Thursday, October 6, 2011

Last Call

Greg Sargent argues that the Dems have shifted gears from the party of bi-partisan comity to grab the populist mantle from the intellectually lazy Republicans this week by going after the GOP with a Senate battle on using the Buffett Rule's millionaire's tax to fund the American Jobs Act.

Though it probably won’t secure enough votes to overcome a GOP filibuster, Dems are hoping that an epic floor fight over the surtax will cast Republicans as defenders of the rich and opponents of any and all action on job creation policies that have very broad public support.

More broadly, it’s hard not to discern a clear shift in strategy on not just Obama’s part, but also among Dem party leaders — one designed to, in effect, completely redraw the battle lines that have largely defined our politics in recent months. While the jobs bill in its original form seems doomed, Dems seem to be mounting a full-throttle effort — one involving the White House, Senate leaders, and the DNC — to draw a sharp populist contrast with Republicans on every available front, whether it’s over jobs, tax fairness, or Wall Street reform.

All this is unfolding as a host of various factors — Occupy Wall Street, Obama’s jobs tour, Elizabeth Warren’s Senate run, Warren Buffett’s appeals to his class that they sacrifice a bit more — are pushing the disputes over economic fairness, progressive taxation and corporate influence to the forefront of the national conversation. After two years battling on GOP austerity/deficit/cut-cut-cut territory, Dems finally seem to be making a serious, across-the-board effort to shift the storyline on to their own turf.

The Dems needed to go here years ago, but the Tea Party beat them to it.  Now the Dems are wisely taking advantage of the moment to redefine themselves, their party, and most importantly their battle.  The same effort by the Tea Party redfine Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty effing hippies shows just how worried they are about the movement and about losing the populist mantle they spent billions to buy.

The narrative changes this week, and now the real battle is joined.

Nuked Gingrich, Part 9

Newtie is still in this thing?

Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and now a candidate for Republican nomination for president, listens politely as he sips his coffee before finally rubbing his hands together and interrupting the discussion:

“Let me ask you all on a practical level for a minute: What are your thoughts on how we win the (S.C.) primary?”
You don't, Newt.  You're done. Your campaign is a fantastic joke at best, and at worst a cruel and unusual punishment on the country.

Gingrich also has been abandoned by his presidential campaign staff in South Carolina — including former S.C. GOP chairman Katon Dawson and political consultant Walter Whetsell — who quit and joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign.

“He was reasonably popular back (in the ’90s). He was the ying to Clinton’s yang,” Neal Thigpen, a political science professor at Florence’s Francis Marion University, said of Gingrich. “He’s just run into trouble on every front . ... I don’t see him doing all that well here.”

Last month, only 5.6 percent of likely S.C. Republican primary voters said they would vote for Gingrich, according to a poll by Winthrop University. Even fewer — 1.6 percent — said they thought Gingrich would win the nomination.

But Wednesday, Gingrich said he can win the S.C. primary. He said he plans to hire staff and open an S.C. office later this month. And he said he has local connections to most S.C. voters.

His father spent 27 years in the military, which Gingrich says can win over “all the retired military and retired veterans along the coast.”

Is there anyone in the GOP more delusional right now than this guy?  Newt's "My dad was in the military" is going to win him South Carolina?  If there's anyone who personifies the Republican Party and conservatives in general wanting to force America back into the "glory days"of the past, it's Newt Gingrich.

StupidiNews! Celebrity Catchup

Time for some quick bullets from Hollyweird:

I'll start with Billy Bob Thornton.  Granted, I have grown up with a dozen Billy Bobs in my life (yay for the Midwest).  In this case though, it's bad news.  Billy Bob's estranged daughter has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of an infant in her care.  It's a tragic story from every angle.

Jani Lane died of alcohol poisoning.  That is incredibly sad, and a waste of a talented guy.  However, several fans have expressed relief mingled with sadness, happy on one level that the singer was not distraught enough to have taken his own life intentionally.

Laura Dern is getting some attention for her new series, Enlightened.  Traditionally, shows like this have not succeeded despite their thoughtful message, but from what I read there is a balance between funny, sad, deep and hysterical.  Enough that you never feel like you are on a single journey, but many.  I love Dern (but I'll never forgive her dad for shooting John Wayne in in The Cowboys) and I wish her the best. Maybe this show will give us an idea of how to find our inner activist and follow our voice.

SlutWalk Serves A Purpose

SlutWalk is a response to a police officer who said "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."  To defy the pattern of blaming the victim, women are organizing events where they march in provocative clothing to bring attention the the fact that it doesn't matter what a person wears, they are not inviting sexual attacks by showing some leg or cleavage.  In fact, it is no less a rape if a woman is walking naked down the street.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, gives a person the right to invade another person's body without their consent.

USA Today draws several parallels between this movement and Take Back The Night, where victims of assault walk campuses and dangerous areas to bring attention the crimes, and to announce to criminals that they will not be chased off the streets in fear.  The two are similar in feel, but bring two entirely different methods in accomplishing their goals.  SlutWalk isn't poking fun at sexual crimes, it is bringing context to a quote from an asshole who thinks women bring rapes on themselves by how they dress.  The fact that his phrase "dressing like sluts" illustrates the very problem they are bringing attention to.  I respectfully disagree with the groups who feel the word slut is inappropriate in this context.

For example, we have this:

"Using the word 'slut' as an adjective to describe women in any way, shape or form just reinforces that pigeonholing of women and tying our value to our worth as sexual beings," Koestner said. "The things that we're trying to accomplish are talking about where women find comfort and where women can heal after being the victim of abuse and objectification and sexualization…. We believe collectively that the violence against women and violence against anyone shouldn't be based upon gender or what one is wearing. But the source of female empowerment or power of the person - I don't think all of us would ever agree that the power comes from the freedom to wear what you want."
Maybe I'm the one who is off here, but it seems to me that this type of thinking misses the very point. The participants in SlutWalk are not calling themselves sluts, they are saying that it is wrong to believe women "ask" for sexual assault.  I do not see anywhere that they are saying that is the end of the matter. It is simply the part of the problem they chose to address.  There is no way to cover every relevant aspect of sexual assault.  SlutWalk just says that if you show some cleavage you are not inviting being attacked.  If you choose to wear a short skirt, you are not responsible for the criminal actions of another.

Hundreds of black women (many of them professors) have endorsed an open letter to SlutWalk, which says that to call themselves sluts would validate "the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the black woman is."
"As black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it. We are perplexed by the use of the term 'slut' and by any implication that this word, much like the word 'Ho' or the 'N' word should be re-appropriated," the letter reads. "In the United States, where slavery constructed black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the black female immigrant struggle combine, 'slut' has different associations for black women. We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label."
Again, SlutWalk did not say they were carrying the torch for every possible relationship to sexual assault.  They may not include the particulars that apply to black women and girls, but they would not be taking anything away from these women, as their point is to help women of every race and walk of life.  If these women feel they are not included, it isn't on purpose, and the spirit of the protest would surely happily include a sister movement that brought attention to what these women feel has been overlooked.  To me this wasn't misrepresenting black women, but would allow for different groups working together while cooperating from different perspectives.

The whole point is: it's just a damned word.  A word that is not justification for rape, a word that is not a real description of a woman who wears spaghetti straps or is responsible for her own sexuality.  Slut is like "bitch" or any other hollow insult, it only applies if you allow it.

I won't get too personal here, but I do want to share my own input on this.  I was raped when I was eighteen.  I was young and moved from a farm town to a major city.  I was attacked outside a grocery store, and beaten so badly I couldn't eat solid food or even wash my face for two weeks because it was too painful.  When the police arrived, I was dirty, in terrible pain, and ashamed to tell them what happened.  I will never forget when one officer asked me "What do you think you did to contribute to these events?"  That has haunted me forever.  Now I'd say "you asshole, I wanted some Chunky Monkey and Sprite, what the hell  is it to you?"  Back then, I was immediately shamed and withdrew.  I answered questions but did not look them in the eye.  In subsequent interviews I declined their offers of help and I suffered more than I had to because I was terrified to face the idea that I had somehow brought this on myself.  It took years before I realized the criminal was 100% responsible for his actions, and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But this is what thousands of women face, from the police, from the lawyers, and the criminals themselves when they try to justify themselves in court.  The saddest thing of all is that sometimes it actually works.

Enough is enough.  It's time to change the attitudes of the men who never have to face those circumstances.  If Springfield ever has a SlutWalk, I'll be right up front, loud and proud.  And I dare anyone to try and stop me.  I'm a grown woman now, and I will wear what I please. I will say what I please.  I will not apologize for wearing heels or a nice dress, and I will not bear the guilt of a criminal's decision to harm another.  My prayer is that all women can reach this place of confidence, and not have to take the path that I and other victims have had to in order to see the light.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

From Jeff Parker of Florida Today:

Oh, and Nevada Republicans have moved their primary up to January 14th, now first in the nation. This means we could have 2012 primaries in December 2011 at this rate: in just weeks.

Steve Jobs Was Brilliant, His Company However...

Let's face it, Steve Jobs was one of corporate America's leading visionaries and leaders, gone at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  That may say more about the state of corporate America than Steve Jobs, for Apple was no corporate saint by any means on the issue of underage Chinese labor, something the struggled with for several years... but Steve Jobs will be missed.

To his credit, Jobs did come clean on the company's audit and fought to remedy the situation, but the efforts to do so have stalled out in the wake of fabulous iPhone/iPad profits.  Perhaps the best way to remember the company's founder is to see the efforts to correct Apple's child labor issues through.

In a New York Times article last week by Catherine Rampell, performing artist Mike Daisey talked about his trip to Shenzhen, China, where he posed as a wealthy businessman to infiltrate factories where Apple products and other electronics are made. He says he witnessed inhumane conditions and interviewed workers outside of factories who said they were as young as twelve.

Apple?  Honor Steve.  Fix this.  Now.

On the other hand, Westboro Baptish Church?  You can suck it.

Help A Neighbor Indeed

I owe Angry Black Lady quite a lot, frankly...and yes, I'm aware that 90% of my readers hang out at ABLC on a pretty regular basis.  Having said that, she's having a fundraiser to keep her site going, so if you can give a few bucks to her, do so.

Sully's Moose-ion Improbable

Sully on Sarah Palin getting into the race as an independent:

The obvious problem is that she would all but guarantee the re-election of Barack Obama. Is she delusional and narcissistic enough to plow onward regardless?

You betcha!

Sarah Palin yesterday:

Sarah Palin, ending months of speculation, said Wednesday she will not run for president, either as a Republican or third-party candidate.

One, Sully's not exactly the most objective observer of all things Trig Sarah Palin.  Two, running as an independent would be way too much work.  If you ever thought Half Term here was going to put in the long hours needed to do that, you're nuts and still are.  Three, Sully's right about her guaranteeing an Obama win, meaning the Powers That Be in the GOP money pit must have already made it clear to her that they would have spend tens of millions to crush her like a tin can at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.  Four, she's still playing this grift as long as she can.  It required her to actually do a grand total of nothing and she gets attention.  That's all she ever needed. (Well, that and the money from the rubes.) And five, even Republicans don't want her to run.

Sarah Palin is egomaniacal and bull-headed.  But she's not stupid.  She's stayed out this long as I said she would...but hey, the veep slot will be open.  Voila.  Grift 2.0.

As for Andrew Sullivan, well, there's a reason he was never in the bloglist, folks.


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