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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Woman and Man at Yale, Part V 

Ann Bartow in comments links to this Posner post on the Story article about the career expectations of women at elite universities.

Since deconstructing all of Posner's implicit assumptions and rhetorical sleights of hand would take more time than I have right now, I am tempted to adopt Bartow's optimally concise comment: "Oy." (She has more to add here.)

To give you a flavor, though, I have to quote this sentence from the conclusion:
Although women continue to complain about discrimination, sometimes quite justly, the gender-neutral policies that govern admission to the elite professional schools illustrate discrimination in favor of women.
Oy.

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Gay = Not Conservative? 

Whether you approve of Atrios's sly aside that Republican House Majority Leader du jour David Dreier is rumored to be gay, or of Kevin Drum's condemnation of same, you have to scratch your head at the Times' coverage of the issue:
Earlier in the day, there had been indications that Mr. Dreier might be named to Mr. DeLay's place temporarily, which did not sit well with some House conservatives. But a Congressional aide said Wednesday night that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert had already chosen Mr. Blunt before the conservatives voiced their objections.
That sounds like the problem was that Dreier was not conservative enough.

Is that really it? Planned Parenthood gives him a 0% rating (perfectly anti-choice). The Brady Campaign agrees -- 0%. The ACLU is not much happier with him -- 10% and 27% for the last two Congresses (in large part because of his disagreeing with the GOP leadership on single sex marriage and related issues). Indeed, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who contributed research to the Times article wrote in 2003 that "Mr. Dreier's voting record is strictly conservative", though going on to say that "those who know him say that he does not come across as hard line and that he projects the same kind of moderation Mr. Schwarzenegger needs to display as a Republican in a heavily Democratic state".

In other words, part of the story was that Dreier was shot down for the Republican leadership at least in part because he is rumored to be gay. The Times cover story chose not cover that and, in fact, to obscure it with a vague and misleading reference to conservatives not liking him.

UPDATE: Via Atrios, Steve Clemmons is on the same story. Clemmons reports that Wolf Blitzer on CNN is reporting "that Dreier was blocked at the last moment because he was pro-choice, from Southern California, and had 'other issues'". As noted above, Dreier has a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood, so this looks like more misleading reporting about what went on yesterday.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Justice DeLayed 

The other shoe drops ... on the Hammer.

The natural question, of course, is: How likely is it that DeLay goes down?

While at this point I really don't know, the odds go up because the charge against DeLay is conspiracy. As I understand it, charging conspiracy was the basis for Travis County's jurisdiction, because if the charge were simply under the Texas election law, it would have had to be brought in the county where DeLay resides and -- I'm sure you will be shocked -- the Republican D.A. there wasn't interested.

The conspiracy charge is also important to predicting the likelihood of conviction. Conspiracy is a tremendously powerful prosecutorial tool. For one thing, a conspirator's out-of-court statements may be used against his co-conspirators (an exception to the normal rule of hearsay). Even more important, conspiracy criminalizes the illegal agreement, and then makes the defendant responsible for the acts of his co-conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy. What that means is that the D.A. will not need to prove that DeLay was involved in, or even aware of, all of the steps in the conspiracy, but rather need only prove that DeLay agreed to the illegal end of laundering corporate contributions so they could be funneled to Republican candidates. There seems to be a pretty clear paper trail that DeLay's PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, was indeed doing exactly that, so the question will be whether DeLay approved it. I don't know at this point what the evidence of that is. Presumably, DeLay will use the Bernie Ebbers defense and say he didn't know what was going on. I haven't seen the evidence, but at this point I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hammer breaking rocks....

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Get Bush To Give A Little More To Planned Parenthood 

I contribute fairly often to NARAL, but I have to say I take special pleasure in contributing to Planned Parenthood, because the tax deduction makes me feel like the Republican controlled government is sending a little bit of federal money along with my contribution.

Normally, however, households with adjusted gross incomes of over a certain amount ($145,950 for single and married filing jointly in 2005) -- a group that on the whole is obviously able to give quite a bit of charity -- sees a reduction or elimination of the charitable contribution deduction. As I understand it, under the newly minted Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005, that rule will not apply for all contributions from now until the end of the year (regardless of whether the charity is involved in hurricane relief).

So, if you do have household income above the $145,950 threshold, now is a very favorable time to give to Planned Parenthood (which, by the way, is involved in hurricane relief).

All the usual caveats apply: I'm not a tax lawyer, I'm not your lawyer, you should obtain appropriate tax advice from a professional, etc., etc.

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Woman and Male at Yale, Part IV 

Kieran continues to be all over this Story story, now with charts, graphs, bells & whistles. Highly recommended (make sure to read the comments as well, as there's more useful information in them, such as directions to this CEPR paper).

Note that part of what we need is to get the information in Kieran's first chart broken down by education categories (I haven't checked the CEPR paper yet to see if it does that), so we can tell if it is the case that it's highly educated women who are more likely than others to have left the labor market in the post-2000 period.

Update: here's a key quote from the CEPR paper:
The decline in EPOPs [Employment to Population Ratios] for prime age women is likely due to the lack of employment opportunities, rather than mothers opting out of the labor market. The EPOP fell for prime age women without children by nearly as much as it fell for mothers. Women lost a disproportionate share of jobs in sectors that have lost more than five percent of employment since the last economic peak, indicating that women have been hard hit by employment losses.


Update II: Yglesias also notes Kieran's post on this and adds another useful insight: if you have kids, and you're out of the labor market due, in reality, to labor market conditions, wouldn't you rather say you're staying home with your kids than that you're unemployed? Unemployed has lotsa negative connotations, after all...

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Because We're Just Not Hateful Enough Already.... 

NYT: "Homosexuals, even those who are celibate, will be barred from becoming Roman Catholic priests, a church official said Wednesday, under stricter rules soon to be released on one of the most sensitive issues facing the church."

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Woman and Man at Yale, Part III 

OK, let me try this again. This morning, Mary confirmed my sense from comments here and otherwise that my first post on Louise Story's Times story on women at elite colleges is being interpreted as far more of a defense of the story's theme and methodology than I intended (in part because I chose to leave the mockery to those who are better at it). Mary is posting on this as well, but let me try to clarify my thoughts about four of the issues raised by this article: (1) Is there a trend? (2) Why might there be a trend? (3) If there is a trend, does it matter? (4) Was Story's reporting on the issue responsible?

(1) Is there a trend? I don't know. And neither does Story, as Ann Bartow, Kevin Drum, and many others have noted. However, Story quotes a senior Yale historian with a specialty in the history of American women, Harvard's director of admissions, the Dean of Yale College, and the Chair of the Yale Women's and Gender Studies Studies Program who all seem to think there has been a change compared to the prior generation of students. For what it's worth, and again this is completely anecdotal, the Yale that Story describes sounds very different from the Yale I attended in the 1980s. In my experience, it was rare that students would talk about their futures the way the students in the article are quoted as doing, and if they did, it would likely be with the combination of defensiveness and self-satisfaction that comes of having a minority viewpoint. None of that means there really is a trend. But it does seem to be enough reason to take the possibility seriously -- especially given the factors I'll discuss in the next section.

(2) Why might there be a trend? This is a significant point, and one that Story does not address. It seems to me that there is something of a cottage industry out there bashing working mothers. Off the top of my head, I think of Sylvia Hewlett, Lisa Belkin (to whom I will return in a moment), Jane Swift, I Don't Know How She Does It, and The Nanny Diaries, but feel free to substitute your own favorite examples (Mrs. Doubtfire, Dr. Laura, etc., etc.). This industry sells several interrelated points: (a) mothers working is bad for children; (b) therefore, for a mother to focus on her career is selfish and wrong; (c) fathers will never equally share responsibility for childrearing and, anyway, mothers are so much better suited than men for parenthood or are so privileged to get the wonderful joys of parenthood that men never get to experience or some similar soft-focus tripe; and (d) given the above, feminism was a big lie and the way to happiness for women lies in raising your kids and, maybe, when they're in school, finding some part time "job" that won't interfere with your "real job". And, of course, work-family issues are consistently framed in the public discourse as exclusively "women's issues".

Given these messages, and the overarching anti-feminist backlash saturating our culture, I find it unsurprising that there may indeed be the kind of trend Story suggests. Young people, even young people at Yale (or maybe, as Elizabeth suggests, especially young people at Yale) are forming their views of the world and are, naturally, influenced by the culture around them -- and the culture around them is telling young women to scale back their professional aspirations.

(3) If there is a trend, would it matter? I think it would matter a great deal. While I see the similarities to Lisa Belkin's infamous piece (highlighted by what Jessica Valenti aptly calls "Belkin’s cringe-worthy quote: 'Why don't women run the world? Maybe it's because they don't want to'"), this story raises more significant issues. To oversimplify, the Belkin piece looked at a few hyper-privileged middle aged women trying to justify their own failures -- whether in failing to negotiate an equal marriage (or, as Mary would say less diplomatically but perhaps more accurately, in "marrying sexist assholes") or failing in the workplace and choosing to live off their husband's wages -- with a smug and self-satisfied ideology of motherhood, and from that drew essentialist conclusions about what women and men "really want". The Story piece is different, and more worrisome. While Belkin's women compromised their goals and then came to an ideology that justified doing so, Story's women seem to be doing the reverse by adopting an ideology that would have them compromise their goals. The connection -- as Mary suggested to me this morning -- is that the need for self-justification in privileged women like those Belkin portrays is part of what's fueling the backlash described in (2).

Further, while it's tempting to criticize worrying about what students at Yale and Harvard are thinking as elitist, the fact is we live in a world where elites matter. In my first post on this, I linked to an article suggesting that the progressive views of Japan's Oxford-educated Crown Prince and his Harvard-educated wife are encouraging Japanese men to take a more active role in child-rearing. Our last three Presidents, last two Vice Presidents, and last two defeated presidential candidates attended Yale or Harvard, as did Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman, Russ Feingold, John Roberts, Pat Roberston, etc., etc. There is a reason the right is fighting so hard to squelch liberal ideas on campuses. The ideas that people come to and leave elite colleges with can have profound effects on our society.

(4) Was Story's reporting on the issue responsible? Not entirely, no. The article's selection and description of evidence and quotations suggests an underlying agenda (or at the very least some seriously underexamined assumptions), and it could certainly be used by anti-feminists to support the women-don't-succeed-because-they-don't-want-to type of arguments that Larry Summers' defenders trumpeted. As always, Kieran Healy says it better than I ever could:
But as usual, the article is steeped with the standard way of framing the issue, viz, only women have work-family choices. It’s up to them to be “realistic”, while of course the male students do not have any work-family choices at all. The subtext of the piece is the indirect vindication of those crusty old bastards in the 1950s who couldn’t see why they should hire, say, Sandra Day O’Connor because she’d only be taking a place away from a man with a family.
Beyond that, Story relies on anecdotal evidence and non-representative surveys. On the other hand, she is a reporter, not a social scientist. That's what reporters do. They interview people. Story interviewed a good number of students and faculty. She cites several university-conducted surveys. And she sent a survey, which I have to say I think is better than not sending a survey. The survey itself has been criticized. Some of the criticisms are fair: for example, the survey assumes that women are heterosexual and planning to have children and, more generally, suffers from the same framing problems as the article itself. At the same time, the questions (listed here) do seem reasonably calculated to elicit discussion of the subject of these students' expectations. Story acknowledges that "the changing attitudes are difficult to quantify" and that "[t]here is, of course, nothing new about women being more likely than men to stay home to rear children" (thus admitting precisely the point that Kevin Drum seeks to prove as debunking her piece). She quotes students who don't support the trend she sees, and faculty who lament it.

Bottom line, she could have done better, and she could have done worse. But I do think the issue she raises is worthy of some concern.

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Woman and Man at Yale, Part II 

There's been plenty more blogging on the New York Times story, much of it justifiably critical of the author's methodology (see, for example, Kevin Drum, who links to Jack Schafer), as well as Kieran Healey, who has a more substantive critique.

While there are certainly methodological problems (how do you say something is a trend when you have one data point?), I think Kieran is more on-target with an analysis that takes factors such as class privilege, people's need to resolve cognitive dissonance in ways that leave them feeling good about themselves, and especially the failure to make work-family issues men's issues as well as women's.

These stories--the latest one, as well as the Lisa Belkin's earlier Times Magazine story and all the drek by Sylvia Hewlett--are important, not because of some objective, representative truth they have identified that exists in the world (because, as Fred and I have both noted in the past, the majority of women with young children are not "opting out"), but because of "truths" of a sort that their authors, and people like them, are in the process of creating.

Who are these people, why do they feel the need to create these "truths," and why does what they say matter anyhow? They are, for the most part, a small group (in overall population terms) of baby boomer (or early post-boomer) women of tremendous privilege who married hyper-ambitious assholes who never had any intention of sharing parenting equally with them. When these women had children--often relatively late (again, compared to the population in general)--they were Shocked, Shocked to find out how hard it was to continue working as they had pre-children and still Mother. And they felt "betrayed" because nobody TOLD them it was going to be hard, back when THEY were in college and law or business school, and surely it was the job of those 70s feminists to TELL them it was going to be hard. Because their hyper-ambitious assholes husbands had no intention of cutting back on their work, and because they themselves bought into the idea that it "makes sense" for the person who earns less to be the one to cut back, and besides, they kind of like the big bucks the hyper-ambitious asshole husband brings in, after kid #2 arrived, they quit, or cut back to part-time, or switched to some kind of consulting, or whatever.

But importantly, they aren't just doing that quietly. They're first, looking around for examples of other women like them who did the same thing, so they can feel justified in their decision (e.g., Lisa Belkin) or they've gone all evangelical on the rest of us. Since, according to them, part of their problem was that nobody TOLD them it was going to be hard, or that they couldn't "have it all", they have now made it their mission to preach their gospel to younger women (e.g., Sylvia Hewlett). They are writing books, travelling the country, speaking on television and on campuses, telling young women that they'd darn well better understand that they aren't going to be able to have both a fully satisfying career and children. Or they say, "you can have it all, just not all at the same time, dear." Just as they have blinders on about the failure of men in their own generation to take an equal role in parenting, their message to the young also ignores men. They aren't talking to college men about how to balance their career and family aspirations, only college women.

They get huge play & coverage for telling this story, because it's consistent with what the conservative forces in our society want to hear, and because it is essentially a story that maintains the status quo, upholds the patriarchy, etc. Men don't need to change. Corporations don't need to change. Government doesn't need to change. Our ridiculous (and historically recent) ideas about intensive Mothering and bizarrely child-centered families don't need to change (and there's a lot more to talk about in terms of how important these issues are to why this narrative is what it is). No, women just need to adjust their expectations.

So while I agree with all the people who have argued that Louise Story's email survey was not representative, and had loaded questions, and that you can't establish that there's a trend going on in young women's plans when we only have one data point, nevertheless, if it were the case that young women are talking this way, why should it surprise us? The Belkins and Hewletts and hundreds like them (they're not all writing books and articles, but there are many of them out there evangelizing in ways big and small) have made it their mission in life to convince privileged young women that they can't do both, that they must "sequence", that they shouldn't get too ambitious, that they'd better lower their expectations now... So IF college women are saying this (and again, we need better data on this) how much of the explanation for that comes from the fact that they've been beaten over the head with it for the last 15 years? And if college men aren't saying it (and why didn't Story send her survey to men at Yale?), how much of the explanation comes from the fact that STILL no one is bothering to talk to them as if work-family issues were relevant to them, too?

Two pieces of anecdotal evidence of my own on all of this:

First, a couple of years ago, I was asked to be on a panel on "Women at Y**e" during alumni/ae weekend. The panel was made up of women from each of the reunion classes since women began to be admitted to Y**e. One of my co-panelists, who attended Y**e in the 1970s, was the classic case of the phenomenon I'm describing above. Her story was all about how when she was in college, all they thought about was the brilliant careers they were going to have, and nobody TOLD them that they couldn't do that and have kids, but she had learned her lesson that you can't do it all at the same time, and now she basically devotes her life to telling younger women that. At some point in the panel discussion, I tried pointing out that no one was talking about equally shared parenting or about what men do or don't or should do (and also mentioned that if we really wanted to change things, maybe we should reconsider having panels called "Women at Y**e"), and it had about as much effect on the discussion that followed as if I'd said nothing.

Second, I've taught a sociology of the family class a few times now. I have no illusions that the students who take that class are a representative sample of undergraduates at my university. I know they're very different from the students in Women's Studies classes, for example. However, I would assume that the men who take that family class are, most likely, an even more select group than the women (among other things, the classes are usually at least 2/3 female). When I ask students to write about their expectations for what their work and family life will look like when they're 35, many (and here I'm using the Louise Story-like weasel word, but I'm too lazy to go back and look at my class surveys) of the women say they expect to be staying home with children until those children start school or working part time. None of the men say that (and that's not weaseling--I really mean none). Mind you, the skew in who takes a family class may very well work in a way that fosters this stark split--if the students tend to be those with attitudes that favor male breadwinner/female homemaker divisions of labor, then it might be that the men in my class are more conservative than the average college guy. Anyhow, my point is, I think the message from the bitter baby boomer bitches (I'm sorry, I'm sure there are many ways that this is unfair, and they're my sisters in oppression and I shouldn't blame them and all that, but they piss me off) may indeed influence what some college students say & think about this stuff...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Woman and Man at Yale 

The Times has a lengthy article today entitled, "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood", essentially arguing that there is a trend for undergraduate women at Yale and Harvard (and a couple of other stray Ivies) to be planning to downplay careers in favor of childrearing. Surveys of Yale alumni/ae indicate that they are already doing that, but suggests that the difference now is that current female students are coming to college with reduced career expectations, while students in the 1970s and 1980s had more optimistic expectations for their careers and gender equality.

It's hard to have a single take on the article. I prefer not to attack it as mere elite navel-gazing because, while this is obviously a very special subset of American women (as the article acknowledges), what students at elite schools are thinking can affect everyone. There is a fair bit of information in the article, including reports of surveys (though not necessarily representative surveys) and interviews with students. On the whole, I am inclined to think that there is some truth to the trend reported (though it is clearly far from universal).

There are some disturbing points, including the suggestion that admissions offices might go back to the view that women are "wasted seats" ("It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?" said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard), and including the uncritical acceptance by many students of so-called traditional gender roles. ("'I accept things how they are,' [one Yalie] said. 'I don't mind the status quo. I don't see why I have to go against it.'"; "What does concern me," said Peter Salovey, the dean of Yale College, "is that ... so few students seem to be able to imagine a life for themselves that isn't constructed along traditional gender roles.")

One the whole, though, I think the most important piece of the article is a quote from Cynthia Russett, a prominent Yale historian whose expertise includes the history of American women:
"At the height of the women's movement and shortly thereafter, women were much more firm in their expectation that they could somehow combine full-time work with child rearing," said Cynthia E. Russett, a professor of American history who has taught at Yale since 1967. "The women today are, in effect, turning realistic." (Emphasis added.)
That seems to me to be both the diagnosis of what's going on (which is what I think Russett intends) and the cause. The false dichotomy of "having it all" -- instead of asking how men and women should balance career and family we ask can women "have it all" -- is convincing at least some of the best and brightest, who (as Princeton's President Shirley Tilghman points out) will be in a position to be our future leaders, that career accomplishment is not realistic. The right, I'm sure, will jump on this to say, "Look, Lawrence Summers was right!" I think it says there's still a lot to do to change the discourse. Places like Yale are important to doing that, and I hope that Dean Salovey, who is right to be concerned, sees it that way.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Full (of) Schedule 

Feministing reports that Condoleezza Rice turned down a dinner with other female foreign ministers "citing a busy schedule". Almost reminds one of Bush's "scheduling conflict" last year when invited to speak to the NAACP....

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Contrarian Friday 

Jill at Feminste brings my attention to this stomach-turningly offensive column in the Daily Tarheel in support of racial profiling:
I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport....

When asked if she had a boyfriend, Ann Coulter once said that any time she had a need for physical intimacy, she would simply walk through an airport’s security checkpoint.

I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else.

The author, Jill Bandes, was promptly fired by the Opinion Editor, Chris Coletta, for "journalistic malpractice", but not because of the offensiveness of here column ("And not because I thought she was a racist or an idiot. She is, in fact, neither — and even if she were, I wouldn’t have fired her for those reasons.") Rather, she was fired because "she strung together quotes out of context[,...] took sources’ words out of context [and ...] misled those sources when she conducted interviews".

Call me unpersuaded. The alleged ethical breach was accurately quoting Arab students and a professor who expressed an acceptance of racial profiling (and who were undoubtedly mortfied to see their words in such an outrageous column). But I don't see how she "lied to her sources" by telling them "that she was writing an article about Arab-American relations in a post-9/11 world". That's pretty much what she did. Perhaps she could have said she was focusing on one aspect of "Arab-American relations", namely racial profiling, but the interviewees knew they they had addressed racial profiling, so they can hardly have been surprised that they were quoted on the subject. Even if it was somewhat sloppy to be vague about the subject of the article, I can't imagine Colatta calling her a liar or firing for that if the article hadn't been so offensive.

I also don't see how the quotes are taken out of context. (Colatta argues, "None of them support racial profiling. None of them want Arabs to get 'sexed up' as they go through the airport.") The article doesn't say otherwise. For example, one student is quoted accurately as saying, "I can accept it, even if I don’t like it. I don’t want to die." (Emphasis added.) It's pretty obvious from context that none of the interviewees is endorsing the outrageous things Bandes is saying -- those are clearly Bandes' opinion. It's an opinion piece labeled as such in the headline.

In short, she was fired precisely because she is a racist and/or an idiot.

Which raises the question of why Coletta thinks those would be inappropriate reasons for firing someone. Does he really mean to say that it's OK for opinion writers to be idiots? I doubt it. Racism is a trickier issue. Presumably, in most cases, we want to allow opinion writers to argue their opinions, even if they are offensive to some or even most people. I would hope that the University of Utah's daily wouldn't fire an opinion writer who argued in favor of choice (or even infanticide). If we think racism is different from other unpopular ideas (e.g., arguing in March 2003 that Bush should be impeached), we need to have a pretty good explanation of where we draw the line and why other unpopular speech can't be subjected to the same analysis.

At the same time, newspapers are gate-keepers. They have to make value judgments concerning the quality of their writing. Everyone may be entitled to an opinion, but not everyone is entitled to space on the editorial page. Presumably, Coletta's job is to choose authors whose writing is of a high quality. Bandes' piece seems to provide substantial evidence that the quality of her thinking is poor, and that its presence on the editorial page tarnishes the Daily Tarheel. It's offensiveness is a big part of that, but the offensiveness is inextricably intertwined with the poverty of reasoning and the insensitivity of the writing.

It is Coletta's job to evaluate the merit of opinion writers and their work. It is unfortunate that he has chosen to evade that responsiblity and relyinstead on a flimsy claim of ethical breaches.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Massachusetts: It's Over 

Massachusetts legislators have resoundingly rejected (157-39) a bill to prohibit same-sex marriage. As I understand Massachusetts procedures, that means that SSM will continue there until at least 2008. The AP reports that 6,100 same sex couples have married in Massachusetts, which would mean that as many as 1-in-200 of Massachusetts marriages are same sex.

The right's claim that SSM somehow threatens heterosexual marriage -- ridiculous on its face -- will become completely untenable by 2008, when Massachusetts is chugging along without plagues, locusts, pillars of salt, etc. Indeed, the bill's sponsor seemingly admits as much:
"Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry," said state Sen. Brian Lees, a Republican who had been a co-sponsor of the amendment.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

You Gotta Lotta Bawls, Barry Bonds Edition 

As Brayden eagerly anticipates the return of Barry Bonds, Chris Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus ($) gives some worthwhile perspective on the role of race in the persistent Bonds bashing that saturates media coverage of the Giants' star:
As for Bonds' involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, I won't disagree that there are doubts, nor would I suggest that there shouldn't be. But I guess when talk drifts over to how we celebrate records and how they're set, I cannot help but think how Rickey Henderson was treated for setting the stolen base record while not saying anything particularly offensive afterwards, or how his setting the runs record was effectively overlooked. I think back on the glum "celebration" that was perfunctorily executed in 1997 in memory of Jackie Robinson, a bit of badly manufactured schmaltz used as a crutch for an industry more concerned with finding a marketing hook to erase memories of '94 than anything else.

These things bring me to the conclusion that, however sad it may be to acknowledge, race still matters. I think it's fair to say that any coming celebration of Bonds had already been subverted by people far too ready to diminish his achievements....

If Bonds is guilty--if--then he joins a long list of tainted men in the game's pantheon. If he's guilty, he's a great player and a reflection of his time. And lest we make too much of contemporary wrongs relative to someone like, say, Cap Anson [who was central in segregating baseball], he would be merely guilty of a stupid little thing, the full measure of which we'll never know, and not something fundamentally evil (the full measure of which we'll also never know). But that's me: beyond a certain curiosity for trivia, I could care less about the record book. It is already a product of an injustice, from before your birth or mine.
Let us all enjoy Barry Bonds while he's still around -- as we may never again see a hitter who is anywhere close to him, even at 30, and far less at 40. For the next few weeks, this Yankees fan will be pulling for Bonds to get to 714 and lead a Giants comeback.

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Them's Fightin' Words 

OK, here's an admission. Since I was a child, penguins have always been my favorite animals.

So, I can't take it sitting down to hear (via Juan Non-Volokh) that fundamentalist Christians are adopting the wonderful March of the Penguins as a "really ideal example of monogamy" that supports "intelligent design" and opposition to abortion. ("This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ.' This is 'The 'Passion of the Penguins.'")

If you watched the movie, you would remember that Emperor Penguins are monogamous for one mating season (that's "ideal"?). You would also remember that they share parenting equally rather than buying into the right's notion that mothers have a divinely imposed special role as primary parent. You would remember that, while the adult penguins underwent long periods of starvation to keep their eggs alive, sometimes (if food was too long in coming) adult penguins give up on their eggs in order to save themselves. You would remember the downright socialistic way in which the Emperor Penguins share warmth. And, of course, you would remember how well suited the Emperor Penguins are to their environment. (And let's not go beyond the movie to remember gay penguins.) Of course, I don�t think any of that proves that liberals are right and conservatives are wrong -- but it does prove these people are not being honest about the movie.

So, look. Believe what you want to believe. Just don't bring my penguins into it.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Look Who's Falling in the TRAP 

Feministe reports on so-called "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers" ("TRAP") laws, which seek to so burden the provision of abortion services that they become, as a practical matter, impossible to provide. Lauren gives the example of aggressive civil-liability statutes:
An attempted example includes a “civil-liability” law that would have allowed any woman who regretted her abortion to sue the providing doctors any time within the ten years afterward, not only for any emotional or physical damages she may have faced, but also for “damages occasioned by the unborn child.” With no limits to the amount doctors could be ordered to pay, one big judgment in favor of a woman who regretted her abortion could drive an entire clinic out of business. In some cases they exempt abortion providers who perform less than some specified number or percentage of abortions in their practices, thus exempting private practices and faulting free clinics.
As I have reported here, here, here, and here, it is amazing how Republicans demonize "trial lawyers" when they are representing ordinary people injured by corporations or professionals, but are quick to turn to them as champions when something they actually care about is at stake.

What is sad, though, is that these kinds of laws are, apparently, getting substantial Democratic support. Lauren links to Our Word, which lists 54 House Democratic supporter of one of these laws, H.R. 748, the so-called Teen Endangerment Act or "Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act" (CIANA). Our Word is too polite to mention that all 54 of these Dems. are men (though it has pictures), but I'm not. With 43 out of 200 House Dems. being women, the odds of that happening by pure chance are (if I can trust Excel) 5.67 million to one. Just sayin'.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Throwing Stones ... May Lead to Stowing Thrones? 

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's wife is attacking Schroeder's election opponent, Angela Merkel, essentially for being a childless woman:
[Merkel] has had to fend off an attack from the chancellor's wife, Doris Schroeder-Koepf, 42, who said her career path had left her out of touch with the daily experience of most German women.

"Merkel's biography does not embody the experience of most women," Schroeder-Koepf, a former journalist, told Die Zeit. "They are concerned with how they can have a family and a job, whether they should stay home for a few years after the birth, or how they can best raise their children."
I suppose she thinks Germans should vote for Schroeder because his "biography" (Kopf, his fourth wife, is almost 20 years younger than he) does "embody the experience of most women"? Good luck with that.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mara Liasson 

I'm hardly a big fan of Mara Liasson, but aren't Atrios and Media Matters being a little tough on her for saying this?:
LIASSON: Yeah. Look, any time there's a contentious exchange in the White House press room, it makes the press look bad. However, the question he asked before that exchange was, "Does the president have confidence in [Federal Emergency Management Agency director] Michael Brown?" Now, that is a standard question that's asked. So the question itself was completely legitimate. And Scott McClellan refused to answer it.
They both pick on the first sentence as, I suppose, reflexively supporting the Administration over the press, but her whole statement seems pretty clear that she is siding with the reporter, not Scott McClellan. In context, the first sentence seems more like throat clearing, sort of an extended "with all due respect", leading into a comment that in substance says it was McClellan who looks bad.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gays and Katrina Response 

Mary sent me an email this afternoon that she had received an unconfirmed report that CNN had reported "that homosexual persons seeking assistance in locating Domestic Partners, and the acquisition of what limited resources are available for families, are being turned away by both local aid organizations and Federal relief". Neither the source of this email nor I were able to find confirmation of this report on cnn.com. However, there does seem to be some truth to the underlying claim. Happening-Here? has collected some of the relevant sources.

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The Buck Stops Anywhere -- And I Mean Anywhere -- But Here 

In threatening to veto the bill allowing same-sex marriage that just passed the California legislature, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have forgotten to check his talking points with the anti-SSM establishment:
The legislation could be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has expressed an acceptance of gay marriages but said it's an issue that should be decided by voters or the courts.

"He will uphold whatever the court decides," spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Tuesday after the state Assembly approved the same-sex marriage measure, 41-35. The Senate had approved it last week. (Emphasis added.)
I thought that it was bad when courts decided these things, and good when legislatures did.

At least, that's what Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas:
One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts--and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action.... (Emphasis added.)
And that's what the Heritage Foundation thinks:
First, the Massachusetts decision is an egregious example of activist judges making sweeping policy decisions with vast societal implications. Policymaking decisions of this kind are broadly political, not narrowly judicial, and should be made through the lawmaking process in a way that reflects settled public opinion, informed by long-established traditions and the principles of social order. (Emphasis in original.)
And the Family Research Council agrees:
Q: Surely the Framers never even thought about abortion, same-sex marriage or Ten Commandments displays when they drafted the Constitution. Wouldn't the Framers want us to adapt to our constantly changing society, and not be forever bound by an outdated 200-year-old document?

A: Yes, the Framers anticipated and provided for change. Very simply, the first way we adapt to changing times is obvious: we make new laws. We can also revise or revoke outdated laws to meet today's exigencies. We elect representatives who are accountable to us, and if they don't perform the way we ask them to, we remove them via the election process. Although judges should stay out of purely legislative issues, they don't. Even the Supreme Court can't resist revising statutes when it sees an opportunity.
The right has been screaming that same-sex marriage is an issue for the legislature -- until a legislature has gone ahead and voted to allow it. Remember that the next time you hear the argument that opposition to same-sex marriage is just about respecting the proper role of the people vs. the courts.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Role of Chief, Part II 

In comments to my last post, Ralph Hitchens suggests that I was "twisting [Roberts'] words" by omitting to mention Roberts' statement that he "also concluded that such bills were bad policy and should be opposed on policy grounds".

Mr. Hitchens raises a reasonable question about my post, although it does not ultimately alter my conclusion. In the original post, I didn't mention that comment because I read it to mean that Roberts had opposed those bills on the merits (i.e., based on what they did, not on the jurisdiction stripping), while the Reagan Administration had chosen to oppose them on constitutional grounds. Prompted by Mr. Hitchens comment, I re-read the 1985 memo and his interpretation of Mr. Roberts' comment (that he thought jurisdiction stripping was a bad idea even if constitutional) does seem plausible. Indeed, it is the better reading of the specific words at issue (since "such" would seem to refer in context to bills of the same kind, namely, jurisdiction stripping bills).

That said, I am still not convinced that was indeed Roberts' meaning and, if it was, that it makes a difference.

First, as to whether he thought jurisdiction stripping was "bad policy":
1. The same memo goes on to say: "There is much to be said for the virtues of stare decisis [precedent] in this area, and I think I would recommend that we adhere to the old misguided opinion [that jurisdiction stripping is unconstitutional] and let sleeping dogs (and apt reference, given my view of the opinion) lie." This is obviously a lukewarm endorsement of the idea of not revisiting the issue.

2. In 1982 (presumably the time referred to in his "bad policy" aside in 1985), he wrote marginal comments on a memorandum by Ted Olson concerning "policy and/or political arguments [that] might be made for and against" jurisdiction stripping legislation. He makes no comments on the first section, which lists arguments in favor of jurisdiction stripping. In contrast, his comments to the second section, which opposes jurisdiction stripping, include: (1) "NO!" and "?" (next to arguments that it would remove the possibility of modifying existing precedent); (2) various skeptical arguments next to the section that there are "sound political reasons to oppose these bills", including "?" next to the underlining and connecting of the words "abortion" and "Blackmun"; "40% Carter appointees" next to a reference to Reagan appointees, and "What about Lincoln?" next to an argument that the President would, like FDR, suffer political consequences for challenging the federal judiciary; and, famously, the statement that "real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not to kowtow to the Tribes, Lewises, and Brinks!" Those hardly seem like the comments of someone who thinks jurisdiction stripping is bad policy.
If there's other evidence out there supporting the view that Roberts opposed jurisdiction stripping on policy grounds, I'd be happy to hear it. But I'm not sure that it matter. As Chief Justice, he will be in a position not to make policy, but to interpret the Constitution. The fact that he not only disagreed with the Reagan Justice Department on this issue, but openly had contempt for the opposing view advanced by the likes of Ted Olson, leaves little question how he would rule should the issue come before the Court.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

The Role of Chief 

John Roberts' confirmation as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has seemed pretty close to a done deal, and his new appointment as Chief Justice of the United States may sail through equally smoothly.

At the same, Roberts' new appointment may pose an opportunity for the Democratic opposition to regroup and to reframe the opposition against Roberts. Say what you will about William Rehnquist -- and I've said a number of things that were unkind -- he was a strong defender of the judiciary as an institution and as a coequal branch of government. The same can hardly be said of Roberts, who was on the extreme fringe of the Reagan Administration (disagreeing with the likes of current Solicitor General Ted Olson) in arguing unsuccessfully for the administration's support for the constitutionality of proposed statutes to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear constitutional challenges to federal or state legislation and belittling Reagan Justice officials who disagreed as "sleeping dogs" (or liars, depending on how you read his memo) -- a clear end run around our 200-year traditional of giving the federal courts the final say over the constitutionality of legislation.

The Chief Justice is not merely one vote among nine. He is the senior judicial officer of the Nation, charged with the administration of the Court (and all the federal courts) as well as a number of other duties (such as presiding at an impeachment of the President). As such, the standards for approval should be very different. While the American people may have been content to go along with a conservative President appointing one more conservative vote, they may nonetheless be uncomfortable with a Chief who does not jealously guard the position of the judiciary as a guardian of our freedom and constitutional rights. Indeed, it was public suspicion of Congress overstepping the role of the judiciary that was at the heart of the broad public opposition -- even among conservative Republicans -- to Congressional meddling in the Terry Schiavo case.

Senate Democrats should confront Roberts about how his view of the role of the judiciary is out of step with Ted Olson, the Reagan Justice Department, and, most of all, the legacy of William Rehnquist.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

This Is Insane 

Reuters:
It said 2.5 million, or 56 percent, had ever taken medication for the disorder....

It said more 6-year-old boys were on medication for ADHD -- 4.3 percent -- than girls in any age group.

"The highest rates of drug treatment for ADHD by sex and age were reported among males aged 12 years (9.3 percent) and among females aged 11 years (3.7 percent)," the CDC said.

To be diagnosed with ADHD a child must have six or more symptoms for six months including frequent failure to pay attention in schoolwork or play, frequent mistakes due to inattention to schoolwork, frequent failure to listen when spoken to directly, failure to followup on chores and forgetfulness.
We are medicalizing being six years old.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

"Intended Audiences" 

In a post titled "Intended Audiences", Matt Yglesias seems to try to be a jackass just to prove that he can:
Reading Dana Stevens' take on Entourage for example, one is led to wonder why, really, we should care what a woman thinks about the show. If you've seen the program and understand the economics of HBO, it's pretty clear that she's not supposed to like it.
Viewed generously, I suppose Yglesias's point is that it's OK for shows to appeal to one sex and be boring to the other, just as it is OK for a show on MTV not to appeal to classical music lovers or whatever. The problem, though -- besides the condescending and obnoxious tone -- is that that's not what Stevens is talking about. To the contrary, she goes out of her way to make clear that she well understands the market appeal of the show, but not why thoughtful people seem to be praising it: "When I wrote that I was 'baffled' by the show's success, what I should have said is: I'm baffled by its critical success." So, let me offer the following:
Reading Matt Yglesias's take on Dana Stevens' review of Entourage for example, one is led to wonder why, really, we should care what a careless and belligerent reader thinks about the review. If you've seen the review and understand the economics of Slate, it's pretty clear that such a reader is not supposed to understand it.

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The Cup Is Half Full 

My first reaction was that Orin Kerr was quite right to mock Saudi overreaction to Israeli paper cups being used (once) in King Khaled National Guard Hospital (a Saudi military hospital).

But if you think about it, I have a hunch a lot of folks here wouldn't be too happy if products manufactured by a nearby country whose government we don't recognize started showing up at U.S. military facilities:


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This Is Just So Ridiculous 

Via Volokh, dozens of right wing blogs are delinking the preeminent right wing blog, InstaPundit, because he wrote that "demonizing the ACLU is a bit silly".

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