According to a survey by Pew Global Attitudes Project, not really.
November 30, 2006
Well, well, well…
You’d think that the Do-Nothing Demoncrat meme could have waited until their new majorities could actually take over, wouldn’t you? Of course not. After all, seeing as how Congress can’t officially fall into the D column until after the new year, the best time to accuse them of not doing anything about their promises is when, naturally, they still can’t actually do anything at all.
[Turn signal: John Cole]
November 29, 2006
I just moved over the weekend. I used to move every year, but I’ve stayed put the last seven years until now. So it’s a considerable difference from routine to move my household. I had some help with some heavy things, but it was mostly my own labor spread out over the four-day holiday. What struck me is that the planning and execution of the move was totally up to me. I’d repeatedly stand and stare around the room trying to decide what to pack/lift/carry first. The conclusion I eventually came to was that it really didn’t matter much and that in the absence of another’s input it was actually impossible to make a wrong decision. Whatever I decided, that’s what I went with, and if an adjustment was required, well, I adjusted. I did inadvertently lock myself out of the old apartment tonight, which was meant to for gathering the last bit of stuff and cleaning, so I did make an error and will have to go back tomorrow, but it’s not quite the same as being wrong.
In the new place, I face a similar inexhaustible set of choices what to unpack and set up first, second, etc. Again, there is no right or wrong about it, merely choices. Most of my stuff is still sitting in piles and boxes in utter disarray, whereas I already set up the computer and stereo to keep myself entertained. It will probably be a month or more before I get everything situated. It’s not that I’m lazy about it. I just don’t care to have it done right away. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
November 28, 2006
Mom China Arnold, 26, stands accused of aggravated murder after bringing her dead infant daughter, Paris, to a hospital, with a “high body temperature”. The woman was arrested, and later released.
“We have reason to believe, and scientific evidence to support, that a microwave oven might have been involved in the death of this child,” Montgomery County Coroner’s Office Director Ken Betz is quoted as saying
My immediate thoughts, beyond a general sense of tragedy, are to wonder what the actual effects would be. Obviously one effect would be the same heating that results (eventually) in cooking. The temperature is raised rapidly to a depth of several centimetres through direct microwave action. Heat then conducts inward.
Unlike a meat joint, a living body will attempt to compensate. However an infant’s ability to do so is limited. Even in adults, the brain is vulnerable to even a small rise in temperature. I think death would be rapid, and would occur long before the flesh began to cook.
It’s not clear to me what other effects there would be, that might distinguish such a death from other causes. For example, it’s not clear whether the baby would suffer a skin burn, assuming microwaving no more than sufficient to cause death.
It’s also not clear to me how one would go about testing any hypotheses about the likely effects (other than the obvious unethical ways). I would be very concerned if someone were to be convicted on the basis of untested conjecture.
November 27, 2006
Don’t read this story if you are easily disturbed. It contains violence and sexual assault triggers.
“No one wanted to believe it at first,” says Lyn Lusi, manager of the HEAL Africa hospital (formerly called the Docs Hospital) in the eastern Congo city of Goma. “When our doctors first published their results, in 2003, this was unheard of.”
Here’s the full Newsweek article from Congo.
What is there to say?
(Specializing in what?)
November 26, 2006
Affirmative Action Doesn’t Increase Minority Drop-Out Rates. (Also, a Cato Institute report is less than honest – there’s a shocker.)
In the comments of an earlier post, Robert Hayes has been arguing that racial preferences in college admission are bad because they harm minority students through what Robert calls “the ratchet effect.” But “the ratchet effect,” as Robert describes it, is dependent on what social scientists have called the “fit hypothesis” or “the mismatch hypothesis.” If mismatch isn’t true, neither is ratchet.
So what is the mismatch hypothesis? Robert describes the mismatch hypothesis perfectly when he writes:
November 24, 2006
Men are also positioned as the “true” threat–women couldn’t possibly act as anything more than companions or mothers–they may have access to the info, but they aren’t going to actually be *acting*.
From the communities end, however, WOmen were, indeed, doing a lot of the *acting* (that is, carrying guns, planning take overs, etc) while at the same time, never really having access to any positions of power.
The actions of the women of Beit Hanoun is one example.
I came across another remarkable and ultimately tragic account in my research into the fall of Srebrenica. Four months before the final collapse, UN Force Commander Philippe Morillon paid a surreptitious visit:
Morillon’s party crept into Srebrenica in the dead of the night. They found hundreds of people living in the street, and dozens still pouring into town. It was cold. There was no wood left in town. People were burning plastic bottles for a little warmth and the smell clung in the cold night air.
The next day, Morillon met Oric. He told him that he would do everything possible to secure a cease-fire, and get humanitarian aid through. He then got into his vehicle to head out of town. Oric had other plans for him. Efendic, back in Sarajevo, had sent Oric a coded message: ‘Whatever happens, prevent Morillon from leaving Srebrenica until he provides security for the people there. Do it in a civilised way. Use women and children.’
Morillon now found his path blocked by hundreds of women and children sitting in the middle of the road. He was now as trapped as they were…
(Laura Silber and Allan Little, “Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation” quoted here.)
Three things occur to me. Firstly the obvious power dynamic – it’s men who are in charge. Secondly it does not appear that Oric (the Bosniac commander) had to organise this. These women (and no doubt the older children too) were already organised in the defence of their city. All Oric had to do was give a command. Finally the government in Sarajevo was aware of all this. “Use women and children”, without further detail, implies that Efendic and Oric shared an understanding of the ways women and children can be used.
November 23, 2006
I’m puzzled by the insistance of “race doesn’t exist except as a social construct” coming from folks on the left (/generalization) who then right after acknowledge that there are differences between “population groups” on “hereditary basis”.
brownfemipower, toysoldier, I, and others have been having a three way discussion at her blog, about the issues I raised in my post about how gender-selective atrocities are represented in the media and how feminism interprets those representations. TS’s part in the discussion ended with me slapping him down. I feel a bit of a rogue for that, because he was, after all, supporting me in the face of ad homs from some of the commenters there, (though not from BFP herself).
But it was necessary. The (false) suggestion that I wanted to centre the discussion on white males was becoming self-fullfilling, and I didn’t want that to happen. TS posted a response back at his blog
Any ideology or philosophy that purports whites cannot experience violence, discrimination, marginalization or oppression to the same extent as other racial groups should never be tolerated. That is part of the very foundation of racism.
That was not her argument. Although she did not use the word, I understood her argument as saying that whites are not victims of genocide.
I can’t argue against that proposition. There certainly have been white genocides. The history of Europe is one genocide heaped on another. Europeans colonised Europe before they colonised anywhere else. All that ended in Western Europe sixty years ago.
The whitest genocides in recent history were in the former Yugoslavia and in Armenia. But were they white? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t think it’s my business to decide who’s white and who isn’t. The race element comes in as an “us/not us” calculus, and in those cases, I think the Armenians fell clearly on the “not us” side. Ex-Yugoslavia is less clear, but I think it was more “not us” than “us”.
So, BFP goes on, without in any way denying the crap things that happen to white men, she doesn’t want to centre them.
That’s a deal.
That said, the real issue is that instead of addressing the misandry within the media and within feminism, it was utterly dodged and unaddressed.
It was. And it would have beem no chance of ever addressing it, had we gotten into an endless fight over whether we should or should not be talking about whites.
To a certain extent, when Daran acquiesced to the position that his post failed to acknowledge race as a prominent, if not the, component of this biased treatment, he also conceded that the overall issue of male marginalization, which affects all males, is inherently less important than any other issue. But if this is what the proper response should be, this notion that one should ignore the larger issue/issues that affect an entire group of society and rather focus a smaller subset of that group, then what is the point of bringing up the issue at all? Why call it marginalization or misandry if the “real” problem is racism?
This misrepresents my acquiescence. Firstly I didn’t say “my post”. I said my “analysis” was inadequate. I wasn’t referring to a single post, but to my entire hitherto race-blind conceptual framework. Secondly I did not concede that race is “the” component of this biased treatment. It’s “a” component, and one I should pay attention to.
Regardless of what role, if any, race plays in the media’s coverage of violence, the fact remains that when the victims are male, the media coverage “exemplif[ies] incidentalisation and displacement which, together with exclusion are the three strategies commonly used in the media to marginalise and conceal the gender-selective victimisation of men.”
All men? Or just dark men?
I don’t know, because it’s never occured to me before to ask the question. I think it’s worth trying to find out.
November 21, 2006
November 19, 2006
Look at this headline on Boston.com
Men in Iraqi police grab kidnap scores in raid
Notice how the perpetrators are gendered, but the victims are not. In fact there’s no mention of the victims’ sex anywhere on the first page. It’s not until you get to the second that you find out what happened:
The gunmen speedily weeded out the men from the women. The women were taken to a room and locked up, witnesses said. The men were pushed into the trucks and driven away. The kidnapped included employees and visitors to the agency, janitors, and PhDs, even a deputy general director of the agency. Some were blindfolded and tossed into the backs of pickup trucks, said witnesses.
There’s some small comfort to be drawn from the fact that – unusually for this kind of atrocity – many of the men were released alive. Some of them were tortured. Many others are still missing, probably among the dozens of bodies floating down the Tigris, with electric-drill holes in their skulls. What’s not unusual for this kind of atrocity is its gender-selectiveness. Almost all of the bodies being washed up in Iraq are male.
But you wouldn’t know that from the media. A day later, and the victims had been completely desexed.
These reports exemplify incidentalisation and displacement which, together with exclusion are the three strategies commonly used in the media to marginalise and conceal the gender-selective victimisation of men.
Feminists make the opposite complaint. According to them it’s violence against women, which is marginalised and concealed in the Media. For example, in respect of the killings of women in Beit Hanoun, Brownfemipower says:
…take a close look at how the violence against these women is justified or even erased
As far as erasure is concerned, in three of the four articles she cites, the victims are identified by gender in the title or first paragraph. The fourth article was about the day’s killings across the occupied territories as a whole, rather than just those at the women’s demonstration. Nevertheless, the women are there, the only victims to be identified by gender.
In none of these articles, nor in any other I found while researching my recent posts on the men and women of Beit Hanoun did I find any examples of the three strategies being used to marginalise or conceal the victimisation of the women. The only people erased were the males who, according to OCHA, were the majority of those shot dead at the women’s demonstration.
Echidne of the Snakes made a similar complaint with respect to the Amish School Shooting.
And only a few days earlier another murderer selected smaller teenaged girls for his violence in another school. Yet this is something the radio news last night didn’t mention when discussing “school violence”. Indeed, the Air America news avoided a single mention of the victims’ gender.
That last sentence in particular caught my eye. What Echidne has just described in the vocabulary of the three strategies is displacement, and I have yet to see an example of it applied to female victims. Echidne’s remark motivated to me several weeks ago to examine the first hundred returns from Google News on the atrocity. Apart from some very early “news just in” bulletins when the victims’ gender wasn’t known, every single one of the reports identified them as female. Nor did I find any examples of incidentalisation (nor exclusion, but the nature of the crime made that strategy impossible). Echidne’s observation, while notable, seems to have been an isolated case.
And you need to read far down into the newspaper stories before you come across a one-sentence-aside about the hatred for girls these horrible acts clearly demonstrate.
Why this silence, this looking-aside? Why make loud comments about possible motives but not look at the obvious one: that these men hated girls? Is it because on some level the society accepts such a hatred, because if we start focusing on it we have to ask some mighty unpleasant questions?
I could ask the same questions of her. Why the silence about the gender-selective slaughter of males in Iraq, which she’s certainly aware of? Why haven’t any of the major feminist blogs as far as I can see done a post about the this kidnapping atrocity? If men had been locked in a room while scores or hundreds of women were kidnapped and tortured, the femisphere would have erupted.
The answer, of course is that gender-selective atrocities perpetrated against men don’t fit the feminist narrative. Girls being killed because they’re girls is evidence, in feminist eyes, of widespread societal misogyny. Women being spared because they’re women is because… err… Let’s talk about something else.
More about the mass kidnapping can be found here.
Edited for clarity and typos.
I’m an atheist.
Robert, I know, is Catholic.
What about the rest of you bloggers and regular commenters?
November 17, 2006
The boobs at Delta, that is. ((Freedom Air, actually, but Freedom Air was acting as Delta, or Delta was doing business as Freedom Air, or something. I’ve never quite groked all the little airline intertwining.))
See that photo, to the right? That’s Emily Gillette breastfeeding her child (as you can see, she’s virtually dancing topless!). And that sight is apparently sooo offensive that it can’t be allowed on planes. From the Burlington Free Press:
Gillette said she was seated in the second-to-last row, next to the window, when she began to breast-feed her daughter. Breast-feeding helps babies with the altitude changes through takeoff and landings, Gillette said. She said she was being discreet — her husband was seated between her and the aisle — and no part of her breast was showing.
Gillette said that’s when a flight attendant approached her, trying to hand her a blanket and directing her to cover up. Gillette said she told the attendant she was exercising her legal right to breast-feed, declining the blanket. That’s when Gillette alleges the attendant told her, “You are offending me,” and told her to cover up her daughter’s head with the blanket.
“I declined,” Gillette said in her complaint.
Moments later, a Delta ticket agent approached the Gillettes and said that the flight attendant was having the family removed from the flight.
The airline’s behavior is appalling. To make it even worse, this happened in Vermont, where state law says that mothers have the right to breastfeed in public (Queenbadmama has the text of Vermont’s law).
MomsRising.org has a petition you can sign, “to tell Delta Airlines to get a clue and be supportive of breastfeeding mothers. And tell Congress it’s time to pass the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding mothers.”
As you’d expect, the Momblogs have been covering this story. More blogging on this topic: Queen of the Bad Mommies (who I adore based on her blog name alone!), Blogher, Playground Revolution, Blogging Baby, Mama Knows Breast, The Zero Boss, Mother Talkers (which has a great header image, by the way), Strange As Angels (who is pissed off!), and Aurelia Ann (whose post is titled “Throw Momma From The Plane”).
Thanks to Bean for pointing out this story to me!
OK, I’m just kidding about the headline. But Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks (the guy who opined that the liberal-conservative birth divide was going to doom liberalism) has a book coming out that argues conservatives (specifically, religiously-believing, nuclear-family-dwelling, welfare-state-disliking conservatives) are the most generous Americans, in terms of charitable giving, volunteerism, and blood donation.
I’ve written before about this (but am not going to dig for the link, because I’m just going to say the same thing again) – assuming the professor’s analysis is correct, I suspect that the reason has to do with the differing view of human nature espoused by liberals and conservatives. Oversimplifying for the sake of pithiness (and if we can’t oversimplify for pithiness, what can we oversimplify for?), liberals believe that people are basically good and will take care of one another. Conservatives believe that people are basically heartless bastards who will kill orphans to harvest their organs if they have the opportunity.
So why the heck would that result in conservatives being more generous? Easy peasy: the psychology of the individual. A decent liberal sees a problem and thinks that society should do something, and further, assumes that someone will help (people are good), so “I don’t need to get personally involved”. A decent conservative sees a problem and thinks that the other callous pricks who comprise society will point and laugh, and so if anyone is going to help, “it’s gotta be me. ” Result: conservative check, liberal raincheck.
That’s my theory. What’s yours?
November 16, 2006
Last week, Americans made clear their dissatisfaction with the President and his policies at the voting booth.
This week, an Indonesian man made clear his disdain for the President with a voodoo ritual.
Different strokes for different folks.
Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat, a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drank the “potion” and smeared some on his face.
“I am doing voodoo, because other ritual would not work,” he told reporters after he conducted the gory ritual about 1 kilometers from the palace.
Strange as it sounds, you just can’t make this stuff up. Almost sounds like the plot for a John Gresham novel. Or maybe Laurel K. Hamilton.
(Yes, I know it’s not exactly voodoo that he did, as that is strictly part of down-bayou lands and Carribean islands. I get the feeling that the reporter could only find one suitable and close enough translation for the story. YMMV.)
[Turn signal: TPM]
I’m still trying to make sense of what happened to the Men of Beit Hamoun, which post I will update shortly. However, what’s become clear in my research is that the story of the women given by the press, and subsequently taken up in the blogosphere, is inaccurate, and that the truth is even more remarkable and tragic.
The press version of the story is that two women were shot dead when a group of around 150-300 unarmed women broke a IDF seige of a Mosque in Beit Hamoun on Friday 3 November, allowing the men trapped inside to escape. In fact two separate incidents appear to have been confused here.
The most detailed incident-based reports of the invasion of Beit Hanoun that I have been able to find are from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), both of which publish weekly summaries, which can be cross-referenced.
According to the PCHR the Mosque incident happened, not on the Friday, but the day before:
At approximately 12:00 on Thursday, 2 November 2006, IOF besieged al-Naser Mosque in the center of Beit Hanoun. There were a number of resistance activists inside the mosque. Approximately 150 women from the area around the mosque moved to lift the siege. IOF responded by heavy gunfire at the women. One woman was seriously wounded to the head. Medical crews were not reach the injured woman. She lay bleeding on the ground for a long time before she was transferred to the Beit Hanoun Hospital, where her wound was described as serious.
The OCHA confirms (PDF link) that “A Palestinian woman was injured by the IDF in Beit Hanoun” on 2 November, but give no further details. No women are reported dead that day.
The second incident, which happened the following day does not appear to have involved a Mosque, other than perhaps being near to one. According to the OCHA, there were five fatalities in all:
3 November: Five Palestinians, including two women and two boys, aged 15, 16, 18, 22, and 42 years were killed, and 38 Palestinians – mostly women – were injured when the IDF opened fire in the direction of a group of women who tried to enter Beit Hanoun.
The PCHR thinks there were two casualties among the women, plus a further four in a separate incident a few hours later:
At approximately 7:00 on Friday, 3 November 2006, a group of about 300 women from several areas in the northern Gaza Strip organized a demonstration and headed to Beit Hanoun. When the demonstration reached the outskirts of Beit Hanoun near ‘Izbit Beit Hanoun, IOF fired at them. Two women were killed and 40 others were wounded. Ambulances were not able reach the bodies of the dead. The wounded were evacuated to hospital at 20:00. The two women who were killed are:
1. Rawda Ibrahim Jaber, 48, from Jabalya refugee camp; and
2. Ibtissam Yousef Mas’oud, 44, from Jabalya refugee camp.
At approximately 11:00 on Friday, IOF continued indiscriminately shell of areas in the towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, and Jabalia. Four Palestinian civilians, including two children, were killed by the bombardment near ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam Mosque in Izbit Beit Hanoun:
1. Ahmad Sahweel, 15, from Beit Hanoun, hit by a live bullet to the chest;
2. Hamza Mohammed Karsou’, 18, from Beit Lahia, hit by a live bullet to the chest;
3. Hamdi Ramadan ‘Abdul Dayem, 16, from Beit Hanoun, hit by a live bullet to the chest; and
4. Mohammed Ahmad Sabbah, 20, from Jabalya, hit by a live bullet to the chest.
In additions, scores of civilians were wounded, including a journalist of Ramatan news agency, Hamza al-‘Attar, 22.
It isn’t clear how indiscriminate shelling can cause bullet fatalities. What is clear, despite minor discrepancies in the listed ages, is that five of the six fatalities identified by the PCHR correspond to those given by the OCHA.
…Beit Hanoun was left with no men between the ages of 16 and 45 in the wake of a massive forced round-up by the Israeli army last Thursday night amid helicopter gunfire, tanks and artillery shelling.
The systematic wholesale internment of entire populations of adult men is by no means unheard of in wartime, but I’ve never heard of the Israelis using this tactic. I became suspicious when, on searching, I could find no news report of this claimed round-up independent of the Guardian’s original piece. I suspect the direct source was this article, also published in the Guardian, by Jameela al-Shanti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who led the women’s demonstration.
For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.
This was published the following day, but the Guardian’s editors certainly would have had it in hand when they published the earlier report.
It’s not clear what “all males over 15” refers to in the above. The editors appear to have understood it to refer to every man in the city, but it could just as well be interpretted to refer to all the men in the raided houses, or even just those men known personally to al-Shanti.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I carried on searching. The most detailed incident-based reports of the invasion of Beit Hanoun that I was able to find are from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), both of which publish weekly summaries. The PCHR report makes no mention of any kind of mass detention, while the The OCHA (PDF link) reported the following (page 11):
1-6 November: More than 2,000 people including women were detained by the IDF in the Agricultural School. Most were released, but it is not clear how many in captivity.
4 November: IDF ordered all men aged between 16 and 40 years living in the Al Masreen and Al Bora areas in Beit Hanoun to evacuate their homes. They were all detained by the IDF in the Agricultural School
The School appears to have been used by the IDF as a temporary holding area. Presumably those not released would be moved to more secure locations. It’s not clear whether the mass arrests on 4 November were included in, or in addition to the more than 2000 people detained there during the week.
The 4 November action, however, does not appear to be the one that al-Shanti was referring to. Aaccording to her, the detentions happened “last Thursday”, i.e., 2 November, the day of the Mosque seige. I began to search for news reports for that day, and found two syndicated stories by Reuters and Associated Press.
Witnesses said soldiers using loudspeakers had ordered all residents over 16 years of age in the town of Beit Hanoun to present themselves at a school for questioning. The town of 30,000 people is effectively under an army curfew, they said.
Amid the clashes, men between the ages of 16 and 40 were ordered over loudspeakers to gather in one of the main squares of Beit Hanoun, but few complied.
Those who arrived in the square were taken by soldiers in trucks to another area of the town and questioned to find out if they were involved in terrorist activity, said the army, which took over the town Wednesday. Some were released and others were taken for more questioning, it said.
Compare with this report from Al Jazeerah:
Israeli occupation forces, on Thursday afternoon, transferred the males of Beit Hanoun aged between 16-45 in a convoy of large trucks to unknown destinations.
Security sources reported that the Israeli occupation forces called the men through loudspeakers, and gathered them in front of An-Nassr mosque in the north of Beit Hanoun.
No mention there that the call had been largely ignored, or that some of the men had been released. Note also the reference to the Mosque – the same one that had been liberated by the women that day.
November 15, 2006
The top three paragraphs from a story in today’s NY Times:
One of four Army infantrymen charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in Iraq last March and then killing her and her family pleaded guilty today to all charges in a military court at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The plea came on a day when a marine is scheduled to be sentenced at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for his part in the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi man in a town to the west of Baghdad.
The legal actions are part of the fallout of the fighting in Iraq, where insurgent fighters blend in with the civilian population, frustrating soldiers who are subject to roadside bombing and other attacks.
Holy fucking shit!
So when four infantrymen decide to rape a 14-year-old girl and kill her and her whole family, that’s “fallout” from the frustration soldiers feel because “insurgent fighters blend?”
Yes, I’m sure the soldiers thought that the 14-year-old they raped and murdered – not to mention her 7-year-old sister, who they also murdered – were insurgents blending with civilians. In no way was this a problem of a culture of entitlement, racism and misogyny, combined with giving green soldiers absolute authority over civilians that some of them think of as subhuman.
Heck no! It’s the fault of those damn blending insurgent Iraqis!
(The soldier, by the way, plead guilty in order to take the death penalty off the table. The Times says he’ll probably get sentenced to life, but could be out in 20 years.)
* * *
It’s besides the point of this post, but I feel obliged to point out that the other case the Times mentioned involves soldiers who planned to kidnap and murder an alleged insurgent, but grabbed and killed the wrong man. That’s a genuine example of a death resulting from “insurgents blending with civilians,” I guess; but it’s mainly an example of the inevitable result of believing that war justifies punishing alleged “insurgents” without trial or defense. George Bush and conservatives have been fighting hard to erode the right of trial and defense, and their thinking may have influenced the murderers in this case.
Ezra Klein asks, “What single piece of legislation would you most like to see enacted?”
I’ll go with Employee Free Choice Act, a bill restoring the right to organize, which is current de facto absent from the polity. It institutes card check, provides new avenues for mediation, and heavily stiffens penalties for illegal unionbusting. As I think all progressive legislation flows from a vibrant union movement, such a bill looks like the first step towards a restoration of progressive governance from which my other policy priorities could be achieved.
Bradford Plumer agrees with Ezra, and expands the argument a bit.
I’m tempted to agree with Brad and Ezra, because Ezra’s right — without a vital union movement, it’s hard to see how any progressive movement can be sustained in the US. I’d also be tempted to advocate a complete overhaul of the US’s electoral system — starting with the elimination of first-past-the-post elections, but also campaign finance — but I’m not sure that can properly be called a “single piece of legislation,” because it would probably require at least two Constitutional amendments.
However, if I had to choose one and only one, I think that I’d instead endorse directing billions of dollars a year towards non-carbon-based energy – meaning wind power, solar power, and nuclear power. It is plausible that we’re very near a point of no return on global warming – we may have only fifteen years to reverse course. There is no single issue that’s more urgent. And I’m not sure that unions — which, understandably, might not be interested in stopping global warming if it means the loss of some current manufacturing jobs ((I think that in the long run, investments in sustainable technology will create jobs. But unions are more concerned with existing jobs than with potential future jobs.)) — are always going to be in the right place on this issue.
So that’s me. You?
It’s been a little over 20 years since Basketball star Len Bias died of a drug overdose. The publicity following Bias’ death, which was (wrongly) attributed to crack cocaine, helped push through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which established a wildly disproportionate punishment for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. To quote a recent ACLU report (pdf file), “distribution of just 5 grams of crack carries a minimum 5-year federal prison sentence, while for powder cocaine, distribution of 500 grams – 100 times the amount of crack cocaine – carries the same sentence.”
The law, in practice, is racist and does incredible damage to the Black community. From the ACLU report (emphasis added):
November 14, 2006
Blackacademic points out yet another case of young whites deciding that putting on the blackface is just, y’know, hilarious. And she also points out that the University President’s letter, which is mainly about saying “it was just a few bad apples, there’s no larger problem to be addressed here!,” manages to avoid ever using the word “racism.” Because using that word would apparently be in bad taste or something.
Look, it’s not that complex: If you’re white, put the blackface down. Whether you’re a frat boy or a liberal blogger, put it down. If you’re not white – well, even then, you should probably put it down. (Ebogjonson has a very fine blackface appropriateness test that bloggers of all colors who considering blackface should consult.)
Because if you happen to be an artist of Spike Lee’s caliber, then maybe you’ll be able to use blackface in a way that is both genuinely interesting and genuinely anti-racist. But you know what? Odds are very very high that you’re not Spike Lee.
Just leave the goddmaned blackface alone, already. It’s not… that… hard.
Mr. Moore’s paintings, reproduced in prints and on merchandise, violated the university’s trademark rights, the suit said. It asked a federal judge to forbid him to, among other things, use the university’s “famous crimson and white color scheme.”
The University isn’t suing Moore because it doesn’t like how he paints their football team. The University is suing because Moore’s paintings are available on merchandise (calendars, coffee mugs, etc.), and the University — which has its own football-related calendars and mugs to sell — is hoping to wipe out a competitor.
I think this is censorship, both in the technical sense of the government (through the court system) shutting people up, and in the broader sense of unfair duress being used to shut people up. U of A football games are public events, and an important part of local culture; as an artist, Moore has every right to paint about football games. The U of Alabama owns their team franchise, but they don’t own Mr. Moore’s mind, or Mr. Moore’s paintbrush; if they want to protect themselves from the horror of artists painting what they see, they should stop allowing the public to view their games.
November 13, 2006
Amanda at pandagon offers some wise criticism of capitalism and sexism (sexism against women). She approvingly (“best eviscerations of a little bit of knee jerk rhetoric I see all the time on the left”) quotes Ellen Willis (R.I.P):
As expounded by many leftist thinkers, notably Marcuse, this theory maintains that consumers are psychically manipulated by the mass media to crave more and more consumer goods, and thus power an economy that depends on constantly expanding sales. The theory is said to be particularly applicable to women, for women do most of the actual buying, their consumption is often directly related to their oppression (e.g. makeup, soap flakes), and they are a special target of advertisers. According to this view, the society defines women as consumers, and the purpose of the prevailing media image of women as passive sexual objects is to sell products. It follows that the beneficiaries of this depreciation of women are not men but the corporate power structure.
(italics added, we’ll get back to them soon!)
November 12, 2006
November 10, 2006
Cathy Young is back:
First things first: my apologies to all for the lack of blogging. The extended break had nothing to do, as some of you have surmised, with policies at The Boston Globe with regard to blogging by columnists. What happened was a very labor-intensive work project combined with travel and some stressful personal matters. I should have posted to say I was going on hiatus, but I kept hoping I’d get back into the groove. Hopefully I have now; it has just taken much longer than I thought.
A few days before the election, Rachel blogged that “women were poised to make gains in election” and asked, “If the number of women increases, do you think this could affect policies or do you think we will start to see the women politicians join the ranks of the ‘good old boys’?”
There are two reports from the Institute For Women’s Policy Research that suggest that more female legislators does mean more feminist and pro-woman laws will be passed. The first, “Does Women’s Representation in Elected Office Lead to Women-Friendly Policy?” (pdf link) looks at how many laws benefiting women, such as “protection from violence, access to income support (through welfare and child support collection), women-friendly employment protections, legislation protecting sexual minorities, and reproductive rights,” have been passed in each of the fifty states. ((The three best states for women, by this measure: Hawaii, Vermont and Washington. The three worst: Tennessee, Mississippi, and Idaho.))
What the IWPR found is that the more women are in elected office in a state, and the more powerful those elected offices are, the more woman-friendly legislation gets passed.
As the authors point out, the direction of causation is ambiguous. Maybe more women in office leads to more “woman-friendly” laws; but it’s also possible that states that are open to these laws are more likely to elect women legislators. I think it’s likely that both are true.
On an aggregate level, women’s presence in legislatures and other state-level elected offices is closely associated with better policy for women. This suggests that having women in elected office may be important to encouraging states to adopt policies relevant to women’s lives. Conversely, women’s resources and rights may influence the number of women elected to public office.
The second IWPR report, “Gender Differences in Bill Sponsorship on Women’s Issues” (pdf link), examines who sponsors which bills. From the report:
Within each party, women are more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues.
Across both Congresses, between 23 percent and 27 percent points more Democratic women than Democratic men utilized their scarce resources of time, staff, and political capital to develop women’s issue legislation. Among Republicans, 83 percent of Republican women sponsored a women’s issue bill in the 103rd Congress, compared to just 37 percent of Republican men. However, in the 104th Congress, the proportion of Republican women sponsoring women’s issue bills dropped to 59 percent, only 12 percentage points more than Republican men. This 24 percentage point drop was largely due to the election of six conservative Republican freshman women, none of whom sponsored any type of women’s issue bill. […]
The influence of gender on a member’s legislative behavior is highly dependent on his/her specific political ideology. All Democratic women and moderate Republican women are much more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues of the same party and ideology. In contrast, conservative Republican women are not more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their conservative Republican male counterparts.
So it appears likely that having women in government does make a difference to what laws are proposed and passed.
Although these reports are several years old, they’re especially relevant today, since we have now elected record-breaking numbers of women to congress, and we will soon have the first female Speaker of the House in US history. (I really love Jen’s take on that).
November 9, 2006
The British government is rising the Council Tax for some localities.
People who live in areas with good schools, clean streets and low crime rates face huge increases in their council tax bills.
Home owners and tenants will be charged hundreds, and possibly thousands, of pounds extra if they live in a “locality” deemed by ministers and officials to be more desirable than others. The rises could be as great as four times, sending some bills spiralling from £1,000 to £4,000.
In other words, if your kid does well in school, if you or your neighbors don’t throw garbage (or urinate, defecate or puke) in the streets, and if you don’t commit crimes nor does any of your neighbors, you pay more taxes.
Conversely, street-litterers, parents whose kids don’t get good grades, and criminals essentially get a tax cut.
Leaving aside the pure lunacy of that, what is really interesting about this:
For the first time, data provided by the national census, school exam results and crime statistics will be fed into the calculations. Householder income, cohabitation and, in what many MPs will regard as a highly contentious move, ethnicity will be taken into account. The information being used by the Government distinguishes between “farming communities”, for example, and “multi-ethnic, crowded flats”.
“Hey, we won the election! What should we do now?”
“I’m getting bored with just being snarky at grownups. Let’s really celebrate our victory. Let’s go see if we can find some eight-year old girls to shit on.”