Monday, July 30, 2007

Celebrating on This Side of the Pond

Why can't we have a National Orgasm Week?

There You Are, Chelsea Clinton!

I was just thinking to myself last week about the fact that very little has been heard from or about Chelsea Clinton since Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for the White House began. Well, the New York Times seems to have found her. They managed to tell me about her clothing:

At a benefit last month for the School of American Ballet, on whose board she serves, Ms. Clinton seemed as hardworking as the other attendees did festive. Most of the women her age wore bright gowns and bare skin, but Ms. Clinton wore a dark pantsuit, her hair smoothed and fastened into a strawberry-blond sheet.
her makeup:

Ms. Clinton seems acutely aware that others are always observing her; classmates at Stanford noticed that she was always in full makeup, as if she expected to be photographed at any moment.
her fitness:

(More recently, she exercised with a personal trainer who specializes in pageant contestants.)
and what she's doing now:

But after Oxford, Chelsea Clinton signed up with McKinsey, a consulting company known as an elite business training corps. She was the youngest in her class, hired at the same rank as those with M.B.A. degrees.
This doesn't really tell me very much about her, but what I gathered from the article is that she prefers to be somewhat of a reclusive figure. I'm sure she's tired of growing up in the spotlight. I'm sure she knows that her mother's campaign has once again will cause things like, for instance, the NYT to write articles about her.

In a lot of ways I'm extremely jealous of Chelsea Clinton. She has the potential to do pretty much anything she wants. What she wants, however, may be just to be a regular person.

Something Really Horrifying

This is some really horrifying stuff, and not for the weak of stomach (via Mark):

I spoke with a 10-year old girl at the hospital, who had been abducted together with her parents. She had to have an emergency operation, because the perpetrators had rammed a stick into her genital organs.

I'm so glad I don't live there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Totally Hot Biker Chicks

The NYTimes notes today that women are buying a lot more Harleys. I think this hits the nail on the head:
Genevieve Schmitt, who runs the Web site, said the growth in women bikers reflected that “more women are rising up corporate ladders, women are earning bigger paychecks, more women are remaining single — so they have a say in where their leisure dollars go.” Her site, started in February 2006, now draws 111,000 visitors a month.
Besides, who wouldn't want to have a big piece of machinery between your legs?

This is also an excellent opportunity to tell the story of a crazy biker on the Jersey Turnpike who popped wheelies at more than 70 mph and only slowed down -- to send a text message.

"Commander In Chief" Meets "24"

Via Zengerle. The next season of "24" is rumored to have a female president. Aside from the obvious timing with Sen. Clinton as the frontrunner, I have yet to see a show portray a female president well. Now I'm not a particularly big fan of "24" since I've only seen snippets of the show, but after suffering through ABC's "Commander In Chief" (which was killed pretty quickly), I long for a smart, political show that portrays female leadership well. Maybe this is because we have pitifully few real-life models to look at.

Debate Recap

The thing about debates is, if you already like a candidate, how they respond to questions will do little to change your mind. I really liked the format. Although Matt thinks the new format did little to change squirming politicians, I think it's refreshing that people could ask the questions for a change. The bottom line is that debates do little to change individual perspectives, but they're a good chance for discussion about where a candidate stands to be launched back into the public forum. Some things I liked and didn't like:

  • Clinton had a good point. It's refreshing for candidates to be fighting over who can do more form women's rights for a change.
  • The "reparations for slavery" question was interesting to me. I'm always amazed that this is an issue that gets talked about when, if we're going to be handing out reparations, we might as well go all the way back and payout to American Indians, who are objectively the worst off minority. Because they don't have a large enough voting population, though, they're easy to ignore.
  • Given that, I actually thought Obama handled the "reparations" question the best. He's right in that this question is really about equality of opportunity in America today.
  • I was surprised at how little time health care was given in the debate. It was like they knew it was an unpleasant thing for the candidates to deal with, so they just decided to skip over it. I believe it was Dodd who was furious that only the "top tier" candidates were allowed to talk about health care, and rightly so. This is a major issue that deserves a lot more attention than what it got.
  • Anderson Cooper = mmmmmm.
Part of me wonders how it would be if the candidates were forced to focus on one topic in depth. The problem with this, of course, is that the list of topics is endless, but I feel that instead of soundbites, if the candidates really got to dive into the nuances of each issue, it would allow the voters to make a more educated decision.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Minnesota Senate Race Check-In

Well, this is amusing. Franken is tying his rival, Norm Coleman, to Bush. They made sure to mention how much the ad cost ($37,000 -- which is probably the going rate for a full-page ad). It seems to me that Franken should tie Coleman to Bush. After all, Coleman's done a good job of tying himself to Bush himself for years. A family friend visited his office and noticed the abundance of Coleman/Bush photographs that adorned his office. So, in conclusion, this hardly seems like news.

Friday, July 20, 2007

New York, New York!

I'm off this weekend. Ciao!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Anti-Clinton Sentiment

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately about Hillary Rodham Clinton and feminists. For the first time in a long time, identity politics (specifically race, class, and gender) are playing a large role in a presidential election. This, it appears, is a problem. A few months ago, the big question was if a woman could be a feminist and not support Clinton. Today, the question seems to be if she can.

Democratic women favor Clinton over Obama, and by a considerable margin. This hardly seems surprising, since she consistently uses her position as a senator to introduce legislation that is good for feminist causes. The threatening part of this to your average male liberal blogger who supports Edwards (Edwards has the lead among white males with 45 percent, according to an April poll) is that women tend to take the civic responsibility of voting more seriously, even if they don't engage in public discourse as much. Since your typical Edwards supporter (white, male, affluent) has decided that Clinton is the wrong choice, they feel no qualms about telling women their choice to support a particular candidate is "unfortunate."

At a minimum, this kind of language -- especially coming from the male liberals, some of whom have controlled the Democratic party for decades -- feels condescending. At worst, it is patriarchal and sexist. Women, believe it or not, have just as much agency and decision making power in choosing a candidate as men do. What's really unfair about this argument is that the same logic isn't applied to black people that support Obama. It's perfectly okay that they identify with Obama on the basis of his race, but somehow, not okay for women to identify with Clinton on the basis of her gender.

Some of of this has to do with the perceived electability of a candidate in the general election. Some say Clinton running in the general election as the Democratic nominee because they think she would lose in the general election. Although that's a valid fear, there's only marginal evidence to support that Obama would be more competitive than Clinton in a general election against Giuliani. Besides, it's hard to predict this early what would happen in a general.

I guess what it all boils down to is I'm tired of liberal (sometimes very well-meaning dudes) to tell feminists (and I've met several who said they support Clinton privately but not publicly) that they are making the wrong or "unfortunate" choice. I've also heard liberals blaming feminists for giving an election to Rudy Giuliani that hasn't even happened yet. So lay off, okay? Women can make decisions, too.

Iota and the Junior League

On Tuesday I went to Iota, which is a place that lies across the river in Virginia and is -- despite popular sentiments about said commonwealth -- actually cool. (As are, for the record, Galaxy Hut and Dr. Dreamos.) What's good about Iota is it is actually a good venue with great sound. I went there to see the Junior League (No, not that one. This one.)

As a good friend, the band members, and Wikipedia all inform me, a junior league is a charitable women's organization that is usually based in the South. A band member described them as anti-Mason. Basically they started out as a group of women whose husbands were powerful and they viewed the opportunity as an outlet for their charity work. Obviously, such organizations are a symptom of a patriarchal society, where women do the charity and support work and men hold the real positions of power. The modern-day Junior League International site defines their mission as "promoting voluntarism" (i.e. people that can afford not to work).

Some of their "notable members" are pretty impressive (especially Sandra Day O'Connor). This makes me think of a larger point about ambitious women in high-income brackets, historically and otherwise. These women, although likely proponents of women's leadership because they have access to a lot of money and connections to power, would instead create parallel, less-powerful structures that they could have complete ownership over, rather than challenging the patriarchal system and demanding to be treated as equals. They've perpetuated a system in which "women's" professions are volunteer and low-paid. And that is a price we are all paying for today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

White Like Me

Dana has an excellent postmortem analysis of Ruth Frankenberg's work. I think her conclusion that race and ethnicity are two distinctly different things is right, but many people classify them as the same thing. While ethnicity is harder to define, it has more to do with culture and upbringing (the invisible factors) than race does. Race is easier to classify on the objective level, so for the purposes of studies, they often classify people by race. I would venture to guess that, for example, many people may identify racially as Hispanic, but ethnically as Latino. But then, I am neither, so it really is just a guess. This is why there's volumes of research to do still on race and ethnic studies. They can both influence your lives to an enormous degree, but in different ways. I've noticed, though, that some people mask talking about race by pretending to talk about ethnicity. They'll make passing observations about about ethnicity based on walking by someone, but really, what they mean is race. There's no way to tell ethnicity by just looking at someone, since I believe it has a lot more to do with experience.

México Violento

Today the BBC reports that violence has sparked in Mexico, and it's the bloodiest it's gotten this year. The violence appears to be over the Guelaguetza festival, which locals say shouldn't be commercialized for tourists, and is scheduled for next week. I've commented before on how Mexico is getting to be an unpleasant place to live. I would supposed administration officials would call it the "birth pains of democracy" but the truth is that the United States and Mexico are intertwined on so many levels that our continued state of ignoring what happens south of the border and only pay attention to what comes north of the border will bite us in the ass one day.


The AP is reporting that Jim Nicholson, the secretary of veterans affairs, just resigned due to pressure from the Walter Reed scandal. A November 2005 Fox News interview revealed that he said he "often" visited Walter Reed with his wife, and even went so far as to say:

And the thing [veterans] -- they actually tug my arm on and say, Secretary, there's one thing you could do for me. And that is, could you get me back to my unit? They have been over there. They have now seen the media coverage of this war. And they see the differences. And they have seen all the good things that are going on over there and the progress that's been made. And they feel very good about what they were doing. And they - - they want to go back. Some of them have -- wounded so badly, they will never be able to go back. But that's what they want to do.

As touching as his spin is, many returning soldiers faced grossly inadequate care at Walter Reed. At least someone is resigning for incompetence.

UPDATE: Although the early AP wire report said that the resignation was due to the Walter Reed scandal, it appears that the reasons for his resignation were far more diverse than originally reported. Now, the story points to the missing data files from the VA, and a statement just released from Rep. Phil Hare attributes the resignation to "a disability claims backlog of 600,000, staffing shortages at our vet centers, and ongoing challenges at Walter Reed and other medical facilities that care for our wounded soldiers."

Although the Walter Reed isn't a VA hospital, the scandal has given attention to how veterans are treated. While the VA has good care, it's been severely understaffed and underfunded in recent years, especially in light a of a new generation of veterans that will return with wounds on the inside as well as the outside.

--Kay Steiger

Cross-posted at TAPPED.

Surrender Those Organs!

England's top doctor says everyone should automatically be put in for organ donation unless they opt out. Although this seems a little fascist -- compelling people to surrender organs -- but there is an opt out function. I never really understood why people were so attached to their postmortem organs anyway. What are you going to do with them? Granted, some religions have a preference for burying bodies whole, which I completely understand. But the majority of religions are silent on this topic. So why not extend the life of someone else if you can't use your organs any more?

In America, we have a check-yes-or-no option for organ donation on drivers' licenses, but what if you don't have a driver's license? In most cases, actually, it doesn't matter if you make it clear on your license or in your will. The remaining family members have the right to make that decision, no matter what your wishes in life were.

This was extremely frustrating when my (now deceased) younger sister was waiting for an organ transplant. The longer she waited, the more organs she needed and the likelihood of success when down. As she inched near the top of the list, we knew that some families may just be choosing to bury their children who died in unexpected accidents without even considering organ donation. My sister died on the waitlist, like many others even today, but now that I've been on that side of it, I'd say, Please, if you can use my organs, by all means, take them.

Monday, July 16, 2007


This story cracks me up:

In April, the McCainiacs gathered at the Tabu Ultra Lounge ... [where] "Stunning models/servers tempt with nouveau classic cocktails. This is the forbidden world of Tabú, where only one rule applies: anything goes. Are you ready for a nightspot that's too hot to touch?"

The campaign dropped nearly $30K on the nightclub scene, but to no avail. Wonder if he wore a "gay" sweater to the event?

--Kay Steiger

Cross-posted at TAPPED.


The House Oversight Committee has scheduled a hearing on Pat Tillman's death for August 1. They've invited Donald Rumsfeld (among others) to testify. Should be quite an event.

Finding out who knew what about Tillman's death is significant on a variety of levels, not the least being that the government-led cover-up of the circumstances surrounding his killing (he was hit by friendly fire) show the lengths to which the administration was willing to go to keep the war in Iraq PR-friendly for as long as possible. Beyond that, focusing on how the truth about his death was cynically sacrificed during the war helps legitimize the veteran-based segments of the anti-war movement -- was the government really supporting the troops when it lied about a soldier in order to make him a PR prop?

And finally, there's something increasingly universal in the Tillman family's story. A letter from Tillman's brother -- who also enlisted -- published late last year indicates that both the brothers had reservations about enlisting to serve in the war. Tillman's mother has become an outspoken opponent of the war, blaming the DoD for covering up what really happened with her son's death.

In many ways, the Tillman family represents a lot of Americans whose visceral, post-9/11 patriotism led them to support the Iraq War, but who've grown deeply disillusioned with the conflict as they've seen its trajectory. With the attention to his death that the hearing will bring, Tillman may become a symbol for why regular Americans -- not just lefties -- now stand against the war, and against the lies that have been used to perpetuate it.

-- Kay Steiger

Cross-posted at TAPPED.

Bigger Mosquito

With every amount of respect for the pain that Brian is going through, DC ain't got shit on rural Minnesota when it comes to mosquitoes. The running joke is that they're the state bird.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

On Bush

Bush's press conference (video) today offered his own versions of benchmarks in Iraq:

1. Liberation from Saddam Hussein
2. Return of Sovereignty to Iraqi People
3. Escalation of a Civil War
4. The Surge*

I've noticed that both Bush and Democrats tend to point at Iraqis and say that they aren't doing enough to create security in Iraq. Politicians are rarely willing or able to take ownership of the situation there. I just recently finished reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City, and I have to say: both the Generals and the CPA, as well as the *illustrious* L. Paul Bremer made a lot of mistakes, and that doesn't even include the massive mistake to go into Iraq in the first place.

Bush's report today concludes results in Iraq following the surge are "mixed," but it's hard to see the upside of increased body counts.

Money quote: "As the commander-in-chief of the greatest military ever, I have an obligation -- a sincere and serious obligation -- to hear out my commander on the ground." (emphasis mine)

*Which is absolutely working.

UPDATE: A British coroner says that solders' deaths due to friendly fire are completely "avoidable".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I can still hear the twang

I took a mini-vacation back to Minnesota this weekend. The Minneapolis part of the vacation was awesome, but the part were I went to my hometown -- not so awesome. (Yeah, that little part on the top? That's Canada.) There are precisely five bars, but only two that people actually go to. If you're into a too-loud band playing renditions of Offspring, the Rusty nail is your spot. On the upside, well drinks only cost $2.75. I thought surely there had been some mistake.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Virtual G.I. Joe

Think Progress noted that the Army is using violent video games as recruiting tools. Hardly surprising. But the catch is the nature of these games. A new one features the "'curb stomp, which involves characters in the game crushing an opponent’s skull with their boot." Talk about gruesome. Studies have begun to indicate that violent video games can result in "having more aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors." I'm not saying that we should take away Johnny's (and in most cases, it's boys that are playing these games) GTA3, but rather that we should think about what the role of these games is. If we're using these games to recruit killers, then should we be so surprised when young boys show up in our classrooms with guns? The rule isn't hard and fast. Most young boys use these games and grow up to be fine young men, and some of the classroom killers didn't really play video games. What we're seeing here is a correlation, not necessarily a causation. This can be an indicator that someone is prone to violent behavior.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

This Blog is Rated R

Online Dating

Hell House

I finally saw the Hell House documentary (yes, I know, it's ancient in the world of blogs) but I was struck by several things as I watched it:
  • There was a tendency to depict victims as sinners. For example, a woman during the "rave scene" was slipped a roofie and then gang raped. Later on, another scene depicts that the same woman was a victim of sexual abuse from her father as a child. It's then that she commits suicide. They later make it clear that this woman is going to hell. But the woman has done nothing wrong -- she has merely been the victim of a number of different kinds of sexual violence. What of the men who drugged and gang raped her? What of her father that took advantage of her as a child? Their fates aren't even addressed.
  • A definite homophobia runs throughout the movie. The Hell House depicts a young gay man dying of AIDS, but the documentary also depicts an early planning meeting where one woman suggests depicting a lesbian picking up another woman in a bar. The director (pastor?) says no to this because he is afraid that two women depicting lesbianism will begin to have feelings for each other.
  • That same leader midway through the movie describes the origins of the Pentecostal church. It began under the rebellion of a black bishop, he said, who wanted to emphasize the relation to the holy spirit, rather than the dry readings, but in 1914 several members of the church were "uncomfortable" with worshiping under a black bishop, so they started their own denomination. Even the modern church had few minorities, and those minorities that were present were happy to play racial stereotypes of the violent gang Mexican, for example.
  • The incident of adultery was depicted with an Internet love affair. God forbid! The Internet is evil ...
  • Something a friend who had seen the movie before me pointed out was that the young women in Hell House competed to be the young woman who had the abortion. (By the way, they call out medicated abortion as the source of the bleeding and death for this young woman, but RU-486 doesn't cause that kind of reaction, especially when taken with the direction of a doctor, so this woman is actually a better example for pro-choice than for anti-choice, since a young woman is more likely to die from an abortion when she is attempting to do so without medical supervision.)
The movie itself was done well, with no editorializing or voiceovers. The director simply lets the people speak for themselves. Even though the movie is a bit outdated, I would recommend people still see it if they haven't already.
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