Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Not So Silent Scream

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill that would make it a federal crime to transport a young girl across state borders to have an abortion (thus, bypassing parental consent laws). The Senator who proposed this bill said it would protect the health and safety of young girls! I guess young girls' bodies can handle pregnancy! And, pregnant young females who do not get proper pre-natal care, because they are keeping the pregnancy secret, are going to birth healthy babies?!? [BTW, there is little documentation that young girls ARE being transported over state lines for abortions; so is there even a NEED for this bill???] The House had passed a similar bill, and the resident of the White House eagerly awaits a conference version of the bill so that he might sign it (and add a signing statement??? I am VERY afraid of this signing statement. This is how W will win back his RR base).
WHY aren't the senators dealing with the more important issues--you know, the war in Iraq? Really trying to help the Mid East crisis by asking for an immediate ceasefire by Israel & the Hezbollah [ Condi is allowing more destruction (maybe so we can sell Israel more bombs???) ]. Or dealing with the lack of health care, or the fact that we have the highest rate of poverty ever--13% or 37 million people...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Women's Rights, Human Rights

A report on the United States' violation of Women's Rights delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva this month :

Veto : Unwanted cells trump living human beings!

The resident of the White House exercised his first veto today (instead of completely altering the law with a signing statement as he usually does). The bill which would have allowed stem cell research using some unwanted cells stored( and to be destroyed) at infertility clinics.
"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said about the veto. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect."

Support a clump of unwanted cells over real live people...who might be helped, who might with this research have a better quality of life. Oh yeah, this is the same guy who rushed (on the tax payer's dollar)from Texas to D.C. to save Terry Schiavo, but went to California during Katrina...what was I expecting?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

reality spin

Perhaps you all missed this since it was in today's (Saturday's NYT): Bush is treating the Supreme Court's ruling to his own reality spin. Stating that the court had tacitly approved his use of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Unfortuantely, that was NOT the question before the Supreme Court; the case before the court was (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) that military commissions were unauthorized by statute and violated international law. Housing detainees at Guantánamo Bay was not at issue.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Supreme Court Got It!

In a 8-0 (Alito was not part of the decision) decision handed down on June 22, The Supreme Court "got" what sexual discrimination is in the workplace. [Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. WhiteNo. 05-259]

The Facts:White took a job as forklift operator with the railroad. On her first day her foreman told her in from of the whole crew that when she had her period, he should know and he'd give her lighter duty. She ignored this, but ultimately complained. The foreman was sent to sexual harassment training. SHE was re-assigned duty that she was not trained for, that was more dangerous, etc. Then she was suspended without pay for 37 days for insubordination. (She grieved this action, and was re-instated with back pay). She sued the company under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which prohibits both discrimination in employment and retaliation for complaining) and, after a jury trial, she won.
Burlington Northern appealed the verdict on grounds that neither White's transfer nor her suspension was harmful enough to qualify as unlawful retaliation under Title VII. This argument was rejected by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. So, Burlington Northern then petitioned the Supreme Court arguing that courts should not interfere with employers' ability to change workers' job assignments or to suspend them without pay pending disciplinary proceedings, even if those things were done in retaliation. (Can we say bully?)
The court accepted the case to resolve the "split" --the differing standards used to determine the level of harm necessary to constitute "retaliation" under Title VII. The differing levels ranged from "ultimate employment action" bar (firing, demotion or decisions with "tangible economic consequences") to that the action be "materially adverse," to the action would be "likely to deter" complaints of discrimination.

The Supreme Court found in White's favor: ruling that retaliation can be any action likely to dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination.

To read Justice Breyer's full opinion go to

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Gendered "Courtesy Titles "

The New York Times still uses courtesy titles in articles, as do most of us when in polite or official company. Mr. X, Mrs. Y. Miss Z, Ms. U. The "Mr." does not denote marital fact, while most of do not use the term "master" for yioung boys, boys move from being Master X, to being Mr. X at age 13. Young girls remain "Miss" passed the age of 13 when most have entered womanhood, by starting their menses. Women do not move from Miss until they marry or chose to adopt Ms. (of course, honorifics "Dr." "Prof" "Rev." Justice
Secretary, etc. denote titles and stature that have been attained--the NYT btw does not use these titles in most cases).
So what is the purpose of these courtesy titles ? They denote availability to (other) men--whether or not they own a husband.
I tell my students that they may address me as Dr. JAM or Dr. Myers, or Professor. Whether or not I own a husband :) is totally irrelevant to my professional ability to facilitate learning about political science.
Thus, the recent piece in the NYT Week in Review (7/02/06)[]
regarding whether female senators and such use courtesy titles to identify themselves galls me. These elected women should use their honorific--they earned them.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day

It is the eve of the day Americans celebrate the birth of their country, this experiment in modern liberal democracy. But as "bombs burst in air" aka fireworks light up the night sky, we need to pause and reflect on what it is we are celebrating: a representational democracy that believes in equality, justice, liberty.
We may need to reflect also on if the current administration, leaders and policies truly reflect a government that represents its people, and strives for equality, justice and liberty.
Take the time to re-read the Declaration of Independence, The Preamble to the constitution , and the Bill of Rights.
Do we practice what we preach?

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