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Another fine product from Jane Caro

Jane Caro is a former advertising executive and now a public speaker in Australia.  Her presentations cover many topics but she’s particularly outspoken about politics, education and feminism.  Some of you might remember a former video of hers on how politicians can gain the trust of their constituents.  I think it might be this one where Caro was one of 4 panelists talking about political spin from an advertising branding point of view. Pick her up at minute marker 19:00-ish.*

This latest one is about feminism and not being “nice”.  According to Caro, and our own site statistics, we must have been doing something right in 2008 because the push back, name calling and ostracism was ferocious.  She also makes a point about women on the internet that I have been trying to emphasize for some years now.  When it comes to the blogosphere, the internet is the best friend women ever had.  It is the great equalizer.  Yeah, your potential allies can leave you off their blog rolls and the trolls can be hostile pains in the asses.  But they can’t shut you down.  Nope, you can go on saying one irritating thing after another and if you don’t like the comments you get, well, they’re just pixels on a monitor.  They can not hurt you.

Anyway, enjoy the latest from Jane Caro.

 

I found Caro’s eight rules of political branding.  Before the purists out there get all bent out of shape that using advertising is somehow “dirty” in politics, know that to get elected, you need to advertise yourself and show the voters that your services are worth purchasing for a length of time.  Politicians that do not advertise do not get elected.  It goes with the territory.  Here are the Eight Rules:

1.) Underpromise and overdeliver.
2.) Be voter centered. Convince your voters that you put them first. Take risks in defense of what you believe even if it may cost you personally.
3.) Don’t sacrifice what your core voters always liked about you to buy new voters.
4.) All voting decisions are made emotionally and then post-rationalized. There are two emotions that change behavior: Hope and Fear. If you want to change behaviors, get to know what are the voters’ hopes and fears.
5.) While voting decisions are made emotionally and are post-rationalized, you must give voters ammunition to defend their choice.
Policy is important.
6.) Raise voters’ morale and your own. We want to vote for people who look like they want the job and once they’ve got the job, look like they love the job.
7.) Lower voter anxiety about YOU.
8.) Voters want politicians to love their constituency.

Talk amongst yourselves

Bad Neoliberal Big Dawg! Bad! No biscuit for you!

I’m busy.

I haven’t been paying attention to politics for the past two days because, frankly, there’s nothing much I can do about the coming catastrophe no matter who is in office.

We’ve got to focus our attention on two years from now and this time, we need to get serious.

I’ve already floated a proposition on another blog where it was promptly shot down because people didn’t like the model on which it was based, even though that model was extremely successful.  There is such a thing as being too persnickety. If you’re going to argue about names and models right off the bat without even trying anything, then, you know, just give up and get used to generations of penury and debt to the wealthiest elite for as far as the eye can see.  I can’t take you seriously.

One thing I think we can all agree on is the 12 Word Platform that originated at Corrente.  Here it is:

1. Medicare for All

2. End the Wars

3. Tax the Rich

4. A Jobs Guarantee

I like medicare for all but for it to work, there have to be cost controls on providers and they’re not going to like it.  Gird your loins for all kinds of misinformation from Harry and Louise type ads.

End the wars, well that goes without saying.  It’s time to stop wasting money when it could be used here at home.

Tax the rich, absolutely necessary.  I love successful people but if they have more money than 120 people could spend in a lifetime, they need to be taxed.  Heavily.  The accumulation of wealth means they aren’t compensating their workers enough and that is a drag on the economy.

A jobs guarantee means that putting people back to work will take precedence over protecting the accumulated wealth of the privileged.  There are more of us and when many of us aren’t working, society in general becomes more unstable.  Is that what the rich want?  Kinda makes it hard to sell stuff if everyone is ripping everyone off and violence escalates.

This has got to be a moral movement.

Think about what kind of country you want to live in.  I envision a country where you can safely bike to work and where we all have the ability to live off the grid if we choose, where you get rewarded for the work you do and where everyone has a birthright to good schools, affordable healthcare, higher education, a justice system that treats everyone fairly regardless of wealth, an honest voting system and a comfortable retirement.

Your turn.  I’ve got stuff to do.

Komen Caves and the Tipping Point

Just announced about half an hour ago on CNN: The Komen Foundation is reversing its decision to defund Planned Parenthood :

The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, the group said in a statement Friday.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” the statement said. “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”

[...]

CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen Foundation to reverse its decision.

“The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood,” the organization said in a statement. “In responding to questions about its decision, the foundation cited as its rationale a sham ‘investigation’ into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns.” who the group called “one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress.”

When I was on Twitter yesterday, I saw a many, many tweets from women who were fed up with the efforts of the religious right to force their ideology on them.  We may have reached the tipping point.

If I were a Democratic politician, I would use this weekend to reassess my position on caving to the right on just about everything.  The religious right is on its way out and so may be any politician that panders to them.

More on the reversal by Jennifer Preston at TheLede at the NYTimes. Here’s another data point on the Tipping Point hypothesis:

It was the perception that the Komen foundation was inserting politics into providing health care services, especially to underserved women, that helped prompt a firestorm of debate online and offline.

At Planned Parenthood, Heather Holdridge, who is the director of digital advocacy strategy, said there have been multiple online organizing efforts in the past on the organization’s behalf, but this one was different, in part, because people organized themselves online.

“I think this was a tipping point for us,” Ms. Holdridge said. “I think something has happened, where people are upset that two great organizations that have this shared mission were now in this difficult position. And so, we have been seeing that response through our supporters, some of whom, were not our supporters before Tuesday afternoon.”

The Komen foundation said that it would be making calls to its key supporters and affiliates starting this afternoon to figure out how to “get back to doing our work. “We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.”

Women are tired of this crap.  It’s been 40 years of fighting off these raging religious lunatics who stubbornly refuse to evolve past 1300 BC.  It’s not a coincidence that the number of atheist, freethinker and skeptic groups and online voices have sprung up in the past couple of years.  Since Obama took office, the right has had a free for all because the Democrats absolutely refused to push back for fear of losing the votes of the religious.  It’s been the Conscience Rule, followed by the Stupak debacle in the health care bill, the Mississippi Personhood amendment, Kathleen Sebelius overruling the FDA advisory board on Plan B and the red beanie boys from Vatican Inc.  There’s been very little standing between the rabidly anti-choice inmates who have taken over the asylum and women.  Democrats don’t want to get involved unless they can turn it into some kind of campaign trick.

And reproductive rights are just the tip of the iceberg.  The economy is still lousy and is staying lousy for women who don’t get hired back at the same rates as men.  We still have to put up with discrimination at work because it’s subtle and if a guy’s not groping you, there’s no accountability.  It’s only gotten worse since Obama and his macho guys stomped all over Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in 2008.  But it didn’t stop there.  They took that assholery and unaccountable behavior into the White House where their dismissive behavior and the refusal of some of the bigwigs to work with women like Sheila Bair, Christina Romer and Elizabeth Warren has lead to the continuation of a lagging economy at the mercy of unpunished bankers.

It’s hard to believe that the majority segment of the population of this country is as besieged as it is.  It’s just one damn thing after another.  Komen was the last straw.

We need a zillion woman march on Washington.  This shit’s got to stop.

Back to the Pipe and the Pole

Here is a letter I received a few days ago from the President of my University.

Last summer, I formed an advisory task force to assist the University in developing a plan to prepare for probable reductions in state funding for higher education and to assist the University in developing a new instructional resource model. The task force consists of faculty, academic deans, administrators, and staff.

On December 18, 2010, the task force held an open forum. At that forum, Provost Mearns, who is co-chair of the task force, discussed the status of the task force’s efforts to assist in developing a contingency plan for next year’s budget. I attended the forum.

Since then, the task force has continued to provide me with additional recommendations. Those recommendations are detailed in a written report that is now available on the task force’s webpage.

This report recommends overall budget target ranges for each of the University’s major sectors: academic colleges, academic support units, and university administrative units. I have accepted these sector recommendations. In December, I provided differentiated budget targets to each of the vice presidents who manage university administrative units, and I directed them to prepare a contingency plan to meet their unit’s respective target. They have submitted their plans to me, which I am currently reviewing.

The task force’s report also provided specific recommendations about differentiated targets for each of the academic colleges. After developing a list of strategic factors and applying those factors to readily available data, the task force assigned each academic college to one of three groups, or bands. As discussed in the report, a college or an administrative unit can meet its proposed budget target through both permanent expense reductions and reliable revenue enhancements.

After reviewing an initial draft of the report, I met at length with Provost Mearns, Vice President George Walker and Tim Long, the University’s Budget Director, to review the strategic factors and the data relied upon by the task force to develop its differentiated recommendations for each of the academic colleges. In making my decisions, I relied upon the same strategic factors developed by the task force, including: how a college’s programs aligned with the University’s primary strategic goals; a college’s financial performance relative to the other colleges at the University; the extent to which a college has programs, including doctoral programs, with relatively few students; an assessment of the productivity and impact of the college’s research faculty; the success of a college’s students as measured by undergraduate retention and graduation rates and post-graduate licensing exams; and the ability of a college to develop differential tuition plans or increase enrollment above existing limits.

After this review, I accepted all of the task force’s recommendations with respect to the colleges’ budget targets, with one exception. I have delegated to Provost Mearns the responsibility of establishing differentiated targets for the various academic support units that report to him.

Provost Mearns has communicated the college targets to the deans, and he has asked them to provide him with their college’s plan by February 22, 2011. He has also directed the deans to consult with their respective faculties and staff in developing their college’s plan.

By early March, I anticipate that our collective strategy for meeting this financial challenge will begin to become more clear. Governor Kasich will present his proposed budget to the legislature on or before March 15. I anticipate that, when his budget is released, we will know much more about two of the most important factors that are driving this process: the approximate amount of any reduction in the state subsidy for higher education, and the limit on any possible increase in undergraduate tuition. By that time, we will also have had an opportunity to evaluate the various college and administrative plans that have been submitted.

When we have more information from the Governor, I will hold an open forum in March to discuss our University plan.

I know that this process is difficult and that it is causing some anxiety and uncertainty. I believe, however, that we have established a collaborative and transparent process that will enable the University to overcome this challenge. Indeed, I am encouraged by the constructive contributions that so many of you have already made to our contingency planning process. Therefore, I am confident that we will emerge from this process as a stronger institution — which is our goal.

Thank you for your service to our students, our University, and our community.

Indeed. To those of you who still believe in the American Dream, let me explain how it really works for you. Say Jane wants to grow up and become a Doctor. But Jane and her family live piss poor, so she works hard in High School, gets good grades in accelerated courses and takes part in track and cheerleading or some such other extracurricular nonsense that will look good on college applications. She gets accepted into a good school and manages to keep from getting pregnant. What a stand up gal Jane is, don’t you think? She gets some scholarships. Good for her! She gets Pell Grants and subsidized and unsubsidized loans through FAFSA. That’s our girl.

Before you know it she is accepted into Harvard Medical School and graduates with honors. Bravo! The problem is, now Jane has upwards of $200,000 worth of student loans to pay back. She gets married and begins practice as a pediatrician, her lifelong dream. But it will be a while before she begins to really rake in the dough and there are medical malpractice lawsuits on the horizon. Nonetheless, she and her husband, a college professor, are living well, having babies and attending church on Sundays. Everything seems fine until disaster strikes. Her mother is still piss poor and has just suffered from a stroke. A neighbor finds her laying face down in her apartment surrounded by urine and her own feces. Jane’s mother is admitted to the hospital and is soon discharged. Incontinent, paralyzed from the waist down and unable to take care of herself, Jane’s mother is just above the income threshold for medicaid and there are limited funds. She has no Health Insurance and therefore cannot afford to live in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility, so Jane has to quit her job to take care of her mother, as her husband is unwilling to quit his. The financial problems caused by the fact that Jane can no longer supplement the family income as well as the demands of taking care of a sick elderly woman takes a toll on their marriage, and Jane’s husband starts banging his secretary. They get a divorce and the children are heartbroken. Jane is now a single mother with no job. She still has student loans and legal fees to pay back, no home because she can’t afford a mortgage, and three kids to put through college. Her oldest daughter Sarah is devastated by the break up of her family and commits suicide. Three months later, Jane’s mother dies due to inadequate medical care. Jane’s American Dream has turned into an American Nightmare.

Sounds extreme, right? Wrong. Things like this are happening everywhere. I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to pay for college, and I will explain why. Most people have an idea of the average college student’s financial situation. A freshman will have mom and dad foot most of the bill and private loans will take care of the rest, right?

Wrong.

Take me for example. I graduated from that Shithole High School a semester early with decent grades and community service. Go me, right? I figured I might as well try to go to college, so I briefly (and by briefly, I mean for about two seconds) thought about going into the military and even told the Hell Hole High School that those were my plans so they would let me graduate early. I took the ASVAB tests and got excellent scores, fielding calls from every military branch recruiter known to man telling me to join so I could become an officer. Of course, I am not going to go into the Military. I am a pacifist. So I changed my phone number to get rid of the recruiters and enrolled at the local junior college, with plans to save money on Gen Eds in mind. Problem was, my Dad makes too much money for me to get FAFSA and we are somewhat estranged. I had to work my tail off and go to School part time so I could get taken off of his tax returns, as a student has to be enrolled in school full time to be on their parents tax returns after they’re eighteen and to still be on their parents health insurance plan.

In any case, I no longer have Health Insurance but now that I’m off his taxes I go to School overtime, supplemented by a hefty financial aid award. But get this!

President Obama and his aides have spent a good bit of time over the last several weeks talking about the importance of education. Now they announce that they plan to cut spending on Pell grants, the big student-aid program that helps students in (roughly) the bottom half of the income distribution. As Jackie Calmes explains:

Pell grants for needy college students would be eliminated for summer classes, and graduate students would start accruing interest immediately on federal loans, though they would not have to pay until after they graduate; both changes are intended to help save $100 billion over 10 years to offset the costs of maintaining Pell grants for nine million students, according to administration officials.

Oh, fantastic! Keep in mind that my situation is not unique. Many students are like me, with families either too poor or too unwilling to help pay for school. I have a friend, for example, who had to run away from home when she was in Hell High School because her Step Father was beating her mother. She supported herself with two jobs and help from family and friends until she graduated, and now she has classes with me. I don’t know how she does it, because she is forced by FAFSA to file as a dependent even though she receives no help from her family and supports herself completely. She is awarded funds based on the assumption that her parents help her when in reality she has to pay for full time school as well as everything else.

And why is it that school is so expensive? Gods only know. The cost of living has increased exponentially since my parents were in college. It is easy for some stuck-in-the past 1950’s holdover to lecture one of us stupid delinquent teenagers about how THEY did it when they were our age so why can’t we? Well, I feel like saying to these idiots, you’re the ignorant fools who elected conservative Presidents and congresses for the past several decades and caused the inflation and budget cuts that led to all of these problems. Get over yourself.

Not only that, but tuition is obscenely expensive since now colleges are run more like businesses instead of academic institutions that shape young minds and prepare the leaders of tomorrow. I have to pay thousands of dollars for Professors to teach me the same bull shit I’ve been learning since the sixth grade (which is not to say I don’t learn a lot in College these days from certain professors, but I digress) and then once I and many students have paid several more thousands to complete an undergraduate degree two thirds of us STILL won’t be able to get a job. And people wonder why our education system is so behind.

Well, one might say, you may not be achieving all of your fancy starry eyed dreams but at least you are bettering yourself for the real world. Maybe you’ll be a hospital administrator instead of a chemical engineer but at least you have the right to a comfortable lifestyle and a reasonable retirement, right? Wrong.

So far, Obama has had the following “bright ideas” and has proposed them to Congress:

(1) Obama proposed (and Congress passed) a $112 Billion REDUCTION in revenues coming into the Social Security trust fund for this year; that is a cut of 30% in workers’ contributions to the Fund. I think we can be pretty sure this $112 Billion annual cut in Social Security taxes will be made permanent with the full agreement of Obama. It won’t take long, at that rate, for Social Security to drain its fund (and current surplus) and go out of business.

(2) Obama has proposed a 50% REDUCTION in federal aid to the program that helps poor people pay heating bills for their homes

(3) Obama is proposing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go out of business, which will make it harder — if not impossible — for lower-income and middle-income people to buy their homes instead of paying endless rents

(4) Obama is proposing that the interest homeowners pay for their mortgages NO longer be fully deductible on their income taxes. In the early years of any mortgage, the bulk of the monthly mortgage payment goes to pay the interest on the mortgage; having that great sum be deductible has made it possible for people to buy homes and not default on their mortgages when finances are tight (as they often are when new homeowners are just starting out).

The result of Obama’s “bright” ideas, numbers (3) and (4), will be to make it harder for current homeowners to SELL their homes, will DEFLATE the value of their homes, will cause more people to default on their mortgages, and will create a situation where communities will take in LESS in the way of property taxes because of the number of vacant, abandoned homes that will become liabilities.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -
And Obama is doing all of this cutting less than two months after signing into law tax CUTS for the wealthiest Americans.

The Republicans have the EXACT right Democrat in the White House for their evil purposes. Obama is: (1) helping the Republicans realize their decades-long goal of destroying the Social Security program, (2) proposing policies that will create an even wider division between the “haves” and “have-nots” in America, and (3)proposing policies that will create a sub-class of Americans that the top one percent of Americans will be able to reduce to economic slavery.

That’s right. So long house in the ‘burbs. Bye bye white picket fence, 2.4 children and Labrador Retriever. S’later retirement fund, pensions, IRA. Hi poverty, what it do destitution? We’re the leaders of tomorrow. Nice to meetcha!

It just won’t do. Obama is a Republican Dream, not an American Dream. Why, just look at the cover of one of his famous “books.”

The Audacity of Nope

To Obama, this is the American Dream. Jane’s life would be everyone’s life with the policies he is currently championing. Can you believe this is happening? Well, I can. I’ve been saying who Obama is from the get-go. All it took was reading his idea of the American Dream in the pages of this book, where he talked about cutting Social Security and used Reagan as an example of a President to emulate. He’s stuck to his word, too. And has managed to unite this divided nation of ours- against him. On the 100the anniversary of Reagan’s whatever it was I was subjected to fawning book covers and pages about Obama’s hero for days. And now he is cutting Social Security with his bipartisan Republican pals, just like he promised.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t jive with the Obama the fauxgressives were selling us. This whole thing just isn’t going to work for me. I’m sure it won’t work for a lot of you, either, so run for office instead of electing more morons who will continue to pull this crap on us and expect to get reelected. My plan is to go to Law School and try to change these problems from within instead of sitting here and bitching about it.

But Isis, I can hear some people saying. Law School is expensive. You depend on those Pell Grants Obama and the Tea Party losers are cutting left and right and spending on unnecessary wars, a shitty Health Care Law and Michelle’s vacations in Spain to pay for your tuition, books and other fees. Won’t you be just like Jane, busting your hump for a dismal future? What are you going to do?

Well, shit. Whatever FAFSA doesn’t cover anymore I’ll supplement with scholarships. I just got a job that will pay for my Master’s Degree in Social Work so long as I get a good GPA. And certain agencies and non profits in my field of study will pay back all of my tuition if I end up working for them. As for the rest, it’s back to the pole and the pipe. And don’t think I’ll be the only one.

“The Republicans are the ones who liberated Europe in World War II.”

Kristia Cavere with Ed Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation

I never knew that! Isn’t it fascinating to learn new historical facts? I’ll bet Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was President of the United States during WWII, would be awfully surprised too, if he were still alive.

My dad served in WWII, and he wasn’t a Republican, but he was in the Pacific. I guess all the Republicans were busy liberating Europe.

Kristia Cavere, 31, a resident of Tuxedo, New York, is a new rising star in the Know Nothing Republican Party. She’s a candidate for the House in the 19th Congressional District of New York. The seat is currently held by Democrat John Hall.

According to her website, Gold Star Sister, dedicated to her brother, who died in Iraq in 2007, Ms Cavere:

graduated from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland in the spring of 2002 with a B.S. degree in biology and a minor in chemistry, and with the honor of being senior class president.

After college, Kristia worked as a Senior Financial Analyst for the largest healthcare corporation in Maryland for five years until September 2007, when she began graduate school full-time….

In May 2009, Kristia received a Masters in Science degree in “Defense and Strategic Studies” from Missouri State University, which is located in Fairfax, Virginia right outside our nation’s Capitol. She graduated summa cum laude and with a 4.0 grade point average. This is the oldest and most prestigious masters program of its kind in the country and focuses on the three areas used to defend ourselves as a nation: the military, economics, and diplomacy.

So now we know what they are teaching in “Defense and Strategic Studies” programs. I wonder what other amazing facts she learned while earning her summa cum laude degree?

Samples of Ms Cavere’s writings can be found on various right-wing websites like Smart Girl Nation, and Renew America. In January she wrote about the “war on boyhood” at Renew America. She was stunned to learn that in a drawing competition held by the “Holy Childhood Association,” all of the prizewinners were girls!

I contacted the HCA, and they confirmed what I suspected: out of over ten thousand applicants, every one of the twenty-four winners is a girl.

If the situation was reversed, and not one girl was among the two dozen winners, the feminists would shriek about bias toward women. It has been documented that, on average, boys use bolder colors as opposed to the softer pastels used by girls. In addition, the majority of boys have motion in their drawings, opposite to the quieter subject matter in the art of most little girls.

But she doesn’t think the problem is gender discrimination per se. The real problem is that “the feminists” have made boys lose interest in academic achievement by making school really wimpy and uncompetitive.

Men are motivated by competition, and the present education system of coddling and unbridled compassion has dimmed the innate male proclivity to compete. When males feel that fair competition doesn’t exist, they will not make an effort.

“Boys have become the second sex,” according to Ms. Cavere. I did not know that either. I’ve learned two new facts today!

According to another article, candidate Cavere has a really big campaign war chest–maybe as much as $400,000! Except she forgot to file her report with the FEC, so some people have had the nerve to question whether she really has raised that much money. The writer of the article says her campaign has previously made false claims:

It touts her experience working in the defense secretary’s office at the Pentagon — making special note of her “secret security clearance” — without explaining that her position there was an unpaid internship during her final semester of graduate school.

What she does for a living is unclear.

At Comedy Central, blogger Dennis DiClaudio responded to Cavere’s claims about Republicans saving Europe in WWII:

It’s true; I looked it up. During the storming of Normandy, it was the Republican soldiers who bravely fought their way up from the beach and into the French countryside.

The Democratic soldiers pretty much all refused to use their guns because they were opposed to the Second Amendment. So, they mostly died, or else faded into the Parisian underground and became homosexual poets.

Well that explains it then. You can follow Kristia Cavere on Twitter and Facebook.

Consider this an open thread.

Let’s Hear it for Civil Disobedience!

Last night President Obama spoke at a fundraiser in LA for Senator Barbara Boxer. In what I see as a very refreshing turn of events, LGBT activists repeatedly heckled a clearly irritated Obama with calls for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Obama tried to calm the hecklers by claiming that both he and Boxer are on their side. Really? So what’s the holdup then? Here’s the video of the speech.

The action starts around 2:00 and then the crowd allows Obama to speak for a bit, then the heckling starts again. This time, the President asks the chanters “Do you wanna come up here?” It’s about time Obama started facing some tough audiences!

At the Atlantic, Chris Good reports: “Gay Rights Advocates Support the Heckling”

Two of California’s top gay-rights leaders said the heckling was by no means out of line.

“I think getting heckled is nothing compared to getting kicked out of the military and losing your job and getting fired simply because you’re gay, because there’s no federal protection, or getting denied Social Security benefits because the administration has made no effort to repeal DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] and has actually defended it in court,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. Kors said he didn’t know the protest was going to take place.

“I think people are getting very, very frustrated that we have a president who promised to be a fierce advocate and the most pro-LGBT Senate and Congress int he history of the country, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hasn’t been repealed and DOMA is still the law of the land,” Kors said.

Today, several Get Equal activists were arrested for chaining themselves to the White House Fence.

Six people in military uniforms, including Lt. Dan Choi, handcuffed themselves to the North Lawn fence of the White House today to protest the fact that the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has not been repealed.

U.S. Park Police cleared the area and used chain cutters to place the demonstrators under arrest, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports.

Choi, at left, is an openly gay Iraq war veteran and West Point graduate who has emerged as one of the most prominent critics of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Choi, who announced he is gay on television last march, was also arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence last month.

If you’d like to join Get Equal in their fight to repeal DADT, here is their website.

I’m sorry these folks were taken in by Obama’s act, but I’m very impressed with the actions they are taking now. It’s time for all of us to speak out and express our anger in civil, but attention-getting ways.

You can treat this as an open thread.

Saturday Morning Musings on Corporate Control and Internet Freedom

Good Morning Conflucians!!

It’s so nice to wake up to sun pouring in my windows after the horrible rains of the past couple of weeks. I guess I should consider myself fortunate that all I had to deal with was some water in the basement. And since my ex-husband liked to buy every kind of tool and gadget, I happened to have a sump pump and a shop vac down there.

Yesterday it was 70 degrees here in the northwestern Boston area, and it looks like the nice, warm weather is going to stick around for the next week.

Ah…Spring! The forsythia is coming out and lots of green stuff is appearing in the yard. Soon the cherry trees will be blooming all over the place. Somehow it’s a little easier to be optimistic at this time of year than in the dead of winter.

In my Saturday morning ramble around the blogosphere, I came across an interesting piece by Cory Doctorow: Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) I found it thought-provoking, not because I was agonizing about whether to buy an iPad–I’m not even slightly interested in it–but because the arguments Doctorow makes are relevant to innovation in every area of life, including politics. Doctorow’s main point is that “incumbents make bad revolutionaries.”

I’ve spent ten years now on Boing Boing, finding cool things that people have done and made and writing about them. Most of the really exciting stuff hasn’t come from big corporations with enormous budgets, it’s come from experimentalist amateurs. These people were able to make stuff and put it in the public’s eye and even sell it without having to submit to the whims of a single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology.

Doctorow argues that once any entrepreneur, no matter how visionary and innovative, gets enough power and control over a market, that entrepreneur/corporation/politician/journalist will try to corner the market and become a “gatekeeper” for what the rest of us are allowed to do, see, read, and buy.

We become nothing to them but anonymous “consumers” who will fork over our money and time and take whatever the controllers want to dole out to us. He says these gatekeepers have contempt for us as consumers–they want to “infantilize” us, keep us dependent on them, and prevent us from sharing the products we buy with others and modifying those products in ways that work for us as individuals.

Doctorow uses the example of a new iPad app offered by Marvel Comics. Not being a “comics person,” I don’t quite understand what it is, but here is Doctorow’s explanation:

I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

So what does Marvel do to “enhance” its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites.

Isn’t this what is happening in every area of our lives these days? The internet has changed how we get our information and form our opinions; and the mainstream media, politicians, corporations, and the entertainment industry don’t like that one bit. They are going to fight to death to maintain control over the populace–making every effort to keep us passive and willing to settle for less than what we really need and want. As Doctorow says,

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff. The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of “content” isn’t just that they can get it for free, though: it’s that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too. The open platform has allowed for an explosion of new material, some of it rough-hewn, some of it slick as the pros, most of it targetted more narrowly than the old media ever managed. Rupert Murdoch can rattle his saber all he likes about taking his content out of Google, but I say do it, Rupert. We’ll miss your fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the Web so little that we’ll hardly notice it, and we’ll have no trouble finding material to fill the void.

Politicians are in the same boat as corporations–no wonder they have joined forces with big business in their joint efforts to control us and keep us consuming all the crap they want us to buy from them! The health care reform debacle is certainly a case in point. Most Americans want a single payer health plan–just expand Medicare to everyone and be done with it. Medicare already covers 40% of Americans, why not all of us? Medicare has very low overhead, so why should we have to buy insurance from corporations with 30% overhead?

It makes no sense, but the politicians tell us not to believe the obvious evidence that Medicare for all would be the best plan for the American people. They are going to do their best to try to convince us that we want to be forced to buy crap insurance from whomever they tell us to buy it from and that it was a fair trade-off for women to lose their reproductive freedom so that approximately 25 million more people can have crap health insurance that probably won’t provide the health care they actually need.

In 2008, the Democratic Party, along with the giant corporations who control the mainstream media, decided to force voters to sit back and just be consumers of whatever crap they decided to force down our throats. They selected a candidate for us instead of listening to what we wanted in a President. They weren’t interested in listening to us, and the President they chose for us isn’t interested in listening to what we think either.

Clearly Barack Obama and his corporate backers saw the danger of a vital, rough-and-tumble liberal blogosphere, and they realized they would have to deal with the big liberal blogs in order to win the Democratic nomination.

David Axelrod had a long history of running astroturf campaigns, and he knew just what to do. First, he needed to get young people involved. They would be attracted to a candidate who offered hope of “transformative change.” He introduced him to the product, Barack Obama, as a “transformative leader” and “inspirational speaker,” a “messiah” would would save the country from the Bush/Cheney gang.

Younger people wouldn’t know the difference. They wouldn’t really remember John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or even Bill Clinton, all of whom were better speakers and who implemented much more transformative policies than Barack Obama was offering–even the campaign before he reverse himself on nearly every issue.

Axelrod organized Obama camps where these enthusiastic young liberals could be trained to be “ruthless for Obama,” doing whatever was necessary to sell the new product on the internet and in person.

Then he sent these young people out to infiltrate the prog blogs, especially the biggest ones–Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. What the Obama crowd didn’t bank on was people like us who were a little older and/or wiser and just weren’t all that impressed with the packaging of the product. We wanted blueprints, details and specifics. We wanted to know what the guy really thought and believed. We looked past the packaging, and we decided not to buy the product.

Since, as Marcos Moulitsas likes to say, “it’s a big internet,” we headed out into the wilderness and started our own liberal blogs. No wonder they tried so hard to kill us off during the primaries. We weren’t interested in just being consumers of a product. We wanted to have a say in our own futures. We saw the government and the Democratic party as our employees, not our masters. We wanted freedom of choice.

Now that the banks, corporations and media have won the battle, now that they have their chosen front man and they have turned the “progressive blogs” into “access bloggers,” they are still doing everything possible to limit our choices so they can stay in control of the political system and keep us from gaining any real power over our lives. They are going to fight to the death to limit our control over our own internet experience, our choices of what media to consume.

We must be eternally vigilant in preventing the government and corporations from completely neutering the internet. Interacting with each other–with more and more people around the country and the world, freely exchanging ideas and information, is our best hope for saving what is left of democracy in America. They may have won this battle, but they have not yet won the war.

I’d love to get your take on this, but as always, please post links to what you are reading in the comments. Here are a few other stories that caught my eye this morning to get you started. Have a great Saturday everyone!!

Apple’s iPad hits store shelves


The Militia Man Next Door


Urologist Posts His Politics on His Florida Office Door


Terrifying Sea Critter Hauled from the Ocean’s Depths

Finally! Scientific proof that greasy breakfasts are good for us!

Things that make you go “hmmm…”

Moving in different directions?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Ottawa this week for the G8 Summit, and she had something to say about abortion rights (in Canada).

“I’m not going to speak for what Canada decides, but I will say that I’ve worked in this area for many years,” Clinton told reporters. “And if we’re talking about maternal health, you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”

More from Clinton on abortion rights in Canada:

“We should be beyond arguing about family planning. Rich women in every culture have access to family planning. It’s poor women who don’t. And I’ve always believed if it’s good enough for a woman of education and affluence, then why isn’t it good enough for a woman who is struggling to raise the children she already has? So family planning, to me, should be just obvious and available.”

Hmmm…

Now isn’t that interesting? Of course it must be just a coincidence that President Obama recently issued an executive order that will effectively make insurance coverage for reproductive health care unavailable for most U.S. women.

Conservative Canadians are quite put out that Secretary Clinton saw fit to lecture them on abortion rights, especially considering Obama’s recent actions. For example, Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail writes:

On the issue of maternal mortality and the need for access to abortion, Ms. Clinton’s views should have come as no surprise. In case anyone wasn’t aware, they got the news brusquely at a news conference.

Martin wonders why Clinton’s criticisms of Prime Minister Harper’s views on abortion couldn’t have been delivered privately. Is it possible her message was intended for someone other than Harper?

What do you think?

Friday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians! We had a brief two-day break in the gloomy weather, but the dank, foggy stuff is back and today we’re getting a mixture of snow and rain. I still have a cold and the worst sore throat I can remember having since I was a kid. But all that pales in comparison when I reflect upon what Barack Obama has managed to accomplish during such a short time in the White House.

More than 40 years ago, when I moved to Boston, the Catholic Church controlled the government of Massachusetts. Now, thanks to our “progressive” President, the Catholic Church controls our federal government! That Koolaid is some amazing stuff! In just a little more than a year, Obama and his Democratic Congress have managed to wipe out 40 years of advances in women’s rights! Now they are setting their sights on destroying Social Security–and accomplishing that will create new jobs too! We’ll need a lot of government workers to pick up and dispose of the bodies of elderly and disabled people who have starved and died on the street or in their homes.

What’s next? How about getting rid of DADT and restoring the old policy of no tolerance whatsoever for gays in the military? Let’s create more low-paying jobs by building debtor’s prisons, poorhouses, and orphanages where the unfortunate poor can be warehoused so the wealthy don’t have to look at them. The possibilities are endless! Ain’t it great living in a third world country?

I’ve decided to focus this post on Catholic Church news–because there is just so much of it. The Catholic Church that controls our government is embroiled in an slowly unfolding scandal that looks to be literally global. The abuse of children by Catholic priests is coming to light all over the world. Why are these people allowed to tell American women what we can do with our bodies?

NYT: Pope May Be at Crossroads on Abuse, Forced to Reconcile Policy and Words

“He is at a crossroads,” said Marco Politi, a veteran Italian Vatican journalist. “What’s extraordinary is that the scandal has reached the heart of the center of the church. Up to now it was far away — in the States, in Canada, in Brazil, in Australia. Then it came to Europe, to Ireland.

“Then it came to his motherland,” Mr. Politi added of Benedict’s native Germany. “Then it came to his diocese, and now it’s coming to the heart of the government of the church — and he has to give an answer.”


In Ireland

Irish Bishop John Magee has resigned.

Boston Herald: Irish bishop steps down amid pedophile scandal

DUBLIN – Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop yesterday for his failure to report child-molesting priests to police, amid ever-unfolding accusations that church leaders have protected child abusers for decades.

Bishop John Magee – a former papal secretary – apologized to victims of pedophile priests who were kept in parish posts during his 23 years overseeing the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne.

“To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon,” the 73-year-old Magee said.

And another Irish Bishop, Sean Brady, may have to resign next.

Yet another Irish bishop admits child abuse failure as Vatican may force Cardinal Brady to resign

Speculation is mounting that Pope Benedict may seek the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland as another Irish bishop admits he failed to handle a sex abuse case properly.

This comes amid fresh scandal in Ireland, with the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Dr William Lee, admitting he managed a sex abuse allegation case in the 1990s in a “seriously inadequate” fashion.

Lee waited two years before divulging the information he had about the priest to the relevant authorities.

Activist Irish pop singer Sinead O’Connor speaks out.

Sinead O’Connor: ‘There should be a full criminal investigation of the pope’

She shot to fame 20 years ago with her shaved head, chiseled cheeks and haunting rendition of the song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Then she gained notoriety when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on American TV, calling him “the enemy” and urging people to fight child abuse.

Sinead O’Connor is still singing. And she’s still speaking out against abuse — only now her 1992 stunt on “Saturday Night Live” almost seems prescient as the Roman Catholic Church faces a growing catalog of complaints about child sexual and physical assault by priests in her Irish homeland and across Europe


In the US

NYT: Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

Boston Herald: Vatican halted trial for Wisconsin priest accused of molesting 200 deaf boys

On Thursday, a group of clerical abuse victims provided the documentation to reporters outside the Vatican, where they staged a press conference to denounce Benedict’s handling of the case. During the conference, a policeman asked for identification and they were subsequently detained, police said.

“The goal of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was to keep this secret,” said Peter Isely, Milwaukee-based director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

“This is the most incontrovertible case of pedophilia you could get,” Isely said, flanked by photos of other clerical abuse victims and a poster of Ratzinger. “We need to know why he (the pope) did not let us know about him (Murphy) and why he didn’t let the police know about him and why he did not condemn him and why he did not take his collar away from him.”

CBS News: Rome Detains U.S. Church Abuse Protesters

Four American victims of clergy sexual abuse say they were detained and questioned by Italian police in Rome after showing photos of the pope during a news conference outside St. Peter’s Square.

Barbara Blaine, one of the victims, said Thursday after emerging from a police station near the Vatican that officers told them a judge will decide if they will be charged. She says they were detained because they didn’t have a permit for the outdoor news conference.

Time: After U.S. Abuse Revelation, the Vatican Fires Back

As the Times posted its story on the accused priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998, the Holy See responded on the Web. In a statement linked on the Vatican’s brand new Twitter account, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Papal spokesman, declared, “By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Father Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him.” But Lombardi defended the decision not to remove Murphy from the “clerical state,” saying the priest was “elderly and in very poor health” and that he was “living in seclusion, and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years.”

Grand Forks Herald: Priest in Irish church abuse scandal had ties to North Dakota parishes

A key figure and the most notorious abuser in the Irish clergy sex scandal served as a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Fargo from 1979-83, where he was accused of sexually assaulting altar boys in St. Alphonsus parish in Langdon, N.D., and also served briefly in Park River and Ellendale, as well as other parishes.

The Rev. John Smythe, as he was known in North Dakota, was the Brendan Smyth who sexually assaulted boys over 30 years in Ireland and the United States and whose abuse and the cover-ups surrounding it was credited with bringing down the Irish government in late 1994.

Smyth died several years ago in prison.

In Germany

NYT: Pope Was Told Pedophile Priest Would Get Transfer

MUNICH — The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

Guardian UK: Pope implicated in allegations over sex abuse by second Catholic priest

Fresh revelations have been made directly implicating Pope Benedict XVI in mishandling the case of a paedophile priest in his former archdiocese of Munich. The allegations come a day after the Vatican responded angrily to the allegation that the former Cardinal Ratzinger had ignored an American diocese’s request that another predatory priest should be defrocked.

According to the New York Times, the former cardinal, as Archbishop of Munich, attended a meeting in January 1980 at which the transfer of Father Peter Hullermann from the diocese of Essen, where his parishioners had accused him of abusing boys, to Munich was agreed.

The move was meant to allow him to undergo therapy, but instead he was immediately posted to a parish in Bavaria, where he continued to abuse children.

And In Many More Countries

Swiss Catholic Church investigates 60 claims of sex abuse

The Catholic Church in Switzerland is investigating sixty claims of sexual abuse by priests, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Abbot Martin Werlen of the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln told the newspaper Mittelland-Zeitung that the church is looking into the claims. The church itself will not press charges, Werlen emphasized, and intends to advise victims to do so themselves.

Swiss Catholic Church investigating 10 abuse cases

Vatican investigating 14 sex abuse cases in Spain

Abuse cases surface in Austrian Catholic Church

More on priest abuse in Austria

Dutch Catholic Church faces child sex abuse scandal

Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal goes global

Where will it all end? Many people think the pope should resign.

Should Pope Benedict Resign the Papacy?

Pope Benedict Should Do The Right Thing And Resign So Healing Can Begin

I am ashamed – the pope should resign

Good idea, but that won’t end the corruption, IMHO. It is systemic. I would much prefer criminal prosecution. Every state in the US should have required reporting of child abuse for anyone of authority within a church or religious school, with failure to report designated a felony. Furthermore, President Obama should be mandated to stop allowing the Catholic Church to control women’s bodies.

So what are you reading this morning? All rants about anything will be accepted in the comments. Have a fabulous Friday!

Eric Massa Fights Back

Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY)

Suddenly the Eric Massa story is everywhere. I don’t know what finally set him off. He seemed pretty resigned about the whole thing just a couple of days ago. From Hotline this AM:

Embattled Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) lashed out in an emotional radio appearance Sunday, accusing Dem leaders of what he suggested was an orchestrated campaign to force his resignation.

“There’s a reason that this has all happened, frankly one that I had not realized,” Massa said on WKPQ radio on Sunday. “Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill, and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they’ve gotten rid of me and it’ll pass.”

Massa admits he made an “inappropriate” remark to a male staffer at a New Year’s party, which led to a House ethics investigation, but he claims he was set up by Democratic leaders because of his votes against the health care bill and other administration initiatives. Massa had harsh words for White House enforcer Rahm Emanuel:

“When I voted against the cap and trade bill, the phone rang and it was the chief of staff to the president of the United States of America, Rahm Emanuel, and he started swearing at me in terms and words that I hadn’t heard since that crossing the line ceremony on the USS New Jersey in 1983,” Massa said. “And I gave it right back to him, in terms and words that I know are physically impossible.”

As for Steny Hoyer’s claim that he talked to Massa about the ethics inquiry,

“Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, never, not once,” Massa said. “Never before in the history of the House of Representatives has a sitting leader of the Democratic Party discussed allegations of House investigations publicly, before findings of fact. Ever.”

“I was set up for this from the very, very beginning,” he added. “The leadership of the Democratic Party have become exactly what they said they were running against.”

The New York Daily News has even more:

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” he said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”

Massa alleges that Emanuel ripped into him a number of times over votes, including in the House shower.

“I am showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me,” said Massa.

Here is some audio from the radio interview:

The latest thing I heard is that Massa is going to go on Glen Beck’s show tomorrow–that’s what Dave Wiegel says anyway.

Rep. Eric Massa’s (D-N.Y.) scorching attack on Democrats — while a lot of attention is going to a silly story about Rahm Emanuel, he accuses his party of trying to “shove the [health care] bill down our throats” — will be amplified tomorrow with a full-hour interview on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show.

That may be pushing things a little too far. I’ll update if I get more info. Please add your own links in the comments.

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