What I’m Reading, September 25, 2015

The terrifying cost of the Planned Parenthood hoax: “I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech”, Bob Cesca, Salon, September 12, 2015

What’s also perfectly clear is that a series of horrendously edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of ghoulish criminal activity has effectively amplified the anti-choice outrage machine, which has to include the well-known terrorist fringe of the movement. As with the connection between the protest and the attack, there’s no way to know at this point whether the terrorist or terrorists responsible were specifically incited by the videos, but it’s reasonable to conclude that the videos, while being fraudulently produced, have touched off a new chapter of unmitigated sanctimony and bug-eyed fury over Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer reproductive services for women.

Of course, the fakery of the videos, as well as the reality that Planned Parenthood saves considerably more lives than abortion services performed is irrelevant in the face of single-minded automatons who are feverishly motivated by the very thought of an aborted fetus. Nothing, in their minds, morally outweighs the photographic images of fetuses. Nothing. Yes, it’s all very graphic to laypeople, but the procedure shouldn’t in any universe morally justify threats or acts of terrorism. The same can be said about too many congressional and state level Republicans who are wasting untold millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue to investigate Planned Parenthood based on completely false charges. No wonder Florida Governor Rick Scott scrubbed the results of his investigation when they ended up showing zero wrongdoing on behalf of the clinics.

Bernie Sanders’s speech at Liberty University wasn’t a stunt. It’s core to his campaign. Andrew Prokop, Vox, September 14, 2015 Continue reading


The Means Do Not Justify the Ends

It bears repeating, now and then, that the people (politicians, activists, etc.) who tend to bray the loudest about the need to stop abortion also tend to oppose any and all measures with an actual, proven track record of reducing the number of abortions—usually because those measures require an acknowledgment that sex is a thing that happens whether they shame people for it or not. That’s something they just cannot do, I guess.

(They also tend to oppose measures that would assist new parents in raising the children they insist those new parents have, but that’s a rant for another day.)

In the face of all this evidence of what actually works, they just keep spinning their wheels. It’s almost like stopping abortion isn’t the real objective, you know?

Or, to put it another way: Continue reading


What I’m Reading, January 29, 2015

McMorris-Rodgers and Anti-Choice Marchers All For ‘Life’ Until It’s Born, Nathalie Baptiste, The American Prospect, January 22, 2015

Currently, 43 million American workers have no paid sick leave. For them, an illness or the illness of a loved one comes with the risk of losing wages, or worse, their jobs. One would think that Obama’s renewed vigor on paid family leave should be extremely attractive to anti-choice activists, with their love of large families.

Why should policies that support families be a top priority for anti-choice activists? Having a child in this country is remarkably pricey—and this is why a majority of women who choose to terminate a pregnancy do so. According to a 2004 Guttmacher Institute survey, 73 percent of women who have an abortion say they made that choice because they could not afford to raise a child. Of those women, 28 percent said that they could not afford childcare, with another 23 percent of respondents saying that they could not afford to provide a child the basic needs of life. The average cost of raising one child is now $245,000 dollars. In 31 states, daycare alone costs more than college.

Essentially, proponents for the March for Life, and others who don’t believe in the right to choose, have forced women between a rock and a hard place: demonized for having a perfectly safe and legal procedure, but given absolutely no aid if she chooses to carry to term. Implementing policies that value families—like paid family leave—would be the true pro-family thing to do. Restricting a woman’s right to abortion while opposing the ways that would allow her take care of herself and her child proves that anti-choicers don’t care about families, they care about control over women’s bodies—and women’s lives.

Stop Blaming Women for Holding Themselves Back at Work, Lisa Miller, New York Magazine, December 1, 2014 Continue reading


It Takes More than Boots

I’ll believe that Ms. Burton stands for life when I see her vote to restore funding to our schools, to vote for a budget that increases funding for child protective services and that assures that low-income women have access to cancer screenings restored. Until then, her boots are nothing more than a kitschy statement that stand for the proposition that she believes it’s OK to pick and choose between which constitutional freedoms we’ll defend, and which we’ll ignore.

Wendy Davis, on the “Stand for Life” cowboy boots worn by her replacement in the Texas Senate, Konni Burton.


What I’m Reading, January 13, 2015

Dating advice from Fox News gets even more obnoxious, Amanda Marcotte, Pandagon, January 2, 2015

Fox News continues its march right past being conservative on gender issues and towards being overtly and grotesquely misogynist. As David Edwards at Raw Story reported, the show Fox & Friends did a New Year’s Day bit praising one of those sexist dating guides that promises women they’ll be able to “catch” a man while simultaneously and unintentionally arguing that men are wretched creatures that no woman should ever mess with. (To be clear, I disagree. There are plenty of men who don’t need a woman to debase herself by acting like an unpaid servant in order to “earn” love, but these kinds of dating guides always assume men are such weak monsters that this is the only way to get one to like you.) The book is called Single Man, Married Man and it purports to be a guide to how to mold yourself to be what men really want. And apparently what men really want is a doorma, though one who pretends that waiting on you hand and foot and never standing up for yourself is a form of “strength”.

Can We Please Stop Pretending Republicans Have Ever Had A Health Care Plan? Scott Lemieux, Lawyers, Guns, & Money, January 9, 2015 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 29, 2014

Financial Start-Ups Aim to Court the Anti-Finance Crowd, William Alden, New York Times, December 22, 2014

Profit is usually a top priority on Wall Street, but some of the latest ventures into finance by start-ups seem to be inspired more by Karl Marx than John Pierpont Morgan.

A number of new financial start-ups are trying to reach younger and middle-class Americans by upending the customary fee structure of traditional brokerage firms and money managers. They are backed by deep-pocketed venture capital investors — and even celebrities like the rapper Snoop Dogg — who are wagering that these upstarts can challenge the Wall Street establishment.


Robinhood, a new brokerage firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., whose founders were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, introduced an app this month that lets customers trade stocks without paying commissions. (The firm plans to make money by offering margin loans and by collecting a portion of the interest earned on customer money invested in money market funds.)


Some industry experts have voiced skepticism about the viability of the new business models, including those of Aspiration and Robinhood. But venture capitalists have been happy to bet that technology-focused start-ups can offer more appealing products for buying stocks or managing savings.

North Carolina’s Outrageous Abortion Requirement Is Struck Down, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, December 22, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, October 14, 2014

Denied. Charles Vestal, Medium, October 10, 2014

The law itself says 20 weeks “from fertilization” (vs. “gestational age”), and we’re actually only 18 weeks from fertilization–my amazing wife tracked her cycle to a T. The hospital acknowledges it isn’t against the letter of the law, but it is a grey area their policies won’t let them touch. Too risky, too hot button a topic.

We are denied the opportunity to even make a humane and doctor sanctioned medical decision by a bill that we never thought would affect us. I was there at the capitol, fighting for the rights of women. It never crossed my mind I would be fighting for my own.

No, We Don’t Want Your Apologies (AKA You are not a very good ally if…), Feminace, October 8, 2014 Continue reading


Refusing to See the Reality

The National Review‘s Kevin Williamson recently wrote that he believes women who have abortions should be executed. He specifically mentioned hanging as the means of execution. I’m not going to get into Williamson’s rhetoric, nor am I going to link to his post (you can look it up.) I’m more interested in how he responded to a few real-life examples of how his idea might play out, as described by RH Reality Check‘s Jodi Jacobson:

In an ongoing Twitter exchange, I asked Williamson if he knew women who had had abortions. He said yes. I asked him if he had told them he thought they should be hanged. No answer. I asked again. No answer. I asked if he would tell the women in his circle who’ve had abortions that he believes they committed homicide. No answer. I asked Williamson if, being consistent and applying the laws he supports to his own family, he would allow his wife to die in a circumstance in which her life were imminently threatened by a pregnancy rather than break his no exceptions rule. He would not answer. I asked if his wife opted for an abortion in a given circumstance, including to save her own life, would he report her to the authorities. Again, no answer. The only reply I got was him calling my line of questioning an “elementary-school trolley problem gambit.”

“Go look it up if you don’t understand,” he added.

In short, he gave no answer when asked to apply his legal proposal to his own family. He refused to take responsibility for the laws and policies he espouses.

Of course, I don’t believe for a second that Williamson thinks anyone he personally knows would ever be subject to his suggested punishment. Either he hasn’t thought it through that far—and refuses to do so now—or he expects anyone in his circle to be above that sort of thing.

What is interesting to me are the ways Williamson, and others like him, choose to deflect the difficult questions. A common tactic I have seen is to dismiss uncomfortable questions by simply calling them “ignorant,” or some similar adjective, and then refusing to discuss the matter further. Here, Williamson cites the “trolley problem,” with liberal helpings of condescension, to dismiss Jacobson. In case you’re unfamiliar with the trolley problem, here’s a version of it: Continue reading


What I’m Reading, October 7, 2014

My day at the gun nuts’ confab: Blunt talk, high drama and mass paranoia, Alexander Zaitchik, Salon, October 7, 2014

Earlier that morning, a speaker had flattered the [Gun Rights Policy Conference] crowd by calling them “the most sophisticated gun-rights gathering in the country.” This is probably true. It’s also telling. All of the room’s combined political experience, intelligence and savvy still does not add up to the ability to grasp how America’s largely unregulated gun trade has become a public health crisis, or why background checks and other common-sense measures poll so well. The gun-rights movement continues to see background checks through the same paranoid prism it sees everything else: the threat of door-to-door gun confiscation.

Why I will no longer speak on all-male panels, Scott Gilmore, MacLean’s, October 4, 2014 Continue reading


Risk Assessment

A piece by Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress notes that the risk of dying from a colonoscopy is about forty times greater than the risk of dying from an abortion, and yet colonscopies are not subject to nearly as many regulatory restrictions—enacted, by the way, by Republicans who hold government regulations in utter disdain on any other issue—as abortion (h/t Lynn).

I suspect that most people who support the intensive regulatory regime currently governing abortion services in states like Texas, if asked about the disparity in regulatory treatment of abortion and colonoscopies despite a reverse disparity in risk factors, would respond with blank stares, because this was never about patient safety or risk.

I also suspect that if they did try to answer the question, they might say something about how colonoscopies, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with being a slutty slutterson. To which I say they aren’t using their imagination.

Yeah, I went there.