Tag : politics

Most Americans still “aren’t ready” for a female president, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told syndicated columnist Cal Thomas in an interview earlier this week. ”I don’t think there is a lot of pent-up desire for a woman president,” she said.

The reaction to Bachmann’s latest comment is no surprise. “I found her remarks shocking and disappointing, especially since she took the initiative to run for president herself,” said Marianne Schnall, author of “What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?” ”Why would she do that if she felt this way?”

Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who lost his own bid for the presidency in 2008, told CNN’s Piers Morgan that former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton “would most likely” win if the election were held tomorrow.

“I just have a very different reading of the political scene,” McCain explained. He cited “the growth of women” in Congress, as well as the many female mayors and governors throughout the country. “We’re proud we’ve had women governors here in Arizona, two in a row.”

A Rasmussen Reports telephone poll in January found that “voters remain overwhelmingly willing to vote for a woman for president.” In fact, 77 percent believe a woman will be elected president within the next 10 years. Only 18 percent thought it unlikely.

“I would say that everybody I spoke with — Republicans and Democrats — thought we were indeed ready for a woman president,” Schnall said.  In doing the research for her book, she spoke with more than four dozen politicians, public officials, thought leaders, writers, artists and activists.

“Well, I think we are more ready for it than we think we are,” poet Maya Angelou told Schnall. “I mean, if anyone had asked you five years ago, ‘Do you think we’re ready for a black president?’ it’s very likely that the wagging of the head would have been, ‘No, no no — not yet.’ However, we’re readier than we thought we were. And I think that’s true about women.”

Bachmann addressed the election of the first African American to the office in her interview as well, saying: “I think there was a cachet about having an African American president because of guilt.” She did not elaborate, so Thomas surmised it was guilt over “slavery and the lengthy denial of civil rights to blacks.”

Yet several of those interviewed by Schnall for her book contradicted Bachmann’s analysis, believing instead that the country would elect a woman before an African American for president. “I would have been certain that we would see a woman president before we saw a black president,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof told Schnall.

“Well, I do think we’re ready and prepared (for a woman president),” former Republican senator Olympia J. Snowe said in Schnall’s book. “I think in looking back at history, you have to have more women running to even get to a place where the country is focused on a female candidate for president.”

Women have been elected to the House and Senate in record-breaking numbers (although far from parity), and several women have gained attention for their presidential campaigns. Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, cited Shirley Chisholm’s campaign in 1972, Pat Schroeder’s in 1988 and Elizabeth Dole’s in 2000.

Chisholm deserves credit for paving the way, said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). “She charted the course for a woman to be president, and I think because of her and because of the movement, the country is about ready.”

“The country is ready; the electoral ground is fertile,” agreed Brazile. “The country now is eager to see a woman run and compete successfully for the White House.”

Schnall said she believes “there is a huge groundswell of excitement and energy, of women and men, toward reaching this milestone.”

Men aren’t the problem in getting a woman elected, Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive of the Paley Center for Media, told Schnall. “I think men have been ready longer than women have been ready in a funny way,” she said. “There are enough men who have seen or experienced the leadership of women to believe that it is absolutely within our province and that women can do it just as well, if not better, than men.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a former House speaker, admitted to Schnall that she believed a woman would be in the Oval Office before the House would ever shatter “the marble ceiling,” as she called it, and elect a female speaker.

“The American people are very, very ready for a woman president,” Pelosi said. “They’re far ahead of the politicians.”

Does she have a point?

Diana Reese
Diana Reese is a journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

Wendy Davis is learning the perils of campaigning on her personal biography.

Since The Dallas Morning News raised questions this month about whether she had fudged some items in her biography, Ms. Davis has been under attack by her Republican opponent for governor, Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, and everyone from Bristol Palin to Rush Limbaugh for omitting the fact that her second husband helped pay for her Harvard Law School education and that her two children mostly stayed in Texas while she was there.

The controversy has turned her underdog campaign to become Texas’s first Democratic governor in 20 years into a hotbed of second-guessing over her omissions and has prompted a debate over culturally charged questions about a woman’s balance of work, ambition and parenthood.

In a state with a booming economy but simmering problems with its public schools and water infrastructure and with high rates of poverty and people without health insurance, one of the central questions hanging over the race is how long, exactly, Ms. Davis lived in a trailer in Fort Worth as a single mother.

Supporters of Ms. Davis and some analysts of gender issues in politics said the scrutiny of her choices as a working wife and mother was something no male candidate would be subject to. Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who once worked for Ms. Davis, pointed out that when Rahm Emanuel was running for mayor of Chicago, he left his family behind in Washington so his children could finish school.

“And nobody ever said a thing about it,” she said. “Think about the number of women who put their husbands through school, and the wife is a self-sacrificing role model.”

Alice Tripp, 67, a mother, grandmother and longtime gun lobbyist in Austin who is supporting Mr. Abbott, said the issue was about honesty, not gender.

“I’m a gun lobbyist, a job seldom thought of as being a woman’s job,” she said. “My criticism of Wendy Davis has nothing to do with her gender or her age or anything. If you’re going to run for politics, you have to understand you’re going to be fact-checked. And you best not wander and embellish your own story.”

For at least some of the fallout, Ms. Davis had herself to blame.

She has been traveling the state and the country since her 11-hour filibuster at the Texas Capitol last year to block abortion restrictions, largely campaigning on her narrative of rising from a 19-year-old single mother in a trailer to a Harvard Law School graduate and a state senator. But her campaign has essentially acknowledged that she misstated certain details and omitted certain facts in her biography.

For instance, she has said in interviews and in testimony in a redistricting lawsuit involving her State Senate district that she was divorced by the time she was 19 and lived as a single mother in a trailer. Her campaign has since clarified that while she separated at 19 and lived in the trailer with her daughter, she filed for divorce at 20 and the divorce became final when she was 21.

Nor had she focused on the role of her second husband, Jeff Davis, whom she divorced after a nearly 17-year marriage. He told The Dallas Morning News that she left him the day after the final payment was made on the loan for Harvard. She has denied the claim. The Dallas newspaper also said he had won custody of their two children. Her campaign said the couple had joint custody.

In a letter released Tuesday, Ms. Davis’s daughters, who were 2 and 8 when Ms. Davis entered Harvard, issued full-throated defenses of her, saying that she was always a presence in their lives, even when away at law school, and that they had initially gone to Boston with her.

Amber Davis, 31, called the criticism of her mother “ludicrous.”                   

Ms. Davis in 1993 with one of her daughters at her Harvard Law School graduation. Davis Family

The issue has produced a freewheeling debate on social media and cable television that sometimes followed familiar partisan lines and sometimes crossed them.

A blog post by Ms. Palin, a daughter of the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, whose teenage pregnancy became a social media moment of its own during the Republican convention, criticized Ms. Davis’s parenting history and compared Ms. Davis unfavorably to her mother.

“Gosh, children are sooo inconvenient, huh?” Ms. Palin wrote. “I’m glad my mother didn’t put motherhood on the shelf when she was elected to City Council, then became our mayor, then governor.”

In a speech on Tuesday, Ms. Davis, who is 50, said the controversy was a result of political attacks by Republicans.

“These false attacks say more about my opponent’s character than they do about me,” she said before a crowd of supporters at a dinner sponsored by the Travis County Democratic Party. She added: “For those who have mangled the story of my life, either carelessly or purposely, know this. I never gave up custody of my children, I never lost custody of my children, and to say otherwise is an absolute lie.”

Some Republicans agreed that the issue reflected a double standard for female candidates.

Kellyanne Conway, a Republican consultant and president of the polling company WomanTrend, said, “They never ask the male candidates, how do you have all the time to play golf and have a girlfriend?”

When Sarah Palin, then the governor of Alaska, was chosen as the Republican candidate for vice president, Ms. Conway said she remembered that commentators immediately began asking why she would accept the nomination with five children, including a baby with Down syndrome.

“If female voters conclude that a woman politician was a physically absent mother, they usually stop listening to the rest of your platform,” Ms. Conway said. “That’s a bridge too far. Your foremost responsibility is as a mother.”

Although gender roles have changed in the last few decades, with men shouldering more responsibility for raising children and women sharing more of the financial burden, traditional attitudes on parenting still hold sway for many voters, said W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

“On the one hand, people are embracing more flexible views of gender; they’re much more open to flexible working and family arrangements,” Mr. Wilcox said. “But at the same time, there is a more residual, traditional orientation that suggests that moms are the primary caretakers. And most married moms would prefer to work part time or in the home. In a way that might color their view of the situation.”

The impact the debate will have on her campaign is uncertain. But some say it is a reminder that for all the changes in gender roles in American life, much remains unchanged.

Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said that for male candidates, having a family was almost always an asset because it humanized them and served as a support system. But for women who are candidates, having a family can be a liability because, Ms. Carroll said, “the expectation is still that women are supposed to be the primary caregivers.”

Manny Fernandez reported from Houston, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.

Maria Conchita Alonso- a Latino actress - has resigned from a San Francisco stage production after the backlash she received from the local Latino community for showing support for a conservative candidate for California governor who’s against illegal immigration. Maria, who’s of Cuban and Venezuelan descent, appeared alongside GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County in his recent TV ad for governor.

Donnelly is a Tea Party favorite, reported KPIX-TV in San Francisco, adding that he’s against illegal immigration and was once with the Minutemen Project, which patrolled the border with Mexico to catch those coming across illegally.

Alonso, known for her role in “Moscow on the Hudson” with Robin Williams, was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues.” The show producer is Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX-TV in San Francisco, adding that Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday.

“Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission,” Lopez told KPIX. “Doing what she is doing is against what we believe.”

That seemed to be confirmed when Alonso heard from angry listeners of a San Francisco Spanish-language radio station Friday after she said in an interview with KIQI-AM that she supported many of Donnelly’s views on illegal immigration.

“I am among those who think that we should help illegal immigrants who are already in the country and who do not have a criminal background, who contribute and who are good people, but those who are not, we need to take out,” Alonso is quoted by La Opinion as saying in an email, according to Fox News Latino. “I spoke with Tim about this issue and he agrees with me.”

Several listeners didn’t like Alonso using the term “illegal” to describe undocumented immigrants during the interview or that she used vulgar language in the campaign ad.

“We don’t act like that. First of all, that is not a typical Latina,” Jim Salinas, a long time Mission resident and former president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, told KPIX.

Salinas added that there probably would have been boycotts if Alonso had stayed on the production.

“First Amendment rights, we all have the right to say something. But it’s also our right to say we object to that,” Salinas told KPIX.

While Leo Lacayo, a prominent San Francisco Latino Republican who’s been pushing his party to take a more moderate stance on immigration, said he believes Alonso is being treated unfairly.

“It was a political ad, it was a funny ad,” Lacayo told KPIX. “That anybody would lose employment over what their political leanings are is absurd.”

Women helping empower other women doesn’t just have social benefits, it also  can be powerful economically and politically, according to a group of female  leaders who took part in politico’s Women Rule event on Friday — and one of the  easiest way to do that is to invest in female entrepreneurs.

“The lowest hanging fruit to pick in some ways is if you really do want to do  this, you really have to invest in women entrepreneurs,” said Melanne Verveer,  Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security executive director and the  first U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. She was speaking at  the event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Verveer, who served under former Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton, said studies show that countries that have a smaller gap between men  and women on income and other factors perform better economically.

Verveer was part of one of the two panel discussions at the event, the Tory Burch Foundation and Google, which focused on how to empower  women to effect change and grow their businesses. Drawing from both personal  experience and data, the women described how making engaging women a priority  can have far-reaching results.

Tory Burch, fashion designer and CEO of the Tory Burch Foundation, told the  200 mostly women in attendance that she has seen the benefit of making hiring  and empowering women a focus of her own company.

“Women think differently,” Burch said. “I think there’s a different way of  management skills, there’s different ways of looking at business. For me, I  learned on the job. … So there were a lot of obstacles, and I think it was a bit  of blind faith and I didn’t want to talk about it, I wanted it to speak for  itself.”

Asked by moderator Judy Woodruff of PBS what Burch would say to people who  argue women don’t have the same drive as men, Burch was emphatic.

“I would say it’s not even worth responding to,” Burch said, pointing to her  own company’s growth as an example.

Verveer agreed, saying people who believe that should simply look at the  “reality today.”

“Women-owned businesses are outpacing men-owned businesses in terms of  creation and in terms of yield,” Verveer said.

Women are having an impact in politics, an earlier panel of women leaders  said, for example to steer the U.S. out of its government shutdown.

Asked by Mike Allen if the country would be in the shutdown if  there were more women in Congress, the panel said what’s more important is what  the women who are on the Hill are already doing.

“It’s a moot point, and what we’re seeing is that it’s the women in Congress  who are leading the end of the shutdown,” said Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder  and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, specifically pointing to Sen. Susan Collins  (R-Maine) as a leader working on a compromise solution to the standoff.

Former administrator for the Small Business Administration Karen Gordon Mills  said women are powerful not just because they can find common ground.

“I’m here today for lots of reasons, but one is I love the title Women Rule,  because women in power really does lead to, we think, more effective outcomes,”  Gordon Mills said. “I think it’s because women in power can really get together  and ask the question, ‘What is the outcome we’re trying to achieve?’ … You know  that there’s an objective out there that you’re trying to get to and that is  what moves the world forward and prevents logjams.”

In a conversation that focused on how to empower women to achieve their  goals, members of the panel endorsed getting involved in mentoring and investing  in female entrepreneurs.

Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank  Julie T. Katzman told a personal story about arriving to a job and asking if  there were any women on staff, only to be presented with a low-level employee.  She said when she encouraged the company to hire women, they saw immediate  results. She talked of disabusing Americans of the notion that women are on the  fringe of business.

“Women are not a niche,” Katzman said. “It’s 50 percent of the  population!”

The same principles used to get more women into business could also be  applied to getting more into politics, the panel said.

One of the takeaways for Goldman Sachs Foundation President Dina Habib Powell  from her work is that women in business start small, but then see their business  grow.

“The biggest takeaway for them is confidence, and suddenly, they’re becoming  political leaders now,” Habib Powell said.

Oberta Noguera said encouragement is key for women entering politics, as it  is for those getting involved in business.

“Apparently, it takes up to six times to ask for a women to run for office  before she will consider it, versus like not asking at all for guys,” Oberta  Noguera said.

Friday’s lunch was part of the Women Rule series, Google  and the Tory Burch Foundation that brings high-profile Washington women together  to discuss how women are leading change.

In between the panels, Women Rule ambassadors held roundtable discussions  with event participants. Women Rule ambassadors in attendance on Friday included  Trust for the National Mall President Caroline Cunningham, Senior Adviser to the  Nike Foundation Pamela Reeves, Voto Latino founder Maria Teresa Kumar, Glover  Park Group Managing Director Dee Dee Meyers, Planned Parenthood President Cecile  Richards, American Action Forum Cameron McCosh, Georgetown Cupcake founders  Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman, National Geographic photographer Jodi  Cobb, Bluemercury co-founder and CEO Marla Malcolm Beck, Tory Burch Foundation  Executive Director Terri McCullough, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Omidyar’s  Stacy Donohue, former Twitter official Mindy Finn and CNN executive producer  Michelle Jaconi.

The next Women Rule event will feature U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations  Samantha Power in November, followed by a December conference on leadership.  Additionally, Women Rule is running an online hub of essays.

via Politico

Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was sacked by her party just months before the next election and replaced by Kevin Rudd, the man she ousted three years ago, after losing a ballot of MPs by a margin of 45 to 57.

The horror was not so much her leaving, Sarah Dunant wrote in the BBC website magazine, but the way in which during her three-year term leading a minority government, and despite delivering economic growth in a world recession, she has been subjected to a campaign of clear misogynist abuse.

Faced with accusations of “deliberate barrenness”, that her father had died of shame because of her, that her partner was gay (because who else could bear to live with her), she had also watched opposition leaders take photo opportunities with protesters whose banners read “Bitch” and “Witch”.

And finally there was that “joke” entry in a fundraiser menu: “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail: small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box.”

The main source of ire towards Gillard appears to come from her decision not to have children.

“Anyone who has chosen to remain deliberately barren … they’ve got no idea about what life’s about,” said Senator Bill Hefferman in 2007.

Then last year, Mark Latham, the former Labour leader, said: “Having children is the great loving experience of any lifetime.

“And by definition you haven’t got as much love in your life if you make that particular choice.

“She’s on the public record saying she made a deliberate choice not to have children to further her parliamentary career,” he said, and claimed she lacked empathy, adding: “I’ve also had some experience where around small children she was wooden. And I think the two go together.”

Last year, Tony Abbott, Gillard’s opponent, again referred to her personal life when talking about a government plan to stop a payment to new parents: “I think if the government was more experienced in this area they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that.”

It was Abbott, of course, who was on the receiving end of Gillard’s powerful speech against misogyny last year, in which she ran through the sexist things he had said and done over the years, and which was described as a “defining moment” for feminism in Australia.

Gillard’s “misogyny” speech, as it has become known – a riveting piece of political rhetoric, delivered to the House of Representatives in 2012 – has been seen and appreciated by millions worldwide.

Her farewell speech was pretty impressive too.


Her successor in the Labour Party and as prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has announced the appointment of an unprecedented six new women to his 20-member cabinet and 11 women ministers out of the 30 on the front bench, up from 9 under Gillard.

Victoria senator Jacinta Collins enters the cabinet as minister for mental health, Catherine King will be minister for regional Australia and Julie Collins takes the portfolios of housing, homeless and the status of women.

They join finance minister Penny Wong, health minister Tanya Plibersek and families minister Jenny Macklin

But a women’s rights group has nonetheless accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of treachery – for his treatment of his predecessor.

The Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT) placed full-page advertisements in four Australian newspapers praising Gillard’s achievements and slamming both the Labour and the Liberal parties for their actions over the past three years.

Somebody had to.

The statement says Rudd orchestrated a treacherous “seek-and-destroy” mission against Gillard, while Tony Abbott made opportunistic appeals to people’s prejudices.

It also accuses seasoned reporters of becoming players in an aggressive campaign of sexist and chauvinistic abuse and says that the mainstream media ‘failed to engage in dispassionate reporting’.

And it concludes by saying that ‘the truly ugly aspect of our national life revealed by the past three years should give cause for us all to reflect on what else is required to restore and maintain respect, civility, common decency and a fair go for women – in our society and in our democratic politics.’

Via Women’s Views on News

- See more at: http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2013/07/australias-first-female-prime-minister-ousted/#sthash.7xUPfJAr.dpuf

Public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani tries to unite women to vote against  New York’s sleazy political candidates.

Women should run this town.

That’s the argument public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani is  making in an appeal to female voters that she’s launching Monday.

The campaign, called “Up to Us,” will encourage women to vote against four  men who have behaved badly — mayoral hopeful Anthony  Weiner, controller candidate Eliot  Spitzer and two Democrats running for City Council, Vito Lopez and Micah  Kellner.


Assemblyman Vito Lopez resigned from  the Assembly amid allegations he sexually harassed his staff.

All four have been embroiled in sex or sexual harassment scandals.

“There’s a distinct amount of outrage among women that I’ve felt and it is  palpable,” said Saujani, 37.

“We’re having a conversation about sex. This isn’t a fraternity party and it  shouldn’t be treated that way — and it is.”


Eliot Spitzer stepped down as  governor in 2008 for patronizing prostitutes.

She added, “I am not voting for Weiner or Spitzer and I wouldn’t vote for  Vito Lopez or Micah Kellner either.”

Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 for sexting a half-dozen women he met  online, and then had three more sexting relationships. Spitzer stepped down as  governor in 2008 for patronizing prostitutes. Lopez resigned from the Assembly  amid allegations he sexually harassed his staff, and Kellner made unwanted  advances on a young staffer.

“It shows this abuse of power and supporting them is sending a message that  that behavior is OK and it turns women off of politics,” said Saujani, who ran  unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and worked as a deputy public advocate under  Bill de Blasio. She has not endorsed anyone for mayor.


Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress  in 2011 for sexting a half-dozen women he met online, and then had three more  sexting relationships.

Saujani’s criticism of the scandal-plaged male pols does not extend to their  wives. “I have the utmost amount of respect for Huma [ABEDIN],” she said of  Weiner’s wife, who has stood by him.

Saujani’s social media campaign will encourage women to change their avatars  on Twitter to the “Up To Us” logo and spread the word. For example, participants  will be encouraged to Tweet, “I’m voting for more women to enter male-dominated  fields #UpToUs.”

Actress Sophia Bush, and the national Women’s Campaign Fund, are onboard,  Saujani said.


The campaign, called “Up to Us,” will  encourage women to vote against four men who have behaved badly.

Not all New York women were sold on her gender-based appeal.

“The women of New York respectfully disagree,” said Spitzer aide Lis Smith.  Pointing to a Quinnipiac University poll that showed Spitzer had a high  favorability rating among women, she added, “Eliot is winning women voters  because they know he will be an independent voice in the controller’s  office.”

Another woman candidate for public advocate, Letitia James, said, “Obviously  there are individuals running who have character flaws. But this is a  distraction from the real issues New Yorkers care about.” Another woman, Cathy  Guerriero, is also running for public advocate.

The only woman running for mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has  played the gender card in attacking Weiner.

She held a press conference 10 days ago featuring the president of the  National Organization for Women, who said, “Mr. Weiner does have a problem and  his behavior is sexist. Let’s be clear: It is not respectful of women.”

Silvio Berlusconi supporters stage ‘we are all whores’ protest over conviction.

Silvio Berlusconi’s supporters have mounted a provocative protest against his conviction for paying an underage prostitute for sex and abusing his office to cover it up, amid concerns the verdict could destabilise the fragile coalition government.

As the centre-right leader prepared to meet Italy’s prime minister, Enrico Letta, a number of his angry allies descended on a central square in Rome on Tuesday to hold a protest under the banner of siamo tutti puttane, which translates as “we are all whores”. In advance of the demonstration, the organiser Giuliano Ferrara, editor of right-wing newspaper Il Foglio, filmed a video of himself applying lipstick.

“Let’s protest against penal injustice, against hateful and hypocritical moralism, against political, media and judicial abuse,” his newspaper’s website exhorted.

The event ended to the strains of Ruby Tuesday, the Rolling Stones song, in honour of Karima el-Mahroug, the young Moroccan woman at the heart of the case whose stage name was Ruby Rubacuori (Ruby Heartstealer).

Francesca Pascale, Berlusconi’s 27-year-old girlfriend, made an appearance at the protest, telling reporters the sentence was “disgraceful, indecent” and she felt ashamed of her country’s “sick justice system”.

The sentencing of the ex-prime minister to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban on holding public office has been greeted with outrage by members of the centre-right Freedom People party, who back their 76-year-old leader in his claim that he is the victim of persecution by leftwing magistrates.

The sentence is suspended pending appeal, and Berlusconi is highly unlikely ever to go to jail.

Karima el-Mahroug and Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in prison for paying for underage sex with the former teenage nightclub dancer Karima el-Mahroug. Photograph: Reuters

Observers say Letta’s government, however, may feel its impact quickly, with the PdL portion of the coalition thought likely to make increasing demands on policies such as tax and judicial reform.

On Tuesday Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, chided bickering politicians and urged them to commit to continuity in government. “It hasn’t been two months since the formation of a government and already the daily talk is of next, imminent or fatal government crisis,” he said.

The political ramifications of the verdict look all but certain to rumble on. The Left Ecology Freedom party (SEL) called on Tuesday for the deputy foreign minister, Bruno Archi,, to resign following the inclusion of his name on a list of more than 30 defence witnesses the Milan judges said they thought should be investigated for suspected perjury during Berlusconi’s trial.

The names include several political figures close to Berlusconi, a police officer and a host of models, starlets and showgirls who testified in the trial that the then prime minister’s parties at Villa San Martino were good, clean fun.

It emerged during the trial that Berlusconi was making regular payments to several of the women, which his lawyers said were simply gifts to make up for the damaging impact of the trial on their careers.

If prosecutors decide there is evidence to suggest the judges’ suspicions are correct, yet another chapter in the “bunga bunga” saga could be opened. No decision is expected from them before September.

via Guardian

Did you notice that mixed-race person that walked passed you yesterday? During the split second as he walked by, was the person registered as black or white?

Alarming new research suggests the answer to that question may depend on your political ideology. In three experiments, “we found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to categorize a racially ambiguous person as black than white,” a research team led by New York University psychologist Amy Krosch writes in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Intriguingly, this dynamic disappeared when the study participants—white Americans—were told they were judging Canadian faces. The tendency for those on the right to more quickly categorize someone as “black” only occurred when they were evaluating their fellow countrymen. As the number of mixed-race Americans rapidly grows, the issue of how they are perceived is of more than academic interest. There is no shortage of evidence of continuing discrimination against blacks, such as a new report of racial bias in arrests for marijuana possession. Categorization comes with consequences.

Krosch and her colleagues describe three experiments. The first two featured 31 and 71 participants, respectively, all recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. They indicated their political ideology on a seven-point scale (extremely liberal to extremely conservative.) The participants in the first study were white; the second featured a smattering of non-whites, but no African Americans. All were asked to quickly label 110 male faces as black or white. The images were created by morphing two “parent” faces, one white and one black, and varying the degree to which each was represented. In both experiments, the point at which a face was equally likely to be labeled black or white occurred before the point the two faces actually converged. (In the second study, it occurred well before.) This suggests one does not need to have 50 percent African American features to be labeled black.

What’s more, this tendency was exacerbated by ideology. Specifically, “conservatism was associated with a lower threshold for categorizing racially ambiguous faces as black,” the researchers report.

The third experiment, featuring 62 participants (all white), was identical to the first two, except that half the faces were identified as “Canadian.” They were presented against a red background, while “Americans” were seen against a blue background. The results: “Political conservatism was associated with a lower threshold for categorizing racially ambiguous faces as black when it came to American, but not Canadian, faces.” Whatever impulse that led conservatives to think “black” was negated when they were told they were dealing with residents of a different country.

“There are several possible explanations” for these findings, the researchers write. “Conservatives exhibit stronger preferences for order, structure, and closure, and greater intolerance of ambiguity in comparison with liberals.” Thus they “might be more motivated to resolve racial ambiguity, and to resolve it in the most common or culturally accessible manner.”

Beyond that, Krosch and her colleagues suspect this reflects a phenomenon coined by New York University psychologist John Jost (a co-author of the paper): system justification theory. The term refers to the tendency, which is particularly pronounced among conservatives, to rationalize the sociopolitical system one inhabits as inherently fair and just.

In that context, these results “may reflect, among other things, the motivation to defend and uphold traditional racial divisions that are part of the historical legacy of the United States,” writes the research team, which also included Leslie Berntsen, David Amodio and Jay Van Bavel.

On the other hand, the researchers note, liberals and conservatives may simply focus their attention on different facial features, with those on the right more alert to any that deviate from the “norm” (European ancestry). “If so,” they write, “this would suggest that ideology may not only shape social judgments and behavior, but literally how people see the world around them.”

Tom Jacobs at Salon

On Fox News today, Erick Erickson told host Lou Dobbs that liberals were being “anti-science” by celebrating the fact that America’s working mothers are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households:

“I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We’re lost the ability to have complementary relationships … and it’s tearing us apart.”

Oh. My. God. Let’s treat this Ron Burgundy moment with some data.

First, there is something troubling about this statistic. The majority of female breadwinners are single moms, who face an extraordinary tension between working pay and raising children. But I didn’t hear Erickson mention the phrase “single moms.” He was talking about women earning more than men. And the fact that some married women are out-earning their husbands isn’t tragic. It’s inevitable. And it’s good.

Historically, the roles of a male and female in society have been clearly delineated. Up to the 1960s, mothers did the vast majority of housework and child-care and dads did the vast majority of paid work. But today, mostly due the rise of female education and labor participation, all three activities are much more evenly shared. In other words, contra Erickson, married couples are more “complementary” than ever.


 Here’s the thing about this chart. This isn’t a picture of the “unnatural” world that Erickson fears. This is the natural world! If anything, the unnatural world is the one where law deprives women of the right to vote until 1920 and where we discourage women from working alongside men or doing anything besides raising kids and cooking dinner.

The fact that dual-earner households introduce new challenges for couples is a social development — one The Atlantic debates all the time. It’s perfectly reasonable to point out that dividing chores and child-work between two equal partners is a different task — and possibly more challenging — than an arrangement where the husband works all day, comes home to a clean house, and plays with his kid for an hour. But these time-use questions have nothing to do with the contention that “science” shouldn’t allow women to “compete” with men in the workforce. Far from “tearing us apart,” it’s widely acknowledged that dual-earner households allow families to live more comfortably.

Women might be complementary in Erickson’s worldview, but they’re primary when it comes to economic growth. The increase in female labor force participation in the last half century has added nearly 2 percentage points per year to GDP growth in the U.S., according to one study. The nice thing about the rise of working women is that no matter how retrograde your opinion of them, they’re still making all of us richer.

My husband, Bruce, was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives until October 10th, 2000 when he died of pleural mesothelioma––a rare disease caused by asbestos exposure. He was exposed during his work as a laborer, a job he took so he could put himself through college. While many only know of asbestos cancers like mesothelioma from late-night television commercials, there are a growing number of people experiencing the real fate this deadly disease carries.


Mesothelioma is known as being a fast mover after diagnosis, taking most victims’ lives just four to eighteen months later. Asbestos victims rely on compensation from personal injury trusts through asbestos claims to cover their insurmountable medical expenses, but sadly many victims only receive a small percentage of what companies owe them. This places a huge burden on the victims and their families.

Recently, asbestos companies are using their political influence to push a new bill in Congress, led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is called the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.” In short, these companies want to use this bill as a means to delay medical payments, which results in most victims dying before they seek justice. The parties in support of this bill are hiding behind this notion of “transparency”, but the reality is this bill places burdensome reporting requirements on victims applying to the bankruptcy trusts. This requirement is not two-sided, however. The same companies who are to blame won’t have comparable requirements, creating a one-sided and unfair bill designed to debilitate those who have already been injured. Personally identifiable information such as the last four digits of social security numbers, private work history, and personal information of children exposed at an early age would become public, making victims vulnerable to identity theft and discrimination.

This is just the latest attempt by big companies and individuals like the Koch brothers to avoid responsibility for their heinous wrongdoings. Just last week the House Judiciary Committee began fast-tracking this bill. Even though the Committee promised to hold a public hearing to provide an opportunity for a patient and two widows to testify, they instead sent the bill to a full committee markup and vote without bothering to hear the victims’ side of the story.

The time is now for us to take a stand. I am a spokesperson for the Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign. The ACVRC is a national campaign dedicated to protecting the rights and privacy of asbestos victims and their families.  By joining our fight, you can help us defeat this unfair legislation and the potentially dangerous precedent it sets.

I work with the ACVRC to honor Bruce’s legacy as well as do what I can to help other patients and families protect their legal and constitutional rights. While awareness and information surrounding mesothelioma have improved considerably, we need to continue raising our voices. Starting with signing our petition, I encourage you to join our effort. With your help, we can put a stop to this legislation. Together, we can work towards building a better tomorrow and truly make a lasting difference.

Susan Vento of Cancer Victims Rights