Note: This did not actually happen
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Crazy Town) has a new favorite candidate for the House, and he sure seems like an interesting fellow:
Allen Quist, a 67-year-old soybean farmer and onetime anti-sodomy crusader who believes that humans and dinosaurs may have coexisted in Southeast Asia as late as the 11th century. [...]He "went undercover," eh? Is that what they're calling it now? Too bad Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig didn't think of that one.
During his time as a state representative, Quist slammed a gay counseling clinic at Mankato State University by comparing it to the Ku Klux Klan (both would be breeding grounds for evil?AIDS, in this case) and went undercover at an adult bookstore and a gay bathhouse in an effort to prove to a local newspaper reporter that they had become a "haven for anal intercourse."
Quist doesn't just hate gays, though. He's not very fond of women either:
In one memorable interview, Quist told a British reporter he believed women were "genetically predisposed" to be subservient to men, pointing to, among other things, the behavior of wild animals.It's easy to see why Michele Bachmann would consider Quist her intellectual soulmate:
"But the Lord says, 'Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.'"Quist and Bachmann also share a particular fetus fetish:
Quist was a staunch pro-lifer who once argued that abortion should be classified as a first-degree homicide.Quist, like Bachmann, has also devoted years to fighting against public education, including this contribution to an online curriculum supplemental:
One section asks this leading question: "Did dinosaurs and people live at the same time, and why do so many recently discovered ancient art works accurately picture dinosaurs?" The answer is a resounding "yes." "The only reasonable explanation for the stegosaurus carved in stone on the wall of the Cambodian temple is that the artist had either seen a stegosaur or had seen other art works of a stegosaur," Quist writes. "Either way, people and stegosaurs were living at the same time."What's most striking about Quist, and his work with Bachmann, is that when they first found each other in the '90s and joined forces to "take down Minnesota's state curriculum standards, which they considered a gateway to a totalitarian society built on moral relativism," their brand of conservatism was considered, you know, extreme. When Quist launched a challenge to then-Gov. Arne Carlson (a Republican), even Republicans thought Quist was a nutjob:
"At one point," the St. Petersburg Times reported in 1994, "a Senate leader suggested he had an unhealthy preoccupation with sex, having devoted 30 hours to it in a single session." [...]But that was then, and now that the nutjobs have taken over the Republican Party, this once-radical Republican is now just another standard Republican on a mission to spread the gospel of stupid.
Mike Triggs, a former Carlson aide, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Mr. and Mrs. Gopher are going to think [the Quists] are damn weird." He dismissed Quist supporters as "zombies." The governor himself played up his opponent's under-the-covers ops. "Instead of prowling through dirty bookstores, why didn't he go out and change state spending policy?" the governor asked the Associated Press.
Mitt Romney flip-flopped on his staged flip-flopMitt Romney can't even fake a flip-flop:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday backed away from his support of adoptions by gay couples, saying that he simply ?acknowledges? the legality of such adoptions in many states.Romney's comments supporting gay adoption were designed to sound like he'd had an evolution of his own on civil rights for same-sex couples, making his opposition to marriage equality seem less bigoted. They weren't exactly a Sistah Souljah moment, though, because Romney has long recognized the legitimacy of gay adoption?it's just that most people didn't know it. Romney hoped to take advantage of that lack of knowledge by emphasizing his long-held but little-known view, allowing him to avoid looking like a complete neanderthal. But within 24 hours, Romney faced an outraged Republican base, so he flip-flopped on his fake flip-flop, accomplishing the rare feat of a reverse Sistah Souljah.
A day earlier, Romney, in an interview with Fox News host Neil Cavuto, had indicated that while he does not support same-sex marriage, he considers the adoption of children by gay couples a ?right.?
He said on Thursday: ?And if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child ? in my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that?s something that people have a right to do. But to call that 'marriage' is something that, in my view, is a departure from the real meaning of that word.?
Romney will no doubt claim this wasn't really a flip-flop: He'll just claim he never believed gay couples had a "right" to adopt kids, and that saying so was just a slip of the tongue. But in 2007, he told ABC News that he believed gay couples had a "right" to have kids of their own. So when Romney says he merely "acknowledges" gay adoption, that is a flip-flop from a position he's held since 2007.
So while Romney's initial goal was clearly to temper the bigotry of his position on marriage equality, staging a fake flip-flop by emphasizing a little-known position that he'd held for years, he ended up not only affirming the bigotry, but flip-flopping for real. In the wrong direction: a reverse Sistah Souljah bellyflop.
Worldwide heads of the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), military generals, heads of state from the alliance’s twenty-eight member countries will be coming to Chicago for a summit on May 20-21. The city will be put on lockdown all so[...]
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As you'll soon notice, I'm not E.J. Graff. She's been kind enough to give me the keys to this joint for a week, and I'm going to do my best not to put too many dents in it. (I won't bore you with bio, but if you're wondering who I am, here's a good place to start.)
You will either be alarmed or intrigued to hear that this temporary takeover has a very specific focus: sexual violence in conflict. Stay with me! I?m not going to flood you with statistics and sad stories until you curl up in a ball in the corner. What I hope to do here is convince you that there are things you, actual person reading these words right now, can do about the situation.
That said, a few factoids are in order to set the stage, so brace yourself. Rape is as old as war itself. The ancient usage stemmed from a conception of women as property, to be lumped in with the ?spoils? due the victors. This still happens today in some places, but the current relationship between rape and conflict is much more tangled. There?s the rape soldiers commit against each other, including in the US military. There?s rape as a torture tactic during interrogation. There are the many ways military conflict creates a greater social license to operate for non-military rapists, as in the story told to me by an Israeli rape crisis line worker, who found that every time the Israeli government engaged in active hostilities with Palestine, calls to her hotline plummeted, because it was considered ?unpatriotic? to worry about something as mundane as one?s sexual boundaries in a time of war.
Then, of course, there?s the deliberate tactical use of sexual violence against a population. This strategy, employed to destroy the social and cultural bonds of communities, (and, in some conflicts, to create cohesion within armed groups) has become distinctly visible only in more modern conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Today?literally today, Monday, May 14, 2012, more than a thousand women will be raped in conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in Sudan. And another thousand will be raped tomorrow. And on and on and on.
Had enough? Want it to stop? We can do that. The confidence behind that assertion is directly tied to the Nobel Women's Initiative (NWI), the organization that last week announced, in coalition with 24 other leading organizations, a global campaign to end rape in conflict. NWI is itself a coalition of women Nobel Peace Laureates?currently Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman, and (in an honorary capacity) Aung San Suu Kyi?who have brought together their extraordinary experiences in an effort to help strengthen work being done in support of women's rights around the world. These are women who have led the charge to successfully ban landmines across most of the globe, won sweeping women?s rights in Iran, ended a brutal civil war in Liberia, and other mindboggling triumphs. These are women who know how to make impossible goals possible.
I?m sometimes tempted to call the Laureates and staff of the Nobel Women?s Initiative a team of superheroes, but imagining them as otherworldly is counterproductive. What's crucial for me to remember (and, I bet, for some of you as well) is that they?re much more like Black Widow than any of the dude Avengers. What I mean to say is: They have no actual superpowers. They're women who believed that the world could be more just than it was, then started acting to make it so. There is no magic here. We can all do the same thing in our own ways. This campaign can only succeed if we do.
You may be asking yourself: With all that peace-promoting power, why would we just try to make combatants stop raping? Why wouldn't we try to make them all stop fighting entirely? For the same reason we have an ethical and legal concept of ?war crimes? in the first place: While we are still engaged in the work of ending war, a project unlikely to be completed soon, we have a moral obligation to reduce the harm that it does, beginning (but not ending) with torture. Which rape is a form of. Plus, much as a ?harm reduction? public health project like a needle-exchange doesn?t focus on ending users? addictions, but can result in some users engaging with services that do help them get clean, so too can the work of ending rape in conflict engage combatants in a process which may also help them disentangle from the larger contexts of conflict and militarism.
Bottom line: None of this is inevitable. Rape remains a public health crisis because we treat it like the weather: not much you can do about it except bring an umbrella and hope for the best. But rape isn?t a thunderstorm or even a tornado, not between two college students, not between soldiers in the US military, not at the border, and not in the DRC. How do we know this? In the case of rape in conflict, we can see clear examples of combatants declining to use rape as a systemic tactic. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers didn?t use rape as a weapon despite significant sexual violence by army. (I?m relying here on the work of Elisabeth Jean Wood. She?s worth a read.) In the modern Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there is no evidence that rape is used as a tactic against either side. If they can do it, so can everyone.
Want some more good news? The legal framework required to end rape in conflict already exists. A whole collection of UN resolutions obligate that body to act to end rape in conflict, and International Criminal Tribunals for conflicts in Rwanda, the Former Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone have established that sexual violence in conflict can rise to the level of crime against humanity, even genocide.
What?s needed to turn these rules into results is accountability. And accountability means people-pressure. And you and I, we?re people. The Nobel Women?s Initiative knows how to make our actions effective. All they want from us right now is to take a simple pledge. Let's do this.
Who says the age of American innovation is over?
There's a new entrant in the burgeoning concealed-weapon fashion industry. American Tactical Apparel, out of Houston, Texas, makes clothing for "professional door kickers, special responders, and everyday superheroes."
The brainchild of Brian Hoffner, a long-time Houston police officer and self-described "kind of a renaissance man," ATA offers Demin pants, khaki pants, and khaki shorts, all made with zippers for easy access to the company's custom covert thigh holster.
"There is NO BETTER WAY to secretly carry your pistol and equipment," the company says on its website. "These pants are engineered for battle, and for everyday operating. For warriors, by warriors."
In an interview with TPM, Hoffner said that after 27 years of making holsters, he's finally come up with a satisfactory way to discretely carry a pistol.
"It's been tough to fix, because the gun either bulges at your waist or you have to wear your shirt out as a cover... or it's pulling at your garment," Hoffner said.
According to Hoffner, his product has the potential to appeal as much to women as men.
"Women, because of their ergonomics, have always had a problem wearing a pistol at their hip," he said.
ATA items are not cheap. The pants will run you $149, and a holster costs $49. But Hoffner believes strongly that his products should be manufactured in the United States, even if that keeps costs up. Plus, manufacturing at home will allow him to do custom orders.
Hundreds of orders have already come in, Hoffner said, and the new products have been generating media buzz.
"I've never been a clothing designer before," Hoffner said. "With that said, I am now."
Here's a video demonstration of ATA's merchandise:
(h/t Houston Chronicle)
Today in Episode 2 of my new show, the Set-Up, I look at whether President Obama will lose votes for his announcement on gay marriage ... [...]
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I thought it was a principle of nature that a standard transmission is more fuel-efficient than an automatic, but David Sirota at Salon argues otherwise– ‘Is it Ethical to Drive Stick?’
I still think a standard is more fun. Not as cool as a motorcycle of course, but should get me a few points to offset the glasses and sensible shoes.
This previous Monkey cage guest post reported on new research from Fredrik Sjoberg suggesting that when Azerbaijani authorities installed webcams in some precincts in a recent election, it likely reduced overt forms of electoral fraud such as ballot stuffing while simultaneously increasing more subtle fraud such as falsification of precinct level results.
This result turns out to overlap very well with a speculation I made here at The Monkey Cage regarding Putin?s incentives for installing webcams in all of Russia?s polling places for the 2012 Russian presidential election. At the time I wrote:
An alternative explanation, however, might be that the Kremlin was seeking to avoid the mechanism by which fraud was revealed following the parliamentary elections, that is the use of individual of cell phones to capture visible fraud in polling places by polling workers who believed they were not being observed. If we assume that the motivation for local level officials to manipulate vote totals (e.g., to win the favor of the Kremlin) had not changed, then the webcams would provide a very powerful incentive for local officials to find other ways of manipulating results than the blatant forms of ballot stuffing that appeared online following the December parliamentary election.
This appears to be exactly what happened in Azerbaijan, which in turn raises the very interesting question of whether the Russians knew what had happened in Azerbaijan when deciding to install the webcams in Russia.
It also raises a very tricky question for anyone advocating for free and fair elections in countries with less than stellar records in this regard. Should webcams in polling stations be embraced as a technology that at the very least decreases one form of electoral fraud? Or perhaps should they be a cause for concern as a technology that is likely to replace a more easily observable (and easier to publicize) form of fraud?ballot stuffing?with one that is more subtle and less observable: the manipulation of precinct level results. Random digit tests are great for academics, but they don?t really compete with YouTube videos of ballot stuffing for convincing citizens of a country that their leaders have cheated. If we want to take this one step further, then we could argue for a variety of reasons (see this post by NYU political scientist Andrew Little here at The Monkey Cage for example) that by making local agents engage in a type of fraud that is less likely to be publicly discovered, webcams could perhaps make leaders more likely to engage in fraud than otherwise.
This is so cool it almost looks fake.
North Dakota sometimes seems like a hopelessly red state. Obama only won 45% of the vote against McCain. The last Democratic presidential nominee to win was LBJ. They've had a long line of Republican governors since 1992 and they have a Republican state legislature. Their only congressman is a Republican. Republican John Hoeven was elected to the Senate in 2010 with 76% of the vote. And the other Senate seat is open because Democrat Kent Conrad is retiring. But North Dakota sometimes has a surprise independent streak. Until 2010 Democrats had been elected in every congressional and Senate since 1982.
This year polls show a neck-and-neck race between an extremely well-liked and popular Democrat, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and a pretty widely disliked and polarizing Republican, Rick Berg. North Dakota is home to a lot of renters-- and it just so happens that Berg, founder of Goldmark Property Management, made millions preying on tenants. His shady property management company doesn't have a Better Business Bureau Accreditation-- the BBB site and the Internet are teaming with complaints about what a den of crooks Berg's company is-- unfairly withholding security deposits from almost anyone, including college students.
Berg was elected to the state's single House seat in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse that swept Earl Pomeroy and dozens of other Blue Dogs around the country out of office. But Heidi is no Earl Pomeroy and no Blue Dog. She's an honest-to-goodness Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democrat. I ran into John Nichols at a Nation event a week or so ago and he told me I should look into her because, he said, she would make a really good senator. Berg, on the other hand, is likely to be as dismal a senator as he is a representative.
Earlier this year, Berg was fundraising online and sending messages in the name of Janne Myrdal, who serves as the President of the Concerned Women of America's North Dakota chapter. What the email doesn't mention is that Myrdal is a member of CWA and CWA has a history of very, very extreme positions-- including their opposition to the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
In fact, Berg has cozied up to CWA, which opposes VAWA by issuing crazy right-wing talking points for... people like Berg to parrot. Like this: "Most violence against women is from ?boyfriend? (often a succession of them) not husbands or fathers (62 percent is boyfriend violence)."
And Berg is a cosponsor of the Blunt Amendment, which would take away basic preventive care from women for almost any reason.
That's not all, of course. Berg has a history of opposing measures that would protect and help victims of domestic violence. North Dakota is one of just nine states that allow domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. But Berg rejected a bill that would have stopped insurance companies from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. "Rick Berg was chairman of the committee that heard the bill then. He says its supporters didn't have any examples of battered women being denied coverage.?
And when VAWA came up in Congress, Berg, needless to say, refused to lead. On March 21, 2012, a North Dakota TV station [see video below] reported that Berg?s office said he won?t take a position on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act ?until all the provisions are in place.? Then, he changed his mind after Heidi began to rally support for the issue. "Berg's position on the issue came to light after Heidi Heitkamp, his Democratic opponent in this fall's North Dakota U.S. Senate race, hosted the first of a series of roundtable discussions on domestic violence in Grand Forks on Wednesday."
Rick Berg is Only Looking Out for Millionaires LIke Himself.
Rick Berg is listed as the 14th richest member of the U.S. House. So it's no surprise that he was recently caught on camera admitting that he didn't know the minimum wage. But he also has voted time and again to oppose raising the minimum wage -- at the same time he's voted to raise his own pay. He even opposed the concept of a minimum wage, saying, "You would say that government should control that choice rather than the employer?"
But Berg also votes like a millionaire. He opposed the Buffett rule. And he voted for Paul Ryan's budget that would give millionaires like himself another $265,000 in tax cuts.
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