Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

If one lives on Capitol Hill (which happens to be the location of your blogstress's Oppo Factory), the approach of Memorial Day is marked by the relentless flatulence of the Harley Davidson motorcycle, squadrons of which besmirch the serenity of Our Nation's Capitol each year at the end of May. The two-wheeled noisemakers are invariably mounted by overweight people with bad hairdos who think it their patriotic duty to subject the citizens of Washington, D.C., to a panoply of offenses to the senses, which somehow add up, in their carbon-monoxide-addled minds, to a solemn homage to the nation's war dead.

Speaking of the war, your blogstress has gone and really stepped in it by stating, on TAPPED, her opposition to a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq (even though it's the conflict she hates the most). Your comments are welcome, mes amis, but please hold the epithets.

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A woman for our times

Melissa Silverstein of the Women's Media Center has posted her first entertainment blog entry for Huffington Post, where you will be able to find her musings on culture high and low.

For her opener, Melissa tells us of a new documentary about Mukhtaran Mai, the Pakistani woman who defied local authorities to prosecute the men who gang-raped her on the order of a tribal council. The case now sits before Pakistan's Supreme Court, which is having a little trouble functioning these days, what with dictator and U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf having sacked the chief justice, a move that has sparked underreported violence throughout Pakistan over the course of the last month.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Falwell funeral and legacy

Your blogstress, alas, has been much too busy making a living lately to attend to her life's work of making the world safe for libertines. For instance, she has not been able to find a minute to craft a witty take-down of Newt Gingrich's hysterical commencement address to the 2007 class of Liberty University, part of the legacy left behind by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

For Newt's part, the serial adulterer decried a culture of "radical secularism" that has gripped the nation. (Read more here, in an amusing piece by Michael Shear. You cybertrix prays that Newt enters the Republican presidential race. What fun that would be!

On a more serious note, you'll surely want to reconsider the legacy of Rev. Falwell in light of this thoughtful op-ed piece by your écrivaine's dear friend, Hans Johnson and his good friend, William Eskridge.

The Falwell funeral will commence at 1:00 p.m. at Rev. Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. You can watch it here.

Please do report back to your blogstress, mes amis, for she, alas will not be able to watch. She will be on the choo-choo to New York, there to watch her editors at TAPPED receive the Hillman Award for Best Blog. How do ya like them apples?

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When the White House press operation isn't enough...

...there's the Christian Newswire. Today, at The American Prospect Online, your blogstress shows you how the White House is using your tax dollars to add to the bottom line of a religious-right p.r. operation run by a former spokesperson for murders of doctors who perform abortions.

(And you were just upset about the $1 billion spent so far to advance "abstinence-only" sex education.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Good-bye, Wolfie, good-bye

In case you did not know, dear reader, your blogstress is never more than a degree or so removed from every major story taking place in Our Nation's Capitol. Take, for instance, the imminent departure from the World Bank of Paul Wolfowitz, our man fighting corruption in the Third, er, undeveloped, er, underdeveloped, er, developing world, where he had hoped, one day, to install an Iraq-style democracy in every Godforsaken country for the betterment of Western contractors and their client states. (That would be us, as in U.S.)

Oh, yes, but what of your blogstress and the Bank? Well, unfortunately, when your cybertrix worked there, she was in no position to give her girlfriend an enormous raise (though she was, from time to time, in a position that encouraged her girlfriend to assume an elevated pose). And as for your Webwench's boyfriend...well, never mind.

Back when your écrivaine toiled at the Big Bank, she, like most of the American administrative help, was designated an independent contractor, so that the World Bank, überpurveyor of globalized capitalism, could skirt such socialist-inspired expectations as health insurance and paid holidays. Then there was the much vaunted change-over to an operations software system from the German firm, S.A.P., which was purchased off the shelf, without customization for the most customized of organizations. Too bad the official language of the Bank is English, not German. Instead of learning German in order to learn how to work the system, Bank officials simply stopped paying the admin staff for a while, but expected us to come to work anyway. Yours truly staged a Norma Rae-style protest and got her damn check. But I digress.

So, it's not like the Bank was clean when Wolfie found it. There were million-dollar Christmas parties for entire divisions; the one your net-tête attended came complete with a cigar bar, in case you needed a fat one to accompany your single-malt scotch. Then there was the tale -- possibly apocryphal, but hopefully not -- of the lady in procurement who embezzled, like, a mil, but got caught when she deposited it into her World Bank Credit Union account.

So what, you may ask, was a fine, upstanding (thank you, underwires!) lady such as your blogstress doing in this den of corruption? Well, one, supporting her writing habit. But, two, she was working with some of the finest people she will ever meet on this earth. No kidding.

The World Bank does, and has done, a lot of bad things. It has been led by misguided men with inflated egos. (Wolfie's predecessor, James Wolfensohn, once responded to criticism by saying, "We're doing God's work.") But many, many good and brilliant people populate the Bank's staff, people who really do mean to do good in the world.

There's the economist who brings electricity to people living off the grid, in jungles and forests. This saves the lives of many women. His wife wishes he could get home more often. There are the Bank people going village to village in Central Asia, showing people how to adapt their native heating ovens to burn more cleanly, so the tent doesn't fill with pollutants. There are the interpreters who sometimes come close to losing their minds as they, on the spot, translate the politically-sensitive language of a Bank officer to the heads of states where lives are on the line.

So, my heart goes out to the rank-and-file of The World Bank, who once again suffer the foibles of their leader. Kudos to the Bank's Staff Association, who did the work that brought Wolfie down. Had your blogstress been allowed to, she would have been a member. Alas, though she worked there every day for more than a year, your blogstress wasn't staff. She was an independent contractor -- to the tune of $20 an hour. She was obviously dating the wrong people.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A credit to one's race

Posted here, without comment -- well, not much, anyway -- is the transcript of a most remarkable segment of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," featuring the quick-minded John Ridley vs. Jersey's own Steve Adubato, who has a nice head of hair.

SCARBOROUGH: It‘s unbelievable. And, you know, let me give you one more example of double standard, sort of these P.C. days. At a graduation ceremony at Howard University on Saturday, Oprah Winfrey said her grandmother told her she hoped, quote, “She would get some good white folks to work for her.” And then Oprah said to that class, “I regret she didn‘t live past 1963 and see that I did get some really good white folks working for me.”

Steve Adubato, my gosh, just fill in—-pick the race, and just fill in a white person saying that about any other race, and that white person would be off the air, would they not?

ADUBATO: In a heartbeat, Joe. Oprah gets away with all kinds of things because, first of all, she‘s not disgusting, Opie and Anthony, trying to make a joke about what we were just talking about. But Oprah making a comment like this gets away with it because she‘s the queen of daytime television.

I have to tell you something. I was looking at some of these blogs, Joe. There are white folks across this country and others who are disgusted by what Oprah did, and I believe she thought, because she was at Howard University, a black university, that she could get away with it.

And the problem is, in this environment and the Internet, everybody got to see it. She should apologize for what she said. There was nothing funny about it. If a white person said it, they would be condemned, as they should. She should be. And because she‘s Oprah, she shouldn‘t get away with it.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, though, John Ridley is laughing right now because he‘s got a white guy working for him every morning from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.—John?

RIDLEY: Listen, Steve, I was with you two out of three. I was hoping to make it three out of three this time around. The only people who could be offended by this are white males who see the sun setting on their (inaudible) empire washing away.

ADUBATO: John...

RIDLEY: There was something on Media Matters today. You talk about double standards. There‘s a 9-1 ratio on news talk shows of white males to anyone else of another gender or color. The fact that the one black woman who really accomplished in media says, “You know what? It‘s a nice day and age because I was nice white focus who work with me.” How many times do I have to hear, “John, you‘re a credit to your race”? “John, you‘re not like the other guys”? “John, it‘s so nice to have you here because you‘re so articulate”?

ADUBATO: John?

RIDLEY: Steve, I‘m sorry...

ADUBATO: Respectfully, John...

RIDLEY: ... this is not her—this is not her trying to be funny.

This is her trying...

ADUBATO: Hey, John...

RIDLEY: ... to make a point about how far that she has come in the media.

ADUBATO: John, let me say this real quick.

RIDLEY: Say it real quick, and then we‘ll talk about double standards, and see what you can do about getting more people of color on the news talk shows, because I have two white guys on both sides of me talking about double standards.

ADUBATO: John, real quick.

RIDLEY: Yes, sir?

ADUBATO: Anyone who says you‘re a credit to your race, you‘re articulate, you understand what that means. That is totally inappropriate. That‘s disrespectful, but that has nothing to do with Oprah making a comment like that. Look, because she‘s not as egregious as the other clips we saw, John, doesn‘t mean that she can‘t step over the line and say something racially insensitive. I‘m surprised you can‘t admit it.

RIDLEY: I‘m saying, Steve—Steve, I‘m saying is, this is what we live with constantly. And when the one time that white guys hear this, they‘re freaked out. She said, “I have nice white people that work with me.”

ADUBATO: John, some of us are freaked out by any inappropriate comments that have to do with race.

RIDLEY: Steve...

ADUBATO: Whether it‘s Oprah or Opie and Anthony.

RIDLEY: Steve, the last time I was on this show, what did you quote to me? Dr. Martin Luther King, not Ayn Rand, not Nietzsche. You thought that the only thing I would understand is Dr. King.

ADUBATO: Oh, that‘s—wait a minute.

RIDLEY: It‘s all of these...

ADUBATO: John, I can‘t believe you just said that.

RIDLEY: It‘s these little things. Of course you can‘t believe I just said it.

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Falwell and that old-time religion

At The Guardian, now edited by former American Prospect editor Michael Tomasky, there's a terrific piece by Michelle Goldberg in which she reveals the segregationist roots of the Moral Majority salesman, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

In today's Washington Post, Hanna Rosin offers up a generational look at the post-Falwell religious right. Among those she cites as the movement's next big things is the very scary Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falwell says farewell

Today, the Rev. Jerry Falwell bid farewell to the earthly plain and wafted into the arms of his Maker. Hopefully the Maker, presumably now in face-to-face contact with her errant son, can correct the son (as only a mother can) on his ridiculous assertion that she made the entire Universe in a week.

Where, you may ask, has gone your blogstress's customarily gentle disposition toward the recently deceased? Well, mes amis, your Webwench has her human foibles with which to contend, and she has yet to transcend herself to forgive the reverend for blaming the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the likes of her and her compatriots. Let us revisit the appearance of Rev. Falwell on the television program hosted by his rival, the Rev. Pat Robertson, on September 13, 2001:

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

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