Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

The big news of the day is still the big sell-out job Obama did. Well, I say sell-out because that’s what the (until recently) Obama fanclub for idiots call it. Of course we all know Obama is doing what he planned to do and what he wants to do. Giving the ultra rich more money is what he has always done. It’s what he was hired to do. It’s the cost of sexism. Quite expensive as it turns out.

So let’s see what people have to say about that event. Oh my, there seems to be some yelling and gnashing of teeth. That’s what they always do, at least until they get “the visit” or the “air force 1 ride”. And sadly for some idiots, it doesn’t even take that as they’ll suck up and say it’s all good. Mark my words. Give it another week and all the usual suspects will say how this was genius all along. Firstly we get reports of some shouting and Obama’s testy reaction:

A testy President Barack Obama on Tuesday expressed frustration at his own Democrats for attacking him over his tax-cut deal with Republicans, who he called uncompromising “hostage takers.”

Obama found himself in an unusual position a day after sealing a major tax-cut agreement — praised by Republican opponents and denounced by liberal Democrats who felt he violated a pledge that helped get him elected in 2008.

Liberals accused him of caving to Republican demands by agreeing to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, even those for wealthier Americans, instead of their preference for limiting the tax cuts to families making less than $250,000 a year.

Obama leveled some of his toughest criticism to date at the left wing of the Democratic Party, saying his critics were taking a “sanctimonious” position that would not have helped solve problems.

His voice rose and he sounded exasperated when he said if he had refused to compromise, “People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people.”

The country was founded on the principle of compromise, Obama said, and he singled out one leading critic, The New York Times editorial page, saying “The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does the Wall Street Journal editorial page.”

Did Obama just call Democrats “sanctimonious”? I believe he did. Poor babies. I hope they didn’t cry. Others have a similar story about the struggle with Democrats to get this passed:

In a 35-minute news conference, Obama chastised liberals for seeking ideological purity that would cause legislative logjams on vital issues. He didn’t spare Republicans, either, likening them to “hostage takers” willing to hurt the great majority of Americans for the “holy grail” of extending tax cuts for millionaires.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was noncommittal before and after Obama’s afternoon appearance, saying she would discuss the matter with fellow Democrats. “So far the response has not been very good,” she said after meeting with other Democratic leaders.

[...]

If Democrats kill the tax plan, it would mark a stunning defeat for Obama and a huge political bet that voters will blame Republicans as much as Democrats for an impasse that leads to higher taxes starting Jan. 1. Few on Capitol Hill believe Democrats will take that gamble. But liberal lawmakers’ discontent is hard to measure in the wake of last month’s big election setbacks.

Despite their minority status, Senate Republicans managed last week to block Obama’s long-promised bid to end Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000. They insisted that all the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, scheduled to expire in three weeks, be extended, for rich and poor alike.

But Politico comes to the rescue saying don’t worry about those Democrats because this can be passed without them:

Don’t be fooled by all the shouting. President Barack Obama’s tax-cut deal likely will squeak through the Senate, according to congressional aides, propelled by a coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats and members won over by last-minute tax sweeteners.

The House, however, is more difficult to call – but there is a path to success there as well, and it likely includes wooing some wavering members by adding a few more specialized tax breaks, aides said.

House Republicans expect nearly all of their 179 members on board and could make up a roughly 40-vote shortfall with the help of Blue Dog fiscal conservatives in the Democratic party.

House Democrats, clearly miffed, say if Obama wants the bill, he’s got to find the votes, which isn’t assured.

“Making the case for this falls on the shoulders of the administration, not House leaders,” said one House Democratic aide. “The White House cut this deal so they gotta defend it.”

[...]

Still, some Blue Dogs could break from the bill, as could moderate Democrats and even some recently defeated Democrats who accuse the GOP of hypocrisy – for attacking the high price tag the health care and stimulus bills but signing on to this $900 billion or so plan.

New Democrats, the pro-business wing led by New York Rep. Joe Crowley, signaled openness to the bill, but only if bonus depreciation and research and development tax credits are included in the final product.

Who needs these Democrats anyway? Looks like Obama doesn’t. Having said that, not all is united on the Republican side either. The Hill reports on crazy Michele Bachmann and her distaste for the unemployed:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Monday — before the White House deal was unveiled — that congressional Republicans could balk at voting to extend all the tax cuts for two years if it’s tied to a long-term extension of jobless benefits. Bachmann is the chairwoman of the House Tea Party Caucus.

“I don’t know that Republicans would necessarily go along with that vote. That would be a very hard vote to take,” Bachmann said on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s radio show.

“I think we’re back in a conundrum. I think the compromise would be extending the rates for two years and not permanently, but not tying it to massive spending,” she said. “We cannot add on something like a year of unemployment benefits.”

Isn’t she special. Isn’t it so difficult for her. She has to contemplate the unseemly act of lending a hand to the unemployed while shoveling mega millions to the richest 1%. I think she’s worried she might catch something from the peasants. Funny thing is, I don’t think she and Obama are that different.

For your reading pleasure, WaPo has more details about what Congress will be trying to accomplish in their last week before their holiday break.

In some sad news, as we found out yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards died. Good wishes and prayers to her family.

Where do you go from that sort of news. Well, beer of course. Here are the top ten home brew beer recipes:

To home brew a great beer—whether it’s all-grain or extract—requires, first and foremost, an understanding of the process and mastery of brewing technique. That’s not to say creative, well-balanced recipes with all the right ingredients don’t help with the final product. We scoured brewing books, listened to beer podcasts, and talked to brewmasters to find ten of the best homebrew recipes out there, representing a range of beer styles. The recipes we found come from some of the best professional brewers in the country as well as absurdly dedicated homebrewers.

Read on for those recipes and beer discussions.

Finland had the highest literacy rates for quite a while, but alas, no more. Recent student test results puts them behind three asian areas:

The tri-annual Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) survey of 15-year-olds ranked China’s Shanghai region in first place.

With Finland coming third, its education minister blamed a decline in reading, especially among boys.

Pupils in Sweden and Ireland also performed worse than in 2006.

And speaking of the writing on the wall, Bank of America just can’t get a break (boo hoo):

Bank of America Corp.’s agreement to pay $137 million in restitution for taking part in a nationwide bid-rigging conspiracy for municipal-investment contracts may soon be followed by more settlements to repay the scheme’s victims, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division head said.

“Stay tuned to this channel — I think you will see a lot more activity in the coming weeks and months,” Christine Varney, the antitrust chief, told reporters yesterday. “We are committed to getting restitution, full restitution, to all the municipalities that were victims of this scheme.”

[...]

Bank of America’s settlement is “likely the tip of the iceberg,” Andrew Gavil, a law professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., said in an e-mail. He said other conspirators may pay much higher penalties.

The government has identified more than a dozen firms, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG, and Societe Generale as unindicted co-conspirators in a criminal case brought by the Justice Department against a Los Angeles investment broker.

Read on for much more detail on various cases and issues, and where the government will likely be lenient.

Some exciting news from space, a private rocket is sitting on a launch pad, ready to lift off, from Cape Canaveral in what should mark a new phase in the worlds efforts to explore:

The rocket, a Falcon 9 built by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, for short, is unassuming — a runt compared to NASA’s space shuttles. It is scheduled to lift off on Wednesday morning and place into orbit an empty capsule, designed to carry cargo and eventually astronauts, which will circle the Earth twice before splashing down in the Pacific. The mission is to last less than three and a half hours.

Although the flight lacks in theatrics, it marks a major shift in the space program toward private industry. It is the first demonstration flight under a National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract that is to lead to SpaceX’s ferrying supplies to the International Space Station.

NASA, under a new space exploration blueprint signed into law in October, will now embark on a similar strategy for sending astronauts to orbit — buying rides from commercial companies rather than operating its own rocket.

The LA Times also has some coverage:

In half a century of spaceflight, only a few countries have been able to send a capsule into space and have it return to Earth intact, a technological and financial feat reserved for the wealthiest of nations.

That may all change as early as Wednesday, when a Hawthorne-based rocket venture plans to send an Apollo-like capsule into space and have it splash down in the Pacific, becoming the first commercial spacecraft to orbit the globe and survive the fiery reentry back to Earth.

If the mission is successful, it would mark a major turning point for private spaceflight and a key milestone for SpaceX, a venture started by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk.

“When Dragon returns, whether on this mission or a future one, it will herald the dawn of an incredibly exciting new era in space travel,” said Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Well, I think it’s exciting anyway. There are some amazing things to do, even in near space, and great opportunities just out of our reach. I’m very happy to see such private enterprise efforts.

That’s a bit of what’s going on. Chime in with what you’re finding or with what’s on your mind.

Monday Morning Palinpalooza

I am almost as sick of hearing about and seeing Sarah Palin as I am hearing about and seeing Barack Obama, but the news is awful, the weather is boo boo, and as a liberal fem I am apparently supposed to go into a screaming emotional PMS induced rant every time her name is even brought up. Why fight it?

I don’t plan on reading or buying her new book. Do any of you? I didn’t think so. But Historiann has the scoop.

Don’t miss Michelle Goldberg’s analysis of the feminist history in Sarah Palin’s new bookAmerica by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. Apparently, it gets worse after the diabetes-inducing title.  I agree with Goldberg that “[i]n some ways, it’s a good thing that Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist. It means that, even among conservatives, women’s equality has become a normative position, the starting point for debate. It means that feminism has gone from something that the right wants to destroy to something it wants to appropriate. That’s progress, of a sort.”  This is indeed a new development–Phyllis Schlafly’s days are over, for now, and it would be even too intellectually dishonest for Palin to pretend that feminism had nothing to do with shaping the possibilities of her political career.

As an optimist I am also pleased that a woman politician at least has to call herself a feminist to get anywhere, much less conservative woman. But this step forward is not to Bible Spice’s credit. A woman in politics has to call herself a feminist now because of the treatment a certain plucky Secretary of State received not just in 2008 but throughout her entire life in public service. Just sayin’. Let’s continue.

However, Palin is all wet when it comes to American history in general, and as Goldberg explains, feminist history in particular:  she claims Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a devout Christian–a woman who once said that “[y]ou may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women,” and who wrote her own version of the Bible.  (Truly, this is more laughable than the people who try to re-claim Thomas Jefferson as a godbag.)  Palin repeats the flimsy lie that Susan B. Anthony was anti-abortion, and she repeats the distortions of Margaret Sanger’s work and career by claiming that she advocated “Nazi-style eugenics.”  (She cites the esteemed historian Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism on Sanger.)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and another fun fem, Amelia Earheart, also rejected the usefulness of remaining faithful to their husbands. Amelia even passed a petition about it around. Hillary wasn’t the first classy lady to question standing by her man. So far that’s Hillary: 2 Sarah: 0.

Sarah Palin is a huge disappointment.  She could have countered her detractors the right way and continued working for the people of her beloved Alaska, but instead she has allowed herself and her family to be turned into celebrity jokes. Marketing yourself as a pundit on Fox News and giving yourself a reality show on TLC is not the way to prove you’re Presidential material. So much for all that maverick talk about Middle America. She should have taken a leaf out of that crazy bra burning feminist Hillary Clinton’s book instead of Barack Obama’s. Now she and him are like the American Idol clones of Presidential Politics. If they are both running in 2012 we won’t even be able to take a break and watch an episode of House or Dexter without one of them guest starring. They and their brands will be EVERYWHERE. God help us all!

I still don’t believe you have to be liberal or pro choice to be a feminist, but Caribou Barbie stopped caring about standing up to the good old boys a long time ago. It was probably some time in between the grand finale of Dancing with the Stars or a deep philosophical connection with Dick Morris while he was ghostwriting her new book. At least now she is caught up to the President and has managed to write two autobiographies without actually accomplishing much of anything.

Either way, from now on she’s on her own.

Monday Morning: He’s Baa-aaccccckkkk

Keith Olbermann has returned from exile at MSNBC:

Liberal groups had taken on Olbermann’s suspension as a cause. An online petition calling for his reinstatement, run by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, had exceeded 300,000 signatures Sunday, and Michael Moore had tweeted his support. The committee’s Adam Green said Griffin was repeatedly e-mailed updates on the petition drives.

“Progressives proved that when one of our own are targeted, we will have their backs,” he said.

That’s right. Why fight for REAL Health Care Reform or hold some kind of rally for the unemployed when you can fight to get a screaming moron back on the air?

Oh well. Moving on! Representative Eric Cantor refuses to take another Government shut down or a default on the National Debt off the table.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday this morning, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the #2 Republican in the House, threatened to take the nation’s economy hostage if President Obama does not comply with House GOPers’ as yet undefined demands. When asked if he would take a government shutdown on forcing the United States to default on its debt off the table, Cantor responded that it would somehow be President Obama’s fault if House Republicans press this agenda:

QUESTION: Are you willing to say right now we’re not going to let the country go into default, and we won’t allow a government shutdown?

CANTOR:  Chris, look at this now.  The chief executive, the president, is as responsible as any in terms of running this government. The president has a responsibility, as much or more so than Congress, to make sure that we are continuing to function in a way that the people want.

Wow. Do these imbeciles ever learn? Never mind the fact that the public sector is almost the only place where people actually have jobs now, Obama is ALL READY saying he will compromise on extending the Bush Tax cuts. I wouldn’t worry, folks. No way is Bam going to have the cojones to let it come to a showdown between him and the House GOP. He might actually have to stand on his principles if that happens, and he has none. Even if it’s true that the GOP won’t accept compromise now, he will cave.

Cantor elaborates on The Hill about what message electing Nancy as House Minority Leader would send to Americans:

“I mean, the voters outright rejected the agenda that she’s been about. And here they’re going to put her back in charge,” Cantor, in line to become the House majority leader in the next Congress, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I mean this is the woman who really, I think, puts ideology first, and there have been no results for the American people,” he said. “And that seems the direction they want to take again. It just doesn’t make sense.”

She hardly puts her ideology first. This is a gal who claims to be pro choice and then passed HCR on our uteruses to please her backers in the Insurance Industry. Maybe if she had stuck to her scary socialist ideology more women would have showed up at the polls when she and Harry needed them.

And the  party doesn’t stop there. At least not the Tea party. The GOP also promises to “roll back” HCR.

Republicans, who will control the House starting in January but will remain in the minority in the Senate, acknowledge that they do not have the votes for their ultimate goal of repealing the health law, the most polarizing of Mr. Obama’s signature initiatives.

But they said they hoped to use the power of the purse to challenge main elements of the law, forcing Democrats — especially those in the Senate who will be up for re-election in 2012 — into a series of votes to defend it.

How’s that “New Coalition” working out for ya?

My Voting Strategy: How many times do we have to have this conversation?

Yesterday my room mate and I met our new neighbor across the hall. She is an extremely kind woman whose cat had just died, and we baked her cookies to extend our condolences. She invited us in for hot chocolate and gave us some of her cats old toys, and we had a very pleasant visit. She was a solid white lady, probably in her seventies and recently widowed. We had a smoke together and she told me about her family back in Chicago. My grandma just died recently and hanging around with her lifted my spirits a great deal.

She also had a book by Bill O’Reilly on her coffee table. Fox news was blaring in plain site on her TV, there was a magnet on her refrigerator that said “God Loves You,” and she had a book about the rapture in her shelf. Yup, white older female, Christian and well within the Tea Party Demographic. I tried for a few seconds to give a shit, and found that I couldn’t.

See, I get people like Beverly-that is her name. I grew up around her. Salt of the Earth folk. Well in my case, salt of the earth stoners, alcoholics and nutcases but I am still proud god dammit. My father’s family came from a small train station town called Urichsville, Ohio. My grandpa beat pipes with hammers and went fishin’ out on Lake Tappan and my dad learned how to play the guitar on a rock overhang next to the lake. He had three brothers and to this day my uncles are still guitar strummin’ hillbilly white trash and don’t you forget it.  They even have a band to prove it. It’s  called “Bad Idea,” because when they formed it my dad said, “This is a bad idea.” They sing a variety of songs but this is their favorite tune to jam to:

 

My dad left Urichsville to be an accountant and went to Kent State. He wasn’t handsome or charming but at least he was good with numbers. He traded all that for a yuppy house in the suburbs, plastic surgery and a second wife with a boob job and his conservatism is based on economic rather than social policy, but it comes from a humble place.

My mom has had a hard life and she relies on her faith and friends for support, most of which I have known my whole life. They are good if not misguided people and I do not begrudge them their political and religious differences from me, because in their eyes I am accepted as well.

These people work hard and they are bombarded daily with media that is patriarchal, monotheistic and right wing. The MSM has probably been selling the “this country is center-right” lie since the age of movement conservatism and they do this while selling the issues from a left vs. right perspective that is framed from the “center right.”

To be frank, most people in this country are neither liberal nor conservative, and the number of registered independents proves my point. Every time I get into a discussion of politics with someone, they tell me, “I just want to support whatever works.” That is what we all want, regardless of ideology. Politics should be about making people’s lives better, but most of the time it is turned into a game and it’s purpose is to fill the pockets of the elites. The silliest of Americans understand that.

The Tea Party has it’s origins in populism and since then it has been astroturfed by crazy right wingers. They are running candidates that make me want to hide under my bed and cry. But Americans just want solutions to problems, and the Teabaggers may be telling some of them what they want to hear. They could care less about the kooky religahoon xion flag waving social conservatism even if it’s weird even for them. Loony conservatives in the Republican Party have been saying for years that they want to control women’s uterus’, teach creationism in public schools and put queers on death row but it has never happened (mostly). We have checks and balances in our political system that prevents extremism from being legislated.

Christine O’Donnell makes me whimper, but I want a witchhunt on her platform, not her panini. If I child shows up at my doorstep dressed as Sharon Angle on Halloween I am going to run away screaming but calling a woman a b*tch is unacceptable unless it is meant as a term of endearment. And Sarah Palin makes my left eye twitch sometimes when she says some of the things she says, but putting her on the cover of mother jones as a scantily clad she-monster is taking it a step or two too far. Come on, guys.

That being said, I will never vote for a Tea Party member or a Republican. I am a liberal and I vote for candidates who have earned my vote. The founding fathers did not write the constitution and form the first Democratic Republic in history so I could waste my vote and my free speech on Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio. Are you kidding me with this? And I did not file my tax returns last year so I could vote for Kendrick Meeks, who put a government patent on my uterus when he voted for “HCR” and Stupakistan. Hell no.

Alex Sink seems vote worthy and there are some amendments I have my eye on, but for now I say “none of the above.” America is at a crossroads. We have to decide, in times like this, whether we stick by our principles and only vote for candidates who have earned our vote or we reward those who do not have our best interests at heart and have demonstrated it repeatedly with our tax dollars and our trust.

I’ve made my decision. I might just be plain white trash but liberal is my game. What’s yours?

Women Are to Blame For Hillary’s Loss. What Else is New?

As if we want to be reminded of the 2008 election, Rebecca Traister has just written a book expressing her desire for a “Sarah Palin of the Left” and letting us in on the fact that Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency was historic, she was the first woman to win a presidential primary, and she won more primary votes than any other presidential candidate in history, man or woman. OMG, no way! The book is called Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women.

According to Jezebel, this is the book we’ve been waiting for.

Rebecca Traister: As often happened at lunches about Hillary, within moments there was a furious conflagration about how young women didn’t know anything about feminism. I found that the election offered a sort of match that lit what was already pretty dry tinder. It wasn’t so much that Hillary made different generations of women angry at each other. It’s that Hillary gave them the excuse to have the fight they’d been spoiling to have for a very long time.

Cat Fight! Whooooop! Let’s watch the ladies get crazy!

Traisier goes on to spout the usual propoganda about Hillary’s bad campaign, Mark Penn, Raycists, Obama was more inspiring and blah blah blah, and then finally gets to the root of the problem as to why Hillary and her supporters were such epic losers.

You could go back and hear the same conversations around the foundation of the feminist and lefty blogosphere and hear young women saying, ‘Well, the women of the traditional feminist organizations aren’t listening to us, so we’re moving into our own realms.” Some of the older women — I’m using older women and young women very broadly, I don’t meant to be talking in derisive generalizations — you could hear them say, “These young women don’t take their rights seriously, they blog all day, they’re not activists.”

So in the end, Hillary lost because of a giant cat fight between third wavers, who are bratty and didn’t want to listen to their mommies and old second wave crustaceans who just wanted to call their daughters unappreciative of the rights they got for them.

Wow. I was under the impression that Hillary lost because delegates were stolen from her and the party refused to have a fair nominating process because they wanted a race baiting empty suit that would allow them to keep lining their pockets with cash from the pharmaceutical and financial industries. But apparently it’s much more complex than that. Actually, it has much more to do with my relationship with my mother.

I should use this opportunity to tell you something about my mom. She had me when she was thirty three. Hillary was the same age when she had Chelsea. I love my mother to death. I’m crazy about her and she’s crazy about me, but I was only partly raised by her. She has bipolar depression and severe anxiety and when I was six and she and my father had been divorced for a couple of years, she had a nervous breakdown and checked into the loony bin. My brothers and sister and I were almost put into foster care, but instead we went to live with my father and step mother (Foster care would have preferable), and from then on, we only saw her periodically on visitation.

I suppose I could be categorized as having very bad “mommy issues.” That has nothing to do with anything, but since we’ve all ready delved so deep into trashy Freudian psychobabble, I can say with absolute certainty that Traister is talking out of her ass. I find myself seeking out the approval and affection of older women more because of my complicated relationship with my mom.

Traister is simplistic and conformist in her musings, and while she is quick to put blame on young women, she has high praise for young men.

At the time, I wrote about what I perceived as a complicated misogynist vibe coming from some of the young male Obama devotees in the last stages of the primary cycle. I think one of the reasons that I was so struck by it — and this is not to give some pass to all younger men — is that there is such a marked generational change among men. There’s more of an awareness of gender, they’re often raised by feminist moms and working moms. Men who are [at least] used to the idea of equally splitting domestic duties; they’re active fathers.

I had actually come to expect much more from young men. We’re very lucky to live with a new generation of men, and I think our kids will be luckier still. But this was an instance in which some old attitudes seemed to bubble up among younger men.

See? The next generation of kids will be so lucky to be raised by Obots.

Dig it: What if young women who supported Obama weren’t trying to thumb their nose at their mothers? What if they were seeking the approval of their fathers? When I was small I would sometimes pretend to dislike Hillary and other assertive women. I thought my dad might give me a hug if I pretended to agree with him about stuff.

But no, we women “asked for it.” Traister blames women for blaming other women for what happened to the Secretary of State. She falls into the timeless “divide and conquer” trap that the Patriarchy sets up for us. Instead of uniting over our common interest: equality, feminists and more specifically mothers and daughters are pitted against one another over things like choice and porn and made to believe that we are our own worst enemy. I am constantly lurking on threads, on Clinton friendly threads no less, that have plenty to say about the lack of authenticity of “young feminists.”

And really, what is that? Plenty of young women supported Hillary and plenty of older women supported Obama. I’m twenty years old. I like doing my hair and getting my nails done and tanning, and I’m a feminist because I believe in equality. I am not a “third wave” feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a “fun feminist.” I’m a feminist. I’m not a white feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a pro choice feminist, I’m a feminist. I’m not a liberal feminist. I’m a feminist. I’m not a feminist Democrat. Honestly, I’m just a fricking feminist. That’s my only MO.

Every woman, old or young, is a feminist deep down, even if she doesn’t know it, because she is a human being. Feminism is about humanity. “Humanist” is a more appropriate term, but feminist is the one we have. Let’s stop putting labels on women. Let’s stop questioning each other’s choices. Let’s stop being so cruel to one another, and instead start working together.

And let’s not read Rebecca Traister’s new book.

Dish: Health Insurance Reform

WHHHOOOOOOOOOO! Health Care Reform for white men has passed! The most historical event evah in the history of historicalness has occurred! A Democratic Congress and a Democratic President has made a Republican Healthcare Bill Law! Insurance companies will be able to not provide helpless children with adequate care at last!

All this change! All this hope! I can’t take it! I’m going to spontaneously combust!

The world is going insane, and while normally I like insanity, this is not the good kind. Obama has just passed national RomneyObamacare–a Nixon wet dream originating from the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s in opposition to Hillarycare, and yet lunatic “Tea Partiers” are running around vandalizing the houses of Congressidiots who voted for the heaping pile of shit, screaming that they are “socialists?”

Obama signs an executive order restricting women’s access to abortion, and so called “progressives” and “feminists” are having kool aid induced orgasms as they compare the passage of a Health Insurance Reform Bill that would be better served as toilet paper to the Civil Rights Act? What the fuck?

Well, maybe I’m being unfair. The Bill IS Historic. Historically shitty.

I find myself–and we all must admit that I am normally so cheerful and chipper, yes, you know you all love me– I find myself feeling gloomy. I’m walking around campus with my hands shoved in the pockets of my fake leather jacket with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth–and I don’t even smoke! Security officers are mistaking me for troubled youth and are performing random searches on me.

Well, I am troubled. I’m troubled about a lot of things, but in terms of politics and current events, I am troubled about the fact that, as MYIQ said a few weeks ago, there appears to be no end in sight.

But what really has me bummed out right now is the realization that there is no end in sight for the mess this country is in. The single biggest problem facing our nation is the illness in our political system. When I say “illness” I mean the equivalent of an inoperable cancer that has metastasized. If we fixed our political system then we would actually be able to do something about those other problems.

For most of my adult life I believed that the Democrats were the good guys so even when they were getting slapped around by the Republicans I could support them and hope that after the next election they would grow a pair and start standing up for the liberal ideals they campaigned on.

I finally realized that the majority of the Democrats who hold elected office are not only corrupt but they have the same agenda as the Republicans. Oh, the say they’re on our side, and when it’s time for them to represent us they might make some speeches andr play some parliamentary tricks but when the nitty meets the gritty they lose on purpose. Lots of times they don’t even bother to put on a dog and pony show anymore, they just vote to bail out Wall Street or take away our civil rights as if that’s what we wanted them to do.

Now as far back as I can remember the Republicans were corrupt and they tended to be pricks or assholes, and sometimes both, but they weren’t insane. Nowadays there’s a lot of GOPers that are crazy as shithouse rats. That not only includes the elected ones but the voters too. Then you got the tea baggers who don’t think the Republicans are crazy enough.

I can’t believe that I am living in a country–I country I have grown up loving with every fiber of my being despite its flaws–where this is happening. The passage of a bill that bails out the Health Care Industry is historic! And in honor of Women’s History Month we passed it on the backs of women and their reproductive rights! Cats bark! Fish have tails! Catholic Priests are ethical in their treatment of young children!

The whole world is going mad I tell you! MAAAADDDDD!

Of course, intellectually I understand, there is always hope. Democrats are going to lose a lot of seats in November and while the Republicans that come into office will be even worse, the door will open for real liberals, not phony “progressives,” to show Donna Brazile and Howard Dean’s “New Coalition” to be ineffective and thus we will be able to take our party back.

But sometimes, in this Golden Era of Hope and Change, politics just isn’t enough. For once in our lives, we needed policy. Good policy that would actually have given broke-ass students like me real Health Insurance. Just a few weeks ago, before my spring break, I came down with the flu and missed a week of classes I’m still making up. If I had insurance, I might have been able to get antibiotics and missed only one day, maybe two. This bill does nothing to help me. For one thing, I’ll be done with my undergraduates and possibly even my graduates by 2014. At this rate I’m going to have to start stripping for my ‘scrips, just like a number of poor senior citizens who will shortly be facing cuts in medicare due to this lame-assed bill.


Sometimes, I get tired. Sometimes, I don’t want to live life day to day anymore. Sometimes I think things will never get better. Trying to get something to eat, trying to fill up my gas tank–always being hungry, worrying about my mom, worrying about my friends, worrying about all the people around me at my school who are going through the same thing.

Sometimes, honestly, I’m just tired. And today, forgive me, but I have to lament over the fact that politics took precedence over policy. Sorry.

Woman’s Last Stand

I saw this yesterday at OpenLeft (H/T Natasha Chart).  It’s a parody of the Dodge Charger commercial that was shown during the Superbowl.  There’s something here for every woman.  I particularly identify with the asserting yourself at work statement.

The genie was let out of the bottle in 2008.  The 2010 Superbowl ads were a throw back to an earlier, MadMen era.  Let this be a lesson to the Obot women out there.  When the guys you were partying with were groping Hillary’s cardboard breast and silkscreening “Sarah Palin is a cunt” T-shirts, they weren’t doing it because of Clinton’s overhyped DLC connections or Palin’s alleged lack of intellect.  If you don’t hold them accountable, this is the crap you get a year later.  And these assholes will be in charge for THREE. MORE. YEARS.

I’m skiing today with Brook and her friends.  REAL skiing, not wii skiing.  Pray for me.

A 16-year-old is buried alive, nobody cries

I’ll bet that girl did, but apparently nobody heard her. Here’s the story:

Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an “honor” killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys. The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-meter hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman. … Media reports said the father had told relatives he was unhappy that his daughter – one of nine children – had male friends. The grandfather is said to have beaten her for having relations with the opposite sex. A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

Yup. A sixteen year old girl was buried alive for talking to boys and nobody gives a shit. I mean, seriously, who cares? Tiger Woods porked a Porn Star! Angeline is bored with Brad!

The always reliable Peter Doau tells it like it is:

First, let me say this: the brutalization of women and girls cuts across all religious and cultural boundaries, so this isn’t just about dis-’honor’ killings, though few things are more heinous than a father murdering his daughter (after dispassionately discussing it with other family members). It’s about the things males do to females and will continue to do unless the outcry is loud enough that the world begins to take notice.

I have no patience for anyone trying to blame this hideous act on Islam. None. If you want to get on an anti-Islam soupbox, do it somewhere else, where people who aren’t ignorant don’t have to listen to you. This is not about Religion. This is not about class. This is not about Race or Origin or Ethnic background or location, this is about that girl and millions of others like her who suffer and die because they have a vagina. This is about the human spirit, and the simple fact that women are not viewed as human beings in our society, and haven’t been viewed as human beings for a very long time. What happened to that girl isn’t an isolated incident. It is pervasive, like an ancient and sickening disease. And it is everywhere.

Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore. Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair. “We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

[...]

I could post thousands of these and it wouldn’t capture the depth and breadth of the problem. It comes down to this: there simply isn’t sufficient public outrage about gender-based violence to spur political action.

[...]

Sometimes I feel like we were all born into an alternate universe, a psychotic, twisted, perverted version of what life should be. Our existence is marked by unimaginable violence, hideous acts of evil against the most innocent among us. It’s like living in a perpetual horror movie.

Setting aside the existential conundrum, one thing I know for certain: we can’t stop jumping up and down, screaming at the top of our lungs, donating money to organizations that help women, telling our friends and families, doing everything in our power to stop these male monsters from continuing their savagery against women and girls.

Hmmmmm… do any of you know anyone who jumps up and down, screams at the top of their lungs, donates money to lady friendly organizations, and tells all of their friends about violence against women and girls? I don’t.

And maybe its time we do.

As a Wiccan I’m often asked why folks like me carry around the burning times as chips on our shoulders. They ask this as if the burning times are over. Nobody is burning at the stake (at least not very many) but that’s only because its so passe. Genital mutilation and stoning is much more effective these days.

SOD did a series about Male Social Dominance and how it effects women and girls. Attitudes like these do stem from Male Social Dominance, but some argue that Male Social Dominance isn’t as ingrained into human nature as you might think.

If you ever read The Chalice and The Blade, by Raine Eslier or When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone or In Search of the Sacred Feminine you would know what that means. They and others make the case that human beings aren’t, by nature, violent and warlike, and cite archeological evidence of Pre-Helenic Egalitarian societies as proof.

One common misconception is that women back then were “worshiped” in “fertility cults” because of their reproductive powers, but the truth is much more practical and economical. Nobody was monogamous those days and they didn’t have paternity tests, so societies were matrilineal, meaning property and possessions were passed down through daughters instead of sons, because there was never any way to know who the father of the children were. Women were thus in control of their bodies and independence, so men and women lived together in peaceful harmony.

Archeologists have discovered no evidence of the glorification of violence and war from the civilizations that existed on the Islands of Crete and Thera for at least a thousand years. They were neolithic, so they didn’t hunt and didn’t evolve by eating meat, therefore physical strength, which is where men usually have the advantage, wasn’t very important. People from those societies generally had a different view on life than we do today. They had no human or animal sacrifices. They were highly advanced, and they didn’t have written word because it wouldn’t have made sense to them. Paragraphs are linear and they had no concept of time, for them everything went in a circle. Obviously they weren’t perfect, and they were the way they were because men and women chose to coexist instead of dominating each other.

Their way of life eventually died out because non-neolithic indo-europeans invaded from the north and Hebrews invaded from the south. Those tribes were violent and patriarchal because they came from areas that were to cold or warm to grow food, so they survived by hunting and conquest. That supposedly happened around five thousand years ago, and women have been subject to violence ever since, because to violent societies past and present women are akin to livestock or booty.

(It’s also worth noting that the Aryans were one of the Indo European tribes that invaded those egalitarian societies, and Hitler cited them as superior human beings.)

If you really think about it, all of the world’s problems go back to women’s equality. That’s how it all started. I highly doubt that any of the men in Congress or men in the White House are going to be bringing more attention to gender based violence any time soon.

So, as usual, its up to us to do something about it.

A Couple of Brave Souls Dare to Praise Hillary Clinton

Ben Smith, a pudgy little man filled with bile

For the past few days, the Villagers and their media buddies have been poring over the trashy new book by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, Game Change. The person who seems to be having the most fun with the book is Ben Smith at Politico, who seemingly has been in the throes of an extended orgasm as gloating again and again in print about the supposed demise of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Smith’s ravening, slavering hatred of the Clintons reached a climax today when he vomited out this repulsive bile-filled piece: Game over: The Clintons stand alone According to Smith, there is no one left who will stand up and defend either Clinton. They are universally and resoundingly hated and despised by everyone in politics and “journalism.” Here’s an example of Ben Smith’s putrid prose:

“Game Change” peels back a decade of careful renovations off Hillary Clinton’s carefully constructed public face, casting her in the terms that defined her at her lows in the mid-1990s: scheming, profane, sometimes paranoid, often tone-deaf.

The authors report that Clinton and her aides plotted behind allies’ backs to enter the 2004 presidential contest and that Clinton herself favored some of the nastiest tactics, such as suggesting that then-Sen. Barack Obama had been a drug dealer, in the 2008 campaign. And she continued to believe — without evidence, and long after her concession — that he had, in effect, stolen the Iowa caucuses by importing out-of-state voters.

Her husband, the former president, is depicted as canny, but flawed as ever: making key errors, as has been widely reported, in South Carolina, and raising his own aides’ suspicions that he was reprising the extramarital wanderings that exploded during his presidency.

“Everybody talked. Anybody that tells you they didn’t are lying to you,” lamented one former top Clinton aide, who mused that perhaps for the first time in a career of leaks and betrayals, the Clinton’s innermost circle of loyalists been breached.

The result leaves the Clintons exposed and isolated, their darkest suspicions — “us against the world” — validated.

Excuse me for a minute. I think I’m going to be sick.

OK, back. Today a couple of courageous people did come forward to praise Hillary Clinton–and lo and behold, they did it under their own names, rather than hiding behind anonymity, as most of Heilemann and Halperin’s sources did.

First up, Peter Daou, who was communications director of the Clinton campaign.

…this is not about psychoanalyzing Hillary Clinton or probing her personal attributes — others have made a living doing that. It’s not about making her out to be a saint. Nobody is. This is about describing how she ran her campaign and how she treated her opponents when the cameras and microphones were off.

Was I on every call and at every strategy session? No. Can I vouch for every single thing said and done at the campaign. Of course not. But having participated in countless senior strategy meetings, crisis management and rapid response drills and emergencies, “war rooms within war rooms” (a term used by Heilemann/Halperin), debate prep, calls, emails and private conversations with the candidate, and having slept with my BlackBerry under my pillow and been stationed at the center of her communications operation for the duration of the campaign, I can confidently state that Hillary Clinton did not push for ‘vicious’ or dirty tactics against any of her opponents, nor did she encourage or ‘cheer on’ that behavior from her staff. The ethos of the campaign, which she conveyed in word and deed, was that she would win because she was best prepared, worked the hardest and had the most compelling ideas.

She was centered, dignified and focused throughout, although her frustration and pain did show through at some moments. She knew the media environment was stacked against her, against any woman. She knew what she was up against and drove forward into the furious headwinds of sexism and rightwing-fueled Clinton-hatred.

Daou also speaks to the gloating media critics who want to muddy the Clintons while pretending that Obama is pure as the driven snow.

…I have little tolerance for critics who simplify the whole election as some sort of reflection of the supposedly terrible character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, conveniently ignoring the Obama campaign’s brutally effective hardball tactics and overlooking the infinite dimensions — and messiness — of a presidential image/message war.

Next to stand up for Hillary is MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough in a piece called “The True Character of Hillary Clinton.”

…what I saw throughout Hillary’s 2008 campaign was a candidate who kept fighting back even after being badly wounded in Iowa, negligently served by her staff, and treated miserably by a biased press corps….

I thought the 48 hours before the New Hampshire primary were the most humiliating any national figure of Hillary Clinton’s stature had to endure in recent political history. It was a political execution that was broadcast across the world in slow motion. And it was ugly.

But Hillary Clinton had other plans. The New York senator shocked every pundit and pollster from Manchester to Manhattan, outperforming the final NH polls by a dozen points or more.

For the next few months, the Clinton campaign took one body blow after another. The media coverage was deplorable. In fact, it was so biased in some quarters that more than a few living legends of broadcast news privately shared with me the embarrassment they felt toward their own profession.

Still, Clinton kept fighting on.

Scarborough goes on to enumerate the many times Hillary fought back during the 2008 primaries, and finishes with this high praise for Hillary’s character:

Character is rarely revealed in its sharpest contrast after a glorious victory. Instead, you find out what a person is made of after they sustain a soul crushing defeat. In her long, tortured march toward Denver, Hillary Clinton showed more character, more resilience, and more true grit than any presidential candidate I can recall.

And in that losing cause, Secretary Clinton served as a great example of character not only for my young daughter, but for us all. It is that type of strength that we need in our leaders now more than ever.

Thank you Peter and Joe for being unafraid to stand up to the slick, slimy Villagers and their ugly, envious, bile-ridden media courtiers. I salute you both!

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Who ARE these people?

OK, let me get this straight. The guy who is Majority Leader of the Senate talks in private about another Senator like this:

Reid said Obama could fare well nationally as an African-American candidate because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”

We know that at least this statement from the soon-to-be-released book Game Change is true, because Reid has already apologized for it.

Saturday, the majority leader said he had used “poor choice of words” and called Obama to apologize; the White House issued a statement indicating that the president had forgiven Reid.

Based on the review in The New York Times and on excerpts of the book that have been published by several news outlets, Game Change, by John Heilemann of New York Magazine and Mark Halperin of Time, apparently focuses almost exclusively on gossip and scandal about the 2008 presidential candidates and their spouses.

What I’ve mostly learned from reading excepts and quotes from the book is that many of the people who are running our country are frighteningly out of touch with modern American culture and language. No wonder they are governing as if we were living in the 19th century rather than the 21st!

Harry Reid is 70 years old–just 8 years older than I am. Yet he apparently uses the term “Negro” in private conversations. As I recall, that term began to be considered inappropriate in the late 1960s, in response to the “Black is Beautiful” movement.

Here is what Matthew Yglesias had to say about this story:

I’m slow on the uptake about this whole “negro dialect” business but it’s a reminder of how weird political apologies get to be. It’s good that Reid apologized, but at the same time you can’t really apologize for being the sort of person who’d be inclined to use the phrase “negro dialect” and it’s more the idea of Reid being that kind of person that’s creepy here than anything else. Doesn’t seem likely to help Reid’s already troubled re-election campaign.

For once I have to agree with Yglesias. Creepy is a very good word for Reid’s behavior. And I recall that this is also the guy who complained aloud about the odor of working class tourists in DC in the summer. This man is creepy as hell. So why is he in charge of the U.S. Senate?

And then we have this:

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and a group of other senators who would back Hillary Clinton’s candidacy encouraged Obama to run for the White House as early as 2006. The concern over Clinton was that she would be a weak Democratic standard-bearer while Obama could energize the party. In late summer 2007, Schumer – using an Obama ally, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as a back channel – pushed the candidate to “take a two-by-four to Hillary,” as the authors put it.

The backstabbing part I can believe. That’s par for the course in politics, but “take a two-by-four to Hillary?” That’s almost worse than Keith Olberman’s advice to Democratic leaders to get Hillary Clinton out of the primary race by finding “Someone who can take her into a room and only he comes out.”

The language attributed to Schumer does seem in character with his recent behavior toward a female flight attendant who asked him to turn off his cell phone during a flight:

Schumer was sitting next to protege Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, gabbing away on his phone, when a flight attendant told him to shut it down.

Schumer turned off his phone, and then argued with the attendant that he was allowed to talk while the cabin door is open. He lost.

He then muttered his complaint about the flight attendant to Gillibrand.

A Republican aide on the plane, who overheard the powerful Democrat, tattled to Politico.com.

“The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon told Anne Schroeder Mullins.

What is wrong with these people? Is it just because I live in a large urban area in the liberal Northeast and associate with relatively intelligent and sophisticated people that I find all this so shocking? I know we saw incredible misogyny from the news media during both the primary and general campaigns, but somehow it seems even more stunning to me coming from a supposedly liberal Democratic Senator.

Then there is the treatment of Elizabeth Edwards in the Heilemann-Halperin book. I have trouble buying the descriptions of Elizabeth because of the misogynistic nature of the language that the authors paraphrase and quote. For example,

In the wake of the first Enquirer story about Mr. Edwards’s affair, the authors write, Mrs. Edwards “was sobbing, out of control, incoherent,” and vented her fury on the “very aides who had kept the matter from mushrooming” further.

If “kept the matter from mushrooming” means concealing it from Elizabeth and talking about it behind her back, then her furious reaction seems understandable. Frankly, I think fury is understandable just in the context of learning your husband is cheating on you when you have cancer and that he has just flushed both of your futures down the toilet. Heileman and Halperin write that:

…while the aides had sympathy for Mrs. Edwards’s struggle with cancer, they regarded her as a badgering, often irrational presence on the campaign. “The nearly universal assessment among them,” Mr. Halperin and Mr. Heilemann write of the Edwards aides, “was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing. What the world saw in Elizabeth: a valiant, determined, heroic everywoman. What the Edwards insiders saw: an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman.”

Apparently there is more gossip about the Clintons in the book than about any of the other participants in the campaign. So what else is new?

Oh, and by the way, the authors of Game Change describe the Obama’s marriage as idyllic.

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