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Whence springs Todd Akin's belief in magic, rape-proof vaginas?

Justine Larbalestier provides some context for Republican MO senate nominee Todd Akin statement that, "from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

It turns out that this belief in magic sperm-rejecting vaginas was the kind of thing that was believed in 1785, when Samuel Farr argued in his groundbreaking treatise on law and medicine that:

Samuel Farr, in the first legal-medicine text to be written in English (1785), argued that “without an excitation of lust, or enjoyment in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place.” Whatever a woman might claim to have felt or whatever resistance she might have put up, conception in itself betrayed desire or at least a sufficient measure of acquiescence for her to enjoy the venereal act. This is a very old argument. Soranus had said in second-century Rome that “if some women who were forced to have intercourse conceived . . . the emotion of sexual appetite existed in them too, but was obscured by mental resolve,” and no one before the second half of the eighteenth century or early nineteenth century question the physiological basis of this judgement. The 1756 edition of Burn’s Justice of the Peace, the standard guide for English magistrates, cites authorities back to the Institutes of Justinian to the effect that “a woman can not conceive unless she doth consent.” It does, however, go on to point out that as matter of law, if not of biology, this doctrine is dubious. Another writer argued that pregnancy ought to be taken as proof of acquiescence since the fear, terror, and aversion that accompany a true rape would prevent an orgasm from occurring and thus make conception unlikely.

(Quote from Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex).

Justine notes that Farr's work was written in the same century in which Mary Toft was widely believed to have given birth to rabbits.

So yeah, that the kind of "science" that Todd Akin will bring to the Senate.

“Legitimate Rape” and Other Craptastic Beliefs From the Olden Days

Mitt Romney's tax bill under Paul Ryan's budget? 0.82% (Your taxes will probably go up, though)

Paul Ryan wants to kill all tax on capital gains, interest, and dividends -- income you get from owning things, rather than doing a job. Under this plan, Mitt Romney's $21,000,000 in 2010 income would be largely tax-exempt. Only his speaking and author fees -- $593,996 -- would be taxed, and only at 25%, for a net tax of $177,650 on $21,661,344 -- that is, 0.82%.

But don't worry, the government won't go broke if the super-rich are virtually tax exempt. Under Ryan's budget, tax on the bottom 30% of earners will increase. Matthew O'Brien explains in The Atlantic:

It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.

Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan's Plan (via Reddit)

Romney's tax-free decade

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has told the press that the reason Mitt Romney won't release his tax returns is that he paid no tax at all for a decade. (via Reddit) Cory

Mitt Romney promises a chicken in every pot and a porn filter on every PC (except for the chicken)

Here's Mr Romney on the campaign trail in 2007, in Radar O'Reilly's hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, demonstrating his mastery of First Amendment jurisprudence and the nature of the technology industry -- as well as the technical feasibility of pornography filters -- promising mandatory game-rating systems (with a prohibition on their sales to kids) and a technology mandate requiring all PC vendors to place a pornography filter on new computers, on the grounds that this will "make sure their kids don't see [pornography]." I think Mr Romney uses "make sure" in a different, more nuanced way than the rest of us do, meaning, "not be sure at all."

Mitt Romney in 2007:Porn Filter on Computers (via Reddit)

Realtime Mitt Romney wealth accumulation calculator


The "Mitt Romney just made" page is a running calculator that shows a realtime estimate of Romney's earnings while you watch (He made $940.38 while I wrote a couple of blog posts and got a bowl of cereal for my daughter). It also lets you calculate your own Romney earnings. For example, making a 10-minute egg (including the time it takes for the water to boil, and a minute in ice-water to loosen the shell):

"In the time it takes me to boil an egg, Mitt Romney makes $2,596.08"

Mitt Romney just made: (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Romney, the NAACP, and tactical booing

Everyone's seen the video of Mitt Romney being booed at an address to the NAACP where he promised to kill "Obamacare" (AKA Romneycare). But did he plan on being booed? "He’s not likely to receive many black votes in any case, and boos would allow him to look principled in the face of opposition and bolster his image with independents and conservatives" Cory

Mitt Romney doesn't know how Venn diagrams work


From Sociological Images's Lisa Wade:

Mitt Romney’s campaign put out a set of graphics illustrating a “gap” between what Obama promised and what he has delivered. The graphic is in the form of a Venn diagram, a visual designed to show the overlap between two conditions...

Unfortunately, Romney’s overlapping circles are not Venn diagrams, making the campaign somewhat ridiculous and giving nerdy liberals all over America a good chuckle.

HOW NOT TO VENN DIAGRAM

Meet the legions of wingnuts who think Andy Griffith was a communist and want him to burn in hell

Remember lovable old Andy Griffith, beloved star of music and TV, who died this week? Turns out that his career involved 46-second appearance in a Ron Howard-directed Barack Obama campaign ad, and a 32-second commercial for universal health care. For this, the online right wing have branded him a communist and figuratively danced upon his grave. Comments for The Blaze's obit for Griffith are seething with vituperative examples of Matlock-hating:

Progressive POS. Have fun burning in Hell for eternity. — Red Meat

Good people don’t promote laws that will directly lead to the death of millions, hope someday I get to spit on his grave. — Swampy

So long Andy [smiley emoticon] You are a total sell out to this great nation. You are a communist piece of garbage and you will not be missed. — Truthbeliever2

Sadly, my first thought when I saw the headline was “if he’d passed away at age 82 I would have missed him so much more” … Now, I only feel angry the old shill didn‘t live another year or two so he’d have to face a “death panel” before kicking it. The old bastrd died too soon to reap what he helped sow. I feel cheated that we’ll never get to hear him lament his decision to be a wh0re for the socialist DNC. — Wool-Free Vision

Another dead Democrat…today’s shaping up to be a better day than expected. — teddrunk

Andy Griffith Dies at 86 (via Wonkette)

Texas Republicans call for an end to critical thinking in schools

A meeting of the Texas Republican party in Fort Worth came out with a list of demands for the education system, including a demand that schools end the practice of teaching "higher order thinking skills" because these challenge "student's fixed beliefs" and undermine "parental authority."

In the section titled "Educating Our Children," the document states that "corporal punishment is effective" and recommends teachers be given "more authority" to deal with disciplinary problems.

Additionally, the document states the party opposes mandatory pre-school and kindergarten, saying parents are "best suited to train their children in their early development."

Texas Republican Party Calls For Abstinence Only Sex Ed, Corporal Punishment In Schools (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Republican conventions better for strip bars than Democratic ones

As the Democratic National Convention prepares to descend upon Charlotte, the Charlotte NPR affiliate perform the regular ritual of sending their reporter to talk to strip bar owners about how Republicans are much better for strippers and their employers than Democrats:

“Hands down, the Republicans have always been our best customers,” says Angelina Spencer, the Executive Director of the Association of Club Executives. It is the national trade organization for adult nightclubs.

“And they tend to be business-focused,” she says. “That’s really all I can say. We get clients from all walks of life, but for whatever reason… I have heard club owners say, ‘Boy, those Republicans really are great customers.’”

Strip Clubs Pony Up For The DNC (via Naked Capitalism)

Republican revisionism and civil rights history

Jonathan Chait takes to New York Magazine to explain how a revisionist version of American civil rights history paints the Republicans as the party of racial equality:

The civil rights movement, once a controversial left-wing fringe, has grown deeply embedded into the fabric of our national story. This is a salutary development, but a problematic one for conservatives, who are the direct political descendants of (and, in the case of some of the older members of the movement, the exact same people as) the strident opponents of the civil rights movement. It has thus become necessary for conservatives to craft an alternative story, one that absolves their own ideology of any guilt. The right has dutifully set itself to its task, circulating its convoluted version of history, honing it to the point where it can be repeated by any defensive College Republican in his dorm room.

The Conservative Fantasy History of Civil Rights (via Making Light)

Visualizing GOP presidential candidate approval ratings as 3D printed buttplugs

Matthew Epler's Grand Old Party project takes the approval-rating curves of GOP presidential hopefuls and turns them into 3D solids, then turns those into buttplugs.

Grand Old Party demonstrates that as a people united, our opinion has real volume. When we approve of a candidate, they swell with power. When we deem them unworthy, they are diminished and left hanging in the wind. We guard the gate! It opens and closes at our will. How wide is up to us.

In an age of information, we rely on hard facts. Each of the shapes you see here come directly from poll data collected by Gallup. This data reflects approval ratings for each GOP candidate among registered Republican voters from December 10, 2011 to April 1, 2012. Each shape’s girth is a reflection of popularity while their height is a reflection of time.

The contours of these delightful shapes conjure up the waves of amber grain and those lapping at the rim of our great nation spanning from sea to shining sea. As the battle for the Presidency rails on, we must remember that Americans may may have achieved freedom through war, but they are also a people of love. After all, in the end all we have is each other.

3D Printing and wonders of the Internet

Update: Derp. It's a dupe.

How Mitt Romney "created jobs"

Gazillionaire financier Mitt Romney is the latest "CEO President" offered up by the GOP, on a platform of "job creation." When Romney oversaw Bain capital, he supervised the takeover of American Pad and Paper. When the deal was complete, the 258 employees were marched out of the Marion, Indiana factory, told they were fired, and told they could re-apply for their jobs at lower salaries and with fewer benefits. They were warned that some of them would not be re-hired. A long piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer and Leigh Montgomery consider the record of his imperial corporateness:

“We were told they bought the assets, not the union or the [labor] contract,” recalls Randy Johnson, who at the time worked as a machine operator and was a union shop steward. The workers – some the third generation in their families to have jobs there – eventually went on strike, and Bain closed the factory 5-1/2 months after acquiring it...

In an analysis of Bain Capital under Romney, the Journal estimated that Bain made $2.5 billion in profits on $1.1 billion invested in 77 separate deals. Of those 77 transactions, 22 percent ended with the firms in bankruptcy after the eighth year of the Bain investment. Bain disputes the Journal’s account as inaccurate.

Is Mitt Romney really a job creator? What his Bain Capital record shows. (via Reddit)

When the infographic craze finally goes too far

"Grand Old Party is data visualization project. It is also a set of butt plugs." (Thanks, Ben Goldacre. I think.) Maggie

Shep Smith makes a political funny

Say what you will about Shep Smith's politics and personality, he pretty much nailed the cognitive dissonance of Mitt Romney's reaction to Gingrich dropping out of the GOP race.

Shep Smith reacts to Mitt Romney reacting to Newt Gingrich quitting (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)