Contraception not lookin’ like a winner for the Rs or for Rush

March 14, 2012

A new Bloomberg poll should convince the guys – and a few gals (where is Michele Bachmann on this, anyhow?) – on the other side of the aisle (heck, the other side of the 20th Century) they ought to be more concerned with job creation and such and less about whether women have sex.

People see this as a health care issue, not one of religious freedom. Now, I’m sure the Rs were counting on Catholic priests (backed up, as I noted earlier, with millions in lobbying funds) mounting their pulpits every Sunday from here to November to decry Obama and urge their flocks to vote Mittens, but it doesn’t look to be playing out that way.

And I particularly love the finding that a majority of Americans polled want Limbaugh to take a hike:

More than half of those interviewed also say radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called a female law student testifying publicly in favor of birth-control coverage a “slut” and “prostitute,” should be fired based solely on those comments.

The market isn’t showing the All-American Oaf a lot of love these days, either.


The Holy See visits K Street, checkbook in hand

March 14, 2012

The Hill has a story up by Eliza Newlin Carney that should sour sacramental wine.

Apparently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not content to use its inherent moral stature, nor its perch from thousands of pulpits across the land, to preach its message. No, they’re willing to get in there and throw elbows like any other special interest that has mega-millions to spend and pop for a reported $26.7 Large to lobby Congress in their relentless struggle against women’s choice.

That would have bought a lot of hot meals, or a few hundred affordable homes, or a couple of medical clinics (which would never, ever dispense contraceptives). Or a lot of recompense for the families of all those children who were sexually abused by men of faith they trusted.

I have no bone to pick with religions having their say in political matters, even getting engaged in the kind of grassroots advocacy other groups practice with their elected officials. But there’s something unseemly about the men of the cloth hiring the guys from Gucci Gulch.


So long, Encyclopaedia Brittannica

March 13, 2012

After 244 years of publication the Encyclopaedia Britannica will cease to be available in hard copy after the current supply runs out.

This, as president Jorge Cauz notes, was foreseeable, even inevitable. And I can understand the greater value of an information resource that is continuously updated.

So, I regret the passing of the hard-cover version, but there is something much more troubling to me, as Lynne Kobayashi, the Hawaiian librarian, points out. We live in a world where information is available from almost innumerable sources through a couple of mouse clicks, but (a) that information is only accessible if you have a computer – see any number of articles on the “digital divide” – and (b) without professional guidance, it’s almost impossible for a user to determine the quality of that information. The internet is lively, free (except when we’re giving up our privacy to be bombarded with advertising), and practically limitless, but that lovely chaos also means all kinds of crap can masquerade as fact. Listen to any high-school, or even college, teacher bemoan students’ reliance on Wikipedia.

(Let me hasten to add that’s not meant to be a knock of Wikipedia per se. It’s a useful general reference; I use it often. But it’s not an academic source.)

Britannica will still be available online, but it will cost you, and so it competes with information sources that are free, but less credible. I don’t like those odds, nor do I like the implications of a global society being dumbed down because they couldn’t tell the difference between fact and crap. Sorta like Fox News . . . .


Thomas Edsall absolutely nails it in the NYT

March 12, 2012

His brilliant lede says it all – Instead of serving as a springboard to social mobility as it did for the first decades after World War II, college education today is reinforcing class stratification . . . .

But he then goes on to explain, in great detail, how a college degree, universally considered to be the stepping stone to a better life with greater opportunity and security, is becoming an unreachable goal for too many qualified Americans whose families simply cannot afford it.

And, as always, this is not some natural phenomenon, but a direct result of policy choices, choices that are only increasing the gap – it’s a gulf, really – between a wealthy few and the rest of us.

Read it and weep, or, better yet, read it and get very angry. Then get active.

UPDATE – Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich weighs in.


Women apparently don’t like having men try to dictate their sex lives

March 11, 2012

Be they politicians or radio motormouths.

Politicians first: Republicans made enough electoral gains among women to capture the House and solidify their working majority (in concert with a few ConservaDems) in the Senate in 2010 and put Obama–and Democrats generally–in serious jeopardy.

Polling last summer showed Republicans had drawn pretty close to even in support. But that's history.

NYT today has this piece which should give the Right pause, if they can see beyond the ends of their manparts. They are losing support among women who identify themselves as moderates.

When, instead of addressing serious economic issues (women care about that, you know), you spend most of your time on offense across the country against women’s ability to make their own choices in life and even stoop to mocking them for treating contraception as a health issue, they tend to take offense.

But Dems now have to show they deserve this support, and not just on choice and contraception.

And as for the motormouths: Over in the private sector, where bottom line is everything and people get concerned about alienating customers, it seems advertisers are getting a little tired of paying for the crazy. Note, in particular: Women ages 24–55 are the prize advertising demographic, and you have a perfect storm emerging after Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke comments.

There are some very heavy hitters involved here, Ford, GM, Toyota, McDonald’s, Subway. I doubt Limbaugh, for example, will attract enough cheating services to pick up the slack.

Meanwhile, there is a good resource for information about this battle, RH Reality Check.


Just about my favorite quote of all time

March 11, 2012

From Pablo Picasso -

“When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”


Late Night Listening with Delbert McClinton

March 10, 2012

I don’t know if he ever gets tired of singing this song, but I sure never get tired of listening – and dancing – to it.


Irony, doubtless unintended

March 10, 2012

One Mary Brown, middle-aged owner of an auto repair shop down in Florida, became a darling of the Right as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (the Chamber of Commerce for small business owners) against the Obama health care law.

“[She] doesn’t have insurance. She doesn’t want to pay for it. And she doesn’t want to government to tell her she has to have it,” said an NFIB lawyer.

Fine, Ms. Don’t-Want-Nothin’-From-Nobody Libertarian. So you don’t have insurance. What you do have is $4,500 in unpaid medical bills, and now, while your lawsuit is headed for the Supreme Court, you’re in a different court, that of bankruptcy.

And you have lots of company, even including people with insurance, although they have substantially lower debt, on average, than those without.

Coverage was a great idea, but we still need to attack costs, which are far and away the highest in the world. Note, by the way, that McKinsey Global Institute report said the system needs to do more in the way of incentives to keep costs down. However, a big chunk of the overall cost is due to administrative costs. It’s also worth noting that the admin costs in the private sector are about seven times as high as in that Big Socialist Gummit Program called Medicare.


International Women’s Day

March 9, 2012

That would be today.

Ironic that it falls this year in the midst of a furious battle to protect the rights and health of women. That fat moron Limbaugh is the most visible enemy, but it's a much bigger issue than one rude, foul-mouthed, blowhard.

This little gem in particular caught my eye today.

Then there’s the matter of equal pay. In the U.S., women, on average, earn 77 percent of what men earn.

You don’t need me, for sure, to talk about how tough it all is, but from time to time, somebody should remind us how tough women can be.

Or listen to the words of Sojourner Truth:

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from?
From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again!
And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

Me, neither.


Melinda Bussino

March 7, 2012

I have lost a a dear friend, an inspiration, a hero..

Melinda Bussino, 65, passed away Sunday. She was the first and only director of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center, a homeless shelter. I knew her personally and professionally for a dozen years, and I enjoyed and admired her as much as anyone I knew.

She was Dorthea Dix and Mother Jones wrapped into one. She saw life and people whole, true, and clearly. She saw flaws and shortcomings and strengths and soul. Once she was set on something, she didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone getting in her way, and most people knew better than that, anyhow.

There was never enough money and always more than enough suffering around her, and sometimes when I saw her, there was exhaustion in her face, but determination in her eyes. She was funny, too, in that deep, knowing way you have to earn over years. I visited the Drop-In Center many times, interviewed Melinda for a report on family homelessness, and carried on a running dialogue over the phone, email, and any number of meeting room tables. There was no one tougher, smarter, more honest, or more completely committed to her calling.

We are all richer, no matter where we live or whether we knew her name, for her life, and the world is a poorer place without her.

God Bless You, Melinda.



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