads: Is a change ever gonna come?

8227547625c9ff3ded3e33b7d71095fcA Change Is Gonna Come

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming37a9cacb762dbab7a2648de7d1518fd1
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Read more: Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come Lyrics | MetroLyrics

c9a24aed88abcbf0cedab38f28438f20When Sam Cooke wrote that song back in late 1963- early 1964,

“A Change Is Gonna Come” was partially inspired by an incident in which Cooke and his band tried to register at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana. On October 8, 1963, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies.[1] While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.”[1] When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.[1]

01ae899dfdf6cfe0081a647323c59805I wonder, if Cooke could have ever imagined that some 51 years later we would have a Governor of color…being the brown skin of a Hindu raised Indian, however he is now (as BB puts it,) the whitewashed Governor of the  “Southern” state of Louisiana.

Yes, the very state where the Holiday Inn incident occurred that inspired this Anthem of the Civil Rights, which Cooke eventually recorded on January 30th, 1964….this Governor would compare in not so veiled words… black neighborhoods to the no-go-zone Muslim IS/ISIS laden, filled, burdened, overrun,  (whatever the paranoid idiot right wing nuts want to call it) neighborhoods that are…according to Jindal, threatening our very existence.

From CNN on January 21 of this year: Bobby Jindal slams ‘no-go zones,’ pushes ‘assimilation.’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday stood by his criticism of so-called “no-go” zones in Europe, where sovereign nations allegedly cede authority to Muslim immigrants, a controversial idea that many critics say is overblown.

And the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate decried what he called immigrants’ insistence on “non-assimilation, the fact that “you’ve got people who want to come to our country but not adopt our values,” which he called “dangerous.”

939bba26f208b10aa5b8b519698e11d7Interestingly, Jindal’s parents are immigrants from India, and he was raised in the Hindu religion.

But pressed for specific examples of such no-go zones, Jindal demurred, saying he had met with “elected officials and others” to discuss them and noted a report in UK tabloid the Daily Mailthat purported to highlight the challenges facing law enforcement in such areas.

“I knew by speaking the truth we were gonna make people upset,” Jindal told Blitzer.

Jindal was also unable to offer examples during an earlier interview with CNN’s Max Foster, saying that he’s “heard from folks here that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils … We all know that there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into.”

“I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away,” he told Foster.

Pressed for details, Jindal said only, “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go.”

Hmmmm. . . that sounds to me like not-so-subtle race baiting from the whitewashed Louisiana Governor.

Seriously?

0032d5780376c6357875f763f96b3cdaWhen I read about this yesterday from Boston Boomer’s and Dakinikat‘s post on Friday I had to pause a moment…because I was waiting for the ba-dum-dum of the drum punch line to beat out the cue to laugh.

Now I have been sick beyond all I could say, so things are a little cloudy to say the least, but a few things are clear.

I grew up in one of these supposed “places where the police are less likely to go”  that Jindal is referring to. It is an area of my hometown in Tampa called West Tampa. Now…before I get all Brian Williamsed here, I will tell you that I grew up on a street five or six blocks North of Columbus Dr. My Nana’s house was just one block away from Columbus Dr. and my Cousin Cathy…who I spent a hell of a lot of time and nights btw, was right in the heart of the neighborhood…being about 10 blocks on the South side of Columbus Dr.  I think you get the picture…right?

997d8cac806554c49f15d3f035d9c111Cathy and I would go riding on my moped, or riding on our bikes, all through the neighborhood, taking a tour through the “projects” (that is in quotes for a reason) that were built along the river all the time. Yes, two little white girls. Cathy knew how to handle herself, and believe me…there are times when I feel less save up here in KKK Baptist Jesus Christian Bible Banjoville, than I did riding that moped back in the day through the streets around the West Tampa.

I never had to pull a gun out on anyone to protect my family in Tampa back then in the early 90’s, but I had to do it up here in Banjoville around 1992, when some redneck name Robbie was harassing and intimidating my mom as she tried to call my dad from a payphone at one of the local gas stations in town.   I hope you get the point I am trying to make.

So how could Jindal be allowed to get away with this shit? How can all these other assholes be allowed to get away with this shit?

1d4990f0bbc231d7819e026696a4ca4dWar memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city – U.S. – Stripes

Along Main Street in a small South Carolina city, there is a war memorial honoring fallen World War I and II soldiers, dividing them into two categories: “white” and “colored.”

Welborn Adams, Greenwood’s white Democratic-leaning mayor, believes the bronze plaques are relics of the South’s scarred past and should be changed in the spirit of equality, replaced like the “colored” water fountains or back entrances to the movie theater that blacks were once forced to use.

Yet the mayor’s attempt to put up new plaques was blocked by a state law that brought the Confederate flag down from the Statehouse dome in 2000. The law forbids altering historical monuments in any way without approval from legislators.

Historians, black and white, have reservations about replacing the plaques, saying they should serve as a reminder of the once-segregated U.S. military.

War memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city - U.S. - Stripes 2015-02-08 01-24-35

“Segregation was the accepted social order of that time,” said Eric Williams, who spent 32 years as a historian with the U.S. Park Service. “If we alter the monument, we alter its historical integrity.”

c414872cfcd50ef3fb6d44a47b6a6dd9The memorial is owned by the American Legion post in Greenwood and is on city property. On two of its sides, it lists soldiers who died in World War I and World War II that were from Greenwood County. A third side lists Korean and Vietnam War dead from the county without any racial distinction because the military was integrated by that time.

Adams said he asked other South Carolina mayors and doesn’t know of any other similar memorials in the state. Several historians also said they haven’t heard of a monument where fallen soldiers are separated by race.

Maybe Sam Cooke would not be that surprised by the situation of the times as they are today…because the song is just as relevant. I mean things gonna change…right? After all, 51 fucking years is a long ass time to wait…no…150 fucking years plus/minus for something as simple as all men to be treated as equal. (Uh…I won’t even go off on the issue of Equal Rights for Women, cause I am just too exhausted…blame it on the Norovirus. )

052e64f1539f34a05a1c265900ab2dc4And just a side note…that monument in South Carolina:

The Confederate flag law says no historical monument, erected by the state or by a local government, may be relocated, removed, disturbed, or altered without a two-thirds vote from state lawmakers. The law lists 10 wars, including the “War Between the States,” — the genteel, Southern name for the Civil War.

The purpose of this part of the law was to appease people who worried 15 years ago that Confederate memorials and street and park names in honor of generals would be torn down in wake of the flag being removed from the Statehouse dome and being put in front of the South Carolina Capitol alongside a Confederate soldier monument. The flag is still a sore point for the NAACP and other black leaders.

A bill has been filed to change the Greenwood memorial and half of the members of the state Senate are listed as sponsors, but some legislators who helped craft the Confederate flag law are leery to bring the divisive issue up again.

e574d274dbc149a7573484f8d50d7b07“I’ll look at the bill,” said Sen. John Courson, a Republican from Columbia who has been in the Senate since 1985. “But I don’t want to reopen the whole debate. That was last century’s battle.”

I would like to tell this asshole Sen.Courson…the law, however, that bars the monument from being changed was passed in this century. Dick.

The rest of links in dump, I just can’t do any more.

PCH Closed In Malibu After Bruce Jenner, 6 Others Injured In Fatal 4-Vehicle Crash « CBS Los Angeles

Is his gender change for real, or is it a thing to keep his reality show going? I mean, I am skeptical when it comes to anything dealing with those Kardashians et.al.

Jordan Hits Islamic State With 3rd Day of Airstrikes

16e48a8db8c6b02c4c1fb3b5ebdba98eNeighbors: Man opened fire on ex-wife’s home killing 5,… | www.wsbtv.com

Three wounded in shooting at Pittsburgh area shopping mall | Reuters

Emergency Officials in the Pacific Northwest Report on Strange Milky Ash – Pioneer News

Sochi Winter Olympic stadiums lie empty and abandoned – World – News – The Independent

Mom delivers 14-pound baby after recently learning she was pregnant | theGrio

And that was a vaginal delivery.

Mike Luckovich: Brian Williams Under Fire – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

Associated Press Confirms Flooding and Floating Bodies Near Brian Williams’ Hotel During Katrina – Little Green Footballs

3fd220e81ee68ecd7f97ff34f42e7e8fWASHINGTON: How does Islamic State justify its atrocities in name of Islam? | Syria | McClatchy DC

The History Channel – The Washington Post

DeKalb police respond to critics of officer who shot 911 caller | www.ajc.com

UVa police investigating report of sexual assault at dorm

‘Rape dungeon’ allegations emerge in abuse report on Florida’s notorious Dozier School for Boys

High School Police Ask Judge to Let Them Pepper-Spray and Arrest Unruly Students | Mother Jones

a782007e5a0fb57b5bd70a80ac3db283Secret Teacher: exams have left my students incapable of thinking | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Repro Wrap: Woman Convicted for Both ‘Feticide’ and ‘Neglect’ and Other News | Care2 Causes

Addicting Info – Pope Francis Called Hitting Kids ‘Beautiful’ As Long As ‘Dignity Is Maintained’

Shakesville: Quote of the Day

“Hillary has my endorsement for all of her life and mine. She can have my Lasso of Truth, formed from Aphrodite’s girdle and forced whomever was bound with it to obey the commands of whomever held the other end.”Lynda Carter, who will always be THE unrivaled Wonder Woman to many of us.

db0bf4fc699889def7b47198b564659fUpdate on that little girl who was thrown from the Skyway bridge in Florida: Carlton: From Bradley to Phoebe — how many kids have to die? | Tampa Bay Times

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Legos trailer – Business Insider

Fifty Shades of Bricks….awesome.

Teaching in the Age of Minecraft – The Atlantic

A New Textbook Could Revolutionize the Way Law Students Learn About Reproductive Rights

c7b5d3615d444074016f94e5819e950fWas The Giving Tree A Chump? | Off The Shelf

The Only Baby Book You’ll Ever Need – NYTimes.com

That is about an anthropology textbook btw…“The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings,” by David F. Lancy.

Aaaaaannnnnnd, let’s just call this an open thread.

 

**Updated to add these beautiful photos…most of them Victorian, but you can see a lot more here:

 

Pinterest– History!

Unique Victorian Images on Pinterest 

And here is a gallery of images that could not fit on this post.

 

 

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Victorian Photo Tricks, Homeschooling Horrors, and Hillary and Boko Haram

hiddenmother5

Happy Saturday!!

 

This might turn out to be a strange post; I’m not really sure yet. I’m writing it somewhat in response to Dakinkat’s Friday offering. I was really taken with the images she used of Victorian women and babies with bat wings, so I decided to share some Victorian baby pictures I came across recently.

In addition, following on what Dak wrote about home-schooling, I have some articles on people who survived homeschooling horrors. I think it’s an outrage that child abuse like this is permitted in supposedly civilized countries. The government should not be kowtowing to fundamentalist Christian sects that engage in uncivilized behaviors. I’m still trying not to think too much about politics, but I have some follow-up info on Boko Haram and it’s use in the latest Hillary-bashing episode.

The Hidden Mother 

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I originally saw these photos on Twitter (of course), but I found them so fascinating that I tried to find out a little more about them. You’ll notice in the photos at the top of this post that there are ghostly fabric things behind or beside the children. Those are the hidden mothers keeping their kids still for the slow-developing cameras of those days. Lots of the photos look really eerie, and they hardly ever show the children smiling.  Here’s an article from the Guardian from December 2013 that provides an introduction to the strange Victorian practice of “hidden mother” photography: The lady vanishes: Victorian photography’s hidden mothers.

Babies may be insatiably photogenic, but somehow they don’t really suit the whole business of photography. The flash makes them startle. They wriggle. They cry. They blink. You prop them up with cushions – and seconds later, they’re upside down gnawing their own toes. They make Dr Evil hand-signals. They fall asleep. They drool.

And if it’s bad now, it was worse then. Now we have cameraphones to record every last gurgle, but for the Victorians it was much more complicated. A 19th-century parent would have to dress the baby in a starchy gown, transport it and perhaps its siblings to the nearest photographer’s (orambrotypist’s) studio as early in the morning as possible, climb several flights of stairs to the skylit attic, arrange the family group against the studio backdrop, get everyone to remain completely still for 30 seconds or so, part with a large chunk of money, and then wait several days for the copies to be finished, before sending them round to family and friends as calling cards, or pasting them into albums.

The main problem was the length of the exposure. However bright the photographer’s studio, it took up to half a minute for an image to register on wet collodion. Getting an adult to sit completely still for half a minute is a challenge, but getting a wakeful baby to do so is near-impossible. The photographer could position anyone old enough to sit on a chair by placing an electric chair-style head clamp behind them, but the only way of photographing a baby was for the mother to hold it (or dope it with enough laudanum to keep a grown man rigid for a week).

hidden mother1

These photos recently came to light in a book called The Hidden Mother, by Linda Fregni Nagler

Though there are plenty of Victorian studio portraits of family groups, there are also many in which the mothers are concealed: they’re holding babies in place while impersonating chairs, couches or studio backdrops. They wanted a picture of just the baby, and this was the best way to achieve it. Sometimes, the figures are obvious, standing by the side of a chair and waiting to be cropped out later; sometimes, they really do appear as a pair of curtains or as disembodied hands. To a 21st-century viewer, the images look bizarre – all these unsmiling children strangled by smocking and framed by what appears to be a black-draped Grim Reaper, or by an endless succession of figures in carpets and chintz burqas.

The book also highlighted another weird Victorian practice–photographing the dead. Some of the children in the photos are dead.

Until the 1880s and the advent of mass-market photography, most people might only have a snapshot taken once in a lifetime. Since many children did die in infancy, the only memento the parents might have would be the single posthumous photograph of their baby propped up to look as if it was merely asleep.

It turns out that not just children were memorialized in photos after death. Below you can see a photographer taking a postmortem picture of a corpse propped up in a chair with eyes open.

postmortemvictorian1

Weird, huh? Sometimes they even painted in eyes to make the person look more alive. Another “Victorian photo trick” was “headless photographs.” Here’s an example:

headlessphotograph1

You can read more about these strange Victorian photographic practices and see more examples at the following links.

Hyperallergic art blog: Victorian Photo Tricks, From Hidden Mothers to Eyes on the Dead (1/2014)

Daily Life: Why did mothers once conceal themselves in photographs?

Pinterest: Mothers, Photographs, and Memento Mori.

Flickr page, Hidden Mother: Tintypes and Cabinets

 

hiddenmothers3

 

 Home Schooling Horrors

Again I came across this on Twitter. There’s apparently a Twitter group made up of home schooling survivors, and they were having some kind of home schooling awareness day awhile back to call attention to a law in Virginia that gives religious exemptions to parents who don’t want to send their kids to school. I started reading their descriptions of what they had experienced, and I was just horrified. I saved a few links at the time that I’ll share. From The Washington Post: Student’s home-schooling highlights debate over Va. religious exemption law.

Josh powell

Josh Powell wanted to go to school so badly that he pleaded with local officials to let him enroll. He didn’t know exactly what students were learning at Buckingham County High School, in rural central Virginia, but he had the sense that he was missing something fundamental.

By the time he was 16, he had never written an essay. He didn’t know South Africa was a country. He couldn’t solve basic algebra problems.

“There were all these things that are part of this common collective of knowledge that 99 percent of people have that I didn’t have,” Powell said.

Powell was taught at home, his parents using a religious exemption that allows families to entirely opt out of public education, a Virginia law that is unlike any other in the country. That means that not only are their children excused from attending school — as those educated under the state’s home-school statute are — but they also are exempt from all government oversight.

School officials don’t ever ask them for transcripts, test scores or proof of education of any kind: Parents have total control.

Powell’s family encapsulates the debate over the long-standing law, with his parents earnestly trying to provide an education that reflects their beliefs and their eldest son objecting that without any structure or official guidance, children are getting shortchanged. Their disagreement, at its core, is about what they think is most essential that children learn — and whether government, or families, should define that.

Josh’s story is heartbreaking and inspiring. The scariest thing about this law is that the children wishes are given no consideration at all. After years of struggle, Josh finally cobbled together an education managed to get accepted to Georgetown, but it was a long road and at the time of this article he still worried about his siblings who had not been able to escape the home schooling nightmare.

In 2008, Josh Powell wrote to Buckingham school officials, telling the board that he didn’t share his parents’ religious objections to public school and asking to enroll.

He said the administrator he spoke with was kindly but dismissive.

Crushed, he tried a home-school co-op for a while, then a class to study for a high-school equivalency test. “I figured if I can’t make any headway with my parents, can’t make any headway with the school board, what . . . am I going to do?” he said.

He Googled “financial aid” and applied to Piedmont Virginia Community College. A neighbor gave him a ride, an hour each way every day, until he had earned enough to afford an apartment nearby. It was terrifying, he said, as he was unsure how to behave in a classroom or whether he was going to embarrass himself answering questions. But he was thrilled.

“With the addition of lectures, the structure, the support, the tutoring — things just finally clicked. I remember my first semester sitting in my developmental math class. No one wanted to be there except for me. I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I have a chance to learn!’ ”

It’s a long article, but well worth reading in full. Here are a few more links for more info:

An interview with Josh Powell at NPR: Brother Wants Parents To Stop Siblings’ Homeschooling

Anthony B. Susan blog: It’s Time To Rethink Virginia’s Homeschool Laws.

A blog devoted to Homeschooling’s Invisible Children – “Shining a Light on Abuse and Neglect in Homeschooling Environments.”

It doesn’t just happen in the U.S. Some information on a homeschooling religious cult in Germany:

Der Spiegel: Life after the sect: “I have no roots and no strength to flyThe google translation is horrible, but you can read all about the Twelve Tribes cult here:

Yeshua Here I Am (Part 11, with links to parts 1-10).

Hillary Clinton and Boko Haram Follow-up

As I wrote on Thursday, the latest GOP attack on Hillary is over her supposed failure to deal with Nigeria’s Boko Haram when she was Secretary of State by adding them to the State Department’s list of terrorist groups. I’m not going to get deeply into this argument, because it just makes me tired; but here are a couple of in-depth treatments of the issues involved.

Tom Cohen at CNN: Clinton’s handling of Boko Haram questioned.

Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor: Why Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. didn’t list Boko Haram as a terrorist group.

Chris McGreal at The Guardian UK: Nigeria kidnapping: why Boko Haram is a top security priority for the US

And from Mother Jones, a background article on Boko Haram: What is Boko Haram and Why Do Its Members Kidnap Schoolgirls?

So . . . What’s on your mind today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.


Saturday Afternoon Reads: The Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan

Good Afternoon!

I decided to focus this post on something other than the debt, deficit, sequester obsession that has taken over American politics, so I’m writing about a book I read in high school that changed my life forever. Feel free to use this as an open thread, and post your links freely in the comments.

This week marked the 50th anniversary of a book that truly changed my life, The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan. It was first published on February 19, 1963. I read it in paperback when I was a junior in high school, probably in early 1964.

I already knew I didn’t want to be a housewife like my mom, but there weren’t many alternatives for girls in those days. Ideally, you were supposed to get married and have children and forget about having a career or focusing on your own unique interests. You were supposed to enjoy cleaning house and supporting your husband’s career and if you didn’t enjoy it, there was something wrong with you–you weren’t a real woman.

The main reason for girls to go to college was to find a husband. Oh sure, you could study and learn about things that interest you, but that would all go by the wayside once you found a man. After that, it was all about him. If you couldn’t find a husband, then you might have to work. You could be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary–that was about it. Women who insisted on being college professors, doctors, lawyers were few and far between and they had a tough time of it.

Then Betty Friedan’s book came out, and it hit a nerve for millions of American women and girls, including me. Here’s the famous opening paragraph:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—‘Is this all?’”

Friedan called it “the problem with no name.”

First edition of Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (Bauman Rare Books)

First edition of Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (Bauman Rare Books)

As I read the book, I began to develop more sympathy for my mother’s plight. During World War II, women had been called upon to go to work to support the war effort and replace men who had been drafted or had enlisted in the military. But when the men came back, they needed the jobs and women were expected to go back to their homes and be satisfied with doing housework, child rearing, decorating, and entertaining for no pay. Friedan wrote about how “experts” had produced reams of propaganda in the effort to get women to find joy and fulfillment in being housewives and mothers. The “feminist mystique” for Friedan said “that the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity.”

I’ve told this story before, but when I was a senior in high school I wrote an essay for my English class called “Women Are People Too.” My male teacher was somewhat taken aback by my arguments, but he still asked me to read my paper aloud in class. I was jeered and mock for it, of course. Later my economics teacher–a true leftist–found out about the essay and read it in my economic class. Today it seems strange, but most of the other students in my school were horrified by the notion of women being equal to men.

My father, an English professor, had a woman colleague Lucille C.–a full professor who had never married. My mother said that most men would be intimidated by her brilliance and success. Anyway, when I told Lucille about how all the other kids were making fun of me for my essay, she told me to tell them I was a member of FOMA, which stood for “Future Old Maids of America.” I loved it!

Much has changed since 1963. Women now assume they have a right to an education and a career as a well as the right to choose (if they can afford it) whether to stay home with children or work outside the home. But as we have seen in the past four plus years, misogyny is alive and well in the good ol’ USA, and we still have a very long way to go to achieve anything like real gender equality.

Carlene Bauer spoke for me when she wrote at The New York Observer:

When Friedan writes that early feminists “had to prove that women were human,” it is hard not to feel a shock of recognition and indict our own moment as well, especially after the election that just passed. But American women still find themselves struggling against a strangely virulent, insidious misogyny. If our culture truly thought women were human, 19 states would not have enacted provisions to restrict abortion last year. There would be no question whether to renew the Violence Against Women Act. Women would not make 77 cents to every man’s dollar, and make less than our male counterparts even in fields where we dominate. We wouldn’t have terms like “legitimate rape” or “personhood.” Women who decided not to have children would not be called “selfish,” as if they were themselves children who had a problem with sharing. If our culture truly allowed them to have strong, complex, contradictory feelings and believed they were sexual creatures for whom pleasure was a biological right, perhaps adult women would not be escaping en masse into badly written fantasy novels about teenage girls being ravished by vampires.

Bauer also noted that some problems with the book, most notably Friedan’s homophobia.

This book…should seem thrillingly, relievedly quaint. It does not. But it is surprisingly boring in spots—there are many moments where you can see the women’s magazine writer in Friedan giving herself over to breathless exhortation—and astoundingly homophobic. At one point Friedan rails against “the homosexuality that is spreading like a murky smog over the American scene.” Friedan has been criticized for not being as careful a researcher, or as honest a storyteller, or as civil-rights-minded as she could have been. But perhaps these criticisms are somewhat beside the point. There are numerous passages that, if you did not know their provenance, could be mistaken for sentences written in judgment of the present day.

In looking over The Feminine Mystique recently, I realized that I had forgotten how much scholarship and psychological analysis and scholarship Friedan included in the book. She was a psychology major at Smith College, graduating summa cum laude in 1942. For example, The Feminine Mystique contained a brilliant analysis of Freudian theory and its consequences for women. Friedan argued that education at women’s colleges had been dumbed down between the 1940s and 1960s, with educators limiting courses to “subjects deemed suitable for women” and their future roles as housewives. She suggested that girls were prevented from experiencing the normative identity crisis that was the focus of Erik Erikson’s developmental theory. And she argued that women had been kept at the lower, subsistence levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

How many books truly change society in dramatic ways. Betty Friedan’s book did that. A few more links to articles on the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique.

Michelle Bernard: Betty Friedan and black women: Is it time for a second look?

NYT: Criticisms of a Classic Abound

Mona Gable at BlogHer: How Far Have We Come?

ABC News: ‘Feminine Mystique’: 50 Years Later, Dated But Not Irrelevant

Caryl Rivers: ‘Feminine Mystique’ At 50: If Betty Friedan Could See Us Now

Janet Maslin: Looking Back at a Domestic Cri de Coeur

Alexandra Petri: The Feminist Mystique

Peter Dreier: The Feminine Mystique and Women’s Equality — 50 Years Later

Kathi Wolfe at The Washington Blade: Power of the ‘Feminine Mystique’

A discussion at NPR’s On Point: The Feminine Mystique at 50

This isn’t specifically about The Feminine Mystique, but I think it’s relevant. Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: ‘The Rise of Women’ — a “new book explains why women outpace men in higher education.”

Please use this as an open thread, and post anything you like in the comments.


Sunday Reads: Full Moons and Uranus

Good Morning

There has been a lot of “space” news this weekend. So our first few links will focus on the skies…Did you see the Harvest Moon last night? What was interesting about this Harvest Moon was its relationship to Uranus. (Ha….) No Seriously! If you missed it, here is a video from the SLOOH space camera.

When you gaze at the full moon this weekend, think of farmers working late into the evening to gather their crop, because that’s how the Harvest Moongot its name.

The Harvest Moon allows farmers at the peak of the current harvest season to stay in the fields longer than usual, working by the moon‘s light. It rises around sunset, but also — and more importantly — the moon seems to appear at nearly the same time each successive night.

Uranus Rings Tilted
Near-infrared views of Uranus reveal its otherwise faint ring system, highlighting the extent to which the planet is tilted.
CREDIT: Lawrence Sromovsky, (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), Keck Observatory

Uranus’ atmosphere is dominated primarily by hydrogen and helium, with a small amount of methane that gives the “ice giant” its bluish-green tint. The planet has a ring system and 27 known moons. It’s also tilted so far that it essentially orbits the sun on its side; researchers think the planet may have been knocked askew by a collision with another large body long ago.

If skywatchers wish to see Uranus through their own telescopes Saturday night, they should scan just below the moon and look for the only green “star” in the field of view, Slooh officials said.

Hmmmm, I never thought Uranus would be described as a bright green light in the night sky. (Okay I am being way to infantile here.)

In other worlds news, Curiosity found an old river bed on Mars. NASA Rover Finds Old Streambed on Martian Surface – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence — images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels — is the first of its kind.

Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream’s flow.

Best View of Goulburn Scour

“From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep,” said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley. “Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it.”

Go check out all the photos and more information at that link to Nasa’s JPL site.

Now on to some news from our own Earthly planet.

First let’s go with a bit of intimidation….there is a woman who is getting a first hand look at an Attack from the PLUBs, I think I would prefer Martians any day. Intimidation: Now It’s a First Amendment Right! | RH Reality Check

For anti-choicers, the right to freedom of speech is like a game of Calvin-ball, the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip “sport” in which all rules could be revised, changed, updated, and discarded depending on what it took to win. They claim that freedom of speech trumps literally every other right, as long as it is done under the guise of “saving babies.”

It’s “freedom of speech,” for example, to “inconvenience” Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando CEO Jenna Tosh by picketing her home. Tosh told the WinterPark, Florida, city council that she felt “threatened and ambushed” when anti-choicers picketed her home, and the council passed a short-term ordinance forbidding assembly on a residential property.

Of course, there were some folks who disagreed with this action.

 After all, it was just one woman being intimidated. In an op-ed written by the Florida Sentinel, the paper argues:

Winter Park modeled its measure after ordinances that already had passed constitutional muster, so we aren’t arguing legal merits. But we do question the knee-jerk response to a single citizen’s complaint—precipitated by the distribution of pro-life handouts and, nearly a week later, some nonviolent picketing. And we question the need for a new law when laws exist to protect citizens against protests that grow unruly. And we question why government officials are so quick to crack down on freedom of speech. Imagine the outcry if commissioners had tried to go after the Second Amendment. Having to push past protesters toting signs that read “Jenna Tosh kills babies and hurts women” certainly is unpleasant. We sympathize with her. However, her need to avoid disturbing, anti-abortion expressions outside her home shouldn’t trump the rights of the many to exercise their First Amendment rights within public areas in residential areas.

Is it merely “unpleasant” to have people picket your neighborhood in a group, using your name and calling you a baby-killer? Does making someone feel unsafe in her own home not matter if it somehow infringes on the right of a group to make that person feel intimidated? And where exactly do “free speech” advocates draw the line for what constitutes “unruly?”

The article also mentions the courts reactions to these intimidation tactics.

it seems as though courts are bending over backwards toignore the physical intimidation involved in many of the anti-choice protesters’ activities. In a recent FACE act case involving an anti-choice activist at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the judge decided that touching an escort is just another way of expressing “freedom of speech.”

“In his attempt to continue talking to the patient, [anti-choice “sidewalk counselor” David Hamilton ‘pushed [clinic escort Jane Fitts’s] arm down slightly,’” [U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman] found.

But the judge said the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), requires the prosecution to show Hamilton used force with the intent to injure or intimidate someone because that person was seeking or providing reproductive health services.

There are questions for a jury concerning whether any contact “was used intentionally to injure, intimidate, or interfere” and “whether Fitts was indeed providing reproductive health services.”

The judge suggested it was possible that Fitts was not an “escort” at all but would be “more accurately characterized as a counter-protester.”

“U.S. courts are charged with protecting the freedoms of all American citizens,” said Cody. “Sidewalk counselors have the same rights as other people.”

How is pushing an escort’s arm down in order to make contact with a patient trying to access abortion services not an attempt to “interfere” with or “intimidate” both the escort and the woman seeking a termination?

Anti-choicers don’t appear to “have the same rights as other people.” They claim more rights, supra-rights, a secretly granted set of rights that appear to trump the rights of those who seek reproductive health care, those who provide it, and those who assist in ensuring the first two can meet each other without hindrance. If the right to freedom of speech outweighs the pursuit of happiness—i.e.: the ability to access care, the ability to walk the streets without unwanted physical contact, the right to feel safe in your own home, then how does anyone else have any freedom at all?

(I thought that was a great post btw…that was why I used so much of it.)

Hey if not intimidation, lets talk disenfranchised voters?  Warning, this link goes to Fox News…but I thought it was an interesting spin on the Voter ID laws and the push from the GOP to make it hard as hell for Dems to “get out the vote.”  Drop in Ohio voter registration, especially in Dem strongholds, mirrors nationwide trend | Fox News

Speaking of party lines…The Bottom Line on Party ID | TPM Editors Blog  That link will take you to a short post with a rather big graph. Take a look, it is interactive!

There is a real good post on Juan Cole this morning, written by Alice K. Ross:  Obama set precedent with Drone Killings for Romney to become Terminator-in-Chief (Ross) | Informed Comment

President Obama’s personal involvement in selecting the targets of covert drone strikes means he risks effectively handing a ‘loaded gun’ to Mitt Romney come November, says the co-author of a new report aimed at US policymakers.

‘If Obama leaves, he’s leaving a loaded gun: he’s set up a programme where the greatest constraint is his personal prerogative. There’s no legal oversight, no courtroom that can make [the drone programme] stop. A President Romney could vastly accelerate it,’ said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at the Columbia Law School.

That is just a taste, you go read the rest of it at the link.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution broke the story about the cheating scandal last year, they have a new investigative report that you should read.

More cheating scandals inevitable, as states can’t ensure test…

The stain of cheating spread unchecked across 44 Atlanta schools before the state finally stepped in and cleaned it up. But across the country, oversight remains so haphazard that most states cannot guarantee the integrity of their standardized tests, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.

Poor oversight means that cheating scandals in other states are inevitable. It also undermines a national education policy built on test scores, which the states and local districts use to fire teachers, close schools and direct millions of dollars in funding.

The AJC’s survey of the 50 state education departments found that many states do not use basic test security measures designed to stop cheating on tests. And most states make almost no attempt to screen test results for irregularities.

Please take a look at that article.

I was going to post a link to this post from WhoWhatWhere, but Susie Madrak also read it and wrote about it…so here is her take on the piece. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Nuclear Standoff With Iran | Crooks and Liars

Over at WhoWhatWhy.com, Christian Stork has a thorough analysis debunking the most common myths propagated about the West’s nuclear stand-off with Iran. It’s all so familiar, isn’t it? I know if I think really hard, I can figure it out. Oh, wait – it’s just like the buildup to both wars in Iraq! And of course both times, the media did their best stenography impression.

That’s why stories like this are so important. In his “Idiot’s Guide to Iran and the Bomb,” Stork lists 8 important lessons for all people to keep in mind when surveying the media landscape around Iran’s nuclear program.

[…]

The first lesson taught, with exhaustive documentation, is that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. Considering how hard the mainstream media is working to convince us otherwise, it might be hard to grasp. But that’s why stories like this tutorial are needed. Click here to see the rest of what Stork calls his “introductory course in intellectual self-defense”

Go and check it out.

I will end this post with a couple of articles about history, I know Dakinikat will like this first a story about an ancient burial site in Denmark.

Ancient burial shroud offers up surprise

The National Museum of Denmark

This 2,800-year-old Lusehoj textile made from imported nettles was found in a grave along with the bones from what may be a Scandinavian man, scientists reported on Friday.

Ancient scraps of fabric found in a grave in Denmark are not made of cultivated flax as once believed, but instead are woven from imported wild nettles, suggesting the grave’s inhabitant may have traveled far for burial.

This discovery, announced Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, casts a new light on the textile trade in Bronze Age Europe, said study researcher Ulla Mannering, an archaeologist at the University of Copenhagen.

“Since the Stone Age, they had very well-developed agriculture and technology for producing linen textiles,” Mannering told LiveScience. “So it’s really unusual that a society which has established agriculture would also take in material from things that are not of the normal standardized agricultural production” — in other words, wild plants.

[…]

“The fibers we get from the European nettle are very, very fine and soft and shiny, and we often say this is a sort of prehistoric silk textile,” Mannering said. (Silk, made from insect cocoons, is known for its shimmery texture.)

Previous analysis pegged the Danish fabric as woven from flax, a plant widely cultivated in the region. But along with nanophysicist Bodil Holst of the University of Bergen in Norway, Mannering and her colleagues used advanced methods to reanalyze the scraps of cloth. By studying the fiber orientation as well as the presence of certain crystals found in plants, the researchers were able to learn that the fabric is not flax at all, but nettle, a group of plants known for the needlelike stingers that line their stems and leaves.

Nor is the nettle local, Mannering said. Different soil regions contain different variations of elements. The variation of one of these elements, strontium, found in the fabric, was not local to Denmark, suggesting the plants the textile was made from grew elsewhere.

There are a few regions that match the strontium profile, the researchers found, but the most likely candidate is southwest Austria. The bronze burial urn holding the remains is from Austria, Mannering said, and it makes sense that the fabric might be too.

Hey, what do you know… he was a traveling man?

Despite these imported grave goods, the remains appear to be those of a Danish man, Mannering said. The personal objects in the grave, such as two razors, suggest he was a Scandinavian, albeit perhaps a well-traveled one, she said.

“Maybe he died in Austria and was wrapped in this Austrian urn and Austrian textile and was brought back to Denmark in this condition and then put in a big burial mound,” Mannering said. “The personal objects that were placed inside the urn together with this textile and the bones indicate that he is a male of Scandinavian origin, but it doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have died abroad.”

And, lastly this blast from the past….my son will be very excited about this link…he loves the Beatles. I think many of you will appreciate it too.  October 1962: the month that modern culture was born

Photo of Beatles

The Beatles at the Cavern Club, Liverpool, in 1962. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

On 5 October 1962, a new sound filled the nation’s airwaves. It was raw, simple, direct and sexy. “Love, love me do,” sang Lennon and McCartney, “You know I love you.” The Beatles had arrived, and a new generation had a new soundtrack to their lives. Seventeen years after VE Day and VJ Day, the war was finally over. Nothing – in culture, in society, in the everyday world itself – would ever be quite the same again.

When, exactly, did the 1960s began? Was it when JFK announced he was running for president (31 January 1960)? When Harold Macmillan acknowledged “the winds of change” sweeping through colonial Africa (3 February)? Or when the chain-smoking Princess Margaret announced her engagement to a commoner, photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, on 26 February? Or was it when Kennedy finally won the US election, by a whisker, on 9 November?

Some would go further, and deny that any kind of transition occurred until the new American president had, thrillingly, been sworn in on the icy-blue morning of 20 January 1961. Until then, they say, the west was still in the grip of the sclerotic gerontocracy represented by Eisenhower and Khrushchev. One thing is certain: the 1950s took a while to pass into the limbo of lost time.

Enjoy that article, and have a wonderful Sunday Morning!


Tuesday Evening Open Thread

Evening Y’all

I have just a few links for you tonight, starting with the latest shark attack in Australia. This Great White sounds like something out of the movie Jaws. Western Australia Shark Attack: Great White Bites Surfer Benjamin Charles Linden In Half

According to the Examiner, locals have nicknamed the large shark Brutus. Witnesses have described Brutus as being between 16 and 24-feet long.

The Western Australia Department of Fisheries set up baited traps near the attack site in an attempt to catch the shark, according to the Australian. A helicopter and boat search was also launched in an effort to recover the body, but it has not been found.

Although the gruesome incident was the fifth deadly shark attack reported off the coast of Western Australia in the past 10 months, some local surfers aren’t likely to be deterred.

“Once you are a surfer — and only a surfer knows the feeling — we cannot stop surfing. We are addicted,” surfing competition organizer Peter Dunn told Fox News, calling the attack a “tragic loss.”

According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 12 deaths from unprovoked shark attacks around the world in 2011. But although shark attacks often make news, some activists point out that humans are a greater threat to sharks than sharks are to humans.

I still think it is crazy to go surfing when there is such a threat out there. The reason I put this link up anyway is because at the bottom of the page there are pictures of various kinds of sharks. Some of them look extra-terrestrial.

On to another link that may make some of you cringe as well: US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.

David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth’s weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a “plan B” for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Keith, who manages a multimillion dollar geoengineering research fund provided by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, previously commissioned a study by a US aerospace company that made the case for the feasibility of large-scale deployment of solar geoengineering technologies.

Please go to the link to read the rest. It makes me think of those science fiction films from the fifties and sixties.

Speaking of going backwards, to a different time. Check it out…we aren’t the only ones with the christian fundamentalist wrecking out schools: Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools

Michael Gove

Michael Gove has backed creationists’ proposals for free schools in Sunderland, Sevenoaks and Nottinghamshire. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has approved three free schools run by groups with creationist views, including one with a document on its website declaring that it teaches “creation as a scientific theory”.

Grindon Hall Christian school in Sunderland, a private school due to reopen in September with state funding, says on its website that it will present creationism as science and affirm the position that Christians believe God’s creation of the world is “not just a theory but a fact”.

Ministers have also approved a free school in Sevenoaks, Kent, that says on its website it will teach in RE classes that “God made the world”, while a third free school, in Nottinghamshire, is a fresh proposal from a group initially turned down over creationism.

In the US, where the campaign for creationism has been stronger, the states of Louisiana and Tennessee have recently passed laws allowing the science underpinning evolution to be critiqued in the classroom. But the creationist lobby has been less successful in gaining a foothold in Britain.

Secular groups have been concerned that the free schools policy – which allows parents, charities or faith groups to set up new schools – would allow the state-funded teaching of creationism.

Ugh, I feel sick. What the hell is happening to us? One of the free schools has this on its website:

Grindon Hall says it teaches evolution as “an established scientific principle, as far as it goes”. However, the school’s policy document adds: “We believe no scientific theory provides – or ever will provide – a satisfactory explanation of origins, ie why the world appeared, and how nothing became something in the first place.”

The principal says that document is “obsolete” and that they would not teach creationism in science….personally the whole idea of creationism is obsolete. These extremist are taking over everywhere!

So, this is an open thread, have at it!


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Seven advertisers have now dropped Limbaugh’s show after intense pressure.  ProFlowers became the latest to remove its sponsorship saying that his comments about Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”

Condemnation has come from a variety of sources outside Republican elected leaders.  Yesterday, George Will said that Republicans were afraid of him even though they thought he was a “buffoon”.

ABC’s George Will said yesterday on “This Week” that GOP leaders have steered clear of harshly denouncing Limbaugh’s comments because “Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

“[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said. “And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”

ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said the Republicans’ apprehension to say anything negative about the conservative big hitter is based on the “myth” that Limbaugh influences a large number of Republican voters.

“I think the problem is the Republican leaders, Mitt Romney and the other candidates, don’t have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which, they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon,” Dowd said.  ”They think he is like a clown coming out of a small car at a circus.  It’s great he is entertaining and all that.  But nobody takes him seriously.”

I was speaking to BB yesterday about how my experience within higher ed was very unlike Rick Santorum’s accusations that universities are turning students against religion and/or conservative thought.  I have had a large number of extremely conservative colleagues and professors in my time.  So, I was pleased when my anecdotal evidence was backed up by some numbers.  Neil Gross wrote in yesterday’s NYT that “College doesn’t make you liberal”.

But contrary to conservative rhetoric, studies show that going to college does not make students substantially more liberal. The political scientist Mack Mariani and the higher education researcher Gordon Hewitt analyzed changes in student political attitudes between their freshman and senior years at 38 colleges and universities from 1999 to 2003. They found that on average, students shifted somewhat to the left — but that these changes were in line with shifts experienced by most Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 during the same period of time. In addition, they found that students were no more likely to move left at schools with more liberal faculties.

Similarly, the political scientists M. Kent Jennings and Laura Stoker analyzed data from a survey that tracked the political attitudes of about 1,000 high school students through their college years and into middle age. Their research found that the tendency of college graduates to be more liberal reflects to a large extent the fact that more liberal students are more likely to go to college in the first place.

Studies also show that attending college does not make you less religious. The sociologists Jeremy Uecker, Mark Regnerus and Margaret Vaaler examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and found that Americans who pursued bachelor’s degrees were more likely to retain their faith than those who did not, perhaps because life at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder can be rough in ways that chip away at religious belief and participation. They report that students “who did not attend college and two-year college students are much more likely — 61 and 54 percent more, respectively — than four-year college students to relinquish their religious affiliations.”

Right wing populists frequently attack educational institutions and intellectuals.  There’s an interesting piece at Alternet that addresses this phenomenon.  Basically, democracy relies on an informed citizenry and that is the enemy of demagogues and the plutocrats they serve.

Right-wing fundamentalists such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate public schools, which he suggests are government schools wedded to doing the work of Satan, dressed up in the garb of the Enlightenment. Santorum, true to his love affair with the very secular ideology of privatization, prefers home schooling, which is code for people taking responsibility for whatever social issues or problems they may face, whether it be finding the best education for their children or securing decent health care.

Actually, Santorum and many of his allies dislike any public institution that enables people to think critically and act with a degree of responsibility toward the public. This is one reason why they hate any notion of public education, which harbors the promise, if not the threat, of actually educating students to be thoughtful, self-reflective and capable of questioning so-called common sense and holding power accountable. Of course, some progressives see this as simply another example of how the right wing of the Republican Party seems to think that being stupid is in. But there is more going on here than the issue of whether right-wing fundamentalists are intellectually and politically challenged. What makes critical education, especially, so dangerous to radical Christian evangelicals, neoconservatives and right-wing nationalists in the United States today is that, central to its very definition, is the task of educating students to become critical agents who can actively question and negotiate the relationships between individual troubles and public issues. In other words, students who can lead rather than follow, embrace reasoned arguments over opinions and reject common sense as the engine of truth.

The Hill reports that a number of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working on a “grand bargain” including cuts to entitlements.

A small, bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate are secretly drafting deficit grand bargain legislation that cuts entitlements and raises new revenue.

Sources said that the task of actually writing the bills is well underway, but core participants in the regular meetings do not yet know when the bills can be unveiled.

The core House group of roughly 10 negotiators is derived from a larger Gang of 100 lawmakers led by Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Health Shuler (D-N.C.), who urged the debt supercommittee to strike a grand bargain last year.

That larger group includes GOP centrists like Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who has said Republicans should abandon their no-new-tax-revenue pledge, as well as Tea Party-backed members like Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

The key test in the coming months will be to see whether the core group can get buy-in from many of the 100 members who vaguely support “going big” on the deficit once real cuts and tax increases are identified.

The talks are so sensitive that some members involved do not yet want to be identified.

Shuler, who is retiring this year, is keen to establish a legacy as a deficit cutter before leaving Congress and he is involved in the drafting effort.

Ezra Klein has some analysis up on how medical procedures in the US are so much more expensive than any place else in the developed world. It’s called “Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France”.

As it’s difficult to get good data on prices, that paper blamed prices largely by eliminating the other possible culprits. They authors considered, for instance, the idea that Americans were simply using more health-care services, but on close inspection, found that Americans don’t see the doctor more often or stay longer in the hospital than residents of other countries. Quite the opposite, actually. We spend less time in the hospital than Germans and see the doctor less often than the Canadians.

“The United States spends more on health care than any of the other OECD countries spend, without providing more services than the other countries do,” they concluded. “This suggests that the difference in spending is mostly attributable to higher prices of goods and services.”

On Friday, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — released more direct evidence. It surveyed its members on the prices paid for 23 medical services and products in different countries, asking after everything from a routine doctor’s visit to a dose of Lipitor to coronary bypass surgery. And in 22 of 23 cases, Americans are paying higher prices than residents of other developed countries. Usually, we’re paying quite a bit more. The exception is cataract surgery, which appears to be costlier in Switzerland, though cheaper everywhere else.

Prices don’t explain all of the difference between America and other countries. But they do explain a big chunk of it. The question, of course, is why Americans pay such high prices — and why we haven’t done anything about it.

So, that’s a few stories to get things started this morning!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Rick Santorum and Women Voters

On February 28, the day after the Michigan primary, there were a number of news stories about Rick Santorum’s problem with women. In fact, Santorum lost the Michigan primary by 3 points and he lost women voters to Romney by 5 points. If he had done better with women, Santorum would have been the winner. Patricia Murphy at The Daily Beast wrote:

Female voters in Michigan spoke out Tuesday night, but they weren’t singing Rick Santorum’s tune. The former Pennsylvania senator lost the Michigan primary to Mitt Romney by 3 points due in large part to his weakness among Michigan women. Although Santorum lost among Michigan men by just 1 point, he lost the women’s vote by a full 6-point margin, leaving him well behind Romney and unable to close the gap with male voters in any way.

Not only did he lose among women voters, Santorum lost in every female demographic group.

Santorum lost every category of women polled Tuesday night, including working women, single women, and married women. He lost working women by 4 points, single women by 7 points, and married women by 3 points.

Of course it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that women are wary of Santorum. He has repeatedly talked about his opposition to abortion and birth control and his belief that feminists have fooled women into going to college and building careers instead of staying home and home-schooling the children who results from their many pregnancies.

Either Santorum spontaneously remembered that women can vote or his advisers reminded him before he gave his post-Michigan concession speech, because Santorum really laid it on thick about how much he respects women and how many “strong” women he has known and loved.

“I grew up with a very strong mom, someone who was a professional person who taught me a lot of things about [sic] how to balancing work and family, and doing it well, and doing it with a big heart and commitment,” he said. He also praised her for getting a college education in the 1930s and eventually a graduate degree in nursing.

“She worked all of my childhood years. She balanced time, as my dad did, working different schedules, and she was a very unusual person at that time,” Santorum said. “She was a professional who actually made more money than her husband.”

Clearly this was a deliberate change in strategy. Santorum’s advisers even spoke to the Washington Post about their plans to shift gears.

Rick Santorum does not plan to abandon the fiery Christian rhetoric or the shoestring campaign that got him to where he is today. But as a slate of high-stakes Republican presidential primaries approaches, he is being forced to shift his strategy to beat back perceptions that he is obsessed with controversial social issues and harbors outdated ideas about women.

The shift will test Santorum’s skills as a candidate as well as his bare-bones campaign operation, which is struggling to match his status as a top-tier candidate. The operation’s priority this week is to hold on to the candidate’s lead in polls in Ohio, which will vote on Tuesday.

Although Santorum sought to spin the Michigan results as a tie, it is clear that the contest revealed a significant challenge for him. He has been outspoken about contraception, abortion and his wife’s decision to leave her career as a lawyer to home-school their seven children….in at least three speeches in recent days, he has made appeals to women, recalling not only his wife’s career, but also that of his 93-year-old mother. On Wednesday, in Tennessee, he described his daughter Elizabeth as “one of the great women” in his life.

Santorum staffers also emphasized that there are women in senior positions in the campaign.

But as Rebecca Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University told the Chicago Tribune, he “threw us a symbolic bone by saying, ‘Hey, I think my mom was great.'”

“It is one thing if it’s one statement, it’s another thing if it’s a broad range of statements that tap into the same problem and that’s where Rick Santorum finds himself,” Lawless says.

Not only is Santorum alienating women writ-large, she adds, but conservative women as well.

“In a lot of ways, the discussion about women’s roles and traditional family arrangements and the use of contraception have taken us back many, many decades,” Lawless says.

Despite his campaign’s recognition of the problem, it may not be possible to right the ship, she adds.

I honestly didn’t think Santorum could carry this off, because he just can’t seem to stop himself from lecturing us all about his 13th century ideas about women’s roles. And it looks like I was right. Santorum appeared on two of the Sunday morning shows and failed to steer the discussion away from social issues or reach out to women in any way.

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Santorum about the defeat of the Blunt amendment, and the former senator actually used the words “grievous moral wrong” in reference to contraception.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says an amendment put forward by Senate Republicans that would have allowed any business to exclude contraceptives from health care plans was not really about birth control.

“The Blunt amendment was broader than that,” Santorum told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. “It was a conscience clause exception that existed prior to when President Obama decided that he could impose his values on people of faith, when people of faith believe that this is a grievous moral wrong.”

Wallace asked Santorum if he truly believed that 99% of American women have “done something wrong.”

“I’m reflecting the views of the Church that I believe in,” the former Pennsylvania senator replied. “We used to be tolerant of those beliefs. I guess now when you have beliefs that are consistent with the church, you are somehow out of touch with the mainstream. And that to me is a pretty sad situation when you can’t have personally-held beliefs.”

Although Santorum recently has been claiming that he doesn’t plan to impose his 19th century views on the rest of us, it’s important to keep in mind that he said in an October 2011 interview with a religious blog, Caffeinated Thoughts, that he would “repeal all federal funding for contraception.” In addition, he has repeatedly said that he does not believe in separation of church and state.

On Chris Matthews’ show Santorum apparently sidestepped a question about Rush Limbaugh and repeated much of what he had told Chris Wallace at Fox.

Right now, Santorum and Romney are “neck and neck” in Ohio. How will Ohio women vote after a couple more days of being preached at by true believer Rick Santorum? My guess is women’s votes will decide Ohio just as they did Michigan.