Friday Morning Open Thread: Rile Up the Revanchists

Eugene Robinson, at the Washington Post, pokes the snake…

Conservatives should be delighted that Harriet Tubman’s likeness will grace the $20 bill. She was a Republican, after all, and a pious Christian. And she routinely exercised her Second Amendment right to carry a gun, which she was ready to use against anyone who stood in her way — or any fugitive slave having second thoughts. On her long road to freedom, there was no turning back…

Critics who polluted social media with invective after Lew’s announcement seemed to look past Tubman’s deeds and focus on her identity. Yes, she was a black woman. If anyone can’t deal with that fact, and doesn’t want to use the new bills when they finally come out, feel free to send them to me…

Alyssa Rosenberg, the Post‘s popcult critic, also reports:

… You have to go back to 1978 to find a full-length treatment of Tubman’s life, when Cicely Tyson and Jean Foster played Tubman at different points in her life in the two-part (and unfortunately treacly) NBC miniseries “A Woman Called Moses.” Alfre Woodard played Tubman twice in the 1990s, once in a larger project about the Underground Railroad, and a second time in a children’s show. CCH Pounder portrayed Tubman in the satire show “Histeria!”…

A number of small independent movies have taken stabs at Tubman. But the biggest potential take on the Underground Railroad conductor and Union spy comes from a potentially unexpected quarter: Last year, “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin teamed up with Viola Davis and “John Adams” writer Kirk Ellis to adapt Kate Clifford Larson’s Tubman biography “Bound for the Promised Land” for HBO Films.

When I reached Ellin yesterday, he told me that Ellis was at work on the script and that he hoped they would be able to shoot the movie during one of Davis’s hiatuses from “How to Get Away With Murder.” Ellin fell in love with Larson’s book when he read it and was taken aback at how little the people he talked to seemed to know about Tubman, who he believes should be an internationally recognized figure…

Apart from admiring strong women who take no guff, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Yay for Harriet Tubman!

As a matter of fact, yes, I was extremely pleased to hear that Harriet Tubman will get a little more of the recognition she deserves. The implementation of the new currency… well, it’s a horse created by committee, so it was never liable to be an elegant process. History so seldom is.

While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent “to bring to life” the national monuments depicted there.

The picture of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill would be replaced with a depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building, along with portraits of five suffrage leaders: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who in more recent years was on an unpopular $1 coin until minting ceased.

On the flip side of the $5 bill, the Lincoln Memorial would remain, but as the backdrop for the 1939 performance there of Marian Anderson, the African-American classical singer, after she was barred from singing at the segregated Constitution Hall nearby. Sharing space on the rear would be images of Eleanor Roosevelt, who arranged Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1963 delivered his “I have a dream” speech from its steps.

The final redesigns will be unveiled in 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s suffrage, and will not go into wide circulation until later in the decade, starting with the new $10 note. The unexpectedly ambitious proposals reflect Mr. Lew’s tortuous attempt to expedite the process and win over critics who have lodged conflicting demands, pitting mainly women’s advocates against Hamiltonians newly empowered by the unlikely success of their hero’s story on Broadway….

Harriet Tubman spent some time in Boston, because of course she would have, so the local news stations are big fans. WCBV5/ABC was happy to remind everyone that a local girl sparked the current movement (Wednesday was her eleventh birthday!). WBZ/CBS had a clip on the South End settlement center founded by Tubman and still in business. I’ve put the embed below the fold, along with some bonus twitter snark, because commentors using some browsers have complained about video invisibility and/or autoplay in the past.
Apart from celebrating small victories, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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Trump Continues Female Voter Outreach — Updated

Via Bloomberg, Trump, who once described himself as “very pro-choice” but now claims to be “very pro-life,” said women who have illegal abortions should be punished in a manner to be determined later:

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall to be aired later, host Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his anti-abortion position, repeatedly asking him whether abortion should be punished if it is outlawed. “This is not something you can dodge.”

“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump answered. “How about you?” Matthews asked.

“I would say it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you going to send them to jail?” Trump said. “I’m asking you,” Matthews said.

“I am pro-life,” Trump said. Asked how a ban would actually work, Trump said, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it,” Trump said.

Matthews then pressed Trump on whether he believes there should be punishment for abortion if it were illegal.

“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding. Trump said the punishment would “have to be determined.”

As discussed this morning, there’s no logic or coherence to this or any other position Trump espouses because it’s not grounded in anything other than his ardent desire to make Lady Liberty his next trophy wife.

Will the Republican primary voters figure this shit out before Trump secures the nomination and choose a real forced birther over the fake one? Does it even matter?


Per a tweet from The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, the Trump campaign issued a statement walking back the earlier call for punishing abortion sluts:

Also, to clarify: Some of y’all made a good point (as Cole did on Twitter) when you noted that it’s morally consistent for people who run around shrieking that abortion is murder to want to hold the woman who is complicit in infanticide (as the forced birthers see it) accountable. But it’s politically stupid to say that out loud, which is why most candidates aren’t dumb enough to go there. And it’s inconsistent with Trump’s other positions on abortion, i.e., exceptions for rape, incest, etc.

Doesn’t matter who staffs the bureaucracy: Safe access to abortion edition

The FDA released a new approved utilization regime for Mifepristone, a medication used to induce first trimester abortions:

Mifeprex is approved, in a regimen with misoprostol, to end a pregnancy through 70 days gestation (70 days or less since the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period).  The approved Mifeprex dosing regimen is:

  • On Day One: 200 mg of Mifeprex taken by mouth

  • 24 to 48 hours after taking Mifeprex: 800 mcg of misoprostol taken buccally (in the cheek pouch), at a location appropriate for the patient

  • About seven to fourteen days after taking Mifeprex: follow-up with the healthcare provider


From Medscape, a description of the previous FDA regime:

Numerous protocols have been studied and are in use, but only 1 has been approved by the FDA.( Table 3 and Table 4 ). The FDA-approved regimen can be initiated up to 49 days after the first day of the LMP and consists of mifepristone 600 mg orally on day 1, misoprostol 400 mcg orally provided at the doctor’s office on day 3, and a follow-up appointment on days 12-20. This protocol is 92% effective in inducing a complete abortion.[12,13] It is hoped that studies using different variations of the FDA-approved regimen will lead to expanded options that are safe and reduced costs.

There are a couple of major changes here.  The first is the dose for Mifeprex went down and the second round medication dosagage went up.  That may or may not be clinically important.  From a policy perspective there are three major changes.

The first is that the FDA allowed window to have a medical abortion goes from 7 weeks after the last day of the woman’s menstrual cycle to 10 weeks.  This gives women a lot more flexibility and decision time from the point where she knows she is pregnant to the point where the least invasive option can is no longer FDA approved.

Secondly, the window for the follow-up dosage expands; again this is flexibility which means compliance and follow-up is easier.

More importantly, the change in location for where that second dose is administered is critical.  Previously, that second dose was to be down at the doctor’s office.  Now it is as a location appropriate for the patient.  That is massively more flexible as it means an individual could take the second pill home with her.

Why is this important?  It is a counter-move to the proliferation of TRAP anti-abortion access laws as Think Progress explains:

anti-abortion lawmakers — who have mounted an incremental strategy based on chipping away at abortion from all angles — were quick to exploit the discrepancybetween the official FDA label and the real-world medical practice. States started passing laws requiring doctors to stick to the outdated FDA method of prescribing the abortion pill. It was easy for politicians to misleadingly argue that they were simply interested in keeping women safe and ensuring that abortion patients aren’t taking dangerous, unregulated drugs.

This reduces practical restrictions on pharmaceutical abortion access by reducing the number of trips needed while also expanding the time option space.  As a side note, it allows clinics a little more flexibility to cope with other TRAP laws as some of the current surgical abortions in restrictionist states can be transferred to pharmaceutical abortions which will free up staff and appointment slots to handle more misogynistic bullshit.

So staffing the federal bureaucracy matters.

Let’s keep that in mind for November!

The Oink Factor

chill women

Congrats to Senator Bernie Sanders for his trio of yoooodge caucus victories yesterday! It’ll be interesting to see how the primary shakes out in places like Pennsylvania and New York, the latter of which Sanders and Clinton can both plausibly claim as home turf.

Interesting piece at TPM from Josh Marshall about the likelihood that women voters will hand Trump a crushing defeat if he’s the nominee. I think Marshall is onto something.

Nothing is certain in this wild and weird election year. But bone-deep misogyny is one of the few things Trump has been consistent about throughout his career. And if it turns out that a woman is all that stands between him and the ultimate power-grab, I don’t think he has the discipline to avoid going full-blown sexist pig. It’s his nature.

Anyhoo. Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Did you get anything good in your baskets?

Open thread!

Election Confession

hrc shouting

You know how sometimes you’re faced with a really hard choice where the pros and cons seem even and you just can’t make up your mind? And then you flip a coin, and while your quarter is spinning in the air, you realize which outcome you’re rooting for, and that’s how you make your decision?

That’s how picking a candidate for tomorrow’s primary has been for me this year. I like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both a lot and would happily vote for either one in the general. I’ve donated small sums to both candidates, watched most of the debates and followed their campaigns closely. Both are great candidates, IMO. Read more

Significant Read: “She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’”

A lot of white people were stunned by the sheer viciousness of the racist revanchist assaults on President Obama. I believe a lot of men are going to be equally stunned by the crudity and volume of the assaults on future President Hillary. A. Hope Jahren, in the NYTimes:

OVER the past two decades as a professor, I’ve grown thousands of plants, studying how their biology shifts in response to our changing environment. Soon I’ll begin to design and build my fourth laboratory; I’ll teach classes and take on more staff members, as I do every year. Like all professors, I also do a lot of extra jobs for which I was never trained, such as advising former students as they navigate the wider world. Last year, after one of my most talented students left to start her next adventure, she would text me now and then: “This is such a great place,” “I am learning so much here” and “I know his is where I am supposed to be.”

Then, a month ago, she wrote and asked me what to do. She forwarded an email she had received from a senior colleague that opened, “Can I share something deeply personal with you?” Within the email, he detonates what he described as a “truth bomb”: “All I know is that from the first day I talked to you, there hadn’t been a single day or hour when you weren’t on my mind.” He tells her she is “incredibly attractive” and “adorably dorky.” He reminds her, in detail, of how he has helped her professionally: “I couldn’t believe the things I was compelled to do for you.” He describes being near her as “exhilarating and frustrating at the same time” and himself as “utterly unable to get a grip” as a result. He closes by assuring her, “That’s just the way things are and you’re gonna have to deal with me until one of us leaves.”

Women are no longer a minority within higher education. According to the most recent statistics released by Unesco, women’s enrollment in graduate education in the United States has been greater than men’s for each of the last 30 years; as of 2012, there were 13 women enrolled for every 10 men. Yet, every school year, science, technology, engineering and math programs — known as the STEM fields — shed women the way the trees on campus lose their leaves in the fall…

In the rare case when a female scientist becomes a faculty member, she finds herself invested in the very system that is doing the weeding, and soon recognizes that sexual harassment is one of the sharpest tools in the shed. My own experiences as a student, scientist and mentor lead me to believe that such harassment is widespread. Few studies exist, but in a survey of 191 female fellowship recipients published in 1995, 12 percent indicated that they had been sexually harassed as a student or early professional. My experiences have also convinced me that sexual harassment is very rarely publicly punished after it is reported, and then only after a pattern of relatively egregious offenses.

The evasion of justice within academia is all the more infuriating because the course of sexual harassment is so predictable. Since I started writing about women and science, my female colleagues have been moved to share their stories with me; my inbox is an inadvertent clearinghouse for unsolicited love notes. Sexual harassment in science generally starts like this: A woman (she is a student, a technician, a professor) gets an email and notices that the subject line is a bit off: “I need to tell you,” or “my feelings.” The opening lines refer to the altered physical and mental state of the author: “It’s late and I can’t sleep” is a favorite, though “Maybe it’s the three glasses of cognac” is popular as well…

The comments over there, of course, are a thesis on Margaret Atwood’s quote: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

And keep in mind — these male scientists are obviously not “stupid” or “ignorant” individuals — they’re just as unconscious of their own sexism as a fish is of the water through which it swims.