Category Archives: Women’s Issues

He Worked Very Hard and We Wish Him Well…

I’d really hoped not to hear this kind of phrasing coming from the White House today, but… He did it, the President of the United State said of domestic abuser Rob Porter, “He worked very hard and we wish him well.”  (MSNBC) No, that really doesn’t indicate that this Oval Office takes violence against women all that seriously.  I truly don’t care if he was the best paper pusher in the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  He’s a serial domestic abuser.  I really don’t care if he was the best filter of paper and proposals in the Universe. He’s a serial domestic abuser.   And, the President* didn’t take the opportunity to even mention violence against women.  What he said about a serial domestic abuser was that (a) he was gone and (b) the White House wished him well.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nevada.  The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence issued a report of 2016 statistics (pdf) on the subject, and it’s discouraging to see that there were a total of 64,457 contacts made to authorities/agencies about domestic and sexual violence during that calendar year.  11,197 were repeated contacts.  There were 24,567 “bednights” or overnight shelter provided to adults, and 1,411 provided to children.  There were 13,589 incidents reported to police, resulting in 6,433 arrests.  There were 5,128 cases in which the police were not contacted. There were 23,777 cases in which it is unknown if law enforcement was contacted.  Additionally, there were 18,164 cases in which the referral for possible action is unknown.

It’s not like domestic abuse and sexual violence are issues we can separate from other criminal acts or address with fast/quick solutions. The problem is cyclical:’

“Abuse tends to occur in cycles. It does not just go away and tends to get worse over time. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence typically, but not always, follows a pattern. There is a period of tension building; there is an episode of violence; and there is a time calm, or a “honeymoon” (Hancock, 2012). Research suggests the more severe the violence, the more chronic it is and the more likely it is to worsen over time (Lipsky et al., 2012).”

There is a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings:

“…mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54% of shootings—which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns. Between January 2009 and December 2016, 422 people were killed in domestic violence disputes; more than 40% of these people were children.” [Fortune]

And women are the most likely victims:

 “Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.”  (IPV = Intimate Partner Violence) [CDC]

Yes, to that last point because the 5th leading cause of death for women between the ages of 18-44 is homicide.  So, we should be taking the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously because it’s a leading cause of death among women in the prime of their lives, because it’s part of an escalating cycle of violence, one that too often leads to the kinds of mass shooting which shock the senses.  And, no, I do not wish the perpetrators “well.” I wish for police intervention, legal consequences, the collection of comprehensive statistics, the development and implementation of prevention programs, and the closing of the “boyfriend loophole” for the procurement of firearms.

No more — no more excuses, no more attempts at amelioration, no more minimizing the problem, no more … Time’s Up.

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Friday News and Notes

It’s been many raccoons’ ages since DB has done a good old fashioned amalgamation of good reporting and recommended reading.  If we grant that the national media tends to be a flock/herd of creatures all fascinated by the latest shiny objects, it would be highly unfair to extend this critique to local and state reporters who are covering stories which may never travel beyond the borders but are essential to understanding real issues facing real people.  Recommended reading from Nevada reporters:

Nevada: On the gubernatorial race — Nevada Independent article on Steve Sisolak and his position on so-called Sanctuary Cities.  Those who want to keep up with Nevada political news, and Clark County politics will want to bookmark this source.  “GOP bid for control in Nevada raises fear of endless recalls,” in the Reno Gazette Journal is an essential read for the week.  The Las Vegas Review Journal business section has a link to its coverage of the saga of Steve Wynn which is a good reference for his travails.   Michael Roberson will be visiting Elko, NV with his “sanctuary cities” petition as part of his latest political machinations in the state.   The Las Vegas Sun editorial says it’s time to put tracer ammunition in the cross-hairs.

Women’s Corner:  “Top White House Officials Knew of Abuse Allegations Against Top Aides for Months”, Washington Post.  This excerpt summarizes the hypocrisy nicely:

“McGahn and other West Wing officials are under increasing pressure to explain why Porter was kept in a key role in which he had access to classified information and helped determine which articles and policy proposals made it to the president’s desk while top Trump officials were aware for months of at least some of the serious allegations against him.”

Let this sink in. A political campaign that railed day after day about spurious allegations of major misconduct and mismanagement of a few classified e-mails, some classified well after their initial release, has an individual who handled all manner of classified materials — some so classified that the classifications themselves are classified — who cannot get a security clearance because of his potential for compromise due to his attempts to cover past domestic abuse incidents.   The White House excuse for slow authorizations appears to be “lots of people are new to government, and therefore take longer,” however — when most background checks take four to six weeks to have some going on for a year seems beyond the pale.

A New York Times editorial asks what the President* might do if he really cared about violence against women? Maybe fill the of White House Adviser on violence against women (which has been vacant for over a year now) or maybe appoint a Department of Justice head of the Violence Against Women section, or maybe appoint a State Department ambassador at large on global women’s issues?  Advocate fully funding and implementing the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act?  Encourage federal contributions to research on family violence?

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, Women's Issues

The Age Old Problem

It’s getting more difficult to discuss sexual misconduct allegations, perhaps because we’ve not addressed the important question Ruth Marcus ask in her column today:

The national debate over sexual harassment and sexual assault has reached an important and precarious moment as it shifts from what behavior is acceptable to what punishment is warranted. Having under-reacted for too long, are we now at risk of overreacting?

She has made a salient point.  Is James A. disqualified from advancement because he patted a female fanny in times gone by? Is David B. disqualified from elected office because he has a documented history of advances on underage girls?  Must Kevin C. resign because three women accuse him of improper behavior in the office? Must William D. resign because he settled one or more allegations of improper behavior out of court with non-disclosure agreements attached?

In short, the more women share their stories, the more complex the situation becomes because every situation is as different as the individuals and situation involved.  Each of us is going to have to establish a framework for judgments, and there are some areas in which we should be in general agreement.

No one wants to be humiliated, objectified, and victimized.  If someone’s behavior has that effect on someone else, then it’s bad. Period.  Now, comes the hard part — how bad?

There’s Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump level bad.  Multiple women have leveled multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct, some of which fall into the illegal activity category, against these men.  And, now, as Washington Post columnist Marcus suggests, how do we evaluate other, less serious charges?

Do we toss all the pigs to the wolves?  Must every Congressman, Senator, or Staffer resign at the first instance in which an allegation is offered?  Does every producer, reporter, business executive have to pack up the office after being charged in the court of public opinion? The One Size Fits All response certainly appears to simplify the problem but in fact may serve to make the overall situation more complicated.

No one should argue that a woman must feel any form of discomfort about coming forward to complain about crude behavior.  Period.  However, What does she do in a Zero Tolerance workplace about the co-worker at the office party who’s had at least one too many from the open bar and did something for which he apologized profusely the next morning?  Does it depend on “what he did?” On what he said afterwards? On how credible she finds his apology?

Perhaps one way to consider the problem is to operate from the premise: Believe the Women.  If she’s not satisfied, I’m probably not either.  If she is satisfied with the resulting actions, I’m probably OK with the solution.  I do reserve a modicum of skepticism for those whose allegations appear specious or whose persistence is all out of proportion to the available facts.  (I’m thinking here of a woman whose allegations were once dismissed by Ken Starr.)

I do advocate for a woman’s right to choose when to report instances of sexual harassment or misconduct.  It should be HER call.  Questions of assault, rape, and abuse are in another category in my estimation — these are legal issues in which the standards of the legal system should apply.  Meanwhile….

What do we do with garden variety creeps?  The fellows who don’t make physical contact but who can clear the room simply by being in it.  What do we do with the man who only refers applications from men to HR for follow up interviews?  What do we think of men who are perfectly comfortable with the belief that men should earn more than women for the same job because he’s supposed to be “bringing home the bacon?”

There’s one solution I think will work to mitigate the problems — hire more women, select more women, elect more women.  Then I await the day when some fellow in the interview waiting room worries that his suit may make him look fatter….

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Filed under Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

The Power and the Vainglory: Roy Moore’s Sad Mad Power Grab

American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, without ever meeting him: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”   The expression actually goes back a bit further in English literature, appearing as “counting spoons” in James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson.

“Why Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks he is lying; and I see not what honour  he can propose to himself from having the character of a liar.  But if he does really think there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.”

The metaphor has lost some of its relevancy in an age wherein table spoons come not just in pewter or silver, but in aluminum, stainless steel, and various kinds of plastic.  However, it holds its force as a description of the prudent response to voluble protestations of (self) righteousness.

Did we not wonder why the man was so vehemently anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-modernity?  Why he insisted beyond all reason that a massive monument to the Ten Commandments be installed in his courthouse?   Most counties are satisfied with a smaller, more tasteful, monument located on a nice piece of manicured lawn.  Not so Mr. Moore.  Most public officers were, at least grudgingly, willing to abide by the law of the land on gay marriage.  Not so Mr. Moore.

Most people in this country are willing to tolerate a range of beliefs, even if such beliefs are personally objectionable.  Not so Mr. Moore, who is essentially an eliminationist.  Those with whom he disagrees should be silenced.  Those of whom he does not approve must be incarcerated.   Some scholars have associated the Nazi eliminationism with native antisemitism.  The combination was violently toxic and heinously lethal.  Moore espouses a particularly vehement hatred of Muslims — they are to be excluded from public office and civil society.  Moore has decried that the “government started creating new rights in 1965.”  The date is instructive.  The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and the decision in Griswold v. Connecticut was rendered in 1965.  Mr. Moore is nothing new on the face of the earth. He’s as old as patriarchal tribal conflict.

He’s as old as the theories of female responsibility for leading First Man astray, as old as the opponents of the cults of Isis, Aphrodite, and  Mother Earth.  There’s no single point of origin for misogyny, but Mr. Moore can find plenty of carefully selected Biblical passages to buttress his prejudices.  We could also assemble a number of equally carefully selected passages to oppose his views.  The common denominator for these views precipitate down to Power.  Not necessarily sex, but power of one gender over another.

This isn’t about a cultural issue, although support for Mr. Moore can be utilized as a “political wedge issue,” under the category of Culture Wars.  However, no matter how it’s implemented, it’s still not a cultural issue. It’s still about good old fashioned garden variety power.

Why else would a 30+ year old man seek the attentions of teenage girls?  Why else would a man grope? Not because it’s a form of play — but because it’s a display of power.  And that’s the last thing Mr. Moore needs to possess — more power over anyone, anywhere, anytime.  The good people of Alabama deserve better representation than that which is so sadly demonstrated by Mr. Moore.

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

To Our Republican Neighbors: You Don’t Get To Talk About Weinstein, Ever

Excuse me, but if Republicans are pleased to discuss the odious adventures of Harvey Weinstein, then I have one statement for them: STFU.  They have no room to talk. They have no credibility on this subject.  This isn’t a matter of “both sides do it.”  No, this is a matter of no one should do it, and it’s the Democrats, the Liberals, who are willing to back up their opprobrium with action.  The Republicans, not so much.

Where’s John Edwards?  Certainly not in a leadership position in the Democratic Party.  Compare to Sen. David Vitter, whose involvement with the DC Madam in 2007 was conveniently overlooked by Republicans in 2010 when he was returned to the Senate.  Where’s Anthony Weiner? Certainly not active in Democratic Party operations these days.  How long did Republicans attempt to cover for Rep. Denny Hastert?  How many blind eyes were averted from Rep. Mark Foley?   And, now we come to one Donald J. Trump,  who’s been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct by at least 12 women (as of October 2016), and while we’re on the topic … what’s on the rest of those Access Hollywood Tapes, the ones we’ve not yet heard?

The ultimate irony is listening to Ultra Snowflake Tucker Carlson present his whackadoodle theory that Sec. Hillary Clinton is somehow responsible for enabling Weinstein’s behavior while he’s sitting in Bill O’Reilly’s chair broadcasting on Roger Ailes network.   As at least one comedian has observed, this renders irony officially dead.

If Republicans want to discuss the widespread and inhumane instances of spousal abuse, sexual assault and harassment, and downright misogyny,  then they may do so — but they don’t get the “both sides” do it argument so long as the Misogynist In Chief is in the White House, and they don’t get to own it while their Secretary of Education is trying to make it harder to victims of assault on college campuses to report and sustain charges against their attackers.

Republicans don’t have the high ground while they make it more difficult for women to control what happens to their own bodies.  Please, don’t try to convince me that you have women’s interests at heart while removing contraceptive prescriptions from mandatory health insurance coverage.  Don’t tell me you care about women’s health while passing some inane bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, especially not when reputable scientific reports indicate there’s no “pain” until at least after 29 weeks, and your evidence to the contrary is spurious at best.   We know why late term abortions happen, either the woman couldn’t get access to abortion services earlier because of unavailability or logistics, or there were serious complications which could be lethal for the fetus, the mother, or both.  [Gutt]

Spare me the rhetoric while Republicans can find every dubious argument under the sun why women don’t deserve to be paid the same as men for the same work.  Thank you, I’d already heard that claptrap back in the ’60s when I was told “men had to support the family,” and other, equally risible bits of self-serving chatter.  One of my favorite examples of the latter being “it’ll just open the way for frivolous lawsuits,” — yes, and now explain to me how a suit brought to gain equal pay for equal work is “frivolous?”  But, but, but, there will be thousands of them!  Thus admitting that the practice is general, and if that’s the case then there shouldn’t be thousands of cases, there probably ought to be millions.

So, spare me you Righteous Republican faux outrage. Spare me your pontification.  Spare me your indignation and alarm until you have called for all the women who have alleged sexual misconduct on the part of your standard bearer in the Oval Office to be acknowledged and recompensed.  Until then: STFU.

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Filed under abortion, domestic abuse, feminism, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

It’s Always About the Girls?

ESPN’s Jemele Hill posts her truth:  Donald Trump is a white supremacist.  What do we get from the lectern in the White House? This is a “fire-able offense.”  Hillary Clinton goes on her book tour.  What do we get?  She’s blaming every one but herself — when in fact she admits some 35 mistakes for which she took responsibility.  What does the occupant of the White House do?  He re-tweets a bit of anti-Semitic commentary with a GIF of Hillary Clinton being hit with a golf ball.  It would be tempting to oversimplify this, but there is a pattern:  Women being hit, women being fired, or women being otherwise assaulted or attacked is acceptable. There’s a word for this — misogynist.

These would be part of the background noise associated with the current administration, except that the misogyny is part of the administration’s policy, witness the Department of Education’s reversal of Title IX protections for those who report campus assaults.

“Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this latest undermining of survivors’ rights is taking place under the administration of a president who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. An administration in which the acting assistant secretary of education for civil rights, Candice Jackson, suggested, in July (she later apologized), that for “90 percent” of campus sexual assault allegations the complainants regretted having sex, but weren’t actually sexually assaulted.” [WaPo]

So, are we surprised that the Department of Education is dialing back the protections for assault survivors on college campuses?  If we are we shouldn’t be.  The signals have been there all along.

We couldn’t really miss the images of the President barging ahead out of a vehicle, leaving his wife to exit on her own, or the images of him climbing the steps to Air Force One again leaving his wife to mount the stairs without assistance.  Or, images of him holding the umbrella over his own head, leaving his wife to stride in his wake perhaps hoping to get some protection from the rain.  If he will treat his wife with this casual disregard, what can we expect of his attitude toward women he doesn’t know?  Why would we be surprised if he tweets a GIF showing a woman being hit by a golf ball?

So, what do Jemele Hill and Hillary Clinton have in common?  One’s black, the other is white.  One is an experienced politician, the other is a sportscaster and analyst.  One was born in 1975, the other married Bill Clinton in 1975.  One attended Michigan State University, the other attended Wellesley.  What makes them targets from the White House lectern?  They are women.

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I am getting truly tired of concern trolling: Women’s Day Edition

Yes, ladies you had a fine day. It was International Women’s Day and lots of women did lots of constructive things, and needless to say, while they were doing them the concern trolls were out again. I’ll not name them, they know who they are…

I was told by one pundit on my television this morning that there was a danger of the “resistance” burning out from so many marches and things. Oh, really?  Burn out? Tell that to some women who put in a full 8 to 10 hours of work, come home, do the housework, fix the meals, do the shopping, and make time to hit the streets.  Tell that to women who can make appointments for the kids’ dental exams while fixing lunch and finding the socks that didn’t emerge from the dryer, all in the same 15 minutes.

Tell that to women who work, and know that they are making somewhere between $0.15 and $0.35 less than men for the same job.  Tell that to mothers who know that their kids need the local public schools.  Tell that to grandmothers who remember when the Cuyahoga River caught fire without being reminded by the opening scene of Major League, and don’t want that environment for their grandchildren. Tell that to the aunts of gay and lesbian nephews and nieces, whom they love without reservation and support without conditions.  Tell that to the women who gather for coffee with friends who are Hispanic,  who fear for their relatives and loved ones.  Tell that to Jewish women concerned for the safety of the graves of their elders, the Muslim women who fear for the safety of their children, and the Sikhs who fear for the safety of their community.  Burn out? These women are just lighting the tinder.

If this weren’t patronizing (do I want to use the word ‘condescending?’) enough, the boo-birds from the Occupy moments are back.  It’s OK to be “intersectional” just don’t talk about it so much.  Huh?  I get the part where the leadership should just DO it, but talking is part of the process, and women do like to talk things out.  If that offends male ears, so be it, but don’t disparage efforts to combine efforts and find common grounds for activities.

And, then there’s the “don’t make busy work” argument.  It’s tangential to the Please Focus of the people who found fault with the Occupy people.  What’s the good, they ask, of having a thousand  post cards on a thousand different subjects?  Where to begin?

First, this resistance isn’t a carefully articulated and organized Madison Avenue campaign for a new laundry detergent, and shouldn’t be treated as such. It certainly shouldn’t be evaluated that way.    What’s the matter with having a thousand post cards sent by individuals who have never before engaged with their Representatives and Senators?  That’s a thousand little pieces of contact that weren’t happening before. The more phone calls, letters, and post cards, the less often Senator Sludgepump and Representative Bilgewater can say “I haven’t heard from anyone in my state (district) about this subject.”

Secondly, this argument disparages the efforts of those who are not political professionals. Yes, it would be nice to have a single issue, like George W. Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security, to address. However, this mis-administration is different. It’s not just the assault of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; it’s a full on attack on environmental protection regulations, on immigrants and their families, on Muslims and their neighbors, on consumer protections, on financial reform legislation, on the rights of labor and working people, on the pensions and health benefits of coal miners, on the neutrality of Internet services…

And, there are those whose circumstances are such that phone calls, letters, and post cards are what they CAN do. Given the seriousness of the assault on American institutions, values, and government, it’s all hands on deck.  Everyone doing what they can when they can, and taking a break every now and then to let someone else run with the baton for a lap.

When politicians focused on signal issues — like Social Security — it was relatively easy to target campaign promises and compare them to delivery.  The current political situation is more properly compared to the ducks on the shooting gallery tracks, forever emerging, forever repeating themselves, forever streaming past; aiming at a single one means the next dozen are missed.  The administration, and its allies in Congress, need to know that every attempt to degrade the values of this country, to dismantle the social safety nets that secure us, will be met with resistance.

The process of comparing campaign policies to governance policy is slowly becoming more clear.  For example, it’s becoming ever more obvious that The Wall, is morphing into a fence, and the fence into fiscal insanity.  What does it do for security to spend money on a highly questionable wall while slashing the budgets for the Coast Guard, and the TSA? What does it do for national security to issue unconstitutional executive order after unconstitutional executive order establishing a Muslim ban?   There’s another issue that will solidify with time.

Jobs, jobs, jobs, and no jobs. A national right to work bill is not in the interest of any worker anywhere in this country, but the Republicans will push it through if they can. It’s all well and good to talk about Buy American, but that sounds a bit hollow considering there are pictures of Russian steel being unloaded recently on New Jersey docks. The parsing was pathetic — pipelines built with American steel became pipelines built with steel already contracted from the Russians.  Making lovely announcements about infrastructure projects are soothing to the ears until we get to the part wherein it’s new construction, with copious benefits for the financiers and not so many for the workers on the projects. Then, “I love coal,” doesn’t quite cover inaction on health benefits for retired miners whose pension funds are running out.

Affordable health care insurance?  Coverage for everyone becomes coverage for those who can afford it? Or, it’s nice to have access, but if a person can’t afford a policy covering personal and family needs access is perfectly meaningless. Remember, the promise was that premium costs would go down, but the average premium increase under the ACA including the outlier in Arizona was a 23% average increase; now the GOP is promising a 30% increase and calling it an improvement!

These, and other issues will solidify into more attractive targets, but it will take some time for the accretion to establish itself.  There will be time for focused attacks, and by then a wonderful horde of newly energized resistance ‘fighters’ will be used to making phone calls, writing letters and postcards, attending protests, going to town halls, and organizing social events for political purposes.  Politics, it is to be hoped, will no longer be a spectator sport.  Perhaps it’s time for the pundits to, as the saying goes, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

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Filed under Politics, Republicans, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights