Archive for September, 2008


Don’t believe the hype!

This weekend I went to a birthday party for a close friend of mine. Seeing as how it was supposed to be a celebration full of good times I decided ahead of time to leave my soap-box-hopping-self at home (she’d get her chance out this Thursday at a VP debate party). Let’s face it though…nobody’s perfect. There were a few points where I simply couldn’t keep quiet because the hot air was getting t0o intense. Here are a few highlights from the evening:

1) Male #1: “John McCain is a respectable man.”

Male #2: “Yeah, he really is.”

Me: “I’m sorry, what? He’s respectable?”

Males #1 and #2: “Of course.”

Me: “The dude left his wife!”

Male #1: “Your going to hold a guy to something he did 40 years ago? None of us would pass that test.”

Actually, YES I’m going to hold him to something he did 28 years ago! In particular, I’m going to do this because for some reason we all consider him accountable and HEROIC for his actions 35 years ago. So, I say, if you are going to hail someone for their actions on one front then let’s not turn the other cheek when they do a no-no. Granted, one action involves “national heroism” and the other is a personal matter; but in my opinion both reflect on how this man treats others and both contribute to his degree of respectability.

Interestingly enough, I know many people who would pass that 40 year test, many respectable people. I wonder, could John McCain be the candidate for those of us with a sketchy past? Is that another side of his appeal? John McCain: I’m not an east coast liberal elitist; No, I’ve been there just like you; Hell, I even cheated on my wife who was a swimsuit model with a rich woman who was 18 years younger and married her only a month after my divorce. See, I’m JUST like you (or how you wish you could be).

2) “Obama will raise my taxes. In fact, if my parent’s leave me their house he’ll tax that inheritance 50%! I don’t believe in income redistribution of any sort, Obama is a Marxist socialist.”

Ok, this one might take a minute. First of all, that is not Obama’s tax plan. Maybe this person’s information came from that widely-circulated-bogus-email-with-absolutely-no-references-or-sources-cited (big Sarah Palin finger wag from the social science researcher!). Though I’m not economics professor, from what I understand Obama would tax certain properties at a maximum rate of 45%, however, these properties are valued at at least $3.5 million or more. For a NON-PARTISAN breakdown of Obama and McCain’s tax plans see here.

Second, income redistribution is already happening, just in the reverse direction. We are witnessing a rapidly growing divide between the have and the have-nots and a whithering of the middle-class as a result of high debt, shoddy mortgages, and the general increase in the cost of living.

The richest 2.8 million Americans had $950 billion after taxes, or 15.5 percent, of the $6.2 trillion economic pie in 2000, Isaac Shapiro, a senior fellow at the center, said. The poorest 110 million Americans had less, sharing 14.4 percent of all after tax money.[NYTimes]

Clearly, through the use of tax breaks, incentives, and loopholes our income IS being redistributed…to the top. So, one can believe or not believe in income redistribution all they want, but the bottom line is that it is taking place, just in a rather unfair direction.

Finally, Marx would be rolling over in his grave. Obama may have progressive ideas but he’s definitely no Marxist.

3) “Sarah Palin is a strong woman.”

I have no doubt that that lipstick-wearing-pit-bull-hockey-mom exists inside of Sarah Palin. No doubt whatsoever. What pisses me off is that the McCain campaign won’t let us see it! As Campbell Brown so deftly noted in her rant, the treatment of Sarah Palin by her own campaign is sexist. They are keeping her under wraps and out of all the big-boy talks and sitting beside her all father-figure style when she does speak without the aid of a teleprompter. However, as Rebecca Traister of Salon argues, being a “strong woman” does not mean you are ready or qualified to be second in command of our country. Moreover, she continues, the pity party by liberals and conservatives needs to stop because Sarah Palin got herself into this mess just as much as anybody else (remember she said that when tapped for the VP nom she “didn’t blink”).

In other news:

  • Cary Tennis skillfully uses a well-known concept in personality theory (the “authoritarian personality”) to explain what is so gosh-darn frustrating about Ms. Palin.

As an authoritarian type, she strikes us as a person who prefers power to reason. The people running John McCain’s campaign seem to instinctively understand the uses to which such an impression can be put. Perhaps they know better than we do how deeply the American people long to be done with the problem of democracy, to yield to a powerful father-mother pair of authoritarians.

  • Did you know that Sweden had the VERY SAME economic crisis we did about 15 years ago? They handled it in such a way that they can now offer all citizens 4 weeks of paid vacation, universal healthcare, and the best materinity (and paternity! oy!) leave in the world! Politicians take note!
  • They are all full of shit, this much we know. Want to know exactly how BOTH candidates are “spinning”? Check out
  • Still looking to be appalled? Well, check out Feministe for reports on a Louisiana state representative who came up with the idea of paying poor women to get sterilized (he realized that all those Katrina victims were a financial burden to the state!) AND offering incentives to rich people to have babies. I sure am glad we tossed Eugenics out the window; oh, wait a second. There’s also a link to an article in which Ann Coulter identifies the REAL problem of the mortgage crisis: poor black and brown people. She even goes so far as to say that mortgages were handed out based on whether you “had a good jump shot.”
  • And, finally, to end on a more cheerful note…Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

file under “delighfully inappropriate”

someecards and the daily show are the only things keeping me sane…


The Sarah Palin Drinking Game

Ok, so I wasn’t going to hate on her anymore, seeing as how SHE’S NOT FIRST ON THE TICKET. But yo, this interview is just all kinds of awful. Agree with her and/or her party’s platform or not, but this was just B-A-D bad.

1 drink = not answering any question

2 drinks = “uhm”, “erm”, “ahh” or other guttural noise

3 drinks = Alaska

4 drinks = “terrorists” or “terrorism”

5 drinks (aka floor) = use of the word “savior” (as in America cannot be the savior for all other countries)
*For full effect, watch all parts of interview and repeat. Be warned though, you may not make it all the way through before tossing your biscuits.

FYI Sarah,
1. My mom and dad did not give me a backpack and a passport and send me off to Europe after I graduated. I went to Walgreens and got the damn thing myself.
2. “Track Record” on the economy: McCain’s is NOT GOOD.
3. I hate your glasses and the fact that they are making a fashion statement.
4. If you want to lift your finger and talk political winds you should review your running mate (i.e. the FIRST person on the ticket) and his record of CHANGE. as in changing one’s mind.
5. America has not FOUND itself on a road to a depression. It has been PUT there by sleazy investment bankers. Quit messin’ with the rhetoric. And quit thinking you can dupe me with the same type of fear threats that got us into Iraq.
6. FYI “Congress” is actually pointing the finger at BUSH.
7. The maverick bit is NOT working.
8. I have to give some respect though. I’ve never seen such variety with non-specific answers. Seriously. I thought politicians could only go so far but the bar has been raised. Or lowered. Welcome to the age of non-specificity my friends.

If I keep going I’ll just end up very drunk and waste a perfectly decent bottle of wine.


Today’s Picks

Feministing notes the anti-feminist hypocrisy rampant in the treatment of Sarah Palin. Dude, where were these women when Hillary was up there? Tsk.

More on Feministe about the rape-kit controversy and why it matters to all women.

In an article that is a bit more “cognitive” than I normally go, questions why voter’s cling to “their” candidates even in the face of disheartening information (e.g. LIES).

And, for this one, the title says it all: Bankrupt AIG underwrote McCain’s “Reform Institute”


Why Sarah Palin isn’t a feminist…

As a young woman who rooted for Hillary and who frequently uses offensive advertisements to educate people about the various “-isms” I have recently been asked the following question (on more than one occasion): “But you’re a feminist…why don’t you like Sarah Palin? Or, Don’t you think she deserves some credit for her accomplishments? Why the feminists hatin’?”

Well, it’s quite simple, really. She’s not a feminist. At least not to me. Has she benefitted from the social advancement of women that has taken place over the last 90 years? Of course. Is she a model of how a woman CAN have a career and a family? Sure (all First Dude comments aside). The issue here is not to confuse achievement with worldview. Sarah Palin has admirably advanced up the political food chain from her early PTA bake-sale mom days to major VP candidate. Pat on the back, way to go. She’s a model of what women CAN do today. But feminists are upset because, despite the fact that her success is a nice example/story, it primarily stems from the work of our foremothers that Palin would just assume toss out with the bathwater. Feminism is a worldview, an epistemology, a framework for politics and policy that values certain things above others. As Palin’s politics show, she’s not a feminist.

A little clarification is in order. Ask any feminist what the “F” word means to her/him and s/he will have a different answer. So this post is about MY interpretation of feminism and how I use it in my research, teaching, and life. For me, feminism is directly related to humanism and what Carol Gilligan would term an “ethic of care.” The idea is that feminism argues for the voices of women to be heard and for fair treatment of all men and women. It doesn’t stop there, at least not for me; feminism argues that if we look at relationships of power and domination among different social classes of people (obviously men and women being one, but not the only one), then we can begin to unravel the myriad inequalities that many individuals face in their lives. In that sense, by expanding the argument beyond men and women to question inequalities based on sexuality, class, race, and gender (to name a few), feminsm becomes humanism.

Second, I view feminism as arguing for an ethic of care. Now, this idea has been criticized plenty for reinforcing stereotypes of what makes a “good” woman. I’m not arguing about good or bad women. To me, feminism brings an ethic of care to the table, and this is important. In her short play about women rebuilding after war (Necessary Targets), Eve Ensler depicts images of women as the rebuilders, the nurturers, the ones who reconstruct the physical, mental, and emotional bodies after tremendous destruction. This is not to say that this isn’t man’s role. I don’t want to get bound into that argument. (Repeated disclaimer: This is what feminism means to ME.) In more practical terms, this ethic, and feminism in general, reminds us to consider the ways in which our relationships with others (intra/interpersonal, social, political, etc.) improve (or not) their quality of life. It should remind us of the value of education, our obligation to the environment, our commitment to future generations, our respect of our bodies (and, more importantly, of others). I do not take the stance that all women are inherently “caring” — in fact, we know otherwise. But I do take the stance that feminism, as an epistemology, should advance the notion of caring as it calls for social justice, the end of discrimination, and, as bell hooks states “a world where recognition of mutuality and interdependencey would be the dominant ethos, a global ecological vision of how the planet can survive and how everyone on it can have access to peace and well-being.” (Feminism is for Everybody, pg. 110)

Based on the above arguments, then, Sarah Palin is not a feminist. She triumphantly totes her adorable son around, the son that she decided to have despite knowing he would have Downs syndrome. The key word there is decided; she had a choice, and would prevent other women from having that same choice. Her utter lack of concern for the environment (polar bears, etc.) flies in the face of feminist/humanist concerns. And we all know about the charging for rape-kits.

She may be a successful woman, but being successful does not automatically make a woman a feminist (Ann Coulter?). There are plenty of successful women that will vehemently deny that f-word. The bottom line is that her politics are not grounded in a feminist framework in ANY way. At its most abstract level, feminism reminds us that there are other viewpoints than our own, that there are other experiences than our own, and that we must commit ourselves to being open to understanding and caring about all of those around us. Feminism, and feminists, clearly see that Palin’s unwillingness to blink, should she get that 3 a.m. phone call, flies in the face of all logic with reckless abandon; they see that Palin does not respect the bodies and choices of all women; and they see that she is willing to quickly puppet the outdated, war-hawkish, patriarchial bullshit that we’ve all heard for the last EIGHT years.


sunday (much needed) moments of zen

A quote…

“I’ll probably never produce a masterpiece, but so what? I feel I have a Sound aborning, which is my own, and that Sound if erratic is still my greatest pride, because I would rather write like a dancer shaking my ass to boogaloo inside my head, and perhaps reach only readers who like to use books to shake their asses, than to be or write for the man cloistered in a closet somewhere reading Aeschylus while this stupefying world careens crazily past his waxy windows toward its last raving sooty feedback pirouette.” (Lester Bangs, “A Quick Trip Through My Adolescence”, 1968)

An image…

A rallying cry…(my god i love this man)


Sunday News, Sunday Blues. Or, “I’m personally offended you think I’m so stupid!”

Sundays are nice, even though they usually end with a overwhelming sense of anxiety about the tasks of the upcoming week. But they are nice because they offer a chance to catch up on news and read my favorite section of the Times, The Week in Review.

Although I’ve got a lot more to read, and a post to pen about why Sarah Palin is not a feminist (I’m working on that one, it will be up soon), here are some standout pieces so far:

Frank Rich discusses the reign of “truthiness” in the current campaign and the inability of the press to call a lie a lie:

You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on “The View.” Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from “the filter” that Cindy McCain later complained that “The View” picked “our bones clean.” In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.

As a social psychologist, I found Nicholas Kristof’s column particularly interesting. He discusses the Republican strategy of boiling down the issues to identity politics of us-vs-them; identities that are misconstrued no less. The effort to “otherize” minorities of any type (based on race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc.) is an age-old tactic that preys on fear and irrationality and, perhaps the most difficult of all to detect, emotional/visceral responses of individuals. The fact that we KNOW Obama didn’t take his oath on the Koran suddenly doesn’t seem to matter; just putting the thought in our minds triggers our fears of what his presidency would look like if he did. We no longer notice that Obama goes to church more than McCain or that McCain left his disfigured wife for a wealthy woman. No, we get trumped because those evil purveyors of linguistic binaries fill our minds with completely fictional characterizations that build upon our fear stemming from a shared tragedy seven years ago. Really, the extent to which Republicans are skilled social psychologists is disheartening.

As Kristof adeptly shows, religion is just a proxy for our more unspeakable prejudices:

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

And third, for now, is an important editorial reminding us of that checks-and-balances system we learned so much about in high school government. The next president will appoint Supreme Court Justices, this much we know; what remains to be seen is how many he will appoint. Supreme Court members shape laws long after the president’s term (or terms) is up. Like it or not, Obama has pledged to introduce moderate judges. McCain has flat-out said that he’ll put judges in place that continue Bush’s radical conservative agenda. Personally, I’d feel more comfortable with a constitutional law professor appointing SC members, wouldn’t you?

Mr. McCain’s justices are likely to join the conservative crusade against the power of Congress. They could be expected to strike down, or sharply limit, federal power to protect clean air and water; ensure food and drug safety; safeguard workers; and prohibit discrimination against women and minorities. They would also likely further erode the separation between church and state.

In sum, these articles all get thrown onto my pile called “how-on-earth-could-you-think-i’m-so-stupid”? We ARE smarter than this. We ARE smart enough to know a lie when we see it, smart enough to not have our fears played/preyed upon, and smart enough to understand the long-term implications of our vote. I want my president to treat me with respect, not try to dupe me.

September 2008
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