Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton's problem? We just don't trust women

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/hillary-clinton-women-trust

It’s incredible that voters consider Donald Trump more honest than his opponent. But it’s sadly in line with society’s double standards

Thursday 22 September 2016

Blues legend BB King once sang: “Never trust a woman, until she’s dead and buried.” Sadly, it’s a sentiment that sounds just at home in our current political discourse as it does an old song: while this week’s NBC/WSJ poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in general support, voters consider Trump more “honest and straightforward” than Clinton by 10 points.

Let’s take a moment to consider this. A candidate whose first campaign ad was judged by one site to contain one lie every four seconds and who, according to Huffington Post, told over 70 lies in just one televised town hall; a man who one philosopher argues has “perfected the outrageous untruth as a campaign tool”, is considered more honest than his opponent.

This isn’t a new problem for Clinton – a CNN poll from July found that only 30% of people surveyed found Clinton trustworthy, while 43% thought Trump was. It’s also not a new issue for American women.

The notion that women are fundamentally untrustworthy snakes through almost every area of our lives. Managers distrust women who ask for flextime; women who show anger are less trusted than their male counterparts; and people think the more makeup a woman wears, the less trustworthy she is. (In fact, there is a trove of “don’t trust women” memes inspired by before-and-after pictures of women with makeup.)

Republican policies and conservative thought, too, rely on this belief. Legislators have tried to pass laws that would mandate women get written permission from men before obtaining abortions, or have suggested that rape and incest exceptions would give way to women lying about abuse. There is a reason that one of the phrases most often used by the pro-choice community is “trust women”.

When it comes to sexual assault or domestic violence, victims – the vast majority of whom are women – are still widely disbelieved. When Amber Heard brought charges against her then-husband Johnny Depp, she was accused of fabricating the allegations to extort him in their divorce settlement. Only when a video of Depp appearing to behave aggressively was released and Heard donated millions from the settlement to a charity did the scrutiny slow. There are literally dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape, and still there are people who believe every single one of them is making it up, something I find barely credible. The way that the police doubt sexual assault victims has even been shown to be part of the reason we have such a backlog of untested rape kits: officers treat women shoddily and they don’t want to come back to pursue charges.

When we don’t trust women, when we disbelieve them even in the face of thoroughly convincing evidence, everyone suffers.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/hillary-clinton-women-trust

Alicia Keys and the ‘Tyranny of Makeup’

From The New York Times: 
It was the Friday before Labor Day, and Alicia Keys, the 35-year-old pop star, was on the “Today” show performing for the program’s summer concert series — she’s about to release a new album, and she wrote the theme song for “Queen of Katwe,” out next week. There was a lot to talk about. But instead, Ms. Keys spent most of her time talking about makeup (and not wearing it) with the anchors Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker, who were doggedly wiping the pancake off their faces.

“You’re all crazy,” said Ms. Keys, swabbing Ms. Hall’s cheeks. “This isn’t even what it’s about!”
“It” is #nomakeup — a meme, a movement, a cri de coeur — that has been roiling social media for months. If you missed the kerfuffle, it started in May, when Ms. Keys wrote an essay for Lenny, Lena Dunham’s online magazine, about the insecurities she felt being a woman in the public eye, and the roles (and makeup) she put on over the years to armor herself. She wrote about the anxiety she endured if she left her house unadorned: “What if someone wanted a picture? What if someone posted it?” And then, when she went without makeup or styling for an album portrait, she felt liberated, and the act became a metaphor. “I hope to God it’s a revolution,” she wrote.

In the months that followed, Ms. Keys was seemingly everywhere — always without makeup, always beautiful — performing at the Democratic National Convention, on “The Voice” and the MTV Video Music Awards, at the Tom Ford show during New York Fashion Week.

That’s a nice story, right? Inspiring and kind of sweet? Feh. “Makeup-gate 2016,” as The New York Post and others called it, has grown only weirder and louder, as Twitter was at first ignited with Alicia Keys supporters, and then flooded with a backlash against her. And then with the backlash to the backlash. #Nomakeup was empowering and brave. No, it was annoying, incendiary and invasive. Ms. Keys’s (mostly female) detractors howled at her disingenuousness (surely she had spent thousands on skin care?) and her deceit (surely she was wearing tinted moisturizer?); some slammed her for not looking pretty enough (though they used coarser words than those).

Late last month, Swizz Beatz, Ms. Keys’s husband, took to Instagram with a video defending his wife: “This is deep,” he said, clearly incredulous. “Somebody’s sitting home mad, because somebody didn’t wear makeup on their face?”

Don’t be surprised that this is news, said Letty Cottin Pogrebin, the second-wave feminist activist and author. “It’s all so familiar,” she said. “Alicia Keys could be taking a page from the no-makeup orthodoxy of the women’s movement 40 years ago. I’d never heard of her before this brouhaha, but now I’ll follow her anywhere. What she’s doing is pop-consciousness-raising. She’s not just talking about the tyranny of makeup. She’s talking about female authenticity. She’s challenging the culture’s relentless standards of feminine conformity and the beauty industry’s incessant product hype.”
(Ms. Pogrebin said that while she was reading Ms. Keys’s essay, an ad popped up for some kind of skin cream.)

Why is it, wondered Linda Wells, founding editor of Allure magazine, that fashion is considered self-expression and makeup is self-absorption? Or something more pernicious? Ms. Wells recalled “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf’s 1991 book in which she argued that contemporary ideals of beauty, proposed in large part by a male-dominated cosmetics industry, were enslaving women and holding them in thrall to all manner of restrictive practices, from makeup to surgery to eating disorders. “I get the argument, but I don’t agree with it,” Ms. Wells said. “To me, we’re not all passive victims. Make your choice, like Alicia Keys. Decide what makes you feel confident and enjoy it.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/fashion/alicia-keys-no-makeup-beauty-movement.html

With Housing Costs Sky-High, the Commune Makes a Comeback

From Realtor.com:  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/commune/?is_wp_site=1

By Clare Trapasso September 21, 2016

Several years ago Aurora DeMarco, 53, was having health problems. The divorced masseuse and hospice care provider was stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed by all the upkeep of her three-bedroom condo in the tony Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, known for its majestic brownstones and trendy boutiques. And she hated that simply meeting a friend in one of the nearby artisanal coffee shops had become “astronomically expensive.”

“Life was a grind,” says DeMarco. “It was a lot of money, time, and effort to maintain that lifestyle.”
So two years ago, DeMarco left it all behind.

In the glorious ’60s, we might have said that she turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Or maybe we’d just cut to the chase and say that she joined a commune. In fact, DeMarco did the modern-day equivalent: She joined “an intentional community,” a group-living arrangement that in some ways harks back to the heyday of hippies. It’s becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for more mainstream residents as rents, home prices, and the cost of living just keep rising.

She now pays $810 a month for her own room in a 10-bedroom house in New York City’s Staten Island as part of the Ganas community. The 75-member group is spread out over eight buildings in the neighborhood. And the best part for DeMarco, who still works outside the community, is everyone shares in the burden of cooking and other daily chores.

“I feel like I have a support network,” DeMarco says. “I’m not so much on the hamster wheel.”
DeMarco is one of a growing number of individuals in recent years who have sought out intentional communities, where people with the same ideals live and work together to achieve them. Some indeed fit the classic ’60s definition of communes—where members have jobs in their communities and share finances, lifestyles, everything. Others are modern varieties of co-housing communities, such as eco-villages where participants strive to be more environmentally friendly.

Continue reading at:  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/commune/?is_wp_site=1

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How Republicans Are Inciting Right-Wing Violence After Election Day

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871

In latest incident, Kentucky's governor said a Clinton presidency may necessitate bloodshed

By September 14, 2016

Over the past several days, pundits and voters alike have been up in arms over "careless" comments made by the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Republicans have whipped themselves into a frenzy over Hillary Clinton daring to characterize half of Donald Trump's supporters as a "basket of deplorables," despite the fact that data supports her claim of Trump's voters being racist xenophobes. (If anything, she underestimated the number.) On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have been hammering Trump's VP pick, Mike Pence, for refusing to fully denounce former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Yet, despite Pence's political cowardice and Clinton's jarring honesty, the most troubling comment of late wasn't made by any of the nominees. It was uttered by Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who, in a speech at the Values Voter Summit Saturday, said conservatives might have to resort to bloodshed for the nation to "recover" from a Clinton presidency.

"I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don't have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case," he said.

"I do think it would be possible [for the nation to recover], but at what price?" he went on. "The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren."

Bevin's comments amounted to the dangerous rantings of a treasonous political figure. To see them any other way is to willfully ignore America's history of white, Christian, right-wing violence.
The governor wasn't talking to soccer moms when he talked about shedding blood over a Clinton presidency. He was playing dog-whistle politics at a time when our nation's citizenry includes a growing number of resentful, irrational, heavily armed pseudo-patriots – a basket of deplorables, you might say.

Despite how white conservatives profess to love "law and order," history shows that to be selectively enforced rhetoric. America was established with rifles and gun powder, and then those same tools were used to maintain status-quo subjugation over minority groups for centuries. This violence is how America "negotiated" with Native peoples and created a massive, unpaid, brutalized workforce. It's how America freed itself from British colonial rule, only to ensure said freedom wasn't granted to black folks. It's how America responded to black sharecroppers who attempted to unionize, economically self-sufficient and thriving black communities, black children who tried to integrate into schools, black students who sat at lunch counters with their white neighbors, and black people who simply wanted the right to vote.

But it's how that history of white conservative violence connects with our modern-day society that makes Bevin's comments so alarming. Since Barack Obama was elected president, the number of armed right-wing militias in the country has exploded, from 42 in 2008 to 276 in 2016 – a direct response to a president who doesn't "look like them" or "share their views." Bevin's audience was people who train sniper rifles on federal agents over "government tyranny" and white supremacists who shoot cops – without any real interference from the GOP. In fact, the incitement of violence and violent rhetoric have become mainstream in the Republican Party. In this election, the GOP nominee has said he could kill a man in broad daylight and not lose a single vote, has alluded to the assassination of his rival, and has openly courted white supremacists.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Can Islam and Liberalism Coexist?

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/08/shadi_hamid_on_islamic_exceptionalism.html

Why Islam resists secularization, and how that continues to shape the politics of the Middle East.

By Aug. 16 2016
One of the hopes that grew out of the Arab Spring was that a relatively moderate strain of Islamist politics could thrive in the region. Given the widespread prevalence of dictators and military-led regimes, and the violent radicals who oppose them in mirrored gruesomeness, groups like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood were seen as potential alternatives. Five years later, however, the Arab Spring has devolved into a collection of bloody failures everywhere from Egypt to Syria. Another proposed model of Islamism—Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey—was already giving way to autocracy well before a quashed coup attempt further entrenched Erdogan’s demagoguery.

These failures have raised the fraught question of whether Islam itself is partially to blame. Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of a new book, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World. The title gives some hint of his provocative analysis. As he writes, “If Islam is, in fact, distinctive in how it relates to politics, then the foundational divides that have torn the Middle East apart will persist, and for a long time to come.”

I recently spoke by phone with Hamid. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed why liberals have trouble taking religion seriously, the future of Islamist politics in Turkey and Egypt, and what the rise of Donald Trump has meant for American Muslims.

Shadi Hamid: I’m essentially arguing that Islam is fundamentally different from other religions in a very specific way: its relationship to law and politics and governance. I wanted to use “exceptionalism” because I felt, at least for me, that it was value-neutral: It can be either good or bad depending on the context. I also wanted to challenge the assumption—very common in the bastions of Northeastern liberal elitism—that religion playing a role in public life is always or necessarily a bad thing. That’s the idea of the title, and what that means in practice is that Islam has proven to be resistant to secularism, and I would argue will continue to be resistant to secularism and secularization really for the rest of our lives.

What do you think it is about Islam that makes it resistant to secularism in a way that, say, Christianity and Judaism are not?

I think you have to go back to the founding moment 14 centuries ago. Jesus was a dissident against a reigning state, so he was never in a position to govern. Naturally, the New Testament is not going to have much to say about public law. Prophet Muhammad wasn’t just a prophet. He was also a politician, and not just a politician, but a head of state and a state-builder. If Prophet Muhammad was in a position of holding territory and governing territory, then presumably the Quran would have to have something to say about governance. Otherwise, how would Prophet Muhammad be guided? That’s one thing intertwining the religion and politics that isn’t accidental, and was meant to be that way.

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/08/shadi_hamid_on_islamic_exceptionalism.html

Why we should have fewer children: to save the planet

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/12/why-we-should-have-fewer-children-save-the-planet-climate-change

The Earth’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases without violently disrupting the climate is finite, and each additional person contributes to the total amount

Monday 12 September 2016

Earlier this summer, I found myself in the middle of a lively debate because of my work on climate change and the ethics of having children.

NPR correspondent Jennifer Ludden profiled some of my work in procreative ethics with an article entitled, “Should we be having kids in the age of climate change?,” which summarized my published views that we ought to consider adopting a “small family ethic” and even pursuing fertility reduction efforts in response to the threat from climate change. Although environmentalists for decades have worried about overpopulation for many good reasons, I suggest the fast-upcoming thresholds in climate change provide uniquely powerful reasons to consider taking real action to slow population growth.

Clearly, this idea struck a nerve: I was overwhelmed by the response in my personal email inbox as well as op-eds in other media outlets and over 70,000 shares on Facebook. I am gratified that so many people took the time to read and reflect on the piece.

Having read and digested that discussion, I want to continue it by responding to some of the most vocal criticisms of my own work, which includes research on “population engineering” – the intentional manipulation of human population size and structure – I’ve done with my colleagues, Jake Earl and Colin Hickey.

In short, the varied arguments against my views – that I’m overreacting, that the economy will tank and others – haven’t changed my conviction that we need to discuss the ethics of having children in this era of climate change.

Some comments – those claiming climate change is a hoax, devised by those who wish to control the world’s resources – are not worth responding to. Since 97% of all relevant experts cannot convince climate change skeptics of the basic scientific facts, then nothing I say will change their minds.
Other concerns, however, do require a response. Many people reacted to my work on procreation ethics by saying climate change will not be so bad, and so curbing individual desires, such as having children, in its name is unnecessary fear-mongering.


In my work, I suggest that 1.5-2 degrees Celsius warming over preindustrial levels will be “dangerous” and “very bad”, while 4 degrees C will be “catastrophic” and will leave large segments of the Earth “largely uninhabitable by humans”. Here is a very brief survey of the evidence for those claims based on what I consider reputable sources.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/12/why-we-should-have-fewer-children-save-the-planet-climate-change

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Surely it's time American women's equality was added to the constitution

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

It is time...
From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/07/equal-means-equal-film-womens-rights-us-constitution

For my documentary, Equal Means Equal, I spoke to women across the US to argue that full equality under the law must be enshrined in the constitution

September 7, 2016

“I’m Alice Paul, and I’m back to haunt you because you’ve done nothing to pass the equal rights amendment.”

These words were uttered to me in 2009 by an actor in full early 20th century suffrage costume at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

I was stunned. Americans didn’t have sex equality in their constitution? How did I miss that? I was educated, graduated Yale – in fact, I was at the Smithsonian to screen my film about the first US congresswoman Jeannette Rankin (A Single Woman).

Could it really be true, I wondered? I decided to take a closer look at the status of women in the United States and the myriad of issues that affected them. With the help of my mother and husband, as well as executive producer Patricia Arquette, co-writer Gini Sikes and participating experts such as journalist Gloria Steinem and congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, I crossed the nation and spoke to hundreds of women. Activists and housewives, survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking or rape; victims of corporate discrimination from vice presidents to minimum wage workers.

My documentary Equal Means Equal, which was released on Tuesday, is the fruit of this work. The film is a comprehensive argument for finally giving American women what everybody thinks they already have, a basic principle that the United States exports all over the rest of the world: equal rights for women.

When our constitution was written in 1787, women had no rights whatsoever. We were chattel – owned first by our fathers and then our husbands. In fact, the legal model of wives was used as the basis for the legal model of slaves. In 1920, women achieved the right to vote.

Absolutely nothing has changed in our constitution since then to provide women with additional rights. This fact contradicts the ubiquitous rhetoric of American female “empowerment” and the general consensus that women today can be/do/have whatever they want. We can have it all! We can be president! We can swipe right on Tinder!

The reality is that women in the US are in perilous waters. Three women a day die at the hands of their intimate partners; only 3% of rapists will ever see a day in prison; in Los Angeles County last year, the pay for Latina women dropped to 44 cents on the white male dollar; 13-year-old victims of human trafficking are criminalized while their 47-year-old male johns get a ticket and a slap on the wrist; pregnant women are routinely fired for needing an extra bathroom break. The list goes on. 

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/07/equal-means-equal-film-womens-rights-us-constitution

We recommend Hillary Clinton for president

First time in 75 years that the Dallas Morning News has recommended a Democrat for President.  Yes folks.  Not only is Trump every bit as terrible as you think, he is even worse than that.  Not even Republicans like the Bush family are supporting him.

Dallas Morning News:  http://beta.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2016/09/07/recommend-hillary-clinton-us-president
 
September 7, 2016
 
There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.

We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II — if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections. The party's over-reliance on government and regulation to remedy the country's ills is at odds with our belief in private-sector ingenuity and innovation. Our values are more about individual liberty, free markets and a strong national defense.

We've been critical of Clinton's handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy.

Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.  

In Clinton's eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress' most conservative lawmakers.

As President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It's no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

Continue reading at:  http://beta.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2016/09/07/recommend-hillary-clinton-us-president

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

We just had five 1,000-year floods in less than a year. What's going on?

From The Environmental Defense Fund:  https://www.edf.org/blog/2016/09/01/we-just-had-five-1000-year-floods-less-year-whats-going
 
Scott Weaver September 1, 2016

A 1,000-year flood is supposed to be extremely rare. Its chance of occurring in a given year: 0.1 percent.

So how do we explain that in the span of just five months, the United States logged no fewer than four deadly 1,000-year floods in states as widespread as Texas, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana – following a 1,000-year-flood that ravaged South Carolina last October.

It appears that the calculation of a 1,000-year event may no longer be the most accurate statistic. It was based, as are our increasingly common 100-year natural disaster events, on data from the past.

We may, in other words, already have shifted so far into a new climate regime that probabilities have been turned on their head.

Climate change “supercharges” normal weather

Like any climate scientist will tell you, there is more to the story than what you see on the surface.
All climate and weather events are influenced to some degree by both natural climate variations and human-made climate change. The amount that each of these influences can exert on a particular event can theoretically range from 0 to 100 percent.

Rigorous scientific analysis has found that the extreme rainfall that caused a Texas flooding in May of 2015, for example, was caused by a fairly typical rainfall pattern associated with that year’s El NiƱo, a naturally occurring climate cycle, which had been supercharged by human-made climate change.

Working in tandem, these two phenomena together produced one of the largest multi-day flooding events Texas has ever experienced.

Continue reading at:  https://www.edf.org/blog/2016/09/01/we-just-had-five-1000-year-floods-less-year-whats-going

Phyllis Schlafly, One of History's Worst Homophobes, Dies at 92

Not to mention one of the worst enemies of Womankind

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/people/2016/9/05/phyllis-schlafly-one-historys-worst-homophobes-dies-92
 
By Lucas Grindley September 05 2016

With her death Monday, Phyllis Schlafly is being hailed as a conservative icon, leader and activist. But to LGBT people, she’ll be remembered as one of the worst homophobes of all time.

The Advocate this year named Schlafly among “The 50 Biggest Homophobes of the Last 50 Years.” Even what conservatives would remember as one her most famous accomplishments — creating the Stop ERA group that blocked the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — was tied up with her homophobic beliefs. Schlafly argued that the ERA, which was designed to stop women from being discriminated against, would lead to same-sex marriage and other rights for gays and lesbians. 

The scare tactic ensured the amendment fell three states short of ratification at the deadline in 1982.
Schlafly spent a lifetime trying to prevent LGBT people from gaining equality, while spreading an onslaught of falsehoods — and she did all of it despite having a gay son

After Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his support for marriage equality — and revealed his son is gay — Schlafly attacked, saying voters would kick him out of office, even though “They’ll feel sorry for him, maybe he was pressured by his son to do this.”

Schlafly certainly never budged on her views about same-sex marriage. After the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, saying the law was clearly motivated by antigay animus, Schlafly was outraged. She stuck by the idea that supporting “traditional marriage” isn’t supporting discrimination. But groups such as Right Wing Watch have extensively catalogued her homophobia while heading up the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization launched by her Stop ERA campaign.

Ahead of the Supreme Court ruling favorably on marriage equality, she called on governors to ignore the justices, who she said “think they’re God or something.” And after the ruling, she kept right on insisting “we don’t have to obey it just because a few judges said so.”

In her syndicated column, she called on Congress to pass a resolution that affirmed the “dignity of opposite-sex married couples,” once again using it to idealize couples where “a provider-husband is the principal breadwinner and his wife is dedicated to the job of homemaker.”

Schlafly said the true purpose of same-sex marriage was to "wipe out the Christian religion." 

“The use of same-sex marriage to attack Christian businesses but not businesses run by members of other religions,” she said, “demonstrates what is really driving the demand for the new constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

It wasn’t the first time she’d suggested gays and lesbians were faking their support for marriage equality.

“I do think that the main goal of the homosexuals is to silence any criticism,” she said in 2013. “Most of them aren’t interested in getting married.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/people/2016/9/05/phyllis-schlafly-one-historys-worst-homophobes-dies-92

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

America's problems aren't Obama's fault. They're George W Bush's

Not to mention the obstructionist scumbag Republicans in the House and Senate.
From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/30/america-problems-obama-fault-george-w-bush-election-2016
Tuesday 30 August 2016

The unhinged arguments at the heart of the 2016 presidential election are not really a debate about the outgoing president. They’re about Bush’s legacy

It’s George W Bush’s world, and we’re just living in it.

Not Donald Trump’s. Not Hillary Clinton’s. Not even Barack Obama’s. No, the unhinged arguments at the heart of the 2016 presidential election are not really a debate about the legacy of the current occupant of the White House. They’re not about Obamacare, or the Recovery Act; the Paris climate agreement or even the Iran nuclear deal.

They are, at their heart, an unresolved argument about the world as the 43rd president defined it: for worse, for much worse, and then for better.

If you’re the kind of person – on the left or right – who cannot hear the name George W Bush without foaming at the mouth, you should leave your comment or post your tweet right now. Because it’s time to take a sober look at a presidency bookended by the spectacular mass murder on 11 September 2001, and the spectacular financial meltdown of 2008.

From the rise of Isis to mass surveillance; from tax cuts for the wealthy to immigration reform; from the excesses of Wall Street to the struggles of Main Street; this election is taking place in a country that is still torn apart by the Bush years.

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s hyperkinetic first chief of staff, liked to say that President Bush had left them a ribbon-wrapped gift of a shit sandwich: two wars, the worst recession in living memory and a disastrous international reputation.

But Bush also left them a path out from his own colossal disasters: the massive government bailout of the financial sector, and a Federal Reserve prepared to take unprecedented measures to bankroll the global economy. A drone war to kill terrorist targets without boots on the ground, and a more stable Iraq that could allow for a US withdrawal.

While Obama got to work on his special sandwich, Bush’s Republican party is still stuck in the middle of it all. For the GOP can no more find its way out of the Bush debates than Britain’s Labour party can decide how to deal with the legacy of Tony Blair.

Continue reading at:   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/30/america-problems-obama-fault-george-w-bush-election-2016

'Normal' in our society means male. Women are written out of the story

Gender reduces female people to being secondary to men.
From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/aug/17/normal-society-means-male-andy-murray-venus-serena-williams

It took Andy Murray to point out to John Inverdale that the Williams sisters had beaten his Olympic record – not the only instance in which women are absent

Wednesday 17 August 2016

It has famously been said that feminism is the radical notion that women are people. While this distinction may seem obvious, it remains a confusing area for some – not least sports reporter John Inverdale. Congratulating Andy Murray on his second tennis Olympic gold medal, Inverdale told him: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals,” leaving Murray to point out: “Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each.”

Just days earlier, while commenting on the men’s rugby sevens event, Inverdale reportedly announced that the winning team would be taking home the first-ever Olympic medal for the sport, despite the women’s title having already been claimed by Australia less than a week before. All this has led to the mystery of the week, the question on everybody’s lips: has Inverdale forgotten that women exist, or does he just not realise that they are people?

In fairness to Inverdale, he is far from alone. Women have a pesky habit of slipping minds at important moments – just ask those reporters who discussed our hypothetical new prime minister using “he” and “him” before being left red-faced by Theresa May’s victory.

It’s not surprising that Murray picked up on the error – it’s only three years since he was lavishly congratulated on the front pages for ending the “77-year wait” for a British Wimbledon champion. Which is true. As long as you don’t consider Virginia Wade, who won Wimbledon in 1977, and three previous female winners since Fred Perry’s 1936 victory, to be people.

It is telling that we are so used to such omissions that Murray’s simple statement of fact about the Williams sisters has received rapturous applause across the media and the internet. Under the circumstances, it is remarkable and hugely welcome to see a man in his position be so thoughtful as to acknowledge women’s existence. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was the norm rather than the exception?

The problem isn’t confined to sport either. When Tim Peake was hailed in the media as the first Briton to blast off into space last December, it must have come as a surprise to Helen Sharman, who beat him to it by more than 20 years.

So ingrained is our society’s default male norm, in fact, that many media outlets choose to point out that people are female in newspaper headlines, as if the idea they aren’t male is as newsworthy as the event they were involved in: “Hero gas station clerk saves female doctor from suspected kidnapper”; “Female judge Constance Briscoe investigated over leaking Chris Huhne case, court told”; “Female Belgian rower falls ill after racing on Guanabara bay”; “Woman cyclist fighting for life after horrific crash at danger junction”.

The same shock manifests itself when subjects deviate from other expected norms, too, as swimmer Simone Manuel discovered when her gold medal victory was reduced in headlines to: “Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American”. The implication is that white men are individuals – human beings in their own right, with personalities and quirks and rich, rounded lives – while other people are still defined as members of homogenous “othered” groups.

This matters beyond the technicality of who gets named in a headline. It impacts on how sympathetic our society is likely to be towards those described. It contributes to the stereotyping and vilification of entire groups who are tarred, sweepingly, with a single brush. It writes out of history those whose contributions we most need to highlight in order to rectify inequality in sport, science and other fields.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/aug/17/normal-society-means-male-andy-murray-venus-serena-williams

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lakoff: Pay Close Attention—Trump Means Exactly What He Says

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-rhetoric-calculated-sway

Trump is swaying millions with his calculated rhetoric.

By George Lakoff August 24, 2016

Responsible reporters in the media normally transcribe political speeches so that they can accurately report them. But Donald Trump’s discourse style has stumped a number of reporters. Dan Libit, CNBC’s excellent analyst, is one of them. Libit writes, "His unscripted speaking style, with its spasmodic, self-interrupting sentence structure, has increasingly come to overwhelm the human brains and tape recorders attempting to quote him."

Trump is, simply put, a transcriptionist's worst nightmare: severely unintelligible, yet incredibly important to understand.

Given how dramatically recent polls have turned on his controversial public utterances, it is not hyperbolic to say that the very fate of the nation appears destined to come down to one man's application of the English language, and the public's comprehension of it. It has turned the rote job of transcribing into a high-stakes calling.

Trump's crimes against clarity are multifarious: He often speaks in long, run-on sentences, with frequent asides. He pauses after subordinate clauses. He frequently quotes people saying things that aren't actual quotes. And he repeats words and phrases, sometimes with slight variations, in the same sentence.

Some in the media (Washington Post,Salon, Slate, Think Progress, etc.) have called Trump’s speeches “word salad.” Some commentators have even attributed his language use to “early Alzheimer’s," citing “erratic behavior” and “little regards for social conventions.”

I don’t believe it.

I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about Trumps use of language. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what he wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.

Let’s start with sentence fragments. It is common and natural in New York discourse for friends to finish one another’s sentences. And throughout the country, if you don't actually say the rest of a friend’s sentence out loud, there is nevertheless a point at which you can finish it in your head. When this happens in cooperative discourse, it can show empathy and intimacy with a friend, that you know the context of the narrative, and that you understand and accept your friend’s framing of the situation so well you can even finish what they have started to say. Of course, you can be bored with, or antagonistic to someone and be able to finish their sentences with anything but a feeling of empathy and intimacy. But Trump prefers to talk to a friendly crowd.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-rhetoric-calculated-sway