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Tuesday Evening Open Thread

That was NOT the official White House response to Jim Cramer – but it’s close.

What’s on your mind?

Now & Then

Doug Kmiec

Doug Kmiec

 Doug Kmiec now:

March 2, 2009 – On Thursday, our law dean, Kenneth Starr, will defend Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court. Knowing the dean to value open and civil debate, we write – respectfully – to dissent. One of us (Saxer)opposed Prop. 8 for civil rights reasons; Kmiec supported it for reasons of religious liberty. Today, both of us believe the arguments in support of Prop. 8 fail each of these interests.We leave to others the intramural sparring over whether Prop. 8 was a constitutional revision or amendment. We think the precedent on this mixed, but in any event, we find it an insufficient basis upon which to rule.

The argument for Prop. 8 must be resisted for two reasons: First, because it gives the proposition a far broader discriminatory effect than its language warrants, and second, the proposition is oblivious to the differing faith practices of our citizens. Marriage is of religious origin; it should remain there. Indeed, neither the original court decision nor Prop. 8 showed adequate recognition of the religious nature of marriage, so Thursday’s case can be a do-over. 

Doug Kmiec then:

June 13, 2008 – The California ballot initiative intended to set aside the state supreme court’s judicial invention of same-sex marriage deserves public support. Maybe it is enough to say, as many do in conversation, that it merely re-secures a millennia of tradition and common sense.

Doug Kmiec before then:

March 23, 2008 – Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence, and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and that he wants to return the United States to that company of nations committed to human rights. I do not know if his earlier life experience is sufficient for the challenges of the presidency that lie ahead. I doubt we know this about any of the men or women we might select. It likely depends upon the serendipity of the events that cannot be foreseen. I do have confidence that the senator will cast his net widely in search of men and women of diverse, open-minded views and of superior intellectual qualities to assist him in the wide range of responsibilities that he must superintend. 

Last September Doug Kmiec was a member of Obama’s “Faith, Family, and Values Tour” designed to woo the votes of left-leaning Catholics, progressive Evangelicals, and some conservative mainline Protestants.

(The above image of Doug Kmiec is from the website Pro-life Obama)

National Women’s History Month: Women, Engineering, and Emily Warren Roebling


Those women that do choose the engineering profession … find that it’s tough being a woman engineer. Fact is, the U.S. engineering workforce is predominantly composed of white males. And ironically, though women make up more than half of the U.S. population, when it comes to the engineering workforce, they comprise only about 8%, according to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Believe it or not, this percentage shows an improvement over the mid-1980s, when the proportion of females in the engineering workforce was less than 6%. [source, 2000]

Sherry L. Koucky, the co-author of the article from which the above quote comes wrote, in an accompanying editorial:

Amy Higgins and I wrote the article, and while researching we discovered some inequities ranging from how girls are educated to how women are treated in the workplace. When I expressed opinions about this to some of the men in the office, they accused me of being full of venom on this issue. But I’m not angry. Surprised and enlightened, yes. I could rant and rave about how women will never bust into the Old Boy’s Club, but that’s beating a dead horse and will not solve the issues Amy and I unearthed.

For those of us who work in in male-dominated fields (and according to domination measured by equal wages that’s virtually all women), Ms. Koucky’s experience – offering information to men about women’s circumstances in a shared field meets with accusations that woman is “full of venom” or shrill or (presumably wrongly) angry will sound familiar. If you read Koucky’s and Higgins article you will see how strange it is that she was attacked by male colleagues, especially scientists who are supposedly interested in empirical data, since the article considers a range of hypotheses for why women not only are so underrepresented in engineering, but are underrepresented in the more highly remunerative areas of engineering.

In recent years, according to an SWE survey of 2,000 male and female engineers, women engineers typically have started their first engineering jobs at salaries equal to or greater than those of their male counterparts. After about eight years in the workforce, however, those women still pursuing an engineering career earn less than men. This disparity widens the longer these women stay in the workforce. Some experts believe the salary difference is due to women not advancing into management at the same rate as men. Others believe that family responsibilities have caused women to remove themselves from the workforce for a period of time and that they never make up the difference. The SWE survey produced other interesting findings:
* Women engineers are more likely than men to work in a manufacturing sector, while men work in consulting.
* Women engineers tend to work for large engineering employers while men work in smaller firms.
* Men are more likely (40% versus 14%) than women to pursue and obtain registration as professional engineers.
* 51% of male engineers feel that they participate in management decisions while only 32% of female engineers feel this way.

Most experts agree that survey results such as these reflect a glass ceiling a perceived barrier preventing women or minorities from moving into top management positions that they can see, but never reach. In fact, research from the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, as well as testimonials, support that today’s American labor force is gender and race segregated, and that white men fill most top management positions in corporations.


(Woman engineers in the 19th century)

Elizabeth Bragg received the first engineering degree awarded to a U.S. woman when she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a civil engineering degree in 1876. I have not found much information about Ms. Bragg’s career. A more famous woman engineer from the period is Emily Warren Roebling. Brooklyn Museum: Portrait of Emily Warren Roebling Roebling’s name is inscribed on the Brooklyn Bridge as one of its builders. After both her father and husband suffered incapacitating injuries during their work on the bridge, Emily Warren Roebling stepped in to see the job through.

The Brooklyn Bridge might not have been built had it not been for Emily Warren Roebling. Most history books cite her father-in-law John Roebling and her husband Washington Roebling as the bridge’s builders. Early into construction in 1872, however, collapsing bridge timbers crushed John Roebling’s legs, leaving him incapacitated. Soon after, an illness paralyzed Washington Roebling. With both men out of commission, Emily Warren Roebling took over. Under her husband’s guidance, Emily had studied higher mathematics, the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction. She spent the next 11 years supervising the bridge’s construction.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened to great fanfare in May 1883. The names of John Roebling, Washington Roebling, and Emily Warren Roebling are inscribed on the structure as its builders.


I certainly do not mean to be venomous but if Emily Warren Roebling’s name is inscribed in on the bridge itself, how come “most history books” do not list her as one of its builders?

“Rush Week” and the Neverending Campaign


From Chris Cillizza at WaPo:

Democrats are engaging in a concerted campaign to link the national Republican Party to conservative talk-radio show host Rush Limbaugh, an effort that will ramp up over the next few days in the form of another round of television ads and an increased rhetorical focus on the issue from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, according to sources familiar with the plans.

“Rush is the bloated face and drug-addled voice of the Republican Party,” said Paul Begala, a longtime Democratic strategist who rose to prominence during Bill Clinton’s presidency. “Along with lots of others, I intend to continue to turn up the heat until every alleged Republican either endorses or renounces Rush’s statement that he hopes our President fails.”

Americans United for Change, a liberal group that draws funding from unions and other Democratic interests, is planning a second ad hitting Limbaugh that will reach the airwaves later this week after its first television foray drew massive coverage and set off a national discussion over Limbaugh’s role within the party.

Kaine, the governor of Virginia, issued a statement late Monday attacking Limbaugh as “the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in Washington” and officials at the DNC said Kaine would expand on that critique in a series of television appearances today.

The ramping-up of the “Republicans equal Limbaugh” strategy began over the weekend when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” argued that the talk-radio host “is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.”

The Kool-aid blogs are in full wankfestivus mode over Limbaugh and have been for a couple days.  I got a bad feeling about this – it’s reminiscent of G-Dub declaring “Bring ’em on!”  Why pick a fight with people who have nothing left to lose?  Let lying dogs sleep.

One thing is certain – the fat man will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday: Practicing politics to get to poetry

About a week ago, the NYTimes had a moving video about the recent resurgence of the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.  The first thing the Taliban targets when it moves into an area is education for girls.  In this video, a pretty brave little 11 year old Pakistani girl tells what it is like to go to school when the Taliban return.  Her father owns his own school and has seen matriculation and tuition decrease since the fundamentalists have moved in.  Parents are afraid to send their children to school and his own life is on the line for social activism.

His love for his daughter is evident.  But what I find most poignant is his goal for her.  She wants to be a doctor but he tells her she must be brave and become a politician and lead people to reject fundamentalism.  It is both bold and visionary and an amazing testament to his confidence in her.  I hope they both come out of this alive.

See the video here: Class Dismissed in Swat Valley

Yesterday, there was a related article about women’s shelters in Afghanistan.  A few years ago, women who were sold into marriage and abuse in Afghanistan had few options to escape it, the most effective being suicide.  Now, there are a number of shelters opening up that offer a little bit of hope for women fleeing oppressive marriages and culture while their personal situations are sorted out.  It might seem like a little thing but the choice to control one’s life is the first step to political self-determination.