Archive for the ‘women’s rights’ category

A Special Place In …

October 5, 2017

Abortion is a complicated and oft confusing debate. There should be no question that some sincerely hold the sanctify of life and can accept no reason for ending a pregnancy. There are others who also are against abortion in most cases but do make some exceptions such as rape, incest, and health of the mother. And still there are others who who wish abortions to be rare, safe, and in the end, the exercise of a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health. Heart wrenching arguments have been and continue to be made for each of these positions.

And then there are the politicians who join this argument with an ulterior motive. These politicians can produce a tear on the spot, can get red in the face as they implore a religious justification for denying a woman her right, and while pandering to anti-abortion groups feel no compulsion not to pass the hat for donations. (In truth, politicians are on both sides of this issue.  Regrettably, some who support a woman’s choice may not really care whether Roe v Wade is maintained but show support to help them get reelected…  that’s a good outcome they think.)

Every so often along comes a Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA). Murphy has been an ardent anti-abortion supporter and has spoken out mightily against woman’s rights. But Murphy is also a human being and his heart is susceptible to infatuation (for what ever the reasons). Representative Murphy entered an affair with someone other than his current wife. During this involvement, Murphy and his partner believed she was pregnant. Representative Murphy advised his partner to end the pregnancy with an abortion. Hmmm.

His partner has become dissatisfied with her relationship with Murphy and has revealed Murphy’s urging for an abortion. Social media is abuzz. What else could happen?

Today Representative Murphy announced he would not seek reelection. Justice?

If it were not that the actions of the pro-life crowd and the hypocritical politicians who side with them hurt disproportionately the poor and those least able to take care of themselves, one might argue that not seeking reelection was sufficient pay back. But hypocrites like Representative Murphy deserve something even more special.

Hypocrites occupy a special place in hell (if there is one) and now the reservation sign has Tim Murphy’s name on it.

The Women’s March

January 23, 2017

What does one make of the enormous outpouring of feelings put forth by the several million all across the United States who took part on Saturday, January 21, 2017 Women’s Marches? The women organized marches were peaceful, enthusiastic, and expressive. Although the main message was women’s rights, organizers created room for gays, peace advocates, environmentalists, and immigrants.

Attendance in all cases significantly out numbered pre-march estimates. For example, Washington DC turnout numbered above two million versus an estimate of 900,000.
So why were the numbers so large in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and Los Angeles? What were the real message?

Conservatives are poised to reverse legislatively and/or through a Supreme Court appointment as much progressive gains women, gays, and immigrants have made, especially during the past 8 years. This has many women worried. Saturday, these women (not all women, just a lot of them) made clear they were not going to be made subservient to men, religious organization, or the Federal Government.

Saturday’s turnout will present President Trump with an early test. The Republican controlled Congress has already indicated it will repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and look for ways to constrict, if not eliminate Roe v Wade, and expects the President’s support. A wise person, especially someone who realizes he must appeal to all voters not just those in gerrymandered districts, that the women’s march signals a potential firestorm of opposition.

The marchers were mostly regular everyday mainstream people. Sure there were a few blue haired marchers but most were natural blonds, brunettes, and all shades of gray. The bulk of marchers were women who were not about to surrender their individual dignities nor their newly won freedoms. Young children marched with their older sisters and mothers, learning first hand what peaceful protesting was about.

A wise President Trump would conclude that his goals of invigorating the economy and repositioning US foreign policy would not be served well by opening a social war with this group of women. There is a substantial element of the Republican Party whose demagoguery embraces authoritarian religiosity and accordingly wants to return womanhood to the 1950’s or before. The President needs to either squash this faction or at least divert them for the time being.

If President Trump chooses to ignore these marches’ message, he does so at his own governance risk.

Ends and Means

May 24, 2016

There are many reasons to be worried about a Donald Trump and GOP victory this November. Let me count the ways. Emotional attitude, standards of personal conduct, breadth of knowledge on foreign affairs, plausible policies and plans for governing, and fitness to be President of all Americans are just a few.

What more could one worry about?

As questionably fit as Donald Trump may be, he will ultimately also run on the GOP platform (necessary to get conservative donor money). As in 2008 and 2012, tax cuts for the wealthy, no comprehensive immigration reform, roll back of equal rights protection, active rejection of Roe v Wade, and the repeal of Obamacare (with loss of coverage for tens of millions) will underpin his candidacy.

But that is not all there is to worry about.

The “ends justify the means” modus operandi became crystal clear during former President George W Bush’s terms. Enhanced interrogation, invading sovereign countries, abrogation of lawful treaties, and warrantless search and seizures were all justified in the name of national security. And in each case, US courts in due course forced the Administration to end these practices.

When Donald Trump speaks about Bill Clinton’s past indiscretions, he is either saying the ends (getting elected) is far more important than the means (speech far beneath the dignity of a President) or he is trying desperately to avoid answering substantive questions.

Imagine what he will do when China, India, Russia, or any other country does not obey a President Trump’s wishes?

Look Who’s Next In Line

March 9, 2016

The Republican Party is in a pickle. Almost 2/3rds of polled Republicans want someone other than Donald Trump to represent the party in November. Last night Trump won in Michigan and Mississippi. What a shock. But wait, even more of a shock is to look at who is  in second place.  It’s Ted Cruz, who is even less acceptable. Hmmm.

To be sure, this corundum belongs to the Republican Party and it is theirs to sort out. The GOP can run whomever they wish.

Never the less it is telling to study who the GOP is testing in its primaries.

Considering the Cruz candidacy a little further may help one understand why pundits are predicting a splintering of the Republican Party when the GOP finishes its convention this summer. Cruz represents the far right of the conservative section of the Republican Party. Cruz champions the view that Government is too big and must be pared back at all cost. Is that the most important issue in voters’ minds?

In Monday, March 7, 2016’s Wall Street Journal, Cruz wrote an opinion column under the title “The Scalia Seat: Let the People Speak”. In this column, one can read all that is necessary to learn how an “originalist” can conveniently twist his logic so that he can justify behavior which is directly opposite the Founding Fathers’ intentions.

Cruz writes that the Constitution has a fixed meaning (his belief). Supreme Court opinions which reflect Constitutional interpretations removed from the horse and buggy, pre-electricity days when the Constitution was written, is inappropriate Cruz claims. Cruz predicts that an Obama appointment would usher in late term abortions, mandating religious organizations (and private business operated by religious owners) accept gays and same sex marriages and treat their employees the same as any other private employer in like businesses, and, not to be overlooked, unilaterally take guns from lawful owners. (Have you heard this list before?)

In a most astounding leap of logic, Cruz then concludes that these issues are so important that unlike what is written in the Constitution and over 200 years of experience flowing from the Country’s founding, that President Obama is not entitled to “advice and consent” procedures (as spelled out in the Constitution) when the President exercise his clearly authorized duty to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. Hmmm.

Donald Trump has thrived on hateful, discriminatory, and xenophobic campaign rhetoric. Cruz is pushing a Constitutional interpretation which would enable hateful, discriminatory and xenophobic legal interpretations under the egis of a Court majority composed of “Antonin Scalia-like” Justices.

What has the GOP got itself into?

Trump’s Hidden Message

March 3, 2016

While GOP leaders are breathlessly talking about stopping Donald Trump’s candidacy, no one seems to be taking stock of why Trump has been so wildly popular with his supporters.

These GOP big shots seem to have correctly diagnosed the shattering effect his candidacy could have on the current amalgam called the Republican Party. Trump as the Presidential nominee would expose the GOP for what it is – a collection of ideological desperate elements with no single unifying purpose, save one. The one unifying GOP theme is “we are not Democrats” whatever that means.

The current Republican Party rrepresents a collection of regular Americans mixed in with “bible thumpers” who instead of espousing Christian values like “love thy neighbor” prefer to hate others for their gender or sexual preferences, “wealthy Americans” who want to pay less taxes despite any consequences, “xenophobes” who may even be one generation in the US but want the door closed for other immigrants, “budget hawks” who want to reduce the deficit without regard to any consequences, and “hard core of anti-Obama critics” who see anything done by the President as inherently worthless.

So, which of these groups has Trump successfully satisfied? Hmmm.

The hidden Trump message appeals to a few of these segments, but resonates strongly with a differently defined group, the Trumpskiites.

These new Trump frontier fighters are feeling an economic pinch, have looked around and see a lot of government spending going to assist this designated group or that one, and no noticeable sign that homelessness or poverty is improving.

The Trumpskiites see the US throwing good money after bad and want one of two things. (1) Stop spending money on the poor, refugees, and corporate welfare seekers. Or, (2) energize the economy so much that they (each Trumpskiite) gets a good job or pay increase so big that their lot in life improves so much they can overlook the tax money going to the other “freeloaders”.

The Trumpskiites are not ideologues. They may or may not care about abortion or women’s rights, they may or may not care about refugees, they may or may not care about religious symbols in public spaces, they may or may not care about gender and sexual orientations, and for the most part they are ambivalent about Obamacare. What they care about is their own personal lot in life and see the government wasting a lot of money on the poor and a diverse collection of other things.

Trumpskiites are first and foremost about themselves. They are relatively content to let others get along with their lives providing they do not adversely impact their lives. Hmmm.

If this observation is correct, it is not a large step of logic to recognize that Trumperskiites should exist within the Democrat Party too. In fact, they might make up the real “silent majority”. Hmmm.

Trump’s hidden message exposes Republican and Democrat shortcomings: Republicans may wish not to spend any more Federal dollars even though the bridge in their hometown is about to fall down, and Democrats are only to ready to spend money to build a new one even though the bridge might be cheaper to repair or might not be needed at all. Trumpskiites could support either position, let the bridge fall down or repair it but only if life gets economically better for them first. Hmmm.

This is a dangerous message pitting individuals against common good while exposing politicians more interested in perpetuating their time in office than caring for the public good.  Will Americans wake up and demand better from their elected officials?

Good News, God’s In The Race

May 5, 2015

Mike Huckabee will announce his candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination today, in of all places Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton’s birthplace… Mike has the franchise on evangelical politics and will thump the bible when ever it will move the crowd effectively. Along with his religious beliefs will come a list of things he would expect others to be denied based upon his beliefs. Hmmm.

Carly Fiorina entered the race yesterday and has positioned herself as the hawk on foreign affairs. Carly told Fox News yesterday that she would arm the kurds, Egyptians, and anyone else in the Middle East as the means to defeat ISIS. Ben Carson announced his candidacy too and promised that he would follow through on his promise to end Obamacare. Hmmm.

The fun is just beginning. There are dozens more GOP hopefuls who have not announced. In many regards this could be a benefit to candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or John Kasich. These candidates might dilute the message and consequently these candidates might not feel it necessary to attack gay rights, women’s reproductive health, or propose invading any foreign country that doesn’t pay tribute.  These later entries instead may attempt to appear presidential compared to their primary challengers.

Huckabee probably represents the most disruptive GOP hopeful. His oratory skills are exceptional, his record as Governor was strong, and his smooth, non-hesitating comfort in invoking supreme authority threatens the rhetoric of other candidates. Consider that the GOP could present a reasonable story about how they could lead the economy and protect Americans while ensuring that Government works. A moderate GOP candidate could promise to eliminate inefficiencies, trim back waste, and hold the line on taxes. This would be an attractive message.

Once Huckabee starts down the path of what God is against and attracts voters in early primaries, the main stream candidates will be tempted to match his rhetoric. The end result will be a clear distinction between Hillary Clinton and which ever candidate emerges in voters minds, even though there might in reality not be a sliver of light between them.

For sure some of the announced or soon to be announced GOP candidates are really running for Vice President or some other high Administration position. This will become clearer as we see who attacks who and on what grounds.

The greatest unknown, IMO, is which candidate will attract the most dark money. The dark money (ha, ha, uncoordinated money) could flood television markets and distort whatever any specific candidate has said. In the Presidential campaign, Republican dark money is usually offset by Democrat dark money, and in the end neither side gains a decisive advantage. In the primary, the impact of dark money can only be about character assassination. Hmmm.

The fun has begun.

Cruzing Along

March 23, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz, true to his word, announced his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination. Few pundits give Cruz much chance at securing the nomination but that doesn’t seem to worry Senator Cruz. He sees his prospects differently and points to enthusiastic crowds that have already turned out for him in Iowa.

Interestingly, these Iowan Bible thumping supporters will be unavailable for Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee unless the Iowa caucuses allow someone to vote for more than one candidate. Hmmm.

Cruz told his announcement audience that he would “return America to greatness”, what ever that means.

Statements like that make one wonder what school Cruz’s speech writers graduated from? What exactly would “greatness” in America look like?

I wonder whether repealing Obamacare and dumping 16 million more Americans onto the “no health insurance” roles would make his list? Or, would Cruz prefer to pile more costs on future Medicare recipients shrinking their fixed incomes? Maybe Cruz’s picture of American greatness involves taking away women’s access to reproductive health methods or saving money by only granting marriage licenses to heterosexual couples?

His campaign announcement was brief and these clarifications did not come up. Fortunately there is still over a year to the nominations and about a year and an half to the election. I think we will have time to learn the answers to these questions as well as find out what goodies would lie in a Cruz bag of tricks.

Asking For A Raise

October 11, 2014

Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, got a rude surprise this past week. When asked at a woman’s conference what advice he would have for new female professionals, he said in effect they should “trust the system” and refrain from asking for a raise.

As you might guess, at best his comments were inarticulate. Hmmm.

The current “self help” book wisdom is just the opposite. Women should not only ask about a raise but should demand one. How could Nadella get it so wrong?

We may never know because a proper explanation would take so much time that the “tell me in 25 words or less” crowd would be busy checking their smart phones or tweeting some observation before Nadella got to the heart of the matter. Microsoft will be in damage control up to its ears in politically correct talk.  We should expect to see commercials featuring happy women thriving within Microsoft’s offices. Women are just too big a buying group to be overlooked, even if what Nadella was trying to say must take a back seat to honesty.

I suspect that Microsoft has a well established pay system and within its HR community, watchdogs who look out for any pay discrepancies between genders. What Microsoft seeks are employees who come to work and are 100% involved in exceeding their job’s expectations.

What Nadella is probably suspicious about are workers whose first priority is maximizing their pay. This type of employee typically sees which way the flag is blowing and is full square behind that initiative or position. This type of employee is also acutely aware of who else is getting recognized (and assumed to be getting more money). These behaviors detract from an employees concentration on the work at hand.

If Nadella could rewind the clock and get to speak his remarks again, he might have couched them in terms of what he expects of all employees, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. He might have said that at Microsoft there is an understanding between employees and the company. This understanding is based upon the notion that when the company does well, all employees do well. Further to ensure each employee is treated as fairly as possible, HR policies have been adopted where all employees are reviewed against the same standards and are all informed of the assessment.

These policies also seek input on what the employee wants for a career path and how best to realize their goals. Then Nadella could have said, while it is certainly ok to ask for a raise, it is really all about how one asks.

If the HR policies were working correctly, then the employee should be properly placed within Microsoft’s pay scales. If, on the other hand, the employee feels their contributions have not been fully appreciated, then focusing (during an annual review) upon how the employee’s managers viewed their contributions could be a value adding experience.

Simply asking for a raise would actually send an unintended message that the individual was more interested in personal renumeration than job performance.

In the business world in general there is always a tension between budgets and results. Supervisors and managers have budget limits and granting pay increases during an operating year is often difficult.

If an employee is exceptionally valuable, the prospects that the employee will leave for better paying work is often enough to obtain an off-forecast pay increase.

Equal pay for equal work seems the proper goal. National statistics, however, suggest gender differences favoring men are the norm. So the question of women asking for a raise is not a bozo idea. The real question might be “how to ask for a raise”.