(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

A report from the Guttmacher Institute shows how cutbacks to reproductive health services have particularly hurt poorer women. Even as the need has increased over the last decade-plus, the number of women actually receiving publicly funded assistance has fallen by 9 percent.

While public support for contraceptive services for poorer women dates back to 1970, that portion of the safety net has been failing, particularly in states that refuse to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and with increasing attacks on women’s health services, writes Tara Culp-Ressler.

The issue has recently been getting worse. In the period between 2010 and 2012 alone — when attacks on publicly-funded clinics intensified — the number of poor adult women in need of contraceptive services increased by 12 percent. In Texas, where lawmakers’ crusade against abortion has undermined the entire family planning landscape over the past two years, this health care crisis is coming into sharp focus. Advocates are holding up the state as a negative example of what happens without Title X.

Michael Hiltzik points out the folly in attacking Title X reproductive health services.

In more recent years, however, congressional conservatives have had their knives out for Title X. The program was openly made a target of the right wing’s attack on Planned Parenthood, for example. The religion-based attack on ACA-mandated contraceptive services–the Hobby Lobby effect–is more of the same.

Let’s be blunt here: There is no more witless public-health position than one that targets women’s reproductive health. Preventing unwanted pregnancies pays off in multiples by reducing the burden on healthcare institutions and improving women’s work and career prospects and the health of their families.

Yet ultimately these policies are neither about economics nor religion. Which makes it even more annoying when religious business people argue that it is their rights being infringed by being required to pay for employee health care plans that include coverage for contraception.

Employment is a form of contract in which employers agree to compensate employees for their labor with a package of cash and benefits. Once those services have been rendered, the employer has incurred an enforceable debt. The money passing through the employer’s account to purchase health insurance he had contracted to pay as compensation is no longer his, but the employee’s to spend as she/he chooses. But framing it that way treats employees as equal economic partners in the employer/employee relationship. And in the new neo-feudalism, “job creators” can’t have that.

In the end, the attacks on women’s reproductive health services — as well as on labor — are not just about religion or economics, but about power. About reaffirming who’s in charge and who isn’t. As I observed at my home blog,

In every economic argument these days, notice the unstated assumption, how among both top Republicans and Democrats that the concerns of the employer, the entrepreneur — his needs, his convenience, his profitability, his confidence, his incentives — are always front and center, the primary topic of debate and of legislation. And the needs and concerns of workers without whom nothing gets done are a secondary, even tertiary concern. Because all Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others. Once you tune your ear to listen for it, you hear it everywhere.

Welcome to Orwell’s Farm.


Categories : Labor, Women's Issues
Comments (0)
Aug
17

Sunday Morning Music

By · Comments (0)
YouTube Preview Image

Comments (0)

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Dave Neiwert linked the other day to this Doug Muder piece that traces the origins of some of our current rhetoric. He begins, “Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think.” Muder contends that while the North won the Civil War, the planter aristocrats won Reconstruction, effectively nullifying the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, thereby preserving the social order and power structures God himself intended — to make and keep the planter aristocrats wealthy.

“[I]n the Confederate mind, no democratic process could legitimate such a change in the social order. It simply could not be allowed to stand, and it did not stand,” writes Muder. So, perhaps, it is with obstructionism in Congress today.

When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

Read More→


Categories : History, National, Race
Comments (1)
Aug
16

Quiet car trips home

By · Comments (0)

The following is a crosspost from nevernesters.com

On the Sunday Arielle and I got back from Texas we stayed over at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Charlotte, grilled out, had beers and played with their pair of boys, who are four and two. They’ve got a great guest set-up, do my Charlotte in-laws, with a big private room downstairs. When we sleep over, we invariably awaken to the commotion upstairs: a Battle of Britain-level bombardment enacted by stampeding toddler feet.

Read More→


Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)
Aug
16

Tom Cruise in a jetpack

By · Comments (2)

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

IMDB describes Minority Report thusly:

In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand.

Meanwhile, here in the past an elite research team at N.C. State University is at work on a top secret project, Future States Processing (announced a year ago yesterday):

RALEIGH — As the field of “big data” continues to grow in importance, N.C. State University has landed a big coup – a major lab for the study of data analysis, funded by the National Security Agency.

This is from the project’s Executive Summary [emphasis mine]:

Broadly, Future States Processing (FSP) is “a mechanism that conceives of the state of an entity (e.g., person, place, or thing) at some point in the future based on a current collection of information.” One challenge is to decompose the broad aim of FSP into a set of key research areas. The group has identified five areas: narrative processing (addressed in another research theme), which allows the identification of emerging topics and narratives from structured and unstructured data; state description, which includes entity, feature, and attribute identification; state modeling, which identifies relationships and dependencies and creates a formal representation; process and prediction models, which infers subsequent states given the current description and a context; and uncertainty quantification, which addresses the precision with which the predictions can be made. Predictions must be made within a context, and an unaddressed issue is context generation. As the group identifies example problems, the preference is to focus on people as entities and to predict behavior or motivation.

Some people are paid to lose sleep over those unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know. For that, there’s “big data.” And now that No Such Agency has a place to store it(Bluffdale, UT), N.C. State just needs to develop the right set of algorithms to predict people’s future behaviors.

But there’s still the unaddressed problem of “context generation.”

Describe your most paranoid fantasy and — with the right data “corpus” — No Such Agency will tell you who’s most likely working on turning that threat into a reality.

So you can arrest or kill them.

What could go worng?

What could go worng?


Categories : National, North Carolina
Comments (2)

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

For a good bit of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I commuted home on Fridays on I-26 in South Carolina and North Carolina. I could kind of gauge the wars’ progress by how many low-boys carrying Humvees, up-armored Humvees, and MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored troop carriers) passed me on my commute as they headed from their Midwest factories to Joint Base Charleston to be airlifted to the war zones.

Plenty never made it home, I’m sure. But after this week’s events in Ferguson MO, I have to wonder where the rest wound up. Chase Madar explains how one MRAP ended up at Ohio State University in case a frat party got out of hand.

That MRAP came, like so much other equipment police departments are stocking up on — from tactical military vests, assault rifles, and grenade launchers to actual tanks and helicopters – as a freebie via a Pentagon-organized surplus military equipment program.  As it happens, police departments across the country are getting MRAPs like OSU’s, including the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota.  It’s received one of 18 such decommissioned military vehicles already being distributed around that state.  So has Warren County which, like a number of counties in New York state, some quite rural, is now deploying Afghan War-grade vehicles.  (Nationwide, rural counties have received a disproportionate percentage of the billions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment that has gone to the police in these years.)

So lots of that deficit-funded hardware deployed to fight ‘em over there so we wouldn’t have to fight ‘em over here has come home to fight — for lack of terrorists in places like Ferguson, MO — whatever “threats” are lying around. Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Ga has proposed legislation to restrict the militarization of neighborhood policing.

It was just typical “cop equipment hanging around the police officer station” that rural Massachusetts police couldn’t wait to use up against the notorious litterer, Arlo Guthrie. Now it’s state-of-the-art war-fighting machinery. If that’s meant to make Americans feel safer, it ain’t working.


Categories : National
Comments (0)
Aug
15

Friday Open Thread

By · Comments (8)

Dana Milbank: Republicans embrace their phoniness

As Shane Goldmacher reported, “The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.”

These two dozen sites, with names such as “North County Update” and “Central Valley Update” look like political fact-checking sites; the NRCC’s spokeswoman, Andrea Bozek, called it “a new and effective way to disseminate information.”

Ya mean like The Raleigh Digest?

What else this week in fake news?


Categories : Open Thread
Comments (8)
Aug
14

Drones Over Your Homes

By · Comments (0)

So in North Carolina’s capitol, one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories Of Democracy, Gov. Pat McCrory is rushing to fix items in the budget he signed just days ago. Like a “provision that would stop automatically paying for enrollment growth at public schools.” 

It’s just another of those items slipped anonymously into a must-pass budget bill. Among the hidden pearls is this ALEC-inspired gem found by Asheville-based activist Barry Summers. He wrote about it this week in the Asheville Citizen-Times: 

H1099 was never heard by any Senate committee, but it has become State law nonetheless. It allows warrantless drone surveillance at all public events (including those on private property) or any place which is in “plain view” of a law enforcement officer. It has other loopholes and deficiencies which taken altogether, make a mockery of the “right-to-privacy” anywhere but inside your home with the shades drawn tight.

More at Hullabaloo.


Aug
12

Robin Williams, R.I.P.

By · Comments (1)

It may be generational, but Robin Williams’ death seems to have hit a lot of people especially hard. He was a daring performer who seemed to relish taking chances both on screen and on stage.

I never met the man, but several of my Netroots Nation friends did.

Joel Silberman: Two Very Different Encounters With Robin Williams

 

Lizz Winstead: My First Big Break in Show Biz (My Robin Williams Story)

And Laffy, from Political Circus:

My old improv buddy has died. RIP Robin Williams.

I always thought his Popeye was underrated.

YouTube Preview Image

Categories : News, Popular Culture
Comments (1)
IMG_1228

County parking deck on Saturday charging Special Event Rate of $5

A word or two about fairness and common sense. Maybe more than two.

There’s been a stink this week about an Asheville city councilman using his parking pass to unjam a traffic jam in a county parking deck caused, he said, by a malfunctioning exit gate.

WLOS-TV asked drivers what they thought about the councilman waving through others without paying. One said, “Wow, that doesn’t seem fair.”

We have some strange ideas about what’s fair. (View image before continuing.)

Suppose she parked in the lot on Friday and paid the $8 day rate then parked in the lot on Saturday and paid the $5 flat rate. Was her Friday self treated unfairly because she paid more than her Saturday self? Or did her Saturday self cheat her Friday self by paying less? If her Friday self parked for an hour and paid $1 and her Saturday self parked for an hour and paid $5, who was treated unfairly? And when the county opens decks and allows anyone to park for free?

Don’t even go there.

Read More→


Categories : Buncombe County, Local
Comments (32)