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Is This Thing On?

The last time I wrote for LGM was August 15, 2008 — my sign-off post. So it’s been nearly six years. It feels like a long time ago that I was part of the LGM family; that I could shed my law-student skin and become bean and be brassier and more vocal and less measured and more engaged than life in law school allowed. And it was a long time ago. But when I logged on to write this post in celebration of 10 years (!) of LGM, there all my old posts were. Just sitting there. In WordPress. As if I had never left.

But I did leave, to begin practicing civil rights law and pushing to effect some of the changes I called for (and so unstintingly) in my tenure at LGM. And wow, what a difference it’s made. In August 2008, George W. Bush was the president; the U.S. was engaged in armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the government was indefinitely detaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and fighting the detainees’ efforts to access Article III courts; and reproductive rights were under attack. Now, in May 2014, things have changed! For the better! Barack Obama is the president; the Iraq war has ended; we still have troops in Afghanistan; Guantanamo Bay remains open with no end in sight; and the rights to abortion and contraception are under fierce attack. Wait a minute….

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

While more change certainly would be better in some arenas — the cartoonish nature of our politics and the inefficacy of our federal government, by way of head-palm-obvious examples — there’s great comfort in the steadiness of LGM. It remains today home to the same diverse and engaging posts as in 2008 (and more of them) by a too-heavily-male motley crew of very similar composition, with the same loyal, overeducated, engaged cast of commenters that I came to know as an LGM contributor and to rely upon to test my assumptions and assertions and call me out when I went too far or got something wrong. (Though of course there are amusing and legendary exceptions. I’m

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looking at you, “I am aware of all Internet traditions,” known to some as the “greatest thread in the history of the Intertrons.”)

Recently, I’ve taken baby steps back into online conversations. I became an active Twitter user; I commented on blogs; I agitated for my current workplace to start its own blog. These tentative efforts at a (triumphant?) return to online life have given me renewed appreciation for the open, freewheeling, multidisciplinary, earnest-one-minute-and-satirizing-the-next online home I had at LGM, and made me grateful to the original LGM team for creating this place and keeping it going all this time.

So here’s to 10 years of LGM and to 10 more (at least). Maybe by the time LGM can drink legally, we’ll have seen some real political change. Hey, a bean can dream.

 

Good Night, and Good Luck

[ 41 ] August 15, 2008 |

It’s been a while, folks, but I am now emerging from the haze that was the bar and the joy that was the post-bar relaxation. In other words, I’m re-entering the real world.

And the real world brings with it some real bummers. Namely, I’m stepping down as an LGM blogger. I start a new job at the beginning of September. In that job, I will be doing work that relates directly to the topics about which I post here. This overlap brings with it some complications that make me (and my higher-ups) uncomfortable. So I am making a clean break.

Many thanks to all of you LGMers who read and commented on my posts and who make this such a vibrant online community. LGM was, for me, a lifeline during law school — it kept me connected to the political discussion and activism that law school can shut out. Thanks especially to the other LGM bloggers who welcomed me so warmly.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to return from time to time as a guest blogger. In the meantime, I’ll see you in comments.

-bean.

Wait a Second…

…So English should be the “official language” of Germany now too?

Here’s Patrick Ruffini on Obama’s German flyers (for an event IN GERMANY):

This is pretty extraordinary. A candidate for the American Presidency is using flyers printed in German to turn people out for his campaign rally in Berlin on Thursday. This flyer can be found on a bilingual page on BarackObama.com advertising the event:

The German flyers bear Obama’s campaign logo and say “Paid for by Obama for America.”

I’m surprised at this lapse in judgment in an otherwise well-oiled and professional Obama campaign.

The stupidity just never ceases.

Not so Fast

[ 9 ] July 22, 2008 |

Well this is depressing.

After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for a while.

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

It should not be surprising that with a slowing economy and men losing more jobs than in recent years, women too are losing more jobs. But I guess a study like this sort of undercuts all that hysteria about women dropping out of the workplace and a return to 1950s values, eh? I’m hoping so because that line of thinking is not doing professional women any good.

Oh THAT New Yorker Cover

This one.

While I’ll agree with…oh, just about everyone that the drawing plays right into the hands of Faux News et al., I can’t say that I agree with Atrios’s summary:

Since it’s the controversy of the day, let me make my views more clear. It obviously was an attempt at satire, but it fails. It represents the basic stuff that you get from the Right about Obama, but it neither mocks nor exaggerates them. It’s a sad state of affairs that conservatives are hard to satirize or parody because they’re so insane, but that’s where we are.

Well, yes, the far right is so insane these days that it is hard to satirize them. But I think does the trick. It *does* exaggerate the stuff they say about Obama — that’s exactly the problem so many other progressives are having today.

So we can be angry at the New Yorker for giving the other side such great ammunition. But I don’t think we can say it’s not at least a little funny. Especially given that it’s titled “Politics of Fear.”

Ok you all. Pounce. I’m ready for it.

Oh, You Again?

I’m still alive. But with the Bar looming larger each day, I am taking a brief blogging hiatus. I’ll be posting here and there through July 30th, after which point I will be back in full force (insert cheer or jeer there). Til then….

The Constitution Matters Until it Doesn’t

[ 0 ] July 11, 2008 |

Senator John McCain might not actually be technically eligible to be President.

But it’s only a little thing called the Constitution. Which is only, it seems, important to the GOP when you can use it as a sword to restrict people’s rights or expand those of corporations.

Um, Yes.

Current TV’s funnywoman Sarah Haskins is the smart woman’s (and person’s) answer to all the crap that popular culture throws at us. And unlike so many others in Hollywood, she is willing to admit that she is a feminist. She says:

Yes, I’m a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against pantyhose. To me it means that as women we are individuals before we are gendered people and that we’re not defined by our gender except in the ways we chose to appropriate that definition. We’re in a weird generation, right? Our Moms were forced to grapple with that definition more immediately, and I think it’s changed as we’ve grown up. The core issue “how do I fight bias against me because of my gender” is still there but has gotten more complicated and wrapped into all kinds of identity issues about how you present yourself as a woman and I pretty much think it’s your choice and fuck pantyhose.

More of her genius can be seen here (just click the link if you’re having trouble with the embed):

Indeed. And, oh yeah, take that Hitchens.

Birth as Feminist Act

I spent all day yesterday in the hospital with a friend and family member who was in labor with what would be a July 4th baby. She labored at a birthing center that is in a hospital but separate from the regular labor and delivery floor. She had a beautiful room with a jacuzzi in it, a bed big enough for her husband to stay in with her after the delivery, and a table/bed for the baby just beside it. She was attended to by a midwife and nurse who stayed for the duration of her labor, who were with her every second, and who supported her unwaveringly. Much of her nuclear family was in the room when she gave birth.

In an age where c-sections are being labeled “pre-existing conditions” and the cesarean rate continues to rise (not necessarily at women’s election), it seems to me that we have lost the feminist angle on labor and delivery. It is something only a woman can do. It is how life is created and sustained. It reveals women’s sheer strength and endurance.

Certainly vaginal birth at all – nevermind in a birthing center or at home -it is not available for all women, and we should be (and I am) thankful that cesareans and other interventions exist when vaginal labor would put the woman’s or child’s health at risk. But absent those risks, it seems worth highlighting that giving birth in a woman-centered, midwife-assisted environment is a feminist act. It is feminist in that it focuses on women’s unique ability; and in that it enables strength within a couple and family by allowing the woman’s partner to be an active part of the labor by supporting her both emotionally and physically (holding her legs, providing support while she squats).

Maybe this is a second-wave way of looking at birth. But being there yesterday and watching that baby’s head appear and then emerge, it seemed to me that the woman becoming a mother really is the Queen of the Universe.

Pregnancy Discrimination: It Just Won’t Die

Way back in 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to undo the damage wrought by the Supreme Court in Geduldig v. Aiello, in which the Court infamously (foot)noted that:

The California insurance program does not exclude anyone from benefit eligibility because of gender but merely removes one physical condition – pregnancy – from the list of compensable disabilities. While it is true that only women can become pregnant, it does not follow that every legislative classification concerning pregnancy is a sex-based classification . . . . Normal pregnancy is an objectively identifiable physical condition with unique characteristics. Absent a showing that distinctions involving pregnancy are mere pretexts designed to effect an invidious discrimination against the members of one sex or the other, lawmakers are constitutionally free to include or exclude pregnancy from the coverage of legislation such as this on any reasonable basis, just as with respect to any other physical condition.

The lack of identity between the excluded disability and gender as such under this insurance program becomes clear upon the most cursory analysis. The program divides potential recipients into two groups – pregnant women and nonpregnant persons. While the first group is exclusively female, the second includes members of both sexes. The fiscal and actuarial benefits of the program thus accrue to members of both sexes.

That’s right, kids: under the Constitution pregnancy discrimination is not sex discrimination because there are some women who are not pregnant. Or something like that.

Anyway, Congress tried to change this in 1978. But the more things change with regard to pregnancy discrimination, the more they stay the same. The Supreme Court last week granted cert to hear a pregnancy discrimination case against AT&T. The case — AT&T v. Hulteen — presents the question of whether a corporation is free to count leave taken before the 1978 passage of the PDA against women who continued to work at the company after the PDA’s passage. A summary from Cara:

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, Noreen Hulteen, Eleanora Collet, Linda Porter and Elizabeth Snyder took maternity leave from their jobs at AT&T. Under AT&T rules during this time, pregnancy was considered personal leave, and counted against employees for promotions, vacation, and pensions. Other types of long term sick leave, taken by men or women, were not counted against the employees. This type of discrimination, against only pregnant people, is currently illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Today, AT&T is counting the pregnancy leave against these women for purposes of their pensions.

Instead of dropping the case and giving these women the pensions they deserve after careers devoted to the company, AT&T is fighting their female employees all the way to the Supreme Court. And particularly given Ledbetter, I can’t say that I have any confidence in what SCOTUS will do.

Hm.

Obama wants to expand the role of faith-based organizations in American public life.

Maybe there is a lot of good to be said about this — particularly in poor, religious communities where the church (or mosque or synagogue) is the center of the community.

But after 8 years of Bush policies where investment in faith-based organizations has meant more money for “crisis pregnancy centers” and abstinence only programs, I’m a bit uneasy.

A Long Summer for SCOTUS Watchers

[ 3 ] June 30, 2008 |

The Supreme Court term has only just ended and Court watchers and reporters are trying to sum up what we’ve seen, from gun rights to the rights of those detained at Gitmo.

And, in an indication of the long summer that is to come for those who follow SCOTUS’s doings, they’re taking stock of Chief Justice Roberts’ (erroneous, it turns out) Bob Dylan reference. From Liptak:

Chief Justice Roberts’s predecessor, William H. Rehnquist, cited his beloved Gilbert & Sullivan in a 1980 dissent from a decision that the press had a constitutional right of access to court proceedings. He was still an associate justice, and he thought the court had made up the right out of whole cloth. In rebuttal, Justice Rehnquist relied on the Lord Chancellor in “Iolanthe” to rebuke the majority. “The Law is the true embodiment of everything that’s excellent,” the Lord Chancellor says. “It has no kind of fault or flaw, and I, my Lords, embody the Law.”

That made Justice Rehnquist’s point pretty well. The Roberts citation is more problematic.

On the one hand, he showed excellent taste. “Like a Rolling Stone,” as Greil Marcus has written, is “the greatest record ever made, perhaps, or the greatest record that ever would be made.”

On the other hand, Chief Justice Roberts gets the citation wrong, proving that he is neither an originalist nor a strict constructionist. What Mr. Dylan actually sings, of course, is, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

It’s true that many Web sites, including Mr. Dylan’s official one, reproduce the lyric as Chief Justice Roberts does. But a more careful Dylanist might have consulted his iPod. “It was almost certainly the clerks who provided the citation,” Professor Long said. “I suppose their use of the Internet to check the lyrics violates one of the first rules they learned when they were all on law review: when quoting, always check the quote with the original source, not someone else’s characterization of what the source said.”

The larger objection is that the citation is not true to the original point Mr. Dylan was making, which was about the freedom that having nothing conveys and not about who may sue a phone company. (See, e.g., “Me and Bobby McGee.”)

Ah yes, that tricky double negative and those pesky original sources — a scourge to many journal-editing law students, and, it turns out, Supreme Court clerks.

It’s going to be a long action-free summer, folks – at least as far as SCOTUS is concerned.

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