Thursday, September 30, 2010

With friends like these...

Matt Taibbi's "inside" look at the Tea Party, just published in Rolling Stone, is entertaining, by all accounts. PZ Myers linked it on AlterNet, and I immediately started brawling with the people who loved it.

First page of article. I winced and then, just started banging my head against the wall:

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

"The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives.
Oh ha ha ha! Ain't gimps funny? Ain't old people funny? And add FAT OLD GIMPS altogether in one whole sentence, and you have to hold onto your ribcage from laughing so hard.

"Giant atrophied glutes?" "Sucking oxygen?"

Is this necessary?

Actually, this superior-sounding bullshit is the problem, as I tried (vainly) to explain to Taibbi's enthusiastic AlterNet fans.

I have heartily disliked what Alan Keyes and Thomas Sowell have said, but I don't resort to race-baiting over it. I have heartily disagreed with Andrew Sullivan, but I don't call him a faggot or jokey joke about HIV. Etc. Isn't there a way to disagree with these folks, even call attention to the obvious discrepancies in their logic, WITHOUT being an ill-behaved, ageist, ableist LOUT?

Well, hey, whaddaya know, YES THERE IS... I did it MYSELF in my piece on the Tea Partiers at the Town Hall meeting in Travelers Rest. I made note of the fact that many of these people were/are old, but I was not an asshole about it and did not find assholism necessary to make my point. Matt Taibbi and other college kidz, take heed.

This is why we are losing.

The condescension and prep-school arrogance with which a rich kid like Taibbi (son of Mike Taibbi, four-time-Emmy winning journalist for NBC) makes fun of disabled old people in a poor, ignorant, hardscrabble state like Kentucky... well, it just makes me nauseous. (NOTE to Taibbi: Coal mining usually leads to people sucking on oxygen, in case you didn't know... you might want to keep that in mind the next time you turn on your lights or fire up your fancy laptop: someone is sucking on oxygen just so you were able to do that cheaply.)

I mean, if those Kentuckians had gone to Concord Academy with Matt Taibbi? Maybe they'd know the stuff he knows. And maybe they'd have healthy glutes and not be sucking on oxygen. He knows that, right?

I guess it's a good article. Yall can let me know. I quit reading after the first page. I don't need to be insulted, and those people are of my class and background.

The fact that *I* am insulted, and I ACTUALLY AGREE WITH TAIBBI'S POLITICS REGARDING THE TEA PARTY?!? (I am significantly to the left of Taibbi, in all honesty.) What does this mean?

It means we're in trouble. Do you see that we are in trouble? Please SCALE BACK the classism and elitism, if you really want to SCALE BACK the Tea Party.

Or do you?

Does it just feel good to be funny and have everyone pat you on the back and tell you how clever you are, Matt Taibbi, as PZ Myers and all his friends do? (And could PZ Myers get elected as dog catcher?) Because if that is all it is? We don't need friends like these. Not at all. After all, Matt, your career will be fine, you went to Concord Academy, your daddy has 4 Emmies. You can afford to throw spitballs and be superior. The rest of us? We are rightly worried about our futures and our lives, if the Tea Party should win.

To Matt Taibbi, its about furthering his career and being lauded for his wit, but for US, it is life or death.

And here the preppie is, waving a fucking red flag in front of the proverbial bull.

(((recommences banging head on wall)))

~*~

EDIT OCT 1st: This reply to my comments over at AlterNet, was just too amazing not to cross-post here. And remember, these are the progressives talking:
And how do you know these people were disabled? NO. The scooters, chairs, and oxygen tanks usually aren't for "disabled" people. Go to Florida, NC, and other areas where Tea-Partiers have a strong hold, and see how many 50+ people go around on scooters simply because they ALLOWED THEIR MUSCLES TO ATROPHY, and a scooter helps them avoid exercising. (Same with the oxygen tank -- it's not only people with asthma and emphysema, its lazy people that get winded cuz they are so out of shape their heart and lungs can't keep up if they actually start moving around)

Not because they are disabled -- but because they are winded, and lazy, and haven't exercised in years.

And it was more targeting "motorized scooters" than wheelchairs.

And now their lazy asses are sucking 50-70% of our nations medical expenses on avoidable chronic illnesses caused by our lazy-ass lifestyles and eating habits, that tea-partiers will defend to the last breath their right to have. (God forbid we legislate and regulate High fructose Corn Syrup, Trans-fats, or give tax breaks for people who exercise, etc...)
No overt ageism, ableism or fat-hating there, huh? I replied:
How do I know they are disabled? It's Kentucky, and they are likely coal miners who breathed too much coal dust... that's the reason for the oxygen, which you can't get without a prescription. And why don't you know that? It's easy to see what kind of crowd you hang with.

And that is exactly my point... thank you for making it for me so well.
...

On another note, it just kills me that some of the hardest working people on the planet are assumed to be lazy, instead of their bodies breaking down from overwork and coal mining... when your body breaks down, exercise is terribly painful. I assume everyone knows that too, but I suddenly get it. As Michael Harrington said in THE OTHER AMERICA (paraphrasing): they just don't see these people for who they really are, and how they hold everything together.--DD 10/1/10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disabled sue South Carolina over Medicaid cuts

Because my local newspaper is attempting to make me pay for news (((laughs ruefully!))), it has been far more difficult than usual to get the required information to blog decently about this sordid state of affairs, but hopefully, this is complete enough for now.

I got this from the Myrtle Beach Sun--although it was originally published in the Greenville News. (cheapskates! greedheads!)

Disabled sue state over Medicaid cuts
By Eric Connor
The Greenville News

Lawyers for a group of disabled people are suing the state over its move to cut benefits for those who rely on government-funded home care, a decision they say violates the patients' civil rights and threatens to force people into institutions who don't belong in them.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the group and for the state will argue in U.S. District Court in Greenville over whether a preliminary injunction should be granted preventing state agencies from limiting the federal Medicaid funding the patients receive for community-based care.

The agencies responsible for administering the care - the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs - argue that tough economic times require cuts in services and that other options to prevent institutionalization are available.

Several Upstate residents with mental disabilities have sued the governor and two state agencies in Greenville federal court over controversial cuts to their in-home care, claiming the devastating reductions are forcing people into institutions in violation of federal law.

The residents, identified by first name and last initial, allege in the suit that Gov. Mark Sanford and the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, as well as the agency that administers its Medicaid programs, have discriminated against them by cutting off their social life and causing their isolation in residential facilities that will ultimately cost more taxpayer money.
DDSN spokeswoman Lois Park Mole and Sanford spokesman Ben Fox said they couldn't comment on pending litigation.

A North Carolina advocacy group argues a state agency's plans with personal care service benefits would violate the rights of patients and discourage them from independent living.

Disability Rights North Carolina wrote to federal Medicaid regulators asking them to reject proposals by the state Department of Health and Human Services and to the U.S. Justice Department asking it ensure the state complies with federal law.

A plan approved by the Legislature directs health officials to replace programs that give recipients living at home help bathing, cooking and other needs. Group executive director Vicki Smith wrote last week more than 20,000 patients could lose their services without appeals

Families of the disabled across South Carolina are carrying an added burden, facing with considerable fear the prospect that lifelines they have come to depend on will be cut in state government's deep reduction in services.

And they are concerned about government secrecy and that the agency largely responsible for controlling how they live their lives goes through an open process of deliberation with full transparency.

"There are a lot of us that are going to be right on top of them constantly to make sure that these things get out in public," said Greenville resident Leanne Hopkins, who has a son with cerebral palsy.

Scores of people convicted of crimes such as rape, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are permitted to care for some of California's most vulnerable residents as part of the government's home health aide program.

Data provided by state officials show that at least 210 workers and applicants flagged by investigators as unsuitable to work in the program will nonetheless be allowed to keep their jobs or begin employment.

State and county investigators have not reported many whose backgrounds include violent crimes because the rules of the program, as interpreted by a judge earlier this year, permit felons to work as home care aides. Thousands of current workers have had no background checks.

The state's troubled mental health system faced another setback Monday when an advocate for the mentally ill named last week to run the agency withdrew from the post due to a flap over some tax problems at the group he ran.

John Tote, who until recently was the executive director of the Mental Health Association in North Carolina, and Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler announced that he won't become the next state mental health director. Tote's departure came on the same day he was slated to report to work for the state. Cansler and Tote said public discussion about payroll tax issues was too distracting at a time when the focus needs to be on helping patients and their families.

Gov. Mark Sanford has also been sued, but he has argued that he doesn't have direct control over the allocation of funds.

In court filings, the three Upstate plaintiffs allege that the DDSN claimed to suffer budget shortfalls but in fact had a $7.8 million "excess funds" account and used $2.6 million to buy real estate for support agencies in West Columbia and in Beaufort and Horry counties.

In addition, plaintiffs' attorney Patricia Harrison argues in court filings that talks about cutting services first occurred in 2008, when a budget crisis existed.

However, the federal government in February 2009 provided more than $195 million in stimulus funding to prop up Medicaid services, Harrison wrote, and when the decision to cut home-care services was made the DDSN was holding $34 million in stimulus funds and paid $30 million of it into a "rainy day" fund."

Also, Harrison wrote, the cost of providing home care to disabled people costs less than putting their care in the hands of an institution - $320 per day in an institution, $138 per day for home care.

The cuts - which are manifested in the form of a cap on the number of hours of home care a person can receive - will result in four times the amount of home-care patients being admitted into institutions, she wrote.

A lawyer for the state agencies, Kenneth Woodington, told a judge in court filings that lawyers didn't intend to file a response to the plaintiffs' "vast majority of new claims" but would do so if the judge wanted in relation to the injunction.

U.S. Magistrate Bruce Hendricks ordered that the hearing should particularly focus on whether the plaintiffs could suffer irreparable harm if services are cut.

One man in the original complaint against the agencies suffers from cerebral palsy and can only move by way of a wheelchair operated by his mouth, according to court filings.

On a given day, it can take from 8 a.m. until noon to get him out of bed, groomed and prepared to move, according to court filings.

The federal government's Medicaid program allows for a waiver so that funds that would have been used to care for a disabled person in an institution can be applied to caring for the person in a home or community setting, according to court filings.

The state is responsible for determining, through medical professionals, whether a person would benefit more from being cared for from home, according to filings.

A cut in services, Harrison wrote in her motion, would likely have the man leave behind a life as a productive member of the community and instead have him "forced to sit in an assigned seat around a table in a SCDDSN workshop with persons who have mental retardation, where the revenue from his labor will be paid to SCDDSN."

The man "lives in absolute terror of his worst nightmare coming true - being forced out of his home and moved into a congregate residence in order to receive the care he requires," Harrison wrote.

The services the man has been receiving during 2010 cost about $39,424, Harrison wrote, while institution-based services would cost about $116,000 a year.

In another case, a woman suffering from severe mental retardation is unable to speak and is subject to outbursts that put pressure on caregivers who aren't accustomed to her behavior, Harrison wrote.

The woman was once housed in an institution in Laurens County but was removed after she received unexplainable physical injuries, Harrison wrote.

The federal government's American with Disabilities Act requires that disabled people not be discriminated against and segregated from society, Harrison wrote.

"The right of persons who have mental retardation and related disabilities to live, work and play alongside their non-disabled neighbors, friends and family is no less important a civil right than the right of children of all races to attend integrated public schools," she wrote.

Attorneys for the agencies argue that the plaintiffs haven't proven that they would have to enter institutions with some cuts in their home services and in fact have other options they haven't explored.

"These plaintiffs argue that if they are not offered the richest items on the menu, they will starve," Woodington wrote. "In fact, however, there are many other possible services that could fill any gaps left by the reductions in their services, which are relatively minor in any event."

In court filings, Woodington argues that states are in compliance with the ADA if individual considerations could hurt the care of a larger population.

"The immediate relief for the plaintiffs would be inequitable," he wrote, "given the responsibility the state has undertaken for the care and treatment of a large and diverse population of persons with mental disabilities."
This is a pretty shoddy situation and I am curious what our new Wonder-Gal, the Governor-in-Waiting, Nikki Haley, has to say about it.

(Never mind, I can guess.)

What does "post-feminist" mean anyway?

Is sexism a thing of the past? Are women still discriminated against? What does "post-feminist" mean anyway?

Unless you're drinking late in some biker bar, it can be hard to prove that sexism still exists these days, what with Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin and Oprah running the joint. So, I am after some clear-cut examples that can't be dismissed (other than the usual economic stats, which I think speak for themselves, but many Men's Rights bloggers ignore as biased).

~*~

I was getting ready to link to Questioning Transphobia when, damn, wouldn't ya know? I've been banned from that blog too, by Lisa Harney.[1] (Yeah, I know... the youngsters really hate grandma these days!) I think QT is an important blog, so not de-linking in return, unless they make a point of asking me to.

In any event, I do love Queen Emily and her writing. She linked the following on Questioning Transphobia (link in sidebar, not linking in post... they probably wouldn't want me to anyway): Transgender Academics and Sexism. Check it out!

I am always fascinated when transgendered people describe (witness!) the sexism they have encountered, and chronicle the differences in the ways they are treated after transitioning to man/woman. I don't think any better witnesses concerning the realities of sexism can be found, since they really have experienced it from both sides of the gender spectrum.

And they offer concrete examples.

Lucy Miller provides the tale of two Stanford biology professors, Joan Roughgarden and Ben Barres:

While living as a woman, Ben described the various ways in which his intelligence and opinions were devalued, including having a professor say “You must have had your boyfriend solve it” after correctly solving a particularly difficult computer problem in a class at MIT. After transitioning, Ben found that people now treat him with more respect; “I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”

Joan’s experience was, not surprisingly, almost the exact opposite. As a young male professor, “it felt as though tracks had been laid down; all Roughgarden had to do was stick to the tracks, and the high expectations that others had of the young biologist would do the rest.” After publishing a paper challenging the traditional view of the role of tide pools, she received harsh reviews but her “ideas were taken seriously.” After transitioning, Joan “said she no longer feels she has ‘the right to be wrong.’” She found the reception to be very different when she challenged Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Instead of engaging with her about her theory, many scientists would yell at her and be physically intimidating. “At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis, Joan said, a prominent expert jumped up on the stage after her talk and started shouting at her.” When asked about interpersonal changes after transitioning, Joan said that “‘You get interrupted when you are talking, you can’t command attention, but above all you can’t frame the issues.’”[2]
FRAME THE ISSUES!

I am writing that down, for my own ongoing edification: FRAME. THE. ISSUES.

Why are women unable to frame the issues? This is a HEAVY question, and until we answer it... well, we won't be able to frame the issues.

And this is the crux of the matter: who is doing the framing? For instance, in my comments on this thread, I was not able to make my point very well, since I didn't have the language. Now I do!: Women do not frame the issues. (Thank you Dr Roughgarden!)

Danny writes, on being a man:
What I think the hard part of this is going to be is how to get men to realize that we don’t have to suffer in silence and getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk. Now I know to some of you that last part may sound weird. It probably sounds weird because in your mind men don’t need help speaking up because of male privilege (and if you think male privilege mitigates away our harms and pain then to the devil with you). Well let me ask you something. If men are so privileged then why do people proceed to flip the fuck out when we say something that is real but not politically correct? If I talk about how attractive Julianna Margulies and Vivica Fox are and one bats an eye but if I start to go into how I was picked on by girls in school and people think something is wrong with me.
Does anybody think anything is wrong with Danny? I don't. Nobody I know would say that. (?) Who and what is he talking about?

I replied:
getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk.

(((blinks in amazement)))

Okay, results of random experiment. I just flipped the channels on my TV, about 30-40 channels. (I stopped at OXYGEN, Oprah’s network.) I saw: Men talking, talking, talking. Andy Cohen, Larry King, Dr Phil, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, hip-hop stars I don’t know the names of, athletes I don’t know the names of, country and western stars I don’t know the names of, various politicians, Barack Obama, some guy on the BBC, Charlie Rose, Rahm Emmanuel, Anderson Cooper, et. al.

I saw: Women acting, singing, posing, selling cleaning fluids and nylons, bitching to Dr Phil, but men are the ones doing the talking about the important stuff that runs the world and makes the bucks.

The only women I found voicing actual independent opinions were 1) Joy Behar and 2) The Real Housewives of D.C. (In another hour, Rachel Maddow will get re-broadcast, but this is a RANDOM experiment!)

So, when you make a statement like the one above? Most women just shake their heads and move on. My first reaction:
Danny, are you kidding?!?

How do you account for the difference in what you have said vs the results of my random media experiment? I could repeat it at virtually any hour of the day, and still get the same basic results.

So I am unsure of what you are talking about.
And a minor brawl ensues henceforth.

April comments that Danny should have said "let us emote" rather than "let us talk"... but see, I am not sure that is what he means. I think men often use TALKING as a way to AVOID emoting.

I think the problem is that women can not frame the issues, not that we need to be Anderson Cooper, et. al.

Comments welcome, particularly if you can say any of this better than I can!


~*~


[1] Lisa said "I'm banning you from my blog"--I had thought it was a group blog, but I guess it actually belongs to Lisa? I didn't realize this, since I rarely read her posts and usually just skip to Queen Emily's.

[2] Speaking of concrete examples, Danny's post about gender differences among kids being exhorted to fight (by their parents), is also good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I don't even wanna talk about it

I hope everyone is having a great Monday. I am not, but as described on Saturday, not much I can say at this time.

I will say: If you live in a HOUSE, just be grateful that you do not have to deal with lunatics mere feet away from you. If you live in an apartment, you probably know exactly the sort of thing I refer to ... or close enough!

I have featured fabulous Helena Kallianiotes here before; I think it was last summer. It is time for a reprise!

This is series of clips from the film Five Easy Pieces (1970). Helena, Jack Nicholson's hitchhiker-from-hell, explains, well, what's wrong with everything.

I know exactly how she feels. Crap and more crap and more crap....

~*~

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The house is rockin, still I gotta go in

It has been a somewhat hellish weekend so far, but unfortunately, can't blog about any of it. (If you're my friend, send me a Facebook message and I will be more than happy to vent privately!) I'll just say: apartment living has its definite drawbacks, as I have previously written in this space. (And I will leave the rest to your feverish imaginations.)

This afternoon, went down to the Grand Opening of the new Yoga place. Now, why did I drive to the old Yoga place? ((sigh)) Not paying any fucking attention ... see aforementioned description of hellish weekend. Obviously, if it's a GRAND OPENING (duh!) it's a NEW place... but I was momentarily confused since it's the 6th anniversary of the old place, too, and they were doing special events there as well.

So I finally get to the new place, just in time for them to be all done. :(
My personal yoga instructor-friend was finished, and yes, I want my FRIEND, please. It's not a lot to ask! (If I ever move to a large city, I will miss knowing everyone in town!) So, drove home and waited for more shit to hit the fan, as it undoubtedly will.

I practiced breathing while I drove, so that should count for something.

Decided to share some recent favorite reads:

:: The Tea Party's anarchist streak, by Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek:

What’s distinctive about the Tea Party is its anarchist streak—its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns.

In this sense, you might think of the Tea Party as the right’s version of the 1960s New Left. It’s a community of likeminded people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order. But where the New Left was young and looked forward to a new Aquarian age, the Tea Party is old and looks backward to a capitalist-constitutionalist paradise that, needless to say, never existed. The strongest note in its tannic brew is nostalgia. Tea Partiers are constantly talking about “restoring honor,” getting back to America’s roots, and “taking back” their country.

How far back to take it back is one of the questions that divides the movement. The tricorn-hat brigade holds the most extreme libertarian view: a constitutional fundamentalism that would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers. The Roanoke Tea Party, for example, proposes a Freedom for Virginians Act, which would empower the state to invalidate laws it deems unconstitutional. It’s been settled business that you can’t do this since the Supreme Court decided McCullough v. Maryland in 1819, but never mind. [Glenn] Beck, a century more modern, feeds his audience quack history that says the fall from grace was the progressive era, when Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson introduced socialism into the American bloodstream.

Other than nostalgia, the strongest emotion at Tea Parties is resentment, defined as placing blame for one’s woes on those either above or below you in the social hierarchy. This finds expression as hostility toward a variety of elites: the “liberal” media, “career” politicians, “so-called” experts, and sometimes even the hoariest of populist targets, Wall Street bankers. These groups stand accused of promoting the interest of the poor, minorities, and immigrants—or in the case of the financiers, the very rich—against those of middle-class taxpayers.

Anti-elitism is hardly a fresh theme for Republicans. But here too, the Tea Partiers take it to a new level. The most radical statement of individualism is choosing your own reality, and to some in the Tea Party, the very fact that experts believe something is sufficient to disprove it. The media’s insistence that Barack Obama was born in the United States, or that he is a Christian rather than a Muslim, merely fuels their belief to the contrary. Other touchstones include the view that Obama has a secret plan to deprive Americans of their guns, that global warming is a leftist hoax, and that—according to Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell—there’s more evidence for creationism than for evolution.
As I said in my piece on GOING ROGUE, the mainstream media's trashing of the Tea Party just continually backfires, and I think that is a good analysis of why it does.

:: Gleen Greenwald takes this a bit further in his Salon piece on Christine O'Donnell (Tea Party candidate for Senate; surprise-winner of the recent Delaware primary) and the outright classism in the mainstream media's attacks.

For example, Karl Rove mounted his platform to detail O'Donnell's lifetime of financial difficulties and why that means she is not a good candidate. On the contrary, as Greenwald writes, that might be her only characteristic that most people could readily identity with:
Most people are not like Rove's political patron, George W. Bush, who was born into extreme family wealth. O'Donnell's financial difficulties, which Rove [described in detail on TV], and [was] implicitly condemning, are far from unusual for ordinary Americans. In 2009 alone, there were 2.8 million home foreclosures. Contrary to what Rove is trying to imply, an inability to pay one's college tuition bills or a struggle with taxes are neither rare nor signs of moral turpitude. Those are common problems for a country whose middle class is eroding as the rich-poor gap rapidly widens. If the kinds of financial struggles O'Donnell has experienced are disqualifying from high political office, then we will simply have an even more intensified version of the oligarchy which our political system has become.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion, at least for me, that, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, much of the discomfort and disgust triggered by these Tea Party candidates has little to do with their ideology. After all, are most of them radically different than the right-wing extremists Karl Rove has spent his career promoting and exploiting? Hardly. Much of the patronizing derision and scorn heaped on people like Christine O'Donnell have very little to do with their substantive views -- since when did right-wing extremism place one beyond the pale? -- and much more to do with the fact they're so . . . unruly and unwashed. To members of the establishment and the ruling class (like Rove), these are the kinds of people -- who struggle with tuition bills and have their homes foreclosed -- who belong in Walmarts, community colleges, low-paying jobs, and voting booths on command, not in the august United States Senate.

You want to know why it's so unusual for a U.S. Senate candidate to have what Rove scorned as "the checkered background" of O'Donnell, by which he means a series of financial troubles? In his interview with me earlier this week, Sen. Russ Feingold said exactly why. It's not because those financial difficulties are rare among Americans. This is why:
It's not a new thing; it's been going on for a couple of decades. If you look even in the Senate, I'm one of the very few people in there who doesn't have a net worth over a million dollars; my net worth is under half a million dollars, after all these years.
And as poor as Russ Feingold is relative to his colleagues in the Senate, he's still a Harvard Law School graduate who owns his own home and has earned in excess of $100,000 as a U.S. Senator for the last 18 years. People with unpaid Farleigh Dickinson tuition bills and home foreclosures just aren't in the U.S. Senate. And there are a lot of people -- those who see nothing wrong with the U.S. Senate as a millionaire's club and as an entitlement gift of dynastic succession -- who want to keep it that way.

And this ethos is hardly confined to admission requirements for the Senate, but extends to the entire Versailles on the Potomac generally. The Washington ruling class is embodied by the vile image of millionaire TV personality Andrea Mitchell, wife of Alan Greenspan, going on GE-owned MSNBC and announcing that it's time for ordinary Americans to "sacrifice" by giving up Social Security benefits (that she, of course, doesn't need). All sorts of right-wing extremism is tolerated and even revered in Beltway culture provided it comes from the Right People. A Washington political/media culture that rolls out the red carpet for every extremist Bush official is now suddenly offended by these Tea Partiers' extremist views? Please. What's most frowned upon is the inclusion in their circles of those Who Do Not Belong. Hence, the noses turning upward at Christine O'Donnell's lower-middle-class struggles and ordinariness as though they disqualify her for high office. If anything, one could make the case that those struggles are her most appealing -- perhaps her only appealing -- quality.

These socio-economic biases have been evident for many years. Bill Clinton's arrival in Washington caused similar tongue-clucking reactions because, notwithstanding his Yale and Oxford pedigree, he was from a lower-middle-class background, raised by a single working mother, vested with a Southern drawl, and exuding all sorts of cultural signifiers perceived as uncouth. Much of the contempt originally provoked by Sarah Palin was driven by many of the same cultural biases. As I wrote at the time, the one (and only) attribute of Palin which I found appealing, even admirable, when she first arrived on the national scene was that she came from such a modest background and was entirely self-made (Obama's lack of family connections and self-made ascension was also, in my view, one of the very few meaningful differences between him and Hillary Clinton). So much of the derision over Palin had nothing to do with her views or even alleged lack of intelligence -- George Bush, to use just one example, was every bit as radical and probably not as smart -- but it was because she hadn't been groomed to speak and act as a member in good standing of the elite class.

I'm not defending Palin or O'Donnell; they both hold views, most views, which I find repellent. But it's hard not to notice the double standard which treats quite respectfully many politicians with the right lineage who espouse views every bit as radical. This is the kind of condescension that causes Sarah Palin's anti-elitism screeds to resonate and to channel genuine resentments.
Amen, amen! Preach it! (I sorta said the same thing, not nearly as well, here.)

And what do you think of the Tea Party's rising popularity and the reasons for it?

~*~

Today's blog post title comes from my favorite Cheap Trick song.

Now, ladies and gents, this is how it is supposed to sound.

The house is rockin (with domestic problems) - Cheap Trick

<

My world is in a spin, you wanna come on in?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jill Johnston 1929-1981

At left: From Jill's website.





I started getting a buncha hits on Jill Johnston, whom I have mentioned only twice on this blog. I didn't realize she had passed, on September 18th.

Quite honestly? I was not a fan of her feminism, but her writing was wonderfully loopy and totally terrific, like merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels. She temperamentally seemed to be in direct opposition to the often-rigid, dogmatic 70s lesbian-separatism she championed. She did not become well-known until writing LESBIAN NATION: THE FEMINIST SOLUTION and decreeing that all women were lesbians, they just didn't know it yet.

And so, zany Jill, friend of Andy Warhol, Yoko and the Yippies, became a poster-girl for lesbian separatism, which was bloody weird.

The New York Times obit:

Ms. Johnston started out as a dance critic, but in the pages of The Voice, which hired her in 1959, she embraced the avant-garde as a whole, including happenings and multimedia events.

“I had a forum obviously set up for covering or perpetrating all manner of outrage,” she wrote in a biographical statement on her Web site, jilljohnston.com.

In the early 1970s she began championing the cause of lesbian feminism, arguing in “Lesbian Nation” (1973) for a complete break with men and with male-dominated capitalist institutions. She defined female relations with the opposite sex as a form of collaboration.

“Once I understood the feminist doctrines, a lesbian separatist position seemed the commonsensical position, especially since, conveniently, I was an L-person,” she told The Gay and Lesbian Review in 2006. “Women wanted to remove their support from men, the ‘enemy’ in a movement for reform, power and self-determination.”

At a debate on feminism at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1971, with Germaine Greer, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos of the National Organization for Women sharing the platform with Norman Mailer, the moderator, and with a good number of the New York intelligentsia in attendance, she caused one of the great scandals of the period.

After reciting a feminist-lesbian poetic manifesto and announcing that “all women are lesbians except those that don’t know it yet,” Ms. Johnston was joined onstage by two women. The three, all friends, began kissing and hugging ardently, upright at first but soon rolling on the floor.

Mailer, appalled, begged the women to stop. “Come on, Jill, be a lady,” he sputtered.

The filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker captured the event in the documentary “Town Bloody Hall,” released in 1979. Mary V. Dearborn, in her biography of Mailer, called the evening “surely one of the most singular intellectual events of the time, and a landmark in the emergence of feminism as a major force.”
Now, was that a fabulous Yippie action or wasn't it?


Photo of Jill Johnston from culturevulture.net


Johnston also wrote a famous article in Ms magazine, basically trashing gay men and proclaiming drag was "mockery"--unfortunately, she was the one who started that whole meme. This was when I parted company with her, Yippie roots or no, because it seemed to me, drag was subversive and pro-feminist.

Johnston later became obsessed with locating her father, which I found rather bizarre for a separatist. In fact, let me be clear: it pissed me off. Someone who rants and raves about men for a decade, gets all gooey over DAD?!? You gotta be kidding me.

And she never seemed to see any inconsistency in that. Thus, I lost respect for her as a feminist, but never as a writer.

NYT again:
Ms. Johnston continued to write on the arts but took a strong political line with a marked psychoanalytic slant evident in “Jasper Johns: Privileged Information” (1996), which explored the artist’s works as a series of evasions and subterfuges rooted in conflict about his homosexuality, and in the two volumes of her memoirs: “Mother Bound” (1983) and “Paper Daughter” (1985), both of them subtitled “Autobiography in Search of a Father.”

Jill Johnston was born on May 17, 1929, in London and taken to the United States as an infant by her mother, Olive Crowe, after her father abandoned them both. She was reared by a grandmother in Little Neck, on Long Island.

Throughout her childhood she believed that her parents had divorced, but in 1950, when The New York Times ran a short obituary about her father, an English bell maker named Cyril F. Johnston, she learned the truth.

Her mother informed her that she and Johnston had never married. A lifelong fascination with this absent figure, whose company, Gillett & Johnston, supplied bells and carillons to churches and cathedrals all over the world, motivated her to write “England’s Child: The Carillon and the Casting of Big Bells” (2008), a biography of her father and a history of bell making.
Note to Jill: fascination with papa is not feminist. And why are you allowed to get all sentimental about daddy, but *I* am not supposed to like drag or sleeping with men? Hmph.

But there is still the art and the ego that obviously made the art possible:
She developed a singular prose style — what the writer Pattrice Jones, writing in the Web magazine LesbiaNation.com in 1999, called “part Gertrude Stein, part E.E. Cummings, with a dash of Jack Kerouac thrown for good measure.”

One 1964 column began: “Fluxus flapdoodle. Fluxus concert 1964. Donald Duck meets the Flying Tigers. Why should anyone notice the shape of a watch at the moment of looking at the time?”

Ms. Johnston would soon shed this style and her amorphous politics, which she described in “Lesbian Nation” as her “east west flower child beat hip psychedelic paradise now love peace do your own thing approach to the revolution.”

In 1969, members of the Gay Liberation Front, correctly intuiting that the unidentified companion on her weekly adventures, chronicled in The Voice, was a woman, invited her to a meeting. Her political conversion began, and “Lesbian Nation” was published in 1973.
One of the best things I ever read about fame, was Johnston's account of her friendship with Yoko and John, and how Yoko couldn't go anywhere without John and vice versa. Jill wrote (paraphrasing) that if one was mega-famous, you could only be entirely yourself with people you loved and trusted, and then, you needed them around you all the time to remind you of who you really are.

I think of this concept often, whenever I think of the lack of privacy of the very famous. As a kid, I had wanted to be famous (like so many people) and after reading that passage as a teenager, changed my mind. It brought fame up close and personal to me, and I decided I didn't want any part of it.

Jill demystified and debunked FAME for me, and I owe her for that. That is why I am writing this.

Jill is survived by her spouse Ingrid Nyeboe, 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

Rest in Peace, Jill.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Barbara Deming: On the necessity to liberate minds

This essay is a condensed version of a talk given by Barbara Deming in Palo Alto, California in 1970. It was excerpted in the anthology We Are All Part of One Another: A Barbara Deming Reader (edited by Jane Meyerding, forward by Barbara Smith), New Society Publishers, 1984.





Some months ago when I heard Cathy Melville tell the story of the DC 9's raid on the Dow Chemical office in Washington, one moment she described struck me with the force of symbolism. She told me how they had trouble getting in through the door and finally broke into the office through a glass wall. As they were going about their work in there, scattering files, pouring blood, a stranger appeared in the hall, looked in through the large break in the glass and asked, "Is anything wrong?" Cathy told him, "No, everything's all right" and he went away, apparently assured that everything was all right.

As of course it was -- for a change -- up in that office. Here was a corporation that had been making and selling the stuff with which babies are burned alive. Some people were trying to make it harder for them to do this. To most of us, I assume, that would clearly be all right.

The difficulty is of course -- the tremendous difficulty -- that to a great many Americans the act of those nine people who scattered Dow files was a much more questionable, much more disturbing act, than the act of Dow in making and selling napalm. So that the incident Cathy reported was like a war resister's dream: you are engaged in an act of interfering with the military-industrial machine -- a death machine-- and a member of the public asks you: Should I be alarmed by what you are doing? And you tell him no-- and he accepts your reassurance.

Yes, like a dream. Because in actuality, as we confront a social apparatus that seems to us flagrantly irrational, out of control in its blind quest for wealth, dealing out death both at home and abroad--dealing it out even to children, both abroad and at home, killing its own children now, clearly a machine that must be stopped---.

But I'll interrupt myself, because the imagery I just used is inadequate. If it were just that we had to stop a death-dealing machine in its tracks, this would be relatively simple to accomplish-- although we could count on being hurt in the attempt. In a society like this one, so dependent on technology-- sabotage is terribly easy. A relatively small number of people can cause a tremendous amount of damage, can throw everything into confusion. But our task is not to wreck. Our task is to transform a society that deals out death into a society that makes life more possible for all. To build such a new society, very many people are needed. So, as we strike at the machinery of death, we have to do so in a way the general population understands, that encourages more and more people to join us.

This is surely the great challenge to the movement: How to make the public understand that it's "all right" to attack the death machine--that it is necessary? How to free their minds to see this and join us?

And here is the preposterous difficulty. We are all living now in a society so deranged that it confronts us not only with the fact that we are committing abominable crimes against others--crimes we shouldn't be able to live with; it confronts us also with threats to our own existence that no people in history have ever had to live with before. And confronts every single member of society with these threats--even the most privileged, even those in control of things, or rather, out of control of them. Confronts us, in the name of "defense," with the threat of nuclear annihilation. Confronts us, in the name of "national profit," with the threat that our environment may be completely destroyed. The society is this insanely deranged. And yet--we have to face the strange fact that most people are very much less terrified of having things continue as they are than of having people like us try to change things radically.

For most Americans are in deep awe of things-as-they-are. Even with everything this obviously out of control, they still tell themselves that those in authority must know what they are doing, and must be describing our condition to us as it really is; they still take for granted that somehow what is, what is done, must make sense, can't really be insane. These assumptions exercise a tyranny over their minds. Those of us committed to try and bring about change have above all to reckon with this tyranny, have above all to try to find out how to relieve men of it.

I read this past winter of a specially painful example, read in the Times the story of Michael Bernhardt, who was the young soldier who was the first to talk about the massacre at Songmy [later known as My Lai]. He had volunteered for service in Vietnam, full of faith in the words he had heard from his leaders about what this country was trying to do over there. He found himself almost immediately in the action at Songmy. He didn't take part in the killing. As his comrades began to shoot old people, women, babies--the reporter quotes him: "I just looked around and said, 'This is all screwed up.'" But after the action it took him quite a while to come forward and talk about it. Because he quickly experienced the eerie feeling that neither those in command of the war nor most Americans would agree with him. There is an almost unbearable passage in the story where he is quoted as saying, "Maybe this is the way wars really were...I felt like I was left out, like maybe they forgot to tell me something, that this was the way we fought wars, and everybody knew but me." The reporter writes then that the clash between this experience he had at Songmy and his convictions about his country is still something he cannot resolve. "It became almost a question of sanity." But, he writes, "if he were forced to pick, he would choose his convictions over his experiences." He quotes him as insisting, "We hold out a hope, you know."

A terrible story, and one worth being very attentive to. Here was a young man who was exceptional. He did not take part. He saw the action for what it was: all screwed up. And yet-- he did not know how to cope afterwards with this vision. It just made him feel left out. Because he suffered from the bondage I speak of--the awe of what is, of what is done. He suffered from the anxious sense that if one isn't part of it, whatever it is, one is then nowhere. And so in effect he dismisses the insight he had. Or does his best to. He chooses not to accept the truth of his own experience but something he has been told is truth: that our country "holds out a hope."

The question is: How do we cure men of this bondage? And of course, how do we cure our own selves more completely? How do we set all of us free to trust our experiences of the truth that everything is all screwed up?

....

How can we release the minds of more and more men to be able to see this? See it not just as a nightmare suffered that one tries to put out of mind; see it as meaning that we have to act to change things altogether. How do we give people the courage to trust that if they name things-as-they-are insane, they will not in doing so simply find themselves adrift?

....

[In our radical acts] We must be saying: Don't be afraid of us. It is the system that we are attacking that you need to fear--that all of us need to fear. For it is reckless with lives. But we are not. Don't fear us. What we seek is precisely a new community of men in which we are all careful of each other--and of the natural world around us. And look, we are beginning to build that world right now, in our relations with each other, in our relations even with you.

Don't be afraid of us. We are trying to release men from their fear.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What you see is what you get

Happy birthday to me!

The following song was used over the credits of the film WATTSTAX (1973), which of course, you have seen many times and own the special-edition, re-issued DVD and everything.

Wait, you haven't?!?

Well, have a listen then. :)

This song totally expresses how I feel and always has, from the time I first heard it as a young 70s ruffian. It always reminds me of who I am, as they say. (My late friend Van always said, you either instantly identify with the song, or you don't.) I decided to use it as my official birthday tune... also, I know lots of you kidz never heard it before, and YOU MUST.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

~*~


What you see is what you get - The Dramatics (opening credits from WATTSTAX, 1973)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

More fun in the Carolina sun

At left: Frank Murray, Sen. Glenn McConnell in a Union uniform, and Sharon Cooper-Murray. (Photo from the Columbia State)





I never knew Senator McConnell was once in a movie about the Hunley... I assume it was The Hunley (1999), the most well-known cinematic account... where he got to play Civil War dress-up as a movie extra. (And FTR, I think it's perfectly fine when grown men engage in Cos-Play, but I wish they'd just own up to what they're doing!)

As for these photos, though? Dumbfounding. McConnell is a Confederate re-enactor, so is anybody really surprised?

From FITSNEWS:

The National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) held its annual fall Board of Directors meeting in Charleston, S.C. last weekend – a decision the organization is likely regretting after several controversial pictures from one of the meeting’s sponsored events began surfacing on the internet.

One of the pictures shows S.C. Senate President Glenn McConnell - who FITS readers will recall enjoys dressing up as a Confederate General – posing in his Rebel garb with a pair of African-Americans dressed in, um, “antebellum” attire.

The event in question – dubbed “A Southern Experience” – was held last Friday evening at the Country Club of Charleston. Hosted by the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women, it was included on the national conference’s official itinerary.

In addition to McConnell, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford attended (and spoke at) the event – although it was not listed on his weekly public schedule. S.C. Republican Attorney General nominee Alan Wilson also attended.

Invited speakers to the NFRW conference included U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Rep. Joe Wilson, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, former U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins and GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley.
Many more photos at the link, all posted right on FACEBOOK.

From Roddie Burris of the Columbia State, by way of the Spartanburg Herald:
A photo of Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, outfitted in a Union Navy captain's uniform and posing with two African-Americans dressed in “slave garb,” is making the rounds on the Internet.

McConnell, easily the most powerful state senator, said the photo depicts friends greeting each other after a re-enactment performance to showcase several genres of South Carolina history to conferees from across the country. The picture was taken during a Republican women's conference in Charleston last week.

But the image — with the slave dress, the period military uniform and McConnell, who is widely known in South Carolina for his avid participation in Civil War re-enactments and for preserving the Confederate Hunley submarine — is viewed by some as offensive.

McConnell, a Charleston Republican, said the uniform he's wearing in the picture is the same uniform he wore in a movie about the Hunley, in which he had a nonspeaking role. He also points out he is not wearing a Confederate uniform, but a Union uniform that the hosts asked him to wear.

McConnell said there is nothing racist about the picture and people should “receive (the re-enactment and subsequent photo) in the spirit in which it was presented that evening,” meaning a learning experience.

But others say the image evokes painful memories of historic oppression in this state, as South Carolina once had the nation's second-largest slave port in Charleston, where the photo was snapped.

“That's the senator's unfortunate world view,” said Rev. Joe Darby, first vice president of the state NAACP, speaking of the photo depicting a Civil War era white military officer alongside black slaves. “The troubling question is how much does his world view affect his approach to public policy?”

Yet to be seen is how much such an image might affect the Republican Party, which has been trumpeting its gains among minorities this year.
Ya think?

I'm more amazed by how they're not ashamed of anything they do.

Which brings me to...

Rebel Jim DeMint sparks GOP Senate civil war
By MANU RAJU
Updated: 9/16/10
POLITICO
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint accidentally walked into a room full of lobbyists Wednesday morning and declared that “Republicans are not prepared to take over the Senate,” according to people in the room.

Some Republicans agree — and say he may be part of the reason why.

Senate Republicans are now even more embroiled in an intraparty civil war in which DeMint has been the lead rebel, and the victory by conservative Christine O’Donnell over establishment favorite Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware only deepened GOP divisions that could haunt Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell well into next year.

Behind closed doors Wednesday, Republican senators tried to assess the damage. Several senators at the lunch, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, raised concerns that the party has sent a message that it had no room for moderates, even from left-leaning states, according to people familiar with the exchanges. And others expressed frustration that the GOP had essentially given away a pivotal seat that Castle could have won.

DeMint was pressed by several of his colleagues at the closed-door session Wednesday to pony up money from his high-spending political action committee to boost O’Donnell’s chances against Democrat Chris Coons, who already leads by double digits in a race that was a Republican lock had Castle won.

“In other words, put your money where your mouth is,” said a senior Republican official, who characterized the exchange as cordial.

DeMint agreed that he would — and tried to play the role as a peacemaker.

“Every Republican senator has a responsibility to help Christine build the resources she needs to win in November,” DeMint told POLITICO. “The primaries are over, and now is the time to unify as a party. I’m certainly going to do everything I can to support Christine and other Republican candidates to defeat the Democrats this fall, and I expect others to do the same.”

A DeMint aide said the senator’s PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, was on pace to raise $100,000 by the end of Wednesday, with an initial goal of dumping $174,000 into the race.
Read the whole thing.

THIS is the kinda thing I was talking about, when I wrote "What's the matter with South Carolina?"... the MAJOR POLITICAL ERROR, wherein progressives and liberals decided to write off our state. This was a huge mistake. Not simply for the (I hope) obvious reasons, but because it gave the American Tea Party-Right wing a consolidation-point, a working power-base of operations.

The Upstate, my district, Jim DeMint's home (he lives only a couple of miles from here), is GROUND ZERO of the Right-wing network. They can do all of this meddling in the affairs of OTHER PLACES (like your district) since they face no genuine electoral threat from progressives at home. We have been neutralized, so they are free to do what they want, which means no end of the mischief.

See, what if you had funded us ON THE GROUND, like before DeMint even got into the Senate, and was still in the House? How might that have worked out?

During this next autumn, as you watch Nikki Haley light up network TV as designated Tea Party darling, think it over.

Get back to us, we're here. Take a lesson from the Tea Party, and consider funding the insurgents for a change.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Music: Dreams I'll never see

Yes, I am at last prepared for Monday Music!

~*~

I discovered fabulous Ella Mae Morse through the totally indispensable Reverend Billy's Rhythm Revival, which we faithfully listen to every Saturday Night on WNCW ... behold the wonderful Miss Ella Mae!

(Apparently, the line "he was raised on local ways"--was originally, "he was raised on loco weed"--LOL.)

Ella Mae Morse - Cow Cow Boogie



~*~

Chris Stein's clangy guitar-impersonations of Duane Eddy are all up in my head, since I've heard this song about 3 times in the past week. The kids at work love 80s nostalgia, which is (oh dear God) from their childhoods! (Feel old yet?)

And now I am EARWORMED to death by Debbie Harry ... To-niiiiight, To-niiiiiiiiiiiight... and if I have to suffer with it, so do you.

Blondie - Atomic



~*~

Too personal to discuss, even for me...this is a beautiful song, which is engraved upon my heart forever (and the source of today's blog post title)...

I've had a very hard time locating it, which means it will probably get yanked by YouTube/Warner Music Group/Blue Meanies within the week. Listen to these sweepingly-lovely southern riffs now!

Allman Brothers Band - Dreams

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Get me wardrobe!

Over the weekend, we very much enjoyed the film Hollywoodland (2006).






Even more than fabulous Adrien Brody, even more than the presence of legendary veteran character actress Lois Smith, and even more than the entertaining, LA-Confidentialish tale based on juicy Hollywood rumors surrounding the death of George Reeves...I loved the clothes!!!!

I kept getting distracted by the continuous Hit Parade of wonderful late-50s era dresses, blouses and accessories--even the men's shirts were terrific. And every outfit was utterly perfect for the character who wore it.

The costume designer for Hollywoodland was tremendously talented JULIE WEISS, who has designed clothes for a variety of films including American Beauty, Frida and A Simple Plan. (I also loved her flamboyant showgirl costumes and sky-diving Elvises in Honeymoon in Vegas!) She could easily go into business for herself... although if she did, I doubt regular folks could afford anything so wonderful.

Throughout the movie, I just kept thinking, WOW, I'd love to wear that!

Some of my favorites of Weiss' great outfits in Hollywoodland are below, worn by cast members Robin Tunney, Caroline Dhavernas, Diane Lane, Kathleen Robertson and Ben Affleck. (At least two other incredible dresses, could not locate the movie stills.)

~*~






Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday with the Duke, meditations on fat...

I dunno why I watch reruns of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in McLintock! (1963)... because I am a glutton for punishment?

The movie amazes me in its "playful" but violent sexism; the way the music goes all cutesy flutes-and-piccolos-and-pipes when he is chasing her around and eventually forcibly carries her up the stairs, Rhett Butler-style. She is still issuing orders to her black servant as he carries her backwards to the second floor, to have his way with her. Now, I ask you: is that cute or what?

I have written here before of how uncomfortable I am with the old movies I am simultaneously addicted to. I have also written of how common it is, in these old films, to find something horrifyingly reactionary right next to something progressive. In McLintock, John Wayne takes up for the beleaguered Comanche Nation, who get thoroughly shit on in no uncertain terms. As a kid, I remember watching this movie; it was my first real education regarding Native American rights (or lack of them) and what had actually occurred in the Old West. Remember, we were all raised on "bad Indian" history lessons, and the whole truth was not presented to the masses until Dee Brown's landmark bestseller, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.(1970) [1] My mother read passages of the book out loud to us, with an incredulous tone in her voice. Most of us had no knowledge of the history of broken treaties and lies; our history books unambiguously portrayed the Indians as bloodthirsty killers that needed to be 1) wiped out or 2) converted. Ironically, the same movies that slandered the Indians, also reminded us that they were human beings, they had their own ways. The movies, then, were subversive.

And so, we get a movie that tells the kids: The Comanches got messed over. And then, the same movie joyously-endorses spanking grown women; it famously winds up with bitchy Maureen getting turned over John Wayne's knee for some good old-fashioned discipline, as the wild-west crowd (who hate these uppity red-headed broads from back East) cheer him on. (Stefanie Powers, the Duke's daughter, is also spanked by her boyfriend, while the cutesy flutes play on in the background and Dad chortles delightedly.) Lots of talk about manhood in this movie, and what it means to be a man. For George Washington McLintock, not surprisingly, manhood is some heavy patriotic assignment from God Almighty. (The Comanche, too, proclaim they will not take charity from whites, which is for the widows and orphans; they are MEN and will die like warriors.) This movie is a whole tutorial in manhood, and the proper place of MEN, even as it extends empathy to the indigenous people... but wait, not all of them. The MEN. The Comanche males are given a voice here, but their concerns are all about their vanquished manhood, not the fate of their tribe and nation. (And does anyone believe that? Sounds like more John Wayne, doesn't it?)

I watch this stuff to look for progress, since it sometimes appears that there is none. But watching this, I assure you, there is!

And another thing, common to old Hollywood westerns: The horses look sick and overworked. At the end credits, I didn't see any such, "No animals were harmed during the making of this picture," and highly doubt they could make that claim.

:(


~*~

The Fat Wars in Feminist Blogdonia rage ever onward. The Feministe "Fat and Health" thread nearly blew up feminist Blogdonia. There is currently an "answer post" by Zuzu, titled "Fat and Health, A Response" with another accompanying endless thread. This time, no "fuck yous" and so on (as I wrote back on September 3). It's most decidedly a love-in, as everyone blows kisses to Zuzu for restoring order and assuring everyone that there is no connection between fat and... well, apparently anything.

But as I read the piece, a few things jumped right out at me.

I have been wondering why I don't understand what is being discussed, exactly, and I think the light is dawning. Once again: class and age.

Question: Is this how a lone black woman feels when they enter a room and all the white women are talking about how they fix their hair? Uncomfortable, disconnected?

And here it is: I don't know what lots of these fat women are talking about, and it's time I came right out and said so.

Example, Zuzu says weight and eating are not connected. Of course it is. For me, it certainly is, and for the hundreds (thousands?) of people I have talked to about fat on my job, it most assuredly is. I hear about bad food choices due to no time for preparation (the appearance of the home-microwave and the incidence of increasing obesity are a definite correlation!), no places to exercise, no time to walk anywhere (not even into a building from the lower parking lot), no opportunities for fitness at all. In the thread, folks assure us that changing this state of affairs is good, and yet at the same time, tell us that obesity is okay. But both realities can't be true; the first situation has in fact CAUSED the other.

Zuzu claims Monica's original post seemed to highlight the "moral failings" of fat people. Then I got it, at least some of it: If you admit that food makes people fat, then people are bad for eating too much food. Therefore, food doesn't make people fat, since we have to be nice to everyone, and that is regarded as a rude thing to say. (It's a lot like Chris Prentiss' approach to addiction at his classy Malibu treatment center: His first step is to NOT call you an addict and make you feel bad.)

Being fat is no moral failing. Being an addict or alcoholic is ALSO not a moral failing (yes, I just compared them).[2] Oppressive, harried, breakneck-paced modern capitalist American life works on us all in different ways; I don't know anyone who emerges totally unscathed. Some of us smoke pot to relieve stress, some of us exercise or do yoga to relieve stress, some of us eat to relieve stress, some of us drink vodka to relieve stress, some go to BigPharm to relieve stress, some come to me and ask for herbs to relieve stress.

The common element? The stress. Where is all the STRESS coming from? Hm. Let me guess.

In my case, I can easily eat a lot, and I love food. In my prime, I could have been in one of those bizarre eating contests on TV; I have the capacity to pack it in as fast as any of those guys. I can take in amazing amounts of food. [3] Everyone in my family could also eat amazing amounts, and did. And we were all fat. If anything, we should have been lots bigger.

And you know, I will not shut up about that fact, simply because the Fat Acceptance Police have decided that truth, my truth, is the enemy. It is true. And you know what? I also know that my family ate MORE because they were fucking exhausted all the time, and that is the truth, too. But I read precious little about the relationship between hard work and appetite in that thread. I think most of those women are (like Zuzu) well-educated, elite professionals (which is why I found the chorus of "fuck yous" in the first thread, so surprising).

~*~

And the term "fat shaming" keeps annoying me. What is all this "fat shaming" I keep hearing about? What exactly is "fat shaming"? Why is anyone ashamed? Seriously, I'm asking. Why are self-defined feminists complaining about being ashamed of their size? How can you be ashamed without your consent? The task is to NOT BE ASHAMED--not to rearrange reality so fat is actually a good thing, so there is nothing to be "ashamed" of.

In addition, all the fuss about doctors blew my mind. Maybe because I have worked for so many (and listened to them and transcribed their meandering, solipsistic, often silly nonsense), they don't automatically command my respect or impress me much. (M.D. = Medical Deity, but not to me.) All this fear of going to doctors to avoid some arrogant bullshit? (My experience has shown me that many actually specialize in arrogant bullshit, so I am usually impressed when they don't act like that.) But AVOIDING the doctor for this reason? You gotta be kidding me. It's YOUR money; if you are in the USA, you are paying for this shit! They work for you. Why are you putting up with this stuff?

Examples, for your edification:

:: When one doctor said to me, lose weight, I gave him my standard reply: I didn't come here for that, thanks. "Well, that's my opinion," he said, and I said, "Duly noted." He didn't press the issue.

:: Another time: The good doctor kept pressing the issue: lose weight, lose weight, "blah blah blah would be better if you lost weight, blah blah blah," I stopped him, carefully looked him right in the eye and said, "About the weight? I. Have. Heard. You." and made it very clear, any more weight-blather would be VERY UNWELCOME. He stopped.

:: Another time, when asked by a doctor in the first five seconds (the health matter was totally unrelated): "Don't you think you should lose weight?" I asked him, "Don't you think you should want me to pay for this visit?" That always strikes right to the heart of the matter, I've discovered, for just about everyone (in the USA, anyway).

In another words: BE A BIG GIRL, Jesus H. Christ, what the hell happened to feminists? It used to mean you were a PROUD BITCH who didn't TAKE NO SHIT.

When I read "fat shaming" I think of little orphan-waifs weeping and blowing their noses after someone calls them fatty. That was me as an 11-year-old, but I grew out of it. By the time I was 13, whenever these asshole boys would scream "Fat Ass!" at me out the windows of cars, I gave them the finger and told em what I thought of their manners in no uncertain terms, which is even more unprintable than my usual rants. As a young feminist, just discovering the Second Wave, I loved cussing them out and actually regarded it as my FEMINIST DUTY, since I didn't know any other feminists besides my mother. (I decided they needed to hear it!) And my mother had given me permission to use the nastiest words of all, for the boys who yelled at me. My joy over my newly-expanded vocabulary easily eclipsed any upset I may have had over being called "Fat Ass!" (Sometimes, I would even come home disappointed no boys had yelled anything, so eager was I to try out the Forbidden Vocabulary.) Mostly what I noticed was how I would get wolf-whistles AND "Fat Ass!" --sometimes in the very same day. I realized, this was proof of men's inferior, confused sensibilities, they can't even decide if I am supposed to be attractive or not, poor saps. Tsk tsk. My feminism got stronger and stronger.

"Fat Ass!" used to piss me off a lot, but never made me ashamed. [4]

Moral of MY story: Good God, girls, show some gumption!

I am very tired of the whole VICTIM CHIC, and yes, I am aware of how damnably libertarian that sounds. The libertarians in my readership (quite a few) are likely chuckling in delight.

~*~

Another thing I thought of was the Bernard conference, wherein the Second Wave officially imploded. And it imploded over orthodoxy/dogma, the particular dogma being SEX:

Perhaps the most famous confrontation in the lesbian sex wars occurred in 1982 at a conference at Barnard College in New York City. Organized under the title "The Feminist and the Scholar IX," the conference brought together a diverse group of feminist thinkers and activists to consider the complex relationship between pleasure and danger.

Local radical feminists deemed some of the topics offensive and attempted to shut the conference down, claiming it promoted anti-feminist values. Protesters handed out leaflets describing individual speakers as sexual "deviants." Clearly, sexuality had become a deeply divisive issue, even as the focus on such issues as s/m, pornography, and censorship obscured other feminist and lesbian issues related to sexuality.
I remember when Samois, the lesbian SM group, was kicked out of the San Francisco Women's Building, simply for existing.

According to Second Wave dogma, rape fantasies were an invention of male porn, women didn't really have them. No woman actually enjoyed BDSM, more male fantasies, more lies about women. "Porn tells lies about women!" was a picket-sign often held by WAP in various late-70s/early-80s demonstrations against movies (including one of my favorites, the extremely politically-incorrect DRESSED TO KILL). If it was in porn? Then you can count on it NOT being true. No women enjoy stripping, sex work, fetishes, blow jobs, anal sex, or any of that stuff. [5] Butch/femme lesbians are reactionary, and they need to wise up. Etc. The Barnard conference laid all of this bare, as some women stepped up and said, "Well, I, ummmm, kinda like some of that stuff and think we could even have some feminist versions," and the Second Wave just freaking blew up. KABOOM.

My friend asked me, "Are garter belts going to destroy feminism?" and I laughed my ass off. I never dreamed it would be true.

And now, we come to Third Wave dogma: Fat Acceptance, or Else.

It is amusing that the Third Wave even HAS dogma... mostly they have defined themselves in direct opposition to the Vicious Nun Vibe of the Second Wave: Hey, come on in! We love everybody!

Wow, I guess it turns out that they DO have some dogma, lurking in the rafters, huh? (LOL-gotcha!) And now, they are imploding from the nuclear reaction of people questioning THEIR dogma. Deja Vu all over again. (And as I wrote previously, the disintegration of the coalition, right on schedule.)

It is fascinating to me that BOTH of these dogmas are about a denial of women's appetites:

Second Wave: WOMEN DON'T LIKE BDSM, WE ARE LADIES! We aren't bad girls with bad fantasies and sexual desires! Sex is dirty!

Third Wave: FAT WOMEN DON'T GET FAT FROM EATING, WE ARE LADIES! We aren't bad girls who eat more than our share and have cravings! Food is gross!

Note the similarity.

As I said during the first Feminist Inquisition: I like the Sex Pistols, I like DRESSED TO KILL, I secretly-think all manner of politically-incorrect sexual thoughts. I am not nice. I like sex.

And now I will reprise: I like ice cream, I like cake, I secretly-wish I could eat enormous amounts of cheese with no gastronomic or caloric consequences. I am not nice. I like food.

And the house comes down!

It makes you wonder: How strong was the house to begin with?


~*~



[1] I can't imagine a history book of this kind making the bestseller lists now.

[2] And as regular readers of my blog know, I don't consider addiction a moral issue AT BASE, but a health/psychological issue.

[3] It takes an average of 8 minutes for your brain to get the "satiety" message, that you are "full". One of the secrets of eating contests, is to pack as much food in before you get that message, when you simply can't eat anymore. One interesting theory is that some folks get that satiety message "late"; most of the people in the eating contests can go up to 12-15 minutes before they feel the "stop" impulse. Maybe this is key to obesity, too: if you only get X amount of minutes to eat at work or school and you pile it all in at once, you are probably eating far more than you really need, but your brain doesn't get the chance to tell you. One of the major things I have learned is to STOP PERIODICALLY and WAIT for the damn message. For me, takes about 15 minutes, almost twice the length of a 'normal' (haha) person. I am convinced this is a huge part of how increased weight happens in our time-is-money culture.

Also, stress while eating creates indigestion problems, and is a large contributor to acid reflux. Acid reflux medications slow digestion WAY DOWN (causing weight gain, water retention and constipation) and make the problem worse. DIGESTIVE ENZYMES ARE SUPERIOR TO NEXIUM, ET AL., please try some instead of the deadly BigPharm concoctions, I guarantee you won't be sorry (speaking from experience now).

[4] I also loved the look of surprise on their faces: Sweet, blond, innocent 13-year-old Hayley Mills look-alike (only bigger), suddenly erupts into obscene invective... they just looked slack-jawed and stunned.

I loved it and felt very powerful.

[5] I can actually recall in one feminist newspaper (probably OFF OUR BACKS, but I won't swear to it), they brought in a battered-women's advocate/activist, to "refute" an SM practitioner. (?!?!?) Do you believe?!?

[6] One commenter very big on Fat Acceptance was BStu. I checked out this person's blog and the first thing I see is a Notes from the Fat-o-sphere Feed informing me that Judy Freespirit has died. I met her in San Francisco decades ago, one of those very charismatic feminists you simply never forget, and I am saddened.

RIP, dear Judy.