Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay! - Hallowe'en Edition





























Trick or Treat, Humans!

Today I have tricked you!  It is not really FreyaDay... it is Hallowe'en!

It is Hallowe'en and I have a lovely pumpkin treat.

Prrrrrrrrr...Mmmmmmm....I like this orangey, pumpkiny treat!

I tricked you. It is not FreyaDay, it is Hallowe'en and I have a lovely Hallowe'en pumpkin.

What a trick and treat!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For The Zombie Apocalypse, Romney's Your Man!




A little humour to distract you from Sandy's misery. Stay safe out there!

"Romney is ready to make the deep rollbacks: healthcare, education, social services, reproductive rights that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting...all the crucial elements in creating a nightmare wasteland.
But it's his commitment to ungoverned corporate privilege that will nosedive this economy into true insolvency and chaos - the kind of chaos you can't buy back!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

Isn't That Just Ducky!





























Hello, hello!  Look at me! Do you see this big orange pumpkin?

Do you see me by the big orange pumpkin?

I like pumpkins! It is nearly Hallowe'en and we have pumpkins!

I know a Pumpkin poem!

One day I found two pumpkin seeds.
I planted one and pulled the weeds.
It sprouted roots and a big, long vine.
A pumpkin grew; I called it mine.
The pumpkin was quite round and fat.
(I really am quite proud of that.)
But there is something I'll admit
That has me worried just a bit.
I ate the other seed, you see.
Now will it grow inside of me?

Do you see me? Do you see my big orange pumpkin?

It is nearly Hallowe'en and I like pumpkins!

Isn't that just Ducky!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Winners And Moochers

Here is a photo of no Monopoly game ever. Like the myth of the American Dream, it advertises a carefully staged image of equality that is impossible to achieve when actually playing the game by the current rules.




























"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." John Steinbeck

Do you remember playing the board game Monopoly back when we did not have awesome hand-held devices to play with? Do you remember how the "banker" carefully doled out an equal sum of money to every player so they all had equal "chances" before the first roll of the dice? Equal opportunity ended at this point, because the capricious odds of rolling the right number to land on the best spaces was entirely down to chance. As soon as one player had bought the best group of properties, his fortunes would steadily rise. Sure, the other players would remain hopeful for another 20-30 minutes - after all, they, too, had managed to land on and purchase a few properties and who knew? Their luck could change at any minute and they might land on Free Parking and claim the pot of cash in the middle of the board! Meanwhile, the luckiest player on the board - the one who had the luckiest rolls of the dice in the early minutes of the game - would steadily add houses and hotels, steadily increase his holdings, as other players sold out to him to stay alive in the game. Inexorably, the player with the earliest advantage wound up winning the game - not merely winning a game with other players still respectably turned out - but overwhelmingly and singularly winning: raking in total ownership of the properties, the utilities, and the contents of the bank while every other player sat bankrupted; wiped off the board.

Romney and Ryan: If you start out in poverty, with
the dice fixed in favor of the rich kids uptown 

- and you fail - 
you only have yourself to blame, 
you lazy, shiftless moocher!
It turns out that what your dad told you is true: in many ways life really is like a Monopoly game. (Except for that part about starting the game off with an equal share of the available resources). Wealth builds on wealth. As the wealth of an elite few increases, the wealth of everyone else tends to decrease because in a world of finite resources,  the continued growth of wealth for those at the top of the social ladder inevitably means that they control more and more resources and property, buying or forcing out those people with fewer resources and less capital - and "those people" are the vast majority of people.

Monopoly rules at least give every player a fighting chance to win against the fickle finger of fate by starting them off with equal wealth and a clear playing board. In real life, this is tragically never the case. Societies do not provide a level playing field for all children to start out with equal opportunities in life.  Poverty, social stratification, racial and gender discrimination and destruction of public education mean that most children in our country are born disadvantaged, sometimes grossly so. Economic and personal success in life is closely linked to the economic status of one's parents.  Children of the poor are likely to remain poor, while children of the rich are likely to remain rich regardless of the personal efforts of the children from either socio-economic group. The elites who intend to ensure that their own children can ascend to even loftier perches over everyone else's children have myriad strategies to keep the game of life in America rigged in that way, and they have the economic resources to buy the political power to make those strategies the law of the land.

So, when Bishop Romney or lyin' Paul Ryan claim that 47% of the people in the United States are mooching "takers", think of Monopoly. For most Americans, the dice are loaded against them and they don't even get to start the game with an equal share of the bank. Republican claims that the struggling middle class and the disenfranchised poor have had just as much opportunity as the children of the wealthiest Americans, but simply are too lazy to work for the American dream is an appeal to the worst part of human psychology; the part that tells us we deserve our blessings and other people deserve their hardships. It is a lie.

And it is a very convenient lie for the Romney and Ryan since so many people are willing to believe it.



Some Are More Unequal Than Others, Joseph E. Stiglitz, New York TImes, October 26, 2012.

That American inequality is at historic highs is undisputed. It’s not just that the top 1 percent takes in about a fifth of the income, and controls more than a third of the wealth. America also has become the country (among the advanced industrial countries) with the least equality of opportunity. Meanwhile, those in the middle are faring badly, in every dimension, in security, in income, and in wealth — the wealth of the typical household is back to where it was in the 1990s. While the recession has made all of this worse, even before the recession they weren’t faring well: in 2007, the income of the typical family was lower than it was at the end of the last century...
America is fast becoming a country marked not by justice for all, but by justice for those who can afford it. (Just one of many examples is that no banker has been prosecuted, let alone convicted, for banks’ systematic lying to the court regarding the fraudulent practices that played so large a role in the 2008 crisis.) And with the increasing influence of money, especially notable in this election, the outcomes of our political process are becoming more like one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote. It’s even worse, because political inequality leads to economic inequality, which leads in turn to more political inequality, in a vicious spiral undermining our economy and our democracy.

The one tax graph you really need to know, Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, September 19, 2012.

For most Americans, payroll and state and local taxes make up the majority of their tax bill. The federal income tax, by contrast, is our most progressive tax — it’s the tax we’ve designed to place the heaviest burden on the rich while bypassing the poor. And we’ve done that, again, because the working class is already paying a fairly high tax bill through payroll and state and local taxes.
But most people don’t know very much about the tax code. And the federal income tax is still our most famous tax. So when they hear that half of Americans aren’t paying federal income taxes, they’re outraged — even if they’re among the folks who have a net negative tax burden! After all, they know they’re paying taxes, and there’s no reason for normal human beings to assume that the taxes getting taken out of their paycheck every week and some of the taxes they pay at the end of the year aren’t classified as “federal income taxes.”

Romney in Fantasyland, Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, September 20, 2012.

Describing his own path, Romney noted that he gave away the money his father left him. “I have inherited nothing,” he said. “Everything I earned I earned the old-fashioned way.”

There’s only one thing wrong with this cozy, self-satisfied worldview: It omits the enormous advantages accruing to those born on third base. It ignores the grim reality that those born to less-privileged families are far less likely than the Bushes or Romneys of the world to secure their place in the middle class or above.

It imagines an America where economic mobility is far more fluid than it is in reality. Being born in America is an advantage, to be sure, but some spoons are a lot more sterling than others.
(Ruth Marcus)

The Poor Do Have Jobs, Tami Luhby, CNNMoney, September 21, 2012.

Romney lashed out at people who believe they are victims and are entitled to health care, food and housing. However, many entitlement programs are not for the nation's poor, said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. Among the largest entitlements are Social Security and Medicare, and the beneficiaries of those programs are mainly retirees.

Many of the poor who receive income-based benefits do work, Tanner added.


Nearly half of households with children that received food stamps in 2010 also had a working family member, more than three times the number who relied solely on welfare, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To qualify for food stamps, families must generally have a total monthly income at or below 130% of the poverty line.
(Tami Luhby)

on Chairman Ryan's Budget Plan, Robert Greenstein, President - Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 21, 2012.

The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids.  It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).  It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality. (Robert Greenstein)



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Young Americans Vote!



Thanks to rockthevote for this informative and entertaining video.

Young Americans, you know what you need to do!  Share this video and

VOTE!


Youth Apathetic About Election: Are You Kidding Me?






















Vote as if your future depends upon it 
- because it does!

Youth Engagement Falls; Registration Also Declines, Pew Research Center, September 28, 2012.

Come on, young American adults! Is this really you? I don't believe that!

Does your state have early voting? If so, take advantage of it!

"In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered." (RegistertoVote.org)

Let's do the math: There are more than 300 million citizens of the United States. 30% of 300,000,000 is 90 million people.  Even if only half of those people are over 18 years old and eligible to vote, there would be 45 million eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote.

Come on, young Americans!  Don't be the No-Show cohort!
Among the 70% of eligible citizens who have registered to vote, the number who actually do vote is shockingly low. The per centage of actual voters by age cohort ranges from less than 30% for registered 18-29 year olds, to a high of just over 60% for 60-69 year olds.  There is not a single age cohort from age 18-49 years old which has a voting record of more than 40%.

Why is it that in a nation that fought a historic battle for independence - not to mention the right to representative self-government - so few of the people today actually exercise that right by voting?  In a world where self-government and constitutionally-guaranteed individual freedoms are a rare and precious commodity, it beggars belief that people who have it do not appear to cherish it and fail to guard it vigilantly. The assumption seems to be that gains once made can never be lost. But history teaches another, grimmer, lesson.

"...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

There is a lot of talk right now about a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy and influential people pouring billions into the upcoming election in order to ensure an outcome which will suit their own interests and not those of the people of the United States. In a democratic Republic, the idea that wealthy or religious elites could rise to such power and influence that they could establish a de facto feudal economic system and authoritarian theocracy - almost exactly the conditions over which this country fought the War of Independence - could only be possible if a majority of the people allow it to happen, through ignorance, through apathy, through intimidation.

But the American people are made of sterner stuff than that.

Don't just stand there...do it!
When all eligible voters in the country perform their civic duty at every election, and when all eligible voters make it their business to stay informed about the issues that face the nation, then it becomes far more difficult for any one group, no matter how well-organized and determined, to seize control of the government.

Make sure you are registered to vote. Don't assume that you are registered. During the primaries, thousands of people were shocked to discover that their names had been stricken from the voter lists without their knowledge. Florida has purged nearly 200,000 names from its voter list, including seniors and veterans. Pennsylvania is preparing to deny voting rights to nearly 10% of its eligible citizens.

Voter suppression threatens our Republic, but there are still enough voters to put a stop to it, if only every citizen who can vote, does so. There are as many eligible voters who do not vote as there are who do -more, in fact. Voter turnout could potentially be double what it has historically been. The current voter suppression tactics - ambitious though they undeniably are - would not disenfranchise enough people to overcome the will of the people if only the majority would take a stand, register now and vote in November.

Your vote counts. It really is that important.

Remind your friends and family to be sure to register and be sure to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Obama Now




From the creator of the Simpsons, Lucas Gray, Why Obama Now.

A quick and easy-to-understand distillation of "trickle down economics" through tax cuts for the rich, and why it isn't the answer for America's economic situation (now or ever).

I am Nifty, and I approve this message!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Inspiration - Same Love




On Thursday, a federal appeals court in New York struck down DOMA on Constitutional grounds:

The 2-to-1 ruling, by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, came as the panel struck down the federal law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage. It is the first time that a federal appeals court has applied this level of constitutional protection — known as heightened scrutiny — to those unions. The case is now considered by some legal scholars to be the leading candidate for a Supreme Court review of the same-sex marriage issue. John Schwartz, New York Times, October 18, 2012.

As the paragraph above indicates, the fight may now go to the Supreme Court. People who are fighting for marriage equality know this battle is not over yet, but the enlightened northeast is leading the charge on social justice again. I think this calls for a musical celebration!

I believe I am the last person on the planet to have caught this video but what the hell...

Same Love, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis via Ryan Lewis

Music and Message gets the Nifty Seal of Approval!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!



























Good Morning, Humans.

It is a gloomy, rainy day today.

I am not one to mope due to weather, but I think this is a day for staying cozy.

Of course I am happy to be up and around! I am unaffected by the miserable, dark, chilly, wet weather.

I simply prefer to spend my day snuggled cozily on the bed. Don't you?

It is a gloomy, rainy day today, but I am warm and snug on the bed.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Christian Conservatives Hate The World...Therefore Climate Change Denial




























"Immediately after the distress of those days " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' 30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:29-31:29

This month in Scientific American magazine, there is a fascinating in-depth account of the history of the Christian conservative anti-science movement which has ebbed and flowed in this country for nearly 200 years. The concluding paragraph sums up this critical issue very well:

In an age when science influences every aspect of life—from the most private intimacies of sex and reproduction to the most public collective challenges of climate change and the economy—and in a time when democracy has become the dominant form of government on the planet, it is important that the voters push elected officials and candidates of all parties to explicitly state their views on the major science questions facing the nation. By elevating these issues in the public dialogue, U.S. citizens gain a fighting chance of learning whether those who would lead them have the education, wisdom and courage necessary to govern in a science-driven century and to preserve democracy for the next generation. (Shawn Lawrence Otto, America's Science Problem).

"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise
of the oceans,and to heal the planet." What a good joke!
NPR has a related story today about conservative climate change denial and how it is affecting the current election. At the RNC convention in Tampa, the guffaws from the Republican faithful at Mitt Romney's thinly veiled coded "joke" pointed to not only global climate change denial, but to an even more sinister truth about conservative Christian theology. They laugh about denial, because it is a political tool to further their religious agenda. It is possible that many conservatives understand very well that global warming is happening, but that fact is actually a source of gleeful satisfaction to the true believer, not a cause for concern. So why do they publicly deny it? The policy of denial is necessary in order to block any efforts by sane people to slow down or stop human activity that contributes to global warming. Evangelicals see this climate crisis as part of the end times, the most highly anticipated and welcome event in the conservative Christian mind.

There is something I think people must understand every time they read examples of the often incoherent dishonesty of Christian apologists as they deny the reality of global climate change: Christians want the world to end. In their religious delusion, they really do believe that it is necessary for the world to be destroyed in order to bring about the return of their Messiah, and they welcome the end of the world

This truth cannot be overstated: conservative Christians despise the World™. They deny the importance of this mortal life. It is a religion of self-loathing where the only relief for the wretched sinner is not in this life - on this earth - but in another "life" after death.  The entire point of Christianity is to deny that this life is all we may have, to disparage the efforts of human beings to improve this life for themselves and others, and to work toward bringing about the end of this world, so that their bronze-age mythical "prophesies" can be brought to fruition. This is not hyperbolic fear-mongering. Christians are open about this. They consider it to be "good news".

Standing up to the propaganda of religious madness,
the President is the adult on the national stage.
In the larger conservative movement, there was a concerted effort to undermine efforts to slow global warming combined with propaganda "education" designed to mislead people into thinking that there is a scientific "controversy" over whether global warming was an actual phenomenon. There is no controversy about global climate change: the scientific community is unanimous that it is happening and that it has been greatly accelerated by human activity. As with their successful effort to convince more than half the population of the lie that Evolutionary theory is scientifically "controversial", conservative groups managed to undermine the trust that people once had in scientific research, leaving the population adrift in a sea of religious lunacy and doubt.

From time to time, a thinking Christian speaks up, trying to sound the alarm, but even knowing how much is at stake, he is careful not to offend the powerful religious majority. Even the rational Christians who claim not to agree with the extremists will not break away from the power and privilege that belonging to that group gives them. They know on what side their bread is buttered and they hope to continue to perform a balancing act between what they know is morally right and their desire to remain aligned with power. The agenda of Christian fundamentalism has become a juggernaut and it has swept all other voices to the fringes.

Global warming denial propaganda funded by
conservative groups with Christian ties like the
Heartland Institute helped to sway public opinion
against the scientific reality.
Every effort that science makes to warn about or mitigate global warming is met with fierce resistance by powerful lobbyists backed by radical fundamentalist Christian groups. One fact canot be stressed enough: These groups want the world to come to an end. With the irrational zeal of true believers, they welcome mass death, destruction and horror because they imagine themselves to be the "elect" - the tiny group of their god's favored people who will not be destroyed in the cataclysm that they are doing their utmost to bring about.

There won't be any satisfaction for the rest of us if and when these fools discover that they and their descendants will perish along with all those they hate if they succeed in setting the world on a final path to global catastrophe. It won't matter that they were dangerously, madly wrong and we were right. The only thing that matters is that we find the courage to speak up now and take action now to slow down the disaster.

A few items to read and ponder:

Fact: June 2012 was the 4th hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880.  It was the 328th consecutive month that global temperatures have remained above the 20th century average.

Here is the sort of story which will warm the cockles of the fundamentalist's heart, while it chills the blood of people who care about humanity.

Mother Jones, The state of climate change denial.

Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy, Shawn Lawrence Otto, Scientific American, October 17, 2012.

Equal time to truth and bullshit, from No brain left behind.




Thorsday Tonic - Science is Real (They Might Be Giants)




via ParticleMen

"A scientific theory isn't just a hunch or guess - it's more like a question that's been put through a lot of tests and when a theory emerges consistent with the facts, the proof is with science; the truth is with science."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mitt Romney And His "Binders Full Of Women"

Within minutes of the infamous remarks being uttered, this Facebook page was launched. 

























“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can't we—can't we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” Mitt Romney, October 16, 2012.

There are good reasons why the interweb was abuzz last night about Mitt Romney's "binders full of women", all of them pointing to a bad, though perfectly justified, debate outcome for the Republican candidate. While it was hardly the only misstep in Romney's testy, truth-challenged performance, it was the distillation of everything that he - and the Republican party - believes about the intrinsic inequality of women to men that makes him the worst possible candidate for women voters.

Before we take a closer look through the window into Mitt's attitude toward women, let's look at what he did not say in his remarks.

Katherine Fenton, a participant in the Town Hall audience, asked this question:

In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

In response, Governor Romney had this to say:

Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about (but not nearly enough, apparently), particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?".

"Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some
— some women that are also qualified?"
Gee, Governor, can we?
(Fact check: Governor Romney succeeded a woman governor, Jane Swift;  his lieutenant governor was a woman, Kerry Healey, and his opponent in that gubanatorial race was a woman, Democrat Shannon O'Brien - (fun fact!) whom Romney portrayed literally as a dog in his ads during that campaign. His claim of not being able to "find" qualified women rings particularly hollow in light of his equally false claim of bi-partisanship).

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.

(Fact check: 'What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected'. David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.)

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

(Fact check: a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office. Bernstein)

Or, let's have pay equality and improved
access to decent child-care for families
so that parents (usually mothers)
are less burdened and can actually
focus on the careers they love without
being forced to "choose" work or family.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce (like, if you really, really, must have women in the workforce and not, you know, at home with 5 or 6 children, right, Mitt?) that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

(For this nugget of horse hocky, Romney plumbed the depths of cultural gender discrimination by conflating two popular myths about the reasons for wage inequality: the myth that female employees are inherently less reliable and not "team players" like their male counterparts and the myth that unless an enlightened employer hands out special privileges and accommodations, women won't even try for demanding, highly-paid jobs, so they don't deserve them. This is a corollary to the ever-popular "women don't ask for equal pay" myth which studies have proven are false).

We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

This is not a "women's issue". Bad Republican policies
hurt women, men and the families that both women and
men are trying to support. 
(Indeed. The Great Recession caused by the Bush administration and the financial policies - which both enriched Mitt Romney and continue to be the foundation of his financial vision for the country - have been hard on both men and women. Women, who typically have been relegated to the poorest-paying and least secure jobs (except, at least for now, those in the public sector) have always suffered greater job insecurity. In both single-parent families and in families where women and their partners are struggling together to make ends meet, this is a serious issue for both men and women, and for most American families. Legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act might have helped prevent thousands of women and their families from slipping further into poverty, but the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, does not support these efforts, and his party blocked them in Congress).

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

(Got that, American women? The Guv promises that if you will just quit asking awkward questions about fair pay and reproductive security and let him get back to business, he will create such a great economy that all those employers out there will overlook your deficiencies and special needs and hire even you! Awesome.).


This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

(Really? "I know what it takes to make an economy work" What is that, exactly? The question was "How are you going to address inequalities in the workplace?" and you have neither answered that question, nor explained how you expect to create your "new economy". Governor, you're a little too long on "just trust me, you don't need to know what I know",  and much too short on specifics).

Actually, Governor, women already know what they need
to succeed: affordable education, wage parity, reproductive
freedom and social support for American families.
Wait, we already have a president who understands that! 
I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

(You still haven't answered the question, Governor. How are you going to float this "stronger economy" within which, we presume, all boats (even those with flighty female skippers) will be lifted? And, again, what are your new ideas to address pay inequity?).

Mitt Romney may or may not actually "know" what needs to be done to fix the economy and to address the inequalities in the workplace, not just for women but also for millions of men who have also been denied a level playing field in the workplace. He may know, but he has no intention of doing what it will take.

Working toward economic equality for women - and for most men, too - is not Mitt Romney's goal. It never has been his goal, and it certainly is not the goal of his backers in the moneyed elites. This is a continuation of the 47 % narrative. Romney believes that like his 47% who will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives", women are not getting good jobs because they don't try hard enough to get them. Romney thinks that like the 47% whom he says "believe they are victims...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing", women want everything handed to them. He barely hid his opinion that women demand special treatment in the workplace - like the right to leave the office before 7 or 8 in the evening to care for small children; forcing employers to provide "flexibility" like fewer than 60 or 70 hours of time spent in the office each week. "See?" the Governor seemed to say, "I did everything for them, while they did nothing to help themselves."

Romney's blindness to the qualified women who surrounded him during the Gubanatorial race itself and then in the office when he was presented with the "binders" containing resumes of a long list of qualified women - gathered proactively by women's groups in Massachusetts and not by his own people at his request as he claimed - speaks to his apparent habit of neither seeing nor hearing women as peers in his professional life. His claim that his record of hiring female staff was due to his efforts to "recruit" women, not to the initiative and qualifications of the women themselves, and his whining that one of his female staffers asked for what he clearly considered to be special treatment (shockingly, she wanted a workday that ended before 7 or 8PM!) speaks to both Romney's disrespect for women's abilities and his dismissal of the workplace challenges of parents. Presumably no male staffer would have dared to talk about family obligations at all, of course. In the conservative Romney culture of rigid patriarchal roles for women and men, it is women who annoyingly demand special treatment to balance work and family, while men at work must behave as if they have no family obligations at all.

Mitt Romney did not misspeak at that private fund-raiser for his wealthy supporters. He really does believe that at least 47% of Americans are lazy takers who sit around waiting for their government to bail them out of their sloth. Last night, as he struggled to sugarcoat his disdain for women and his disinterest in the question Ms. Fenton asked, everything about Romney - his halting, careful remarks, his patronizing demeanor, his refusal to actually answer the question - pointed to a deeply contemptuous attitude not only toward women, but toward all Americans who are being crushed between the competing demands of scarcer job opportunities (thanks Mr. CEO of Bain, et al) and family responsibilities.

The final irony is that, in a bid to secure more women's votes, Romney threw out the bone of pointedly boasting that he "recruited" women for great jobs in his Massachusett's administration. Such affirmative action goes against not only the Governor's own professed views, but it flies in the face of the ideology and agenda of the conservative right wing that supports him. Mitt Romney has attempted to dodge the issue recently, in the latest of his notorious "flip-flops" - although to be fair, his silence on affirmative action (except when holding it out as a carrot to lure women voters) cannot really be called change.  In this case, it is more like concealment of his true intentions while hoping the issue will go away. Too bad that glib tongue ran away with you last night, Governor!

Why the Republican gender gap mirrors women's pay disparity, Moira Herbst, The Guardian, September 6, 2012.

Mind the Binder, David. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.

Presidential debate transcript, questions, October 16, 2012. Politico staff, October 16, 2012.

Mitt Romney to Gubanatorial Staff: "Find some women that are qualified", Christina Wilkie, HuffPost Business, October 17, 2012.

Mitt Romney's "Binders Full of Women" Comment Sets Internet Ablaze, Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012.

ETA:

Mitt Romney's Binders Full of Women is a Trapper Keeper Full of Lies, Sarah Jones, PoliticusUsa, October 17, 2012.

In Debate, Romney Struggled on Substance, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, October 17, 2012.

Romney and the Women Who Still Don't Love Him, Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, October 17, 2012.

The frat boy bully Mitt Romney is coldly furious that he was schooled by that ... oops!  Is that a camera?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Economic Specifics - Reproductive Rights Are An Economic Issue

The Republican War on Women:  It's real.























This election could literally be pivotal for women.

9 Clues That Reproductive Policy is Economic Policy, Valerie Tarico, HuffPost Politics, October, 11, 2012.

Anybody who says that talking about reproductive rights is a distraction from talking about economics is not running the numbers. On October 4, a study of 9,000 women showed that access to free contraception radically dropped the rate of unintended pregnancies, two-thirds of which according to the Guttmacher Institute are paid for on the public dime. Unintended pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated 11 billion a year in obstetric costs and neonatal care. But that's just the beginning...  Valerie Tarico.

For Women, Reproductive Rights Are Economic Issues, Christine Adams, The Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2012.

Even when times are good, a woman who faces multiple unwanted pregnancies during her child-bearing years has little time to appreciate the security that a burgeoning economy with good jobs promises. There is no factor that more strongly correlates with rising educational attainment and economic advancement among women than the new availability of birth control in the 1960s, along with access to safe and legal abortion since the 1960s and 1970s. For most women, contraception is our greatest health concern and expense during our childbearing years. Again, what is more "real" than that? Telling women that their health insurance will cover everything except birth control is like telling a diabetic that her health insurance will cover everything except insulin and the other necessities of diabetes care and then berating the patient when she becomes seriously ill from a lack of access to insulin. Christine Adams.

Contraception is an economic issue, Amanda Marcotte, Slate, September 27, 2012.

The reality is that, for women, reproductive rights and protection from discrimination cannot be separated from "jobs and the economy and raising their families." Women need their rights protected in order to hold down jobs and raise their families. Two recent news items show how it's more important than ever for women to have their rights protected, for economic reasons above all... Amanda Marcotte.

Hiding Pregnancies: Reproductive Freedom is an Economic Issue, Robin Marty, RH Reality Check, October 8, 2012.

Birth control is expensive. Day care is expensive. Children are expensive. Yet somehow people continue to argue that reproductive rights aren't an economic issue—like unemployment, household debt, or housing...Those who can least afford to get pregnant unintentionally are the ones who most need access to contraception. When being pregnant affects your ability to find work, how can you see reproductive health care as anything other than an economic issue? Robin Marty.

Romney/Ryan Too Extreme on Women's Health, ENews Park Forest, Fact Check, October 12, 2012.

As Congressman Ryan highlighted last night, he and Mitt Romney are too extreme on the critical issue of women’s health. In the House, Ryan worked with Todd Akin to narrow the definition of rape and outlaw abortion for rape and incest victims. And Romney-Ryan believe women’s health care decisions should be put into the hands of their employers, would defund Planned Parenthood, and endorsed the Republican Party platform that includes a constitutional amendment to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

Veep Debate Reveals Hints of the GOP War on Women, Amy Gehrt, Gatehouse News Service, October 16, 2012.

Whomever wins the White House will hold the fate of a host of other women’s issues in his hands, too. In the past two years alone, there have been nearly 2,000 anti-choice provisions introduced in legislation. Among other things, Republican lawmakers have attempted to redefine rape, supported a bill that would let hospitals watch a woman die rather than perform a needed abortion and tried to take away all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. South Dakota GOP members even attempted to make it legal to murder doctors who provide abortion care. Even the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has been stalled in Congress — all because protection was expanded to include gays and American Indians. Amy Gehrt.

The Hits, They Keep on Coming, Stephanie Schriock, HuffPost Politics, October 16, 2012.

Forcible rape. I don't think many people would have guessed that it would be one of the defining phrases of the 2012 elections. But, there's not much about today's Republican Party that any one of us could have seen coming.
Todd Akin, House Republicans, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. The hits, they keep on coming.
For the sake of American women I wish I could say these instances were outliers. But they're just not. This is a Republican Party that has more than 200 members who co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape so that some are worse than others, and continues to support a constitutional ban on abortion - with no exceptions - in its national platform. So it's getting harder for them to argue that the Todd Akin's of the world don't fall right into line with their political views. Stephanie Schriock.

The Faux Mommy Wars, Dahlia Lithwick and Jan Rodak, Slate, April 20, 2012.

A few precatory observations on this language of choice: For one thing, it has become so bound up with the fight over reproductive rights in this country that it never really means just “choice” anymore. You can almost hear the silent “unfortunate” that precedes it every time it’s mentioned in political discourse. For another, not all women have all the choices they are alleged to be pondering. Most of us simply don’t have the luxury of a “choice” to stay home, or a choice to work part-time. Most women, like most men, do what they have to do. “Choice” is usually a misnomer, especially during a recession, for women as much as it is for men.
But talking about women in the language of choice is also a political trap. Because it suggests that while men are free to optimize their lifestyle decisions, women are always forced to “choose.” Men may design their lives. Women’s lives are a sequence of impossible trade-offs, made even more complex when they must mesh with the custom designs of the men with whom they marry and co-parent. Dahlia Lithwick and Jan Rodak.



Tuesday Tonic - This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mr. President, May I Suggest Some Debate Questions?



























The Presidential debate tomorrow night will be watched with some anxiety by supporters of both the President and his challenger, Mitt Romney. The President's supporters will be anxious that he show a more agile response to the Governor's barrage of evasions, half-truths, misrepresentations and outright lies. The Governor's supporters will be anxious because they know quite well that a strategy of bald-faced lying will only work for awhile before the people are on to you - and in the absence of any actual substance to the candidate or his non-existent plan details, there is no Plan B for Romney/Ryan.

You shocked the president with your
disrespect of the democratic process,
but he is on to you now, Mitt Romney.
In the first debate, the President appeared to have been caught off guard by Romney, the apprentice Gish galloper*. (*I say that Mitt Romney is merely an apprentice Gish galloper because in this one arena, even mendacious Mitt is outclassed by his running mate, Paul Ryan, the most skilled liar ever to cast his malevolent shadow across the national stage.) It is not easy for a sincere debater who expects a principled exchange of ideas to recover rapidly from the shock when confronted with an opponent who displays such profound disrespect for the American people. Mitt Romney made a farce of the debate, and in so doing, he communicated his utter contempt for the American public who were tuned in hoping to hear some substantive points about the candidates' respective visions for the future of our country.

While many of his supporters were disappointed that Barack Obama seemed thrown by Romney's blizzard of blarney, is it really so disappointing to realize that the President holds the process whereby the people decide whom to select for office in such high regard that he did not anticipate such outrageous disrespect on the part of his opponent for the people, the office and the truth? President Obama underestimated the depth of Mitt Romney's contempt for the democratic process - not to mention for the American people - before the first debate. He should not underestimate it again.

Have you got it yet, America? Mitt has
no plans to tell you people anything.
Mitt said, "Trust me" and you darn
well better do it! You expect answers?
Who do you think you are, anyway?
Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates have been releasing their tax returns to become a part of the public record dating back to the F. D. Roosevelt administration. We have been frequently reminded that even Mitt Romney's father, George Romney, released 12 years of tax returns as a good faith gesture of full disclosure to the American people, even declaring that "one year could be a fluke".  Apparently, the son did not inherent the integrity of the father. Governor Romney obviously feels entitled to unquestioning trust from the American people - both the 47% he doesn't care about, and the rest that he claims he does still care about (though they are not allowed to ask him about his taxes, either) -  he refused without explanation to provide the tax information, and has clearly communicated his feelings that the American people have no right to know his private business. He argued vociferously in the past for full disclosure from his opponents in various political races, but he is coldly furious that anyone would dare to question him about the same things. That Romney feels entitled to special privilege and aristocratic immunity from the prying eyes of the hoi poloi has been made abundantly clear. He also lied about the precedent for full tax return disclosure by persons running for high office, and has continued to evade the question, plead special status and point-blank refuses to comply.

CEO Romney, where are your tax returns?  Why have you so haughtily refused to explain to the American people why you, but no other candidates for high office in recent history, should be exempted from this full disclosure? The argument for personal privacy, while possibly valid, can only hold water if it is applied across the board. Why do you feel that you are entitled to maintain secrecy around your financial dealings?  When ordinary citizens apply for a mortgage, they must release their tax returns to a lender and other related agencies. Why do you think the American people have no right to this information about you, when you are interviewing for the highest public office in the land?

We're on to you, Mitt. (via allhatnocattle)
On leaving office, Governor Romney purged the State of Massachusetts' records of his gubanatorial administration. Why did you do that, Governor? What possible reason could you have had to spend nearly $100,000 of taxpayer money to wipe his record away? Where can the American people find information about the records which were purged?

After promising "transparency" at the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney ordered key documents pertaining to the financial oversight and inner workings of his governing apparatus there destroyed. Why?  Governor Romney, you want the American people to hire you for the highest public office in the land: where is the record of your former work?  Where are the gubanatorial papers from your tenure as Governor in Massachusetts?  Where are the records of your performance as chief executive in charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics? What are you hiding?

Bishop Romney, in 2008 you claimed that your religion will not be a factor in your decisions if you are elected, yet as a devout Mormon how will you square that with church doctrine which insists that the only ultimate authority on earth is the president of the Mormon church? Furthermore, the Mormon Church has a teaching that lying in the service of the church is morally justifiable, on the grounds that a Mormon has the right and the duty to obey a higher authority (the leadership of the church and its interpretation of God's will), and no duty to obey manmade laws or rules if they conflict with the Church's best interest. You have proven that you are willing to lie about your business record, you are willing to lie about the President's record and you are willing to lie about your plans for the country. Do you believe that your lies are morally justifiable according to your religious beliefs? What are the implications of that for a Romney presidency?
Wall-to-wall obfuscation: is that all you've got, Mitt?
Bad news, my friend. The American people are on to you.

Bishop Romney, you expect people to "trust you" when you refuse to answer questions or give specifics about your claim that you will be working for 100% of the people - yet what reason do we have to trust you? Why can't we find plentiful examples of your charity or concern for people outside of your church? Every single "story" at the RNC convention and just about every story before and since then involved families inside the Mormon church. Most of us are pretty willing to help out members of our own communities. The true test of leadership is how willing you are to help people to whom you do not owe any debt or religious allegiance. Where is the evidence that you possess that kind of character?

Bishop Romney, at the RNC convention you deliberately presented a bland picture of a kind of generic "Christianity" which was in no sense an accurate reflection of your Mormon faith. Referring to the male leaders of the LDS church as "pastors" instead of by their actual titles, "bishops" was a misleading strategy to appear more like the conservative Christians that you are courting for their votes.  Pretending to be afraid of "going to hell" - which you know is an actual fear of Protestant Evangelical Christians - was a dishonest ploy to ingratiate yourself with the conservative Christians who worry that you are not "one of them".

Even some of your fellow Mormons are on to you, Mitt. 
But, there is no hell in the LDS belief system. There are only the three degrees of glory and outer darkness. As a recipient of the Second Anointing, you have been guaranteed the Celestial Kingdom. While your non-Mormon supporters may not know this, your LDS supporters almost certainly do. It is possible that their consciences, like yours, are undisturbed by lying - even lying to the entire American people in the quest to win the highest office in the land - when you can almost taste the victory of ultimate power. But I think you underestimate the character of your fellow religionists. Some Latter Day Saints recognized what you were doing and they were appalled.

"Mitt Romney and the other Mormon speakers spent the entire evening trying to make Mormonism sound like just another Christian religion. It was deliberate misrepresentation, and the joke about going to hell was part of it." (ex-Mormon commenting on the presentation of Mormonism by Mitt Romney and his campaign). reported by Lynna, at Pharyngula.

Bishop Romney, are you trying to deceive even your own conservative Christian base by pretending to share their core beliefs and practices? Why? Could it be that you know that if they knew who you really are and what you truly believe that you would lose their support? If even your own base would not support the true Mitt Romney, then how can you expect the majority of the country to support you? And if you have to lie to secure the support of your base, then how can the country ever trust you?  If you will even lie to your own base, what does that say about a future Romney presidency?

These are just a few of the dozens of questions to which many Americans would like a straight answer.

A few other bloggers have more words of advice:

How Joe Biden Broke the Gish Gallop, The National Memo, October 15, 2012.

More Debate Suggestions For Obama, Andy Ostroy, HuffPost Politics, October 15, 2012.

Good luck, Mr. President.

Mitt Romney believes that he is above regular Americans.  How dare we demand to see his tax returns!
We are on to you,  Mitt Romney!










Isn't That Just Ducky!


Hello there!

Do you want to play?

Can we play?

Can we play now?

How about now?

Let's play!

Do you want to play?

How about now?

Play!

Play! Play! Play!

PlayplayplayplayPLAY!

OK, in a minute.

How about now?

Let's play!

Playplayplayplayplay!

Playlet'splaylet'splay!

Do you want to play?

Isn't that just Ducky!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Evolution



Check out this gorgeously illustrated, clear, concise and relatively brief (10 minutes) explanation of the Theory of Evolution.

Helpful for parents trying to help older children understand, too!

via QualiaSoup

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Does Mitt Romney Believe In The Book Of Mormon?


 You people need to understand this: if you aren't already in Mitt's inner circle, you are going to be out of luck in
a Romney/Ryan world. What is more, that's just what Mitt believes you deserve!























Mitt Romney is a devout Mormon.  Pay attention to the stories of his charity work and the personal ways he has helped other people - virtually everything he has ever done for other human beings outside of his family have been done for fellow Mormons. His charity is reserved for his religious tribe only.

More important, a devout Mormon believes that it is not the Constitution, nor the President of the United States, nor the Supreme Court of the United States, nor Congress, and certainly not the rabble of common people who elect Congress and the President who are or ought to be the final authority on civic life in the United States of America - or indeed the world.  The ultimate authority to whom Mitt Romney is bound by his devout Mormon faith to obey is God, whose word is interpreted by the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Private religious belief is a protected right in the United States, but what happens when it is one's private religious belief that there is no higher authority than "God" and that one's own church leaders are His inerrant spokesmen? What happens to a Republic when those elected to high office defer to the religious leaders of one religious sect because it is a tenet of their personal religious convictions that this is the only righteous and moral thing to do? That it is not only sinful but dangerous to put human authority above the ultimate authority of God. The problem is that the hundreds of Christian sects cannot even agree amongst themselves on what the desires of God may be, since none have ever actually seen or spoken to Him, and all claim to have the "correct" interpretation of the scriptures attributed to the deity.

We don't need no stinkin'
First Amendment!
Christianity is a system of law with Christ as the law giver...
Christianity is a system of government with Christ as the king...
What is authority?
The new standard dictionary defines authority as: The right to command and to enforce obedience; the right to act by virtue of office, station, or relation; as the authority of the parent over the child.

Authority is of two kinds. Primary and Delegated.
1. Primary authority. This grows out of the relation of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey.

2. Delegated authority. That is, the right to command and to enforce obedience which can be given to another by the one holding primary authority...
Conclusion: If the things in this lesson are true, and they are, then Christianity is divine. Human authority has no place in the plan. No one has a right to preach anything different from what the Christ and the apostles taught men to do.
(The Source of Authority in Christianity, simple bible studies. com.)

What happens when leaders elected to high office believe that it is their god-given duty to subjugate all of the citizens of the United States to the tenets of their own religion?  That it is, in fact, a good thing to bring people to the faith through whatever means necessary, with or without the consent of the people (who are seen as either believers or "lost" and in need of "saving") and who therefore believe that their unconstitutional behaviour is moral and righteous? And what happens if the elected leaders cannot agree on whose religious belief system is the correct one? Whose religious doctrine is the one to make the law of the land?

The Republicans have insisted on injecting religion into politics in a way which has guaranteed that Article 6 of the Constitution has been all but abandoned. They have made it clear that it is their intention to bring America "back" to a conservative, Christian Bible-based legal framework. Since the first four "commandments" of the Decalogue demand that there be no worship of any other god but the Biblical god (under pain of death), they have essentially given notice that they intend to wipe out the religious freedom currently guaranteed by the first Amendment, too.

If Republicans succeed in forcing the legal enshrinement of the notion that America is a Biblical, Christian (or even the wickedly, deceptively, politically coined "Judeo-Christian") nation, then the only religion which will be "American" will be Christianity (exactly what version of Christianity remains to be seen), and all others will lose religious freedom. Jews may temporarily escape discrimination under the new Christian American order, due to sharing a Bible with Christians - and the Ten Commandments upon which conservative Christians believe American law is or should be based is found in the shared Christian/Jewish books of the Bible. But the key to remember is that the Jewish reprieve will be temporary. All other religions would of course have to be outlawed in accordance with "God's" commandment.

These are not hidden intentions and they go far beyond the questions that were raised back in the Kennedy era. John F. Kennedy disavowed pushing personal religious beliefs into public policy and he affirmed the principle of the separation of church and state. Republicans have disavowed the principle of separation of church and state and have insisted on not only mixing religion with politics but in pushing an overtly, extremely religious, exclusionary agenda to the forefront of public policy.

Americans need to think about these questions. Seriously.

Brian Dalton, (aka Mr. Deity) has an important Public Service Announcement. A recovering Latter Day Saint, Dalton is intimately acquainted with the Mormon religion and what the beliefs - and requirements - of its adherents are. In the video linked above, he discusses just one of the core foundational ideas of Mormonism - its profound racism.