GBS Hiatus

Hello, dearest fellow travelers. I’ve been compiling a weekly The Good, The Bad, and The Silly for you since August 6 of last year, and most of the time I’ve enjoyed it. I read a lot of articles online each week anyway, so for a long time it was a good way to reflect on the information gleaned therein and write a short summary, then share that information with the world. But lately I’ve been feeling some bad news fatigue. It seems much harder to find good news to help balance out the bad, and the bad is so soul-crushingly bad. I’m still reading up on current events and smart people’s analyses of those events, but for now, I’m not going to compile them in a GBS anymore.

This may change sometime in the near or distant future, and please let me know if the GBS was a regular part of your reading. In the meantime, I will encourage you to add the links under “The Personal is Political” to the right here to your own RSS feed or bookmarks section, and delve into these issues that way.

Leave any links you’ve collected (especially something uplifting! freezing temperatures have returned and we sure need uplifting!) in the comments.

Have a great weekend! See you on Tuesday.

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Did you all see how one of the Wisconsin Republican state senators up for recall has been outed by his wife as living with his mistress? Family values! And his wife is signing the recall petition.

Here’s a great, short video of young people standing up for Planned Parenthood. You can hide your head in the sand, America, but young folks have sex, so you might as well teach them to do it safely.

The Bad

Our thoughts are all with the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, and I do hope the nuclear power plants are out of crisis soon. If you’re looking for an organization to donate money to, Doctors Without Borders is doing important work.

There was a lot of coverage this week in the feminist blogs about the New York Times‘ reporting on the November 2010 gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in a small Texas town. The NYT eventually issued a sort-of apology. But I’m most interested in Akiba Solomon’s two pieces on the issue, which delve into the complexities of race and community involved.

Charlie Sheen’s public breakdown may be funny, but his frequent history of domestic violence is anything but. Anna Holmes suggests that maybe Sheen’s exes aren’t “nice” enough for the general public to care about their abuse.

Michigan! Cut it out. Allowing a governor to take over entire towns at his whim is not good policy.

Wondering where we’re supposed to get the money to keep NPR, Planned Parenthood, and the like? Here’s a great graphic representation of just how many tax breaks large corporations get that could be applied to essential public programs instead, and fix the budget in one fell swoop.

The battle in Wisconsin is still going strong, and Abe Sauer at The Awl is doing a terrific job reporting on not just the immediate events, but the full backstory of the main players and what’s at stake. I recommend these highly, but be warned, you will be upset after reading them, because damn people do some shady things.

The Silly

Jane Austen Drinking Game! The video is funny, too. Do I hear “Saturday night fun times”?

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

This moving, and sometimes funny, and very insightful piece by Dolores P., an abortion provider in training, is worth reading in its entirety. A great conversation starter for any of your more undecided or conservative friends, too.

It seems to be all too easy for the general public to forget that prisoners are people too, so it’s good to see these Georgia prison guards arrested for their vicious beating of an inmate in retaliation for the December prisoners’ strike.

Rinku Sen explains why it’s important to support Planned Parenthood despite founder Margaret Sanger’s disgusting views on eugenics (hint: it’s a vital health care source for millions of women and men).

I didn’t know where the phrase “women of color” or “people of color” came from, but here’s a wonderful explanation from Loretta Ross, a reproductive rights activist who was there at the term’s origination. Her reminder that this was people of color naming themselves, and not being categorized once again by white people, is a vital one.

Tuesday was International Women’s Day, and there were a lot of great pieces written all over the world from the occasion, some of which can be found here and here.

It’s funny because it’s true.

The Bad

Rep. Peter King is starting his own McCarthy hearings, this time focusing on blaming Muslims for all the terrorist acts in this country, providing no statistics to back him up, and ignoring completely other domestic terrorist groups like the KKK, Operation Rescue, and skinhead groups. Guess which groups are actually killing Americans year after year? Arturo Garcia has some great questions and answers about the hearings here.

As you probably read, Wisconsin (probably illegally) passed their bill denying collective bargaining rights to its public workers, when the Democrats who were supposed to be necessary to hold a vote at all were still hundreds of miles away. One Republican state senator did vote no because it went against his conscience and the will of his constituents. A site has already been set up to recall the state senators who rammed through the vote. Instead of doing anything to balance the budget or help the workers of the state, Walker and his friends have just ensured that Wisconsin will be mired in expensive and lengthy legal proceedings for possibly years to come, as the lawsuits come out in full force. Badly done, and shame on them.

JPMorgan is the largest processor of food stamps in the country. That’s right, the same company that contributed to our country’s economic disaster and thousands and thousands of layoffs, that’s the company that is making money by processing the food stamps of the previously employed.

The Republicans’ plan to save money by cutting the budget will likely increase unemployment and slow economic growth, according to studies done by, um, Republicans. Time to change plans, guys.

Ohio has passed its own anti-union bill, and also slipped in there, apropos of nothing, a clause stating that the state shall never acknowledge any kind of same-sex union. They banned gay marriage in 2004, but lest people try a workaround like civil unions or domestic partnerships, the Ohio legislature is heading them off at the pass.

Yesterday was National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, and here are some numbers on just how dangerous it is to work in this field. Also, an interview with a doctor who has been providing abortions since they were legalized in the US.

The Silly

“James Franco’s dissertation is not a ‘contribution to the field.’ It *is* the field.” And other fun facts about James Franco’s foray into grad studies at Yale.

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Obama has finally removed most of the provisions of the infamous Bush-era “conscience clause,” so now pharmacists can’t say, “nope, sorry, no birth control for you, I don’t believe in it.” They’ll have to do their job instead, which is providing quality care to all their patients.

Some good news for LGBTs in Wyoming: a proposed constitutional amendment to bar the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state was dropped in the House because it was unlikely to pass. (However, the bill to amend the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman is still pending.)

Read this heartwarming story about how the military is tentatively stepping out into this new post-DADT world and treating same-sex spouses of deceased servicemembers with respect.

Women are an integral part of the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and northern Africa, and it is quite inspiring.

A great piece from the former state treasurer of Michigan on why Walker’s destroying his state by not bargaining with unions.

The Bad

Walker is instituting layoffs, smuggling in ringers to his budget speech, falling prey to crank calls that reveal his dastardly motives quite clearly, hides the even scarier provisions of his budget bill, and just generally is the worst. Kudos to all the Wisconsinites who continue to stick it to him, including the protesters, the few media people reporting honestly on it (ahemnotFoxahem — how is that legal?), and the Democrats who brought their desks outside in the winter weather so they could meet with their constituents after they were locked out of the Capitol.

Gaddafi is doing his damnedest to destroy Libya, and staging an all-out attack on his own people. That’s the bad part. The good part is that Obama has called for him to step down, and the UN is imposing sanctions on him. Vive la revolution! And thoughts for those who have died and those who have lost loved ones in the battle.

Bahrain is also not handling its people’s peaceful protests well.

Military servicemembers have sued the Pentagon for ignoring, downplaying, and otherwise mishandling the thousands of cases of sexual assault reported in military ranks every year (and this doesn’t even take into account the unreported cases). Good luck to them.

In the popular understanding, women trick their men into getting them pregnant so they can keep them and have control over them. But the reality is that it works the opposite way; recent studies show that reproductive coercion is a big problem. One study reported that 1 in 4 women calling a domestic violence hotline said they did not want to be pregnant but their partner removed their access to contraceptives, pressured them to get pregnant, or forced unprotected sex on them. Amanda Marcotte takes a look at this issue and its connection to the shelved (for now) South Dakota law allowing people to murder those who provide abortions to their family members.

Okay let’s look at all the states doing horrific things in the name of “pro-life”:

The Silly

Happy National Grammar Day!

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

FINALLY, the Obama Administration has stated that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and ordered the Department of Justice to stop prosecuting those cases.

The Bad

The Wisconsin Assembly passed the despicable anti-union bill, at one in the morning and with barely enough time for Democrats to realize a vote was taking place. Shameful behavior from the Republicans there and it only reinforces the need for a united response.

The House did vote to remove funding for Title X organizations like Planned Parenthood. It will likely die in the Senate or at least stop with the President, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a disgusting move by the Republicans AND Democrats who voted for it. Also, the bill continues to have ramifications as it stigmatizes PP and men and women alike distance themselves from defending women’s reproductive rights.

So to counter this: Join up across the country tomorrow to support the Walk for Choice and the Rally to Save the American Dream. Find your nearest rally here and your nearest walking route here. Let’s get activist on this! We may have missed the midterm elections, but people are truly shaken now that they see what their newly elected officials are really like. Let’s take advantage of that momentum and get some real change for the better!

See you on the streets.

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Revolution is everywhere! Governor Walker of Wisconsin has said that the Democrat walk-out will only delay the inevitable passage of his bill that strips unions of their right to be unions, but I say it ain’t over til it’s over. Kudos to all the Wisconsin citizens and public employees who are protesting in the hundreds of thousands this week. (And I sure hope radio host Vicki McKenna gets fired for straight-up lying that liberals want to assassinate Walker.) Check out these funny–and biting–protest signs at the state capitol. Courage and success to you, Wisconsin workers!

Of course there are concerns about the military taking charge in Egypt now that Mubarak is out, but their refusal to gun down their fellow citizens despite an order from the then-president is an encouraging sign for how a military can truly be for the protection, rather than the oppression, of the people.

I’m putting this one in “The Good” because action is being taken — over 4,000 rape kits remain untested in Illinois. But we now have a law requiring them all to be tested and not remain languishing in evidence rooms, and the state plans to have them all tested by 2015. This will go far in bringing rape victims justice in Illinois.

The Bad

The assault on women’s bodies and lives continues apace: The Ohio “Heartbeat” Bill (which, by the way, a heartbeat does not indicate viability, if we’re slicing fine lines here) is expected to pass both the state house and senate. I like Melissa McEwan’s response, which boils down to: don’t pretend the anti-choice movement isn’t inherently violent, because it is.

Congress is voting possibly this weekend on defunding all Title X programs, which would render Planned Parenthood  bankrupt and take away the only source of health care for millions of American women. (Keep in mind that Title X programs include many non-PP community health centers.) Check out this fantastic resource from the Guttmacher Institute, which allows you to click on individual states and see how Title X funding is spent in those states. It illuminates just how devastating this defunding would be. Note that the restrictions on federal funding for abortions are already so tight that NO Planned Parenthood can use federal funds to provide abortions, so this bill would take away other essential health services just because abortions are sometimes performed in the same building. Incidentally, this NYT article on the bill makes a huge journalistic mistake in reporting that “[Title X funding to PP] opponents say only frees up funds for abortions” and not clarifying just how the money is spent. Saying what opponents argue without backing it up with facts is poor journalism. But the rest of the article does an okay job laying out the fight. TAKE ACTION: Call your representative TODAY at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to vote NO on the Title X provision of the budget bill.

UPDATE: The House just voted to remove all Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. Sign this letter right now and call your senator to demand that it stop in the Senate.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has declared emergency legislation. Oh it’s pretty serious business, all right — now pre-abortion sonograms are required statewide. So if you want to have an abortion, you have to look at a picture of the embryo or fetus first. Just so you’re sure.

Just because they pulled the proposed legislation doesn’t mean Arizona lawmakers don’t have a lot to answer for, proposing that hospitals be required to check if patients are undocumented immigrants before providing care.

Speaking of shelved legislation, South Dakota isn’t going to bring up the Legalize Murder bill just yet, but you can bet it’s coming back in the next couple years. (Oh my bad, the actual title of the bill is “An Act to expand the definition of justifiable homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children.” Same thing.) See McEwan’s post above about how terrifyingly violent the “pro-life” movement is, and why so many health care providers are scared just to go to their jobs.

If you liked the HR 3 Ten mentioned in Tuesday’s post, check out the full list here.

The Silly

Are you an English nerd? Do you also like old-school video games? Check out The Great Gatsby Game. (Thanks to Mlle. O’Leary for the link.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

The big news this week, of course, is that President Hosni Mubarak has finally conceded defeat and stepped down from his thirty-year presidency. While we celebrate the success of the people’s movement for democracy in Egypt and hope that Suleiman and the army won’t pervert the victory for their own ends, read up on the women participating in the revolution. One of the first things I thought when I read the accounts of “thousands of people thronging Tahir Square” was, “does that include women?” I’m so happy to see it most certainly does. Also, here’s a piece on how the Muslim Brotherhood is not a threat to Americans. Finally, I’m disappointed in Obama and his Administration’s response to this international situation. Here was a perfect opportunity to support the people of Egypt in a true democratic movement (rather than an imposed democracy ahemIraqahem), and instead Obama waffled, threatened to end military aid but never did so, and allowed the entire world to see just how committed the United States is to a despot just because he’s been friendly to American interests sometimes.

The Bad

Speaking of poor decisions on Obama’s part, his overwhelming need to be seen as bipartisan seems to have led to a despicable proposal: slashing funding for energy assistance to poor people. In this miserable winter. Look, I know we have a deficit and the budget has to be balanced somehow, but is letting people freeze really the way to do it?

If you have an ounce of intelligence, how do you work at Fox News and not bang your head against a desk all day?

The Silly

Ha, Malcolm Gladwell is such a pompous hack. This website makes perfect fun of him. (Thanks, Mlle. O’Leary!)

A lovely poem on Michigan, and on home.

Okay, so there’s a lot more news from this past week, not least of which is the horrendous HR 3, but this is going out late as it is. I promise a post on HR 3 next week. Have a good weekend!

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Governor Quinn has signed civil unions into law for the state of Illinois. It’s not marriage (or for that matter, allowing tax breaks and family rights based not on marriage at all, but that’s another fight), but it ain’t nothin’!

This is how you show you actually care about young people and their health (oh and save your country millions of dollars in the bargain).

The Bad

It isn’t enough that you can’t get abortions through publicly funded insurance plans; the Pennsylvania Senate wants to pass a law prohibiting abortion coverage in private insurance plans. Please contact the PA Senate to let them know how reprehensible this is.

The Idaho Board of Pharmacy said the pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for a Planned Parenthood nurse until they knew if the woman who needed it was having an abortion did not do anything wrong, since the prescription was eventually filled at another pharmacy. Even though the pharmacist refused to give a referral. And the medicine was to stop bleeding, which seems pretty time sensitive.

Oh and speaking of Planned Parenthood, that despicable organization Live Action is still working to get them de-funded and de-licensed. PP has even asked that the FBI investigate in order to protect their employees and the organization.

The always brilliant Maria Bustillos writes about just how easy it is for Amazon to delete books off your Kindle without ever telling you, and even access/delete the personal files you store on it. Did you know they actually went through and deleted copies of 1984 because of copyright concerns? I’m going to go ahead and call irony on that one.

The Silly

Here’s a map of the US that shows which states correspond to which countries in terms of GDP and also population. Texas has the same GDP as Russia? We already knew they thought they were an empire…

One of my friend’s coworkers has started a blog in which she posts a reused/repurposed item every day. She has an Etsy store too, in case you like her style. I wish she had some instructions on how to make some of the stuff, because I have a hard time going from concept to execution in crafts (I usually just end up covered in glue), but it’s still a neat look at making beauty out of the ordinary every day.

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

The Awl has a guy in Egypt who sends in photos and updates on the growing unrest there and the violent reaction of the Egyptian government (I believe 10 people have died so far). And it’s the young people who are leading this, determined to overthrow US-backed Mubarek in revolution. I only hope this turns out better than it has in the past. If you want to take action, there’s this Facebook group supporting  a boycott of Vodafone, because they complied with the Egyptian government in shutting down the Internet in Egypt.

A couple of great–and challenging–quotes on Dr. King’s legacy of non-violence and what it means for us today.

Let’s hope Obama and the Democrats stick to not raising the retirement age or reducing Social Security benefits.

The Bad

“Irrespective of one’s feelings about the healthcare legislation itself, that its repeal is being driven not by a grassroots objection but instead by vested corporate interests ‘dedicated to the repeal of the health care reform law’ is chilling,” writes Melissa McEwan. No kidding. Contact your legislators and support the Fair Elections Now Act! Corporations aren’t people, no matter what a wildly misguided Supreme Court decided.

Okay this is a bit longer but SO worth a read. It is a very simple, very scary explanation of where all that money we donated to help rebuild Haiti after the earthquake is going–it’s going to Billy Graham’s son’s organization, it’s going to evangelical groups, and in many cases it’s not going anywhere at all, as many groups are sitting on the money instead of using it to hire local workers, use local supplies, and get local communities rebuilt. The Graham/Palin connection is nauseating, as is the insistence of Graham’s group Samaritan’s Purse on proselytizing and celebrating all the conversions they’ve made–this, despite the fact that 96% of Haitians identify as Christian. Where’s the real need? And why are these groups avoiding it? (The Monsanto section is also disgusting and makes me want to stop consuming all corn products, except corn is in everything now.) I am so disappointed in USAID.

CNN should not be talking to Erick Erickson, whose violent rhetoric makes him a completely inappropriate media pundit. I know the country as a whole studiously avoided having a real discussion about cutting down on eliminationist rhetoric after the shooting in Tucson, but that doesn’t mean the discussion shouldn’t take place or that dangerous pundits should remain on air.

Put down that Chick-fil-A sandwich; they outright work against the rights of gays and lesbians and don’t deserve your dollars.

The Silly

Ha, it’s a guide to getting through so many social situations. (Via.)

Did you Eat a Toad & half for Breakfast? Do you frequently find yourself As Dizzy as a Goose? Our esteemed forefather, Benjamin Franklin, himself known for enjoying a tipple or two, thoughtfully collected over 200 synonyms for being drunk. Enjoy, and as they said in 1784, “E’rybody in the club get Nimptopsical!”

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

Oof, what a week. Even The Good is all silver linings in big, dark clouds. Here’s to a better week next time!

Don’t forget that next week we will be treated to a THREE-DAY blogging extravaganza from Chicago playwright and producer Rory Leahy. Tune in Tuesday!

The Good

Gabrielle Giffords is being moved to a rehab hospital. Best wishes for her recovery. (More on the shooting here.)

The Supreme Court doesn’t want to listen to anti-gay activists who want to overturn DC’s gay marriage law. I’m pleasantly surprised.

A clear breakdown of what’s been going on in Tunisia for the past couple weeks (although it is a bit old so the last few days aren’t on there).

A teenager in New England lays out the many reasons her high school’s “No Touching” policy isn’t just stupid, but dangerous. Good for her!

The Bad

The Scott sisters are finally being freed, but not because their clearly wrongful conviction is being overturned; no, Republican Governor Barbour (who will run for president in 2012) just indefinitely suspended their sentences. Oh and he required one sister donate a kidney to the other sister in order for them to be released, which violates organ transplant law. Nordette Adams has a wonderful article on how bittersweet the Scott sisters’ release is.

So all those homes that the banks are still insisting on foreclosing on? They’re not doing anything with them. They’re boarding them up and walking away. We could have people in homes and working out different payment plans or we could evict thousands of families and get cash for banks now; we knew this already, but to see evidence that the banks aren’t even trying to turn those around, that the possibility of those houses becoming homes in the future is just discarded, is infuriating. The article also points out that of course poorer, majority black neighborhoods are experiencing these walkaways at a far higher rate than other neighborhoods. (Thanks to Mike for the link.)

The Vatican explicitly told Irish Catholic bishops not to report all child abuse cases to the police. I imagine it must be really hard to remain part of a church that so clearly and consistently does not have your own children’s best interests at heart. (And keep in mind this memo was from 1997, when the soon-to-be-sainted and generally beloved John Paul II was in charge.)

We joke about the days the machines will rule us, but good grief this is a terrifying article on how the militarized machines really are becoming more populous and less controllable. Here’s a short round-up of the scariest quotes.

The Silly

Some corrections of misattributed or forgotten quotes — surprise! A lot of women said famous things but they aren’t famous for saying them. Not on this list is my favorite misattributed quote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” which is not Shakespeare as so many suppose, but rather from a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.