She stands in front of the Wall Street Bull, as women stage A Day Without A Woman…. (More)

Squirrels like statues because we understand – or stand under – the avian digestive tract. See, birds have no urinary bladder because that extra fluid would make it harder for them to fly. And they usually “lighten the load” right before they take off. So if a bunch of birds are sitting in Árbol Squirrel, then Mrs. Squirrel and I end up mopping our patio and our roof and … well, you get the point … which is that squirrels like statues because they give birds somewhere else to sit. And something else that rhymes with sit.

But I like this new statue even though it’s nowhere near Árbol Squirrel:

The world’s third-largest asset manager installed a bronze statue of a defiant girl in front of Wall Street’s iconic charging bull statue on Tuesday morning as part of its new campaign to pressure companies to add more women to their boards.

State Street Global Advisors, a nearly $2.5 trillion investor and unit within State Street Corp., is rolling out the campaign ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

The money manager said it would vote against boards if a company failed to take steps to increase its number of members who are women. State Street plans to send a letter to 3,500 companies on Tuesday asking the companies to act.
“There has been a lot of discussion on this topic, but the needle hasn’t moved materially,” Lori Heinel, State Street’s deputy global chief investment officer, told Business Insider after the statue’s installment.

State Street wants every company it’s targeting to have at least one female board member and to take steps toward fixing its gender gap, Heinel said.

“We’re not going to always automatically vote against the company, but we want to make sure there are tangible, concrete measures they are taking,” Heinel said.

You can see a full-body photo and read more about her at that link. And I love the idea of a defiant girl standing in front of the Wall Street bull. But someone please get her an umbrella.

“A one-day demonstration of economic solidarity”

And while we’re on the topic of female defiance, today the organizers of the Women’s March are staging 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:

1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor.

2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).

3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman.

I plan to show solidarity by taking the rest of the day off, just as soon as I finish writing this. I’ll also gather all the fixings for tonight’s dinner and bring them home to Mrs. Squirrel, so she can relax. And I’m a red squirrel, so I have the “wear red in solidarity” part covered too.

But of course nitpickers will nitpick….

“The protest risks feeling like a let-down”

For example, cue Quartz’s Maureen Shaw:

On March 8 – International Women’s Day – women across the United States will have the opportunity to participate in the “A Day Without a Woman” strike. That’s a well-intentioned idea. But it’s likely that mostly privileged women will be the ones participating in the much-anticipated follow-up to January’s Women’s March. This is an unfortunate but not altogether surprising consequence of an event without a clear purpose – or an understanding of feminist history.
The idea behind the strike is a noble one. Who doesn’t want economic equality for everyone? But in practice, most American women cannot afford to opt out of either paid or unpaid labor. This fact, coupled with the very broad aims of the strike, is concerning. In terms of messaging and strategy, A Day Without a Women feels more like a second Women’s March than a coordinated national labor strike. Coming so closely on the heels of the highly successful march, the protest risks feeling like a let-down.
Visibility is and will continue to be incredibly important for the women’s rights movement, both in the United States and around the world. But visibility alone isn’t enough. When we rally against systemic, institutional inequality, we need concrete follow-up steps in the form of policy changes. Admittedly, this is challenging for American women, since we remain sorely underrepresented throughout all levels of government. Until we achieve parity, male allyship will continue to be a large part of the solution.

Ultimately, women need to be armed with resources beyond red clothing. We can shout about the issues and policies that underpin women’s economic inequality, but we must be able to advocate off the streets, too. Offering fact sheets, suggesting language for contacting elected officials and providing tips for effective lobbying, for instance, will go a long way to help engage women who can’t strike on March 8, but who still want to have their voices heard.

And the organizers are doing that. Here’s a quote from their suggested letter of participation:

Even more important than the symbolism of standing with women on March 8, the Women’s March is asking all employers to perform an audit of their policies impacting women and families. By ensuring that women have pay equity, a livable wage and paid leave, businesses can demonstrate that their long-term actions align with the values we are standing up for on this day.

Frankly, Shaw’s column feels like tone policing, which brings me to….

“Does ignoring this reality benefit the American people?”

A couple of days ago, Washington Post tone-policer Amber Phillips claimed Sen. Bernie Sanders was poisoning our political dialogue by calling out the God-King’s lies. To his credit, Sen. Sanders didn’t back down:

We face a very serious political problem in this country, and that problem is manifested in a post written yesterday by Amber Phillips of the Washington Post. In her piece, Phillips criticizes me for lowering the state of our political discourse, because I accused the president of being a “liar.”

What should a United States senator, or any citizen, do if the president is a liar? Does ignoring this reality benefit the American people? Do we make a bad situation worse by disrespecting the president of the United States? Or do we have an obligation to say that he is a liar to protect America’s standing in the world and people’s trust in our institutions?
I find it interesting that Ms. Phillips did not take issue with my facts. Her complaint appears to be that it is improper for a United States senator to state the obvious. And that is that we have a president who either lies intentionally or, even more frighteningly, does not know the difference between lies and truth.
But how do we deal with a president who makes statements that reverberate around our country and the world that are not based on fact or evidence? What is the appropriate way to respond to that? And if the media and political leaders fail to call lies what they are, are they then guilty of misleading the public?

That pa-clicka-pa-clicka-pa-clicka is the sound of a squirrel applauding. Coz we need long nails to climb trees. While avoiding the bird poop. Which brings me to …

“Maybe rather than getting that new iPhone … they should invest in their own health care.”

this verbal turd from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT):

“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 that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves,” Chaffetz said on CNN’s New Day when pressed on insurance for low-income Americans under the latest draft legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Okay, you can get an iPhone for $36 a month or under $900 if you buy it outright and it’s designed to last about three years with normal use. So that works out to about $300 per year, or about $25 per month …

which is about one-fifth to one-tenth the typical monthly health insurance premium for 2017 Affordable Care Act ‘silver’ exchange plans. And it turns out the working poor need cell phones, because employers increasingly expect employees to have cell phones.

So sure, you can do without a cellphone and – if you can find a job without one – afford three days a month of health insurance.

That sounds downright stupid, which brings me to….

“The cock-up theory”

There’s a new theory percolating among pundits, both left and right, that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have cooked up an intentional failure with the American Wealthcare Act. New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait offers one version:

While McConnell’s plan might be necessary in order to keep the party’s legislative strategy on track, it is highly and even delusionally optimistic, given the state of his vote count. It also runs counter to the Senate’s institutional culture. Senators cherish their power to shape and control legislation. A strategy of photocopying the House bill and ramming it through seems almost designed to violate the Senatorial ego.

This raises a question: Is it designed to violate the Senatorial ego? And thus to fail? Neither the conservative revolt nor McConnell’s plan make a lot of sense if you view them as strategies designed to yield the most right-wing health-care policy that is attainable. They do make sense as a strategy designed to insulate Republicans from failure.

Time to pull out Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Except Robert Hanlon didn’t originate that idea:

Another similar quotation appears in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774):

…misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.

Similarly, Jane West’s The Loyalists (1812) includes:

Let us not attribute to malice and cruelty what may be referred to less criminal motives. Do we not often afflict others undesignedly, and, from mere carelessness, neglect to relieve distress?

A common (and more laconic) British English variation, coined by Bernard Ingham, is the saying “cock-up before conspiracy,” deriving from this 1985 quotation:

Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.

Rather than assuming Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are playing 11-dimensional chess, why not accept the more obvious explanation … that neither they nor other Republican leaders have the foggiest clue about health care and they’re trapped by their own web of ignorance and lies:

The national health-care debate began in 2009. Republicans have had eight years since then to draw up and unify around a plan of their own. They have spent this time insisting they could do so easily. For most of the year, in fact, House Republicans have been running a television ad assuring the public they already “have a plan” with wonderful features: “Health insurance that provides more choices and better care, at lower costs. Provides peace of mind to people with preexisting conditions … without disrupting existing coverage.”

Eventually they had told the lie so long it became impossible for them to abandon it. And so Republicans have found themselves frantically scrawling out a hopelessly inadequate solution in order to meet a self-imposed deadline driven by their overarching desire to cut taxes for the rich.

No 11-dimensional strategy needed. Just stubborn ignorance. And who wrote that last explanation?

Well, Chait did. Yesterday. By tomorrow, he’ll probably have another version.

In the meantime, I’m gonna go grab some nuts and seeds for Mrs. Squirrel.


Photo Credit: Rachel Levy (Business Insider)


Happy International Women’s Day!