Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)



Late Night Open Thread: On the Lighter Side…

Some people just make a farewell phone call to their loved ones, but…


.

And a reminder (via Josh Marshall) from one of this blog’s forgotten chew toys, someone so lightweight I suspect she needs to be securely tethered on windy days…


To save you reading her self-defence: As a devout Randroid, she still doesn’t understand the concept of consent. Best I can tell, McArgleBargle figures that all sexual contact is a matter of “self-interested exchange”… insert your own “free hand of the market” snark below…



He Has Reached Rock Bottom, And Has Started To Dig*

In case you had any question as to just how skeevy — more, how fundamentally grotesque — was and is Roy Moore, here’s his reasoning on why sodomizing a child does not constitute “forcible rape”:

The Alabama Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear the case of one Eric Lemont Higdon, a man accused and convicted of two sodomy charges due to sexual assault against a four-year-old at Mama’s Place Christian Academy in Clay, Alabama.

 

Higdon had been convicted of both sex with a child under twelve years old, statutory rape, and of “first-degree sodomy by forcible compulsion” which requires that the victim face a threat, overt or implied, of  “serious physical injury.” That second forcible rape charge was overturned on appeal, and the question that Moore and his fellow state supreme court justices faced was whether that appellate decision was correct.  Almost all of the court had no problem working that one out:

Eight of the nine justices on the panel found that the appeals court had erred. Their legal logic was such that a 17-year-old’s sexual assault of a four-year-old was enough to produce in the mind of the four-year-old, an “implied threat of serious physical injury.”  The decision was reversed and remanded and Higdon’s conviction was reinstated.

Who dissented? That godly man Moore, of course:

“Because there was no evidence in this case of an implied threat of serious physical injury…or of an implied threat of death, Higdon cannot be convicted of sodomy in the first degree “by forcible compulsion.”

Four Years Old.

No implication of serious physical injury when a seventeen year old assaults a pre-schooler.  I wanted to put that last more bluntly, but I can’t. My stomach turns itself into a Klein bottle when I try.

What kind of man do you have to be to conceive of the scene between that youth and that little child and see no threat?

Roy Moore is not who we thought he was.  He’s much, much worse — and anyone who rises to his defense shares in his stain.

*From this time-honored list of British military fitness reports.  My favorite has always been “I would not breed from this Officer” — which, according to my uncle, a career man in the Royal Artillery, was known to refer to a fellow from a Guards regiment.  Posh don’t mean smart.

Image:  Diego Velasquez, Las Meninas1656-7.

This picture is not, perhaps, precisely on point with this post, but it knows the chords and is, in any case, a simply magnificent painting.



To all the ladies who want to control when they have babies

In other healthcare news, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty. The ACLU is not too concerned about it as it is mostly a photo-op but it is an indicator that the provision of no cost-sharing long acting reversible contraception as a key covered service in the ACA plans is at risk.

IUD’s are reliable. They are long run inexpensive as their break even point compared to hormonal oral contraception is between twenty and thirty months if we neglect unexpected pregnancy costs. If we include incremental unexpected pregnancy costs, their break even point is short.. They empower female autonomy in social, economic and sexual domains. They also prevent abortions.

IUDs currently are a no cost sharing service under the ACA by regulation. This regulation can be re-written through the normal rule making process. That process probably will not effect covered services for 2017 but it probably will have define what has to be covered at no cost sharing in 2018.

If you were thinking about getting an IUD, schedule the appointment.
If your current LARC needs to be replaced soon, schedule the appointment.
If you currently use barrier or oral hormonal methods and don’t want to get pregnant for several years, schedule an appointment.

Protect yourselves as well as you can.



Evidence based care in Medicaid

We want to do evidence based care.  We want to do things that work and avoid things that don’t work.  This sounds simple.  Let’s look at two very good natural experiments on unintended pregnancy rates:

Colorado:

    Since 2008, Colorado has successfully increased access to family planning services throughout the state, particularly for the most effective contraceptive methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.

  • The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has increased health care provider education and training and reduced costs for more expensive contraceptive options, enabling more than 30,000 women in the state to choose long-acting reversible contraception….
  • When contraception, particularly the long-acting methods, became more readily available in Colorado between 2009 and 2013, the abortion rate fell 42 percent among all women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24.
  • Colorado is a national leader in the use of long-acting reversible contraception, and reducing teen pregnancy and repeat pregnancies.

    • Teen birth rates in our state have declined more rapidly than in any other state or the nation as a whole.
  • The birth rate for Medicaid-eligible women ages 15 to 24 dropped sharply from 2010 to 2012, resulting in an estimated $49 million to $111 million avoided expenses in Medicaid birth-related costs alone.

More reliable and effective contraception was made available to Colorado women who had the choice to elect Long Acting Reverisble Contraception (LARC) or do something else.  A significant number of women elected to use LARC and the increased autonomy and reliability produced amazingly good results.

Texas

 

Reducing contraceptive availability led to higher abortion rates and higher unplanned pregnancies. Earlier live births have massively negative multi-generational repercussions for both the parents and kids.

The evidence strong suggests that significant improvements in quality of life can be made and significant expenditures reduced if contraception is made readily available.

And guess what Congress will consider to be a high priority:

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare.

Wahoo… the evidence will strongly support the hypothesis that this policy will lead to more unintended pregnancies, more abortions and far worse outcomes for far more Americans.

Evidence based policy making — Hoo Yaa



Why we can’t have success

The kids these days…

They’re more than alright… they, as a cohort, engage in far less dumb, risk seeking behavior than my cohort did at the same point in my life.

There are two major components of the decline. The first is that kids these days are far less stupid and idiotic and risk taking thrill seekers compared to twenty years ago. This would be Kevin Drum’s Lead hypothesis. As teenagers grow up with far lower exposures to known neurotoxins that impede judgement and encourage short term gratification, they use more judgement and think about the future a little more. They’re still teenagers but they are not stupid. Compared to my teen years, teens are having less sex. However over the past nine years, the amount of sex teens are having is fairly constant.

The other major component of the decline is far more frequent and effective contraception use. Guttmacher found that the entire decline in pregnancy rates among teens was the uptake in effective birth control utilization:

Sexual activity in the last 3 months did not change significantly from 2007 to 2012. Pregnancy risk declined among sexually active adolescent women (p = .046), with significant increases in the use of any method (78%–86%, p = .046) and multiple methods (26%–37%, p = .046). Use of highly effective methods increased significantly from 2007 to 2009 (38%–51%, p = .010). Overall, the PRI declined at an annual rate of 5.6% (p = .071) from 2007 to 2012 and correlated with birth and pregnancy rate declines. Decomposition estimated that this decline was entirely attributable to improvements in contraceptive use.

So the question going forward is whether or not we’ll see those trend lines break?

I think we will. The Federal government will go all in again on ineffective abstinence based misinformation. Essential health benefits will be redefined to exclude most highly effective birth control methods (oral hormones, IUDs, implants etc). Awareness of what works will decrease while access will decline. If we hold the amount of sex being had constant, that means more pregnancies.

I also predict that the older teens will see a lower bounce in their age adjusted pregnancy risk than younger teens. Older teens have some money, they have some knowledge of how to work the system and most importantly, the women who know that they are at high risk of unplanned pregnancy have had the ability to get long acting and reversible contraception (IUDs) to control their risk and maintain their autonomy. Younger teens in the Trump administration won’t have those advantages. I expect births to mothers under the age of 15 to increase at a higher rate than births to mothers at age 18.



Teens these days

Via the Incidental Economist a fascinating study from the Journal of Adolescent Health that attempts to decompose the reasons behind the continual slow down in the teen birth rate. Teenagers are having just as much sex at the end of the study period as at the beginning. They are just having much smarter and safer sex.

They found that that sexual activity didn’t decline. What changed was contraceptive use. Use of the pill went up from 26% to 35%, as did IUDs (1.3% to 2.7%), condoms (49% to 56%), and even withdrawal (15% to 20%). The use of multiple methods increased from 23% to 34%. The percentage of kids reporting no contraceptive use dropped from 20% to 13%.

This led to the PRI dropping 5% every year from 2007 to 2012. Further, about 94% of the decline in the pregnancy risk index was attributable to contraceptive use.

I would love to see a follow-up once the 2014/2015 policy years are included as that is when IUD adaption has significantly increased. Given people tools to minimize risk, teaching them how to use those tools to minimize risk leads to lower risk.

And now I’m double dipping on The Incidental Economist and teen pregnancy prevention programs as they also flag a recent study on the baby simulator doll program:

A number of people, and programs, have decided that one way to combat teen pregnancy is to teach teens how hard it is to raise a baby. They sometimes force kids to “couple up” in school and pretend they have a child. Sometimes, they even give them a doll – one that cries, wakes up at night, etc. – to bring home the point…
And… more girls in the intervention group got pregnant. In the intervention group, 8% of the girls had at least one birth, compared to 4% of those in the control group. Even after adjusting for potential confounders, the intervention group had a more-than one-third higher relative risk of pregnancy in the teenage years.

So not only are those baby-doll-simulators likely a waste of time and money, they may be leading to an increase in teenage pregnancy.

Scaring them straight seldom works.

Kids these days… how will us old(er) people complain about the next generation when they are way less stupid than my cohort?

Well at least we had snow to walk through uphill both ways…..