Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network

How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network


By Al ShawTheodoric Meyer and Kim Barker, ProPublica
Feb. 14, 2014


Fundraising by the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch supports a tangle of nonprofits, sometimes referred to as the Kochtopus, all aimed at advancing conservative causes. Two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, handed out almost $264 million from mid-2011 to October 2012 to 30 other nonprofits. Almost half of that went to the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which then funneled millions to a constellation of dark money groups, some of which also received money from Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust. Groups that got significant amounts of money from the Center, Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust reported political spending of more than $75 million in 2012. Much of the money flowed through what are known as “disregarded entities” — limited liability companies, or LLCs, that some of the groups have set up. TC4 Trust has folded and the Center to Protect Patient Rights no longer plays a central role in the Koch network, but many of these groups will be active in the 2014 election. |Related story »
 
GROUP HAS DISREGARDED ENTITY
Click a group to see grants it has given and received.
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
TC4 Trust
 
 
Center to Protect Patient Rights
Americans for Prosperity
American Future Fund
Americans for Job Security
Americans for Responsible Leadership
EvangChr4 Trust
 
The 60 Plus Association
American Commitment
Small Business Action Committee
Themis Trust
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Generation Opportunity
Public Notice
National Rifle Association of America
CitizenLink
California Future Fund for Free Markets
Center for Shared Services Trust
The LIBRE Initiative Trust
Public Engagement Group Trust
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Citizen Awareness Project
American Energy Alliance
Concerned Veterans for America
National Federation of Independent Business
Americans for Limited Government
National Association of Manufacturers of the United States of America
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance
West Michigan Policy Forum
National Right to Work Committee
Veteransforastrongamerica.org
No New Taxes, No on Prop 204
Rightchange.com II
Republican Jewish Coalition
Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights
The Hispanic Leadership Fund
State Tea Party Express
NFIB The Voice of Free Enterprise
Save Our Vote Opposing Prop 121
Americans for Jerusalem
Ending Spending
Morning in America
Coalition for American Values Action
Heritage Action for America
Partnership for Ohio's Future
The Progress Project
Club for Growth
Coalition for American Jobs
Susan B. Anthony List
Americans for Tax Reform
Arioch Project
American Values Action
Tea Party Patriots
Emergency Committee for Israel
Citizen Media
Fair Arizona Independent Redistricting Trust
Common Sense Issues
GOPAC Education Fund
American Principles in Action
Freedom Vote
Policy and Taxation Group
All Votes Matter
American Tradition Partnership
King Street Patriots
AUL Action NFP
Empower Texans
Generation Joshua, a project of the Home School Legal Defense Association
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
American Action Network
New Hampshire Advantage Coalition
Hampton Roads Tea Party
New Mexico Business Coalition
Arizona Public Integrity Alliance
Citizens for Community Values Action
Smart Girl Politics Action
Ohio Voter Integrity Project

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The right’s latest freakout — and why they’re crying “communism”

The right’s latest freakout — and why they’re crying “communism”

Conservatives' overreaction to one progressive writer speaks volumes about their ongoing war against the safety net



The right's latest freakout -- and why they're crying Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz (Credit: AP/Timothy D. Easley/Reuters/Adrees Latif/AP/Tony Gutierrez)
Prior to Barack Obama’s presidency, healthcare access was the gaping hole in the country’s tattered, patchwork safety net. If, for instance, you made too much money to qualify for Medicaid, weren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare, never served in the military, and didn’t work for a large employer, you probably had to pay for your own insurance. If you were low- or middle-income, or you had a preexisting condition, there was a decent chance you were uninsured, unable to obtain routine care and at constant risk of financial ruin.
Add ‘em all up and we’re talking about upward of 50 million people.
Part of the reason conservatives fought the Affordable Care Act so relentlessly, and continue to fantasize about its demise, is that it will ultimately fill that hole. Though flawed and inadequate in key ways, the safety net will now lack major structural gaps it just had. When conservatives warn that Obamacare will turn the United States into a European welfare state, they’re being histrionic, but they’re not being entirely disingenuous.
The extraordinary but ultimately failed efforts Republicans undertook in 2011 and 2012 to win back Congress and the White House — the direct assault on public sector unions, systematic disenfranchisement of minority voters, legislative sabotage on Capitol Hill — are perhaps best thought of as rearguard actions to prevent Obamacare from ever taking effect. To keep America from becoming Europe.
Obama’s reelection was Game Over. GOP leaders understood this, even if rank-and-file Republicans and millions of Republican voters remain in denial about it.
But just because the American welfare state no longer lacks the linchpin of a healthcare guarantee doesn’t mean the programs that compose it will lumber along in their current forms unchanged. In other words, the grueling ideological struggle over the shape and generosity of U.S. social programs will continue for years to come.
Enter a snarky, unconventional but ultimately innocuous Rolling Stone article by Jesse Myerson. In it, he proposes five reforms that are pretty far-reaching relative to the country’s existing social and economic regime, and would in fact dramatically alter the balance of economic and political power in America.
When you strip away the comedic framing, though, they’re a fairly straightforward mix of progressive and radical-centrist reforms. (See Matt Yglesias for a complete breakdown.)
But conservatives went absolutely apeshit. So severe was the apoplexy that they failed to recognize that included in these ideas were a bunch of things conservatives like — replacing income taxes and replacing paternalistic welfare programs with cash transfers — and that already exist successfully in the non-communist world. It was amazing.
In their rendering, Myerson hadn’t sketched out a road to serfdom. He’d planned a massive frog-march to Siberia for our society.
Part of this was emotional affect. Myerson’s Twitter bio is satirically hashtagged #FULLCOMMUNISM. Combine that with the article’s hyperbolic framing and many conservatives reacted tribally.
Some of Myerson’s antagonists were smart enough to see past the cultural identity stuff but too weak-minded not to respond with shallow, reactionary nonsense. Sean Davis thinks Myerson’s ideas are discredited because they all appear in the USSR’s constitution (they don’t really). Even if you assume, for the sake of argument, that this rebuttal isn’t historically illiterate, you can’t get past the juvenile reasoning. Even if you assume Soviet leaders rigorously adhered to a constitution, Davis is making an inductive fallacy.
If he’d clicked on the link in his own piece, he’d have seen, right up top, that “women and men have equal rights in the USSR.”
Exercise of these rights is ensured by according women equal access with men to education and vocational and professional training, equal opportunities in employment, remuneration, and promotion, and in social and political, and cultural activity, and by special labour and health protection measures for women; by providing conditions enabling mothers to work; by legal protection, and material and moral support for mothers and children, including paid leaves and other benefits for expectant mothers and mothers, and gradual reduction of working time for mothers with small children.
Here the U.S. was a bit behind the times, but by Davis’ standard we have now largely embraced this particular form of murderous evil. The Soviet Union also guaranteed free provision of higher education. Here in the United States, we limit that to secondary education, which I suppose means we’ve escaped one of the chains of Soviet bondage.
Smarter conservatives both understood that Myerson’s list isn’t communism, but nevertheless had a visceral oppositional reaction to it. Which brings us back to the right’s losing bid to unseat Obamacare and the evolving debate over social policy in the U.S., post-Obamacare.
I don’t think the ongoing freakout over the Rolling Stone article is simply a reflection of cultural anxieties. It also reflects an effort to limit the scope of that debate, so that progressive ideas fall outside of the sphere of acceptability. A basic cash income wouldn’t destroy America, and actually enjoys the support of conservative heavyweights, now and in the past. But it isn’t exactly compatible with significant tax cuts for wealthy people. And it preserves the federal government’s role as the purveyor of public welfare. One way to marginalize ideas like that is to call them communism.
A lot of conservatives just don’t know any better. But for the rest, this is as much about keeping the endless debate over social welfare anchored around shrinking government and privatizing services as it is an ignorant cultural reaction to a writer from New York who made a #joke about #communism on the Internet.
Brian Beutler Brian Beutler is Salon's political writer. Email him at bbeutler@salon.com and follow him on Twitter at @brianbeutler.

Scott Walker is very sad that unemployed losers refuse to get a job

Scott Walker is very sad that unemployed losers refuse to get a job


Walker: The only reason Obama wants to extend unemployment benefits is to distract from Obamacare

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker offers his view on extending unemployment benefits:
I don't know about you, Candy, but if I was out of work, I'd be looking more than twice a week for a job. I'd be looking for every day except maybe today. I take Sunday off to go to church and pray that I could find a job on Monday, but I think there need to be reforms in that system.
It's not that Walker wants you to think he's a heartless S.O.B., it's that he wants you to think that the reason there are nearly 4 million more unemployed people today than before the Great Recession is that they just aren't employable:
One of the biggest challenges people have who are either unemployed or under employed is many of them don't have the skills in advanced manufacturing [...] Instead of just talking about extending benefits, we should talk about getting people the training they need to fill those jobs. That's much better off than just putting a check out.
If you're going to believe what Walker has to say, then the reason that unemployment skyrocketed in the wake of the financial collapse in 2008 was simply that people weren't looking hard enough for work and that even if they were, they weren't employable. That defies credulity. There is a specific, identifiable reason for today's unemployment level, and it's not because people have suddenly become less employable than they were five years ago. It's because of the recession. This isn't rocket science.
That's not to say that there is something wrong with wanting to help people improve their skills. But if you only talk about doing that in order to avoid paying their unemployment insurance benefits—the benefits they need to put food on their table, a roof over their head, and the stability to find another job—then no matter what you say, you aren't trying to help them. You're just being a heartless S.O.B.
Sign and send the petition to Senate Republicans: Restore emergency unemployment benefits.

Shocking Things Fox News Viewers Believe

Shocking Things Fox News Viewers Believe


For years the left-wing has been saying that Fox News viewers are “uneducated” or “misinformed”, but now a study has come out that might confirm those suspicions.
According to a new survey of Fox News viewers by Reuters, this is what Fox News viewers believe:
67% Believe Barack Obama’s name sounds suspicious.
45% Believe that homosexuals are polygamists
2% Believe that science is more important than faith
90% Believe that all of the Founding Fathers were born in the United States of America, even though it had not yet been created when the Founding Fathers were born.
56% Believe Sarah Palin went to an Ivy League Law school.
99% of Fox News viewers who were Medicare recipients said they opposed “socialized medicine.”
94% Believe Reagan lowered the National Debt.
15% Believe that George Washington defeated the King of England in a duel for America.
88% Believe that Bill Clinton failed as a President, because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
75% Believe that people on welfare are lazy.
24% Believe Santa Claus is real.
36% Believe the “Bill of Rights” is legislation introduced by the Republican Party to stop “Barack Obama’s socialist agenda.”
99% Believe that communism, socialism, fascism and tyranny are all the same.
70% Believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya
38% Believe Barack Obama was born in Indonesia
85% Don’t think Hawaii was even a state when Barack Obama was born
76% Believe Sarah Palin has an “Alaskan accent.”
92% Believe that Bill Clinton left Barack Obama with a surplus, which he spent.
96% Believe the economy was doing great when Barack Obama took office.
84% Believe the Tea Party is a grassroots movement without any corporate sponsorship.
94% Believe the Constitution mentions Jesus Christ as America’s savior.
23% Believe FEMA is building concentration camps.
63% Believe Glenn Beck is a healthy weight
37% Believe Nancy Pelosi is a witch, and that she can cast spells.
25% Believe Hillary Clinton’s resignation was good for the economy.
74% Believe that unemployment is higher now than it was during the Great Depression.
92% Couldn’t find Iraq on a map.
9% Believe that homosexuals are trying to take over America with glitter.
93% Couldn’t name the 7 continents.
12% Believe John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father.
99% Believe that the Government doesn’t create jobs, but 95% of those surveyed credit Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) with creating 1 million jobs as Governor of Texas.
While some of these might seem comical, the most shocking result from the study was this:
100% of Fox News viewers said they wouldn’t care if the entire country fell apart as long as Barack Obama doesn’t get anything he wants.
Satire disclaimer

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t know how to make Republicans more appealing

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t know how to make Republicans more appealing

By Scott Kaufman
Sunday, January 5, 2014 16:13 EST
walker
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t know how to make Republicans more appealing (via Raw Story )
On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, host Candy Crowley asked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) why unemployed Americans, or workers making minimum wage, would become Republicans. “If I am an unemployed American and or if I am a minimum wage…

Your Being Here

Your Being Here

The questions at the heart of the wars between fundamentalism and modernity.

Illustration by Matthew Roberts.
Illustration by Matthew Roberts
When I was 8 or 9, I was very briefly kidnapped by well-meaning lunatics. My younger sister and I were exploring the FIBArk (First in Boating the Arkansas) Festival in Salida, Colo., when we were lured by the promise of candy into a small trailer with a number of other children. It turned out that in order to get the candy we had to suffer through a short film on Jesus, which, as I recall, depicted with graphic horror the torments that await the unsaved in the next world. After the film, a clean-cut young pastor and four or five of his flock delivered some bromides. Finally the pastor said, “Before you leave, let me ask you a question. Is there anyone here who has not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Raise your hand if you haven’t been saved.”
I don’t know what perversity impelled me to raise my hand—I like to think I was registering a protest against the coercive flim-flam I had just been peddled. It wasn’t, at any rate, that the film had scared me—I knew I was already saved. I had invited Jesus into my heart, I attended church, the whole nine yards. I also knew I didn’t like these people—if I’d known the word, I’d have said they were unctuous.
Whatever the reason, I raised my hand, and when the pastor dismissed us, two of the adults physically prevented me from leaving with the other kids. They prayed over me and, despite my increasingly freaked-out demands to be allowed to leave, refused to release me until I said, “I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior,” which I finally did, racing from the trailer to join my sister without even accepting the proffered candy and Jack Chick tracts.
This was my first encounter with conservative Protestant evangelicalism, but it was far from my last. I grew up in Colorado Springs—home of Focus on the Family, and a city in which a high-school friend of mine once beheld a group of people sitting in a circle in the street in front of someone’s house. He asked them what they were doing, and one of them replied, “A witch lives here; we’re praying for her soul.”
But the Lutheran pastor of the church in which I was confirmed was remarkably open to my youthful attempts to reconcile the rationalism I had inherited from my father, a liberal atheist, with the attraction I felt to the teachings of Christ. I was, for instance, firmly opposed to the doctrine of hell, on the grounds that it was hardly fair for the creator to subject people who never asked to be created in the first place to eternal torture just because they failed to figure out the mysteries of being in their paltry time on earth (or, you know, for any other reason). Could a Hindu be blamed for practicing Hinduism, having been born into a Hindu culture? The pastor talked to me of allegory and metaphor, and was ready to agree that a God of love was unlikely to resemble the caricature presented by foaming preachers high on sulfuric fumes. He was more interested in grace, and in this strange fellow who pissed off the authorities in ancient Galilee and urged the rich to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor. He wasn’t afraid to say “I don’t know” and “I struggle with that, too.”
I can’t remember this man’s name, but I owe him a lot. He didn’t keep me from straying into faddish atheism in my teens and 20s, but because of his example it was easier for me to return to a very liberal version of Christianity later. He was exactly the kind of steward of God’s word who, generations earlier, had kept men like Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga up at night, men who, guided by an abomination of modernity and a belief in biblical inerrancy, spearheaded a neo-evangelical movement that would culminate in the fundamentalism of Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition and today’s creationist cretinism.
In Apostles of Reason, UNC history professor Molly Worthen tracks the intellectual history of modern American evangelicalism, which for her is defined by a “crisis of authority.” “Three questions unite evangelicals,” she writes:
how to reconcile faith and reason; how to know Jesus; and how to act publicly on faith after the rupture of Christendom.
Worthen begins her story in 1942, with the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals in St. Louis, “a self-aware intellectual movement of pastors, scholars, and evangelists within the conservative Protestant community.” These neo-evangelicals sought to establish that, in Carl Henry’s words, “the Christian world-life view is not only intellectually tenable, but … also explains reality and life more logically and comprehensively than do modern alternatives.” Following his teacher Gordon Clark, who worried that evangelicals were neglecting “the philosophical, scientific, social, and political problems that agitate” the 20th century, Henry called for Christians to engage secularism at a specifically ideological level.
140103_SBR_APOSTLES_COVER
Worthen traces the ripples of the resulting evangelical offensive in ever-widening circles that eventually encompass the highest reaches of American power. Along the way, intra- and interdenominational battle lines are meticulously redrawn—Mennonites and Wesleyans vs. the Reformed tradition, Presbyterians vs. Pentecostals, Southern Baptists vs. Southern Baptists. Worthen’s a beguiling portraitist, especially as she recounts the intergenerational frictions that arose among evangelicals in the ’60s. Here’s a young Wes Craven being removed as editor-in-chief from Wheaton College’s student magazine for publishing “disturbing and morally complex stories.” Here’s the president of Biola University assuring angry alumni that “we do not endorse … left-wing folksingers, nor do we endorse the visiting of breweries at any time, especially on a Sunday afternoon.” One comes away from Worthen’s book with an impression of slapstick chaos on a sinking vessel, all hands knocking into one another in clashing attempts to bail water and plug holes (at least until the Christian Right decided to abandon ship and hijack the Republican Party’s passing yacht).
The key to understanding the anxieties that led conservative evangelicalism to such frantic action lies in Henry’s phrase “world-life view,” an awkward translation of Weltanschauung, a word that, in Worthen’s telling, obsessed the neo-evangelicals: “They intoned it whenever they wrote of the decline of Christendom, the decoupling of faith and reason, and the needful pinprick of the gospel in every corner of thought and action.” They picked up the term not from Kant but from Reformed theologians, and it came to represent a set of shared premises and guidelines that, once discovered and articulated, would reknit the dispersed body of faithful into a new Church Militant.
Apostles of Reason, then, is a chapter in the broader history of secularization, and as such it makes an interesting companion to Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, which I happened to be reading alongside it. “It’s a commonplace that something that deserves” the title of secularization “has taken place in our civilization,” Taylor writes. “The problem is defining exactly what it is that has happened.” (The vulgar popular version has it that science in some sense proved religion to be false; this is simply another way of saying that scientism is the faith proper to late capitalism.) Regardless of the precise content of secularization, Worthen’s neo-evangelicals saw that a coherent picture of the world, a shared presumption of the truth of the Christian religion, had disappeared. And they set about trying to figure out how to restore it.
What’s interesting is that the proposed solutions often rested upon the methodologies of secularism itself. Worthen recounts evangelical attempts to reinforce premodern dogma using the tools of modern empiricism, sociology, and anthropology—the very regimes of knowledge they often condemned for displacing Christ. This is perversely appropriate, if we consider Taylor’s argument that the Reformation itself laid the groundwork for secularization. What Weber diagnosed (borrowing from Schiller) as “the disenchantment of the world” began as the systemic disenchantment of Christianity from within. In its expulsion of “the sacred from worship and social life” and its “instrumental stance” toward the social order, radical Protestantism prepares the way for humanism. It doesn’t do so alone, and it can itself be seen as the product of shifting economic forces, but there is an important sense in which evangelicals found themselves hoisted on their forebears’ petard. So it is not too surprising to find Carl Henry arguing that biblical truth is propositional, to which Wheaton professor Clyde Kilby smartly retorted, “How can the Psalms be propositional?”
Author Molly Worthen
Author Molly Worthen.
Photo courtesy Michael Cotey Morgan
No doubt it was naive of the neo-evangelicals to think they could simply formulate a worldview, as if it were a matter of individual decision. But they had recognized a real fact about the world and their times, namely that the default options for the understanding of lived experience had changed rather dramatically, and fairly recently. As Taylor argues, it is not the same thing to be a Christian in the 21st century as it was to be a Christian in 1500, and we might add that it’s not the same thing to be an atheist, either.
Taylor uses the example of a person possessed by evil spirits in first-century Palestine: It simply wasn’t open to those around such a person “to entertain the idea that this was an interesting explanation for a psychological condition, identifiable purely in intra-psychic terms, but that there were other, possibly more reliable aetiologies for this condition.” We, on the other hand, “cannot help but be aware that there are a number of different construals, views which intelligent, reasonably undeluded people, of good will, can and do disagree on.” We can’t help “living our faith also in a condition of doubt and uncertainty.”
It was this doubt and uncertainty that the evangelicals of Worthen’s history tried to exorcise, and of course they might as well have tried to recreate the social conditions of New Testament Galilee. What philosophers call the “background,” Taylor writes, has shifted from one in which a naive theistic construal was almost ubiquitous to one “in which everyone’s construal shows up as such; and in which moreover, unbelief has become for many the major default option.” This transformation cannot be undone but by another, equally earthshaking transformation, and such events cannot be brought about deliberately.
One unfortunate consequence of this background shift is that as unbelief seems to more and more people the only plausible construal, they find it difficult to understand why anyone would adopt a different one. Thus “they reach for rather gross error theories to explain religious belief,” and we are subjected to ignorant books by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. Take Dawkins on Thomas Aquinas, for example, a discussion so inept that it’s as if Noam Chomsky had decided to publish a primer on black metal. (See David Bentley Hart’s elegant demolition of Dawkins’ analysis in The Experience of God.)
The “undergraduate atheists,” as the philosopher Mark Johnston dubbed them in Saving God, have been definitively refuted by Hart, Terry Eagleton, Marilynne Robinson, Johnston himself, and others. As intellectual bloodbaths go, it’s been entertaining—like watching Jon Stewart skewer Glenn Beck. But of course Richard Dawkins is merely a symptom. I have encountered atheists who seem not only to have never met an intelligent, educated believer, but to doubt that such a creature could exist.
Such unbelievers seem to me to have missed something quite fundamental about the nature of being, as it appears to the human animal, something that the major theistic traditions attempt to address with rather more nuance and generosity than contemporary updates to logical positivism can muster. You don’t, obviously, have to believe in God to feel humbled and bewildered before what Heidegger called “the question of the meaning of Being.” (Indeed, I often think the notion of “belief” is more trouble than it’s worth.) But you do have to acknowledge that there is a question, “the major question that revolves around you,” as John Ashbery puts it: “your being here.” And you have to recognize that it concerns something outside the scope of the natural sciences.
One of the worst aspects of conservative evangelicalism is that too often, especially on its fundamentalist fringes, its literalism encourages know-nothing atheism of the Dawkins variety. If Christianity actually entailed the beliefs that the earth was created 6,000 years ago and homosexuality is evil and there really was a Noah who built a gigantic boat, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it, either. I imagine Richard Dawkins never held a third-grader in a trailer and forced him to confess that the theory of punctuated equilibria is false.         
But Christianity does not entail such beliefs, I make bold enough to say. As usual, Marilynne Robinson has made the point with eloquent forcefulness:
People who insist that the sacredness of Scripture depends on belief in creation in a literal six days seem never to insist on a literal reading of “to him who asks, give,” or “sell what you have and give the money to the poor.” In fact, their politics and economics align themselves quite precisely with those of their adversaries, who yearn to disburden themselves of the weak, and to unshackle the great creative forces of competition. The defenders of “religion” have made religion seem foolish while rendering it mute in the face of a prolonged and highly effective assault on the poor.
In 1931, C. S. Lewis was converted during a moonlit walk with J. R. R. Tolkien. In the space of that walk, Lewis later wrote, Tolkien convinced him that “the story of Christ is simply a true myth.” Taylor, Robinson, Hart, and Johnston—all of whom are open to the truths of other religions as well as to those of Christianity—help us understand what that means. Apostles of Reason, a thrilling, if partial, history of the fallout of the fundamentalist–modernist wars, helps us understand what it doesn’t.
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Michael Robbins is the author of the poetry collections Alien vs. Predator and the forthcoming The Second Sex, as well as a forthcoming critical work, Equipment for Living.