Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vote Against Them Tuesday, It's Later Than We Thought [Anthony McCarthy]

I happened to be checking in on my mother while she was watching the CBS Evening News, last night. It was pretty clearly skewing its reporting in favor of Republicans, one report about the government mistakenly sending "stimulus checks" to people who had died used the phrase "stimulus check" as if the reporter had a book by that name to sell. In case anyone noticed "stimulus" is that thing the Democrats tried and allegedly failed, a line the media has been pushing all year. Un-oddly enough, it's been right in sync with the Republicans who have also given that line the big lie treatment during the exact, same period.

Then I went online to check the more reliable news and saw that Andrew Breitbart, the guy who lied about the speech Shirley Sherrod gave, leading to the destruction of her career, had been hired by ABC to work on election night. Breitbart's career wasn't destroyed by the massive exposure of his slanders against her and the NAACP. Breitbart is also involved with James O'Keefe, he helped spread the doctored video and lies that destroyed ACORN. You have to wonder how many of the people O'Keefe and Breitbart lied about might still be without a job.

Yet Andrew Breitbart is acceptable to the corporate media, where he has spewed sewage for a number of outlets, though you'd have thought that such an open liar wouldn't be acceptable to a major network. ABC has always tiptoed the edge of the pit, always at risk of falling. With its decision to hire Breitbart, it has jumped in. I'd bet that any weak, criticism of ABC for hiring him will be too weak to make them change their mind. As Juan Williams' case shows, any attempt to hold a Republican shill to any standard of journalistic integrity will be ineffective. NPR has bent over every which way, in response to the right wing lie machine in that case.

No one can pretend that TV and radio aren't Republican organs anymore. They're flaunting it. What we've been warning was coming for he last several years is the medium that American politics lives in. It's one where democracy can't live.

UPDATE: Don't Give To Your NPR Affliate

Scott Simon, on NPR's Weekend Edition thinks it's a good choice to have the massively unfunny P. J. O'Rourke on to shill his book, "Don't Vote It Just Encourages The Bastards" on the Saturday before an election in which not voting will install just the same Republicans who O'Rourke and the folks at the Cato institute, the Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, etc. where he does and has worked would like to see in charge of the government.

It's also pledge week on my local affiliate. They're asking me to donate to support Scott Simon's show, the one which is supporting the political side which regularly attacks NPR and which is always calling to cut off any funding for it and its local affiliates. So, they're asking me to give them money so they can have on people who are calling for their demise, in a week where I've been working hours and hours to encourage people to vote.

No. No, I don't think I'll be giving you any money. It will only encourage you bastards.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A little music on DV (by Suzie)

This song played in my head while I was finishing up today's post. It's from the first "Respond" CD, which raises money for Respond Inc., a Boston nonprofit that serves survivors of domestic violence. It's a 2-CD collection from female New England singer-songwriters. "Respond II" is more eclectic. But both are great for anyone who likes to hear women's voices.

This is how I read Deb Pasternak's "One Regret": A woman feels guilt and regret that she stayed so long with an abuser, lying to cover up the situation. She realizes that the way to truly be free is to let go of the guilt. I was surprised to see the video, in which she has killed the abuser. I think it makes more sense if this is seen as a metaphor.

Arguing over men’s rights during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (by Suzie)

Do domestic violence programs ignore men who are victims of women? Your answer may depend on whether you think feminism should focus on a gendered analysis of women in society or feminism must fight all injustices equally. We’ve often discussed these definitions on this blog.

Or, perhaps you're a feminist who thinks feminism has gone too far, with society now discriminating against men, at least in some areas. Jan Brown, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, seems to fall into this category. She says she’s a feminist but doesn’t want women to dominate services anymore than she wants men to dominate.

Brown says she founded the helpline 10 years ago after a friend, a man abused by a woman, could find little help. Her web site says: “We specialize in offering supportive services to men abused by their female intimate partners.” The site lists resources where male victims can find help, including a lawyer who helps men fight false allegations of abuse and a law firm that has a father’s rights blog and “works hard to offset gender bias that minimizes or trivializes the importance of good men.”

The board of directors includes David Burroughs, who chairs, or chaired, the Community Forum for Equity and Fairness in Family Issues. Some perceive him as a men’s rights advocate.

“We’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback,” Brown says. Some critics see her in league with men’s rights advocates, but she says her national nonprofit doesn’t get into issues of child support and paternity, for example. “We’re not men’s righters. I stay away from them. I don’t agree with what they do.” But “I know those guys because who else would talk to me in the beginning?”

The Maine organization was originally called the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men. It sued the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence in 2004 because the coalition only accepted programs that focused on women and their children. (For more, see Trish Wilson's blog.) Brown’s organization added “women” to its name in 2005.

A lawsuit initiated by another group claiming discrimination against men was mentioned in an interview with “Mr. Custody Coach.” Brown said: “It is unfortunate this is what we have to do in order to get equal services for men and women, but this is how the battered women’s movement also, you know, got services for women …”

Here’s some history of that movement: Wife-beating was legal and encouraged to discipline women in the U.S., as it was in many countries. In the 19th century, if women escaped abusive husbands, authorities were empowered to bring them back, just as they might a runaway child. SafeNetwork: California's Domestic Violence Resource has a timeline:

In 1871, “Alabama is the first state to rescind the legal right of men to beat their wives.” In 1882, Massachusetts makes wife-beating a crime. In 1911, “the first family court is created in Buffalo, NY.” This begins the diversion of wife-beating from the criminal courts, resulting in lesser penalties for beating a wife than a stranger. In 1966, “beating, as cruel and inhumane treatment, becomes grounds for divorce in New York, but the plaintiff must establish that a 'sufficient' number of beatings have taken place.” In 1967, “the state of Maine opens one of the first shelters in the United States.” It wasn’t until 1993 that “marital rape became a crime in all 50 states.”

Mary Cleary, founder of AMEN, a support program for men abused by women in Ireland, is on the helpline’s advisory board. She cowrote the book “That Bitch”:
Domestic violence in particular is NOT a gender issue as so many women’s groups claim. Women initiate violence against men as much as men initiate violence against women. Anyone who claims something different is either ill-informed or is deliberately perpetrating a lie. This ‘man-bashing’ propaganda is a disgrace and a travesty.
Also on the helpline’s advisory board is Murray Straus, a well-known sociologist who created the Conflict Tactics Scale and says women are as violent toward intimate partners as men are.

“But who dies? It’s usually women. That’s pretty solid data,” says Linda Osmundson, executive director of CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) in St. Petersburg. (Linda is a friend of mine, and I'm on her side in this post. Nevertheless, I want to explore the arguments.)

Critics of the Conflict Tactics Scale note that surveys often don’t reach women who have fled their homes. The violence may be taken out of context, such as whether it’s a pattern of behavior. Women are more likely to fear violence by men than vice versa. For other arguments, see sociologist Michael Kimmel's book “The Gendered Society.”

Brown agrees that “women are the most injured and prevalent victims,” as she wrote in a letter printed in both metro Tampa Bay newspapers. I blogged about the letter last Friday because a local woman put her name on it to increase its chances of being printed.

Brown suggested some feminists are stuck in time, still blaming domestic violence on patriarchy. She thinks it accounts for little violence now. She attributes most interpersonal violence to mental-health, substance-abuse and relationship problems. Her treasurer, Stan Weeber, went further. He has blogged:
… a feminist perspective … blames patriarchy exclusively for the appearance of abuse, and closes the mind of the director and the community at large to alternative explanations.
Most abusive men test in the normal range, Osmundson responds. Drugs and alcohol can worsen violence, she says, but that doesn’t explain why some men feel entitled to control and abuse women. History and culture can explain it, however. For example, she says, many people still interpret their religions as saying that men should be the head of their households and women should submit. She remembers when census takers would mark down her husband as the head of the household.

Brown says only a small percentage of the nation’s shelters help men. That’s not true anymore, Osmundson says, acknowledging that CASA wasn’t always open to men. “We’re much more sophisticated than we used to be.” In addition to men abused by women, CASA helps people who have experienced same-sex violence. (Brown’s helpline also offers resources to LGBT people.)

All seven domestic-violence programs in the Tampa Bay area have “provisions to service men,” Osmundson says, and CASA trains its staff to work with any victims. Services include helping men get injunctions, she says, but most of those men are gay.

CASA has dormitory-style housing, and if she puts a man in a unit, the other beds go empty, unless the man has brought children that can occupy them. Taking in one man could mean several women lose out. But this is a rare problem -- a man requests shelter only every five years or so, she says.

Female abuse of men is “highly underreported,” Brown says, because abused men know that they will face skepticism. When programs focus on women, “why would a guy even think he’s welcome there?” She asks: Why must domestic violence programs focus on any one group?

Hers does. Although the home page says everyone is "offered the same respect and support," it also says the nonprofit specializes in men, and its resources are geared to men. I called its helpline and got a message saying women might want to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (which, by the way, is celebrating its 15th anniversary). The helpline's home page asks people to light a virtual candle for male victims. If I were a battered woman, I would go somewhere else.

Nevertheless, I do understand the need for programs to reach different populations. Just as Brown created the helpline to help men, people built shelters for women who had nowhere else to turn. Because women earn less money on average, and are less likely to work outside the home, it may be harder for abused women to find a place to stay. For example, there are more homeless shelters focused on men than women.

Brown considers a program in Lancaster, Calif., a model because it welcomes both men and women. Valley Oasis helps “people who have suffered violence and are homeless.” Support groups consist of both men and women. Clients have private cottages, not dormitories. CEO Carol (Ensign) Crabson is one of the advisors for the National Coalition For Men, San Diego Chapter, according to a letter online. Crabson has said that domestic abuse of men is “a problem of similar magnitude” to abuse of women.

“About a third of the men or less who sought help” from hotlines, domestic-violence agencies and/or police said they were blamed in some fashion, reports Denise Hines, who has researched “men who sustain intimate partner violence” with a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Clark, a research assistant professor in psychology at Clark University who did postdoctoral research under Murray Straus, is on the helpline’s advisory board.
… 302 men participated in an online survey; we recruited them through advertising on websites that dealt primarily with men’s issues and through the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women.
In her survey, “67.2% reported that they were falsely accused of beating their wives.”

Psychologist Michael Murphy, also on the helpline's advisory board, has described Brown inviting him to a conference on male victims, and how she had just spoken to a man who had not seen his children for seven years because of “false allegations of abuse.”

Isn’t it likely that men who are accused of abuse would find authorities less trusting of their own allegations of abuse? Isn’t it possible that men who get help from hotlines, agencies and police are less likely to hang out on sites about men’s issues or to call Brown’s helpline? In other words, couldn’t the survey method have tainted the results?

Many female victims also think the system has failed them. Many feel that people are blaming them in some way, such as suggesting they should have known the man was dangerous, they should have left, they shouldn't have been drinking or drugging, they shouldn't have provoked him, etc. Women fail to seek help for various reasons, Osmundson says.

If a woman is ashamed to have a failed marriage, if she fears that a male judge won't believe her, if a policeman thinks a big man can't be the victim of a small woman, if a man thinks he must be strong and tough it out, how is gender not involved?

The helpline's “volunteer team” is mostly women. Because of a lack of money, they can rarely pay for services, such as bus fare, food or a hotel, Brown says.

Men predominate in state legislatures, Congress and the criminal justice system. They hold the top jobs in religion and the media. Most of the top CEOs are men. I'm all for abused men getting services they need. Instead of accusing women of being discriminatory, however, why don't men give the time and money to help other men?
I interviewed Brown and Osmundson last week. This week, a man in Tampa shot his former girlfriend in the face and killed her. Then he crashed a car into a house, killing himself. The woman, a nurse with an autistic child, had gotten an injunction for protection a month ago. The man had custody of a daughter from a previous relationship. The mother of his daughter had been denied an injunction for protection in 1999, but was granted a one-year injunction in 2001. In 2009, the mother of his son was denied an injunction.

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

This is a cat, possibly Audrey Hepburn, at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West. I think she has extra toes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Women's Public Hair

No, that's not a typo. Women's pubic hair is now public hair and subject to the same cut-and-burn rules as all body hair on women. An August 2010 piece at Salon talks about this:

Sasha Grey made my day -- and I don't just say that to rhyme, I swear. Apparently, the porn star appeared naked on last night's "Entourage" and caused quite the commotion among the show's dude-bro contingent. Not because she was naked on-camera (which is, mind you, a relatively common occurrence) but because she went naked with a full-on bush (which is also a relatively common occurrence for her, actually). Judging from the resulting hysteria on Twitter, it was the Pube-pocalypse. Behold, a few of the standout tweets:

Yea she had a sicko BUSH

Sasha Grey had an ENORMOUS f***ing 70s bush. WTF

That s**t was so uncalled for

Sasha Grey really should shave her bush

Entourage was wild. So was Sasha Grey's bush. #EW

did anyone else think that was disgusting. ITS 2010!
(Stars inserted by me in the vain hope that this will slip past the censors at places of work.)

Now, those comments may not be representative. But what is certainly true is this:

The no-hair look was made popular by porn, as the biggest porn star of the moment is no doubt aware.
There you have it, all of you who think that porn has no impact on anything outside the private games the viewers play with themselves. It has made some heterosexual men develop a vomit-reflex when they see natural pubic hair on women and it has made the shaving of the pubic area fashionable for at least some women. And for some odd reason it has made some guys think that pubic hair stopped growing on women in the 1970s. Now that was funny.

My point isn't to approve or disapprove of whatever people choose to do to their bodily hairs but to point out the role of popular culture, including pornography, on something presumably as biology-driven as desire. If men unaccustomed to seeing female pubic hair find it sufficient to turn them off, how on earth could that desire be based on pure biology? Adult women in the wild do, after all, grow pubic hair.

All this proves the powerful role of culture (including the pornographic parts of it), in case you didn't get the message already.

And yes, this post was provoked by that Gawker story.

Utterly Hilarious Caveman Stories

Iowa Republican Steve King has linked the defense of "traditional" marriage (which isn't very traditional, of course) to the defense of "life" (which means only pre-birth life):

"I think that if we can't defend marriage, that it becomes very hard to defend life," King said. "Marriage is the crucible by which we pour all of our values and pass them on to our children, and that is how the culture is renewed each time. So, if we lose marriage — for instance, if our children are raised in warehouses, so to speak. There have been civilizations that have tried to do that. The Spartans did that. They took the children away and taught them to be warriors. It's a good way to defend a country, but not much of a way to run a civilization.

"So, I'm afraid if that happened — if we lose the marriage, we lose the home, we lose the nuclear family then we can't teach our values. We won't be able to teach our faith. We won't be able to teach life. We won't be able to teach our Constitutional values either. That's why I'm afraid it's going to be very, very difficult to defend life."
I'm not sure how he plans to lose marriage. Has he looked under the sofa cushions? But neither am I at all sure that he has had much to do with that instillation of values in the "traditional" marriage. That's other people's job in the kind of world he inhabits.

Still, it's always funny when people make their arguments based on absurdities: Either we have the "traditional" marriage or children are warehoused.

But that's not the utterly hilarious bit. It's this comment by some guy who doesn't like gays and lesbians and who has deeply delved into the field of Evo-Psycho:

Randy Crawford of Iowa City said he intends to vote for the removal of the justices because he is concerned about the judiciary overstepping its reach and also about the propensity of homosexuals within his community.

"My primary reason for being here is because I believe the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench. But I also believe that homosexuality is bad thing," he said. "It used to be useful when we were cavemen and we needed people to guard the caves full of women and children. If I'm a guy out hunting, I want to leave someone back at the cave tending to my wife and kids, and I don't want a normal guy having that kind of access to my wife and kids. So, in our evolution, you can see that there use to be a utility for homosexuality, but that was when we were cavemen and we aren't cavemen anymore. So, homosexuality is obsolete."
The caves full of women and children while the cavemen go out hunting! That doesn't sound like any hunter-gatherer society I've ever read about. But it's truly funny.

Though of course his silly theory doesn't explain lesbians...

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment

This time it was about the Tea Party and what some of its candidates stand for. You can watch the whole Special Comment here.

I guess the nicest thing I can say about the tea partiers is that some of them may not have thought through the consequences of getting rid of most of the government, privatizing Social Security and otherwise turning this country into a banana republic.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tea For Two?

This article in last Sunday's Washington Post is well worth reading, because it deviates from the usual plot-driven discussion of politics and takes up the much more difficult task of actually acquiring information! I applaud the writer, Amy Gardner, and all those who worked on this. Information is what we need, not fictional story-lines about politics or the opera critic approach to political campaigns. Did that guy scream too loudly? Off with his head! How about that hairdo? Better vote for someone else.

Gardner writes about the Tea Party movement in a refreshing way, by trying to find out how many people belong to it and what they wish to achieve. A snippet or two:

The findings suggest that the breadth of the tea party may be inflated. The Atlanta-based Tea Party Patriots, for example, says it has a listing of more than 2,300 local groups, but The Post was unable to identify anywhere near that many, despite help from the organization and independent research.

In all, The Post identified more than 1,400 possible groups and was able to verify and reach 647 of them. Each answered a lengthy questionnaire about their beliefs, members and goals. The Post tried calling the others as many as six times. It is unclear whether they are just hard to reach or don't exist.


The tea party's biggest successes this year have come only after one of a handful of well-funded national groups swooped in to mobilize local support. In upset victories in Alaska and Delaware, for instance, the Sacramento-based Tea Party Express spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising for Republican Senate candidates Joe Miller and Christine O'Donnell, respectively.

Other national groups, such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, have also built organizations and spent millions of dollars on advertising, high-profile bus tours or other direct campaign tactics.
Getting information is hard work, and these findings don't mean that the Tea Party movement wouldn't exist or have political power. But some of that power appears to be media-created.

Selling Youth Sexuality

The title of an On Point radio show with Tom Ashbrook. Except that the show is about selling teenage girls' sexual availability, not about selling youth sexuality. It has to do with Glee and those GQ pictures of the two female actors dressed as porn starlets while still being dressed for their roles as teenage girls at school. Ashbrook had several experts on the show, all women.

I listened to the whole show while cleaning the kitchen. I'd scrub the stove top while waiting for the obvious to be said. It never was said. I washed the fridge while euphemisms flew around the room, coming from that radio program, and I scrubbed the floor with the anger it all developed.

You may not wish to listen to the whole show to see what made me so furious, and perhaps you wouldn't be furious at all, because the causes of my anger are not blatantly obvious but rather something lurking in the shadows of an otherwise well-lit room.

The show wasn't bad in terms of addressing the pressure for even tiny girls to dress as if they were looking for someone to give a blow-job to, and it wasn't bad in terms of pointing out that there should be more to the female life than that, even after the girl grows up and turns into an adult woman. Indeed, my guess is that the pron-lovers would find the show quite disconcerting.

But two things made my eyes light up and blink red.

The first, and lesser one, had to do with all those euphemisms, beginning with the title of the show and this line in the blurb: "We look at the debate over kids and marketed sex."

Then one of the experts argued that teenage girls always have had to learn how to cope with "male attention" on the street and to "negotiate" it. That, my friends, is an euphemism for street harassment. It's just something that happens and women must learn to negotiate it successfully, in order to get home in one piece, I guess.

Because, really, what teenage girls must learn to do is to deal with the power they have over men! The sexual power. This power can be turned on and off, naturally, and every teenage girl will be completely safe if she just says no to everyone finding her erection-inducing!

Now, I'm not saying that sexuality wouldn't have a power aspect or an attraction aspect. But possessing that kind of power is a bit like possessing an expensive diamond necklace. It can simply be taken from you. It's not always the kind of power which makes other people do what you wish them to do.

And what about the sexual power of teenage boys? Ashbrook tried a few times to draw out comments on the effect of all this (the soft-pron pictures in GQ) on teenage boys, but the only answer he got was that it's like the boys' dreams turned into flesh! That's where the boys were left, just learning that girls are sexual receptacles, and nobody seemed to have a problem with that.

This brings me to the second ire-causing aspect of the show: That invisible elephant again. This time sexuality was all about what teenage girls do and what their parents might be able to do to talk them into something else than porn starlet outfits.

Nobody else was asked to change anything at all! Pron would still determine what an attractive woman or girl should look like and what she is expected to do, and sexual harassment on the streets is something that every woman must learn to negotiate. Places like GQ would offer soft-pron pictures of actresses pretending to be teenagers to adult men but we would somehow block teenagers from seeing them. Or from watching pron in general.

All this reminds me of the advice women get on how to prevent rape. Both focus on individual solutions aimed at the victim and leave the rest of the picture the same.

But that wasn't the only odd thing about this program (and many, many others like it). As I scrubbed I started thinking that surely the experts would soon tell me at what age teenage girls become fair game for the pron culture, that they'd finally tell us at what age teenage boys can start watching the hard-core pron on the Internet.

Because the system itself was left completely untouched in the discussion. Only the age at which one should enter it was debated.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Head Stomping. Warning: Violent Images.

I'm pretty sure you have read all about the violent attack which happened before a Senate candidates' debate in Kentucky.

Note: The YouTube video I linked to earlier has been removed but you can still watch the earlier video at TPM.

The stompee is a MoveOn activist Lauren Valle. She suffered a concussion but appears to be OK now.

Barefoot And Progressive first identified the stomper as Tim Profitt, a volunteer with Rand Paul's campaign. I have not seen the identities of the other attackers mentioned anywhere.

Profitt's excuse for the attack:

A supporter of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul is apologizing after he was seen on video stepping on a liberal activist's head.

Tim Profitt, a volunteer with the Republican's U.S. Senate campaign, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the camera angle made the scuffle Monday night appear worse that it was. He criticized police for not stepping in and says other supporters warned authorities about the activist.
The camera angle he mentions is the one in the first video shown on television and not the one I had posted here until YouTube removed it (which indeed does prevent a gentler and kinder form of violence).

The police should have done what Profitt chose to do, I guess, to stop Valle from presenting her award to Rand Paul. Not sure what the libertarian creed says about taking violence in your own hands if the police won't do your bidding?

Is there a gender aspect to all this? Several guys tugging and pulling a young woman over? Would Profitt have done the same to a male MoveOn activist?


Profitt has now been served with criminal summons:

A supporter of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul is being served with a criminal summons after he was seen on video stepping on a liberal activist's head at a rally Monday night, according to Lexington police.

Tim Profitt, a volunteer with Paul's campaign, said he was concerned the woman was trying to attack Paul and acted only to subdue her.

"The way she went after him it looked like something bad was getting ready to happen," said Profitt, 53, of Bourbon County.

He said he put his foot on her shoulder, not her head. "I said, 'Now you stay down,' and called for police. The only thing we were trying to do was subdue her."
I guess she could have suffocated Rand Paul with her wig or something.

Meanwhile, in Iran

Women's studies and human rights will probably be eradicated from university curricula:

Iran has imposed new restrictions on 12 university social sciences deemed to be based on Western schools of thought and therefore incompatible with Islamic teachings, state radio reported Sunday.

The list includes law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science and the two subjects that appear to cause the most concern among Iran's conservative leadership — women's studies and human rights.

"The content of the current courses in the 12 subjects is not in harmony with religious fundamentals and they are based on Western schools of thought," senior education official Abolfazl Hassani told state radio.
Sigh. This is the reason why theocracies are a Very Bad Idea.

Meanwhile, in Colorado

The elections will have a question about the personhood rights of American embryos:

Next week, people in Colorado will be voting on Amendment 62, a ballot measure sponsored by PersonhoodUSA. This organization seeks to establish the "pre-born," including eggs, embryos and fetuses as separate "legal persons with protection under the law."

This organization claims that its goal is to end the "injustice of abortion." In fact they are promoting a Fetal Separatist movement, one that is trying to legally separate pregnant women and the fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses inside of them. Their efforts are dangerous to all pregnant women including those who go to term, those who expect confidential medical care, and those who want to preserve their right to life and liberty.
And why are these attempts dangerous should Roe v. Wade be overturned in the future?

As the author of the linked piece states, treating embryos and fetuses as legal persons will immediately reduce the personhood of pregnant women, and perhaps also the personhood of all women capable of pregnancy. Treating the "pre-born" as "legal persons with protection under the law" logically and unavoidably means that all fertile women are turned into possible residences for these "pre-born."

It is hard to see how amendments like this one could ever be applied selectively to abortion and not to all the other ways women (the residences) might endanger potential legal persons by engaging in some activity known to be harmful to fetuses. A woman getting drunk in a bar! What if there is a legal person inside her (then her drinking would be child abuse)? How can we tell? Better have all fertile women tested every month.

I used to preface comments like the above one with some gentle note about "in extreme cases" or "taken to the logical extreme" but I can't do that any longer, because granting a fertilized egg the same legal rights as a pregnant woman (AND juxtaposing those sets of rights) IS extreme and DOES have dystopian consequences.

The more immediate of those dystopian consequences are the ones the linked article discusses: Women's reproductive rights would be diminished not only in terms of abortion but also in terms of rights during pregnancy and childbirth.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Forbidden Images

I found this YouTube video while looking for stuff on Sarah Bernhardt. It consists of snippets of film from silent movies a projectionist cut out in Pennsylvania, presumably because he regarded the images as too shocking or thought the audience would regard them so.

The way the video is discussed, both in the blurb and in most of the comments is interesting. Very few notice that every single of these images is about women's bodies and none make the point that nothing having to do with just men seems to have been cut. But most interestingly of all, the overall theme is one where women's bodies are conflated with "daring sexuality," and the blurb urges people to think about what one might censor today, given that such innocent scenes were censored in the past.

In one sense, of course, absolutely nothing has changed. Sex is still all about women's bodies and people either want them covered up and hidden or freely available for public consumption.

For a very different image of sex in those olden days, I prefer Bessie Smith.

Today's Deep Thought

Is this: Social media is not news-and-information, and news-and-information should not try to be social media, just for the money.

We are rapidly moving towards the concept of social media in everything: Have Your Say! What Do You Think? We Want To Hear Your Opinion.

It's Facebook everywhere and it's about equally confusing, silly and trivial as most of those Facebook quizzes and games and messages about what someone ate for breakfast (English muffins, burned in the toaster, Swiss cheese and ginger marmalade), and it confuses the consumer more than anything.

Fox News is all opinion shows with false data, and its competitors are approaching the same format. That is the reason why we get stuff like this:

"Climate change is real, and man is causing it," Mr. Hill said, echoing most climate scientists. "That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it."

A rain of boos showered Mr. Hill, including a hearty growl from Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party.

"It's a flat-out lie," Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. "I read my Bible," Mr. Dennison said. "He made this earth for us to utilize."
That, and the he-said-she-said format combined with the fact that things used to be different: television used to at least give the basic information and people still partly think it does, is the father and mother of our problems.

We are poorly informed and we are misinformed.

On Clarence Thomas

I have read the stories about Ginni Thomas' call to Anita Hill, asking for an apology for something that took place so long ago it could now vote if it was human. There was nothing more astonishing I could write about any of that so I did not.

But the story had legs and wings and wheels, even, and Maureen Dowd wrote about it recently:

Years later, some of the Democrats on that all-male, all-white Senate Judiciary Committee told me they assumed there must have been a consensual romance between the boss and his subordinate. McEwen assumed so, too, because Clarence took Anita with him when he changed agencies. Hill has made it clear she felt no reciprocal attraction.

Joe Biden, the senator who ran those hearings, was leery of the liberal groups eager to use Hill as a pawn to checkmate Thomas. He circumscribed the testimony of women who could have corroborated Hill's unappetizing portrait of a power-abusing predator.

For the written record, Biden allowed negative accounts only from women who had worked with Thomas. He also ruled out testimony from women who simply had personal relationships with Thomas, and did not respond to a note from McEwen — a former assistant U.S. attorney who had once worked as a counsel for Biden's committee — reminding him of her long relationship with Thomas.

It's too late to relitigate the shameful Thomas-Hill hearings. We're stuck with a justice-for-life who lied his way onto the bench with the help of bullying Republicans and cowed Democrats.
Mmm. And guess what? In every single one of his decisions, Thomas has been avenging his public humiliation on the women of America. But nobody seems to notice that bit, except for poor old me.

The Clarence Thomas hearings turned many women into feminists. It was fascinating to watch all those men reveal how little they understood of the lives of women, fascinating to watch them groping for an explanation that would make sense to them.

A rejected woman out for revenge was the favorite one, I think. Those men simply had no experience with being the receiving party of sexual harassment, none whatsoever, and they showed it openly.

All that offered a pretty good reason for wanting more women in the Congress. To make sure that someone on those types of committees actually had some experience on the issue. Well, experience as the victim, at least.

What Price Ignorance?

Jesse Kelly wants to go to Washington D.C. to fix the government. His approach is simple and stupid. Watch it:

A transcript is available at Think Progress.

Simple-and-stupid has a certain appeal, don't you think? For instance, it's very simple to lump all kinds of regulations into the same bucket and then to spit into it, despite the fact that different types of regulations are aimed at quite different goals. Simple but stupid.

It's also simple to assume that the financial industry was heavily regulated before it decided to implode and explode. Simple but incorrect, because we spent the last two decades pulling out the teeth of any regulatory beast still padding along the corridors of power. It was simpler that way. Also much more stupid.

Finally, it's really stupid to assume that consumers could go out and test all the foods and medications out there, and it's really really stupid to assume that no manufacturer would ever wish to adulterate the product to save some money. The recent Chinese experience tells us that if our ability to remember doesn't reach further past.

Simple-and-stupid is the fashion this election year, sadly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Critter Blogging

Baby parrot.

How To Make Cardinal These Days

A good bet is to fight against women's rights. Which is very funny what with those long dresses and gaudy colors and so on.

I smell religious competition, too. The Big Boy Religions are contending for the top prizes of misogyny. Those prizes are nothing to sneeze at, having to do with the control of fertility.