When ABC announced that Chaz Bono, son of Cher and Sonny Bono, would compete on “Dancing With the Stars,” Fox News’ “Medical A-Team” psychiatrist Keith Ablow launched into a hatefulandignorant crusade against the transgender activist, calling him a “very disordered person” and saying his presence on the popular show would poison young people’s gender identities. To her credit, Fox host Megyn Kelly thoroughly admonished and debunked Ablow on her show and during a segment with Fox headliner Bill O’Reilly. But this morning, the conservative network got mired in transphobia again when the crew of Fox & Friends appeared pained at the mere mention of Bono’s name. Bono had a disappointing performance in last night’s episode due to a knee injury, and the Fox morning crew couldn’t even bring themselves to discuss it, transcript via Gawker:
BRIAN KILMEADE: Steve, can you tell us more?
STEVE DOOCY: Uh, no, I can’t. [Laughs] Thank you very for that update.
GRETCHEN CARLSON: [Rubbing temples] Let’s talk about the Senate instead! That might take too long to explain to Steve, Brian, and the rest of the world.
KILMEADE: The one part of Chaz that hasn’t been operated on!
Herman Cain believes so strongly in his tax plan that he wants an new constitutional requirement to ever change it.
GOP presidential primary candidate Herman Cain recently released his “999 Plan,” which would immediately install business, individual, and sales flat taxes of 9 percent, while the country transitions to a “Fair Tax,” or a single national sales tax
At a recent event with Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) that was posted on YouTube by one of Scott’s campaign accounts, Cain elaborated on his tax plan and revealed another mechanism by which he plans to keep it in place.
Responding to an audience question about how he would ensure that Congress wouldn’t change his plan once it was enacted, Cain said that he is going to ask Scott and other congressional sponsors of the plan to put in a requirement that would only allow it to be changed with a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate:
CAIN: I’m gonna ask Congressman Scott and the other sponsors of the bill to put in the requirement that you have to two-thirds vote in the United States Senate before you can change the 999 Plan. Two-thirds supermajority before you can make a change. What that does is that the American people are gonna know about it because it’s going to require a two-thirds vote.
Additionally, one state that has such two-thirds requirement for raising taxes — California — has faced major budgetary problems thanks to the hurdles that the requirement places in the way of raising revenues. It hardly seems like a desirable model.
That there were many more women graduating from medical school in 2008 than in 1980 is pretty intuitive. On the one hand, that’s the progress of gender equality. On the other hand, there are many more people today than there were 30 years ago and the population is older and in more need of medical care. So you might be surprised to learn that actually the new woman doctors have just crowded out male doctors:
Given the underlying demographic shifts and the skyrocketing spending on health care, this is kind of amazing. Doctors earn a lot of money and I’m sure more people would be willing to go to medical school if the powers that be wanted to train them.
Four and a half months ago, Rick Welts, then the president and CEO of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, became the first openly gay senior executive in American professional sports. Welts, 58, left the Suns last month for personal reasons, saying he wanted to move to Northern California to be with his partner. But today, Welts officially joined the Bay Area-based Golden State Warriors, saying he was for the first time aligning his professional life with a personal life he had shielded from his co-workers for decades.
At his introductory press conference this afternoon, Welts was asked to list the positives and negatives he’s faced since coming out in mid-May. To his own surprise, Welts said, “nothing negative has happened,” and the reaction from players, coaches, fans, and other league executives has been nothing but positive:
WELTS: I can’t tell you anything negative because nothing negative has happened. … The reaction has been overwhelming, not only from the people I worked with, which I kind of expected, but … the hundreds of emails I got from people I don’t know – parents, kids, other people in our industry who are facing a similar situation. … I wouldn’t change anything about it. … I haven’t had one negative reaction. I was prepared for something totally different.
Welts’ decision was seemingly the first major step in a year that contained a marked transition in public expressions of support for gay rights in sports. Phoenix players were quick to offer support for Welts and gay marriage after he came out. Then, former Phoenix all-star and current NBA analyst Charles Barkley told the Washington Post he’d “rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play” and that, “as a black person,” he couldn’t support “discrimination in any form at all.” Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin appeared on the cover of Out! Magazine, in which he told the story of his gay older brother, and declared, “If anyone comes out in those top four major sports … I guarantee you I’ll give him 100 percent support.” Multiple Major League Baseball teams, meanwhile, recorded “It Gets Better” videos.
And while Welts insists his first goal is to build a winning basketball team (“What I’m about is running NBA basketball teams,” he said today), he acknowledged that he felt an “obligation” to bring the discussion about homosexuality into sports. “I think the whole object of what I’ve gone through this year is to elevate the quantity and quality of the discussion so we’re not afraid of the topic,” Welts said. “I think I’ve achieved a little bit of that. … There’s some kid out there who wonders whether or not they can follow their passion and be successful just because of who they are. … Who you are doesn’t prevent you from achieving what you want in life is a message I hope we can all send.”
Overlaid claims on Jerusalem, bisected by the 'Green Line' of 1967
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted yesterday in an interview with PBS that he could be open to negotiating the status of Jerusalem, a perpetual sticking point in the currently stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem, which is rife with Arab neighborhoods, should be the capitol of their future state. Israeli hard-liners claim the ancient city, which was unified by Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War, will forever be the unified capitol of Israel.
While Netanyahu has flirted with the idea before — particularly in instances such as now when he is putting the onus on Palestinians to come to the table without preconditions — his comments about Jerusalem often reject the possibility of ever dividing the city. Here’s Netanyahu’s exchange on the Charlie Rose’s interview show last night:
NETANYAHU: I want Jerusalem a united city for sure. But that’s the way I go — These are not preconditions for negotiations. They’re positions in the negotiations. The final positions come out after a negotiation. I don’t think it makes sense, and I think it’s just not wise, it’s even silly, to come forward and say well I’ll offer this percent, you know, with a decimal point –
CHARLIE ROSE: Of land.
NETANYAHU: Of land. That’s what the negotiations are for.
In the speeches he mentions in the clip, Netanyahu indicates that he will not accept a divided Jerusalem in any peace deal. At Bar-Ilan University in June 2009, Netanyahu said in a “permanent agreement,” one of Israel’s “needs” was “Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel.” In the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, on May 16, 2011, Netanyahu said he was guided by the “principle” of a united Jerusalem. And a week later, speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu said:
Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. I know that this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe with creativity and goodwill a solution can be found.
Netanyahu’s position, though, has wavered tremendously between the above softer-hard-line and the hard-hard-line. The closest he’s come to staking out the same position he did last night was in July 2010 before audiences of an American-Jewish organization conference and Fox News, saying that Jerusalem is “one of the issues that will have to be negotiated.”
But in both January and December of that year — six months on either side of his July comments — Netanyahu and his office explicitly rejected the notion of ever dividing Jerusalem. Two months before his July American appearences, Netanyahu appeared at a holiday called Jerusalem Day, celebrating the 1967 unification of the city. He told Israeli crowds that Israel “will never again allow Jerusalem to become a separated, bleak and divided city.”
On Jerusalem Day this year, Netanyahu again took the harder line, telling crowds that “nothing more holy to us than Jerusalem” and its “unity,” and pledging again that “Jerusalem will never be divided.”
With all the flip-flopping, assessing exactly where Netanyahu stands on Jerusalem — whether it will “never” be divided or is part of the final status issues for negotiations — remains to be seen. But his latest comments, to an American television audience, seem to indicate that he’s open to giving a future Palestinian state sovereignty over Arab parts of East Jerusalem. If that’s the case, his position matches up exactly with President Obama, raising questions about the attacks on the President by Netanyahu’s closest stateside allies for being a “divide(r)” of Jerusalem.
With most of the coverage of the Solyndra bankruptcy focused on the political theater in Washington, there has been very little response from within the financial community — particularly in the venture capital space.
I found out why upon talking to people about the issue. After reaching out to some of the top private equity firms and venture capitalists in cleantech, almost no one wanted to speak on the record about Solyndra. Many had friends who lost money in the deal; others just weren’t comfortable talking about such a politically-charged topic, preferring to lay low and stay out of the mess entirely.
But off the record, they all said basically the same thing: While hitting home runs in clean energy is still difficult, the market fundamentals over the medium and long term (i.e. climate change, need for infrastructure investments, dramatically falling cost of renewables, etc) are still as compelling as they always were. No amount of hype about the Solyndra bankruptcy or political posturing in Washington will deter VCs from addressing those market needs.
After all, venture investments are inherently risky. A venture firm will make 10 bets expecting 9 to fail and hoping the one big success will make up for all the other failures.
“That’s just the way venture capital works. I don’t see it likely or reasonable that Solyndra will cause venture firms to pull back in this space,” explained Ken Locklin, managing director for the private equity firm Impax Asset Management, in an interview with Climate Progress. “I would be surprised if anyone in the venture community pulls back in a big way because of this.”
But this sector is tough, and other experts think it could have a short-term impact.
Chu: Carbon Dioxide Is The Horse Manure Of Today |
Presenting the inaugural Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu discussed the priority of ending the national reliance on gasoline-powered automobiles. Chu reviewed the history of automotive technology, including the rise in American dominance in automobile manufacturing. “The rise of automobiles was driven by environmental pollution,” Chu said, explaining that horse manure had become a major problem in urban streets like New York City. “Carbon dioxide now is like horse manure then” — except, Chu noted, that carbon dioxide doesn’t have the same kind of odor problem that manure does.
Article I Section II of the United States Constitution specifically states, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.” But North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) would rather we just skip over that section and suspend congressional elections for two years. Speaking at a Rotary Club event today, Perdue proposed holding off on elections for a while so lawmakers can focus on the economy — a suggestion that’s breathtaking just by virtue of how blatantly unconstitutional it is:
Speaking to a Cary rotary club today, N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending Congressional elections for two years so that Congress can focus on economic recovery and not the next election.
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”
The comment — which came during a discussion of the economy — perked more than a few ears. It’s unclear whether Perdue, a Democrat, is serious — but her tone was level and she asked others to support her on the idea.
It’s not hard to sympathize with the sentiment behind Perdue’s remark. Because they have to run for reelection every two years, congressmen remain so fixated on fundraising and campaigning that they forget to be lawmakers and have trouble putting politics aside to focus on compromise and what’s good for the country. However, it’s a dangerous precedent to set to suggest we simply suspend democracy every time unemployment goes above 9 percent.
The serious, responsible way to pursue Perdue’s idea would be through a constitutional amendment. As the American Prospect observes, unnecessarily frequent elections contribute to Washington’s gridlock and the plague of never-ending campaigns. Extending terms for members of the House is a discussion worth having — but preferably in a legal way.
Gov. Perdue’s office has responded to what they describe on her Facebook page as the “hubbub” about her remarks. Press Secretary Chris Mackey said in a statement, “Come on…Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.” The Facebook page also helpfully defines hyperbole as “an exaggeration to create emphasis or effect” for those who might be confused about the clarification.
A good post from Nikki, in response to some of my writing, saying that it’s not enough to want more women writing and directing television episodes. She writes:
If we suggest that increasing the number of women ON television might increase the number of women BEHIND television, thereby effecting a change in how sexist or feminist television shows might be, we excuse men from the process entirely, except as Upholders of the Status Quo. Set aside the question about women behind the scenes and focus on the men behind the scenes, who are definitely still in power in the media and it’s that power structure that should be held accountable for the current portrayal of women on TV.
Amen. I’m a pretty firm believer in the carrot-and-stick thing, though, because it’s relatively easy for male creators to clap their hands over their ears when they’re being criticized for not giving us wonderful, developed female characters and just not listen. And it’s much easier to get people to listen when you’re praising, and for other people to see that praise and think “I want that!” So without further ado and in no particular order, 10 fantastic female characters on television who were created by men.
1. Trixie, Deadwood, David Milch: I know this list isn’t in order, but if it was, I’d still put it at the top. Milch’s prostitute-turned-accountant, pimp’s-trick-turned-Jewish-businessman’s-girlfriend would still be at the top. We meet Trixie at the beginning of the show when she’s been accused of murder, and watch her help another woman beat a drug addiction even when it means defying her employer’s orders; seek out an education no one ever gave her so she can have more options in life; stand up for her friends when they get married and grieve for them when they bury their children; and develop a new relationship. She’s always making choices. And when she takes steps backwards, we understand why, at the gut level. She’s empowered, but the show doesn’t fall prey to the trap that strong female characters created by men often do — that women’s liberation is purely a matter of will, not circumstance.
2. Alice Morgan, Luther, Neil Cross: Alice, who enters the scene when she murders her parents, melts down the gun, and feeds the remaining parts to her dog, is a certified crazy person, but she’s not a victim. Her attraction to John Luther doesn’t make her a nymphomaniac. And her decision to work cases comes out of a clearly defined alternate morality and worldview. Rather than setting her up to be judged by the audience, she’s a compelling — and sometimes very scary — way to see the universe. Read more
During a Republican presidential primary debate back in August, all of the candidates on stage raised their hand to indicate that they would reject a budget deal that included 10 dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in new government revenue. According to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN) — who was courted to run for the GOP presidential nomination — if he had been on that stage, he would have been the only one to give a 10 to 1 budget deal a longer look:
DANIELS: I thought it was the single best question anybody’s asked so far. Perfectly fair question. I would not have raised my hand. Now, I would have instantly been called on to explain that. You know, there’s no penalty for piling on in these things. So I’m sure that would have happened, but here’s what I would have said. I wish somebody would have said this.
I would have said, not that I’ll take the deal but tell me more. [...] If somebody’s got an approach that generates greater revenues, there’s a reasonable chance that it encourages private-sector growth — and I think that’s possible — I think it’s a mistake to close the door.
Daniels has — relative to today’s GOP — tended towards some level of tax sanity, telling Newsweek, “at some stage there could well be a tax increase. They say we can’t have grown-up conversations anymore. I think we can.”
But he hasn’t completely isolated himself from some of the extreme views of his party’s presidential contenders. For instance, in his newly-released book, he largely agrees with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (though he has since tried to walk that back, telling National Public Radio that he won’t use the term again).