Nel's New Day

March 8, 2019

Think Equal: International Women’s Day

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 28 members of the world champion United States women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit regarding the lack of pay equity and working conditions. According to the lawsuit, discrimination against the women athletes not only leaves them with much less than pay than men in the soccer field but also restricts their place of play, training, medical treatment, coaching, and even travel accommodations.

The women, stars for over a decade, head to France this summer to defend the Women’s World Cup that they won almost four years ago. Since their third win of the contest in summer of 2015, they have made some gain—doubled prize money pool for the upcoming tournament, the disappearance of artificial turf, and even a chartered flight. Female soccer teams in other countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Norway have made a few gains since protests by the U.S. women’s team.

FIFA, pro soccer teams’ employer, still favor the men by give a pool of $400 million to 32 men’s teams compared to $30 million for 24 women’s teams. According to pay schedules for players participating in 20 games a year, men get an average of $263,320 while women get a maximum of $99,000. That’s after the $17 million more in profit for 2016 that women made over the men. Although the male team lost the 2014 World Cup in Round 16, their bonuses were $5.375; after winning the Cup in 2015, women received $1.725 for bonuses.

Women suffer far worse inequities around the world than lack of pay. Poverty, lack of justice and rights, abuse, poorer health, discrimination in education—all these are just a few of the ways that women are wanting in gender equality. But sports is one area that symbolizes the subjection of women to male values. A recent example occurred in a cycling race in Switzerland. In the annual Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, men started two minutes before women—because women are faster. No matter—Nicole Hanselmann took a big lead over the men’s field, that is, before she was told to sit by the side of the road to “neutralise the women’s race in order to restore the gap between” the men and women’s groups. Maybe the men should have had a five-minute head start so that they could win.

Women ride the Tour de France through traffic and without media on the day before men get the attention, and the women’s Olympic race is half the length of the men’s race. Olympic cycling events for women didn’t exist until 1984, the same year that events included a women’s marathon but almost a century after the modern Olympic revivals in 1896 included these events for men.

Bobbi Gibbs entered the Boston Marathon in 1966 without an application after being told that was told that “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon.” She beat over half the field in 3 hours, 21 minutes. The next year, Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under her initials and beat her boyfriend. Her time of 4 hours, 20 minutes might have been better if the race co-director had not physically attacked her during the race. Not until 1972 did the AAU allow women to run more than a mile and a half.

Other sports still have the  gender restrictions: women play two out of three sets in tennis, but men play three out of five. Men said that the rules are meant to protect women’s “reproductive organs” from undue endurance. In the beginning, women’s cycling threatened men because women gained independence with their own transportation. The lack of chaperones caused people to refer to bicycles as “prostitution on wheels.” The reason for gender inequality is to show women that we are inferior.

Other inequalities in sports:

In the U.S., 40 percent of sportspeople are women, but only six to eight percent of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. Women-only sports stories comprise just 3.5 percent of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.

Each year, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships—50 percent more—than female athletes receive.

Colleges and universities spend only 24 percent of their athletic operating budgets on female sports and just 16 percent of recruiting budgets for women.

Coaches for college women’s team sports earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by head coaches of men’s teams.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup soccer final was the most watched soccer match—male or female—but its players were far less compensated than male soccer players. In professional soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League has a pay ceiling per player of just $37,800 compared to an average of more than $300,000 and a median of about $100,000 for men’s Major League Soccer. Each team in the NWSL has a salary cap of just $265,000—compared to more than $3 million for men.

Of total commercial investment, 0.4 percent goes into women’s sport.

People who discriminate against women in sports claim that they won’t receive any attention, that the public wants to watch only men play. This attitude, however, comes from the top. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes news with male championship sports teams, either being rebuffed by them or feeding them fast foods like hamburgers and pizza. Yet he has not invited one female championship team to the White House to honor them on a solo visit—not the 2018 women’s NCAA basketball champions Notre Dame, not the 2017 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, nor the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm. The latest invitation, however, was a men’s lower-division NCAA football championship team, the first one invited since Bill Clinton’s time. Every other president going back to Ronald Reagan invited the women’s NCAA basketball champions. Here’s President Obama with the 2016 NCAA winners.

Politics this year has brought out the worst—thus far—in conservative misogyny. From the minute that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected a Democratic U.S. representative from New York, journalists stalked her, intent on photographing her from behind, questioning how much she pays for her clothes, why she took an Uber instead of the subway. A Texas city council member called her a “bimbo,” and one of her congressional colleagues yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!”  Conservative pundits call her a “little girl” and fantasize about dating her. On The View, Meghan McCain said she was “really surprised” that Ocasio-Cortez had asked an intelligent question at Michael Cohen’s House hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has the same political views, but it’s the conservatives who cried at CPAC that Ocasio-Cortez wants to “take your hamburgers” and replaced incessant smears of Hillary Clinton to those directed at Ocasio-Cortez.

The hatred and sexism directed toward Ocasio-Cortez moved to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she criticized the control of Israel over U.S. policy. For decades, GOP congressional members and conservative media protected rampant racism from colleagues and now fail to call out their racist president while becoming livid about Omar’s suggestion that candidates receive millions of dollars to oppose Palestine and support Israel. The attacks didn’t start with her supposed anti-Semitic remarks used to revile her; threats against her began before she was sworn into the 116th Congress also because of her Islam religion. Every word she uses, even “hypnotize,” is classified as an “anti-Semitic trope” while DDT and other white male GOP congressional members escape any criticism. Yet 23 of them voted against all expressions of prejudice such as racism, Islamophobia, and anti-LGBTQ rights except for anti-Semitism. Omar is even being blamed for the spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes that began with DDT’s election.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, said that while anti-Semitism is a “hateful and dangerous ideology,” it must not be confused with criticism of Israel’s government under the right-wing leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Sanders in defending Omar because they, too, have suffered from the misogyny, especially since the women declared their candidacies for the 2020 presidential election. After condemning Hillary Clinton for being too “icy,” pundits slam Warren for being “aloof” and Harris for connecting with audiences “too much.” For weeks, opinionists agonized over whether the women presidential candidates were “authentic” and found stories to show that they are phonies. Warren’s oral history of Native American background from the 1980s appears again and again—and again. (The same people overlook DDT’s 9,000 lies.) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was attacked for talking about how to eat fried chicken, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is “mean.” Authenticity for women is being a secretary or staff member.

The theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” Almost half the Democrats running for president in 2020 are women, and a pro sports team is suing for equality. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are making changes in Congress along with the other 108 Democratic women plus their allies. These changes plus millions of others may bring women into the 21st century.

August 19, 2015

Lawmakers Learn Sexism in School

Republican lawmakers have a solution for legislators who can’t keep their hands off interns: just make the interns—female, of course!—follow an “intern dress code.” The idea, promoted by Republicans, came to a screeching halt after Democrats’ disgust, social media firestorms, and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s ire, but it got a lot of publicity and made Missouri Republicans look even more misogynistic than they’ve appeared in the past.

McCaskill’s letters to the lawmakers promoting the idea pointed out its sexism, stating that it “reeks of a desire to avoid holding fully accountable those who would prey upon young women and men seeking to begin honorable careers in public service.” She knows whereof she speaks: McCaskill was harassed when she was a legislative intern decades ago.

The issue went viral after House Speaker John Diehl, a “family values” conservative, was forced to resign because his sexually suggestive texts with a 19-year-old House intern became public. That was two months before state Sen. Paul LeVota resigned because two interns accused him of sexual harassment.

A request for reviewing a proposed new “intern code” resulted in the answer, “intern dress code.” Another representative agreed, emailing his colleagues:

“We need a good, modest, conservative dress code for both the males and females. Removing one more distraction will help everyone keep their focus on legislative matters.”

A third Republican, this one a woman, supported the idea by stating that dress codes are common in the workplace.

Sanity returned, however, when another representative asked, “We’re really not going to require interns to dress so we’re less distracted, are we?” He added, “All we need is a code of ethics and a penalty provision.” Another response got to the crux of the matter: “The finger is being pointed at the young, female interns. [The dress code should be] “the same as for everyone in the House.”

For the information of all those conservatives who think that female interns are at fault for all the infidelity, a handbook for interns already has a dress code:

“Those engaged in [lawmaking] must dress professionally and appropriately. Men are required to wear a jacket and necktie for admission to the side galleries of the House Chamber. Women should dress in appropriate business attire (such as dress, suit, dress slacks and jacket).”

As one representative said, the problem is “harassing interns,” not a dress code. He added, “If my plaid jacket or the sight of a woman’s bare knee distracts you from your legislative duties, I would look for other work.”

Dozens of women—including current and former interns, legislative aides, lobbyists and lawmakers—have told the Kansas City Star that sexual harassment in the Capitol is commonplace. One of them claimed that the prevalence of this harassment “has nothing to do with what a female wears. This is not the 1950s. Harassment in the workplace is illegal and a woman’s attire does not give anyone the right to harass, regardless if they feel distracted.”

Taylor Hirth and Alissa Hembree, the interns who blew the whistle on LeVota’s alleged sexual harassment, released a joint statement expressing disappointment in the newly proposed intern code:

“Suggestions requiring certain GPAs, increased supervision and mandatory dress codes suggest that the interns are lacking in quality, knowledge, or character and are in some way to blame for the harassment they experience. Additionally, it implies that those perpetuating this behavior are unable to control their own behaviors.”

In an opinion piece, Mary Sanchez took on the misogynists:

“Gentlemen of Jefferson City, please refrain from veering off track.

“There is one sure way to end the sexist, slovenly behavior of some male politicians toward female college interns and other women working in, or elected to, our state capital. Demand that men behave properly. Focus there….

“The proposal [for a new dress code] was a centuries-old patriarchal paradigm: Shift the guilt so that the woman is chastised and monitored, lest she lead the innocent man astray. As if the sight of a knee uncovered unleashes a torrent of hormones that men simply cannot control.

“The errant male politicians need to change. Not the women who have been forced to deal with the juvenile antics of some representatives, senators and lobbyists.

“And yet the idea to focus on the women’s behavior, via their dress, was among the fastest replies to sprout. It’s backward thinking. Worse, it comes from people who make laws for the rest of us. As much as I’m a stickler for appropriate business dress for both men and women, this misses the point.

“Men should have been offended too. The idea assumed that they are weak, unable to control themselves at the sight of an attractive woman. It implied that men will be men. And it’s up to the women to be on guard.

“The onus is on the elected officials to behave with respect for themselves, the intern, the political office that they hold. College interns are there to learn about good government, not to prop up some middle-aged man’s faltering ego….

“The most effective means to curb sexism in Jefferson City will likely occur informally. Sexual harassment at the capital will cease to be a problem when men hold other men accountable.”

Men learn the belief that women should be responsible for controlling the male libido early on. School dress codes are meant to protect males, both students and faculty, by keeping girls covered up. One example is Woodford County High School (Kentucky) where Stacie Dunn’s daughter Stephanie was sent home for showing her collarbone that “may distract their male class mates.” Dunn took a scarf for her daughter to cover up the offensive collarbone, but the principal sent her home anyway for giving him “an attitude.” Apparently, the scarf still didn’t cover enough.

stephanie

Superintendent Scott Hawkins tried to justify the dress code because it had been in effect for over 10 years. He said, “The whole idea behind the dress code is to make sure you have a safe learning environment and that’s what we’re trying to create.” In Kentucky, dress codes are set by school districts and not separate campuses.

Last March, student Maggie Sunseri made a documentary of interviews with female students and school principal, Rob Akers. In the 33-minute film, “Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code,” the 33-minute film Girls said they felt embarrassed and ashamed after being “called out” for “revealing” outfits. They also talked about having trouble finding acceptable clothing and being forced to miss class. Rules weren’t uniformly enforced, according to the interviewees.

Akers justified the removal of distraction as the reason for dress codes because “guys would make inappropriate statements.” The girls, however, said it was unfair to limit their clothing instead of dealing with the boys who harassed them. “It sends the message to boys that it’s all girls’ fault, basically—any reaction or any action that they do is the girl’s fault,” one girl said in the film.

Sunseri said her film was about “the underlying message behind a code that tells young women to cover up and young boys that they can’t control themselves.” The 16-year-old high school junior said the dress code is sexist toward both girls and boys in that it “perpetuates the notion that a woman’s body is inherently more sexual than a man’s body, and that young boys’ natural tendencies are to harass or assault women.”

No wonder some male Missouri lawmakers cannot control their libido: they may never have seen a collarbone.

 

August 8, 2015

Conservatives Define U.S. Morality, Work to Increase Abortions

Planned Parenthood stayed a punching bag for GOP presidential candidates during last Thursday’s debate, and  financially well-off conservatives continue to propagate the myth that the organization is “selling” fetal tissue. Anti-choice was so rampant during the debate that Scott Walker refused to say that he would save a woman’s life at the expense of a fetus, and Marco Rubio was forced into claiming that he would oppose abortions for victims of rape and incest. Politicians, however, may have misjudged what they consider the extent of revulsion of the group providing health care for millions of poorer people in the United States.

A majority of people has favorable opinions about Planned Parenthood—even after the release of the highly doctored videos—and a plurality of respondents opposes banning Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds. Three quarters of people in the U.S. believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape. One in five people in the United States have gone to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health services, 29 percent of the women and ten percent of the men. Even worse for the Republicans, a 60 percent to 25 percent margin of women have positive responses about Planned Parenthood, and women are the voters that the GOP has progressively lost. Planned Parenthood is more popular than the NRA, which is calling most of the shots in the country in gun issues.

Thursday’s debate lost women’s approval not only by its bashing of Planned Parenthood but also from its refusal to decry Donald Trump’s sexist remarks. Not one candidate refuted his demeaning statements about women’s bodies until today, when they deemed it safe to criticize him. Even Carly Fiorina refused to denounce Trump’s comments and only said, “It’s not helpful to call people names…. Some Republicans do that. Some Democrats do that.”

Moderator Megyn Kelly called out Trump for his statements about women but said nothing to Walker after he waffled on her question, “Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?” And nobody asked the real question, “Did the candidates support a move to shut down the government over their party’s failed attempt to defund Planned Parenthood?” Fox couldn’t because an answer would show who was willing to hurt their party, something that moderator Bret Baier excoriated Trump for, after the candidate said he wouldn’t refuse to run as a third-party candidate.

Jeb Bush bragged that he defunded Planned Parenthood while he was Florida governor. In 2001, he cut over $300,000 from women’s health services, the annual amount that Planned Parenthood had received for over a decade. Here’s what happened by 2014:

  • Florida ties with Arkansas and Oklahoma for the worst state for a woman’s well-being.
  • The uninsured rate for women grew to 25 percent, second only to Texas.
  • About 20 percent of women in Florida are in fair, poor or ill health, ranking 13th in that category in all states and territories.
  • About 20 percent of women lack access to a personal doctor, physician, or general healthcare provider in Florida, three percentage points higher than the national average.
  • Florida ranks 46th in the number of women who have had a pap smear in the last 3 years.
  • Of Florida’s 67 counties, 23—over one-third—lack an OB-GYN.
  • Women must travel more than an hour just to see a doctor in most parts of Florida.

Every state in the U.S. could look like this if Jeb Bush—or other Planned Parenthood naysayers—became president. Bush said, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” When Fiorina questioned him about this statement, he said, “My record as governor of the state of Florida was we expanded women’s health spending through community-based care.” The above statistics show Bush’s “misrepresentations” and what happened when he moved the money to “community-based care.”

Despite the current braggadocio, defunding Planned Parenthood could face serious legal challenges. Medicaid law allows beneficiaries the right to pick their own health care providers as long as these providers accept Medicaid. Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee have been blocked in their efforts to cut off Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood. Susan Fogel, director of reproductive health for the National Health Law Program, said that stripping the organization’s Medicaid funding likely would be ruled discriminatory.

The failed Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood would also not cover the gap in women’s health services if Planned Parenthood were defunded. The organization provides preventive health services—cancer screenings, family planning, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, well-woman exams, etc.—for about 2.7 million people annually. Planned Parenthood clinics account for 10 percent of all U.S. federally funded health centers and serve 36 percent of total clients who seek care at facilities that receive public funding. More than half these centers are in rural or medically underserved places.

Community health centers may not be able to provide this full range of sexual and reproductive services. Only 29 percent of these centers report that their largest clinics prescribe and dispense all types of contraceptive methods on-site but instead give referrals for some contraceptive methods. Defunding Planned Parenthood means less dissemination of contraception; less contraception means a higher rate of unwanted pregnancy, especially in teenagers; more unwanted pregnancies means a higher rate of abortion whether safely legal or dangerously illegal. Conservatives’ desire to defund Planned Parenthood results is the opposite of what they claim they want—fewer abortions.

Pleased with the bad press for Planned Parenthood, over a dozen states have each announced investigations into Planned Parenthood. Thus far, not one of them has discovered any wrong-doing on the part of the affiliates in their state.

An editorial in the conservative Washington Post has called for a stop on “the vendetta against Planned Parenthood.” It explains how the videos showcase “distorted” information “to paint an inaccurate and unfair picture of a health organization that provides valuable services to women—as well as to demonize research that leads to important medical advances—[which] doesn’t matter to antiabortion activists. Or, sadly, to the politicians who pander to them.” The Post continues:

“None of the videos released shows anything illegal and, in fact, the full footage of Planned Parenthood executives meeting with people presumed to be buyers for a human biologics company include repeated assertions that clinics are not selling tissue but only seeking permitted reimbursement costs for expenses….”

Meanwhile male lawmakers are preening themselves on the important part that they play in giving birth. For example, this from Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) who calls abortion a “men’s issue”:

“I’m a dad of two daughters. I had something to do with the birth as well, and was also there. I was there during the sonograms. My wife and I are extremely close. And to be a dad of two daughters, I’m very passionate, not only about my own wife, but about my mom, who’s a cancer survivor—multiple-time cancer survivor—I’m passionate about my daughters having every single opportunity.”

He also thinks that he should make decisions for every other woman in the United States.

Other conservatives are even crazier in discussing the issue. Fox’s Eric Bolling said that the doctored videos about Planned Parenthood are “far worse” than “the beheading videos of ISIS.” He concluded, “They literally made me nauseous, don’t watch them.” (These are videos that Fox frequently plays.)

Mike Huckabee would stop abortions with “the FBI or federal forces,” if he is to be believed.

The vast majority of people shocked by the Planned Parenthood videos mostly likely have not seen them; they just listen to how conservatives try to build horror in their aim to get money and votes. In fact, the videos discuss a processing fee—no profit—for fetal tissue donated by women who terminated their pregnancies. The National Institutes of Health funds medical research from the donations that makes lives better for people around the world. This research includes treatment for cytomegalovirus causing enlarged spleens and seizures in newborns, neuro-developmental disorders, polio (fetal kidney cells created the first vaccine), chicken pox, rubella, and shingles. The tissue for the last three disorders came from two elective abortions performed in the 1960s.

For almost a century, fetal tissue research has been vital to vaccine development. In the past twenty years, fetal tissue research has been extensively used to develop treatments for disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Conservatives don’t object to the research; they’re trying to stop safe, legal abortions.

At the same time that they express disgust at talking about fetal tissue over lunch, conservatives talk over lunch about how to destroy people’s lives, take money from the poor who are already homeless and hungry, eliminate education and jobs, permit the wealthy to hide more of their money from taxes, and kill people in a large number of countries. To them, this behavior is moral whereas women’s control of their own bodies is immoral. The defensive attitude by more progressive politicians permits conservatives to frame morality for the United States, and everyone except the wealthy is losing the battle.

October 15, 2014

How Outrageous Can GOP Politicians Get? Part I

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 10:04 PM
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The GOP has been able to naysay much of President Obama’s agenda during his past six years, but it has accomplished one major achievement other than the massive gridlock disgusting all facets of the U.S. population. Through the GOP’s constant negativity, it has convinced many people that they would do better if people under them in the income food change made even less money. Instead of looking up at the people who get richer and richer because of their abusive behavior toward the middle class, they look down with contempt on the poor to justify denying them anything. People who work hard but can’t even make a living are blamed for their poverty. Thanks to conservatives, hard work no longer has any dignity. They believe that if people want more money, they should just work harder to better themselves.

Through massive donations to elect conservatives and wide-spread gerrymandering after the 2010 election, congressional GOP candidates are making big plans about what they will do after they take over the Senate and House in less than three weeks. No matter what they are saying on the campaign trail, they intend to carry out the following if they get into control:

Slash Spending: No money to protect the country except for defense and draconian cuts everywhere including health care and Social Security.

Roll Back Financial Reform: No Wall Street regulation despite the popularity of that move and loss of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created to protect customers.

Repeal Obamacare: Eradication of such benefits as no pre-existing conditions, children remaining on parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, no caps, no subsidies for the poor—on and on.

Shut Down the Country: Another debacle like the last one that cost the economy $700 billion in economic activity and two million jobs.

Around the country, GOP candidates are spewing their hatred for a large segment of the U.S. population, beginning with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who hopes to be Majority Leader in a few short weeks.

His state was one of the most successful in obtaining health care for people. Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the nation, 39th in the nation followed by ten other Southern states, and a massive education campaign allowed hundreds of thousands of people to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act. In just that state, 531,000 people signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act, 75 percent of them previously uninsured. That’s almost ten percent of the state’s population with health insurance who did not have it before “Obamacare.”

McConnell wants to destroy this although he said, “It’s fine to have a website, yeah.” Evidently, he wants to do away with the federal subsidy that makes insurance more affordable for most of his constituents but keep the website. McConnell also said that “Obamacare” would cost the nation 2.5 million jobs. What the nonpartisan CBO said, however, is that the law allows 2.5 million people to leave the workforce because they don’t have to be afraid of health costs.

Another big issue in Kentucky is the minimum wage: Mitch McConnell is opposed to even a modest $10.10 per hour. Opponent Alison Grimes accused him of getting “rich while consistently voting to keep Kentucky poor and we can’t have a senator like that any longer.” McConnell justified his wealth by saying that he inherited it with no mention of his $193,400 annual salary. With a net wealth of $22.8 million, he’s also in the top 10 percent of wealthiest senators. His wife’s inheritance came from her father who imported Chinese goods into the United States. Identifying himself as a member of the “party of the private sector,” McConnell has never had a private sector job.

Among all the offensive actions of GOP candidates, my vote for the worst goes to former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, now running for the same position in New Hampshire after he lost to Elizabeth Warren two years ago. His opponent is again a woman, this time incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. This video at the University of New Hampshire shows how he smiled while his audience shouted such epithets as “F**k Jeanne Shaheen,” “F**k Elizabeth Warren,” and “F**k her right in the p**y.” There were also references to one of the two women as a “c**t.” Tweets indicated that Brown also gave beer to undergrads at the event. Brown also displayed sexism toward earlier opponents, Warren and Martha Coakley.

AP A NH USA Democrats BucklyAnother New Hampshire misogynist, state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, wrote that U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) will likely lose her House seat because she’s “ugly as sin” and “looks matter in politics.” His diatribe continued by saying, “I hope I haven’t offended sin.” Vaillancourt finds Kuster’s GOP opponent, Marilinda Garcia (left), the right level of attractiveness—not too much and not too little. Even Garcia was appalled at these statements.

marilinda-garciaann-mclane-kuster

Some religious people claim that the new rulings in favor of marriage equality are responsible for Ebola, but Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has another reason: President Obama has brought the virus to the United States to take control of the country through emergency powers. The legislator has made up “Executive order 1332 or 33” and claims that the information is in Forbes. Last week, conservative columnist Morgan Brittany may have planted the seed for Stockman’s conspiracy theory by writing, “My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning.” Only one person in the country has died from Ebola. That case was in Stockman’s state of Texas where bad health protocol sent away a man with a temperature of 103 degrees who said that he had come from a country where Ebola is killing people.

Adding to the “I’m not a scientist” response to avoid answers about human-caused climate change, denier Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) says, “I am a scientist.” After a BS in biology 40 years ago, he went on to graduate from medical school and now works as general surgeon. Denying pays well: the oil and gas industry was his third biggest donor for the past election. He claims he hasn’t found any scientific evidence about human-created climate change although peer-reviewed science literature has a 97-percent agreement that carbon emissions—caused by people—are a major cause of climate change.

Jim Bob Duggar isn’t running for anything except maybe greatest procreator (19 children with wife Michelle and counting), but he has been an Arkansas state representative. He explains that “the pill can allow women to get pregnant, but then it can be aborted.” He learned that from a “Christian doctor.” As some doctors in Congress prove, they can be very ignorant.

Georgia GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, David Perdue, felt that the North Carolina-based textile maker Pillowtex and its largest financial backer, Oaktree Capital Management, had no understanding of “the vulnerability that I was in.” The former Pillowtex CEO squeezed at least $1.2 million upon his leaving when the company went bankrupt and 7,600 people lost their jobs. Of that sum, $700,000 went to pay taxes because his Reebok stock did so well.

Running as a “job creator,” Perdue wants to create jobs in other countries instead of the United States. When asked about his career of outsourcing, he said, “I’m proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day.”

GOP Jeff Bell is 20 points behind his opponent, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, among women voters. This statement might explain why:

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and looked at a lot of different polls, I think it has more to do with the rise in single women. Single mothers particularly are automatically Democratic because of the benefits. They need benefits to survive, and so that kind of weds them to the Democratic Party.”

Some GOP legislators are so far over the edge that the Republicans don’t know what to do. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has consistently been on TV to tell people that ISIS militants are coming to the U.S. across the Mexican border. Both the U.S. and Mexico have claimed that he’s 100 percent wrong, but Hunter claims he has a “secret source.” When asked about it, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), 2016 presidential possible, answered, “It could happen.” Not a very useful answer. Then he said that they should get answers from the administration. But they already have: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called the allegations “categorically false.”

There’s more about outrageous GOP candidates tomorrow in Part II.

March 28, 2014

Christie’s Solution: Blame the Women

The dangerous traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to New York happened almost seven months ago, but Gov. Chris Christie’s problems aren’t going away.

Earlier this week, Christie released a report from his personal lawyer exonerating him at a $1-million cost to the state’s taxpayers. The 344-page report was prepared for the man who Christie calls a “very dear friend,” the man who Christie award a lucrative corporate-monitoring contract in 2007. The $650-per-hour guy did leave a few holes. Investigators didn’t interview David Wildstein, the former director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who was targeted as the person behind the lane closures. They also didn’t talk with Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepien, the governor’s former campaign manager. Nor did they talk to David Samson, Port Authority chair and Christie ally who is also involved in the cover-up. All four of these people no longer work for Christie.

Also in the report:

  • Kelly sent the eight-word “time for traffic problems in Fort Lee” email the day after she checked on whether the Fort Lee mayor had endorsed Christie. He didn’t, and Kelly wrote that this was all she needed to know.
  • Wildstein said that Christie knew about the closure when it was happening although the governor gave different times when he was asked–maybe weeks afterward, maybe right after the lanes reopened, maybe during the closures. Although Wildstein told Christie about it at a 9/11 memorial on the third day of the closures, the report just states that Christie didn’t pay much attention to is. The lead lawyer, Randy Mastro, said, “There are traffic problems all the time with the bridges and tunnels, so that would not be a significant event, a memorable event.”
  • Stepian also knew that the closure was for retribution. Before it happened, he called it one of Wildstein’s “50 crazy ideas.” Stepian also received angry forwarded emails from the Fort Lee mayor during the closure, called the mayor an “idiot” in notes to Wildstein, and praised him for his savvy. While the report provides this information, it claims, “We found no evidence [that Stepian] knew of the ulterior motive here, besides the claimed purpose of conducting a traffic study.”

The report’s conclusion blames only two people: Wildstein and Kelly. The report insinuates that Kelly orchestrated the closures because she had been “personally involved” with Stepian and he had dumped her. Kelly is described as “emotional,” “erratic,” and a liar. The references to her as a recently divorced mom add to the “slut-shaming.” By reporting that “events in Kelly’s personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind,” the authors suggest that her female emotional distress led her to cause the traffic jam that affected tens of thousands of commuters.

Even Stepian thought the report went too far. His lawyer released a statement denouncing the report’s “gratuitous reference” to Stepian’s “brief” relationship with Kelly as “a regrettable distraction.”

The report also alleges that Kelly asked an aide to delete an incriminating email at the beginning of the investigation. Mastro’s report heaps blame on Kelly, noting that Kelly got Stepian’s old job “though she lacked Stepien’s expertise and background.” One of the criticisms of Christie was that he canceled meetings with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. The report accused Kelly of canceling the meetings although documentation clearly shows otherwise.

Another finding of the report is that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s claims, that Christie refused Sandy recovery funds to her city because she didn’t support a Christie-supported development, is “demonstrably false” and “do not match objective reality.”

Proof that Zimmer didn’t feel strong-armed, according to the investigators, came from a video tape of a PBS political panel. She yawned. “A person does not normally yawn when being threatened, coerced, or spoken to improperly,” according to the report. And she smiled.  “Yawning during the middle of commissioner constable’s statements and then smiling during the end of his statements is hardly the demeanor one would expect of someone who is actually being threatened,” stated the report.  There was no mention of whether any of the men involved in the scandal either yawned or smiled.

Notable about the report is that there is no documentation of what the investigators claim to have examined. No text messages, emails, or other documents. As Rachel Maddow said, “They just published this one long narrative today, with unrelenting, glowing, gauzy characterizations of Governor Christie’s strength and leadership and character throughout this difficult time.”

MSNBC’s conservative show Morning Joe, unflaggingly supportive of Christie during the scandal, is shocked by the report. Mark Halperin called the attacks on Kelly “sexist and gratuitous,” and Joe Scarborough compared Mastro to “Baghdad Bob.” Christie may escape from this one, too, because both the men are blaming Mastro, and not Christie. The man hired to prepare the report may be the next Christie associate to get thrown under the bus.

Even Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, found the report wanting. “The idea that this is an independent report and that [Randy Mastro is] not basically a lawyer for the defense I found almost laughable,” he said.

For $1 million, taxpayers got the following advice: administration staff should be restricted from using personal email accounts to conduct official business, and Christie should hire an ethics officer. If so, that person might want to work with Christie and his lawyers on sensitivity training.

This weekend, Christie is still following his dreams of being president as he heads to Las Vegas to get campaign money out of Sheldon Adelson at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting. He’ll need more than money to overcome his overt sexist bullying.

The bridge closure was a non-story until a transportation reporter for Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal metro New York section started to follow it. Large chunks of the report show Christie followers frantically responding to questions and articles from Ted Mann. When Rachel Maddow picked up on the story, it went viral, and the media hasn’t let go. Without the Fifth Estate, Christie might have easily sailed to the top of the GOP presidential heap and even gone on to run the country.

Although Christie claims that he had done nothing to close the bridge lanes, the constitutional question, shown by Richard Nixon’s dilemma, is whether he knew anything about it when it was happening. The report doesn’t address that issue. Yet his press conference today showed the old Christie as he responded to reporters’ questions. “I don’t know whether you can’t take notes or you can’t listen,” he said to one of them and then before called his question “awful and beneath the job you hold.” He snapped at another one when he cut off her question, “You have to get the facts right if you’re going to ask me a question.”

Christie and Mastro may have gone too far with their misogyny.  Kelly is known as a determined, honest, hard-working person. Today her lawyer issued a statement:

“There appear to be two distinct versions of the George Washington Bridge lane closings. On the one hand, Mr. Wildstein, through his counsel, has taken one clear position. On the other hand, Mr. Mastro has staked a different view. Thus, Ms. Kelly’s evidence could be critical to verifying either of the two competing versions of events… The only credible investigation into the lane closings is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. If Ms. Kelly were provided with the appropriate procedural safeguards, she will be fully cooperative and provide truthful and complete answers to any questions asked of her by the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”

It’s like a badly written novel that we can’t stop readingl.

May 28, 2013

Facebook Guidelines Need to be Changed

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM
Tags: , , , ,

MySpace was a popular social network several years ago, but it was quickly taken over by Facebook and pretty much disappeared. Now, the most popular social network is showing very bad judgment.

Last week, protesters boycotted Facebook advertising because the network permitted images of domestic violence against women at the same time that it banned ads about women’s health. Companies that pulled their advertising include online bank Nationwide UK, Nissan UK, and J Street. Dove, a Unilever brand running a “self-esteem” ad campaign for women, faces pressure on Twitter although Procter & Gamble responded, “We can’t control what content they [our advertising] pops up next to. Obviously it’s a shame that our ad happened to pop up next to it.”

Zappos replied that users upset by an ad appearing next to a date rape image “click the X to delete the ad.” Zipcar is still advertising but “expressed to Facebook the critical need to block this content from appearing.” Audible will also keep its advertising on Facebook:

“Audible does not condone or endorse violence against women,” but it “takes pride in and respects the rules that govern our Facebook community and because of this we do not delete negative posts. However, we must delete, and will continue to delete, any content that contains offensive, graphic images.”

As of this morning, 15 companies have disassociated from Facebook advertising.

A Facebook spokesperson said that content featuring battered women, rape, and violence falls under “poor taste” or “crude attempts at humor, but it does not violate its policies. The network screens anti-Semitic, Islamaphobic, and homophobic hate speech but not images of violence against women. At the same time, Facebook rejected an ad about breast cancer because it showed a woman’s breast.

The ad about breast cancer disputes false claims that abortion causes higher instances of breast cancer. The company argued that the ad violated their guidelines preventing the “advertising [of] adult products or services, including toys, videos, or sexual enhancement products.” The ad linked to a page on the National Cancer Institute website reassuring women that “having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.”

Michelle Kinsey Bruns, the online manager of Women’s Media Center and the creator of the ad, said that the rejection shows “the absolute inconsistency that Facebook is willing to apply to a woman’s body as an object of violence, but a woman’s body as a medical object is too scandalous to be approved.”

Also removed from Facebook have been images of “mastectomies, breastfeeding mothers, and other non-sexualized depictions of women’s bodies” and labeling them as “pornographic,” while allowing photographs and forums that make light of abusing and raping women. That content often falls under the “humor” section of Facebook’s content guidelines.

Examples of what Facebook refused to remove—because of the “humor”—are a page titled “Slapping Hookers in the Face with a Shoe” and a picture of a woman lying in a pool of blood with the slogan “I like her for her brains.”

In The Guardian, Emer O’Toole defined the problem:

“The [protest]holds a mirror up to a pervasive element of our culture that many either fail to acknowledge or aggressively insist that feminists laugh off. Officially, violent misogyny is not condoned, and most corporations won’t endanger their brands by being associated with it. Unofficially, violent misogyny is still very much de rigueur. Facebook is a conduit between these official and unofficial attitudes to women and, as such, provides an opportunity for radical intervention.”

Since the protest started a week ago, over 100 women’s movement and social justice organizations have become involved, and people have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5000 emails in an attempt to end gender-based hate speech on Facebook.

The petition that people signed had four demands. The first one reads:

“Make a public statement that rape is never acceptable; that promoting sexual violence and violence against women is repugnant; that Facebook will remove content that advocates rape, sexual violence, and violence against women; and that the terms of service/community standards will be updated to specify this.”

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was under fire because his political group to back immigration reform switched to spending millions of dollars on ads promoting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Activist organizations, including MoveOn.org, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Progressives United, suspended Facebook advertising in protest. Zuckerberg’s PAC, supposedly a progressive organization, also ran ads praising Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for trying to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for attacking Obamacare.

According to activist Soraya Chemaly, Facebook plans to change its approach to hate speech. The response from Facebook read:

”We prohibit content deemed to be directly harmful, but allow content that is offensive or controversial. We define harmful content as anything organizing real world violence, theft, or property destruction, or that directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual (e.g. bullying).

“We realize that our defense of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as license to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence.”

Toward that end, they said that they would review and update their guidelines and update training for teams who evaluate reports of “hateful speech or harmful content on Facebook.” In addition, Facebook  claims it “will increase the accountability of the creators of content that does not qualify as actionable hate speech but is cruel or insensitive by insisting that the authors stand behind the content they create.”

We all need to watch Facebook and see if they live up to their promises.

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