Tag Archives: women’s 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

Candles, Fireworks, and Failures: The Colorado Springs Killings

candles

There is purity in light.  Light illuminates all it touches.  We light candles in hope, in celebration, in reverence, and all too often in sorrow.  There will be candles in Colorado Springs, Colorado, some in the festive spirit of the season, others in sorrowful remembrance of those whose own light expired before its time.

French author Jean Paul Satre said of words: “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”  Words created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Silence created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Words and silences with consequences.

Anti-abortion radicals provided the words.  Edited words in the smear propaganda videos produced by the nefarious Center for Medical Progress. [C&L]  Provocative words from radical politicians in Congress as they launched five investigations into the activities of Planned Parenthood. [NYT]  Incendiary words, generating as the saying goes “more heat than light,” from Republican presidential candidates. [NYT] Manipulated, provocative, incendiary words created the darkness instead of providing illumination.  Worse still those manipulated, provocative, incendiary words were spread across the nation without filtration. [C&L]

It was almost as if the journalists and broadcasters who amplified these words had forgotten the power of the pen, or in these days, the pixel.  Someone decided that the “heavily edited words” in the propaganda videos counted as “news.”  And the words were unleashed before any illumination took hold. Yes, the tapes were edited for effect, certainly not for edification.  Yes, the tapes were controversial. However, no, the tapes were not authentic, truthful, or informative.  And  the message was further enhanced by the failure of editors and publishers to require that what they broadcasted and printed was authentic, truthful, and informative.

It  seems as though the editors, producers, and publishers were content with fireworks – ephemeral bursts of gaudy light, instead of a steady but less glamorous illuminating candle.

Words can challenge or comfort us.  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words caused some to remember that since 1977 there have been eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, forty-two bombings, and one hundred eighty six arsons against abortion clinics and providers. [Vox] Others noted that in just the last four years states have enacted two hundred thirty one pieces of abortion restriction legislation. [Guttmacher]  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words comforted and validated not only the radicals among us but also the  murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists.

Our words are our own. Once uttered they are released forever, and in the case of some media outlets may be repeated almost endlessly, looping along with stock footage and graphics.  There is a vast difference between freedom of speech, and freedom from criticism which is not always evident in the reactions to radical hyperbole.

The Center for Medical Progress, the creator of the propaganda videos, denounced the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center, but without any acknowledgment that the attack may very well have been informed by the very videos and controversy it created. [HuffPo]  The attack began and ended at the Planned Parenthood center.  Three lives were extinguished there.

Are the radical anti-abortion advocates asking us to please don’t think ill of them because they never intended their words (and pictures) to inflame the murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists?  We’re cautioned about using scatological language in case “small ears” might be listening; do we take as much care when it’s possible small minds might be attending to the messages?

Words can’t be deflected easily.  Most of the Republican candidates sought refuge in generalizations — “everyone should tone down the rhetoric.” But whose rhetoric called abortion providers, “exterminators,” or “a criminal enterprise,” or “killers?”  [NewYorker] No one is arguing that all members of the so-called “pro-life” movement are murderers, bombers, or arsonists – only that the heated verbiage of the radicals provides inspiration and validation for those who are inclined in that direction.

And then there were the silences.

When those 231 pieces of anti-abortion legislation were being considered in State Legislature – how many voices were heard in opposition? How many pro-choice advocates crafted letters to members of those assemblies? To local editors? To local media outlets?  How many legislators decided it was safer to “go along to get along” with radicals rather than risk their wrath?

When the controversy over the video tapes flamed into the news, how many editors and producers succumbed to the temptation to air what was dramatic, flashy, and provocative before vetting the material for authenticity?  We might ask how many times news organizations must get “used” by political groups before they realize that the words and pictures they are disseminating are  propaganda and not really newsworthy?  How many times are these outlets cowered into the shallows of self referential exculpation, as in the convenient “both sides do it” narrative?

The best feature of a candle is its capacity to provide continuous illumination, without flares and flashes.  It may be dim in comparison to electric bulbs, but no illumination is without shadows.  However, to paraphrase Satre: Every candle has the capacity to illuminate. Every darkness the power of destruction.

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

Cases of Interest in the Pipeline

 Gavel If we can tear ourselves away for a moment from the Pelagian morality play, or circus act, on stage in Kentucky, there are some other interesting cases which are winding through the U.S. courts.

Shapiro v. McManus:  A case brought by a Maryland Republican who believes the Democrats gerrymandered districts after the 2010 census.  What make this interesting is that Shapiro is contending his case should have been heard by a three judge panel – which would put it on a fast track to the Supreme Court. [ScotusBlog, Baltimore Sun]  Those watching voting rights and political cases may want to keep track of this one.

Arizona v. U.S.:  The immigration issue, and the legal status or protections related thereto, is central to this long running case based on the Papers Please Arizona law otherwise known as SB 1070. The case is back in the news:

“Challengers of Arizona’s landmark immigration law failed to show that police would enforce the statute differently for Latinos than they would for people of other ethnicities, a judge said in a ruling that dismissed the last of seven challenges to the law.

The ruling could signal the end of the case and gave a victory to backers of the law, which was approved in 2010.

In her order Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the challenge and upheld provisions that were previously ruled on by appeals courts.” [LA Times]

Stay tuned.

Whole Women’s Health et al v. Cole:  The case has been filed by Planned Parenthood supporters in Texas challenging the “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”  (pdf)  The petition raises some crucial questions and is highly recommended reading. (h/t Scotusblog]

Okay, if we really can’t avoid the Rowan County clerk’s exercise in liberum arbitrium, ( the moral strength of man’s will when steeled by asceticism is sufficient in itself to desire and attain the loftiest ideal of virtue ) then there are some interesting and informative articles available which go beyond sideshow reportage:

  • Marty Lederman “Further strangeness in the Kim Davis Case,” Balkinizaton blog September 7, 2015.  Mark Graber “A Different Take on Kim Davis, Balkinization, September 5, 2015.
  • Lyle Denniston “A New Legal Cloud over same-sex marriage in Kentucky,” Scotus Blog, September 3, 2015.
  • Charles J. Reid, “No Refuge in Scripture or in Law,” Huffington Post, September 5, 2015.
  • Garrett Epps, “The fatal flaw in Davis’s appeal,” Atlantic, September 2, 2015.
  • Brian Tashman, “Five Bizarre Arguments Kim Davis’ Supporters Have Used To Defend Her Lawbreaking,” Right Wing Watch, September 4, 2015.

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, Immigration, Judicial, Voting, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

News of Note

newspapers 1

  Stay tuned, today’s agenda in the Assembled Wisdom includes a vote on the foundation of Governor Sandoval’s tax and revenue plan.

“The state senate is expected to take a vote on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Business License Fee bill, the main business tax component of his overall $1.1 billion plan in new and extended taxes.

If the senate fails to pass Gov. Sandoval’s bill, it will be a sign that any tax plan to fund the governor’s proposed $7.3 billion general fund budget will not be completed by the end of the Legislature’s regular session, which is scheduled to end after the first week in June.”  [RGJ]

And, BTW, Attorney General Tea Party (Laxalt) is quick to inform us that his dive into the anti-immigration lawsuit, isn’t anti-immigrant.   Right. It’s just about the “Rule of Law,” and Congress should be acting on immigration reform, not the President.   And, if you believe this I have some lovely (but rather arid) cliff side real estate I’d love to sell you.  We might also note that the comprehensive immigration policy reforms were hammered out in 2013 and the GOP hasn’t seen fit to allow the package to see the floor since.  Or, as AZ Central points out:

Though some Republicans last year argued that a GOP-run U.S. House and U.S. Senate might be inclined to tackle immigration reform early this year — and national Republicans have stressed the need to get the issue off the table before the 2016 presidential election — most observers now say there appears to be little chance for far-reaching legislation along the lines of the 2013 Senate-passed bill negotiated by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

So, it’s 2017 – if then – before the Congressional leadership has any interest in tackling the issue?

Meanwhile, prominent passenger in the GOP Presidential Race Clown Car, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is hauling out the old canard – the very old canard – that even legal immigration is a threat to American workers.

“In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying — the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there — but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward,”  [HuffPo]

This one’s been debunked so many times it’s hard to keep track of the volume. but that won’t prevent the GOP from hauling it out once again.  No, they “aren’t taking our jobs,” and calls for full deportation would Negatively Impact our economy, and if you want the best information on the subject – which is not coming from right wing Republicans and their pet media outlets – that’s still the 2013 CBO report (FactCheck) and related reports from the CBO the links for which are HERE.

However, immigration policy reform isn’t the only casualty in this 18 months before the election hysteria from the right.  The propaganda mill is working overtime.  Additionally, some of the same donors who’ve brought us extreme right wing politics are funding the highly questionable “research” by Peter Schweiser’s Government Accountability Institute.   This doesn’t mean the internecine warfare among the occupants of the Clown Car will diminish any time soon.  The Cruz of the Mouth Club is claiming that Rubio and Walker are “wimping out” on Gun Rights.   The 20 week abortion ban seems to be one of the major points for Republicans in the primary season, even though Planned Parenthood notes that nearly 99% of all abortions take place before 21 weeks.

Biggest Losers:  The jerks who vandalized a memorial, including killing a newly planted tree, to Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Immigration, Nevada legislature, nevada taxation, Republicans, Womens' Rights

Keeping the Ladies in Waiting: The Paycheck Fairness Act

Woman's List 2On January 23, 2013 — yes, that’s 2013 — Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) introduced H.R. 377, the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections has jurisdiction over bills of this nature, and by April 2013 the bill hadn’t moved.  Supporters of the bill filed a discharge petition. As of Tuesday, April 1, 2014 the petition to get a vote on the bill got its 197th signature. (113-1) It is 21 signatures shy of the 218 required.

Discharge petitions are a strategy of questionable value, since depending upon how such maneuvers are analyzed the success rate ranges from about 2% to 9% of all such attempts. [WaPo]

Nor has the idea met with enough support in the U.S. Senate.  As the last signature was being appended to the House Discharge Petition 113-1 in April 2014, Republicans in the Senate were blocking consideration of a companion bill.  [Nation] S. 2199, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked when Senate Republicans refused to lift their filibuster on a 53-44 vote. [rc 103] Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) was among those voting to sustain the filibuster.

Republican opposition to the Paycheck Fairness legislation appears to be a masterpiece of ideological spin.  We, announce the members of the GOP, are really supportive of women’s issues — but government isn’t the answer.

There was this example: “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender,” Mike Huckabee said at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January.” [Nation] Huckabee offers a talking point in which any attempt to assist women (or any other group for that matter) merely serves to create a sense of ‘victimhood’ thus disparaging attempts by individuals to grab their own bootstraps at improve their own economic circumstances. It’s little more than the hoary Moral Hazard Issue, modified and transformed into an excuse to do nothing to help anyone, ever.

And this one:  “All Republicans support equal pay for equal work,” wrote Republican National Committee press secretary Kirsten Kukowski, communications director Andrea Bozek and NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen in a memo. “And while we all know workplace discrimination still exists, we need real solutions that focus on job creation and opportunity for women.” [Nation]  This might be characterized as the Double Side Step Dance.  Oh, we’re all in favor of equal pay for equal work, but — we need more tax breaks for multi-national corporations, etc. offering more support for those elusive Job Creators.

And these: “Republicans have said that, although they support equal pay for equal work, the bill would increase civil lawsuits. They also say that the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.” [WaPo] Ah, the recurring Republican nightmare, on display with nearly every bill which ever sought to regulate corporate behavior — It will spawn litigation.

The Lily Ledbetter Act was supposed to have done that [TNR]… except it didn’t.  Redundancy is another GOP argument for doing nothing.  The line can be summarized as, “There is no need to improve any employee protections because current statutes already provide enough protection.” This is an argument which neatly avoids the rationale set forth in the legislation which explains the necessity of the proposed improvements.  Witness, the prohibition of penalties for employees who discuss their wages, and the authority of the EEOC to collect data from employers about wages.

And finally: It’s just election year politicking. [NYT] Translation: You’re just trying to make us look bad. If so, it was successful.

So, what might disgorge the Paycheck Fairness Act (equal pay for equal work) from the Congressional bill grinder?

Get Specific:  At town hall sessions, and public Q&A events — Instead of asking “Do you, Congressman Bilgewater or Senator Sludgepump, support equal pay for equal work?” Ask them: What is wrong with prohibiting employers from penalizing employees who discuss their wages or salaries?  What is wrong with allowing the EEOC to collect data on wages and salaries from employers?

If they stammer out that those sound like good ideas, then ask “Why didn’t you support the Paycheck Fairness Act which included those two items?”  Or, if the individual is not an incumbent, ask “Will you support legislation which includes those provisions?”

Get rational: At bottom the Paycheck Fairness Act is of a piece with family finances. [Additional here]  From a previous post:

“The pay gap has some very real economic consequences.   One analysis projects that if the pay gap could be mitigated, and more women could participate in the workforce, we could add about 3 to 4% to our national economy.”

Again, specifics matter.  In Nevada, a woman earns approximately 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man.  Additionally:

“125,402 households in Nevada are headed by women. About 26 percent of those households, or 32,479 households, have incomes that fall below the poverty level. Eliminating the wage gap would provide much needed income to women whose salaries are of critical importance to them and their families.” [NatPart pdf]

Allowing a politician to pontificate about the highly generalized moral hazard of hypothetical victimhood, or rattle on about redundancy and projected litigation only serves to skirt real economic issues faced by real families.  Ask, “What would be the overall economic benefit to Nevada if the $6,319 yearly wage gap between the earnings of men and women were narrowed?”

Playing with the calculator — if only 1,000 of those households in Nevada, headed by women, were to get the same wages as their male counterparts for doing the same job, and that $6,139 gap were closed, the result would be $6,139,000 added to the aggregate demand for goods and services in this state.

Get Out and Vote.

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Filed under Economy, equal pay, Heller, Ledbetter Decision, Nevada economy, Politics, Republicans, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Poor George

Breakfast Club TrapPoor George (Will). Poor misunderstood George. He wants us to know that he really really really takes rape so seriously that he’s opposed to “jerry built” campus processes and procedures in place to deal with it. [TPM]

Here’s his first major point:

“What I say is that: A) I take sexual assault more seriously than I think they do, because I agree that society has correctly said that rape is second only to murder as a serious felony,” Will said. “And therefore, when someone is accused of rape, it should be reported to the criminal justice system that knows how to deal with this, not jerry-built, improvised campus processes.” [TPM]

Where to begin?  (1) Sexual assault is a category of criminal activities which includes rape. See NRS 200.364.  It may also include crimes like lewdness with a child.  This leads us to the next (2) point — University of Nevada campus police officers are ” certified under the laws of the State of Nevada. They perform the same function as officers from city, county and state agencies – enforcing all local, state and federal laws and ordinances within the jurisdiction of the University of Nevada, Reno.” [UNR]  The meaning of all this is simple — report a rape on campus and a law enforcement official — not some ‘jerry built’ system is supposed to respond.  Perhaps Mr. Will remembers college differently than the rest of us. However, he has one more big point to make:

“Second, I take, I think, sexual assault somewhat more seriously than the senators do because I think there’s a danger now of defining sexual assault so broadly, so capaciously, that it begins to trivialize the seriousness of it,” he added. “When remarks become sexual assault, improper touching — bad, shouldn’t be done, but it’s not sexual assault.” [TPM]

It isn’t? This is not for Mr. Will to determine. In the case of the University of Nevada campus in Reno there is nothing trivial about the definition of sexual harassment:

“No employee or student, either in the workplace or in the academic environment, should be subject to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior of a sexual nature that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, and that interferes with performance.  [UNRedu]

UNLV’s policy [UNLV pdf] on rape and sexual harassment might be an instructive piece of reading for Mr. Will.  Far from “capacious” or “trivializing” the policy is a straightforward discussion, including definitions of specific terms such as assault, stalking, rape, etc.

This should be about the time for someone to remind Mr. Will of the old saw — when in a hole stop digging. No amount of intellectualizing, hypothesizing, or rationalizing is going to make his comments sound any better than in their original form.

Actually, Mr. Will has had several reminders, from an ob/gyn, from columnists who have shredded his assumptions, and from the St. Louis Post Dispatch which dropped his column.  The saddest part of the entire mess into which Mr. Will has inserted himself is that his arguments are based on little more than the old “Boys will be Boys,” and “She asked for it” canards.

It’s 2014. We don’t need any more recitations of why those two assumptions are devoid of any substance, and equally lacking in intellectual honesty.  Smugness doth not righteousness bestow, and ersatz intellectual rationalizations do not  support reasoned discussions.

Mr. Will has officially joined the Rush Limbaugh school of gender relations in which women are “subject” to men, women are the “lesser half,” and women who don’t care for this situation are ‘phony victims’ or worse… it’s a trap.

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