Monday, November 3, 2008

Read Before Voting

I don't anticipate any problems voting tomorrow, after all, I'm a consistent voter and I've been alerted to and located my new polling location, and I know how to fill in the oval on my ballot. But plenty of people are going to encounter problems, because we don't have a universal voting system.

So, before you vote, read this. It's worth it to prepare in case you run into any problems at your polling place.

Heading Off Election Day Mishaps

Most Pitfalls Have a Remedy, if Voters Are Prepared; Bringing Along Proper ID

Tomorrow is Election Day: The campaign is over, and it is time to cast your ballot at last. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. A poll worker may say you aren't registered. Your voting machine could malfunction. Your meddling neighbor could say you aren't eligible to vote. Or maybe you are offered a provisional ballot -- and what is the difference between regular ballots, provisional ballots and emergency ballots, anyway?

There is a remedy for most of these problems, and a bit of advance preparation should ensure that they never come up. Here is a voter's guide on what could go wrong at the polls and what to do about it:

  • You aren't on the voter rolls. This could happen for several reasons, and the remedies are different for each.

The huge number of new voters has caused registration backlogs in some states, and the voter rolls may not show your name if you registered just before the deadline. That "has the potential to be a significant problem," says Jonah Goldman of the nonpartisan Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

If that happens, you may have to file a provisional ballot. Elections judges open provisional ballots after Election Day and, on a case-by-case basis, decide which should be counted. Your voter-registration form will have been dated and time-stamped and will provide proof that you are eligible to vote.

Be sure you are in the right precinct and polling place. State laws differ -- in some states, a provisional ballot cast in the wrong precinct will be counted; in others, it won't. The Web site www.maps.google.com/vote can tell you where your voting location is and how to get there.

You also might not be on the voter rolls if you haven't voted in several elections and have been moved to the inactive list. Make sure poll workers have checked all of their voter lists for your name. Inactive voters are entitled to cast regular ballots, which are counted on the night of the election and aren't subject to the additional scrutiny of provisional ballots.

Elections offices also regularly purge their rolls to remove voters who have died, moved or been convicted of felonies. Federal law outlines when and how they can do that, however, and Colorado and Michigan recently were ordered by federal judges to reinstate voters who were unlawfully purged. If your name was removed from the rolls, you might have to file a provisional ballot.

  • You don't have an ID. Only Georgia and Indiana require an identification with a current photo. Other states require some form of identification. And still others require an ID only of first-time voters who registered by mail. A map at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice Web site (www.brennancenter.org/content/section/category/voter_id) shows the ID requirements for each state.

Some states allow voters who don't have the required ID documents to file provisional ballots. Don't take a provisional ballot if you don't have to: State laws differ on how and when provisional ballots are counted, and there is a chance that yours will be excluded.

If poll workers ask for an ID even if one isn't required, you can appeal to the chief judge at your polling place or call the nonpartisan watchdog group Election Protection for guidance. Their number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Election Protection will operate 25 call centers, staffed by some 10,000 lawyers and other volunteers, and is expecting 100,000 calls on Election Day.

Probably the best solution to an ID problem, though, is to show your driver's license, whether it is legally required or not. "There's not a lot of time on Election Day to stand on principle," says Mr. Goldman.

  • There are voting-equipment problems. There are different remedies for different problems.

Touch-screen voting machines may lose power or otherwise stop working. In that case, polling places will have emergency paper ballots on hand. An emergency ballot, unlike a provisional ballot, is counted on the night of the election and doesn't undergo a review by election judges. Make sure your emergency ballot isn't mingled with provisional ballots, or it might not get a timely count.

Votes may "flip" on an electronic voting system, showing that you cast your vote for Barack Obama, for example, even though you are sure you voted for John McCain. Flipping usually is caused by a calibration problem, says the Brennan Center -- that is, the voting machine isn't matching up the candidate's name on the screen with his name on an internal program.

Summon a poll worker to fix the error, make sure your vote is registered properly on the summary page of the electronic ballot and then call Election Protection, which is tracking machine problems.

Many states will keep their registration lists on electronic poll books this year. In some trial tests and primaries, those have crashed or been too slow to be of any use. If that happens, there is no way poll workers can verify your registration data, and you will have to file a provisional ballot.

  • Your eligibility is challenged. The Republican Party has said it might challenge voters registered by activist groups like Acorn, whose field workers it has accused of signing up fictitious people, felons and others ineligible to vote. State laws vary widely about who can make challenges and under what conditions. In Ohio, only poll workers can challenge a voter; in Florida, any voter can challenge any other.

Be prepared for a challenge by bringing along proof of your age, identity and address. If those are in order and you are in the correct precinct, you must be offered a regular ballot. If they aren't, you may have to vote by provisional ballot.

  • The lines are long. Tough luck.

A few jurisdictions require election workers to offer emergency ballots if lines are more than 45 minutes long. Everyone else can probably expect a long wait.

Voting hours vary by state, so check the Web site of your local elections board. Everyone in line at closing time will be allowed to vote, no matter how late the polls must stay open.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Go Vote

Yes, I've been MIA, I know, but here's what it comes down to. On Tuesday, you're going to go vote. VOTE.

You're going to vote because you care what happens to your country. Or because you want change in Washington. Or you're some nutbag who really wants McCain in office. Or you believe in the future, universal healthcare, tax reform, social services, education, and a president who can pronounce "nuclear", so you're going to put the best candidate, Barack Obama in the White House.

Or maybe just because Harrison Ford is so damn compelling.




Whatever. Take tomorrow to find out where your polling place is. Mark out a time to go vote. Maybe before work, on your coffee break, at lunch, whenever. Make sure you do it. Call someone to give you a ride there if necessary. Just make sure it's on your schedule, or BlackBerry or whatever.

It's your future.

VOTE.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Universal Healthcare Works

Before the economy took a nose-dive and sucked up almost all available air time in this election, one of the biggest issues the concerned voting Americans was Health Care. It's still a big issue; it's just been dwarfed by the fact that Wall Street has crashed.

I live in Massachusetts, where, since 2006, we have had state-wide universal health care. The bill was signed into law reluctantly by Mitt Romney, our ersatz governor at the time. He was quite open in his opposition to the bill, saying that health care was the responsibility of families. He felt that this move would hurt the insurance companies and drive up insurance costs.

Romney's fears were not realized to a great extent. In Mass., you now have the option to select an insurer on your own, pick from numerous plans, with a wide range of prices. There is a governmental office to help you pay for insurance if you can't afford it on your own. The numbers of the uninsured in Mass have plummeted. Emergency room wait times have dropped because they are no longer the only place for the uninsured to go for treatment for routine problems. The response has been overwhelming: people want to be insured and the universal system works to keep them insured. In the long run, this will mean more preventative care, which will improve the state's health overall and lead to a drop in health care costs.

When I lost my job last year, I couldn't afford coverage under the COBRA system. So, I called a few health insurance companies and found that Blue Cross Blue Shield offered a great plan at $200 less than COBRA. I was very happy with that plan. When my budget dropped significantly this summer, I looked at my options again. I could sign on to my husband's insurance plan, but it would actually cost more to insure me this way (his employer's "family" plan only becomes economical once children come into the picture). So I shopped around again, and found an even cheaper, comparable plan from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

I know one woman who until recently was between jobs, and she didn't want to pay for health insurance in between. She's lucky that nothing went wrong in those six months. But I wasn't willing to take that risk, and so, when I went to the hospital earlier this week, I could focus just on the surgery and recovery, and not worry about how much the stay at MGH would cost me out of pocket.

When John McCain talks about his $5,000 health care credit, that is bunk. For me as a single person, that wouldn't cover my monthly premiums, to say nothing of my deductibles, co-pays, prescription costs, and so forth. The system today is set up to favor the health insurance companies. Here in MA, the companies get plenty of business from the previously uninsured, and a dose of healthy competetion.

I would like to see people all over the country have the same options that I do regarding health care. Universal Health Care Works.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Little Engine That Could

It's October now, and my first semester at Simmons is halfway over. As you might guess, I'm mostly occupied with my coursework, and additionally I've taken on a paid internship to help make ends meet.

I really enjoy my internship, and it makes everything I learn in school instantly applicable. In Quantitative Analysis, I've been learning about charting information and analyzing data, which lines up with the data analysis project I'm doing at work, tracking the efficacy of an email program. The position is in the Communications Office of the firm, and I have a chance to apply the theories I learn in Marketing to the outgoing communications pieces that I work on.

The job is a testimony to networking--my supervisor is a Simmons alumna, and I was introduced through the Simmons career services office.

I'm truly surprised by my ability to handle so much work at once, as well as still keeping in touch with friends and family, and spending enough time with my husband. I hope I can keep this up until December.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Apple: Customer Service Superstars

Meet Christian and Jess. As you might guess from the distinctive plexiglass staircase in the background, these two fine, upstanding Apple salesfolk work at the Boylston Street location. Christian and Jess were so amazingly helpful that I decided they needed a commendation via blog post.

The Background: In my classes, I take notes via my computer, so I don't have to worry about deciphering my own handwriting, and because I can type faster than I can write. This works superbly for my Marketing class, or my Organizational Behavior class. On the other hand, for Economics, I run into some trouble. I am required to sketch diagrams for demand schedules and marginal utility schedules, which can't be done by typing.

I cast about for a solution, and finally remembered my supervisor at my first job having a similar problem. He was teaching distance learning courses to Senegal from Boston, and in the "virtual classroom" had a really difficult time trying to write equations (he taught Physics). His solution was a Wacom Tablet. Think of a mouse mat, but instead of just having a mouse, it also has a stylus. The software integrated with various existing programs so that you could use the stylus just like a pen on the screen. This seemed like the perfect solution to my problem. If I had a stylus, I could simply draw my diagrams right onto the page in my virtual notebook.

A tablet is a complicated piece, and while I could have bought one online, I decided to go to the Apple Store to see what they recommended and to ask how exactly it would work with my MacBook. I did a little research prior to my trip, and had come to the general conclusion that I was looking for a Wacom Bamboo. I was pointed in the right direction immediately, and once I found the item on the shelf, I found myself asking Christian for some help with my questions about how it worked.

Christian was very friendly, and knew immediately that Jess was the person in the store who knew most about the Bamboo. He took me and the product down to where she was, and discovered that she was already helping another customer. I smiled, and said, "That's okay, I can wait for her for a bit." And yet, instead of a "See you later," Christian stayed with me and helped me find some of the needed information from the tech specs on the box, and then we pulled out my MacBook to determine what version of MS Office I was running and if it would be compatible. I really appreciated his interest and earnestness in helping me out.

When Jess came over, she was very enthusiastic about the Bamboo. Jess is an illustrator and uses a tablet for drawing; apparently my need for a tool to draw Econ diagrams was not something she encountered very often. The two of them were absolute poster-children for customer service: friendly, knowledgeable, working together to help me, the customer. And to boot, they taught me a new trick for using Photo Booth: holding the shift key when taking a photo shuts off the flash and holding the option key shuts off the countdown before the photo.

A few days later, I am very happy with my Bamboo. It works brilliantly with the "Scribble" feature in Word's Notebook layout. I can draw to my heart's content, and I really like using it for mousing too. If you're interested in a tool for drawing, do take a peek at the Bamboo.

And if you're in the neighborhood, stop by the Boylston Street Apple Store and say hi to Christian and Jess. I'm sure they'll help you out too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reading Roundup

Another week dominated by school projects, another weekly roundup of things I've been skimming online:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reading Roundup

I am occupied with homework tonight after a lovely early happy hour with my classmates, and so I offer up the following items for your perusal:

  • Dilbert - I laughed hysterically at this. My husband thinks I'm nuts, because I want to go into Marketing.
  • GenPink - A blog for twentysomething career women. I'll overlook the pink.
  • Corporette - Found via Twitter, this site covers affordable professional work wear for women. I highly suggest following Corporette on Twitter, as the site offers an array of interesting links around the clock.
  • Facebook Ads Target You Where It Hurts - Rachel Beckman on the theory of social networking ads
  • Arcadia Maximo - When the guys told her she couldn't, she did--by starting her own construction company
Feel free to post any other interesting links in the comments.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June Is Busting Out All Over



Flowers from my mother-in-law's garden. The dark peonies are from my own garden. I wish I could upload how great they smell, too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Who Is The Terrorist Now?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Saturday he vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that have prevented attacks.

"The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror," Bush said in his weekly radio address taped for broadcast Saturday. "So today I vetoed it," Bush said. The bill he rejected provides guidelines for intelligence activities for the year and has the interrogation requirement as one provision. It cleared the House in December and the Senate last month.

"This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe," the president said.

Supporters of the legislation say it would preserve the United States' ability to collect critical intelligence while also providing a much-needed boost to country's moral standing abroad.

"Torture is a black mark against the United States," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. "We will not stop until [the ban] becomes law."

The bill would limit CIA interrogators to the 19 techniques allowed for use by military questioners. The Army field manual in 2006 banned using methods such as waterboarding or sensory deprivation on uncooperative prisoners.

Bush said the CIA must retain use of "specialized interrogation procedures" that the military doesn't need. The military methods are designed for questioning "lawful combatants captured on the battlefield," while intelligence professionals are dealing with "hardened terrorists" who have been trained to resist the techniques in the Army manual, the president said.

"We created alternative procedures to question the most dangerous al Qaeda operatives, particularly those who might have knowledge of attacks planned on our homeland," Bush said. "If we were to shut down this program and restrict the CIA to methods in the field manual, we could lose vital information from senior al Qaeda terrorists, and that could cost American lives."

The legislation's backers say the military's approved methods are sufficient to any need.

Those 19 interrogation techniques to which the bill would have restricted CIA personnel include the "good cop/bad cop" routine, making prisoners think they are in another country's custody and separating a prisoner from others for up to 30 days.

Among the techniques the field manual prohibits are hooding prisoners or putting duct tape across their eyes, stripping them naked, forcing them to perform or mimic sexual acts, or beating, electrocuting, burning or otherwise physically hurting them.

They may not be subjected to hypothermia or mock executions. It does not allow food, water and medical treatment to be withheld. Dogs may not be used in any aspect of interrogation.

But waterboarding is the most high-profile and controversial of the interrogation methods in question.

It involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his or her cloth-covered face to simulate and create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years to the Spanish Inquisition and is condemned by nations around the world and human rights organizations as torture.

Some argue it must be banned because, if torture, it is illegal under international and U.S. law. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 includes a provision barring cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for all detainees in U.S. custody, including CIA prisoners, and many believe that covers waterboarding.

Others say that, even if legal, there are practical arguments against waterboarding: that its use would undermine the U.S. when arguing overseas for human rights and on other moral issues and would place Americans at greater risk of being tortured when captured.

"President Bush's veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency," Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said in a statement Friday. "Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world."

He noted that the Army field manual contends that harsh interrogation is a "poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the (interrogator) wants to hear."

The U.S. military specifically prohibited waterboarding in 2006. The CIA also prohibited the practice in 2006, and says it has not been used since three prisoners encountered it in 2003.

But while some Bush administration officials have questioned the current legality of waterboarding, the administration has refused to rule definitively on whether it is torture. Bush has said many times that his administration does not torture.

The White House says waterboarding remains among the interrogation methods potentially available to the CIA. Its use would have to be approved, on a case-by-case basis, by the president after consultation with the attorney general and the intelligence community. Among the acceptable situations for approving it could be belief of imminent attack, according to the White House.

"Because the danger remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists," Bush said.

. . . . .

I'm not sure how much commentary is necessary here. Bush is saying it's okay to torture people. IT IS NOT OKAY TO TORTURE PEOPLE. How can this man really be in charge of the country. Not everyone in the world is out to get us. Violence begets violence; peace begets peace. Torture extracts highly unreliable information; even the army interrogation manual admits this.

President Bush makes me ashamed to be an American. If anyone is encouraging terrorism, it is Bush himself.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

100 CCs of Feminism, Stat!

What's the matter with Washington State? I don't know much about the state, other than it's capital is Olympia, and it rains a lot there. But sadly, there's a 13 year old girl who doesn't believe in Santa Claus women. This letter to the editor of the Tri-State Herald is heartbreaking:
Men presidents only

I think that having a woman president would be a bad idea for our country. Women are not meant to rule countries and be in charge. They are meant to make decisions but not confirm them.

Our president deals with some countries that don't respect or allow women in leadership positions. I wonder if the United States would have more terrorist attacks because we would be seen as weak with a woman leader. I agree that women can do many things, but leave the ruling of the countries to the men.

BRITTANY BAYLES, 13, Kennewick

Brittany, dear, please tell me that you're actually a middle-aged white man posing as a 13 year old girl who is afraid of the rightfully rising status of women in American society.

Women are not weak, they are able to think just as well as men. They can rule countries, and have been doing so for a long time. Please visit a history book and examine the reigns of Elizabeth I of England and Catherine the Great of Russia. Then you can look at the careers of Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, and Angela Merkel. Women are fine and great rulers, elected, appointed, or inherited.

Words fail me in how to describe my feelings about this letter. This is something that I would expect from Pat Robertson or Mike Huckabee. To know that someone is teaching the rising generation of youth to become the next Ann Coulter or Beverly LaHaye makes me ill.

[Found via Feministing]

Friday, January 25, 2008

Family and Career

I clicking through some career columns on the WSJ, and ran across a piece on a law blog on a younger law associate who was planning on having her children in her 20s to increase her chances of making partner later on.
Erin Foley Lewis, a 28-year-old associate at Cadwalader. Foley Lewis (Wake Forest, Harvard Law) talks about how having an early start on having children might help her career.

“By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Lewis, who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”

This is one thing I often think about. I'm still considering an MBA, which my new employer will help pay for after my first three months here. I'd want to finish an MBA before having a child (which is still not a definite), but I often wonder if it would be better to have a child earlier so that by the time my career takes off, I won't be looking after a newborn.

But if one trawls through the post's comments, one finds this insightful reply:

This is exactly why women who want kids should not be attorneys. She wants it all? Can’t be done, selfish B. If you want part time kids, convince your sister or brother to have some you can borrow from time to time, or just rent some for the weekend.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a man writing. The misogyny against career women is definitely alive and well in this commenter. I wonder if this man is married and has children. I wonder if his wife is a homemaker.

I take great offense at the "Can't be done, selfish B" part most of all. Why must women who actually pursue real careers because they want to be labeled as bitches? Nate knows very well that if we have a child, I'm not planning on quitting working to stay home, and he supports that.

The other issue that Mr. Misogyny is ignoring is the option of the father staying home, or pulling for a flexible schedule to help with childcare. Women who leave at 5 to pick up the kids are labeled as being unfaithful to their jobs; men who leave at 3 to see their children's soccer games are labeled devoted dads. Women who take maternity leave are often pushed out of jobs; men who become new dads get promotions and raises since they are now "supporting a family." So if a man wanted to work part time and help raise his children, I'm sure he would be much more accommodated than a woman who wanted a flex schedule.

Why must we always go around and around in circles on this issue? Men are qualified to take care of children. Mommy shouldn't be the default position for women. And employers need to throw the anti-mother standard out of the window.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Out With The Old, In With Botox

I wouldn't consider myself a hip dresser, particularly when I look back at high school and realize that my imitation prep actually made me look more like an old-school librarian than any of the authentic preppies I went to school with. These days I tend to go for the classic tailored look, preferably vintage if I can get it.

But while I've tweaked my appearance, particularly in the last half year, I've never worried about looking old. You might be thinking, "She's not even thirty!" but really, people my age do worry about looking old. You might notice that the women in the anti-aging cosmetics ads (Olay Regenerist, Neutrogena Microdermabrasion) are probably no older than 35 anyway. And there are more of those cosmetics available these days anyway. You used to buy them in department stores from Estee Lauder or Clinique, and now they're in CVS or even the health aisle of the grocery store.

But it doesn't stop at wrinkles. These days, a woman needs to go to the gym, do yoga, eat organic food, dye their hair, and undergo cosmetic surgery--in order to stay young. I used to think this really only applied to the women in Hollywood, who, with the exception of Diane Lane and Susan Sarandon, usually see a career tank after their 30s.

Today, I passed this piece about the effect of aging on women's careers. Natasha Singer writes:

IN a new self-help book called “How Not to Look Old,” chapter headings in screaming capital letters warn readers of the dreaded signs of aging that are to be avoided at all costs.

“NOTHING AGES YOU LIKE ... FOREHEAD LINES” admonishes one chapter introduction. Another chapter cautions: “NOTHING AGES YOU LIKE ... YELLOW TEETH.”

Nothing, apparently, also carbon-dates you like GRAY BROW HAIRS or SAGGING SKIN or RECEDING GUMS, according to the book written by Charla Krupp, a former beauty director at Glamour who writes a column for More, a magazine for women over 40.

The book is the latest makeover title to treat the aging of one’s exterior as a disease whose symptoms are to be fought to the death or, at least, mightily camouflaged. But the book offers a serious rationale for such vigilant attempts at age control, arguing that trying to pass for younger is not so much a matter of sexual allure as of job security.

...

“Whether we want to admit it or not, in male corporate America we would rather have a cute, sexy 30-year-old working for us than a 50-year-old with gray hair who has let herself go and looks out of it, not in the swing of it, like a nun,” said Ms. Krupp, a blonde who blurs her age by personifying her advice about donning highlights, bangs, heels and sheer lip gloss. After all, nothing ages you like dark lipstick.

...

“Ageism is one of the last frontiers of discrimination where people think that a way around it is not to be seen to age, but we would never say that women should try to look or act more male in order to avoid sexism,” said Molly Andrews, a psychologist who is a director of the Center for Narrative Research at the University of East London.


And what I find interesting about this is that the ageism discussed in the piece really only applies to women. Bill Clinton has his famous white hair, but no one starts doubting his ability to keep up his career because he looks "old." Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is slammed for looking like what she is: a woman in her 60s.

Men are praised for their longevity in the boardroom; grey hair makes them "distinguished." Women must dye greys, lest they lose their "freshness." For example I know a wonderful woman who, although her own hair is pure white at this point, still dyes it reddish-brown. She's not fooling anyone, and I think she'd look a lot better if she just let it go natural. Her sister's hair has gone white, and she looks stunning. It's silly to pretend, in my opinion.

And yet, America clamors for youth. And while I perhaps can't convince everyone else to just accept that we all get old, I'm going to personally fight it. If my hair goes grey, it will stay grey. If I get wrinkles, I'll get wrinkles.

At one of my previous jobs, I worked with a woman who had a ton of wrinkles all over her face. But I thought she looked great. All of her wrinkles were the kind made from smiles. She is a fantastic woman, she's been a teacher, a softball catcher, and still goes whitewater rafting every year. When I look at her, I don't see an "old" woman. I see a woman who's lived a great life, and still is. I hope someday I have a face full of wrinkles that mark me as having an extraordinary life too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Dose of Levity

Today, I am reposting Bob Herbert's column from the New York Times Opinion page. Bob Herbert is probably the journalist I most admire for his earnestness in tackling issues that most people ignore, or don't want to talk about, like today's topic: misogyny.

Politics and Misogyny

With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, gender issues are suddenly in the news. Where has everybody been?

If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular.

Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.

In its grimmest aspects, misogyny manifests itself in hideous violence — from brutal beatings and rape to outright torture and murder. Fifteen months ago, a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

The cable news channels revel in stories about women (almost always young and attractive) who come to a gruesome end at the hands of violent men. The stories seldom, if ever, raise the issue of misogyny, which permeates not just the crimes themselves, but the coverage as well.

The latest of these obsessively covered stories concerned a pregnant marine, Maria Frances Lauterbach, who had complained to authorities that she had been raped by a fellow marine. Her body was found last week buried in a backyard fire pit in North Carolina.

It just so happens that the Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning this week in the misogyny capital of America: Nevada. It’s a perfect place to bring up the way women are viewed and treated in this society, but don’t hold your breath. Presidential wannabes are hardly in the habit of insulting the locals.

Prostitution is legal in much of Nevada and heavily promoted even where it’s not. In Las Vegas, where prostitution is illegal but flourishes nevertheless, Mayor Oscar Goodman has said that creating a series of legal, “magnificent” brothels would be a great development tool for his city.

The fundamental problem in all of this is that women and girls are dehumanized, opening the floodgates to every kind of mistreatment. “Once you dehumanize somebody, everything else is possible,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the women’s advocacy group Equality Now.

A grotesque exercise in the dehumanization of women is carried out routinely at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel about an hour’s ride outside of Vegas. There the women have to respond like Pavlov’s dog to an electronic bell that might ring at any hour of the day or night. At the sound of the bell, the prostitutes have five minutes to get to an assembly area where they line up, virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop by.

If you don’t think this is an issue worthy of a presidential campaign, consider the scandalous way that women are treated in the military and the fact that the winner of this election will become the commander in chief.

The sexual mistreatment of women in the military is widespread. The Defense Department financed a study in 2003 of female veterans seeking health assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their service.

The Associated Press reported in 2006 that more than 80 military recruiters had been disciplined over the course of a year because of sexual misconduct with young women and girls who had considered joining the military.

There continue to be widespread complaints from women about rape and other forms of sexual attacks in the military, and about a culture that tends to protect the attackers.

To what extent are the candidates of either party concerned about these matters? Do they have any sense of how extensive and debilitating the mistreatment of women and girls really is?

We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed against women and girls every day. Fashionable ads in mainstream publications play off of that violence, exploiting themes of death and dismemberment, female submissiveness and child pornography.

If we’ve opened the door to the issue of sexism in the presidential campaign, then let’s have at it. It’s a big and important issue that deserves much more than lip service.