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And Now from the Department of Y’all Should Really Just STFU

10:19 am in Politics by dakine01

Caricature of Todd Akin

Caricature of Todd Akin

During this year’s silly season aka the stretch drive to the November elections, I have been watching the self immolation of various Republican campaigns around the country with a bit of fascination. The topic of rape and incest as exceptions allowing a woman to have an abortion has caused great consternation amongst the chattering classes. From Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s “pregnancy from rape something God intended” (a variant on Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s rape is just another “method of conception“) to Oregon Washington US House candidate John Koster’s “the rape thing” to Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard’s “some girls rape easy,” the topic of rape and abortion has been making headlines across the nation. But as Mr. Pierce notes, these sentiments are not the exception but:

…close to the mainstream of Republican thinking on the subject of abortion, which it is. (It is precisely the position maintained in the Republican platform, which did away with the exception for rape and incest with much fanfare down in Tampa.)

And of course, we also have Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon chiming in to continue the “short ride” tradition first offered us by Senator Joe Lieberman as supporters of amendments allowing hospitals to refuse to provide emergency contraception for rape victims.

Rape, to me, is one of the three most heinous crimes going, along with Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse. These crimes often go unreported, in many instances because the victim is not believed and is made to feel victimized repeatedly after reporting the crime. I loved my father deeply but I remember him telling me that he had served on a rape trial jury one time probably 30 plus years ago and they found the defendant not guilty because “she was asking for it” and that response always has bothered me.

I am a late middle-aged white male and the odds are pretty good that I will not be raped in this lifetime. But as the NY Times reported back in December:

Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

With that information, I can confidently say that I would wager that more than a few of my female relatives, friends, and acquaintances have been raped or assaulted. I don’t know who or how many nor do I want to know as that pretty much fits the definition of a “Nunya.” And this is why I decided I needed to speak out about these idiot statements about rape. As heinous as rape is, the main point to remember about all of these statements is the desire to limit a woman’s freedom of choice, freedom to terminate a pregnancy or not. At this point, rape is a symptom, not the underlying problem. The underlying problem is the on-going, seemingly never ending desire for a bunch of old men to control what women do with their bodies. By even discussing “exceptions” that would “allow” an abortion, we lose sight of the primary issue and that is:

no one should be allowed to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body.

As I noted above, I am a late middle-aged white male. I’m even less likely to become pregnant in this lifetime than I am to be raped. I have no authority or need to tell a woman what she should do. If a woman is raped, becomes pregnant, and decides to carry the baby to term, BRAVA! That is what choice is all about. It is her choice and her choice only. Just as terminating any pregnancy or having a child is the woman’s choice and the woman’s choice alone.

Such a simple concept yet so very difficult for so many to understand.

Update: Fixed state for John Koster. H/t Teddy Partridge

And because I can:

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Where has the Federal Reserve been?

2:19 pm in Economy, Government, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

As many folks know, I spend a bit of time each day perusing various news sites. My postings have been light the past few weeks and months as I’ve been working through issues after my sister’s death. More recently in the last week I’ve gotten a small piece of good news in my personal life (and not saying anything further as I try to nurture this news and make it grow – but it’s not a job) as well as further bad news for my extended family, so the roller coaster ride does continue.

But then I go and see a headline like this at NBCNews.com:

Fed ready to help economy ‘fairly soon,’ minutes show

Turns out, the article was from Reuters though their headline wasn’t much better:

Fed looks set to ease fairly soon barring swift rebound

Earth to Fed! Earth to Fed! Where in the holy hell have you been for these past few years?

(Reuters) – The Federal Reserve is likely to deliver another round of monetary stimulus “fairly soon” unless the economy improves considerably, minutes released on Wednesday from the U.S. central bank’s August meeting suggested.

While the meeting was held before a recent improvement in economic data, including a stronger-than-expected July reading for U.S. employment, policymakers were pretty categorical about their dissatisfaction with the current outlook.

…snip…

The Fed held policy steady at that gathering, but signaled a renewed readiness to act amid lingering softness in the economy. The minutes showed the central bank is actively considering a “flexible” bond-buying program, which could suggest that no upfront amount will be announced.

Let’s see. The “official” time frame for the Great Recession had a start in December 2007 and ended officially in June 2009. Last June I wrote a blog post where I predicted a double-dip recession. Officially, I was mistaken as the economy has managed to maintain just enough headway to avoid the term “recession.” But also last summer, I wrote a blog post asking Mr Bernanke just where the hell he has been these past few years. I and all the other people in long term un and underemployed situations have the same concerns. We want jobs. The Fed still has a “Mission Statement” that begins with direction for “…pursuit of maximum employment…” So we sit here with the official unemployment rate at 8.3% and the rate of un and underemployeds at 15%. These number still translate to nearly 13 million unemployed and another 10 to 15 million underemployed. And again, these numbers do NOT include new college grads trying to find their first full time jobs in their chosen fields. The numbers do NOT include all the millions who have been forced to become “self-employed, independent contractors. Add these groups into the official numbers and we are probably looking at (as a guesstimate) another 10 to 15 million people. Labor force participation was at 63.7%.

But have no fear! All is not lost. Why just today, one of Willard Mitt Romney’s top economic advisers proclaimed that The Benbernank is doing a smash up job as Fed chair and deserves to remain in the position while the Republican Party has added a plank calling for an annual audit of the Fed. My guess is this is the sop to Ron Paul. And to be honest, I can see this is a good plank. Of course, we still have the Todd Akin Memorial Anti-Abortion Plank Human Life Amendment so some things never change. After all, one of the reasons the Republicans re-took the US House in 2010 was because of the lack of jobs. Yet from the very start, the House concentrated on anti-abortion legislation that included “re-defining rape.”

Todd Akin isn’t an aberration in today’s Republican Party. He is the epitome of today’s Republican Party and Paul Ryan is right there with him. Meanwhile, the denizens of the Beltway wonder what all the fuss is about with jobs and millions of un and underemployed people wonder how they will survive.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Good News and Bad News on the Economy and Other Things

9:59 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

Economy vs. David

Economy vs. David by rmx.dave, on Flickr

Let’s see how broadly I can stretch the definition of “Good News” today. The weekly report of Initial Unemployment Claims was the lowest it has been since May of 2008:

There were 368,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down 20,000 from the week before, and the lowest since May 2008.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected initial claims to rise to 400,000 in the latest report.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which aims to smooth out volatility, also improved, falling to 388,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 401,250. That’s the lowest since July 2008.

Of course, this is before any of the threatened lay-offs due to federal and state budget cuts and the overall official unemployment rate is still stuck at 9% or higher so there are still roughly 15 million unemployed and 25 to 30 million un and underemployed.

Another bit of information in today’s news that can be considered “good” news is from today’s (Thursday March 3) NY Times is how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Justice Department, Postal Inspectors, and 11 state Attorneys General had investigated, fined, and seized assets of firms preying on the unemployed:

The investigation focused on businesses that lured financially unsophisticated retirees and the unemployed with opportunities to start businesses or gain access to job listings, often with little personal effort but hefty upfront fees, the authorities said.

…snip…

The commission announced more than 90 civil actions, including three lawsuits against companies the agency said defrauded consumers of more than $49.5 million. The F.T.C. said it had obtained judgments and levied fines totaling $14.6 million in six other cases.

The Justice Department said it had taken 48 criminal actions, most in conjunction with the Postal Inspection Service. In 36 criminal cases presented Wednesday, officials said there were 16 guilty pleas, three convictions and seven cease-and-desist orders. Nineteen sentences handed down to defendants total more than 56 years.

Now for the bad news. Apparently the 50 state attorneys general and the various banking regulators in Washington can’t decide on what the level of slap-on-the-wrist punishment will least offend the banksters for all of their various financial frauds that helped destroy the global economy. Also from today’s NY Times:

Even as state attorneys general and regulators in Washington approach the end of their investigation into abuses by the nation’s biggest mortgage companies, deep disputes are emerging over how much to punish the banks as well as exactly who should benefit from a settlement.
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