Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Pussygate

October 8, 2016

This is an amazing day, watching the Republican Party descend into chaos. By the time I’m done writing this, Trump may have been forced out. WHY? Over this? And isn’t it deliciously ironic that the GOP might kick Trump off the ticket because he said things that aren’t politically correct?

Don’t get me wrong – when I heard Trump saying that he can get away with whatever he wants with women – kissing them uninvited, grabbing them by the pussy – because he’s a star, I wanted to vomit. I was disgusted by his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. I was horrified that he obviously thought he was being hilarious when he was describing sexual assault. And I was saddened because, yeah. He’s not wrong. Our society absolutely lets celebrities get away with sexual assault (just ask Bill Cosby). The audio file repulsed me – but I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

The reaction from the press and from the Republican stalwarts that they are shocked – shocked! – that Donald Trump is a misogynist piece of shit is a bit too much to swallow. C’mon, people. Donald Trump has made it very clear that he sees women only as sex objects. He ranks us all from 1 to 10. He appeared in a Playboy video ogling twin playmates. He cruelly demeans women he finds unattractive. You’ve seen him in footage, leering at 19 year old pageant participants, or on his reality tv show, making lewd jokes at the expense of the female contestants. You’ve heard and seen him with Don Imus and Howard Stern, being crude and vile and entitled, describing the threat of STDs as his “personal Vietnam.” For goodness sake, we’ve all even seen the clips (multiple) of him saying that he would date Ivanka if he weren’t married, and he weren’t her father (in that order). You’ve seen the snippet where Robin Leach asked him how his daughter Tiffany – then ONE YEAR OLD – was like her mother, and he says that this baby has Marla’s legs. (“We don’t know whether or not she’s got ‘this part’ yet, but time will tell.”)

This is a man who sees women, ALL women – including his daughters, EVEN WHEN THEY WERE BABIES – as sexual objects. Of course he feels entitled to grab, kiss, and take women. That is how rape culture works. When you see women as objects, and not as actual people, it’s easy.

Yesterday, one after another, the party faithful expressed their disgust at this new, entirely predictable revelation. Today, the endorsements are being pulled, Pence is in hiding, and the party leaders are scrambling to force Trump out, even though it’s far too late to take him off the ballot. So back to the question at hand – why was this the tipping point? He has always been a pig; this is not news. But rats flee a sinking ship, and Trump is going to lose. If he had held his own in the debate, if he were polling even, they’d still be solidly supporting him, shrugging this off as old news, and just boys being boys. The reality that Trump is lewd and vile and lecherous, as well as racist, ignorant, and fascist, and Putin’s stooge, and quite likely mentally ill, was all somehow acceptable to the GOP. Republican leaders are abandoning Trump now because they finally realized he’s going to lose. And losing? That is unforgivable.

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Hillary’s One Weird Trick for Dealing with Interruptions!

September 28, 2016
Ever since the debate, the ThinkPiece Industrial Complex* has been in overdrive, pointing out that what seems so galling here – that he spoke 2/3 of the time while she patiently, politely, humored him, that he interrupted her no less than 51 times when she finally had a chance to speak – is a reality American women negotiate every day. And it’s true – study after study establishes that men dominate conversation time, in real life and in media. Again and again there’s proof that both men AND women interrupt women much more frequently than they interrupt men. To say nothing of the reality that qualified women are so often competing to be heard over men who have no idea WTF they are talking about. Heck, just a couple of weeks ago, the internet was ablaze with the One Weird Trick Women Used to be Heard in the Obama Administration, proving that even when women ARE invited into the Room Where It Happens by men who overtly value their insights, they still have to develop strategies to make sure these men HEAR THEM and give them credit for their own ideas over the deafening din of assumptions and expectations and implicit bias.
What fascinates me, though, is that we noticed at all, and why. Why, if this is so much a part of our culture, are we all suddenly talking about it? Why did so many men note what an amazing accomplishment it is that Hillary did not explode in anger and frustration, if it is true that we are conditioned to expect women to be polite, to not even notice that men always dominate the conversations?
Part of it was the stage, of course. We have the first woman who is seriously contending for the presidency of the United States, running against not just a man, but a man who embodies the sick misogynist false ideal of hyper-masculinity. The “strongman” bully who derides opponents as losers, who equates strength with aggression, who promises order through physical intimidation and violence. But I think the answer goes beyond that. We didn’t just notice how unacceptable his behavior was because of the stark contrast.
We noticed because she didn’t cave. When it was officially his turn to speak, she let him speak, with admirable grace (grace modifying her patience, NOT his speech!). A patience that yes, many women practice all the time. But we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all if that were her whole reaction. No, we *noticed,* we’re *talking* about this, because she did something else far more novel. Men everywhere interrupt women – but until last night, very few of us had seen what it looks like when the interrupted woman just *goes right on speaking.*
We noticed his interrupting because she didn’t cede the floor. If she had, all of our cultural assumptions would have come rushing in to fill the void, and we would have seen him as strong, would have accepted the interruption as his taking control of the conversation. But she didn’t do that. She didn’t lash out, she didn’t get angry, but she almost never acknowledged his outbursts in any way – she just kept talking, with the result that his interruptions didn’t look like a confident man controlling the conversation, they looked petulant and  childish and rude. On a few occasions, she replied directly to what he’d said – but then she held on to the floor, returning seamlessly to her original point. She didn’t let him derail her, she didn’t let him dominate her. She had a fearlessness that comes from having dealt with so much more crap in her career than any of us can imagine, and the poise that comes from truly trusting herself in that moment. She made us see him as a buffoon. The debate highlighted, finally, how unacceptable our cultural norm is. And Hillary showed us what it looks like when we have the clout, and the moxie, to hold our own.
The women of the Obama administration showed us how to be heard – have each other’s backs, amplify each other’s ideas, keep repeating and giving credit where it’s due until the men finally hear you. And last night, Hillary taught us the secret to dealing with interruptions: just keep talking. Own your right to that microphone, shake it off, and say what you came to say: don’t let anyone derail you when it’s YOUR TIME. Easier said than done – but oh, it can be done.

* I wish I remember who came up with this phrase, in response to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” but I can sadly only say it isn’t mine.

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1,068

June 23, 2016

Dear Speaker Ryan, and my dearest GOP Senators,

It’s 1:30 a.m. here in Nashville, 2:30 in the morning in Washington DC. The House has just been called back into session at this absurd hour. Whoever is presiding over the House while you, Speaker Ryan, preserve your viability by keeping out of the fray, has just disregarded the Democrats’ request for equal time, and moved on to a vote on the Military Construction bill – completely ignoring the past 16 hours of House Democrats sitting in on the House floor, demanding a vote on gun control issues. After this vote, the House will surely vote to break until after the 4th of July, and, as Republican Congressmen are apparently willing to show up at 3 a.m. to vote for vacation time (but never to vote on gun control) that, you think, will be the end of that.

You are counting on us, your constituents, to be asleep. To not care. To be so despondent and despairing over our government EVER functioning that we don’t see this. Two weeks will pass, fireworks will fill the air, we’ll all love America, and you’ll come back pretending nothing has changed. Pretending that the Democrats elected to the House of Representatives had not had to resort to civil disobedience in the halls of the government THEY SERVE in order to be heard. Ignoring the fact that Republican Senators, after 16 hours of filibuster by Democrats, were still too spineless to actually VOTE on sensible gun control measures, and instead, hid behind cloture votes, secure in their belief that Americans are too stupid to realize they still hadn’t addressed the issue.

But in those twelve days – assuming you come back on July 5th – 1,068 families will have been torn apart by gun violence. ONE THOUSAND AND SIXTY-EIGHT. Mothers and fathers weeping for their children. Children sent to live with distant relatives because Mommy’s been shot. Families vacationing together, children playing in public parks. Maybe another movie theater full of excited patrons, waiting to be transported by a summer blockbuster. Maybe another club full of beautiful 22 –year-olds out dancing. Maybe another church full of devout souls. But even without another national headline, the toll will still be met. 89 gun deaths a day. 1,068 of the people YOU have sworn to protect, the people who voted for you, trusted you, who put you in the room where it happens – they will be gone, forever, by the time you come back from vacation.

You’ve ignored the problem for years, and Democrats tried normal channels, came up empty, and let it be. But now they have called you out. Now they – now WE – are not putting up with this inaction any longer. You still control the House and Senate, so you can still stop every effort to save these lives, but from here on out? We’re holding you accountable. This is on you. Every murder committed with an assault rifle is on YOU. Every person suspected of terrorism who purchases a weapon – that’s on you, too, because you’re too cowardly to vote to stop them. Every single purchase of a weapon at a gun show, or online, or otherwise without a background check? Hang that around your necks, along with all the bodies that those weapons put in the ground, all the sorrow of the families ripped apart, all the fear of kids who are not let out to play this summer because their mothers love them too much to bear risking them. Every time someone convicted of domestic violence doesn’t have to surrender all of their guns – that’s on you, too, because surely you know that domestic violence is the single strongest indicator of later violent acts (that one WOULD have stopped Omar Mateen). Speaking of things you surely know, I assume you’ve seen the viral photo of the adorable 3-year-old standing on a toilet, practicing for an “active shooter” situation? Yeah. Her fear, the fear of millions of children growing up with this reality, and the ways that will warp them all of their lives, THAT’S ON YOU, TOO.

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(Photo by Stacey Feeley, via ABCNews.com)

I know that’s a heavy burden to bear. I know that NRA money doesn’t completely soften the blow. So as you grapple with the enormity of what your inaction has wrought, start small. Start with one single death, and that family’s loss and pain, the light gone out forever from that community. Carry that, know that you caused that. Then feel that 88 more times, for 88 other unique individuals mowed down, every day. Soon you’ll be able to feel all of the one thousand sixty-eight American lives you are willing to sacrifice by not voting before your precious vacation. And know that we are watching you. We are not asleep. Those 1,068 are just the start. Until you enact sensible gun control measures, that toll keeps growing.  We won’t forget in November. And we won’t forget in two years, or four years, when you, my Senators, are up for reelection.

You have an amazing and rare privilege. You can make this country better, and safer, for all its people. But if you choose not to do that, you are accepting the consequences of your inaction. 89 deaths a day. 623 souls gone every week. Over 82,000 families devastated every year. That’s on you.

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America Needs a 12-Step Program

June 18, 2015

I finally understand why we aren’t making any progress on race relations – it’s because we’re in the grips of an addict’s denial.

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Pleased to Meet You, Hope You’ve Guessed My Name

February 3, 2015

The closer I look at the right wing media and politicians, the more I believe their end game really is Dickensian squalor. They clearly long for the days when industry was unregulated, and the poor were numerous, expendable, and powerless. But they’ve finally stumped me. Today, Rand Paul (M.D) claimed, I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders [!] after vaccines.” Glenn Beck comes out against vaccines because he’s “done [his] homework,” AND compares the backlash against the anti-vaxxers to the persecution of Galileo by the Church(!!).  A doctor (!!!) appearing on Hannity asserted that “No one gives their kids all the scheduled vaccines.”

So here’s my question: WHY? Why are they making THIS a right wing talking point – and it absolutely IS one. This kind of coordinated messaging – from Chris Christie to Rand Paul to pundits and their guests – doesn’t happen by accident. But why? Why are they going beyond the laissez-faire “parents should control medical decisions regarding their children” and straight for “Measles is no big deal and no one vaccinates and PROFOUND MENTAL DISORDERS, I’ve done my homework!” INSANITY? Why are they suddenly *actively trying* to convince people that vaccines aren’t to be trusted?

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I’ve assumed all along that their motivations are always greed, a racist hatred of our president, and a fear of long term progressive gains (see above, re: greed). They’ve convinced the working poor to vote against their interests, they’ve brainwashed labor into being anti-union. They’ve monopolized wealth in ways that would make the robber-barons of old blush. They’ve done everything they can to keep gender equality out of reach. They’ve militarized police, made inner cities war zones, and created a cult of worshipping “Our Troops,” while completely neglecting the men and women of the military. But in each one of these horrific cases, I’ve understood WHY. Greed. The constant need to have all money find its way to the pockets of the hyper-wealthy. But how does anti-vaxxing feed that beast? Does Halliburton have a patent on measles meds it hasn’t been able to capitalize upon? Or is disease just another way of sowing discontent and distrust as a way of keeping progressive change at bay? Is the idea that a sick and divided populace won’t work for change? I honestly don’t know. But this ain’t right, and it isn’t happening by accident. The embrace of anti-vaxxerism by the right is part of a plan, I’m sure of it. But what’s puzzling me is the nature of their game….

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Rosie Perez Cleans Romney’s Clock

October 18, 2012

I never got around to addressing Romney’s ridiculous, racist, behind-closed-doors “joke” that running for President would be easier if he were Latino; the closest I got was talking about how blind he is to his own privilege. Now I’m glad I didn’t, because I could never have made the point as well as Rosie Perez does in this video:

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Quick Photo Post

September 13, 2012

It’s important to remember that the people who killed Ambassador Stevens do not represent Islam or Libya, any more than Fred Phelps and Terry Jones represent Christianity and the United States. Christopher Stevens dedicated his life to improving relations between our two cultures, and the people of Libya loved and respected him. If we move forward in that spirit, things can only get better – for the Arab world, and for our relations with it.

Also, I love me a good “nor.”

More photos here.