Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bobo Analysis

(picture from the New York Times)

Shorter David Brooks:
Republican policies no longer get me off and Democrats don't have decency to admit that the richest country in the history of the world can't afford to take care of its non-wealthy citizens. Here's a bunch of ideas that will never pass a Republican congress.
He spends half his column whining about his job and the other half giving bad political advice (claiming that the way to get things passed in Washington is via bipartisanship) and proposing a bunch of ideas liberals came up with ages ago. But on the plus side at least he seems to realize the Ryan plan is worthless.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Perfect Example of Blame the Victim

Dan Rottenberg wrote an odious blog post today about how, when a woman gets raped, it was probably her fault. As a feminist I was incredibly repulsed by this article, and felt the need to write about just what's wrong with it. I'm tempted to avoid linking, but this is just such a perfect example of what's wrong with modern attitudes towards rape victims that I would recommend reading it, but only with puke buckets at the ready:


Rottenberg doesn't even wait to get to the actual post before wondering whether women might be asking to be raped when wearing low cut blouses:

What message was the TV journaiist Lara Logan sending here?

Rottenberg begins the actual post by informing women that some men might think that they wear revealing clothing because they "want to get laid". As if that weren't condescending enough, he begins this passage with the phrase "Earth to liberated women". Yeah, liberated women, how can you be so dumb as to think that men should be able to resist raping you when you wear a tank top? Jeez, it's like you expect equal rights or something. The whole post is written as though he's trying to help women, to keep them safe.

This is a pretty common response to rape. Women are expected to protect their vaginas, men aren't expected to control themselves. Just look at the language used when discussing sex. A woman "gives it up" as though sex was something she had and something a man took from her (h/t Amanda Marcotte) rather than something shared between two people. One of the most concrete examples of this is from America while controlled by the Spanish. A culture developed that encouraged men to gain Honor by taking a woman's Shame (by tricking her into bed, natch). If a woman went to bed with a man she wasn't married to she lost her Shame (hence the phrase shameless), and the man gained Honor. In many ways this dynamic exists today.

Later in his post Rottenberg implies that rape can be a sport claiming "[c]onquering an unwilling sex partner is about as much drama as a man can find without shooting a gun". This places all responsibility on the woman to avoid unwanted sex, while placing none of the responsibility on the man for, you know, raping the woman. It's just a sport to men! It's not their fault these women aroused them with their low cut blouses and miniskirts!

In his conclusion, Rottenberg uses the example of two women, Ann and Sarah, to prove his point that rapists are horrible women should be more careful of how they dress. Ann is a sensible woman who dresses conservatively and has a strong door and burglar alarm. Sarah, on the other hand, dresses like a slut "flower child" and leaves her front door unlocked. Over the course of a year Sarah is nearly raped and her daughter is molested. At a community meeting Rottenberg takes the opportunity to tell her it's her fault this is all happening to her and maybe she should "take a few precautions". At this point Sarah admirably stands up for herself and claims that it's not her that should change but "the creeps and muggers [should] change their lifestyle". 

Bravo for Sarah! It is here in the post (in the second to last sentence) that Rottenberg finally admits it would be better if men would stop raping women (no matter the reason), but this is attitude is short lived because he claims that " it’s usually easier to change your own behavior than to change someone else’s". This attitude, usually given as the reason for chastising women for "making themselves" victims, would be like telling a man who was wearing a Rolex watch or a nice suit that it's his fault he got mugged. I'm sure Rottenberg wouldn't agree with the logic there, so it's particularly mystifying that he uses it against women. I've never heard anyone say a man was asking for it. Men are always victims of aggressors if they're raped. It's this mindset, that women need to protect sex and men are expected to try to take it from them (by force if necessary) that needs to be changed, but it's this mindset that Dan Rottenberg shamelessly promotes in this post. Rather than being presenting a solution, he's just part of the problem.

P.S. I can assure Rottenberg that women are perfectly aware that they can be raped. The clothes they are wearing have no real effect on the likelihood of this happening and Rottenberg's "advice" just serves to make the victims of rape blame themselves and can cause severe depression.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why do Republicans think spending cuts grow the economy?

(Image courtesy of FRED)

Almost every modern economist agrees that cutting spending in a recession will only make things worse. Austrian economists are the only real exception to this rule, but they're wrong about pretty much everything and have never made an accurate prediction so they can be safely ignored. So why do Republicans insist that cutting government will increase jobs? How on earth could firing a bunch of people (which cuts in government inevitably result in) help increase jobs?

The answer comes down to a simple formula. The first thing anyone taking a macroeconomics course learns is that Gross Domestic Product equals Consumer Spending plus Investment plus Government Spending or:


It's a simple formula that proves true time and again. The problem is that Republicans seem to think the formula reads something like this:


Conservative economists aren't actually working from a different textbook, but Republican policy makers tend to ignore government spending as it pertains to GDP. Once you understand that conservatives mangle an important building block of economic science the fact that they can't seem to get anything right makes a lot of sense. They're just trying to free up all that GDP trapped in the government!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Cartoon!

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

This comic is such a great illustration of what cutting the deficit would do to the economy right now that I just had to post it. Political cartoonists take a lot of flak, and most of them do seem to be political pundits who just can't seem to fill a whole 500 word column so they just draw a picture instead, but Tom Toles demonstrates the importance of great political cartoons. They can take a very complex idea and present it clearly via metaphor. I also always enjoy his little alt-text in the lower right hand corner.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Yglesias Said

This is so good I'm just going to repost it in its entirety:

There’s a fair amount not to like about Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus’ imagined dialogue between Barack Obama and Paul Ryan and certainly the imaginary reasonableness she attributes to Rep Ryan grates. But to me the worst thing about the column is a sentence she puts into Barack Obama’s mouth: “The current system can’t go on. I wouldn’t say this publicly, but my party’s wrong to pretend it can.”
When oh when will Democrats acknowledge the need for some changes to the Medicare status quo?
This is a great question to ask of the tiny minority of House Democrats who voted no on the Affordable Care Act back during the 111th congress. But it’s a terrible question to ask the vast majority of House Democrats who voted “yes” and also a terrible question to ask the Senate Democrats who all voted for it. The story about Republicans backing savage cuts while Democrats are in denial about the need for restraint is a comfortable one, but it bears no relationship to reality. Not only did the Affordable Care Act include specific cuts in Medicare subsidies to private insurers, it establishes a wide array of mechanisms that its authors believe will reduce the growth rate of health care spending, including in public sector programs. Hospitals were squealing about this just yesterday on the front page of The New York Times.
Back when the ACA was being debated, these measures were subjected to a lot of doubts and scrutiny from various quarters. Mostly this focused on the question of political sustainability. And that’s a fair concern. But the exact same concern has to be asked about Paul Ryan’s vouchers. You can’t slow the growth in health care spending without slowing the growth in health providers’ incomes. That’s just math and it’s a problem for everyone. But now we seem to have forgotten the sustainability concern when talking about Ryan, and forgotten the entire existence of the most important health reform in decades (except when we’re attributing magic economy-wrecking effects to it) and just pretending that Obama forgot to address the issue.
Of all the things that bother me about the way the Washington Press Corps handles Paul Ryan, the way they treat him like a serious policy wonk, the way they consider his plan to be a legitimate attempt to fix medicare, the way they just constantly praise him for no apparent reason whatsoever, the fact that they consider him to have been the only person to have put forth a plan to reign in Medicare costs is by far the most annoying. The Democrats haven't just suggested a plan to reign in Medicare cost growth, they expended a huge amount of political capital to do so. Still, the press claims that Democrats just want to demagogue the issue to win political points without, of course, noting that Republicans just won a huge election by scaring seniors.

How are we supposed to have the serious conversation the pundits say we need on Medicare when they're too busy praising the Republicans to notice when Democrats tangibly advance the ball on cost control?

Had to share this

Bors cartoon