September 18, 2014

"So, the woman perhaps most responsible for putting the phrase 'war on women' into the political bloodstream is also now responsible for taking the rhetoric too far."

Writes Nia-Malika Henderson in a WaPo piece titled "How gender mattered in the rise and fall of Debbie Wasserman Schultz."

The "too far" incident is the one we discussed here on September 3rd: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz says: 'Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand' and 'What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.'" And, the next day: "The violent imagery deployed against Scott Walker by Debbie Wasserman Shultz is gendered — it's domestic violence." ("Wasserman Schultz can be accused of subtly purveying a rape metaphor.")

We've also been discussing Wasserman Schultz's problems in this post from last night: "Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes," in which I say: "She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her?"

"Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant...."

"Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data...."
"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its Web site. "So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Apple doesn't know our passcodes? 

"Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action."

"Clemson is requiring students and faculty to complete an online course through a third party website that asks invasive questions about sexual history."
“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.

“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another....

“I don’t know what they’re doing with the data, but I’ve been told time and time again that the data that they are collecting, they aren't analyzing or using the data for anything, so then I don’t understand why they’re asking the questions either,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the university, went on to say.
Sex and coercion.

"This dramatic announcement marks a sad and grim turn to the [Toronto Mayor Rob] Ford story, which always mixed tragic elements with heavy doses of the comic and the surreal."

"These are the sort of dark reversals of fortune which probably haunt all of us, either about our loved ones or ourselves. I would feel remiss not saying that this latest development somehow continues the surreal nature of this man's public story, larger than life, almost operatic in its improbability and drama, almost difficult to even believe."

Josh Marshall, having had his fun with Ford, seems to feel a need to perform in the Theater of Purple Prose. Me, I've always ignored Ford. I didn't care to amuse myself with him when he was supposedly so amusing. Now, we learn he is one of the millions of human beings with cancer alive in the world today, and there's nothing I would "feel remiss not saying." If there was, I guarantee I wouldn't use that phrase.

ADDED: Getting cancer is not "operatic in its improbability." It may be improbable in the sense that it's more likely than not that you don't have cancer, but the likelihood is enough that there's nothing "operatic" about your number coming up. Maybe Josh Marshall is thinking of opera because of the stereotype that opera singers are fat and Rob Ford is both fat and afflicted with cancer of the fat.

Why the U.S. opposes Scottish independence (though we can't say much about it).

CNN's Kevin Liptak explains.
All of Britain's nuclear weapons -- its only contribution to a Western nuclear deterrent -- are housed at the Royal Navy's base on Scotland's West Coast. A "yes" vote would throw into question the future of the Trident nuclear program, which consists of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with ballistic missiles on lease from the United States....

Also in dispute: an independent Scotland's ability -- and willingness -- to contribute to Western military coalitions, which have become ever-more visible as the U.S. rallies support behind its efforts against Russia and ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria....

In rejoining [NATO] Scotland would need to commit to spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending, which given the uncertain economic outcome of an independence vote appears unachievable....

Perhaps the greatest fear for the United States is that a successful independence movement in Scotland could spark further movements in the rest of Europe. Potential breakaway regions in Spain and Belgium are already eyeing the Scottish vote carefully.
ADDED: "Is it really imaginable today that if part of the United States genuinely wanted to secede, it would be stopped with the kind of violence we saw in the American Civil War?"

"Even as a child, I didn't understand why Darren was so against using the magic."

Wrote MayBee in the comments to last night's post marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of "Bewitched." I answered:
It's an allegory of relations between the sexes. Darren wants to provide for his wife and protect her. He can't do that if she has powers, or so he thinks. Instead of working together to find a new way to live in which the woman can use her full powers and the man can still feel empowered, he forbade her to use them and she tried to live like that, but she nevertheless acted out on her frustration from time to time, though only to help make their traditional life together work out.

"When parties of males encounter single individuals from other communities, they sometimes launch brutal assaults that leave victims gravely wounded or dead."

It's in their nature, those chimpanzees.

"If our parents had not forced us to marry at such a young age, our lives would be so different."

"Recently I spoke to a school friend who told me he was going to engineering college. The news left me feeling ashamed and pitiful.... would have liked to have gone to engineering school. If we were allowed to finish our educations, Rajkumari and I would have learned about family planning. Maybe I would have gone to college. Forcing children to marry doesn’t just push them deeper into poverty and threaten their health. It crushes their ambitions—whether they are girls or boys."

From "The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms."

"Reading insecurity. It is the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to."

"It is deploring your attention span and missing the flow, the trance, of entering a narrative world without bringing the real one along. It is realizing that if Virginia Woolf was correct to call heaven 'one continuous unexhausted reading,' then goodbye, you have been kicked out of paradise."

But you won't read the whole thing. You've just enjoyed this juicy morsel, and who wants Virginia Woolf's heaven anyway? Maybe my next morsel is better than reading that whole thing, that whole thing that's about reading the whole thing. I might satisfy you with something sharper and clearer, like: If Virginia Woolf really thought heaven was sitting around reading continuously, why didn't she stay in her room reading instead of heading out to drown herself?

Enough! That's all I want to say here. I've got another blog post to write. Up there, above this. It's a better place, I'm sure.

September 17, 2014

Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes.

Politico reports.
Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe. In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop....  One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Wasserman Schultz denies it. But what's going on here? Who are these sources that have it in for Debbie? She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her? It is a gender-based attack, don't you think? Is a woman behind this attack? The only name I see named is Valerie Jarrett. What's up with the Democratic Party? If you make women your stock in trade, you'd better watch out for women against women.

"A fetching suburban house­witch in the person of Elizabeth Montgomery ar­rived on the television screen last night in a series entitled 'Bewitched.'"

For "last night," read: 50 years ago tonight.
Both Miss Montgomery and [Dick] York are extremely at­tractive and personable and there is a durable element of fun in watching someone out of this world solve life's mundane problems by making them go away with a snap of the fingers or a twitch of the mouth....

Agnes Moorehead is play­ing Miss Montgomery's moth­er and, with more substan­tial scenes in the installments to come, should be a reward­ing figure as a senior witch given to disdain for human ways. “Bewitched” promises to be a bright niche of popu­lar TV.
And so it was, for 8 years. Note that the above-quoted NYT review accurately says "twitch of the mouth." We were tricked, perhaps by witchcraft, into thinking we were looking at a twitch of the nose.

MORE: Thoughts on why Darren didn't accept Samantha's use of witchcraft here.

"Remember that copyright litigation between Marvin Gaye and the folks behind Blurred Lines?"

"Well, Pharrell and Robin Thicke's depositions have now been made public, and let's just say that they perhaps didn't go so well...."

Joe Biden emails: "Hold your breath, Ann."

Yes, it's just another email from Who knows who decides which Democrat's name to use to heighten the impression that I'm getting personal attention? But these creepy subject lines!  "Hold your breath, Ann." And 2 days ago, I got one "from" Barack Obama with the subject line: "Almost out of time, Ann."

And the thing is: It's meant to be scary. Not scary in the way these words seem most clearly to evoke, like someone is trying to kill me. But scary in the sense that I'm supposed to feel threatened by the possibility that Republicans will win in the fall elections.

And by the way, where's the trigger alert? What if I — like many of the women pandered to by the Democrats' gender politics — was afraid of some stalker ex-boyfriend? Glancing at "Almost out of time, Ann" or "Hold your breath, Ann" in my inbox would horrify me. What the hell is wrong with these people? Where's the empathy?

"Deeply... it's such a poser word."

Said Meade, reading the previous post "The NYT poll reports terrible numbers for Democrats, but calls the Republcian Party 'deeply unpopular.'" It made me wish I'd had a tag on the word "deeply" all along. It's a metaphor, creating an image of abstract concepts in space. Where are you when you are "deeply in love"? There are so many trite usages — deeply in love, deeply disappointed, deeply religious, thinking deeply, deeply troubled, deeply concerned, deeply offended, deeply regret — and "deeply" is deeply embedded in constitutional law doctrine with the phrase "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." But I'm interested in seeing how is "deeply" is deployed in various political and cultural statements, so I've searched this blog's archive, and here's the best of what I found:

1. "Beauty is a system of power, deeply rooted, preceding all others, richly rewarded," wrote Garace Franke-Ruta, explaining "Why Obama's 'Best-Looking Attorney General' Comment Was a Gaffe."

2. "During the period when [Althouse] rose to blogging prominence, conservatism as an ideology was deeply discredited and unpopular.... But if you look at her whole body of work, you can't escape the conclusion that she's deeply conservative."

3. Sarkozy said "I deeply enjoy the work" (of being President of France), and I said: "Wouldn't it be amusing if some day, a President resigned because he just wasn't enjoying the work — not deeply, anyway?"

4. Talking about libertarians, I said: "I am struck... by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe."

5. Last May, Tina Brown said: "Now that Chelsea is pregnant, and life for Hillary can get so deeply familial and pleasant, she can have her glory-filled post-presidency now, without actually having to deal with the miseries of the office itself..."

6. This John Stuart Mill passage came up in the context of a discussion about free speech: "Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

7. Something President Bush said in 2006: "It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another. I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about."

8. "Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile." [SEE ALSO: the use of "deeply personal" to refer to Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in a case about affirmative action. I find it deeply interesting when a woman's interest in an important issue is called "deeply personal." I'm reminded of the old feminist slogan "The personal is political," which I'm inclined to jocosely reword: "The deeply personal is deeply political."]

9. Somebody called Dahlia Lithwick "deeply frivolous" for what she said about the Supreme Court case known as "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," and I said: "I mean, if I were stoned I might be fascinated by the phrase 'deeply frivolous,' but I don't think Carney meant to divert us into contemplating an oxymoron."

10. A sociologist said: "I live on puns and snide, sarcastic asides. I don't look too deeply into myself or anyone else...  I drink a lot, take recreational drugs, don't care about much except being clever. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and while I am eager to have sex, which I do often given the zillions of available women in New York, the sex is not especially fulfilling, and emotions rarely enter the picture. I am deeply shallow. And I know it."


11. One of Hillary Clinton's most famous quotes: "This video is disgusting and reprehensible.  It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."

12. A self-professed liberal says: "the liberal commitment to Roe has been deeply unhealthy — for American democracy, for liberalism, and even for the cause of abortion rights itself....  Roe puts liberals in the position of defending a lousy opinion that disenfranchised millions of conservatives on an issue about which they care deeply while freeing those conservatives from any obligation to articulate a responsible policy that might command majority support...."

The NYT poll reports terrible numbers for Democrats, but calls the Republcian Party "deeply unpopular."

Check out all the numbers and consider the wording of the intro to the poll:
A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

A deeply unpopular Republican Party is nonetheless gaining strength heading into the midterms, as the American public’s frustration with Mr. Obama has manifested itself in low ratings for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism.
I'm thinking that the NYT loathes the GOP so much — the GOP is "deeply unpopular" at the NYT — that even when the poll numbers show the unpopularity of the Democratic Party, it feels compelled to say that the GOP is deeply unpopular, even though saying that raises the inference that the Democratic Party must be really unpopular to be more unpopular than the deeply unpopular GOP. And yet there's still some hope that the unpopularity of the Democratic Party is, perhaps, not deep.

Maybe the unpopularity of the Democratic Party is a transitory surface phenomenon, like some very itchy rash, while the unpopularity of the Republicans is more like arthritis, bad, but this rampant rash is driving us crazy, so if you ask us right now what's bothering us, it's that damned rash, but the rash will clear up and the arthritis will never go away.

"In the morning, it starts at home with champagne or red wine before 10am, then again champagne."

"Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, champagne, beer and more pastis at around 5pm, to finish off the bottle. Later on, vodka and/or whisky. But I’m never totally drunk, just a little p*****d. All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of rose wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy. Anyway, I’m not going to die. Not now. I still have energy."

Boasts Gerard Depardieu, who is 65, has had a quintuple bypass, and — tellingly — owns a vineyard.

Do school dress codes rules about covering body parts discriminate illegally against female students?

At The Guardian, Jessica Valenti has an article about the high school dress code rebellion we talked about here. Her piece is titled "How many young women can a school legally punish for dress code violations? Singling out female students for humiliation and discipline because of their sex is a blatant violation of federal law."
Let’s be honest: rules for boys that prohibit certain kinds of jewelry or hoodies have nothing to do with their sexuality, whereas rules that seek to literally cover women’s bodies absolutely do.
There's a link to the actual dress code, PDF, where you can see that the rules are written in a gender-neutral form. "No... hoodies" restricts males and females. "No... accessories with metal spikes" — which I take it is the jewelry rule referred to — applies to males are females. "No visible undergarments" is a rule that might aim more at males than females, and it's a matter of opinion whether low slung pants with undershorts showing has anything to do with male sexuality.

"No low-cut blouses, tube/halter tops, midriff tops" does very strongly imply restriction on females specifically, but it's a matter of opinion whether young women making a special display of their breasts has something to do with their sexuality. (I'm thinking of statements from "SlutWalk"-type protesters and advocates of public nursing.) "No short-shorts, mini-skirts" refers almost entirely to females, but I suspect that many girls would be upset to hear that these fashion choices were expressions of sexuality, rather than fashion and comfort choices. (I know I was upset when confronted with this theory by my junior high school principal, explaining my miniskirt to me in 1965).

But I do get the point that the relevant sexuality could be in the minds of the rule-makers, and the covering up of females is part of a long and continuing tradition of controlling sexual behavior. The girl might not think she's doing anything related to sex when she wears short shorts on a hot day, but the authorities may worry that she's stirring sexual feelings in other students. (That's what I learned from the vice principal in 1965.)

Valenti continues:
The rules are so disproportionate...
An "if" would help that phrase.
... they could be a violation of Title IX, the federal law that ensures non-discrimination in educational environments. Alexandra Brodsky, co-founder of Know Your IX, ... explained that dress code violators could argue that they are being targeted precisely because of their sex: rules about short shorts or spaghetti strap tank tops are aimed directly at women’s attire.
The rules actually don't mention "spaghetti straps." The rule is "No tank tops," and boys do wear tank tops. I had to ask the internet "do boys wear short shorts," and I got: "Who Wears Short Shorts? Guys Wear Short Shorts!"

Back to Valenti:
There is also an argument to be made, Brodsky said, that targeting, humiliating and disciplining of female students could constitute a hostile environment, “making young women feel that the school isn’t for them.”
Interestingly, most school discipline seems to be aimed at boys and to make boys feel that school isn't for them. But maybe dress code rules, unlike rules about getting up out of your seat and pushing and shoving, has a greater impact on girls. It is important for authorities do need to set gender-neutral rules and to enforce them in a gender-neutral fashion. They should send the solid message that all the students are equally valued whether they are male or female.

But Valenti seems to be suggesting something more than that obvious proposition. She seems to say that formal gender neutrality is not enough and that demands for coverage of the flesh are aimed at females or that females have a special expressive interest in revealing their flesh. I don't reject that theory, but I would be more careful about applying it to the specific case of a high school principal demanding that students take reasonable rules seriously.

(And yes, yes, long ago — not as long ago as 1965, but long ago in 2006 — there was a big controversy about a blog post I wrote about the way Jessica Valenti posed in front of a very famous sexual harasser. I am not trying to rake up that old business, but I see the resonance here, and I'm mentioning it to free you from the need you might otherwise feel to remedy a seeming omission.)

September 16, 2014

Fried cheese curds.



Pick a cocktail:


Martin Amis sets his novel in a Nazi concentration camp and his European publishers reject it.

The don't get the Englishman's humor or they think he might be construed as sympathetic to the Nazis or they're squeamish and scared or... it's just not that good.
In France, the storied house Gallimard declined to publish the novel because “it wasn’t very convincing,” said Marie-Pierre Gracedieu....

Mr. Amis said his German publisher, Carl Hanser Verlag, had told him that there were “inconsistencies in the plot” and that it had found the main character, Golo Thomsen, an SS officer, too sympathetic to the Nazi cause...

Piero Salabè, Mr. Amis’s editor at Carl Hanser Verlag, said... “Our decision was based on the book’s contents as well as on economic considerations... [It had] nothing to do with the Holocaust being a sensitive issue in Germany.”....

“The problem with the novel lies in his uninhibited English perception of humor, at least for some German readers,” [wrote the London correspondentfor Allgemeine Zeitung].
Here's the book, "The Zone of Interest." See for yourself... unless you think we're being played by a publicity stunt.

Why won't Kirsten Gillibrand name the men she says harassed her?

She writes in her book that a male labor leader said "You're too fat to be elected statewide" and a male colleague said she was getting "porky," another said she's "even pretty when [she's] fat," and yet another made physical contact and said he liked "chubby" girls. But she won't name names. Let's analyze the possible reasons.

1. She wants to focus attention on the general problem of "how women are treated in the workplace... undervaluing women... and chronically paying them less and treating them poorly and not valuing them." This is the answer she gives, and as a politician, it makes sense to think that she has her issues and she wants issues seen as issues, so individual incidents are supposed to work as examples of the sort of thing that's happening. Specific details would distract us from the big problem and would enable those who oppose her solutions to that problem to find ways to distinguish what happened to her from what she's presenting as the big problem to be solved with the legislation that she, as a politician, would like to promote.

2. She wants to present herself in a good light, so she's filtered the story so that people see her as an ordinary woman who struggled with her weight and got harassed about it, rather than as an extraordinary woman who received an appointment to her seat in the Senate in part because she was a woman — because she was replacing a woman, Hillary Clinton — and because she had excellent feminine attractiveness. Did any male even have a chance? Which fatter, homelier women did she perhaps beat out? But, no, men commented on her post-pregnancy weight gain and that was good material to use to help us relate to her and to think that she understands us and our problems.

3. If she named the men, she'd have to tell the whole story, and we'd have to see things from their perspective too. The nameless men were mean to her, but if she named them, she might seem mean. Was she unfair? What was the actual context? Maybe it was a friendly, chummy environment where everyone teases everyone else and it was part of being considered one of the guys. Maybe she had drawn attention to her weight gain and expressed worry about it and they were mirroring her remarks supportively or just saying they like her however she looks. Fat is good too! As for the "too fat to be elected statewide," she got the Senate seat by appointment, and she had to be planning for the election, thinking of things she could do, and the subject of doing what she could to improve her appearance would have come up, as it does for all candidates, male and female. We openly talk about whether Chris Christie is too fat to get elected President. Maybe she was getting equal treatment. If we knew the details, we could probe into this, and any dishonesty in her presentation of the incidents could hurt her now.

4. She wants to protect the men she hasn't named. They're her political allies, perhaps quite well-known characters. I think we can assume that they are all Democrats, since we haven't heard otherwise and she probably would have taken the opportunity to ding Republicans, and since Republicans would be more likely to maintain formal politeness with her and not to assume that they could take liberties.

5. Maybe it didn't happen. There are no names named because there are no names to name.

Pick all that you think are probably true. free polls