Today’s Mad Men

The military justice system needs a 21st century wake-up call.

— by Colleen Teubner

Colleen_Teubner

I remember when I first started watching Mad Men. Like most of America, I got hooked. How could I not? The glitz and glamour of 1960s Manhattan was irresistible. But from the very first episode, I knew there was something deeply wrong with this world — the business-as-usual, casual attitude towards sexual harassment.

As a modern “working gal,” I can’t imagine being productive in that kind of environment. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be. I’d be uncomfortable and unhappy, and my performance would suffer. We may not have equal pay for women yet, but at least workplace sexual harassment is no longer considered playful banter.

Aren’t we mostly past the Mad Men era? Not if you’re in the armed forces.

Our military men and women risk their safety everyday — but not in the ways you might think. The most recent Pentagon survey revealed that out of the estimated 26,000 sexual assaults that occurred in the military in 2012, only 3,374 cases were reported. That brings the report rate to a meager 13 percent, compared with the national average of 46 percent.

With all the progress women have made in the military, why is the sexual assault reporting rate so low?

The answer is clear: Military commanders have created an environment where women are afraid to stand up to their attackers. Of the women who reported instances of sexual assault, 62 percent suffered retaliation. The current system forces survivors to make an impossible choice: career or due process? It looks like the military justice system needs a 21st century wake-up call.

And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand agrees. The New York Democrat proposed a bill that would remove prosecuting power from the military chain of command. She wants to replace this outdated system with a new one that would inspire confidence through accountability.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? Not to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). Instead, Levin agrees with the top brass that the prosecution of assault cases should be kept within the ranks.

This won’t work. It’s already failed.

And James Taranto isn’t helping. The Wall Street Journal writer offers living proof that misogyny remains alive and well today. Taranto wrote that any attempt to address the military’s sexual assault problem is the equivalent of declaring a “war on men” and an “effort to criminalize male sexuality.”

Really? Justice for sexual assault survivors threatens your sexuality? Tell that to the 70 women and men who are attacked every day.

I think we can all agree that this hasn’t been the best year for women. First, there was the media sympathy toward the Steubenville rapists. Then came the news that the already overwhelming number of sexual assaults in the military had increased yet again. And recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 24 weeks.

It’s unrealistic to expect that the sources of these problems — the media, military, and the misinformed — can, or will, develop constructive solutions.

I understand that military commanders want the opportunity to reform from within, but the time for Mad Men style, backroom meetings is over. When Gillibrand reintroduces her bill later this summer, Congress needs to give change a chance.

Colleen Teubner is a student at the George Washington University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org.  Photo credit to www.feedtacoma.com

Advertisements

Time is Money and the GOP is Throwing It Away

Earlier this week, the Republicans in Congress (including NV2’s Mark Amodei) voted for passage of yet another bill limiting a woman’s reproductive rights.  It not only would shorten the time frame during which a woman could choose to end a pregnancy, but would also require rape/incest victims to report that assault to authorities to be able to exercise that choice.  That bill would be HR1797.  That’s right, despite not having passed a single jobs bill, the REPUBLIBAN brethren in Congress would rather waste time and our taxpayer dollars on a bill the President has already promised to veto. Their actions are shameful and out of touch with what our country needs.

Available legislative time on the agenda is finite.  That means if the folks in charge of the House of Representatives, that would be the REPUBLIBAN brethren, choose to use their time to debate and process crap bills like this, the alternative cost is that there is NO TIME to devote to meaningful actions necessary to say, pass a jobs bill, pass comprehensive immigration reform, fix the still lingering foreclosure problems still facing many families, or ensure that students will be able to secure reasonable loan interest rates such that they don’t become mere indentured servants to the mighty megabanks.

Just looking at the time wasted on HR1797, here’s what’s shown on Thomas:

4/26/2013: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

4/26/2013: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (41 members)
4/26/2013: Referred to House Judiciary Committee (40 members)

5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. (15 members)
5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. (12 members)

5/23/2013: Subcommittee Hearings Held.
6/04/2013: Subcommittee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/04/2013: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 6 – 4 .

6/12/2013: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/12/2013: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 20 – 12.
6/14/2013 10:09pm: Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Judiciary. H. Rept. 113-109, Part I.

6/14/2013 10:09pm: Committee on Oversight and Government discharged.

6/14/2013 10:10pm: Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 77.

6/17/2013 7:32pm: Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 266 Reported to House. The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: Considered under the provisions of rule H. Res. 266. (consideration: CR H3730-3743)

6/18/2013 4:41pm: The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H.R. 1797.

6/18/2013 6:01pm: The previous question was ordered pursuant to the rule. (consideration: CR H3743)

6/18/2013 6:01pm: POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on H.R. 1797, the Chair put the question on passage and, by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen demanded the yeas and nays and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of passage until later in the legislative day.

6/18/2013 6:15pm: Considered as unfinished business. (consideration: CR H3743-3744)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 228 – 196 (Roll no. 251). (text: CR H3730-3731)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

6/18/2013 6:45pm: The title of the measure was amended. Agreed to without objection.

6/19/2013: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

So, what kind of alternative costs are we talking about?  Well, let’s start with the annual salary of a U.S. Representative to Congress.  That would be $174,000/yr.  Now, let’s look at the number of legislative days each of our Representatives will work this year. That would be 126 days (out of 365 calendar days).  Given that they’re only scheduled to be in DC for 4 consecutive days in any calendar week, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt and say they work 10 hour days.  That means available legislative hours =  126 days x 10 hrs/day =1260 hrs.  That means that the cost for each legislative hour for each representative = $174,000 /1260 hrs =$138.10/hr.

So, for each subcommittee and each committee, and then the House as a whole spent only an hour dealing with this bill what did that cost us as taxpayers (you know, the folks who pay their salaries)?

Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
Hearing/Markup: 15 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $6214.50

 Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Hearing/Markup:12 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $4971.60

Full Judiciary Committee
Amendment/Vote of Yeas & Nays:  40 mbrs x 2 hrs x $138.10 = $11,048.00

Full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Vote of Yeas & Nays:  41 mbrs x 1 hr x $138.10 = $5662.10

Full House of Representatives (424 Voting/10 Not Voting)
Debate & Votes:  424 Mbrs x 2 hrs x 138.10/hr = $117,108.80

And none of these figures include the monies paid to that folks in the background, the clerks on the floor of the house, any payments made to those who testified for their travel (etc.), the webmasters who need to post information about the hearings, markups, debates, and votes.  But as you can see, the nominal cost of just the Representatives themselves for consideration of this onerous bill amounts to:

$6214.50 + $4971.60 + 11,048.00 + $5662.10 + $117,108.80 = $145,005.00

Just for reference sake, the average U.S. per capita personal income in 2012 was $42,693.  Thus, the alternative costs the Speaker Boehner and his REPUBLIBAN brethren chose to waste would have basically employed 3.4 individuals (3 full time jobs + 1 part-time job) for a year!  In Nevada, the 2012 per capita Income was only $37, 361 … so in Nevada, that same wasted money, on just that one bill, could have employed 3.9 individuals!

GOP Senator Takes Credit For Anti-Rape Law He Voted Against

The unethical dishonesty by the GOP leadership never ceases to amaze me.  Here’s a post from ThinkProgress today exposing yet another piece of flagrant dishonesty being committed by Texas’ senior senator, and the GOP’s Senate Minority Whip.  Personally, I find Sen. Cornyn’s behavior unethical, deceitful and unworthy of someone holding a seat in our nation’s Congress.


By Ian Millhiser posted from ThinkProgress Justice on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Ian MillhiserShortly after President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization into law, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) released a glowing press release claiming that a “Cornyn bill” to “eliminate nationwide rape kit backlog” was signed into law. The so-called “Cornyn bill” is the SAFER Act, which was incorporated into the VAWA renewal, and which “provide[s] funding for state and local governments to conduct audits of untested DNA evidence and create[s] a national reporting system to help track and prioritize untested rape kits,” according to Cornyn. By all appearances, it seems like a wonderful law. There’s only one problem.

imageCornyn voted against it.

Cornyn was one of 22 Senate Republican men who voted against the VAWA renewal. He opposed the bill because he objected to a provision enabling tribal courts to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit rape or other violent crimes against women on Indian reservations. This provision is intended to combat the virtual lawlessness that faces Native American women on these reservations without the VAWA renewal. A 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office found that federal prosecutors “declined to prosecute 46 percent of assault matters and 67 percent of sexual abuse and related matters” on reservations.

(HT: Steve Benen)

This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.


GOP Darling, Marco Rubio, Voted Against VAWA

In a statement explaining “why” he voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Senator Marco Rubio clearly illustratedhis biases when he said,

“Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences. Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions. These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best, but instead this new legislation would put those decisions into the hands of distant Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Justice. Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.”

Decisions should be left to the states?  Those same “red” states that are clearly restricting womens’ rights?  And why in the world would he be against allowing tribal governments to prosecute domestic abusers and those who commit sexual assault on tribal lands?  Does he prefer to leave those incidents in nowhere land?  THAT is not leadership!

Oh yeah … and if he get’s a serious case of dry-mouth while standing alone in a room in front of a cameraman delivering a rehearsed speech, how much water is he gonna need to stand on a debate stage and attempt to debate Hillary Clinton?

From What Planet Do the Right-Wing Nut-Jobs Hail and Can We Deport Them?

As we suffered through this last election cycle, women across this nation were subjected to myth after myth about how our bodies really worked, by men who clearly are NOT familiar in any way shape or form as to how our female parts actually do work. First there were all those mythical statements about how we can’t get pregnant if we’re “legitimately” raped—

  • “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen (that it’s a ‘gift’ from god)” — Richard Mourdock, (R-MO)
  • The Facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant.” — Rep. Henry Aldridge (R- )
  • “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” — Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee
  • “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are ‘one in millions and millions and millions.” Rep. Stephen Freind (R- )
  • “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)

Then it devolved to rants and raves about how allowing women to have birth control would destroy our nation’s religious liberty.

  • This is not a question about contraception, this is about separation of church and state.  I just think that was a overreach and an overstep by government.” — WWE executive and Republican Candidate Linda McMahon
  • Birth control is a license to do things in a sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be.” Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
  • “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
    ~ Foster Friess, billionaire investor in Rick Santorum’s SuperPAC
  • Then came the Blunt Amendment, legislation sponsored by Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, was voted down 51 to 48. It would have let employers refuse to include contraception in health care coverage based on their “religious belief or moral conviction.”
  • “What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
    ”So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch…I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much Aspirin to put between their knees as they want…” —  Right-Wing radio pundit, Rush Limbaugh, talking about Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke, who was allowed to speak to Democrats but who was prohibited from speaking to an all-male Republican meeting on Capitol Hill about women needing birth control for reasons beyond contraception.

It sickened us all, but the crazies on the right have decided to once again escalate their war on women and simultaneously broadcast their absolute ignorance about how women’s bodies work.  A classic example of that renewed effort from the right is posted over at Right-Wing Watch today (complete with excerpts of the actual audio broadcast):

Swanson: Wombs of Women on Birth Control ‘Embedded’ with ‘Dead Babies’

— by Miranda Blue on Friday, 2/1/2013 1:10 pm

Well, here’s some medical research we hadn’t heard about. Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who last week delved memorably into feminist theory, tells us this week that “certain doctors and certain scientists” have researched the wombs of women on the pill and found “there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb…Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Swanson must be speaking with the same doctors as former Rep. Todd Akin. Even Kevin Peeples, whom Swanson is interviewing about his anti-contraception documentary Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?, isn’t quite sold on the evidence.

Swanson: I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

Peeples: We’ve actually heard on both sides of that. We’re researching that and want to make sure we speak correctly to that in our second film. But we have medical advice on both sides of the table there, so we want to make sure that we communicate that properly.

Swanson: It would seem, and I realize that people are a little split on what are all the effects of the birth control pill, but it would seem that there’s a tremendous risk in the use of it for the life of children.

Earlier in the interview, Peeples and Swanson discuss how birth control came to be widely used and accepted by many churches. Women, Peeples laments, “desire the men’s role” and are now missing out on “the role God put them in that he laid out in Genesis.” Before World War II, Peeples claims, “abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together” until “Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically.”

Peeples: It starts with men and women fighting and not being happy with the role that God put them in that he laid out in Genesis. So whenever you seek to desire, when women seek to desire the men’s role, they lose the part and the idea of what children does, not just for the kingdom and not just does with their family, but does for their gender role.

Swanson: Are you saying that the population control stuff, egalitarian feminism, birth control, abortion, they’re all sort of interrelated?

Peeples: Yeah, it wasn’t until after World War II that they begin to separate them. Abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together, they were all kind of a package for eugenics and population control. Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically, and so they said, ‘Hey, let’s kind of take this back, let’s get rid of the negative things and let’s play on Christian liberty, let’s play on freedom, let’s play on people kind of taking this upon themselves to control population rather than forcing it on them. So, again, it’s just another effect of not researching our history to know what happened in the world alongside of the Church.

I’m sorry, that absolutely infuriates me.  From which planet do these right-wing whacked-out nut-jobs swoop in from each day and why the hell haven’t our immigration agents sent them back from whence they came, and barred them from returning?  Women’s bodies do NOT work that way. Did they get an “F” in their 7th grade health class?  Not only that, THIS is NOT the United States of Stepford where women should expect to be nothing more that incubators for man’s seed while running around barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen cooking dinner while silent as a lamb.

Every single woman on this planet knows that that’s why we have periods or why women unable to complete a pregnancy have a what’s called a “miscarriage” which expells the remains of the failed pregnancy.   BOTH of those processes are the equivalent of Mother Nature doing a bit of spring cleaning such that the woman’s uterus is cleaned up and ready for another try at implanting a fertilized egg on the wall of that very clean wall!