Friday, March 31, 2006

The Britney Spears Statute 

I have nothing to say about the Britney Spears statue, but apparently, if you want to know about the "britney spears statute", Yahoo! says Stone Court is the (#6) place to go....

UPDATE: And #2 if you want the Britney statute to be pregnant.

UPDATE 2: As of right now, we're #1 on Google.


Thursday, March 30, 2006


It's been a bad week for Duke. The apparent gang rape of two women by the Duke Lacrosse Team has been well covered elsewhere. And today it was announced that they spent $2.4 million proving that having strangers pray for you won't cure your heart disease.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Supreme Court Recognizes that Spouses are Separate People 

The Supreme Court has decided that police can't search a house without a warrant if one resident invites them in and the other wants to keep them out (see story). Roberts, in his dissent, tried to argue that this was a bad thing because it might "hamper investigations of domestic abuse."

Hmmmm, John Roberts as Mr. Concerned-about-victims-of-abuse? I'm not buying it. I think he doesn't like the idea of a precedent that says that spouses are separate individuals (not one legal entity) and that each has rights that can't be subsumed under the marriage or under their co-residential status.

In his argument, Justice Stevens said,
assuming that both spouses are competent, neither one is a master possessing the power to override the other's constitutional right to deny entry to their castle.
Neither one is the master? Not even the one with the penis? Ooohh, that must have Roberts' and Thomas' and Scalia's knickers in twists (Alito's would be too, but he wasn't on the court when this was argued, so he didn't rule on it).

But lest Roberts' crocodile tears over domestic abuse victims concern you, be comforted by David Souter:
''This case has no bearing on the capacity of the police to protect domestic victims,'' Souter wrote. ''No question has been raised, or reasonably could be, about the authority of the police to enter a dwelling to protect a resident from domestic violence; so long as they have good reason to believe such a threat exists.''


Friday, March 17, 2006

What's Wrong with this Story? 

The Times has this story up:
A federal appeals court today overturned the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to exempt power plants, refineries and other pollution sources from Clean Air Act rules that require them to install costly new pollution controls whenever they make changes that increase their emissions.
In a normal world, wouldn't the EPA be the ones trying to enforce the Clean Air Act, instead of the ones trying to get around it?


Because Only Single Women Have Sex 

From zuzu at Feministe, more detail on one of the nutcases behind the Missouri bill, who said:
“If you hand out contraception to single women, we’re saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that,” [Rep. Susan]Phillips, R-Kansas City, said in an interview.
Um, because, of course, there are no married women who use contraception and need to get it at the clinic? Because, of course, married women are never poor, right?

And even if there were poor married women, they wouldn't need contraception any more than rich married women, who we know all have babies continually starting within a year of the wedding and continuing until menopause--what, you haven't noticed all the upper-middle-class Republican families who have 8 to 15 children?*

Of course I'm horrified by the assumptions behind this with regard to single women as well, but better bloggers than I have that angle covered. But I find it astonishing that someone like Representative Phillips is assuming that birth control is only for the single.

(As a final aside, what's with this woman's misplaced modifiers? "We're saying promiscuity is okay as a state"? What the hell is that supposed to mean?)

* Regardless of what Phillip Longman says, I don't see a whole lot of evidence for high Republican TFRs (Total Fertility Rates) outside of the evangelical fringe... And even there, people have circa 4 or possibly 5 kids, not circa 11, which demographers usually estimate, based on evidence from the Hutterites, to be the approximate number for "natural" fertility in the absence of control (although see also this piece arguing that a better estimate of human fertility without any control is 15). So I'm thinking even the conservative married people are limiting their fertility somehow...


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Republicans Trying to Ban Birth Control 

Atrios links to this post by Fired Up Missouri, reporting that Missouri House Republicans voted to ban the use of state funds for any family planning services in county health clinics.

Mind you, I still expect them to blame poor women (um, the kind who are most likely to need to use county health clinics) for having children they can't afford. Their answer, no doubt, is that they shouldn't have sex if they can't afford to "the consequences."

At some level, I think it drives them apeshit that there's this one source of pleasure in life--sex--that's free. Just as with the medieval sumptuary laws, they want to limit pleasure to their own kind. You peasants, you can't wear velvet or the color purple, you can't hunt grouse (we don't care if you're starving, we have to preserve them for our sport), and you certainly can't go around boinking each other. Mind you, what they're probably afraid of at some level is that the peasants are having better sex than they are.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Network of One 

Via Feministing, "A pro-choice Wisconsin group, Basic-Abortion-Rights Network of Waukesha, has filed paperwork that would put South Dakota’s sweeping abortion ban on the November ballot." Planned Parenthood is reportedly skeptical, which makes sense given that (a) a judicial strategy may make more sense; and (b) if a referendum strategy makes sense, there is no reason to muddy the waters by having the referendum sponsored by an outside group (Tom Daschle would likely have held onto his seat but for the flap about reporting D.C. as his primary residence).

But before quibbling about strategy, I'd like to know who is the Basic-Abortion-Rights Network ("BARN") of Waukesha? Google searches of "Basic-Abortion-Rights Network" and "Basic Abortion Rights Network" (with quote marks) yield zero hits. It does not appear on a search of Wisconsin corporations. An Alternet commenter from a reproductive rights organization has never heard of BARN. It has a goofy acronym. Its representative, Noah Beck Hahn-Walter, also comes up empty on a Google search.

Best case, BARN is Noah Beck Hahn-Walter, a pro-choice activist in a log cabin somewhere in Wisconsin. Just as likely, BARN is (a) a childish hoax; (b) a nefarious hoax; or (c) a childish and nefarious hoax.


It Just Ain't So. 

Hooray for Claudia Goldin & introducing some actual data into the educated-women-opting-out debate.
But the facts speak loudly and clearly against such suppositions. Women who graduated 25 years ago from the nation's top colleges did not "opt out" in large numbers, and today's graduates aren't likely to do so either...

Among these women fully 58 percent were never out of the job market for more than six months total in the 15 or so years that followed college or more advanced schooling. On average, the women in the survey spent a total of just 1.6 years out of the labor force, or 11 percent of their potential working years. Just 7 percent spent more than half of their available time away from employment.

These women were, moreover, committed not just to their careers. They were also wives and mothers — 87 percent of the sample had been married, 79 percent were still married 15 years after graduation and 69 percent had at least one child (statistics that are similar to national ones for this demographic group from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey). Women with at least one child spent a total of 2.1 years on average out of the labor force, or 14 percent of their potential time. Fifty percent of those with children never had a non-employment (non-educational) spell lasting more than 6 months....

These are the opt-out facts. So why is there so much focus on women leaving the work force instead? My friend Ellen, a Ph.D. economist with two young children who teaches in a top-ranked medical school, recently noted with frustration that many people have difficulty believing that "women can actually contribute professionally and participate meaningfully in the raising of a family." But the truth is that a greater fraction of college women today are mixing family life and career than ever before. Denying that fact is ignoring the facts.

Read it and weep, Lisa Belkin.


Hold the Phone, Part II 

More evidence that Feingold's censure resolution is about Hillary Clinton (who reportedly went all Cheney on Feingold over campaign finance reform) more than about George Bush:
I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues. … [Democrats shouldn’t] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists. (Emphasis added.)
On Fox, no less.

And while we're checking for consistency with the Clinton impeachment, let's also remember that Feingold was the only Democrat to vote against summarily dismissing the charges. Not even Lieberman did that. He did ultimately vote to acquit, but explained, "the Presidential conduct in this case, in my view, does come perilously close to justifying that extreme remedy". If he believed that, he cannot plausibly believe that Bush's conduct doesn't justify impeachment -- in which case he should be working to build a consensus supporting impeachment, not hawking a do-nothing, go-nowhere censure resolution.

Related Post: Hold the Phone


Hold the Phone 

I'm not calling my Senators to urge them to support Russ Feingold's censure resolution.

The Constitution provides one means of punishing a President -- impeachment.* Impeachment is partially about the legal question of whether the President has committed a "high crime or misdemeanor". Repeatedly authorizing a massive covert illegal spying program easily qualifies. But is also about the political question of whether he should be removed from office. No one wants that, there being this little problem that it would make Dick Cheney President.

Censure, then, is nothing more than a statement that the Senate thinks the President did something wrong, and that it's not going to do anything about it. What is the point of that? If anything, it emphasizes that the President can as a practical matter do whatever he wants. I guess it encourages public debate as to whether the President did something wrong (or attention to the fact that he did something wrong). That's a good thing, to a point. However, it's not clear why it does that more than demanding investigation, legislation, etc. In particular, as the minority party, the Dems. are going to have little or no say in the agenda, so they need to either find an approach that picks off a few Republicans (censure surely won't) or, at a minimum, that is part of a coordinated strategy that makes the twin points that the spying is illegal and that it is not necessary for national security.

Unfortunately, Feingold's resolution seems to be the opposite of a coordinated media strategy. According to Raw Story, Senate Dems had little or no prior warning that it was coming. If true, that is a devastating indictment of Feingold's strategy. Even if untrue, it is indisputable that the resolution was not part of any coordinated Democratic message.

Feingold's resolution, in my view, is nothing more than posturing for 2008. Its target is less George Bush than it is Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Consider me unimpressed.

UPDATE: Liberal Oasis takes the diametrically opposite view, relying heavily on the fact that about half of the current Democratic Senators supported censure for Bill Clinton in 1998. This argument misses the mark. The entire point of the censure resolution was to say that, while what Clinton did might have been wrong, Clinton's wrong was not bad enough to justify punishment. That is, I think, the exact opposite of what Feingold is doing. Feingold is not saying "censure and move on" -- or at least I hope that's not what he's saying. Feingold is saying censure is too little, but the Senate Dems are so hopeless that our only hope of even this empty resolution is to embarrass them publicly and hope the press and public follow along. I don't buy it.

*Yes, I know Andrew Jackson was censured, but Constitutional scholars are still debating the constitutionality of censure. My view is that censure is constitutional, but only so long as it has no penalties attached.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging 

Why don't you get yourself some tea and cookies too and join me?


Thursday, March 09, 2006

You Gotta Lotta Bawls, Shriveled Ones, That Is Edition 

Seduced by the majestic beauty of his accomplishments, I have in the past been a defender of Barry Bonds.

But the forthcoming Game of Shadows, excerpted in depth at Sports Illustrated, paints an extraordinary, and depressing, picture of Bonds's criminality. Beyond the widely supsected fact that Bonds violated the law by taking performance-enhancing drugs, and beyond the merely despicable conduct chronicled in the book (e.g., "In 1996, he decided [his longtime girlfriend] should have breast augmentation surgery, and a check arrived from the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds's agent, to pay for it."; hiding trysts with, and payments to, his girlfriend from his wife; buying drugs indirectly from AIDS victims willing to trade medically-necessary drugs for cash), the lengthy excerpt lists a shockingly wide variety of crimes committed by Barry Bonds:
* Violent assault and battery against his then-girlfriend.

* Multiple death threats directed toward his girlfriend.

* Tax evasion by failing to report cash income from memorabilia sales. (This is what landed Pete Rose in jail.)

* Perjury to a federal grand jury concerning his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

* Large scale cash gifts to his girlfriend that I suspect Bonds did not file gift tax returns for.
I'd like to be self-righteously angry, but mostly I'm just sad.

Related Post: You Gotta Lotta Bawls, Barry Bonds Edition


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Happy Marriages and Egalitarianism: The Actual Research 

I've been as annoyed as many, many others by Tierney's (sorry, behind the wall) spin on the Wilcox and Nock study, as well as by the Slate article reporting on that and related research, but I'm also in full agreement with Elizabeth that in this case, it's really worth reading the original journal article that's causing all the hubbub, because what it says is different in important ways from how it's getting spun. Just as a teaser, here's the abstract to the article:
The companionate theory of marriage suggests that egalitarianism in practice and belief leads to higher marital quality for wives and higher levels of positive emotion work on the part of husbands. Our analysis of women’s marital quality and men’s marital emotion work provides little evidence in support of this theory. Rather, in examining women’s marital quality and men’s emotional investments in marriage, we find that dyadic commitment to institutional ideals about marriage and women’s contentment with the division of household tasks are more critical. We also show that men’s marital emotion work is a very important determinant of women’s marital quality.We conclude by noting that “her” marriage is happiest when it combines elements of the new and old: that is, gender equity and normative commitment to the institution of marriage.
I'd first like to note that the first part of their major conclusions--gender equity making women happier with their marriages--is not exactly what's getting play in the media coverage on this article. More on this in a later post, perhaps.

Next, I was curious about what they meant by a "normative commitment to the institution of marriage." Here's the description of how they measured that:
To test the component of the institutional model, focusing on shared normative commitments to marriage, we created two scales of marital commitment based on the respondent’s agreement (from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree”) with the following five items, which emphasize that marriage is the ideal site for sexual activity and childrearing, and the importance of marital fidelity: “It is all right for an unmarried couple to live together even if they have no interest in marriage;” “It is all right for unmarried 18 year olds to have sexual relations if they have strong affection for each other;” “It is all right for a couple with an unhappy marriage to get a divorce when their youngest child is under age 5;” “When a marriage is troubled and unhappy, it is generally better for the children if the couple stays together;” and, “Marriage is a lifetime relationship and should never be ended except under extreme circumstances.” Where necessary, items were reverse coded so that higher scores reflected greater normative commitment to marriage. The five-item scale for men had a Cronbach’s alpha of .654 and the five-item scale for women had a Cronbach’s alpha of .659.

Respondents who scored in the top quartile of this scale were coded as having a high level of commitment to the institution of marriage. Respondents were then split into four groups: couples who shared a high level of commitment to the institution of marriage, only the husband was highly committed to marriage, only the wife was highly committed to marriage, or neither spouse was highly committed to marriage (the comparison category).
I'm still pondering what I think about those questions being put in a single scale (the alphas are acceptable but not all that high) and how I would interpret that scale if I were using it. But I guess it doesn't seem all that shocking to find that when both members of a married couple have strong pro-marriage beliefs, women (and quite possibly men as well?) are happier with their marriages.

But it's also important to note that the results discussed most prominently (and highlighted in the title of) the Slate piece are NOT from this published, peer-reviewed article. O'Rourke claims they're from "an analysis that has been provided exclusively to Slate," making it sound all mysterious and extra-special super-duper-top-secret-I've-got-the-real-dope-on-how-feminism-makes-women-miserable. First of all, there's nothing exclusive to Slate (or exclusive at all) about this analysis. Indeed, if you go to the University of Virginia website promoting the Wilcox & Nock study, there's a link to this analysis (click on the "here" at the end of the paragraph that begins, "A related unpublished study by Wilcox..."). Note that when you get to that "related unpublished study", which is titled a working paper, what you actually get is about 5 paragraphs by Brad and one table. The table reports results of an analysis using a subsample of "progressive-minded" women as in the Slate "exclusive". (Although actually, now that I look at it more carefully, that table reports a sample size of 2,418, which is much too big to be just the top 15% most-progressive women in the data they used, the NSFH 92-94... So maybe Brad did do an "exclusive" analysis for Slate... but it probably looked an awful lot like this Working Paper #2).

My guess--and this is total speculation--is that this was a piece of the other research that didn't make it into the final, published article (perhaps because the peer reviewers were unconvinced?), but that Wilcox is committed to it (hey, we all fall in love with our research sometimes) and can't bear for it not to be part of the public story that gets told, so he's pushing it in conversations with reporters (or in giving stuff to the UVA publicity office)...

Update: Here's Brad on Family Scholars Blog discussing the study and the reaction to the study and excerpting from an interview on it that he did with the National Review Online. He appears to be trying to emphasize the marital-commitment-equals-happiness part of the study, while his interviewer wants him to slam feminism.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Not OK 

Feministing reports that NARAL's former President, Kate Michelman, is considering an independent run for Senate in Pennsylvania.

I was pleased last month when Michelman distanced herself from current NARAL leadership and announced her support for Democrat Matt Brown over nominally pro-choice Republican Lincoln Chafee.

But splitting the left and left-center vote in Pennsylvania is nothing but a ticket to getting Rick Santorum, the Senate's most vulnerable Republican (and one of its most pernicious), re-elected. If Michelman wants to run for Senate and challenge Casey's anti-choice position, she should run in the Democratic primary. If it's too late for that, she should lay the groundwork now for running for Specter's seat in 2010.

But helping re-elect the hateful Rick Santorum -- not OK, not OK at all.

UPDATE: As of 3:25 EST, Pennsylvania is the only Senate race as to which the Dems are losing ground today on Intrade.


Parental Notification and/or Consent 

This article from today's Times on the effects (or actually, lack thereof) of parental notification and consent laws is interesting. Given the assumption by the anti-choice crowd that these laws are such a great way to reduce abortion rates, what seemed particularly interesting were the quotes from clinic workers who said that in their experience, it was often the case that parents were the ones pushing their daughters to have abortions. Hmmm... Seems as if maybe middle-class parents don't want their daughters' education interrupted (or their own class status +/or reputation threatened) by an untimely pregnancy... I wonder what the anti-choice types will do with this information? It would be hard for them to claim that teenagers know what's best for them when they don't want an abortion but not when they do, or that parents know what's best for their daughters when the parents won't allow one but not when they're pushing for one.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Call Me Soft On Crime... 

... but shackling female prisoners during labor seems like a bad idea.


Unintended Pregnancy Linked to State Funding Cuts 

I predicted this, but I take no pleasure in being right.

Update: Apologies for the broken link earlier--I think I've fixed it now.


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