Like most good Democrats and decent people with a uterus, I’ve been rather doom and gloom lately because of the garbage in the news. This week Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Men and Millionaires) signed the law that made Virginia the eighth state to mandate ultrasounds before abortions. Progressive superhero Chellie Pingree announced she wouldn’t be running for retiring US. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s open seat in Maine, and Thursday was International Women’s Day, which served as a reminder that we — half the world’s population — still aren’t getting celebrated the other 364 days a year.
So there’s that.
But there were a few good things that came out of this otherwise sludgy last few days. So in the spirit of optimism:
Things that totally didn’t suck in the news this week
- Rush Limbaugh is still on the air, which is always a bummer, but his show is flailing after his misogynistic attacks on Sandra Fluke. Because of the Boycott Rush campaign, reasonable sponsors interested in distancing themselves from Limbaugh’s bizarro tirades are dropping his show left and right. Of the 86 ads aired on WABC’s broadcast of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” Thursday (International Women’s Day, mind you), 77 were free public service announcements, and seven of the nine paid spots were from advertisers who previously vowed to pull their ads from the show. AWKWARD.
- Did you see the jobs report Friday? Republicans did. CQ reported Friday:
The first GOP news release was issued a full 15 minutes after the Labor Department released the news — usually about 30 seconds after — and it was from the Republican Policy Committee, not Boehner or Cantor. The Speaker finally did offer his assessment a half hour after the news. And, while he chided the president, his tone wasn’t as harsh as usual. “It is a testament to the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people that they are creating any jobs in the midst of the onslaught of anti-business policies coming from this administration,” he said.The March employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 227,000 jobs were added in February. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, unemployment for women went down from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent (it remained unchanged for men at 8.3 percent). Of course, these are baby steps, and we’ve got a long way to go. Women have only regained one-third of the jobs we lost in the recession. But it’s hard not to be optimistic when we just had the best year for job growth in more than five years.
It’s hard to be all that critical when almost a half-million people said they joined the labor force last month and almost all of them found work.
- KONY 2012. Just for a second, let’s ignore the controversy about whether Invisible Children is a good organization to donate to. Their campaign to make militia leader Joseph Kony a household name is a sensation. It’s an example of how grassroots advocacy can work in the age of the Internet when we do it right, and seeing my 17-year-old cousin post on Facebook about a Ugandan warlord is pretty damn inspiring. Raven Brooks at the Netroots Foundation has a good post about why KONY 2012 works, and how to use it as a starting point for your cause.
- Republicans are reportedly backing off the fight over contraception. In a survey released Monday, women gave a 15-point advantage to Democrats when asked which party should control Congress. This is an 11-point leap since last summer, which shows, hey, maybe the Republican War on Women is a losing battle.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told TPM her constituents couldn’t get behind the GOP in the fight to cut off access to contraception:
“I heard a lot [from my constituents] because it was in the news this weekend,” she told me. “There’s just an awful lot that’s been going on. There have been some comments made by some of our presidential candidates. There was the incendiary comments made by Rush Limbaugh. I think [these incidents] are just adding to this sense that women have that women’s health rights are being attacked — that in 2012 we’re having a conversation about whether or not contraception should be allowed. I think most thought that we were done with those discussions decades ago. So it’s been kind of an interesting week for women’s health issues.”We’ll see how this one plays out, but it’s hard to imagine this fight continuing or turning out well for anti-women’s health legislators.
These radical battles against women and women's health care are going to be losing ones for conservatives if they keep inspiring progressives and moderates to mobilize. If the right continues down this polarizing path — and the rest of us continue to call them out on it like we did this week — I'm confident we have way fewer doom and gloom days on the horizon.