Category Archives: Politics

Some assorted links, because I’m too beat for thought

In El Salvador, all abortion is banned. Even if the fetus can’t be born alive. Even if it’s a nine-year-old. One 18 year old spent four years in prison because police found her miscarriage suspicious (it would have been thirty if she hadn’t had support).
•Jim Hines dissects one guy’s solution to “taking the power back” from men who cat-call women: Ask the guy for his number!
•California bans non-reusable plastic bags.
•In Louisiana, the state pays for the cost of rape kits at the E/R, but the hospital often charges victims for the visit, any drugs they get … While in another state, the victim has to pay for a drug test (if she thinks she was roofied) unless the prosecutor agrees the expense is justified.
•Transferring money from families to relatives in prison is very profitable for the companies that do it.
•Ms discusses “benevolent sexism, a kind of reworked version of putting your wife on a pedestal.
•If you think the GOP is conservative now, it’s going to get worse after the election.
•Lena Dunham had a wonderful idea for her upcoming tour: hire people to work as her upcoming acts and not pay them.
•In the wake of the recent beheading by that Muslim guy in Oklahoma, the right wing freaks out (surprise!).
•A North Carolina teacher explains that the public school system’s attack on Christianity is like the Holocaust.
•The FBI objects to the very possibility smart phones might become so secure the FBI can’t just access them.

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And of course, there’s sexism (because when isn’t there?)

Back in the 1990s, Camille Paglia’s supposedly edgy, outside-the-box cultural criticism gave her a reputation as a deep thinker (I read one of her books. She’s not). And the fact she bashes feminists at every opportunity doesn’t hurt, I suspect. Of course, a lot of her bashing was how feminists are all uptight prudes who hate het sex. Now the no-I’m-really-sex-positive Paglia has joined Rod Dreher and George Will in explaining that all these campus assaults are just “oafish hookup melodramas” and girls don’t realize dressing slutty gets you raped (“They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic.

•Cathy Young of Reason magazine has apparently found a steady gig at Time. One column argues that Hope Solo, the soccer star who allegedly assaulted her husband is benefiting from a double standard—she’s still playing where Ray Rice got canned. Except, of course, Rice was caught on video, where the charges against Solo haven’t been proven. If they are, yeah, drop her.

Young also oddly acknowledges that Emma Watson’s recent speech mentioned that gender stereotyping discriminates against men—“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society, despite my need of his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.” And then goes on to complain that men are discriminated against as parent and therefore feminists like Watson are wrong. And here’s more right-wing reaction to Watson’s speech.

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Lets link about telecommunications!

Scam artists have a variety of ways to charge you for services or text messaging you never asked for. Telecoms insist the practices victimizes them even though they take the money.

•The number of IP addresses and web users is overloading the routers that manage web traffic.

•Even in towns where they don’t offer Internet service, ISPs don’t want competition from public networks. AT&T says if there’s any chance a service provider might want to move in someday, municipal broadband should be illegal. The FCC, however, admits there’s not enough competition and no incentive to speed up broadband rates. And when there is competition, wow, service suddenly improves.

•Of course, Comcast argues the FCC should approve its proposed Time Warner merger because as there’s no competition in most areas, most consumers won’t find a Comcast-ruled world any less competitive.

•ISPs also aren’t happy with the FCC proposing “broadband” should be redefined to a higher speed level. And AT&T and Verizon think data caps on home broadband use are perfectly reasonable, if not downright good for Internet users. But despite AT&T’s claims it needs caps to ease Internet congestion, it’s willing to offer much more data to new cell-phone subscribers.

•Some people who use the Tor super-secure browser claim Comcast threatened to kill their Internet service on the grounds they must be doing something dirty. Comcast denies it.

•Do you know what’s really in that WiFi hotspot terms-of-use page?

•Netflix asks why ISPs should charge Netflix for streaming to people’s homes (Netflix has paid several companies that seem to be bottlenecking the service) instead of paying Netflix (“[W]e’ll pay 10% of your network costs if we get 10% of broadband revenue. Or we’ll pay 10% of your network costs if you want to pay 10% of our content costs.”)

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Sexists behaving badly (as usual)

Emma Watson makes a speech saying that gender stereotyping hurts men two, so both sexes should work to end it. So some 4chan users vow to release nude pictures of her online, to teach the Evil Feminist Bitch a lesson. And no, allowing nude photos of yourself does not mean you asked for it. (Update: It’s a hoax put on by some anti-4chan group).
•The Boston Globe provides a quick guide to the events that had gamers freaking out and making rape threats this summer.
•Missouri now requires a 72-hour waiting period before abortion because—well, because they don’t want women getting one. And a Missouri politician is arguing that if Hobby Lobby can deny employees birth-control coverage, then his daughters (two of them adult) shouldn’t be able to get birth control from his insurer.
•Rush Limbaugh’s take on the recent NFL spousal abuse case: Maybe the wife thought being married to a rich and famous guy was worth being hit. A lot of other right-wingers are busy explaining how it’s all liberals’ fault.
•Men are more likely to get flextime requests than women.
•A recent article argues that men actually get harassed more online than women. Echidne takes a closer look.
•A miscarried fetus is found in a school bathroom. Police investigate because dammit, you can’t have girls miscarrying those precious babies! In Iowa, a woman falls down the stairs, then gets charged with feticide because she admitted she was uncomfortable about having the baby, so maybe it wasn’t an accidental fall, eh? Apparently the charges were only dropped because she was in her second trimester, so even if it was intentional she wasn’t a criminal under Iowa law. I’ve covered this topic before.
•In the same vein, a woman faces 18 months in jail because she bought her daughter an abortion drug.
•Here’s an oldie: Marriage counseling columns from the pre-feminist days when everything was the wife’s fault including loneliness and abuse. Which is an era I’ve blogged about here. On the plus side, domestic violence has declined since that era.
•A Brazilian woman goes to a skeevy illegal clinic to get an abortion. It appears she died and the doctor burned the body.
Now an upbeat ending:
•California makes affirmative consent a standard in campus sexual assault: people need to have “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” though it can be nonverbal.

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Body hair, hating men and other undead sexist cliches

•The Bloggess responds to a new Tumblr, Women Against Feminism. The Tumblr consists of photos of women holding up signs saying they are not feminist BECAUSE…
Some of them certainly have valid complaints, such as dealing with racism in the feminist movement. No question there are racist feminists and I’ve read several complaints about feminism not showing enough concern for non-white women. Though I agree with the bloggess, that’s not a reason to reject feminism as a movement rather than specific feminists.
Another woman posted that feminism is bad because feminists assume all women or all true women share their personal experiences. This one, I don’t buy. A lot of feminism isn’t about personal experience, it’s about statistics, politics, policies, rights: I’ve never had an abortion, I’ve never been sleeping with someone who got one, but I still believe in the right to abortion. I think it’s a right women should have, and I think giving the fetus equal rights invariably takes them away from women.
And then we get into cliches that were common back in the early 1970s. Like feminism is all about not shaving body hair (one poster says she doesn’t shave hers, but she’s not feminist because she’s not doing it to make a statement). More than one talks about relationships and says since they want a happy relationship with a man, therefore, they’re against feminism (and “all your lies about empowered sluthood and rape culture and evil men.”).
Same old, same old. “Feminists hate men” or “feminists are just pissed off because they can’t get a man” have been staples since the late 1960s. And the fixation on body hair is popular too, plus more generally that feminists are objectionable because they don’t look good, don’t dress to attract men and just aren’t womanly enough. As with the undead sexist cliche that feminists are too serious and humorless to be respected, this is not a standard applied to other activists. But the idea women’s worth is in their looks is deeply engrained.
As for feminists hating men or believing all men are evil … as someone who’s known a lot of feminists, bullshit (I could give a more reasoned answer, but I’m tired). There are some extremists who go there, but they are an extreme.
And of course, we have the inevitable complaints about feminists having a “victim complex.” Because pointing out victims exist and that some of them are worse off because of their gender (or race or faith) is just objectionable, especially when American women are so well off.
I can’t help wondering how many of the posters actually subscribe to a feminist viewpoint—like believing they should be paid equally for their work, have the same rights as a man and judged on their merit, not on their gender. I’ve known more than a few women who are very feminist, but they recoil from the name. Either because the name’s been associated by 40 years of right-wing shrieking with “ugly man-hating women who don’t shave” or because they honestly don’t think there is any sexism to fight (as I’ve mentioned before, it’s easy to think that if you don’t remember the pre-feminist era).
But if you really want a good response to Women Against Feminism, this 2011 post hits it out of the ballpark even before those Tumblr posts existed.

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I haven’t picked on David Brooks in a while …

So let’s look at his recent claims that we have to take action against Russia (over the Ukraine) and ISIS in the Middle East not because they threaten us but because they threaten the world order: “the underlying frameworks by which nations operate are being threatened in fairly devastating ways.” It’s been understood for “the past few decades, or even centuries” that powerful nations can’t simply take other countries just because they’re strong enough. And that governments don’t impose religion on their subjects, as ISIS is doing. So even though they’re not a threat outside the immediate area, they’re “a fundamental threat … to our civilizational order.” They MUST be stopped! (All of which, by the way, fits perfectly with this description of pundits proclaiming every crisis a catastrophe)
Where to begin? Well, for starters, Brooks is displaying a massive or willful ignorance of history. Go back just 200 years and you’ll see the powerful nations of Europe dividing up the continent post-Napoleon pretty much however they chose. If, say, Russia won a province formerly controlled by Saxony, Saxony got a piece of Sardinia in return. Who cares what the provincial inhabitants thought?
And that’s just Europe. If you look at the rest of the world—America’s occupation of the Philippines, the European nations grabbing for colonies—then no, the most we can say is “decades.” Only I wouldn’t give it even that: After all, we invaded Iraq in 2003 for no other reason than we were strong enough and we really wanted to. And Brooks, I note, was an enthusiastic supporter of the war, discussing how wonderfully it was going (then shaking his head at how everyone else got it wrong) and declaring war would be good for our character, making us more interested in money and God (Brooks is, in fact, quite nostalgic for the days when a conservative elite imposed morality and faith on the lower orders of America).
And as other bloggers have pointed out, Brooks’ rationale would pretty much justify intervention in anything anywhere, because any terrorism or border wars or civil war is a threat to civilizational order and must be stopped. Or at least, any threat Brooks cares about: ISIS bad, Russia bad, I doubt we’ll see him calling for intervention in Rwanda, Saudi Arabia or to free Tibet from China. The world order is only threatened when David Brooks says it’s threatened.
And yet he has a slot on the New York Times editorial page and Sunday morning talk shows. Pundit job security is a wonderful thing.

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Persecute me, please!

As I’ve written before, some conservatives love to see themselves as persecuted. Now Rod Dreher and Erick Erickson have declared persecution is a good thing. It’s a sign the Christian is doing right, standing up for conservatives against people who disagree with them—ooops, I mean against people who hate Christians (Erickson’s claim) because who else would support gay rights or oppose anti-gay legislation? It’s not just a good thing—Christians should rejoice and embrace persecution because it proves their virtue!
In some ways this is the equivalent of all those right-wing pundits who called for people who weren’t them to go off and fight against Saddam. Erickson and Dreher are successful pundits with good jobs and comfortable lives; I don’t see any sign either of them is doing anything that would lead to actual persecution, even by the broadest definition. They only suffer because they have to seeing gay people walking around being gay without any consequences (and Dreher also hates seeing slutty girls who won’t take responsibility for being raped). Not exactly being thrown to the lions.
I suspect this is more in the nature of shoring up the troops, reassuring them that yes, they are being persecuted even if they’re sitting around comfortably. Erickson’s post is almost a caricature of attacks on liberals, condemning Christians who instead of fighting the gay agenda are “on birth control or watching whatever trendy HBO series is on or having a cocktail or perfectly willing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.” Which doesn’t make a lot of sense even so, but it’s the best explanation I can come up with.
As roy Edroso says at the link, this does not sound like a pitch for a movement that’s gaining converts.

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