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Entries in women in politics (10)


Senate Showdown Over Military Assaults | Marijuana Arrest Rates Target Blacks | Komen Cancels 2014 Races

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Military leaders agreed on the need to do more to prevent sexual assaults while resisting any and all attempts to institute reforms, including removing the handling of sexual assault cases from the chain of command.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the sexual assaults “like a cancer” in the military. But he said only the commanders — who resulted in a 1% conviction rate in last years’ estimated 26,000 sexual assaults — can change it.

“Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Frustration among the senators was obvious in a unified group of seven women senators from both parties. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, a Navy veteran of Vietnam, said he could no longer give his unqualified support that women are safe in the military. Note that 50% of sexual assault victims are men. Proportionally, women are more likely to be assaulted, representing a much smaller number of service members.

The Washington Post summarizes that “More than 40 senators are sponsors or co-sponsors of the proposals, several of which have overlapping provisions. A bill by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., would provide any victims with a special military lawyer who would assist them throughout the process. Another, sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, would require any service member found guilty of rape or sexual assault receive a minimum punishment of a dismissal or a dishonorable discharge. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a bill with provisions that require commanders to submit reports of sex-related offenses to more senior officers within 24 hours.”

Drug Use & Drug Arrest By Race

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A major study by the ACLU reports the huge disparity between the number of black Americans and whites arrested for marijuana possession. The report confirms that blacks and whites use marijuana at about the same rates. Among young people ages 18-25, usage rates are higher for whites.

Iowa leads the country, arresting blacks at 8.34 times the rate of whites, while DC arrests blacks at 8.05 times the rate of whites for marijuana possession. Nationally, blacks are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested. Graphs via Washington Post.

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Komen Cancels 2014 Races

Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post - Walkers in the The Komen Global Race for the Cure, an annual run/walk event in Washington, D.C. that raises funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, which was held on the mall near the Washington Monument, May 11, 2013.The Susan G. Komen foundation has cancelled for 2014 its signature 3-Day walk in Washington DC and six other cities: Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, the Tampa Bay area and San Francisco. 

Komen will continue to host the 3-Day events in 2014 in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Komen’s annual Race for the Cure in Washington took place a week later. It had fewer participants than in previous years — about 21,000 people, down from 27,000 last year and nearly 40,000 in 2011. The race raised $5 million in 2011, $2 million last year and about $1.5 million this year, although this year’s tally is not final, writes The Washington Post.

Komen has never recovered from the fury caused by founder Nancy Brinker when she unsuccessfully attempted to deny Komen funds to Planned Parenthood. The Komen 3-day events, which requires participants to raise at least $2,300, previously attracted a significant number of Planned Parenthood supporters. 

Avon’s 2014 Walk for Breast Cancer will take place in the same eight cities as this year. They are Houston, Washington, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Charlotte and Santa Barbara, Calif. Avon’s walk in Washington which took place in May raised $4.5 million, compared to $5 million in May.

Despite trademarking the phrase race “for the cure”, Komen gave only 16 percent of the  2011 $472 million raised to research vs the $231 million spent on education and screening. The actual value of mammograms was recently covered by the New York Times in Our Feel Good War on Breast Cancer by Peggy Orenstein. 


A Week of Powerful Women Under the Microscope, Starting With a Blowout At the New York Times

1. Powerful women under the microscope. I was surprised to read Politico’s recent story that quotes the proverbial anonymous member of the New York Times staff criticizing Executive Editor Jill Abramson. An incident involving managing editor Dean Baquet — in which he admittedly stormed out of her office, slammed his hand against a wall and then left the newsroom — provoked a discussion not about his behavior, but Abramson’s.

Significant criticism of Politico’s Dylan Byers media columnist ensued, leading Anna Palmer and Darren Samuelson to remind readers to: Sheryl Sandberg is bossy, Nancy Pelosi is old. Ann Curry is weepy. And Jill Abramson is condescending, brusque and bitchy.

Besides clothes, hair dos and wrinkles, perceived demeanor of women leaders is food for the journalistically opinionated and gossip mongers.

While Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was criticized for being too tough in ending the company’s teleworking policy, journalist Ann Curry has been criticized for being a cry baby — letting tears slip on her last day anchoring the “Today” show.

When her dismissal was attributed to her lack of chemistry with co-host Matt Lauer, Curry was over it.  lashed out, “‘Chemistry,’ in television history, generally means the man does not want to work with the woman,” Curry reportedly said. “It’s an excuse generally used by men in positions of power to say, ‘The woman doesn’t work.’ ”

2. Really? “Come to papa!” Ouch! 30 Rock just can’t escape the fallout from Operation Bambi. This is the code name for the plan that dumped news reporter and then co-host Ann Curry off the ‘Today’ Show. And the bad guy is Matt Laurer, who denies that he ever told a production assistant, “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman.”

In late March, New York Magazine’s Joe Hagan wrote an in-depth analysis Matt Lauer and the Decline of NBC’s ‘Today’ Show.

“Matt Lauer doesn’t want to be seen with sharp knives, it’s because last summer his co-host Ann Curry was discovered with one in her back. She was swiftly replaced by a younger, more genial woman, Savannah Guthrie. Ever since, Lauer has been the prime suspect in Curry’s virtual demise. Five million viewers, the majority of them women, would not soon forget how Curry, the intrepid female correspondent and emotionally vivid anchor, spent her last appearance on the Today show couch openly weeping, devastated at having to leave after only a year. The image of Matt Lauer trying to comfort her—and of Curry turning away from his attempted kiss—has become a kind of monument to the real Matt Lauer, forensic evidence of his guilt.”

600,000 women viewers have left the Today Show over the Ann Curry debacle and the show worth half a billion dollars in ad revenue has lost its first place morning show ratings perch.

Ann Curry cont. next column.

As the NewYork Times reminded us a week ago in ‘Who Can Save the ‘Today’ Show?, Ann Curry had spent 22 years of her professional life in the hallways of 30 Rockefeller Center. This article is particularly interesting because it points out that the boys club that ran the ‘Today Show’ just assumed that everything would blow over once Operation Bambi was a kill.

The press might be bad for a week or two, but after the London Olympics, everything would return to rosy pink normal. Instead, the red ink bled profusely as women said “count me out!”

Now the plot thickens at ‘Today’, with New York Magazine reporting that NBC management reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about replacing Matt Laurer. Double ouch.

US News asked this week in The ‘Top of the Morning’ Case for Closing the Gender Gap if a team of women executives would have dealt with the situation at Today a whole lot better than the boys club.  Brian Stelter’s new book ‘Top of the Morning’ examines the Ann Curry firing, with the author telling us: “There’s a gender gap throughout television and it’s very pronounced in morning TV since these shows are mostly meant for women,” he says. “I just wonder, if there was a more even split, men and women in the control, whether they would think differently about how they treat their anchors.”

Stelter thinks the show wasn’t right for Curry, but agrees the ouster was a total debacle. Over at Today, Laurer axed the idea of Kathie Lee Gifford publishing her seven pages of signatures supporting Laurer.

3. Salon interviews Comedy Central’s newest starlet Amy Schumer, asking her if women comedians will ever be treated equally. Schumer’s 2012 Comedy Central special “Inside Amy Schumer” premieres on Comedy Central April 30.

Asked if she still gets queried about whether it’s hard to be a female comic — given the inherent assumption that women aren’t funny — Schumer says ‘yeah’ in every interview and she thinks the question comes from laziness.

The ‘Mostly Sex Stuff’ comic continues: “And while I’m sure there are some people who say that women aren’t funny, I don’t think most people do. I think those things are perpetuated by journalists, and I don’t actually run into it that much.”

Pressed Schumer adds: “I think it has something to do with the general aggression toward women, and it being pounded into people’s heads that it’s just not possible for women to be funny. Even though we’re living in the times we’re living in, there is still stigma with women in general. People want women to be in a certain place. And not everyone’s comfortable with a woman speaking openly and honestly. When I read Gloria Steinem quotes, I just think that we aren’t that far along, or much further along than when she was.”

The funny woman says that the gender stereotypes are a battle that doesn’t seem like it can be won. Her focus is using humor, changing one mind at a time.

4.Could voters possibly prefer women candidates? Are we dreaming? But PA’s own Democratic guberbatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz, is named in Molly Ball’s The Atlantic piece arguing that women are hot political candidates.

With Hillary Clinton being heckled at a rally in 2008 by men shouting “Iron my shirt!” we must be dreaming that the author is on point. It’s true that boys club political analysts like Chris Matthews are now saying that America wants to elect a woman president.

“Voters want change,” says Mike Shields, the chief of staff at the RNC. “A woman candidate personifies change just by being on the ballot.” adds Democratic pollster Andrew Myers. in these intolerably gridlocked times, “voters believe women are more likely to compromise and find common ground and solutions, and less likely to argue and triangulate for political advantage.”

Both consultants emphasize that women are harder to criticize than men. Sharp-edged attacks by male rivals — particularly in these critically divisive times by male rivals — conjure up images of hitting a girl.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) launched the idea of this week’s dinner between President Obama and 20 women senators.  “I said, ‘As you put together your agenda for this term, if you want a bipartisan, core group of people to start moving legislation, a great way to start is the women senators,’” she said.


AOC Supports PA State Senator Daylin Leach In Run for Rep Allyson Schwartz's Congressional Seat

Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach announced his intentions today to run for the Congressional seat currently held by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) in Pa’s 13th district. At AOC, I’ve already declared my support for Schwartz, who is seriously considering a run for governor in 2014, against current Republican governor Tom Corbett. In fact, I wrote about her yesterday.

“I don’t think she talks about running for an office as serious as governor frivolously,” Leach told reporters today.  “I think she really means it when she says that.  I am acting as if she does, and I assume that’s what she means.  So I have a lot of work to do.”

I met Daylin Leach last spring when he so generously agreed to speak and play drums at our April 28, 2012 Stop the War on Women event in Harrisburg. I’m looking for the priceless drum footage, but it took me exactly one minute after watching this campaign video to reach out to one of Daylin’s representatives, who is also a good friend of mine. 

“OK, so I can do flip flops, too,” I said. She knows I’m exclusively committed to electing pro-choice, pro-separation of church and state Democratic or Republican women to office, until America’s gender gap improves in elected office. With Pennsylvania occupying about 46th place in the US in electing women, some may say I caved too easily in lending my name to the Daylin Leach campaign. What if a woman is running?

Not so. I am impressed with State Senator Leach’s ability to forge coalitions and alliances in our partisan-politics-ravaged nation. There are many insider Daylin Leach stories that I can’t share publicly, but I assure you that he is a person of deeply-felt principles, high integrity, commitment to middle class people and the American values shared by my readers. 

Leach doesn’t hesitate for a moment to confront fellow Democrats if he feels they are obstructing forward motion for Pennsylvanians. Nor is he caught up in the war of influence between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in this state, reaching out often to Pittsburgh and further west in search of consensus and the best decision for all Pennsylvanians, as he legislates from Harrisburg. 

I would never support any candidate that I believe answers to the Democratic boys club in our state or in Philadelphia. Nor will I support any candidate who wavers for one moment on women’s rights, as our Senator Bob Casey did in supporting the Blunt Amendment. I will not work with a Democratic party that hammers my good friend Kate Michelman for calling out Senator Casey on the Huffington Post for supporting Blunt.

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