Friday, January 30, 2009

RNC elects first African-American chairman

It's Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland.

Hope he sends Barack Obama a thank-you note.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Romensko changes disgusting headline about Couric

This morning, the Romenesko blog, famous among journalists for its coverage of da biz, featured a link to Tom Shales' Washington Post piece about Katie Couric:

Another tongue-bath for Couric
This time from Shales.

When your blogstress returned from her lunchtime stroll, the hed was a bit more demure:

More love for Couric
This time from Shales.

Apparently, when a male writer expresses appreciation for the work of a woman in a man's job, it's almost like he's licking her -- until some editor comes to his senses.

Alas, your Webwench did not perform a screen-save of the original hed. You'll just have to take her word for it.

UPDATE: The "tongue bath" phrase comes from a blog post by Bill Wyman that appeared earlier this week on Hitsville, a post played big by Romenesko.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dick Armey, bested by a broad, resorts to sexism

The most astounding exchange just took place on MSNBC's "Hardball" between former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Salon editor Joan Walsh. Host Chris Matthews had engaged the two to discuss the recent outrageous comments by Rush Limbaugh about President Barack Obama.

Matthews played this clip of Limbaugh, in which the radio host says of Obama:

LIMBAUGH: We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.
When Walsh asked why Republicans failed to apologize for Limbaugh's comments, Armey interrupted her: with remarks to the effect of (paraphrase; transcript to come):
I'm lucky you're not my wife, so I don't have to listen to this kind of prattle all day long.
UPDATE: Sam Stein has the transcript at HuffPo
"I'm so damn glad you can never be my wife because I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day," Armey told Walsh, editor-in-chief of "That's what I'm talking about -- she's making a political malarkey here."

"Boy...that makes two of us sir," Walsh replied. "That was really an outstanding comment."
Even Matthews seemed stunned. Walsh said the feeling was mutual, but that Armey's comments were uncalled-for.

Matthews failed to call Armey out in that segment, but in the next, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert raised the issue, saying that Armey owes Walsh and Matthews' viewers an apology. Matthews concurred that the "gender aspect" of Armey's comments were beyond the pale.

Will update as transcript and clips become available.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Speaking of singers

"...interpretive skills generally gain in the course of a life well abused."


Bono often annoys the crap out of me, but the man can write. Here's his first column for the New York Times op-ed section.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rick Warren steps up

He may not have offered the most profound prayer we ever heard, but Rick Warren, the right-wing preacher from California, offered a prayer at yesterday's presidential inauguration that was designed to bring people together. For this, he will surely take some heat from among the more political preachers of the right.

Your blogstress is thankful for favors, small and less so...

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Big doin's, inauguration-style

It's been a busy week for your blogstress. Her adopted city hums with the excitement of the impending inauguration of Barack Obama, and given the prime location of her Oppo Factory on Capitol Hill, she has become suddenly popular.

That aside, there have been no small measure of serious matters to which she must attend. First up: the promised repeal of the ban on queer folk in the military, which Barack Obama's spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, affirmed again last week, only to say a few days later that what he really meant to say is that they would get to it eventually.

At The Guardian's Comment Is Free site, your cybertrix makes the case for proceeding sooner rather than later:


The Rick Warren controversy, it seems, continues to roil. Tomorrow your écrivaine will discuss, with Mary Glenney on WMNF in Tampa, her own process for coping with the presence of bigotry on the inaugural platform, even as we welcome our first African-American president.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Last Chance Harvey Sweetly Maddening

The best thing about the film, Last Chance Harvey, is the acting. What's not to like about a cast such as this: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Aitken, Richard Schiff, Kathy Baker? Then there's the added bonus of seeing an actress of your blogstress's vintage playing a romantic lead. How often does that happen?

Joel Hopkins's script manages to give off warm and fuzzy feelings despite the fact that it hangs together by only the thinnest of threads. We are asked to suspend disbelief and curiosity throughout the film. Never are we to truly know why the Hoffman character's daughter possesses such contempt for him that she pushes him to the very margins or her wedding. "I wasn't a good father," is about all Harvey Shine, the character played by Hoffman, gives us to chew on, and the script nowhere fills in the blanks.

Following the travails of Shine, a washed-up musician on the verge of losing his jingle-writing job, we are asked to believe that jingles are still written afresh for commercials. Honestly, when's the last time you heard a new advertising jingle? The rule these days is the recycling of pop hits, a la Swiffer's obnoxious "Baby Come Back" campaign, wherein a discarded mop is given the status of a jilted suitor, and Swiffer the lucky gal's new, improved lover. Dwell on that a minute, mes amis, and you have an assumption not unlike Hopkins' -- that Kate Walker (Emma Thompson's character) should count herself luck to win a soon-to-be unemployed 60-something guy who is completely estranged from his family. If a cleaning tool stands in for a lover, then surely a self-involved schlub can stand in for Prince Charming.

Hopkins' lead characters are constantly on their cell phones yet, despite their interest in each other, neither ever asks the other for a number.

The story relies on the sublimated artistic inclinations of both characters, but only reveals Harvey's talent -- in a scene where he woos Kate Walker, the Thompson character, back to him by showing off at the piano keyboard. This after he has dissed her by essentially ignoring her at a party.

Later, we learn that the big hurt in Kate's life has to do with an exercise of her own autonomy. Had the rest of the film not been designed to generate sympathy for Harvey because of the mean women in his life, Kate's regret would have seemed more honest.

You will be forgiven, dear reader, for assuming your écrivaine did not enjoy this film. Actually, however, I rather liked it. Emma Thompson is delightful. And Dustin Hoffman is adorable. In fact, I seem to have a thing for Hoffman, even in -- or perhaps especially in -- his roles as the jerk. The Graduate, Kramer v. Kramer, now Last Chance Harvey: they each make less than flattering statements about women, and the first two are downright poisonous. But he's so cute!

Excusez-moi; it's time for my pill.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Stop the presses: SoapBlox not dead!

You'll recall, dear reader, yesterday's madness about the meltdown at SoapBlox, a Web host for a number of progressive blogs, which was hacked by no-one-knows-who. There was much drama, as Paul Preston, SoapBlox's founder and keeper, prematurely declared his enterprise dead -- only to have a raft of contributors cry "Say it ain't so!" and contribute, via blog comments and other electronic means of communications, ways to salvage his servers.

All that may make this seem like less of a story than we originally thought (panicked visions of site files lost forever seemed to be coming true), but today's more sober assessment by Preston strikes your cybertrix as even more troubling than the original fear:

Starting on Tuesday, some of the SoapBlox servers were infiltrated by a currently unknown source for unknown reasons.

SSH access was acquired by the hackers, where they were able to install port scanning scripts on to the machines. SoapBlox servers were then being used to scan other servers across the Internet, looking for vulnerabilities.

The disruption of service was caused by our ISP disconnecting the affected servers when they became aware of the port scanning.
In other words, this was an attempt at a much larger attack, that would have affected far more than the impressive list of lefty blogs hosted by SoapBlox. Had SoapBlox's internet service provider (ISP) not pulled the plug on its service, much of the vast liberal cybersphere could have been infiltrated.

Very creepy.

Is the FBI working on this?

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Progressive Web hosting service hacked to death

UPDATE #2: SoapBlox seems to be backing off its announcement of its own demise, though the site's communicator, who posts under the handle "pacified", still doesn't seem to know quite what to do in the face of the Big Hack. He's apparently scrubbed this earlier post from his homepage:

SoapBlox is dead.All these hackers messing with our stuff, and we here at SoapBlox have no clue what to do. We don't have enough knowledge, time, money, or care to fix it.

So I hope the Hackers are happy.

If you want the data from your blog, we will get it. But we are not going to try and restore anything.

Consider this the "We're Out of Business" post.
UPDATE #1: Pam's House Blend is back up; no further word on the fate of SoapBlox. Blue Jersey still down, as is Swing State Project.

Just received word that SoapBlox, a Web-hosting service that caters to progressive sites, has been hacked so severely that it is reported to be dead, leaving a number of sites wondering how they might recover their files -- the content of their sites. Among these sites, sadly, is the wonderful Pam's House Blend , and Stoller's Open Left. While Open Left is part of the SoapBlox community, it appears to be untouched by the hacking.

Here's a list of other SoapBlox sites:
American Liberalism
- AZNetroots (AZ)
- Below Boston
- Be Think
- Bleeding Heartland (IA)
- Blogging for Michigan
- Blogs United
- Blue Forests (WA)
- Blue Hampshire (NH)
- Blue House Diaries
- Blue Indiana
- Blue Jersey
- Blue Mass. Group
- Blue Oklahoma
- Burnt Orange Report
- Calitics (CA)
- Cheap Round Trip
- Cobalt 6
- Encourage Education
- Colorado Pols
- CT Smart Growth
- Daily Kingfish (LA)
- Draft Rick Noriega
- Democratic Central
- Educator Roundtable
- Felicifia
- Fireside 14
- Florida Politics
- Florida Workforce Housing
- Free State Politics (MD)
- FluWiki Community
- Great Education
- GreenMountainDaily (VT)
- Howling Hex
- In A League of Her Own
- Invest Every Month
- Left in Alabama (AL)
- Left in the West (MT)
- nmfbihop (NM)
- MassRevolutionNow
- Michigan Liberal
- MN Campaign Report
- myDedham
- My Left Nutmeg (CT)
- My Left Wing
- Muckraking Mom
- Never in our Names
- Open Left
- Organic American
- Organic Canadian
- Pacific Voices
- Pam's House Blend
- Peace is Active
- Peak Soil
- People's Republic of Florida
- Prairie State Blue (IL)
- Progressive Connection
- Progressive Historians
- Radical Russ
- Raising Kaine (VA)
- Red Mass Group
- Reform Fairfax
- South Carolina '08
- SquareState (CO)
- Swing State Project
- Talking Stoneham
- Texas Kaos
- Texans For Obama
- The Albany Project (NY)
- Tondee's Tavern (GA)
- Truth & Progress
- Turn Maine Blue (ME)
- VT Impeach
- Wasatch Watcher (UT)
- Worldwide Sawdust
- WVa Blue (WV)

And Introducing ...
- Cure This
- Loaded Orygun (OR)
- Maat's Feather
- My Silver State (NV)
- Native American Netroots
- New Nebraska Network (NE)
- Plant's Review of Books
- RI Future (RI)
- Show Me Progress (MO)
- Stand for John
- BlueGrassRoots (KY)
- Docudharma
- SFKossacks
- Daily Delaware (DE)
- Bad Lands Blue (SD)
- Political Flesh Feast
- Mutuality
- West Michigan Rising
- EENRBlog

Special SoapBloxes
- Colorado Confidential
- Iowa Independent
- Minnesota Monitor

Coming soon
- Blue Grass Roots (KY)

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More on Commerce

The great E.J. Graff of the Schuster Center for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis, offers the following suggestions for Secretary of Commerce:

…Carol Goldberg, former CEO of Stop&Shop, major grocery chain in New England

…Rosabeth Moss Kanter, high-flying Harvard Business School prof

…Evelyn Murphy, former Lt. Gov of Massachusetts, Ph.D., economist, author, founder and president of WAGE (Women are Getting Even)

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MoDo hearts Caroline

Maureen Dowd makes your blogstress a bit crazy. When she's good, she's very, very good, and when she's bad she's a very mean lady. Today we find her in good witch mode, promoting the candidacy of Caroline Kennedy for U.S. Senate from the Great State of New York:

People complain that the 51-year-old Harvard and Columbia Law School grad and author is not a glib, professional pol who knows how to artfully market herself, and is someone who hasn’t spent her life glad-handing, backstabbing and logrolling. I say, thank God.

The press whines that she doesn’t have a pat answer about why she wants the job. I’ve interviewed a score of men running for president; not one had a good answer for why he wanted it.
You go, girl!

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Name a woman to Commerce

With Bill Richardson bowing out of the cabinet post to which he was named, an unforeseen opportunity to name another woman to the Obama cabinet. A female Secretary of Commerce would be especially meaningful, given this recent Catalyst study highlighting the paucity of women at the top of corporations (where they comprise 60 percent of the staff).

Who should it be? Geraldine Layborne, former head of Oxygen? Suzanne de Passe, former Motown honcho? How about Esther Dyson, the high-tech genius and venture capitalist?

Name your suggestions. Nature abhors a vacuum, now, doesn't she?

Hat-tip to Jill Zimon of Writes Likes She Talks for word of the Catalyst study via Women's eNews.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Women want stimulus, too!

In our Viagra culture, it does not surprise your blogstress that women could easily be left out of the economic-stimulus-qua-jobs-building program that President-elect Obama has promised us. With their emphasis on infrastructure and green retrofits for job creation, the ideas being batted about appear to heavily favor jobs whose prerequisite skill sets belong largely to men. In the meantime, our health-care and educational infrastructures are also coming undone; these are sectors where women predominate, and little attention has been given to job creation in these human spheres.

Linda Hirshman, with whom your blogstress sparred most vigorously during the primary season, first brought this state of affairs to our attention on the op-ed page of the New York Times not very long ago.

Now, a group of women, including feminist economists, have launched an online petition to the president-elect, politely asking that half of the population be dealt into the new New Deal. Here's the text:

To President-Elect Obama:

We applaud your intention to establish a sizable and productive program that will help to stimulate the economy, and that will provide improved infrastructure for the country. However, we are concerned that, unless specific steps are taken, your program will provide jobs almost exclusively for men. Women are 46 percent of the labor force. Their unemployment rate is rising with that of men. Moreover, many millions of women are raising children without a husband or partner, and unemployment for them will mean great deprivation, and possible homelessness, for them and their children.

We suggest three lines of action that will insure that women get a fair share of the benefits from your program:

1. Revive and enforce the Labor Department regulations that require government contractors to institute affirmative action plans that provide a share of the jobs for women and minorities. Closely monitor the contractors for compliance.

2. In connection with the infrastructure projects, institute apprenticeships, and ensure that at least one third of the positions go to women.

3. Add projects in health, child care, education, social service that will both provide jobs to women, and also provide needed services to them.

Hat-tip to Katha Pollitt for spreading the word.

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