Thursday Morning Open Thread: Debating ACTUAL Babies on the Senate Floor

Feeling the spotlight shift, Richard Cohen heaves a sigh of relief…

Teleworking is not an option in the Senate, which requires members to vote in-person. So Duckworth raised a rare question that split her colleagues more along generational lines than well-worn partisan ones, according to interviews Wednesday. Duckworth proposed changing the rules to allow senators with newborns — not just Duckworth, and not just women — to bring their babies onto the floor of the Senate. This, recalls Sen. Amy Klobuchar, did not go entirely smoothly for the two months she privately took questions about the idea and its potential consequences — diaper changes, fussing and notably, nursing. More than one senator joked that those things happen on the Senate floor now.

The proposal, which could get a vote this week, marks another moment for an institution that, at times, seems to relish its resistance to change. But with 23 women serving in Senate, some 70 percent of mothers working in the United States and a midterm election looming, no senator was willing to publicly declare he or she was a “nay” on babies…

“I’m not going to object to anything like that, not in this day and age,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., father of three and grandfather of six. He then noted that a person can stand in the door of the cloakroom, a lounge just off the chamber, and vote. “I’ve done it,” he said. Allowing babies on the Senate floor, he said, “I don’t think is necessary.”…

Sen. Tom Cotton, father of two, said he has no problem with the rule change. But the Arkansas Republican acknowledged that some of his colleagues do, “so the cloakroom might be a good compromise.”

Klobuchar’s answer to that suggestion noted that Duckworth is a double-amputee who lost both legs and partial use of an arm in Iraq, and mostly gets around by wheelchair.

“Yes, you can vote from the doorway of the cloakroom, but how is she going to get to the cloakroom when it’s not wheelchair accessible?” she asked…

But there still were concerns.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the father of six, grandfather of 14 and great-grandfather of 23, said he had “no problem” with such a rules change. “But what if there are 10 babies on the floor of the Senate?” he asked.

“We could only wish we had 10 babies on the floor. That would be a delight,” retorted Klobuchar, noting that such a conflagration would probably mean more young senators had been elected in a body where the average age of members tops 60…

It’s about access for women, and for people with disabilities, and for younger would-be legislators. I believe this is what the youths call “intersectionality”.

P.S. The bill has passed — “without dissent”. Wonder if the Toddler-in-Chief will balk at signing it?

Hero Pilot Brings It In

Yesterday a Southwest Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Dallas lost an engine. That’s lost an engine, as in parts of it flew out. The pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, brought the plane to an emergency landing at Philadelphia. The voice recording between her and air traffic control shows a total professional.

Shults was a Navy fighter pilot with a number of firsts in her record. She retired as a lieutenant commander. More at the Washington Post.

She lives in the San Antonio area. I hope they give her a parade.


And Open Thread!

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: We’re On Our Own

Almost missed this grace note — from Boston magazine, “Michelle Obama Is Not Running for President”

It’s simple, really: Michelle Obama does not want to be president, and so she is not running for president.

During a moderated conversation at Simmons College’s 39th annual leadership conference on Thursday, the former first lady discussed a litany of topics ranging from diversity to the state of American democracy—and put to rest any notion that her name will be on the ballot in 2020.

“I have never had the passion for politics,” Obama said. “I just happened to be married to somebody who has the passion for politics, and he drug me kicking and screaming into this arena. Just because I gave a good speech, and I’m smart and intelligent, doesn’t mean that I should be the next president.”

Obama emphasized the need to encourage qualified women with political drive to pursue higher office, rather than homing in on inspiring people like herself and Oprah who may have other aspirations…

Steel Cage Breath Match (Open Thread)

So, Joe Biden was in Miami yesterday, speaking at an event to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus, and he said High School Joe Biden would have whipped High School Donald Trump’s ass for disrespecting women. Here’s the quote, via NBC Channel 2:

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told an audience at the University of Miami that he would have “beat the hell out” of President Trump in high school for comments he has made about women.

“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'” Biden said, according to ABC News. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'”

“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I’m a pretty damn good athlete.”

He added, “Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.”

I like Biden, but I wish he hadn’t gone there.

This morning, Trump responded to Biden’s remarks via Twitter in exactly the manner you’d expect:

Maybe Anti-Cyberbullying Czar Melania Trump can weigh in here?

There’s no equivalence between Trump and Biden on women. Biden has his flaws and has made serious mistakes (Anita Hill), but his heart is generally in the right place. He’s just a few years older than my dad, who also has old-fashioned views on chivalry: “Don’t bother reporting a sexual harasser to HR, honey — tell me, and I’ll beat the living shit out of him.”

Trump is a sociopathic pig who sees women as objects to be used and controlled, which is infinitely worse. But there’s an objectification and lack of agency in the Biden and Dad-style impulse to protect women too. That’s part of the problem.

Alyssa Rosenberg at The Post wrote a column that outlines why Biden’s remarks were unhelpful. I recommend the whole thing, but here’s the concluding paragraph:

There’s no question that Trump’s policies and nasty, sexist behavior can do real damage to women. But the best way to fight Trump isn’t for Biden to remind us how tough he was in high school. It’s for the former vice president, and everyone else, to get behind the women who are standing up to Trump.

Yeah, what she said.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: You Get Back What You Give

Yeah, after last night’s post, I pretty much hadda. Murphy the Trickster God is mighty and manifold, but ‘subtle’ is not among His primary characteristics.

But to keep it positive, here’s Robin Givhan, in the Washington Post, “Michelle Obama wanted to gain the public’s trust. So she started with a garden”:

The occasion was the opening evening of Leading Women Defined, a private gathering of supremely accomplished black women organized by Debra Lee and BET aimed at networking and uplift. The former first lady has made a number of appearances since last spring — mostly to audiences on the lucrative convention speaking circuit, with attendees numbering in the thousands. This was a far more intimate crowd, perhaps a hundred women. And as Obama spoke, they responded with knowing nods and understanding smiles and the occasional exhortation of support…

During the wide-ranging conversation, Mrs. Obama, wearing the Gucci map-print dress that was such a hit when she wore it on “Ellen” in 2016, looked back on her 2008 campaign learning curve and how she came to realize that her enthusiasm and passion could easily be turned into angry, scolding sound bites. “I couldn’t count on my husband’s campaign to protect me; I had to protect myself,” she said. “They were using me like I was a candidate and supporting me like I was a spouse.”

“I had to learn how to deliver a message,” she added, noting that often meant not being so passionate and speaking with an ever-present smile. And here the audience murmured understandingly, because they all knew what it means to be called angry when really you’re just emphatic…

Once in the East Wing, she spent a year sussing out the lay of the land, strategizing and readying herself to roll out her “Let’s Move” healthy living initiative. She also grappled with the public’s expectations and with her new role as “the spouse.” With two Ivy League degrees and a résumé that included executive positions in hospital and city management, she was dismayed that people seemed to question whether she could handle being first lady. “You’re shocked that I could do this job?” she said with a wry chuckle…

“The garden was a subversive act,” she said. “It was the carrot. You can’t go in with guns blazing until people trust you.” And there could be no reprimanding. No finger-wagging. Because she knew that her finger-wagging, a black woman’s finger-wagging, would be both amplified and resented.

So she gave herself a bit of advice: Put down your finger and pick up the garden hoe. “What’s more innocent than a garden?” Mrs. Obama said.

She spent a lot of time visiting D.C. public schools during her White House tenure, then followed up by inviting the students she had met to the White House. “The second touch or third touch is when they start believing it’s real,” she said. It’s when kids start to believe that what you’ve said matters and that they, in fact, matter.

Recently, her days have been taken up with her memoir, which will be published in the fall. “Becoming” aims to explore how her ordinary childhood prepared her to do extraordinary things — the power of the ordinary. It’s about her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, about growing into her role as first lady and continuing to evolve — and about refusing to place herself last, which is not just an act of self-love but is also a public, civic, political obligation…

Listen To The Women – Anita Hill Edition

Jill Abramson goes back to reporting and gives us a long-form look at Clarence Thomas’s other accusers. She refers to Moira Smith’s story, very similar to Anita Hill’s, which was published in Fall 2016, just before James Comey made his news.

Abramson wrote a book in the mid-nineties about “ three other women who had experiences with Thomas at the EEOC that were similar to Hill’s, and four people who knew about his keen interest in porn but were never heard from publicly.”

A good case can be made that Thomas lied to the Senate during his confirmation hearing. Some Democrats, during the 2016 campaign, wanted to bring up the issue of his possible impeachment.

Before we consider impeachment, though, we have to consider how Thomas might be replaced. So it’s not for now.


Buzzfeed outed another abuser today. Lawrence Krauss is a professor of physics at Arizona State University and a well-known (among those folks, anyway) proponent of scientific atheism. He’s also been whispered about by women for a long time. Melody Hensley’s story is featured in the article, but others are mentioned.

Krauss is a cosmologist, and he is heading up a multidisciplinary effort on “the origins of the universe, life, and social systems.” I am a chemist who has had to deal with far too many know-it-all physicists, but my observation of physicists in positions like this is that they try to devolve everything to physics, while claiming a broad view. It’s tiresome.

He has denied any wrong-doing with women, but there are quite a few incidents listed in this article. I find them persuasive, along with the whispers.


Monday Morning Open Thread: I Am HERE for This Particular Reboot…

Justice Ginsburg was the honoree at a Columbia University event yesterday, being interviewed by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, and she was (as always) awesome:

Harlow and Ginsburg held a wide-ranging discussion that also touched on sexism during the 2016 presidential campaign, attacks on the judiciary, the First Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment and even blindspots on the current court.

Asked directly whether sexism played a role in the last campaign, Ginsburg said, “I think it was difficult for Hillary Clinton to get by, in the macho atmosphere prevailing during that campaign … And she was criticized in a way I think no man would have been criticized,” she said.

“Sexism played a prominent part,” Ginsburg said but stressed that she thought America was ready for a woman president and “will be the next time.”…

The Hill has the video of the whole hour-and-a-half conversation; Ginsburg shows up around minute 12.

And it reminded me — I hadn’t yet found a space to post the report from her previous speech, as reported by the Washington Post

The tote bag Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg carried on stage Thursday night had the words “I dissent” on the outside. Inside, there was a diary entry by German Holocaust victim Anne Frank pondering why women are thought inferior to men. The tiny 84-year-old jurist said America still needs to make equality explicit.

“The genius of our Constitution is that this concept of ‘We the people’ has become ever more embracive,” she told a reverential crowd of 1,400 that greeted and sent off Ginsburg with standing ovations. “Think about what it was in the beginning. … I’d like to see in the Constitution a statement that men and women are people of equal citizenship stature. I’d like to see an equal rights amendment in our Constitution.”…

… Ginsburg gets a personal kind of love from Jewish crowds, which was largely the case [Feb 1], when she filled the huge sanctuary of Adas Israel, a synagogue of the Conservative movement in Northwest D.C.

Introduced Thursday by a female rabbi who painted Ginsburg as a hero of the marginalized in a “dark moment” — ostensibly a Trump moment — the justice also was the subject of a prayer published this week by the feminist Jewish blog Lilith. “A Prayer for RBG’s Long Life” was read on stage:

“You have helped us remain clear — not just on the foundational principles of a nation, but on our Jewish mandate: to welcome the stranger and never to stand idly by. The Hebrew words on your office wall in calligraphy read, ‘Tzedek Tzedek, tirdof: Justice, Justice shalt thou pursue.’ You have. And we’ll keep trying.”…

Just three more states would be needed for full ratification. I know some people argue it’s a distraction, but women have been trying to get this Constitutional validation since 1923. If some people can demand a giant military parade to mark the centenary of the end of WWI, why can’t we demand that women get our own centennial celebration?