Photo of the day

From a rather interesting and odd Reuters compilation of Chinese female bodyguard training:

An instructor from the Tianjiao Special Guard-Security Consultant Ltd. Co, smashes a bottle over a female recruit's head during a training session for China's first female bodyguards in Beijing, January 13, 2012. REUTERS-David Gray

An instructor from the Tianjiao Special Guard/Security Consultant Ltd. Co, smashes a bottle over a female recruit’s head during a training session for China’s first female bodyguards in Beijing, January 13, 2012. 
REUTERS/David Gray

Republicans v. Griswold

One of my favorite Supreme Court cases to talk about is Griswold v. Connecticut (and I always enjoy making “National Lampoon’s Vacation” jokes when I do) this 1965 case found a right to privacy in the Bill of Rights (correctly, I believe) based on the totality of our protections and the idea that it is basically abhorrent that the government should be able to tell you that you cannot use birth control.  In fact, the Connecticut law involved prevented married persons from purchasing birth control (a later decision extended this principle to all persons).  I’ve yet to have a student argue that this case was wrongly decided.  Yet, Griswold is somewhat ripe for political contreversy, as, in many ways, it provides the key philosophical underpinnings for Roe v. Wade.  Nonetheless, generally speaking, even Republicans don’t attack Griswold (Americans do love their birth control– even Americans with 4 kids).

By way of that long preface, Jeffrey Toobin has  a nice piece in the New Yorker about Romney and Santorum taking on Griswold:

However, when pressed by George Stephanopoulos in the debate Saturday night, Romney went beyond mere opposition to Roe. He said he thought Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that first made explicit the right to privacy, was also wrong. “I don’t believe they decided that correctly,” Romney said. In this, the front-runner was eagerly seconded by Rick Santorum, who said the Justices “created through a penumbra of rights a new right to privacy that was not in the Constitution.”…

Roe has long been controversial, of course. But Griswold, largely, has not. For example, while John Roberts and Samuel Alito were cagey in their references to Roe in their confirmation testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, both of them readily embraced Griswold as a settled precedent of the Court. This is understandable. It is chilling to believe that the Constitution could allow a state to ban married couples from buying birth control. (A few years after Griswold, in a 1972 case called Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Court said states could not ban unmarried people from buying birth control, either.)…

And that is what makes Romney and Santorum’s criticism of Griswold so troubling. Over the years the modern Republican Party has reflected both libertarian and authoritarian tendencies. Both survive, in a way. When it comes to taxes and regulation, the libertarian side of the party is ascendant. Even the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism has faded from view. But with regard to civil liberties, the G.O.P. has embraced state power with a vengeance. Whether it’s the rights of wartime detainees, or abortion rights, or the rights of gay people to marry (or to be free from discrimination), contemporary Republican leaders reflect clear moral disapproval. (Even Ron Paul, who is often described as a libertarian, is a fierce opponent of a woman’s right to choose abortion. And Rick Perry recently announced that he’s against a right to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.) Privacy is often described as “the right to be left alone,” but that’s not a value that seems terribly important in the G.O.P. right now.

Anyway, I think that last paragraph above is a very important and much under-appreciated feature of politics these days.

Muffin vs. Pizza

So I posted this video on FB and claimed it was the funniest thing I’d seen all week.  Absolutely over-the-top, laugh out loud hilarious.  But be warned– not safe for work, children, or general human decency:

One of my FB friends suggested that if this was the funniest thing I saw all week, surely I had not seen Pizza Boomerang.  Another commenter suggested they were about equally funny.


To me, it’s absolutely no contest.  How can you compare with the poetic genius of:

I’m a very freaky girl

Don’t give it up for nothing

All he want to do is just pound on my muffin


Why women don’t run

Well, a month too late for my Gender & Politics class, the team of Lawless and Fox has released their latest report on the under-representation of women in political office.  Short version.  Not enough women run for office– when they do run, they do win.  Slightly longer version: women don’t run, in large part, because of important attitudinal differences about politics.  Drum excerpts the 7 major causes of less women candidates, but I do find the differences in attitudes most interesting, so I emboldened them:

  1. Women are substantially more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates.
  2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena.
  3. Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office.
  4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident, and more risk averse than their male counterparts.
  5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns.
  6. Women are less likely than men to receive the
    suggestion to run for office—from anyone.
  7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks.

These fundamental differences between how men and women perceive themselves in relation to the political environment seems quite pervasive and difficult to eradicate.  We can get men to do more housework and we can get more people to suggest to women that they run for office, but so long as they lack the same political comfort and self-confidence as men, they will lag in running for office.  I’d love to see how these attitudinal differences compare cross-nationally.

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