Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Why, oh why, isn't this a problem the good ol' market can fix? I know that since gaining some weight and being totally lost in a clothing store, I've just stopped buying clothes as frequently. Isn't there someone who wants to make products that their consumers actually like and can use? And, even if a lot of the reason these clothes aren't fitting people is psychological rather than physical, isn't there someone who wants to capitalize on my insecurities about the current incarnation of my body? Either clothing designers are complete morons, or their tactic of creating problems (you're too fat!) for their solutions (wear this girdle!) is working too well.
Friday, May 26, 2006
- The most recent Economic Policy Survey of all 50 states found Idaho’s inflation adjusted median wage (the wage of workers in the middle) is 8.5% lower now than it was 20 years ago. The lowest paid workers in Idaho lost 5% in the same time period.(link)
- Idaho employers, small and large, public and private, are cutting back on basic benefits for full-time and part-time workers, including medical, optical and dental insurance, paid vacation time, and retirement savings plans.(link)(link)
Given the timing of the release of the Idaho Fringe Benefits Survey and the results of the primary election, I think it prudent to also note that newly minted Idaho first congressional district Republican nominee Bill Sali was one of the majority Republicans who opposed raising Idaho's minimum wage from its dismal (and almost a decade old) rate of $5.15/hour. Given Sali's huge support from the anti-worker, anti-minimum-wage-hike Club for Growth, I doubt we could expect much better from Sali in the US House were he to make it there (God forbid!).
Thursday, May 25, 2006
In the meantime, Tuesday's primary in Idaho brought a lot of interesting developments to Idaho politics. Namely, the ID-o1 congressional race has brought forth Bill Sali, nutbar in the extreme, as the Republican opponent of the moderate and very competitive Democratic candidate Larry Grant. I have not at all been able to organize my thoughts on these issues, but there are plenty of Idaho bloggers - ones I hope to be meeting up with this weekend - who have. Check it out.
Red State Rebels is the blog of a Boise politico who works on the Grant campaign. Julie is pretty up-close-and personal with the Boise political scene, so check her out for the latest gossip and events.
Idablue is written by a South Idaho Democrat with a good handle on how political discourse works in this state.
Liberal Idaho is exactly what it sounds like. I like the ring of it, myself.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Sarcasm aside, blogger Glaivester, is absolutely correct that this doesn't make any sense. Where he loses me is the connection between what actually I said and the above interpretation of my real feelings. Here's the paragraph to which he took offense.
What I find to be brain-meltingly frustrating about arguing with people like this (see also here - and FYI I post on Plastic as yellownumber5) is that they seem to think that it's merely a coincidence that it's white Christian dudes who have snapped up the majority of the positions of power and the majority of the wealth in the world. Given that we do know about some blatant and some less blatant instances of bias - racism, sexism, etc - and that we don't know of any reason why white Christian dudes should be a lot better off than the rest of the inhabitants of this planet, the "it just so happens" mentality seems pretty fishy to me.That all seems pretty reasonable to me, but I'm the one who wrote it so therefore I might be a little biased. If I may elaborate a little further, I was trying to express a general desire for the government to somewhat reflect the governed. In what is supposedly a representational democracy, I find it hard to believe that there are no oppressive mindsets or mechanisms that have kept only people with XY chromosomes in the White House - and yes, I outright reject the idea that white menfolk are inherently better at living than everyone else. He has me there.
So what's the logic behind Glaivester donning his tinfoil hat? I'll let him explain.
In fact, unless you are going to argue that it is a coincidence, you are going to have to argue that the prevalence of white males in positions of power is because they have some propensity that makes them achieve more. Either that, or you have to argue that somehow, before they initially achieved power, they originally exercised white power through being dishonest and stealing it, breaking treaties, etc., and that they were better at this (or simply more immoral and willing to do it more) than other races....
So the point is that blaming racism for whites being so dominant in the world is rather ridiculous, because racism could not be institutionalized until after whits [sic] had gained dominance. So there is no sensible way to decry whites for being dominant without in some way admitting that they are more competent (on average). So Sara Anderson is in some ways admitting to some of the ideas she despises.The logical mobius strip that's being created here is truly dizzying. If I am not mistaken, Glaivester's point here is predicated on the idea that if someone has power, they must have earned it through a superior intellect or tenacity or whathaveyou. In other words, if you "admit" that one person has more power than another, then you're admitting to their inherent superiority. This seems like a bit of a stretch, since as I said originally, we have some pretty clear evidence of various roadblocks (to put it lightly) that have been set up between various peoples of color and the kind of prosperity that is generally reserved for pale guys who slick their hair back and wear monocles.
Between the impression Glaivester got, and the commenter that suggested I read Guns, Germs and Steel (I really should, now that you mention it), I guess I might have left the impression that there have been no factors in history that have affected unfair imbalances of power other than malice. On the contrary, like any good Godless evolutionist, I do understand that there's always a lucky or unlucky break that can have a radical effect on the outcome of history. Hand-in-hand with that knowledge should be idea that using unearned advantages to hoard power and resources is unfair and unethical. White people aren't more talented at business because malaria isn't endemic to Scandanavia, after all. Rich people don't have superior taste to poor people because they eat foie gras instead of Shake 'n' Bake. Glaivester is creating a moral framework to explain the maintenence of an immoral status quo. The name we have for his particular type of apologism is "racism."
After decrying those (i.e. me) who won't attribute white privilege to an inherent superiority or random chance (hint: if it keeps happening over and over again, it's not random!), he throws out every retrograde bigot's favorite guilt trip.
But I am tired of hearing whites have to apologize for their existence and their culture, and of hearing them vilified.In a word: what-the-fuck-ever. Culture is not all-or-nothing. When there are toxic parts of your culture, you need to distance yourself from them and denounce them, even if they are advantageous to you. This includes racism and sexism and the persistent paranoia that people who don't think you're superior to them are out to get you. You do need to apologize for these things when you engage in them, and you aren't a victim when you lose your ill-gotten gains.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
With all of this support, how could Johnson possibly lose?
Friday, May 19, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Is it any wonder DV has become a women’s issue? They only survey women!
That would be like only surveying women for if they have been mugged then declaring muggings a women’s issue.
Here is what it looks like when you include men in dv surveys.
Don't expect these results to ever be printed in mainstream liberal media
Posted by: Hujo | May 18, 2006 09:23 AM
I work for a DV agency, and, looking at our paperwork, "domestic violence" is a continuum that contains many, many things which, taken alone are not themselves abusive. For instance, in the "psychological abuse" column: we include insults; labelling; yelling; ignoring; blaming. These are all issues, but they aren't simply issues for battering relationships. So when I see studies, or reports of studies, that lump everything together into a single number, I get squeamish.
From a public policy perspective, I'm hesitant about not distinguishing between emotional abuse, physical violence in intimate relationships, and battering. They're linked, but they're not the same thing. Many of the people who have been physically assaulted by their partner have the capacity to report without consequences or leave their partner without assistance. Many of the people who are chronically disparaged by their partner have bad relationships, not violent ones. And there are people who are controlled by their partner by matrices of financial and emotional manipulation more subtle than this instrument is designed to report.
I've seen other studies of domestic violence with much smaller, but still shocking numbers: studies I'm more inclined to believe. In general, I'm hesitant of the willingness of DV advocates to seize upon not what the best numbers are, but what the most shocking numbers are. Any domestic violence is too much. Numbers around 24% -- the numbers I tend to believe -- are so profoundly unacceptable in a civilized nation that you don't need to expand your definitions to inflate them.
As to the study itself, looking at our own clients' reporting rate (and, hell, even their access to their own phones and mail), I'm worried that this study set the bar relatively low in order to compensate for underreports of DV. I'd be interested in how many of the people interviewed self-identified as being victims of violence within their relationship.
P.S. to Hujo: This is a study that reports incidents of violence, but not their severity. Studies like this are credible but misleading. Scroll down the page. See the part on assaults with weapons, sexual assaults, and homicides? See who's responsible? Hint: not women.
I am reminded of a story that the local batterer's treatment provider tells. He was trying to explain to a client why his violence was more important to her than her violence against him was to him. The discussion went like this:
Batt Tx: What would you do if your partner hit you as hard as they could?
Batt Tx: What would your partner do if you hit her as hard as you could?
Posted by: Andreas | May 18, 2006 01:39 PM
Yeah, its just I couldn't find a survey from the states that included men. (Funny that)
I am not claiming men get it worse, just that they are victims too, and deserve to be included in research and solutions.
Feminism stands in the way of that, it is real easy to say it is all women beating conservatives that oppose VAWA it makes for great demagogy, but the truth is, it effects men too, and it is only feminists trying to hold on to their paychecks and trying to maintain public empathy for women only that would try to deny that.
So is it about the severity of abuse? Or is it about being a victim?
Overall men are victims almost as much as women, yes that means gay men being abused by their partners but also women abusing men.
Why is it, “women are the victims and men are to blame” when it should be , in reality, “women men and children are victims, how can we help them all?”
Posted by: Hujo | May 18, 2006 02:52 PM
You're misinterpreting the right to self-defense. If someone strikes you, or appears to you have the right to act to prevent further violence. You do not have the right to shoot someone in the face because they slapped you. You do not even have the right to taser them. You have the right to protect yourself from violence. Any violence you commit yourself has to be for that purpose.
I've seen enough perpetrators offer the bullshit defense that they broke their partner's nose because their partner slapped him. Does that constitute self-defene? No. Bullshit.
Why is it that you can accept that men are responsible for crime at rates orders of magnitude higher than women in other arenas, but believe that, somehow, domestic violence has to be the one area where men and women have absolute parity?
Posted by: Andreas | May 18, 2006 02:52 PM
No. It's about the severity of abuse, Hujo. Unless you believe in infinite punishment or none at all, the severity of crimes matter. There's a difference between a traffic ticket and grand theft, and there's a difference between slapping someone and breaking their arm. Any legal system that can't take that into account produces no justice whatosever. Saying that you must be blind to the severity of the violence is exactly what I was criticizing above.
Women, men, and children are all victims of violence. That's fine. VAWA assists with all three. But insofar as VAWA provides money to get people out of domestic violence, providing money to men, women, and children equally would cause a grave injustice.
Posted by: Andreas Schou | May 18, 2006 03:02 PM
Because my friend, homelessness is a majority male issue, you can rest assured I would be opposed to the “homeless men’s act” as well, if feminists don’t inflate and twist the stats to make it about homeless women first, of course!
As mentioned by a few people a society that would do this; ignore the minority gender in any social problem, would be stagnating the minority genders support, as well as reinforcing the victim mindset “its all my fault” or “I cant be a victim”, leading to under reporting which further inflates the stats for the majority and allows for more victimization of the minority. This is flawed.
Like we see here in S’s post, psychological, emotional, mental abuse, listed as women’s issues? It’s not right. Neither is making physical abuse one.
Let us not forget the children thereare mothers that are be abusive to kids.
Honestly male on male violence is the most prevalent form of violence in the world, anyone actually need stats? (Here are some for murder) http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/gender.htm
It’s thought of as wimpy to go to the police for just getting punched around some.
Why ignore that?
Posted by: hujo | May 18, 2006 07:09 PM
From here the argument goes off-topic, but I was very amused to not only see the anti-feminist bring up his bullshit stats to a guy in the business of helping DV victims, but then try to tell the former case manager at a transitional housing facility what the score is on the issue of homelessness. Even better is that further in the argument (things had sort of veered off topic by that point, so I didn't include it), he tells ACS that his organization needs to hire male staff; ACS is a dude!* You can read the whole thing here if my cut-and-paste is too confusing.
Hujo? You are talking to the wrong person, because -- prior to being a DV advocate -- I was director of a transitional housing program. And, you know what? We provided far more apartments and beds to men than we did women, because that's where the need was. You'll find exactly the same thing in homeless shelters and transitional housing programs across the country, where -- because men are the ones more affected -- you will find more beds for men. Money goes where the need is.
Likewise, at the DV shelter where I currently work, we have a male victim of DV staying in shelter. He's the first male victim of DV we've had this year. I met with another man today. Our shelter provides shelter to men because it can, and I think it's admirable that it does, but I'm not particularly against shelters that don't. Why? Because when the proportion of men needing DV shelter services approaches 0%, 0% is the number of beds that should be available to men. Operating a shelter where 50% of the beds are full of whining abusers is not a place where I want to work.
Let me make an analogy. I'm a man. I have a disk of breast tissue about the size of a quarter underneath my nipple. There is the potential that I could come down with breast cancer. Does that make breast cancer a men's issue? Sure, we can recognize that breast cancer occurs in men as well as women, but is breast cancer gender-neutral?
This entire argument is bullshit that ultimately just empowers abusers to continue.
* On the issue of gender and violence: yes, there is far more violence between men than between men and women. Domestic violence is a wholly different beast, though. If you get in a barfight, for instance, it's unlikely that when you get home, the dude who punched you is going to be sleeping in your bed. It's unblikely that they'll have control over your finances and be able to punish you if you testify. Not so with DV. This is why -- unlike muggings -- DV requires a lot of services for the victim.
Also, women frequently abuse children. They do so more frequently than men.
Posted by: Andreas | May 18, 2006 07:39 PM
*How do I know he's a dude? I'm married to him. Great catch, eh?
First, let's explore what's going on here. A while back, I was thinking aloud about the contenders for the first district congressional race in Idaho, and apparently I gave the impression of an endorsement for Sheila Sorenson. My quote:
I have to say, if Democrat Larry Grant doesn't win the election, I would be absolutely mortified if Bill Sali were to be representing my district at a federal level. Sheila Sorenson, I could probably live with. Maybe.I will confess that I didn't make myself clear, and can understand how Republican Keith Johnson misinterpreted my stance. In fact, his campaign recently made this statement:
“2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said.”We can see that I am not the only one being unclear here, and Randy Stapilus was good enough to ask the Johnson campaign to clarify its position, with the resulting explanation that this third blogger was indeed Yours Truly.
I want to be absolutely clear here: I do not endorse Sheila Sorenson in the Republican 1st Congressional District Primary. My earlier statement was clumsy and confusing, but I am not going to make that mistake again in registering my official endorsement: I endorse Keith Johnson in this race. He has run a formiddable campaign, and I truly believe that voting for Johnson in the primary would serve the best interests of every 1st District Idahoan. I wish every Republican primary voter to consider my strong support for Johnson when they enter the voting booth. My voice may be only one, but my values are clear and now so are my loyalties. Vote for Keith Johnson.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
During the May 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that The New York Times and "many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed." O'Reilly continued: "According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tide, a rainbow coalition, if you will." O'Reilly's comments came during a discussion of opposition by the Times and others to deploying the National Guard to help secure the border.Doesn't sound so bad to me.
What I find to be brain-meltingly frustrating about arguing with people like this (see also here - and FYI I post on Plastic as yellownumber5) is that they seem to think that it's merely a coincidence that it's white Christian dudes who have snapped up the majority of the positions of power and the majority of the wealth in the world. Given that we do know about some blatant and some less blatant instances of bias - racism, sexism, etc - and that we don't know of any reason why white Christian dudes should be a lot better off than the rest of the inhabitants of this planet, the "it just so happens" mentality seems pretty fishy to me.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
So, besides staying generally healthy and maintaining a nutritious diet, a woman ought not drink, clean her litter box, or be at work. I'm not really sure what options for living your life outside a plastic bubble this allows. What's next? Warning "pre-pregnant" women against wearing shoes?
Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said.
The report recommends that women stop smoking and discuss with their doctor the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.
Research shows that "during the first few weeks (before 52 days' gestation) of pregnancy" -- during which a woman may not yet realize she's pregnant -- "exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; lack of essential vitamins (e.g., folic acid); and workplace hazards can adversely affect fetal development and result in pregnancy complications and poor outcomes or both the mother and the infant," the report states. [Emphasis mine]
These recommendations come in light of recent data that shows a very high rate of infant mortality in the US - the only developed nation whose infant mortality rate is worse is Latvia. While that's clearly a huge problem, I somehow doubt that women out living it up are the reason. If we knew women in other developed nations did not smoke or drink or work, then the CDC might be onto something.
This is just lazy policy. Instead of finding the causes of a higher infant mortality rate (Could it have something to do with a widespread lack of health coverage in this country?), the blame is being placed on women who are living normal lives. Unintended pregnancy rates are not increasing due to a lack of awareness and access to contraception - people just aren't being abstinent enough. Infant mortality isn't affected by our overpriced and underperorming healthcare system - women just don't care about their babies enough. This kind of thinking has come up as short as everyone has predicted, and it's just not cute any more.
I might also add how insulting it is that I am not encouraged to have healthy habits for my own sake, but for the sake of possible children I might have. What am I, chopped liver? Or, as Jessica at feministing (where I found this link) says:
The vessel will make sure to treat its uterus and surrounding matter with care for the preparation of the all-mighty fetus. The vessel puts the lotion in the basket.
UPDATE: Thinking about this issue, I'm reminded of this post Bad Feminist wrote about the requirement that women using Accutane also use two forms of birth control. Even if the situation is as dire as this report is making it out to be - which I do not think it is - what if you'd rather abort an unintended pregnancy than give up drinking and smoking? What if you'd rather terminate an unintended pregnancy than use two forms of birth control while on Accutane? These people clearly are not thinking outside the box.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has decided it won’t wait for the Food and Drug Administration to approve over-the-counter sales of the so-called morning after pill—a pill which is supposed to help women who are harboring regret over a sexual encounter the night before. Of course, it doesn’t matter that the FDA is hesitant to give the pills out like candy because it doesn’t want to promote promiscuity among young people. Also, some leading medical experts say that the morning after pill doesn’t just prevent pregnancy—it can also kill a child who has already been conceived in her mother’s womb.Want more? TBogg and Jill have got this one covered.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I don't like mushrooms...but I'm not going to let that stop me from enjoying them. I am in the process of learning to love mushrooms, and tonight's dinner was an excellent teaching tool in that regard. The recipe was simple enough that I only need to list ingredients: homemade pasta, morel mushrooms, fresh thyme, white wine, butter, salt and pepper. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
What is interesting here is the effect of politics on these cases. On the one hand, the abortion issue is looking to be a bit of a red herring, and RU-486 only incidental to the infections. On the other, I don't know if this pattern would have been noticed without the intense scrutiny on abortion-related procedures. What I do know is that if better prevention of these infections is a result, all women will benefit, whether pro-life or pro-choice.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Now we need to take responsibility for our part in this. These young people were raised by us, and we are the ones who have taught them that they should have revulsion for nudity and sexuality. We have also taught them that it's appropriate to police women's sexual behavior, that they have the privilege to interfere in female self-determination. As Americans, we have failed them, and I hope that we can continue to evolve as a culture in a direction that is more life-affirming and less fear-based. I have dedicated my life's work to this type of education, one that shows the history of and contexts for our current beliefs and actions and therefore gives us the power to change, should we so choose.I can't believe I have actually witnessed someone saying "As Americans, we have failed them..." It's silly of these students to think that this professor will get in any real trouble for showing her boobies online, but it's also silly of this professor to think that this wouldn't create any hubbub. If she'd been fired, maybe I could get upset over this, but for now I don't feel like I've failed anyone.
Mr. Bush said in the interview with ARD on Thursday that either way the court rules, "they will get a trial which they, themselves, were unwilling to give to the people that they're willing to kill."Slow. Learners.
Monday, May 08, 2006
What I find odd is how often I've been reading about how hopelessly confused young men are these days that women are actually pursuing sex with them. From the above article:
Skrodzki is far from alone. It seems that for a sizable number of young men, the fact that they can get sex whenever they want may have created a situation where, in fact, they're unable to have sex. According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.The article says in a previous paragraph that the young man in question thought sleeping with his potential partner was a "no-brainer," but the WaPo apparently is under the impression that he needs "erotic power of the chase" to make his plumbing really work.
Another instance that occurs to me is a weird conversation that I came upon a while back that wondered how young men on campus can even tell they're raping women when so many women want sex all the time. Here's a quote from this confused male:
Is the offense a suggestion that women entice men into sex and then sometimes accuse them of rape or violence? That is a known sociological and legal phenomenon. I have a daughter; I am extremely sensitive to the possibility of her ever being raped or violently assaulted. I have sons (and friends with sons) who are stunned by the way that young women on campus nearly beg for sex. All? By no means. A surprising number? They say so.Um, newsflash - if women are begging you for sex, you have indeed obtained consent - from those particular women.
The thing that I find most ridiculous about this moral panic about the topsy-turvy world of US college campuses where women pursue sex (and people wear underwear on their heads and cheeseburgers take a bite out of you!) is the claim that these young men are no longer victims of their libidos and the curse of frigid women, but that their primitive male instincts are being confused by a world gone mad.
What's really going on here is the fear that women have abdicated their duty as the gatekeeper of propriety, and that now people might do ...whatever they want. I am not sure what people picture when they imagine each individual having the freedom to pursue the sex life they would like to have. For some reason, many are under the impression that once you have control over your sex life, you're absolved of any other societal obligations. Politeness, consideration, communication and honesty? No one needs those in a world full of SEX.
I don't know where anyone got the impression that sexual freedom is the freedom to be an asshole. The reality is that the huge numbers of people have had to create their own rules for their sex lives from scratch - the get married, have kids, hate your spouse model is not realistic for homosexuals and not very desirable to a lot of heterosexuals - and they're perfectly nice people. Relying on gender roles to keep people in check has never worked - it's a cop-out so that people don't have to truly understand the difference between right and wrong.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Biotechnology companies are profiting from living resources found in the deep ocean without laws to ensure their actions are sustainable and fair, says an Australian environmental lawyer....
He says there are 37 patents, filed in Europe and the US, on derivatives of deep-sea organisms.The genetic resources of the deep sea are being plundered! Even worse, they're being used to develop life-saving drugs! One lawyer is concerned about scientists learning from the world around them!
There are cosmetics on sale derived from microbes that survive in extreme environments found deep below the surface of the ocean, says Leary, and enzymes from the same source are used in industrial processes and research.
A French government agency is currently testing a bone-healing drug also made from these extremophiles, he says.
And there is research into developing artificial blood from the haemoglobin of tubeworms found around deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
There is also research on chemicals from corals on deep-sea mounts, says Leary.
I can see the concern - these are probably fragile ecosystems that don't need robots tromping around in them. Still, these technologies are obviously not actually being harvested from the sea floor, but the genetic instructions being used to recreate the useful enzymes and proteins. Create a commission to put some regulations in place, and the problem is solved. Next issue, please.
The 2006 midterm elections are six months from today, and I'm in somewhat of a quandary. I've been a Republican my whole life; I've voted for a couple of Democrats for Senator and Governor when I was in the Navy, but Nebraska Democrats would pretty much be Republicans anywhere else. This year, though, I'm afraid I'm going to do something that I never thought would happen -- if the election were held today, I'd vote for Democrats pretty much across the board.I was somewhat surprised to see that his feelings aren't too far-off from mine. This administration has been both intrusive and incompetent, and spent huge amounts of resources pursing unrealistic and immoral ends. bubblehead again:
My bottom line: The Republicans currently in power have, through intellectual laziness, greed, and lack of vision, squandered an opportunity to lead the nation, and the world, into the new century. It's time for them to be pushed aside and let someone else try. And if they nominate a screwball for President in 2008 (and the Dems cast aside their recent history and nominate someone who isn't ridiculous) I could even see myself voting for a Democrat for President. I'm not there yet, but I could almost see myself going there is the Republicans don't straighten up.Here we have a voter who has been abandoned by his party and his representatives. What I find most heartening about this is that he's not just voting against Republicans, but voting for Larry Grant. By being forced into the role of the party of fiscal responsibility and the party who protects the freedoms of its citizens, Democrats have the opportunity to reorganize the policy structures that are needed to meet these ends. We are at a point where the Republicans have run their common wisdom into the ground, and lost these labels that the Democrats have the opportunity to pick up. Instead of nationalized health care being denigrated as expensive and inefficient socialism, Democrats can point to its real fiscal (and corporeal) benefits. It's hard for Republicans to accuse Democrats of being intrusive when they aren't the ones listening to your phone calls and trying to tell you when, why, and with whom to have sex and when you should be pregnant. Bloggers have been complaining for years that Democrats are narrowing their base to a sliver too tiny to be effective, but it's becoming clear that the Republicans have been doing the same thing.
This is an opportunity for Democrats to mend relations with its own base ("What'll you do if we give civil unions the legal weight of marriage and grant same-sex couples access to them? Sic your 32% on us?"), and to take hold of some formerly-conservative-monopolized values and breathe new progressive life into them. This isn't just about winning. This is about doing right by all the citizens who have been hurt by this incompetent administration. Protecting American freedoms and wise use of tax dollars are fundamentally important to good government, and Democrats have to take a crack at it because it's all too clear that Republicans can't be trusted to.
I’ve gotta say, I’m thrilled to see anti-choice groups finally having their true views exposed in the mainstream media. While abortion may be a contentious issue among the general public, contraception isn’t. Only the most extreme anti-choicers are opposed to it (and when I say “opposed” I don’t mean “personally don’t want to use it themselves” — I mean “want to disallow everyone else from using it”), but unfortunately the most extreme anti-choicers are the ones running the supposedly “mainstream” pro-life organizations. And, apparently, the ones being selected by this administration to head the F.D.A.’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee.I don't for a second believe that any significant proportion of the population is opposed to the use of birth control by people who wish to. It's not the number of people who are opposed to birth control that's the problem here - it's their influence. This is the deal with the devil the GOP made by cozying up to its wingnut fundamentalist element, and it got them five years or so of strong support. What it won't get them is re-elected.
"House Democrats have formulated a plan of action for their first week in control. Their leaders said a Democratic House would quickly vote to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. It would roll back a provision in the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug benefit that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs offered under the program.These all look like great agenda items (look to Obsidian Wings for more info), and I might add that they're all things that fit in line with the issues Idaho's 1st District Democrat Larry Grant is campaigning on.
It would vote to fully implement the recommendations of the bipartisan panel convened to shore up homeland security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Democratic leaders said.
And it would reinstate lapsed rules that say any tax cuts or spending increases have to be offset by spending cuts or tax increases to prevent the federal deficit from growing."
Friday, May 05, 2006
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I am going to provide a guide*** to Moscow's Mexican and Mexicanish cuisine. This information has been obtained through diligent research and at the expense of my waistline, so Muscovites, listen up.
First of all, let's discuss the players.
Sit-down restaurants: If you want to go to a place where you can sit down to a meal with warm chips and salsa, margaritas, and get distracted by waiters yelling about how how their plates of sizzling fajitas are, you have two choices: el Mercado at the Eastside Marketplace, and La Casa Lopez on Main Street.
Semi-enclosed establishments: In the past few years, Moscow has welcomed the arrival of Patty's Mexican Kitchen, and San Miguel's Tacos. Patty's was the first to arrive, and is adjacent to the UI campus, sitting kitty corner to the Student Union. San Miguel's drove into my heart (and stomach) about a year ago, and is parked on Jackson street across from the Royal Motor Inn.**
Fast food: call me a blasphemer, but I can really enjoy me some Taco Bell and Taco Time.
While Patty’s has superior carne asada, they use the ever-more-present garlic-herb tortilla, and I simply cannot abide by it. Patty’s alambres burrito deserves an honorable mention, but you can’t go wrong with a San Miguel’s chorizo burrito.
Tacos, meat or chicken
If you’re not going to eat tacos al carbon or tacos al pastor, you shouldn’t be eating a taco. And if you are eating tacos al carbon or tacos al pastor, you should be eating them at San Miguel’s. If you want a margarita with your food, try El Mercado.
This is the original food item that had me stopping by Patty’s quite often on my walk home from school in my undergrad days. The fish burritos are cursed with the aforementioned garlic-herb tortilla, but the tacos, they are delish.
This is the only place I’ve ever had them, so I really shouldn’t pass judgement. I can say however that they’re frigging huge.
Great selection, and Patty’s patio is an excellent place to sit in the sun and drink a microbrew, import, or if you’ve spent too much money on delicious food, a PBR.
La Casa Lopez
It’s a block and a half away from my apartment, so I can stumble home no problemo.
They’re perfectly greasy in such a way that the flavors are propelled into your taste buds, but you don’t feel slimy after eating them.
They’re the only ones who have it, and it may be a stretch of the term “barbecue” but their ribs are divine.
‘Round these parts (i.e. my household) Nacho Saturday is a religious holiday.
There is no “rationale” for eating this – it’s by definition unreasonable. I just wanted to suggest using the drive-through, so you don’t have to witness the nastiness of this restaurant. Ignorance is bliss. Kind of.
I haven’t seen them anywhere else.
If I have made a grave error in judgement, please let me know.
*Please ignore the timestamp on when this was published. I started it before midnight, so I think it still counts.
** The Royal Motor Inn is a famously terrifying cheap motel in downtown Moscow that my husband once had the good fortune of staying in. When I asked him how it was, he told me "I had to sharpen a cockroach to kill a rat."
*** You can call this the "Mexican Food Matrix" if you like.
Cinco de Mayo is a date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities. It marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Althought the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest.Either way, it's an excuse to eat
Thursday, May 04, 2006
First of all, I like it. I think it's a fun intersection of exhibitionistic and voyeuristic tendencies, and as far as I can tell it's a pretty integral part of a lot of peoples' sexuality.
Second of all, I know there are lots of problems with the sex industry, the way porn is produced, and the kinds of porn that are consumed. Amongst the things that creep me out are porn that purports to injure or frighten participants, sex-for-necessities porn where women are supposedly trading sex for housing or food or a job, and of course anything involving children, animals, or force.
Since that first porn post, I've had a reader emailing me some news articles about the sex industry, and I think this might be a good place to address them. I'll start with some of the quotes that I thought were interesting.
First, from an article about public screenings of pornography at MIT.
MIT's mass screenings of pornography produced plenty of home grown data on its effects on women. After each registration day movie let out, women were accosted by bands of leering men. Female victims of child sexual abuse had flashbacks. Widely acknowledged forms of sexism at MIT, in which male professors,
students and research colleagues tend to ignore women, stare at them, or fail to treat them as serious scientists, seemed to worsen after the showings.
Women also raised important qualitative arguments against pornography. First, the depiction of sex in pornographic films is hardly neutral: most films are designed for heterosexual male viewers who like watching women serve men. Men in the films have lifelike characters, while women are shown as dependent and compliant, often learning to "enjoy" abuse. In the worst of theseThis article raises the same question I posed in my original porn post - why is this the fault of pornography? Why can we say that men should be responsible enough to keep it in their pants when they see someone in a short skirt or a low-cut shirt, but then give them a free pass when it comes to watching porn? This seems more like a problem amongst these men and their behavior, rather than one that is intrinsic to seeing people having sex on-screen. And, I also have to question the relevance of this sort of porn-viewing experience in condemning all of porn and all of the people who watch it. I would wager that a significant part of these effects have to do with homosocial competition to dehumanize women, rather than some sort of blind rampage that's spurred by seeing a 10-foot-tall money shot. That's a problem, but I doubt that ridding the world of pornography would rid the world of homosociality.
films, the abuse takes the form of violence that serves as "entertainment" for men. Given the level of violence against women in our society, the violent films may actually be quite realistic.
Another current of thought here is that when men think of women in sexual situations - or see them in sexual situations - they're going to not think of these women as people. How is that a necessary consequence of pornography and not actual sexual encounters? Even if pornography can take male fantasies over the top, it does depict a lot of normal sexual activities. Female "characters" in pornographic films aren't very complex, but neither are the male ones, and the films aren't about characters anyway - otherwise, they wouldn't bother with the sex. My feelings are that if men think of women as sexual objects, it's not a problem that taking pornography away will fix. If you can watch porn and think that the actual actresses are not people, even while living in a world full of three-dimensional female characters, taking away pornography is not going to take away your capacity to dehumanize women. This is a much bigger problem than pornography.
And here, from "You are what you eat: The pervasive porn industry and what it says about you and your desires" by Robert Jensen.
Which is the most accurate description of what contemporary men in the United States want sexually, Armageddon or Vivid? The question assumes a significant difference between the two; the answer is that both express the same sexual norm. ÃBlow Bang #4Ã begins and ends with the assumption that women live for male pleasure and want men to ejaculate on them. ÃDelusionalÃ begins with the idea that women want something more caring in a man, but ends with her begging for anal penetration and ejaculation. One is cruder, the other slicker. Both represent a single pornographic mindset, in which male pleasure defines sex and female pleasure is a derivate of male pleasure. In pornography, women just happen to love exactly what men love to do to them, and what men love to do in pornography is to control and use, which allows the men who watch pornography to control and use as well.This I find to be rather presumptuous, dismissive of healthy male sexuality, and also slightly erotophobic. First of all, I think Tristan Taormino would object to the assumption being made here that women don't like anal sex, and for that matter, I don't see why we can assume here that there aren't women turned on by these spoogey sex acts. It's like the assumption made in this critique is that women aren't enjoying a sex act if it's not going to lead directly to their having an orgasm. If that's the case, with anal sex or enthusiasm for jism, we would also have to throw out erotic massage or fondling breasts, or spanking or lap dances.
When I do public talks on pornography and the feminist critique of the commercial sex industry, I describe -- but do not show -- these kinds of videos. I explain the other conventions of the industry, such as Ãdouble penetration,Ã the common practice in which a woman is penetrated by two menÃs penises, vaginally and anally, at the same time, and in some of those scenes the woman also performs oral sex on a third man at the same time. I explain that virtually every sex scene ends with a man or men ejaculating onto a woman, most often in the face, what the industry calls a Ãfacial.Ã
What I also cannot understand is what exactly is wrong with making pornography that reflects the simple, quick-turn-on fantasies of men. Yes, most porn is produced for the enjoyment of men, and it involves actors who are not likely having as good a time as they profess, but so what? It's meant to convey the mood of good sex, or of what men might like good sex to be - it's not meant to be a stand-in for an actual person's actual sex life. I think of being turned on by pornography like laughing at a sitcom - no, these funny things aren't really happening, and they're not happening to you, but wouldn't it be funny if they did? Wouldn't it be sexy if these things in pornography really did happen, and happen to you?
And, finally, I can't think of any other reason for there to be such a hangup about the "facial" phenomenon except for a lingering, puritanical distaste for sex and the things involved in it. Feminists don't stand for men telling them that their vaginas are yucky and smelly - why is it okay to be grossed out by semen? While I agree that ejaculate-centered porn flicks are often set up in such a way aejaculationjaclation to humiliate a woman, I also think that the idea that being touched by semen is unacceptable a basically sex-phobic one. I should be clear: it's not okay to orchestrate this kind of thing with unwilling participants. What I am saying is that it's the attitude, not the specific act, that gives it so much weight.
Even with the present yuckiness in the porn industry that I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I think it's quite possible to be reasonably sure that you're consuming cruelty-free porn. Lots of production companies have imposed regulations on themselves, and there are unions and other organizations that exist to monitor the industry. There's also amateur porn that brings together the lechers of the world through the perverse magic of the internet. And if you want to be completely sure that no animals, people, etc. were harmed in the making of this film, you can turn to animated or illustrated pornography. If we haven't always had photos, then we haven't always had dirty photos - even if erotica has been around for quite a long time.
I haven't really touched on the objectification problem, but with all the writing I've already done, I'm thinking that will have to wait until next time. Feel free to leave a comment if you have the energy to get into another porn-related discussion.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Another instance I think of is darkdaughta's jihad against male feminists, Hugo Schwyzer in particular. Not only is what she proposing mean-spirited, it's completely unworkable. You can't ask men to sacrifice themselves to the fight against patriarchy, with no contact with the women you're helping and no recognizeable reward for what is hard work even for a man. I may be willing to accept that this would be a morally correct way to go about patriarchy smashing, but it's clear on its face that this will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, work out. It's just as practical as asking women in Sub-Saharan Africa abstain from sexual activity to prevent the spread of HIV. Further, the clear impracticality, its obvious conclusion in failure, makes it an immoral demand to make.
This has come up again at Twisty Faster's place. A new male feminist has stumbled into a bad neighborhood in the Feminist blogosphere and come out badly bruised, with again the objection being that this isn't his problem and he doesn't deserve the honor of helping make it disappear.
What is this about? As far as I know, this is feminism, not Twistyism (Good thing or I'd have to come up with a whole new name for my blog). We're not here for revenge or sympathy or parades thrown in our honor. We're here to stop rape, stop domestic violence, jettison the patriarchy and make the world a better place for all people, even men. I don't have the patience for everyone who isn't fawning over Twisty to die out, and that's the only thing you can hope for when your movement/clique treats outsiders this way. The patriarchs and misogynists and rapists and sexists and dudes who won't sleep with fat chicks are part of the world we live in, and they don't disappear when we curse at them. We don't get new ones if the ones we have aren't as easily-plied as we'd like. Unless feminists are committed to keeping the world a shitty place until we can slip seamlessly into a morally-unambiguous, universally-appreciated utopia, I think it would be wise to welcome Freeman into the fold.
UPDATE: After posting this last night, reading comments, and digesting my thoughts, there are a few things I'd like to add. First of all, Freeman is not off the hook here. I'm not saying that he didn't say something boneheaded to begin with. I will defend anyone's right to say boneheaded, dorky, and ill-advised things. This doesn't mean I'm going to defend the actual boneheaded, dorky, and ill-advised statements. As usual, I agree with about 85% of Twisty's position here - being a feminist dude does not garner you any extra credit. It's great, and it requires a qualitatively different kind of commitment on your part than it does on the part of a woman, but it's not any more valuable or brave or any more interesting. One thing that I constantly have to do when navigating the world of identity politics and social justice is to get over myself. It's amazing how many nooks and crannies of my personality are filled with uninformed and undeserved pride. Watch out for those, and the Freemen of the world will probably come out of these conversations with their knickers a lot less twisted.