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Saturday Headlines, and a Feminist Rant on the Whore word

Good morning, all. Some headlines for you leftover from Friday and coming out this morning on Saturday, then if you make it that far, a Wonk rant and a couple of other tidbits to close out.

I’ll start with a few links on the midterms horserace that caught my eye first and try to touch on a few other stories after that if I can.

Lest Democratic sympathizers disturb their beautiful minds over “stolen elections,” the D.S.C.C. reports a record-breaking month in fundraising (via Michael Shear at the NYT Caucus blog).

According to the latest polling from Reuters/Ipsos, California Democrats cling to leads.” Boxer’s lead over Fiorina is down to one point, and Brown’s lead over Whitman is down from 7 to 4. The Ipsos pollster says, “California is trending Democratic although the races are close.” We shall find out soon enough if that trend holds until election day. It’s not my state, but I’m in the NOTA camp when it comes to rooting for the major party candidates in either of these races. Looks like whoever wins, the people will lose.

The Hill reported Friday on polling from NPR Battleground Survey that shows GOP has edge in most competitive Democratic seats.” The edge that the Rs have in this one is four points “among likely voters in the 53 most competitive congressional districts held by Democrats.” The Ds and Rs are tied in 33 more races for the next most competitive set of seats held by Democratic incumbents. Talk about Change we could have done without. From where we were in 2006 to where we are now, the Ds have waged political malpractice in my opinion. Sure the party in power wouldn’t have it easy during midterms regardless, but 2006 and 2008 had sealed the electorate’s anger at the GOP. The Ds made sure to join the GOP in the doghouse.

Shifting gears to the foreign policy front for a minute, this link is from CNN: Condi Rice says we were right to go into Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein, but mistakes were made in the rebuilding of Iraq. Well, that’s kind of late. And, I don’t think we were right to go into Iraq. And, I’m not happy that we still have 50,000 troops there and the Administration is acting like we’ve left Iraq. But, I’m just a “nobody who could have predicted” Bush-Cheney going into Iraq would be a disaster.

Oh, and on the off-chance that you guys are waiting on the edge of your seats to find out if the Matt Drudge noises alleging that the First Lady “campaigned inside polling place” were anything more than cheap and easy grist for the rightwing mill, experts say Michelle Obama did not break the law. What a stunning ending to that political suspense thriller, I know! Someone call M. Night Shyamalan. He can call it The Polling Place!

In HCR news…what else but more bad news… up to a 47% premium hike in Connecticut. And, here’s this from the NY Times: “It’s About Time to Check the Fine Print on Your Health Plan.” But, there was this interesting and not-so-bad development from Thursday (also via the Gray Lady): “Challenging Health Care Law, Suit Advances.” People talk of killing the bill, but if only it would self-destruct on its own. Perhaps that’s a long-shot, but a mandate to buy a private service sets a very bad precedent.

I never planned on linking to iowahawk, but this one called “Beltway Adventure” just showed up as lead item on memeorandum so it must be getting a lot of traffic. I cheated and just scrolled to the end. I won’t lie, the ending of this one did make me laugh even though naturally I disagree with the “turn left” and “fake turn right” — I think Obama has actually been turning right and fake turning left.

Over at Salon, the War Room’s Justin Elliott has this story… “Clinton aide’s idea: Let Iraq shoot down U.S. plane — A new book says a cabinet member proposed letting Saddam kill an American airman as a pretext for war.” The book is by General Hugh Shelton, and he writes that the proposal was put to him in October of 1997. If you haven’t read the details already, you really should click the link to read how Shelton says he responded. I don’t know what to make of this story yet, but I’m sure the Clinton derangement crowd is busy filling in those blanks in comment sections across the blogosphere. Also, this from Elliott at Salon: “The way Shelton writes the story, the unnamed cabinet official could not have been Berger or Cohen. That leaves Albright and the other cabinet members as possible candidates.”

Okay, now for something that leaves me less speechless. It’s time for my rant.

I linked at the top to the story about Boxer and Brown clinging to their leads. Californians ultimately should and will have the final say on who deserves to win. But, I can’t say I’ll feel sorry for Jerry Brown if he doesn’t pull this out. He made his own mess.

And, so have the Democrats. They can’t keep screwing over the women who vote for them, leaving the sorry “I have to pay everybody else before I can pay you” note on the dresser, and then say it’s not gendered to use the word “whore” to describe a woman competing for power held by a man. That’s just too much.

I always try to push back on the use of the word whore by saying so-called “media whores,” “political whores,” “famewhores,” “blogwhores,” etc. are not as honest and noble as real whores who provide an actual service.

Similarly, I like to push back on the use of the word bitch in political debates by saying it’s an insult to bitches who, as Tina Fey said on SNL, get stuff done.

I certainly “get it” about the usage of the word “whore” and am really turned off by all the little tutorials on the usage of slur words coming out of “progressive” quarters lately. People are talking down to us stupid wimmenz and like-minded men for just not understanding the difference between a racial slur and a misogynist slur and how misogynist slurs aren’t as offensive.

I mean, seriously Joan Walsh? This is just sad to read. Your partisanship for Ds vs. Rs at all costs is so blind that now even the word ‘whore’ isn’t an off-limits pejorative for a staffer of a male candidate to use against his female opponent. It’s just merely “crude” and “loaded” and would be better if it wasn’t used, but it doesn’t “pack the punch” of a racial slur, so we should just look at this as a staffer issue and move on ? Seriously?

Walsh was one of the only people in the MSM to stand up to the Frat Boys media treatment of Hillary Clinton and her supporters during the primaries. That’s why it’s sad to see her act this way, though it’s been the path she’s been on ever since Obama became president. After Coakley lost, Walsh told feminists to “put on their grown-up pants” and “take their lumps” as a way to insulate Obama from criticism that Coakley’s loss was really a referendum on him. It wasn’t as if feminists were out there protesting Scott Brown being sworn in or something, but blaming the “Emily’s list candidate” and her feminist supporters was a convenient distraction away from Obama dropping the torch that Ted Kennedy had passed onto him.

Getting back to the uproar over Brown’s campaign calling Whitman a whore — if that is no biggie and we should just move on, why then was it wrong for Julia Reed to say President Obama was “out of his cotton-pickin mind“? And, I do think Reed’s comment was wrong as well as something to make people aware not to repeat even though there’s a good chance it was an honest in-the moment mistake and wasn’t meant in a racial context. But, why the double-standard here?

Cotton-picking doesn’t pack the punch it would if used outside of the context of President Obama, either. But, Reed’s comment did take on a racial context once it was out there for public consumption, whether she meant it that way or not, and the Brown staffer’s whore comment does take on a gendered context when put out there in the political debate as well. The right thing to do to move on is to apologize, admit it was wrong and should not be repeated, and talk about how it sends a poor and counterproductive message to use that word when women are running for office in record numbers. Stop trying to qualify it.

Furthermore, it’s not only the womanhood of Democratic women who are advantageous to Obama and the Democrats that deserve fair treatment. I don’t defend the womanhood of women in politics because of their politics. I defend their womanhoods because of MY politics.

If the D/R situations were reversed on this one, and Gillibrand’s opponent’s staffer had been the one calling Gillibrand a whore, Walsh’s spin would be a complete 180. These kinds of apologia from Joan and other Democratic women apologizing for Brown right now will come back to haunt Democratic women if Jerry Brown gets away with this and the Democratic women’s orgs and activists don’t get their acts together. Democratic gatekeepers of feminism are on record now saying “whore” is a passable term to describe your female opponent in politics or just a staffer gaffe at worst, move on. Good luck getting more Democratic women elected with that attitude.

But then, the point and the plot of this discourse was lost several slurs ago. And, it makes me think of the John Lennon song to the right.

On that note… on this day (October 16) in 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in this country at 46 Amboy St. in Brooklyn. There’s an old flyer for the clinic archived online that’s neat to look at. It’s copyrighted or else I’d put it up here.

Oh, and before I go, with the spate of teen suicide stories in the news right now, I thought it was an intriguing coincidence that the movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story, trailer to the left, has come out just last week. It’s about a depressed teenager who checks himself into a psych ward. It looks interesting. Here’s a positive review from my local paper, the Houston Chronicle.

Have a great weekend, and I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR mind and what you’re reading this morning.

A talk we need to have with our parents

There’s a new study on the Tea Party movement that should come as  no surprise for any of us.  Many of them are over 55, white and born-again Christian.  My mother falls into this category.  A couple of weeks ago, she came to visit and defended Glenn Beck to me.  “He’s a spiritual man, he overcame alcoholism.”  Yada-yada-yada.  She also doesn’t understand why my former colleagues who are out of work right now can’t find jobs.  I told her it’s because there *AREN’T ANY JOBS!!!”  She wanted to know why they don’t just take anything that’s offered.  I had to explain to her that their severence benefits are just enough to keep a roof over their heads.  If they took a job as a dishwasher, they’d lose those benefits and they’d be out of a house that much quicker.

It’s very frustrating because my mother is not a stupid woman, not by a long shot.  She is a prodigious reader and she doesn’t read romance novels.  She reads Stieg Larssen and Jane Austen and Dostoyevsky.  I gave her “And the Band Played On” and she loved it.  She used to have a bumpersticker that said “The most valuable thing in your wallet is your library card.”  She mastered her iPad in no time flat and revels in her access to the world of the internet and boundless scads of information.

And yet, she will fall for endtime religions, Bill O’Reilly, WMD’s in Iraq and Glenn Beck Every. Single. Time.  It’s like they have figured out a way of hypnotising her.  When I see her, I have to snap her out of it.  It’s like struggling with some unseen evil thing that has possession of her will.

So, the last time she was here, I gave her a dose of harsh reality about Social Security.  I suggest you try this with your own parents because I saw a flicker of concern there and it may be worth propagating.

Here’s what I told her:

Me: “They want to raise the age requirement for receiving social security and they want to cut benefits.  And if they do that, YOU’RE social security is at risk.  It won’t be long before you won’t get it either.”

Her: “Oh, they wouldn’t do that.  *chuckle*  We’re too old to go get  jobs.  And your dad worked hard for me to get social security.”

Me: *steely eyed*  “You’re benefits will not be safe.  Forget it.  People my age have paid into the system all our working lives and you never have.   You’re just sucking off our paychecks and you never put anything into the system. You don’t know what it’s like to work really hard for something you were promised and have them take it away from you when you need it.  If we’re not going to get to retire, ever, then we’re going to need the money we put into the system every paycheck so we can pay our own expenses when we are too old to hold a pipette.  What Republicans want to do is separate social security benefits into the haves and the have nots.  And I’m telling you right now that we’re not going to put up with it.  If we don’t get what we paid into it, we are going to insist that we get let out of our obligation to you.  And don’t think we won’t do it.”

Her: “Well, what are we supposed to do then?”

Me:  “That will be YOUR problem. Maybe you can get a job as a dishwasher.  I’m telling you now that if social security is structured so that we never get what we paid into it, it will be the end of social security for everyone.  That’s what people like Glenn Beck want.  They want no government.  They HATE social security and they don’t care about you, just like they don’t care about all my friends who are laid off.”

Her: “I can’t believe it”

Me: “Glenn Beck will never tell you this so I am going to.  The people who work for a living will never stand for it.  You will become the new welfare parasite on their shrinking paychecks and they will want to cut you off.  I’m telling you this because it will be hard for even me to resist that temptation.  Ok, you can live in the guest bedroom but no Fox News and no 700 Club.”

Then we moved on to whether Obama was a socialist.  That was surprisingly more easily dismissed.  I laughed.  “Denmark is socialist, France is socialist.  Socialist countries and leaders protect workers.   That’s what they do.  That’s why they are called socialists.  Workers are the prime beneficiaries of a socialist state.  Do you see Obama protecting workers?  I mean, *seriously*, have you seen Obama lift one pinkie to help a worker in the United States since he took office?  No.  Of course you haven’t. If he were a socialist, he’d never behave like he has. Obama only helps himself.”

Now, go forth and lay it on the line to your parents.  They need to know what’s at stake.  They think they are safe and that we revere and honor them.  That might be true of you.  But you can’t speak for everyone, especially people who don’t make much money to begin with and for whom social security is their only retirement package.  In Glenn Beck’s dog eat dog world, the elderly will be the first ones eaten.  Social security will be reduced for them as well and they’ll have to move in with their cranky children, some of whom will not be able to resist a little granny rapping.  We’ll start to see stories in the newspapers about elderly parents abused by their kids or left by themselves for days to fend for themselves.  Poor, sick and dependent.  Screw Christian charity.  It’s everyone for themselves.  Is that what they want??  If the compact we made with social security is undermined, the whole thing collapses and no one is safe, not even smart grannies in their 70’s.

Make them understand you.  Because the Glenn Becks of the world are powerful mental manipulators.  You have to be defiant and shameless to your elders and tell them the truth.

Glenn Beck wants us to put them on an ice floe and maybe *we* wouldn’t abandon them but we can’t speak for our taxpaying neighbors.