Women’s Issues

I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.

Gloria Steinem

This week everybody was talking about binders full of women

This endless campaign needed a good laugh, so thank Mitt Romney for providing one in Tuesday’s debate. Asked what he would do about gender pay inequity (women making less than men) in the workplace, Romney instead talked about gender diversity (hiring women) in his administration in Massachusetts. He apparently didn’t meet any women at Bain Capital, so …

We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of women.

It was a typical Romneyism: equating people with objects, like viewing companies as spreadsheets of assets to be captured and liquidated, rather than seeing American workers and the communities where they live. (Also typical: Mitt’s story is complete fiction.) The Internet lit up immediately with biting satire and more biting satire. But we shouldn’t let the unintentionally humorous form of Romney’s answer hide the fact that the content is truly hideous:

I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you. We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women.

So if you’re going to have women in the workforce, you need to let them go home to cook dinner for their kids, because job flexibility is a women’s issue, not a family issue. (God forbid Dad should tell his boss he has to come home early and order pizza.) And (unless the Man in Charge is as magnanimous as Mitt Romney) employers will hire those less-flexible women only in boom times when they’re “anxious” about finding enough qualified men. That’s the Romney vision for working women and their families. President Obama struck back with his “Romnesia” speech, which I thought was hilarious.

… and why the polls don’t make sense

At the same time that Gallup’s tracking poll showed Romney opening up a huge lead nationally, state polls had Obama moderately ahead. Nate Silver grappled with the conundrum, while his model shows Obama with a 68% chance of victory — up from 63% last Monday. Two x-factors could lead to Obama doing better on election day than the polls (or Nate’s model) predict. (1) Likely-voter models don’t really know what to do with young voters, or anybody else who doesn’t have a voting history. And (2) most polls interview only in English, so they might miss the size of the Hispanic vote. Obama typically leads in polls of all registered voters, while Romney does better in polls that restrict themselves to likely voters. But if turnout is high — and early-voting numbers hint that it might be — then a lot of unlikelyvoters are going to cast ballots.

… but I wrote about liberals and capitalism

The debate question that struck me was:

What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate?

President Obama addressed the misperception that he believes in a government-centered economy rather than free enterprise. That gave me a news-hook for an issue I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while: Why do liberals sound so inauthentic when we defend capitalism, and what can we do about it? Hence this week’s main article: Take a Left at the Market.

… and you might also find this interesting

Romney still hasn’t made his budget numbers add up.


Remember when a new version of Windows was a big deal? Windows 95 was like a million years ago. And while we’re talking about Bill Gates: It’s hard to keep a straight face while writing about his quest for the toilet of the future.


Rosie Perez answers Romney’s “joke” that he’d “have a better shot at winning” if he were Latino.


One inevitable consequence of manufacturing horror stories about your opponents: The people on your side start doing horrible things to “catch up”. I think that’s why we’re seeing such outrageous voter-registration fraud among Republicans. Up and down the line, Republicans have talked themselves into believing that Democrats are doing worse.


E. J. Dionne has put his finger on something important: Romney isn’t running as a candidate, he’s marketing himself as a product. What seems like flip-flopping in the political arena is just normal advertising for products like Coke or Tide. As Tom Waits puts it: “It’s new. It’s improved. It’s old-fashioned.” Why not?


If only there were such a network of celebrity super-heroes.


Lately I’ve seen a slew of articles from progressives that I characterize as: “I can’t condone what Obama’s done, but Jesus! The Republicans have gone out of their minds!” In the recent Harper’s article “Why Vote?” (which you can’t see unless you subscribe) Kevin Baker explains that “your vote counts for nothing”, and complains that “what we are witnessing right now in America and throughout the Western world, is not compromise with the opposition but something else entirely: the use of democratic institutions to disassemble democracy itself.” So he thinks you shouldn’t participate in this farce, right? Not exactly:

Go vote for Barack Obama, and whatever other Democrats or progressives are running for office where you live. To vote for a Mitt Romney — to vote for the modern right anywhere in the West today — is an act of national suicide.

Daniel Ellsbergsays: “I don’t support Obama, I oppose the current Republican Party.” He elaborates:

a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better — no different — on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.

Antiwar activist Tom Gallagher titles his column: “Vote for the War Criminal — It’s Important!Noam Chomsky agrees. He believes that Obama’s targeted assassinations (i.e. drone strikes) are “war crimes“. But:

If I were a person in a swing state, I’d vote against Romney-Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice.


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