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      Ah yes, I remember when the Obamabots kept explaining to me how much we needed the constitutional law professor in the White House, so fake wars would never happen again! Funny, how few of them admit they were wrong. Glenn Greenwald: Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” […]
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      The calls are coming in. Assuming they are correct, I think this vote is a mistake, and I note that having been given a clean vote to leave and a chance to live their own values, but having given in to fear; for me, at least, Scottish complaints about privatization of the NHS and other [...]
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Friday: Unfinished business

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking that feminists dropped the ball after they won Roe v. Wade.  Everyone took it down a notch and went back to whatever it was they were doing.  The ERA officially died in 1982.  I was at Point Park in Pittsburgh at a rally the day it happened.  It was important and it was no doubt a very bad thing when it died.  But I was young and stupid and I thought at least we have Roe and cheap, plentiful oral contraceptives.

And that’s where we fell into a trap.  The right wing had us just where they wanted us.  Instead of protecting us, Roe has been used as a political hammer by both parties and as a result, its no longer the protection it was assumed it was.  I say assumed because it never was supposed to be a proxy for true equality.

Today, Louise Trubek, one of the plaintiffs in an earlier contraception case in Connecticut pre-Griswold, seems to agree that we lost the plot in her post in the NYTimes:

Why are issues that the courts decided so long ago still unresolved? Maybe it is time to recognize that law alone is not enough to effect social change. It must be linked to social activism on behalf of women’s rights.

[...]

We can celebrate Griswold, Roe and all the cases that stemmed from the Poe litigation. They are important landmarks in American jurisprudence. But as I look back I am dismayed by how few of the issues I was fighting for at the time of Poe are resolved. To be sure, we have important rights and more legal privacy. But we still have not provided all the support women need to combine rewarding careers and healthy families. Planned Parenthood is under siege and poor women who are seeking comprehensive reproductive care are still at risk. Presidential candidates can get away with saying that all contraception should be outlawed. Comprehensive child care services are difficult to locate, and fully financed family and medical leave is still controversial.

In short, we won the legal battle but not the war. Women are still not guaranteed control over their lives, because the necessary social supports were never secure. The initial goal of Griswold was to help women — and even though the precedent has helped with same-sex marriage laws, those initial needs, especially of poor women, have been left largely unmet.

The universal coverage plan outlined in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a good step forward, and we should do all we can to ensure it. Perhaps if activism had been linked to the lawsuits, the aims I fought for would have been secured, and we would be spared the spectacle of Republican candidates threatening, yet again, a woman’s right to control her own fertility.

She’s right.  After we won Roe, we just assumed that social equality would follow on its own.  But that was never going to happen if the activists stopped being active.  I blame my own generation for this.  We straddled the gap between the end of the baby boom and the Gen Xers.  We were children during the activist days and too busy breaking new ground in college and careers to pay any attention to what was happening to our rights.  It was hard enough to get some professor to notice us or some supervisor to recognize our achievements to go out after work and organize.  But without that activism and organization, our accomplishments were illusory.  There was no permanent change in the culture except these two flimsy supreme court rulings.  That is all we had.  And as the right wing started to chip away at them, we didn’t get alarmed enough.  Now the right has almost got its way even with the rulings in place and our rights and equality looks like a matrix of swiss cheese.

So, it’s back to the trenches for us or our daughters will not have the privileges that we had in the 70s and 80s.  If we’re wondering why we get treated badly at work, it’s because the old boys club knows that there are things society can force women to do that can never be forced on men.  It makes us look weak and easy to run over.

It’s still a man’s world out there and we were stupid to think an abortion ruling was going to change that.

*******************

Craig Crawford has a great post on the fallout over Rush Limbaugh’s “Slut” broadcast.   If you missed this fecal vomit from Rush, here’s an excerpt:

[O]n his radio show today, Limbaugh showed no remorse and instead reveled in the attention. Referring to Fluke, Limbaugh demanded that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control:

LIMBAUGH: So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

 And here’s Rush’s followup.  He just can’t seem to stop himself.  This man needs help.  Or a stiletto shoe in his face.  I just can’t decide…

Craig has a handy list of sponsors that you can contact and includes this little tidbit:

The Rush-Romney Connection
Limbaugh’s daily radio show is syndicated by Premier Networks, which is owned byClear Channel, which is co-owned by Bain Capital.

Folks, you can’t make this up.

Yesterday, I wrote a response to a post by Sarah Lane on google+.  Sarah Lane is the bubbly tech blogger who’s a mainstay at Twit.tv.  I love Sarah Lane but I don’t like the idea that Carbonite is a sponsor of Twit AND Rush Limbaugh.  So, I wrote to ask her what she thought of that?  No answer yet but I’m hopeful.  I might try Gina Trapani next.  Or Leo Laporte, although Leo can come off as a sexist jerk himself on occasion.  In fact, I might just want to abstain from Twit and remove its app from my iphone and ipad until they have a word with their sponsor.  For sure, I am not using the Twit offer code from Carbonite until Carbonite disassociates itself from Rush.

ProFlowers also sponsors Rush.

Now would be a good time for Barack Obama to overcome his Mike Dukakis impression and stand up for women agains this evil bully.  It could be a twofer because Rush may push the nuclear option with a really vile racist remark and then we’ll see how far gone the American public truly is.  It’s one thing to think uncharitable, ignorant things, things you know are not socially acceptable.  It’s quite another thing to say them to the President of the United States.  Barack Obama might be an unprincipled schmoozer and a lousy president but that has nothing to do with his race (which is only a social construct anyway).

This is an opportunity for him to act like he’s got some backbone.  Someone needs to step in here and level Rush.  Maybe Hillary can lend Obama one of her balls.  Schedule a news conference and condemn him in the harshest terms.  Take a note from Bill Clinton’s evil cowards speech after the Oklahoma City bombing.  It’s the right thing to do and I guarantee that it won’t cost the election.  It’s not censoring Rush to tell him that his remarks are uncalled for, destructive and reflects badly on American values.  Call him out.  Do it now.

*****************

In science, it looks like you can teach stale eggs new tricks.  A new study in the journal Nature shows that human ova can be created from ovarian stem cells:

Previous research had suggested that a woman is born with all the egg cells she will ever have in her lifetime.

But in recent experiments, scientists discovered a new type of stem cell in the ovaries that—when grown in the lab—generates immature egg cells. The same immature cells isolated from adult mouse ovaries can turn into fertile eggs.

Stem cells, found in embryos and certain adult body tissues, have the potential to grow into many different types of cells.

(See “Liposuction Fat Turned Into Stem Cells, Study Says.”)

The finding reinforces the team’s previous experiments in mice, which had identified a new type of ovarian stem cell that renews a female mouse’s source of eggs throughout its fertile years.

That study, published in the journal Nature in 2004, was the “first to reach the conclusion that this long-held belief in our field—that young girls are given a bank account at birth that you can no longer deposit eggs to, just withdraw from—was no longer true,” said study leader Jonathan Tilly.

This is good news because if you can collect your stem cells early in your reproductive years and store them, there won’t be as much pressure to have kids before your expiration date.  You can have a backup plan and can get back to work doing something else, like research or starting your own business or writing books or something that requires your full attention.  Biology isn’t destiny until you’re ready.  It’s a good thing.

*****************

This is just cool.  Or disturbing, depending how you look at the idea of small flying objects:

*****************

Blame the user:

NEW YORK -(MarketWatch)- AT&T Inc. T +0.88% is taking a step closer to doing away with unlimited-mobile data-plans.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new fourth-generation mobile-broadband network that can handle more data traffic.

A spokesman said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased.

If you want to know why you’re losing the unlimited data plan on your iPhone, you can blame deregulation of the phone business years ago.  I guess when they decided to break up the monopolies to encourage competition, they never thought about whether they should require the phone companies to invest some of their ungodly profits into improving their data networks.  So, scarcity, like, you know, works in their favor.  They can make you slow down and use less and still charge you a fortune for crappy service.  I have ATT and I can barely get a signal in parts of central NJ and in NY City?  Fuggeddaboudit.  Covering the Occupy events in Zuccotti park was nearly impossible in real time and just drained the battery as the iphone uselessly pinged the sky looking for a signal.
Wherever Steve Jobs is, I’m betting he’s not amused.

It’s Time to Downsize the US

Alexander_cuts_the_Gordian_KnotIn difficult circumstances, such as the current economic crisis, it’s normal to work out how one got there as a means to avoid repeating the process. In the current situation, the discussion seems to range between those who feel that the situation is already working itself out, to those who feel that structural dangers remain and proper regulation is required, to those who feel that the problems were the result of regulation and government programs in the first place.

Count me somewhat on the side of the last group. I say somewhat because I think that the problem has to with the inappropriateness of the regulations that were employed, but unlike them I do not think that the problem is humans using morals and reason to regulate the marketplace. In other, more localized, words, I reject the notion that the Tenth Amendment prohibits spending programs and regulations.

My sense is that the regulations that were deployed to prevent economic disaster were structurally and functionally inadequate because they half-heartedly represented the Great American Project as manifest in the Constitution of the United States. The problem with the regulations wasn’t that they were half-hearted. That half-heartedness is symptom of the larger problem. They were structurally and functionally inadequate because the US can no longer afford to provide its citizens the rights and freedoms guaranteed in its Constitution. The regulations failed because they had a relationship to expectations that are suited to an America that does not exist, in an economic sense. The problems with the public education system, illegal immigration, crime and punishment, and social security, to name a few, are all relatively easy to solve, once the very costly, burdensomeness of the Constitution is overcome. It’s time for America to wake up and downsize its’ dream, the dreams of its citizens, and smell the aroma of the box store, bulk size, generic coffee reality that its best and its brightest have packaged for Uncle Sam’s future.

Downsizing America

Given the economic realities of the new US of A, what aspects of the American vision should no longer be seen as part of the covenant between the citizens and their government? A quick look at some fundamentals of democracy should provide some context about what avenues should be open to being cut. Then the process of contracting out the bureaucratics to the private sector can begin. This said, these are preliminary thoughts, so all that I will provide is a rough and general sketch.

Democracy is expensive and inefficient, even when it’s practised by politicians who are not neo-conservative Republicans. This is unsurprising by design. After all, it’s said that, in an ideal democracy, the populace is educated, they have access to all of the information they need to make a good decision, and they are free to make that decision. How does this ideal fare when it faces the real world?

Immediately, one is struck by the gross redundancy in the ideal system. Providing that much information to so many amounts to an excessive effort for minuscule return. The set of possible decisions for any question is extremely limited, given the options for action, and polling research has already proven that we only need small sample populations to get the gist of what people want. In fact, given the history of their wants, and given the nature of the question, there is probably no need to poll them further because it should be derivable from past decisions. The cost savings to be gained by dismantling the information network should be substantial. Mainstream media can remain as is.

The efficacy of sampling also suggests a direction for schooling provision. Once again, the system is entirely redundant. Imagine, though it’s a laughable thought, that a university degree was all the education one needed to be capable of making good decisions. What do you think it would cost to bring the 71% of Americans who do not have a degree, into the range of democratic competence? How could it possibly be worth the cost? In fact, apart from the decreasing number of specialty jobs that actually require a well-schooled employee, there is no good reason to maintain anything, but a shell of the existing system, apart from creating athletes for the circus part of social diversion. This is because we can use the same polling methodology and randomly choose children from the masses to receive schooling similar to the one that is provided today, and then poll them to find what the rest would have wanted, if they had the schooling.

Given the earlier recommendation of using past polling to extrapolate their wants, this process is admittedly redundant, but it does double duty in terms of providing training for the small percentage of jobs that actually require advanced schooling. Then again, perhaps it is wasteful to randomly select children, as this disregards the advantages of choosing children who are more likely to do well at university, based on their family background. Given past polling, it’s probably best to err on the side of efficiency. The point to take here is that there is no value in giving people more schooling than they need to do the small range of relatively unskilled jobs that await them. Furthermore, think of the dissatisfaction that is avoided when people don’t have enough education to be hired below their level of training.

If the vast majority of people are no longer making decisions, then there’s no reason to prop up the facade that they actually are involved in decision-making. If voter turnout is any indication, many will appreciate avoiding the exercise. To be fair, eternal vigilance is an unwieldy burden to bear, if the only benefits people accrue is to not have decisions made for them by their betters.

In fact, if they are not needed for decision-making, their representatives are redundant for the same structural reasons. The cash to be gained, by trading in the clunker of a public decision-making structure, should be sigificant.

All of these actions would save the economy trillions and once again put America front and center as an economic powerhouse, through the tax dollars it would free up and save. At the same time, it would give Americans a leg up on the rest of the developed/undeveloping world, by readying its citizens for a life of diminished possibilities long before the others face the challenge, should they.

The Constitution is in the way of progress in the US, to the extent it promotes the values of the ideal democracy. Perhaps it was prescient to send home Churchhill’s bust because his notion that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”, seems to have gone bust for America.

chrwsbwp

This is “a frayed thread” in honor of GW’s administration crying wolf at election time.

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No More Taxation Without Representation

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

Well, my sistren and brethren, after a month of “Hope and “Change,” are you feeling sufficiently represented by your new “progressive” government?

In my case, the answer to that question is a resounding, “Hell, no!”

Legislatively, the Obama Administration has failed to impress. The Lilly Ledbetter Act finally passed, but without the Paycheck Fairness Act, it’s only good for punishing employers after they have already been paying women less based on their sex. To make a real change in the daily lives of women and their families, we needed the tougher regulations the Paycheck Fairness Act would have imposed. As for the fabled stimulus package, when the President wanted to garner Republican votes, how did he reach across the aisle? By cutting Planned Parenthood funding, which helps poor women gain access to birth control. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was furious at this betrayal, stating in an interview that cutting the funding actually increased the size of the stimulus bill by $700 million.

Pelosi on Planned Parenthood provisions of stimulus

And of course, not one Republican vote was gained by this tactic.

In the category of gender equity in his Cabinet, President Obama gets an “F.” He could not even bring himself to do any better than George W. Bush.

That’s just sad.

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So, Can She Start Now?

Madame Secretary
Madame Secretary

President-Elect Barack Obama has finally named Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State today. I am thrilled, but nervous, since I expect the press to react like this for the next four years, and she will face many challenges in her new position, including – perhaps – other members of Barack Obama’s Administration. 

What I’m wondering is, since Obama has been acting as co-President, can Hillary now act as co-Secretary of State with Condoleezza Rice? Because quite frankly, Dr. Rice has been an unmitigated disaster.

Just think about the history of this woman’s tenure in the Bush Administration. On 9/11, she was the National Security Adviser. She admitted in Congressional Hearings that she had seen the August PDB entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” She had taken no action whatsoever on terrorism either before or after this briefing, and on the day itself, she was scheduled to give a talk on missile defense and Russia. The idiocy of wasting time on this billion-dollar Reaganite boondoggle, when they had so much information on terrorism in their hands, is truly mindboggling. The Bushian excuses for missing the significance of the chatter and the foreign intel and the PDB were pathetic; Rice actually called the PDB a “historical document,” which was utterly laughable.

And as for the Secretary of State position, Rice has been all but invisible. Colin Powell was a strong Secretary of State, until he ruined his credibility with the cartoon drawings and vial of flour at the United Nations. After that, Bush should have appointed a person with impeccable credentials and experience; someone who could help erase the taint of the Iraq WMD lies from the SOS position. But who does Bush choose? A loyalist, a crony, the woman who failed to prevent the attacks of September 11, 2001. As a New Yorker, I was shocked and disgusted by this appointment. I knew then that Bush had taken the principle of “failing upward” to a new extreme.

The one time Dr. Rice actually tried to do something – that last-minute effort to hold a Middle East peace conference – she failed miserably. And that missile defense shield, which Rice is so fond of promoting? Well, that’s not working out too well. Who could have predicted that if America planted missiles 100 miles from Russia in Poland, it would be interpreted as an act of aggression? Oh yes – EVERYONE WITH 1/10TH OF A BRAIN.

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The “Strict” 30% Solution?

Discussin

Discussing

There was a very interesting discussion on The Confluence last night about the 30% Solution. Some concerns were being raised about always voting for a woman, no matter what. People were calling such an approach the “strict” 30% Solution. As the coiner of this term, I had never heard this variant, and I’d like to address it in this post.

First of all, the 30% Solution is not just about voting. It is important to vote for women in order to achieve it, but in countries where the critical mass has been reached and surpassed, voting was not the only method of putting more women into national office. Some used quota systems, some revised their election procedures – some enshrined the percentage into their Constitution. In other words, the change occurred both at a grassroots level and at a governmental level. Thus, the entire responsibility for the success of this effort does not rest solely on your vote.

In fact, one of my ideas for reaching critical mass earlier is to use our many, many PUMA voices to reach out to the RNC and the DNC, and demand that in 2010, the next slate of new candidates for national office will include at least 30% women.

As many may be aware, John McCain promised gender equity in his Cabinet and a significant increase in the number of women in power by the end of his first term. This makes me think that the Republican Party may be open to my idea, in order to appeal to what could become the largest voting bloc in America – women and men who support them! And if the Republican Party does it, the Democratic Party might feel inspired to do the same.

I am hoping to start some discussion on this idea by posting it here. What do you think?

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The Song of Our New ObamaNation: The Bitch Deserved It

Our New ObamaNation

Our New ObamaNation

Most people in this country do not know how explicitly misogynistic Barack Obama’s campaign was. They don’t have time to sit at the computer and read The Daily Kos, or Talking Points Memo, or The Huffington Post. They didn’t read the vile, endless hatred spewed at women by Obama’s supporters. They believe the lovely stories spun by the corporate media: that Obama was saintly and above all negativity and “unifying,” while his opponents rolled around in dirt. And even when Obama or his surrogates did or said something overtly misogynistic, the media either did not cover it, or excused it.

After all, the bitch deserved it. 

As for Obama’s followers, they refused to admit that his sexist language against Clinton and Palin was intentional. Oh really? Then why didn’t he apologize for it? That’s what a smart political operative does when his words are “misinterpreted” to be offensive to a particular group of people.

There is no logical answer to this question, except that yes, he did flip Hillary off, he did mean to call Sarah Palin a pig, he did intend to slam Hillary when he took the stage after a primary victory to the song “99 Problems (And a Bitch Ain’t One)”, and he did mean to use Clinton’s femaleness against her when he called her “likeable enough” and said she was “periodically down” with her “claws” coming out.

But logic has been in short supply when discussing this election. Over and over again, we women have been told not to believe our lying eyes and ears, to participate in our own marginalization “for the good of the country.” Well, some of us realized that the election of Barack Obama would legitimize the use of misogyny as a tactic against any woman who dared to challenge the entrenched patriarchy in America. And try as we might, we just couldn’t be excited about taking the country in that direction.

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Thank You, Sisters; and Wake Up, Sisters!

I have been wanting to write this post for a while. Since we are taking a breath to regroup and determine our goals for the PUMA movement going forward, I think it’s finally time to say:

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Thank you.

Thank you to all the women who braved the buzzsaw of sexism in order to run for President and Vice President. Since 1884, you have been trying to break that highest, hardest glass ceiling, and this year, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin came the closest anyone has come in 24 years. Because of their work, and all the sisters who have come before, American women are one step closer to having a sister in the White House for the very first time. Your courage and strength is mindboggling, and if we keep working to push women forward in all levels of government, one day we, too, will be saying, “Yes We Did!” on Election Night.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

But our work is not done. I shudder to read the mindless, uninformed drivel that comes out of the mouths of high-profile women these days. Melissa Etheridge, a gay woman who supported Barack Obama, was devastated when Proposition 8 passed in California. But she soon found comfort in her new Messiah of Unity and Rainbows:

…I tell myself to take a breath, okay take another one… Obama has been elected president. This crazy fearful insanity will end soon. This great state and this great country of ours will finally come to the understanding that there is no “them”. We are one. We are united. What you do to someone else you do to yourself. That “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged” are truthful words and not Christian rhetoric.

Melissa. Honey. Without the overwhelming support of Barack Obama’s oh-so-Christian, non-judgmental voters in California, Proposition 8 would never have passed. Moreover, your beloved Precious is on record saying he does not think you have the right to marry the woman you love, and his voice was used in robocalls on Election Day, saying that very thing, to encourage his supporters to vote for this “crazy fearful insanity.”

So, wake up, sister. The election of Barack Obama has actually made your rosy little scenario LESS LIKELY.

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