Last Thursday, the former Executive Director of South Carolina’s Republican Party went on a “twitter rampage” against Wendy Davis, Huffington Post reports. The tweets were in response to news that Davis may have misrepresented her personal story - which has resulted in an endless barrage of sexist attacks on her character - but they were by far the most disgusting example of a Republican party that is relying on sexism and prejudice to tarnish Davis’ candidacy.
Along with calling Davis a “looker,” “hooker,” and “whore,” Kincannon claims Davis has done “even more damage to modern feminism than Monica Lewinsky,” and that she gets campaign contributions by performing sexual favors for her donors.
AUSTIN, Texas — In October, Susan, a woman who lives in Willacy County in Texas’ southernmost tip, found out she was pregnant. She is married and has three children, and for a few weeks last fall, she couldn’t afford her birth control. Her condition, to her, was not entirely good news.
“I weighed out the pros and cons,” she said. “But I didn’t want to have another baby.”
Susan asked her gynecologist about getting an abortion, but the doctor said she didn’t perform the procedure. For women in her area, there was only one place to go: Reproductive Services of Harlingen, where Dr. Lester Minto has been providing abortions since 1990. She made an appointment, sat anxiously in the packed waiting room, and got it over with quickly, she said.
By the time she came back for a follow-up visit two weeks later, Minto was no longer offering abortions. In fact, the entire Rio Grande Valley—an area with 275,000 women of reproductive age—is now without a single abortion provider.
Most maddening of all, perhaps, was a feeling of powerlessness. Playboy had asked no one in Marfa for input. The work was designed from afar—Phillips had never even visited—and executed without the artist’s presence or accountability. On June 12 Playmate of the Year Raquel Pomplun arrived for a dawn video shoot at Playboy Marfa; a week later, the installation had an opening—two thousand miles away, at the Standard Hotel on Manhattan’s High Line. “It was great,” Wakefield told me later. “There were Playmates there, and the most unlikely people—art-world people—were drawn to their magnetism.” Phillips also enjoyed the evening, though he acknowledged its unusual nature. “You know,” he noted, “it’s the first time I’ve done an off-site opening.”
The only fest Marfans were privy to was the media fest, as reporters called from all over the country to ask about a work the townspeople knew nothing about. “Playboy demonstrates their power in the world, which is a financial power, by putting this here,” said Tim Johnson, a poet and the owner of the Marfa Book Company. “And then the people who live here are made responsible for answering for it, which is not something any of us asked for.”
Author: Beeta BaghoolizadehBeeta Baghoolizadeh is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania and has her Master’s from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the co-editor in chief of the Ajam Media Collective at ajammc.com. You can follow her @beetasays.
On June 25th, State Senator Wendy Davis became a nationally and internationally recognized hero for standing up at the Texas Senate and filibustering her way through Texas Senate Bill 5 (SB5), an anti-abortion bill which imposed severe regulations on abortion clinics in Texas, permitting only five to continue operating in the second largest US state and criminalizing abortion after 20 weeks. This bill failed to pass at the filibuster, but was quickly reintroduced in another special session as House Bill 2 (HB2). Friday, July 12, was the last night of the special session, where the Texas State Senate debated and passed the atrocious bill.
Over the past few weeks, I have gone to the Texas Capitol twice: the first time was as a last minute decision to attend the anti-abortion filibuster, and second, just last Friday, was in solidarity with others who were attending in support of choice.
On the night of the filibuster, I had just arrived in Austin, and my friend suggested that we go straight from the airport. I was so ill-prepared that I showed up at the Capitol in a blue shirt, the color of the so-called ‘pro-life’ activists. Lest anyone assumed that I was another anti-choice activist -and a Muslim one no less- I quickly created a sign reading “PRETEND I’M WEARING ORANGE.” I wanted to make sure people didn’t conflate my blue outfit with Christian-centric religious arguments.
I didn’t need any #creepingsharia tweets with my picture on them.
Although some are pro-life, Muslims are not unequivocally against abortion the same way Christians can be. There is a difference of opinion in the permissibility of the abortion. For example, in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or she has been raped, many jurists will recommend an abortion, or even say it’s mandatory.
Regardless, for me, the bill wasn’t a religious issue. It was about a health issue, dangerously shrouded in religious rhetoric. Preventing safe abortions won’t decrease the number of abortions in Texas—it’d only limit the accessibility of safe clinics to desperate women. It’s not a safeguard against abortions in the state. But the conservative senate was too wrapped up in its own religious beliefs to understand this.
SB5 failed that night, and while we briefly celebrated our success, our state of euphoria dissipated quickly when Governor Rick Perry initiated an extended special session. Too long for anyone to filibuster, the bill would surely pass this time.
I found myself there again, two weeks later, getting ready to go back to the Capitol. It was the first Friday night of Ramadan and I had been fasting all day–no food, no water, from dawn till dusk. With almost no food in the house, I scrambled to make myself a bread and butter sandwich and grabbed half a muffin with which I would break my fast. A friend picked me up at around 8pm, almost an hour before I would be able to break my fast. I was prepared this time, in an orange scarf and dress that I had borrowed from my roommate.
When we got to the Capitol, officers from the Department of Public Security searched our bags, and we walked through a metal detector. One officer took my bag and pulled out my puny sandwich, wrapped in tinfoil.
“It’s a sandwich–I need it to break my fast.”
He shook his head. “No food.”
“But I need it…”
And with that, he walked around the security area and tossed my sandwich in the garbage. I was stunned, too weak from fasting to do anything. My friend, however, was livid. “What are you doing?! You could have let us taken it out.”
“You want it? Go get it,” he smirked.
All day I had been cracking jokes about the confiscation of tampons, saying that people were not only wondering if #creepingsharia allowed abortions, but now also lamented about an Islamist’s take on sanitary pads. The hysteria, however, which would deprive me of my food in the same space where only days before dozens upon dozens of pizzas had been delivered to nourish the hungry protesters, baffled me. This was the #creepingGOP: abortions, tampons and now food were threats to America.
We walked away from the security area and met up with other friends. About a half hour later, I was up on the highest level of the rotunda, sitting to the side with my back against the wall while everyone crowded against the ledges. I broke my fast with water and the half-eaten muffin, which thankfully had been overlooked in the security process. Various officers in uniform walked past me multiple times. When none of them cared about my food, it became clear that this wasn’t a security issue. It was just another way to make it more difficult for me to properly exercise my democratic rights.
I noticed that there were a lot more people wearing blue shirts. On the night of the filibuster, there were almost no people wearing blue, whereas now they seemed like a sizable contingent, even though those in orange still outnumbered them. Inside the rotunda, they swayed in prayer while the pro-choice activists protested loudly around them.
We were there for three hours. We wandered through the rotunda, watched some of the proceedings in the overflowing room, where we got to see the “Senate at Ease” while some women chained themselves to the room. The disruption was much more interesting than listening to State Senator Jane Nelson drone on about how she’s an expert on fetal pain because she’s had five pregnancies.
We left around 11pm because I simply didn’t feel like I could push my body further. I needed food. By the time I got home, the bill -as expected- had been passed.
It is more than likely that most of the Muslims who have shown up at the Capitol over the past two weeks were pro-choice. And yet, both times I had gone I had been greeted with fellow pro-choice supporters holding posters about the Sharia and Taliban taking over Texas. At the time being I had tried to ignore the petty metaphors, but the morning after I awoke to an image that baffled me altogether.
It was a picture of woman dressed in a black burqa with a “Miss Texas” sash around her inside the Capitol. It felt like a slap across the face. I had gone to the Capitol wearing an orange scarf–not a black burqa–and was forced to deal with a more intense fast than usual because of my decision to stand for women’s rights, health and engage in the democratic process. In return, I was met with a caricature of a “Muslim woman” to protest the GOP’s [non-Muslim] oppression.
No matter how orange my scarf was that night, people had managed to conflate the politics of the swaying, praying Christian right with “oppressed” Muslim women swathed in black. Suffice to say, this shallow, knee-jerk polemic both disappointed and infuriated me. Indeed, this atrocious bill has given birth to (no pun intended) a number of facile and unfortunate proclamations about the Muslim world.
As a Muslim and a believer in the right of a woman to make her choices for her own body, I felt that both those in orange and blue – and all those in between acting as referees - failed me and other Muslims in many ways, especially in the spirit of solidarity and inclusiveness.
Texas, I sincerely hope you take advantage of the next election and repeal the anti-abortion bill that sets back women’s health and rights.
I also sincerely hope that you leave your irrelevant posters and juvenile costumes at home so that the democratic space is a more inclusive space.
A jury in Bexar County, Texas just acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of charges that he murdered a 23-year-old Craigslist escort—agreeing that because he was attempting to retrieve the $150 he’d paid to Frago, who wouldn’t have sex with him, his actions were justified.
Gilbert had admitted to shooting Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas Eve 2009, when she accepted $150 from Gilbert and left his home without having sex with him. Frago, who was paralyzed by the shooting, died several months later.
Gilbert’s defense argued that the shooting wasn’t meant to kill, and that Gilbert’s actions were justified, because he believed that sex was included as part of the fee. Texas law allows people“to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”
The 30-year-old hugged his defense attorneys after the “not guilty” verdict was read by the judge. If convicted, he could have faced life in prison. He thanked God, his lawyers, and the jury for being able to “see what wasn’t the truth.”
This afternoon, the Texas House voted down a proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 13, that would have imposed a two-term limit on statewide officeholders (other than judges).
The vote was 61-80 and was not on party lines.
The amendment had cleared the Texas Senate earlier this session by a vote of 27-4.
I’m making a deal with you guys. Once the news calms down we’re going to spend a day posting nothing but positive uplifiting stories. We’ve had too much stuff like this lately and I know it’s very heavy.
But this is one of the heavier news periods at the moment, and sometimes everything hits all at once. — Ernie @ SFB
and it turns out the wife of a former justice of the peace is being charged with capital murder and held with a 10 million dollar bond and her husband, Eric Williams, is being investigated because he was making terrorist threats and used his home computer to threaten the police investigating the DA killing
In September of 1829 slavery was prohibited in Mexico. Because the politically connected Texans were outraged, one month later, the law was changed to allow slavery only in Texas. A few months later in early 1830, Mexico altered its policy under a new government that was less interested in catering to Texas. Mexico passed a law that prohibited further American settlement, and banned importation of additional slaves into Texas. The Mexican abolition movement, following the pattern seen around the world, had apparently pressured for more restrictions. This was a strict proviso, but for the Texans it was survivable, as they already had thousands of slaves within Mexico. The law must have created difficulties for the Texans and been a great source of irritation to them as they worked to develop their slave labour based agricultural economy. There were other grievances by this time, such as the amount of taxes the Texans were required to pay, but none struck home so much as the “bread and butter” issue of slavery. Without it, the Texans could not make a profit and ultimately would be out of business.
As the American population of Texas grew increasingly disgruntled with the various restrictions imposed by Mexico, an independence movement developed led by Stephen Austin. He presented a petition for independence to the Mexican government in 1833, and was then arrested and jailed until 1835. In 1835, there were about 20,000 Texans and 4000 slaves in Texas. In December of 1835 the newly crowned dictator General Antonio Santa Anna amended the slavery laws to ban slavery in Texas.
The settlers and their newly freed leader Austin quickly announced that they would secede from Mexico. To the great dismay of the Texans, however, in December of 1835 President Santa Ana extended the slavery ban to Texas to appease Mexican abolitionists. The Texans immediately rebelled and declared that they were seceded from Mexico, and declared the Republic of Texas. One of their first actions was to ban free blacks from the Republic. Not content with the possibility of withdrawing from Texas, the Texans enlisted the help of citizens of the United States in order to preserve slavery and the huge tracts of cotton growing land. This resulted in the famous siege and battle at the Alamo, a Catholic mission taken over by the Texans.
When the NAACP began challenging Jim Crow laws across the South, it knew that, in the battle for public opinion, the particular plaintiffs mattered as much as the facts of the case. The group meticulously selected the people who would elicit both sympathy and outrage, who were pristine in form and character. And they had to be ready to step forward at the exact moment when both public sentiment and the legal system might be swayed.
That’s how Oliver Brown, a hard-working welder and assistant pastor in Topeka, Kan., became the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that would obliterate the separate but equal doctrine. His daughter, whose third-grade innocence posed a searing rebuff to legal segregation, became its face.
Nearly 60 years after that Supreme Court victory, which changed the nation, conservatives freely admit they have stolen that page from the NAACP’s legal playbook as they attempt to roll back many of the civil rights group’s landmark triumphs.
In 23-year-old Abigail Noel Fisher they’ve put forward their version of the perfect plaintiff to challenge the use of race in college admissions decisions.
Publicly, Fisher and her supporters, chief among them the conservative activist who conceived of the case, have worked to make Fisher the symbol of racial victimization in modern America. As their narratives goes, she did everything right. She worked hard, received good grades, and rounded out her high school years with an array of extracurricular activities. But she was cheated, they say, her dream snatched away by a university that closed its doors to her because she had been born the wrong color: White.
The daughter of suburban Sugar Land, Texas, played the cello. Since the second grade, she said, she dreamed of carrying on the family tradition by joining her sister and father among the ranks of University of Texas at Austin alumni.
And the moment for her to lend her name to the lawsuit might never be riper: The Supreme Court has seated its most conservative bench since the 1930s. The Court is expected to issue a decision any week now in what is considered one of the most important civil rights cases in years.
On a YouTube video posted by Edward Blum, a 1973 University of Texas graduate whose nonprofit organization is bankrolling the lawsuit, she is soft-spoken, her strawberry blond hair tucked behind one ear. Not even a swipe of lip gloss adorns her girlish face.
“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” she says. “I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does it set for others?”
It’s a deeply emotional argument delivered by an earnest young woman, one that’s been quoted over and over again.
Except there’s a problem. The claim that race cost Fisher her spot at the University of Texas isn’t really true.
In the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.
If you’re confused, it is no doubt in part because of how Blum, Fisher and others have shaped the dialogue as the case worked its way to the country’s top court.
Journalists and bloggers have written dozens of articles on the case, including profiles of Fisher and Blum. News networks have aired panel after panel about the future of affirmative action. Yet for all the front-page attention, angry debate and exchanges before the justices, some of the more fundamental elements of the case have been little reported.
Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.
In 2008, the year Fisher sent in her application, competition to get into the crown jewel of the Texas university system was stiff. Students entering through the university’s Top 10 program — a mechanism that granted automatic admission to any teen who graduated in the upper 10 percent of his or her high school class — claimed 92 percent of the in-state spots.
Fisher said in news reports that she hoped for the day universities selected students “solely based on their merit and if they work hard for it.” But Fisher failed to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class, meaning she had to compete for the limited number of spaces up for grabs.
She and other applicants who did not make the cut were evaluated based on two scores. One allotted points for grades and test scores. The other, called a personal achievement index, awarded points for two required essays, leadership, activities, service and “special circumstances.” Those included socioeconomic status of the student or the student’s school, coming from a home with a single parent or one where English wasn’t spoken. And race.
Those two scores, combined, determine admission.
Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school’s rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard.
As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no.
It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.
Neither Fisher nor Blum mentioned those 42 applicants in interviews. Nor did they acknowledge the 168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year. Also left unsaid is the fact that Fisher turned down a standard UT offer under which she could have gone to the university her sophomore year if she earned a 3.2 GPA at another Texas university school in her freshman year.
The right’s war on sex education and women’s access to birth control continues at the Texas Legislature. Two key bills on those issues face important steps in the legislative process this week.
On Tuesday the Senate Education Committee is set to vote on Senate Bill 521, which would impose new state mandates on school districts that use outside entities to provide instruction on sex education. SB 521, by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, would bar anyone affiliated with an abortion provider from teaching sex education in public schools. Even more problematic is that the bill includes other bureaucratic requirements that would make it harder for school districts to offer sex education and for students to take such classes if they are offered. This is a reckless bill in any state, but especially in one with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Click here for more about the SB 521 and its Senate committee hearing earlier this month.
On Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 649, which would effectively encourage employers to deny coverage for birth control in health insurance for employees. HB 649, by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, would give businesses a reimbursement for state taxes if they are fined for refusing to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirement for including coverage for emergency contraception in employee health care plans. Under the bill, any employer could refuse to include such coverage simply by citing a conflict with “religious convictions of the owners of the business.”
A February poll for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 56 percent of the state’s registered voters oppose allowing bosses to deny their employees health care coverage for birth control. Most Texas simply think employers shouldn’t be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees’ health care decisions. Women should be able to make decisions about their own health care — and about when or if to have children — no matter where they work.