Wisconsin polls closed at 9PM EST. Follow along here for the latest news and results.
Over the weekend, Audrey Bolt, Miss Ohio caused a bit of kerfuffle during the Miss USA pageant when, asked to name a movie she thought portrayed women positively, named Pretty Woman and gave this explanation:
I think it depends on the movie. I think there are some movies that depict women in a very positive role, and then some movies that put them in a little bit more of negative role. But by the end of the movie, they show that woman power that I know we all have. Such as movie Pretty Woman. We had a wonderful, beautiful woman, Julia Roberts, and she was having a rough time, but, you know what, she came out on top and she didn’t let anybody stand in her path.
Mediate and company have juiced the story by saying she thinks that a prostitute is a positive role model. That kind of misses what is wrong with Pretty Woman. It’s not that being a sex worker inherently shuts you out of inspiring stories. I’m finding Connie Riesler’s efforts to get clean on The Shield compelling. One of the most fun side characters in Hysteria is a former prostitute. I could go on.
The problem with Pretty Woman as a positive portrayal of women is that the “woman power” it shows is limited to being vivacious and sexually attractive. Vivian (Julia Roberts) does demand that she be treated with basic decency, whether she’s trying to convince Kit to stop using and to get away from her pimp, or refuses to submit to the advances of Philip Stuckey (Jason Alexander). Those are good things to demand and to aspire to, and I appreciate that the movie insists that being a sex worker doesn’t mean surrendering your right to consent.
But the movie is relatively lazy about a fundamental point: Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) essentially purchases a new life for Vivian, starting with a dress, scaling up to a new wardrobe, and finally an amount of cash that is meant to function as Vivian’s escape velocity from her life. It’s a nice fantasy of salvation if you can get it, and perhaps if you’re competing in pageants, you can (Pretty Woman‘s fantasy of a man picking a woman out from a crowd has much more in common with beauty pageants than with actual sex work). But it’s more a portrait of a man seeing something in a woman that she doesn’t see in herself than it is of empowered womanhood.
Gay couple Cooper Smith and Todd Koch responded today to the negative and positive attention their ad has received, saying that the positive support has been overwhelming and the criticism doesn’t bother them because “we’re not ashamed of our family.” Smith pointed out that the ad shouldn’t be controversial because it just reflects the day-to-day life of his family:
SMITH: The ad just reflects our life. We care about the exact same things any other parents care about. Are our kid safe, are they happy, are they getting to school on time and have they eaten lunch yet?
Despite OMM’s repeated protests against the company, JCPenney has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT equality over the past year, refuting the criticism for their decisions to bring on openly-gay comedian Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson and feature a lesbian couple in a Mothers’ Day ad.
Walker spoke with Robles campaign manager Robert Davis, who cited Robles’s job as a state parole agent and seemingly dismissed any violent overtones of the machine gun message:
Mr. Robles is in law enforcement, if you’re not aware of that, so I think it’s his way of just kind of sending our message. We’re going after Linda Sanchez, not in the way that portrays it to be if you’re thinking like that. We’re very strongly against her policies, and her programs and people really need to understand what she’s about.
Robles states repeatedly in the video that Sanchez’s “record speaks for itself” (without discussing said record), and the Robles campaign superimposes the words “HOT MESS!!” on an appearance by Sanchez on MSNBC.
Robles is running against Sanchez in a new open primary system in California, where all candidates run and the top two vote-getters end up on the ballot in November.
As the Observer points out, violent imagery, particularly that involving guns, came to the fore last year with the shooting of Rep. Gabriella Giffords (D-AZ), who was targeted by gun sights on an electoral map put out by Sarah Palin’s political organization. The crosshairs on the political map drew widespread criticism, though that didn’t stop some politicians like Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) from making light of gun violence in a political context.
Today, Republicans in the Senate blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act by filibustering the bill. The legislation would have strengthened protections for women who are being paid less because of their gender by creating larger penalties for employers who discriminate, creating more transparency of salaries so that women know whether they are being paid less, and protecting those who sue for pay equity.
Republicans framed the measure as a useless bureaucratic roadblock that would have hindered free enterprise and helped trial lawyers. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) called the bill a “war on free enterprise.” But Heller’s record on women’s issues is far from stellar: He previously voted against Paycheck Fairness when he was in the House of Representatives and also voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair pay act, another pay equity bill.
Pay discrimination isn’t some fantasy of the left — it actually prevents families from higher earnings. On average, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. And that’s happening while more women are becoming the primary breadwinners or dual-earners in their family and a larger number of women with high degrees entering the job market.
Over her lifetime, the average woman loses enough in wages to feed a family of four for 37 years.
The Paycheck Fairness Act has become an election issue, as well. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), who is challenging Heller, cited his opposition as a sign that he is one of the warriors in the ongoing battle to destroy women’s rights. In Missouri, the Senatorial candidates have also butted heads on Paycheck Fairness (all three Republican candidates opposed the bill). And in the Presidential election, President Obama has come out strongly in favor of the bill, while Mitt Romney has kept silent on the issue.
The measure was blocked by a 52-47 vote. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was absent for medical reasons. Majority Harry Reid switched his vote so that the bill could come up for another vote at some point down the road.
REPORT: Heavy turnout in Milwaukee prompts officials to call in extra poll workers | The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the story: “Heavy turnout in Milwaukee led the city Election Commission to call out the reserves Tuesday…The backup workers were needed to handle long lines, partly because a significant number of new voters were registering at the polls.” Strong turnout in Milwaukee could be a positive sign for Democrat Tom Barrett, who is the city’s mayor.
Jackson is set to be put to death by the state later today through lethal injection. But according to the AP, two of Jackson’s siblings are hoping that the Governor will spare him, because his death will just be another emotional blow to an already-traumatized family. “The dying,” one sister said, “is going to have to stop somewhere”:
“As a mother who lost two babies, all I’m asking is that you not make me go through the killing of my brother,” she wrote.
She told the AP in a telephone interview that she has forgiven her brother over the years. “If they kill him, they’re doing the same thing that he did. The dying is going to have to stop somewhere.”
Another sister and her husband, Glenda and Andrew Kuyoro, have also asked Bryant to spare Curtis Jackson in a letter dated May 15. The couple said they have tried for years to understand why Jackson attacked his relatives, and they know their questions may never be answered, but that they surely won’t if he dies.
“We are the victims in this case, and we are begging you not to let Curtis be killed. You can keep him in Parchman forever, but please don’t put our family through this horrible execution,” the Kuyoros wrote. “We are not asking you to take pity on Curtis, we’re asking you to show US mercy. We have been through enough.“
States that use the death penalty are increasingly becoming outliers, even if the practice is not actually outlawed.
In Victory For Marriage Equality, Appeals Court Declines To Reconsider Proposition 8 Case | The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today decided not to re-hear the case for Proposition 8, California’s ban on marriage equality. A three-judge panel previously found the amendment unconstitutional, but lawyers asked for a trial by a larger 11 judges panel. Since those judges have now decided not to hear the case, its next logical step is the Supreme Court.
It’s worth noting that only 4 of the Ninth Circuit’s 27 active judges indicated that they wanted this case to be reheard. Three of those judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, Jay Bybee and Carlos Bea joined a dissent from the denial of rehearing which cited President Obama to claim that marriage discrimination should remain the law in California:
A few weeks ago, subsequent to oral argument in this case, the President of the United States ignited a media firestorm by announcing that he supports same sex marriage as a policy matter. Drawing less attention, however, were his comments that the Constitution left this matter to the States and that “one of the things that [he]’d like to see is–that [the] conversation continue in a respectful way.”
But the three top Republicans seeking to challenge her this November unanimously expressed opposition to the bill, the Kansas City Star reports, suggesting that efforts like this to reduce the significant wage gap between pay for men and women are not necessary:
- Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO): voted against the measure in the House in 2010 and, through a spokesman, called it “more government intrusion into the marketplace.”
- Former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R): dismissed the need for any such legislation, calling the bill “political posturing intended to deflect attention from the horrific employment numbers and faltering economy.”
- Wealthy businessman John Brunner (R): said that the problem has already been solved by existing law, saying “I’ve been in the workplace for 30-plus years here, and the whole issue is there are systems in place for those issues of discrimination. I believe these issues are fully covered.”
With women still making just 77 cents for every dollar, the Paycheck Fairness Act would represent a much-needed step toward gender equity.
The Wall Street Journal has uncovered a collection of emails from Mitt Romney’s time as Governor of Massachusetts that reveal a lot about Romney’s changing positions on health care. Most notably, they show the now-candidate once was a staunch defender of a health reform law with an individual mandate — a portion of the Affordable Care Act that he often criticizes.
According to the emails, Mr. Romney personally drafted an op-ed article published in The Wall Street Journal the day before he signed the legislation. The draft, written on a Saturday, also defended the individual mandate, in different language from the final version of the piece as published.
Using an argument deployed today by the Obama administration, Mr. Romney defended the mandate by noting that taxpayers generally foot the bill when the uninsured seek health care.
“Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian,” the published op-ed stated. In a line that didn’t make the edited version, Mr. Romney added: “An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible—and inhumane.”
During this election season, Romney has said he would strike down Obamacare — a federal replica of his state plan — but may preserve some of the portions of the law intact. That is in itself a change from his 2010 position that the nation should adopt an individual mandate. But these emails reveal that Romney did not just consider an individual mandate useful to Masscusetts, he considered it essential to a functional health care law — precisely what the Supreme Court is now debating.
Wall Street CEO Pay Jumped By More Than 20 Percent In 2011 | According to a Bloomberg News analysis of data reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission, pay for the top CEOs on Wall Street increased by 20.4 percent last year, led by the $30 million paid to buyout company KKR and Co.’s Henry Roberts Kravis. This increase comes after a 26 percent jump in 2010, but follows a year in which “33 of the 50 biggest financial companies had negative share returns.” Huge paychecks on Wall Street have been one of the drivers of income inequality over the last few decades.
A year ago, Wisconsin Republicans pushed through Assembly Bill 7, which enacted one of the worst forms of voter ID in the nation. Since then, two state judges have blocked voter ID from taking effect because the Wisconsin state Constitution guarantees that “[e]very United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district,” regardless of whether or not they have an ID.
However, a little-noticed provision in AB 7 will likely prevent thousands of college students from voting in today’s recall election.
Section 12 of the new law increases the time period a citizen must live in one location in order to register there from 10 days to 28 days. Though seemingly innocuous, the problem is that the five largest colleges in Wisconsin — University of Wisconsin-Madison (40,000 students), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (27,500 students), Marquette University (11,500 students), University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (11,500 students), and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (11,000 students) — all had their graduations either the weekend of May 12 or the weekend of May 19, 24 days and 17 days ago, respectively.
Therefore, any student at these schools who registered to vote at school but is now home for the summer will not be permitted to update their registration at their parents’ house because they will have been home for less than 28 days. Under the old law, a student not on campus for the summer would have been permitted to update her registration at the polls and vote because she will have been home (or elsewhere off-campus) for more than 10 days.
As a result, thousands of Wisconsin students will likely be barred from taking part in today’s recall vote.
Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug LaFollette worried about the impact it could have on turnout. “It will really have a negative impact among college students,” LaFollette told ThinkProgress.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that over 200 students “reported confusion at the polls Tuesday, and many left without casting a vote” because of the state’s 28-day residency requirement. This is just the number of students who reported their problems voting; the actual number of students who were unable to vote is likely much higher.