Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Politics

Kansas Lawmakers Think It’s Fine For Doctors To Lie To Patients To Prevent Abortions

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By far the scariest of the anti-abortion bills pending before scores of state legislatures in the U.S. right now is a bill budding in Kansas that would let doctors withhold critical medical info from patients with no consequences. Among the bill’s many provisions is one exempting doctors from malpractice suits if they withhold information—such as potential birth defects or anything else that poses a health risk for the mother or child—in order to prevent an abortion. A suit can only be brought if the mother dies.

The bill assumes a doctor’s right not to potentially contribute to someone getting an abortion trumps both his duty to do his job and and a patient’s right to receive full and accurate information from their doctor. It’s also filled with some of the greatest hits of other states’ anti-abortion efforts: A requirement that a pregnant woman listen to a fetal heartbeat before abortion; doing away with tax credits for abortion providers; and stopping tax deductions for health savings accounts that include abortion coverage. It would also require doctors to tell pregnant women that abortion will increase their risk of breast cancer—a theory that’s generally disputed by doctors, scientists and health groups, including the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute. And:

With language stating that anesthesia is administered to fetuses during surgery and indicating that an unborn child feels pain, the Kansas bills calls for making 20 weeks the latest time for having an abortion, a decline from the 21-week point adopted last year. (Rep. Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican) said she has professional objections to this requirement, saying that medical reports show that a fetus does not feel pain until 25 to 30 weeks and that the anesthesia is administered to prevent a rapid fetal heartbeat, which she said arises as a reflex to external stimulation.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said last week that he’s likely to sign the bill if it comes before him:

Brownback, speaking to The Huffington Post Monday following the National Governors Association meeting, said that while he has not read the 69-page bill, he is likely to sign the proposal since he opposes abortion rights. Brownback, a former U.S. senator, has signed several anti-abortion bills since he took office last year.

“I am pro-life,” Brownback said. “When I campaigned I said that if a pro-life bill got to my desk, I will sign it. I am not backing away from that.”

The bill, however, has yet to pass out of committee—it’s got a ways to go before getting to Brownback’s desk. Both Kansas’ Senate and House of Representatives are controlled by Republicans, but the more conservative House is expected to approve it, while a more moderate Senate could vote it down. But what a crazy point we’ve come to in all this conscience business when it seems reasonable to anyone that doctors should be allowed to coerce women into giving birth by withholding medical information and only be held accountable for any health problems this leads to if the patient ends up dying.

Image: Statemaster.com.

Written by ENB

March 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Donald Trump is to 2012 as …

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Mike Huckabee was to 2008. Yes/no?

I mean, I’ve been wrong about these sorts of things before (ahem)(though people backed me up on that one at the time). But I’m pretty confident this analogy works.

Ballrooms for everybody!

Written by ENB

April 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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Political Nostalgia

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This LA Times article is discomfiting:

Establishment Republicans showered the late Massachusetts Democrat with statements expressing their high regard and personal affection.

[…] But a far different message echoed amid the cacophony of talk radio and across the conservative blogosphere, where Kennedy was excoriated for his liberal politics and, especially, the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a political volunteer, off Chappaquiddick Island, Mass.

Some said good riddance and even wished for Kennedy’s eternal damnation.

Maybe I’m just being falsely nostalgic, like when I wish ladies still wore hats and pretty stockings even though I can hardly be bothered to comb my hair and apply mascara on a daily basis; maybe it’s just, as the article goes on to point out, the “more elemental … difference between knowing someone as an individual rather than a political caricature” … but maybe it really is a sad, sad inditement of our current political culture and the kind of respect and diplomacy that’s been lost …

Written by ENB

August 27, 2009 at 9:11 am

Posted in The Best Things

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Long Day’s Journey for the Right

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My article about young conservatives in DC searching for work is up on Doublethink Online right now:

It seems the old saw about Washington being recession-proof has gone the way of the conservative majority. For the city’s conservative job seekers, the legendarily insulated District could not have picked a worse time to mirror ‘Real America’s’ trends.

In Washington, of course, every election cycle brings a certain amount of job turnover, of politicos and policy wonks reeling and rallying with the re-entrenchment of the warring parties. This year, however, the assault on conservatives seems to be particularly strong.

I wrote the majority of the article months ago, because it was slated for the Doublethink quarterly print edition, so it needed a long lead time. But—in a twist of recession fate much like those I highlight in the piece—America’s Future Foundation has opted to cease print-publishing Doublethink, effective immediately. Anyway, I worry that it seems a little outdated—did you know McCain staffers are out of jobs?!—but hopefully I’ve updated enough (and the wonderful Cheryl Miller has edited enough) that it doesn’t read that way. It’s not all about outgoing politicos. See?

At the American Enterprise Institute, cost-cutting measures are already underway, according to a source there. The organization is converting its magazine, The American, from a bi-monthly print publication to an online-only rag. At least one full-time editorial staff member will be cut, along with the out-of-house designers and marketing people who worked on the publication. Other full-time staff cuts remain uncertain.

Because the magazine is sponsored by AEI and doesn’t rely on ad sales and subscriptions, the decision had less to do with the general print media malaise than with an overall organizational “pressure to cut back,” the source, who asked to remain unnamed, says. “My sense is that AEI is making pretty dramatic budget cuts all over.”


Written by ENB

February 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Unfinished Business

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In the midst of the “shallow girls” discussion on Ladyblog, I remembered a post I wrote some time ago in response to this one by Elizabeth Crum but never published. EC cited a Ms. magazine opinion column lamenting the lack of female pundits and columnists, and opined:

Me, I’m not one to worry much about ratios. I figure if you’re good, and you want to write, and you work hard, you’ll be in print somewhere. In my mind, fewer female columnists and pundits likely means there are fewer able and/or willing intrepid girl reporters in existence (not that there’s a Vast Boys Club Conspiracy).


While it is true there are fewer females who seek to go into punditry or column-writing (or even political journalism, blogging, etc.), I thought Elizabeth’s answer was a little too dismissive. I think the discrepancy, at this point in history, goes way beyond the polar extremes of General Sexism/Boy’s Club or “women just not having the ability/desire.” It also goes beyond the typical explanations about socialization we’ve heard a bazillion times before—I’m not discounting those, but I think there are some particular nuances, which I’ve tried to roughly sketch out below.

1) Being a political journalist/columnist, or a serious national affairs/sociocultural-type reporter/freelancer, has got to be hard (both in terms of skill level and opportunities to break in). Very hard, regardless of gender. It’s not something any writer/reporter can just do. But women, I think, have a lot more options when it comes to the range of topics, in general, they can write about and still be “journalists.” There are many, many more (paying) outlets for fashion/beauty/entertainment/sex/relationship writing than political writing. In my own fantasies of the joys/horrors of ever trying to strike it as a freelance writer, I’ve browsed through all the how-to-query sheets on media bistro, and sometimes wondered why the heck I wasn’t trying to write the fluff stuff seriously.

So for the kind of person who starts out with mild pretensions of being a serious journalist, or even just a daily news reporter, or a mildly authentic storyteller, and finds it daunting/hard/unrenumerative, etc., there’s a lot easier ‘out,’ I think, for women than for men, who, for the most part, don’t have the option of writing about healthy/beauty/fashion/etc. It’s kind of the same psychology that I think is often under-valued when explaining why women ‘opt out’ of the workplace—work can suck! It’s sometimes hard, and sometimes boring, and for people who don’t find themselves in a perfect situation, staying home with the kids full-time can seem like a socially acceptable way to ‘fail,’ to give up—one that more men would avail themselves of, too, if they could as easily.

2) Another thing is that there are very few separate “men’s issues” in politics, or media, but there are separate “women’s issues”—things like reproductive rights, gender discrimination, the politics of motherhood, media sexism, etc., just to name a few. While these should *theoretically* be things of concern to both genders, they’re not, and I can’t entirely blame men for not taking them as seriously. Also, why would a male writer want to carve out a niche in writing about sexism, or gender discrimination, or reproductive rights? There’s always going to be a woman writer who can claim more authenticity, and some who even feel offended by a male writing about these things, so there’s totally a disincentive for them to even consider doing so).

Women have had to carve out their own spaces in the blogosphere—places like Broadsheet, Feministe, Feministing, XX Factor, Jezebel, (Ladyblog!)—to discuss these issues, separate from the “real” political issues, like military endeavors, campaigns, taxes, etc. Again, this is understandable; there are a few Big General Political Issues, the sorts that get talked about at the major political blogs and magazines, the hard news stuff, and then all sorts of non-gendered softer stuff – education, race issues, food politics – have to carve out their own separate spaces as well. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this. It’s just that … well, a lot of very smart, very political women writers/bloggers/pundits are naturally going to be attracted to reading about issues that directly affect them. Which means less time keeping up with the Big General Political Issues. There are only so many hours that can be devoted to keeping up with blog conversations per day, and every minute spent reading Shakesville or the Independent Women’s Forum blog means less time that can be devoted to, say, Andrew Sullivan or Matthew Iglesias. It’s impossible to keep up with it all.

I’m not someone who’s ever had any aspirations to being a Serious Political Blogger (clearly), but as someone who does want to participate in whatever small way in the conversation, who lives in DC, who hangs out with a lot of journalists and writers, and who just generally wants to be well-informed about what’s going on … even I find it daunting. So I think, yeah, this is certainly a disadvantage for women writers/bloggers who do aspire to really be out there—either you’ve got to just do the women’s stuff, or just do the Big Political Issues, and that’s got to be a hard call to have to make. [And, again, the socialization thing, but I think women who show an interest in political/sociology/media etc. are still often encouraged more to focus on social issues than on horserace politics, economics, or foreign affairs).

3) A lot of who-writes-for-where-and-about-what is driven by editors. And if an editor has two people, a man and a woman, who can write about some economic issue, but only the woman can credibly write an article about, say,the ‘opt out revolution,’ they’re going to assign the either/or story to the guy so they can assign the women’s-only story to the girl. That’s certainly not sexist. But it does work against more women writing about the Serious General Political Issues.

Taken as a whole, I think women actually have many more opportunities than men to make a career out of being writers/journalists/bloggers. Just not necessarily writing about the kinds of things they may want to write about, or the kinds of things on which we place a premium as Serious Issues.

[Yes, I posted this at Ladyblog as well, but since I’m not sure what’s going on there right now, I wanted to post it here as well].

Written by ENB

January 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Parsing conservative arguments for and against gay marriage

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Latest post at LadyBlog:

[Conor’s conservative case for gay marriage] spawned quite the confabulating dialogue (see Joe here, Conor again here, and Joe again here), largely centered around not only whether it was right or wrong for gay parents to have and/or raise children but whether it was selfish for them to do so … If we’re going to argue that it’s selfish for gay parents to have kids because the situation might be less than optimal from the outset, wouldn’t we also have to condemn, and even seek to prevent, anyone in … other ‘less-than-optimal’ situations from childbearing and rearing? And, just to make sure, maybe bar them from marriage itself, too?


Written by ENB

November 7, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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Poor Conor

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If you think watching and reading about the debates is tedious at this point, imagine being compelled to try and still think of something interesting to say (in more than a 140-word tweet) about them. Which is why I like that Mr. Friedersdorf’s response at the C11 blog was this:

I’ve watched every debate since the primary season began. Should I perish at the age of 65 or 70 rather than 85 or 90, those attending my funeral may wonder whether youthful consumption of alcohol and cholesterol hastened my demise. Let them note that my early death is as likely due to binging on 2008’s political rhetoric.

It is turning my mind to mush.

Written by ENB

October 16, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Asides, The Best Things

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Arugula as Symbol of Cultural Elitism is Soooo 2007 …

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… I only eat salads made with mâche.

Oh, just kidding, fine, I still eat arugula. Maybe a nice spinach, arugula and mâche blend. Regardless, John Schwenkler’s article on the Plenty Mag site had me from the headline: “A country so polarized that consuming arugula has become a political act.”

As a girl who spent many, many years thinking I disliked salad only to eventually realize it was just iceberg lettuce I disliked, I am saddened by all the arugula hating that has been building for years and seems determined to reach its final, maddeningly-stupid zenith this election season. I am also saddened by lazy journalists, pundits and pols who non-ironically use it as a stand-in for some sort of cultural attitude (also: moose burgers. moose in headlights. moose moose moose moose moose. can we stop this, please?)

Anyway, as John points out, not only is arugula really apropos of nothing, it grows like a weed.

Clearly Obama didn’t deserve it, but then again neither did arugula. Unlike, say, petite vanilla scones or that old liberal staple, the cappuccino, the plant that is known by much of the English-speaking world as “rocket” hardly deserves to be pegged as the exclusive province of left-wing foodies. It is, for one thing, widely regarded as an aphrodisiac, which makes it arguably the most pro-family of the salad greens out there – and in addition to pairing nicely with some fresh fruit and nuts in a salad, its spicy zest also lends itself well to pesto. It grows like a weed, too, which means that even if there isn’t a Whole Foods around, you can show what it means to embody the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency by scattering some seeds and growing yourself an edible yard. If a guy can’t eat this stuff without being accused of being a latte-sipping closet communist, then what does that say about the state of our public discourse?

P.S. Could we start using truffles instead? I detest truffles. Plus, they cost a lot of money, so it would actually kind of make fucking sense.

Written by ENB

October 6, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Well played, McCain …

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Way to make talking about Obama’s convention speech seem So Yesterday. It’s a shame, I think—there was a lot to parse there. Any other time, this could have fueled punditocratizing, blog posts, and twitter links for days. But it’s the kind of strategically perfect shame you have to give props to anyway. So … this should be interesting.

Written by ENB

August 29, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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About that McCain spoiler business …

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So Pam Spaulding ventured into Free Republic territory to see what some real live Republicans had to say about the Libertarian Party nominating Bob Barr as its presidential candidate this weekend:

If the Libertarian Party ever decided to get rid of its pro-drug, open border, weak national defense, and pro-abortion platforms, then it would become a significant force in American politics overnight. Otherwise, it’ll never be more than a Third Party. Regardless, I’ll vote for Barr before I vote for McCain.

I suppose if we can get a pro-drug-war, closed-borders, war-mongering, anti-choice Freeper to pledge a vote for Barr over McCain … well, that’s not bad, but … it’s not exactly the kind of glowing crossover support that sends my heart aflutter, either. If you libertarians would just kindly give up half the things you stand for …Then we could have the tepid support of disgruntled Republicans? Oh, neat!

Still, as an electoral strategy, I suppose it’s much better for the LP to be appealing to disgruntled Republicans and conservative-leaning independents in this election, since Obama seems to have the more liberal-leaning independents that the LP could sometimes appeal to locked up. The more I read about Barr’s conversion from all of his social conservatism in the 90s, the more convinced I get (that’s what they want me to think, I know), and it’s fun to see the press Barr has been getting. The idea that he could “draw non-trivial numbers away from McCain” and keep the media momentum libertarians have scored with Ron Paul running is kind of exciting. Even if it is all hype, it’s the kind of hype that gets the base motivated, which can’t be bad. Besides, being the sort of anomalous liberaltarian character that I am, I’d rather Barr be a spoiler for the GOP than the Democrats.

Someday, I dream of libertarians exploiting more of the ideological similarities they share with liberals (yes, I’m a Brink Lindsay fan) instead of repeatedly only aligning themselves with conservatives, but I guess, for once, I’m kinda glad that day is not now.

Written by ENB

May 28, 2008 at 12:58 am

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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The effectiveness of negative campaign ads, as told by my mother

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My family lives in Ohio so, you know, big primary day for them today. My dad — an “independent” who has never voted for a Democrat in his life as far as I know but has been known to vote for 3rd party candidates — voted for McCain. I talked to my mom as she was on the way to the polling place. She was going so she could vote about school board taxes, but said she’d probably refrain from voting in the presidential race. If she was going to vote for anyone it would be a Democrat, she said, but she “just didn’t like all that fighting” they did. What fighting, I asked? You know, those campaign ads; they’re always calling each other names. Well, they’re competing against each other, what do you want them to do? I said. Well I just don’t like it. And there you have it.

My friends and I like to share with each other our parents’ reasons for supporting or hating various political figures. The best is probably one friends’ mother, who dislikes Al Gore because he “got fat” after the 2004 election and “if someone could just get fat like that, who knows what they would do in office.”

Written by ENB

March 5, 2008 at 12:35 am

Posted in My Life, Story-Telling

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An open letter to Huckabee:

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Oh, Huckabee, Huckabee, Huckabee … I know it’s got to be distressing now that no one’s paying any attention to you anymore (not that I wasn’t doing my part to correct this), but can’t you please just stick to funny Colbert appearances or — hey — I bet somebody’s willing to pay you to star in a buddy movie with Chuck Norris (and with all that money you may not have to pimp yourself out in the Cayman Islands anymore), but please, you know, there have got to be better uses of your time than going around endorsing state constitutional amendments to extend full citizenship to all Fertilized-Egg-Americans. I’m beginning to not even be able to support you ironically anymore. And that is sad, Huckabee, sad. Because if this relationship ends, then I’m going to have to start coming up with a real answer when people ask which candidate I support, and frankly, I’ve got nothing. So buck up, kid. And get yourself back in the press, while you’re at it. Try having an non-affair with a lobbyist or something; I hear that works.

Written by ENB

February 27, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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Ironic Votes for Huckabee

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You know, a lot of people I know in Super Tuesday states have been asking what the point is of going to the polls today when they don’t feel particularly motivated to support any of the candidates. To which I respond:

Vote Ironic in '08

Seriously, people, this may be his last chance. Ol’ Huck hasn’t been doing so well since the halycon days of Dec. 07, and your apathy could seal the deal. Is that what you want??? We have 10 more months of this campaign and its ensuing media inanity. Who’s going to be more fun to watch — Raptor Jesus, or some other dude with equally wacky views but without Chuck Norris and Colbert on his side?

Written by ENB

February 5, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Culture, Misc.

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