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The Zombie Tribe

Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

Obama! Obama! Obama!

What’s so hard about condemning sexism and misogyny?  Does it really matter who the victim is?  John Cole gets it:

You know, I have no idea what the hell David Letterman is thinking or what he thinks he is accomplishing with crap like this, but this was inexcusable. He should be ashamed of himself.

And I’m not trying to sound like some politically correct scold, and I have no problem with comedians being comedians. There are lots of reasons to dislike Sarah Palin, there are lots of reasons to not be impressed with her leadership, her beliefs, or, well, anything about her, but when you start with the “slutty” crap, or are making jokes about her daughter getting “knocked up,” you’ve crossed a line. I have no problem attacking Palin for her idiotic proposals and all the stupid things she has said, but this just is the kind of nonsense that is no good for anyone.

Maybe I’m over-reacting, and I know I’m not always perfect, but I’m really losing my patience and tolerance for this kind of stuff. There was no place for this kind of stuff with Hillary and Chelsea, there is no room for it with Michelle and their kids, and the same standard should apply for Sarah Palin and her kids. Hell, it should apply to all women.

But some of his readers don’t:

She worked that slutty angle —and no way in hell can anyone say certain men didn’t respond. Starbursts, remember? It was an image she carefully presented and I don’t get all the vapors people here get for her getting called on it.

By the way, this whole ‘insulting to women’ chorus of protest is so fucking misplaced. You people seemed to missed that the very real and much more damaging diss occurred when Palin ran for VP using her best MILF act.

Part of the reason conservatives loves them some Palin is she is an anti-feminist. What could be a bigger diss than to get where she is because she has a vagina and men like her because she’s hot?

She made herself into the lapdance the rednecks couldn’t buy (while pushing her high heels into the face of every woman who ever fought to get their due for their competence, intelligent and capability, and not for being a hot mamma). And somehow, amazingly, a comedian joking about Palin’s carefully cultivated Fuckable Me image is the thing that is over the top.

Sheesh. Some of you really missed what Palin was up to. Palin was the manchurian candidate for feminism.

The hot fuck-me chick who can’t be fucked. Like a slutty stewardess. She’s got the fuck-me thing going on but what can you do? Bend her over one of the seats? Unobtainable Sex Object. Akin to the Hot Librarian with the Big Glasses. (Another stock male fantasy character Palin more than hints at as well). Cuz guys, you know when she takes off those glasses and lets down her hair she’ll fuck you so hard on the book stacks your dick’ll be bruised.

Sure that’s stereotype that demeans women. Hell yes. But Palin is totally reinforcing that one. She’s projecting it: This is the modern Conservative Woman.

It’s a feature not a bug that it’s undermes feminism. Why do you think conservatives love this exemplar of Woman? And where’s the vapors over that?

It’s actually interesting that Letterman said ‘stewardess’. No flight attendants for conservatives. Women are stewardesses. Waitresses in the sky.

You can get pissed at Letterman but I think he’s noticing something here. It says more about how conservatives see women than Dave does.

Letterman did wasn’t nice. But comedians often say harsh shit. A difference between comedy and a comedian making gratuitous insults is whether it was true or not. Good for Dave for calling her on it. She doesn’t get to have it both ways.

That was one of many comments in a long thread (361 comments) where numerous people defended David Letterman’s misogynistic comments about Sarah and Willow Palin.  What was so hard about denouncing something that is obviously wrong? Why would these people defend the indefensible?

The answer is tribalism

Continue reading


I'm this many

I'm this many

Today is my birthday.

I was raised in a fundie Christian church that taught me how the Hebrews were delivered from bondage in Egypt and led by Moses to Mount Sinai where Yahweh entered into a covenant with them that gave them the land of Canaan.  I learned that under Joshua the Israelites begin the conquest of their Promised Land, including the dramatic battle of Jericho.  It wasn’t until I got older that it occurred to me that the Canaanites were God’s children too.  Couldn’t He have given them some unoccupied land instead?

The church I grew up in was very pro-Israel, seeing the restoration of it as a nation as a sign of the imminent Second Coming.  Most of my life the news and media treatment of Israel and the Israel/Palestine conflict has been very pro-Israel.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that presented a pro-Palestinian point of view, but I’ve seen lots of depictions of Palestinians and other Arabs as terrorists.  Not without reason, for I also recall seeing news reports of Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorists committing numerous acts of violence including hijackings, bombings and the horrific massacre at the Munich Olympics.

The I/P conflict has been going on since before I was born 49 years ago.  Several times during my life the conflict has broken into open warfare involving Israel, the PLO, Egypt, Syria and/or other neighboring states.  Rarely has there been any progress towards achieving real peace in the region and there hasn’t ever been more than brief lulls in the violence.

I majored in history and I am aware of the Diaspora and the two millenia of pogroms, inquisitions and other anti-semitic attacks against Jews in Europe and elsewhere.  I studied Hitler and the Nazi era which included the Holocaust.  I also studied the history of Islam and the Crusades, but I confess I am no expert in those topics, nor am I an expert in the current conflict.

The area I live in has few Jewish or Palestinian people, so with the exception of the best boss I ever had (a survivor of Kristallnacht) and some former next-door neighbors who were Palestinian Christians my relationship with anyone from either group has been fairly rare but positive.

To me anti-semitism is like pedophilia – I know what it is but I don’t understand how someone can be that way.  I find ideas like the “Jewish Banking Conspiracy” and the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” absurd and the denial of the Holocaust deranged.

If I had to rate my position on the I/P conflict with +100 being totally in support of Israel and -100 being totally in support of Palestine I would give myself a +25 meaning I lean in favor of Israel.  That number does not reflect my position on every sub-issue but is an average.  However there is no sub-issue where I am pro-Palestinian, I range from neutral (zero) to +50 on everything.

If you are wondering why I don’t “fully support Israel” it’s because I am an American and the only country I am loyal to is the United States.  But I don’t fully support this country either – especially not when it commits war crimes and torture or when it discriminates against women, LGBT’s and minorities.

I also have issues with Israel, like when it commits espionage against us as it did with Jonathan Pollard and Lawrence Franklin.  I am concerned about the influence of AIPAC on our foreign policy (I am concerned about the influence of other groups, foreign and domestic, as well) and the attacks on the appointment of Chas Freeman to the National Intelligence Council.  But having issues or concerns is not the same as opposing Israel – I don’t.

I believe that Israel has a right to exist and that Jewish people everywhere have the right to live in peace and safety, free from discrimination or threat of violence.  But I believe that for everyone else as well.

So I am upset and outraged at the people who wish to accuse me of antisemitism or “Judeophobia” because I don’t support Israel as much as they do or agree with them on every related issue.  The accusations against me (and others here at The Confluence) range from weak to non-existent and include the defense of other people’s right to express a contrary point of view and bizarre conclusions drawn from obvious typos.  And lies – lots of them.

They say it’s okay to criticize Israel, but if you do you’ll never hear the end of it.  Any information that is critical of Israel is anti-semitic propaganda.  If they say someone of something is anti-semitic and you don’t agree they claim you are being offensive and hurtful.   If you obect to their tactics they claim you are trying to silence them!

The liars know who they are.  Their stance is akin to the Obama supporters who accused us of racism for not supporting Obama.  As far as I am concerned they can all go Cheney themselves.  I will not STFU nor go away.

Happy Freaking Birthday to me.

(comments will be heavily moderated on this post)

It is hard for an empty suit to take a stand – or perhaps even to understand what it means to take a stand

[Cross-posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri]

Richard Cohen’s sister is canceling her inauguration party because of President-elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to bless Mr. Obama’s taking the office of the Presidency of the United State. According to her brother’s column in the Washington Post, what made her do this is the way in which Mr. Obama’s choice to pick this pastor for this occasion serves as a special sort of condoning of Mr. Warren’s views about gays and lesbians. I agree with Richard Cohen, and apparently his sister, that these views should be regarded as totally unacceptable by anybody who has any sense of the importance of civil rights and indeed of human rights. I also agree with Richard Cohen’s view that as a somebody running for the office of President and who was at the time a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama had a particular responsibility for denouncing his then-pastor’s church, Trinity United Church of Christ, for giving the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan a special award during the primary season. I find it troubling that neither Mr. Cohen nor apparently his sister have not been, as far as I can tell, overly concerned by President-Elect Obama’s equally eloquent silence and inaction regarding the sexism and misogyny directed at Senator Clinton and her supporters, particularly the sophomoric expression of these attitudes by Jon Favreau, the man writing President-elect Obama’s inaugural address. (I shudder to think what the reaction of the Cohen family would have been if Favreau had been found on YouTube horsing around calling somebody a “homo” – maybe then Richard Cohen’s sister would join us in our demand that the President-Elect fire this sophomoric bigot as his chief speech-writer. Whether a bigot is slick (Warren) or juvenile (Favreau), he is still a bigot.)

It is tempting to forget in this sort of dynamic who the real problem is. As is clear from what I have written so far, I wish Richard Cohen and his sister would be, respectively, writing about and canceling inauguration parties as much over Mr. Obama’s inaction in the face of sexism and misogyny as they are in the face of anti-Semitism and gay-bashing. And yes, I wish that Richard Cohen’s sister had paid attention to and given greater weight to the fact that she had the option to work to elect somebody who, both as a Senator and as a Presidential candidate, repeatedly marched in Pride parades and met with editors of gay newspapers across the country rather than working for somebody who would not even have his photograph taken with Gavin Newsome.

But I am not falling into the trap that lies that way. Just because people got it wrong before does not mean they cannot help matters now. People can learn. So despite the bit of complaining above, I am not going to point a finger at Richard Cohen’s sister (or, for that matter, at Katha Pollitt for decrying the misogyny involved in the Warren choice when Pollitt, like Richard Cohen’s sister, opted to support Mr. Obama for the presidency when it was already obvious that he was complacent, to say the least, about sexism and misogyny). I am just pleased that they are starting to pay attention now and apparently coming to understand better who they voted for. To quote Richard Cohen: “The real problem has nothing to do with ministers and everything to do with Obama’s inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader. Sooner or later, he just might have to stand for something.”

Aye, there’s the rub. During the primary season and the general election a friend of mine who spent some considerable amount of time listening to me lament the Democratic Party’s poor judgment in making then-Senator Obama their poster-child, kept saying to me that the real problem with Mr. Obama is that he is an “empty suit”.

That term seemed to me too tepid back then. But I have come to see it as the essential problem behind the problem of Mr. Obama’s inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader, and possibly any kind of leader. To be a moral leader, to stand for something means that you have to fill out your suit, your office, your position. To be an “empty suit” is to be a person who cannot draw a line in the sand, precisely because you do not have an arm and hand within that suit to use to reach out and draw that line. To be an “empty suit” is to be devoid of the weightiness that real leadership requires, including the gravitas to admit to a mistake and change one’s position (drop the bigoted minister and lose the bigoted speechwriter; say you have been wrong to dig in your heels rather than listen to the concerns of so many of the people who worked so hard to elect you). To be an “empty suit” is to be a moral vacuum.

I refused to vote for John McCain for a number of reasons but among them was the fact that while I knew he had the capacity for moral leadership, I did not care for the directions toward which his moral commitments would lead my country. I refused to vote for Barack Obama because I knew he came up empty on the capacity for moral leadership.

In some ways, moral emptiness, especially in a President, is worse than moral wrong-headedness. The morally wrong-headed leader takes a stand, e.g. George W. Bush’s legitimization of torture, and one can rally people against the stand she or he takes. The morally empty leader takes no stand. Under these circumstances, her or his silences often allow people to forget that the blank that exists in lieu of a leader is the appropriate target of criticism. After all, it seems easier to go after people who actually do take stands (Rick Warren, for example) rather than the person who silently enables wrong-headed person to gain in stature. But this is sleight of hand. The real problem is the enabler, the person who allows the sophomoric sexist to put words in his mouth, the person who lets bigoted clerics and their churches affiliate with him.

So, to Richard Cohen’s sister and to Katha Pollitt, I say welcome to my party – the one that got lost in 2008, the one that expected moral leadership of a certain kind from a Democratic president. Now that you are here, I hope you can help me figure out what we are going to do with the empty suit about to occupy the Oval Office. If that empty suit thinks he can pick up sufficient evangelical money and votes in 2012, he is not going to listen to bloggers and op-ed columnists whose votes and followers he thinks he can replace with the support of the evangelicals, regardless of the detestable content of many of their views and some of their conduct. Personally, I do not think we can give the empty suit the backbone necessary to resist the lure of that support. If we cannot give this empty suit some backbone, we need, as I have written before, to start figuring out how we can have a better candidate on offer in 2012. So to the people who are canceling their celebrations, may I suggest that they use the time and effort saved to start solving that problem. We need to coalesce now around somebody who can fight for a nomination by a major Party – probably the the Party formerly recognizable as the Democratic one – who is what Obama’s supporters hoped he would be and what I fear he is not.