Pop Goes The Political Culture, Week of September 3, 2018
An Anonymous Trump Staffer Rebekah Kuschmider, MPU co-host
Greetings MPU-niverse! We’ve made it through the last days of summer and, here on the east coast at least, we’re experiencing the rainy weather associated with hurricane season. You all remember hurricanes, right? The kind of storm that can disable the entire utility structure for an island under US control, like what happened in Puerto Rico last year? And a year later 11,000 people still don’t have power? Yeah. That.
In DC, the biggest storm is the storm of speculation about who wrote the anonymous op-ed from inside the Trump administration. The piece, published in the New York Times, confirmed that even Trump’s staff thinks he’s an incompetent shitweasel. Trump is so furious about it that he told the press corps that he wants Jeff Sessions to open an investigation into the matter. The Justice Department responded by saying “Writing columns isn’t a crime, you incompetent shitweasel. We’re not investigating anything.”
So far, no members of the MPU cast have confirmed or denied their involvement in the column. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to see if any of us are implicated.
Meanwhile, here’s all the news that’s not fit to ‘cast!
The Greatest. Don’t @ Me: Last week on the podcast, we talked about the new Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. We all had lots of good things to say about Kaepernick and Nike and the rights of people to express their opinions in the manner they see fit. And this was before we even saw the ad.
Now that the full film has been released, I’m even more psyched for one very simple reason. In the narration, Kaepernick says that Serena Williams is the greatest athlete ever.
For years, fans of Serena have been saying that about her and there’s always some analyst – usually male – who’s right there saying “But Pete Sampras…” or “Well, there are a lot of other athletes in other sports…” before mumbling something about Muhammed Ali or Michael Jordan or someone.
No. NO. Serena is at the top of the damn athletic heap and there is no reason to argue against it. Thirty goddam years that woman has gotten on the court and won. She won big, she won small. She was number one or she was fighting her way back to number one. She got injured and came back. She got pregnant and won a Grand Slam. She damn near died after giving birth, came back, and made it to the finals at Wimbledon. She’s out there tearing up the US Open court this very weekend. She trains, and she works, and she wins. She has done it longer than any other athlete you can name and she’s done it with more grace.
She’s the greatest athlete ever. Thank you Nike for saying it out loud.
And Another Thing: While I’m airing grievances here can we talk about Michelle Obama? About a month ago, she showed up on every social media feed in the country doing a video with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, and Chris Paul telling us all to vote. She’s co-chair of When We All Vote. She’s the face of a a major get out the vote initiative. She’s doing the work.
Then yesterday, her husband shows up and gives a speech and he’s the hero of this election?
Look, I know. I KNOW we all feel like Barack Obama is the savior we need but c’mon. He didn’t save us from Trump in 2016 and he can’t flip Congress single handedly this year.
Michelle is a symbol for all of us who are doing the work this election cycle. From the record number of women who are running for office to the activists who are drawing attention to the continued detention of children to the protestors keeping the Kavanaugh hearing in the news to the thousands of volunteers making calls, knocking on doors, and sending postcards, people are doing the work.
The work is what matters, not the speeches. You can appreciate Barack at this moment but we should all do the work like Michelle.
Yes, You’re Right: If you think the subtext of this whole column is that women of color don’t get enough credit for their impact on our country, you’re entirely correct. Gold star for you.
Science Lesson: During his confirmation hearings this week, Brett Kavanaugh – who got a medical degree from FUCKING NOWHERE, I might add – said something about certain types of birth control being “abortion causing drugs”.
I’m going to assume that Not-A-Doctor Kavanaugh was talking about emergency contraception, sometimes known by its brand names Plan B or Ella. These are hormone-based medications that can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse to prevent a pregnancy. They start a cascade of biological responses that suppress ovulation so that if there are any sperm flailing around a uterus, they won’t have any eggs to fertilize, thus no pregnancy occurs.
If the person taking the emergency contraceptive has already ovulated or ovulation is imminent because the necessary hormone surge has already occurred, the medication is ineffective and pregnancy is a very real risk. Not guaranteed, but there’s a distinct probability.
Once upon a time, the scientists who developed these medications thought perhaps one of the effects of them would be changes to the uterine lining that could prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. During the approval process with the FDA, they listed this as a possible effect and the FDA had them put it on the package insert for the medications, where it remains to this day.
What scientists now know is that the medication suppresses ovulation pretty effectively. When people take the drug at least 2 days before they’ve ovulated, they tend not to get pregnant. The part about preventing a fertilized egg from implanting? Yeah, that didn’t turn out like that thought. The drug doesn’t do that. To quote the scientific findings “There are no data supporting the view that levonorgestrel can impair the development of the embryo or prevent implantation.”
How can we be sure of that? Well, it’s pretty simple. If the drug prevented ovulation AND prevented implantation, it would have a near-zero failure rate and no one who takes it would get pregnant. Instead, continuing research shows that ,“In each study, none of the women who took LNG EC before ovulation became pregnant, but among those who took it on the day of ovulation or after, roughly the same number of pregnancies resulted that you’d expect to see with no use of emergency contraception.”
So, the moral of the story is emergency contraception only works by suppressing ovulation, it doesn’t cause abortions in any form, and the Republican party has a SCOTUS nominee who believes in junk science and right-wing scaremongering.
That’s it for me, folks. Tune in Monday when we drop some knowledge in the More Perfect Union!