Looking Back at a Domestic Cri de Coeur

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/books/betty-friedans-feminine-mystique-50-years-later.html

Published: February 18, 2013

On my first day of work at The New York Times, a young reporter spied me in the newsroom and rushed up to say hello. “Hey!” she said. “It’s another one of us!” We were both in our 20s at a time when young women at The Times were a novelty, and that big smile from Anna Quindlen was an amazingly generous icebreaker. That was that: friends for life.

Three and a half decades later I was embarrassed to tell Anna that I had never read “The Feminine Mystique,” which was published 50 years ago this Tuesday. It has now been reissued, with an introduction by the Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins and an afterword by Anna. Anna and I talk about books all the time; how had this one never come up in conversation?

She wasn’t surprised. She hears “The Feminine Mystique” name-dropped by people who, she can tell, haven’t read it at all.

“It is a cliché of our own time,” Betty Friedan wrote in her 1963 manifesto — which, yes, I have just finished reading — “that women spent half a century fighting for ‘rights,’ and the next half wondering whether they wanted them at all. ‘Rights’ have a dull sound to people who have grown up after they have been won.”

Among the many truisms in the book, that one leaps out at me most. Unlike friends who went to women’s colleges, I went to a coed campus and studied math; “The Feminine Mystique” was not required reading. By the time I became a journalist, Friedan’s sleepwalking housewives were so long gone that I could enter the professional world with a short memory and an undisguised advantage. The top editor who hired me in 1977 told me, perfectly nicely, that I was “the right age and the right sex.” He told Anna that if she hadn’t been female, she never would have gotten in the door.

Friedan wrote about the period between World War II and 1960, when women married young, abandoned their ambitions, had large families that fueled the baby boom, moved to the suburbs and valued femininity above all else. This was the era during which Adlai Stevenson, soon to make his second bid for president, told Smith College’s Class of 1955: “I think there is much you can do about our crisis in the humble role of housewife. I could wish you no better vocation than that.”

Read today, “The Feminine Mystique” is a fascinating mixture of antiquated attitudes (like that one) and others that have remained unchanged. Foisting sexual precocity on the very young goes way back, we find out; JonBenet Ramsey’s parents didn’t invent it. Remember that YouTube video of 7-year-old girls mimicking Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” dance moves? In Friedan’s day a newspaper ad for a child’s dress featured the tag line “She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/books/betty-friedans-feminine-mystique-50-years-later.html

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Karl Rove’s Ashley Judd problem

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/02/19/karl_rove’s_ashley_judd_problem/

The big loser of the 2012 campaign cycle is incapable of helping his party close the gender gap

Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013

When activist and actress Ashley Judd recently announced she was mulling a run for Senate against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Karl Rove revealed a strategy to undermine her. It would be one he’d used before with women candidates. “We’re making fun of her,” he explained.

Give him points for honesty. The key concept behind his super PAC’s first attack ad of the new election cycle was indeed to belittle the high-profile, politically active Judd. Rove and American Crossroads GPS dropped $10,000 to “stick a pin in her balloon,” going up with a satiric Judd for Senate campaign spot that portrays her as an airhead, a “leader who knows how to follow,” and dismisses her as a silly Hollywood liberal.

Far from a unique personal shot at Judd, the attack is part of a long pattern of Rove attacking women in troubling ways rhetorically distinct from his campaigns against male candidates.

One can say that he is an equal opportunity smear artist, but there is a context and a history to Rove’s anti-Judd salvo. He routinely resorts to anti-woman insults and insinuations that cut deeper than his usual attacks – characterizing women in politics as having stereotypically negative female traits (subject to hysteria, too emotional, weak and weepy, bleeding heart, flighty or frigid, and lesbian).

On mainstream women’s issues, in the last year alone Rove claimed that Democrats “worship at the altar of reproductive rights,” compared President Obama to a “third-world dictator” for requiring insurance companies to cover birth control, and sneered at the White House’s priority to ensure equal pay for equal work as evidence of “unapologetic liberalism.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/02/19/karl_rove’s_ashley_judd_problem/

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National Review Blogger Calls for Repeal of Women’s Suffrage

From Pandagon@Raw Story:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/20/national-review-blogger-calls-for-repeal-of-womens-suffrage/

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thanks to Donkeylicious for bringing this to my attention. Michael Walsh of National Review Online called for the termination of women’s right to vote last week:

 Nevertheless, you’re on to something I’ve been advocating for years now. And that is the repeal of all four of the so-called “Progressive Era” amendments, including the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, which were passed between 1911 and 1920.

One of those has already been repealed—the 18th amendment, which ushered in Prohibition—which Walsh admits. That’s not really what he’s on about anyway:

The income-tax amendment was a self-evident attack on capitalism and led to the explosive growth of the federal government we currently enjoy today. (Without it, there’d be no need for a Balanced Budget Amendment.) Direct elections of senators has given us, among other wonders, the elevation of John F. Kerry to, now, secretary of state. Prohibition was directly responsible for the rise of organized crime and itsunholy alliance with the big-city Democratic machines. And women’s suffrage . . . well, let’s just observe that without it Barack Obama could never have become president. Time for the ladies to take one for the team.

I suppose we’re supposed to imagine it’s a “joke”, because he takes a jovial tone for the last one. But if so, it doesn’t make sense. He’s dead fucking serious about the other two—three, really, because he only seems to be against Prohibition because he believes it gave Democrats a leg up, which is one of those deaf-to-historical-change moments that lead Republicans to imagine that Lincoln would have anything to do with the modern version of their party—so, as a joke, it falls completely apart. If he hadn’t rolled it up with the other amendments initially, the “joke” defense he clearly has in his pocket would be an easier sell. Something like, “I’ve long advocated for the repeal of 3 of the Progressive Amendments (though one has already been repealed), and hey, ladies, sometimes you make me wish to repeal all four.” It would still be a misogynist joke, but easier to sell as a joke, even if not a very funny one.

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/20/national-review-blogger-calls-for-repeal-of-womens-suffrage/

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Colorado Task Force: Let Tourists Use Legal Pot

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs/colorado-task-force-let-tourists-use-legal-pot

If lawmakers agree with the task force recommendation, tourists will be free to get stoned in Colorado.

By Kristen Gwynne
February 20, 2013

 The Colorado task force in charge of setting up regulations for the state’s legal marijuana has decided to let tourists in on the weed, the Associated Press reports. Lawmakers, law enforcement and marijuana policy activists on the task force assembled and agreed Tuesday that Amendment 64 legalizes marijuana for all adults at least 21 years old, and does not exclude out-of-state visitors.
Members of the task force were concerned whether allowing tourists to purchase marijuana would encourage or discourage illicit sale. “Imposing a residency requirement would almost certainly create a black market for recreational marijuana in the state,” task force member Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat, said at the meeting.
Regulators agreed that marijuana tourists should be warned via billboards and airport signs not to take Colorado marijuana home, and that an undetermined limit of sale should be established for non-residents.
If lawmakers agree with the task force recommendation, tourists will be free to get stoned in Colorado. Still, whether they, or anyone else in the state can do so in public is up for a more heated debate.
According to the Associated Press:
Task force members were less successful agreeing to recommendations on marijuana growing and public use. Colorado’s marijuana law allows home growing but requires plants to be in a locked, secure location out of public view. The task force couldn’t agree whether a “locked” and “secure” location would mean a backyard surrounded by a fence, or whether an enclosure such as a shed or greenhouse should be mandatory.
Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, whom the AP called “one of the task force’s most vocal marijuana critics,” expressed concern that a chain-link fence would not be sufficient in keeping kids out of a backyard pot garden. Prominent marijuana policy activist Meg Sanders disagreed, and said requiring coverings like greenhouses would be unfair.
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Putting Some Real Pop in Populism Washington should do more than the minimum on minimum wage.

From Other Words:  http://otherwords.org/putting-some-real-pop-in-populism/

February 20, 2013
Reposted with Other Words’ Creative Commons permission

“In the wealthiest nation on Earth,” President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union speech, “no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”

Right! Not only does his call to raise America’s minimum wage put some real pop in populism, but it could finally start putting some ethics back in our country’s much-celebrated, (but rarely honored) “work ethic.”

Kudos to Obama for putting good economics and good morals together — and for putting this long overdue increase on the front burner.

But then came the number: $9 an hour. Excuse me, Mr. President, but that means a person who “works full-time” would nonetheless “have to live in poverty.” Yes, nine bucks is a buck-seventy-five better than the current pay, but it’s still a poverty wage. It doesn’t even elevate the buying power of our wage floor back to where it was in 1968.

This isn’t merely about extending a badly needed helping hand to people struggling to work their way out of poverty, but about letting them give a jolt of new energy to our economy, which it desperately needs.

Ironically, the rich save and the poor spend. While super-rich corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars in offshore accounts and refusing to invest in America, minimum-wage workers invest every extra dollar they get in America — spending it right where they live on clothing, food, health care, and other basic needs.

A 2011 Federal Reserve study found that a one-dollar hike in the minimum wage produces an additional $2,800 a year in spending by each of those households. This is no time to shortchange these workers.

Yes, I know that GOP lawmakers and corporate lobbyists oppose even a $9 wage. But a poll last June found that seven out of 10 Americans (including a majority of Republicans), support raising the wage above $10 an hour. This is a time, Mr. President, to think big and listen to the grassroots.

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Strengthening Social Security for all

From The Economic Policy Institute:  http://www.epi.org/blog/strengthening-social-security/

by Monique Morrissey
February 19, 2013

Americans need Social Security more than ever, and they’re willing to pay for it. Rather than more cuts, we need higher benefits across the board.

This was the gist of my presentation at the National Academy of Social Insurance conference last month, whose theme was “Social Security and Medicare in a Time of Budget Austerity” (emphasis added). I wasn’t expecting it to go over very well.

Though my colleague Josh Bivens likes to point out that deficit reduction doesn’t necessarily imply spending cuts, and though Republicans don’t hesitate to call for tax cuts in the same context, there’s a general sense that expanding social insurance programs is out of the question and the best we can hope for is targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable.[1]

Even many progressives have trimmed their sails. Though most reject the need for additional cuts, few call for fully reversing cuts enacted in 1983, notably the gradual increase in the retirement age that is still taking effect. Progressives have also been divided about raising the payroll tax rate, the only way to pay for significant benefit increases while preserving the program’s contributory structure. Though almost all agree we should “scrap the cap” on taxable earnings, this only gets you part of the way to closing the projected shortfall in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

This seems to be changing, if the mood at the NASI conference is any indication. Rather than being contrarian, my presentation was almost redundant. At the conference, NASI released the results of a poll showing strong support for Social Security by the American people, a consensus that benefits are inadequate, and a willingness to pay higher taxes to strengthen the program (I discussed these results in an earlier blog post). The poll made it harder to dismiss calls for expanding Social Security, though Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel tried. Among the other conference participants who made a strong case for expanding Social Security were blogger-economist Duncan Black (a.k.a. Atrios) and Wilhelmina Leigh, a participant in the 2011 Commission to Modernize Social Security, which led the way in calling for higher contributions and benefits across the board.

Continue reading at:  http://www.epi.org/blog/strengthening-social-security/

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Obama Administration Aims To Fix Loophole Letting Home Health Workers Make Less Than Minimum Wage

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/20/1614551/obama-administration-aims-to-fix-loophole-letting-home-health-workers-make-less-than-minimum-wage/

By Pat Garofalo
on Feb 20, 2013

The Obama administration is reviving its push to provide labor protections to home health workers who are often excluded from traditional labor law. According to The Hill, the administration will offer a final rule governing the home health industry soon:

Enactment of the regulations, which are under final review at the White House, would represent a major victory for unions that have fought for decades to win higher pay for direct-care aides. […]

In recent days, the White House has held multiple meetings with groups that have a stake in the proposal, according to participants and logs maintained by the Office of Management and Budget.

Involved parties on both sides said they expect the White House to issue the rule soon.

Home health workers are not subject to minimum wage or overtime pay laws because the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts those “who provide ‘companionship services’ to people with disabilities and the elderly,” a definition that has been applied to home health workers. But as Sarah Jane Glynn noted, “Home care workers today provide everything from help with eating and dressing to monitoring blood pressure and vital signs,” making them far from simple companions.

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/20/1614551/obama-administration-aims-to-fix-loophole-letting-home-health-workers-make-less-than-minimum-wage/

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A Job should be a right not a privilege!

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The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html

Published: February 20, 2013

On the evening of April 8, 1999, a long line of Town Cars and taxis pulled up to the Minneapolis headquarters of Pillsbury and discharged 11 men who controlled America’s largest food companies. Nestlé was in attendance, as were Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills and Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars. Rivals any other day, the C.E.O.’s and company presidents had come together for a rare, private meeting. On the agenda was one item: the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. While the atmosphere was cordial, the men assembled were hardly friends. Their stature was defined by their skill in fighting one another for what they called “stomach share” — the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition.

James Behnke, a 55-year-old executive at Pillsbury, greeted the men as they arrived. He was anxious but also hopeful about the plan that he and a few other food-company executives had devised to engage the C.E.O.’s on America’s growing weight problem. “We were very concerned, and rightfully so, that obesity was becoming a major issue,” Behnke recalled. “People were starting to talk about sugar taxes, and there was a lot of pressure on food companies.” Getting the company chiefs in the same room to talk about anything, much less a sensitive issue like this, was a tricky business, so Behnke and his fellow organizers had scripted the meeting carefully, honing the message to its barest essentials. “C.E.O.’s in the food industry are typically not technical guys, and they’re uncomfortable going to meetings where technical people talk in technical terms about technical things,” Behnke said. “They don’t want to be embarrassed. They don’t want to make commitments. They want to maintain their aloofness and autonomy.”

A chemist by training with a doctoral degree in food science, Behnke became Pillsbury’s chief technical officer in 1979 and was instrumental in creating a long line of hit products, including microwaveable popcorn. He deeply admired Pillsbury but in recent years had grown troubled by pictures of obese children suffering from diabetes and the earliest signs of hypertension and heart disease. In the months leading up to the C.E.O. meeting, he was engaged in conversation with a group of food-science experts who were painting an increasingly grim picture of the public’s ability to cope with the industry’s formulations — from the body’s fragile controls on overeating to the hidden power of some processed foods to make people feel hungrier still. It was time, he and a handful of others felt, to warn the C.E.O.’s that their companies may have gone too far in creating and marketing products that posed the greatest health concerns.

The discussion took place in Pillsbury’s auditorium. The first speaker was a vice president of Kraft named Michael Mudd. “I very much appreciate this opportunity to talk to you about childhood obesity and the growing challenge it presents for us all,” Mudd began. “Let me say right at the start, this is not an easy subject. There are no easy answers — for what the public health community must do to bring this problem under control or for what the industry should do as others seek to hold it accountable for what has happened. But this much is clear: For those of us who’ve looked hard at this issue, whether they’re public health professionals or staff specialists in your own companies, we feel sure that the one thing we shouldn’t do is nothing.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html

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Why the fracking boom may actually be an economic bubble

From Grist:  http://grist.org/news/why-the-fracking-boom-may-actually-be-an-economic-bubble/

By Philip Bump
19 Feb 2013

Fracking proponents like to use an evocative economic metaphor in talking about their industry: boom. The natural gas boom. Drilling is exploding in North Dakota and Texas and Pennsylvania. Only figuratively so far, but who knows what the future holds.

The Post Carbon Institute, however, suggests in a new report [PDF] that another metaphor would be more apt: a bubble, like the bubbles of methane that seep into water wells and then burst.

PCI presents the argument in its most basic form at ShaleBubble.org:

[T]he so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints — not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling — mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.

PCI’s strongest argument may be on the rapid depletion of drill sites. The case is made using the data in this graph, showing the amount of oil extracted over time from wells in the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/news/why-the-fracking-boom-may-actually-be-an-economic-bubble/

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Documents reveal pipeline industry drove changes to ‘Navigable Waters’ act

From CTV Canada:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/documents-reveal-pipeline-industry-drove-changes-to-navigable-waters-act-1.1164476

Heather Scoffield
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

OTTAWA — When the Harper government included a radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill, outsiders scratched their heads and wondered out loud where that idea had come from.

Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show it came, in part, from the pipeline industry.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them not just to streamline environmental assessments, but also to bring in “new regulations under (the) Navigable Waters Protection Act,” a CEPA slide presentation shows.

A copy of the Oct. 27 presentation made to then-deputy minister of trade Louis Levesque was obtained by Greenpeace Canada and shared with The Canadian Press.

At the time, the federal government was preparing for a major overhaul of environmental oversight as part of its plan to launch its “Responsible Resource Development” initiative in the 2012 budget.

With so many of the pipeline-related rules in flux, the CETA board of directors decided to hold its fall strategy meeting in Ottawa, and meet with Levesque at the same time.

They had a concise but aggressive wish list, the slides show:

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Monsanto: All Your Seeds Are Belong to Us

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/02/scotus-hears-monsanto-soybean-case

By Wed Feb. 20, 2013

Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old Indiana farmer, says that switching to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans “made things so much simpler and better.” Monsanto’s patented beans can survive when they are sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate, also known as Roundup, which makes pest control much easier. Monsanto is less impressed with Bowman: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday on a lawsuit that the company filed against him in 2007, accusing him of violating its patent on Roundup Ready soybeans.

Here’s what happened: Bowman bought seeds from a grain elevator that sold soybeans for animal feed, industrial use, or other nonplanting purposes. The elevator contained a lot of “second generation” Roundup Ready seeds—the spawn of original seeds that other farmers had bought and harvested from Monsanto. That’s not surprising, since “[Roundup Ready soybeans are] probably the most rapidly adopted technological advance in history,” said Seth Waxman, who is representing Monsanto. “The very first Roundup Ready soybean seed was only made in 1996. And it now is grown by more than 90 percent of  the 275,000 soybean farms in the United States.”

Bowman then planted the soybeans—and that’s the part that Monsanto objects to. Farmers who plant Monsanto soybeans have to sign an agreement saying they will not save the “second-generation” seeds and use them for the next harvest. Bowman didn’t replant his own Monsanto seeds, but he did plant seeds that contained somebody else’s second-generation Monsanto seeds. According to Monsanto, buying that grain and planting it to make more soybeans (as opposed to buying the grain to use for food or another purpose) is a patent violation, too.

Why aren’t the owners of the grain elevator to blame? After all, they’re the ones who sold the soybeans to Bowman, right? Wrong, says Monsanto: The grain elevator was selling the soybeans as grain for general purposes, not planting. Monsanto contends that the patent violation is Bowman’s fault because he took the grains and used them to create new versions of Monsanto’s patented soybeans that Monsanto, the patent holder, hadn’t sold him.

The company claims that violations like this could stymie investment in similar products in the future. “It would be near impossible to recoup your investments with that first sale, and so the more likely consequence is that research dollars would be put elsewhere,” said Melissa Arbus Sherry, assistant to the solicitor general at the Department of Justice, during the argument.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/02/scotus-hears-monsanto-soybean-case

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