A pretty obvious statement to make in these times is that the U.S. electorate is polarized. Long understood that so-called hot button issues like reproductive rights weren't a topic that everyone would agree on, other policies have jumped on the bandwagon, so much so, that now I'm a little shocked it hasn't crumbled beneath the weight of it all: same-sex marriage, prayer in schools, how much government should be regulated, how big government should be, whether humans evolved from monkeys or were blinked into existence, and so on. [More]
It goes well beyond irony that anyone, after much hard-fought competition, would land an internship on DC's Capitol Hill only to wind up at the center of a sex-and-murder scandal. The Chandra Levy/Gary Condit relationship wound up stealing the majority of the national news cycle when the story broke in May 2001, supplanted as a headline only by the horror and tragedy of 9/11.
While I never thought I'd be declaring someone who doesn't like Bart Stupak anything but a friend, Randy Neugebauer's "baby killer" accusation this Monday on the House floor to Stupak earns him a raging douchebag award, which he gets to share with Senators Stupak and Nelson, and the Tea Party brigade.
Here's a reality check the next time someone wants to tell you about clean coal: They're still cleaning up the biggest fly ash spill in U.S. history that occurred in December 2008, which occurred at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant. A dam holding back tons of slurry burst in the middle of the night, dumping more than a billion gallons of coal ash slurry into Tennessee River tributaries. The sludge leveled entire communities with a four-foot-deep layer of coal ash slurry and killed off an unbelievable number of fish living in the rivers. The spill has been said to be one hundred times as large as the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.
CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) is wrapping up its 2010 conference in DC today. It's kind of like the Coachella festival of Conservative politicians. (So Mitt Romney's on stage 2 right now, but then at three we have to pick between Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft!)
But these riveting speakers aren't the only exciting draw this year. Nope--there are some fly honies at the conference, and The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson's conservative news site, has put this video together (equally poor in editing as in taste) documenting the earth-shattering revelation that there are women at CPAC who aren't named Ann Coulter or Michele Bachmann.
He basically goes up to women and proceeds to have a conversation like this: Daily Caller: What brings you to CPAC? Women: ...You mean besides the obvious fact that I'm interested in conservative activism?
On Saturday night the House of Representatives narrowly passed a health-care reform bill, changing the way Americans will access health insurance. Included in the bill was an amendment from Bart Stupak (D-MI), which "prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option." Women seeking insurance coverage for abortions must seek a plan outside the enrolled companies. Sixty-Four Democrats voted to include the amendment.
Today, over twenty organizations in eleven countries will hold "simultaneous events and public demonstrations on topics like protesting customary practices such as honor killings and FGM/C, overturning discriminatory and life threatening laws like stoning or lashing of women, and calling for LGBT rights, the right to sexuality education and the right to bodily and sexual integrity of all people." On the eve of the One Day, One Struggle campaign, I spoke to WWHR campaign coordinators Pinar Ilkkaracan and Irazca Geray, as well as Vizla Kumaresan from Malaysia's Women's Aid Organization (WAO), about the goals of the premiere advocacy event.
I spent most of this past spring and summer rolling my eyes every time I heard a news story about the swine flu. Almost every day local reporters got hysterical about 5 or 10 or 20 confirmed cases. Entire schools closed in response to a handful of kids with fevers, and as if there were no war in Afghanistan, no economic crisis, and no other epidemics claiming ten times as many lives, newscasters talked about H1N1 (the proper name for swine flu) for hours.
I have a degree in public health and my work focuses on preventing rape and other acts of violence and supporting survivors in healing from abuse. When I see all the attention swine flu is getting, I'm jealous. Other than intermittent news stories about sex offenders on the loose or why women who accuse professional athletes of rape are lying, sexual violence rarely gets any widespread coverage. Certainly no state of emergency declared by the President of the United States.
What would our media, our public discourse, and our institutional responses look like if people cared as much about rape as they do about H1N1?