Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Worst Americans

One of your blogstress's favorite Americans, Michael Tomasky, offers up his year-end list of 2008's worst Americans. Tomasky is the writer/editor at the helm of Guardian America, the online U.S. incarnation of the British newspaper.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Favorite Man

Today, that would be Spencer Ackerman (a.k.a., Attackerman) who, in his vigilence, is defending the honor of the female sex against the designs of right-wing commentator Dennis Prager, who has been writing how married women are obligated to put out for hubby whenever the latter expresses his "needs".

Kyle of Right-Wing Watch suggests that Prager subscribes the "Phyllis Schlafly School of Marriage Counseling", the doyenne of the right having uttered this last year at an appearance at Bates College:

"By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape," she said.

Hat-tip to the fabulous Frankie G. of The Beltway Sewer.

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Rick Warren faces a transcendent moment

Your blogstress is still wrestling with the decision of Barack Obama (whom her feminist self supported all the way back in the primaries) to anoint the right-wing, anti-gay, anti-woman Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the presidential inaugural ceremonies. Mon Dieu, mes amis! How to make sense of it?

One hopes that Mr. Obama has a trick or two up his sleeve in bestowing this honor on one who has compared pro-choice people to Holocaust deniers, equated gay marriage with polygamy and marriage between an adult and a child (and later denied having done so), and preaches that wives should submit to their husbands.

To many liberals, Warren's words are hard not to take personally, especially if you're a woman and/or a member of the LGBT community. This is no mere game of "dozens"; reports come in daily of LGBT people assaulted or killed for no other reason than being queer; meanwhile the terrorism of anti-choice forces has reduced abortion, in many areas, to a right that exists only on paper. (Abortion is available in only 14 percent of U.S. counties.)

Seeking to find a beacon of light in this disheartening pick, your blogstress has penned a piece for The Huffington Post, "Transcendental Invocation". Here's a taste:

[T]he predictable back-and-forth between left and right around this issue leads me in moments when my worser angels -- you know, the less-than-angelic angels -- of my nature have my ear to wonder whether or not we just got Souljahed out. Would Obama step on our tails to make us squeal in order to look "normal" to the pro-America parts of the country?

Let's consider another alternative -- please. Like any council of chiefs, the leadership of the religious right is often riven with jealousy and competition, as well as ideological differences between purists and pragmatists. Mainstream media have latched onto Warren's AIDS-fighting work in Africa and his preaching on environmental responsibility as evidence of his ostensibly kinder, gentler biblical Christianity though, by his own admission, the difference between Warren and authoritarian right-wing media mogul James Dobson is merely one of "tone". Yet Warren isn't really of the clique of religious-right leaders as we've come to know them: the Dobson mob, the Robertson cabal, the Falwell gang. (These form the syndicate that holds the rights to the GOP's electoral ground game; it is through their churches and associations that grass roots activists and voters are turned out.)

With his 25 million books sold and four megachurches with congregations in the tens of thousands, there's likely a bit of resentment against Warren among the council of elder pooh-bahs. (In his e-mail to followers, Tony Perkins snipes, "Let's hope that Rick Warren will use his channel of communication to the new President to press him for more pro-family policies-rather than simply being used by Mr. Obama to make political inroads with evangelicals.")

If the campaign revealed anything about the president-elect, it is his use of existing dynamics to his own advantage, knowing when to get out of the way of -- or lend a hand to -- Nature as she takes her course. The leaders of the religious right are far less dangerous to the rest of us when sniping among themselves. Could it be that, in elevating Warren so high above the rest, Obama has tossed an apple of discord over the right fence, a clever bait of distraction?

Perhaps I think too wishfully as I look to find a reason to believe.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pastor Rick on gay marriage

The pushback by the LGBT movement against the anointment of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama has been such that Warren felt compelled to go before his own congregants to clarify his views on gay marriage, taking great pains to say that he never equated gay relationships with incest or polygamy. (He just said he disagreed with allowing gays to marry, just as he disagreed with allowing adults to marry children, brothers to marry sisters, and men to have more than one wife. Not that he was equating them or anything.) Here's Pastor Rick:


Meanwhile, on "Hardball" last night, Mike Rogers of blogActive and PageOneQ masterfully reframed the conflict over Obama's invocational choice as one that sees the LGBT movement at its most powerful, ever. Check out Digby's recounting at Hullabaloo:
...Rogers took a very unusual tack and said that [the well-known Reverend Eugene] Rivers coming on the show to defend Warren shows how powerful the gay community is and that he was very happy to see Warren changing his web site just today (to hide his more outrageously homophobic content.) He characterized this as a big victory for gay rights. ("I compliment Rick Warren on seeing the error of his ways and changing his Web site.") Rivers was agitated by this and seemed to be frustrated that the dialog wasn't taking the predicted path, rather sarcastically saying things like "well we're all happy now, I guess."

Here's Mike on "Hardball"

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Illinois edges Jersey for top honors

While your blogstress's heart is in Jersey City, she does have familial ties to Chicago's South Side, so the pronouncement of one G-man on the comparative status of the Land of Lincoln was less painful, perhaps, than it was for her fellow dwellers of the Meadowlands:

Robert Grant, FBI special agent in charge of the Chicago office, said even the most cynical FBI agents were "disgusted and revolted" by what they heard on the recordings [of Gov. Rod Blogojevich trying to sell a Senate seat].

"If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States," Grant said of Illinois, "it’s certainly one hell of a competitor."
C'mon Jersey! You're slippin'!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Four Generations, Bad Music and Good Food

cross-posted from The Huffington Post

On Thanksgiving Day, four generations of my family will gather at my parents' home to consume a meal largely beige in color, and devoid of anything green (save for the peas that come, frozen, in a bag with the little white onions).

"I was going to put out celery and olives," my mother said, "but then I always wind up with a year-old jar of olives takin' up space in the refrigerator. So, I figured, let's just skip it this year and see if anybody notices."

It's unlikely that anybody will. We'll all be too busy jockeying for position in the house we call Stanadu, looking to make the funniest joke, take the longest solo during the annual Making of Bad Music Cooperative that takes place in Mom and Dad's living room and trying to keep kids, grand-kids and great-grandkids from maiming themselves and/or each other. There will be disputes over how strong to make the coffee, and did you really have to bring something that needs to be cooked right now? Anyone who tries to direct traffic in the kitchen will be ignored and likely resented. Chaos is an imperative.

We'll annoy each other, laugh with each other, sing with each other, secretly cry for each others' difficulties, fret over who might next leave the planet, maybe have an argument or two, and have one hell of a good time.

Our American family, like many, was born of a thousand tragedies in the far corners of the earth. The 19th-century Irish potato blight, Mao's 20th-century cultural revolution, the 18th-century persecution of minorities in Eastern Europe, the 17th-century persecution of religious minorities in Britain, the centuries-long poverty of peasants in a handful of feudal societies, and the endless string of pathologies wrought by tragedy -- they're all part of our story. We're not particularly enlightened types; we didn't wind up being a biracial amalgam of cultural identities because of some angelic absence of prejudice, but, rather, because the combination of sexual attraction and a strong sense of curiosity led people to unexpected unions.

It's been a long time since every one of us in the greater nuclear-family constellation has been together in the same place; babies have been born since last this happened. My newest grand-niece, Julianna, arrived on Earth in the swelter of summer, during the heat of the presidential primary season. How lovely, then, that her first Thanksgiving should take place just as we, the unenlightened amalgam that is America, are about to welcome into the White House our first truly 21st-century president, himself the product of many unexpected unions -- beginning with his parents', and continuing with that of the disparate elements of the U.S. electorate who checked the same box on the ballot sheet.

On election day, my parents found themselves minding two of my nephews, 11-year-old Clark, and 8-year-old Dillon, who are half Chinese, a quarter Irish, and the rest a mix of Eastern European and some South/Central Asian mystery blend. They each took one grandson into their respective voting booths to mark the ballot for a man whose presence in the White House seems entirely normal to these children, who have no memory of freedom riders, who have yet to understand our nation's insanity regarding issues of race. (I pray that when they do come to understand, the understanding comes not harshly.)

Tomorrow, after we've not missed the missing olives and noshed on wine-swirled cheese food from a jar, after we're stuffed with turkey and Asian fruit salad and chocolate creme pie made from Jell-O pudding, after having consumed Mom's pumpkin pie and massive quantities of several varieties of tubers mashed with butter, we will begin making the bad music. There will be an Irish drum, a Chinese fiddle, a Romanian mandolin, a German-made ukulele, a dulcimer my dad assembled from a kit, and a bunch of guitars manufactured in Japan.

We'll perform our standards: "Teach Your Children", "This Little Light of Mine", "Rocky Raccoon", "Ripple", "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Your Cheatin' Heart." Our raucous chorus will be as American as the apple pie that got passed over for the pudding tart.

For all these things, I offer thanks to the One who gives us breath.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newt's back, and I'm a facist

...and maybe you are, too. Did you oppose Proposition 8, the onerous California ballot measure that put an end to same-sex marriage in that state? Are you gay? Do you believe in the separation of church and state? Well, then, you just may be part of "a gay, secular fascism," according to our thrice-married former speaker. Now, why would the disgraced leader of a momentary revolution choose to hang his hat in this issue? Your blogstress explains over at The Guardian America:

When Georgia senator Saxby Chambliss found himself facing a runoff, his campaign called in the big guns, including Gingrich and John McCain, ABC News reported, to campaign for him. It is said that Jim Martin, the Democratic challenger to Chambliss, cannot win without strong support in his runoff battle from African-Americans. Gingrich and his compatriots have apparently taken note of two facts. First, in California, exit polls showed that African-Americans voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage. Second, Jim Martin is a friend to Georgia's gay community – named a "key gay ally", in fact, by the Southern Voice, Atlanta's LGBT newspaper.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sarah Palin on the "Today" show: workin' it

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post

There a lot of things one can say about Sarah Palin, but this one cannot be disputed: by one measure, at least, she is true to her word. Sarah Palin is not going anywhere.

That, you'll recall, is what the Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas on the day before Halloween, "I think that if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we've taken, that -- that would bring this whole -- I'm -- I'm not doing this for naught."

When her remarks were widely interpreted as indication of a likely 2012 presidential, she artfully dialed back. The day after the Vargas interview, she told me, "I'll be campaigning for John McCain's re-election in 2012."

That commitment now wiped off the slate by reality's eraser, Palin has set off on a charm offensive that will serve her well should she choose to toss her hat back into the ring of national politics. In this morning's Today show interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Palin came off as endearingly combative, calling the unnamed leakers quoted in Newsweek "cowards", and cooking a halibut and salmon casserole for Lauer -- while being interviewed.

For the sit-down portion of the interview, which took place in the governor's office, she wore a jacket more reminiscent -- in color, if not cut -- of those she began the campaign with. Her hair was pulled up in a relaxed manner that suggested she did it herself. She denied all the talk about her alleged extravagance in the purchase of her campaign wardrobe, telling Lauer that her campaign duds were being purchased by the Republican National Committee before she ever even arrived in St. Paul for the Republican National Convention. Of Neiman Marcus, the high-end retailer that an unnamed McCain adviser claimed had been "looted" by "Wasilla hillbillies," Palin said, "I've never even been in those stores..."

Far more interesting than her denials, however, was her failure to deny Lauer's suggestion that it was the decision of McCain's people to keep her from the press, and her assertion that she would have liked to talk more to the media (which she once famously derided). "You can't just assume that the voters are going to be able to guess what's going on," she said, and that means talking to the media.

Which she's doing with a vengeance. Literally. Just ask those "cowards" who leaked the allegation about Palin not knowing that Africa is a continent, or that she greeted male campaign staffers while wearing nothing but a towel.

More important, though, than Palin's own self-redemption crusade is the national media's continued interest in her. And who can blame them? Like Barack Obama, Palin is a bundle of contradictions and seeming non sequiturs -- a bundle that represents the tensions in play in the lives of many Americans. In Obama, the tensions of race, culture and the structure of the modern, blended family were all brought into play. In Palin, as Katha Pollitt has sagely written, is the irony of the ambitious and talented woman who embraces a conservative, truly right-wing, worldview. As Lauer interviewed her in her Wasilla kitchen, it may have been the governor herself who made the casserole, but her hunky, blue-collar husband held the baby with utter comfort, patting him nonchalantly as if this is something he does every day (because it is).

I've heard liberals say that Palin's the one they want their president to face in 2012. And given her performance with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, I can understand why.

But Sarah Palin is not stupid. She's no Barack Obama, but she's not dumb. Needs a little schooling, but I suspect she's a quick study. And who knows what the president-elect will face in the next four years? Absent a credible ideology on the real problems facing America -- the economy, international relations, health care -- the Republicans have little left to run on but the culture wars. While that may seem so yesterday, the passage of anti-gay ballot measures in a handful of states on Tuesday proves the wars have not yet ended. And Sarah Palin could prove to be a great warrior icon -- Alaska's own Brigid, goddess of hearth and war.

In the Wasilla segment of Lauer's interview, the adorable grade-schooler, Piper Palin, was asked how she would feel if, when she's 11 years old in 2012, her mom came to her and said, we're going run again. (Lauer was not specific as to which office.) Piper turned up her palms and said, with a little laugh, "I don't know."

Her mom didn't miss a beat. "Would you want to do it again, sister?" asked Sarah Palin as she stirred the casserole.

Piper suddenly knew the right answer. "Yeah," she replied.

After all, she hadn't done it for naught.

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Mama Africa has passed on to the next world

In 2000, I had the great honor and pleasure of profiling Miriam Makeba, the great anti-apartheid activist, for Salon. She was at all times purely herself, cantankerous, generous and embracing life. May she rest in peace.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Night Live Blog

Here's a transcript of my Election-Night liveblog for The Huffington Post. I've cleaned it up a bit. Your blogstress so hates to learn that her slip is showing.

Adele Stan: Election Results Liveblog (11/04/2008)

3:26 p.m.

Adele Stan: The religious right, it seems, is already looking past today's election, looking to rally the base once more around the culture wars. Tonight the Family Research Council will host its first-ever election-night Webcast, following not just the presidential and congressional-level races, but paying special attention to those all-important ballot measures -- like California's Proposition 8, the passage of which will end the right to same-sex marriage that California's people won via a court decision several months ago. The issues touted in the teaser video sent around via e-mail by FRC's Tony Perkins include "abortion, gambling, man-woman marriage and stem-cell research."

Below find the code for doing your own opposition research. Get a little bored watching MSNBC and CNN? Check out Tony Perkins advising his foot soldiers on the their post-election battles, click here.

3:40 p.m.

Adele Stan: Called the McCain campaign office, located in northern Virginia, and got nowhere fast in answer to the question of where their local watch party will take place. Not having one, it seems, and not real clear on where any unofficial gatherings will take place. The Republican National Committee will have a party, I was told.

Meanwhile, over at a local Washington, D.C., office for the Obama campaign, a volunteer named Ruth told me that while the campaign isn't doing anything official, there are parties at two big night spots: the 9:30 Club and Busboys & Poets.

Now, where would you rather be?

3:49 p.m.

Adele Stan: Speaking of the religious right, you'll be hearing lots of talk after tonight about the future of the Repubican party. I'm among those who see a potential split -- the question is, will the right wing hold onto the party machinery, or will it march itself out with its grassroots ground game -- perhaps to a venue like Howard Phillips' Constitution Party? Here's my take on that potentiality, at Mother Jones.

4:44 p.m.

Adele Stan: The Huffington Post is reporting that Sarah Palin declined to tell reporters who she voted for in the presidential election. I'm thinking, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. After all, Todd Palin belonged, for seven years to the Constitution Party's state affiliate, the secessionist Alaska Independent Party. And CP Chairman Howard Phillips told me he would be interested in having Palin run as the party's presidential nominee next time out.

5:01 p.m.

Adele Stan: I spend a lot of time in D.C.'s jazz community, which is an extraordinary place to be, really. Among jazz musicians, as you might imagine, there's no shortage of opinions, particularly on things political. Though few people realize it today, jazz was once a very political music -- a form of expression that was anti-establishment by its very nature. At times, it went overt with its politics -- think Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", or the civil rights era music made by Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln. However, because of our nation's less-than-benign neglect of our nation's great indiginous art form, jazz has been left to be the soundtrack for department stores, corporate coffeehouse chains and rich people's cocktail parties. Well, check this out: From Will Galison and his Orchestra comes a ditty worthy of tonight: "Takin' it Back With Barack"" Hat tip to my reader, Rico, who got this from (she posts the lyrics), who got it from Jimmy Heath, who got it from James Moody. Now, there's some provenance for yas.

7:39 p.m.

Adele Stan: I'm hanging out for the moment at the Mother Jones Washington bureau, where the betting long ago left the realm of point spreads and electoral vote counts to what time the networks will call the election (presumably for Obama). The fellas are thinkin' somewhere between 10:45 and 11:16 EST.

I'm about to head over to a Presbyterian church in the Southwest section of DC, where an interesting mix of African-American jazz-lovers, and white gay and lesbian folks all find themselves under the same roof, on account of a jazz ministry and an "open and affirming" congregation. They've opened the church for folks to come watch election results together.

So here's a post that I tried to put up at around the 9:00 hour, I imagine. For some reason, I couldn't get program to load on my laptop from where I was working:

9:00 p.m. (estimated)

Adele Stan: Here in Southwest Washington, DC, I've arrived at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1964 on the ruins of of the razed neighborhoods wrought by a policy known as "urban renewal" that involved destroying the village, ostensibly in order to save it (move it into faceless housing projects).

Westminster's co-pastors, Ruth and Brian Hamilton, made it their business to serve the neighborhood's historic denizens and its new arrivals, housing a non-profit community development corporation that promotes a nourishing jazz and blues ministry, as well as a significant AIDS-prevention program. Westminster is home to a thriving LGBTQ contingent in its congregation.

Tonight, all elements of the Westminster community are represented, as the sanctuary is tranformed into a theater of sorts, with MSNBC projected onto a screen just to the left of the cross, all run through a laptop run by Rev. Brian. Occasionally the screen freezes, but nobody seems to mind. This is a church without pews; the chairs are portable and tonight set at tables, where people chat as the results come in.

In addition to the regulars in the Westminster community here tonight is a table of Austrian graduate students. Nobody really seems to know how they wound up here, including the Austrians, who are all majors in political communications from Danube University in the town of Krems. Apparently, they asked their embassy for a list of election-watch parties, and Westminster wound up on the list. (I suspect the jazz connection for that one.)

I talked to a couple of the students, both of whom are journalists in their home countries. Hannes Gaisch marvelled at our electoral college system. "It's very complicated," he said. Katharina Seidl, a young woman with a chic, bobbed haircut and leather jacket added, "We all favor Obama." Indeed, the woman sitting next to her was wearing an Obama t-shirt.

9:15 p.m. (estimated)

Adele Stan: Back in TV land, somewhere around the same time, there was a weird exchange between Tom DeLay and Chris Matthews on MSNBC. At the time, I wrote it up this way:

Wait -- did Chris Matthews just tell Tom DeLay that he loved the way "you hate"?

Did he really just say, "We always know where you stand, buddy?"

Did DeLay just say very meekly, before being diappeared from the screen, "I don't hate." Wow!

9:58 p.m.

Adele Stan:
If you were going to invent a Christian church the represented the new paradigm, it just might be Westminster Presbyterian Church. Take Rita, who staffs the door on Blue Mondays, when the church hosts its weekly blues concerts. An African-American woman in her late 40s, Rita is a scientist and technician who runs her own business. She was raised, she says, in the AME church, a traditionally African-American denomination that is rather formal in character, but was drawn to Westminister for both its music and the diversity of its congregants.

"You have the mix of people, the mix of sexual orientations and a progressive community," she said. She pointed to a tall, cylindrical sculpture made of stained glass -- a modern rendering of the burning bush that was made in the church's own glass shop. "This flame was [part of] a welfare-to-work program," she said.

On my way out of the church, I was stopped by a white woman in her 40s, wearing a gold t-shirt that said "Firefighters for Obama/Biden." Her husband sat with her, wearing a matching shirt. She grabbed me to say that she reads The Huffington Post every day. The t-shirt she really wanted to wear, she couldn't find, she explained. That would have been "Military Families for Obama/Biden." Her son is in the Army, now stateside, but has been on two deployments -- one to Kuwait, and one to Afghanistan. "I figured with a President Obama, he'd likely get to stay where he is, and with a President McCain, he'd probably see a third deployment."

12:43 a.m.

Adele Stan: Well, folks, it's been a night of great beauty -- but technical glitches. So please forgive the late entries. In fact, lemme work my way a bit backwards, if I may -- or at least skip to THE BIG MOMENT.

I left my multiculti church friends in DC's Southwest quadrant, running a bit behind, having crossed my fingers for a fast enough wireless connection in the church for longer than I should have.

I hoped to make it to my next destination in time to catch the moment when the map gave it to Obama. Instead, I found myself sitting at a subway stop -- and the only white person, as far as I could see -- when the voice of the station supervisor came over the public address system, saying, "Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. Three African-American women, all friends, sitting on the same bench as me, jumped up, shouting and hugging each other. We were all moist in the eyes. Then they noticed me. And embraced me. Little old grey-eyed, spikey-haired me. Then we were all standing in puddles.

When we all stepped on the train, the passengers looked at us, and yelled, "He won?!!" And the whole subway car erupted -- in joy.

2:05 a.m.

Adele Stan:
On that subway train I found Henry Miller, a dark-skinned man, over 50, I'd guess, who is part of a superb a capella quartet called "After the Storm," whom Washingtonians know by their occasional and impromptu concerts at the Metro Center subway stop. Miller was among the riders who were receiving the news of Obama's election by the tears on my compatriots' faces, and he was all but beside himself. But taking note of the youth of the young ladies who had gotten on the train at the same time as me -- the strangers who had hugged me at the subway stop -- he felt the need to explain the cost of tonight's victory.

"A lot of people actually lost their lives so that we would have the right to vote," he said. "People were hung, they were lynched, they were tarred and feathered, and all other sorts of things that were happening. They were dragged on the back of pick-up trucks. And a lot of things took place with our people so that we could have the right to choose who we wanted to have run this country."

He was on his way home he said, to the same neighborhood where he was born and raised: Columbia Heights. A mix of gentrification and immigration has given the population a different mix than was there in Miller's younger days, but it's still home to him.

2:06 a.m.

Adele Stan: I collected some swell audio from my travels tonight, but I can't figure out how to get the file format right for upload. Maybe I'll figure it out before you wake up tomorrow.

2:27 a.m.

Adele Stan: As I sit in an all but vacant office building in downtown Washington, the occasional sounds of revelry and hoopla punctuate the silence.

But nothing could have prepared me for what I found on 14th Street, NW, in the block between U & V -- in fact, in the whole U Street corridor, where people spilled out of night clubs and into the streets, dancing and hugging. The cops gave up trying to move traffic and just cordoned off the area for an improptu street party.

Most of the people were young, but the astonishing thing was the mix of people -- really every color. I went to the great nightspot, Busboys & Poets, where the crowd ran the gamut of age and race. I sat next to a man in his 30s of South Asian descent who spoke with a British accent. People were literally dancing on the tables. Atop one table, a slender black man with long locks, dancing with a dark-haired young white woman. Atop another, three young men -- two white, one brown. At the table by the window? Three white women in their late 50s or early 60s. It was crowded, people were drinking, but no one shoved or groped. Had that lightness of being I last experienced (I think) at a Grateful Dead concert.

Meanwhile, across the street in front of the Frank Reeves Civic center was a scene that would have made Mickey Hart proud. A gaggle of drummers had gathered under a canopy -- again, a rainbow mix, including my good friend J. Scales, the self-styled "high priestess of homo-hop".

Yeah, I think not only are we the ones we've been waiting for -- we really are everything that scares Sarah Palin's "real" Americans. We need to start finding ways to make them less scared of us.

There was lots to love about Obama's acceptance speech, but the part I loved the most may not have been the most lyrical. It was the part were he told the people that had not voted for him that he would need their help. And that he would be their president.

Now we need to learn how to be their artists and writers and adorably wacky creative types, too.

2:35 a.m.

Adele Stan:

I managed to snag a cab out of U Street -- no mean feat, and I'm sure the product of divine intervention. The cab driver was a handsome young man in his 30s, from Morocco by way of Montreal. His family had left the homeland for Canada when he was 15. Then six years ago, he found his way to DC.

I expressed my marvel at having gotten the taxi. "Not many cabs tonight," he said. The cab drivers had stayed home to watch the election results, he said. Really? When they could be out making money?

"Most cab drivers, they don't have health insurance, " he replied. And they were banking on an Obama victory, he said, to change that for him. (And, no, Ezra Klein, I am really not making this up. This guy is your poster cabbie.)

4:35 a.m.

Adele Stan: After my travels, I arrived back at the Mother Jones bureau to find my colleagues and an a handful of their friends sitting rapt before a a television image of Obama, projected on the wall. The speech -- well, you know -- you cried in front of your own television. And though I'm so happy for myself and the rest of my weary, middle-age cohort in this result -- not to mention the many old folks who never thought they'd live to see the day -- this night was really about young people. They really did win this thing. Even when I spoke to older folks, it was their children and grandchildren whose future moved them to support Obama. The soldier's mother, the cabdriver who confessed he had no healthcare for his babies, the young ladies on the train whom the older man felt the need to remind of the cost of this victory. All the beautiful, joyful young people dancing in the streets. My young journalist colleagues intent on every word uttered by Barack Obama in his acceptance speech. This is their world now. Amen.

7:07 a.m.

Adele Stan: What it sounded like on the corner of 14th & U Street, NW, in Washington, DC, upon word of Obama's victory:

Comments from The Huffington Post

4:10 [Comment From Curt Descant]
Adele, Thanks for this post! I watched the video and enjoyed it. You also mentioned "Strange Fruit" and I found this video on YouTube: which brings both sadness and hope to my heart on this evening.

4:11 [Comment From NormBlon]
I will grieve for the Republican Party tomorrow, not because I would support it but about what the extremists and evangelicals have done to it. My advice to any centrist or small-c conservatives remaining is to let that bile-driven crowd keep the Republican tag, and form a new Conservative Party, principled, secular and intelligent. None of these virtues apply to the party of John McCain and Sarah Palin. History was made once today: history could be made again with a new Conservative party, starting tomorrow.

4:11 [Comment From Mike D.]
Hi Adele, TPM and Huff seem to be showing a lot of election problems in Virginia. I have been watching CNN all morning and they have not said a word about Virginia.

4:11 [Comment From carolb777]
wonder why that wasn't broadcast more,,the part about Palin's husband and the Constitution Party?

4:11 [Comment From Richard]
Adele, I hope I can relax sometime later tonight with a good scotch, and Brubeck's Take Five...if McCain wins, I'll need more scotch.

4:12 [Comment From Phil in CA]
Peeps lets get on the phones and make calls. I am on the Obama site blogs and people are getting reports from the field that the lines in FL, NJ and other places are slowing down. Have received emails from the campaign now asking people to get on the phones. Dont be complacent.

4:12 [Comment From Phil in CA]
Peeps lets get on the phones and make calls. I am on the Obama site blogs and people are getting reports from the field that the lines in FL, NJ and other places are slowing down. Have received emails from the campaign now asking people to get on the phones. Dont be complacent.

4:12 [Comment From comrade]
WIth Obama as president do you think there will be web pages with 1000's of Obamaisms like we did to bush????

4:12 [Comment From comrade]
Will we become communist country now?

4:12 [Comment From Darah]
I had hoped someone live blogging would say something nice about Sarah Palin

4:12 [Comment From DurangoSteve]
Chuck Baldwin... now there's a piece of work. He and the Palins might just be best pals.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Live-blogging the election today

...for The Huffington Post.

Check me out there after lunch sometime. (Well, even a blogstress needs to vote, mes amis.)

Have you done your civic duty?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's about equality, silly!

Hard to imagine, but once upon a time, your blogstress was married. Because that is not a condition she is eager to repeat, she is often delinquent in weighing in on the issue of marriage equality. (It is, of course, all about me.)

But the fights over same-sex marriage now being waged across the country -- most notably, in California, where the Proposition 8 ballot measure threatens that state's equal-rights application of its marriage law -- are about more that your or my right to marry the consenting adult of our choice. This battle is about the fundamental equality of all human beings. Period.

Marriage indeed comes with serious responsibilities, as well as significant privileges. For instance, where there is no same-sex marriage, you likely cannot name your same-sex partner as the beneficiary of your pension, if you have one. You cannot be named "next of kin," so you may be barred from visiting your partner in the hospital. If a same-sex couple raises a child together, one partner may lose all right to custody should that couple break up.

And that's just the part about gay people. Then there's everybody else.

The war against "gay marriage" is not simply a war against queer folk, though we're clearly in the cross-hairs. Its a form of "spiritual warfare" waged on behalf of a world view that would subjugate women, inflict on unwilling participants a restrictive and fear-based religion, and marginalize any group that constitutes a minority.

Is that the world in which you want to live?

In California, vote no on Proposition 8. For information on ballot measures in your state, check out Hans Johnson's list at Progressive Victory [PDF file].

For more info on the bloggerific Write to Marry Day event, check out Mombian

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Palin's Pal: A Feminist of Her Own

cross-posted from The Huffington Post

Can you be a supporter of Sarah Palin and still be a feminist? Well, I guess you could call yourself a feminist -- that is, if you think that, as a woman, you still have rights equal to those of a man when:

* You do not have the right of self-determination over your own body
* Even if impregnated through rape or incest you are forced to bear a child
* You're told you're entitled to equal pay, but forbidden to sue for it under most circumstances
* Information on how to prevent your own pregnancy is withheld from you in sex education classes
* If you're a spiritually powerful or otherwise unusual woman, your harassment can justified as protection from "witchcraft"

In that case, I guess it could be said that Elaine Lafferty, a former Ms. magazine editor proudly stumping for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is a feminist. Otherwise, it just doesn't add up.

In an apparent diversion from answering the question of how a femiminst could possibly support an anti-choice ticket that also opposes legislation that would lengthen the statute of limitations in pay discrimination suits, Elaine Lafferty, in an essay appearing on The Daily Beast, admonished as sexist other feminists who challenged Palin's intelligence. This she conflated with actual sexism directed at Palin by male commentators. Nice try. But just because men (including right-wing men) have made sexist comments about Palin, and a few feminists, for good reason (given the media record), have mistaken Palin for being less intelligent than she is doesn't mean that Palin's a feminist. It just means she's a woman (a.k.a, sexism target) who can't name her least favorite Supreme Court cases, or tell us what magazines she reads.

The two feminists Lafferty insults are pioneers -- one was Ms.'s first and longest-serving editor; the other created and produces the first all-women political talk show.

I don't take lightly this challenging of Lafferty's feminist credentials; I've been on the receiving end of such criticism myself, from time to time, and I know the sting. But I've never supported an opponent of women't rights, and as a former Ms. staffer myself (before Lafferty's time), I feel betrayed by her support of a candidate who, taking advantage of an opening won by the efforts of feminists, would set back the cause of women's rights by decades.

I can't imagine how, as a feminist, one can support a candidate who couldn't bring herself to describe, in her interview by NBC's Brian Williams, an abortion clinic bomber as a "terrorist." Bill Ayers, she said, was a terrorist, but "others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don't know if you're going to use the word terrorist there."

Does Palin doubt that Claudia Gilmore, paralyzed from the chest down by the shotgun of an anti-choice fanatic, is a victim of terrorism? Perhaps during the long plane rides she describes in her Daily Beast essay, Lafferty could put that question to Palin, since she's the only feminist writer with any access to the candidate. (Would that Kathy G. or Ann Friedman could put a few questions to her.)

With no real refutation, Lafferty dismisses as hogwash any association of Palin with the far right. So, we are to make nothing of Palin's recent video shout-out to the annual convention of the Alaska Independence Party -- itself a secessionist movement and the state affiliate of the Constitution Party, whose platform calls for a return to the biblical law of the Old Testament. "The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations..." reads the platform preamble, which also claims the United States as a nation founded by Christians. First Dude Todd Palin belonged to the Alaska Independence Party for seven years -- until around the time his wife embarked on an unsuccessful run for the office of lieutenant governor in 2002.

I'm wondering if, on those long plane rides, Lafferty has asked Palin about the Wasilla City Council photo of her with a copy of the John Birch Society's magazine, The New American, sitting on the desk before her. The Birch Society, an anti-communist organization, also stands in opposition to most equal-rights movements, including the women's movement, according to the Web site of Political Research Associates, which researches right-wing organizations.

And while the blessing Palin received from one Rev. Thomas Muthee (famously preserved on video) asking for protection from "all forms of witchcraft" may seem pretty comical, it's really not when one considers that Muthee has a record of harassing women as "witches," having even driven one woman out of her hometown for allegedly causing accidents. It's a misogynist ruse as old as the Inquisition, and not one to be taken lightly as a part of Palin's belief system.

As far as I can tell, the biggest difference between Sarah Palin and Phyllis Schlafly is that Palin has expressed support for Title IX, the law that opened up educational opportunities, especially in athletic competition, to women. But other than that, she's pretty dern Schlaflyesque.

Like Sarah Palin, Phyllis Schlafly has long been the target of sexism in her own party. One of the conservative movement's foremost intellects, Schlafly is rarely celebrated as such, and instead finds herself relegated to the G.O.P.'s ladies' auxiliary. So, if I, as a feminist, decided to support Phyllis Schlafly in a bid for a job that offers a direct line of ascendency to the presidency -- would I still be a feminist? After all, I'd just be defending a target of sexism from people -- feminists -- who say mean stuff about her. And isn't that what feminism's all about -- empowering a female opponent of women's empowerment because she's victim of sexism? And to think that, all these years, I've gotten it wrong.

Hat-tip to Frank Gilligan of Beltway Sewer for the Blue Hampshire link.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

For more info on this bloggerific event, check out Mombian

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Palin Chronicles: Wedge-Setting 101

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post

While at first she seemed a formidable force, Sarah Palin, in recent days, has offered her critics the delight of feeling blithely superior as she stammered her way through questions put to her by two network news anchors. But while liberals and progressives revel in the riches of embarrassment that Palin has rendered in her interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, they're missing the opportunity to exploit the Palin boondoggle for all it's worth.

Taking on Palin's shortcomings on their merits is all well and good but, alas, there are plenty of people, a.k.a. right-wing voters, who don't give a hoot about what she knows and doesn't know, so long as she opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. A bigger bang for the buck exists in exploiting the fissures within the right that the Palin candidacy has exposed.

Yes, a certain cadre of conservative columnists has called on Palin to remove herself from the McCain ticket for the sake of the cause. These folks -- George Will, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, David Frum, Charles Krauthamer -- are mortified by the apparent know-nothingness exhibited by John McCain's vice presidential pick. But in reality, their opinions mean more to their counterparts on the left than they do to the foot soldiers of their own movement. These columnists are the right's own elite -- not the movement conservatives. As John McCain himself sneeringly described them, they are "Georgetown cocktail-party person[s]".

Movement conservatives, on the other hand, will have nothing of this notion that Palin is the problem. McCain's sinking numbers, they say, stem from his refusal to let Palin be Palin.

At the Constitution Day celebration of the Conservative Caucus two weeks ago, I had the occasion to speak with Howard Phillips, founder of the Conservative Caucus and the Constitution Party, the theocratic third party to which Todd Palin belonged for seven years through its Alaska affiliate, the Alaska Independence Party.

"Well, Pat Buchanan did a good column in which he said that she's a great gal, but she's being ruined by McCain, who's making her toe the party line," Phillips told me, in apparent concurrence.

In his September 16 column, Buchanan alleges that, during the Republican National Convention, the McCain campaign called off a meeting that Palin had scheduled with Phyllis Schlafly, the intellectual force behind the New Right's theory and rhetoric (and who will never be acknowledged as such because she is a woman). The McCain people, Buchanan said, said that Palin needed to rest up for her convention speech, but whisked her, instead, into a meeting with Sen. Joseph Lieberman and the American Israel Public Affairs Commitee (AIPAC), one of Buchanan's least favorite organizations on the planet. He goes on to say that Sarah Palin has become a neocon "project."

The neocons, he wrote, "are moving even now to capture this princess of the right and hope of the party."

Richard Viguerie, who with Phillips and Paul Weyrich, virtually founded the religious right, weighed in several days ago with similar sentiments: "McCain has to get rid of these Bush people around Palin," he wrote on Sept. 28, "along with the lobbyists and the folks from the Washington PR firms, and replace them with principled conservatives who have experience making the case for conservatism."

I, for one, have been flummoxed by Palin's sudden inarticulateness on matters for which movement conservatives generally have a raft of pat answers gleaned from their movement's literature. And that's where the problem may indeed lie. As The Guardian's Michael Tomasky recently suggested, it's possible that the reading Palin has done is largely in the journals of the right, and she may have been advised not to mention any of them, thus explaining her ridiculous reply to Katie Couric's question, "[W]hat newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this?" Palin: "Um, all of them..."

In fact, a photograph has surfaced of Palin at her Wasilla City Council desk; before her lays a loose leaf binder open to a publication by the John Birch Society, which made its name opposing both communism and the civil rights movement.

Buchanan suggested that Palin, left to her own devices, shows her true colors. "Sarah Palin is no neocon," he wrote. "She did not come by her beliefs by studying Leo Strauss. She is a traditionalist whose values are those of family, faith, community and country, not some utopian ideology."

Right. Her values lie in a dystopian theology -- but that's a column for another day. Back to Buchanan:

Wasilla, Alaska, is not a natural habitat of neoconservatives.

And her unrehearsed answers to Gibson's questions reveal her natural conservatism. Asked if she agrees with the Bush Doctrine, Palin asked for clarification. "In what respect, Charlie?"

Gibson: "Do we have the right of an anticipatory self-defense?"

Yes, said Palin, "if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against (the) American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."

Exactly. The intelligence must be legit and the threat "imminent."

I imagine the same goes for the Supreme Court cases. The cases she would oppose as a movement conservative -- Griswold, which gave us contraception; Marbury, which gave us judicial review, for example -- would tip her hand, should she utter their names. So, instead, she was rendered mute.

At the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., last month, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told me, "I think there is no question that there was a lack of enthusiasm [for John McCain] among social conservative voters until he made that pick." They trust McCain, those social conservatives, as much as they trust elites like Will and Brooks. "You know, when there was discussion of a pro-abortion-rights running mate, nothing could dampen the base more than that, when 73 percent of delegates to the Republican convention were identified as pro-life," Perkins explained.

And who was one of those prospective "pro-abortion-rights running mate[s]"? Joe Lieberman, the guy for whom Buchanan's "princess of the right" was made to snub Phyllis Schlafly, la doyenne du droit.

If progressives really want to derail McCain's Zig-Zag Express, they'll put as much effort into playing up the backstage drama of establishment v. right wing as they will playing to the hall. Dare the Republican establishment to truly own Palin, and wave her defection from her right-wing colleagues before their eyes.

Don't allow Pat Buchanan to play a normal Republican on TV; challenge him to defend his columns on MSNBC. Make George Will answer to Richard Viguerie's complaint during his ABC News gig. If nobody will do that, e-mail the networks.

Step one: set wedge. Step two: grab mallet.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Archbishop Eagan has no moral standing

In this morning's edition of "Meet the Press", host Tom Brokaw confronted Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden with an admonishment delivered to Nancy Pelosi by Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan of New York in response to Pelosi's assertion that "doctors of the Church have not been able to define when life begins and that over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy."

Egan issued a statement that concluded: "Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being 'chooses' to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name."

Biden handled the situation brilliantly, stating that his personal belief that life begins at conception stems from his faith (ergo, not science), and he has no right to impose his faith on others. When pressed on the Pelosi/Egan controversy, Biden showed off his Jesuit education, explaining that St. Thomas Aquinas asserted that human life did not begin at conception.

On the matter of the cardinal archbishop of New York, it is well-known that for the last 24 years, that spot is earned through a willingness to display contempt for women -- especially women politicians. In Egan's case, the contempt extends to young people of both sexes. Seems that once a fetus becomes a child, he or she loses all entitlement of protection from Archbishop Egan, who kept vicious predators in place in his parishes as priests, even after complaints of their transgressions against children had come to light. Here's a 2002 transcript from CNN's now-defunct "American Morning with Paula Zahn," in which Jack Cafferty interviews Eric Rich, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, the newspaper that uncovered Egan's cover-up of predator priests when Egan led the Connecticut Archdiocese of Bridgeport:

ERIC RICH: Well, what we were able to conclude is that Egan allowed several priests who were accused of sexual misconduct to remain in ministry for years after accusations surfaced and...

JACK CAFFERTY: So there was a conscious effort to not only allow the priests, who were accused of these activities, to continue, but to in effect keep this information also out of the public view, right?

RICH: That's right. There was that. There was that, yes. We had three priests that we focused on. One was a priest who actually had bitten the penis of a teenager during a nonconsensual sex act. He was one of three that Edward Egan allowed to remain in parish work.

Aired March 18, 2002 - 07:11 ET

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amy Goodman arrested

Amy Goodman, the host of Pacifica's "Democracy Now!" radio program, has been arrested in St. Paul while trying to free two of her producers. All manner of mayhem has broken out in the Twin Cities, with water hoses and tear gas being used in answer to a handful of some 50 or so ruffians who went on a window-breaking spree after breaking away from a 10,000-strong peace march. Yesterday, police raided at least one peace group's headquarters -- a private home -- with guns drawn.

Here's the press release from "Democracy Now!":

Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested At the RNC


September 1, 2008

Denis Moynihan 917-549-5000
Mike Burke 646-552-5107,

ST. PAUL, MN—-Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here:

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation's leading independent news outlet.

Democracy Now!
is a nationally syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman's Arrest:

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FEMA getting it done

It appears that FEMA is doing a good job in Louisiana. Of course, the real test is yet to come, since FEMA's real job is to deal with the post-disaster issues of housing and general survival of storm survivors and evacuees. Your blogstress hopes the administration truly learned its lessons and has heeded the advice of what career civil service employees remain in its ranks. What happened during FEMA was not some sort of general incompetence on the part of FEMA's rank and file; it was the result of the politicization of the agency by the Bush administration. Indeed, well ahead of Katrina, FEMA workers tried to turn the attention of Congress to the lack of readiness created by political decisions made by the administration, but found no takers for the suggestion of an investigation.

Here's Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal's Storm Tracker blog:

After overseeing one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will now shift its focus to taking care of evacuees immediate needs and then rebuilding communities lashed by Hurricane Gustav.

"We did a very good collective job in term of response, and we’ll do an equally effective job with recovery,” said Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey Johnson, a retired Coast Guard admiral said Monday. "Act Two is about to unfold."

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Gustavian politics

In light of fears that the GOP will exploit the suffering of Gulf-Coast people to its own favor, Michael Tomasky says, not so fast:

Now consider a flood, especially in the aftermath of Katrina, and especially a flood hitting an urban area, a situation that finds many African American people being interviewed on television, as is the case today. Your average American is not going to bring information to this picture that will make her conclude that the Republicans are the party to handle this. She will think, without even really knowing that she's thinking it, that this is a matter for the Democrats to take care of – that the Democrats will handle this situation with more empathy and, post-Katrina, more competence.


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Tear gas, water cannons on RNC protesters

UPDATE: Joe Johns of CNN said the police were responding to a small group that broke away from the main protest in order to break windows and "generally make a nuisance of themselves."

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Gustav hits Baton Rouge

This is a problem for everyone in Lousiana, since Baton Rouge is the staging area for first response elsewhere in the state. Accoring to CNN, the FEMA command center lost power temporarily, and may now be running on emergency generators.

Your blogstress was in Baton Rouge less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, and it's hard to overstate the role of the Red Stick in managing such a crisis.

UPDATE: Turns out, according to CNN, that a transformer was blown, and the power company was able to reroute power to the command center.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where's FEMA?

Over at Democracy Arsenal, Moira Whelan asks why the military appears to be in charge of the management of the areas expected to be slammed by Hurricane Gustav. After all, this is supposed to be a matter for FEMA and the governor of the affected state:

I just noticed that the daily brief customarily done in advance of a hurricane is happening because Gustov is bearing down on the Gulf Coast…but a big shift here: the briefing is being given by NORTHCOM. So what does this tell us and why does it matter? It tells us that things are as broken as they were before Katrina.

The military, like EPA, Commerce, or anyone else, is only involved in emergency management to the point that they are requested to do so by the governor or the FEMA director (who acts on behalf of the President).


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Ridge/Lieberman fake-out

Calm yourselves, mes amis! Yes, yes, I understand how exciting all this veep stuff is, and how thrilling it would be to see the religious right wing beside itself with the selection of a pro-choice vice presidential candidate by John McCain, the Republican heir apparent. I so hate to bust up this party, but do listen up: It ain't gonna happen. No way, no how.

And you diligent righties out there, doing your oppo, reading the HuffPo: Guess what? This is not about you. Hard to believe, I know; but it's really not. It's about that handful of Hillary Clinton supporters who are having a hard time bringing themselves to vote for the black guy. Really.

It was only eight years ago that this game was tried by a guy named George W. Bush, who had vanquished, in a dirty-tricks primary, a guy named John McCain, who was said to be on Bush's short list as a possible vice presidential pick. But the name that had everybody really excited was that of Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor.

In 2000, the Republican National Convention took place at the end of July in Philadelphia, which served to amplify the speculation over Ridge, who was well-known by local media. Meanwhile, a well-heeled group of Republican pro-choice women were promising trouble, threatening a floor fight at the convention. (They came within three delegate votes of pulling it off -- a terribly under-reported story.)

Bush held his veep card close to his vest while the platform hearings took place in Philly, just ahead of the convention. Keeping Ridge's name in contention, he created a sense of hopefulness among the women of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, only to pop their balloon two days before the convention with the announcement of the Cheney pick. Consequently, he had a rather peaceful run-up to the convention. And polling showed that Bush's numbers bumped up among Pennsylvanians when Ridge's name was joined to his.

A day or so after Bush announced his selection of Dick Cheney as his running mate, Tom Ridge revealed that he had privately withdrawn his name from consideration nearly a month before, but agreed to stay quiet while Bush floated it to placate those troublesome ladies.

Here are John Dickerson and James Carney reporting in the August 1, 2000, edition of Time:

Bush was so secretive about the process that he kept even his closest aides in the dark. He would poll them at senior staff meetings--"Give me your top three picks!" he would demand--but he would never play the game. He flirted publicly with "bold" contenders like Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania's pro-choice Governor, but never let on that Ridge had quietly taken himself out of the running in early July, citing family considerations.
John McCain was evidently paying attention. Ridge has shown himself to be an excellent toady to his party's big guns, and he's doubtless playing the same role for McCain that he did for Bush: selling his pro-choice principles to aid the misogynist, anti-choice cause. And the flotation of Lieberman's name serves much the same cause, with the addition of sending a signal to the portion of the Jewish electorate who ordinarily vote Democratic, but are reluctant to vote for Obama.

Serving a different purpose, McCain is borrowing a technique from the man his has come to hug. Unlike Bush in 2000, McCain's aim is not to appease a segment of his own party, but rather to lure in independents and those Democrats who are having a hard time coming to terms with their prejudices. By floating the names of Ridge and Sen. Joe Lieberman as potential running-mates, McCain signals to them, "See, I'm really not so bad. I understand you. I even like people who talk like you, who look like you."

With Lieberman and Ridge appearing to be in the mix, McCain baits the right to respond with its typical mix of threats and victim-consciousness, which will allow him to say in the end, "I'm so sorry, my friends, my base wouldn't let me run with your guy; but you know I'll do you right once I'm elected."

So, let's everybody relax a bit. And will somebody ask Tom Ridge if he's taken his name out of the running yet?

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The One: McCain skips meanness; goes straight to evil

This is not just a mean ad put out by the McCain campaign, though that it is. This is not simply a dishonest ad, though it's truly that, too. This is an evil ad. It makes a mockery of people's beliefs and presents Barack Obama as a false messiah. (That's anti-Christ to you, Bub. "So what?" asks Bub. "Oh, and that's Beƫlzebub to you, missy.")

Two artfully clipped comments from Barack Obama appear here. The one in which Obama's says he's become a symbol omits the humble part of Obama's statement -- the part where he says it's not about him. When asked why he received such an enthusiastic reception in Germany, Obama replied that the crowds weren't applauding for him, they were applauding what his candidacy symbolized: "America returning to its best traditions." McFaustus cuts the quote to make it look like Obama is aggrandizing himself. Later, the ad presents Obama's joking characterization of how Hillary Clinton's campaign characterized him as if Obama is saying this about himself: that the voter will be bathed in a light that will "tell you to vote for Barack."

Seems like someone in the McCain camp is sitting at the famous Crossroads of blues legend, waiting for a deal.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where's the blogstress?

It may be tempting to think that your blogstress has simply abandoned her cause for the bohemian lifestyle of which she dreams, but temptation disappoints. Non, mes amis, your blogstress continues to spend her days consuming bon-bons in her dressing-gown while watching C-SPAN. These days, however, the results of her research are more often reported on the blog she now has at The Huffington Post:

Do tune in. Most recently your cybertrix broke the news of the apparent endorsement of Barack Obama's Afghanistan plan by the Afghan ambassador to the U.S.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Brian Beutler - staying alive, laughing

This morning came word that your blogstress's colleague and friend, Brian Beutler, that gifted young reporter, blogger and crypto-crooner, had taken three bullets in his mass, thanks to a botched robbery on a Washington, D.C., street. And he lives. And cracks wise. And, miraculously, is expected to make a full recovery.

For the record, Beutler has done some of the best reporting on the Bush administration's flouting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that she has read anywhere. And she would say that even if she wasn't his editor.

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Scott Upright

Your blogstress last week lost her good friend, the composer Scott Upright, to his defeat by a longstanding illness.

Scott was an artist of a most unusual sort; his gifts seemed unlimited to any one medium or discipline. He was an accomplished singer, composer, choreographer and designer. And cook. And human. And, above all, friend.

Your cybertrix is bereft.

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AWOL blogstress

With so much going on in the world outside your blogstress's mien, she has be slow to apply the cursor to her own breakaway republic. Do forgive, mes amis.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Rahm "the bomb" Emanuel plays it cool

Check out HuffPo's Nico Pitney on the Democrats' congressional Chicago strongman and his role in the presidential contest.

Don't worry, he effectively tells Pitney; those who have not endorsed will come along soon.


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Tim Russert

Word of the passing of Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief and host of "Meet the Press" is sad indeed. Sad because Russert appeared to so enjoy the twists and turns of this year's presidential contest, a contest whose end he will not get to enjoy from this earthly plane.

Your blogstress didn't know Tim Russert, but on the night of the New Hampshire primary, she enjoyed a rather charmed encounter with him. In the bar of the Radisson in Manchester, where tout le monde was eating dinner that night, I was standing at the bar awaiting takeout when Russert walked in with Mike Barnicle. The days and hours leading up to polling day had been quite the ride. Hillary was inevitable, then was destined to lose, according to pundits and pollsters. By the day of the primary, word began circulating that she might pull it off.

Making small talk, I asked Russert how it was looking to him. (The polls had yet to close.) Standing next to me, he unrolled a handful of papers onto the bar. They contained the network's own exits. He went through them with me, exuding the glee of an astonished kid. I just happened to be the bystander in the right spot -- next to a fellow who was looking to share his sense of surprise.

The guy loved his work.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Intersectional orientation

Forgive your blogstress, mes amis, for having neglected you for so long. Your cybertrix, of course, was off doing worthy things, such as attending the National Conference on Media Reform (thanks to a scholarship from the outstanding organization, Free Press, Inc.), getting marooned in the Atlanta airport for a day on her way back to DC from Minneapolis, and then doing a lot of sweating in her 100-plus-degree oppo factory, which happened to lose its air conditioning on the hottest day of the year.

But now -- rejoice -- your Webwench returns with a new collaboration in The Huffington Post. In answer to Linda Hirshman's instruction to the feminist movement (something of a white woman's manifesto) that ran in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post, Shireen Mitchell and your ecrivaine today responded with our defense of what has become known as "intersectionality." (Kinda sexy, non?)

To find out what that means, check us out in HuffPo:


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hillary as veep pick: a very bad idea

Check out your blogstress's debut on The Huffington Post as a featured blogger commenting on why it would be such a bad idea for Barack Obama to name Hillary Clinton as his running mate -- especially bad for women.


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Great discussion of the Obama movement

It may have taken place last month, but this discussion on GritTV about the phenomenon that is Barack Obama and the movement he leads is particulary timely now, the day after Barack clinches the nomination.

This segment features the force of nature that is Laura Flanders moderating a roundtable featuring three of your blogstress's favorite men: The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg, Afro-Netizen founder Chris Rabb and the brilliant novelist Walter Mosely.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nomination night: history made

And so Barack Obama continues his Taoist path to the presidency, delivering a speech tonight that failed to note the obvious: for the first time, an African-American has clinched a major-party nomination.

After Hillary Clinton refused to graciously concede -- delivering a speech that sought to hang her 18 million voters as a sword over the head of Barack -- Obama could, perhaps, be forgiven for beginning his valedictory with a sourpuss. Nonetheless, his response of praise for the former first lady only advanced his own cause.

I do think that all the hysteria among pundits and journalists about the fact that she did not concede tonight is just that: hysteria. They're all frantic over the fact that she used that opportunity to ask her supporters to write to her via her Web site to tell her whether or not to quit.

Oh, come on, people. What do campaign Web sites primarily exist for? The collection of dough. Her campaign is in debt. She needs more, and luring in her most dedicated supporters to say, "stay the course," gives her the opportunity to ask for more.

As for the veep, your blogstress just doesn't see it. She would be fine, but her husband would wreck it.

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Obama needs to raise McCain's Iraq by one Aghanistan

Watching John McCain speak tonight from Louisiana, throwing down a gauntlet to Barack Obama, it became apparent that McCain's election theme will be that Obama refuses to go to Iraq to meet with Gen. Petraeus to see the good work our troops have done there, even as he promises to negotiate with bad guys like Iran's President Ahmadinejad.

Obama needs to go to Afghanistan and challenge McCain to do the same. There, he should meet with the under-resourced troops who pool their won dollars to help get stuff done for Afghans -- sort of like inner city schoolteachers here.

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The guys are getting nervous

With Barack Obama poised to declare victory tonight as the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, conversations among liberals and progressives now turn to the veepstakes. Suddenly, I feel the nervousness of liberal white guys, many of whom have convinced themselves that the only choice Obama should make is of a white man with a military background.

Is all about the pragmatic goals of winning, they tell me. Gotta get those white, male votes. As if the white female voters who followed Hillary Clinton are chopped liver.

News for yas, fellas: The ladies' are the votes you need. The white guys who love the war are not going to vote for Obama, even if he has an antiwar general on his ticket. Pick an outright sexist like Jim Webb -- whose reasoning during the Tailhook scandal would have one believe that today's generals bear no responsibility for the rampant sexual harassment and assault of female soldiers by their male counterparts in today's Army -- and you'll alienate a whole lot of women while failing to win many white male warmongers to the fold.

Your blogstress's hunch: The prospect of a ticket that features no one who looks like them has a number of liberal white guys very anxious.

Get over it, guys. Welcome to the change we can believe in.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Obama: leaving his spiritual home

And so it came to pass that Barack Obama felt the need to leave his church. After the egomania of retired Pastor Jeremiah Wright caused Obama endless woes on the campaign trail (not to mention a National Review cover story on black liberation theology), your blogstress finds some irony in the fact that the final blow to Obama's ability to remain both a member of Trinity United Church of Christ and a viable presidential candidate came in the form of a sermon from a Roman Catholic priest, Michael Pfleger.

Speaking a guest preacher in Trinity's sanctuary, Pfleger mocked Hillary Clinton's tearful moment in New Hampshire, saying she was crying only because she was losing to Obama, a black man, while she is white, "entitled", and "Bill's wife."

For one, your blogstress is not surprised to hear such sexist and demeaning comments flow from the mouth of a Catholic priest. Only this week, the pope reaffirmed church policy to excommunicate Catholic official who dares to ordain a woman priest, or any woman who would be so ordained. No misogyny there!

Still, I can't help but wonder if, had Chris Dodd or Joe Biden come this close to winning the nomination, they would have been forced to leave their churches for whatever disparaging remarks their pastors may have uttered -- perhaps towards women or queer people -- from their Roman Catholic pulpits.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You know the preacher likes the cold
A brief history of the courts and the religious right on gay marriage

From your blogstress's fellow traveler, In These Times columnist Hans Johnson, comes this informative analysis of California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage last week in the nation's most populous state. Here's a taste:

Sixty years ago, against a steep and contrary bent of public opinion, the same court upheld the right of a Mexican American woman, Andrea Perez, to marry her African-American sweetheart, Sylvester Davis, in Los Angeles. It took two decades for the U.S. Supreme Court to finally follow California’s lead and nix all such bans on interracial marriages.

In the current marriage case, Carlos Moreno, the court’s sole Latino justice, and two others joined the ruling by George, an appointee of former Republican governor Pete Wilson. George became the court’s chief justice the very month (May 1996) that fellow Californian Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, confounded religious conservatives by striking down an antigay amendment to the Colorado constitution. The measure aimed to obliterate and forever outlaw any protection in any area of life against antigay bias, no matter how severe. Kennedy countered with simple declarative grace that even a majority of voters cannot make gay people "strangers to the law."

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Friday, May 16, 2008

We are programmed to receive...

Indeed the time did arrive, mes amis, for your blogstress to offer an adult-type comment on yesterday's decision by the California Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage. Adult-type meaning an expression of opinion that goes beyond your Webwench's native suspicion of marriage as a desirable state.

And so, your ecrivaine dares to posit, at The Guardian's lively opinion site, Comment is Free, that when the "gay marriage" decision becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, it will likely hurt John McCain more than it will the Democratic nominee.


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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free to submit to the ties that bind

Having been married once, your blogstress has never been one to beat the gay-marriage drum so loudly. While she understands that there are no equal rights for queer folk until we are free to marry within our own gender frames, it is an issue with such improbable personal ramifications for your Webwench that she has scarely ever worked up a dewy glow over it. Marriage is marriage, with all the attendant dynamics, and once was enough for your ecrivaine. She simply doesn't see where being married to a woman would be much of an improvement on that shopworn theme.

That said, today's decision from the California Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage is a mind-blower. It's good stuff on the rights front. Gonna be evil in the presidential election.

My solution? Keep the state out of the marriage biz altogether. Marriage is the business of the churches.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bloch party

The plot thickens in the strange tale of the paleo-Catholic, gay-baiting, Rove-hating Bush administration nemesis and appointee, Scott Bloch, who heads the Office of Special Counsel. We recently learned from the Associated Press (AP) that shortly after the departure of Karl Rove from the White House, a task force for an investigation launched by Bloch stood poised to request documents from the Justice Department, only to have Bloch shut down the probe.

The investigation was focused on the possible political use of federal prosecutors to smear Don Siegelman, the Democratic governor of Alabama, in a way that would prevent his re-election. It is suspected that Rove was involved.

I have long suspected that another investigation led by Bloch's office that looked at the use of government personnel by Rove's office in conducting political operations in the 2006 elections on behalf of the Republican Party was the thing that caused Rove to resign. But perhaps that was just the beginning. Even with Rove gone, the probe into the Siegelman matter may have led even beyond Rove.

Either way, Bloch, no saint himself, seems to have been unequal to his self-appointed task of exacting revenge on Turd Blossom.

Yesterday, Rove refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on his role in the Siegelman affair, offering only to answer questions in writing.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Raid on Office of Special Counsel: it's about the upcoming elections

Crowded out of news coverage by the election and the tragedy in Burma is the curious case of Scott Bloch, who heads the Bush administration's Office of Special Counsel. Anybody who doubts the penchant for vindictiveness exercised by Club Bush -- or the long reach of departed Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove -- should view the case of Bloch as a cautionary tale.

Bloch started off as what appeared to be a team player, using his office to terrorize gay people who worked in government -- especially those career attorneys who worked in his office. But when Bloch's antics began to chalk up bad publicity, he was asked to resign, and refused. Then he set about finding his pound of flesh -- in none other than Turd Blossom (as Rove is affectionately called by the president). As your blogstress wrote last year at The American Prospect Online:

Bloch's inquiry lifted the lid on what many of us, dismissed as too partisan to be heeded, had already known: that under Rove's tutelage, every federal agency that could be politicized had been. Bloch uncovered a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Rove aide J. Scott Jennings to employees of the General Services Administration that "listed Democrats the White House has targeted for defeat in 2008," according to a letter sent on July 17 to White House Political Affairs Director Sara Taylor by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Now Bloch is reaping all he has sown, resulting in an F.B.I. raid on his office on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post:
Agents fanned out yesterday morning in the agency's building on M Street, where they sequestered Office of Special Counsel chief Scott J. Bloch for questioning, served grand-jury subpoenas on 17 employees and shut down access to computer networks in a search lasting more than five hours.
The matter being investigated? Bloch's politicization of his office.

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