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      What would Emily Post do? Why, she’d pull out her Kel-Tec P-11 and peel off a warning shot, of course! Because a tender moment between man and hooker deserves privacy, and an armed society is a polite society, amirite? AUGUST 27–A tuxedoed Seattle man was arrested early yesterday after he fired a gun at a […]
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      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! It is 3 degrees here in the Boston western suburbs!!

Nevertheless, we are better off than you guys in the southern states where there is a winter storm going on. Yesterday, Texas and Oklahoma got about a foot of snow, and today the storm will move east into the Carolinas and Virgina and then out to sea.

California Conflucians are getting a break from the storms, but the state still needs more to end the long-term drought.

Our economics-challenged President is threatening to veto spending bills (except money for wars, banks, and insurance companies), because he thinks cutting the deficit is as important as creating jobs. I wonder when he’s going to figure out that the U.S. economy is dependent on consumer spending; and if people don’t have jobs, it’s kind of hard for them to buy things. Since he never held a full-time job before getting elected President and all his friends are rich corporate types, he doesn’t quite get what us ordinary people are so worried about.

“Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t,” Obama said. “And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.”

In an effort to make a dent in the growing federal deficit, White House officials announced earlier this week that their budget proposal would keep non-military discretionary programs at fiscal 2010 levels (Greenwire, Jan. 26). The proposal would exempt some of the largest parts of the federal budget including defense and entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.

It will be up to Congress to decide whether to comply with this request in its spending bills, and Obama pled with them last night to toe the line — addressing critics from his own party and calling the effort vital to keep markets in line and avoid increases in the cost of borrowing.

I guess Obama thinks he can solve our economic problems by creating jobs in the military and defense industries. Maybe he is hoping a lot of us will go to work for Blackwater? I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I like Joseph Cannon’s idea of replacing Geithner with our own Dakinikat.

Eric Holder has been taking a lot of criticism from the right for locating the 9/11 conspiracy trial in New York City, and now he will be getting critiques from not non-Obots on the left. The Justice department review has cleared the Bush torture memo writers of professional misconduct.

Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.)

By this time everyone should be aware that the Obama administration is not going to hold anyone accountable for planning or participating in torture. Continue reading

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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God Forbid we Should Change the Status Quo

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Jake Tapper of ABC News had an “exclusive” interview with President Obama today. The first part of the interview was shown on ABC News hour tonight, more will be shown on Nightline tonight, and the rest on Good Morning America tomorrow. Tapper asked the President about the abortion language in the “health care reform” bill passed by the House on Saturday night.

“I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill,” Obama said. “And we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.

Saying the bill cannot change the status quo regarding the ban on federally funding abortions, the President said “there are strong feelings on both sides” about an amendment passed on Saturday and added to the legislation, “and what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo.”

Call me crazy, I thought Mr. Hope ‘n Change was elected because he wanted to change the status quo. Can someone please explain to me why it is so important to make absolutely sure there is no change in the status quo on funding abortions? And furthermore, doesn’t the Stupak amendment already guarantee a very big change in the status quo? So does that mean Mr. Obama will do something about the Stupak amendment to return us to his beloved status quo? It’s not really clear, but no, I don’t think he plans to do anything but sit around waiting for someone else to take responsibility for this ongoing nightmare of a health care bill.

Obama told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that he was confident that the final legislation will ensure that “neither side feels that it’s being betrayed.”

“I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test — that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” he said.

I don’t know what the heck that means except that Mr. Obama is not going to take any kind of stand. He’s going to carry on with the “on the one hand…on the other hand” crap until someone else take responsibility for limiting women’s rights so dramatically that many of us are still in shock. But Mr. Bipartisanship is still trying to please both “sides.” Of course both of those “sides” are mostly made up of very rich, old men.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that the President is not going to “take sides” on the Stupak amendment controversy.

The White House on Monday signaled it would keep its distance in the increasingly vocal debate over whether health insurance reform should include language related to abortion.

When asked whether the president supported Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) amendment to prohibit the public insurance plan from covering abortion services, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged the question — multiple times.

“Well, ask me that right before Christmas and the end of the New Year,” Gibbs said during today’s press briefing, noting the president still expected to sign a healthcare bill before the year’s end.

The press secretary later clarified, “We will work on this and continue to seek consensus and common ground.”

Now there’s a surprise. Has Barack Obama ever taken a stand on anything? I don’t think so. And once again he’s going to vote “present” while women are stripped of what reproductive rights they had left. Good luck finding “common ground” on the abortion issue. If there is any common ground, it’s a very small strip of land indeed.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the house bill *only* makes older people pay twice as might for health insurance as older people. These are the figures:

under the House’s 2-to-1 cap, a 20-year-old would pay $3,169 in annual premiums and a 60-year-old would pay $6,339 for comparable plans, if they both had incomes above the subsidy-eligible level. Under a bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, which had a 4-to-1 age-rating ratio, the 20-year-old would pay $2,258 and the 60-year-old would pay $8,357.

I have never in my life had to pay more than $2,000 for health insurance. The idea that I could ever afford to pay more than $6000 or $8,000 per year is unimaginable to me. What have these so-called Democrats done to us?!!

We are so screwed. I guess I should be grateful that I’m past menopause, so at least I won’t be needing an abortion. It looks like some young women are going to be finding out what it was like when I was in college. No birth control, no abortion, no help for women in crisis.

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Can Honour Killing In Muslim Communities Be Ended Through Islam?

Recent events in the United States and Canada, in which fathers and families treat their daughters in an inexcusable manner, compel me to release this draft of an incompletely distilled paper. I apologize for its length, but the topic is not amenable to a series of posts, and it may offer some understanding as to why these practise exist and what might be done to change them.

Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death in her Mississauga home, Peel police said today.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death as “neck compression.” The 16-year-old was taken to hospital Monday morning after a man called police and said he killed his daughter. She died later that night. Friends told reporters that Aqsa fought with her Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab. She often stayed overnight with friends, afraid to go home, they said. Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, appeared in court today and will face either a first- or second-degree murder charge. He was denied bail and remanded into custody until a hearing via video link on Jan. 29.

Why did Aqsa Parvez’s father strangle her to death? Why is the honour killing of women, over perceived or actual improprietous conduct, a feature of practice among some Muslim communities? Why do these communities enforce such rigourous and strict regulation of women’s conduct? Given that many of these killings violate both the word and the spirit of the Koran and the prophet, why does the practice persist? In this brief essay, I sketch the physical and social conditions that lead to the emergence of the structures that control women’s conduct within the Muslim communities that practice honour killing. I show that the more stringent control structures are artifacts from pre-Islamic Bedouin communities. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the gender-based honour killings that are features of these structures violate Islamic principles and law. In fact, much of the structure of social control goes against the principle that the practice of Islam is a matter of internal conviction. Continue reading

Sarah Palin and the Bitch-Slap Theory of Electoral Politics

PDS

Don’t hate/blame/flame me for the sexist term in the title.  Blame Josh Marshall (the real one) for coming up with it.  Back before he was kidnapped and replaced with a Kool-aid zombie he was a pretty astute blogger.  In 2004 he discussed the Swiftboat attacks being made on John Kerry by the Bush/Cheney campaign and came up with the Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics:

It goes something like this.

On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry’s military service record and label him a liar. But that’s only part of what’s going on.

Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really — a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they’re tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

[...]

One way — perhaps the best way — to demonstrate someone’s lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves — thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can’t or won’t defend themselves certainly isn’t someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry’s unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he’s made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.

Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person’s supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who’s receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.

[...]

So hitting back hard was critical on many levels.

Did you really think that all the unhinged attacks on  Sarah Palin were just misogyny gone wild?  Think again.

Until we manage to change it we live in a sexist, patriarchal culture.  Our culture devalues “feminine” attributes and equates “female” with “weak.”  That was the purpose behind calling John Edwards the “Breck Girl” and MoDo’s “practically lactating” comment about Al Gore – to “feminize” the candidates.

One of the problems that Hillary Clinton faced was establishing her toughness.  She had to vote with the hawks on military issues and with conservatives on “law and order” issues or run the risk of being portrayed as weak.  She built up a solid record in the Senate and more than held her own in debates yet nonetheless she was attacked for allegedly crying up in New Hampshire.

But Sarah Palin came to the table with two advantages that Hillary didn’t have.  First of all Sarah is a Republican, and GOP candidates enjoy the presumption that they are tough on crime and military issues.  But she also grew up hunting, fishing and engaging in other “manly” activities.  Sarah can easily out-macho the chickenhawks and drugstore cowboys – how many men in this country have actually killed and eaten a moose?

Continue reading

Socially Unacceptable

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Remember a couple weeks back when Barack, Michelle and their media entourage flew to New York City one Saturday night for dinner and a show?  Imagine what would have happened if the following week David Letterman did a “Top Ten” list of the worst moments of their trip and said this:

Number 2 – Finding out that the restaurant didn’t serve fried chicken and watermelon

Not only would Letterman be retired right now, but so would the writers and producers of his show and the head of CBS would be offering profuse apologies to the Obamas. There would be protests, advertising boycotts, and denunciations of Letterman from the leaders of both parties. You can be sure Keith Olbermann would be ranting “How dare you sir!” and he wouldn’t be blaming the Obama’s for political opportunism. People would be outraged, and rightly so.

Not that long ago racism was socially acceptable and racial discrimination was legal.  Academics prepared scholarly treatises asserting the superiority of the white race.  Many (white) people believed that it was the “white man’s burden” to exercise control over the “lesser” races for their own benefit.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virgina is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. That was in 1942.  He is now third in line of succession to the Presidency. Former senator and Supreme Court justice Hugo Black is another prominent figure who once belonged to the Klan.

At it’s peak in the 1920’s the Klan had millions of members from all levels of society:

Indiana’s Klansmen represented a wide cross section of society: they were not disproportionately urban or rural, nor were they significantly more or less likely than other members of society to be from the working class, middle class, or professional ranks.

Once upon a time the Klan had major political influence in the South and Midwest. Nowadays the Klan is a fringe group that is viewed with disgust by the vast majority of the nation.

Continue reading

Hullaballo – A Fauxgressive Freeperville

(Do not watch the above video unless you have a strong stomach – I’m not even going to describe what’s in it.)

Last week we discussed Digby’s role in last year’s meltdown of progressive blogosphere.  Digby was one of the most well respected bloggers until last year and Hullaballoo used to be one of my favorite stops in Left Blogistan.

Not anymore.  Digby discusses Palin vs. Letterman in her post “On Nuts ‘N Sluts” and starts out pretty good:

First of all, Sarah Palin does not look or act like a “slut” and it’s nothing more than a sexual fantasy to think of her that way. She married her high school sweetheart and has five kids. She’s a born again Christian. She does not dress provocatively, and she has said that she put her hair up and wore glasses specifically to take her looks off the table as much as possible. She’s an attractive 40 something politician, she’s not a Playboy model (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and it would be nice if she didn’t have to put up with that stuff. She’s not trying to “sex herself up” for the camera or anything else. There’s enough to criticize her for.

But she soon takes a right turn onto WTF? lane:

And making Palin into a feminist hero because of this cheapens feminism. This woman is defending herself and her own daughter, but as Governor she never quite finds the voice to defend other women who have average real life problems, like workplace discrimination, rapes or unwanted pregnancies. Her complaints are not coming from feminist principle but rather political opportunism.

Yeah, we all know that Sarah Palin doesn’t care about feminism because SHE’S AN EVIL REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVE!!!!

If Sarah Palin were exactly the same person with the same opinions but she had gone to some Ivy League university and had a “D” instead of an “R” after her name she would be the darling of the progressive blogosphere despite her stance on abortion. The A-listers in Left Blogistan would fall all over themselves rationalizing her conservative moderate views because she comes from a red state.  UInfortunately for her she’s a Republican with a degree from a state college so she’s a “hillbilly from Wasilly”

But it it’s the comment thread to Digby’s post that is sickening:

With Sarah Palin in charge, by the way, if her daughter did get raped, she’d have to pay the police for the cost of a rape kit.

—————————————————————————

That Bristol was the subject of the joke was clear. Palin and her husband are either

1) Incredibly stupid or

2) Incredibly dishonest and just using this as a way to keep the camera on themselves.

I’m voting for number 2 personally. I don’t think there’s the slightest bit of honest outrage on the part of the Palins here.

—————————————————————————

Sarah Palin is using the supposed insult to her 14-year old daughter to pick a fight with a media elite, singing to her victimology-loving base. Letterman’s jokes were in poor taste; he’s admitted that.

But that this story remains aloft is entirely due to Sarah and Todd Palin, who have proven (yet again) that they will use their own children to advance the Governor’s political ambition.

Who’s the exploiter now?

—————————————————————————

Yeah, well, I’d still tap it…….

—————————————————————————

Sarah Palin does not look or act like a “slut”

Yes, she does. She talks and sparkles and winks like a cocktail waitress with a table of out-of-town convention-goers.

—————————————————————————

Digs…puh-lease. You say Ms. Palin does not dress provocatively. I demure: her skirts are always ass-hugging tight, her jackets tailored to show off the boobage, and don’t get me started on those little fuck-me pumps with the painted toenails.

Now, it is true that Sarah’s ass, tits, and toes are very Christian, but she does thend to, as Rupaul would say, “work it.”

Are we to think this is professional attire for a vice presidential aspirant? Maybe Barack should have worn low hangers to the debates to work his ass crack for votes too.

Sarah Palin is a hypocrite and a light weight media creation; Letterman was and is spot-on. I salute his bad taste; his “apology” was more entertaining than the original jokes. And anyone who thinks he was actually apologizing is not hearing the words and the tone.

—————————————————————————

And you’ll remember the Clintons didn’t parade their daughter out all the time as a model for all children, etc.

Not that I ever loved the Clintons, but c’mon people, you know they didn’t ask for it like Palin has.

—————————————————————————

Sorry, but Palin does look like a slutty airline attendant. She acts like one as well. She cakes on the make-up, and the joke was about buying make-up. She works her looks to attract GOP males. She is fair game.

Change “Sarah Palin” to “Hillary Clinton” and “slut” to “lesbian” and the crap thrown at Sarah isn’t much different from the wingnut slime of the nineties. Crap like that is why we moderate comments. Hit the delete button and let the sexist slugs and low-life misogynists go exercise their free speech rights somewhere else.


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