Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Bitch Of A Time

Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic warns of what’s to come if Hillary Clinton wins in November.  It has nothing to do with economics, foreign policy, or appointments to the Supreme Court.

A Clinton victory also promises to usher in four-to-eight years of the kind of down-and-dirty public misogyny you might expect from a stag party at Roger Ailes’s house.

You know it’s coming. As hyperpartisanship, grievance politics, and garden-variety rage shift from America’s first black commander-in-chief onto its first female one, so too will the focus of political bigotry. Some of it will be driven by genuine gender grievance or discomfort among some at being led by a woman. But in plenty of other cases, slamming Hillary as a bitch, a c**t (Thanks, Scott Baio!), or a menopausal nut-job (an enduringly popular theme on Twitter) will simply be an easy-peasy shortcut for dismissing her and delegitimizing her presidency.

Either way, it’ll be best to brace for some in-your-face sexist drivel in the coming years. Despite progress in the business world, women as top executives still prompt an extra shot of public scrutiny. (Just ask Marissa Mayer or Sheryl Sandberg or Carly Fiorina.) And just as Barack Obama’s election did not herald a shiny, new post-racial America, Clinton’s would not deliver one of gender equality and enlightenment. So goes progress: Two steps forward, one step back(lash). As the culture changes, people resent that change and start freaking out, others look to exploit their fear, and things can turn really, really nasty on their way to getting better.

Ms. Clinton has already had a head start of about twenty-five years of setting this up; she’s been vilified by the right-wing noise machine — which includes a number of women — since before her husband was sworn in, so it’s not going to be pretty.

As the article points out, going after Ms. Clinton based on her gender is the lazy way out of an argument: if you can’t win on substance, you attack on a personal level.  It’s juvenile, but as Rush Limbaugh and any number of like-minded bumper stickers can attest, it’s good for a deflection.

The only difference between the treatment Barack Obama got and Hillary Clinton will face is that women make up a majority of Americans, so for every knuckle-dragger who goes down the Bitch Road, there will be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, or co-worker who will remind him that men haven’t done such a bang-up job and to STFU.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Reading

Mike Pence vs. Women — Joan Walsh in The Nation on Trump’s VP pick.

It looks like Donald Trump blinked.

After a 13-month battle with the Republican establishment in which he won most every skirmish, Trump appears to be acting responsibly, as his campaign confirmed the news that he’d chosen mild-mannered Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his vice-presidential nominee. It was hard to believe that was Trump’s first choice. There had been lots of reporting that he wanted Newt Gingrich (why not, God, why not?) and, despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s legal baggage (plus Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s mortal grudge against Christie for sending his father to jail), it seemed like Trump found in Christie a kindred soul/bully as well. But he was by most accounts scheduled to introduce the white-haired establishment favorite, Mike Pence, at an event in Trump Tower on Friday.

Then came the horrific attack in Nice, France, and late Thursday Trump announced he would postpone his VP announcement, presumably out of respect for the victims. (By the way, the Tour de France went on.) Then he said he’d take the weekend to continue mulling his choice, before tweeting official confirmation of his selection on Friday morning. If this is how Donald Trump makes decisions in real time, he is not looking terribly presidential.

Putting aside the drama of the past 24 hours, it’s worth looking closely at Pence, because he tells us a few things, too—about what counts as “establishment” in today’s GOP.

If Trump thinks he’s getting a running mate who can appeal to the center and swing voters, he’s wrong about that. Pence is so far right when it comes to women’s and LGBT issues, he makes Trump look like a Democrat. Frankly, he’s a smooth-talking Todd Akin.

In Congress, Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have redefined rape and limited federal funding for abortion to women who suffered “forcible rape”—what Akin famously described as “legitimate rape” when he doomed his 2012 Senate bill. Pence is also the guy who began the GOP’s ugly and so far unsuccessful crusade to defund Planned Parenthood, back in 2007. “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said back then. “This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.” Of course, Pence got more company in the Tea Party Congress of 2011, and that year he threatened to shut down the government over continued Planned Parenthood funding.

Since becoming governor in 2013, Pence has signed various anti-abortion bills and succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood in his state. That helped lead to a devastating resurgence of HIV/AIDS, since Planned Parenthood was one of a few providers of HIV testing in the state.

Unfortunately, there’s not much daylight between Trump and Pence on the issue of Planned Parenthood. Although daughter Ivanka reportedly got Trump to say nice things about the group’s women’s-health work earlier this year, both he and Pence have said that if Planned Parenthood wants to continue providing primary care for women, and crucial screenings for breast and cervical cancers, it should stop providing abortions.

“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told a Vox reporter. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.” Sounds like Trump: “Millions of women have been helped by Planned Parenthood. But we’re not going to allow, and we’re not going to fund, as long as you have the abortion going on at Planned Parenthood, and we understand that and I’ve said it loud and clear.”

Also, Trump has promised to punish women for getting abortions (and then flip-flopped); Pence has actually done so. In Indianapolis, 30-year-old Purvi Patel was prosecuted for using the pills doctors prescribe for early pregnancy termination allegedly later in her term. Her conviction is being appealed.

Of course, Pence is probably best known nationally for supporting one of the nation’s toughest so-called “Religious Freedom” laws, and then backing down when big businesses from Apple to SalesForce to Angie’s List said they’d curtail commerce in his state. Pence says he “fixed” the law, but LGBT advocates don’t entirely buy it. Conservatives do, however, and they consider Pence a traitor for bowing to business.

Pence is an odd choice, for many reasons: He’s got low approval ratings in his home state and faces a tough reelection battle. He supports free trade and opposes Trump’s Muslim ban. The Indiana governor endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz just before the state’s crucial primary in May, but said wishy-washy nice things about Trump, too. When Trump crushed Cruz in Indiana, Pence got on the Trump train. He was ready to move up front and sit alongside the leader. But now he’s sitting in a New York hotel waiting for an announcement that may never come.

Reportedly, Trump was angered by the leaks about Pence on Thursday and believed they came from the Indiana camp. For a while on Thursday, Newt Gingrich apparently still thought he was in the race; he came out last night with a proposal to “deport” all Muslims from the United States if they won’t denounce Sharia law—perhaps to remind Trump that Pence opposes such restrictions on Muslims.

Of course, journalists hoped Trump would pick either the voluble Gingrich or the combative Christie, to make the race more fun. I don’t think Hillary Clinton much cares which of the men Trump chooses; they will all send women voters into the Democratic camp even faster than they’ve been running from Trump.

Turkey’s Purge — Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

The coup in Turkey is over, and now the purge begins.

On Saturday, Turkish soldiers and police—those who had remained loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the uncertain hours of the previous day—were rounding up their enemies across the security services, reportedly arresting thousands. There will be thousands more. In the high-stakes world of Turkish politics—nominally democratic but played with authoritarian ferocity—justice for the losers will be swift and brutal.

The remarkable thing about Friday’s coup attempt is not that it failed, but that, after years of Erdoğan’s relentless purging of his opposition, there was a faction inside the Turkish military strong enough to mount one at all.

The confrontation was a long time coming. When Erdoğan first became Prime Minister, in 2003, he was the Islamic world’s great democratic hope, a leader of enormous vitality who would show the world that an avowedly Islamist politician could lead a stable democracy and carry on as a member of NATO, too.

Those hopes evaporated quickly. Erdoğan, who was elected Turkey’s president in 2014, has taken a page from Vladimir Putin’s playbook, using democratic institutions to legitimize his rule while crushing his opponents, with an eye to ultimately smothering democracy itself. Over the past decade, Erdoğan has silenced, marginalized, or crushed nearly anyone in the country who might oppose him, including newspaper editors, university professors, aid workers, and dissident politicians. (What an irony that Erdoğan, who has imprisoned so many journalists, and gone to great lengths to censor Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, may have saved his Presidency by using FaceTime to make an early Saturday appearance on a Turkish television news channel.) President Obama and other Western leaders, seeing Erdoğan as a bulwark against chaos, largely gave him a pass. In his most recent grab for authoritarian powers, Erdoğan pushed through a law that stripped members of parliament of immunity from prosecution, a measure that his critics fear, with good reason, that he will use to remove the few remaining lawmakers who still oppose him.

Then there’s the military. Since the Turkish republic was founded, in 1923, the county’s generals have imagined themselves the ultimate arbiters of the its politics, stepping into power—sometimes savagely—whenever they felt the government had become either too leftist or too Islamic. (After the military overthrew a democratically elected government in 1960, the generals executed the Prime Minister.) The military has had a special contempt for Erdoğan, whom they regarded as a dangerous Islamist—but they have proven no match for him.

In 2007, Erdoğan’s henchmen initiated a series of show trials, known collectively as Sledgehammer, in which fabricated evidence was used to remove the top tier of the Turkish officer corps. Hundreds were sent to prison, and the military itself seemed banished from politics forever. Indeed, Erdoğan must have been surprised that there was still a dissident faction of the armed forces large enough to try to bring him down. On Friday, the coup’s organizers didn’t even have the sense to detain the man they were trying to overthrow, and they apparently never seriously contemplated shooting their way into the palace. (After a coup in 1980, the military killed and imprisoned tens of thousands.) In the wake of their failure, the military will be soon be under Erdoğan’s total control, like virtually every other institution in the country.

In his dramatic appearance at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Friday night, Erdoğan blamed the insurrection on the exiled cleric Fatullah Gulen, a reclusive figure who lives in the Poconos. “I have a message for Pennsylvania,’’ Erdoğan said, a reference that must have baffled many non-Turks. “You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country.”

Gulen, an aging cleric who heads one of the world’s largest Islamic orders, fled Turkey in 1999, when it appeared that the military was going to arrest him. For years, he was one of Erdoğan’s closest allies, helping him in his rise to power. While Gulen preaches a message of love and tolerance, there has often been something mysterious about him and his followers, who do not readily advertise either their affiliation or their intentions. Over the years, Gulen’s followers quietly found positions within many Turkish institutions, particularly the courts and police. (It was the Gulenists who led the show trials against the generals and the press.) In 2008, James Jeffrey, the American ambassador, wrote a memo about the Gulenist infiltration of the Turkish National Police. “The assertion that the T.N.P is controlled by the Gulenists is impossible to confirm, but we have found no one who disputes it,” Jeffrey said.

Then, in 2013, Gulen and Erdoğan split, in what appears to be part of a naked struggle for power. In the years since, Erdoğan has purged the courts and police of thousands of men and women presumed to be Gulen loyalists. It’s hard to know whether Gulen was behind Friday’s attempted putsch, but at this point it seems unlikely. While Gulen’s followers predominated in the security services, they were not generally believed to be a large force inside the military. It seems more likely that the officers who led the revolt represented the remnant of the military’s old secular order. Now they’re finished.

During his speech last night at the Istanbul airport, Erdoğan referred to the attempted coup as a “gift from God.” Erdoğan is usually a precise speaker, but in this case, perhaps in his excitement, he showed his cards. With the coup attempt thwarted, he will no doubt seize the moment. In recent months, Erdogan has made little secret of his desire to rewrite the constitution to give himself near total power. There will be no stopping him now.

Listen Up — Paula Span on new technology to help those of you with hearing issues.

An estimated one zillion older people have a problem like mine.

First: We notice age-related hearing loss. A much-anticipated report on hearing health from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine last month put the prevalence at more than 45 percent of those aged 70 to 74, and more than 80 percent among those over 85.

Then: We do little or nothing about it. Fewer than 20 percent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids.

I’ve written before about the reasons. High prices ($2,500 and up for a decent hearing aid, and most people need two). Lack of Medicare reimbursement, because the original 1965 law creating Medicare prohibits coverage. Time and hassle. Stigma.

Both the National Academies and the influential President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technologyhave proposed pragmatic steps to make hearing technology more accessible and affordable.

But until there’s progress on those, many of us with mild to moderate hearing loss may consider a relatively inexpensive alternative: personal sound amplification products, or P.S.A.P.s. They offer some promise — and some perils, too.

Unlike for a hearing aid, you don’t need an audiologist to obtain a P.S.A.P. You see these gizmos advertised on the back pages of magazines or on sale at drugstore chains. You can buy them online.

But they go virtually unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That leaves them “without the design control requirements, performance standards, technical standards or labeling requirements that apply to devices,” the National Academies report said. By law, manufacturers can’t even label or advertise P.S.A.P.s as intended to help with hearing loss.

The lack of regulation may foster faster innovation — F.D.A. approvals take time — but also creates consumer chaos.

New digital features — some P.S.A.P.s use Bluetooth technology to customize devices, and some will actually test your hearing — are sprouting like dandelions. Yet you can spend $70 or $700 on a pair with no simple way to tell helpful products from the worse-than-useless.

“The current market is pretty much a free-for-all,” said Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a member of the National Academies committee.

“Some P.S.A.P. companies are very good, founded by former hearing aid executives and engineers,” Dr. Lin said. “The devices you see in Walmart for 40 bucks are terrible.”

Which P.S.A.P.s are the good ones? A Johns Hopkins audiologist, Nicholas Reed, has run electroacoustical tests on several devices marketed online, measuring their output or gain (translation: volume), frequency ranges and clarity, the three factors most important in helping people hear.

He has also tested them with users with mild to moderate hearing loss. (These devices won’t help people with severe hearing loss.)

Placing people in hearing booths with some background noise, he compared their hearing with various P.S.A.P.s to how well they could hear with no hearing device and with a midpriced $2,500 hearing aid.

Dr. Reed has tested just 29 participants so far, he cautioned, and real-world results will vary. Still, he and his colleagues were impressed with three P.S.A.P.s.

The Soundhawk, which operates with a smartphone, performed almost as well as the hearing aid, with a list price of $399. The CS50+, made by Soundworld Solutions, and the Bean T-Coil, from Etymotic, worked nearly as well and list for about $350.

The researchers also tested the MSA 30X, available at drugstores for $30, and found it actually increased distortion. “A pure waste of your money,” Dr. Reed said.

Dr. Lin’s research group is conducting two pilot studies that fit patients with P.S.A.P.s, and “we’re seeing very positive results,” he said.

Dr. Reed will present his findings at the International Hearing Aid Research Conference next month.

Ultimately, both the President’s Council and the National Academies committee recommend that regulators establish a new product category for these over-the-counter devices, sometimes called “hearables.” They’ve urged the F.D.A. to set specifications that ensure safety and effectiveness, and to require that devices meet certain manufacturing standards.

Then consumers can buy them with greater confidence, avoiding the “bundling” system, buttressed by state and federal laws, that makes hearing aids available only through audiologists.

(The exception: You can already buy some hearing aids online, but sometimes the only difference between them and the same devices marketed as P.S.A.P.s is their labeling.)

Industry groups have objected to changing the current setup. But the proposal resembles the way many consumers now buy eyeglasses: Get a prescription from an optician or ophthalmologist, then comparison-shop in stores or online for prices and styles.

Hearing devices require more customization and instruction than glasses. And while glasses can correct vision, no device fully restores normal hearing.

But while F.D.A.-approved hearing aids fitted by audiologists may remain the gold standard for treating hearing loss, P.S.A.P.s may have a place. “Let the consumer find the device online, and then let the audiologist charge an hourly rate to fit it,” Dr. Reed said.

Already, he added, “a lot of savvy people are doing this for themselves,” patching together systems that use over-the-counter electronics and audio equipment.

Richard Einhorn, a Manhattan composer, suddenly lost most of his hearing because of a virus in 2010. He owns high-end hearing aids, but like many users, still struggles in noisy environments like restaurants.

His solution: He removes his hearing aids and turns to his iPhone. “The iPhone has fantastic audio specifications, on par with some professional gear,” said Mr. Einhorn, 63, a board member of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

He relies on an F.D.A.-certified hearing app, the Jacoti ListenApp; a plug-in directional microphone (he uses the Shure Motiv MV88); and quality earphones. (Disclosure: He serves as a consultant for Jacoti.)

Thus equipped, “you can hear really well in situations where even a hearing aid doesn’t work so well,” Mr. Einhorn said.

You’d hope that Medicare would eventually reconsider its policy on covering hearing devices, a step the National Academies report also urged.

The aging of the population means many more Americans will confront age-related hearing loss, and researchers have shown that it contributes not only to social isolation, but to increased risks of falls, poor health and hospitalization, cognitive decline and dementia.

Yet treating hearing loss has been largely an all-or-nothing proposition. You pay an audiologist lots of money, or you blast your TV and ask friends to repeat themselves. A third option, F.D.A.-regulated P.S.A.P.s, might represent a simpler, cheaper solution.

“Do you have to put in a hearing device that’s 100 percent perfect?” Dr. Reed said. “Maybe 85 percent is enough to improve your life.”

Doonesbury — Wear this to remind yourself and others.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Two Tall Women

It’s interesting to note that the two people who have generated the most fulmination out of Donald Trump have two things in common: neither of them are running for president against him, and they’re both women.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cheerfully went after Mr. Trump and he went up like a Roman candle, hurling insults and racist nicknames back at her, much to her delight.  Now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has ventured an opinion on him and Mr. Trump’s response is to question her sanity and demand that she be taken off the court.

No man, not even one running in the primaries, generated such vehemence and eye-popping, vein-throbbing responses.  Mr. Trump dismissed his male challengers much in the same way he sends back an undercooked steak.  But strong women really get under his skin — they always have, apparently — and when they stand up and give back as good as he gives, he’s a sight to behold.

I’ll leave it to the psychologists among you to come up with the reasons for this visceral behavior, but it really does make you wonder about what exactly it is about women that sets him off.

And now he has to run against one in the general election.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Annals of Asshattery

John Kasich schools us on how to prevent rape.

Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich [Friday] told a female college student concerned about “sexual violence, harassment and rape” that she should not “go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

And if you do, well, whatever happens is YOUR FAULT.

Blaming the victim is one of those ways that the conservatives can get anti-abortion legislation whooped through legislatures: hey, you should know better than to have gone to that party or gone out with that guy; it’s not his fault that you had a little too much, young lady.

Yesterday he was aghast that anyone would think he was victim-blaming by saying he’s the victim of being taken out of context.  Then he basically doubled down on what he said in the first place.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fraud Wins

The Los Angeles Times has a detailed report on how the anti-choice group “Center for Medical Progress” conned the nation into believing that Planned Parenthood was selling baby parts.

She was subdued and sympathetic on camera. Her recollections of collecting fetal tissue and body parts from abortion clinics in northern California lent emotional force to the anti-abortion videos that provoked a furor in Congress last summer.

In footage made public last July, Holly O’Donnell said she had been traumatized by her work for a fetal-tissue brokerage. She described feeling “pain…and death and eternity” and said she fainted the first time she touched the remains of an aborted fetus.

Unreleased footage filed in a civil court case shows that O’Donnell’s apparently spontaneous reflections were carefully rehearsed. David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist who made the videos, is heard coaching O’Donnell through repeated takes, instructing her to repeat anecdotes, add details, speak “fluidly” and be “very natural.”

“Let’s try it two more times,” he told her at one point.

Later, O’Donnell protested: “I don’t want to tell that story again. Please don’t make me again, David.”

For more than two years, Daleiden and a small circle of anti-abortion activists went undercover into meetings of abortion providers and women’s health groups. With fake IDs and tiny hidden cameras, they sought to capture Planned Parenthood officials making inflammatory statements. O’Donnell cooperated with the filmmakers, offering an inside view of the fetal tissue trade.

The videos sparked numerous investigations into Planned Parenthood and efforts in Congress to strip the organization of its federal funding.

Now, Daleiden, head of the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress, and his associates contend that they were acting as investigative journalists, seeking to expose illegal conduct. That is one of their defenses in lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood and other groups, accusing them of fraud and invasion of privacy.

But unpublicized footage and court records show that the activists’ methods were geared more toward political provocation than journalism.

The Times and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley took a detailed look at published and unreleased video footage, sworn declarations, excerpts of recorded dialogue and other court records from the lawsuits against Daleiden.

The truth is that in every state investigation into Planned Parenthood’s methods of operation, no one has turned up any wrongdoing.  And yet those states, including Florida, have cut off funding to the agency, some in defiance of federal law.

In short, these “pro-lifers” perpetrated a public fraud, were caught, and are going on trial for it, but they still got away with it because states run by anti-choice Jesus-shouters changed the laws and put women and their families in danger by depriving them of medical services from many clinics, few of which provided legal abortion services.

HT digby.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Of Brick Walls and Glass Ceilings

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville wasn’t always a Hillary Clinton supporter, but now she makes her case.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

This is a view held, and promulgated, by people who have a vested interest in stopping Hillary Clinton, or anyone who espouses even the most rudimentary progressive agenda. People who have long been watchers of and/or participants in the political process, who are old enough and sophisticated enough to know better.

It is also a view held by a startlingly large number of younger people, whose misperceptions are somewhat understandable, given that the ubiquitous campaign of misogyny-based dehumanization of Hillary Clinton has been around longer than they have been alive.

Many observations have been made about the fact that Bernie Sanders polls significantly better than Clinton among young people. (Specifically, young white people.) And I think there are a number of reasons for that, but chief among them is that, as my friend Kate noted, “Twenty-five-year-olds have literally never lived in a time where there weren’t whispers (or nationally televised shouts) about Hillary Clinton’s evil schemes.”

Young people, and people of any age who are newer participants in the political process, are coming to politics at a time when literally decades of demonstrably unfounded smears against Hillary Clinton—or “The Clintons”—have become cemented as historical fact.

I am old enough, and have been an engaged political nerd long enough, to remember Rush Limbaugh’s 1990’s TV show, back when he was busily coining misogynist slurs like “feminazi.” And now I see left-leaning Clinton opponents using those phrases, and invoking the unsubstantiable lore about her aggressive dishonesty and villainy invented by Limbaugh and his cohorts, as though they are something other than the fever dreams of intractably misogynist dirtbags with a nefarious agenda.

[…]

It has taken me years to find the real Hillary Clinton behind a brick wall of impenetrable misogyny.

And this is the reality with which we all need to reckon: A brick wall is infinitely more difficult to shatter than a glass ceiling.

I have said this before and I daresay I will be obliged to say it again: I have not been a reflexive defender (or supporter) of Hillary Clinton the politician. I have made criticisms of her campaigning and her policy. I expect to continue to make them, because I have significant points of disagreement with some of her positions and because she makes mistakes.

I have, however, I will openly admit, become a reflexive defender (and supporter) of Hillary Clinton the person. Certainly, it is partly out of self-interest, because I am myself demeaned and caricatured by misogyny, and because I want to see more female representation in politics and don’t want enormous hurdles standing in their way.

But mostly it is because it profoundly grieves me to see the way she is treated.

It hurts my heart—and it angers me—to have uncovered a person who cares, if imperfectly, so deeply about other people and observe the many ways in which she has been turned into a monster. It is intolerable.

And I flatly refuse to abide the rank dehumanization of Hillary Clinton in silence.

This is not the first time that a candidate who would otherwise be seen as a reasonable, normal human being turned into a caricature or a demon because of some irrelevant feature; say the color of his skin, perhaps.  What’s even worse is when it happens at the hands of those who would normally be allies.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Short Takes

Veto Bait — Senate passes repeal of Obamacare and defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Pentagon opens all combat roles to women.

Massey Energy executive gets convicted on minor charges.

Putin accuses Turkish leaders of being on the take from ISIS oil sales.

Oy: Republican candidates pander to Jewish supporters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Is It With Jeb! and Women?

Via Politico:

Jeb Bush attacked Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, doubling down on his assertion that the organization should not receive any federal funding because it’s not actually tackling women’s health issues.

“I, for one, don’t think Planned Parenthood ought to get a penny though, and that’s the difference because they’re not actually doing women’s health issues,” the Republican presidential candidate said.

Yeah, because breast and cervical cancer screening and contraception have nothing whatsoever to do with women’s health issues.

Can you imagine what deep shit he’d be in if women voted?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

More GOP Outreach To The Womenfolk

Another fine example of how the Republican Party is striving to connect with women voters.

During an interview on Tuesday with religious conservatives, Mr. Bush suggested that the federal government has overfunded women’s health.

“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” Mr. Bush said at a Southern Baptist Convention event in Nashville.

Amid a storm of Democratic mockery, Mr. Bush backtracked within a few hours, saying he had misspoken.

Oh, really?  Do tell.

Failing to provide or fund services such as cancer screening, contraception, or yes, even abortions touch the lives of women, obviously, but they also impact their families, their co-workers, and anyone who cares for a person’s health

But here’s a far better elucidation of the issue from someone far more eloquent than me.  Take it away, Sen. Warren.

I’d like to think that this kind of mindset from Mr. Bush, no matter how much back-tracking he does, will crater his campaign, but knowing the GOP and their base of misogynists, especially when it comes to reproductive rights, he’ll probably see a bump up in the polls.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The New $10 Bill

The Treasury announced that it will redesign the $10 bill by 2020 and it will have a portrait of a woman on it.

The next generation of currency will revolve around the theme of democracy. The first note, the new $10, will feature a notable woman. In keeping with that theme, it’s important that you make your voice heard. Use #TheNew10 to tell us your ideas, symbols, designs or any other feedback that can inform the Secretary as he considers options for the $10 redesign.

Who would you put?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

For the Ladies

The GOP outreach to the women voters of America continues with a double-barreled shot across their bow.

First it’s that fountain of punchlines, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) who turns the gun on his fellow “Republican females” whose objection to draconian abortion laws disappointed him.

“Most of the conference was 100 percent in favor of the bill that was going to be brought to the floor. Some of us were wishing that there would not be any exceptions because it was going to be 20 weeks — no abortions after 20 weeks — when the evidence is clear those babies feel,” Gohmert said on a conference call that included pastor E.W. Jackson, according to a recording published by Raw Story.

Gohmert then said that Republican women split the caucus by opposing the language on the rape exception. He said that opposition to the bill should have been voiced before the legislation made it to the House floor.

“I’m told that they’re still going to bring it back, but because there was such division among our Republican females, they pulled the bill that day,” he said. “And that was extremely unfortunate, and it sent the entirely wrong message.”

The wrong message is, apparently, that women have the right to control their own bodies.

And then there’s the paragon of virtue and clean living Mike Huckabee, who is shocked, shocked, I tell you, to hear women use language that is better suited to a Ted Nugent concert.

Huckabee was discussing his trouble adapting to the “hotbed of the New York culture” on Friday during an interview on the Des Moines-based “Mickelson in the Morning” show.

Until January, Huckabee had commuted to Manhattan to host a weekly Fox News talk show, and he said that working in New York City was like visiting “a different planet.”

“In the South, in the Midwest, here in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the f-bomb and use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting,” Huckabee said. “In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women do it!”

“This would be considered totally inappropriate to say these things in front of a woman,” he added. “And for a woman to say them in a professional setting — we would only assume that this is a very — as we would say in the South, that’s just trashy!”

Here’s a video of Mr. Huckabee’s reaction:

Aunt Pittypat 01-20-15

I can think of any number of women who might have some “trashy” things to say to Gov. Huckabee, but I’m afraid that his delicate nature — not to mention certain parts of his anatomy — couldn’t handle it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Their Level Isn’t The Problem

The Republican outreach to women continues, this time lead by women:

A group of conservative women, mostly members of the Republican Study Committee, met Friday to discuss issues facing women today and how the GOP can better explain how its policies could help.

“The problem here is not necessarily conservative policy, it’s our messaging,” Kim Strassel, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal who was moderating the panel said.

And the panelists agreed.

“We just don’t do a very good job of talking about [GOP policies] sometimes,” said Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

“We have got to do a better job of [telling stories], whether it’s talking about social issues or whether it’s talking about the financial issues and the jobs and the economy,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee.

“It’s how we are able to articulate ourselves – make sure we get the point across that we care,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.

[…]

As for connecting to women specifically, Ellmers drove it home with a line that, had there been liberals in the audience, would have made the news.

“We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go,” Ellmers said. (Emphasis added.)

Um… if you think you’re not doing a good job of connecting with women, maybe it’s because being patronizing and reinforcing 19th century misogynistic stereotypes by women themselves isn’t helping.

HT to Melissa.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dear Mr. Will

An OB/GYN who is also a rape survivor replies to George F. Will’s rancid column on the “coveted status” of being sexually assaulted.

There is no woman who I have ever met personally or as an OB/GYN who thinks that surviving a rape confers some sort of privilege. I am genuinely curious if you interviewed a few young women hoping to earn their college rape badge or is that just a conclusion you reached looking at the issue of sexual assault through the myopic lens of misogyny?

Come spend a day in my clinic Mr. Will. Come see how the scars of rape linger even decades later.

There is no survivor privilege, just survivors.

Wrap your bow tie around that one, George.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Keep It Up

First Rand Paul, now Joe Scarborough.

“If Hillary Clinton attacks the Republican Party’s handling of women, and treatment of women and disrespect for women, and suggests they’re misogynists et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, it does seem to be a fair question to ask right now, a few years out, does the media have a responsibility to say, ‘Well, let’s see what happened when you were in the White House, and how women were treated when you were in the governor’s mansion and the White House?’ Is that fair?” the ‘Morning Joe’ host asked Monday morning, as quoted by Mediaite.

The more Republican men talk about women and the more they try to pin the behavior of the husband on the wife, the closer they get to the event horizon of the black hole of political oblivion.

So just keep talking, Republicans.

Monday, January 27, 2014

News Flash: President Clinton Cheated on Wife

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has some breaking news.

The Democrats, one of their big issues they have concocted says the Republicans are committing a war on women. One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to be — have given President Clinton a pass on this.

He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And that is predatory behavior, and it should, it should be something, we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office.  This isn’t having an affair. I mean, this isn’t me saying, “Oh, he’s had an affair, we shouldn’t talk to him.” Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it’s a factor.

Wait a minute; Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with an intern?  How come we’re just hearing about this now?  Why didn’t the Republicans do something about it at the time?

Seriously, if the Republicans think they can win the war for women by attacking Hillary Clinton for her husband’s behavior, let them go forth and see how that works.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sex Fiends

What is it with Republicans and sex?  Yesterday we got an earful from former Gov. Mike Huckabee on how the Democrats keep women in the party by paying for their contraception because of their roaring libidos — project much, Mr. Huckabee?  Then there’s genius Rep. Louis Gohmert claiming that the government “lures” single women into “servitude” with all the goodies you get from being on welfare, and we all know what he means by “servitude” — wink, wink, nudge nudge.

Of course the moment you mention anything about gay rights or marriage equality, you get a whole bunch of wingers carrying on about gay sex and what those icky people what to in the privacy of their own homes.

It is as if there is no other issue facing single women other than where to get free birth control pills or there’s nothing going on in a gay couple’s life but a big orgy.  How about pay equity?  How about equal access to health coverage?  How about not treating women solely as vessels for childbearing without any control over their own bodies?  How about equal rights for married couples based on their commitment and legal obligations?  How about the hundreds of other issues that straight white males like Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Gohmert take for granted that are routinely curtailed or just denied to women or the LGBT community and it has nothing whatsoever to do with their genitalia or what they do with them?

Grow up, people.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

No Submissions Please

One more shining example of GOP outreach: Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has a book out that tells wives to submit to their husbands.

“The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice,” he writes, citing the Bible. “The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.”

Pearce, who is Baptist, emphasizes repeatedly in the chapter that submission doesn’t mean inferiority but rather that husbands and wives play different roles. He also says it doesn’t mean his wife doesn’t have a say in major decisions.

“The wife’s submission is not a matter of superior versus inferior; rather, it is self-imposed as a matter of obedience to the Lord and of love for her husband,” he writes.

And they wonder why they’re not getting women — and the men who reject this medieval view of matrimony — to vote for them.

This is also one of the reasons the GOP is anti-abortion.  To many of them it goes without saying that women should not have control over their own bodies or be allowed to make decisions about their reproductive health.  They’re not supposed to; the bible says so.

I don’t know Mr. Pearce, and I don’t know his wife, and it’s not my place to comment on his marriage.  Every marriage is different and defined by the people in it and the bond they share, and unless it’s clearly abusive and non-consensual, it’s nobody else’s business as to what goes on in it.  Funny — and by that I mean pathetic — how Mr. Pearce and many of his colleagues won’t grant other people that courtesy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More GOP Outreach

This time it’s Haley Barbour going for the women voters.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) shrugged off the latest accusations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration (R) on Monday by saying they were being made by a “lady mayor.”

Barbour was responding to allegations from Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who accused Christie aides of threatening to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief aid from the city unless the mayor approved a real estate project favored by Christie.

Barbour, a mentor of Christie’s, was asked in an interview with CNN if the accusation hinted at the type of culture within the Christie administration.

“No, I’ll tell you what it gives me concern about, that the news media is willing to leap at any farfetched story with the basis in fact is unbelievable,” Barbour said in an interview with CNN on Monday. “This is a lady mayor who asked for $127 million of hazard mitigation money from the governor to give that to her from the federal money. When the state was only receiving in its entirety $300 million.”

And to show their appreciation for his support, Gov. Christie’s office posted the comments on YouTube.  That’s because the white privileged men really need to explain to everyone else why they should be in charge.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bully For You

One of the more interesting takes from the Chris Christie bridge story is that a number of his supporters actually like it — despite his assurances otherwise, including his press conference pronouncement “I am not a bully” — that Mr. Christie has a reputation as a bully.  They think that it’s a way to get things done, and they have a lot of examples in their corner to back it up: Rush Limbaugh comes to mind.  So does George W. Bush and his enabler/handler Dick Cheney.

To be an effective bully, it helps to have some backup, usually some bootlickers who either agree with them in spirit or who go along in order to avoid being the next target.  “Right, boss; we’ll show those pansy-ass libtards who’s in charge, right boss?”

One of the better examples of this lick-spittle enabling was seen this last weekend on Fox News Sunday where Britt Hume defended Mr. Christie for not only being a tough guy, but for standing up against the “feminization” of the news media.

During a panel discussion on the Fox News show Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz asked if Christie’s “bully image” was hurting him after his administration was accused for closing part of the busiest bridge in the world to hurt his political opponents.

“I have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct and are kind of old-fashioned tough guys run some risks,” Hume opined.

“Feminized!” Fox News contributor Lauren Ashburn gasped.

“Atmosphere,” Hume nodded. “By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like kind of an old-fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which we operate.”

“This guy is very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy,” he added. “And there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”

I’m going to let the softball of whether or not Mr. Christie is “muscular” go by and focus more on the statement that calling out people for being bullies has somehow “feminized” the “atmosphere.”  It’s as if being a decent human being to other people and getting along with them without threatening to beat the shit out of them was some kind of assault on Mr. Christie’s — and by transference, Mr. Hume’s — manhood.  Or to put it more bluntly, being polite and accommodating is a threat to your penis.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out when Hillary Clinton takes the stage.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Girl Talk

The GOP outreach to women marches on.

As Republican candidates figure out how to best win over women voters, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs thinks he has the answer: appeal to their emotions.

In an interview Sunday with WHO-TV in Des Moines, host Dave Price asked Jacobs what the “biggest difference between men and women” is, in terms of reaching out to them as voters.

“I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level,” said Jacobs. “And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I’ve had a lot of coaching on that.”

Yeah, forget all the stuff about pay equity or reproductive rights; they don’t understand all that kind of talk.  Oh, and be sure to catch them at the right time of the month, too.