September 17, 2014

Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes.

Politico reports.
Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe. In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop....  One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Wasserman Schultz denies it. But what's going on here? Who are these sources that have it in for Debbie? She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her? It is a gender-based attack, don't you think? Is a woman behind this attack? The only name I see named is Valerie Jarrett. What's up with the Democratic Party? If you make women your stock in trade, you'd better watch out for women against women.

"A fetching suburban house­witch in the person of Elizabeth Montgomery ar­rived on the television screen last night in a series entitled 'Bewitched.'"

For "last night," read: 50 years ago tonight.
Both Miss Montgomery and [Dick] York are extremely at­tractive and personable and there is a durable element of fun in watching someone out of this world solve life's mundane problems by making them go away with a snap of the fingers or a twitch of the mouth....

Agnes Moorehead is play­ing Miss Montgomery's moth­er and, with more substan­tial scenes in the installments to come, should be a reward­ing figure as a senior witch given to disdain for human ways. “Bewitched” promises to be a bright niche of popu­lar TV.
And so it was, for 8 years. Note that the above-quoted NYT review accurately says "twitch of the mouth." We were tricked, perhaps by witchcraft, into thinking we were looking at a twitch of the nose.

"Remember that copyright litigation between Marvin Gaye and the folks behind Blurred Lines?"

"Well, Pharrell and Robin Thicke's depositions have now been made public, and let's just say that they perhaps didn't go so well...."

Joe Biden emails: "Hold your breath, Ann."

Yes, it's just another email from Who knows who decides which Democrat's name to use to heighten the impression that I'm getting personal attention? But these creepy subject lines!  "Hold your breath, Ann." And 2 days ago, I got one "from" Barack Obama with the subject line: "Almost out of time, Ann."

And the thing is: It's meant to be scary. Not scary in the way these words seem most clearly to evoke, like someone is trying to kill me. But scary in the sense that I'm supposed to feel threatened by the possibility that Republicans will win in the fall elections.

And by the way, where's the trigger alert? What if I — like many of the women pandered to by the Democrats' gender politics — was afraid of some stalker ex-boyfriend? Glancing at "Almost out of time, Ann" or "Hold your breath, Ann" in my inbox would horrify me. What the hell is wrong with these people? Where's the empathy?

"Deeply... it's such a poser word."

Said Meade, reading the previous post "The NYT poll reports terrible numbers for Democrats, but calls the Republcian Party 'deeply unpopular.'" It made me wish I'd had a tag on the word "deeply" all along. It's a metaphor, creating an image of abstract concepts in space. Where are you when you are "deeply in love"? There are so many trite usages — deeply in love, deeply disappointed, deeply religious, thinking deeply, deeply troubled, deeply concerned, deeply offended, deeply regret — and "deeply" is deeply embedded in constitutional law doctrine with the phrase "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." But I'm interested in seeing how is "deeply" is deployed in various political and cultural statements, so I've searched this blog's archive, and here's the best of what I found:

1. "Beauty is a system of power, deeply rooted, preceding all others, richly rewarded," wrote Garace Franke-Ruta, explaining "Why Obama's 'Best-Looking Attorney General' Comment Was a Gaffe."

2. "During the period when [Althouse] rose to blogging prominence, conservatism as an ideology was deeply discredited and unpopular.... But if you look at her whole body of work, you can't escape the conclusion that she's deeply conservative."

3. Sarkozy said "I deeply enjoy the work" (of being President of France), and I said: "Wouldn't it be amusing if some day, a President resigned because he just wasn't enjoying the work — not deeply, anyway?"

4. Talking about libertarians, I said: "I am struck... by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe."

5. Last May, Tina Brown said: "Now that Chelsea is pregnant, and life for Hillary can get so deeply familial and pleasant, she can have her glory-filled post-presidency now, without actually having to deal with the miseries of the office itself..."

6. This John Stuart Mill passage came up in the context of a discussion about free speech: "Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

7. Something President Bush said in 2006: "It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another. I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about."

8. "Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile." [SEE ALSO: the use of "deeply personal" to refer to Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in a case about affirmative action. I find it deeply interesting when a woman's interest in an important issue is called "deeply personal." I'm reminded of the old feminist slogan "The personal is political," which I'm inclined to jocosely reword: "The deeply personal is deeply political."]

9. Somebody called Dahlia Lithwick "deeply frivolous" for what she said about the Supreme Court case known as "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," and I said: "I mean, if I were stoned I might be fascinated by the phrase 'deeply frivolous,' but I don't think Carney meant to divert us into contemplating an oxymoron."

10. A sociologist said: "I live on puns and snide, sarcastic asides. I don't look too deeply into myself or anyone else...  I drink a lot, take recreational drugs, don't care about much except being clever. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and while I am eager to have sex, which I do often given the zillions of available women in New York, the sex is not especially fulfilling, and emotions rarely enter the picture. I am deeply shallow. And I know it."


11. One of Hillary Clinton's most famous quotes: "This video is disgusting and reprehensible.  It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."

12. A self-professed liberal says: "the liberal commitment to Roe has been deeply unhealthy — for American democracy, for liberalism, and even for the cause of abortion rights itself....  Roe puts liberals in the position of defending a lousy opinion that disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply while freeing those conservatives from any obligation to articulate a responsible policy that might command majority support...."

The NYT poll reports terrible numbers for Democrats, but calls the Republcian Party "deeply unpopular."

Check out all the numbers and consider the wording of the intro to the poll:
A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

A deeply unpopular Republican Party is nonetheless gaining strength heading into the midterms, as the American public’s frustration with Mr. Obama has manifested itself in low ratings for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism.
I'm thinking that the NYT loathes the GOP so much — the GOP is "deeply unpopular" at the NYT — that even when the poll numbers show the unpopularity of the Democratic Party, it feels compelled to say that the GOP is deeply unpopular, even though saying that raises the inference that the Democratic Party must be really unpopular to be more unpopular than the deeply unpopular GOP. And yet there's still some hope that the unpopularity of the Democratic Party is, perhaps, not deep.

Maybe the unpopularity of the Democratic Party is a transitory surface phenomenon, like some very itchy rash, while the unpopularity of the Republicans is more like arthritis, bad, but this rampant rash is driving us crazy, so if you ask us right now what's bothering us, it's that damned rash, but the rash will clear up and the arthritis will never go away.

"In the morning, it starts at home with champagne or red wine before 10am, then again champagne."

"Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, champagne, beer and more pastis at around 5pm, to finish off the bottle. Later on, vodka and/or whisky. But I’m never totally drunk, just a little p*****d. All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of rose wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy. Anyway, I’m not going to die. Not now. I still have energy."

Boasts Gerard Depardieu, who is 65, has had a quintuple bypass, and — tellingly — owns a vineyard.

Do school dress codes rules about covering body parts discriminate illegally against female students?

At The Guardian, Jessica Valenti has an article about the high school dress code rebellion we talked about here. Her piece is titled "How many young women can a school legally punish for dress code violations? Singling out female students for humiliation and discipline because of their sex is a blatant violation of federal law."
Let’s be honest: rules for boys that prohibit certain kinds of jewelry or hoodies have nothing to do with their sexuality, whereas rules that seek to literally cover women’s bodies absolutely do.
There's a link to the actual dress code, PDF, where you can see that the rules are written in a gender-neutral form. "No... hoodies" restricts males and females. "No... accessories with metal spikes" — which I take it is the jewelry rule referred to — applies to males are females. "No visible undergarments" is a rule that might aim more at males than females, and it's a matter of opinion whether low slung pants with undershorts showing has anything to do with male sexuality.

"No low-cut blouses, tube/halter tops, midriff tops" does very strongly imply restriction on females specifically, but it's a matter of opinion whether young women making a special display of their breasts has something to do with their sexuality. (I'm thinking of statements from "SlutWalk"-type protesters and advocates of public nursing.) "No short-shorts, mini-skirts" refers almost entirely to females, but I suspect that many girls would be upset to hear that these fashion choices were expressions of sexuality, rather than fashion and comfort choices. (I know I was upset when confronted with this theory by my junior high school principal, explaining my miniskirt to me in 1965).

But I do get the point that the relevant sexuality could be in the minds of the rule-makers, and the covering up of females is part of a long and continuing tradition of controlling sexual behavior. The girl might not think she's doing anything related to sex when she wears short shorts on a hot day, but the authorities may worry that she's stirring sexual feelings in other students. (That's what I learned from the vice principal in 1965.)

Valenti continues:
The rules are so disproportionate...
An "if" would help that phrase.
... they could be a violation of Title IX, the federal law that ensures non-discrimination in educational environments. Alexandra Brodsky, co-founder of Know Your IX, ... explained that dress code violators could argue that they are being targeted precisely because of their sex: rules about short shorts or spaghetti strap tank tops are aimed directly at women’s attire.
The rules actually don't mention "spaghetti straps." The rule is "No tank tops," and boys do wear tank tops. I had to ask the internet "do boys wear short shorts," and I got: "Who Wears Short Shorts? Guys Wear Short Shorts!"

Back to Valenti:
There is also an argument to be made, Brodsky said, that targeting, humiliating and disciplining of female students could constitute a hostile environment, “making young women feel that the school isn’t for them.”
Interestingly, most school discipline seems to be aimed at boys and to make boys feel that school isn't for them. But maybe dress code rules, unlike rules about getting up out of your seat and pushing and shoving, has a greater impact on girls. It is important for authorities do need to set gender-neutral rules and to enforce them in a gender-neutral fashion. They should send the solid message that all the students are equally valued whether they are male or female.

But Valenti seems to be suggesting something more than that obvious proposition. She seems to say that formal gender neutrality is not enough and that demands for coverage of the flesh are aimed at females or that females have a special expressive interest in revealing their flesh. I don't reject that theory, but I would be more careful about applying it to the specific case of a high school principal demanding that students take reasonable rules seriously.

(And yes, yes, long ago — not as long ago as 1965, but long ago in 2006 — there was a big controversy about a blog post I wrote about the way Jessica Valenti posed in front of a very famous sexual harasser. I am not trying to rake up that old business, but I see the resonance here, and I'm mentioning it to free you from the need you might otherwise feel to remedy a seeming omission.)

September 16, 2014

Fried cheese curds.



Pick a cocktail:


Martin Amis sets his novel in a Nazi concentration camp and his European publishers reject it.

The don't get the Englishman's humor or they think he might be construed as sympathetic to the Nazis or they're squeamish and scared or... it's just not that good.
In France, the storied house Gallimard declined to publish the novel because “it wasn’t very convincing,” said Marie-Pierre Gracedieu....

Mr. Amis said his German publisher, Carl Hanser Verlag, had told him that there were “inconsistencies in the plot” and that it had found the main character, Golo Thomsen, an SS officer, too sympathetic to the Nazi cause...

Piero Salabè, Mr. Amis’s editor at Carl Hanser Verlag, said... “Our decision was based on the book’s contents as well as on economic considerations... [It had] nothing to do with the Holocaust being a sensitive issue in Germany.”....

“The problem with the novel lies in his uninhibited English perception of humor, at least for some German readers,” [wrote the London correspondentfor Allgemeine Zeitung].
Here's the book, "The Zone of Interest." See for yourself... unless you think we're being played by a publicity stunt.

Why won't Kirsten Gillibrand name the men she says harassed her?

She writes in her book that a male labor leader said "You're too fat to be elected statewide" and a male colleague said she was getting "porky," another said she's "even pretty when [she's] fat," and yet another made physical contact and said he liked "chubby" girls. But she won't name names. Let's analyze the possible reasons.

1. She wants to focus attention on the general problem of "how women are treated in the workplace... undervaluing women... and chronically paying them less and treating them poorly and not valuing them." This is the answer she gives, and as a politician, it makes sense to think that she has her issues and she wants issues seen as issues, so individual incidents are supposed to work as examples of the sort of thing that's happening. Specific details would distract us from the big problem and would enable those who oppose her solutions to that problem to find ways to distinguish what happened to her from what she's presenting as the big problem to be solved with the legislation that she, as a politician, would like to promote.

2. She wants to present herself in a good light, so she's filtered the story so that people see her as an ordinary woman who struggled with her weight and got harassed about it, rather than as an extraordinary woman who received an appointment to her seat in the Senate in part because she was a woman — because she was replacing a woman, Hillary Clinton — and because she had excellent feminine attractiveness. Did any male even have a chance? Which fatter, homelier women did she perhaps beat out? But, no, men commented on her post-pregnancy weight gain and that was good material to use to help us relate to her and to think that she understands us and our problems.

3. If she named the men, she'd have to tell the whole story, and we'd have to see things from their perspective too. The nameless men were mean to her, but if she named them, she might seem mean. Was she unfair? What was the actual context? Maybe it was a friendly, chummy environment where everyone teases everyone else and it was part of being considered one of the guys. Maybe she had drawn attention to her weight gain and expressed worry about it and they were mirroring her remarks supportively or just saying they like her however she looks. Fat is good too! As for the "too fat to be elected statewide," she got the Senate seat by appointment, and she had to be planning for the election, thinking of things she could do, and the subject of doing what she could to improve her appearance would have come up, as it does for all candidates, male and female. We openly talk about whether Chris Christie is too fat to get elected President. Maybe she was getting equal treatment. If we knew the details, we could probe into this, and any dishonesty in her presentation of the incidents could hurt her now.

4. She wants to protect the men she hasn't named. They're her political allies, perhaps quite well-known characters. I think we can assume that they are all Democrats, since we haven't heard otherwise and she probably would have taken the opportunity to ding Republicans, and since Republicans would be more likely to maintain formal politeness with her and not to assume that they could take liberties.

5. Maybe it didn't happen. There are no names named because there are no names to name.

Pick all that you think are probably true. free polls

"This week my kids have been outside until it’s time for bed, just playing, being kids, like I remember after school."

"When you come home from work, most people don’t want to work. That’s what the kids need to do."

Marlon Brando's Tahitian atoll will become a posh resort.

You can stay in one of the private cottages for $4,000 or so a night.
"Marlon felt that everyone in Hollywood wore a mask,” says Richard Bailey, Managing Director of the hotel company, Pacific Beachcomber, that built and operates The Brando. “But Tahitians don’t wear masks. There’s no hypocrisy. He loved that. He felt Tahitians had something to teach the world about how to lead a happy, balanced life.”
So come buy a Tahitian mask of your very own. Then you can wear the mask of no mask. There's no hypocrisy!

"The great promise of YouTube was its ability to cut out Hollywood-style intermediaries..."

"... but there are now more than 20 agencies and management companies competing to represent YouTube personalities, at least triple the number of three years ago...."
“Money changed everything,” said Naomi Lennon, president of Lennon Management, which focuses on YouTube personalities. Exploitation is now “an issue with our industry,” she said, because a lot of inexperienced video creators “are just believing everything these people are telling them.”

"We've gotta dispense with calling guys who are effeminate or who throw like girls 'sissies.' You know why?"

"Because that diminishes women... We've got to stop this making fun of guys. I think part of it's to protect Obama, because he's the one that's well known for that," Rush Limbaugh said (sarcastically) yesterday, in the midst of a monologue that centered around something an ESPNW columnist, Kate Fagan, said about the problem of violence in football. She said:
Holding NFL's feet to the fire should mean getting men to throw the kitchen sink at domestic violence...
What's up with the anti-violence lady using 2 violent metaphors?
... to invest millions of dollars in grassroots organizations, in going into middle schools and high schools and colleges and talking to young men about dealing with anger, about how they treat women. I think that's where you're gonna see change. Going into the school systems and the younger spaces and really reprogramming how we raise men.
Rush made much of the word "reprogramming." His transcript headline paraphrases Fagan's statement as "We Must Reprogram Men." His monologue goes on to paraphrase her repeatedly like this:
We have been in the process of reprogramming men and the way they are raised for a long time... we need to reprogram the way we're raising men... it's the guys that have to be reprogrammed... I've never run across anybody who suggested that women need to be reprogrammed. I don't think I've even come across anybody who wanted to teach a girl how to throw right. They just accept it is what it is. But honestly, folks, it's always reprogramming men... this effort to reprogram men has been going on a long time.
But Fagan didn't say "reprogramming men." She said "reprogramming how we raise men." Who's getting reprogrammed? Which human beings are analogized to computers and capable of programming? It's got to be those who are raising men, which is mostly women — mothers (more than fathers) and early childhood educators (mostly women). So in fact, in Fagan's statement itself, Rush was encountering what he says he never runs across: a suggestion that women need to be reprogrammed. He doesn't notice it when he sees it, perhaps because reprogramming women is so deeply embedded in the culture that it just looks natural. Feminists continually pressure for the reprogramming of women. That's what the "lean in" campaign is all about.

Maybe during the commercial break somebody pointed out the discrepancy in the paraphrase, because when Rush came back, he was more accurate, referring to "this business of reprogramming the way we raise men" (before detouring into the topic of Ohio State's description of what consent to sex means, which is funny/disturbing because it seems to demand that couples agree about "why" they are doing what they're doing), and "We have got to reprogram the way we raise men" (which relates to expecting men to "think with their brains" rather than their other "head," as Rush frat-boyishly put it). 

You know, I hate all the human-as-computer metaphors, including speaking of how people are "wired." It's dehumanizing, to men and to women. Fagan was trying to talk about what parents and teachers can do to raise good children. Conservatives should agree that boys and girls should be raised into adults who have good character, who understand right and wrong, and who embrace virtue and avoid vice. That's not controversial at a high level of abstraction. As to the details, is Rush saying that the best way to raise boys to be good men is to mock them by calling them "sissies" when they do something in a way that seems stereotypically female?

Does Rush embody and project ideal masculinity? Is he a good role model for boys? Is he carrying on some fine, old, valued tradition of raising boys to manhood? He has no children of his own, and he seems to have a lot of opinions about how parents and teachers — mostly women — are attempting to do well as they shape the new generation of Americans. They're doing many things wrong, it may be presumed, because anyone who tries to do something that difficult will get many things wrong. But how do you do it right?

The Scotland/England relationship, understood in romantic terms.

By John Oliver. This is long but I recommend the whole thing:

ADDED: I think Oliver wants Scots to vote "no" on independence, but he lays out the reasons for their grievance with the relationship with England and gets the audience identifying with them to the point where they burst into a huge cheer with a big Scottish flag unfurls (at 14:52). The emotions of nationalism are strange and powerful. With the right manipulation, an audience that doesn't even possess that nationality can feel the nationalism of others.

AND: Why do flags have such a powerful effect on the human mind? I'd like to see some serious research on this subject? Did you know that the study of flags is called "vexillology"? Here's the flag of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations:

September 15, 2014

"Do you know how many times I’ve been called, the cops have been called … just because we’re black and he’s white."

"You can take me down to the court office and I can make a scene about it. You know that I have a publicist and I work as an actress," said the actress.

"I’m mildly interested, I’m mildly interested that you have a publicist...Thank you for bringing up the race card. I never hear that," said the cop.

"Daddy, Daddy, I can’t believe it — all the things that are happening with the cops right now. I can’t even make out with my boyfriend in front of my f–king studio without getting the cops called on me. I don’t have to give him my ID because it’s my right to sit on the f–king street corner and make out with my boyfriend! That’s my right!" Said the actress to her father, via phone.

"Keep yelling, it really helps, it really helps. I’d already be gone [if you'd show an ID], just so you know, I’d be gone,” said the cop.

"I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen."

"I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate."

Said Adrian Peterson.

What now for Adrian Peterson? free polls

"Urban Outfitters apologizes for its blood-red-stained Kent State sweatshirt."

"As outrage spread, Urban Outfitters issued an apology for the product on Monday morning, claiming that the product was 'was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection."
The company added that the bright red stains and holes, which certainly seemed to suggest blood, were simply “discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” The statement added: “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”
That's actually not an apology at all, of course. 

Only Condoleezza Rice can save football.