Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's OK to tell your abortion story. Some women just don't want to be pregnant

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/20/abortion-story-women-dont-want-be-pregnant

You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your abortion. But with so many women being shamed, shouldn’t we speak out?

Thursday 20 November 2014

I know a woman in her 30s: she’s married, she has a toddler, and she desperately wants a second child – but a dangerous medical condition means that having another baby would be life-threatening. Despite being careful, she got pregnant. She had an abortion because she wasn’t willing to risk her life and leave her child motherless, but she still feels a deep sadness.

I know another woman, in her 20s, who had a shitty boyfriend (but no kids) when her birth control failed and she found herself with a pregnancy she knew she didn’t want – a pregnancy she wasn’t ready for. She was upset about the situation, but had no doubts about what she wanted to do and, after the abortion, no regrets. She rarely thinks about the pregnancy or the abortion anymore.

If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have much more sympathy for the first woman than the second. Though the majority of people in America and Northern Ireland and so many other places believe abortion should be legal, too many of us still think about reproductive rights as if there’s a hierarchy of good and bad abortions – the kind that women “deserve”, and the kind women should be ashamed of.

But those two women? They’re both me.

On Thursday, the 1 in 3 Campaign (a hat tip to the fact that 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion) launched a live-streamed, national abortion speak-out featuring people like Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, comedian Lizz Winstead and artist Favianna Rodriguez – and me.

I’ve written about ending my wanted pregnancy and the turmoil I faced with the decision, but I’ve never before spoken publicly about my first abortion – not because I was ashamed, but because it truly didn’t have that tremendous of an impact on my life. If anything, being able to have that abortion made my life better: I was able to publish my first book, meet my now-husband, cultivate the life that I’m living and build the family that I love.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/20/abortion-story-women-dont-want-be-pregnant

Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/103472733520

Robert Reich
Monday, November 24, 2014


This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification. I’ll come to the qualification in a moment but first the financial case for why it’s worth going to college.

Put simply, people with college degrees continue to earn far more than people without them. And that college “premium” keeps rising.

Last year, Americans with four-year college degrees earned on average 98 percent more per hour than people without college degrees.

In the early 1980s, graduates earned 64 percent more.

So even though college costs are rising, the financial return to a college degree compared to not having one is rising even faster.

But here’s the qualification, and it’s a big one.

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.

In fact, it’s likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they’re overqualified.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 46 percent of recent college graduates are now working in jobs that don’t require college degrees. (The same is true for more than a third of college graduates overall.)

Their employers still choose college grads over non-college grads on the assumption that more education is better than less.

As a result, non-grads are being pushed into ever more menial work, if they can get work at all. Which is a major reason why their pay is dropping.

What’s going on? For years we’ve been told globalization and technological advances increase the demand for well-educated workers. (Confession: I was one of the ones making this argument.)

This was correct until around 2000. But since then two things have reversed the trend.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/103472733520

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ~ Lewis Black - Back in Black (November 19th 2014)


Tommy Chong defends Obamacare on Fox News


Bernie Sanders: US may be at ‘tipping point’ where only ‘the billionaire class’ picks presidents

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/bernie-sanders-us-may-be-at-tipping-point-where-only-the-billionaire-class-picks-presidents/


17 Nov 2014


Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders warned on Monday that the United States may have reached a “tipping point” where the “billionaire class” could block any presidential candidates who were fighting for the working class.

Sanders explained during an interview on CNN that he had been traveling the country to determine if he would have the necessary support for a presidential run in 2016.

“I’m giving some thought to it,” he said. “Taking on the billionaire class, and Wall Street, and the Koch brothers is not an easy task.”

“How are you going to get elected president if you take on the billionaire class?” CNN host Chris Cuomo snarked. “Don’t you watch the elections?”

“I’m going to be very honest with you,” Sanders replied. “We may have reached the tipping point where candidates who are fighting for the working class and the middle class of this country may not be able do it anymore because of the power of the billionaire class.”

“That’s the simple reality,” he continued. “And I have got to ascertain — if I do it, I want to do it well. If I do it, I know that I will need millions of people engaged in a real grassroots campaign to take on big money, and to fight for an agenda, a jobs program, raising the minimum wage, pay equity for women, dealing with climate change, all of these things.”

“And I have to ascertain what kind of support there is out there.”

Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan’s secret tragedy: How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/11/16/thomas_frank_on_ronald_reagans_secret_tragedy_how_70s_and_80s_cynicism_poisoned_democrats_and_america/

Nixon's lies and Reagan's charms created the space for Clinton, Carter and Obama to redefine (and gut) liberalism

Sunday, Nov 16, 2014

“The Invisible Bridge” is the third installment in Rick Perlstein’s grand history of conservatism, and like its predecessors, the book is filled with startling insights. It is the story of a time much like our own—the 1970s, which took America from the faith-crushing experience of Watergate to economic hard times and, eventually, to a desperate enthusiasm for two related figures: the nostalgic presidential aspirant Ronald Reagan, and the “anti-politician” Jimmy Carter. (I discussed Perlstein’s views on Carter in this space a few weeks ago.)

 In blending cultural with political history, “The Invisible Bridge” strikes me as an obvious addition to any list of nonfiction masterpieces. But I also confess to being biased: Not only do I feel nostalgia for many of the events the book describes—Hank Aaron’s pursuit of the home run record, for example—but I have been friends with Rick since long ago, when he was in college and The Baffler was publishing his essays. I interviewed Rick on an Amtrak train traveling from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, a few weeks ago (we were there to do readings from a new anthology of essays); here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
 
Let’s talk Watergate. It’s a Republican scandal, obviously, but here’s the thing: It’s liberalism that has never really recovered. Think about it. Your book starts with Watergate and ends with…well, it doesn’t quite get to the triumph of Reagan, but it comes close.

That’s a profound question. That’s deep. I think that liberalism indeed has never really recovered from Watergate in the following sense: It gave a certain generation of Democrats — and we’ll talk about Gary Hart. . . .

Yeah. He’s going to come up.

It gave a certain generation of Democrats an argument to take on the Republicans at the exact same moment that a new political generation was coming up that had indifference, at best, and contempt, at worst, for the New Deal tradition. So you get this class of Congresspeople who hadn’t really run for any office at all. Very young. Swept into office in 1974, very much arguing on issues of corruption, to be sure, but also lifestyle issues. Often they were representing new suburban constituencies that had traditionally elected Republicans and their spokesman was, in fact, this guy Gary Hart…

You’re getting ahead of yourself here, Rick. There’s a more direct route — I probably should have hinted at it — which is cynicism. That Watergate kicked up this huge cultural contempt for government and all its works. 
\
For government itself. Right, right. You know Ronald Reagan, his speech announcing his surprise challenge against Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination centered around this idea of the “buddy system” in Washington.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/11/16/thomas_frank_on_ronald_reagans_secret_tragedy_how_70s_and_80s_cynicism_poisoned_democrats_and_america/

Why It's Harder Than Ever for Religions to Con Their Followers

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-its-harder-ever-religions-con-their-followers

It's more difficult for religions to control their believers’ access to information.

By Amanda Marcotte November 12, 2014

While the burgeoning atheist movement loves throwing conferences and selling books, a huge chunk--possibly most--of its resources go toward the Internet. This isn’t borne out of laziness or a hostility to wearing pants so much as a belief that the Internet is  uniquely positioned as the perfect tool for sharing arguments against religion with believers who are experiencing doubts. It’s searchable, it allows back-and-forth debate, and it makes proving your arguments through links much easier. Above all else, it’s private. An online search on atheism is much easier to hide than, say, a copy of The God Delusion on your nightstand.

In recent months, this sense that the Internet is the key for atheist outreach has started to move from “hunch” to actual, evidence-based theory. Earlier this year, Allen Downey of the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts examined the spike in people declaring  they had no religion that started in the '90s and found that while there are many factors contributing to it--dropping familial pressure, increased levels of college education--increased Internet usage was likely a huge part of it, accounting for up to 25 percent of the decline in religious belief. While cautioning that correlation does not mean causation, Downey did go on to point out that since so many other factors were controlled for, it’s a safe bet to conclude that the access to varied thought and debate the Internet provides is persuading people to drop their religions.

But in the past few months, that hypothesis grew even stronger when a major American religion basically had to admit that Internet arguments against their faith is putting them on their heels. The Church of Latter Day Saints has quietly released a series of essays, put together by church historians, addressing some of the less savory aspects of their history, such as the practice of polygamy or the ban on black members. The church sent out a memo in September telling church leaders to direct believers who have questions about their religion’s history to these essays, which they presented as a counter to “detractors” who “spread misinformation and doubt.”

While there are plenty of detractors who will share their opinions offline, there’s little doubt that the bulk of the detractors plaguing the church are explaining their views online, which is why this has become a problem now for a church that used to act like it could exert total control over believers’ access to information. One of the church historians, Steven Snow, openly cited the internet as the source of the criticisms. “There is so much out there on the Internet ,” he told the New York Times, “that we felt we owed our members a safe place where they could go to get reliable, faith-promoting information that was true about some of these more difficult aspects of our history.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-its-harder-ever-religions-con-their-followers

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Michael Moore: In Defense of My Friend Bill Maher's Statements on Islam

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/media/michael-moores-defense-bill-maher-over-his-controversial-comments

"When Christians do these things we speak up -- loudly. So why not speak out when Muslims do it?"

By Michael Moore November 9, 2014

Bill Maher is a friend of mine. He stood up for me when I was attacked after my Oscar speech (given on the fourth night of the Iraq War, a war Bill publicly opposed while 70% of the country, including the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, supported it), and I stood up for him when ABC fired him and cancelled his show when he attempted to stop the hysteria and fear-mongering after 9-11 -- resulting in the Bush White House publicly ordering him to watch what he says -- or else. When Bill got his HBO show, he went on a 7-year tear against the Bush administration and became one of our most unapologetic and unrelenting voices against the insanity being shoved down our throats.
I, for one, am glad there's at least one top comedian who isn't afraid to say the word "capitalism" or give credence to the good of socialism.

You may not agree with Bill on everything. Yet I'm guessing you love it when he goes after the Uterun Police/Protectors of Child Rapists (also known as The Vatican), or when he brilliantly satirizes the crazy Christian Right which has controlled much of our politics for the past 33 years. I certainly do.


But when Bill goes after Islam, or crazy people professing to be Muslim, we grow uncomfortable. Why is that? Because when he bravely ridicules and attacks Christian assassins of abortion doctors who cite the Bible as justification for their evil acts, we heartily applaud him. But when he mercilessly stomps on Islamic assassins who cite the Koran, we grow uneasy. Why the switch on our part? Is it because Bill doesn't just stop with the Islamic assassins -- he thinks anyone who follows the Koran is a bit nuts? Or the Bible or the Talmud or the... you name it. He thinks it's all coo coo for cocoa puffs.

I have, when I'm on Bill's show, told him there are far more examples historically of the death and destruction that Christians have brought to the planet, from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the wiping out of Native Americans to the Holocaust. But he points out that, in truth, the Jesus followers seem to have taken a break lately in their genocidial lust -- and that the debate should be about the present; i.e., which religion is now doing most of the terrorizing?

Though I would maintain that it is still the Judeo-Christian West whose armies and banks and institutions keep much of the third world under a heavy economic boot, resulting in a lot of hunger, suffering and death, Bill asks, "If I draw a cartoon of Jesus in a dress, will Christian leaders issue a call to assassinate me?"

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/media/michael-moores-defense-bill-maher-over-his-controversial-comments

Pope Francis: “Unbridled consumerism” will have destructive consequences for the planet

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/11/13/pope_francis_unbridled_consumerism_will_have_destructive_consequences/

In letter to host of upcoming G-20 summit, the pope decries free market fundamentalism

Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

Free market fundamentalism poses a grave threat to both economic security and the health of the planet, Pope Francis warns in a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the host of this weekend’s Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane.

 The letter touches on such issues as fair taxation, hunger, unemployment, financial regulation, climate change, terrorism and poverty. Francis, leader of the globe’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urges leaders to remember that “many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions” in Brisbane. “[I]t would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle,” the pope adds.
 
Francis outlines a turbulent state of global affairs, warning that economic insecurity and social exclusion risk violence and decrying the destructive consequences of “unbridled consumerism.”

“Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists,” he writes. “In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.”

Drawing attention to human rights challenges like the dire situation confronting religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, the pope writes that leaders must also acknowledge “forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious.”“I am referring specifically to abuses in the financial system such as those transactions that led to the 2008 crisis, and more generally, to speculation lacking political or juridical constraints and the mentality that maximization of profits is the final criterion of all economic activity,” he continues.

Rather than allowing the free market to go unchecked, the pope calls on leaders to place the poor and vulnerable at the heart of their agenda.

“A mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice,” he writes. “Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transgender Pioneer and Stone Butch Blues Author Leslie Feinberg Has Died

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2014/11/17/transgender-pioneer-leslie-feinberg-stone-butch-blues-has-died

She was a pioneer in trans and lesbian issues, workers rights, and intersectionality long before anyone could define the phrase. Her partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and family offered us this obituary.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall November 17 2014

Leslie Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died on November 15. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica, after decades of illness.

She died at home in Syracuse, NY, with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation,” and her work impacted popular culture, academic research, and political organizing.

Her historical and theoretical writing has been widely anthologized and taught in the U.S. and international academic circles. Her impact on mass culture was primarily through her 1993 first novel, Stone Butch Blues, widely considered in and outside the U.S. as a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, the novel has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew (with her earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women).

In a statement at the end of her life, she said she had “never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities” and added that she believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

She preferred to use the pronouns she/zie and her/hir for herself, but also said: “I care which pronoun is used, but people have been disrespectful to me with the wrong pronoun and respectful with the right one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.”

Feinberg was born September 1, 1949, in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Buffalo, NY, in a working-class Jewish family. At age 14, she began supporting herself by working in the display sign shop of a local department store, and eventually stopped going to her high school classes, though officially she received her diploma. It was during this time that she entered the social life of the Buffalo gay bars. She moved out of a biological family hostile to her sexuality and gender expression, and to the end of her life carried legal documents that made clear they were not her family.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2014/11/17/transgender-pioneer-leslie-feinberg-stone-butch-blues-has-died

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Defense of Going Barefaced

I get tired of the whole gender, gender, gender business.  I especially get tired of the idea that since I am a woman I always wear high heels, make-up and love pink.

For the record I prefer purple and running shoes.  I don't remember the last time I wore make-up.  Maybe on a job interview but even then I feel like it is false advertising since since chances of my wearing make-up to work ever day hover some where in the range of slim to zero.

The whole gender queer thing leaves me feeling as though people are putting me on because it give credence to the stereotypes sold by corporations are real instead of advertising.  I sometimes wonder if the realization that advertising is the projection of a fantasy work and bears no connection to reality makes some of us gifted with the ability to see beyond the spectacle to reality.

From Cafe:  http://www.cafe.com/r/315d6157-ac76-435c-a5dd-995c8d01a947/1/i-hate-makeup-in-defense-of-going-barefaced

by Deborah Copaken
Thursday, November 13th 2014


A couple of years ago, just before Facebook went public, I was sitting with its COO Sheryl Sandberg in a green room off the Museum of Natural History, just prior to an important presentation she was giving to the New York advertising industry. (I’d written an article about how Facebook had saved my then four-year-old’s life, and Sandberg had reached out and invited me as an example of the actual good social networks can do.) The excitement in that green room, pre-IPO, was palpable. Sandberg looked radiant in her blue dress, raring to go. This despite the fact that her face—the face of Facebook—was completely devoid of makeup. 
I wanted to hug her for this. To stand up and jump up and down and shout, “Yes yes yes! You go, girl!”
I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about when the assistant with the clipboard walked in—it was either Sandberg’s upcoming book, Lean In, or the release of my latest novel, which I promised to send her—but I do remember we were deep in our conversation and enjoying ourselves and our beverages when the assistant said, “Okay, Sheryl, you’re needed in hair and makeup.”
Sandberg’s face—her beautifully unpainted face—fell. “It’s crazy, isn’t it?” she said, seeming to read my mind. “And so unfair.” Many of the other speakers that day, all of them heads of various departments at Facebook, were male. They weren’t needed in hair and makeup and never would be. I didn’t have a tape recorder with me that day, so I can’t quote the rest of what Sandberg said directly, but suffice it to say we shared some choice words on the topic of the wasted hours we women lose to primping, just so that we can be taken as seriously as men. A man without makeup is a man. A woman without makeup is making a statement that can grossly interfere with how she is viewed, paid, and heard.
A man without makeup is a man. A woman without makeup is making a statement that can grossly interfere with how she is viewed, paid, and heard.
Neither of us, however, had any quick solutions to this conundrum. It would require the type of feminist awakening, we decided, that no women’s magazine would ever touch. In fact, I told her, I’d tried pitching some version of this story to various women’s magazines over the years, even though I knew they’d never buy it, as they are financially dependent on ad sales from L’Oreal and Maybelline, and you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. 

Continue reading at:  http://www.cafe.com/r/315d6157-ac76-435c-a5dd-995c8d01a947/1/i-hate-makeup-in-defense-of-going-barefaced

Monday, November 10, 2014

Baffled Canadian Writes To U.S. Voters After Midterm: ‘You Don’t Know How Good You Have It With Obama’

From Addicting Info:  http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/11/09/baffled-canadian-writes-to-u-s-voters-after-midterm-you-dont-know-how-good-you-have-it-with-obama/

November 9, 2014

As an American, I’ve found myself dizzied by the hypocrisy of the midterm election: a majority of people reported that the economy was their number one concern, and yet they overwhelmingly voted against the president who has been bringing the economy back on track and instead gave the reins back to a political party which was almost entirely responsible for derailing it in the first place. So if I was confused, imagine how it must look to the outside observer. Americans must look nuts.

To get a sense of just how baffled the rest of the world is at how Americans voted this year, we find a Letter to the Editor of a Detroit newspaper, written by a Canadian who just doesn’t get it. First noticed by Rick Strandlof who tweeted a picture of it, the piece, published by the Detroit Free Press, is devastating. Titled “You Americans have no idea just how good you have it with Obama,” the author, Victoria, British Columbia resident Richard Brunt, goes on to list an impressive array of accomplishments under Obama – none of which the American voter seemed the least bit interested in.

The letter reads:
Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections. Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country’s adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there’s no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money.

America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.

So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason.

When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way?
The letter is on point in a number of ways, but for my money the most salient point is when it mentions the repaired image Obama has given to the United States after Bush killed the country’s credibility over the last decade. It may not be expressed often from within the right-wing echo chamber that dominates the American news media, but Obama is viewed very favorably on the international stage and his presidency has been a soothing touch to a very bad reputation. In one of Dick Cheney’s monthly “criticize the president” national tours, he remarked that he thought America’s image around the world was “increasingly negative.” The Atlantic decided to fact check that idea and found… well… you’ll see:

Continue reading at:  http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/11/09/baffled-canadian-writes-to-u-s-voters-after-midterm-you-dont-know-how-good-you-have-it-with-obama/