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.

April 11, 2016

April 12: Equal Pay Day

Pay women less for doing the same job? There must be good reasons. Charge men more for cupcakes at a bake sale? Outrageous! That was the response to a fund-raiser at the University of Queensland of Australia for the women’s charity Share the Dignity to the point of death threats. The hosting organizations, Women’s Collective and women’s department of the student union, announced:

“Each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods [will] cost you $1.00!).”

Facebook posts included missing the “good ole days” when you could “beat a woman with a stick.” Reading the vile statements, some students responded, “I didn’t believe feminism was still relevant until I started reading all the comments.”

Australian women make 17.3 percent less than their male peers for the same work; in the U.S. women are paid about 22 percent less than men. Each year, Equal Pay Day, this year April 12, commemorates the gender gap to demonstrate how much longer women must work in the year to make as much as men do in the former year. The event is always on a Tuesday because that day represents how far into the next work week that women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.

The GOP and Fox network deny any pay disparity between the genders, claiming that women are not as smart or hardworking and that women are too emotional. Researchers, however, have discovered a cultural factor that shapes workplace gender roles—and gender salaries: religiosity. A three-percent increase in a state’s religiosity relates to a one-percent increase in gender wage-gap. In traditional Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—women are the family caregivers, meaning that they should be in the home, giving care. Religion conditions employers to believe that women should not work outside the home, affecting hiring, layoffs, and wages.

Presidential candidates follow the conservative pattern of gender pay gap. The “religiosity” test holds true for presidential candidate campaign workers. Joanna Rothkopf published an analysis of pay and discovered significant gender wage disparities in four of them. Bernie Sanders’ campaign had no women among the top highest-paid staffers during her research. Rothkopf used year-end finance reports for the last quarter of 2015 to answer these questions:

  • Do presidential campaigns employ a comparable number of women to men?
  • Do they pay female employees equitably?
  • Are an equal number of women given leadership roles and salaries to match?

She included only employees who received at least four paychecks and made a minimum projected annual salary of $24,000 during the quarter.

Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who provides equal gender pay for equal work. The Cruz campaign pays men an average of $20,000 more than women. John Kasich had one woman among the top ten staffers. He paid men about $5,000 more on the overall average and $15,000 more on a median salary. Trump’s male employees receive an average of $3,000 more than the women. Details are available here.

A large diversity between male and female pay hit the news on April Fool’s Day, the day after five members of the U.S. national women’s soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s national governing body, of wage discrimination. The team earned $23.5 million in U.S. games during the first quarter, more than the men’s national soccer team earned in the same time period, and the Federation projects a $5 million profit for women and a $1 million loss for the men’s games. Yet the Federation pays female players almost four times less than male players.

The women soccer team’s players aren’t really equal to men—they’re superior. Entering their third year without a major trophy, men are ranked #30. The women’s win in the 2015 World Cup set the television record for the highest rated soccer match in U.S. history and the most-watched soccer event U.S. people ever watched. Yet they also earn less than men for sponsorship appearances, have a smaller per diem while with the national team, and get a smaller share of ticket revenue bonuses. On top of that, they have substandard working conditions, forced to play on physically-damaging artificial turf while men get natural grass.

Jim Tankersley pointed out that this disparity exists throughout culture in the nation, hurting the economy:

“If talented women are paid arbitrarily less than similarly talented or less-talented men, the market is telling those women to work less than they optimally would….  Fewer women are working, as a share of the workforce, than they used to, even though women are more likely than men to graduate college and gain the skills that are in the highest demand in our increasingly service-based economy. At the same time, American productivity growth has slowed. One way to speed it up would be encouraging more highly productive women to do the work they’re best at.”

An analysis debunks the excuse that the pay gap is from comparing different jobs. In a new study of 505,000 salaries, women still make less even if they work for the same company and have the same job title: men make 5.4 percent more in base pay and get 7.4 percent more in overall compensation. These gaps are less than the almost 25 percent more that men make than women, but they are still significant especially because they are controlled for several variables, including age, education, years of experience, industry, occupation, state, and company size.

Glassdoor will host a 60-minute roundtable on pay equality featuring Hillary Clinton and other leaders, experts and advocates tomorrow, April 12, 2016, to be broadcast live at 6:30 PDT on Glassdoor.com.

New research has found that women are paid less because employers value their work less. A study from Cornell University shows that the pay drops significantly—an average of 20 percent—when women enter male-dominated fields. The field of recreation went from predominantly male to female in the second half of the 20th century, and median hourly wages dropped 57 percent. When many ticket agents were changed from male to female, the decrease in wages was 43 percent. In fields where men comprise the majority, the media pay is 21 percent higher than in occupations with a majority of women. Differences in the type of work that men and women account for 51 percent of the pay gap, greater than in 1980. Of the 30 highest-paying jobs, 26 are male-dominated.

Younger women may not notice the gender pay gap because they are paid $.88 for every dollar man is paid. Women over 65, however, are paid only $.40 for a man’s dollar, a reason that twice as many older women as men live in poverty. The inequality for women leads to lower pensions and lower Social Security, according to a new report released by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). She said:

“We’ve moved twenty cents in the right direction since 1963, but we have 21 cents more to go, and at the rate we’re going, the pay gap will not close until the year 2059. That’s a long time to wait, so I feel that we should get serious about this.”

GOP women in Congress front the party’s failure to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced almost two decades ago, that would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It includes preventing employers from retaliating against workers who discuss pay, requiring employers to explain why wage gaps between their male and female employees exist, and strengthening penalties for equal pay violations. Two years ago, two GOP women were the face of a committee that accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue, and a year ago, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), facing a tough election this year, cast her fourth vote against the bill.

Both Democratic candidates and GOP candidate Donald Trump support equal pay for women. Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act three separate times, and Sanders co-sponsored it. Throughout her campaign, Hillary Clinton has argued that paying women an equal wage for equal work would give an economic boost to the nation. Last October she sent this tweet when a GOP senator blocked a measure urging equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.

“Whether you’re a teacher, an executive, or a world-champion soccer player, you deserve equal pay.”

John Kasich has not taken a clear stance on equal pay, but he talked about the relationship of gender wage gap to skill and experience before he backpedalled by saying, “I understand that if you exclude women, you’re not as effective.” Ted Cruz’ website does not address the issue, but he voted against the act three times during his one term as senator.

Women comprise two-thirds of the nation’s 20 million low-wage workers. Nearly one-fourth of the low-wage workforce are female; only 12 percent of men are in the same category.

Working full-time, year-round, a woman earns $10,800 less per year than a man according to the Pay Inequality report. That’s a difference of almost one-half million dollars for a lifetime that also affect Social Security and any other pensions. The gender pay gap is larger in the U.S. than 22 of 34 developed countries. Equal pay would cut the number of women who live in poverty by one-half and boost the GDP by 2.9 percent.

Happy (Un)Equal Pay Day!

November 14, 2015

Fear, Hatred Make People Victims of Terrorism

Filed under: Terrorism — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , ,

People around the world are still reeling from yesterday’s attack on Paris that killed at least 129 people in a coordinated attack on several targets including a musical performance, a soccer game, and restaurants. Juan Cole writes that a surviving radio and television professional reported that he heard the attackers say to the hostages, “It is [President Francois] Hollande’s fault, it is the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.” They also spoke of Iraq. ISIS, which holds territory in Syria and Iraq, has already taken responsibility for the attacks. Another possibility is the Support Front (al-Jabha al-Nusra) in Syria, but it does not have territory in Iraq, and France has not specifically targeted it in the west of Syria. Cole wrote:

“When I was in France in mid-October, I was told by a former diplomat that President Hollande had decided to begin flying missions against ISIL in Raqqa, Syria, last September because French intelligence had learned that ISIL was planning to hit France. It is estimated that there are some 3,000 radical French Muslims fighting in ISIL (though remember that this number is proportionally tiny, since there are on the order of 3 million French Muslims, some 5% of the population– and the majority of them is not religious)….

“The French air force has been inflicting substantial damage on ISIL in Raqqa and its hinterlands. On Tuesday, AFP reported that France launched a fourth wave of airstrikes on Daesh targets in Syria, targeting the oil infrastructure that is a source of much of ISIL’s budget.”

The attacks may be an attempt to replicate the 2004 Madrid train bombings which also aimed at “soft targets” and persuaded Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Attackers tend to perform their acts for a goal, not just from generalized anger. The “war on terror” has made little distinction between noncombatants and alleged militants with a shrug of the perpetrators toward “collateral damage,” killing hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

The GOP has reacted to the attacks by peddling more fear and hatred. The right-wing media latched onto the jihadists’ action by claiming that all Muslims are responsible for last night’s atrocities. In tonight’s Democratic presidential debate, all three candidates agreed that they would not use the term “radical Islam” because it insinuates that all 1.7 billion Muslims in the world are affiliated with these violent groups. Hillary Clinton said, “We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism.” Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley argued a better term would be “radical jihadists.”

President Barack Obama said last February that he refuses to say “radical Islam” because the term grants them a religious legitimacy they don’t deserve.

“They are not religious leaders; they are terrorists. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is “desperate” to portray itself as a group of holy warriors defending Islam. It uses to recruit and radicalize young people. He added:

“They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills in the name of Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.”

GOP presidential candidates called the Democrats’ positions one of “weakness.” [As you read the following comments, please note that President Obama said that he wanted his team to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the upcoming fiscal year. He did suggest 83,000 refugees, but most of these would be from other countries. The numbers over 200,000 Syrian refugees came from a right-wing parody news website. “RealNewsRightNow”–not to be confused with the respected TheRealNews.com–is not at all “real.”]

Donald Trump: “It was just reported, one [attacker was] from Syria. Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria.

Rick Santorum: “ISIS is a creation of a political decision by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to abandon Iraq — against all of our generals’ recommendations, against all of the policy recommendations.” [Actually, George W. Bush made the arrangements to leave—or “abandon”—Iraq.)

Carly Fiorina: “I am outraged because the murder, the mayhem, the danger, the tragedy we see unfolding in Paris, throughout the Middle East, around the world, and too often in our own homeland are the direct consequence of this administration’s policies.”

Mike Huckabee: “During the debate last week, I stated that we should not admit those claiming to be Syrian refugees and was condemned by the left for that position. I was right, and the events in Paris affirm that …. It’s time for a President who will act to protect Americans, not just talk and protect the image of Islam.”

Ted Cruz:  “I call on Congress to pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act. We should not allow jihadists to come back to America using U.S. passports to murder innocent men and women. We are at war.” “We need to immediately declare a halt to any plans to bring refugees that may have been infiltrated by ISIS to the United States.” [That to Cruz is probably all of them.] He also wants to kill more civilians: “The radical Islamism … will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life.”

Ben Carson: “I think America’s involvement should be trying to eliminate them, completely, destroy them. Boots on the ground would probably be important.” “If we’re going to be bringing 200,000 people over here from that region—if I were one of the leaders of the global jihadist movement and I didn’t infiltrate that group of people with my people, that would be almost malpractice.”

Jeb Bush: “This is an organized effort to destroy Western civilization [and the U.S. should] re-garner the alliances, fortify those alliances, reconnect with our counterintelligence and intelligence capabilities with our European allies, and engage in the Middle East to take out ISIS.”

Marco Rubio: “We must increase our efforts at home and abroad to improve our defenses, destroy terrorist networks, and deprive them of the space from which to operate.”

John Kasich: “You know, our thoughts and our prayers go to the people of France but that’s not enough. Action is required. Time is of the essence. Negotiation, ambivalence, or delay, are not acceptable,” he said in a speech that focused entirely on the terror attacks.”

Eschewing the hateful feedback from GOP presidential candidates, including immediately blocking the Iran agreement, President Rhouhanni of Iran sent this message to France:

“In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari declared that the extremist death cult does not “believe in ethical principles” and is “not loyal to any type of divine religions — including Islam.” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo called for International cooperation to fight terrorism, and the leaders of Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia called the attacks “heinous” and “criminal.” They called for an end to the “plague” of terrorism.

Conservatives delight in their misrepresentation of President Obama’s statement about having “contained” Isis, but he mean that the terrorist group had not gained ground in Iraq. Donald Trump doubled down on his position, which he first stated in January after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, that gun control doesn’t prevent the violence. Yet one suicide bomber stopped by guards at the stadium location turned away before he detonated his bomb.

On Fox, people like Bill O’Reilly and Brian Kilmeade push the myth that  “all terrorists are Muslims.” Terrorists in the U.S. are usually Christians, but Fox fails to identify them as such.

People need to deny that the attacks are related to religion. Muslims are not terrorists. Terrorism has no religion. We need to repeat this over and over. If we let unreasonable hatred take over our lives, then we are the victims of the attackers.

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.

August 5, 2015

GOP Wants Return to the 1950s

To conservatives, the 1950s were an ideal time. These quotes show who they’re working to return to a time when “men were men” and everyone except white men was subservient to them.

New Hamphire state Rep. Jeanne Notter to a colleague about oral contraceptives: “As a man, would it interest you to know that Dr. Bernstein just published an article that links the pill to prostate cancer?” She couldn’t explain why, but a study published this week in The Lancet Oncology responds to complaints about “Uncle Sugar” paying for pills for “sluts.” More than helping to reduce pregnancies in 88 percent of women, oral contraceptives help to prevent cancer by imitating pregnancy in the woman’s body. The less estrogen in the body, the lower the risk of uterine (endometrial) cancer. About 400,000 cases of this cancer have been prevented in the past 50 years—200,000 during the past decade alone. For every five years of using birth control pills, a woman reduces her risk of contracting endometrial cancer by about 25 percent. Only 42 percent of women take this medication only for contraception.

Matt Beyon, Rick Santorum’s communications manager on tomorrow’s GOP presidential debate: “The idea that they have left out the runner-up for the 2012 nomination, the former four-term governor of Texas, the governor of Louisiana, the first female Fortune 50 CEO, and the 3-term Senator from South Carolina due to polling seven months before a single vote is cast is preposterous.” The debate is even more preposterous because Fox changed its rules after looking at the polls, possibly because they wanted Gov. John Kasich rather than Rick Perry on the main stage. After all, the debate on Thursday is in Kasich’s state of Ohio. Fox declared that it would use the five most recent polls to determine the top ten candidates but then ignored an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted between July 26 and 30 showing Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Ohio Gov. John Kasich within one percentage point of each other. Instead Fox used a Quinnipiac University poll gathered between July 23 and 28 showing Kasich ahead by three percentage points. Fox claimed it dismissed the NBC/WSJ poll “because it did not meet our criterion that the poll read the names of each Republican candidate in the vote question.” The RNC has officially put Fox in charge of selecting the GOP candidate.

Last night on All In, Alex Wagner, substituting for host Chris Hayes, asking Ted Cruz’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, about the problem of the Fox debate: Tyler started by explaining the advantage of the “kiddie table” because “5:00 p.m. on the East Coast is 8:00 on the West Coast. And 9:00 start for the second debate is midnight on the West Coast. So, look, the 5:00—I think—you know, the network has done the best they could.” Wagner had to explain him that 5:00pm EST is actually three hours earlier—not later—at 2:00 pm that that the 9:00 pm main event would begin on the West Coast at 6:00. Then the Cruz spokesman extolled the virtues of Donald Trump.

The outline of the scientific study, “Historically unprecedented global glacier decline in the early 21st century” in The Journal of Glaciology: “Centennial glacier retreat is a global phenomenon.” One example of the rapid glaciers’ disappearance is the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland where the ice is moving at 10 miles a year, twice the record in 2003, which was twice as fast as in 1997. “The observed glaciers currently lose … two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century,” said the study’s lead author, Michael Zemp. Glaciers help maintain the climate zone differences that drive weather patterns and provide distinct ecosystems to support precisely adapted lifeforms, from mountain wildflowers to snow leopards. Some glaciers may now be doomed.

New York pastor James David Manning: “Let’s just say I know [Starbucks is using semen in lattes].”  That’s what he said last year and repeated on a Daily Show segment with Jessica Williams last night when she re-interviewed him. Manning also ratcheted up last year’s comparison between President Obama to Adolf Hitler to this year’s statement that the president is the “Son of Satan.” Last month he described a “sodomite demon” contracted by women who kiss or have sex with men who have had sex with other men. According to Manning, the semen in gay sex goes directly into the blood.

A growing conservative movement against marriage equality: “What if a city decided that it was important for children to have mothers and fathers, declared itself a sanctuary city for traditional marriage, and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

Jeb Bush on defunding Planned Parenthood: “You could take dollar for dollar. Although I am not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women health issues.” (Spoken like a true elitist!) When George H.W. Bush was elected to Congress from Texas, he so strongly supported Planned Parenthood that some House colleagues called him “Rubbers.”Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush was the first treasurer of Planned Parenthood when it was founded in 1947, yet Jeb defunded Planned Parenthood while he was Florida governor and wants to send women to “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” where they receive bad care and lies to keep them from having abortions. These centers also don’t provide health care for men; Planned Parenthood does.

Donald Trump: “We have to get rid of that whole gun-free zone nonsense and just stop it.” Managers at many Trump hotels, golf clubs, and other properties are gun-free zones; even people with concealed carry permits can’t bring their firearms onto the property. The Trump properties that do allow guns require concealed carry permits and do not allow any open carry. Gun shows also forbid guns on the premises. A person at the Crossroads Gun Show explained, “Safety is our Number One Priority, and a safe environment in the show can only be maintained if there are no loaded guns in the show.”

Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd: “We all have a responsibility here I think to say, you know, has [Donald Trump] earned his way on this stage? I mean, again, we’re four years removed from the ridiculous spectacle of birtherism…. It’s not fair to what is the strongest Republican party presidential field in 36 years.” Scott Walker is not removed from the question of whether President Obama is a Christian and bought off the Wisconsin state Supreme Court to skip his indictment, while Rick Perry is still under indictment. Sen. Ted Cruz is threatening a shutdown for Planned Parenthood’s legal behavior. Mike Huckabee is a huckster for bogus medical cures. Chris Christie yells shut up at teachers who try to reason with him. Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign leader just got indicted for conspiracy in falsifying campaign expenditure reports. And the list goes on.

rondesia-jarrett-schell-and-peter-schell-with-their-sonPolice Stop in the South: You have to read the entire dialog in this link to understand the abuse by racist law enforcement after a police officer pulled over Rev. Peter Schell, an Episcopal priest and the lead pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., for not signalling that he was pulling over for the officer. He was traveling with his interracial family (right).

Apple in 2013: “[The company] “powers all its data centers [in Maiden, NC] with 100 percent renewable energy” and has been “100% renewable since opening June 2010.” It wasn’t. In 2015, 76 percent of the data center’s energy was generated on-site by two photovoltaic solar arrays and its fleet of biogas-powered fuel cells, but it must turn the energy over to NC GreenPower and buy all its energy needs from Duke Energy Carolinas (Duke). By March 2015 Duke had less than 0.02 percent renewable energy in its grid mix. About 33 percent of the energy Duke sells comes from nuclear, half is from fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), and 15 percent comes from hydroelectric sources. When Duke’s grid fails, Apple relies on backup diesel-powered generators from fuel stored on on-site tanks. Annual emissions from the Apple facility are on an upward trajectory, by now the equivalent of burning 262 million pounds of coal.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on defunding Planned Parenthood—my favorite: “Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s or 1890s?” Chris Christie may brag about “telling it like it is,” but Warren is far ahead of him:

“The Republican scheme to defund Planned Parenthood is not some sort of surprised response to a highly edited video. Nope! The Republican vote to defund Planned Parenthood is just one more piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated, right-wing attack on women’s rights.”

Unfortunately, conservative men claim that they want to return to the 1950s. That’s their aim—no reproductive rights, no threat of climate change, no problem with being racist, and no “homosexuals.” A return might require them to give up some of their guns, though.

August 20, 2014

Congress, Presidential Candidate Politics in August

Outside the tragedy surrounding Ferguson (MO) , congressional members on their summer vacation are keeping a very low profile except for campaigning. Yet the GOP leaders haven’t given up their threats to destroy the country if they don’t get their way.

Ten months ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “A government shutdown is off the table. We’re not going to do it.” Now he’s threatens to shut down the government by attaching restrictive policy riders to spending bills if the GOP takes over the Senate this coming November. When asked if this could lead to another shutdown, McConnell said that the president would decide whether to veto spending bills to keep the government open. In other words, McConnell plans to blackmail the president and the country to get his own way on anti-choice, anti-immigrant, and anti-U.S. benefits bills. The result will be business as usual: last-minute bills to keep the government operating for a few weeks or a few months. He wants more high drama.

Although McConnell will most likely keep his position, he suffers from the same problem that caused former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to lose his primary—ignoring his constituency. McConnell tried to convince women that he “voted for even stronger protections than Obama’s agenda will allow,” but he actually voted against the version of VAWA that passed the Senate and went on to become law. Instead, McConnell supported a scaled-back GOP version of the legislation that eliminated key protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented immigrant victims of domestic abuse. McConnell may have been a co-sponsor of the original bill 23 years ago, but he has repeatedly voted against it since then.

McConnell also voted against equal pay for women, including the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and supported the Hobby Lobby suit to stop freed contraception for women through their insurance. Another of his anti-woman actions was to actively block a spending bill that contained $41 million in grants for reducing the rape kit testing backlog.

This week, he’s telling farmers that he has helped them, but he has missed every Agriculture Committee hearing since 2009 while he had time for the media. At the end of 2011, McConnell missed the hearing, “Continued Oversight of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” where the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission testified. The same day, however, he appeared on Sean Hannity’s conservative talk show. Later that year, he missed the hearing, “Eliminating Waste in the Farm Bill,” but appeared on Fox News. Last spring, McConnell skipped confirmation hearings for three of the president’s nominees for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, although he originally recommended Chris Giancarlo for commissioner, to make a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference where he awkwardly waved a rifle.

Another big McConnell mistake was to say that bringing jobs to Kentucky was “not my job.” Then he got  upset because the news media printed his quote.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) isn’t promising a shutdown, but he’s be running scared about more far-right radicals winning House seats. Boehner has to keep these conservatives happy to retain his speaker position.

The first fiscal bill after the 114th Congress takes over at the beginning of January 2015 is raising the federal limit, a crisis that has already threatened the country’s credit ratings and the financial markets. If the House keeps its 234 seats, only 17 Republicans can vote “no” to sink legislation without Democratic support. Boehner’s only choices will be to move farther right (ugh!) or gain votes from Democratic representatives. The latter shift will most likely bring more mutiny from conservatives. The middle in Congress is gone.

Boehner has kept his job by catering to the radical conservatives and passing legislation that has no chance in the Senate. Democratic votes helped pass a tax increase on the wealthy and provide $50.7 billion for Superstorm Sandy victims, but Boehner won back the conservatives by supporting the Tea Party’s attempts to withhold funding from the Affordable Care Act. That led to the disastrous 16-day government shutdown but won Boehner from some of his GOP members.

Because of resignations or losses in GOP primaries—primarily to farther-right candidates—thus far this year, 28 incumbents will not return to the 114th Congress. One of the replacements may be Glenn Grothman from Wisconsin who is slightly ahead in the primary to replace retiring Rep. Tom Petri. One of Gov. Scott Walker’s legislators who helped tear down all the progress the state has made in a century, his positions are far to the right of Petri.

Grothman Wisconsin introduced a bill to officially list single parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse while Petri supported raising fuel taxes, now 39 percent lower than 20 years ago, to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. As Grothman hopes to head for Congress, he said, “Immigration is … going to destroy the country” because it will change the country’s culture.

The number of moderates in the House, defined as those willing to cross party lines in voting, has decreased from about half the members in the 1970s to less than 20 percent last year. Gerrymandering to make GOP districts more “safe” has contributed to this change and accelerated with the Tea Party success.

Pundits and politicians are trying to figure out winners for the next presidential election, with the idea that governors might make better leaders than other politicians—especially members of Congress. The Hill has published a list of 65 possible presidential candidates in 2016, and 30 of them, almost half, are current or former governors. Scandals, however, show a different picture.

  • Rick Perry (TX) has been indicted for abuse of power and coercion because he threatened to veto funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit if the person running it didn’t resign. She didn’t quit, and he cut the funding. At the time, the Unit was investigating a cancer research institute, one of Perry’s project, and one of its former high-ranking officials now faces a felony corruption charge. That might not have happened with a Perry-chosen replacement. Side note: His indictment means that he cannot buy or carry any guns.
  • Chris Christie (NJ) has not only caused “traffic problems in Fort Lee” but also suffers another bridge scandal involving securities law violations from the source of funding to repair the Pulaski Skyway. Christie also gave $260 million in tax breaks to Atlantic City’s Revel Casino Hotel that closed after two years.
  • Scott Walker (WI) is implicated in an allegedly illegal coordination scheme between his campaign and third-party conservative groups. People on both sides are waiting to see if a special prosecutor files charges against Walker.
  • Robert McDonnell (VA) was a strong contender for vice-president while still governor; now he’s on trial for gifts and cash that he received while in office. He hopes to get off by blaming his wife for everything.
  • Rick Scott (FL) faces accusations involving personal financial interests in a rail project and a natural gas pipeline.
  • Sam Brownback’s (KS) close associates are being investigated by the FBI regarding influence-peddling operations to the governor and top administration officials, especially in connection with Brownback’s privatization of the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program.
  • Pat McCrory (NC) was subpoenaed regarding his knowledge about a disastrous coal ash spill because of his close relationship to Duke Energy.
  • Andrew Cuomo (NY), the lone Democrat in the batch, allegedly hobbled an anti-corruption commission he created, steering the commission away from investigating his allies and a media-buying company that had worked on his campaign. He ultimately disbanded the commission altogether.

The theory supporting governors for better presidents came from the idea that leadership of states and nations are similar, but the problems around the country makes one question this theory. New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, considered a prime candidate for the GOP because she’s a Latina, attracting both females and minorities. Yet her image has been tarnished within the past few months through her corruption and her foul language when she didn’t know she was being taped.

The prime governor candidates are carrying heavy baggage, and candidates such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will use the candidate debates to through a few more rocks into their luggage.

August 20, 2013

2016: Cruz Moves Forward, Borowitz Shows Christie’s Problem

Much as we hate to think about the next presidential race, it seems that the presidential competition for the 2016 election has begun in earnest. The most recent sign is Sen. Ted Cruz’s declaration that he’s renouncing his Canadian citizenship. He announced his decision after The Dallas Morning News wrote that Cruz may have dual citizenship with Canada and the United States after being born in Canada to a woman with U.S. citizenship. From his remarks, Cruz seemed astonished about his dual citizenship status:

“Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.”

When he completed the form to renounce his Canadian citizenship, the Harvard Law School graduate and Supreme Court attorney issued a press release explaining that he just followed his mother’s directions:

“When I was a kid, my mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school. Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter.”

If Cruz gets rid of Obamacare and loses his job, he might want Canadian citizenship: they have health care up north.

The president is the only elected office in the U.S. mandating that a person be a “natural-born citizen” of the United States. The term “birthers” came from the adamant statements about President Obama not being eligible for the presidency because of the falsehood that he was born in Kenya to a woman with a U.S. citizenship. The question is whether U.S. citizenship is the same as “natural born.”

At least two men not born on U.S. soil have run for president: George Romney (1967) in Mexico and John McCain (2008) in the Panama Canal Zone. The Senate declared that McCain is a natural-born citizen. Presidential eligibility problems go back over 130 years when people argued that President Chester A. Arthur was born in Canada and not Vermont, thereby not meeting the eligibility requirement for President of the United States. In 2011, the Congressional Research Service wrote that people born to U.S. citizens in foreign countries “most likely” qualify as natural-born citizens. The argument, however, is probably not over.

Another apparent interest in being interested in the presidential candidacy came from Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who tweeted a photo of himself at Dixville Notch (NH), the first town in the state scheduled to vote in the 2016 primaries. “Just poking around the back roads. Beautiful place 4 first in nation primaries & general election results.” King’s next destination is the Charleston Meeting in South Carolina, also a destination of Republican presidential wannabes. He plans a sit-down on August 26 with 20 local GOP activists, a meeting that Lin Bennett, vice-chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, indicates an interest in become a candidate.

Iowa’s Republican leaders are pleased that King decided not to run for the Senate seat left by Democratic Tom Harkin’s resignation next year. Immigration reform has made King famous across the country, particularly with rejection of giving citizenship to children brought into the U.S. illegally. “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” according to King.

The plethora of far-right potential candidates such as Cruz, King, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is driving the less than far far right interested parties farther in the conservative direction. For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gone from considering immigration reform to being very quiet about his postion.

Andy Borowitz satirizes the frantic move to the right by GOP presidential candidates:

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from consideration as a Presidential candidate today after becoming embroiled in what a leading Republican strategist called “a career-ending empathy scandal.”

“After signing a law barring licensed therapists from engaging in so-called gay conversion therapy, Mr. Christie stunned his fellow Republicans by seemingly expressing compassion for gay children, thus disqualifying himself from any further role in the G.O.P.

“In a brief statement to reporters, Mr. Christie expressed remorse for what he called ‘my unfortunate and ill-considered display of understanding for people different from myself,’ and urged the people of New Jersey to remember ‘my strong record of cutting funds for schools and the elderly.’

“While Mr. Christie might try to regain his fellow Republicans’ trust by vetoing more assault-rifle bans, G.O.P. strategist Tracy Klugian says that the governor does not deserve another chance, citing his “dangerous flirtations with compassion” in the past.

“‘After Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie worried a lot of us with his recklessly sensitive behavior,’ says Mr. Klugian. ‘But we really thought he had put this problem behind him…. But maybe this will force him to get the help he needs.’”

For progressives, however, Christie more than passes the conservative criteria. He admires the regressive Koch brothers, having attended their summer seminar in Colorado, and said he wants to reduce Medicaid and Medicare while raising the Social Security age and cutting many other government programs. His first four budgets cut women’s health funding while spending $260 million on a now-bankrupt Atlantic City casino. Christie canceled the ARC rail tunnel to Manhattan which would have provided thousands of jobs, cleared up congestion, and reduced pollution. In addition, he weakened over 100 essential environmental protections to help big corporations and land developers.

Late last Friday, hoping to hide from the media, Christie worked to get his conservative cred back when he refused to sign three gun control measures, one which he had requested. He had called for a ban on sales of the Barrett .50 caliber rifle (A3659), the most powerful weapon commonly available to civilians. The weapon fires ammunition the size of carrots and can pierce steel plate armor from several hundred yards away. It can even shoot down airplanes.

.50 caliber

Most people would rather avoid hearing about presidential candidate fantasies. But if you hear about politicians straying from their constituents into Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, you might think about the reason.

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