When I’m cooking, I’ve learned if you have the luxury of time, low and slow is the way to go. Earlier in my scotch-addled life, my friends told me of limbo contests where I physically went low and slow. And speaking of my scotch-addled life, low and slow pretty much described my dating habits.
Low and slow is neither the way to run the government nor is it the way to run the economy. It is inconceivable to imagine a budget lower in basic human services than what we saw this week.
Yesterday in watching Dick Prick Mick Mulvaney, the dust ruffle of crazy town, claim that cutting Meals on Wheels is the compassionate thing to do, I’m pretty much convinced we can’t go much lower. As we say around here, we are “next to the belly of a snake in a wagon rut.”
Obviously, Dolt 45 is as dumb as a box of hair mated with some orange zest and Adderall. He could care less what these crazy ideologues do as long as he can continue belching his lies in front of half-empty venues.
So why should he care? He’s got Mulvaney and anime-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan to shovel the steaming dump Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation just took on the country. This budget, which will never pass, is nothing but the greatest hits from 1980s Heritage Foundation. Not even Reagan dared going this low.
When someone has no shame, there just is no limit to the depths they will sink. Given this first fifty days, it won’t be long before we are plumbing the depths of the Mariana Trench.
When it comes to slow things, the economy is troubling. About a year ago, I started paying attention to certain economic indicators believing Hillary was about to inherit a lethargic economy. There are disturbing indicators.
Here is a truism: Economic expansions never die from old age. The current expansion is seven and half-years old. That is long in the tooth.
Gallup surveys economic confidence and says it is at a historic high. The stock market is at a record high. The economy is still adding jobs. So why am I spending your time on the subject?
We are in a bubble. The confidence and stock market are anticipatory highs. It is not based in value. The highs are based upon a belief in massive Trumpanzee promised corporate tax cuts and the repatriation of $2.1 Trillion in offshore profits. Neither will be invested in expansion, but will be paid out in dividends or in stock buybacks. It will make the 1% even more one-percentier.
Unrelated to this economic giddiness, there are indicators screaming we are heading into another slowdown if not outright recession. Not to bore you, but just a few indicators:
- Employers are cutting back hours. We are seeing the highest percentage in the decline of hours since the 2008 recession.
- Tax receipts are down.
- Retailers are missing their earnings projections.
- Lending standards have tightened.
- Job growth at the S&P companies has gone negative.
All of these are warning signs of a slowing economy or impending recession. Any external event could hasten an economic retreat. Perhaps even monkeying around with one-sixth of the economy with an ill-conceived health care plan or a federal budget that would decimate hundreds of thousands of employees could precipitate it. Who knows?
I do know this: There are very few tricks left in the wheelhouse to combat recession. We will hear tax cuts from this bunch of Neanderthal MAGAbators, but as we have seen time and time again, sloganeering is not economic policy.
We are still paying for the last time we allowed this knuckle-dragging crowd to raid the Treasury with tax cuts, two wars, and unfunded benefit programs. Half of the national deficit is due to giving them the credit card and hoping for the best. Well, we know how that turned out.
Why do I think this is important enough to take your time this morning? From what I saw in the proposed budget, these people are unimaginative at best and stone-cold ignorant at worst. They are uncaring and vindictive. They are politically deaf. Power is a means to an end for them.
The choices represented in their budget were callous and heartless. If the worst happens, their response to an economic downturn will be likewise – callous, heartless, low, and slow. Human suffering will be but a minor inconvenience for a $2.1 Trillion payday. Daddy needs a new Gulfstream 650.
What’s on your mind today?
There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their—certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.
It’s not. But so said Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s senior advisor with an office on the 2nd floor of the White House (because he doesn’t like stairs), and the first woman to run a winning Presidential campaign. She is also the person who invented the phrase “alternative facts” and the Bowling Green Massacre. (Also fun fact: Conway’s husband, George T. Conway III, is a litigation partner at law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, whose previous notable alumni include Glenn Greenwald.)
Conway’s rise to power and fame has been long and steady. She first gained prominence as a right-wing blond pundit in the 1990s, along with Laura Ingraham and Barbara Olson. Over the years she has worked for Newt Gingrich and Todd “Legitimate Rape” Aikin. In 2016 she endorsed Ted Cruz for President and campaigned for him and against Donald Trump. Her numerous media appearances blasting Trump blasted her into election year stratosphere, so much so that when Cruz folded his wings, Conway was brought to the Trump campaign by the very scary Mercer family. (Mercers are just like the Kochs, but 100% more evil. They own Breitbart, among many other notable acts of devilry.) Once at the helm of Trump’s campaign, Conway really began to shine. Her dizzying feats of triangulation, circular talk and topic avoidance, became an Olympic sport. And it’s really not too crazy to say that she is a yuge reason Trump managed to “win.” She helped humanize him. Somehow, for a very long time, people managed to see Conway as a human herself, even SNL (where she is played by Kate McKinnon) always portrayed her as a good person stuck in an impossible situation working for an awful man, but not knowing how to stop him. (Same fantasies still exist about Ivanka Trump and Melania, contrary to all existing evidence.) That is patent nonsense, of course. Conway knew exactly what she was doing and helped give the world Trump. She is not a victim.
But everything that goes up must come down. And Conway is on her way down. Her TV appearances have dwindled because nobody wants to book her. She was temporary banned from CNN. She has been permanently (?) banned from Morning Schmoe. Shep Smith on Fox openly mocks her. (“…senior adviser Kellyanne Conway — who we don’t quote much anymore because, well, history”). Each time she gives a major interview she invents a crazy story (Bowling Green Massacre and spying microwaves are most notable over the past few weeks.) She also got a fair amount of… shall we call it “alternative feedback” to a photo of her sitting on the couch in the Oval Office with her feet up while surrounded by a large group of black men. Granted, she was prepping to take a photograph and that was one way to do it. (One way, not the only way). But when you combine all the nonsense, Conway really does seem to be coming undone and unhinged.
In a February piece in the New York Times, Erin Gloria Ryan, summarized her growing dislike for Conway, which to her centers on Conway’s faux feminism.
Once she took the reins of Donald Trump’s campaign, though, she went from smooth to slippery. She’d hammer Hillary Clinton for talking too much about gender and duck behind her femininity in the face of legitimate criticism. If she succeeded, it was because she was Kellyanne. If she failed, it was because she was a woman.
As Kellyanne’s once-forceful cable news denials have disintegrated into whimpers, I can’t say I feel anything for her at all. I don’t mind when people point out how tired she looks. I simply cannot dredge up any sympathy for a person who has acknowledged the structural problems most women face only when she is personally facing them, or used them as derailing tactics when she’s losing an argument. I can’t mourn the downfall of a fair-weather feminist, a woman who has used her power to hurt other women.
Ms. Conway made her bed. And now it’s time for her to get some sleep.
In different, lighter and more empowering news: it took 188 years for Fanny Mendelssohn to get some recognition she deserves, but better late than never. Fanny was the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn, one of the great Romantic composers, who – among many great works of music – gave us the Wedding March. In 1829 he is said to have written a piano sonata. The manuscript, which was discovered in the 20th century, was autographed “F Mendelssohn” and the assumption was that it was Felix’s. But in 2010 a Duke graduate student proved that “F” was Fanny, not Felix, and last week the work was finally performed with Fanny’s name attached as composer. We actually know that Fanny composed over 460 pieces of music. It was unusual for women to openly composer and publish, so Felix arranged to have a handful of her works published under his name. In 1842, when visiting Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, the Queen told Felix that she intended to sing one of his songs for him. Felix confessed that the song was actually composed by his sister. Fanny died in 1847 and is buried in Berlin.
Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a good International Women’s Day. I saw quite a few women wearing red at my client site last week in honor of “A Day without a Woman.” It was inspirational. I think there are several more actions planned from the organizers of the Women’s March, so stay tuned!
Now to the title of my post. This comes from some research I’ve been doing on the human brain, and the way it works to keep us alive and protect us from threats. This won’t be a super-science-y piece – more of a meditation on the state our country is in, and how it’s possible for sub-human cretins like Drumpf, Bannon and their minions to win even one vote, much less 60-odd million.
As I’m sure many of you know better than I, there are older, more primitive parts of our brains that only exist to make sure we quickly and instinctively respond to threats. From an evolutionary perspective, these parts of the brains are extremely important. They initiate the “fight or flight” response, which actually also includes a “freeze” as well, giving us microseconds to decide either to go to war, or to retreat.
After millions of years of evolution, we actually developed the capability to process these responses and evaluate them. Ah, the frontal lobe! Human beings develop this part of the brain in young adulthood. At least, some human beings do.
…It organizes responses to complex problems, plans steps to an objective, searches memory for relevant experience, adapts strategies to accommodate new data, guides behavior with verbal skills and houses working memory. Its orbitofrontal circuit manages emotional impulses in socially appropriate ways for productive behaviors including empathy, altruism, interpretation of facial expressions. Stroke in this area typically releases foul language and fatuous behavior patterns [bolding mine].
My argument today is that Drumpf and his supporters have either not developed their frontal lobes, or they have developed them, but are unable to use them. Their amygdalae are in charge, causing them to respond unthinkingly to perceived threats without the calming influence of the orbitofrontal circuit. This inability to counter the constant screaming of “Danger, Will Robinson!” makes them extremely susceptible to manipulation by other like-minded people, who deeply understand the constant state of anxiety in which these primitive brains exist.
In other words…they are stupid. And because they’re stupid, they’re evil.
Good Sunday Widdershins!
I had been at somewhat of a loss last weekend and this one on what kind of post tying in some songs or movies that I could do. Then one of our fellow shinners mentioned the possibility of writing on the Oscar fubar and that yeah, stuff happens. We know the story well by now.
The two accountants in charge of handing out the envelopes at the 2017 Academy Awards “froze” when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner over Moonlight, this according to the show’s stage manager.
Gary Natoli spoke to The Wrap about what occurred backstage as the events unfolded, saying Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, accountants with PricewaterhouseCoopers who handled the Oscars balloting, didn’t react fast enough when the mistake was made.
The veteran stage manager said he immediately told other stage managers in the wings to get Cullinan and Ruiz onstage to correct the error. But, he added, both the accountants hesitated.
They probably “hesitated” because in fact, they are accountants, CPAs in fact. These are not people who are used to being front and center on nationwide television. No, these are backstage -backoffice type folks who deal with pencils (probably good ones like Ticonderoga #2s), and adding machines with lots of paper spilling out of them.
So, as they say, shit happens or to be passive about it: mistakes were made. And that brings us to our musical theme: Mistakes. There is a goodly number of songs about mistakes and not necessarily mistakes of the romance type. My choices are below.
(1) Everybody Makes a Mistake ~ Otis Redding
(2) Last Mistake ~ Glenn Hughes
(3) Make a Mistake with Me ~ Brad Paisley
(4) A Mistake ~ Fiona Apple
(5) We took the wrong step years ago ~ Hawkwind
(6) Laughing ~ David Crosby (from 1st solo album)
Okay so those are my choices. Feel free to add your own in the comments. Oh and here’s one mistake none of us made:
This is an open thread for you to take wherever you wish.
Noted scholar and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” So to begin my self-allotted 800 words, what do I do? I quote a smart man explaining his utter disdain for quotes.
True story. I love quotes. Collect them I do. I’m always looking for smart words from those who have journeyed before. Their wisdom is manifest and unmistakable. I find comfort in that.
So this week while thinking about this post, I began looking for a quote about shame. There weren’t that many shame quotes and the few I found were all wrong. They talked about shame as a regulator of behavior – as something to be “ashamed of”. There weren’t any quotes about the lack of shame.
Given the lack of quotes about shamelessness, it might indicate we are regressing along the evolutionary continuum. I imagine shamelessness requires less higher reasoning and a greater reliance on the lower brain stem – which brings me to Supreme Commander Monkey Butt (hereinafter “His Redness” or sometimes “Dolt 45” or “His High Assholiness”).
When I’ve described Dolt 45’s personality traits, I’ve been quite reticent about his mental health. With a high degree of probability I can surmise his behavior patterns, but his mental condition I will leave to others.
This brings me to his shamelessness. The only shame he fears is being labeled a fraud which is his primary and paramount behavioral avoidance priority. For all other types of normal, human shame – he has none. The shame a normal human would suffer does not faze him.
Within the last forty-eight hours, he told Tea Party groups not to worry if the Trump/RyanCare plan failed because he would make sure the ACA failed so he could blame the Democrats. Or telling the same groups he was fine with accelerating the human suffering by speeding up the Medicaid cutbacks by two years if that’s what it takes to win. Sociopathic behavior for sure, but no evidence of shame.
My point is this: While His High Assholiness’ behavior is abhorrent, it is the new Republican Trumpism. He is near the perfect Republican or so says at least 89% of self-described Republicans. Again, my feeble mind is called to a quote from H.L. Mencken:
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
The great and glorious day has arrived and the White House is now resplendently adorned by the consummate “downright moron” who happens to be unburdened by shame. He was the apple-eyed desire of the plain folks or at least 70,000 under-educated white men in three states. That desire still burns white-hot in nine out of ten Republican hearts.
These Trumpian sycophants know no shame. Just consider: Passing legislation affecting one-sixth of the economy without a hearing in the dead of night. Or ending life-sustaining medical care for maybe 15,000,000 people. Or ending opioid therapy or mental health treatment for millions. Or ending health clinics and outreach for the poorest and most under-served populations. Or doing all of this without an estimate of the costs.
All of this to give the wealthiest, most secure, and most powerful a massive tax cut. And on top of that giving insurance companies and medical device manufacturers a tax cut. And on top of that making sure the inadequate tax credits are as regressive as possible without regard to need or ability to pay. And on top of that, and this is where the shamelessness is extraordinary, financing the whole damn thing by draconian cuts to Medicaid – cuts to the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable among us.
This bill isn’t a health care plan, it is a massive tax cut disguised as a political slogan to repeal the ACA. It is a WealthCare plan. It is a risible act of ignominy so outrageous it wouldn’t even make the SNL trashcan.
As discerning Widdershins, you are asking, “Why isn’t he mentioning the hypocrisy?” The answer is simple – without shame there is no hypocrisy. Talking to these people about hypocrisy is like talking to a cobra about venom or a skunk about stink. It is what makes them who they are.
The inimitable Mr. Emerson was a transcendentalist meaning he believed in the inherent goodness of individuals. I want to believe that too since there’s no shame in that – at least not yet.
I’m going to leave you with a musical interlude then I’ll list some links for interesting stories I couldn’t work into my self-indulgent rant/therapy. As always, take the safety off, comment at will, and thanks for listening.
Speaking of clowns, here’s one, and he’s a substitute for the Presidential Daily Briefing:
A wonderfully researched study of 1.25 million stories by the Columbia Journalism Review indicating Breitbart to be the right-wing media anchor hub of a distinct and insulated media system that appears to have set the agenda and overall tone for Hillary’s negative coverage.
An interactive demonstration that the “higher premium” lamentation by the shameless Republicans is, like so many things, made of whole cloth.
The lackadaisical use of military force is troubling and a bad omen of things to come. One week of bombing is equal to one year of missions under Obama.
Watch Paul Ryan’s Adam’s Apple when he’s asked about his “good, best friends” the rich.
On March 4th, The Thing in the White House sent out a bunch of angry tweets blasting the previous President for wiretapping Isengard Trump Tower. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Then 30 mins later: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” When asked to clarify this insanity, The Thing’s minions really could do nothing but heee and hawww. The Thing read it somewhere, they said. NY Times! Louise Mensch! BBC! Naturally once reporters dug deeper, they found that NO, none of those reports talked about wiretapping. Mensch broke the story on her right-wing blog HeatStreet on November 7th about the FISA warrant, but all she said was that a FISC court granted permission to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” In question was a mysterious communication between two Russian banks and a server in Trump Tower. (David Corn of Mother Jones broke the story of the two banks and Trump Tower, but all media dismissed it as a bizarre conspiracy theory a couple of weeks earlier.) In the follow-up reports to Mensch’s story, BBC and the failing NY Times confirmed a FISA warrant, but nobody mentioned wiretaps… except Breitbart and then The Thing in its Tweets. Ahhhhh, the plot thickens. Where did Breitbart get the information about wiretaps at Trump Tower and did The Thing just leak top secret information in a series of Tweets? Sure seems that way. Will anybody hold him accountable? LOL.
There are fleeing moments when it feels like Lady Lindsey Graham and Hero John McCain might hold The Thing accountable for the numerous impeachable offenses it has committed. Earlier today Graham tweeted: “An attack on one political party should be considered an attack on all. We must push back on Russian election interference at home & abroad.” That sounds great! However it should also be noted that Graham had lunch with The Thing earlier in the day.
“Great lunch meeting with @POTUS today. President Trump is strongly committed to rebuilding our military which is music to my ears. (1/3)
President Trump is in deal-making mode and I hope Congress is like-minded. (2/3)”
“How good was the meeting with @POTUS?
I gave him my NEW cell phone number.”
Somebody responded: “1-800-DOOR-MAT?” And then “You, sir, are a profile in courage.”
And that, folks, is Lindsey Graham summarized in a handful of tweets. We have to get used to the notion that no, Graham and McCain won’t hold The Thing accountable for anything until they’ve gotten what they want from him: tax cuts for the rich, bigger military, gutting ACA, etc. etc. etc. Then maybe, possibly, once that’s all done, they’ll throw The Thing overboard.
Speaking of handing out cell numbers, can anybody afford a new cell phone after Republicans pass Trumpcare? Jason Chaffetz, the man who investigated Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to death, and who doesn’t think there is any reason to look into Trump’s connections to Russia, went on CNN to start selling Trumpcare to America.
Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions for themselves.
This is, of course, patently absurd. An iPhone unsubsidized by a phone company might cover one month’s premium for a single person. How many iPhones does Chaffetz think people buy? Of course, Chaffetz himself doesn’t have to buy his own phone. He gets one from work. His cell bill gets covered too. “How much does an iPhone cost” is the new “How much is a gallon of milk?” and Chaffetz doesn’t know the cost of either.
Overall Trumpcare is going to gut poor people into oblivion. It gives tax breaks to the rich, provides insurance companies with tax deductions on CEO salaries, will raise costs of premium, reinstate caps, gut preexisting conditions. Millions of people will lose their insurance. Many of them were Trump voters. Sadly many of them were not. But they will suffer also.
Why do Republicans hate poor people? It’s a question that has been asked often and there are many answers. As it came up again in the current Trumpcare discussion, I was reminded of a scene in E.M. Forster’s great novel “Howards End.” In the 1910 novel Forster explored 3 groups of people from 3 different classes: the extremely wealthy and conservative Wilcoxes, upper middle class but liberal Schlegels, and poor but aspiring for something bigger Basts. The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, try to help poor Leonard Bast, but their well-meaning interventions in his life, as well as not-well meaning interventions from the Wilcoxes, prove disastrous. He loses his job as a clerk in an insurance company after following bad advice from patriarch Henry Wilcox. When the impetuous Helen (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the magnificent film, with Emma Thompson as Margaret) tries to make her case for helping the poor to the condescending 1%-er Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins in the film), the following exchange takes place. Written in 1910, “Howards End”is still relevant in 2017.
From Chapter 22
He [Henry Wilcox] raised his finger. “Now, a word of advice.”
“I require no more advice.” [said Helen]
“A word of advice. Don’t take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn’t, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilisation moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to pretend that any one is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk’s loss of salary. It’s just the shoe pinching–no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse.”
Helen quivered with indignation.
“By all means subscribe to charities–subscribe to them largely– but don’t get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question–except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal–”
“I didn’t say–”
“Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can’t. There always have been rich and poor. I’m no fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilisation is moulded by great impersonal forces” (his voice grew complacent; it always did when he eliminated the personal), “and there always will be rich and poor. You can’t deny it” (and now it was a respectful voice)–“and you can’t deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilisation has on the whole been upward.”
“Owing to God, I suppose,” flashed Helen.
He stared at her.
“You grab the dollars. God does the rest.”
It was no good instructing the girl if she was going to talk about God in that neurotic modern way. Fraternal to the last, he left her for the quieter company of Mrs. Munt.
“Don’t ever discuss political economy with Henry,” advised her sister. “It’ll only end in a cry.”
“But he must be one of those men who have reconciled science with religion,” said Helen slowly. “I don’t like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good–it is always that sloppy ‘somehow’ will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Brits of today are in pain.”
Also, in brief: Richard Steele, the British spy who wrote the infamous “pee pee” dossier, has resurfaced. While American Senators want to hear him testify about what he knows.
WikiLeaks is dumping top secret CIA documents.
And contrary to earlier denials that he’s never met the Russian Ambassador (a man nobody has ever met), a newly unearthed article in the Wall Street Journal from last April says that Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and greeted him warmly.
What’s on your mind Widdershins? This is an open thread.
Good Monday, Widdershins! It’s been another dizzying, crazy-making week in Washington. It’s almost impossible to make sense of all the Republicans melting down in public, including the fact that Mike Pence (currently being marketed as “The Normal One”) used a private email server to conduct government bidness as Indiana’s governor! Yes, that’s Our Girl reading about it over there on the right side.
Let’s take a little break from the cray-cray and talk about some of the good things going on. As we know, March is Women’s History Month, and March 8, 2017 is International Women’s Day. Thanks to the Women’s March, a spontaneous outpouring of love, positivity and opposition the day after Drumpf’s inauguration, women, and those who support us, have been energized for activism in a way they haven’t been in decades.
This year, March 8 is A Day Without A Woman.
In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.
Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:
- Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
Ah, but what are we women yammering about, skeptics may grumble. After all, women aren’t that far away from being equal. And it’s true, we’ve made some strides. Maybe we should wait! According to the IWD website, if we continue on our current course, women will achieve gender parity in 2186.
I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.
When I read that figure, I thought, huh. Weren’t we doing better a few years ago? Why yes. Yes we were.
On average, the 144 countries covered in the Report have closed 96% of the gap in health outcomes between women and men, unchanged since last year, and more than 95% of the gap in educational attainment, an improvement of almost one full percentage point since last year and the highest value ever measured by the Index. However, the gaps between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remain wide: only 59% of the economic participation gap has been closed—a continued reversal on several years of progress and the lowest value measured by the Index since 2008—and about 23% of the political gap, continuing a trend of slow but steady improvement. Weighted by population, in 2016, the average progress on closing the global gender gap stands at a score of 0.683—meaning an average gap of 31.7% remains to be closed worldwide across the four Index dimensions in order to achieve universal gender parity.
Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year, while 74 have seen it decrease. It therefore has been an ambiguous year for global gender parity, with uneven progress at best.
Sometimes statistics like this can seem dry. This year, in which we saw a feces-throwing orangutan being inaugurated as President, instead of the first woman ever, it’s as pertinent and full of emotional impact as the shameful and terrifying deportations, anti-Semitic hate crimes, and virulent, violent racism flourishing in the Age of Republican Hate.
But damn, I was going to talk about the good things, right? Here are 31 days of sheroes to inspire us. And for those who want to talk about the insanity du jour, this is an open thread.