Tag Archives: VAWA

Dean’s Back In My Mailbox: Sweet Children Edition

I’m starting to develop a theory concerning politicians, photographs, and pro-family policies.  The theory is congealing along this line:  The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.

Case in point:  Dean Heller’s latest addition to the contents of my mailbox.

This latest contribution is a flyer with nice photos of Senator Heller (R-NV) and lots of nicely clad, well groomed children, all looking familial. Very familial.  So, it’s no surprise that the “content” portion of the campaign piece highlights domestic violence; pregnant workers; veterans; and sexual assault survivors.

Lest I become too excited at the prospect of Heller as a prime champion of these causes, it’s time for a bit of context.

About those domestic violence survivors…  According to Heller, Heller “broke with his party” to pass the Violence Against Women Act.  If we are discussing the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012, then Senator Heller wasn’t exactly the first to line up:

“Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reached a critical point Tuesday, as Nevada Republican Dean Heller became the 60th Senator to cosponsor the legislation.  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was introduced in November by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

“The Violence Against Women Act has always been, and continues to be, a bipartisan priority,” said Leahy.  “I am grateful that Senator Heller has joined as a cosponsor of this important bill.  Every victim of violence deserves to access the resources available through VAWA.  Congress should act, without delay, to approve this commonsense legislation.” [IndLaw]

Thus, Senator Heller wasn’t among the first co-sponsors of S. 1925 in 2012, he was more like the 60th, and he voted in favor of the bill’s Senate passage along with 15 other Senate Republicans.  Fast forward to 2018 and the VAWA is about to expire in the summer months.  Indeed, it is due to expire in September 2018. There are 12 bills related, one directly others tangentially, to the VAWA in the 115th Congress, all have about a 3% chance of passage.   HR 6545, the reauthorization for 2018 has about a 7% chance of passage  However, Senator Heller is shown in the pictures with lots of nice looking children.

Pregnant workers... I like the title “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”  Although are there any other kinds of pregnant workers than women?  Senator Heller says he is working with his colleagues in the Senate on this one, specifically that would be Senator Casey (D-PA) the sponsor of S 1101.   The bill has two co-sponsors (Shaheen and Heller) and a 3% chance of passage.   Not to put too fine a point to it, but I’m not wagering any portion of my piggy bank contents on this one getting past the committee stage. Senator Heller is shown with several well scrubbed kiddies in the flyer.

America’s Veterans...  by Senator Heller’s lights he’s helped over 15k veterans with their issues, however we don’t know, for example, how many of these are directly related to issues with the VA; how many are directly related to health issues? Housing issues? Educational benefits issues? Other issues? Nor do we know when the count started, are we speaking of the last year or for every year Senator Heller has spent in D.C?  He’s also claiming “leadership” in resolving VA backlog issues, but then so is every other member of Congress.  The jury’s out on this one, but the Senator is shown with children in a nice sylvan setting.

Sexual Assault Survivors...  Republicans seem intent on talking about that rape kit testing backlog and I’m all for that. Both paring down that backlog and talking about it.  However, I’d be happier still if more Republicans would start talking about preventing sexual assault in the first place.  I’m not hearing all I’d like about making reporting instances of assault and molestation easier on the victims.  Nor am I hearing as much as I’d prefer about extending the statute of limitations on assault, molestation, and harassment, for the perpetrators of these crimes.  And then…there’s the not-so-small-matter of getting firearms out of the mitts of domestic abusers.  Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a gun.  Not only are spouses and ex-spouses abused, but if the situation escalates then the lethality increases five-fold.  There are lots of children in that sylvan setting with Senator Heller.  What has Senator Heller done to make life safer for the children who aren’t in the photograph?

Then there’s the  unspoken part … Planned Parenthood … which Senator Heller would have us “defund.”

Does he know that if a woman doesn’t have medical insurance she can receive low cost or free pre-natal care at a Planned Parenthood facility?  Does he realize that Planned Parenthood can help women find affordable health insurance so their children can get off to a good start?  Does he understand that Planned Parenthood also supports post partum care?  There are some profoundly good reasons for a woman to have a post partum check up and for the infant to get his or her check ups too.  Perhaps we could have fewer glossy photos and more attention to providing medical services for more women and their children?

And now I’ll search for more data with regard to my developing theory: The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Health Care, Heller, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

Politicians Playing Doctor: There’s a difference between pro-life and pro-birth

Pro Life

Indeed, we do need a broader, deeper, national conversation about what being ‘pro-life” actually means.  Unfortunately, in the constricted world of some activists, the term is simply a political buzz word for “anti-abortion.”

The buzz words are back as some Republican candidates woo their evangelical base with “pro-life” legislative proposals, such as Senator Lindsay Graham’s reintroduction of his “20 week abortion” ban bill in the U.S. Senate. [HuffPo]

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which the House passed earlier this year, bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life is in danger or she is a victim of rape or incest. The bill is based on the disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  Abortions after 20 weeks are very rare and women often make the decision to end a pregnancy at that point after discovering a severe fetal anomaly that could not be detected earlier. Graham’s bill has no exception for those situations.” [HuffPo]

The first problem with Senator Graham’s proposal is that it really doesn’t address the issue of abortion directly – 98.5% of abortions occur before the 20 weeks expire. Further, Senator Graham’s proposal would prevent the termination of a pregnancy in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, or in instances of incest and rape.  For all practical purposes, Senator Graham’s bill doesn’t outlaw abortions, it merely makes them more inconvenient – and a challenge to his proposed law (if enacted) would allow for a possible reversal of Roe v. Wade.  Which, we’d might expect is what the Pro-Birth advocates want in the first place.  If we were truly Pro-Child we’d take some other elements into consideration.

Medical Issues

If we are going to extend the moral argument, as Sister Joan Chittester suggests, then we do need to take those “severe fetal anomalies” under advisement.   How do we address a potential “life” for a fetus which is developing without kidneys, without a bladder, and with no prospect for lung development? [HuffPo]  The condition is known as Potter’s Syndrome, “There has not yet been a BRA baby (no kidneys, no ureters and which also has pulmonary hypoplasia) that has been reported to survive more than a few days past birth.” [PS.org]  Bless them, there are geneticists and other researchers working to pinpoint the causes and perhaps find ways to discover how to eventually eliminate this condition, but for now parents are faced with the possibility of carrying to term a fetus which will survive only a few days. Where’s the reduction of pain in that?

Potter’s Syndrome, and some other fetal anomalies may only be discovered after the 20 week “ban” because “the ideal time to perform the second trimester ultrasound is between 20-22 weeks. While ultrasounds administered prior to 20 weeks are generally adequate to assess major organ systems, they fail to detect major cardiac, skeletal, and craniofacial anomalies, particularly those that are lethal to the fetus.” [SciPro] (emphasis added)

“Of particular concern are two classes of fetal anomalies that cannot be detected early in a pregnancy. First are the variable-onset fetal anomalies. These anomalies begin at variable gestational ages but are often detected beyond 20 weeks. Second are the late-onset anomalies that develop late in the gestational age of the fetus, typically in the second or third trimester, or are undetectable until the abnormality is at the end-point of a pregnancy. Importantly, the 20-week bans passing across the states generally do not include exceptions for lethal fetal anomalies, meaning women are forced to carry fetuses with anomalies to term, regardless of viability.”  [SciPro]

The only thing that may occur for certain if 20 week bans are enacted is that more families will have to endure the tragedies of anencephaly (absence of the brain above the base of the skull); renal agenesis (kidneys fail to develop); limb-body wall complex (organs develop outside the body); neural tube defects (protrusion of brain tissue through the skull or severe hydrocephaly); meningomyelocele  (openings in the vertebrae); caudal regression syndrome; lethal skeletal dysplasias (leading to respiratory failure).   These aren’t the kind of birth defects which lead to disabilities, in their severe forms they are simply and horribly lethal.

Where in Senator Graham’s bill are the funds to assist families who have to face the bills for a complicated and often tragic birth?  Where in the Senator’s bill are the funds for further research on fatal fetal anomalies and their possible causation?   If the bill is truly “pro-life” then where are the suggested appropriations for medical research?  Why hasn’t the House of Representatives, the body in which appropriations must be introduced, addressed research needs for those studying fetal anomalies?

Social Issues

If the issues aren’t medical they’re social, and we know what those are.

“Most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous.” [Guttmacher]

Raising children alone.”  And, how are we going to assist women who are single parents?  By cutting the funding for SNAP benefits? (food stamps) By turning the SNAP program into a block grant unit which can be further reduced at the whim of a stingy Congress?  By a Congress much more willing to subsidize the oil and gas giants, or the military manufacturers, than to offer help to a struggling mother.  By telling a single mother to “get her life together and find a husband?” [Bush 1994]  If we truly want to have fewer abortions, then the obvious thing to do is to remove the barriers to having children – including the economic ones.  Would it help the single mother if we decided that women should have equal pay if they are doing the same job as a man?

Depressed or using illicit substances.”  Again, if we want to reduce the number of abortions, how about increasing the access to mental health programs and treatment?   Where’s the funding for mental health clinics, for out-patient services, for in-patient services? For any mental health services?

We know that by 2012 state mental health services budgets had been pared to the bone.  [TP]  By 2011, the Kaiser Foundation was reporting that 60% of adults and 70% of children with diagnosable mental health issues were not receiving the treatment they needed.  Again, it’s one thing to vigorously announce one’s pro-life stance, and another to advocate for additional funds to support the mental health services which might make all the difference in the world to a woman who might otherwise seek an abortion.

Using illicit substances? Once more: Where is the advocacy for more drug treatment programs?  Where is the advocacy for making drug treatment programs more readily available to lower income women whose addictions endanger their pregnancies?   Do I hear crickets?

“…in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence.”  Have a look at the map, did your representative in Congress vote against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act?  Of the 160 Republican members of Congress who voted against the re-authorization of the law, we find the names of some who were also sponsors of Graham’s original S. 1670 abortion ban bill.  Who sponsored Graham’s  bill but voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act?   Answer: Senators Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, John Thune, John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, Tim Scott, Orrin Hatch, Charles Grassley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Roberts,  James Inhofe, Mike Johanns, John Boozman, James Risch, Tom Coburn, Ron Johnson, Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.  (Presidential candidates underlined)

How, exactly, does it make any sense at all to sponsor legislation to outlaw later term abortions while voting against a bill which sought to alleviate one of the five primary reasons women were seeking an abortion in the first place?

“…had trouble deciding and then had access problems.”   This seems to be the point of the anti-abortionists.  Legislate bans on later term abortions while enacting state laws closing down medical facilities which provide abortion services.  Perhaps it has not occurred to the Senators that lower income women may have trouble gathering the financial resources to get an abortion, and by the time they do – the clock’s run out on them. If simply “attending” to the possible pain of fetus (and that’s certainly debatable) is the reason for the bill – then the obvious way to solve the problem is to make it easier for a woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy earlier.  Obviously, that’s not the point.   The idea is to prevent the abortion – so, now we ought to address Sister Joan’s contentions – Where’s the funding for the nutrition, for the education, for the housing, for the day care, for the CHILD?

“…were young and nulliparous”  Nulliparous, fellows, is the term for a woman who has never before borne a child.   Morning sickness isn’t the only early signal – there’s shortness of breath, sore breasts, a need for a nap, shifts in the sense of smell, mood swings, and hunger.  How many young women who’ve never been pregnant before can put all the signals together? And, how many don’t have the necessary information from parents or from sex education or health classes to put the signals into a coherent pattern?  It’s entirely possible that a pregnant teen would miss the signals until “it’s too late.” Please spare me the sermonizing; abstinence only classes aren’t going to help the kids figure out what’s going on.  If a person wants to be pro-life, then it would behoove the individual to advocate for health education which addresses just when “life” is about to sprout.

Pro-Life Pro-Birth

Those who wave their Pro-Life signs won’t convince me the signs mean anything more than a call for politicians to enact anti-abortion bills unless, and until, those signs are accompanied by an equal effort to insure that every child is adequately fed, securely housed, cared for while parents work, attending a quality pre-school program, attending a well resourced school, clothed appropriately for the season, receiving needed medical, dental, hearing, and vision services.   That’s Pro-Life; the ideological and judgmental anti-abortion crowd is merely Pro-Birth. Please adjust your signage accordingly.

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

The Little Woman Speaks

Woman's ListIt’s really tempting to say “Please Proceed” every time a Republican politician speaks “to women.”  The latest wrinkle seems to be an effort to convince women that the GOP is just All For ‘Em, except when they have normal sexual drives and want to enjoy the intimacy of marriage without the possibility of having more children than the family finances can afford.   Unfortunately, the latest Republican adventure into the distaff side comes with a side of over-baked insinuation that masculinity is defined by the number of progeny a man can create.   The days ought to be  long gone when the boys in the backroom would marvel at the virility of a man who announced he fathered ___ number of children.

We had one of those characters in the hamlet once upon a time.  His prideful pronouncements were greeted politely, but in his absence there was more conversation about how the store-owner had to extend him credit every month, his employer had to provide more advances than with any other employee, and his neighbors were often called upon to literally put clothing on his children’s backs.   If the GOP would truly like to address issues of interest to women, then they’d be better served by speaking to the issues of importance to women and not to those burdened by irrational definitions of masculinity.  For example:

Paycheck Fairness Act – Filibustered by Senate Republicans in 2010 and 2012. [Roll call 115]  The House version (H.R. 377) was introduced on January 23, 2013 and sent to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, no action has been taken on the bill since.  The Senate version (S.84) was also introduced on January 23, 2013. It was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Violence Against Women Act – Renewal died in the House in 2012, eventually renewed in 2013 in spite of 138 “no” votes by Republicans in the House of Representatives and 22 “no” votes cast by Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Legislation to mandate pre-abortion ultrasound examinations  – (2011) legislators in 13 states have introduced 22 bills seeking to mandate that a woman obtain an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. Bills in seven states (AL, IN, KY, MT, OH, RI and TX) are very similar to a law enacted last year in Oklahoma that requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound procedure, view the image and receive a verbal description of the fetus

Revision of sex education laws to require school districts provide abstinence-only sex education, while allowing a discussion of contraception only with prior approval from state authorities – MS

Limit abortion coverage in all private health care insurance plans – (2011) Legislators in 11 states (AL, IN, KS, MI, NE, OK, OR, SC, TX, UT and WV) have introduced 18 measures that would restrict abortion coverage under all private health insurance plans. So far this year, one measure has been adopted by a legislative chamber in South Carolina and one has been enacted in Utah.

Require state health departments to develop new and restrictive regulations of women’s clinics – UT, VA

Place gestational limits on legal abortions – NE, KS, introduced in AL, AR, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KY, MD, MS, NJ, NM, OK, OR, SC.  The “20 week limit” was a popular idea in 35 measures patterned after the restrictive Nebraska bill.

Re-introduce child labor into the American workforce – Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution despite the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1941 (United States v. Darby Lumber). (A similar movement is underway in Missouri where State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R) has introduced a bill [S.B. 222] to minimize child labor laws) The governor of Maine has recently expressed his interest in rolling back that state’s child labor laws.

Cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014.

Cuts to Headstart funding – “about 57,000 children will be denied a place in Head Start and Early Head Start as fallout from sequestration. [link]

Cuts to funding for Meals on Wheels for the elderly – Federal funding for Meals on Wheels and related nutrition services accounted for 0.02% of the U.S. budget last year. This year, the programs will have to do with roughly $38.7 million less because of the so-called sequester, which requires uniform cuts across programs regardless of cost-effectiveness. (Sequester)  New estimates about the automatic budget cuts were released Monday by the federal government. The cuts have slashed over $400 million from the federal program’s $8 billion budget.” (Sequester) [CNN]

For more on  anti-woman legislation see Guttmacher.Org and Politicususa. See also, CBPP. On the Paycheck Fairness Act, see Berkeley DP, Huffington Post.


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

Amodei votes for GOP version of VAWA

Amodei 3Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) was the sole member of the Nevada Congressional delegation to vote in favor of the McMorris-Rodgers substitute for the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act. [Roll Call 54] In doing so, Amodei was the only Nevadan to vote in favor of removing protections for Native American women, and extending protection to persons in gay or lesbian relationships.   Other Nevada Representatives, Horsford, Heck, Titus, voted against the GOP version of the bill.

Representative Amodei changed his vote to ‘yes’ on the second vote of the day, Roll Call 55, to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act. (Senate Version)  However, any attempt by Representative Amodei to later claim “I voted For VAWA,” should be tempered by the knowledge that his initial vote was squarely in line with the Tenther, or radical portion of the GOP which couldn’t find it necessary to extend the protection of the act to ALL individuals in the U.S. in domestic relationships.

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Filed under Amodei, Nevada politics

Sequester This: The Impact in Nevada, Cut Women And Children First

Deficits Don't MatterYesterday’s post was theoretical — that which decreases aggregate demand will reduce our national Gross Domestic Product.  Today the White House has released what the impact of the sequestration would be specifically in Nevada, and it’s not pretty.


Nevada’s not been known for its generosity with its K-12 education funding. The information obtained from the 2010 Census shows Nevada spending approximately $8,422 per student, while the national average stands at $10,499.  [Census pdf] [LVSun 2011]  Sequestration makes this situation worse.

“Nevada will lose approximately $9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 120 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 14,000  fewer students would be served and approximately 10 fewer schools would receive funding.”  [Nevada pdf] (emphasis added)

In the real world, the average teacher aide in Clark County salary is reported as $20,378.  [salary.com] Average teacher pay is reported as approximately $51,777  annually. [RGJ factchecker]  Of the $9 billion lost to state and local funding for K-12 education in Nevada, if we lose 120 teachers and aides the loss to local economies could range from $2,520,000 (if all the losses were aides) to $6,240,000 (if all the losses were teachers at state average pay.)  If we arbitrarily take the half way point, (half losses of aide jobs plus half losses in teacher jobs) then Nevada stands to lose about $4,380,000 in consumer spending as a result of the sequestration cuts.  Less spent for housing, groceries, clothing, utilities, medical needs, transportation, etc.  What this state doesn’t need as it struggles out of the Housing Bubble/Wall Street Wizard Mess Recession is a significant decrease in disposable income for consumer spending.   And we haven’t even gotten to the part wherein 10 schools would face cuts, and 14,000 fewer students would be provided with federally supported services.  It gets worse:

“In addition, Nevada will lose approximately $3.8 million in funds for about 50 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.” [Nevada pdf]

Those would be Special Education funds. There’s no way to say it other than to observe that special education services are labor intensive.  The services are labor intensive by definition, by the terms of Individualized Educational Plans, by the needs of children who are physically or mentally incapable of performing some tasks without personal assistance.  This, perhaps more than any other example, illustrates the problems with across the board cuts without analyzing priorities.  How is it preferable to cut services for the most vulnerable children among us in order to preserve subsidies for oil and energy companies?

“Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 300 children in Nevada, reducing access to critical early education.”  [Nevada pdf]

This would be sorry enough were it not for the following unfortunate fact: “13% of Nevada’s eligible children are currently being served, leaving about 87% in need of services.”  [NHStart] That’s right, 13% of Nevada children who are eligible for Head Start  are NOW served — that’s an under-service rate of 87% and the sequestration would cut the number of children served even further.   How could the Obama Administration “over hype” the significance of additional cuts to a program that’s already struggling in Nevada.  To this, the Republicans say that “there will be no more revenue,” i.e. “We will not cut loopholes for corporate jets, corporate subsidies, yachts, and accounting tricks for overseas operations?”


“In Nevada around 1,150 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $78,000.” [Nevada pdf]

Here we go again.  We’re already in a hole and the sequestration would simple exacerbate the situation, things had been improving:

The Nevada Health Division says Nevada ranked 40th in the nation last year for vaccine coverage in children between the ages of 19 months to 35 months. That’s up from 51st in 2010.” [KTNV]  So, in 2011 we’d moved up from 51st in the states and territories ranked in terms of childhood vaccinations to 40th, and in 2013 we can expect to revert to lower climes?  However, it’s not just kids:

Nevada will lose approximately $258,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Nevada will lose about $690,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 500 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Nevada State Department of Health/Human Services will lose about $123,000 resulting in around 3,100 fewer HIV tests. [Nevada pdf]

What could possibly go wrong?  Hepatitis C infections? Lower substance abuse treatment levels? Fewer HIV tests?


“Nevada could lose up to $57,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 200 fewer victims being served.” [Nevada pdf]

It’s ridiculous enough that the House Republicans have a substitute bill for VAWA which denigrates tribal courts and refuses services to gay and lesbian couples, and ignores abuses perpetrated on immigrant women, but to cut funding for services and shelters to abused spouses and children is beyond the pale.

A complete list of sequestration effects in Nevada can be found here, as a pdf document.

So, Why Are We Doing This?

Is it because the terrible horrible deficit demonstrates a nation at risk of bankruptcy? Is it because our “out of control” spending is taking an increasing portion of our GDP?   The truth of the matter in one chart:

Deficit Share GCP

To see the President’s proposal, including his last offer to House Speaker John Boehner, click here

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Filed under Appropriations, conservatism, Economy, nevada education, nevada health, Politics, Women's Issues

Late Night Recommended Reading Roundup

Newspapers glassesThe Nevada Progressive connects the dots in “The Secretive Climate Denial Campaign in Our Backyard.”  The AFP connected to the NPRI, the NPRI connected to the Tea Party, the Tea Party connected to the Republicans, now hear the Words of the Koch Brothers!  Highly recommended reading.

Stay tuned to the Sin City Siren for information about the upcoming Las Vegas, NV hate crime event.  Calendar marking information for those in the area here.

Talk about a business tax is waning in the Nevada Legislature; In case you missed it,  The Nevada View has a good summary, complete with a must see chart on taxation in the Silver State.  Buzzlzarownd discusses tax topics in the current session of the Assembled Wisdom.

L’Affaire Brooks  is covered in the Nevada State Employee Focus blog, and there’s more from Steve Sebelius at Slash/Politics.

Yes, there’s a big difference between deficit and indebtedness, and the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus blog makes this clear while providing some ammunition with which to push back against the Republican’s Tocsin in regard to the Great Big Horrible Debt Which Will Consume Us Faster Than An A Speeding Meteor… or something.

Speaking of Things Financial:  Begin with the post on Crooks and Liars  about the depredations of HSBC; then proceed to “Call the Waaambulance!” for C&L’s observations on the bankers’ pearl clutching fainting couch landing after being assaulted, I say Assaulted, by Massachusetts Senior Senator Warren.  The Huffington Post describes the whining from Wall Street. Now, read the New York Times article concerning the $35 million settlement agreed to by a mortgage firm that was involved in a six year scheme to prepare and file perhaps a million (or more?) fraudulently signed documents.   Unsettling huh?  If you aren’t sufficiently annoyed by the corporate cavorting over the U.S. tax system — read “The Loophole Lobby.”

What is it that scares Republicans even more than the thought of increasing the minimum wage?  Politicususa has the answer.   And, then there’s the Tennessee Congressional Representative, who during a nostalgic tale of How I Grew Up Self Sufficient Making The Minimum Wage inadvertently made the President’s point for him.  Oh, and by the way, back in the days of the Bush Administration there were 65 Republicans pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. Who’da thunk it.

Then they went on vacation — The Congress is on vacation — again — meanwhile the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization sits awaiting action in the House.  Meanwhile, a prosecutor in Detroit is spearheading efforts to tackle the huge backlog of untested rape kits in police storage.

No, radical gun enthusiasts — Chicago is NOT proof that reasonable controls on guns don’t work.  Look at the Chart.

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Filed under Politics

A Tenth of the Sense: VAWA and the Radicals

VAWACongressional opposition to the Violence Against Women Act comes clad in the patriarchal toga of a radical interpretation of the 10th Amendment.  The traditional Roman 20 feet of woolen cloth draped over the tunic is surely sufficient to cloak the misogyny which might be a factor for some members of the 113th Congress.  However,  it is now, and always has been a minority view and no amount of high flying rhetoric (or cable news air time) can make it more than what it’s always been — a convenient cover for “State’s Rights.”

The Tenthers found their pseudo-philosophy on Madisonian fragments. “Their basis for ignoring the plain language of the Constitution is a statement by James Madison that federal spending is only really permitted when it advances one of Congress’ other enumerated powers, such as by building a post office or funding a war.” [Prospect]  However, the Tenther’s philosophical underpinning breaks down almost immediately, in the provisions of the “enumerated powers” section of the Constitution itself.  The closing lines of Article I, Section 8 (the enumeration of powers) provide Congress with the power:

To make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the fore-going powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any Department or officer thereof.”

Mr. Madison may have wished for a State’s Rights emphasis in the Constitution, but he lost.  He may have wanted a founding document closer to the old Articles of Confederation, but his side did not prevail.   Further, when he did assume the Presidency of the United States whom did he appoint to the Supreme Court but Justice Story — a confirmed Hamiltonian Federalist.

If a secret decoder ring, tea leaves, crystal balls, and anachronistic projection aren’t enough to deconstruct the U.S. Constitution into a milk toast version of the Articles of Confederation, then what’s a Tenther to do?  There is an interesting crossing of ideas in the Tenther Theology — are they angry with “activist judges” who legislate from the bench — especially when they affirm provisions of the Violence Against Women Act — or do they want a Constitution so rigidly interpreted that neither Congress nor the Courts may legislate or confirm such legislation at all?

Government Shouldn’t Govern?

The Tenther Radicals make an assumption about governance which is profoundly antithetical to the notion of American progress.  If the legislation in question promotes privatization and individualism then it is Constitutional, if the legislation promotes the general welfare or secures common support for needs of significant categories of citizens then it is unconstitutional.   There are some significant historical examples to which we can refer.

Tenthers railed against the enactment of Social Security during the Depression as a “power grab” of the first water.  The transcripts of Senatorial debate are instructive, if somewhat tedious in detail, and illustrate the continuing discussion about the efficacy, efficiency, and constitutionality concerning this centerpiece of New Deal legislation.    Modern Tenthers seek to privatize the Social Security program under the rubric of “saving” it, or “strengthening” it, or “reforming” it.  However, each of the proposals actually set forth to accomplish this end result in Privatization.

Tenthers were appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.   The landmark modern civil rights case struck the Old South like lightning.  As Jim Crow Era laws were struck down, or legislated out of existence, the cry for State’s Rights (Tenth Amendment) increased.  The rallying cries may have changed from Segregation Now Segregation Forever, to No Affirmative Action; but, the voices are essentially the same.  Proscribed behavior, such as discriminating against people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community, has been reframed by white (and often male) dissenters to create a sense of victim-hood.   Thus, in the radical thinking of the Tenther camp if one is prevented from discriminating, or prevented from individual actions which could result in community harm, then the perpetrator becomes the erstwhile victim.

Victims and Victim-hood

The Tenthers have now reached toward the Violence Against Women Act and seek to fly their Over-reaching Power of Government banner against this statute.   It should be noted that the 2000 U.S. v. Morrison case to which they often refer, did rule against using the Commerce Clause as a foundation for VAWA, but left the essential features  of the legislation intact.   It is certainly better optics to argue against the VAWA authorization as “unconstitutional” as opposed to standing on the floor of the House or Senate maintaining that the Rule of Thumb (you can’t beat your wife with a piece of lumber of greater circumference than your thumb) should be the law of the land.  Here, again, we find the “victim-hood” revision.

“Claiming that the reauthorization would expand the definition of domestic violence to include “emotional distress,” Heritage declared that the “expansive and vague language will increase fraud and false allegations, for which there is no legal recourse.”

“Under VAWA, men effectively lose their constitutional rights to due process, presumption of innocence, equal treatment under the law, the right to a fair trial and to confront one’s accusers, the right to bear arms, and all custody/visitation rights,” the group wrote. “It is unprecedented, unnecessary and dangerous.” [TPM]

Lo, the poor wife beaters?  Those who psychologically damage their victims could be the “victims” of false allegations?  With no legal recourse?  In the instance of rape the best statistics indicate a false report rate of approximately 8%.  [Slate]  This is why we have prosecutors and trials.  Those instances in which the crime was not completed are classified as assaults, and those which are completed, but without substantiation or conviction aren’t counted.  Juries are the finders of fact. No fact. Probably no prosecution. No conviction.

What the Conservatives appear to be lamenting is not the false allegation, but the ramifications of being convicted of domestic violence.  Does anyone seriously believe that a man or woman who is convicted of an act of domestic violence should be able to “visit” the family he or she has just brutalized?  The statistics on gun violence add another layer:

“Although firearms are used in a relatively small percentage of domestic violence incidents, when a firearm is present, domestic violence can and all too often does turn into domestic homicide. Congress, recognizing the unique and deadly role firearms play in domestic violence passed the Protective Order Gun Ban in 1994. The law prohibits gun possession by a person against whom there is a restraining or protective order for domestic violence. In 1996, Congress passed the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Gun Ban, which prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or child abuse from purchasing or possessing a gun.” [VPC]

If one has already threatened the family with a baseball bat, knife, or other any other weapon — are the conservatives arguing that the person should have the “right” to escalate the violence by adding in a few firearms?

Another conservative outlet, Freedom Works lamented:

“The newest version of the VAWA, S.47, contains very vague and broad definitions of domestic violence,” the organization wrote. “A man that raises his voice at his partner, calls her an offensive name, stalks her, causes her any emotional distress, or simply just annoys her can potentially be prosecuted under the VAWA. Calling your spouse a mean name is not advised or polite, but it isn’t the same thing as violence towards her.”

Really?  What would we call a person who shouts vile epithets at a partner every day for a year? A person who uses offensive language, especially in front of children, at top voice (or drunken slur) for weeks on end is “impolite?”  Stalking a domestic partner is “not advisable?”   If the behavior is sufficiently abusive to cause a person to get a restraining order, then is it not “violent?”

One legal authority describes the effects as a component of verbal abuse as follows:

“Perpetrators of verbal abuse often misuse their authority and prey on those in a subordinate position. Victims of verbal abuse are often told they are to blame for the abuser’s behavior and reluctant to take action to end the abuse. Verbal abuse may lead to stress, depression, physical ailments, and other damage.” [USLegal]

So, by the lights of the conservative opponents, abuse which leads to stress, depression, physical ailments and other damage, isn’t really violent?  Must the victim be physically injured? Must the injury require bone setting, or will a few stitches be enough?  Must the injury be permanent? Scarring?  How much blood must be on the floor before the opponents of VAWA are satisfied?

How many women or domestic partners must be subjected to domestic violence before the federal government can assist state and local police with funding for domestic violence training and support programs?  Are the Tenthers arguing that the federal government has no role to play in the following state and local programs?

“VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA funding support domestic violence shelters, law enforcement, courts, rape crisis centers, children’s services, prevention, community outreach, and other state and local programs that provide services for victims and families.  These programs have made significant progress towards ending domestic and sexual violence.  Statistics show a significant decline in domestic violence since VAWA was first enacted in 1994.  In addition to saving lives, VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA save money by reducing future violence and other related social costs.” [NNEDV]

What the Tenthers are essentially telling victims of domestic violence is that the Federal government exceeds its constitutional authority when it assists states and local governments with violence prevention programs, with law enforcement efforts, with community outreach and educational programs, and with shelters for abuse victims.  This is not a usurpation of state and local authority, but a collaborative effort to end a scourge perpetrated by those who mis-use and abuse their authority over others, and who prey on those in subordinate positions.

The Tenthers have no substantial legal or constitutional argument to make, they have an unfortunate history of using their radical theory to perpetuate some of the more egregious practices and traditions in American life, and they are now clutching their togas and seeking to hide a misogynistic agenda beneath the folds of a document which begins with “WE the people.”

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Filed under Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Bits and Pieces: Monday Musings

Jig Saw PuzzleYes, Nevada is paying attention to election laws; and, the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will hold a hearing on AB 48 this Thursday — Valentine’s Day.   The “title:”

AN ACT relating to elections; providing that a person who is not a qualified elector and who votes or attempts to vote knowing that fact, or a person who votes or attempts to vote using the name of another person, is guilty of a category B felony; revising certain nomination procedures; requiring county clerks to certify certain lists of candidates and nominees to the Secretary of State; extending the period in which a person may register to vote by computer; making various other changes relating to the administration and conduct of an election; expanding the definition of “campaign expenses”; amending reporting requirements relating to special elections; requiring persons and entities which make expenditures against candidates to report contributions and expenditures; requiring nonprofit corporations to report certain contributions and campaign expenditures; eliminating a requirement that the Secretary of State obtain certain advice and consent of the Legislative Commission; making various other changes relating to campaign finance; providing penalties;….

The hearing will begin at 4:00 pm in Carson City, video-conferenced to room 4401 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Bldg. Las Vegas.   Keep up with other Legislative doings compliments of the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus.

Secretary of State Ross Miller will discuss proposals for voter identification at Reno’s Great Basin Brewery, (details here) sponsored by the DWWC.

There’s some informative and insightful reading available in the Silver State blogosphere — there’s Flashpoint, from the Nevada Progressive.   There’s a “Don’t Miss” graph on domestic violence available from The Sin City Siren.   But, wait!  Heritage Action would warn us of the nefarious content of the Violence Against Women Act:

“Under VAWA, men effectively lose their constitutional rights to due process, presumption of innocence, equal treatment under the law, the right to a fair trial and to confront one’s accusers, the right to bear arms, and all custody/visitation rights,” the group wrote. “It is unprecedented, unnecessary and dangerous.” [TPM]

Then there’s  “El Nuevo GOP” from Hugh Jackson in which the pivots, positions, and parsing of one Senator Dean Heller (Nuevo R-NV) are on full display.  What? Senator Heller, run as an arch conservative and then periodically vote as a ‘moderate,’ before reverting to right wing rhetoric — we’re shocked! Shocked I Say.

What’s the first clue?  Here’s advice from the heart (and head) about how to spot a clueless financial reporter –> LINK.  There are many of these unfortunate creatures populating the pages of what’s been passing for economic and business news these days.   Forewarned is forearmed.

Chart for the Day:

Debt stabilizationOff the Charts explains more fully.  There’s an important point buried, and often obfuscated, in the screeching about the horrible terrible no good debt — debt reduction is good, but what we need to do is to stabilize our level of national indebtedness.    How to spot someone who doesn’t understand the characteristics of national indebtedness, or that national indebtedness is NOT analogous to household debt?  Listen for people “explaining” we should “pay off our national debt.”   Nope, at least not unless we want to stiff people and institutions who have invested in our Treasuries as part of their investment portfolios.  Never a really good idea.

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Filed under elections, Heller, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Passing VAWA…again

VAWAS. 47, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 59 co-sponsors, including Nevada Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV).  Votes are expected sometime after 2:00 pm (Eastern) this Tuesday.

Title IX, section 204 is of particular interest to Native American victims of domestic violence.

“(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in addition to all powers of self-government recognized and affirmed by sections 201 and 203, the powers of self-government of a participating tribe include the inherent power of that tribe, which is hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons. (2) CONCURRENT JURISDICTION- The exercise of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction by a participating tribe shall be concurrent with the jurisdiction of the United States, of a State, or of both.”

There are two exceptions to this jurisdictional framework: If the persons involved are not Native Americans, or if the defendant has no ties to the tribe.

This version of the bill has been modified since the last session:

“The Senate version has been tweaked from the version considered last year, with sponsors scuttling a provision on law-enforcement visas given to undocumented immigrants who’ve been the victim of domestic violence. Democrats did this for procedural reasons — it gives the House fewer excuses to ignore the bill — and expect to address this in a comprehensive immigration reform bill, so the issue isn’t being dropped altogether.

VAWA supporters in the Senate did not, however, get rid of LGBT provisions or a measure that extends tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal land.

House Republicans have balked at these provisions in the past, but at least for now, senators don’t care.”  [MSNBC blog]

Now it will be up to the House of Representatives to step up and do the right thing.

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

We’re Number One! Female Murder Victims in Nevada

Domestic Violence RibbonOne of the bills stalled in the Do Absolutely Nothing 112th Congress of the United States of America is the Violence Against Women Act.  The Senate version extends the protections of the Act to LGBT citizens, Native Americans, and immigrants.  The GOP leadership of the  House of Representatives objects to the extensions.  [CDThe objections are spurious.  However, that doesn’t prevent the bill from being stalled, and the Next Great Big Debt Crisis — which evidently wasn’t a problem for the Bush Administration “Deficits Don’t Matter” crowd — is chewing up the air time on the cable news networks.  Meanwhile, we have a real economic problem on our hands — domestic violence.

Intimate partner violence is expensive.  We’ve known this since the 2003 Center for Disease Control report. (pdf)

“The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of IPV also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV and $0.9  billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide. The largest proportion of the costs is derived from physical assault victimization because that type of IPV is the most prevalent. The largest component of IPV-related costs is health care, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total costs.”

So, as of 2003 the price tag for domestic violence was $5.8 billion annually, and the price tag for the health care component was $4.1 billion.  Want to help bring down health care costs in this country, then reduce the instances of domestic violence!

For those who persist in speaking of the issue as a police matter, or a “woman’s issue,” consider the following information from that 2003 CDC study:

Domestic Violence Losses

As of nine years ago we were pitching the equivalent of 32,114 full time jobs in the dust bin because women lost valuable work days due to incidents of domestic violence.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence updated the numbers and reported that as of 2005, “The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year.”   That, of course, is $727.8 million that doesn’t add anything to the national economy every year.

If we could delve only in the realm of national, and therefore generalized, statistics Nevadans might be more comfortable.  However, the Silver State has a problem according to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto:

“Victims of domestic violence comprise the largest crime victim category in Nevada. Although domestic violence is significantly underreported and statistics are incomplete, the Nevada Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2009 reported 29,091 female victims and 12,060 children present at incidents of domestic violence. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reports that 42,877 first-time victims received services from domestic violence programs in fiscal year 2010-11.” [LVSun]

The numbers sting more when they’re describing what is going on in this state alone.   The sting is even greater when reading headlines like this one: “Nevada Ranks #1 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men for Third Year in a Row According to VPC Study Released Annually for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.”   That’s right… We’re Number One… in the rate of women murdered by men for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW.  But wait, the news actually gets worse.

“The state has held the top position for five of the last six years. The annual VPC report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The study uses the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report and is released each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Ranked behind Nevada (2.62) were: South Carolina at 2 with a rate of 1.94 per 100,000; Tennessee at 3 with a rate of 1.91 per 100,000; Louisiana at 4 with a rate of 1.86 per 100,000; Virginia at 5 with a rate of 1.77 per 100,000; Texas at 6 with a rate of 1.75 per 100,000; New Mexico at 7 with a rate of 1.63 per 100,000; Hawaii at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; Arizona at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; and, Georgia at 10 with a rate of 1.61 per 100,000. Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.22 per 100,000.” [VPC] (emphasis added)

We can extrapolate that the national trends might apply to the Nevada cases.  For example, 94% of the victims knew their attackers.  Of the victims who knew their attackers, 65% were murdered by husbands or intimate partners.  70% of the murders were accomplished with a firearm, followed by the use of knives or cutting instruments (20%), bodily force (12%), and the ubiquitous “blunt object” was the implement of choice in about 7% of the homicides.  (full study, pdf link)

For once, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) didn’t sign on to the misogynistic agenda of some of his GOP colleagues, and he joined the Democratic majority in the Senate voting in favor of the renewed VAWA. [LVSun] Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted with the 67 other Senators who favored the renewal of the act.   Sometimes being Number One isn’t the place to be.

Congressman Joe Heck was eager to trumpet his vote for the VAWA, however it was the watered down House version (H.R. 4970), with no protection for immigrant women, LGBT citizens, and Native American women.  [NVProg]  Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) tapped danced around the issue of tribal jurisdiction over rapes and assaults perpetrated on tribal lands, and supported the House version of the bill.  What might their positions be on the ‘real’ VAWA bill, S. 1925?

They, and their cohorts in the U.S. House of Representatives will have to work quickly to deal with the back-load of bills piling up, especially given that they are only scheduled to be in session for 126 days next year.

One of those precious days should really be devoted to the loss of the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs, the loss of at least $727.8 million to the economy every year, and to the $5.8 billion in health care costs attributable to domestic violence.   Perhaps then Nevada could lose the dubious honor of being “Number One?”

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Filed under Economy, violence, Women's Issues