Category Archives: Women’s Issues

Party of Sexual Predator Protectors?

Okay, so when did the Grand Old Party, the Republican Party, become the party of sexual predator protection?  There was the Access Hollywood tape… gee, that was just “lock room talk.” “Boys will be boys.”  Women came forward, but the GOP marched on to an electoral college victory.  The President stands credibly accused by a former Playboy model, a porn star/director, and others.  What’s the expression? “A fish rots from the head down.”  The Republicans stood by him.

Roy Moore wanted a seat in the US Senate.  Republicans supported him… in the face of credible accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.  Moore lost, to the credit of the citizens of Alabama who didn’t buy into the idea that the man is always right, the woman is always hysterical (and wrong), and it’s not “right” to ruin a man’s reputation — even if the man did a banner job of wrecking the woman’s life and reputation.

Where was Rep. Jim Jordan’s attention when members of the wrestling team at OSU were being assaulted?  He didn’t know?  How do assistant coaches — those who are actually the closest to team members — not know?  How do they not report what they know or suspect?  Did he not care enough to investigate rumors? Check on what team members were saying?  Where are the Republicans?  Where are the calls for a full investigation in addition to the one conducted by the university?

Former Congressman Blake Farenthold said he was going to pay $84,000 in a sexual harassment settlement; he ultimately decided to pay — absolutely nothing.  Nothing.  Where are his fellow Republicans calling for him to live up to his agreement?  Crickets. Silence.  There is no reason to believe the Republicans will do anything to rectify this situation.

And here in Nevada — Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro was the subject of investigations for sexual misconduct.  AG Adam Laxalt decided not to press any charges, and accepted Antinoro’s endorsement in the gubernatorial race.   From the Republicans? More crickets…silence…acceptance…a willingness to look away, to let boys be boys, to dismiss locker room talk, to set the lowest bar possible for men’s conduct.  No accountability.  No responsibility.  No consequences.

So, when did the GOP become the party protecting the likes of Brett Kavanaugh? When did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell know there were more than just the one allegation of sexual misconduct facing Kavanaugh?  Were the Republicans shoving the confirmation vote in order to get Kavanaugh (Trump’s Get Out Of Jail Free Card) on the bench before more women came forward with their stories?

Enough!  Contrary to what some Republicans have tried to tell me via my television screen, most high school boys (both back in the Jurassic Era during my attendance and today) are not sexual predators in training — or practice.  Some are, but that’s why these cases are “news” — they are not the standard, or even the most common practice.  Yes, there are employers who are guilty of sexual misconduct — an inordinate number of whom seem to have served on the Republican National Committee finance arm — but, this is not the norm.  These examples are outside the bounds of acceptable conduct, and they should be seen as such.

Register.  Help others register.  Check your registration.  Help others check their registration.

Vote.  Help your friends and neighbors get to their polling stations.

There is no other antidote to political corruption than voting. Good old fashioned voting. Good old fashioned American citizens voting, and facing down the Russian bots behind the “walk away” movement or other cynical attempts to depress the vote.

VOTE like your right to vote depends on it.

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

President Cheapskate and the Amazing Non-Appearing Wedding Gift

One can only hope the gift is “in the mail” as we speak, but I am definitely not going to hold my breath.  As we might expect, the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Sussex ask for charitable donations in lieu of wedding gifts.  Some national leaders donated to local charities promoting causes related to the young people’s interests, others were more creative, and some responses were just heartwarming —  an abused Indian bull rescued, a couple of namesake koalas in an animal shelter with accompanying donations for habitat maintenance, and so on.  And, then there was Donald J. Trump:

“White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters said last week the Trumps will make a contribution to one of the seven charities on the royal couple’s list but did not specify which one. Neither Trump tweeted about the wedding.”  [USAT]

We’ve seen this movie before — and thanks to the intrepid reporting of David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post, we know that ‘the movie’ is an entire series, with more versions than Star Wars and Planet of the Apes combined.   So, the contribution will be made to “one of the seven charities.”  Which one?

“The couple have chosen charities, which represent a range of issues that they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces. Many of these are small charities and the couple are pleased to be able to amplify and shine a light on their work.” [eonline]

Sport for social change? How likely is it that Trump will donate to a sport for social change charity while he’s busy vilifying professional athletes who are protesting police brutality toward ethnic minorities?  Women’s empowerment?  A donation from a man who has at least 16 public allegations of unwanted sexual conduct against him? Who faces legal actions from Summer Zervos and Stephanie Clifford?

Conservation?  A donation from the father of two trophy animal slaughtering sons? A man whose administration allows the hunting of hibernating bears and their cubs? Allows the killing of vulnerable animals swimming in Alaskan rivers? Who allows the killing of wolf cubs?  Probably not.

The environment?  A donation from the man who won’t fire the egregious Scott Pruitt from his well protected perch at the EPA? From the man who promotes pipelines across sacred lands? From the self-same person who wants to roll back fuel efficiency standards?

Homelessness?  A donation from a man whose administration is cutting funding for programs to help homeless people? [Newsweek]  Whose administration is on track to make the situation worse? [WaPo]  Not much chance for this category to make the cut.

HIV?  Remember the interview with Bill Gates who describes two meetings with the President:

“Both times he wanted to know the difference between HIV and HPV and so I was able to explain that those are things that are rarely confused with each other.” [NBC]

Gates is being entirely too kind,  almost NO ONE confuses the two diseases.  Most people who don’t know, understand the difference when it’s explained ONCE.

Armed Forces?  “Cadet Bone Spurs™”  As he was so aptly described by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) seems content to lie to newly minted Navy officers about pay increases [MilTimes] and to insure there’s funding for his parade.  Other military and veterans’ issues not so much.

In addition to his endemic lack of interest in social change, empowerment, ecological, and real military issues Fahrenthold’s discoveries should be kept in mind.  Trump will make grand promises.  He will then:

  1. Try to get someone else to come up with the coin of the realm to actually pay for the donation.
  2. Try to avoid payment until there’s so much publicity he can’t stand the spotlight any longer.
  3. Stall until he doesn’t have to actually pay up at all.

Therefore, the best unsolicited advice for the young Duke and Duchess might be to enjoy their honeymoon and not worry about whether the ersatz leader of the US political system will cough up for a wedding gift donation — he probably won’t, and if he does you can be just as amazed as the rest of us.

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Filed under conservatism, ecology, homelessness, housing, Politics, troop pay, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

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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Filed under Politics, Women's Issues

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