Gretchen Whitmer: A Governor on Her Own, With Everything at Stake – By Jonathan Mahler – The New York Times

“Gretchen Whitmer first heard the word “coronavirus” over the 2019 Christmas holidays from her younger sister, who a decade earlier contracted H1N1. Whitmer, just a year into office and preoccupied with her agenda for 2020, barely registered it. She was in a hurry to push forward on some of her campaign promises, like introducing an array of new education programs and repairing Michigan’s badly potholed roads. The state’s Republican lawmakers had blocked her at nearly every turn, but now, with the economy in Michigan and America booming, Whitmer had a plan to make an end-run around the Legislature by issuing $3.5 billion in bonds to help fund her projects. January was going to be about building political momentum for that effort and gearing up for a presidential election in which Michigan, where Donald Trump won by just 10,704 votes in 2016, was again going to be an important battleground state. Whitmer was tapped to deliver the Democratic response to Trump’s annual State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

As the governor began moving ahead with her agenda, though, the state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, was watching the gathering storm with growing concern. Potentially infected travelers were arriving daily in Michigan, but the Centers for Disease Control was not providing her with the support she needed to adequately detect and contain the virus. On Feb. 27, Khaldun briefed the governor and her staff on the epidemic in a conference room adjacent to her office. She said that she was convinced the coronavirus had already come to Michigan; she just couldn’t prove it. Khaldun reminded Whitmer and her staff that there was no vaccine for this virus, that it was highly contagious and that it was much more deadly than the flu. In order to prevent a widespread outbreak, she said, it would almost certainly be necessary to take some pretty extreme measures, like banning large group gatherings and maybe even ordering certain businesses to close temporarily.

A brief silence fell over the room. One of Whitmer’s aides spoke.

“This could be disastrous to the economy,” he said.

Opinion | The Rape Kit’s Secret History. There Are Many Man-Made Objects. The Rape Kit Is Not One of Them. – By Pagan Kennedy – The New York Times

MARTY GODDARD’S FIRST FLASH OF INSIGHT CAME IN 1972. It all started when she marched into a shabby townhouse on Halsted Street in Chicago to volunteer at a crisis hotline for teenagers.

Most of the other volunteers were hippies with scraggly manes and love beads. But not Marty Goddard. She tended to wear business clothes: a jacket with a modest skirt, pantyhose, low heels. She hid her eyes behind owlish glasses and kept her blond hair short. Not much makeup; maybe a plum lip. She was 31, divorced, with a mordant sense of humor. Her name was Martha, but everyone called her Marty. She liked hiding behind a man’s name. It was useful.

As a volunteer, Ms. Goddard lent a sympathetic ear to the troubled kids then called “runaway teenagers.” They were pregnant, homeless, suicidal, strung out. She was surprised to discover that many weren’t rebels who’d left home seeking adventure; they were victims who had fled sexual abuse. The phones were ringing with the news that kids didn’t feel safe around their own families. “I was just beside myself when I found the extent of the problem,” she later said.

She began to formulate questions that almost no one was asking back in the early ’70s: Why were so many predators getting away with it? And what would it take to stop them?

Ms. Goddard would go on to lead a campaign to treat sexual assault as a crime that could be investigated, rather than as a feminine delusion. She began a revolution in forensics by envisioning the first standardized rape kit, containing items like swabs and combs to gather evidence, and envelopes to seal it in. The kit is one of the most powerful tools ever invented to bring criminals to justice. And yet, you’ve never heard of Marty Goddard. In many ways she and her invention shared the same fate. They were enormously important and consistently overlooked.

I was infuriated when I read a few years ago about the hundreds of thousands of unexamined rape kits piled up in warehouses around the country. I had the same question that many did: How many rapists were walking free because this evidence had gone ignored?”

Opinion | The Supreme Court Finally Provides Good News for Trans People – by Jennifer Finney Boylan – The New York Times

“. . . .  Last week, the author J.K. Rowling felt it necessary to unveil a screed against trans folks that ran to nearly 4,000 words, and read like a greatest-hits list of false statements and groundless fears.

She stated that trans men transition because being a woman is hard; they do not. She stated that trans women pose a threat to others in the ladies’ room; we do not. In fact, more Republican congressmen have been busted for causing trouble in public lavatories than trans women. But no one wants to throw them out of the Coast Guard.

The effect of Ms. Rowling’s manifesto was immediate and passionate — I heard from many young L.G.B.T.Q. people who’d grown up reading her books who responded to her words with sadness and fury. Surely Ms. Rowling was familiar with a series of books about a group of outcasts who were treated differently simply because of who they were?”

David Lindsay:

This op-ed by By Jennifer Finney Boylan  confused and upset me. It it threw around terms like TERF, which I’ve never heard of, and attacked J K Rowling, whom I admire greatly and even revere. I have read Rowling’s Harry Potter series and listened to them read by Jim Dale multiple times, for more times than I have ever read the Bible or any other religious texts.

The top comments calmed me down, as one reader after another defended Rowling’s carefully written 4000 word essay which is on her own blog from last week. I felt the need to read the Rowling piece for myself, and I found it to be everything that the Boylan piece wasn’t. Grounded, clear, fair, and ferociously brave and intelligent. Rowling wrote,

“… activists … accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF.

If you didn’t already know  ….  ‘TERF’ is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who’s vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms. ”

J K Rowling would be a better choice for an occassional op-ed writer.

 

Opinion | Watching ‘Hillary’ in the Wake of Elizabeth Warren’s Exit – By Jill Filipovic – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Josh Haner/The New York Times

“At the very end of “Hillary,” an intimate and revealing four-part Hulu documentary series that tracks Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Mandy Grunwald, the campaign’s communications adviser, sums up Mrs. Clinton’s career: “As long as she has been in public life there have been these ups and downs. ‘Be our champion, go away.’ ‘Be our path-breaker, go away.’”

Mrs. Clinton may be the woman at whom Americans have most regularly hurled these whiplash-inducing demands, but she is far from the only one who was told she had to mold herself into what the public (or a boss, or a partner, or a parent) said they wanted, only to wind up rejected and scorned for her efforts. In the wake of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the presidential race — the last of several smart, qualified Democratic women with any reasonable chance of clinching the 2020 nomination — “Hillary” feels both raw and resonant. It’s an unusually authentic portrayal of someone so often accused of being inauthentic.

And yet before she even says it onscreen, the tenor of Ms. Grunwald’s comment reverberates through the series, indicting all of us and suggesting we may have learned all the wrong lessons from 2016.

As “Hillary” thoroughly documents, the voting public demanded Mrs. Clinton conform, and then complained about her insincerity when she did. She spent decades tarred as a radical feminist, her attempt (and Republican-induced failure) to establish universal health care taken as a demonstration that she was far too left-wing. After some time spent licking her wounds and performing the role of the party-hosting agreeable first lady, she set about creating the groundbreaking Children’s Health Insurance Program. By the time the center-left caught up with her two decades later, she was cast as an establishment moderate.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I enjoyed this fine oe-ed by Jill Filipovic, while respectfully disagreeing somewhere. I was and remain an unrequited Hillary Clinton fan. I separate from the new hand wringing about Elizatbeth Warren for two reasons. First, for a dozen reasons, we lost with Hillary Clinton, who was one of the most prepared and talented people to ever run for president. So, with Trump so dangerous, and the existential threat of climate change hanging over those of us who study the science in horror, this is absolutely not the year to take a chance on another female candidate for president.
The second reason is trivial compared with this main reason, but it is that Warren moved so far left, she appeared out of step with the majority of American voters. As David Leonhardt writes brilliantly in today’s NYT, she prefered being right all the time rather than winning. Even if Warren had move to the center, I would not have supported her in 2020, because we can not affford to lose the next election, due to global warming.

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Has Hit Democrats’ Presidential Glass Ceiling – By Michelle Cottle – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Talk about a head-spinner. Just a few days ago, Joe Biden’s candidacy was being prepped for burial, while Bernie Sanders’s revolution was considered unstoppable. But after the Biden blowout in South Carolina, Super Tuesday voters decided to shake things up.

As the results came rolling in, from east to west, political anchors delivered a breathless play-by-play of how Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders were divvying up the map and turning this into a two-man race. Their remaining major rivals, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg, registered as little more than afterthoughts. Ms. Warren came in third in her home state of Massachusetts, behind both Biden and Sanders.

And so, after all the tumult, the Democratic race has come down to this: Two straight white septuagenarian men fighting over the soul of the party — whatever that turns out to be.

Let us state that Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders have many fine qualities. Either would make a better president than the unstable man-child currently degrading the office. That said, for the party of progress, youth and diversity, a final face-off between two lifelong politicians born during World War II leaves much to be desired. And it says something depressing about the challenges women candidates still confront in their quest to shatter the presidential glass ceiling.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I was and remain a huge Hillary Clinton fan and supporter. This piece does not impress me, to be polite. Gender roles are important, but not the only, or the top issues. Michelle Cottle writes: “Amy Klobuchar . . . noted that a woman with his résumé — a 38-year-old former mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana — would never be taken seriously.” I thought this was an example of why Klobushar wasn’t presidential material at this point. One of the old saws I’ve picked up is that congress people mostly talk, while mayors and governors execute and manage. There is enough truth in the idea, to suggest that mayors might have proved more than congress people, by way of managing detail, crisis, and working under fire. Nicholas Kristof wrote a long NYT article about the scandal in California of keeping a black teenager on death row, when half a dozen experts argued he had been framed and railroaded. Who was responsible, Kamala Harris for one, who was the Attorney General, and found it impolitic to admit a huge mistake, in fact, criminal behavior, by prosecutors and sheriffs.

Opinion | Why Questions on Women Candidates Strike a Nerve – by Michelle Cottle – The New York Times

 

“. . . . Such biases can provoke a visceral response, noted Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York, in a 2016 piece for The Atlantic. Among other studies, he cited a 2010 paper by two Yale researchers who found that “people’s views of a fictional male state senator did not change when they were told he was ambitious. When told that a fictional female state senator was ambitious, however, men and women alike ‘experienced feelings of moral outrage,’ such as contempt, anger, and disgust.”

Contempt. Anger. Disgust. That’s hardly the basis for a level playing field.

Polling doesn’t much clarify the matter. While most Americans claim they are ready for a woman president, far fewer see other people as quite so open to the possibility. A September poll by Lean In, a women’s advocacy group, found that while 53 percent of voters considered themselves “extremely” or “very ready” for a woman president, only 16 percent thought most Americans felt the same.

A poll conducted in June by Ipsos for The Daily Beast found that 74 percent of independents and Democrats said they were personally comfortable with a woman president, but only 33 percent thought the same of their neighbors. (A full 20 percent of Independent and Democratic men agreed that “women are less effective in politics than men.”) An August survey by Ipsos and USA Today found that only 44 percent of likely Democratic primary voters thought their neighbors would be comfortable with a woman president.

This goes beyond the time-honored dodge of: I’m not sexist/racist/homophobic, but I’m not so sure about my neighbors. “If voters don’t think that America is ready, they tend to be less likely to vote for a woman themselves,” the chief executive of Lean In, Rachel Thomas, told ABC News.”

Amen, Thank you Michelle Cottle. Here is one of the top comments at the NYT I endorsed:

Teddi
Oregon
Times Pick

I am a 68 year old woman who has worked on women’s issues for 50 years. It is not anti-women for someone not to believe a woman can win the Presidency. Many people don’t think it is possible. I think many women don’t think it is possible. That doesn’t mean they don’t want it to happen. I believe that there was a misunderstanding in the conversation that Warren and Sanders had. If I had to choose sides I would think that Sanders is correct. The bigger point to me is, if Sanders had made the statement, why make such a big issue out of someone’s honest opinion? Why attack a fellow Democrat? As a feminist I do not require everyone to believe a woman could win a Presidential election in the United States at this time. I do draw the line at opposing a woman as President. That is a different matter.

12 Replies287 Recommended

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Opinion | Forget the Scarf. These Gifts Change Lives. – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Lynsey Addario/Getty Images

” ’Tis the season for giving, when those of us in the rich world hand each other overpriced scarves that no one much wants.

So every fall I offer an alternative holiday gift guide with suggestions for “gifts with meaning” that save or change lives. This year’s recommendations come with something extra: A reader has pledged $1 million so that for each of the next 10 years, a charity I find most worthy will receive $100,000. In addition, $50,000 will be split among three runners-up, thanks to a few other large donations. And judging from the past, readers will send in many more donations to these groups. We’ve made that easier through a new website.

This year’s top prize goes to support the lifesaving hospital of Edna Adan, a Somali midwife who fights for women’s health, trains doctors and empowers women in her native Somaliland. I’ve seen her work on the ground in two visits to Somaliland, and I’m awed by what she does.

Opinion | The Woman You Missed While You Were Paying Attention to Beto – By Mimi Swartz – The New York Times

Mimi Swartz
By Mimi Swartz
A contributing opinion writer.

May 9, 2019

“Well, well, well. Joaquin Castro dithered and then declined, but a tougher Texas Democrat has stepped up to announce a challenge to our ruby red Republican senior senator, John Cornyn, who has had a death grip on that office since 2002. The contender, M.J. Hegar, is a tattooed, three-tour veteran of the Afghanistan war who was shot down and wounded while serving as a medevac helicopter pilot.

That the “M.J.” stands for Mary Jennings, a 43-year-old woman — and a mother of two — is a variable that, in these who-the-hell-knows times, will either help defeat one of the whitest of older white men (Mr. Cornyn was almost as aggrieved as Brett Kavanaugh during the infamous Supreme Court hearings) or keep her candidacy from ever getting off the ground.

Most people inside and outside of Texas in 2018 were too delirious with Betomania to pay much attention to Ms. Hegar’s candidacy for a congressional seat. What they missed was a woman — and a vet — who started as a complete unknown and then lost by only three points to John Carter, a Tea Partyer and incumbent since 2003, in a previously incontestably red area that runs north of Austin and includes Fort Hood.”

Isabel Wilkerson on Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and the Great Migration – The New York Times

By Isabel Wilkerson
Dec. 6, 2018, 262

BECOMING
By Michelle Obama
Illustrated. 426 pp. Crown. $32.50.

“Back in the ancestral homeland of Michelle Obama, the architects of Jim Crow took great pains to set down the boundaries and define the roles of anyone living in the pre-modern South. Signs directed people to where they could sit, stand, get a sip of water. They reinforced the social order of an American hierarchy — how people were seen, what they were called, what they had been before the Republic was founded and what was presumed they could never be.

The signs reminded every inhabitant of the very different place of black women and white women in the hierarchy. There were restrooms for “white ladies” and often, conversely, restrooms for “colored women.” Black women were rarely granted the honorific Miss or Mrs., but were addressed by their first name, or simply as “gal” or “auntie” or worse. This so openly demeaned them that many black women, long after they had left the South, refused to answer if called by their first name.

A mother and father in 1970s Texas named their newborn “Miss” so that white people would have no choice but to address their daughter by that title. To the founding fathers and the enforcers of Jim Crow, and to their silent partners in the North, black women were meant for the field or the kitchen, or for use as they saw fit. They were, by definition, not ladies. The very idea of a black woman as first lady of the land, well, that would have been unthinkable.”

Opinion | Not the Fun Kind of Feminist – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

Image
Andrea Dworkin in 2000. Feminists have started invoking Ms. Dworkin, who died in 2005, in a spirit of respect and rediscovery.CreditCreditColin McPherson/Corbis, via Getty Images

By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 22, 2019, 171″For decades now, Andrea Dworkin has existed in the feminist imagination mostly as a negative example, the woman no one wanted to be.

An anti-porn, anti-prostitution militant in the feminist sex wars of the late 1970s and 1980s, she sometimes seemed like a misogynist caricature of a women’s rights activist, a puritanical battle ax in overalls out to smite men for their appetites. Dworkin never actually wrote that all sex is rape, a claim often attributed to her, but she did see heterosexual intercourse as almost metaphysically degrading, calling it, in her 1987 book “Intercourse,” “the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.” Feminism would spend decades defining itself against her bleak, dogmatic vision.

So it’s been striking to see that recently, feminists have started invoking Dworkin, who died in 2005, in a spirit of respect and rediscovery. The cultural critic Jessa Crispin castigated contemporary feminists for their wholesale abandonment of Dworkin’s work in her 2017 book “Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto.” Rebecca Traister listed Dworkin’s “Intercourse” as one of the books that inspired her 2018 best seller “Good and Mad.” The Wing, the network of fashionable women’s co-working spaces and social clubs, sells enameled pins of Dworkin’s face.

A new anthology of Dworkin’s work, “Last Days at Hot Slit,” is out this month, edited by Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder. (“Last Days at Hot Slit” was a working title for a version of the manuscript that became Dworkin’s first book, “Woman Hating.”) Reading Dworkin now, Fateman wrote in a recent essay in The New York Review of Books, “beyond the anti-porn intransigence she’s both reviled and revered for, one feels a prescient apocalyptic urgency, one perfectly calibrated, it seems, to the high stakes of our time.” (Fateman, an art critic who used to be in a band, Le Tigre, with Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna, is also working on an experimental nonfiction book based on Dworkin’s life.)

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

So what it is in Dworkin’s long-neglected oeuvre that has suddenly become resonant? Perhaps it’s simply because we’re in a moment of crisis, when people seeking solutions are dusting off all sorts of radical ideas. But I think it’s more than that. Dworkin was engaged, as many women today are engaged, in a pitched cultural battle over whose experiences and assumptions define our common reality. As she wrote of several esteemed male writers in a 1995 preface to “Intercourse,” “I love the literature these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not.”

Dworkin was unapologetically angry, as so many women today are. Even before 2016, you could see this anger building in the emergence of new words to describe maddening male behaviors that had once gone unnamed — manspreading, mansplaining. Then came the obscene insult of Donald Trump’s victory. It seems like something sprung from Dworkin’s cataclysmic imagination, that America’s most overtly fascistic president would also be the first, as far as we know, to have appeared in soft-core porn films. I think Trump’s victory marked a shift in feminism’s relationship to sexual liberation; as long as he’s in power, it’s hard to associate libertinism with progress.

And so Dworkin, so profoundly out of fashion just a few years ago, suddenly seems prophetic. “Our enemies — rapists and their defenders — not only go unpunished; they remain influential arbiters of morality; they have high and esteemed places in the society; they are priests, lawyers, judges, lawmakers, politicians, doctors, artists, corporation executives, psychiatrists and teachers,” Dworkin said in a lecture she wrote in 1975, included in “Last Days at Hot Slit.” Maybe this once sounded paranoid. After Trump’s election, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and revelations of predation by men including Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Larry Nassar and countless figures in the Catholic Church, her words seem frighteningly perceptive.”