Florida Gov. Rick Scott
(Caricature by DonkeyHotey)The Florida legislature approved $1.5 million to fund 30 rape crisis centers this fiscal year. But last Tuesday, in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the budget line item. A spokesperson for the governor said the allocation is "duplicative" because sexual violence programs are already covered in the $70 billion budget.
Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, doesn't see things that way at all. She said information she provided the governor?s office ?showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists.?
?Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen,? she said. ?We included quotes from the programs about the waiting lists and what services they weren?t able to offer because of a lack of money.?According to the council's website, staffing shortages plague the state's rape crisis programs and fewer than 10 percent of them have enough financial resources to provide services most needed by rape victims. Florida ranks 47th in the nation in the number of rape crisis programs per capita. Based on a statewide survey that used a conservative definition of rape, one of nine Florida women have been rape victims. That means one crisis program exists for every 18,000 adult, female survivors.
Most of the existing programs the governor's office claims to be duplications are education-oriented and do not deal with rape survivors' needs.
Dritt says the program was ?thoroughly vetted? in the Legislature and had the support of state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Heathrow. According to her, the program ?met the criteria? set forth by the governor for member projects.What the heck happened is that awareness of sexual assault seems not to have gained a foothold in the governor's office. Consequently, Florida will remain, for yet another year, on the bottom of the list of states for whom dealing with this crime is a high priority. And they keep telling us there is no war on women.
?We are disappointed,? Dritt says. ?We are really surprised and frankly stunned ? [and] are trying to figure out what the heck happened.?
If you're in the punditizing business, it's almost impossible to resist the temptation to make predictions. That's in large part because so much of politics involves furious but finite conflicts, where the outcome is what matters. Who'll win this next primary? Who'll be the nominee, and win the election? Is this bill going to pass? We care about these questions, and so it's hard not to answer them, particularly if this is the business you're in and you like to think that you know what you're talking about. The trouble with predictions, of course, is that if you make a lot of them, you're going to be wrong a good deal of the time. Which is really a reflection of what makes politics interesting: things can change quickly, there are always a huge number of variables at play in anything like an election or legislative battle, new personalities emerge all the time, and you just never know what's going to happen.
And there really is no system that punishes people for making incorrect predictions. Part of the reason is ideological: Let's say you're a conservative with a job as a Fox News contributor, and you always predict that great things are going to happen for Republicans. You'll be wrong plenty often, but in the end you're giving the network's viewers what they want to hear, so your job isn't in jeopardy. Nobody exemplifies this more than prostitute-toe-gourmand Dick Morris, whose predictions are legendarily hilarious. But you have to give Morris credit for one thing: he doesn't hedge. He'll just come out and say that Barack Obama is going to drop out of the 2012 race (yeah, he said that). He wrote a whole book before the 2008 campaign explaining that Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice would face off as the two parties' nominees. He just lets it rip, without a note of hesitation or shame.
At Salon, Jim Newell does a nice round-up of some of the predictions from the primary season that turned out to be the most off-base, from people saying Romney had no chance of winning, to seeing the formidability of the Pawlenty juggernaut, to saying Rick Perry would obviously mow down the field. I'm happy to say that while I wrote an early column touting a Michele Bachmann candidacy as a less ridiculous idea than it appeared at the time, I didn't actually say she'd win, just that she'd be a formidable presence. And for a while there, she was, in her own unique way.
U. Penn psychologist Philip Tetlock did a lengthy analysis of predictions in politics, and concluded that while most everyone is terrible at predictions, those who have one big idea that they apply to everything do far worse than those who incorporate a diversity of ideas and sources (the former are Isaiah Berlin's hedgehogs, the latter are foxes). Knowing how dangerous predictions can be has led me to be careful about tossing them around willy-nilly, but I've also noticed something else: People like predictions. When I've made an emphatic one, it tends to get more links and tweets. Whenever I see friends or relatives whom I haven't seen in a while, or meet someone who finds out what I do for a living, invariably I get asked what I think the outcome of the moment's political conflict is going to be.
But fortunately, if you turn out to be wrong, as I certainly have been before, nobody really remembers.
Despite his constant claims that he isn?t seeking a spot on the presidential ticket, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was in Pennsylvania yesterday, campaigning with Mitt Romney:
Marco Rubio took the stage with Mitt Romney and delivered what the presidential candidate wanted ? a jolt of energy aimed at an uninspired Republican base and a message of inclusion to Latino voters, who have drifted away from the party in droves.
Monday?s appearance by Rubio, a Florida senator and possible vice presidential pick who has become one of his party?s most prominent Latino leaders, drew cheers and applause from the crowd. But it was also a reminder of competing imperatives facing Romney after a combative primary season in which he moved far to the right on illegal immigration, a key concern for many Latino voters.
I?ve said this before, but as vice-presidential speculation heats up, it bears further repetition: Marco Rubio might be a talented politician, and he might even be a good vice president, but there?s little evidence he?ll help win Latino voters for Republicans. According to the latest national survey from Public Policy Polling, Rubio?s favorability with Hispanics is 35/42, a deficit of seven percentage points. What?s more, Romney?s support among Hispanics is virtually unchanged, regardless of whether Rubio is on the ticket. With the Florida Senator as a running mate, Romney wins 32 percent of Hispanic voters to Obama?s 67 percent. Without Rubio, Obama?s margin grows to 68/30. In other words, at best, Rubio holds Obama to his (outstanding) 2008 performance among Latino voters.
The most Rubio could do is energize Republican base voters?who seem to love him?but even that isn?t much of an advantage; conservative anger towards Obama is so fierce that they?ll turn out, regardless of who Romney chooses for the vice presidential nomination. Indeed, Romney would do well to heed the recent advice of Dick Cheney, who cautioned against ?political? picks for the vice presidency:
Citing the ?talking heads? who suggest that Romney must choose ?a woman, an Hispanic? or a somebody from a swing state, Cheney urged the presumptive GOP nominee to ignore such talk and make a governing pick. [?]
?The single most important criteria has to be the capacity to be president,? said Cheney. "That?s why you pick them. Lots of times in the past that has not been the foremost criteria.
Yes, Cheney led George W. Bush?s vice presidential search and eventually chose himself, but this is excellent advice. Not only does an experienced, ?governing? choice show seriousness, but it could enhance Romney?s administration in ways he might not expect. To wit, Cheney was skilled in the use of bureaucratic power, and used it to great?if mostly nefarious?effect. If I really thought I had a chance at becoming president, that?s the kind of pick I would make.
The former executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, who resigned last week amid allegations of sexual harassment in the organization, is now facing a startling new accusation from an ex-girlfriend. Rebecca Burgin says Jay Parmley infected her with HIV several years ago.
"And after Jay and I broke up, the biggest concern that I had was, 'what if this happened to somebody else? Would he do this to someone else?' ... My biggest concern is for anybody else that has had a relationship with him that he did not tell," Rebecca Burgin, 29, told The Daily Caller.
Burgin and Parmley met in Oklahoma, where Parmley served as executive director and chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party and also taught classes at Oklahoma City Community College. She was 20 and he was 32. They began dating in January 2004, she says.
"I met him -- I was a student in college and he was my American Government professor," she told TheDC in a phone interview. "Upon completing that class, we started dating. We dated for a little over three years."
In October 2006, when Parmley was a Mississippi state liaison to the Democratic National Committee, he became "debilitating[ly] sick," according to Burgin. A few weeks later, he told her that he had tested positive for HIV, and that she should get tested. She also tested positive.
Burgin says Parmley later ended the relationship.
"I got angry and I called an attorney and asked, 'what can I do, if anything?'" she said.
She wrote a letter asking for "a life insurance policy, and that I want health insurance coverage, basically, for the rest of my life." According to Burgin, her attorney took that letter to a meeting with Parmley's then attorney, Jim Frasier, who is now a Democratic National Committee delegate.
"Frasier," Burgin said, "came back and said, 'what we will provide for her is that she can remain on the DNC's health insurance and the DNC would pay for it' for -- I think that they said -- as long as Jay's employed there."
Burgin said the DNC was providing her with health insurance while she dated Parmley, and that the party's policy allowed employees to put one other person on their health insurance. She ultimately declined the offer -- "by that point, I was kind of like -- and excuse my language -- 'Screw off!'" -- and opted for COBRA coverage.
Jay Parmley resigned April 15, after emails surfaced referencing rumors of harassment at the headquarters of the North Carolina Democratic Party. In his resignation letter, Parmley denied harassing anyone.
"Let me be clear: I have never harassed any employee at any time at the NCDP or in any other job," he wrote.
I voted about an hour ago in West Reading Borough Hall where I served for 5 years as a member of Borough Council. The Constable greeted me, "Good morning, Mr. Morrill." The poll workers all said, "Hi, Mike." Then they asked for my ID.
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Nothing says naked ambition quite like sitting in a conference sponsored by the National Journal and profitized educator University of Phoenix, shooting the breeze on camera and accidentally referring to oneself as Vice President. Nah, Marco Rubio isn't an ambitious young buck or anything, is he?
Here's what he said:
"Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as a Vice President -- I'm sorry, as Senator, I'll have the chance to do all sorts of things," Rubio said today.
And even as he assures Sean Hannity he has no desire to be Vice President, he appeared with Mitt Romney at a campaign event on Monday. According to Bloomberg News, the short list looks like this, in addition to Rubio, of course:
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell -- who have all appeared with Romney and campaigned on his behalf - - are also regarded as strong prospects.
Well, there's what the country needs. A bunch of rich white dudes. There was a time where I would have thought Romney would cross Rubio off the list because of his baggage, but I don't anymore. After all, this is the Etch-a-Sketch candidacy, where all one has to do is shake the slate clean and make a new picture. If Mitt Romney can do it, why not Marco Rubio?
Everybody should be talking about this. The future of the Middle East turns on it, as does the entire globe.
If you don?t know anything about foreign policy, this is your primer. It sets the 21st century stage & will give you an idea of the real challenges ahead and how the U.S. must continue to expand the opportunities of women if we?re ever going to tackle poverty, and begin to tackle the scurge of war.
Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues under Secy. Clinton, the first role of its kind, has a classic piece. Seriously, Guys: Why Women Are a Foreign Policy Issue,” reads like Secy. Clinton’s platform for U.S. diplomacy, which is part of the Hillary Effect, in a lecture that the “guys” need.
The most pressing global problems simply won’t be solved without the participation of women. Seriously, guys.
[...] This is not just about the economy, though; it’s also about global security. In the 1990s, nearly half of all peace agreements failed within the first five years, according to the Human Security Report Project. These deals are generally struck by a small number of male military and political leaders shielded from war’s impact on daily life. Women, meanwhile, endure much of the residual violence and poverty caused by armed conflicts, and they bear much of the burden of rebuilding families and communities. They are often excluded, however, from both the negotiating table and the governments charged with sustaining peace. Less than 8 percent of the hundreds of peace treaties signed in the last 20 years were negotiated by delegations that included women, and according to the World Economic Forum, women hold less than 20 percent of all national decision-making positions.
One note about Verveer and trying to cover her work… A couple of years ago, in the middle of writing my book, I made a herculean effort to make a trip with Ambassador Verveer on one of her excursions abroad. Contacting the State Dept. innumerable times, never getting a definitive time for a trip, while running into a hamster wheel of assistants and non-ending non-answers, however politely they were pushing me off, I’d had enough. They won. I gave up. I’m fairly certain that if I wrote for the New York Times or even Foreign Policy this would not have happened. I was willing to travel on my own nickel, but still couldn’t get it booked. And it’s not like certain people don’t know who I am over at the State Dept.
Mona Eltahawy reminds America that the real war on women is in the Middle East.
How does @monaeltahawy explain the fact that the majority of Egyptian women voted for parties that don’t believe in gender equality?
I cover women around the world in my book in the chapter titled “Is Freedom Just for Women?” It’s a subject that more Americans need to engage. The freedom of women in countries around the world directly impacts U.S. aid and involvement. It’s important to note that one of the issues most important, access to reproductive services, is something the Republican party would strip from the budget, because of their phobia of contraception and simple family planning, which is so desperately needed around the world.
From Mona’s piece titled “Why Do They Hate Us?”
But let’s put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.
Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom.
What a sumptuous dish Foreign Policy has laid out on this one.
The Aytollah Under the Bedsheets, By Karim Sadjadpour
The Startling Plight of China?s Leftover Ladies, By Christina Larson
The Bedroom State, By Joshua E. Keating (Coming if Republicans have their way.)
…and much more.
This column has been updated.
Tom Hiddleston, who plays Asgardian god Loki in Thor and will be the main antagonist of The Avengers, pens a nice little reflection on the impact of superheroes on his own actorly ambitions, and the role superhero stories can play in exploring big questions:
Superhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored. In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out. Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings ? stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It’s the everyday stuff of every man’s life, and we love it. It sounds cliched, but superheroes can be lonely, vain, arrogant and proud. Often they overcome these human frailties for the greater good. The possibility of redemption is right around the corner, but we have to earn it.
The Hulk is the perfect metaphor for our fear of anger; its destructive consequences, its consuming fire. There’s not a soul on this earth who hasn’t wanted to “Hulk smash” something in their lives. And when the heat of rage cools, all that we are left with is shame and regret. Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s humble alter ego, is as appalled by his anger as we are. That other superhero Bruce ? Wayne ? is the superhero-Hamlet: a brooding soul, misunderstood, alone, for ever condemned to avenge the unjust murder of his parents. Captain America is a poster boy for martial heroism in military combat: the natural leader, the war hero. Spider-Man is the eternal adolescent ? Peter Parker’s arachnid counterpart is an embodiment of his best-kept secret ? his independent thought and power.
I don’t know if arguments like this will convince doubters like the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane to take superhero movies seriously. But it makes the point that these holdouts are a minority. All critics have biases, and perhaps it’s better that those biases be put on display by someone like Lane, who thinks that Battlestar Galactica is a waste of his infinitely precious time, or the New York Times reviewers who make their contempt for fantasy every time they write about Game of Thrones. I’m not saying that genre material should be turned over to reviewers who privilege science fiction or fantasy over other frameworks. But if you want to give culture that a lot of people take seriously a fair shake, it’s probably worth assigning it to a reviewer who is open-minded about it. Bad things can make a lot of money, or garner high ratings. But quality doesn’t automatically decline as profits and ratings increase. It’s a shame that some folks deny themselves great fun out of close-mindedness, and unfortunate when they try to dissuade others from that enjoyment as well.
The Kaiser Family Foundation is out with a new poll showing that the “increased public attention to the Affordable Care Act generated by the Supreme Court’s consideration of the law did not meaningfully change the public’s opinion of the law overall or of the specific provision at the heart of critics’ legal case against it.” In fact, despite the best efforts of conservatives and their allies to malign the law — respondents said they were exposed to more negative than positive message — and the relatively unfriendly coverage surrounding the constitutional challenge, support for the ACA remains split: 42 percent say they have a favorable opinion of the law this month and 43 percent have an unfavorable one.
While a little over half of Americans are telling polsters that the court should rule the mandate unconstitutional — a number that is unchanged since March — a majority still believe that the measure will continue to be implemented and support its individual provisions:
On the whole, these numbers may not paint the most positive picture, but given the coordinated multi-million dollar assault against reform and the relatively slow pace of implementation, it is fairly remarkable that public is almost evenly divided. And it suggests that as the benefits trickle in, the public will be at the very least open to accepting the measure more fully.
Thrice married GOP presidential candidate New Gingrich is calling on voters in North Carolina to support Amendment 1 when they go to the polls on May 8. The measure that would ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state constitution, expanding North Carolina’s existing legislative ban against marriage equality.
“This is part of the same great process this year that’s involved with President Obama, and that’s involved with the whole danger of what’s happening to our basic beliefs,” Gingrich warned. “There’s an effort by radicals at every level to change who we are, to change what America is and to change for our children into a future that I think will be much worse.” Watch it:
While bipartisan opposition to the Amendment 1 continues to grow, a recent Public Policy Polling survey found that 45 percent of North Carolina voters believe that marriage equality will be legal within a generation, while 41 percent think it will continue to be illegal. Independents and Democrats predict the change, while more than half of all Republicans say the status quo will continue.
The Obama campaign has spoken out against Amendment 1, but it’s unlikely that the president will directly address the matter when he appears before students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill later today.