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Iranian Autumn? and other news

The Iranians are in the streets again, protesting the regime of mullahs and Ahmedinejhad.

To paraphrase an old Sting song, “The Mullahs say they will bury you, I don’t agree with their point of view, it’s such an ignorant thing to do, if the Persians love their children too.”

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Americans are visiting the doctor less frequently.  It looks like the bipartisan plan to control medical costs via a program of sustained mass unemployment is working.

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Check these maps out in TheAtlanticCities if you want to see what happened to job growth since 2001 and in the last four years.  Not very pretty.

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Todd Akin (R), who is running for Senator of Missouri against eau-de-Democrat Claire McCaskill says that the government shouldn’t interfere with the way businesses operate even if it results in pay discrimination against women.

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Michael Lynch says in his article for the NYTimes Opinionator that persuasion by reason isn’t useless, it just takes longer than we like.  Eventually, we’ll have lost absolutely everything but maybe that’s what it will take before the gullible buy a clue.

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There really is a white male affirmative action program.  Let’s just cut the bullshit about all of the progress women have made and look at the facts, ok?

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True story: a couple of guys bought a house in Arizona a few years ago assuring the former owner’s daughters that they were going to restore it to its former architectural glory.  They didn’t.  Instead, they submitted plans to the local planning board to demolish the house, split the land into two lots and develop on it.  Except that this particular house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, David, and it was one of the prototypes for the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral design.  If the couple who bought the house don’t get a buyer who meets their asking price of $2.2 million by tomorrow, it’s curtains for the house.  Thursday is when the demolition is scheduled to begin.  The Wright foundation says this house flew under their radar because David Wright never let anyone visit it even though it’s about 10 miles from Taliesan West.  It would be awful to see it destroyed.  The place looks like it would be beautiful if someone gave it some TLC.  Unfortunately, the new buyers are going to have to have a lot of money to restore it and maybe that’s the sticking point.  Preservationists are racing against the clock to get it designated as a historical landmark.  It looks like they’re not going to make the deadline though.

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Hey!  There’s a debate tonight.  The New York Times says you can learn a lot about candidates in debates by their body language.  They’re a little late to this party because that’s the way The Confluence used to watch debates during the 2008 season.  Here’s the plan: tune into the debate on C-Span or set your DVR, and turn off the sound.  It doesn’t matter what they say anyway and you can always rewatch the debate later.  Now, watch their bodies.  Record your impressions.  You may come to different conclusions about who won based on their body language.  We’ll run a liveblog simultaneously.

As for me, I’m inclined to do like James Carville and join the Cocktail Party.  I love a bit of whiskey in the fall.  But if your tastes lean in the effervescent direction, check out this pumpkin beer recipe served from a real pumpkin:

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Friday: It’s a Girl!

Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to be appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in an announcement this afternoon by Governor Paterson. Gillibrand is a centrist Democrat from a conservative district in upstate New York. She’s a two term congresswoman with a reputation for being bold and forceful. With this appointment, Paterson is hoping to secure the vast wilderness of NY that is not Manhattan.

Hillary campaigns for Gillibrand in August 2006.

Hillary campaigns for Gillibrand in August 2006.

Of course, he may not have secured the seat against primary challenges in 2010. Gillibrand will likely have a contender or two, most notably Carolyn McCarthy, a congresswoman from Long Island (pronounced Lawn Guyland). McCarthy ran for congress on a gun control platform after her husband and son were callously shot by a deranged gunman as they were commuting home on a train. McCarthy is angry over the appointment as Gillibrand is one of the few Democrats who is supported by the National Rifle Association. Given Gillibrand’s district, the rolling foothills south of the Adirondacks, it’s easy to imagine that many of her constituents are avid hunters. But country folk and city folk don’t always see eye to eye on these things. It would be great if the NRA recognized that there *is* a difference and that having a lot of guns floating around a crowded metropolis where they can fall into the hands of the not-so-stable is probably not such a good idea.

Still, Hillary Clinton was an enthusiastic supporter of Gillibrand so I suspect that she’ll be pleased with this announcement. The NYTimes seems to be busily trying to find a way to smear Paterson by blaming him and his office for the botched handling of Caroline Kennedy. Personally, I’d like to thank him for taking his time and allowing the vetting of Kennedy unfold as it did. We learned a lot about the reclusive socialite, who doesn’t seem to have a political bone in her body, and the people at the NYTimes who were behind her. Something seriously weird has been going on with the Times over Kennedy. The articles written about the event have been nothing short of bizarre with a defensive tone and disjointed, out of sequence reporting of what actually happened. The sooner Caroline Kennedy is off the front page, the better.

So, Kudos to Paterson for doing the right thing and congratulations to Kirsten Gillibrand, the second female senator from the state of NY. She has some mighty big shoes to fill but if she was recommended by Hillary herself, then I’m sure the state is in good hands.

Lily Ledbetter, unlikely heroine

Lily Ledbetter, our newest heroine

In other news, the Senate passed the Lily Ledbetter act. The bill passed by 61-36.  We need to get a roll call to see which of our nation’s 36 senators voted against fair pay for women and to find out what their rationale was.  They have a lot of explaining to do to their non-burqa wearing female constituents.   Some of you ladies out there should expect to see a raise as your employers rush to head off any potential lawsuits. But there’s more to paycheck disparities than just discrimination:

The Senate debate on Thursday reflected society’s debate. Civil and womens’ rights advocates hailed the new Ledbetter legislation, but others said it will leave companies vulnerable to potentially crippling lawsuits even though discrimination is only a small factor in the so-called “gender gap” between male and female earners.

A 2007 report by the American Association of University Women found that when experience, training, education and other factors are weighed, discrimination accounts for only 5 percent of the earnings differential between male and female college graduates one year after graduation — and only 12 percent after ten years.

Nevertheless, Catherine Hill, an AAUW senior researcher who co-authored the study, said the Ledbetter law is needed.

“Most companies do the right thing anyway, but some will only do the right thing when they see laws on the books. And some companies have to be taken to court. Without (punitive) damages for discrimination, there really is no way to make them take the issue seriously,” Hill said.

However, Warren Farrell, the San Francisco author of “Why Men Earn More,” said that much of the pay gap can be explained by men choosing higher-paying professions that are in high demand and short supply, such as engineering, computer science, and information technology.

Men are also more likely to take dangerous, grimy jobs, such as collecting garbage and driving cabs, which typically pay more than other non-skilled labor.

Eliminating overt discrimination is only the most obvious thing to do. Now we have to figure out how to make the nation realize that sexism has a cost. When we don’t help girls and women succeed to the best of their abilities, it costs all of us the loss of their ideas to propel business and the nation forward. Ending pay disparities starts in middle school where we must now turn our attention to advocate for our daughters and to make sure they have the same opportunities to succeed as their male counterparts. That’s where we need to fight the next battle against gender discrimination so that girls are as prepared to study higher level math and science as boys.

Sometimes, evolution doesn’t happen gradually but in leaps and bounds. Let’s seize the day and take Lily Ledbetter up to 11.