Matt is, of course, right: the fact that college sports have become a commercial machine from which athletes, and athletes alone, are not permitted to profit, is a scandal. In many ways, I think it’s a similar bait-and-switch that’s going on with grad student unionization; the university administration is willing to commercialize many aspects of college life, but when it comes to grad students working for the university all of a sudden no trace of economic discourse may penetrate the hallowed groves of academe. (As someone who was part of a grad student union, I can say without equivocation that the difference it makes in terms of advisor-student relationships is absolutely nothing, and arguments to the contrary are embarrassingly specious nonsense.)
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
In response to recent attempts to pretend that the Republican Party is like a European Christian Democratic Party, providing care to new mothers to go along with cultural conservatism, Sharon Lerner had a great piece:
With the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, Mississippi’s low number of abortions is not an illustration of the “safe, legal and rare” ideal that many talk about, in which a decline in unwanted pregnancies creates a corresponding drop in abortions. Rather, it is the direct consequence of concerted opposition to abortion from the grassroots to all levels of government.
Such concern for the rights of fetuses does not appear to translate into a commitment to promoting the well-being of the children they may become. The uncomfortable irony for an opposition movement purportedly concerned with saving “innocent babies” is that restrictions on abortion are associated with worse outcomes for actual babies. Indeed, children fare terribly in Mississippi. The state with arguably the least access to abortion also has the second-highest rate of child poverty in the country, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Mississippi’s infant mortality rate–a good indication of the health of both women and children–is the highest in the country. For every 1,000 live births, 10.5 infants under age 1 die in Mississippi. In parts of the impoverished Delta region, that number ranges up to 18. (The national infant mortality rate, by comparison, is 6.8.) Interestingly, a postelection comparison found that “red” states had higher infant mortality rates than “blue” ones. In general, states that restrict abortion spend far less money per child than prochoice states on services such as foster care, education, welfare and the adoption of children who have physical and mental disabilities, according to a 2000 book by political scientist Jean Reith Schroedel.
Schroedel also found that women in antiabortion states are worse off than their counterparts in prochoice states. They suffer from lower levels of education, higher levels of poverty, and a larger gender gap in earnings. They are also less likely to enjoy mandated insurance coverage for minimum hospital stays after childbirth. Together, the conditions make for an abysmal reality for women in Mississippi, which came in fifty-first in a 2004 ranking of the status of women in the fifty states and Washington, DC, published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
But, of course, improving funding for mothers might mean a modest increase in taxes for the upper class, so we can’t have that! Wouldn’t be “pro-life.”
Shorter InstaWife: Movies like Fahrenheit 9/11 are just simple, boring propaganda nobody wants to see, which is why the releasing studio took such a bath, earning only $222 million on a $21 million budget. When will those idiots learn that the American public, whose tastes are exactly the same politically reductionist ones as the InstaWife’s, want to see conservative-approved stuff like The Great Raid and Cinderella Man? Now that’s box office gold!
…FMGuru reminds me of my favorite example, America’s Heart and Soul. Touted by NRO and Michael Medved as the anti-F 9/11 that would really represent American values, it pulled in a robust $314 K at the box office…
Elton Beard says a lot of what I was going to say about Garance Franke-Ruta’s recent article about women who get multiple abortions. But there’s a particular type of argument here that crops up a lot, and I think it’s worth pointing out why it’s wrong. Both The New Republic and the abortion debate produce to a lot of contrarian arguments that don’t hold up, and I’m afraid that the combination has also been deadly in this case to Franke-Ruta, whose work is generally terrific. What’s frustrating is that many of the points she brings up–the class effects of Roe, the lack of access to and education about contraception among many poor women–desperately need to be made. The key problem is the “pox on both their houses” frame into which Franke-Ruta–in classic TNR fashion–tries to wedge her potentially valuable argument:
Studies suggest that women having repeat abortions as compared with those having first-time abortions are more likely to be minorities, poor, and victims of sexual abuse–in short, among society’s most vulnerable. Liberals have always sought to aid the neediest, but their fear of undermining abortion rights has paralyzed them when it comes to helping women at risk of repeat abortion. The sad fact is that, three decades after legalization, abortion is no longer mainly a tool women use to shape their own destinies, but rather a symptom of larger social problems that ought to be addressed by policymakers. Realizing this may just mean accepting that there’s some credibility to conservative views on abortion.
Conservatives and liberals alike, she suggests, don’t care about the underlying problems that lead to some women getting multiple abortions. One will search the article in vain, however, for a single advocate of reproductive freedom who doesn’t support providing education, contraception, and post-operative care to women who get abortions. Indeed, she identifies some who do:
There are some post-abortion services available already in the United States, though the efforts are mostly piecemeal. Atlanta’s Feminist Women’s Health Center, one of the oldest abortion providers in the country, offers a shot of the long-acting hormonal contraceptive Depo-Provera and post-abortion counseling to all women who obtain procedures there. Planned Parenthood also has begun to offer post-abortion counseling services at some of its clinics, and it has long made sure that all women who leave their standard post-abortion follow-up visit are provided with a form of birth control.
Ah, so in fact some reproductive clinics do provide these services. In an article not trying to make a specious contrarian point, one might perhaps contrast this with the abjectly useless “pregnancy crisis centers” favored by pro-lifers, which provide pro-life propaganda but no contraception, useful education, or pre- or post-natal care. And perhaps we might ask: is it supporters of abortion rights who want to fund the latter rather than the former? Is it liberals who opposed scientifically accurate information about contraception and subsidized education for the poor? Is it a liberal administration that puts scientifically inaccurate information about contraception on government websites, and far from funding Planned Parenthood clinics won’t give a dime of government money to clinics that even discuss abortion? Of course not.
And that brings us to the bigger problem–without this unjustifiable (and unsubtantiated) attempt to blame advocates of reproductive freedom for the effects of the policies supported by their opponents, the implausiblity of her central causal argument is immediately manifest. The crucial question is this: would discussing women who get multiple abortion make the worthy policy goals she favors more likely to happen? And the answer, I think, is obviously not; indeed, quite the opposite. I agree it would be really nice if in the contemporary United States such a discussion would lead to a desire to make sure that women who have abortions get good post-surgical care and not to the stigmitization of women who get abortions as sluts whose choices need to be limited by “reasonable” regulations of their rights, but alas this simply isn’t the case. Franke-Ruta’s arguments–whatever one thinks of them normatively–might be strategically effective in, say, Germany, but in this country they would be highly counterproductive. And this–and not some opposition to better funding for Planned Parenthood clinics–is why advocates for reproductive rights aren’t anxious to discuss the issue. They understand the nature of abortion politics in this country.
The argument, in other words, seems to be a classic pundit’s fallacy–Franke-Ruta seems uncomfortable with women who get multiple abortions. That’s her privilege, although I personally am not going to moralize about the difficult choices made by women in situations I can’t imagine being in. But her attempt to claim that her normative position is good politics is, I think, pretty clearly erroneous.
I suppose pointing this out at this late date is as futile as complaining when people misuse “begging the question,” but apparently Roger Simon’s deployment of concepts he doesn’t understand doesn’t stop with politics:
Are we in the Age of the Actor? For several decades the auteur theory ruled the cinema with the writer-director (Fellini, Truffaut, Scorsese) king.
Ack–this always annoys me. Leaving aside the oddity of calling Scorsese a “writer-director”–his major films have generally been written by other people–this gets “auteur theory” exactly wrong. Auteur theory had no idea how to deal with the Fellini/Bergman-style writer director, because the theory was about rehabilitating the artistic reputation of Hollywood directors who worked for studios and filmed whatever script they were handed. The point of the theory was to focus on the tensions between a director’s personality and the material he was working with, in order to demonstrate that even directors generally considered hacks lent a coherent artistic personality to the material. You may think this is of somewhat limited value, and being suspicious of grand theory in all fields, I certainly do. (As Pauline Kael said about one application: “Sarris has noted that in High Sierra (not a very good movie) Raoul Walsh repeated an uninteresting and obvious device that he had earlier used in a worse movie. And for some inexplicable reason, Sarris concludes that he would have not have had this job of discovery without the auteur theory.”) But if Simon is right that this is an “age of actors,” this would lead to the renewed relevance of the auteur theory, not a move beyond it.
But thank god we have XFL Media (TM); how often can you find third-rate film critics handicapping the Oscar races in the “MSM”? Advantage: Blogosphere!
I finally remembered to take the much-discussed Garance Franke-Ruta article about repeat abortions to the gym yesterday, so I’ll have more about that later today. But as a preview, interested to know what would happen if there are enough Scalias and Alitos on the Court to allow Republicans to embed their ideas about abortion and sexuality into law? We need only to look to the south to see the effects of the proposed Republican brew of abortion bans, patriarchal gender relations, and lack of rational sex education:
Latin America holds some of the world’s most stringent abortion laws, yet it still has the developing world’s highest rate of abortions – a rate that is far higher even than in Western Europe, where abortion is widely and legally available.
Regional health officials increasingly argue that tough laws have done little to slow abortions. The rate of abortions in Latin America is 37 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the highest outside Eastern Europe, according to United Nations figures. Four million abortions, most of them illegal, take place in Latin America annually, the United Nations reports, and up to 5,000 women are believed to die each year from complications from abortions.
In an interview, a doctor in Medelln, Colombia, said that while he offered safe, if secret, abortions, many abortionists did not.
“In this profession, we see all kinds of things, like people using witchcraft, to whatever pills they can get their hands on,” said the doctor, who charges about $45 to carry out abortions in women’s homes. He spoke on condition that his name not be used, because performing an abortion in Colombia can lead to a prison term of more than four years.
“They open themselves up to incredible risks, from losing their reproductive systems or, through complications, their lives,” the doctor said.
The thing about criminalization is that it’s an extremely bad way of stopping abortions; even in countries more serious about enforcing abortion bans than the United States is likely ever to be, large numbers of abortions will be performed, and whatever modest decreases in aboriton rates they achieve are purchased at the price of negative effects on the health of women and gross inequities in access to safe abortions. Conversely, policies like making birth control and rational sex education widely available and providing child care actually do significantly reduce abortion rates. Even on their own terms, in other words, the set of policies favored by most conservative Republicans don’t work in practice. And if you actually think that women should have the autonomy to control their own bodies and that compelling adherence to traditional sexual mores isn’t a legitimate use of state power, these policies are really, really, really bad.
…from Emily Bazelon:
What should matter more to the senators who will soon decide whether Alito will sit on the Supreme Court is that his record as an appeals court judge shows that his views have not changed since Garner. In case after case, Alito has taken the side of police and prosecutors. Can the police stop—and hold at gunpoint—members of a family who happened to be standing on the doorstep of an apartment that the cops had come to raid? Can the police frisk a 10-year-old girl who is nowhere mentioned in their warrant? Yes and yes. In one opinion after the next, Alito looks at search-and-seizure cases like a former prosecutor, which he is.
Does it matter that in many of these cases, the people getting the back of the hand from the cops are poor and black? Garner’s father argued that the Memphis Police Department’s policy toward fleeing felons violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Between 1969 and 1976, the Memphis police shot and killed eight white suspects and 16 black ones. Only one of the white suspects was neither armed nor assaulting a police officer. Thirteen of the black suspects were. The statistics were part of the evidence presented by Garner’s father. Alito may well not have read that brief. And if he had, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. His concern isn’t the world of Edward Garner.
One word: filibuster.
…from a commenter at Digby’s, shorter Republican Party: “Black children are constitutionally protected until birth. After that they’re fair game.”
Particularly given that I bought the really good scallops at Whole Paycheck it’s rather more expensive than my budget can really justify for home cookin’, but that is some tasty shit.
In other Dreary Saturday Night news flipping over after HNIC (seeing Crosby, who justifies the hype, with the still-lively Lemieux was pretty cool, and the result was better) I note that I have no idea who either the guest host or musical guest on Saturday Night Live are. Or why I would even check in on a show that apparently is keeping its multi-year streak without even a funny sketch intact…
Shakes Sis and Media Girl have excellent posts about a very disturbing case. I don’t know enough about the evidence to speak definitively about the decision of the prosecution not to go forward with her charges. But a false statement charge? Particularly given the inconsistencies in the stories of the alleged attackers, there doesn’t seem to be anything like the evidence necessary to justify the charge, let alone to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the chilling effects of charging her go without saying–if you press forward with a rape charge, you may be charged yourself simply because the prosecution feels they can’t convict? Talk about a profound disincentive to doing something that is already enormously difficult. (Amanda has more.) And, of course, for reasons I discussed last week I’m particularly disinclined to trust judges and prosecutors who think that a woman’s having consented to sex before with the accused party is relevant evidence.
One thing that should come out of this: Oregon needs a rape shield law.
Is shooting a unarmed teenager who stole 10 bucks in the back of the head a reasonable “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment? I think you know how Strip Search Sammy is going to answer this one:
Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s views on abortion caused a stir this week, but another memo that surfaced from his years as a Reagan administration lawyer was notable for its strong support of the police.
Alito wrote that he saw no constitutional problem with a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager who was fleeing after a $10 home burglary.
“I think the shooting [in this case] can be justified as reasonable,” Alito wrote in a 1984 memo to Justice Department officials.
Because the officer could not know for sure why a suspect was fleeing, the courts should not set a rule forbidding the use of deadly force, he said.
“I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer’s dilemma,” Alito advised.
The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead. The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against such fleeing suspects.
The one thing you can say is that on this issue Alito may not be more reactionary than his replacement, who wrote the dissent, although whether O’Connor circa 2005 would have voted the same way is highly questionable. Anyway, if you like gutting the Fourth Amendment, you’ll love Sam Alito.
At least now we know why Ann Althouse likes him so much…
A follow-up article to my previous one about Alito and Casey is up at TAP online. Since I don’t think the class aspects of the plan of conservatives to incrementally dismantle Roe while–to use Rehnquist’s metaphor for the forces of good–leaving its hallow facade as a Potemkin Village of moderation has received enough attention, I’d like to highlight this passage:
What is particularly objectionable is the effect this method of regulating abortion would have on poor women and women in rural areas. American abortion law has always entailed hypocrisy and inequity; before Roe, even in states where abortion was formally banned, doctors performed a significant number of safe abortions in hospitals. Women from affluent families could get access to safe abortions, while less advantaged women were consigned to back-alley butchers. Most of the regulations currently permitted by Casey have the same effects. Regulations such as waiting periods and parental involvement requirements have far more restrictive effects on poor women and women in abusive families than on middle-class women in stable families. Perversely, adopting the Salerno standard would make these inequitable effects an argument in favor of the constitutionality of such regulations.
The best thing to come from Roe–although it was somewhat inadvertent–was the fact that it extended the de facto standards of law that obtained for affluent women and extended them to all women. The state could no longer wink at grey market abortions while keeping formal bans as an omnipresent threat against doctors who performed abortions on the wrong kind of women or promoted their services to actively. Casey has watered this down, but as long as statutes can be facially challenged and the undue burden standard has at least some teeth, it’s a tolerable compromise. The road that the Bush Administration is trying with Ayotte–to take the teeth out of the “undue burden” standard and make doctors vulnerable to prosecution while simultaneously making it far more difficult and expensive and time-consuming to challenge regulations in court–would essentially see a return the pre-Roe status quo ante, making safe abortions the province of women in affluent, well-connected families. This would be a completely indefensible outcome achieved through a dishonest and dishonorable process, and there ‘s no serious question that Alito would go along with it.
The other thing to mention is that having heard oral arguments–the article was essentially written before–I’m more optimistic about the possibility that Ayotte will be disposed of before Alito gets a chance to vote in a re-hearing. The most likely outcome–reading a health exemtpion into the statute–can be reconciled with Casey, and while it would plant the seeds of a move toward making facial challenges, it doesn’t seem likely that Roberts has 5 votes for anything concrete. But the planted seed is bad enough, and remember that O’Connor is gone, Ginsburg is a 72-year old cancer survivor, Souter is 66, and Stevens is 85. Even if disaster is avoided this time, it ain’t over, and the project to slowly destroy Roe isn’t going away.